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Title: A Desperate Game - A Comic Drama in One Act
Author: Morton, John Maddison
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A DESPERATE GAME.

A Comic Drama.

IN ONE ACT.

BY
JOHN MADDISON MORTON,
(Member of the Dramatic Authors' Society),

AUTHOR OF

Box and Cox, John Dobbs, The Woman I Adore, A Capital Match,
Your Life's in Danger, Who Stole the Pocket Book? Poor
Pillicoddy, Friend Waggles, Where there's a Will
there's a Way, The Writing on the Wall, Betsy Baker,
Going to the Derby, My precious Betsy, Slasher
and Crasher, The Two Bonnycastles, &c., &c.

THOMAS HAILES LACY,
WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND,
LONDON.



_First performed at the Theatre Royal Adelphi,
on Saturday, April 9th, 1853._

-----

Characters.
CAPTAIN RATCLIFFE            MR. LEIGH MURRAY.
MR. PERCY POSTLETHWAITE      MR. KEELEY.
DAVID                        MR. ROGERS.
MRS. SOMERTON                MISS WOOLGAR.
PEGGY                        MRS. LAWS.

-----

Costumes.

CAPTAIN RATCLIFFE.--Green coat, gilt buttons, light waistcoat, black
trowsers, with over coat, whiskers, and moustache to take off.

POSTLETHWAITE.--Light drab trowsers, fancy waistcoat, blue shooting
coat, green wide-awake. _Second dress:_ Same, muddy.

DAVID.--Old fashioned livery.

MRS. SOMERTON.--Green tarletan ball dress, trimmed with ribbon and
flowers.

PEGGY.--Old fashioned housekeeper's dress.


SCENE--_Tunbridge Wells._

_Time in Representation--55 minutes._



A DESPERATE GAME.

-----

SCENE I.--_A Drawing Room at Mrs. Somerton's; a fire-place at C. with
a bell rope on each side of it; doors R. C. and L. C.; above the door
R. C. a small window; window R. 2 E.; a clock on the mantel-piece; a
work table L., on which is a writing desk; another table in C. of the
stage, with papers, books, &c. strewed on it; chairs, &c., &c.;
another door at R. 2 E. Stage dark. A loud ringing at door bell
heard._

RAT. (_outside_) Now then, my good friend, a little quicker, if you
please. (_enters at door, L. C., in over coat, whiskers, and
moustache; he is closely followed by DAVID, who carries a lantern_)

DAVID. But, zur, zur, don't ye be in such a hurry.

RAT. (_throwing a hasty look round the room, then--aside_) Come, I've
effected an entrance, at all events! so far, so well, provided I'm not
compelled to beat a retreat before I've accomplished my object.
(_walks to various parts of room, examining, &c., &c._)

DAVID. (_all this time examining RATCLIFFE from head to foot with his
lantern--aside_) Well, this be about the free and easiest chap I ever
cut in with; he almost pulls the gate bell down to begin with, and
when I opens the door--thinking in course it's missus come home--in he
walks, and without so much as rubbing his boots on the door mat, tells
me to light him up stairs, at four o'clock in the morning, too.
(_aloud_) Who be ye, zur? I know it don't become a servant to be
inquisitive--so if you'll only tell me who ye be, what ye be, why you
come here, what you want here, where you come from, and a few other
_particklers_, I'll be satisfied and ask no questions.

RAT. (_aside_) I must get rid of this fellow.

DAVID. If you want missus, she be gone from home. She be at a grand
ball, and if she finds you here when she comes home, she'll blow me up
in fine style, as sure as my name's----

RAT. David!

DAVID. (_astonished_) He knows my name!

RAT. (_turning towards DAVID_) Now hark ye, David. There's nothing
more offensive to me, David, than familiarity in a servant, David; but
in consideration, David, of your having only recently entered Mrs.
Somerton's service----

DAVID. He knows that, too.

RAT. And you're being naturally a stupid thick-headed fellow.

DAVID. Dang it, he knows all about me.

RAT. I have no objection to look over it this once, but the next time
it occurs, David, I shall discharge you, David!

DAVID. Discharge me! You? (_suddenly_) Lud a mercy--in course, I know
who 'ee be now!

RAT. (_alarmed_) The devil you do.

DAVID. Ees, you be he.

RAT. Oh! I'm he, am I?

DAVID. Ees. I should have known 'ee again directly, only I never seed
'ee before.

RAT. (_aside_) That's lucky!

DAVID. Why missus has been expecting of you the last three days. It
was only just afore she went out she said to me, "David," said she,
"if my cousin should happen to arrive from London before I get home,
show him every attention," says she!

RAT. (_aside_) Her cousin, egad! he takes me for that simpleton Percy
Postlethwaite; not very complimentary, perhaps, but decidedly lucky!
(_aloud_) Yes, David, here I am, at last; and how is Mrs. Somerton?

DAVID. Mrs. Somerton! is that the way you speak of your cousin? go
along, do. (_poking RATCLIFFE in the side_) Ah! Mr. Percy
Postlethwaite, you be a lucky young chap to get such a wife, I can
tell 'ee.

RAT. (_aside_) Wife! so, so, Mr. Percy Postlethwaite, matters are in a
more forward state than you led me to believe.

DAVID. You'll find supper all ready for 'ee in the library,
(_pointing_) so I'll just light the candles.

RAT. By all means, David. (_aside_) He does'nt know me.

DAVID. (_while lighting the candles_) Missus 'll be mortal glad to see
'ee, and as for Peggy, she won't know whether she be standing on her
head or her heels.

RAT. I'm sure I'm very much obliged to Peggy. (_aside_) Who's Peggy?

DAVID. And no wonder; she tells me many's the time she's dangled 'ee
on her knee, afore ye were breeched; (_imitating_) but ye know all
about that.

RAT. Of course. I've the most distinct recollection of everything that
happened to me before I was breeched.

DAVID. (_having lighted candles_) There, and now I'll go down stairs
and wait for missus; and as soon as she comes in, I'll say to her----

RAT. Not one word, either to her or to Peggy! I wish to give them both
an agreeable surprise, David; you understand, eh?

DAVID. (_hesitating_) I think I do!

RAT. (_giving him money_) There's a crown for you--think again.

DAVID. (_pocketing money_) I'm sure I do! I'll be as dumb as an
oyster. (_going--stops_) As I said before, supper be all ready in
t'other room, (_going--stops_) and if 'ee want anything you needn't
ring for me, 'cause I be going to take a bit of a snooze before the
kitchen fire. (_yawning_) How sleepy I be to be sure.

     _Exit at door, L. C._

RAT. (_watching DAVID out, then goes quickly up and closes the door_)
Alone at last--now then to work. (_takes a pair of pistols from his
coat pocket, which he places on table_) But first, as ladies
invariably fly to the bell ropes to raise an alarm, I must take the
liberty of cutting these. (_taking knife out of his pocket, and
cutting the bell ropes_) Now to examine the means of escape, in case
of interruption--(_opening window and looking out_)--the garden--a
small conservatory underneath--that's awkward; but, luckily, there's
an apple tree so conveniently close as to make a very tolerable ladder
on an emergency, so far perfectly satisfactory--and if my information
is only tolerably correct, and it ought to be considering the trouble
I've had in obtaining it, (_taking small pocket book from his
waistcoat and opening it_) this door should lead to Mrs. Somerton's
chamber--(_opening door at L., and looking in_)--exactly, and very
elegantly appointed indeed. (_closes door, and again looking at his
pocket book_)--"near the door a table"--precisely--(_laying his hand
on the table_)--"on the table a small writing desk"--here it
is--(_laying his hand on the writing desk_)--locked, and the key taken
out, that of course I expected; but as I have ascertained that between
the hours of 12 and 1 yesterday it became the temporary receptacle of
a pocket book containing bank notes to the amount of fifteen thousand
pounds, it is not likely I should come unprovided with the means of
securing such a treasure. (_takes out a bunch of small keys, some of
which he tries--produces a chisel from his coat pocket, and is about
to insert it under the lid of the box, a loud ring at gate bell
heard_) Mrs. Somerton returned. (_runs to door, L. U. E.--ring
repeated_) Again! Stay--(_listening_) The window--quick! (_runs to
window_) A man in the garden, and cautiously making towards this
window. Who can he be? and what can be his object? Not the same as
mine surely--egad, that would be comical enough. If I could only
observe---- Ah--that door. (_blows out the candle, and gropes his way
to door, R.; at the moment that he enters the room, R.,
POSTLETHWAITE'S head is seen at the window, R. U. E._)

POS. I've done it! I've been ringing at the bell long enough, so I've
been obliged to effect an entrance by the window; (_putting one leg
over the window sill_) and let me observe to the inexperienced in
these matters, that the fact of threading one's way up a densely
wooded apple tree on a pitch dark night is a gymnastic feat more
easily imagined than accomplished. (_gets in at window--he has a
carpet bag_) However, as I said before, I've done it, and what's more
I live to tell it, though I may be allowed to remark that, considering
my cousin, Mrs. Somerton, has been expecting me--_me, her affianced
husband--_for the last three nights, I think she might have allowed
one of her domestics to sit up for me: however, I'm not going to
quarrel with her, no--no--I cannot forget that she's my cousin, and
the only child of my honoured and lamented uncle--I mean aunt--no,
uncle--and now that the law suit has been decided in her favour, and
that she steps into possession of fifteen thousand pounds, her late
husband's fortune, I feel that to upbraid her at such a moment would
be unmanly. There's a spark of fire left in the grate I
declare--that's lucky! I'll light a candle if I can find one.
(_feeling about_) Here's one--no, it's a scent bottle--now I've got
it--(_takes candle, and goes towards fireplace_)--and now for a piece
of paper. (_takes a paper out of his pocket, and about to tear it_)
Stop--it won't do to tear this, this is yesterday's Times, in which I
find that my friend Captain Ratcliffe has been appointed to the
situation of Chief Superintendent of the Rural Police, of the Western
Division of the County of Kent, and as I know he's been here at
Tunbridge Wells for the last week, I've determined to find him out,
and be the first to congratulate him--this'll do! (_taking another
piece of paper, and lighting the candle with it_) There--and now----
(_seeing a letter on the table, and taking it up_) What's this?
"Colonel Boldwig requests the honour--Mrs. Somerton's
company--Thursday evening--quadrilles, &c. &c." Then she's not at
home; then, egad, I'll wait for her here--but not in this costume--no,
I'll just change my coat, et cetera: and, probably, my et cetera
requires changing more than my coat, because naturally in ascending a
tree one occasionally requires to sit down, consequently, it naturally
follows that one's et cetera, upon which one does sit down--of course,
it stands to reason--so here goes. (_taking up the candle, carpet bag,
and umbrella, and going towards door, R. C., and enters. Scene again
dark. At this moment RATCLIFFE opens door at R., enters, moves across
on tiptoe, and locks the door at R. C._)

RAT. Come, I've got you safe under lock and key, my worthy friend,
whoever you are, and now not another moment must be lost. (_advances
towards the writing desk quickly, L. table_)

MRS. S. (_without_) Don't be alarmed, David, I forgot to say I had
taken the latch key with me.

RAT. Mrs. Somerton's voice, and no means of escape! Then impudence
befriend me! (_hurries into room, R._)

     _Enter MRS. SOMERTON and PEGGY at door, L. U. E._

PEGGY. (_who carries a small lantern in her hand, which she places on
table_) Dear, dear, how my poor old bones do ache.

MRS. S. (_throws off her cloak and hood, and appears in a handsome
ball costume_) Now go to bed at once, my good Peggy, I don't require
you any more.

PEGGY. Yes you do, so sit down there--(_making MRS. SOMERTON sit down
on a chair_)--and now, while I'm taking all these gimcracks and finery
out of your hair, you shall tell me all about the grand doings at the
ball. I warrant me, what the colonel's footmen said of you was quite
true.

MRS. S. And pray what did the colonel's footmen say?

PEGGY. They said---- Drat the pin! They said you were the most
beautiful lady in the room--that you had handsomer partners than any
lady in the room.

MRS. S. Yes--to do them, justice, they fairly danced me off my feet,
and yet I am neither grown better tempered, nor better looking, than I
was three months ago, when at a previous party not one of them
condescended to select me for a partner; but then, on the other hand,
I am fifteen thousand pounds richer.

PEGGY. (_suddenly, and giving MRS. SOMERTON'S hair another jerk_)
That's it! Ah, ma'am, these lords of the creation, as they call
themselves, are but a poor mean selfish set after all.

MRS. S. Selfish! No, not all--(_sighing_)--there is one at least.

PEGGY. No! Is there?--he must be quite a curiosity! Oh, ma'am, who is he?

MRS. S. It's a long story, Peggy, and it's getting late.

PEGGY. It's never too late to hear good news.

MRS. S. Then listen, Peggy. You remember that about ten months ago I
was earnestly advised by my physicians to pay a short visit to the
continent.

PEGGY. Yes; and I remember too that you came home quite an altered
woman--_I_ never saw hair dressed in such an extraordinary
style--never!

MRS. S. Don't interrupt me. I had been in Paris about three weeks,
when one evening on my return from the opera, I found a note on my
dressing table, containing these words--"I have seen you, and to see
you is to love you. I am young, tolerably handsome, and sufficiently
rich, yet as I cannot presume to present myself to you until you
permit me to do so, I shall venture to remind you from time to time
that I am near you."

PEGGY. Well I'm sure, Mr. Impudence; and what was the fellow's name?

MRS. S. There was no name, but merely the initials C. R.

PEGGY. C. R. Samuel something or other I dare say--but he gave his
address?

MRS. S. No; simply the words "Post Office, to be left till called
for." Of course, I took no notice of it whatever, and had forgotten
the circumstance altogether, when a month afterwards to the very
day--the very hour--I was then at Florence, I received a second
communication, couched in precisely the same words, and again
subsequently at Venice, Naples, and Milan.

PEGGY. Dear, dear, it's as good as a play! Then you never took any
notice of the fellow at all?

MRS. S. Yes; a circumstance, the bare recollection of which makes me
shudder even at this lapse of time, compelled me to break through the
silence I had hitherto imposed upon myself: in travelling through
Switzerland, on my return to England, the carriage which I occupied
was one night placed in imminent peril by the restiveness of one of
the horses; fortunately, I was asleep, and was not aware of my danger
till I was assured of my safety--within a few feet of a fearful
precipice, the traces had been cut, by a man who had evidently
followed me, judge then of my astonishment when a voice uttered these
words in my ear, "You see, madam, I have kept my promise, I am _still
near you._"

PEGGY. Well, he was a fine brave gentleman, whoever he was; and what
was he like--eh?

MRS. S. He had disappeared before I could even thank him for his
timely and generous assistance.

PEGGY. Well?

MRS. S. Well? (_hesitatingly_) his next letter, which reached me
shortly after my return to England, did _not_ remain unanswered.

PEGGY. I should think not, indeed! and what did you say to Mr. C. R.?

MRS. S. The truth! that my hand was promised to my cousin, Percy
Postlethwaite; that his father had once saved _mine_ from ruin, who
made me promise, as the only means of testifying _his_ gratitude to
the father, to marry the son.

PEGGY. Ah! and that, of course, was a settler for Mr. C. R.

MRS. S. On the contrary, his answer to my letter ran thus:--"Love like
mine never despairs. I will still be near you, for I still hope"--and
yet for the last _two months_ he has ceased to write.

PEGGY. Of course he has! and high time, too, considering you told him
you were Mrs. Postlethwaite, as was to be.

MRS. S. Very true; and yet (_after a slight hesitation_) no matter, go
to bed, Peggy. Good night.

PEGGY. Good night, ma'am. (_taking the lantern--aside_) Luckily when
Master Percy arrives he'll put all this romantic lackadaisical
nonsense out of missus's head.

     _Exit at door, L. C._

MRS. S. Yes, while the news of my recent accession to fortune has
brought so many admirers to my feet, he, on the contrary, has ceased
to think of me.

(_MRS. S. seats herself in chair near the work
table, L.; RATCLIFFE at the same moment enters and
cautiously goes to door, L. C., which he closes.
The stage is only dimly lighted_)

MRS. S. (_hearing the noise of the door closing, and without turning
round, as she unclasps her bracelets_) Is that you again, Peggy? (_not
receiving an answer, she turns and sees RATCLIFFE; starts violently,
and checking a scream_) A man!

RAT. (L.) Do not be alarmed, madam, I beg. (_advancing slowly_)

MRS. S. (_retreating, and in a tone of alarm which she endeavours to
repress_) Who are you, sir? and why this unseasonable intrusion? I
insist on knowing.

RAT. A little patience, my dear madam, and you shall. (_observing MRS.
SOMERTON, who endeavours to reach the door, L. C._) One moment, madam.
Before you summon your servants, allow me to observe that I shall be
under the painful necessity of punishing any one who presumes to
interrupt so delightful a _tete à tete._ (_slowly taking his pistols
from his pocket, and depositing them on the table_)

MRS. S. (_terrified and aside_) He's armed. (_suddenly_) Ah! that
writing desk--that large sum of money--(_placing herself before the
table on which the writing desk is, and supporting herself with
difficulty_)

RAT. Now, madam, (_crosses to R. with chair_) the sooner I explain the
object of this somewhat unceremonious visit, the better. Will you
allow me to lead you to a chair? (_politely offering his hand to MRS.
SOMERTON, who draws back in alarm_) Pray, my dear madam let me once
more entreat you not to be alarmed. (_MRS. SOMERTON after a slight
hesitation, gives him her hand, and he leads her to the chair near
table, at C._) Be seated, I beg. (_MRS. SOMERTON seats herself.
RATCLIFFE about to remove up for another chair, MRS. SOMERTON
advancing her hand towards the pistol--stops_) Pray be cautious with
those pistols, madam; they are hair triggers, and I perceive the
muzzles are directly pointed towards you. (_goes up to the back for a
chair_)

MRS. S. (_aside and suddenly_) If I could but distinguish his
features, so as to be able to recognise him. (_hastily runs and brings
candle from the small table at L., and places it on table before her_)

RAT. (_coming down with the chair, R.--stops_) You'll pardon me,
madam, but having suffered lately from a severe cold in my eyes, this
excess of light would be positively distressing to me. (_removes the
candle to the mantel-piece, L.; then about to seat himself opposite to
MRS. SOMERTON_) Have I your permission, madam? I thank you! (_seats
himself_)

MRS. S. (_aside_) Was there ever such unblushing effrontery?

RAT. Now, madam, I will come to the point at once. I am in the
immediate want of _fifteen thousand pounds._ (_with marked intention_)

MRS. S. (_aside_) He knows all.

RAT. Which sum, madam, I intend to invest in a speculation, which
promises the most advantageous results.

MRS. S. (_with affected unconcern_) I cannot understand, sir, how the
subject you allude to can possibly interest me.

RAT. More than you imagine, my dear madam, for I propose that you
shall become my partner in this speculation; in other words, I will
find the industry and energy requisite in carrying it into effect,
while you _simply have to provide the money._ (_with marked emphasis_)

MRS. S. (_indignantly_) Sir!

RAT. That's all! I'll therefore make out a receipt for the amount at
once. (_taking a piece of paper, and beginning to write_)

MRS. S. (_aside, and looking towards the back of the stage_) That bell
communicates with David's room; it is my only hope. (_cautiously rises
from her chair, and goes on tiptoe towards the chimney-piece_)

POS. (_appearing at little window above door at R. C._) I should very
much like to know who has taken the liberty of locking me in! I
repeat, who has taken the liberty of locking me in? I pause for a
reply.

MRS. S. (_looking at RATCLIFFE, who pretends to be writing, but is
watching her movements--then making a sudden grasp at the bell rope_)
Ah! the bell rope cut!

RAT. (_quietly looking up_) Yes, true! I quite forgot to mention that
I had taken that _little precaution_ against interruption. (_resumes
his writing_)

POS. (_listening_) Holloa! Either cousin Somerton has got a very bad
cold, or she's not alone!

RAT. Here, madam, is the receipt. (_rising_)

POS. That's a man's voice!

RAT. And now, madam, the necessary forms being completed on my part,
all that remains is for you to find the funds; amounting, as I believe
I mentioned before, to the sum of fifteen thousand pounds.

MRS. S. (_forcing a laugh_) And do you imagine I could be imprudent
enough to keep so large a sum of money----?

RAT. On your person? Oh, dear no; that would be an indiscretion for
which, as your partner, I should certainly take the liberty of
scolding you.

POS. What's that? he says he's my wife's partner! I never even knew
she was in business.

RAT. Until you could deposit it with your banker's, you have,
doubtless, placed it somewhere under lock and key; but as you seem to
have forgotten the exact locality, I shall be most happy to assist you
in your search. Suppose we begin with the writing desk. (_placing his
hand on the desk_) Will you oblige me with the key?

POS. The fellow's a housebreaker!

MRS. S. I--I have mislaid or lost it, sir: at least, I think I have.

RAT. Pray _think_ again, my dear madam, as it would be really a pity
to damage so elegant a piece of furniture.

POS. No--he's a smasher! It's lucky for him I can't get at him.

MRS. S. (_suddenly, and with resolution_) Sir, although alone, and in
the power of a desperate man like you, I will not be plundered except
by violence.

POS. That's right, cousin--stick to that! She's a trump!

RAT. (_approaching her as she leans against table in C., and in a tone
of reproach_) Violence to a woman, and _such a woman!_ (_bowing_)

POS. Humbug!

RAT. I see you mistake me, madam, I came here to serve you--to propose
to you a safe and profitable investment for your money, but the moment
you object to that proposal---- (_taking one of the pistols off the
table and playing with it_)

POS. What's that he's got in his hand? (_RATCLIFFE cocks the pistol,
the noise of which is distinctly heard_) It's a blunderbuss!
(_disappears like lightning, then cautiously appears again_)

MRS. S. (_shuddering and sinking into a chair_) You will find the
key--in that vase--on the mantel-piece.

RAT. That vase, madam? (_pointing with his pistol towards mantel-piece
in the direction of POSTLETHWAITE, who again disappears like a shot;
RATCLIFFE goes to the mantel-piece, upon which he deposits his
pistols--then takes key out of the vase, and goes to the writing desk:
during this POSTLETHWAITE re-appears cautiously, sees the pistols, and
by leaning very much out of little window, tries to reach them--almost
falling out--disappears; re-appears with the tongs, and again tries to
reach the pistols_) Ah! here is a drawer that requires some force to
open, doubtless it contains the---- (_opening drawer_) No, your
diamonds. Ah, madam, I can trace the amiability of your disposition
even in your treatment of these poor jewels--you cease to wear them
because their beauty would be eclipsed by yours. (_replacing diamonds
in desk_)

MRS. S. (_aside, and smiling_) To do the wretch justice he has a
certain mode of expressing himself----

POS. I hope he don't mean to keep on fumbling that writing desk about
much longer, because the bottom of the cane chair has just given way.
Surely, Cousin Somerton never could have been such a simpleton as to
lock all her money up there.

RAT. Ah, at last--(_taking the pocket book out of the desk, and
advancing to MRS. SOMERTON_)--the pocket book.

POS. She's a ruined woman and so am I! (_dropping his head against the
side of the window_)

MRS. S. (_suddenly, and with an expression of hope_) Surely I heard a
voice!

RAT. One of your servants probably. (_going up towards mantel-piece,
and taking his pistols_) I hope he will not take it into his head to
interrupt us, for I should certainly send a bullet through it.
(_POSTLETHWAITE drops, and a noise of falling heard within door, R.
C.; RATCLIFFE places the pistols on chimney piece_) And now, madam,
(_returning towards table at C._) with many apologies for detaining
you so long from your slumbers, I humbly take my leave. (_seeing the
receipt, which he has left on the table_) Stay! (_taking up the
receipt, which he presents to MRS. SOMERTON_) I promised you a
receipt, madam, and here it is.

MRS. S. (_derisively_) A very valuable document to me no doubt, sir.

RAT. A very necessary one, madam, in all commercial transactions.
(_MRS. SOMERTON takes the receipt, and indignantly crumples it up in
her hand_) Once more, madam, farewell. (_taking his cloak and hat_)
And in taking my leave, be assured that I carry away with me----

MRS. S. (_sneeringly_) I am perfectly aware, sir, what you carry away
with you.

RAT. The hope, madam, which I trust you in some degree share with me,
that our first interview will not be our last. (_turns at door, L. C.,
makes a profound bow, and exits, L. U. E._)

MRS. S. He's gone, and I have no longer strength even to call for
help.

POS. (_knocking violently at door_) But I have! I'll cry for help
against any man in England! Help!

MRS. S. (_rising_) Ah, is that you, David?

POS. No--it's me--Postlethwaite. Cousin Percy, open the door. (_MRS.
SOMERTON hastily runs and unlocks door, R. C., POSTLETHWAITE puts his
head out_) Is the ruffian gone?

MRS. S. Yes--yes.

POS. You're sure of it?

MRS. S. (L.) Quite sure.

POS. (_R., rushing on_) Then let me get at him! Come out wherever you
are, and face me like a man--come on, I say. (_squaring violently_)
Coward! (_in a tone of supreme contempt_)

MRS. S. Then you have heard----

POS. Everything from that window, above that closet there, or whatever
it is where I've been locked up for the last hour among the pickles.

MRS. S. And yet you allowed me to be robbed.

POS. Come I like that--you allowed yourself to be robbed.

MRS. S. (_contemptuously_) And you did _nothing._

POS. I beg your pardon, I looked on in silent astonishment.

MRS. S. But you ought to have made a noise.

POS. So I did--I tumbled down backwards into a lot of grocery.

(_from the beginning of this Scene between MRS.
SOMERTON and POSTLETHWAITE it has gradually become
daylight_)

MRS. S. And to think that he should be allowed to effect his escape!
What shall I do?

POS. Do? Take example by me, show a proper spirit like me, and send
for the police.

MRS. S. We have none.

POS. No police! (_suddenly recollecting_) but _I_ have, of course, and
a superintendent into the bargain--here--in my pocket.

MRS. S. You've got a superintendent of police in your pocket?

POS. Yes--no; but I've got his appointment--that's the same thing,
besides he's a friend of mine; I'll run for him this moment, and in
less than ten minutes we'll have him here dead or alive; I mean my
friend--no--the robber--no, my friend. (_running to door, L. C._)
Holloa, this door's locked (_running to mantel-piece and about to ring
the bell_) and the bell rope's cut (_suddenly_) ah! the ruffian has
left his pistols behind him. (_seizing pistols off the mantel-piece_)
Stand out of the way, cousin. (_rushing to window_)

MRS. S. What are you about to do?

POS. Do? send a bullet through his body.

MRS. S. Pshaw! Why you can't even see him.

POS. Then I'm the more likely to hit him; besides, it will raise an
alarm at all events. (_pulling both triggers as he points the pistols
out at window_) Holloa they're not loaded! (_suddenly_) Oh, if I had
only known that. (_about to get out at the window_)

MRS. S. Cousin, what are you about?

POS. Why, as I can't get out by the door, I must have recourse to the
window. (_getting out_)

MRS. S. And this for me! Oh, how kind of you, Cousin; but pray mind
how you get down!

POS. Don't be alarmed; it's a precious deal easier than getting up!
besides I know every inch of the road; so good bye, cousin, and in my
way to my friend the superintendent, I'll knock up all the neighbours
and tell them to scour the country; we'll find your fifteen thousand
pounds again for you. (_gets quite out and gradually disappears_) So
don't give way--keep up as I do. Oh, lud. (_suddenly disappears
altogether--loud noise of broken glass heard_)

MRS. S. He's fallen! (_calling out of window_) Cousin! cousin!

POS. (_from without_) It's all right. I've only tumbled into a
cucumber frame or something of the sort. I can have the bits of glass
taken out of me when I get back.

MRS. S. (_looking out_) There he runs, but he's without his hat!
(_calling aloud_) Cousin! cousin! you've dropped your hat! he doesn't
hear me.

PEGGY. (_without at door, L. C._) Missus--missus, the door's locked.
(_unlocks door and runs in followed by DAVID, both have their
night-caps on, and DAVID carries an old fashioned blunderbuss_) Oh,
ma'am, what's all this noise about--what does it all mean?

DAVID. Ees, what do it all mean?

MRS. S. It means, my poor Peggy, that I have been robbed.

PEGGY. Robbed, but not murdered, I hope.

MRS. S. (_smiling_) No, not quite, though I am almost dead with alarm!
David, have you seen no one?

DAVID. No, ma'am--no one but your cousin, master Percy, who arrived
about half an hour before you came home.

MRS. S. Yes, yes, I know; but there was another.

DAVID. Then I didn't let _him_ in, and I know he can't have gone out
again without my seeing him. (_aside_) To be sure I've been fast
asleep all the time.

MRS. S. Then perhaps he's still in the house?

PEGGY. Lud a mercy! (_getting behind DAVID, who in his turn tries to
get behind PEGGY_)

DAVID. (_suddenly as he looks towards window, R. in flat_) Look,
ma'am, if there ben't Sergeant Jones of the rural police riding along
the lane at the bottom of the garden. (_running to window and
shouting_) Here, Sergeant Jones, stop--he hears me, ma'am.

MRS. S. This is fortunate indeed; so run, David, and give him
information of the robbery; tell him that he may rely on the most
liberal reward. (_DAVID about to run off_) and, David, tell him also,
should he discover any clue, that he must communicate with his
superintendent here--that I expect him every moment; run, David.
(_DAVID runs off at L. C._) and you, Peggy, go down stairs and be
ready to open the door; I will go to my room for a few minutes.

PEGGY. Do, ma'am; it'll do you good to lie down a bit; it's broad
day-light--just till Mr. Superintendent comes. (_MRS. SOMERTON enters
her room, L._)

PEGGY. (_looking after her_) Poor missus--she's lost all her treasures
except me.

     _Exit at door, L. C._

POS. (_without_) I tell you it's all right, so come along.

RAT. (_without_) But, my dear fellow--

_POSTLETHWAITE enters at L. C. pulling in
RATCLIFFE, without his beard, moustache, and over
coat, and in a modern walking suit._

I never applied for the appointment; there's some mistake.

POS. Mistake, nonsense! here it is in the newspaper, and you know as
well as I do that newspapers never make mistakes. Captain Charles
Ratcliffe appointed superintendent of the rural police.

RAT. (_aside_) What the devil's to be done?--luckily I've got rid of
my disguise!

POS. How very odd I should happen to run up against you. Eh! at five
o'clock in the morning too.

RAT. Yes, I was going home from a bachelor's party. (_confused_)

POS. Little dreaming that at that moment you held the distinguished
position of commander-in-chief of the rural police force of this
important district.

RAT. Pshaw! I shall resign at once. (_going_)

POS. (_pulling him back_) You can't till your successor is appointed.

RAT. (_aside_) There's no escape, I must brazen it out: lucky I have
got rid of my disguise, at any rate I shall see her once more!
(_aloud, and in an assumed tone of authority_) ahem! (_seats himself_)
now I am ready to listen to you.

POS. (L.) That's right--you must know then. (_seats himself_)

RAT. (R.) One moment, are you about to address me in my official
capacity?

POS. Of course, I am.

RAT. Then don't sit down.

POS. But really my back aches to that degree--

RAT. Then I'll receive your deposition to-morrow. (_gets up and
going_)

POS. No, no! (_pushing RATCLIFFE in his chair again_) I'll stand up
there! and now, my dear fellow--

RAT. A little less familiarity, if you please, young man.

POS. Very well--you must know then, old chap--

RAT. Again--

POS. Well, then, your worship! there, will that do? you must know
then, your worship, that I've just been robbed of a very considerable
sum of money.

RAT. You?

POS. Well, my cousin, Mrs. Somerton has--and as I'm going to marry
her, what's her's is mine, and what's mine's my own; but you know all
about that, governor--I mean your worship.

RAT. Which property I suppose, you wish to recover?

POS. Of course, I do; you'll excuse me, my dear boy, Charley, I mean
your worship, but that's a remarkable stupid observation of your's.

RAT. Silence--was the robbery you speak of accompanied by violence?

POS. Of course, it was! would you allow a fellow to walk off with your
property without making a fight of it, not you, my trojan--I mean your
worship! but I'll tell you all about it. I had just arrived from
London, and finding that cousin Somerton had that instant returned
home from a ball, I determined to give her an agreeable surprise, and
for that purpose I was walking on tiptoe along that passage, when I
was almost knocked off my legs by a piercing shriek. "My cousin in
danger," said I, "then Postlethwaite to the rescue," said I, and with
an unfaltering grasp I seized the handle of the door--it was locked,
upon which with one blow of this fist--you know my muscular power--I
knocked the door clean off its hinges.

RAT. (_smiling_) You don't say so?

POS. Well, in I rushed, and the first thing I saw was----

RAT. What?

POS. Nothing; the room was in total darkness, and the next instant I
found myself face to face with a gigantic housebreaker about seven
foot high, with two pair of pistols in each hand, and there, extended
upon the hearth rug, with her head on the fender lay my poor cousin in
a dead faint, and as pale as a sheet.

RAT. (_smiling_) But how the deuce did you manage to see all this when
the room was in total darkness?

POS. What of that? everybody knows that housebreakers are always as
pale as a sheet when they faint away; I mean women are always seven
feet high--no, housebreakers--really you interrupt me so I don't know
what I'm talking about.

RAT. (_smiling_) Well?

POS. Well, though I was unarmed, I instantly rushed upon the two
ruffians.

RAT. Two ruffians?

POS. Yes. I said there were two, who instantly made for the door,
which luckily I had taken the precaution of locking.

RAT. Locking! What the door you had just knocked clean off its hinges?

POS. Yes. I forgot to mention that in the meantime I had picked the
door up and hung it on again. Well, finding they couldn't escape, they
both sprang upon me at the same time! The fearful struggle then began
afresh, till exhausted nature could do no more, and the whole three of
us rolled out of the window together. But here comes my cousin!
(_running to door, L._)

RAT. Then, as I said before, impudence befriend me.

POS. (_handing in MRS. SOMERTON_) Come along, cousin, I told you I'd
soon have my friend the superintendent here. Captain Ratcliffe, my
cousin. My cousin, Captain Ratcliffe. (_introducing them. MRS.
SOMERTON curtseys to RATCLIFFE, and on looking at him gives a very
slight start, while RATCLIFFE continues to show the utmost sang
froid_) And now, cousin, the sooner you give him all the particulars.
Why, what's the matter with you? (_observing how MRS. SOMERTON is
examining RATCLIFFE_)

MRS. S. Nothing. Doubtless I am mistaken. Yet, I am under the
impression that this is not the first time----

RAT. That we have met? madam, if so, I am ashamed to say that I have
forgotten the circumstance. (_crosses to C._)

MRS. S. (_aside_) The voice too--pshaw--impossible!

RAT. Now, madam, as every moment is of the utmost importance you must
be good enough to answer a few questions. In the first place how the
entrance to the house was effected by the robbers. (_taking out his
pocket book and pencil._)

MRS. S. Robbers!--there was only one.

RAT. Only one! (_to POSTLETHWAITE_) I understood you to say there
were--

POS. (_interrupting him_) Yes, yes. (_aside to him_) Of course, she
doesn't know how many there were, because as soon as she saw _one_ she
fainted.

RAT. True! (_smiling_)

MRS. S. (_aside_) That voice again--I must be mistaken--yet, every
word he utters--(_looking again fixedly at RATCLIFFE_)

RAT. (_C., to MRS. S._) You have not answered my question, madam.

MRS. S. I can only say, sir, that on being left alone, I was disturbed
by a slight noise, and on turning round, he stood before me--as you
do.

RAT. A bold and impudent villain, evidently. I can easily conceive
your alarm, madam, but luckily your cousin here on hearing your
piercing shrieks, (_POSTLETHWAITE pulls his coat tail_) rushes to your
assistance, and with one blow of his masculine fist--

POS. (_stopping him, and aside_) That'll do--don't remind her of that
terrific scene, it distresses her.

RAT. (_smiling again_) True. (_to MRS. S._) Then, madam, you would
probably be able to identify this audacious criminal?

MRS. S. (_with intention_) Not with absolute certainty, sir.

POS. No, more should I.

RAT. That's strange too, considering the length of time you were
struggling with him.

POS. Yes, yes. (_aside to him_) That'll do--she can't bear it.

MRS. S. (_still with intention_) And were I to act upon my present
_suspicions,_ however well grounded they may appear, I might be the
means of compromising--

RAT. Who, madam?

MRS. S. (_looking at him_) One perhaps, whose position in society----

RAT. Nay, madam--as the representative of the law, I tell you that it
matters not what his social position may be, we must not mince
matters.

POS. Certainly not. I'd rather mince him. Fifteen thousand pounds is a
lump of money.

RAT. (_with pretended astonishment_) Fifteen thousand pounds--the
unconscionable scoundrel!--one moment (_writing in the pocket
book_)--amount stolen--fifteen thousand pounds; number of robbers----

POS. (_aside to him_) Uncertain! as there seems to be a little
difference of opinion between cousin and me upon that point. You'd
better say "uncertain."

RAT. (_to MRS. S._) Bank notes, I presume?

MRS. S. Yes, sir--bank notes.

RAT. And contained in that writing desk.

MRS. S. (_aside_) 'Tis he, I'm sure of it (_hastily and aside to
POSTLETHWAITE, while RATCLIFFE is examining the writing desk_)--tell
me, do you say you know him?

POS. Who, the housebreaker?

MRS. S. No, that person. (_pointing to RATCLIFFE_)

POS. Know my friend Ratcliffe, of course I do.

RAT. (_observing them and coming down, between them._) I regret I
cannot hold out to you any reasonable hope of recovering your
property.

POS. You don't mean that?

RAT. Why, unfortunately Mrs. Somerton is unable to give me the
slightest clue.

MRS. S. But I do possess a clue--a certain infallible one.

POS. Ah!--then where is your clue--produce your clue--what is your
clue?

MRS. S. (_looking intently at RATCLIFFE_) A paper in the handwriting
of this bold and impudent villain, (_RATCLIFFE slightly starts_)
treating the matter as a commercial transaction, and affecting to
acknowledge as a voluntary loan from me the amount of which he
plundered me.

RAT. (_quickly_) A most important document indeed, and of the utmost
consequence that I should obtain immediate possession of it.

MRS. S. (_sarcastically_) I believe you, sir; shall I fetch it?

RAT. Certainly.

MRS. S. And you _will remain here till I return?_ (_significantly_)

RAT. Assuredly.

MRS. S. (_hastily--aside to POSTLETHWAITE_) See that he does.

     _Exit hastily, L. D._

RAT. (_aside and agitated_) That cursed paper may betray me, and this
mad desperate game will have been played in vain.

POS. (_taking his arm and in a confidential manner_) Now between you
and me and the post, if Cousin Somerton was to say to you, what will
you give me for the chance of recovering my fifteen thousand pounds?
what would you feel disposed to offer?

RAT. Not fifteen thousand farthings.

POS. (_aside_) The devil.

RAT. But what of that; the loss of a few paltry thousand can never
lessen the intense affection you feel for your charming cousin.

POS. What do you mean by "intense affection?" I respect her--I like
her--so I did my grandmother, but it never would occur to me to fall
down and worship the ground she treads upon! besides to be candid with
you, I don't think she is the sort of woman to fret herself into
fiddlestrings about _me._

RAT. Indeed!

POS. No; besides, I put it to you, would it not be most selfish, most
unkind in me to take a mean advantage of her promise to marry me, and
compel my young and lovely relative to spend the remainder of her
existence with me in my second floor in Arabella Row, Pimlico.

RAT. (_grasping POSTLETHWAITE'S hand_) That sentiment does you honour!
Then she's at liberty to cancel her engagement to you? (_eagerly_)

POS. Yes, from this moment she's at liberty.

     _Enter PEGGY running, L. U. E._

PEGGY. Where is he? (_comes down C._) Where's Mr. Superintendent? (_to
RATCLIFFE_) Oh, sir, (_seeing POSTLETHWAITE_) Lor, Master Percy, is
that you? (_throwing her arms round POSTLETHWAITE, then turning again
to RATCLIFFE_) Oh, sir, I've got such news. (_to POSTLETHWAITE_) Lor
bless'ee, I must have another buss. (_flinging her arms round
POSTLETHWAITE_)

POS. That'll do, Peggy; I appreciate your affection, but it rumples
one's front. (_arranging his shirt_)

PEGGY. (_to RATCLIFFE_) Then, sir--well, and so you must know that.
(_turning to POSTLETHWAITE again_) Lor love'ee. (_about to embrace him
again. POSTLETHWAITE turns away_)

PEGGY. (_to RATCLIFFE_) Well, sir, Sergeant Jones has just been here,
and says he to me--says he--tell my Superintendent, Captain Ratcliffe,
says he, that we've found the robber, says he.

POS. (_triumphantly_) And the money too, of course; not that my
intense affection for my charming cousin could ever be influenced by a
few paltry thousands more or less--no; I love her for herself alone.

PEGGY. It does my old heart good to hear you say that, because they've
neither found the robber nor the money yet.

POS. Pooh, what a stupid old fool you are. What have they found then?

PEGGY. A hat!

POS. A hat! I never heard of anything so absurd in all my life.

PEGGY. But it's a very peculiar hat--what they call a wide-awake--a
green one. (_POSTLETHWAITE here slowly raises his hand and feels his
head, then looks about him. RATCLIFFE notices his movements_)

PEGGY. Sergeant Jones found it under the window; but that's not
all--he says that the robber in making his escape must have fallen
into the green house, and that probably his clothes may have been cut,
or that pieces of glass may be sticking in him. (_POS. falls
behind--gives a sudden start of pain--then examines his coat tails and
finds one of them torn, fixes his hand on it. RATCLIFFE still
observing him_) But that's not all, there are footmarks on the gravel
walk, and as the gravel was only laid down yesterday, Sergeant Jones
says that some of it must be sticking to his boots. (_here
POSTLETHWAITE begins shuffling with his feet about, which he keeps up
incessantly_) But that's not all! as Joe Podger, the blacksmith was
going to his work this morning, he saw a man, a little short man, he
says, (_POSTLETHWAITE draws himself up and crosses to C._) drop from
that window, and he says he should know him again among a thousand.

POS. Oh lud! (_slightly staggering_)

RAT. (_trying to check a laugh_) What's the matter, my dear fellow?
here sit down. (_making POS. sit down, who utters a cry of pain and
jumps up again, then seeing RAT. and PEG. looking at him, begins
shuffling his feet about again, and keeping his hand on his coat
tail_)

RAT. (_to PEG._) Tell Sergeant Jones from me to act upon the
information he has got without one moment's loss of time; run, fly!
(_PEGGY trots out at door, L. U. E._)

RAT. (_to POS. and slapping him on the shoulder_) This is famous news
indeed, eh?

POS. Yes, glorious news, though for my part I can't see that there's
anything at all in finding a wide-a-wake--any man might lose his
wide-a-wake--I might lose mine, and it might be a green wide-a-wake.

RAT. Heaven forbid, for I should immediately arrest you, my dear
friend, but what of that? your charming cousin is too well aware of
your intense affection.

POS. What d'ye mean by _intense affection?_ As I said before, I
respect her--I like her, but--

RAT. But what?

POS. (_grasping RATCLIFFE'S hand and assuming a desperate tone and
manner_) The dreadful truth must be spoken! I'm a rascal--I love
another--the interesting widow of a large straw bonnet maker. When I
say large, I don't allude to the bonnet maker, but the business--and
shall I basely forsake the confiding woman who has placed all her
straw bonnets--I mean all her happiness in my hands?--No! though my
cousin _will_ soon have her £15,000 again.

RAT. That's very doubtful.

POS. No such thing. I'm certain of it, and so are you; still, never,
never shall it be said of Postlethwaite, that he was actuated by the
love of filthy lucre--so you'll wish her good bye for me, won't you?

RAT. Stay. Suppose you write a few lines to her, stating your reasons
for renouncing her hand, and I'll deliver the letter to her.

POS. I'll do it at once, (_aside_) and considering that there's very
little chance of Cousin Somerton's seeing a shilling of her money
again, and a very considerable chance of my getting into trouble; the
sooner I make my way back to Arabella Row, Pimlico, the better. (_goes
into room, R. 2 E._)

RAT. (_anxiously_) _Will_ he write to her? will he, indeed, renounce
her hand?

     _Enter MRS. SOMERTON, L._

MRS. S. (_aside_) Still here, 'tis well; and now, Captain Ratcliffe,
it is my turn to frighten you.

RAT. (_resuming his official manner_) Well, madam, have you found this
important paper?

MRS. S. Yes, sir, but conceive my annoyance, when instead of a
receipt, as I anticipated, I found the paper consisted of a few
wretched insipid verses; intended to be very complimentary, no doubt,
but commonplace in the extreme.

RAT. (_aside_) This is pleasant. I thought they were remarkably pretty
verses. (_aloud_) Might I be favoured with a perusal of them?

MRS. S. Unfortunately, a near neighbour of mine, a _magistrate_
happened to look in, and thinking it would forward the ends of
justice, I placed the paper in his hands.

RAT. A magistrate?

MRS. S. Yes, who on looking at it, suddenly exclaimed, "I cannot be
mistaken--no, I'll swear to the handwriting."

RAT. Indeed! (_aside_) The devil! (_aloud_) and his name is----

MRS. S. Boldwig.

RAT. Boldwig! (_aside_) My old colonel, damn it, I've written a
hundred letters to him.

MRS. S. The colonel fancies the robber may be still concealed on the
premises.

RAT. (_forcing a laugh_) Ha, ha! Still on the premises, a very likely
matter.

MRS. S. Why not? So bold and impudent a villain, as you very properly
designate him. How fortunate it was that I remembered the existence of
that "important paper."

RAT. Yes, it was a very brilliant idea of yours, indeed.

MRS. S. And how still more fortunate that Colonel Boldwig at once
recognised the handwriting, for of course it will infallibly lead to
the capture of the unconscionable scoundrel, as you very properly
called him.

RAT. (_rather nettled_) You seem remarkably anxious to punish this
unhappy misguided being, ma'am.

MRS. S. Heyday! did you not say to me, just now, "Madam, as the
representative of the law, I tell you that it matters not what his
social position may be; we must not mince matters." (_imitating
RATCLIFFE'S manner._)

RAT. (_aside_) She's laughing at me, that's quite clear. (_aloud_) Of
course not; but--but--(_drawing his chair closer to MRS.
SOMERTON_)--but--(_aside_) Pon my life it requires more courage than I
imagined. (_aloud_) I was about to observe that the circumstances
attending this robbery are so--so whimsical.

MRS. S. Whimsical?

RAT. No, not whimsical, eccentric! that one is almost inclined to
ascribe it to some other motive.

MRS. S. (_aside_) We are coming to it by degrees; (_aloud_) and pray,
sir, what other motive can your lively imagination suggest?

RAT. (_drawing still nearer, and after a short hesitation, then in a
low and impassioned tone_) Love!

MRS. S. (_aside and smiling_) At last. (_aloud_) Love! ha, ha, ha!
Love of bank notes!

RAT. (_earnestly_) No. Love for you. Yes, madam, cannot you imagine an
admiration so boundless--a passion so irresistible, that it might
prompt a man?

MRS. S. To rob me of £15,000, and frighten me out of senses into the
bargain.

RAT. (_still more earnestly_) Yes, madam, if by so doing, if by
apparently reducing the woman to poverty, he hoped to obtain a
voluntary resignation of her hand from a rival, who loves her for her
fortune only.

MRS. S. Really, Captain Ratcliffe, I must confess you have imagined a
marvellous pleasant love story.

RAT. Not more marvellous than true. Here are the proofs, (_gives
pocket book to MRS. SOMERTON_) and now think, madam, what a love must
that man's be who could thus risk his name, character, and reputation,
with the sole hope of preserving you your liberty.

MRS. S. But unfortunately the denouement of this romance of real life
is wanting; the rival does not resign the lady's hand.

RAT. (_aside, and looking towards room, R. 2 E._) Why the devil
doesn't he make haste with the letters? (_POSTLETHWAITE looks in at
the door_)

MRS. S. (_catching a glimpse of him_) No, sir, I know my cousin too
well--he loves me too dearly to care about my loss of fortune; _he_
will be only too happy to work for me, toil for me, slave for me.

POS. (_at door_) Will he! (_disappears_)

MRS. S. He will never resign the hand of her he loves, beggared though
she be. (_here POSTLETHWAITE comes out of room cautiously, slips the
letter into RATCLIFFE'S hand, and runs out at door, L. C._)

RAT. (_presenting letter to MRS. SOMERTON_) From Mr. Percy
Postlethwaite, madam. (_aside_) If he has deceived me I'll make
Arabella Row, Pimlico, the scene of a terrific drama.

MRS. S. (_reading letter_) "Ever beloved cousin, I need not say that
the loss of your fortune is nothing to me----" (_to RATCLIFFE_) You
hear?

RAT. (_aside_) The devil take him!

MRS. S. (_reading_) "----But as the presence of a handsome, dashing
young man like Captain Ratcliffe, under your roof in the middle of the
night will necessarily afford materials for all the scandal mongers in
the neighbourhood, I reluctantly tear your image from my heart, and
bid you farewell for ever."

RAT. Then you are free--free to bestow your heart, your hand!

MRS. S. Nay, sir, what if my heart were no longer at my disposal?
(_RATCLIFFE starts_) What if it had long since been given to one who
once preserved my life at the peril of his own, and whose letters
faithfully preserved (_slowly and with emotion drawing forth a packet
of letters from her bosom, and looking down_) enabled me to recognise
his handwriting.

RAT. Can it be possible? (_with rapture_)

MRS. S. That I have been taking my revenge on you for the last half
hour without your perceiving it! (_holding out her hand_)

RAT. Oh, madam! (_kissing her hand_)

MRS. S. Hark! (_noise without_)

DAVID. (_without_) Bring him along--if he won't come agreeable, drag
him in by the hair of his head.

_Enter DAVID, running, L. C., and dragging in
POSTLETHWAITE, his dress disordered, DAVID carries
a green wide-awake in his hand--PEGGY following._

DAV. Here, missus, we've got the robber.

MRS. S. (_holding RATCLIFFE'S hand_) So have I!

DAVID. Here be the desperate villain, ma'am, and
here be his desperate green wide-awake; (_shewing
hat_) and what's more, we won't let him go.

MRS. S. No more will I! (_seeing POSTLE._) Cousin
Postlethwaite!

PEGGY. (_running forward_) Lawks! yes--so it be.
Oh, Master Percy! (_throwing her arms round
POSTLETHWAITE_)

POS. (_throwing her off_) Don't be a fool, Peggy.
As I said before, it rumples one's front.

MRS. S. (_making a sign, all come forward and
surround her_) My good friends, you need give
yourselves no further trouble, I have recovered my
property. My fifteen thousand pounds are here.

     (_shows pocket book_)

POS. You don't mean that! (_very tenderly_) Oh, my ever beloved
cousin! (_aside to RATCLIFFE_) Where's my letter? (_again to MRS.
SOMERTON, and still more tenderly_) I repeat--oh, my ever beloved
cousin! (_again aside to RATCLIFFE_) Where's my letter?

RAT. (_aside to him_) I gave it to Mrs. Somerton--it's all right.

POS. All right! I'm horribly afraid it's all wrong!

MRS. S. Yes, cousin, I've read your cruel words, and as it seems you
won't have me---- (_with affected grief_)

POS. But I will. (_very tenderly_) Dry your tears ever-beloved one--I
_will_ have you.

MRS. S. What, in spite of the presence of a fine dashing young man
under my roof in the middle of the night--eh, cousin?

POS. (_still very tenderly_) What of that? I'm not so very particular.

MRS. S. But think of the scandal mongers of the neighbourhood--eh,
cousin?

POS. Never mind--I'm desperate!

MRS. S. So am I--and, therefore, as the only means of preserving my
reputation, I gave my hand to him who has compromised it.

     (_giving her hand to RATCLIFFE._)

POS. What, Charley Ratcliffe?

PEGGY. (_aside_) Then that's Mr. C. R. after all.

RAT. (_to POSTLETHWAITE_) Yes, my dear friend, the gigantic
housebreaker, seven feet high, with two pair of pistols in each of his
brawny hands, stands before you.

POS. You? Poo--poo! Where are your whiskers?--where's your imperial?

RAT. In my pocket--ha, ha!

POS. (_after a short pause_) I say, Master Charley, what sort of a
game have you been playing here?

MRS. S. (_smiling_) A game of fright.

POS. Ecod, it's more like "Beat my neighbour out of doors!"

RAT. At any rate, I have secured this lady for my _partner_, and for
such a prize who would not play "A DESPERATE GAME."

CURTAIN.

PRINTED BY THOMAS SCOTT, WARWICK COURT, HOLBORN.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on images digitized by Google from a copy
held by Shields Special Collections of the University of California,
Davis Library. The images are available through the HathiTrust Digital
Library at:

     http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007431700

In general, I have retained variant spellings (e.g., "tarletan",
"trowsers", "does'nt", "her's", and "your's") and the idiosyncrasies
of the original punctuation. However, for the sake of consistency and
to correct obvious errors, the following changes were made:

- The spacing of the abbreviations for the entrances and exits has
been made consistent.

- p. 2: MRS. SOMERTON,--Green tarletan ball dress--Changed comma to a
period for consistency.

- p. 4: RAT. By all means, David. (_aside_) he does'nt know
me.--Capitalized "he".

- p. 9: for the amount at once (_taking a piece_--Inserted a period
after "once".

- p. 9: I had taken that _little precaution_ against interruption
(_resumes his writing_)--Inserted a period after "interruption".

- p. 11: _makes a profound bow, and exits, L. U. E_)--Inserted a
period after "E".

- p. 12: I'll run for him this monent,--Changed "monent" to "moment".

- p. 12: no, my friend (_running to door, L. C._) Holloa,--Inserted a
period after "friend".

- p. 12: _to ring the bell_, and the bell rope's cut--Changed the
comma to a closing parenthesis.

- p. 12: raise an alarm at all events (_pulling both
triggers_--Inserted a period after "events".

- p. 12: Oh, if I had only known that (_about to get out at the
window_)--Inserted a period after "that".

- p. 14: POS. (_pulling him back_) you can't till your successor is
appointed.--Capitalized "you".

- p. 14: That's right--you must know then (_seats himself_)--Inserted
a period after "then".

- p. 15: My cousin, Captain Ratcliffe (_introducing them._--Inserted a
period after "Ratcliffe".

- p. 15: RAT. True! smiling.--"smiling" is a stage direction, so this
line has been changed to: "RAT. True! (_smiling_)"

- p. 16: RAT. (_smiling again_) True,--Comma changed to a period.

- p. 16: POS. Yes, yes, (_aside to him_) That'll do--she can't bear
it.--Changed comma after second "yes" to a period.

- p. 16: RAT. (_to Mrs. S._) Bank notes, I presume?--"Mrs." changed to
small caps in the html version and all caps in the text version for
consistency.

- p. 16: this bold and impudent villain. (_RATCLIFFE slightly starts_)
treating the matter as--Changed period after "villain" to a comma.

- p. 17: Lor, Master Percy, is that you? _throwing her arms_--Inserted
a beginning parenthesis before "throwing".

- p. 17: Lor love'ee, (_about to embrace him again._--Changed comma
after "love'ee" to a period.

- p. 18: here sit down, (_making POS. sit down_--Changed comma to a
period.

- p. 18: run, fly! _PEGGY trots out at door_--Inserted a beginning
parenthesis before "PEGGY".

- p. 18: RAT (_to POS. and slapping him on the shoulder_)--Inserted a
period after "RAT".

- p. 19: POS. I'll do it at once, (_aside_) amd considering--Changed
"amd" to "and".

- p. 19: The devil! (_aloud_) and is name is----Changed first "is" to
"his".

- p. 20: we must not mince matters. (_imitating RATCLIFFE'S
manner._)--Inserted closing quotation mark after "matters."

- p. 20: more courage than I imagined. I was about to
observe--Inserted "(_aloud_)" after "than I imagined."





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