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Title: Poison - A Farce
Author: Baker, George M. (George Melville)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poison - A Farce" ***

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                            GEO. M. BAKER’S

                              NEW PLAYS.

          =PAST REDEMPTION.= 4 Acts. Price 25 cts.
          =COMRADES.= 3 Acts. Price 25 cts.
          =TITANIA.= A Fairy Play for Children. 2 Acts. Price 25 cts.
          =OUR FOLKS.= 3 Acts. Price 15 cts.
          =SANTA CLAUS THE FIRST.= A Christmas play for children.
            By F. E. Chase. 25 c.
          =REBECCA’S TRIUMPH.= For female characters only. Price 25 cts.

                          [Illustration: THE



                            ALL THE WORLD’S

                                A STAGE



                        GEORGE M. BAKER & CO.,

                       No. 47 Franklin Street.]

                 Copyright, 1876, by GEORGE M. BAKER.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                      Spencer’s Universal Stage.

_A Collection of COMEDIES, DRAMAS, and FARCES, adapted to either Public
   or Private Performance. Containing a full description of all the
                      necessary Stage Business._

              PRICE, 15 CENTS EACH. ☞ No Plays Exchanged.

     1. LOST IN LONDON. A Drama in 3 Acts. 6 male, 4 female characters.

     2. NICHOLAS FLAM. A Comedy in 2 Acts. By J. B. Buckstone. 5 male, 3
     female char.

     3. THE WELSH GIRL. A Comedy in 1 Act. By Mrs. Planche. 3 male, 2
     female char.

     4. JOHN WOPPS. A Farce in 1 Act. By W. E. Suter. 4 male, 2 female

     5. THE TURKISH BATH. A Farce in 1 Act. By Montague Williams and F.
     C. Burnand. 6 male, 1 female char.

     6. THE TWO PUDDIFOOTS. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 3 male, 3
     female char.

     7. OLD HONESTY. A Comic Drama in 2 Acts. By J. M. Morton. 5 male, 2
     female char.

     8. TWO GENTLEMEN IN A FIX. A Farce in 1 Act. By W. E. Suter. 2 male

     9. SMASHINGTON GOIT. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 5 male, 3
     female char.

     10. TWO HEADS BETTER THAN ONE. A Farce in 1 Act. By Lenox Horne. 4
     male, 1 female char.

     11. JOHN DOBBS. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 5 male, 2 female

     12. THE DAUGHTER of the REGIMENT. A Drama in 2 Acts. By Edward
     Fitzball, 6 male, 2 female char.

     13. AUNT CHARLOTTE’S MAID. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 3
     male, 3 female char.

     14. BROTHER BILL AND ME. A Farce in 1 Act. By W. E. Suter. 4 male,
     3 female char.

     15. DONE ON BOTH SIDES. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 3 male,
     2 female char.

     16. DUNDUCKETTY’S PICNIC. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 6
     male, 3 female char.

     17. I’VE WRITTEN TO BROWNE. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 4
     male, 3 female char.

     19. MY PRECIOUS BETSY. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 4 male, 4
     female char.

     20. MY TURN NEXT. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 4 male, 3
     female char.

     22. THE PHANTOM BREAKFAST. A Farce in 1 Act. By Chas. Selby. 3
     male, 2 female char.

     23. DANDELION’S DODGES. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 4
     male, 2 female char.

     24. A SLICE OF LUCK. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 4 male, 2
     female char.

     25. ALWAYS INTENDED. A Comedy in 1 Act. By Horace Wigan. 3 male, 3
     female char.

     26. A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP. A Comedy in 2 Acts. By Charles
     Matthews. 6 male, 4 female char.

     27. ANOTHER GLASS. A Drama in 1 Act. By Thomas Morton. 6 male, 3
     female char.

     28. BOWLED OUT. A Farce in 1 Act. By H. T. Craven. 4 male, 3 female

     29. COUSIN TOM. A Commedietta in 1 Act. By Geo. Roberts. 3 male, 2
     female char.

     30. SARAH’S YOUNG MAN. A Farce in 1 Act. By W. E. Suter. 3 male, 3
     female char.

     31. HIT HIM, HE HAS NO FRIENDS. A Farce in 1 Act. By E. Yates and
     N. H. Harrington. 7 male, 3 female char.

     32. THE CHRISTENING. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. B. Buckstone. 5 male,
     6 female char.

     33. A RACE FOR A WIDOW. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 5
     male, 4 female char.

     34. YOUR LIFE’S IN DANGER. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 3
     male, 3 female char.

     35. TRUE UNTO DEATH. A Drama in 2 Acts. By J. Sheridan Knowles. 6
     male, 2 female char.

     36. DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND. An Interlude in 1 Act. By W. H. Murray. 10
     male, 1 female char.

     37. LOOK AFTER BROWN. A Farce in 1 Act. By George A. Stuart, M. D.
     6 male, 1 female char.

     38. MONSEIGNEUR. A Drama in 3 Acts. By Thomas Archer. 15 male, 3
     female char.

     39. A VERY PLEASANT EVENING. A Farce in 1 Act. By W. E. Suter. 3
     male char.

     40. BROTHER BEN. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton. 3 male, 3
     female char.

     41. ONLY A CLOD. A Comic Drama in 1 Act. By J. P. Simpson. 4 male,
     1 female char.

     42. GASPARDO THE GONDOLIER. A Drama in 3 Acts. By George Almar. 10
     male, 2 female char.

     43. SUNSHINE THROUGH THE CLOUDS. A Drama in 1 Act. By Slingsby
     Lawrence. 3 male, 3 female char.

     44. DON’T JUDGE BY APPEARANCES. A Farce in 1 Act. By J. M. Morton.
     3 male, 2 female char.

     45. NURSEY CHICKWEED. A Farce in 1 Act. By T. J. Williams. 4 male,
     2 female char.

     46. MARY MOO; or, Which shall I Marry? A Farce in 1 Act. By W. E.
     Suter. 2 male, 1 female char.

     47. EAST LYNNE. A Drama in 5 Acts. 8 male, 7 female char.

     48. THE HIDDEN HAND. A Drama in 5 Acts. By Robert Jones. 16 male, 7
     female char.

     49. SILVERSTONE’S WAGER. A Commedietta in 1 Act. By R. R. Andrews.
     4 male, 3 female char.

     50. DORA. A Pastoral Drama in 3 Acts. By Chas. Reade. 5 male, 2
     female char.

     55. THE WIFE’S SECRET. A Play in 5 Acts. By Geo. W. Lovell. 10
     male, 2 female char.

     56. THE BABES IN THE WOOD. A Comedy in 3 Acts. By Tom Taylor. 10
     male, 3 female char.

     57. PUTKINS; Heir to Castles in the Air. A Comic Drama in 1 Act. By
     W. R. Emerson. 2 male, 2 female char.

     58. AN UGLY CUSTOMER. A Farce in 1 Act. By Thomas J. Williams. 3
     male, 2 female char.

     59. BLUE AND CHERRY. A Comedy in 1 Act. 3 male, 2 female char.

     60. A DOUBTFUL VICTORY. A Comedy in 1 Act. 3 male, 2 female char.

     61. THE SCARLET LETTER. A Drama in 3 Acts. 8 male, 7 female char.

     62. WHICH WILL HAVE HIM? A Vaudeville. 1 male, 2 female char.

     63. MADAM IS ABED. A Vaudeville in 1 Act. 2 male, 2 female char.

     64. THE ANONYMOUS KISS. A Vaudeville. 2 male, 2 female char.

     65. THE CLEFT STICK. A Comedy in 3 Acts. 5 male, 3 female char.

     66. A SOLDIER, A SAILOR, A TINKER, AND A TAILOR. A Farce in 1 Act.
     4 male, 2 female char.

     67. GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME. A Farce. 2 male, 2 female char.

     68. DAMON AND PYTHIAS. A Farce. 6 male, 4 female char.

     69. A HUSBAND TO ORDER. A Serio-comic Drama in 2 Acts. 5 male, 3
     female char.

     70. PAYABLE ON DEMAND. A Domestic Drama in 2 Acts. 7 male, 1 female

         _Descriptive Catalogue mailed free on application to_

             Geo. M. Baker & Co., 47 Franklin St., Boston.


                               A Farce.

                             AS PERFORMED

                      BY “THE HASTY PUDDING CLUB”

                        OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY.


                     GEORGE M. BAKER AND COMPANY.


                           Copyright, 1882,

                          BY GEORGE M. BAKER.

                        _All Rights Reserved._


                              _A FARCE._



  MR. THEOPHILUS TWITTERS, _a retired sugar merchant_  E. J. WENDELL.

  GOTTLIEB HUNKER, _honorary secretary of the society
    for the prevention of capital_                     J. E. WEBB.

  DR. CHARLES SQUILLCOX, _an apothecary in love
    with Clara_                                        F. C. WOODBURY.

  CLARA TWITTERS                                       H. C. FRENCH.


  MARY JANE                                            R. T. BABSON.

  OFFICER OF THE LAW                                   H. M. HUBBARD.

     SCENE.--_Breakfast-room of the suburban villa of Mr. Twitters. The
     mother of the late Mrs. Twitters and Mary Jane are discovered._

MARY JANE. But I tell you this is Mr. Twitters’ breakfast, mum. There’s
no telling what he’ll do if he don’t catch the train this morning. He’s
ordered the horse ready since seven o’clock.

MOTHER (_breaking an egg_). In the midst of life we are in death. I have
left my humble lodgings this morning to attend the interment of the
remains of our late pastor, the Rev. Dr. Elijah Paddy----a hot muffin,
Mary Jane!

MARY JANE. What will master say, mum? There won’t be no breakfast left.
He has the alarm-clock set in his hat-bath to wake him at seven, and it
made such a noise, mum, that he flung it out the window and went to
sleep again. And he’s been rampaging round and ordering breakfast on
the table for the last hour.

MOTHER. The carriage will serve me in my sad errand. I have a floral
tribute in this box to place upon the grave of the dear departed,----a
little more hot toast, Mary Jane,----an anchor, expressive of hope and
Christian resignation. It will be but a trifle among the many offerings.
The Rev. Mr. Paddy never knew how many friends he had until he was dead
(_breaking another egg_).

MARY JANE. You’re eating the last egg, mum.

MOTHER. I grieve that there is no other egg, but this will suffice to
support me through the trying ceremony. He was an eminent Christian,--he
had three wives. (_Bell rings._)

TWITTERS (_without, calling_). Has that thundering shoemaker sent my new

MARY JANE (_calling at door_). Just come, sir.

MOTHER. Cease this unseemly noise, girl (_rising_), summon the equipage.

MARY JANE. The equipage, mum? I didn’t see you come in no carriage.

MOTHER. My limited earthly resources do not permit me to provide myself
with such luxuries. I shall use one of your master’s. My poor, dear,
departed daughter, did not survive to enjoy his prosperity. I do.

MARY JANE. But he wants the carriage to go to the train, mum.

MOTHER. Trains go hourly. (_Takes up a box. Exit._)

MARY JANE (_standing at window_). Well, if the late Mrs. Twitters was
like this mother of hers, it ain’t no wonder that master’s kind of
fidgety like. There,--she’s got hold of John, now, and she’s stepping
into the carriage that was going to take master to the train. And she’s
druv off! Oh, deary me. What vicious things elderly women can be.
(_Enter Twitters hastily._)

TWITTERS (_Looking at watch_). I shall have a close shave for the 9-20
train, but I think I can manage it. Breakfast’s ready of course, of

MARY JANE. It _was_ ready sir.

TWITTERS (_approaching table_). Why, what on earth does this mean?

MARY JANE. The mother of the late Mrs. Twitters--

TWITTERS. The devil!

MARY JANE. No, sir, the mother of--

TWITTERS. Is she here? (_With feeling._)

MARY JANE. No, sir, she’s gone.

TWITTERS. Something ghoulish is going on somewhere, then, or she would
have stayed. That women is a perfect vulture. If anything horrible
happens to anybody, she comes pouncing down to gloat over it. I’m
becoming a fiend, myself; I rejoice in the news of any misfortune, for
it means temporary deliverance for me from her--has she eaten

MARY JANE. All there was, sir.

TWITTERS. How soon can you get some more?

MARY JANE. It’ll be ten minutes, sir.

TWITTERS. I shall have to breakfast in town, then. I must be off. John’s
here, of course?

MARY JANE. No, sir, he’s took.

TWITTERS. Good heavens! A fit?

MARY JANE. No, sir; the mother of the late Mrs. Twitters.

TWITTERS. Where has she taken him?

MARY JANE. To the funeral obelisk of an Irish gentleman, sir.

TWITTERS. To Parson Paddy’s funeral?

MARY JANE. That’s just it, sir.

TWITTERS. I hated that man, but his death caused me deep sorrow. Her cap
was set at him. I must run for the train. Where are my boots? Ah, here!
(_Opening a box and producing a funeral wreath_) what in the name of
nature is this?

MARY JANE. It’s her’s, sir; she’s been and gone and took the boots to
the burying, and she’s left nothing behind but Christian resignation.

TWITTERS. Damn Christian resignation. (_Pitches box across stage; a
letter falls out; he picks it up and opens it during speech._) Call Miss
Clara and tell her I’ll breakfast with her. I can’t get to town till
eleven, now. And get something uncommonly good to eat, mind you. A bad
temper needs good food.

MARY JANE. Yes, sir; I noticed, sir, how the old lady had a fine

TWITTERS (_severely_). Speak civilly of members of my family, if you
expect to keep your place. (_Glancing at paper, which he has taken from
envelope._) Why, the damned old harridan.

MARY JANE. Yes, sir. (_Exit._)

TWITTERS (_reading_). “Theophilus Twitters, Esq., to Grimsby & Weeper,
florists. Funeral orders attended with despatch in the latest and
tastiest styles. To one Christian resignation, roses, immortelles, etc.,
$15. A prompt payment is requested.” Then in pencil: “For the sake of
our departed Sarah you will please meet this little account.” This is
the last straw. I’m a strong camel but my back breaks at this. I’ll give
orders that she shan’t be let into the house. And as for this bill, here
goes (_goes to table and writes_): “Grimsby & Weeper; sirs: I won’t pay
this rascally, swindling bill, or any other. T. Twitters.” (_Rings bell,
then sealing letter._) That will settle Christian resignation, I reckon.
(_Enter_ CHARLES.)

CHARLES (_standing in door with handful of letters, timidly_). Mr.

TWITTERS (_not looking up_). Come here.

CHARLES (_approaching timidly_). Yes, Mr. T-Twitters.

TWITTERS. Take this to the post and look sharp.

CHARLES. But I’ve just come from the post, sir.

TWITTERS. What’s that to me? (_Looking up._) Dear me, Charles, I thought
you were my man. Seen the paper?

CHARLES. I’ve brought it in, sir.

TWITTERS (_seizing it_). How’s Harshaw this morning?

CHARLES. Why, I never thought of looking, sir. If it had occurred to me
that you’d have liked to know--

TWITTERS. 38 7-8! Three per cent. rise! I’m six thousand in pocket!
(_With a sigh._) You’re a lucky dog, Charles; you don’t tremble whenever
you look at a stock-list.

CHARLES. No, sir; I don’t seem to look at one, often. (_Nervous._)
You’re surprised to see me at this hour, I suppose?

TWITTERS. Hadn’t been--but now you mention it, I am.

CHARLES. You see, I happened in at the post-office, and I saw your mail,
and I thought that you might like to have me leave it at your house on
my way home.

TWITTERS (_laughing_). You’re a sly dog, Charles. What time do I go to

CHARLES. Why, 9-20 I ’spose, sir.

TWITTERS (_pointing to watch_). At this moment it’s 9-25, you young
rascal, and you have the impudence to say that you came to see me.
(_Enter_ MARY JANE.)

MARY JANE. Did you ring, sir?

TWITTERS. Yes. Take this letter to the post, and look sharp (_handing
letter which he has written_); and, I say, tell Miss Clara that there’s
a gentleman here that wants to see her. (_Exit_ MARY JANE.)

CHARLES. Here are your letters, Mr. Twitters. I assure you--

TWITTERS. I like your little game, Charles, I like it. Perhaps Clara’ll
like it, too, you young Machiavelli. Now don’t pretend you didn’t come
to see her. Six thousand in, by Jove. I must sell out Harshaw as soon as
I get to town. Bottom’s sure to fall out of it. (_Enter_ CLARA _with
watering pot_.)

CLARA. Good morning, papa dear, (_kisses him._) Why, Dr. Squillcox, are
you here?

TWITTERS. As if you didn’t expect him.

CLARA. How can you say such things, papa?

CHARLES. Yes, Mr. Twitters, it’s most unjust--

CLARA. If I had expected anybody, should I have brought in this great,
heavy watering-pot?

CHARLES. Can’t I hold it Miss Clara? (_takes it._)

CLARA. I was going to water my flowers in the garden.

TWITTERS. Go along, my dear: and go along with her, you rascal.
(_Laughs. Exeunt_ CHARLES _and_ CLARA _laughing_.)

TWITTERS (_rubbing his hands_). There they go. It does my heart good to
think that my little Clara has such a good fellow to look after her; and
that I can act as the ways and means committee. I’ll take care that
their love shan’t fly out of the window. (_Opens letter._) Here’s the
plumber’s bill. Old Faucet will be rolling in his carriage soon. If
Charles gets tired of medicine I’ll set him up as a plumber. (_Opens
another letter._) Clara’s milliner’s bill. Egad! how Charles’ eyes would
open, if they tried love in a cottage on his professional outcome.
Hollo! What’s this? Shabby looking letter addressed in a shabby hand.
Another bill, I suppose. No. What’s this? (_Reads._) “Theophilus
Twitters, Bloated Bond-holder. I am a foe to capital and the
Grand-master of a secret society organized to cripple said capital, to
muzzle monopolists, and to elevate the horny-handed son of toil.” You
have a good-sized contract, my friend. “When the copartnership of
Tollgate & Twitters engaged in their corner in sugar, and robbed the
poor of the luxuries of a free breakfast-table, our society determined
to foil you. As their agent, I secretly entered the warehouse in which
your hoard of sugar was stored, and secreted in various spots amidst the
innocent condiment no less than twelve pounds of arsenic. After having
done this, I notified your partner, the aforesaid diabolical Tollgate,
of my action, and apprised him that all the sugar must be
destroyed,--else poison would be thrown broadcast upon the world. You,
as his partner, are affected with notice of this. (As a foe to capital,
I have incidentally been trained as a lawyer.) The aforesaid diabolical
Tollgate, with your connivance,”--Damn law words. I hate ’em--“With your
connivance sold the sugar. Through secret channels the deadly grains of
arsenic are distilled into the veins of society. The blushing damsel,
receiving taffy from her lover, curls up and dies. The fond mother,
pouring out her children’s cambric tea, gives them the black wine of
death. Candy-shops are charnel-houses! Society gatherings are volcanos!
Ice-cream leads to the grave! And all through you, most miserable of
mortals, who lie soft and count your ill-gotten wealth.” (_Enter_ MARY
JANE _with coffee. He starts to drink_.) “But even you are not exempt
from the insidious enemy. The very cup of coffee that you may now be
raising to your lips may call you to judgment.” (_Drops coffee cup._)
What sinful nonsense. I shouldn’t give it a thought if it didn’t charge
my poor dead partner with such villany. And Tollgate was a Sunday-school
superintendent. (_Enter_ MARY JANE _with breakfast_.)

MARY JANE. The letter’s mailed, sir.

TWITTERS. Letter? What do you know about the letter?

MARY JANE. Sure, you gave it to me, sir.

TWITTERS. No such thing. Ah, to be sure! How absurd to be so
discomposed. So breakfast’s ready?

MARY JANE (_arranging table_). Yes, sir.

TWITTERS (_after a short pause, during which he has fidgeted_). By the
way, Mary Jane, you haven’t happened to hear much illness about of late.
Have you?

MARY JANE. Why, sir, there has been folks go off sudden.

TWITTERS. You don’t say so? Who?

MARY JANE. Well, sir; there was poor Mr. Tollgate.

TWITTERS. Apoplexy--apoplexy, beyond all doubt. Caused by the success of
our corner.

MARY JANE. Then, sir, there was my grandmother, only last week, sir.

TWITTERS. Yes, I remember. But I’ve remarked that that melancholy event
has happened twenty-seven times in the course of the year. I infer that
your grandfather was a Mormon.

MARY JANE. Which I consider that remark most unfeeling, sir. And what
with waiting on the mother of the late Mrs. Twitters, sir, and getting
two breakfasts for you, and having my own grandfather abused, sir, I
cannot submit to it, sir.

TWITTERS. Leave the room, girl.

MARY JANE. Which I shall take pleasure in leaving, sir, this day week,
sir. (_Exit._)

TWITTERS (_playing with breakfast things_). All right. It’s absurd to
think of this matter. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred an anonymous
letter is a lie, but if this should turn out to be the hundredth I
should be a Borgia. Heavens. What a situation. Why, even my poor
daughter would be blighted. I could never permit her to marry and to
perpetuate a crime-stained race. I wonder what the effect of arsenic is.
Happy thought. I’ll look it up in my encyclopædia. Glad to put the thing
to some use. (_Takes down the volume._) A-r-t--a-r-s-e-n-i-c. That’s it.
(_Reads._) “Arsenic is one of the most violent of the acrid poisons. Its
use in medicine and toxicological properties are treated under medical
jurisprudence.” Damn it. Just my luck. (_Looks at bookcase again._) My
set stops at “Lam.” Pooh! Pooh! Why, even if the whole thing were true,
twelve pounds. (_Looks at letter._) Yes, he says twelve pounds--in a
whole warehouse full of sugar wouldn’t do more than improve the
complexion of the public. I should be a benefactor. (_Enter Charles and

CLARA. Is breakfast all ready, papa, dear? I’m dreadfully hungry.

TWITTERS. Quite ready, dear.

CHARLES. Where shall I put this? It’s very heavy.


CHARLES. Yes, you see it is quite full of water. I’m afraid of wetting
the carpet, you see.

CLARA. Why! Sure enough! We forgot to water the flowers!

TWITTERS. Forgot it, eh? Young people have queer memories, nowadays. Put
that confounded thing in the hall, Charles. You are a medical man. How
do you account for the curious prevalence of sudden death?

CHARLES (_returning from hall door_). Why, I haven’t thought much about

TWITTERS. The newspapers talk about arsenic in wall papers. Nonsense,
don’t you think so?

CHARLES (_soaring to professional fluency_). Not a bit of it. Arsenic is
the most deadly of drugs.

TWITTERS. Oh, you don’t say so?

CLARA. What a disagreeable subject! Come to breakfast, papa dear. (_At

TWITTERS. Stop, Clara, we are not ready for food; I am interested in
this matter. How deadly is arsenic--how much would kill?

CHARLES. Well, in wall-papers it’s one thing; in the stomach, it is

TWITTERS. Take stomachs. I’m interested.

CHARLES. It’s only common prudence to have your wall-paper tested
(_looking at paper_); I don’t like that green.

TWITTERS. Confound it, sir; I’m talking about stomachs.

CLARA. Papa dear, aren’t you ready?

TWITTERS. Don’t interrupt us. Charles--how much arsenic will kill?

CHARLES. A deadly dose for an adult is five grains.

TWITTERS. How do you weigh it? How many grains to the pound?

CHARLES. Twenty grains make a scruple--there are three scruples in a
dram--that’s sixty grains--in an ounce there are eight drams--that makes
four hundred and eighty--and in a pound there are twelve ounces--twelve
times four hundred and eighty are five thousand seven hundred and

TWITTERS. Then a pound will kill--?

CHARLES. Five into five once--into seven, once and two over--into
twenty-six, five times and one over--and into ten twice. A pound would
kill about eleven hundred and fifty-two able-bodied men.

TWITTERS (_to himself_). Twelve times eleven hundred and--good heavens.
(_Sinks into chair._)

CLARA. Charles is going to breakfast with us, papa dear.

TWITTERS. Charles! What do you mean by speaking of Dr. Squillcox by his
Christian name?

CLARA. Why--_you_ do, papa dear.

TWITTERS. Yes; but I’m not a marriageable young woman.

CLARA (_to Charles_). You had better speak, dear.

CHARLES. Mr. Twitters--the fact is--

CLARA. Yes, papa; the fact is--

TWITTERS. The fact is, young man, that you have come here before
cock-crow, pretending to bring the mail to me--gauzy pretext--

CHARLES. I assure you, Mr. Twitters, I did nothing of the sort.

CLARA. By no means, papa dear. He came to see me; and he is going to ask

TWITTERS. I see what he’s at. I consider your behavior surreptitious,
sir. What have you to recommend you?

CLARA. He has my love, papa dear. That’s all _you_ have but a little
money. Now be a dear, good, sweet papa.

TWITTERS. Sweet! Oh--42,000 grains--I have your love, then?

CLARA. Why, yes, papa.

TWITTERS. Very good. I don’t choose to share it. Your conduct is little
better than robbery, sir. You ought to blush redder than the bottles
that conceal the poverty of your stock in trade.

CHARLES. My calling is respectable, sir.

TWITTERS. Then follow its example in your conduct, sir.

CHARLES. I shall, sir. (_Going._)

CLARA. Charles, are you going away?

CHARLES. Naturally.

TWITTERS. And naturally, sir, you won’t expect to return?

CHARLES. Naturally not, sir. (_Exit._)

TWITTERS (_aside_). There he goes; worthy young fellow. But while this
arsenic is hanging over my head there must be no thought of love or
marriage in this fated home. Clara, dear, don’t let this trouble you.

CLARA. O, papa, I don’t know which of you troubles me most. You are so
harsh and Charles was so--so--

TWITTERS. Pusillanimous, Clara. A single rebuff was enough for him.

CLARA (_crying_). O, dear! O, dear!

TWITTERS (_patting her shoulder_). There, dear, there! Remember, as long
as I live you have some one to love you.

CLARA. But it isn’t the same thing.

TWITTERS. No, the honest love of a father is lasting--come to breakfast.

CLARA (_going to table sobbing_). T-two lumps in your coffee, papa?

TWITTERS (_with emphasis_). Great Heavens! No! (_Recovering himself._)
That has been my usual dose.

CLARA. Dose! (_Sobbing again._) O dear! Poor Charles!

TWITTERS (_aside_). A deadly dose for an adult is five grains--twelve
times eleven hundred and fifty-two--enough to kill twenty-five thousand
women and children. The board of water commissioners are a choir of
white-robed angels beside my partner if this is true. Why will you put
so much sugar in your coffee, dear? You make it a perfect liqueur!

CLARA. I always had a sweet tooth.

TWITTERS. A sweet tooth leads through a heap of dentist’s bills to a set
of false ones. I can’t have you eating these horrid sweet things,
candies, sweet-meats, ices, and jams. Your dentist’s bills ruin--(_he
has pulled her coffee cup towards him, and put salt into it_).

CLARA. What are you doing with my coffee, papa?

TWITTERS. Putting salt in it; it’s not coffee that hurts you, it’s the
mixture of coffee and sugar. I read somewhere that coffee and sugar
together make leather.

CLARA. No, papa; tea and milk.

TWITTERS. Coffee and sugar! (_Aside._) Of course the letter’s a hoax. It
doesn’t disconcert me. But to think of my partner having a monument
detailing his Christian virtues! He always passed the contribution box,
and, now I think of it, he used to have a great deal of loose change of
a Monday. Read me the paper, dear.

CLARA. I don’t like reading aloud. The newspapers are so full of
politics and murders and business and accidents.

TWITTERS. I regard the daily paper as a necessary part of every young
girl’s education. Here it is.

CLARA (_reading_). “Double hanging in Atlanta! Pernicious poisoning. A
diabolical crime.”

TWITTERS (_starting_). Eh!

CLARA (_reading_). “A man poisoned by lemonade administered by his wife.
The post-mortem reveals distinct traces of arsenic in the stomach.”

TWITTERS. Clara! Where was it?

CLARA. O, in Kalamazoo, or some such horrid western place.

TWITTERS. Kalamazoo! Great heavens!

CLARA. How can a horrid man in Kalamazoo concern us?

TWITTERS. In no way my dear. (_Aside._) I must dissemble--go on.

CLARA (_reading_). “The unfortunate couple were well known in the
highest social circles. The married life of the twain had been unmarred
by a cloud. It seems most strange that a train of circumstantial
evidence is wound around the unhappy wife, which points”--(_stops_).
Papa, dear, how can a chain point.

TWITTERS. Continue your reading, flippant girl.

CLARA (_reading_). “Which points at her as the murderess. It seems that,
with a noteworthy economy, she alone of the household had access to the
sugar barrel.” (_Turns and refolds paper._)

TWITTERS (_aside_). The sugar barrel! In far-off Kalamazoo! That letter
bears the stamp of truth.

CLARA (_having folded paper, reads_). “The lemonade was prepared with
her own hands. Traces of arsenic were found in the glass from which the
victim drank his last drink; and in the barrel of sugar, which had but
just arrived from the highly respectable store of Spicer & Co., not less
than half an ounce has already been discovered--” What stupid stuff!
Why, papa! What is the matter?

TWITTERS (_with his head on his hands, in agony_). Nothing, my dear
nothing. It is so terrible to think of all that suffering (_Enter

HUNKER. Mr. Twitters, I believe.

TWITTERS. Yes, what do you want? (_Seizing and pocketing paper._)

HUNKER. Your servant was not disposed to introduce me, so I take the
liberty of introducing myself.

TWITTERS. I’m not well this morning, sir.

HUNKER (_sitting down._) Naturally enough. The morning news doesn’t
agree with you, I presume.

TWITTERS (_nervous_). I don’t understand you.

HUNKER. I have a little business with you--rather private nature. You
might prefer to have our young friend here leave the room.

CLARA (_rising with dignity_). I am going, papa.

HUNKER. Good day--Miss Twitters, I reckon--pleased to have met you. Hope
to see more of you. (_Exit_ CLARA.)

TWITTERS. And now, sir, who are you?

HUNKER. “A foe to capital, and the grand master of a society organized
to cripple said capital, muzzle monopolists and elevate the horny-handed
son of toil”--at your service, sir.

TWITTERS. Ah, you wrote me a letter this morning?

HUNKER. I did.

TWITTERS. The writers of anonymous letters are dealt with according to
the law.

HUNKER. So are venders of poisoned food.

TWITTERS. I don’t believe a word of your story.

HUNKER (_calmly and deliberately producing papers, which he turns
over_). I have proofs that arsenic was in the sugar, that the sugar was
sold by the copartnership of Tollgate & Twitters, that one if not both
of said firm knew of this rather unpleasant adulteration. (_Twitters
grabs at papers._) Don’t lose your self-control, Twitters, I never do.
There are copies.

TWITTERS. Granting your proofs, then,--supposing the whole thing true,
you, the poisoner, will suffer more than I, the victim.

HUNKER (_calmly_). I shall turn State’s evidence.

TWITTERS (_sinking back in chair_). Good heavens!

HUNKER. See here, Twitters. I’m a fair minded man. In practically
maintaining sound economic principles, I’ve concocted a scrape. We’re
both in it. We must back each other up.

TWITTERS. What do you want me to do?

HUNKER. Well, I ain’t comfortable.

TWITTERS. Neither am I.

HUNKER. Naturally; you don’t like the prospect of hanging, and I don’t
like the prospect of continuing to breakfast from early morning
milk-cans, and to bone newspapers to keep me in tobacco. Now, you make
me comfortable and I’ll guarantee you shan’t swing.

TWITTERS. Well, well, how much do you want?

HUNKER. I aint mean in money matters. Let’s see--By Jove, Twitters, I
like the looks of this box of yours. I’ll make you a visit.

TWITTERS. I’m not joking, sir.

HUNKER. No more am I,--I have proofs; first, that arsenic was in the
sugar; second--

TWITTERS. I must yield.

HUNKER. All right, Twitters. You’re more intelligent than you look.

TWITTERS. I have a good back room.

HUNKER. I prefer a front one.

TWITTERS. The front one is mine.

HUNKER. Sorry to inconvenience you, I’m sure, but I can’t put up with a
back one.

TWITTERS (_aside_). Crimes do come home to roost with a vengeance!
(_Aloud._) Where is your trunk?

HUNKER. Would you believe it, Twitters, I’ve shoved up every thundering
rag that ain’t on my back. I’ll borrow of you.

TWITTERS. This passes patience.

HUNKER. It’s hard to bear; but your clothes are good, if they aint
handsome. I aint proud. But proud or not, I want a bath. If you’ll
believe it, Twitters, I’ve not bathed since--but we won’t be unpleasant
and vulgar, will we?

TWITTERS. The servant will show you to the bath-room.

HUNKER. You’d better do it yourself, Twitters; I don’t like to lose
sight of you--not that you’re so awful handsome to look at, but--you
twig? Thanks, I’ll sample your strong waters (_pouring brandy from
decanter to goblet and drinking_). Where’s the bath-room?

TWITTERS. This way.

HUNKER. All right. Now you treat me fair, and I’ll treat you fair.
(_Smacking his lips._) I’m square. That’s prime tipple. (_Exeunt._)

CHARLES (_appearing at window_). Nobody’s here. I must see Clara! (_Door
opens._) I wouldn’t be seen. Twitters is capable of setting dogs on me.
(_Dodges down. Enter_ CLARA.)

CLARA. Papa! Is that horrid man gone? Papa?

CHARLES (_appearing again_). Hush!

CLARA (_starting and turning_). Oh!--It’s you, and crawling through the
window. Dr. Squillcox.

CHARLES. “Dr. Squillcox.” O, Clara--come here.

CLARA (_approaching window_). I hate you. If you had really loved me you
would have shown more courage with papa.

CHARLES. It was insane of me to ask a man for his daughter’s hand before
he had eaten his breakfast. (_Takes her hand._) But it’s all serene,
little girl. I’ll make it well. (_Kisses her._)

CLARA. It doesn’t make it well at all.

CHARLES. I have such an immense plan. You must be taken very ill, this
afternoon. Your father will forget his dyspepsia in worrying over you.
All remedies they give you must fail. Old Dr. Parkinson is away, and--

CLARA (_clapping her hands_). And papa will have to send for you. At
your first powder--you mustn’t give me pills--I can’t take them--I’ll
get well immediately.

CHARLES. And your papa, delighted at my skill, will give your hand to
your preserver.

CLARA. How clever you are, Charles! (_Noise without._) Go away.
Somebody’s coming. (_Charles disappears._)

(_Enter_ TWITTERS.)

TWITTERS (_advancing thoughtfully, aside_). I wonder if the brand of
Cain is perceptible upon my brow. To think that I should be the cause of
all this suffering! That no day may pass without a death which proper
investigation might lay at my door! That all my life must be passed
with this terrible man. I cannot endure it! (_Sits down._)

CLARA (_approaching him_). Why, papa, you look ill.

TWITTERS. Ill! Yes, this is a wicked world, Clara. I meant to strew your
path with roses, to hide from you the villainy--

HUNKER (_without, shouting_). Towels, Twitters.

CLARA. O, dear! What is that?

TWITTERS (_rising_). It is the voice of fate. (_Calling._) Coming, sir.

CLARA. What _do_ you mean?

HUNKER (_without_). Found ’em! No matter!

TWITTERS. A gentleman is come to stay with me, dear; and while he is
here, we shall have so much business together that I have been thinking
that it might be well for you to visit your kind grandmother.

CLARA. But I don’t want to. Grandma has horrid things to eat. Who is
this gentleman?

TWITTERS. You saw him here, this morning.

CLARA. That horrid, dirty man!

TWITTERS. An old friend of my boyhood, Clara--a worthy man, whom the
world has dog’s-eared by hard usage. I am superior to prejudice, but I
cannot expect you to be.

CLARA. I should hope not.

TWITTERS. So you had better go at once, dear. I’ll send your things. He
is rough, I know, but he has a gentle, kind heart--

HUNKER (_without_). I say, Twitters! Where are you? Damn you!

TWITTERS (_calling_). Here, sir. (_To Clara._) Go away, dear, quickly.

(_Clara goes toward door. As she reaches it, Hunker appears and meets
her, face to face. He is showily dressed in clothes of Twitters’,
somewhat too small_.)

HUNKER (_bowing_). Much obliged, miss; you were coming to show me the
way, I ’spose. I’ve found it, you see. I heard your lovely voice.

TWITTERS. My daughter was going out, Mr. Hunker.

HUNKER. I guess she’d better not. It ain’t a nice day out.

CLARA. I beg your pardon, sir.

HUNKER. Twitters, this young woman mustn’t go out. Do you twig?

CLARA. Good-bye, papa.

TWITTERS. You had better stay, dear. (_Clara stops, amazed._)

HUNKER. So I think. (_Drawing long breath._) I feel like a new man, and
I’m going to give the new man a drink. (_Pouring out brandy again._)
What’s her name, Twitters?

TWITTERS. My daughter is named Clara, sir.

HUNKER. Lovely name. Here’s to Clara (_drinking_). Sit down; we’ll soon
be pals.

TWITTERS. Sit down, dear. (_Clara sits amazed._)

HUNKER. Two young people like us can’t be thrown together in a house
without liking each other pretty well?

CLARA (_to Twitters_). I cannot submit to this, papa.

TWITTERS (_to Clara_). We should never take offence when none is meant,

HUNKER. I’m an adventurous cuss, Miss Clara--just on from Arizona to
float a gold mine on the eastern market. Going to let Twitters in at
bed-rock prices--eh, Twitters?

TWITTERS. Yes, yes, of course.

HUNKER. We had hard old sledding on the plains, at times, Miss Clara.

CLARA. Indeed, sir!

HUNKER. Chased by Indians twenty miles, riding with Custer--you know
Custer? Seventeen of them miles I had a bullet in my leg (_starting to
pull up his trouser leg_)--want to see the scar?

CLARA (_with terror_). No! No!

HUNKER (_pleased with himself_). O, we’re kindred spirits; we’ll soon be
friends. I like your New England country. As Lady Franklin said to me,
when we was taking supper together on the Oregon steamer. She was goin’
to hunt up John’s bones in Sitka, where I kept a hotel--“Beans is a
benevolent institution, Mr. Hunker,” says she. “You’re right, Lady F.,”
says I. Now speak up, if you’re talked to death, Miss Clara.

CLARA. I have nothing to say.

HUNKER. All right. I can talk right along,--keep it up forever. By
George, it would be funny if you and I should conclude to keep it up
forever--eh, Clara?

CLARA. I don’t understand this man, papa.

TWITTERS. He is a rough diamond, dear.

CLARA. Then he ought to be “cut.”

HUNKER. Why, make a match of it.

CLARA (_aside_). O dear. I shall be ill, really. I must send for
Charles. (_Aloud._) Papa, I don’t feel well.

TWITTERS (_starting_). Eh, my dear! What’s the matter?

CLARA. I have a head-ache.--

HUNKER. Have you been eating sugar?

TWITTERS (_agonized_). I fear so.

HUNKER. Does your throat burn?

CLARA (_faintly_). Yes, yes, I want to lie down (_they lead her to

HUNKER. My God! It’s the symptoms--see what you’ve done!

TWITTERS. I, you miserable man! Behold your work!

HUNKER. No time for fooling, Twitters. I know the antidote. I’ll run to
the nearest apothecary--it’s too bad, I vow! Here, give me sixty cents.

TWITTERS. There you are, my poor child! (_Gets towel, which he wets with
cologne and puts to her head._) Does that help you?

CLARA. O papa. It doesn’t make me any better! Send for the doctor!

TWITTERS. Yes, yes. (_Aside._) If the doctor should discover poisoning!
If it should be traced to me!

CLARA (_faintly_). Dr. Squillcox--the other one’s away.

MOTHER (_without_). Where is Twitters? I _will_ see him. (_Enter

MOTHER. You are here--I entered the hushed chamber where all that was
mortal of the sainted Elijah Paddy was lying--

TWITTERS. Don’t talk of death.

MOTHER. Overcome by emotion, I averted my head, and blindly removing the
brown paper wrapping, I placed upon the heart of the departed what I
thought to be a floral tribute--a lovely anchor, expressive of hope and
christian resignation--

TWITTERS. Can’t you see that poor Clara is ill? Be still, woman.

MOTHER. Who insults me by calling me woman? I stood with averted face. A
stir of excitement thrilled the hushed and weeping assembly as my
offering was seen. Touched by this appreciation of my tribute, I turned
to take a last view of all that was earthly of the departed--there, amid
a heap of roses and camellias lay those odious _boots_. (_Pulling them
from under her cloak, holding them at arm’s length and throwing them
down._) Without a word I fled. I am undone forever.

TWITTERS. Say no more of boots. Look at my suffering child and hold your

MOTHER. I need no word from you to succor my departed Sarah’s child
(_walking towards the couch. She snatches at_ TWITTERS’ _hand_). Your
allopathic doses are killing her (_producing phial_). These pellets will
cure her (_starts to give_ CLARA _pills_).

TWITTERS. No sugar pills! For heaven’s sake, no sugar!

MOTHER (_severely_). These are rendered efficacious by an infinitesimal
reduction of arsenic.

TWITTERS (_in agony_). Give them to me. (_Struggling with her._)

MOTHER. Prejudiced monster. Like cures like. (_They struggle for the
phial. Twitters wrenches it away and flings it into the fire-place.
Mother stands panting with rage._)

(_Enter an Officer of the Law._)

OFFICER. Theophilus Twitters?

TWITTERS (_excited_). Yes, what is it?

OFFICER. I arrest you, in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

TWITTERS (_agonized_). The blow is fallen!

MOTHER (_between horror and joy_). O that I should have lived to see
this day! (_Crossing to_ CLARA.) My poor child, your mother’s mother
will care for you, while your sinful parent expiates his crimes!

CLARA (_aside_). Why doesn’t Charles come?

TWITTERS (_imploring_). Officer, a few moments with my suffering child.

OFFICER. Couldn’t think of it. Get your hat.

(_Enter_ HUNKER, _hastily, followed by_ CHARLES).

HUNKER (_recognizing_ OFFICER, _aside_). Thunder. There’s a copp.
(_Aloud, with tremor._) What’s wanted?

OFFICER (_sententiously_). Twitters.

CHARLES (_coming forward_). And this man, too--

HUNKER (_imploring_). Shut up! I’ll fix things!

$1eks ago he came to me and offered me a large sum for
twelve pounds of arsenic--to kill rats, he said, but--

$1s risen in her excitement_). But, what?

$1ing with excitement_). But what, Charles?

$1 he might not go elsewhere--for I saw that his end was
crime--I sold him _powdered sugar_!

$1 sugar! A mountain has rolled off my breast! You’re an
angel, Charles!

$1d_). _You’re a damned mean apothecary!_

$1 you don’t want me now?

$1see how all this makes any difference in the suit of
Grimsby _et al._ _v._ Twitters,--criminal libel.

TWITTERS. Grimsby & Weeper!

OFFICER. Them’s the people. You called them rascally swindlers.

MOTHER. The makers of my tribute.

TWITTERS. They didn’t like my letter?

OFFICER. That’s so. But you’re a stampy old duffer. This gentleman
(_pointing to_ CHARLES) will go surety on your bond?

HUNKER. Good day, gents and ladies (_starts to go. To_ CLARA). Now our
match is off, you’ve got well putty quick. Good day.

OFFICER. See here (_touching his shoulder_).

HUNKER. I aint libelled nobody.

OFFICER. Dry up! Come along with me. I want your phiz in the rogues’

HUNKER (_putting hat on one side_). I guess I can screw it up so as you
won’t know it again. I say, Twitters, I’ve made a suit of clothes out of
this, anyhow. (_Exeunt._)

TWITTERS (_to_ CLARA). Ah, you sly puss! Charles was the medicine you
needed! Here, Charles, she’s your’s and half my fortune with her. Thank
heaven, I’m not a blear-eyed Borgia, chumming with a prison-bird.

CLARA. I don’t understand you, papa.

TWITTERS. No reason you should, my dear. Everything is bright and happy,
excepting that I shall lose my little girl and be left all alone.

MOTHER (_embracing him_). I will take her place, Theophilus. The past
shall be forgotten. I will never desert the lonely husband of my
departed Sarah.

TWITTERS (_shaking her off. To himself_). I shall have to send for


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