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Title: How to Settle Accounts with your Laundress - An Original Farce, in One Act
Author: Coyne, J. Stirling
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Settle Accounts with your Laundress - An Original Farce, in One Act" ***

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and the University of California, Davis.



HOW TO SETTLE ACCOUNTS WITH YOUR LAUNDRESS.

AN ORIGINAL FARCE, IN ONE ACT.

BY J. STIRLING COYNE.

_First performed at the Theatre Royal, Adelphi, Monday, July _26,
1847.



Dramatis Personæ

WHITTINGTON WIDGETTS   (A West-end Tailor)          Mr. Wright.

BARNEY TWILL    (Widgett's Page and Light Porter)   Mr. Ryan.

JACOB BROWN       (A Hairdresser at the Opera)      Mr. Munyard.

POSTMAN                                             Mr. Lindon.

WAITER                                              Mr. Mitchenson.

MDLLE. CHERI BOUNCE     (An Opera Dancer)           Miss E. Harding.

MARY WHITE             (A Young Laundress)          Miss Woolgar.


TIME OF REPRESENTATION.--Fifty minutes.



COSTUME.

WHITTINGTON WIDGETTS.--_First dress:_ Blue coat; white vest; gray plaid
trousers. _Second dress:_ Green coat; pink vest. _Third dress:_ Black
coat.

BARNEY TWILL.--Green page's suit.

JACOB BROWN.--Puce frock coat; blue vest; nankeen trousers.

MDLLE. CHERI BOUNCE.--Fashionable silk dress; blue satin visite,
trimmed with lace; pink bonnet.

MARY WHITE.--_First dress:_ Pink print dress; green shawl; and straw
bonnet. _Second dress:_ Blue blouse; drab leggings; red cravat; and
fancy cap. _Third dress:_ Drab paletot; white vest; and trousers.



STAGE DIRECTIONS.

EXITS AND ENTRANCES.--R. means _Right;_ L. _Left;_ D. F. _Door in
Flat;_ R. D. _Right Door; _L. D. _Left Door;_ S. E. _Second Entrance;_
U. E. _Upper Entrance;_ M. D. _Middle Door;_ L. U. E. _Left Upper
Entrance;_ R. U. E. _Right Upper Entrance;_ L. S. E. _Left Second
Entrance;_ P. S. _Prompt Side;_ O. P. _Opposite Prompt._

RELATIVE POSITIONS.--R. means _Right;_ L. _Left;_ C. _Centre;_ R. C.
_Right of Centre;_ L. C. _Left of Centre._

     R.  RC.  C.  LC.  L.

*** _The Reader is supposed to be on the Stage, facing the Audience._



HOW TO SETTLE ACCOUNTS WITH YOUR LAUNDRESS.

SCENE.--_A Tailor's Show-room, Jermyn-street, handsomely fitted up
with cheval glass, large round table in centre, fashionable chairs,
&c. A dummy figure, dressed in the extreme mode, near window. Articles
of gentlemen's attire exhibited in window, L. U. E. Door of entrance
to street, L. S. E. Fireplace and chimney-glass, R. E. Door to
Widgetts' chamber, R. S. E. Large pair of folding-doors, C. F.,
opening towards the stage; beyond these doors, a passage to the
kitchen, in which stands a stillion, with a water-butt standing on it.
At the end of this passage, the door of the kitchen. A round table,
C., with writing materials and lighted candle upon it. A print of the
fashions and tailor's patterns cut in brown paper on the wall. Table
at back, L., on which is a table lamp. Another table at back, R., on
which is a bottle of brandy and glasses. TWILL discovered brushing the
coat on the dummy figure, and singing a verse of an Irish song. A
postman's knock at door, L._

TWILL. Whist! I'll bet a pinny that's the post.

(_Runs to door and opens it._)

_POSTMAN appears._

POST. Mr. Widgetts!

(_Gives letter to Twill._)

TWILL. Thank you, sir. Maybe you've got a bit of a letter for me, from
my poor mother in Ireland? I'm not particular--the first that comes to
hand in the bundle will do.

POST. No, I haven't one for you.

TWILL. Thank you, sir. Maybe you'd have one the next time. Good-bye,
sir.

[_Postman goes away. Twill, reading the address on the letter._

"Whittington Widgetts, Esquire." Ow wow! Esquire! the devil a ha'porth
less. "Whittington Widgetts, Esquire, Hierokosma, Jarmyn Street."
Hierokosma! That's French for a tailor's shop. By the Attorney-General
'twould give a man a headache in his elbow to write such a cramp word.
(_Smells the letter._) Why then it smells elegant intirely. (_Goes to
door, R., and enters while speaking._) Mr. Widgetts, here's a letter
for you, sir.

(_Returns immediately from the room, re-commences his song, and begins
to brush the figure again. A church clock in the neighbourhood strikes
eight._)

WID. Twill!

(_Speaking from the door of chamber, R._)

TWILL. There, listen to that row. That master of mine will persist in
calling me Twill, though he knows my name is Barney Toole, because
Twill, he says, is genteeler.

WID. What o'clock is that, Twill?

TWILL. Eight o'clock, sir.

WID. Put up the shutters.

TWILL. What the devil can he mean? We never shut until nine o'clock.

_Enter WIDGETTS from chamber, R., kissing a note which he holds._

WID. Well, don't you hear me? Put up the shutters and close the
establishment, directly.

TWILL. Of coorse, sir. Never say it twice.

(_Twill runs out by door, L., and is seen putting up the window
shutters outside._)

WID. This night I devote to the tender union of love and lobsters. The
adorable Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce, the ballet dancer, at last consents
to partake a little quiet supper with me here this evening. I must
read her charming note once more. (_Reads._) "Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce
presents compliments to Mr. Whittington Widgetts, will feel happy to
sup with Mr. W. W. this evening. Ma'amselle C. B. fears that female
notions don't correspond with supping with a single gent, but lobsters
is stronger than prudence, therefore trusts to indulgence; at nine
o'clock precise. P.S.--I'll come in my blue visite and my native
innocence, and hopes you'll treat them with proper delicacy."
Glorious! Angelic creature! (_Kisses the letter and puts it in his
waistcoat pocket._) Oh! Widgetts, you lucky rascal, to have the
happiness of a private and confidential supper with that magnificent
girl, whose image has never left my mind since the evening I danced
with her at the Casino. (_Calls._) Twill!

TWILL. (_entering from door, L._) Sir?

WID. You must run directly to the tavern, over the way, and order them
to send a roast fowl and lobster, in the shell, here, at nine o'clock.

TWILL. Roast fowl, sir?

WID. And lobster. He--hem! I expect a particular party to sup with me.

TWILL. Coorse you'll want cigars, sir?

WID. No. The party, Twill, is a lady and don't smoke.

TWILL. A lady! Tare my agers, sir. Does the lady bring the lady's maid
with her?

WID. Don't be impertinent, Twill, but listen to me. The party I expect
is Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce, a splendid creature, who dances on a
limited income, with the strictest regard to propriety, at the Opera
House, and gives lessons to private pupils in the _pokar_ and the
waltz _ah do tongs_.

TWILL. Whoo! She must be a switcher. (_Going._) I'll run directly,
sir.

WID. Stay! I must make myself attractive for the interesting occasion.
Give me the coat that has just been finished for Sir Chippin Porrage,
and the waistcoat that's to be sent home to-morrow morning for the
Honourable Cecil Harrowgate's wedding. (_Twill hands a dress coat and
waistcoat from the table, L._) I'll give them an air of gentility by
wearing them this evening. That will do. There, be off now.

TWILL. Ha, ha! By the powers o' war, when you get them on your back,
sir, you'll be like Mulligan's dog, your own father wouldn't know you.

_Widgetts carries the coat and waistcoat into his bed-room, R., Twill
is going towards door, L., when MARY WHITE, the laundress, enters,
carrying a basket of clothes under her arm._

MARY. Here, Twill, take my basket, good chap. Is master at home?

TWILL. (_Takes basket._) Yes, he _is_ at home. (_Aside._) Take my
basket, good chap. Well, there's no bearing the impudence of the lower
orders. (_Sets down basket, R., and calls at door, R._) Please, sir,
here's the laundress come for your clothes. (_Crosses to door, L.
Aside._) Good chap!

[_Exit, R._

WID. (_entering, R., aside._) She always comes at an awkward crisis.
(_Mary takes off her shawl and sits, L._) Mary, my dear, you're rather
late this evening.

MARY. Oh dear, yes! I've been half over the town for my customers'
washing, and I'm almost tired to death, but I left yours for last,
that we might have a comfortable chat together. Stop a minute though
till I take off my clogs.

[_She goes into the kitchen passing through the folding-doors._

WID. (_Apart._) The poor creature loves me to distraction, but she's
painfully familiar; she forgets that our positions are materially
altered since I was a journeyman tailor in a two pair back, struggling
to make love and trousers for the small remuneration of fifteen
shillings a week. Mary White is an uncommon nice girl--as a laundress,
but my sentiments is changed respecting her as a wife.

_MARY WHITE re-enters and comes down, L._

MARY. Now, Widgy, dear---- Oh, good gracious, what a love of a
waistcoat you've on! Let me look at it, do? Well, it's a real beauty.

WID. Stylish, eh? The last Paris touch.

MARY. You used not to wear such waistcoats as that when you lived in
Fuller's Rents.

WID. Oh, no, no! Ha, ha! (_Aside._) I wish she'd cut Fuller's Rents.

MARY. Do you know, Widgy, I don't think you're at all improved since
you fell in for that fortune, by a legacy you never expected. When you
lived in Fuller's Rents you used to walk out with me on a Sunday. You
never walk with me at all now.

WID. Walking's vulgar, my dear.

MARY. And you sometimes used to take me at half-price to the theatres.

WID. Theatres is low, my dear.

MARY. And you remember how we used to go together to Greenwich, with a
paper of ham sandwiches in my basket, and sit under the trees in the
park, and talk, and laugh--law! how we used to laugh to be sure!--and
then you used to talk of love and constancy and connubial felicitude
in a little back parlour, and a heap of beautiful things.

WID. (_Aside._) A heap of rubbish.

MARY. And you know, Widgy, dear, when we enter that happy state----

WID. What state do you allude to, Miss White?

MARY. The marriage state, of course.

WID. Oh, indeed. Ah!

MARY. You don't forget, I hope, that I have your promissory note on
the back of twenty-nine unpaid washing bills to make me your lawful
wife. (_Produces several papers._) There they are--and there's the
last of them. (_Reads._) "Six months after date I promise to marry
Miss Mary White." There, sir, you're due next Monday.

WID. Am I! Then I'm afraid I sha'n't be prepared to take myself up.
I'll let myself be protested.

MARY. No, you sha'n't; you've been protested often enough. I can't be
put off any longer, and understand me, Mr. Widgetts, I _won't_
neither.

WID. (_Aside._) There's a savage hymeneal look in her eye that makes
me shiver in my Alberts. I must soothe her a little or I shall have a
scene. Why, Mary, my dear, now don't be angry, you know it's one of my
jokes.

MARY. Well, you'd better not try any more of them, for I don't like
them. No woman does.

WID. No, of course, no woman does. Ha, ha, ha! Quite proper too, my
dear.

MARY. Well, now that matter's settled, I'll go and collect your soiled
things, for it's getting late.

WID. Do so, Mary; you'll find them in my room as usual. (_Sits at
table, L. C._) I'll make out the list as you call them out. (_Mary
White enters room, R., and Widgetts prepares to write._) She's
resolved to make me her victim and I don't know how to get rid of her.
I'd give----

MARY. (_Inside._) Four shirts.

WID. (_Writes._) Four shirts. She's a perfect treasure at shirt
buttons; but what is shirt buttons to a bosom that beats for another.

MARY. (_Inside._) One false front.

WID. (_Writes._) One false front. She'd make a comfortable little wife
if she only had----

MARY. (_Inside._) A pair of white trousers.

WID. (_Writes._) A pair of white trousers. Ah! I wore those ducks at
the Casino last Wednesday, and Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce observed, while
I was handing her a glass of champagne---- Ecod, 'tis well I
recollected it--I've forgotten to order champagne for my supper. I
must run over to the tavern myself and tell them to send some.

[_Snatches up his hat and exit, L._

MARY. (_Entering with the white waistcoat worn by Widgetts at first,
and a note in her hand._) Well, you're a pretty careless fellow, to
leave your letters in your waistcoat pocket. Where is he gone to?
(_Examines the note curiously. Reads._) "Whittington Widgetts, Esq."
It's a woman's hand. I've a good mind to read it. I've no secrets from
him and he has none from me--or, at least he oughtn't to--so it can be
no harm. (_Opens note and reads hastily._) "Ma'amselle Cheri
Bounce"--Ah!--"compliments--happy to sup with Mr. W. W. this
evening--female notions--single gent--lobsters is stronger than
prudence--therefore trusts to indulgence, at nine o'clock precise."
Oh, the minx! (_Reads._) "P.S.--I'll come in my blue visite and my
native innocence." Oh, Widgetts, the false deceitful wretch, to
deceive me and wash out all his promises; to wring my heart and mangle
my affections like that. (_Sobbing._) But I--I--don't care not a pin's
point; no, I despise him and hate him worse than poison, and
I'll--I'll--I'll--tell him so. (_Sobbing._) I'll--I'll----

_Enter JACOB BROWN, L. door._

BROWN. (_Angrily._) Where's Widgetts! I want to see Widgetts.

MARY. Then you want to see a good-for-nothing fellow.

BROWN. Exactly, and I shouldn't mind adding that I consider him an
numbug.

MARY. A wretch!

BROWN. Most decidedly.

MARY. A puppy!

BROWN. Not a doubt of it. You see we're unanimous in our verdict. That
man, ma'am, has been a _reptile_ in my path, a _wiper_ to all _my_
hopes, and an _adder_ to all my woes; he has lacerated my heart and
singed the tender buds of young affection here.

(_Lays his hands on his bosom._)

MARY. Ah! What has he done?

BROWN. He has _done me_, ma'am--_me_, Brown; that's what he's done.
Cut me out with Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce.

MARY. Cheri Bounce! Ah! (_Aside._) She that's to sup to-night with
Widgetts.

BROWN. I'm an 'airdresser, ma'am, my name's Brown, and I've a
professional engagement at the Opera House, where I cultivate romance
and ringlets amongst the ladies of the ballet. There I first beheld
the lovely Cheri Bounce, the very image of the wax Wenus in my shop
window. I loved her, not for her foreign grace, but for her native
hair. Oh, she had such a head of real hair; and, oh, the showers of
tears and the bottles of Macassar oil that I've poured upon it nobody
would believe! Well, I toasted her for two years regularly, and at
length she consented to become _Brown_. Well, we were to have been
married, I had bought my wedding suit, when this fellow Widgetts, came
to take the curl out of my happiness. We quarrelled about him last
Saturday, and grew so warm that we've been cool ever since. But that's
not all. This very day, I heard that she had accepted an invitation to
sup with him to-night; but I'll prevent _that;_ he shall fight me--one
of us must fall--let him choose his own weapons--curling irons if he
likes.

MARY. Don't be rash, Brown. Widgetts has deceived _me_ and wronged
_you;_ we must take a better way of being revenged on him.

BROWN. How? What way? Tell me! I'll do anything to be down on
Widgetts.

MARY. Then you must assist me in a scheme I've just thought of. Here,
carry this stuffed gentleman into the kitchen there.

(_Pointing to dummy figure._)

BROWN. This chap! Come along, old fellow. (_Takes him up._) Why he's a
regular railway speculator--nothing but a man of straw.

MARY. (_Taking a gown and other articles of female attire out of her
basket._) Aye, here's a gown, petticoat, and stockings--(_takes a pair
of green boots out of her pocket_)--and a pair of green boots. Now,
Brown, you must dress the figure in these clothes.

(_Gives him clothes._)

BROWN. Dress him in these! Why, bless you, I don't know how. I'm not a
lady's maid.

MARY. Oh, never mind; you'll manage very well! There, make haste, and
do as I tell you.

BROWN. Well, I'm only made to order, so I'll try and do my best.

[_Exit through the folding-doors into the passage, and then through
the door beyond into kitchen._

MARY. (_Sits at table, R. C._) Now to write to Widgetts and tell him
of my melancholy end. (_Writes and reads._) "Base man,--I have
discovered the truth of your falsity, and know all about the lobsters
and the cretur that's to sup with you to-night. Oh, Widgetts, once,
you swore to love none but Mary _White;_ but now, your vows is _blew_
to the winds. I sha'n't trouble you no more with my _mangled_
feelings, for I'm going to drown myself in the water-butt in your
kitchen; where you'll find me. Adieu, Widgetts! I forgive you; but I
know that my ghost and them lobsters will sit heavy on your stomach
to-night. So no more at present from your departed--MARY WHITE."

BROWN. (_Coming into the passage from the kitchen and showing the
figure dressed in the clothes given him by Mary._) Here she is. Will
she do?

MARY. Oh! beautifully! Ha, ha, ha, ha! I can't help laughing at the
droll figure I cut. (_Folds and directs the letter._) There lies the
train that's to blow up Widgetts. (_Rises._) Now, Brown, we must pop
her head downwards into the water-butt.

BROWN. Well, that's easily done.

MARY. (_Widgetts heard singing in the street._) Hark! I hear Widgetts
coming. Quick, we must get out by the back door quietly.

[_Mary White exits into the passage, and closes the folding-doors
after her._

_Enter WIDGETTS by street door, L._

WID. I've ordered the champagne--these opera girls all drink
champagne, when they can get it. I wonder is _she_ here still. (_Looks
into chamber, R._) Ah, bravo! She's gone. (_Sees the letter on table,
C._) Ah, a letter--for me? (_Opens it carelessly, starts, and reads to
himself._) Oh, oh, oh! What? (_Reads._) "Mary White--I'm going to
drown myself in the water-butt, where you'll find me." Gracious
powers! "Adieu, Widgetts, I forgive you." Poor dear soul. "But my
ghost, and them lobsters will sit heavy on your stomach to-night."
Horrible idea! It can't be true--she'd never go to commit such a
catastrophe in my establishment. Make a coroner's inquest of herself
in my private water-butt, when the Thames is open to all! No, she's
only said so to frighten me. (_Throws letter on the floor and goes to
folding-doors._) Why Mary, Mary, my dear, don't be foolish! Ha, ha,
ha, ha! I know it's one of your jokes. Ha, ha! Little rogue! Ha! ha!
Ha! ha! (_Throws open folding-doors and discovers the dummy figure,
which has been dressed in female garments, with the legs and part of
the dress sticking out of the water-butt, a pair of women's green
boots on the feet of the figure. Widgetts totters back, horrified at
the sight._) Oh, oh, oh! She done it. She's there, with her legs
sticking out of the water-butt, and her green Sunday boots on her
feet--and the vital spark extinct. Oh, it's too dreadful a sight for
human feelings them legs, and them green boots. (_Returns, and closes
the folding-doors._) What an awful sensation 'twill make when it's
found out; they'll have my _head_ in all the print shops, and my
_tale_ in all the newspapers--I shall be brought out at half the
theatres too. They'll make _three_ shocking acts of one fatal act at
the Victoria, and they'll have the real water and water-butt at the
Surrey. (_Rises._) What's to be done? I'm in a desperate state of
mind, and feel as if I could take my own measure for an unmade coffin.

TWILL. (_Who has entered at the last words._) I've ordered it, sir,
for nine precisely.

WID. (_Starts._) Ordered it? What?

TWILL. The fowl and the lobster in the shell.

WID. Oh, ha! I was thinking of another _shell_. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Light
the lamp, Twill. (_With forced gaiety._) We'll have a jolly night. Ha,
ha, ha, ha!

  "Old King Cole was a jolly old soul, and a jolly old soul was he;
   He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl,
      And he called for his fiddlers three."

TWILL. Ay, master, that's the way to drown old care.

WID. Drown who, sir? Do you mean, sir, that anyone is drowned in this
establishment?

TWILL. Me, sir, not I, sir--I only----

WID. Go and lay the table for supper. (_Twill picks up Mary White's
letter from the floor, twists it into an allumette, and lighting it at
the candle, lights with it the lamp on table at back. Widgetts walking
about in a state of agitation and endeavouring to sing._) It's an
awful business; but at all events, they can't charge me with the deed.
I have her letter to prove she made away with herself; _that_ will
clear me. (_Searches his pockets hastily._) Where is it? What have I
done with it? (_Looking about the floor._) Eh, no, no! Twill, Twill,
have you seen a letter lying about here?

TWILL. Letter! I found a piece of crumpled paper on the floor, that
I've lighted the lamp with; there's a bit of it left though.

(_Gives him a fragment of the burnt letter_)

WID. (_Glances hastily at it._) Oh, heivings, you've lighted the lamp,
and snuffed out the candle of my precious existence!

TWILL. Why, what's the matter, Mr. Widgetts? You are going to faint.
Stop, till I'll fetch you a glass of water from the water-butt.

WID. (_Interposing to prevent Twill going to the kitchen._) Water!
Forbear!

TWILL. Bless me, how dreadful you look.

WID. Do I? Ah, very likely! I've been seized with a sudden swimming in
the water-butt--the head--the head, I mean.

TWILL. By my sowl, I see how it is--the murder's out.

WID. (_Collaring him._) Murder--what murder do you allude to? Who's
done it, sir? Speak!

TWILL. Asy, Mr. Widgetts--asy, sir--sure I know you've been taking a
drop too much.

WID. A drop! (_Aside._) The word puts me in a cold perspiration. Oh,
ay! Ha, ha, ha! You may go, Twill; I sha'n't want you any longer.
Stop! You haven't had any enjoyment lately; there's an order for the
Adelphi; go there, my boy, and be happy. (_Gives him a card._)

TWILL. Oh, thank you, sir. May be I'm not a lucky boy.

[_Exit Twill hastily, L._

WID. Now he's gone, I can reflect upon my terrible situation. _She_
must be removed. But how? That's the point.

_He stands, buried in thought, as MARY WHITE, disguised as a boy,
wearing an old blouse, enters._

MARY. Aei--aei--yoo--

WID. Eh! Who are you? What do you want?

MARY. E-eh? You must speak up, I'm rather hard of hearing.

WID. (_Bawling._) I say, what do you want?

MARY. I'm Mary White, the laundress's, young man, and I'm come to
carry home her basket of clothes.

WID. The devil! (_Speaking very loud._) She's gone, my good
fellow--she's been gone these two hours.

MARY. Two hours! Well, I'm in no hurry, I can stop. But I may as well
eat my supper while I'm waiting. I've got a plummy slice of ham in my
pocket--(_pulls a crust of bread and a slice of ham wrapped in a
play-bill, from her pocket_)--and a play-bill too, for a table-cloth.
(_Spreading bill on table._) I think that's coming it rather genteel.
(_Takes a clasp knife out of her pocket._) Fond of ham, old fellow?

WID. (_At the opposite side of table._) Why, you impudent young
vagabond, you don't mean to say you're agoing to sup here? Be off, and
be damn'd to you.

MARY. Well, you _are_ a regular brick, and I don't mind if I do take
some of your pickles.

WID. (_Bawls._) Zounds! I say, you mustn't sup here.

MARY. Mustn't sup here. (_Rises._) Why didn't you say so at once?
Never mind, I'll go into the kitchen, and take it there. (_Going._)

WID. (_Alarmed._) To the kitchen! (_Holds her._) Not for the world.
You quite misunderstood me. Don't disturb yourself. Sit down, do.
(_Pushes her again into the chair. Aside._) What's to become of me?
I'd pitch him into the street, only I'm afraid of making a
disturbance. There's no making him hear. Ecod! I know what I'll do;
I'll run and borrow the speaking-trumpet that I saw this morning
hanging at Smith, the broker's, door, and speak to him through _that_.
(_Going, returns._) Stay! The devil might tempt him to peep into the
kitchen, I'll lock the door.

[_Locks the folding-door, goes through pantomime, expressive of sorrow
for his victim in the water-butt, and exit, L._

MARY. (_Jumping up and laughing._) Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho, ho!
Oh, dear, never was anything managed so cleverly. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
(_Throwing off cap and neckerchief._) To think that he didn't know me;
and what a rage he was in. Well, now I'm ready for him in another
character. (_Takes off her leggings and blouse, and appears dressed as
a young man of fashion. Surveys herself in the cheval-glass._) Yes, it
will do--it will do--a very smart little fellow, not extensive, but
uncommonly well got up. These were the clothes that poor Brown got to
be married in; they fit me to a nicety. (_Knock at door_, L.) Come in.

_Enter two WAITERS, L., carrying tray with supper, covered dishes,
plates, bottles, &c._

WAI. Supper, sir, ordered by Mr. Widgetts.

MARY. Supper! Oh, yes! All right. Mr. Widgetts is out, but he'll be
back presently; leave it on this table if you please. (_Waiter places
tray on table, R., back._) There, that will do! Plates, knives, and
forks. All right! You need not wait, young man.

WAI. Thank you, sir. Anything else, sir?

MARY. No; everything is beautiful, thank you.

WAI. Thank you, sir. Good night, sir.

MARY. Good night.

[_Exit Waiters, L. Mary looks under the covers._]

Lobsters, roast fowl, kidneys. Ah, the ungrateful wretch never asked
me to such a supper; but never mind. Hark, I hear him returning.

[_She throws the blouse, hat, and gaiters, into the clothes-basket and
carries all into the chamber, R._

WID. (_Entering, L., and shouting through speaking-trumpet._) Now,
young fell--low, I sa--a--ay! Hey, he's gone and the coast's clear!
(_Sees supper-tray._) Oh! What! They've sent the supper from the
tavern. I quite forgot it. Dear me, this dreadful affair has so upset
me and given me such a turn that I doubt I'll never come straight
again. What will Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce think of me? I dare say she's
been here and gone? Everybody's gone but my interesting victim. Ah,
she's still there, standing, with all her imperfections, on her head
in the water-butt! Well, I suppose everyone has his lot, but mine's a
lot I don't know how to dispose of. I must remove the body from the
establishment at all events, and I'll do it now, while the house is
still. (_Goes to folding-doors and puts key in the lock._) I haven't
strength to open the door with them green boots kicking at my
conscience! Courage, Widgetts--courage! Be a man--though you are but a
tailor. Stay! I'll take a thimbleful of brandy first. (_Takes bottle
from table and pours out a glass, which he drinks._) Ah, that's a
reviver. (_Drinks and comes down._) Betts has raised the standard of
British spirit in my heart. (_Drinks._) Well, we all want comfort in
this miserable world. (_Drinks._) There's poor Mary White gone on a
weeping and _wailing_ voyage to that bourne from whence no traveller
gets a return ticket. (_Mary laughs in room, R._) Ah, what's that? A
laugh. It had a hollow and inhuman sound. Could it be _she?_ (_Points
to folding-doors._) Mary--a--a--a--how do I know--she may have been
turned into something horrible. The fiend of the water butt, perhaps.
She may come to me at night--she said she would. Oh, Lord! The idea of
the ghost of a damp laundress at your back. (_Shudders._)
W--h--h--h--hew! (_Mary laughs._) There, it is again, that demoniac
laugh. I wish I could peep into the kitchen! But I daren't, lest I
should see her glaring at me with one eye through the bung-hole of the
water-butt. Bless me, how my knees keep giving double knocks upon each
other. (_Mary sings in room._) Ah, surely that's singing! (_Listens._)
Ghosts haven't got a singing license. Hark! 'Tis somebody committing
vocal violence in my bedroom. (_Goes to door of bed-chamber, R., and
looks in._) Hey, there's a young fellow making himself quite at home
in my establishment. I am not aware I ever saw him before. What had I
better do? Go in and ask him what he wants? No; that might be
dangerous. 'Twill be safer in my present peculiar position to appear
as a stranger. Let me see. I have it--capital idea--the waiter from
the tavern with the supper--I think I could _do_ a waiter. It's only,
"Coming, sir, in _one_ minute--coming; two brandies and water, coming,
sir." (_He ties one of the supper napkins round his neck for a white
cravat, changes his coat for an old black one that hangs on the back
of a chair, while doing so he looks into the room now and again._)
There goes my Macassar oil and my Circassian cream. There, my eau de
cologne too, that cost me half-a-guinea a bottle. An impudent rascal!
D----n me, if he's not rummaging my drawers! That's free and easy at
all events. Come, I think I'm pretty well disguised now. (_Looks at
himself in the cheval-glass._) No; confound it, this face of mine will
never do--it might be known. I want a pair of whiskers to hide it.
Ecod, I've hit it again. This chair--(_takes knife from table and cuts
open the stuffed seat of the chair_)--there's enough hair in it to
whisker a regiment of Turks.

(_Pulls a handful of the hair out of the chair-seat, goes to the
chimney-glass and arranges it round his chin so as to look like a pair
of large whiskers._)

_Enter from room, R., MARY WHITE, still dressed as a young man, and
drying her hands with a towel._

MARY. (_Aside and laughing._) Heavens, what a figure.

WID. Hem! A----I beg your pardon--but you seem--a--eh----

MARY. Exactly. And who are you?

WID. Me--I--a--ah--I'm--a--the waiter--from the tavern.

MARY. Perhaps, then, you can tell me where I can find Mr. Widgetts?

WID. Not exactly. You've particular business with him?

MARY. Rather. In fact--I don't mind telling you--I'm one of the
detective police.

WID. (_Alarmed._) You!--a gentleman?

MARY. Oh, yes, we go about in all manner of disguises, when we want to
pick up a shy bird. Now, I'm looking for Widgetts, and I shouldn't
mind giving five pounds if you could tell me where to lay my hand upon
him.

(_Lays her hand on Widgetts' shoulder, who starts._)

WID. Ah! Ha, ha, ha! Five pounds! Is it a--very serious business, eh?

MARY. Merely a hanging matter.

WID. Nothing more? (_Aside._) The dreadful deed's discovered. I'll be
off. Hem, well, I'll go and look after Mr. Widgetts.

MARY. No, no; you must stop here. I've no doubt I shall want you
presently.

_Enter MADEMOISELLE CHERI BOUNCE, L._

CHERI. I beg pardon.

WID. (_Aside._) Zounds! Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce.

CHERI. I expected to meet a gent--Mr. Widgetts.

MARY. Who invited you to supper?

(_Crosses to L._)

WID. (_Aside._) How did the fellow know that?

MARY. My friend, Widgetts, has been obliged to leave home rather
suddenly, but he has left me here to perform the agreeable for him.
Supper, you see, is waiting, Ma'amselle.

WID. (_Coming forward._) Allow me to observe----

MARY. Lay the table.

WID. (_Aside._) The rascal's not going to eat my supper!

(_Lays the table, C._)

CHERI. (_Aside._) Really a very nice young man.

MARY. My name is Spraggs--Spraggs, ma'amselle. Like my friend,
Widgetts, I'm dotingly fond of the girls--aw--paws'itive fact--can't
help it, never could, and don't think I ever shall. Let me take your
shawl. (_Takes off Cheri Bounce's shawl._) A divine figure--demme!

WID. (_Coming between them._) Allow me to observe----

MARY. Lay the table, waiter.

WID. (_Aside._) D--n the table. (_Lays the plates and dishes and
places the chairs. Mary White gallants Mdlle. Cheri Bounce, apart.
Widgetts, C., polishing a plate, furiously._) Here's a pleasant
situation, waiter at my own supper, and afraid to open my mouth. The
rascal's making love to her, and she likes it! Hang 'em, I wish I
could strangle them.

(_Mary White and Mdlle. Cheri Bounce laughing._)

CHERI. Oh, you droll wretch, you're ten times funnier than that stupid
Widgetts.

MARY. Hang Widgetts.

WID. (_Coming between them._) I beg your pardon.

MARY. What d'ye want? Is the table laid?

WID. (_Aside._) D--n the table. (_Returns to table, and bawls out._)
Supper's ready!

MARY. Ah! (_To Cheri Bounce._) Come, my dear.

(_Widgetts seats himself at table._)

MARY. What!

WID. (_Jumps up._) Beg pardon--I vacate.

(_Mary White, R., and Cheri Bounce, L., seat themselves at table._)

MARY. Now, my dear ma'amselle, here are fowl, and lobster, and
kidneys.

WID. (_Aside._) I wish they were sticking in his gizzard.

MARY. Now then, waiter, be alive, and take your tin.

(_Claps one of the dish covers on Widgetts' head, who snatches it off,
and flings it away in a rage._)

WID. Allow me to observe----

MARY. There's no bread, my good fellow.

WID. Coming. (_Aside._) D--n the bread.

(_Goes to a table at back, on which is a loaf of bread and rolls._)

MARY. What part of the fowl shall I send you, ma'amselle?

CHERI. The funny idea, Mr. Spraggs, if you please.

MARY. The funny idea! Well, I never!

CHERI. The merry thought, you know.

MARY. Oh, to be sure! Yes, the funny idea.

(_Cutting the fowl._)

WID. Bread.

(_Claps the loaf of bread on the dish before Mary White, who throws it
at him._)

MARY. Roll, stupid. Plates, waiter. (_Widgetts puts the roll under his
arm, and hands plates to Mary White._) Allow me to add a kidney. They
look beautiful.

CHERI. Thank you.

(_Mary White puts some fowl and a sausage on the plate, which she
gives to Widgetts for Mdlle. Cheri Bounce, and then helps herself._)

WID. (_Comes down with the plate in his hand._) How uncommon savoury
it smells. He's not looking.

(_Takes the kidney off the plate, and puts it in his pocket._)

MARY. Waiter. (_Widgetts lays the plate before Mdlle. Cheri Bounce._)
Open that champagne, waiter.

WID. (_Aside._) My champagne, too!

(_Opening a bottle of champagne._)

MARY. (_Helps Mdlle. Cheri Bounce._) I hope you liked your kidney.

CHERI. What kidney, Mr. Spraggs?

WID. (_Snatching the kidney out of his pocket, and putting it,
unperceived, on Mdlle. Cheri Bounce's plate._) Why, that kidney.

CHERI. Dear me, I didn't perceive it before.

(_Widgetts places champagne on the table._)

MARY. Celery, waiter. (_Widgetts goes to table at back for celery.
Mary White fills two glasses of champagne, and drinks with Mdlle.
Cheri Bounce. Widgetts returns with stalks of celery in his coat
pocket, and, without being perceived, takes the champagne bottle,
fills a glass for himself, comes down and drinks, R._) I say,
Ma'amselle, this is rare fun.

CHERI. Glorious!

MARY. I'll give you, the absent Widgetts.

CHERI. I've no objection to drink poor Widgetts' health, but I don't
at all wish for his company. He's such a particularly conceited fool.

WID. (_Aside, and scarcely able to restrain himself._) Do I look like
a fool? (_They drink. Widgetts comes to the table._) As the sole
surviving friend of Mr. Widgetts, will you allow me to say----

(_Presses the plate to his breast. Knock at door, L._)

MARY. Hold your tongue and open the door.

(_Mary White and Ma'amselle Cheri Bounce rise._)

CHERI. Perhaps 'tis Widgetts.

WID. No, it isn't. Widgetts is--elsewhere.

(_Knocking at door, L._)

BROWN. (_Outside door._) Open the door. I must come in.

CHERI. Heavens! That's Brown's voice. If he finds me here I shall be
ruined.

(_Alarmed._)

WID. Don't let him in.

(_Runs to door, L._)

CHERI. Where on earth can I conceal myself? Ah, here! (_Throws open
folding doors. Widgetts stands transfixed with terror; Mdlle. Cheri
Bounce screams in a state of dreadful alarm._) Oh, oh, oh! There's a
woman drowned in the water-butt.

MARY. 'Tis Mary White, the laundress. Widgetts murdered her.

WID. I'll be d----d if he did!

MARY. Never mind, he'll be hanged for it all the same.

[_Exit through folding-doors which she closes after her._

WID. Widgetts hanged! You might as well hang me.

CHERI. Good heavens! What a horrid place I've got into. (_Knocking at
door, L., Brown outside calling_ "Let me in! Open the door.") Oh, that
Brown will make another victim of _me!_

(_Runs into chamber, R._)

_Enter BROWN, L._

BROWN. Where is she? Where's Mademoiselle Cheri Bounce? I know she's
here.

WID. I beg your pardon, she left here half an hour ago! I called the
cab for her myself--a patent hansom, No. 749.

BROWN. Where's Widgetts, then? Where's the villain Widgetts, the
destroyer of my happiness?

WID. My good fellow, don't be outrageous! Mr. Widgetts is
unfortunately absent--he's gone to close the eyes of a dying uncle,
and won't be back to-night.

_Enter TWILL, L._

TWILL. Oh, please, sir, they wouldn't admit the order at the Adelphi!
(_Sees Widgetts and bursts into a fit of laughter._) Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Why surely this ain't Guy Faux day, Mr. Widgetts?

BROWN. Widgetts!

CHERI. (_At door, R._) Widgetts?

(_Retires._)

TWILL. Of course! That's Mr. Widgetts, my master; I'll never deny him.

WID. (_Aside._) Then I've nothing for it but a bolt--out of my bedroom
window.

(_Rushes into chamber, R.; Mdlle. Cheri Bounce screams inside.
Widgetts rushes out again followed by Mdlle. Cheri Bounce beating him
with her umbrella._)

CHERI. Stop him! Don't let him escape! He has murdered a woman.

TWILL. Murdered a woman? Oh, the dirty blackguard, what a taste he
had.

(_Brown attempts to seize him, but Widgetts strikes his hat over his
eyes, runs round the table, and runs to door, L., against which Twill
has placed his back._)

TWILL. (_In a boxing attitude._) No, you don't.

(_Brown now collars him, and Cheri Bounce beats him with her
umbrella._)

BROWN. Ha, have I got you at last--(_shaking him_)--villain!

WID. Help! Murder! Police! Help!

TWILL. (_Dancing at door, L._) Police! Here's an illigant row. Go it,
little one--fire away, umbrella! She don't lay it into him at all.

WID. Stop, stop, stop! Spare the remnant of an injured tailor's life.
You think I cut off Mary White's thread; but I didn't! The horrid act
was her own deed. She got jealous of me, and mixed her proud spirit
with too much water. She'd tell you so herself, poor soul, if she
could.

MARY. (_Speaking inside folding doors in a solemn voice._) No, she
wouldn't.

WID. Angels and bannisters support me. (_Drops on his knees. Mdlle.
Cheri Bounce throws herself into the arms of Brown. General
consternation._) 'Tis her voice--her ghost is come back to walk the
earth in them green boots. Injured shade, speak for me, if ghosts have
parts of speech, and tell them I'm innocent.

MARY. (_Inside._) You caused my death by your falsity.

WID. O-oh! I know it; but sooner than you should have made an object
of yourself, I'd have married you ten times over.

MARY. (_Inside._) And would you marry me now, if I was living?

WID. I would--to-morrow morning.

MARY. (_Runs out._) Then, Whittington, I'm your loving Mary again.

WID. (_Jumps up and tries to avoid her, she follows him._) Hollo!
No--keep off. (_She embraces him._) Hey! Bless me, you're neither damp
or dead; on the contrary you're remarkably warm and lively. But, are
you sure you're not a water nymph, and that you have not got private
apartments in the Thames or the New River?

MARY. No, Widgy; don't be afraid, 'twas only a trick of mine, to
plague you for your inconstancy. (_Pointing to water butt._) She's not
_me_, but the dummy figure, dressed up in some of my clothes.

WID. Ah, I've been finely hoaxed! And where's the detective policeman,
that eat my lobster, and drank my wine?

MARY. Why, of course, he's here.

(_Points to herself._)

WID. Oh, you villain! But what's to be done with Brown?

(_Brown and Mdlle. Cheri Bounce, who have been conversing at the back,
during the later part of the dialogue, come down._)

BROWN. Ask Ma'amselle here, for she's consented to be Mrs. Brown, next
Monday, and as for this little affair of the supper I was in the plot
with Mary.

WID. I hope you were not in the water-butt with her; but, never mind,
I don't want any further explanation. I've had my lesson--(_to
Audience_)--and I hope you have all profited by it. Now, if there's
any single, good-looking young fellow here, wants a bit of advice.
Eh--there's my friend, Smith. Smith, my dear boy, when you invite a
female friend to a quiet bit of supper, mind there's no water-butt on
the premises; and I mention this confidentially to all you bachelors,
if your laundress is young and pretty, you had better pay your washing
bills regularly; and don't, like me, get yourself into a scrape, by
not knowing "How to Settle Accounts with Your Laundress."


    _Disposition of the Characters at the Fall of the Curtain._

     CHERI BOUNCE.    BROWN.    MARY W.    WIDGETTS.   TWILL.
          R.                                             L.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on pp. 11-19 of Dicks' Standard Plays No.
1006. The images used in this transcription have been posted on the
Internet Archive at:

     archive.org/details/CoyneLaundress

In addition, a microform copy of the same edition, which was made
available by the University of California, Davis, was used as a
secondary source.

In general, this transcription attempts to retain the formatting,
punctuation and spelling of the source text. In a few cases where the
quality of the printing made a word or a punctuation mark hard to
read, the obvious reading was considered the correct reading without
comment. A few changes were made to smooth out some of the
inconsistent editing of the source text.

The following changes were made:

-- p. 11: (Widgett's Page and Light Porter)--Changed "Widgett's" to
"Widgetts'".

-- p. 13: since the evening I danced with her at the Casino.
(_Calls,_) Twill!--Changed the comma after "_Calls_" to a period.

-- p. 14: MARY. And your remember how we used to go together to
Greenwich--Change "your" to "you".

-- p. 14: law! how we use to laugh to be sure!--Changed "use" to
"used".

-- p. 14: and a heap of beautiful thing.--Changed "thing" to "things".

-- p. 15: to wring my heart and mangle my affections like that,
(_Sobbing._)--Changed the comma after "that" to a period.

-- p. 15: (_Lays his hands on his bosom._--Added a closing parenthesis
for consistency.

-- p. 16: you don't mean to say your agoing to sup here?--Changed
"your" to "you're".

-- p. 16: (_Pushes her again into the chair._ (_Aside._)--Deleted the
opening parenthesis before "_Aside_".

-- p. 17: _Enter two WAITERS, L, carrying tray with supper, covered
dishes, plates, bottles, &c._--Inserted a period after "L".

-- p. 17: Its only, "Coming, sir, in _one_ minute..."--Changed "Its"
to "It's".

-- p. 17: Pulls a handful of the hair out of the chair-seat, goes to
to the chimney-glass--Deleted the second "to" after "goes".

-- p. 17: You've particular business with him.--Changed the period to
a question mark.

-- p. 18: CHERI. Oh, you droll wretch, you've ten times
funnier--Changed "you've" to "you're".

-- p. 18: MARY. There's no bread, my good fellow--Added a period to
the end of the sentence.

-- p. 18: MARY (_Helps Mdlle. Cheri Bounce._)--Inserted a period after
the character title "MARY".

-- p. 18: MARG. Celery, waiter.--Changed "MARG." to "MARY."





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