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Title: A Duel in the Dark - An Original Farce, in One Act
Author: Coyne, J. Stirling
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Duel in the Dark - An Original Farce, in One Act" ***

available by the University of Toronto and the Internet


_An original Farce,_




"_My Wife's Daughter_," "_Binks the Bagman_," "_Separate
Maintenance_," "_How to settle Accounts with your Laundress_," "_Did
you ever send your Wife to Camberwell_,"
_&c. &c. &c._




_First Performed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket,
On Saturday, January_ 31_st,_ 1852.





CHARLEY BATES          }

BETSY                          Mrs. CAULFIELD.

WAITER                         Mr. EDWARDS.


Mr. GREENFINCH.--Green coat, light blue trowsers, and French
travelling cap.

Mrs. GREENFINCH.--Fawn polka jacket, waistcoat and skirt.

COUNTESS DE RAMBUTEAU.--Loose travelling pelisse, bonnet and green

CHARLEY BATES.--Blue frock coat and white trowsers.

BETSY.--Travelling dress and servant's dress.

WAITER.--Gendarme suit.

SCENE _lies at a Hotel at Dieppe._

Time in Representation, 50 minutes.


SCENE.--_A handsomely furnished Apartment on the ground floor of a
Hotel at Dieppe. A French window at back opening on a garden. Door,
2 E. L. Door, 3 E. L. A large stove, L. between the two doors. Door,
2 E. R. Easy chair near door, R. Tables, R. and L. C. at back; bottle
of brandy with glasses on table, L. Chairs, &c. Two lighted candles

_Enter GREENFINCH, carrying bandbox, large travelling cloak, carpet
bag and umbrella, L. 3 E._

GREEN. Well now this is something like an adventure. (_putting down
the umbrella and bandbox, R._) There's a romantic mystery attached to
me that I can't unravel, in fact I feel myself like a tangled
penn'orth of thread; the more I try to clear myself the more
complicated I become. Let me calmly consider my singular position.
(_throws the cloak on the easy chair, R. and places the carpet bag
beside it_) In the first place here I have arrived at the Hotel d'
Angleterre in Dieppe accompanied by the Countess de Rambuteau--a real
Countess! Poor Mrs. Greenfinch little dreams what a rake I am--but for
a long time I've been dying for an aristocratic flirtation--I have
looked at lovely women in the private boxes at the theatres--and have
run after carriages in the park--but all in vain, and now, startling
as the fact may seem, I have been for the last thirty hours the
travelling companion of a French Countess, and have shared her
post-chaise from Paris: when I say shared, I mean the Countess and her
maid took the inside and left me the outside, where I was exalted to
the dickey amongst a miscellaneous assortment of trunks and bandboxes,
by which I have been jolted and jammed till I haven't a bone in my
body without its particular ache. But the most extraordinary part of
the affair is that I have never yet seen the Countess's face, for she
has always concealed it from me beneath a thick veil. However that's
nothing, there's a secret sympathy by which I think I could discover a
pretty face under a piecrust. Hah! here she comes, and now for the
tender revelation--the soft confession--the blushing avowal--the--

_Enter MRS. GREENFINCH, 2 E. R., in a travelling dress closely veiled,
she carries in her hand a lady's walking basket._

Ah, my charming Countess, at length after a painful--I mean a
delightful journey--we have arrived in Dieppe, and now permit me to
gaze on those lovely features.

MRS. G. (_retires as he approaches_) No, no, _je ne permittez pas;_
nevare, not at all, Monsieur Grinfeench.

GREEN. Dear, Countess, take pity on me. (_aside_) What delightful
accents! She told me she could speak English fluently, and she does.
Am I never to see your face, dear Countess? Oh! have pity on me.

MRS. G. _Oui_, you sall ordere diner _toute de suite._

GREEN. Dinner? certainly, Countess.

_Exit 3 E. L._

BETSY. (_peeping in at door, R._) Is he gone, mum?

MRS. G. Yes, Betsy, you may come in. (_lays the basket she carries on
table, L. and puts up her veil_)

BETSY. (_enters by door, R._) Well, mum, does he suspect nothing yet?

MRS. G. Nothing. He has not yet seen my face--but if he had, I think
this red wig, these spectacles, and this cravat would completely
prevent his recognizing me.

BETSY. He little thinks, mum, 'tis his own lawful wife he's running
away with instead of a fine foreign Countess.

MRS. G. Oh, Betsy, when I think of that, I could tear his eyes out. A
man, Betsy, that I thought the most faithful creature woman ever was
blessed with, to deceive me so. A working model of a husband that I
may say I made out of nothing.

BETSY. Ah, mum, I know what husbands is made of! I was once
accidentally married myself for three weeks to a sea cap'n, who took
me, mum, as his mate--but I diskivered I was only his second mate, for
he'd got another wife alive, mum--and so he slipped hisself through
the wedding ring that way. Oh! mum, husbands isn't to be trusted no

MRS. G. 'Twas your experience and advice, Betsy, that put me upon this
plan of trying Mr. Greenfinch's fidelity. Before he went to Paris
about that legacy left him by his aunt, there wasn't a more dutiful
little husband in Peckham Rye.

BETSY. No, more there wasn't, mum. But after he'd been a month in
Paris, he wrote to say he'd got into the hands of the French lawyers,
and couldn't return so soon as he expected.

MRS. G. Upon which I resolved to run over to Paris, if 'twas only for
a day--for I thought he must be miserable without his wife.

BETSY. A very popular delusion amongst women, mum.

MRS. G. And so as you know, Betsy, I took you with me and crossed to
Boulogne. What I suffered from the roughness of the waves and the
custom-house officers I need not repeat. I didn't however think of
anything but the joyful surprise it would be to Mr. Greenfinch when I
should drop suddenly like a lump of sugar out of heaven into his
solitary tea.

BETSY. Yes, mum, but you know I had my suspicions that it wasn't the
lawyers kept master in Paris--so I persuaded you to take lodgings
opposite the hotel where he was stopping, and keep a watchful eye on
his proceedings from the window, with your veil down.

MRS. G. Yes, Betsy, that was certainly your plan,--and what has been
the consequence? The very first day my gentleman kissed his hand to
me--the second day he performed a love pantomime at his window for my
diversion--and the third day he sent me a daguerreotype portrait of
himself backed by a Westphalia ham.

BETSY. And before the week was out you had induced him to run away
with you.

MRS. G. I'll never forgive him that.

BETSY. Of course you won't--you've too much spirit to forgive any man,
much less a husband. Now, mum, if you'll help me in a little plan I've
hit upon, I think we'll torment him to that degree that he'll never
hear a Countess mentioned without trembling.

MRS. G. I'll do anything, Betsy, to make the little wretch miserable.

BETSY. Well then, mum, this is my plan.

_GREENFINCH speaks outside, L. 3 E._

MRS. G. Hist, I hear him returning; run into my room and I'll come to
you presently. (_draws down her veil_)

_Exit BETSY, 2 E. R._

_Enter GREENFINCH, 3 E. L._

GREEN. I've ordered dinner at five; and now, my charming
Countess--mysterious being, whom I have loved distractedly for three
long weeks through that envious veil--permit me. (_about to remove her
veil, she motions him to desist_) Well I won't; delicacy forbids
intrusion. However, I hope I may not be considered particularly
inquisitive, if I beg to be informed why you and I should be here in
Dieppe under such mysterious circumstances.

MRS. G. Oh, _certainment_, Monsieur Grinfeench, I sall confess to you
dat I vas _frappè_ vis your mug--dat is your superbe countenance in de
vindere of your hotel.

GREEN. (_aside_) Struck by my superb countenance! a clear case of
fascination. My dear Countess, it is no less extraordinary that
whenever you were sitting in your balcony, I generally found myself
flattening my nose against the centre pane of my window.

MRS. G. _Oui_, _oui_, I did regard your flat nose vare mosh, _en
attendant_, it happen I did find myself in a position _tres
embarrasant_--a situation of danger; I was in want of a friend--_un

GREEN. And you thought of me.

MRS. G. _Oui_, you were at de top of my mind--dat is, uppermost in my

GREEN. Tender confession! and then you wrote to me this dear little
note. (_produces a note and kisses it_) Imagine the indescribable
emotion I experienced in my interior when I opened it and read these
lines. (_reads_) "Interesting stranger, I am not insense to your
merits, but circumstances demand secresy. I shall be wait for you this
evening at nine o'clock in a post carriage outside the Barriere
d'Enfer.--PAULINE, Countess de Rambuteau." I hastened accordingly to
the barrier at the hour named.

MRS. G. Vare I did attend, as vas appoint.

GREEN. Yes, but instead of inviting me to take a seat beside you, I
was lifted by two fellows, whose muscular developments forbade any
opposition on my part, into the dickey of the carriage--the postillion
cracked his whip, away we started--and that is all I know about the

MRS. G. Ha, ha! I fear I have trespass on your complaisance, your vat
you call spooney disposition--dat is, your good nature.

GREEN. Countess, my good nature is public property like Kennington
Common--you can't trespass on it. Is there any other way I can be
serviceable to you?

MRS. G. _Oui_, dere is one oder little ting; vil you permit me, vile
in dis _maison_, to be _apellez_ your _femme_, your best half of de
vorst--to be called Madame Grinfeench?

GREEN. Madame:--in English that means Missus--Mrs. Greenfinch!

MRS. G. _Oui_. I have particulere reason for my request.

GREEN. Hem! hem! Perhaps, Countess, you are not aware that there's a
previous Mrs. Greenfinch at this moment on the British shores; a
splendid woman, though I say it, who sits like a pensive dove mourning
for her absent mate at Peckham Rye.

MRS. G. (_aside_) There's some good in him still. Oh dat is no obelisk
in de vay. I go to-morrow in de packey bote, and sall only be your
little rib for a little time.

GREEN. Why if I thought it was only for a little time I might.
(_aside_) She's a lovely creature no doubt, and as Mrs. G. can never
know anything of my delinquency--pooh! what's there to be afraid of?
(_to her_) Well, Countess, I can refuse nothing to your sex--consider
yourself as the temporary Mrs. Greenfinch.

MRS. G. _Merci, mon ami_. (_aside_) The atrocious wretch!

GREEN. Now that point's settled, may I not in the profane language of
poetic fiction be permitted to feast these longing eyes on those
heavenly features?

MRS. G. Ah! you persuade me what you like you leetle rascal.

GREEN. Gracious condescension! So from the face of heaven the cloud
withdraws and (_she has raised her veil; seeing her face he starts_)
and--ahem! the face of heaven. (_aside_) The Countess's face don't
improve upon close inspection. I never liked red hair, and I hate
green spectacles.

MRS. G. You like my pheezog?--it is your taste? Ah! _oui_, now I sall
leave you to change my toilette--_restez vous ici_, and _n'oubliez
pas_--don't forget I am Madame Grinfeench.

_Exit R._

GREEN. Shall I ever forget it? never! Hem! The Countess adores me
that's clear, and if she hadn't red hair, she'd be a remarkably fine
woman. But she may dye her hair:--Gad, so she may; its only dying for
love after all.

MRS. G. (_returning_) Ah! I did forget--you must _prenez garde_--be
vide awake, and take care of our secret, for de most little cause of
suspect vill _coupez_ both our neck at one slice.

_Exit R._

GREEN. What does she mean? I feel I'm up to the ears in some terrible
mystery. I don't know whether 'tis conscience or cowardice, but my
sympathy for the Countess is evaporating very rapidly, in fact I'm
beginning to feel dreadfully uncomfortable here--why should she want
to pass as my wife? Why does she want to escape from France? Eh? Echo
returns no answer to its correspondent! (_sees the basket on the
table, L._) Hah! here's her basket she has forgotten, perhaps it may
contain something to clear up this mystery. (_takes basket off table_)
Bless me, 'tis very heavy for its size, what can she have in it?
(_feeling the basket_) 'Tis not a smelling bottle, nor it can't be a
case of razors--Countesses don't usually shave. I shouldn't wonder if
it was--no, no, it's--eh? what is it then? (_draws a pistol from the
basket_) Ha--a--oh! A p-p-pistol! Oh, dear! there's more in this than
meets the eye!--Why does she travel with these deadly weapons? Hah! A
horrid thought flashes across my tortured brain--perhaps she's Abd el
Kader in disguise, or more horrible still she maybe a female bandit
intending to make me her unsuspecting victim; murder me perhaps in my
sleep; she looks as if she could do it. (_MRS. G. appears watching at
door, R._) Oh, lord! I'll go this moment and inform the police.

MRS. G. (_entering and intercepting him_) _Arrétez!_ Stop!

GREEN. (_starting_) Ah!

MRS. G. I have _entendez vous_.

GREEN. Oh, ha--I--I--I merely--ha, ha! You perceive I was----

MRS. G. You vas go to betray me; _mais_ you perceive dis little
machine? (_produces a pistol from her pocket_)

GREEN. Oh, oh!--distinctly, Countess.

MRS. G. Madame Grinfeench!

GREEN. I beg pardon, Madame Grinfeench. Pray oblige me by pointing the
other end of that article this way. I've an uncommonly weak head, and
couldn't stand anything from that quarter.

MRS. G. _Prenez garde_, then how you betray de _confiance_ I have put
into you?

GREEN. What confidence? I haven't the most distant idea of the object
for which I have been brought here.

MRS. G. Den I sall vispare at your ear dat you are flying from justice
with a denounced leader of a secret club.

GREEN. Me!--a Greenfinch flying from justice!--good gracious! what do
you mean?

MRS. G. _Ecoutez donc!_ de police break in on our meeting--de officier
seize me to take me to quod.

GREEN. And what did you do?

MRS. G. Bang! shoot him through the nob--den one, two, tree jump out
of de vindère.

GREEN. Shot a police officer! (_aside_) I'm paralysed!

MRS. G. Dey have offer large reward for my take; but if I voyager as
your _femme_, I may _echappér_--bolt avay! But if ve are catch, ve
vill die nobly--_oui_, mon Grinfeench, on de same scaffold--togedder
ve vill hop de twig! (_clasps him in her arms_)

GREEN. Her English is not very elegant, but it's very expressive.
(_faintly_) I feel the guillotine hanging over me; I shall be sent
back to Peckham Rye a head shorter than I left it.

MRS. G. _Entendez bien_ that your safety as well as mine depends on
your _taisez vous_. Remember dat from my chamber dere I can watch, and
_ecoutez_ all dat sall pass here--den, if you go to spleet, I sall sew
you up--bang! _Comprenez vous?_

(_shewing pistol, and exit, R._)

GREEN. Yes, I _comprenez vous_--my safety depends on my _taisez vous_.
What a dreadful situation is mine! If this is having an aristocratic
flirtation, I don't care how soon I get democratic in my _penchants_
again. This terrible Countess is a perfect masked battery; I shouldn't
wonder if she had a Colt's revolver inside her parasol, and that a
cartouche box did duty for a certain popular appendix to the female
figure. I declare I feel quite nervous and agitated--I'll go and smoke
a cigar in the garden. (_takes a cigar from his case_) Hah! I wish
they may ever catch me running away with a Countess again.

_Exit through window at back, to garden, and disappears._

_BETSY looks from room R., and then enters, carrying a small brown
trunk with an address card on the top._

BETSY. (_speaking to MRS. G. inside_) All's clear, mum!

_Enter MRS. G. from room R._

He's smoking his cigar in the garden. Now here I lays the trap that's
to catch him--your trunk, with your address upon it. (_puts trunk in
centre of room_)

MRS. G. So that when he sees it, he may be aware that I am here in my
proper person.

BETSY. Exactly, mum; and as there's a way by a passage at the back of
the hotel from your room there, (_pointing R._) to this apartment on
the other side. (_points to door 2 E. L._) Nothing can be easier than
to come out of that door as the Countess, and out of that door as Mrs.
Greenfinch, according as your game goes.

MRS. G. I understand perfectly--but I see him returning. Let's get
away. (_they return into room R._)

_Enter GREENFINCH, C., from garden, smoking a cigar._

GREEN. Poo-ah! There's nothing like a cigar for puffing away
fear--poo-ah! I feel a deal more composed now--poo-ah!--cooler and
more determined--poo-ah! I've been bracing up my courage by repeating
that heroic maxim--"The brave man dies many times--a coward never dies
at all." Stay--I don't believe I've got it right--but it don't matter.
(_stumbles over the trunk_) What's here? umph! a trunk! Bless me!
surely I know it: that brown leather is familiar to me. Hah! here's
the owner's address on a card. (_drops on his knees to examine it, and
reads in a tone of intense alarm_) "Mrs. Greenfinch, Passenger."
O--a--ah! That's her writing--and she's here!

_Enter MRS. GREENFINCH, R.; GREENFINCH'S head sinks on the trunk._

MRS. G. _Que faites vous ici, mon cher_ Grinfeench?

GREEN. Oh! Countess, we're lost.

MRS. G. Ha! _perdu!_ Ave de poliss come?

GREEN. No, but my wife has. See here! (_reads address on trunk_) "Mrs.
Greenfinch, Passenger to Paris." That's her writing after six lessons.
(_in a suppressed voice_) I know she's somewhere in the vicinity of
this brown leather trunk.

MRS. G. (_coolly_) _Eh bien!_ you know that a man can have but one
wife at one time.

GREEN. The law in its wisdom and great mercy says so.

MRS. G. _Justement_--I am it.

GREEN. _You?_ Oh, yes, Countess--I beg pardon, Mrs. Greenfinch _pro
tempore;_ but as the original Mrs. G. has turned up unexpectedly, what
am I to do?

MRS. G. (_aside_) Now I'll prove him. Say that you did nevare see her.

GREEN. How! disown Mrs. G., and turn my back upon my marriage
certificate? (_aside_) She's a Mephistopheles in petticoats.

MRS. G. It but want de courage.

GREEN. But I've no courage; one look from Mrs. G. would dissolve me
into my own wellingtons.

MRS. G. If you _tombè_, I sall be close to prop you up. Den stand firm
on your _epingles_--your pins; courage--_entendez; ne funkez pas!_

_Exit, R. door, showing pistol._

GREEN. This is what I call a tremendous situation. Deny my wife, and
such a wife as Mrs. G.: a woman that won't be denied. How shall I ever
attempt it? And if I don't, there's the Countess prepared to shoot me
through the head! Oh, dear! I must have some brandy to screw up my
nerves. (_goes to a side table, pours brandy into a glass, and
drinks_) Hah! that revives me and brings back my courage, which was
sneaking away in spite of me. (_drinks_) There! nothing like brandy.
(_MRS. G. is heard singing in room, L._) Hah! that's her voice--the
voice of my wife--that's her high G, and that's her shake. I can't be
mistaken in her shake, for it makes me shiver all over. Brandy!
(_drinks_) Hah! I must be stern and resolved--the Countess has her eye
upon me, and my wife's coming. Never mind, I'm prepared for the worst.
More brandy! (_drinks_) I feel myself growing desperately
profligate--I'm becoming a brick. (_drinks_) I don't care a straw for
the world in general, nor for Mrs. G. in particular. Here she comes!

_Enter BETSY, 2 E. L._

No, it's only her maid Betsy.

BETSY. La! it surely never can be my master! Why, Mr. Greenfinch,
sir--bless me! who could have thought of meeting you? Well, this will
be a surprise to missus! (_runs to L. 2 E., and speaks in_) Oh, mum,
make haste, please! here's master--here he is, mum--he is,
indeed--quite nat'ral, mum.

_Enter MRS. GREENFINCH, 2 E. L., in her own attire, hastily._

MRS. G. Who? Your master, my dear Gregory? Ah! 'tis he, indeed!
(_rushing to embrace him_)

GREEN. He--hem! (_aside, and turning away_) She has me.

MRS. G. (L.) Good heavens, Gregory! Why, Gregory! Mister Greenfinch,
don't you know me?

GREEN. (C.) A--a--hum! I haven't the pleasure of your acquaintance,

MRS. G. What, sir? Don't know me?

BETSY. (L.) Nor me, sir?

GREEN. I never saw either of you before in my life.

BETSY. Well, if that's not audacious!

GREEN. Don't be impertinent, young woman.

BETSY. Oh, mum, he calls me a young woman!

GREEN. (_aside_) More brandy. (_goes to table and drinks_)

MRS. G. (_apart to BETSY_) Oh! Betsy, he's more depraved than I could
have imagined. I know I shan't be able to keep my temper.

GREEN. (_drinks, and aside_) I'm firmer now.

MRS. G. (_confronting him_) Mr. Greenfinch! Sir! Will you look at me
and repeat you don't know me?

GREEN. (_uneasily_) Hem! ah! (_aside_) I feel the Countess has her eye
upon me--I'm a dead man if I give way. (_to MRS. G._) I tell you I
haven't the slightest knowledge of you. (_goes to table_)

MRS. G. (_aside to BETSY_) This is going beyond a joke, Betsy--the
man's quite serious--looks in my face and denies me.

BETSY. Yes, mum; and means to stick to it.

MRS. G. (_aside to BETSY_) Does he? Mr. Greenfinch! (_taking hold of
him_) you'd better mind what you are doing--I'm not a woman to be
trifled with.

GREEN. (_aside_) I'm well aware of that; but now that I have the
Countess at my back, I don't mind aggravating her. (_sings_) Toll,
loll, de roll, loll, &c.

MRS. G. Mister Greenfinch!

GREEN. That's my name, madam.

MRS. G. Answer me one question, sir, plainly and distinctly--am I, or
am I not, your wife?

GREEN. Plainly and distinctly, then--No! (_dances to the table and
sings_) Toll, loll, de roll, loll, doll, lay! (_fills a glass of
brandy_) Ha, ha, ha, ha! I'll give you a toast. Here's "Lovely woman
all over the world!" (_drinks_)

MRS. G. (_apart to BETSY_) Oh! he's delirious! We've frightened him
out of his senses. Look at his eye, Betsy--there's madness in that

BETSY. (_apart_) There's brandy in it, mum; not madness.

MRS. G. (_apart to BETSY_) It won't do to irritate him now. (_to
GREENFINCH_) My dear Gregory, of course 'tis all a joke. (_coaxingly_)
You remember me--your dotey little wife--your lovey dovey? Why don't
you speak to your own pidgey-widgey, and give her a toosey-woosey

GREEN. (_aside, and turning away_) Oh! this is too much for a
husband's feelings! (_to MRS. G._) Don't please--don't talk that way;
you don't know me; I'm a domestic fiend--doomed for a certain time to
walk this earth in patent leather boots. Farewell, farewell for ever!
(_he rushes into the garden through window at back_)

MRS. G. Gregory, stop! I must follow him, Betsy, or he'll do himself
an injury.

BETSY. La! mum, he's not mad enough for that yet. Don't think of
following him, or you'll spoil all we've done; he's not half punished

MRS. G. Well, if you think so, 'tis my duty as a wife not to spare

BETSY. 'Course it is, mum. I've the plan all cut out in my head.
You've got a suit of master's clothes in that trunk, ma'am? (_points
to trunk on floor, C._)

MRS. G. Yes, Betsy; his new suit that he forgot to take with him to
Paris. I meant to surprise him with it.

BETSY. And so you shall, mum. (_takes the trunk_) Come with me, and
I'll show you how.

_Exeunt MRS. G. and BETSY, L. 2 E.; the latter carries the trunk._


GREEN. Where is she? Gone! I should not wonder if I had killed her; I
know my brutal conduct has broken her fragile heart; she could never
survive my base desertion--never! She has perished like a tender
flower, and I--wretch!--I've assassinated an angel. Ha! where's my
tempter? Where's the Countess--the destroyer of my happiness? She must
instantly release me from this horrible compact. I can bear a great
deal, but my constitution is sinking rapidly under two wives. (_goes
into room R., calls inside_) Countess! I beg your pardon--hey,
Countess! Where can she be? Countess! She's gone. (_re-enter from
room_) She's certainly not there. Now, if I could take advantage of
her absence, to speak a few words to the original Mrs. G., if the poor
thing still survives. That's her room--I'll venture at all hazards.
(_goes to door L., taps and calls in a suppressed voice_) Maria Jane!
Maria Jane! hist! (_taps_) Mrs. G., my dear--eh? 'Tis me, my
dear--your loving Greenfinch. (_taps_) Hist! Maria Jane! She don't
hear me, or she won't answer. (_taps_) Mrs. G.! Maria Jane! 'Tis your
unfortunate Greenfinch.

_Enter BETSY, from room, L. 2 E._

BETSY. Well, sir, what may you want?

GREEN. Hush! don't speak so loud. Is your mistress in her room?

BETSY. I'm not sure--can't be certain till I ask her.

GREEN. I must speak with her instantly.

BETSY. What name shall I say?

GREEN. Name? Is the woman mad? Go and tell her I'm come to explain

BETSY. All what, sir?

GREEN. All, all--she knows--you know.

BETSY. Can't say I do, sir--I'm sure I never set eyes on your face

GREEN. Pooh, pooh! don't be stupid--let me pass--I must speak with my

BETSY. Your wife! (_opposing him_) A pretty imperent fellow you are!
Your wife, indeed! Keep your distance--I don't allow these liberties.

GREEN. But, my Betsy.

BETSY. Your Betsy! Come, I like that. I'd have you to know, sir, my
name's Elizabeth.

GREEN. Never mind your name--I must go in.

BETSY. Oh, very well; if you must, you must; but, mind, I tell you, my
mistress is not alone.

GREEN. Hey? What do you say? Not alone? Who has she with her?

BETSY. Who should she have, but a gentleman?

GREEN. Stop, stop--my wife--a gentleman!--in her room--there--and I
her husband--here--what does it mean? Hah! a horrid suspicion fills my
mind--o--oh! my head!

BETSY. I thought so. I see you're dreadfully intoxicated; you'd better
go to bed--do! You'll be ashamed of yourself in the morning. I never
see a gentleman so drunk in my life--never! Go to bed, I advise you.

GREEN. Go to the devil! I'll penetrate this horrid mystery, and know
the worst at once.

BETSY. Then you may depend on having your bones broken.

GREEN. Bones! I have no bones. I'm all iron--adamant. I'll find this
villain--this unknown destroyer of my peace. Who is he? what is he?

BETSY. Here he is, sir, to answer for himself.


_Enter MRS. GREENFINCH, L. 2 E., dressed in fashionable male attire._

MRS. G. What's the demmed row here? Who is this person who has been
exciting himself so enormously?

BETSY. I'm sure I don't know, sir; but he seems to be a gent who has
been putting himself in the way that gentlemen wish to be who love
their wine.

GREEN. (_aside_) I'll be calm, but infernally severe. He-hem! Sir, I
beg your pardon, but--ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha! it strikes me that
you've been in my wife's room. (_points to room_).

MRS. G. Your wife's?--ha, ha, ha!

GREEN. I repeat, my wife's--that lady in there is my wife.

MRS. G. }
        } Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

GREEN. Allow me, sir, to inform you, it's my deliberate opinion you're
a scoundrel, a miscreant, and a vagabond.

MRS. G. (_strutting fiercely to him_) Demme, sir!--aw--did you make
use of the word "scoundrel?"

GREEN. Scoundrel was the word, sir.

MRS. G. And "miscreant," sir?

GREEN. Miscreant, emphatically.

MRS. G. And "vagabond," sir?

GREEN. Vagabond, in its strongest sense, sir.

MRS. G. And do you mean to apply these terms to me offensively?

GREEN. Most offensively, sir.

MRS. G. Oh, very well; that's enough. (_takes a card from her pocket,
and gives it to GREENFINCH_) There's my card, sir.

GREEN. And there's mine, sir. (_gives MRS. G. a card_)

GREEN.  {  _both read_     } "Gregory Greenfinch--The
        {  _cards at the_  } Turtle Dovery, Peckham Rye."
MRS. G. {  _same time_     } Oh!

GREEN. Hey?--why, this is _my_ card--_my_ name and address. I'm
Gregory Greenfinch, of the Turtle Dovery.

MRS. G. Excuse me, my good fellow, but--ha, ha, ha, ha! your impudence
is highly amusing--ha, ha, ha!

GREEN. What! do you mean to tell me that I am not Greenfinch? That I'm
not the husband of my own wife?

MRS. G. Oh, no; I simply say, I'm Greenfinch.

GREEN. You? Then who the devil am I?

MRS. G. 'Pon my life, I haven't an idea.

GREEN. No! Bless me, that's very extraordinary. Why, it can't be
possible! I've a strong moral conviction that I am Greenfinch; I feel
that I can't be anybody else, and that anybody else who presumes to be
me is an impostor.

MRS. G. For all that, _I'm_ Gregory Greenfinch.

BETSY. The poor man's certainly mad, sir.

GREEN. What does she say? Mad--ah! (_aside_) Horrible suggestion! If I
should be mad! If I should be labouring under a pleasing delusion, and
mistake myself for some other individual! What if he should be me, and
me he--no, he me, and me he--no, that's not it--what, if I'm he--and
me--I mean if I--that's me--no--he and I are neither he nor me. Oh,
dear! what am I saying?

MRS. G. Well, Mister What's-your-name, if you have any desire to be
shot in a gentlemanly and artistic manner--there's a nice quiet spot
at the back of the hotel, fit for the business. Just let me know when
you've made up your mind, and I'll be ready in five minutes to

GREEN. Stop! destroyer of my peace, and confounder of my
identity--stop, and hear me! Young woman retire.

_Exit BETSY into room, L. 2 E., with one candle._

Hem! now, sir, I shall ask you one momentous question--Do you mean to
stick to it that you're Greenfinch?

MRS. G. Stick to it?--oh! aw--like demned wax.

GREEN. (_solemnly_) The world's a cage, not wide enough for two
Greenfinches like us; one of us must hop the perch.

MRS. G. Exactly, my good fellow; I shall dispose of you
immediately--my pistols are in the next room. (_going_)

GREEN. Stop! We must fight in this apartment.

MRS. G. Here? oh, very well. If you prefer being shot on the
premises--I can have no objection.

GREEN. One word more! the sight of a pistol affects my nerves--we must
fight in the dark!

MRS. G. In the dark! Who ever heard of a duel in the dark? why we may
fight till morning and I may never be able to hit you.

GREEN. That's precisely what I wish; if we fight it must be in the

MRS. G. Well, if you make it a point, I shan't dispute it with you, as
I dare say I shall be able to pick you out somehow--I'll step in for
my pistols.

_Exit into room, 2 E. L._

GREEN. Hah! bravo! I've caught him. Stratagems are all fair in love
and fighting, and as this fellow means to shoot me, it's my business
to prevent him if I can; so I'll get behind the stove there, and then
he may blaze away as long as he likes. I'll shut the windows and be
ready for him. (_goes to window at back; closes the shutters; draws
the curtains, and blows out the remaining candle; stage dark; while he
is doing so, enter, 2 E. L., MRS. G. with BETSY, who carries a brace
of pistols_)

BETSY. (_apart to MRS. G._) Here are the pistols, ma'am. (_gives them
to MRS. G._)

MRS. G. (_apart to BETSY_) You're quite sure they can do no harm?

BETSY. (_apart_) You needn't be afraid, mum, there's nothing but
powder in them.

MRS. G. (_apart_) Well, you know what you have to do. (_BETSY goes
into room, L._) He-hem!

GREEN. Oh, you're come?

MRS. G. Yes, miserable man, I've come that you may go--I've got the

GREEN. Have you? then mind how you point them this way. Where are you?
(_crosses to L._)

MRS. G. Here--here--make haste!

GREEN. What a devil of a hurry you're in! (_in groping about he
touches one of the pistols, which MRS. G. holds with extended arm, and
starts back_) Oh! you shouldn't do that--not that I'm afraid--but the
sensation is far from pleasant.

MRS. G. Come, sir, you shall take one and leave me the other.

GREEN. Thank you. (_feels the pistol; aside_) The touch of them throws
me into a cold perspiration! I wish I knew which was the mildest of
the pair.

MRS. G. Well, have you made your choice?

GREEN. No--yes--there--this will do! (_takes one of the pistols, MRS.
G keeps the other. Apart_) Oh, lord, my heart's in my wellingtons!

MRS. G. Are you ready now?

GREEN. No--no--no--not yet! let's take our time! do you think a human
being should be shot with as little ceremony as a sack of coals?

MRS. G. Haw! Shall we fire at the first word?

GREEN. Kill a fellow creature at the first word! Rash young man, we
must have two words to that! Let the signal be "_Death and Glory_;"
you shall take "_Death_" and I'll have "_Glory._"

MRS. G. And then fire? Very well, now mind your eye. "_Death!_"

GREEN. (_dodging about in great alarm_) Hollo! stop! stop! what are
you about? My glory is not ready for death!--let's deliberate a
little! (_GREENFINCH is now behind the stove_)

MRS. G. Oh, nonsense! I never deliberate--are you ready?

GREEN. Yes--I'm ready now!

MRS. G. Very well, then--look sharp! (_GREENFINCH ducks behind the
stove_) _Death!_

GREEN. _Glory!_ (_both fire; MRS. G. drops her pistol and falls into
chair, R.C., with a groan_) Hallo! What's that? Have I hit you?

MRS. G. Hit me? yes; the ball has penetrated my side--here--close to
the heart! I feel--I'm dying--give--give me your hand old fellow!

GREEN. Where are you?

MRS. G. Here--here! (_GREENFINCH stumbles against her_)

GREEN. Ha! he _is_ floored! What shall I do?--shall I call for
help?--run for the doctor? (_crosses to R._)

MRS. G. No--'tis no use! (_faintly_) Assist me to my room--will you?
(_GREENFINCH assists her_) Ah, you're a dead shot, Greenfinch!

GREEN. Ha! then I _am_ Greenfinch--you confess it?

MRS. G. Yes, you're the real original Greenfinch. Good bye, my boy, I
forgive you; but you'll be hanged for my murder if you're caught!

GREEN. Hanged for your murder! You don't mean that?

MRS. G. Yes, I do; we fought in the dark you know--that's murder--and
you'll be hanged for it--but you don't mind it.

GREEN. Don't I though! My good friend, you musn't think of
dying--consider the fatal consequence to _me!_

MRS. G. Can't help it--it's all over with me--good bye--your wife's an
angel--and I--I am--oh!---- (_drops her head on his shoulder and
feigns to die_)

GREEN. Good gracious! What do you mean? Hallo! (_shaking her_) there's
not a stir in him--he's dead--dead as the twelve Cæsars. Unfortunate
youth! he's gone to settle his long account, and has left a heavy
balance in my hands. What's to be done now? I know:--I'll conceal him
in the bedroom here (_moving towards door R., a scream is heard in
room L._) Bless me! what's that? Something dreadful, I'm sure! Oh,
lord, my knees are sinking under me--I havn't strength to move a step
further! (_staggers against the easy chair_) Ha! this
chair--providential thought--I'll cover him up in it. (_he places MRS.
G. in the chair, and throws the travelling cloak, which hangs on the
back of the chair over her, so as to completely conceal her_) Now I'll
make a coroner's inquest of myself and sit upon the victim's body!
(_sits_) Hah! what a dreadful position is mine! (_another scream in
room, L._) There again!

_Enter BETSY, with lighted candle, from room, 2 E. L.; stage light._

BETSY. Oh, sir! Mr. Greenfinch are you there?

GREEN. (_aside_) Which Greenfinch does she mean? him (_pointing to
MRS. G. behind him_) or me? Yes, Betsy, I'm here.

BETSY. Oh, sir! oh, sir! my poor mistress--my poor dear mistress!----

GREEN. What of her, Betsy?

BKTSY. It's a shocking story, sir, but there's no use concealing
it--the young gentleman you quarrelled with was my mistress's
cousin--little Charley Bates that you've often heard her speak of.

GREEN. Her cousin! (_GREENFINCH jumps up; MRS. G. then slips from
under the cloak, places the carpet bag in the chair, covers it with
the cloak, and enters the room, R. on tip toe_) Little Charley?--no-o?

BETSY. Yes, indeed, sir, when you sent me out of the room, I made bold
to listen; and hearing you both agree to fight a duel, I ran and told
my mistress.

GREEN. Proceed, Betsy, proceed!

BETSY. Well, sir, though you had behaved shocking to her, she tried to
prevent mischief; but, la, sir, she had only reached that door
(_points to door, 2 E. L._) and was trying to see what was going
forward between you, when bang bang goes two pistols, and a bullet
went right through the keyhole into my mistress's eye.

GREEN. Betsy, support me! (_leans on her_) Her eye!

BETSY. With her last breath she sent you her blessing, sir, and the
key of the tea caddy. (_gives him a small key_)

GREEN. Sweet, careful martyr!

BETSY. What a shock this will be to poor Master Charley, sir.

GREEN. Hush, Betsy, nothing can shock him now; I confide the secret to
your faithful bosom--he's dead!

BETSY. Dead! you havn't gone and shot him too--poor fellow!

GREEN. (_solemnly_) Betsy, we have all our destinies! it's my fate to
be an involuntary monster. I'm pursued by a female demon! (_MRS. G.
assuming the voice of the Countess, and speaking inside, R._)

MRS. G. (_inside_) Grinfeench! Grinfeench!

GREEN. Ha! she's there again--the Countess--the demon--she calls me!
(_crosses to door, R., and locks it_) Ah! I've locked her in, and now
to bolt to the antipodes! (_a loud knocking at door, 3 E. L._) What's

OFFICER. (_outside_) Open in the name of the law!

GREEN. The law! Then it's all over with me!--open the door, Betsy!
(_BETSY opens the door, 3 E. L._)

_Enter a GENDARME, 3 E. L._

OFF. Your name is Greenfinch?

GREEN. Gregory Greenfinch is my name, England is my nation----

OFF. Silence! I am in pursuit of----

GREEN. The Countess de Rambuteau?

OFF. Right! I see you know her. I arrest you as her accomplice!

BETSY. And I charge him with being the murderer of his innocent wife
and her cousin.

GREEN. Under extenuating circumstances. I protest----

OFF. Silence, criminal! Let search be made for his victims. (_points
to door, R._)

GREEN. Stop!--she's there--the demon--don't---- (_BETSY opens the
door, R., and MRS. G. comes out in her proper dress; GREENFINCH drops
his head on the GENDARME'S shoulder_) My last moment is come!

MRS. G. (_in the assumed voice of the Countess_) Hem! vat is all dis,
my dear Grinfeench? you can answer for me that I'm your wife. Am I not
your wife?

GREEN. (_without looking at her_) No! I'll be damm'd if you are! I'll
stand it no longer--I don't know you!

MRS. G. Don't know me? (_in her natural voice_) Don't know your own
Maria Jane?

GREEN. My Mari---- (_in amazement as he turns and sees his wife_) Hah,
my wife! Why, you're not shot--you havn't got a bullet in your eye?

MRS. G. No, my dear, I've nothing in my eye but a foolish little
husband, whom I followed to Paris, and under the disguise of a

GREEN. Inveigled to Dieppe! I understand; you wanted to prove my
constancy, and I've come out of the fire--like a brick!

MRS. G. Hem!

GREEN. Why, do you think I could ever have been attracted to you if
there had not been a mysterious affinity between us? Never! My heart
told me privately you were my Maria Jane. I knew you by sympathy!

MRS. G. And my cousin, Charley, too?

GREEN. Oh, don't mention him! he lies there (_points to chair_) a gory
corpse beneath that cloak! (_he snatches cloak off the chair_) Hah! Am
I dreaming? He's not there!

MRS. G. No, because he's here! Ha, ha, ha! (_imitating_) Dem'me, if
you want to be shot in a gentlemanly and artistic manner, I'm your
man! Hey! _Death_ and _Glory_, old fellow! You're a dead shot,

GREEN. What! you're cousin Charley yourself!

MRS. G. Of course I am! It was a plan of Betsy's and mine to punish
you--the pistols were loaded with powder--the Gendarme is only the
waiter, (_WAITER bows and exit, 3 E. L._) and as no harm has been

BETSY. I hope, sir, you'll forgive me?

GREEN. Forgive you! I'm so happy I'll forgive the whole world!
    (_to the Audience_) Pity the failings of a poor young man,
    Whose trembling tongue----

MRS. G.                  Pray hold it--if you can!
    They don't want pathos, try to make them smile,
    I'll do it for you--something in this style:--
    (_to the Audience_) Confiding wives with husbands prone to roam,
    Still hold the check string when they stray from home,
    Forbid the latch-key, and if wanting aid----

BETSY. Be sure to be attended by your maid.

GREEN. And, husbands, when you follow lovely creatures,
    Avoid all sympathy with hidden features.
    And warned by how the present matter stands,
    I leave my case completely in your hands.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on images digitized by the University of
Toronto and posted by the Internet Archive at:


In general, this transcription attempts to retain the punctuation and
spelling of the source text, including variant spellings such as
"havn't" and "musn't." In a few cases where the quality of the images
made a word or a punctuation mark hard to read, the obvious reading
was considered the correct reading without comment.

The following changes were made:

-- p. 2: Green coat, light blue trowsers, and French travelling
cap,--Changed comma at end of costume note to a period.

-- p. 3: _Door, 2 E. L. Door. 3 E. L._--Changed period between
"Door" and "3" to a comma.

-- p. 5: the second day he performed a love pantomine at his
window--Changed "pantomine" to "pantomime".

-- p. 5: GREEN. I've ordered dinner at five; aud now--Changed "aud" to

-- p. 6: vil you permit me, vile in dis maison, to be apellez your
_femme_--Italicized "maison" and "apellez" for consistency.

-- p. 8: from your room there, ((_pointing R._)--Deleted one
parenthesis before "_pointing_".

-- p. 9: MRS. G. _Que faites vous ici, mon cher_ Grinfeench.--Changed
period after "Grinfeench" to a question mark.

-- p. 9: I know she's somewhere in the vicinity of this brown leather
trunk--Inserted a period after "trunk".

-- p. 11: Maria Jane! hist! (_taps_) MRS. G., my dear--eh?--Changed
"MRS." to "Mrs."

-- p. 12: in the way that gentlemen wish to to be who love their
wine.--Deleted the second "to".

-- p. 13: MRS. G. Well, Mister What's-your name--Inserted a hyphen
between "your" and "name".

-- p. 13: stop, and hear me! Young woman retire--Added a period after

-- p. 14: my pistols are in the next room (_going_)--Added a period
after "room".

-- p. 14: I can have no objection,--Changed comma after "objection" to
a period.

-- p. 14: BETSY. (_apart to MRS. G._) Here are the pistols,
ma'am--Added a period after "ma'am".

-- p. 15: Very well, now mind your eye "_Death!_"--Inserted a period
after "eye".

-- p. 15: MRS. G. Very well, then--look sharp! (_GREEN ducks behind
the stove_)--Changed "GREEN" to "GREENFINCH".

-- p. 15: MRS. G. Here--here! (_GREEN. stumbles against her_)--Changed

-- p. 15: Assist me to my room--will you (_GREEN assists
her_)--Inserted a question mark after "you" and changed "GREEN" to

-- p. 17: _GREEN. drops his head on the GENDARME'S shoulder_--Changed

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Duel in the Dark - An Original Farce, in One Act" ***

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