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´╗┐Title: Short and Sweet - A Comic Drama, in One Act
Author: Troughton, Adolphus Charles
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 "Short and Sweet - A Comic Drama, in One Act" ***

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of California, Davis and Fordham University, especially
to Patrice Kane and Vivian Shen of the Department of
Archives and Special Collections at the William D. Walsh
Family Library.



SHORT AND SWEET.

A Comic Drama,
IN ONE ACT.

BY
ADOLPHUS CHARLES TROUGHTON, ESQ.,

AUTHOR OF
"_Living too Fast_," "_Leading Strings_," "_Wooing in Jest and Loving
in Earnest_," "_Vandyke Brown_," "_Shameful Behaviour_," _&c._

THOMAS HAILES LACY,
89, STRAND,
(_Opposite Southampton Street, Covent Garden Market,_)
LONDON.



SHORT AND SWEET.

_First performed at the Strand Theatre (under the Management of Mr.
SWANBOROUGH, Sen.), on the 10th of October, 1861._


_Characters._

MR. SWEET (_of the Stock Exchange--a Friend
    of Short's_)                                  Mr. J. ROGERS.

MR. SHORT (_of the same--a Friend of Sweet's_)    Mr. CLARKE.

STEPHEN (_a Footman_)                             Mr. EDGE.

MRS. SWEET                                        Miss BUFTON.

MRS. SHORT                                        Miss CARSON.

MARIA (_Mrs. Sweet's Maid_)                       Miss TURTLE.

-----
SCENE--Near the Crystal Palace.
-----

_Costumes._

Mr. SWEET--_1st dress:_ morning dress. _2nd ditto:_ evening ditto.

Mr. SHORT--Ditto         ditto               ditto.

STEPHEN--Livery.

Mrs. SWEET--_1st dress:_ morning dress. _2nd ditto:_ riding habit, hat
and feathers. _3rd ditto:_ evening dress.

Mrs. SHORT--Ditto        ditto               ditto.

MARIA--Smart muslin dress.



SHORT AND SWEET.

SCENE.--_Short and Sweet's Lodgings, near the Crystal Palace--a
handsomely furnished Apartment, door, C.--backed by landing and
staircase, doors, L. 1. E. and 2 E.--fireplace, L. in flat--looking
glass over mantelpiece--vases and ornaments on mantelpiece--fender,
fireirons, &c.--door, R. 2 E.--a large round table, R., laid for
luncheon for four--chairs--an easy chair, L. of table--sofa against R.
in flat--sideboard against L. in flat--a work table and chairs,
L.--footstool near sofa._

_MRS. SWEET is seen, R., arranging the remains of a luncheon, from
which she and MRS. SHORT are supposed to have just risen--MRS. SHORT
sitting working at table, L._

MRS. SWEET. That tiresome husband of mine! What has he done with
himself?

MRS. SHORT. Compose yourself, my dear; men of business, you know, are
not always their own masters. _My_ good man, you see, has not found
his way back yet.

MRS. SWEET. Ah, you quite spoil Mr. Short. You know we don't agree
upon that subject. (_calls_) Come, come, William, come and take your
lunch!

SWEET. (_within, R. door_) In one minute, my dear. I'm only just
drying my hands.

MRS. SWEET. Vexatious! We shan't get the things cleared away all day.

_Enter MR. SWEET, door, R. 2 E._

SWEET. Sorry to keep you waiting--couldn't help it, upon my honour.
Just as I was leaving the office, as the deuce would have it, in came
a gentleman on business--large transfer of stock, &c. &c.--and so I
lost the train. Never mind, there's plenty of time, so I'll just snap
up a bit of something, and be ready in the crack of a whip. (_sit at
table, R., and eats voraciously_)

MRS. SWEET. Why, how you are eating, William! One would think you
hadn't tasted anything before to-day.

SWEET. Nor more I have--to speak of--I was so late this morning, that
I was obliged to run away without my breakfast.

MRS. SHORT. Oh, Mr. Sweet, how can you say so? Why, I helped you to
half a dozen kidneys, at least--there wasn't one left in the dish for
Mr. Short, when he came down after you left.

MRS. SWEET. Ha, ha, ha!

SWEET. No--did you, though? My impression was I only took a cup of
tea; (_eats voraciously_) but the fact is, I have so much upon my
stomach--I mean upon my mind--in the way of business, that really
these things make very little impression. However, hang business for
to-day, at all events--we shall have a splendid afternoon for our
ride--you'll enjoy it, I know, Mrs. Short, immensely.

MRS. SHORT. Oh, yes, that I shall of all things--I haven't been out
for a ride once since my marriage, and I used to be such a horsewoman.

SWEET. No; Short don't like it, I know.

MRS. SWEET. I should like to see Mr. Short on horseback,
amazingly--ha, ha!--since Gilpin's ride to Edmonton--ha, ha!

MRS. SHORT. Ha, ha, ha! (_checking herself_) And yet, though Henry is
rather inclining to be stout, you must admit that he carries himself
remarkably well.

SWEET. (_to MRS. SWEET_) Really, my dear, you are too severe upon
Short.

MRS. SWEET. I beg your pardon, Louise, I'm sure--I'm such a simpleton,
I must always laugh when I shouldn't--however, I think you had better
make your arrangements independently of him, for although I don't want
to be a wet blanket, I am convinced he won't go.

SWEET. No, no--I'll undertake to persuade him when he comes in.
(_STEPHEN is seen to cross C. from R. to L._) Isn't that Stephen going
down stairs? Here, Stephen.

_Enter STEPHEN, L. C._

Step over the way, to the livery stables, and tell them to send round
the horses I chose on my way to town this morning--then go on to Mr.
Billington's--my compliments, and we shall be happy to join him this
afternoon for a ride, at the appointed time--two o'clock. Let's see,
where did the note say we were to meet him?

MRS. SHORT. (_eagerly_) In front of the Crystal Palace.

SWEET. Ah, exactly--don't forget, Stephen--two o'clock precisely.

STEPH. Two o'clock, sir--yes, sir.

_Exit, L. C._

SWEET. (_rising and rubbing his hands_) Come, that's nicely
arranged--we shall have a charming ride over to Dulwich, see the
pictures, and get back in plenty of time to dress before we start to
dine with Billington, and then with the box at the opera, which he has
so politely presented us with, we shall have made out the day, in a
very superior, and I think I may almost venture to say, aristocratic
manner. Come ladies, make haste, get your habits on, or the horses
will be here before you are ready, and you know I can't bear to be
kept waiting.

MRS. SWEET. I like that vastly.

SWEET. What's the matter?

MRS. SWEET. You can't bear to be kept waiting! but you don't mind
keeping other people waiting--then, too, I am to be ordered about at
beck and call--everything arranged for me beforehand!--I think at
least you might have enquired whether I felt _disposed_ to join you.

MRS. SHORT. Oh, I'm sure, Fanny----

SWEET. Why, my dear Mrs. Sweet, you heart the whole thing canvassed
this morning between me and Mrs. Short, and you never made the
smallest objection. Besides, haven't I only just made you a present of
a magnificent riding habit--cost me ten pounds--and one of the most
wicked little wide-awakes in the world, with a bunch of cock's
feathers, all drooping over the crown! Come, now, you know you are
dying to put them on.

MRS. SWEET. You think so, do you!

SWEET. Yes, to be sure I do--you know you're an arrant coquette.

MRS. SWEET. I sir!--a coquette.

SWEET. Ah! ah! didn't I surprise you trying your hat on fifty
different ways before the glass this very morning--you are caught
there, I think!

MRS. SWEET. It's not true! You did nothing of the sort! You're always
saying something of this kind, and since these are the sentiments you
entertain of me, I positively refuse to stir a foot with you--so you
may go without me! (_doggedly seating herself_)

MRS. SHORT. (_eagerly_) Oh, Fanny!

SWEET. (_coaxingly_) Now, really my dear--you can't be in earnest.

MRS. SWEET. (_pettishly_) No, no, I won't go!--not an inch. (_crosses
and sits, R._)

SWEET. Very well, Mrs. Sweet! very well! The old story! You haven't
contradicted me before to-day, and so you think it is full time to
begin. Was there ever such caprice? (_crosses to L._)

MRS. SHORT. (_anxiously persuading her_) My dear Fanny, now do be
reasonable--you are not going to take offence without a cause?--a mere
word in joke--Mr. Sweet was only in fun--were you, Mr. Sweet? After
all Mr. Billington's politeness too, surely you'll go, it would seem
so personal.

SWEET. To be sure! Insult a man like Billington! One of the first
houses in the City! Most respectable delightful creature like
Billington! Why, he keeps two carriages, a couple of saddle horses,
and a buggy!

MRS. SHORT. Come now, Fanny, say you'll go.

SWEET. (_coaxingly_) Do! There's a ducky!

MRS. SWEET. Well, perhaps, I've been too hasty--say you didn't mean
it, William.

SWEET. Oh no, my love--upon my honour I didn't mean it!

MRS. SWEET. Well, then, as Mr. Billington will be expecting us, I
suppose I must go.

MRS. SHORT. Now, if my husband would but come.

MRS. SWEET. Oh, never mind him--if he is not in in time we'll go
without him. Come, we haven't a minute to spare, the horses will be
here directly.

_Exit MRS. SWEET, door, L. 2. E., and MRS. SHORT, door, L. 1. E._

SWEET. (_looking after them_) "We'll go without him!" Exactly! That's
the way she carries it! if _I_ had been the absentee, and had only
been a quarter of a minute behind time, she would go without _me_, as
lieve as look at me--she treats me as if I had been married twenty
years instead of half as many months. But all applies to Short, just
as well as to me, and yet how he lords it over _his_ wife--she
actually seems to doat upon him--fondles him--pats him, gives way to
him--whereas Mrs. Sweet expresses her affection for me by snapping and
snubbing, and constant contradiction. It's extraordinary, I never
perceived it before we took these joint lodgings down here for the
sake of being near the Crystal Palace, for if we did sometimes quarrel
I always coaxed her into good temper again, but since I have witnessed
Short's happiness I confess my eyes are opened to the different state
of things existing in the two families, and I acknowledge that it
irritates me! annoys me! for I begin to feel myself in a very false
and ridiculous position! Oh, I must turn over a new leaf!--I really
must! I wonder how Short does it, for he is nothing like so
good-looking as I am--on the contrary, although he is my most
particular friend, he's a confoundedly ugly fellow.

_Enter STEPHEN, L. 1 E._

STEPH. The horses are at the door, sir.

SWEET. Very well, get my whip.

_STEPHEN takes one off sofa, and gives it to SWEET, and exits, L. C._

SWEET. It's astonishing what an excitement I've worked myself into!
(_lashing the air with his whip_) I hope my wife won't happen to come
in just now, I am hardly safe to be trusted with this whip.

SHORT. (_outside_) Are the lunch things taken away? I am almost
famished.

SWEET. There he is, happy man!

_Enter SHORT, door, L. C._

SHORT. (_speaking as he comes in_) Here, give me a chair! Give me a
chair! I am tired to death--fussed and worried out of my life!

SWEET. Why, how late you are! We had almost given you up.

SHORT. You're a pretty fellow to complain--here have I been chasing
about the city all day on any empty stomach--I can't neglect my
business as you do, and then I'm to be told you had nearly given me
up, forsooth. Here, Stephen, bring me up something or other to eat.
Why you have hardly left a scrap upon the table--Stephen, some come
meat! (_sits in easy chair, L. of table, R._)

SWEET. What, are you going to make a heavy luncheon at this hour of
the day. I am surprised at that habit of yours, Short, I rarely take
anything between breakfast and dinner.

SHORT. Nor more do I when I _get down first._ Who devoured the whole
dish of kidneys, and left me nothing for my breakfast but half a round
of cold toast? But, what's all that about outside? They're parading
four horses up and down before the house--one great brute nearly ran
over me as I was crossing the road.

SWEET. (_sits R. of table, L._) That's exactly what you said when you
knocked down that Shetland pony in the Borough and trod upon it, and
then came fainting into a pastrycook's shop, swearing you had been run
over. What, didn't I tell you then that we are all going out for a
ride?

SHORT. What do you mean by _all?_ _I_ am not going, I can tell you. Do
you think, at my time of life, I would trust myself to the back of a
horse from a livery stable? Why, when I was fifteen or twenty years
younger, in my wildest days, I never permitted myself anything beyond
a donkey on the sands at Ramsgate, and then only a quiet one. I never
could bear a fiery donkey.

SWEET. Come now, you are not going to spoil sport--your wife has set
her heart upon it. (_rises and goes to SHORT_)

SHORT. _My_ wife, Sweet, never sets her heart upon anything but what
mine's set on too, so you may send back two of the horses, I promise
you.

SWEET. Do you mean to say you are going to take this step without
first consulting your wife?

SHORT. Of course, I am.

SWEET. What, on your own private authority, refuse Mrs. Short?

SHORT. Refuse! There will be no necessity for that--I shall just say
_I don't go_, and she won't go either.

SWEET. (_imitating_) Oh, you'll just say "You don't go," and she won't
go either, eh? (_aside_) Bluebeard! (_aloud_) Now really, Short, you
are joking with me!

SHORT. You'll soon see whether I'm in earnest.

SWEET. What, do you mean to pretend that she'll give in without
disputing the point--without a quarrel?

SHORT. Not the slightest--_my_ wife always does as I wish her.

SWEET. Oh, so does mine, so does mine, when we both wish alike. Come,
I bet you five pounds she goes.

SHORT. Done! I tell you what it is, Sweet, when a woman once falls
violently in love with a man there's no end to the influence he has
over her.

SWEET. (_aside_) Conceited old hippopotamus! (_aloud_) You'll lose
your money, depend upon it, _she'll_ not give way.

SHORT. Well we shall see about that, for here she comes.

_Enter MRS. SHORT, in hat and riding habit, through door, L. 1 E._

MRS. SHORT. Well, here you are, my dear, at last. (_with marked
playfulness patting his cheek_) You naughty hubby to be so late.
(_crosses to SHORT_)

SHORT. Yes, Loo, here I am, very tired, I can tell you, and ravenous
for something to eat.

MRS. SHORT. Oh, dear, dear, what can I tell them to get you?

SHORT. Never mind, there is something coming--I have taken care of
myself--but, bless my heart, Loo, how smart you are! Why, you look as
if you were going to "ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross."

MRS. SHORT. (_timidly_) Fanny and Mr. Sweet have been proposing----

SHORT. A ride on horseback--yes, I know--quite a cavalcade. Sweet has
been telling me. But shouldn't you have waited for my return before
you gave your consent?

SWEET. (_aside_) What a terrible crime!

MRS. SHORT. Well, Henry, dear, I didn't think you would--

SHORT. You know, Louisa, I am not fond of equestrian exercise. I never
even go to Astley's--but since you have been at the trouble of
dressing yourself, why I suppose I mustn't disappoint Mrs. Sweet and
her husband.

MRS. SHORT. (_pleased_) Thank you, Harry, that's kind.

SWEET. (_aside_) There's five pounds in my pocket.

SHORT. (_ill-humouredly_) At the same time, of course, it will be very
dull and uncomfortable for me to be left all alone here while you are
out pleasuring--just like you wives, you always think of yourselves
first. (_with increasing ill humour_) But who the deuce was it put the
idea into your head?

SWEET. Why, _I_ did, I believe: but to confess the truth, I should
never have dreamt of the thing if it hadn't been for Mr.----

MRS. SHORT. (_alarmed, and checking SWEET_) No, no! Never mind--it's
of no consequence--don't let us talk any more about it! (_she begins
to pull off her gloves_)

SWEET. Why, Mrs. Short--what are you doing? (_rises_)

MRS. SHORT. I see my husband doesn't wish me to go, and I feel now it
wouldn't be right to leave him; so, although he has given me _full
permission_ to go, I shall not avail myself of his _kindness_----

SHORT. (_looking at SWEET_) A--hem!

SWEET. (_aside_) How on earth does he do it? What can be the nature of
the influence? He must do something to her.

MRS. SHORT. Well, since I am not going, I may as well take off my
things. (_to SWEET_) You'll explain matters to Fanny. (_aside_) What a
fright he gave me! (_crossing_) Just as everything was arranged so
nicely--how vexatious!

_Exit through door, L. 1 E._

SHORT. (_balancing himself, with his thumbs in his waistcoat, looking
triumphantly at SWEET_) I told you so. Hand me over five pounds!

SWEET. (_taking out his purse and paying the money_) It isn't enough
that I am to be made sensible that I'm not half such a happy man as
you are, but I'm to pay for the conviction into the bargain! You're a
sorcerer!

SHORT. No--the girl's devoted to me, that's all.

SWEET. Go along with you--don't tell me--it won't bear thinking about!
Zounds, I shall become unhappy if I do--I won't stand it, Short! Hang
me if go to Dulwich either--hang me if I do!--and yet that will be no
punishment to Fanny, for she didn't wish to go herself.

SHORT. Pray don't let me prevent _your_ going.

_Enter STEPHEN, L. C., with cold meat._

(_to STEPHEN, L. C._) Come, what a time you've been. (_he sits down
and begins to eat_)

SWEET. Stephen.

STEPHEN. Yes, sir.

SWEET. Tell the man to take back the horses to the stables, we are not
going.

_Enter MRS. SWEET, as he is speaking, dressed in riding hat and habit,
through door, L. 2. E._

MRS. SWEET. What do you mean? Not going?

SWEET. No, my dear, I have changed my mind. (_STEPHEN lingers for
further orders_)

MRS. SWEET. What for? We are all ready, and here's Mr. Short come
home.

SWEET. Yes, but you see he is busy. (_pointing to SHORT, who is eating
voraciously_) He doesn't wish to go, and _his_ wife remains at home to
keep him company.

MRS. SWEET. But what in the name of goodness has all this to do with
us?

SWEET. I tell you, Short doesn't want to go--and I desire, Mrs. Sweet,
there may be no further discussion on the subject--you understand!
(_imitating SHORT_) "I don't go!" (_aside_) That's it, I think, as
near as a toucher. (_aloud_) Stephen, do as I ordered you. (_STEPHEN
is about to go_)

MRS. SWEET. Stop a moment, Stephen.

SWEET. How, Mrs. Sweet, you venture to counter-order----

MRS. SWEET. No, no, but tell me. How strange you are--just now, when I
didn't care about going, you were violently in favour of it; and now
that I have consented and dressed myself to please you, you want to
stay at home. My dear William--what nonsense! Of course, we must go
now you have sent to say so. What can you be thinking about?

SWEET. (_aside_) There she is again--arguing the point with me! How
different with Short; and yet that great hulky fellow, insensible of
his own happiness, sits there stuffing ready to burst himself.

SHORT. (_looking up from his knife and fork_) Well, have you settled
the point?

MRS. SWEET. My dear, Stephen is waiting for orders. (_coaxingly_) You
know I have already given way to you, Willie--it's now your turn.

SWEET. (_aside_) I feel that I am yielding, and I can't help it.
(_aloud_) Well, that's true--so you did. (_aside_) Short's laughing at
me; but I mustn't exact too much from her at once.

MRS. SWEET. Come, come--we shall be keeping them waiting.

SWEET. Ah, to be sure, I didn't think of that. (_apologetically to
SHORT, and crossing to him_) You that makes all the difference, Short.
We have friends waiting for us. Stephen, you can tell the man to take
back only two of the horses.

STEPHEN. Yes, sir.

_Exit, L. C._

MRS. SWEET. There, that's like a man of sense; you may give me a kiss,
and then get your hat, and let us be off.

SWEET. Certainly, Fanny, that habit of yours is monstrously becoming
to you! (_kisses her--aside_) That's all very well in its way, but I'm
a great ass for my pains notwithstanding.

MRS. SWEET. Now, then, are you ready?

SWEET. (_putting on his hat and taking his whip_) Good bye, Short,
take care of yourself. We shall find you at home I suppose when we
come back.

SHORT. Oh, yes, no fear of that. A safe ride to you. Good bye. (_Exit
SWEET and MRS. SWEET, L. C._) Ha! ha! ha! there he goes! poor tame
snake! A model of a husband!

_Re-enter, MRS. SHORT door, L. 1 E., without her habit, as at first._

MRS. SHORT. (_aside, looking after MR. and MRS. SWEET_) There they go.
How I should like to be with them!

SHORT. I wish them joy. Ha! ha! Sweet will make more than one wry face
when he comes to sit down to dinner. (_seeing his wife_) Why, Loo, I
am afraid you don't stay at home with a good grace.

MRS. SHORT. Oh don't say so, I am sure I am always delighted to be
with you--besides, it is no less a duty than (_in a lower tone_) a
pleasure to me.

SHORT. (_eating heartily all the while he is talking_) Now, I ask you
if we are not ten times better off comfortably at home here with a
good luncheon before us, than if we were jolting about on the backs of
those brutes, exposed all the while to the danger--why, my dear, you
are in a brown study.

MRS. SHORT. (_recollecting herself_) Eh! yes, certainly--what did you
say?

SHORT. Who is it they are going with?

MRS. SHORT. (_getting uneasy_) If you talk so much you'll spoil your
luncheon.

SHORT. Well, I don't know how it is but my appetite's beginning to
fail.

MRS. SHORT. (_bustling about the table to draw off his attention_)
Have a glass of sherry--here, let me pour some out for you. (_pours
out wine for him, and goes round to the R. of SHORT_)

SHORT. Well, I have rather a weakness for a glass of sherry. (_having
drank it_) Another. (_she pours out another--aside_) If Sweet could
but see me now! (_aloud_) What a nice little parlour maid you would
make, Loo--why you are prettier than ever! (_chucks her under the
chin, and takes her by the hand to draw her towards him_)

MRS. SHORT. (_with disinclination to meet his advance_) Oh, how cold
your hand is, (_breaking away from him, and running towards the bell,
L._) let me ring and tell them to light a fire for you.

SHORT. No, no, never mind. Come here, I want to talk to you. Pour me
out another glass of wine.

MRS. SHORT. (_observing him_) My dear! A third glass before dinner.

SHORT. Why not? It warms me and does me good--come, give me a buss.
(_drawing her towards him_)

MRS. SHORT. (_breaking away from him_) Oh! oh!

SHORT. Why, what one earth's the matter?

MRS. SHORT. Only a sudden stitch. (_keeping at a distance_)

SHORT. I tell you I want to have a chat with you--come, sit by me.

MRS. SHORT. (_taking her work and sitting at table, L._) Very well,
what shall we chat about?

SHORT. Don't sit so far off. (_he is about to rise to go nearer to
her, but sinks back again into the chair_) There's my leg again!
Weugh!--what a grinder!--I haven't got rid of my gout yet. (_about to
rise_)

MRS. SHORT. (_running to him with footstool_) Don't get up! Don't get
up! you'll hurt yourself--here, take this footstool.

SHORT. (_rubbing his leg, and putting it on footstool, and then sits,
L._) Ah! that's better! That's more comfortable! (_aside_) If that
silly fellow, Sweet, could but see me! (_aloud_) I am as snug now as a
bug in a rug--what would poor Sweet give to exchange places with
me--this spring cushion instead of a hard saddle, and his leg up at
his ease!--talking of _him_ reminds me you haven't told me who's their
friend this morning? (_she seems to hesitate_) What don't you know?

MRS. SHORT. (_confused_) Yes, oh yes--Mr. Billington, I believe.

SHORT. Oh, Mr. Billington is it--a friend of the Sweet's--let's see,
we dine there to-day--a remarkably nice young man that Mr.
Billington--he is particularly civil to me lately whenever he meets me
in the City--I am sure nothing could be more polite and attentive than
his behaviour to us that night at the Sweet's, in town just before we
came down here--by the bye, how is it he never comes to _our_ house?

MRS. SHORT. (_confused_) Why--I--I--never asked him--you know you are
so much away from home--I am so often alone that I--

SHORT. You are quite right, my dear--perfectly correct, certainly!
Appearances must be attended to--very proper conduct on your
part--delicate and correct in the extreme. (_aside_) Ecod--Sweet's
right! I am the happiest fellow under the sun.

_Enter STEPHEN, L. C._

STEPH. Oh, sir! oh mum! such a shocking thing!

MRS. SHORT. Good gracious, Stephen, what's the matter?

STEPH. Oh, the poor gentleman! Poor Mr. Sweet!

SHORT. Why, what has happened to him?

STEPH. Oh, horrorble, sir! tremengeous! Throwed from his 'orse! dashed
his self to pieces!

MRS. SHORT. Oh, good heavens, where is he?

SHORT. Ah, this comes of steady men of business taking to riding, when
they're turned of five and forty! Poor fellow, poor fellow!

_Enter SWEET, L. C., frightened out of his wits, leaning on his wife
and STEPHEN, apparently in great pain--MRS. SHORT and SHORT run to
meet him._

SWEET. Oh, oh!

SHORT. My dear friend, what is it, tell me!

SWEET. (_in a feeble voice_) Thrown--thrown from my horse.

MRS. SWEET. (_with the greatest solicitude and affection_) _My poor_
husband! Quick, quick, the sofa! (_STEPHEN wheels sofa to C._) Lay him
on the sofa!--gently!--there place you head upon my arm. Where is it
you're in pain? _Do_ tell us?

SWEET. Oh, oh--here--here--there! (_seated on sofa, C._)

MRS. SWEET. Run, Stephen, as fast as your legs will carry you for Mr.
Sawbone.

SWEET. No, no, I won't see him, he'll cut both my legs off.

MRS. SWEET. (_to STEPHEN_) Get your hat, we'll send you word if you
are to go.

STEPH. Yes, mum. (_aside as he goes out looking at SWEET_) Well, he
_has_ gone and smashed his self.

_Exit, L. C._

SHORT. (_examining and bending first his legs and then his arms_)
Courage! come, let me see where you're hurt.

SWEET. (_the moment he is touched_) Oh, oh!

SHORT. Have you broken a limb? (_examining_) No, your legs are all
sound, and so are your arms. Come, sit up, man, you're more frightened
than hurt.

MRS. SWEET. Mercy be praised! How thankful I am!

SHORT. (_to SWEET_) What a turn you have given me. Pour me out a glass
of wine, Loo.

(_MRS. SHORT pours out a glass of wine, and as she is carrying it to
him, MRS. SWEET takes it out of her hand, and gives it to SWEET, who
drinks it_)

MRS. SWEET. (_to MRS. SHORT as she takes the wine_) Thank you.

SHORT. (_looking astonished_) That was meant for me!

MRS. SWEET. (_to SWEET, not hearing SHORT_) How are you now, my dear?

SWEET. Well, I feel a little better, but there's something gone! I'm
sure I felt it go! (_unbuttoning his waistcoat and feeling_)

SHORT. Yes, it's one of your brace buttons, don't you see.

MRS. SHORT. (_to MRS. SWEET_) How pale you are, Fanny!

MRS. SWEET. (_recovering from her alarm_) It is passing off now. I
have had a little fright, that's all.

SHORT. (_to SWEET_) You would go showing off your horsemanship, and
see what has come of it.

SWEET. Not at all, I assure you. I was going along as quietly as
possible, getting gradually more confident and comfortable, when all
of a sudden a cursed little brute of a cur ran out of a yard close by,
and flew at the horse's throat. I thought something was going to
happen by the look of the mare's ears--and just as I was about to let
go the bridle and catch hold of the mane, up went her heels into the
air, and I was shot like a bullet from a gun slap over her head into
the road.

SHORT. And poor little pug was kicked to death, I suppose.

SWEET. No, I had my revenge.

SHORT. How do you mean?

SWEET. Why, I came down in a sitting posture, plump on his back--one
squeak, and it was all over.

MRS. SWEET. (_seeing that nothing is the matter with her husband_)
Come, William, I think you are nearly all right again now.

SWEET. Yes, my dear, thank you, I shall get round again in a day or
two, I dare say. You were far more frightened than I was.

MRS. SWEET. (_smiling_) Oh come, William, I am not quite so sure about
that. Now the danger is over we can afford, you know, to laugh at it.
(_playfully_) You were not _at all_ alarmed, were you, dear? Ha, ha!
and the droll manner in which you fell, ha, ha!

SHORT. Exactly; it certainly broke his fall, and the dog's back at the
same time. Much better than falling the other way. Ha, ha, ha!

MRS. SWEET. (_with good-humoured merriment_) Ha, ha, ha! Only picture
to yourselves my husband's attitude after his descent, comfortably
sitting in the middle of the road without his hat. Ha, ha, ha!

SHORT. Ha, ha, ha! With all the dirty little vagabonds in the parish
gathered around him! Ha, ha, ha!

SWEET. (_getting offended_) I'm glad you're amused! I really don't see
the joke.

MRS. SHORT. (_aside, to MRS. SWEET_) Don't, Fanny! he don't like it.

MRS. SWEET. (_thrusting her handkerchief in her mouth_) I oughtn't to
laugh, perhaps, but I positively can't help it! Ha, ha, ha!

SHORT. No, it makes one laugh in spite of one'self! Ha, ha, ha!

SWEET. (_more offended_) Really, Mrs. Sweet, I consider this behaviour
of yours very extraordinary--not to say disgusting! Here have I been
within a hair's breadth of losing my life, and you are turning the
whole thing into ridicule.

MRS. SWEET. Nay--now, don't be angry--I can't help myself. Ha, ha, ha!

SHORT. Ha, ha, ha! Just imagine our friend here magnificently
enthroned in the gutter on the body of his prostrate enemy. Ha, ha,
ha!

SWEET. Mr. Short--sir, leave off!

SHORT. Well, it is not my fault--it was your wife set me off. Ha, ha,
ha!

SWEET. (_looking angrily at his wife_) Yes, I know it was; and her
preposterous merriment explores her great want of feeling--the stony
nature of her heart!

MRS. SWEET. (_trying in vain to repress her laughter_) Nay, now,
Willie--

SWEET. Yes, ma'am, I repeat it--the stony nature of your heart!

MRS. SWEET. Now, Willie, it's ill-natured of you to say that. If I
could, for laughing, I should be angry with you. Ha, ha, ha! I
_cannot_ stop myself! Ha, ha, ha!

SWEET. Damn it, madam--will you leave off?

MRS. SWEET. I can't, William. Ha, ha, ha! The whole thing seems so
absurd to me now it's all over, that I really can't contain myself!
Ha, ha, ha! I shall do myself an injury! Ha, ha, ha! I'll go out of
the room, since it offends you. Ha, ha, ha, ha!

_Exit, bursting with irresistible laughter, L. 2 E._

SWEET. (_pacing the stage in a passion_) Such scandalous want of
feeling is abominable!--revolting!

MRS. SHORT. (_trying to pacify him_) Mr. Sweet, pray--

SWEET. (_interrupting her, and crossing to L._) No, Mrs. Short--I
appeal to you--I appeal to you, ma'am--suppose this misfortune had
happened to Short, do you think for one moment that _you_ would have
been capable of such behaviour? (_crosses to R._)

SHORT. Ah, Sweet!--but there's no arguing by comparisons--all women
are not of the same sensitive disposition as my Louisa. I flatter
myself they don't all feel things alike.

MRS. SHORT. But Fanny is the most affectionate creature in the world,
and I am sure, Mr. Sweet, is very sincerely attached to you. It was
evidently quite an hysterical affection wholly beyond her power to
control--one of those irresistible fits of laughter that we are all of
us subject to at times.

SWEET. No, I shan't pass it off so easily, I assure you. How does she
know what may be the end of it? There may be after symptoms.

MRS. SHORT. Oh, don't let us think of that--I trust that you are not
seriously hurt. Come now, I'll go and fetch her--you must kiss and be
friends--you must indeed.

_Enter MARIA, door, L. 2. E._

MARIA. My mistress wishes to see you, ma'am.

MRS. SHORT. Very well, Maria--I'll come directly.

_Exit MARIA, door, L. 2 E._

(_to SWEET_) There, you see, she has sent for me to make it up with
you.

SWEET. Mrs. Short--listen to me.

MRS. SHORT. No, no--I'll not hear another word. You must be reconciled
to your wife this very minute on pain of my severe displeasure.
(_SWEET is about to object_) No, no, I can't hear you--not half a
syllable--I shall run and fetch her.

_Exit, door, L. 2 E._

SWEET. What a treasure you have in that woman, Short--she is a perfect
pattern--a model--an incomparable model of conjugal devotedness. It's
a good thing for you I didn't see her first. (_sits on sofa, C._)

SHORT. My dear friend, women are neither more nor less than what we
make them, at least in marriage. Louisa was not always the docile
obedient wife you now see her, not of course till all the tomfoolery
of the honeymoon was over, and I began to take the proper tone.

SWEET. (_rises_) Ah, why didn't _I_ take the proper tone.

SHORT. Exactly. (_rises_) But it requires a peculiar tact--the method
of proceeding, I believe, is a secret not possessed by all.

SWEET. Take pity on me, Short--tell it me--show me how you do it, and
you'll bind me to you for life.

SHORT. You want firmness--you give way--and when once a married man,
you know, allows _two_ voices in his house, it soon ends in there
being only _one_, and, you'll excuse me, Sweet, the result is, he is
led by the nose by his own wife, as "Iago" says in the play, "as
tenderly as asses are."

SWEET. Yes, I am afraid I _have_ been a very _great_ ass, but shall I
suffer this state of things to go on till I become the laughing stock
of all my friends? No, never! I can't sleep at nights for thinking of
the difference between your wife and mine. Zounds! I'm resolved I
won't put up with it any longer! I'll be as much master in my own
house as you are--every jot as much. Who the devil are you that you
should carry it over me in this sort of way? Do you hear what I say,
Short? I insist upon being as much minded as you are, sir? I insist
upon it! What can I do to show my authority? I have it! I won't go to
the opera to-night!--I won't dine at Billington's--what do I care for
his mock turtle!--d--n his milk punch! I know she has set her heart
upon it, but I won't go. There'll be a precious kick up. She'll fly
into a passion--fall a crying--perhaps, have a fit--and shall I give
way? No, I'll stand like a rock!

SHORT. Well said! bravo! but you'll be sure to give in again.

SWEET. Give in--you shall see!

SHORT. If you only keep your word you'll be sure to succeed.

SWEET. Oh, I have been too much of a nincompoop all this while--too
good-natured--too indulgent--too----

SHORT. Hush, they'll hear you! Here they come--now _mind._

SWEET. (L.) Don't you trouble yourself, I'm just in the humour for
her!

_Enter MRS. SWEET and MRS. SHORT, door, L. 2 E.--MARIA following with
an evening dress on her arm--STEPHEN enters, L. C., and wheels back
sofa to R. in flat._

MRS. SHORT. Never mind, Fanny--why, what a child you are--don't let
the dress put you out of temper, I am sure I can alter it for you.
(_to MARIA_) Lay it carefully on the bed.

_Exit MARIA, door, L. 1 E._

(_to MRS. SWEET_) You must come and dress in my room.

MRS. SWEET. Was there ever anything so vexatious? Stupid creature!
(_sits, L._)

_STEPHEN removes luncheon and exit, L. C._

SWEET. (_aside to MRS. SHORT_) Well?

MRS. SHORT. (_not at first understanding him_) Eh? Oh yes! (_aside_)
Well, I spoke to her about it, and I am sure she is very sorry for
what took place, so you mustn't think any more of it.

SHORT. (_aside to SWEET_) Be firm--show determination!

MRS. SHORT. (_aside to SWEET_) You promised me, you know, to make it
up with her.

SHORT. (_aside to MRS. SHORT_) This is no place for us just now,
hadn't you better go and dress?

MRS. SHORT. Wait a moment, I want just to speak----

SHORT. (_authoritatively_) My dear!

MRS. SHORT. (_intimidated_) Very well.

SWEET. (_observing them_) Astonishing! One work and he is obeyed at
once.

SHORT. (_aside to SWEET_) Recollect!

SWEET. (_aside to SHORT_) Never fear.

SHORT. (_to his wife_) Now if you please.

_Exit SHORT and MRS. SHORT, door, L. 1 E._

SWEET. Mrs. Short is right--she seems vexed, perhaps she is really
sorry.

MRS. SWEET. (_rising_) These things only happen to me.

SWEET. Whose fault is that, ma'am?

MRS. SWEET. How was I to know I should be so misunderstood?

SWEET. You should be more particular in what you say then. Think
before you speak.

MRS. SWEET. Well, so I thought I did. I am quite grieved about it.
(_rings bell_)

_Enter MARIA, door, L. 1 E._

MRS. SWEET. Has Mr. Billington's aunt sent the book of the fashions
she promised the other day to Mrs. Short?

MARIA. No, ma'am.

MRS. SWEET. Send Stephen for it directly then, and as soon as it comes
bring it to me--don't make any mistake now, bring it to me--you
understand?

MARIA. Very well, ma'am.

_Exit, L. C._

SWEET. (_aside_) She is off at a tangent now, about her finery.
(_aloud_) Your grief appears to be of short duration, ma'am.

MRS. SWEET. I am sure I was quite in despair about it, but Louisa has
kindly undertaken to put matters to rights for me.

SWEET. Mrs. Short, then, has undertaken more than she has any
authority for, and may find the task more difficult than she supposes.

MRS. SWEET. Oh, I hope not, but if she doesn't succeed, I shall go
another way to work--a sharp knife will soon settle the business.

SWEET. (_staggers back horrified_) A sharp knife!--you alarm me. What
for?

MRS. SWEET. What for?--why to rip up the seam of my dress to be
sure--I want the upper skirt open at the side, trimmed with
flowers--there's nothing more becoming.

SWEET. (_in disgust_) Trimmed with flowers! Fool, to suppose that _I_
was in any way concerned in your vexation.

MRS. SWEET. You--of course not--how should that concern you?

SWEET. You have the face to ask me the question after your scandalous
behaviour just now?

MRS. SWEET. Oh, that's what you've been driving at all this while--I
didn't understand you--you don't mean to say that you are still in a
bad temper about my joking you. (_laughs_) There I ask your pardon?
Shall I go down upon my knees?

SWEET. No, by no means; laugh again, ma'am, if you like--pray don't
restrain yourself--but you will find for the future that I shan't give
way to all your whims and fancies quite as easily as I have done--it
doesn't answer. (_crosses to L._)

MRS. SWEET. Come, now Willie, I didn't mean to offend you, (_smiling_)
the danger was all past you know.

SWEET. No, ma'am, I am not in a laughing humour to-day, and as I see
nothing amusing in what has happened to me, and don't feel disposed to
go out, you will be pleased to stay at home to-night, ma'am.

MRS. SWEET. (_smiling_) Very well.

SWEET. Yes, but I mean it, Mrs. Sweet; I am not well--I am suffering
from the effects of my accident--wounded both in mind and body.
(_crosses to R._)

MRS. SWEET. Where? Why didn't you see the doctor, then, when I wished
you?

SWEET. Zounds, ma'am! a man may be wounded without having all his
bones broken--besides, I am not obliged to give a reason--I don't
choose to go, and I request you not to go either--I _order_ you not to
go!

MRS. SWEET. Oh, very well, sir, as you please, of course; but since
you feel yourself so very, very ill, why on earth don't you go to bed?

SWEET. Because I prefer to sit up. (_sits, R._)

MRS. SWEET. Then you must allow me to say that your not going to-night
is a mere caprice, you would be just as well at the opera as sitting
up in this room.

SWEET. Possibly! but I don't mean to put it to the proof.

MRS. SWEET. (_altering her manner_) What, not for _my_ sake, Willie,
not if I coax you? I _do so_ wish to go, it is so seldom I have an
opportunity of going to the opera.

SWEET. No, it's of no use--I tell you I won't go!

MRS. SWEET. Really, this behaviour is most unpardonable, why you are a
completely altered man--I am surprised at you!

SWEET. Yes, ma'am, I _am_ altered--totally altered! (_crosses to L._)
I have given way for the last time, and you'll be much _more_
surprised when you find that I am firm--determined--fixed!

MRS. SWEET. Well, I have never seen you in such a detestable temper
before in all my life.

SWEET. You provoke me, ma'am! I am tired of being contradicted! Tired
of it!

MRS. SWEET. What _can_ you mean, William? Why, if any one saw us we
should be set down for the most unhappy couple in the world.

SWEET. So we are, Mrs. Sweet! so we are! although I wasn't aware of
till we came down here a month ago to these lodgings with the
Shorts,--I was contented enough before then, happy as the days were
long--sometimes giving into _your_ way, sometimes getting my own,--but
I was a fool then, and didn't know any better! Look at Short--my eyes
are opened now--see how much happier he is with _his wife_ than _I_ am
with _you!_ I wish, ma'am, to be obeyed like Short--to be observed
like Short--to be doated on like Short--to be caressed like Short--to
be petted like Short--to be patted like Short--to be _fat_ like Short!
Why ain't I of as much consequence as he is? Why is he always obeyed
when I am not? (_crosses to R._)

MRS. SWEET. Because he is less extravagant in his desires, I suppose.

SWEET. How, ma'am!

MRS. SWEET. Or else, perhaps, because he has a more amiable way of
making his wishes understood. In a word--because he doesn't resemble
you.

SWEET. This is downright personality--I give you fair warning--I am
getting into a most enormous passion!

_Enter STEPHEN, L. C._

STEPH. Mr. Billington is here, ma'am.

SWEET. We're not at home. (_crosses to L._) What does he want?

STEPH. He says, sir, he waited this morning nearly an hour in front of
the Crystal Palace, according to appointment, and finding that you
didn't come he has called to enquire if there is anything the matter.

SWEET. We can't see him--we're not at home.

MRS. SWEET. Impossible, you can't mean it! What now, he is in the
house?

SWEET. (_to STEPHEN_) Do you hear what I say?

_Exit STEPHEN, L. C._

MRS. SWEET. I never would have believed that you could have behaved
like this--what _will_ Mr. Billington think of us?

SWEET. What do I care?

MRS. SWEET. You _must_ go to-night now, if it be only to apologize to
him--after keeping him waiting, too, all the morning.

SWEET. It will be time enough to-morrow--I shall see him in the City.

MRS. SWEET. I don't understand your conduct, William--it must be
simply to vex and annoy _me_, that you refuse to accompany me this
evening.

SWEET. No, ma'am, I am acting advisedly, on principle.

MRS. SWEET. Very well, sir--I see your object. You have determined to
make me unhappy, and you have perfectly succeeded. I am not accustomed
to these insane transports of passion, without the slightest motive.
Your cruel treatment has wounded me to that degree! (_crying_) What
have I done to deserve it?

SWEET. (_softened_) Why, I can't help feeling----

MRS. SWEET. So happy as we always lived together, till we came down
here. You'll repent of this behaviour before long, depend upon it. I
see how it is--you want to make me your slave--the mere echo of your
own lordly will. Very well, sir--I submit; henceforward, you shall
find me the most submissive of wives--every wish shall be acquiesced
in--every command obeyed: but--(_sobbing_)--I--I shall never--never
love you any more! (_crossing, L., SWEET follows her, entreating, &c.,
down, C._)

SWEET. (_moved by her tears_) But Mrs. Sweet--Fanny--my dear--don't
cry--you _shall_ go to the Opera--I'll go with you--we'll _all_ go to
the Opera!

MRS. SWEET. (_sobbing_) Oh, how unhappy you have made me! (_sobbing_)
I'll go,--go and dress myself, William, and then, perhaps, when you're
left to yourself, you'll be sor--sorry for what you have done!

_Exit, sobbing, through door, L. 1 E._

SWEET. (_wiping his eyes_) I have behaved like a barbarian to her.

_Enter SHORT, door, L. 1 E._

SHORT. Well, did it succeed?

SWEET. (_testily_) No, it didn't.

SHORT. You astonish me.

SWEET. I am ten times more unhappy than I was before. I made her cry,
and I can't bear it.

SHORT. Well, it is rather painful at first, but it will come easier by
and bye.

SWEET. I tell you, then, I feel I have been making a brute of myself,
all through your confounded advice.

SHORT. How, Sweet? What's that you say?

SWEET. Certainly! Haven't you been boasting about your happiness, and
your influence over your wife, ever since you have been down here?
What the devil was that to me? What was it to me whether she
contradicted you or not? _My_ wife _was_ in the habit of contradicting
me, and I was accustomed to it.

SHORT. Come--come!

SWEET. I shan't! I say you have destroyed all my domestic peace!
(_crossing to L._)

SHORT. You misunderstand me, Sweet. Is that the way to talk to a
friend?

SWEET. You are no friend of mine--you're an interfering meddling old
fellow. That has always been your great fault--interfering in what
doesn't concern you! (_sits, L._)

SHORT. Come, I say, that's a little too strong! Weren't you
everlastingly boring me with your complaints--how I did this, and how
I did t'other. Why I was always able to get my own way, when you
couldn't get yours. Well, then, since you're so ungrateful--since you
put me to it--I'll tell you why. Simply because your wife doesn't care
a straw for you!

SWEET. (_rises_) Short!

SHORT. No, not a button, depend upon it.

SWEET. It's false--she does. Give me your reason for saying so.

SHORT. What better proof of it can you have than the fact of you not
being happy with her? You see how happy I am with mine.

SWEET. Not happy with her! Do you mean seriously to insinuate that I
am not happy with her? Take care what you are doing, Short. Don't try
to disenchant my life with horrible suspicions, but even if it were
so, I shall never win her back to me by violence and quarrelling.
(_sits, L._)

SHORT. Of course not, I never think of quarrelling with my wife, and
as to violence, I hate it--on the contrary, I sometimes show her
little delicate attentions which women know well how to
appreciate--for instance, she is going to the Opera to-night--well,
what do I do? Why I send up to Covent Garden market, and buy her a
bouquet. Billington was going to buy some for himself, and I entrusted
him with the commission. (_SWEET rises and runs, C._) Where are you
going?

SWEET. To buy something for my wife.

SHORT. Buy something--what?

SWEET. I don't know--anything--half a dozen things--everything I can
find.

SHORT. Stay, stay!

SWEET. Don't hinder me! Let's see, have I any money--yes, all right!
I'll tell them to send in their whole stock for selection--the first
shop I come to.

SHORT. (_detaining him_) Sweet, don't be a fool--the first shop you
come to's a pork butcher's!

_Enter MARIA, L. C., with the book of the fashions._

SWEET. Well, what do you want?

MARIA. I beg your pardon, sir, I though my mistress was here.

SWEET. She's in Mrs. Short's room. What's that? (_pointing to the
book_)

MARIA. The fashion book, sir.

SWEET. A capital thought. Give it to me.

MARIA. My mistress told me most particularly, sir, not to give it to
any one but her.

SWEET. Never mind; I'll take it to her myself. (_MARIA gives the
book_) There, that will do. I'll see to it.

MARIA. Thank you, sir.

_Exit door, L. 2 E._

SWEET. I am glad I've got hold of this first; perhaps I shall be able
to find something she might take a fancy to. I know her taste. (_opens
the book_)

SHORT. (_aside_) He'll never get on with his wife; he has no tact--not
the slightest. (_observing SWEET_) Good gracious! Sweet, what's the
matter? don't you feel well?

SWEET. What's this?

SHORT. What is it? Why you see what it is; the book of the fashions.

SWEET. (L.) What can it mean?

SHORT. (_R.--looking into the book_) A note!

SWEET. Written in pencil! without address or signature!

SHORT. (_feeling for his spectacles_) Where are my spectacles?

SWEET. Why am I afraid to read it? Why do I tremble from head to foot?
I am in a cold perspiration! Short!

SHORT. Written in pencil.

SWEET. I have seen the hand somewhere.

SHORT. Whose do you think it is?

SWEET. It strikes me all at once! It's Billington's!

SHORT. Stop an instant, let me go and find my glasses.

SWEET. (_seizing hold of his arm_) Did you mark what the girl said,
that she was to be sure and give the book to nobody but my wife?

SHORT. Yes, I heard her say that.

SWEET. Let me read. (_reads_) "I waited for you all the morning." So
he did!

SHORT. Go on.

SWEET. (_reads_) "I am afraid to ask why you didn't come. It is now
five days since I have seen you; this is cruel, but I implore of you
to give me an interview to-morrow in the lane at the back of the house
at 2 o'clock if it be but for ten minutes. We shall meet this evening,
but I shall have no opportunity of being alone with you. You will not
refuse if you return the feelings that are consuming me."

(_they look at each other, then after a short pause, SWEET falls into
SHORT'S arms_)

SHORT. Take care, you'll have me down! Bear it like a man! There, take
this chair; try and recover yourself.

(_he supports him to a chair, R._)

SWEET. (_sinking into the chair_) Oh, Short!

SHORT. Never mind, my dear fellow, I'll stand by you. I'm your friend.

SWEET. Oh for some vent to my feelings!--something to tear! (_he
snatches SHORT'S handkerchief from his pocket and tears it_)

SHORT. What the devil are you doing? That's one of my best half-dozen
French cambric. (_gathering up the pieces and putting them into his
pocket_)

SWEET. (_starting up_) Short, are you a good pistol shot?

SHORT. (_staggered by the question_) A good pistol shot? no, I never
fired a pistol in my life.

SWEET. You'll revenge me if I fall? I expect it of you as my friend;
you said you'd stand by me.

SHORT. You don't mean to say you're going to challenge him?

SWEET. What, not after he has seduced my wife's affections?

SHORT. (_aside_) What a lucky thing Louisa never asked him to call.

SWEET. Fight him, yes! across a handkerchief, in my shirt sleeves,
with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other; you surely don't
mean that you would be likely to take any active steps to prevent the
meeting?

SHORT. Certainly not, if you don't wish it.

SWEET. What you wouldn't for instance, you think, be likely to go
before a magistrate, or anything of that sort?

SHORT. (_laying his hand upon his heart_) You may rely upon my
friendship for not interfering.

SWEET. (_aside_) He can't be in earnest. (_aloud_) Why you are as
bloodthirsty as I am--the traitress! that was why she was so anxious
to see him when he called; that was why she wanted to go the Opera
to-night. But let me seek for some further proof against
her--something to utterly confound her. (_he begins to read the letter
to himself_)

SHORT. (_also trying to read the letter over SWEET'S shoulder_) I
can't see a word without my glasses, what can I have done with them?
Wait a moment, they must be somewhere in the room. (_he goes to the
back of the stage to look for his glasses, and discovers to the
Audience that they are hanging at his back_)

SWEET. (_reading to himself in a low tone, while SHORT is searching
for his spectacles at the back_) Ah! "If you grant my request, carry
the bouquet of violets to-night, which I have taken measures for your
receiving from a safe hand, which can awaken no suspicion."
(_aloud--shouting_) The viper!

SHORT. (_giving up the search, and coming forward_) What have you
found? anything fresh?

SWEET. (_showing him the letter_) Look--read--judge for yourself?

SHORT. (_trying in vain to read the letter_) No, it's no use--confound
it, I can't make out a word.

SWEET. A signal! a signal, Short! think of that! They are actually
carry on a secret correspondence, by means of signals.

SHORT. What signals? Why the devil don't you read the letter?

SWEET. She shall _go_ to-night, _she shall go_, but I'll _watch_ her
like a lynx.

SHORT. Now be prudent; let me intreat of you to do nothing rashly.

SWEET. (_vehemently, putting back the letter into the book_) I'll give
it her with my own hand, and she how she takes it!

SHORT. (_restraining him_) No, no, no; let me beg of you. In your
present state of excitement it would be madness; let _me_ give it to
her, I shall be able to see more than you will, I am cooler--more
collected.

SWEET. Do you think so? Well, perhaps you are right. (_gives SHORT the
book_)

SHORT. Leave me to deal with her alone, Sweet; you are not fit to be
trusted just at present. Go and dress, go to your own room, and
endeavour to calm yourself.

SWEET. Calm myself? Ha, ha! I have a good mind to jump out of the
window! Don't leave me long, or I shall do myself a mischief--I'm in a
state of desperation. (_seizes a knife from the table--SHORT takes it
from him--exit through door, R._)

SHORT. Poor fellow, he's in a pitiable condition; but he has brought
it all upon himself, by over-indulging his wife to that absurd extent
that he has completely ruined his own domestic happiness. It might
have been just the same with me, if I had been fool enough to walk in
his footsteps. I wish I could make out the contents of this letter
though! Stay!

_Enter MRS. SWEET and MRS. SHORT, as he is about to open the book,
door, L. 1 E., in evening dress, both carrying bouquets._

MRS. SWEET. (_looking down at the dress she wears_) The dress looks as
well again so--I am delighted with the alteration.

SHORT. (_aside_) What tranquility in guilt--she's a cool hand!

MRS. SWEET. (_seeing SHORT_) What, not ready yet, Mr. Short? Won't you
be late? Where is my husband?

SHORT. (_with an absurd assumption of dignity_) He is dressing, madam.

MRS. SWEET. (_surprised at his manner_) Well, that is a very singular
manner of telling me so!

SHORT. I am not aware, madam, that there is anything more singular in
my manner than in another's. (_with ridiculous significance, after a
pause_) Allow me to give you this book.

MRS. SWEET. (_taking it quickly_) Oh, here it is at last--thank you!

SHORT. (_aside_) How she betrays herself!

MRS. SWEET. I am afraid, Mr. Short, something has put you out.

SHORT. Possibly something has, madam.

_Exit, door, R._

MRS. SWEET. (_looking after him_) What is the matter with your
husband, Louisa? He appears to be in the high ropes about something.

MRS. SHORT. (_anxiously_) I haven't the smallest idea--he seemed very
strange.

MRS. SWEET. He's an oddity! I could scarcely keep my countenance,
although I am by no means in a merry humour. The gentlemen are
bewitched, I think--_my_ good man in not in a _very_ amiable frame of
mind either. Ah, well, we must leave them alone, and they'll come
round at their leisure, I suppose.

MRS. SHORT. (_anxiously_) What can be the reason, I wonder?

MRS. SWEET. There, now, you're going to torment yourself about that.
Why don't you treat these things as I do? You are always in a state of
adoration of your husband--to his face, too. It is really very absurd
of you, and is quite spoiling him--besides, it is not only bad policy
as far are you are concerned, but it does me a positive injury also.
Here have I had a regular scene with William, and have been indulged
with some charming comparisons in your favour. (_she carelessly opens
the book, and looks at the pictures_) Oh, come, you have succeeded
most admirably with my dress. See--look here--(_comparing the dress
she has on with the one in the book_)--it is exactly as you have done
it.

MRS. SHORT. (_in an absent manner, scarcely looking at it_) Yes, I
see.

MRS. SWEET. (_picking up the note which has fallen out of the book_)
Why, here's a note. Louisa, you are dreaming--see, here's a note.

MRS. SHORT. (_quickly_) A note?

MRS. SWEET. Yes--fallen out of the book. Is it for us, do you think? I
seem to know the hand--to be sure, it is Mr. Billington's.

MRS. SHORT. (_glancing at the writing_) No, no--put it back again--put
it back again into the book.

MRS. SWEET. What for? What a hurry you're in!

MRS. SHORT. (_trying to get hold of the note, which MRS. SWEET holds
from her_) No, my dear Fanny, we have no right to read it; consider,
it may have been sent in mistake!

MRS. SWEET. There appears to be neither address nor signature. Oh,
it's some message about returning the book. (_reads_) "I waited for
you all the morning--I am afraid to ask why you didn't come--It is now
five days since I saw you--this is cruel; but I implore of you to give
me an interview to-morrow in the lane at the back of the house, at two
o'clock, if it be only for ten minutes. We shall meet this evening,
but I shall have no opportunity of being alone with you. You will not
refuse if you return the feelings that are consuming me."

MRS. SHORT. (_interrupting her in great confusion_) Fanny, how can
you! pray put it back again!

MRS. SWEET. (_continuing to read_) "If you grant my request carry the
bouquet of violets to-night, (_she stops and looks at MRS. SHORT'S
bouquet, then goes on_) which I have taken measures for your receiving
from a safe hand which can awaken no suspicion." An extraordinary
epistle! (_to MRS. SHORT, who is in great confusion, and hangs down
her head_) That bouquet!--those conscious blushes! Very pretty, upon
my honour! Louisa, what am I to think of all this?

MRS. SHORT. (_with energy, looking up_) Think of it: why think that I
have been persecuted with the attentions of a coxcomb! whom I have
never encouraged by word or look!

MRS. SWEET. _Persecuted!_ poor martyr!

MRS. SHORT. How could I for an instant imagine that he would presume
to take such a liberty.

MRS. SWEET. Come now, you had better make a clean breast of it--this
has been one of your quiet flirtations.

MRS. SHORT. Flirtations! If the man would persist in his attentions
how could I help it? You know I could not be absolutely rude to him.

MRS. SWEET. (_bantering her, and holding up the letter_) Is this one
of his _attentions?_

MRS. SHORT. No; the most extravagant height of consummate impudence;
and if I were not frightened out of my senses I should go into fits of
laughter.

MRS. SWEET. Come, come, _Mrs. Demure;_ I'll have no more of this--I
shall take the liberty of destroying this delectable note. (_tearing
it to pieces, and putting them into her pocket_)

MRS. SHORT. Don't scold me, for if I have been silly and a little
indiscreet--which mind I don't confess--I have been sufficiently
punished for it, for I haven't had a minute's peace of mind ever since
we have been down here, and, after all, is there no excuse for me--see
how I am treated!--he starts at the sound of a rat, runs away from the
bark of a dog, and couldn't be induced to mount a horse if his life
depended on it, but he is not afraid to coerce and bully a poor
defenceless wife. (_wiping away a tear_) I am sure if my husband would
only be a twentieth part as kind to me as dear Mr. Sweet is to you I
wouldn't give him a moment's vexation for the world.

MRS. SWEET. Nonsense, Loo, it isn't worth a tear, and you know I have
always told you it is all your own fault. You don't go the right way
to work with him. I tell you what it is, my dear, you are too amiable
by half, both at home and _abroad_; but don't alarm yourself, there is
no great harm done, if we can only keep the knowledge of all this
ridiculous nonsense from our husbands; but judging from Mr. Short's
delightful air just now I am not quite sure that that will be
altogether so easy, but mind, ma'am, no more _persecutions_, no more
flirting.

MRS. SHORT. Only help me out of the scrape like a good dear creature,
and if ever I expose myself to anything of the kind again, may I----

MRS. SWEET. (_aside, making a sign to signify that their husbands are
coming_) Don't be seen with that bouquet in your hand. Let us
exchange! Take mine! (_they exchange bouquets_)

MRS. SHORT. (_whispering_) How shall we find an excuse for not going?

MRS. SWEET. (_whispering_) Never mind that now. Don't be
frightened--keep close to me, and if I give you a hint, be sure to
take it.

_Enter SWEET and SHORT, through door, R., in evening dress._

SHORT. (_aside to SWEET_) Be careful now what you say.

SWEET. (_seeing the bouquet in his wife's hands_) There it is, under
my very nose!

SHORT. (_aside_) What?

SWEET. (_aside_) The bouquet!

SHORT. (_looking through his eye glass_) I can't make it out very well
at this distance, but there is nothing extraordinary in her having a
bouquet, so has my wife.

MRS. SWEET. (_affecting an air of gaiety_) Well, you see we are
dressed first.

SWEET. (_struggling to keep down his feelings_) So I perceive.

SHORT. So we perceive, ma'am.

MRS. SWEET. (_aside to MRS. SHORT_) My husband is in the secret, that
is quite clear. (_aloud to SWEET and SHORT_) You are such beaux, you
see, that you have kept us waiting.

SWEET. We must have been a very long time dressing, Short, or else
these ladies must be very impatient to set out.

SHORT. True, Sweet, your remark is obviously correct.

SWEET. (_looking at his wife_) Minutes seems hours when the mind is on
the stretch of expectation.

SHORT. (_aside to SWEET, pulling him by the skirts of his coat_) Ah!
that's all wrong! Take care!

SWEET. We shall be in plenty of time, ladies.

SHORT. (_aside_) That's better--keep to the plural number, it sounds
less particular.

SWEET. We shall not be the last to arrive, I dare say. (_rings the
bell_)

_Enter STEPHEN, L. C._

Is the coach at the door, Stephen?

STEPH. Yes, sir, I was just coming to tell you as you rung.

SWEET. (_aside_) I am suffocating!

MRS. SWEET. (_to SWEET_) My dear, do you still feel disinclined to go?

SWEET. (_shouting_) No; not at all! (_to STEPHEN_) Give me my hat!
(_STEPHEN takes up his hat from the sofa, which he keeps in his hand_)
Not at all! (_aside_) If Stephen, now, would but let my hat fall to
give me an excuse for going into a passion. (_aloud to STEPHEN_) What
are you doing with my hat, sir?

STEPH. Me, sir; nothing, sir.

SWEET. Ah! sir! do you dare to answer me, you scoundrel! Leave the
room, sir, or I'll kick you down stairs!

STEPH. (_aside, putting down the hat_) Master's mad--I wasn't doing
anything with the hat.

_Exit, C. L._

SWEET. Well, why don't we go?

MRS. SWEET. We none of us seem very well inclined to do that.

SWEET. Why not! I never felt more disposed to go out in my life! I am
in extacies at the thought of it: so is Short.

SHORT. (_lugubriously_) Very much so, indeed, Sweet.

SWEET. (_looking at his wife_) Short and I it is true are no great
hands at flirting with the ladies, but we can look on and see _others_
doing so!

SHORT. (_aside--pulling him by the sleeve_) Sweet! Sweet!

SWEET. (_disregarding SHORT, and looking hard at his wife_) Yes,
ma'am, I say we can look on and see _others_ doing so!

SHORT. (_aside_) He'll spoil all. It's impossible to restrain him!

MRS. SWEET. (_aside to her husband, and covertly pointing to SHORT_)
Don't for goodness' sake make matters worse!

SWEET. Make matters worse! Short, ma'am, is in my confidence!

MRS. SWEET. (_aside--perplexed_) I am lost--I can't make it out.

MRS. SHORT. (_aside_) What does he mean?

SWEET. (_to his wife_) It was on _my_ account, doubtless, that you
were so particular about you dress--to please _me!_

MRS. SWEET. Well, yes--don't you like it!

SWEET. And this bouquet: that, too, was to please me, I suppose!

SHORT. (_aside to MRS. SHORT, after crossing behind to L. of her_)
What did you give her my bouquet for?

SWEET. This bouquet! that you have been feasting your eyes on ever
since I have been in the room: that you haven't had a minute out of
your hand! Give it to me! (_snatching it out of her hand_) See how _I_
prize it too! (_he raises his arm, and is about to dash it violently
to the ground_)

SHORT. (_crossing to SWEET, and seizing hold of his arm_) Stop--stop,
I say! What are you about? Don't destroy my wife's bouquet!

SWEET. (_after a pause of amazement_) What's that? _Your_--_your_
wife's bouquet? Do you mean to say that this--this bouquet belongs to
Mrs. Short?

SHORT. To be sure I do? Didn't I bring it all the way from the City on
purpose to make her a present of it?

SWEET. (_aside_) Weugh! (_embraces his wife_) Laugh at me again,
Fanny! Ha, ha, ha! Scold me--snub me--turn me into ridicule. I'll
never contradict you again as long as I live!

MRS. SWEET. (_aside--jogging her husband, and covertly pointing to
SHORT_) Hush--hush! (_to herself_) A light breaks in upon me! (_to
MRS. SHORT_) You are safe--there's some mistake.

SHORT. (_aside--looking towards SWEET_) What's the matter with the
man--has he taken leave of his senses?

SWEET. (_significantly, to MRS. SHORT_) Let me restore this bouquet to
the rightful owner.

MRS. SHORT. (_aside, to MRS. SWEET, taking the bouquet in confusion_)
What am I to say?

MRS. SWEET. (_aside, to MRS. SHORT_) Nothing! Now, _mind!_ (_aloud_)
Louisa, dear? What is it?--she'll faint. Here, Mr. Short, come and
help her. Here, smell these salts! There--there! (_fanning her--MRS.
SHORT sinks fainting into a chair, L._)

MRS. SHORT. (_while MRS. SWEET is fanning her_) Oh, dear--oh!
something has come over me so suddenly--I am afraid I shan't be able
to go to-night.

SHORT. Nonsense, my dear--it will soon pass off.

MRS. SWEET. Go, indeed! Impossible! She is more fit for her bed than
the Opera. (_aside, to MRS. SHORT_) Now, no yielding.

MRS. SHORT. No--I feel it would be quite out of the question.

SHORT. (_authoritatively_) Why, what is the meaning of all this? You
were well enough just now. (_aside, in a threatening tone_) Are you
going to take a leaf out of Mrs. Sweet's book?

MRS. SHORT. (_aloud in a totally changed manner_) My dear?

MRS. SWEET. As Louisa seems so unwell, Willie, and as Mr. Short, of
course, can't possibly leave his wife, suppose we send an excuse--I
know you don't care about going.

SWEET. Just as you please, my dear, whatever you like, I am agreeable
to anything. Come now, I tell you what I propose. (_looks
significantly at MRS. SHORT_) As the place _doesn't appear to agree
with Mrs. Short_, and as I think we have had enough of the Crystal
Palace, I'll stand treat for a month at the sea-side--change of air
will do us all good. What do you say?

SHORT. (_significantly to SWEET_) Yes the sooner we leave the better
(_aside_) for _you._ (_significantly to MRS. SWEET_) What do _you_
say, Mrs. Sweet?

MRS. SWEET. (_pretends to be confused, turns away her head and
smiles--aside_) Amusing!

SWEET. (_significantly to MRS. SHORT_) What do _you_ say, Mrs. Short?

MRS. SHORT. (_forces a laugh, turns away her head and frowns--aside_)
Provoking!

SHORT. (_aside, looking contemptuously at SWEET_) The idea of his
putting up with the affront in this sort of way--Poor Sweet!

SWEET. (_aside, to the Audience_) Capital joke, isn't it? Poor Short!
Do him all the good in the world when he finds it out, won't it?

MRS. SWEET. (_advancing and addressing the Audience with her finger to
her lips_) But keep the secret--don't laugh till the curtain's down.
And if it should so happen--you won't be offended--that there is
anything at all like this going on at home, depend upon it, you might
have done worse than coming to see----

SHORT. Short----

SWEET.          And Sweet.

Curtain.

-----

Printed by Thomas Scott, 1, Warwick Court, Holborn.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on a microcopy made available by
University of California, Davis. Because of the quality of the
microcopy, the transcription was checked against a copy owned by
Fordham University, a digitized version of which is posted by the
Internet Archive at:

https://archive.org/details/TroughtonShortSweet

In general, this transcription attempts to retain the formatting,
punctuation and spelling of the source text. Thus, variant spellings
such as "lieve," "doat," "one'self," and "extacies" as well as words
and spellings intended for comic effect such as "horrorble" and
"tremengeous" have been retained. The following changes were made to
the text:

-- p. 2: In the costume note, "MRS. SHORT--Ditto" was changed to "Mrs.
SHORT--Ditto" for consistency.

-- p. 6: Come, we havn't a minute to spare--Changed "havn't" to
"haven't" for consistency.

-- p. 11: Another (_she pours out another--aside_)--Added a period
after "Another".

-- p. 16: what we make them, at least in marriage, Louisa was
not--Changed the comma after "marriage" to a period.

-- p. 26: the bouquet of violets to-night. (_she stops and looks
at_--Changed the period after "to-night" to a comma.

-- p. 30: that there is anythihg at all like this going on at
home--Changed "anythihg" to "anything".





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