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Title: Comediettas and Farces
Author: Morton, John Maddison
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Archive and the Library of Congress.



COMEDIETTAS AND FARCES

BY

JOHN MADDISON MORTON


NEW YORK

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS

1886



PREFACE.

I HAVE been asked to write a few words of Preface to this little book
of Plays. I may state that two are original; for the remainder (being
too old an offender in this respect to do otherwise), I thankfully
admit my indebtedness to French material, claiming, however, for
myself, considerable alterations in plot, situations, etc., and
complete originality of dialogue.

I beg to call the attention of Amateurs to these pieces--they having
been written by me with a special view to Private performance.

     JOHN MADDISON MORTON



CONTENTS.

                                    PAGE

BOX AND COX                           11

FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED              35

PEPPERPOT'S LITTLE PETS               61

AFTER A STORM COMES A CALM            85

EXPRESS!                             106

TAKEN FROM THE FRENCH                125

DECLINED--WITH THANKS                147



JOHN MADDISON MORTON.

THE present generation is familiar enough with "Box and Cox," that
best and brightest of good old English farces, and hundreds of other
plays of the same kind, that were written years ago by one of the
driest of humorists and most genial of gentlemen; but few young
play-goers, I take it, are aware how much the stage owes to John
Maddison Morton. Of the form and features of one of the most prolific
writers for the stage, I believe many of my own contemporaries to be
absolutely ignorant. They know little of his antecedents or history,
and yet they, and their fathers before them, have laughed right
merrily over the quips and cranks, the quaint turns of expression, the
odd freaks of humor that distinguished a writer of fun belonging to
the old school. No one has ever filled the place left vacant by John
Maddison Morton. Managers for many years past have assumed that the
public does not want farces, and are content to tolerate badly-acted
rubbish before the play of the evening begins. But a strong reaction
is setting in. The pit and gallery are not content any longer to
remain open-mouthed while the scenes of the play of the evening are
being set, or to be deluded into applauding the silly stuff that is
nowadays served up as farce, and in which the principal actors and
actresses do not condescend to appear. Why, when I first began to
consider myself a regular play-goer, some five-and-twenty years ago,
when I struggled with the young men of my time into the pit, I could
see, quite irrespective of the play of the evening, Webster at the
Adelphi in "One Touch of Nature," say at seven o'clock in the evening;
Toole and Paul Bedford and Selby and Billington and Bob Romer, always
in some favorite farce that began or ended the evening's amusement, at
the Haymarket; Buckstone, old Rogers, and Chippendale in such plays as
"The Rough Diamond," at the Haymarket, with an after-farce for
Compton, Howe, and Walter Gordon; and at the Strand such excellent
little plays as "Short and Sweet" or the "Fair Encounter," in which we
were sure to find Jemmy Rogers and Johnnie Clarke, and most probably
Belford, Marie Wilton, Fanny Josephs, and Miss Swanborough. In those
days artists were not above their business, which was, and ever should
be, to amuse the public; they were not taken up and patronized by
society; they did not lecture their audiences, but were modest,
hard-working, and unassuming. There were no young fops in the ranks of
the dramatic profession with extravagant salaries and diminutive
talent, and the young ladies who adopted the profession had to work,
and work hard, in order to obtain a name. Farces were then well acted,
for the simple reason that the best members of the company played in
them. It was worth paying for the pit at half or full price when
Robson was set down for "Retained for the Defence" or "Boots at the
Swan," and when Leigh Murray, most accomplished of comedians, appeared
in "His First Champagne."

John Maddison Morton was born on January 3, 1811, at the lovely
Thames-side village of Pangborne, above Reading. His father was the
famous dramatist Thomas Morton, author of "Speed the Plough," "Town
and Country," "The Way to get Married," "Secrets worth Knowing," "Cure
for the Heartache," "School of Reform," etc. The elder Morton resided
at Pangborne for thirty-five years, and only removed to London in
1828. It must have been on the lovely reaches, back-waters, and weirs
of the lovely Thames that the future author of "Box and Cox" acquired
such a love of angling, and became so enthusiastic and excellent a
fisherman. A few years ago I was in the habit of meeting Maddison
Morton at the hospitable table of my old friend Robert Reece. They
were both members of the old Dramatic Authors' Society, and on
committee days Reece would bring the jovial dramatist home to dinner,
when, over a glass of old port-wine, and with frequent intervals of
snuff-taking, he would delight us with stories of actors, and many
adventures with the rod and line. In fact, he told us that he devoted
the best part of his after-life to two principal objects, "Fishing and
Farce-writing."

But to return to his younger days. He was educated in Paris and
Germany from 1817 to 1820. After that he went to school at Islington
for a short time, and from 1820 to 1827 we find the future dramatist
at Dr. Richardson's celebrated seminary at Clapham. Under the roof of
the famous author of the English dictionary he found, and soon took
for companions, Julian Young, Charles James Mathews, John Kemble,
Henry Kemble, John Liston, Dick Tattersall, young Terry, son of Terry
the actor, whose widow subsequently married the lexicographer, Dr.
Richardson. In 1832 Maddison Morton was appointed to a clerkship in
Chelsea Hospital by Lord John Russell, but he did not appear to relish
the desk any more than his subsequent friends, W. S. Gilbert and
Robert Reece. He did not wait patiently for a pension, like Tom
Taylor, Anthony Trollope, etc., but got sick of government office-work
in 1840, when he resigned his situation.

It was in April, 1835, that Maddison Morton produced his first farce
at the little theatre in Tottenham Street destined afterwards to
flourish as the Prince of Wales Theatre, and to be the nursery of
Robertsonian comedy. The farce was called "My First Fit of the Gout,"
and the principal parts were played by Wrench, Morris Barrett, and
Mrs. Nisbett. As I have said before, Maddison Morton lived in the
happy days when farces were popular, when programmes were ample, and
when actors were not ashamed of their work. Among the cultivated
artists who have played in Maddison Morton's farces are the elder
Farren, Liston, Keeley, Buckstone, Wright, Compton, Harley, Robson,
Mrs. Glover, Mrs. Stirling, Charles Mathews, and many more of our own
day, such as Toole, Howe, etc.

I once asked Maddison Morton some particulars concerning his
subsequent career as a dramatist, when he observed, quaintly enough,
"My dear boy, it would never do for me to blow my own trumpet. In the
first place, I haven't got one, and I am sure I could not blow it if I
had." It is sometimes brought as a charge against Maddison Morton that
his plays are taken from the French, and as such are devoid of
original merit. But how little such as these understand Maddison
Morton or his incomparable style. He may have borrowed his plots from
France, but what trace of French writing is to be found in the
immortal "Box and Cox," or "Woodcock's Little Game?" "Box and Cox" is
taken from two French farces, one called "Frisette," and the other
"Une Chambre à Deux Lits," but the writing of the farce as much
belongs to the man, and is as distinctly original and personal to him
as anything ever said or written by Henry James Byron. For my own poor
part, I consider that Maddison Morton is funnier than any writer for
the stage in his day. It is the kind of dry, sententious humor that
tickles one far more than the extravagances, the puns, and the
strained tomfooleries of the modern writer of burlesque--the very
burlesque that Maddison Morton considers was the death-blow to the
old-fashioned English farce. Players may yet find it profitable to
revive the taste for short farces, and they need not hesitate to do so
because several excellent and funny plays by the author of "Box and
Cox" remain unused. Benjamin Webster told Maddison Morton, not long
before his death, that he had made more money by farces than by any
other description of drama. This is not difficult to account for. The
author was certainly not overpaid; the farces were evidently well
acted; it cost next to nothing to produce them, and if successful, the
world and his wife went to see them.

Writing to a friend the other day, Maddison Morton observes: "The
introduction of 'Burlesque' gave the first 'knock-down blow' to the
old-fashioned farce. I hoped against hope that its popularity would
return, and that some employment might still be found for my pen. I
was disappointed; and as the only means of discharging liabilities
which I had in the mean time unavoidably contracted, I was compelled
to part with my copyrights, the accumulation of a life's laborious and
not unsuccessful work."

It is interesting to note that Maddison Morton's "Box and Cox" was the
pioneer of the movement that resulted in the literary and musical
partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan. If it had not been for Burnand's
"Cox and Box," in all probability the "Sorcerer" and the rest of the
operas would never have been written. And happily the reign of
Maddison Morton is not yet over. On Monday, December 7, 1885, was
produced at Toole's Theatre a three-act farce called "Going It," that
kept the house in a continual roar of laughter. It is in the old vein,
bright, witty, and bristling with verbal quip. When the farce was over
the call for "author" was raised, but no one imagined that it would be
responded to. To the surprise of all, Mr. Toole led on an elderly
gentleman of the old school, prim, neat, well set up, and rosy-cheeked
as a winter apple. This was Maddison Morton. At last the young
play-goer had seen the author of "Box and Cox."

In the year 1881, on the nomination of her Majesty, this great and
accomplished gentleman, who never mixed in Bohemian or literary
society, was appointed a "poor brother of the Charter House." Who that
has read Thackeray is not familiar with the fine old hospital of
"Greyfriars," and its pleasant old "codds," under whose shadow and in
whose society Colonel Newcome breathed his last, and said "Adsum."
Here in this pleasant retreat, quiet and retired although in the heart
of the busiest part of the city, Maddison Morton met another
"brother," John A. Heraud, a dramatist and dramatic critic who had
often sat in judgment on Morton's plays. What chats about old times
they must have within those venerable walls that circle round the
poet-dramatist and the dramatic farce-writer. "Here," writes Maddison
Morton, in his well-known cheerful and contented frame of mind, "I
shall doubtless spend the short time I may have to live, and then be
laid in the quiet little church-yard at Bow--not, I hope, entirely
'unwept, unhonored, nor unsung.'"

Good, kindly, gentle heart thus to speak with such fervor and such
faith in the long evening of your days! Shut up in your cloistered
home, the hearts of those who had the honor and pleasure of knowing
you often go out to you! And on the stage the laughter evoked by your
fanciful wit, and the true humor that sprung from your merry heart,
will soothe you and delight many more who honor your excellent name.

     CLEMENT SCOTT.



BOX AND COX.

_In One Act._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

JOHN BOX, _a Journeyman Printer._

JAMES COX, _a Journeyman Hatter._

MRS. BOUNCER.


COSTUMES.

BOX.--Small swallow-tailed black coat, short buff waistcoat, light drab
trousers, short, turned up at bottom, black stockings, white canvas
boots with black tips, cotton neck-cloth, shabby black hat.

COX.--Brown Newmarket coat, long white waistcoat, dark plaid trousers,
boots, white hat, black stock.

MRS. BOUNCER.--Colored cotton gown, apron, cap, etc.

EXITS AND ENTRANCES.--R. means _Right;_ L., _Left;_ R. D., _Right
Door;_ L. D., _Left Door;_ S. E., _Second Entrance;_ U. E., _Upper
Entrance;_ M. D., _Middle Door;_ F., _the Flat;_ D. F., _Door in
Flat._

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


SCENE.--_A room decently furnished. At C. a bed, with curtains closed;
at L. C. a door; at L. 3d E. a door; at L. S. E. a chest of drawers;
at back, R., a window; at R. 3d E. a door; at R. S. E. a fireplace,
with mantle-piece, table, and chairs, and a few common ornaments on
chimney-piece. COX, dressed, with the exception of his coat, is
looking at himself in a small looking-glass, which is in his hand._

COX. I've half a mind to register an oath that I'll never have my hair
cut again! (_His hair is very short._) I look as if I had just been
cropped for the militia. And I was particularly emphatic in my
instructions to the hair-dresser only to cut the ends off. He must
have thought I meant the other ends! Never mind--I sha'n't meet anybody
to care about so early. Eight o'clock, I declare! I haven't a moment
to lose. Fate has placed me with the most punctual, particular, and
peremptory of hatters, and I must fulfil my destiny. (_Knock at
L. D._) Open locks, whoever knocks!

     _Enter MRS. BOUNCER, L._

MRS. B. Good-morning, Mr. Cox. I hope you slept comfortably, Mr. Cox?

COX. I can't say I did, Mrs. B. I should feel obliged to you if you
could accommodate me with a more protuberant bolster, Mrs. B. The one
I've got now seems to me to have about a handful and a half of
feathers at each end, and nothing whatever in the middle.

MRS. B. Anything to accommodate you, Mr. Cox.

COX. Thank you. Then perhaps you'll be good enough to hold this glass
while I finish my toilet?

MRS. B. Certainly (_holding glass before COX, who ties his cravat_).
Why, I do declare, you've had your hair cut.

COX. Cut! It strikes me I've had it mowed! It's very kind of you to
mention it, but I'm sufficiently conscious of the absurdity of my
personal appearance already. (_Puts on his coat._) Now for my hat.
(_Puts on his hat, which comes over his eyes._) That's the effect of
having one's hair cut. This hat fitted me quite tight before. Luckily
I've got two or three more. (_Goes in at L., and returns with three
hats of different shapes, and puts them on, one after the other--all
of which are too big for him._) This is pleasant! Never mind. This one
appears to me to wabble about rather less than the others. (_Puts on
hat._) And now I'm off! By-the-bye, Mrs. Bouncer, I wish to call your
attention to a fact that has been evident to me for some time
past--and that is, that my coals go remarkably fast--

MRS. B. Lor, Mr. Cox!

COX. It is not the case only with the coals, Mrs. Bouncer, but I've
lately observed a gradual and steady increase of evaporation among my
candles, wood, sugar, and lucifer-matches.

MRS. B. Lor, Mr. Cox! you surely don't suspect me?

COX. I don't say I do, Mrs. B.; only I wish you distinctly to
understand that I don't believe it's the cat.

MRS. B. Is there anything else you've got to grumble about, sir?

COX. Grumble! Mrs. Bouncer, do you possess such a thing as a
dictionary?

MRS. B. No, sir.

COX. Then I'll lend you one; and if you turn to the letter G, you'll
find "Grumble, verb neuter--to complain without a cause." Now, that's
not my case, Mrs. B.; and now that we are upon the subject, I wish to
know how it is that I frequently find my apartment full of smoke?

MRS. B. Why--I suppose the chimney--

COX. The chimney doesn't smoke tobacco. I'm speaking of tobacco-smoke,
Mrs. B. I hope, Mrs. Bouncer, _you're_ not guilty of cheroots or Cubas?

MRS. B. Not I, indeed, Mr. Cox.

COX. Nor partial to a pipe?

MRS. B. No, sir.

COX. Then, how is it that--

MRS. B. Why--I suppose--yes--that must be it--

COX. At present I am entirely of your opinion--because I haven't the
most distant particle of an idea what you mean.

MRS. B. Why, the gentleman who has got the attics is hardly ever
without a pipe in his mouth--and there he sits, with his feet upon the
mantle-piece--

COX. The mantle-piece! That strikes me as being a considerable
stretch, either of your imagination, Mrs. B., or the gentleman's legs.
I presume you mean the fender or the hob.

MRS. B. Sometimes one, sometimes t'other. Well, there he sits for
hours, and puffs away into the fireplace.

COX. Ah, then you mean to say that this gentleman's smoke, instead of
emulating the example of all other sorts of smoke, and going _up_ the
chimney, thinks proper to effect a singularity by taking the contrary
direction?

MRS. B. Why--

COX. Then, I suppose, the gentleman you are speaking of is the same
individual that I invariably meet coming up-stairs when I'm going
down, and going down-stairs when I'm coming up!

MRS. B. Why--yes--I--

COX. From the appearance of his outward man, I should unhesitatingly
set him down as a gentleman connected with the printing interest.

MRS. B. Yes, sir--and a very respectable young gentleman he is.

COX. Well, good-morning, Mrs. Bouncer.

MRS. B. You'll be back at your usual time, I suppose, sir?

COX. Yes--nine o'clock. You needn't light my fire in future, Mrs. B.,
I'll do it myself. Don't forget the bolster! (_Going, stops._) A
halfpenny worth of milk, Mrs. Bouncer; and be good enough to let it
stand--I wish the cream to accumulate.

     [_Exit at L. C._

MRS. B. He's gone at last! I declare I was all in a tremble for fear
Mr. Box would come in before Mr. Cox went out. Luckily, they've never
met yet; and what's more, they're not very likely to do so; for Mr.
Box is hard at work at a newspaper office all night, and doesn't come
home till the morning, and Mr. Cox is busy making hats all day long,
and doesn't come home till night; so that I'm getting double rent for
my room, and neither of my lodgers is any the wiser for it. It was a
capital idea of mine--that it was! But I haven't an instant to lose.
First of all, let me put Mr. Cox's things out of Mr. Box's way. (_She
takes the three hats, COX'S dressing-gown and slippers, opens door at
L. and puts them in, then shuts door and locks it._) Now, then, to put
the key where Mr. Cox always finds it. (_Puts the key on the ledge of
the door, L._) I really must beg Mr. Box not to smoke so much. I was
so dreadfully puzzled to know what to say when Mr. Cox spoke about it.
Now, then, to make the bed; and don't let me forget that what's the
head of the bed for Mr. Cox becomes the foot of the bed for Mr.
Box--people's tastes do differ so. (_Goes behind the curtains of the
bed, and seems to be making it; then appears with a very thin bolster
in her hand._) The idea of Mr. Cox presuming to complain of such a
bolster as this! (_She disappears again behind curtains._)

BOX (_without_). Pooh--pooh! Why don't you keep your own side of the
staircase, sir? (_Enters at back, dressed as a printer. Puts his head
out at door again, shouting._) It was as much your fault as mine, sir!
I say, sir--it was as much your fault as mine, sir!

MRS. B. (_emerging from behind the curtains of bed_). Lor, Mr. Box!
what is the matter?

BOX. Mind your own business, Bouncer!

MRS. B. Dear, dear, Mr. Box! what a temper you are in, to be sure! I
declare you're quite pale in the face!

BOX. What color would you have a man be who has been setting up long
leaders for a daily paper all night?

MRS. B. But, then, you've all the day to yourself.

BOX (_looking significantly at MRS. BOUNCER_). So it seems! Far be it
from me, Bouncer, to hurry your movements, but I think it right to
acquaint you with my immediate intention of divesting myself of my
garments, and going to bed.

MRS. B. Oh, Mr. Box! (_going_).

BOX. Stop! Can you inform me who the individual is that I invariably
encounter going down-stairs when I'm coming up, and coming up-stairs
when I'm going down?

MRS. B. (_confused_). Oh--yes--the gentleman in the attic, sir.

BOX. Oh! There's nothing particularly remarkable about him, except his
hats. I meet him in all sorts of hats--white hats and black hats--hats
with broad brims and hats with narrow brims--hats with naps and hats
without naps--in short, I have come to the conclusion that he must be
individually and professionally associated with the hatting interest.

MRS. B. Yes, sir. And, by-the-bye, Mr. Box, he begged me to request of
you, as a particular favor, that you would not smoke quite so much.

BOX. Did he? Then you may tell the gentle hatter, with my compliments,
that if he objects to the effluvia of tobacco, he had better
domesticate himself in some adjoining parish.

MRS. B. Oh, Mr. Box! you surely wouldn't deprive me of a lodger?
(_pathetically_).

BOX. It would come to precisely the same thing, Bouncer; because if I
detect the slightest attempt to put my pipe out, I at once give you
warning that I shall give you warning at once.

MRS. B. Well, Mr. Box--do you want anything more of me?

BOX. On the contrary--I've had quite enough of you!

MRS. B. Well, if ever! What next, I wonder?

     [_Goes out at L. C., slamming door after her._

BOX. It's quite extraordinary, the trouble I always have to get rid of
that venerable female! She knows I'm up all night, and yet she seems
to set her face against my indulging in a horizontal position by day.
Now, let me see--shall I take my nap before I swallow my breakfast, or
shall I take my breakfast before I swallow my nap--I mean, shall I
swallow my nap before-- No; never mind! I've got a rasher of bacon
somewhere (_feeling in his pockets_). I've the most distinct and vivid
recollection of having purchased a rasher of bacon-- Oh, here it is
(_produces it, wrapped in paper, and places it on table_); and a penny
roll. The next thing is to light the fire. Where are my lucifers?
(_Looking on mantle-piece, R., and taking box, opens it._) Now, 'pon
my life, this is too bad of Bouncer--this is, by several degrees, too
bad! I had a whole boxful three days ago, and now there's only one!
I'm perfectly aware that she purloins my coals and my candles and my
sugar, but I did think--oh, yes, I did think that my lucifers would be
sacred! (_Takes candlestick off the mantle-piece, R., in which there
is a very small end of candle; looks at it._) Now I should like to ask
any unprejudiced person or persons their opinion touching this candle.
In the first place, a candle is an article that I don't require,
because I'm only at home in the day-time; and I bought this candle on
the first of May--Chimney-sweepers' Day--calculating that it would
last me three months, and here's one week not half over, and the
candle three parts gone! (_Lights the fire; then takes down a gridiron
which is hanging over the fireplace, R._) Mrs. Bouncer has been using
my gridiron! The last article of consumption that I cooked upon it was
a pork-chop, and now it is powerfully impregnated with the odor of red
herrings! (_Places gridiron on fire, and then with fork lays rasher of
bacon on the gridiron._) How sleepy I am, to be sure! I'd indulge
myself with a nap, if there was anybody here to superintend the
turning of my bacon. (_Yawning again._) Perhaps it will turn itself. I
must lie down--so, here goes. (_Lies on the bed, closing the curtains
round him. After a short pause--_

     _Enter COX, hurriedly, L. C._

COX. Well, wonders will never cease! Conscious of being eleven minutes
and a half behind time, I was sneaking into the shop, in a state of
considerable excitement, when my venerable employer, with a smile of
extreme benevolence on his aged countenance, said to me, "Cox, I
sha'n't want you to-day; you can have a holiday." Thoughts of
"Gravesend and back--fare, One Shilling," instantly suggested
themselves, intermingled with visions of "Greenwich for Fourpence!"
Then came the Twopenny Omnibuses, and the Halfpenny boats--in short,
I'm quite bewildered! However, I must have my breakfast first--that'll
give me time to reflect. I've bought a mutton-chop, so I sha'n't want
any dinner. (_Puts chop on table._) Good gracious! I've forgot the
bread. Holloa! what's this? A roll, I declare! Come, that's lucky!
Now, then, to light the fire. Holloa! (_seeing the lucifer-box on
table_) who presumes to touch my box of lucifers? Why, it's empty! I
left one in it--I'll take my oath I did. Heyday! Why, the fire _is_
lighted! Where's the gridiron? On the fire, I declare! And what's that
on it? Bacon? Bacon it is! Well, now, 'pon my life, there's a quiet
coolness about Mrs. Bouncer's proceedings that's almost amusing. She
takes my last lucifer--my coals and my gridiron to cook her breakfast
by! No, no--I can't stand this! Come out of that! (_Pokes fork into
bacon, and puts it on a plate on the table; then places his chop on
the gridiron, which he puts on the fire._) Now, then, for my
breakfast-things. (_Taking key, hung up, L., opens door L. and goes
out slamming the door after him with a loud noise._)

BOX (_suddenly showing his head from behind the curtains_). Come in!
if it's you, Mrs. Bouncer--you needn't be afraid. I wonder how long
I've been asleep? (_Suddenly recollecting._) Goodness gracious--my
bacon! (_Leaps off bed and runs to the fireplace._) Holloa! what's
this? A chop! Whose chop? Mrs. Bouncer's, I'll be bound. She thought
to cook her breakfast while I was asleep--with my coals, too--and my
gridiron! Ha, ha! But where's my bacon? (_Seeing it on table._) Here
it is. Well, 'pon my life. Bouncer's going it! And shall I curb my
indignation? shall I falter in my vengeance? No! (_Digs the fork into
the chop, opens window, and throws chop out; shuts window again._) So
much for Bouncer's breakfast; and now for my own! (_With the fork he
puts the bacon on the gridiron again._) I may as well lay my
breakfast-things. (_Goes to mantle-piece at R., takes key out of one
of the ornaments, opens door at R. and exit, slamming door after
him._)

COX (_putting his head in quickly at L._). Come in--come in! (_Opens
door, L. C. Enters with a small tray, on which are tea-things, etc.,
which he places on drawers, L., and suddenly recollects._) Oh,
goodness! my chop! (_running to fireplace_). Holloa--what's that? The
bacon again! Oh, pooh! Zounds--confound it--dash it--damn it--I can't
stand this! (_Pokes fork into bacon, opens window and flings it out;
shuts window again, returns to drawers for tea-things, and encounters
BOX coming from his cupboard with his tea-things. They walk down C. of
stage together._) Who are you, sir?

BOX. If you come to that--who are _you?_

COX. What do you want here, sir?

BOX. If you come to that--what do _you_ want?

COX (_aside_). It's the printer! (_Puts tea-things on the drawers._)

BOX (_aside_). It's the hatter! (_Puts tea-things on table._)

COX. Go to your attic, sir--

BOX. _My_ attic, sir? _Your_ attic, sir!

COX. Printer, I shall do you a frightful injury if you don't instantly
leave my apartment.

BOX. _Your_ apartment? You mean _my_ apartment, you contemptible
hatter, you!

COX. _Your_ apartment? Ha! ha!--come, I like that! Look here, sir.
(_Produces a paper out of his pocket._) Mrs. Bouncer's receipt for the
last week's rent, sir--

BOX (_produces a paper, and holds it close to COX'S face_). Ditto,
sir!

COX (_suddenly shouting_). Thieves!

BOX. Murder!

BOTH. Mrs. Bouncer! (_Each runs to door, L. C., calling._)

     _MRS. BOUNCER runs in at door, L. C._

MRS. B. What is the matter? (_COX and BOX seize MRS. BOUNCER by the
arm and drag her forward._)

BOX. Instantly remove that hatter!

COX. Immediately turn out that printer!

MRS. B. Well, but, gentlemen--

COX. Explain! (_Pulling her round to him._)

BOX. Explain! (_Pulling her round to him._) Whose room is this?

COX. Yes, woman--whose room is this?

BOX. Doesn't it belong to me?

MRS. B. No!

COX. There! You hear, sir--it belongs to me!

MRS. B. No--it belongs to both of you! (_sobbing_).

COX _and_ BOX. Both of us?

MRS. B. Oh, dear gentlemen, don't be angry--but, you see, this
gentleman (_pointing to BOX_) only being at home in the daytime, and
that gentleman (_pointing to COX_) at night, I thought I might
venture, until my little back second-floor room was ready--

BOX _and_ COX (_eagerly_). When will your little back second-floor
room be ready?

MRS. B. Why, to-morrow--

COX. I'll take it!

BOX. So will I!

MRS. B. Excuse me--but if you both take it, you may just as well stop
where you are.

COX _and_ BOX. True.

COX. I spoke first, sir--

BOX. With all my heart, sir. The little back second-floor room is
yours, sir--now, go--

COX. Go? Pooh--pooh!

MRS. B. Now don't quarrel, gentlemen. You see, there used to be a
partition here--

COX _and_ BOX. Then put it up!

MRS. B. Nay, I'll see if I can't get the other room ready this very
day. Now _do_ keep your tempers.

     [_Exit L._

COX. What a disgusting position! (_walking rapidly round stage_).

BOX (_sitting down on chair at one side of table, and following COX'S
movements_). Will you allow me to observe, if you have not had any
exercise to-day, you'd better go out and take it.

COX. I shall not do anything of the sort, sir (_seating himself at the
table opposite BOX_).

BOX. Very well, sir.

COX. Very well, sir! However, don't let me prevent _you_ from going
out.

BOX. Don't flatter yourself, sir. (_COX is about to break a piece of
the roll off._) Holloa! that's my roll, sir. (_Snatches it away, puts
a pipe in his mouth, lights it with a piece of tinder, and puffs smoke
across to COX._)

COX. Holloa! What are you about, sir?

BOX. What am I about? I'm about to smoke.

COX. Wheugh! (_Goes and opens window at BOX'S back._)

BOX. Holloa! (_Turns round._) Put down that window, sir!

COX. Then put your pipe out, sir!

BOX. There! (_Puts pipe on table._)

COX. There! (_Slams down window and reseats himself._)

BOX. I shall retire to my pillow. (_Goes up, takes off his jacket,
then goes towards bed, and sits down upon it, L. C._)

COX (_jumps up, goes to bed, and sits down on R. of BOX_). I beg your
pardon, sir--I cannot allow any one to rumple my bed. (_Both rising._)

BOX. Your bed? Hark ye, sir--can you fight?

COX. No, sir.

BOX. No? Then come on (_sparring at COX_).

COX. Sit down, sir, or I'll instantly vociferate "Police!"

BOX (_seats himself. COX does the same_). I say, sir--

COX. Well, sir?

BOX. Although we are doomed to occupy the same room for a few hours
longer, I don't see any necessity for our cutting each other's
throats, sir.

COX. Not at all. It's an operation that I should decidedly object to.

BOX. And, after all, I've no violent animosity to you, sir.

COX. Nor have I any rooted antipathy to you, sir.

BOX. Besides, it was all Mrs. Bouncer's fault, sir.

COX. Entirely, sir (_gradually approaching chairs_).

BOX. Very well, sir!

COX. Very well, sir! (_Pause._)

BOX. Take a bit of roll, sir?

COX. Thank ye, sir (_breaking a bit off. Pause_).

BOX. Do you sing, sir?

COX. I sometimes join in a chorus.

BOX. Then give us a chorus. (_Pause._) Have you seen the Bosjemans,
sir?

COX. No, sir--my wife wouldn't let me.

BOX. Your _wife!_

COX. That is--my _intended_ wife.

BOX. Well, that's the same thing! I congratulate you (_shaking
hands_).

COX (_with a deep sigh_). Thank ye. (_Seeing BOX about to get up._)
You needn't disturb yourself, sir. She won't come here.

BOX. Oh! I understand. You've got a snug little establishment of your
own _here_--on the sly--cunning dog (_nudging COX_).

COX (_drawing himself up_). No such thing, sir; I repeat, sir, no such
thing, sir; but my wife--I mean, my intended wife--happens to be the
proprietor of a considerable number of bathing-machines--

BOX (_suddenly_). Ha! Where? (_grasping COX'S arm_).

COX. At a favorite watering-place. How curious you are!

BOX. Not at all. Well?

COX. Consequently, in the bathing season--which luckily is rather a
long one--we see but little of each other; but as that is now over, I
am daily indulging in the expectation of being blessed with the sight
of _my_ beloved (_very seriously_). Are _you_ married?

BOX. Me? Why--not exactly!

COX. Ah--a happy bachelor!

BOX. Why--not--precisely!

COX. Oh! a--widower?

BOX. No--not absolutely!

COX. You'll excuse me, sir--but at present I don't exactly understand
how you can help being one of the three.

BOX. Not help it?

COX. No, sir--not you, nor any other man alive!

BOX. Ah, that may be--but I'm not alive!

COX (_pushing back his chair_). You'll excuse me, sir, but I don't
like joking upon such subjects.

BOX. I'm perfectly serious, sir. I've been defunct for the last three
years.

COX (_shouting_). Will you be quiet, sir?

BOX. If you won't believe me, I'll refer you to a very large,
numerous, and respectable circle of disconsolate friends.

COX. My dear sir--my _very_ dear sir--if there does exist any
ingenious contrivance whereby a man on the eve of committing matrimony
can leave this world, and yet stop in it, I shouldn't be sorry to know
it.

BOX. Oh! then I presume I'm not to set you down as being frantically
attached to your intended?

COX. Why, not exactly; and yet, at present, I'm only aware of one
obstacle to doating upon her, and that is, that I can't abide her!

BOX. Then there's nothing more easy. Do as I did.

COX (_eagerly_). I will! What was it?

BOX. Drown yourself!

COX (_shouting again_). Will you be quiet, sir?

BOX. Listen to me. Three years ago it was my misfortune to captivate
the affections of a still blooming, though somewhat middle-aged widow,
at Ramsgate.

COX (_aside_). Singular enough! Just my case three months ago at
Margate.

BOX. Well, sir, to escape her importunities, I came to the
determination of enlisting into the Blues, or Lifeguards.

COX (_aside_). So did I. How very odd!

BOX. But they wouldn't have me--they actually had the effrontery to
say that I was too short--

COX (_aside_). And I wasn't tall enough!

BOX. So I was obliged to content myself with a marching regiment--I
enlisted!

COX (_aside_). So did I. Singular coincidence!

BOX. I'd no sooner done so than I was sorry for it.

COX (_aside_). So was I.

BOX. My infatuated widow offered to purchase my discharge, on
condition that I'd lead her to the altar.

COX (_aside_). Just my case!

BOX. I hesitated--at last I consented.

COX (_aside_). I consented at once!

BOX. Well, sir, the day fixed for the happy ceremony at length drew
near--in fact, too near to be pleasant--so I suddenly discovered that
I wasn't worthy to possess her, and I told her so; when, instead of
being flattered by the compliment, she flew upon me like a tiger of
the female gender. I rejoined--when suddenly something whizzed past
me, within an inch of my ear, and shivered into a thousand fragments
against the mantle-piece--it was the slop-basin. I retaliated with a
teacup--we parted, and the next morning I was served with a notice of
action for breach of promise.

COX. Well, sir?

BOX. Well, sir, ruin stared me in the face--the action proceeded
against me with gigantic strides. I took a desperate resolution; I
left my home early one morning, with one suit of clothes on my back,
and another tied up in a bundle under my arm. I arrived on the cliffs,
opened my bundle, deposited the suit of clothes on the very verge of
the precipice, took one look down into the yawning gulf beneath me,
and walked off in the opposite direction.

COX. Dear me! I think I begin to have some slight perception of your
meaning. Ingenious creature! You disappeared--the suit of clothes was
found--

BOX. Exactly; and in one of the pockets of the coat, or the waistcoat,
or the pantaloons--I forget which--there was also found a piece of
paper, with these affecting farewell words: "This is thy work, oh,
Penelope Ann!"

COX. Penelope Ann! (_Starts up, takes BOX by the arm, and leads him
slowly to front of stage._) Penelope Ann?

BOX. Penelope Ann!

COX. Originally widow of William Wiggins?

BOX. Widow of William Wiggins.

COX. Proprietor of bathing-machines?

BOX. Proprietor of bathing-machines!

COX. At Margate?

BOX. And Ramsgate!

COX. It must be she! And you, sir--you are Box--the lamented, long
lost Box!

BOX. I am.

COX. And I was about to marry the interesting creature you so cruelly
deceived.

BOX. Ha! then you are Cox?

COX. I am.

BOX. I heard of it. I congratulate you--I give you joy! And now I
think I'll go and take a stroll (_going_).

COX. No you don't! (_stopping him_). I'll not lose sight of you till
I've restored you to the arms of your intended.

BOX. _My_ intended? You mean _your_ intended.

COX. No, sir--yours!

BOX. How can she be _my_ intended, now that I'm drowned?

COX. You're no such thing, sir! and I prefer presenting you to
Penelope Ann.

BOX. I've no wish to be introduced to your intended.

COX. _My_ intended? How can that be, sir? You proposed to her first!

BOX. What of that, sir? I came to an untimely end, and you popped the
question afterwards.

COX. Very well, sir!

BOX. Very well, sir!

COX. You are much more worthy of her than I am, sir. Permit me, then,
to follow the generous impulse of my nature--I give her up to you.

BOX. Benevolent being! I wouldn't rob you for the world! (_Going._)
Good-morning, sir!

COX (_seizing him_). Stop!

BOX. Unhand me, hatter! or I shall cast off the lamb and assume the
lion!

COX. Pooh! (_snapping his fingers close to BOX'S face_).

BOX. An insult! to my very face!--under my very nose! (_rubbing it_).
You know the consequences, sir--instant satisfaction, sir!

COX. With all my heart, sir! (_They go to the fireplace, R., and begin
ringing bells violently, and pull down bell-pulls._)

BOTH. Mrs. Bouncer! Mrs. Bouncer!

     [_MRS. BOUNCER runs in, L. C._

MRS. B. What is it, gentlemen?

BOX. Pistols for two!

MRS. B. Yes, sir (_going_).

COX. Stop! You don't mean to say, thoughtless and imprudent woman,
that you keep loaded fire-arms in the house?

MRS. B. Oh no--they're not loaded.

COX. Then produce the murderous weapons instantly!

     [_Exit MRS. BOUNCER, L. C._

BOX. I say, sir!

COX. Well, sir?

BOX. What's your opinion of duelling, sir?

COX. I think it's a barbarous practice, sir.

BOX. So do I, sir. To be sure, I don't so much object to it when the
pistols are not loaded.

COX. No; I dare say that _does_ make some difference.

BOX. And yet, sir, on the other hand, doesn't it strike you as rather
a waste of time for two people to keep firing pistols at each other
with nothing in 'em?

COX. No, sir--not more than any other harmless recreation.

BOX. Hark ye! Why do you object to marry Penelope Ann?

COX. Because, as I've observed already, I can't abide her. You'll be
very happy with her.

BOX. Happy? Me! With the consciousness that I have deprived _you_ of
such a treasure? No, no, Cox!

COX. Don't think of me, Box--I shall be sufficiently rewarded by the
knowledge of my Box's happiness.

BOX. Don't be absurd, sir!

COX. Then don't you be ridiculous, sir!

BOX. I won't have her!

COX. I won't have her!

BOX. I have it! Suppose we draw lots for the lady--eh, Mr. Cox?

COX. That's fair enough, Mr. Box.

BOX. Or, what say you to dice?

COX. With all my heart! Dice, by all means (_eagerly_).

BOX (_aside_). That's lucky! Mrs. Bouncer's nephew left a pair here
yesterday. He sometimes persuades me to have a throw for a trifle, and
as he always throws sixes, I suspect they are good ones. (_Goes to the
cupboard at R., and brings out the dice-box._)

COX (_aside_). I've no objection at all to dice. I lost one pound
seventeen and sixpence at last Barnet Races, to a very
gentlemanly-looking man who had a most peculiar knack of throwing
sixes; I suspected they were loaded, so I gave him another half-crown,
and he gave me the dice. (_Takes dice out of his pocket; uses
lucifer-box as substitute for dice-box, which is on table._)

BOX. Now, then, sir!

COX. I'm ready, sir! (_They seat themselves at opposite sides of the
table._) Will you lead off, sir?

BOX. As you please, sir. The lowest throw, of course, wins Penelope
Ann?

COX. Of course, sir.

BOX. Very well, sir!

COX. Very well, sir!

BOX (_rattling dice and throwing_). Sixes!

COX. That's not a bad throw of yours, sir. (_Rattling dice--throws._)
Sixes!

BOX. That's a pretty good one of yours, sir. (_Throws._) Sixes!

COX (_throws_). Sixes!

BOX. Sixes!

COX. Sixes!

BOX. Sixes!

COX. Sixes!

BOX. Those are not bad dice of yours, sir.

COX. Yours seem pretty good ones, sir.

BOX. Suppose we change?

COX. Very well, sir. (_They change dice._)

BOX (_throwing_). Sixes!

COX. Sixes!

BOX. Sixes!

COX. Sixes!

BOX (_flings down the dice_). Pooh! It's perfectly absurd, your going
on throwing sixes in this sort of way, sir.

COX. I shall go on till my luck changes, sir!

BOX. Let's try something else. I have it! Suppose we toss for Penelope
Ann?

COX. The very thing I was going to propose! (_They each turn aside and
take out a handful of money._)

BOX (_aside, examining money_). Where's my tossing shilling? Here it
is (_selecting coin_).

COX (_aside, examining money_). Where's my lucky sixpence? I've got
it!

BOX. Now, then, sir--heads win?

COX. Or tails lose--whichever you prefer.

BOX. It's the same to me, sir.

COX. Very well, sir. Heads, I win--tails, you lose.

BOX. Yes,--(_suddenly_)--no. Heads win, sir.

COX. Very well--go on! (_They are standing opposite to each other._)

BOX (_tossing_). Heads!

COX (_tossing_). Heads!

BOX (_tossing_). Heads!

COX (_tossing_). Heads!

BOX. Ain't you rather tired of turning up heads, sir?

COX. Couldn't you vary the monotony of our proceedings by an
occasional tail, sir?

BOX (_tossing_). Heads!

COX (_tossing_). Heads!

BOX. Heads? Stop, sir! Will you permit me (_taking COX'S sixpence_).
Holloa! your sixpence has got no tail, sir!

COX (_seizing BOX'S shilling_). And your shilling has got two heads,
sir!

BOX. Cheat!

COX. Swindler! (_They are about to rush upon each other, then retreat
to some distance and commence sparring, and striking fiercely at each
other._)

     _Enter MRS. BOUNCER, L. H. C._

BOX _and_ COX. Is the little back second-floor room ready?

MRS. B. Not quite, gentlemen. I can't find the pistols, but I have
brought you a letter--it came by the general post yesterday. I'm sure
I don't know how I forgot it, for I put it carefully in my pocket.

COX. And you've kept it carefully in your pocket ever since?

MRS. B. Yes, sir. I hope you'll forgive me, sir (_going_). By-the-bye,
I paid twopence for it.

COX. Did you? Then I _do_ forgive you.

     [_Exit MRS. B._

(_Looking at letter._) "Margate." The post-mark decidedly says
"Margate."

BOX. Oh, doubtless a tender epistle from Penelope Ann.

COX. Then read it, sir (_handing letter to BOX_).

BOX. Me, sir?

COX. Of course. You don't suppose I'm going to read a letter from your
intended?

BOX. My intended! Pooh! It's addressed to you--C, O, X!

COX. Do you think that's a C? It looks to me like a B.

BOX. Nonsense! Fracture the seal!

COX (_opens letter--starts_). Goodness gracious!

BOX (_snatching letter--starts_). Gracious goodness!

COX (_taking letter again_). "Margate--May the 4th. Sir,--I hasten to
convey to you the intelligence of a melancholy accident which has
bereft you of your intended wife." He means _your_ intended!

BOX. No, _yours!_ However, it's perfectly immaterial--but she
unquestionably was yours.

COX. How can that be? You proposed to her first!

BOX. Yes, but then you-- Now don't let us begin again. Go on.

COX (_resuming letter_). "Poor Mrs. Wiggins went out for a short
excursion in a sailing-boat--a sudden and violent squall soon after
took place, which it is supposed upset her, as she was found, two days
afterwards, keel upward."

BOX. Poor woman!

COX. The boat, sir! (_Reading_). "As her man of business, I
immediately proceeded to examine her papers, among which I soon
discovered her will, the following extract from which will, I have no
doubt, be satisfactory to you: 'I hereby bequeath my entire property
to my intended husband.'" Excellent but unhappy creature!
(_affected_).

BOX. Generous, ill-fated being! (_affected_).

COX. And to think that I tossed up for such a woman!

BOX. When I remember that I staked such a treasure on the hazard of a
die!

COX. I'm sure, Mr. Box, I can't sufficiently thank you for your
sympathy.

BOX. And I'm sure, Mr. Cox, you couldn't feel more, if she had been
your own intended!

COX. _If_ she'd been _my own_ intended? She _was_ my own intended!

BOX. Your intended? Come, I like that! Didn't you very properly
observe just now, sir, that I proposed to her first?

COX. To which you very sensibly replied that you'd come to an untimely
end.

BOX. I deny it!

COX. I say you have!

BOX. The fortune's mine!

COX. Mine!

BOX. I'll have it!

COX. So will I!

BOX. I'll go to law!

COX. So will I!

BOX. Stop--a thought strikes me. Instead of going to law about the
property, suppose we divide it.

COX. Equally?

BOX. Equally. I'll take two-thirds.

COX. That's fair enough--and I'll take three-fourths.

BOX. That won't do. Half and half!

COX. Agreed! There's my hand upon it--

BOX. And mine. (_About to shake hands--a Postman's knock heard at
street door._)

COX. Holloa! Postman again!

BOX. Postman yesterday--postman to-day.

     _Enter MRS. BOUNCER._

MRS. B. Another letter, Mr. Cox--twopence more!

COX. I forgive you again! (_Taking letter._) Another trifle from
Margate. (_Opens the letter--starts._) Goodness gracious!

BOX (_snatching letter--starts_). Gracious goodness!

COX (_snatching letter again--reads_). "Happy to inform you--false
alarm"--

BOX (_overlooking_). "Sudden squall--boat upset--Mrs. Wiggins, your
intended"--

COX. "Picked up by a steamboat"--

BOX. "Carried into Boulogne"--

COX. "Returned here this morning"--

BOX. "Will start by early train, to-morrow"--

COX. "And be with you at ten o'clock, exact." (_Both simultaneously
pull out their watches._)

BOX. Cox, I congratulate you--

COX. Box, I give you joy!

BOX. I'm sorry that most important business of the Colonial Office
will prevent my witnessing the truly happy meeting between you and
your intended. Good-morning (_going_).

COX (_stopping him_). It's obviously for me to retire. Not for worlds
would I disturb the rapturous meeting between you and your intended.
Good-morning!

BOX. You'll excuse me, sir--but our last arrangement was that she was
_your_ intended.

COX. No, yours!

BOX. Yours!

TOGETHER. Yours! (_Ten o'clock strikes--noise of an omnibus._)

BOX. Ha! what's that? A cab's drawn up at the door! (_Running to
window._) No--it's a twopenny omnibus!

COX (_leaning over BOX'S shoulder_). A lady's got out--

BOX. There's no mistaking that majestic person--it's Penelope Ann!

COX. Your intended!

BOX. Yours!

COX. Yours! (_Both run to door, L. C., and eagerly listen._)

BOX. Hark--she's coming up-stairs!

COX. Shut the door! (_They slam the door, and both lean up against it
with their backs._)

MRS. B. (_without, and knocking_). Mr. Cox! Mr. Cox!

COX (_shouting_). I've just stepped out!

BOX. So have I!

MRS. B. Mr. Cox! (_Pushing at the door--COX and BOX redouble their
efforts to keep their door shut._) Open the door! It's only me--Mrs.
Bouncer!

COX. Only you? Then where's the lady?

MRS. B. Gone!

COX. Upon your honor?

BOX. As a gentleman?

MRS. B. Yes, and she's left a note for Mr. Cox.

COX. Give it to me!

MRS. B. Then open the door!

COX. Put it under! (_Letter is put under the door; COX picks up the
letter and opens it._) Goodness gracious!

BOX (_snatching letter_). Gracious goodness! (_COX snatches the letter
and runs forward, followed by BOX._)

COX (_reading_). "Dear Mr. Cox, pardon my candor"--

BOX (_looking over and reading_). "But being convinced that our
feelings, like our ages, do not reciprocate"--

COX. "I hasten to apprise you of my immediate union"--

BOX. "With Mr. Knox."

COX. Huzza!

BOX. Three cheers for Knox! Ha, ha, ha! (_Tosses the letter in the
air, and begins dancing. COX does the same._)

MRS. B. (_putting her head in at door_). The little second floor-back
room is quite ready!

COX. I don't want it!

BOX. No more do I!

COX. What shall part us?

BOX. What shall tear us asunder?

COX. Box!

BOX. Cox! (_About to embrace--BOX stops, seizes COX'S hand, and looks
eagerly in his face._) You'll excuse the apparent insanity of the
remark, but the more I gaze on your features, the more I'm convinced
that you're my long lost brother.

COX. The very observation I was going to make to you!

BOX. Ah--tell me--in mercy tell me--have you such a thing as a
strawberry mark on your left arm?

COX. No!

BOX. Then it is he! (_They rush into each other's arms._)

COX. Of course we stop where we are!

BOX. Of course!

COX. For, between you and me, I'm rather partial to this house.

BOX. So am I--I begin to feel quite at home in it.

COX. Everything so clean and comfortable--

BOX. And I'm sure the mistress of it, from what I have seen of her, is
very anxious to please.

COX. So she is; and I vote, Box, that we stick by her.

BOX. Agreed! There's my hand upon it--join but yours--agree that the
house is big enough to hold us both, then Box--

COX. And Cox--

BOTH. Are satisfied!

     THE CURTAIN FALLS.



FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED.

_A Comedietta, in One Act._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

COLONEL CHALLENGER.

HARRY BARTON.

BASIL ROYSTON.

MRS. TEMPLETON.

JULIA TEMPLETON.     }
                     } (her nieces.)
JOSEPHINE TEMPLETON. }


SCENE.--Mrs. Templeton's Villa at Roehampton.

_Handsomely furnished apartments; large French window at C. looking on
a garden. Doors R. H. and L. H. At R. H. a table, on which is an open
album; at L. C. another table covered with papers, etc.; table, sofa,
chairs, etc._

     _Enter MRS. TEMPLETON at C., followed by COLONEL CHALLENGER._

COL. Cousin Martha, you are wrong, wrong, wrong! a thousand times
wrong!

MRS. T. Cousin Samuel, I'm right, right, right! _ten_ thousand times
right!

COL. (_aside_). Obstinate old woman!

MRS. T. (_aside_). Pig-headed old man!

COL. What possible reason can you have for setting your face against
Josephine's getting married? It's downright tyranny! Call yourself an
aunt, indeed!

MRS. T. My reason is a very simple one. Her elder sister, Julia, must
find a husband first.

COL. First come, first served--eh? Really, my dear Martha, I must say
that, for a sensible woman, you are by many degrees the most
prejudiced, the most self-willed, the most--

MRS. T. Of course I am! But you know very well that when I once _do_
make up my mind to anything--

COL. You stick to it like a fly to a "catch-'em-alive-oh."

MRS. T. I don't choose that Julia should suffer what _I_ did! _I_ had
a sister, Dorothy Jane, four years my junior, who married before I
did--do you think that was pleasant?--who supplied me with a
sprinkling of nephews and nieces before _I_ had a husband--do you
think that was pleasant?--who gave garden-parties, balls, concerts, to
which all the world flocked, and surrounded her with flattery,
adulation, while _I_ was neglected, extinguished, regularly snuffed
out. Do you think _that_ was pleasant? Well, it is _this_ humiliation
that I am determined to spare Julia.

COL. Well, you didn't lose much by waiting. I'm sure Tom Templeton was
as good a creature as ever breathed--didn't live long, poor fellow,
but cut up remarkably well considering.

MRS. T. Leaving his two nieces, his brother's children, to my charge,
with ten thousand pounds each.

COL. As a wedding portion, which, I must say, you didn't seem in a
hurry to part with.

MRS. T. You know my conditions. You have only to find a husband for
Julia.

COL. I? When she refused half the good-looking fellows within ten
miles round! If she _does_ mean to marry, she takes her time about it,
that I will say; it never seems to occur to her that she's keeping her
poor sister out in the cold!

MRS. T. You may be mistaken, cousin. I spoke to Julia only yesterday,
and she expressed herself in terms which convinced me that, were she
to receive a suitable offer--

COL. She'd accept it? Well, I'm glad she's coming to her senses at
last; and I shall go away all the more comfortable in my mind.

MRS. T. Go away?

COL. Yes. I'm off back again to Cheltenham. Touch of gout--liver
queer; besides, my work here is done. Your husband's affairs, which I
confess appeared to me at first sight to be in a state of hopeless
confusion, are now clearly and satisfactorily arranged, thanks to my
young colleague, Harry Barton, who, I must say, worked like a nigger
over them. By-the-bye, he's another victim to Miss Julia's caprice and
fastidiousness--she actually snubbed the poor fellow before she'd time
even to look at him, much less know him.

MRS. T. Well, you'll confess he bears his disappointment with becoming
resignation (_satirically_).

COL. Yes, he's getting used to it, like the eels. He doesn't see the
use of crying over spilt milk. By-the-bye, there's another matter of
five thousand pounds coming to the girls out of the Hampshire
property. But Barton will give you all the particulars.

MRS. T. I'm sure, cousin, I feel deeply indebted to you.

COL. Not half as much as you _ought_ to feel to Harry Barton. Hasn't
he been here twice a week for the last month, up to his elbows in
leases, loans, mortgages, and the deuce knows what? Oh! here he comes.

     _Enter HARRY BARTON at C., a roll of papers under his arm, a
     lawyer's blue bag in his hand, which he deposits on chair._

BART. (_bowing to MRS. TEMPLETON_). Your servant, madam. (_To
COLONEL._) Ah! my dear colonel, I hope you're well. But perhaps I
ought to apologize for entering unannounced. You may be engaged?

MRS. T. Not at all. I am aware, Mr. Barton, how deeply I am in your
debt; but now that the business which served as your first
introduction here is satisfactorily concluded, pray remember my house
is open to you as before (_BARTON bows_). You will kindly excuse me
now--a few orders to give (_courtesies and exit L. H.; at the same
moment the door at R. H. opens and JOSEPHINE peeps in_).

JOSEPHINE. Is the coast clear? (_watching MRS. TEMPLETON as she goes
out_). She's gone at last (_runs in_).

BART. (_meeting her_). Jo, dear Jo (_taking her hand, which he is
about to kiss_).

JOSEPHINE. Wait a minute! (_looking after MRS. TEMPLETON_). She's
quite disappeared; _now_ you may! (_holding out her hand to BARTON,
who kisses it_). And now (_turning to COLONEL_), you dear, good, kind
old uncle. Uncle is it, or cousin? I never know which.

COL. Don't you? It's simple enough. Your mother's elder brother's
second--never mind. Call me uncle.

JOSEPHINE. Well? Have you spoken to Aunt Martha?

BART. Yes. Have you broken the ice?

COL. Cracked it, that's all!

JOSEPHINE. And what was the result? Did she consent or not?

BART. Did she say yes or no?

JOSEPHINE. Why don't you speak? (_impatiently_).

BART. Why don't you say something? (_ditto_).

COL. How the deuce can I, when you won't let me get in a word
edgeways? Well, then, my poor young friends, sorry I've no good news
for you; the old story over again--Miss Julia stops the way.

BART. And yet Mrs. Templeton's pressing invitation to me to visit at
her house--

COL. Is easily explained. She doesn't even suspect that your
affections have been transferred from her elder to her younger niece.

JOSEPHINE. Then you should have told her--then there would have been
an explosion!

COL. Yes, which would have blown Master Harry clean out of the street
door! No, no! don't despair; Julia will find a husband--sooner or
later!

JOSEPHINE. Sooner or later? But what am _I_ to do in the mean time?

BART. Yes! what are _we_ to do in the mean time?

JOSEPHINE. I'm sure she's had plenty of offers; but one was too
young--another was too old--one was too rich--another wasn't rich
enough; even poor Harry here, though he followed her about like her
shadow, and I'm sure made himself sufficiently ridiculous--even _he_
wasn't good enough for her ladyship! It's downright absurd being so
particular. I'm sure _I_ wasn't!

BART. No, dear Jo! _you_ took pity on me at once.

JOSEPHINE. No, not _quite_ at once. I didn't _jump_ at you. But
what--what is to be done?

COL. Have patience!

JOSEPHINE. Patience? _Haven't_ I been patient for the last five weeks?

BART. Five weeks and three days!

JOSEPHINE. Five weeks and three days! (_suddenly_). Oh! such an idea!
such a capital notion! Listen. Julia must find a husband, or a husband
must be found for Julia--that's a settled point.

COL.  }
      } (_together_). Quite so!
BART. }

JOSEPHINE. Well, then, as she sets her face against a _young_ one--

COL. Yes; as she sets her face against a young one--

JOSEPHINE. And turns up her nose at a handsome one--

COL. And turns up her nose at a handsome one--

JOSEPHINE. She might find _you_ more to her taste! (_to COLONEL_).

COL. She might find me more to her-- (_Seeing JOSEPHINE laughing._)
So, Miss Saucy one, you're poking fun at me, are you? Then you'll be
good enough to find another victim--I mean another admirer, for Miss
Julia! Egad, I must make haste and pack up, or I shall lose my train!
Come along with me, little one! Good-by, Barton! Keep up your spirits!
Recollect you've still got _me!_

JOSEPHINE. And _me,_ Harry. Not yet, but you _will!_

     [_Exeunt COLONEL and JOSEPHINE at door R. H._

BART. Dear Josephine! What a contrast to her cold, insensible,
apathetic sister! I, who loved her so sincerely, so devotedly, made
such a thorough spooney of myself! and was even weak enough to believe
I was not quite indifferent to her! I confess I felt
hurt--considerably hurt--infernally hurt; but if she flattered herself
I should be inconsolable, she never was more mistaken in her life! She
little dreamt how soon I should find a cure for my infatuation in the
charms of her angelic sister! Dear Josephine! And to think there's no
hope of my calling her mine till we find somebody to call her sister
_his!_ By-the-bye, here are a few papers I must look over (_seating
himself at table and opening papers_).

ROYS. (_heard without_). Very well; take my card to Mrs. Templeton.
I'll wait. I'm in no hurry.

BART. Heyday! who have we here?

     _Enter BASIL ROYSTON at C._

ROYS. (_coming down--seeing BARTON_). I beg pardon, sir!

BART. (_rising_). Sir--I--

ROYS. Be seated, I beg.

BART. Not till you set me the example (_pointing to chair--they seat
themselves_).

ROYS. Like me, sir, you are doubtless waiting to see Mrs. Templeton?

BART. No, sir.

ROYS. Oh! One of the family, perhaps? Possibly a friend?

BART. Yes, sir, a friend. (_Aside._) He's very inquisitive!

ROYS. (_looking at album_). What charming water-colors--perfect gems!

BART. They are the work of Mrs. Templeton's elder niece. Are _you_ an
artist?

ROYS. No, merely an amateur. And you?

BART. A humble member of the legal profession.

ROYS. A lawyer--eh? (_Aside._) By Jove! here's a chance for me! I've
half a mind to--he looks the very picture of good-nature, and six and
eightpence won't ruin me! (_Aloud._) Might I venture, sir, on so very
slight an acquaintance, to solicit your professional opinion? (_BARTON
bows._) It is rather a delicate subject, a very _peculiar_ subject.

BART. I'm all attention, sir, merely observing that the sooner you
begin--

ROYS. The sooner I shall have done. Exactly. Then I'll come to the
point at once. I would ask you whether, in your opinion, a promise of
marriage, written under _certain circumstances_ and under certain
_conditions,_ must necessarily be binding?

BART. Such conditions being--

ROYS. First and foremost--that the lady should have her head altered!

BART. (_astonished_). Have her head altered?

ROYS. I mean, have her hair dyed!

BART. Which condition the lady has not complied with?

ROYS. No, sir! It's as red as ever!

BART. Then, sir, I've no hesitation in saying that the promise falls
to the ground.

ROYS. Thank you, sir (_seizing BARTON'S hand and shaking it--aside and
sighing_). Poor Sophia!

BART. May I inquire the name of my _new_ client? (_smiling_).

ROYS. Royston.

BART. The Roystons of Banbury?

ROYS. Yes, Banbury--where the cakes come from.

BART. I was aware that Mrs. Templeton expected you on a matter of
business--a certain sum of money, I believe?

ROYS. Yes, coming to the family from some Hampshire property.

BART. I imagined Mr. Royston was a much older person.

ROYS. I see! You mean Jonathan.

BART. Jonathan?

Rots. Yes, my brother--the head of the firm--he's twenty years my
senior! But as he could not spare the time to come, he sent me.

BART. (_aside_). It's worth the trial--decidedly worth it! (_looking
aside at ROYSTON_). Young, gentlemanly, sufficiently good-looking,
good family! Here goes! (_Aloud._) Excuse my candor, but I think I
guess your motive in putting the professional question you did just
now. _You_ are the writer of the promise of marriage, and you are
desirous of contracting _another_ alliance--eh?

ROYS. _I_ don't care about it, but Jonathan does! (_Aside, and sighing
again._) Poor Sophia!

BART. Perhaps you have some party in view?

ROYS. No. But I'm on the lookout.

BART. And, no doubt, anxious to succeed?

ROYS. Not particularly--but Jonathan is.

BART. Perhaps that is the object of your visit _here?_

ROYS. Eh? Is there a marriageable young lady here?

BART. Yes.

ROYS. I should like to see her.

BART. Nothing more easy.

ROYS. What age?

BART. Twenty.

ROYS. Any fortune?

BART. Ten thousand.

ROYS. That'd just suit Jonathan! Pretty?

BART. Charming!

ROYS. That'd just suit _me!_ Egad, suppose I try my luck? I've half a
mind!

BART. Have a _whole_ one! I've a notion you'll succeed!

ROYS. But I know nobody here!

BART. I beg your pardon! you know _me!_

ROYS. Eh?

BART. Known me for _years_ (_with intention_).

ROYS. (_suddenly seeing BARTON'S meaning_). Of course I have!

BART. Ever since we were children!

ROYS. Babies!

BART. We went to the same school together!

ROYS. Of course we did!

BART. At Tunbridge Wells!

ROYS. Yes, at Bagnigge Wells!

BART. And we have been friends ever since!

ROYS. (_enthusiastically_). _Bosom friends!_ And you'll really do all
you can to serve me?

BART. Of course I will! (_Aside._) And myself at the same time!

ROYS. A thousand thanks, my dear-- By-the-bye, what shall I call you?

BART. Harry. And you?

ROYS. Basil (_grasping BARTON'S hand_). Sophia might scratch your eyes
out, but Jonathan will bless you.

BART. Hush! (_seeing MRS. TEMPLETON, who enters at L. H._).

MRS. T. (_to ROYSTON_). Sorry to have kept you waiting, Mr. Royston.

ROYS. I am here, madam, as my brother's representative.

MRS. T. I am aware of it. Mr. Barton, allow me to introduce to you--

BART. No necessity for it, madam. Basil is an old friend of mine.

ROYS. Yes, madam! I little thought of meeting an old schoolfellow here
(_shaking BARTON'S hand warmly_). Some years ago now--eh, Tom?

BART. (_aside to him_). Harry!

ROYS. Harry!

MRS. T. So you were school-fellows--eh?

ROYS. Yes, ma'am, at--Bagnigge Wells.

BART. (_hastily aside to him_). Tunbridge!

ROYS. Of course! Tunbridge!

MRS. T. You must have had some difficulty in recognizing each other?

ROYS. _I_ had--very _considerable_ difficulty, I assure you!

BART. We should have met earlier, no doubt, but for my friend's
lengthened absence in Italy (_significantly to ROYSTON_).

ROYS. Yes. Ah! charming country--for those who don't mind the cold!
(_On a sign from BARTON._) I mean the heat!

MRS. T. (_aside and looking at ROYSTON_). Really a vastly agreeable
young man!

     _Enter COLONEL at R. H._

COL. So Royston has arrived, has he? (_Seeing BASIL._) Heyday! why,
this is Basil--his younger brother!

ROYS. At your service, colonel.

MRS. T. You are acquainted, then?

COL. I was intimate with his mother's family--indeed, I may say I was
the means of getting him a nomination to the Blue Coat school.

BART. (_aside_). This is deuced awkward!

MRS. T. The Blue Coat school? I thought you said Tunbridge Wells?

ROYS. (_recollecting_). Yes; that was before--I mean after--

COL. (_aside and suspiciously_). I suspect these young fellows are
playing some little game of their own; and, what's more, I can pretty
well guess what it is!

MRS. T. (_aside to COLONEL_). As Mr. Royston is an entire stranger to
me, may I ask you, Cousin Samuel, what is the opinion you have formed
of him?

COL. Oh! a very charming young man, indeed! Most respectable family!
an ample income already, with great expectations from a couple of
aunts and a godmother! A little wild at present, perhaps, but he'll
soon settle down when he's _married!_ Ah! happy the woman who makes a
conquest of such a man! (_Aside._) There! now _I'm_ in the conspiracy
too!

MRS. T. (_to  ROYSTON_). Your friend Mr. Barton does not leave here
till to-morrow; you, I hope, will also defer your departure till then?

BART. (_quickly to ROYSTON_). Of course you will! (_To MRS. T._) Of
course he will! (_To ROYSTON._) You'll be only too delighted! (_To
MRS. T._) He'll be only too delighted!

MRS. T. Ah! here's my niece! (_going up to meet JULIA, who enters at
C._).

ROYS. (_seeing JOSEPHINE, who at the same moment enters at R. H._).
Look! what a charming creature!

BART. No, no! it isn't she! it's the other! Look there! (_pointing to
JULIA_). There's a figure! there's a symmetry! Look at those
finely-chiselled features!

ROYS. Yes, yes! but still, in my opinion (_looking admiringly at
JOSEPHINE_)--

BART. Your opinion, indeed! Pshaw! what do you know about it?

JOSEPHINE (_aside to COLONEL, and pointing to ROYSTON_). What! has
Harry found somebody already?

MRS. T. Julia, my dear, allow me to present Mr. Royston, an old friend
of Mr. Barton's (_JULIA courtesies stiffly to ROYSTON_).

BART. (_to ROYSTON_). There's a courtesy! that's what I call a
courtesy!

ROYS. Yes! but, as I said before, of the two I prefer (_looking at
JOSEPHINE_)--

BART. You prefer, indeed! Surely I must know better than you! (_To
JULIA._) My friend Royston, a distinguished amateur of the fine arts,
is in raptures with your sketches, Miss Julia. (_JULIA courtesies
stiffly again._)

JOSEPHINE (_to JULIA_). Why don't you thank Mr. Royston, sister?

ROYS. (_aside to BARTON_). Oh! she's the sister--eh?

BART. (_with pretended indifference_). Yes, a little, harmless,
insignificant school-girl--

ROYS. Still, I repeat, if I had to choose between them--

BART. Pshaw! my dear fellow, if you only knew what nonsense you're
talking! (_Aside._) Zounds! I hope he isn't going to fall in love with
Josephine!

COL. Sorry to interrupt, but my time is precious, and business must be
attended to. Mr. Royston, will you step into the dining-room with your
papers? Barton, you'll come too?

JOSEPHINE (_hastily aside to BARTON_). I understand it all, Harry. A
very nice young man, indeed! and likely to stand a good chance. Don't
you think so? Where _did_ you pick him up so soon?

BART. Hush! I'll explain everything another time.

     [_COLONEL and MRS. TEMPLETON exeunt at R. H., followed by BARTON
     and ROYSTON. ROYSTON stops, turns, and makes a profound bow to
     JOSEPHINE. BARTON pushes him out._

JOSEPHINE (_aside_). I wonder what she thinks of him? (_Aloud._) A
very gentlemanly young man, Mr. Royston, don't you think so, Julia?

JULIA (_indifferently_). I scarcely looked at him.

JOSEPHINE (_aside_). That's not very encouraging! (_Aloud._) How _do_
you manage to find so many admirers? _I_ can't!

JULIA (_smiling_). Hitherto, perhaps, I may have had the lion's share
of attention, homage, and professed admiration; but _your_ turn will
come.

JOSEPHINE. It's a long time about it! You are so difficult to please.
And poor Mr. Royston, I suppose, will be snubbed like the rest!

JULIA (_reprovingly_). Josephine! surely you don't imagine--

JOSEPHINE. That there is some attraction for him here? Of course I do!
It can't be Aunt Martha--nor I! _I'm_ only a _child!_ (_with affected
humility_).

JULIA. Josephine, you speak as though you were piqued, vexed--I might
almost say _envious!_

JOSEPHINE. Envious? I? Of what?

JULIA (_sighing_). Of what, indeed! Ah, dear one, the privileges of an
elder sister are not so enviable after all! What is often her lot?--to
be constantly exposed to flattery--adulation from the lips of
strangers--compelling her to assume an extreme reserve in order to
modify the exaggerated and at times indelicate encomiums of relatives
and friends. What is the necessary result? Doubt, distrust,
suspicion--nay, even prejudice, oftentimes unjust, against those who
profess a desire to please! On this impulse _I_ have acted--an impulse
dictated by self-respect and a due sense of my own dignity!

JOSEPHINE (_aside_). What a serious tone! (_Aloud._) But just think
how cruelly, how unjustly you _may_ have acted. And I'm sure, as for
Mr. Royston--

JULIA. Mr. Royston again! Silly child!

JOSEPHINE. Child? Perhaps I could mention a little fact
that--that--but I won't! (_Aside._) Good-by to my secret if I did!
(_Aloud._) Good-by!

JULIA. Are you going to leave me too?

JOSEPHINE. Haven't I got to write out all the invitations for our ball
on the 23d?

JULIA. Your birthday?--true.

JOSEPHINE. Yes; that is the _professed_ reason--but of course it is on
_your_ account that it is given.

JULIA (_reproachfully_). Josephine!

JOSEPHINE. I know a younger sister's duty, Miss Templeton (_makes a
low courtesy and exit L. H._).

JULIA. Josephine! sister!--Did she but know how she misjudges me! How
heavily I have been punished for that pride, that apparent
insensibility, with which she reproaches me! Oh, Harry! Harry! could
you but tell how bitterly I have repented! But surely, surely the
cruel, wicked indifference with which I treated his affection, his
devotion, cannot have entirely destroyed them--some _little_ spark of
the old flame must still remain! else why is he so constantly here?
Why does he still seem to seek my presence? At any rate, he shall see
that I am no heartless coquette; and when this Mr. Royston presents
himself, as I'm sure he _will_ (_seeing ROYSTON, who enters from
R. H._)-- I thought so!

ROYS. (_aside_). She's alone! She's decidedly handsome. Yet, as I said
before, there's something about the other that--that-- (_Aloud, and
bowing to JULIA._) Miss Templeton!

JULIA (_courtesying_). Sir! the business matter in which you are
engaged is, I presume, settled?

ROYS. Yes; the signatures alone are required.

JULIA. In that case perhaps I had better-- (_About to retire._)

ROYS. One moment, I beg! (_Aside._) She's decidedly _very_ handsome!
Still--don't know how it is--but there is certainly something about
the other that--that-- (_Aloud._) Before leaving this house to-morrow,
with my new acquaintance--I mean _my old friend_ Barton--

JULIA (_quickly_). Mr. Barton leaves to-morrow?

ROYS. Yes, alas! I say "alas," because one day only is now left for me
to admire your physical attractions, your mental accomplishments--

JULIA. Oh, sir! Believe me, my sister is far more accomplished than I
am.

ROYS. Far be it from me to deny it. Still, from the highly eulogistic
terms in which every one speaks of you--your sister among the first--

JULIA. Ah, sir! Dear Josephine is so amiable, so affectionate, so
good, so loving, so angelic--

ROYS. (_aside_). She sticks up for her sister, that I will say!
(_Aloud._) Still, there are _certain_ attractions which we can all
judge of by our own eyes.

JULIA (_quickly_). And who can possess them to a greater degree than
Josephine? Such exquisite grace--such absolute perfection of form and
feature--

ROYS. (_aside_). Her sister again! If we go on at this rate, we
sha'n't get on very fast! (_Aloud._) Allow me to be frank with you; my
brother Jonathan--but perhaps you've never heard of
Jonathan?--Jonathan Royston, of Banbury--where the cakes come
from--well, he often reproaches me with being what he calls rather
wild and fast and flighty--

JULIA. The only fault I find with Josephine, dear child. She is so
giddy, so thoughtless, so excitable! What a capital match you'd make!
Ha, ha, ha!

ROYS. (_aside_). That's a pretty broad hint! (_Aloud._) And he--I mean
Jonathan--says that the best thing I could do would be to get
_married!_

JULIA. The very conclusion I have come to about Josephine.

ROYS. (_aside_). It really looks as if she wanted to turn me over to
her sister. (_Aloud._) And having received the flattering assurance
that my pretensions to your hand might possibly not be unsuccessful--

JULIA. From whom, pray? Doubtless from my aunt.

ROYS. Oh no! From my dear old friend, Barton.

JULIA (_indignantly_). Mr. Barton? He? No, no! I cannot, _will_ not
believe it!

ROYS. I'm sure he will not deny it--and see, fortunately, he's here!

     _Enter BARTON at door R. H._

BART. Miss Templeton, your presence is required in the drawing-room.

JULIA (_very coldly, and seating herself at table_). Presently.

BART. (_aside to ROYSTON_). Well, what news?

ROYS. (_aside_). All right! At least, if it isn't this one, it'll be
the other! One of the two!

BART. What do you mean by "the other?"

ROYS. The "little, harmless, insignificant school-girl," you know!

BART. (_aside_). Confound the fellow!

ROYS. You first put the notion of marriage into my head, and I won't
leave this house a bachelor; I'll marry somebody! I leave you
together! You'll plead my cause, won't you?--and pitch it strong,
won't you? I shall be all anxiety to know the result--because if _she_
won't have me, I can fall back on the other. Don't you see? (_shaking
BARTON'S hand, and runs out at C._).

BART. (_aside, and looking at JULIA_). To have to plead the cause of
another, when, in spite of me, her presence _will_ recall the past,
painful, humiliating as it is!

JULIA (_with indifference_). Your friend has left you, Mr. Barton?

BART. He has, _Miss Templeton;_ but he has left an advocate to
intercede with you on his behalf.

JULIA (_satirically_). A willing and an earnest one, no doubt, who
probably has already furnished him with a detailed catalogue of my
tastes, habits, pursuits, disposition--

BART. (_aside_). He's been blabbing! (_Aloud._) Surely he cannot have
betrayed my confidence?

JULIA (_with suppressed anger_). The charge of "betrayal of
confidence" should rather be levelled at one who by his intimacy with
a family, into which he is admitted on terms of friendship, is enabled
to study the characters of its members for the purpose of retailing
the result of his observations to others!

BART. I will not affect to misunderstand your reproof. It is true that
I spoke of you to Mr. Royston in terms which you fully merit--that I
even told him your heart was free.

JULIA. Perfectly, absolutely free! You undertook to be his advocate
with such zeal, such earnestness, one might almost imagine you had
some personal interest.

BART. And what if I _had_ an interest--a _powerful_ interest?

JULIA (_quickly_). Indeed?

BART. Yes. And after the somewhat harsh rejection I met with at your
hands--which, no doubt, I fully merited--what greater proof can I give
of the esteem in which I still hold you than to confide my secret to
you?

JULIA (_starting_). A secret? (_Aside._) What can he mean?

BART. That, on the eve of leaving your family, I should feel far less
regret could I but indulge in the hope of ever becoming connected with
it by a closer tie.

JULIA (_aside, and joyfully_). Can it be? Has he forgotten--forgiven?
Can he still care for me? (_Aloud._) But why this silence--this want
of confidence in me?

BART. Frankly, because we feared you would oppose our wishes, our
hopes.

JULIA (_eagerly_). _Our_ hopes? _We_ feared?

BART. Yes! She especially.

JULIA. _She?_ Of whom are you speaking? Her name?

BART. Surely I must have mentioned it? Your sister.

JULIA (_starting from her chair_). Josephine!

BART. Yes; rejected by her elder sister, I sought and found solace and
consolation in her goodness and sympathy.

JULIA (_with increasing anger_). So! Your frequent visits, your
constant presence here, apparently so inconsistent with your "wounded
feelings" (_satirically_), are now explained! It was for _her!_ And
_I_ was to be kept in ignorance--to fancy, to believe, to hope--

BART. (_surprised_). Miss Templeton!

JULIA. I now understand this anxiety to dispose of my hand--this crowd
of admirers thrown in my way! What mattered _my_ feelings--_my_
happiness? I was an obstacle to be removed! (_with increasing
excitement_).

BART. I implore you--

JULIA (_stamping her foot_). Silence, sir!

     _Enter MRS. TEMPLETON hurriedly at R. H._

MRS. T. What is the matter here? Julia! what means this
excitement--this agitation? Perhaps you, sir (_to BARTON_)--

BART. I am as much surprised as yourself, madam! I ventured to confide
to Miss Julia my pretensions to the hand of her sister--

MRS. T. (_with a scream_). What! You had the _cruelty,_ the
_barbarity_ to make such an avowal to her elder sister? (_advancing
upon BARTON, who retreats_)--to lacerate her feelings! to wound her
pride!

JULIA. Yes, that's it!--to wound my pride!

BART. But really--

MRS. T. Silence, young man! I remember what _my_ feelings were when my
younger sister was married before me. I was choking, sir! suffocating,
sir! I turned positively purple! all sorts of colors, sir! And here is
a little pert, forward chit, daring to follow her Aunt Dorothy Jane's
example!--but here she comes. (_Enter COLONEL from R. H., and
JOSEPHINE from L. H._) So, miss (_advancing angrily on JOSEPHINE_), a
pretty account I've heard of you! To mix yourself up at _your_ age in
a silly romance--a nonsensical love-intrigue--

COL. (_interfering_). But, my dear Martha--

MRS. T. (_turning sharply on him_). Hold _your_ tongue, Cousin Samuel!

JOSEPHINE. But, aunt, if you'll only allow me--

MRS. T. But I _won't_ allow you! (_To JULIA._) Keep up your spirits,
poor persecuted victim!

JOSEPHINE. Victim? It seems to me that _I'm_ the victim! Just as I
thought I was going to be married and settled! (_beginning to sob;
COLONEL tries to pacify her_).

MRS. T. Married and settled, indeed! A child--a baby like you! (_To
BARTON._) After what has occurred, sir, you will see that your further
presence under this roof--

BART. (_bowing_). I fully understand, madam!

MRS. T. (_to JOSEPHINE_). Come, miss, follow me! (_JOSEPHINE about to
speak._) Not a word! It is for _me_ to speak, as you'll find I intend
to do, and to some purpose. This way! (_making JOSEPHINE pass before
her; she and JULIA follow her out at R. H._).

COL. Wheugh! here's a pretty piece of business!

BART. Not satisfied with rejecting me herself, she carries her
prejudice, her hate so far as to--

COL. Hate? nonsense! (_Suddenly._) By Jove! I have it!--at least I
think I have. What if she should feel a "sneaking kindness" for you,
after all?

BART. Pshaw!

COL. But what about friend Royston?

BART. Hang friend Royston!

COL. With all my heart; but where the deuce is he?

BART. Waiting somewhere or other to hear the result of my interview
with Miss Templeton.

COL. In which you undertook to plead his cause--eh?

BART. Yes; and forgot all about it in my anxiety to plead my own!

COL. What's that? Do you mean to say you confided to her the secret
between you and Josephine?

BART. Yes; trusting in her generous nature and her sisterly affection,
I certainly _did!_

COL. And a pretty mess you've made of it! Well, I must find Royston
and let him know. As for you, as you've received orders to march, the
sooner you pack up and pack off the better! (_hurries out at C._).

     (_Door at R. H. opens, and JOSEPHINE peeps in._)

JOSEPHINE. Harry! Are you alone?--quite alone? (_hurries forward_).

BART. Yes. What is it?

JOSEPHINE. Such a discovery! (_in a very mysterious tone_). She's got
one!

BART. She? Who?

JOSEPHINE. Julia!

BART. Got one? Got what?

JOSEPHINE. A young man! shut up in a box!

BART. In a box?

JOSEPHINE. Listen. After being well scolded by Aunt Martha, I followed
Julia to her room. There she was, with a little open box before her,
out of which she took something, looked at it, then pressed her lips
to it, and gave such a sigh!--you might have heard it here! perhaps
you did?

BART. Well?

JOSEPHINE. Then aunt called her, and she hurried out of the room,
leaving the box on the table; and then--then--somehow or other--here
it is! (_producing a small casket_). It looks as if there was a young
man inside--I mean a portrait--doesn't it?

BART. You've not opened it? (_eagerly_).

JOSEPHINE. No! That's for Aunt Martha to do!

BART. Surely you would not betray your sister's secret--perhaps her
happiness?

JOSEPHINE. Much she cared about _mine,_ didn't she? Aunt Martha must
and shall see it! (_going; BARTON stops her, the box falls on stage
and opens_). There! there! how clumsy you are!

BART. (_picks up the box, and then suddenly starting_). What do I see?

JOSEPHINE. That's what I want to know! It _is_ a portrait, isn't it?

BART. (_confused_). Yes!--no! a mere fancy sketch, nothing more!
(_taking miniature from box, and hastily concealing it in his
breast-pocket_). Be persuaded by me! replace the box where you found
it! (_giving box to her_).

JOSEPHINE. Mayn't I take just one little peep?--not that I've an atom
of curiosity!

BART. No, no!

JOSEPHINE. Well, if you insist on it.

BART. I do not _insist,_ I beg, _implore_ of you.

JOSEPHINE. Very well! (_hurries out at R. H._).

BART. (_watching her out, then taking miniature out and looking at
it_). My portrait! and what is written here? (_Reading._) "From
memory." What am I to think? Can I dare to hope that her indifference
was assumed--that she ever loved me--that she loves me still? Can such
happiness be mine? Dear, dear Julia. But zounds! what about Josephine?
Poor little girl! I can't marry them both! What--what is to be done?
(_walking up and down_). Will anybody tell me what's to be done?

     _Enter ROYSTON hurriedly at C._

ROYS. (_coming down_). Oh, here you are! I couldn't wait any longer!
(_following BARTON up and down_).

BART. (_impatiently_). Don't worry! don't bother!

ROYS. (_astonished_). Bother! when I want to thank you for introducing
me to this charming, amiable family, and to tell you I don't despair
of becoming one of it!

BART. What?

ROYS. In a word, I'm in love! There's no mistake about it! Over head
and ears in love!

BART. What, sir? you persist in carrying on this absurd, ridiculous
joke?

ROYS. Joke?

BART. Yes, sir; I beg to tell you I'll not allow, I'll not permit you
to annoy poor dear Julia--I mean Miss Templeton--with your unwelcome
attentions, sir--your absurd importunities, sir?

ROYS. Miss Templeton? My dear fellow, she's nothing whatever to do
with it! It's the other! the little one!

BART. (_joyfully_). Josephine?

ROYS. Yes.

BART. My dear fellow! Come to my arms! (_throwing his arms about
ROYSTON, who struggles_). I congratulate you! I give you joy! Such a
sweet, charming, amiable creature, brimful of talent, overflowing with
tenderness. Come to my arms again! (_embracing ROYSTON again_).

ROYS. Then you'll speak for me--eh?

BART. Speak for yourself--here she comes.

     _Enter JOSEPHINE hurriedly at R._

JOSEPHINE (_stopping on seeing ROYSTON_). Mr. Royston.

BART. (_aside to ROYSTON_). Now, then, speak out! don't be afraid! put
on a sentimental look.

ROYS. (_assuming a very lackadaisical look_). This sort of thing!
(_Aloud._) Miss Josephine--I--I-- (_Aside._) It's very awkward! if I
only knew how to begin.

BART. (_aside to him_). Go on!

ROYS. Pardon my frankness, but it has been impossible for me to find
myself in your charming society without being
captivated--enchanted--by your fascinations, your--

JOSEPHINE (_surprised_). I thought it was my sister who--

ROYS. So it was! but she wouldn't have me! that's why I--

BART. (_hastily aside to him_). No! that won't do!

ROYS. (_shouting_). No! that won't do!

JOSEPHINE. (_still more astonished_). And you don't hesitate to
address me in this language before-- (_pointing to BARTON_).

ROYS. Before my friend--my bosom friend--that I went to school with at
Bagnigge Wells? Why should I? It is he who encourages me--who tells me
to "go on." You told me to "go on," didn't you?

JOSEPHINE (_with intention, and looking at BARTON_). But has it never
occurred to you that you might have a rival?

ROYS. So much the better! I should make it my immediate business to
sweep him off the face of the earth!

JOSEPHINE (_to BARTON, in a sarcastic tone_). And you, sir! you can
listen with perfect calmness, indifference! Have _you_ nothing to say?

ROYS. Yes! Have _you_ nothing?--

BART. (_aside to him_). Hold _your_ tongue! (_Aloud, and with affected
solemnity._) Ah! who can anticipate events? How little do we know what
a few hours may bring forth!

ROYS. Yes! how little do we know!--

BART. (_aside to him again_). Hold your tongue! (_Aloud._) In a word,
what if circumstances compel me to leave England for a considerable
time?

JOSEPHINE. A considerable time?

BART. Yes; for two years at least--possibly more!

JOSEPHINE. Two or three years?

BART. Could I venture to hope that you would submit to such a tax on
your goodness--your patience?

JOSEPHINE (_very quickly_). I should think not, indeed!

BART. (_aside_). She doesn't love me! Huzza! (_Aloud._) What course
is, then, open to me? One--only one: to sacrifice myself to the
happiness of my friend!

ROYS. (_grasping his hand_). Glorious creature!

JOSEPHINE. But what about your _own_ happiness? It isn't likely you
could give me up so quietly without some _other_ reason--some _other_
motive!

BART. I have _another_ motive, which for your sister's sake you will
respect! In a word, that portrait--

JOSEPHINE. In Julia's box? Yes. Well?

BART. Was _mine!_ See! (_taking out portrait and showing it_).

JOSEPHINE (_exclaiming_). Yours? It is!

ROYS. Yours? It is! (_bewildered_).

JOSEPHINE. Then--then _you_ are her young man, after all?

ROYS. Yes. You are her young man--

JOSEPHINE. Of course; now I understand. Now I see it all.

ROYS. So do I! No, I don't! At least, not _quite._

     _Enter COLONEL hurriedly at C._

COL. (_singing as he comes in_). "See, the conquering hero comes."
Victory! victory! Everything's settled; and now, my dear young friends
(_shaking BARTON'S and JOSEPHINE'S hands_), you can get married as
soon as you like.

JOSEPHINE. }
           }
BART.      } (_together_). Married?
           }
ROYS.      }

COL. Yes! I had a devil of a fight for it, but I've carried the day!
Aunt Martha consents, Julia consents, everybody consents!

ROYS. I beg your pardon! _I_ don't! (_Shouting_). I forbid the banns!

     _Enter MRS. TEMPLETON, followed by JULIA, at R. H._

JULIA (_aside, as she sees BARTON_). Still here!

JOSEPHINE. So, Aunt Martha, you've given your consent? And you, too,
Julia?

JULIA (_endeavoring to conceal her emotion_). Yes, Josephine,
willingly, gladly! Can I be indifferent to your happiness? (_smiling
sadly_).

JOSEPHINE (_aside_). How bravely she bears herself! (_Aloud._) And
yet, just now, you were so indignant, so angry with me?

JULIA. A momentary caprice, an unworthy jealousy!--but no more of
that. Kiss me, dear sister! (_kissing JOSEPHINE and moving away_).

JOSEPHINE (_aside_). A tear? But you won't suffer long, poor dear
martyr! (_Suddenly bursting into loud laughter._) Ha! ha! ha! (_Aside
to COLONEL._) Laugh!

COL. (_forcing laugh_). Ha! ha! ha! (_Aside._) Laugh!

ROYS. (_very loud_). Ha! ha! ha! (_Aside._) I don't know what I'm
laughing about.

MRS. T. What _is_ the matter?

JOSEPHINE (_laughing again_). Ha! ha! ha! You don't mean to say you've
all been taken in? Did you think we were in earnest all the time? Ha!
ha! ha! (_Aside to COLONEL._) Laugh!

COL. Ha! ha! ha!

ROYS. (_very loud_). Ha! ha! ha!

MRS. T. (_impatiently_). Josephine, I insist on your explaining this
extraordinary behavior instantly!

JOSEPHINE. Nothing so simple. (_To COLONEL and BARTON._) There's no
necessity for our carrying on this innocent little _jest_ any longer,
is there?

MRS. T. Jest?

JOSEPHINE. Yes; this harmless conspiracy to make everybody happy!
Julia dear, it was to test your love for me that I pretended to be so
very anxious to get married, which I wasn't the least little bit in
the world (_with a sly look at ROYSTON_). I mean I wasn't _then!_ My
fellow-conspirator, Mr. Barton, fearing that your rejection of him
might proceed from a preference for another, joined in the plot, but
very unwillingly, for it is you, Julia, you alone, that he has ever
loved; you alone that he loves still!

MRS. T. What is it I hear?

BART. The truth, madam! (_To JULIA._) May I hope, or must I endure a
second refusal!

JULIA (_tenderly_). I suffered too much from the first, Harry (_giving
her hand to BARTON_).

ROYS. (_aside_). That's _one_ couple; but there's room for another.
(_To MRS. TEMPLETON._) Madam, I have the honor to solicit the hand of
your younger niece, Miss Josephine!

MRS. T. With all my heart, Mr. Royston; that is, unless Josephine
objects.

JOSEPHINE (_quickly_). But she doesn't! (_giving her hand to
ROYSTON_).

BART. You see, Jonathan will be satisfied, after all.

ROYS. Yes. But poor Sophia (_sighing_).

BART. Hush! (_Aside to JULIA, and slipping the portrait into her
hand._) You'll put this portrait back in its place.

JOSEPHINE. She won't care to look at it, now that she's got the
_original._

     THE CURTAIN FALLS.



PEPPERPOT'S LITTLE PETS!

_In One Act._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

JACK PEPPERPOT, late H. M. 147th Foot.

DOCTOR JACOBUS JOGTROT.

MR. CHRISTOPHER CHIRPER.

STEPHEN BLUNT.

MRS. TARLETAN.

JESSIE (her niece).

MARTHA (a servant).

SCENE.--Mrs. Tarletan's Villa at Hampstead.

_Elegantly furnished room at MRS. TARLETAN'S villa. French windows at
back showing garden beyond; doors R. H. 3 E. and L.; fireplace at
L. H. 2 E.; table, chairs, sofa, etc. MARTHA discovered arranging
furniture, etc._ (_bell heard without_).

MARTHA. There's the gate bell beginning. Butcher for orders, I
suppose. (_Bell heard again._) I thought so; he's the most impatient
young man I ever came across! Asked me if I'd marry him only yesterday
morning when he called for orders, and was quite saucy because I
hadn't made up my mind when he brought the meat! I must go and ask
missus. (_Exit door R. JACK PEPPERPOT is seen to cross at back beyond
the French windows; looks cautiously in at C._).

JACK. No one to be seen; so much the better. (_Calling off._) Now
then, Blunt, come along! take care how you turn the corner; that'll
do. (_Enters at C., walking backward, closely followed by STEPHEN
BLUNT, in an undress military jacket and cap, carrying a box covered
with Chinese characters._) Left wheel! halt. (_Takes box carefully
from BLUNT and places it on small table--opens lid._) Nothing broken,
I hope. No; I don't even see a chip!

BLUNT. That's a wonder, too, your honor! cups and saucers is rather a
delicate sort of cargo to bring all the way from China.

JACK (_looking at watch_). Nine o'clock! I wonder if my dear,
excellent old aunt is still indulging in a horizontal position? We
reached town so late last night, I was afraid to disturb the dear old
soul. (_Looking round him._) Blunt, it strikes me we shall find our
quarters here very comfortable--eh? (_falling into chair and
stretching out his legs_).

BLUNT. I think so too, your honor (_imitating JACK, then jumping up
again and saluting_). Beg pardon, your honor! but when you say our
quarters--

JACK. I _mean_ our quarters! You wouldn't think of leaving me, you
brute, would you? Haven't we spent the last ten years of our lives
together--more or less respectably?--and if I _have_ got back to Old
England again, sound in wind and limb, who have I to thank? who but
you, you fine faithful old dog you (_laying his hand on BLUNT'S
shoulder_).

BLUNT (_deprecatingly_). Oh! oh!

JACK. If _you_ forget a certain sabre cut I received at the Alma, _I_
don't.

BLUNT. Oh! oh! just a little bit of a scratch.

JACK. Exactly; a little bit of a scratch that began at the top of my
head and finished at the tip of my nose! I was lying on my back faint
and sick, when a noble, lion-hearted fellow cut his way through the
Russian cavalry at the risk of his life, the idiot, threw me across
his horse, and saved me! That noble, lion-hearted idiot was Stephen
Blunt--bless him! But enough of the past! By-the-bye, Blunt, as long
as you are stationed here you must make it a point of finding
everybody and everything about you charming, delightful--in short,
first chop!

BLUNT (_touching his cap_). All right, your honor!

MRS. TARLETAN (_heard without_). If I am wanted, Martha, you'll find
me in the garden.

JACK. Here comes my aunt; beat a retreat--quick, anywhere.

     [_BLUNT hurries out at L. H._

     _Enter MRS. TARLETAN at R._

MRS. T. (_seeing JACK_). A stranger?

JACK (_smiling_). Not quite. (_Going to her._) Don't you know me,
_aunt?_

MRS. T. Eh? (_Suddenly._) Jack dear, dear boy! (_JACK clasps her in
his arms_). Kiss me again, Jack.

JACK. Again and again till you tell me to leave off (_kissing her
again_).

MRS. T. Let me look at you (_holding his head between her hands_). It
is ten long years since I have seen you, my darling boy: and has it
come back from China, a dear?

JACK. It has--all the way!

MRS. T. (_pulling his cheek affectionately_). And is it glad to get
home?

JACK. Is it? _ain't_ it? Ah! after knocking about the world for ten
years, you don't know how happy a fellow feels in getting back to his
aunt and having his cheeks pulled about. By-the-bye, aunt, what d'ye
think?--what with my prize-money, the sale of my commission, and one
thing and the other, I find I've managed to scrape together a matter
of £10,000.

MRS. T. Ten thousand? that's a large sum of money, my dear.

JACK. An awful lot, isn't it? the puzzle is, what I'm to do with it.

MRS. T. My advice is, invest in land; they say "Stick to the land, and
the land will stick to you."

JACK. I know _mud_ will--at least it did in the Crimea.

MRS. T. My dear Jack, do be serious! Now that you are worth £500 a
year--

JACK. Five hundred a year! I shall never spend the half of it.

MRS. T. Then get a _wife_ to help you.

JACK. A wife! me? what for?--why, my dear aunt, here are no end of
clever people complaining of the over-population of the country, and
you want me to-- (_Shaking his head._) No, no!

MRS. T. Well, well, we'll say no more about it; though it's a pity--a
great pity!

JACK. A pity! what do you mean?

MRS. T. Nothing! a fancy, a dream of mine--that's all.

     (_JESSIE is heard singing a snatch of a song without--runs in
     from R. H._)

JESSIE (_running to MRS. TARLETAN and kissing her_). Good-morning,
aunty dear. (_Suddenly, seeing JACK._) A stranger! Really, sir--I--I--
(_Courtesying._)

JACK (_bowing to JESSIE_). So do I, I'm sure, miss! very much indeed.

MRS. T. (_smiling_). "Sir" and "miss?" Why, Jack, have you forgotten
Jessie?

JACK. Eh? what? little Jessie!

JESSIE. Cousin Jack!

JACK (_taking both JESSIE'S hands_). Dear, dear, when I remember what
a tiny little mite you were ten years ago! about so high! (_measuring
about a foot_). Why, I used to teach you A B C, didn't I? And now I
suppose you're quite an accomplished young lady?

JESSIE. Tolerably so, I hope, cousin.

JACK. Then you deserve a prize; and here it is (_opening box on table,
takes out a fan and presents it to JESSIE_). The reward of merit.

JESSIE. Oh, what a beautiful Chinese fan! Oh, thank you, cousin!

JACK. And perhaps our good aunt will give us our tea tonight out of
her new porcelain service (_showing contents of box_).

MRS. T. A present for me, too! So you found time to think of me, dear
boy?

JACK. Think of you! Do you remember this? (_taking small case from his
breast-pocket and opening it_).

MRS. T. My photograph?

JACK. Which you gave me the night before I left England. You've never
left me! You've shared all my hardships, all my dangers, all my
triumphs! Didn't we enter Pekin together, sword in hand?

MRS. T. (_smiling_). _I_ enter Pekin!

JACK. Yes; rolled up in three of my flannel waistcoats to protect you.

JESSIE. Oh, Cousin Jack, I do so long to hear all your adventures.

JACK. Then you shall have them; not all at once; mustn't be greedy,
little girl. Now for it. (_They seat themselves._) Ahem! (_in an
impressive tone_). In order to make a first-rate brick--

MRS. T. _and_ JESSIE. A brick?

JACK. Don't interrupt me! I repeat, in order to make a first-rate
brick they put it on the kiln and bake it. Well, in order to make a
first-rate soldier they send him to India and bake _him_--that was my
case.

MRS. T. Well, from India you went to the Crimea?

JACK. Yes; there I took to rum, diluted with snowballs and gunpowder.

JESSIE. Poor Cousin! how you must have suffered!

JACK. Tolerably; but we ate well--when we'd got anything to eat--and
slept well when we hadn't to keep awake.

JESSIE. And you were never wounded?

JACK. Nothing to speak of. I got rather a warm one at the Alma, but
luckily it was on the head.

JESSIE. Cousin Jack, I really feel quite proud of you! that I do.

JACK. Then allow me to thank you in the name of the British Army;
allow the British Army to salute you! (_Kisses her. JESSIE joins MRS.
TARLETAN, who has gone a few steps up the stage._)

JACK (_looking after JESSIE, and aside_). A remarkably nice little
body. If ever I _should_ marry, I really--

JESSIE (_to MRS. TARLETAN, as they come forward_). No, indeed, aunt,
there's no necessity for anything of the kind.

MRS. T. I beg your pardon, my dear. Jack is one of the family.

JACK. Of course I am! What's the matter?

MRS. T. Well, the fact is, we are not unlikely soon to find a husband
for Jessie!

JACK. A husband! Who is he? what is he?

MRS. T. I only know that he is a _protégé_ of Doctor Jogtrot.

JACK. And who's Jogtrot?

MRS. T. Jessie's guardian; a retired physician--a very eminent man in
the scientific world.

JACK. Oh! ah! (_Aside._) Confound Jogtrot!

     _MARTHA appears at C., followed by DOCTOR JOGTROT._

MARTHA (_announcing_). Doctor Jogtrot. (_Disappears._)

     _Enter DOCTOR JOGTROT at C.; black costume--white cravat, etc._

JOGTROT (_to MRS. TARLETAN_). Pardon me, madam, if I am late.

MRS. T. Don't apologize, doctor. (_Introducing._) My nephew, Captain
Pepperpot--Doctor Jogtrot (_JOGTROT bows ceremoniously to JACK, who
gives him a familiar nod in return_).

JOGTROT. I merely precede my esteemed young friend Mr. Chirper by a
few minutes. Need I say I should not presume to present him as a
competitor for the hand of this charming young lady (_bowing to
JESSIE_), had I not discovered in his person qualities of the most
solid description.

JACK. Solid--eh? I see! inclined to be stout--eh?

JOGTROT (_after a stare at JACK, and turning to MRS. T. again_). In
fact, I am proud to say that Mr. Chirper is, in the strictest sense of
the word, a serious young man!

JACK (_aside_). Wheugh! I sha'n't be able to stand much more of
Jogtrot! I feel I sha'n't.

MRS. T. No doubt I shall grieve to part with Jessie; but as my nephew
has left the army, I shall not be entirely alone.

JOGTROT (_to JACK_). You are a military man, sir?

JACK (_who has been showing a gradual irritation_). I _was_--till I
left the army.

JOGTROT. Left the army? Allow me to congratulate you on your having
done so, sir!

JACK (_trying to keep cool_). May I ask _why?_

JOGTROT (_in a supercilious tone_). Because, between ourselves, sir, I
consider the military profession--

JACK (_bristling up_). Well, sir, what about the military profession?
Anything to say _against_ the military profession? (_advancing on
JOGTROT, who retreats_).

MRS. T. (_aside to JACK_). Don't be so pugnacious, Jack! Recollect,
you're not at the siege of Sebastopol now!

JOGTROT (_overhearing them, eagerly_). The siege of Sebastopol?

MRS. T. Yes, doctor, my nephew was there during the whole campaign!

JOGTROT (_to JACK_). Now, sir, it may be in your power to furnish me
with the most interesting statistical information. Can you form any
tolerable accurate estimate of the number of projectiles of various
kinds and dimensions discharged from the Russian batteries from the
beginning of the siege to the end?

JACK. Frankly, my dear sir, I'm ashamed to say I never thought of
counting them. (_Aside to MRS. TARLETAN._) I wish to speak with all
possible respect of this retired chemist and druggist of yours, but
he's simply an inflated idiot!

JOGTROT. But to return to Mr. Chirper.

JACK. Yes, give us a little more about Dicky!

JOGTROT (_astonished_). Dicky?

JACK. Yes, same thing! Chirpers are all Dickies--Dickies, Chirpers,
don't you see? Go on!

     _MARTHA, entering at L._

MARTHA. A gentleman, ma'am, sent in his card (_giving card to MRS.
TARLETAN_).

MRS. T. (_reading_). "Mr. Christopher Chirper." Show the gentleman in.
(_MARTHA goes to C., shows in CHIRPER, and then exits._)

     _Enter CHIRPER, in a similar costume to JOGTROT._

JOGTROT (_meeting CHIRPER, and handing him forward and presenting
him_). Allow me, Mrs. Tarletan--Mr. Christopher Chirper. Miss
Jessie--Mr. Christopher Chirper. (_To JACK._) Sir, Mr. Christopher
Chirper. (_CHIRPER bows very solemnly to each._)

JACK (_aside_). A cheerful-looking youth, very! one part waiter, three
parts undertaker!

MRS. T. (_to CHIRPER_). The flattering terms in which Dr. Jogtrot has
spoken of you more than suffice to insure you a hearty welcome!

CHIRP. (_bowing_). I trust, madam, I may merit the favorable opinion
of my distinguished friend! Permit me to say, I am not one of those
giddy, thoughtless butterflies who consume their mental and moral
faculties in mundane futilities.

JACK (_after a long stare at CHIRPER--then aside_). He's not a man,
he's a tract. (_Aside to JESSIE, as he goes towards table._) Lively
boy, isn't he, Jessie? (_Sits and turns over leaves of an album._)

CHIRP. My mode of life is simplicity itself. I rise at seven--

JACK. Oh, confound it!--hang it!--dash it! (_turning over leaves
rapidly_).

CHIRP. Breakfast at eight--a slice of bread, a cup of milk; that
constitutes my heartiest meal. I then walk for an hour in the square;
dine at six.

JACK (_who has come down again_). Another cup of milk? You ought to
keep a cow, Chirper, in the square.

CHIRP. I then plunge into my favorite studies, till I retire to my
pillow. Such is my life, madam.

JACK. And a very jolly one, too, I should say, Chirper.

CHIRP. Ladies, I must now request permission to retire. I am due at
the Philotechnic Institution.

MRS. T. (_to CHIRPER_). You'll return to luncheon, I hope?

JACK. Of course he will. (_To CHIRPER._) Of course you will
(_thrusting CHIRPER'S hat and umbrella into his hands_). I'll see
there's an extra ha'porth of milk taken in for you (_putting CHIRPER'S
hat on his head_).

     [_CHIRPER and  JOGTROT bow to JESSIE and exeunt at C., MRS.
     TARLETAN going up stage with them._

MRS. T. (_coming down_). A very, very agreeable young man indeed.

JESSIE (_satirically_). Yes; so remarkably sprightly.

JACK. With about as much humor in him as a damp umbrella.

MRS. T. (_a little nettled_). I repeat, Mr. Chirper is a very
agreeable person. I would put it to anybody--to the very first comer.

JACK. Would you? That's a bargain (_seeing BLUNT, who appears at C._).
There's my man, Stephen Blunt--he'll do; you said the first comer.
Here, Blunt (_BLUNT advances_), tell me what's your opinion of the
gentleman who has just gone?

BLUNT (_aside to JACK, knowingly_). All right, captain, I haven't
forgot. (_Aloud._) Well, sir, I think he's charming, delightful,
first-chop.

JACK (_quickly_). No, no! I mean the other--the young one.

BLUNT. Well, sir, I think he's first-chop, too.

JACK. Ugh! triple dolt, brute, idiot. (_BLUNT about to speak._)
Silence! get out! Stop, come and dress me! Ugh! pudding-head (_shakes
his fist at BLUNT and hurries out L. H., followed by BLUNT_).

MRS. T. Why, what's the matter with the boy? such a temper all of a
sudden.

JESSIE (_pouting_). No wonder; he sees well enough that you're tired
of me--that you want to get rid of me--that you--oh! oh! oh!

     [_Runs out crying at R._

MRS. T. (_astonished_). There's some mystery here I must clear up.
Jessie! Jessie!

     [_Hastens out after JESSIE at R._

JACK (_without, at L. H., very loud and angrily_). Hold your tongue!
don't answer me! don't be insolent!--there, there! (_Enters hurriedly
from L. H._) Wheugh! I'm better now I've let off some of the steam!
ha, ha! Poor old Blunt (_stopping suddenly_). Stop, there's nothing to
laugh at. I know I was a little bit out of temper--whose fault but his
if I was?--with his infernal "first-chop;" but I'd no business to
strike the poor fellow, with my foot especially; I ought to be ashamed
of myself. _Ought_ to be? I _am!_ Here he comes (_seeing BLUNT, who
enters at L. H., looking pale and serious; after a little hesitation
JACK walks up to him_). Stephen Blunt, I ask your pardon; there,
that's settled; now shake hands (_holds out his hand; BLUNT looks
away_). I'm sorry, Blunt, _very_ sorry; would you like to kick _me?_
or shall I kick myself? I'll try if you like!

BLUNT. I'd rather you had blown my brains out, captain. If any other
man in the world had--had--you know what I mean--I'd have knocked him
down.

JACK (_quietly_). Then knock _me_ down!

BLUNT. As you are _now,_ sir? no! but in a fair stand-up fight I
would!--at least I'd try!

JACK (_with sudden excitement_). What's that? Stand-up fight? this
sort of thing? (_sparring and hitting out_).

BLUNT (_with a broad grin_). That's it, sir! If you'd only just let me
knock you about for a round or two, I should feel like a man again!

JACK (_aside_). I rather like this! I do, by Jove! There's some fun in
having one's head punched by one's servant! (_Aloud._) All right, old
boy! you shall have satisfaction after your own fashion! Look out for
some nice quiet spot, and in ten minutes' time we'll have it out; in
the mean time, mum, not a word.

     [_BLUNT runs out at C., rubbing his hands in high glee._

JACK (_after a pause_). I'd better by half have stopped in China! I
can't stop _here!_ I can't look quietly on--probably with my eye
bunged up--and see the woman I love married to a Dicky! No, no; I'll
pack up at once!

     (_MRS. TARLETAN and JESSIE have entered R. H. during the above._)

MRS. T. (_overhearing_). Pack up?

JACK. Yes, aunt. I'm off--good-by!

MRS. T. Off? Where--where?

JACK. I don't know; somewhere or other--if not there, somewhere else.
Good-by!

MRS. T. John Pepperpot, you are deceiving me! I want the truth! you
hear, sir, the _truth!_

JACK. Do you? then you shall have it! I love Jessie--there! now you've
got it!

JESSIE (_joyously_). You hear, aunty? He loves me; _me_ whom you are
about to sacrifice--to immolate! (_in a tragic tone_).

JACK. On the altar of a Chirper! (_in a similar tone_).

JESSIE. It's cruel!

JACK. Barbarous!

JESSIE. Inhuman!

JACK. Savage!

MRS. T. (_who has been trying to speak_). Will you let me speak? (_To
JACK._) You say you love Jessie?

JACK. Awfully!

MRS. T. Well--unless, indeed, Jessie objects--

JESSIE (_very quietly_). But I don't!

MRS. T. In that case, the sooner you get married the better!

JESSIE. Oh, you kindest, best of aunties! (_kissing her_).

MRS. T. Well, Jack, have _you_ nothing to say to me?

JACK. Only this: that you can't form the faintest idea what a trump
you are!

MRS. T. (_suddenly_). But what about poor Mr. Chirper? He'll be here
presently.

JACK. Of course, the sooner we put Dicky's pipe out the better.

MRS. T. I will speak to Dr. Jogtrot myself, and beg him to break the
intelligence to his young friend.

JACK. Very well (_seeing BLUNT, who crosses at back_). Blunt, by Jove!
(_Exchanges a sign with BLUNT, who disappears._) Excuse me for a few
minutes--I'll be back directly (_hurries up towards C., running
against JOGTROT, who enters_). Beg pardon. (_Aside to him._) My aunt's
got a little bit of news for you that'll rather astonish your upper
works.

     [_Runs out at C._

MRS. T. You had better retire, Jessie. (_Aside to her._) Leave
everything to me!

     [_JESSIE exits at R. H._

JOGTROT. It seems, my dear lady, you have a communication to make to
me?

MRS. T. I have; a very important one! I have just made a discovery
which I confess has given me the greatest possible pleasure. In a
word, my nephew loves Jessie, and Jessie loves my nephew!

JOGTROT (_very quietly_). In other words, Mr. Chirper is expected to
resign his pretensions in your nephew's favor?

MRS. T. Exactly!

JOGTROT. My answer, madam, will be brief! I presented Mr. Chirper as a
candidate for the hand of your niece, and, _my_ word, you received him
graciously. I cannot, therefore, become an accomplice in your
inconsistency, not to say _caprice!_

MRS. T. (_impatiently_). But don't I tell you the young people _love_
each other?

JOGTROT (_very quietly_). What of that?

MRS. T. (_indignantly_). What of that?

JOGTROT. I myself have loved, madam!

MRS. T. But perhaps the lady did not love you in return?

JOGTROT. She did, madam, intensely! and married her dancing-master!

MRS. T. (_in a compassionate tone_). Dear, dear! Of course you were
inconsolable!

JOGTROT. No, madam, I went in for trigonometry, and that cured me! Why
should your nephew not do the same?

MRS. T. Jack go in for trigonometry? ha! ha! Come, my dear doctor,
you'll explain the state of affairs to Mr. Chirper, won't you?
(_coaxingly_).

JOGTROT (_very stiffly_). Certainly not, madam!

MRS. T. (_angrily_). Then _I_ will--and in the mean time I beg to
assure you that I consider you a very uncivil, unamiable, and
intensely disagreeable person!

     [_Exit at L. H._

JOGTROT. Umph! a decided check for Chirper--who, if he loses the young
lady, will also lose the thousand pounds I owe him. But it isn't
necessarily check_mate._ No, no! as the young lady's legal guardian I
shall have something to say yet!

     _Enter JACK hastily at C., putting on his coat._

JACK (_laughing as he enters_). Ha! ha! poor old Blunt! he soon had
enough of it! (_Seeing DOCTOR._) Well, you've seen my aunt--eh? She
rather astonished you, didn't she? But really, now (_taking JOGTROT'S
arm familiarly_), you never thought your man had the ghost of a
chance, did you?

JOGTROT. My man?

JACK. Yes, Dicky! here he is! (_going up to meet CHIRPER, who enters
at C._). (_Aside to him._) Our intellectual friend has something to
tell you! Be a man, Dicky (_slapping him on the back_). It's no use
crying over spilt milk, my Trojan!

     [_Exit at C., CHIRPER staring after him in astonishment._

JOGTROT (_aside_). There are circumstances under which a fib becomes a
duty. (_Aloud, and grasping CHIRPER'S hand._) I congratulate you,
she's yours! At least she will be!

CHIRPER (_very quietly_). Oh, joyful tidings.

JOGTROT. But it is possible you may have a rival.

CHIRPER (_very quietly again_). Oh, maddening thought!

JOGTROT. But follow my advice and you shall win her yet. Never leave
her side! say all sorts of tender things to her. By-the-bye, have you
brought her a bouquet? No! Then go and get one--the bigger the better.
Go at once--recollect, the bigger the better (_hurrying CHIRPER up
stage, who goes out at C., shouting after him_)--the bigger the
better!

JOGTROT (_coming down--then suddenly_). By no means a bad idea of
mine; at any rate, it's well worth the trial! Surely this fire-eating
captain must have _some_ blemish--_some_ small vice or other, I don't
care _how_ small. I'll undertake to stretch it as far as it will go!
Here comes his servant; I may be able to squeeze something out of
_him._

     _Enter BLUNT at C., one of his cheeks very swollen._

JOGTROT (_beckoning BLUNT_). Here, my worthy creature! I wish to speak
to you. (_BLUNT touches his cap and advances._) A swollen face, I see!
Toothache?

BLUNT. No, sir. I'll tell you how it was. _I_ makes a feint with my
left (_hitting out, JOGTROT skips back_), when slap comes a
right-hander straight from the elbow (_hitting out again, JOGTROT
skips back again_), and catches me bang on the--

JOGTROT. Yes; yes! exactly; but tell me, have you been long with your
gallant master?

BLUNT. Better than ten years, sir!

JOGTROT. The more to your credit, my fine fellow! here's a sovereign
(_gives money_).

BLUNT. Thankee, sir! (_Aside._) What's his little game, I wonder?

JOGTROT. I like the captain! I like him much! Rather a lively temper,
perhaps; a little bit quarrelsome--eh? slightly pugnacious--umph!--and
a sad fellow among the women, I'm afraid! Ha! ha! ha! (_poking BLUNT
in the side_).

BLUNT. Who? Master? Not he! Only bring him face to face with a pretty
wench, and see if he don't stand there a-stammering and blushing like
any big lubberly school-boy.

JOGTROT (_aside_). The scoundrel _won't_ speak! (_Aloud._) I gave you
a sovereign just now; oblige me by getting it changed for me.

BLUNT (_aside_). So, so. Wanted to pump me, did he? I'll bring him a
pound's worth of coppers!

     [_Goes up, meets JACK, who enters at C., stops and whispers JACK,
     pointing to JOGTROT, then exit at C._

JACK. So, so! my serious friend, you not only, as my aunt tells me,
refuse to withdraw your man, but you've been pumping Blunt about me,
have you? (_touching JOGTROT on the shoulder_). You can spare me time
for half a dozen words? Thank you (_very quietly_). It seems you are
not over and above anxious that I should marry my cousin? (_very
quietly_).

JOGTROT. Frankly, I am _not!_

JACK (_still very quietly_). May I ask _why?_

JOGTROT (_aside_). He doesn't seem very explosive. I'll go it a bit!
(_Aloud._) In the first place, from my limited acquaintance with
military men, I confess--I--(_shrugging his shoulders_).

JACK (_still very quietly_). Well, sir?

JOGTROT (_aside_). He doesn't seem _at all_ explosive! I'll go it
another _bit._ (_Aloud._) And although you have left the army, you can
scarcely have failed to contract certain habits and pursuits, which,
in my opinion, are more or less antagonistic to happiness in the
married state!

JACK (_aside_). I'm getting the fidgets in my right leg! (_Aloud._) In
short, you look upon me as a decidedly disreputable person? (_with
difficulty restraining his passion_).

JOGTROT (_alarmed and very quickly_). I didn't say so! (_Aside._) I
sha'n't go it any more bits. (_Aloud._) But _seriously!_ you don't,
you _can't_ really believe you love your cousin? You've only just
returned from China.

JACK. What of that, as long as I didn't leave my heart behind me?

JOGTROT. Still, this sudden, _very_ sudden, _remarkably_ sudden
attachment, some people might be ill-natured enough to--to--to--

JACK (_with increasing impatience_). When you've quite done
"to--to--toing," perhaps you'll get on.

JOGTROT. I repeat, some people might attribute to the lady's
_fortune,_ rather than to the lady herself (_with intention_).

JACK. Fortune? What, Jessie? (_After a short pause._) Well, so much
the better! Not that I was aware of it.

JOGTROT (_smiling significantly_). Oh, you were _not aware_ of it, eh?

JACK (_checking his anger_). I have said so once, sir!

JOGTROT (_smiling satirically_). Yes, you _said_ so, certainly!

JACK (_gulping down his anger, and very quietly_). Have you quite
done? Then suppose we change the conversation! Now, if the thing were
properly put to you, which do you think you would prefer?--having your
nose pulled (_JOGTROT retreats_), a sound horse-whipping (_JOGTROT
takes another jump backward_), or a good kicking (_swinging his right
leg about; JOGTROT rushes out at C._).

JACK. Ha! ha! ha! (_Suddenly stopping._) Zounds! these infernal little
pets of mine will be the ruin of me! Of course he'll tell aunt--she'll
scold--Jessie'll blubber--so shall I--at least I'll try. Our marriage
will be-- But he can't have left the house yet! I'll run after him!
Memorandum for the future--when you feel a sudden impulse to strangle
a man, _do_ it.

     [_Runs out at C. after JOGTROT._

     _Enter MRS. TARLETAN and JESSIE, followed by JOGTROT._

MRS. T. Surely, doctor, you must be mistaken? the thing is impossible!

JOGTROT. I grieve to say I have it from the best authority! an
eye-witness. Half an hour ago, almost under this very roof, your
nephew was engaged in a low, vulgar, disreputable, pugilistic
encounter with his own servant!

MRS. T. A pugilistic encounter? But the reason?--the motive?

JOGTROT (_with malicious intention_). Is perhaps not very difficult to
guess! Your waiting-woman, my informant, is a very comely young
person; both master and man _may_ have noticed it too--young men
_will_ be young men--a little _jealousy_ perhaps? (_MRS. TARLETAN
hastily rings small bell which is on the table._)

     _Enter MARTHA at R. H._

MRS. T. Come here, Martha! You have informed Doctor Jogtrot that you
witnessed a scene recently, which I need not describe, between Captain
Pepperpot and his servant. Is this true?

MARTHA. Yes, ma'am; they were hard at it, ma'am, behind the
summer-house, ma'am, a fisticuffing one another (_imitating
absurdly_).

MRS. T. Tell me, has this man--Blunt, I think, is his name--ever given
you reason to think he--admires you?

MARTHA. Only so far as saying I was a niceish sort of girl! But lots
have told me _that!_

JESSIE (_very eagerly_). And--his _master_--perhaps _he_ may have--

MARTHA. Well, miss, the captain has certainly chucked me under the
chin once or twice, but lots have done _that!_

MRS. T. You can go, Martha!

     [_Exit MARTHA at R. H._

JESSIE. Oh, auntie, this is dreadful! I never could have believed it
of Jack! never! (_stops on a sign from MRS. TARLETAN, who sees JACK
enter at L. H._).

JACK (_as he enters hurriedly_). Can't find him anywhere. (_Seeing
JOGTROT._) So, so! he's stolen a march on me. (_Aside to MRS.
TARLETAN._) Aunty, I suspect our serious friend here has been giving
you _his_ version of a certain little trumpery affair that--that--

MRS. T. (_coldly_). He _has!_

JACK. Well, I confess I _was_ just a trifle hasty! One of my little
pets, you know; but if you only knew the provocation--

MRS. T. (_satirically_). We _do_ know the provocation!

JESSIE (_imitating MRS. TARLETAN'S tone_). Yes, we _do_ know the
provocation!

MRS. T. Come with me, doctor! We must have a little
conversation--_serious_ conversation!

JOGTROT. At your service, my dear madam. (_Aside._) I wonder how our
gallant friend feels _now!_

     [_Exit at C. with MRS. TARLETAN, JACK staring after them
     bewildered._

JACK. Jessie!

JESSIE (_very dignified_). Sir!

JACK (_astonished_). "Sir!" What's the matter? You seem
annoyed--vexed.

JESSIE. I am!

JACK. Will you tell me why?

JESSIE (_with comic severity_). Ask your conscience, young man!

     _Enter MARTHA at C., carrying an enormous bouquet._

MARTHA. This beautiful nosegay, miss--just come--with Mr. Chirper's
compliments.

     [_Gives nosegay, and exit R. H._

JESSIE. What a lovely bouquet! How very polite of Mr. Chirper!

JACK (_sulkily_). There's plenty of it; looks more like a bunch of
greens! Of course, Jessie, you won't accept it?

JESSIE (_coldly_). Why not? I'm fond of flowers!

JACK. Yes, but you're not fond of Dicky! Come, Jessie, you'll return
that bunch of greens--I mean that nosegay--to Mr. Chirper, won't you?

JESSIE (_pretending to admire the flowers_). Certainly not!

JACK (_checking his rising anger_). Take care, Jessie! I ask you once
again!

JESSIE. I shall keep it!

JACK (_tenderly_). Jessie!--cousin!

JESSIE. I repeat, I shall keep it!

JACK (_furious_). You shall _not!_ (_snatching bouquet from JESSIE and
tearing it to pieces_). There, there, there! (_JESSIE screams_).

     _Enter MRS. TARLETAN at C., followed by DOCTOR JOGTROT._

JESSIE. Oh, aunty (_running to her_), and you, sir (_to JOGTROT_),
protect me from the violence of my cousin! Because Mr. Chirper sent me
a nosegay, he has snatched it from me and torn it to pieces!

JOGTROT (_advancing to JACK_). Young man, I am amazed--

JACK. Go to the devil! (_furiously; JOGTROT beats a retreat_).

MRS. T. (_sorrowfully_). Oh, Jack, Jack!

JACK. Harkee, aunt, it strikes me I've been made to play rather a
ridiculous part here. First, it's all Dicky, then it's all _me!_ Now,
it's all Dicky again! One would almost think I had been used merely as
a bait to catch a bigger fish!

MRS. T. (_reproachfully_). Oh, nephew, nephew!

JOGTROT (_advancing_). If you allude to Mr. Chirper, sir--

JACK. Damn Mr. Chirper!

     [_Hurries up, giving nosegay a violent kick, and exit L. H.,
     slamming door violently after him._

MRS. T. What a dreadful scene.

JESSIE (_half crying_). I'll never marry him!--never! never! never!
(_picking up the flowers_).

MRS. T. Reflect, Jessie, reflect!

JESSIE. I _have_ reflected (_trying to restrain her tears_). Mr.
Chirper may be a trifle _slow_--and too fond of milk--but he wouldn't
be always chucking young women under the chin--and
fisti--fisti--cutting--I mean _cuffing!_

JOGTROT. Then I may at once convey the joyful tidings to the
thrice-happy Chirper.

JESSIE. (_harshly_). Yes! yes! the sooner the better.

     [_JOGTROT hurries out at C._

MRS. T. Oh, my darling! I fear you have been too rash--too impetuous.

JESSIE. No! I--I--(_suddenly throwing herself sobbing violently into
MRS. TARLETAN'S arms_).

BLUNT (_heard without_). All right, captain!

     _Enter BLUNT at L. H., carrying a portmanteau._

MRS. T. (_to BLUNT_). Where are you taking that luggage?

BLUNT. To the nearest hotel hereabouts, ma'am. Master's off directly,
and I'm going with him!

MRS. T. Oh, then you bear him no malice?

BLUNT. Malice--me! What for, ma'am?

MRS. T. Pshaw!--in a word, I know what has lately taken place between
you.

JESSIE. Yes! the fisti--fisti--you know (_with a lame imitation of
sparring_).

MRS. T. (_with intention_). And we also know the _cause!_

BLUNT. Do you? and do you think I'd leave the captain just because of
a little--little bit of a--kicking?

MRS. T. What? Then it wasn't about--her?

BLUNT (_surprised_). Her?

JESSIE. Yes. M--Martha!

BLUNT. What! me and master fall out about a petticoat? Ha! ha! Not we!
I suppose I had offended him somehow or other, and he got into one of
his "little pets," and--struck me--_not_ with his hand, ma'am. It
nearly broke my heart. He saw it, and, like a true gentleman as he is,
he asks me, with almost tears in his eyes, to give him a good hiding,
and we sets at it at once then and there; and that's all about it,
ma'am.

MRS. T. (_suddenly_). Take that luggage away. Not a word. Remember, I
am commanding officer here! (_BLUNT makes a salute_). In the mean time
I'll see your master.

JESSIE. Yes, we'll see your master.

BLUNT. Do please, ladies; and if you'd only try just to cheer him up a
bit.

JESSIE (_eagerly_). Is he unhappy, then?

BLUNT. All I know is, as he was ramming his things into his
portmanteau with his fists--this sort of thing (_imitating_).--I saw a
great big one hanging to the tip of his nose.

JESSIE. A great big what? Not a tear?

BLUNT. Yes, miss! he said it was a cold in his head, but I know
better.

JACK (_heard from room L. H._). Blunt! Blunt!

BLUNT. Coming, sir! (_about to run to the door L. H._).

MRS. T. (_pointing to C._). That way, if you please. Remember,
obedience is the first duty of a soldier.

     [_BLUNT makes a salute, and exit at C. with portmanteau._

JESSIE. Oh, aunty! only fancy poor Jack with a tear hanging to the tip
of his great big nose--I mean, a great big tear! Why, _why_ did you
let me tell my guardian that I'd never marry Jack? _Do_ run after him,
and tell him I've changed my mind, and that I'll _never,_ never, never
marry any one else. _Do_ make haste, aunty dear. _Do_ be a little bit
impetuous like me (_during this she has urged MRS. TARLETAN towards
C._).

MRS.T. (_laughing_). Spoiled child! spoiled child! (_kisses her, and
hurries out at C._).

     _Enter JACK at door L. H., dressed in tweed travelling suit, an
     overcoat over his arm, and a small bag in his hand._

JACK (_stops on seeing JESSIE_). A thousand pardons, Jes--I mean Miss
Manvers. I expected to find my aunt.

JESSIE (_archly_). And you are disappointed at finding only _me?_

JACK (_aside_). What unseemly levity! (_Aloud._) I cannot leave her
roof without wishing her good-by.

JESSIE. Of course not--but you're not going? (_smiling_).

JACK (_assuming a very dignified manner_). I beg your pardon, _miss!_

JESSIE (_imitating JACK_). I beg yours, _sir!_

JACK. What! remain here and see you married?

JESSIE. Of course; how _can_ I get married unless you _do_ remain?

JACK (_indignantly_). You don't expect me to give Dicky away, I hope?

JESSIE. No; but I certainly _do_ expect you will give yourself away!
and to me who love you, oh, so dearly!

JACK (_throwing away his coat, etc., and clasping JESSIE in his
arms_). Jessie darling! But what--what does it all mean?

JESSIE (_very rapidly_). That I know _why_ you got fisti--fisti--you
know--with your servant; that it wasn't about Martha at all; that all
my guardian said about you was a great big story!

JACK. Oh! oh! So old Jogtrot has been poking his ugly nose into my
affairs again, has he? (_Savagely._) I'll wring it off!

JESSIE (_holding up her finger_). Now listen to me, Cousin Jack; if
you cannot and do not control that dreadfully peppery temper of
yours--

JACK (_very quickly_). But I _will!_ I swear it by--by this (_taking
small hand-bell off table_). Now, Jessie, if ever you see me getting
the least little bit frantic, you've only to--

JESSIE. I understand (_taking bell and ringing it_).

JACK. That's it!

JESSIE (_looking towards C._). Here comes my guardian; now do as I
tell you. Go over there (_pointing; JACK moves a few paces from her_);
farther than that! Now cross your arms (_JACK obeys_); look sulky!

JACK. This sort of thing? (_putting on a sulky look_).

JESSIE. Worse than that (_JACK puts on a hideous grimace_). That's
better! Now turn your back to me (_JACK obeys; JESSIE also turns her
back on JACK_).

JACK (_looking round_). Isn't there time just for one kiss?

JESSIE. No--no.

JACK. Only a tiny one!

JESSIE. Hush! (_they both hastily resume their positions back to
back_).

     _Enter JOGTROT at C._

JOGTROT (_seeing them_). Dos-à-dos! The lady pouting--the gentleman
frowning! Then the storm I contrived to raise is still at its height
(_coming down and touching JACK on the shoulder; JACK turns to him
with an intensely savage expression of face, making JOGTROT start
back_).

JOGTROT (_in a soothing tone_). Cheer up, my gallant young friend; the
sex, you know, is capricious--"sipping each flower, changing each
hour." It is sad--very sad!

JACK (_sulkily_). For _me,_ not for _you,_ who have always opposed my
marriage with my cousin.

JOGTROT. I? On the contrary, not ten minutes ago I asked her if she
had any lingering affection for you, and her answer was--

JESSIE. That I would marry Mr. Chirper.

JOGTROT. There, there! you hear?

JESSIE. Yes, but (_imitating JOGTROT_), "the sex is so capricious,"
you know--"sipping each flower, changing each hour." So now, Guardy,
I'll marry Jack, please (_bobbing a courtesy; then running to JACK,
who takes her in his arms_).

JOGTROT (_shouting_). Stop! that's all wrong (_seeing MRS. TARLETAN
and CHIRPER, who enter at C._). You're just in time, madam! There's a
gigantic, a colossal mistake here!

MRS. T. (_smiling_). A mistake? Not at all!

JOGTROT. Not at all! Am I to understand, then, madam, that after the
deplorable--scandalous scene of this morning--

MRS. T. Which has been fully explained, and will never be repeated!

JACK. Never! I've sworn it (_looking at JESSIE and pointing to the
small bell on the table_). No more tempers, no more "little pets."

JOGTROT (_aside_). One more chance! (_Aloud._) All I desire is my
ward's happiness! happiness!--poor girl! (_shrugging his shoulders and
giving a deep sigh_).

JACK (_bristling up sharply._) What's that?

JOGTROT (_sneeringly_). I believe, sir, I have already expressed my
opinion of military men--as _husbands!_

JACK (_threateningly_). Take my advice, sir, and leave military men
alone, or else-- (_JESSIE takes small bell and rings it; JACK falls
into chair laughing._)

JOGTROT. In a word--

MRS. T. Pardon me, doctor, you have said quite enough already!

JESSIE (_indignantly_) _More_ than enough, Doctor Jogtrot! (_advancing
on JOGTROT, who retreats; she follows him up_). For the last ten
minutes you've been insulting a better man than yourself, Doctor
Jogtrot!--a _far_ better man, Doctor Jogtrot!

JACK (_aside_). Halloa! here's JESSIE getting into a pet! (_takes
second small bell and rings it; JESSIE and JACK fall into chairs
roaring with laughter and ringing their bells, JOGTROT staring at them
in astonishment_).

CHIRPER (_to JOGTROT, in a sympathizing tone_). My dear respected
friend--

JOGTROT (_turning fiercely on CHIRPER_). And you! standing there like
a gaping idiot--ugh!

JACK. Oh, Dicky's all right! he's got his cow; hain't you, Dicky?

CHIRPER. _And_ the Philotechnic, where, by-the-bye, I am now due.

JOGTROT. So am I. Come along (_slams his hat on his head, puts his arm
in CHIRPER'S, swings him round, and drags him out at C._).

JACK (_taking JESSIE'S hand_). Mine! mine at last!

JESSIE (_smiling_). But remember. Jack, no more irritability, no more
tempers.

JACK. No! Here, here I vow, protest, and declare is the last of
Pepperpot's little _Pets!_ (_kisses JESSIE'S hand as curtain falls_).



AFTER A STORM COMES A CALM.

_Comedietta, in One Act._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

MAJOR PELICAN.

DR. VICESSIMUS PRETTYWELL.

JOSEPH (a servant).

MRS. PELICAN.

MRS. MAJOR PELICAN.

FANNY.

SCENE.--Major Pelican's Villa in St. John's Wood.

_A handsomely furnished apartment. Door at C., doors R. H. and L. H.;
a window at back, at R. C._

JOSEPH (_discovered lounging in an easy-chair, his legs upon another,
a newspaper open in his hand_). Now, then, for a quiet squint at the
sporting intelligence. See if I can't pick out a likely one for the
Great Cricklewood Handicap. (_Bell rings at L. H._) Of course! No
indulging in literary pursuits in this house! That's the young
missus's bell, and she can't bear being kept waiting. Well, I suppose
it's only natural for young people to be impatient (_getting up and
going towards L. H.; bell at R. H. is heard to ring_). Now the old
lady's at it, and she's always in a hurry, she is! Well, I suppose old
people can't afford to wait (_going towards door R. H.; bell at L. H.
rings again, then the bell at R. H.; then both bells are rung
violently; JOSEPH running backward and forward_).

     _Enter MAJOR PELICAN at C._

MAJOR. Well, Joseph, don't you hear the bell?

JOSEPH. I hear two of them, sir.

MAJOR. Then why don't you go?

JOSEPH. I don't know which way to go, sir! I can't answer both bells
at once, sir! (_here both bells are heard to ring again_).

     _Enter DR. PRETTYWELL at C._

JOSEPH (_to MAJOR_). What am I to do, sir?

DOCTOR (_coming down_). Do what you are doing now!

JOSEPH. I ain't doing nothing, sir.

DOCTOR. Then keep on doing nothing. It's about the best thing you
_can_ do.

JOSEPH. But I shall catch it from _both_ my missusses, sir!

DOCTOR. At first perhaps you _will;_ but when they find they've both
fared alike, they'll each feel secretly flattered by the inattention
you show to the other. Go to your work.

JOSEPH. Yes, sir.

     [_Exit at C._

DOCTOR. Well, friend Jeremiah!

MAJOR. Well, friend Vicessimus!

DOCTOR. I seem to have dropped in at rather an unlucky moment; but
frankly, if I were to wait till your domestic barometer pointed to
"calm and settled" weather, I'm afraid my visits wouldn't be very
frequent.

MAJOR. True, my dear doctor.

DOCTOR. I don't know how you manage it, but you generally contrive to
have a thunder-storm, more or less violent, rumbling over this house
of yours.

MAJOR. True again, and I'll tell you why. Because this "house of
mine," as you call it, is constantly exposed to two discordant
elements from opposite directions, but invariably coming into contact
and exploding _here!_

DOCTOR. I don't exactly understand.

MAJOR. It's very simple. Living here with my mother and my wife, who
_both_ claim to be "monarch of all they survey," I, the master of the
house--

DOCTOR. Find yourself cutting rather a contemptible figure--eh?

MAJOR. Very much so. It would be easy enough to do as Georgina wishes,
_or_ my mother, but to do as they _both_ wish is impossible, for the
simple reason that no two women ever wish the same thing,
_consequently,_ the result is anger on one side, sulky looks on the
other; one invokes her title of "mother," the other her privileges of
"wife;" consequently, between the two--

DOCTOR. You come in for more kicks than half-pence?

MAJOR. Considerably more! In fact, _all_ kicks.

DOCTOR. And yet I don't know a more charming, amiable person than your
excellent mother. I've known and admired her for more than thirty
years; in fact, had it depended on me, I might very possibly have been
your father.

MAJOR. Thank you. But I'm very well satisfied as I am; besides, the
thing couldn't be done now.

DOCTOR. Not conveniently! However, she preferred marrying the "author
of your being," so there was an end of my romance! But to return to
these unfortunate domestic quarrels; from what I know of your mother,
I am convinced the fault lies with your wife.

MAJOR. And from what I know of my wife, I'm certain it lies with my
mother.

DOCTOR. Then, my good friend, why not at once put an end to these
personal and conjugal troubles of yours?

MAJOR. How?

DOCTOR. Simply thus. Appoint one of the two contending parties--no
matter which--to the sole control of your domestic affairs; support
her authority through thick and thin, give her credit for always being
right, even when she's wrong, and the thing's done!

MAJOR. A very good plan, I dare say, but, unluckily, it's
impracticable.

DOCTOR. Why?

MAJOR. Because it would require a considerable amount of _pluck_ to
carry it out, and I hain't got an atom.

DOCTOR. Nonsense! You've only to show a proper spirit.

MAJOR. How can I do that when I hain't any spirit _at all?_

DOCTOR. Pshaw! Recollect, Nero was a perfect lamb at starting, and yet
he fiddled when Rome was burning.

MAJOR. But I'm not a Nero! Besides, I hain't got a fiddle, and I
couldn't fiddle if I had.

MRS. P.     } (_from rooms R. and L.--together_). Joseph!
MRS. MAJOR. } Joseph!

DOCTOR. Here they both come! Do as I tell you, pluck up a proper
spirit; in the mean time I'll beat a retreat (_runs out at C._).

MAJOR (_shouting after him_). Coward! to leave me alone to the mercy
of two exasperated females!

     _Enter MRS. PELICAN hurriedly at R. H._

MRS. P. This is perfectly intolerable!

MRS. MAJOR. It's absolutely unbearable! (_entering hurriedly at
L. H._).

MRS. P. To take no notice of my bell!

MRS. MAJOR. What's the use of my ringing?

MRS. P. Oh! here you are, son Jeremiah.

MAJOR. Yes, my dear mother; (_aside_) and I devoutly wish I was
anywhere else!

MRS. P. (_turning him round towards her_). I appeal to you to see that
my authority in this house is respected!

MAJOR (_with pretended surprise_). What! Has any one dared--

MRS. MAJOR (_turning him towards her_). I presume you won't allow _me_
to be treated with inattention?

MAJOR. (_with pretended surprise again_). What! Has any one presumed--

MRS. P. (_aside to him_). But what's the matter with your wife? She
seems out of temper!

MAJOR. Yes! because Joseph didn't attend to her summons at once. When
_you_ require him, he knows better than to do _that!_

MRS. MAJOR (_aside to him_). Your mother appears annoyed at something
or other?

MAJOR. No wonder! Joseph didn't answer her bell. He knows better than
keep _you_ waiting. (_Aside._) What a humbug I am!

MRS. P. By-the-bye, Jeremiah, I have ordered dinner an hour later
to-day.

MRS. MAJOR. Indeed? and for what reason, pray?

MRS. P. Because it suits me.

MAJOR. Oh! of course, my dear Georgina, if it suits her--

MRS. MAJOR. But it doesn't suit _me._ I expect Mr. Simcox, the
jeweller, early this evening, and cannot dine later than five.

MAJOR. Oh! of course, my dear mother, if she expects Mr. Simcox--

MRS. P. It's too late now, the dinner will be served at six o'clock.

MRS. MAJOR. I won't give way! It will be on the table at five.

MRS. P. Six.

MRS. MAJOR. Five.

MAJOR (_aside_). There they are again! hard at it! hammer and tongs!

     _Enter JOSEPH, running, at C._

JOSEPH. Please, ma'am, please, sir, here's Miss Fanny just driven up
in a cab from the station!

MRS. P. Fanny!

MAJOR. What can have brought her back?

FANNY (_heard speaking off at C._). Gently, my good man, with that
box! My best hat's in it! such a beauty too! (_runs in at C.; she is
in a light summer travelling costume_). Here I am! How astonished you
all look! Ha! ha! ha! (_Running to MRS. MAJOR P._) Dear Georgina! so
glad to see you once again (_kissing her--Nodding to MAJOR_). How do,
brother Jeremiah? and you, dear mamma? (_about to kiss MRS. PELICAN_).

MRS. P. (_stiffly_). I was not aware, miss, that it was usual for a
well-educated young lady to address her sister-in-law before her
mother!

FANNY. Did I? So sorry, dear mamma. I really didn't see you at first.

MAJOR (_aside_). I'm sure she's big enough!

FANNY (_holding up her face to MRS. P._). Well, mamma, won't you kiss
me? (_Slyly._) You know you're punishing yourself as well as me.

MRS. P. Who can resist the dear child? (_kissing FANNY_). But we
thought your visit to your Cheltenham friends was intended to last
another week?

FANNY. So it was, but they were obliged to return to town, so they
brought me with them, put my luggage into a cab at the station, me on
the top--I mean my luggage on the top--and here I am!

     _Enter JOSEPH at L. H._

JOSEPH. Luncheon is on the table, sir.

MRS. P. Very well, Joseph. (_Aside to MAJOR._) Don't forget what I
said about the dinner.

MAJOR (_aside to her_). All right; six o'clock, sharp!

MRS. MAJOR (_aside to MAJOR_). Remember what I decided about the
dinner-hour!

MAJOR (_aside to her_). All right; five o'clock, sharp! (_Aside._)
Between the two the chances are I sha'n't get any dinner at all!

     [_Exeunt MRS. PELICAN and MAJOR at R. H._

FANNY. I'm so glad we're alone at last, Georgina; we can have a nice
long chat together all alone; and I've such a lot to tell you!

MRS. MAJOR. Well, I'm all attention! But first, how did you enjoy your
trip to Cheltenham?

FANNY. Not much. I found it rather slow. Nothing but a collection of
bilious-looking fogies being wheeled about in Bath-chairs. But never
mind that; I've something else to talk about!

MRS. MAJOR (_smiling_). Something very serious, no doubt.

FANNY. Awfully serious! Listen! At the very first ball I went to at
the Assembly-rooms--

MRS. MAJOR. A very brilliant affair, of course!

FANNY. Really, Georgina, if you keep on interrupting me in this sort
of way--

MRS. MAJOR. I beg your pardon! Well?

FANNY. Well, at my very first ball I danced with a gentleman once or
twice--perhaps three or four times.

MRS. MAJOR. Young, of course (_smiling_).

FANNY. Rather!

MRS. MAJOR. Handsome?

FANNY (_very quickly_). Very! Well, judge of my surprise when, the
very next morning, as I was sitting in the drawing-room, the door
opened and the servant announced "Captain Boodle!"

MRS. MAJOR. The "young gentleman?" (_smiling_).

FANNY. Yes.

MRS. MAJOR. Perhaps you had given him your address?

FANNY (_indignantly_). Not I, indeed! He didn't ask for it, or perhaps
I might! Well, the next morning he called again, and the following
morning, and the morning after that--in short, every morning--and as I
was always in the drawing-room, of course quite by accident--

MRS. MAJOR. You naturally became quite intimate--familiar and chatty.

FANNY. _He_ didn't. _I_ did all the _chatting_ part! Never did I see
any one so timid, so bashful, as Boodle. When he _did_ try to say
something, there he'd stand stammering and stuttering and blushing
like a school-girl! But although his tongue didn't say much, his
_eyes_ did!

MRS. MAJOR (_smiling_). And they said, "I love you?"

FANNY. Distinctly! Well, I thought to myself it's not a bit of use
going on like this. It's quite evident the poor man worships the very
ground I tread upon. So when he called next day, and I told him, in
_tremulous accents,_ of course, that I was going away, the effect was
magical. First he turned pale, then red, then blue; then he let his
hat fall, then his umbrella, then himself--on both his knees, at both
my feet, and there, I believe, he would have remained till further
notice, if I hadn't said to him, "Augustus"--his name is Augustus--"I
won't pretend to misunderstand you. You love me! I am yours!"

MRS. MAJOR. What! Such an act of thoughtlessness, of indiscretion, on
your part!

FANNY. Perhaps it was, but I know this: it quite cured him of his
timidity; for when he once _did_ begin, I never heard anybody's tongue
rattle on at such a rate as his did--never!

MRS. MAJOR. And the result, I presume, was--

FANNY. That we both, then and there, exchanged vows of constancy and
locks of hair! His is rather red, by-the-bye! But I see mamma coming!

MRS. MAJOR. Then I'll retire. Seeing us closeted together would only
arouse her ridiculous jealousy.

FANNY. And I'll see if I can't find an opportunity to slip in a word
about Augustus. In the mean time you'll keep my secret?

MRS. MAJOR. Religiously! for your sake (_going up_).

FANNY. And Boodle's.

MRS. MAJOR (_turning and smiling_). And Boodle's.

     [_Exit at C._

     _Enter MRS. PELICAN at R. H._

MRS. P. Oh, here you are, Fanny!

FANNY. Yes, mamma! and quite alone.

MRS. P. _Now!_ But you were not alone.

FANNY. No, dear Georgina was with me.

MRS. P. And "dear Georgina," no doubt, lost no opportunity of
prejudicing you against your mother!

FANNY. Oh, mamma! (_reproachfully_).

MRS. P. But fortunately you will not long be exposed to her pernicious
influence.

FANNY. Oh, mamma!

MRS. P. Bring a chair and sit down by me.

FANNY (_sitting down by MRS. PELICAN'S side--aside_). I wonder what's
coming?

MRS. P. I have something serious to say to you, Fanny.

FANNY. So have I to you, mamma--_very_ serious!

MRS. P. Indeed! In the mean time, as I happen to be your mother, and
you, consequently, happen to be my daughter, perhaps you'll allow me
to begin _first?_

FANNY. Certainly.

MRS. P. Then listen. Although you are still very young--

FANNY. Nineteen next birthday, mamma.

MRS. P. Don't interrupt me! Although you are still young, I have been
reflecting a good deal lately on that all-important subject, your
future settlement in life!

FANNY (_quickly_). So have I, mamma! (_Aside._) I shall be able to get
in a word presently about Augustus!

MRS. P. In other words, don't you consider it high time you thought of
matrimony?

FANNY (_very quickly_). I _do,_ mamma! I'm always thinking of it!

MRS. P. But of course it isn't likely _you_ can have any one in your
eye _yet!_

FANNY. I beg your pardon! I _have!_

MRS. P. (_severely_). What's that you say?

FANNY. That is--I mean--of course I hain't! (_Aside._) It won't do to
say anything about Augustus yet; I must keep him dark!

MRS. P. Then you have no positive antipathy to the married state?

FANNY. I should think not, indeed! (_very quickly_).

MRS. P. (_severely_). My dear, I'm really surprised to hear a
well-educated young lady express herself in such, I might almost say
indelicate, terms. But to return; I need not say I would not encourage
any candidate for your hand who was not deserving of you.

FANNY. Of course not, mamma! He _must_ be worthy of such a treasure!

MRS. P. Tolerably young, and not absolutely ill-looking!

FANNY (_eagerly_). Certainly not! (_Aside._) I call Augustus decidedly
_good-_looking!

MRS. P. And in the possession of ample means.

FANNY (_aside_). Augustus has got ever so much already, besides two
rich maiden aunts and an aged godmother!

MRS. P. All of which qualifications are, fortunately, in the
possession of Sir Marmaduke Mangle!

FANNY. Sir Marmaduke Mangle? Lor, mamma, you can't mean that little
old man we met at Brighton, with a bad cough, a wig, and a
canary-colored complexion?

MRS. P. He's not old by any means, and is only _slightly_
canary-colored after all! However, he has seen you, he admires you,
and offers you his hand, his heart, his title, and his fortune!

FANNY. But I don't love _him,_ mamma! I never _could_ love him--even
if I didn't love somebody else!

MRS. P. (_starting_). What's that I hear? You love somebody else?

FANNY. Yes, and one who loves _me,_ and one I'm determined to marry,
or die an old maid. There!

MRS. P. (_angrily_). Silence, miss!

FANNY (_impatiently_). I won't silence! If you think Sir Marmaduke
such a very great catch, marry him yourself! I'll consent to it, and
give you away into the bargain! It's quite evident you were never in
love!

MRS. P. I beg your pardon! I _was,_ intensely, with a youthful doctor!
(_Aside._) Poor Vicessimus! Ah! (_giving a long sigh_). Nevertheless,
I married your father--and we were not so _very_ unhappy, considering!
(_To FANNY, who is about to speak._) Not another word! My mind is made
up, so the sooner you make up _yours_ to become Lady Mangle the
better!

     _Enter MRS. MAJOR and MAJOR at C., followed by JOSEPH._

MRS. MAJOR. Nothing so simple, Joseph! Tell Mary to put up a bed for
Miss Fanny in her mamma's room!

MRS. P. (_sharply_). What's that? Put up a bed in my room?

MRS. MAJOR. Yes! Why not?

MRS. P. Because I won't allow it!

MAJOR (_aside_). There they are, at it again!

FANNY. But why can't I have my own snug little room?

MRS. MAJOR. The fact is, I have made a work-room of it for myself;
besides, Fanny's proper place is with her mother.

MRS. P. Quite out of the question! The slightest noise disturbs my
sleep.

FANNY. But I sleep so very quietly, mamma--you'd scarcely hear me
breathe; _I_ don't, and as for snoring--

MRS. P. I won't hear another word.

MAJOR. But, hang it all, Fanny must sleep _somewhere!_ She requires a
horizontal position as much as other people.

MRS. P. Then let her find one--but not in _my_ room!

MRS. MAJOR. I insist on my wishes being carried out.

FANNY (_aside to MAJOR_). Oh, brother Jeremiah, if I was only in your
place just for five minutes!

MAJOR (_aside_). She's quite right! I'm master here after all,
confound it! If I'm _not_, I ought to be; and if I ought to be, I
_will_ be, confound it! (_Aloud, and assuming an authoritative
manner._) My patience is exhausted! Anarchy has presided too long over
my domestic hearth.

FANNY (_aside to him_). Confound it!

MAJOR. Confound it!

MRS. P.     }
            } Quite true!
MRS. MAJOR. }

MAJOR. And henceforth I'm determined to be master of my own house.
(_FANNY whispers him._) Confound it!

MAJOR. But there must be a mistress as well.

MRS. P.     }
            } Of course! Well (_anxiously_), decide between us.
MRS. MAJOR. }

MAJOR. That's what I'm going to do. (_Aside._) It's really very
awkward! My mother screams loudest, but my wife screams longest;
besides, I only hear my mother in the day, whereas my wife--

MRS. P. (_to MAJOR_). Well? which of the two is to be mistress here?

MRS. MAJOR. Yes, which of the two?

MAJOR (_after a violent effort_). My wife! There! I've said it.
(_FANNY whispers him._) Confound it!

MRS. P. Ah! (_screaming and falling into a chair_).

MRS. MAJOR. Come, major, and as your reward you shall hear me issue my
orders in such a style.

     [_Exit at L. H., hurrying MAJOR with her, and calling, as she
     goes out,_ Joseph! Mary! Sophia!

MRS. P. (_suddenly starting up from her chair_). So! she--_she's_ to
be everybody, and _I'm_ to be nobody! a cipher, a nonentity! Was there
ever such ingratitude? I, who left my own home to live with them,
without even waiting to be asked, to give them the benefit of my
experience, to take upon myself the entire control of their domestic
affairs--nay, even to carry my maternal affection so far as not to
allow either of them to interfere in anything whatever!

FANNY (_aside_). Poor dear mamma! she doesn't see that's the very
reason why everything went wrong.

MRS. P. But I'll forget them, I'll renounce them, I'll cast them off,
I'll abandon them to their unhappy fate; and when you're comfortably
married, dear, I'll come and live with _you_ (_throwing her arms round
FANNY, who tries to speak_). No thanks, I see you are literally
bursting with gratitude; but I am rewarded already! I feel it
here--here! (_striking her breast, then flings her arms round FANNY
again, and hurries out at R. H._).

FANNY. Mercy on us! here's a pretty piece of business! Live with me
when I am married! Poor Augustus! he little suspects what a rod there
is in pickle for him! It's all Jeremiah's fault, and it's poor little
I who am punished.

DOCTOR (_without_). In the parlor, is she? Very well!

FANNY. Surely that's dear Doctor Prettywell's voice!

     _Enter DOCTOR at C._

DOCTOR. Ah! my dear young friend, delighted to see you!

FANNY. Not more than I am to see you, doctor!

DOCTOR. But let me look at you. How we're grown! I declare we're quite
a young woman!

FANNY. Yes, doctor.

DOCTOR. And a very pretty one, too!

FANNY. Yes, doctor.

DOCTOR (_looking intently at FANNY_). She's the very image of her
mother as she _was_ thirty years ago; the same soft blue eyes, before
she took to spectacles, the same fairy form, before it filled out, the
same alabaster brow, before the wrinkles set in!

FANNY (_aside_). How earnestly he looks at me! I hope I hain't
fascinated _him_ as well as Sir Marmaduke! (_Suddenly._) Goodness me!
what if _he_ should be the "youthful doctor" mamma was speaking about?
(_DOCTOR looks at her again and gives a loud sigh._) What a sigh! It
must be he. He may still have some lingering affection for her; the
flame may not be _quite_ burnt out; there may be a tiny spark left
which a little gentle _blowing_ may rekindle into a blaze. It isn't
very likely; still, I may as well try what a little "blowing" may do.

DOCTOR. Well, now that your education is completed, and you've come
home brimful of accomplishments, of course you'll go into society,
and, like other young ladies, pick up a husband?

FANNY (_with affected indifference_). A husband? Not I, indeed! I've
never even thought of such a thing! (_Aside._) I had no idea I could
fib so well! (_Aloud._) No, doctor! I've too much regard for my own
tranquillity, my own peace of mind!

DOCTOR. Hoity-toity! Who's been putting such nonsense into your head?

FANNY. Why, you yourself never ventured on matrimony!

DOCTOR. No! because I--I-- Heigh-ho! (_giving a loud sigh_).

FANNY (_aside, and smiling_). The "tiny spark" is gradually getting
into a blaze! I did quite right in trying the effect of a little
"_blowing!_" (_Aloud._) Besides, I have come to the conclusion, from
considerable personal experience, that the male sex in general--I
mean, taken in a _lump_--is no better than it should be.

DOCTOR (_laughing_). Indeed!

FANNY. I'm sorry to say they're a false, fickle, perfidious _lot!_
They gain a poor confiding woman's heart only to trifle with it and
trample on it! Poor dear mamma! I am no longer surprised at your
little fits of temper--at your discontent with everything and
everybody--now that I know the sad circumstances which blighted your
youth and cast a gloom over your after-life! (_with affected pathos_).

DOCTOR (_aside_). What do I hear? (_Aloud, and anxiously._) Has your
mother, then, revealed?

FANNY. No; but she might just as well, because I was sure to find it
out.

DOCTOR. Find out _what?_

FANNY. A lot of things! Ah, doctor! if you had only heard her sigh as
I have!

DOCTOR. Sigh?

FANNY. Yes; but that's not all. Poor mamma! You'd hardly believe the
number of pearly drops I've seen fall from her poor eyes into her
teacup.

DOCTOR. Pearly drops?

FANNY. But _that's_ not all! (_In a very mysterious manner._) I once
heard her, when she little thought I was listening, say, in faltering
accents, "Ah! if he had really loved me, would he not have declared
his passion when I became a widow?"

DOCTOR. Did she? (_Aside._) She loves me still! Dear Cleopatra!

FANNY. Who can she mean? I should so like to know. Perhaps, doctor,
you'll help me to find out; but here she comes (_looking towards C.
DOCTOR gives a violent start_). Why, what's the matter?

DOCTOR. Nothing; only a sort of a kind of a--of a--I scarcely know
whether I am standing on my head or my heels!

FANNY. On your head, of course!

DOCTOR. I thought so.

MRS. P. (_heard without_). Joseph! Joseph!

DOCTOR (_aside_). I can't meet her yet. The agitation--the
trepidation--the perturbation--the--

FANNY. Perhaps you'd better retire, doctor, (_aside_) or else he'll be
flopping down on his knees to mamma before I've prepared her for the
shock!

     _Enter MRS. PELICAN at R. H., followed by JOSEPH._

MRS. P. Joseph, inform your master that I shall dine in my own
apartment.

     [_JOSEPH bows and goes out R. H. DOCTOR meets MRS. PELICAN as she
     comes down--looks tenderly at her--clasps his hands, and gives a
     deep sigh; then hurries up--stops again at C.--turns--gives her
     another tender look--another deep sigh, and hurries out at C._

MRS. P. (_watching DOCTOR in astonishment_). Why, what's the matter
with the man?

FANNY (_aside_). It's _your_ turn now, mamma! You wanted to get a
husband for _me;_ so as one good turn deserves another, I'll see if I
can't find one for _you!_

MRS. P. (_aside_). I must find out who this "girlish fancy" of hers
is. (_Aloud._) Come here, Fanny. Of course _your_ happiness is all I
desire!

FANNY. And it's all _I_ desire too, mamma!

MRS. P. Then have confidence in your mother--your _only_ mother! Tell
me the name of the young man who has won your affections.

FANNY. You asked me if I had any one in my eye, and I said I _had,_
but I didn't tell you he was a _young_ man. The fact is, mamma, I've
been so often told that I am so giddy, so thoughtless, so flighty,
that I selected some one of _maturer_ years; he would give me the
benefit of his experience--his advice--his--his--

MRS. P. Maturer years?

FANNY. Yes! Besides, he has known me so long!--ever since I was a tiny
little mite. He used to dandle me on his knee, and buy me dolls and
toys and sweeties and hardbake and elecampane, and all that sort of
thing!

MRS. P. (_aside_). Known her for years! (_Suddenly._) Mercy on us! can
she be alluding to "Vicessimus?"

FANNY. But, ma dear, that which attracted more than all was the
respectful, I may say the _affectionate,_ terms in which he always
speaks of _you._

MRS. P. Does he? (_Aside._) Poor fluttering heart, be still! Dear
Vicessimus! He hain't, then, quite forgot his Cleopatra! (_Aloud._)
But is DOCTOR PRETTYWELL--for it surely must be _he_ to whom your
remarks apply--

FANNY. Yes, mamma.

MRS. P. (_aside_). I thought so. (_Aloud._) Is he aware of your
somewhat foolish partiality?

FANNY. I think so. He'll tell you why! Whenever he used to call, and
we happened to be sitting side by side--I mean you and I, mamma--I
noticed that he always kept his eye fixed on us, and it always made me
blush so.

MRS. P. (_aside_). Poor simple child. She flatters herself that it was
on _her_ that Vicessimus's enamoured glances were riveted.

FANNY. And don't you recollect the last time he took us to the
theatre, how attentive, how polite he was to you?

MRS. P. Yes. I remember he brought me three oranges and an ounce of
acidulated drops into our box.

FANNY. And if you only had heard him just now, when I told him how
shamefully you had been treated here! "What!" he exclaimed, turning
quite red in the face and tearing his hair out in handfuls. "What!
Dare to offer such an affront to so good, so amiable, so excellent a
woman--a woman born to command, born to be beloved!"

MRS. P. Did he?

     _Enter JOSEPH at R. H._

JOSEPH. Please, ma'am--and wishes to know if you are disengaged?

MRS. P. I'll come to him. (_Exit JOSEPH R. H._) How shall I meet him?
how conceal my feelings? Once more, poor little fluttering heart, be
still! (_Aside, and looking at FANNY_). Poor Fanny! I shall be sorry
to cut her out; but constancy like Vicessimus's deserves, and shall
have, its reward!

     [_Exit at R. H._

FANNY. There! I flatter myself I've managed that rather cleverly. I've
given tranquillity to Jeremiah, happiness to Georgina; I've got mamma
a husband, and-- But stop a bit! who's to get one for _me?_ Oh dear,
dear! I haven't half done yet!

     _Enter MRS. MAJOR very hurriedly at C._

MRS. MAJOR. Oh! what shall I do? what shall I do?

FANNY. Georgina dear, what's the matter?

MRS. MAJOR. Oh, Fanny, such an event! I quite forgot to tell you that
a person--I can't call him a gentleman--has been following me about
everywhere in the most persevering, the most audacious manner, for the
last month!

FANNY. What a contrast to Augustus!

MRS. MAJOR. And at last he has actually had the effrontery to write to
me. A groom called just now with a letter, and was in the act of
giving it to Mary, with strict injunctions to deliver it to me, and to
me only, when my husband suddenly appeared and snatched the letter out
of his hand.

FANNY (_aside_). Something more for me to do! I shall never get my
work done here!

MRS. MAJOR. He must have read the letter by this time! Oh, what, what
will he think of me? But here he comes! and what a dreadful temper he
looks in!

     _Enter MAJOR hurriedly at C., looking very wild and agitated, a
     letter in his hand; comes forward._

MAJOR (_folding his arms and assuming a tragic attitude_). So, madam;
I repeat "So, madam!" You may tremble at the sight of your hitherto
too confiding but now indignant husband!

MRS. MAJOR. But, Jeremiah dear--

MAJOR. Don't "Jeremiah dear" me! Are you aware, unhappy woman, that I
might give you in charge to the police? No, I don't mean that--that I
might insist on a separation? or call your ignoble accomplice out and
shoot him?--which I _would_ do, if I were sure he wouldn't shoot _me!_
But no! I prefer to expose, to unmask you!

     _Enter MRS. PELICAN hastily at C., followed by DOCTOR_.

MRS. P. What is all this disturbance about? What has happened?

MAJOR. You've arrived just in time! I only wish the entire universe
were assembled in this breakfast-room to hear me!

MRS. MAJOR (_shrugging her shoulders_). Pshaw! they could only laugh
at your absurd suspicions!

MAJOR. Suspicions? Come, I like that, when I have the proofs--you
hear, madam, the proofs of your misconduct!--this letter, madam! this
letter! (_producing letter and flourishing it_).

MRS. P. A letter!

MAJOR. Yes! listen, and shudder! (_taking letter out of envelope,
which he lets fall on stage, then reading in an impressive tone_).
"Star of my life, idol of my heart!" That's pretty well to begin with!
(_Reading again._) "Ever since the God of Love first presented you to
my enraptured orbs!" (_Aside._) What does the fellow mean by "orbs?"
(_Reading again._) "I have loved you"--point of admiration; here it
is, there's no mistake about the point of admiration! (_showing letter
to MRS. P. and DOCTOR_). But that's not all! (_Reads again._) "In
order to bask in your divine presence, I am prepared to sweep every
obstacle from my path." There's a sanguinary ruffian! Of course _I_'m
one of the obstacles to be swept away!

MRS. P. And how is the letter signed?

MAJOR. There _is_ no signature!

FANNY (_aside_). That's fortunate! (_picking up the envelope unseen
and putting it in her pocket_).

MAJOR (_to MRS. MAJOR_). Now, madam, what have you to say?

MRS. MAJOR. Simply this, that I am more than ever indignant at your
preposterous and odious suspicions.

FANNY (_suddenly confronting MAJOR_). So am I! You ought to be ashamed
of yourself, Jeremiah! and so ought you, mamma, and so ought
everybody! And what's more, I'm determined that poor, dear, innocent
Georgina shall be no longer unjustly accused!

MRS. P. }
        } What's that?
MAJOR.  }

FANNY. I dare say I shall be scolded, but I'm used to that; in fact, I
rather like it; and after all it was sure to be found out sooner or
later; in a word--that letter--

MRS. P. Well?

FANNY. Was intended for _me!_

MRS. MAJOR (_aside to her_). Fanny!

FANNY (_aside to her_). Hush! I'm engaged in a little business of _my
own_ now!

MRS. P. For you?

FANNY. Yes! although I particularly told him not to write to me.

MRS. P. Told him? Told _who?_

FANNY. Augustus!

MRS. P. Who's Augustus?

FANNY. _My_ Augustus, of course!

MRS. MAJOR. I can confirm Fanny's words, having been in possession of
the whole particulars for the last hour.

MAJOR. Have you? Then, perhaps, you can furnish us with Augustus's
other name--_if_ he's got one (_satirically_).

MRS. MAJOR. Certainly--Noodle.

FANNY (_very quickly_). No--Boodle!

DOCTOR. Augustus Boodle? Let me see! of course! I first met him at
Cheltenham!

FANNY. So did I.

DOCTOR. He was only a lad then, and was going into the army--to
distinguish himself, as he said.

FANNY. I can't say whether he did distinguish _himself,_ but I know
that he very soon distinguished _me!_

DOCTOR. The Boodles of Gloucestershire. There's not a more respected
family in the county! Come, my dear Mrs. Pelican, if you'll take my
advice, you'll not hesitate in accepting Augustus Noodle--I mean
Boodle--as a son-in-law!

MRS. P. Well, I'll think the matter over, and then, perhaps, I may say
yes.

FANNY (_coaxingly_). Suppose you say yes first, mamma, and think the
matter over afterwards?

MRS. P. (_ironically_). But, Fanny, what about a certain party of
"_maturer years,_" on whose _experience_ you proposed to rely?

FANNY. Let me ask you, mamma, would it have been dutiful in a daughter
to deprive her mother of the object of her early affection?

MAJOR. What's that? "Early affection!"--"object!"

MRS. P. Yes; there stands the object (_pointing to DOCTOR_). In a
word, I have been induced to accept the hand of Doctor Prettywell,
from his many amiable qualities and (_aside to DOCTOR_) his
_constancy._ Here, Vicessimus (_holding her hand out to him_).

DOCTOR. Thanks, Cleopatra (_taking her hand and kissing it_).

MAJOR (_very timidly to MRS. MAJOR_). Georgina, can you forgive your
Jeremiah? I don't know how I may _look,_ but you've no idea how
_small_ I feel.

MRS. MAJOR. This once I do! but remember, this once _only._ There
(_giving her hand to MAJOR_).

MAJOR. Then, in spite of all petty domestic discords, everybody is
happy at last.

FANNY. Which only proves the truth of the old adage, that "After a
storm comes a calm."

     THE CURTAIN FALLS.



EXPRESS!

_A Railway Romance, in One Compartment._

(_Adapted from the French._)


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

A LADY.

A GENTLEMAN.

A RAILWAY GUARD.

[The action is supposed to take place in a first-class
railway-carriage, travelling on a certain line between a certain place
and another certain place.]

SCENE.--_A plain interior, supposed to represent a compartment in a
first-class railway-carriage; door in flat at C.--the entrance--four
easy-chairs placed two and two opposite the others, representing the
seats--on the second chair at L. H. an open newspaper._

_The actor playing the part of the gentleman enters at door C. in
light overcoat, with travelling-bag, hat-box, and railway-rug over his
arm; he places the bag, hat-box, and rug on first chair, L. H., and
advances, cap in hand, and, after sundry bows, proceeds to explain the
scene to the audience._ Ladies and gentlemen: The little piece we are
about to present to you is supposed to take place in a first-class
compartment of a railway-carriage, travelling express
from--from--Plymouth to London; shall we say Plymouth to London?--very
well--Plymouth to London. You will also be good enough to see in the
humble individual who is now addressing you, a
deputy-assistant-deputy-inspector of Government prisons, returning
from an official visit to that well-known and, judging from the
constant stream of applications for admission, highly popular convict
establishment at--at--Dartmouth; shall we say Dartmouth?--be it so,
we'll say Dartmouth! Our first idea, in order to impart a greater
reality to the situation, was to place before you a regular train with
locomotive, etc., etc., all complete, and for this purpose we applied
to a certain railway company for the loan of one; but the secretary,
in reply, said that the only materials he could offer us were
cattle-trucks and coal-wagons, all the passenger rolling-stock being
in requisition, owing to the unusual number they had smashed up during
the year. He certainly offered us the use of an engine, but at the
same time candidly gave us to understand that it was a little bit
rusty, and wouldn't stand the slightest pressure; he further added
that if the knob of the steam-whistle _should_ happen to knock out the
front teeth of any of the audience, we were not to blame _him_ if we
had a few compensation actions to sustain!--and so on! Altogether the
alternative was so dismal that we decided on sacrificing a flaming
line in our play-bill about "flashing express," "real steam," "genuine
foot-warmers," which we had composed for the occasion, and to fall
back upon the best scene that our stage-carpenter and property-man
could prepare for us.

We must, therefore, ask you to bring your imaginations to our aid, and
to fancy you see in that door and in these four easy-chairs the
interior of a first-class compartment of a railway-carriage, and to
imagine further that I have passed the night in one of them, and am at
the present moment still enjoying a profound sleep.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to enter into my part, to
seat myself in the snuggest corner I can find, and to resume my
interrupted nap! (_makes a profound bow to audience, goes up stage,
and seats himself on the first chair, L. H.; puts on his
travelling-cap, wraps himself up in the railway-rug, after having
placed on the second chair, L., his travelling-bag, a railway guide,
and a paper-knife; he then yawns once or twice, then falls asleep, and
after a time snores gently. Loud noise of train arriving, with
steam-engine, railway-bell, and whistle, as the train is supposed to
arrive and gradually to stop_).

GUARD (_heard without_). Reading! Change here for Guildford, Dorking,
Reigate, Redhill!

VOICE (_without_). Guard, how long do we stop here?

GUARD (_without_). Ten minutes, sir! (_Cries of "Reading; change
here," etc., etc., etc., repeated, and gradually diminishing,
accompanied by noise of slamming doors, etc._)

GENTLEMAN (_starting from his sleep_). What's that? Who speaks of
stopping? I wonder what the time is? (_Looks at watch._) Seven
o'clock? (_Opens door and looks out._) Broad daylight, I declare
(_closing door again_); then I must have slept the best part of the
night! I don't even remember my travelling companion getting out; he
seems to have forgotten his newspaper (_taking up paper from chair_).
Not a very talkative fellow; in fact, he never opened his mouth,
except to put something into it--principally Abernethys and
peppermint-drops. By Jove, his _Daily News_ is full of crumbs and
caraways now!--a regular pantry!

GUARD (_again heard without_). Reading! Ten minutes to stop!

GENTLEMAN. Ten minutes to stop? Then I may as well get out and stretch
my legs a bit (_rises, puts railway-rug, guide, and travelling-bag on
his seat, and goes to door C.; then calls_). Guard, whereabouts is the
refreshment-bar?

GUARD (_without_). This way, sir (_GENTLEMAN goes out at door C.
towards R. H.--short pause_).

     _The LADY looks in at C. and stops; then enters with two small
     parcels and a bonnet-box._

LADY. Yes; all things considered, I decidedly prefer this carriage to
the ladies' compartment, where there's only room for one, and then
what should I do with my packages? Besides, ladies are not so
_remarkably_ agreeable among themselves; while here-- (_looking about
her_). Let me see, which corner shall I take? I think this will do
(_indicating the seat which the GENTLEMAN has just left_); one's face
to the engine, and not so likely to be troubled by people getting in
and out; yes, this will do very well indeed! (_during this she removes
the GENTLEMAN'S effects from first chair L. H. to the opposite chair
at R._) And after all, provided one has a _gentleman_ for a travelling
companion, a host of these little difficulties soon disappear! (_Seats
herself on first chair L. H._). There! I shall do very nicely
here--very nicely indeed! (_Here the GENTLEMAN appears outside at door
C._) Some one's coming! one of the opposite sex! I _hope_ a gentleman.
Suppose I pretend to be asleep? I will! I'll shut my eyes, and then I
shall be able to judge of his appearance! (_wraps herself up so as to
conceal her face, and pretends to be asleep_).

GENTLEMAN (_entering at door and stamping his feet_). I feel all the
better! Thanks to a glass of sherry and half a dozen rapid turns up
and down the platform, the circulation is re-established; so now for
another dose of pins and needles. Holloa! what's this?--my seat taken,
and all my things bundled away anyhow on another seat! Well, of all
the cool proceedings-- (_To the LADY._) I beg pardon, madam, but--
Asleep? Rather a sudden attack of drowsiness, considering she can't
have been here more than five minutes! However, she's a lady--at least
she looks like one, though she _is_ such a cool hand, and I can't be
so ungallant as to turn her out, especially as she looks so snug and
comfortable! I must take another corner! (_He seats himself on second
chair at L. H., partly turning his back to the LADY._)

LADY (_aside and partly uncovering her face_). I knew these little
difficulties would soon arrange themselves! (_wraps herself up as
before_).

GENTLEMAN (_fidgeting about in his seat_). I was much more comfortable
in my own seat. There was a nice hollow for one's back there; but here
there's a confounded lump that's positively painful! I must confess I
have found that women in general haven't the slightest hesitation in
taking advantage of one if they possibly can. Here's an instance; just
as I had got used to my seat, in comes one of the weaker sex and turns
me out bag and baggage! They know their power, and abuse it: too bad!
Now (_looking aside at LADY_) if my neighbor were but young--and
pretty into the bargain--but no; catch a woman wrapping herself up
like that when she _is_ young (_gaping_) and pretty! (_His head nods
once or twice, and he falls asleep._)

GUARD (_without_). Take your seats! Any more going on?

LADY (_cautiously peeping at GENTLEMAN, then uncovering, and aside_).
So it seems I shall have no other travelling companion but this
gentleman! (_Here loud railway-whistle heard, and noise of train
starting._) We're off. (_Looking at GENTLEMAN again._) I must say he
appears to be perfectly harmless and inoffensive. (_GENTLEMAN
snores._) What did he say? (_A louder snore from GENTLEMAN_). Well, if
that's a specimen of his conversation, it isn't likely to compromise
one! (_Another snore._) I may as well go to sleep myself, and then,
perhaps, I may be able to join in the _conversation_ too! (_Wraps
herself up, but this time allows her face to remain uncovered; closes
her eyes; pause._)

GENTLEMAN (_suddenly waking and shifting his position_). Decidedly, of
all the uncomfortable seats this is the most uncomfortable. I _should_
like to know what they stuff their cushions with; I feel as if I'd got
a quartern loaf at my back! (_Taking a rapid glance at LADY, then, in
a savage tone._) _She_ seems comfortable enough! How absurd--how
ridiculous of me not to have demanded--not to have in-sis-ted.
(_Looking again at LADY._) By Jove, she _is_ young! and by no means
bad-looking! Bad-looking! she's pretty--_very_ pretty--_excessively_
pretty! and to think I should have actually gone to sleep in her
presence! One never knows what one does in one's sleep; luckily, I
never snore; that's one comfort! (_Takes off his travelling-cap,
arranges his hair, cravat, etc._) How soundly she sleeps--if she
_does_ sleep! (_in doubt_). When one is _really_ asleep--I mean _fast_
asleep--it isn't usual to wear a smile on one's face; on the contrary,
one's face generally gets ugly! I'll be bound that just now I was
positively hideous! (_He coughs loudly, the LADY moves._) She wakes!
(_Suddenly and loudly._) What a beautiful country! what a lovely green
on those meadows! (_LADY keeps silence._) I'll try again! (_Still
louder._) How unusually beautiful are the autumn tints, especially so
early in the spring! (_Pause; aside._) No response? She must have
taken a sleeping draught!

LADY (_pretending to wake_). A thousand pardons, sir; did you speak?

GENTLEMAN. I was merely observing what a lovely meadow on those
greens! I mean (_another pause_) I hear the harvest is likely to be a
plentiful one, although I'm told that turnips are backward; I haven't
heard anything about carrots.

LADY (_in an indifferent tone_). I beg pardon; were you speaking to
me? (_Aside._) Some gentleman farmer, evidently.

GENTLEMAN (_nettled, and imitating her--aside_). "Were you speaking to
me?" I rather think I _was_ speaking to her! Holloa! she's off to
sleep again! No one can call _her_ particularly wide-awake. Well,
since she's off into land of dreams again, I don't see why I shouldn't
indulge in a cigarette (_takes out some cigarette papers, tobacco
pouch, spreads them on his knees and proceeds to make a cigarette;
then stops_). Stop, though! I can't smoke without first asking her
permission; of course not! (_Aloud, and coughing._) Ahem! (_Watching
her._) Sound as a top! Try again! (_Coughing louder._) Ahem! (_The
LADY opens her eyes and moves impatiently--aside._) That did it!

GENTLEMAN (_apologetically_). My cough is rather troublesome, ma'am.

LADY. I find it so--very!

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). Well! that's about the rudest thing I've heard
for some time! (_Aloud._) I was about to ask you whether you object to
the smell of tobacco?

LADY. Oh, not at all, sir!

GENTLEMAN. Thank you! (_proceeds to make his cigarette, and about to
light it_).

LADY. I mean, not till it's lighted!

GENTLEMAN. Oh, I see; and then you do?

LADY. Very much, indeed!

GENTLEMAN. Even when you are asleep? (_in an insinuating tone_).

LADY (_slowly and decisively_). Whether I am awake _or_ asleep, sir!

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). Now that's what I call selfish--just as if the
smoke _could_ get up her nose when her eyes are shut! (_putting away
his smoking apparatus. Aside_). I must say I _have_ met more agreeable
young ladies--_very much_ more agreeable--in fact, I may say I never
remember meeting one _less_ agreeable. Well, I sha'n't disturb the
"Sleeping Beauty" again in a hurry. Now for another nap! (_sulkily
crams smoking apparatus into his pocket, draws his cap very much over
his head, stands up, folds himself up in his rug, and then flounces
down on his seat again, partially turning his back to the LADY_).

LADY. (_slowly turning her head and taking a glance at GENTLEMAN_).
Well, I must confess he put away his smoking apparatus with a very
good grace! (_Sees newspaper._) Some one has left a newspaper!
(_Taking newspaper and reading._) Um, um! _Plymouth Gazette._ "Foreign
News," "Paris Fashions," "Early Strawberries." What's this? "Escape of
a convict. We learn that Benjamin Burkshaw, a criminal of the most
desperate character, effected his escape from Dartmoor prison
yesterday. The following is his description: Age, not exactly known;
eyes, nothing peculiar; wears a long black beard--has probably cut it
off; walks slightly lame with one leg, uncertain which; supposed to
have directed his steps towards London, or in some other direction."
Dear me! it is just possible he may be in this very train! (_looking
aside at the GENTLEMAN, then reading again_). "Middle height"
(_looking again at GENTLEMAN_); "inclined to be stout" (_another look
at GENTLEMAN_); he's so rolled up in his rug one can't judge! (_Reads
again._) "Slightly bald, with a scar on left side of forehead" (_here
the GENTLEMAN in his sleep hastily pulls his travelling-cap over his
forehead; the LADY gives a sudden start, and recoils as far as
possible from the GENTLEMAN_). How very suddenly he pulled his cap
over his forehead--and the left side of it too! Pshaw! how foolish,
how absurd of me! (_Reads paper again, and then closes her eyes once
more._)

GENTLEMAN (_rousing himself_). It's no use! I can't get a wink of
sleep, except by fits and starts--principally starts! (_Looking at
LADY._) Still asleep! and no book to read except this "Illustrated
Guide through England and Wales." However, that's better than
"Bradshaw." (_During above he has taken a book out of his bag, and
cuts the leaves with a paper-knife; turns over leaves._) What's this?
(_Reads._) "Maidenhead. It was in the neighborhood of this picturesque
town that the famous Dick Turpin--" (_Here the LADY and GENTLEMAN are
suddenly thrown forward._)

LADY (_alarmed_). What a shock! Has anything happened?

GENTLEMAN (_indifferently_). Nothing of consequence! merely the train
passing over something--or somebody!

LADY (_aside_). Rather an unfeeling remark! (_Aloud._) Can you tell me
where we are, sir? I am quite a stranger to this line.

GENTLEMAN. We _should_ be near Slough. You may not be aware, madam,
that it was here that--(_taking a peep aside at his book_)--"that the
famous Dick Turpin"--you've heard of Dick Turpin, of course--the
celebrated highwayman? (_LADY shakes her head_). Well, it was here
that he was in the habit of spending his leisure hours--I mean when
he'd nothing better to do--in--in (_taking another peep at book_)--"in
planting potatoes!"--Poor Dick! my great-grandfather saw him hanged!

LADY (_shocked_). Hanged?

GENTLEMAN. Yes--I forget exactly what for--something about putting an
old lady on the kitchen fire!

LADY (_indignantly_). Surely, never was a fate more richly deserved!

GENTLEMAN. On the contrary, she was quite a respectable sort of old
body!

LADY (_aloud, and in a satirical tone_). Thanks, sir, for your kind
and _interesting_ information!

GENTLEMAN (_modestly_). Don't mention it, I beg!

LADY (_aside_). A newspaper correspondent, perhaps! I prefer that to a
farmer!

GENTLEMAN (_after a short pause_). I find the sun rather too warm on
this side of the carriage, madam--will it inconvenience you if I take
this seat? (_indicating first chair at R._).

LADY. Not in the least! Indeed, I should have the less right to
object, as I am afraid I have appropriated _yours;_ and by far the
more comfortable one, I suspect!

GENTLEMAN. You simply foresaw that I should offer it to you, madam!

LADY. Oh, sir! (_bowing_).

GENTLEMAN. Oh, madam! (_bowing; he removes things from where the LADY
had placed them, and seats himself opposite to her_).

LADY (_aside_). Really a very pleasant, agreeable fellow!

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). Her full face is even better than her profile!
(_Aloud, and in a sentimental tone._) Ah, madam! would it were in my
power to prolong this pleasant journey--this delightful _tête-à-tête!_

LADY (_with dignity_). Sir!

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). That's no go! (_Aloud._) I mean, madam, that one
seems to travel _too_ fast nowadays! (_LADY expresses surprise._) In
fact, we're _all_ too fast!

LADY (_severely_). Sir!

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). _That's_ no go! (_Aloud._) We've only to contrast
the present with the time when the wife of one of our ancient kings
traversed the whole of England by easy stages of five miles a day!

LADY. Of whom do you speak?

GENTLEMAN. Of--of-- (_Aside._) Hang me if I know! (_Aloud._) Of
Tabitha--I mean Elgitha, the wife of--Edmund--Sobersides--I should say
Ironsides! But without going quite so far back, madam, I confess I
often regret the days of those heavy old stage-coaches called
"High-flyers," "Eclipses," and "Rockets."

LADY (_smiling_). Because they went so slowly?

GENTLEMAN. Precisely. Still, it had its advantages--it gave one an
opportunity to make the acquaintance of one's travelling
companions--to establish a friendly feeling--perhaps one of a more
_tender_ nature! (_with a tender look at the LADY_).

LADY (_with a stare of astonishment_). Sir!

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). It's no use. I won't try any more! (_Aloud, and
in a more colloquial tone._) Besides, in a stage-coach there was
always the chance of one of those little adventures that so often
happened on the road!

LADY. You mean attacks by highwaymen, such as your _friend_
Mr.--Turpin--who had a weakness for putting respectable old ladies on
the kitchen fire? (_smiling satirically--then, changing her tone_). I
remember myself a certain event which happened some five or six years
ago when we were travelling.

GENTLEMAN. _We?_ You and your pa and ma, probably?

LADY. My husband and I!

GENTLEMAN. Husband? you are married, ma'am! actually, positively
married?

LADY. Alas, sir! (_sighing_).

GENTLEMAN (_aside_). I see! an unhappy union!--an ill-assorted
match--poor soul! (_Aloud._) Ah, madam, you are not the only one of
your too confiding sex who have found marriage a bed of roses--I mean,
of nettles, instead of one of nettles--I mean roses!

LADY. But, sir--you mistake--alas, sir, I am a widow!

GENTLEMAN. A widow? I'm delighted to hear it! No, I'm not! of course
not! I deeply sympathize with you--as I always do with widows--I know
what it is myself. But you mustn't give way--you'll get used to it in
time--like the eels--no, not like the eels--but you were about to
mention some adventure which happened to you while travelling
with--the late lamented. (_Noise heard of train gradually
stopping--engine, railway-bell, whistle, etc._)

VOICE (_outside, gradually approaching_). "Slough! Slough! change for
Windsor; all tickets ready."

GENTLEMAN (_angrily_). All tickets ready! these railway companies are
perfectly absurd, with their mania for examining tickets! (_feeling in
his pocket_).

LADY (_smiling_). Another advantage of the good old coaching days!

GENTLEMAN. Yes, quite so! (_feeling again in his pockets, one after
the other_). Ah! here it is--no, it isn't--how very odd; now I've got
it--no, I haven't! (_diving in his pockets again_).

LADY. I'm afraid you've lost your ticket, sir.

GENTLEMAN. Oh no! I haven't _lost_ it--only I can't find it!

LADY. You may have dropped it? (_looking about on floor_).

GENTLEMAN. Pray don't trouble yourself; I shall be sure to find
it--(_aside_) as soon as I've paid for another! (_Aloud._) I'll just
speak to the station-master. Excuse me a moment? (_LADY bows,
GENTLEMAN exit at C., and disappears towards L. H._)

LADY. Poor fellow! no wonder he dislikes railways if he's in the habit
of losing his ticket every time he travels!

     _GUARD appears at door C._

GUARD (_to LADY_). Ticket, please, ma'am? (_Takes ticket, and returns
it to LADY._) Thank you, ma'am. (_Seeing the GENTLEMAN'S bag, etc., on
seat._) These things belong to you, ma'am?

LADY. Oh no!

GUARD. Has any one left this carriage?

LADY. Yes! a gentleman--not a minute ago.

GUARD (_sulkily_). How can I examine people's tickets when they get
out at every station?

LADY. He fancies he has lost his ticket.

GUARD (_suspiciously_). Lost his ticket?--what a pity! (_Aside._)
That's an old dodge! (_Aloud._) Is the gentleman one of your party,
ma'am?

LADY. Oh dear no! only so far as we are journeying in the same
compartment.

GUARD (_examining the GENTLEMAN'S bag_). No name on his
travelling-bag--that's queer! We're expected to keep both eyes open on
this line, ma'am--only yesterday we nabbed a desperate bank forger at
this very station; and we're on the lookout for an escaped convict
to-day!

LADY (_aside_). An escaped convict? that dreadful Mr. Burkshaw, no
doubt? Not a very cheerful subject of conversation--I'm really getting
quite nervous! (_collecting her packages and rising_).

GUARD. Going to get out, ma'am?

LADY. Yes, I should prefer the ladies' compartment.

GUARD. No room there, ma'am; eight of 'em already, besides babies!

LADY. I may get into another carriage, I presume?

GUARD. Certainly, ma'am. Good-day, ma'am (_goes out at door_).

LADY. Stop! stop! Help me out! Guard! guard! (_calling_).

GUARD (_outside_). Can't stop now, ma'am. Train just going on.

LADY. This is really too bad! Can't even change carriages on this
line, which seems to be especially patronized by the criminal classes!
But pshaw! I'm alarming myself unnecessarily. Is it likely that this
gentleman--and he _is_ a gentleman--who seems to be on intimate terms
with the wife of Edmund Ironsides--can possibly have any connection
with-- How absurd of me! I really ought to be ashamed of myself.
(_Seeing the paper-knife which the GENTLEMAN has left on seat._) What
a strange-looking paper-knife--quite a formidable weapon! _Is_ it a
paper-knife? it looks more like a stiletto! (_Taking up paper-knife
very carefully between her finger and thumb, and then quickly dropping
it again_). Such an instrument as that was never made to cut _leaves!_
It looks much adapted to-- (_Shuddering._) How ridiculous of me! My
silly fears are running away with me again. Ha, ha, ha! (_forcing a
laugh_).

GUARD (_without_). Take your seats!

     _GENTLEMAN hurries in at C. The LADY suddenly stops laughing, and
     gets as far as she can into her corner._

GENTLEMAN. I've found my ticket! I knew I should the moment I bought
another. (_Takes his seat. To the LADY_). Where do you suppose it
was?--you'll never guess. In my purse, where I always put my tickets!
Ha, ha, ha!

LADY (_aside_). He _had_ a ticket, then?

GENTLEMAN. It is very kind of you to interest yourself in the
misfortunes of a stranger (_bowing_).

LADY. Is it not natural?

GENTLEMAN. It seems to be so to _you,_ madam (_bowing again and moving
a little towards LADY, who retreats_).

LADY (_aside_). If I could only induce him to remove his
travelling-cap--not that I should discover the slightest scar on _his_
forehead--I should then be completely reassured. (_Suddenly._) Pardon
me--is not that a friend of yours bowing to you on the other platform?
(_indicating the audience_).

GENTLEMAN. Bowing to me? where? (_putting his hand to his cap_).

LADY (_pointing_). There! (_Aside._) Now for it!

GENTLEMAN (_lowering his hand again without removing his cap_). No,
ma'am, I don't know him; besides, he's not bowing to me.

LADY (_aside_). That's a failure!

GENTLEMAN. Holloa! Somebody's been moving my things!

LADY. Yes, the guard!--he seemed curious--I might say _anxious_--to
ascertain if your name was on your travelling-bag!

GENTLEMAN. Very inquisitive of him! Why should I make my name public
property?--there may be reasons why I should _not!_--pressing reasons!
You can understand that, madam?

LADY. Y--es! I'm afraid I can--I mean, of course I can!

GENTLEMAN. But, as I was saying, the interest you have so kindly taken
in me--a perfect stranger--

LADY (_very quickly_). Not at all, sir; on the contrary! No--that is--

GENTLEMAN. Permit me to continue. That interest, I repeat, comes
naturally to _you,_ blessed, as I'm sure you are, with so sweet, so
gentle, so affectionate a disposition.

LADY (_very quickly_). Quite the reverse, I assure you, sir--I've a
dreadful temper!

GENTLEMAN. Again: that charming hand is not less characteristic; it
requires but one glance at those delicately tapered fingers-- (_About
to take her hand; LADY hastily withdraws it._)

LADY (_aside_). I do believe the man's going to make love to me!

GENTLEMAN. But stay: I see one line here that is singularly prominent;
permit me (_taking LADY'S hand_).

LADY (_aside_). I'm quite at his mercy! Not the slightest use my
screaming!

GENTLEMAN (_looking at her hand_). Yes, a very sudden intersection,
threatening, I fear, some personal danger.

LADY (_alarmed_). Yes, very likely! (_Aside._) How intently he fixes
his eyes on my diamond ring!

GENTLEMAN. But were you not saying that you had once been exposed to
some peril in travelling?

LADY. Yes; but I was not _alone_ then.

GENTLEMAN. The "late lamented," I presume?

LADY. Yes; we were attacked by robbers in crossing the Pyrenees!
(_Very quickly._) Not that I particularly object to robbers! In fact,
I rather like them! (_Aside._) I may as well try what a little
flattery will do.

GENTLEMAN (_still holding her hand_). You have a remarkably fine
diamond here, madam!

LADY. Yes, a very good _imitation,_ isn't it?

GENTLEMAN. Excuse me. I cannot mistake a diamond--no, no; I've had too
many pass through my hands to do that!

LADY (_aside_). I'm afraid he has!

GENTLEMAN. And yet there's a flaw in it--if you'll allow me, I'll
point it out to you. (_Looking about, then suddenly taking up the
paper-knife; the LADY screams._) I'm afraid I alarmed you!

LADY (_trying to be calm_). Oh dear no! and if you've quite done
examining my hand--

GENTLEMAN. Quite, madam! (_releasing her hand_).

LADY. And you detect no further threatening of--personal danger?

GENTLEMAN. None whatever!

LADY. Then you are a believer in spiritualism and phrenology, and all
that sort of thing?

GENTLEMAN. Certainly I am! May I ask, madam, if you have ever examined
the head of a criminal?

LADY (_shocked_). Never, sir!

GENTLEMAN. Perhaps you have never even been brought into personal
contact with one?

LADY. Certainly not, sir; though I'm sure I should feel the greatest
pity for him--I should, indeed! (_in a commiserating tone_).

GENTLEMAN. Understand me; I don't allude to the _milder_ class of
criminals, such as thieves, robbers, forgers, burglars, and such like;
but one of those desperate fellows who--who--in fact, who _stick at
nothing!_ By-the-bye, I have a collection here of photographs of some
of our most notorious criminals, which I think would interest you.

LADY (_shuddering_). Yes--intensely!

GENTLEMAN (_opening his travelling-bag_). Ah! (_producing a revolver_)
there's rather a curious story connected with this revolver!

LADY (_alarmed, and trying to look unconcerned_). Indeed?

GENTLEMAN. I never travel without one--every chamber loaded and ready
for use, so that I have six lives at my disposal--a very comfortable
feeling to have! Don't you think so?

LADY. Yes, very much so, indeed!

GENTLEMAN. Here are the photographs (_producing packet_); here is one
of them (_about to show a portrait_). No, I make a mistake; this is
one of myself.

LADY (_aghast_). Yours?

GENTLEMAN (_smiling_). Yes! this is the one! (_presenting a second
portrait_). You'll observe a remarkable protuberance of this part of
the skull (_pointing to it_); that's the organ of destructiveness. I
have it myself, only not _quite_ so strongly developed! (_touching his
head_); don't you perceive it?

LADY. Yes--I--see! But I confess I cannot understand how _you_ happen
to be in possession of these _remarkably interesting_--works of art?

GENTLEMAN (_smiling_). A very simple matter--my occupation
necessitates my associating with this particular class of "her
Majesty's subjects"--as I happen to be--

LADY (_quickly_). Hush! I know! You need not tell me!

GENTLEMAN (_anxiously_). What is the matter? You are positively
trembling--with cold, no doubt! Allow me to wrap this rug round you.

LADY. No, no!

GENTLEMAN. Nay, I insist! (_placing his rug round LADY'S feet_).

LADY. But you will feel the want of it yourself, especially as it
seems you have passed the night in the train!

GENTLEMAN. Exactly! Six hours ago I was in Dartmoor Prison!

LADY. Dartmoor! (_Aside._) He confesses it!

GENTLEMAN (_smiling_). Not a very attractive residence. I would gladly
have left it before, but, unfortunately, I was detained!

LADY. Detained!

GENTLEMAN (_smiling_). I may say _chained_ to it--by my confounded
profession!

LADY (_aside_). He calls it a _profession!_

GENTLEMAN. There's no saying how long the Home Secretary might have
kept me there; but I couldn't stand it any longer, so I managed to
make my escape, and now I'm free once more!

LADY (_suddenly starting up with a scream_). Stop, sir! Don't say any
more! Have pity on me, for mercy's sake! (_falling on her knees and
clasping her hands_).

GENTLEMAN (_astounded_). My dear madam--

LADY (_hysterically_). I know who you are; I know all about the scar
on your forehead! But I won't betray you--I won't, indeed! Here, take
my purse!--take my watch! (_thrusting the articles into the
GENTLEMAN'S hands_)--_all_ I have, good Mr. Burkshaw!--but spare my
life!

GENTLEMAN. Your life? Mr. Burkshaw? What--what do you mean?

LADY. Mercy! mercy!

GENTLEMAN (_seriously_). My dear madam! Pray compose yourself! You
have evidently fallen into some strange error; in a word, I happen to
be--

LADY. Yes, yes! I know who you happen to be! Take my advice and jump
out of the train!

GENTLEMAN (_astonished_). Jump out of the train? Madam, your strange
conduct compels me to be serious! In a word, I have the honor to be a
Government inspector of prisons!

LADY. Eh? What? You--an inspector of prisons?

GENTLEMAN. Yes, madam (_taking off his cap and bowing to LADY_).

LADY (_eagerly looking at GENTLEMAN'S forehead_). And--you _haven't_
got a scar on your forehead? Oh, sir! if you only knew how delighted I
am that you haven't got a scar on your forehead!

GENTLEMAN (_bewildered_). A scar on my forehead? (_feeling his
forehead_). But may I ask what has suggested to you all these notions
about thieves and robbers?

LADY. Why, you've been talking about nothing else for the last quarter
of an hour!

GENTLEMAN (_smiling_). I beg your pardon. You certainly first began
the conversation about these--_gentlemen._

LADY. Because you said that you associated with them.

GENTLEMAN. Naturally, as an inspector of prisons.

LADY. Then those portraits--in your possession?

GENTLEMAN. Were taken merely to forward the ends of justice!

LADY (_with a sigh of relief_). I understand it all! I can laugh at my
folly now, which entirely arose from this silly newspaper
paragraph--the sole cause of all my absurd terror.

GENTLEMAN. What newspaper paragraph?

LADY. Read this, sir (_giving him newspaper_).

GENTLEMAN (_looking at paper, and then giving way to a loud laugh_).
Ha, ha, ha! Why, my dear madam, this is quite an old story! Our
interesting friend, Mr. Burkshaw, happened to be shot in attempting
his escape from Dartmoor more than twelve months ago! (_Looking at
date of newspaper._) Of course, this paper is a year old--December,
1884!

LADY. So it is! Oh, sir! what must you think of me?

GENTLEMAN (_in a tender tone_). May I tell you? That you are the most
charming travelling companion-- (_Here noise of train stopping,
engine, railway-whistle, etc., heard._)

VOICE (_outside_). Paddington! Paddington! (_LADY and GENTLEMAN both
rise._)

GENTLEMAN (_gallantly_). I am staying some time in London, madam. Will
you permit me to call upon you, if only to remove from your mind any
lingering doubt as to my perfect identity?

LADY. With pleasure, sir! (_Suddenly, and in a very gracious tone._)
Oh, sir! how _very_ good of you to be a Government inspector of
prisons! (_holding out her hand to GENTLEMAN, who takes it and raises
it to his lips_).

VOICE (_again heard_). Paddington! (_The GENTLEMAN and LADY gather
their packages and bow to each other as the CURTAIN FALLS._)



TAKEN FROM THE FRENCH.

_An Original Comedietta, in One Act._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

SIR FELIX FRITTERLY.

ARTHUR VALLANCE.

COLONEL COSEY.

LADY FRITTERLY.

MYRTLE VANE.

SCENE.--Sir Felix Fritterly's Country-house.

_A handsomely furnished apartment. Bay-window (practicable) with
curtains at R. U. E., conservatory C., doors R. and L., couch at R.
C., chairs, piano, etc. COLONEL discovered lying on couch, his
handkerchief over his head--ARTHUR VALLANCE in morning costume._

ARTH. (_looking at COLONEL_). Still asleep! And yet I must awake him
(_striking a very loud chord on the piano_).

COL. (_pulling handkerchief off his head and sitting bolt upright on
couch_). Come in! (_Seeing ARTHUR._) Oh, it's you? For goodness' sake,
Arthur, don't make such an infernal noise! Do you want to dislocate
that implement of torture?

ARTH. Don't you like it, uncle? I thought you were fond of music!

COL. You don't call that music, do you? (_getting up from couch_). I
accept your friend Fritterly's invitation to his country-house for a
few weeks' quiet--

ARTH. Well, you've got it, haven't you?

COL. Don't interrupt me (_snappishly_).

ARTH. I was merely anticipating--

COL. Who the deuce wants you to anticipate! Take things as I do, and
wait till they come round! My idea of a quiet life is to get up at
eleven, when the world has been thoroughly aired by that beneficent
warming-pan, the sun; next, breakfast at twelve--twelve's a lovely
hour for breakfast--have the morning papers all to yourself, and
escape being dragged round the grounds like the rest of the
visitors--to see the early peas, and the asparagus beds, and spring
onions!

ARTH. Ha! ha! Well, what next?

COL. Breakfast over, a quiet nap; a bit of lunch at three; a heavenly
slumber till dinner-time at seven; a cup of coffee, a cigar, and to
bed at ten! That's my idea of a rational, peaceful existence!

ARTH. You'd better by half shoulder your gun and have a pop at the
partridges!

COL. Thankee--I never went out with a gun but once in my life, and
then I shot a couple of dogs and a game-keeper; so I gave it up; for
if I'd gone on as I began, dogs and game-keepers would have been at a
premium long before this!

ARTH. Ah! it was a bad business for you, uncle, that you didn't take a
wife.

COL. It would have been a precious deal worse for my wife if I had!

ARTH. Well, every one to his taste. What you call existence _I_ call a
state of positive torpidity. It may suit _you;_ but at my age a man
hungers and thirsts after a little more excitement.

COL. Then why the deuce don't you take it? Go out fishing--in the
duck-pond--or go and see the cows milked, or the pigs fed; or, better
still, here's no end of excitement for you under your very nose.

ARTH. Where?

COL. At that window (_pointing to window_); gardener always at work
rolling the lawn, or watering the flowers, or picking up worms, or
killing slugs, and without the slightest fatigue for you; all you have
to do is to settle yourself down at the window--

ARTH. Settle down, eh? My dear uncle, that's the very thing I want to
do! In a word, Myrtle Vane--Lady Fritterly's sister--

COL. Ugh! The old story over again, eh? Lady Fritterly's sister is a
niceish sort of girl--

ARTH. (_indignantly_). Niceish sort of girl! She's an angel!

COL. Rubbish! Besides, as I said before, you're too young to marry
yet; wait another ten or fifteen years, and then begin to look about
you. You haven't popped to her, have you?

ARTH. Popped?

COL. Proposed!

ARTH. No!

COL. Then how do you know she'd have you?

ARTH. Of course I don't _know;_ but I think she _might._

COL. There's a conceited young puppy for you!

ARTH. (_coaxingly_). Especially if you'll encourage my
attentions--like my dear, kind old uncle!

COL. Which your "dear, kind old uncle" doesn't intend to do.

ARTH. You don't, eh? Very well, then listen to me! I shall do
something desperate!

COL. Wait till I get out of the room! (_Feeling his pulse._) I thought
as much! Going like a windmill in a gale of wind! This excitement's
too much for me, I must take a sedative! (_takes pillbox out of his
pocket; opens it, and tosses two pills into his mouth one after the
other_). And now, young fellow, listen to me. If you are so anxious to
_settle,_ as you call it, better begin with your bootmaker! In a word,
you don't marry yet with my consent. Marry _without_ it, and I leave
every shilling I've got to--to the Society for the Suppression of
Virtue--I mean the Propagation of Vice--I don't know what I'm talking
about! (_swallows two more pills, and hurries out at R., slamming door
violently after him_).

ARTH. Just as easy to argue him out of his prejudices as it would be
to make a Quaker kick his mother's-- Oh! here comes Myrtle! What a
contrast!--he all apathy--she all impetuosity! Of course I shall have
to give her an account of my morning's employment, as usual, which
consists of breakfast--three slices of toast, a rasher of bacon, a
couple of eggs, and a cup of coffee! and not a bad morning's work,
either!

     _Enter MYRTLE at C. in morning dress--a large garden hat and
     gloves._

MYRT. Good-morning, Mr. Vallance! has nature no attractions for you,
that you remain in-doors such a lovely day as this? Following your
uncle's example, as usual, I presume?

ARTH. On the contrary, I've been very hard at work, I assure you,
trying to reduce my uncle's bump of obstinacy.

MYRT. But in vain?--the _protuberance_ defied your efforts. And has
that been your entire morning's work?

ARTH. Physically, yes! Mentally, no!

MYRT. The _physical_ we'll dismiss; the _mental_ consisting
of--reading the newspaper, eh? (_smiling_).

ARTH. What can a man do such weather as this? It's too hot to walk,
too early for billiards--only fit for smoking. By-the-bye, I _did_
manage to get as far as the stables, where I had a cigar.

MYRT. And this is the new leaf you promised me you would turn over--a
tobacco-leaf! You are sadly deficient in energy, Mr. Vallance.

ARTH. I confess it. But brought up as I was from my earliest infancy
under my uncle--

MYRT. (_smiling_). Under your uncle?

ARTH. Yes--(_suddenly_)--no, of course not. I mean under his
_supervision_--how can I be otherwise than I am? He resents the
slightest approach to activity as a slur on himself; and the highest
compliment you can pay him is to yawn in his face (_checking a yawn
with difficulty_).

MYRT. I beg pardon--I'm afraid I'm in the way.

ARTH. Not at all! But why are you in such a hurry to go?

MYRT. To allow you more leisure for (_imitating ARTHUR'S yawn_)--you
know!

ARTH. Oh, Myrtle--do you object to my calling you Myrtle?

MYRT. You should have asked that question before you _did._

ARTH. If my tongue has been silent, surely my eyes must have spoken
for me?

MYRT. (_stiffly_). Mr. Vallance, you forget yourself!

ARTH. Because I was thinking of you (_tenderly_).

MYRT. (_aside_). This is getting too serious. (_Aloud._) But you
really must excuse me. I have my plants to attend to--a favorite
creeper especially that requires nailing up.

ARTH. Let me go with you. I'll make myself so useful--you'll see how
hard I'll work. I'll hold the ladder for you, and hand you up the
hammer and tin-tacks!

MYRT. What an exertion! And all for me! Ha! ha! ha!

ARTH. (_annoyed_). I see how it is, madam; you've no feeling, or you
wouldn't treat me so cruelly, so capriciously! If you had the
slightest particle of regard for me, you'd let me hand you up the
hammer and tin-tacks!

MYRT. You accuse _me_ of caprice! _you,_ who never knew what it is to
be in earnest!

ARTH. I am so _now,_ I assure you.

MYRT. Then listen to me, Arthur Vallance. Let me see that you possess
some energy, some enthusiasm, some strength of will, then I may,
perhaps, give you a better answer. Good-morning.

     [_Goes out at C. towards R._

ARTH. (_calling after_). Stop, Myrtle! _Do_ let me come and hand you
up the hammer and tin-tacks! So! I'm to do something energetic, am I?
Drown myself in the duck-pond? Yes!--no. I have it! I'll say good-by
to Fritterly, and cut this place at once! And then, Miss Vane, perhaps
you'll be sorry--perhaps you'll regret that you didn't let me hand you
up the hammer and tin-tacks! Let me see, there's an express to town at
three. (_Looking at his watch._) I can catch that. My traps can follow
(_hurrying up towards door L. H., and coming into collision with SIR
FELIX, who enters at the same time_).

SIR F. Holloa, old fellow, where the deuce are you off to in such a
hurry?

ARTH. Don't ask me--I'm going out of my mind!

SIR F. The deuce you are! Well, if I may judge by appearances, it
won't take you very long to get to the end of _that_ journey! Confound
it, man, will you explain?

ARTH. Well, you know the feelings I entertain towards Miss Vane?

SIR F. Myrtle? Yes.

ARTH. Well, you'll hardly believe it; but when I proposed to her just
now--

SIR F. You proposed to her? (_astonished_).

ARTH. Yes--to hand her up the hammer and tin-tacks--

SIR F. (_astonished_). Hammer and tin-tacks? What the deuce are you
talking about?

ARTH. (_helplessly_). I'm sure I don't know--yes, I do. She said that
when I showed a little energy--a little enthusiasm--a little something
else, she'd perhaps give me a better answer.

SIR F. A better answer! What on earth can that mean?

ARTH. I can't tell! (_Suddenly._) Yes, I can, of course! It can only
mean one thing (_enthusiastically_)--that she _will_ let me hand her
up the hammer--

SIR F. (_shouting_). Confound it, drop that hammer! You've been
hammering that hammer into my ears for the last ten minutes! Now!
(_turning VALLANCE round to him face to face_) speak like a man of
sense--if you've got any left in you!

ARTH. Well, then, I ventured to speak to my uncle--

SIR F. Old Cosey?

ARTH. Yes, old Cosey--about Myrtle, and he coolly told me I mustn't
think of getting married for the next ten or fifteen years!

SIR F. Come, I like that!

ARTH. Do you? It's more than I do--unless, he said, he saw some urgent
necessity for it; but that if I married without his consent he'd
disinherit me.

SIR F. Is that all?

ARTH. All! It strikes me as being quite enough. No, it isn't all--it's
only half, for Myrtle--

SIR F. (_cutting him short_). Never mind Myrtle; I know all about her.
She thinks you a bit of a milksop--s--so do I; that you've no
energy--not an atom! no will of your own--never had! and that in order
to reinstate yourself in her good opinion you must do something
_desperate!_ So you shall! Now what do you mean to do?

ARTH. Show a proper spirit, and--run away!

SIR F. Run away! Certainly not--fling yourself into my arms and I'll
pull you through! So cheer up!

ARTH. It's very easy to say "cheer up" to a fellow who feels himself
between two stools, with the certainty of coming down a cropper!

SIR F. But what's the use of giving you advice? You'd never follow it!
You haven't the pluck to do anything desperate!

ARTH. I told uncle I would! But I'm not going to make away with myself
merely to prove that I'm a man of my word!

SIR F. Pshaw! Now let's understand each other. Myrtle insists on your
giving her a convincing proof of energy--pluck--determination--and all
that sort of thing! You're not limited as to the direction they may
take?

ARTH. Not at all!

SIR F. Good--and your uncle refuses his consent to your marriage
unless he sees some urgent necessity for it?

ARTH. Exactly!

SIR F. Then the same medicine will do for both! Old Cosey has a great
regard for propriety and morality, and all that sort of thing--hasn't
he?

ARTH. Intense!

SIR F. Then we'll give him such a shock on that score, he'll think
that his opposition to your wishes has driven you frantic with
despair!

ARTH. But Myrtle?

SIR F. Has only to imagine there's a chance of your turning out a
"naughty, good-for-nothing reprobate," and she'll be only too glad to
reclaim her lost sheep at once!

ARTH. What then?

SIR F. Oh, then we must borrow a wrinkle from the French! As your
uncle won't hear of your taking a wife of your own, take somebody
else's!--no matter whose. Take _mine;_ she's the handiest!

ARTH. Don't be absurd!

SIR F. I'm perfectly serious! All your uncle wants is to snooze away
his existence. We must wake the old boy up!!

ARTH. How?

SIR F. By an elopement!! A _pretended_ one, of course, which you shall
propose to my wife, and _he_ shall overhear!

ARTH. _I_ propose an elopement to Lady Fritterly? She'll be indignant!

SIR F. How do you know that? She may feel flattered! At any rate I'll
take all the responsibility!--you may be as fascinating as you choose!
Ha! ha!

ARTH. But, man alive, I'm not in the habit of running away with other
people's wives! I shouldn't know how to begin. Something in this
style?--"Please, ma'am, will you run away with me?"

SIR F. Not half tender enough! (_Clasping his hands and with
exaggerated passion._) "Loveliest of women"--then down on your
knee--it don't matter which--both if you like. Then exclaim, "My
bosom's torn with conflicting emotions"--"my brain is in a whirlwind
of agony and despair"--tearing your hair out by handfuls all the time.
Don't forget _that!_

ARTH. Stop! Don't be in such a confounded hurry! Let me see!
"Loveliest of women," one! (_counting on his fingers_)--"conflicting
emotions," two!--"agony," three!--"despair," four! Can't you make it
five--one for each finger?

SIR F. Five--the elopement!--_there_ you must come out a little
stronger--(_declaiming in exaggerated tone_)--"Let us fly, loved
one!--horses are in readiness to bear us to the nearest station, where
the flashing express shall whirl us to--to--" anywhere you
like--Madagascar--Seringapatam--Pegwell Bay--no matter!

ARTH. Oh! that's the style, is it? By Jove, I've half a mind to chance
it! But when is this precious scheme of yours to come off?

SIR F. At once! As soon as I can secure the presence of my wife, and
old Cosey as a listener!--he always takes a nap on this couch when the
coast is clear--(_turns the couch round with back to the audience_).
There!--now, you take a stroll in the grounds--I'll hide behind the
window-curtains and give you the signal to come in. Be off! (_pushing
him up stage_).

ARTH. Wait a minute--(_counting on his fingers_)--"Loveliest of
women," "conflicting emotions," "agony," "paggony"--no, not "paggony,"
"despair." Let me see, what's the little finger?

SIR F. The elopement!

ARTH. All right!

     [_Exit at C. towards R., counting his fingers._

SIR F. He's gone at last! I ought to have been born in an atmosphere
of diplomacy to develop my talent for intrigue! Ha, ha, ha! how this
"little game" of mine will astonish them! But they all want waking up
in this house! Cosey's an old hedgehog, all prickles and prejudices!
Arthur's--never mind what! Myrtle's a crab-apple--pleasant to look at,
but occasionally rather tart to the taste! (_here LADY FRITTERLY
enters at door L., unperceived by SIR FELIX_). As for my wife (_here
LADY F. stops and listens_), she's a charming woman; but she has one
fault, for which I'd gladly exchange a good many of her virtues--she's
so dreadfully proper! Shall I take her into my confidence? No! she
hates jokes--especially mine. How she will stare when Arthur opens his
_batteries!_--ha--ha!--run away with my wife!--the notion's too
absurd.

LADY F. (_aside_). Indeed! So, so, husband of mine!--(_comes down and
taps SIR FELIX on the shoulder_). Felix!

SIR F. (_turning_). Grace! (_Aside._) I wonder if she overheard!

LADY F. You seem merry!--laughing at your own jokes? Quite right you
should, for nobody else does!

SIR F. Thank you! (_Aside._) All right! she didn't hear anything.
Perhaps I'd better prepare her, just a little bit, or she might
petrify poor Arthur with one of her tragedy looks before he opens his
mouth, and then he'd take to his heels to a certainty! (_Aloud._)
By-the-bye, my dear Grace, have you noticed anything peculiar in young
Vallance's behavior lately?

LADY F. No; he seems as apathetic as ever; he may, perhaps, have shown
a little more attention to me than usual (_with intention_).

SIR F. (_aside_). The deuce he has! I wonder what she'll say presently
when he comes out with his "agony" and "despair?" (_Aloud._) I don't
mean his behavior to _you_--but to Myrtle! He's not half so spooney--I
mean attentive--as he used to be, and I fear there's a reason for it!
(_with significance_).

LADY F. Indeed!

SIR F. Yes! he _may_ be smitten with _somebody_ else! At _his_ age the
affections are fickle, volatile--skipping like a flea--

LADY F. Felix!

SIR F. I mean _sipping like a bee_ from flower to flower! Myrtle is
young--very young; but even youth like hers _may_ become insipid! The
love of every precocious boy of fifteen is a woman of _thirty!_ I
began at twelve!

LADY F. A woman of thirty--_my_ age! Understand, sir, that no woman
cares to be reminded of her age when she is turned thirty, any more
than that she wears false hair! Your remark, therefore, is scarcely
polite; but with your wife it appears you consider no such politeness
necessary!

SIR F. Politeness! My dear Grace, what is politeness, after
all?--merely the gloss of society! I suppose you'll admit that the
shiny stuff they put on the top of the buns doesn't make them taste
any the sweeter?

LADY F. Spare me your absurd similes, and don't mistake flippancy for
wit!

SIR F. (_aside_). That's a dig in the ribs for me! (_Aloud._) But we
are wandering from our subject! Do you think Myrtle loves Vallance at
all?

LADY F. I fancy she likes him well enough!

SIR F. "Well enough" won't do! She must like him a _great deal_
better--as I believe she would if we could only make her just a little
bit jealous!

LADY F. Perhaps so--but how? My lady's-maid is no beauty! The
house-maid's no chicken! The cook's too fat! And there's no one else!

SIR F. No, exactly! (_Here LADY FRITTERLY turns and goes up stage._)
Are you going out this morning?

LADY F. Yes, unless you wish for the pleasure of my society here!

SIR F. Well, it would be a novelty!

LADY F. And you promise to spare me the infliction of those melancholy
exhibitions which you call jokes?

SIR F. I'll be as dull as an undertaker! Suppose you put a few
stitches into that smoking-cap of mine, which has been your sole
occupation in needle-work for the last two years and a half!

LADY F. Be it so! It's in my room--I'll fetch it! (_Aside as she goes
up stage._) So--so--he's evidently got some "little game" on
hand--which it will be my business to find out! (_Turning to SIR F._)
Ta! ta!

     [_Goes out at door L. H._

SIR F. Poor, unsuspecting innocent, it's too bad to take advantage of
her simplicity! Ah! here comes old Cosey for his forty winks--better
and better--but he mustn't see me! (_Hides behind window-curtain._)

     _Enter COLONEL at R.; looks round._

COL. Nobody here! got it all to myself! That's just what I like! I was
afraid of meeting Fritterly! He's a pleasant fellow enough in his way,
but I prefer being _out_ of his way! To be within the sound of his
voice is like living over a printing-office--one continual clatter!
Now, then, for a little solitary rumination!--there's nothing equals
it. Look at a cow--how she enjoys it! and isn't she the most peaceful
of all animals? Who ever heard of a cow in a passion? See the touching
resignation with which she allows herself to be milked! I wish Arthur
had more of that docile animal in his composition! he wouldn't talk of
doing something desperate! Now, then, for a delicious nap! (_Ties his
handkerchief over his head and lies down on couch, and no longer in
sight of audience._)

SIR F. (_peeping from behind curtain_). Thank you, colonel, for your
flattering opinion of me; but I'll be even with you! I wonder if he's
asleep? (_advancing on tiptoe to couch_). Yes, sound as a top! Now,
then, to call in Arthur! Stop a bit! let me first perform the part of
the benevolent robin in the "Babes in the Wood," and cover this
"Sleeping Beauty" up! (_Carefully spreading several antimacassars over
COSEY._) There! now for Arthur! (_Runs to window and waves his hand._)
All right; he sees me!

     _Enter VALLANCE at C._

ARTH. Well, you still stick to your plan?

SIR F. Like a horse-leech. My wife will be here directly!

ARTH. But Uncle Cosey?

SIR F. Comfortably tucked in there (_pointing to couch_), to be roused
from the land of dreams when the proper time arrives with this
implement (_taking a long feather brush_). Sure you've got your part
in this little domestic drama by heart? Rehearse!

ARTH. "Loveliest of women," "emotions," "agony," "Seringapatam,"
"despair," "Pegwell Bay"--

SIR F. Keep on going over it, like the multiplication-table; but hang
it, man, don't look as lively as if you were waiting in a dentist's
back parlor! (_Suddenly._) Here comes my wife! (_hurriedly hiding
behind curtains_).

     _Enter LADY FRITTERLY at L. H., carrying a smoking-cap._

LADY F. (_seeing VALLANCE_). Mr. Vallance?

ARTH. Lady Fritterly! (_bowing_).

LADY F. (_aside_). The ball is about to open! (_Aloud._) Won't you be
seated? (_seating herself at L., ARTHUR moving a chair to some
distance from LADY F., and seating himself_). A lovely morning, is it
not? (_beginning to work at the smoking-cap_).

ARTH. Delicious!

LADY F. Quite cool and pleasant!

ARTH. (_aside_). I feel quite hot and _un_pleasant!

LADY F. By-the-bye, do you know where my husband is?

ARTH. (_fidgeting on his chair_). Not exactly; but I believe he's
somewhere or other, or if not there, somewhere else.

SIR F. (_who has peeped out, listening_). Idiot! (_hiding again_).

LADY F. (_observing the movement of the curtain. Aside_). He's there!
traitor! (_Aloud._) I'm sure I ought to feel deeply grateful to him
for leaving so agreeable a substitute.

SIR F. (_listening_). That ought to encourage him!

ARTH. (_aside_). It's time I began, if I'm going to begin at all!
(_Suddenly, and clasping his hands._) Oh, Lady Fritterly, pardon my
agitation; but agitated as I am with the agitations that agitate
me--the agony, the despair-- (_Aside._) I shall stick fast presently;
I know I shall!

SIR F. (_listening_). That's better.

ARTH. But say--say you forgive me!

LADY F. Forgive you! for what? (_insinuatingly, and moving her chair
nearer to ARTHUR, who draws his back_).

ARTH. For the confession which, alas! (_here a very deep sigh_) I am
about to make.

LADY F. Continue, I beg!

ARTH. Oh, madam, dear madam, dearest madam, if you only knew _all!_

LADY F. Hall? A gentleman of your acquaintance?

ARTH. I didn't say _Hall,_ madam! Let me observe, Lady Fritterly, that
this is no subject for levity.

LADY F. No one would imagine it was, from your countenance, Mr.
Vallance. Its solemnity is positively, painfully ludicrous!

SIR F. (_listening_). Why the deuce don't he open his batteries?

ARTH. (_seeing SIR FELIX, who is making energetic signs to him to
proceed with his love-making. Aside_). Well, since he will insist upon
it, here goes! (_Aloud, and in an ultra impassioned tone._) Loveliest
of women!--pardon the apparent insanity of the remark--I love you!
adore you! in fact, I rather like you! Behold me at your feet!
(_flopping down on one knee. Here SIR F. reaches over and tickles
COSEY with the feather brush, who starts up and shows his head above
the back of couch; then, seeing he is not alone, withdraws his head
again out of sight_).

LADY F. (_with pretended emotion_). Love me, Mr. Vallance? (_Aside._)
So this is the "little game," is it? (_Aloud._) Well, is that all?

ARTH. All? (_Aside_). And pretty well too, I think; what the deuce
_would_ she have? (_Aloud, and very enthusiastically._) No, madam, it
is _not_ all! I've only just begun! Oh, could you but know the
conflicting emotions, the agony, the despair-- (_counting on his
fingers. Aside._) I forgot the rest! (_Aloud._) Say, say that you love
me in return! (_seizing her hand_).

LADY F. (_with pretended emotion_). Oh, Mr. Vallance, you're too
vehement; release my hand!

ARTH. (_aside_). Release her hand! Come, I like that! I wish she'd let
go of _mine_ (_trying to disengage his hand, then catching another
glimpse of SIR F., who by signs encourages him to proceed. Aloud_).
Release this hand? Not till I've finished! Loved one! let us fly;
horses are waiting--flashing express--distant
clime--Seringapatam--Madagascar--the Sandwich Islands--anywhere.

LADY F. (_with pretended emotion and an affecting faintness_). A
sudden faintness (_leaning against VALLANCE_); oh, support me!

SIR F. (_looking out_). Holloa! holloa!

LADY F. (_looking up in ARTHUR'S face, and with mock sentimentality_).
Oh! Arthur, Arthur!

SIR F. (_behind_). Damn it, she calls him Arthur!

ARTH. (_aside_). I've been getting on _too_ fast!

LADY F. (_pathetically to VALLANCE_). Spare my blushes; I guess all
you would say.

ARTH. (_aside_). Do you? That's lucky, for _I'm_ regularly stumped.

LADY F. (_suddenly grasping VALLANCE by the wrist and dragging him
forward, almost upsetting him_). Listen! my husband is not unkind,
though he might be kinder; he is not ill-looking, indeed, he _might_
be uglier; _but_ he has one terrible defect. (_SIR F. here leans
forward and listens._) He really flatters himself that he possesses a
fund of wit; that he is literally running over with fun; whereas the
poor man really doesn't possess a single particle of either. It's very
sad, isn't it?

ARTH. Melancholy in the extreme.

LADY F. And I'm sure, as for humor--

ARTH. He's just about as much in him as an old cab horse! (_FELIX
shakes his fist at VALLANCE._)

LADY F. But alas! for every one of his dismal jokes that _you_ hear
_I_ am doomed to listen to a hundred! Is it to be wondered at, then,
that I should pant, _crave_ for a change?--(_gradually getting more
excited_)--that I should find the temptation you offer me too great to
resist?

ARTH. (_aghast_). Eh! what? You don't mean to say you consent?

LADY F. Of course I do! (_with enthusiasm_). What woman _could_ resist
the Sandwich Islands, and _you_ for a companion! In five minutes
expect me here on this spot. Give me but time to pack up my jewels, a
dozen or two dresses, and a sprinkling of hats, and I'll be with you,
my Arthur! (_Going--stops._) You won't mind my bringing my favorite
little pug-dog, of course you won't--(_going--stops again_)--and a
couple of kittens--a thousand thanks--and you won't object to putting
the parrot cage under your arm? I thought not.

     [_Runs hastily out at L. H._

     (_During the above scene COSEY occasionally shows his head above
     the back of the couch and withdraws it again._)

ARTH. A parrot cage under my arm all the way to the Sandwich Islands!
(_Shouting after LADY F._) Stop! madam, Lady Fritterly, don't hurry
yourself; take your own time--one hour, two hours, six weeks, any time
you like. Wheugh! here's a pretty state of affairs; catch me running
off with another man's couple of kittens--I mean wives--no, _wife_
again! (_thrusting both hands into his trousers-pockets and walking
violently to and fro, then flings himself into a chair at L. SIR FELIX
hurries down and drops into a chair at R. COLONEL rolls off the end of
couch enveloped in antimacassars, and seats himself in chair at C. All
pull out their white pocket-handkerchiefs, and indulge in extravagant
business, etc._).

ARTH. (_not seeing them_). Poor Sir Felix!--a pretty kettle of fish
_he's_ made of it! I've been too fascinating!

SIR F. (_coming hurriedly down_). Don't talk nonsense, sir! But of
course this is all a joke! Why don't you say it's all a joke?

ARTH. It's anything but a joke for _me!_--all the way to the Sandwich
Isles with a parrot cage under my arm!--how would you like it?

SIR F. Pshaw! you carried the thing too far, sir!--a devilish deal too
far!

ARTH. Come, I like that! I only did what you told me!--except that I
didn't tear my hair out by handfuls!

COL. (_counting his pulse_). A hundred and twenty at the very least!
(_tossing a couple of pills into his mouth--then to VALLANCE_). Now,
sir, what do you mean by making love to Lady Fritterly, and proposing
an elopement to her? It's scandalous, sir!

ARTH. Not the slightest doubt about it, uncle! but I only did it to
oblige Sir Felix!

COL. _Oblige_ Sir Felix by running off with his wife?

ARTH. Yes! in order to show you what a _desperate_ dog I had become,
so that you might put me out of the way of temptation by consenting to
my marriage with Myrtle! But now--(_with a deep sigh_)--that's all
knocked on the head!

SIR F. How so?

ARTH. Because, my dear fellow, your wife having accepted, I am bound,
as a man of honor, to run away with her!

COL. (_turning to SIR F._). Of course, as a man of honor, we're bound
to run away with her!

ARTH. A lady--(_here COLONEL turns to him_)--for whom I entertain the
highest respect!

COL. (_turning to SIR F._). A lady for whom we entertain the highest
respect!

ARTH. But--(_here COLONEL turns again to him_)--for whom I don't care
two pins!

COL. (_turning to SIR F._). But for whom we don't care two pins!

SIR F. (_fiercely to COLONEL_). You needn't be insulting by
associating Lady Fritterly with that paltry amount of haberdashery!

COL. (_feeling his pulse_). I shall be in a raging fever presently!
(_two more pills_). What's to be done? (_To VALLANCE._) Recollect
you've got to ascertain when the next train starts for the Sandwich
Islands!

ARTH. Hang it, Sir Felix! can't you suggest something? I look to you,
with your extravagant devices, to extricate me!

COL. (_to SIR F._). Yes, sir! We insist on your extricating us from
your extravagant devices!

SIR F. Well, I confess I've made a slight mistake this time, but all
isn't lost. Lady Fritterly will be here directly, when I flatter
myself she'll hear something to _her_ advantage--(_looking off at C._)
Here comes Myrtle!--couldn't be better! Now then, hide
yourselves--both of you!

ARTH. Certainly not!

COL. Certainly not!

ARTH. Another of your infernal schemes! If this fails, I really
_shall_ do something desperate! (_During this SIR FELIX has been
edging him up towards curtains, and at last pushes him behind them at
R._)

COL. (_in a helpless tone_). My system won't survive this sort of
thing! I'm sure it won't.

SIR F. (_hurrying down_). Now, colonel, on to your couch before Myrtle
sees you! (_edging him up towards couch_).

COL. (_resisting_). But I don't want to go to sleep! I'm thoroughly
wide-awake.

SIR F. Nonsense! (_forces COLONEL on couch, and heaping pillows over
him_).

COL. (_showing his head_). Tuck me up if you like, but, confound it,
don't smother me! (_keeps rising, SIR FELIX pushing him down again at
each attempt_).

ARTH. (_putting his head out from curtain_). Sir Felix!

COL. (_showing his head above couch_). Sir Felix! (_SIR F. seizes the
nearest pillow and throws it at COLONEL'S head_).

SIR F. Silence! both of you!

     _Enter MYRTLE at door L. H._

MYRT. (_laughing aside as she enters_). Ha! ha! poor Sir Felix! Grace
has told me all, and I am to humor the joke, while she watches the
result from the conservatory!

     (_During the following, until LADY F.'S entrance, the COLONEL
     shows his head occasionally above the back of the couch, but
     withdraws it again at a sign from SIR FELIX._)

SIR F. (_aside_). Now for it--(_coming down--takes MYRTLE'S hand, and
in an exaggerated tone of grief_). Myrtle! Myrtle! in me you behold a
broken-hearted husband!

MYRT. (_aside_). Very well acted, indeed! (_Aloud, and in a pretended
tone of commiseration_). Broken-hearted?

SIR F. When I say "broken-hearted," I don't wish you to infer that the
centre of my organic functions is snapped in half like a stick of
firewood--far from it, Myrtle. But I'm broken-hearted for all that!

MYRT. Absurd! while you have Grace and me to console you!

SIR F. Grace no longer. She has deserted me, and for young Vallance!
(_falling into chair and burying his face in his hands_).

     _Here LADY F. appears at C., listening._

SIR F. (_peeping out at the corner of his handkerchief, and seeing
her. Aside_). She's there! (_Aloud._) Yes, Myrtle, I'm a wretched,
abandoned man!

MYRT. You can't be serious?

SIR F. It's too true!

MYRT. What--what do you intend doing?

SIR F. I did think of shooting the young man!--but it'll be a far
greater punishment to let him live! Think what the poor, unhappy youth
will have to suffer from Grace's "little bits of temper!" poor devil!
I know what _I_ had to go through. (_LADY F. shakes her hand at SIR
F._)

MYRT. But surely you will try and prevent Grace's departure?

SIR F. (_indifferently_). I think not!--better as it is. I'm getting
used to the idea! I confess it was I who advised Vallance to make just
a certain little amount of love to my wife in order to excite your
jealousy and show you what energy the young man was capable of; but I
must confess I was not at all prepared for the perfect torrent of
impassioned eloquence with which he poured forth his _unhallowed_
flame! (_Here VALLANCE shakes both his fists at SIR F._)

SIR F. Besides, Myrtle, _dear_ Myrtle, as you very sensibly observed
just now, shall I not have _you_ to console me? (_with an exaggerated
tender look_).

MYRT. (_alarmed_). Me?

SIR F. Why not? Your lover doesn't care a pin's point about you, or he
wouldn't have agreed to my plan. My wife has about the same amount of
affection for _me,_ or she'd have withered him up with her scorn at
the first go-off. This sort of thing! (_putting on a haughty and
scornful look_).

MYRT. Well, what then?

SIR F. Can you ask? Oh, my Myrtle! my beloved Myrtle--behold me at
your feet! (_falling on both his knees and seizing her hand. Aside._)
If Grace stands this, I'm a New Zealander!

MYRT. Monster! (_flinging SIR FELIX from her, who falls on his face.
LADY FRITTERLY and VALLANCE hurry down_).

LADY F. So, Sir Felix Fritterly!

ARTH. So, Sir Felix Fritterly!

SIR F. (_getting up quietly and dusting his knees with his
pocket-handkerchief. Then suddenly bursting out into a loud laugh_).
Ha, ha, ha! Surely, my dear Grace, you didn't really think I was in
earnest?

LADY F. (_smiling_). As much in earnest, probably, as you thought me.
(_SIR FELIX takes her hand and kisses it._)

ARTH. (_joyously to LADY F._). Then you don't love me after all? You
won't insist on my accompanying you to the Sandwich Islands?

LADY F. (_drawing herself up_). Mr. Vallance! (_To SIR FELIX._) Well,
I confess you have the best of the game.

SIR F. _And_ the last laugh!

ARTH. Myrtle, have I fulfilled your conditions? have I shown some
little amount of energy?

MYRT. Yes, with a vengeance!

ARTH. And may I hope--

SIR F. Have him now, Myrtle, while you can get him!

LADY F. Keep her to her promise, Mr. Vallance!

ARTH. Gladly! But it all depends on my uncle how soon!

SIR F. Then he shall decide at once! Turn out, old tortoise! (_Wheels
couch round to face the audience, and pulling off the antimacassars,
etc._) Hang me if he isn't fast asleep! Wake up! (_tickling COLONEL
with the feather brush_).

COL. All right! Bring me my shaving-water! (_Sitting up, and looking
about him._) Holloa!

ARTH. Have you forgotten all about the elopement, uncle?

COL. Elopement! Why, you ought to have been half way to the Sandwich
Islands by this time!

ARTH. Ha! ha! We've arranged that little matter differently.

COL. (_crustily_). Then what the deuce did you wake me up for?

SIR F. To let you go off to sleep again in a more comfortable frame of
mind.

LADY F. Come, colonel! Arthur's desperately in love with Myrtle.

SIR F. And Myrtle's over head and ears in love with--

MYRT. (_interrupting him_). Felix!

SIR F. With herself! They only wait your benediction.

COL. Bother the benediction! I'll settle a thousand a year on them!

SIR F. (_shaking his hand_). The most sensible thing you've said for a
long time; and now you may go to sleep again as soon as you like.

COL. Thank you! (_Feeling his pulse._) Ninety! That's better!

SIR F. But a word at parting here! (_To audience._) How account for
our eccentric behavior? Shall we boldly forestall the critics and say
at once--

MYRT. Quite foreign in sentiment--

ARTH. Obviously borrowed from our lively neighbors--

COL. (_sententiously_). Possessing all their levity with regard to
those domestic ties--

LADY F. (_putting her hand over his mouth_). In short--Taken from the
French!

     CURTAIN FALLS.



DECLINED--WITH THANKS.

_Original Farce, in One Act._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

MR. GRITTY.

CAPTAIN TAUNTON.

EDWARD MALLINGFORD.

MR. SAMUEL SKRUFF.

SPRONKS'S BOY.

FLORENCE HALLIDAY, }
                   } (GRITTY'S nieces.)
HETTY HALLIDAY.    }

SALLY, a servant.

SCENE.--_Exterior of a villa on the banks of the Thames at
Teddington--house partly seen at L. H.--a low green railing round it,
in C. of which is a small garden gate--rustic seats, flower-beds,
etc., scattered about stage--garden wall at R. H.--door in C.--large
portable bell hanging over it--bell heard and seen to ring--noise of
voices in dispute heard outside._

SKRUFF (_without_). Don't tell me! I saw you do it! You needn't
apologize! What do you say--"You ain't a-going to?" Very well!
(_another violent ring at bell_).

     _Enter SALLY from house and crossing to R._

SALLY. Who can it be ringing in that style, I wonder? (_opens door in
C. of wall_).

     _SKRUFF enters hurriedly, holding his handkerchief to his face;
     he wears a white hat, red scarf, white waistcoat, cutaway coat,
     and very gay trousers; carries an umbrella._

SKRUFF (_walking up and down_). The young vagabond deliberately put
his toe on a loose stone and squirted half a pint of muddy water into
my eye! I saw him do it. He must be an old hand at it too, or he
wouldn't have taken such a good aim; but, luckily, I spied his name on
his basket, and if I don't spoil his trade for potatoes in this
establishment my name's not Skruff! (_Takes out a note-book and writes
in it "Spronks."_) There! and now, Spronks, my boy, look out for
squalls! Some people may like being insulted with impunity--I don't.

SALLY (_who has been following SKRUFF to and fro the stage, at last
stops him by the coat-tail_). Now, then! what's your business, young
man?

SKRUFF. "Young man!"

SALLY. If you've come for the water-rate--or the gas--or the
sewers--you must call again!

SKRUFF. Water-rate! Gas! Are you aware, young woman, that you're
addressing a gentleman?

SALLY. You don't mean it? Well, that's about the last thing I should
have thought of! It only shows one mustn't always judge by
appearances.

SKRUFF (_with importance_). I happen to be a friend of your master's.

SALLY. Well, I _am_ surprised--'cause master's so very
particular--then how came you to ring the servants' bell?

SKRUFF (_aside_). I never _shall_ get out of that habit--been used to
it so long, I suppose. (_Aloud._) Is Mr. Gritty down?

SALLY. Can't say, I'm sure, sir--but I know he ain't up.

SKRUFF. Oh! at what time does he usually get up?

SALLY. Well, sir, that depends; but, as a rule, I've observed he
usually gets up about his usual time.

SKRUFF. Does he indeed? (_Aside._) There's a flippancy about this
young woman I don't like. (_Aloud._) Perhaps the young ladies, Mr.
Gritty's nieces, are down?

SALLY. Can't say positively, sir--but I know they ain't up.

SKRUFF (_aside_). I shall not interrogate this domestic any further.
(_Aloud._) Will you inform Mr. Gritty, with my compliments, that I
have called to see him?

SALLY. Certainly, sir--but--

SKRUFF (_impressively_). I repeat, Will you inform Mr. Gritty that I
have called? Do you think you can manage that?

SALLY. Well, sir, don't you think it would be as well just to mention
the name? Do you think you can manage that? Shall I take your card,
sir?

SKRUFF. Yes! (_taking out card-case_). No! (_Aside._) Cards cost a
shilling a hundred. Why should I waste one on people I've hardly ever
seen. (_Aloud._) You can say--"Mr. Samuel Skruff." Do you think you
can remember that?

SALLY. "Skruff!" Not likely to forget it, sir--such an aristocratic
name. (_Bringing forward a three-legged rustic seat._) Like to sit
down, sir?

GRITTY (_heard from house at L._). Sally! My shaving water!--hot! all
hot!

SALLY. Coming, sir!

     [_Runs into house L._

SKRUFF. Her name's Sally, is it? (_writing in note-book_). Down goes
Sally along-side of Spronks. (_Seats himself and almost tumbles
over._) What the deuce does old Gritty mean by having such rickety
things as this about the premises?--to do a good turn to the
wooden-leg makers, I suppose! (_Sitting down very cautiously._) Now
let me see what I've come down here for (_consults note-book_). Here
we have it! (_Reads._) "Florence Halliday," "Hetty Halliday"--old
Gritty's two nieces. The fact is, dad wants to see me settled; that
is, if I can make a good thing out of it! Well, he's just heard on the
extreme quiet that one of the young ladies is very soon coming in for
£10,000!--unluckily he doesn't know which of the two--so, on the
strength of a former business acquaintance with old Gritty, he has
trotted me down here to ferret the secret out, and if I get hold of
the right scent I am to go the entire animal at once!--not likely I
should waste any time about courtship and all that sort of thing. Not
I! Only let me worm out which of the two has got the tin, and I'll
marry her to-morrow morning!--I can't say fairer than that! (_Looking
about him._) Rather a niceish sort of place this! must have cost
something! I hope old Gritty can afford it. Father says he was always
fond of squandering his money and doing good. Doing good!--what is it,
after all?--getting up a vainglorious reputation at the expense of
people who stick to their money!

GRITTY (_without, at L._). In the garden, is he? All right! I'll find
him!

     _Enter GRITTY from villa L. H._

GRITTY. Where is he? (_he is in his morning-gown, and wears a
wide-brimmed straw hat--sees SKRUFF_). Ah! my dear Samuel--(_seizing
and shaking SKRUFF'S hand violently_)--delighted to see you,
Samuel--for I suppose you are Samuel--eh, Samuel? And how's your
father, Samuel?

SKRUFF. Quite well, thank you, Mr. Gritty.

GRITTY. And your mother, too, Samuel?

SKRUFF. Quite well, thank you, Mr. Gritty.

GRITTY. And your sisters--and your uncles--and your aunts--and all the
rest of 'em--eh, Samuel?

SKRUFF. Quite well, thank you, Mr. Gritty.

GRITTY. Bless me, what a time it is since I've seen any of you--and to
think that your father and I were partners when you were a baby--and a
precious ugly little brat you were! I don't see much alteration in you
_now,_ Samuel--I mean, not for the better. Yes, "Gritty & Skruff,"
that was the name of the firm--"tailors"--"Conduit Street"--and a
capital business it was, too--and is so still, I hope.

SKRUFF. Yes; better than ever. Father's made heaps more money since
you retired! Trade's altered completely!

GRITTY. Has it? When I was in it we gave a first-rate article, paid
good wages, and were satisfied with a fair profit.

SKRUFF. We manage matters better than that _now!_

GRITTY. How so?

SKRUFF. By adding the profit on to both ends. Putting down the wages
and putting up the prices.

GRITTY. Well, well, every one to his taste! Your father chose London
smoke and slaving on to amass a fortune. _I_ preferred fresh air and a
moderate competence, and so we parted. You'll stay and dine with us
to-day, of course?

SKRUFF. Thank you, Mr. Gritty. (_Aside_). I put a paper of sandwiches
in my pocket. Never mind, they'll keep a day or two.

GRITTY. And after dinner you can tell me to what I'm indebted for the
pleasure of this visit. (_Suddenly_). By-the-bye, you'll have a glass
of wine? Of course you will! (_Calling._) Sally! bring in that
decanter of port out of the sideboard!

SKRUFF (_aside_). What extravagance!

GRITTY. Ha! ha! I remember I never could get your father to drink
anything stronger than raspberry vinegar drowned in water--and what a
wretched looking object he was!--the color of gingerbread and as thin
as a pair of nut-crackers! Do you know, Samuel, the more I look at you
the more you remind me of him?

     _Enter SALLY from house with decanter and wine-glasses on a tray,
     which she places on a small table in C.--GRITTY sits L. and
     SKRUFF R. Exit SALLY into house._

GRITTY (_pouring out a glass of wine_). There, Samuel--tell me what
you think of that (_SKRUFF sips the wine_). Zounds, man, it won't hurt
you, down with it! (_SKRUFF takes down the wine at a gulp, almost
choking himself._)

GRITTY (_after tossing off his glass of wine_). How the deuce is it
that my old friend Skruff hasn't found his way down to see me all
these years?

SKRUFF. Well, the fact is, Mr. Gritty, my father has often talked of
paying you a visit-- Thank you, I don't mind taking just one more
glass (_holding out his glass to GRITTY, who fills it--SKRUFF tosses
it down._) Let me see--I was saying--

GRITTY. That your father has often talked of paying me a visit.

SKRUFF. Exactly--but the fact is-- Well, since you insist upon it, I
don't mind just _half_ a glass more (_holding out his glass--GRITTY
fills it half full._)

GRITTY. I think you said _half_ a glass?

SKRUFF. Did I?--far be it from me to contradict you, but--(_GRITTY
laughs and fills up SKRUFF'S glass, which SKRUFF again tosses off._)

GRITTY. Now you haven't told me why my old friend hasn't been down to
see me all these years.

SKRUFF. Well, the fact is, it's such an awful expense to get down
here!

GRITTY. What! from Putney to Teddington--eighteenpence second-class
return? Surely that wouldn't have ruined him!

SKRUFF (_aside_). If ever old Gritty becomes my uncle-in-law, I shall
have to put a stop to all these extravagant notions of his.

GRITTY. Well, it seems _you_ didn't grudge the expense.

SKRUFF. Not a bit of it, because I didn't go to it! I got a lift in
our butcher's cart to Richmond--then on to Twickenham with a
benevolent baker, and walked the rest.

GRITTY (_aside_). A careful young man this! but I'm afraid my old
friend has made a trifling mistake in his calculations. He used to say
it was time enough to make a gentleman when you'd made your money--but
in my opinion, a man can't begin a bit too soon! (_Aloud._) Now,
Sammy, come and take a stroll round the grounds, and I'll introduce
you to my nieces, a couple of nice girls, Sammy! I hope you're a
lady's man (_poking him in the ribs_), ha! ha!

SKRUFF. Well, as a _rule,_ the sex _is_ rather partial to me!--ha! ha!
(_giving GRITTY a poke in the ribs_).

GRITTY. Is it? Well, there's no accounting for taste!

SKRUFF. You see, father's well off--and the pickings 'll be uncommon
good when the old boy pops off!--a great attraction to the female
mind, Mr. Gritty!

GRITTY. I dare say; but luckily, my girls will not have to look to
_money_ as the main thing! (_Looking round, and then in a confidential
whisper to SKRUFF._) Ten thousand pounds, left by a rich old aunt!
which may probably fall to--

SKRUFF (_very eagerly_). Yes! to--to--

GRITTY (_in a whisper_). Florence!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Oh! that's the one, is it? (_Writing aside in
note-book._) Then down she goes, "Sally! Spronks! Florence!"

GRITTY (_continuing_). Unless, indeed--

SKRUFF (_quickly_). Unless, indeed, what?

GRITTY. Hetty should turn out to be the lucky one!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Who's to make head or tail out of this? (_Aloud._)
Then you don't exactly know which of the two it is?

GRITTY. No, but I _shall,_ as soon as Hetty comes of age, by which
time, by-the-bye, both the girls must, according to the terms of the
will, be married.

SKRUFF. Oh! (_Aside._) It strikes me this is a dodge to get the two
girls off with one legacy! (_Aloud._) And when _does_ Miss Hetty come
of age?

GRITTY. In ten days.

SKRUFF. Ten days? Rather a short time to provide two husbands in?

GRITTY. Not at all! They're already provided!--both of 'em!

SKRUFF. Already provided! (_Aside._) And this is what I get for coming
down here and wasting my income in travelling expenses! but I'll make
a fight of it yet! If they think they're going to walk over the course
they'll find themselves mistaken! (_Aloud._) And what sort of articles
are these young chaps, eh? You can't be too particular in selecting
the _pattern,_ Mr. Gritty.

GRITTY. Oh, they're all right!--nice gentlemanly young fellows!

SKRUFF. Take care, Mr. Gritty!--I know pretty well what the general
run of "gentlemanly young fellows" is!--they're uncommon fond of
running long tailors' bills!

GRITTY. Well, you shall judge for yourself--they both dine here
to-day!

SKRUFF. To-day? (_Aside._) Then I haven't much time to lose if I'm to
cut 'em out! (_Aloud._) You haven't told me their names.

GRITTY. Oh! one is a military man, Captain Taunton of the Buffs--the
other, Edward Mallingford, of the War Office!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Don't remember either of their names--but they're
sure to be in debt somewhere or other--if I only had time to find out
_where!_ (_Aloud._) And pray, which is which destined for, Mr. Gritty?
(_Aside._) It's important for me to know that! (_taking out his
pocket-book on the sly_).

GRITTY. Oh, there's no secret about it--Florence is engaged to--
(_Seeing FLORENCE, who enters from house._) Oh! here she comes! And
Hetty is going to marry--and here _she_ comes (_seeing HETTY, who
follows FLORENCE from house_).

GRITTY. Come here, my dears! (_FLORENCE and HETTY come down_). The son
of my old partner, Mr. Samuel Skruff. (_Introducing._) Mr. Samuel
Skruff--my nieces--Miss Florence Halliday, Miss Hetty Halliday.
(_FLORENCE and HETTY courtesy._)

SKRUFF (_bowing_). Firm of Skruff & Son, Miss Florence! first-rate
business, Miss Hetty! (_To FLORENCE._) Our 13_s._ trousers is a
fortune in itself! (_To HETTY._) And as to our everlasting wear
fabric, which we advertise so extensively, it is simply all plunder!
(_following HETTY and addressing her apart with much gesticulation,
while FLORENCE comes down to GRITTY_).

FLOR. Oh! uncle, dear! why do you ask your dreadful tailoring
acquaintances here? Do try and get rid of this vulgar little man
before Captain Taunton comes, or he'll think he's a relation!

     [_Retires up._

SKRUFF (_aside_). I'm getting on first-rate (_joining FLORENCE, while
HETTY comes down_).

HETTY (_to GRITTY_). If this odious creature Skruff stays, you really
must let him have his dinner in the kitchen. I dare say he's used to
it, Edward would be perfectly horrified at his vulgarity.

GRITTY. Can't do that, my dear, but I'll relieve you of his presence
as much as I can! (_To SKRUFF._) Now, Samuel, as you've made the
acquaintance of the ladies, suppose we take a turn round the garden!
(_taking SKRUFF'S arm_).

FLOR. By all means, Mr. Skruff; there's such a beautiful view of the
river from the lawn, Mr. Skruff!

HETTY. And we've such a nice boat, Mr. Skruff!

FLOR. You can paddle yourself about in it for hours, Mr. Skruff!

HETTY. Yes, the longer the better, Mr. Skruff!

GRITTY. Come along, Sammy! (_twisting SKRUFF round--SKRUFF
resisting_).

HETTY. Good-bye, Mr. Skruff!

FLOR. Ta, ta, Mr. Skruff! (_GRITTY drags SKRUFF off, struggling at
R._)

FLOR. Well, Hetty?

HETTY. Well, Florence?

FLOR. Were you ever introduced to such an objectionable individual
before?

HETTY. Never! and the creature evidently shows symptoms of falling in
love.

FLOR. With me?

HETTY. With you? Don't flatter yourself! with _me!_ He was on the
point of saying something very tender to me when you jealously
monopolized his attention!

FLOR. Nonsense! I'm sure he was about to declare his passion for me
when you cruelly dragged him away!

HETTY. Then it's quite clear he means to marry one of us! If he honors
_me_ with the preference, I must refer him to Mallingford, ha! ha!

FLOR. And if he pops to _me,_ he'll have to settle the matter with
Captain Taunton, ha! ha! ha!

     _Here CAPTAIN TAUNTON'S head appears above the wall at R._

TAUNT. Good-morning, ladies! Will you open the door or shall I storm
the fortress? (_HETTY runs and opens door R.; TAUNTON enters_). Now,
ladies, may I ask the cause of all this merriment, and whether there
is any objection to my sharing in the joke?

FLOR. None at all, Harry; it simply means that Hetty is likely to
become "Mrs. Samuel Skruff" _vice_ "Edward Mallingford," cashiered.

HETTY. Don't be quite so positive, because it isn't _quite_ decided
yet whether it will not be "Samuel Skruff" _vice_ "Henry Taunton."
He's a tailor, and a capital hand at cutting out.

TAUNT. A very bad joke that (_they all laugh_); but of course you
can't be serious?

HETTY. That will entirely depend, most gallant captain, on whether you
are prepared to resign your pretensions! Your rival is a regular
fire-eater, I can assure you.

TAUNT. And consequently one who would stand any amount of--kicking,
eh?

FLOR. Ha! ha! But don't you think it's high time we dropped the
tailor?

TAUNT. Certainly!

HETTY. Carried _nem. con._--"of Samuel Skruff we've had enough."

FLOR. But tell me, Harry, have you arranged for the payment of the
thousand pounds?

TAUNT. Yes! and upon the most favorable terms.

FLOR. Then, not a single word to uncle on the subject until we give
you permission. Remember that!

HETTY. Well, I must run away. You'll have some little compassion on
poor Mr. Skruff, won't you, Florence? ha! ha! ha!

     [_Exit laughing into house L. H._

TAUNT. Now, perhaps you'll enlighten me! Who the deuce is Skruff?
Explain this Skruff.

FLOR. All I know of the interesting object of your inquiry is that he
is the son of an old friend of my uncle's; that the object of his
visit here is to make a conquest, on the shortest possible notice,
either of Hetty or your humble servant!

TAUNT. (_savagely_). Let Skruff beware how he poaches on my manor!

GRITTY (_heard without_). Now then, Florry, Hetty, where the deuce are
you?

FLOR. There's uncle calling; come along, Harry, I know how anxious you
must be to make Mr. Skruff's acquaintance--ha! ha!

     [_Exeunt FLORENCE and TAUNTON at back R._

     _Enter SKRUFF hurriedly at back from L._

SKRUFF. Confound old Gritty! Wouldn't let me go till he'd dragged me
through several acres of lettuces and spring onions; consequently the
girls have vanished and I've lost my chance. Wish to goodness I knew
which of the two was to have the money (_bell rings_).

SKRUFF (_opening gate R. and seeing SPRONKS'S boy with basket on his
arm_). The youthful Spronks again. Come in!

SPRONKS (_entering, then giving the basket to SKRUFF_). Them's the
taters and them's the ignuns!

SKRUFF. Of course; do you suppose I don't know a tater from an ignun?
(_Aside._) I'll see if I can't pump a little information out of
Spronks! (_Aloud._) Been long in the neighborhood, Spronks?

SPRONKS. Ever since I've been in it, sir!

SKRUFF. Have you indeed?--then of course you know something about Mr.
Gritty, eh?

SPRONKS. I know he's a downright trump, and has always got a shilling
to spare for them as wants it!--_I_ wants one dreadful bad just now!
(_going--stops_). Now don't you go and forget--them's the
taters--(_going_).

SKRUFF. Stop a minute!--there's--twopence for you! (_giving money to
SPRONKS'S boy, who turns to go_). Don't be in such a hurry.
(_Confidentially._) I dare say you hear a good deal of tattle from the
servants, eh? (_patting boy familiarly on the back_)--here's another
twopence for you!--now about the money that's coming to the young
ladies--do you happen to have heard which of the two is likely to have
it?

SPRONKS (_looking round mysteriously_). Well! I don't mind telling you
all I know!

SKRUFF. That's right--here's another twopence for you! Now then
(_taking out his note-book_).

SPRONKS. Well, sir--I've been making no end of inquiries about it from
servants and tradespeople, and at last I've found out--

SKRUFF (_eagerly_). Yes! yes!

SPRONKS. That I know just as much about it now as before I began--ha!
ha! ha! (_runs up to gate--stops_). Don't go and forget which is the
taters!

     [_Runs out._

SKRUFF. That boy will end his days in penal servitude!

     _Enter SALLY from house._

SALLY. How late that boy is with the vegetables!

SKRUFF. Here they are, Sally--I took 'em in! (_giving SALLY the
basket_)--them's the taters!

SALLY. Thank'ee sir (_going_).

SKRUFF. Stop a minute, Sally! Do you know, I've taken quite a fancy to
give you a shilling? (_SALLY hurries back_). (_Aside._) That eagerness
to collar the shilling convinces me that sixpence would have been
enough! (_Aloud._) Been long in the Gritty family, Sally?

SALLY. Ever since I first came, sir--not before.

SKRUFF. That's a remarkable fact!--find yourself comfortable here, eh,
Sally?

SALLY. Nothing much to complain of, sir; twelve pounds a year,
everything found--except beer--and every other Sunday!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Except beer and every other Sunday! (_Aloud._) And
your young ladies, Sally. They treat you kindly, eh?

SALLY. Yes, sir. We get on very comfortably, my young Missussesses and
me.

SKRUFF (_aside._) She gets on very comfortably, her young Missussesses
and she.

SALLY. They give me their old dresses and does their own hair.

SKRUFF. Oh! they does their own hair, does they? Ah! (_with
intention_). It's a nice thing, Sally, to come in for a hatful of
money, eh?

SALLY. Yes, sir. Ever so much nicer than sixpence?

SKRUFF. Ah! _Miss Hetty_ will be a fortunate girl, eh?

SALLY. Think so, sir?

SKRUFF. Unless, indeed, _Miss Florence_ should be the lucky one? Now
tell me, if you were a betting man, which color would you bet on?

SALLY. Well, I think I should take the _fair_ one for choice!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Hetty, evidently.

SALLY. Unless the _dark_ one should happen to come in first--but you
can't expect me to say any more for sixpence.

SKRUFF. Then the sixpence will have to stay where it was! (_Pockets
the coin._)

SALLY. All right! dare say you want it a deal more than I do!
(_Going--stops, and bobbing a courtesy._) Please sir, which did you
say was the taters?--ha! ha!

     [_Runs off into house._

SKRUFF (_looking after her_). There goes another candidate for penal
servitude! This sort of thing won't do. I _must_ make up my mind one
way or the other, so I'll make a bold stroke for Hetty and chance it!
(_During this speech HETTY has entered at L.--stops and listens._)

HETTY. So, so! Then I must prepare myself for an equally bold
resistance (_coming forward humming a tune_).

SKRUFF (_seeing her_). Ah, Miss Hetty!

HETTY. Ah, Mr. Skruff!

SKRUFF. Do you know, Miss Hetty, I'm quite pleased with this little
place of your uncle's!--there's something about it--a sort of a kind
of a--umph!

HETTY. Yes. I have noticed myself that there's something about it--a
sort of a kind of a--(_imitating SKRUFF_).

SKRUFF. In short, it's the sort of place one could live in
altogether--I shouldn't mind it _myself_--but not _alone!_ (_with a
tender look at HETTY_).

HETTY (_with pretended sentimentality_). Of course not, Mr. Skruff!
"Who would inhabit this bleak world alone?" You would require a
companion--with beauty--amiability--and--

SKRUFF (_sentimentally_). Ten thousand pounds! (_Aside._) Neatly
suggested!

HETTY. Ten thousand pounds! Why, that's a fortune, Mr. Samuel!

SKRUFF (_aside_). _Mr. Samuel!_ She's coming round! By Jove! I'll risk
it--neck or nothing, here goes! (_suddenly seizing HETTY'S hand._) If
_you_ had ten thousand pounds, Miss Hetty--do you think you could be
happy with a gentleman like me? (_very sentimentally_).

HETTY (_aside_). A positive declaration! (_hiding her face in her
handkerchief to conceal her laughter--then trying to release her
hand_). Release my hand!--I beg!--I implore! If Captain Taunton should
see us--

SKRUFF (_aside_). Captain Taunton!--the fellow that old Gritty was
talking about!--after Hetty, is he? That's a sure sign the money lies
in this quarter! (_Aloud._) Ah, Miss Hetty--these military gents
seldom come to any good!--I should strongly advise you to give him up!
I should indeed!--if he's a _gentleman,_ he won't make any fuss about
it!

HETTY. Ah, Mr. Skruff, you don't know the captain--his very quietest
moments are characterized by the most savage ferocity. Tell me
(_seizing his arm_), can you shoot?

SKRUFF. Well, I used to be considered quite a crack shot at the
bull's-eye!

HETTY. At the Wimbledon meeting?

SKRUFF. No! at the end of a barrow--for nuts!

HETTY. That's nothing! The captain can snuff a candle with a bullet at
thirty paces!

SKRUFF. Can he? but doesn't he find that rather an inconvenient
substitute for snuffers?

TAUNT. (_heard without at R._). Good-bye, then, for the present.

HETTY (_starting, and pretending alarm_). Ah! his voice--my absence
has excited his suspicions--should he find us together we are lost!
Break the painful intelligence to him gently--but be firm, Samuel, be
firm! (_Aside._) Now to tell Florence.

     [_Runs into house L._

SKRUFF. On second thoughts, perhaps I'd better not break the painful
intelligence to him on our first interview, it would hardly be
delicate. Besides, I really shouldn't like to commit an act of
violence on Gritty's premises--it wouldn't be the right thing to do!
Here he comes! I'll pretend not to notice him! (_Seats himself at back
at L., and taking out a newspaper, which he pretends to read._)

     _Enter CAPTAIN TAUNTON at back from R._

TAUNT. (_not seeing SKRUFF_). Yes! There is no doubt about it, it
certainly _was_ risking a good deal to raise that one thousand pounds;
but who could resist Florence's entreaties. One thing is quite
certain--Mr. Gritty must know nothing about it.

SKRUFF (_watching him over his newspaper_). Old Gritty must know
nothing about _what?_

TAUNT. The old gentleman has such a horror of accommodation-bills!

SKRUFF. Oh! oh! accommodation-bills, eh? That's your little game, my
fine fellow, is it? I've got him safe enough now, and can split upon
him at any time. I wonder what he's reading? (_Seeing TAUNTON, rises
and comes cautiously down behind him to look over his shoulder at the
letter--stumbles._)

TAUNT. (_looking round--aside_). The tailor! (_Aloud._) Perhaps you
would like to read my private letters, sir?

SKRUFF. I should, very much-- I mean no, of course not.

TAUNT. What were you going to say, Mr.--Stuff?

SKRUFF. Skruff! (_Aside._) I wish Miss Hetty had broken the "painful
intelligence" to him herself. I don't relish the idea of being
"snuffed out" at thirty paces. Never mind, I'll risk it. (_Aloud._)
Captain Taunton, I believe?

TAUNT. Well, sir, what then? (_angrily_).

SKRUFF. Now don't be jumping down my throat because I've an unpleasant
duty to perform. In a word--I deeply regret to inform you--

TAUNT. (_fiercely_). _You,_ sir?

SKRUFF. I mean. Miss Halliday begs me to inform you--

TAUNT. (_impetuously_). Go on!

SKRUFF. I'm going to go on, sir.

TAUNT. Miss Halliday begs you to inform me--what?

SKRUFF. That when she accepted you as a friend of the family she had
no intention whatever of accepting you as a _husband_--and _now,_ she
_thinks_--I mean, _imagines_--I should say, _believes,_ she's made a
slight mistake, because she finds she likes somebody else _better._

TAUNT. What! (_seizing SKRUFF by the collar and shaking him._)

SKRUFF. It's no use giving way to your "savage ferocity," sir; if you
don't believe me, you'd better go and ask Miss Hetty yourself.

TAUNT. (_leaving hold of SKRUFF_). _Hetty!_ Did you say Hetty?
(_Aside._) One of her practical jokes evidently. Ha! ha! ha! (_Pulls
out his handkerchief and uses it to conceal his laughter, and at the
same time drops the letter on stage._)

SKRUFF (_in a compassionate tone to TAUNTON, who has still got his
handkerchief to his face, and patting him commiseratingly on the
back_). Now don't go and make yourself miserable because another
fellow has stepped into the ten thousand pounds!

TAUNT. (_aside_). The mercenary rascal! I see Hetty's "little game"
now.

SKRUFF. Keep your pecker up, noble captain. I didn't mean to cut you
out, upon my life I didn't!

TAUNT. (_aside_). I'll humor the fellow. (_Aloud, and with a very deep
sigh._) Well, Mr.--Mr.--

SKRUFF. One moment (_presents card to TAUNTON_).

TAUNT. (_reading_). "Skruff--Tailor--Conduit Street. Orders promptly
attended to." Your information, Mr. Skruff, I confess, is not a
pleasant one! Far from it, Mr. Skruff! (_gives a very deep sigh_).

SKRUFF. Now don't go on sighing like that, or you'll be doing yourself
some frightful internal injury!

TAUNT. Hetty will make you a good wife, Mr. Skruff, and a good mother
to the little Skruffs, Mr. Skruff. Might I ask to be allowed to stand
godfather to your first, Mr. Skruff?

SKRUFF. My dear sir, you shall stand godfather to the first dozen or
two if you like!

TAUNT. Thank you, Mr. Skruff--but alas! alas! what is to become of the
poor abandoned, broken-hearted Taunton? (_another very deep sigh_).

SKRUFF. Well! I don't like to advise--but I really don't see why you
shouldn't chuck yourself in the water, especially if you can't swim!

TAUNT. (_very quietly_). Drown myself--not I! I shall at once propose
to the other sister!

SKRUFF (_aghast_). What! (_seeing letter on stage, and putting his
foot on it_). You mean to propose to Miss Florence?

TAUNT. Yes! this very day, this very hour! I suppose I shall be safe
in that quarter? You won't have the heart to molest me _there,_ Mr.
Skruff. (_Aside._) Now to let Mallingford know about this wretched
little interloper! I shall be sure to meet him coming from the
station! (_Aloud, and grasping SKRUFF'S hand._) Good-bye, Mr. Skruff!
you have acted nobly!--nobly!--nobly, Mr. Skruff!

     [_Shaking his hand violently, and going off at gate R._

SKRUFF. Have I? Don't be too sure about that! Wheugh! I've got the
most excruciating attack of pins and needles all up my leg in trying
to hide this letter! (_Picks it up._) The question is, ought I to read
it? Of course I ought, or how should I know what's in it. Here goes!
(_Reading letter._) "Dear Harry, I can raise the one thousand pounds
on our joint acceptance, for a term--but for Heaven's sake conceal
this from Mr. Gritty. Yours, Teddy." Teddy!--Teddy what? Teddy who?
Yes; I remember now--I've got him down somewhere! (_looking at his
memorandum-book_). Here he is!--"Edward Mallingford"--he's old
Gritty's other young man! Here's a bit of luck!--I've got both the
young chaps in my clutches now. Ha! ha!--but stop a
bit--(_reflecting_). Isn't it rather strange, if the captain was
_really_ in love with Hetty, that he should give her up so
quietly?--then the eagerness with which he bound me down not to cut
him out with Florence. What if the money comes to _her_ after all!
Luckily, I haven't quite committed myself yet--and what's more, I
won't.

     _FLORENCE has entered from house and runs down eagerly to
     SKRUFF._

FLOR. (_seizing SKRUFF'S hand_). Hetty has told me all--all, Mr.
Skruff. I cordially congratulate you on your conquest! (_shaking
SKRUFF'S hand violently_).

SKRUFF (_trying to remove his hand_). I really don't exactly
understand-- (_Aside._) A clear case--they think they've hooked me. If
Hetty had got the money they wouldn't be so precious polite!
(_Aloud._) I'm afraid, miss, we're laboring under some little mistake!

FLOR. Mistake? Not at all! Did you not propose to my sister?

SKRUFF. Propose? You mean pop? Ha! ha! ha! Excuse my laughing--but it
really is so very ridiculous!

FLOR. Excuse me, Mr. Skruff--but your merriment is an insult. Poor
Hetty! I'm afraid she'll be quite broken-hearted!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Another broken-hearted one! It runs in the family!

FLOR. Besides, even if Captain Taunton resigns in your favor--

SKRUFF. He _has!_ in the handsomest manner! He's even proposed to
stand godfather to our first! but, says I, "No, Taunton, my boy,
certainly not," says I, "I will _not_ blight your young life, Taunton,
my boy," says I.

FLOR. How generous of you! (_Aside._) The little hypocrite!

SKRUFF (_aside_). If Hetty doesn't get the money, Florence must!
That's logic, so here goes! (_Aloud._) Miss Florence, I hope you will
pardon the liberty I am about to take--

FLOR. A liberty! from _you_--_you_ whom I hope I may look upon as a
_friend!_ (_with pretended earnestness_).

SKRUFF. _Dearest_ miss--you may!

FLOR. Then I may venture to ask your advice on a matter of the most
vital importance to me!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Now for Teddy! If Teddy doesn't catch it hot it'll
be no fault of mine! So look out for squalls, Teddy! (_Aloud._) I
think I can guess the subject you are about to refer to--a certain
Mr.--Mr.--(_taking a side look at his memorandum-book_)--Edward
Mallingford?

FLOR. Exactly!--do you know him?

SKRUFF. Personally, no!--professionally, as the signer of
accommodation-bills by the bushel, intimately!

FLOR. Mr. Mallingford? There must be some mistake!

SKRUFF. Yes! it was a gigantic mistake on your old fool of an uncle's
part to admit him here at all! If he'd had a grain of common-sense
he'd have seen that he only came here after your ten thousand pounds.

FLOR. (_smiling_). _My_ ten thousand pounds!

SKRUFF (_aside_). She doesn't deny it! Rapture!

FLOR. (_drawing a long sigh_). Ah! Mr. Skruff--what dangers surround
the hapless girl destined by cruel fate to be an heiress!

SKRUFF (_in a sympathizing tone_). It must be very unpleasant! though
I never was an heiress myself!

FLOR. Would that all men were as disinterested as you, sir!

SKRUFF. True, Miss Florence--for my part, if I were to marry a young
lady with ten thousand pounds--

FLOR. You'd settle it all on herself--I _know_--I'm _sure_ you would!
The quiet charm of a country life would be unspeakable rapture to you!
To help her to tend her flowers--to feed her poultry--to grow her own
currants and gooseberries--

SKRUFF. And her own eggs--and new-laid butter!

FLOR. But alas! Mallingford is my uncle's choice, and our union is
irrevocable!

SKRUFF. It wouldn't break your heart, then, to part with Teddy!
because if you really _do_ feel a sort of a sneaking kindness for me,
I'll do all I can for you, I will indeed.

FLOR. (_with pretended emotion_). Oh, Mr. Skruff!--but, of course--my
uncle--ah! he's here--

     [_Runs off hastily into house._

SKRUFF. She refers me to her uncle! nothing could be plainer! I'll
soon obtain his consent by enlightening his weak mind as to Master
Teddy and his friend the captain!

     _Enter GRITTY at back._

GRITTY. Oh, here you are, Sammy! What the deuce have you been doing
with yourself?

SKRUFF (_aside_). I must give old Gritty a lesson! (_Aloud._) Mr.
Gritty, allow me to remark, with the greatest possible respect, that
you're an infant! a positive infant!

GRITTY (_looking at him--aside_). Samuel's been at the sherry!

SKRUFF. Yes, Gritty! there's a simple confiding innocence about you
that's positively pitiable!

GRITTY (_angrily_). Gently, Samuel, gently! What the deuce are you
driving at?

SKRUFF. In one word--what do you know about this Captain Taunton and
Teddy?

GRITTY. Teddy! who the deuce is Teddy?

SKRUFF. Mr. Edward Mallingford.

GRITTY. That they're as pleasant, gentlemanly a couple of young
fellows as you'll find in England! What have you to say against them,
eh?

SKRUFF. Only this, that you've been done, Gritty--decidedly done!

GRITTY (_aside_). He decidedly _has_ been at the sherry! (_Aloud._)
Your proofs, Mr. Skruff! (_angrily_).

SKRUFF. Nothing easier! Read that (_hands letter to GRITTY_).

GRITTY (_reading_). What's this? Can I believe my eyes? Young men of
good family--with handsome allowances--raising the wind in this
disreputable manner! It's disgraceful!--then to keep me in the
dark--it's petty! paltry! contemptible! (_walking up and down_).

SKRUFF (_following him_). That's what _I_ say! It's petty! paltry!
contemptible!

GRITTY (_suddenly turning and facing SKRUFF_). Look here, Skruff! if
you've no particular desire to be strangled, you'll hold your tongue!
I'll break off both engagements at once!

SKRUFF. That's right!

GRITTY. They shall neither of them dine here to-day!

SKRUFF. Right again!

GRITTY (_turning savagely on him and shouting_). Will you hold your
infernal tongue! (_Shouting._) Florence! Hetty!

     _Enter FLORENCE and HETTY running from house--SALLY following._

FLOR.  }
       } (_together_). What's the matter, uncle?
HETTY. }

GRITTY. The matter, this! Florence, you'll give up Taunton! Hetty,
Mallingford no longer visits here!

FLOR.  }
       } (_together_). Oh, uncle!
HETTY. }

SKRUFF (_aside to FLORENCE_). Rely on me. _I'll_ never forsake you!

HETTY. But, uncle dear!

SKRUFF (_aside to her_). Never mind! _I_ won't give up.

HETTY. You forget that if we're not both married by the time I come of
age--

FLOR. We shall neither of us get the money!

GRITTY (_angrily_). The money may go to the deuce!

SKRUFF. No! don't say that, Gritty! (_Aside to him._) I'll take one of
'em! I don't care which! (_Aside._) What a pity I can't marry them
both! (_Bell rings; SALLY runs and opens gate; enter TAUNTON and
MALLINGFORD_).

GRITTY. Here they both are! Captain Taunton (_bowing distantly_). I
regret to inform you that the engagement between you and my niece is
broken off! To you, Mr. Mallingford, I can only repeat the same.

TAUNT.   }
         } (_astounded_). You surely must be joking, sir.
MALLING. }

SKRUFF (_aside_). Is he though! Stick to 'em, Gritty! stick to 'em!

TAUNT. (_to GRITTY_). We require to know your reasons, sir.

SKRUFF. Natural enough. By all means, Gritty. Give the gentlemen your
reasons, Gritty.

GRITTY. In a word, then, this gentleman (_pointing to SKRUFF_) informs
me--

SKRUFF (_shouting_). No such thing! I deny it! (_Aside to GRITTY._)
Don't go and drag me into it.

GRITTY (_handing letter to MALLINGFORD_). Do you know this letter,
sir?

MALLING. (_starting_). By all that's unfortunate, Taunton, my letter
to you!

TAUNT. About the one thousand pounds?

GRITTY. You confess it, then?

MALLING. One moment, sir! Knowing your objections to raising money on
bills, my friend Taunton and I would certainly rather you had not seen
this letter, but fortunately in this case no bill was necessary. You
do not appear to have read the whole of the contents. (_Opens letter,
and presenting it to GRITTY._) Please to turn over the page.

GRITTY (_turning over page of letter, and reading to himself_). What's
this? Holloa, Samuel, you never told me to turn over!

SKRUFF. Turn over? What! at your time of life! You couldn't have done
it!

GRITTY (_reading letter_). "My brother has just returned to town, and
I have got a check for the amount we require, so that the confidence
of our kind old friend, Mr. Gritty, will not be abused after all."
Bravo! I say, Samuel, ain't you glad to hear this, eh? (_slapping
SKRUFF on the back_).

SKRUFF. Intensely! (_Aside._) I wish I was well out of it!

GRITTY (_to TAUNTON and MALLINGFORD_). So you don't owe a penny?

TAUNT. Not one farthing.

GRITTY. Then I apologize for my unjust suspicions--although I should
like to know what you young fellows could want with one thousand
pounds.

FLOR. Nothing very serious, uncle.

HETTY. Merely a commission which these gentlemen have undertaken for
Florence and me.

GRITTY. For _you?_

FLOR. Yes; the purchase of the meadow behind the orchard, which you
have always been so anxious to possess.

HETTY. To be our joint gift out of our fortune, uncle, when I came of
age.

GRITTY. Bless their affectionate little hearts! (_kissing FLORENCE and
HETTY_). Doesn't this warm one up, eh, Sammy?

SKRUFF. Y-e-s--I do feel _warmish!_ (_Aside._) I'm in a raging fever!
(_Aloud._) Then I suppose, Mr. Gritty, there need be no further
concealment as to which of the two (_pointing to FLORENCE and HETTY_)
is the lucky heiress. (_Aside._) It's as well to know.

GRITTY. That's all settled long ago--the ten thousand pounds will be
divided equally between them.

SKRUFF. Oh! (_Aside._) Well, after all, five thousand pounds less,
that idiotic meadow is worth having; and I am tolerably secure in the
affections of both heiresses--I'm pretty sure of getting one.
(_Beckoning aside to TAUNTON._) I believe, sir, I am correct in coming
to the conclusion that your affections are fixed on the younger of Mr.
Gritty's nieces, Miss Hetty?

TAUNT. Sir! (_indignantly_).

SKRUFF. Now don't fly out in that way--it's perfectly immaterial to
me--you can have your choice--nothing can be fairer than that!

TAUNT. Before I reply to _your_ question, Mr.--Mr.--

SKRUFF. Skruff.

TAUNT. Mr. Skruff--perhaps you'll be good enough to answer mine--how
did you come to open a letter addressed to another?

SKRUFF. How did I open it? In the usual way, I assure you.

TAUNT. For which I have half a mind to give you a sound horsewhipping!

SKRUFF. My dear sir, as long as you have only _half_ a mind, and
_keep_ to it, you may threaten me as much as you think proper.
Besides, sir, as I flatter myself that Miss Florence honors me with
her partiality--(_bowing to FLORENCE_).

FLOR. Excuse me, Mr. Skruff! Flattered by your proposal, but compelled
to decline (_courtesying very low and giving her hand to TAUNTON_).

SKRUFF (_aside_). That's no go. (_Aloud._) How silly of me, to be
sure! Of course, when I said Miss _Florence_ I meant Miss _Hetty_
(_about to advance_).

MALLING. (_meeting him_). Pardon me, Mr. Skruff! I have a prior claim
(_holding out his hand to HETTY_). Dear Hetty!

HETTY (_giving her hand to MALLINGFORD_). Dear Teddy!

SKRUFF (_aside_). Another no go.

GRITTY. Why, Sammy, what a desperate fellow you are--have you been
falling in love with _both_ my girls?

TAUNT. With neither, Mr. Gritty--but desperately smitten with their
ten thousand pounds!

GRITTY. Oh! oh! that was your little game, eh, Sam?

SKRUFF. I'll trouble you not to _Sam_ me, Mr. Gritty! I beg you to
understand that I'm not going to stand _Sam_ any longer! (_drawing
himself up_). I sha'n't stop to dinner, Gritty!

ALL (_with pretended regret, and in a very appealing tone_). Oh, don't
say so!

SKRUFF. But I _do_ say so.

SALLY (_aside to him_). _Now_ you haven't told me which is the taters,
sir!

SKRUFF. Open the gate, young woman! (_SALLY goes to open gate._)
Good-morning, Mr. Gritty! Good-morning, ladies! I hope you'll be
happy--though I wouldn't give much for your chance. (_Advancing
rapidly to the front._) After all, perhaps I've had a narrow
escape--who knows but I may have cause to be grateful that I _have_
been declined--

ALL (_with low courtesies and bows_). With thanks!

     _As SKRUFF hurries up, accompanied with repeated bows and
     courtesies, the_

     CURTAIN FALLS.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on images posted by the Internet Archive
and which were scanned from a copy made available by the Library of
Congress:

     archive.org/details/comediettasfarce00mort

The following changes were noted:

-- p. 20: (_pointing to BOX_, only being at home--Changed comma after
"BOX" to a closing parenthesis.

-- p. 20: COX. _and_ BOX. True.--Deleted period after "COX".

-- p. 32: BOX (_leaning over COX'S shoulder_). A lady's got out--The
lines before and after this line were both assigned to Box, therefore
the names Box and Cox were switched.

-- p. 68: (_Aside to JESSIE, as he goes towards table_),--For
consistency, the comma after the parenthesis has been changed to a
period and inserted after "_table_".

-- p. 73: (_going up to meet CHIRPER, who enters at C_).--Inserted a
period after "C".

-- p. 97: (_Doctor looks at her again and gives a loud
sigh._)--Changed "_Doctor_" to unitalicized small caps in html version
of file and all caps in text version for consistency.

-- p. 104: MRS. P For you?--Inserted a period after "P".

-- p. 147: In the cast list, added a period after "MR. SAMUEL SKRUFF"
and "SPRONKS'S BOY" for consistency.

-- p. 148: SALLY If you've come for the water-rate--Inserted a period
after "SALLY".

-- p. 148: SALLY Well, sir, that depends--Inserted a period after
"SALLY".

-- p. 150: . . . the name of the firm--"tailors"--'Conduit Street"
. . . --Changed the single quotation mark before "Conduit" to a double
quotation mark.

-- p. 151: GRITTY (_pouring out a glass of wine_) There,
Samuel--Inserted a period after the closing parenthesis.

-- p. 155: HETTY (_to Gritty_). If this odious creature Skruff
stays--Changed "_Gritty_" to small caps in the html version of the
file and all caps in the text version for consistency.

-- p. 161: TAUNT. (_heard without at R_).--Added a period after "R".

-- p. 163: _at the same time drops the letter on stage._--Inserted a
closing parenthesis after "_stage._"

-- p. 164: _Florence has entered from house and runs down
eagerly_--Changed "_Florence_" to small caps in the html version of
the file and all caps in the text version for consistency.

-- p. 170: the ten thousand pounds will be divided equally beween
them.--Changed "beween" to "between".





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