Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Biographical > A Lady of England-The Life and Letters of Charlotte Maria Tucker > CHAPTER IV
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
A FARCE IN TWO ACTS; by Charlotte Maria Tucker.


    Colonel Stumpley.
    Corporal Catchup.
    Weasel—A Butler.
    O’Shannon—A Soldier.
    Mrs. Judith Rattleton.
    Miss Sophia Rattleton.
    Miss Barbara Rattleton.
    Miss Horatia Rattleton.

Scene laid in Northumberland, in and near the house of Mrs. Judith.

Enter Charles.

Charles. A cold, wet, and misty evening, and above all to one whose pockets are not lined! My foolish fancy for the Stage has brought me to a declining stage, if not a stage of decline. Heigh ho! how dark it is getting! Just the sort of place to meet with a[40] ghost of Hamlet, not the sort of hamlet that I’m looking after, for I have done with theatrical effects,—I wish that I had done with the effects of cold. How dark and gloomy that church steeple looks over the trees! I’m close to a churchyard, I suppose. And—ey! ey! what on earth are those white things upon the grass? Clothes put out to dry; what an ass I was not to see that before! but fasting makes one nervous. There’s a house. How cheerful the lights look in it! I hear the sound of a piano going. There must be ladies there, and ladies are ever good and kind. What if I were to try my fortune at the door? My poor namesake Prince Charlie must have put wanderers into fashion. Northumberland is near enough to Scotland to have imbibed a little of its spirit of romance. Poor Prince! we are fellows in misfortune as we were partners in ambition. We both sought to play the King, I on the boards, he in Britain; but his frea-king and my moc-king are both changed to aching on the moors, and a skul-king too, which makes us as thin as skeletons. I’ll try and muster up courage for a knock. [Knocks.]

I should not look the worse for a new coat, I think. My knee-ribbons are bleached quite pale with the wind and the rain. Mais n’importe! the man, the man remains the same! These locks have proved the keys to a Lady’s heart e’er now; and then wit and eloquence! When I was flogged at school for affirming that a furbelow must be an article, as I knew it to be an article of dress, my Master observed that all my brains lay at the root of my tongue; and the best position for them too, say I! Who would keep a prompter to bellow to one from the top of the Monument, and where’s the use of carrying one’s brains so high, that one must send a carrier pigeon express for one’s thoughts before one can express them at all? Better have wit to cover ignorance, than silence to conceal sense. One can’t squint into a man’s head to see what it contains. Here comes a light to the door: now for the encounter.

Weasel opens the door.

Is Mrs. [coughs] at home? Pray present my compliments to her, and say that a gentleman who has lost his way entreats the favour of shelter for a night under her hospitable roof.

Weasel. Shall I take up your name, Sir?

Charles. No, Sir, you may take up my words. [Exit Weasel.] Had the fellow been a Constable he might have taken me up also, for in this apparel I look more like a highwayman than a gentleman in a highway. How very cold it is! I wish that the triangular-nosed fellow would make haste; and yet my heart misgives me.[41] I must ‘screw my courage to the sticking point!’ Impudence, impudence is my passport! I hear him shuffling downstairs. Be hardy, bold, and resolute, my heart.

Weasel opens the door.

Weasel. Sir, my Mistress begs you to walk up.

Charles. Go on, go on, I’ll follow thee! [Exeunt.]

Charles. Mrs. Judith. The Misses Sophia, Barbara, and Horatia Rattleton.

Charles. For all this unmerited kindness, most kind and fair ladies, a lonely wanderer can only return you thanks.

[The young Ladies whisper together.]

Sophia. Handsome, isn’t he?

Horatia. Such a flow of eloquence, such a command of language.

Barbara. I wonder, Ratty, who he is.

Mrs. Jud. Do you come from the North, Sir?

Charles. I have spent the last few months there, Madam, though I was not born in Scotland. They were unfortunate months to me. I came to England on my Company’s being broken up.

Horatia. Your Company! did you serve King George?

Charles. No, Miss, I tried to serve myself.

Horatia. [Aside to Barbara.] Strange, is it not?

Sophia. Why was your company broken up?

Charles. Because we were not able to raise a Sovereign amongst us. We were sadly cut up.

Horatia. [Eagerly.] By the Dragoons?

Charles. [Laughing.] Do not inquire too closely, fair Lady.

Mrs. Jud. May I ask your name, Sir?

Charles. Charles Stu— [Aside.] Ass that I am!

Mrs. Jud. I beg your pardon, Sir, I did not hear you.

Charles. [Aside.] The first word that comes! [Aloud.] Dapple, Madam, Dapple. [Aside.] I might have hit on a more romantic name, but my brain seems in a whirl.

Horatia. It is a very curious study to trace the derivations....

Mrs. Jud. Any way related to the Dapples of....


Sophia. Down, Adonis, down! your dirty little paws....

Horatia. One would suppose them sometimes prophetical of future events. Who can deny that Hanover....

Barbara. Our family name of....

Horatia. [Raising her voice.] Who can deny that Hanover has a great resemblance to Hand-over, or that Cumberland is as just a denomination for the bloody Duke as if....

Sophia. Pretty little pet he is, is he not?

Barbara. Our family name of Rattleton is said to be derived from a famous Ancestor of ours, a chief of the ancient Britons....

Mrs. Jud. My Cousin by the Mother’s side....

Barbara. Whose head being cleft from his shoulders as he was driving his chariot into the thickest of....

Mrs. Jud. The family of the Goslings....

Horatia. Also passionately fond of Heraldry....

Barbara. His spirit seemed unconquered even by the blow which decapitated him, and he drove on....

Horatia. A Lion rampant over 6 grasshoppers....

Barbara. Whence our name of Rattle-ton or Rattle-on is said to be derived.

Charles. [Aside.] This is beyond endurance. They stun me. What a nest of parrots I am in! I cannot get in a word.

Horatia. Thus, Sir, your name of ... I beg your pardon, Sir, it has slipped my memory.

Charles. [Aside.] Hang me, if it has not fairly bolted from mine!

Mrs. Jud. Mr. Charles Dapple.

Charles. [Aside.] I’ll change the conversation. [To Horatia.] You seem much devoted, Miss, to scientific pursuits.

Horatia. O, they are my delight, my recreation! Ornithology, Mythology, Geology, Conchology, fascinate me. I was first given my taste for the higher branches of these intellectual sciences by....

Sophia. Mr. Dapple, have you remarked my pretty little....

Horatia. My Uncle in the Scilly Isles, whose mind....

Sophia. Have you remarked....

Horatia. A profound genius....

Sophia. My little poodle, Adonis?

Horatia. By-the-by, Mr. Dapple, may I ask your opinion on a much disputed point, where I venture to differ even from my Uncle? What do you think of the Aerolites?

Charles. [Turning to Sophia.] A sweet little dog, indeed: what fine eyes!

Horatia. Do you think them....


Charles. The little pink ribbon round its neck is so becoming.

Horatia. [Raising her voice.] Mr. Dapple, Mr. Dapple, do you think the Aerolites....

Charles. [Aside.] Help me, my mother-wits!

Horatia. Do you agree in the generally received opinion....

Charles. [Aside.] Some political party perhaps!

Horatia. Or do you think them....

Charles. Why, ma’am, I think—I—I am decidedly of opinion—that—that—the....

Horatia. The Aerolites....

Charles. Are nothing more or less than Jacobites.

All the Ladies. Jacobites!

Horatia. Why, Sir, I always thought them a sort of stone....

Charles. Stone-fruit, true, true; I spoke without thinking. Stone-fruit, a species of—of—apricots.

Barbara. Hark, there is a knock at the door. Peep through the shutters, Ratty, and see who it is.

Charles. [Aside.] A little diversion for me. I am growing so hot. Silence to cover sense would in this case....

Horatia. ’Tis old Colonel Stumply.

Charles. [Starting up.] Colonel Stumply! I’m dished.

The Ladies. Why—what—who——

Charles. Perhaps you will permit me, ladies, to retire. I feel indisposed—faint! [Exit.]

Mrs. Jud. I must go and welcome my old friend. [Exit.]

Horatia. Bab!

Barbara. Ratty!

Horatia. What a flash of electricity has burst on my intellect!

Sophia. His noble air; his wan features....

Horatia. A fugitive....

Sophia. A wanderer....

Horatia. His sudden alarm....

Sophia. [Rushing into her arms.] O Ratty, Ratty, what a day! what an honour! what a surprise!

Barbara. How now, what’s the matter?

Horatia. Brain of adamant! could not instinct direct you to the feet of your adored Prince?

Barbara. The Prince! Is it possible?

Sophia. Charlie! Charlie! O! what a moment!

Horatia. Did you not hear him describe the ruin of his army....

Sophia. Did you not hear ‘Charles Stew—’ upon his noble tongue....


Horatia. How he started when he recollected himself....

Sophia. And O, how exquisitely pathetic, how touchingly appropriate, the name he gave instead! Dapple; to signify how his fortunes are chequered—Dapple....

Barbara. How the Jacobites were running in his head when he even....

Sophia. Little reason had he to fear us. If Daresby had been here....

Barbara. And this vile Colonel: no wonder he started off!

Sophia. What shall we do to get rid of him?

Horatia. All that woman ever attempted I am ready to perform.

Sophia. I would die for him.

Barbara. And I too.

Sophia. The handsome, brave, dear, darling young Prince! And to think that Daresby’s a Whig!

Enter Mrs. Judith and Col. Stumply.

Col. Good evening, young Ladies, good evening. I have just returned from the North, where we are everywhere triumphant, and our laurels should ensure us a welcome from beauty. ‘None but the brave, none but the brave deserve the fair,’ you know. Hey, Miss Sophy?

Sophia. [Aside.] Monster!

Horatia. [Aside.] Traitor!

Barbara. [Aside.] Butcher!

Col. What, all silent and aghast? I shall begin to fear myself unwelcome. Hey, Mrs. Judith? But my Regiment is quartered for the night in the village, and I was sure that I might throw myself on the hospitality of an old friend.

Mrs. Jud. We are delighted to see you.

Col. Is your little room unoccupied to-night?

Mrs. Jud. To tell the truth there is a young....

Horatia. [Aside.] I could beat her! [Aloud.] It is quite unoccupied, Sir, except—except in this cold weather we keep the pigs there.

Col. The pigs!

Mrs. Jud. Why, Ratty....

Horatia. Oh, it is not fit to receive you, Sir. The chimney tumbled in during the last gale....

Mrs. Jud. Why, Ratty....

Horatia. And every pane of glass is broken.

Sophia. [Aside to Barbara.] O Bab, such lying can never thrive.


Mrs. Jud. What strange non....

Horatia. [Aside.] How on earth can I stop her tongue? [Aloud.] Aunt, Aunt, is there any supper prepared for the Colonel?

Col. Anything; anything; the cold ride has sharpened my appetite; but a good blaze like this cheers the heart, and gives me courage to face even the pigs, Miss Ratty!

Mrs. Jud. The pigs! why....

Horatia. Would you like to see that everything is comfortable yourself, Aunt? [Aside.] I am in a fever!

Col. Turn out the pigs, hey, Mrs. Judith?

Mrs. Jud. If I ever....

Horatia. Go, dear Aunt, precious Aunt, do go.

Sophia. A nice little dish of your own making would be so acceptable.

Barbara. We’ll take care of the Colonel.

Mrs. Jud. I cannot com—pre—hend—I—— [The girls half lead, half push her out.]

Col. You will excuse me, young ladies; I always make a point of looking after my horse myself. [Exit.]

Horatia. [Sinking on a chair.] I am exhausted. Stupid sticks, why did you not assist me?

Sophia. I tried, but....

Barbara. What shall we do now?

Sophia. My heart beats so, I shall expire.

Barbara. The Colonel will stay in spite of the pigs.

Sophia. Where can we hide the Prince?

Horatia. [Starting up.] A thought has struck me.

Sophia. What, what?

Horatia. You shall hear—it has been done before. You will aid me in the execution of it.

Sophia. [Throwing herself into her arms.] O my Ratty!

Horatia. We will save him.

Barbara. We will, we will!

Horatia. Or perish with him.

Sophia. We will.

Horatia. Come, come, no time is to be lost; let us fly to his succour.
‘Come weal, come woe,
We’ll gather and go,
And live or die wi’ Charlie!’


Enter Charles, Sophia, Barbara, and Horatia.

Charles. Where on earth are you taking me?

Sophia. To safety, to safety.

Barbara. We know all.

Charles. You know all?

Horatia. Your name, your situation....

Charles. Then you must know that the coming of the Colonel is hangably inconvenient to me.

Sophia. We tremble at your danger.

Horatia. We will defend you with our lives.

Charles. Excessively kind, but it is not quite come to that yet. A kick or a caning....

Sophia. You make us shudder.

Charles. But I do not like promenading at this hour in winter! Is it a country fashion? I am very cold, and tired, and sleepy, and I would rather retire to rest.

Horatia. Here then we have arrived at the spot. Descend, and you will find a bed prepared for you.

Charles. Descend! why, hang me if it isn’t a vault!

Sophia. If it would please you to descend....

Charles. Please me, you barbarous witches! would it please any one to be buried alive? What on earth do you mean?

Barbara. The only way to preserve your rights....

Charles. Rites, do you call these rites? They are very inhuman rites. Anything but the rites of hospitality. To offer a stranger the shelter of your roof, and then make his bed in a vault! This is your spare-room, is it? If I had guessed what you meant to do with your guest, I would not have troubled you with my company.

Horatia. O, for your Country’s sake....

Charles. My Country’s sake! what good can it do my Country? I know your motives, you scientific Monster! you want to make a petrifaction of me.

Horatia. Is it possible that a treatment so....

Charles. A treat meant is it? If you mean it for a treat, I assure you that I do not consider it as one. You may go in yourself and enjoy it.


Barbara. So short a space ...

Charles. A very short space I can see, and a very narrow space too. I’ll be hanged if I get into it!

Horatia. Who could have expected opposition from such a quarter?

Sophia. Can the Hero shrink from so small a trial of his constancy? Oh, descend, descend, and we will admire....

Charles. Add mire, you cruel wretches! is there not enough at the bottom already?

Horatia. We would preserve you.

Charles. Didn’t I say so? Some inhuman experiment! But I’ll not be preserved to please you, not I.

Sophia. [Throwing herself at his feet.] O noblest of men! doubt not our fidelity! yield to our agonized entreaties!

[The others kneel.]

Charles. Yield, indeed! I beg you will rise, fair Ladies. I know not if you are jesting; ’tis but a cold jest to me. As for entering that vault, you may kill me before you bury me, for while I’m alive I’ll not go, Ladies; I say I will not go.

Horatia. Then we must leave him to his fate.

Charles. Leave me, leave me, all alone in a churchyard. Ladies, ladies, for pity’s sake....

Horatia. I am beside myself.

Charles. Remain then beside me. Or rather, why cannot we return to the house? I am half frozen with cold and ... and excitement!

Barbara. You forget the Colonel.

Charles. The Colonel. O, is that all? Can’t you hide me in some quiet corner?

Horatia. I have it! the storeroom.

Barbara. But if a search should be made?

Charles. Search! who’ll search? The storeroom is the very place. Come, come, the air is piercing; come.

Barbara. This way; by the kitchen door.

Charles. Once more into the house, dear friends, once more. [Exit.]

Horatia. Is this the Prince? the Hero?

Sophia. O Ratty! our duty remains the same! [Exeunt.]


Colonel Stumply. Weasel.

Col. Good-morrow, Weasel. An old campaigner, you see, learns to be an early riser.

Weasel. I wish your honour a good morning. I hope you found your room comfortable.

Col. Most comfortable. No traces of the pigs, ha, ha! none the worse for the chimney-top; ha, ha, ha! That Comet has a tail, I guess. Well, Weasel, how has all gone on these two years, since I last found myself at Rattleton Hermitage? Hey?

Weasel. Much the same as usual, your honour. Our only varieties are Dr. Daresby and the rheumatics; till last night when....

Col. The girls—the young Ladies seem much grown, much improved.

Weasel. O, for the matter of that, yes, though Miss Ratty’s sadly taken up with the books, d’ye see. She’s poring all day long over a lot of different sorts of learnings; I don’t remember their names, but they all ends in oddity. Then she’s an out and out Jacobite, and thumps the piano when she sings ‘Charlie is my darling,’ as though she took it for a Whig. Indeed, your honour, last night....

Col. And Miss Barbara?

Weasel. She’s quiet like, Sir. She’s never off her chair stitching away. They says, your honour, that she makes holes on purpose to sew them up again, d’ye see?

Col. Sophy—Miss Rattleton is a charming girl.

Weasel. Ah, so thinks some one else. Did your honour ever see young Dr. Daresby?

Col. No, what of him?

Weasel. O, nothing, Sir. But they walks alone together, and sings duets together, and he gave her the little poodle, and they says, your honour, d’ye see....

Col. Yes, yes, I understand.

Weasel. She always feeds that fat little dog herself, your honour. She gives it slices of bread and strawberry jam. But she’s a good[49] young Lady, Sir. Often I sees her going to the cottages with her little pink bag filled with the good things which Mrs. Judith makes. (I knows that from Mrs. Marjory who has to wash out the grease-spots every day for Miss Sophy.) And there she goes mincing along with her long veil hanging behind, and her little poodle running on before her. But may I make bold to ask how Master Stumply is? He was a very little boy when....

Col. Not a word of him, Weasel, not a word of him! He’s a wayward ... don’t speak of him! folly and indiscretion have been his bane.

Weasel. [Shaking his head.] There’s some others I know seem running the same road.

Col. How? Who?

Weasel. O, it is not for me to say, your honour.

Col. Speak; explain yourself.

Weasel. I dare say ’twas all a frolic, your honour, but there were odd doings here yesterday.

Col. Tell me, tell me.

Weasel. [Mysteriously.] Perhaps as an old friend of the Family your honour ought to know all, and such a rum affair....

Col. Go on, go on.

Weasel. Well then, your honour, yesterday was a cold evening, d’ye see, and as I was stirring the kitchen fire there comes a knock, and I goes to the door, your honour.

Col. Well.

Weasel. There stands a tall, genteel-like lad with a ragged coat. And he would give me no name, but he said he was a Wanderer, and asked for a night’s lodging. So Mrs. Judith, who never can refuse any one, ordered the spare bed to be got ready for him.

Col. So I turned him out, hey, Weasel? There’s the secret of the pigs; but why this mystery?

Weasel. Mystery, Sir, ay, that’s the word; but if your honour was to hear what followed!

Col. What? where did they put him?

Weasel. [Lowering his voice.] When it was night, your honour, what sees I through the chink of the kitchen door in the passage but the three young Ladies lugging along a great bundle, and stopping and panting and puffing? So says I, I’ll see to the bottom of this, so I pops out suddenly and says, ‘Can I help you, Misses?’ quite civil like. But O Sir, how Miss Sophy trembled and turned as white as a lily, and Miss Ratty stamped and sent me to the village—at that[50] hour, your honour, company in the house—the ground covered with frost—I subject to the rheumatics—and what for, d’ye think? to get her twopenceworth of shoe-ribbon, your honour; and when I brought it, would you believe it?—she roared out that it was too narrow and sent me back again.

Col. Most strange! most unaccountable! Have you any guess what was in the bundle?

Weasel. I winked at it, your honour. There was a mattress and blankets, I’m sure.

Col. For the Stranger, I suppose. But this mystery! I cannot understand it. Where could they be going?

Weasel. To the churchyard, I thinks.

Col. The churchyard!

Weasel. Why, your honour, they certainly did not go into the kitchen, and the back-door leads straight across the yard to the Church, and the vault would be no bad hiding-place, your honour. Miss Ratty has hid there herself, I knows, when the dentist was here.

Col. Have you no other clue? What an extraordinary affair!

Weasel. Why, Sir—your honour, last night Mrs. Marjory overheard Miss Ratty whispering Miss Sophy, and she said, Sir....

Col. What? speak out!

Weasel. ‘As long as the Colonel remains here the Prince must keep concealed.’

Col. [Springing up.] The Prince! ha, ha! I smell a rat! the Pretender! the Pretender! if there was ever such luck, such fortune! Hang me if I could not—but there’s not an instant to be lost. Fly, Weasel, to the village. Bid Corporal Catchup and a dozen stout fellows be with me directly. Fly, I say, and if it be all as I hope, I’ll cram you with gold till you choke. Begone! Fly! [Exit Weasel.] Thirty thousand pounds and a baronetship! Sir Stephen Stumply! Ah, if that wayward boy—the Pretender! the Pretender! he’s in a net, in a net, and I’ll be hanged if I let him out of it. [Exit.]

Enter Horatia.

Horatia. What a sleepless night I have passed, what anxiety, what excitement! and yet how unlike is he to what I had imagined! so timid, so petulant! and that perpetual punning! It matters not, however,—his title to our services remains the same! A strange misgiving[51] is on my soul; is it the shadow of approaching danger, or only the fear of it? The Colonel gave me a strange meaning look as he passed me this morning, and said, ‘You are early up, Miss Ratty; I fear that your rest was broken last night.’ Can he suspect anything? That sneaking wretch, Weasel! Hark, I hear the Colonel’s step and a strange voice. I’ll conceal myself behind this screen. Perhaps....

Enter Colonel Stumply and Corporal Catchup.

Col. Plant two stout fellows at the front door, and half a dozen in the garden. Place them so that there shall be no possibility of escape either from the house or the churchyard adjoining.

Cor. I will, Sir.

Horatia. [Aside.] Horror and despair!

Col. Yourself and four of your best men go and search the open vault at the right-hand corner of the churchyard, and on your lives let not your prisoner escape. Go, plant your Sentinels, and then to your business. [Exit Corporal Catchup.] I will go and superintend myself. [Exit.]

Horatia. Day of horror and misery! All is lost. All is discovered. If I but knew of one who could divert the attention of these wretches till the Prince escaped! If I ...

Enter Daresby.

Daresby! He’s a Whig! but I’ll make him my tool.

Daresby. Good morning, I came thus early....

Horatia. [Speaking very fast.] You are so welcome—you came just a moment ...

Daresby. My Sophy! nothing is the matter with her?

Horatia. O no. It’s a poor soldier—got the cholera—lying in the vault ...

Daresby. In a vault!

Horatia. Run, run, dearest Daresby, or you will be too late.

Daresby. What do you mean? Explain yourself.

Horatia. The cholera, I say—in the vault—O! you put me in a fever. For my sake, for Sophy’s—O run, fly!

Daresby. Whatever can you ...

Horatia. Go, or I shall run wild! You know the way, go!

Daresby. If I can be of any use to the poor sufferer. [Exit.]

Horatia. O, what a relief! he’s gone! I should never survive another day of such excitement. If they once suppose that their object is gained and the Prince caught, the sentinels will be removed[52] from the garden, and he can escape through the window. If the deception can be carried on for one half-hour he may be saved. I must go and put my sisters on their guard, and prepare the Prince for flight. If Aunt Judith or Weasel see and recognise Daresby all is lost. I wish I could lock them both up. What a labyrinth I am in! The greatest comfort is that the Colonel is a blockhead, and would not know a prince from a pancake! [Exit.]

Charles. Something better than a vault this, methinks. I could not have found a hiding-place more to my mind. Excellent cherry-brandy she makes, this Mrs. Judith. I have entered half a dozen professions since I entered this room; it will be hard if I do not make my fortune out of one of them. I am an Historian, for I have been discussing old dates; a Merchant, for I add plum to plum; a Lawyer, for I have opened many a case; a Lord Mayor, for the mace is before me; and a Navigator, for I am led to seize and gulf! What if I were to stay here altogether, or set up a new company with my fair hostesses? Miss Ratty is cut out for a tragedy Queen. Such passion! such emphasis! [Mimicking.] ‘That my keen knife see not the wound it makes’—but the puzzle is that they are all ladies; not one to take a gentleman’s part. It is a shame in me to say so, for I am sure that they have taken mine. My only hope would be in Weasel. That fellow has such a desperate squint, that I am sure he would make a capital Lear!

Enter Horatia.

Horatia. Fly! fly! while yet there is a moment’s respite.

Charles. Fly! and wherefore?

Horatia. Rouse all the ancient courage of your race ...

Charles. There can be no courage in a race, for a race is running away.

Horatia. Let the spirit of your Ancestors glow in your bosom, for the hour of danger is come.

Charles. ‘I dare do all that may become a man’ ...

Horatia. Does this trifling become a man and a hero?

Charles. I know of but one thing, fair Ratty, that can become a man and a hero.

Horatia. What is that?

Charles. A boy, to be sure!

Horatia. Enough, enough of this perpetual play of words. We[53] must think, we must act. Another is now taking your place at the vault ...

Charles. My place! how excessively obliging!

Horatia. Every moment is invaluable. Put on this dress of my Aunt’s which I have brought for you, and fly, fly, while the deception lasts!

Charles. The brandy must have got into my head.

Horatia. Put it on, I entreat you, if not for your own or your Country’s sake, yet for your noble Father’s.

Charles. My Father’s! Either you or I ... Why, what’s the matter with him? Is he in the farce too?

Horatia. [Aside.] He is the worse for liquor! O horrible! and at such a moment! [Aloud.] The soldiers are here—sent to seize you—to drag you to a dungeon, perhaps an ignominious death.

Charles. [Alarmed.] And why? what have I done?

Horatia. I heard the orders given. One hour’s delay will lead you to the scaffold.

Charles. The scaffold!

Horatia. The block.

Charles. The block! why, what is my crime? Why does not my Father come to my assistance?

Horatia. Your Father cannot—he is exiled from his native land. Were he to appear, he must perish too.

Charles. Have you hid him? have you hid him?

Horatia. [Aside.] Horridly drunk! [Aloud.] Put on this dress and fly. It is your only chance of life.

Charles. You have put me into a shiver. I cannot half believe, nor a quarter comprehend you.

Horatia. Believe then these tears, this agony of apprehension in which you see me. This moment the soldiers may be mounting the staircase—cutting off all hope ...

Charles. Give me the slip then, and I will give them the slip! quick, quick, and the cloak and hood.

Horatia. Here, here! O despatch! while you remain here I tread on hot iron.

Charles. I am to personate your Aunt.

Horatia. Yes, yes, any one, but make haste.

Charles. So, I’m equipped. Farewell, Lady!

Horatia. Pull the hood over your face. O farewell! [Exit Charles.]

Horatia. One hour more of excitement, and then ... [Exit.]


Enter Corporal Catchup and Soldiers.

Corp. Silence! Silence! halt! advance bending down and with your bayonets presented. Comrades, this is a glorious day, and if we catch the Pretender we shall have little cause to grieve that we arrived a day too late for the Battle of Culloden. What were the deeds of the Duke of Cumberland to ours? He but wounded the fox, we catch him by the nose. We shall be made Aldermen, every man of us. Take ground behind those bushes; keep silence. I hear a voice in the vault. On your lives be silent—be steady!

Daresby. [In the vault.] I can find no one, yet here is a bed prepared. What a strange place to make an hospital of! [Emerging from the vault.] Perhaps the poor fellow has got frightened and delirious ...

Corp. Stand!

Daresby. Ah, here is my Patient. So you have got the cholera, my Friend!

Corp. No, unless that’s one of your titles. Surrender or die!

Daresby. He must be in a high fever! Be calm, my good man, I will render you all the assistance in my power.

Corp. You will, will you?

Daresby. Come with me to the house, come. This is no place for a person in your state.

Corp. Well, if this arn’t droll! he’s trying to humbug me.

Daresby. You may catch your death of cold.

Corp. I’ll catch nothing but you. Come along, Sir, offer no resistance, for it’s of no use. I’m sorry for you, but I’ve a duty to perform, and a reward to get.

Daresby. What do you mean, fellow? Stand off!

Corp. Ho! guards there! [Daresby is surrounded.]

Daresby. This is some error. By whose warrant do you dare to apprehend one of his Majesty’s subjects?

Corp. No use in all that deception, Sir: all’s discovered now.

Daresby. What’s discovered, fellow, what deception? Who dares use such terms to me! You shall answer for your conduct, Sir; this shall not be passed over, I’ll warrant you.

Corp. I hope not, Sir.


Daresby. This is not to be endured. By whose orders do you presume to place me under arrest?

Corp. We are under the orders of Colonel Stumply.

Daresby. I must see the Colonel instantly. He shall give me an explanation of this extraordinary affair. Take me to him directly.

Corp. All in good time, Sir. Stickum, have you handcuffs with you?

Daresby. Handcuffs, villain!

Stickum. No.

Corp. Keep your hand on his collar, then. Soldiers, present bayonets. Let him attempt to escape, and he dies.

Daresby. With what effrontery ...

Corp. Move on, Sir, if you please. [To the Soldiers.] Keep your eye on him. If he but raise his hand or turn his head—fire! [Exeunt.]


O’Shan. A could, misty, morning, and I am left here to keep watch without a drop of the cratur to cheer my heart or keep my spirits from sinking. There’s all the rest of them gone to catch the Pretender and get the prize-money, and it’s nothing that I’m likely to catch here but a cold. I wish that I had never left the tallow business, that I do, for all this murthering work. It was a lucky chance that we were a day too late for the fair at Culloden; it’s no fancy I have for the Highlanders’ dirks. Awful slashing work they made, ’tis said. Well-a-day! I must shoulder my gun; if the Corporal found me standing at ease, he would order me a round dozen: there’s no fear of it’s going off for its own accord, the cratur, for I forgot to load it this morning.

Enter Charles in disguise.

Charles. [Aside.] And there is a Sentry! Horatia was right! But what they should want to arrest either me or my Father for is more than I can comprehend! This is really nervous work. I fear that I shall find it as difficult to pass this fellow as I found it at school to parse a sentence from my grammar-book. Notwithstanding the dress with which Ratty provided me, I shall need all the[56] address of which I am master to get through this scrape should he address me. I must put on an air of confidence. Perhaps he may let me pass without question.

O’Shan. A black morning, Ma’am.

Charles. [Attempting to slip past.] Did you ever see mourning any other colour?

O’Shan. Can’t pass here, Ma’am.

Charles. No! and why?

O’Shan. ‘Cause I am posted here to keep a good watch.

Charles. [Attempting to pass again.] Easier to keep a good watch than to get one!

O’Shan. I have orders to let no one pass.

Charles. O but, my good fellow, I have very important business. You must let me go.

O’Shan. Keep back, Ma’am. Now I thinks on’t, your hood looks rather suspicious.

Charles. [Retreating a step.] Does it? A sort of robbin’ hood, I suppose. [Aside.] I wish the fellow were at Jericho.

O’Shan. And that dress was never made for you? Let me see a little closer. [Advancing.]

Charles. [Retreating. Aside.] Shall I run for my life?

O’Shan. Stop, stop, my good Lady! Methinks your dress is uncommon short, too, it hardly reaches to the clocks of your stockings.

Charles. Mind your watch, and leave my clocks alone. [Aside.] O dear! O dear! If I were but once fairly off! [Attempts to run.]

O’Shan. Stop, or I’ll shoot ye! I’ll send a bullet through your head if ye stir an inch farther.

Charles. [Aside.] I’m done for!

O’Shan. [Aside.] I’ll make sure. [Suddenly darts towards Charles and pulls back his hood.] Hillo! hillo! I’ve caught him! I’ve caught him, ’tis the man himself.

Charles. [Aside.] One struggle for life. [Aloud.] Beware, fellow, I have arms. [Aside.] None but what nature gave me.

O’Shan. [Retreating a step. Aside.] Murther! and the gun is not loaded!

Charles. [Aside.] I’ve staggered him! [Aloud.] Lay but a finger on me and I’ll lay you with the dust.

O’Shan. Keep off, or I’ll shoot ye.

Charles. [Retreating.] A fig for your gun!


O’Shan. [Aside. Retreating.] I wish some one would come. I’ve heard he’s a raal hero. I’ll call for help. Holloa! there.

Charles. Hold your peace, or I’ll cut you piece-meal.

O’Shan. I’ll blow your brains out, I will! [Aside.] He can’t guess that it’s not loaded.

Charles. [Aside.] If he should fire!

O’Shan. [Aside.] If he should fight! My poor Mother; och, if she could see me now, ’twould pit her into high-strikes. Is no one coming to help me?

Charles. [Aside.] If I could but touch his kinder feelings! I have been accustomed to steal hearts, but I fear that I should find his steeled already. I must make one more effort to steal past him. But the sight of his matchlock makes my blood run cold.

O’Shan. Och! he’s coming nearer. O for pity’s sake ...

Charles. If mercy ever touched your bosom ...

Enter Corporal Catchup.

O’Shan. Catch him! catch him! ’tis he, the Pretender! catch him, Corporal! collar him! never fear!

Corp. Who? the old woman?

O’Shan. Catch him, I say, and never be frightened for him, man. I found him out.

Charles. So—all is lost.

Corp. A man in disguise! it must be he. Bind him, O’Shannon. This is a prize indeed.

O’Shan. Ah, poor gintleman, your troubles will soon be pit an end to. Ah! ye may well sigh, for no man laughs on his way to the gallows.

Charles. The gallows! is it possible that so inhuman a murder can be contemplated?

O’Shan. O ye may be satisfied of it! There’s only one thing that’s doubtful, I’m thinking.

Charles. What’s that?

O’Shan. Whether they’ll stick your head on the Lord Mayor’s mace before or after they’ve hung you!

Charles. O horrible, horrible, most horrible! It cannot, O it cannot be! What a dreadful, what a fearful fate! O that the first step I took from my Father’s home had been into a horse-pond! that I had died e’er I left it!

O’Shan. Ay, there’s the pity! Had ye stayed peaceably at home, this would never have happened to ye.


Charles. The gallows! can it be?

O’Shan. Ah, how all the Ladies will pity ye! such a likely lad, and so young, and ...

Charles. Silence! you distract me.

O’Shan. Poor gintleman! when it comes to the pinch, when the rope ...

Corp. No more, O’Shannon! You have secured his arms. Bring him speedily along with you. No delay!

Charles. My limbs can scarcely support me! O day of agony, of misery, and despair! [Exeunt.]

Colonel Stumply.

Col. [Rubbing his hands.] Caught! caught! This is indeed a good day’s work.

Enter Sophia, Barbara, and Horatia.

Col. Ah! ha! my pretty Jacobites, this comes of your plotting. The Pretender is in safe hands now. Who would have thought you up to such a conspiracy?

Horatia. Alas, our unhappy Prince!

Sophia. [Aside to Horatia.] Poor Daresby! It makes my heart faint to think of him. I cannot stay to look on.

Horatia. You must stay to keep him silent. ’Tis but for an hour. I am ashamed of you. Remember that you have a part to perform.

Sophy. I cannot say what is not true.

Horatia. Say nothing, then.

Enter Daresby guarded.

Daresby. [To the Col.] Sir, I demand an explanation of this most extraordinary and unjustifiable treatment. Sir, I am a gentleman and ... [Horatia makes earnest signs to him to be silent.]

Col. You shall be treated, Sir, with all the respect due to your station, consistent with your safe custody.

Daresby. Of what am I charged? Who is my accuser? what wretch dares? [Horatia repeats the signs.] What is the meaning of all this nonsense? Do you wish to make a fool of me? I’ll not endure this ...

Col. Be calm, Sir, and submit to destiny.

Daresby. I’ll not submit to such treatment. My name is ...


[Horatia in an agony throws herself at his feet, exclaiming] O noble man! for the sake of all you love....

Daresby. Horatia, I am in a dream. Sophy, of you I ask, I entreat, an explanation. Why am I thus confined? Why do you stand calmly looking on my disgrace?

Sophy. Calmly! O Da ... [Aside.] I cannot restrain my tears.

Daresby. Are you too my enemy?

Sophy. Your enemy! O!

Daresby. [To the Colonel.] Are my political opinions suspected? Am I supposed to be a Ja....

Horatia. You are known—you are known—to be—to be—to be ... [Enter Weasel.]

Horatia. [Springing to Sophia’s side.] O Sophy, for pity’s sake take that creature off, or....

Sophy. Weasel, Weasel! [Aside.] What can I say?

Weasel. What! Dr. Da....

Sophia. Weasel, Weasel, will you go directly to the garden and fetch....

Weasel. What, Miss?

Sophia. Fetch, fetch—some spinach.

Weasel. Spinach don’t grow in November, Miss, as Dr....

Horatia. Go to the village directly for....

Weasel. Can’t go to the village no more, Miss, till I’ve laid the cloth for breakfast. The Doc....

Horatia. We must have wine. Go to the cellar.

Weasel. Haven’t got the keys, Miss. If I might make bold to ask why....

Horatia. Begone this instant ... we shall want poultry. Wring every chicken’s neck in the yard, or I’ll wring yours as sure as I stand here! [Exit Weasel.]

Col. What an extraordinary temper!

Daresby. Sophy, Sophy, if you are still the ingenuous being I ever believed you to be, tell me in what farce I am thus forced to act a part against my will. Tell me the secret of the conspiracy which seems formed against me. Are you an accessory?

Col. Why, the Ladies have been turning every stone in your defence! They never let out the secret! As far as they were concerned you might have remained in your vault until you were old enough to stay there altogether!

Daresby. Every sentence that I hear bewilders me yet more. Ratty Rattleton, Ratty Rattleton, you are at the bottom of the plot.


Enter Mrs. Judith.

Horatia. [Aside.] Aunt Judy! this is distraction!

Mrs. Jud. Young Daresby, my....

Horatia. Aunt, Aunt....

Mrs. Jud. What’s the matter?

Horatia. The ... [aside] at last I seem come to my wits end! [Aloud.] The....

Daresby. Mrs. Judith Rattleton, you are my friend, you will bear witness....

Horatia. The most important....

Sophia. O dear Aunt....

Barbara. If you would only hold your tongue!

Mrs. Jud. What a racket! what ... why....

Daresby. Mrs. Judith, I am here charged with....

Mrs. Jud. You, Daresby! Why, Colonel, this is....

Col. Not the Prince! Then he is concealed in the house! I see all; follow me, Guards ... [Sophy throws herself at his feet; Horatia and Barbara rush to the door.]

Horatia. You shall pass over my corpse! I am desperate! [The door suddenly opens. Enter Charles guarded by O’Shannon and the Corporal.]

All the Young Ladies. The Prince! horrors! the Prince!

Daresby. My chum, Charles Stumply!

Charles. My Father!

Col. Ah, Scapegrace! dare you present yourself before me? Under what false and shameful pretences have you entered this house?

O’Shan. Charles Stumply! hang the fellow, he’s only a man after all.

Daresby. I cannot contain my surprise.

Mrs. Jud. The ungrateful vagabond! he has stolen my best gown and hood.

Horatia. I shall sink to the cellar.

Sophia. O Daresby, how comical!

Col. Speak, you scamp! What has induced you to dress yourself like—a—speak! nor add a falsehood to your other faults and follies.

Charles. My dear Father, I have used no deception except that of changing my name. I am the deceived, not the deceiver. No one present is as much surprised at seeing me, as I myself am at finding myself thus. These fair Ladies kindly and willingly took me[61] in, and I see that, quite unwittingly, I have taken them in also! I own that I merit your displeasure, but I will do so no longer. I have received a lesson which I will not soon forget. I will no longer run counter to your wishes, but return to the counter for which you destined me. I have long devoted myself to a-muse, but now I will learn to obey. I own that I too fondly sought the giddy cheer of an applauding audience. Romance and her knights had taken possession of my fancy, but I have found the nights too cold, and the cheer too indifferent. I return with humble regret to my loving Sire, and if he will receive me a-gain, he may perhaps be able to make a-gain of me yet!

Col. Ah, you Rogue, you little merit that I should look at you again. The Pretender, indeed! so farewell to my dreams of fortune! I always thought it too good to be true. Ladies, I have to beg a thousand pardons for my rudeness in breaking in....

Charles. I must bear that blame, my Father. Had I not broken out, you would not have broken in.

Horatia. Deceiving Wretch! could I for a moment....

Charles. No anger, fair Miss Ratty, we had enough of this indignation at the brink of the vault, when you were near falling out with me because I would not fall in with your ideas, and fall into the vault.

Daresby. Ah, Sophy, how you treated me!

Sophia. I thought it my duty, dearest.

Daresby. I can pardon you anything; but that deceiving Ratty, whose word I can never again believe....

Charles. No more of that, Daresby. The farce is ended, the mists of mistake are clearing up, the reign of Folly must fall, let not Anger survive its cause!
Now that we have ended all this War of Words,
And fall to drawing corks instead of swords,
Now the Pretender may his Captors mock,
And view with glee a match without the lock,
Let each resentful thought and feeling cease,
And General Harmony conclude the Piece!

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved