The Plays of W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson
Part 4 out of 5
PEW. Dear, beautiful, Christian lady, tell a poor blind man your
honoured name, that he may remember it in his poor blind prayers.
ARETHUSA. Sailor, I am Arethusa Gaunt.
PEW. Sweet lady, answer a poor blind man one other question:
are you in a manner of speaking related to Cap'n John Gaunt?
Cap'n John as in the ebony trade were known as Admiral Guinea?
ARETHUSA. Captain John Gaunt is my father.
PEW (DROPPING THE BLIND MAN'S WHINE). Lord, think of that now!
They told me this was where he lived, and so it is. And here's
old Pew, old David Pew, as was the Admiral's own bo'sun,
colloguing in his old commander's parlour, with his old
commander's gal (SEIZES ARETHUSA). Ah, and a bouncer you are,
and no mistake.
ARETHUSA. Let me go! how dare you?
PEW. Lord love you, don't you struggle, now, don't you. (SHE
ESCAPES INTO FRONT R. CORNER, WHERE HE KEEPS HER IMPRISONED.)
Ah, well, we'll get you again, my lovely woman. What a arm
you've got - great god of love - and a face like a peach! I'm a
judge, I am. (SHE TRIES TO ESCAPE; HE STOPS HER.) No, you
don't; O, I can hear a flea jump! [But it's here where I miss my
deadlights. Poor old Pew; him as the ladies always would have
for their fancy man and take no denial; here you are with your
commander's daughter close aboard, and you can't so much as guess
the colour of her lovely eyes. (SINGING) -
'Be they black like ebony;
Or be they blue like to the sky.'
Black like the Admiral's? or blue like his poor dear wife's? Ah,
I was fond of that there woman, I was: the Admiral was jealous
of me.] Arethusa, my dear, - my heart, what a 'and and arm you
HAVE got; I'll dream o' that 'and and arm, I will! - but as I was
a-saying, does the Admiral ever in a manner of speaking refer to
his old bo'sun David Pew? him as he fell out with about the black
woman at Lagos, and almost slashed the shoulder off of him one
morning before breakfast?
ARETHUSA. You leave this house.
PEW. Hey? (HE CROSSES AND SEIZES HER AGAIN) Don't you fight, my
lovely one: now don't make old blind Pew forget his manners
before a female. What! you will? Stop that, or I'll have the
arm right out of your body. (HE GIVES HER ARM A WRENCH.)
ARETHUSA. O! help, help!
PEW. Stash your patter, damn you. (ARETHUSA GIVES IN.) Ah, I
thought it: Pew's way, Pew's way. Now, look you here, my lovely
woman. If you sling in another word that isn't in answer to my
questions, I'll pull your j'ints out one by one. Where's the
ARETHUSA. I have said: he is abroad.
PEW. When's he coming aboard again?
ARETHUSA. At any moment.
PEW. Does he keep his strength?
ARETHUSA. You'll see when he returns. (HE WRENCHES HER ARM
PEW. Is he still on piety?
ARETHUSA. O, he is a Christian man!
PEW. A Christian man, is he? Where does he keep his rum?
ARETHUSA. Nay, you shall steal nothing by my help.
PEW. No more I shall (BECOMING AMOROUS). You're a lovely woman,
that's what you are; how would you like old Pew for a sweetheart,
hey? He's blind, is Pew, but strong as a lion; and the sex is
his 'ole delight. Ah, them beautiful, beautiful lips! A kiss!
ARETHUSA. Leave go, leave go!
PEW. Hey? you would?
ARETHUSA. Ah! (SHE THRUSTS HIM DOWN, AND ESCAPES TO DOOR, R.)
PEW (PICKING HIMSELF UP). Ah, she's a bouncer, she is! Where's
my stick? That's the sort of female for David Pew. Didn't she
fight? and didn't she struggle? and shouldn't I like to twist her
lovely neck for her? Pew's way with 'em all: the prettier they
was, the uglier he were to 'em. Pew's way: a way he had with
him; and a damned good way too. (LISTENS AT L. DOOR.) That's
her bedroom, I reckon; and she's double-locked herself in. Good
again: it's a crying mercy the Admiral didn't come in. But you
always loses your 'ed, Pew, with a female: that's what charms
'em. Now for business. The front door. No bar; only a big lock
(TRYING KEYS FROM HIS POCKET). Key one; no go. Key two; no go.
Key three; ah, that does it. Ah! (FEELING KEY) him with the
three wards and the little 'un: good again! Now if I could only
find a mate in this rotten country 'amlick: one to be eyes to
me; I can steer, but I can't conn myself, worse luck! If I could
only find a mate! And to-night, about three bells in the middle
watch, old Pew will take a little cruise, and lay aboard his
ancient friend the Admiral; or, barring that, the Admiral's old
sea-chest - the chest he kept the shiners in aboard the brig.
Where is it, I wonder? in his berth, or in the cabin here? It's
big enough, and the brass bands is plain to feel by. (SEARCHING
ABOUT WITH STICK.) Dresser - chair - (KNOCKING HIS HEAD ON THE
CUPBOARD.) Ah! - O, corner cupboard. Admiral's chair -
Admiral's table - Admiral's - hey! what's this? - a book -
sheepskin - smells like a 'oly Bible. Chair (HIS STICK JUST
AVOIDS THE CHEST). No sea-chest. I must have a mate to see for
me, to see for old Pew: him as had eyes like a eagle!
Meanwhile, rum. Corner cupboard, of course (TAP-TAPPING). Rum -
rum - rum. Hey? (HE LISTENS.) Footsteps. Is it the Admiral?
(WITH THE WHINE.) Kind Christian friends -
PEW; to him GAUNT
GAUNT. What brings you here?
PEW. Cap'n, do my ears deceive me? or is this my old commander?
GAUNT. My name is John Gaunt. Who are you, my man, and what's
PEW. Here's the facks, so help me. A lovely female in this
house was Christian enough to pity the poor blind; and lo and
belold! who should she turn out to be but my old commander's
daughter! 'My dear,' says I to her, 'I was the Admiral's own
particular bo'sun.' - 'La, sailor,' she says to me, 'how glad
he'll be to see you!' - 'Ah,' says I, 'won't he just - that's
all.' - 'I'll go and fetch him,' she says; 'you make yourself at
'ome.' And off she went; and, Commander, here I am.
GAUNT (SITTING DOWN). Well?
PEW. Well, Cap'n?
GAUNT. What do you want?
PEW. Well, Admiral, in a general way, what I want in a manner of
speaking is money and rum. (A PAUSE.)
GAUNT. David Pew, I have known you a long time.
PEW. And so you have; aboard the old ARETHUSA; and you don't
seem that cheered up as I'd looked for, with an old shipmate
dropping in, one as has been seeking you two years and more - and
blind at that. Don't you remember the old chantie? -
'Time for us to go,
Time for us to go,
And when we'd clapped the hatches on,
'Twas time for us to go.
What a note you had to sing, what a swaller for a pannikin of
rum, and what a fist for the shiners! Ah, Cap'n, they didn't
call you Admiral Guinea for nothing. I can see that old
sea-chest of yours - her with the brass bands, where you kept
your gold dust and doubloons: you know! - I can see her as well
this minute as though you and me was still at it playing put on
the lid of her . . . You don't say nothing, Cap'n? . . . Well,
here it is: I want money and I want rum. You don't know what it
is to want rum, you don't: it gets to that p'int, that you would
kill a 'ole ship's company for just one guttle of it. What?
Admiral Guinea, my old Commander, go back on poor old Pew? and
him high and dry? [Not you! When we had words over the negro
lass at Lagos, what did you do? fair dealings was your word:
fair as between man and man; and we had it out with p'int and
edge on Lagos sands. And you're not going back on your word to
me, now I'm old and blind? No, no! belay that, I say. Give me
the old motto: Fair dealings, as between man and man.]
GAUNT. David Pew, it were better for you that you were sunk in
fifty fathom. I know your life; and first and last, it is one
broadside of wickedness. You were a porter in a school, and beat
a boy to death; you ran for it, turned slaver, and shipped with
me, a green hand. Ay, that was the craft for you: that was the
right craft, and I was the right captain; there was none worse
that sailed to Guinea. Well, what came of that? In five years'
time you made yourself the terror and abhorrence of your
messmates. The worst hands detested you; your captain - that was
me, John Gaunt, the chief of sinners - cast you out for a Jonah.
[Who was it stabbed the Portuguese and made off inland with his
miserable wife? Who, raging drunk on rum, clapped fire to the
baracoons and burned the poor soulless creatures in their
chains?] Ay, you were a scandal to the Guinea coast, from Lagos
down to Calabar? and when at last I sent you ashore, a marooned
man - your shipmates, devils as they were, cheering and rejoicing
to be quit of you - by heaven, it was a ton's weight off the
PEW. Cap'n Gaunt, Cap'n Gaunt, these are ugly words.
GAUNT. What next? You shipped with Flint the Pirate. What you
did then I know not; the deep seas have kept the secret: kept
it, ay, and will keep against the Great Day. God smote you with
blindness, but you heeded not the sign. That was His last mercy;
look for no more. To your knees, man, and repent! Pray for a
new heart; flush out your sins with tears; flee while you may
from the terrors of the wrath to come.
PEW. Now, I want this clear: Do I understand that you're going
back on me, and you'll see me damned first?
GAUNT. Of me you shall have neither money nor strong drink: not
a guinea to spend in riot; not a drop to fire your heart with
PEW. Cap'n, do you think it wise to quarrel with me? I put it
to you now, Cap'n, fairly, as between man and man - do you think
GAUNT. I fear nothing. My feet are on the Rock. Begone! (HE
OPENS THE BIBLE AND BEGINS TO READ.)
PEW (AFTER A PAUSE). Well, Cap'n, you know best, no doubt; and
David Pew's about the last man, though I says it, to up and
thwart an old Commander. You've been 'ard on David Pew, Cap'n:
'ard on the poor blind; but you'll live to regret it - ah, my
Christian friend, you'll live to eat them words up. But there's
no malice here: that ain't Pew's way; here's a sailor's hand
upon it . . . . You don't say nothing? (GAUNT TURNS A PAGE.)
Ah, reading, was you? Reading, by thunder! Well, here's my
respecks (SINGING) -
'Time for us to go, Time for us to go, When the money's out, and
the liquor's done, Why, it's time for us to go.
(HE GOES TAPPING UP TO DOOR, TURNS ON THE THRESHOLD, AND LISTENS.
GAUNT TURNS A PAGE. PEW, WITH A GRIMACE, STRIKES HIS HAND UPON
THE POCKET WITH THE KEYS, AND GOES.)
The Stage represents the parlour of the 'Admiral Benbow' inn.
Fire-place, R., with high-backed settles on each side; in front
of these, and facing the audience, R., a small table laid with a
cloth. Tables, L., with glasses, pipes, etc. Broadside ballads
on the wall. Outer door of inn, with the half-door in L., corner
back; door, R., beyond the fire-place; window with red half-
curtains; spittons; candles on both the front tables; night
PEW; afterwards MRS. DRAKE, out and in.
PEW (ENTERING). Kind Christian friends - (LISTENING; THEN
DROPPING THE WHINE.) Hey? nobody! Hey? A grog-shop not two
cable-lengths from the Admiral's back-door, and the Admiral not
there? I never knew a seaman brought so low: he ain't but the
bones of the man he used to be. Bear away for the New Jerusalem,
and this is what you run aground on, is it? Good again; but it
ain't Pew's way; Pew's way is rum. - Sanded floor. Rum is his
word, and rum his motion. - Settle - chimbley - settle again -
spittoon - table rigged for supper. Table-glass. (DRINKS
HEELTAP.) Brandy and water; and not enough of it to wet your eye;
damn all greediness, I say. Pot (DRINKS), small beer - a drink
that I ab'or like bilge! What I want is rum. (CALLING, AND
RAPPING WITH STICK ON TABLE.) Halloa, there! House, ahoy!
MRS. DRAKE (WITHOUT). Coming, sir, coming. (SHE ENTERS, R.)
What can I do - ? (SEEING PEW.) Well I never did! Now,
beggar-man, what's for you?
[PEW. Rum, ma'am, rum; and a bit o' supper.
MRS. DRAKE. And a bed to follow, I shouldn't wonder!
PEW. AND a bed to follow: IF you please.]
MRS. DRAKE. This is the 'ADMIRAL BENBOW,' a respectable house,
and receives none but decent company; and I'll ask you to go
somewhere else, for I don't like the looks of you.
PEW. Turn me away? Why, Lord love you, I'm David Pew - old
David Pew - him as was Benbow's own particular cox'n. You
wouldn't turn away old Pew from the sign of his late commander's
'ed? Ah, my British female, you'd have used me different if
you'd seen me in the fight! [There laid old Benbow, both his
legs shot off, in a basket, and the blessed spy-glass at his eye
to that same hour: a picter, ma'am, of naval daring: when a
round shot come, and took and knocked a bucketful of shivers
right into my poor daylights. 'Damme,' says the Admiral, 'is
that old Pew, MY old Pew?' he says. - 'It's old Pew, sir,' says
the first lootenant, 'worse luck,' he says. - 'Then damme,' says
Admiral Benbow, 'if that's how they serve a lion-'arted seaman,
damme if I care to live,' he says; and, ma'am, he laid down his
MRS. DRAKE. Blind man, I don't fancy you, and that's the truth;
and I'll thank you to take yourself off.
PEW. Thirty years have I fought for country and king, and now in
my blind old age I'm to be sent packing from a measly
public-'ouse? Mark ye, ma'am, if I go, you take the
consequences. Is this a inn? Or haint it? If it is a inn, then
by act of parleyment, I'm free to sling my 'ammick. Don't you
forget: this is a act of parleyment job, this is. You look out.
MRS. DRAKE. Why, what's to do with the man and his acts of
parliament? I don't want to fly in the face of an act of
parliament, not I. If what you say is true -
PEW. True? If there's anything truer than a act of parleyment -
Ah! you ask the beak. True? I've that in my 'art as makes me
wish it wasn't.
MRS. DRAKE. I don't like to risk it. I don't like your looks,
and you're more sea-lawyer than seaman to my mind. But I'll tell
you what: if you can pay, you can stay. So there.
PEW. No chink, no drink? That's your motto, is it? Well,
that's sense. Now, look here, ma'am, I ain't beautiful like you;
but I'm good, and I'll give you warrant for it. Get me a noggin
of rum, and suthin' to scoff, and a penny pipe, and a half-a-foot
of baccy; and there's a guinea for the reckoning. There's plenty
more in the locker; so bear a hand, and be smart. I don't like
waiting; it ain't my way. (EXIT MRS. DRAKE, R. PEW SITS AT THE
TABLE, R. THE SETTLE CONCEALS HIM FROM ALL THE UPPER PART OF THE
MRS. DRAKE (RE-ENTERING). Here's the rum, sailor.
PEW (DRINKS). Ah, rum! That's my sheet-anchor: rum and the
blessed Gospel. Don't you forget that, ma'am: rum and the
Gospel is old Pew's sheet-anchor. You can take for another while
you're about it; and, I say, short reckonings make long friends,
hey? Where's my change?
MRS. DRAKE. I'm counting it now. There, there it is, and thank
you for your custom. (SHE GOES OUT, R.)
PEW (CALLING AFTER HER). Don't thank me, ma'am; thank the act of
parleyment! Rum, fourpence; two penny pieces and a Willi'm-and-
Mary tizzy makes a shilling; and a spade half-guinea is eleven
and six (RE-ENTER MRS. DRAKE WITH SUPPER, PIPE, ETC.); and a
blessed majesty George the First crown-piece makes sixteen and
six; and two shilling bits is eighteen and six; and a new
half-crown makes - no it don't! O, no! Old Pew's too smart a
hand to be bammed with a soft half-tusheroon.
MRS. DRAKE (CHANGING PIECE). I'm sure I didn't know it, sailor.
PEW (TRYING NEW COIN BETWEEN HIS TEETH). In course you didn't,
my dear; but I did, and I thought I'd mention it. Is that my
supper, hey? Do my nose deceive me? (SNIFFING AND FEELING.)
Cold duck? sage and onions? a round of double Gloster? and that
noggin o' rum? Why, I declare if I'd stayed and took pot-luck
with my old commander, Cap'n John Gaunt, he couldn't have beat
this little spread, as I've got by act of parleyment.
MRS. DRAKE (AT KNITTING). Do you know the captain, sailor?
PEW. Know him? I was that man's bos'un, ma'am. In the Guinea
trade, we was known as 'Pew's Cap'n,' and 'Gaunt's Bo'sun,' one
for other like. We was like two brothers, ma'am. And a
excellent cold duck, to be sure; and the rum lovely.
MRS. DRAKE. If you know John Gaunt, you know his daughter
PEW. What? Arethusa? Know her, says you? know her? Why, Lord
love you, I was her god-father. ['Pew,' says Jack Gaunt to me,
'Pew,' he says, 'you're a man,' he says; 'I like a man to be a
man,' says he, 'and damme,' he says, 'I like YOU; and sink me,'
says he, 'if you don't promise and vow in the name of that
new-born babe,' he says, 'why damme, Pew,' says he, 'you're not
the man I take you for.'] Yes, ma'am, I named that female; with
my own 'ands I did; Arethusa, I named her; that was the name I
give her; so now you know if I speak true. And if you'll be as
good as get me another noggin of rum, why, we'll drink her 'elth
with three times three. (EXIT MRS. DRAKE: PEW EATING. MRS.
DRAKE RE-ENTERING WITH RUM.)
[MRS. DRAKE. If what you say be true, sailor (and I don't say it
isn't, mind!), it's strange that Arethusa and that godly man her
father have never so much as spoke your name.
PEW. Why, that's so! And why, says you? Why, when I dropped in
and paid my respecks this morning, do you think she knew me? No
more'n a babe unborn! Why, ma'am, when I promised and vowed for
her, I was the picter of a man-o'-war's man, I was: eye like a
eagle; walked the deck in a hornpipe, foot up and foot down;
v'ice as mellow as rum; 'and upon 'art, and all the females took
dead aback at the first sight, Lord bless 'em! Know me? Not
likely. And as for me, when I found her such a lovely woman - by
the feel of her 'and and arm! - you might have knocked me down
with a feather. But here's where it is, you see: when you've
been knocking about on blue water for a matter of two-and-forty
year, shipwrecked here, and blown up there, and everywhere out of
luck, and given over for dead by all your messmates and
relations, why, what it amounts to is this: nobody knows you,
and you hardly know yourself, and there you are; and I'll trouble
you for another noggin of rum.
MRS. DRAKE. I think you've had enough.
PEW. I don't; so bear a hand. (EXIT MRS. DRAKE; PEW EMPTIES THE
GLASS.) Rum, ah, rum, you're a lovely creature; they haven't
never done you justice. (PROCEEDS TO FILL AND LIGHT PIPE;
RE-ENTER MRS. DRAKE WITH RUM.)] And now, ma'am, since you're so
genteel and amicable-like, what about my old commander? Is he,
in a manner of speaking, on half pay? or is he living on his
fortune, like a gentleman slaver ought?
MRS. DRAKE. Well, sailor, people talk, you know.
PEW. I know, ma'am; I'd have been rolling in my coach, if they'd
have held their tongues.
MRS. DRAKE. And they do say that Captain Gaunt, for so pious a
man, is little better than a miser.
PEW. Don't say it, ma'am; not to old Pew. Ah, how often have I
up and strove with him! 'Cap'n, live it down,' says I. 'Ah,
Pew,' says he, 'you're a better man than I am,' he says; 'but
dammne,' he says, 'money,' he says, 'is like rum to me.'
(INSINUATING.) And what about a old sea-chest, hey? a old
sea-chest, strapped with brass bands?
MRS. DRAKE. Why, that'll be the chest in his parlour, where he
has it bolted to the wall, as I've seen with my own eyes; and so
might you, if you had eyes to see with.
PEW. No, ma'am, that ain't good enough; you don't bam old Pew.
You never was in that parlour in your life.
MRS. DRAKE. I never was? Well, I declare!
PEW. Well then, if you was, where's the chest? Beside the
chimbley, hey? (WINKING.) Beside the table with the 'oly Bible?
MRS. DRAKE. No, sailor, you don't get any information out of me.
PEW. What, ma'am? Not to old Pew? Why, my god-child showed it
me herself, and I told her where she'd find my name - P, E, W,
Pew - cut out on the starn of it; and sure enough she did. Why,
ma'am, it was his old money-box when he was in the Guinea trade;
and they do say he keeps the rhino in it still.
MRS. DRAKE. No, sailor, nothing out of me! And if you want to
know, you can ask the Admiral himself! (SHE CROSSES, L.)
PEW. Hey? Old girl fly? Then I reckon I must have a mate, if
it was the parish bull.
TO THESE, KIT, A LITTLE DRUNK
KIT (LOOKING IN OVER HALF-DOOR). Mrs. Drake! Mother! Where are
you? Come and welcome the prodigal!
MRS. DRAKE (COMING FORWARD TO MEET HIM AS HE ENTERS; PEW REMAINS
CONCEALED BY THE SETTLE, SMOKING, DRINKING, AND LISTENING). Lord
bless us and save us, if it ain't my boy! Give us a kiss.
KIT. That I will, and twenty if you like, old girl. (KISSES
MRS. DRAKE. O Kit, Kit, you've been at those other houses, where
the stuff they give you, my dear, it is poison for a dog.
[KIT. Round with friends, mother: only round with friends.
MRS. DRAKE. Well, anyway, you'll take a glass just to settle it,
from me. (SHE BRINGS THE BOTTLE, AND FILLS FOR HIM.) There,
that's pure; that'll do you no harm.] But O, Kit, Kit, I thought
you were done with all this Jack-a-shoring.
KIT. What cheer, mother? I'm only a sheet in the wind; and
who's the worse for it but me?
MRS. DRAKE. Ah, and that dear young lady; and her waiting and
keeping single these two years for the love of you!
KIT. She, mother? she's heart of oak, she's true as steel, and
good as gold; and she has my ring on her finger, too. But
where's the use? The Admiral won't look at me.
MRS. DRAKE. Why not? You're as good a man as him any day.
KIT. Am I? He says I'm a devil, and swears that none of his
flesh and blood - that's what he said, mother! - should lie at my
mercy. That's what cuts me. If it wasn't for the good stuff
I've been taking aboard, and the jolly companions I've been
seeing it out with, I'd just go and make a hole in the water, and
be done with it, I would, by George!
MRS. DRAKE. That's like you men. Ah, we know you, we that keeps
a public-house - we know you, good and bad: you go off on a
frolic and forget; and you never think of the women that sit
crying at home.
KIT. Crying? Arethusa cry? Why, dame, she's the
bravest-hearted girl in all broad England! Here, fill the glass!
I'll win her yet. I drink to her; here's to her bright eyes, and
here's to the blessed feet she walks upon!
PEW (LOOKING ROUND THE CORNER OF THE SETTLE). Spoke like a
gallant seaman, every inch. Shipmate, I'm a man as has suffered,
and I'd like to shake your fist, and drink a can of flip with
KIT (COMING DOWN). Hullo, my hearty! who the devil are you?
Who's this, mother?
MRS. DRAKE. Nay, I know nothing about him. (SHE GOES OUT, R.)
PEW. Cap'n, I'm a brother seaman, and my name is Pew, old David
Pew, as you may have heard of in your time, he having sailed
along of 'Awke and glorious Benbow, and a right-'and man to both.
KIT. Benbow? Steady, mate! D'ye mean to say you went to sea
before you were born?
PEW. See now! The sign of this here inn was running in my 'ed,
I reckon. Benbow, says you? no, not likely! Anson, I mean;
Anson and Sir Edward 'Awke: that's the pair: I was their
KIT. Well, mate, you may be all that, and more; but you're a rum
un to look at, anyhow.
PEW. Right you are, and so I am. But what is looks? It's the
'art that does it: the 'art is the seaman's star; and here's old
David Pew's, a matter of fifty years at sea, but tough and sound
as the British Constitootion.
KIT. You're right there, Pew. Shake hands upon it. And you're
a man they're down upon, just like myself, I see. We're a pair
of plain, good-hearted, jolly tars; and all these 'longshore
fellows cock a lip at us, by George. What cheer, mate?
ARETHUSA (WITHOUT). Mrs. Drake! Mrs. Drake!
PEW. What, a female? hey? a female? Board her board her, mate!
I'm dark. (HE RETIRES AGAIN BEHIND, TO TABLE, R., BEHIND
ARETHUSA (WITHOUT). Mrs. Drake!
MRS. DRAKE (RE-ENTERING AND RUNNING TO DOOR). Here I am, my
dear; come in.
TO THESE, ARETHUSA
ARETHUSA. Ah, Kit, I've found you. I thought you would lodge
with Mrs. Drake.
KIT. What? are you looking for your consort? Whistle, I'm your
dog; I'll come to you. I've been toasting you fathom deep, my
beauty; and with every glass I love you dearer.
ARETHUSA. Now Kit, if you want to please my father, this is not
the way. Perhaps he thinks too much of the guineas: well,
gather them - if you think me worth the price. Go you to your
sloop, clinker built, eighty tons burthen - you see I remember,
Skipper Kit! I don't deny I like a man of spirit; but if you
care to please Captain Gaunt, keep out of taverns; and if you
could carry yourself a bit more - more elderly!
[KIT. Can I? Would I? Ah, just couldn't and just won't I,
MRS. DRAKE. I hope, madam, you don't refer to my house; a
publican I may be, but tavern is a word that I don't hold with;
and here there's no bad drink, and no loose company; and as for
my blessedest Kit, I declare I love him like my own.
ARETHUSA. Why, who could help it, Mrs. Drake?]
KIT. Arethusa, you're an angel. Do I want to please Captain
Gaunt? Why, that's as much as ask whether I love you. [I don't
deny that his words cut me; for they did. But as for wanting to
please him, if he was deep as the blue Atlantic, I would beat it
out. And elderly, too? Aha, you witch, you're wise! Elderly?
You've set the course; you leave me alone to steer it.
Matrimony's my port, and love is my cargo.] That's a likely
question, ain't it, Mrs. Drake? Do I want to please him!
Elderly, says you? Why, see here: Fill up my glass, and I'll
drink to Arethusa on my knees.
ARETHUSA. Why, you stupid boy, do you think that would please
KIT. On my knees I'll drink it! (AS HE KNEELS AND DRAINS THE
GLASS, GAUNT ENTERS, AND HE SCRAMBLES TO HIS FEET.)
TO THESE, GAUNT
GAUNT. Arethusa, this is no place for you.
ARETHUSA. No, father.
GAUNT. I wish you had been spared this sight; but look at him,
child, since you are here; look at God's image, so debased. And
you, young man (TO KIT), you have proved that I was right. Are
you the husband for this innocent maid?
KIT. Captain Gaunt, I have a word to say to you. Terror is your
last word; you're bitter hard upon poor sinners, bitter hard and
black - you that were a sinner yourself. These are not the true
colours: don't deceive yourself; you're out of your course.
[GAUNT. Heaven forbid that I should be hard, Christopher. It is
not I; it's God's law that is of iron. Think! if the blow were
to fall now, some cord to snap within you, some enemy to plunge a
knife into your heart; this room, with its poor taper light, to
vanish; this world to disappear like a drowning man into the
great ocean; and you, your brain still whirling, to be snatched
into the presence of the eternal Judge: Christopher French, what
answer would you make? For these gifts wasted, for this rich
mercy scorned, for these high-handed bravings of your better
angel, - what have you to say?
KIT. Well, sir, I want my word with you, and by your leave I'll
have it out.
ARETHUSA. Kit, for pity's sake!
KIT. Arethusa, I don't speak to you, my dear: you've got my
ring, and I know what that means. The man I speak to is Captain
Gaunt. I came to-day as happy a man as ever stepped, and with as
fair a look-out. What did you care? what was your reply? None
of your flesh and blood, you said, should lie at the mercy of a
wretch like me! Am I not flesh and blood that you should trample
on me like that? Is that charity, to stamp the hope out of a
GAUNT. You speak wildly; or the devil of drink that is in you
KIT. You think me drunk? well, so I am, and whose fault is it
but yours? It was I that drank; but you take your share of it,
Captain Gaunt: you it was that filled the can.
GAUNT. Christopher French, I spoke but for your good, your good
and hers. 'Woe unto him' - these are the dreadful words - 'by
whom offences shall come: it were better - ' Christopher, I can
but pray for both of us.
KIT. Prayers? Now I tell you freely, Captain Gaunt, I don't
value your prayers. Deeds are what I ask; kind deeds and words -
that's the true-blue piety: to hope the best and do the best,
and speak the kindest. As for you, you insult me to my face; and
then you'll pray for me? What's that? Insult behind my back is
what I call it! No, sir; you're out of the course; you're no
good man to my view, be you who you may.
MRS. DRAKE. O Christopher! To Captain Gaunt?
ARETHUSA. Father, father, come away!
KIT. Ah, you see? She suffers too; we all suffer. You spoke
just now of a devil; well, I'll tell you the devil you have: the
devil of judging others. And as for me, I'll get as drunk as
PEW, MRS. DRAKE, KIT
PEW (COMING OUT AND WAVING HIS PIPE). Commander, shake! Hooray
for old England! If there's anything in the world that goes to
old Pew's 'art, it's argyment. Commander, you handled him like a
babby, kept the weather gauge, and hulled him every shot.
Commander, give it a name, and let that name be rum!
KIT. Ay, rum's the sailor's fancy. Mrs. Drake, a bottle and
MRS. DRAKE. Kit French, I wouldn't. Think better of it, there's
a dear! And that sweet girl just gone!
PEW. Ma'am, I'm not a 'ard man; I'm not the man to up and force
a act of parleyment upon a helpless female. But you see here:
Pew's friends is sacred. Here's my friend here, a perfeck
seaman, and a man with a 'ed upon his shoulders, and a man that,
damme, I admire. He give you a order, ma'am: - march!
MRS. DRAKE. Kit, don't you listen to that blind man; he's the
devil wrote upon his face.
PEW. Don't you insinuate against my friend. HE ain't a child, I
hope? HE knows his business? Don't you get trying to go a
lowering of my friend in his own esteem.
MRS. DRAKE. Well, I'll bring it, Kit; but it's against the
KIT. I say, old boy, come to think of it, why should we? It's
been glasses round with me all day. I've got my cargo.
PEW. You? and you just argy'd the 'ed off of Admiral Guinea? O
stash that! I stand treat, if it comes to that!
KIT. What! Do I meet with a blind seaman and not stand him?
That's not the man I am!
MRS. DRAKE (RE-ENTERING WITH BOTTLE AND GLASSES). There!
PEW. Easy does it, ma'am.
KIT. Mrs. Drake, you had better trot.
MRS. DRAKE. Yes, I'll trot; and I trot with a sick heart, Kit
French, to leave you drinking your wits away with that low blind
man. For a low man you are - a low blind man - and your clothes
they would disgrace a scarecrow. I'll go to my bed, Kit; and O,
dear boy, go soon to yours - the old room, you know; it's ready
for you - and go soon and sleep it off; for you know, dear, they,
one and all, regret it in the morning; thirty years I've kept
this house, and one and all they did regret it, dear.
PEW. Come now, you walk!
MRS. DRAKE. O, it's not for your bidding. You a seaman? The
ship for you to sail in is the hangman's cart. - Good-night, Kit
dear, and better company!
PEW, KIT. They sit at the other table, L.
PEW. Commander, here's HER 'ealth!
KIT. Ay, that's the line: HER health! But that old woman there
is a good old woman, Pew.
PEW. So she is, Commander. But there's no woman understands a
seaman; now you and me, being both bred to it, we splice by
natur'. As for A. G., if argyment can win her, why, she's yours.
If I'd a-had your 'ed for argyment, damme, I'd a-been a Admiral,
I would! And if argyment won't win her, well, see here, you put
your trust in David Pew.
KIT. David Pew, I don't know who you are, David Pew; I never
heard of you; I don't seem able to clearly see you. Mrs. Drake,
she's a smart old woman, Pew, and she says you've the devil in
PEW. Ah, and why, says you? Because I up and put her in her
place, when she forgot herself to you, Commander.
KIT. Well, Pew, that's so; you stood by me like a man. Shake
hands, Pew; and we'll make a night of it, or we'll know why, old
PEW. That's my way. That's Pew's way, that is. That's Pew's
way all over. Commander, excuse the liberty; but when I was your
age, making allowance for a lowlier station and less 'ed for
argyment, I was as like you as two peas. I know it by the v'ice
'We hadn't been three days at sea before we saw a sail,
So we clapped on every stitch would stand, although it blew a
And we walked along full fourteen knots, for the barkie she did
As well as ever a soul on board, 'twas time for us to go.'
PEW AND KIT (IN CHORUS) -
'Time for us to go,
Time for us to go,
As well as ever a soul on board,
'Twas time for us to go.'
PEW (SINGS) -
'We carried away the royal yard, and the stunsail boom was gone;
Says the skipper, "They may go or stand, I'm damned if I don't
So the weather braces we'll round in, and the trysail set also,
And we'll keep the brig three p'ints away, for it's time for us
Give it mouth, Commander!
PEW AND KIT (IN CHORUS) -
'Time for us to go,
Time for us to go,
And we'll keep the brig three p'ints away,
For it's time for us to go.'
PEW. I ain't sung like that since I sang to Admiral 'Awke, the
night before I lost my eyes, I ain't. 'Sink me!' says he, says
Admiral 'Awke, my old commander (TOUCHING HIS HAT), 'sink me!' he
says, 'if that ain't 'art-of-oak,' he says: ''art-of-oak,' says
he, 'and a pipe like a bloody blackbird!' Commander, here's my
respecks, and the devil fly away with Admiral Guinea!
KIT. I say, Pew, how's this? How do you know about Admiral
Guinea? I say, Pew, I begin to think you know too much.
PEW. I ax your pardon; but as a man with a 'ed for argyment -
and that's your best p'int o' sailing, Commander; intelleck is
your best p'int - as a man with a 'ed for argyment, how do I make
KIT. Aha, you're a sly dog, you're a deep dog, Pew; but you
can't get the weather of Kit French. How do I make it out? I'll
tell you. I make it out like this: Your name's Pew, ain't it?
Very well. And you know Admiral Guinea, and that's his name, eh?
Very well. Then you're Pew; and the Admiral's the Admiral; and
you know the Admiral; and by George, that's all. Hey? Drink
about, boys, drink about!
PEW. Lord love you, if I'd a-had a 'ed like yours! Why the
Admiral was my first cap'n. I was that man's bo'sun, I was,
aboard the ARETHUSA; and we was like two brothers. Did you never
hear of Guinea-land and the black ivory business? (SINGS) -
'A quick run to the south we had, and when we made the Bight
We kept the offing all day long and crossed the bar at night.
Six hundred niggers in the hold and seventy we did stow,
And when we'd clapped the hatches on, 'twas time for us to go.'
Lay forward, lads!
KIT AND PEW (IN CHORUS) -
'Time for us to go,' etc.
KIT. I say, Pew, I like you; you're a damned ugly dog; but I
like you. But look ye here, Pew: fair does it, you know, or we
part company this minute. If you and the Ad - the Admirable were
like brothers on the Guinea coast, why aren't you like brothers
PEW. Ah, I see you coming. What a 'ed! what a 'ed! Since Pew
is a friend of the family, says you, why didn't he sail in and
bear a hand, says you, when you was knocking the Admiral's ship
about his ears in argyment?
KIT. Well, Pew, now you put a name to it, why not?
PEW. Ah, why not? There I recko'nise you. [Well, see here:
argyment's my weakness, in a manner of speaking; I wouldn't
a-borne down and spiled sport, not for gold untold, no, not for
rum, I wouldn't! And besides, Commander, I put it to you, as
between man and man, would it have been seaman-like to let on and
show myself to a old shipmate, when he was yard-arm to yard-arm
with a craft not half his metal, and getting blown out of water
every broadside? Would it have been 'ansome? I put it to you,
as between man and man.
KIT. Pew, I may have gifts; but I never thought of that. Why,
no: not seaman-like. Pew, you've a heart; that's what I like
PEW. Ah, that I have: you'll see. I wanted - now you follow me
- I wanted to keep square with Admiral Guinea.] Why? says you.
Well, put it that I know a fine young fellow when I sees him; and
put it that I wish him well; and put it, for the sake of
argyment, that the father of that lovely female's in my power.
Aha? Pew's Power! Why, in my 'ands he's like this pocket
'andke'cher. Now, brave boy, do you see?
KIT. No, Pew, my head's gone; I don't see.
PEW. Why, cheer up, Commander! You want to marry this lovely
KIT. Ay, that I do; but I'm not fit for her, Pew; I'm a drunken
dog, and I'm not fit for her.
PEW. Now, Cap'n, you'll allow a old seaman to be judge: one as
sailed with 'Awke and blessed Benb- with 'Awke and noble Anson.
You've been open and above-board with me, and I'll do the same by
you: it being the case that you're hard hit about a lovely
woman, which many a time and oft it has happened to old Pew; and
him with a feeling 'art that bleeds for you, Commander; why look
here: I'm that girl's godfather; promised and vowed for her, I
did; and I like you; and you're the man for her; and, by the
living Jacob, you shall splice!
KIT. David Pew, do you mean what you say?
PEW. Do I mean what I say? Does David Pew? Ask Admiral 'Awke!
Ask old Admiral Byng in his coffin, where I laid him with these
lands! Pew does, is what those naval commanders would reply.
Mean it? I reckon so.
KIT. Then, shake hands. You're an honest man, Pew - old Pew! -
and I'll make your fortune. But there's something else, if I
could keep the run of it. O, ah! But CAN you? That's the
point. Can you; don't you see?
PEW. Can I? You leave that to me; I'll bring you to your
moorings; I'm the man that can, and I'm him that will. But only,
look here, let's understand each other. You're a bold blade,
ain't you? You won't stick at a trifle for a lovely female?
You'll back me up? You're a man, ain't you? a man, and you'll
see me through and through it, hey? Come; is that so? Are you
fair and square and stick at nothing?
KIT. Me, Pew? I'll go through fire and water.
PEW. I'll risk it. - Well, then, see here, my son: another
swallow and we jog.
KIT. No, not to-night, Pew, not to-night!
PEW. Commander, in a manner of speaking, wherefore?
KIT. Wherefore, Pew? 'Cause why, Pew? 'Cause I'm drunk, and be
damned to you!
PEW. Commander, I ax your pardon; but, saving your presence,
that's a lie. What? drunk? a man with a 'ed for argyment like
that? just you get up, and steady yourself on your two pins, and
you'll be as right as ninepence.
[KIT. Pew, before we budge, let me shake your flipper again.
You're heart of oak, Pew, sure enough; and if you can bring the
Adam - Admirable about, why, damme, I'll make your fortune! How
you're going to do it, I don't know; but I'll stand by; and I
know you'll do it if anybody can. But I'm drunk, Pew; you can't
deny that: I'm as drunk as a Plymouth fiddler, Pew; and how
you're going to do it is a mystery to me.
PEW. Ah, you leave that to me. All I want is what I've got:
your promise to stand by and bear a hand (PRODUCING A DARK
LANTERN).] Now, here, you see, is my little glim; it ain't for
me, because I'm blind, worse luck! and the day and night is the
blessed same to David Pew. But you watch. You put the candle
near me. Here's what there ain't mony blind men could do, take
the pick o' them! (LIGHTING A SCREW OF PAPER, AND WITH THAT, THE
LANTERN). Hey? That's it. Hey? Go and pity the poor blind!
KIT (WHILE PEW BLOWS OUT THE CANDLES). But I say, Pew, what do
you want with it?
PEW. To see by, my son. (HE SHUTS THE LANTERN AND PUTS IT IN
HIS POCKET. STAGE QUITE DARK. MOONLIGHT AT WINDOW.) All
ship-shape? No sparks about? No? Come, then, lean on me and
heave ahead for the lovely female. (SINGING SOTTO VOCE) -
'Time for us to go, Time for us to go, And when we'd clapped the
hatches on, 'Twas time for us to go.'
The Stage represents the Admiral's house, as in Act I. GAUNT
seated, is reading aloud; ARETHUSA sits at his feet. Candles
[GAUNT (READING). 'And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee,
or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest,
I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people
shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I
die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more
also, if aught but death part thee and me.' (HE CLOSES THE
ARETHUSA. Amen. Father, there spoke my heart.]
GAUNT. Arethusa, the Lord in his mercy has seen right to vex us
with trials of many kinds. It is a little matter to endure the
pangs of the flesh: the smart of wounds, the passion of hunger
and thirst, the heaviness of disease; and in this world I have
learned to take thought for nothing save the quiet of your soul.
It is through our affections that we are smitten with the true
pain, even the pain that kills.
ARETHUSA. And yet this pain is our natural lot. Father, I fear
to boast, but I know that I can bear it. Let my life, then, flow
like common lives, each pain rewarded with some pleasure, each
pleasure linked with some pain: nothing pure whether for good or
evil: and my husband, like myself and all the rest of us, only a
poor, kind-hearted sinner, striving for the better part. What
more could any woman ask?
GAUNT. Child, child, your words are like a sword. What would
she ask? Look upon me whom, in the earthly sense, you are
commanded to respect. Look upon me: do I bear a mark? is there
any outward sign to bid a woman avoid and flee from me?
ARETHUSA. I see nothing but the face I love.
GAUNT. There is none: nor yet on the young man Christopher,
whose words still haunt and upbraid me. Yes, I am hard; I was
born hard, born a tyrant, born to be what I was, a slaver
captain. But to-night, and to save you, I will pluck my heart
out of my bosom. You shall know what makes me what I am; you
shall hear, out of my own life, why I dread and deprecate this
marriage. Child, do you remember your mother?
ARETHUSA. Remember her? Ah, if she had been here to-day!
GAUNT. It is thirteen years since she departed, and took with
her the whole sunshine of my life. Do you remember the manner of
her departure? You were a child, and cannot; but I can and do.
Remember? shall I ever forget? Here or hereafter, ever forget!
Ten years she was my wife, and ten years she lay a-dying.
Arethusa, she was a saint on earth; and it was I that killed her.
ARETHUSA. Killed her? my mother? You?
GAUNT. Not with my hand; for I loved her. I would not have hurt
one hair upon her head. But she got her death by me, as sure as
by a blow.
ARETHUSA. I understand - I can see: you brood on trifles,
misunderstandings, unkindnesses you think them; though my mother
never knew of them, or never gave them a second thought. It is
natural, when death has come between.
GAUNT. I married her from Falmouth. She was comely as the roe;
I see her still - her dove's eyes and her smile! I was older
than she; and I had a name for hardness, a hard and wicked man;
but she loved me - my Hester! - and she took me as I was. O how
I repaid her trust! Well, our child was born to us; and we named
her after the brig I had built and sailed, the old craft whose
likeness - older than you, girl - stands there above our heads.
And so far, that was happiness. But she yearned for my
salvation; and it was there I thwarted her. My sins were a
burden upon her spirit, a shame to her in this world, her terror
in the world to come. She talked much and often of my leaving
the devil's trade I sailed in. She had a tender and a Christian
heart, and she would weep and pray for the poor heathen creatures
that I bought and sold and shipped into misery, till my
conscience grew hot within me. I've put on my hat, and gone out
and made oath that my next cargo should be my last; but it never
was, that oath was never kept. So I sailed again and again for
the Guinea coast, until the trip came that was to be my last
indeed. Well, it fell out that we had good luck trading, and I
stowed the brig with these poor heathen as full as she would
hold. We had a fair run westward till we were past the line; but
one night the wind rose and there came a hurricane, and for seven
days we were tossed on the deep seas, in the hardest straits, and
every hand on deck. For several days they were battened down:
all that time we heard their cries and lamentations, but worst at
the beginning; and when at last, and near dead myself, I crept
below - O! some they were starved, some smothered, some dead of
broken limbs; and the hold was like a lazar-house in the time of
the anger of the Lord!
GAUNT. It was two hundred and five that we threw overboard: two
hundred and five lost souls that I had hurried to their doom. I
had many die with me before; but not like that - not such a
massacre as that; and I stood dumb before the sight. For I saw I
was their murderer - body and soul their murderer; and, Arethusa,
my Hester knew it. That was her death-stroke: it felled her.
She had long been dying slowly; but from the hour she heard that
story, the garment of the flesh began to waste and perish, the
fountains of her life dried up; she faded before my face; and in
two months from my landing - O Hester, Hester, would God I had
died for thee!
ARETHUSA. Mother! O poor soul! O poor father! O father, it
was hard on you.
GAUNT. The night she died, she lay there, in her bed. She took
my hand. 'I am going,' she said, 'to heaven. For Christ's
sake,' she said, 'come after me, and bring my little maid. I'll
be waiting and wearying till you come;' and she kissed my hand,
the hand that killed her. At that I broke out calling on her to
stop, for it was more than I could bear. But no, she said she
must still tell me of my sins, and how the thought of them had
bowed down her life. 'And O!' she said, 'if I couldn't prevail
on you alive, let my death.' . . . Well, then, she died. What
have I done since then? I've laid my course for Hester. Sin,
temptation, pleasure, all this poor shadow of a world, I saw them
not: I saw my Hester waiting, waiting and wearying. I have made
my election sure; my sins I have cast them out. Hester, Hester,
I will come to you, poor waiting one; and I'll bring your little
maid: ay, dearest soul, I'll bring your little maid safe with
ARETHUSA. O teach me how! Show me the way! only show me. - O
mother, mother! - If it were paved with fire, show me the way,
and I will walk it bare-foot!
GAUNT. They call me a miser. They say that in this sea-chest of
mine I hoard my gold. (HE PASSES R. TO CHEST, TAKES OUT KEY, AND
UNLOCKS IT.) They think my treasure and my very soul are locked
up here. They speak after the flesh, but they are right. See!
ARETHUSA. Her watch? the wedding ring? O father, forgive me!
GAUNT. Ay, her watch that counted the hours when I was away;
they were few and sorrowful, my Hester's hours; and this poor
contrivance numbered them. The ring - with that I married her.
This chain, it's of Guinea gold; I brought it home for her, the
year before we married, and she wore it to her wedding. It was a
vanity: they are all vanities; but they are the treasure of my
soul. Below here, see, her wedding dress. Ay, the watch has
stopped: dead, dead. And I know that my Hester died of me; and
day and night, asleep and awake, my soul abides in her
ARETHUSA. And you come in your sleep to look at them. O poor
father! I understand - I understand you now.
GAUNT. In my sleep? Ay? do I so? My Hester!
ARETHUSA. And why, why did you not tell me? I thought - I was
like the rest! - I feared you were a miser. O, you should have
told me; I should have been so proud - so proud and happy. I
knew you loved her; but not this, not this.
GAUNT. Why should I have spoken? It was all between my Hester
ARETHUSA. Father, may I speak? May I tell you what my heart
tells me? You do not understand about my mother. You loved her
- O, as few men can love. And she loved you: think how she
loved you! In this world, you know - you have told me - there is
nothing perfect. All we men and women have our sins; and they
are a pain to those that love us, and the deeper the love, the
crueller the pain. That is life; and it is life we ask, not
heaven; and what matter for the pain, if only the love holds on?
Her love held: then she was happy! Her love was immortal; and
when she died, her one grief was to be parted from you, her one
hope to welcome you again.
GAUNT. And you, Arethusa: I was to bring her little maid.
ARETHUSA. God bless her, yes, and me! But, father, can you not
see that she was blessed among women?
GAUNT. Child, child, you speak in ignorance; you touch upon
griefs you cannot fathom.
ARETHUSA. No, dearest, no. She loved you, loved you and died of
it. Why else do women live? What would I ask but just to love
my Kit and die for him, and look down from heaven, and see him
keep my memory holy and live the nobler for my sake?
GAUNT. Ay, do you so love him?
ARETHUSA. Even as my mother loved my father.
GAUNT. Ay? Then we will see. What right have I - You are your
mother's child: better, tenderer, wiser than I. Let us seek
guidance in prayer. Good-night, my little maid.
ARETHUSA. O father, I know you at last.
GAUNT and ARETHUSA go out, L., carrying the candles. Stage dark.
A distant clock chimes the quarters, and strikes one. Then, the
tap-tapping of Pew's stick is hear without; the key is put into
the lock; and enter PEW, C., he pockets key, and is followed by
KIT, with dark lantern
PEW. Quiet, you lubber! Can't you foot it soft, you that has
daylights and a glim?
KIT. All right, old boy. How the devil did we get through the
door? Shall I knock him up?
PEW. Stow your gab (SEIZING HIS WRIST). Under your breath!
KIT. Avast that! You're a savage dog, aren't you?
PEW. Turn on that glim.
KIT. It's as right as a trivet, Pew. What next? By George,
Pew, I'll make your fortune.
PEW. Here, now, look round this room, and sharp. D'ye see a old
KIT. See it, Pew? why, d'ye think I'm blind?
PEW. Take me across, and let me feel of her. Mum; catch my
hand. Ah, that's her (FEELING THE CHEST), that's the Golden
Mary. Now, see here, my bo, if you've the pluck of a weevil in a
biscuit, this girl is yours; if you hain't, and think to sheer
off, I'm blind, but I'm deadly.
KIT. You'll keep a civil tongue in your head all the same. I'll
take threats from nobody, blind or not. Let's knock up the
Admiral and be done with it. What I want is to get rid of this
dark lantern. It makes me feel like a housebreaker, by George.
PEW (SEATED ON CHEST). You follow this. I'm sick of drinking
bilge, when I might be rolling in my coach, and I'm dog-sick of
Jack Gaunt. Who's he to be wallowing in gold, when a better man
is groping crusts in the gutter and spunging for rum? Now, here
in this blasted chest is the gold to make men of us for life:
gold, ay, gobs of it; and writin's too - things that if I had the
proof of 'em I'd hold Jack Gaunt to the grindstone till his face
was flat. I'd have done it single-handed; but I'm blind, worse
luck: I'm all in the damned dark here, poking with a stick -
Lord, burn up with lime the eyes that saw it! That's why I raked
up you. Come, out with your iron, and prise the lid off. You
shall touch your snack, and have the wench for nothing; ay, and
fling her in the street, when done.
KIT. So you brought me here to steal did you?
PEW. Ay did I; and you shall. I'm a biter: I bring blood.
KIT. Now, Pew, you came here on my promise, or I'd kill you like
a rat. As it is, out of that door! One, two, three (DRAWING HIS
CUTLASS), and off!
PEW (LEAPING AT HIS THROAT, AND WITH A GREAT VOICE). Help!
To these, ARETHUSA, GAUNT, with lights. Stage light. PEW has
KIT down, and is throttling him
PEW. I've got him, Cap'n. What, kill my old commander, and rob
him of his blessed child? Not with old Pew!
GAUNT. Get up, David: can't you see you're killing him?
Unhand, I say.
ARETHUSA. In heaven's name, who is it?
PEW. It's a damned villain, my pretty; and his name, to the best
of my belief, is French.
ARETHUSA. Kit? Kit French? Never!
KIT (RISING). He's done for me. (FALLS ON CHEST.)
[PEW. Don't you take on about him, ducky; he ain't worth it.
Cap'n Gaunt, I took him and I give him up. You was 'ard on me
this morning, Cap'n: this is my way - Pew's way, this is - of
paying of you out.
ARETHUSA. Father, this is the blind man that came while you were
abroad. Sure you'll not listen to HIM. And you, Kit, you, what
KIT. Captain Gaunt, that blind devil has half-throttled me. He
brought me here - I can't speak - he has almost killed me - and
I'd been drinking too.
GAUNT. And you, David Pew, what do you say?]
PEW. Cap'n, the rights of it is this. Me and that young man
there was partaking in a friendly drop of rum at the ADMIRAL
BENBOW inn; and I'd just proposed his blessed Majesty, when the
young man he ups and says to me: 'Pew,' he says, 'I like you,
Pew: you're a true seaman,' he says; 'and I'm one as sticks at
nothing; and damme, Pew,' he says, 'I'll make your fortune.'
[Can he deny as them was his words? Look at him, you as has
eyes: no, he cannot. 'Come along of me,' he says, 'and damme,
I'll make your fortune.'] Well, Cap'n, he lights a dark lantern
(which you'll find it somewhere on the floor, I reckon), and out
we goes, me follerin' his lead, as I thought was 'art-of-oak and
a true-blue mariner; and the next I knows is, here we was in
here, and him a-askin' me to 'old the glim, while he prised the
lid off of your old sea-chest with his cutlass.
GAUNT. The chest? (HE LEAPS, R., AND EXAMINES CHEST.) Ah!
PEW. Leastways, I was to 'elp him, by his account of it, while
he nailed the rhino, and then took and carried off that lovely
maid of yours; for a lovely maid she is, and one as touched old
Pew's 'art Cap'n, when I 'eard that, my blood biled. 'Young
man,' I says, 'you don't know David Pew,' I says; and with that I
ups and does my dooty by him, cutlass and all, like a lion-'arted
seaman, though blind. [And then in comes you, and I gives him
up: as you know for a fack is true, and I'll subscribe at the
Assizes. And that, if you was to cut me into junks, is the
truth, the 'ole truth, and nothing but the truth, world without
end, so help me, amen; and if you'll 'and me over the 'oly Bible,
me not having such a thing about me at the moment, why, I'll put
a oath upon it like a man.]
ARETHUSA. Father, have you heard?
[GAUNT. I know this man, Arethusa, and the truth is not in him.
ARETHUSA. Well, and why do we wait? We know Kit, do we not?
KIT. Ay, Captain, you know the pair of us, and you can see his
face and mine.]
GAUNT. Christopher, the facts are all against you. I find you
here in my house at midnight: you who at least had eyes to see,
and must have known whither you were going. It was this man, not
you, who called me up: and when I came in, it was he who was
uppermost and who gave you up to justice. This unsheathed
cutlass is yours; there hangs the scabbard, empty; and as for the
dark lantern, of what use is light to the blind? and who could
have trimmed and lighted it but you?
PEW. Ah, Cap'n, what a 'ed for argyment!
KIT. And now, sir, now that you have spoken, I claim the liberty
to speak on my side.
GAUNT. Not so. I will first have done with this man. David
Pew, it were too simple to believe your story as you tell it; but
I can find no testimony against you. From whatever reason,
assuredly you have done me service. Here are five guineas to set
you on your way. Begone at once; and while it is yet time, think
upon your repentance.
PEW. Cap'n, here's my respecks. You've turned a pious man,
Cap'n; it does my 'art good to 'ear you. But you ain't the only
one. O no! I came about and paid off on the other tack before
you, I reckon: you ask the Chaplain of the Fleet else, as called
me on the quarter-deck before old Admiral 'Awke himself (TOUCHING
HIS HAT), my old commander. ['David Pew,' he says,
'five-and-thirty year have I been in this trade, man and boy,'
that chaplain says, 'and damme, Pew,' says he, 'if ever I seen
the seaman that could rattle off his catechism within fifty mile
of you. Here's five guineas out of my own pocket,' he says; 'and
what's more to the pint,' he says, 'I'll speak to my reverend
brother-in-law, the Bishop of Dover,' he says; 'and if ever you
leave the sea, and wants a place as beadle, why damme,' says he,
'you go to him, for you're the man for him, and him for you.'
GAUNT. David Pew, you never set your foot on a King's ship in
all your life. There lies the road.
PEW. Ah, you was always a 'ard man, Cap'n, and a 'ard man to
believe, like Didymus the 'Ebrew prophet. But it's time for me
to go, and I'll be going. My service to you, Cap'n: and I kiss
my 'and to that lovely female.
'Time for us to go,
Time for us to go, A
nd when we'd clapped the hatches on,
'Twas time for us to go.'
KIT, ARETHUSA, GAUNT
ARETHUSA. Now, Kit?
KIT. Well, sir, and now?
GAUNT. I find you here in my house at this untimely and unseemly
hour; I find you there in company with one who, to my assured
knowledge, should long since have swung in the wind at Execution
Dock. What brought you? Why did you open my door while I slept
to such a companion? Christopher French, I have two treasures.
One (LAYING HIS HAND ON ARETHUSA'S SHOULDER) I know you covet.
Christopher, is this your love?
KIT. Sir, I have been fooled and trapped. That man declared he
knew you, declared he could make you change your mind about our
marriage. I was drunk, sir, and I believed him: heaven knows I
am sober now, and can see my folly; but I believed him then, and
followed him. He brought me here, he told me your chest was full
of gold that would make men of us for life. At that I saw my
fault, sir, and drew my cutlass; and he, in the wink of an eye,
roared out for help, leaped at my throat like a weasel and had me
rolling on the floor. He was quick, and I, as I tell you, sir,
was off my balance.
GAUNT. Is this man, Pew, your enemy?
KIT. No sir; I never saw him till to-night.
GAUNT. Then, if you must stand the justice of your country, come
to the proof with a better plea. What? lantern and cutlass
yours; you the one that knew the house; you the one that saw; you
the one overtaken and denounced; and you spin me a galley yarn
like that? If that is all your defence, you'll hang, sir, hang.
ARETHUSA. Ah! Father, I give him up: I will never see him,
never speak to him, never think of him again; I take him from my
heart; I give myself wholly up to you and to my mother; I will
obey you in every point - O, not at a word merely - at a finger
raised! I will do all this; I will do anything - anything you
bid me; I swear it in the face of heaven. Only - Kit! I love
him, father, I love him. Let him go.
ARETHUSA. You let the other. Open the door again - for my sake,
father - in my mother's name - O, open the door and let him go.]
KIT. Let me go? My girl, if you had cast me out is morning,
good and well: I would have left you, though it broke my heart.
But it's a changed story now; now I'm down on my luck, and you
come and stab me from behind. I ask no favour, and I'll take
none; I stand here on my innocence, and God helping me I'll clear
my good name, and get your love again, if it's love worth having.
[Now, Captain Gaunt, I've said my say, and you may do your
pleasure. I am my father's son, and I never feared to face the
GAUNT. You have spoken like a man, French, and you may go. I
leave you free.
KIT. Nay, sir, not so: not with my will. I'm accused and
counted guilty; the proofs are against me; the girl I love has
turned upon me. I'll accept no mercy at your hands.] Captain
Gaunt, I am your prisoner.
ARETHUSA. Kit, dear Kit -
GAUNT. Silence! Young man, I have offered you liberty without
bond or condition. You refuse. You shall be judged. Meanwhile
(OPENING THE DOOR, R.), you will go in here. I keep your
cutlass. The night brings counsel: to-morrow shall decide. (HE
LOCKS KIT IN, LEAVING THE KEY IN THE DOOR.)
GAUNT, ARETHUSA, afterwards PEW
ARETHUSA. Father, you believe in him; you do; I know you do.
GAUNT. Child, I am not given to be hasty. I will pray and sleep
upon this matter. (A KNOCKING AT THE DOOR, C.) Who knocks so
late? (HE OPENS.)
PEW (ENTERING). Cap'n, shall I fetch the constable?
PEW. No? Have ye killed him?
GAUNT. My man, I'll see you into the road. (HE TAKES PEW BY THE
ARM, AND GOES OUT WITH HIM.)
ARETHUSA. (LISTENS; THEN RUNNING TO DOOR, R.) Kit - dearest!
wait! I will come to you soon.
(GAUNT RE-ENTERS, C., AS THE DROP FALLS.)
The Stage represents the Admiral's house, as in Acts I. and III.
A chair, L., in front. As the curtain rises, the Stage is dark.
Enter ARETHUSA, L., with candle; she lights another; and passes
to door, R., which she unbolts. Stage light
ARETHUSA. Come, dear Kit, come!
KIT. Well, I'm here.
ARETHUSA. O Kit, you are not angry with me.
KIT. Have I reason to be pleased?
ARETHUSA. Kit, I was wrong. Forgive me.
KIT. O yes. I forgive you. I suppose you meant it kindly; but
there are some kindnesses a man would rather die than take a gift
of. When a man is accused, Arethusa, it is not that he fears the
gallows - it's the shame that cuts him. At such a time as that,
the way to help was to stand to your belief. You should have
nailed my colours to the mast, not spoke of striking them. If I
were to be hanged to-morrow, and your love there, and a free
pardon and a dukedom on the other side - which would I choose?
ARETHUSA. Kit, you must judge me fairly. It was not my life
that was at stake, it was yours. Had it been mine - mine, Kit -
what had you done, then?
KIT. I am a downright fool; I saw it inside out. Why, give you
up, by George!
ARETHUSA. Ah, you see! Now you understand. It was all pure
love. When he said that word - O! - death and that disgrace! .
. . But I know my father. He fears nothing so much as the
goodness of his heart; and yet it conquers. He would pray, he
said: and to-night, and by the kindness of his voice, I knew he
was convinced already. All that is wanted, is that you should
KIT. Arethusa, if you looked at me like that I'd forgive you
piracy on the high seas. I was only sulky; I was boxed up there
in the black dark, and couldn't see my hand. It made me pity
that blind man, by George!
ARETHUSA. O, that blind man! The fiend! He came back, Kit:
did you hear him? he thought we had killed you - you!
KIT. Well, well, it serves me right for keeping company with
such a swab.
ARETHUSA. One thing puzzles me: how did you get in? I saw my
father lock the door.
KIT. Ah, how? That's just it. I was a sheet in the wind, you
see. How did we? He did it somehow. . . . By George, he had a
key! He can get in again.
ARETHUSA. Again? that man!
KIT. Ay, can he! Again! When he likes!
ARETHUSA. Kit, I am afraid. O Kit, he will kill my father.
KIT. Afraid. I'm glad of that. Now, you'll see I'm worth my
salt at something. Ten to one he's back to Mrs. Drake's. I'll
after, and lay him aboard.
ARETHUSA. O Kit, he is too strong for you.
KIT. Arethusa, that's below the belt! Never you fear; I'll give
a good account of him.
ARETHUSA (TAKING CUTLASS FROM THE WALL). You'll be none the
worse for this, dear.
KIT. That's so (MAKING CUTS). All the same, I'm half ashamed to
draw on a blind man; it's too much odds. (HE LEAPS SUDDENLY
AGAINST THE TABLE.) Ah!
ARETHUSA. Kit! Are you ill?
KIT. My head's like a humming top; it serves me right for
ARETHUSA. O, and the blind man! (SHE RUNS, L., TO THE CORNER
CUPBOARD, BRINGS A BOTTLE AND GLASS, AND FILLS AND OFFERS GLASS.)
Here, lad, drink that.
KIT. To you! That's better. (BOTTLE AND GLASS REMAIN ON
ARETHUSA. Suppose you miss him?
KIT. Miss him! The road is straight; and I can hear the tap-
tapping of that stick a mile away.
ARETHUSA (LISTENING). St! my father stirring in his room!
KIT. Let me get clear; tell him why when I'm gone. The door - ?
KIT. The window!
ARETHUSA. Quick, quick! (SHE UNFASTENS R. WINDOW, BY WHICH KIT
ARETHUSA, GAUNT ENTERING L.
ARETHUSA. Father, Kit is gone . . . . He is asleep.
AUNT. Waiting, waiting and wearying. The years, they go so
heavily, my Hester still waiting! (HE GOES R. TO CHEST, WHICH HE
OPENS.) That is your chain; it's of Guinea gold; I brought it
you from Guinea. (TAKING OUT CHAIN.) You liked it once; it
pleased you long ago; O, why not now - why will you not be happy
now? . . . I swear this is my last voyage; see, I lay my hand
upon the Holy Book and swear it. One more venture - for the
child's sake, Hester; you don't think upon your little maid.
ARETHUSA. Ah, for my sake, it was for my sake!
GAUNT. Ten days out from Lagos. That's a strange sunset, Mr.
Yeo. All hands shorten sail! Lay aloft there, look smart! . .
. What's that? Only the negroes in the hold . . . . . . . Mr.
Yeo, she can't live long at this; I have a wife and child in
Barnstaple. . . . Christ, what a sea! Hold on, for God's sake -
hold on fore and aft! Great God! (AS THOUGHT THE SEA WERE MAKING
A BREACH OVER THE SHIP AT THE MOMENT).
GAUNT. They seem quieter down below there . . . No water - no
light - no air - seven days battened down, and the seas mountain
high, and the ship labouring hell-deep! Two hundred and five,
two hundred and five, two hundred and five - all to eternal
ARETHUSA. O pity him, pity him! Let him sleep, let him forget!
Let her prayers avail in heaven, and let him rest!
GAUNT. Hester, no, don't smile at me. Rather tears! I have
seen you weep - often, often; two hundred and five times. Two
hundred and five! (WITH RING. Hester, here is your ring (HE
TRIES TO PUT THE RING ON HIS FINGER). How comes it in my hand?
Not fallen off again? O no, impossible! it was made smaller,
dear, it can't have fallen off! Ah, you waste away. You must
live, you must, for the dear child's sake, for mine, Hester, for
mine! Ah, the child. Yes. Who am I to judge? Poor Kit French!
And she, your little maid, she's like you, Hester, and she will
save him! How should a man be saved without a wife?
ARETHUSA. O father, if you could but hear me thank and bless
you! (THE TAPPING OF PEW'S STICK IS HEARD APPROACHING. GAUNT
PASSES L. FRONT AND SITS.)
GAUNT (BEGINNING TO COUNT THE TAPS). One - two - two hundred and
ARETHUSA (LISTENING). God help me, the blind man! (SHE RUNS TO
DOOR, C.; THE KEY IS PUT INTO THE LOCK FROM WITHOUT, AND THE DOOR
ARETHUSA (AT BACK OF STAGE BY THE DOOR); GAUNT (FRONT L.); TO
THESE, PEW, C.
PEW (SOTTO VOCE). All snug. (COMING DOWN.) So that was you, my
young friend Christopher, as shot by me on the road; and so you
was hot foot after old Pew? Christopher, my young friend, I
reckon I'll have the bowels out of that chest, and I reckon
you'll be lagged and scragged for it. (AT THESE WORDS ARETHUSA
LOCKS THE DOOR, AND TAKES THE KEY.) What's that? All still.
There's something wrong about this room. Pew, my 'art of oak,
you're queer to-night; brace up, and carry off. Where's the
tool? (PRODUCING KNIFE.) Ah, here she is; and now for the
chest; and the gold; and rum - rum - rum. What! Open? . . .
old clothes, by God! . . . He's done me; he's been before me;
he's bolted with the swag; that's why he ran: Lord wither and
waste him forty year for it! O Christopher, if I had my fingers
on your throat! Why didn't I strangle the soul out of him? I
heard the breath squeak in his weasand; and Jack Gaunt pulled me
off. Ah, Jack, that's another I owe you. My pious friend, if I
was God Almighty for five minutes! (GAUNT RISES AND BEGINS TO
PACE THE STAGE LIKE A QUARTERDECK, L.) What's that? A man's
walk. He don't see me, thank the blessed dark! But it's time to
slip, my bo. (HE GROPES HIS WAY STEALTHILY TILL HE COMES TO
GAUNT'S TABLE, WHERE HE BURNS HIS HAND IN THE CANDLE.) A candle
- lighted - then it's bright as day! Lord God, doesn't he see
me? It's the horrors come alive. (GAUNT DRAWS NEAR AND TURNS
AWAY.) I'll go mad, mad! (HE GROPES TO THE DOOR, STOPPING AND
STARTING.) Door. (HIS VOICE RISING FOR THE FIRST TIME, SHARP
WITH TERROR.) Locked? Key gone? Trapped! Keep off - keep off
of me - keep away! (SOTTO VOCE AGAIN.) Keep your head, Lord
have mercy, keep your head. I'm wet with sweat. What devil's
den is this? I must out - out! (HE SHAKES THE DOOR VEHEMENTLY.)
No? Knife it is then - knife - knife - knife! (HE MOVES WITH
THE KNIFE RAISED TOWARDS GAUNT, INTENTLY LISTENING, AND CHANGING
HIS DIRECTION AS GAUNT CHANGES HIS POSITION ON THE STAGE.)
ARETHUSA (RUSHING TO INTERCEPT HIM). Father, father, wake!
GAUNT. Hester, Hester! (HE TURNS, IN TIME TO SEE ARETHUSA
GRAPPLE PEW IN THE CENTRE OF THE STAGE, AND PEW FORCE HER DOWN.)
ARETHUSA. Kit! Kit!
PEW (WITH THE KNIFE RAISED). Pew's way!
TO THESE, KIT
(He leaps through window, R., and cuts PEW down. At the same
moment, GAUNT, who has been staring helplessly at his daughter's
peril, fully awakes.)
GAUNT. Death and blood! (KIT, HELPING ARETHUSA, HAS LET FALL
THE CUTLASS. GAUNT PICKS IT UP AND RUNS ON PEW.) Damned
mutineer, I'll have your heart out! (HE STOPS, STANDS STARING,
DROPS CUTLASS, FALLS UPON HIS KNEES.) God forgive me! Ah, foul
sins, would you blaze forth again? Lord, close your ears!
Hester, Hester, hear me not! Shall all these years and tears be
ARETHUSA. Father, I am not hurt.
GAUNT. Ay, daughter, but my soul - my lost soul!
PEW (RISING ON HIS ELBOW). Rum? You've done me. For God's
sake, rum. (ARETHUSA POURS OUT A GLASS, WHICH KIT GIVES TO HIM.)
Rum? This ain't rum; it's fire! (WITH GREAT EXCITEMENT.)
What's this? I don't like rum? (FEEBLY.) Ay, then, I'm a dead
man, and give me water.
GAUNT. Now even his sins desert him.
PEW (DRINKING WATER). Jack Gaunt, you've always been my rock
ahead. It's thanks to you I've got my papers, and this time I'm
shipped for Fiddler's Green. Admiral, we ain't like to meet
again, and I'll give you a toast: Here's Fiddler's Green, and
damn all lubbers! (SEIZING GAUNT'S ARM.) I say - fair dealings,
Jack! - none of that heaven business: Fiddler's Green's my port,
now, ain't it?
GAUNT. David, you've hove short up, and God forbid that I
deceive you. Pray, man, pray; for in the place to which you are
bound there is no mercy and no hope.
PEW. Ay, my lass, you're black, but your blood's red, and I'm
all a-muck with it. Pass the rum, and be damned to you. (TRYING
TO SING) -
'Time for us to go,
Time for us - '
GAUNT. But for the grace of God, there lies John Gaunt!
Christopher, you have saved my child; and I, I, that was blinded
with self-righteousness, have fallen. Take her, Christopher; but
O, walk humbly!
Play: MACAIRE - A MELODRAMATIC FARCE IN THREE ACTS
DUMONT, Landlord of the AUBERGE DES ADRETS.
CHARLES, a Gendarme, Dumont's supposed son.
THE MARQUIS, Charles's Father.
THE BRIGADIER of Gendarmerie.
ERNESTINE, Goriot's Daughter.
MAIDS, PEASANTS (MALE AND FEMALE), GENDARMES.
The Scene is laid in the Courtyard of the AUBERGE DES ADRETS, on
the frontier of France and Savoy. The time 1800. The action
occupies an interval of from twelve to fourteen hours: from four
in the afternoon till about five in the morning.
NOTE. - THE TIME BETWEEN THE ACTS SHOULD BE AS BRIEF AS POSSIBLE,
AND THE PIECE PLAYED, WHERE IT IS MERELY COMIC, IN A VEIN OF
The Stage represents the courtyard of the Auberge des Adrets. It
is surrounded by the buildings of the inn, with a gallery on the
first story, approached, C., by a straight flight of stairs. L.
C., the entrance doorway. A little in front of this, a small
grated office, containing business table, brass-bound cabinet,
and portable cash-box. In front, R. and L., tables and benches;
one,L., partially laid for a considerable party.
ALINE and MAIDS; to whom FIDDLERS; afterwards DUMONT and CHARLES.
As the curtain rises, the sound of the violins is heard
approaching. ALINE and the inn servants, who are discovered
laying the table, dance up to door L. C., to meet the FIDDLERS,
who enter likewise dancing to their own music. Air: 'Haste to
the Wedding.' The FIDDLERS exeunt playing into house, R. U. E.
ALINE and MAIDS dance back to table, which they proceed to
ALINE. Well, give me fiddles: fiddles and a wedding feast. It
tickles your heart till your heels make a runaway match of it. I
don't mind extra work, I don't, so long as there's fun about it.
Hand me up that pile of plates. The quinces there, before the
bride. Stick a pink in the Notary's glass: that's the girl he's
DUMONT (ENTERING; WITH CHARLES). Good girls, good girls!
Charles, in ten minutes from now what happy faces will smile
around that board!
CHARLES. Sir, my good fortune is complete; and most of all in
this, that my happiness has made my father happy.
DUMONT. Your father? Ah, well, upon that point we shall have
more to say.
CHARLES. What more remains that has not been said already? For
surely, sir, there are few sons more fortunate in their father:
and, since you approve of this marriage, may I not conceive you
to be in that sense fortunate in your son?
DUMONT. Dear boy, there is always a variety of considerations.
But the moment is ill chosen for dispute; to-night, at least, let
our felicity be unalloyed. (LOOKING OFF L. C.) Our guests
arrive: here is our good Curate, and here our cheerful Notary.
CHARLES. His old infirmity, I fear.
DUMONT. But Charles - dear boy! - at your wedding feast! I
should have taken it unneighbourly had he come strictly sober.
To these, by the door L. C., the CURATE and the NOTARY, arm in
arm; the latter owl-like and titubant.
CURATE. Peace be on this house!
NOTARY (SINGING). 'Prove an excuse for the glass.'
DUMONT. Welcome, excellent neighbours! The Church and the Law.
CURATE. And you, Charles, let me hope your feelings are in
solemn congruence with this momentous step.
NOTARY (DIGGING CHARLES IN THE RIBS). Married? Lovely bride?
Prove an excuse!
DUMONT (TO CURATE). I fear our friend? perhaps? as usual? eh?
CURATE. Possibly: I had not yet observed it.
DUMONT. Well, well, his heart is good.
CURATE. He doubtless meant it kindly.
NOTARY. Where's Aline?
ALINE. Coming, sir! (NOTARY MAKES FOR HER.)
CURATE (CAPTURING HIM). You will infallibly expose yourself to
misconstruction. (TO CHARLES.) Where is your commanding
CHARLES. Why, sir, we have quite an alert. Information has been
received from Lyons that the notorious malefactor, Robert
Macaire, has broken prison, and the Brigadier is now scouring the
country in his pursuit. I myself am instructed to watch the
visitors to our house.
DUMONT. That will do, Charles: you may go. (EXIT CHARLES.)
You have considered the case I laid before you?
NOTARY. Considered a case?
DUMONT. Yes, yes. Charles, you know, Charles. Can he marry?
under these untoward and peculiar circumstances, can he marry?
NOTARY. Now, lemme tell you: marriage is a contract to which
there are two constracting parties. That being clear, I am
prepared to argue categorically that your son Charles - who, it
appears, is not your son Charles - I am prepared to argue that
one party to a contract being null and void, the other party to a
contract cannot by law oblige or constrain the first party to
constract or bind himself to any contract, except the other party
be able to see his way clearly to constract himself with him. I
donno if I make myself clear?
NOTARY. Now, lemme tell you: by applying justice of peace might
possibly afford relief.
DUMONT. But how?
NOTARY. Ay, there's the rub.
DUMONT. But what am I to do? He's not my son, I tell you:
Charles is not my son.
NOTARY. I know.
DUMONT. Perhaps a glass of wine would clear him?
NOTARY. That's what I want. (THEY GO OUT, L. U. E.)
ALINE. And now, if you've done deranging my table, to the cellar
for the wine, the whole pack of you. (MANET SOLA, CONSIDERING
TABLE.) There: it's like a garden. If I had as sweet a table
for my wedding, I would marry the Notary.
The Stage remains vacant. Enter, by door L. C., MACAIRE,
followed by BERTRAND with bundle; in the traditional costume.
MACAIRE. Good! No police.
BERTRAND (LOOKING OFF, L. C.). Sold again!
MACAIRE. This is a favoured spot, Bertrand: ten minutes from
the frontier: ten minutes from escape. Blessings on that
frontier line! The criminal hops across, and lo! the reputable
man. (READING) 'AUBERGE DES ADRETS, by John Paul Dumont.' A
table set for company; this is fate: Bertrand, are we the first
arrivals? An office; a cabinet; a cash-box - aha! and a
cash-box, golden within. A money-box is like a Quaker beauty:
demure without, but what a figure of a woman! Outside gallery:
an architectural feature I approve; I count it a convenience both
for love and war: the troubadour - twang-twang; the craftsmen -
(MAKES AS IF TURNING KEY.) The kitchen window: humming with
cookery; truffles, before Jove! I was born for truffles. Cock
your hat: meat, wine, rest, and occupation; men to gull, women
to fool, and still the door open, the great unbolted door of the
BERTRAND. Macaire, I'm hungry.
MACAIRE. Bertrand, excuse me, you are a sensualist. I should
have left you in the stone-yard at Lyons, and written no
passport but my own. Your soul is incorporate with your
stomach. Am I not hungry, too? My body, thanks to immortal
Jupiter, is but the boy that holds the kite-string; my
aspirations and designs swim like the kite sky-high, and overlook
BERTRAND. If I could get a full meal and a pound in my pocket I
would hold my tongue.
MACAIRE. Dreams, dreams! We are what we are; and what are we?
Who are you? who cares? Who am I? myself. What do we come from?
an accident. What's a mother? an old woman. A father? the
gentleman who beats her. What is crime? discovery. Virtue?
opportunity. Politics? a pretext. Affection? an affectation.
Morality? an affair of latitude. Punishment? this side the
frontier. Reward? the other. Property? plunder. Business?
other people's money - not mine, by God! and the end of life to
live till we are hanged.
BERTRAND. Macaire, I came into this place with my tail between
my legs already, and hungry besides; and then you get to
flourishing, and it depresses me worse than the chaplain in the
MACAIRE. What is a chaplain? A man they pay to say what you
don't want to hear.
BERTRAND. And who are you after all? and what right have you to
talk like that? By what I can hear, you've been the best part of
your life in quod; and as for me, since I've followed you, what
sort of luck have I had? Sold again! A boose, a blue fright,
two years' hard, and the police hot-foot after us even now.
MACAIRE. What is life? A boose and the police.
BERTRAND. Of course, I know you're clever; I admire you down to
the ground, and I'll starve without you. But I can't stand it,
and I'm off. Good-bye: good luck to you, old man! and if you
want the bundle -
MACAIRE. I am a gentleman of a mild disposition and, I thank my
maker, elegant manners; but rather than be betrayed by such a
thing as you are, with the courage of a hare, and the manners, by
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