A Romance of Real Life
in One Act.
Written by John Maddison Morton, Esq.
JOHN BOX, a Journeyman Printer
JAMES COX, a Journeyman Hatter
Box and Cox
SCENE I - A Room, decently furnished. At C., a bed
with curtains closed, at L. C., a door, at L, 3d E., a door, at L. S.
E., a chest of drawers, at back, R., a window, at R. 3d. E., a door, at
R. S. E. , a fireplace with mantle-piece, table and chairs, a few common
ornaments on the chimney-piece. COX, dressed with the exception of his
coat, is looking at himself in a small looking-glass, which is in his
Cox. I've half a mind to register an oath that I'll
never have my hair cut again!
(His hair is very
short.) I look as if I had
just been cropped for the militia! And I was particularly emphatic
in my instructions to the hair-dresser, only to cut the ends off.
He must have thought I meant the other ends! Never mind - I shan't
meet anybody to care about so early. Eight o'clock, I declare!
I haven't a moment to lose. Fate has placed me with the most
punctual, particular and peremptory of hatters, and I must fulfil my
at L. D.) Open locks,
MRS. BOUNCER, L.
Mrs B. Good morning, Mr. Cox. I hope you
slept comfortably, Mr. Cox?
Cox. I can't say I did, Mrs. B. I should
feel obliged to you, if you could accommodate me with a more protuberant
bolster, Mrs. B. The one I have seems to me to have about a
handful and a half of feathers at each end, and nothing whatever in the
Mrs B. Anything to accommodate you, Mr. Cox.
Cox. Thank you. Then, perhaps, you'll be
good enough to hold this glass, while I finish my toilet.
Mrs B. Certainly.
glass before COX,
who ties his cravat.) Why,
I do declare, you've had your hair cut.
Cox. Cut? It strikes me I've had it mowed!
It's very kind of you to mention it, but I'm sufficiently conscious of
the absurdity of my personal appearance already.
(Puts his coat on.)
Now for my hat.
(Puts on his
hat, which comes over his eyes.)
That's the effect of having one's hair cut.
This hat fitted me quite tight before. Luckily I've got two or
(Goes in at L., and
returns with three hats of different shapes, and puts them on, one after
the other - all of which are far too big for him.)
This is pleasant! Never mind.
This one appears to me to wobble about rather less than the others -
hat.) - and now I'm off!
By the bye, Mrs Bouncer, I wish to call your attention a fact that has
been evident to me for some time past - and that is, that my coals go
remarkably fast -
Mrs B. Lor, Mr. Cox!
Cox. It is not the case only with the coals, Mrs.
Bouncer, but I've lately observed a gradual and steady increase of
evaporation among my candles, wood, sugar and lucifer matches.
Mrs B. Lor, Mr. Cox! you surely don't suspect me!
Cox. I don't say I do, Mrs. B.; only I wish you
distinctly to understand, that I don't believe it's the cat.
Mrs B. Is there anything else you've got to
grumble about, sir?
Cox. Grumble! Mrs. Bouncer, do you possess
such a thing as a dictionary?
Mrs B. No, sir.
Cox. Then I'll lend you one - and if you turn to
the letter G. you'll find "Grumble, verb neuter - to complain without a
cause." Now that's not my case, Mrs. B., and now that we are upon
the subject. I wish to know how it is that I frequently find my
apartment full of smoke?
Mrs B. Why - I suppose the chimney -
Cox. The chimney doesn't smoke tobacco. I'm
speaking of tobacco smoke, Mrs. B. I hope, Mrs. Bouncer,
not guilty of cheroots or Cubas?
Mrs B. Not I, indeed, Mr. Cox.
Cox. Nor partial to a pipe?
Mrs B. No, Sir.
Cox. Then, how is that -
Mrs B. Why - I suppose - yes - that must be it -
Cox. At present I am entirely of your opinion -
because I haven't the most distant particle of an idea what you mean.
Mrs B. Why the gentleman who has got the attics,
is hardly ever without a pipe in his mouth - and there he sits, with his
feet upon the mantle-piece -
Cox. The mantle-piece! That strikes me as
being a considerable stretch, either of your imagination, Mrs. B., or
the gentleman's legs. I presume you mean the fender or the hob.
Mrs B. Sometimes one, sometimes t'other.
Well , there he sits for hours, and puffs away into the fire-place.
Cox. Ah, then you mean to say, that this
gentleman's smoke, instead of emulating the example of all other sorts
of smoke, and going up
the chimney, thinks proper to affect
a singularity by taking the contrary direction?
Mrs B. Why -
Cox. Then, I suppose, the gentleman you are
speaking of, is the same individual that I invariably meet coming up the
stairs when I am going down, and going down the stairs when I am coming
Mrs B. Why - yes - I -
Cox. From the appearance of his outward man, I
should unhesitatingly set him down as a gentleman connected with the
Mrs B. Yes, sir - and a very respectable young
gentleman he is.
Cox. Well, good morning, Mrs. Bouncer!
Mrs B. You'll be back at your usual time, I
Cox. Yes - nine o'clock. You needn't light
my fire in future, Mrs. B - I'll do it myself. Don't forget the
stops.) A halfpenny worth
of milk, Mrs. Bouncer - and be good enough to let it stand - I wish the
cream to accumulate.
Exit at L.C.
Mrs B. He's gone at last! I declare I was all in a
tremble for fear Mr. Box would come in before Mr. Cox went out.
Luckily, they've never met yet - and what's more, they're not likely to
do so; for Mr. Box is had at work at a newspaper office all night, and
doesn't come home till the morning, and Mr. Cox is busy making hats all
day long, and doesn't come home till night; so that I'm getting double
rent for my room, and neither of my lodgers is any the wiser for it.
It was a capital idea of mine - that it was! But I haven't an
instant to lose. First of all, let me put Mr. Cox's things out of
Mr. Box's way.
(She takes the three hats, COX's dressing gown and slippers,
opens the door at L. and puts them in, then shuts the door and locks
it.) Now, then, to put the
key where Mr. Cox always finds it.
[Puts the key on
the ledge of the door, L..] I
really must beg Mr. Box not to smoke so much. I was so dreadfully
puzzled to know what to say when Mr. Cox spoke about it. Now,
then, to make the bed - and don't let me forget that what's the head of
the bed for Mr. Cox becomes the foot of the bed for Mr. Box - people's
tastes do differ so.
(Goes behind the
curtains of the bed, and seems to be making it - then appears with a
very thin bolster in her hand.) The
idea of Mr. Cox presuming to complain of such a bolster as this!
disappears again, behind curtains.)
Pooh - pooh! Why don't
you keep your own side of the staircase, sir?
(Enters at back,
dressed as a Printer. Puts his head out at door again, shouting.)
It was as much your fault as
mine , sir! I say, sir - it was as much your fault as mine, sir!
behind the curtains of the bed.)
Lor, Mr. Box! what is the matter?
Box. Mind your own business, Bouncer!
Mrs B. Dear, dear, Mr. Box! what a temper you are
in to be sure! I declare you're quite pale in the face!
Box. What colour would you have a man to be, who
has been setting up long leaders for a daily paper all night?
Mrs B. But, then, you've all the day to yourself.
significantly at MRS. BOUNCER..)
So it seems! Far be it from me,
Bouncer, to hurry your movements, but I think it right to acquaint you
with my immediate intention of divesting myself of my garments, and
going to bed.
Mrs B. Oh, Mr. Box.
Box. Stop! Can you inform me who the
individual is that I invariably encounter going down stairs when I'm
coming up, and coming up stairs when I'm going down?
Oh - yes - the gentleman in the
Box. Oh! There's nothing particularly
remarkable about him, except his hats. I meet him in all sorts of
hats - white hats and black hats - hats with broad brims, and hats with
narrow brims, - hats with naps, and hats without naps - in short, I have
come to the conclusion that he must be individually and professionally
associated with the hatting interest.
Mrs B. Yes, sir. And by the bye, Mr. Box, he
begged me to request you, as a particular favour, that you would not
smoke quite so much.
Box. Does he? Then you may tell the gentle
hatter, with my compliments, that if he objects to the effluvia of
tobacco, he had better domesticate himself in some adjoining parish.
Mrs B. Oh, Mr. Box! You surely wouldn't
deprive me of a lodger?
Box. It would come to precisely the same thing,
Bouncer, because if I detect the slightest attempt to put my pipe out, I
at once give you warning that I shall give you warning at once.
Mrs B. Well, Mr. Box - do you want anything more
Box. On the contrary - I've had quite enough of
Mrs B. Well, if ever! What next, I wonder?
Goes out at L.C.., slamming door after her.
Box. It's quite extraordinary, the trouble I
always have to get rid of that venerable female! She knows I'm up
all night, and yet she seems to set her face against my indulging in a
horizontal position by day. Now, let me see - shall I take my nap
before I swallow my breakfast, or shall I take my breakfast before I
swallow my nap - I mean, shall I swallow my nap before - no - never
mind! I've got a rasher of bacon somewhere -
(Feeling in his
pockets.) - I've the most
distinct and vivid recollection of having purchased a rasher of bacon -
Oh, here it is -
wrapped in paper, and places it on table.)
- and a penny roll. The next thing is
to light the fire. Where are my lucifers?
mantle-piece R., and taking box, opens it.)
Now, 'pon my life, this is too bad of
Bouncer - this is, by several degrees, too bad! I had a whole box
full, three days ago, and now there's only one! I'm perfectly
aware that she purloins my coals and my candles and my sugar - but I did
think - oh, yes, I did think that my lucifers would be sacred!
candlestick off the mantle-piece, R., in which there is a very small end
of candle - looks at it.)
Now I should like to ask any unprejudiced person or persons their
opinion touching this candle. In the first place, a candle is an article
that I don't require because I'm only at home in the day time - and I
bought this candle on the first of May - Chimney-sweepers' Day -
calculating that it would last me three months, and here's one week not
half over, and the candle three parts gone!
(Lights the fire -
takes down the gridiron, which is hanging over the fireplace, R.)
Mrs. Bouncer has been using my
gridiron! The last article of consumption that I cooked upon it
was a pork chop, and now it is powerfully impregnated with the odour of
(Places gridiron on
fire, and then, with fork, lays rasher of bacon on the gridiron.)
How sleepy I am, to be sure!
I'd indulge myself with a nap, if there was anybody here to superintend
the turning of my bacon.
again.) Perhaps it
will turn itself. I must lie down - so, here goes.
[Lies on the
bed, closing the curtains round him - after a short pause -
Enter COX, hurriedly, L.C..
Cox. Well, wonders will never cease!
Conscious of being eleven minutes and a half behind time, I was sneaking
into the shop, in a state of considerable excitement, when my venerable
employer, with a smile of extreme benevolence on his aged countenance,
said to me - "Cox, I shan't want you to-day - you can have a holiday." -
Thoughts of "Gravesend and back - fare, One Shilling," instantly
suggested themselves, intermingled with visions of "Greenwich for
Fourpence!" Then came the Twopenny Omnibuses, and the
Halfpenny boats - in short, I'm quite bewildered! However, I must
have my breakfast first - that'll give me time to reflect. I've bought a
mutton chop, so I shan't want any dinner.
(Puts chop on
table.) Good gracious!
I forgot the bread. Holloa! what's this? A roll, I declare!
Come that's lucky! Now, then, to light the fire. Holloa -
lucifer-box on table.) - who
presumes to touch my box of lucifers? Why, it's empty! I left one
in it - I'll take my oath I did. Hey dey! why, the fire
lighted! Where's the gridiron?
the fire, I declare! And what's that
on it? Bacon? Bacon it is! Well, now, 'pon my life,
there's a quiet coolness about Mrs. Bouncer's proceedings that's almost
amusing. She takes my last lucifer - my coals, and my gridiron to
cook her breakfast by! No, no - I can't stand this! Come out
(Pokes fork into bacon and puts it on a plate on the table, then
places his chop on the gridiron, which he puts on the fire.)
Now, then, for my breakfast things.
hung up, L. opens door L. and goes out, slamming the door after him,
with a loud noise.)
his head from behind the curtains.)
Come in! if it's you Mrs. Bouncer - you
needn't be afraid. I wonder how long I've been asleep?
gracious - my bacon!
(Leaps off bed and
runs to fireplace.) Holloa!
what's this? A chop! Whose chop? Mrs. Bouncer's I'll
be bound - she thought to cook her breakfast while I was asleep - with
coals, too - and my gridiron! Ha, ha!
But where's my bacon?
(Seeing it on
table.) Here it is.
Well, 'pon my life, Bouncer's going it! And shall I curb my
indignation? Shall I falter in my vengeance? No!
fork into the chop, opens window, throws chop out - shuts window again.)
So much for Bouncer's breakfast,
and now for my own!
fork he puts the bacon on the gridiron again.)
I may as well lay my breakfast things. -
mantle piece at R., takes key out of one of the ornaments, opens door at
R. and exit, slamming door after him.)
(Putting his head
in quickly at L.) Come in
- come in!
(Opens door L. C.
Enters with a small tray on which are tea things, &c., which he places
on drawers, L. and suddenly recollects.)
Oh, goodness! my chop!
fireplace.) Holloa -
what's? The bacon again! Oh - pooh! Zounds - confound it -
dash it - damn it - I can't stand this!
(Pokes fork into
bacon, opens window, and flings it out, shuts window again, returns to
drawers for tea things, and encounters BOX coming from his cupboard with
his tea things - they walk down C. of stage together.)
Who are you, sir?
Box. If you come to that - who are
Cox. What do you want here, sir?
Box. If you come to that - what do
It's the printer!
things on the drawers.
It's the hatter!
things on table.
Cox. Go to your attic, sir -
Cox. Printer, I shall do you a frightful injury,
if you don't instantly leave my apartment.
apartment? You mean
apartment, you contemptible hatter, you.
Your apartment? Ha! ha! -
come, I like that! Look here, sir -
(Produces a paper
out of his pocket.) Mrs.
Bouncer's receipt for the last week's rent, sir -
(Produces a paper,
and holds it close to COX's face.)
Both. Mrs. Bouncer!
[Each runs to
the door, L. C., calling.
MRS. BOUNCER runs in at door L. C.
Mrs B. What is the matter?
(COX and BOX
seize MRS. BOUNCER by the arm, and drag her forward.)
Box. Instantly remove that hatter!
Cox. Immediately turn out that printer!
Mrs B. Well - but, gentlemen -
[Pulling her round
(Pulling her round
to him.) Whose room is
Cox. Yes, woman - whose room is this?
Box. Doesn't it belong to me?
Mrs B. No!
Cox. There! You hear, sir - it belongs to
Mrs B. No - it belongs to both of you!
Both. Both of us?
Mrs B. Oh, dear gentlemen, don't be angry - but
you see, this gentleman -
(Pointing to BOX.)
- only being at home in the day
time, and that gentleman -
(Pointing to COX.)
- at night, I thought I might
venture, until my little back second floor room was ready -
When will your little back
second floor room be ready?
Mrs B. Why, to-morrow -
Cox. I'll take it!
Box. So will I!
Mrs B. Excuse me - but if you both take it, you
may just as well stop where you are.
Cox. I spoke first, sir-
Box. With all my heart, sir. The little back
second floor room is yours, sir - now, go - Cox. Go? Pooh -
Mrs B. Now, don't quarrel, gentlemen. You
see, there used to be a partition here - Both. Then, put it up!
Mrs B. Nay, I'll see if I can't get the other room
ready this very day. Now
do keep your tempers.
Cox. What a disgusting position!
rapidly round stage.
(Sitting down on
chair, at one side of table, and following COX's movements.)
Will you allow me to observe, if you
have not had any exercise to-day, you'd better go out and take it.
Cox. I shall do nothing of the sort, sir.
[Seating himself at
the table opposite BOX.
Box. Very well, sir!
Cox. Very well, sir! However, don't let me
from going out.
Box. Don't flatter yourself, sir.
(COX is about
to break a piece of the roll off.)
Holloa! that's my roll, sir -
(Snatches it away -
puts a pipe in his mouth, lights it with a piece of tinder - and puffs
smoke across to COX.)
Cox. Holloa! What are you about, sir?
Box. What am I about? I'm about to smoke.
[Goes and opens
window at BOX's back.
round.) Put down that window,
Cox. Then put your pipe out, sir!
[Puts pipe on
window, and re-seats himself.
Box. I shall retire to my pillow.
takes off his jacket, then goes towards the bed, and sits down upon it,
goes to bed, and sits down R. of BOX.)
I beg your pardon, sir - I cannot
allow anyone to rumple my bed.
Your bed? Hark ye, sir - can you
Cox. No, sir.
Box. No? Then come on -
Cox. Sit down, sir - or I'll instantly vociferate
himself. COX does the same.) I
say, sir -
Cox. Well, sir?
Box. Although we are doomed to share the same room
for a few hours longer, I don't see any necessity for our cutting each
other's throats, sir.
Cox. Not at all. It's an operation that I
should decidedly object to.
Box. And, after all, I've no violent animosity to
Cox. Nor have I any rooted antipathy to you, sir.
Box. Besides, it was all Mrs. Bouncer's fault,
Cox. Entirely, sir.
Box. Very well, sir!
Cox. Very well, sir!
Box. Take a bit of roll, sir?
Cox. Thank ye, sir.
bit off. Pause.)
Box. Do you sing, sir?
Cox. I sometimes join in a chorus.
Box. Then give us a chorus.
Have you seen the Bosjemans,
Cox. No, sir - my wife wouldn't let me.
Cox. That is - my
Box. Well, that's the same thing! I
(With a deep sigh.)
about to get up.) You
needn't disturb yourself, sir. She won't come here.
Box. Oh, I understand. You've got a snug
little establishment of your own
- on the sly - cunning dog -
up.) No such thing, sir -
I repeat, sir - no such thing, sir, but my wife - I mean, my
wife - happens to be the proprietor of a
considerable number of bathing machines -
Cox. At a favourite watering-place. How
curious you are!
Box. Not at all. Well?
Cox. Consequently, in the bathing season - which
luckily is rather a long one - we see but little of each other; but as
that is now over, I am daily indulging in the expectation of being
blessed with the sight of my
Box. Me? Why - not exactly!
Cox. Ah - a happy bachelor!
Box. Why - not precisely!
Cox. Oh! a widower?
Box. No - not absolutely!
Cox. You'll excuse me, sir - but, at present I
don't exactly understand how you can help being one of the three.
Box. Not help it?
Cox. No, sir - not you, nor any other man alive!
Box. Ah that may be - but I'm not alive!
back his chair.) You'll
excuse me, sir - but I don't like joking upon such subjects.
Box. But I'm perfectly serious, sir. I've
been defunct for the last three years!
Will you be quiet, sir?
Box. If you won't believe me, I'll refer you to a
very large, numerous, and respectable circle of disconsolate friends.
Cox. My dear sir - my
dear sir - if there does exist any
ingenious contrivance whereby a man on the eve of committing matrimony
can leave this world, and yet stop in it, I shouldn't be sorry to know
Box. Oh! then I presume I'm not to set you down as
being frantically attached to your intended?
Cox. Why, not exactly; and yet, at present, I'm
only aware of one obstacle to doting upon her, and that is, that I can't
Box. Then there's nothing more easy. Do as I
I will! What was it?
Box. Drown yourself!
Will you be quiet, sir?
Box. Listen to me. Three years ago it was my
misfortune to captivate a affections of the still blooming, though
somewhat middle-aged widow, at Ramsgate.
Singular enough! Just my
case three months ago at Margate.
Box. Well, sir, to escape her importunities, I
came to the determination of enlisting in the Blues, or Life Guards.
So did I. How very odd!
Box. But they wouldn't have me - they actually had
the effrontery to say that I was too short -
And I wasn't tall enough!
Box. So I was obliged to content myself with a
marching regiment - I enlisted!
So did I. Singular
Box. I'd no sooner
done so, than I was sorry for it.
So was I.
Box. My infatuated widow offered to purchase my
discharge, on condition that I'd lead her to the alter.
Just my case!
Box. I hesitated - at last I consented.
I consented at once!
Box. Well, sir - the day fixed for the happy
ceremony at length drew near - in fact, too near to be pleasant - so I
suddenly discovered that I wasn't worthy to possess her, and I told her
so - when, instead of being flattered by the compliment, she flew upon
me like a tiger of the female gender - I rejoined - when suddenly
something whizzed past me, within an inch of my ear, and shivered into a
thousand fragments against the mantle-piece - it was the slop-basin.
I retaliated with a tea cup - we parted, and the next morning I was
served with a notice of action for breach of promise.
Cox. Well, sir?
Box. Well, sir - ruin stared me in the face - the
action proceeded against me with gigantic strides - I took a desperate
resolution - I left my home early one morning, with one suit of clothes
on my back, and another tied up in a bundle, under my arm - I arrived on
the cliffs - opened my bundle - deposited the suit of clothes on the
very verge of the precipice - took one look into the yawning gulph
beneath me, and walked off in the opposite direction.
Cox. Dear me! I think I begin to have some
slight perception of your meaning. Ingenious creature! You
disappeared - the suit of clothes was found -
Box. Exactly - and in one of the pockets of the
coat, or the waistcoat, or the pantaloons - I forget which - there was
also found a piece of paper, with these affecting farewell words: "This
is thy work, oh, Penelope Ann!"
Cox. Penelope Ann!
takes BOX by the arm, and leads him slowly to front of stage.)
Box. Penelope Ann!
Cox. Originally widow of William Wiggins?
Box. Widow of William Wiggins!
Cox. Proprietor of bathing machines?
Box. Proprietor of bathing machines!
Cox. At Margate?
Box. And Ramsgate!
Cox. It must be she! And you, sir - you are
Box - the lamented, long lost Box!
Box. I am!
Cox. And I was about to marry the interesting
creature you so cruelly deceived.
Box. Ha! then you are Cox?
Cox. I am!
Box. I heard of it. I congratulate you - I
give you joy! And now, I think I'll go and take a stroll.
Cox. No, you don't!
him.) I'll not lose sight
of you till I've restored you to the arms of your intended.
My intended? You mean
Cox. No, sir - yours!
Box. How can she be
intended, now that I'm drowned?
Cox. You're no such thing, sir! and I prefer
presenting you to Penelope Ann.
Box. I've no wish to be introduced to your
intended? How can that be,
sir? You proposed to her first!
Box. What of that, sir? I came to an
untimely end, and you popped the question afterwards.
Cox. Very well, sir!
Box. Very well, sir!
Cox. You are much more worthy of her than I am,
sir. Permit me, then, to follow the generous impulse of my nature
- I give her up to you.
Box. Benevolent being! I wouldn't rob you
for the world!
Box. Unhand me, hatter! or I shall cast off the
lamb and assume the lion!
fingers close to BOXĺs face.)
Box. An insult! to my very face - under my very
it.) You know the
consequences, sir - instant satisfaction, sir!
Cox. With all my heart, sir!
(They go to
the fire-place, R., and begin ringing bells violently, and pull down
Both. Mrs. Bouncer! Mrs. Bouncer!
MRS. BOUNCER runs in, L. C.
Mrs B. What is it, gentlemen?
Box. Pistols for two!
Mrs B. Yes, sir.
Cox. Stop! You don't mean to say,
thoughtless and imprudent woman, that you keep loaded fire-arms in the
Mrs B. Oh, no - they're not loaded
Cox. Then produce the murderous weapons instantly!
Exit MRS. BOUNCER, L. C.
Box. I say, sir!
Cox. Well, sir?
Box. What's your opinion of duelling, sir?
Cox. I think it's a barbarous practice, sir.
Box. So do I, sir. To be sure, I don't so
much object to it when the pistols are not loaded.
Cox. No: I dare say that
make a difference.
Box. And yet, sir - on the other hand - doesn't it
strike you as rather a waste of time, for two people to keep firing
pistols at another, with nothing in 'em?
Cox. No, sir - no more than any other harmless
Box. Hark ye! Why do you object to marry
Cox. Because, as I've observed already, I can't
abide her. You'll be happy with her.
Box. Happy? Me! With the consciousness
that I have deprived you
of such a treasure? No, no,
Cox. Don't think of me, Box - I shall be
sufficiently rewarded by the knowledge of my Box's happiness.
Box. Don't be absurd, sir!
Cox. Then don't you be ridiculous, sir!
Box. I won't have her!
Cox. I won't have her!
Box. I have it! Suppose we draw lots for the
lady - eh, Mr. Cox?
Cox. That's fair enough Mr. Box.
Box. Or, what say you to dice?
Cox. With all my heart! Dice, by all means.
That's lucky! Mrs. Bouncer's nephew
left a pair here yesterday. He sometimes persuades me to have a
throw for a trifle, and as he always throws sixes, I suspect they are
good ones. [Goes
to the cupboard at R., and brings out the dice-box.
I've no objection at all to dice. I
lost one pound, seventeen and sixpence, at last Barnet Races, to a very
gentlemanly looking man, who had a most peculiar knack of throwing
sixes; I suspected they were loaded, so I gave him another halfcrown,
and he gave me the dice.
Takes dice out of his pocket - uses lucifer box as
substitute for dice-box, which is on table.
Box. Now then, sir!
Cox. I'm ready, sir!
themselves at opposite sides of the table.)
Will you lead off, sir?
Box. As you please, sir. The lowest throw,
of course, wins Penelope Ann?
Cox. Of course, sir.
Box. Very well, sir!
Cox. Very well, sir!
dice and throwing.) Sixes!
Cox. That's not a bad throw of yours, sir.
dice - throws.) Sixes!
Box. That's a pretty good one of yours, sir.
Box. Those are not bad dice of yours, sir.
Cox. Yours seem pretty good ones, sir.
Box. Suppose we change?
Cox. Very well, sir.
the dice.) Pooh!
It's perfectly absurd, your going on throwing sixes in this sort of way,
Cox. I shall go on till my luck changes, sir!
Box. Let's try something else. I have it!
Suppose we toss for Penelope Ann?
Cox. The very thing I was going to propose!
They each turn aside and take out a handful of money.
examining money.) Where's
my tossing shilling? Here it is!
money.) Where's my lucky
sixpence? I've got it!
Box. Now then, sir - heads win?
Cox. Or tails lose - whichever you prefer.
Box. It's the same to me, sir.
Cox. Very well, sir. Heads, I win, - tails,
Box. Yes -
no. Heads win, sir.
Cox. Very well - go on!
standing opposite each other.
Box. Ain't you rather tired of turning up heads,
Cox. Couldn't you vary the monotony of our
proceedings by an occasional tail, sir?
Box. Heads? Stop, sir! Will you permit
me - (Taking
COX's sixpence.) Holloa!
your sixpence has got no tail, sir!
BOX's shilling.) And your
shilling has got two heads, sir!
about to rush upon each other, then retreat to some distance, and
commence sparring, and striking fiercely at one another.
Enter MRS. BOUNCER L. H. C.
Box. & Cox. Is the little back second floor room
Mrs B. Not quite, gentlemen. I can't find
the pistols, but I have bought you a letter - It came by the General
Post yesterday. I'm sure I don't know how I forgot it, for I put
it carefully in my pocket.
Cox. And you've kept it carefully in your pocket
Mrs B. Yes, sir. I hope you'll forgive me,
(Going.) By the bye, I
paid twopence for it.
Cox. Did you? Then I
BOUNCER. Looking at letter.)
"Margate." The post-mark decidedly says "Margate."
Box. Oh, doubtless a tender epistle from Penelope
Cox. Then read it, sir.
letter to BOX.)
Box. Me, sir?
Cox. Of course. You don't suppose I'm going
to read a letter from your intended?
My intended! Pooh!
It's addressed to you - C.O.X.
Cox. Do you think that's a C.? It looks like
Box. Nonsense! Fracture the seal!
- starts.) Goodness
(Snatches letter -
letter again.) "Margate -
May the 4th. Sir, - I hasten to convey to you the intelligence of a
melancholy accident, which has bereft you of your intended wife.
He means your
yours! However, it's
perfectly immaterial - but she unquestionably was yours.
Cox. How can that be? You proposed to her
Box. Yes, but then you - now don't let us begin
again - Go on.
letter.) "Poor Mrs.
Wiggins went out for a short excursion in a sailing boat - a sudden and
violent squall soon after took place, which it is supposed, upset her,
as she was found, two days afterwards, keel upwards."
Box. Poor woman!
Cox. The boat, sir!
"As her man of business, I
immediately proceeded to examine her papers, amongst which I soon
discovered her will; the following extract from which will, I have no
doubt, be satisfactory to you. 'I hereby bequeath my entire property to
my intended husband.'" Excellent, but unhappy creature!
Box. Generous, ill-fated being!
Cox. And to think that I tossed up for such a
Box. When I remember that I staked such a treasure
on the hazard of a die!
Cox. I'm sure, Mr. Box, I can't sufficiently thank
you for your sympathy.
Box. And I'm sure, Mr. Cox, you couldn't feel
more, if she had been your own intended!
my own intended!
Your intended? Come, I
like that! Didn't you very properly observe just now, sir, that I
proposed to her first?
Cox. To which you very sensibly replied that you'd
come to an untimely end.
Box. I deny it!
Cox. I say you have!
Box. The fortune's mine!
Box. I'll have it!
Cox. So will I!
Box. I'll go to law!
Cox. So will I!
Box. Stop - a thought strikes me. Instead of going
to law about the property, suppose we divide it?
Box. Equally. I'll take two thirds.
Cox. That's fair enough - and I'll take three
Box. That won't do. Half and half!
Cox. Agreed! There's my hand upon it -
Box. And mine.
shake hands - a Postman's knock heard at street door.)
Cox. Holloa! Postman again!
Box. Postman yesterday - postman today.
Enter MRS. BOUNCER.
Mrs B. Another letter, Mr. Cox - twopence more!
Cox. I forgive you again!
letter.) Another trifle
(Opens the letter - starts.) Goodness
(Snatching letter -
letter again - reads.) "Happy
to inform you - false alarm"-
"Sudden squall - boat upset -
Mrs. Wiggins your intended"-
Cox. "Picked up by a steamboat"-
Box. "Carried into Boulogne"-
Cox. "Returned here this morning"-
Box. "Will start by early train, to-morrow"-
Cox. "And be with you at ten o'clock, exact."
Both simultaneously pull out their watches.
Box. Cox, I congratulate you -
Cox. Box, I give you joy!
Box. I'm sorry that most important business of the
Colonial Office will prevent my witnessing the truly happy meeting
between you and your intended. Good morning!
It's obviously for me to retire
- Not for worlds would I disturb the rapturous meeting between you and
your intended. Good morning!
Box. You'll excuse me, sir - but our last
arrangement was, that she was
Cox. No, yours!
strikes - noise of an omnibus.
Box. Ha! What's that? A cab's drawn up
at the door!
(Running to the window.)
No - it's a twopenny omnibus!
(Leaning over BOX's
shoulder.) A lady's got
Box. There's no mistaking that majestic person -
it's Penelope Ann!
Cox. Your intended!
(Both run to
door, L. C., and eagerly listen.)
Box. Hark - she's coming up stairs!
Cox. Shut the door!
They slam the door, and both lean up against it with
knocking.) Mr. Cox!
I've just stepped out!
Box. So have I!
Mrs B. Mr. Cox.
the door - COX and BOX redouble their efforts to keep the door shut.)
Open the door. It's
only me - Mrs. Bouncer!
Cox. Only you?
Then where's the lady?
Mrs B. Gone!
Cox. Upon your honour?
Box. As a gentleman?
Mrs B. Yes, and she's left a note for Mr. Cox.
Cox. Give it to me!
Mrs B. Then open the door!
Cox. Put it under!
put under the door; COX picks up the letter and opens it.)
the letter, and runs forward, followed by BOX.)
"Dear Mr. Cox, pardon my candour"-
(Looking over and
reading.) "But being convinced
that our feelings, like our ages, do not reciprocate"-
Cox. "I hasten to apprise you of my immediate
Box. "With Mr. Knox."
Box. Three cheers for Knox! Ha, ha, ha!
Tosses letter in the air, and begins dancing. Cox does
head in at door.) The
little second floor back room is ready!
Cox. I don't want it!
Box. No more do I!
Cox. What shall part us?
Box. What shall tear us asunder?
embrace - BOX stops, seizes COX's hand, and looks eagerly in his face.)
You'll excuse the apparent
insanity of the remark, but the more I gaze on your features, the more
I'm convinced that you're my long lost brother.
Cox. The very
observation I was going to make to you!
Box. Ah - tell me - in mercy tell me - have you
such a thing as a strawberry mark on your left arm?
Box. Then it is he!
into each other's arms.
Cox. Of course we stop where we are!
Box. Of course!
Cox. For, between you and me, I'm rather partial
to this house.
Box. So am I - I begin to feel quite at home in
Cox. Everything so clean and comfortable -
Box. And I'm sure the mistress of it, from what I
have seen of her, is very anxious to please.
Cox. So she is - and I vote, Box, that we stick by
Box. Agreed! There's my hand upon it - join
but your's - agree the house is big enough to hold us both. Then
Cox. And Cox -
Both. Are satisfied!