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Oh! Susannah! - A Farcical Comedy in Three Acts
by Mark Ambient
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Pearl. No, come along, We'll go and tell "auntie" to come in.

(Exeunt Ruby and Pearl.)

Flora. (aside) I'll make Jack explain about those girls, or I'll break off our—our honeymoon; they talk as if he was engaged to both of them. Now I know why he was so desperately anxious to hide me when their father called.

(Enter Doctor. in pyjamas and eccentric Turkish dressing gown, rubbing his head with a towel—Flo doesn't see him.)

Oh, Jack, jack, I never thought you'd turn out such a monster as this!

Doctor. (surprised to see her) Good afternoon, (fumbles for his eye-glass which is hanging down his back)

What can I do for———(recognizes her) My darling wife! This is a pleasant surprise.

Flora. (starting up) Go away, you object! (crosses R. ) It's not a pleasant surprise, and I'm not your wife any longer! I know all—oh, Jack!

Doctor. (aside) Those precious jewels have said something. Confound them! (advancing to her, timidly) My dear Flo, if you will only give me time, I can explain everything!

Flora. (eagerly) Oh, do, Jack, do! (rushes into his arms)

(Enter Ruby and Pearl.)

Ruby. (seeing Doctor and Flo together) Oh, we didn't know you were engaged.

Pearl. There's another lady wants to see you.

Flora. (jealously) Another lady? (turns away)

Doctor. (eagerly) In hysterics?

Pearl. No—in a four-wheeler.

Ruby. She said she'd rung twice, but couldn't make anyone hear.

Doctor. Tupper's never awake when the bell rings. I'll discharge that boy—at least my half of him!

Ruby. I told her I'd see if you were disengaged, and she scribbled her name on her card; here it is. (reads) Miss Susannah Sheppard!

Doctor and Flora. Auntie!

Doctor. (to Flo) She mustn't see me like this—(looks at the dressing gown)—and she mustn't see you at all, you must fly!

Flora. (clinging to Jack, who is pale and agitated) Oh, Jack! I can't go and leave you with them, (looking at Ruby and Pearl) Can't you say that I'm one of your patients?

Doctor. Good idea, how clever of you. Get back there, (on operating couch)

Ruby. Oh, what fun! Let's all be patients! (nudges Pearl)

(Ruby and Pearl sit down and pretend to be suffering.)

Doctor. (to girls) All right! All be patients. It'll impress auntie, (takes off dressing-gown and flings it into bathroom, is just going in—stops) No! No time to change, (snatches his frock coat off chair, and buttons it over his pyjamas) Remember! This is the supreme moment of my life. Whatever I say to you—whatever I do to you—you mustn't mind.

Ruby and Pearl. We won't, (stifling a laugh)

Doctor. Hush!

(Enter Andrew dressed as Aunt, followed by Waverly.)

(to Andrew) My dear aunt, I'm so glad to see you. Won't you sit down? (leads him down to sofa)

(Pearl runs to Waverly, and drags him down O. P. corner.)

Pearl. Come and sit here! Pretend to be a patient! Waver. Why?

(Pearl explains in dumb show.)

Doctor. (at settee to Andrew) I must apologize for this worn-out attire—I'm always worn out on Friday, my worst day. I wish you'd come any other day. No! I don't mean that! I mean I'm awfully glad you've come to-day, but I'm awfully sorry I'm so busy I can't talk to you. No, no! I don't mean that! I mean I'm awfully glad, of course, that I'm so busy I can't talk to you! No, no, of course I don't mean that—I mean—I don't quite know what I do mean. You see it's Friday—oh! what a fool she must think me! Will you excuse me just two minutes while I settle off a few patients?

(Trio 1st laugh—Doctor crosses quickly to them.)

(aside to them, softly) Don't laugh at her! and don't look so beastly healthy! Look pale! Faint! Do something!

(Bus.—Ruby makes a sling for her arm out of her handkerchief.)

(crosses quickly back to Aunt) I'm so sorry to keep you waiting, my dear aunt; won't you amuse yourself with a book or something? (goes to couch at back, fetches "Quayle on Muscles," comes back quickly to Aunt, opens it) Here you are. (shuts it quickly and shies it down, aside) What do ladies read?

(Crosses quickly to Pearl. who is reading "Pink 'Un," snatches it from her.)

Thank you very much, (crosses quickly to Aunt) Here you are, aunt, this is a lady's paper! (gives it to her and runs to Flo at back—aside anxiously) I'll explain everything when they've gone! (loudly, holding her hand) Ah! your nerves are run down a little, (goes to medicine chest)

(Trio 2nd laugh.)

Confound those Plant girls—I'll pay them out! (flings roll of lint at Pearl. then pours sal volatile from bottle into measuring glass, then into tumbler, adds a little water—to Flo) There! drink that! You'll soon be better.

(During this Bus. Pearl picks up roll of lint, puts a bandage round Waverly's face—Ruby steals across stage and kisses Andrew—Doctor turns round just after.)

Ruby. (C., confused, comes to table) Could you take my case next, doctor? I'm so bad!

Doctor. You are. (Bus.—with stethoscope) I mean—with pleasure! I'll write you a prescription, (writes) I should advise a long voyage with a merry companion.

(Andrew shakes his fist at Doctor unobserved by him.)

Better start at once, (hands her prescription, saying aside) Go! (rings bell on table)

(Enter Tupper.)

Show this lady to her carriage, Tupper.

(Ruby doesn't move from table.)

(aside) Go! Go! What are you waiting for?

Ruby. (aside to him, stifling a laugh) My sister, of course. I'm not going to leave her here, (crosses C., then on to Andrew)

Doctor. Pray don't.

(Doctor rushes at Pearl. who is hobbling across stage on Waverly's walking stick and takes stick from her.)

(aside) Do you want to give me away to my aunt?

(then loudly) I'll write to your school mistress about you. I think a little physical treatment locally applied (brandishing stick) will put you right very soon. Good afternoon, (aside) Go! Go! both of you! (rings bell)

(Re-enter Tupper.)

More carriages for this lady, Tupper. (to Pearl) You needn't wait, little girl.

Pearl. I shall wait for Mr. Vane; and I won't be called a little girl! (goes to Ruby)

(Bell rings.)

Doctor. (getting desperate) Shall I never get rid of 'em! (rushes at Vane and grips him by the arm) I'll take you next, sir. (loudly)

(Waverly laughs.)

Stop that infernal laughing. I know my aunt will see through it soon, (punches him on back)

(Waverly cries out.)

Ah, it's still there! (loudly) That'll have to come out! (punches him harder)

(Waverly cries louder.)

Yes! (severely) We must remove that at once. Step into my operating room.

(Drags him oft to bath-room—opens door, turns on taps and leaves them running. Waverly runs back to his chair, Doctor runs back after him.)

Come along, now—be a man! Waver. Not to-day, thank you all the same.

(Enter Aunt, shown in by Tupper.)

Aunt. (C.) I'll give him one last chance.

Doctor. (seeing her—rushes at her—aside to her) Take 'em off, you fool! She's come! Take 'em off, I say, or I'll take 'em off for you!

(Andrew starts up and takes his bonnet and wig off.)

Andrew. (calls loudly) Jack! Jack!

(Doctor far too preoccupied to hear him, pushes Aunt into bath-room—she falls head foremost into bath, her heels go up—loud splash. Doctor bangs door, turns round, sees Andrew.)

Doctor. (aghast) Merry Andrew!!!

Andrew. Yes, Dull Boy!

Doctor. Then who's in here? (opens door)

TABLEAU.

(Flo rushes into bath-room and shuts door quickly.)

CURTAIN.



ACT III.

Scene.—The same as Acts I and II.

(Doctor discovered alone, in frock coat and pyjama trousers, and just going to knock at bath-room door.)

Doctor. (hand up, listening) I must apologize to her! No, I simply daren't, (comes down C.) It was such an awful thing to do, I'll—I'll wait till Flo comes out to—to tell me how she is. (listens) No, I can't. I know! I'll go to her in my professional capacity! (puts on high hat, and does to door, just going to knock, looks at pyjamas) I can't go in these. Where are my trousers? (looks round) Of course, in there! (points to bathroom) I know! I'll go to ask for my trousers! (same Bus.—about to knock) No that's a silly idea! I'm losing my wits, (comes down C. and sits at writing table) Suppose something happens to her? There'll be an inquest, and it'll be all in the papers: "Brutal Conduct of a West End Doctor.." Oh, my cup of misery is full!

(Enter Aurora with telegram.)

Aurora. (to Doctor) Here you are, doctor—a telegram for you, sir. We are busy to-day!

Doctor. (opens telegram, starts, aside) From my father-in-law. (reads to himself) "Have learnt from local registrar your cowardly conduct in eloping with my daughter—am on my way to London to horsewhip you."

Aurora. (cheerily) Any answer, sir? (C.)

Doctor. (gloomily) No! It's nothing—only an appointment—I shan't keep it.

Aurora. Don't look so sad, sir.

(Music upstairs heard off, some appropriate music-hall tune.)

You go h'upstairs to the tea-fight. 'Ere's yer invite. (takes card off mantel) There's plenty to eat and drink and nothin' to pay; you done quite enough work for one day, sir.

Doctor. Quite!

(Bath-room bell rings.)

Aurora. (mystified) That's your bath-room bell a-ringing, sir.

Doctor. (funereally) Yes! Answer it.

Aurora. (hesitating) Who's inside, sir?

Doctor. Two ladies.

Aurora. Two of 'em—oh, doctor!

(Enter Flo, from bath-room, with bundle of Aunt's clothes, dripping wet.)

Doctor. (penitently) My dear Flo, let me help you!

Flora. (indignantly to Doctor) Don't touch me! I wonder you aren't ashamed to. This is your work! (crosses to Aurora quietly) Take these, and dry them as quickly as possible!

Doctor. Flo! My darling, won't you give me one word?

Flora. Brute!

(Exit Flo. into bathroom, banging door after her.)

Doctor. Got it!

Aurora. Oh, sir, what 'ave you been a-doin' of?

Doctor. Don't ask silly questions. Do as you're told. I don't know what it is, but do it!

Aurora. (aside) If the missus sees these she'll turn the dear doctor into the street. I know she will! But she shan't see 'em, if I can 'elp it. (hugs them closely) It's all for 'im! Oh, ain't they wet, but they can't squelch the flame that's burnin' 'ere for the dear doctor. (coming down) I must tell him, I must! (throws wet clothes down on stage)

Mrs. O'H. (heard off) H'Aurora!

Aurora. Yus, mum! (hides clothes behind her)

(Enter Mrs. O'Hara.)

Mrs. O'H. 'Ow dare you wait on lodgers as can't pay their rint? (by sofa) Go h'upstairs and wait on my lady friends.

(Exit Aurora.)

(leans on back of sofa, to Doctor) Pardon me for callin' when you're so busy, (with sarcasm)

Doctor. (absent-minded) Don't mention it. Won't you sit down? Now, what can I—oh, it's the landlady!

Mrs. O'H. Quite a stream of patients!

Doctor. (absently) Oh, yes! Flowing in—simply flowing in!

Mrs. O'H. I'm glad to 'ear it. If a man can't h'earn a honest livin' at your time of life, 'e may as lief—(hiccough)—drown 'isself.

Doctor. (aside) "Drown"—the water-cure—my cure!

Mrs. O'H. I needn't remind you as it's Lady Day.

Doctor. (picking up pile of bills) No, I've been reminded, but I'm afraid I must trouble you to wait.

Mrs. O'H. Ho, of course! The pore lone widder must always wait.

Doctor. I wish the lone widder would go to the devil!

Mrs. O'H. As I was just remargin' to Widder Smith, as is honnering my party h'upstairs—

Doctor. (rising) Don't let me keep you from your friends, (half rising) They'll be getting impatient.

Mrs. O'H. (rising) H'impatient indeed. (crosses C.) Their company manners is just as good as your friends, I'll warrant. Which reminds me that Widder Smith 'as met you in (hiccough) in sassiety.

Doctor. (absently) Widow Smith? (shakes his head) Never heard her name.

Mrs. O'H. Ho! of course not! (comes to him) You'll say next you never gave her a bath—(hiccoughs)

Doctor (rises, astonished) Gave her a bath?

Mrs. O'H. (very indignant) A bath bun—I was a-goin' to say, and a cup o' coffee, at the Penny Reading—(crosses C. again)

Doctor. (smiling grimly) Oh, I remember that Penny Reading—I gave a comic recitation—it was funny! (sits again)

Mrs. O'H. Fairly so, she says, 'for a hamatoor. Somethin' about the water-cure, wasn't it?

Doctor. (writhing) I believe it was. (aside) The water-cure! It's fate!

Mrs. O'H. Well, out o' charity to a pore lodger as can't pay 'is rent, I'm goin' to take yer h'upstairs to to say that there recitltation to my lady friends. Come along!

Doctor. (rising) No, no, I'm not in a funny humour!

Mrs. O'H. Ho! but I'm going to take 'arf a crown off the rint-book for yer doin' of it—ap come along! (drags him)

Doctor. No, no—I really can't—I've had a terribly busy day and I'm too—tired!

Mrs. O'H. Too proud, you mean. But, mark my word, if you don't come h'up—

Doctor. (aside, absently) I shall come h'up three times.

Mrs. O'H. Your pride'll 'ave a fall, and a very 'umblin' fall!

(Exit Mrs. O'Hara, with dignity.)

Doctor. (alone) I wonder if the fall from the Albert Suspension is worse than Waterloo Bridge? (sits looking miserable)

(Enter Aurora. looking more miserable.)

Aurora. (aside) It's now or never. I must tell 'im, I must.

Doctor (aside) I wonder if I ought to keep that appointment with my father-in-law first. No! I'll spare him the trouble.

Aurora. (aside) Now, when I come to think of it, there's not only them three girls settin' their frills at 'im, but there's the lady without any clothes in there, (points to bathroom) That's four of 'em, but I'll struggle with the lot.

Doctor. (aside) I'll go now. (rises) Oh, I do feel so nervous, (pours out whiskey, going to add water) N—no! I shall get enough water afterwards, (drinks)

Aurora. (aside) I'll be 'is patient! They all do it that way. I've learnt the symptoms off the letter, I'll see if I know 'em. (repeats them to herself with action)

Doctor. (aside) Courage, courage! (strikes his chest, going) No, I can't go in these! (looks at pyjamas) I can't drown myself in pyjamas, and I've left my only trousers in there, and I can't get 'em—how—how very annoying, (sits again, much relieved) I can't drown myself.

Aurora. (standing C. end of sofa, leaning head on cushion) Ho, sir, I do feel queer.

Doctor. (looking round) What's the matter?

Aurora. I'ye got all sorts of normal fancies, an'— longin's—hawful longin's, sir—I think I'm longin' to drown myself.

Doctor. (suddenly) Don't say that! I'm surprised at you—don't you know it's only cowards who want to drown themselves. Come now, sit down! What's the trouble, eh?

Aurora. (vacantly) The trouble, sir?

Doctor. What can I do for you?

Aurora. I dunno, sir, what can you do for me?

Doctor. No, you don't understand. What are your symptoms?

Aurora. (effusively) Oh!! My symptoms, sir? (aside) I know 'em all by 'eart! (whispers in his ear)

Doctor. Most extraordinary! I've heard of a case exactly like that. Whose was it? (sees letter on table) Of course! The lady in Grosvenor Road. My only patient, and I'd forgotten her! I must pull myself together. I've got my work to do—my work, (picks up aunt's letter) "The noble work of alleviating human suffering!" Ah, that's what she said—before she had a bath—(looks at bathroom, sighs. To Aurora) Aurora. your case is deeply interesting.

Aurora. Oh, thank you, sir.

Doctor. It's complicated.

Aurora. It's 'oo, sir? (crosses C.)

Doctor. It's complicated!

Aurora. Oh, it is that, sir.

Doctor. Now tell me. (Bus. with scribbling block) Do you suffer from your heart?

Aurora. Oh, don't sir. (simpers) My 'eart, oh, don't I just! You 'ark at it, sir! (rushes at him, jumps on his knee, and presses his head to her heart) It goes bumpity-bump, and it's all for you, sir, all for you.

(Enter Flo. from bathroom.)

I loves yer! (wildly)

(Flo. shrieks, and enter Aunt quickly from bathroom in Doctor's Turkish bath-towel dressing gown, and wearing his Turkish smoking-cap and bedroom slippers.)

Aunt. (severely) What does this mean?

Aurora. (looking at Aunt) What is it? I shall go off into highstrikes in a minute, I know I shall.

Aunt. (more severely) Answer me, sir, what does this mean? (crosses to sofa)

(Aurora goes off into hysterics lying on sofa.)

Doctor. (looking at Aurora) I—I don't quite know. I think it's some form of hysteria, (bending over her)

Aurora. (suddenly recovering and sitting up) It's a complicated case, mum. (laughs and falls back)

Aunt. (to Aurora) Hold your tongue! (to Doctor) coward! to try to sneak out of it like that! I've done with you.

Flora. (bursting into tears) So have I! (crosses C. to meet Aunt)

Aunt. Don't cry, dear—he's not worth it.

Flora. (quickly) Oh, but he is—that's the worst of it.

Aunt. (aside) I'll save this sweet girl from him, my way. (to Flo.) Go in there, dear, while I talk to him.

(Exit Flo. into bathroom.)

Aurora. (behind Doctor) Buck up, sir—I'll stand by yer.

(Aunt descends upon him, he backs into Aurora. Bus. [ad lib.])

Aunt. So, sir, you're not satisfied with your outrageous treatment of me—your loving aunt, who came to London to be your best friend—(C.)

Doctor. If you'll only give me——

Aunt. Hold your tongue sir, I won't give you anything (L. C.)

Aurora. Give 'im a chance, mum, that don't cost nothin'—(end of sofa)

Aunt. Silence, the pair of you!

Aurora. (taking Doctor's arm—looks up at him lovingly) "The pair of us!"

Aunt. You shameless Don Juan; you've bragged to me about your goings on with two sailor girls——

Aurora. 'Tain't 'is fault, mum, they will kiss 'im! (c.)

Aunt. Silence! You're breaking the heart of that dear girl in there, (pointing to bathroom) Who's worth a hundred such creatures as you—a murderer who tried to drown his own aunt!

Aurora. Drown yer! Why, the dear doctor wouldn't drown a kitten, and you ain't no kitten, 'Amlet!

Aunt. (furious) And to crown all—I find you in the arms of this——

Aurora. This! Who are you callin' "this?"

Aunt. A disreputable Pimlico lodging-house kitchen girl! (crosses R. and back again)

Aurora. 'Ere! Cheese it! I may be a kitchen girl, but I ain't disreputable!

Aunt. (very furious) There's only one thing left for you to do, sir.

Doctor. I know—the water cure!

Aunt. You shall marry this girl, sir.

Aurora. (in a dream) Marry the dear doctor!

Doctor. (aghast) Marry—Aurora!

(Aurora turns away delighted.)

(aside) I'd rather drown myself! (crosses R. corner) Aunt. Yes, and I'll make you do it. (with scorn)

She's a fit—-

Aurora (surprised—kneels) Oh, thank you for those blessed words, mum! You darlin' lady! I'll go and see to your clothes now, auntie! (going, comes back) Kiss me, Jack! Kiss your Financy!

(Doctor leans with his back to table—Aurora climbs up on table and kisses him.)

(aside) I'm a lady at larst!'

(Exit Aurora.)

Aunt. Who's that poor girl in there? (pointing to bathroom)

Doctor. (absently) Oh, that is Miss Garden.

Aunt. (seating herself end of sofa, and putting rug over her, aside) She shall come and live with me! I know what it is to have loved a worthless man! (looks severely at Doctor) I pity her!

Doctor. (very timidly) Aunt, may I explain? I'm not——(crosses to sofa)

Aunt. (loudly) Silence, sir!

(Enter Plant with bag, hurriedly, shown in by Tupper.)

Plant. (not seeing Aunt, meets Doctor going towards door) Bear up, Jack, I've bad news for you—Miss Garden's bolted—gone back to her husband, I'm afraid.

Aunt. Her husband?

Plant. (staggered, recovers himself) My dear Miss Sheppard! (aside to Doctor) What's the matter with her?

Doctor. I don't know—complicated case.

Plant. Ahem! So this joyful meeting between aunt and nephew has taken place—how I wish I'd been here to witness it—and my daughters, too. (to Aunt) They're devoted to dear Jack. Ah, I'm afraid the rascal means to rob me of one of my precious jewels. He's a gray dog!

(Doctor looks anything out gay.)

Aunt. (aside) The sailor girls. They're his daughters! (cross to fireplace) Ugh!

Plant. (aside to Doctor) Is the old girl ill? What's up?

(Doctor is silent.)

Ah, but he'll be a great physician—ahem—some day. (aside to Doctor) When the daisies are growing over auntie, eh? (end of sofa) Aunt. (severely) John!

(Doctor doesn't move.)

Plant. (same tone) John!

(Doctor turns.)

Aunt. John, leave us!

(Doctor rises as if in a dream, shakes hands with Plant at end of sofa, and goes towards bathroom where Flo. went out.)

John!

(He turns.)

Not that way, sir! (points door R. I. E.)

(Doctor exits below R. I. E.)

Plant. (aside) He's upset her, somehow—I wonder how? Ah, well, I must pour oil on the troubled waters. (to Aunt) A Wonderful character—er—John. I congratulate you on having such a nephew—he combines all the tenderness of a woman with the more muscular qualities of a man. Did I tell you the story of his kindness to the milkman's baby?

Aunt. (loudly) Bother the milkman's baby! (sits sofa)

Plant. Certainly—er—bother the milkman's baby. (aside) She's strangely cross to-day.

Aunt. I told you to draw up a deed settling a thousand a year on my nephew.

Plant. (producing it blandly—Bus.—bag C. table) And I have consumed the midnight oil to complete it.

(He hands it to her, over back of sofa, she pitches it into the fire—he tries to snatch it out.)

My dear lady, that document's worth a lot of money! (rushes round sofa)

Aunt. Let it alone!

Plant. (aside) It's all off!

(Aunt is poking vigorously, she hits Plant on purpose——)

(hops away, rubbing his leg) I'm in a damned awkward corner. My dear Miss Sheppard, I fail to comprehend the meaning of your action. If ever there was a gentleman Sheppard it's your dear nephew.

Aunt. Tell that to the—the—milkman's baby. I could tell you a story of my nephew that would freeze your blood, (gesticulates with poker)

Plant. You astound me—any insanity in the family?

Aunt. (L. C, rising indignantly) Mr. Plant!

Plant. No, no, of course not—I beg pardon—(sees she is wearing Doctor's bath-towel dressing gown—-aside) By George! it looks like it, though! What has happened?

Aunt. Who's Miss Garden's husband? (back to fireplace)

Plant. (R. C, aside) Ahem! I must make a bit out of this, anyway. My dear lady, I mustn't betray a professional confidence, by mentioning his name, (aside) Even if I knew it, which I don't, (to her) But, strictly between ourselves, he's Jack's greatest friend.

Aunt. She's married to Jack's greatest friend?

Plant. Yes—a lieutenant in the navy.

Aunt. Disgraceful! (crosses to table)

Plant. Yes, (at sofa) I mustn't say more, (aside) Don't know any more, (to her) You see, she's a client of mine—of course I shall try and save Jack from the Divorce Court, but it's gone rather far, and these things cost money, you know.

Aunt. What do you mean? (end of sofa)

Plant. Only this afternoon I found her concealed on that couch—beneath that very rug you're now wearing—

(Bus.—Aunt flings it off.)

—and; when I remonstrated with Jack—as a father—(end of sofa) he actually tried to pass her off as an Anatomical model.

Aunt. (at table, back to fire) Then, why do you call him a 'Gentle Sheppard?' Every word you say only makes it worse.

Plant. (aside) Ahem! I've gone too far! (crosses to R.)

Aunt. Bad as he is, I shall do my duty by him—I'm going to find him a wife.

Plant. I'm afraid he can't support a wife—yet.

Aunt. I shall settle an income on her—she'll take better care of it. (crosses to sofa)

Plant (aside) It's all on again, (to her, crosses to table C.) A noble resolve, (gets out pocket-book) Shall I take your instructions now? How much shall I say?

Aunt. Not yet. (crosses C.) I want you to send your daughters to me. (crosses to sofa, puts sofa cushions behind her head. Only the Doctor's cap is visible to anyone entering room)

Plant. With pleasure! (aside, putting up pocketbook) I've done the trick, (to her) Two dear girls, who have never caused me a moment's uneasiness all their blameless lives.

(Enter Mrs. O'Hara, sees fez, and naturally takes Aunt for Doctor.)

Mrs. O'H. Now, then, Doctor. me an' my friends are all waitin' upstairs to 'ear the funny story.

Plant. What funny story?

Mrs. O'H. About the Lady and the Water Cure.

Aunt. (aside) The Lady and the Water Cure? That's me. (jumping up) I forbid Doctor Sheppard to tell that story!

Mrs. O'H. (seeing her for the first time) And who are you when you're at home? I took you for the doctor. 'Ow dare you come to my 'ouse, dressed in that indecent way? (crosses C.) We're respectable in Marmalade Street—I'm ashamed of my lodger for lettin' you in—'e just shall tell that story now, or pay 'is rint.

Aunt. There is my lawyer—he'll pay your rent.

Plant. Certainly. Come with me, old fireworks!

Mrs. O'H. Thank you, sir—you're a gentleman!

(Exeunt Plant and Mrs. O'Hara.)

Aunt. (alone C.) Actually going to make fun of me before a lot of vulgar people to get out of paying his, rent, is there anything he won't do? (sits in grand-father's chair)

(Enter Andrew.)

Andrew. (seeing Aunt's cap, mistakes her for the Doctor) I say, Dull Boy, where is she? Still in the bath? (roars)

(Aunt does not move.)

(aside, Bus. fills pipe, etc.) He's got the hump! Poor Jack! I say, I'm awfully sorry I've got you into such a deuce of a scrape, but you know you distinctly said the old lady wasn't coming till to-morrow.

Aunt. (aside) Old lady!

Andrew. And to-night we said we'd have one jolly good caper for the last. Now, did we say so, or did we not? (pause) You won't speak to me? Well, I dare-say I deserve it, and I'm awfully sorry, but you know if I'd had the slightest notion she'd turn up to-day, I'd never have dressed up like that picture.

Aunt. (aside) Like what picture?

Andrew. But, by George, it was a lark when the old girl came, and you thought she was me dressed up—and you—oh, lor! (laughs)

Aunt. (aside) I begin to understand! (smiles at audience)

Andrew. (up stage) Oh, don't be so beastly serious, there's no harm done. I'll put matters right with your aunt—you say she's an awfully good sort, and a sailor can always get the soft side of a lady—so come! Give us your hand and say you forgive.

(Pause—Aunt doesn't move.)

Oh, come on! (digs her in the ribs)

Aunt. (jumping up) Sir!

Andrew. (staggered) Oh, Susannah! (R. C.)

Aunt. Sir!

Andrew. I didn't mean you—I always say that—I mean—I'm most awfully sorry—can you forgive me? (end of sofa)

Aunt. I can and do, because I'm so delighted to find that I've misjudged Jack, and that you were the real culprit. Pray tell me to whom I am indebted for the unexpected pleasure of my bath?

Andrew. My name's Andrew Merry, I'm Jack's greatest friend.

Aunt. His greatest friend? Are you a lieutenant in the navy?

Andrew. I have that honor.

Aunt. What shall I do? I have it. (crosses to bathroom) I've a great surprise for you—but you must not think any the worse of her—she's here with me—(opens bathroom door) Come in, my dear.

(Enter Flo.)

There! (points to Andrew) Kiss him and make it up!

Andrew. Oh, Susannah!

Flora. (C. aghast) Kiss him? I've never seen this gentleman before.

Aunt. Mr. Plant told me you were man and wife.

Flora. Mr. Plant would say anything horrid!

Andrew. Oh, thanks!

Flora. He wants one of his daughters to marry Jack.

Andrew. Does he? Well, Ruby's engaged to me, and Pearl—well, don't worry about her, and as for dear old Jack, he's only cared for one girl all his life. I've never seen her yet—but he's told me more than once that her name was Flora Garden.

Flora. I'll never be jealous again!

Aunt. (aside) Jack's not so bad after all!

(Andrew crosses r. of table. Enter Aurora dressed very grandly and eccentrically, orange blossoms in her hair and wearing her diamond paste combs—she carries a bundle of clothes.)

Aurora. (to Aunt, affectionately) 'Ere you are, mum, 'ere's your clothes—auntie! (hands clothes to Aunt)

(Flo. takes them and exits into bathroom.)

(calls after her) 'Ere, they won't fit you! 'Ow can I thank you? You done it all, mum. The dear doctor's never give me the slightest encouragement of a word or a look.

Aunt. (with blank astonishment) He never has?

Aurora. No, mum. It was all a one side, and I should never 'ave 'ooked him if you 'adn't said the word.

Aunt. I breathe again, (aside) Jack's a perfect angel, (to Aurora) I'll see you again, my good girl, before I go.

(Exit Aunt into bathroom.)

Aurora. I 'ope we shall see you h'often when were married. You'll always be welcome. She don't know what she's done for 'im. (at sofa side)

Andrew. I think it's about time I met my future father-in-law—I shall have two or three things to say to him.

(Aurora sits on couch and puts her feet up. Andrew sits in Doctor's chair. Enter Waverly, shown in by Tupper.)

Waverly. Where's Doctor Sheppard? (L. C.) Andrew. Out. I'm waiting to tell him the good news—I say, such a lark!

(Waverly sits on table.)

I've told auntie all about the bath business by mistake.

Waverly. By mistake?

Andrew. Yes, I took her for Jack.

Waverly. How could you?

Andrew. She'd got his things on.

Waverly. (putting his hand over his face) Oh, Susannah!

(Enter Doctor R. I. E., sees Aurora on sofa, and rushes off again, yowling.)

Andrew. (to Waverly, neither having seen Aurora on sofa) Has he got 'em? Come on, we must tell him the good news.

(Exeunt Andrew and Waverly after Doctor R. I. E.)

Aurora. (alone, fondly) My love! Ain't he coy? I like a bashful lover. It's so gentlemanly, (sits at writing-table)

(Enter Tupper excitedly.)

Tupper. Please, sir—(sees Aurora. laughs) Well, you do look a guy! 'Oiler, boys, 'oiler, 'ere's another guy!

Aurora. You don't know who you're talking to. I shall be your missus soon—I'm going to marry the dear doctor!

Tupper. Oh, don't say that, Aurora! (cries)

Aurora. Ah, you ain't the only one as'll cry when they 'ear the news. There's the butcher and the baker and my cousin, in the h'E division, he'll bust! Poor little Tupper, don't cry. Look 'ere, you shall come and kiss me in the vestry, after it's all over—that's more than I'll let the butcher do. Buck up, it'll soon be over—

Tupper (drying eyes) Oh, I forgot, there's a servant come from Grosvenor Road.

Aurora. Tell 'er to wait.

Tupper. But she says the lady's going to have a fit!

Aurora. Tell 'er to wait, we are not to be disturbed.

Tupper. All right! (aside) Oh, ain't she lovely! She looks like an 'eavenly h'angel, now I've lorst 'er for h'ever!

(Exit Tupper.)

Aurora. (picks up letter) I'll see to her case myself. It wants a woman in the case. (Bus.) I'll work this business different when I'm boss. I'll get 'im a lot of patients.

(Enter Plant. Ruby and Pearl.)

What! Back again! These visits'll 'ave to be paid for. We don't give nothing away heah! (writes on scribbling block) To three consul'ations in one day at a pound a time—and there's three of yer, three three's—that's eleven—kindly part up! (knocks on table)

Plant. My good girl, this is not a professional visit We've come to see Miss Sheppard.

Aurora. (with dignity, sitting at writing table) Well, you can't. Auntie's changing 'er clothes—'as she told yer the news?

Plant. What news?

(Ruby signals to Pearl behind Plant's back.)

Aurora. (haughtily) A mere trifle! There's goin' to be a weddin' from 'ere very soon.

Pearl. A wedding?

Plant. (to Ruby and Pearl. rubbing his hands, ready to take Ruby and Pearl over R.) What did I tell you?

Aurora. The dear doctor's the 'appy man!

Ruby. And who is—the lady?

Aurora. Ah, how embarrassing! No, you must ask auntie, she'll tell yer.

Plant. (to girls) I told you Miss Sheppard wanted to see you both, (takes girls R. corner) She's going to choose between you.

Pearl. Hadn't Jack better do that? (nudging Ruby)

Plant. There's not time!

(Mrs. O'Hara calling off,)

Mrs. O'H. (off) H'Aurora!

Aurora. (putting her hair back) Thank goodness, I shan't be at this low game much longer!

(Enter Mrs. O'Hara.)

Mrs. O'H. 'Ow dare you dress grander than your missus? Take 'em off, at once, and put on yer cap, then get along h'upstairs and wait on my lady friends. (slaps her shoulder)

Aurora. (aside) Oh, when I 'ave servants of my own, won't I give 'em O'Hara!

(Exeunt Aurora and Mrs. O'Hara L. U. E.)

(Enter Doctor. Andrew and Waverly R. I. E.)

Plant. Yes, there is time, just time. My dear Jack, there's not a moment to lose, (takes him to fireplace) The Old girl has cut you off without a penny.

(Doctor falls into his arms.)

Don't give way! (holds him up) There's still hope. My daughters love you—

(Doctor falls in a heap on the stage.)

—and will marry you without a penny.

Doctor. (sitting on stage) Both of 'em!

Plant. No, sir, either of 'em. You've only to choose and your aunt will forgive you everything—I've arranged it all! Which is it to be? Quick—your answer!

Doctor. (pointing to the two couples) There's your answer.

TABLEAU.

Plant. (seeing Waverly and Andrew for the first time) What the devil's up now? Those dear girls have never given me a moment's peace in all their blessed lives!

(Doctor at table C.)

Pearl. (comes down) Papa, see what Mr. Vane's given me. (shows him pearl necklace) Precious pearls! Isn't that appropriate? I think Mr. Vane has something to say to you. (pushes him forward)

(Waverly is silent.)

Plant. Don't speak, sir—I know what you're going to say.

Waverly. I'm hanged if he does!

Plant. (pockets necklace) No man shall rob me of my precious jewel, (hugs Pearl) whoever he is. (aside to Pearl) who is he? (passes her over to R.)

Pearl. (aside to Plant) His father's an earl——

Plant. (aside) An earl! (to Waverly, putting out his hand) My dear sir, forgive me—a father's feelings—(sobs) You must give me time——

Waverly. Certainly! There's—there's no hurry! (crosses L. to Ruby)

Ruby. (bringing Andrew down) Pa, this is—Andrew!

Andrew. Mr. Plant—I——

Plant. Don't speak, sir—I know what you're going to say!

Andrew. Does he?

Plant. (taking Ruby in his other arm, and hugging the two girls closely) Another thief—after my precious Jewels! (aside to Ruby) Has he got any money?

Ruby. (aside to Plant) Lots!

Plant. (aside) Good! (aloud) You're breaking my heart, gentlemen, but I mustn't be selfish. Take my precious jewels—and wear them! I wonder if it would run to a dinner? (counts his money) No! a lunch! Come to lunch to-morrow, both of you.

Aurora. (off) Jack!

(Enter Aurora. Doctor sees her, and ducks behind curtains C. hiding from her; she crosses to door R. I. E., and taps gently—no answer.)

Jack! Where's my Jack?

Plant. (looking at Ruby and Pearl) Ah, two dear girls who have never caused me a moment's uneasiness all their blameless lives.

Aurora. Ho! then it's all to come, for they told me as their pa 'ad set 'is 'eart on their marrying the dear doctor.

Plant. How dare you! My daughters are Doctor Sheppard's cousins, and nothing would induce me to sanction a marriage between cousins, (going to her) You're a very naughty little girl.

Aurora. (haughtily, seating herself and spreading her frock out) Little girl! Pardon me, my good man—do you know who you're talking to? You don't know: my position in this 'ouse. I'm auntie's choice.

Plant. Are you? You're not mine!

Aurora. Yes! She's chosen me to marry the dear doctor!

(Ruby and Pearl laugh.)

Let them laugh as wins. You tried your best, but I don't bear no h'ill-will. I said I'd struggle with yer, and I've done it. If you're good girls, I may ask you to be bridesmaids—it's better than nothing, (crosses L. C.)

Plant. (to Doctor under table) I say, Jack, is this true? You have my deepest sympathy—and if it should come to a breach of promise—look me up!

Doctor. (coming out) If ever I do look you and your precious jewels up, I'll bring a stick twice as big as yours.

Plant. And that is gratitude!

(Enter Flo. and Aunt—they listen.)

Ruby. (hotly) I don't care who marries Jack!

Pearl. Nor I—he's not my style!

Aunt. (to Doctor) This dear girl has told me all about you—forgive me for my mistakes, but they weren't all my fault—(shaking her finger at Andrew) I hope you'll have a very happy married life.

Aurora. (crossing) I'm sure 'e will.

Aunt. (to Doctor) I shall do all I can to make it so.

Aurora. (coming to her) Oh, thank you, mum, and would you please name the day?

Doctor. (absently) My wife! (sees Aurora. shakes her off) Oh, go to! go to—(goes to Flora) This lady is my wife—we were married this morning.

Aurora. My Jack married! Then I'm a widder!

(She falls flat on the stage.)

CURTAIN.

THE END

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