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The Wolves and the Lamb
by William Makepeace Thackeray
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LADY K.—Where I have met with rudeness, cruelty, and fiendish [to Miss P., who smiles and curtsies]—yes, fiendish ingratitude. I will go, I say, as soon as I have made arrangements for taking other lodgings. You cannot expect a lady of fashion to turn out like a servant.

JOHN.—Hire the "Star and Garter" for her, sir. Send down to the "Castle;" anything to get rid of her. I'll tell her maid to pack her traps. Pinhorn! [Beckons maid and gives orders.]

TOUCHIT.—You had better go at once, my dear Lady Kicklebury.

LADY K.—Sir!

TOUCHIT.—THE OTHER MOTHER-IN-LAW IS COMING! I met her on the road with all her family. He! he! he! [Screams.]

Enter Mrs. PRIOR and Children.

MRS. P.—My lady! I hope your ladyship is quite well! Dear, kind Mrs. Bonnington! I came to pay my duty to you, ma'am. This is Charlotte, my lady—the great girl whom your ladyship so kindly promised the gown for; and this is my little girl, Mrs. Bonnington, ma'am, please; and this is my Bluecoat boy. Go and speak to dear, kind Mr. Milliken—our best friend and protector—the son and son-in-law of these dear ladies. Look, sir! He has brought his copy to show you. [Boy shows copy.] Ain't it creditable to a boy of his age, Captain Touchit? And my best and most grateful services to you, sir. Julia, Julia, my dear, where's your cap and spectacles, you stupid thing? You've let your hair drop down. What! what!—[Begins to be puzzled.]

MRS. B.—Is this collusion, madam?

MRS. P.—Collusion, dear Mrs. Bonnington!

LADY K.—Or insolence, Mrs. Prior!

MRS. P.—Insolence, your ladyship! What—what is it? what has happened? What's Julia's hair down for? Ah! you've not sent the poor girl away? the poor, poor child, and the poor, poor children!

TOUCHIT.—That dancing at the "Coburg" has come out, Mrs. Prior.

MRS. P.—Not the darling's fault. It was to help her poor father in prison. It was I who forced her to do it. Oh! don't, don't, dear Lady Kicklebury, take the bread out of the mouths of these poor orphans! [Crying.]

MILLIKEN.—Enough of this, Mrs. Prior: your daughter is not going away. Julia has promised to stay with me—and—never to leave me—as governess no longer, but as wife to me.

MRS. P.—Is it—is it true, Julia?

MISS P.—Yes, mamma.

MRS. P.—Oh! oh! oh! [Flings down her umbrella, kisses JULIA, and running to MILLIKEN,] My son, my son! Come here, children. Come, Adolphus, Amelia, Charlotte—kiss your dear brother, children. What, my dears! How do you do, dears? [to MILLIKEN'S children]. Have they heard the news? And do you know that my daughter is going to be your mamma? There—there—go and play with your little uncles and aunts, that's good children! [She motions off the Children, who retire towards garden. Her manner changes to one of great patronage and intense satisfaction.] Most hot weather, your ladyship, I'm sure. Mr. Bonnington, you must find it hot weather for preachin'! Lor'! there's that little wretch beatin' Adolphus! George, sir! have done, sir! [Runs to separate them.] How ever shall we make those children agree, Julia?

MISS P.—They have been a little spoiled, and I think Mr. Milliken will send George and Arabella to school, mamma: will you not, Horace?

MR. MILLIKEN.—I think school will be the very best thing for them.

MRS. P.—And [Mrs. P. whispers, pointing to her own children] the blue room, the green room, the rooms old Lady Kick has—plenty of room for us, my dear!

MISS P.—No, mamma, I think it will be too large a party,—Mr. Milliken has often said that he would like to go abroad, and I hope that now he will be able to make his tour.

MRS. P.—Oh, then! we can live in the house, you know: what's the use of payin' lodgin', my dear?

MISS P.—The house is going to be painted. You had best live in your own house, mamma; and if you want anything, Horace, Mr. Milliken, I am sure, will make it comfortable for you. He has had too many visitors of late, and will like a more quiet life, I think. Will you not?

MILLIKEN.—I shall like a life with YOU, Julia.

JOHN.—Cab, sir, for her ladyship!

LADY K.—This instant let me go! Call my people. Clarence, your arm! Bulkeley, Pinhorn! Mrs. Bonnington, I wish you good-morning! Arabella, angel! [looks at picture] I leave you. I shall come to you ere long. [Exit, refusing MILLIKEN's hand, passes up garden, with her servants following her. MARY and other servants of the house are collected together, whom Lady K. waves off. Bluecoat boy on wall eating plums. Page, as she goes, cries, Hurray, hurray! Bluecoat boy cries, Hurray! When Lady K. is gone, JOHN advances.]

JOHN.—I think I heard you say, sir, that it was your intention to go abroad?

MILLIKEN.—Yes; oh, yes! Are we going abroad, my Julia?

MISS P.—To settle matters, to have the house painted, and clear [pointing to children, mother, &c.] Don't you think it is the best thing that we can do?

MILLIKEN.—Surely, surely: we are going abroad. Howell, you will come with us of course, and with your experiences you will make a capital courier. Won't Howell make a capital courier, Julia? Good honest fellow, John Howell. Beg your pardon for being so rude to you just now. But my temper is very hot, very.

JOHN [laughing].—You are a Tartar, sir. Such a tyrant! isn't he, ma'am?

MISS P.—Well, no; I don't think you have a very bad temper, Mr. Milliken, a—Horace.

JOHN.—You must—take care of him—alone, Miss Prior—Julia—I mean Mrs. Milliken. Man and boy I've waited on him this fifteen year: with the exception of that trial at the printing-office, which—which I won't talk of NOW, madam. I never knew him angry; though many a time I have known him provoked. I never knew him say a hard word, though sometimes perhaps we've deserved it. Not often—such a good master as that is pretty sure of getting a good servant—that is, if a man has a heart in his bosom; and these things are found both in and out of livery. Yes, I have been a honest servant to him,—haven't I, Mr. Milliken?

MILLIKEN.—Indeed, yes, John.

JOHN.—And so has Mary Barlow. Mary, my dear! [Mary comes forward.] Will you allow me to introduce you, sir, to the futur' Mrs. Howell?—if Mr. Bonnington does YOUR little business for you, as I dare say [turning to Mr. B.], hold gov'nor, you will!—Make it up with your poor son, Mrs. Bonnington, ma'am. You have took a second 'elpmate, why shouldn't Master Horace? [to Mrs. B.] He—he wants somebody to help him, and take care of him, more than you do.

TOUCHIT.—You never spoke a truer word in your life, Howell.

JOHN.—It's my general 'abit, Capting, to indulge in them sort of statements. A true friend I have been to my master, and a true friend I'll remain when he's my master no more.

MILLIKEN.—Why, John, you are not going to leave me?

JOHN.—It's best, sir, I should go. I—I'm not fit to be a servant in this house any longer. I wish to sit in my own little home, with my own little wife by my side. Poor dear! you've no conversation, Mary, but you're a good little soul. We've saved a hundred pound apiece, and if we want more, I know who won't grudge it us, a good fellow—a good master—for whom I've saved many a hundred pound myself, and will take the "Milliken Arms" at old Pigeoncot—and once a year or so, at this hanniversary, we will pay our respects to you, sir, and madam. Perhaps we will bring some children with us, perhaps we will find some more in this villa. Bless 'em beforehand! Good-by, sir, and madam—come away, Mary! [going].

MRS. P. [entering with clothes, &c.]—She has not left a single thing in her room. Amelia, come here! this cloak will do capital for you, and this—this garment is the very thing for Adolphus. Oh, John! eh, Howell! will you please to see that my children have something to eat, immediately! The Milliken children, I suppose, have dined already?

JOHN.—Yes, ma'am; certainly, ma'am.

MRS. P.—I see he is inclined to be civil to me NOW!

MISS P.—John Howell is about to leave us, mamma. He is engaged to Mary Barlow, and when we go away, he is going to set up housekeeping for himself. Good-by, and thank you, John Howell [gives her hand to JOHN, but with great reserve of manner]. You have been a kind and true friend to us—if ever we can serve you, count upon us—may he not, Mr. Milliken?

MILLIKEN.—Always, always.

MISS P.—But you will still wait upon us—upon Mr. Milliken, for a day or two, won't you, John, until we—until Mr. Milliken has found some one to replace you. He will never find any one more honest than you, and good, kind little Mary. Thank you, Mary, for your goodness to the poor governess.

MARY.—Oh miss! oh mum! [Miss P. kisses Mary patronizingly].

MISS P. [to JOHN].—And after they have had some refreshment, get a cab for my brothers and sister, if you please, John. Don't you think that will be best, my—my dear?

MILLIKEN.—Of course, of course, dear Julia!

MISS P.—And, Captain Touchit, you will stay, I hope, and dine with Mr. Milliken? And, Mrs. Bonnington, if you will receive as a daughter one who has always had a sincere regard for you, I think you will aid in making your son happy, as I promise you with all my heart and all my life to endeavor to do. [Miss P. and M. go up to Mrs. BONNINGTON.]

MRS. BONNINGTON.—Well, there, then, since it must be so, bless you, my children.

TOUCHIT.—Spoken like a sensible woman! And now, as I do not wish to interrupt this felicity, I will go and dine at the "Star and Garter."

MISS P.—My dear Captain Touchit, not for worlds! Don't you know I mustn't be alone with Mr. Milliken until—until—?

MILLIKEN.—Until I am made the happiest man alive! and you will come down and see us often, Touchit, won't you? And we hope to see our friends here often. And we will have a little life and spirit and gayety in the place. Oh, mother! oh, George! oh, Julia! what a comfort it is to me to think that I am released from the tyranny of that terrible mother-in-law!

MRS. PRIOR.—Come in to your teas, children. Come this moment, I say. [The Children pass quarrelling behind the characters, Mrs. PRIOR summoning them; JOHN and MARY standing on each side of the dining-room door, as the curtain falls.]

THE END

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