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Dialogue following No. 9.
Bouncer. Not quite, gentlemen. I can't find the pistols, but I have brought you a letter - it came by the General Post yesterday. I am sure I don't know how I came to forget it, for I put it carefully in my pocket.
Cox. And you've kept it carefully in your pocket.
Bouncer. Yes, sir. I hope you'll forgive me, sir. (going) By-the-bye, I paid twopence for it.
Cox. Did you? Then I do forgive you.
Exit BOUNCER D. L. C. COX looks at letter.
Cox. "Margate." The postmark decidedly says "Margate."
Box. Oh, doubtless a tender epistle from Penelope Ann.
Cox. Then read it , sir. (handing letter to BOX)
Box. Me, sir?
Cox. Of course. You don't suppose I'm going to read a letter from your intended.
Box. My intended! Pooh! It's addressed to you - C.O.X.
Cox. Do you think that's a C.? It looks to me like a B.!
Box. Nonsense! Fracture the seal!
Cox. (opens letter - starts) Goodness gracious!
Box. (snatches letter - starts) Goodness gracious!
Cox. (taking 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 intended!
Box. No, yours! However, it's perfectly immaterial. Go on.
Cox. (resuming 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! (reading) "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! (affected)
Box. Generous, ill-fated being! (affected)
Cox. And to think that I tossed up for such a woman!
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!
Cox. If she'd been my own intended? She was my own intended!
Box. 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 fourths.
Box. That won't do. Half and half!
Cox. Agreed! There's my hand upon it -
Box. And mine. (about to shake hands - a postman's knock heard at street door)
Cox. Holloa! Postman again!
Box. Postman yesterday - postman today -
Enter BOUNCER, D. L. C.
Bouncer. Another letter, Colonel Cox - twopence more!
Cox. I forgive you again! (taking letter) Another trifle from Margate. (opens the letter - starts) Goodness gracious!
Box. (snatching letter - starts) Gracious goodness!
Cox. (snatching letter again - reads) "Happy to inform you - false alarm."
Box. (overlooking) "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 at the Colonial Office will prevent my witnessing the truly happy meeting between you and your intended. Good morning! (going)
Cox. (stopping him) 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 your intended.
Cox. No, yours! Box. Yours!
Ten o'clock 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!
Cox. (leaning over BOX's shoulder) A lady's got out -
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 their backs.
Bouncer. (without, and knocking) Colonel!
Cox. (shouting) I've just stepped out!
Box. So have I!
Bouncer. (without.) Mr. Cox. (pushing at the door - COX and BOX redouble their efforts to keep the door shut) Open the door. It's only me - Sergeant Bouncer!
Cox. Only you? Then where's the lady?
Cox. Upon your honour?
Box. As a Militiaman?
Bouncer. Yes: and she's left a note for Brigadier Cox.
Cox. Give it to me!
Bouncer. Then open the door!
Cox. Put it under!
A letter is put under the door, COX picks up the letter and opens it.
Cox. Goodness gracious!
Box. (snatching letter) Gracious goodness!
COX snatches the letter, and runs forward, followed by BOX.
Cox. (reading) "Dear Mr. Cox, pardon my candour"-
Box. (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 union"-
Box. "With Mr. Knox."
Box. Three cheers for Knox! Ha, ha, ha!
Tosses letter in the air, and begins dancing. COX does the same.
Bouncer. (putting his head in at door) The little second floor back room is quite ready!
Cox. I don't want it!
Box. No more do I!
Cox. What shall part us?
Box. What shall tear us asunder?
Box. Cox! (about to 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?
Cox. No! Box. Then it is he!
They rush 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 it.
Cox. Everything so clean and comfortable.
Box. And I'm sure the master of it, from what I have seen of him, is very anxious to please.
Cox. So he is - and I vote, Box, that we stick by him!
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Page Created 20 March, 2005