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Mrs. V. B. Well, in round terms, it's his, but But. On her bands and knees, like a quadruhe mustn't spend it. Do you understand ! ped, sir.
Dr. A. Oh, yes. When I was a boy my uncle Dr. A. Have you searched her? gave me a guinea on those terms.
But. (shocked.) No, sir, I have not searched her. Mrs. V. Ď. Now come, doctor, dear, the young Dr. A. Well, well, I mean, bas she been searched? people look to me, and, when one is looked to, But. (with dignity.) I put my hand in her pockone should be equal to the emergency. What et, sir, and I looked under her shawl. would you advise me to do?
Dr. A. Well, you didn't search her, but you put Dr. A. Your property is not, I suppose, tied up your hand in her pocket, and you looked under
Mrs. V. B. No; it is quite unfettered, and con- her shawl. What did you find there? sists principally of long leaseholds and funded But. A decanter of sherry, sir. (Producing it. property, left me by my godfather, and a small Dr. A. (to Mrs. Van Bergh.) `Your sherry, sum of money acquired by Captain Van Brugh on Mrs. Van Brugh? his first marriage.
But. Our sherry, Dr. Athelney. Dr. A. His first marriage! Bless me, I never Dr. A. Well, you hear what this man says; did knew he had been married before.
you take this wine? Mrs. V. B. Yes, (much agitated) a most un-' Ruth. Aye, I took it, sure enough. happy match. She-she left him under discredit- ! Dr. A. Why did you take it? able circumstances-went to Australia-resumed Ruth. Why, to drink, of course. Why should I ber maiden name, and under that name died in take it! Melbourne.
Dr. A. You shouldn't take it.
Mrs. V. B. (still agitated.] Ob, years ago. It's Dr. A. Not other people's wine-except, of a terrible story. I don't like to think of it-I course, with their permission. can't bear to talk of it.
Ruth. Maybe you've got a cellar of your own? Dr. A. (aside.) What a blundering old savage Dr. A. Maybe I have. I am! If there is a pitfall open, ten to one I tum- Ruth. Well, maybe I haven't. That's my anble into it! (Aloud.) I have always understood swer. that where marriage settlements of any consider- Dr. A. Now, wbat are we to do with her? ation are concerned, it is customary to employ a Jrs. F. B. Leave her to me. Dr. Athelney, solicitor. I can't quote my authority, but I feel please remain here with me. Every one else, exsure that I am right.
cept the woman, leave the room. Mrs. V. B. Old Mr. Smailey is an executer un-, But. She's a desperate character, ma'am; it der Captain Van Brugh's will, and his solicitor took six of us, ineluding me, to bring her here. has always acted for me.
Mrs. V. B. Never mind. Dr. Athelney and I Dr. A. His solicitor! what, that queer little red- will see her alone. Take your hands from her faced fellow who accompanies him everywhere and go.
Mrs. V. B. No. Ha, ha, ha! I suppose Mr. But. Hadn't we better keep within hearing? If Fitz Partington is a junior partner, or head clerk, help was wanted or something of the kind-at all events, his name Nrs. V. B. No help will be wanted. I am in doesn't appear in the firm.
learnest. Go! Shut the door. Dr. A. Well, leave it to me, Mrs. Van Brugh,
(The SERVANTS reluctantly depart. and I'll write to my brother, the vice-chancellor, Ruth. You're a cool hand, missis; ain't you who will tell us what to do. Now I'm off. (Noisé afeard on me? without.] Why, what's this? Bless me, Mrs. Van Mrs. V. B. Not at all. Why should I be afraid Brugh, what is the cause of this commotion? of you? I mean you no harm. [Noise heard without, as of people struggling with Ruth. Who's he? a woman, who rudely expostulates with them. Mrs. V. B. Dr. Athelney, a clergyman and a Mrs. V. B. Why, what in the world is the matter! magistrate.
Ruth. Beak, is he? Well, let him make out the Enter three or four SERVANT Men with RUTH committal. Where's it to be ! Sessions ?
TREDGETT in custody. She is wild-looking and Mrs. V. B. We have no wish to prosecute you. disheveled, as if she had been struggling vio- We wish to help you to arrive at a sense of right lently.
and wrong Groom. We've got her, ma'am. Don't be afraid. Ruth. Can't it be done without a parson? I [To Roth.] Stand quiet, you jade, will yer ? dunno much good o' parsons. I'd rather it was Woa, there! We've got her, sir, but we've had a done without a parson. desperate bard job to do it.
Dr. A. (kindly.) Don't think of me as a clerDr. A. What has been done?
gyman, if that calling is distasteful to you. PerGroom. She's knocked two teeth clean out of baps some day we may succeed in overcoming my bead, sir, and give notice to quit to a dozen your prejudice. In the mean time think of me more.
only as a harmless old gentleman, who is willing Dr. A. We will hear your grievance presently. 'and able to help you to earn your living respectWhat has this woman done that she is brought ably, if you desire to do so. here!
Ruth. Ah, I've come across the likes o' you AU. Done, sir, why
afore now. Three weeks agone comes a parson, But, (with dignity, to the others.) If you please! as it might be you. “ I've come to help you, poor [TO MRS. Van Brugh.) Ma'am, Edwards found fallen creetur," says he ; “ I've come to tell you this here woman creepin' out of my pantry, ma'am, blessed truths, poor miserable outcast," says he. on all fours.
“ Read that, wretched lost sheep,” says he. “ I'll Dr. A. On what?
call again in a month and see how you feel,” says
be. A month! Heugh! When I was bad with bappy course of life, I will provide you with the fever the doctor come every day. He never come means of earning your living honestly. no more. There's ladies come odd times. I call Ruth. Honestly! why, lady, I'm too fur gone to mind one-come in a carriage, she did. Same for that! story-poor, miserable, lost one-wretched, aban- Mrs. V. B. I hope not. I have assisted many, doned fellow-creetur, and that. She called me a very many such women as yourself, and I have brand from the burpin', and wanted to stretch seldom found my efforts wasted. out a hand to save me, she did. Well, she stretch- Ruth. [in amazement.] But you-a lady, highed it out, and I thought she meant it (for I was born, high-bred, beautiful, rich, goodgreen then), and, fool-like, I took it and kissed Mrs. V. B. Hush! (Rises.] No matter what I it. She screeched as though I'd bit her.
[With emotion.] Who shall say what the Mrs. V. B. Will you take my hand ?
very best of us might not have been, but for the acRuth. [astonished.] Do you know what I am ? cident of education and good example? Tell me,
Mrs. V. B. Yes; I know well what you are. Ruth Tredgett, will you accept my offer? You are a woman that wants help, and I a woman Ruth. [kneels at her feet and looks up into her who will help you.
[Taking her hand. face.] I will! Ruth. [much moved.] Thankee, missis. [Struggling with tears.] Don't mind me. [Throws her apron over her face and sobs.] They will come
ACT II. odd times !
SCENE.-Same as in Act I.
Enter MR. SMAILEY and SERVANT.
Mr. S. [very gently. ] Will you have the goodRuth. I dunno as I was born there, but I come ness to tell Mrs. Van Brugh that Mr. Smailey is from there.
here to see her, by appointment? Dr. A. What are you?
Serv. Mr. Smailey, sir? Yes, sir. [Going. Ruth. I s'pose I'm a thief. I s'pose I'm what
Enter MR. FITZ PARTINGTON. gentlefolk thinks is wus than a thief. God help me! I s'pose I'm as bad as I can be. [Weeping. Fitz. (stopping SERVANT.) And his solicitor. Mrs. V. B. Are your parents alive ?
Mr. S. [with mild sternness.) You have followed Ruth. No, I never had no father-my mother me again, sir? was such as me. See here, lady-wot's to become Fitz. Followed you again, sir; according to of a gal whose mother was such as me? Mother! contract. Why I could swear before I could walk!
Mr. S. There is no contract between us that Dr. A. But were you not brought up to any entitles you to dog my footsteps as though you calling!
were hunting down a thief. Ruth. Yes, sir, I were; I were brought up to be Fitz. Hunting down a thief ? Oh, yes. To a thief. Every soul as I knowed was a thief, and enable me to assist you in blighting the character the best thief was the best thought on. Maybe a of the best and loveliest woman that ever shed a kid not long born ought to have knowed better. light upon a private detective's thorny path, I am I dunno, I must ha' been born bad, for it seemed to have the free run of your house and papers; I right enough to me. Well, it was in prison and am to accompany you wherever you go, and you out o' prison-three months here and six months are to introduce me everywhere as your solicitor. there-till I was sixteen. I sometimes thinks as Mr. S. Sir, you are not in the least like a soliciif they'd bin half as ready to show me how to go tor. You are a ridiculously dressed person. You right as they were to punish me for goin' wrong, I are like nothing in the world but what you are—a might have took the right turnin' and stuck to it private detective. I desire to press hardly on no afore this. At sixteen I got seven year for shop- fellow-creature, but you are a spy! that base and liftin', and was sent out to Port Philip. I soon got unutterably abject thing—a spy! a ticket and tried service and needlework, but no Fitz. Mr. Smailey, when you complain that you one wouldn't have me; and I got sick and tired find my society irksome, you have my profoundest of it all, and began to think o' puttin' a end to sympathy; I find it so myself. When you revile it, when I met a smooth-spoken chap—a gentle- my profession, my sentiments are entirely in acman, if you please -as wanted to save me from cord, for I have the very poorest opinion of it. the danger afore me. Well, wot odds? He was a But when you imply that I don't look the characpsalm-singing villain, and he soon left me. No ter I undertake to represent, why then, sir, you need to tell the rest—to such as you it can't be touch the private detective on the most sensitive told. I'm 'most as bad as I can be—as bad as I part of his moral anatomy. I'm not a blameless can be!
character, but if I undertook to personate the Mrs. V. B. I think not; I think not. What do Archbishop of Canterbury, I believe I should look you say, doctor?
the part, and my conversation would be found to Dr. A. (struggling with his tears.] Say, ma'am ? be in keeping with the character. I say that you, Ruth Tredgett, have been a most Mr. S. Pray, silence; oh, pray, pray, silence. discreditable person, and you ought to be heartily You shock me inexpressibly. It is most painful ashamed of yourself, Ruth Tredgett; and as a to me to have to resort to your assistance. My clergyman of the Church of England, I feel bound son, my dear son, bas engaged himself to marry to tell you that—that your life has been-has Mrs. Van Brugh's daughter. I have lately had been what God knows it couldn't well have helped reason to believe that there is something discredbeing under the circumstances.
itable in Mrs. Van Brugh's marriage relations, Mrs. V. B. Ruth Tredgett, I am very, very though I do not know its precise nature. You telí sorry for you. If you are willing to leave this un- me that you have a certain clue to this flaw,
though you decline to tell me what it is until your inghamshire farm upon her, on the usual terms proofs are matured. Well, sir, the Smaileys are a of a marriage settlement. I don't know the techvery old and very famous family. Caius Smaileius nical expression—but on the usual terms. came over with Julius Cæsar; his descendants Mr. S. The Buckinghamshire farm, yes. Thank have borne an untarnished scutcheon for eighteen you. I forget whether that is the leasehold or the hundred years. In its interest I am bound to em- freehold farm, for you have two. ploy you, and upon your own most exacting Mrs. V. B. You mustn't ask me. Your solicitor terms, though I cannot think of your contempti- knows. It's worth five hundred pounds a year, ble calling without a feeling of the most profound and that, I suppose, is the main point. abborrence.
Mr. S. Not altogether; the difference in value Fitz. Sir, I am heartily ashamed of it. may be prodigious. Have you a copy of the will ?
Mr. S. You are a professional impostor; a Mrs. V. B. No. I never saw the will. hired lie!
Mr. S. Never saw the will ? I think I have a Fitz. It is too true. I not only lie myself, but I copy of it at home—with your permission I will am the cause of lying in others.
go and fetch it, and the matter can be decided at Mr. S. For the lies that have to be told in ac- once. counting for you I hold you entirely responsible. Mrs. V. B. Do, by all means. I only know I wish that to be understood. I was
that my property is all my own, and that I can do of them altogether, and, when I think of the deep, what I like with it; and I assure you, Mr. Smaideliberate and utterly indefensible falsehoods ley, I avail myself of the privilege. that I have had to utter on your behalf, I tremble Mr. S. You do, indeed. And that reminds me, for your future-I tremble for your future ! Mrs. Van Brugb, that I am anxious to speak to Fitz. Unselfish man.
you on another topic-a topic of a singularly painMr. S. As for the preposterous terms you have ful character. I will endeavor, Mrs. Van Brugh, dictated
to approach it as delicately as possible. Fitz. Terms! I have secured to myself the un- Mrs. V. B. Indeed! [Alarmed.] You rouse my broken enjoyment of your desirable society for six curiosity, Mr. Smailey. Does it-does it refer in weeks, and, believe me, when I say that if I had any way to myself? been acquainted with the inexpressible charms Mr. S. Directly to yourself. of the most fascinating woman that ever shed a Mrs. V. B. (much alarmed.] May I ask in what light upon the private detective's thorny path, I way? wouldn't have undertaken the job-no, not even Mr. S. As I said before, it is a most difficult for a life-time of your society!
subject to approach, and I would willingly spare Enter MRS. VAN BRUGH.
you. Give me a moment to think how I can
best put it to you. Mrs. V. B. Good morning, Mr. Smailey. I am Mrs. V. B. (with half disguised emotion.] Pray sorry to have kept you waiting. [Aside.] That have no hesitation in telling me what it is. [With absurd little man with him again. [Aloud.] Good affected cheerfulness.] Does it—does it refer in morning, Mr.
any way to my--to my past life, for instance ? Fitz. Fitz Partington.
Mr. Š. It does refer to incidents in your past Mrs. V. B. Fitz Partington, of course.
life. To many incidents in general, and to one Fitz. (aside.] She might remember my name. incident in particular. . I can't conceive any circumstances under which I Mrs. V. B. (with suppressed agitation.) For could forget hers!
heaven's sake, sir, be explicit. Speak out, I imMr. S. Mr. Fitz Partington is entirely in my plore you. confidence. I brought him, because I believed Mr. S. You seem strangely agitated, Mrs. Van that his familiarity with legal forms might assist Brugh. us in our interview. You can speak without re- Mrs. V. B. No, no; I am ill and nervous toserve before Mr. Fitz Partington. (Aside to Fitz day. Your manner is rather alarming. [With PARTINGTON.) A lie, sir! Another lie, from first affected cheerfulness.) You know I'm a very bad to last !
hand at guessing riddles, Mr. Smailey. Come, Mrs. V. B. I suppose the facts will come before what is it? I give it up. (He hesitates.] Why Mr. Fitz Partington when they are decided on. have you any hesitation in telling me? The steps by which they are arrived at will only Mr. S. Because it involves a particularly delibore him. I'm sure Mr. Partington won't be angry cate moral point. [She is much agitated.] God with me, when I ask him to amuse himself in the bless me, you seem very much alarmed ! next room until preliminaries are arranged. Mrs. V. B. [with determination.] Mr. Smailey,
Fitz. Mrs. Van Brugh, I have made it a part once and for all, I insist upon knowing what it is. of my moral code to step without hesitation into Mr. S. Well, then, to be quite plain with you, any apartment you may think fit to indicate. (Exit. it is currently reported in the village that you
Mrs. V. B. Now, Mr. Smailey, about these set- have taken a miserable woman from the streets * tlements. I will tell you at once what I propose and established her in the character of a respectto do. My income is, as you know, a very large able workwoman within a hundred yards of this one-much
rger than any one would suppose spot. [MRS. VAN BRUGI, whose agitation and who judges from the quietness of my mode of life. alarm have been intense, is greatly relieved.] I am an odd woman, and I spend my money in Moreover, I have been informed that you have, my own way. I have very many claims upon it, for some years past, been in the habit of searching and, although I wish to deal handsomely with my out women of bad character who profess penidarling Eve, I must not disappoint those who tence, with a view of enabling them to earn their have counted upon me for some years past. To living in the society of blameless Christians. come to the point, I propose to settle my Buck- Mrs. V. B. I have.
Mr. S. I tell you at once, that I am loath to be- sulted respectable Christians. She thinks proper lieve this thing.
to suffer you to enter my presence. In so doing I Mrs. V. B. (with indignant surprise.] Why are consider that she has insulted me. I desire you you loath to believe this thing?
to understand that when a woman of your stamp Mr. S. Why? (Rises.] Because its audacity, enters the presence of a Christian gentleman, she-its want of principle, and, above all, its unspeak- Ruth. [who has been looking at him in wonder able indelicacy, shock me beyond the power of during this speech.] Smailey! That's never you ! expression.
[MR. SMAILEY fälls back in his chair.] Aye, Mrs. V. B. Mr. Smailey, is it possible that you Smailey, it's Ruth Tredgett! are speaking deliberately? Think of any blame- Mr. S. (very confused.] I did not know whom less woman whom you love and honor, and who is I was speaking to. loved and honored of all. Think of the shivering Ruth. But you knowed what you was speakin' outcast, whose presence is contamination, whose to, Jonas Smailey. Go on. I'm kinder curous to touch is horror unspeakable, whose very ex- hear what you've got to say about a woman o'my istence is an unholy stain on God's earth. Wo- stamp. I'm kinder curous to hear what Jonas man-loved, honored, courted by all. Woman Smailey's got to say about his own work.
-shunned, loathed and unutterably despised, but Mr. S. We meet in a strange way after so many still-woman. I do not plead for those whose ad- years. vantages of example and education render their Ruth. Yes, we do meet in a strange way. Seems fall ten thousand times more culpable. Let others to me it's suthin' of a topsy-turvy way. But it's speak for such as they. [With a broken voice.] a topsy-turvy world, ain't it? It may be that something is to be said, even for Mr. S. [recovering himself, with bland dignity.] them. I plead for those who have had the world I have no desire to press hardly on any fellowagainst them from the first-who with blunted creatureweapons and untutored hands bave fought society Ruth. (quietly.] Come, that's kind, anyhow. single-handed, and fallen in the unequal tight. God Mr. S. Perhaps, after all, you were not entirely help them!
to blame. Mr. S. Mrs. Van Brugh, I have no desire to Ruth. Well, p’raps not. press hardly on any fellow-creature, but society, Mr. S. Perhaps I myself was not altogether the grand arbiter in these matters, has decided without reproach in the matter. But, in my case, that a woman who has once forfeited her moral allowance should, in common charity, be made position shall never regain it.
for follies that arise from extreme youth andMrs. V. B. Even though her repentance be sin- and inexperience. I was barely forty then. cere and beyond doubt ?
Ruth. And I was just sixteen. Well, I forgive Mr. S. Even so.
you, along o' your youth, as I hope to be forgiven Mrs. V. B. Even though she fell unprotected, along o' my childhood. unadvised, perishing with want and chilled with Mr. S. [rises.] The tone you adopt is in the despair
worst possible taste. The misguided lady who Mr. S. Even so. For such a woman there is no has taken upon herself, most wickedly, to foist excuse—for such a woman there is no pardon. you upon society, has committed a fraud, which
Mrs. V. B. You mean no pardon on earth? Ruth. Stop there, Smailey! You're getting on Mr. S. Of course I mean no pardon on earth. dangerous ground. Best leave that lady alone. What can I have to do with pardon elsewhere? She's a bit chipped off heaven-she's good right
Mrs. V. B. Nothing. Mr. Smailey, when you through. She's—she's— I'm slow at findin' words have procured the will, I shall be ready to see that mean goodness. My words run mostly the you; but before you go, let me tell you that I am other way, wus luck. If I had to tell o' you, Smaiinexpressibly shocked and pained at the terrible ley, they'd come bandy and strong. I can't find theory you have advanced. (He endeavors to words that mean her! speak.] Oh, understand me, I do not charge you Mr. S. I have no wish to be hard on you, but it with exceptional heartlessness. You represent the is a fraud, andopinions of society, and society is fortunate in its Ruth. Fraud ? Fraud's a bad word to come mouthpiece. Heaven teaches that there is a par- from you, Smailey. I'd ha’thought you'd ha’fought don for every penitent. Earth teaches that there shy o that word for the rest o' your days. is one sin for which there is no pardon--when the Mr. S. (taken aback.] I don't know what you sinner is a woman!
refer to. Ruth has entered. She is quietly and decently bourne. What, yer recklect Martha Vane, do yer?
Ruth. I'm referrin' to Martha Vane, of Meldressed, and carries a parcel of needlework in
Mr. S. Martha Vane! Yes, I remember Vane. her hand.
Pooh! There is nothing to connect me with that Mr. S. (aside.] Mrs. Van Brugh, pray be quiet; matter. we are observed.
Ruth. Nothing? I've writin' of yours which is Mrs. V. B. By the subject of our conversation. fourteen year, if it's a day.
[Exit MRS. VAN BRUGH. Mr. S. And do you mean to say that you would Ruth. I beg pardon—I thought the lady was be guilty of such inhumanity—such devilish inhualone.
[Going. manity (I use the word "devilish” in its religious Mr. S. Stop, woman! [She turns and advances.] sense) —as to bring up an act of youthful follyDon't—don't approach me—we have nothing in guilt,' if you will —against me, now that I have common. Listen at a distance. Mrs. Van Brugh achieved wealth, reputation and social position ? has thought proper to place you on a pedestal Ruth. No; you're safe, Smailey. Bring it up that levels you, socially, with respectable Chris- agin yer now? Why, you may have repented, tians. In so doing, I consider that she has in- who knows? You was a bad lot, sure enough,
but that's twenty years agone, and you may ha'
Enter MRS. VAN BRUGH. repented.
Mrs. V. B. Has not Mr. Smailey returned ! Mr. S. I have; I'm an altered person-I-I- Fitz. No, ma'am, he has not. will make it well worth your while to give me up
[He shows traces of emotion. that writing you refer to. I will pay you very
Mrs. V. B. Mr. Fitz Partington, is anything the bandsomely for it.
matter? Ruth. Pay! no; I ain't on that lay. I'm square Fitz. Ma'am, you have come upon me in a
I'm a 'spectable woman. I only takes moment of professional conscientiousness. Avail money what I earns. It comes slow, but it comes yourself of it, for such moments are rare and fleetcomfortable.
ing. Beware of Smailey! Mr. S. Your sentiments do you credit. I con- Mrs. V. B. What in the world do you mean? fess I did not look for such delicacy of feeling in Fitz. I mean that he is endeavoring to prove you; it exalts one's idea of human nature. I am that—that you were not legally married to Capthankful for anything that exalts one's idea of hu- tain Van Brugh. man nature. Thank you, Tredgett. Give me Mrs. V. B. (intensely agitated.) Mr. Fitz Parthese papers.
tington, you cannot be aware of the full import of Ruth. No; I'm 'spectable, but I ain't a fool. I'll your words. What can be Mr. Smailey's motive keep 'em, case I want 'em.
for making these preposterous inquiries? Mr. S. As you please. Remember, Tredgett, I Fitz. That's just what I want to get at.
In a am a person of influence here, and a county mag- general way, it's sure to be something dirty. Peristrate
haps he thinks that the property you inherit from Ruth. What, d’you sit at quarter sessions ? Captain Van Brugh isn't legally yours, and thereMr. S. Certainly.
fore can't be settled by you on your daughter. Ruth. And sentence poor prigs ?
Mrs. V. B. But I inherited very little indeed Mr. S. Yes. Why do you ask ?
from Captain Van Brugh. The bulk of my propRuth. Nothing; go on-it's all topsy-turvy! erty was left me by my godfather.
Mr. S. I shall be happy if I can serve you in Fitz. Then I'm wrong. But does Smailey know any way. I shall always be glad to hear that you this? are doing well, and I feel certain that the admir- Mrs. V. B. Know it! Why, of course he knows able lady who has so kindly taken you in hand it. He's my godfather's nephew, and next-of-kin. will have no reason to regret her charity. It is Fitz. What! his next-of-kin? Next-of-kin is a easy to fall, and hard to rise again. Heaven bless fruitful expression. I see a whole plantation of those who extend a helping hand. I am very glad motives cropping out of “next-of-kin." Have you indeed that we have met. I've no wish to press a copy of the will ? hardly on any fellow-creature.
[Exit. Mrs. V. B. No. But Mr. Smailey has—indeed, Ruth. Jonas Smailey! Smailey here! "Things he has gone to fetch it. come about queerly. I seed bim last at t'other Fitz. Can you tell me the terms of the legacy ! end o' the world, and to meet him here! Who's Mrs. V. B. No, not precisely. I have never that?
seen the will. My solicitor has told me its pur
port in general terms. FITZ PARTINGTON has entered unobserved on tip- Fitz. Are you referred to in that will by your toe, and tapped her on the shoulder. married or maiden name?
Mrs. V. B. Oh, by my maiden name. Fitz. Come here. (Taking out note-book.) Your Fitz. You are sure of that? name's Ruth Tredgett ?
Mrs. V. B. Quite sure. At least, I feel quite Ruth. (surprised.] Aye.
sure. I can't be absolutely certain, but-oh, yes; Fitz. What are you?
I am sure of it. Ruth. A 'spectable woman. Wot are you?
Fitz. What was the date of the will ? Fitz. A detective.
Mrs. V. B. Eighteen fifty-six. Ruth. [falling back horrified.] Wot's it for? Fitz. What was the date of your marriage ? Fitz. Nothing. You ain't wanted, but your ad- Mrs. V. B. (after a pause.]
Eighteen fifty-six. dress is.
Fitz. My dear Mrs. Van Brugh, this is most Ruth. I'm living at Barker's, in the village. important. The news of your marriage might or Fitz. Present occupation ?
might not have reached the testator in Australia. Ruth. Needlewoman.
If there is any flaw in your marriage, and if you Fitz. Late occupation ?
are described in that will as Captain Van Brugh's Ruth. Tramp. There's nothin' agin me? wife, every penny you possess will revert to Smai
Fitz. Nothing against you, everything for you; ley. Now Smailey is a scoundrel. even this half crown.
Mrs. V. B. Mr. Fitz Partington, pray explain Ruth. I don't like p'leece money. I never took yourself. none yet, I ain't a-goin' to begin now. I wish yer Fitz. In the full conviction that what I am gogood day. I don't like p'leece money. [Exit. ing to say will be treated as confidential, I will
Fitz. I'm not a policeman, I'm a private detec- explain myself. I'm after Smailey. Smailey will tive; but we won't split hairs. (Pockets coin.) I soon be wanted. thought Smailey was my man, now I'm sure of it. Mrs. V. B. This is scarcely an explanation. Ha, ha! Now Smailey has a game. The ques- Fitz. Scarcely an explanation. Twenty years tion is, What is it? He says it's his scutcheon, but ago, when in Australia, Smailey forged a búrialthat is Walker, because his father was a wig- certificate to get some trust-funds into his possesmaker. However, it's quite clear that, whatever sion. The job was given to our house to investihis game may be, it is my duty to put that inesti- gate, only six weeks ago. Two days after, who mable woman on her guard.
should come to us for a detective to inquire into