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Cox. I therefore move the previous question, and_request my friend Box to pass the muffins this way. (MRS. Box and MRS. Cox tap their tea spoons on the table, aud cry "Bravo! bravo!" Box hands the plate of muffins to Cox)
Box. Where are the eggs? oh! (takes an egg from a plate) Well now, I dare say Mrs. Bouncer calls that an egg! I call it a humbug-a contemptible humbug! and I maintain that the principles of Free Trade are not carried out unless we are to have a large egg with our big loaf. I dare say that egg has been laid to order by some distressed hen, at twenty to the dozen.
Cox. And here's a mutton chop (holding a chop on his fork) that has been curiously adapted to a stomach of the meanest capacity.
Mrs. B. Where's the porter?
Box. (rings bell and runs to door) Porter-porter! Mrs. Bouncer.
Mrs. C. Do you indulge in porter, Mrs. Box?
Mrs. B. Yes, mem-I-hem !--hem!--I take it for my organ the organ requires nourishment. Malibran took porter, mem, for her organ-didn't she, Box?
Box. (re-seating himself) Extensively, my dear, in the pewter.
Enter MRS. BOUNCER with a pot of porter, 3 E. L. Mrs. Boun. The porter, Mr. Box. (puts it down and is going off)
Box. By-the-bye, Mrs. Bouncer, has that cabman brought home my umbrella yet,-a brown gingham umbrella, with brass spike and two broken ribs ?
Mrs. Boun. No, sir; I've heard nothing about it. (goes off L. 3 E.)
Cox. Very extraordinary, indeed!
Mrs. B. Can't we have a few hiseters, Box?
Mrs. C. Hiseters ?
Mrs. B. I hope hiseters don't offend?
Mrs. C. You mean oysters, my dear-vide Walker. Mrs. B. If he's of your acquaintance, Fanny, I mean to avide him.
Box. Tempora mutantur-let's have no temper on the
Mrs. C. You're very kind. (Box hands her an egg)
Box. Salt, Mrs. Cox! (hands her the salt) And allow me to recommend you some of these watercresses. (puts watercresses on her plate)
Mrs. C. Oh, thank you.
Box. What is the next article, Mrs. Cox?
Mrs. C. Nothing more at present.
Cox. Well, this is downright jolly-just the thing I like— a comfortable little family party, where we can enjoy Society of our partners, without-without
Box. Mustard! (reaches for it)
Cox. I didn't say without mustard, Box-far from it.
Cox. But this I will say that when we reflect upon our happiness as husbands
Box. It draws tears from my eyes.
Mrs B. Box!
Box. The mustard, my love--nothing but the mustard. Mrs. B. I should hope not, Box.
Cox. I have one observation to make it is that we should devote this day to harmless conviviality, and as we have breakfasted. we should dine together.
Ladies. (tapping the table) Hear, hear! Bravo! Encore! Box I know a first-rate establishment in the Old Kent Road, where we can have a splendid dinner-all the delicacies of the season-beer included - for eighteen-pence a-head. Mrs. B. No:-Greenwich is my weakness-shrimps and tea a shilling.
Mrs. C. I objects to Greenwich in totum; my feeling is for Rosherville.
Mrs. B. I hate Rosherville.
Mrs. C. And I abominate Greenwich; so I shall stop at home.
Mrs. B. Your absence shall not spoil our appetite, I pro mise you. (rises)
Mrs. C. But it may your temper. (rises)
Mrs. B. (L.) My temper ?--Ha, ha, ha! insignificant
Mrs. C. (R.) You're angry, dear.
Mrs. B. No, mem, I'm not!
Mrs. C. Yes, you are, love.
Mrs. C. Yes, darling, you are. (Box and Cox rise and come down)
Mrs. B. Box! pack up our trunks this moment and call a cab! I'll not remain another moment under this roof. (taking Box by the arm)
Cox. (interposing) Ladies, ladies, don't get warm. Come here! (Cox comes forward to c., the two LADIES come on either side of him) You (to MRS Box) stand for Greenwich, there and you, my dear, (to MRS. Cox) for Rosherville, there. Now, as we can't dine conveniently at both places, I propose an intermediate banquet at Blackwall, here. (touching his breast)
Mrs. B. Oh! I don't presume to dictate-anywhere but Rosherville.
Mrs. C. I've no voice in the matter-I only object to Greenwich.
Box. (L. C.) Well, that matter's settled. How shall we go down?
Mrs. B. (L.) What does Mrs. Cox say?
Mrs. C. (R. c.) I say nothing-I leave it to you, Sophyyou always oppose everybody.
Mrs. B. I deny that! It is you, Fanny, that will never give up a pint. But you can't help it, dear-you never could; and I've often said if ever there was ever a dear aggravating creature in the world, it was Fanny Hawes. (MRS. Cox laughs contemptuously; both LADIES go up stage)
Box. (aside and agitated) Fanny Hawes !-good gracious! -that name! If it should be- (aside to Cox) Cox! was your wife's name Hawes ?
Cox. (aside to him) Of course it was, till we were married, and Cox obliterated Hawes. Come, ladies, let us finish our breakfast. (sits at table) Another cup of coffee, Mrs. B? (the two LADIES re seat themselves at table)
Box. (apart L.) Fanny Hawes? Hah! (takes a white kid glove out of his pocket-book) It must be the mysterious owner of this little kid glove, that I purloined from an interesting fellow-passenger whom I travelled with in an excursion train from Brighton one evening about eighteen months ago. Hah! what delicious recollections it suggests of a small waist and a very large carpet bag! She evidently don't recollect mebut that's not surprising, as in the dim twilight, and the obscurity of a second-class carriage, neither of us could distinguish the other's features.
Mrs. B. Box! you havn't breakfasted
Box. Oh, yes, I have-don't mind me. (apart) She can't however, forget the attentive stranger, who carried her little dog on his knees during our journey-she can't forget the white kid glove that I've preserved ever since. Here's her name inside: "Fanny Hawes"-and here's a slight memorandum of my feelings written at the time. I wish I could speak a few words to her; I've some mournful intelligence to communicate to her, that I'd rather Mrs. Box shouldn't be aware of-but how to reveal myself?
Cox. Muffins all gone?
Box. (Apart) Muffins! happy idea-I'll place her glove under a muffin, and give it to her with a mysterious wink. (he goes to side table, takes the last muffin on a plate, which he brings down, L.) This is certainly a most ingenious plan. (he places the glove under the muffin) There, she can't miss it. Mrs. B. Box, dear, will you fetch me my shawl from the next room?
Box. Certainly, my love. (aside) Confound the shawl! (puts down plate with muffin on side table, and goes hastily into room, 2 E. L.)
Cox. Are there no more muffins? (rises and sees the muffins Box has left on table, L.) Oh, here's one left. (takes the muffin and returns to breakfast table.) I've a theory about muffins, that they're a curious combination of sponge and washleather; (endeavoring to cut the muffin) and I've strong sus picion that the leather predominates in this particular speci men-there's no cutting through it. Eh eh! what's this? (rises and holds up the glove on his fork) Well, really nowMrs. Bouncer-this is too bad though I am partial to muffins, -I can't swallow gloves!
Box appears at door, 2 E. L.
Mrs. B. Gloves. (they rise and come forward)
Cox. Yes, a lady's kid as I live, and what is heresomething written inside. (reads) "Fanny Hawes."
Mrs. C. My name?
Cox. And here on a slip of paper. April the 1st, 1851,— the happiest day of my life! oh, Fanny Hawes when shall we meet again?-Signed, "JOHN Box, Printer"-Hah! (Box rushes down, both ladies scream, Mrs. Box falling in a swoon into the arms of Cox, R., and Mrs. Cox into the arms of Box, L.)
Cox. Hah!-Box, you're a villain.
Cox. Drop my wife this instant, sir?
Box. I shan't, till you relinquish my better half.
Cox. Miserable subterfuge! As the husband of that lady, I demand your card, sir.
Box. You'll find it in my left-hand trowsers' pocket-come and take it?
Cox. I regret that the affair I have on hand prevents my availing myself of your polite offer.
Box. Nothing but the pressing nature of my present engagement could make me think of putting you to so much trouble.
Cox. Don't mention it, will you allow me to make one observation?
Box. Certainly, Cox, with pleasure.
Cox. Well, then; I had no idea that Mrs. Box was so ponderous.
Box. And I assure you, I am quite overpowered by the solidarity of Mrs. Cox. (a child is heard crying in room, R., another in room, L.) What's that? an infantine cry.
Mrs. C. (starting to her feet) The blessed child!
Mrs. B. (starting to her feet) The dear baby! (the LADIES rush into rooms, R. and L.)
Cox. Hem! The ladies having retired for the performance of their maternal duties, I presume we are alone.
Box. I believe I may venture to say we are.
Cox. Well, then, we must come to an understanding, sir. That glove (shows the glove) requires an explanation.
Box. (taking the glove) This glove-oh, yes! certainly. (puts the glove into his pocket) Ha! of course, my dear fellow,
Cox. I'd rather not.
Box. Sit down, I insist-(pushes him into a chair, R. C.) -now, we can talk the matter over calmly and dispassionately. (places chair for himself, L. c., and sits)
Cox. Proceed, Mr. Box.
Box. It was a lovely evening towards the close of the fourteenth century
Cox. What the devil have I do with the fourteenth century, sir?
Box. (rises) If the honorable gentleman on the opposite