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Enter MRS. BOUNCER, 3 E. L., carrying a tray with tea, coffee, &c.
Ah! Mrs. Bouncer,-breakfast-for four!
Mrs. Boun. There it is sir,-I thought as old friends you'd have it together. (lays tray on side table, c.) There it is. Tea, coffe, shrimps, muffins, eggs, fried bacon, muttonchops, and water-cresses. (puts articles on table c. as she names them)
Box. That will do for the present, we'll ring when we require more.
Exit MRS. BOUNCER, 3 E. L.
Mrs. C. (calling from room, R.) Cox! Cox!
Box. I've no doubt of it.
MRS BOX comes from 2 E. L, singing an opera air. Mrs. B. La, la, ra, la, la, &c. Dear me, I'm frightfully out of voice this morning: is breakfast ready, Box?
Box. Yes, my dear, we only wait for my old friend, Cox, whom I met accidentally here this moment-you've often heard me speak of him. We once lived together, and now we are going to breakfast together. I'll just go and finish dressing, and be back presently.
Exit, 2 E. L. Mrs. B. Dear me, I wonder how I look. I only dressed for Box, and here's Cox coming. (looks at herself in chimney glass)
Enter Mrs. Cox, 2 E. R.
Mrs. C. (crosses to L. as she enters) I'm curious to see this friend of Cox's. (perceives MRS. Box) Why surely it never can be
Mrs. B. (turning) Hey--bless me--Miss Hawes !
Mrs. C. Sophy Dawes !
Mrs. B. Excuse me, Fanny, but I've changed my name. I've taken Dawes out of the corner of my pocket handkerchief, and put Box in.
Mrs. C. I really beg pardon, ma'am: I wasn't aware of the circumstance, as I've been abroad at Margate since my marriage.
Mrs. B. (R. c.) What, are you gone and got married too? Mrs. C. Well, I hope I'm not infringing the rules of female propriety by saying, I've made Cox the happiest of his sex. Mrs. B. What a lark, to think we should have both got off the shelf at last!
Mrs. C. Off the shelf, mem-ha, ha, ha!
Mrs. B. Ha, ha, ha! (both laugh, and continue to laugh until Cox and Box re-enter dressed for breakfast)
Box. (to Cox) There's no need of introducing our wives, Cox-you see, they've affected an amalgamation already. Mrs. B. Oh, we're old friends-----
Mrs. C. Fondly attached companions! (apart to Cox) A forward little chorus singer at the theatres, who, to my knowledge, has been laying traps for every man she met, for the last fifteen years.
Mrs. B. (apart to Box, L. c.) A paltry straw bonnet maker, who was on her last legs when she inveigled this poor stupid Cox.
Cox. Well, I vote we go to breakfast
Mrs. C. Oh, bravo! I've got such an appetite. (she is going towards the head of the table, when MRS. Box rushes before her)
Mrs. B. Beg pardon, mem, but if there be anything I sticks up for, it's my rank--the printer's lady before the hatter's wife. (sits* at head of table, L. Box sits L. C., Cox
sits R. C.)
Mrs. C. Oh, mem, don't flurry yourself-I always give way to age. (sits at opposite end of table, R.)
Mrs. B. Age! why, my dear, when you was a grown young person at the bonnet trade, I was playing with my doll. Mrs. C. I remember the doll perfectly, Sophy; a remarkably large sized one it was, with red whiskers, and a strong Irish brogue
Cox. (rising) Ladies, ladies!
Although an advocate in
general for freedom of discussion, I'm afraid we're now touch
ing on delicate ground.
Box. Bravo! bravo!
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 matter. Allow me to propose an egg, Mrs. Cox.
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 likea comfortable little family party, where we can enjoy the 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 temper?--Ha,
Mrs. C. (R.) You're angry, dear.
Mrs. B. No, mem, I'm not!
Mrs. C. Yes, you are, love.
Mrs. B. I tell you I ain't!
Mrs. C. Yes, darling, you are. (Box and Cox rise and
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. 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