THE DOUBLE LIFE
A MELODRAMA IN FIVE ACTS AND EIGHT TABLEAUX
William Brodie, Deacon of the Wrights, Housebreaker and Master Carpenter
Old Brodie, the Deacon’s Father
William Lawson, Procurator-Fiscal, the Deacon’s Uncle
Robbers in the Deacon’s Gang
CaptainRivers, an English Highwayman
Hunt, a Bow Street Runner
Mary Brodie, the Deacon’s Sister
Jean Watt, the Deacon’s Mistress
Vagabonds, Officers of the Watch, Men-servants
The Scene is laid in Edinburgh. The Time is towards the close of the Eighteenth Century. The Action, some fifty hours long, begins at eight p.m. on Saturday and ends before midnight on Monday
OR THE DOUBLE LIFE
The Double Life
The Stage represents a room in the Deacon’s house, furnished partly as a sitting-, partly as a bed-room, in the style of an easy burgess of about 1780. C., a door; L.C., second and smaller door; R.C., practicable window; L., alcove, supposed to contain bed; at the back, a clothes-press and a corner cupboard containing bottles, etc.
Mary Brodie at needlework; Old Brodie, a paralytic, in wheeled chair, at the fireside, L.
To these, Leslie, C.
Leslie. May I come in, Mary?
Mary. Why not?
Leslie. I scarce knew where to find you.
Mary. The dad and I must have a corner, must we not? So when my brother’s friends are in the parlour he allows us to sit in his room. ‘Tis a great favour, I can tell you; the place is sacred.
Leslie. Are you sure that “sacred” is strong enough?
Mary. You are satirical!
Leslie. I? And with regard to the Deacon? Believe me, I am not so ill-advised. You have trained me well, and I feel by him as solemnly as a true-born Brodie.
Mary. And now you are impertinent! Do you mean to go any further? We are a fighting race, we Brodies. O, you may laugh, sir! But ‘tis no child’s play to jest us on our Deacon, or, for that matter, on our Deacon’s chamber either. It was his father’s before him: he works in it by day and sleeps in it by night; and scarce anything it contains but is the labour of his hands. Do you see this table, Walter? He made it while he was yet a ‘prentice. I remember how I used to sit and watch him at his work. It would be grand, I thought, to be able to do as he did, and handle edge-tools without cutting my fingers, and getting my ears pulled for a meddlesome minx! He used to give me his mallet to keep and his nails to hold; and didn’t I fly when he called for them! and wasn’t I proud to be ordered about with them! And then, you know, there is the tall cabinet yonder; that it was that proved him the first of Edinburgh joiners, and worthy to be their Deacon and their head. And the father’s chair, and the sister’s work-box, and the dear dead mother’s footstool — what are they all but proofs of the Deacon’s skill, and tokens of the Deacon’s care for those about him?
Leslie. I am all penitence. Forgive me this last time, and I promise you I never will again.
Mary. Candidly, now, do you think you deserve forgiveness?
Leslie. Candidly, I do not.
Mary. Then I suppose you must have it. What have you done with Willie and my uncle?
Leslie. I left them talking deeply. The dear old Procurator has not much thought just now for anything but those mysterious burglaries — —
Mary. I know! — —
Leslie. Still, all of him that is not magistrate and official is politician and citizen; and he has been striving his hardest to undermine the Deacon’s principles, and win the Deacon’s vote and interest.
Mary. They are worth having, are they not?
Leslie. The Procurator seems to think that having them makes the difference between winning and losing.
Mary. Did he say so? You may rely upon it that he knows. There are not many in Edinburgh who can match with our Will.
Leslie. There shall be as many as you please, and not one more.
Mary. How I should like to have heard you! What did uncle say? Did he speak of the Town Council again? Did he tell Will what a wonderful Bailie he would make? O, why did you come away?
Leslie. I could not pretend to listen any longer. The election is months off yet; and if it were not — if it were tramping up-stairs this moment — drums, flags, cockades, guineas, candidates, and all! — how should I care for it? What are Whig and Tory to me?
Mary. O, fie on you! It is for every man to concern himself in the common weal. Mr. Leslie — Leslie of the Craig! — should know that much at least.
Leslie. And be a politician like the Deacon! All in good time, but not now. I hearkened while I could, and when I could no more I slipped out and followed my heart. I hoped I should be welcome.
Mary. I suppose you mean to be unkind.
Leslie. Tit for tat. Did you not ask me why I came away? And is it usual for a young lady to say “Mr.” to the man she means to marry?
Mary. That is for the young lady to decide, sir.
Leslie. And against that judgment there shall be no appeal?
Mary. O, if you mean to argue! — —
Leslie. I do not mean to argue. I am content to love and be loved. I think I am the happiest man in the world.
Mary. That is as it should be; for I am the happiest girl.
Leslie. Why not say the happiest wife? I have your word, and you have mine. Is not that enough?
Mary. Have you so soon forgotten? Did I not tell you how it must be as my brother wills? I can do only as he bids me.
Leslie. Then you have not spoken as you promised?
Mary. I have been too happy to speak.
Leslie. I am his friend. Precious as you are, he will trust you to me. He has but to know how I love you, Mary, and how your life is all in your love of me, to give us his blessing with a full heart.
Mary. I am sure of him. It is that which makes my happiness complete. Even to our marriage I should find it hard to say “Yes” when he said “No.”
Leslie. Your father is trying to speak. I’ll wager he echoes you.
Mary (to Old Brodie). My poor dearie! Do you want to say anything to me? No? Is it to Mr. Leslie, then?
Leslie. I am listening, Mr. Brodie.
Mary. What is it, daddie?
Old Brodie. My son — the Deacon — Deacon Brodie — the first at school.
Leslie. I know it, Mr. Brodie. Was I not the last in the same class? (To Mary.) But he seems to have forgotten us.
Mary. O, yes! his mind is wellnigh gone. He will sit for hours as you see him, and never speak nor stir but at the touch of Will’s hand or the sound of Will’s name.
Leslie. It is so good to sit beside you. By and by it will always be like this. You will not let me speak to the Deacon? You are fast set upon speaking yourself? I could be so eloquent, Mary — I would touch him. I cannot tell you how I fear to trust my happiness to any one else — even to you.
Mary. He must hear of my good fortune from none but me. And, besides, you do not understand. We are not like other families, we Brodies. We are so clannish, we hold so close together.
Leslie. You Brodies, and your Deacon!
Old Brodie. Deacon of his craft, sir — Deacon of the Wrights — my son! If his mother — his mother — had but lived to see!
Mary. You hear how he runs on. A word about my brother and he catches it. ‘Tis as if he were awake in his poor blind way to all the Deacon’s care for him and all the Deacon’s kindness to me. I believe he only lives in the thought of the Deacon. There, it is not so long since I was one with him. But indeed I think we are all Deacon-mad, we Brodies. — Are we not, daddie dear?
Brodie (without, and entering). You are a mighty magistrate, Procurator, but you seem to have met your match.
To these, Brodie and Lawson
Mary (curtseying). So, uncle! you have honoured us at last.
Lawson. Quam primum, my dear, quam primum.
Brodie. Well, father, do you know me? (He sits beside his father, and takes his hand.)
(Old Brodie. William — ay — Deacon. Greater man — than — his father.
Brodie. You see, Procurator, the news is as fresh to him as it was five years ago. He was struck down before he got the Deaconship, and lives his lost life in mine.
Lawson. Ay, I mind. He was aye ettling after a bit handle to his name. He was kind of hurt when first they made me Procurator.)
Mary. And what have you been talking of?
Lawson. Just o’ thae robberies, Mary. Baith as a burgher and a Crown offeecial, I tak’ the maist absorbing interest in thae robberies.
Leslie. Egad, Procurator, and so do I.
Brodie (with a quick look at Leslie). A dilettante interest, doubtless! See what it is to be idle.
Leslie. ‘Faith, Brodie, I hardly know how to style it.
Brodie. At any rate, ‘tis not the interest of a victim, or we should certainly have known of it before; nor a practical tool-mongering interest, like my own; nor an interest professional and official, like the Procurator’s. You can answer for that, I suppose?
Leslie. I think I can; if for no more. It’s an interest of my own, you see, and is best described as indescribable, and of no manner of moment to anybody. (It will take no hurt if we put off its discussion till a month of Sundays.)
Brodie. You are more fortunate than you deserve. What do you say, Procurator?
Lawson. Ay is he! There’s no’ a house in Edinburgh safe. The law is clean helpless, clean helpless! A week syne it was auld Andra Simpson’s in the Lawn-market. Then, naething would set the catamarans but to forgather privily wi’ the Provost’s ain butler, and tak’ unto themselves the Provost’s ain plate. And the day, information was laid down before me offeecially that the limmers had made infraction, vi et clam, into Leddy Mar’get Dalziel’s, and left her leddyship wi’ no’ sae muckle’s a spune to sup her parritch wi’. It’s unbelievable, it’s awful, it’s anti-christian!
Mary. If you only knew them, uncle, what an example you would make! But, tell me, is it not strange that men should dare such things, in the midst of a city, and nothing, nothing be known of them — nothing at all?
Leslie. Little, indeed! But we do know that there are several in the gang, and that one at least is an unrivalled workman.
Lawson. Ye’re right, sir; ye’re vera right, Mr. Leslie. It had been deponed to me offeecially that no’ a tradesman — no’ the Deacon here himsel’ — could have made a cleaner job wi’ Andra Simpson’s shutters. And as for the lock o’ the bank — but that’s an auld sang.
Brodie. I think you believe too much, Procurator. Rumour’s an ignorant jade, I tell you. I’ve had occasion to see some little of their handiwork — broken cabinets, broken shutters, broken doors — and I find them bunglers. Why, I could do it better myself.
Leslie. Gad, Brodie, you and I might go into partnership. I back myself to watch outside, and I suppose you could do the work of skill within?
Brodie. An opposition company? Leslie, your mind is full of good things. Suppose we begin to-night, and give the Procurator’s house the honours of our innocence?
Mary. You could do anything, you two!
Lawson. Onyway, Deacon, ye’d put your ill-gotten gains to a right use; they might come by the wind, but they wouldna gang wi’ the water; and that’s aye a solatium, as we say. If I am to be robbit, I would like to be robbit wi’ decent folk; and no’ think o’ my bonnie clean siller dirling among jads and dicers. ‘Faith, William, the mair I think on’t, the mair I’m o’ Mr. Leslie’s mind. Come the night, or come the morn, and I’se gie ye my free permission, and lend ye a hand in at the window forbye!
Brodie. Come, come, Procurator, lead not our poor clay into temptation. (Leslie and Mary talk apart.)
Lawson. I’m no muckle afraid for your puir clay, as ye ca’t. But hark i’ your ear: ye’re likely, joking apart, to be gey and sune in partnership wi’ Mr. Leslie. He and Mary are gey and pack, a’body can see that.
Brodie. “Daffin, and want o’ wit” — you know the rest.
Lawson. Vidi, scivi, et audivi, as we say in a Sasine, William.) Man, because my wig’s pouthered do you think I havena a green heart? I was aince a lad mysel’, and I ken fine by the glint o’ the e’e when a lad’s fain and a lassie’s willing. And, man, it’s the town’s talk; communis error fit jus, ye ken.
Old Brodie. Oh!
Lawson. See, ye’re hurting your faither’s hand.
Brodie. Dear dad, it is not good to have an ill-tempered son.
Lawson. What the deevil ails ye at the match? ‘Od man, he has a nice bit divot o’ Fife corn-land, I can tell ye, and some Bordeaux wine in his cellar! But I needna speak o’ the Bordeaux; ye’ll ken the smack o’t as weel’s I do mysel’; onyway it’s grand wine. Tantum et tale. I tell ye the pro’s, find you the con.’s, if ye’re able.
Brodie. (I am sorry, Procurator, but I must be short with you.) You are talking in the air, as lawyers will. I prefer to drop the subject (and it will displease me if you return to it in my hearing).
Leslie. At four o’clock to-morrow? At my house? (To Mary.)
Mary. As soon as church is done. (Exit Mary.)
Lawson. Ye needna be sae high and mighty, onyway.
Brodie. I ask your pardon, Procurator. But we Brodies — you know our failings! (A bad temper and a humour of privacy.)
Lawson. Weel, I maun be about my business. But I could tak’ a doch-an-dorach, William; superflua non nocent, as we say; an extra dram hurts naebody, Mr. Leslie.
Brodie (with bottle and glasses). Here’s your old friend, Procurator. Help yourself, Leslie. O no, thank you, not any for me. You strong people have the advantage of me there. With my attacks, you know, I must always live a bit of a hermit’s life.
Lawson. ‘Od, man, that’s fine; that’s health o’ mind and body. Mr. Leslie, here’s to you, sir. ‘Od, it’s harder to end than to begin with stuff like that.
To these, Smith and Jean, C.
Smith. Is the king of the castle in, please?
Lawson (aside). Lord’s sake, it’s Smith!
Brodie (to Smith). I beg your pardon?
Smith. I beg yours, sir. If you please, sir, is Mr. Brodie at home, sir?
Brodie. What do you want with him, my man?
Smith. I’ve a message for him, sir; a job of work, sir.
Brodie (to Smith; referring to Jean). And who is this?
Jean. I am here for the Procurator, about my rent. There’s nae offence, I hope, sir.
Lawson. It’s just an honest wife I let a flat to in Libberton’s Wynd. It’ll be for the rent?
Jean. Just that, sir.
Lawson. Weel, ye can just bide here a wee, and I’ll step down the road to my office wi’ ye. (Exeunt Brodie, Lawson, Leslie, C.)
Smith, Jean Watt, Old Brodie
Smith (bowing them out). Your humble and most devoted servant, George Smith, Esquire. And so this is the garding, is it? And this is the style of horticulture? Ha, it is! (At the mirror.) In that case George’s mother bids him bind his hair. (Kisses his hand.) My dearest Duchess — — (To Jean.) I say, Jean, there’s a good deal of difference between this sort of thing and the way we does it in Libberton’s Wynd.
Jean. I daursay. And what wad ye expeck?
Smith. Ah, Jean, if you’d cast affection’s glance on this poor but honest soger! George Lord S. is not the nobleman to cut the object of his flame before the giddy throng; nor to keep her boxed up in an old mouse-trap, while he himself is revelling in purple splendours like these. He didn’t know you, Jean: he was afraid to. Do you call that a man? Try a man that is.
Jean. Geordie Smith, ye ken vera weel I’ll tak’ nane o’ that sort o’ talk frae you. And what kind o’ a man are you to even yoursel’ to the likes o’ him? He’s a gentleman.
Smith. Ah, ain’t he, just! And don’t he live up to it? I say, Jean, feel of this chair.
Jean. My! look at yon bed!
Smith. The carpet too! Axminster, by the bones of Oliver Cromwell!
Jean. What a expense!
Smith. Hey, brandy! The deuce of the grape! Have a toothful, Mrs. Watt. (Sings —
“Says Bacchus to Venus:
There’s brandy between us,
And the cradle of love is the bowl, the bowl!”)
Jean. Nane for me, I thank ye, Mr. Smith.
Smith. What brings the man from stuff like this to rotgut and spittoons at Mother Clarke’s? But ah, George, you was born for a higher spear! And so was you, Mrs. Watt, though I say it that shouldn’t. (Seeing Old Brodie for the first time.) Hullo! it’s a man!
Jean. Thonder in the chair. (They go to look at him, their backs to the door.)
Smith. Is he alive?
Jean. I think there’s something wrong with him.
Smith. And how was you to-morrow, my valued old gentleman, eh?
Jean. Dinna mak’ a mock o’ him, Geordie.
Old Brodie. My son — the Deacon — Deacon of his trade.
Jean. He’ll be his feyther. (Hunt appears at door C., and stands looking on.)
Smith. The Deacon’s old man! Well, he couldn’t expect to have his quiver full of sich, could he, Jean? (To Old Brodie.) Ah, my Christian soldier, if you had, the world would have been more variegated. Mrs. Deakin (to Jean), let me introduce you to your dear papa.
Jean. Think shame to yoursel’! This is the Deacon’s house; you and me shouldna be here by rights; and if we are, it’s the least we can do to behave dacent. (This is no’ the way ye’ll mak’ me like ye.)
Smith. All right, Duchess. Don’t be angry.
To these, Hunt, C. (He steals down, and claps each one suddenly on the shoulder.)
Hunt. Is there a gentleman here by the name of Mr. Procurator-Fiscal?
Smith (pulling himself together). D — n it, Jerry, what do you mean by startling an old customer like that?
Hunt. What, my brave ‘un? You’re the very party I was looking for!
Smith. There’s nothing out against me this time?
Hunt. I’ll take odds there is. But it ain’t in my hands. (To Old Brodie.) You’ll excuse me, old gentleman?
Smith. Ah, well, if it’s all in the way of friendship!... I say, Jean (you and me had best be on the toddle). We shall be late for church.
Hunt. Lady, George?
Smith. It’s a — — yes, it’s a lady. Come along, Jean.
Hunt. A Mrs. Deacon, I believe. (That was the name, I think?) Won’t Mrs. Deacon let me have a queer at her phiz?
Jean (unmuffling). I’ve naething to be ashamed of. My name’s Mistress Watt; I’m weel kennt at the Wyndheid; there’s naething again’ me.
Hunt. No, to be sure there ain’t; and why clap on the blinkers, my dear? You that has a face like a rose, and with a cove like Jerry Hunt, that might be your born father? (But all this don’t tell me about Mr. Procurator-Fiscal.)
Smith (in an agony). Jean, Jean, we shall be late. (Going with attempted swagger.) Well, ta-ta, Jerry.
To these, C., Brodie and Lawson (greatcoat, muffler, lantern)
Lawson (from the door). Come your ways, Mistress Watt.
Jean. That’s the Fiscal himsel’.
Hunt. Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, I believe?
Lawson. That’s me. Who’ll you be?
Hunt. Hunt the Runner, sir; Hunt from Bow Street; English warrant.
Lawson. There’s a place for a’ things, officer. Come your ways to my office with me and this guid wife.
Brodie (aside to Jean, as she passes with a curtsey). How dare you be here? (Aloud to Smith.) Wait you here, my man.
Smith. If you please, sir. (Brodie goes out, C.)
Brodie. What the devil brings you here?
Smith. Confound it, Deakin! Not rusty?
Brodie. (And not you only: Jean too! Are you mad?
Smith. Why, you don’t mean to say, Deakin, that you have been stodged by G. Smith, Esquire? Plummy old George?)
Brodie. There was my uncle the Procurator — —
Smith. The Fiscal? He don’t count.
Brodie. What d’ye mean?
Smith. Well, Deakin, since Fiscal Lawson’s Nunkey Lawson, and it’s all in the family way, I don’t mind telling you that Nunkey Lawson’s a customer of George’s. We give Nunkey Lawson a good deal of brandy — G. S. and Co.’s celebrated Nantz.
Brodie. What! does he buy that smuggled trash of yours?
Smith. Well, we don’t call it smuggled in the trade, Deakin. It’s a wink and King George’s picter between G. S. and the Nunks.
Brodie. Gad! that’s worth knowing. O Procurator, Procurator, is there no such thing as virtue? (Allons! It’s enough to cure a man of vice for this world and the other.) But hark you hither, Smith; this is all damned well in its way, but it don’t explain what brings you here.
Smith. I’ve trapped a pigeon for you.
Brodie. Can’t you pluck him yourself?
Smith. Not me. He’s too flash in the feather for a simple nobleman like George Lord Smith. It’s the great Capting Starlight, fresh in from York. (He’s exercised his noble art all the way from here to London. “Stand and deliver, stap my vitals!”) And the North Road is no bad lay, Deakin.
Smith (mimicking). “Three graziers, split me! A mail, stap my vitals! and seven demned farmers, by the Lard — — ”
Brodie. By Gad!
Smith. Good for trade, ain’t it? And we thought, Deakin, the Badger and me, that coins being ever on the vanish, and you not over sweet on them there lovely little locks at Leslie’s, and them there bigger and uglier marine stores at the Excise Office....
Brodie (impassible). Go on.
Smith. Worse luck!... We thought, me and the Badger, you know, that maybe you’d like to exercise your helbow with our free and galliant horseman.
Brodie. The old move, I presume? The double set of dice?
Smith. That’s the rig, Deakin. What you drop on the square you pick up again on the cross. (Just as you did with G. S. and Co.’s own agent and correspondent, the Admiral from Nantz.) You always was a neat hand with the bones, Deakin.
Brodie. The usual terms, I suppose?
Smith. The old discount, Deakin. Ten in the pound for you, and the rest for your jolly companions every one. (That’s the way we does it!)
Brodie. Who has the dice?
Smith. Our mutual friend, the Candleworm.
Brodie. You mean Ainslie? — We trust that creature too much, Geordie.
Smith. He’s all right, Marquis. He wouldn’t lay a finger on his own mother. Why, he’s no more guile in him than a set of sheep’s trotters.
(Brodie. You think so? Then see he don’t cheat you over the dice, and give you light for loaded. See to that George, see to that; and you may count the Captain as bare as his last grazier.
Smith. The Black Flag for ever! George’ll trot him round to Mother Clarke’s in two twos.) How long’ll you be?
Brodie. The time to lock up and go to bed, and I’ll be with you. Can you find your way out?
Smith. Bloom on, my Sweet William, in peaceful array. Ta-ta.
Brodie, Old Brodie; to whom, Mary
Mary. O Willie, I am glad you did not go with them. I have something to tell you. If you knew how happy I am, you would clap your hands, Will. But come, sit you down there, and be my good big brother, and I will kneel here and take your hand. We must keep close to dad, and then he will feel happiness in the air. The poor old love, if we could only tell him. But I sometimes think his heart has gone to heaven already, and takes a part in all our joys and sorrows; and it is only his poor body that remains here, helpless and ignorant. Come, Will, sit you down, and ask me questions — or guess — that will be better, guess.
Brodie. Not to-night, Mary; not to-night. I have other fish to fry, and they won’t wait.
Mary. Not one minute for your sister? One little minute for your little sister?
Brodie. Minutes are precious, Mary. I have to work for all of us, and the clock is always busy. They are waiting for me even now. Help me with the dad’s chair. And then to bed, and dream happy things. And to-morrow morning I will hear your news — your good news; it must be good, you look so proud and glad. But to-night it cannot be.
Mary. I hate your business — I hate all business. To think of chairs, and tables, and foot-rules, all dead and wooden — and cold pieces of money with the King’s ugly head on them; and here is your sister, your pretty sister, if you please, with something to tell, which she would not tell you for the world, and would give the world to have you guess, and you won’t? — Not you! For business! Fie, Deacon Brodie! But I’m too happy to find fault with you!
Brodie. “And me a Deacon,” as the Procurator would say.
Mary. No such thing, sir! I am not a bit afraid of you — nor a bit angry neither. Give me a kiss, and promise me hours and hours to-morrow morning?
Brodie. All day long to-morrow, if you like.
Mary. Business or none?
Brodie. Business or none, little sister! I’ll make time, I promise you; and there’s another kiss for surety. Come along. (They proceed to push out the chair, L.C.) The wine and wisdom of this evening have given me one of my headaches, and I’m in haste for bed. You’ll be good, won’t you, and see they make no noise, and let me sleep my fill to-morrow morning till I wake?
Mary. Poor Will! How selfish I must have seemed! You should have told me sooner, and I wouldn’t have worried you. Come along. (She goes out, pushing chair.)
(He closes, locks, and double-bolts the doors)
Brodie. Now for one of the Deacon’s headaches! Rogues all, rogues all! (Goes to clothes-press and proceeds to change his coat.) On with the new coat and into the new life! Down with the Deacon and up with the robber! (Changing neck-band and ruffles.) Eh God! how still the house is! There’s something in hypocrisy after all. If we were as good as we seem, what would the world be? (The city has its vizard on, and we — at night we are our naked selves. Trysts are keeping, bottles cracking, knives are stripping; and here is Deacon Brodie flaming forth the man of men he is!) — How still it is!... My father and Mary — Well! the day for them, the night for me; the grimy cynical night that makes all cats grey, and all honesties of one complexion. Shall a man not have half a life of his own? — not eight hours out of twenty-four? (Eight shall he have should he dare the pit of Tophet.) (Takes out money.) Where’s the blunt? I must be cool to-night, or ... steady, Deacon, you must win; damn you, you must! You must win back the dowry that you’ve stolen, and marry your sister, and pay your debts, and gull the world a little longer! (As he blows out the lights.) The Deacon’s going to bed — the poor sick Deacon! Allons! (Throws up the window and looks out.) Only the stars to see me! (Addressing the bed.) Lie there, Deacon! sleep and be well to-morrow. As for me, I’m a man once more till morning. (Gets out of the window.)
Hunt The Runner
The Scene represents the Procurator’s Office
Lawson (entering). Step your way in, Officer. (At wing.) Mr. Carfrae, give a chair to yon decent wife that cam’ in wi’ me. Nae news?
A Voice without. Naething, sir.
Lawson (sitting). Weel, Officer, and what can I do for you?
Hunt. Well, sir, as I was saying, I’ve an English warrant for the apprehension of one Jemmy Rivers, alias Captain Starlight, now at large within your jurisdiction.
Lawson. That’ll be the highwayman?
Hunt. That same, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal. The Captain’s given me a hard hunt of it this time. I dropped on his marks at Huntingdon, but he was away North, and I had to up and after him. I heard of him all along the York road, for he’s a light hand on the pad, has Jemmy, and leaves his mark. I missed him at York by four-and-twenty hours, and lost him for as much more. Then I picked him up again at Carlisle, and we made a race of it for the Border; but he’d a better nag, and was best up in the road; so I had to wait till I ran him to earth in Edinburgh here and could get a new warrant. So here I am, sir. They told me you were an active sort of gentleman, and I’m an active man myself. And Sir John Fielding, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, he’s an active gentleman likewise, though he’s blind as a himage, and he desired his compliments to you (sir, and said that between us he thought we’d do the trick).
Lawson. Ay, he’ll be a fine man, Sir John. Hand me owre your papers, Hunt, and you’ll have your new warrant quam primum. And see here, Hunt, ye’ll aiblins have a while to yoursel’, and an active man, as ye say ye are, should aye be grinding grist. We’re sair forfeuchen wi’ our burglaries. Non constat de personÃ¢. We canna get a grip o’ the delinquents. Here is the Hue and Cry. Ye see there is a guid two hundred pounds for ye.
Hunt. Well, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal (I ain’t a rich man, and two hundred’s two hundred. Thereby, sir), I don’t mind telling you I’ve had a bit of a worry at it already. You see, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, I had to look into a ken to-night about the Captain, and an old cock always likes to be sure of his walk; so I got one of your Scots officers — him as was so polite as to show me round to Mr. Brodie’s — to give me full particulars about the ‘ouse, and the flash companions that use it. In his list I drop on the names of two old lambs of my own; and I put it to you, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, as a gentleman as knows the world, if what’s a black sheep in London is likely or not to be keeping school in Edinburgh?
Lawson. Coelum non animum. A just observe.
Hunt. I’ll give it a thought, sir, and see if I can’t kill two birds with one stone. Talking of which, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, I’d like to have a bit of a confab with that nice young woman as came to pay her rent.
Lawson. Hunt, that’s a very decent woman.
Hunt. And a very decent woman may have mighty queer pals, Mr. Procurator-Fiscal. Lord love you, sir, I don’t know what the profession would do without ‘em!
Lawson. Ye’re vera richt, Hunt. An active and a watchful officer, I’ll send her in till ye.
Hunt (solus). Two hundred pounds reward. Curious thing. One burglary after another, and these Scots blockheads without a man to show for it. Jock runs east, and Sawney cuts west; everything’s at a deadlock and they go on calling themselves thief-catchers! (By Jingo, I’ll show them how we do it down South! Well, I’ve worn out a good deal of saddle-leather over Jemmy Rivers; but here’s for new breeches if you like.) Let’s have another queer at the list. (Reads.) “Humphrey Moore, otherwise Badger; aged forty, thick-set, dark, close-cropped; has been a prize-fighter; no apparent occupation.” Badger’s an old friend of mine. “George Smith, otherwise the Dook, otherwise Jingling Geordie; red-haired and curly, slight, flash; an old thimble-rig; has been a stroller; suspected of smuggling; an associate of loose women.” G. S., Esquire, is another of my flock. “Andrew Ainslie, otherwise Slink Ainslie; aged thirty-five; thin, white-faced, lank-haired; no occupation; has been in trouble for reset of theft and subornation of youth; might be useful as King’s evidence.” That’s an acquaintance to make. “Jock Hamilton otherwise Sweepie,” and so on. (“Willie M’Glashan,” hum — yes, and so on, and so on.) Ha! here’s the man I want. “William Brodie, Deacon of the Wrights, about thirty; tall, slim, dark; wears his own hair; is often at Clarke’s, but seemingly for purposes of amusement only; (is nephew to the Procurator-Fiscal; is commercially sound, but has of late (it is supposed) been short of cash; has lost much at cock-fighting;) is proud, clever, of good repute, but is fond of adventures and secrecy, and keeps low company.” Now, here’s what I ask myself: here’s this list of the family party that drop into Mother Clarke’s; it’s been in the hands of these nincompoops for weeks, and I’m the first to cry Queer Street! Two well-known cracksmen, Badger and the Dook! why, there’s Jack in the Orchard at once. This here topsawyer work they talk about, of course that’s a chalk above Badger and the Dook. But how about our Mohock-tradesman? “Purposes of amusement!” What next? Deacon of the Wrights? and Wright in their damned lingo means a kind of carpenter, I fancy? Why, damme, it’s the man’s trade! I’ll look you up, Mr. William Brodie, Deacon of the Wrights. As sure as my name’s Jerry Hunt, I wouldn’t take one-ninety-nine in gold for my chance of that ‘ere two hundred!
Hunt; to him, Jean
Hunt. Well, my dear, and how about your gentleman friend now? How about Deacon Brodie?
Jean. I dinna ken your name, sir, nor yet whae ye are; but this is a very poor employ for ony gentleman — it sets ill wi’ ony gentleman to cast my shame in my teeth.
Hunt. Lord love you, my dear, that ain’t my line of country. Suppose you’re not married and churched a hundred thousand times, what odds to Jerry Hunt? Jerry, my Pamela Prue, is a cove as might be your parent; a cove renowned for the ladies’ friend (and he’s dead certain to be on your side). What I can’t get over is this: here’s this Mr. Deacon Brodie doing the genteel at home, and leaving a nice young ‘oman like you — as a cove may say — to take it out on cold potatoes. That’s what I can’t get over, Mrs. Watt. I’m a family man myself; and I can’t get over it.
Jean. And whae said that to ye? They lee’d whatever. I get naething but guid by him; and I had nae richt to gang to his house; and O, I just ken I’ve been the ruin of him!
Hunt. Don’t you take on, Mrs. Watt. Why, now I hear you piping up for him, I begin to think a lot of him myself. I like a cove to be open-handed and free.
Jean. Weel, sir, and he’s a’ that.
Hunt. Well, that shows what a wicked world this is. Why, they told me — — . Well, well, “here’s the open ‘and and the ‘appy ‘art.” And how much, my dear — speaking as a family man — now, how much might your gentleman friend stand you in the course of a year?
Jean. What’s your wull?
Hunt. That’s a mighty fancy shawl, Mrs. Watt. (I should like to take its next-door neighbour to Mrs. Hunt in King Street, Common Garden.) What’s about the figure?
Jean. It’s paid for. Ye can sweir to that.
Hunt. Yes, my dear, and so is King George’s crown; but I don’t know what it cost, and I don’t know where the blunt came from to pay for it.
Jean. I’m thinking ye’ll be a vera clever gentleman.
Hunt. So I am, my dear; and I like you none the worse for being artful yourself. But between friends now, and speaking as a family man — —
Jean. I’ll be wishin’ ye a fine nicht. (Curtsies and goes out.)
Hunt. Ah! that’s it, is it? “My fancy man’s my ‘ole delight,” as we say in Bow Street. But which is the fancy man? George the Dook, or William the Deacon? One or both? (He winks solemnly.) Well, Jerry, my boy, here’s your work cut out for you; but if you took one-nine-five for that ere little two hundred you’d be a disgrace to the profession.
The Stage represents a room of coarse and sordid appearance: settles, spittoons, etc.; sanded floor. A large table at back, where Ainslie, Hamilton, and others are playing cards and quarrelling. In front, L. and R., smaller tables, at one of which are Brodie and Moore, drinking. Mrs. Clarke and women serving.
Moore. You’ve got the devil’s own luck, Deacon, that’s what you’ve got.
Brodie. Luck! Don’t talk of luck to a man like me! Why not say I’ve the devil’s own judgment? Men of my stamp don’t risk — they plan, Badger; they plan, and leave chance to such cattle as you (and Jingling Geordie. They make opportunities before they take them).
Moore. You’re artful, ain’t you?
Brodie. Should I be here else? When I leave my house I leave an alibi behind me. I’m ill — ill with a jumping headache, and the fiend’s own temper. I’m sick in bed this minute, and they’re all going about with the fear of death on them lest they should disturb the poor sick Deacon. (My bedroom door is barred and bolted like the bank — you remember! — and all the while the window’s open, and the Deacon’s over the hills and far away. What do you think of me?)
Moore. I’ve seen your sort before, I have.
Brodie. Not you. As for Leslie’s — —
Moore. That was a nick above you.
Brodie. Ay was it. He wellnigh took me red-handed; and that was better luck than I deserved. If I’d not been drunk and in my tantrums, you’d never have got my hand within a thousand years of such a job.
Moore. Why not? You’re the King of the Cracksmen, ain’t you?
Brodie. Why not! He asks me why not! Gods what a brain it is! Hark ye, Badger, it’s all very well to be King of the Cracksmen, as you call it; but however respectable he may have the misfortune to be, one’s friend is one’s friend, and as such must be severely let alone. What! shall there be no more honour among thieves than there is honesty among politicians? Why, man, if under heaven there were but one poor lock unpicked, and that the lock of one whose claret you’ve drunk, and who has babbled of woman across your own mahogany — that lock, sir, were entirely sacred. Sacred as the Kirk of Scotland; sacred as King George upon his throne; sacred as the memory of Bruce and Bannockburn.
Moore. O, rot! I ain’t a parson, I ain’t; I never had no college education. Business is business. That’s wot’s the matter with me.
Brodie. Ay, so we said when you lost that fight with Newcastle Jemmy, and sent us home all poor men. That was a nick above you.
Moore. Newcastle Jemmy! Muck: that’s my opinion of him: muck. I’ll mop the floor up with him any day, if so be as you or any on ‘em ‘ll make it worth my while. If not, muck! That’s my motto. Wot I now ses is, about that ‘ere crib at Leslie’s, wos I right, I ses? or wos I wrong? That’s wot’s the matter with you.
Brodie. You are both right and wrong. You dared me to do it. I was drunk; I was upon my mettle; and I as good as did it. More than that, blackguardly as it was, I enjoyed the doing. He is my friend. He had dined with me that day, and I felt like a man in a story. I climbed his wall, I crawled along his pantry roof, I mounted his window-sill. That one turn of my wrist — you know it! — and the casement was open. It was as dark as the pit, and I thought I’d won my wager, when, phewt! down went something inside, and down went somebody with it. I made one leap, and was off like a rocket. It was my poor friend in person; and if he’d caught and passed me on to the watchman under the window, I should have felt no viler rogue than I feel just now.
Moore. I s’pose he knows you pretty well by this time?
Brodie. ‘Tis the worst of friendship. Here, Kirsty, fill these glasses. Moore, here’s better luck — and a more honourable plant! — next time.
Moore. Deacon, I looks towards you. But it looks thundering like rotten eggs, don’t it?
Brodie. I think not. I was masked, for one thing, and for another I was as quick as lightning. He suspects me so little that he dined with me this very afternoon.
Moore. Anyway, you ain’t game to try it on again, I’ll lay odds on that. Once bit, twice shy. That’s your motto.
Brodie. Right again. I’ll put my alibi to a better use. And, Badger, one word in your ear: there’s no Newcastle Jemmy about me. Drop the subject, and for good, or I shall drop you. (He rises, and walks backwards and forwards, a little unsteadily; then returns, and sits, L., as before.)
To these, Hunt, disguised
He is disguised as a “flying stationer” with a patch over his eye. He sits at table opposite Brodie’s, and is served with bread and cheese and beer.
Hamilton (from behind). The deevil tak’ the cairts!
Ainslie. Hoot, man, dinna blame the cairts.
Moore. Look here, Deacon, I mean business, I do. (Hunt looks up at the name of “Deacon.”)
Brodie. Gad, Badger, I never meet you that you do not. (You have a set of the most commercial intentions!) You make me blush.
Moore. That’s all blazing fine, that is! But wot I ses is, wot about the chips? That’s what I ses. I’m after that thundering old Excise Office, I am. That’s my motto.
Brodie. ‘Tis a very good motto, and at your lips, Badger, it kind of warms my heart. But it’s not mine.
Moore. Muck! why not?
Brodie. ‘Tis too big and too dangerous. I shirk King George; he has a fat pocket, but he has a long arm. (You pilfer sixpence from him, and it’s three hundred reward for you, and a hue and cry from Tophet to the stars.) It ceases to be business; it turns politics, and I’m not a politician, Mr. Moore. (Rising.) I’m only Deacon Brodie.
Moore. All right. I can wait.
Brodie (seeing Hunt). Ha, a new face — and with a patch! (There’s nothing under heaven I like so dearly as a new face with a patch.) Who the devil, sir, are you that own it? And where did you get it? And how much will you take for it second-hand?
Hunt. Well, sir, to tell you the truth — (Brodie bows) — it’s not for sale. But it’s my own, and I’ll drink your honour’s health in anything.
Brodie. An Englishman, too! Badger, behold a countryman. What are you, and what part of southern Scotland do you come from?
Hunt. Well, your honour, to tell you the honest truth — —
Brodie (bowing). Your obleeged!
Hunt. I knows a gentleman when I sees him, your honour (and, to tell your honour the truth — —
Brodie. Je vous baise les mains! [Bowing.])
Hunt. A gentleman is a gentleman, your honour (is always a gentleman, and to tell you the honest truth) —
Brodie. Great heavens! answer in three words, and be hanged to you! What are you, and where are you from?
Hunt. A patter-cove from Seven Dials.
Brodie. Is it possible? All my life long have I been pining to meet with a patter-cove from Seven Dials! Embrace me, at a distance. (A patter-cove from Seven Dials!) Go, fill yourself as drunk as you dare, at my expense. Anything he likes, Mrs. Clarke. He’s a patter-cove from Seven Dials. Hillo! what’s all this?
Ainslie. Dod, I’m for nae mair! (At back, and rising.)
Players. Sit down, Ainslie. — Sit down, Andra. — Ma revenge!
Ainslie. Na, na, I’m for canny goin’. (Coming forward with bottle.) Deacon, let’s see your gless.
Brodie. Not an inch of it.
Moore. No rotten shirking, Deacon!
(Ainslie. I’m sayin’, man, let’s see your gless.
Brodie. Go to the deuce!)
Ainslie. But I’m sayin’ — —
Brodie. Haven’t I to play to-night?
Ainslie. But, man, ye’ll drink to bonnie Jean Watt?
Brodie. Ay, I’ll follow you there. Ã€ la reine de mes amours! (Drinks.) What fiend put this in your way, you hound? You’ve filled me with raw stuff. By the muckle deil! — —
Moore. Don’t hit him, Deacon; tell his mother.
Hunt (aside). Oho!
To these, Smith, Rivers
Smith. Where’s my beloved? Deakin, my beauty, where are you? Come to the arms of George, and let him introduce you. Capting Starlight Rivers! Capting, the Deakin: Deakin, the Capting. An English nobleman on the grand tour, to open his mind, by the Lard!
Rivers. Stupendiously pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Deaking, split me!
Brodie. We don’t often see England’s heroes our way, Captain, but when we do, we make them infernally welcome.
Rivers. Prettily put, sink me! (A demned genteel sentiment, stap my vitals!)
Brodie. O Captain! you flatter me. (We Scotsmen have our qualities, I suppose, but we are but rough and ready at the best. There’s nothing like your Englishman for genuine distinction. He is nearer France than we are, and smells of his neighbourhood. That d — — d thing, the je ne sais quoi, too! Lard, Lard, split me! stap my vitals! O such manners are pure, pure, pure. They are, by the shade of Claude Duval!)
Rivers. Mr. Deakin, Mr. Deakin (this is passatively too much). What will you sip? Give it the hanar of a neam.
Brodie. By these most hanarable hands now, Captain, you shall not. On such an occasion I could play host with Lucifer himself. Here, Clarke, Mother Midnight! Down with you, Captain (forcing him boisterously into a chair). I don’t know if you can lie, but, sink me! you shall sit. (Drinking, etc., in dumb-show.)
Moore (aside to Smith). We’ve nobbled him, Geordie!
Smith (aside to Moore). As neat as ninepence! He’s taking it down like mother’s milk. But there’ll be wigs on the green to-morrow, Badger! It’ll be twopence and toddle with George Smith.
Moore. O, muck! Who’s afraid of him? (To Ainslie.) Hang on, Slinkie.
Hunt (who is feigning drunkenness, and has overheard; aside). By Jingo!
Rivers. Will you sneeze, Mr. Deakin, sir?
Brodie. Thanks; I have all the vices, Captain. You must send me some of your rappee. It is passatively perfect.
Rivers. Mr. Deakin, I do myself the hanar of a sip to you.
Brodie. Topsy-turvy with the can!
Moore (aside to Smith). That made him wink.
Brodie. Your high and mighty hand, my Captain! Shall we dice — dice — dice? (Dumb-show between them.)
Ainslie (aside to Moore). I’m sayin’ — — ?
Moore. What’s up now?
Ainslie. I’m no’ to gie him the coggit dice?
Moore. The square ones, rot you! Ain’t he got to lose every brass farden?
Ainslie. What’ll like be my share?
Moore. You mucking well leave that to me.
Rivers. Well, Mr. Deakin, if you passatively will have me shake a helbow — —
Brodie. Where are the bones, Ainslie? Where are the dice, Lord George? (Ainslie gives the dice and dice-box to Brodie; and privately a second pair of dice.) Old Fortune’s counters; the bonnie money-catching, money-breeding bones! Hark to their dry music! Scotland against England! Sit round, you tame devils, and put your coins on me!
Smith. Easy does it, my lord of high degree! Keep cool.
Brodie. Cool’s the word, Captain — a cool twenty on the first?
Rivers. Done and done. (They play.)
Hunt (aside to Moore, a little drunk). Ain’t that ‘ere Scots gentleman, your friend, too drunk to play, sir?
Moore. You hold your jaw; that’s what’s the matter with you.
Ainslie. He’s waur nor he looks. He’s knockit the box aff the table.
Smith (picking up box). That’s the way we does it. Ten to one and no takers!
Brodie. Deuces again! More liquor, Mother Clarke!
Smith. Hooray, our side! (Pouring out.) George and his pal for ever!
Brodie. Deuces again, by heaven! Another?
Brodie. Ten more; money’s made to go. On with you!
Brodie. Deuce-ace. Death and judgment! Double or quits?
Rivers. Drive on! Sixes.
Smith. Fire away, brave boys. (To Moore.) It’s Tally-ho-the-Grinder, Hump!
Brodie. Treys! Death and the pit! How much have you got there?
Rivers. A cool forty-five.
Brodie. I play you thrice the lot.
Rivers. Who’s afraid?
Smith. Stand by, Badger!
Brodie. My turn now. (He juggles in and uses the second pair of dice.) Aces! Aces again! What’s this? (Picking up dice.) Sold!... You play false, you hound!
Rivers. You lie!
Brodie. In your teeth. (Overturns table, and goes for him.)
Moore. Here, none o’ that. (They hold him back. Struggle.)
Smith. Hold on, Deacon!
Brodie. Let me go. Hands off, I say! I’ll not touch him. (Stands weighing dice in his hand.) But as for that thieving whinger, Ainslie, I’ll cut his throat between this dark and to-morrow’s. To the bone. (Addressing the company.) Rogues, rogues, rogues! (Singing without.) Ha! what’s that?
Ainslie. It’s the psalm-singing up by at the Holy Weaver’s. And, O Deacon, if ye’re a Christian man — —
The Psalm without: —
“Lord, who shall stand, if Thou, O Lord,
Should’st mark iniquity?
But yet with Thee forgiveness is,
That fear’d Thou mayest be.”
Brodie. I think I’ll go. “My son the Deacon was aye regular at kirk.” If the old man could see his son, the Deacon! I think I’ll — — . Ay, who shall stand? There’s the rub! And forgiveness, too? There’s a long word for you! I learnt it all lang syne, and now ... hell and ruin are on either hand of me, and the devil has me by the leg. “My son, the Deacon...!” Eh, God! but there’s no fool like an old fool! (Becoming conscious of the others.) Rogues!
Smith. Take my arm, Deacon.
Brodie. Down, dog, down! (Stay and be drunk with your equals.) Gentlemen and ladies, I have already cursed you pretty heavily. Let me do myself the pleasure of wishing you — a very — good evening. (As he goes out, Hunt, who has been staggering about in the crowd, falls on a settle, as about to sleep.)
END OF THE FIRST ACT
Evil and Good
The Stage represents the Deacon’s workshop; benches, shavings, tools, boards, and so forth. Doors, C., on the street, and L., into the house. Without, church bells; not a chime, but a slow, broken tocsin.
Brodie (solus). My head! my head! It’s the sickness of the grave. And those bells go on!... go on ... inexorable as death and judgment. (There they go; the trumpets of respectability, sounding encouragement to the world to do and spare not, and not to be found out. Found out! And to those who are they toll as when a man goes to the gallows.) Turn where I will are pitfalls hell-deep. Mary and her dowry; Jean and her child — my child; the dirty scoundrel Moore; my uncle and his trust; perhaps the man from Bow Street. Debt, vice, cruelty, dishonour, crime; the whole canting, lying, double-dealing, beastly business! “My son the Deacon — Deacon of the Wrights!” My thoughts sicken at it. (O, the Deacon, the Deacon! Where’s a hat for the Deacon, where’s a hat for the Deacon’s headache? (Searching.) This place is a piggery. To be respectable and not to find one’s hat.)
To him, Jean, a baby in her shawl, C.
Jean (who has entered silently during the Deacon’s last words). It’s me, Wullie.
Brodie (turning upon her). What! You here again? (you again!)
Jean. Deacon, I’m unco vexed.
Brodie. Do you know what you do? Do you know what you risk? (Is there nothing — nothing! — will make you spare me this idiotic, wanton persecution?)
Jean. I was wrong to come yestreen; I ken that fine. But the day it’s different; I but to come the day, Deacon, though I ken fine it’s the Sabbath, and I think shame to be seen upon the streets.
Brodie. See here, Jean. You must go now. I’ll come to you to-night; I swear that. But now I’m for the road.
Jean. No’ till you’ve heard me, William Brodie. Do ye think I came to pleasure mysel’, where I’m no’ wanted? I’ve a pride o’ my ain.
Brodie. Jean, I am going now. If you please to stay on alone, in this house of mine, where I wish I could say you are welcome, stay. (Going.)
Jean. It’s the man frae Bow Street.
Brodie. Bow Street?
Jean. I thocht ye would hear me. Ye think little o’ me; but it’s mebbe a braw thing for you that I think sae muckle o’ William Brodie ... ill as it sets me.
Brodie. (You don’t know what is on my mind, Jennie, else you would forgive me.) Bow Street?
Jean. It’s the man Hunt: him that was here yestreen for the Fiscal.
Jean. He kens a hantle. He.... Ye maunna be angered wi’ me, Wullie! I said what I shouldna.
Brodie. Said? Said what?
Jean. Just that ye were a guid frien’ to me. He made believe he was awfu’ sorry for me, because ye gied me nae siller; and I said, “Wha tellt him that?” and that he lee’d.
Brodie. God knows he did! What next?
Jean. He was that soft-spoken, butter wouldna melt in his mouth; and he keept aye harp, harpin’; but after that let-out, he got neither black nor white frae me. Just that ae word and nae mair; and at the hinder end he just speired straucht out, whaur it was ye got your siller frae.
Brodie. Where I got my siller?
Jean. Ay, that was it. “You ken,” says he.
Brodie. Did he? and what said you?
Jean. I couldna think on naething, but just that he was a gey and clever gentleman.
Brodie. You should have said I was in trade, and had a good business. That’s what you should have said. That’s what you would have said had you been worth your salt. But it’s blunder, blunder, outside and in (upstairs, down-stairs, and in my lady’s chamber). You women! Did he see Smith?
Jean. Ay, and kennt him.
Brodie. Damnation! — — No, I’m not angry with you, but you see what I’ve to endure for you. Don’t cry. (Here’s the devil at the door, and we must bar him out as best we can.)
Jean. God’s truth, ye are nae vexed wi’ me?
Brodie. God’s truth, I am grateful to you. How is the child? Well? That’s right. (Peeping.) Poor wee laddie! He’s like you, Jean.
Jean. I thocht he was liker you.
Brodie. Is he? Perhaps he is. Ah, Jeannie, you must see and make him a better man than his father.
Jean. Eh man, Deacon, the proud wumman I’ll be gin he’s only half sae guid.
Brodie. Well, well, if I win through this, we’ll see what we can dae for him between us. (Leading her out, C.) And now; go — go — go.
Lawson (without L.). I ken the way, I ken the way.
Jean (starting to door). It’s the Fiscal; I’m awa. (Brodie, L.)
To these, Lawson, L.
Lawson. A braw day this, William. (Seeing Jean.) Eh. Mistress Watt? And what’ll have brocht you here?
Brodie (seated on bench). Something, uncle, she lost last night, and she thinks that something she lost is here. VoilÃ .
Lawson. Why are ye no’ at the kirk, woman? Do ye gang to the kirk?
Jean. I’m mebbe no’ what ye would just ca’ reg’lar. Ye see, Fiscal, it’s the wean.
Lawson. A bairn’s an excuse; I ken that fine, Mistress Watt. But bairn or nane, my woman, ye should be at the kirk. Awa’ wi’ ye! Hear to the bells; they’re ringing in. (Jean curtsies to both, and goes out C. The bells, which have been ringing quicker, cease.)
Lawson (to Brodie, returning C. from door). Mulier formosa superne, William: a braw lass and a decent woman forbye.
Brodie. I’m no judge, Procurator, but I’ll take your word for it. Is she not a tenant of yours?
Lawson. Ay, ay; a bit house on my land in Libberton’s Wynd. Her man’s awa, puir body; or they tell me sae; and I’m concerned for her (she’s unco bonnie to be left her lane). But it sets me brawly to be finding faut wi’ the puir lass, and me an elder, and should be at the plate. (There’ll be twa words about this in the Kirk Session.) However, it’s nane of my business that brings me, or I should tak’ the mair shame to mysel.’ Na, sir, it’s for you; it’s your business keeps me frae the kirk.
Brodie. My business, Procurator? I rejoice to see it in such excellent hands.
Lawson. Ye see, it’s this way. I had a crack wi’ the laddie Leslie, inter pocula (he took a stirrup-cup wi’ me), and he tells me he has askit Mary, and she was to speak to ye hersel’. O, ye needna look sae gash. Did she speak? and what’ll you have said to her?
Brodie. She has not spoken; I have said nothing; and I believe I asked you to avoid the subject.
Lawson. Ay, I made a note o’ that observation, William (and assoilzied mysel’). Mary’s a guid lass, and I’m her uncle, and I’m here to be answered. Is it to be ay or no?
Brodie. It’s to be no. This marriage must be quashed; and hark ye, Procurator, you must help me.
Lawson. Me? ye’re daft! And what for why?
Brodie. Because I’ve spent the trust-money, and I can’t refund it.
Lawson. Ye reprobate deevil!
Brodie. Have a care, Procurator. No wry words!
Lawson. Do you say it to my face, sir? Dod, sir, I’m the Crown Prosecutor.
Brodie. Right. The Prosecutor for the Crown. And where did you get your brandy?
Brodie. Your brandy! Your brandy, man! Where do you get your brandy? And you a Crown official and an elder!
Lawson. Whaur the deevil did ye hear that?
Brodie. Rogues all! Rogues all, Procurator!
Lawson. Ay, ay. Lord save us! Guidsake, to think o’ that noo!... Can ye give me some o’ that Cognac? I’m ... I’m sort o’ shaken, William, I’m sort o’ shaken. Thank you, William! (Looking piteously at glass.) Nunc est bibendum. (Drinks.) Troth, I’m set ajee a bit. Wha the deevil tauld ye?
Brodie. Ask no questions, brother. We are a pair.
Lawson. Pair, indeed! Pair, William Brodie! Upon my saul, sir, ye’re a brazen-faced man that durst say it to my face! Tak’ you care, my bonnie young man, that your craig doesna feel the wecht o’ your hurdies. Keep the plainstanes side o’ the gallows. Via trita, via tuta, William Brodie!
Brodie. And the brandy, Procurator? and the brandy?
Lawson. Ay ... weel ... be’t sae! Let the brandy bide, man, let the brandy bide! But for you and the trust-money ... damned! It’s felony. Tutor in rem suam, ye ken, tutor in rem suam. But O man, Deacon, whaur is the siller?
Brodie. It’s gone — O how the devil should I know? But it’ll never come back.
Lawson. Dear, dear! A’ gone to the winds o’ heaven! Sae ye’re an extravagant dog, too. Prodigus et furiosus! And that puir lass — eh, Deacon, man, that puir lass! I mind her such a bonnie bairn.
Brodie (stopping his ears). Brandy, brandy, brandy, brandy, brandy!
Lawson. William Brodie, mony’s the long day that I’ve believed in you; prood, prood was I to be the Deacon’s uncle; and a sore hearing have I had of it the day. That’s past; that’s past like Flodden Field; it’s an auld sang noo, and I’m an aulder man than when I crossed your door. But mark ye this — mark ye this, William Brodie, I may be no’ sae guid’s I should be; but there’s no’ a saul between the east sea and the wast can lift his een to God that made him, and say I wranged him as ye wrang that lassie. I bless God, William Brodie — ay, though he was like my brother — I bless God that he that got ye has the hand of death upon his hearing, and can win into his grave a happier man than me. And ye speak to me, sir? Think shame — think shame upon your heart!
Brodie. Rogues all!
Lawson. You’re the son of my sister, William Brodie. Mair than that I stop not to inquire. If the siller is spent, and the honour tint — Lord help us, and the honour tint! — sae be it, I maun bow the head. Ruin shallna come by me. Na, and I’ll say mair, William; we have a’ our weary sins upon our backs, and maybe I have mair than mony. But, man, if ye could bring half the jointure ... (potius quam pereas) ... for your mither’s son? Na? You couldna bring the half? Weel, weel, it’s a sair heart I have this day, a sair heart and a weary. If I were a better man mysel’ ... but there, there, it’s a sair heart that I have gotten. And the Lord kens I’ll help ye if I can. (Potius quam pereas.) (He goes out.)
Brodie. Sore hearing, does he say? My hand’s wet. But it’s victory. Shall it be go? or stay? (I should show them all I can, or they may pry closer than they ought.) Shall I have it out and be done with it? To see Mary at once (to carry bastion after bastion at the charge) — there were the true safety after all! Hurry — hurry’s the road to silence now. Let them once get tattling in their parlours, and it’s death to me. For I’m in a cruel corner now. I’m down, and I shall get my kicking soon and soon enough. I began it in the lust of life, in a hey-day of mystery and adventure. I felt it great to be a bolder, craftier rogue than the drowsy citizen that called himself my fellow-man. (It was meat and drink to know him in the hollow of my hand, hoarding that I and mine might squander, pinching that we might wax fat.) It was in the laughter of my heart that I tip-toed into his greasy privacy. I forced the strong-box at his ear while he sprawled beside his wife. He was my butt, my ape, my jumping-jack. And now ... O fool, fool! (Duped by such knaves as are a shame to knavery, crime’s rabble, hell’s tatterdemalions!) Shorn to the quick! Rooked to my vitals! And I must thieve for my daily bread like any crawling blackguard in the gutter. And my sister ... my kind, innocent sister! She will come smiling to me with her poor little love-story, and I must break her heart. Broken hearts, broken lives!... I should have died before.
Mary (tapping without). Can I come in, Will?
Brodie. O yes, come in, come in! (Mary enters.) I wanted to be quiet, but it doesn’t matter, I see. You women are all the same.
Mary. O no, Will, they’re not all so happy, and they’re not all Brodies. But I’ll be a woman in one thing. For I’ve come to claim your promise, dear; and I’m going to be petted and comforted and made much of, although I don’t need it, and.... Why, Will, what’s wrong with you? You look ... I don’t know what you look like.
Brodie. O nothing! A splitting head and an aching heart. Well! you’ve come to speak to me. Speak up. What is it? Come, girl! What is it? Can’t you speak?
Mary. Why, Will, what is the matter?
Brodie. I thought you had come to tell me something. Here I am. For God’s sake out with it, and don’t stand beating about the bush.
Mary. O be kind, be kind to me.
Brodie. Kind? I am kind. I’m only ill and worried, can’t you see? Whimpering? I knew it! Sit down, you goose! Where do you women get your tears?
Mary. Why are you so cross with me? O, Will, you have forgot your sister! Remember, dear, that I have nobody but you. It’s your own fault, Will, if you’ve taught me to come to you for kindness, for I always found it. And I mean you shall be kind to me again. I know you will, for this is my great need, and the day I’ve missed my mother sorest. Just a nice look, dear, and a soft tone in your voice, to give me courage, for I can tell you nothing till I know that you’re my own brother once again.
Brodie. If you’d take a hint, you’d put it off until to-morrow. But I suppose you won’t. On, then, I’m listening. I’m listening!
Mary. Mr. Leslie has asked me to be his wife.
Brodie. He has, has he?
Mary. And I have consented.
Mary. You can say that to me? And that is all you have to say?
Brodie. O no, not all.
Mary. Speak out, sir. I am not afraid.
Brodie. I suppose you want my consent?
Mary. Can you ask?
Brodie. I didn’t know. You seem to have got on pretty well without it so far.
Mary. O shame on you! shame on you!
Brodie. Perhaps you may be able to do without it altogether. I hope so. For you’ll never have it.... Mary! ... I hate to see you look like that. If I could say anything else, believe me, I would say it. But I have said all; every word is spoken; there’s the end.
Mary. It shall not be the end. You owe me explanation; and I’ll have it.
Brodie. Isn’t my “No” enough, Mary?
Mary. It might be enough for me; but it is not, and it cannot be, enough for him. He has asked me to be his wife; he tells me his happiness is in my hands — poor hands, but they shall not fail him, if my poor heart should break! If he has chosen and set his hopes upon me, of all women in the world, I shall find courage somewhere to be worthy of the choice. And I dare you to leave this room until you tell me all your thoughts — until you prove that this is good and right.
Brodie. Good and right? They are strange words, Mary. I mind the time when it was good and right to be your father’s daughter and your brother’s sister.... Now!...
Mary. Have I changed? Not even in thought. My father, Walter says, shall live and die with us. He shall only have gained another son. And you — you know what he thinks of you; you know what I would do for you.
Brodie. Give him up.
Mary. I have told you: not without a reason.
Brodie. You must.
Mary. I will not.
Brodie. What if I told you that you could only compass your happiness and his at the price of my ruin?
Mary. Your ruin?
Brodie. Even so.
Brodie. It has an ugly sound, has it not?
Mary. O Willie, what have you done? What have you done? What have you done?
Brodie. I cannot tell you, Mary. But you may trust me. You must give up this Leslie ... and at once. It is to save me.
Mary. I would die for you, dear; you know that. But I cannot be false to him. Even for you, I cannot be false to him.
Brodie. We shall see. Let me take you to your room. Come. And, remember, it is for your brother’s sake. It is to save me.
Mary. I am a true Brodie. Give me time, and you shall not find me wanting. But it is all so sudden ... so strange and dreadful! You will give me time, will you not? I am only a woman, and.... O my poor Walter! It will break his heart! It will break his heart! (A knock.)
Brodie. You hear!
Mary. Yes, yes. Forgive me. I am going. I will go. It is to save you, is it not? To save you. Walter ... Mr. Leslie ... O Deacon, Deacon, God forgive you! (She goes out.)
Brodie. Amen. But will He?
Hunt (hat in hand). Mr. Deacon Brodie, I believe?
Brodie. I am he, Mr — — ?
Hunt. Hunt, sir: an officer from Sir John Fielding of Bow Street.
Brodie. There can be no better passport than the name. In what can I serve you?
Hunt. You’ll excuse me, Mr. Deacon.
Brodie. Your duty excuses you, Mr. Hunt.
Hunt. Your obedient. The fact is, Mr. Deacon (we in the office see a good deal of the lives of private parties; and I needn’t tell a gentleman of your experience it’s part of our duty to hold our tongues. Now), it comes to our knowledge that you are a trifle jokieous. Of course I know there ain’t any harm in that. I’ve been young myself, Mr. Deacon, and speaking — —
Brodie. O, but pardon me, Mr. Hunt, I am not going to discuss my private character with you.
Hunt. To be sure you ain’t. (And do I blame you? Not me.) But, speaking as one man of the world to another, you naturally see a great deal of bad company.
Brodie. Not half so much as you do. But I see what you’re driving at; and if I can illuminate the course of justice, you may command me. (He sits, and motions Hunt to do likewise.)
Hunt. I was dead sure of it: and ‘and upon ‘art, Mr. Deacon, I thank you. Now — (consulting pocket-book) — did you ever meet a certain George Smith?
Brodie. The fellow they call Jingling Geordie? (Hunt nods.) Yes.
Hunt. Bad character?
Brodie. Let us say ... disreputable.
Hunt. Any means of livelihood?
Brodie. I really cannot pretend to guess. I have met the creature at cock-fights (which, as you know, are my weakness). Perhaps he bets.
Hunt. (Mr. Deacon, from what I know of the gentleman, I should say that if he don’t — if he ain’t open to any mortal thing — he ain’t the man I mean.) He used to be about with a man called Badger Moore.
Brodie. The boxer?
Hunt. That’s him. Know anything of him?
Brodie. Not much. I lost five pieces on him in a fight; and I fear he sold his backers.
Hunt. Speaking as one admirer of the noble art to another, Mr. Deacon, the losers always do. I suppose the Badger cock-fights like the rest of us?
Brodie. I have met him in the pit.
Hunt. Well, it’s a pretty sport. I’m as partial to a main as anybody.
Brodie. It’s not an elegant taste, Mr. Hunt.
Hunt. It costs as much as though it was. And that reminds me, speaking as one sportsman to another, Mr. Deacon, I was sorry to hear that you’ve been dropping a hatful of money lately.
Brodie. You are very good.
Hunt. Four hundred in three months, they tell me.
Hunt. So they say, sir.
Brodie. They have a perfect right to say so, Mr. Hunt.
Hunt. And you to do the other thing? Well, I’m a good hand at keeping close myself.
Brodie. I am not consulting you, Mr. Hunt; ‘tis you who are consulting me. And if there is nothing else (rising) in which I can pretend to serve you...?
Hunt (rising). That’s about all, sir, unless you can put me on to anything good in the way of heckle and spur? I’d try to look in.
Brodie. O come, Mr. Hunt, if you have nothing to do, frankly and flatly I have. This is not the day for such a conversation; and so good-bye to you. (A knocking, C.)
Hunt. Servant, Mr. Deacon. (Smith and Moore, without waiting to be answered, open and enter, C. They are well into the room before they observe Hunt.) (Talk of the devil, sir!)
Brodie. What brings you here? (Smith and Moore, confounded by the officer’s presence, slouch together to right of door. Hunt, stopping as he goes out, contemplates the pair, sarcastically. This is supported by Moore with sullen bravado; by Smith with cringing airiness.)
Hunt (digging Smith in the ribs). Why, you are the very parties I was looking for! (He goes out, C.)
Brodie, Moore, Smith
Moore. Wot was that cove here about?
Brodie (with folded arms, half-sitting on bench). He was here about you.
Smith (still quite discountenanced). About us? Scissors! And what did you tell him?
Brodie (same attitude). I spoke of you as I have found you. (I told him you were a disreputable hound, and that Moore had crossed a fight.) I told him you were a drunken ass, and Moore an incompetent and dishonest boxer.
Moore. Look here, Deacon! Wot’s up? Wot I ses is, if a cove’s got any thundering grudge agin a cove, why can’t he spit it out, I ses.
Brodie. Here are my answers. (Producing purse and dice.) These are both too light. This purse is empty, these dice are not loaded. Is it indiscretion to inquire how you share? Equal with the Captain, I presume?
Smith. It’s as easy as my eye, Deakin. Slink Ainslie got letting the merry glass go round, and didn’t know the right bones from the wrong. That’s hall.
Brodie. (What clumsy liars you are!
Smith. In boyhood’s hour, Deakin, he were called Old Truthful. Little did he think — — )
Brodie. What is your errand?
Smith. After the melancholy games of last night, Deakin, which no one deplores so much as George Smith, we thought we’d trot round — didn’t us, Hump? — and see how you and your bankers was a-getting on.
Brodie. Will you tell me your errand?
Moore. You’re dry, ain’t you?
Brodie. Am I?
Moore. We ain’t none of us got a stiver, that’s wot’s the matter with us.
Brodie. Is it?
Moore. Ay, strike me, it is! And wot we’ve got to do is to put up the Excise.
Smith. It’s the last plant in the shrubbery, Deakin, and it’s breaking George the gardener’s heart, it is. We really must!
Brodie. Must we?
Moore. Must’s the thundering word. I mean business, I do.
Brodie. That’s lucky. I don’t.
Moore. O, you don’t, don’t you?
Brodie. I do not.
Moore. Then p’raps you’ll tell us wot you thundering well do?
Brodie. What do I mean? I mean that you and that merry-andrew shall walk out of this room and this house. Do you suppose, you blockheads, that I am blind? I’m the Deacon, am I not? I’ve been your king and your commander. I’ve led you and fed you and thought for you with this head. And you think to steal a march upon a man like me? I see you through and through (I know you like the clock); I read your thoughts like print. Brodie, you thought, has money, and won’t do the job. Therefore, you thought, we must rook him to the heart. And therefore, you put up your idiot cockney. And now you come round, and dictate, and think sure of your Excise? Sure? Are you sure I’ll let you pack with a whole skin? By my soul, but I’ve a mind to pistol you like dogs. Out of this! Out, I say, and soil my home no more.
Moore (sitting). Now look ‘ere. Mr. bloody Deacon Brodie, you see this ‘ere chair of yours, don’t you? Wot I ses to you is, Here I am, I ses, and here I mean to stick. That’s my motto. Who the devil are you to do the high and mighty? You make all you can out of us, don’t you? and when one of your plants goes cross, you order us out of the ken? Muck! That’s wot I think of you. Muck! Don’t you get coming the nob over me, Mr. Deacon Brodie, or I’ll smash you.
Brodie. You will?
Moore. Ay will I. If I thundering well swing for it. And as for clearing out? Muck! Here I am, and here I stick. Clear out? You try it on. I’m a man, I am.
Brodie. This is plain speaking.
Moore. Plain? Wot about your father as can’t walk? Wot about your fine-madam sister? Wot about the stone-jug, and the dock, and the rope in the open street? Is that plain? If it ain’t, you let me know, and I’ll spit it out so as it’ll raise the roof of this ‘ere ken. Plain! I’m that cove’s master, and I’ll make it plain enough for him.
Brodie. What do you want of me?
Moore. Wot do I want of you? Now you speak sense. Leslie’s is wot I want of you. The Excise is wot I want of you. Leslie’s to-night and the Excise to-morrow. That’s wot I want of you, and wot I thundering well mean to get.
Brodie. Damn you!
Moore. Amen. But you’ve got your orders.
Brodie (with pistol). Orders? hey? orders?
Smith (between them). Deacon, Deacon! — Badger, are you mad?
Moore. Muck! That’s my motto. Wot I ses is, Has he got his orders or has he not? That’s wot’s the matter with him.
Smith. Deacon, half a tick. Humphrey, I’m only a light weight, and you fight at twelve stone ten, but I’m damned if I’m going to stand still and see you hitting a pal when he’s down.
Moore. Muck! That’s wot I think of you.
Smith. He’s a cut above us, ain’t he? He never sold his backers, did he? We couldn’t have done without him, could we? You dry up about his old man, and his sister; and don’t go on hitting a pal when he’s knocked out of time and cannot hit back, for, damme, I will not stand it.
Moore. Amen to you. But I’m cock of this here thundering walk, and that cove’s got his orders.
Brodie (putting pistol on bench). I give in. I will do your work for you once more. Leslie’s to-night and the Excise to-morrow. If that is enough, if you have no more ... orders, you may count it as done.
Moore. Fen larks. No rotten shirking, mind.
Brodie. I have passed you my word. And now you have said what you came to say, you must go. I have business here; but two hours hence I am at your ... orders. Where shall I await you?
Moore. What about that woman’s place of yours?
Brodie. Your will is my law.
Moore. That’s good enough. Now, Dook.
Smith. Bye-bye, my William. Don’t forget.
Brodie. Trust me. No man forgets his vice, you dogs, or forgives it either. It must be done: Leslie’s to-night and the Excise to-morrow. It shall be done. This settles it. They used to fetch and carry for me, and now ... I’ve licked their boots, have I? I’m their man, their tool, their chattel. It’s the bottom rung of the ladder of shame. I sound with my foot, and there’s nothing underneath but the black emptiness of damnation. Ah, Deacon, Deacon, and so this is where you’ve been travelling all these years; and it’s for this that you learned French! The gallows ... God help me, it begins to dog me like my shadow. There’s a step to take! And the jerk upon your spine! How’s a man to die with a night-cap on? I’ve done with this. Over yonder, across the great ocean, is a new land, with new characters, and perhaps new lives. The sun shines, and the bells ring, and it’s a place where men live gladly; and the Deacon himself can walk without terror, and begin again like a new-born child. It must be good to see day again and not to fear; it must be good to be one’s self with all men. Happy like a child, wise like a man, free like God’s angels ... should I work these hands off and eat crusts, there were a life to make me young and good again. And it’s only over the sea! O man, you have been blind, and now your eyes are opened. It was half a life’s nightmare, and now you are awake. Up, Deacon, up, it’s hope that’s at the window! Mary! Mary! Mary!
Brodie, Mary, Old Brodie
Brodie has fallen into a chair, with his face upon the table. Enter Mary, by the side door, pushing her father’s chair. She is supposed to have advanced far enough for stage purposes before Brodie is aware of her. He starts up and runs to her.
Brodie. Look up, my lass, look up, and be a woman! I.... O, kiss me, Mary! give me a kiss for my good news.
Mary. Good news, Will? Is it changed?
Brodie. Changed? Why, the world’s a different colour! It was night, and now it’s broad day, and I trust myself again. You must wait, dear, wait, and I must work and work; and before the week is out, as sure as God sees me, I’ll have made you happy. O you may think me broken, hounds, but the Deacon’s not the man to be run down; trust him, he shall turn a corner yet, and leave you snarling! And you, Poll, you. I’ve done nothing for you yet; but, please God, I’ll make your life a life of gold; and wherever I am, I’ll have a part in your happiness, and you’ll know it, by heaven! and bless me.
Mary. O Willie, look at him; I think he hears you, and is trying to be glad with us.
Old Brodie. My son — Deacon — better man than I was.
Brodie. O, for God’s sake, hear him!
Mary. He is quite happy, Will, and so am I ... so am I.
Brodie. Hear me, Mary. This is a big moment in our two lives. I swear to you by the father here between us that it shall not be fault of mine if this thing fails; if this ship founders you have set your hopes in. I swear it by our father; I swear it by God’s judgments.
Mary. I want no oaths, Will.
Brodie. No, but I do. And prayers, Mary, prayers. Pray night and day upon your knees. I must move mountains.
Old Brodie. A wise son maketh — maketh — —
Brodie. A glad father? And does your son, the Deacon, make you glad? O heaven of heavens, if I were a good man!
END OF THE SECOND ACT
The Stage represents a public place in Edinburgh
Jean, Smith, and Moore
They loiter in L., and stand looking about as for somebody not there. Smith is hat in hand to Jean; Moore as usual
Moore. Wot did I tell you? Is he ‘ere or ain’t he? Now then. Slink by name and Slink by nature, that’s wot’s the matter with him.
Jean. He’ll no’ be lang; he’s regular enough, if that was a’.
Moore. I’d regular him; I’d break his back.
Smith. Badger, you brute, you hang on to the lessons of your dancing-master. None but the genteel deserves the fair; does they, Duchess?
Moore. O rot! Did I insult the blowen? Wot’s the matter with me is Slink Ainslie.
Smith. All right, old Crossed-in-love. Give him forty winks, and he’ll turn up as fresh as clean sawdust and as respectable as a new Bible.
Moore. That’s right enough; but I ain’t a-going to stand here all day for him. I’m for a drop of something short, I am. You tell him I showed you that (showing his doubled fist). That’s wot’s the matter with him. (He lurches out, R.)
Smith and Jean, to whom Hunt and afterwards Moore
Smith (critically). No, Duchess, he has not good manners.
Jean. Ay, he’s an impident man.
Smith. So he is, Jean; and for the matter of that he ain’t the only one.
Jean. Geordie, I want nae mair o’ your nonsense, mind.
Smith. There’s our old particular the Deacon, now. Why is he ashamed of a lovely woman? That’s not my idea of the Young Chevalier, Jean. If I had luck, we should be married, and retired to our estates in the country, shouldn’t us? and go to church and be happy, like the nobility and gentry.
Jean. Geordie Smith, div ye mean ye’d mairry me?
Smith. Mean it? What else has ever been the ‘umble petition of your honest but well-meaning friend, Roman, and fellow-countryman? I know the Deacon’s your man, and I know he’s a cut above G. S.; but he won’t last, Jean, and I shall.
Jean. Ay, I’m muckle ta’en up wi’ him; wha could help it?
Smith. Well, and my sort don’t grow on apple-trees, either.
Jean. Ye’re a fine, cracky, neebourly body, Geordie, if ye wad just let me be.
Smith. I know I ain’t a Scotsman born.
Jean. I dinna think sae muckle the waur o’ ye even for that; if ye would just let me be.
Hunt (entering behind, aside). (Are they thick? Anyhow, it’s a second chance.)
Smith. But he won’t last, Jean; and when he leaves you, you come to me. Is that your taste in pastry? That’s the kind of harticle that I present!
Hunt (surprising them as in Tableau I). Why, you’re the very parties I was looking for!
Jean. Mercy me!
Smith. Damn it, Jerry, this is unkind.
Hunt. (Now this is what I call a picter of good fortune.) Ain’t it strange I should have dropped across you comfortable and promiscuous like this?
Jean (stolidly). I hope ye’re middling weel, Mr. Hunt? (Going.) Mr. Smith!
Smith. Mrs. Watt, ma’am! (Going.)
Hunt. Hold hard, George. Speaking as one lady’s man to another, turn about’s fair play. You’ve had your confab, and now I’m going to have mine. (Not that I’ve done with you; you stand by and wait.) Ladies first, George, ladies first; that’s the size of it. (To Jean, aside.) Now, Mrs. Watt, I take it you ain’t a natural fool?
Jean. And thank ye kindly, Mr. Hunt.
Smith (interfering). Jean...!
Hunt (keeping him off). Half a tick, George. (To Jean.) Mrs. Watt, I’ve a warrant in my pocket. One, two, three: will you peach?
Jean. Whatten kind of a word’ll that be?
Smith. Mum it is, Jean!
Hunt. When you’ve done dancing, George! (To Jean.) It ain’t a pretty expression, my dear, I own it. “Will you blow the gaff?” is perhaps more tenderer.
Jean. I think ye’ve a real strange way o’ expressin’ yoursel’.
Hunt (to Jean). I can’t waste time on you, my girl. It’s now or never. Will you turn King’s evidence?
Jean. I think ye’ll have made a mistake, like.
Hunt. Well, I’m...! (Separating them.) (No, not yet; don’t push me.) George’s turn now. (To George.) George, I’ve a warrant in my pocket.
Smith. As per usual, Jerry?
Hunt. Now I want King’s evidence.
Smith. Ah! so you came a cropper with her, Jerry. Pride had a fall.
Hunt. A free pardon and fifty shiners down.
Smith. A free pardon, Jerry?
Hunt. Don’t I tell you so?
Smith. And fifty down? fifty?
Hunt. On the nail.
Smith. So you came a cropper with her, and then you tried it on with me?
Hunt. I suppose you mean you’re a born idiot?
Smith. What I mean is, Jerry, that you’ve broke my heart. I used to look up to you like a party might to Julius CÃ¦sar. One more of boyhood’s dreams gone pop! (Enter Moore, L.)
Hunt (to both). Come, then, I’ll take the pair, and be damned to you. Free pardon to both, fifty down and the Deacon out of the way. I don’t care for you commoners, it’s the Deacon I want.
Jean (looking off stolidly). I think the kirks are scalin’. There seems to be mair people in the streets.
Hunt. O, that’s the way, is it? Do you know that I can hang you, my woman, and your fancy man as well?
Jean. I daur say ye would like fine to, Mr. Hunt; and here’s my service to you. (Going.)
Hunt. George, don’t you be a tomfool, anyway. Think of the blowen here, and have brains for two.
Smith (going). Ah, Jerry, if you knew anything, how different you would talk! (They go off together, R.)
Hunt. Half a tick, Badger. You’re a man of parts, you are; you’re solid, you’re a true-born Englishman; you ain’t a Jerry-go-Nimble like him. Do you know what your pal the Deacon’s worth to you? Fifty golden Georges and a free pardon. No questions asked and no receipts demanded. What do you say? Is it a deal?
Moore (as to himself). Muck! (He goes out, R.)
Hunt, to whom Ainslie
Hunt (looking after them ruefully). And these were the very parties I was looking for! (Ah, Jerry, Jerry, if they knew this at the office!) Well, the market price of that ‘ere two hundred is a trifle on the decline and fall. (Looking L.) Hullo! (Slapping his thigh.) Send me victorious! It’s King’s evidence on two legs. (Advancing with great cordiality to meet Ainslie, who enters L.) And so your name’s Andrew Ainslie, is it? As I was saying, you’re the very party I was looking for. Ain’t it strange, now, that I should have dropped across you comfortable and promiscuous like this?
Ainslie. I dinna ken wha ye are, and I’m ill for my bed.
Hunt. Let your bed wait, Andrew. I want a little chat with you; just a quiet little sociable wheeze. Just about our friends, you know. About Badger Moore, and George the Dook, and Jemmy Rivers, and Deacon Brodie, Andrew. Particularly Deacon Brodie.
Ainslie. They’re nae frien’s o’ mine, mister. I ken naething an’ naebody. An’ noo I’ll get to my bed, wulln’t I?
Hunt. We’re going to have our little talk out first. After that perhaps I’ll let you go, and perhaps I won’t. It all depends on how we get along together. Now, in a general way, Andrew, and speaking of a man as you find him, I’m all for peace and quietness myself. That’s my usual game, Andrew, but when I do make a dust I’m considered by my friends to be rather a good hand at it. So don’t you tread upon the worm.
Ainslie. But I’m sayin’ — —
Hunt. You leave that to me, Andrew. You shall do your pitch presently. I’m first on the ground, and I lead off. With a question, Andrew. Did you ever hear in your life of such a natural curiosity as a Bow Street Runner?
Ainslie. Aiblins ay an’ aiblins no.
Hunt. “Aiblins ay an’ aiblins no.” Very good indeed, Andrew. Now, I’ll ask you another: Did you ever see a Bow Street Runner, Andrew? With the naked eye, so to speak?
Ainslie. What’s your wull?
Hunt. Artful bird! Now since we’re getting on so cosy and so free, I’ll ask you another, Andrew: Should you like to see a Bow Street Runner? (Producing staff.) ‘Cos, if so, you’ve only got to cast your eyes on me. Do you queer the red weskit, Andrew? Pretty colour, ain’t it? So nice and warm for the winter too. (Ainslie dives, Hunt collars him.) No, you don’t. Not this time. Run away like that before we’ve finished our little conversation? You’re a nice young man, you are. Suppose we introduce our wrists into these here darbies? Now we shall get along cosier and freer than ever. Want to lie down, do you? All right! anything to oblige.
Ainslie (grovelling). It wasna me, it wasna me. It’s bad companions; I’ve been lost wi’ bad companions an’ the drink. An’ O mister, ye’ll be a kind gentleman to a puir lad, and me sae weak, and fair rotten wi’ the drink an’ that. Ye’ve a bonnie kind heart, my dear, dear gentleman; ye wadna hang sitchan a thing as me. I’m no’ fit to hang. They ca’ me the Cannleworm! An’ I’ll dae somethin’ for ye, wulln’t I? An’ ye’ll can hang the ithers?
Hunt. I thought I hadn’t mistook my man. Now you look here, Andrew Ainslie, you’re a bad lot. I’ve evidence to hang you fifty times over. But the Deacon is my mark. Will you peach, or won’t you? You blow the gaff, and I’ll pull you through. You don’t, and I’ll scrag you as sure as my name’s Jerry Hunt.
Ainslie. I’ll dae onything. It’s the hanging fleys me. I’ll dae onything, onything no’ to hang.
Hunt. Don’t lie crawling there, but get up and answer me like a man. Ain’t this Deacon Brodie the fine workman that’s been doing all these tip-topping burglaries?
Ainslie. It’s him, mister; it’s him. That’s the man. Ye’re in the very bit. Deacon Brodie. I’ll can tak’ ye to his very door.
Hunt. How do you know?
Ainslie. I gi’ed him a han’ wi’ them a’. It was him an’ Badger Moore and Geordie Smith; an’ they gart me gang wi’ them whether or no: I’m that weak, and whiles I’m donner’d wi’ the drink. But I ken a’ an’ I’ll tell a’. And O kind gentleman, you’ll speak to their lordships for me, and I’ll no be hangit ... I’ll no be hangit, wull I?
Hunt. But you shared, didn’t you? I wonder what share they thought you worth. How much did you get for last night’s performance down at Mother Clarke’s?
Ainslie. Just five pund, mister. Five pund. As sure’s deith it wadna be a penny mair. No’ but I askit mair: I did that; I’ll no’ deny it, mister. But Badger kickit me, an’ Geordie, he said a bad sweir, an’ made he’d cut the liver out o’ me, an’ catch fish wi’t. It’s been that way frae the first: an aith an’ a bawbee was aye guid eneuch for puir Andra.
Hunt. Well, and why did they do it? I saw Jemmy dance a hornpipe on the table, and booze the company all round, when the Deacon was gone. What made you cross the fight, and play booty with your own man?
Ainslie. Just to make him rob the Excise, mister. They’re wicked, wicked men.
Hunt. And is he right for it?
Ainslie. Ay is he.
Hunt. By Jingo! When’s it for?
Ainslie. Dear, kind gentleman, I dinna rightly ken: the Deacon’s that sair angered wi’ me. I’m to get my orders frae Geordie the nicht.
Hunt. O, you’re to get your orders from Geordie, are you? Now look here, Ainslie. You know me. I’m Hunt the Runner: I put Jemmy Rivers in the jug this morning; I’ve got you this evening. I mean to wind up with the Deacon. You understand? All right. Then just you listen. I’m going to take these here bracelets off, and send you home to that celebrated bed of yours. Only, as soon as you’ve seen the Dook you come straight round to me at Mr. Procurator-Fiscal’s, and let me know the Dook’s views. One word, mind, and ... cl’k! It’s a bargain?
Ainslie.. Never you fear that. I’ll tak’ my bannet an’ come straucht to ye. Eh God, I’m glad it’s nae mair nor that to start wi’. An’ may the Lord bless ye, dear, kind gentleman, for your kindness! May the Lord bless ye!
Hunt. You pad the hoof.
Ainslie (going out). An’ so I wull, wulln’t I not? An’ bless, bless ye while there’s breath in my body, wulln’t I not?
Hunt (solus). You’re a nice young man, Andrew Ainslie. Jemmy Rivers and the Deacon in two days! By Jingo! (He dances an instant gravely, whistling to himself.) Jerry, that ‘ere little two hundred of ours is as safe as the bank.
The Stage represents a room in Leslie’s house. A practicable window, C., through which a band of strong moonlight falls into the room. Near the window a strong-box. A practicable door in wing, L. Candlelight
Leslie, Lawson, Mary, seated. Brodie at back, walking between the windows and the strong-box
Lawson. Weel, weel, weel, weel, nae doubt.
Leslie. Mr. Lawson, I am perfectly satisfied with Brodie’s word; I will wait gladly.
Lawson. I have nothing to say against that.
Brodie (behind Lawson). Nor for it.
Lawson. For it? for it, William? Ye’re perfectly richt there. (To Leslie.) Just you do what William tells you; ye canna do better than that.
Mary. Dear uncle, I see you are vexed; but Will and I are perfectly agreed on the best course. Walter and I are young. O, we can wait; we can trust each other.
Brodie (from behind). Leslie, do you think it safe to keep this strong-box in your room?
Leslie. It does not trouble me.
Brodie. I would not. ‘Tis close to the window.
Leslie. It’s on the right side of it.
Brodie. I give you my advice: I would not.
Lawson. He may be right there too, Mr. Leslie.
Brodie. I give him fair warning: it’s not safe.
Leslie. I have a different treasure to concern myself about; if all goes right with that I shall be well contented.
Lawson. Ay, bairns, ye speak for your age.
Leslie. Surely, sir, for every age: the ties of blood, of love, of friendship, these are life’s essence.
Mary. And for no one is it truer than my uncle. If he live to be a thousand, he will still be young in heart, full of love, full of trust.
Lawson. Ah, lassie, it’s a wicked world.
Mary. Yes, you are out of sorts to-day; we know that.
Leslie. Admitted that you know more of life, sir; admitted (if you please) that the world is wicked; yet you do not lose trust in those you love.
Lawson. Weel ... ye get gliffs, ye ken.
Leslie. I suppose so. We can all be shaken for a time; but not, I think, in our friends. We are not deceived in them; in the few that we admit into our hearts.
Mary. Never in these.
Leslie. We know these (to Brodie), and we think the world of them.
Brodie (at back). We are more acquainted with each other’s tailors, believe me. You, Leslie, are a very pleasant creature. My uncle Lawson is the Procurator-Fiscal. I — what am I? I am the Deacon of the Wrights; my ruffles are generally clean; and you think the world of me. Bravo!
Leslie. Ay, and I think the world of you.
Brodie (at back, pointing to Lawson). Ask him.
Lawson. Hoot-toot. A wheen nonsense: an honest man’s an honest man, and a randy thief’s a randy thief, and neither mair nor less. Mary, my lamb, it’s time you were hame, and had your beauty sleep.
Mary. Do you not come with us?
Lawson. I gang the ither gate, my lamb. (Leslie helps Mary on with her cloak, and they say farewell at back. Brodie, for the first time, comes front with Lawson.) Sae ye’ve consented?
Brodie. As you see.
Lawson. Ye’ll can pay it back?
Brodie. I will.
Lawson. And how? That’s what I’m wonderin’ to mysel’.
Brodie. Ay, God knows that.
Mary. Come, Will.
Leslie, Lawson (wrapping up)
Leslie. I wonder what ails Brodie?
Lawson. How should I ken? What should I ken that ails him?
Leslie. He seemed angry even with you.
Lawson (impatient). Hoot awa’!
Leslie. Of course, I know. But you see, on the very day when our engagement is announced, even the best of men may be susceptible. You yourself seem not quite pleased.
Lawson (with great irritation). I’m perfectly pleased. I’m perfectly delighted. If I werena an auld man, I’d be just beside mysel’ wi’ happiness.
Leslie. Well, I only fancied ...
Lawson. Ye had nae possible excuse to fancy. Fancy? Perfect trash and nonsense. Look at yersel’. Ye look like a ghaist, ye’re white-like, ye’re black aboot the een; and do you find me deavin’ ye wi’ fancies? Or William Brodie either? I’ll say that for him.
Leslie. ‘Tis not sorrow that alters my complexion; I’ve something else on hand. Come, I’ll tell you, under seal. I’ve not been in bed till daylight for a week.
Lawson. Weel, there’s nae sense in the like o’ that.
Leslie. Gad, but there is, though. Why, Procurator, this is town’s business; this is a municipal affair; I’m a public character. Why? Ah, here’s a nut for the Crown Prosecutor! I’m a bit of a party to a robbery.
Lawson. Guid guide us, man, what d’ye mean?
Leslie. You shall hear. A week ago to-night I was passing through this very room without a candle on my way to bed, when ... what should I see but a masked man fumbling at that window! How he did the Lord knows. I suspect, Procurator, it was not the first he’d tried ... for he opened it as handily as his own front door.
Lawson. Preserve me! Another of thae robberies!
Leslie. That’s it. And, of course, I tried to seize him. But the rascal was too quick. He was down and away in an instant. You never saw a thing so daring and adroit.
Lawson. Is that a’? Ye’re a bauld lad, I’ll say that for ye. I’m glad it wasna waur.
Leslie. Yes, that’s all plain sailing. But here’s the hitch. Why didn’t I tell the Procurator-Fiscal? You never thought of that.
Lawson. No, man. Why?
Leslie. Aha! There’s the riddle. Will you guess? No?... I thought I knew the man.
Lawson. What d’ye say?
Leslie. I thought I knew him.
Lawson. Wha was’t?
Leslie. Ah, there you go beyond me. That I cannot tell.
Lawson. As God sees ye, laddie, are ye speaking truth?
Leslie. Well ... of course!
Lawson. The haill truth?
Leslie. All of it. Why not?
Lawson. Man, I’d a kind o’ gliff.
Leslie. Why, what were you afraid of? Had you a suspicion?
Lawson. Me? Me a suspicion? Ye’re daft, sir; and me the Crown offeecial!... Eh, man, I’m a’ shakin’ ... And sae ye thocht ye kennt him?
Leslie. I did that. And what’s more, I’ve sat every night in case of his return. I promise you, Procurator, he shall not slip me twice. Meanwhile, I’m worried and put out. You understand how such a fancy will upset a man. I’m uneasy with my friends and on bad terms with my own conscience. I keep watching, spying, comparing, putting two and two together, and hunting for resemblances until my head goes round. It’s like a puzzle in a dream. Only yesterday I thought I had him. And who d’you think it was?
Lawson. Wha? Wha was’t? Speak, Mr. Leslie, speak. I’m an auld man: dinna forget that.
Leslie. I name no names. It would be unjust to him; and, upon my word, it was so silly it would be unfair to me. However, here I sit, night after night. I mean him to come back; come back he shall; and I’ll tell you who he was next morning.
Lawson. Let sleeping dogs lie, Mr. Leslie; ye dinna ken what ye micht see. And then, leave him alane, he’ll come nae mair. And sitting up a’ nicht ... it’s a factum imprestabile, as we say: a thing impossible to man. Gang ye to your bed, like a guid laddie, and sleep lang and soundly, and bonnie, bonnie dreams to ye! (Without.) Let sleeping dogs lie, and gang ye to your bed.
Leslie (calling). In good time, never fear! (He carefully bolts and chains the door.) The old gentleman seems upset. What for, I wonder? Has he had a masked visitor? Why not? It’s the fashion. Out with the lights. (Blows out the candles. The stage is only lighted by the moon through the window.) He is sure to come one night or other. He must come. Right or wrong, I feel it in the air. Man, but I know you, I know you somewhere. That trick of the shoulders, the hang of the clothes — whose are they? Where have I seen them? And then, that single look of the eye, that one glance about the room as the window opened ... it is almost friendly; I have caught it over the glass’s rim! If it should be ... his? No, his it is not.
Watchman (without). Past ten o’clock, and a fine moonlight night.
Another (further away). Past ten o’clock, and all’s well.
Leslie. Past ten? Ah, there’s a long night before you and me, watchmen. Heavens, what a trade! But it will be something to laugh over with Mary and ... with him! Damn it, the delusion is too strong for me. It’s a thing to be ashamed of. “We Brodies”: how she says it! “We Brodies and our Deacon”: what a pride she takes in it, and how good it sounds to me! “Deacon of his craft, sir, Deacon of the ...” (Brodie, masked, appears without at the window, which he proceeds to force.) Ha! I knew he’d come. I was sure of it. (He crouches near and nearer to the window, keeping in the shade.) And I know you too. I swear I know you.
Brodie enters by the window with assurance and ease, closes it silently and proceeds to traverse the room. As he moves, Leslie leaps upon and grapples him.
Leslie. Take off that mask!
Brodie. Hands off!
Leslie. Take off that mask!
Brodie. Leave go, by God, leave go!
Leslie. Take it off!
Brodie (overpowered). Leslie....
Leslie. Ah! you know me! (Succeeds in tearing off the mask.) Brodie!
Brodie (in the moonlight). Brodie.
Leslie. You ... you, Brodie, you!
Brodie. Brodie, sir, Brodie, as you see.
Leslie. What does it mean? What does it mean? My God! Were you here before? Is this the second time? Are you a thief, man? are you a thief? Speak, speak, or I’ll kill you.
Brodie. I am a thief.
Leslie. And my friend, my own friend, and ... Mary, Mary!... Deacon, Deacon, for God’s sake, no!
Brodie. God help me!
Leslie. “We Brodies! We Brodies!”
Brodie. Leslie — —
Leslie. Stand off! Don’t touch me! You’re a thief!
Brodie. Leslie, Leslie — —
Leslie. A thief’s sister! Why are you here? why are you here? Tell me! Why do you not speak? Man, I know you of old. Are you Brodie, and have nothing to say?
Brodie. To say? Not much — God help me! — and commonplace, commonplace like sin. I was honest once; I made a false step; I couldn’t retrace it; and ... that is all.
Leslie. You have forgot the bad companions!
Brodie. I did forget them. They were there.
Leslie. Commonplace! Commonplace! Do you speak to me, do you reason with me, do you make excuses? You — a man found out, shamed, a liar, a thief — a man that’s killed me, killed this heart in my body; and you speak! What am I to do? I hold your life in my hand; have you thought of that? What am I to do?
Brodie. Do what you please; you have me trapped. (Jean Watt is heard singing without two bars of “Wanderin’ Willie,” by way of signal.)
Leslie. What is that?
Brodie. A signal.
Leslie. What does it mean?
Brodie. Danger to me: there is some one coming.
Leslie. Danger to you?
Brodie. Some one is coming. What are you going to do with me? (A knock at the door.)
Leslie (after a pause). Sit down. (Knocking.)
Brodie. What are you going to do with me?
Leslie. Sit down. (Brodie sits in darkest part of stage. Leslie opens door and admits Lawson. Door open till end of Act.)
Brodie, Lawson, Leslie
Lawson. This is an unco’ time to come to your door; but eh, laddie, I couldna bear to think o’ ye sittin’ yer lane in the dark.
Leslie. It was very good of you.
Lawson. I’m no’ very fond of playing hidee in the dark mysel’: and noo that I’m here — —
Leslie. I will give you a light. (He lights the candles. Lights up.)
Lawson. God A’michty! William Brodie!
Leslie. Yes, Brodie was good enough to watch with me.
Lawson. But he gaed awa’ ... I dinna see ... an’ Lord be guid to us, the window’s open!
Leslie. A trap we laid for them: a device of Brodie’s.
Brodie (to Lawson). Set a thief to catch a thief. (Passing to Leslie, aside.) Walter Leslie, God will reward. (Jean signals again.)
Lawson. I dinna like that singin’ at siccan a time o’ the nicht.
Brodie. I must go.
Lawson. Not one foot o’ ye. I’m ower glad to find ye in guid hands. Ay, ye dinna ken how glad.
Brodie (aside to Leslie). Get me out of this. There’s a man there will stick at nothing.
Leslie. Mr. Lawson, Brodie has done his shift. Why should we keep him? (Jean appears at the door, and signs to Brodie.)
Lawson. Hoots! this is my trade. That’s a bit o’ “Wanderin’ Willie.” I’ve had it before me in precognitions; that same stave has been used for a signal by some o’ the very warst o’ them.
Brodie (aside to Leslie). Get me out of this. I’ll never forget to-night. (Jean at door again.)
Leslie. Well, good-night, Brodie. When shall we meet again?
Lawson. Not one foot o’ him. (Jean at door.) I tell you, Mr. Leslie — —
To these, Jean
Jean (from the door). Wullie, Wullie!
Lawson. Guid guide us, Mrs. Watt! A dacent wumman like yoursel’! Whatten a time o’ nicht is this to come to folks’ doors?
Jean (to Brodie). Hawks, Wullie, hawks!
Brodie. I suppose you know what you’ve done, Jean?
Jean. I had to come, Wullie; he wadna wait another minit. He wad have come himsel’.
Brodie. This is my mistress.
Lawson. William, dinna tell me nae mair.
Brodie. I have told you so much. You may as well know all. That good man knows it already. Have you issued a warrant for me ... yet?
Lawson. No, no, man: not another word.
Brodie (pointing to the window). That is my work. I am the man. Have you drawn the warrant?
Lawson (breaking down). Your father’s son!
Leslie (to Lawson). My good friend! Brodie, you might have spared the old man this.
Brodie. I might have spared him years ago; and you and my sister, and myself. I might ... would God I had! (Weeping himself.) Don’t weep, my good old friend; I was lost long since; don’t think of me; don’t pity me; don’t shame me with your pity! I began this when I was a boy. I bound the millstone round my neck; (it is irrevocable now), and you must all suffer ... all suffer for me!... (for this suffering remnant of what was once a man). O God, that I can have fallen to stand here as I do now. My friend lying to save me from the gallows; my second father weeping tears of blood for my disgrace! And all for what? Ay what? Because I had an open hand, because I was a selfish dog, because I loved this woman.
Jean. O Wullie, and she lo’ed ye weel! But come near me nae mair, come near me nae mair, my man; keep wi’ your ain folks ... your ain dacent folks.
Lawson. Mistress Watt, ye shall sit rent free as lang’s there’s breath in William Lawson’s body.
Leslie. You can do one thing still ... for Mary’s sake. You can save yourself; you must fly.
Brodie. It is my purpose; the day after to-morrow. It cannot be before. Then I will fly; and O, as God sees me, I will strive to make a new and a better life, and to be worthy of your friendship, and of your tears ... your tears. And to be worthy of you, too, Jean; for I see now that the bandage has fallen from my eyes; I see myself, O how unworthy even of you!
Leslie. Why not to-night?
Brodie. It cannot be before. There are many considerations. I must find money.
Jean. Leave me, and the wean. Dinna fash yoursel’ for us.
Leslie (opening the strong-box and pouring gold upon the table). Take this and go at once.
Brodie. Not that ... not the money that I came to steal!
Lawson. Tak’ it, William; I’ll pay him.
Brodie. It is in vain. I cannot leave till I have said. There is a man; I must obey him. If I slip my chain till he has done with me, the hue and cry will blaze about the country; every outport will be shut; I shall return to the gallows. He is a man that will stick at nothing.
To these, Moore
Moore. Are you coming?
Brodie. I am coming.
Moore (appearing in the door). Do you want us all to get thundering well scragged?
Brodie (going). There is my master.
END OF THE THIRD ACT
The Stage represents the outside of the Excise Office in Chessel’s Court. At the back, L.C., an archway opening on the High Street. The door of the Excise in wing, R.; the opposite side of the stage is lumbered with barrels, packing-cases, etc. Moonlight; the Excise Office casts a shadow over half the stage. A clock strikes the hour. A round of the City Guard, with halberts, lanterns, etc., enters and goes out again by the arch, after having examined the fastenings of the great door and the lumber on the left. Cry without in the High Court: “Ten by the bell and a fine clear night.” Then enter cautiously by the arch, Smith and Moore, with Ainslie loaded with tools
Smith, Moore, Ainslie
Smith (entering first). Come on, coast clear.
Moore (after they have come to the front). Ain’t he turned up yet?
Smith (to Ainslie). Now, Maggot! The fishing’s a-going to begin.
Ainslie. Dinna cangle, Geordie. My back’s fair broke.
Moore. O, muck! Hand out them pieces.
Smith. All right, Humptious! (To Ainslie.) You’re a nice old sort for a rag-and-bone man: can’t hold a bag open! (Taking out tools.) Here they was. Here are the bunchums, one and two; and jolly old keys was they. Here’s the picklocks, crowbars, and here’s Lord George’s pet bull’s-eye, his old and valued friend, the Cracksman’s Treasure!
Moore. Just like you. Forgot the rotten centre-bit.
Smith. That’s all you know. Here she is, bless her! Portrait of George as a gay hironmonger.
Moore. O, rot! Hand it over, and keep yourself out of that there thundering moonlight.
Smith (lighting lantern). All right, old mumble-peg. Don’t you get carried away by the fire of old Rome. That’s your motto. Here are the tools, a perfect picter of the sublime and beautiful; and all I hope is that our friend and pitcher, the Deakin, will make a better job of it than he did last night. If he don’t, I shall retire from the business — that’s all; and it’ll be George and his little wife and a black footman till death do us part.
Moore. O, muck! You’re all jaw like a sheep’s jimmy. That’s my opinion of you. When did you see him last?
Smith. This morning; and he looked as if he was rehearsing for his own epitaph. I never see such a change in a man. I gave him the office for to-night; and was he grateful? Did he weep upon my faithful bosom? No; he smiled upon me like a portrait of the dear departed. I see his ‘art was far away; and it broke my own to look at him.
Moore. Muck! Wot I ses is, if a cove’s got that much of the nob about him, wot’s the good of his working single-handed? That’s wot’s the matter with him.
Smith. Well, old Father Christmas, he ain’t single-handed to-night, is he?
Moore. No, he ain’t; he’s got a man with him to-night.
Smith. Pardon me, Romeo: two men, I think?
Moore. A man wot means business. If I’d ‘a’ bin with him last night, it ain’t psalm-singin’ would have got us off. Psalm-singin’? Muck! Let ‘em try it on with me.
Ainslie. Losh me, I heard a noise. (Alarm; they crouch into the shadow and listen.)
Smith. All serene. (To Ainslie.) Am I to cut that liver out of you? Now, am I? (A whistle.) ‘St! here we are. (Whistles a modulation, which is answered.)
To these, Brodie
Moore. Waiting for you, Deacon.
Brodie. I see. Everything ready?
Smith. All a-growing and a-blowing.
Brodie. Give me the light. (Briefly examines tools and door with bull’s-eye.) You, George, stand by, and hand up the pieces. Ainslie, take the glim. Moore, out and watch.
Moore. I didn’t come here to do sentry-go, I didn’t.
Brodie. You came here to do as I tell you. (Moore goes up slowly.) Second bunch, George. I know the lock. Steady with the glim. (At work.) No good. Give me the centre-bit.
Smith. Right. (Work continues. Ainslie drops lantern.)
Brodie. Curse you! (Throttling and kicking him.) You shake, and you shake, and you can’t even hold a light for your betters. Hey?
Ainslie. Eh, Deacon, Deacon....
Smith. Now, Ghost! (With lantern.)
Brodie. ‘St, Moore!
Moore. Wot’s the row?
Brodie. Take you the light.
Moore (to Ainslie). Wo’ j’ yer shakin’ at? (Kicks him.)
Brodie (to Ainslie). Go you, and see if you’re good at keeping watch. Inside the arch. And if you let a footfall past, I’ll break your back. (Ainslie retires.) Steady with the light. (At work with centre-bit.) Hand up number four, George. (At work with picklock.) That has it.
Smith. Well done, our side.
Brodie. Now the crowbar! (At work.) That’s it. Put down the glim, Badger, and help at the wrench. Your whole weight, men! Put your backs to it! (While they work at the bar, Brodie stands by, dusting his hands with a pocket-handkerchief. As the door opens.) VoilÃ ! In with you.
Moore (entering with light). Mucking fine work too, Deacon!
Brodie. Take up the irons, George.
Smith. How about the P(h)antom?
Brodie. Leave him to me. I’ll give him a look. (Enters office.)
Smith (following). Houp-lÃ !
Ainslie; afterwards Brodie; afterwards Hunt and Officers
Ainslie. Ca’ ye that mainners? Ye’re grand gentry by your way o’t! Eh sirs, my hench! Ay, that was the Badger. Man, but ye’ll look bonnie hangin’! (A faint whistle.) Lord’s sake, what’s thon? Ay, it’ll be Hunt an’ his lads. (Whistle repeated.) Losh me, what gars him whustle, whustle? Does he think me deaf? (Goes up. Brodie enters from office, stands an instant, and sees him making a signal through the arch.)
Brodie. Rats! Rats! (Hides L. among lumber. Enter noiselessly through arch Hunt and Officers.)
Hunt. Birds caught?
Ainslie. They’re a’ ben the house, mister.
Hunt. All three?
Ainslie. The haill set, mister.
Hunt. Mum, lads, and follow me. (Exit, with his men, into office. Brodie seen with dagger.)
Hunt (within). In the King’s name!
Moore (within). Muck!
Smith (within). Go it, Badger.
Hunt (within). Take ‘em alive, boys!
Ainslie. Eh, but that’s awfu’. (The Deacon leaps out, and stabs him. He falls without a cry.)
Brodie. Saved! (He goes out by the arch.)
Hunt and Officers; with Smith and Moore handcuffed. Signs of a severe struggle
Hunt (entering). Bring ‘em along, lads! (Looking at prisoners with lantern.) Pleased to see you again, Badger. And you too, George. But I’d rather have seen your principal. Where’s he got to?
Moore. To hell, I hope.
Hunt. Always the same pretty flow of language, I see, Hump. (Looking at burglary with lantern.) A very tidy piece of work, Dook; very tidy! Much too good for you. Smacks of a fine tradesman. It was the Deacon, I suppose?
Smith. You ought to know G.S. better by this time, Jerry.
Hunt. All right, your Grace: we’ll talk it over with the Deacon himself. Where’s the jackal? Here, you, Ainslie! Where are you? By Jingo, I thought as much. Stabbed to the heart and dead as a herring!
Hunt. More of the Deacon’s work, I guess? Does him credit too, don’t it, Badger?
Moore. Muck. Was that the thundering cove that peached?
Hunt. That was the thundering cove.
Moore. And is he corpsed?
Hunt. I should just about reckon he was.
Moore. Then, damme, I don’t mind swinging!
Hunt. We’ll talk about that presently. M’Intyre and Stewart, you get a stretcher, and take that rubbish to the office. Pick it up; it’s only a dead informer. Hand these two gentlemen over to Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, with Mr. Jerry Hunt’s compliments. Johnstone and Syme, you come along with me. I’ll bring the Deacon round myself.
END OF THE FOURTH ACT
The Open Door
The Stage represents the Deacon’s room, as in Tableau I. Firelight. Stage dark. A pause. Then knocking at the door, C. Cries without of “Willie!” “Mr. Brodie!” The door is burst open
Doctor, Mary, a Maidservant with lights
Doctor. The apartment is unoccupied.
Mary. Dead, and he not here!
Doctor. The bed has not been slept in. The counterpane is not turned down.
Mary. It is not true; it cannot be true.
Doctor. My dear young lady, you must have misunderstood your brother’s language.
Mary. O no; that I did not. That I am sure I did not.
Doctor (looking at door). The strange thing is ... the bolt.
Servant. It’s unco strange.
Doctor. Well, we have acted for the best.
Servant. Sir, I dinna think this should gang nae further.
Doctor. The secret is in our keeping. Affliction is enough without scandal.
Mary. Kind heaven, what does it mean?
Doctor. I think there is no more to be done.
Mary. I am here alone, Doctor; you pass my uncle’s door?
Doctor. The Procurator-Fiscal? I shall make it my devoir. Expect him soon. (Goes out with Maid.)
Mary (hastily searches the room). No, he is not there. She was right! O father, you can never know, praise God!
Mary, to whom Jean and afterwards Leslie
Jean (at door). Mistress ...!
Mary. Ah! Who is there? Who are you?
Jean. Is he no’ hame yet? I’m aye waitin’ on him.
Mary. Waiting for him? Do you know the Deacon? You?
Jean. I maun see him. Eh, lassie, it’s life and death.
Mary. Death ... O my heart!
Jean. I maun see him, bonnie leddie. I’m a puir body, and no’ fit to be seen speakin’ wi’ the likes o’ you. But O lass, ye are the Deacon’s sister, and ye hae the Deacon’s een, and for the love of the dear kind Lord, let’s in and hae a word wi’ him ere it be ower late. I’m bringin’ siller.
Mary. Siller? You? For him? O father, father, if you could hear! What are you? What are you ... to him?
Jean. I’ll be the best frien’ ‘at ever he had; for, O dear leddie, I wad gie my bluid to help him.
Mary. And the ... the child?
Jean. The bairn?
Mary. Nothing! O nothing! I am in trouble, and I know not what I say. And I cannot help you; I cannot help you if I would. He is not here; and I believe he was; and ill ... ill; and he is not — he is ... O, I think I shall lose my mind!
Jean. Ay, it’s unco business.
Mary. His father is dead within there ... dead, I tell you ... dead!
Jean. It’s mebbe just as weel.
Mary. Well? Well? Has it come to this? O Walter, Walter! come back to me, or I shall die. (Leslie enters, C.)
Leslie. Mary, Mary! I hoped to have spared you this. (To Jean.) What — you? Is he not here?
Jean. I’m aye waitin’ on him.
Leslie. What has become of him? Is he mad? Where is he?
Jean. The Lord A’michty kens, Mr. Leslie. But I maun find him; I maun find him.
Mary. O Walter, Walter! What does it mean?
Leslie. You have been a brave girl all your life, Mary; you must lean on me ... you must trust in me ... and be a brave girl till the end.
Mary. Who is she? What does she want with him? And he ... where is he? Do you know that my father is dead, and the Deacon not here? Where has he gone? He may be dead, too. Father, brother ... O God, it is more than I can bear!
Leslie. Mary, my dear, dear girl ... when will you be my wife?
Mary. O, do not speak ... not speak ... of it to-night. Not to-night! O, not to-night!
Leslie. I know, I know, dear heart! And do you think that I, whom you have chosen, I whose whole life is in your love — do you think that I would press you now if there were not good cause?
Mary. Good cause! Something has happened. Something has happened ... to him! Walter...! Is he ... dead?
Leslie. There are worse things in the world than death. There is ... O Mary, he is your brother!
Mary. What?... Dishonour!... The Deacon!... My God!
Leslie. My wife, my wife!
Mary. No, no! Keep away from me. Don’t touch me. I’m not fit ... not fit to be near you. What has he done? I am his sister. Tell me the worst. Tell me the worst at once.
Leslie. That, if God wills, dear, you shall never know. Whatever it be, think that I knew it all, and only loved you better; think that your true husband is with you, and you are not to bear it alone.
Mary. My husband?... Never.
Mary. You forget, you forget what I am. I am his sister. I owe him a lifetime of happiness and love; I owe him even you. And whatever his fault, however ruinous his disgrace, he is my brother — my own brother — and my place is still with him.
Leslie. Your place is with me — is with your husband. With me, with me; and for his sake most of all. What can you do for him alone? how can you help him alone? It wrings my heart to think how little. But together is different. Together...! Join my strength, my will, my courage to your own, and together we may save him.
Mary. All that is over. Once I was blessed among women. I was my father’s daughter, my brother loved me, I lived to be your wife. Now...! My father is dead, my brother is shamed; and you ... O how could I face the world, how could I endure myself, if I preferred my happiness to your honour?
Leslie. What is my honour but your happiness? In what else does it consist? Is it in denying me my heart? is it in visiting another’s sin upon the innocent? Could I do that, and be my mother’s son? Could I do that, and bear my father’s name? Could I do that, and have ever been found worthy of you?
Mary. It is my duty ... my duty. Why will you make it so hard for me? So hard, Walter, so hard!
Leslie. Do I pursue you only for your good fortune, your beauty, the credit of your friends, your family’s good name? That were not love, and I love you. I love you, dearest, I love you. Friend, father, brother, husband ... I must be all these to you. I am a man who can love well.
Mary. Silence ... in pity! I cannot ... O, I cannot bear it.
Leslie. And say it was I who had fallen. Say I had played my neck and lost it ... that I were pushed by the law to the last limits of ignominy and despair. Whose love would sanctify my gaol to me? whose pity would shine upon me in the dock? whose prayers would accompany me to the gallows? Whose but yours? Yours!... And you would entreat me — me! — to do what you shrink from even in thought, what you would die ere you attempted in deed!
Mary. Walter ... on my knees ... no more, no more!
Leslie. My wife! my wife! Here on my heart! It is I that must kneel ... I that must kneel to you.
Mary. Dearest!... Husband! You forgive him? O, you forgive him?
Leslie. He is my brother now. Let me take you to our father. Come.
After a pause, Brodie through the window
Brodie. Saved! And the alibi! Man, but you’ve been near it this time — near the rope, near the rope. Ah, boy, it was your neck, your neck you fought for. They were closing hell-doors upon me, swift as the wind, when I slipped through and shot for heaven! Saved! The dog that sold me, I settled him; and the other dogs are staunch. Man, but your alibi will stand! Is the window fast? The neighbours must not see the Deacon, the poor, sick Deacon, up and stirring at this time o’ night. Ay, the good old room in the good, cosy old house ... and the rat a dead rat, and all saved. (He lights the candles.) Your hand shakes, sir? Fie! And you saved, and snug and sick in your bed, and it but a dead rat after all? (He takes off his hanger and lays it on the table.) Ay, it was a near touch. Will it come to the dock? If it does! You’ve a tongue and you’ve a head, and you’ve an alibi; and your alibi will stand. (He takes off his coat, takes out the dagger, and with a gesture of striking.) Home! He fell without a sob. “He breaketh them against the bosses of His buckler!” (Lays the dagger on the table.) Your alibi ... ah, Deacon, that’s your life!... your alibi, your alibi. (He takes up a candle and turns towards the door.) O!... Open, open, open! Judgment of God, the door is open!
Brodie. Did you open the door?
Mary. I did.
Brodie. You ... you opened the door?
Mary. I did open it.
Brodie. Were you ... alone?
Mary. I was not. The servant was with me; and the doctor.
Brodie. O ... the servant ... and the doctor. Very true. Then it’s all over the town by now. The servant and the doctor. The doctor? What doctor? Why the doctor?
Mary. My father is dead. O Will, where have you been?
Brodie. Your father is dead. O yes! He’s dead, is he? Dead. Quite right. Quite right.... How did you open the door? It’s strange. I bolted it.
Mary. We could not help it, Will, now could we? The doctor forced it. He had to, had he not?
Brodie. The doctor forced it? The doctor? Was he here? He forced it? He?
Mary. We did it for the best; it was I who did it ... I, your own sister. And O Will, my Willie, where have you been? You have not been in any harm, any danger?
Brodie. Danger? O, my young lady, you have taken care of that. It’s not danger now, it’s death. Death? Ah! Death! Death! Death! (Clutching the table. Then recovering as from a dream.) Death? Did you say my father was dead? My father? O my God, my poor old father! Is he dead, Mary? Have I lost him? is he gone? O, Mary dear, and to think of where his son was!
Mary. Dearest, he is in heaven.
Brodie. Did he suffer?
Mary. He died like a child. Your name ... it was his last.
Brodie. My name? Mine? O Mary, if he had known! He knows now. He knows; he sees us now ... sees me! Ay, and sees you left — how lonely!
Mary. Not so, dear; not while you live. Wherever you are, I shall not be alone, so you live.
Brodie. While I live? I? The old house is ruined, and the old master dead, and I!... O Mary, try and believe I did not mean that it should come to this; try and believe that I was only weak at first. At first? And now! The good old man dead, the kind sister ruined, the innocent boy fallen, fallen.... You will be quite alone; all your old friends, all the old faces, gone into darkness. The night (with a gesture) ... it waits for me. You will be quite alone.
Mary. The night!
Brodie. Mary, you must hear. How am I to tell her, and the old man just dead! Mary, I was the boy you knew; I loved pleasure, I was weak; I have fallen ... low ... lower than you think. A beginning is so small a thing! I never dreamed it would come to this ... this hideous last night.
Mary. Willie, you must tell me, dear. I must have the truth ... the kind truth ... at once ... in pity.
Brodie. Crime. I have fallen. Crime.
Brodie. Don’t shrink from me. Miserable dog that I am, selfish hound that has dragged you to this misery ... you and all that loved him ... think only of my torments, think only of my penitence, don’t shrink from me.
Mary. I do not care to hear, I do not wish, I do not mind; you are my brother. What do I care? How can I help you?
Brodie. Help? help me? You would not speak of it, not wish it, if you knew. My kind good sister, my little playmate, my sweet friend! Was I ever unkind to you till yesterday? Not openly unkind? You’ll say that when I am gone.
Mary. If you have done wrong, what do I care? If you have failed, does it change my twenty years of love and worship? Never!
Brodie. Yet I must make her understand...!
Mary. I am your true sister, dear. I cannot fail, I will never leave you, I will never blame you. Come! (Goes to embrace.)
Brodie (recoiling). No, don’t touch me, not a finger, not that, anything but that!
Mary. Willie, Willie!
Brodie (taking the bloody dagger from the table). See, do you understand that?
Mary. Ah! What, what is it!
Brodie. Blood. I have killed a man.
Brodie. I am a murderer; I was a thief before. Your brother ... the old man’s only son!
Mary. Walter, Walter, come to me!
Brodie. Now you see that I must die; now you see that I stand upon the grave’s edge, all my lost life behind me, like a horror to think upon, like a frenzy, like a dream that is past. And you, you are alone. Father, brother, they are gone from you; one to heaven, one...!
Mary. Hush, dear, hush! Kneel, pray; it is not too late to repent. Think of our father, dear; repent. (She weeps, straining to his bosom.) O Willie, my darling boy, repent and join us.
To these, Lawson, Leslie, Jean
Lawson. She kens a’, thank the guid Lord!
Brodie (to Mary). I know you forgive me now; I ask no more. That is a good man. (To Leslie.) Will you take her from my hands? (Leslie takes Mary.) Jean, are ye here to see the end?
Jean. Eh man, can ye no’ fly? Could ye no’ say that it was me?
Brodie. No, Jean, this is where it ends. Uncle, this is where it ends. And to think that not an hour ago I still had hopes! Hopes! Ay, not an hour ago I thought of a new life. You were not forgotten, Jean. Leslie, you must try to forgive me ... you too!
Leslie. You are her brother.
Brodie (to Lawson). And you.
Lawson. My name-child and my sister’s bairn.
Brodie. You won’t forget Jean, will you? nor the child?
Lawson. That I will not.
Mary. O Willie, nor I.
To these, Hunt
Hunt. The game’s up, Deacon. I’ll trouble you to come along with me.
Brodie (behind the table). One moment, officer: I have a word to say before witnesses ere I go. In all this there is but one man guilty; and that man is I. None else has sinned; none else must suffer. This poor woman (pointing to Jean) I have used; she never understood. Mr. Procurator-Fiscal, that is my dying confession. (He snatches his hanger from the table, and rushes upon Hunt, who parries, and runs him through. He reels across the stage and falls.) The new life ... the new life! (He dies.)