SCENE I. An Apartment in the Villa of MR. PETTIBONE at Clapham. Entrance at back, leading to Garden. In the flat, L. H., are the windows of a Conservatory. Doors R. and L. Table and chairs, sofa table, R., with writing materials and inkstand.
MRS. PETTIBONE discovered at table, R., writing.
Mrs. P. I must complete the inventory of my present collection of curiosities, this evening, as I shall gain such an addition to my museum on the. arrival of my husband's friend, Mr. Fathom, that I shall be unable to recollect all the names and uses of my little wonders, unless they are carefully written down, (writes) ' No. 22 a bit of the blarney used at Cork, 23 The ashes of the first pipe of tobacco smoked in England 24. is -- (gate bell rings without, L.) A ring at the gate bell! Can't be he! Seven o'clock is the precise moment for Mr. P. Perhaps it is Mr. Fathom.
Enter MARY. L.
Mary. The gentleman, ma'am, that jou've been expecting from foreign parts -- he has just drove up to the gate, and is putting such a quantity of queer things into the hall.
Mrs.P. My presents, no doubt I thought he'd be here to-night -- pray ask him in. (Exit MARY. L) I shall now be completely set up with all sorts of Indian articles, tomahawks, and scalps, and war-clubs, and everything wonderful!
Enter FRANK FATHOM, L., in a traveling dress, cloak, cap, etc.
Frank. Oh. my dear madam -- rejoiced to see you! (puts cap, etc on sofa, L)
Mrs. P. How do you do?! Lord, how brown you are! and how traveling alters people! you look so improved, so expanded. I may say. (Gets over to L) Pray sit down. (Places his chair, R) Pettibone will be so glad you are come; he has been talking of you, and looking for the arrival of packets every day. (Seats herself, L.) And are you quite well?
Frank. Quite well, ma'am -- rather fatigued -- just arrived from Bristol.
Mrs. P. And you've been traveling in America, and have come home in the Great Western? What a deal you must have seen! How Pettibone will devour your narratives!
Frank. He must have a good digestion, then; for the wonders I have met with have been astounding. Oh! Mrs. P., think of log-huts -- waterfalls -- mosquitoes -- canvas back ducks -- corderoy roads -- niggers -- canals -- swamps -- dollars, and mint juleps!
Mrs. P. Dear me!
Frank. I've matter enough to keep you and Pettibone wide awake every night for the next six weeks.
Mrs. P. And my promised curiosities?
Frank. They are in the hall: a beautiful buffalo skin -- a pipe of peace for you to smoke; when you've lift with Pettibone, and want to make it up, you must take a puff at it there's a pair of snow shoes and a scalping-knife I'll show you how the Indians take off the scalp when Pettibone comes borne.
Mrs. P. How charming!
Frank. You've a smart little place here, I see. You were just married, and moving into it. when I left England. A small conservatory, too, eh? -- garden before and behind -- snug distance from the road -- and everything comfortable.
[Rises, looks about, up stage, and comes down, L]
Mrs. P. We are very comfortable, indeed; Pettibone never stays out comes -- home regularly from the city at seven o'clock -- then we tea -- and talk, and play double dummy -- sometimes he sings pretty love songs, and says he's never so happy as when his boots are off, his slippers on, and he is taking his repose on the sofa.
Frank. What a sweet picture of domestic comfort! And P. makes a food husband, does he?
Mrs P. Excellent
Frank. What a gay little man he was when I first met him at the Lord Mayor's ball! what a favorite, too, with the ladies!
Mrs. P. Oh! he's left all that off now -- quite changed, bless you -- he continually tells me that, on his honor, he don't think there's such another woman in the world as I am. Hark!
[Clock strikes seven.]
Frank. At what?
Mrs. P. The clock striking seven: he won't be long now; he's never more than three or four minutes over. (Gate bell rings, L.) There! he's punctual to a minute.
[PETTIBONE sings, L., "I love her, how I love her."]
Frank. And singing, too, like a nightingale.
Enter PETTIBONE. L.
Pet. Ah, my boy, how d'ye do? I thought you had arrived, by the queer things I saw in the hall -- so glad to see you -- Betsey, give me a kiss. (Crossing to c.) Don't laugh at me: I never go out and never come in without going through this little ceremony; mind you always do the same when you get a wife, my boy; it keeps up the little cuddlybilities of domestic bliss, eh? -- prevents the water in the tea urn of matrimony, ever getting quite cold -- keeps it always a little on the simmer, eh?
Frank. And often saves you from getting into hot water, eh?
Pet. That's good, by jingo! give me your hand. You hav'nt brought home a wife among your curiosities, have you?
Frank. Oh! no, no. (Aside.) Because I left one behind me.
Pet. Time enough for that, eh? And now. Betsey -- boot jack! (Mrs. P. crosses, L.) Ah! stop -- I must show Frank my dahlias before it's quite dark, and take him round the garden -- such a nice garden! -- you should see me and Betsey, at seven o'clock in the morning, I'm in my morning gown, and Betsey in something with a frill round it, catching snails -- Betsey catches snails beautifully, and throws 'em over the wall into the next garden then we weed and rake -- much better than our Mansion House ball raking. What rum times they were, eh? Lord, I wonder what's become of Miss Dumpleby?
Mrs P. Selim, dear, no allusions to old flames -- I don't like it.
Pet. (Aside to FRANK.) You see what a happy fellow I am -- quite right, Betsey, dear -- quite right -- when we light up the torch of Hymen, we should always extinguish our old links, eh? Ha, ha, ha! to-be-sure.
Mrs. P. I'll just step into the hall and look at my presents; there are snow shoes and a scalping knife, dear. Mr. Fathom is going to show me how the scalp is taken off -- you'll lend him your head to exemplify, won't you, dear?
Pet. Oh! I dare say.
Mrs. P. To please me, won't you, dear?
Pet. Yes, dear. (Exit MRS. P., L) My boy, that's a dear creature such a temper -- no frowning -- no shying plates -- oh, no, none of that here, and such high notions -- devilish high -- I sometimes think she ought to be a queen of some place or other, instead of the wife of a little anxious stock broker.
Frank. She's a fine woman.
Pet. Now isn't she?
Frank. And you ought to be -- no doubt you are a happy fellow?
Frank. Completely happy?
Pet. Why, no -- urn -- as to the word completely, in its dictionary sense, I don't think I can altogether use it in my case.
Pet. It's all my own fault -- I can't help tormenting myself.
Frank. With what?
Pet. The metaphysics of matrimony.
Frank. What do you mean by metaphysics?
Pet. I mean by metaphysics what I can't explain, and you can't understand -- human nature, and inconsistency, and all that. Frank, you and I are old friends -- look at me -- am I handsome?
Frank. Certainly not.
Pet. Six feet high?
Frank. Quite the reverse.
Pet. Have I anything engaging in my manner?
Frank. Not that I can perceive.
Pet. Oh, you are right: I asked a plain question, and I've got a very plain answer. Now, what could a fine, handsome, intellectual, queen-like woman as Mrs P. is, see in me to marry me? Eh? Now think of the metaphysics of matrimony, and imagine what my thoughts must be when I lay awake on my pillow at two o'clock in the morning sometimes.
Frank. You don't mean to say you are jealous of her?
Pet. No, though to be sure I am in the city a!l day, and she is here alone all day.
Frank. Very true.
Pet. Ah! now you begin to enter into my feelings, a thought has struck me. You, my boy, were an old beau of my wife's, only I cut you out, how I should like -- Lord! how I should like -- (PETTIBONE is speaking in an undertone -- MRS. PETTIBONE is re-entering, L. stops on seeing them and listens.)
Pet. To put my Betsey to the test, and see how she would behave to a man that would dare to make love to her, will you try?
Pet. You! Make yourself agreeable to her -- touch upon your early feelings -- pity her being alone all day -- talk of your travels -- sigh -- ask her if she is really happy -- eh? What do you think? I'm sure she'd knock you down; but you wouldn't mind that to serve me.
Frank. Rather a dangerous position to place me in!
Pet. I'll give you every opportunity, upon my life I will; do. It will make me so happy; your'e a good-looking fellow -- you know -- a fine dashing manner with you -- try -- do --do.
Frank. If it will serve to make your happiness complete.
Pet. It would -- now it would.
Frank. I'll do my best.
Pet. There's a good fellow. (MRS. P. withdraws, threatening PETTIBONE.) We shall have such a laugh when it's over.
Frank. Perhaps not.
Frank. Perhaps she might encourage me.
Pet. Oh, no, no, she wouldn't -- oh, don't mention it; I should explode -- die of self-combustion; but she won't, no, no -- you'll have such a box on the ears -- a stinger; I know you will.
Mrs. P. (Without.) Be careful of them, Mary.
Pet. There she is -- I'll give you half an hour at once, while supper is getting ready.