Work and Wages - A Big Fortune - A London Mystery


Victoriana - plays from the 1890's

A Big Fortune

First performed at the Blyth. 14 May 1891

Act 1

Scene 1


Rupert Godwin’s Home.

House Piece L.2.E.   Hall Piece at back with door.  Cloth at back with trees and tons of houses.  Table and two chairs L.x.


Music as Curtain rises, and sounds of Vehicles at back.

Joe Bird discovered on steps waving with leather and duster.


Joe        Hurrah! Hurrah! Go it you nippers, don’t I wish I was along with you. There’s a four horse affair. Hurrah! (Cheer outside) and there’s a costermonger’s barrow. Hurrah! (Cheer off) Hurrah! also and likewise. Baronite and Coster, Lord and Scavenger, mix ’em all up, going to the Derby, Hurrah!

(Vehicles pass.)

(Polly enters from house.)

Polly     Now where’s that lazy fellow? He’s never cleaned these windows and the steps gone-

Joe        There they go (Cheer off) Hurrah!

Polly     Oh there he is, now what’s he up to there I’d like to know?

Joe        Pleasant day my dear, hope you’ll back the winner. (Kisses head)

Polly     Well I never did. (Shakes steps)

Joe        Oh don’t do that, Polly.

Polly     Well come down at once and get on with your work or I’ll tell Missus. (Joe comes down)  I   should  like  to  know what you were doing up there?

Joe        I was only watching them go down. (Carrying steps)

Polly     Down where?

Joe        To the Derby.

Polly     And what are they going to Derby for?

Joe        The Derby, Polly, don’t forget the ‘THE.’ It makes all the difference in the world, one’s about as slow a place as – while the other,

Polly     Well what are they going to ‘THE’ Derby for?

Joe        To see the horses run of course.

Polly     And can’t they see horses run without going to the Derby?

Joe        You can see ’em crawl, but at the Derby they fly.

Polly     Oh they fly do they? Well now you take my advice and fly and do these windows or you’ll get into trouble.

Joe        Of course I’ll do them, Polly, but don’t you wish you was a going down in a nice little trap to the race alongside of your devoted admirer? (Bus-driving)

Polly     No I don’t. And if you’re wise you’ll keep quiet about races in this house; Master don’t like ’em or Missus either.

Joe        Then what do they come and live on the high road to the course for? (Cheers off.) Ugh! I call it a tempting of providence.

Polly     Hush. Here’s Missus.

(Joe breathes on windows and rubs.)

(Nellie Godwin enters from house.)

Nellie     (Arranging some flowers on table) Has your Master not returned yet, Polly?

Polly     Not unless he’s in the house, Missus.

Nellie     No. I thought perhaps he had come in by the gate.

Polly     Not he, Missus, he won’t come in that road, (Cheers off) he wouldn’t care to mix himself up with that crew.

Joe        (On top of steps excited) Crew? Let me tell you – there goes the Duke of Bayswater. (Cheer.)

Nellie     What’s the matter, Joe? You look excited.

Joe        Oh nothing, Mum.

Polly     It’s the races as has upset him, Missus.

Nellie     The noise I suppose. Derby Day quite demoralizes this quiet neighbourhood, now be quiet there’s a good lad and finish those windows before your Master returns, he won’t stay long at business today.

Joe        Has Master got a holiday, Mum?

Nellie     Well the office is closed.

Joe        Is Master going to the races, Mum?

Nellie     How can you ask such a thing? You know quite well he never goes to such places.

Joe        I didn’t mean to be rude, Missus, but when you said Master had got a holiday I naturally thought he was a going to the Derby. A man would be a fool who could go and didn’t.

Nellie     Then I fear your Master is foolish.

Joe        I didn’t mean that, Missus – I…

Polly     Be quiet, Joe and get on with your work.

Voice    (At back). Whoa. Steady.

Polly     Hello. Who’s that?

Joe        Oh my. Here’s a swell turn out – and pulled up here too, Missus.

(Music. Knock at gate)

Nellie     Who can it be?

Joe        Shall I see, Missus?

Polly     No, you stop where you are. I’ll see.

Joe        Chestnut pony, plated harness, all slap up.

(Polly opens door.)

(Ferdinand St. Everton is seen.)

Ferd      Ah my good girl, is your Master at home?

Polly     No, Sir.

Ferd      Mistress?

Polly     Yes, Sir.

Ferd      Ah she’ll do as well, (Off) I won’t be a minute my dear.

(Enters at gate.)

Nellie     Very “horsey” get up.

Ferd      What a pleasure. How d’ye do, Mrs. Godwin? Just driving down. Thought I’d call as we were passing. Where’s the Governer? Not at business today I hope. If he is – confounded shame – Ought to be Act of Parliament to stop all business on a day like this. General holiday. All nature smiles. That sort of thing you know. Well really you’re looking well. Marriage seems to agree with you if I may be allowed the remark. I’m going to try it shortly. What a pleasure.

Nellie     Try it, Mr. Everton? Do you regard it as an experiment? I thought it was a life-long matter.

Ferd      Ah yes never thought of that. How stupid. Withdraw ‘try it’ and say I’m going in for it.

Nellie     Indeed and who is the lady you have selected?

Ferd      You shall see. Charming little filly. Just over 12 hands and scales 9 stone, outside in the trap. Two to one you’ll like her. I’ll bring her in.

Nellie     Oh please don’t trouble, Mr. Everton.

Ferd      No trouble at all. What a pleasure. By the way may your man hold the gee?

Nellie     Hold the gee?

Ferd      Beg pardon. Withdraw the Gee and say hold the animal. Hi my man, will you –

Joe        Yes, Sir. (Comes off steps) Going to the Derby, sir?

Ferd      Yes.

Joe        Wish I was.

Ferd      Why? Got anything on?

Joe        Not yet. D’ye know anything?

Ferd      No more than all the world knows that the favourite wins. They do talk about an outsider Rabagas, but it’s all rubbish, though I must say he’s come down to a smart price. Come in my dear. Mrs. Godwin’s longing to be introduced.

(Evelina Mowbray enters)

Evel      How do you do, Mrs. Godwin? We’ve just called being a lovely day to see if you and Mr. Godwin would accompany us to the Derby.

Ferd      What a pleasure.

Nellie     It would be useless asking him for he has never been to a race in his life.

Evel      Oh poor fellow.

Ferd      Fancy that, Evvie, never been to a race and you go to one nearly every week.

Evel      Nearly.

Joe        Oh jem.

Ferd      And I see one every day.

Evel      No not every day, Ferdy.

Ferd      Yes, Evvie every day.

Evel      Don’t tell stories, did you see a race yesterday?

Ferd      Yes, Evvie.

Evel      Now I’ll lay you twenty to one you didn’t.