Work and Wages - A Big Fortune - A London Mystery


Victoriana - plays from the 1890's

A London Mystery

Act 1


Moscow Lodge on the Banks of the Thames

Terrace at back across stage. Steps down centre

Garden seats Right & Left. Hammock from trees Left.

Sand cloth and dead leaves. Shrubs etc.


Thomas discovered in hammock fanning himself with a palm leaf and humming a tune.


(Susan enters from left on terrace.)

Susan    (Looking astonished.) Well I never did!

Thom    Oh is that you, Susan?

Susan    Yes, and it’s lucky for you it isn’t anybody else. That’s cool.

Thom    It is delightful. (Fanning himself.)

Susan    Wouldn’t you like one of the Count’s cigars to smoke?

Thom    Not me – he smokes such big ones, but if you could just hand me one of Lord Ellerdale’s or Mr. Ravenhurst’s...

Susan    Well, I daresay they’ll be here today, and then you can ask them to oblige you. Look out here’s master.

Thom    (Alarmed.) Where?

Susan    Ha, ha, ha.

Thom    I wish you wouldn’t, Susan.

Susan    Well come out of that hammock, it’s not intended for great fellows like you. That’s Miss Vera’s.

Thom    Well I’m only a testing it for her, suppose it gave way. I have to look after her safety when she’s out a riding and why shouldn’t I when she’s at home?

Susan    Well if master finds you in it… look out here he comes.

Thom    (Rises quickly.) Where?

Susan    Ha, ha, ha.

Thom    Oh I wish you wouldn’t, Susan, you give me palpitation.

Susan    Palpitation of what?

Thom    Why the heart of course. (Susan laughs) Oh I’ve got one, Susan.

Susan    A sheep’s heart?

Thom    No, nor yet a lambs, but a man’s heart, Susan, or I shouldn’t be here now.

Susan    Where, in that hammock?

Thom    No, Susan, but at Moscow Lodge.

Susan    Well what’s the matter with Moscow Lodge? Ain’t you satisfied with the place?

Thom    Oh the place is right enough, wages pretty good and regularly paid. (Whisper.) But it’s what goes on in the place...

Susan    Well what goes on in the place?

Thom    I’ll tell you someday, Susan, but I’ll tell you this now, that if is wasn’t for the sake of Miss Vera and the love I have for you, I’d have left it long enough ago.

Susan    Why what on earth is the man talking about? What harm is likely to come to Miss Vera?

Thom    None if I can help it, nor to you either.

Susan    Oh, I’m in no danger.

Thom    I don’t know that, Susan – I don’t know that. It’s my firm belief that no one connected with this house is particularly safe.

Susan    Well if I didn’t know you as well as I do, Thomas, I should say that you’d been drinking.

Thom    Well never mind you’ll see soon enough.

Susan    Well I ain’t seen much as yet.

Thom    No. I tell you what it is, Susan, we’re living on a smouldering volcano.

Susan    Oh!

Thom    We’re on the very brink of an abyss.

Susan    Oh, don’t frighten me, Thomas.

Thom    Well look at Master…

Susan    What’s wrong with him?

Thom    The way he steals about the place you…

(Obanoff enters left on terrace.)

Thom    think he’s in one place and you’ll find him in the other.

(He slowly descends steps.)

Susan    Hush, Thomas, here he is.

Thom    Don’t be stupid, Susan, I tell you it’s as plain as plain that he... (Sees Obanoff) Oh Lord! (Falls out of hammock)

Oban     Well, Master Thomas, what is as plain as plain?

Thom    Nothing, sir, nothing.

Oban     What were you saying to Susan?

Thom    I was telling her I did not think this hammock was very safe...

Oban     For you, it is not. Do not enter it again.

Thom    Very good, sir.

Oban     And, Thomas, where is Miss Vera?

Thom    In the grounds somewhere with Miss Delamere following the river.

Oban     The river? Yes the river.

Thom    Sir?

Oban     I did not speak, tell the Count I wish to see him.

Thom    The Count is coming, sir.

(Count enters on terrace from left.)

Oban     You can leave us.

(Thomas bows and goes up on terrace and bows as the Count passes him.)


Oban     That way, following the river. Curse the river that ever brought him here, and Mr. Thomas what did I hear? “A smouldering volcano.” What did he mean? What does he know? He cannot know of the smouldering fire of love which consumes me day and night. I must speak to the Count at once.

Count    Good morning, Obanoff.

Oban     Good morning, Count. (Hands on shoulders.) Your eyes look weary. Have you not slept?

Count    I did not seek my couch till three.

Oban     You were then at work?

Count    Hard at work, Obanoff, hard at work.

Oban     And how does it progress?

Count    Progress? It is finished.

Oban     My friend ’tis well and is the workman satisfied with the result?

Count    You shall judge for yourself.

Oban     Count, you are a genius. I am doubly glad. This will enable us to leave this hornet’s nest.

Count    What can you mean, Obanoff? Someone suspects?

Oban     More than one.