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The Silver Box (Play in the First Series) by John Galsworthy

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JACK. By Jove, I do seem to remember a fellow with--a fellow with
[He looks at Roper.] I say, d' you want me----?

ROPER. [Quick as lightning.] With a dirty face?

JACK. [With illumination.] I do--I distinctly remember his----

[BARTHWICK moves abruptly; MRS. BARTHWICK looks at ROPER
angrily, and touches her son's arm.]

MRS. BARTHWICK. You don't remember, it's ridiculous! I don't
believe the man was ever here at all.

BARTHWICK. You must speak the truth, if it is the truth. But if
you do remember such a dirty business, I shall wash my hands of you

JACK. [Glaring at them.] Well, what the devil----


JACK. Well, Mother, I--I don't know what you do want.

MRS. BARTHWICK. We want you to speak the truth and say you never
let this low man into the house.

BARTHWICK. Of course if you think that you really gave this man
whisky in that disgraceful way, and let him see what you'd been
doing, and were in such a disgusting condition that you don't
remember a word of it----

ROPER. [Quick.] I've no memory myself--never had.

BARTHWICK. [Desperately.] I don't know what you're to say.

ROPER. [To JACK.] Say nothing at all! Don't put yourself in a
false position. The man stole the things or the woman stole the
things, you had nothing to do with it. You were asleep on the sofa.

MRS. BARTHWICK. Your leaving the latch-key in the door was quite
bad enough, there's no need to mention anything else. [Touching his
forehead softly.] My dear, how hot your head is!

JACK. But I want to know what I 'm to do. [Passionately.] I won't
be badgered like this.

[MRS. BARTHWICK recoils from him.]

ROPER. [Very quickly.] You forget all about it. You were asleep.

JACK. Must I go down to the Court to-morrow?

ROPER. [Shaking his head.] No.

BARTHWICK. [In a relieved voice.] Is that so?


BARTHWICK. But you'll go, Roper.


JACK. [With wan cheerfulness.] Thanks, awfully! So long as I
don't have to go. [Putting his hand up to his head.] I think if
you'll excuse me--I've had a most beastly day. [He looks from his
father to his mother.]

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Turning quickly.] Goodnight, my boy.

JACK. Good-night, Mother.

[He goes out. MRS. BARTHWICK heaves a sigh. There is a

BARTHWICK. He gets off too easily. But for my money that woman
would have prosecuted him.

ROPER. You find money useful.

BARTHWICK. I've my doubts whether we ought to hide'the truth----

ROPER. There'll be a remand.

BARTHWICK. What! D' you mean he'll have to appear on the remand.


BARTHWICK. H'm, I thought you'd be able to----Look here, Roper,
you must keep that purse out of the papers.

[ROPER fixes his little eyes on him and nods.]

MRS. BARTHWICK. Mr. Roper, don't you think the magistrate ought to
be told what sort of people these Jones's are; I mean about their
immorality before they were married. I don't know if John told you.

ROPER. Afraid it's not material.

MRS. BARTHWICK. Not material?

ROPER. Purely private life! May have happened to the magistrate.

BARTHWICK. [With a movement as if to shift a burden.] Then you'll
take the thing into your hands?

ROPER. If the gods are kind. [He holds his hand out.]

BARTHWICK. [Shaking it dubiously.] Kind eh? What? You going?

ROPER. Yes. I've another case, something like yours--most

[He bows to MRS. BARTHWICK, and goes out, followed by
BARTHWICK, talking to the last. MRS. BARTHWICK at the table
bursts into smothered sobs. BARTHWICK returns.]

BARTHWICK. [To himself.] There'll be a scandal!

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Disguising her grief at once.] I simply can't
imagine what Roper means by making a joke of a thing like that!

BARTHWICK. [Staring strangely.] You! You can't imagine anything!
You've no more imagination than a fly!

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Angrily.] You dare to tell me that I have no

BARTHWICK. [Flustered.] I--I 'm upset. From beginning to end, the
whole thing has been utterly against my principles.

MRS. BARTHWICK. Rubbish! You have n't any! Your principles are
nothing in the world but sheer fright!

BARTHWICK. [Walking to the window.] I've never been frightened in
my life. You heard what Roper said. It's enough to upset one when
a thing like this happens. Everything one says and does seems to
turn in one's mouth--it's--it's uncanny. It's not the sort of thing
I've been accustomed to. [As though stifling, he throws the window
open. The faint sobbing of a child comes in.] What's that?

[They listen.]

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] I can't stand that crying. I must send
Marlow to stop it. My nerves are all on edge. [She rings the

BARTHWICK. I'll shut the window; you'll hear nothing. [He shuts
the window. There is silence.]

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] That's no good! It's on my nerves.
Nothing upsets me like a child's crying.

[MARLOW comes in.]

What's that noise of crying, Marlow? It sounds like a child.

BARTHWICK. It is a child. I can see it against the railings.

MARLOW. [Opening the window, and looking out quietly.] It's Mrs.
Jones's little boy, ma'am; he came here after his mother.

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Moving quickly to the window.] Poor little chap!
John, we ought n't to go on with this!

BARTHWICK. [Sitting heavily in a chair.] Ah! but it's out of our

[MRS. BARTHWICK turns her back to the window. There is an
expression of distress on hey face. She stands motionless,
compressing her lips. The crying begins again. BARTHWICK
coveys his ears with his hands, and MARLOW shuts the window.
The crying ceases.]

The curtain falls.


Eight days have passed, and the scene is a London Police Court
at one o'clock. A canopied seat of Justice is surmounted by
the lion and unicorn. Before the fire a worn-looking
MAGISTRATE is warming his coat-tails, and staring at two little
girls in faded blue and orange rags, who are placed before the
dock. Close to the witness-box is a RELIEVING OFFICER in an
overcoat, and a short brown beard. Beside the little girls
stands a bald POLICE CONSTABLE. On the front bench are sitting
BARTHWICK and ROPER, and behind them JACK. In the railed
enclosure are seedy-looking men and women. Some prosperous
constables sit or stand about.

MAGISTRATE. [In his paternal and ferocious voice, hissing his s's.]
Now let us dispose of these young ladies.

USHER. Theresa Livens, Maud Livens.

[The bald CONSTABLE indicates the little girls, who remain
silent, disillusioned, inattentive.]

Relieving Officer!

[The RELIEVING OFFICER Steps into the witness-box.]

USHER. The evidence you give to the Court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God! Kiss the

[The book is kissed.]

RELIEVING OFFICER. [In a monotone, pausing slightly at each
sentence end, that his evidence may be inscribed.] About ten
o'clock this morning, your Worship, I found these two little girls
in Blue Street, Fulham, crying outside a public-house. Asked where
their home was, they said they had no home. Mother had gone away.
Asked about their father. Their father had no work. Asked where
they slept last night. At their aunt's. I 've made inquiries, your
Worship. The wife has broken up the home and gone on the streets.
The husband is out of work and living in common lodging-houses. The
husband's sister has eight children of her own, and says she can't
afford to keep these little girls any longer.

MAGISTRATE. [Returning to his seat beneath the canopy of justice.]
Now, let me see. You say the mother is on the streets; what
evidence have you of that?

RELIEVING OFFICER. I have the husband here, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. Very well; then let us see him.

[There are cries of "LIVENS." The MAGISTRATE leans forward,
and stares with hard compassion at the little girls. LIVENS
comes in. He is quiet, with grizzled hair, and a muffler for a
collar. He stands beside the witness-box.]

And you, are their father? Now, why don't you keep your little
girls at home. How is it you leave them to wander about the streets
like this?

LIVENS. I've got no home, your Worship. I'm living from 'and to
mouth. I 've got no work; and nothin' to keep them on.

MAGISTRATE. How is that?

LIVENS. [Ashamedly.] My wife, she broke my 'ome up, and pawned the

MAGISTRATE. But what made you let her?

LEVINS. Your Worship, I'd no chance to stop 'er, she did it when I
was out lookin' for work.

MAGISTRATE. Did you ill-treat her?

LIVENS. [Emphatically.] I never raised my 'and to her in my life,
your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. Then what was it--did she drink?

LIVENS. Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. Was she loose in her behaviour?

LIVENS. [In a low voice.] Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. And where is she now?

LIVENS. I don't know your Worship. She went off with a man, and
after that I----

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes. Who knows anything of her? [To the bald
CONSTABLE.] Is she known here?

RELIEVING OFFICER. Not in this district, your Worship; but I have
ascertained that she is well known----

MAGISTRATE. Yes--yes; we'll stop at that. Now [To the Father] you
say that she has broken up your home, and left these little girls.
What provision can you make for them? You look a strong man.

LIVENS. So I am, your Worship. I'm willin' enough to work, but for
the life of me I can't get anything to do.

MAGISTRATE. But have you tried?

LIVENS. I've tried everything, your Worship--I 've tried my

MAGISTRATE. Well, well---- [There is a silence.]

RELIEVING OFFICER. If your Worship thinks it's a case, my people are
willing to take them.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, I know; but I've no evidence that this man is
not the proper guardian for his children.

[He rises oval goes back to the fire.]

RELIEVING OFFICER. The mother, your Worship, is able to get access
to them.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes; the mother, of course, is an improper person
to have anything to do with them. [To the Father.] Well, now what
do you say?

LIVENS. Your Worship, I can only say that if I could get work I
should be only too willing to provide for them. But what can I do,
your Worship? Here I am obliged to live from 'and to mouth in these
'ere common lodging-houses. I 'm a strong man--I'm willing to work
--I'm half as alive again as some of 'em--but you see, your Worship,
my 'airs' turned a bit, owing to the fever--[Touches his hair]--and
that's against me; and I don't seem to get a chance anyhow.

MAGISTRATE. Yes-yes. [Slowly.] Well, I think it 's a case.
[Staring his hardest at the little girls.] Now, are you willing
that these little girls should be sent to a home.

LIVENS. Yes, your Worship, I should be very willing.

MAGISTRATE. Well, I'll remand them for a week. Bring them again
to-day week; if I see no reason against it then, I 'll make an

RELIEVING OFFICER. To-day week, your Worship.

[The bald CONSTABLE takes the little girls out by the
shoulders. The father follows them. The MAGISTRATE, returning
to his seat, bends over and talks to his CLERK inaudibly.]

BARTHWICK. [Speaking behind his hand.] A painful case, Roper; very
distressing state of things.

ROPER. Hundreds like this in the Police Courts.

BARTHWICK. Most distressing! The more I see of it, the more
important this question of the condition of the people seems to
become. I shall certainly make a point of taking up the cudgels in
the House. I shall move----

[The MAGISTRATE ceases talking to his CLERK.]

CLERK. Remands!

[BARTHWICK stops abruptly. There is a stir and MRS. JONES
comes in by the public door; JONES, ushered by policemen, comes
from the prisoner's door. They file into the dock.]

CLERK. James Jones, Jane Jones.

USHER. Jane Jones!

BARTHWICK. [In a whisper.] The purse--the purse must be kept out
of it, Roper. Whatever happens you must keep that out of the

[ROPER nods.]


[MRS. JONES, dressed in hey thin, black, wispy dress, and black
straw hat, stands motionless with hands crossed on the front
rail of the dock. JONES leans against the back rail of the
dock, and keeps half turning, glancing defiantly about him. He
is haggard and unshaven.]

CLERK. [Consulting with his papers.] This is the case remanded
from last Wednesday, Sir. Theft of a silver cigarette-box and
assault on the police; the two charges were taken together. Jane
Jones! James Jones!

MAGISTRATE. [Staring.] Yes, yes; I remember.

CLERK. Jane Jones.

MRS. JONES. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. Do you admit stealing a silver cigarette-box valued at five
pounds, ten shillings, from the house of John BARTHWICK, M.P.,
between the hours of 11 p.m. on Easter Monday and 8.45 a.m. on
Easter Tuesday last? Yes, or no?

MRS. JONES. [In a logy voice.] No, Sir, I do not, sir.

CLERK. James Jones? Do you admit stealing a silver cigarette-box
valued at five pounds, ten shillings, from the house of John
BARTHWICK, M.P., between the hours of 11 p.m. on Easter Monday and
8.45 A.M. on Easter Tuesday last. And further making an assault on
the police when in the execution of their duty at 3 p.m. on Easter
Tuesday? Yes or no?

JONES. [Sullenly.] Yes, but I've got a lot to say about it.

MAGISTRATE. [To the CLERK.] Yes--yes. But how comes it that these
two people are charged with the same offence? Are they husband and

CLERK. Yes, Sir. You remember you ordered a remand for further
evidence as to the story of the male prisoner.

MAGISTRATE. Have they been in custody since?

CLERK. You released the woman on her own recognisances, sir.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, this is the case of the silver box; I
remember now. Well?

CLERK. Thomas Marlow.

[The cry of "THOMAS MARLOW" is repeated MARLOW comes in, and
steps into the witness-box.]

USHER. The evidence you give to the court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Kiss the

[The book is kissed. The silver box is handed up, and placed
on the rail.]

CLERK. [Reading from his papers.] Your name is Thomas Marlow? Are
you, butler to John BARTHWICK, M.P., of 6, Rockingham Gate?

MARLOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. Is that the box?

MARLOW. Yes Sir.

CLERK. And did you miss the same at 8.45 on the following morning,
on going to remove the tray?

MARLOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. Is the female prisoner known to you?

[MARLOW nods.]

Is she the charwoman. employed at 6, Rockingham Gate?

[Again MARLOW nods.]

Did you at the time of your missing the box find her in the room

MARLOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. Did you afterwards communicate the loss to your employer,
and did he send you to the police station?

MARLOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. [To MRS. JONES.] Have you anything to ask him?

MRS. JONES. No, sir, nothing, thank you, sir.

CLERK. [To JONES.] James Jones, have you anything to ask this

JONES. I don't know 'im.

MAGISTRATE. Are you sure you put the box in the place you say at
the time you say?

MARLOW. Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. Very well; then now let us have the officer.

[MARLOW leaves the box, and Snow goes into it.]

USHER. The evidence you give to the court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. [The book
is kissed.]

CLERK. [Reading from his papers.] Your name is Robert Allow? You
are a detective in the X. B. division of the Metropolitan police
force? According to instructions received did you on Easter Tuesday
last proceed to the prisoner's lodgings at 34, Merthyr Street, St.
Soames's? And did you on entering see the box produced, lying on
the table?

SNOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. Is that the box?

Snow. [Fingering the box.] Yes, Sir.

CLERK. And did you thereupon take possession of it, and charge the
female prisoner with theft of the box from 6, Rockingham Gate? And
did she deny the same?

SNOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. Did you take her into custody?

Snow. Yes, Sir.

MAGISTRATE. What was her behaviour?

SNOW. Perfectly quiet, your Worship. She persisted in the denial.
That's all.

MAGISTRATE. DO you know her?

SNOW. No, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. Is she known here?

BALD CONSTABLE. No, your Worship, they're neither of them known,
we 've nothing against them at all.

CLERK. [To MRS. JONES.] Have you anything to ask the officer?

MRS. JONES. No, sir, thank you, I 've nothing to ask him.

MAGISTRATE. Very well then--go on.

CLERK. [Reading from his papers.] And while you were taking the
female prisoner did the male prisoner interpose, and endeavour to
hinder you in the execution of your duty, and did he strike you a

SNOW. Yes, Sir.

CLERK. And did he say, "You, let her go, I took the box myself"?

SNOW. He did.

CLERK. And did you blow your whistle and obtain the assistance of
another constable, and take him into custody?

SNOW. I did.

CLERK. Was he violent on the way to the station, and did he use bad
language, and did he several times repeat that he had taken the box

[Snow nods.]

Did you thereupon ask him in what manner he had stolen the box? And
did you understand him to say he had entered the house at the
invitation of young Mr. BARTHWICK

[BARTHWICK, turning in his seat, frowns at ROPER.]

after midnight on Easter Monday, and partaken of whisky, and that
under the influence of the whisky he had taken the box?

SNOW. I did, sir.

CLERK. And was his demeanour throughout very violent?

SNOW. It was very violent.

JONES. [Breaking in.] Violent---of course it was! You put your
'ands on my wife when I kept tellin' you I took the thing myself.

MAGISTRATE. [Hissing, with protruded neck.] Now--you will have
your chance of saying what you want to say presently. Have you
anything to ask the officer?

JONES. [Sullenly.] No.

MAGISTRATE. Very well then. Now let us hear what the female
prisoner has to say first.

MRS. JONES. Well, your Worship, of course I can only say what I 've
said all along, that I did n't take the box.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, but did you know that it was taken?

MRS. JONES. No, your Worship. And, of course, to what my husband
says, your Worship, I can't speak of my own knowledge. Of course, I
know that he came home very late on the Monday night. It was past
one o'clock when he came in, and he was not himself at all.

MAGISTRATE. Had he been drinking?

MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE. And was he drunk?

MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship, he was almost quite drunk.

MAGISTRATE. And did he say anything to you?

MRS. JONES. No, your Worship, only to call me names. And of course
in the morning when I got up and went to work he was asleep. And I
don't know anything more about it until I came home again. Except
that Mr. BARTHWICK--that 's my employer, your Worship--told me the
box was missing.


MRS. JONES. But of course when I was shaking out my husband's coat
the cigarette-box fell out and all the cigarettes were scattered on
the bed.

MAGISTRATE. You say all the cigarettes were scattered on the bed?
[To SNOW.] Did you see the cigarettes scattered on the bed?

SNOW. No, your Worship, I did not.

MAGISTRATE. You see he says he did n't see them.

JONES. Well, they were there for all that.

SNOW. I can't say, your Worship, that I had the opportunity of
going round the room; I had all my work cut out with the male

MAGISTRATE. [To MRS. JONES.] Well, what more have you to say?

MRS. JONES. Of course when I saw the box, your Worship, I was
dreadfully upset, and I could n't think why he had done such a
thing; when the officer came we were having words about it, because
it is ruin to me, your Worship, in my profession, and I have three
little children dependent on me.

MAGISTRATE. [Protruding his neck]. Yes--yes--but what did he say
to you?

MRS. JONES. I asked him whatever came over him to do such a thing-
and he said it was the drink. He said he had had too much to drink,
and something came over him. And of course, your Worship, he had
had very little to eat all day, and the drink does go to the head
when you have not had enough to eat. Your Worship may not know, but
it is the truth. And I would like to say that all through his
married life, I have never known him to do such a thing before,
though we have passed through great hardships and [speaking with
soft emphasis] I am quite sure he would not have done it if he had
been himself at the time.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes. But don't you know that that is no excuse?

MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship. I know that it is no excuse.

[The MAGISTRATE leans over and parleys with his CLERK.]

JACK. [Leaning over from his seat behind.] I say, Dad----

BARTHWICK. Tsst! [Sheltering his mouth he speaks to ROPER.]
Roper, you had better get up now and say that considering the
circumstances and the poverty of the prisoners, we have no wish to
proceed any further, and if the magistrate would deal with the case
as one of disorder only on the part of----


[ROPER shakes his head.]

MAGISTRATE. Now, supposing what you say and what your husband says
is true, what I have to consider is--how did he obtain access to
this house, and were you in any way a party to his obtaining access?
You are the charwoman employed at the house?

MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship, and of course if I had let him into
the house it would have been very wrong of me; and I have never done
such a thing in any of the houses where I have been employed.

MAGISTRATE. Well--so you say. Now let us hear what story the male
prisoner makes of it.

JONES. [Who leans with his arms on the dock behind, speaks in a
slow, sullen voice.] Wot I say is wot my wife says. I 've never
been 'ad up in a police court before, an' I can prove I took it when
in liquor. I told her, and she can tell you the same, that I was
goin' to throw the thing into the water sooner then 'ave it on my

MAGISTRATE. But how did you get into the HOUSE?

JONES. I was passin'. I was goin' 'ome from the "Goat and Bells."

MAGISTRATE. The "Goat and Bells,"--what is that? A public-house?

JONES. Yes, at the corner. It was Bank 'oliday, an' I'd 'ad a drop
to drink. I see this young Mr. BARTHWICK tryin' to find the keyhole
on the wrong side of the door.


JONES. [Slowly and with many pauses.] Well---I 'elped 'im to find
it--drunk as a lord 'e was. He goes on, an' comes back again, and
says, I 've got nothin' for you, 'e says, but come in an' 'ave a
drink. So I went in just as you might 'ave done yourself. We 'ad a
drink o' whisky just as you might have 'ad, 'nd young Mr. BARTHWICK
says to me, "Take a drink 'nd a smoke. Take anything you like, 'e
says." And then he went to sleep on the sofa. I 'ad some more
whisky--an' I 'ad a smoke--and I 'ad some more whisky--an' I carn't
tell yer what 'appened after that.

MAGISTRATE. Do you mean to say that you were so drunk that you can
remember nothing?

JACK. [Softly to his father.] I say, that's exactly what----


JONES. That's what I do mean.

MAGISTRATE. And yet you say you stole the box?

JONES. I never stole the box. I took it.

MAGISTRATE. [Hissing with protruded neck.] You did not steal it--
you took it. Did it belong to you--what is that but stealing?

JONES. I took it.

MAGISTRATE. You took it--you took it away from their house and you
took it to your house----

JONES. [Sullenly breaking in.] I ain't got a house.

MAGISTRATE. Very well, let us hear what this young man Mr.--Mr.
BARTHWICK has to say to your story.

[SNOW leaves the witness-box. The BALD CONSTABLE beckons JACK,
who, clutching his hat, goes into the witness-box. ROPER moves
to the table set apart for his profession.]

SWEARING CLERK. The evidence you give to the court shall be the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
Kiss the book.

[The book is kissed.]

ROPER. [Examining.] What is your name?

JACK. [In a low voice.] John BARTHWICK, Junior.

[The CLERK writes it down.]

ROPER. Where do you live?

JACK. At 6, Rockingham Gate.

[All his answers are recorded by the Clerk.]

ROPER. You are the son of the owner?

JACK. [In a very low voice.] Yes.

ROPER. Speak up, please. Do you know the prisoners?

JACK. [Looking at the JONESES, in a low voice.] I 've seen Mrs.
Jones. I [in a loud voice] don't know the man.

JONES. Well, I know you!


ROPER. Now, did you come in late on the night of Easter Monday?

JACK. Yes.

ROPER. And did you by mistake leave your latch key in the door?

JACK. Yes.

MAGISTRATE. Oh! You left your latch-key in the door?

ROPER. And is that all you can remember about your coming in?

JACK. [In a loud voice.] Yes, it is.

MAGISTRATE. Now, you have heard the male prisoner's story, what do
you say to that?

JACK. [Turning to the MAGISTRATE, speaks suddenly in a confident,
straight-forward voice.] The fact of the matter is, sir, that I 'd
been out to the theatre that night, and had supper afterwards, and I
came in late.

MAGISTRATE. Do you remember this man being outside when you came

JACK. No, Sir. [He hesitates.] I don't think I do.

MAGISTRATE. [Somewhat puzzled.] Well, did he help you to open the
door, as he says? Did any one help you to open the door?

JACK. No, sir--I don't think so, sir--I don't know.

MAGISTRATE. You don't know? But you must know. It is n't a usual
thing for you to have the door opened for you, is it?

JACK. [With a shamefaced smile.] No.

MAGISTRATE. Very well, then----

JACK. [Desperately.] The fact of the matter is, sir, I'm afraid
I'd had too much champagne that night.

MAGISTRATE. [Smiling.] Oh! you'd had too much champagne?

JONES. May I ask the gentleman a question?

MAGISTRATE. Yes--yes--you may ask him what questions you like.

JONES. Don't you remember you said you was a Liberal, same as your
father, and you asked me wot I was?

JACK. [With his hand against his brow.] I seem to remember----

JONES. And I said to you, "I'm a bloomin' Conservative," I said;
an' you said to me, "You look more like one of these 'ere
Socialists. Take wotever you like," you said.

JACK. [With sudden resolution.] No, I don't. I don't remember
anything of the sort.

JONES. Well, I do, an' my word's as good as yours. I 've never
been had up in a police court before. Look 'ere, don't you remember
you had a sky-blue bag in your 'and [BARTHWICK jumps.]

ROPER. I submit to your worship that these questions are hardly to
the point, the prisoner having admitted that he himself does not
remember anything. [There is a smile on the face of Justice.] It
is a case of the blind leading the blind.

JONES. [Violently.] I've done no more than wot he 'as. I'm a poor
man; I've got no money an' no friends--he 's a toff--he can do wot I

MAGISTRATE: Now, now? All this won't help you--you must be quiet.
You say you took this box? Now, what made you take it? Were you
pressed for money?

JONES. I'm always pressed for money.

MAGISTRATE. Was that the reason you took it?


MAGISTRATE. [To SNOW.] Was anything found on him?

SNOW. Yes, your worship. There was six pounds twelve shillin's
found on him, and this purse.

[The red silk purse is handed to the MAGISTRATE. BARTHWICK
rises his seat, but hastily sits down again.]

MAGISTRATE. [Staring at the purse.] Yes, yes--let me see [There is
a silence.] No, no, I 've nothing before me as to the purse. How
did you come by all that money?

JONES. [After a long pause, suddenly.] I declines to say.

MAGISTRATE. But if you had all that money, what made you take this

JONES. I took it out of spite.

MAGISTRATE. [Hissing, with protruded neck.] You took it out of
spite? Well now, that's something! But do you imagine you can go
about the town taking things out of spite?

JONES. If you had my life, if you'd been out of work----

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes; I know--because you're out of work you think
it's an excuse for everything.

JONES. [Pointing at JACK.] You ask 'im wot made 'im take the----

ROPER. [Quietly.] Does your Worship require this witness in the
box any longer?

MAGISTRATE. [Ironically.] I think not; he is hardly profitable.

[JACK leaves the witness-box, and hanging his head, resumes his

JONES. You ask 'im wot made 'im take the lady's----

[But the BALD CONSTABLE catches him by the sleeve.]


MAGISTRATE. [Emphatically.] Now listen to me.

I 've nothing to do with what he may or may not have taken. Why did
you resist the police in the execution of their duty?

JONES. It war n't their duty to take my wife, a respectable woman,
that 'ad n't done nothing.

MAGISTRATE. But I say it was. What made you strike the officer a

JONES. Any man would a struck 'im a blow. I'd strike 'im again, I

MAGISTRATE. You are not making your case any better by violence.
How do you suppose we could get on if everybody behaved like you?

JONES. [Leaning forward, earnestly.] Well, wot, about 'er; who's
to make up to 'er for this? Who's to give 'er back 'er good name?

MRS. JONES. Your Worship, it's the children that's preying on his
mind, because of course I 've lost my work. And I've had to find
another room owing to the scandal.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, I know--but if he had n't acted like this
nobody would have suffered.

JONES. [Glaring round at JACK.] I 've done no worse than wot 'e
'as. Wot I want to know is wot 's goin' to be done to 'im.

[The BALD CONSTABLE again says "HSSh"]

ROPER. Mr. BARTHWICK wishes it known, your Worship, that
considering the poverty of the prisoners, he does not press the
charge as to the box. Perhaps your Worship would deal with the case
as one of disorder.

JONES. I don't want it smothered up, I want it all dealt with fair-
-I want my rights----

MAGISTRATE. [Rapping his desk.] Now you have said all you have to
say, and you will be quiet.

[There is a silence; the MAGISTRATE bends over and parleys with
his CLERK.]

Yes, I think I may discharge the woman. [In a kindly voice he
addresses MRS. JONES, who stands unmoving with her hands crossed on
the rail.] It is very unfortunate for you that this man has behaved
as he has. It is not the consequences to him but the consequences
to you. You have been brought here twice, you have lost your work--
[He glares at JONES]--and this is what always happens. Now you may
go away, and I am very sorry it was necessary to bring you here at

MRS. JONES. [Softly.] Thank you very much, your Worship.

[She leaves the dock, and looking back at JONES, twists her
fingers and is still.]

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, but I can't pass it over. Go away, there's a
good woman.

[MRS. JONES stands back. The MAGISTRATE leans his head on his
hand; then raising it he speaks to JONES.]

Now, listen to me. Do you wish the case to be settled here, or do
you wish it to go before a jury?

JONES. [Muttering.] I don't want no jury.

MAGISTRATE. Very well then, I will deal with it here. [After a
pause.] You have pleaded guilty to stealing this box----

JONES. Not to stealin'----


MAGISTRATE. And to assaulting the police----

JONES. Any man as was a man----

MAGISTRATE. Your conduct here has been most improper. You give the
excuse that you were drunk when you stole the box. I tell you that
is no excuse. If you choose to get drunk and break the law
afterwards you must take the consequences. And let me tell you that
men like you, who get drunk and give way to your spite or whatever
it is that's in you, are--are--a nuisance to the community.

JACK. [Leaning from his seat.] Dad! that's what you said to me!


[There is a silence, while the MAGISTRATE consults his CLERK;
JONES leans forward waiting.]

MAGISTRATE. This is your first offence, and I am going to give you
a light sentence. [Speaking sharply, but without expression.] One
month with hard labour.

[He bends, and parleys with his CLERK. The BALD CONSTABLE and
another help JONES from the dock.]

JONES. [Stopping and twisting round.] Call this justice? What
about 'im? 'E got drunk! 'E took the purse--'e took the purse but
[in a muffled shout] it's 'is money got 'im off--JUSTICE!

[The prisoner's door is shut on JONES, and from the seedy-
looking men and women comes a hoarse and whispering groan.]

MAGISTRATE. We will now adjourn for lunch! [He rises from his

[The Court is in a stir. ROPER gets up and speaks to the
reporter. JACK, throwing up his head, walks with a swagger to
the corridor; BARTHWICK follows.]

MRS. JONES. [Turning to him zenith a humble gesture.] Oh! sir!

[BARTHWICK hesitates, then yielding to his nerves, he makes a
shame-faced gesture of refusal, and hurries out of court. MRS.
JONES stands looking after him.]

The curtain falls.

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