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Ald. A lump of tallow, dog?—it's a winding-sheet! I never saw a more perfect one in my life. We'll not go to bed to-night.
Lay. But what we have already told you, is not all, sir; he openly confessed he was addicted to the grave.
Ald. Addicted to the grave! my back fairly opens and
Dic. Depend upon it, he has summat on his mind. I shouldn't wonder if he hadn't been privately murdered by somebody, and be come here to get him hung.
Geo. Something on his mind! Talking of that, just before he vanished up stairs, he groaned out, that he had a dreadful secret to disclose to you?
Ald. To me: Mercy on me, you put me all in a cold shiver, girl.
Geo. And don't you remember, Lavinia, he said he was obliged to disappear at day-break?
Dic. Disappear at day-break! I warrant him. The mo ment the cock crows, he mun go bang through the key-hole. Lav. But he left his compliments, and said, he should be sure to come again to-morrow night.
Ald. Hang him! I'll have him laid in the Red Sea-I'll stop up all the key-holes-I'll exorcise him. Oh that I did but understand Latin !
Dic. It would be o' no use, 'squire; he'd come down the chimney, dressed all in white. Ah! I knew it warn't for nothing I see'd those three damned ravens sitting_cawing by the hedge-side, to-day :-caw! caw! caw! Besides that, this very morning, just as I stepped into the cellar, to get a cup of your honor's own particular October
Ald. Ah, when I was looking all over the house after you, and wanted you so
Dic. Yeas, sir-I heard a loud voice cry, DickoryDickory Dick-three times.
Ald. Bless us, and save us! It was'nt my voice, was it, Dickory ?
Dic. Na, squire, it were likerer to a trumpet: and just about the time the poor gentleman left off living, our great kitchen jack stopp'd.
Ald. It's past all doubt. Mrs. Veal's ghost itself was'nt more sure. What o'clock was it when Mr. Nic-that is, when the gho-Lord bless me! that is, when IT, you know who, arrived?
Lav. Exactly twelve; midnight, sir.
Geo. Just twelve !
Ald. The very hour; they mustn't come out before twelve.
Geo. Oh, dear Papa, I never can sleep alone after this. If Mr. Nicodemus comes haunting us at nights, in this manner, I really must marry the captain, if it's only to take care of me; so you'd better let me bave him at once, Pa.
Ald. Eh, what noise is that?-Mercy on me, I hope it is'nt
Dic. He be coming-He be coming, squire!
Ald. Who, Dickory?
Dic. The ghost, sir.
Ald. Let me get out of the way.
What's to be done? Dic. Get behind this screen, and I'll hide under the table. Oh gemini ! here he be― [Peeps under the table. Ald. Oh dear! oh dear! make haste! make haste! I tremble at every joint.
[Aldwinkle, Georgiana, and Lavinia hide behind the screen-Aldwinkle peeps over the top, Georgiana and Lavinia at each side-Dickory peeps under the table-cloth.]
Enter NICODEMUS, R.
Nic. I cannot rest.
Ald. [Looking over the screen, aside.] No, I'll be bound you can't.
Dic. Poor soul !
[Aside. Nic. It must be near day-break. I smell the morning air quite fresh-hark!-there's a cock crowing. 'Tis time for me to depart.
Ald. [Aside.] Mark that.-Poor devil!
Nic. I shall not be at peace till the burial's over, and I have revealed this important secret to the family. Hark! the cock crows again. I must depart. Paul will be waiting for me. Heigho! [Exit NICODEMUS, L. [They all creep out, watching him off with fear and won
END OF ACT I.
SCENE 1-Another Apartment in Aldwinkle Hall.
Ald. What a state of mind have I been in, for the last
twenty-four hours: but, having been to the half-way-house, and convinced myself of the truth of your story, I confess I was wrong, when I suspected you of attempting to deceive me; I was wrong, very wrong.
Dic. E'es, sur, you were.
Ald. But I really thought you had been drinking ;-you know you do drink sometimes, Dickory.
Dic. E'es, sur, when I be dry.
Aid. However, I must endeavour to make you amends, Dickory, some of these days.
Dic. E'es, sur, you must. Dickens, how my hand do itch!-that be a sure sign I shall ha' some money soon; I should'nt wonder if your honor was'nt going to give me a guinea.
Ald. Eh? a guinea-hum-there's no guineas, nowa-days, Dickory: however, you shall have a sovereign; that will do as well. [Gives him a sovereign.
Dic. E'es, sur, better-I'm a loyal subject, and wish very much for a sovereign. He! he! he ! [Looks at the sovereign. Ald. Why what are you grinning at now?
Dic. Wo'n't you crown him, sir?
Ald. Crown what?
Dic. Why, sovereign, to be sure.
[Holds out his hand to Aldwinkle with a sovereign in it. All. The scoundrel; but, however, the sovereign must not remain uncrown'd, for want of five shillings. I'm glad to learn from the landlord, that poor Mr. Nicodemus's relations are going to attend to the funeral themselves; it will save me a world of trouble, for I could'nt have refused to put his body under ground. I hope he'll keep there, when he is there, and not pay us any more of his visits. Dic. He'll be sure to come again to-night, squire; you know he said he would.
Ald. Lord bless me! so he did.
Dic. He has'nt told you the secret, yet; and he won't rest till that be out, depend upon it ;-noue of them can. Ald. True, true-mercy on me-what is it o'clock now, Dickory?
Dic. Just twelve: the time he came last night.
Ald. Oh, my poor wits, they are nearly all frightened away; the unhappy gentleman must have been a terrible wicked reprobate in his time, for his poor soul to be wandering about in this manner, Dickory.
Dic. Yeas, he mun, indeed: but he he paying for it now. Eh! what's that? There he be again, sur.
Ald. Oh dear! oh dear! Stand back, and let us observe him.
[Aldwinkle and Dickory retire to the back of the stage.
Enter NICODEMUS, L.
Nic. (c.) Very odd, they should leave all the doors open at this time o'night. I'm glad one melancholy day is over, and that I have gone through so much of the painful duty imposed upon me. Night's the only time I have left to myself now. But where can this Aldwinkle be? I must
not any longer delay revealing the important secret to him. I shall not be easy till then, solemnly enjoined to it, as I was, in the immediate moments of death. He little suspects who I am.
Ald. [Aside.] Don't be too sure of that.
[Advances to the front of the stage, R. C. Nic. But where can he be?
Ald. Now for it.
Nic. [Looking round and seeing Aldwinkle.] Eh!-here? this is very odd-Your servant, Mr. Aldwinkle.
Ald. What can I do to give peace to your poor unhappy soul! If you've any thing to unfold, I conjure you to disclose it at once.
Nic. I will-I am not what I seem, nor what you take me to be.
Ald. I know it, poor miserable wretch!
Dic. The murder be all coming out now [Aside.]
Nic. Though I bear the name of Nicodemus, and exactly resemble him in every particular, I- -prepare your
Ald. I am prepared. Lord bless me !
Nic. I-I am merely the representative of that unhappy nan-he is no longer in this world.
Ald. I know it, Mr. Gho-that is, Mr. Representative. Nic. Unfortunate Gaspar-excuse my being overcome; I have had a long journey.
Dic. Yeas, it be a good way, I dare say, from the other world. [Aside.]
Nic. I had a pleasant walk through the church-yard, though.
Ald. Oh, no doubt, you found yourself quite at home there.
Nic. Shall I relate to you the particulars of the unhappy event?
Ald. Oh, no; pray don't trouble yourself, Mr. Repre sentative. I am fully acquainted with all.
You communicated the me
Nic. I am happy you are. lancholy fact to your daughter?
Ald. I did.
Nic. Is she resigned ?
Nic "Tis fortunate! Though her destined bridegroom be no longer in the land of the living, she can still be Mrs. Nicodemus. I offer her my haud.
[He starts back, alarmed. Nic. I shall provide suitable apartments.
Dic. [Aside.] Yeas; on the ground floor, I suppose. Nic. But we will settle these things hereafter; I have business to-night. I expect a messenger, every moment, from the sextou and undertaker.
Ald. Lord ha' mercy on us! I would'nt intrude, for the world! No doubt, another ghost, like himself. Come along, Dickory.
Dic. Wi' all my heart. I don't want bidding twice! [Exeunt Dickory, L. D. F. and Aldwinkle, R. D. F. where they conceal themselves, and peep out.]
Nic. (c.) That's a very strange old fellow in fact, they seem a very strange family, all together a little touched, I think. Where can Paul be? I desired him to meet me here, let it be ever so late.-Eh, I am blaming him without cause; he is true to his appointment!
Enter PAUL, in a mourning cloak, hatband, &c. L.
I was just wishing for you, Paul.
Paul. (L. c.) I could'nt possibly be here before, sir: to settle every thing, I've flown like lightning, as it is.
Ald. [Aside to Dickory, peeping out L. D. F.] Who can this terrible looking figure be, all in black?
Dic. [Aside to Aldwinkle, peeping out R. D. F.] Depend upon it, squire, as Mr. Nicodemus be young Nick, that this be Old Nick.
Nic. [To Paul.] Have you settled with the sexton, about the grave?
Paul. Make your mind easy, sir; I have got you as nice a grave as you can possibly desire; roomy, dry, and eight feet deep.
Ald. [R. D. F.] Curse him! I wish he was now in it.