THE “HACT”: OR WHAT MAY HAPPEN EVERY DAY.
A Faroe in Two Acts. Act L [Scene : Hotel parlor; time: after dinner. A pouring wet evening. Boarders discovered sitting around.] ■ ■ Conversation has been nagging for some time when Jones (sprawling on the sofa in the corner) to Brown (lounging in the arm-chair by the window), struck by a happy thought—- “ I say, let’s have a five-handed game of euchre. What’s the verdict 1” Omnes : “ Bravo ! But where are tha cards ?” [Jones rings the bell and waiter enters.] Jones : “ Let us have a pack of cards, will you ?” Waiter: ‘‘Very sorry, sir, but my orders are not to allow any card-playing inthe’puse.” Brown, Jones, and Robinson (in one •• breath): “What?” [The waiter reiterates' the statement, . and is told to “send up the boss.”] Mr Bungs (the landlord, appearing at the door) : “ Really I regret this very much, gentlemen, lam sure. Should like a hand at cards myself, but I daren’t doit. The Gaming and Lotteries BilL gentlemen, have put the set on that, and a good many other things as well which is , what I calls ’armless amusements. ” [Landlord retires, and dismay sets on every face.] Smith (after a long and weary pause) ; “ Well, let’s have a drink. It’s too wet to# go out, and if it wasn’t, there’s no where to go. We must have some diversion, so let’s go a bob in.” Carried unanimously. [Bell rings and waiter reappears.] Smith (majestically): “Bring the bones.” Waiter (deferentially): “Very sorry, gentlemen, but it’s against the boss’s orders.” [A loud laugh follows the announcement and the waiter is told to fetch the landlord. Waiter disappears grinning, and is succeeded by the landlord, who says that he hasn’t got a dice-box in the place, and daren’t have one. He might lose his license if the police found such a thing.] Brown (After a longer and drearier pause): “ Well, this isn’t good enough. 'I vote we adjourn to my bachelor diggings. , We can play there till all’s blue if we like.'; How say you 1” Carried with acclamation. Act IL [Scene : Brown’s rooms. Our, party discovered in a luxuriantly - furnished snuggery deep in a game of five-handed euchre.] Bobby A 1 having watched from the corner of the street the party enter the house, silently follows; He is awfully hard up for a case. Thinks a crowd of five men entering a house after dark want keeping an eye on. He approaches Brown’s snuggery window with cautious footsteps, and peeps in through the window. One glance is enough. “ Gambling in a private house, and in direct violation of the hact,” ' murmurs the active and intelligent officer. To repair to the house of a neighboring J. 8., and procure a search warrant from that worthy, is, as Mayne Reyd would say, but the work of a moment. Brown : (Still playing within), “ Well if this goes on I shall be ruined —that makes two bob gone if [A loud knocking is heard at the door.] Brown: “ Why bless me who’s that?” —(looks out of window) “why it’s a bobby—what bn earth. ” [Knocking repeated.] Brownopens wide the door, and confronts the man in blue. That worthy brushes quickly by him and walks into the snuggery. Active and intelligent officer, glancing round: “ Come, 1 say yer know, this won’t do!” Brown : “ Won’t do ?—what dy’a mean —you’re drunk my good man and trespassing !” Active and intelligent officer (Composedly): “Now, stow all that. You snows very well as gambling in contrary to law.” , Omnes: “ Gambling !” Brown; “ We re not gambling ; we’re playing f or drinks. Why I’ve done it hundreds of times.” Active and intelligent officer (holding up a warning and very fat fore-finger): “H-s-sh! Remember whatever you now say will be taken down in writing, and may be used against you”— „ Brown (interrupting) : “ Bosh !’ [Bobby seizing the cards and three shillings on the table and putting them in his pocket]: “ Now, I don’t want tew frighten you, you know, but there’s a fine of L 5 each sticking out all round,” Omnes: (excitedly) “It’s false. You just show us your authority for intruding upon our privacy ; for pocketing our coin and cards, and for making this outrageous statement about the L 5 fine. ” Bobby (sitting down with much coolness and producing from his pocket a copy of the “ Hact”); “ Section 3 gives mo authority to enter. Sub-section 4 provides that on c onviction you are liable to be fined LB a-piece. Sub-section 3 empowers us to seize ‘ all instruments of gaming and all moneys found ” in the house where gaming has been carried on. What d’ye think of that ? The Hact.” Brown: (suddenly) “ Oh, hang the Act. What will you imbibe, Robert I—have some fizz ?” [An hour later that bobby goes away slightly “ under the influence,” having imbibed a good deal of excellent champagne, but not enough to render him altogether oblivious to the importance of the “ Hact.”] Smith, Brown, Jones, Robinson, and Tompkins play on until “ the wee sma’ hours,” and then, over a parting glass, solemnly vow that they’ll quit the country at the earliest opportunity, and seek in other climes that freedom so essential to Britons, who “ Never, never, never,’ I etC ‘ . Mask.
Permanent link to this item
THE “HACT”: OR WHAT MAY HAPPEN EVERY DAY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 501, 25 November 1881
THE “HACT”: OR WHAT MAY HAPPEN EVERY DAY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 501, 25 November 1881
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.