Wild Geese : A Comedy in three Acts

by Bassett Kendall


(The same scene. The following morning.)

(The two detectives are sitting at a table. Nutter standing near.)

Civ. We’ll just run over these facts once again – when you turned on the lights I was lying on the sofa.

Nut. Yes, sir.

Civ. Where was my head?

Nut. In the bag, sir.

Civ. I mean, in which direction.

Nut. Oh, I see sir. At this end of the sofa, sir.

Civ. And the Negro?

Nut. Was just about there, sir.

Civ. Was he bending over me?

Nut. Not at the time, sir.

Civ. You’re sure of that? It’s important. –

Nut. He was standing quite upright, sir.

Civ. That’s funny. (To Pinçon.)

Pin. ’Ave you make some noise in entering ze room?

Nut. Not that I’m aware of, sir.

Civ. Then that’s all you know?

Nut. Yes, sir.

Civ. Thank you, Nutter.

Nut. Thank you, sir. (Nutter goes to door.)

Pin. Von moment, Nutter. Ven you enter my room last night you bring viz you a great odour of chloroform. ’Ow do you explain zat?

Nut. I’d just taken the Inspector’s head out of the bag, sir. (Dets. nod as if satisfied.)

Civ. One thing more, Nutter – if you notice any suspicious behaviour on the part of any of the guests, report to me at once.

Nut. Very good, sir. (Exit Nutter.)

Pin. If ve not obtain enough of evidence from ’im, I beg zat it be permit to me to essay ze French method of examination.

Civ. Acting the scene to watch the effect? (Pin nods.) It’s not done in our country, you know.

Pin. But it is une bonne idee. Ve can assemble all ze peoples in zis room and if one shall become unconscious, zen ve ave ze criminal.

Civ. Well the investigations are only informal at present: we’ll try it. But we’ll see the nigger first: I’ll go and fetch him. (Exit Civ.)

(Pinçon lights cigarette: enter Tramp.)

Tramp. Well, Froggy, solved the mystery yet?

Pin. Vat you vant?

Tramp. I want the sofa. It’s a very comfortable one.

Pin. It is not permit zat you remain ’ere.

Tramp. I quite understand, Billy goat. (Sits on sofa.)

Pin. You ’ave not understand, I zink. I ’ave said it is not permit zat you remain ’ere.

Tramp. Yes, I took you to mean that.

Pin. Vat you call yourself?

Tramp. Come, that’s better – that’ll set the ball rolling – Now can have a bit of a chat. My name’s Joe Collins, what’s yours?

Pin. Anozer Joe Collins?

Tramp. Well, that makes nine.

Pin. I do not vish to say that I call myself Joe Collins – bot you are anozer Joe Collins.

Tramp. Yes, I think I have the distinction of being the only Joe you haven’t arrested yet – oh, except Grandfather – you haven’t met him yet, have you? You’ll like Grandfather but he has one bad fault – he’s continually changing the subject in a conversation.

Pin. You can take yourself into ze dining-room.

Tramp. No – old Stickphast’s in there. I much prefer your society to his.

(Enter Civ. and Negro.)

Tramp. Morning, Inspector. Morning, old King Cole. Slept well?

Civ. Clear out of here.

Tramp. (Rising.) I was only waiting to be asked civilly. (Tramp moves towards door.) Cheer up Dixie; I don’t believe you’re as black as you’re painted. (Exit Tramp.)

Civ. You can sit down, Collins.

Negro. Thanks. (Sits heavily.)

Civ. Remember, you needn’t answer any questions if you don’t want to.

Negro. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ll answer anything.

Civ. Why did you try to dope me last night.

Negro. I didn’t try to dope you – that’s the solemn truth, Inspector.

Civ. Very well. Tell the story in your own way. But appearances are pretty black against you, Collins – and there are several things you’ll find it pretty difficult to explain.

Negro. After I went upstairs last night – I just sat in a chair in my room. You’ll recollect that I was a bit upset – and I didn’t feel like going to bed. Waal – I felt I’d made a bad impression and I wanted to tell you the absolute truth about September 4th.

Civ. We’ll come back to September 4th. in a moment. Lets hear first about last night.

Negro. Waal, I wanted to see you – so I came downstairs. When I was outside the door here I heard a kind of choking gasp and I came right in to see what it was. The room was quite dark and I groped about in a lost kind of a way – then suddenly the waiter came in and turned up the switches. And that’s all I know about it.

Civ. Then I suppose you think I put a chloroform bag on my head and lay down on the sofa for a nice little nap?

Negro. Some other guy might have done it.

Civ. Was anyone else in the room?

Negro. The waiter fellow.

Civ. Who had just come in and turned on the lights. Which door did you come in by?

Negro. That one. (Pointing R.)

Civ. You must have made a long arm to turn off the lights.

Negro. I didn’t turn them off. I tell you the room was dark when I came in.

Pin. Bot if you come in by zat door and Nutter come in by zis door, ’ow could any ozer body escape?

Negro. I don’t know – all I say is –

Civ. No, no, Collins. Your story won’t wash – we might be more disposed to believe you if you’d told the truth last night about your movements on September 4th. You said you spent the night at the Branksome Hotel, Bournemouth: that was not true. I’ve rung up the Hotel this morning and I find that you arrived there at a little after 7 o’clock on the morning of September 5th. Your dress clothes were dirty and your shirt crumpled. By your own account you left Brockenhurst at 10.30. the previous night and motored via Lymington to Bournemouth. How do you account for your movements between 10.30 and 7?

Negro. (Very frightened.) That’s what I was coming down to tell you last nigh Inspector – I swear it was – I ran out of petrol.

Civ. Where did you run out of petrol?

Negro. Between Lymington and Bournemouth. I had to walk two miles to a garage and then wait till it opened.

Civ. What was the name of the garage?

Negro. (Taken aback.) I don’t know – but I swear it’s the truth.

Civ. And you have nothing more to tell us?

Negro. That’s all I know.

(Enter Grand.)

Grand. I do feel that low this morning. (Walks to chair and sits.)

Civ. We’ll try your plan. (Rings the bell.)

Negro. What are you going to do with me?

Civ. I can’t answer that question, yet.

(Enter Nutter.)

Civ. Ask all the other Mr. Collinses to come in here, please.

Nut. Very good, sir. And the ladies, sir?

Civ. Yes – better have the whole bunch.

Nut. Thank you, sir. (Exit Nutter.)

Pin. (To Negro.) Please to sit yourself in zat chair viz your face to ze light. (Negro rises heavily and sits in chair indicated. Enter Nurse.)

Nurse. You want us all, Inspector?

Civ. Yes, please, Miss Collins. (She sits on sofa.)

(Enter all the rest except Crisp and Nutter.)

Col. What do you want, Inspector?

Civ. Will you all sit down, please. My colleague. Mr. Pinçon, will describe to you what happened on September 4th. at Densington.

Tramp. (Who came in last.) Luck’s out – I’m too late for the sofa.

(All sit down. Throughout this next scene Pin. and Civ. watch the effect on others – but especially on Negro. Negro instead of being overcome is gradually recovering from his cross-examination.)

Pin. The time ’as now come, ladies and gentlemens, ven you shall know more exactly vat ’as arrived in ze night September ze four.

Mrs. C. (in a loud undertone.) Isn’t ’e going to tell us in English?

Und. It is English in parts. If you listen careful you’ll catch about every other word.

Pin. Mr. ze Duc de Romsey retire for ze night at eleven hours and ’alf.

Mrs. C. ’E always did sleep well as a child.

Civ. please don’t interrupt, Mrs. Collins.

Mrs. C. I’m sure I’m sorry, sir – but I couldn’t help thinking –

Pin. At some hour of ze night, Mr. ze Duc wake himself.

Und. I thought the burglar woke him. (Civ. looks at him.) I beg pardon, sir.

Pin. ’E ’ear a noise and walk down ze staircase.

Tramp. Well – you wouldn’t expect him to slide down.

Mrs. C. ’E often used to as a child, Joe: borrowed the kitchen tray.

Civ. I must ask for absolute silence, please.

Grand. I ’ad ’iccups ’alf the night, ma’am. (To Nurse.)

Pin. (Acting the whole scene.) Zen ze burglar come also down ze staircase unseen to Mr. ze Duc.

Col. Forgive my interrupting, sir, but if the Duke was looking for a burglar and he walked down the staircase –

Civ. The Duke was shortsighted, Colonel. He probably forgot to put on his glasses on waking up so suddenly.

Col. Thank you.

Pin. Ze burglar zen come down ze staircase. ’E see Mr. ze Duc standing in ze ’all.

Nurse. But surely he couldn’t have been as shortsighted as all that?

Mrs. C. Nor wasn’t, Miss. ’E could see as well as you or me.

Civ. But he always wore spectacles.

Mrs. C. Yes sir. ’Is eyes was asthmatic, sir – that’s what the oxylist used to say about ’im as a child.

Pin. Ze burglar must ’ave see Mr. ze Duc; it matter not if Mr. ze Duc see ze burglar. ’E raise a large stick vich ’e carry –

Und. But wasn’t he carrying the jools?

Pin. On ze von ’and ’e carry ze jewel on ze ozer ’and ’e carry ze stick. ’E raise ze stick and ’E make it to descend on ze back of ze ’ead of Mr. ze Duc.

Nurse. Was the Duke deaf as well as blind? Why had he got his back turned to the burglar?

Pin. Ze burglar descend ze staircase viz incredible silence –

Tramp. Probably ’ad domes of silence on ’is boots.

Pin. Mr. ze Duc ’as utter von profound groan and slide to ze ground. (Illustrated.)

Grand. What’s ’appened to the chap with the beard?

Son. You’re not to talk, Grandfather.

Grand. I don’t want to go for a walk, Joey. I’m enjoying myself ’ere.

Pin. Ze burglar ’e bend over ’is tumbled prey – Zere is no minute to lose. ’E elevate ze body on ze.. epaule.

Nurse. Shoulder.

Pin. Sank you – on ze soldier and bear it from ze door. (Grand. claps and laughs.) ’E place it helter skelter into ze automobile vich vait all zis time vizout ze ’ouse. (Grand. more and more enthusiastic.) ’E drive rapid to ze little bridge vich traverse ze river above ze puddle of ze Devil.

Tramp. He must have felt in the devil of a puddle himself.

Pin. ’E extrack ze body of Mr. ze Duo from ze automobile – draw ’im to ze margin of ze bridge, elevate ’im on ’igh and let ’im tumble viz all ’is might and main into ze puddle of ze Devil. (Grand. Applauds violently.)

Grand. Don’t ’e do it grand.

Pin. Zat is ze conclusion of Mr. Ze Duc. Zere ’e lie drenched and dead in ze profundity of ze puddle.

(Mrs. C. whose eyes have been starting further and further out of her head suddenly gives a gasp and falls unconscious. General sensation. Nurse rises from sofa and attends to her. Tramp at once takes her place on sofa.)

Grand. Is the old lady going to do it now? (Claps vigorously.)

Nurse. She’s fainted, that’s all. Get some brandy. (Exit Col.)

Civ. (To Pinçon.) Caught the wrong bird, I’m afraid.

Pin. It vas not needs be a man.

Mrs. C. (recovering.) Where am I?

Nurse. You’ll be all right in a minute, Mrs. Collins. Don’t try to talk. (To others.) Please don’t crowd round so much

Und. Keep back, Joey. Lor’, ain’t she white?

Mrs. C. What’s ’appened?

Und. Poor thing, she can’t remember nothing.

Nurse. You were overcome with emotion, Mrs. Collins.

Mrs. C. It wasn’t that, Miss. My feelings got the better of me.

Tramp. Throw a bucket of cold water over her. (Enter Col. with brandy.)

Nurse. Drink a little of this. (Mrs. C. laps it up.)

Grand. Is that ginger?

Mrs. C. That’s better. I ’ope you’ll excuse me, I’m sure, giving all this trouble, Miss.

Nurse. You’d better come upstairs and lie down. Will you help her up, Mr. Collins. (To Und.)

Und. That I will, madam, and welcome. (Nurse and Und. help Mrs. C. out of chair with great difficulty and struggle with her towards the door.)

Tramp. You’re only shamming, Joe. You can walk much better than that.

Mrs. C. (Brisking up and leaving her supporters.) Well, of all the unnatural things, Joe, you’re the worst – and you my brother-in-law, too.

Tramp. I thought that would bring you round, Joe.

Mrs. C. Oh, I’m coming all over fainty again.

(Und. and Nurse take her out. Tramp walks solemnly over to get the brandy, but Colonel has picked up decanter first and is taking it towards door.)

Tramp. That’s an ungentlemanly action, old Starch trousers. I think you might have gone shares like a Christian.

(Col. carries out decanter with great dignity.) (Enter Nutter with note on salver.)

Nut. This wire has just come through on the telephone, sir. (He hands it to Civ.)

Civ. (Reads.) “Briggs, Churnford Hall. Cease investigations. Collins arrested Liverpool last night. Scotland Yard.” That’s very odd – when did this come through?

Nut. Just now sir. I copied it down and brought it straight in.

Negro. Then that means I’m no longer under suspicion.

Civ. Well, Collins, I’m taking no risks. (To Pinçon.) I’ll ring up the Yard at once. Where’s the telephone?

Nut. I’ll show you, sir. (Exeunt Civ. and Nutter.)

Pin. You vill come viz me again to your room.

Negro. Say – you’re not going to lock me up again? If the murderer has been spotted, there’s no reason to keep us in this darned house any longer.

Pin. You vill be release ven ve are satisfied zat you are innocent. Come. (Pin. leads Negro out.)

Tramp. Well – I don’t feel safe stopping here with Collins and Collins.

Son. What d’yer mean? Not safe?

Tramp. If Father was to come back, the whole firm would be here – and then you’d probably start measuring me for a coffin.

(As he strolls to the door Col. enters – Tramp turns round without a word and exit by the other door.)

Col. I say, Collins, didn’t I see you on the stairs when the Nigger came in here last night?

Son. What are you getting at?

Col. I mean just when the Inspector was assaulted and doped.

Son. What’s that got to do with you?

Col. Nothing at all. But you were there, weren’t you?

Son. Well, suppose I was, I don’t see – as a matter of fact Grandfather was feeling bad and asked me to come down and see if there was any ginger about.

Col. Quite. Then you saw the nigger come into that door?

Son. I couldn’t very well help it. If it comes to that, what were you doing in the passage?

Col. Come, Collins we’re all getting a bit jumpy. If you want to know, I’d left my sponge in the bathroom before dinner. But I saw the nigger come in here and so did you.

Son. Well, what about it? (Col. looks meaningly at Grand. who is staring at them.) Oh, it’s all right – Grandfather can’t ’ear a word.

Col. Well, how long was it between the time he went into the door and the time when Nutter gave the alarm?

Son. About ten seconds, I should think.

Col. That’s just what I should say. And I think we ought to tell the Detectives that: they evidently suspect the poor brute.

Son. Well, I’d rather they suspected the nigger than me.

Col. Quite so – but it doesn’t seem quite fair to withhold evidence, does it?

Son. If it comes to that, I suppose not. (Enter Pinçon.)

Pin. Eh bien – I ’ave my bete noir again beneaz ze key and lock.

Col. Can we have a word with you, Mr.. Pinçon? (Enter Civ.)

Civ. That telephone’s out of order. Where’s Nutter? (Rings.)

Col. I thought we ought to tell you something, Inspector.

Civ. What is it, Colonel? (Enter Nutter.) Oh Nutter, did you know the telephone was out of order?

Nut. I don’t see how it can be, sir. I took that telegram on it myself.

Civ. When’s the confirmatory copy likely to come up?

Nut. When the next post comes in, sir, at 5 o’clock.

Civ. I shall send down to the Post Office to have it verified.

Nut. Shall I run down there for you, sir?

Civ. No, I’ll send one of my own men.

Nut. Very good, sir. (Exeunt Civ. and Nutter.)

Col. Now, Mr. Pinçon, we have some rather important information to give you.

Grand. Is it nearly dinner time, Joey?

Son. Be quiet, Grandfather, you’d better.

Grand. Yes, I’m a tidy bit better, Joe. I’m getting quite peckish. I’ll go and see if there’s another goose. (Exit Grand.)

Pin. You say you ’ave somesing of importitude to say to me?

Col. Yes, last night –

(Enter Civ.)

Civ. I’ve sent a man down, so we shall know in a few minutes if that wire’s genuine. Now, Colonel, you want to tell us something.

Col. Yes. Last night this gentleman and I both saw the nigger come into this room.

Civ. When he assaulted me?

Col. When he is supposed to have assaulted you.

Civ. Yes?

Col. Well – not more than ten seconds had elapsed before Nutter called for help.

Civ. You’re certain of that?

Col. Mr. Collins here agrees with me.

Son. That’s right, Colonel.

Civ. Which of you was nearer to the door?

Son. I was, sir. I was on the stairs and the Colonel was in the passage above.

Civ. When did Nutter enter the room?

Col. He came in by the other door, didn’t he? From the passage near the front door?

Civ. Probably he did, as he turned up the lights at once.

Son. So we couldn’t see him, could we, Sir?

Civ. No.

Pin. ’Ave you not say, zat ze lights was extinguish before you were attack?

Civ. Certainly.

Pin. Zen ze Black cannot ’ave extinguish them if ’e is seen to enter by zis door.

Civ. Then that brings it down to Nutter.

Pin. Not necessary, mon ami. (Acts this description.) Ze attacker enter by zis door; ’e extinguish ze light; ’e seize you at ze sroat. (Does so.)

Civ. Here – steady.

Pin. Sousand pardon! ’E draw you ze sack over ze ’ead. You tumble onto ze sofa. ’E ’ear zis door open. ’E cannot conceal ’imself. And ven ze ozer peoples came in, ’e is just zere – van of ze many.

Son. All we wanted to say was that there was no more reason to suspect the Blackamoor than anyone else.

Col. Exactly. It was quite impossible that he could have attacked you in the time – let alone the question of the lights.

Son. We thought we ought to to tell you that, as you evidently suspected the poor brute. It ’ardly seemed fair to with’old evidence.

Col. Mr. Collins has expressed my sentiments most accurately.

Civ. Very proper, Mr. Collins. Well, what do you think, Mr. Pinçon? Our case against the Negro has broken dawn, eh?

Pin. But ’e can still ’ave murdered Mr. ze Duc.

Civ. Quite right. But we have no more against him than anyone else.

Pin. I will set him to liberty. It is a pity. (Exit Pinçon.)

Col. I’ve no use for niggers myself – can’t abide them – but – (Grand. looks in.)

Grand. Joey, I can’t find no victuals.

Son. I’ll come and ’elp you, Grandfather.

(Exit Son with Grand. Enter Crisp.)

Crisp. Sorry, Inspector, are you engaged?

Col. No – no, Mr. Crisp – we’ve just finished. (Exit Col.)

Crisp. I say, Inspector – I’m awfully sorry to trouble you, but don’t you think you could reconsider your decision and let me go up to Town today. The appointment is really a very important one – I think I told you, I’m frightfully hard up – and it’s a matter of fifty to a hundred quid to see this client.

Civ. Well, Mr. Crisp – (Enter Pinçon: he starts on seeing Crisp and appears greatly interested.)

Pin. I do not sink I ’ave met this gentleman.

Civ. No, I suppose not. Let me introduce you. Mr. Crisp – Mr. Pinçon. (Both bow.) Mr. Crisp has just asked for my leave to go up to London today.

Crisp. You see, I’m not one of the Joe Collins crowd.

Pin. Exactly. Perhaps I can be permit to dispute – non.

Crisp. Discuss?

Pin. Sank you, yes – discuss viz Inspector Briggs.

Crisp. Of course.- I’ll be in the morning room.

(Exit Crisp. Pinçon watches the door for a moment, then very softly walks across and flings open the curtain. No one is there.)

Civ. What makes you so suspicious?

Pin. Mon ami, zat is ze person ’oo depose ze jewels to ze Bank to Paris. Listen: (Takes paper from pocket book and reads.) I vill translate ze description “’ight: moderate – smooth shaved – eyes: grey – wears a spectacle – les cheveux ebouriffes – ze ’air unneat.

Civ. Untidy.

Pin. Sank you – untidy. Carries a ring on small finger of ze right ’and. Carries a dark blue frock –

Civ. Suit.

Pin. Dark blue suit and necktie yellow spotted viz red.

Civ. Seems good enough. I suppose we’d better detain him.

Pin. Bot I do not sink ’e is ze murderer.

Civ. Nor do I – but he’s obviously in the game – probably the only other accomplice. He’s the man he murderer’s been waiting for – now they’ll try to bolt together. Stop a minute. By George I’ve got it. He means to get our leave to go to Town: he’s got a car here. Then at the last moment the other fellow will join him and they’ll slip off under our noses.

Pin. Brilliant, mon ami! And you vill give ’im ze permission to depart –

Civ. Not if I know it.

Pin. Bot surely, mon cher! Zen ve see who try to escape viz ’im.

Civ. By Jove, you’ve hit it. Good notion that! I’ll tell off some of my men to watch his car and we’ll bag the two of them. And I’ll give Mr. Crisp leave to go up to Town for his important appointment. (Exit Civ.)

(Pinçon stands for a few moments in thought – lights a cigarette – then enter Negro.)

Negro. Say, Mr. Pinçon, it’s real good of you to let me go free like this. I’m feeling a different man already. You’ve got the real crook, I guess.

Pin. Just to ze present, Mr. Collins, ve ’ave not made ze arrest. But ve ’ope to take ze murderer after a time.

Negro. Waal – at any rate you’ve been cute enough to guess it isn’t me.

(Enter Crisp.)

Crisp. Inspector Briggs has just told me you’ve decided to release me on parole. It’s awfully good of you, sir. It really was a matter of some importance to me.

Pin. Yes – I understand zat. If you vill excuse me –

Crisp. Of course.

(Pinçon exit R. Crisp makes sure that he is out of hearing then goes quickly to Negro. Pinçon appears again C. and hides behind curtain.)

Crisp. (Urgently.) I say, Collins.

Negro. Waal?

Crisp. I suppose you know you’re in imminent danger of arrest?

Negro. But they’ve just set me free.

Crisp. That’s only a blind. They’re merely waiting for you to make another slip.

Negro. You don’t mean that?

Crisp. Your only chance is to do a bolt.

Negro. The police are swarming round the place.

Crisp. I know. But you’ve only got to make a dash for the road. I’ve just got leave to go up to Town: I shall start in about ten minutes time. There’s another door into the garden in the passage outside. I’ll give you the tip when to go. Make for that corner of the garden; (Points through French window.) I’ll pick you up along the road a few minutes later.

Negro. (After a pause.) I’ll risk it.

Crisp. It’s your only chance. (Pinçon slips out unobserved..) And for Heaven’s sake don’t look so serious. You must appear cheerful to the others.

Negro. I’ll spring the bluff on them. (Enter Tramp.)

Crisp. Well, so long, Mr. Collins. I’ll come to hear you at the Albert Hall next month. Goodbye.

Tramp. You don’t mean we are going to be deprived of the pleasure of your company, Mr. Crisp.

Crisp. I’m afraid so they’ve given no my ticket of leave.

Tramp. These detectives don’t know their job.

Crisp. I expect they’ll be satisfied so long as you are in the house, Mr. Collins.

Tramp. Well, if you’re off, I’ll thanks you for that £100 in advance.

Crisp. Oh come, Collins –

Tramp. I’m disappointed in you, Crisp. I’d worked it out that £100 represented 3000 pints of beer. It’s like snatching the bread out of the orphan’s mouth.

(Enter Mrs. C. Und and Son.)

Tramp. Joe, here’s Mr. Crisp absconding with our well-earned wages.

Mrs. C. You’re not going away, sir?

Crisp. I’m afraid so, Mrs. Collins.

Son. Now look ’ere, Mr. Crisp, you don’t go till you pay us what we’re owed.

Und. That’s right enough, Joey.

Crisp. (Rings bell.) My client and your benefactor has turned out to be a thief and a murderer. We’ve all been swindled. I’m not responsible for that.

Und. Well – that’s right enough, Joey.

Crisp. (Enter Nutter.) Oh, Nutter, I’m off in a few minutes. You might bring down my suitcase and take it down to the garage.

Nut. Very good, sir. (Exit Nutter.) (Enter Pinçon, Colonel and Nurse.)

Son. Look ’ere, Colonel – ’ere’s this chap Crisp trying to slip away without paying what he owes us.

Col. What does he owe you?

Son. An ’undred quid to each of us, doesn’t ’e? I don’t care whether ’e’s been swindled or not – ’e promised me an ’undred, and an ’undred I means to ’ave. (Pin. opens window.)

Nurse. I wanted m hundred as much as anyone – but surely we can’t demand it from Mr. Crisp.

Negro. I quite agree, ma’am. (Enter Nutter.)

Nut. I’m sorry, sir; the Inspector will not allow me to take this out to the garage.

Crisp. No matter. I’ll bring the car round to the door. Put it out in the hall, will you? Well, so long, everybody. I hope you’ll all get out of this soon.

(Exit Crisp followed by Nutter.)

Tramp. That’s 3000 pints of beer gone out of the door.

Und. And a motor ’earse. (Enter Civ.)

Civ. (To Pinçon.) That telegram was a fake. (Aloud.) Well, I hope I shall soon be able to let you all follow Mr. Crisp. – (Negro slips out, watched by Pinçon.)

Mrs. C. Oh, sir,- ’ave you nabbed ’im? Which is ’e? Who’s not ’ere?

Und. Where’s Grandfather?

Son. I left ’im with a seedy cake in the dining-room.

Und. You don’t think it’s Grandfather, do you, sir?

(Enter Nutter.)

Nut. (Speaks to Civ.) I beg pardon, sir, I thought I ought to let you know he’s bolted. (Pin. exit by window.)

Civ. Who’s bolted?

Nut. Mr. Collins, sir.

Civ. Dash it, man, which Mr. Collins?

Nut. The dark one, sir.

Civ. Oh, he has, has he? Thank you, Nutter.

(Exit Civ. followed by Nutter. Car heard.)

Crisp. (Outside.) Where’s that suitcase, Nutter.

Nut. I’ve got it here, sir.

(Outside window there are cries of “There he goes”, “Head ’im off, Jim,” etc. Pinçon’s voice recognisable.)

Und. Why, what’s up outside?

(Negro rushes in, almost cannoning into Und., Pinçon close on his heels with revolver.)

Negro. Keep that darned Frenchman off.

Pin. ’Alt ’im! ’Alt ’im! It is ze murder, Joe Collins. (Negro sinks exhausted into arm-chair. Pinçon leaps on him.)

Tramp. Worry him – good dog – worry him. (A shot outside. All look up surprised.)

Nurse. What’s that?

Col. A revolver shot if I’m not mistaken.

(All stand looking at one another. Even Pinçon for the moment stops attending to Negro.)

(Enter Civ. with revolver – Crisp and Nutter in handcuffs.)

Civ. You’d better come along quiet. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got the criminal.

All. Mr. Crisp?

Civ. No, Nutter – Let me introduce you all to your host, Joe Collins.

Mrs. C. I thought that Nutter was a bad lot. ’E’s not been able to look me in the face once since I came into the ’ouse.

Nut. We’ve lost, Tony.

Crisp. I’m afraid so, Charles.

Pin. Zen I ’ave gone to ze chase of ze vild duck.

Tramp. Black cock, more likely.

Crisp. That was my fault, I’m afraid. We had to try and draw you off on a wild goose chase to get the coast clear for ourselves, and Mr. Collins was the first goose to fly by.

Negro. I’ll bring an action against the darned lot of you.

Nut. By; the way, what’s the charge against me, Inspector?

Civ. You will be charged with the murder of the Duke of Romsey.

Nut. Then it must have been suicide.

Civ. None of that, Collins. –

Nut. I thought if a man killed himself it was suicide. You see, I am the Duke of Romsey.

(All astonished: even Civ. a little taken aback.)

Civ. O come –- that won’t do

Mrs. C. Why it is – Master Charlie! But where’s your spectacles, my dear? Your Grace. I should say.

Nut. Lord Lainston’s got them on. and it’s rather difficult to change them as we’re both handcuffed.

Civ. But I don’t understand.

Nut. Nothing but a bet, inspector. I Apologise for any trouble we’ve caused you.

Civ. But you fired on me just now.

Nut. A picturesque bit of bluff, I’m afraid, like my attempt to dope you last night. You’ll find there’s nothing but blank in the gun. (Civ. examines and shows to Pinçon.) You see Lainston and I had a bet in the club – oh hang it I’m no use at talking. You explain, Tony, you’ve got the gift of the gab.

Crisp. I wonder if you’ll take those handcuffs off first, Inspector, they rather hamper my style.

Civ. It’s very irregular, until your identity is proved. But as you’re trapped anyway – (Civ. and Pinçon remove handcuffs.)

Nut. Thanks. Let’s have my glasses, Tony. (Puts them on.) Now does anyone recognise the striking features of the murdered Duke? They’ve been in every illustrated paper this week. (Nurse picks up Tatler which is handed round. All are satisfied.) Now fire ahead, Tony.

Crisp. There’s really not much to tell. The Duke and I betted Lord Gurdlestone an even thousand that we’d commit an imaginary crime, get the police on to our tracks and then slip through their fingers. So he robbed his own safe – drove down to Devil’s Pool, threw in a sack of coal –

Nut. Potatoes, Tony.

Crisp. Potatoes, then, and pinned that abstruse little notice on the bridge. Civ. I didn’t know His Grace was a scholar.

Crisp. Why of course, Inspector, he’s an Etonian. Well, he just buzzed off here. As nothing happened for some days we put that paragraph in the Times to draw Scotland Yard, and then I nipped over to Paris to deposit the jewels in the hope of drawing the French Police. We succeeded beyond all our expectations and gathered together a very pleasant little house party besides. Well, I think that’s all – we’ve had a very amusing fortnight, but thanks to the ability of Messieurs Briggs and Pinçon, we’ve lost our bet.

Tramp. What about my 3000 pints?

Crisp. I’ll pay all the hundreds after lunch.

Und. Well – that’s right enough, Joey.

Civ. Not too fast. We’ve had no proof of identity yet.

Nurse. Surely the picture in the Tatler’s good enough.

Civ. I’m not quite satisfied, Miss. Ah! Mrs. Collins, you were His Grace’s nurse. –

Mrs. C. That I were, Sir – and I’ll take my oath.

Civ. Has His Grace any distinguishing marks on him?

Mrs. C. Well, sir, ’e ’ad the chicken-pox very bad as a child, and there used to be a big sear on the back of his neck where ’e scratched off one of the scabs.

Nut. It’s there still, Joe. (Pulls off collar. Civ. and Pin. examine his neck.)

Col. How your poor father would have loved this, Romsey.

Nurse. Well, thank you for a very amusing visit.

Civ. Of course your Grace will have to come up to the Yard to establish your identity and explain everything.

Nut. Good Heavens!

Civ. But in the meantime, I think we can be satisfied with the chicken-pox, eh, Mr. Pinçon?

Nut. Saved!

Pin. Mais, parfaitement – But you English – Mon Dieu! You are not to understand at all.

Crisp. (To Negro.) I really do apologise to you, Mr. Collins, for giving you so much exercise.

Negro. Yes – I’ve got a stitch still.

Crisp. But I will undertake to bring the Duke to your next recital at the Albert Hall. (Negro perks up.)

Negro. I’ll put the Duke’s name on the programme as a patron.

Und. If your Grace will allow me to say so – the neighbour’ood will be very relieved to ’ear of your Grace’s – er – return from the Devil’s Pool.

Nut. You’ll have your chance of burying me still, Mr. Collins.

Und. Which we shall be very ’appy to do at any time, I’m sure, your Grace. (They smile.)

Nut. Well, do let’s have lunch.

Son. But who gets the thousand?

Nut. Who has done me the greatest service? The lady who saved me from the gallows, Joe Collins.

Mrs. C. Oh, Master Charlie.

(Enter Grand.)

Grand. There is another goose, Joey.

Negro. Waal – I hope it’s not a wild one.

Grand. (To Nutter.) Come on and ’and round the victuals, young man.

Son. (Very loud.) You should say “Your Grace”, Grandfather.

Grand. I always does say my grace, don’t I?

(Grand. goes out in a huff, followed by Und. Son, Nurse, Col., two detectives and Negro. Crisp is following but is stopped by Tramp.)

Tramp. Well I’m off – I’ll thank you for that hundred pounds.

Crisp. Surely, you’re stopping to lunch?

Tramp. No, I’m not. I’ll not accept hospitality from the aristocracy. I’m a Communist and I’m going to live up to my principles.

Crisp. Then ought you to accept money from the aristocracy?

(Crisp offers £100 note.)

Tramp. (Pocketing it.) Why not? Work is against my principles. “Rob the rich to feed the poor” is my motto. I’m off back to the freedom of the high road. (Exit and returns.) And down with the aristocracy. (Exit.)

Crisp. Well, I’m off to lunch. (Exit Crisp.)

Mrs. C. Master Charlie, how can I thank you?

Nut. Your brother-in-law seemed to take a fancy to this sofa, Joe.

Mrs. C. ’E’s a selfish old man, Master Charlie.

Nut. Yes – we’d better have it disinfected.

Mrs. C. I’ll see about it myself, Master Charlie – your Grace, I mean.

(Grand. has entered.)

Grand. We’re all waiting for you to ’and round that goose, young man.