Hugo in London
by Marina J. Neary
|Cast of Characters|
Wynfield and Kip are left alone.
WYNFIELD (pokes Kip in the chest): That was one nasty trick you played on me.
KIP (feigns innocence): What are you talking about?
WYNFIELD: Letting me fight that fat old man!
KIP (raises his hands in self-defense): Don’t be cross with me. I’ve never seen this man before. Reverend Barclay brought him here.
WYNFIELD: But you own this bloody circus! Now this stuffy spinster will tell everyone that I attack feeble old men. You know how women talk.
KIP: This one won’t say a word. She’s is my fiancée of seven years. I know, it’s been an obscenely long engagement, and it will probably go on for another decade or two.
WYNFIELD: Ah, what’s one prank between old friends? Let me show you something.
KIP: Another card trick?
WYNFIELD: Something better yet.
He draws a revolver from his pocket. Kip’s eyes widen.
KIP: Model Adams?
WYNFIELD: Just like they showed at the Great Exhibition. This gadget haunted me in my dreams for three years.
KIP: I daren’t ask how this toy found its way into your pants.
WYNFIELD (twirls the revolver): When you crave something, you find ways. It helps to have friends at a weapons factory. The constable didn’t suspect a thing. And now we have these handsome shiny toys. If you know anybody who needs one—
KIP: You’re out of your mind.
WYNFIELD: You can’t expect me to keep this treasure to myself! If anything, you should be proud of me. I feel like Prometheus bringing light to people.
KIP: That’s awfully noble of you, but we all know what happened to Prometheus. Honestly, Wyn, you mustn’t boast about such things.
WYNFIELD: I’m not boasting. I’m sharing my joy with my dearest chum.
KIP: And as your chum, I’d hate to see you locked up. If you get caught—
WYNFIELD: But I won’t get caught. Call it the luck of the Welsh!
KIP: Soon your luck will run out, and Southwark will lose its beloved clown.
WYNFIELD: I can’t let my father go to debtor’s prison. Tax collectors are rapping on his door already. He’s one hair away from having his tavern repossessed.
KIP: It grieves me to hear that. I didn’t suspect that Dr. Grant’s situation was so dire.
WYNFIELD: It isn’t his custom to complain. This is where I step in, to repay my debt.
KIP: By stealing? Does Dr. Grant know of your little occupation?
WYNFIELD: He doesn’t need to know. He’s a Cambridge graduate. He’s not bred for this life. Nevertheless, he sheltered me. To this day we joke that we were both exiled, he from medicine, and I from a gang. But, he’s still a doctor, and I’m still a thief.
KIP: There are honest ways to make money.
WYNFIELD: Hah! You believe that honest labor will cover six months of taxes? I’ve been unloading ships since the age of twelve. Even if I crack my spine, it won’t suffice.
KIP: If you need money, just ask. Name your sum.
WYNFIELD: No handouts, please.
KIP: It’s not a handout. It’s a perfectly selfish act on my part. You keep me entertained. I’m buying your freedom with my money. Everyone wins.
WYNFIELD: Well, I don’t value my freedom or even my life too highly these days.
KIP: What’s this — spring melancholy? I keep telling you: drink lime juice.
WYNFIELD (apathetically, looking down): Diana is dying.
KIP: The girl has been ‘dying’ for the past fifteen years. She stages those coughing fits to attract attention. It’s part of her theatrical act — the corpse bride.
WYNFIELD: Last night she sprayed blood all over the tablecloth. Was that an act? She can’t even walk upstairs without gasping for air. Opium no longer helps, and morphine makes her mad. Her enemy lives inside her chest. But she and I don’t want to talk about it. We play dice and get drunk, as if we had another fifty years ahead of us.
KIP: Perhaps, you still do. You’re digging too many graves at once. You should’ve been a grave-digger instead of an actor.
WYNFIELD: If I need a sermon on hope, I’ll go to Reverend Barclay. He’s the master of drivel on the healing powers of prayer. But we know it’s just to fill the pews in churches. I better go.
KIP: And your performance?
WYNFIELD: I’m in no state to perform tonight. Give my apologies to the lads from the Parliament. I better check on that French patient of ours.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2008 by Marina J. Neary