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"The Lost Heiress"
by [?]

The scene is laid outside a village inn in that county of curious dialects, Loamshire. The inn is easily indicated by a round table bearing two mugs of liquid, while a fallen log emphasizes the rural nature of the scene. Gaffer Jarge and Gaffer Willyum are seated at the table, surrounded by a fringe of whisker, Jarge being slightly more of a gaffer than Willyum.

Jarge (who missed his dinner through nervousness and has been ordered to sustain himself with soup–as he puts down the steaming mug). Eh, bor, but this be rare beer. So it be.

Willyum (who had too much dinner and is now draining his sanatogen). You be right, Gaffer Jarge. Her be main rare beer. (He feels up his sleeve, but thinking better of it wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.) Main rare beer, zo her be. (Gagging.) Zure-lie.

Jarge. Did I ever tell ‘ee, bor, about t’ new squoire o’ these parts–him wot cum hum yesterday from furren lands? Gaffer Henry wor a-telling me.

Willyum (privately bored). Thee didst tell ‘un, lad, sartain sure thee didst. And Gaffer Henry, he didst tell ‘un too. But tell ‘un again. It du me good to hear ‘un, zo it du. Zure-lie.

Jarge. A rackun it be a main queer tale, queerer nor any them writing chaps tell about. It wor like this. (Dropping into English, in his hurry to get his long speech over before he forgets it.) The old Squire had a daughter who disappeared when she was three weeks old, eighteen years ago. It was always thought she was stolen by somebody, and the Squire would have it that she was still alive. When he died a year ago he left the estate and all his money to a distant cousin in Australia, with the condition that if he did not discover the missing baby within twelve months everything was to go to the hospitals. (Remembering his smock and whiskers with a start.) And here du be the last day, zo it be, and t’ Squoire’s daughter, her ain’t found.

Willyum (puffing at a new and empty clay pipe). Zure-lie. (Jarge, a trifle jealous of Willyum’s gag, pulls out a similar pipe, but smokes it with the bowl upside down to show his independence.) T’ Squire’s darter (Jarge frowns), her bain’t (Jarge wishes he had thought of “bain’t”)–her bain’t found. (There is a dramatic pause, only broken by the prompter.) Her ud be little Rachel’s age now, bor?

Jarge (reflectively). Ay, ay. A main queer lass little Rachel du be. Her bain’t like one of us.

Willyum. Her do be that fond of zoap and water. (Laughter.)

Jarge (leaving nothing to chance). Happen she might be a real grand lady by birth, bor.

Enter Rachel, beautifully dressed in the sort of costume in which one would go to a fancy-dress ball as a village maiden.

Rachel (in the most expensive accent). Now Uncle George (shaking a finger at him), didn’t you promise me you’d go straight home? It would serve you right if I never tied your tie for you again. (She smiles brightly at him.)

Jarge (slapping his thigh in ecstasy). Eh, lass, yer du keep us old ‘uns in order. (He bursts into a falsetto chuckle, loses the note, blushes and buries his head in his mug.)

Willyum (rising). Us best be gettin’ down along, Jarge, a rackun.

Jarge. Ay, bor, time us chaps was moving. Don’t ‘e be long, lass. [Exeunt, limping heavily.

Rachel (sitting down on the log). Dear old men! How I love them all in this village! I have known it all my life. How strange it is that I have never had a father or mother. Sometimes I seem to remember a life different to this–a life in fine houses and spacious parks, among beautifully dressed people (which is surprising, seeing that she was only three weeks old at the time; but the audience must be given a hint of the plot), and then it all fades away again. (She looks fixedly into space.)