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"At Dead Of Night"
by [?]

Jasper (advancing threateningly). Yes, to your friends the warders. Millicent, ring the bell.

Dick (wresting the revolver from his grasp). Ha, would you? Now stand over there and listen to me. (He arranges his audience, Millicent on a sofa on the right, Jasper, biting his finger-nails, on the left.) Three years ago Lady Wilsdon’s diamond necklace was stolen. My flat was searched and the necklace was found in my hatbox. Although I protested my innocence, I was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude, followed by fifteen years’ police supervision.

Millicent (raising herself on the sofa). Dick, you were innocent–I know it. (She falls back again.)

Dick. I was. But how could I prove it? I went to prison. For a year black despair gnawed at my heart. And then something happened. The prisoner in the cell next to mine tried to communicate with me by means of taps. We soon arranged a system and held conversations together. One day he told me of a robbery in which he and another man had been engaged–the robbery of a diamond necklace.

Jasper (jauntily). Well?

Dick (sternly). A diamond necklace, Jasper Beeste, which the other man hid in the hatbox of another man in order that he might woo the other man’s fiancee! (Millicent shrieks.)

Jasper (blusteringly). Bah!

Dick (quietly). The man in the cell next to mine wants to meet this gentleman again. It seems that he has some old scores to pay off.

Jasper (sneeringly). And where is he?

Dick. Ah, where is he? (He goes to the window and gives a low whistle. A Stranger in knickerbockers jumps in and advances with a crab-like movement.) Good! here you are. Allow me to present you to Mr Jasper Beeste.

Jasper (in horror). Two-toed Thomas! I am undone!

Two-toed Thomas (after a series of unintelligible snarls). Say the word, guv’nor, and I’ll kill him. (He prowls round Jasper thoughtfully.)

Dick (sternly). Stand back! Now, Jasper Beeste, what have you to say?

Jasper (hysterically). I confess. I will sign anything. I will go to prison. Only keep that man off me.

Dick (going up to a bureau and writing aloud at incredible speed). “I, Jasper Beeste, of Beeste Hall, do hereby declare that I stole Lady Wilsdon’s diamond necklace and hid it in the hatbox of Richard Trayle; and I further declare that the said Richard Trayle is innocent of any complicity in the affair.” (Advancing with the paper and a fountain pen.) Sign, please.

[Jasper signs. At this moment two warders burst into the room.

First Warder. There they are!

[He seizes Dick. Two-toed Thomas leaps from the window, pursued by the second Warder. Millicent picks up the confession and advances dramatically.

Millicent. Do not touch that man! Read this!

[She hands him the confession with an air of superb pride.

First Warder (reading). Jasper Beeste! (Slipping a pair of handcuffs on Jasper.) You come along with me, my man. We’ve had our suspicions of you for some time. (To Millicent, with a nod at Dick.) You’ll look after that gentleman, miss?

Millicent. Of course! Why, he’s engaged to me. Aren’t you, Dick?

Dick. This time, Millicent, for ever!