No Thoroughfare (Play)


Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens

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Classic Literature Library

No Thoroughfare (Play) Page 01

No Thoroughfare

A Drama

In Five Acts.

(Altered from the Christmas Story, for Performance on the Stage.)

by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins (1867)

No Thoroughfare by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins

Cast photo showing Joey Ladle (Benjamin Webster), Sally Goldstraw (Mrs. Alfred Mellon), George Vendale (Henry G. Neville), Jules Obenreizer (Charles Albert Fechter), Marguerite (Carlotta Leclercq), Walter Wilding (John Billington), and Bintrey (George G. Belmore).






MONK. Visitors (Ladies and Gentlemen), Servants, Monks, Guides, &c. &c. &c. ————

Scene of the first Three Acts—London.

Scene of the last Two Acts—Switzerland. Period—The Present Century.




(In Three Scenes.)

FIRST SCENE.—The exterior of the Foundling Hospital. A dark night. The wind heard moaning. “THE LADY,” plainly dressed, is discovered waiting at the door by which the nurses of the Foundling enter and leave the institution. THE LADY listens at the door, then takes a turn on the stage, and returns to the door. At the same moment two or three nurses pass out. THE LADY, after eyeing them carefully, one by one, under the lamp which is over the door, lets them go, without speaking to them. A pause after the last nurse has gone out. SALLY GOLDSTRAW appears at the door. THE LADY recognises and stops her. The dialogue begins.

The Lady. Stop!

Sally. What do you want, ma’am?

The Lady. A word with you in private.

Sally. Are you mistaking me for somebody else? I have never seen you before.

The Lady. I saw you this morning. You were pointed out to me by a friend who was willing to assist me so far. You are known here as Sally Goldstraw. And you first entered this institution, on this very day, twelve years since. It was impossible for me to speak to you this morning, for it was impossible for me to see you in private. I must speak to you now.

Sally. You seem to know all about me, ma’am. Might I make so bold as to ask, who you are?

The Lady. Come and look at me under the lamp.

Sally (looking at her under the lamp). I don’t know you. I never saw you before to-night.

The Lady. Do I look like a happy woman?

Sally. No, ma’am. You look as if you had something on your mind.

The Lady. I have something on my mind. I am one of the many miserable mothers who have never known what a mother’s happiness is. If my child is still living, he is in the Foundling Hospital—he has grown to be a boy, and I have never seen him!

Sally. I am heartily sorry for you, ma’am. But what can I do?

The Lady. You can carry your memory back through twelve years. You can recal the day when you first entered that house.

Sally. Twelve years is a long time, ma’am.

The Lady. Is it long to you? Think how long it has been to me! Through all those years I have paid the penalty of disgracing my family. Through all those years I have lived in foreign lands—lived on the one condition that I should not be seen again in England. Only a week since I found myself independent of that condition—placed in the possession of a fortune—free to come back to my own country. Sally Goldstraw! I have come back with one hope. It lies in your power to make a happy woman of me.

Sally. How can I do that, ma’am?

The Lady. Here are two guineas in this paper. Take my poor little present, and I will tell you.

Sally. You may know my face, ma’am; but you don’t know me. There is not a person in all the Foundling who hasn’t a good word for Sally. Could I be so well thought of if I was to be bought?

The Lady. I do not mean to buy you. I only mean to reward you very slightly.

Sally. If helping you is right, ma’am, I desire no reward for doing it. What do you want?

The Lady. I want you to look back through the past time. The day when you first entered the Foundling must be a marked day in your memory.

Sally. It is a marked day.

The Lady. You may have forgotten many things that happened since. You must remember everything that happened on that day.

Sally. Everything!

The Lady. Do you remember a baby being received into the Foundling when you were first employed there?

Sally. I remember it well.

The Lady. Is the child living?

Sally. Living, and hearty, thank God!

The Lady. Perhaps, you took care of him when he was a baby?

Sally. No, ma’am. The baby was sent to our institution in the country; and I was kept here to learn the ways of the house.

The Lady. I have learnt the ways of the house, too. The baby was christened in the chapel here, before it was sent away to the country?

Sally. Yes, ma’am. And I saw the christening.

The Lady. They gave the child a name—a christian name and a surname. What was it?

Sally. Don’t ask me! We are not allowed to tell.

The Lady. The child was my child! You must tell me! (SALLY turns away.) Come back! come back! You may one day marry. As you hope to be a respected wife—as you hope to be a proud mother—as you are a living, loving woman, tell me the name! (Falls on her knees.)

Sally. Don’t, don’t, ma’am! You are trying to make me do wrong!

The Lady. Only his name, Sally! Only his name!

Sally. Oh, dear! dear! I ought to say No—and I feel as if I was going to say Yes. Do let me go!

The Lady. His name, Sally! His name!

Sally (relenting). Will you promise?

The Lady (rising). Anything!

Sally. Put your two hands in mine. Promise you will never ask me to tell you more than the christian name and surname which they gave to the child?

The Lady. I promise!

Sally. Walter Wilding.

(THE LADY embraces her in silence. The two go out at different sides of the stage. The scene changes.)

SECOND SCENE.—The Boys’ dining-room at the Foundling. The boys at dinner. A bright, cheerful scene. Visitors—ladies and gentlemen—present, looking on. Among the visitors, THE LADY. She passes down the table—which crosses the stage obliquely, and is lost to view behind the scene—looking anxiously at the boys one by one. SALLY GOLDSTRAW is among the nurses in attendance. THE LADY keeps out of her way, and SALLY is too busy to notice her. Two of the visitors, a husband and wife, come down to the front.

Wilkie Collins

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