[With sudden inspiration]. There’s one thing I can do!
MANSON. What’s that?
ROBERT. Renahnce ole Beelzebub an’ all ‘is bloomin’ wirks! ’And us that brarss-band!
[He alludes to the ear-trumpet. MANSON obeying, ROBERT jabs it into the ear of the BISHOP, who seems quite surprised.]
’Ere! ‘Av’ you ever ’eard of ’ell?
BISHOP. Of what?
ROBERT. ’Ell. [Spelling.] H, E, double L, ’ell.
BISHOP. Well, my dear sir, I think I ought to!
ROBERT. Then, go there! Aymen . . .
Now I’ll go an’ ‘av’ a look at our Bill’s drains, damn ’is eyes!
[He goes out through the main door, repentant.]
BISHOP. The scoundrel! Did you hear what he said? I shall certainly report him to his bishop!
MANSON. I don’t think I should. His bishop doesn’t mind a little plain speech now and again.
BISHOP. A little plain speech! Do you think it’s right for a clergyman to—to direct me to perdition?
MANSON. I think you are making a mistake: the man who gave you your—direction is not a clergyman. He’s a scavenger.
BISHOP. A scavenger!
MANSON. Yes—looks after drains.
BISHOP. Do you mean to tell me that I’ve been sitting down to breakfast with a common working-man?
MANSON. Yes; have you never done that before?
BISHOP. My dear sir, whatever do you take me for?
MANSON. A bishop of God’s church.
BISHOP. Precisely! Is it your custom to breakfast with working-men?
MANSON. Every morning. You see, I’m prejudiced: I was one myself, once.
BISHOP. You? . . .
MANSON. Yes—a long time ago, though: people have forgotten.
BISHOP. But, my dear brother, I am perfectly sure you never told people to go to . . .
MANSON. Oh yes, quite frequently: it would shock you to learn the language I really did use. Perhaps, under the circumstances, it might be advisable to drop the subject at this point.
BISHOP [emphatically]. I most certainly agree with you there! After all, it is a digression from the purpose for which we are here! . . . Let me see, then: where were we? . . . Oh yes, I remember— Although, by the way, it was very ill-advised of you to speak your mind so openly in that man’s presence! However . . .
To resume our—how shall I call it ?—our—little understanding, eh?
MANSON. That describes it most accurately.
BISHOP. Now, you said, Let’s give as little, and grab as much as we can. Of course, that is a playful way of putting it; but between ourselves, it expresses my sentiments exactly.
MANSON. I knew that when I said it.
BISHOP [delighted]. My dear brother, your comprehension makes my heart warm. I trust our relations may always remain as warm.