[JUDGE screams and faints, and Curtain falls.
SCENE.—The Fields near a Country Village; a Copse close by. Time—After the Revolution.
[Enter CITIZEN (late JUSTICE) NUPKINS. He looks cautiously about to right and left, then sits down on the ground.]
C. N. Now I think I may safely take a little rest: all is quiet here. Yet there are houses in the distance, and wherever there are houses now, there are enemies of law and order. Well, at least, here is a good thick copse for me to hide in in case anybody comes. What am I to do? I shall be hunted down at last. It’s true that those last people gave me a good belly-full, and asked me no questions; but they looked at me very hard. One of these times they will bring me before a magistrate, and then it will be all over with me. I shall be charged as a rogue and a vagabond, and made to give an account of myself; and then they will find out who I am, and then I shall be hanged—I shall be hanged—I, Justice Nupkins! Ah, the happy days when I used to sentence people to be hanged! How easy life was then, and now how hard! [Hides his face in his hands and weeps.
[Enter MARY PINCH, prettily dressed.]
M. P. How pleasant it is this morning! These hot late summer mornings, when the first pears are ripening, and the wheat is nearly ready for cutting, and the river is low and weedy, remind me most of the times when I was a little freckle-faced child, when I was happy in spite of everything, though it was hard lines enough sometimes. Well, well, I can think of those times with pleasure now; it’s like living the best of the early days over again, now we are so happy, and the children like to grow up straight and comely, and not having their poor little faces all creased into anxious lines. Yes, I am my old self come to life again; it’s all like a pretty picture of the past days. They were brave men. and good fellows who helped to bring it about: I feel almost like saying my prayers to them. And yet there were people—yes, and poor people too—who couldn’t bear the idea of it. I wonder what they think of it now. I wish, sometimes, I could make people understand how I felt when they came to me in prison, where all things were so miserable that, heaven be praised! I can’t remember its misery now, and they brought Robert to me, and he hugged me and kissed me, and said, when he stood away from me a little, “Come, Mary, we are going home, and we’re going to be happy; for the rich people are gone, and there’s no more starving or stealing.” And I didn’t know what he meant, but I saw such a look in his eyes and in the eyes of those who were with him, that my feet seemed scarcely on the ground; as if I were going to fly. And how tired out I was with happiness before the day was done! Just to think that my last-born child will not know what to be poor meant; and nobody will ever be able to make him understand it. [NUPKINS groans.] Hilloa! What’s the matter? Why, there’s a man ill or in trouble; an oldish man, too. Poor old fellow! Citizen, what’s the matter? How can I help you?