Three very exciting plays from the 1890’s

Work and Wages

Radford’s steel industry is on strike while the boss’ son has a greater interest in his private trysts than he has in the welfare of the workers. Riots, murder and sabotage seem to be the rule of the day. The malefactors eventually receive their just deserts.

A Big Fortune

Skulduggery fools an honest man into poverty. He escapes to the Americas and there regains his fortune. All is not well, as on his return he finds the real felon has outwitted him again. With the aid of an obliging police detective the wrongs are put to right after a hair-raising and exciting chase.

A London Mystery

An engineer is murdered and an innocent man framed. A faithful servant stumbles upon the key to solving the mystery. A twist of fate reveals that the murdered man has himself left the most damming evidence

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Excerpt from Victoriana

Work and Wages

Act 1


Exterior of Radford’s works.

Workmen discovered listening to Sam Crumpton who is on steps.


Men      Aye, aye, he’s right there.

1st Man  Of course he’s right, he’s always right. Go on Sam.

Sam      Well then I say “Stand up for your rights.” You know your worth in the social scale – you are not dirt, nor vermin, nor scum of the earth, are you?

Men      No. No.

Sam      Then what are you? Will the truth be palatable? I’ll tell you what you are. You are fools. Every one of you (Murmurs among men) I repeat, is fools. Fools and you know it. There’s not a man among you. T’death are we slaves we working men to be yoked like beasts of burden, to be the playthings of the masters and when trade is slack down go your wages – Aye, aye – but when Trade is good do they ever go up again? No, No – No. Then what do you do? You come fawning and cringing bowing your knees humbly, cap in hand and ask for what? For an advance, for a favour, forgetting all the time that you are merely seeking your own. D’ ye hear what I say? Your own.

Men      Aye, aye Sam you’re right.

Sam      Right – of course I’m right. I’ve no patience with you. Did you well know masters put back what they take away unless compelled?

Men      Not they.

Sam      Very well then you know what to do. Stand firm. Don’t budge an inch. Show them that you are men of steel and you’ll win. Falter and you are lost. Nail your colours to the mast. Ten per cent advance, no less. For a fair day’s work a fair day’s pay.

Men      Bravo! Sam, Bravo!

1st Man  You’ll want a drink after this Sam.

Sam      Well it is dry work and that’s the truth.

1st Man  Come along then and I’ll stand you half-a-pint.

Sam      Half a what?

1st Man  Beg pardon, Sam. Half-a-quart then.

Men      Ha, ha. So’ll I. So’ll I.

Sam      Ah that’s business.  Focus on then and we’ll drink success to the four eights.

1st Man  Four eights, what’s that, Sam?

Sam      Don’t know what the four eights is, well your education’s been terribly neglected. The four eights should be every workingman’s ambition. Eight hours work, eight hours play, eight hours sleep and eight bob a day.

Men      Hear, hear, bravo, Sam.

Sam      Now boys, three cheers for the 4 eights.

Men      (As they go off) Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! (Exit R. U. E.)

(Bob Dormer & Sally enter L. U. E.)

Bob      D’ye see them Sally? There they go in tow of that vagabond who’ll drink the last penny they have in their pockets. Blind fools, four eights indeed. If he had four dozen across his bare back it’d do him more good.

Sally     Oh, Bob, whatever for?

Bob      Well he’s undoing all the good Wentworth’s done. He’s been spouting again influencing their minds with his drunken arguments. Making them more discontented than they are. You see Sally, he’s got too much of what I have too little of – what the French call…

Sally     Oh for goodness sake don’t talk French.

Bob      Don’t say that, Sally. How can a fellow learn the language if he doesn’t practice it?

Sally     Well don’t practice it on me, Bob. I hate people who try to speak a foreign language before they learned their own.

Bob      Oh! That is too bad, what I mean is in plain English, that fellow’s got too much of what I’ve got too little – the gift of the gab.

Sally     Oh that’s plain English, very, but sometimes when you don’t speak, Bob, you are more eloquent than when you do. (Walks away.)

Bob      Now what does she mean by that? That’s the effects of you living up at the house and seeing so much of Miss Graham. You’ve said lots of pretty things since she came.

Sally     Well she says some very pretty things and gives me good advice. What an angel she is. She gave me a very sensible piece of advice yesterday.

Bob      Oh, what was that?

Sally     I want to get married, and I want to fall in love.

Bob      Some people are very ready with their advice. What does she know about it? I suppose she is to be married some day.

Sally     I don’t think so.

Bob      Why not?

Sally     Well in the first place, I should say there’s no man good enough for her.

Bob      Perhaps not, but I’ve noticed Tom Wentworth has not been the same man since Miss Graham came to the place.

Sally     Bob, you’re joking. What can she be to him?

Bob      I don’t know, sometimes when her name crops up, he raises his hat and shouts, “Bob, I can’t stay here, I’m going out.” and away he goes slamming the door after him as if he wanted to get away from himself.

Sally     Perhaps it’s the strike that’s worrying him.

Bob      Perhaps so, but it’s more than the strike and my name’s not Robert Dormer if the cause ain’t connected with Miss Graham.

Sally     Well while you say your name’s Robert, I know you’re in earnest, but the wisest thing he can do is to keep his thoughts off her. I’m quite certain she’ll never marry and I’d be sorry to see so good and beautiful a creature the slave of even the best of your noble sex. Ha, ha!

Bob      Never mind, Sally, Miss Graham may be an angel, she looks one, but when you talk about men M. E. N. I’d like to tell you that Tom Wentworth is worthy to be the husband of a Princess.

Sally     I like you for sticking up for him but fancy a Princess having a husband who works.

Bob      It would be a novelty wouldn’t it? Ah! Sally, talking of novelties, have you heard of my latest?

Sally     No.


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Victoriana - Three very exciting plays from the 1890’s - Wentworth M Johnson - Pieter F. de Lang - Preface by Dr Janice Norwood Fhea

Three very exciting plays from the 1890’s Buy Victoriana kindle or paperback at Amazon Work and Wages - Act 1 A Big Fortune - Act 1 A London Mystery - Act 1 Through The Apple Store, Happisburgh High-jinks and more

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