Oh, Sir Jasper! by Bob Bishop

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

ACT ONE: The Rise and Fall of Rufus Turnpike's Trousers

Scene One: The interior of Rufus Turnpike's cottage, Dorset, England, 1880

The room is rudely furnished, boasting just a battered sofa with
small table behind it and a scattering of upright wooden chairs. In
the chimney alcove is a pair of simple bunk beds, curtained off from
the room. (Not absolutely necessary for this play, but essential in
Sir Jasper Rides Again.) Doors R and L open to the outside, and a door
back LC opens to the scullery and the rest of the cottage interior.
RUFUS TURNPIKE enters from outside. He is a gnarled old countryman,
around 50-60 years of age. He carries a blunderbuss, which he leans
against the door post. He checks his boots for muck, and is satisfied.
He comes into the room.

RUFUS: Annie! I'm 'ome!
ANNIE: (Off) Be that you, Rufus?
RUFUS: Of course it be, you daft old bugger. Who'm you
ANNIE: (Off) That's good.
RUFUS: What's a-cookin' for supper, wife?
ANNIE: (Poking her head around the door, L) What's that you say?
RUFUS: What's in the pot today me dear? I've 'ad such an
'eavy day in the field I could eat an 'orse.
ANNIE: That's lucky 'cos that's what's in the pot.
RUFUS: You know there's moles in Ten Acre again.which hoss?
ANNIE: (Off) Old Barleycorn.
RUFUS: Not Old Barleycorn!?
ANNIE: (Entering fully) Ar.
RUFUS: But 'ee were strong an' 'ealthy only yesterday! What
was it carried 'ee orf?
ANNIE: Knackers.
ANNIE: Knackers carried 'ee orf, 'smornin'.
RUFUS: Naw! I mean, what cause 'ad 'ee to up an' die like
that? An' 'im only two an' thirty next Mayerin'. Why, I used
'ee to plough up Long Medder only yesterday.
ANNIE: That's what done it, if you ask me. Old Barleycorn were an
old man, like. It were too much you asked of 'ee to be up at six
o'clock of a cold winter's mornin' ter grub up Long Medder.
RUFUS: Well, what's done's done, that's what I say. The least
we can do for 'im now is to enjoy eating 'is remains, poor old
ANNIE: Now don't you let me 'ear you usin' words like that,
Rufus Turnpike! "Remains" indeed! And 'im only passed over this
mornin'; why, 'tis the freshest meat you'll get all week.
RUFUS: Do she go cookin' our team at this rate, I'll be
pullin' the blessed plough meself come spring sowings.

RUFUS sits to unlace his boots. The door, R, opens and a tearful
young girl enters. It is SUZIE TURNPIKE; she carries a bundle.

SUZIE: Ooh, dad!

SUZIE rushes to her father's side

RUFUS: Well! Bless me if it bain't our little Suzie! What you
doin' 'ome, my girl, an' you only just started in service?
SUZIE: I ran away!
RUFUS: You ran away?! Annie! Annie!
SUZIE: I couldn't stay no longer, dad it were 'orrible!
ANNIE: (Entering) What you shoutin' about now, Rufus? Bless me!
RUFUS: 'Tis our Suzie!
ANNIE: I can see that. What you doin' 'ome, my girl?
RUFUS: She ran away.
SUZIE: I ran away.
ANNIE: Well, you'd best run back again.
RUFUS: It were 'orrible.
ANNIE: I couldn't stay no longer, ma 'ee come for me in the
RUFUS: Come for you?
SUZIE: Ar. In my room.
ANNIE: In your room?
SUZIE: Yurs.
RUFUS: 'Oo did?
SUZIE: The Master.
RUFUS: What, old man Belcher? 'Ee 'ad 'is tackle blown orf in
the Crimea. You don't wanna pay no mind to 'ee!
SUZIE: Naw, dad not the old Master: I did like 'ee.
'T'were the young Master. He came a-creepin' into my little room
at dead o' nightand 'ee didn't 'ave no trousers on!
ANNIE: Praps 't'were an honest mistake? Mebbe 'ee mistook the
room, like?
SUZIE: That 'ee didn't! I could see 'is intentions!
RUFUS: Oh-ar?
SUZIE: In the moonlight. Oh, Dad, I were so scared! I screamed and
RUFUS: Good for you, gal!
SUZIE: Next mornin' I packed my things and ran all the way
ANNIE: Ran all the way? Why, 'tis more'n twenny miles from
SUZIE: I know. I'm tired.
RUFUS: I told you, wife 't'were a mistake, sendin' 'er
all that way. She coulda worked for Sir Jasper like the rest of us.
SUZIE: Ooh, Dad I wish I 'ad! But I wanted to see a bit o'
life, like.
RUFUS: Reckon you saw it, an' all.
ANNIE: Hush, now, Rufus? Can't you see the poor maid's done fer?
You come through to the scullery with me, me dear, an' I'll fix
you a nice bowl o' broth.
SUZIE: Ooh, yes!
ANNIE: An' you shall have a bath afore the scullery fire. We'll
'ave you cleaned down, warmed up, an' in your own little bed afore
you can say "Jack Robinson".
SUZIE: Ooh, yes, please! 'Tis right down good to be 'ome, ma!
ANNIE: Rufus: go you an' get some more wood in. I need to bank up
that fire.

ANNIE &SUZIE exeunt to scullery. RUFUS laces up his boots again.

RUFUS: That maid! I told 'er she were 'avin' ideas above 'er
station, but would she listen? Would she buggery! "Do 'ee work for
Sir Jasper," says I, "like me an' yer brother, Will." But she
would go up ter the big town an' act grand. Well, much good has it
done 'er! Ah, well best get that wood.

There is a knock at the door, R.

Oh. A knock at the door. Visitors, at this hour?

RUFUS opens the door. A strikingly beautiful PASSIONATE WOMAN
enters. She gazes at RUFUS, enraptured.

WOMAN: My darling! We meet at last!

The PASSIONATE WOMAN advances upon RUFUS, who backs away until he is
up against the arm of the sofa.

WOMAN: You cannot know how I have longed for this moment!
RUFUS: Oh-ar?
WOMAN: Every fibre of my being is set throbbing by the thrill of
your proximity!
RUFUS: My what?
WOMAN: Oh, my darling can you feel it too?
RUFUS: Think I'm beginnin' to.
WOMAN: Hush, my love! (Finger on his lips) Let us not waste precious
moments in idle banter.

She throws RUFUS back onto the sofa, and flings her body on top of

Let loose the surges of your manly passion, and together this night
we shall reach Paradise!
RUFUS: Right-ho.

ANNIE enters

ANNIE: When you've finished with that young woman, Rufus, we're
still waitin' for that wood. (Exit)
WOMAN: Rufus?
WOMAN: You're name isn't Rufus?
RUFUS: I thought it was.
WOMAN: Then you are not Sir Jasper Scruple?
RUFUS: 'Course I bain't! I'm 'is gamekeeper, Rufus
WOMAN: Eugh! Unhand me, you low, filthy creature! Eugh! Eugh! Get
off! Get off!


RUFUS: She might a stayed a bit longer; we don't often get folks
droppin' in.

Two loud raps are heard upon the door, R

That's odd: 'er must-a nipped round the back. P'raps her wants
to feel my proximity again? Hold on, me dear!

RUFUS hurries to open the door. A sinister black-coated figure
storms into the room. He has a bristling moustache, and carries a
riding crop. It is SIR JASPER SCRUPLE.

RUFUS: Oh Sir Jasper!
JASPER: Yes, it is I, Turnpike: your employer and your landlord. I
need your help tonight, for I may tell you, I am a desperate man.
RUFUS: Our doings is across the yard.
JASPER: Silence, rustic, and hear me out: I am looking fora
RUFUS: Are you, now?
RUFUS: Well, I don't think you'd fancy our Annie. To be
perfectly honest, I don't always fancy 'er meself, not these
JASPER: Not just any woman! As I dismounted, I thought I saw a
frail, slender figure flit across your courtyard.
RUFUS: Ar. You must-a caught sight of my visitor, Sir Jasper.
JASPER: Aha! And who, pray, was your visitor at this late hour?
RUFUS: Don't know her name but her were friendly. Oh-ar!
JASPER: Then it was not the Lady Charlotte Scruple?
JASPER: Are you sure?
RUFUS: Yurs. I do know 'er Ladyship, and t'weren't she. Dear
me, no!
JASPER: Hmm. What are you looking down there for?
RUFUS: I'm wonderin' where to put all that cow dung you just
walked across my carpet.
JASPER: (Aside) Wouldn't I like to tell him! (Aloud) Now see here,
Turnpike, I like not thy tone. It seems to lack the respect due to
your Lord and Master. I warn you, tonight my temper is short.
RUFUS: Oh dear.
JASPER: I came back to the Hall from a day in the saddle, and went
upstairs to change out of my riding breeches. And what do you think I
RUFUS: Blisters?
JASPER: I saw my wife, the Lady Charlotte Scruple, in bed with a
man.another man!
RUFUS: You mean, there were two of 'em?
JASPER: No, thou loon! A man a commoner in bed with my wife:
the woman I had plucked from the soil and made into a lady; the woman
upon whom I doted, and lavished every care a husband could give.
Imagine how I felt
RUFUS: Disappointed, I shouldn't wonder.
JASPER: I reached for my gun, but the dastard was gone through
the window like a coward! But see what he left behind..!

JASPER pulls out a pair from a trousers from the folds of his

RUFUS: Trousers!
JASPER: Yes! He will not get far; not without these!
RUFUS: The poor devil! And on a night such as this! Why, 'tis cold
enough out there to freeze the
ANNIE: Rufus! Who's that you're a- talkin' to? Why, if it
bain't Sir Jasper Scruple 'imself! Welcome to our 'umble
cottage, Sir Jasper!
JASPER: Thank you.
ANNIE: Rufus fetch Sir Jasper some of your cider.
RUFUS: Don't 'ee be so daft, woman that were made from 'is
JASPER: Alas, I have no time for refreshment. What I have to do
cannot wait. The family name has been rubbed in the mire, and there is
only one course open to a man of honour he who did this dirty deed
must die!
ANNIE: Oh, Sir Jasper! What can 'ave 'appened to force such
cruel words from your lips?
JASPER: My wife has taken a lover and is fled.
JAPSER: Yes! But I shall follow their fleeting footfalls and shall
not falter; until the owner of these trousers is in his grave, no
Scruple may hold his head up again. But first for that vile creature I
once called wifeloverspouse: she has evaded me so far, but soon
she must seek shelter, for she roams the night in her under-pinnings.
ANNIE: You don't say!
JASPER: I do. And I say I shall track her down. In whichsoever hovel
she has sought shelter, I shall discover her. And if I find some
misguided tenant of mine has offered her sanctuary, then it shall
prove the worse for him!
RUFUS: Oh, dear.
JASPER: Or her.
ANNIE: Oh dear.
JASPER: So think very carefully before you answer has that woman
been here tonight?
JASPER: Are you sure?
JASPER: She has not arrived naked and shivering on your doorstep and
begged for your help?
RUFUS: I'd a remembered that.
JASPER: Very well. But if she does come here tonight, you will let
me know?
ANNIE/RUFUS: (Genuflecting) Of course.
JASPER: For if I found she had protectors, what woe might not betide
ANNIE: Oooh!
JASPER: Do I make myself clear?
ANNIE/RUFUS: (Genuflecting) Yes, Sir Jasper.
JASPER: Good. Then I must be off. Every second takes them further
away. You will not forget my words?
ANNIE/RUFUS: (Genuflecting) No, Sir Jasper.
JASPER: (Genuflecting in mockery) Jolly good. Farewell, then.

SIR JASPER strides into the scullery.

ANNIE: Where's 'ee goin' now?

There is a scream from SUZIE, off. JASPER returns.

JASPER: Wrong door. I don't know whether you aware of it, but
there is a young woman in your scullery taking her clothes off.
ANNIE: Our daughter, Suzie.
JASPER: Indeed? How she has grown! Good night.

JASPER exits, L

RUFUS: Mean old baronet! I'm glad now I didn't tell 'im about
that young lady as was askin' after 'im: 'ee don't deserve no
little treats.

SUZIE enters, C, in her underwear, modestly holding up her dress to
cover herself

SUZIE: Sir Jasper! 'Ee rushed in on me!
ANNIE: Don't 'ee fret dear
RUFUS: 'Twere an honest mistake he mistook the door.
SUZIE: But he saw me in my small clothes!
RUFUS: Hush your noise 'tis 'is wife, Lady Charlotte 'ee
wants to see, not thee.
SUZIE: Huh. 'Ee can see 'er anytime, reckon. What's 'ee need
to rush in on me for?
ANNIE: Rufus, what we goin' to do? What if Lady Charlotte's
young man were to come to our door tonight, askin' for our 'elp?
RUFUS: There's only one decent thing we could do.
SUZIE: What's that, dad?
RUFUS: Lend 'im a pair of old trousers, and send 'im packin'.
ANNIE: And what if Lady Charlotte 'erself do come? Could you do
the same to 'er?
RUFUS: What?
ANNIE: Send 'er packin'?
RUFUS: I thought you meant lend 'er a pair of old
trousers. No, wife, if she come to us in 'er hour of
need, we must take 'er in, come what may.
RUFUS: She can sleep in our Suzie's bed.
SUZIE: But I'm 'ome now, dad!
RUFUS: So you be. Then she can come into my bed
ANNIE: Rufus Turnpike!
RUFUS: and I'll 'ave to sleep with thee.
ANNIE: With me?
ANNIE: But we ain't shared same bed these ten years past!
RUFUS: Tell 'ee what
ANNIE: What?
RUFUS: Why don't you an' me share same bed tonight anyways?
ANNIE: Ooh, I don't know
RUFUS: There could be comfort in it for us both.
ANNIE: Go you back to the scullery, me dear. You don't wanna
'ear 'is dirty talk.
SUZIE: That I don't!

SUZIE exits to scullery.

RUFUS: (Frisky) What you say, then wife? Shall us do it?
ANNIE: Ooh! I'll 'ave to think about it. I'd best be
getting' back to my cookin', don't my stew'll be all over the
floor. (Exit)
RUFUS: Might be a good thing, that might give it a bit of
flavour. Come to think of it, 'er stew often tastes like its been on
the floor afore it reaches my plate

There is a timid knock at the door, R

Oh dear.
The knock is repeated

Oh dear. Sounds like trouble! 'Oo is it?
CHARLOTTE: (Off) Lady Charlotte!
RUFUS: It is trouble. Go away! You can't come in 'ere!
CHARLOTTE: I must come in! I am cold and starving!
RUFUS: We're all full up in 'ere!
CHARLOTTE: I have nowhere to go! I must find shelter
RUFUS: Don't 'ee touch that door: I've a loaded gun in
CHARLOTTE: I have no clothes on!
RUFUS: Hold 'ee hard I'll just undo these bolts.

RUFUS opens the door. LADY CHARLOTTE, a sweet, delicate thing,
surely scarcely out of her teens, enters. She is barefoot, dressed in
expensive underwear under an old grey blanket.

CHARLOTTE: Oh, thank you! Thank you!
RUFUS: Couldn't see a poor, defenceless woman abroad on a night
like this. Let me take thy cloak

RUFUS reaches for the blanket

CHARLOTTE: No, no! I have nothing on under this blanket.
RUFUS: Nothing?
CHARLOTTE: Well, vewwy little. (CHARLOTTE has trouble with her
"r"s) I must find food and shelter. I'll do anything if you'll
let me stay!
RUFUS: Anything?
RUFUS: Well, we are a bit short of blankets

Again, RUFUS reaches for the blanket. ANNIE enters

ANNIE: Rufus!
RUFUS: Blast!
ANNIE: Who is this?

CHARLOTTE throws herself at ANNIE's feet

CHARLOTTE: You must help me, Mrs Turnpike I am in the most
tewwible twouble!
ANNIE: Why, 'tis Lady Charlotte! Get off your knees, my dear.
ANNIE: Why not?
CHARLOTTE: Because your husband is standing on my blanket.
RUFUS: Dear me so I am.
ANNIE: Come along, me dear. I'll find you some warm clothing, then
you shall sup with us.
CHARLOTTE: But my husband
ANNIE: He was 'ere. We know. And woe betide any move that man
might make to cross this threshold again tonighthim with his evil
CHARLOTTE: O, thank you! Thank you!
ANNIE: Now, come and sit you by the scullery fire. Rufus is just
fetchin' some more logs. Then we shall have some lovely hot stew.
What do you say to that?
CHARLOTTE: I don't know how I can ever wepay you.
RUFUS: I do. (Exit, R)

ANNIE leads CHARLOTTE into the scullery. The door, L, opens and WILL
TURNPIKE enters, a simple gangling youth, without his trousers. He
talks to the audience:

WILL: By thunder, that were a close shave! I just bin up to the
'All to take some eggs to my Betsy in the kitchen, an' 'er asked
me to 'elp 'er feed the pigs, see? Well, I couldn't say no,
'cos I'd do anything for my Betsy. Anyway, we goes to feed the
pigs, and the old sow, Gertie, she turns savage; she got me down on
the floor an' would 'a gored me somepun terrible if my Betsy
'adn't pulled me out. She weren't able to save my trousers,
though. So I run all the way 'ome.

SUZIE enters from the scullery. She still clutches her dress in
front of her for decency. She sees a man without his trousers and

WILL: Sis!
SUZIE: Willie! It be you!
WILL: I know.
SUZIE: You bain't got no trousers on!
WILL: No more 'ave you.
SUZIE: I be just goin ter take a bath.
WILL: What you doin' 'ome, anyways?
SUZIE: I ran away. The Young Master, 'ee came for me without 'is
trousers on. Oh, Will, it were terrible!
WILL: Must a bin.
SUZIE: When I saw you just now without your trousers, I thought
'ee musta followed I back 'ome. That's why I screamed, see?
SUZIE: I'm goin' for my bath now. You want to put some trousers
on, Will: we got lots o' visitors tonight. (Exit)
WILL: Visitors? Aw. I don't want no strangers to see me like

WILL pulls his shirt down as far as it will go. RUFUS enters ,R, with

RUFUS: What's this!
WILL: That's wood.
RUFUS: Naw! Where's your britches, lad?
WILL: I 'ad 'em ripped off, dad.
RUFUS: Did ye, now?
WILL: I were up at the 'All
RUFUS: Seein' that kitchen wench again, I don't doubt?
WILL: Ar. Well she asked me to
RUFUS: I don't want to know.
WILL: It were terrible, dad!
RUFUS: Terrible?
RUFUS: 'Twere all right last time I did it. Mind you, that were a
few years ago now.
WILL: I 'ad to do it, dad
RUFUS: 'Course you did, boy sooner or later.
WILL: I did it for Betsy, see?
RUFUS: What, my old cow?
WILL: No, dad Betsy up at the 'All. She asked me to do it
RUFUS: Hussey!
WILL: I just went in with the old sow's food, see, an' she
charged me
RUFUS: 'Ow much?
WILL: No, dad charged at me, an' got me down on the floor
RUFUS: On the floor?
WILL: Rolled me all over in the dung
RUFUS: Dung?!
WILL: Ar. It were everywhere, dad all over the floor
RUFUS: Fancy.
WILL: Then she set right into me. That's 'ow I lost my
RUFUS: You didn't tek 'em off, then?
WILL: Naw. She tore 'em from 'ere to 'ere with 'er teeth,
an' ripped them right off!
RUFUS: With 'er teeth??
WILL: I thought I were a gonner until Betsy pulled me out.
RUFUS: What, my old cow?
WILL: No, dad! Betsy up at the 'All!
RUFUS: You just said she was the one as ripped 'em off you.
WILL: No, dad that was the old sow.
RUFUS: What, Lady Charlotte?
WILL: No! Gertie! We was in the pig sty. Why don't you listen?
RUFUS: You an' these two women was makin' rumpy-pumpy in a
WILL: No, there weren't never two women! I were 'elpin' my
Betsy feed the pigs. I thought I'd 'ad it, dad.
RUFUS: I thought you 'ad an' all.
WILL: Do you understand now?
RUFUS: Yes.no. I'll get you some fresh breeks. (Exit C)
WILL: Poor old dad he bain't as sharp as 'ee was. I 'ope
'ee 'urries up with them breeks I'm a sheet of ice below.

LADY CHARLOTTE enters. She has a dress in her hands

WILL: Ooh!
CHARLOTTE: I beg your pardon. I didn't knowit's cold out
tonight, isn't it?
WILL: Very.
CHARLOTTE: I was just going to get dwessed.
WILL: That's my mum's dress.
CHARLOTTE: I know. She said I could bowwow it. I lost mine, you
WILL: Ar. So did I.
CHARLOTTE: Up at the Hall.
WILL: I lost mine there, an' all.
CHARLOTTE: If you would like to be a gentleman
WILL: Oh-ar!
CHARLOTTE: you could hold up this blanket for me to get dwessed
WILL: All right.
CHARLOTTE: Then you could use my blanket, if you like.
WILL: Shan't need it my dad's gone for fresh breeks. But
I'll hold the blanket for you.
CHARLOTTE: Don't look.

WILL holds up the blanket, and CHARLOTTE prepares to put on the
dress. At that very moment, the door to outside is flung open, and SIR
JASPER strides into the room, red of face. He confronts WILL:

JASPER: So, villain! We meet again!
WILL: Huh?
JASPER: I'll teach you to play with my wife!
WILL: Thank 'ee kindly, Sir Jasper. I be a slow learner, mind.
JASPER: Drop that ridiculous blanket, sir, and come over here.
WILL: I can't.
JASPER: Very well, I shall shoot you over there.

WILL lets the blanket fall. CHARLOTTE is revealed. She drops the
dress she was about to put on.

Ah! So you are at it again!
CHARLOTTE: No, Jasper, no!
JASPER: By all that's holy, knave, thou shalt pay for this with
thy manhood!

JASPER points his pistol at WILL's groin.

WILL: Oooh!
CHARLOTTE: (Rushing to her husband) Jasper, Jasper! Do not judge by
what you see
JASPER: Out of my way, woman! I shall deal with you next.
CHARLOTTE: This boy is but a child
JASPER: More shame on you, then!
CHARLOTTE: But he is innocent! Innocent, I say!
WILL: That's right I'm innocent!

WILL picks up the blanket and throws it over JASPER's head, whilst
he is still distracted by CHARLOTTE.

Come on!

WILL grasps CHARLOTTE's hand and drags her out of the door into
the yard. RUFUS enters .

RUFUS: What's all this noise? Oh! Burgular!

RUFUS drags the blanket off JASPER and finds himself face to face
with the angry baronet.

RUFUS: Sir Jasper!
JASPER: Turnpike! Where are they?
RUFUS: Dunno.
JASPER: I warned you not to offer my wife succour.
RUFUS: I never did that!
JASPER: And I find her sheltering under your very roof with her
JASPER: Traitor! Turncoat! Blackguard! You die for this!

JASPER levels his pistol at RUFUS

RUFUS: Nooooo!

RUFUS snatches JASPER's pistol and escapes with it to the yard.
With a roar, JASPER races after him. He takes up Rufus's
blunderbuss, still leaning on the door post, and fires into the

RUFUS: (Off) Aaaaaarrrrgh!


[end of extract]

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