The Devil's Disciple HTML version
Early next morning the sergeant, at the British headquarters in the Town Hall, unlocks the
door of a little empty panelled waiting room, and invites Judith to enter. She has had a
bad night, probably a rather delirious one; for even in the reality of the raw morning, her
fixed gaze comes back at moments when her attention is not strongly held.
The sergeant considers that her feelings do her credit, and is sympathetic in an
encouraging military way. Being a fine figure of a man, vain of his uniform and of his
rank, he feels specially qualified, in a respectful way, to console her.
SERGEANT. You can have a quiet word with him here, mum.
JUDITH. Shall I have long to wait?
SERGEANT. No, mum, not a minute. We kep him in the Bridewell for the night; and
he's just been brought over here for the court martial. Don't fret, mum: he slep like a
child, and has made a rare good breakfast.
JUDITH (incredulously). He is in good spirits!
SERGEANT. Tip top, mum. The chaplain looked in to see him last night; and he won
seventeen shillings off him at spoil five. He spent it among us like the gentleman he is.
Duty's duty, mum, of course; but you're among friends here. (The tramp of a couple of
soldiers is heard approaching.) There: I think he's coming. (Richard comes in, without a
sign of care or captivity in his bearing. The sergeant nods to the two soldiers, and shows
them the key of the room in his hand. They withdraw.) Your good lady, sir.
RICHARD (going to her). What! My wife. My adored one. (He takes her hand and
kisses it with a perverse, raffish gallantry.) How long do you allow a brokenhearted
husband for leave-taking, Sergeant?
SERGEANT. As long as we can, sir. We shall not disturb you till the court sits.
RICHARD. But it has struck the hour.
SERGEANT. So it has, sir; but there's a delay. General Burgoyne's just arrived--
Gentlemanly Johnny we call him, sir--and he won't have done finding fault with
everything this side of half past. I know him, sir: I served with him in Portugal. You may
count on twenty minutes, sir; and by your leave I won't waste any more of them. (He goes
out, locking the door. Richard immediately drops his raffish manner and turns to Judith
with considerate sincerity.)