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The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume XV

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The Double Life

The Stage represents a room in the Deacon’s house, furnished partly as a sitting-, partly as a bed-room, in the style of an easy burgess of about 1780. C., a door; L.C., second and smaller door; R.C., practicable window; L., alcove, supposed to contain bed; at the back, a clothes-press and a corner cupboard containing bottles, etc.

Mary Brodie at needlework; Old Brodie, a paralytic, in wheeled chair, at the fireside, L.


To these, Leslie, C.

Leslie. May I come in, Mary?

Mary. Why not?

Leslie. I scarce knew where to find you.

Mary. The dad and I must have a corner, must we not? So when my brother’s friends are in the parlour he allows us to sit in his room. ’Tis a great favour, I can tell you; the place is sacred.

Leslie. Are you sure that “sacred” is strong enough?

Mary. You are satirical!

Leslie. I? And with regard to the Deacon? Believe me, I am not so ill-advised. You have trained me well, and I feel by him as solemnly as a true-born Brodie.

Mary. And now you are impertinent! Do you mean to go any further? We are a fighting race, we Brodies. O, you may laugh, sir! But ’tis no child’s play to jest us on our Deacon, or, for that matter, on our Deacon’s chamber either. It was his father’s before him: he works in it by day and sleeps in it by night; and scarce anything it contains but is the labour of his hands. Do you see this table, Walter? He made it while he was yet a ’prentice. I remember how I used to sit and watch him at his work. It would be grand, I thought, to be able to do as he did, and handle edge-tools without cutting my fingers, and getting my ears pulled for a meddlesome minx! He used to give me his mallet to keep and his nails to hold; and didn’t I fly when he called for them! and wasn’t I proud to be ordered about with them! And then, you know, there is the tall cabinet yonder; that it was that proved him the first of Edinburgh joiners, and worthy to be their Deacon and their head. And the father’s chair, and the sister’s work-box, and the dear dead mother’s footstool—what are they all but proofs of the Deacon’s skill, and tokens of the Deacon’s care for those about him?

Leslie. I am all penitence. Forgive me this last time, and I promise you I never will again.

Mary. Candidly, now, do you think you deserve forgiveness?

Leslie. Candidly, I do not.

Mary. Then I suppose you must have it. What have you done with Willie and my uncle?

Leslie. I left them talking deeply. The dear old Procurator has not much thought just now for anything but those mysterious burglaries——

Mary. I know!——

Leslie. Still, all of him that is not magistrate and official is politician and citizen; and he has been striving his hardest to undermine the Deacon’s principles, and win the Deacon’s vote and interest.

Mary. They are worth having, are they not?

Leslie. The Procurator seems to think that having them makes the difference between winning and losing.

Mary. Did he say so? You may rely upon it that he knows....