Free Jumpers by Tom Stoppard

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Authors: Tom Stoppard
masters to return to the true path, then I’m afraid it would certainly have been an ice-pick in the back of the skull.
    DOTTY (
): Darling!
    ARCHIE : And then again, perhaps it was Dorothy. Or someone.
    DOTTY (
): Darling!
    BONES : My advice to you is, number one, get her lawyer over here——
    ARCHIE : That will not be necessary. I am Miss Moore’s legal adviser.
    BONES : Number two, completely off the record, get her off on expert evidence—nervous strain, appalling pressure, and one day—snap!—blackout, can’t remember a thing. Put her in the box and you’re half-way there. The other half is, get something on Mad Jock McFee, and if you don’t get a Scottish judge it’ll be three years probation and the sympathy of the court.
    ARCHIE : This is most civil of you, Inspector, but a court appearance would be most embarrassing to my client and patient; and three years’ probation is not an insignificant curtailment of a person’s liberty.
    BONES : For God’s sake, man, we’re talking about a murder charge.
    ARCHIE : You are. What I had in mind is that McFee, suffering from nervous strain brought on by the appalling pressure of overwork—for which I blame myself entirely—left here last night in a mood of deep depression, and wandered into the park, where he crawled into a large plastic bag and shot himself…
opens his mouth to speak
… leaving this note… ( ARCHIE
produces it from his pocket
.)… which was found in the bag together with his body by some gymnasts on an early morning keep-fit run. (
opens his mouth to speak
Here is the coroner’s certificate.
produces another note, which
takes from him
reads it
    BONES : Is this genuine?
    ARCHIE (
): Of course it’s genuine. I’m a coroner, not a forger.
hands the certificate back, and almost comes to attention
    BONES : Sir Archibald Bouncer——
    ARCHIE : Jumper.
    BONES : Sir Archibald Jumper, I must——
    ARCHIE : Now, I judge from your curiously formal and some-what dated attitude, that you are deaf to offers of large sums of money for favours rendered.
    BONES : I didn’t hear that.
    ARCHIE : Exactly. On the other hand, I think you are a man who feels that his worth has not been recognized. Other men have got on—younger men, flashier men… Superintendants… Commissioners….
    BONES : There may be something in that.
    ARCHIE : I dare say your ambitions do not stop with the Police
Force, even.
    BONES : Oh?
    ARCHIE : Inspector, my patronage is not extensive, but it is select.
I can offer prestige, the respect of your peers and almost unlimited credit among the local shopkeepers—in short, the Chair of Divinity is yours for the asking.
    BONES : The Chair of Divinity?
    ARCHIE : Not perhaps, the Chair which is in the eye of the hurricane nowadays, but a professorship will still be regarded as a distinction come the day—early next week, in all probability—when the Police Force will be thinned out to a ceremonial front for the peace-keeping activities of the Army.
    BONES : I see. Well, until that happens, I should still like to know—if McFee shot himself inside a plastic bag, where is the gun?
    ARCHIE (
): Very good thinking indeed! On consideration I can give you the Chair of Logic, but that is my last offer.
    BONES : This is a British murder enquiry and some degree ofjustice must be seen to be more or less done.
    ARCHIE : I must say I find your attitude lacking in flexibility.
What makes you so sure that it
Miss Moore who shot McFee?
    BONES : I have a nose for these things.
    ARCHIE : With the best will in the world I can’t give the Chair of
Logic to a man who relies on nasal intuition.
    DOTTY (
): Help!
restrains him
    ARCHIE : It’s all right—just exhibitionism: what we

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