THE NIGHT WALKER, or
THE LITTLE THIEF
[revised by James Shirley and licensed 11 May 1633]
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Alathe is the sister of Lurcher, and the true identity of the boy, Snap.
Justice Algripe is an avaricious old man and the intended match for Maria. He was previously engaged to Alathe, Lurcher's sister, but broke the engagement and refused to return the dowry. When he discovers Hartlove attempting to seduce Maria, he renounces his newly made vows, leading to Maria's apparent death and, once again, he refuses to return the dowry. On his way home he encounters Lurcher and Snap in the cemetery with the body of Maria. Snap pretends to be the ghost of Maria and tells Algripe of the eternal torments he will suffer for his treatment of both Maria and Alathe. Later Lurcher and Snap lure Algripe to a remote area where he is threatened by furies and brought to repentance by Snap, disguised as an angel. He returns Alathe's dowry to Lurcher and Maria's dowry to her mother. Snap reveals "himself" as Alathe; Algripe reproposes, and Alathe accepts the offer.
Disguise taken by Snap (Alathe in disguise). Snap helps Lurcher rob Algripe and then lure him to a secluded place where he poses as an angel who chases away the furies and offers Algripe salvation if he mends his ways.
Frank Hartlove is a suitor to Maria. At her wedding to Algripe, he becomes drunk, and, at Wildbraine's bidding, attempts to seduce Maria in the cloister before she can lose her maidenhood to Algripe. Wildbraine then leads Algripe to the cloister, and, in the ensuing fracas, Maria apparently dies. Hartlove plans to kill Wildbraine in revenge but is stopped by Maria, pretending to be her own ghost. A repentant Hartlove goes to Maria's mother and meets Maria disguised as Guennith, the nurse's Welsh niece. Hartlove asks Maria's mother for permission to marry Guennith as a substitute for Maria but later recants his proposal. When he does so, Maria reveals herself to Hartlove, and the lovers are reunited.
They become engaged when Algripe reveals that his marriage to Maria is void due to a previous engagement.
The Furies appear to Algripe and threaten to drag him to hell for his evil actions. They are chased away by Snap (Alathe in disguise), dressed as an angel, who offers Algripe salvation if he mends his ways.
Guennith, a Welsh country girl, is the disguise Maria takes to conceal herself after her apparent death.
The Lady marries her daughter, Maria, to the old, avaricious Algripe, despite the daughter's love for Frank Hartlove. When her daughter apparently dies, the lady regrets the engagement. Furthermore, Algripe refuses to return Maria's dowry, which the lady tries to get back. When Maria returns home disguised as Guennith, the lady recognizes her daughter; a contrite Algripe returns the dowry, and the lady consents to Maria's marriage to Hartlove.
Tom Lurcher is a gentleman. He loses his money to Algripe who agrees to marry
Lurcher's sister Alathe but then reneges on the agreement and keeps the dowry.
Estranged from his sister and penniless, he turns to thievery to support himself. Lurcher encounters a Boy named Snap who asks to serve as his accomplice in thievery. Together they attempt to steal a chest from Maria's mother but accidentally steal the supposed corpse of Maria instead; they leave it in the cemetery. They rob Algripe then lure him to a remote area where furies threaten him with damnation and Snap, dressed as an angel, brings him to contrition. Lurcher loses his mistress to Wildbraine and then robs him and Toby while they are bell-ringing. He returns Wildbraine's stolen clothes and possessions and concedes the loss of his mistress. At the end of the play Lurcher receives Alathe's dowry from Algripe, and Sbap reveals "himself" as Alathe.
Lurcher's mistress is an enthusiastic recipient of goods stolen by Lurcher.
When he and Snap bring home the body of Maria by mistake, Lurcher's mistress urges the necessity of burying it. She meets Wildbraine after he fights with Hartlove, and falls for him, tends to his injuries, and gives him money and possessions she has received from Lurcher. Lurcher finally concedes the loss of his mistress to Wilbraine.
Despite her love for Frank Hartlove, Maria marries Justice Algripe at her mother's insistence. Before she can go to bed with her new husband, Hartlove attempts to seduce her, and the two are discovered. In the ensuing commotion, Maria faints and is taken for dead. Her body is accidentally stolen by Lurcher and Snap, and she wakes to find herself in a cemetery at night. She prevents Hartlove from killing Wildbraine by pretending to be her own ghost. Maria returns to her mother's house disguised as the nurse's niece, Guennith, a Welsh country girl. Her mother sees through the disguise but encourages Maria to maintain her ruse before Frank Hartlove. Hartlove is amazed by Guennith's resemblance to Maria and asks for permission to marry her as a substitute for Maria. Later he retracts his request, vowing to never marry, at which point Maria reveals herself. Her marriage to Algripe is found to be void; Hartlove proposes, and Maria accepts.
Twice someone pretends to be Maria's ghost in the play.
- Maria, after awakening in the cemetery, prevents Hartlove from killing Wildbraine by pretending to be her own ghost.
- Snap (Alathe in disguise) also pretends in the cemetery to be the ghost of Maria and chastises Algripe.
Mistress Newlove is a gentlewoman and the wife of a merchant. She is sympathetic to Maria's cause and the object of an attempted seduction by Wildbraine.
The Nurse to Maria. She chastises Maria's mother for the intended match to Algripe. When Maria returns, the nurse helps her conceal her identity, presenting Maria as Guennith, the nurse's Welsh niece.
The Sexton gives Wildbraine, Toby, and the other ringers various items to cover themselves after Lurcher steals their clothes.
Alathe is disguised as a boy who calls himself Snap. As Snap, she offers to serve Lurcher as an accomplice in stealing but cleverly foils Lurcher's thefts. In the cemetery he pretends to be the ghost of Maria and chastises Algripe. Snap helps Lurcher rob Algripe and then lure him to a secluded place where he poses as an angel who chases away the furies and offers Algripe salvation if he mends his ways. At the end of the play, he reveals "himself" as Alathe, Lurcher's estranged sister, who was previously betrothed to Algripe. The reformed and contrite Algripe reproposes to Alathe who accepts his offer.
Toby is the coachman to Maria's mother. On the night of Maria's wedding,
Wildbraine mistakes Toby for Mistress Newlove and seduces him. When Maria's mother cuts off her support to Wildbraine, Toby offers to help him by cheating and stealing from her. The two go bell-ringing together; while doing so Lurcher robs them of their clothes and possessions.
Jacke Wildbraine is a rake. He is the cousin of Maria and the ward of her mother, the Lady. At Maria's wedding, he convinces an inebriated Frank Hartlove to seduce Maria in the cloister before she can lose her maidenhead to her husband Algripe. Wildbraine then takes Algripe to the cloister to witness the attempt. The ensuing fracas results in Maria's apparent death. After the wedding, Wildbraine attempts to seduce Mistress Newlove and in the dark accidentally makes advances on Toby. When Maria's mother cuts off her support and throws him out of doors, Wildbraine fights with Hartlove and his wounded. Lurcher's mistress takes him in and dresses his wounds. She gives him money and jewels that she has received from Lurcher. With Toby and several others Wildbraine goes bell-ringing; while doing so, Lurcher and Snap rob him and the others of their clothes and possessions. Wearing only a rug borrowed from the sexton, he encounters Lurcher, who returns the stolen items and concedes to him his mistress.