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Smuggle Me a Secret


Music by Dennis Atkinson; Words by Vera Heade


(Kent in the early 1800s)

The Excise men are on the look-out for smugglers. A last campaign is being planned by the smugglers themselves, who are all thought of as respected and leading citizens of the parish, at the Inn of the Three Black Swans. They have heard of the shipment of a casket of gold plate from France, which is due to be off-loaded two nights from now at Tavern's Bay. The innkeeper, James Ratchett, and his son, Edward, realise what the meeting is about. When the smugglers leave, the inn is visited by the Lord of the Manor, Sir Ralph Murdoch, and his daughter Melanie. Edward and Melanie are in love. If only he had more than love to offer Melanie, Edward would dare to ask Sir Ralph for his daughter's hand in marriage.

The Excise men ask Edward to help them catch the smugglers for which there will be a reward. Encouraged by Melanie, he agrees. Two nights later a boat is wrecked, lured by the smugglers. When they land, Edward confronts them with a pistol They all scatter except one, who is taken prisoner and put in a cellar. The next morning his identity is revealed. To everyone's shocked surprise, it turns out to be Sir Ralph, who is arrested and taken away. Melanie then tells Edward that he can't possibly marry a smuggler's daughter. Later she regrets sending Edward away. Bleak the butler reveals to Melanie a secret between himself and her father. Meanwhile the smugglers are full of remorse for their misdeeds but wonder what happened to the casket of gold plate - it just disappeared.

Edward has by now moved twenty miles away up the coast, trying to make a living by fishing. He looks after Captain Dogoodie, washed up on a beach badly injured after the wreck caused by the smugglers. When he recovers, the Captain, who is really the Chief Customs Officer, returns with Edward to the Inn. The Captain explains Edward's part in the action and orders that the casket, which Edward hid in an old well at the Inn, should be dug up. There are gasps of surprise when the Captain opens the lock and reveals nothing but useless junk. He explains that it has all been a trick. Sir Ralph has never been a smuggler. He used the opportunity to help catch the smugglers once and for all and his arrest was a ruse planned by himself and the Captain. Edward gets a large reward from the Customs authorities for his actions. Finally Sir Ralph gives him permission to marry Melanie and she, of course, is all the reward Edward really wants.

Principal Characters

(plus Chorus)

James Ratchett
Sir Ralph
Melanie Bleak

Excise Men: Simkins & Tomkins

Smugglers: Farmer, Vicar, Blacksmith, Butcher, Baker, Fisherman

Captain Dogoodie

(Note: The MEN's singing parts have been written throughout in the treble clef in such a way that they may be sung equally convincingly by adult or children's voices)

Principal Musical Numbers


Piano only