A bit more data:

>  My first attempt was to add a 'test' method to the
> class which took the same parameters as initialize but just checked
> them.  Whenever I invoked Action::Nagios.test I got errors about not
> being able to access private method 'test'. 

actual error is:

private method `test' called for Action::Email:Class

when invoked by:

            begin
              eval "test = Action::#{tok}.test(#{parms})"  # known class 
?
            rescue SyntaxError, StandardError =>e
              error( "bad paramers or unknown action #{tok}: #{e}")
              rest_of_line
              @errors = true
            end

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