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THE ELOCUTIONIST'S CURFEW
BY W. D. NESBIT
England's sun was slowly setting (Raise your right hand to
your brow), Filling all the land with beauty-(Wear a gaze of rapture now); And the last rays kissed the forehead of a man and maiden fair (With a movement slow and graceful you may now push back
your hair); He with sad, bowed head-(A drooping of your head will be all
right, Till you hoarsely, sadly whisper) ---"Curfew must not ring
“Sexton," Bessie's white lips faltered—(Try here to resemble
Tho of course you know she'd never worn quite such a charming
dress), "I've a lover in that prison"-(Don't forget to roll your r's And to shiver as tho gazing through the iron prison bars), “Cromwell will not come till sunset”-(Speak each word as
tho you'd bite Every syllable to pieces) —“Curfew must not ring to-night.”
"Bessie," calmly spoke the sexton-(Here extend your velvet
palm, Let it tremble like the sexton's as tho striving to be calm), "Long, long y'ars I've rung the curfew"—(Don't forget to make
it y'ars With a pitiful inflection that a world of sorrow bears), "I have done my duty ever"-(Draw yourself up to your height, For you're speaking as the sexton) — "Gyurl, the curfew rings
Out she swung, far out—(Now here is where you've got to sa
Let your head be twisted backward, let great sobs heave up your
chest, Swing your right foot through an arc of ninety lineal degrees, Then come down and swing your left foot, and be sure don't
bend your knees; Keep this up for fifteen minutes till your face is worn and white, Then gaze at your mangled fingers)—“Curfew shall not ring
O'er the distant hills came Cromwell-(Right hand to the brow
once more; Let your eyes look down the distance, say above the entrance
door) At his foot she told her story—(Lift your hands as tho they
hurt) And her sweet young face so haggard—(Now your pathos you
assert, Then you straighten up as Cromwell, and be sure you get it right; Don't say “Go, your liver loves !") well: “Curfew shall not ring
to-night!" Reprinted from Harper's Magazine, by permission of Harper and Brothers.
BY STEPHEN LEACOCK
Some people find great difficulty in saying good-by when making a call or spending the evening. As the moment draws near when the visitor feels that he is fairly entitled to go away, he rises and says abruptly, "Well, I think-" Then the people say, "Oh,
_ must you go now Surely it's early yet!" and a pitiful struggle
I think the saddest case of this kind of thing that I ever knew was that of my poor friend Melpomenus Jones, a curate-such a dear young man and only twenty-three! He simply couldn't get away from people. He was too modest to tell a lie, and too relig
Aus to wish to appear rude. Now it happened that he went to call on some friends of his on the very first afternoon of his summer vacation. The next six weeks were entirely his own—absolutely nothing to do. He chatted a while, drank two cups of tea, then braced himself for the effort and said suddenly:
"Well, I think I-"
But the lady of the house said, “Oh, no, Mr. Jones, can't you really stay a little longer ?”
Jones was always truthful—“Oh, yes, of course, I-er-can.” “Then please don't go.”
He stayed. He drank eleven cups of tea. Night was falling. He rose again.
"Well, now, I think I really-"
“You must go? I thought perhaps you could have stayed to dinner
"Oh, well, so I could, you know, if-"
“All right, I'll stay"; and he sank back into his chair, just full of tea, and miserable.
Father came home. They had dinner. All through the meal Jones sat planning to leave at eight-thirty. All the family wondered whether Mr. Jones was stupid and sulky, or only stupid.
After dinner mother undertook to “draw him out” and showed him photographs. She showed him all the family museum, several gross of them-photos of father's uncle and his wife, and mother's brother and his little boy, and awfully interesting photos of father's uncle's friend in his Bengal uniform, an awfully welltaken photo of father's grandfather's partner's dog, and an awfully wicked one of father as the devil for a fancy-dress ball.
At eight-thirty Jones had examined seventy-one photographs. There were about sixty-nine more that he hadn't. Jones rose.
"I must say good-night now," he pleaded.
"Say good-night! why it's only half-past eight! Have you anything to do ?”
“Nothing,” he admitted, and muttered something about staying six weeks, and then laughed miserably.
Just then it turned out that the favorite child of the family, such a dear little romp, had hidden Mr. Jones' hat; so father
said that he must stay, and invited him to a pipe and a chat. Father had the pipe and gave Jones the chat, and still he stayed. Every moment he meant to take the plunge, but couldn't. Then father began to get very tired of Jones, and fidgeted and finally said, with jocular irony, that Jones had better stay all nightthey could give him a shake-down. Jones mistook his meaning and thanked him with tears in his eyes, and father put Jones to bed in the spare-room and curst him heartily.
After breakfast next day, father went off to his work in the city and left Jones playing with the baby, broken-hearted. His nerve was utterly gone. He was meaning to leave all day, but the thing had got on his mind and he simply couldn't. When father came home in the evening he was surprized and chagrined to find Jones still there. He thought to jockey him out with a jest, and said he thought he'd have to charge him for his board, he! he! The unhappy young man stared wildly for a moment, then wrung father's hand, paid him a month's board in advance, and broke down and sobbed like a child.
In the days that followed he was moody and unapproachable. He lived, of course, entirely in the drawing-room, and the lack of air and exercise began to tell sadly on his health. He passed his time in drinking tea and looking at photographs. He would stand for hours together gazing at the photograph of father's uncle's friend in his Bengal uniform-talking to it, sometimes swearing bitterly at it. His mind was visibly failing.
At length the crash came. They carried him up-stairs in a raging delirium of fever. The illness that followed was terrible. He recognized no one, not even father's uncle's friend in his Bengal uniform. At times he would start up from his bed and shriek: “Well, I think I- _” and then fall back upon the pillow with a horrible laugh. Then, again, he would leap up and cry: "Another cup of tea and more photographs! More photographs! Hear! Hear!”
At length, after a month of agony, on the last day of his vacation he passed away.
They say that when the last moment came, he sat up in bed with a beautiful smile of confidence playing upon his face, and said: "Well—the angels are calling me; I'm afraid I really must go now.
HER FIFTEEN MINUTES
BY TOM MASSON
At exactly fifteen minutes to eight
And then, with heart that was light and gay,
And rang the bell for the maiden trim
And told the servant, with joyous air,
And then for fifteen minutes he sat
And waited and sighed for the maiden trim
Until, as the clock overhead struck eight,
And took a turn on the parlor floor,
And thought of those seats in the front parquet. And midnight came, and the break of day;
That day and the next, and the next one, too,
Then time flew on and the years sped by,
And lengthening beard, for the maiden trim