of soul [give it} as surely indicates a genial and genuine nature
as the rainbow in the dewdrop heralds the beautiful day.
A laugh is one of God's truths. [Laugh heartily.} It tolerates
no disguises. [Laugh very cordially.} A falsehood may train the
voice to flow in softest cadences [laugh characteristically], the
face to wreathe into smiles of surpassing sweetness [ give broad
smile], to put on the look we trust in, but the mockery becomes
apparent to the careful observer.
Who has not started and shuddered at the hollow "He ! he ! he !"
of some velvet-voiced Mephistopheles ? Leave nature alone.
[Laugh very heartily, giving some variations from preceding
laughs.] If she is noble, her broadest expression will soon tone
itself down to fine accordance with life's real earnestness. If she
is base, no silken interweaving can keep out of sight her ugly head
Laugh if you want to live well. [Laugh heartily.] He only
exists who drags his days after him like a massive chain, asking
sympathy with uplifted brows as the beggar asks alms. Better
die for your own sake and for the world's sake than to pervert
the uses and graces and dignities of life. There is no need to lay
our girlhood and boyhood down so doggedly upon the altar of
sacrifice as we toil up life's mountain side. Gray hairs should no
74 WERNER'S READINGS
longer be the insignia of age, but the crown of ripe and perennial
Laugh for your health. [Do so very heartily.] Laugh for
your beauty. [Do so comically.] The joyous carry a fountain
of light in their eyes and around in their dimples where the echoes
of gladness play "hide-and-seek." But your lean and hungry
Cassius is never betrayed into a laugh. If we put a laugh into a
strait-jacket [laugh hollowly}, we kill the soul of joy. If we
attempt to refine, we destroy its pure, mellifluent ring. If we sup-
press a laugh [illustrate}, it mocks the effort that puts it forth.
"Laugh, and the world laughs with you ; weep, and you weep
alone." Laugh and be judged by it. [Laugh heartily.] Laugh
and set the echoes ringing all about you. [Laugh more heartily.}
Laugh and grow fat. [Laugh heartily as you leave stage.]
[Enter stage crying bitterly and then address audience.]
I would be willing to choose my girl by the quality of her cry
[a sad, weeping countenance]. A quiet sob from the heart [il-
lustrate] as surely indicates the tender and sympathetic nature as
anything a girl ever did or is likely to do.
A cry is one of God's truths. [Cry bitterly.] It tolerates no
disguises. [Cry in great agony.] Leave nature alone. [Cry
wildly.] Cry if you want to "hold your own." [Cry lustily.] He
only strives against nature who giggles. Cry with all your heart.
I don't blame the babies for crying. It's the first privilege of
existence. Cry for your beauty. [Beauty's cry should be full of
grimaces.] Cry when you have the toothache. [Cry as in pain.]
After giving the monologue "Laughing," wait a moment and then give
the monologue "Crying," as an encore. The two monologues may also
be successfully given at one time by two different persons who appear
simultaneously on stage, one laughing heartily, the other crying bitterly.
The Laugher recites his first sentence with full business; then the Crier
recites his first sentence with full business, they alternating in this way
until the end.
"AND RECITATIONS NO. 32. 75
A FLORENTINE JULIET,
Romantic, Pathetic, Italian Monologue in Verse for a Woman.
CHARACTERS REPRESENTED: FLORENTINE MOTHER, Speaker,
present; RENZO, her son, supposed to be present.
COSTUME : That of a matron of the I2th to I4th Century a
STAGE-SETTING: Boudoir interior of the I2th to I4th century.
SCENE : At rise of curtain MOTHER is seated near a table looking
down at Son who is supposed to be seated near her.
WHAT is it, my Renzo? What is thy desire?
To hear my story hear the whole of it?
Ah, boy, with eyes still full of childish dreams,
And yet with manhood on the firm young lip,
'Tis a hard thing to ask me, and a strange.
Yet must I do this hard thing for thy sake,
Since who shall do it for thee, if not I?
Thy father, who had else more fitly told,
Is at the wars, the weary, wasting wars.
Long years ago he sailed unto the wars,
And dead or living, comes not back to us.
Thou bearest an honorable name, my son,
Two mighty houses meet and blend in thee :
For I, thy mother, of the warlike line
Of Bardi, lords of Florence in past time,
Was daughter, and thy sire Ippolito
Sprang from the Buondelmonti, their sworn foes:
For we were Guelph and they were Ghibelline,
76 WERNER'S READINGS
And centuries of wrong, and seas of blood,
And old traditional hatreds sundered us.
Even in my babyhood I heard the name
Of Buondelmonti uttered 'twixt set teeth
And coupled with a curse, and I would pant
And knit my brows and clench my tiny fist
And whimper at the very sound of it :
Whereat my father, stout Amerigo,
Would catch me up and toss me overhead,
And say I was best Bardi of them all :
And if his sons but matched his only maid
They'd make quick work of the black Ghibellines
And of Buondelmonti.
So I grew
To woman's stature, and men called me fair,
And suitors, like a flight of bees, began
To hum and cluster wheresoe'er I moved.
And then there came the day that fateful day,
When little Ghan, my father's latest born,
Was carried for chrism to the baptistry.
And standing, all unaware, beside the font,
I looked across the dim and crowded church
And saw a face, a dazzling, youthful face,
A face that smote my vision like a star:
With golden locks, and eyes divinely bright
Like San Michele in the picture there,
Fixed upon mine.
Had any whispered then
It was Ippolito, our foeman's son,
At whom I gazed, I should have turned away.
My father's daughter sure had turned away.
But nothing warned me, nothing hindered him,
We looked upon each other Fate so willed
And with our eyes our hearts met.
AND RECITATIONS NO. 32.
And still that tender, radiant gaze wooed mine,
And still I felt the enchantment burn and burn,
But would not turn my head or look again:
And all that night I lay and felt those eyes,
And day by day they seemed to follow me,
Like unknown planets of some strange new heaven
Whose depths I dared not question or explore;
And love and hate so strove for mastery,
Within my girl's heart made their battle-field,
That all my forces failed and life grew faint.
He for his part set forth with heart afire,
To learn my name sad knowledge, easy gained,
Leaving the learner stricken with a chill.
And after that wherever I might go
To ball or feast, I saw him, only him !
And while the other cavaliers pressed round
To praise my face or dress or hold my fan,
Or bid me to the dance, he stood aloof
With passionate eyes, but never might draw near
For still my brother Piero or my sire
Was close behind, with dark-set brows intent
To watch him that he did not dare to speak.
At last, with baffling of his heart-sick hope
And long suspense and sorrow he fell ill :
And in a moment when life's tide ran low
He told his mother all : she, loving him well
And loth to see him perish thus forlorn,
Became his ally, spoke him words of cheer,
And with my cousin Contessa, her sworn friend,
She counsel took : and so, betwixt the two,
It came about that on a day of spring
We met : a meeting cunningly contrived.
In an old villa past the walls.
My mother had led me thither, knowing naught,
78 WERNER'S READINGS
And I, naught knowing, had wandered for a space
Among the boskage and the fragrant vines;
I heard the soft throb of a mandolin,
And next a voice, divinely sweet it seemed,
A voice unheard till then, and yet I knew
The voice for his.
The music ceased, the while spell-bound I stayed,
Then came a rustle, he was at my feet!
Few moments might we stay, and few words speak:
But love is swift of tongue, all was arranged,
The plan of our escape, the hour, the place,
And that Ippolito, next night but two,
With a rope ladder hidden 'neath his cloak,
Should stand beneath my window. Once on ground
A priest should wait to bind us quickly one.
Then a mad gallop, ere the dawn of day,
Would set us safely forth beyond the rule
Of the Black Lily.
With his vanishing"
The thing grew like a dream, and as in a dream
I seemed to walk the next day and the next;
For all my thoughts were of that coming night,
And all my fear was lest it should not come.
And all the old-time animosities,
And all the hates bred in me from a child,
And feudal faith and loyalties were dead;
I was no more a Bardi ; Love ruled all.
It came, the night, and on the stroke of twelve
I stood at the casement, wrapped in veil, with maslc
And muffling cloak laid ready close beside :
And there I stood and watched and heard the bells
Strike one, two, three, and saw the rose of dawn
AND RECITATIONS NO. 32. 79
Deepen to day, and still my love came not.
Then fearing to be spied, I crept to bed,
And lying in a weary trance, half sleep,
Heard shouts and cries and noise of joyful stir
Run through the palace, and quick echoing feet,
And little Cosmo thundering at my door.
:< Wake, Dianora, here is glorious news,
Ippolito, our foeman's only son,
Is caught red-handed on some midnight raid,
Taken with a rope-ladder 'neath his cloak,
Bound for some theft or felony, no doubt :
And, as he offers neither excuse nor plea,
He is to suffer at the hour of noon,
In spite of his fond father's threats and cries.
All that the criminal asks by way of boon
Is he may pass our palace as he goes
Unto the scaffold. A queer fancy that,
But all the better sport it makes for us,
And we need neither pity nor deny ;
So rise, sweet sister, don your bravest gear,
For all the household on the balcony
Will be to jeer the fellow as he wends."
My boy, look not so startled, those were bitter days.
What was I saying? So I rose that day
A traitor unsuspected 'mid his foes,
Who were my friends, hiding 'neath feigned smiles
A purpose desperate as was my hope.
I rose and let them deck me as they would,
Put on my jewels, star my hair with pearls,
And all the while a voice like funeral dirge
Sang in my half-crazed ears or seemed to sing
The fragment and the cadence of a song,
"Ah death, the end of grief, what do I care?"
Then took my station on the balcony,
In the mid place, the very front of all,
So WERNER'S READINGS
To see the hated foeman of our race
Led past the palace on his way to die !
Long time we waited, till the fear began
To stir that some mischance had marred the plan,
And still I sat and smiled, and while the bells
Tolled, and they talked and buzzed, I only prayed,
"O pitying Virgin, only grant he come!"
They came at last, the Bargello and his troop,
And in the midst my love with hands fast tied
And golden locks uncurled and face all wan,
But still with gallant bearing, and his eyes
Fixed upon mine me, for whose sake he died,
For whose sweet honor's sake he silent died.
There was a little halt and then a cry
Of fierce joy rang from out our balcony.
Now was my time : all sudden sprang I up,
And while the astonished crowd kept silence deep,
And they, my kin, amazed, sat silent, too,
I loudly told our tale, our woful tale,
And made avowal that 'twas for my sake
Ippolito his noble silence kept!
Then, while my brother strove to stop my mouth
And fierce hands clutched my gown and seized my arms,
I clung and pleaded : "Find the holy friar,
Good people, only send to find the friar
Find him for pity's sake ; he will confirm
All I have said and prove my truth, and his,
And save my dear love, slain for love of me."
Then a great cry arose ; some this way ran,
Some that, and suddenly, amid the press
A cowl was seen, and Fra Domenico,
Breathless with haste, just conscious of our need,
Ran in the midst, and then, I know not what,
For all was tumult ; but my love stood free,
Free and unbound, and all the populace
AND RECITATIONS NO. 3*- Hi
Shouted our two-fold names, "Ippolito
And Dianora," and the bells broke out,
And with the bells the sun and all the air
Seemed full of interlaced and tangled sounds.
Cries and glad pealings and our blended names
On one side ; on the other stormy words,
Reproach and curses.
Then the Podesta
And many great lords came, and all passed in,
And up the stairs and filled the palace full,
And high and low joined in an equal plea
That the long feud be stanched, and as a pledge
Of lasting peace we two be wedded straight.
But still my father frowned and closed his ears,
And still my brothers fumbled at their swords :
But when Count Buondelmonti, aged and gray,
And shattered with the horror just escaped,
Suspense and heavy sickness, hurried in
And kissed my hands and knelt before my feet
And blessed me, the savior of his son,
While with redoubled zeal the Podesta
Urged, and the noble lords Heaven touched their hearts
They gave consent, and so the feud was healed,
And the next day my love and I were wed.
And twenty glad years came and fleetly sped.
Ah me! and then he sailed unto the wars,
And all the years that have gone by since then
Are as sad night-shades steeped in deadly dews.
Death has been busy with us, as thou knowest.
Thou art the youngest of my six fair sons,
Thou art the only one to close my eyes.
If I shall wake in Paradise one day
And find him safe, safely still my own,
And see his eyes with the old steadfast loolc,
Why that will be enough, that will be Heaven"!
8a WERNER'S READINGS
PRESSED FOR TIME.
Comedy Monologue for a Man.
CHARLES DE SIVRY.
Translated expressly for this book by Lucy Hayes Macqueen.
CHARACTER : The Man Pressed for Time.
COSTUME : Society Frenchman.
SCENE : Room of a Society Man. Couches, chairs, table, etc.
One man supposed to be seated near table. Society Man stands
MY dear friend, I beg a thousand pardons, but I must leave
you at once I am very busy exceedingly pressed for
[Makes for the door, but fust at the door returns again to hi*
By the way, did I tell you something? No? Well, it's all the
general's fault. He was telling me about that everlasting old
campaign of his and I was pretending to listen not heeding one
word, you know, he was going on : "I massed my men with
a sharp turn, scattered the men of the 28th, everything was going
beautifully" just then my fiancee came toward us, and as I leaned
forward to make a pretty little speech to her, all the time pretend-
ing to be engrossed with the general, something twitched my cup
of chocolate out of my hand and all over the pale blue chiffon
gown of my cousin. I rushed from the room covered with shame,
the ridicule of all the people in the room, and chocolate. So,
that is why my engagement is broken off such an excellent
I am going to try to make up the misunderstanding to-day. The
ladies go every afternoon between two and three to that well-
known little confectioner's shop on the Boulevard to nibble maca-
AND RECITATIONS NO. 32. 83
roons and discuss their neighbors ; and I am going to meet them
there to-day and try to get in her good graces again.
[Consults his watch.]
It is now just ten minutes of three. I have not much time to
lose. Well, I'll say good-bye. Pardon me for being in such a
hurry, but you understand.
[He makes another attempt to leave, but returns just as he
reaches the door.]
By the way, did I tell you that the general is a very useful
friend to keep in with? If I get the embassy I am seeking, it will
be through his recommendation ; only for that I would not waste
my time listening to his old campaign yarns. Time is too pre-
cious. Besides [laughing], you know about that famous "sharp
turn" he is always talking about? Well, it is a matter of history
that he was beaten all to pieces by the enemy done up like hot
cakes oh, that reminds me speaking of cakes of the ladies
and the confectioner's shop.
Heavens ! I must be going. It is five minutes after three.
[Makes another attempt to leave, but returns as before.]
Oh, apropos of nothing in particular, have you heard the sad
news? Gaeton, my best friend, and yours, too, I believe, well,
his life is despaired of. He is terribly low, poor fellow. It came
about from a quarrel. He has broken with the little countess
all for nothing a mere trifle. They had a true love-affair this
time. It has lasted three months now. He is ill, in bed, fever
and the blues pulse, 450 beats per minute.
[Consults his watch.]
Too bad ! It is a quarter after three ! I have missed the ladies.
Well, never mind, I'll see them at the opera this evening "Aux
Italiens" they never miss it. And now I'll just run over and see
the minister of foreign affairs about my embassy. I'll just be in
time, for the general leaves every day at half-past three ; but I
must hurry, so good-bye.
[Rushes to a window and hails an imaginary cab.]
84 WERNER'S READINGS
Coachman ! Coachman ! Oh, it is taken. Well, never mind.
I'll walk fast. Good-bye, again.
[Makes another attempt to leave, but returns again.}
Poor Gae'ton, who is ill with the fever, I promised him that
I would stop at the countess's and tell her what a state he is in
his despair, his sorrow, his penitence. I think she will listen to
me she must listen to me. I will speak eloquently, like this :
[Addressing an imaginary countess:}
"Madam, if you only saw him this morning as I saw him, you
would be all pity for his miserable state. Madam, it is his life
that I beg from you his life ! He said to me : 'If you are not
back here at four o'clock precisely with good news from the
countess, then I shall know that she wants no more to do with me,
and I shall immediately, precisely at five minutes past four, blow
out my brains.' And you know that he will keep his word."
[Addressing the imaginary friend.}
He really will, too. He's a hot-headed fellow. He is such a
serious fellow, too, withal, he could have made his fortune as a
lyric poet ! I shall carry his pardon to him in a paper a little
violet scented note.
[Running to the window and frantically hailing another cab.}
Coachman ! Coachman ! Why is it that every cab in Paris is
engaged this afternoon?
It's no use. The general is gone now. It is half-past three !
Where can I find him ? What an unfortunate day it has been for
me ! He was waiting for me, too, and he will be furious at my
disappointing him. He has left in a rage, by this time. Heavens !
I wish I knew where I could find him ! And it is all your fault !
You detain me here talking and gossiping when you know I have
important business to attend to. Oh, I do not blame you. When
people are talking time flies so quickly one does not notice. But
I must run now. I shall go to the countess's house the little
countess for I must save my friend's life. He distinctly told
me that if I am not back with him at four o'clock, he will blow out
AND RECITATIONS NO. 32. 85
his brains at five minutes after four. He will do it, too. Oh, the
women ! Good evening.
[Makes another attempt to leave, but returns again.}
[Quickly.] I will go now to the countess's house and will tell
her in two words what I have told you.
Then, I'll whisper in her ear to make my excuses to the general,
her husband, and I'll ask her to try to get him to sign the papers
for me. So you see, I'll kill two birds with one stone. After-
ward, I'll run to poor Gae'ton with the good news for I shall
carry nothing but good news. As a diplomat, you can depend
And they say that the world thinks that society men have all
their time unoccupied! What injustice! They think we are lazy.
Well, now, at last, everything will come around all right ! This
evening at "Aux Italiens" I shall have patched up my engage-
ment, received pardon from the general, and saved the life of my
Great Heavens ! It is five minutes after four o'clock !
He is dead!
BETTY BOTTER'S BATTER.)
BETTY BOTTER bought some butter,
"But," she said, "this butter's bitter.
If I put it in my batter,
It will make the batter bitter,
But a bit of better butter
Will make my batter better."
So she bought a bit of butter
Better than the bitter butter
And made her bitter batter better.
So 'twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.
86 WERNER'S READINGS
TAKEN BY SURPRISE.
Comedy and Dramatic Monologue for a Woman.
METTA VICTORIA VICTOR.
Arranged as monologue and directions given expressly for this book.
CHARACTERS : Miss GUMBIDGE, Boarding-House Mistress,
Speaker present; DORA, and several Gentlemen supposed to be
COSTUME : Gray wig, red flannel nightcap, red flannel night-
gown, old dark petticoat showing beneath nightgown, teeth all
out (may be made to look so by blacking each tooth with shoe-
maker's wax). Skin made-up to look wrinkled and old.
SCENE: Hall-way (L. side of stage). Room where fire is sup-
posed to be is at R. of stage. Miss Gumbidge stands facing en-
trance to the room. She jumps about a good deal and calls at
top of lungs.]
DORA ! Dora ! Dora ! wake up, wake up, I say ! Don't you
smell something burning? Wake up, child! Don't you
smell fire ? Goodness, so do I ! I thought I wasn't mistaken. The
room's full of smoke. Oh, dear ! what shall we do ? Don't stop
to put on your petticoat. We'll all be burned to death. Fire !
fire ! fire !
[Turns quickly and looks toward stage front where MR. LITTLE
is supposed to be standing.]
Yes, there is ! I don't know where ! It's all over, our room's
all ablaze, and Dora won't come out till she gets her dress on.
Mr. Little, you shan't go in I'll hold you you'll be killed just
to save that chit of a girl, when I I He's gone rushed right
into the flames !
[Seems exhausted after her effort to hold MR. LITTLE from
going into her room.]
AND RECITATIONS NO. 32. 87
Oh, my house, my furniture, all my earnings ! Can't anything
be done ? Fire ! fire ! fire !
[Another boarder seems to have entered and stands just where
MR. LITTLE stood.]
Call the fire-engines ! Ring the dinner-bell ! Be quiet ? How
can I be quiet? Yes, it's all in flames; I saw them myself!
Where's my silver spoons? Oh, where's my teeth, and my silver
soup-ladle ? Let me be ! I'm going out into the street before it's
too late !
[Miss GUMBIDGE suddenly makes for stage front as if about
to leave, then acts as if stopped by some one.]
Oh, Mr. Grayson, have you got water? Have you found the
place? Are they bringing water?
[Drops into chair near stage front C.]
Did you say the fire was out? Was that you that spoke, Mr.
Little? I thought you were burned up, sure. And there's Dora,
too. How did they get out? My clothes-closet was on fire, and
the room, too ! We would have been smothered in five minutes
more if we hadn't waked up ! But it's all out now, and no damage
done but my dresses destroyed and the carpet spoiled. Thank
the Lord, if that's the worst ! But it ain't the worst ! Dora, come
along this minute to my room. Don't you see don't you see I'm
in my night-clothes ? I never thought of it before. I'm ruined,
ruined completely ! Gentlemen, get out of the way as quickly as
[Rushes wildly into her room dragging DORA with her.]
Dora, shut the door.
[Miss GUMBIDGE rushes to dresser at stage R. and gazes at
Hand me that candle I want to look at myself in the glass.
To think that all those gentlemen should have seen me in this
fix! I'd rather have perished in the flames. It's the very first
night I've worn these flannel nightcaps, and to be seen in 'em.
Good gracious, how old I do look! Not a spear of hair on my
head, scarcely, and this red nightgown and old petticoat on, and
my teeth in the tumbler and the paint all washed off my face, and
88 WERNER'S READINGS
scared besides ! It's no use ! 1 never, never again can make any of
those men believe that I'm only twenty-five; and I felt so sure of
some of them. They say that new boarder is a drawing-master.
I know he'll caricature me for the amusement of the young men.
Only think how my portrait would look taken to-night ! and he'll
have it, I'm sure, for I noticed him looking at me, the first thing
that reminded me of my situation after the fire was put out. Well,
there's but one thing to be done, and that's to put a bold face on
it. I'll pretend to something I don't know just what to get
myself out of this scrape, if I can.
[Exit from room and stage.]
STAGE-SETTING: Dining-room with table down stage C, chairs