Helen Campbell.

The American girl's home book of work and play online

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in the prevailing style, stand as if just meeting. They wear
jaunty hats and gloves, and carry parasols. Both are laugh-
ing, and pointing to a third little girl, who stands near them,
hiding her face, as if ashamed. Her dress is poor, calico
sunbonnet, coarse boots ; and upon a dress of some very
light material is a large, square patch of dark stuff.

WORK. A very pretty tableau can be made for this scene
by representing several trades, each at a small bench or
table, the blacksmith hammering a horseshoe, the dairy-
maid making butter, the cobbler mending a shoe, the mil-
liner trimming a bonnet, the carpenter planing a board, the
cook plucking a fowl. In short, as many figures as the size
of the stage will admit, all busy at some work. The cos-
tumes can be picturesque.

PATCHWORK. The scene, a farm-kitchen, with several


figures. Centre of background is the mother rocking q
baby; over the cradle is a patchwork quilt. The grand-
mother, right of foreground, is sewing upon a piece of patch-
work ; and at her feet a very little girl is putting two patches
together, with a very big needle, very long stitches, and a
face puckered up, as if very intent upon the work.


is a good word for tableau.

DRAM. Scene, a poorly furnished room. Centre of
scene, a man poorly dressed stands facing audience. In one
hand he holds a glass with a little liquor in it ; in the other
he holds an empty bottle over the glass, as if draining the
last drop. A pale, haggard face, and eyes very eagerly
fixed upon the glass, are most effective.

ATTIC. If a sloping roof can be managed, and an attic
window in the background, it will add to the effect of the
scene. Centre of stage, a table, with candle stuck in porter-
bottle, and a few loose sheets of manuscript upon it. Facing
audience, a young man, carelessly dressed, his hair very
much rumpled, his hand clinched in the hair; is a poet.
His legs are stretched each side of the table ; and, while
he ruffles his hair with his left hand, with his right he is
writing furiously. The wilder the expression, the better.

DRAMATIC. The scene is a parlor, where a party for
private theatricals have just assembled. Every variety of
costume and attitude will be admitted, according to the
extent of the manager's wardrobe. Mary Queen of Scots
may be tying the cravat of Lord Dundreary ; Cardinal
Richelieu saying soft nothings to a pretty waiting-maid ;
Romeo can dance a hornpipe with Othello ; and Juliet
arrange the overskirt of Lady Teazle.



CHILD. Centre of background a haystack, and behind
this a boy and girl peeping out. Centre of foreground,
facing audience, a very little child in a pretty country dress,
looking half frightened, as if missing her companions.

HOOD. A very young pretty girl, in a very light, tasteful
ball-dress, with her hair most elaborately ornamented with
graceful flowers, looking with horror, and hands outstretched
to push it away, at a large quilted, old-fashioned hood held
out by an old woman in a picturesque dress and cap.

CHILDHOOD. A nursery-scene, with several children, effec-
tively grouped, in various occupations suited to childhood.
Two are seated, looking at a picture-book held between them ;
two more arrange a doll's tea-table ; two more dress dolls ;
two compare tops or balls. In short, the scene can be
arranged in any pretty grouping.

The boys should wear gay stockings and shirt-waists ; the
girls, white, with broad sashes of gay-colored ribbon.


Like the charades, these are to represent in scenes some
popular proverbs, one scene for each, and must be guessed
by the audience.


The scene is a boudoir, with two young ladies, in hand-
some walking-dresses, standing centre of foreground. Upon
a chair, left of foreground, is a handsome dress, with a long
ragged tear conspicuous upon it. A strip of black cambric
with torn edges basted down is a perfect imitation of such
a tear.

One of the young ladies is holding up the overskirt of her


dress, and sewing a very tiny rent ; while the other points to
the torn dress on the chair, as if quoting the proverb.


Two tables are standing over each side of foreground. At
one is seated a dandy in the most elaborate costume, who
holds the wing of a tiny bird upon a fork, and looks at it
with an expression of perfect disgust. Upon the table are
a very few dainty trifles of food, choice fruit, a bottle of
champagne, and several kinds of sauce.

At the other table a man, in the dress of a farmer, has
a huge dish of pork and beans before him, and is lifting an
enormous mouthful upon his knife to his widely opened
mouth, with an eager, hungry expression.

Centre of background is a colored waiter, with a napkin
over his arm, as if in attendance upon the others.

The few specimens given will show clearly how the
charades and proverbs can be made effective and amusing ;
and a few words that will divide well for charades, and some
easily-posed proverbs, are given below for the benefit of
the stage-manager.


Band-age. Crib-b-age.

Book-worm. Purse-proud.

Hand-some (sum). Broom-stick.

Peni-tent. In-fan-cy (sea).

Watch-man. Horn-pipe.

Mad-cap. Bride-cake.


Money makes the mare go.
Fine feathers make fine birds.


It's an ill wind that blows nobody good.
Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

When the cat's away, the mice will play.

Charity begins at home.

Killing two birds with one stone.

Out of the frying-pan into the fire.

The more, the merrier ; the fewer, the better fare.

It never rains but it pours.


A room with folding-doors is of course best for a stage ;
but, wanting this, an iron rod suspended across the end of
the room, on which a pair of curtains can be hung, will
answer the purpose. Impromptu charades are always the
funniest, but there are some written ones given for those
who are too nervous to speak their own words. The follow-
ing list of words would be good ones to act :


RING. Might turn on the loss of this ornament, and
the suspicion of theft against one of the servants, who is
consequently discharged.

LET. Might be a house to let, where the discharged ser-
vant has found a situation. The old master and mistress
take the apartments, and on unpacking the portmanteau the
long-lost ring is found at the bottom of it. Of course due
reparation is made to the suspected servant, and she is taken
back to her old service at increased wages. Making the part
of the servant Irish would increase the fun, if an actress
could be found to speak with a good brogue.

RINGLET. If the plot is still carried on, there might


be a party at the same people's house. The daughter is
engaged to be married ; the gentleman is seated near her ;
she suddenly becomes uneasy ; he questions her, but she
declares there is nothing the matter ; suddenly a little girl,
a younger sister, one of the enfant terrible kind, who has
been very mischievous all the time, jumps up from under
the table, holding aloft a false ringlet, the loss of which had
caused the poor young lady's distress. General astonish-
ment of the guests, and discomfiture of the young lady,
would close this last syllable.


If the sound of the syllables may be taken, and the spell-
ing be not considered, this is a very good word.

PET. Must be a spoilt child, out of which much fun
could be got.

TIE. This was once amusingly rendered by the trick of
tying two persons together by the wrists, who did not know
the secret by which to disentangle themselves. A quarrel-
some man and wife would afford the most amusement,
some waggish friend tying them together ; or, of course, the
scene might turn on a gentleman's tie.

COAT. A mistake involving some difficulty through an
exchange of coats. Stolen goods found in the pocket, or
a love-letter, or a lost will, would do, any thing by which a
commotion may be created.

PETTICOAT. May be represented very funnily by a gen-
tleman getting his wrong luggage, and finding this article of
female attire in the shape of a crinoline ; or by the well-
known concealment of stolen goods under its shelter, and
arrest by the policeman.



POST. Some children might be discovered playing the
game of "post," and some amusing interruption arrives, a
letter by the last delivery, announcing some startling event ;
of some rich old uncle whom they were anxious to please,
coming in to put a stop to the noise. A mischievous youth
might play him some trick in revenge for disturbing the

MAN. A lady in pursuit of a man-servant, several com-
ing with extraordinary manners, of different kinds, Irish,
Scotch, French. The part might be intrusted to one actor
to take the several assumptions, which a good amateur actor
would greatly enjoy.

POSTMAN. Valentine's Day. The perpetual postman's
knock, causing continual irritation to a warm-tempered old
gentleman, would afford plenty of amusement, and scope for


POST. An anxiety for a letter, the post anxiously waited
for ; or a very deaf man, " deaf as a post" Either might
be worked into a good scene.

CHAISE. It breaks down ; adventures of the party who
had occupied it, whilst waiting for repairs.

POST-CHAISE. A runaway couple are discovered by
means of the post-chaise, some portion of their luggage
being left in it.


BOOK. This word would admit of a variety of render-
ings, a betting-book, a book lost, an album (in which some
one might be asked to write a verse), a photograph-book, a


crest-book, or booking a place in the coach, or a parcel for
the train.

CASE. Might be a physician's case, some one taken
very ill, and the doctor sent for ; or a case of jewels lost ; or
picture-case; or a piteous tale of distress, a sad case, all
subjects which would suggest dramatic situations. Then

BOOKCASE. Some great discovery from the shelves of a
bookcase ; or concealed behind ; or an instance of somnam-
bulism, where the sleep-walker is found taking a book, or
placing something behind those on the shelves. This might
all be connected in one story, which is, I think, the most
entertaining way of acting charades.


WED. The return from church of a bride and bridegroom,
subsequent arrival of the guests, bridesmaids, etc. Amuse-
ment might be got from a stupid servant, or the mistakes of
the green-grocer, who is brought in to wait.

LOCK. The bride has become unreasonably jealous, and
is driven at length to the terrible expedient of opening her
husband's desk. She breaks the lock ; sends in alarm for
a locksmith to repair it ; at the moment, her husband, whom
she thought was abroad, returns. Scene of- vindication and

WEDLOCK. Discomfort and suspicion still prevail ; the
husband is angry, and the wife impudent. An old bachelor
friend comes to stay on a visit, with some intention of marry-
ing a sister of the bride ; but the state of affairs causes a
change in his opinion, and he decides that a bachelor life is

better than wedlock.


Miss. Here, again, sound must be followed, and miss be
the word, which could be acted in a variety of ways, a


young lady on her preferment, an old maid pretending to be
young, a loss or " miss " of the train.

CHIEF. An Indian chief, or head of some public office.
An amusing scene with the former might be made by the
true story of the Indian's anger at having his portrait
painted, under the impression that through some necro-
mancy they were taking off his face, and putting it on the
paper. Or, taking the chief man in some department, a
scene with a clerk giving reasons for his being late at the
office, having "sat up all night with a poor sick friend,"
might be made very funny.

MISCHIEF. This could have endless variety, mischief
made between friends or lovers, amongst servants, in a
school, or a child forever in mischief, letting pet birds out
of cages, sewing people's dresses together : any thing, in
short, which will make a mischievous situation, and end with
some denotement, which is always necessary to consider in
the last syllable of the charades.


WARD. The trials of a guardian with a pretty, gay young
ward who is confided to his care, who upsets his bachelor
home, and worries him to death, and whom he finally decides
to send to the other guardian named in the will, imagining
him to be an old married man.

ROBE. He turns out a young student in chambers ; and
some fun might be got by this mistake ; the guardian, send-
ing her there to await his arrival, thinking the wife would
of course receive her; and she, weary of waiting, might
amuse herself by dressing up in his academical cap and

WARDROBE. The young lady of such mischievous ten-
dencies might finally be sent to some old maiden lady, and


for the fun of frightening her, one day conceal herself in an
empty wardrobe. The old lady rings violently for her maid
to inquire what has become of her, who, having been in-
structed not to tell, will give no information. At this
moment a dealer arrives to purchase the wardrobe, and locks
the doors to see if they work properly, when a violent shak-
ing and knocking take place, which causes such great alarm
that the dealer rushes out, determined to have nothing to
do with such an "uncanny" piece of furniture. The maid
is then, of course, obliged to reveal her mistress's hiding-
place ; and the indignant old lady releases the girl, and
threatens to return her to her guardian.


WOOD. Some young people are lost in the mazes of a
wood, who had bragged about knowing their way so well,
making good, they might say, the old adage, " Don't cry till
you are out of the wood." Or the " Babes in the Wood "
might be enacted ; the scene where the wicked uncle sends
them away to be killed, or where they lie down to sleep in
each other's arms. For the robins you must request the
audience to draw on their imagination.

STOCK. Taking stock in a shop would make a busy,
bustling scene ; or an absent old gentleman going to a
dinner-party with his white stock in his pocket, and his
pocket-handkerchief round his neck.

WOODSTOCK. A tableau from the novel.


MORTAL. An illiterate man comes to a stone-mason to
have an epitaph engraved, and insists on spelling " Here lie
the (mortel) mortal remains." The stone-mason proudly
assures him he was at school for years, and it is really


spelled mortle. The discussion, and final determination to
omit the word altogether, or submit the matter to another
authority, might be made very funny.

I. Exceedingly egotistical person, boring every one with
the everlasting "/say this," or "/do that," and one of the
party making fun of him without his perceiving it.

TY (tie). A wedding breakfast. Speeches are made, and
the "tie" which has that morning united two happy beings
might be touchingly alluded to and dwelt on in one of the
speeches : the clergyman might be the spokesman, and say
how difficult the knots which he ties are to undo.

MORTALITY. Might be a picture from the novel of " Old
Mortality." Many words might be found, perhaps, to end
in this manner which would be a novelty.


HELP. A poor family receiving great and unexpected

MATE. The mate of a ship, come home to see his friends,
recklessly spending his money, and giving a supper-party.

HELPMATE. Either a good or bad one may be repre-
sented, the devotion, through many trials, of a good wife,
or the misery entailed on a family where the wife is not a
good helpmate.


INN. A busy hostelry, with the arrival of guests, etc.

CAUTIOUS. The landlord, priding himself on his caution,
gets deceived by some sharpers ; much railed at by his wife
in consequence, who in

INCAUTIOUS By some incautious act makes a similar


These few hints may be very much amplified in the acting,
which can be made as long or short as is required. When
they are impromptu, the dresses on the spur of the moment,
too, add greatly to the fun. Table-covers or colored blankets
make admirable dresses for Indian chiefs. Large wrappers;
such as gentlemen wear about their throats, make excellent
turbans. Ladies' shawls serve for trains ; and, with some
white aprons and nurses' caps, the theatrical wardrobe is
soon made up.

Illustrated poems are on the same principle as ballads in
action, save that in the former each scene is a tableau.
Kingsley's "Three Fishers" has been given in this way; a
deep contralto voice behind the scenes singing the ballad.
Bishop Doane's "The Sculptor-Boy," Tennyson's "King
Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid," Whittier's " Maud Muller,"
and many others, will suggest themselves at once.




Then will it not be just as well
The truth our little ones to tell,
To let the darling children see
Just what and where the fairies be,
And where the giants really grow ?
For by this time most people know
That fairy-tales and " Mother Goose "
Were written for a higher use
Than singing restless babes to sleep,
Or making timid children weep,
Or turning boys, for many an hour,
To lambs, just by their magic power.


And though these potent uses I

Would by no means pass lightly by,

Still it has always seemed to me

The children should be taught to see

That by the fairy, giant, sprite,

Or demon, who in sin delight,

Is meant some evil of their own,

A vice which in their hearts has grown,

Which if they cherish and caress

Will fill their souls with ugliness ;

That, when a bad thought in them dies,

A good one in its place will rise ;

And nothing can good fairies be,

But truth, love, honor, industry.

Teach them their actions, words, and looks

Write every day new story-books ;

That 'tis for them to say if sin,

The tallest giant, shall creep in,

Or if with fairies pure and bright

They keep their pages clean and white.

Ah ! never was a book yet writ

By heart or life, without a bit

Of strife 'twixt good and evil powers

For mastery o'er us and ours.

That blessed genii only may your lives attend,

Will ever be the wish, dear children, of your friend

j. M. F.


The words of Fairy Queen in first scene may be spoken or sung, as is most convenient. In
the third scene, if it is impracticable for the real giant to fall, a dummy can easily be made to pet
senate him, to be thrown down the bean-stalk. All of the " Mother Goose " melodies introduced
should be sung if possible; and any pretty chorus, like " Annie Lee " or " Beautiful Bells," should
be sung while Jack awakens from his dream.

SCENE I. Dilapidated and wretched. Enter MOTHER.

MOTHER. Ah, where is Jack, my lazy Jack? He spends the live-
long day,
While I am starving here at home, in idleness and play.


Tis hours since I have tasted food even a bit of bread.
O Jack, if you would only work ! I wish that I were dead !

(Enter JACK.)

JACK. Ho, mother, I'm so hungry ! Can we have our supper now f

MOTHER. There's nothing but a little milk from good old mooly cow.
O Jack ! unless you do some work, we both of us will die.
You are an idle, useless boy ! Oh, pray, my child, do try !
For if you don't do something^ Jack, you'll come to grief and harm ;
And Mr. Brown will pay you well to help him on his farm.
O child ! if you would only look down in your heart, and see
The hideous giant living there who brings this misery,
The ugly monster Idleness, yes, Jack, that is his name,
You would not dare to raise your head : you'd die for very shame.

JACK. Well, mother. But I mean to work oh, yes, indeed ! some


But now I'm but a little chap, and little chaps should play.
You can't expect a boy like me would pitch right in and work.
Just wait till I grow up : you'll see there's nothing I will shirk.

MOTHER. You're not a little boy now, Jack : you are almost a man ;
And you could earn enough if you would do the best you can.
But that old serpent Idleness in you has grown so strong,
He makes you think you're doing right when you are doing wrong.
If you don't kill him pretty soon, then, Jack, he will kill you,
For we have not a bit to eat. Oh, dear ! what shall we do ?

JACK. I think we'd better sell the cow, she don't do us much good;
And with the money we shall get we'll buy oh, lots of food'!
We'll have a jolly lay-out then, caramels full of cream,
Mince-pies and cheese, and taffy too. Golly ! how good 'twill seem !

MOTHER. Oh, stop your foolish nonsense, Jack ! I tell you, every


That mooly brings, for bread and meat will all have to be spent.
Oh, how it grieves me thus to part with our dear, good old cow !
And Jack, if you would only work, we should not have to now.

TACK. There, mother, don't cry any more. I'll make a first-rate trade ;
And we'll have lots of money then : so don't you be afraid.
We'll live like lords and ladies, yes, till both of us grow old,
And every thing we use shall be of silver or of gold.

MOTHER. Well, then, Jack, I suppose we must ; and I so will go now
And take a last, long lingering look at poor old black-tailed cow.



JACK (dances and sings). High diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle;
the cow she is going soon, etc.

(Enter BUTCHER, watches JACK.)

BUTCHER. Waal, I declar ! I swaow you air the darnedst dancin' chap
I ever see ; jes like a monkey kickin' in a trap.
I guess you're jes a leetle cracked, an' I'll go hum again.

[Goes toward door.
JACK. Here we go up, up, up, and here we go down, down, downy

(spins about} ;

Here we go backward and forward, and here we go round, round, roundy.
BUTCHER. Waal, yes, that's jes abaout your style. You air a crazy


And, though you spin raound spry enough, I guess you ain't much use.
I reckon 'tis my wisest course to git out of his way ;
My time's too val'able to look at spinnin'-Jacks all day.
JACK (catches him, and makes him whirl about with him}. Oh, come

with me in my little canoe ;
I'll duck you, my love, in its waters blue.
BUTCHER (alarmed}. Great Scots ! He wants to kill me naow : he

says I shall be draowned.

He ha'n't no more respect for me than any old caow raound.
JACK (suddenly stands still, looks sharply at him}. A cow, a cow !

You want a cow ? Why, you're the very man.
She's white as milk, all but her tail : now beat that if you can !
Gives twenty quarts of milk a day, and never eats a thing (gesticulates


To any one who owns that cow, she will a fortune bring.
BUTCHER (looks around}. You ha'n't got nothin', though, to spare.

Things looks waal, peckish, here.
I'll take the critter, though, unless she's too all-fired dear.

JACK. I'll fetch the milking-pail to hold the money: that will do.
So out with the spondulics, man, and count them quick, will you ?

BUTCHER. Oh, I ha'n't got no chink to give for any black-tailed caow;
But if yer was a mind to trade, think I mought suit yer now.
Money don't fetch us every thing no, sir, by a long chalk !
But, if yer'd like to trade a mite, we might begin ter talk.

JACK. But I must sell the cow for cash to buy us bread and mat:
We've not a mouthful, not a crust, left in our house to eat.


BUTCHER. Well, I ha'n't no loose cash ; but what I've got is worth

lots more

Than any di'monds blazin' raound in any juller's store.
Aii' if yer trade with me, now mind, I'm tellin' truth, young man,
They'll make yer fortune, if yer use them as yer ought and can.
JACK. Trot out your stuff, then; let us see what all this talking


BUTCHER (takes handful of beans from his pocket, and shows them}.
The pootiest things yer ever see ! just thirty smooth white beans,
All polished up, like marble is, and hard and raound and clean.
If yer don't swop 'em for the caow, I'll say yer all-fired green.
JACK (looks at beans, and then at BUTCHER in silence}. Well, I don't

know so very much, 'cause I wouldn't go to school :
But I know what a swindler is. D'ye take me for a fool ?
Get out of here, and take your trash quick too, or you will feel

Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 8 of 28)