Sylvan Drey.

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preserve a fine body of police, for none will ever be mangled or
injured." He then asked her what was the difierence between a night
policeman and a somnambulist. To this she replied: "A somnambu-
list walks when he should be in bed, a night policeman is in bed when
he should be walking."

Mr. Green. I — I gu — guess hungry of— fice — see — seekers are not —
not very fo — fond of such com — competitors.

Dr. Brosius. I should say not. [Taking up a newspaper and glan-
cing casually over its columns.]

Mr. Green [looking at the large placard near the centre door] . I —
I — say, doc — doctor, that's a ve — very for — formidable pla — placard
you — der. [Putting on his eye-glasses and reading.] "Spe — special
atten — tion giv — given to the con — contracting of mort — gage loans,
mar — riages and other in — in — cumbrances. Hus — husbands pro —
cured at the short — shortest possi — ble no — notice. No ex — extra
charges for — for women ad— advanced in years. Di — vorces pro — cured
at fif — fifty per cent, be — below the regu — lar char — charges ; all busi —
siness strictly con — fidential and se — secretly con — conducted."

Dr. Brosius. This is what she calls transacting business secretly.
Listen to this advertisement in the Boston Herald : Wanted ! — By a
widow who has had ample experience in married life^ a husband with
thirty to fifty thousand dollars capital. No objection to one having over
that amount. Must be a man of strictly temperate habits. No widowers
need apply. Address M.T.^l\Court street. [Looks at Mr. Green.] Green,
there is nothing like the noble gift of prophecy in social matters. John
Stuart Mill long ago contended that marriage was nothing more than a
partnership, and that the day was not far off when it would be so recog-
nized by the world. Who would have dreamt that Mill's prophecy
would have been verified in the columns of a newspaper ? [He sits
down on the chair behind the desk.]

Mr. Green. We — well, doctor, I — I have some busi — siness with —
with Mr. Sheep — head. Won't you — you join us? {Walks towards the
right door.]

Dr. Brosius [taking a pe7i'holder in his hand.] No, thank you, I
must write a note to Miss Talker, then I'll return to the oftice.

Mr. Green. You'll ex — excuse me, doc — doctor.

Dr. Brosius. Certainly. [Exit Mr. Green, right door.]

Dr. Brosius. Confound that fellow ! he's as stupid as a new-born
ape. Let me see [meditating]. What shall I write? [He writes, and
reads as he writes.]

Miss Talker : Please attend to that collection forme as soon as pos-
sible, as I hear the ungrateful wretch whose lite I have saved intends to
abscond and defraud his creditors, doctors not excepted. Before I imder-



20

take to effect any more cures, I shall certainly follow your advice and
apply at the Mercantile Agency to ascertain the pecuniary standing
of my patients. Yours, etc., Dr. Brosius.

[to 1st Clerk.] Give this note to Miss Talker when she returns.

1st Clerk. Yes, sir. [He places the note on the desk.]

[Exit Dr. Brosius, left door.]

2d Clerk. Mag, that student's a queer-looking chap, isn't he?

1st Clerk. Yes, he's entirely too aesthetic.. He reminds one of Oscar
Wilde.

Enter MiSS Talker. [She sits at her desk and begins to unfold the
note lying on the table,]

Mr. Sheephead [speaking in a loud voice in the waiting-room so
that he is heard without]. Yes, my boy, I tell you twenty years
experience in the law has given [eutering with Mr. Green and continu'
ing to speak in a bold, boastful manner] me the dash to cope with the
fiercest enemy ; it has armed me with a panoply of audacious boldness
impenetrable to the shafts and arrows even ola woman's tongue. I
fear nothing xxwAqv— [suddenly perceiving Miss Talker, he is startled
and trembUs from head to foot]. [Aside] — Shades of Blackstone ! it's
the identical woman. She's remarkably handsome without those blue
goggles. [To Miss Talker, in a tremulous voice] — Good morning. You
are Miss Talker, I believe ? Perhaps you remember me. Madam. My
name is Sheephead. This is Mr. Green. [Mr. Green and Miss Talker
bow.]

Miss Talker. Oh ! I see, you are the attorney for Mr. Green in the
case of Green versus Morose.

Mr. Sheephead [taking a seat ; Mr. Green doing the same. Mr. Sheep-
head gathers courage]. Exactly so. You see. Miss Talker, your case
is quite hopeless. I came here with Mr. Green for the purpose of
coming to some amicable settlement. We have entered suit for $20,000
damages; we'll compromise on $15,000. Terms: One-third, cash ; the
balance in six and twelve months.

Miss Talker [in a loud voice and a threatening manner]. Amicable
settlement ! compromise, sir ! This unheard-of audacity !

Mr. Sheephead [to Mr. Green]. I told you so, the explosion's
coming.

Miss Talker. Don't speak of compromises to me, sir. Female
attorneys always have their eyes open —

Mr. Sheephead. And their mouths too.

Miss Talker. Have I not plainly demonstrated in the cases of
Broivn \. Black, Smithy. Wicks, and Snow v. Jones, that there neither
is, was, nor ever will be such a thing as compromising with a woman.
The days for swindling clients are past. Justice is no longer to be
trampled upon.

Mr. Sheephead. But, my dear madam, you, who have acquired such
a vast amount of legal knowledge, must certainly know that the law in
this controversy is decidedly in my favor. There is one unbroken chain
of decisions which establishes, beyond all doubt, that when a man makes
a promise to marry a woman and subsequently breaks the promise, he
thereby renders himself liable to an action for damages. This canon
of law rests on the equitable doctrine that when a woman strains every
nerve to secm-e a husband and a young man induces her, by a promise
of marriage, to be lax in her further etibrts to accomplish this end, he
he has thereby ruined her matrimonial prospects and is justly respon-



21

sible. Now, by the passage of the Woman's Rights Bill, woman has
been placed in all respects on an equality with man, and since it is
rapidly becoming the fashion for young ladies to visit the opposite sex,
it follows that the same rule of liability applies to females who violate
their contractual obligations as to males. Your client, therefore, must
marry Mr. Green, or pay the $15,000.

Miss Talker [eying the speaker contemptuo^isly]. If I thought that I
were really compelled to choose between those alternatives, the dictates
of my conscience would force me to advise my client to pay the
$15,000.

Mr. Sheephead \to Mr. Green]. That's hard on you, my boy.

Miss Talker [in an excited manner and loud voice]. But. my dear sir,
in arriving at such a conclusion you only parade your ignorance of the
law. You can't hoodwink me, sir. All the authorities sustain the
position which I propose to take. [Speaking very rapidly] — " Marriage
is a civil contract." Bishojj on Marriage ; 20 Maryland., 300 ; 40 New
York, 400 ; 70 Ohio, 700 ; 50 Illinois, 500. '' The plaintiti" cannot
recover damages on the breach of such a contract when he himself is
guilty of wilfully making false representations of his social rank and
financial standing." Browning on Husband and Wife; 1 Massachusetts,
10 ; 2 Maryland, 20 ; 3 Iowa, 30 ; 4 New York, 40 ; 5 Ohio, 50.
[Speaking less rapidly] — On these high authorities I rest my case, and
when I quote from these adjudications you will find to your dismay and
horror that you are nothing but a pettifogulizing idiot.

Mr. Sheephead [almost crying loith rage]. Idiot! madam? Recol-
lect that you are calling a member of your profession an idiot. My
moral constitution can withstand any amount of aggression ; physically
I am firm as a rock, but when a woman calls me a pettifogulizing idiot,
it rouses all the resentment of my nature.

Miss Talker. I assure you, sir, I am entirely unconcerned whether
it rouses your anger or not. My office is no court-room ; the proper
place to discuss this matter is in court, and there's where I propose to
discuss it. The speech which I shall deliver before the jm-y will bring
the blush of shame to that young man's cheek [meaiiing Mr. Green],
It will surpass all my previous efforts, not only in length, but also in
breadth. I will make both you and him repent the day that you
ignominiously sought to besmirch the character of an innocent, inex-
perienced young girl.

Mr. Sheephead [he whispers a few seconds to Mr. Green; then straight'
ening up, in order to appear brave, he speaks timidly at first, but
gradually gathers courage, speaking louder and louder and louder]. I
have consulted my client, and he authorizes me to say that your
scurrilous and abusive language renders it entirely incompatible with
his dignity to think of compromising this case. All women have a
natural aptitude for quarreling, but God save me from such a misfor-
tune as a professional wife ! I have not the slightest delicacy in pro-
nouncing you to be an inhuman tyrant, a heartless brute, insusceptible
to all expressions of love ; a woman without the least consideration
for the wounded feelings of a poor innocent and inexperienced man.
You shall pay for your slanderous words at the temple of justice. I
warn you in advance that I have been a married man too long, to be
intimidated by the threats of female tyrants. I mean to protect the
rights of a persecuted young man. I mean to defend outraged justice.
I mean to show your hard-hearted girls that they cannot trifie with the



22

fine sensibilities of that most delicately constructed organ, the male
heart. With the inexhaustil)le fertility of my brain, with the deepest sym-
patliy of my soul, with the labor of these arms, I shall toil, toil, toil until
I succeed in teaching your fair damsels what the true essence of love is.
With all the vehemence at my command, I shall denounce your societ}' ,
belles, who only ring when the silver jingles. Before the jury I shall
lay bare the foul tricks of which my client has been the victim — not in
the rhetorical flourishes of well-rounded sentences, but in plain unvar-
nished language. You may speak the longest, but I will hollow the
loudest. [As loud as possible] — The long bray of the ass shall be
drowned under the loud roar of the lion. [Cm-tain falls.]



ACT III.



Scene. — An apartment in Mrs. Morose' s house. Mrs. M. seated at a table.
Enter Dr. Brosius. [Centre door.]

Dr. Brosius. Good morning, madam. How are you this morning ?

Mr. Morose. Not at all well, doctor, not at all well. Family
troubles are fast breaking down my once robust constitution. Ah!
doctor, I fear my days are numbered.

Dr. Brosius. My dear madam, if the j^umber becomes as large in
the future as it has been in the past, I scarcely think there exists any
just cause for your immediate alarm. Still, to be on the safe side, I'll
write you a prescription.

M7-S. Morose. Oh ! never mind that, doctor. Your visit to-day is to
be strictly non-professional. I want you as a witness in the case of
Green v. Morose.

Dr. Brosius. Why, madam, you don't mean to tell me that you've
been sued ?

Mrs. Morose. Not exactly. My daughter May has become involved
in a legal difficulty with that empty-brained law student, Mr. Green.
He has sued her for breach of })romise to marry, and assesses the
damages at $20,000 [the doctor whistles]. An arrangement has been
made whereby the witnesses are to be privately examined in this
house by the counsel on bi)th sides. After all the testimony has been
taken, the opposing counsel will hold a consultation for the purpose of
making some amicable settlement. Miss Talker

Dr. Brosius. Is that your attorney ?

Mrs, Morose. Yes.

Dr. Brosius. Tjord help the poor man on the other side !

Mrs. Morose. Miss Talker is bitterly opposed to compi'omises, but it
is always best to avoida scandal, if it can be avoided without any loss
of money ; and after desperate efforts, I have at last persuaded her to
consent to this mode of settlement, if it is at all possible.

Dr, Bi-osiiis. Madam, in my opinion, a doctor should always hold
himself aloof from the contaminating influences of the law ; still, if I
can be of any service to you, in a legitimate way, I'll not be wanting.

Mrs, Morose. What I ask of you, doctor, is an easy task. [They
both walk towards the centre door.] I want you to testify to my
daughter's character.



23

Dr. Brosius. Well, then, you can depend upon my testimony.
Mrs. Morose. I'll inform you, doctor, when we are I'eady.

{Exit Mrs. Morose^ left door.'\

Enter Mr. Sheephead mid Mr. Green.

[Mr. S, is followed by three servants^ each of whom carries six or eight

law books.^^

Mr. Sheephead [speaking in a loud voice to Mr. Green as they enter] .
Have patience, my boy, have patience! We'll be sure to ensnare the
female tiger. Where there is law, there is hope. [To the servants] —
Place them here. [The servants put the books on the floor to the right
of the centre door, and then retire.] Ah ! doctor, are you here ?
[They shake hands.] [To Mr. Green] — Green, see if the witnesses
have come. [Exit Mr. Green.] You physicians ought to be getting
quite rich now that the scarlet fever has become an epidemic in this
vicinity.

Dr. Brosius. Well, probably we would be, if we conducted our busi-
ness on legal principles.

Mr. Sheephead. Quite the reverse, sir. If you conducted your
business legally, I suppose one-half of your profession would be in the
poor-house. Nothing pays so well, now-a-days, as medicine. My own
father, sir, was an experienced physician, and I distinctly recollect
having heard him say, on one occasion, that if he ever had four sons,
the first should be a physician, the second an apothecary, the third an
undertaker, and the fourth a lawyer. You will observe that they can
play right into each other's hands. The physician prescribes, the
apothecary kills, the undertaker makes the coffin, the lawyer denies
the validity of the dead man's will. But alas ! I was the only son he
ever had, and though it had been his wish that I should study medicine,
my strong love of justice, my utter aversion to money-making — traits
which early developed themselves in my character — induced him to
give way to my own predilections, and so — much to the honor of the
profes>ion — I became an attorney-at-law.

Dr. Brosius. I say, Sheephead, are you connected with this case of
Mr. Green's y

Mr. Sheephead. Certainly, doctor. I represent Mr. Green ; Miss
Mary Talker represents Miss Miiiy Morose.

Dr. Brosius. My dear Sheephead, my poor fellow ! I don't envy
you. I extend you my deepest sympathy. If you've taken this
case on a contingent fee, you might as well make up your mind to take
nothing and go. She is a most powerful speaker, a most logical
reasoner, and a most shrewd manipulator. I heard it sai<l that when
she begius to speak, the most beautiful, ornate and euphonious phrases
flow from her fountain of eloquence like an incessant rush of sparkhng
water from some stupendous falls.

Mr. Sheephead [dolefully]. Yes, I've had a taste of her eloquence
when I was in the Senate. [Placing his hand on Dr. B.'s shoulder and
speaking confidentially]— Do you kiiow, doctor, that Miss Talker is a
very handsome vvomau? I just made that discovery. You see, it
used to be one of the laws of the Massachusetts Woman's Rights
Association that every member must wear a pair of blue goggles.
The object of this was to ward oti' the impertinent gaze of male
admirers. When I first saw Miss Talker she had on a pair of those
abominable glasses, and it actually disfigured her. Since she has



24

begun the practice of law, however, she has ceased to wear them, and
I tell you in confidence, doctor, that slie has made a decided impression
upon me.

Dr. Brosius. What, Sheephead, you don't mean to tell me that you
are in love !

Mr. Sheepliead. Oh ! no, to be sure not ; only, sir, I have not been
able to sleep a wink since I've seen that woman's eyes as Natui-e made
them.

Dr. Brosius. I suppose you attribute your sleeplessness to indiges-
tion, nervousness, or the like.

Mr. Sheephead. Yes, exactly.

Enter Mr. Gbeen. [Right door.]

Mr. Green. Th — the wit — witnesses ar — are wa — waiting, Mr. — Mr.
Shee — Sheephead.

Mr. Shee2)head. Well, then, doctor, I must be oft'. [To Green] —
Green, I'll leave you to entertain the doctor, while I interrogate tlie
witnesses, and mind you now that nobody tampers with tliem as they
leave this house. [Exit Mr. Sheephead, right door.]

Mr. Green [despondently]. Doc — doc — tor, I — I'm tew — wibly out of
spiw — its to-day.

Dr. Brosius. You know what 1 do when I'm out of spirits ? I
always fill up the jug.

Mr. Green. Now, doc — doc — tor, to be sewi— ^ous, I — I wa — want you
to — to do me a fa — favor.

Dr. Brosius. I hope it has nothing to do with that lawsuit of yours.

Mr. Green. Yes — yes it — it has. I — I want you — you to testify
to my — my good cha — wacter.

Dr. Brosius. Well, Green, to be honest, I don't know whether I
could conscientiously so testify. Besides, I've been called as a witness
on the other side for the same purpose.

Mr. Green. We — well, doctor, there's no — no law pre — preventing
us both from — from hav — iug go — good cha— wacters.

Dr. Brosius. Yes, but I know you too long, Green. You've certainly
been a scamp in your day. However, a doctor's conscience is very elastic,
and if after mature deliberation I should come to tlie conclusion that
the stretch is not too great [they walht toward the centre door], I'll act
accordingly. Till then, au revoir.

Mr. Green. Au re — revoir.

[Exeunt Dr. B. and Mr. G. The former leaves by the centre door: the
latter by left door.]

Enter Miss Talker. [Centre door.]
[SJie is followed by threefemale servants, each of whom carries six to eight law books.]

Miss Talker. Place them on the floor. [The servants put them on
the floor to the left of the centre door, and then retire.]

Miss Talker [angrily]. How strange it is that my baser instincts
always suppress my nobler emotions ! My angry passions had almost
smothered the tender affections which the first sight of Mr, Slieephead
awakened in my breast ; but now that the din and noise of our recent
battles have subsided, the holy passion revives again. But, who shall
say that Mary Talker, the President of the Massachusetts Woman's
Rights Association, retained so much of her woman I3' nature in these
civilized times as to be still able to love V Women must have more



25

head and less heart. Shall I be made the dupe of a male attorney who
abused me as this man has done ? Never shall it be said that m}' pride
was bent by tender feelings for this attorney. [Meditating] — Besides,
I had almost forgotten that Mr. Sheephead is a married man. No ! to
married men, women should never make any concession whatever,
though it is not at all impossible, in this age of enlightenment, to induce
aristocratic gentlemen to desert their wives for fairer maidens.

E7it€r Mr. Sheephead. [Right door.]

Mr. Sheephead [writing in a note-hook while entering]. Confound the
luck! That's the most unsatisfactory evidence I ever — [perceiving
Miss Talker] — Pardon me, madam, I was just observing how remark-
ably satisfactory the testimony of our witnesses has proven, though all
of them have not yet been examined. [Aside] — Now, or never! I
can restrain myself no longer.

Miss Talker [angrily]. That is no concern of mine, sir.

3Ir. Sheephead [smiling]. My dearest Miss Talker, how aesthetically
charming is your attire, how lovely your countenance, with what a
crusliing effect the radiance of your soft brown eyes —

Miss Talker [frowning]. Sir! how dare you address me thus after
the insulting language of yesterday.

Mr, Sheephead [in apathetic manner]. Ah! most adorable creature,
lawyers will sometimes quarrel. It is a necessary part of the profes-
sion. The weaker the case, the more abusive the ejDithets. Often in
the vehemence of debate, often in our anxieties for our fees, we over-
leap the bounds of propriety and decorum by uttering words, the mere
thought of which in calmer times would put us to shame. You, too,
have spoken harsh words of me, but no sooner had the last sounds of
your oft'ensive words died away, than I could detect the prayer of for-
giveness lurking about 5'our precious lips. When I first beheld your be-
witching countenance, it completely unnerved me. I put forth every
effort to abuse you — for it was my duty ; but alas ! all to no purpose.

Miss Talker. Pray, don't excuse yourself, you succeeded quite well.
Had it not been for Mrs. Morose's earnest entreaties, I would never
have consented to be present at this consultation.

Mr, Sheephead, Ah ! madam, you wrong me. What I did say was
nothing, compared with what I might have said. It is a great consola-
tion for sinners to know that none of them are so bad, but that they
might have been worse.

Miss Talker [angrily], Mr. Sheephead, recollect, sir, that I am
here strictly on business, and not on a courting expedition. Quite a
remarkable change is noticeable in your conduct since last week.
Your pretended piety, your feigned repentance and your assumed good
manners are no doubt well concocted schemes, wherewith you fain
would ensnare an unwary victim. Beware of me, sir !

Mr, Sheephead. Ah ! madam, there is beauty in your very frowns,
goodness in your evil thoughts, and love in your angry words. [Very
Apathetically] — You will believe me, my dearest Miss Talker, when I
swear that I am perfectly sincere in everything that I have said to you
this evening. Why should I be unsusceptible to female charms ? Why
should I be wholly devoid of the holy passion of love ? A lawyer's
heart is not love-proof. Stern though the stufi' be of which it is made,
yet withal can it be wounded by Cupid's arrows. How I came to
overlook your irresistible charms when last we met, is one of those in-



26

dissoluble mysteries which sometimes occurs only to baffle our very
senses.

Miss Talker [atigrily]. Your conduct, sir, is outrasjeous. Do you
tliink, sir, that you cau deceive me by tliis despicable trick of yours.
It is very likely, indeed, that you who reviled me in the Senate, who
slandered me in the presence of your own client, have all of a sudden
become my most ardent admirer.

Mr. Sheej^head. Strange it is, but true. Ah, madam, "Love is
blind and lovers cannot see the petty follies that themselves commit."
Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 6. But I have not become a sudden
convert, as you suppose. The sublime feelings which I entertain for
you have passed through all the various stages of the Darwinian theory
of evolution. First came the seed, then the bud, and now comes the
beautiful period of efflorescence. I tried to arrest its further develop-
ment until this case had been settled, but it seems as though the com-
bined strength of Hercules and Samson cannot restrain me from giving
expression to the ebullition of my feelings. " Tlaou wouldst as soon
go kindle tire with snow as seek to quench the fire of love with words."
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II, Scene 7. Come, then, dearest,
do not be ansii-y. I do not know the cause of my stupid blindnesi? in
the past, I do not know how I came to abuse you, this only I do know
tliat I adore you, I worship you, and you must be my wife.

Miss Talker [with contempt] . Your wife, indeed ! Sir, your imper-
tinent audacity is becoming absolutely sublime. Have you so soon
forgotten the pledges which you have made to another woman ? Have
you so soon forgotten the boastful words which you uttered but yes-
terday ?

Mr. Shee])head [confused]. Pledges? Boastful words ? I don't un-
derstand you.

Miss Talker [assuming a threateniny attitude and speaking in a deep
voice, in imitation of Mr. Sheephead], "1 warn you in advance that I
have been a married man too long to be intimidated by the threats of
female tyrants." Do you wish, sir, to become a bigamii-t ? Did you
not in the presence of Mr. Green and myself openly avow that you
were a married man ?

Mr. Sheephead [innocently]. Yes, I stated so, but that was a mere
professional utterance, and like all statements made by the profession,
it was not strictly true.

Miss Talker. Then you are not married ?

Mr. Sheephead. Certainly not.

Miss Talker. That being the case, I am bound to accept your
apology.

Mr. Sheephead [taking her ha7id]. And my hand, too.

Enter Mr. Green and Mrs. Morose, from opposite sides.

Mr. Green and Mrs. Morose [each looking at their own attorney, and


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Online LibrarySylvan DreyWoman's rights; a strictly original comedy .. → online text (page 3 of 4)