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قراءة كتاب Miss Civilization: A Comedy in One Act

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Miss Civilization: A Comedy in One Act

Miss Civilization: A Comedy in One Act

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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A Comedy In One Act

By Richard Harding Davis

"Miss Civilization" is founded on a story by the late James Harvey Smith. All professional rights in this play belong to Richard Harding Davis. Amateurs who desire to produce "Miss Civilization" may do so, providing they apply for permission to the editor of Collier's Weekly, in which publication this play was first printed.


ALICE GARDNER: Daughter of James K. Gardner, President of the L.I. & W. Railroad

"UNCLE" JOSEPH HATCH: Alias "Gentleman Joe"

"BRICK" MEAKIN: Alias "Reddy, the Kid"

HARRY HAYES: Alias "Grand Stand" Harry

CAPTAIN LUCAS: Chief of Police

Policemen, Brakemen, Engineers

Scene—The dining room in the country house of James K. Gardner on Long Island. In the back wall is a double doorway opening into a hall. A curtain divided in the middle hangs across the entrance. On the wall on either side of the doorway are two electric lights, and to the left is a telephone. Further to the left is a sideboard. On it are set silver salvers, candlesticks, and Christmas presents of silver. They still are in the red flannel bags in which they arrived. In the left wall is a recessed window hung with curtains. Against the right wall is a buffet on which is set a tea-caddy, toast-rack, and tea kettle. Below the buffet a door opens into the butler's pantry. A dinner table stands well down the stage with a chair at each end and on either side. Two chairs are set against the back wall to the right of the door. The walls and windows are decorated with holly and mistletoe and Christmas wreaths tied with bows of scarlet ribbon. When the window is opened there is a view of falling snow. At first the room is in complete darkness.

The time is the day after Christmas, near midnight.

After the curtain rises, one hears the noise of a file scraping on iron. It comes apparently from outside the house at a point distant from the dining room. The filing is repeated cautiously, with a wait between each stroke, as though the person using the file had paused to listen.

Alice Gardner enters at centre, carrying a lighted candle in a silver candlestick. She wears a dressing gown, with swan's down around her throat and at the edges of her sleeves. Her feet are in bedroom slippers topped with fur. Her hair hangs down in a braid. After listening intently to the sound of the file, she places candle on sideboard and goes to telephone. She speaks in a whisper.

   Hello, Central.  Hello, Central.
   Wake up!  Wake up!  Is that you, Central?  Give me the station
   agent at Bedford Junction—quick.  What?  I CAN'T speak louder.
   Well, you MUST hear me.  Give me the station agent at Bedford
   Junction.  No, there's always a man there all night.  Hurry,
   please, hurry.
   (There is a pause, during which the sound of the file grows louder.
   Alice listens apprehensively.)
   Hello, are you the station agent?  Good!  Listen!  I am Miss
   Gardner, James K. Gardner's daughter.  Yes, James K. Gardner, the
   president of the road.  This is his house.  My mother and I are
   here alone.  There are three men trying to break in.  Yes,
   burglars, of course.  My mother is very ill.  If they frighten her
   the shock might—might be very serious.  Wake up the crew, and send
   the wrecking train here—at once.  Send—the—crew—of—the—
   wrecking train here—quick.  What?  Then fire up an engine and get
   it here as fast as you can.

   (calling from second story)

   (at telephone)
   Yes, you have.  The up-track's clear until "52" comes along.
   That's not until—


   (with dismay)
   (At telephone)
   Hello, hold the wire.  Don't go away!
   (Runs to curtains, parts them, and looks up as though speaking to
   some one at top of stairs)
   Mother, why AREN'T you in bed?

   Is anything wrong, Alice?

   No, dear, no.  I just came down to—get a book I forgot.  Please go
   back, dearest.

   I heard you moving about.  I thought you might be ill.

   No, dearest, but YOU'LL be very ill if you don't keep in bed.
   Please, mother—at once.  It's all right, it's all right.

   Yes, dear.  Good night.

   Good night, mother.
   (Returns quickly to telephone)
   Hello!  Hello!  Stop the engine at the foot of our lawn.  Yes, yes,
   at the foot of our lawn.  And when you have the house surrounded,
   when the men are all around the house, blow three whistles so I'll
   know you're here.  What?  Oh, that's all right.  The burglars will
   be here.  I'LL see to that.  All YOU have to do is to GET here.  If
   you don't you, you'll lose your job!  I say, if you don't, you'll
   lose your job, or I'm not the daughter of the president of this
   road.  NOW, YOU JUMP!  And—wait—hello
   (turns from telephone)
   He's jumped.

   (The file is now drawn harshly across the bolt of the window of the
   dining room, and a piece of wood snaps.  With an exclamation, Alice
   blows out the candle and exits.  The shutters of the windows are
   opened, admitting the faint glow of moonlight.  The window is
   raised and the ray of a dark lantern is swept about the room.
   HATCH appears at window and puts one leg inside.  He is an elderly
   man wearing a mask which hides the upper half of his face, a heavy
   overcoat, and a derby hat.  But for the mask he might be mistaken
   for a respectable man of business.  A pane of glass falls from the
   window and breaks on the sill.)

   (Speaking over his shoulder)
   Hush!  Be careful, can't you?
   (He enters.  He is followed by "GRAND STAND" HARRY, a younger man
   of sporting appearance.  He also wears a mask, and the brim of his
   gray alpine hat is pulled over his eyes.  Around his throat he
   wears a heavy silk muffler).
   It's all right.  Come on.  Hurry up, and close those shutters.

   (to REDDY outside)
   Give me the bag, Reddy.

   (REDDY appears at window.  He is dressed like a Bowery tough.  His
   face is blackened with burnt cork.  His hair is of a brilliant red.
   He wears an engineer's silk cap with visor.  To HARRY he passes a
   half-filled canvas bag.  On his shoulder he carries another.  On
   entering he slips and falls forward on the floor).

   Confound you!

   Hush, you fool.

   Has he broken anything?

   (on floor, rubbing his head)
   I've broke my head.

   That's no loss.  Has he smashed that silver?

   (feeling in bag)
   It feels all right.

   (HATCH cautiously parts curtains at centre and exits into hall.)

   (lifts bag)
   We got enough stuff in this bag already without wasting time on
   ANOTHER house.

   Wasting time!  Time's money in THIS house.  Look at this silver.
   That's the beauty of working the night AFTER Christmas; everybodys'
   presents is lying about loose, and everybody's too