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قراءة كتاب Miss Civilization: A Comedy in One Act

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‏اللغة: English
Miss Civilization: A Comedy in One Act

Miss Civilization: A Comedy in One Act

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

me,  my mistake.

   (A locomotive whistle is heard at a distance.  ALICE listens
   eagerly.  As the whistle dies away and is not repeated, her face
   shows her disappointment.)

   What was that?  There's no trains this time of night.

   (speaking partly to herself)
   It was a freight train, going the other way.

   The other way?  The other way from where?

   From where it started.  Do you know, I've always wanted to meet a
   burglar.  But it's so difficult.  They go out so seldom.

   Yes, and they arrive so late.

   Now, that's much better.  It's so nice of you to have a sense of
   humor.  While you're there, just close those blinds, please, so
   that the neighbors can't see what scandalous hours we keep.  And
   then you can make a light.  This is much too gloomy for a supper

   (closing shutters)
   Yes, if those were shut it might be safer.

   (He closes shutters and turns on the two electric lights.  REDDY
   and HARRY enter, carrying plates.)

   We aren't regular waiters, miss, but we think we're pretty good for

   We haven't forgot nothing.  Not even napkins.  Have some napkins?

   (Places a pile of folded napkins in front of ALICE.  Then sits at
   head of table, HARRY to lower right of table.  ALICE moves her
   chair away from the table, but keeping REDDY on her right.  HATCH
   sits still further away from the table on her left.)

   Thanks.  Put the plates down there.  And may I help you to some—

   (taking food in fingers)
   Oh, we'll help ourselves.

   Of course you're accustomed to helping yourselves, aren't you?
   (To HATCH.)
   Won't you join them?


   (Through the scene which follows, REDDY and HARRY continue to eat
   and drink heartily.)

   No?  Well, then, while they're having supper, you and I will talk.
   If you're going to gag me soon, I want to talk while I can.
   (Rises and hands box to him.)
   Have a cigar?

   (takes cigar)

   (standing with hand on back of chair)
   Now, I want to ask you some questions.  You are an intelligent man.
   Of course, you must be, or you couldn't have kept out of jail for
   twenty years.  To get on in your business, a man must be
   intelligent, and he must have nerve, and courage.  Now—with those
   qualities, why, may I ask—why are you so stupid as to be a


   Well, I like that!

   Stupid?  Why, I make a living at it.

   How much of a living?

   Ten thousand a year.

   Ten thousand—well, suppose you made FIFTY thousand.  What good is
   even a hundred thousand for ONE year, if to get it you risk
   going to prison for twenty years?  That's not sensible.  Merely as
   a business proposition, to take the risk you do for ten thousand
   dollars is stupid isn't it?  I can understand a man's risking
   twenty years of his life for some things—a man like Peary or
   Dewey, or Santos-Dumont.  They took big risks for big prizes.  But
   there's thousands of men in this country, not half as clever as you
   are, earning ten thousand a year—without any risk of going to
   jail.  None of THEM is afraid to go out in public with his wife and
   children.  THEY'RE not afraid to ask a policeman what time it is.
   They don't have to wear black masks, nor ruin their beautiful
   complexions with burnt cork.

   Ah, go on.  Who'd give ME a job?

   Whom did you ever ask for one?

   (to HARRY)
   Pass me some more of that pie like mother used to make.

   Yes, there are clerks and shopkeepers working behind a counter
   twenty-four hours a day, but they don't make ten thousand a year,
   and no one ever hears of THEM.  There's no FAME in their job.

   Fame!  Oh, how interesting.  Are you—a celebrity?

   I'm quite as well known as I care to be.  Now, tomorrow, all the
   papers will be talking about this.  There'll be columns about us
   three.  No one will know we are the ones they're talking about—

   I hope not.

   But the men in our profession will know.  And they'll say, "That
   was a neat job of So-and-so's last night."  That's fame.  Why,
   we've got a reputation from one end of this country to the other.

   That's right!  There's some of us just as well known as—Mister—

   And we fly just as high, too.

   (to HATCH)
   I suppose YOU—I suppose you're quite a FAMOUS burglar?

   Him?  Why, he's as well known as Billy the Kid.

   Billy the kid, really!  He sounds SO attractive.  But I'm afraid—I
   don't think—that I ever heard of HIM.

   Never heard of Billy the Kid?  What do you think of that?

   Well, then, I'm as well known as "Brace" Phillips, the Manhattan
   Bank robber.

   SURE he is.

   Don't tell me you never heard of him?

   I'm afraid not.

   Why, he's a head-liner.  He's as well known as George Post.  Coppy
   Farrell?  Billy Porter?

   No.  There you are.  Now, you claim there is fame in this
   profession, and you have named five men who are at the top of it,
   and I've never heard of one of them.  And I read the papers, too.

   Well, there's OTHER ladies who have heard of us.  Real ladies.
   When I was doing my last bit in jail, I got a thousand letters from
   ladies asking for me photograph, and offering to marry me.

   Really?  Well, that only proves that men—AS HUSBANDS—are more
   desirable in jail than out.
   (To HATCH)
   No, it's a poor life.

   It's a poor life you people lead with us to worry you.  There's
   seventy millions of you in the United States, and only a few of us,
   and yet we keep you guessing all the year round.  Why, we're the
   last thing you think of at night when you lock the doors, we're the
   first thing you think of in the morning when you feel for the
   silver basket.  We're just a few up against seventy millions.  I
   tell you there's fame and big money and a free life in my business.

   Yes, it's a free life until you go to jail.  It's this way.  You're
   barbarians, and there's no place for you in a civilized community—
   except in jail.  Everybody is working against you.  Every city has
   its police force; almost every house nowadays has a private
   watchman.  And if we want to raise a hue and cry after you, there
   are the newspapers, and the telegraph, and the telephone
   (nods at telephone)
   and the cables all over the—

   Thank you.  One moment, please.