Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/231

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113
THE READING-CLUB.

Stella. Is the man crazy? Do you mean to say you did not make a proposal of marriage to me in this very room a week ago?

Festus. Madam, you surprise me. To the best of my knowledge and belief, I never saw you before.

Stella. Was there ever such assurance? Is not your name—

Festus. Festus; and yours Stella. Am I not right?

Stella. Sir, this is very provoking; but, if you are Festus, what is your object in calling here?

Festus. To entertain you.

Stella. To entertain me! With what, pray? Sitting on the edge of a chair, and twirling your thumbs?

Festus. (Aside.) That's a hard hit. (Aloud.) With readings, if you please.

Stella. Readings! Pray, what do you read? Ovid's "Art of Love"?

Festus. Madam, I answered your advertisement, being desirous of securing the situation of reader to an invalid.

Stella. You won't suit.

Festus. You haven't heard me.

Stella. No, but I've seen you; and your silence cannot be excelled by your reading.

Festus. Will you hear me read?

Stella. No: you will not suit.

Festus. Very well: then I claim the trial. Remember your promise,—"Stella is satisfied with the references of 'Festus,' and will give him an opportunity to test his ability as a reader Tuesday evening," etc.

Stella. Oh, very well! If you insist upon making yourself ridiculous, proceed. (Sits in chair, r. of table, and turns her back on Festus.)

Festus. But will you not listen to me? I cannot read to you while you sit in that position.

Stella. I told you I did not wish to hear you read: you insist. Proceed: I am not interested.

Festus. Oh, very well! My first selection shall be from the writings of one well known to fame,—a lady whose compositions have electrified the world; whose poetic effusions have lulled to sleep the cross and peevish infant, stilled the noisy nursery, and exerted an influence upon mankind of great and lasting power; one whose works are memorable for their antiquity,—the gift of genius to the budding