Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/232

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greatness of the nineteenth century. (Producing a book from his pocket.) I will read from Mother Goose.

Stella. (Starting up.) Mother Goose!

Festus. Yes: are you acquainted with the lady?

Stella. (Sarcastically.) I have heard of her.

Festus. (Reads in very melodramatic style.)

"'We are three brethren out of Spain,
Come to court your daughter Jane.'
'My daughter Jane she is too young:
She is not skilled in flattering tongue.'
'Be she young, or be she old,
'Tis for her gold she must be sold.
So fare you well, my lady gay:
We will return another day.'"

How do you like that?

Stella. (Fiercely.) I don't like it.

Festus. No? Perhaps you prefer some other style of delivery. (Reads with a drawl.)

"'We awe thwe bwethwen-aw out of Spain,
Come to court-aw your dawtaw Jane-aw.'"

Stella. Oh, do read something else!

Festus. Certainly.

"Hi diddle diddle! the cat and the fiddle!
The cow jumped over the moon"—

Stella. (Jumps up.) Pray, sir, do you intend to read that nonsense the whole evening?

Festus. Oh, no! I think I can get through the book in about an hour.

Stella. Sir, you have forced yourself here, an unwelcome visitor: you insist upon my hearing such nonsense as Mother- Goose melodies for an hour. Do you call that gentlemanly?

Festus. Madam, you advertised for a reader. I have applied, with your permission, for the situation. Under the circumstances, I naturally expected to have your attention during the reading of such selections as I should offer; instead of which, you turn your back upon me, and very coolly bid me proceed. Do you call that ladylike?