The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays.

[CURTAIN]

GETTYSBURG[1]

Percy MacKaye

SCENE:  A woodshed, in the ell of a farm-house.

The shed is open on both sides, front and back, the apertures being slightly arched at the top. (In bad weather, these presumably may be closed by big double doors, which stand open now—­swung back outward beyond sight.) Thus the nearer opening is the proscenium arch of the scene, under which the spectator looks through the shed to the background—­a grassy yard, a road with great trunks of soaring elms, and the glimpse of a green hillside.  The ceiling runs up into a gable with large beams.

On the right, at back, a door opens into the shed from the house kitchen.  Opposite it, a door leads from the shed into the barn.  In the foreground, against the right wall, is a work-bench.  On this are tools, a long, narrow, wooden box, and a small oil-stove, with steaming kettle upon it.

Against the left wall, what remains of the year’s wood supply is stacked, the uneven ridges sloping to a jumble of stovewood and kindlings mixed with small chips of the floor, which is piled deep with mounds of crumbling bark, chips and wood-dust.

Not far from this mounded pile, at right centre of the scene, stands a wooden armchair, in which LINK TADBOURNE, in his shirt-sleeves, sits drowsing.  Silhouetted by the sunlight beyond, his sharp-drawn profile is that of an old man, with white hair cropped close, and gray moustache of a faded black hue at the outer edges.  Between his knees is a stout thong of wood, whittled round by the drawshave which his sleeping hand still holds in his lap.  Against the side of his chair rests a thick wooden yoke and collar.  Near him is a chopping-block.

In the woodshed there is no sound or motion except the hum and floating steam from the tea-kettle.  Presently the old man murmurs in his sleep, clenching his hand.  Slowly the hand relaxes again.

From the door, right, comes POLLY—­a sweet-faced girl of seventeen, quietly mature for her age.  She is dressed simply.  In one hand she carries a man’s wide-brimmed felt hat, over the other arm a blue coat.  These she brings toward LINK.  Seeing him asleep, she begins to tiptoe, lays the coat and hat on the chopping-block, goes to the bench, and trims the wick of the oil-stove, under the kettle.  Then she returns and stands near LINK, surveying the shed.

On closer scrutiny, the jumbled woodpile has evidently a certain order in its chaos; some of the splittings have been piled in irregular ridges; in places, the deep layer of wood-dust and chips has been scooped, and the little mounds slope and rise like miniature valleys and hills. [2]

Taking up a hoe, POLLY—­with careful steps—­moves among the hollows, placing and arranging sticks of kindling, scraping and smoothing the little mounds with the hoe.  As she does so, from far away, a bugle sounds.

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The Atlantic Book of Modern Plays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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