Then when the knock sounded which heralded Miss Chisholm, he said:—
“Come into another room, Sybil; I have so much to say to you.”
And in that other room he told me of his adventures and perils, and how through them all he had thought of me and wondered, if he never came back alive, whether I should be sorry, and, if he did come back, whether I would promise to be his darling little wife, very, very soon.
But all this, though far more beautiful than poet ever wrote, was not Shakespeare, and I was to act Juliet at night—Juliet the wretched, the heartbroken—while my own spirits were dancing, and my pulses bounding with joy and delight unutterable.
Well, I need hardly tell you my Juliet was not a success. I was conscious of tripping about the stage in an airy, elated way, which was allowable only during the earlier scenes; but when I should have been tragic and desperate, I was still brimming over with new found joy. All through Juliet’s grand monologue, where she swallows the poison, ran the refrain—“Jack has come home, I am going to marry Jack.” I had an awful fear once that I mixed two names a little, and called on Jackimo when I should have said Romeo, and when my speech was over and I lay motionless on the bed, I gave myself up to such delightful thoughts that Capulet or the Friar, I forget which, bending over the couch to assure himself that I was really dead, whispered—
“Keep quiet, you’re grinning.”
I was very glad when the play was over. We often read the reverse side of the picture—of how the clown cracks jokes while his heart is breaking; perhaps his only mother-in-law passing away without his arms to support her. But no one has ever written of the Juliet who goes through terror, suffering, and despair, to the tune of “Jack’s returned, I’m going to marry Jack.”
THE STORY OF MR. KING.
BY DAVID CHRISTIE MURRAY.
This is the story of Mr. King,
American citizen—Phineas K.,
Whom I met in Orkhanie, far away
From freshening cocktail and genial sling.
A little man with twinkling eyes,
And a nose like a hawk’s, and lips drawn thin,
And a little imperial stuck on his chin,
And about him always a cheerful grin,
Dashed with a comic and quaint surprise.
That very night a loot of wine
Made correspondents and doctors glad,
And the little man, unask’d to dine,
Sat down and shar’d in all we had.
For none said nay, this ready hand
Reach’d after pillau, and fowl, and drink,
And he toss’d off his liquor without a wink,
And wielded a knife like a warrior’s brand.
With a buccaneering, swaggering look
He sang his song, and he crack’d his jest,
And he bullied the waiter and curs’d the cook
With a charming self-approving zest.