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Five O'Clock Tea Farce   By: (1837-1920)

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First Page:

Transcriber's Note: On page 31, in the list of characters, Mrs. Campbell has been changed to Mrs. Canfield.

FIVE O'CLOCK TEA

HARPER'S BLACK & WHITE SERIES

[Illustration: "'WILL YOU ANSWER MY QUESTION, AMY?'"]

FIVE O'CLOCK TEA

Farce

BY W. D. HOWELLS

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK HARPER AND BROTHERS 1894

Copyright, 1894, by HARPER & BROTHERS. Copyright, 1885, by HARPER & BROTHERS. Copyright, 1885, by W. D. HOWELLS.

All rights reserved.

ILLUSTRATIONS

"'WILL YOU ANSWER MY QUESTION, AMY?'" Frontispiece

"MRS. SOMERS, POURING A CUP OF TEA: 'THAT MAKES IT A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT'" Facing page 32

FIVE O'CLOCK TEA

I

MRS. SOMERS; MR. WILLIS CAMPBELL

Mrs. Amy Somers, in a lightly floating tea gown of singularly becoming texture and color, employs the last moments of expectance before the arrival of her guests in marching up and down in front of the mirror which fills the space between the long windows of her drawing room, looking over either shoulder for different effects of the drifting and eddying train, and advancing upon her image with certain little bobs and bows, and retreating from it with a variety of fan practice and elaborated courtesies, finally degenerating into burlesque, and a series of grimaces and "mouths" made at the responsive reflex. In the fascination of this amusement she is first ignorant, and then aware, of the presence of Mr. Willis Campbell, who on the landing space between the drawing room and the library stands, hat in hand, in the pleased contemplation of Mrs. Somers's manoeuvres and contortions as the mirror reports them to him. Mrs. Somers does not permit herself the slightest start on seeing him in the glass, but turns deliberately away, having taken time to prepare the air of gratification and surprise with which she greets him at half the length of the drawing room.

Mrs. Somers, giving her hand: "Why, Mr. Campbell! How very nice of you! How long have you been prowling about there on the landing? So stupid of them not to have turned up the gas!"

Campbell: "I wasn't much incommoded. That sort of pitch darkness is rather becoming to my style of beauty, I find. The only objection was that I couldn't see you."

Mrs. Somers: "Do you often make those pretty speeches?"

Campbell: "When I can found them on fact."

Mrs. Somers: "What can I say back? Oh! That I'm sorry I couldn't have met you when you were looking your best."

Campbell: "Um! Do you think you could have borne it? We might go out there."

Mrs. Somers: "On second thoughts, no. I shall ring to have them turn up the gas."

Campbell: "No; let me." He prevents her ringing, and going out into the space between the library and drawing room, stands with his hand on the key of the gas burner. "Now how do I look?"

Mrs. Somers: "Beautiful."

Campbell, turning up the gas: "And now?"

Mrs. Somers: "Not half so well. Decidedly pitch darkness is becoming to you. Better turn it down again."

Campbell, rejoining her in the drawing room: "No; it isn't so becoming to you; and I'm not envious, whatever I am."

Mrs. Somers: "You are generosity itself."

Campbell: "If you come to phrases, I prefer magnanimity."

Mrs. Somers: "Well, say magnanimity. Won't you sit down while you have the opportunity?" She sinks upon the sofa, and indicates with her fan an easy chair at one end of it.

Campbell, dropping into it: "Are there going to be so many?"

Mrs. Somers: "You never can tell about five o'clock tea. There mayn't be more than half a dozen; there may be thirty or forty. But I wished to affect your imagination."

Campbell: "You had better have tried it in some other kind of weather... Continue reading book >>




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