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The Noble Lord A Comedy in One Act   By: (1887-1953)

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THE NOBLE LORD A Comedy In One Act

By PERCIVAL WILDE

The Noble Lord

CHARACTERS HE. SHE. PETERS.

THE NOBLE LORD

A secluded spot in the Maine woods in the neighborhood of a summer hotel. It is the middle of July. The trees are covered with foliage, a hot sun casts dancing shadows upon the mossy ground, and the air is full of the twittering of birds and the rustle of leaves. A winding path crosses from one side to the other, and near the center is a little clearing: the stump of a felled tree, with the lichen covered trunk itself near it, and a patch of grassy turf. The eye cannot penetrate far through the riotously growing underbrush, but as one looks upwards, to the left, a thinning of foliage, allowing a glimpse of the sky, gives evidence of the near proximity of some small body of water.

As the curtain rises the scene is empty. There is only the song of birds, and the whisper of a gentle breeze. For a few seconds nothing else is heard. Then, suddenly, not far away, there is the sound of a splash, followed by the scream of a drowning woman, "Help! Help! Help!" There is a tremendous crashing through the underbrush, and another voice, very masculine, very English, shouts, "Where are you? Where are you?" Rather indefinitely the first speaker answers, "Here! Help! Help!" Another crashing through the underbrush, followed by a second splash, and presently, after a short pause, there enters upon the stage a tall, much bedraggled Englishman, bearing in his arms the motionless body of an extremely good looking girl. Both of them are very wet, and a trail of water marks their progress across the scene. Reaching the clearing, the Englishman methodically deposits the girl on the ground, backs away a foot or so, and notices that his hands are wet. He reaches into a hip pocket and draws forth a handkerchief: the handkerchief is wetter than his hands. With a gesture of vexation he throws it away, and gives his attention to the girl. He looks at her quizzically; then, rather timidly, he kneels at her side, and lays his ear over her heart. He rises promptly with a satisfied nod, carefully removes his dripping coat, folds it neatly, and places it on the log. Again he kneels, this time with his knees on either side of the girl's head, and laboriously begins to apply the Sylvester method, counting audibly as he does so. At "ten" he stops wearily, pauses, and again applies his ear to her heart. The result is evidently pleasing, and after a few more Sylvester movements, he begins to vary the procedure by removing her shoes and alternately chafing her hands and feet. Presently she sighs deeply. For the third time he pauses to listen to her heart. Slowly and deliberately her left arm rises, to encircle his neck in a confiding clasp. He sits back on his haunches, politely surprised.

SHE. ( Faintly ) Mother! Mother, dear!

HE. Eh?

SHE. Mother, dear, I'm so glad

HE. ( Interrupting energetically ) Really, I beg your pardon.

SHE. ( Continuing without a break ) I'm so glad you've come.

HE. Ah, yes. . . . Quite so.

SHE. Kiss me, mother.

HE. ( Trying to rise ) Eh?

( She does not release him. )

SHE. Kiss me, mother.

HE. But I'm not your mother.

SHE. ( Plaintively ) Won't you kiss me, mother?

HE. ( Looks around furtively. Then he obliges her. )

SHE. Ah! That's so nice. ( She pauses. Shudders. ) Hold me close, mother, hold me close. I've had such a terrible dream!

HE. Good Heavens! You're not dreaming now. . . .

SHE. I dreamt I dreamt ( He has raised her to a sitting position. She stops abruptly. Looks about. ) Where where am I?

HE. ( Surprised ) Don't you know?

SHE. No.

HE. ( In a matter of fact tone ) We are about half a mile away from the Poland Springs Hotel, Poland Springs, Maine.

SHE. ( Vaguely ) Oh! ( She pauses. ) And you, how do you come here?

HE. Strolling.

SHE. Strolling?

HE. I reached the hotel this morning. It was hot beastly hot. I went for a walk in the woods.

SHE. And then?

HE. I beg your pardon?

SHE... Continue reading book >>




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