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Children's Classics In Dramatic Form by Augusta Stevenson

Part 2 out of 3

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can't see very well.

GRANDMOTHER (_giving shoes to Karen_). Are they of polished leather? They
shine as if they were.

KAREN. Yes; they do shine.

(_Trying on the shoes._)

And they just fit me, Grandmother.

GRANDMOTHER. I will take them, Shoemaker.

SHOEMAKER. But, madam--

KAREN (_interrupting; whispering_). Hush, Shoemaker! She will never know
the difference.

GRANDMOTHER. Here is the money, Shoemaker. Come, Karen.

SHOEMAKER. But, madam--

KAREN (_interrupting_). I am ready, Grandmother.

GRANDMOTHER. Good day, Shoemaker.

SHOEMAKER. But, madam--

KAREN (_interrupting_). Good day, Shoemaker.

[_The Grandmother and Karen go._]

SCENE II

TIME: _the next Sunday, after church_.
PLACE: _the Grandmother's home_.

* * * * *

THE GRANDMOTHER.
KAREN.
THE NEIGHBORS { _First_.
{ _Second_.
{ _Third_.
{ _Fourth_.

* * * * *

[_The_ NEIGHBORS _sit with the_ GRANDMOTHER _in the spare room because it
is Sunday._]

FIRST NEIGHBOR. I did not see you at church to-day, Grandmother.

GRANDMOTHER. I could not go, but I sent little Karen.

SECOND NEIGHBOR (_mysteriously_). Oh, yes; we saw her! Everybody saw her!

GRANDMOTHER (_proudly_). People do look at her; she is so pretty.

THIRD NEIGHBOR. People didn't look at her face to-day.

GRANDMOTHER (_alarmed_). What do you mean?

THIRD NEIGHBOR. Ask Karen when she returns. We're not the ones to carry
tales.

GRANDMOTHER (_looking out window_). Here she comes now!

FOURTH NEIGHBOR. Just ask her about the sermon and the hymns!

GRANDMOTHER (_proudly_). She will tell me almost every word the pastor
said. She is a smart girl--that Karen.

[_Enter_ KAREN.]

KAREN. Well, Grandmother, here I am! Good morning, Neighbors.

NEIGHBORS (_coldly_). Good morning, Karen.

GRANDMOTHER. Now tell me about the sermon, Karen. What was the text?

KAREN (_with confusion; stammering_). The text? It was--it was--Oh, I will
tell you all about it by and by, Grandmother. Our Neighbors want to talk
with you now.

FIRST NEIGHBOR. Oh, no! We would rather hear you tell your Grandmother
about the sermon and the music.

GRANDMOTHER. What hymns did they sing, Karen?

KAREN (_as before_). Hymns? They sang--let me see--they sang--

[_She stops in confusion._]

GRANDMOTHER. Why, Karen! Are you ill?

SECOND NEIGHBOR. No, Grandmother, Karen is not ill. She is ashamed. She was
not thinking of the beautiful music nor of the sermon this morning. Is that
not true, Karen?

KAREN (_ashamed_). Y-e-s--

GRANDMOTHER. What is this?

THIRD NEIGHBOR. Tell your Grandmother what you were thinking about in
church, Karen.

KAREN. I was thinking about--about--my new shoes.

GRANDMOTHER. A great thing to think about in church--a pair of plain black
shoes!

FOURTH NEIGHBOR. She did not wear her black shoes; she wore _red shoes!_

GRANDMOTHER (_gasping_). Red shoes--to church?

FIRST NEIGHBOR (_nodding_). Every one was terribly shocked!

GRANDMOTHER (_still gasping_). Red shoes to church!

SECOND NEIGHBOR. Even the pastor looked at her shoes!

GRANDMOTHER (_indignantly_). Red shoes to church!

THIRD NEIGHBOR. The choir looked! All fixed their eyes on Karen's red
shoes.

GRANDMOTHER. It is the most shocking thing I ever heard! Do you hear me,
Karen?

KAREN (_hanging her head in shame_). Yes, Grandmother.

GRANDMOTHER. You must never, never, so long as you live, wear red shoes to
church again. It is not at all proper. Do you hear me, Karen?

KAREN (_as before_). Yes, Grandmother.

FOURTH NEIGHBOR. Do you think she should have her Sunday dinner?

GRANDMOTHER. Not one bite! She shall stay in her room all day. Do you hear
me, Karen?

KAREN. Yes, Grandmother.

GRANDMOTHER. Thank you for telling me, Neighbors. To think of it! Red shoes
to church!

SCENE III

TIME: _the following Sunday, after church_.
PLACE: _the churchyard_.

* * * * *

THE GRANDMOTHER.
KAREN.
THE OLD SOLDIER.
THE COACHMAN.

* * * * *

[_The_ GRANDMOTHER _and_ KAREN _come from the church. The_ OLD SOLDIER
_stands near the church door. He tries to speak to the Grandmother, but she
does not hear him._]

KAREN. Wait a moment, Grandmother! The Old Soldier wants to speak with you.

GRANDMOTHER (_turning_). What do you want, Old Soldier?

OLD SOLDIER. I want to dust your shoes, madam.

GRANDMOTHER. That is very good of you.

(_Old Soldier dusts her shoes_).

Thank you; now I will go to my carriage while you dust Karen's shoes.

[_She goes._]

OLD SOLDIER. Stretch out your foot, little Karen.

(_Karen thrusts out her foot._)

What is this? Red shoes for church?

KAREN. I looked at my old black shoes--

OLD SOLDIER (_interrupting_). And then at your new red ones?

KAREN (_nodding_). Yes, and then at my black ones again--

OLD SOLDIER (_interrupting_). And then put on your red ones!

KAREN. Sh-h! Grandmother must not know.

OLD SOLDIER. She can't hear, for I am talking through my long red beard.

KAREN. Why is your beard so red, Old Soldier?

OLD SOLDIER. To make more light for my eyes--that I may see without
looking.

KAREN. See without looking?

OLD SOLDIER (_nodding_). I was not in the church, yet I saw you clearly
when you knelt at the altar and raised the golden cup to your lips.

KAREN (_surprised_). You saw that?

OLD SOLDIER (_nodding_). And more--I saw your thoughts.

KAREN. You saw my thoughts?

OLD SOLDIER (_nodding_). It was to you as if your red shoes passed before
your eyes in the cup. Am I not right?

KAREN (_showing fear_). Y-e-s--

OLD SOLDIER. And I saw by the light of my beard that you forgot to sing the
hymns; eh, Karen?

KAREN. Y-e-s--

OLD SOLDIER. And that you forgot to say your prayers; eh, Karen?

KAREN. Y-e-s--

OLD SOLDIER. You were thinking of your red shoes all the time.

KAREN. Y-e-s, Old Soldier.

OLD SOLDIER (_holding Karen and stooping until his beard covers her
shoes_). Cover and touch and change, my beard! Cover and touch and change!

KAREN. What are you doing? Let me go!

OLD SOLDIER (_holding her firmly_). I am turning your red shoes into
dancing shoes!

KAREN. I am afraid of you! Let me go!

OLD SOLDIER (_slapping soles of her shoes with hand_). Now I have made them
stick fast to your feet!

KAREN (_calling_). Grandmother! Grandmother!

OLD SOLDIER. Now you may go! Ha, ha!

KAREN. Why! I am dancing! I can't stop! Grandmother! Grandmother!

GRANDMOTHER. What is this? Mercy on me! She is dancing down the street! Run
after her, Coachman! Quick! Stop her!

COACHMAN (_running after Karen_). Stop, Mistress Karen! I'm after you!

OLD SOLDIER. Ha, ha, ha! You will never catch her!

GRANDMOTHER (_calling after Coachman_). There she goes around the corner!

COACHMAN (_calling off_). I'll get you, Mistress Karen! Just stop a bit!

OLD SOLDIER. Ha, ha, ha! You will never catch her!

GRANDMOTHER. My poor Karen! My poor Karen!

COACHMAN (_returning_). I couldn't catch her, madam! She danced right out
of the town gate!

GRANDMOTHER. Out of the town gate?

COACHMAN. Yes, madam, and straight for the dark wood.

GRANDMOTHER. We will drive after her!

[_Coachman jumps to his seat._]

OLD SOLDIER. Ha, ha, ha! You will never catch her!

GRANDMOTHER. Quick, Coachman, quick! We must catch her before she gets to
the dark wood. My poor Karen! My poor Karen!

[_The carriage dashes off._]

SCENE IV

TIME: _three days later; evening_.
PLACE: _the dark wood. A hut is seen among the vines_.

* * * * *

THE FORESTER.
HIS SON.
KAREN.
THE EXECUTIONER.
THE OLD SOLDIER.
THE FAIRY QUEEN.
MOON.

* * * * *

[_The_ FORESTER _and his_ SON _are felling a tree._]

KAREN (_heard calling off_). Stop me! Stop me!

SON. Heard you that cry?

FORESTER (_looking off_). Mercy on us! 'T is the dancing girl I told you
of!

[_Enter_ KAREN, _dancing._]

KAREN. Stop me, Forester!

FORESTER. No, no! I dare not!

KAREN (_to Son_). Stop me, I pray you! Three days have I danced! I can
endure it no longer!

SON (_to Forester_). Come, let us help her!

FORESTER. Do not touch her! She is bewitched!

KAREN. 'T is my shoes are bewitched--not I!

SON. I say, little maid, pull off your shoes!

KAREN. They will not come off. See!

[_She pulls at her shoes._]

SON (_starting towards Karen_). I'll get them off, bewitched or not
bewitched!

FORESTER (_seizing Son_). Would you get yourself into trouble? Come home
with me!

[_Forester runs from wood with Son. The_ MOON _arises suddenly in a fir
tree._]

KAREN. O Moon, see how I dance below you! Pray tell me how to break this
spell!

MOON. Ha, ha, ha!

[_The Moon changes into the red beard of the_ OLD SOLDIER.]

OLD SOLDIER. My beard makes moonlight for me that I may watch you dance.

KAREN. Mercy, Old Soldier! I pray you break your spell!

OLD SOLDIER. You forgot to say the prayers! You thought only of your red
shoes!

KAREN. I will go barefoot to church!

OLD SOLDIER. You whispered "red" to the Shoemaker!

KAREN. I will never deceive my dear Grandmother again! Have pity!

OLD SOLDIER. You shall dance in your red shoes till you are pale and cold!
By night and by day you shall dance; in sunshine and in rain; in snow and
in sleet. Over highways and byways shall you dance; in dark swamps and on
mountain tops. You shall go on dancing, dancing, dancing, forever and ever!

[_He disappears._]

KAREN. I cannot dance on forever! I cannot! I cannot!

(_Weeping; pause._)

Well, I know a way to break the spell, and I'll do it!

(_Crossing to hut of the_ EXECUTIONER; _knocking._)

Come out! Come out!

EXECUTIONER (_from within the hut_). Come in!

KAREN. I cannot come in; I must dance.

EXECUTIONER. Then I will come out.

(_The Executioner comes out from hut._)

Well, do you know me?

KAREN. You are the Executioner.

EXECUTIONER. I am the Executioner. I cut off the heads of wicked people
with this great ax.

KAREN. Do not strike off my head!

EXECUTIONER. And why not strike off your head, pray?

KAREN. I must have that to repent of my sin. So please to cut off my feet.

EXECUTIONER. It shall be as you say. Thrust out your foot, maid.

[_Enter_ FAIRY QUEEN.]

FAIRY QUEEN. Stay, Executioner, stay! I've come to save you, Karen!

KAREN. To save me?

FAIRY QUEEN. Whenever a child repents of a sin, lo, I am there to save.

KAREN. Will you remove this spell from me?

FAIRY QUEEN. Will you give up your red shoes?

KAREN. Gladly! Gladly! I wish I might never see them again!

FAIRY QUEEN. Then dance to me that I may touch you with my wand.

[_Fairy Queen touches Karen's shoes with her wand. The shoes fall off._]

KAREN. Dear Fairy Queen! Dear Fairy Queen! I thank you! I thank you!

FAIRY QUEEN. Look, Karen, your shoes are dancing away! Soon they will be
lost to you forever. Shall I not bring them back?

KAREN. No, no! Let them go! Now I am free! Now I can rest!

FAIRY QUEEN. Then come, dear child, I will guide you to your home.

THE STORY OF ALI COGIA

SCENE I

TIME: _one evening_.
PLACE: _the house of a merchant in Bagdad_.

* * * * *

THE MERCHANT.
THE MERCHANT'S WIFE.

* * * * *

[_The_ MERCHANT _and his_ WIFE _are at supper._]

WIFE. Our neighbors bought some fine olives to-day. It has been a long time
since we have had olives. I am quite hungry for them.

MERCHANT. Now you speak of olives, you put me in mind of the jar which Ali
Cogia left with me.

WIFE (_pointing to a jar in another part of the room_). There is the very
jar waiting for him against his return.

MERCHANT. Certainly he must be dead, since he has not returned in all this
time. Give me a plate; I will open the jar, and if the olives be good, we
will eat them.

WIFE. Pray, husband, do not commit so base an action. You know nothing is
more sacred than what is left to one's care and trust.

MERCHANT. But I am certain All Cogia will never return.

WIFE. And I have a strong feeling that he will. What will he think of your
honor if he finds the jar has been opened?

MERCHANT. Surely a jar of olives is not to be guarded so carefully, year
after year.

WIFE. That is Ali Cogia's affair, not ours. Besides, the olives can't be
good after all this time.

MERCHANT (_taking a plate_). I mean to have a taste of them, at least.

WIFE (_indignantly_). You are betraying the trust your friend placed in
you! I will not remain to witness it.

[_She leaves the room. The Merchant crosses and takes cover from jar._]

MERCHANT (_looking in jar_). My wife was right--the olives are covered with
mould, but those at the bottom may still be good.

[_He turns the jar up and shakes out the olives. Several gold pieces fall
out._]

MERCHANT. What is this? Gold pieces! As I live! Gold! gold!

[_He shakes the jar again; a shower of gold pieces fall._]

MERCHANT (_dropping the jar in astonishment_). A thousand pieces at least!
The top of the jar only was laid with olives!

(_He puts the gold into his pockets._)

To-night, when my wife is asleep, I will fill the jar entirely with fresh
olives, for these show they have been disturbed. And I will make up the jar
so that no one, except Ali Cogia himself, will know they have been touched.

[Illustration: "A THOUSAND PIECES AT LEAST!"]

SCENE II

TIME: _one month later; a moonlight night_.
PLACE: _a small court opening upon a narrow street of Bagdad_.

* * * * *

THE CALIPH.
THE GRAND VIZIER.
FIRST CHILD, _who plays he is the Cauzee_[Footnote: A Mohammedan judge.]
SECOND CHILD, _who plays he is the officer_.
THIRD CHILD, _who plays he is Ali Cogia_.
ZEYN, _who plays he is the Merchant_.
TWO BOYS, _who play they are Olive Merchants_.
MANY OTHER CHILDREN, _who look on_.

* * * * *

[_The_ CALIPH, _accompanied by his_ GRAND VIZIER, _enters the narrow street
upon which the court opens. They are in disguise, appearing as merchants._]

CALIPH. Perhaps we may hear some talk of this affair of Ali Cogia and the
merchant, as we go through the city to-night.

VIZIER. It is possible, O Commander of the true Believers! The affair has
made a great noise in Bagdad.

CALIPH. Ali Cogia carried the merchant before the Cauzee, I believe.

VIZIER. Yes; he claimed that the merchant had taken from him one thousand
pieces of gold.

CALIPH. Proceed; I would know all.

VIZIER. Ali Cogia left with this merchant, so he says, a jar in which he
had placed this money. Upon his return, which was but yesterday, he went
to the merchant, and, having received the jar, opened it. To his surprise
he found that the gold, which he had hidden below a layer of olives, was no
longer there.

CALIPH. Ah, that is what Ali Cogia says. What says the merchant?

VIZIER. The merchant made oath before the Cauzee that he did not know there
was money in the jar, and so of course could not have taken it.

CALIPH. And the Cauzee dismissed the merchant, I believe.

VIZIER. Yes, Commander of the Faithful, the merchant was acquitted.

CALIPH. This Ali Cogia presented a petition to me to-day, and I promised to
hear him to-morrow. Would that I could know the truth of the matter that I
may give a just sentence!

[_They arrive at the court where several_ CHILDREN _are playing in the
moonlight. The Caliph stops to watch them._]

FIRST CHILD. Let us play that the Cauzee is trying the Merchant.

SECOND CHILD (_joyfully_). Yes, yes!

THIRD CHILD (_joyfully_). Yes, yes!

ALL CHILDREN (_clapping their hands_). Yes, yes!

CALIPH (_softly to Vizier_). Let us sit on this bench. I would know what
these children are playing.

[_They sit, but are not seen by children._]

FIRST CHILD (_taking his seat with great dignity_). I choose to be the
Cauzee!

SECOND CHILD (_taking his place behind the Cauzee_). I choose to be the
Officer!

THIRD CHILD. I choose to be Ali Cogia!

CAUZEE. Who chooses to be the Merchant?

[_Long pause; all the Children hang back._]

CAUZEE. Come, Zeyn, you be the Merchant.

ZEYN. Not I! The part does not please me.

OFFICER. Would you spoil everything, Zeyn?

ZEYN. Oh, well, then, I'll be the Merchant this time.

CAUZEE. Officer, bring in the accused and his accuser.

[_The Officer presents the Merchant and Ali Cogia before the Cauzee._]

CAUZEE. Ali Cogia, what charge have you to make against this Merchant?

ALI COGIA (_bowing_). Sir, when I journeyed from Bagdad seven years ago, I
left with this Merchant a jar. Now, into this jar I had put, with some
olives, a thousand pieces of gold. When I opened the jar, I found that it
had been entirely filled with olives; the gold had disappeared. I beseech
your honor that I may not lose so great a sum of money!

CAUZEE. Merchant, what have you to say to this charge?

MERCHANT. I confess that I had the jar in my house, but Ali Cogia found it
exactly as he had left it. Did he ever tell me there was gold in the jar?
No. He now demands that I pay him one thousand pieces of gold. I wonder
that he does not ask me for diamonds and pearls instead of gold. I will
take my oath that what I say is the truth.

CAUZEE. Not so fast! Before you come to your oath, I should be glad to see
the jar of olives.

(_Turning to Ali Cogia._)

Ali Cogia, have you brought the jar?

ALI COGIA. No; I did not think of that.

CAUZEE. Then go and fetch it.

[_Ali Cogia goes._]

CAUZEE (_to the Merchant_). You thought the jar contained olives all this
time?

MERCHANT. Ali Cogia told me it contained olives at the first. I will take
oath that what I say is the truth.

CAUZEE. We are not yet ready for your oath.

[ALI COGIA _enters. He pretends to set a jar before the Cauzee._]

CAUZEE. Ali Cogia, is this jar the same you left with the Merchant?

ALI COGIA. Sir, it is the same.

CAUZEE. Merchant, do you confess this jar to be the same?

MERCHANT. Sir, it is the same.

CAUZEE. Officer, remove the cover.

(_The Officer pretends to remove the cover._)

These are fine olives! Let me taste them.

(_Pretending to eat an olive._)

They are excellent! But I cannot think that olives will keep seven years
and be so good. Therefore, Officer, bring in Olive Merchants, and let me
hear what is their opinion.

OFFICER (_announcing_). Forward, two Olive Merchants!

[_Two_ BOYS _present themselves_].

CAUZEE. Are you Olive Merchants?

BOYS (_bowing_). Sir, we are.

CAUZEE. Tell me how long olives will keep.

FIRST OLIVE MERCHANT. Let us take what care we can, they will hardly be
worth anything the third year.

SECOND OLIVE MERCHANT. It is true, for then they will have neither taste
nor color.

CAUZEE. If it be so, look into that jar and tell me how long it is since
those olives were put into it.

[_Both Merchants pretend to examine and taste the olives._]

FIRST OLIVE MERCHANT. These olives are new and good.

CAUZEE. You are mistaken. Ali Cogia says he put them into the jar seven
years ago.

SECOND OLIVE MERCHANT. Sir, they are of this year's growth. There is not a
merchant in Bagdad that will not say the same.

CAUZEE. Merchant, you stand accused. You must return the thousand pieces of
gold to Ali Cogia.

MERCHANT. Sir, I protest--

CAUZEE (_interrupting_). Be silent! You are a rogue. Take him to prison,
Officer.

[_All the children seize the Merchant and run from the court, laughing and
shouting._]

CALIPH (_rising_). I know now what will be a just trial. I have learned it
from the child Cauzee. Do you think I could give a better sentence?

VIZIER. I think not, if the case be as these children played it.

CALIPH. Take care to bid Ali Cogia bring his jar of olives to-morrow. And
let two olive merchants attend.

VIZIER. It shall be done, O Commander of true Believers!

CALIPH. If the olives be indeed fresh, then the merchant will receive his
punishment and Ali Cogia his thousand pieces of gold.

(_Starting off; stopping._)

Take notice of this street, and to-morrow present the boy Cauzee with a
purse of gold. Tell him it is a token of my admiration of his wisdom and
justice.

THE WILD SWANS

SCENE I

TIME: _a long time ago_.
PLACE: _on the seashore_.

* * * * *

ELIZA.
THE GOODY.

* * * * *

[_The_ GOODY _is seen walking along the shore._ ELIZA _enters from the
forest._]

GOODY. Bless me! What is the little girl doing in this lonely place? And
alone, too!

ELIZA. I seek my eleven brothers.

GOODY. Ah! Then you must be the Princess Eliza!

ELIZA (_sadly_). Yes, Goody.

GOODY. And the eleven brothers you seek are the eleven little princes!

ELIZA. Yes; do you know them?

GOODY. I saw them in school one day. Each prince wore a golden crown on his
head, a star on his breast, and a sword by his side.

ELIZA (_nodding_). They studied very hard, just as princes should.

GOODY. They wrote on gold slates with diamond pencils. I myself saw them!

ELIZA. I sat on a little stool of plate-glass. Did you know that?

GOODY. Oh, yes! And I know about your picture-book worth half a kingdom.

ELIZA. We were all so happy then! Our dear mother was alive and sometimes
went to school with us. Now all is changed.

GOODY. What has happened?

ELIZA. They have driven us from the palace.

GOODY (_indignantly_). I said so! On the day of that wedding I said so.

ELIZA. Then you know that my father married again?

GOODY. Yes, I know. I wept when I heard our good king had married that
wicked queen.

ELIZA. She drove my brothers away, the very day of the wedding feast.

GOODY. And now she has driven you away!

ELIZA (_nodding_). If only I could find my dear brothers!

GOODY. You may hear something about them very soon.

ELIZA (_quickly_). Do you know where they are? Tell me! I pray you tell me!

GOODY (_shaking her head mysteriously_). I cannot say where they are. I
only know what they are.

ELIZA. I do not understand--

GOODY. The wicked queen has turned your brothers into wild swans.

ELIZA. Wild swans?

GOODY (_nodding_). I saw them yesterday, at sunrise, flying out over the
sea. Each swan wore a gold crown on his head.

ELIZA. The queen could not take their crowns from them!

GOODY. As the swans flew upward, their eleven crowns glittered like eleven
suns. My eyes were dazzled. I was obliged to look away. At that moment the
swans disappeared.

ELIZA (_sadly to herself_). My poor brothers! I shall never see them again.

GOODY (_suddenly_). Do you see those great blue bluffs to the south?

ELIZA. Yes; the sea is dashing against them.

GOODY. In those bluffs, back from the shore, is a cave. Go at once to that
cave and enter.

ELIZA. And what shall I do there, good woman?

GOODY. Perhaps you may learn how to break the spell over your brothers.

ELIZA (_surprised_). How to break the spell?

GOODY. Ask no questions, but go at once to the cave.

ELIZA (_going_). Thank you, good woman. You are very kind to me.

GOODY. Go now, child, and fear nothing.

[_Eliza goes; the Goody disappears._]

SCENE II

TIME: _a half-hour later_.
PLACE: _the cave_.

* * * * *

ELIZA.
THE FAIRY.

* * * * *

[ELIZA _is seen at entrance of cave. She stops; is afraid to enter._]

ELIZA. I am afraid to enter! It is so dark--I know not what is within! It
may be the den of some wild animal.

(_Listening._)

Not a sound do I hear! But wild animals are cunning. They know how to lie
as still as death and then to leap quickly.

(_Pause._)

Well, be it so. I will enter, for I must save my
brothers.

[_She enters the cave._ FAIRY _is within the cave, but invisible._]

FAIRY. You have courage, little Eliza.

ELIZA (_showing relief_). Oh! Are you here, good woman?

FAIRY. Behold!

[_The cave is filled with light; a beautiful Fairy is seen._]

ELIZA. Ah! I thought it was the Goody.

FAIRY. No matter, dear child. I knew you were to come here.

ELIZA. I was afraid to enter.

FAIRY. But you did enter. Your love for your brothers was greater than your
fear.

ELIZA. It was that which gave me courage.

FAIRY. It was a test of your courage. And now I can tell you how to break
the spell over your brothers.

ELIZA. I will do whatever you say.

FAIRY. You will suffer greatly.

ELIZA. What matter, if I save my brothers!

FAIRY (_nodding_). Then listen. Do you see the stinging nettles which I
hold in my hand?

ELIZA. Yes, dear Fairy.

FAIRY. You must gather great quantities of these.

ELIZA. I noticed many of the same sort growing near this cave.

FAIRY (_shaking head_). You must gather only those that grow in graveyards.

ELIZA. It shall be exactly as you say, dear Fairy.

FAIRY. The nettles will make blisters on your hands.

ELIZA. I will not think of myself; I will think only of my brothers.

FAIRY. Break the nettles into pieces with your hands and feet, and they
will become flax. From this flax you must spin and weave eleven coats with
long sleeves. If these eleven coats can be thrown over the eleven swans,
the spell will be broken.

ELIZA. It shall be done.

FAIRY. But remember, that from the moment you begin your task, until it is
finished, you must not speak. Even though it should occupy years of your
life, you must not speak.

ELIZA. I shall remember.

FAIRY. The first word you utter will pierce through the hearts of your
brothers like a dagger. Their lives hang upon your tongue. Go now and begin
your task.

ELIZA (_going_). I go, dear Fairy.

FAIRY. Remember all I have told you, dear child. Farewell!

[_Eliza goes; the cave becomes dark; the Fairy disappears._]

SCENE III

TIME: _two days later_.
PLACE: _a distant country; the King's palace_.

* * * * *

THE KING.
HIS WICKED UNCLE.
ELIZA.
GUARDSMEN.
SERVANTS.

* * * * *

[_The_ WICKED UNCLE _stands waiting to receive the King. Enter the_ KING
_with_ ELIZA. _She is pale and sad._]

WICKED UNCLE. Welcome, your Majesty! Welcome home from your hunt! But who
is this maiden?

KING. I know not, my Uncle.

WICKED UNCLE. What?

KING. My huntsmen found her in a cave in a far-off country.

WICKED UNCLE. In a cave? Alone?

KING (_nodding_). Alone; spinning coats out of flax.

WICKED UNCLE. This is very strange.

(_To Eliza._)

Why were you all alone in a cave, and why were you spinning coats?

(_Eliza shakes her head._)

KING. She is dumb, Uncle. Not a word has she uttered since we found her.

WICKED UNCLE. Why did you bring her with you?

KING. I will make her my queen.

WICKED UNCLE (_angrily_). Your queen?

KING. See how beautiful she is.

WICKED UNCLE (_whispering to King_). She is a witch!

KING. Nonsense! She is as good as she is beautiful.

WICKED UNCLE (_whispering as before_). She has bewitched your heart!

KING. Nonsense, I say! She did not want to leave the cave. She wept
bitterly when I put her on my horse.

(_He turns to the servants._)

Let the music sound! Prepare the wedding feast!

(_He turns to Eliza, who weeps._)

Do not weep, my beautiful maid.

WICKED UNCLE (_whispering to King_). She is not beautiful. She has
bewitched your eyes.

KING. I will not listen to you! Go, bid them ring the church bells.

WICKED UNCLE (_going; speaking aside_). I must poison his heart against her
in some way; else I'll never wear the crown.

[_Wicked Uncle goes._]

KING (_to Eliza_). Do not weep. You shall be dressed in silks and velvets
and I will place a golden crown upon your head.

(_Eliza weeps and wrings her hands._)

Well, then, I know how to make you smile.

[_The King opens a door into an inner room. Eliza looks in, smiles, and
claps her hands for joy._]

KING. I thought 't would make you happy! 'T is very like your cave--I had
it made so.

(_Eliza tries to thank King with her eyes._)

But no more spinning! Your fingers shall be covered with diamonds instead
of blisters.

(_Eliza sighs very sadly._)

Something troubles you, little queen. If you could only tell me of your
grief!

(_Eliza shakes her head sadly._)

Well, I can at least save you from a life of labor. You shall be most
tenderly cared for.

(_Calling._)

Ho, there, Guardsmen!

(_Enter_ GUARDSMEN.)

Guardsmen, behold your queen!

(_Guards kneel before Eliza._)

Guardsmen, arise and hear my commands.

(_Guards rise._)

Your queen is never to do any of the work about the castle. Do you hear me,
Guardsmen?

GUARDSMEN (_bowing_). We hear, O King!

KING. Not even the spinning or weaving. Do you hear me, Guardsmen?

GUARDSMEN (_bowing_). We hear, O King!

KING. Those are my commands. Now attend us to the banquet-hall.

(_To Eliza, who is weeping._)

Weep no more, little queen. I wish only your happiness. Come, give me your
hand. We go now to the wedding feast.

[_They go out, the Guards attending._]

SCENE IV

TIME: _two weeks later; sunrise_.
PLACE: _the open just without the town gate_.

* * * * *

THE GOODY.
THE WICKED UNCLE.
THE KING.
ELIZA.
HER ELEVEN BROTHERS.
THE EXECUTIONER.
FIRST CITIZEN.
SECOND CITIZEN.
THIRD CITIZEN.
FOURTH CITIZEN.
GUARDS.

* * * * *

[_Enter crowds of people from the town gate. Enter the_ GOODY _from the
forest. Enter the_ WICKED UNCLE _from the town gate._]

GOODY (_to Wicked Uncle_). Why these crowds so early, sir?

WICKED UNCLE. Do not call me 'sir.'

GOODY. What shall I say, sir?

WICKED UNCLE. Say, 'Your Highness.'

GOODY. But you are not the King, sir.

WICKED UNCLE. I'm very near it, old woman.

GOODY. Not so near, sir, as you were, sir. There is the new queen, sir.

WICKED UNCLE. The new queen is about to die.

GOODY (_alarmed_). About to die?

WICKED UNCLE (_nodding_). Aye, because she's a witch. They're bringing her
out here now.

GOODY. The King permits it?

WICKED UNCLE (_nodding_). He soon found out the truth about her.

GOODY. And what was that?

WICKED UNCLE. Just what I told him the first time I saw her. "She's a
witch," said I, but he would not believe me.

GOODY. What has so changed him?

WICKED UNCLE. 'T was I who saw her slip forth from the castle one midnight.
I followed her; straight to the graveyard she went.

GOODY. To the graveyard?

WICKED UNCLE (_nodding_). In she went--I following. I saw her gather the
stinging nettles that grow there.

GOODY. But they would blister her hands. Did she not cry out?

WICKED UNCLE. Not a sound did she utter! That would prove her a witch, were
there nothing more.

GOODY. Ah, there is something more, then?

WICKED UNCLE (_nodding; mysteriously_). I followed her back to the castle;
through the marble halls and up to the little cave room. I saw her break up
the nettles. Then I saw her spin and weave this flax into a magic coat.

GOODY. Bless me! A magic coat?

WICKED UNCLE (_nodding_). There were ten of them hanging from the ceiling.

GOODY. Of course you told the King?

WICKED UNCLE. Just as soon as I could waken him, but he would not believe
me. He said there was but one coat when they brought her here, and that
there could be but one now.

GOODY. She worked at night, then, while the castle slept.

WICKED UNCLE. True queens do not work--nay, can't be made to work. Every
one knows that.

GOODY. But how did the King find out the truth?

WICKED UNCLE. I persuaded him to watch with me the next night. Just at
midnight the queen came out. We followed her to the graveyard. "That is
enough," said his Majesty, "she is a witch and must die."

[_The_ CITIZENS _rush to the gates._]

CITIZENS (_calling_). See the witch!

GOODY. Is she coming?

WICKED UNCLE (_looking_). Yes, she is just within the gate. She rides in an
old cart drawn by an old horse--quite good enough for a witch.

[_Enter the_ KING _with servants and_ GUARDS. _Behind them is the cart. In
the cart sits_ ELIZA. _She is spinning and weaving, never once looking
up._]

GOODY. How pale she is! Bless me! She is spinning and weaving.

WICKED UNCLE. It is the eleventh coat and it will be the last.

GOODY. How she hurries to finish it!

[_The cart stops._]

KING (_to Eliza_). Once again I ask you,--Are you a witch?

(_Eliza shakes her head._)

Then give up the coats. They are of no use to any one.

[_Eliza again shakes her head._]

WICKED UNCLE. That proves her a witch! Else, she would give up the coats.

KING (_to Eliza_). Once more,--Will you not give them up?

[_Eliza shakes her head. The King turns away. He is very sad; his eyes are
filled with tears._]

FIRST CITIZEN (_calling_). See the witch!

SECOND CITIZEN (_calling_). See her magic coats!

THIRD CITIZEN (_calling_). Let us tear them to pieces!

FOURTH CITIZEN (_calling_). At them, Citizens! Tear them to shreds!

GOODY (_looking up; speaking aside_). Here come the Wild Swans! Now we
shall see what we shall see!

[ELEVEN WILD SWANS _descend from the sky and alight on the cart. Each wears
a golden crown._]

FIRST CITIZEN. Back, Citizens, back! Wild Swans have alighted on the cart!

FOURTH CITIZEN. What do we care for Wild Swans? Forward, Citizens!

FIRST CITIZEN. Back, I say! The Swans are beating us with their strong
wings!

SECOND CITIZEN. Back! back, Citizens! We dare not approach the cart!

GOODY (_calling to the people_). The Swans have come to save the queen! 'T
is a sign from heaven that she is innocent!

WICKED UNCLE (_angrily_). Be silent, old woman!

(_He turns to the Executioner._)

Executioner, do your duty!

EXECUTIONER. Out of the cart, witch!

(_Eliza shakes her head; takes up coats from floor of cart. The Executioner
turns to the Wicked Uncle._)

She will not come!

WICKED UNCLE. Seize her--I command you!

FIRST CITIZEN. Seize her! Seize her!

GOODY. Look, Citizens, look! She is spreading the coats over the Swans!

[_Eliza throws the eleven coats over the eleven Swans, who turn to eleven
little princes, but the youngest has a swan's wing instead of an arm, for
the last sleeve was not finished._]

FIRST CITIZEN. Do you see that, Citizens? They are princes! She has saved
them!

SECOND CITIZEN. She is no witch!

THIRD CITIZEN. She is an angel from heaven!

THE ELEVEN BROTHERS. Dear sister, you have saved us!

ELIZA. Now I may speak--I am innocent!

ELDEST BROTHER (_to King_). Yes, she is innocent!

NINTH BROTHER. How you have suffered for us, dear Eliza!

CITIZENS (_to Eliza_). Forgive us!

KING (_to Eliza_). Forgive me! I did not understand.

WICKED UNCLE (_annoyed, but trying to conceal it_). And I did not
understand, I--

KING (_sternly_). Be silent!

(_To Guards._)

Seize him!

(_The Guards seize the Wicked Uncle._)

Take him to the mountains where the stinging nettles grow.

WICKED UNCLE. Mercy! Mercy!

KING. You had no mercy on brave little Eliza! Now you shall gather nettles
for the rest of your life. Away with him, Guardsmen!

(_The Guards take the Wicked Uncle away. The King turns to his servants._)

Let the music sound! Bring forth the queen's golden crown!

(_To Eliza._)

My whole kingdom shall do you honor! This land has never seen a more
beautiful thing than your love for your brothers.

GOODY (_whispering aside_). Ring, church bells! Ring of yourselves!

[_All the church bells are heard ringing._]

CITIZENS. Hear the church bells! They ring of themselves!

KING. They ring for this sweet queen whose heart is as good as her face is
beautiful. Come, Citizens! Away now to the castle! Away to the
banquet-hall!

THE TWO COUNTRYMEN

SCENE I

TIME: _evening_.
PLACE: _a large city; a quiet corner with a high wall back_.

* * * * *

FIRST COUNTRYMAN.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN.
FIRST CITY WAG.
SECOND CITY WAG.
MERCHANT.

* * * * *

[_Great crowds of people are seen in the streets. The_ TWO COUNTRYMEN _have
just arrived. They find a quiet corner where they place their blankets and
baskets of gourds which they carry._]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. I fear something most dreadful must have happened in that
street. See what crowds of people pass that way!

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Perhaps there is a fire. And yet--

[_He stops, showing he is puzzled._]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_anxiously_). What troubles thee?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Look thou into that other street! It, too, is full of
people, and yet none are gone from here.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Some awful accident hath called them from all parts of
the city. We must find out what it may be.

[_A_ MERCHANT _passes._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_to Merchant_). I pray thee stop, citizen.

(_The Merchant stops._)

Canst thou tell us what dreadful thing hath befallen this city?

MERCHANT. What do you mean?

[TWO CITY WAGS _pass; they stop to listen._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Whither do they go, these vast multitudes? What dreadful
thing go they to see?

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Perhaps they flee from some monster just come out of the
sea?

MERCHANT. It is ever thus--always the great crowds surging through the
streets.

[_The Merchant goes._]

SECOND WAG (_to Countrymen, winking aside at First Wag_). This is your
first visit to a city, I take it?

BOTH COUNTRYMEN (_bowing_). It is, good sirs.

FIRST WAG (_winking aside at Second Wag_). You know what happens to
strangers in our city, of course?

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_anxiously_). No, good sir.

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_anxiously_). Pray tell us what it may be.

FIRST WAG. 'T is said they become so dazed by the noise of the city and the
rush of such countless numbers, they forget who they are.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Eh? Forget who they are?

FIRST WAG (_nodding_). Aye.

(_He winks aside at Second Wag._)

You have heard of this, dear friend?

SECOND WAG (_winking aside_). To be sure; 't is quite common.

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Forget their own faces?

SECOND WAG. Aye,--their faces. At least, they are not certain as to whose
faces theirs may be.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Then we dare not leave this corner!

FIRST WAG. I would not advise it.

SECOND WAG. It would be most unsafe,--at least for to-night.

FIRST WAG. Of course there is this danger,--when you awake in the morning
you may not know whether you are yourselves.

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Would that I had never left my farm!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Would that I had never left my wife!

SECOND WAG. Do not despair; there is a way out of your troubles.

BOTH COUNTRYMEN. Tell us, we pray thee!

SECOND WAG. Each of you must take a gourd from his basket there and tie it
around his ankle. Then, in the morning, when you awake, you will each know
that it is yourself and none other.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_to Second Countryman, joyfully_). Dost thou hear? By our
gourds we shall know!

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_joyfully_). I hear! Thanks and yet again more thanks to
thee, good sir!

[_The Wags turn to go._]

FIRST WAG. May you know yourselves in the morning for what you truly are!

[Illustration: THE TWO COUNTRYMEN]

[_They go, laughing aside. Each Countryman ties a gourd around his ankle,
wraps his blanket round him, and lies down. They sleep. Pause.

Enter the_ WAGS _softly, each carrying a small flag. They remove the gourds
from Countrymen's ankles and hide them under their blankets. They then tie
the flags around Countrymen's ankles and go, greatly pleased with their
joke._]

SCENE II

TIME: _the next morning_.
PLACE: _same as Scene I_.

* * * * *

FIRST COUNTRYMAN.
SECOND COUNTRYMAN.
FIRST CITY WAG.
SECOND CITY WAG.

* * * * *

[_The_ WAGS _are seen peeping around the corner._]

FIRST WAG (_softly_). They are sound asleep.

SECOND WAG (_softly_). Then come.

[_They enter and throw the two baskets of gourds over the wall. They then
retire around the corner, peeping as before._]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_waking; shaking Second Countryman_). Wake up! Wake up!

[_Each yawns; stretches; throws off his blanket; arises._]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_remembering_). Ah, the gourds!

[_Each looks at his ankle, then at the other's ankle._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. How's this!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Did we not tie gourds around our ankles?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_nodding_). Why, surely we did.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_looking about_). Did we not have two baskets of gourds
with us?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_nodding_). Surely; there in the corner.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_holding up foot to which flag is tied_). Is this a gourd
or is it not a gourd?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Of a surety it is a flag.

(_Holding up his foot with flag._)

And if this be not a gourd, keep thy silence.

[_The First Countryman stares at the flag, placing his finger on his closed
lips._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Then it hath indeed happened!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. What hath happened?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. The dreadful thing foretold by the citizens. I am not I!
Thou art not thou!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_trembling with fear_). How can that be?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. I know not. I only know that it is.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_weeping_). I cannot think I am not myself!

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_weeping_). Thou needst must think it, whether thou
wouldst or no.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Dost thou indeed think thou art some other person?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. If I were myself, would not the gourd still be around my
ankle?

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Then who art thou? And who am I?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Alas! I know not.

[_Enter the_ WAGS.]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_joyfully_). Here come those who will know whether we are
ourselves!

[_The Wags pretend not to know the Countrymen who are bowing before them.
They pass on._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Stop, good sirs!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. A word with thee!

[_The Wags stop._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Dost thou not know us?

FIRST WAG. I have not that pleasure.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Thou didst talk with us but yester-eve!

SECOND WAG. Some mistake, I fear, my good man.

[_The Wags start off._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_weeping_). Wait! I pray thee, wait!

(_The Wags stop._)

Canst thou not tell us who we are?

FIRST WAG. Do you not know yourselves?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Alas! we are not ourselves.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Thou wouldst know us were we as we were once.

SECOND WAG. Perhaps those flags will solve the riddle.

FIRST WAG. True enough; let us look at them.

[_The Countrymen remove flags and hand them to Wags, who look at them
intently._]

SECOND WAG (_mysteriously_). Can it be?

FIRST WAG. It is! It is!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Eh?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Eh?

SECOND WAG (_to Countrymen_). Your pardon! I do crave your pardon!

FIRST WAG (_taking a ring from his finger; turning to Second Countryman_).
Please to accept this ring. I shall then know I am forgiven for not
recognizing you at first.

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_accepting ring; putting it on the first finger of his
right hand_). Why, yes, I forgive thee.

SECOND WAG (_to First Countryman, taking off his gold chain_). Please to
accept this chain. By that I shall know I too am forgiven.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_accepting chain; putting it on_). Thou art forgiven. Now
tell me what great person I have become.

SECOND WAG (_gravely_). Jest with us no more!

FIRST WAG. We go now to announce your arrival to the Lord Mayor.

SECOND WAG. Presently, we will return. Await us here.

[_They go, laughing aside._]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Dost thou know, I have always felt that I was really a
great person. Hast thou not always noticed something unusual about me?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. I cannot say that I have. There is, however, certainly
something wonderful about me. I have noticed it for a long time. Hast thou
not felt it when in my company?

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. I have not.

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_indignantly_). Thou hast not?

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Never! thou silly goose!

[_The Second Countryman snatches First Countryman's chain and throws it
over the wall._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Mind how thou callest me names, thou booby!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_tearing off Second Countryman's ring and throwing it
over the wall_). Silly goose!

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. I will now depart for my home. I do not desire thy
company.

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. I likewise will return, and likewise I wish to journey
alone.

[_They take up their blankets and discover the gourds._]

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Eh?

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Eh?

FIRST COUNTRYMAN. Let us tie them around our ankles. We may then discover
whether we are ourselves.

[_They tie the gourds around their ankles._]

SECOND COUNTRYMAN (_joyfully_). I am myself!

FIRST COUNTRYMAN (_joyfully_). And I am myself!

SECOND COUNTRYMAN. Come, let us journey back together.

[_They go out. Pause. Enter the_ WAGS. _They remain at entrance, not
knowing Countrymen have gone._]

FIRST WAG (_whispering_). Do you think the musicians should follow them?

SECOND WAG (_whispering_). No, they should follow the music. What a joke it
is!

[_They look around and discover that the Countrymen have gone._]

FIRST WAG (_sadly_). My ring!

SECOND WAG (_sadly_). My chain!

THE MAN AND THE ALLIGATOR

SCENE I

TIME: _the morning after the cyclone_.
PLACE: _The Man's garden_.

* * * * *

THE MAN.
THE ALLIGATOR.

* * * * *

[_The_ MAN _enters the garden carrying his big stick and small net. The
garden has been almost destroyed by the_ ALLIGATOR, _who still wallows
among the beds._]

MAN. There should be enough apples on the ground to fill my net. 'T was a
fierce storm last night!

(_He looks about; sees the Alligator; shows indignation._)

Thou--within my garden!

ALLIGATOR (_meekly_). Be not angry with me, O master! By accident I--

MAN (_indignantly_). Accident! Thou hast wallowed among my flowers by
accident, hast thou?

ALLIGATOR. It is true; not of my own will came I hither.

MAN (_more indignantly_). Thou hast broken my fruit trees by accident, I
suppose!

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). It was not of my own intentions, I assure you. I--

MAN (_interrupting_). Thou art this moment crushing my strawberry plants
beneath thy great body! I've a mind to beat thee with my big stick!

ALLIGATOR. Do not beat me, O master! The cyclone is at fault.

MAN (_surprised_). The cyclone?

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). Aye, it blew me here from the river last night.

MAN. Ha, ha! A likely story!

ALLIGATOR. I speak the truth. A great waterspout lifted me out of the
river. Then a fierce wind caught me and blew me about as if I were a
feather. Finally, I was dropped here within thy garden.

MAN (_only half convinced_). Well, there's no cyclone to blow thee back.
Wilt thou be good enough to walk thyself out?

ALLIGATOR. Alas! I can scarcely move me. I fear some of my ribs are broken.

MAN. Nonsense! Out with thee!

ALLIGATOR. But see how the wind has crippled me! It has even blown some of
my claws loose--

MAN (_interrupting_). I am sorry for thee, but thou canst not remain here.

ALLIGATOR. I will go now, if thou wilt help me.

MAN (_surprised_). _I_ help thee?

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). I will be so grateful to thee!

MAN. Oh, I know how grateful thou canst be! The other animals have told me
that!

ALLIGATOR. What say they?

MAN. That thou art the most cruel of all the animals--that thou never dost
any one a favor--

ALLIGATOR (_interrupting_). Nonsense! No one could be more grateful for
favors than I! I'll prove it to thee!

MAN. Prove it? How?

ALLIGATOR. If thou wilt help me to the river, I'll show thee where to find
the biggest fish.

MAN. Well--that's something--

ALLIGATOR. And when thou wouldst cross the river, I'll carry thee.

MAN. Of a surety, that's good of thee! Perhaps, after all, thou art not so
black as thou art painted. I'll help thee this time.

ALLIGATOR. Thanks to thee, master. I will never forget thy kindness; I will
always be thy friend.

MAN. Why, I am glad to help thee. Now how am I to get thee to the river?

ALLIGATOR. Carry me, please, O master!

MAN. What! carry thee?

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). I'll get into thy net.

MAN. Thou get into my small net!

ALLIGATOR. Only hold thy net open!

MAN (_holding his net open_). I tell thee, thou canst never get in!

ALLIGATOR. See how I fold my arms! My legs go under--so! Now I roll myself
up and up and up! And now I am in--all in!

MAN. Well, seeing is believing!

ALLIGATOR. Please to tie up thy net, master, that I may not fall out.

MAN (_tying net_). 'T is done!

(_Throwing net over shoulder._)

Thou art heavy!

ALLIGATOR. I know, it will be hard work for thee, but some day thou wilt
see how grateful I am.

[_The Man goes, carrying the Alligator over his shoulder and his big stick
in his hand._]

SCENE II

TIME: _the afternoon of the same day_.
PLACE: _the river bank_.

* * * * *

THE MAN.
THE ALLIGATOR.
THE WOLF.
THE LEOPARD.
THE RABBIT.

* * * * *

[_Enter the_ MAN _carrying the_ ALLIGATOR _over his shoulder. He stops,
throws down his big stick and places the Alligator carefully on the bank._]

MAN. Our journey is ended, brother.

(_Untying net._)

Now then, roll thyself out!

(_The Alligator comes out of the net._)

Well, how dost thou feel now?

ALLIGATOR. Much better, thanks to thee; but I'm very hungry and I find I'm
still quite weak. I pray thee help me down the bank, O master!

MAN (_helping the Alligator down the bank_). Now, then, thou art close to
the water.

[_He turns to go._]

ALLIGATOR. Just a little farther, please. I am still so weak!

MAN. Then I'll help thee into the water.

(_He helps the Alligator into the water._)

Now thou art in; and now I will depart.

[_He turns to go._]

ALLIGATOR (_seizing the Man's leg_). Not yet!

MAN. Let go of my leg!

ALLIGATOR. Why?

MAN (_indignantly_). Why! Why!

ALLIGATOR (nodding_). Why and wherefore?

MAN. Thou art hurting me!

ALLIGATOR. It will soon be over.

MAN. What dost thou mean?

ALLIGATOR. What I have just spoken.

MAN. Why dost thou look at me so?

ALLIGATOR (_slowly_). Because--I--mean--to--eat--thee.

MAN. Eat me!

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). Eat thee.

MAN. Me?

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). Thee.

MAN. Thou didst promise to be my friend.

ALLIGATOR. I was only fooling thee.

MAN. But I helped thee out of trouble.

ALLIGATOR. No matter--I mean to eat thee.

MAN. Is that the way to repay a favor--by doing a wrong?

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). That's the way of all the animals.

MAN. Thou art surely mistaken--not all the animals--

ALLIGATOR (_interrupting_). There's not one of them remembers a favor or a
friend when hungry.

MAN. I cannot think that! Suppose we ask the first animal that comes to
drink?

ALLIGATOR. Ask any of them--I know what they will say.

[_Enter the_ WOLF. _He comes down the bank to drink._]

MAN. Wolf, I would question thee.

WOLF (_gruffly_). Well?

MAN. How dost thou repay the one who doth thee a favor?

WOLF (_gruffly, as before_). By doing him a wrong.

[_The Wolf drinks and goes._]

ALLIGATOR. Ha, ha, ha! Just what I said! Now I shall eat thee forthwith!

MAN. I can't believe that every animal would so answer.

ALLIGATOR. I don't intend waiting for thee to find out.

MAN. I pray thee wait till the next animal comes to drink!

ALLIGATOR (_impatiently_). Have I not told thee of my hunger?

MAN. Listen! Some animal comes through the forest now.

[_Enter the_ LEOPARD. _He comes down to drink._]

Leopard, I would question thee.

LEOPARD (_curtly_). Well?

MAN. How dost thou repay the one who doth thee a favor?

LEOPARD (_curtly, as before_). By doing him a wrong.

[_He drinks and goes._]

ALLIGATOR. Ha, ha, ha! It is just as I said! I will now eat thee forthwith!

MAN. I pray thee--

ALLIGATOR (_interrupting_). It is now all over with thee!

MAN (_calling_). Help! help!

[_Enter the_ RABBIT.]

RABBIT. A word with thee, Ally dear!

ALLIGATOR. I shall be busy for a few minutes, Brother Rabbit.

RABBIT (_going down bank quickly_). Who is this thou art about to dine
upon? Why, 't is the Man!

MAN. How dost thou repay a favor, Brother Rabbit?

RABBIT. Why dost thou ask?

MAN. I found the Alligator in my garden this morning. He had destroyed my
plants, my fruits, and--

ALLIGATOR (_interrupting_). I was blown in by the cyclone last night.

MAN. He said he had been hurt and begged me to help him to the river. He
promised me his friendship if I would do so.

ALLIGATOR. Ha, ha, ha! I told him I'd show him where to find the biggest
fish.

RABBIT. And now thou wilt not?

ALLIGATOR. But I will. He'll find it after he is _inside_ of me. Ha, ha!

RABBIT. Ha, ha! A good joke!

ALLIGATOR. I told him I'd carry him across the river. I didn't explain he'd
go _inside_. Ha, ha!

RABBIT. What a joker thou art, Ally dear!

(_He turns to the Man._)

But how didst thou get him here?

MAN. I carried him in this small net.

RABBIT (_looking surprised_). Thou art trying to fool me!

MAN. No, Brother Rabbit, it is quite true.

ALLIGATOR (_nodding_). Yes, it is true.

RABBIT. But, Ally, try as thou mightst, thou couldst not so much as get thy
head into that net.

[Illustration: "HELP! HELP!"]

ALLIGATOR. But I tell thee I did!

RABBIT. Ha, ha, ha! That's too funny!

ALLIGATOR (_angrily_). I do not like thy manners, young man.

RABBIT. But it's such a joke! Ho, ho, ho!

ALLIGATOR. Cease thy laughing or I shall eat thee some day!

RABBIT. I laugh because I must laugh! Ha, ha, ho, ho!

ALLIGATOR. Thou wilt not believe it, eh?

RABBIT. Well, not unless I see it.

MAN. We can prove it to thee, Brother Rabbit.

RABBIT. Oh, that's good too! Ha, ha, ho!

ALLIGATOR. Dost thou think we cannot?

RABBIT. Of course thou canst not! If thou couldst, thou wouldst.

ALLIGATOR. And we will! Get thy net ready, Man.

MAN. But how? Thou art holding my leg.

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