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"Miss Prendergast"
by [?]

As the curtain goes up two ladies are discovered in the morning-room of Honeysuckle Lodge engaged in work of a feminine nature. Miss Alice Prendergast is doing something delicate with a crochet-hook, but it is obvious that her thoughts are far away. She sighs at intervals, and occasionally lays down her work and presses both hands to her heart. A sympathetic audience will have no difficulty in guessing that she is in love. On the other hand, her elder sister, Miss Prendergast, is completely wrapped up in a sock for one of the poorer classes, over which she frowns formidably. The sock, however, has no real bearing upon the plot, and she must not make too much of it.

Alice (hiding her emotions). Did you have a pleasant dinner-party last night, Jane?

Jane (to herself). Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. (Looking up.) Very pleasant indeed, Alice. The Blizzards were there, and the Podbys, and the Slumphs. (These people are not important and should not be over-emphasized.) Mrs Podby’s maid has given notice.

Alice. Who took you in?

Jane (brightening up). Such an interesting man, my dear. He talked most agreeably about Art during dinner, and we renewed the conversation in the drawing-room. We found that we agreed upon all the main principles of Art, considered as such.

Alice (with a look in her eyes which shows that she is recalling a tender memory). When I was in Shropshire last week–What was your man’s name?

Jane (with a warning glance at the audience). You know how difficult it is to catch names when one is introduced. I am certain he never heard mine. (As the plot depends partly upon this, she pauses for it to sink in.) But I inquired about him afterwards, and I find that he is a Mr–

Enter Mary, the Parlour-maid.

Mary (handing letter). A letter for you, miss.

Jane (taking it). Thank you, Mary. (Exit Mary to work up her next line.) A letter! I wonder who it is from! (Reading the envelope.) “Miss Prendergast, Honeysuckle Lodge.” (She opens it with the air of one who has often received letters before, but feels that this one may play an important part in her life.) “Dear Miss Prendergast, I hope you will pardon the presumption of what I am about to write to you, but whether you pardon me or not, I ask you to listen to me. I know of no woman for whose talents I have a greater admiration, or for whose qualities I have a more sincere affection than yourself. Since I have known you, you have been the lodestar of my existence, the fountain of my inspiration. I feel that, were your life joined to mine, the joint path upon which we trod would be the path to happiness, such as I have as yet hardly dared to dream of. In short, dear Miss Prendergast, I ask you to marry me, and I will come in person for my answer. Yours truly–” (In a voice of intense surprise) “Jas. Bootle!”

[At the word “Bootle,” a wave of warm colour rushes over Alice and dyes her from neck to brow. If she is not an actress of sufficient calibre to ensure this, she must do the best she can by starting abruptly and putting her hand to her throat.

Alice (aside, in a choking voice). Mr Bootle! In love with Jane!

Jane. My dear! The man who took me down to dinner! Well!

Alice (picking up her work again and trying to be calm). What will you say?

Jane (rather pleased with herself). Well, really–I–this is–Mr Bootle! Fancy!

Alice (starting up). Was that a ring? (She frowns at the prompter and a bell is heard to ring.) It is Mr Bootle! I know his ring, I mean I know–Dear, I think I will go and lie down. I have a headache.

[She looks miserably at the audience, closes her eyes, and goes off with her handkerchief to her mouth, taking care not to fall over the furniture.