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Five O’Clock Tea: Farce
by [?]

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. It’s snowing like–“

Mrs. Somers, running to the window, and peeping out through the side of the curtain: “It is! like–cats and dogs!”

Campbell:“Oh no! You can’t say that! It only rains that way. I was going to say it myself, but I stopped in time.”

Mrs. Somers, standing before the window with clasped hands: “No matter! There will simply be nobody but bores. They come in any sort of weather.”