**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


A Singular "hamlet"
by [?]

“Walk in,” said he, taking in $2 and giving back 50 cents in change to a man with a dead cat in his overcoat pocket.

I went back, and springing lightly over the iron railing while the gatekeeper was thinking over his glorious past, I went all around over the theater looking for Mr. Fox. I found him haggling over the price of some vegetables which he was selling at the stage door and which had been contributed by admirers and old subscribers to Mr. O’Connor at a previous performance.

When Mr. Fox got through with that I presented to him my card, which is as good a piece of job work in colors as was ever done west of the Missouri river, and to which I frequently point with pride.

Mr. Fox said he was sorry, but that Mr. O’Connor had instructed him to extend no courtesies whatever to the press. The press, he claimed, had said something derogatory to Mr. O’Connor as a tragedian, and while he personally would be tickled to death to give me two divans and a folding-bed near the large fiddle, he must do as Mr. O’Connor had bid–or bade him, I forget which; and so, restraining his tears with great difficulty, he sent me back to the entrance and although I was already admitted in a general way, I went to the box office and purchased a seat. I believe now that Mr. Fox thought he had virtually excluded me from the house when he told me I should have to pay in order to get in.

I bought a seat in the parquet and went in. The audience was not large and there were not more than a dozen ladies present.

Pretty soon the orchestra began to ooze in through a little opening under the stage. Then the overture was given. It was called “Egmont.” The curtain now arose on a scene in Denmark. I had asked an usher to take a note to Mr. O’Connor requesting an audience, but the boy had returned with the statement that Mr. O’Connor was busy rehearsing his soliloquy and removing a shirred egg from his outer clothing.

He also said he could not promise an audience to any one. It was all he could do to get one for himself.

So the play went on. Elsinore, where the first act takes place, is in front of a large stone water tank, where two gentlemen armed with long-handled hay knives are on guard.

All at once a ghost who walks with an overstrung Chickering action and stiff, jerky, Waterbury movement, comes in, wearing a dark mosquito net over his head–so that harsh critics can not truly say there are any flies on him, I presume. When the ghost enters most every one enjoys it. Nobody seems to be frightened at all. I knew it was not a ghost as quick as I looked at it. One man in the gallery hit the ghost on the head with a soda cracker, which made him jump and feel of his ear; so I knew then that it was only a man made up to look like a presence.

One of the guards, whose name, I think, was Smith, had a droop to his legs and an instability about the knees which were highly enjoyable. He walked like a frozen-toed hen, and stood first on one foot and then on the other, with almost human intelligence. His support was about as poor as O’Connor’s.

After awhile the ghost vanished with what is called a stately tread, but I would regard it more as a territorial tread. Horatio did quite well, and the audience frequently listened to him. Still, he was about the only one who did not receive crackers or cheese as a slight testimonial of regard from admirers in the audience.

Finally, Mr. James Owen O’Connor entered. It was fully five minutes before he could be heard, and even then he could not. His mouth moved now and then, and a gesture would suddenly burst forth, but I did not hear what he said. At least I could not hear distinctly what he said. After awhile, as people got tired and went away, I could hear better.