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´╗┐Title: Freezing a Mother-in-Law - or Suspended Animation; A farce in one act
Author: Pemberton, Thomas Edgar
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Freezing a Mother-in-Law - or Suspended Animation; A farce in one act" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



NO PLAYS EXCHANGED.

BAKER'S EDITION OF PLAYS


Freezing a Mother-in-Law


WALTER H. BAKER & CO.
BOSTON

COPYRIGHT, 1889, BY WALTER H. BAKER & CO.



Transcriber's Note:

Words printed in italics are noted with underscores; _italics_. Words
printed in bold are noted with tildes; ~bold~.



Plays for Amateur Theatricals.

BY GEORGE M. BAKER

_Author of "Amateur Dramas," "The Mimic Stage," "The Social Stage,"
"The Drawing-Room Stage," "Handy Dramas," "The Exhibition Dramas," "A
Baker's Dozen," etc._

    ~Titles in this Type are New Plays.~

    ~_Titles in this Type are Temperance Plays._~


DRAMAS.

_In Four Acts._

~Better than Gold.~ 7 male, 4 female char.                       25


_In Three Acts._

~Our Folks.~ 6 male, 5 female char.                              15

~The Flower of the Family.~ 5 male, 3 female char.               15

ENLISTED FOR THE WAR. 7 male, 3 female char.                     15

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER. 5 male, 3 female char.                      15

~_The Little Brown Jug._~ 5 male, 3 female char.                 15


_In Two Acts._

~Above the Clouds.~ 7 male, 3 female char.                       15

~One Hundred Years Ago.~ 7 male, 4 female char.                  15

AMONG THE BREAKERS. 6 male, 4 female char.                       15

BREAD ON THE WATERS. 5 male, 3 female char.                      15

DOWN BY THE SEA. 6 male, 3 female char.                          15

ONCE ON A TIME. 4 male, 2 female char.                           15

~_The Last Loaf._~ 5 male, 3 female char.                        15


_In One Act._

STAND BY THE FLAG. 5 male char.                                  15

~_The Tempter._~ 3 male, 1 female char.                          15


COMEDIES AND FARCES.

~A Mysterious Disappearance.~ 4 male, 3 female char.             15

~Paddle Your Own Canoe.~ 7 male, 3 female char.                  15

~_A Drop too Much._~ 4 male, 2 female char.                      15

~_A Little More Cider._~ 5 male, 3 female char.                  15

A THORN AMONG THE ROSES. 2 male, 6 female char.                  15

NEVER SAY DIE. 3 male, 3 female char.                            15

SEEING THE ELEPHANT. 6 male, 3 female char.                      15

THE BOSTON DIP. 4 male, 3 female char.                           15

THE DUCHESS OF DUBLIN. 6 male, 4 female char.                    15

THIRTY MINUTES FOR REFRESHMENTS. 4 male, 3 female
char.                                                            15

~_We're all Teetotalers._~ 4 male, 2 female char.                15


_Male Characters Only._

A CLOSE SHAVE. 6 char.                                           15

A PUBLIC BENEFACTOR. 6 char.                                     15

A SEA OF TROUBLES. 8 char.                                       15

A TENDER ATTACHMENT. 7 char.                                     15

COALS OF FIRE. 6 char.                                           15

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. 8 char.                                    15

~Shall Our Mothers Vote?~ 11 char.                               15

GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY. 12 char.                                  15

HUMORS OF THE STRIKE. 8 char.                                    15

MY UNCLE THE CAPTAIN. 6 char.                                    15

NEW BROOMS SWEEP CLEAN. 6 char.                                  15

THE GREAT ELIXIR. 9 char.                                        15

THE HYPOCHONDRIAC. 3 char.                                       15

~_The Man with the Demijohn._~ 4 char.                           15

THE RUNAWAYS. 4 char.                                            15

THE THIEF OF TIME. 6 char.                                       15

WANTED, A MALE COOK. 4 char.                                     15


_Female Characters Only._

A LOVE OF A BONNET. 5 char.                                      15

A PRECIOUS PICKLE. 6 char.                                       15

NO CURE NO PAY. 7 char.                                          15

THE CHAMPION OF HER SEX. 8 char.                                 15

THE GREATEST PLAGUE IN LIFE. 8 char.                             15

THE GRECIAN BEND. 7 char.                                        15

THE RED CHIGNON. 6 char.                                         15

USING THE WEED. 7 char.                                          15


ALLEGORIES.

_Arranged for Music and Tableaux._

LIGHTHART'S PILGRIMAGE. 8 female char.                           15

THE REVOLT OF THE BEES. 9 female char.                           15

THE SCULPTOR'S TRIUMPH. 1 male, 4 female char.                   15

THE TOURNAMENT OF IDYLCOURT. 10 female char.                     15

THE WAR OF THE ROSES. 8 female char.                             15

THE VOYAGE OF LIFE. 8 female char.                               15


MUSICAL AND DRAMATIC.

AN ORIGINAL IDEA. 1 male, 1 female.                              15

BONBONS; OR, THE PAINT KING. 6 male, 1 female char.              25

CAPULETTA; OR, ROMEO AND JULIET 15 RESTORED. 3 male,
1 female char.                                                   15

SANTA CLAUS' FROLICS.                                            15

SNOW-BOUND; OR, ALONZO THE BRAVE AND THE FAIR IMOGENE.
3 male, 1 female char.                                           25

THE MERRY CHRISTMAS OF THE OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A
SHOE.                                                            15

THE PEDLER OF VERY NICE. 7 male char.                            15

THE SEVEN AGES. A Tableau Entertainment. Numerous
male and female char.                                            15

TOO LATE FOR THIS TRAIN. 2 male char.                            15

THE VISIONS OF FREEDOM. 11 female char.                          15


WALTER H. BAKER & CO., 23 Winter St., Boston.



FREEZING A MOTHER-IN-LAW

OR

SUSPENDED ANIMATION

A Farce in One Act


BY

T. E. PEMBERTON


BOSTON
Walter H. Baker & Co.
PUBLISHERS



CHARACTERS.


    MR. WATMUFF          _Attached to the past_
    FERDINAND SWIFT      _His nephew, attached to fortune hunting_
    WALTER LITHERLAND    _Attached to Emily Watmuff_
    MRS. WATMUFF         _Attached to the memory of her parents_
    EMILY                _Her daughter, attached to Walter Litherland_

                 *       *       *       *       *

COSTUMES.--Modern and appropriate.



FREEZING A MOTHER-IN-LAW.


SCENE.--MR. WATMUFF'S _library_. _Entrances_, R. _and_ L. _At_ L.C. _a
door opening to a cupboard. At_ R. _table, with books and a bottle of
water on it. A screen stands close to door_, R. WALTER LITHERLAND _and_
EMILY WATMUFF _discovered_.


EMILY. And so we must part forever!

WALTER. For the thirteenth time, my darling, I must, in reply to that
remark of yours, say--I don't see why.

EMILY. Ah! Walter, you do not know who rules this house.

WALTER. I may be wrong, but I was always under the impression that your
mother did.

EMILY. Ah! then you do know. I was afraid you would think that my poor
father was the master of it.

WALTER. I know that the house is let to your father; but I confess, my
dearest, that I have observed that he has sub-let himself to your
respected mother.

EMILY. And she has declared that she will _never_ give her consent to
our engagement.

WALTER. But your father has given his, and that is a great point
gained.

EMILY. It may be a great point, but it is a very useless one. Mamma
always has her own way. She pronounced her decision this morning, and
when you quit the house to-day orders will be given that you are never
allowed to enter it again.

WALTER. Then clearly I must not quit it. I am a great believer in
diplomacy, Emily. To go at the present time directly against your
revered mother's will would be utterly to lose you; to lose you, my
darling, would be far more than to lose my life; therefore, I have
determined to humor your respected parent, until the fortunes of war
give me an opportunity of ingratiating myself with her. Hush! She
approaches. Now rely upon me, and in every way back me up.

      (_Enter_ MRS. WATMUFF, _door_ L.)

MRS. W. (_glaring indignantly at_ WALTER). Still here, sir! I thought
that you had been instructed by my husband to quit these premises.

WALTER. Madam, I am much to blame. That the wishes expressed, I am
sure, after mature deliberation, of Mr. Watmuff and yourself, have been
communicated to me, I cannot deny--and yet--I linger here.

MRS. W. Linger no longer, sir; but obey our behest.

WALTER. I am, madam, about to do so; but since this interview with my
dear Emily must be my last--

MRS. W. _Your_ dear Emily! By what right, sir, do you speak of my
daughter as _your_ dear Emily?

EMILY. Because, mamma, I have consented--

MRS. W. How, girl! This to my face? To your chamber, miss.

WALTER. Again, madam, I have to own myself in the wrong. It is _your_
dear Emily to whom I have come to bid a long farewell.

MRS. W. A short farewell, sir, is all that is necessary--and more than
I shall allow. My domestics will have instructions to remove you,
within five minutes, from this domain. What ho! there--cook and
serving-maid!

      (_Exit_ MRS. WATMUFF, _door_ L.)

EMILY. Walter, surely you do not mean to give me up!

WALTER. My darling, do you--can you--doubt me? I shall never give you
up; but I am convinced that our only course is to temporize. Your
mother is, to say the least of it, arbitrary; but does she not give me
a glorious chance of proving the strength of my affection for you?

EMILY. How, dearest?

WALTER. I am prepared to marry you, my darling, even during her
lifetime.

      (_Enter_ MR. WATMUFF, _door_ R.)

EMILY. Oh, papa, I am in sad trouble. Mamma still withholds her
consent.

MR. W. My dear child, your mother, with the exception of her tongue,
has a habit of withholding everything.

EMILY. And she has ordered Walter to quit the house.

MR. W. Well, my dear, beyond a not unnatural feeling of envy for
Walter, I don't feel that I can express any sentiment on the subject. I
have given my consent.

EMILY. But of what use is it?

MR. W. Not much, my dear, I must own. But I thought you might derive
some comfort from it.

EMILY. Do you know that mamma is now giving orders to the cook and
housemaid to remove poor Walter by force?

MR. W. My dear child, it is, I must admit, an extreme measure. But what
can I do?

EMILY. You ought not to brook such treatment.

MR. W. Dearest love, I don't know that I do brook it; because I never
mastered the full meaning of that word. But even if I did, how can I
unbrook it?

WALTER. My dear sir, I think I comprehend your position better than
poor Emily does; and, indeed, I have been trying to persuade her that
our better plan is to yield to the storm until it has passed. We must
remember the old fable of the oak and the willow.

MR. W. It has been Mrs. Watmuff's good fortune to dwell in a perfect
grove of willows since the day of her birth. I confess that I have
yielded so long that I am limp with yielding.

WALTER. And I mean to yield only so far as to retain strength for a
final spring, and a final growth in a right and firm direction. Come,
Emily, be guided by me, and I promise you all shall be well. If I
remain here a moment longer I fear the storm may burst, and at present
we are both too oak-like to stand it.

      (_Exeunt_ EMILY _and_ WALTER, _door_ R.)

MR. W. That's a remarkably sanguine young man; but, then, he's at the
sanguine time of life. I was sanguine myself once--remarkably sanguine;
and then I married Mrs. Watmuff--or, rather, I should say, she married
me. I believe that there is a ceremony which, in polite language, is
termed asking the dearly-beloved object of your affections "the
momentous question," and in vulgar parlance is called "popping the
question." I may honestly say that I neither popped nor momented.
Looking back on a long vista of years, I cannot for the life of me
remember any period when I was engaged; I only remember being free, and
being--well--married. Marriages, they say, are made in Heaven. I don't
want to be irreverent, but sometimes I can't help wishing that Heaven
had left me, as the charity cards say, "totally unprovided for." But my
provision approaches.

      (_Enter_ MRS. WATMUFF, _door_ L.)

MRS. W. (_sits_ L.). So, Mr. Watmuff, I find you alone. I am fortunate.
Sit down, sit down, sir. I repeat, I am fortunate.

MR. W. (_sits_, R.). My dear, I am very glad to hear it. Fortune, they
say, favors the--

MRS. W. A truce, sir, to ribaldry. The time has come when a definite
understanding should exist between us.

MR. W. My dear, so far as I am concerned, a _very_ definite
understanding has existed for a very long time.

MRS. W. Peace, vain scoffer! and hear me. Our daughter, Mr. Watmuff, is
of an age to wed.

MR. W. My love, I am given to understand that she also is of that
opinion.

MRS. W. And of this crisis in the life of our only child you make an
opportunity to fly in my face.

MR. W. Do I, my dear? I was not aware of it.

MRS. W. Do you not directly encourage the advances of a suitor who is
to me in every way distasteful?

MR. W. But, my love, on what grounds? On what grounds?

MRS. W. Grounds, Mr. Watmuff--grounds! You speak of your daughter as
though she were so much coffee. Is it not enough that I object to the
addresses of this young upstart?

MR. W. My dear, it is quite enough. I may say that it is more than
enough. But what was I to do? I always liked Walter. You know that I
dote on Emily. They come to me, tell me that they love each other, and
ask for my blessing. I happen to have a blessing by me, and I give it
them.

MRS. W. And without a thought of me--_me_, the partner of your joys and
sorrows--_me_, the ruling spirit of your existence. You have no right
to dispose of a blessing of your own, Mr. Watmuff--you have not got
one. Such a blessing is a curse.

MR. W. Well, my love, whatever it is, they've got it, and they seem to
like it, so far, well enough. But--

MRS. W. A truce--a truce, I say.

MR. W. A truce, by all means; but as for Walter Litherland--

MRS. W. Walter Litherland never marries daughter of mine, Mr. Watmuff.
It is enough. I have said it. I married to gratify my parents. Emily
will marry to gratify me.

MR. W. My love, may I, with all deference, venture to remind you that
your respected and beloved parents were, when I first had the pleasure
of making your acquaintance, what may be called "no more."

MRS. W. Silence, mocker of the dead. They had gone to their reward. But
I lived to obey their wishes.

MR. W. Oh, and was _I_ one of them?

MRS. W. In the abstract, yes. What did I find you?

MR. W. My dear, don't allude to that. You did not find me much; but I
am not an avaricious man, and as I said at the time, what I looked for
in a wife was not so much money as--

MRS. W. Sordid one! Ever thinking of your worldly goods. When I ask,
what did I find you? I allude to your moral condition. You were a
smoker of tobacco. Do you deny it?

MR. W. (_regretfully_). I used to enjoy a cigar.

MRS. W. You were a bibber of wine. Was it not so?

MR. W. (_regretfully_). A glass of port now and then was very pleasant
to me.

MRS. W. It was such as _you_ that my parents hated. It was such as
_you_ they loved to reform. It is the custom of some to erect to the
memory of their parents costly monuments of marble, and gaudy windows
of perishable glass. _I_ erected _you_. Say, have I altered you? Do you
smoke now?

MR. W. (_very mournfully_). I do not.

MRS. W. Where is your cellar of port?

MR. W. In my cellar. It has remained there, my love, since, twenty
years ago, you appropriated the key; and (_with a groan_) it must be in
very fine condition.

MRS. W. Ay! you can still think of the condition of your port; lucky
for you that I have thought of _your_ condition. You are a mausoleum,
Mr. Watmuff, of which my parents may feel justly proud. Their tomb will
not be neglected during the lifetime of their daughter. My decision
with regard to Walter Litherland is one more _immortelle_ woven, by
loving hands to their memory. You are a mausoleum, Mr. Watmuff. (_Exit_
MRS. WATMUFF, _door_ L.)

MR. W. A mausoleum, am I? I wish they'd put a railing round me then,
and keep me isolated. I'm always being railed at. Why, if I'm regarded
from that point of view, can't I be railed in? I haven't the privileges
of a family vault. I'm only a common grave, walked over and trampled on
by everybody. It's too bad. It would be rough enough on a grave, but on
flesh and blood it's outrageous. And when I think of that cellar of
port, d--d if I don't wish I was buried--with it. How crusty it must be
now! As crusty, I expect, as I ought to be if I only dared to show my
teeth.

      (_Enter_ FERDINAND SWIFT, _door_ R.)

MR. W. Ferdinand, can I believe my eyes? My dear nephew, I thought you
were in America.

FER. America twelve days ago--England to-day--this my first call; glad
to see you, uncle.

MR. W. And I'm glad to see you, my boy. (_They shake hands heartily._)
But why have you returned so soon, Ferdinand? I thought you would
remain in America until you had made your mark.

FER. My dear uncle, I _have_ made it. If marks were now, as they were
once, the current coin of the realm, you'd find I'd made a considerable
number.

MR. W. My dear boy, I'm very glad to hear it. I always said you would
do well. Tell me all about it.

      (_Enter_ WALTER LITHERLAND, _door_ R.)

WALTER. Mr. Watmuff, might I crave one moment?--(_seeing_ SWIFT)--Oh! I
beg your pardon, sir; I see you are engaged.

MR. W. Not at all, not at all. Ferdinand, you must let me introduce to
you my friend, Walter Litherland. Walter, this is my nephew, Ferdinand
Swift, just returned from America, having made his fortune.

WALTER. I am very glad to hear it. I must congratulate you, sir.

FER. Not at all. Very glad, indeed, to know you. Friend of the family,
must, of course, be a friend of mine.

MR. W. Quite right, quite right. I must tell you, Ferdinand, that
Walter is attached to Emily.

FER. Very sensible man. Very pleasant and appropriate thing, I should
say.

WALTER. You are very good. I wish that all the members of your family
were of the same opinion.

FER. What! you don't mean to say that my venerable uncle (_all
seated_)--

WALTER. Mr. Watmuff is kindness itself; but I regret to say that your
aunt--

FER. Not a word, Walter, not a word. I very much regret that she _is_
my aunt; I've regretted it for years; but I've lived her down, and you
must live her down. She's one of those women that want living down.

MR. W. But you were going to tell me about your fortune, Ferdinand.

WALTER. Perhaps Mr. Swift would like me to withdraw--

FER. Not at all; not in the least. You're one of the family, and as I
shall leave all my money _to_ the family, you may as well hear about
it. Have a cigar? (_Offers cigar-case to_ LITHERLAND.)

WALTER (_taking one_). Thank you.

FER. Uncle?

MR. W. (_taking one_). Thanks, Ferdinand; yes, I--(MRS. WATMUFF'S
_voice heard without: "What ho! there, Emily! Come hither, girl._" MR.
WATMUFF _drops his cigar_.) My dear Ferdinand, I forgot your aunt, She
does not like the smell of smoke. In fact, if you don't mind, I think
we had better not smoke at present.

FER. Certainly not. My aunt, is, after all, one of the family, and by
another member of it family prejudices ought to be observed.

MR. W. (_relieved_). What a good fellow you are, Ferdinand! You deserve
a fortune. Now tell us how you have made it.

WALTER. You have made me very curious, sir; for a fortune is just the
thing which I want to make.

FER. My dear sir, it is merely a question of time and tact, and the
greater the tact the less need for time. Mine is a pure case of tact.

WALTER. I trust the fortune is intact.

FER. Well, no, it isn't; because it is what you may call _in futuro_.
It's got to be made yet; but in more ways than one it's a dead
certainty.

MR. W. (_who during this conversation keeps on pinching his cigar,
smelling it, and otherwise indicating how he would like to smoke it_).
It isn't anything to do with mausoleums, is it?

FER. Mausoleums? No. What put that into your head?

MR. W. I thought, perhaps, your aunt, finding me too much for herself,
might have determined to float me into a company, and had put you on to
promote me. All right. Go on, Ferdinand.

      (_Business with cigar._ MR. WATMUFF _is about to light it, when_
      MRS. WATMUFF _speaks outside. He burns his mouth, etc., ad lib._)

FER. Well, I've made an important discovery.

MR. W. Bravo, Ferdinand!

WALTER. An inventor? Sir, I congratulate you.

FER. Well, perhaps I ought to say that I've made an important discovery
that another fellow has made an important discovery. All the States are
wild about it; and, as he was an intimate friend of mine, and always
said he would like to do me a good turn, I, without bothering him about
it, noted down the particulars and came over to England to introduce it
as _my_ discovery.

WALTER. How will he like that?

FER. Probably not at all. But inventors and discoverers are
proverbially discontented and disappointed men, and he mustn't fight
with destiny.

MR. W. But what is it?

FER. Frost.

MR. W. and WALTER. Frost?

FER. Exactly. Frost. Frost applied to freezing. Of course you know that
a lot of American meat is now shipped to England. Much cheaper meat
than English meat, and, consequently, big fortunes to be made out of
the process. But it isn't altogether satisfactory, because it's
difficult to preserve the meat during the voyage. Goes bad, you know;
gets high, and that sort of thing.

WALTER. High in price, do you mean?

FER. Well, a little bit in that way, perhaps; but decidedly high in
another. Very good. To the speculative American mind it becomes,
therefore, a matter for conjecture, how is such evil to be overcome? An
American with more than usually speculative and powerful mind gets over
the difficulty. Frost.

MR. W. Frost?

FER. Frost. Liquid discovered which, injected into the ear of animal,
freezes him _pro tem._, and suspends the beggars animation for as long
as you please. Freeze and suspend your animal in America,--unfreeze him
in England by simple process of another liquid, and a warm bath,--he
lives again,--you kill him,--and get fresh meat. Important to every man
who keeps horse, cow, sheep, or pig,--_vide_ advertisement of company,
whose motto is, "Not lost, but gone before."              (_All rise._)

WALTER. That hardly strikes me as appropriate, because under the old
system the meat usually was "gone" before--

FER. Before reaching destination. Good. Motto must be altered.

MR. W. But, Ferdinand, surely you are not going into the meat trade?

FER. Certainly not. Mark the small mind. Can't see further than the
bare facts stated in preliminary prospectus. My view is to adapt the
discovery to the human being.

MR. W. Impossible! And what would be the good of it?

FER. (_taking their arms and walking up and down_). Quite possible, and
the good of it simply incalculable. Father of family finds things
bad,--freezes, or suspends animation of family, and puts them on
shelves until times mend. Man thinks he ought to give up horses, but
doesn't like to sell old favorites,--freezes, or suspends their
animation till price of hay and corn comes down, and things generally
go up. Man has wife who makes things unpleasant at home,--freezes or
suspends his animation till she comes round.

WALTER. There is hardly novelty in that notion. Men before now have,
under such circumstances, suspended themselves.

FER. With a rope. Yes. But how much better is my plan! A few drops of
this colorless liquid (_producing bottle_) injected into lobe of ear of
patient will freeze, or suspend animation of patient, during will of
practitioner. Remedy, few drops of another liquid injected into lobe of
other ear, and warm bath.

MR. W. Upon my soul, it's a grand idea.

WALTER. The great difficulty which you will have to deal with will be
to get some one to submit himself to the experiment.

FER. Walter, you're a sharp fellow. You've hit the right nail on the
head. That _is_ the difficulty. It is really astounding how blind and
how selfish people are in advancing the interests of science. In the
States they can't get a soul to try it, and they've got to wait for the
first felon.

MR. W. The first felon?

FER. Yes. First man condemned to death, you know. Then they'll give him
his choice--suspend his animation either by rope or patent freezing
mixture. If he recovers from the latter, give him his life and liberty.

WALTER. Then you admit that there is a certain amount of risk attached
to the experiment?

FER. I admit nothing of the sort. There isn't the least risk.

WALTER. Then why do not _you_ submit yourself to the ordeal?

FER. Damme, sir, don't you understand that as the proprietor of the
patent I couldn't safely show any one how to bring me to life again?
There's only one man could do it, and that's the American inventor; and
he's such a devilish grasping fellow that when he hears I've brought
the thing over here without consulting him, he'd be capable of keeping
me suspended indefinitely.

MR. W. Then how do you mean to proceed?

FER. Oh! look out for a felon. England is the best field for that sort
of thing, and that's why I came over here. I'm not going to ask any
more private individuals. I'm sick of it, and won't give myself the
pain of receiving any more refusals. I confess I've buoyed myself up
with the hope that I should find a felon in my own family, which would
make things easy and pleasant for me. Is there one, uncle? I said
good-by to a lot of cousins who promised well in that direction.

MR. W. No, Ferdinand, there isn't one.

FER. Hard lines, because there must be one soon.

WALTER. But, failing a felon, what shall you do?

FER. I see only one course open--I must marry, and freeze my wife.

WALTER. You would have sufficient confidence in the project, sir, to
try the experiment on your wife?

FER. Damme, sir, that's my difficulty. I should have to bring her round
again to prove the success of the discovery; and I've a perfect horror
of matrimony.

MR. W. Upon my soul, you know, this strikes me as being exceedingly
interesting, and I really think that some one ought, in the cause of
humanity, to come forward and submit himself to the experiment.

FER. My dear uncle, you charm me. You evidently mean to place yourself
in the light of the felon of the family whom I hoped to find; and,
considering that you are not a felon, I really take it very kindly.
When shall I inject--

MR. W. No, no, Ferdinand; don't misunderstand me. As a man, and as a
father, I don't feel justified in suspending my animation even for a
minute. No one knows what might happen during that minute; it might be
necessary to realize an investment, or to indorse a check, or,--in
fact, I couldn't forgive myself if anything went wrong while I was
indulging in the mere gratification of a whim. But it has struck me
that your aunt--

FER. My aunt! We couldn't hit on a better subject. I should inject my
fluid into the lobe of the right ear; I should light a cigar, and, by
the time the cigar was finished, I should think of injecting the other
fluid into the lobe of the left ear, and of resuscitating the patient.

MR. W. (_excitedly_). Oh, you would light a cigar, would you?

FER. Well, yes, I think so.

MR. W. And naturally you would ask me to smoke with you?

FER. Well, yes, naturally.

MR. W. (_earnestly_). Ferdinand, do you like a glass of good wine with
a cigar?

FER. Well, naturally, yes.

MR. W. Ferdinand, I feel that it is my duty to help you in this worthy
enterprise. I have explained why I cannot myself become a subject for
your experiments; but I do think that your aunt--

FER. My dear uncle, do you think you could induce her--

MR. W. For Heaven's sake, do not talk of inducement, or you will spoil
all. I say advisedly _all_. It must be done by compulsion, or say
rather, tact.

FER. Certainly, uncle, say rather, tact. Only tell me how to show tact.

MR. W. (_hurriedly_). Listen. Your aunt has lately, to do her justice,
suffered from neuralgia. In common with the majority of her sex, she is
willing to try any absurd remedy which is suggested to her. Tell her
that a drop of your fluid injected into the lobe of the right ear will
cure neuralgia, and she will take it like a lamb.

FER. Best of uncles, this is glorious. How shall I thank you?

MR. W. I only make _one_ condition.

FER. And that is?

MR. W. Don't unsuspend her until the smell of our--I mean _your_ cigar,
has passed off.

FER. I give you my word.

MR. W. And remember, I am only induced to make this temporary sacrifice
of my own happiness in the interests of science.

FER. And of your nephew?

MR. W. Ferdinand, I promised your mother that I would always do what I
could to further your interests. Let us go and find my wife.

      (_Exeunt_ FERDINAND _and_ MR. WATMUFF, _door_ R.)

WALTER. That seems to be a very enterprising and pushing young
gentleman, and one likely to make his way in the world. But what a
shocking old villain my future father-in-law turns out to be! He really
seems to relish the idea of performing this awful experiment on his
unfortunate wife. She may be a trying woman, but she doesn't deserve to
run such a risk as this. Now what am I to do? Clearly I can't be an
accomplice in a thing of this sort. Freezing my mother-in-law! And
equally clearly I must put a stop to it; but the difficulty is, how am
I to do it without offending old Mr. Watmuff, who is my only friend in
the house? (_Notices that_ SWIFT _has left his bottle on table_.) Ah!
an idea strikes me; if I could only have a moment with Mrs. Watmuff I
might tell her, and so ingratiate myself with her.

      (_Enter_ MRS. WATMUFF, _door_ L.)

MRS. W. Still here, sir? Was not my mandate sufficiently clear to you?

WALTER. My dear Mrs. Watmuff, I am indeed lucky thus to meet you at
this moment, and we may both be thankful that I did not leave the house
when you told me.

MRS. W. How, sir? I do not comprehend you. You speak in parables.

WALTER. I speak in great haste, madam, and I beg of you to listen to
me. Every moment is of vital importance, and I do not hesitate to say
that your life may depend on hearing me.

MRS. W. My life, sir? I do not dread death, young man. My parents
dreaded it not. It came, and they accepted it; and so in due season
shall I accept it.

WALTER. But, Mrs. Watmuff, it may come to you in very undue season. To
be brief with you, I have discovered that at this very moment, in this
very house, a horrible plot is being concocted which may cost you your
life.

MRS. W. A plot! How say you? And who, then, are the conspirators?

WALTER. You have a nephew named Ferdinand Swift--

MRS. W. A hare-brained adventurer. He is in the other hemisphere.

WALTER. He has returned, and is in this house. He has brought with him
some wild American invention with which he proposes to make his
fortune. Do you see this bottle?

MRS. W. I observe a phial, sir.

WALTER. This bottle contains a fluid which will, so says your nephew,
if injected into the ear, freeze or suspend the animation of the
subject so operated on, until another fluid, injected into the other
ear, restores life. The difficulty is to persuade any one to submit
himself to so hazardous an experiment; but he has so excited the
curiosity of Mr. Watmuff, that he has consented that _you_ should be
subjected--

MRS. W. _He_ has consented? I gather, sir, that my consent would also
be necessary.

WALTER. Here comes the base part of it. You are not to be told. Swift
is to suggest that you should use his precious fluid as a remedy for
neuralgia. For Heaven's sake, refuse to use it, for any one who does
would do so at the peril of his life. Good-by, madam. I believe that my
warning is a timely one, and I am thankful to be the means of rendering
you this small service.

      (_Exit door_, R., WALTER LITHERLAND, _who immediately returns and
      hides behind screen, unnoticed by_ MRS. WATMUFF.)

MRS. W. A timely warning, truly! I feel as one in a trance. I have long
doubted the fidelity of Mr. Watmuff,--I have long understood the
duplicity of his character,--but I had not thought him capable of such
vile machinations as these. Cold-blooded miscreants!--they would
suspend my animation, would they? Oh, Mr. Watmuff, you must be read a
bitter lesson for this. It will be hard for me to take a part in a
masquerade, but the memory of my parents demands this _immortelle_ from
me. (_Takes up the bottle, empties it of its contents, and fills it up
from a bottle of water which is on table._) Yes, I will affect to be
deceived by your blandishments, and you shall think that you have
succeeded in your most vile purpose. Shades of my parents, hover near
me, and protect your daughter in the Juliet-like ordeal through which
she is about to pass!

      (_Enter_ MR. WATMUFF _and_ FERDINAND SWIFT, _door_ R.)

MR. W. Oh, there you are, my dear. I've been looking for you
everywhere. I wanted to tell you Ferdinand Swift had unexpectedly
arrived in England.

FER. And I need hardly say, my dear aunt, that my first desire was to
come and pay my respects to you.

MRS. W. You are welcome, nephew.

MR. W. I think you'll say that again, my dear, when you hear of what
Ferdinand has brought with him. You must know that he is the bearer to
England of, and is about to introduce to this country, a most
extraordinary remedy--for what do you think?

MRS. W. How should I hazard a conjecture, Mr. Watmuff?

MR. W. For neuralgia! There! isn't that good news?

MRS. W. It would, indeed, be a boon, could some efficacious specific be
found to war with that most terrible disorder.

FER. My dear aunt, it has been found. It may seem a curious thing to
say, but, when I inquired after your health--which, of course, I did
the moment I came into the house--and my uncle told me that you
suffered from neuralgia, I was positively _glad_ to know that I could
be the happy means of at once and permanently relieving you from all
pain.

MRS. W. If what you say is true, nephew, you will be a benefactor to
suffering humanity. You should deem yourself very fortunate to be such
an instrument.

FER. My dear aunt, I do think myself fortunate. To be running about
from morning to night, as I am, continually relieving my fellow
creatures from the excruciating pangs of neuralgia, makes life one long
summer's day of happiness. It makes me so light-hearted that I'm always
singing, or humming, or whistling, and so I'm known among my friends as
the musical instrument.

MRS. W. And what, may I ask, is your remedy?

FER. The simplest thing in the world. You take--(_feeling in his pocket
for bottle_)--Hullo! By Jove!--(_seeing bottle on table_)--Ah! yes, to
be sure, I left it here. You take two or three drops of this colorless
fluid, make the smallest of punctures in the lobe of the right ear,
inject it, and the pain goes as if by magic. If you are suffering now,
aunt--

MRS. W. I am always suffering.

FER. Then let me try.

MR. W. Yes, my dear. Let Ferdinand try.

MRS. W. It is your _wish_ that I should do so, Mr. Watmuff?

MR. W. My dear, of course it is. I would give anything to see you free
from pain.

MRS. W. It is enough; my husband's wish is law to me. (TO FERDINAND.)
Apply your remedy, sir.

FER. With pleasure. (_Brings down large easy-chair._)

WALTER (_aside, appearing from behind screen at back_). I am glad I
made up my mind to see through this. Upon my soul, I'm beginning to
admire Mrs. Watmuff. What ruffians these men are!

FER. Now, my dear aunt, sit in this chair, and lean back. You will soon
be free from pain.

MR. W. Yes, my love, do just as Ferdinand tells you, and you will soon
be free from pain.

FER. (_operating_). All that you will feel is one sharp prick in the
lobe of the ear,--there,--I haven't even drawn blood. Now for the
bottle.

      (_As the water is applied_, MRS. WATMUFF _becomes gradually stiff
      and rigid; finally her eyes close, her hands drop, and she
      appears to be lifeless_.)

FER. Pretty process, isn't it?

MR. W. Beautiful! How calm she is! I never saw her calmer.

FER. No; and I don't suppose you ever will again.

MR. W. Ferdinand, I wouldn't have her hear me for the world, but I have
an awful time of it with this woman.

FER. I don't doubt you. I've always considered my aunt as the most
unpleasant person of my acquaintance. (_Lights a cigar._) Smoke, uncle?

MR. W. Thanks, Ferdinand. (_Lights cigar._) Ah! That's real enjoyment.
That's the first cigar I've smoked since I married your aunt. She never
would let me. Would it bring her to if I blew some smoke in her face,
Ferdinand?

FER. Not at all. Only the infallible mixture will restore her.

MR. W. (_blows smoke of cigar into_ MRS. WATMUFF'S _face_). There!
There! There! There! That's done me a lot of good, Ferdinand, and now
we'll have a glass of wine. (_Puts his hand into_ MRS. WATMUFF'S
_pocket and produces key_.) She pocketed the cellar key on our
wedding-day, Ferdinand, and has kept it ever since; but, by Gad, I'll
have a duplicate made now.

FER. Quite right; but before you get the wine, let's put the old woman
away somewhere. In the first place, she isn't a pleasant sight; and, in
the second place, if any one came in they might be startled. Where
shall she go?

MR. W. (_pointing to cupboard_). I should like to put her in the
coal-hole. Would that cupboard do?

FER. The very thing. Lend me a hand with her. You must do this part of
the business carefully,--that's the one objection to the process. A
frozen body like this would break to pieces if you dropped it, and you
don't want that.

MR. W. I don't see why I shouldn't--she's often boasted of having
broken me.

      (_They carry_ MRS. WATMUFF _into cupboard, and close the door on
      her_.)

MR. W. And now come, Ferdinand, and give me a light in the cellar.

      (_Exit_ FERDINAND SWIFT _and_ MR. WATMUFF, _door_ R.)

MRS. W. (_appearing at door of cupboard_). Varlets! Varlets! I say. Oh,
that the spirits of my parents should witness this day! For some wives
it is ordained that their husbands shall, so to speak, fly in their
faces,--my most miserable husband has _smoked_ in mine! Bitterly shall
he rue it. My thanks are indeed due to that worthy young man, whom I
fear I have misjudged, who apprised me of my danger; otherwise I might
now be a stark and frozen body. By keeping open the door of this
cupboard I can hear all that goes on, and I shall be an interested
witness of the junketings which will now take place. (_Retires into
cupboard._)

WALTER (_appearing cautiously from behind screen_). Fortune favors me.
This is glorious! She already thinks she has misjudged me. Emily, my
darling, I foresee that you will be mine. (_Crosses and goes off, door_
L.)

      (_Enter_, _door_ R., MR. WATMUFF, _and_ FERDINAND SWIFT, _each
      carrying a decanter of wine; both are smoking_.)

MR. W. Aha! The coast is clear.

FER. (_filling a glass of wine and "eying" it_). And so is the wine.
(_Drinks._)

MR. W. Put the bottles on this table, Ferdinand, and bring two chairs.
Now we will try and make the best of things until we have your dear
aunt with us again. (_Drinks._) It _is_ a good glass of wine,--isn't
it, Ferdinand?

FER. Excellent. Does every credit to your judgment.

MR. W. Ah! you were almost a baby when I laid it down, Ferdinand, and
it's never been disturbed. I can assure you, my dear boy, I've passed
whole days in picturing to myself its condition, and wondering who
would be lucky enough to drink it. This is really a wonderful discovery
of yours. You see, your aunt--

FER. Oh, I know. Have another cigar?

MR. W. Thank you, Ferdinand, I don't mind if I do. It's a sin to smoke
with such good wine as this; but, you see, I must make hay while the
sun shines. The fact is, your aunt--

FER. Don't speak of it, uncle--don't speak of it. I quite understand
it; but, after all, you're not the only man with a skeleton in the
cupboard.

MR. W. A skeleton! Aha! If she only was, Ferdinand--if she only was.
(_Drinks another glass of wine._)

FER. My dear uncle, if you talk in that wild and heartless way I shall
begin to think that you take quite another view of the objects of my
experiment. (_Drinks._)

MR. W. Not at all, not at all; but I must confess that it's pleasant to
have things quiet like this. (_Drinks._)

FER. It's quite evident you appreciate it. Well, I must say your tone
rather relieves me. I am delighted with the success of the first part
of my experiment. She went off beautifully. Now if the second part
should go wrong, and I don't succeed in pulling her together again, I
can see you won't so much mind.

MR. W. My dear Ferdinand, don't speak in that horrible way. Surely, you
have no doubts?

FER. Well, of course, I'm like all experimentalists; I may fail. You'll
please to bear in mind that I was very particular in getting your
consent before I made the venture.

MR. W. Venture! Fail! What do you mean? I certainly gave my consent,
but you said it was a "dead" certainty.

FER. And so it will be, in one way or the other, a dead certainty.

MR. W. Great Heaven! Then do you mean to tell me that you think it
possible that you may be unable to thaw my wife?

FER. Well, yes, it's on the cards.

MR. W. You're very cool over it.

FER. So's she; that's the beauty of the system.

MR. W. But what shall I do?

FER. Keep her frozen, and finish your wine. Bless your soul, uncle,
I'll see you through it.

MR. W. Yes, yes, Ferdinand, you will, I am sure of it. If there should
be any trouble, you'll see me through it.

FER. Oh, I didn't mean that--I meant I'd see you through your wine.
Your health, uncle. (_Drinks._)

MR. W. Ferdinand, in Heaven's name, do not trifle with such a subject
as this. Have you reflected what, if anything happened to your aunt,
_I_ should be?

FER. The very man I want--the first felon. I should immediately apply
to the State for permission to continue my researches.

MR. W. Ferdinand, for pity's sake, keep me in suspense no longer.
Produce your remedy. Where, oh, where is your antidote?

FER. (_mockingly_). Where, oh, where is my doting aunty? Ha! ha! pretty
play upon words, isn't it? Have another glass of wine. (Drinks.)

MR. W. No more wine for me. I have drunk my last glass of wine, and I
have smoked my last cigar. Never did I anticipate such horrors as now
consume me. Ferdinand, if you have any pity for an old man--

FER. My dear uncle, I can see I'm going too far. You shouldn't give me
such good wine, and so develop my propensities for practical joking.
We'll thaw the old woman at once.

MR. W. My dear boy, how you relieve me! Yes, at once--at once. Never
mind the smell of smoke and the decanters. Compared to my present
feelings, her abuse will be a perfect treat.

FER. (_feeling his pockets_). Hullo!

MR. W. What's the matter?

FER. Well, don't be alarmed; but I seem to have mislaid the other
bottle.

MR. W. Not the antidote?

FER. Well, yes. Don't agitate yourself; but I can't find it.

MR. W. For God's sake, Ferdinand, keep yourself cool, and think. My
unfortunate wife's life, and for the matter of that mine, depends upon
you. Think; where have you put it?

FER. I don't know. Of course I thought I put it in my pocket; but it
isn't there.

MR. W. Miserable young man! what have you done? Where is it?

FER. Well, if I haven't left it at the hotel where I stayed last
night--

MR. W. Yes; if you haven't left it there?

FER. Why, I must have left it in America.

MR. W. In America? Then all is lost.

FER. No, it isn't. Now calm yourself, uncle. I must confess that I've
got you into a bit of a mess, but it's all in the interests of science,
you know. I'll go to the hotel at once, and try and find my bottle. If
it isn't there, I'll give up all my prospects in England, and travel to
America as quickly as I can, and come back as quickly as I can, with
another bottle.

MR. W. And in the mean time, what am I to do?

FER. Oh, your duty is quite clear. You must take care of the body. And
I'd advise you to be devilish cautious that no one catches sight of it.
Who can tell how you might be misunderstood?

MR. W. Ferdinand, you are driving me mad. Do you mean to say that while
you are taking a journey to America and returning, I am to remain here
keeping guard over your poor aunt's body?

FER. My dear uncle, be a philosopher. As you very properly said just
now, there is a skeleton in every man's cupboard.

MR. W. Damme, sir, yes. I've had a skeleton long enough, and I've done
my best to bear it--but I never expected my cupboard to contain a
frozen wife, and under the circumstances I don't know how to conduct
myself.

FER. Be a man,--and finish the port.

MR. W. But how am I to explain her absence to other people?

FER. Confound it, uncle, you've no imagination. Say she's gone out for
a walk.

MR. W. And supposing your ship is wrecked, and you and your d--d bottle
go to the bottom?

FER. In that case, uncle, I can only wish you well; and, believe me, I
will do so. I won't worry you any more now, for your hands are full,
and you will like to be left alone to form your own plans. Farewell. If
I'm not back with the bottle in ten minutes, think of me on my way to
America.

      (_Exit_ FERDINAND SWIFT, _door_ R.)

MR. W. What a heartless ruffian! How easily he takes it all,
and how little he feels for me! How different are our lots! He goes to
America: I have to remain here--here, in this awful house, with this
dread mystery locked up in a cupboard. If anything happens, it is he
who is guilty, and not I; and yet I dare not interfere with his
departure, for my only chance depends upon his safe return with the
antidote. And how am I to pass the time until he does return? What
schemes must I not invent to Emily and the servants to account for the
prolonged absence of Mrs. Watmuff! How am I to explain away the
continually locked cupboard? There can be no earthly chance for me.
Mrs. Watmuff will be missed--will be searched for--will be found--and
long before that wretched nephew of mine returns with her restorative,
she will be in her grave, and I shall have been hung as her murderer.
As these and a thousand other horrible results of my mad act rush
through my disordered mind, my brain is on fire, and I feel that I am
going mad. One chance, and one only, remains to me. Ferdinand
_may_ find the remedy at his hotel: if so, he and my poor wronged
wife will want a warm bath. Thank goodness, there is one thing that I
can do. I will go and see that the water is hot. (_Exit_ MR.
WATMUFF, _door_ R.)

      (MRS. WATMUFF _appears at door of cupboard_.)

MRS. W. Poor conscience-stricken imbecile! Oh! my parents, what must
you not have thought during the last half-hour! Teach me in the future
how to deal with this most miserable and misguided of men.

      (WALTER LITHERLAND _and_ EMILY _enter door_ L., _talking_.)

WALTER. Yes, Emily, I must say farewell.

MRS. W. (_aside_). How! He here again? Now can I learn the real
sentiments of these young people. I do not forget the timely warning of
the young man, and shall be glad to find that he has been misjudged. My
parents, I thank you for the opportunity thus vouchsafed me.

      (MRS. WATMUFF _retires into the cupboard_.)

WALTER (_aside to_ EMILY). It's all right; she's still there; I heard
her. (_Aloud._) Let us sit, dearest (_places two chairs close to
cupboard_), and I will explain to you all that I mean--all that I feel.

EMILY. Walter, I will do so, because I know that our parting is at
hand; otherwise, after my dear mother's expressed wish that we should
see each other no more, I could not have consented to converse alone
with you.

WALTER. Your tender allusion to your mother, Emily, makes my task a
comparatively easy one. I confess that my object in seeking this
interview was that I might, tenderly and devotedly, bid you farewell.

EMILY. I knew it. Something in your manner, Walter, told me that it was
to be so; and though my heart will break at our parting, I shall know
that it is only some wise purpose which induces you to leave me.

WALTER. Emily, it is right that I should tell you all. You have alluded
to your mother. You know that in the first delirium of my love for you
I was inclined--God forgive me!--to resent the manifest objections
which that honored lady showed towards my pretensions. Hot-headed fool
that I was, Emily, I cruelly misjudged her. I thought that her
objections were mere prejudices. Circumstances have since come to my
knowledge which have convinced me that--though we cannot yet quite see
why--she is right, and that, distress us as it may, we are in duty
bound to bow before her greater experience, and to yield to her wisely
dispensed commands.

EMILY. Walter, an inward voice tells me that you are right. Without
asking why, we ought to acquiesce in her views. Sometimes I fear that
my poor mother's life is not so happy as it should be.

WALTER. Indeed it is not. Your father--but no, I can at least spare you
the pain of that sad story. We are both familiar with your dear
mother's loving and tender allusions to the memory of her parents. May
you, in years to come, enjoy the same proud privilege! May I, when old
and gray-headed, at least be able to think that I left my Emily in that
luxury, a lifelong legacy! And now, my dearest, I shall kiss you once,
and bid you a last good-by.

EMILY. No, Walter; you will not kiss me. At such a season as this, when
we have agreed to part, such an act would be on your part unmanly, on
mine unmaidenly. I will open the street door for you; more I cannot do.

      (_Exeunt_ WALTER _and_ EMILY, _door_ L. MRS. WATMUFF _again
      appears at door of cupboard_.)

MRS. W. Oh, most excellent young man! Oh, most dutiful of daughters!
You have indeed earned the blessing of your mother, and straightway you
shall have it. I will to them, and delay his departure. (_Exit_ MRS.
WATMUFF, _door_ L.)

      (_Enter_ MR. WATMUFF, _door_ R., _carrying two cans of hot
      water_.)

MR. W. I thought it would never boil, and yet _I_ was boiling over all
the time. Oh, what a hideous time this is! But I have made up my mind.
I can bear this no longer; and, antidote or no antidote, I shall try
and thaw the poor thing with hot water. My poor darling! (_Opens
cupboard door and finds it empty. He sinks with a shriek into the
nearest chair._) Oh, horror! horror! horror! The body has been
discovered and removed. All is over now--I am indeed undone!

      (_Enter_ FERDINAND SWIFT, _door_ R.)

FER. Undone? Not a bit of it. Overdone, I should say, from the look of
you. Don't be an old lunatic. Pull yourself together. Look
here--(_shaking him_)--it's all right; I've found my other bottle; here
it is. She'll be herself again in a few minutes.

MR. W. She won't, Ferdinand; it's all over. The body has been
discovered and removed.

FER. (_having rushed to cupboard and inspected it_). Good gracious!
This is most serious. What infernal carelessness! Who did it? and who
allowed it to be done? Do you know, you demented old ass, that in that
state, my poor aunt was as brittle as glass; and if she's been dropped,
or even knocked up against anything, or, for the matter of that, even
jolted, she would break into ten thousand pieces! Who's to blame for
this, I should, like to know?

MR. W. (_with a groan_). I know, Ferdinand, _I_ am. I am what you came
to England to look out for, the first felon. Freeze me as quickly as
you can, and if you have any sympathy for me, keep me frozen.

      (_Enter, door_ L., MRS. WATMUFF, WALTER, _and_ EMILY. MRS.
      WATMUFF _is walking between them, and has an arm round the waist
      of each_.)

FER. Hullo! Here _is_ the body! Now, who on earth has done this?

MR. W. My wife, alive and well! Aha! Aha! Oh, joy! joy! joy!

FER. Well, upon my soul, it takes very little to make you happy. What I
want to know is--

MRS. W. Peace, assassin; and you (_to_ MR. WATMUFF), malefactor, peace,
I say.

FER. No, but hang it, this is a serious matter to me. It's a direct
infringement on my patent. That's what it is. Who brought you round?
Sentiment is sentiment,--but damme, justice is justice; and I mean to
know who brought you round, and then prosecute him.

MRS. W. Silence, miscreant. I have not, as you put it, been brought
round, because, your vile scheme having been frustrated, I was never
rendered insensible. The liquid in your life-destroying phial,
Ferdinand Swift, was cast away by these hands, and pure and innocent
water took its place.

FER. Then you never were frozen?

MRS. W. Only so far as genuine horror can freeze.

FER. But you went off?

MRS. W. It was a masquerade--

MR. W. What! Do you mean to say that you were sensible all the time
that--

MRS. W. I was conscious during the entire period. I was conscious, Mr.
Watmuff, when you were gloating and exulting over what you believed to
be my lifeless body.

MR. W. (_sinks in chair, and buries his face in his hands_). Oh, don't!
Spare me! spare me!

MRS. W. I was conscious, Mr. Watmuff, when you abstracted from my
pocket the key of the cellar.

MR. W. (_groaning_). Oh, don't! don't!

MRS. W. I heard you, Mr. Watmuff, express your determination to possess
yourself of a duplicate to that key. (MR. WATMUFF _groans_.) I heard
you descend to the wine vaults, and was conscious of your return with
beakers and flagons containing wine. (MR. WATMUFF _groans_.) I was
conscious of the vile odor of tobacco pervading these rooms, which
hitherto I had kept free from such pollution; and, mark this well, Mr.
Watmuff, I was more than conscious _when the smoke from your cigar,
ejected from your lips, designedly suffused my countenance_.

MR. W. Oh, this is too much! Ferdinand, do me a kindness. You are on
the look-out for some one who does not object to be frozen. In the
interests of science, I'm quite prepared to immolate myself. Freeze me,
and I'll bless you as long as you keep me frozen.

MRS. W. (_approaching_ EMILY _and_ WALTER). Lastly, I was conscious
when these dear ones (_embraces them_) revealed themselves to me in
their true colors, and I learned that it was consistent with my duty to
my parents to give them my blessing.

EMILY. I need not tell you, papa, how happy this makes me.

MR. W. I'm very glad, my dear, to know that one member of the family is
likely to be happy. Now, Ferdinand, I'm quite ready. Freeze me.

FER. With pleasure. You will feel one sharp prick in the lobe--

MRS. W. Hold, hateful trifler with the sacred laws of nature! Is such a
man as that _fit_ to be frozen? I will freeze you when we are alone,
sir! Ah, sad it is, when the old must be taught by the young, and that
the daughter's lot should be happier than the mother's! (_To_ EMILY.)
And yet, my child, I do not grudge you your happiness, and am glad at
heart to think that you will have a husband who declined to take part
in the diabolical scheme for Freezing his Mother-in-Law.


CURTAIN.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Freezing a Mother-in-Law - or Suspended Animation; A farce in one act" ***

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