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Title: The Elevator
Author: Howells, William Dean
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 "The Elevator" ***

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Transcribed from “The Sleeping Car and Other Farces” 1911 Houghton
Mifflin Company edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



                              THE ELEVATOR.
                                  Farce.


I.


SCENE: Through the curtained doorway of _Mrs. Edward Roberts’s_ pretty
drawing-room, in Hotel Bellingham, shows the snowy and gleaming array of
a table set for dinner, under the dim light of gas-burners turned low.
An air of expectancy pervades the place, and the uneasiness of _Mr.
Roberts_, in evening dress, expresses something more as he turns from a
glance into the dining-room, and still holding the _portière_ with one
hand, takes out his watch with the other.

_Mr. Roberts_ to _Mrs. Roberts_ entering the drawing-room from regions
beyond: “My dear, it’s six o’clock.  What can have become of your aunt?”

_Mrs. Roberts_, with a little anxiety: “That was just what I was going to
ask.  She’s never late; and the children are quite heart-broken.  They
had counted upon seeing her, and talking Christmas a little before they
were put to bed.”

_Roberts_: “Very singular her not coming!  Is she going to begin standing
upon ceremony with us, and not come till the hour?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Nonsense, Edward!  She’s been detained.  Of course
she’ll be here in a moment.  How impatient you are!”

_Roberts_: “You must profit by me as an awful example.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, going about the room, and bestowing little touches here
and there on its ornaments: “If you’d had that new cook to battle with
over this dinner, you’d have learned patience by this time without any
awful example.”

_Roberts_, dropping nervously into the nearest chair: “I hope she isn’t
behind time.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, drifting upon the sofa, and disposing her train
effectively on the carpet around her: “She’s before time.  The dinner is
in the last moment of ripe perfection now, when we must still give people
fifteen minutes’ grace.”  She studies the convolutions of her train
absent-mindedly.

_Roberts_, joining in its perusal: “Is that the way you’ve arranged to be
sitting when people come in?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Of course not.  I shall get up to receive them.”

_Roberts_: “That’s rather a pity.  To destroy such a lovely pose.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Do you like it?”

_Roberts_: “It’s divine.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “You might throw me a kiss.”

_Roberts_: “No; if it happened to strike on that train anywhere, it might
spoil one of the folds.  I can’t risk it.”  A ring is heard at the
apartment door.  They spring to their feet simultaneously.

_Mrs. Roberts_: “There’s Aunt Mary now!”  She calls into the vestibule,
“Aunt Mary!”

_Dr. Lawton_, putting aside the vestibule _portière_, with affected
timidity: “Very sorry.  Merely a father.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh!  Dr. Lawton?  I am so glad to see you!”  She gives
him her hand: “I thought it was my aunt.  We can’t understand why she
hasn’t come.  Why! where’s Miss Lawton?”

_Lawton_: “That is precisely what I was going to ask you.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Why, she isn’t here.”

_Lawton_: “So it seems.  I left her with the carriage at the door when I
started to walk here.  She called after me down the stairs that she would
be ready in three seconds, and begged me to hurry, so that we could come
in together, and not let people know I’d saved half a dollar by walking.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “_She’s_ been detained too!”

_Roberts_, coming forward: “Now you know what it is to have a delinquent
Aunt-Mary-in-law.”

_Lawton_, shaking hands with him: “O Roberts!  Is that you?  It’s
astonishing how little one makes of the husband of a lady who gives a
dinner.  In my time—a long time ago—he used to carve.  But nowadays, when
everything is served _à la Russe_, he might as well be abolished.  Don’t
you think, on the whole, Roberts, you’d better not have come?”

_Roberts_: “Well, you see, I had no excuse.  I hated to say an engagement
when I hadn’t any.”

_Lawton_: “Oh, I understand.  You _wanted_ to come.  We all do, when Mrs.
Roberts will let us.”  He goes and sits down by _Mrs. Roberts_, who has
taken a more provisional pose on the sofa.  “Mrs. Roberts, you’re the
only woman in Boston who could hope to get people, with a fireside of
their own—or a register—out to a Christmas dinner.  You know I still
wonder at your effrontery a little?”

_Mrs. Roberts_, laughing: “I knew I should catch you if I baited my hook
with your old friend.”

_Lawton_: “Yes, nothing would have kept me away when I heard Bemis was
coming.  But he doesn’t seem so inflexible in regard to me.  Where is
he?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “I’m sure I don’t know.  I’d no idea I was giving such a
formal dinner.  But everybody, beginning with my own aunt, seems to think
it a ceremonious occasion.  There are only to be twelve.  Do you know the
Millers?”

_Lawton_: “No, thank goodness!  One meets some people so often that one
fancies one’s weariness of them reflected in their sympathetic
countenances.  Who are these acceptably novel Millers?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Do explain the Millers to the doctor, Edward.”

_Roberts_, standing on the hearth-rug, with his thumbs in his waistcoat
pockets: “They board.”

_Lawton_: “Genus.  That accounts for their willingness to flutter round
your evening lamp when they ought to be singeing their wings at their
own.  Well, species?”

_Roberts_: “They’re very nice young newly married people.  He’s something
or other of some kind of manufactures.  And Mrs. Miller is disposed to
think that all the other ladies are as fond of him as she is.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh!  That is not so, Edward.”

_Lawton_: “You defend your sex, as women always do.  But you’ll admit
that, as your friend, Mrs. Miller may have this foible.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “I admit nothing of the kind.  And we’ve invited another
young couple who haven’t gone to housekeeping yet—the Curwens.  And _he_
has the same foible as Mrs. Miller.”  _Mrs. Roberts_ takes out her
handkerchief, and laughs into it.

_Lawton_: “That is, if Mrs. Miller has it, which we both deny.  Let us
hope that Mrs. Miller and Mr. Curwen may not get to making eyes at each
other.”

_Roberts_: “And Mr. Bemis and his son complete the list.  Why, Agnes,
there are only ten.  You said there were twelve.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Well, never mind.  I meant ten.  I forgot that the
Somerses declined.”  A ring is heard.  “Ah! _that’s_ Aunt Mary.”  She
runs into the vestibule, and is heard exclaiming without: “Why, Mrs.
Miller, is it you?  I thought it was my aunt.  Where is Mr. Miller?”

_Mrs. Miller_, entering the drawing-room arm in arm with her hostess:
“Oh, he’ll be here directly.  I had to let him run back for my fan.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Well, we’re very glad to have you to begin with.  Let me
introduce Dr. Lawton.”

_Mrs. Miller_, in a polite murmur: “Dr. Lawton.”  In a louder tone: “O
Mr. Roberts!”

_Lawton_: “You see, Roberts?  The same aggrieved surprise at meeting you
here that I felt.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “What in the world do you mean?”

_Lawton_: “Don’t you think that when a husband is present at his wife’s
dinner party he repeats the mortifying superfluity of a bridegroom at a
wedding?”

_Mrs. Miller_: “I’m _sure_ I don’t know what you mean.  I should never
think of giving a dinner without Mr. Miller.”

_Lawton_: “No?”  A ring is heard.  “There’s Bemis.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “It’s Mr. Miller.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Aunt Mary at last!”  As she bustles toward the door:
“Edward, there are twelve—Aunt Mary and Willis.”

_Roberts_: “Oh, yes.  I totally forgot Willis.”

_Lawton_: “Who’s Willis?”

_Roberts_: “Willis?  Oh, Willis is my wife’s brother.  We always have
him.”

_Lawton_: “Oh, yes, Campbell.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, without: “Mr. Bemis!  So kind of you to come on
Christmas.”

_Mr. Bemis_, without: “So kind of you to ask us houseless strangers.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, without: “I ran out here, thinking it was my aunt.  She’s
played us a trick, and hasn’t come yet.”

_Bemis_, entering the drawing-room with Mrs. Roberts: “I hope she won’t
fail altogether.  I haven’t met her for twenty years, and I counted so
much upon the pleasure—Hello, Lawton!”

_Lawton_: “Hullo, old fellow!”  They fly at each other, and shake hands.
“Glad to see you again.”

_Bemis_, reaching his left hand to _Mr. Roberts_, while _Mr. Lawton_
keeps his right: “Ah!  Mr. Roberts.”

_Lawton_: “Oh, never mind _him_.  He’s merely the husband of the
hostess.”

_Mrs. Miller_, to _Roberts_: “What _does_ he mean?”

_Roberts_: “Oh, nothing.  Merely a joke he’s experimenting with.”

_Lawton_ to _Bemis_: “Where’s your boy?”

_Bemis_: “He’ll be here directly.  He preferred to walk.  Where’s your
girl?”

_Lawton_: “Oh, she’ll come by and by.  She preferred to drive.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, introducing them: “Mr. Bemis, have you met Mrs. Miller?”
She drifts away again, manifestly too uneasy to resume even a provisional
pose on the sofa, and walks detachedly about the room.

_Bemis_: “What a lovely apartment Mrs. Roberts has.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Exquisite!  But then she has such perfect taste.”

_Bemis_, to _Mrs. Roberts_, who drifts near them: “We were talking about
your apartment, Mrs. Roberts.  It’s charming.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “It _is_ nice.  It’s the ideal way of living.  All on one
floor.  No stairs.  Nothing.”

_Bemis_: “Yes, when once you get here!  But that little matter of five
pair up”—

_Mrs. Roberts_: “You don’t mean to say you _walked_ up!  Why in the world
didn’t you take the elevator?”

_Bemis_: “I didn’t know you had one.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “It’s the only thing that makes life worth living in a
flat.  All these apartment hotels have them.”

_Bemis_: “Bless me!  Well, you see, I’ve been away from Boston so long,
and am back so short a time, that I can’t realize your luxuries and
conveniences.  In Florence we _always_ walk up.  They have _ascenseurs_
in a few great hotels, and they brag of it in immense signs on the sides
of the building.”

_Lawton_: “What pastoral simplicity!  We are elevated here to a degree
that you can’t conceive of, gentle shepherd.  Has yours got an
air-cushion, Mrs. Roberts?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “An air-cushion?  What’s that?”

_Lawton_: “The only thing that makes your life worth a moment’s purchase
in an elevator.  You get in with a glass of water, a basket of eggs, and
a file of the ‘Daily Advertiser.’  They cut the elevator loose at the
top, and you drop.”

_Both Ladies_: “Oh!”

_Lawton_: “In three seconds you arrive at the ground-floor, reading your
file of the ‘Daily Advertiser;’ not an egg broken nor a drop spilled.  I
saw it done in a New York hotel.  The air is compressed under the
elevator, and acts as a sort of ethereal buffer.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “And why don’t we always go down in that way?”

_Lawton_: “Because sometimes the walls of the elevator shaft give out.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “And what then?”

_Lawton_: “Then the elevator stops more abruptly.  I had a friend who
tried it when this happened.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “And what did he do?”

_Lawton_: “Stepped out of the elevator; laughed; cried; went home; got
into bed: and did not get up for six weeks.  Nervous shock.  He was
fortunate.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “I shouldn’t think you’d want an air-cushion on _your_
elevator, Mrs. Roberts.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “No, indeed!  Horrid!”  The bell rings.  “Edward, _you_
go and see if that’s Aunt Mary.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “It’s Mr. Miller, I know.”

_Bemis_: “Or my son.”

_Lawton_: “My voice is for Mrs. Roberts’s brother.  I’ve given up all
hopes of my daughter.”

_Roberts_, without: “Oh, Curwen!  Glad to see you!  Thought you were my
wife’s aunt.”

_Lawton_, at a suppressed sigh from _Mrs. Roberts_: “It’s one of his
jokes, Mrs. Roberts.  Of course it’s your aunt.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, through her set teeth, smilingly: “Oh, if it _is_, I’ll
make him suffer for it.”

_Mr. Curwen_, without: “No, I hated to wait, so I walked up.”

_Lawton_: “It is Mr. Curwen, after all, Mrs. Roberts.  Now let me see how
a lady transmutes a frown of threatened vengeance into a smile of society
welcome.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Well, look!”  To _Mr. Curwen_, who enters, followed by
her husband: “Ah, Mr. Curwen!  So glad to see you.  You know all our
friends here—Mrs. Miller, Dr. Lawton, and Mr. Bemis?”

_Curwen_, smiling and bowing, and shaking hands right and left: “Very
glad—very happy—pleased to know you.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, behind her fan to Dr. Lawton: “Didn’t I do it
beautifully?”

_Lawton_, behind his hand: “Wonderfully!  And so unconscious of the fact
that he hasn’t his wife with him.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, in great astonishment, to Mr. Curwen: “Where in the world
is Mrs. Curwen?”

_Curwen_: “Oh—oh—she’ll be here.  I thought she was here.  She started
from home with two right-hand gloves, and I had to go back for a left,
and I—I suppose—Good heavens!” pulling the glove out of his pocket.  “I
ought to have sent it to her in the ladies’ dressing-room.”  He remains
with the glove held up before him, in spectacular stupefaction.

_Lawton_: “Only imagine what Mrs. Curwen would be saying of you if she
were in the dressing-room.”

_Roberts_: “Mr. Curwen felt so sure she was there that he wouldn’t wait
to take the elevator, and walked up.”  Another ring is heard.  “Shall I
go and meet your aunt _now_, my dear?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “No, indeed!  She may come in now with all the formality
she chooses, and I will receive her excuses in state.”  She waves her fan
softly to and fro, concealing a murmur of trepidation under an indignant
air, till the _portière_ opens, and _Mr. Willis Campbell_ enters.  Then
_Mrs. Roberts_ breaks in nervous agitation “Why, Willis!  Where’s Aunt
Mary?”

_Mrs. Miller_: “And Mr. Miller?”

_Curwen_: “And Mrs. Curwen?”

_Lawton_: “And my daughter?”

_Bemis_: “And my son?”

_Mr. Campbell_, looking tranquilly round on the faces of his
interrogators: “Is it a conundrum?”

_Mrs. Roberts_, mingling a real distress with an effort of mock-heroic
solemnity: “It is a tragedy!  O Willis dear! it’s what you see—what you
hear; a niece without an aunt, a wife without a husband, a father without
a son, and another father without a daughter.”

_Roberts_: “And a dinner getting cold, and a cook getting hot.”

_Lawton_: “And you are expected to account for the whole situation.”

_Campbell_: “Oh, I understand!  I don’t know what your little game is,
Agnes, but I can wait and see.  _I’m_ not hungry.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Willis, do you think I would try and play a trick on
you, if I could?”

_Campbell_: “I think you can’t.  Come, now, Agnes!  It’s a failure.  Own
up, and bring the rest of the company out of the next room.  I suppose
almost anything is allowable at this festive season, but this is pretty
feeble.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Indeed, indeed, they are not there.”

_Campbell_: “Where are they, then?”

_All_: “That’s what we don’t know.”

_Campbell_: “Oh, come, now! that’s a little too thin.  You don’t know
where _any_ of all these blood-relations and connections by marriage are?
Well, search me!”

_Mrs. Roberts_, in open distress: “Oh, I’m sure something must have
happened to Aunt Mary!”

_Mrs. Miller_: “I can’t understand what Ellery C. Miller means.”

_Lawton_, with a simulated sternness: “I hope you haven’t let that son of
yours run away with my daughter, Bemis?”

_Bemis_: “I’m afraid he’s come to a pass where he wouldn’t ask _my_
leave.”

_Curwen_, re-assuring himself: “Ah, she’s all right, of course.  I know
that”—

_Bemis_: “Miss Lawton?”

_Curwen_: “No, no—Mrs. Curwen.”

_Campbell_: “Is it a true bill, Agnes?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Indeed it is, Willis.  We’ve been expecting her for an
hour—of course she always comes early—and I’m afraid she’s been taken ill
suddenly.”

_Roberts_: “Oh, I don’t think it’s that, my dear.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, of course you never think anything’s wrong, Edward.
My whole family might die, and”—_Mrs. Roberts_ restrains herself, and
turns to _Mr. Campbell_, with hysterical cheerfulness: “Who came up in
the elevator with you?”

_Campbell_: “Me?  _I_ didn’t come in the elevator.  I had my usual luck.
The elevator was up somewhere, and after I’d pressed the annunciator
button till my thumb ached, I watched my chance and walked up.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Where was the janitor?”

_Campbell_: “Where the janitor always is—nowhere.”

_Lawton_: “Eating his Christmas dinner, probably.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, partially abandoning and then recovering herself: “Yes,
it’s perfectly spoiled!  Well, friends, I think we’d better go to
dinner—that’s the only way to bring them.  I’ll go out and interview the
cook.”  _Sotto voce_ to her husband: “If I don’t go somewhere and have a
cry, I shall break down here before everybody.  Did you ever know
anything so strange?  It’s perfectly—pokerish.”

_Lawton_: “Yes, there’s nothing like serving dinner to bring the belated
guest.  It’s as infallible as going without an umbrella when it won’t
rain.”

_Campbell_: “No, no!  Wait a minute, Roberts.  You might sit down without
one guest, but you can’t sit down without five.  It’s the old joke about
the part of Hamlet.  I’ll just step round to Aunt Mary’s house—why, I’ll
be back in three minutes.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, with perfervid gratitude: “Oh, how _good_ you are,
Willis!  You don’t know how _much_ you’re doing!  What presence of mind
you have!  Why couldn’t we have thought of sending for her?  O Willis, I
can never be grateful enough to you!  But you always think of
everything.”

_Roberts_: “I accept my punishment meekly, Willis, since it’s in your
honor.”

_Lawton_: “It’s a simple and beautiful solution, Mrs. Roberts, as far as
your aunt’s concerned; but I don’t see how it helps the rest of us.”

_Mrs. Miller_ to _Mr. Campbell_: “If you meet Mr. Miller ”—

_Curwen_: “Or my wife”—

_Bemis_: “Or my son”—

_Lawton_: “Or my daughter”—

_Campbell_: “I’ll tell them they’ve just one chance in a hundred to save
their lives, and that one is open to them for just five minutes.”

_Lawton_: “Tell my daughter that I’ve been here half an hour, and
everybody knows I drove here with her.”

_Bemis_: “Tell my son that the next time I’ll walk, and let him drive.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Tell Mr. Miller I found I had my fan after all.”

_Curwen_: “And Mrs. Curwen that I’ve got her glove all right.”  He holds
it up.

_Mrs. Roberts_, at a look of mystification and demand from her brother:
“Never mind explanations, Willis.  They’ll understand, and we’ll explain
when you get back.”

_Lawton_, examining the glove which _Curwen_ holds up: “Why, so it _is_
right!”

_Curwen_: “What do you mean?”

_Lawton_: “Were you sent back to get a _left_ glove?”

_Curwen_: “Yes, yes; of course.”

_Lawton_: “Well, if you’ll notice, this is a right one.  The one at home
is left.”

_Curwen_, staring helplessly at it: “Gracious Powers! what shall I do?”

_Lawton_: “Pray that Mrs. Curwen may _never_ come.”

_Mr. Curwen_, dashing through the door: “I’ll be back by the time Mr.
Campbell returns.”

_Mrs. Miller_, with tokens of breaking down visible to _Mrs. Roberts_: “I
wonder what could have kept Mr. Miller.  It’s so very mysterious, I”—

_Mrs. Roberts_, suddenly seizing her by the arm, and hurrying her from
the room: “Now, Mrs. Miller, you’ve just got time to see my baby.”

_Mr. Roberts_, winking at his remaining guests: “A little cry will do
them good.  I saw as soon as Willis came in instead of her aunt, that my
wife couldn’t get through without it.  They’ll come back as bright as”—

_Lawton_: “Bemis, should you mind a bereaved father falling upon your
neck?”

_Bemis_: “Yes, Lawton, I think I should.”

_Lawton_: “Well, it _is_ rather odd about all those people.  You can say
of one or two that they’ve been delayed, but five people can’t have been
delayed.  It’s too much.  It amounts to a coincidence.  Hello!  What’s
that?”

_Roberts_: “What’s what?”

_Lawton_: “I thought I heard a cry.”

_Roberts_: “Very likely you did.  They profess to deaden these floors so
that you can’t hear from one apartment to another.  But I know pretty
well when my neighbor overhead is trying to wheel his baby to sleep in a
perambulator at three o’clock in the morning; and I guess our young lady
lets the people below understand when she’s wakeful.  But it’s the only
way to live, after all.  I wouldn’t go back to the old
up-and-down-stairs, house-in-a-block system on any account.  Here we all
live on the ground-floor practically.  The elevator equalizes
everything.”

_Bemis_: “Yes, when it happens to be where you are.  I believe I prefer
the good old Florentine fashion of walking upstairs, after all.”

_Lawton_: “Roberts, I _did_ hear something.  Hark!  It sounded like a cry
for help.  There!”

_Roberts_: “You’re nervous, doctor.  It’s nothing.  However, it’s easy
enough to go out and see.”  He goes out to the door of the apartment, and
immediately returns.  He beckons to _Dr. Lawton_ and _Mr. Bemis_, with a
mysterious whisper: “Come here both of you.  Don’t alarm the ladies.”



II.


In the interior of the elevator are seated _Mrs. Roberts’s Aunt Mary_
(_Mrs. Crashaw_), _Mrs. Curwen_, and _Miss Lawton_; _Mr. Miller_ and _Mr.
Alfred Bemis_ are standing with their hats in their hands.  They are in
dinner costume, with their overcoats on their arms, and the ladies’
draperies and ribbons show from under their outer wraps, where they are
caught up, and held with that caution which characterizes ladies in
sitting attitudes which they have not been able to choose deliberately.
As they talk together, the elevator rises very slowly, and they continue
talking for some time before they observe that it has stopped.

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “It’s very fortunate that we are all here together.  I
ought to have been here half an hour ago, but I was kept at home by an
accident to my finery, and before I could be put in repair I heard it
striking the quarter past.  I don’t know what my niece will say to me.  I
hope you good people will all stand by me if she should be violent.”

_Miller_: “In what a poor man may with his wife’s fan, you shall command
me, Mrs. Crashaw.”  He takes the fan out, and unfurls it.

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Did she send you back for it?”

_Miller_: “I shouldn’t have had the pleasure of arriving with you if she
hadn’t.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, laughing, to _Mrs. Curwen_: “What did you send _yours_
back for, my dear?”

_Mrs. Curwen_, thrusting out one hand gloved, and the other ungloved: “I
didn’t want two rights.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Not even women’s rights?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Oh, so young and so depraved!  Are all the young men in
Florence so bad?”  Surveying her extended arms, which she turns over: “I
don’t know that I need have sent him for the other glove.  I could have
explained to Mrs. Roberts.  Perhaps she would have forgiven my coming in
one glove.”

_Miller_, looking down at the pretty arms: “If she had seen you without.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Oh, you were looking!”  She rapidly involves her arms in
her wrap.  Then she suddenly unwraps them, and regards them thoughtfully.
“What if he should bring a ten-button instead of an eight!  And he’s
quite capable of doing it.”

_Miller_: “Are there such things as ten-button gloves?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “You would think there were ten-thousand button gloves if
you had them to button.”

_Miller_: “It would depend upon whom I had to button them for.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “For Mrs. Miller, for example.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “We women are too bad, always sending people back for
something.  It’s well the men don’t know _how_ bad.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “’Sh!  Mr. Miller is listening.  And he thought we were
perfect.  He asks nothing better than to be sent back for his wife’s fan.
And he doesn’t say anything even under his breath when she finds she’s
forgotten it, and begins, ‘Oh, dearest, my fan’—Mr. Curwen does.  But he
goes all the same.  I hope you have your father in good training, Miss
Lawton.  You must commence with your father, if you expect your husband
to be ‘good.’”

_Miss Lawton_: “Then mine will never behave, for papa is perfectly
incorrigible.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “I’m sorry to hear such a bad report of him.  Shouldn’t
_you_ think he would be ‘good,’ Mr. Bemis?”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “I should think he would try.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “A diplomat, as well as a punster already!  I must warn
Miss Lawton.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, interposing to spare the young people: “What an amusing
thing elevator etiquette is!  Why should the gentlemen take their hats
off?  Why don’t you take your hats off in a horse-car?”

_Miller_: “The theory is that the elevator is a room.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “We were at a hotel in London where they called it the
Ascending Room.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Oh, how amusing!”

_Miller_, looking about: “This is a regular drawing-room for size and
luxury.  They’re usually such cribs in these hotels.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Yes, it’s very nice, though I say it that shouldn’t of
my niece’s elevator.  The worst about it is, it’s so slow.”

_Miller_: “Let’s hope it’s sure.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Some of these elevators in America go up like express
trains.”

_Mrs. Curwen_, drawing her shawl about her shoulders, as if to be ready
to step out: “Well, I never get into one without taking my life in my
hand, and my heart in my mouth.  I suppose every one really expects an
elevator to drop with them, some day, just as everybody really expects to
see a ghost some time.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Oh, my dear! what an extremely disagreeable subject of
conversation.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “I can’t help it, Mrs. Crashaw.  When I reflect that there
are two thousand elevators in Boston, and that the inspectors have just
pronounced a hundred and seventy of them unsafe, I’m so desperate when I
get into one that I could—flirt!”

_Miller_, guarding himself with the fan: “Not with me?”

_Miss Lawton_, to young _Mr. Bemis_: “How it _does_ creep!”

_Young Mr. Bemis_, looking down fondly at her: “Oh, does it?”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Why, it doesn’t go at all!  It’s stopped.  Let us get
out.”  They all rise.

_The Elevator Boy_, pulling at the rope: “We’re not there, yet.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, with mingled trepidation and severity: “Not there?  What
are you stopping, then, for?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “I don’t know.  It seems to be caught.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Caught?”

_Miss Lawton_: “Oh, dear!”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Don’t mind.”

_Miller_: “Caught?  Nonsense!”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “_We’re_ caught, I should say.”  She sinks back on the
seat.

_The Elevator Boy_: “Seemed to be going kind of funny all day!”  He keeps
tugging at the rope.

_Miller_, arresting the boy’s efforts: “Well, hold on—stop!  What are you
doing?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “Trying to make it go.”

_Miller_: “Well, don’t be so—violent about it.  You might break
something.”

_The Elevator Boy_: “Break a wire rope like that!”

_Miller_: “Well, well, be quiet now.  Ladies, I think you’d better sit
down—and as gently as possible.  I wouldn’t move about much.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Move!  We’re stone.  And I wish for my part I were a
feather.”

_Miller_, to the boy: “Er—a—er—where do you suppose we are?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “We’re in the shaft between the fourth and fifth
floors.”  He attempts a fresh demonstration on the rope, but is
prevented.

_Miller_: “Hold on!  Er—er”—

_Mrs. Crashaw_, as if the boy had to be communicated with through an
interpreter: “Ask him if it’s ever happened before.”

_Miller_: “Yes.  Were you ever caught before?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “No.”

_Miller_: “He says no.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Ask him if the elevator has a safety device.”

_Miller_: “Has it got a safety device?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “How should I know?”

_Miller_: “He says he don’t know.”

_Mrs. Curwen_, in a shriek of hysterical laughter: “Why, he understands
English!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, sternly ignoring the insinuation: “Ask him if there’s any
means of calling the janitor.”

_Miller_: “Could you call the janitor?”

_The Elevator Boy_, ironically: “Well, there ain’t any telephone
attachment.”

_Miller_, solemnly: “No, he says there isn’t.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, sinking back on the seat with resignation: “Well, I don’t
know what my niece will say.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Poor papa!”

_Young Mr. Bemis_, gathering one of her wandering hands into his: “Don’t
be frightened.  I’m sure there’s no danger.”

_The Elevator Boy_, indignantly: “Why, she can’t drop.  The cogs in the
runs won’t let her!”

_All_: “Oh!”

_Miller_, with a sigh of relief: “I knew there must be something of the
kind.  Well, I wish my wife had her fan.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “And if I had my left glove I should be perfectly happy.
Not that I know what the cogs in the runs are!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Then we’re merely caught here?”

_Miller_: “That’s all.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “It’s quite enough for the purpose.  Couldn’t you put on a
life-preserver, Mr. Miller, and go ashore and get help from the natives?”

_Miss Lawton_, putting her handkerchief to her eyes: “Oh, dear!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, putting her arm around her: “Don’t be frightened, my
child.  There’s no danger.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_, caressing the hand which he holds: “Don’t be
frightened.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Don’t leave me.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “No, no; I won’t.  Keep fast hold of my hand.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Oh, yes, I will!  I’m ashamed to cry.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_, fervently: “Oh, you needn’t be!  It is perfectly
natural you should.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “I’m too badly scared for tears.  Mr. Miller, you seem to
be in charge of this expedition—couldn’t you do something?  Throw out
ballast, or let the boy down in a parachute?  Or I’ve read of a shipwreck
where the survivors, in an open boat, joined in a cry, and attracted the
notice of a vessel that was going to pass them.  We might join in a cry.”

_Miller_: “Oh, it’s all very well joking, Mrs. Curwen”—

_Mrs. Curwen_: “You call it joking!”

_Miller_: “But it’s not so amusing, being cooped up here indefinitely.  I
don’t know how we’re to get out.  We can’t join in a cry, and rouse the
whole house.  It would be ridiculous.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “And our present attitude is so eminently dignified!
Well, I suppose we shall have to cast lots pretty soon to see which of us
shall be sacrificed to nourish the survivors.  It’s long past
dinner-time.”

_Miss Lawton_, breaking down: “Oh, _don’t_ say such terrible things.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_, indignantly comforting her: “Don’t, don’t cry.
There’s no danger.  It’s perfectly safe.”

_Miller_ to _The Elevator Boy_: “Couldn’t you climb up the cable, and get
on to the landing, and—ah!—get somebody?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “I could, maybe, if there was a hole in the roof.”

_Miller_, glancing up: “Ah! true.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, with an old lady’s serious kindness: “My boy, can’t you
think of anything to do for us?”

_The Elevator Boy_ yielding to the touch of humanity, and bursting into
tears: “No, ma’am, I can’t.  And everybody’s blamin’ me, as if I done it.
What’s my poor mother goin’ to do?”

_Mrs. Crashaw_, soothingly: “But you said the runs in the cogs”—

_The Elevator Boy_: “How can I tell!  That’s what they say.  They hain’t
never been tried.”

_Mrs. Curwen_, springing to her feet: “There!  I knew I should.  Oh”—She
sinks fainting to the floor.

_Mrs. Crashaw_, abandoning Miss Lawton to the ministrations of young Mr.
Bemis, while she kneels beside Mrs. Curwen and chafes her hand: “Oh, poor
thing!  I knew she was overwrought by the way she was keeping up.  Give
her air, Mr. Miller.  Open a—Oh, there isn’t any window!”

_Miller_, dropping on his knees, and fanning Mrs. Curwen: “There! there!
Wake up, Mrs. Curwen.  I didn’t mean to scold you for joking.  I didn’t,
indeed.  I—I—I don’t know what the deuce I’m up to.”  He gathers Mrs.
Curwen’s inanimate form in his arms, and fans her face where it lies on
his shoulder. “I don’t know what my wife would say if”—

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “She would say that you were doing your duty.”

_Miller_, a little consoled: “Oh, do you think so?  Well, perhaps.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Do you feel faint at all, Miss Lawton?”

_Miss Lawton_: “No, I think not.  No, not if you say it’s safe.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Oh, I’m sure it is!”

_Miss Lawton_, renewing her hold upon his hand: “Well, then!  Perhaps I
hurt you?”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “No, no!  You couldn’t.”

_Miss Lawton_: “How kind you are!”

_Mrs. Curwen_, opening her eyes: “Where”—

_Miller_, rapidly transferring her to Mrs. Crashaw: “Still in the
elevator, Mrs. Curwen.”  Rising to his feet: “Something must be done.
Perhaps we _had_ better unite in a cry.  It’s ridiculous, of course.  But
it’s the only thing we can do.  Now, then!  Hello!”

_Miss Lawton_: “Papa!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Agne-e-e-s!”

_Mrs. Curwen_, faintly: “Walter!”

_The Elevator Boy_: “Say!”

_Miller_: “Oh, that won’t do.  All join in ‘Hello!’”

_All_: “Hello!”

_Miller_: “Once more!”

_All_: “Hello!”

_Miller_: “_Once_ more!”

_All_: “Hello!”

_Miller_: “Now wait a while.”  After an interval: “No, nobody coming.”
He takes out his watch.  “We must repeat this cry at intervals of a
half-minute.  Now, then!”  They all join in the cry, repeating it as _Mr.
Miller_ makes the signal with his lifted hand.

_Miss Lawton_: “Oh, it’s no use!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “They don’t hear.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “They _won’t_ hear.”

_Miller_: “Now, then, three times!”

_All_: “Hello! hello! hello!”



III.


_Roberts_ appears at the outer door of his apartment on the fifth floor.
It opens upon a spacious landing, to which a wide staircase ascends at
one side.  At the other is seen the grated door to the shaft of the
elevator.  He peers about on all sides, and listens for a moment before
he speaks.

_Roberts_: “Hello yourself.”

_Miller_, invisibly from the shaft: “Is that you, Roberts?”

_Roberts_: “Yes; where in the world are you?”

_Miller_: “In the elevator.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “We’re _all_ here, Edward.”

_Roberts_: “What!  You, Aunt Mary!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Yes.  Didn’t I say so?”

_Roberts_: “Why don’t you come up?”

_Miller_: “We can’t.  The elevator has got stuck somehow.”

_Roberts_: “Got stuck?  Bless my soul!  How did it happen?  How long have
you been there?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Since the world began!”

_Miller_: “What’s the use asking how it happened?  We don’t know, and we
don’t care.  What we want to do is to get out.”

_Roberts_: “Yes, yes!  Be careful!”  He rises from his frog-like posture
at the grating, and walks the landing in agitation.  “Just hold on a
minute!”

_Miller_: “Oh, _we_ sha’n’t stir.”

_Roberts_: “I’ll see what can be done.”

_Miller_: “Well, see quick, please.  We have plenty of time, but we don’t
want to lose any.  Don’t alarm Mrs. Miller, if you can help it.”

_Roberts_: “No, no.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “You _may_ alarm Mr. Curwen.”

_Roberts_: “What!  Are _you_ there?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Here?  I’ve been here all my life!”

_Roberts_: “Ha! ha! ha!  That’s right.  We’ll soon have you out.  Keep up
your spirits.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “But I’m _not_ keeping them up.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Tell papa I’m here too.”

_Roberts_: “What!  You too, Miss Lawton?”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Yes, and young Mr. Bemis.  Didn’t I _tell_ you we were
all here?”

_Roberts_: “I couldn’t realize it.  Well, wait a moment.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Oh, you can trust us to wait.”

_Roberts_, returning with _Dr. Lawton_, and _Mr. Bemis_, who join him in
stooping around the grated door of the shaft: “They’re just under here in
the well of the elevator, midway between the two stories.”

_Lawton_: “Ha! ha! ha!  You don’t say so.”

_Bemis_: “Bless my heart!  What are they doing there?”

_Miller_: “We’re not doing anything.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “We’re waiting for you to do something.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Oh, papa!”

_Lawton_: “Don’t be troubled, Lou, we’ll soon have you out.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Don’t be alarmed, sir, Miss Lawton is all right.”

_Miss Lawton_: “Yes, I’m not frightened, papa.”

_Lawton_: “Well, that’s a great thing in cases of this kind.  How did you
happen to get there?”

_Miller_, indignantly: “How do you suppose?  We came up in the elevator.”

_Lawton_: “Well, why didn’t you come the rest of the way?”

_Miller_: “The elevator wouldn’t.”

_Lawton_: “What seems to be the matter?”

_Miller_: “We don’t know.”

_Lawton_: “Have you tried to start it?”

_Miller_: “Well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.”

_Lawton_: “Well, be careful what you do.  You might”—

_Miller_, interrupting: “Roberts, who’s that talking?”

_Roberts_, coming forward politely: “Oh, excuse me!  I forgot that you
didn’t know each other.  Dr. Lawton, Mr. Miller.”  Introducing them.

_Lawton_: “Glad to know you.”

_Miller_: “Very happy to make your acquaintance, and hope some day to see
you.  And now, if you have completed your diagnosis”—

_Mrs. Curwen_: “None of us have ever had it before, doctor; nor any of
our families, so far as we know.”

_Lawton_: “Ha! ha! ha!  Very good!  Well, just keep quiet.  We’ll have
you all out of there presently.”

_Bemis_: “Yes, remain perfectly still.”

_Roberts_: “Yes, we’ll have you out.  Just wait.”

_Miller_: “You seem to think we’re going to run away.  Why shouldn’t we
keep quiet?  Do you suppose we’re going to be very boisterous, shut up
here like rats in a trap?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Or birds in a cage, if you want a more pleasing image.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “How are you going to get us out, Edward?”

_Roberts_: “We don’t know yet.  But keep quiet”—

_Miller_: “Keep quiet!  Great heavens! we’re afraid to stir a finger.
Now don’t say ‘keep quiet’ any more, for we can’t stand it.”

_Lawton_: “He’s in open rebellion.  What are you going to do, Roberts?”

_Roberts_, rising and scratching his head: “Well, I don’t know yet.  We
might break a hole in the roof.”

_Lawton_: “Ah, I don’t think that would do.  Besides you’d have to get a
carpenter.”

_Roberts_: “That’s true.  And it would make a racket, and alarm the
house”—staring desperately at the grated doorway of the shaft.  “If I
could only find an elevator man—an elevator builder!  But of course they
all live in the suburbs, and they’re keeping Christmas, and it would take
too long, anyway.”

_Bemis_: “Hadn’t you better send for the police?  It seems to me it’s a
case for the authorities.”

_Lawton_: “Ah, there speaks the Europeanized mind!  They always leave the
initiative to the authorities.  Go out and sound the fire-alarm, Roberts.
It’s a case for the Fire Department.”

_Roberts_: “Oh, it’s all very well to joke, Dr. Lawton.  Why don’t you
prescribe something?”

_Lawton_: “Surgical treatment seems to be indicated, and I’m merely a
general practitioner.”

_Roberts_: “If Willis were only here, he’d find some way out of it.
Well, I’ll have to go for help somewhere”—

_Mrs. Roberts_ and _Mrs. Miller_, bursting upon the scene: “Oh, what is
it?”

_Lawton_: “Ah, you needn’t go for help, my dear fellow.  It’s come!”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “What are you all doing here, Edward?”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Oh, have you had any bad news of Mr. Miller?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Or Aunt Mary?”

_Miller_, calling up: “Well, are you going to keep us here all night?
Why don’t you do something?”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Oh, what’s that?  Oh, it’s Mr. Miller!  Oh, where are
you, Ellery?”

_Miller_: “In the elevator.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Oh! and where is the elevator?  Why don’t you get out?
Oh”—

_Miller_: “It’s caught, and we can’t.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Caught?  Oh, then you will be killed—killed—killed!  And
it’s all my fault, sending you back after my fan, and I had it all the
time in my own pocket; and it comes from my habit of giving it to you to
carry in your overcoat pocket, because it’s deep, and the fan can’t
break.  And of course I never thought of my own pocket, and I never
_should_ have thought of it at all if Mr. Curwen hadn’t been going back
to get Mrs. Curwen’s glove, for he’d brought another right after she’d
sent him for a left, and we were all having such a laugh about it, and I
just happened to put my hand on my pocket, and there I felt the fan.  And
oh, _what_ shall I do?”  Mrs. Miller utters these explanations and
self-reproaches in a lamentable voice, while crouching close to the
grated door to the elevator shaft, and clinging to its meshes.

_Miller_: “Well, well, it’s all right.  I’ve got you another fan, here.
Don’t be frightened.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, wildly: “Where’s Aunt Mary, Edward?  Has Willis got
back?”  At a guilty look from her husband: “Edward! _don’t_ tell me that
_she’s_ in that elevator!  Don’t do it, Edward!  For your own sake don’t.
Don’t tell me that your own child’s mother’s aunt is down there,
suspended between heaven and earth like—like”—

_Lawton_: “The coffin of the Prophet.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Yes.  _Don’t_ tell me, Edward!  Spare your child’s
mother, if you won’t spare your wife!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Agnes! don’t be ridiculous.  I’m here, and I never was
more comfortable in my life.”

_Mrs. Roberts_, calling down the grating “Oh!  Is it you, Aunt Mary?”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Of course it is!”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “You recognize my voice?”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “I should hope so, indeed!  Why shouldn’t I?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “And you know me?  Agnes?  Oh!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Don’t be a goose, Agnes.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, it _is_ you, aunty.  It _is_!  Oh, I’m _so_ glad!
I’m _so_ happy!  But keep perfectly still, aunty dear, and we’ll soon
have you out.  Think of baby, and don’t give way.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “I shall not, if the elevator doesn’t, you may depend
upon that.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, what courage you _do_ have!  But keep up your
spirits!  Mrs. Miller and I have just come from seeing baby.  She’s gone
to sleep with all her little presents in her arms.  The children did want
to see you so much before they went to bed.  But never mind that now,
Aunt Mary.  I’m only too thankful to have you at all!”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “I wish you did have me!  And if you will all stop
talking and try some of you to do something, I shall be greatly obliged
to you.  It’s worse than it was in the sleeping car that night.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, do you remember it, Aunt Mary?  Oh, how funny you
are!”  Turning heroically to her husband: “Now, Edward, dear, get them
out.  If it’s necessary, get them out over my dead body.  Anything!  Only
hurry.  I will be calm; I will be patient.  But you must act instantly.
Oh, here comes Mr. Curwen!”  _Mr. Curwen_ mounts the stairs to the
landing with every sign of exhaustion, as if he had made a very quick run
to and from his house.  “Oh, _he_ will help—I know he will!  Oh, Mr.
Curwen, the elevator is caught just below here with my aunt in it and
Mrs. Miller’s husband”—

_Lawton_: “And my girl.”

_Bemis_: “And my boy.”

_Mrs. Curwen_, calling up: “And your wife!”

_Curwen_, horror-struck: “And my wife!  Oh, heavenly powers! what are we
going to do?  How shall we get them out?  Why don’t they come up?”

_All_: “They can’t.”

_Curwen_: “Can’t?  Oh, my goodness!”  He flies at the grating, and kicks
and beats it.

_Roberts_: “Hold on!  What’s the use of that?”

_Lawton_: “You couldn’t get at them if you beat the door down.”

_Bemis_: “Certainly not.”  They lay hands upon him and restrain him.

_Curwen_, struggling: “Let me speak to my wife!  Will you prevent a
husband from speaking to his own wife?”

_Mrs. Miller_, in blind admiration of his frenzy: “Yes, that’s just what
I said.  If some one had beaten the door in at once”—

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, Edward, dear, let him speak to his wife.”
Tearfully: “Think if _I_ were there!”

_Roberts_, releasing him: “He may speak to his wife all night.  But he
mustn’t knock the house down.”

_Curwen_, rushing at the grating: “Caroline!  Can you hear me?  Are you
safe?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Perfectly.  I had a little faint when we first stuck”—

_Curwen_: “Faint?  Oh!”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “But I am all right now.”

_Curwen_: “Well, that’s right.  Don’t be frightened!  There’s no occasion
for excitement.  Keep perfectly calm and collected.  It’s the only
way—What’s that ringing?”  The sound of an electric bell is heard within
the elevator.  It increases in fury.

_Mrs. Roberts_ and _Mrs. Miller_: “Oh, isn’t it dreadful?”

_The Elevator Boy_: “It’s somebody on the ground-floor callin’ the
elevator!”

_Curwen_: “Well, never mind him.  Don’t pay the slightest attention to
him.  Let him go to the deuce!  And, Caroline!”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Yes?”

_Curwen_: “I—I—I’ve got your glove all right.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Left, you mean, I hope?”

_Curwen_: “Yes, left, dearest!  I _mean_ left.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Eight-button?”

_Curwen_: “Yes.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Light drab?”

_Curwen_, pulling a light yellow glove from his pocket: “Oh!”  He
staggers away from the grating and stays himself against the wall, the
mistaken glove dangling limply from his hand.

_Roberts_, _Lawton_, and _Bemis_: “Ah! ha! ha! ha!”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, for shame! to laugh at such a time!”

_Mrs. Miller_: “When it’s a question of life and death.  There!  The
ringing’s stopped.  What’s that?”  Steps are heard mounting the stairway
rapidly, several treads at a time.  Mr. Campbell suddenly bursts into the
group on the landing with a final bound from the stairway.  “Oh!”

_Campbell_: “I can’t find Aunt Mary, Agnes.  I can’t find anything—not
even the elevator.  Where’s the elevator?  I rang for it down there till
I was black in the face.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “No wonder!  It’s here.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Between this floor and the floor below.  With my husband
in it.”

_Curwen_: “And my wife!”

_Lawton_: “And my daughter!”

_Bemis_: “And my son!”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “And aunty!”

_All_: “And it’s stuck fast.”

_Roberts_: “And the long and short of it is, Willis, that we don’t know
how to get them out, and we wish you would suggest some way.”

_Lawton_: “There’s been a great tacit confidence among us in your
executive ability and your inventive genius.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Oh, yes, we know you can do it.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “If you can’t, nothing can save them.”

_Campbell_, going to the grating: “Miller!”

_Miller_: “Well?”

_Campbell_: “Start her up!”

_Miller_: “Now, look here, Campbell, we are not going to stand that;
we’ve had enough of it.  I speak for the whole elevator.  Don’t you
suppose that if it had been possible to start her up we”—

_Mrs. Curwen_: “We shouldn’t have been at the moon by this time.”

_Campbell_: “Well, then, start her _down_!”

_Miller_: “I never thought of that.”  To the _Elevator Boy_: “Start her
down.”  To the people on the landing above: “Hurrah!  She’s off!”

_Campbell_: “Well, _now_ start her up!”

A joint cry from the elevator: “Thank you! we’ll walk up this time.”

_Miller_: “Here! let us out at this landing!”  They are heard
precipitately emerging, with sighs and groans of relief, on the floor
below.

_Mrs. Roberts_, devoutly: “O Willis, it seems like an interposition of
Providence, your coming just at this moment.”

_Campbell_: “Interposition of common sense!  These hydraulic elevators
weaken sometimes, and can’t go any farther.”

_Roberts_, to the shipwrecked guests, who arrive at the top of the
stairs, crestfallen, spent, and clinging to one another for support: “Why
didn’t you think of starting her down, some of you?”

_Mrs. Roberts_, welcoming them with kisses and hand-shakes: “I should
have thought it would occur to you at once.”

_Miller_, goaded to exasperation: “Did it occur to any of _you_?”

_Lawton_, with sublime impudence: “It occurred to _all_ of us.  But we
naturally supposed you had tried it.”

_Mrs. Miller_, taking possession of her husband: “Oh, what a fright you
have given us!”

_Miller_: “_I_ given you!  Do you suppose I did it out of a joke, or
voluntarily?”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Aunty, I don’t know what to say to you.  _You_ ought to
have been here long ago, before anything happened.”

_Mrs. Crashaw_: “Oh, I can explain everything in due season.  What I wish
you to do now is to let me get at Willis, and kiss him.”  As _Campbell_
submits to her embrace: “You dear, good fellow!  If it hadn’t been for
your presence of mind, I don’t know how we should ever have got out of
that horrid pen.”

_Mrs. Curwen_, giving him her hand: “As it isn’t proper for _me_ to kiss
you”—

_Campbell_: “Well, I don’t know.  I don’t wish to be _too_ modest.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “I think I shall have to vote you a service of plate.”

_Mrs. Roberts_: “Come and look at the pattern of mine.  And, Willis, as
you are the true hero of the occasion, you shall take me in to dinner.
And I am not going to let anybody go before you.”  She seizes his arm,
and leads the way from the landing into the apartment.  _Roberts_,
_Lawton_, and _Bemis_ follow stragglingly.

_Mrs. Miller_, getting her husband to one side: “When she fainted, she
fainted _at_ you, of course!  What did you do?”

_Miller_: “Who?  I!  Oh!”  After a moment’s reflection: “She came to!”

_Curwen_, getting his wife aside: “When you fainted, Caroline, who
revived you?”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Who?  _Me_?  Oh!  How should I know?  I was insensible.”
They wheel arm in arm, and meet _Mr._ and _Mrs. Miller_ in the middle.
_Mrs. Curwen_ yields precedence with an ironical courtesy: “After you,
Mrs. Miller!”

_Mrs. Miller_, in a nervous, inimical twitter: “Oh, before the heroine of
the lost elevator?”

_Mrs. Curwen_, dropping her husband’s arm, and taking _Mrs. Miller’s_:
“Let us split the difference.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “Delightful!  I shall never forget the honor.”

_Mrs. Curwen_: “Oh, don’t speak of honors!  Mr. Miller was _so_ kind
through all those terrible scenes in the elevator.”

_Mrs. Miller_: “I’ve no doubt you showed yourself duly grateful.”  They
pass in, followed by their husbands.

_Young Mr. Bemis_, timidly: “Miss Lawton, in the elevator you asked me
not to leave you.  Did you—ah—mean—I _must_ ask you; it may be my only
chance; if you meant—never?”

_Miss Lawton_, dropping her head: “I—I—don’t—know.”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “But if I _wished_ never to leave you, should you send
me away?”

_Miss Lawton_, with a shy, sly upward glance at him: “Not in the
elevator!”

_Young Mr. Bemis_: “Oh!”

_Mrs. Roberts_, re-appearing at the door: “Why, you good-for-nothing
young things, why don’t you come to—Oh! excuse me!”  She re-enters
precipitately, followed by her tardy guests, on whom she casts a backward
glance of sympathy.  “Oh, you _needn’t_ hurry!”





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