In the Nursery by Hans Christian Andersen
FATHERand motherand brothersand sisterswere gone to the play; onlylittle Anna and her grandpapa were left at home.
"We'll have a play too" he said"and it may beginimmediately."
"But we have no theatre" cried little Anna"and we have noone to act for us; my old doll cannotfor she is a frightand my new onecannotfor she must not rumple her new clothes."
"One can always get actors if one makes use of what one has"observed grandpapa.
"Now we'll go into the theatre. Here we will put up a bookthereanotherand there a thirdin a sloping row. Now three on the other side; sonow we have the side scenes. The old box that lies yonder may be the back stairs;and we'll lay the flooring on top of it. The stage represents a roomas everyone may see. Now we want the actors. Let us see what we can find in theplaything-box. First the personagesand then we will get the play ready. Oneafter the other; that will be capital! Here's a pipe-headand yonder an oddglove; they will do very well for father and daughter."
"But those are only two characters" said little Anna. "Here'smy brother's old waistcoat- could not that play in our piecetoo?"
"It's big enoughcertainly" replied grandpapa. "It shall bethe lover. There's nothing in the pocketsand that's very interestingforthat's half of an unfortunate attachment. And here we have the nut-cracker'sbootswith spurs to them. Rowdowdow! how they can stamp and strut! Theyshall represent the unwelcome wooerwhom the lady does not like. What kind of aplay will you have now? Shall it be a tragedyor a domestic drama?"
"A domestic dramaplease" said little Anna"for the othersare so fond of that. Do you know one?"
"I know a hundred" said grandpapa. "Those that are most infavor are from the Frenchbut they are not good for little girls. In themeantimewe may take one of the prettiestfor inside they're all very muchalike. Now I shake the pen! Cock-a-lorum! So nowhere's the playbrin-bran-span new! Now listen to the play-bill."
And grandpapa took a newspaperand read as if he were reading from it: -
THE PIPE-HEAD AND THE GOOD HEAD
A Family Drama in One Act
MR. PIPE-HEADa father. MR. WAISTCOATa lover.
MISS GLOVEa daughter. MR. DE BOOTSa suitor. -
"And now we're going to begin. The curtain rises. We have no curtainsoit has risen already. All the characters are thereand so we have them at hand.Now I speak as Papa Pipe-head! He's angry to-day. One can see that he's acolored meerschaum.
"'Sniksnaksnurrebassellurre! I'm master of this house! I'm thefather of my daughter! Will you hear what I have to say? Mr. de Boots is aperson in whom one may see one's face; his upper part is of moroccoand he hasspurs into the bargain. Snikkesnakkesnak! He shall have my daughter!"
"Now listen to what the Waistcoat sayslittle Anna" saidgrandpapa. "Now the Waistcoat's speaking. The Waistcoat has a laydowncollarand is very modest; but he knows his own valueand has quite a right tosay what he says:
"'I haven't a spot on me! Goodness of material ought to be appreciated.I am of real silkand have strings to me.'
"'- On the wedding daybut no longer; you don't keep your color in thewash.' This is Mr. Pipe-head who is speaking. 'Mr. de Boots is water-tightofstrong leatherand yet very delicate; he can creakand clank with his spursand has an Italian physiognomy-'"
"But they ought to speak in verses" said Anna"for I'veheard that's the most charming way of all."
"They can do that too" replied grandpapa; "and if the publicdemands itthey will talk in that way. Just look at little Miss Glovehowshe's pointing her fingers! -
"'Could I but have my love
Who then so happy as Glove!
If I from him must part
I'm sure 'twill break my heart!'
'Bah!' - The last word was spoken by Mr. Pipe-head; and now it's Mr.Waistcoat's turn: -
"'O Glovemy own dear
Though it cost thee a tear
Thou must be mine
For Holger Danske has sworn it!' -
"Mr. de Bootshearing thiskicks upjingles his spursand knocksdown three of the side-scenes."
"That's exceedingly charming!" cried little Anna.
"Silence! silence!" said grandpapa. "Silent approbation willshow that you are the educated public in the stalls. Now Miss Glove sings hergreat song with startling effects: -
"'I can't seeheigho!
And therefore I'll crow!
Kikkerikiin the lofty hall!' -
"Now comes the exciting partlittle Anna. This is the most important inall the play. Mr. Waistcoat undoes himselfand addresses his speech to youthat you may applaud; but leave it alone- that's considered more genteel.
"'I am driven to extremities! Take care of yourself! Now comes the
plot! You are the Pipe-headand I am the good head- snap! there yougo!"
"Do you notice thislittle Anna?" asked grandpapa. "That's amost charming comedy. Mr. Waistcoat seized the old Pipe-head and put him in hispocket; there he liesand the Waistcoat says:
"'You are in my pocket; you can't come out till you promise to unite meto your daughter Glove on the left. I hold out my right hand.'"
"That's awfully pretty" said little Anna.
"And now the old Pipe-head replies: -
"'Though I'm all ear
Very stupid I appear:
Where's my humor? GoneI fear
And I feel my hollow stick's not here
Ah! nevermy dear
Did I feel so queer.
Oh! pray let me out
And like a lamb led to slaughter
I'll betroth youno doubt
To my daughter.'" -
"Is the play over already?" asked little Anna.
"By no means" replied grandpapa. "It's only all over with Mr.de Boots. Now the lovers kneel downand one of them sings: -
"'Father!' - and the other-
'Comedo as you ought to do-
Bless your son and daughter.' - And they receive his blessingand celebratetheir weddingand all the pieces of furniture sing in chorus-
A thousand thanks;
And now the play is over!' -
"And now we'll applaud" said grandpapa. "We'll call them alloutand the pieces of furniture toofor they are of mahogany."
"And is not our play just as good as those which the others have in thereal theatre?"
"Our play is much better" said grandpapa. "It is shortertheperformers are naturaland it has passed away the interval before tea-time."- -