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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grocery Man And Peck's Bad Boy - Chapter 23
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The Grocery Man And Peck's Bad Boy - Chapter 23 Post by :robdawg Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :2257

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The Grocery Man And Peck's Bad Boy - Chapter 23

CHAPTER XXIII

GHOSTS DON'T STEAL WORMY FIGS--A GRAND REHERSAL--THE MINISTER MURDERS HAMLET--THE WATER-MELON KNIFE--THE OLD MAN WANTED TO REHERSE THE DRUNKEN SCENE IN RIP VAN WINKLE--NO HUGGING ALLOWED--HAMLET WOULDN'T HAVE TWO GHOSTS-"HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE AN IDIOT."

"I am thy father's ghost," said a sheeted form in the doorway of the grocery, one evening, and the grocery man got behind the cheese box, while the ghost continued in a sepulchral voice, "doomed for a certain time to walk the night," and, waving a chair round, the ghost strode up to the grocery man, and with the other ghostly hand reached into a box of figs.

"No you ain't no ghost," said the grocery man, recognizing the bad boy. "Ghosts do not go prowling around groceries stealing wormy figs. What do you mean by this sinful masquerade business? My father never had no ghost!"

"O, we have struck it now," said the bad boy as he pulled off his mask and rolled up the sheet he had worn around him. "We are going to have amateur theatricals, to raise money to have the church carpeted, and I am going to boss the job."

"You don't say," answered the grocery man, as he thought how much he could sell to the church people for a strawberry and ice cream festival, and how little he could sell for amateur theatricals. "Who is going into it and what are you going to play?"

"Pa and Ma, and me, and the minister, and three choir singers, and my chum, and the minister's wife, and two deacons, and an old maid are rehersing, but we have not decided what to play yet. They all want to play a different play, and I am fixing it so they can all be satisfied. The minister wants to play Hamlet, Pa wants to play Rip Van Winkle, Ma wants to play Mary Anderson, the old maid wants to play a boarding school play, and the choir singers want an opera, and the minister's wife wants to play Lady Macbeth, and my chum and me want to play a double song and dance, and I am going to give them all a show. We had a rehersal last night, and I am the only one able to be around to-day. You see they have all been studying different plays, and they all wanted to talk at once. We let the minister sail in first. He had on a pair of his wife's black stockings, and a mantle made of a linen buggy lap blanket and he wore a mason's cheese knife such as these fellows with poke bonnets and white feathers wear when they get an invitation to a funeral or an excursion. Well, you never saw Hamlet murdered the way he did it. His interpretation of the character was that Hamlet was a Dude that talked through his nose, and while he was repeating Hamlet's soliloquy, Pa, who had come in with an old hunting suit on, as Rip Van Winkle, went to sleep, and he didn't wake up till Lady Macbeth came in, in the sleep-walking scene. She couldn't find a knife, so I took a slice of watermelon and sharpened it for her, and she made a mistake in the one she was to stab, and she stabbed Hamlet in the neck with a slice of watermelon, and the core of the melon fell on Pa's face, as he lay asleep as Rip, and when Lady Macbeth said, 'Out damned spot,' Pa woke up and felt the gob of watermelon on his face and he thought he had been murdered, and Ma came in on a hop, skip and jump as 'Parthenia,' and threw her arms around a deacon who was going to play the grave digger, and began to call him pet names, and Pa was mad, and the choir singers they began to sing, 'In the North Sea lived a whale,' and then they quit acting. You'd a dide to see Hamlet. The piece of watermelon went down his neck, and Lady Macbeth went off and left it in the wound under his collar, and Ma had to pull it out, and Hamlet said the seeds and the juice was running down inside his shirt, and he said he wouldn't play if he was going to be stabbed with a slice of melon, so while his wife was getting the melon seeds out of his neck, and drying the juice on his shirt, I sharpened a cucumber for Lady Macbeth to use as a dagger, but Hamlet kicked on cucumbers, too, and I had more trouble than any stage manager ever had. Then Pa wanted to rehearse the drunken scene in Rip Van Winkle, where he hugs Grechten and drinks out of a flask behind her back, and he got one of the choir singers to act as Grechten, and I guess he would have been hugging till this time, and have swallowed the flask if Ma had not taken him by the ear, and said a little of that would go a good ways in an entertainment for the church. Pa said he didn't know as it was any worse than her prancing up to a grave digger and hugging him till the filling came out of his teeth, and then the minister decided that we wouldn't have any hugging at all in the play, and the choir girls said they wouldn't play, and the old maids struck, and the play come to a stand still."

"Well, that beats anything I ever heard tell of. It's a shame for people outside the profession to do play acting, and I won't go to the entertainment unless I get a pass," said the grocery man. "Did you rehearse any more?"

"Yes, the minister wanted to try the ghost scene," said the boy, "and he wanted me to be the ghost. Well, they have two 'Markses' and two 'Topsies' in Uncle Tom's cabin, and I thought two ghosts in Hamlet would about fill the bill for amateurs, so I got my chum to act as one ghost. We broke them all up. I wanted to have something new in ghosts, so my chum and me got two pair of Ma's long stockings, one pair red and one pair blue, and I put on a red one and a blue one, and my chum did the same. Then we got some ruffled clothes belonging to Ma, with flounces and things on, and put them on so they came most down to our knees, and we put sheets over us, clear to our feet, and when Hamlet got to yearning for his father's ghost, I came in out of the bath room with the sheet over me, and said I was the huckleberry he was looking for, and my chum followed me out and said he was a twin ghost, also, and then Hamlet got on his ear and said he wouldn't play with two ghosts, and he went off pouting, and then my chum and me pulled off the sheets and danced a clog dance. Well, when the rest of the troop saw our make up, it nearly killed them. Most of them had seen ballet dancers, but they never saw them with different colored socks. The minister said the benefit was rapidly becoming a farce, and before we had danced half a minute Ma she recognized her socks, and she came for me with a hot box, and made me take them off, and Pa was mad and said the dancing was the only thing that was worth the price of admission, and he scolded Ma, and the choir girls sided with Pa, and just then my chum caught his toe in the carpet and fell down, and that loosened the plaster overhead and about a bushel fell on the crowd. Pa thought lightning had struck the house, the minister thought it was a judgment on them all for play acting, and he began to shed his Hamlet costume with one hand and pick the plaster out of his hair with the other. The women screamed and tried to get the plaster out of their necks, and while Pa was brushing off the choir singers Ma said the rehearsal was adjourned, and they all went home, but we are going to rehearse again on Friday night. The play cannot be considered a success, but we will bring it out all right by the time the entertainment is to come off."

"By gum," said the grocery man, "I would like to have seen that minister as Hamlet. Didn't he look funny?"

"Funny! Well, I should remark. He seemed to predominate. That is, he was too fresh, too numerous, as it were. But at the next rehearsal I am going to work in an act from Richard the Third, and my chum is going to play the Chinaman of the Danites, and I guess we will take the cake. Say, I want to work in an idiot somewhere. How would you like to play the idiot. You wouldn't have to rehearse or anything--"

At this point the bad boy was seen to go out of the grocery store real spry, followed by a box of wooden clothes-pins that the grocery man had thrown after him.

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