List Of Contents | Contents of A Summer in a Canyon, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
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our young people had studied it in Dr. Winship's Shakespeare class
the preceding winter, but they were actually dumb with astonishment
when Bell proposed it for the opening performance in the new theatre.

'I tell you,' she argued, 'there are not many pieces which would be
effective when played out of doors by dim candle-light, but this will
be just as romantic and lovely as can be.  You see it can be played
just "as you like it."'

Philip and Aunt Truth wanted a matinee performance, but the girls
resisted this plan very strongly, feeling that the garish light of
day would be bad for the makeshift costumes, and would be likely to
rob them of what little courage they possessed.

'We give the decoration of the theatre entirely into your hands,
boys,' Polly had said on the day before the performance.  'You have
some of the hardest work done already, and can just devote yourselves
to the ornamental part; but don't expect any more ideas from us, for
you will certainly be disappointed.'

'I should think not, indeed!' cried Bell, energetically.  'Here we
have the wall decorations for the first scene, and all the costumes
besides; and the trouble is, that three or four of them will have to
be made to-morrow, after Laura comes with the trappings of war.  I
hope she will get here for dinner to-night; then we can decide on our
finery, and have a rough rehearsal.'

'Well, girls!' shouted Jack, from the theatre, 'come and have one
consultation, and then we'll let you off.  Phil wants to change the
location altogether.'

'Oh, nonsense!' cried Madge, as the three girls ran towards the scene
of action.  'It's the only suitable place within a mile of the camp.'

'I think it will be simply perfect, when you have done a little more
cutting,' said Bell.  'Just see our advantages:  First, we have that
rising knoll opposite the stage, which is exactly the thing for
audience seats; then we have a semicircular background of trees and a
flat place for the stage, which is perfectly invaluable; last of all,
just gaze upon that madrono-tree in the centre, and the oak on the
left; why, they are worth a thousand dollars for scenery.'

'Especially in the first scene--ducal interior, or whatever it is,'
said Phil, disconsolately.

'Jingo! that is a little embarrassing,' groaned Jack.

'Not at all,' said Polly, briskly.  'There is plenty of room to set
the interior in front of those trees.  It can be all fixed
beforehand, and just whisked away for good at the end of the first

'That's true,' said Geoff, thoughtfully.  'But we can't have any
Adam's cottage.  We talked it over last night, and decided it
"couldn't be did."'

'Did you indeed!' exclaimed Bell, sarcastically.  'Then allow me to
remark that you three boys represent a very obtuse triangle.'

'Thanks, most acid Rosalind!' murmured Geoff, meekly.  'Could you
deign, as spokesman of the very acute triangle, to suggest

'Certainly.  There is the rear of the brush kitchen in plain sight,
to convey the idea of a rustic hut.  To be sure, it's a good distance
to the left, but let the audience screw round in their seats when
they hear the voices, and Adam, Oliver, and Orlando can walk out
carelessly, and go through their scene right there.'

'Admirable!' quoth Geoff.  'We bow to your superior judgment.'

'What an inspiration that was to bring those Chinese lanterns for the
Fourth of July; they have just saved us from utter ruin,' said
Margery, who was quietly making leaf-trimming.

'Yes, the effect is going to be perfectly gorgeous!' exclaimed Polly,
clasping her hands in anticipation.  'How many have we?  Ten?  Oh,
that's splendid; and how many candles?'

'As many as we care to use,' Phil answered, from the top of the
ladder where he was at work.  'And look at my arrangement for holding
them to these trees.  Aren't they immense?'

'By the way,' said Bell, 'don't forget the mossy banks under those
trees, for stage seats; and make me some kind of a thing on the left
side, to swoon on when I sniff Orlando's gory handkerchief.'

'A couple of rocks,' suggested Jack.

'Not exactly,' replied the critical Rosalind, with great dignity.  'I
am black and blue already from practising my faint, and I expect to
shriek with pain when I fall to-morrow night.'

'St. Jacob's Oil relieves stiffened joints, smooths the wrinkles from
the brow of care, soothes lacerated feelings, and 'ushes the 'owl of
hinfancy,' remarked Geoffrey serenely, as he prepared to build the
required mossy banks.

'My dear cousin (there are times when I am glad it is only second
cousin), have you a secret contract to advertise a vulgar patent
medicine? or why this eloquence?' laughed Bell.

'And, Jack,' suggested Polly, 'you don't seem to be doing anything;
fix a stump for me to sit on while Orlando and Rosalind are making

'All right, countess.  I'd like to see you stumped once in my life.
Shall we have the canvases brought for stage carpets?'

'We say no,' cried Rosalind, firmly.  'We shall be a thousand times
more awkward stumbling over stiff billows of carpet.  Let's sweep the
ground as clean and smooth as possible, and let it go for all the

'Yes, we shall then be well GROUNDED in our parts,' remarked Phil,
hiding his head behind a bunch of candles.

'Take care, young man,' laughed Polly, 'or you may be "run to earth"

'Or be requested by the audience to get up and dust,' cried the
irrepressible Jack, whose wit was very apt to be of a slangy
character.  'Now let us settle the interior, or I shall go mad.'

'Bell and I have it all settled,' said Geoffrey, promptly.  'The
background is to be made of three sheets hung over a line, and the
two sides will be formed of canvas carpets; the walls will have
Japanese fans, parasols, and--'

'Jupiter!' exclaimed Jack, who, as knight of the brush, felt
compelled to be artistic.  'Imagine a ducal palace, in the year so
many hundred and something, decorated with Japanese bric-a-brac!  I
blush for you.'

'Now, Jack, we might as well drop the whole play as begin to think of
the 'nakkeronisms,' or whatever the word is.  I have got to wear an
old white wrapper to the wrestling-match, but I don't complain,' said

Just here Bell ran back from the kitchen, exclaiming:

'I have secured Pancho for Charles the Wrestler.  Oh, he was
fearfully obstinate! but when I told him he would only be on the
stage two minutes, and would not have to speak a word, but just let
Geoff throw him, he consented.  Isn't that good?  Did you decide
about the decorations?'

'It will have to be just as we suggested,' answered Margery.  'Fans,
parasols, flowers, and leaves, with the madrono-wood furniture
scattered about, sheep-skins, etc.'

'A few venison rugs, I presume you mean,' said Geoffrey, slyly.
'Say, Polly, omit the cold cream for once, will you?  You don't want
to outshine everybody.'

'Thank you,' she replied.  'I will endeavour to take care of my own
complexion, if you will allow me.  As for yours, you look more like
Othello than Orlando.'

'Come, come, girls,' said industrious Margery, 'let us go to the tent
and sew.  It is nothing but nonsense here, and we are not
accomplishing anything.'

So they wisely left the boys to themselves for the entire day, and
transformed their tent into a mammoth dressmaking establishment, with
clever Aunt Truth as chief designer.

The intervening hours had slipped quickly away, and now the fatal
moment had arrived, and everything was ready for the play.

The would-be actresses were a trifle excited when the Professor and
his eight students were brought up and introduced by Jack and Scott
Burton; and, as if that were not enough, who should drive up at the
last moment but the family from the neighbouring milk ranch, and beg
to be allowed the pleasure of witnessing the performance.  Mr.
Sandford was the gentleman who had sold Dr. Winship his land, and so
they were cordially invited to remain.

All the cushions and shawls belonging to the camp were arranged
carefully on the knoll, for audience seats; it was a brilliant
moonlight night, and the stage assumed a very festive appearance with
its four pounds of candles and twelve Chinese lanterns.

Meanwhile the actors were dressing in their respective tents.  Bell's
first dress was a long pink muslin wrapper of Mrs. Burton's, which
had been belted in and artistically pasted over with bouquets from
the cretonne trunk covers, in imitation of flowered satin; under this
she wore a short blue lawn skirt of her own, catching up the pink
muslin on the left side with a bouquet of wild roses, and producing
what she called a 'positively Neilson effect.'

Her bright hair was tossed up into a fluffy knot on the top of her
head; and with a flat coronet of wild roses and another great bunch
at her belt, one might have gone far and not have found a prettier

'I declare, you are just too lovely--isn't she, Laura?' asked

'Yes, she looks quite well,' answered Laura, abstractedly, being much
occupied in making herself absurdly beautiful as Audrey.  'Of course
the dress fits horridly, but perhaps it won't show in the dim light.'

'Oh, is it very bad?' sighed Bell, plaintively; 'I can't see it in
this glass.  Well, the next one fits better, and I have to wear that
the longest.  Shall I do your hair, Laura?'

'No--thanks; Margery has such a capital knack at hair-dressing, and
she doesn't come on yet.'

During this conversation Polly was struggling with Aunt Truth's
trained white wrapper.  It was rather difficult to make it look like
a court dress; but she looked as fresh and radiant as a rose in it,
for the candle-light obliterated every freckle, and one could see
nothing but a pair of dancing eyes, the pinkest of cheeks, and a head
running over with curls of ruddy gold.

'Now, Bell, criticise me!' she cried, taking a position in the middle
of the tent, and turning round like a wax figure.  'I have torn out
my hair by the roots to give it a "done up" look, and have I
succeeded? and shall I wear any flowers with this lace surplice? and
what on earth shall I do with my hands? they're so black they will
cast a gloom over the stage.  Perhaps I can wrap my handkerchief
carelessly round one, and I'll keep the other round your waist,
considerable, tucked under your Watteau pleat.  Will I do?'

'Do?  I should think so!' and Bell eyed her with manifest approval.
'Your hair is very nice, and your neck looks lovely with that lace
handkerchief.  As for flowers, why don't you wear a great mass of
yellow and white daisies?  You'll be as gorgeous as--'

'As a sunset by Turner,' said Laura, with a glance at Polly's auburn
locks.  'Seems to me this is a mutual admiration society, isn't it?'
and she sank languidly into a chair to have her hair dressed.

'Yes, it is,' cried Polly, boldly; 'and it's going to "continner."
Meg, you're a darling in that blue print and pretty hat.  I'll fill
my fern-basket with flowers, and you can take it, as to have
something in your hand to play with.  You look nicer than any Phoebe
I ever saw, that's a fact.  And now, hurrah! we're all ready, and
there's the boys' bell, so let us assemble out in the kitchen.  Oh
dear!  I believe I'm frightened, in spite of every promise to the

When the young people saw each other for the first time in their
stage costumes there was a good deal of merriment and some honest
admiration.  Geoff looked very odd without his eyeglasses and with
the yellow wig that was the one property belonging to this star
dramatic organisation.

The girls had not succeeded in producing a great effect with the
masculine costumes, because of insufficient material.  But the boys
had determined not to wear their ordinary clothes, no matter what
happened; so Jack had donned one of Hop Yet's blue blouses for his
Sylvius dress, and had ready a plaid shawl to throw gracefully over
one shoulder whenever he changed to the Banished Duke.

His Sylvius attire was open to criticism, but no one could fail to
admire his appearance as the Duke, on account of a magnificent ducal
head-gear, from which soared a bunch of tall peacock feathers.

'Oh, Jack, what a head-dress for a Duke!' laughed Margery; 'no wonder
they banished you.  Did you offend the court hatter?'

Phil said that at all events nobody could mistake him for anything
but a fool, in his 'Touchstone' costume, and so he was jest-er going
to be contented.

Scott Burton was arranging Pancho's toilette for the wrestling-match,
and meanwhile trying to raise his drooping spirits; and Rosalind was
vainly endeavouring to make Adam's beard of grey moss stay on.

While these antics were going on behind the scenes, the audience was
seated on the knoll, making merry over the written programmes, which
had been a surprise of Geoff's, and read as follows:-

July 10th, 188-.


A Royal Galaxy and Boyaxy of Artists in the play of
By William Shakespeare, or Lord Bacon.


'Alas! unmindful of their doom, the little victims play;
No sense have they of ills to come, or cares beyond to-day.'

ROSALIND             The Lady Bell-Pepper.
                     (Her greatest creation.)
CELIA                The Countess Paulina.
PHOEBE               The Duchess of Sweet Marjoram.
AUDREY               A talented Incognita of the Court.
ORLANDO              Hennery Irving Salvini Strong.
                     (Late from the Blank Theatre, Oil City.)
ADAM                 Dr. Paul Winship.
                     (By kind permission of his manager,
                     Mrs. T. W.)
SYLVIUS       }      Lord John Howard } Lightning
TOUCHSTONE }                          } Change Artists.
JACQUE     }         Duke of Noble    }
               (N.B.--The Duke of Noble has played
                       the 'fool' five million times.)
OLIVER               Mr. Scott Burton.
                     (Specially engaged.)
CHARLES THE WRESTLER Pancho Muldoon Sullivan.
                     (His first appearance.)

The Comb Orchestra will play the Music of the Future.

The Usher will pass pop-corn between the Acts.  Beds may be ordered
at 10.30.

The scene between Adam and Orlando went off with good effect; and
when Celia and Rosalind came through the trees in an affectionate
attitude, and Celia's blithe voice broke the stillness with, 'I pray
thee, Rosalind, sweet my coz, be merry,' there was a hearty burst of
applause which almost frightened them into silence.

At the end of the first act everybody was delighted; the stage-
manager, carpenter, scene-shifter, costumier, and all the stars were
called successively before the curtain.

Hop Yet declared it was 'all the same good as China theatre'; and
every one agreed to that criticism without a dissenting voice.

To be sure, there was an utter absence of stage-management, and all
the 'traditions' were remarkable for their absence; but I fancy that
the spirits of Siddons and Kemble, Macready and Garrick, looked down

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