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Chantecler: Play in Four Acts

281 pages
Library of Alexandria
The customary three knocks are heard. The drop-curtain wavers and is rising, when a voice rings out, "Not yet!" and the MANAGER, a gentleman of important mien in evening dress, springing from his proscenium box, hurries toward the stage, repeating, "Not yet!" The curtain is again lowered. The MANAGER turns toward the audience, and resting one hand on the prompter's box, addresses them: The curtain is a wall,—a flying wall. Assured that presently the wall will fly—why haste? Is it not charming to delay—and just look at it for a while? Charming to sit before a great red wall, hanging beneath two gilt masks and a scroll—The thrilling moment is when the curtain thrills, and sounds come from the other side. You are desired to-night to listen to those sounds and entering the scene before you see it, to wonder and surmise— Bending his ear, the MANAGER listens to the sounds now beginning to come from behind the curtain. A footstep—is it a road? A flutter of wings—is it a garden? The curtain here rippling as if about to rise, the MANAGER precipitately shouts, "Stop!—Do not raise it yet!" Then again bending his ear, continues making note of the noises, clear or confused, single or combined, that from this onward come without stop from behind the curtain. A magpie cawing flies away. Great wooden shoes come running over flags. A courtyard, is it?—If so above a valley—from whence that softened clamour of birds and barking dogs.