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A Proposal Under Difficulties by Bangs

[Illustration: "PST!"]

A Proposal Under Difficulties

A Farce

By John Kendrick Bangs


Harper & Brothers Publishers New York and London 1905

Copyright, 1896, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._

Published September, 1905.


ROBERT YARDSLEY, } _suitors for the hand of JACK BARLOW, } Miss Andrews_.

DOROTHY ANDREWS, _a much-loved young woman_.

JENNIE, _a housemaid_.

HICKS, _a coachman, who does not appear_.


_The scene is laid in a fashionable New York drawing-room. The time is late in October, and Wednesday afternoon. The curtain rising shows an empty room. A bell rings. After a pause the front-door is heard opening and closing. Enter YARDSLEY through portiere at rear of room._

_Yardsley._ Ah! So far so good; but I wish it were over. I've had the nerve to get as far as the house and into it, but how much further my courage will carry me I can't say. Confound it! Why is it, I wonder, that men get so rattled when they're head over heels in love, and want to ask the fair object of their affections to wed? I can't see. Now I'm brave enough among men. I'm not afraid of anything that walks, except Dorothy Andrews, and generally I'm not afraid of her. Stopping runaway teams and talking back to impudent policemen have been my delight. I've even been courageous enough to submit a poem in person to the editor of a comic weekly, and yet here this afternoon I'm all of a tremble. And for what reason? Just because I've co-come to ask Dorothy Andrews to change her name to Mrs. Bob Yardsley; as if that were such an unlikely thing for her to do. Gad! I'm almost inclined to despise myself. (_Surveys himself in the mirror at one end of the room. Then walking up to it and peering intently at his reflection, he continues._) Bah! you coward! Afraid of a woman--a sweet little woman like Dorothy. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Bob Yardsley. _She_ won't hurt you. Brace up and propose like a man--like a real lover who'd go through fire for her sake, and all that. Ha! That's easy enough to talk about, but how shall I put it? That's the question. Let me see. How _do_ men do it? I ought to buy a few good novels and select the sort of proposal I like; but not having a novel at hand, I must invent my own. How will it be? Something like this, I fancy. (_The portieres are parted, and JENNIE, the maid, enters. YARDSLEY does not observe her entrance._) I'll get down on my knees. A man on his knees is a pitiable object, and pity, they say, is akin to love. Maybe she'll pity me, and after that--well, perhaps pity's cousin will arrive. (_The maid advances, but YARDSLEY is so intent upon his proposal that he still fails to observe her. She stands back of the sofa, while he, gazing downward, kneels before it._) I'll say: "Divine creature! At last we are alone, and I--ah--I can speak freely the words that have been in my heart to say to you for so long--oh, so long a time." (_JENNIE appears surprised._) "I have never even hinted at how I feel towards you. I have concealed my love, fearing lest by too sudden a betrayal of my feelings I should lose all." (_Aside._) Now for a little allusion to the poets. Poetry, they say, is a great thing for proposals. "You know, dearest, you must know, how the poet has phrased it--'Fain would I fall but that I fear to climb.' But now--now I must speak. An opportunity like this may not occur again. Will you--will you be my wife?"

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