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Home »  Students Zone » Reading and Quotes » Nellie McClung » Purple Springs - The Play  

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Purple Springs - The Play (Part 1)


"Sorry, sir," said the man in the box-office of the Grand, "but the house had been sold out for two days now. The standing room has gone too."


"Can you tell me what this is all about, that every one is so crazy to see it?" the man at the wicket asked, with studied carelessness. He was a thick-set man, with dark glasses, and wore a battered hat, and a much bedraggled waterproof.


"The women here have got up a Parliament, and are showing tonight," said the ticket-seller. "They pretend that only women vote, and women only sit in Parliament. The men will come, asking for the vote, and they'll get turned down good and plenty, just like the old man turned them down."


"Did the Premier turn them down?" asked the stranger. "I didn't hear about it."


"Did he? I guess, yes—he ripped into them in his own sweet way. Did you ever hear the old man rage? Boy! Well, the women have a girl here who is going to do his speech. She's the woman Premier, you understand, and she can talk just like him. She does everything except chew the dead cigar. The fellows in behind say it's the richest thing they ever heard. The old boy will have her shot at sunrise, for sure.


"He won't hear her," said the man in the waterproof, with sudden energy. "He won't know anything about it."
"Sure he will. The old man is an old blunderbuss, but he's too good a sport to stay away. They're decorating a box for him, and have his name on it. He can't stay away."
"He can if he wants to," snapped the other man. "What does he care about this tommyrot—he'll take no notice of it."


"Well," said the man behind the wicket, "I believe he'll come. But say, he sure started something when he got these women after him. They're the sharpest-tongued things you ever listened to, and they have their speeches all ready. The big show opens tonight, and every seat is sold. You may get a ticket though at the last minute, from some one who cannot come. There are always some who fail to show up at the last. I can save you a ticket if this happens. What name?"


"Jones," said the gentleman in the waterproof. No doubt the irritation in his voice was caused by having to confess to such a common name. "Robertson Jones. Be sure you have it right," and he passed along the rail to make room for two women who also asked for tickets.


The directors of the Women's Parliament knew the advertising value of a mystery, being students of humanity, and its odd little ways. They knew that people are attracted by the unknown; so in their advance notices they gave the names of all the women taking part in the play, but one. The part of the Premier—the star part—would be taken by a woman whose identity they were "not at liberty to reveal." Well-known press women were taking the other parts, and their pictures appeared on the posters, but no clue was given out as to the identity of the woman Premier.


Long before sundown, the people gathered at the theatre door, for the top gallery would open for rush seats at seven. Even the ticket holders had been warned that no seat would be held after eight o'clock.


Through the crowd came the burly and aggressive form of Robertson Jones, still wearing his dark glasses and with a disfiguring strip of court plaster across his check. At the wicket he made inquiry for his ticket, and was told to stand back and wait. Tickets were held until eight o'clock.
In the lobby, flattening himself against the marble wall, he waited, with his hat well down over his face. Crowds of people, mostly women, surged past him, laughing, chattering, feeling in their ridiculous bags for their tickets, or the price of a box of chocolates at the counter, where two red-gold blondes presided.

 
Inside, as the doors swung open, he saw a young fellow in evening dress, giving out handbills, and an exclamation almost escaped him. He had forgotten all about Peter Neelands!


Robertson Jones, caught in the eddies of women, buffeted by them, his toes stepped upon, elbowed, crowded, grew more and more scornful of their intelligence, and would probably have worked his way out—if he could, but the impact of the crowd worked him forward.


"A silly, cackling hen-party," he muttered to himself. "I'll get out of this—it's no place for a man—Lord deliver me from a mob like this, with their crazy tittering. There ought to be a way to stop these things. It's demoralizing—it's unseemly."


It was impossible to turn back, however, and he found himself swept inside. He thought of the side door as a way of escape, but to his surprise, he saw the whole Cabinet arriving there and filing into the boxes over which the colors of the province were draped; every last one of them, in evening dress.


That was the first blow of the evening! Every one of them had said they would not go—quite scornfully—and spoke of it as "The Old Maids' Convention"—Yet they came!
He wedged his way back to the box office, only to find that there was no ticket for him. Every one had been lifted. But he determined to stay. Getting in again, he approached a man in a shabby suit, sitting in the last row.


"I'll give you five dollars for your seat," he whispered.
"Holy smoke!" broke from the astonished seat-holder, and then, recovering from his surprise, he said, "Make it ten."
"Shut up the, and get out—here's your money," said Mr. Jones harshly, and in the hurriedly vacated seat, he sat down heavily.


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Nellie McClung
Purple Springs
Anti-Suffrage Reasoning
Women on Homesteads
Woman Suffrage Bill
Letter from Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy
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