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