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A Parody Outline of History(20)

2006-09-07 21:55

  CHAPTER IX "For the Freedom of the World"

  A DRAMA OF THE GREAT WAR

  Act I: In the Manner of Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews

  Act 2: In the Manner of Eugene O'Neill

  ACT ONE

  (Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews)

  SCENE I

  A principal street of an American city in the spring of 1918.

  At the rear of the stage, representing the opposite sidewalk of the street, are gathered many people come to bid farewell to the boys of the Blankth regiment who are soon to march past on their way to France.

  Extending across the "street", from footlights to "sidewalk", is a large white plaster arch, gayly decorated with the Allied colors.

  On this arch is the inscription "For the Freedom of the World."

  At the rising of the curtain, distant march music is heard (off stage, right); this constantly grows louder during the ensuing dialogue which takes place between three elderly women crowded together at the edge of the sidewalk. These women, although, before the war, of different stations in social rank, are now united, as are all mothers in the Allied countries, by the glorious badge which each proudly wears pinned over her heart——the service star.

  The Professor's Wife I hear them coming.

  The Street-cleaner's Wife So do I. I hope my boy Pat sees me.

  The Pawnbroker's Wife I told my Jean where to look.

  The approaching music and the cheering of the spectators drowns out further conversation.

  Enter (right) the regimental band playing the "Stars and Stripes Forever." They march through the arch and exit left. Following them comes the flag, at the sight of which all the male spectators (young boys and men too old to fight) remove their hats. After the colors come the troops, splendid clean faced fellows, in whose eyes shines the light of civilization's ideals, in whose ears rings the never forgettable cry of heroic France and brave little Belgium. The boys are marching four abreast, with a firm determined step; it is as though each man were saying to himself "They shall not pass."

  After the first few squads have marched through the arch and off left, the command is issued off-stage "Company——HALT." A young lieutenant repeats this order to his men, and the column comes to a stop. The men stand at attention until given the command "Rest", when they relax and a murmur of conversation arises from the ranks, in which characteristic sentences "German ideals are not our ideals" and "Suppose it was your own sister" show only too well what the boys are thinking of day and night.

  As the column halts, the three service star mothers rush out from the curb and embrace their sons who happen to be in this company. At the same time a very attractive girl runs up to the young lieutenant.

  The Lieutenant——Ellen!

  His Fiancee——John!

  The Professor's Son} The Streetcleaner's Son } Mother!

  The Pawnbroker's Son }

  The Professor's Wife }

  The Streetcleaner's Wife } My Boy!

  The Pawnbroker's Wife }

  Voice off stage——Company——Atten SHUN!

  The farewells are said, the men come to attention.

  Voice off stage——Forward——MARCH

  The Lieutenant——(Pointing with his sword to the inscription on the arch)——Forward for the Freedom of the World——MARCH.

  The men's teeth click together, their heads are thrown back, and with a light in their eyes that somehow suggests Joan of Arc the Crusaders move on.

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