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A Parody Outline of History(21)

2006-09-07 21:55

  Scene II

  Three months later.

  A section of an American front line trench now occupied by the Blankth regiment.

  It is early morning and the three soldiers mentioned in Scene 1 are conversing together for perhaps the last time, for soon they are to be given the chance which every American man desires more than anything in the world—— the opportunity to go "over the top".

  The Professor's Son——Well fellows, in a few minutes we shall be able to show the people at home that their boys are not cowards when the fate of civilization is at stake.

  The Pawnbroker's Son——Here's a newspaper clipping mother sent me. It's from a speech made the other day in Congress. (He reads) "And we and our children——and our children's children will never forget the debt we owe those brave boys who are now in France."

  The Streetcleaner's Son——That makes a fellow feel pretty good inside, doesn't it? It makes me glad I'm doing my bit—— and after the war I hope the ideals which have inspired us all will make us better citizens in a better world.

  The Professor's Son——Not only will we be better citizens—— not only will the torch of liberty shine more brightly——but also each one of us will go back to his job with a deeper vision.

  The Pawnbroker's Son——That's right I am a musician——a pianist, you know——and I hope that after the war I shall be able to tell America, through my music, of the glory of this holy cause.

  The Professor's Son——I didn't know you were a pianist.

  The Pawnbroker's Son——Yes——ever since I was a boy——I have had no other interest. My father tried to make me go into his shop but I couldn't stand it. He got angry and refused to support me; I had a hard time until I won a scholarship at a New York musical college. Just before the war I had a chance to play the Schumann concerto with the Philharmonic; the critics all said that in another year I would be—— but fellows——you must think me frightfully conceited to talk so, and besides what matters my musical career in comparison with the sacrifice which everyone is making?

  The Streetcleaner's Son——And gladly making, too, for it is easy to give up all, as did Joan of Arc, for France. Attention, men! here comes one of our officers.

  The three stand at attention.

  Enter the Lieutenant.

  The Lieutenant——Well, men, do you feel ready?

  The Three——More than ready, sir——eager.

  The Lieutenant——Brave men! (To the Professor's Son) Come here a minute, Keating. I have something to ask you before we go over the top.

  The Professor's Son and the Lieutenant go to one side.

  The Lieutenant——(To the other two in a kindly manner)——At ease!

  The Streetcleaner's Son——Thank you, sir.

  They relax from their rigid posture of "attention".

  The Lieutenant——(To the Professor's Son)——Keating, when we "go over", we——may——never come back, you know. And I want to ask a favor of you. I am engaged——to a girl back home——here is her picture (he draws a photograph from his inner breast pocket and shows it to the Professor's Son.)

  The Professor's Son——She is beautiful, Sir.

  The Lieutenant——(Putting the photograph back in his pocket)—— Yes very beautiful. And (dropping his eyes)——I love her. If——if I should "go west" I want you to write her and tell her that my last thoughts were of my country and——her. We are to be married—— after the war——if (suddenly clearing his throat). Her name is Ellen Radcliff——here, I'll write the address down for you.

  He does so, and hands the slip of paper to the Professor's Son, who discreetly turns away.

  The Lieutenant——(Brusquely)——That's all, Keating.

  A bugle sounds.

  The Lieutenant——Attention men! At the next bugle call you go over the top—— remember that you are Americans and that Americans know how to fight and die in the cause of liberty and for the freedom of the world. The Three Soldiers——We are ready to make the supreme sacrifice if need be.

  The bugle sounds.

  The Lieutenant——(Climbing up the ladder to the top of the trench)—— Follow me, men——

  The Three Soldiers——(Climbing up after him)——Lafayette——we come, though poppies bloom in Flanders field.

  They go "over the top".

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