Wilkins on Accomplishments by John Quill

                                           A DUOLOGUE.

 

 

Mr. Wilkins.   Mrs. Wilkins, of all the aggravating women I ever came across, you are the worst. I believe you'd raise a riot in the cemetry if you were dead, you would. Don't you ever go prowling around any Quaker meeting, or you'll break it up in a plug muss. You? Why you'd put any other man's back up until he broke his spine. Oh! you're too annoying to live; I don't want to bother with you. Go to sleep.

Mrs. Wilkins.   But, Wilkins dear, just listen a minute. We must have that piano, and—

Mr. W.   Oh! don't "dear" me; I won't have it. You're the only dear thing around here—you're dear at any price. I tell you once for all that I don't get any new piano, and Mary Jane don't take singing lessons as long as I'm her father. There! If you don't understand that I'll say it  over again. And now stop your clatter and go to sleep; I'm tired of hearing you cackle.

Mrs. W.   But, Wilk—

Mr. W.   Now don't aggravate me. I say Mary Jane shan't learn to sing and plant another instrument of torture in this house, while I'm boss of the family. Her voice is just like yours; it's got a twang to it like blowing on the edge of a piece of paper.

Mrs. W.   Ain't you ashamed, Wilk—

Mr. W.   It's disgrace enough to have you sitting down and pretending to sing, and trying to deafen people, without having the children do it. The first time I heard you sing I started round to the station-house and got six policemen, because I thought there was a murder in your house, and they were cutting you up by inches. I wish somebody would! I wouldn't go for any policeman now, not much!

Mrs. W.   I declare, you are a perfect brute!

Mr. W.   Not much, I wouldn't! But Smith, he told me yesterday that his family were kept awake half the night by the noise you made; and he said if I didn't stop those dogs from yowling in my cellar, he'd be obliged to complain to the board of health.

Mrs. W.   What an awful story, Mr Wilk—

Mr. W.   Then I told him it was you, and you thought you could sing; and he advised me as a friend to get a divorce, because he said no man could live happily with any woman who had a voice like a cross-cut saw. He said I might as well have a machine-shop with a lot of files at work in my house as that, and he'd rather any time.

Mrs. W.   Phugh! I don't care what Smith says.

Mr. W.   And you a-talking about a new piano!  Why, haven't we got musical instruments enough in the house? There's Holofernes Montgomery been blowing away in the garret for ten days with that old key bugle, until he got so black in the face that he won't get his colour back for a month, and then he only gets a spurt out of her every now and then. He's blown enough wind in her to get up a hurricane, and I expect nothing else but he'll get the old machine so chock full that she'll blow back at him some day and burst his brains out, and all along of your tomfoolery. You're a pretty mother, you are! You'd better go and join some asylum for feeble-minded idiots, you had.

Mrs. W.   Wilkins! I declare you're too bad, for—

Mr. W.   Yes—and there's Bucephalus Alexander, he's got his head full of your sentimental nonsense, and he thinks he's in love with a girl round the corner, and he meanders about and tries to sigh, and won't eat his victuals, and he's got to going down into the cellar and trying to sing "No one to love" in the coal-bin; and he like to scared the hired girl out of her senses, so that she went upstairs and had a fit on the kitchen door-mat, and came near dying on my hands.

Mrs. W.   That's not true, Mr. Wil—

Mr. W.   And never came to until I put her head under the hydrant. And then what does Bucephalus Alexander do but go round, night before last, and try to serenade the girl, until the old man histed up the sash and cracked away at Bucephalus Alexander with an old boot, and hit him in the face and blacked his eye, because he thought it was two cats a-yelping. Hang such a mother as you are! You go right to work to ruin your offspring.

Mrs. W.   You're talking nonsense, Wilk—

Mr. W.   You're about as fit to bring up children as a tadpole is to run a ferry boat, you are! But while I'm alive Mary Jane takes no singing lessons. Do you understand? It's bad enough to have her battering away at that piano like she had some grudge against it, and to have her visitors wriggle around and fidget and look miserable, as if they had cramp colic, while you make her play for them and have them get up and lie, and ask what it was, and say how beautiful it is, and steep their souls in falsehood and hypocrisy all on account of you. You'll have enough sins to answer for, old woman, without that.

Mrs. W.   I never did such a thing, and you—

Mr. W.   Yes—and you think Mary Jane can play, don't you? You think she can sit down and jerk more music than a whole orchestra, don't you? But she can't. You might about as well set a crowbar to opening oysters as set her to playing on that piano. You might, indeed!

Mrs. W.   You talk like a fool, Wilkins!

Mr. W.   Play! She play? Pshaw! Why, she's drummed away at that polka for six months and she can't get her grip on it yet. You might as well try to sing a long-metre hymn to "Fisher's Hornpipe," as to undertake to dance to that polka. It would jerk your legs out at the sockets, certain, or else it would give you St. Vitus' dance, and cripple you for life.

Mrs. W.   Mr. Wilkins, I'm going to tell you a secret.

Mr. W.   Oh! I don't want to hear your secrets—keep them to yourself.

Mrs. W.   It's about Mary Jane's singing.

Mr. W.   What?

Mrs. W.   Mary Jane, you know—her singing.

Mr. W.   I don't know, and I don't want to; she shan't take lessons, so dry up.

Mrs. W.   But she shall take them!

Mr. W.   I say she shan't!

Mrs. W.   She shall, and you can't help it.

Mr. W.   By George! What do you mean? I'm master in this house I'd like you to know.

Mrs. W.   Yes—but she's been taking lessons for a whole quarter, while you were down town, and I paid the bill out of the market money.

Mr. W.   Well! I hope I may be shot! You don't mean to say that? Well, if you ain't a perfectly abandoned wretch, hang me! Farewell, Mrs. Wilkins, farewell! I'm off by the first express-train for the West! I'll stop at Chicago, where the cars wait fifteen minutes for refreshments and a divorce—I'll take the divorce, that will be indeed refreshing! Farewell! F-a-r-e-well! Fare-r-r-r-r-r-r-well! Mrs. Wil-l-l-l-l-l-l-kins!