Ignorance is Bliss

CHARACTERS.

Fred Brown.

Johnny Gray.

Ned White.

Scene.Recitation-Room at a Public School.

Enter Fred.

Fred.   A pretty task Master Green has given me this time! He calls me to his desk, and says, "Brown, those boys, Gray and White, have been very inattentive during the music lesson: take them into the recitation-room, and keep them there until they can sing four stanzas of 'The Battle-cry of Freedom.'" A nice music-master I am! I can't read, sing, or growl a note, and I don't know a single line of "The Battle-cry of Freedom." But I must not let them know that. Here they are.   (Enter  Gray and White; they get in a corner of the stage, and whisper together.)   Now, what conspiracy is hatching? Hem! Here, you fellows, do you know what you came here for?

Gray.   To take a music lesson, I suppose.

Fred.   Well, you had better commence.

White.   Certainly, after you.

Fred.   After me! What do you mean?

White.   I believe it's the custom of all music-masters to first sing the song they wish to teach.   (Aside to Gray.)   He can't sing a note.

Gray.   (Aside to White.)   He can't? good! Let's plague him.   (Aloud.)   Come, singing-master, proceed.

Fred.   No matter about me. You two can sing, and when you make a mistake I will correct it.

Gray.   You'll correct it! That's good. With what, pray?

Fred.   With this. (Producing a ratten from under his jacket.)

White.   O, dear, I don't like that sort of tuning-fork.

Fred.   You'll get it if you don't hurry. Come, boys, "The Battle-cry of Freedom."

Gray.   (Aside to White.)   Ned, do you know the song?

White.   (Aside.)   I know just one line.

Gray.   (Aside.)   O, dear, we're in a scrape. (Aloud.)   Master Fred, will you please give me the first line? I've forgotten it.

Fred.   Certainly. Let me see. "Rock me to sleep, mother."   No, that isn't it.

White.   (Aside.)   He's split on that rock.

Fred.   Hem! ah! "Dear father, dear father, come home." O, bother!

Gray.   (Aside.)   It'll bother him to "come home" with that line.

 

Fred.   "Give me a cot."—O, pshaw! I tell you what, boys, I didn't come here to talk, but to listen: now you two sing away at once, or down comes the ratten.

Gray.   (Aside.) I say, Ned, Brown doesn't know it? here's fun. Now you just keep quiet, and ring in your line when I snap my fingers.

White.   (Aside.)   All right. I understand. When you snap, I sing.

Fred.   Come, come! Strike up, or I shall strike down.

Gray.   (Sings to the tune of the Battle-cry of Freedom,)—

"Mary had a little lamb;

Its fleece was white as snow."

(Snaps his fingers.)

White.   (Very loud.)

"Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Gray.   (Sings.)

"And everywhere that Mary went

The lamb was sure to go."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Fred.   Capital! Perfectly correct, perfectly correct. Sing again.

Gray.   (Sings.)

"It followed her to school one day;

It was against the rule."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Gray.   (Sings.)

"It made the children laugh and play

To see a lamb at school."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Fred.   Beautiful! beautiful! I couldn't do it better myself.

 

Gray.   (Aside.)   I should think not.

White.   Come, Mr. Singing-master, you try a stanza.

Fred.   What, sir! do you want to shirk your task? Sing away.

Gray.   (Sings.)

"And so the teacher turned him out;

Yet still he lingered near."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Gray.

"And waited patiently about,

Till Mary did appear."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Fred.   Glorious! Why, boys, it's a perfect uproar.

White.   There's enough, isn't there?

Fred.   No, sir, four stanzas. Come, be quick.

Gray.   I don't know any more.

White.   I'm sure I don't.

Fred.   Yes you do, you're trying to shirk; but I won't have it. You want a taste of the rattan. Come, be lively.

Gray.   (Sings.)

"'What makes the lamb love Mary so?'

The eager children cry."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Gray.

"'Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,'

The teacher did reply."     (Snaps.)

 "Shouting the battle-cry of freedom."

Fred.   There, boys, I knew you could sing. Now come in, and I will tell Master Green how capitally you have done—that I couldn't do better myself.

[Exit.

 

White.   Well, Johnny, we got out of that scrape pretty well.

Gray.   Yes, Ned; but it's a poor way. I must pay a little more attention to my singing.

White.   And so must I, for we may not always have a teacher on whom the old saying fits so well.

Gray.   Old saying? What's that?

White.   "Where ignorance is bliss—"

Gray.   O, yes, "'Twere folly to be wise."

[Exeunt.