A Precious Pickle, A Play, for Female Characters Only



Miss Rebecca Pease.

Mrs. Gabble.

Jenny Frost,
Bessy Snow,
Sadie Bean,
} City girls on a vacation
in the country.

Sissy Gabble.

Juno, Miss Pease's coloured help.

Scene.Miss Pease's best room.   Table, c., back.   Chairs, r. and l.   Rocking-chair, c.   Chair directly in front of the table.


Enter, l., Juno; costume, calico dress, handkerchief about her head in shape of a turban, broom in her hand.

Juno.   Bress my soul! Nebber see, in de whole co'se ob my life, sich a galloping set as dem are city gals—nebber! For all de worl', jes like a flock ob sheep. Shoo! away dey go, from de cellar to de top ob de house—pell-mell inter de barn. Skipterty shoo, ober de fields; skersplash into de brook; don't keer for nuffin nor nobody. Can't keep de chairs straight, nor de flo' clean nor nuffin. (Looks off, R.) Now, now, now, jes look a dar! jes look a dar! See 'em scootin' round, chasin' dat are poor orphanless calf, what ain't got no mudder. Never did see nuffin like it, nebber.   (Sweeps violently.)

Jenny.   (Outside, R.)   Ha, ha, ha! If you don't stop, girls, I shall die.

Bessie.   (Outside, R.)   Ha, ha, ha! O, dear, there goes my hat!

Sadie.   (Outside, R.)   Ha, ha, ha! Do see him jump!

[All three enter, R, laughing.

Jenny.   O, isn't this splendid! A country life for me.

Bessie.   It's glorious! I could live here forever.

Sadie.   So could I. No more city life for me.

Juno.   Bress my soul! Goin' fur to stay here forebber! I'll jes' pack up my jewelry, and slope, for sartin'.

Jenny.   Ah, there's Juno. O, Juno, isn't it most dinner-time? I'm so hungry!

Bessie.   So am I—ravenous.

Sadie.   I'm starving; slowly, but surely, starving.

Juno.   Dinner! Why, bress my soul! yer hain't got yer breakfast digesticated yet. Well, I nebber,  in de whole co'se ob my life, seed sich eaters—nebber. Six biscuit, four b'iled eggs apiece, and chicken; chicken by de dozen for dar breakfast; and now want dar dinner! Bress my soul! Doesn't yer git nuffin to eat in de city?

Sadie.   O, yes, plenty; but not such biscuits as Juno makes.

Jenny and Bessie.   Never, never!

Jenny.   And eggs, girls! None cooked as Juno cooks them.

Bessie and Sadie.   Never, never!

Bessie.   And chickens! never so nice as those broiled by Juno.

Jenny and Sadie.   Never, never!

Juno.   Doesn't yers, honies?   (Grinning.)   Dat's mean; dat's raal mean. Well, poor dears, I s'pose yers is hungry. Now you jes' wait and see what Juno can find for a lunch.

[Exit, L.

Jenny.   "A little flattery, now and then, is relished by the wisest men."

Bessie.   And the darkest of our sex, Jenny.

Sadie.   Yes; and "a soft answer turneth away wrath." O, ain't we having a splendid time, girls?

Jenny.   How kind of our parents, after eight months' hard study, to send us to this delightful place!

Sadie.   O, it's splendid. We want nothing here.

Bessie.   No, indeed. There's nothing left in that dry, hot city to be regretted.

Jenny.   Stop. There is one thing I should like.

Sadie and Bessie.   What is that?

Jenny.   One of mother's pickles.

Sadie and Bessie.   What! a pickle?

Jenny.   Yes. I'm dying for one of mother's sour, peppery pickles.

Sadie.   O, don't, Jenny. Do you want to make me homesick?


Bessie.   My mouth puckers at the thought. I want to go home.

Enter, R., Sissy Gabble, a very small girl, with a very large cape bonnet on her head, and a tin pail in her hand.

Sissy.   If yer pleath, Mith Peath, if, if—Mith Peath, if you pleath—

Jenny.   Why, who in the world is this?

Sadie.   What do you want, little girl?

Sissy.   Mith Peath, if you pleath, if, if—Mith Peath, to home, my mother thed—my mother thed. What did my mother thed? O, my mother thed, if Mith Peath is to home, to give Mith Peath her com—her com—to give Mith Peath her com—

Jenny.   Her compliments?

Sissy.   Yith ma'am, I geth tho; and tell Mith Peath, the thent her thome of her pickleth.

Sadie and Bessie.   Pickles! O, you dear little thing!

Jenny.   O, isn't she a darling!   (They all crowd round Sissy, take off her bonnet, kiss and hug her.)   Isn't she splendid?

Bessie.   I'll take the pail, little girl.

Sissy.   (Putting pail behind her.)   Yith marm; I geth not. My mother thed I muthn't give it to nobody but Mith Peath.

Bessie.   Well, take off the cover, little girl. The pickles will spoil.

Sissy.   I geth not. My mother's pickleth never thpoil.

Jenny.   The little plague! Say, Sissy; do you like candy?

Sissy.   Candy? Merlatheth candy?

Jenny.   Yes.

Sissy.   Ith it pulled?


Jenny.   Yes, indeed; pulled white as snow. Give me the pail, and I'll find you a long stick of it.

Sissy.   You ain't Mith Peath; and I don't like merlatheth candy white ath thnow. Where ith Mith Peath?

Sadie.   Little girl, don't you want some red and white peppermints?

Sissy.   No, I don't. I want Mith Peath.

Bessie.   Or some splendid gum drops?

Sissy.   No. I want Mith Peath.

Enter Miss Pease, l.

Miss P.   And here she is, Sissy Gabble. What have you for me?   (The girls fall back in confusion, and whisper together.)

Sissy.   Thome pickleth, Mith Peath, my mother thent you, with her com—her com—her com—

Miss P.   Her compliments, Sissy. I understand. I'm very much obliged to her for sending them, and to you, Sissy, for bringing them so carefully. Here, Juno!

Enter, Juno, l.

Juno.   Yes, missis. Why, bress my soul! if dar ain't Sissy Gabble! Come right here, yer dear chile.

Miss P.   Take her to the kitchen, Juno. Perhaps you can find a cake for her.

Juno.   Guess I can, missis, sure for sartin. Come, Sissy Gabble, come right along wid Juno.

Sissy.   Thay, Juno, who ith them?   (Pointing to girls.)

Juno.   Why, bress yer soul, dem ar's de young ladies from de city, on dar vex—vex—on dar vexation. O, Sissy, dar drefful sweet.


Sissy.   Thweet, Juno? I thpothe tho; they've got thuch loth of candy. But they didn't git my pail, tho!

Juno.   Come along to de kitchen. Come.

[Exeunt Juno and Sissy, l.   The girls gather about Miss Pease.

Jenny.   O, Miss Pease, I'm so glad Mrs. Gabble sent you those pickles, I'm so fond of them!

Bessie.   Yes, Miss Pease; they're so nice!

Sadie.   O, they're splendid! Do give us a taste.

Miss P.   Stop, stop young ladies. While I cannot but be grateful to Mrs. Gabble for her kindness, I wish it had taken some other shape. I have long been of the opinion that pickles are unwholesome, and have never allowed them to be placed upon my table. And I am sure I should be disobeying the instructions I received from your parents—to provide you only wholesome food—did I permit you to taste them. For the present, I shall leave them here.   (Places pail on the table.)   If you believe I have your interest at heart, you will not touch that which I have condemned. I know I can trust you.

Exit, L.

Bessie.   Well, I declare! The mean old thing!

Jenny.   It's too bad! Nothing but blasted hopes in this world!

Sadie.   Well, I don't care, I'm a going to have one of those pickles, if I die for it.

Jenny.   Why, Sadie Bean, you don't mean it!

Sadie.   Yes, I do. I know they are wholesome, and my mother always allows me to eat them.

Bessie.   I wouldn't touch one for the world. How impolite it would be, after Miss Pease has forbidden it!

Sadie.   No; she didn't forbid it. She said, if  we thought she had our interest at heart, we wouldn't touch the pail. Now I don't believe she has, when she wants to deprive us of such a luxury. I'm determined to have a pickle.

Jenny.   You are wrong, Sadie, to think of such a thing. A Precious Pickle you'll make.   (Sits on sofa.)

Bessie. Nothing would tempt me.   (Sits on sofa.)   How can you, Sadie?

Sadie.   Pooh! Cowards! It's just as easy as croquet, when you make up your mind.   (Lifts cover, and takes out pickle.)   A Precious Pickle. I'll taste, Jenny. Ain't they beauties?

Jenny.   Quick, quick, Sadie; somebody's coming!

Sadie.   Dear me!   (Claps on cover, runs and sits on sofa between Jenny and Bessie.)

Enter Juno, l.

Juno.   Bress my soul! dars Missis Gabble a runnin up de walk like all possessed. Speck her house afire, sure for sartin.

Exit, R.

Sadie.   (Tasting pickle.)   O, ain't it nice! Bessie, run and get one.

Bessie.   No, indeed; I shall do no such thing.

Jenny.   O, Sadie, I wouldn't believe you could do such a thing.

Sadie.   O, pshaw! It's all envy; you know it is.

Enter R., Juno, followed by Mrs. Gabble, who wears a calico dress, has her sleeves rolled up, her apron thrown over her head, and has altogether the appearance of having just left the wash-tub.

Mrs. G.   Yes, Juno, poor Mr. Brown has shuffled off this mortal—what's it's name?   (Looks  at girls.)   O, how do you do? I don't know how much he's worth, but they do say—Why, Juno, you've got a new calico—Fine day, young ladies.—They do say—Well, there, I oughtn't to speak of it. Got your washing out, Juno? I've been all day at that tub; and—Where's Miss Pease? I can't stop a minute; so don't ask me to sit down.   (Sits in rocking-chair and rocks violently.)

Juno.   Yes, Missy Gabble, Missy Pease to home. Send her right up, sure for sartin. Bress my soul, how that woman do go on, for sartin.

Exit, L.

Mrs. G.   Ah, poor Mrs. Brown, with all them young ones. I wonder where my Sis is.

Jenny.   I think she's in the kitchen, Mrs. Gabble.

Mrs. G.   You don't say so? Stuffing herself, I'm sure. And poor Mr. Brown lying dead in the next house—and there's my washing waiting for soap—and there's Mrs. Jones hasn't sent my ironing-board home; and mercy knows how I'm to get along without it.

Enter Miss Pease, l. During the dialogue between Miss Pease and Mrs. G., Sadie slyly eats her pickle, offering it to Jenny and Bessie, who at first shake their heads, afterwards taste; the pickle is passed among them, and devoured before the conclusion of the conversation.

Miss P.   Ah, Mrs. Gabble! I'm glad to see you.   (Takes chair and sits beside her.)

Mrs. G.   And poor Brown is gone!

Miss P.   Mr. Brown dead? This is sad news.

Mrs. G.   I should think it was—and there's Skillet, the butcher, chopped off his thumb—and Miss Pearson fell down stairs and broke her china sugar-bowl—sp'ilt the whole set. As I told my  husband, these expensive dishes never can be matched—and speaking of matches, Mrs. Thorpe is going to get a divorce. Jest think of it! I met her going into Carter's shop this morning. She had on that pink muslin he gave her for a birthday present—Jenkins has got a new lot of them, only a shilling a yard—speaking of yards, old Cooper tumbled into that miserable well in his back yard this morning. They pulled him out—speaking of pulling, Miss Tibbet was in to the dentist's this morning for a new set of teeth, and—Have you seen my Sis?

Miss P.   O, yes. She's in the kitchen with Juno. And, speaking of Sissy, reminds me that I must thank you for sending me—

Mrs. G.   My pickles? Yes. Well, I'm glad you got 'em. But I didn't have a bit of good luck with 'em. And, speaking of pickles, O, Miss Pease, that villain, Smith, the grocer, has been taken up. He's going to be hung. Nothing can save him.

Miss P.   Mr. Smith arrested! For what pray?

Mrs. G.   P'isoning! Jest think of it! And he a deacon in the church, and has such a splendid span of horses, and such an elegant beach wagon. I declare, the last time he took us to the beach I nearly died eating soft-shelled crabs; and my husband tumbled overboard, and Mr. Brown got sunstruck; and now he's gone! Dear me, dear me! And my washing ain't out yet.

Miss P.   But tell me, Mrs. Gabble, what is it about the poisoning?

Mrs. G.   Why, he or somebody else has been putting prussic acid in his vinegar, just at the time, too, when everybody's making pickles; and there's no end of the p'isoning he will have to answer for. Mrs. Jewel's just sent for the doctor, and Mrs. Poor's been dreadful all day, and Dr. Baldtop's  flying round from house to house; and, O, dear—there's my washing! Who'll be the next victim nobody knows, I'm sure.

Sadie.   (Jumping up.)   O, dear! O, dear! Send for the doctor, quick! I'm dying, I know I am.   (Runs across stage and sinks into chair, R.)

Miss P.   (Running to her.)   Bless me child, what ails you?

Sadie.   I don't know; I can't tell. The doctor, quick!

Mrs. G.   Deary me, she's took sudden, just for all the world like Susan Richie.

Jenny.   (Jumping up.)   Water, water! Give me some water! I shall die if I don't have some water.   (Runs down and sinks into chair, L.)

Mrs. G.   (Jumping up and running to her.)   Gracious goodness! here's another! It's something dreadful, depend upon it. When folks is took sudden—

Bessie.   (Jumping up.)   O, my throat! I'm burning up! Give me some ipecac. Quick, quick, quick!   (Runs round stage, then sinks into chair, C.)

Mrs. G.   There goes another! It's something dreadful, depend on it.

Miss P.   What does this mean? Here, Juno, Juno! Quick!

Enter Juno, l.

Juno.   Here I is, Missy Pease.

Sadie.   Run for the doctor, quick, Juno!

Juno.   (Running, R.)   Bress my soul! I'll fetch him.

Jenny.   No, no! Get me some water—quick!

Juno.   (Running L.)   To be sure, honey; to be sure.


Bessie.   No, no, Juno! some ipecac, or a stomach pump.

Juno.   Pump, pump! Want de pump? I'll fetch it, I'll fetch it. Bress my soul, I'll fetch something.

Exit, L.

Mrs. G.   Well, if this ain't drefful!—washing-day, too—and the undertaker's jest as busy as he can be—there never was so much immortality in this place, never. Poor critters! poor critters!

Miss P.   Girls, what does this mean?

Sadie.   O, Miss Pease, such agony!

Bessie.   O, dear, what will become of me?

Jenny.   O, this dreadful parching in the throat!

Mrs. G.   O, I know it, I know it. I told my husband that something dreadful was a goin' to happen when he sold that colt yesterday.

Miss P.   Sadie, what is the meaning of this. Your pulse is regular, your head cool, and your tongue clear.

Sadie.   O, Miss Pease, it's those dreadful pickles.

Mrs. G.   Yes, indeed, it is a drefful pickle—and so sudden, jest for all the world like poor Mr. Brown's sudden took, and these always seem to end fatally at some time or other—Dear me, dear me, and my wash—

Miss P.   Pickles! Have you disobeyed me?

Sadie.   I couldn't help it, Miss Pease; they looked so tempting. But I only took one.

Bessie.   And I only tasted that.

Jenny.   I only had one good bite.

Sadie.   And we are poisoned!

Bessie.   O, dear! poisoned!

Jenny.   Yes, poisoned!

Miss P.   How, poisoned?

Sadie.   Mrs. Gabble says the vinegar was poisoned by Mr. Smith.


Mrs. G.   Smith—vinegar—p'isoned! The land sakes! And I a good church member—and my washing—and poor Mr. Brown, tew. Well, I never! I'd have you to know that I bought no vinegar of Mr. Smith, I made my own.

Sadie.   And your pickles were not poisoned?

Mrs. G.   No, indeed. Never did such a thing in my life.

Sadie.   O, dear! I'm so glad!   (Jumping up.)

Bessie.   I won't have the ipecac.   (Rises.)

Jenny.   My throat is decidedly better.   (Rises.)

Enter Juno with a pail of water and a dipper.

Juno.   Bress my soul, de pump was fastened down so tight couldn't git it up. Here's a pail of water; if dat won't do I'll git a tub.

Miss P.   No matter, Juno. I think 'twill not be needed. Young ladies, I am very sorry—

Sadie.   Please, Miss Pease, do not speak of it. I alone am to blame for transgressing your command, for such we should consider it, as you are for the present our guardian. Forgive me, and in future I will endeavour to control my appetite, and comply with your wishes.

Mrs. G.   Well, I declare, I don't see the harm in eating pickles. My girls eat their weight in 'em, and they're just as sweet-tempered as—

Miss P.   Their mother. Mrs. Gabble, it is not a question of harm, but of obedience, here. You see, the young ladies accept me as their guardian, and I only forbid that which I think their parents would not approve.

Mrs. G.   And there's my washing in the suds! Where's my Sis.


Enter Sissy Gabble, l., with a large slice of bread, covered with molasses.

Sissy.   Here I ith, mother. Mith Peath thed I might have thumthin, and I like bread, and 'latheth.

Juno.   Bress my soul! dat are chile jest runnin' over with sweetness, sure for sartin.

Mrs. G.   Yes; and the 'lasses running all over the clothes! Come, Sissy, let's go home. I'm sorry, Miss Pease, you don't like pickles; and I'm sorry, young ladies, they disagree with you. And I'm sorry, Miss Pease, I left my washing.

Miss P.   Now don't be sorry at all, Mrs. Gabble. I'm always glad to see you. Your gift was well-intended, and the young ladies have suffered no harm, perhaps received a wholesome lesson.

Sadie.   I think we have. I shall be very careful what I touch.

Jenny.   O, dear! such a fright! I shall never get over it.

Bessie.   O, Sadie, you thought it was so nice!

Jenny.   Yes, such a Precious Pickle!

Mrs. G.   Of course it was. My pickles are the best made in town—precious nice, I tell you. Mrs. Doolittle always sends in for 'em when she has company; and the minister says they're awful soothing arter sermon.

Sadie.   O, certainly; I've no doubt of it. But I've found that stolen fruit is not the sweetest, and that mischievous fingers make trouble when they clutch what mine sought, and made a Precious Pickle.