A Precious Pickle, A Play, for Female
(FOR FEMALE CHARACTERS ONLY.)
Miss Rebecca Pease.
||City girls on a vacation
in the country.
Scene.—Miss Pease's best room. Table, c.,
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
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
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
[All three enter, R, laughing.
Jenny. O, isn't this splendid! A country life
Bessie. It's glorious! I could live here forever.
Sadie. So could I. No more city life for me.
soul! Goin' fur to stay here
forebber! I'll jes' pack up my jewelry, and slope,
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
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.
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
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,
Sadie. O, don't, Jenny. Do you want to make
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
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
Jenny. The little plague! Say, Sissy; do you
Sissy. Candy? Merlatheth candy?
Sissy. Ith it pulled?
Jenny. Yes, indeed; pulled white as snow.
Give me the pail, and I'll find you a long stick of
Sissy. You ain't Mith Peath; and I don't like
merlatheth candy white ath thnow. Where ith
Sadie. Little girl, don't you want some red and
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,
Enter, Juno, l.
Juno. Yes, missis. Why, bress my soul! if
dar ain't Sissy Gabble! Come right here, yer dear
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
Enter R., Juno, followed by Mrs.
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.
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.
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,
Miss P. (Running to her.) Bless me child, what
Sadie. I don't know; I can't tell. The doctor,
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
Bessie. (Jumping up.) O, my throat! I'm
burning up! Give me some ipecac. Quick, quick,
quick! (Runs round stage, then sinks into
Mrs. G. There goes another! It's something
dreadful, depend on it.
Miss P. What does this mean? Here, Juno,
Enter Juno, l.
Juno. Here I is, Missy Pease.
Sadie. Run for the doctor, quick, Juno!
Juno. (Running, R.) Bress my soul! I'll
Jenny. No, no! Get me some water—quick!
Juno. (Running L.) To be sure, honey; to
Bessie. No, no, Juno! some ipecac, or a stomach
Juno. Pump, pump! Want de pump? I'll
fetch it, I'll fetch it. Bress my soul, I'll fetch
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
Sadie. O, Miss Pease, it's those dreadful
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
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
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