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A monologue from the play by O. Henry (Adapted for the stage by Walter Wykes)
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I will excuse the remark you have just made because the mistake was, doubtless, not an unnatural one—in your circle. I asked you to sit down; if the invitation must constitute me your honeysuckle, consider it withdrawn.
Now, tell me about these people passing and crowding, each way, along these paths. Where are they going? Why do they hurry so? Are they happy? How fascinating they seem to me—
rushing about with their petty little dreams and their common worries! I come here to sit because here, only, can I be near the great, common, throbbing heart of humanity.
My part in life is cast where its beating is never felt. Can you surmise why I spoke to you, Mr. Parkenstacker? It is simply impossible to keep one’s name out of the papers. Or even one’s portrait.
This veil and this hat—my maid’s, of course—are my only protection. They furnish me with an incog. You should have seen the chauffeur staring when he thought I did not see.
Candidly, there are five or six names that belong in the holy of holies, and mine, by the accident of birth, is one of them. I spoke to you, Mr. Stackenpot, because I wanted to talk, for once, with a natural man—
a real man—one unspoiled by the despicable gloss of wealth and supposed social superiority. Oh! You have no idea how weary I am of it—money, money, money! And of the men who surround me,
dancing like little marionettes all cut from the same pattern. I am sick of pleasure, of jewels, of travel, of society, of luxuries of all kinds! A competence is to be desired, certainly. But when you have so many millions that—!
[She concludes the sentence with a gesture of despair.] It is the monotony of it that palls. Drives, dinners, theatres, balls, suppers, balls, dinners, more balls, followed of course by dinners and suppers, with the gilding of superfluous wealth over it all.
Sometimes the very tinkle of the ice in my champagne glass nearly drives me mad. You must understand that we of the non-useful class depend for our amusement upon departure from precedent.
Just now it is a fad to put ice in champagne. The idea was originated by a visiting Prince of Tartary while dining at the Waldorf. It will soon give way to some other whim.
Just as, at a dinner party this week on Madison Avenue, a green kid glove was laid by the plate of each guest to be put on and used while eating olives. These special diversions of the inner circle do not become familiar to the common public, of course.
We are drawn to that which we do not understand. For my part, I have always thought that if I should ever love a man it would be one of lowly station. One who is a worker and not a drone.
But, doubtless, the claims of caste and wealth will prove stronger than my inclination. Just now I am besieged by two suitors. One is Grand Duke of a German principality. I think he has, or has had, a wife, somewhere, driven mad by his intemperance and cruelty.
The other is an English Marquis, so cold and mercenary that I prefer even the diabolical nature of the Duke. What is it that impels me to tell you these things, Mr. Packenwacker?
I am sure you understand when I say there are certain expectations of a young lady in my position. It would be such a disappointment to certain members of my family if I were to marry a commoner as we like to call them.
You simply cannot imagine the scandal it would cause. All the magazines would remark upon it. I might even be cut off from the family fortune. And yet … no calling could be too humble were the man I loved all that I wish him to be.