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The Sailor and the Actress

Anecdotes Home




"When I was a poor girl," said the Duchess of
St. Albans, "working very hard for my thirty shillings a week, I went down
to Liverpool during the holidays, where I was always kindly received. I was
to perform in a new piece, something like those pretty little dramas they
get up now at our minor theatres; and in my character I represented a poor,
friendless orphan girl, reduced to the most wretched poverty. A heartless
tradesman prosecutes the sad heroine for a heavy debt, and insists on
putting her in prison unless some one will be bail for her. The girl
replies, 'Then I have no hope, I have not a friend in the world.' 'What?
will no one be bail for you, to save you from prison?' asks the stern
creditor. 'I have told you I have not a friend on earth,' is the reply. But
just as I was uttering the words, I saw a sailor in the upper gallery
springing over the railing, letting himself down from one tier to another,
until he bounded clear over the orchestra and footlights, and placed
himself beside me in a moment.' Yes, you shall have _one_ friend at least,
my poor young woman,' said he, with the greatest expression in his honest,
sunburnt countenance; 'I will go bail for you to any amount. And as for
_you_ (turning to the frightened actor), if you don't bear a hand, and
shift your moorings, you lubber, it will be worse for you when I come
athwart your bows.' Every creature in the house rose; the uproar was
perfectly indescribable; peals of laughter, screams of terror, cheers from
his tawny messmates in the gallery, preparatory scrapings of violins from
the orchestra, were mingled together; and amidst the universal din there
stood the unconscious cause of it, sheltering me, 'the poor, distressed
young woman,' and breathing defiance and destruction against my mimic
persecutor. He was only persuaded to relinquish his care of me by the
manager pretending to arrive and rescue me, with a profusion of theatrical
banknotes."





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