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- The Man on the Box - 1/44 -


[Illustration: Henry E. Dixey in "The Man on the Box."]

THE MAN ON THE BOX

by

HAROLD MACGRATH

Author of The Grey Cloak, The Puppet Crown

Illustrated by scenes from Walter N. Lawrence's beautiful production of the play as seen for 123 nights at the Madison Square Theatre, New York

To Miss Louise Everts

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I Introduces My Hero

II Introduces My Heroine

III The Adventure Begins

IV A Family Reunion

V The Plot Thickens

VI The Man on the Box

VII A Police Affair

VIII Another Salad Idea

IX The Heroine Hires a Groom

X Pirate

XI The First Ride

XII A Ticklish Business

XIII A Runaway

XIV An Ordeal or Two

XV Retrospective

XVI The Previous Affair

XVII Dinner is Served

XVIII Caught!

XIX "Oh, Mister Butler"

XX The Episode of the Stove Pipe

XXI The Rose

XXII The Drama Unrolls

XXIII Something About Heroes

XXIV A Fine Lover

XXV A Fine Heroine, Too

XXVI The Castle of Romance

_He either fears his fate too much, Or his deserts are small, Who dares not put it to the touch To win or lose it all._

_Dramatis Personae_

_Colonel George Annesley_ A retired Army Officer

_Miss Betty Annesley_ His daughter

_Lieutenant Robert Warburton_ Lately resigned

_Mr. John Warburton_ His elder brother, of the War Department

_Mrs. John Warburton_ The elder brother's wife

_Miss Nancy Warburton_ The lieutenant's sister

_Mr. Charles Henderson_ Her fiance

_Count Karloff_ An unattached diplomat

_Colonel Frank Raleigh_ The Lieutenant's Regimental Colonel

_Mrs. Chadwick_ A product of Washington life

_Monsieur Pierre_ A chef

_Mademoiselle Celeste_ A lady's maid

_Jane_ Mrs. Warburton's maid

_The Hopeful_ A baby

_William_ A stable-boy

_Fashionable People_ Necessary for a dinner party

_Celebrities_ Also necessary for a dinner party

_Unfashionables_ Police, cabbies, grooms, clerks, etc.

TIME--Within the past ten years.

SCENE--Washington, D.C., and its environs.

I

INTRODUCES MY HERO

If you will carefully observe any map of the world that is divided into inches at so many miles to the inch, you will be surprised as you calculate the distance between that enchanting Paris of France and the third-precinct police-station of Washington, D. C, which is not enchanting. It is several thousand miles. Again, if you will take the pains to run your glance, no doubt discerning, over the police- blotter at the court (and frankly, I refuse to tell you the exact date of this whimsical adventure), you will note with even greater surprise that all this hubbub was caused by no crime against the commonwealth of the Republic or against the person of any of its conglomerate people. The blotter reads, in heavy simple fist, "disorderly conduct," a phrase which is almost as embracing as the word diplomacy, or society, or respectability.

So far as my knowledge goes, there is no such a person as James Osborne. If, by any unhappy chance, he _does_ exist, I trust that he will pardon the civil law of Washington, my own measure of familiarity, and the questionable taste on the part of my hero--hero, because, from the rise to the fall of the curtain, he occupies the center of the stage in this little comedy-drama, and because authors have yet to find a happy synonym for the word. The name James Osborne was given for the simple reason that it was the first that occurred to the culprit's mind, so desperate an effort did he make to hide his identity. Supposing, for the sake of an argument in his favor, supposing he had said John Smith or William Jones or John Brown? To this very day he would have been hiring lawyers to extricate him from libel and false-representation suits. Besides, had he given any of these names, would not that hound-like scent of the ever suspicious police have been aroused?

To move round and round in the circle of commonplace, and then to pop out of it like a tailed comet! Such is the history of many a man's life. I have a near friend who went away from town one fall, happy and contented with his lot. And what do you suppose he found when he returned home? He had been nominated for alderman. It is too early to predict the fate of this unhappy man. And what tools Fate uses with which to carve out her devious peculiar patterns! An Apache Indian, besmeared with brilliant greases and smelling of the water that never freezes, an understudy to Cupid? Fudge! you will say, or Pshaw! or whatever slang phrase is handy and, prevalent at the moment you read and run.

I personally warn you that this is a really-truly story, though I do not undertake to force you to believe it; neither do I purvey many grains of salt. If Truth went about her affairs laughing, how many more persons would turn and listen! For my part, I believe it all nonsense the way artists have pictured Truth. The idea is pretty enough, but so far as hitting things, it recalls the woman, the stone, and the hen. I am convinced that Truth goes about dressed in the dowdiest of clothes, with black-lisle gloves worn at the fingers,


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