The Sleeping-Car, a farce by William Dean Howells


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Sleeping Car, by William D. Howells

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: The Sleeping Car
A Farce

Author: William D. Howells

Release Date: May 13, 2005 [eBook #2506]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1883 James R. Osgood and Company edition by David
Price, email

by William D. Howells


SCENE: One side of a sleeping-car on the Boston and Albany Road. The
curtains are drawn before most of the berths; from the hooks and rods
hang hats, bonnets, bags, bandboxes, umbrellas, and other travelling
gear; on the floor are boots of both sexes, set out for THE PORTER to
black. THE PORTER is making up the beds in the upper and lower berths
adjoining the seats on which a young mother, slender and pretty, with a
baby asleep on the seat beside her, and a stout old lady, sit confronting
each other--MRS. AGNES ROBERTS and her aunt MARY.

MRS. ROBERTS. Do you always take down your back hair, aunty?

AUNT MARY. No, never, child; at least not since I had such a fright
about it once, coming on from New York. It's all well enough to take
down your back hair if it _is_ yours; but if it isn't, your head's the
best place for it. Now, as I buy mine of Madame Pierrot--

MRS. ROBERTS. Don't you _wish_ she wouldn't advertise it as _human_
hair? It sounds so pokerish--like human flesh, you know.

AUNT MARY. Why, she couldn't call it _in_human hair, my dear.

MRS. ROBERTS (thoughtfully). No--just _hair_.

AUNT MARY. Then people might think it was for mattresses. But, as I was
saying, I took it off that night, and tucked it safely away, as I
supposed, in my pocket, and I slept sweetly till about midnight, when I
happened to open my eyes, and saw something long and black crawl off my
bed and slip under the berth. _Such_ a shriek as I gave, my dear! "A
snake! a snake! oh, a snake!" And everybody began talking at once, and
some of the gentlemen swearing, and the porter came running with the
poker to kill it; and all the while it was that ridiculous switch of
mine, that had worked out of my pocket. And glad enough I was to grab it
up before anybody saw it, and say I must have been dreaming.

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