The Rathskeller and the Rose

O. Henry (1862 - 1910)

Miss Rosie Carrington had earned her success [sək'ses]. She began life in a small village known as Cranberry Corners. At the age of eighteen she left the place and became an actress at a small theatre ['θɪətə] in a large city. Now she was at the height [haɪt] of her fame. The critics praised her and in the coming season she was going to star in a new play about country life, named “Paresis by Gaslight”. But it was necessary to find the male character ['kærəktə]. Many young men were eager ['iːg The Rathskeller and the Roseə] to partner Miss Carrington in the play and among [ə'mʌŋ] them was a young actor called Highsmith.

‘My boy’, said Mr. Goldstein, the manager of the theatre, when the young man went to him for advice, ‘take the part if you can get it. The trouble is Miss Carrington won’t listen to any of my suggestions [sə'ʤesʧ(ə)n]. She has already turned down a lot of imitators of a country fellow. She declares she won’t set foot on the stage unless she finds something genuine ['ʤenjuɪn], a real imitation of country manners. She was brought up in The Rathskeller and the Rose a village, you know, and won’t be deceived when a Broadway fellow goes on a stage with a straw in his hair and calls himself a village boy. So, young man, if you want to play the part, you’ll have to convince Miss Carrington. Good luck.’

Next day Highsmith took the train for Cranberry Corners. He stayed three days in that small and distant village. He found Miss Carrington’s family and collected many facts concerning the life and people at Cranberry. Then he returned to the city.

Miss Rosy used to spend her evenings The Rathskeller and the Rose at a small restaurant where actors gathered after performances. One night when she was having a late supper in the company of her fellow actors, a shy and awkward ['ɔːkwəd] young man entered the restaurant. The moment he entered he upset one chair and sat awkwardly in another one. He looked around the place and then seeing Miss Carrington, rose and went to her table with a smile on his face.

‘How are you, Miss Rosie?’ he said. Don’t you remember me – Bill Summers – the Summers that lived next door to you? I think I’ve grown The Rathskeller and the Rose a little since you left Cranberry. They still remember you there. Eliza Perry told me to see you in the city,’ he went on. ‘You know, Eliza married Benny Stanfield, and she says…’

‘You don’t say so!’ interrupted Miss Rosie. ‘Eliza Perry married. She was so fat and plain.’

‘Married in June,’ smiled the young man ‘And the youngest of the Walton girls ran away with an English teacher.’

‘Oh!’ Miss Carrington cried out. ‘Excuse me, gentlemen, this is an old friend of mine, Mr… yes, Mr Summers. Now, Bill, I’ll call you Billy, may I? tell me more The Rathskeller and the Rose.’ She took him to a vacant table in a corner, sat down in front of him and put her chin upon her hands.

‘I don’t remember any Bill Summers,’ she said thoughtfully [‘θɔːtfulɪ], looking into the innocent blue eyes of the young man. ‘But I know the Summers all right and you face seems familiar to me. Have you seen any of my people?’

Here Highsmith decided to show Miss Carrington his abilities as a tragic actor. ‘Miss Rosie,’ he said, I called on your family just two or three days ago’.

‘How is ma?’ asked Miss Carrington The Rathskeller and the Rose.

‘She is older than she was, Miss Rosie. When I saw her last, she was sitting at the door and looking at the road. “Billy”, she said, “I am waiting for Rosie. She went away down this road and something tells me she’ll come back this way again when she gets tired of the world and begins thinking about her mother.” ‘When I was leaving, ‘the young man went on,’ I took this rose from a bush by the left door. I knew that you would like to have something from Cranberry.’

Miss Carrington took the rose with The Rathskeller and the Rose a smile and got up. ‘Come to the hotel and see me Bill, before you leave the city,’ she said. ‘I’m awfully glad to see you. Well, good night. I’m a little tired. It’s time to go to bed.’

When she had left the restaurant Bill, still in his make-up, went to Goldstein. ‘An excellent idea, wasn’t it?’ said the smiling actor. ‘I’m sure the part is mine, don’t you think?’

‘I didn’t hear your conversation,’ said the manager, ‘but your make-up and acting was perfect. Here’s The Rathskeller and the Rose to your success,’ he lifted up a glass of wine. ‘Call on Miss Carrington early tomorrow, and I hope that she will agree to take you as her partner in the play.’’

Next morning Mr. Highsmith, handsome and dressed to the latest fashion, called on Miss Carrington at the hotel.’

‘Is Miss Carrington at home?’ he asked the actress’s maid.

‘Miss Carrington has left,’ the maid answered, ‘and will not come back She has cancelled ['kæn(t)s(ə)l] all her engagements on the stage and has returned to live in that… what do you call that village? Oh The Rathskeller and the Rose, yes, Cranberry Corners.’

Highsmith understood that he had acted too well.

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