THE MUMMY ROOM IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM
(A row of mummy cases standing on end.—one of the cases is seen to move slightly.—then noises inside.—lid flies open.—mummy steps out.)
Mummy: I can’t really stand this any longer! What was my bed turned perpendicular for? I felt all on end. It seemed all up with me. If a man can’t lie, lying, to tell the truth he better get up. (looking round)
Well, this is the most uncanny place I ever saw; heads of executed criminals, milk jugs, and jam pots. (reading label on case) “Curiosities of 1875.” A Murray and an umbrella. And what’s this? waistcoat of the Claimant, otherwise Arthur Orton. Spurs and hunting boots belonging to Mr. Briggs. Interior view of the Cave of Adullam, photographed by Mr. Bright. Hum! they all look wonderfully familiar. And what’s this? another Mummy case! Why, it is. It’s just like mine. Another member of the same family. Somebody may be inside. If I could only get one hand out! There can’t be much arm in that. (disengages hand) I’ll soon see. (knocks at mummy case) I say, any body inside? (no reply, knocks again, murmurs inside) Any body inside?
Mummy: (from inside) Get out.
1st Mummy: I have got out, and now I want you to get out, too.
2d Mummy: Leave me alone I’m sleepy. (yawns.)
1st Mummy: That’s not my case.
2d Mummy: Well, this is my case, and I wish you would leave it alone.
1st Mummy: But I won’t, and I won’t be left alone either. Come, come out. (pulls lid open and drags out other mummy.)
2d Mummy: (angrily.) Now, what did you rap me up for?
1st Mummy: Well, considering you have been wrapped up, for who knows how many centuries, you must be accustomed to it by this time.
2d Mummy: I am in no mood for joking. I was most comfortable.
1st Mummy: That’s much more than I was. They had hoisted me up on my feet. I was reduced to extremities.
2d Mummy: How silly and vulgar you are! Your room is better than your company.
1st Mummy: Ah! if I had had more room I shouldn’t have cared for the company.
2d Mummy: Well, I don’t care for my company either. (a pause.) Why don’t you take the hint and go?
1st Mummy: My dear Sir, it is all very well to say go. Do you know why I stick fast? it is not a question of go, it is a question of gum.
2d Mummy: Your jests are offensive. If I had my hands free I would pitch you head over heels.
1st Mummy: Thank you, I am already pitched over. All over, in fact, and for that matter so are you.
2d Mummy: I will call the police, and if they catch you you are undone.
1st Mummy: The very thing I desire. Let’s call together. (they open their mouths to call when one recognizes the other.)
2d Mummy: Why! why, no! why, yes it is, it is. Why Samuel is that you?
1st Mummy: May I ask to whom I have the pleasure of speaking? I do not think I have the honor of your acquaintance.
2d Mummy: Why Sammy! not recognize your old uncle?
1st Mummy: I never saw an uncle look like you.
2d Mummy: What! your mother’s brother! your uncle Tobias?
1st Mummy: Uncle Tobias! Good gracious! Why so it is! (they kiss each other by a simultaneous impulse) But, uncle, what are you doing here?
Uncle: Waking up—to realities. Where’s your mother, Samuel? where’s Benjamin and Sarah Jane?
Sam: I’m sure I don’t know. I don’t know where they are.
Uncle: And do you mean to say you didn’t know me? am I then changed so much that I am past recognition?
Sam: Well, your air—
Uncle: Rather the want of it I should think.
Sam: And your manner–
Uncle: More dry, perhaps; that’s not unlikely. But I think I have seen you more blooming. Tell me, Sammy, (much amused) have you looked in the glass lately?
Sam: No. why?
Uncle: Because if you had I think you would have seen yourself darkly. Do you know what color you are?
Sam: Much the same color as yourself, I presume.
Uncle: Not at all; why, my dear boy, you are perfectly brown. (Sam endeavors to say something but his Uncle continues much diverted) and your hair—why, I don’t see hair at all—and, excuse me—your mouth seems twice its natural size. And you don’t look as fat as you did. You look rather lanky. Altogether you are altered, Sam, there is no doubt of it, yes, you are altered.
Sam: And pray how do you think you look?
Uncle: Oh! I know. My complexion was always florid, and my hair curly, and I was almost, yes almost, too stout to be graceful.
Sam: (bursting into a laugh) Oh my dear Uncle!
Uncle: (much offended) Do you doubt me! I assure you I was by no means the worst looking man I ever saw.
Sam: Well, my dear Uncle, let me be frank. You are now, then.
Uncle: (angrily) Why what’s the color of my complexion?
Sam: Brick dust and yellow ochre.
Uncle: And of my curls?
Sam: They have vanished into very thin hair.
Uncle: Thin! well thin they may be, but what’s their color?
Sam: My dear Uncle you have no more hair on your head as far as I can see, than grows on the back of an iceberg.
Uncle: (repressing his wrath) Well, I will forgive you. You were always full of your jokes, Sam. But we will drop personalities for the future. Now tell me how you came here.
Sam: Well, I got myself up—regardless of expense—and here I am. That’s all I know. But I wonder what has become of the rest of the family. I’m going to call my mother. (calls) Mummy! Mummy!
Uncle: For heaven’s sake, give her her name, else we shall have all these pickled Egyptians coming down upon us. Call Benjamin and Sarah Jane (Sam calls—a pause) A peaceful family in spite of these family jars. (nodding toward Cinerary Urns) Is there nobody to help us! (looking round) Why, good gracious! why, Samuel, a thought strikes me! do you see where we are? we are in the British Museum! We are in the mummy room of the British Museum! I know it well. I have been here often. I thought you looked like a mummy, Samuel. I thought you did, but I didn’t like to say so. I know the Director of the Museum. He is a personal friend of mine. It’s Mr Newton. We will get hold of him. (calls) Newton! I say, Newton. (voices outside) Hark! We better retire a little in case it’s the Police. (they go to back of stage, enter Lady examining coin.)
Lady: Ah! this was his expression, was it? the face has all the attributes of greatness. Intellect, fearlessness and serenity combined. The air of a philosopher, of a statesman, of a scholar. What a precious relic of antiquity! (reading date) 1875, and this is 1975, just one hundred years ago. (continues examination).
Uncle: Oh Samuel!
Sam: Oh Uncle!
Both: One hundred years!
Uncle: And we have been gazed at as curiosities for half a century. Horrible! horrible!
Sam: It is very flattering to my vanity to think that so many ladies have had an eye upon me.
Uncle: The left one, then, since you have been on the shelf for half a century. But Sammy! we may obtain some information from this lady. I am going to speak to her. ahem! ahem! (lady turns and both bow).
Lady: Goodness gracious! What is this? fish, flesh, or fowl.