following is derived from the narrative of the hero of the story:
"A stage-struck youth, who had got
the part of Hamlet letter perfect, applied to the manager of a small
theatre in what he terms Threadyton (evidently Paisley), for an
engagement. His desire was gratified, and the performance was duly
announced, the play-bill intimating
THE CHARACTER OF HAMLET
By a Gentleman
His First Appearance on any Stage.
But when the
faced the audience he was suddenly struck dumb, and
could make no utterance. Cold drops of sweat ran down his back, his head
felt on fire, his knees grew shaky, his eyes glassy, and the sea of human
heads before him seemed converted into one great petrified face—and oh!
how terribly hard it looked at him, seeming to read his soul.
In vain the prompter prompted; the
Hew Hamlet could do
nothing else but stare with a helpless, vacant stare. He felt what
he had to say, but could not speak it. The audience got impatient and
began to hiss, upon which the would-be Hamlet, gazing at his sombre dress
with a woebegone look, said to himself, as he thought, "What would
my mother say to this if she saw me making such a terrible fool of myself
Roars of laughter from the audience,
again and again repeated, broke the dream-like spell, and brought the
stage-struck hero to his senses, and awake to the fact that he had really
uttered the words he imagined he had only thought. When he awoke to this
consciousness, and heard the audience shouting with wild and gleeful mirth
at the tragedy turned into a comedy—although to
it was the former and not the latter—the next and last
act was to look first one way and then another, ending the performance
with a horrorstruck rush from the stage, amid a renewed shout from the
audience and of the theatrical company.
And so ended the first appearance of
this gentleman on a stage.