David Garrick, the famous English actor of the 18th century, began his stage career very early. At the age of eighteen he was already a member of a company which toured the south of England every summer. One evening in July the company arrived at the little town and staged there a tragedy which was based on an episode of the Punic wars. It was performed in an open- air theatre. At the beginning of the second act there was a scene showing a battle-field. Bodies of three or four dead men lay here and there. Garrick played the part of one of those bodies. After the interval between the first and second acts the curtain went up. Garrick lay as still as possible, trying to look like a real dead body. An actor playing the part of a Roman general came forward and began to recite a monologue.
Suddenly Garrick heard a mosquito buzzing near his ear. Then came another. The next moment several mosquitoes began to sting him in the face and in the leg. Garrick wanted very much to scratch himself. But how can a dead body move?
“Look at that young man,” the general went on with his monologue, ” Only a few hours ago he was healthy and full of life…. and there he lies now- a dead body! Only a miracle can bring him back to life!”
Exactly at that momentr Garrick began to scratch himself here and there. Trying to remain serious the general was thinking hard what to say next. He certainly could not continue his monologue.” The gods heard me’! He cried out at last. “The miracle has happened!”
The audience burst into laughter, but Garrick had no wish to laugh. He was too worried about his future stage career. In any case, that evening he decided never again to play a dead body in summer when there are so many mosquitoes around.
Mr. Brown was at the theatre. He had got his ticket at the last moment, so he had not been able to choose his seat. He now found that he was in the middle of a group of American ladies, some of them middle-aged and some quite old. They obviously all knew each other well, as, before the curtain went up on the play they had come to see, they all talked and joked a lot together.
The lady sitting on Mr. Brown’s left, who was about sixty years old, seemed to be the happiest and the most amusing of the American group, and after the first act of the play she apologized to him for the noisiness of her friends.
He answered that he was very glad to see American ladies so obviously enjoying their visit to England, and so they got into the conversation. Mr. Brown’s neighbour explained what they were doing there.
“I have known these ladies all my life,” she said. “We all grew up together back in our home town in the United States. They have all lost their husbands, and call themselves the Merry Widows. It is a sort of club, you know. They go abroad every summer for a month or two and have a lot of fun. They always go everywhere together. I have wanted to join their club for a long time, but I didn’t qualify for membership until the spring of this year”.