he decanter of whiskey which Roberts has left standing there. He pounces upon the decanter, pulls out the stopple, and applies his nose to the mouth. "Ah, ha! This is the milk in the cocoanut, is it? No wonder you slept soundly, and had sweet dreams? Well, Roberts!"
Roberts: "No, no, Willis! I solemnly assure you I haven't touched a drop of it!"
Campbell: "Oh yes! I know! That's what they always say!"
Roberts: "But I tell you, Willis--"
Campbell: "Oh, all right, my boy! I don't blame you! You have never fallen before, probably, but you're down this time, old man. You have every appearance of being grossly intoxicated, as the reporters say, at this instant. Look how red your eyes are!"
Roberts: "It's loss of sleep. I tell you I haven't tasted the whiskey."
Campbell: "But it's half gone!" He lifts the decanter and shows. "Well, I hope Agnes may never know it, and your poor children, Roberts--"
Evening Dress is a comedy in the form of a short one-act stage play and written by the prolific William Dean Howells (1837-1920), an American realist author and literary critic.
The only problem with Evening Dress is that it shows a glimpse into a world of values and social mores so long gone that I would suspect many a modern reader will not be able to grasp the humor in the tale. The reader who understands this comedy will have to enter another world where problems considered minor to nonexistent in this era were once understandably socially disastrous.
Give this short play a try, but read it slowly. You will have to sip it, not gulp it.