Cover of book Superwomen
Categories: Nonfiction

Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER THREE PEG


WOFFINGTON IRISH HEART CONJURER A THRONG of people?barefoot peasants, modish idlers, tradesfolk, riffraff?stood in a Dublin courtyard one day in 1 727, providing the much- admired "sea of upturned faces." All eyes were raised, all necks were back bent. Every one was looking aloft to where a taut wire was stretched between two post tops. Along the wire walked a harlequin, taking mincing dance steps and balancing across his shoulders a pole from whose 'extremities dangled two huge baskets. To make the feat the more interesting by adding a spice of possible peril, announcement had been made that each basket contained a live child. The chance of a triple tragedy in the event of a misstep made the tight-wire walk a right diverting spectacle, and thrilling withal, to the good folk of Dublin. But half way between the two extremity posts, still a new element of interest was added. For, at that point, the top suddenly popped off one of the baskets, and a big-eyed, laughing face beamed down, over the edge, at the crowd. The face of a seven-year-old child?a girl. A roar of applause followed upon the youngster's unrehearsed appearance. Thus did Peg Woffington, a queen of her century's actresses and consummate heart conjurer, make her professional debut. Peg?her full first name, which nobody dreamed of using, was Margaret?was the daughter of an Irish bricklayer who had one point in common with certain modernists in that he was rabidly opposed to all doctors. And the medical guild had in due time its revenge on the sacrilegious brick artist. For once, when Woffington fell ill, he fiercely refused to have a physician summoned. And he rapidly grew better. As her husband was convalescing, Mrs. Woffington sought to make assurance doubly certain by callin...

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