Stage Fright on a Summer Night
them wailed. âI cannot be a lion without my mask!â
âHush, of course you can,â said Will. âJust roar! And roar again!â
Will pushed the actor onstage. He wiped his brow. Then he caught sight of Jack.
âGet Andy!â he said. âItâs almost time for our bow.â
Annie? Where is Annie?
Jack wondered. He hadnât seen her in a while. He peeked into the costume room. She wasnât there.
Jackâs heart started to pound. He had a scary thoughtÂ â¦Â .
âOh, no,â he whispered.
Jack ran down the stairs. He opened the door. He was happy to see Annie running out from some trees behind the theater.
âItâs time to bow!â he said, grabbing her hand. âWhere have you been? What did you do?â
âIâll show you later!â said Annie.
Jack and Annie charged upstairs together.They found Will and some of the actors waiting.
Puck was finishing his last speech onstage:
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friendsÂ â¦Â .
âAndy! Jack!â said Will. He grabbed Annie and Jack.
Puck ended his speech. The audience gave a big hand. They clapped and whistled and shouted.
Jack and Annie ran onstage with Will and the other actors. While the crowd cheered, they all bowed onceÂ â¦Â twiceÂ â¦Â and once again.
Will stepped forward and held up his hands. Slowly the crowd quieted down.
âThank you all,â he said. âAnd thank you to the most important person in all the world. She has graced us with her presence today.â
Will made a sweeping bow to a woman in a gallery above the stage. The woman wore a white dress with pearls. A veil covered her face.
The woman stood up and slowly lifted the veil. She had pale, wrinkled skin and small dark eyes. She wore a red wig.
The audience members let out a gasp. They all fell to their knees.
âLong live Queen Elizabeth!â said Will.
âLong live Queen Elizabeth!â the crowd shouted.
âLong live Queen Elizabeth!â shouted Jack and Annie.
The queen smiled. Her teeth were all black! The audience didnât seem to mind. They cheered even louder.
The queen raised one hand and the crowd instantly hushed.
âI thank you, my good people,â she said. âAnd I thank all these good players, every one. Today, they gave us a special kind of magicâthe magic of theater. They turned the very daytime into night.â
âOh, man,â whispered Jack. That was itâthe special magic. Their search was over.
The audience cheered again. When the actors left the stage, they gathered around Will to congratulate him on his success.
Annie pulled Jack aside.
âWe found it!â she said. âThe magic!â
âI know!â Jack said. âWill helped us. Letâs thank him!â
âLater,â said Annie. âFirst I have to show you something. I need your help! Quick!â
Annie led Jack downstairs and outside. As people streamed away from the Globe, the late afternoon sun was going down.
âThis way,â said Annie. She headed for the patch of trees behind the theater.
When she and Jack stepped into the gloomy shade, Jack saw an odd figure near a tree. A purple cape barely covered his furry back. A golden wig and a lion mask barely hid his furry head.
Jack gasped. âThe bear! You stole him!â
to,â said Annie. âI went to the cart when no one was looking. I put a costume on him. So if we passed people on the way here, theyâd think he was an actor.â
âBut you canât just steal him!â said Jack.
âI wasnât stealing. I was
â said Annie. âIâm not sure what to do with him now. What do you think?â
Just then the bearâs owner charged into the woods. âWhereâs my bear?â he shouted. His face was red. He was scowling.
âThieves!â he yelled. âGive him back! Iâm selling him to the fights!â
âNO!â said Annie, standing between the bear and the man. âHeâs a tame bear! Not a fighter!â
âSheâs right!â said Jack, jumping in. âAnd besides, bear fighting is stupid! Really stupid!â
âÂ âTis, indeed,â said a deep voice.
Jack, Annie, and the bearâs owner whirled around. Will and Puck were standing at the edge of the woods.
âTut, tut, youâre a sorry sight, man,â Will
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