An Aristocrat in Prison
Some plays are so successful that they run for years on end. In many ways it is unfortunate for the actors, who have to go on repeating the same lines night after night. One would expect them to know their parts by heart and never forget them while on stage. Yet, this is not always the case.
A famous actor in a highly successful play once played the role of an aristocrat who had been imprisoned for twenty years. In the last act of the play a jailor would come on the stage with a letter which he would give to the prisoner. Even though the prisoner was expected to read the letter at each performance, he always insisted that, it should be written out in full.
One night, the jailor decided to play a joke on his colleague to find out that, after so many performances, if he had managed to learn the contents of the letter by heart. The curtain went up on the final act of the play and showed the aristocrat sitting behind bars in his dark cell. Just than, the jailor appeared with the letter in his hands. He entered the cell and presented the letter to the aristocrat. But the copy he gave him was not written out in full as usual. It was simply a blank sheet of paper. The jailor looked eagerly to see if his colleague had at last learnt his lines. The prisoner stared at the blank sheet of paper for a few seconds. Then looking (at it) with his eyes half shut, he said, “The light is dim. Read out the letter to me.” And he promptly handed the sheet of paper to the jailor. Finding that he could not remember a word of the letter either, the jailor replied, “the light is dim Sir, I must get my glasses”. Much to the aristocrat’s amusement, the jailor returned a few minutes later with a pair of glasses and the usual copy of the letter, which he then proceeded to read to the prisoner.