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Title: Christmas Candles - Plays for Boys and Girls
Author: Carter, Elsie Hobart
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected
without note. This book was published in 1915 and is a product of its
time; it contains ethnic and racial stereotypes that modern readers
may find offensive.]



CHRISTMAS CANDLES

_Plays for Boys and Girls_


BY

ELSIE HOBART CARTER


[Illustration]


  NEW YORK
  HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
  1915

  Copyright, 1915,
  BY
  HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY


Published November, 1915

Printed, November, 1922


  PRINTED IN THE U S A BY
  THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY
  RAHWAY N J

[Illustration: MARIE TELLS THE STORY

_The Babushka_, Page 209]

  To the memory of
  W.N.H.
  who loved both plays
  and players


Thanks are due to The Century Company; Mr. Tudor Jenks; Miss K.A.
Prichard; Mrs. Mary Wilkins Freeman; the Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
Company; Colonel Thomas E. Davis; Miss Gertrude Hall; Harper &
Brothers; the John Church Company; and the Universalist Publishing
House, for permission to use copyrighted material, as particularly
acknowledged throughout the book.



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE

  SUGGESTIONS FOR PRODUCTION                                        xv

  I. THE CHRIST-CANDLE. _In Two Scenes_                              1

       Seventeen characters: Two, the mother and St.
       Nicholas, played by adults; seven boys and
       four girls from six to twelve years; four boys,
       Important parts fall to three of the younger
       children, two boys and one girl, and the Star-Child
       must be able to sing alone.

            Setting: 1st. Snow-scene in forest.
                     2nd. Interior,--a poor hovel.
            Time of playing: 40 minutes.

       This play makes use of the old German belief
       that the Christ-Child returns to earth each
       Christmas Eve to seek shelter among men. A
       little waif, lost in the snow, is refused help by
       the selfishness of happiness, of ill-temper, of
       poverty, of riches, and is at last received by
       two little children who take him for the Holy
       Child indeed.


  II. TOINETTE AND THE ELVES. _In Two Acts_                         31

       Ten characters: Mother's part taken by an
       adult; three girls and two boys from six to
       fifteen; four very little boys for elves.

            Setting: Quaint cottage interior.
            Time of playing: 30 minutes.

       Toinette, pretty, dreamy, and self-absorbed,
       tries the Elves' Christmas-Eve gift of fern seed,
       to make her invisible, and learns that
       the little brothers and sisters do not love an
       impatient and unkind older one. Much
       grieved, she tries through the year to correct
       her faults, but is almost afraid to repeat the
       experiment when the Elves again bring their
       gift. The friendly Elves urge her, and the
       result is so happy that Toinette and the Elves
       have a gay little celebration all by themselves.


  III. TOM'S PLAN. _In Two Acts_                                    53

       Nine characters: One adult, for Santa Claus;
       four boys and four girls from six to fifteen
       years. Chief part by a boy of eight or nine.

            Setting: One simple interior.
            Time of playing: 25 minutes.

       Tom, hearing that Santa Claus will bring
       sticks or ashes to children who are bad, can
       think of no way to test the disturbing statement,
       except to be as naughty as he knows
       how. But Santa Claus explains matters.


  IV. THEIR CHRISTMAS PARTY. _In Two Acts_                          73

       Characters: One adult for Santa Claus; five
       older children, two boys and three girls; two
       boys and two girls, seven to nine years for
       the important parts, and a dozen children
       from four to ten, with no speaking parts.

            Setting: 1st. A winter street-scene.
                     2nd. Simple interior.
            Time of playing: 35 minutes.

       Dick and Dot, a lonely little brother and
       sister, decide to share their Christmas with
       two poor children, while several older friends,
       hearing the children's wish for a Christmas
       Party, plan, independently of each other, to
       arrange for one. The result is a Christmas
       surprise for everyone.


  V. THE CHRISTMAS BROWNIE. _In One Act_                            95

       Twenty-four characters: Santa Claus; three
       older children for adults, one boy and two
       girls; three boys and three girls from five to
       twelve, the important parts being for two boys
       of ten; four little boys and two little girls,
       and eight children who can sing, for the
       tableaux of the Christmas dream.

            Setting: Simple interior.
            Time of playing: 40 minutes.

       Santa Claus' Brownie allows Ted to help fill
       the stockings, with a result that perplexes and
       disturbs their owners, and teaches Ted that it
       takes thoughtfulness as well as good will to
       make people happy. The Brownie's especial
       gift to Ted is a Christmas Dream.


  VI. A PURITAN CHRISTMAS. _In Two Acts_                           121

       Twenty characters: Seven boys and four girls,
       from five to twelve years; the mother, and
       other adult Colonists, taken by boys and girls
       from seventeen to twenty.

            Setting: One interior, a small cabin in the
                     early days of the Colonies.
            Time of playing: 45 minutes.

       The little Puritan family, hearing from their
       young mother of happy Christmas in Old England,
       decide on a celebration of their own.
       The Colonists, surprising them, are very
       angry, and inclined to severe punishment,
       until a little Indian boy, who has been befriended
       by Mistress Delight and her children,
       shows that, for the sake of her kindness to
       him, the settlement has been spared a dreaded
       Indian raid. The peace and good will of
       Christmas touch the stern hearts of the Puritans,
       and they end by a friendly sharing of
       the festival.


  VII. THE CHRISTMAS MONKS. _In Three Acts_                        149

       Twenty-five characters, all but two with
       speaking parts. Two may double. One adult
       for the Abbot. Eight older boys, four older
       girls. Seven boys, five girls, from five to ten
       years.

            Setting: 1st. Roadway, outside the Convent walls.
                     2nd. The Christmas garden.
                     3rd. Chapel of the Convent.
            Time of playing: 50 minutes.

       It is unknown to many people that the Christmas
       toys grow from seed in the garden of the
       Christmas Monks. The play relates the adventures
       of the Prince, Peter, and Peter's little
       sister, in this wonderful place.


  VIII. THE SPELL OF CHRISTMAS. _In Two Scenes_                    179

       Fourteen characters: Eight boys and six girls,
       from six to sixteen years. Also a few voices
       for the singing of the Waits' carol off stage.

            Setting: Two scenes--Seventeenth Century interiors.
            Time of playing: 45 minutes.

       The old belief that at midnight on Christmas
       Eve the family portraits come to life, step
       down from their places, and join hands in a
       stately dance, leads the children to slip out of
       their beds at an unwonted hour, and so to
       take a hand in the adventures of their elders,
       quite beyond their ken.


  IX. THE BABUSHKA. _A Russian Legend, in One Scene_               209

       Twenty-four characters: One adult, or older
       girl, able to bring intelligence and sympathy to
       the part of the mysterious Babushka; two
       men, or older boys; five boys and four girls,
       from six to fourteen; and village children,
       five boys, seven girls. One of the men and
       one boy, the village fiddlers, should be able to
       play their violins to accompany the carol.

            Setting: Interior,--a Russian hovel.
            Time of playing: 30 minutes.

       Tells the story of the strange old woman,
       who, refusing at the Wise Men's call to follow
       the Star to the manger of the new-born
       Christ, has ever since in the winter season
       wandered over the world, seeking in every
       nursery, in every cradle, for the Holy Child.


  X. A CANVAS CHRISTMAS. _In Two Acts. For a Boys' Club_           235

       Fourteen characters: Twelve boys, twelve to
       sixteen; two little boys, six and eight.

            Setting: One scene, interior of a circus tent.
            Time of playing: 40 minutes.

       Two little farm boys who have never seen
       either a circus or a Christmas tree, creep into
       the tent just as the discontented men are planning
       rebellion against their leader. The
       Christmas spirit of friendliness softens not
       only the men, but the surly ringmaster, and
       the strict and severe father of the boys.


  XI. MINTY-MALVINY'S SANTA CLAUS. _In One Act_                    265

       Seven characters: Three adults, two men, one
       woman; four children, three girls, and one
       boy, six to ten years. The important part of
       the pickaninny taken by a girl of ten.

            Setting: Modern interior.
            Time of playing: 25 minutes.

       Minty-Malviny, the little black drudge of an
       old-time New Orleans boarding-house, falls
       asleep on the rug of a handsome sitting-room,
       and waking, takes the owner for Ole Marse
       Santa Claus himself. Her faith inspires him
       to play the part.


  XII. THE HUNDRED. _In One Act_                                   283

       Six characters: Five women, one little girl of
       eight or nine, who must be able to carry an
       important part.

            Setting: Mrs. Darling's dressing-room.
            Time of playing: 50 minutes.

       Mrs. Darling, a charming young widow with
       a quick temper, has dressed a hundred dolls
       for an Orphan Asylum. On Christmas Eve,
       Sally, the kitchen-maid, brings a little East-side
       friend to see the dolls, one of which is
       accidentally broken, to the consternation of
       the household. But Mrs. Darling is not the
       ogress the servants believe her, and Tibbie
       goes home happy, with her arms full of
       dollies.


  GENERAL NOTES                                                    313

  SUGGESTIONS FOR CAROLS                                           315



ILLUSTRATIONS


  MARIE TELLS THE STORY. [_The Babushka._]              _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE

  HANS AND GRETEL. [_The Christmas-Candle._]                         3

  HOLLYBERRY. [_Toinette and the Elves._]                           33

  THEIR CHRISTMAS PARTY                                             75

  THE BROWNIE. [_The Christmas Brownie._]                           97

  PRUDENCE. EAGLEFEATHER. [_A Puritan Christmas._]                 123

  THE PRINCE. PETER AND THE PRINCE. [_The Christmas Monks._]       151

  ALLISON. [_The Spell of Christmas._]                             181



SUGGESTIONS FOR PRODUCTION


These little plays were written for the classes and clubs of a small
Sunday-school, where the Christmas celebration consisted of a play to
introduce Santa Claus and a Christmas-tree. They are equally suitable
for children at home or in day schools, and they have been so used.

In most of the plays children greatly enjoy playing the adult parts
and do good work in them. But several of the adult rôles call for
adult players, because a deeper appreciation of the feeling contained
in the story is required than can be given by girls in their teens.
Such parts are the Babushka, the Mother in "The Christ-Candle," and
the Mother in "Toinette." Partly for the same reason, a man should be
chosen for the Abbot in "The Christmas Monks," but also his presence
will lend dignity, and much greater orderliness to rehearsals in a
play with a large cast.

The last two plays, adapted from stories by well-known writers,
"Minty-Malviny's Santa Claus" and "The Hundred," were not especially
intended for children, but as parlor plays for home production. These
two throw heavier work upon a single child than any of the other
plays, but though they were made with special children in view, it
would not be difficult to find, in any group of children, a little
girl who could play "Minty" or "Tibbie" as well as those for whom the
parts were first made.

The length of the cast in some of the plays need not be daunting, as
the principal characters are usually few, the minor ones often having
been introduced in answer to the frequent pleading "May _I_ be in the
'show' this year?" Though some of the parts are rather long, none are
in the least calculated to strain the actors in any way--children
act them with zest and absolute naturalness. Very little children
have sometimes done remarkable work in them--the very youngest, a
tiny girl of four, cast for "Rosalia" in "The Christmas Monks,"
played also another part at twenty-four hours' notice, when a little
cousin inopportunely came down with measles on Christmas Eve. The two
children had studied together, and little "Rosalia" knew "Peggy's"
part as well as her own.

LIGHTING. No one factor is more important for success in
producing children's plays than adequate lighting. No matter how
charmingly the setting and costuming may be carried out, no matter
how well the children may act their parts, if the audience cannot
_see_ them easily, the pains and trouble of the stage force, the best
efforts of the children, will be lost. This is an individual problem,
each case varying so much from the next that definite directions to
fit all cases cannot well be given. But the importance of this one
factor can hardly be overestimated. Fortunate indeed is the miniature
stage with footlights and upper lights so arranged that red and white
bulbs are controlled by different switches, each switch having also a
dimmer. Nor are these things so expensive as to be beyond even rather
moderate means, especially if included in the original equipment of
the stage. It is more often from lack of experience than because of
their initial cost that they are omitted.

STAGE SETTINGS. Through the same lack of experience or
forethought, settings are often provided which are of use in the
minimum instead of the maximum number of plays. The simplest cottage
interior is more adaptable, and can be used in a greater number of
instances than the most attractive of more pronounced "sets." It is
therefore invaluable for a small stage, where perhaps but one indoor
and one outdoor scene must cover all requirements. All but two of the
plays in this volume have been acted upon such a little stage.

DELAYS. Another point of real importance is to avoid delays.
The director should make every effort to this end by attention to
the smallest details beforehand, by preparedness when the time of
performance comes, and by perfect control of the stage forces.
Lateness in beginning, and long waits between scenes, are tedious to
any audience. They do much to dampen enthusiasm and destroy otherwise
happy impressions. Care and forethought, practice for those who
are to handle scenery, and system in the arrangement of properties
and costumes will go a long way towards the elimination of this
difficulty.

COSTUMES AND PROPERTIES. In giving stage directions and
descriptions of costumes, the effort has been towards suggestiveness
rather than too great definiteness, and strict adherence to all
details is not necessary or intended. It is most important to
keep the Christmas spirit of the play from being smothered in the
mechanics of production. Setting and costuming may be elaborate
or simple, and every director will know his or her own resources.
Groups of people interested in such work are apt to accumulate sets
of costumes, odd properties, even pieces of furniture, which are
convertible to many other uses than those for which they were made.
Few things are really impossible to compass if one is set upon them.
A friendly janitor will spend his leisure upon stage-carpentry.
Friends rise up--or may be sought--who are interested enough to lend
their treasures, or to use their talents. One will draw a latticed
window which may be pinned or basted upon a bit of plain wall;
another will manufacture a scutcheon for the decoration of a medieval
hall, or even paint a sea scene before which Alice, the Gryphon, and
the Mock-Turtle may disport themselves.

MATERIALS. Gifts of old silk gowns, or even scraps of
material, can all be utilized in some way. And in this connection, a
word must be said as to the value of _real_ things. Use cheese-cloth,
cambric, and canton-flannel if you must--a good variety of color may
be found in them; canton-flannel is heavy, and hangs well, and up to
a certain point they are all effective. But if better things can be
had, through gift or loan, it is a matter for rejoicing. Not only
because better materials mean softer and richer colors, but because
they very greatly improve the _texture_ of the stage picture. This
difference in quality makes a very marked difference in beauty of
effect.

Occasionally it will be found necessary to hire costumes, and, more
often, wigs. But all such things as can be made, with help, by the
children and their friends, will add just so much to their interest
in the performance, and the good they can get from it.

MAKE-UP. For plays produced under artificial light, some
"make-up" must be used, as otherwise faces are often pale to
ghastliness. But for children it should be put on with a very careful
and sparing hand, and except in certain character-parts, only a
little dry rouge is needed.

REHEARSING. Children's plays should not be over-rehearsed.
The smoothness and finish which it is right to demand of older
players is hardly possible, or even desirable, for them. The charm
of their acting lies in its sweet simplicity and freshness, a part
of which is almost sure to be lost in any attempt at professional
perfection. When they weary of rehearsals, and lose their enjoyment
of them, not only are the director's troubles multiplied, but
something vital has been lost from the charm of the final performance.

As a preliminary to rehearsals the children should be brought
together and the cast read to them, so that each child may know
just which part he or she is to act, and the play then read to them
by someone thoroughly in sympathy both with its story and with the
children themselves. In this way they most quickly catch the spirit
of the play, and are at once full of interest and ready with their
own suggestions. Then the parts may be given out, and the play
read again, each child reading his or her own part. Mistakes of
pronunciation and emphasis are thus guarded against, and the children
are ready to begin learning their parts. In the case of school plays,
where the whole group can meet daily, more than one such preliminary
reading and discussion should be held.

If it is a possible thing, rehearse from the beginning on the stage
where the play is to be given, having scenery arranged and properties
of some sort on hand, in order that lines and action may be impressed
on the children's minds together, not learned as distinct and
separate things. Put into practice early whatever music is to be used.

Finally, don't let the rehearsals at any time descend to the level
of mere _drill_. The director must enjoy them with the children,
establishing a happy co-operation which makes the whole work a joy
from beginning to end. They will share the spirit of adventure in the
matter of obtaining or contriving the most difficult things in the
way of costumes, scenery, and properties. Their inventiveness will
be quickened, their hands will grow skillful, and their triumphant
enjoyment of success in these preliminary labors will stimulate them
to greater success in the acting of the story. In this, they will be
quick to appreciate hints--frequently to offer them--as to the best
ways of expressing the meaning and spirit of the play, and work with
them becomes an inspiration to all alike.

With such whole-hearted co-operation, nothing is impossible of
attainment, and the pleasure of the work more than repays ungrudging
lavishment of time, labor, patience, and love.



THE CHRIST-CANDLE

A CHRISTMAS PLAY IN TWO SCENES


CHARACTERS

  MOTHER MADELON } Who live in the little black hut
  HANS           }   in the woods.
  GRETEL         }
  FRIEDEL, whom the Christ-Child sent.
  OLD MARTA   }
  RICH JOHANN } Who would not share their Christmas.
  CROSS JACOB }
  WOODCUTTER  }
  THE STAR CHILD, who brought a Christmas message.
  FRITZ    }
  HEINRICH }
  OSCAR    } To whom the good St. Nicholas always
  KARL     }   comes.
  JAN      }
  BARBARA  }
  KATRINA  }
  THE GOOD ST. NICHOLAS.

[Illustration: HANS AND GRETEL]


THE CHRIST-CANDLE


SCENE I

_Christmas Eve, in the forest near_ MOTHER MADELON'S
_cottage. The ground is covered with snow and the little evergreens
all about are weighted down with it. Enter_ FRITZ (_L._)
_with his brothers and sisters, laden with holly boughs and
evergreens. The boys drag a sled with a small evergreen tree on it.
As they come they sing "Softly the Echoes Come and Go."_[1]

[Footnote 1: _Hosanna_, p. 122. New Church Board of Publication, 3
West 29th St., New York.]


FRITZ. Stop here and rest, Heinrich. This is too big a load
for the little ones.

BARBARA. Yes, Karl is all out of breath, and little Jan can
hardly keep up.

HEINRICH [_dropping the sled rope_]. I'm not tired. I'm
going to run back to the holly trees to get a few more sprays.
[_Exit._]

OSCAR [_who has been measuring the tree with his arm._]
Fritz, do you think the good St. Nicholas can cover such a big tree
as this?

KARL. It's pretty big. It's bigger than me--or Katrina--I
guess it's bigger than Fritz or Barbara or Heinrich.

KATRINA. I think it's bigger than the one St. Nicholas
filled for us last year.

JAN. But then, you see, we are bigger children than we were
last year.

FRITZ. But the tree is almost big enough to hold you on the top
branches, kleiner Bruder, if the good St. Nicholas wanted to put you
there. See! [_He and_ BARBARA _help_ JAN _on top of the load. Enter_
HEINRICH _excitedly._]

HEINRICH. Fritz, Fritz! And, Barbara, and all of you! Listen
to what I've seen. I was running over to the holly trees, you know,
when I tripped on a bit of grape-vine, and rolled over in the snow.
[_Brushes snow from his clothes._] And when I sat up there was the
queerest little black cottage right there. I do believe it just came
up out of the ground like a house in a fairy-book.

FRITZ. Oh no, it didn't, Heinrich, it's always been there!
I've seen it many a time.

HEINRICH. I don't believe it! Why didn't I ever see it then?

BARBARA. Oh, never mind that! Tell us some more about the
house.

HEINRICH. I crept up, and looked in at the window, for, of
course, I thought there might be brownies, or gnomes, or kobolds
there, and I saw----

CHILDREN [_breathlessly_]. What? Oh, what?

HEINRICH. A poor woman and two little children----

CHILDREN [_disappointed_]. O-o-h!

FRITZ. That all?

HEINRICH. Just wait! They looked so poor and hungry--there
wasn't a thing on the table but a dry little loaf of bread--and only
a few little sticks on the fire.

KATRINA. Oh, it makes me so sorry.

HEINRICH [_shaking his head wisely_]. That's not the worst
of it. When I got to the window the two children were standing by the
mother's chair, looking up in her face and asking her something. I
couldn't hear what they said, but she shook her head oh, so sadly,
and said: "No, my little ones, the good St. Nicholas will not find
his way to us this Christmas." That's what she said! [_Silent
consternation._]

FRITZ. What? What did you say, Heinrich?

BARBARA. It couldn't be so!

KARL. St. Nicholas!

OSCAR. Not find his way everywhere!

KATRINA. Not give them any beautiful Tannenbaum!

FRITZ. Oh, I don't believe it! You didn't hear right!

HEINRICH. I did. And I do believe it! You would if you had
seen how sorry they looked.

FRITZ. Well, but--well, I don't see--well, Heinrich, it
isn't so hard to find. He _must_ come surely.

HEINRICH. No, he isn't coming. The poor woman said so and
she must know. [_Sitting down on sled._]

BARBARA. Yes, she must know. Father and Mother always see
the good saint first, you know, and tell him whether we've been
naughty or good. They always know whether he is coming or not.

KATRINA. But he always _does_ come to us.

OSCAR. Brother Fritz, Mother says the good St. Nicholas
loves to give presents to little children. Wouldn't he be sorry if
there was a house anywhere in the _world_ that he didn't know about?

KARL. Brother Fritz, couldn't _we_ show him the way?

FRITZ [_claps him on the shoulder_]. Well spoken, Karl, my
man. We'll tell St. Nicholas all about it as soon as he comes to us,
and then show him the way to Heinrich's little black hut.

BARBARA. And if he shouldn't have enough to go around, he
always brings us so much that we can spare some of our things for
them.

FRITZ. Yes, he puts enough for two trees on our tree. Come,
Oscar and Karl, get hold of the rope! Barbara, you take Katrina's
hand.

BARBARA. Trot along in front, Jan! Come, then, let's get
home as fast as we can.

HEINRICH. All together now! Get up, horses, pull the load home!
[_Exeunt (R.), singing as before. Enter_ FRIEDEL _(L.), before the
sound of their voices has died away, slowly and wearily. Limps to
side and peers through the trees after the children, then to the
back, then to the left again, like one who has lost his way. Stops
in the center looking doubtfully after the children once more. Enter
the woodcutter (L.), axe over his shoulder, whistling as he hurries
home._ FRIEDEL _silently holds out his cap, but the man shrugs his
shoulders, shakes his head, and passes on._ FRIEDEL _goes slowly to
a tree and sits on a log or mound beside it. Blows on his fingers,
tries to pull his rags more closely around him, and leans his head
dejectedly on his hands. Lifts his head suddenly to watch_ MARTA,
_who approaches (L.), hobbling under a bunch of fagots._]

MARTA. Ach, my old bones! Ach, this heavy bundle! Will ever
old Marta get home?

  [FRIEDEL _silently holds out his cap._

MARTA. What's this! What's this! What's this! Was ever heard
tell of such insolence? As if Old Marta wasn't poor enough herself,
without giving to every beggar who chooses to ask! The little
good-for-nothing sees how I stagger under my own load and yet asks
me to help him! [_Moves on._]

FRIEDEL [_softly_]. I would help you carry them.

MARTA [_pausing_]. Help me! Help me! and lose half the
sticks I have worked so hard to gather on the way! [_Goes on._] Help
me, he says. When I want help I'll not ask the beggars that come out
of the streets of the town just a purpose to lie in wait for a poor
old crone like me. [_Exit (R.) mumbling._] That I'll not! That I'll
not.

FRIEDEL [_looking after her_]. Why does she think I would
drop the sticks? I would be _so_ careful. I wonder why. I almost
think she was afraid of me. Of _me_!

  [_Enter_ CROSS JACOB _(L.)._

FRIEDEL [_timidly_]. Please--please, sir, could you tell me
the way back to the town? And oh, couldn't you let me come to your
fire a little while to warm myself?

CROSS JACOB. Go away with you! It's as much as ever my wife
will do to let me warm myself at my fire. She's got nine boys of
her own to fill up my house and drive me away. Get away with you!
[_Shakes his fist threateningly._ FRIEDEL _recoils._] Go
home to your own fire! [_Exit (R.)._]

FRIEDEL. Oh, if I only had one!

  [_Enter_ RICH JOHANN _(L.). Pauses to light
  his pipe._

FRIEDEL [_speaking timidly and hurriedly_]. Oh, sir! Oh,
good, _kind_ sir! don't you want a little boy to help you in your
house?

JOHANN [_looks him over_]. What's your name, boy?

FRIEDEL. Friedel, sir!

JOHANN. Friedel what!

FRIEDEL. Just Friedel, sir!

JOHANN. Umph! "Just Friedel." And who's Friedel, I'd like to
know.

FRIEDEL. I don't think I just know myself, sir! But, oh,
sir! [_clasps his hands tightly_], please let me work for you. I
would pick up wood for you, and build fires, and run errands. I would
work _so_ hard and be _so_ faithful!

JOHANN [_throwing back his shoulders and putting his hands
in his pockets_]. And who do you think I am, boy, that you presume to
want to work in my house? To work for me, Rich Johann, who has many
servants in his house, to carry out his commands and do his work and
run his errands? Umph! Do you think I could have one servant about me
clothed in such rags as yours? [FRIEDEL _hangs his head._]
No, no! my servants wear fine clothes and brass buttons [_takes a
puff at his pipe_], yes, indeed, brass buttons. No, no! Rich Johann
lives in a very different style--a very different style, indeed.
[_Exit (R.), his nose very much in the air._]

FRIEDEL. Nobody will take me in. I have walked so far, so
far, I can't go back to the town. [_Throws himself down on mound (R.
Center)._] The snow feels almost warm, the wind is so cold. [_Points
up._] I can see a star up there through the trees. It twinkles and
twinkles as if it was laughing. I do believe it is! Sometimes I think
the stars must be children with little candles in their hands. I
wish I could see---- I wish---- [_He falls back asleep. Enter the
little_ STAR CHILD _(back Center) from behind the fir trees.
Sings._]

[Music: THE CHRIST CHILD[2]]

[Footnote 2: From _The Nursery_, Vol. 27 (1880).]

  WM. TAUBERT.

     Over all the starlight clear,
     While the world is sleeping,
     Sits the Christ Child ever dear,
     Nightly watch is keeping.
     Safe the starry host He tends,
     As his sheepfold shining,
     Cares for us and slumber sends,
     All to rest resigning,
     Sweetly sleep then, do not fear;
     Look with love before thee,
     From the golden starlight clear,
     Bends the Christ Child o'er thee,
     Bends the Christ Child o'er thee.

  [_Exit backwards slowly._ FRIEDEL _suddenly
  raises himself, stretching out his hand after
  her._


CURTAIN


SCENE II

_Christmas Eve in_ MOTHER MADELON'S _cottage. Open
fireplace[3] at the Right, door (R.) and window (L.) at the back.
Snow scene at back, shows through window and door when opened. Small
table by the window with half a loaf of bread and one or two cracked
plates and cups. A stool, a small chair, and by the fire a box._
MOTHER MADELON _sits (L.) at a spinning wheel. The children
stand beside her_, GRETEL _rubbing her eyes with her two
little fists_, HANS _with his hands behind him._

[Footnote 3: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]


HANS [_bravely_]. But, Mother, the good saint never missed
us before. Are you sure he isn't coming?

GRETEL. What makes you so sure, Mother, dear?

MOTHER. Yes, my little ones, I am afraid it is true. [_More
brightly._] You know, he has so very much to do. Just think how many
little children he must go to see every year! Someone must always be
left out. Perhaps it is our turn now. We can wait until next year.
Perhaps he will come then.

HANS [_rubbing his eyes_]. Oh, dear, I wish to-morrow
wouldn't come at all.

MOTHER. Oh, Hans, don't say that. Think how happy we can be.
Even if St. Nicholas doesn't come, to-morrow is still the bright,
beautiful Christmas Day, when everyone in the world is happy, and we
shall hear the chimes ringing, and see people going about wishing
each other "Merry Christmas." And then we have each other. I have my
little big daughter who helps me wipe the dishes and put the plates
away and my big right-hand man who is going to work so hard for me
pretty soon.

HANS. Yes, Mother, but I can help you now, right away. Let
me do something for you right now!

GRETEL. Me too, Mother, me too!

MOTHER. Very well! You shall hold this yarn for me, while Gretel
winds it. [_Puts the yarn on_ HANS' _hands._ HANS _sits on box_,
GRETEL _on stool winding._ MOTHER _turns spinning wheel and sings
"Bending O'er a Cradle Low."_]

[Music: BENDING O'ER A CRADLE LOW[4]]

[Footnote 4: Copyright, 1893, by the John Church Company. Used by
permission.]

(A CHRISTMAS SONG)

  LYDIA AVERY COONLEY. GEORGE F. ROOT.

     1. Bending o'er a cradle low
     Sang a mother long ago,
     "This is Christ the Holy Child."
     Shepherds, wise men, angels smiled;
     "What care I for palace walls;
     What care I for kingly halls!
     In my arms the King of kings
     Listens while the angel sings.
       Peace on earth, good will for aye,
       Hail the blessed Christmas Day!
       Hail the blessed Christmas Day!"

     2. Echoing down the ages long
     Comes the herald angel's song,
     Still do shepherds heed the voice,
     Wise men listen and rejoice;
     While to greet the King of kings
     Earth her noblest offerings brings.
     And the blessed Christ is born
     In each heart on Christmas morn.
       Sing, then, peace, good will for aye,
       Hail the blessed Christmas Day!
       Hail the blessed Christmas Day!

HANS. Gretel, I believe St. Nicholas _will_ come anyway, I just
believe he will. [GRETEL _gives the yarn to her mother_, HANS
_remains sitting on the box._] When we aren't thinking about it he'll
just walk right in--I'll show you how. [_Jumps up and runs out of
the door._] Now, I'm St. Nicholas. [_Comes in again, speaking in a
loud and pompous tone._] How do you do, little Miss Gretel,--how are
you little--no, big Hans! [_Shakes hands with_ GRETEL _and with an
imaginary_ HANS.] Well, Mother Madelon, have these children been very
good indeed?

MOTHER. Yes, good saint, I couldn't ask for two better,
dearer children, or any that I love half so well.

HANS [_in his own voice_]. Oh, Mother, do you truly think so?

GRETEL. Then, Hans, if we've been good children, I 'most
_know_ St. Nicholas will come.

HANS [_dancing to look out of door_]. Oh, he will! He will!
Mother, give me something to do so I won't keep thinking about it.

GRETEL. Oh, Hans, let's have a story!

HANS. Oh, yes, Mother, please tell us a story.

MOTHER. Bring your little stools, then I will tell you a
Christmas story.

GRETEL [_coaxingly_]. Mother, don't you think it is too dark
to spin? Let me sit in your lap.

MOTHER. You funny little fairy! [_Takes her on her lap._ HANS _brings
a stool and sits at his_ MOTHER'S _feet nursing his knee._]

MOTHER. Once upon a time, many, many years ago, it happened
that a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a
great busy town. It was Christmas Eve, and wherever the child looked
he saw shining lights and hurrying happy people. His coat was all too
thin, and his little feet and hands were bare and frostbitten. The
sharp ice on the ground cut his feet as he walked, and the cold wind
tossed his soft hair back from his forehead. But he hardly seemed to
feel the cold, for everywhere he was watching the eager, happy faces
that hastened by. He looked up into a window and saw a beautiful,
wonderful tree, covered with little candles and glittering balls,
and all about the tree were gathered merry, laughing children. It
seemed as if those happy little ones would be glad to have another
little boy amongst them, and the child went quietly up the steps and
tapped at the door. But the tall man who opened it said crossly, "Go
away. I can't let you in here." So the child went sorrowfully down
the steps and wandered on again. As he went along the street many
more houses were full of light and happiness, and wherever he saw the
candle-covered Christmas trees with their cluster of gay child-faces,
he tapped softly at the door, or looked wistfully in at the window.
But everywhere the same answer was given him. "You must go on. We
can't take you in." Some people looked sorry when they said this, but
most of them hardly glanced at him at all before they shut the great
doors to keep out the cold wind. At last he came to the very last
house--a poor little cottage with just one window. But he could see
the light streaming out of it, and wearily made his way to the door.
In this little house was a Mother and two little children----

HANS. Just like us!

MOTHER. And at one side of the room was a cradle----

GRETEL. But we haven't got any baby!

MOTHER. When the little girl heard the soft tapping at the
door she said: "Shall I open it, Mother?" And the mother said, "Yes,
indeed, we mustn't let anyone stay out in the cold on the beautiful
Christmas Eve." So the child opened the door and led in the little,
shivering stranger. The mother took him on her lap and rubbed his
frozen hands, and folded her warm arms about him. And the children
begged him to stay with them always. Then the Mother told them the
wonderful beautiful story of the first Christmas, and how the shining
angels came to the poor shepherds in the field and sang "Glory to God
in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." And how
the shepherds went to find the dear baby in the manger, and the wise
men were led by a glorious star to find Him, too. And while she was
talking to them the room seemed filled with a strange, soft light
that grew lovelier and brighter every moment, until the children,
wondering, turned to their mother to ask what it meant. And then
they saw that the Child was gone. But the mother said: "Children, I
think we have had the real little Christ-Child with us to-night." And
after that men used to say that the Christ-Child sometimes came again
on Christmas Eve to wander from door to door asking for shelter and
love. And sometimes men drive Him away, and He can find no place to
rest. But in some homes He is given a glad and loving welcome.

GRETEL. Oh, Mother, I wish, I _wish_ He would come here, to
us!

HANS [_looking to the window_]. But, Mother, it is all
dark--there is no light in the window for Him! Mother, we've got a
little piece of a candle. Mayn't I put it in the cup that's broken
and light it?

MOTHER. Yes, my little son.

  [HANS _jumps on the box and reaches a bit of
  candle from the mantel. Fastens it in the
  cup and lights it._ GRETEL _watching anxiously.
  Then together they put it in the
  window and sing "The Christ-Candle."_

[Music: THE CHRIST-CANDLE[5]]

[Footnote 5: By permission of the Universalist Publishing House.]

  KATE L. BROWN. ELIZABETH U. EMERSON.

     1. Little taper set to-night,
     Throw afar thy tiny light,
     Up and down the darksome street,
     Guide the tender wand'ring feet
     Of the darling Christ Child sweet.

     2. He is coming through the snow
     As He came so long ago,
     When the stars set o'er the hill,
     When the town is dark and still,
     Comes to do the Father's will.

     3. Little taper, spread thy ray
     Make His pathway light as day,
     Let some door be open wide
     For this guest of Christmas-tide,
     Dearer than all else beside.

     4. Little Christ Child come to me,
     Let my heart Thy shelter be.
     Such a home Thou wilt not scorn,
     So the bells of Christmas morn
     Glad shall ring, "A Christ is born."

     NOTE: The air "Hearts and Flowers" can also be
     used for this song.

GRETEL. Oh, do you think the little Christ-Child can see it
now, Mother?

MOTHER. Yes, my darling. He can. And whether He comes
wandering through the snowy forests or not, He loves to know that
little children think of Him and try to please Him.

HANS. Gretel, I'm going out to see if the light shows
outside. [_Goes out of the door and peers in at the window._
GRETEL _keeps the door open a crack to watch him._]

HANS [_comes in and bends over the fire to warm his hands_].
It sparkles on the snow just the way the moonlight does, and it's
ever so much brighter than the stars. Do you believe it is as bright
as the star of Bethlehem?

GRETEL. Oh no! It couldn't be like that! There was never
another star that shone like _that_.

HANS. Let me put another stick on the fire, Mother. If the
little Christ-Child comes He will be so cold. [_Puts on one or two
sticks._]

GRETEL. Oh, Hans, I'm afraid He will be hungry, too. Let's
toast a piece of our loaf for Him.

HANS. Yes, let me toast it.

GRETEL. And I'll cut it. [_Both clatter to the table, where_ GRETEL
_cuts a piece of bread, and fastening it on a stick gives it to_
HANS, _who seats himself on a stool before the fire._ GRETEL _stands
beside him._ FRIEDEL _appears at the window and leans his face
against it, watching._]

GRETEL. Oh, Hans, be careful, be careful, you're burning it!

HANS. No, I'm not, but I'm toasting my face.

GRETEL. Let me hold it awhile. [_They change places._ HANS _stands
with hands on hips and feet apart watching her. The_ MOTHER _sees_
FRIEDEL _and rises, beckoning to him._ FRIEDEL _leaves the window,
and goes to the door, where he taps softly._]

GRETEL. Oh, Hans! He's come! He's come! [GRETEL
_drops fork and both fly to the door, throwing it wide open, and
standing back. An instant's pause, then_ FRIEDEL _looks from
one to the other and stretches out his hands._]

GRETEL [_shyly taking his hand_]. We--we--we were waiting
for you. Come in.

HANS. We're glad you've come.

GRETEL. Mother. Mother, his hands are like ice. [_Leads him
to the fire._ HANS _shuts the door and comes to watch. The_
MOTHER _comes forward._]

MOTHER. Sit here, little one, and let me warm the poor
cold hands. [_Seats_ FRIEDEL _on a stool close to the
fire, and bending over him chafes his hands._ HANS _and_
GRETEL _draw away, casting furtive glances at him._]

HANS. Do you believe it _is_ the Christ-Child, Gretel?

GRETEL [_slowly_]. I--I don't know.

HANS [_decidedly_]. I do. It _must_ be. We put the candle
there for Him--and then He came. And you made toast for Him--where
_is_ His toast, Gretel?

GRETEL. Oh, Hans! I _dropped_ it when I went to the door!

HANS [_hurries to pick it up_]. Never mind. It didn't hurt
it a bit.

GRETEL [_takes it and brushes it_]. He won't care. Mother's
hearth isn't a bit dusty. [_Both go to_ FRIEDEL.]

GRETEL [_timidly offering him the toast_]. Hans and I
thought you would be hungry, and so we made you some toast.

FRIEDEL. Oh, I am, I am. [_Takes a bite and turns to them._]
I haven't had anything to eat since--since--Oh, I can't remember!
When was it? [_Puts his hand to his head._]

MOTHER [_drawing him gently to lean against her_]. There,
never mind. Eat now.

  [GRETEL _and_ HANS _draw away again._

HANS. Are you _sure_ it is the Christ-Child, Gretel?

GRETEL. I don't know. But I think--I think if it was, His
face would be all shining.

MOTHER. Where is your home, my son? And what is your name?
Why were you wandering all alone this bitter night?

FRIEDEL. I am Friedel. Just Friedel. Not anything else. And
I haven't any home. I wish I had. A home is what I was looking for. I
thought perhaps someone would take me in, and let me work to pay for
keeping me. But nobody wants a boy, somehow, nobody. [_Drops his head
in his hands._]

MOTHER [_stroking his head_]. You shall never say that
again, my son. While we have still our little hut, you shall live
with us, and be an elder brother to my little ones.

HANS. You hear that, Gretel? It isn't the Christ-Child,
after all. [_Rubs his fists in his eyes._]

GRETEL. Oh, but Hans, I believe the Christ-Child would like
this almost as much. I mean He would like our putting the candle in
the window, and making the toast and everything for this poor little
boy, almost as much as if it was really for Him. Because it's His
little boy, you know.

  [_The chimes begin._

HANS. Really and truly?

GRETEL. Yes, I'm _sure_! Perhaps the Christ-Child sent him
to us. Oh, Hans, listen! The chimes are beginning to ring. [_Both run
to the window to listen. After a moment voices in the distance begin
singing "Oh, Happy Night."_]

[Music: OH, HAPPY NIGHT[6]]

[Footnote 6: Courtesy of Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company.]

  Music written for "Wide Awake"

  Words by M.E.B. By LOUIS C. ELSON.

     1. Oh, happy night! that brings the morn
     To dawn above the Lord new-born,
     And bids the angels sing again
     Their message to the sons of men,
         We hail thee! We hail thee!

     2. Oh, happy star! whose radiance sweet
     Did guide the wise men's eager feet,
     To seek the way unknown, untried,
     That led them to the manger's side,
         We hail thee! We hail thee!

     3. Oh, happy manger! that hath known
     This precious burden as thine own,
     Beyond all gifts the world doth hold
     Of pomp and pow'r and gems and gold,
         We hail thee! We hail thee!

     4. Oh, happy day! that gave to men
     The Babe Divine of Bethlehem,
     The King of Kings the undefiled
     In semblance of a little child,
         We hail thee! We hail thee!

     5. Oh, happy Babe! whose wondrous eyes
     Still hold the light of Paradise,
     Look down in blessing from above
     While, Prince of Peace and Lord of Love,
         We hail thee! We hail thee!

     (Sung by a single voice, several joining in at "We hail
     thee!")

GRETEL [_at the end of the first verse_]. Oh, Mother dear,
do you hear the singing?

  [_Another verse is sung._

FRIEDEL [_wonderingly_]. What is it? Angels?

  [_At the end of the song_ FRITZ _and others are
  seen passing the window._ HANS _and_
  GRETEL _rush to their_ MOTHER.

GRETEL. Oh, Mother! He's coming! He's coming!

HANS. Yes, he is! I saw him!

MOTHER [_startled_]. Who is coming, my children?

  [_The door is flung open and the children rush
  in_, ST. NICHOLAS _standing at the door._

HANS _and_ GRETEL. St. Nicholas! St. Nicholas!

ST. NICHOLAS. Yes, old St. Nicholas again. Mother Madelon,
may I come in?

MOTHER. May you come in? Ask the little ones here!

  [HANS _and_ GRETEL _run to draw him in._

FRITZ. You see, Mother Madelon, our Heinrich heard you say
the good saint couldn't find you this year----

BARBARA. So we hurried right home----

HEINRICH. And as soon as he came we told him about you----

FRITZ. And begged him to let us show him the way!

JAN. And of course, he came!

KARL _and_ OSCAR. Yes, of course!

MOTHER. It was very thoughtful of you, little friends.

HANS _and_ GRETEL. Thank you, thank you all so much!

GRETEL. Oh, good saint, we were _so_ afraid you wouldn't
come.

HANS. Mother _said_ you couldn't find us.

ST. NICHOLAS. And I doubt if I could have found you, if
it hadn't been for that little gleaming candle that you put in the
window to light my way.

GRETEL [_holding his hand_]. Oh, but, St. Nicholas, we ought
to tell you that we didn't put the candle there for you.

KATRINA. Why, who was it for?

GRETEL [_softly_]. It was for the Christ-Child. We thought
perhaps He would be out in the snow and cold--and we were so warm and
happy!

ST. NICHOLAS. Let me tell you, little Gretel, though the
Christ-Child did not come, it is just as true that He sent me
to you as it is that I was led here by the clear shining of the
Christ-Candle.


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME AND SETTING

The parts of the Mother and St. Nicholas should be played by adults:
other adult parts taken by young people sixteen to eighteen.

MOTHER MADELON. Plain dark dress, white kerchief, white
peasant's cap.

HANS. (Eight years old.) White shirt, bright-colored vest,
full blue trousers, red stockings. Toboggan cap.

GRETEL. (Six years.) Full white waist, black bodice, red
skirt, or dark skirt and red stockings. White peasant's cap. Both
children may wear wooden shoes.

FRIEDEL. (Boy of nine.) Very ragged coat and trousers. Bare
feet. No hat. (Should be a thin little fellow whose appearance may
give the touch of pathos.)

OLD MARTA. (May be taken by a boy, if preferred.) Poorly
dressed, in old shawl and hood, carrying a bundle of fagots. Face
deeply wrinkled and lined, with an ill-tempered expression.

RICH JOHANN. Velvet coat, flowered vest, full knee-breeches,
shoes with silver buckles. Broad-brimmed felt hat. Silver-headed
cane. Is very pompous.

CROSS JACOB. Rough farm clothes, heavy boots.

WOODCUTTER. Fur cap, warm gloves, high boots. Carries an ax.
Is young, wholesome, rosy with work, and happy.

STAR CHILD. (Child of seven or eight, who can sing.) White
gown, hanging straight from neck to ground, with flowing sleeves.
Carries a gold wand with a star on the end, and wears a star on the
forehead. If taken by a boy, he should wear a short white sleeveless
tunic, white stockings, and sandals.

FRITZ and his sisters and brothers, children from twelve
years down to six, are dressed in ordinary outdoor winter costumes,
with as much as possible of bright color about them.

ST. NICHOLAS differs somewhat from the accepted idea of
Santa Claus, being dignified, benign, and kindly, rather than lively
and jolly. Costume about the same,--long coat, high boots, fur cap,
flowing white beard.

NOTE FOR SNOW SCENE. If not feasible to have a winter
scene for the back drop, cover the back wall with white, and fasten
drooping branches of evergreen at sides, to suggest the limbs of
trees just out of sight. The wings may be treated in the same
way,--or screens, if given in home or schoolroom. Cover the floor
with white, piling with cushions beneath in some places to give an
irregular surface, and to make the bank (R. Center), where Friedel
lies down. Four or five evergreen trees will make an effective
forest, and if quite small, they should be raised to different
heights, and banked about with white. Leave opening between them
(Back Center), in which the Star Child should appear, coming and
going very silently and slowly. Cotton snow upon the little trees and
"diamond-dust" over all, help to make this a very pretty scene.

For chimes, play the music of the carol "Oh, Happy Night" on a
xylophone, behind the scenes.



TOINETTE AND THE ELVES

IN TWO ACTS


CHARACTERS

  MOTHER.
  TOINETTE, girl of twelve or fourteen.
  MARIE, girl of eleven.
  JEANNETTE, little girl of five or six.
  PIERRE }
  MARC   } Boys of ten or eleven.
        The Elves:
            HOLLYBERRY }
            MISTLETOE  }
            EVERGREEN  } Little boys of five or six.
            ICICLE     }

[Illustration: HOLLYBERRY]


TOINETTE AND THE ELVES

From the story by Susan Coolidge, _St. Nicholas_ for January, 1876.


ACT I

TIME: _Christmas Eve._

SCENE: _The kitchen of a peasant cottage. Open fireplace[7]
(R.) with large pot, hung from a crane, or standing directly upon the
logs. On the shelf above, small bowls and spoons. Beside fireplace,
a narrow exit leading to_ TOINETTE'S _room: opposite, door
to other rooms. Outside door, R. Back. L. window. Down stage L. a low
table with small chairs, where the children sit for their supper,
used later by the Elves. Before the fire, a large old-fashioned
wooden rocker._

[Footnote 7: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]


MOTHER _bends over sewing, near window, from time to time
glancing at_ TOINETTE, _who sits dreamily gazing into the
fire._

MOTHER. Toinette! [TOINETTE, _absorbed in thought,
apparently hears nothing._] Toinette! Bless the child, is she asleep?
Toinette!

TOINETTE [_absently_]. Yes, Mother.

MOTHER. Come, Toinette, it is time to brush the hearth and
set the kettle on to boil.

TOINETTE [_without moving_]. Yes'm, in a minute.

MOTHER [_sharply_]. Toinette, the dusk is coming. It is
nearly supper-time, and the candle must be lit. Come, brush the floor
quickly, child.

TOINETTE [_flinging impatiently out of her chair_]. I hate to work!
[_Sweeps slowly and absently, stopping to lean on her broom. Enter_
MARIE _and_ JEANNETTE, _with sewing and book, and sit down on low
chairs._]

MARIE. Toinette, will you show me how to fasten this off?

TOINETTE [_who has been leaning on her broom, begins
suddenly to sweep_]. No, I won't. I'm busy sweeping.

MARIE. Oh, I didn't know you were busy.

TOINETTE. What are your eyes for? Don't you see me sweeping?

MARIE. Well, you were standing still, and I just thought----

TOINETTE [_sweeping furiously_]. You're always "just
thinking" things.

JEANNETTE. I'm hungry, Mother.

MOTHER. Are you, dear?

TOINETTE [_crossly, leaning on her broom_]. She's always
hungry. I never saw such a little pig.

MARIE [_putting her arms indignantly around_
JEANNETTE]. No, she isn't at all. You're very unkind,
Toinette.

MOTHER. Hush, children. Don't quarrel. [_Shakes her head
sadly and looks perplexed._]

  [_Enter_ PIERRE _and_ MARC, _the latter with
  knife and bits of wood._ MARC _sits down
  against the fireplace, whittling._ PIERRE
  _lies at full length before the fire._

JEANNETTE. Will you tell us a story, Toinette?

MARIE [_gently_]. Sh, dear, Toinette's busy, but I wish
she would. She can tell such lovely fairy stories when she likes to.
And this is Christmas Eve, Jeannette. Perhaps the fairies are out,
looking for good children. Fairies are always helping St. Nicholas;
Toinette says so. I wish she would get done sweeping.

JEANNETTE. When you get done, can't you tell just one story,
Toinette?

TOINETTE. Oh, it's so hard to keep thinking up stories
all the time. There now, Marc, you horrid boy, just see how you've
scattered chips all over my clean floor. And, Pierre, your old shoes
are just as dirty as they can be. What's the use of my sweeping,
Mother, when the boys are so careless?

MOTHER. Try to remember to brush your shoes next time,
Pierre. And, Marc, it's better not to bring the whittling into the
house.

TOINETTE. I should think as much.

PIERRE [_getting up_]. I'm sorry I forgot, Mother. Come
along, Marc, we'll go out in the woodshed.

MARC [_giving the chips a brush towards the fireplace with
his cap and then following_ PIERRE]. It's pretty cold in the
woodshed. [_Looking resentfully at_ TOINETTE.] I'd rather be
cold than get scolded all the time. [_Exeunt boys._]

MOTHER [_rises, lights candle, puts saucepan over the
fire_]. Now, Toinette, I have other work to do. Finish brushing
up [TOINETTE _puts down broom_], and set the table. The
porridge is over the fire and will be done soon. If you would put
your mind on it, daughter, and work quickly, you would get done
quickly, and the work would not seem so hard. [_Exit._]

TOINETTE [_seizes a tablecloth and approaches the table_].
Work quickly! Marie, how ever can I set the table with you and
Jeannette in the way, I'd like to know?

MARIE. We'll go in Mother's room, Toinette. [_Takes_
JEANNETTE _by the hand. Exeunt._]

TOINETTE [_covering table and slapping bowls and spoons
pettishly down upon it_]. Work quickly! Don't I work and work all
the time? And I'm never done. The work seems hard because it _is_
hard, that's why. Oh, if we weren't so poor, and didn't have to work
so hard! [_Relaxes her efforts and stands before the fire, dish in
hand._] And if we could have beautiful Christmas presents to-morrow,
instead of just--anything. [_A very gentle knock at the door._]
Oh, what was that? [_Opens._] The boys must be playing tricks on
me. [_Knocks again._] Surely, there is someone there. [_Opens door
and steps outside._ HOLLYBERRY _slips in behind her and
hides behind the door. Re-enter_ TOINETTE.] It must be the
fairies, I think. [_Stands looking out._] This is Christmas Eve and
of course it's the right time for good fairies to be about. How I
wish I could see one!

HOLLYBERRY. Do you, Toinette? Just open your eyes and you
will, then.

TOINETTE [_jumping, rubs her eyes and looks about_]. Where?
Oh, where?

  [HOLLYBERRY _comes from behind the door
  and makes a low bow._

TOINETTE [_clasping her hands with delight_]. Oh, are you
really a fairy?

HOLLYBERRY [_hands on hips_]. Yes, I think I'm a pretty real
sort of a fairy. We elves have heard you talking about us and you
always tell what's true, so we like you.

TOINETTE. Oh, I'm so glad, because I _love_ fairies. The
children do too, and they are always teasing me to tell them fairy
tales.

HOLLYBERRY. I am the leader of the band of elves. My name is
Hollyberry, and I've come with a message to you. I told you the elves
and fairies all like you. So we are going to give you a Christmas
present.

TOINETTE. Oh, oh! how kind you are.

HOLLYBERRY [_arms folded, nodding his head_]. Yes, we are.
Very kind. But people don't always think so. Toinette, how would you
like to be invisible?

TOINETTE. Invisible? Oh, do you mean to go around wherever I
like without being seen? Oh, what fun!

HOLLYBERRY. That's exactly what I mean. _We_ can do it, at
any time, because we know how. But mortals like you can only do it on
Christmas Eve, and then only when we help them.

TOINETTE. Do you mean you are going to show me how?

HOLLYBERRY. That's it. There are two things you must do.
First you must put fern seed in your shoes.

TOINETTE. Fern seed? Why, I didn't even know ferns had
seeds. I never saw any.

HOLLYBERRY. Of course not. The elves take very good care of
that.

TOINETTE. Where shall I get any?

HOLLYBERRY. I'll attend to that. The second thing is to put
on the Cloak of Darkness.

TOINETTE. The Cloak of Darkness! What is that?

HOLLYBERRY. Don't be impatient, Toinette. [_Waves his holly
wand and snaps his fingers above his head. The door opens and the
other elves enter, carrying between them the gray cloak and a tiny
bag._]

ELVES [_kneeling before_ TOINETTE _and presenting
bag and cloak_]. Hail, Toinette!

HOLLYBERRY [_touching the kneeling elves as he names them_].
Evergreen and Mistletoe, present the magic Cloak of Darkness. Icicle,
yield the fairy fern seed. Now, Toinette, put a pinch of fern seed in
each shoe, wrap the cloak around you, and _then_,--well, nobody but
an elf can find you.

MISTLETOE. The charm is only for to-night.

HOLLYBERRY. And if you get tired of it before bedtime----

EVERGREEN. Take off the cloak----

ICICLE. And empty your shoes----

HOLLYBERRY. And, presto! Toinette is herself again. Now,
farewell. [_All bow low and go to door._]

ICICLE. Good-by.

MISTLETOE. We'll take care of the cloak when you're done
with it.

EVERGREEN. We hope you'll like our Christmas present.

  [_Exeunt elves, laughing mischievously._

TOINETTE [_looking after them_]. What cunning little
fellows! Oh, what fun. [_Examines cloak._] I'll put it on right away.
[_Exit (R.)._]

  [_Enter_ MOTHER _(L.), going at once to the fire._

MOTHER. Why, where is Toinette? The porridge is almost
boiling over. Come, children,--Marie, Jeannette, boys. Supper is
ready.

  [_Enter children and take their places at table._
  MOTHER _fills bowls from saucepan while
  they talk._

MOTHER [_calls_]. Toinette, come to supper, daughter.

  [_Enter_ TOINETTE _in cloak. All are unconscious
  of her presence._

MOTHER [_giving bread to children, who eat hungrily_]. Where
can Toinette be? Boys, have you seen her?

MARC. No, Mother, she lets us alone when we keep out of her
way.

MOTHER. For shame, Marc. Pierre, go call her,--she may be in
her room. [PIERRE _crosses the room, almost bumping into_
TOINETTE, _who stands in the way._]

PIERRE [_at door_]. Toinette! Toinette! We're at supper.
[_A moment's silence._ TOINETTE _giggles._] She isn't here,
Mother.

MARIE. I'm sure I heard her laughing.

MOTHER. Listen. [TOINETTE _covers her mouth to
stifle a laugh._ PIERRE _sits down again and eats._]

TOINETTE [_aside_]. This is such fun. But I'm hungry,--how
am I going to get anything to eat? [_Goes close to the table and,
watching her chance, slips_ MARC'S _bread off the table and
eats._]

MARC. Where's my bread? You took it, Pierre.

PIERRE. I did not. Here's my own.

MARIE. You must have dropped it on the floor.

MARC [_looking under chair_]. No, I didn't.

MARIE. Well, you ate it, then.

MARC. I never. [TOINETTE _laughs silently._]

MOTHER. Here's another piece. Never mind where that is gone.
I only wish Toinette had it. [TOINETTE _nearly chokes._] The
child must have gone out. I will go to the gate and look down the
road. [_Exit._]

JEANNETTE. Poor Toinette's all gone.

MARC. Perhaps a bear has eaten her up.

PIERRE. If he has, I mean to ask Mother if I can't have her
room.

MARIE. Marc, don't talk so, you'll frighten Jeannette.

MARC. Well, perhaps it's true.

MARIE. Well, you know you'd be sorry if it was.

PIERRE. I wouldn't be very sorry.

MARIE [_horrified_]. Oh, you bad boy.

PIERRE. Well, of course I don't want her to be _hurt_.

MARC. But we wouldn't care much if she didn't come back.

MARIE. Boys, how can you be so naughty?

PIERRE. But, Marie, Toinette never does a thing but scold us
when she's around.

MARIE. She tells us _beautiful_ fairy stories sometimes.

MARC. That's just it--"sometimes." You don't catch her doing
it unless she wants to.

PIERRE. And she's just a regular old spoil-sport.

MARC. Oh, bother about Toinette. She'll come back a good
deal sooner than we want her. Can't you talk about anything else?

MARIE [_doubtfully_]. Well, it is pleasanter when she isn't
here, I know.

PIERRE. Of course it is.

MARIE. But I hope she's having a good time somewhere else.

  [_Throughout this conversation_ TOINETTE _listens,
  horrified at first, then angry, then
  distressed; at one moment about to exclaim,
  then starting forward to strike one
  of the boys, and at last covering her face
  with her hands and crying. Enter_
  MOTHER.

MOTHER [_anxiously_]. Not a trace can I see of her. Children, have
you eaten your porridge? Marie, take Jeannette to bed. [_Exeunt_
MARIE _and_ JEANNETTE.] Boys, go out and cut some wood for our
Christmas fire. [_Exeunt boys._] There will be no Christmas in this
house unless Toinette comes back soon. [_Sits down in the rocker to
warm herself._] Dear, dear, she is a good girl, and a clever girl,
but she is a sore puzzle to me. What can make her so thoughtless and
careless and full of discontent? Why, even little Marie is a greater
help to me than she is.

  [_Exit_ TOINETTE _in great distress._ MOTHER
  _sits in silence. Enter_ TOINETTE _without
  cloak, throwing herself on her knees at her
  mother's feet._

TOINETTE. Oh, Mother, Mother! [_Buries her face in her
mother's lap._]

MOTHER [_trying to raise her_]. Toinette, my child! Where
have you been all this time?

TOINETTE [_with great excitement, half crying_]. Oh, I've
been here--right here--all the time, only you couldn't see me.

MOTHER. Toinette!

TOINETTE. Yes, Mother, it's all true. I'll tell you. A fairy
came and lent me the Cloak of Darkness--and--and--I thought it would
be such fun, but it was horrid. And then the children--they said such
cruel things. Mother, don't they love me at all?

MOTHER. Mercy, mercy, what is all this about?
Fairies--cloak of darkness--the child must have a fever. [_Feels_
TOINETTE'S _forehead and takes her hand as if to count her
pulse._]

TOINETTE. No, no! I'm not sick at all. But, Mother, don't
you love me?

MOTHER [_puts her arm about_ TOINETTE]. Love you,
my child? Mother _always_ loves you.

TOINETTE. But you said I didn't help you. Oh, I wish the
fairy had never given me the cloak.

MOTHER. Fairies again! [_Anxiously._] I must put the child
to bed at once. Stay by the fire, Toinette. I will get your bed
ready. [_Rises, leaving_ TOINETTE _seated on the floor by
chair. Exit_ MOTHER.]

TOINETTE [_slowly_]. Mother thinks I dreamed it--or that
I'm sick. But I'm not. It's all true, it's all true. [_Covers her
face with her hands._] How could the children be so unkind?...
But perhaps I'm not always kind to the children. The boys are so
provoking--but then I needn't scold them even if they are. And Marie
must care a little, for she hoped I was happy somewhere. Happy! How
can I be happy? [_Gazes at the fire._] Perhaps if I began now, and
tried and tried every day, I could be kinder--to the children--and
then they would love me more--and I could try to help Mother--and
then she needn't be so tired all the time---- And surely, then I
would be happy. [_Brightly, facing audience, hands clasped on one
knee._] Yes, that's just what I'll do. And now, perhaps I can help
Mother this very minute---- I'll take the candle up to her. [_Jumps
up, takes candle from table, pauses in center of the stage._] It is
Christmas--I do think that if I begin to-morrow to try to be kind, I
will surely succeed. Because Christmas is the very best and happiest
day in all the whole year. It was on Christmas Day the angels first
sang about Peace on earth, good will to men.


CURTAIN


ACT II

TIME: _One year later. Christmas Eve._

SCENE: _Curtain rises showing_ TOINETTE _and_
MARIE _seated, sewing_; JEANNETTE _sits upon the
floor, leaning against_ TOINETTE'S _knee_; MARC
_leans over the back of her chair_; PIERRE _sits in the big
chair rocking and looking on. All are singing a Christmas carol.
Enter_ MOTHER, _pausing a moment in doorway to watch and
smile at the group._


MOTHER. Come, chickabiddies, it is time to stop work.

MARIE [_going to_ MOTHER]. Oh, Mother, must we stop
now? Toinette was just going to tell us the Christmas story about the
Shepherds and the Star in the East.

MOTHER. It is supper-time now, and Toinette must set the
table. [_Exit._]

PIERRE. And after supper comes bedtime. Oh, dear.

TOINETTE [_cheerfully folding her work_]. Never mind,
Pierre, I'll tell it to you to-morrow.

MARC. That'll be Christmas day, Toinette. I wish you could
tell it on Christmas Eve.

TOINETTE. Oh, I think I can tell it better on Christmas day,
Marc. Now we all have something to do,--let's get to work. Who will
fetch water for me to-night?

MARC _and_ PIERRE [_springing for the pitcher_]. I
will, I will.

MARC. It's my turn, Pierre.

PIERRE. No, you nearly always get water for Toinette. I'm
going to.

TOINETTE. Let Pierre get the water, Marc, and you go and cut
the wood.

MARC _and_ PIERRE. All right, Toinette. [_Exeunt._]

MARIE. What can we do for you, Toinette, dear?

TOINETTE. Nothing just now, I think. [TOINETTE _is
spreading the cloth and setting the bowls and spoons._]

JEANNETTE. But _we_ want to help, too, dear Toinette.
[_Clings to her skirt._]

TOINETTE. I'll tell you what. I'd rather send my two little
helpers in to see what they can do for poor busy Mother. She needs
them more than I do. [_Exit_ JEANNETTE.]

MARIE [_following_]. Won't that be helping you too, Toinette?

TOINETTE. Yes, dear. [_Exit_ MARIE.] How good the
children are to-night! I do think they are the best brothers and
sisters a girl ever had. [_Lighting the candle._] And I think they
love me more than they ever used to. Oh, I'm so glad! [_Tap at the
door._] There is someone knocking. [_Goes to the door._]

HOLLYBERRY [_bowing low_]. How do you do, Toinette? A Merry
Christmas to you.

TOINETTE. Oh, how wonderful. It's Hollyberry again, and I
was just thinking about you. Won't you come in?

HOLLYBERRY. Just for a moment. [_Enter_ HOLLYBERRY.
TOINETTE _closes the door._] I've brought you a Christmas
present, Toinette. [_Holds out cloak and fern-seed bag._]

TOINETTE [_retreating, hands behind her_]. Oh, no, no, no!
I know what those are, and I don't want them. Oh! Hollyberry, they
made me so unhappy last year.

HOLLYBERRY. You didn't like the elves' gift, then?

TOINETTE. Oh, it was horrid--I _hated_ it.

HOLLYBERRY [_severely_]. Do you call that being grateful?

TOINETTE [_confused_]. Oh, no--I mean, yes--that is, it was
very kind of you--but I didn't like it. Oh, dear!

HOLLYBERRY [_kindly_]. Never mind, Toinette, I'm only
teasing you now. And I advise you to take the fern seed. You will
like it better this year, I'm sure.

TOINETTE [_anxiously_]. Truly?

HOLLYBERRY. Truly. [TOINETTE _takes bag and
cloak._] And if you like it we are going to ask a favor of you. We
want you to make us some fern-seed broth.

TOINETTE. Fern-seed broth?

HOLLYBERRY. Yes, elves are very fond of it, but they don't
get any very often, because it has to be made over a fire, and you
see we're afraid of fire. We're so little and light, we might be
blown in and burned up.

TOINETTE. But how shall I make it?

HOLLYBERRY. It's very easy. We'll show you how. And now,
good-by. We'll come in by and by when the children are in bed. [_Exit
with a bow._]

TOINETTE [_looking gravely at cloak and bag_]. Oh, do I dare
use them? I have tried to be kinder--I know the children love me
more---- Yes, I will. [_Runs out. Boys singing carol in the distance.
Enter boys singing, with pitcher and wood. Enter_ MOTHER,
MARIE, _and_ JEANNETTE.]

MOTHER. Why, the supper is all ready, but where is that busy
bee of ours, Toinette? [_Goes to door as if to call._]

PIERRE [_catches her arm_]. Oh, Mother, wait a moment; don't
call her yet! You know we've made her some Christmas gifts, and we
want to put them on her plate and surprise her.

MOTHER. Run and get them.

MARC [_under his breath_]. Hurry, quick, everybody.

  [_Exit children in haste._ MOTHER _takes saucepan
  from fire and fills bowls. Enter children
  singing carol, each bearing a homemade
  gift. They place the presents about_
  TOINETTE'S _place, and all take their places
  at the table, sitting with folded hands until
  hymn is ended. During the singing_ TOINETTE
  _enters, dressed in cloak, and stands
  near door (R.), her hands clasped in
  pleasure at the sight._

MARC [_looking towards the door_]. Oh, I wish Toinette would
hurry.

MARIE. Won't she be surprised?

PIERRE. And won't she _look_ jolly surprised, too? I love to
see Toinette when she's surprised. Her eyes get so big and shiny, and
she just stares.

MARC. Andrew, the blacksmith's son, thinks his sister is
prettier than our Toinette, but _I_ don't.

PIERRE [_in great scorn_]. Aw! I should think not. Our
Toinette is just the prettiest girl in the village.

MARIE. And the very nicest, too!

MOTHER [_smiling_]. And Toinette is Mother's right hand. We
all love Toinette! Don't we?

TOINETTE [_softly_]. Oh, the dear little things! I can't
wait a minute longer. [_Exit quickly._]

CHILDREN [_calling_]. Toinette! Toinette! [_Enter_
TOINETTE _without cloak. Shows great surprise._]

CHILDREN. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Toinette!

TOINETTE. Oh, oh! what do I see? [_Sits down in her place._]
Oh, did you make these lovely things, children?

PIERRE. Yes, mademoiselle, we did!

MARC. Every one of them.

MARIE. Nobody helped us.

JEANNETTE. All for you, Toinette, all for you! [_Leaves her
chair and throws her arms around_ TOINETTE.]

TOINETTE [_kissing her_]. Oh, thank you, thank you! How
_beautifully_ these are made. [_Looks them over one at a time._] How
good everyone is. I'm so happy I don't know what to do.

PIERRE. And to-morrow's Christmas! Hurrah!

MOTHER. Yes, dear, but if you don't go to bed and to sleep,
Christmas won't come. [_Takes_ JEANNETTE _by the hand._] We
will leave you to finish, Toinette.

CHILDREN. Good-night, Toinette!

TOINETTE. Good-night, everyone! [MARIE _and_
JEANNETTE _throw their arms about_ TOINETTE.]

MARIE. Good-night again, dear Toinette! [_Exeunt all but_
TOINETTE, _who clears the table, shakes off crumbs, and sets
fresh bowls and spoons. The children are heard singing carol. When
all is ready and the song is done_, TOINETTE _goes to outer
door and looks out. After a moment the elves rush in._]

ELVES. Here we are, Toinette, here we are!

HOLLYBERRY. Now let's proceed to business. Where is the
saucepan, Toinette! Icicle, give me the honey-dew; Mistletoe, you
have the fern seed.

  [TOINETTE _produces the saucepan and the
  elves crowd around her and hand her the
  articles named. The honey-dew is supposed
  to be in a jar--or pitcher--or anything
  curious or unusual in appearance;
  the fern seed in a quaint box._

HOLLYBERRY. Now, Evergreen, give me the holly stick she must
stir it with.

  [TOINETTE _puts it on the fire, the elves watching
  with great interest._

HOLLYBERRY. It's very simple, but it must be made with great
care.

MISTLETOE. You must always stir it the same way!

EVERGREEN. Or else it will curdle.

ICICLE. And you must _never_ let it scorch!

  [TOINETTE _bends over fire, stirring broth. A
  very gay waltz in very quick time is played
  softly outside, and the four elves dance and
  tumble about, coming up one at a time to
  peep over_ TOINETTE'S _shoulder. They
  show great fear of the fire, however._

TOINETTE. Now, little Elves, the feast is ready!

ELVES. Oh, joy! Oh, joy! [_All seat themselves at table_,
TOINETTE _pours out broth, and they eat. Music continues_,
TOINETTE _refills bowls, and elves drink from them, tipping
their heads far back and making grotesque motions. Music grows
fainter. Elves rise and bow to_ TOINETTE.]

ELVES. Thank you, Toinette! Thank you!

EVERGREEN. We've had a merry feast.

MISTLETOE. And fairies are never ungrateful.

ICICLE. When you need us, you'll find us ready.

  [EVERGREEN, MISTLETOE, _and_ ICICLE _go outside
  and stand about door._ HOLLYBERRY
  _remains within._

TOINETTE. But I haven't thanked you at all!

HOLLYBERRY. No need of that, Toinette. [_He brushes
door-post with his holly wand._] Be lucky, house! We are the
luck-bringers, and we have feasted here! [_Touches_ TOINETTE
_on the head and hands._] Be lucky, Toinette! Good temper, and
kindness, and unselfishness are the very best good luck, after all.
Now, good-by!

ELVES. Good-by, good-by! Merry Christmas to all!

  [_Exeunt._ TOINETTE _closes the door and goes
  slowly to hearth, where she sits down on
  floor, resting her arm on a chair and her
  head on her hand._

TOINETTE [_softly_]. The fairies have been here, and they
have taught me a lesson.... After all, it isn't the fairies who make
the children love me, or me love the children.... I think--yes, I'm
sure--that it is Christmas that makes us all love each other!

  [_Her head drops, and she falls asleep. The
  children's voices are heard, singing, very
  softly and distinctly, the last verse of the
  carol_:

     "Thank God on Christmas morning!
     Thank God, O children dear."


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME AND SETTING

The children are dressed in peasant costumes, the girls in bright
skirts and stockings, white guimpes, black velvet bodices, and
Normandy caps; the boys in full trousers, bright stockings, vests of
green or blue, fastening in the back, white shirts with full sleeves,
and toboggan caps. Toinette wears shoes with buckles; the others may
wear the same, or sabots.

MOTHER. Plain dark dress, with full skirt; kerchief on her
shoulders, and a white cap.

The magic "Cloak of Darkness" brought by the Elves for Toinette, is a
long cape, with hood attached, made of light gray canton flannel.

The Fern-seed Bag may be made of a bit of the same material, or of
the colors of Hollyberry's costume.

The Elves wear harlequin costumes in two shades of the same color,
with tall pointed hoods, and long shoes with toes turned up. Gilt
bells on all points of collar, jacket, and hood. See illustration.
Sateen is perhaps the best material for these little suits, as it
comes in a great variety of rich shades, but cheaper goods may be
found.

HOLLYBERRY. Dark red and scarlet. He carries a holly branch
in lieu of a wand.

MISTLETOE. Brown and yellow. In Act II he carries an odd box
supposed to be full of fern seed.

EVERGREEN. Dark and light green. In Act II he produces the
holly stick for stirring the broth.

ICICLE. Dark and light blue. In Act II he carries a small
jar or pitcher,--something curious or unusual in appearance,--which
is supposed to contain the honey-dew.

Instead of the gilt bells, the points of these suits may be trimmed
with bits of holly, mistletoe, evergreen, and glass icicles, as
indicated by the names.

In setting the stage, it is effective to make small windows, with
diamond-shaped panes, and white sash-curtains, placing small pots of
scarlet geraniums on the sills.

The song is "Good News on Christmas Morning," from _St. Nicholas
Songs_ (Century Company).

Where music is indicated through the play, any part of the carol is
sung, except the last verse, which is used only once, just before the
last curtain. For the Elves' dance, the Pizzicato from the ballet
"Sylvia" by Delibes, Dvorak's "Humoresque," or a waltz, very lightly
played, may be used.



TOM'S PLAN

IN TWO ACTS


CHARACTERS

  FATHER WRIGHT.
  MOTHER WRIGHT.
  PHIL         }
  DAISY        }
  CHARLIE      } The little Wrights.
  TOM          }
  DOT          }
  SARAH, the nurse.
  SANTA CLAUS.


TOM'S PLAN


ACT I

TIME: _Christmas Eve._

SCENE: _Nursery or sitting-room, children sitting about,
each working upon a Christmas gift. Nurse at one side with her
work-basket. All singing a Christmas carol._[8]

[Footnote 8: See note on Carols, p. 315.]


DAISY. I just can't believe that to-morrow really will be
Christmas!... What do you think of that for a book-mark? [_Holds it
up._] Don't you suppose Papa will be pleased?

PHIL [_driving a last nail into a bootjack_]. Papa says he
can't get his new boots off. If he can't do it now, with this, I'm
sure he never will be able to. Isn't that fine?

SARAH. Sure, Master Phil, he'll be wantin' a new house to
kape that big thing in!

DAISY. Now, Sarah, you mustn't say that! You know Papa
always likes the things we make for him.

DOT [_crossing to_ SARAH]. Sarah, please fasten my
thread.... Now, my spectacle-wiper is done. Oh, boys, don't you wish
it was to-morrow morning!

TOM. You bet! I'm going to do Papa's knife up in a great big
bundle, so he'll think it's a pair of slippers or a book, anyway, and
see how surprised he'll be.

CHARLIE [_clapping his hands_]. What fun! Say, Tom, don't
you wish we could _see_ Santa Claus?

PHIL. Let's try and stay awake all night.

DOT. No! you bad boys! Santa Claus doesn't like to have
children see him when he comes to put things in the stockings.

DAISY. No, of course he doesn't. And, besides, Mamma has a
better way. She told me to ask you all whether you would rather hang
your stockings this year, or get Santa Claus to come and bring us a
tree.

CHARLIE. Oh, jolly! But how is Santa Claus going to know in
time?

PHIL. That's what I'd like to know.

DAISY. I asked Papa that, and he said, Oh, he guessed he
could telegraph.

TOM. Then do let's have him come here!

CHILDREN. Oh, yes, let's!

DOT. I want to thank him for my dolly's bed that he brought
last year.

DAISY. Well, I'll go tell Mamma. [_Exit._]

SARAH. Ye'd all better come down and wrap up yer things now.

PHIL. All right. Come along. [_Exeunt all but_ TOM.]

TOM. I'll be along in a minute. [_Looks up chimney._] I'm
so glad Santa Claus is coming this year. [_Crosses to front of stage
and sits astride a small chair with its back to audience._] There are
so many things I want to know about him. I'm just going to count.
[_Checks off on his fingers._] First, I want to know where he lives.
Daisy says he lives at the North Pole, and she's got a picture of
his house, with icicles and snow all over it. But then he always
brings us oranges and bananas and nuts and figs, and I know _they_
don't grow at the North Pole. I wish I could find out. Next, what he
feeds the reindeer on. Next, how he ever gets all the things into
the sleigh. How fast the reindeer can go. And whether they ever get
balky. He'd be late all the time if they did. Horses do, but perhaps
reindeer are different. But the one thing I'd rather know than all
the others put together, is just this: Sarah _said_, the other day
when I took a bite out of one of her hot pies, that Santa Claus
[_very slowly and impressively_] would put a whip in my stocking!
Now I wonder if he would do that? [_Thinks awhile, then shakes his
head._] No, no! I don't believe he would. He's always smiling in his
pictures, and he looks so jolly. And then, if anybody wanted to spend
all his time giving presents, like Santa Claus, I don't believe he
would ever put ashes or whips in anybody's stocking, just because
he forgot the pie was for company.... Oh, dear! I wish I did know.
[_Jumps up suddenly, puts one knee on the chair, and holds on to the
back with both hands._] Oh! Oh! I've got such a splendid plan! It'll
be easy enough to find out, after all. I don't really want anything
for Christmas this year ... 'cept maybe a sled, and ... well, I guess
Phil will let me coast on his sled. Now, I'm going to be just as
cross, _as cross as a bear_, to-night and _see_ if Santa Claus will
give me a whip. I don't care--I know he won't! Anyway, Mamma never
lets anybody whip me--only Papa--and if Santa Claus wants me whipped
he'll have to give the whip to Papa. There! I hear somebody coming.
I'm just going to begin right off.

CHARLIE [_calling, without_]. Tom, Tom! Aren't you coming to
wrap up your things?

TOM [_very crossly_]. No!

CHARLIE [_much surprised_]. _Why_ not?

TOM. Don't want to. [_Chuckles._] He sounded rather
surprised. I guess they won't know what to make of it. It'll be such
fun! [_Sits astride chair again._] Here comes somebody else. I won't
look around. [_Puts his head down on his arms. Enter_ DOT.]

DOT. Tom!

TOM. What do you want?

DOT [_timidly_]. What's the matter, Tom?

TOM. Ain't nothing the matter.

DOT [_aside_]. Oh, dear! Tom, do you want me to wrap up the
knife for you?

TOM. Can if you want to. Here. [_Takes it from his pocket
and hands it to her without looking up._]

DOT [_aside_]. What can be the matter? We can't any of us be
happy if Tom isn't. [_Exit, putting her handkerchief to her eyes._]

TOM [_looking after her_]. 'Tisn't so much fun as I thought.
[_Puts his head down. Enter_ SARAH.]

SARAH [_hands on hips, looking at_ TOM]. Well, what
'ud be the trouble here? [_Goes about, putting things to rights.
Dusts chair, giving_ TOM _a brush._]

TOM [_hits out at her_]. Go 'way!

SARAH. Oh, is that yerself?

TOM. Yes, it's meself.

SARAH. Well, what's the matter wid yerself?

TOM. Never you mind what! [_The other children run in._]

DAISY. Oh, Sarah, Sarah, give us our coats, quick! Papa says
he'll take us along Fourth Street, to see the shop windows lighted up!

CHARLIE. Do hurry, Sarah!

DAISY. I can't find my mittens!

DOT [_softly, nudging_ PHIL]. Phil, tell Tom to
come.

PHIL. Come along, Tom, and be quick!

TOM. Won't.

PHIL. You _won't_?

CHARLIE. Why not?

TOM. Don't want to.

CHARLIE. Well, then, don't! Come on, Dot! [_Takes her by the arm, and
leads her out._ PHIL _and_ DAISY _look at_ TOM.]

DAISY. Please come, Tom.

TOM. I tell you I won't.

DAISY. We'll have such fun.

TOM. Well, you can have it for all me.

PHIL. See here, Tom, don't be a donkey! Come along! [_Takes
him by the arm._]

TOM [_shakes him off_]. Get out!

DAISY. Well, I suppose we'll have to go without him. Papa is
waiting. [_They start._] Phil, what is the matter with Tom?

PHIL. I don't know. Dot said he was cross----

  [_Exeunt._

SARAH. Ye'd betther remember what I was a-tellin' ye, Master
Tom. Ye gettin' ready for the stick?

TOM. You be still and clear out, Sarah!

SARAH. Oh, I'm a-goin'--I'm a-goin'! Shall I tell Santa
Claus to make it out of rattan, Master Tom?

TOM. Go on out, I say! [_Chases her out._] Well, it's some fun to
be cross to Sarah, but I really don't like to be cross to Dot and
the others. Oh, dear! I wish I didn't have to. [_Sees_ SARAH'S
_dust-cloth, which he rolls into a wad and tucks into a cap lying on
one of the chairs._] He-he! that'll fix her. Now she can't find it.
[_Enter_ SARAH. TOM _sits down by the fire, holding his knee._] What
do you want?

SARAH. Oh, my clearin'-up's not done yet! I declare, if I've redd
up this room once, I've done it forty times this day. [_Straightens
things, then looks for her duster._ TOM _watches slyly._] Did I take
that cloth downstairs wid me? Sure, I know I didn't. Where did I put
it, then? 'Tain't here annywheres. Maybe that little squirrel hid it.
Seen my duster, Tom?

TOM. No, I don't see your duster.

SARAH. Did I ax ye if ye saw it now? I said, have ye sane it?

TOM. And I said I didn't see it.

SARAH. Well, ye little fox, I know yer tricks, and I'll find
it yet. Them as hides, finds, but sometimes other folks can find,
too, when they know who did the hiding. Ah! what did I tell ye! I've
got it at last. I knew ye put it somewheres. Now I can get my work
done.

TOM. Well, don't you bother me.

SARAH [_stands with hands on hips, looking at_ TOM,
_who scowls at her_]. If I were you, I wouldn't scowl like that,
Master Tom; yer furhead might stay that way.

TOM. If I were you, I wouldn't either.

SARAH. Ye don't look a bit pretty, Master Tom.

TOM. You don't have to look at me.

SARAH. See, this is what ye look like. [_Makes a face and
hunches up her shoulders._ TOM _refuses to look._] Do ye
think that's rale handsome? [_Aside._] Well, since I can't t'ase ye
into a good humor, I'll go on down.

  [_Exit._

TOM. I did want to laugh at her awfully. If she comes in
again, I think I'll just have to.

  [_Enter_ DAISY _and_ PHIL.

DAISY. We didn't go far, because it was so late. Phil,
did you ever see anything so perfectly grand as that last window?
[_Taking off things._]

PHIL. Never! Don't I wish I had that air-rifle!

DAISY. I'd rather have the doll's piano than anything else.

  [_Enter_ SARAH _with_ DOT _and_ CHARLIE.
  SARAH _takes children's coats, etc._

SARAH. Here, give me yer coats. Now just sit down and get
warm for a minute, and then ye've got to go to bed. Yer Ma said so.

DAISY. Let's sing while we're here. We don't know our new
carol very well. [_All begin to sing a carol._ TOM _claps,
stamps, whistles, and bangs his chair up and down, to put them out.
They stop._]

CHARLIE. See here, Tom, if you don't want to sing, you don't
have to, but you shan't stop us!

SARAH. No, sir! That ye shall not. Ye can't stay here makin'
disturbances, so just be off with ye to bed. [_Pushes him out.
Children sing a carol, and curtain falls during last verse._]


CURTAIN


ACT II

TIME: _Christmas morning._

SCENE: _Sitting-room with open fire [back Center] in
fireplace through which_ SANTA CLAUS _may enter._
FATHER _and_ MOTHER _sitting by fire_,
FATHER _with paper_, MOTHER _sewing._ PHIL
_and_ CHARLIE _in one corner [R. Front], reading together._
DAISY _and_ DOT _[L. Front] with dolls._


DAISY. And I caught Mamma! I hid behind the door, and jumped
out and shouted "Merry Christmas!" before she saw me at all.

DOT [_leaning towards_ DAISY]. Daisy, let's say it
to Santa Claus.

DAISY. Oh, do you suppose he would like it?

DOT. Why not?

DAISY. Yes, I guess he would. Dear Santa Claus, nobody ever
thinks of saying "Merry Christmas" to him.

DOT. Poor man! Well, Daisy, his little boys and girls might
say it to him.

DAISY. Oh, Dot! He hasn't any little boys and girls to say
it. Don't you know he's an old man, oh, hundreds of years old? And if
he ever did have any little boys and girls, they're all grown up by
this time.

DOT. Maybe he's got some grandchildren.

DAISY. No, I don't believe he has, for then why do they let
him do all the work? Nobody ever fills stockings but Santa Claus.

DOT. Poor Santa Claus! He must get very tired.

DAISY. I wonder ... I wonder who keeps house for Santa Claus?

DOT. Maybe nobody does.

DAISY. Oh, yes! He must have somebody to make his fires, and
cook his meals, and darn his socks.

DOT. Why, he doesn't wear socks. Don't you know, he's all
dressed in fur in the pictures. But perhaps fur wears out and has to
be mended. I'd like to help her do it.

DAISY. Perhaps she's a real cross, ugly woman, and scolds
him when he stays out too long filling stockings, and doesn't give
him enough sugar in his tea, and never lets him have but one cup!

DOT [_shaking her head_]. Poor Santa Claus! Aren't you sorry
for him, Daisy? I am. [DAISY _nods._] Daisy, if he hasn't
any little children, I don't suppose anybody ever gives him any
Christmas presents?

DAISY [_pityingly_]. No, I don't suppose anyone ever does.

DOT [_excitedly_]. Oh, Daisy, let's _us_ give him a present
this year!

DAISY. Oh, how splendid! Of course we will. But what do you
think he would like?

DOT. Let's think. He travels all the time. Perhaps he would
like a comb and brush case.

DAISY. Dot! You don't suppose he can ever comb out all that
hair! It's a great deal too thick and snarly. He doesn't use a comb
and brush.

DOT. Well, I'll give him my new purse.

DAISY. Santa Claus doesn't need a pocketbook to carry
money--he doesn't buy things.

DOT. But he might come to a toll-gate on the road, sometime.

DAISY. All right. And I'll give him my silk muffler, for I'm
afraid his housekeeper doesn't give him enough warm clothes. Come,
let's get them. [_Exeunt._]

CHARLIE. What's this picture about, Phil?

PHIL. That's where Santa Claus is coming down our chimney.

CHARLIE. I wonder why he likes to come down chimneys? I'd
have a latchkey, and come in at the front door.

PHIL. Everybody doesn't have a front door just like ours,
Charlie. His key wouldn't fit all the doors.

CHARLIE. But I'd have a magic key, that did. When Papa
shaves, and puts that white stuff all over his face, he looks just
like Santa Claus, but he wouldn't look like him long if he put his
head up the chimney. Santa Claus must get very dirty,--perhaps he
looks like the chimney-sweep.

PHIL. Oh, no, he doesn't. You'll see how he looks pretty
soon. Come along, let's try our new sleds.

  [_Exeunt._

MOTHER. My dear, I want to speak to you. [FATHER
_drops paper._] Sarah tells me that Tom has been very naughty and
cross. He wouldn't do as she told him, and was disagreeable to the
other children.

FATHER. Tom! Why, he's the best-tempered chicken I've got.

MOTHER. I believe you think so just because he's named after
you. But he is really dreadfully provoking sometimes, and I don't
know what to do with him now.

FATHER. Oh, ho! You've given up in despair, and want to fall
back on me?

MOTHER. Not at all. But I'd like your advice. Would you pay
no attention to it, or would you take him to task for his naughtiness?

FATHER. Mary, I always told you you couldn't manage the
boys. You are too gentle and yielding. You are never strict enough.
You ought to be firm, my dear!

MOTHER. Firm like yourself? Oh, Tom, who was it that
wouldn't punish the boys when they played truant, and pretended to
know nothing about it when they went in swimming unbeknownst?

FATHER. Oh, well, Mary, you couldn't expect me to be hard on
them for the very things I did myself!

MOTHER. I knew I couldn't, so I attended to them myself.
But I'll just send Tom in here, and let you try your luck with him.
[_Exit._]

FATHER. Try my luck, indeed! I flatter myself that I'll soon
bring him around. [_Stands before fire. Enter_ TOM, _very
slowly, hands in pockets._] Good-morning, Tom. [_Very pleasantly._]

TOM [_mutters_]. Morning.

FATHER. That is no way to speak, my son. Good-morning, Tom.

TOM [_a little louder_]. Morning.

FATHER. See here, Tom, we can't have this. Your mother says
you haven't been very good.

TOM. Don't care.

FATHER. Thomas, that is not a respectful way to speak to
your father. What do you mean by it, sir? [_No answer._] Do you mean
to tell me? [TOM _is silent, and stands looking down and
kicking the leg of a chair._] Go upstairs and stay there until I send
for you. [_Exit_ TOM.] This is most extraordinary! What can
have got into the child?

  [_Enter_ MOTHER.

FATHER. Ah, here's Mary again.

MOTHER. Well, what did you say?

FATHER. I--a--I scolded him.

MOTHER. What did he say?

FATHER. He said--well--in fact, he didn't say anything.

MOTHER. Wouldn't, you mean. Did you punish him?

FATHER. Punish him? No, I didn't punish him. Come, now,
Mary, you don't mean to say you want me to punish him on Christmas
morning? I really couldn't do that.

MOTHER. Oh, no, I don't want you to punish him.

FATHER. Well, my dear, on the whole, I think perhaps _you'd_
better talk to him. I'll send him down.

  [_Exit._

MOTHER. I didn't think Tom could do much with that boy when
he was contrary. [_Enter_ TOM.] Well, Tom, dear, don't you
want to come and sit with Mamma a little while?

TOM [_rather doubtfully_]. Ye-es.

MOTHER. Here is your little chair all ready. [TOM
_sits down with his elbows on his knees, and his chin in his hands._]
Sarah has told me something that makes me sorry. She said that you
were naughty last night? Is that so?

TOM [_reluctantly_]. Yes, I was cross.

MOTHER. She said you were cross again this morning.

TOM. Yes, I was naughty this morning, too.

MOTHER. Oh-h-h, Tommy! I'm so sorry to have my little boy so
naughty on Christmas Day. Don't you think that when people want to be
happy and glad, everyone ought to be good and pleasant, too?

TOM [_the words drawn out against his will_]. Yes, I think
so.

MOTHER. And then there is the beautiful story of that
wonderful first Christmas. Don't you think people were very happy on
that Day? And you know we always think of that on Christmas, now.

TOM. Oh, yes, I do too.

MOTHER [_reproachfully_]. Then, Tom, how _could_ you be so
naughty?

TOM. Well, Mamma, do you think it's so _dread_fully naughty
to be cross?

MOTHER. It is not so naughty as some things you might do,
but it is making other people unhappy, and don't you think that is
pretty bad?

TOM. Well, Mamma, if a fellow didn't _feel_ cross at all,
but had a very good reason for _being_ cross, would that be naughty?

MOTHER. I don't think there can be any good reason for being
cross.

TOM. I do.

MOTHER. What is it?

TOM. It's a secret. It's a _very_ good reason. I'm sorry
it's naughty. I didn't think it was. But _I'm not sorry I did it_.

MOTHER. Oh, Tommy, it makes me feel badly to hear you talk
so. I'll leave you here, and let you think it over. Perhaps you'll
feel pleasanter after awhile. You can call me when you do.

TOM [_leaving his little chair for a big one_]. I'm sorry
they all think I'm so bad, and I'm really very tired of being cross,
but I _must_ find out about Santa Claus, for if he's the kind of man
that would bring anybody ashes or whips on Christmas, I don't believe
I'll like him at all! [_Jingling of bells in chimney._] What's that?
[_Louder bells._] I do believe he's coming now! [_Jumps up._] Oh,
dear! where are the others? I wish they would come! I--I--I guess I'm
just a _little bit_ afraid! [_Gets behind his chair. Enter_ SANTA
CLAUS _through the fireplace._]

SANTA CLAUS. That's a fine wide chimney! [_Stoops to look up
it._] Why doesn't everybody keep a chimney like that for my special
use? [_Comes front._] I'm sure when I only come once a year, I ought
to have some attention paid to my wants!

TOM [_faintly_]. Santa Claus!

SANTA CLAUS. Hello! What's this? Where are you, anyway?
[_Looks about, then over chair, and sees_ TOM.] What! Hiding
from me? Come out at once, and tell me what's the matter with you.

TOM [_coming out_]. Santa Claus, have you got the whip and
ashes?

SANTA CLAUS. Whip and ashes! Bless me, what's the boy
talking about? Whip? I left my sleigh whip on the roof, if that's
what you mean, and I never carry _ashes_ around with me. What are you
driving at? Hey?

TOM. Sarah said you gave whips to bad boys, and I've been
very naughty--oh, dreadfully naughty!

SANTA CLAUS. Naughty? Dear, dear! I'm sorry to hear that!
And on Christmas, too! What a pity! When you knew I was coming? Dear,
dear, dear!

TOM. _Have_ you got the whip, then?

SANTA CLAUS. No, no! I never give anybody whips--excepting
toy ones, with a whistle in the end, like this---- [_gives_
TOM _one_] ----and Sarah was just teasing you. I'll have
to see Sarah about that. I won't have anybody telling stories about
me. But, dear, dear, it makes me unhappy to think you could be so
naughty. Why did you do it?

TOM [_looks around cautiously_]. Don't tell anybody, Santa
Claus, but I was naughty on purpose, just to see if you would give me
a whip.

SANTA CLAUS. Well, that's a joke! Don't you know enough to
see that you ought to have waited to ask me, instead of running such
a risk?

TOM [_remorsefully_]. Sure enough! I could have done that!
And now I've gone and made them all feel sorry, just for nothing.

  [_Enter_ FATHER _and_ MOTHER.

FATHER. Well, well, here's Santa Claus! I haven't seen you
for a long time. How do you do, sir, how do you do? [_They shake
hands._]

MOTHER [_at door_]. Children! Children! Come here!

  [_Enter children._

CHILDREN. Oh, Santa Claus! Santa Claus!

DAISY _and_ DOT. Merry Christmas, Santa Claus!

DAISY. We've got some presents for you, Santa Claus. Dot and
I thought nobody would remember to give you anything, so we wanted
to. [_Giving presents._]

SANTA CLAUS. Well, really, my dears, these are very nice.
Bless your little hearts, nobody has remembered me for some time,
and that's a fact! Mr. Wright, how have these children been behaving
themselves? Can I give them the nice things I have brought for them?

FATHER. Yes, sir! I'm happy to say, they have been very
good, very good, indeed. Oh---- [_aside_] ----now I'm forgetting that
rascal, Tom! [_To_ SANTA CLAUS.] That is--they've all been
good except one--and he--a--well----

MOTHER [_looking at_ TOM]. He is sorry now, I hope,
Santa Claus, and will try not to do so any more.

SANTA CLAUS. Oh! Ha-ha! you're talking about this fellow,
are you? [_Puts his hand on_ TOM'S _shoulder and draws him
forward._] Well, he's just been explaining to me that it was all a
mistake----

FATHER [_sternly_]. I hope he has not been trying to hide
his misdoings from you, Santa Claus.

SANTA CLAUS. Not at all, sir, not at all. He confessed like
a man. But there is this about it that you didn't know. Somebody told
him that I put whips in the stockings of naughty children. Well, he
naturally thought I was to be distrusted--shocking way to malign me,
wasn't it?--and of course he wanted to find out. So what did he do to
test me but _try_ to be naughty--acted it out to perfection, I've no
doubt. Pretty severe on his brothers and sisters and parents, wasn't
it? [SANTA CLAUS _and_ FATHER _laugh._]

MOTHER. Why, Tommy, it's a pity you didn't just come to me
and ask about it. It would have saved so much trouble. Why didn't you
do that?

TOM. I never once thought of that way, Mamma!

SANTA CLAUS. Well, my son, your thinking-cap is the only
cap you don't have to take off in the house, so remember to keep
it on, next time. Mr. Wright, I'm sure he feels sorry enough about
his mistake to justify me in giving him his full share of presents.
Come, children, look and see what I've got for you. I brought it last
night, to have it all ready, and I think it ought to hold enough for
all, don't you?

  [_Curtains at side of stage fall, and disclose
  the Tree._[9] _General distribution of presents
  follows._

[Footnote 9: See note on Tree, p. 314, and on Tree-songs, p. 315.]


NOTES ON COSTUME AND SETTING

For this play, ordinary costume is all that is required. Adult parts
are taken by two girls and a boy, of fourteen or fifteen, and these,
of course, need something especial, but little girls can easily
borrow their equipment from mothers or sisters. Father Wright should
wear a mustache and, if desired, a beard.

For Santa Claus costume, see note, p. 313.

See note on fireplace, p. 313.



THEIR CHRISTMAS PARTY

IN TWO ACTS


CHARACTERS

  FATHER BROWNE.
  MOTHER BROWNE.
  AUNT JENNIE.
  DICK   }
  DOT    } The little Brownes. (Eight and six years old.)
  MARY, the nurse.
  JOHN, the man.
  JIM    } A newsboy and his sister, both ragged. (About
  POLLY  }  the age of Dick and Dot.)
  THE FIVE LITTLE BLAIRS.
  THE TWO LITTLE GRAYS.
  SALLIE LEE.
  COOK'S SISTER'S CHILDREN.
  _And_ SANTA CLAUS.

[Illustration: THEIR CHRISTMAS PARTY]


THEIR CHRISTMAS PARTY


ACT I

TIME: _Afternoon of the 24th of December._

SCENE: _A street corner on a snowy day. Barrels and boxes in front
of a small grocery store. Enter_ DICK _and_ DOT, _well wrapped up,
dragging a sled._


DICK. Whew! that's a dandy coast, but it's pretty hard work
pulling up.

DOT. Let's sit down a minute and rest. [_They draw sled to
left of stage and sit down side by side on it._] I'm so tired. Oh,
Dick, I thought we were going to run over that poor gray cat, didn't
you?

DICK [_nodding_]. It's lucky for her that she knew how
to jump. The Comet would have hit her sure! This rope needs tying
tighter. [_Goes to front of sled and kneels down, fixing rope._]

DOT [_looking around_]. It's so nice and quiet here. No big
boys ever coast on this street. Big boys always bump into you.

DICK [_shaking his mitten at her_]. Now, Dot, that's just
the very reason I don't like it. You don't know how much more fun it
would be to have just lots and lots of boys on this track all the
time, climbing up and whizzing down. I bet none of them could beat
this old sled.

DOT [_doubtfully_]. Maybe it would be nice, but, Dick, I
think it's such fun to have just us two.

DICK. That's just because you're a girl and don't know.
Come along, let's try the hill again. Shall we go over the bump?

DOT. No, I'm afraid. Let's start down here.

  [_Exeunt._

  [_Enter from Left_, JIM _and_ POLLY.

JIM. If you're very cold, Sister, we can go home right off
now, but I've got four papers left, and I want awful bad to sell 'em,
every one, so's I can take the money to Granny.

POLLY. No, I'm not so dreadful cold, Jim. And, 'sides, maybe
Granny's not got home yet from work, and then you know we'd just have
to sit on the doorstep and wait.

JIM. We'll stay right here. Folks will be going home soon,
and lots of men pass this corner. Here's a nice box to sit on; I
don't believe the store man will mind. You sit on that side, so,
Polly, and I'll sit here, so, for the wind's blowing this way, and if
I sit here it will hit me first, and I can keep it off o' you. [_They
sit back to back on the box._]

POLLY. Oh, Jim, I'm afraid you'll be cold.

JIM. Oh, no, I won't. [_Two men cross stage arm in arm._]
Here's your Times, Star, Evening Post. Last edition. [_Men shake
their heads._] [_Looking after men._] Pshaw! Well, maybe the next
feller'll want one. [_To_ POLLY.] See, Polly, I can't be
cold, I just stuff my hands in my pockets---- [_His hand comes
through._] No, that's the wrong place. I just stuff my hands in my
pockets like this, and then I kick my heels like this. [_Kicks on box
with his heels._] That's very warming. And then I whistle. [_Whistles
lively tune._] If you just whistle you don't have time to think about
the wind, see!

POLLY [_drums with her heels and tries to whistle_]. But it
hurts to kick your heels, and I can't whistle.

JIM. I'll tell you what. Let's try singing. Perhaps that's
just as warming. Let's sing Granny's Christmas song. [_They sing a
verse of "God rest ye, merry gentlemen," or some other old-world
carol._]

POLLY. Jim, is to-morrow Christmas?

JIM [_gloomily_]. Yes, to-morrow's Christmas. [_Aside._] And
if somebody don't buy these papers pretty soon, I won't have enough
pennies to get [_counts on his fingers_] that penny paper doll; nor
the penny washtub, nor the jumping Jack, nor the paint box, 'cause
that's three cents. [_Enter man._] Here's your evenin' paper, sir!
[_Man stops and takes one. Exit._]

  [_Enter_ DICK _and_ DOT, _cross stage, and sit
  down as before._

DOT. Wasn't that a nice coast, Dick?

DICK [_absently_]. Yes. [_Rests his chin in his hands and
elbows on his knees._] Dot, I do wish we lived in an orphan asylum.

DOT [_jumps_]. Oh-h! Why, Dicky Browne, you wouldn't have
any papa nor mamma nor Aunt Jennie, nor anybody, nor anybody.

DICK. But just think what lots of brothers and sisters we'd
have.

DOT. Well, you're all the brothers I want; 'nd I wouldn't
give up Papa and Mamma for all the sisters in the world; so now.

DICK. Well, neither would I, but can't you see how much
nicer times we would have if there was a lot of us, on holidays
especially?

DOT. Well, I think we have an awfully good time, anyway. You
said you liked Thanksgiving.

DICK. That was because of the dinner part. When we tried to
play games and dance afterwards, what did we do? We played Hide the
Thimble, and if I hid it there was only you to look, and of course
you couldn't help finding it first. We had to play Going to Jerusalem
with just one chair, and the two of us went around and around and
around till we felt like the "Little Rid Hin" in John's story. I
declare there aren't enough of us to play Puss-in-the-corner. Two
children can't have any fun. [_Puts his head down on his arms._]

DOT [_sighs_]. That's so.

DICK [_lifts up his head suddenly_]. And I'd just like to
know what's the fun of coasting when you haven't anything to shout
"clear the track" at, but ash barrels, and hens and cats that you
can't run over anyway. I wish there were forty-'leven boys on the
track this minute.

DOT. Well, I don't care about the track, but brothers and
sisters are nice to play with. Wouldn't it be nice if there were two
of you and two of me?

DICK. Two of us! I wish there were six of each of us. I
wish I could go and live with the Ruggles's, in your story about the
"Birds' Christmas Carol." There were nine of them and they only got
washed about once a year. And folks weren't always saying, "Land!
where did you get them dirty hands?"

DOT. That would be fun! We could play just as untidy
games----

DICK. Don't talk about it, it makes me cross. [_Folds his
arms, crosses his feet, and whistles something sad._ DOT
_gets out her handkerchief and spreads it in her lap._]

JIM [_softly_]. I say, Polly, that boy's got an awful nice
sled.

POLLY. Just look at his sister's muff. [_Enter man._]

JIM [_shouts_]. Buy a paper, sir! [_Man takes paper._]

  [DOT _turns and sees children, looks away, then
  back again, turns to_ DICK.

DOT. Dicky, are you sure you are warm enough?

DICK. Warm enough! How could I be cold with a great big coat
like this one? I feel like a polar bear. [_Walks up and down to show
size of his coat, then sits down._ DOT _turns and sees the
children's ragged shoes._]

DOT. But are your feet warm?

DICK. Of course, with boots on.

DOT [_sees_ POLLY _examining holes in her
mittens_]. But aren't there any holes in your mittens?

DICK. In my spick-span new mittens that Aunt Jennie made me? [_Holds
them up._] Dot, you're crazy! [_Catches her looking at the children;
looks himself, and then walks around the sled to sit facing_ JIM
_and_ POLLY. DOT _does the same. All four stare in silence._] Hullo!

JIM. Hullo, yourself!

DICK. Are you the boy that my papa gets his papers of?

JIM. Don't know.

  [DOT _walks decidedly over to_ POLLY.

DOT. Let me feel your hands. They're just like ice; I knew it. Put
them right in here with mine. [_Kneels in front of_ POLLY _and puts
her hands in muff._ DICK _moves sled close to_ JIM _and sits astride
of it._]

DICK. Have you sold all your papers?

JIM. No, I've got two left.

DICK. Isn't it lots of fun to sell papers and earn money?

JIM. I don't know,--not this kind of weather.

DICK. I think it would be fun. I wouldn't want to sell 'em
on Christmas. Do you have to work on Christmas day?

JIM. Not if I don't want to. I did go out last Christmas,
but nobody much came along. I suppose they stayed at home to keep
warm.

DOT. No, I guess Santa Claus was coming to see their little
children, and they wanted to see him too. [_To_ POLLY.] What
do you want Santa Claus to bring you?

POLLY. Santa Claus hasn't ever been to our house.

DOT. What, hasn't ever been to your house!

DICK. Haven't you ever seen him?

JIM. No, she never saw him, but I saw a stuffed Santa Claus
in a window once.

DICK. Why, he comes to our house every single year.

DOT. I thought he went to everybody's houses in this world.

JIM [_leaning toward_ DICK _and speaking low_]. I
get Polly presents when I get enough money.

DICK. But doesn't Santa Claus fill your stockings?

JIM. No, and he never goes to Nicky Smith's house, nor Eddy
Warren's, nor Jakey White's. They told me so. Here comes another man.
Post, sir? [_Man shakes his head._]

POLLY. Jim got me some candy last Christmas, and Granny gave
me a doll, only its head came off the next day.

JIM. That's an awful nice sled.

DICK. Haven't you got any sled?

JIM. No, but I coast on a board sometimes.

DICK. I'll let you try Comet. Don't you want to take Polly
down?

DOT. Oh, yes, go; we'll take care of the papers.

DICK. Let's change places; we'll sell papers and you
coast. And you must take our coats too. [_Pulls off his things_,
DOT _following his example._] Because the wind just whistles
right through you, I tell you, when you go down that hill.

DOT. Oh, yes.

JIM. We're much obliged for the sled, but we can't take your
things; you'll be cold.

DICK. No, we won't, and you must. [_Helps him on with his
own coat._] You see, you're cold now, and you won't have a good coast
if you're not warm. Give me your cap. Here, take my mittens. Dot,
take Polly's shawl.

DOT. Now, we'll sit right down here. Dick, you hold the
papers.

JIM. Are you all fixed?

DICK _and_ DOT. Oh, beautifully. Oh, thank you.

  [JIM _and_ POLLY _go off._

DICK [_calling_]. Put Polly on behind.

DOT. Mind the bump at the curbstone.

DICK. Oh, Dot, isn't this fun?

DOT. Yes, lots. Have you got the papers?

DICK. Yes, there are only two left to sell.

DOT. Let me get close up behind you, the way Polly did. Now
you must drum with your heels, and whistle like Jim. [DICK
_does so._]

DICK. Here comes somebody. Now I'm going to call. Here's
your evening papers, last edition!

  [_Enter two men, stop and buy a paper._

FIRST MAN [_looking back_]. That's a queer-looking newsboy.
Somehow he looks like a rich child.

SECOND MAN [_pulling him off_]. I can't see but the
little scamp is ragged enough. Some of these newsboys aren't so
poverty-stricken as they make out, anyway. Come along. [_Exeunt._]

DICK. I've seen that man somewhere.

DOT. I think he's been to see Papa. Wouldn't it be fun if
Papa came along and bought a paper of you?

DICK. And didn't know me. What a circus! Wish he would.

DOT. There come Jim and Polly. Wave your paper at them.

DICK [_waving_]. Hurrah, Jim, I sold a paper.

  [_Enter_ JIM _and_ POLLY.

JIM. Good for you. It was fine!

POLLY. It was just grand!

DICK. Try it again. We like this, don't we, Dot?

DOT. Yes. Don't you want to go again, Polly?

JIM. Are you warm enough? honest Injun?

DOT. Yes, go on.

JIM. All right. [_Exeunt._]

DICK. I knew Jim would think Comet was a boss sled. Don't
you think Jim would be a nice brother, Dot?

DOT. Yes, if he washed his face. Polly would be nice for a
sister, too.

DICK. We could all write letters to Santa Claus together.
[_Drums with heels and whistles._]

Dot [_after a pause, rubbing her nose_]. Well, if Santa Claus's nose
ever feels like mine, it's no wonder it's red.

DICK [_squirming_]. Somehow, it's colder than I thought it
was. The thermometer must be down to zero.

DOT. I'm sure it's nineteen below. I--I think a fire would
feel real nice.

DICK. I'll take you home when they come up again. I'm not
very cold. I wonder if Jim ever flops his arms like a street car
driver. Maybe that would make him warm. Try it, Dot. [_Both beat
themselves with their arms._]

DOT. I don't believe anything would make me warm.

DICK [_turning anxiously_]. Dot, do you want my handkerchief?

DOT. Oh, no, I'm not going to cry.

DICK. Well, I'm glad, for it's in my pocket that Jim's got
on.

  [_Enter man._

MAN. Got a Times, boy?

DICK. Yes, sir, last one. [_Exit man. Enter_ JIM
_and_ POLLY.] Sold the last paper, Jim. Here's the money.
We've got to go home now. [_Changing coats._] Jim, I think it's very
queer about Santa Claus. Is your house hard to find?

JIM. No, it's just right down this street, there on
Friendship Alley. We're awfully much obliged for the ride. The
Comet's a beauty.

POLLY. I never was on a sled before.

DOT. Weren't you? We'll let you have ours again, sometime.

DICK _and_ DOT. Good-night. [_Exeunt._]

JIM. That's an awfully nice little chap, Polly.

POLLY. Why, Jim, he's 'most as big as you are.

JIM. Oh, well, he's little somehow. I take care of you and
that makes me big. Let's go home to Granny. [_Takes her hand. Exeunt,
singing another verse of their carol._]


CURTAIN


ACT II

TIME: _Christmas morning._

SCENE: _Sitting-room, with large old-fashioned fireplace[10] [back
Center]. Toys scattered about. A small blackboard to left of
fireplace._ DICK _and_ DOT _sitting in little chairs._ DICK, _with a
knife, whittling._ DOT, _with a doll. Both wear sprigs of holly._

[Footnote 10: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]


DOT. Everybody has given us such lovely presents. It
couldn't be nicer, could it, Dick?

DICK [_sighing_]. I think it could be just a little nicer.
It would be nicer if we had a lot of brothers and sisters to help us
play with the soldiers and the blocks and the dolls and everything.
Oh, I wish--I wish that just for this one day I could have a whole
_roomful_ of children to play with.

DOT. I'm afraid Jim and Polly aren't having as nice a
Christmas as ours.

DICK [_shutting his knife_]. So am I. I don't think
Friendship Alley's a very nice place to have to live.

DOT. I wish they could have a Christmas like ours. I'd like
to give them some things. Anyway, I'd like to show them our presents.

DICK [_jumping up_]. Let's!

DOT. When?

DICK. Now, right off. And, Dot, don't you know they said
they had never seen Santa Claus, either. It's 'most time for him to
come. Let's go and bring them over to see him.

DOT. All right. He'll give them something, too.

DICK. We'll hide them so as to surprise everybody.

DOT. Will Papa and Mamma like it?

DICK. Of course they will. Papa always likes our surprises,
and Mamma will, I know, because it would make her feel so sorry
if she knew there was anybody in the world that wasn't happy on
Christmas. She says that's the happiest day in the year, and
everybody ought to be happy. So we won't make her sorry by telling
her about it. We'll just make them happy too.

DOT. We can have them take off their things in the nursery,
and then Jim can wash his face.

  [_Exeunt. Enter_ FATHER, _with paper which
  he throws on table._

FATHER. Well, the children seem to have grown tired of their
new things already. I don't see what has come over that boy lately.
He talks of nothing but big families. I suppose the sight of the
five little Blair children across the way is tantalizing, and it
certainly is lonely for the two little duds with nobody but grown-ups
in the house. Their efforts to be a large party in themselves, to
play games, on Thanksgiving day, were really laughable, but they
were pathetic, too. If Julia had thought of it, we might have had
a little Christmas party for them. It's a good deal of trouble for
Santa Claus to climb down a chimney for just two children. [_Looks
at his watch._] The old gentleman ought to be here in about half an
hour. I wonder if it's too late to get some children now? Mr. Blair
might lend me his youngsters for an hour or so. It would be such a
nice surprise for the children. I could hide them somewhere, and at
a given signal have them come out. I'll just step across the way and
see.

  [_Exit_ FATHER. _Enter_ AUNT JENNIE.

AUNT. What a dreadful state the children have left this
room in. That blessed boy! I knew he couldn't wait to try his new
knife. His father would insist on giving it to him, though I'm sure
it's dangerous. Here are his chips all over the floor, and Dot has
had Dolly dressed and undressed a dozen times at least. [_Sits down
by fire, laughing indulgently._] The way those children have been
talking the last few days is a puzzle! I can't think what started
them. I never had but one brother myself, and I'm sure I was quite
happy. What they want with ten brothers and sisters is beyond me.
A dozen children in the house would be more than their father and
Julia and I could stand, to say nothing of nurse and John. The two
alone can think of quite enough mischief to drive the household
crazy. I suppose our having so many friends when we were children
made a difference. We never used to be alone at Christmas. After all,
on holidays it would be forlorn. Too bad we didn't think of having
a party. There are so many children who would think it a treat to
come, too, who have no tree or Santa Claus at home. That little girl
of Ellen Lee's must be all alone to-day. [_Gets up decidedly._] I
declare I'll just put on my hat and coat and go around there now and
get her. It'll be such a nice surprise for the children.

  [_Exit in haste. Enter_ MOTHER. _Takes up
  doll, and sits down thoughtfully before the
  fire, rearranging doll's dress._

MOTHER. Dolly, you'd be surprised if you knew how badly
I'm feeling! I think I've been a very stupid, unrealizing sort of
a mother, not to plan something to make the children have a really
_merry_ Christmas, as well as a happy one. It would have been so
easy to have a little party of children here. Oh, Dolly, you know
all about it better than I do myself, for didn't I just hear Dot
confiding in you, and whispering in this little ear under your curls
how she wished you were a real live sister to play with her? Now you
see how I feel! Don't you see that if she had a hundred dolls, of wax
or china or rags, she would still have a stupid Christmas? I haven't
a doubt that you mean well, and you do fill a very large corner in
a little girl's heart--I haven't got over my fondness for your race
yet. [_Kisses the doll's curls._] But you certainly are a trifle
obstinate about responding to friendly advances. Poor children, it's
so easy to give you pleasure! [_Lets doll fall in her lap._] I might
have had a nice, jolly, little ... well, it's too late now. [_Sighs,
then looks at her watch._] No! I don't believe it is, after all. I
still have time to go for little Jerry Gray and his sister. They are
just the ones! The children love surprises so. I'll hurry----

  [_Exit in haste. Enter_ MARY _and_ JOHN.
  _While they talk together they put the room
  to rights._

MARY. Well, it do beat all, how thim children can make a
room look like so many pigs and chickens had been running through.

JOHN. Thrue for you, an' it does.

MARY. An' what fer need they be wishin' there was tin of
thim to mess the house up worse?

JOHN. An' did they do that, thin?

MARY. Sure they did. "Mary," says Dicky to me, "don't you
wish that I was five little b'ys and Dot was five little girls? We
do, we're so lonesome."

JOHN. An' that's what I heard them sayin' as I was
a-carryin' up coal this morning. "I wish I had a whole room full of
brothers and sisters," says Dick. Faix! I wish I could give him some
of mine, then. I've enough to spare.

MARY. 'Tis sort of lonesome like, now, ain't it, John?
[_Hands on hips._]

JOHN [_hands on hips_]. Yes, it is that. I wonder---- Say,
Mary, me darlin', them three children of cook's sister's ain't going
to have much Christmas. Why can't you and me smuggle them up here
to the cupboard on the stairs, and when we comes up to help wid th'
tree, we'll just give the word and they'll pop out and say, Merry
Christmas. It'll be sort o' cheerful like, and Mistress is that
kind-hearted she ain't going to care.

MARY. John, you have the brains of a elephant. I'll go right
down and fetch 'em now. [_Exit._]

JOHN. Poor children! They shall have some fun, that they
shall.

  [_Re-enter_ MARY _with children._

MARY. Well, would you look at 'em, John? Cook she dressed
'em all up in green ribbons, bless their hearts. Says I, "Sure
to-day's not St. Patrick's day." "Well," says she, "what's fittin'
one holiday is fittin' the next. It's a good color anyhow. Them's
their best clothes." So I never touched 'em. I've told 'em about it,
John. Now, just go right up in here, children.

JOHN. And when we say "Broomsticks!" out you bounces and
shouts, "Merry Christmas!" Now, Mary, we've redd up, we'll just go
below stairs. [_Exeunt._]

  [_Enter_ DICK _and_ DOT _with_ JIM _and_ POLLY.

DOT. We're so glad you came, because we want to show you our
things.

DICK. And now you can see Santa Claus.

JIM _and_ POLLY. Oh-h-hh! We never saw nothin' like
this before.

DICK. And I'm going to put my new necktie on you, because we
want to be all dressed up for Santa Claus.

DOT _and_ DICK. We've got on holly because it's
Christmas.

POLLY. I've got on my clean apron. Will I do?

DOT. 'Course you will; I don't believe Santa Claus cares.

DICK. Here are my soldiers.

DOT. And this is my dolly.

DICK. And just look at my knife.

DOT. Where's my pincushion?

DICK. Oh, see our blackboard. Don't you want to draw on it,
Jim?

JIM. I don't know how to draw.

DICK. Oh, make a man; it's very easy to make a man.
[_Demonstrating._] You just make his stomach and his head, and then
put on the arms and legs.

DOT. See our books.

DICK. This is my new history. It's got a picture of Mr.
Columbus finding the red Indians.

DOT. Oh, I hear somebody coming. You must hide straight off.

DICK. In the chimney is the best place. Jim, you go on this
side and Polly on that. And look out for the fire. Remember when we
say "Sleds!" you must come out.

DOT. Now.

  [FATHER _puts his head in at the door._

FATHER. Oh, children, are you there? Don't you think you'd
better go and have your hands and faces washed? Santa Claus likes
clean faces, you know.

DICK _and_ DOT. Yes, sir, right off. [_Exeunt._]

  [_Enter_ FATHER _with five little Blairs._

FATHER. Now, children, quick, run right into the library
here, and when I say "Holly!" you must run out and say, "Merry
Christmas!"

  [_Exit_ FATHER. _Enter_ AUNT _with_ SALLY
  LEE.

AUNT. Sally, the best place for you to hide is here on the
floor behind the blackboard. There, no one can see you. Now, when I
say "Evergreen!" you must come out as we planned.

  [_Exit_ AUNT. _Enter_ MOTHER _with two little
  Grays._

MOTHER. Come right here, dears, behind this curtain. You
won't have to wait long. And when I say "Mistletoe!" run out. I'll go
and find Dick and Dot.

  [_Exit._

  [_Enter_ DICK _and_ DOT _and place two low
  chairs by the fireplace. Both put their
  heads into the chimney._

DICK _and_ DOT. Are you all right?

JIM. Yes, if we don't have to stay too long.

POLLY. It's very nice and warm here.

  [_Enter_ FATHER, MOTHER, AUNT, _and_ MARY
  _and_ JOHN, _who stand by the door._

FATHER. Children, what are you doing? [_Children come out
confused._]

MOTHER. Were you looking for Santa Claus?

AUNT. Couldn't you wait for him?

DICK. It's a whole year since we've seen him.

FATHER. I wonder if he's changed any.

DOT. Oh, I hope not.

FATHER. We all love Santa Claus, don't we? He makes us think
of so many pleasant things. He always reminds me of----

  FATHER. Holly!      }
                      }
  MOTHER. Mistletoe!  }
                      }
  AUNT. Evergreen!    }
                      } All children [_rushing out_]:
  DICK } Sleds!       }   "Merry Christmas, Merry
  DOT  }              }   Christmas, Merry Christmas!"
                      }
  JOHN } Broomsticks! }
  MARY }              }

DICK _and_ DOT. Hurrah, hurrah! We're going to have
a Christmas party, after all!

FATHER. I never was so surprised in all my life.

MOTHER. Nor the rest of us, either.

CHILDREN. Goody, goody! Santa Claus is coming!

FATHER. Three cheers for Santa Claus. All together!

ALL. Rah! Rah! Rah!

MOTHER. Santa Claus likes to have children quiet sometimes.
It's almost time for him to come now. I know he loves music. Suppose
we all sit down right where we are and sing. What shall we sing?

DOT. Let's sing----

  [_All sing a Christmas carol._

FATHER. Listen, do you hear anything? [_Silence._]

CHILDREN. No, no!

FATHER. Well, let's sing something about Santa Claus, and
see if that will bring him. [_They sing a Santa Claus song._]

  [_Enter_ SANTA CLAUS _through fireplace. Children
  all jump up and gather around him._

SANTA CLAUS. Whew! What a large party! Do you think my pack
will hold out for so many?

CHILDREN [_dancing excitedly_]. Yes! Yes!

DICK. Santa Claus, before you begin, I want to ask you a
question. Here are Jim and Polly, and they have always wanted to see
you, but you never went to their house, nor gave them any presents,
and they say they know some more poor people that you never go to
see. We thought you went everywhere and gave everybody presents! Why
didn't you ever give anything to Jim and Polly? We don't think that's
quite fair, Santa Claus!

SANTA CLAUS. I know, and I think I can explain to you.
[_Recites._]

     'Tis true, my child, I can't but say
     I have a very curious way
     Of bringing presents to girls and boys
     Who have least need of pretty toys,
     And giving books, and dolls, and rings,
     To those who already have such things.
     'Tis done for a very curious reason,
     Suggested by the Christmas season.
     Should I make my gifts to those who need,
     'Twould become a time of general greed,
     When all would think, "What shall we get?"
     "What shall we give?" they would quite forget.
     So when I send my gifts to-day,
     'Tis a hint "You have plenty to give away."
     And then I leave some poor ones out,
     That the richer may find, as they look about,
     Their opportunities close at hand,
     In every corner of the land.
     My token to those who in plenty live
     Is a gentle reminder, meaning,
                  GIVE.[11]

[Footnote 11: Quoted from _St. Nicholas_, by courtesy of Tudor Jenks
and The Century Company.]

CHILDREN. Oh, yes, we see, and we'll try to remember.

SANTA CLAUS. That's right. Now, can't we have another song?
I like to hear you singing. Let's have....

  [_Carol, and distribution of presents._[12]

[Footnote 12: See note on Tree, p. 314, and on Carols, p. 315.]


NOTES ON COSTUME AND SCENERY

Ordinary costumes. Santa Claus (see note on costume, p. 313) should
be taken by a man, but the other adult parts are for boys and
girls from fourteen to eighteen. Two or three older boys enact the
homeward-bound pedestrians who merely cross the stage in Act I, and
Father Browne and John, in coats and hats, may be among these.

The groups of children who come in at the end range from the very
smallest up to ten years.

If scenery is available, place grocery store in first scene, at the
back, and keep the children well in the center. In changing the
scene, time can be gained by setting the first scene in front of the
interior, as very little space is needed for the first act.

If scenery is not to be used, set grocery store less conspicuously
[_Right_], using screens and placing boxes and barrels before them.



THE CHRISTMAS BROWNIE

IN ONE ACT


CHARACTERS

  FATHER BIRD.
  MOTHER BIRD.
  KITTY       }                  { About twelve years old.
  TED         }                  { Boy of ten.
  MARJORIE    } The little Birds { Eight years old.
  ROBIN       }                  { Boy of seven.
  LITTLE ROSE }                  { Little girl of six.
  NURSE MAGGIE.
  THE CHRISTMAS BROWNIE. (Boy of ten.)
  _And_ SANTA CLAUS.


CHARACTERS IN TED'S DREAM

(Series of tableaux at back of stage)

  I. Jack Horner.
  II. Mrs. Santa Claus.
  III. When Santa was Young.
  IV. "Merry Christmas." (Little boy.)
  V. "No Christmas." (Little boy and girl.)
  VI. The Christmas Waits. (Four boys and four girls
      from six to twelve years, who can sing.)

The other children in the "Dream" should not be over eight years
old.

[Illustration: THE BROWNIE]


THE CHRISTMAS BROWNIE

TIME: _Christmas Eve. The story begins at tea-time in the
nursery, and ends on Christmas morning, the night being bridged over
by_ TED'S _dream._

SCENE: _Nursery, with fireplace,[13] across corner [Right], nursery
pictures on the walls, and toys scattered about. The children seated
on little chairs around a low table [L.], having just finished their
tea_--TED _at one end_, KITTY _opposite him_, MARJORIE _and_ ROSE
_on one side [facing the audience], and_ ROBIN _with his chair half
turned away from the table. Curtain rises, showing the children
singing a Christmas song, while the nurse goes in and out with a
tray, clearing the table. The little girls sit with hands folded_,
KITTY _sometimes helping the nurse, and the boys lounge comfortably
in their chairs. When the song is ended_, TED _leans his elbows on
the table._

[Footnote 13: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]

Any Christmas song will do. "Oh, Ring, Glad Bells" (from _Songs and
Games for Little Ones_[14]) is a very good one.

[Footnote 14: See note on Carols, p. 315.]


KITTY. Oh, I do wish Papa and Mamma would get done their
supper and come up here!

MARJORIE. Seems to me it takes twice as long to eat supper
in the dining-room as it does up here in the nursery!

TED. Grown folks are so slow about it!

ROBIN. Guess they have more to eat, too.

NURSE. No, indeed, Master Robin, it's because they're polite
and don't eat so fast!

MARJORIE. We do gobble just like Thanksgiving turkeys!

KITTY. Rosy-posy never does. [_Patting little_
ROSE.]

TED. Pooh! Rosebud doesn't eat more'n a bite, anyway!

ROSE. Maggie, please untie my bib.

TED. I'll do it for you. [_Jumps up and unties it. The
others take theirs off, and the nurse carries them all away._]

KITTY. Oh, I'm so excited! I don't believe I can sleep a
wink.

MARJORIE. Don't you wish to-morrow would come quick?

BOYS. You bet!

MARJORIE. Santa Claus!

KITTY. Christmas Tree!

ROBIN. Sleds!

TED. Candy!

ROBIN. Big drums!

BOYS [_drumming with fists on table_]. B-r-r-rum! B-r-rum!
Brum! Brum! Brum!

KITTY [_covering her ears_]. Mercy! what a racket! Do be
quiet, boys!

ROSE [_shaking her finger_]. Santa Claus'll hear you 'way up
at the North Pole!

TED. I hope he's started on his travels before this, or he
won't get here for a week.

ROBIN. Wouldn't you like to ride with him in his old sleigh,
though?

TED. And help him fill the stockings!

MARJORIE. I don't think I'd like going down chimneys much.

KITTY. What a good chimney-sweep Santa Claus must make.

ROBIN [_going to look up chimney_]. Oh, isn't it 'most time
to hang up the stockings? [_Comes to stand beside_ MARJORIE.]

KITTY. Maggie has gone to get them, I think.

ROSE. But, Sister, how will Santa Claus know which is which?

KITTY. He'll know yours the minute he sees it, Pet.

ROSE. Will he?

TED. Sure!

ROBIN. Oh, I say, Ted, wouldn't it be a joke if he got 'em
all mixed up, and put my things in Marjorie's stocking, and yours in
Kitty's!

KITTY. He won't. He's such a wise old fellow that he always
knows, somehow.

MARJORIE. Well, I should think it would be lots easier if we
marked them! It must be dreadfully hard for him to remember.

TED. I'll tell you what! S'posing we write a list of the
things we want him to bring, too?

ROBIN. Good for you, Ted. Then he won't have to remember all
the letters we've been writing him.

MARJORIE. Give us some paper, quick, Kitty!

KITTY [_gets paper and pencils from mantel_, TED
_helping her_]. If Santa Claus has to remember all the letters all
the children in the world write him every year, shouldn't you think
his head must ache? [_Divides paper among children. All sit at table
and write._]

TED. Put your name at the top.

MARJORIE. And the thing you want most, next.

ROSE [_to_ KITTY]. Will Santa Claus mind if I print
mine?

KITTY. No, indeed. He likes printing.

  [_All write busily for a few moments._

ROBIN. I'm done. Look at that! [_Holds it up._]

KITTY. My! what a long list!

ROSE. Oh-h-h! Santa Claus'll think you're greedy!

ROBIN. I don't expect him to give me all those things.
That's just so he can choose.

KITTY. Here come Papa and Mamma. Now, Ted, go get the
stockings.

  [_Exit_ TED. _Enter_ FATHER _and_ MOTHER,
  _children crowding around them._

KITTY. Mamma, we've made lists----

ROBIN. Of the things we want----

KITTY. And we're going to pin them on our stockings----

MARJORIE. Because we thought we ought to save poor Santa
Claus all the trouble we could.

MOTHER. What thoughtful children! I'm sure Santa Claus will
appreciate it.

ROBIN. Now, sit down and write your lists, quick!

FATHER [_laughing_]. Santa Claus will be frightened by such an array
of wants. [FATHER _and_ MOTHER _sit down and write._]

FATHER. Do you think his pack will hold out?

ROBIN [_with scorn_]. 'Course it will! That pack hasn't any
bottom at all.

MARJORIE _and_ ROSE [_taking hands and dancing_].
Oh, goody! goody! goody!

  [_Enter_ TED, _with_ MAGGIE, _who gives stockings
  to the children and helps them to pin
  on the lists._

FATHER. I don't see my sock anywhere. This surely isn't
mine! [_Holds up a long stocking._]

MARJORIE. Oh, Papa, it would be too mean to hang up one of
your horrid little ones!

ROBIN. No, sir!

TED. Socks are no good on Christmas Eve. We've got one of
Mamma's for you.

FATHER [_laughing_]. Oh, I see. Very well. But it's lucky
they're to be marked. Santa Claus would never in the world recognize
this one.

MOTHER [_to_ ROBIN, _who is stretching his stocking
as much as possible_]. Robin, what are you doing?

ROBIN. Just making it bigger. Now, come along. Papa's on the
first hook. [_All go to fireplace and hang stockings_, NURSE
_helping_ ROSE. _All stand back to gaze._]

KITTY. Don't they make a fine show?

BOYS. Hurrah! Hurrah! [_Children all clap._]

MOTHER. Softly, children! [_To_ NURSE.] Maggie,
they will never go to sleep if they are so excited! [_To children._]
Sit down here a little while and sing some of your Christmas songs
before you go to bed.

KITTY. Oh, no, Mamma, let Rosebud sing her song for us, and
we'll be quiet.

MOTHER. Very well, dear.

TED. Let her stand on the table, so everybody can hear.
Come, Rosy! [TED _and_ KITTY _help her up._
FATHER _stands by fire_, MARJORIE _with her arm
about_ MOTHER, NURSE _in door_, KITTY
_sits on a corner of the table_, ROBIN _in a chair_,
TED _leaning over the back of it._ ROSE _sings,
"In another land and time." (From "Songs for Little Children.")[15]
When the song is ended_, MOTHER _comes forward, kisses_
ROSE, _and lifts her down._]

[Footnote 15: See p. 315.]

MOTHER. Now, Maggie, take her to bed. [NURSE _leads
her out._]

FATHER. Yes, it's high time you all went. Good-night, all of
you!

CHILDREN. Good-night, Papa! Good-night, Mamma!

ROBIN [_runs to fireplace, and bends over, shouting_].
Good-night, Santa Claus!

FATHER. Now, scamper, every one of you! [_Chases them
out_, MOTHER _follows. Stage darkened somewhat. Enter the_
BROWNIE _suddenly, through fireplace. Stands (Center) for a
moment, finger on lips, then rushes to door, peeps out, comes back,
looks under table, and then, as if satisfied, goes to stockings, and
stands examining them, feet wide apart, and hands on hips. Comes to_
FATHER'S, _measures it with his hands, then lifts it by the
toe, and points to it, grinning. Doubles up with laughter. Suddenly
puts his hand to his ear, and bends over, listening. Rushes to door,
runs back, and vanishes in chimney. Enter_ TED.]

TED [_softly_]. I just can't go to bed yet. Robin went to
sleep the very minute he got into bed. Don't see how he could. Maggie
thinks I'm all nicely tucked in, and she's gone downstairs. [_Goes
to fireplace and looks up chimney._] I do wish I could catch Santa
Claus. No signs of him yet, and I don't hear the sleigh-bells. I
think I'll just sit down and wait. [_Crosses to his own chair, and
sits facing audience, with one elbow on table._] I believe I could
give Santa Claus a few pointers, anyway. [BROWNIE _puts his
head out of fireplace, and then shows himself entirely, gradually
creeping nearer and nearer_ TED, _as if irresistibly drawn
by his remarks._] He does give people pretty much what they ask for,
but [_slowly_] if he just stopped a minute to think about it, he'd
find out what silly things they do think they want, sometimes. But
[_sighs_] he's getting so old that he doesn't find it out at all.
[BROWNIE, _behind him, raises his hands in horror, then
shakes his fist at_ TED.] I really think it would be a good
thing for Santa Claus to choose one person in each family to help him
out,--with the planning, anyway, if he doesn't like to have anyone
else fill the stockings. S'posing he chose me! I could help him a
lot! [BROWNIE _springs excitedly on the table, and bends
over_ TED, _shaking his fist in his face._]

TED [_jumps up, and stands off a little way_]. Wow!
Wha--wha---- Who are you?

BROWNIE [_folds his arms and looks contemptuously down on_
TED]. _Who_ is this impertinent snip of a boy who dares to
insinuate that my master, Santa Claus, is too old and decrepit to do
his work any longer?

TED. Indeed, indeed, I didn't say that!

BROWNIE [_wrathfully_]. What did you say, then? It sounded
very much like it. [_Shakes his head fiercely._]

TED. I--I--I just said--that I think he makes mistakes
sometimes.

BROWNIE [_sitting down cross-legged on the table_]. Very
well, we'll just have this matter settled at once. Sit down, now,
and let me hear what you have to say. [TED _backs away from
his chair._] No, that won't do. Sit down, I tell you. [TED
_reluctantly obeys, pulling his chair to a safe distance, and
sitting astride of it._] Now then, young sir, will you tell me what
complaints you have to register against your last year's stocking?
Wasn't everything in it that you asked for?

TED [_anxious to appease_]. Oh, yes! and more, too!

BROWNIE. And wasn't everything in it in perfect order? Was
anything broken?

TED [_emphatically_]. No! Everything was just out of sight!

BROWNIE. And weren't all the cracks stuffed tight with candy
and nuts and raisins?

TED. I should say they were!

BROWNIE. Then I'd like to know the meaning of this discontent! You
twentieth-century boys are a set of ungrateful young scamps, who
get the best of everything, and then complain of it, and break it
up in three days' time. Santa Claus is spoiling you, _I_ say! Boys
a hundred years ago were thankful for the slates and schoolbooks we
gave them, and the girls were happy enough over corncob dolls. Now
you must have steam-engines, and motors, and automobiles, and dolls
that walk and talk, and are so full of cogs and wheels that no real
flesh-and-blood little girl could love them at all. I tell you, in
all my thousand years of existence, I have never met anything so
grasping as the modern children! [_Talks so loud and gesticulates so
wildly that_ TED _backs away again._]

TED [_meekly_]. Please, Mr.--Mr. Brownie, I didn't mean
that! Honest Injun, I didn't!

BROWNIE. Well, then, explain yourself!

TED. I--I--I was just thinking that people ask Santa Claus
for such f-foolish things that it's a wonder he gives them anything
at all.

BROWNIE. Foolish! I should think they were!

TED. And if there was anybody that could tell Santa Claus
about it, it would save him a lot of trouble.

BROWNIE. And you think you could manage things better, do
you?

TED. I didn't say that,--I said I would like to help.

BROWNIE [_scratches his nose, scowling very hard_]. See
here. Suppose I let you try. Santa Claus is unusually busy to-night,
and is sending a great number of his Brownies out to fill stockings.
I was to look out for this house, among several hundred others, and
I--a--well, I have a fancy that I should enjoy letting you help.

TED. Oh, _will_ you, really?

BROWNIE [_jumping off table_]. Yes, I have about made up my
mind to let you into the secrets of the business. You can learn a few
things, I think.

TED. Good for you! Thank you, ever so much.

BROWNIE. Never mind. Wait till to-morrow before you thank
me. [_Grins meaningly._] Now, let's be quick about this--the time is
getting short. We'll just go over these lists together, and you can
tell me what improvements to make. [_They go to the first stocking._]

TED. Shall I get you a paper to write things down, so you
won't forget?

BROWNIE [_shouts angrily_]. Forget!

TED. Yes, I thought maybe since you're so old----

BROWNIE. That shows all you know about it! Of course there's
some excuse for _your_ forgetting, since your memory is only ten
years long, but _mine's_ a thousand years long, and I never forget
anything! Come, read me this list.

TED [_reading_]. "Encyclopedia Britannica." Now Papa can't
possibly want that, because he knows all about everything already.
And besides, I heard Mamma say she hadn't a bit of room for any
more books. "New knife." He did say his old one was dull, but it's
altogether too sharp for Robin and me to use, and that's sharp enough
for anybody! "New pocketbook." Why, he said the other day he hadn't
any money to put into it, so I don't see what good that'll do him.
"Key ring." If he has that, he'll put _all_ the keys on it, and there
won't be any for Robin and me to drop lead through. [_Turns to the_
BROWNIE.] So, you see, there isn't a thing that he really
wants on that list.

BROWNIE. Oh, certainly not!

TED. Now, Mamma's. "Half a dozen new bibs." Bibs! They don't
belong on her list. She can't have that! "Little rocking-chair." Now,
if she has a _little_ rocking-chair, there won't be any room for us
on the arms of it,--that wouldn't do at all. "A rose vase." All her
vases are broken now, and if she had another, Maggie'd just smash it,
too, so what's the use in giving it to her? [_Turns to list._] What's
all this at the bottom? "Most of all, five _good_ boys and girls to
live with till next Christmas"! Jiminy Christopher, how _can_ she
want five more?

BROWNIE [_significantly_]. She didn't say "_more_."

TED [_claps his hand over his mouth_]. Oh!... P'r'aps she
didn't mean that! P'r'aps she meant _us_! [_Stares thoughtfully
before him._]

BROWNIE. Hurry up! Look at this one.

TED. That's Kitty's. Let's see. "A boy doll and a girl
doll." Now, don't you think Kitty's altogether too big for dolls? I
suppose _little_ girls must have dolls, but they're terribly silly
things. "Half a Dozen Girls." That's nothing but an old girl's book.
Give her stories about fights and Indians and bears to read to us.
"Paper dolls." There it is again. "Napkin ring." Now, that's the
only sensible thing she's got down.... This one's mine. I won't stop
to read that, because I only put down the things I've _got_ to have.
Let's see if I can read Robin's. [_Puzzles over it._]

BROWNIE [_reading_ TED'S _list_]. "Boxing-gloves.
Baseball. Roller-coaster. Skates. Boots. Marbles."

TED. Oh, now I see what it is. "Rubber boots." He doesn't need
those. I'm going to have some new ones, and my others aren't much
too big for him. "Marbles." He's got more marbles now 'n' any boy
I know. "Top. Kite"--this isn't the time of year for those things.
Never mind, I'll tell you what he wants in a minute. Now, Margie.
"Dolls" again. She's got three dozen if she's got one! "Music-box."
Pshaw! they just go and smash right away. "Paints." She'd paint up
all the chairs and tables in the house and nobody would like it a
bit. "Little stove"--that might be nice,--but I'm afraid she'd burn
herself. You see, _she_ hasn't got anything good on her list, either.
Now, Rose comes last of all. [_Looks at_ ROSE'S _list a moment._]
Well, I guess Rosebud ought to have everything she's asked for.
[_Turns to_ BROWNIE, _and the two walk away from the fire._] Now,
didn't I tell you how it was? People want such silly things! Now,
I'll tell you what to bring instead. [_Puts his arm across_ BROWNIE'S
_shoulder, and whispers in his ear, pointing to one stocking after
another._] ... Now, I guess that's all. It was awfully good of you to
let me help, and I know they'll all be pleased. [_Walks around table,
sits with his back to audience. Stretches his arms above his head,
and yawns aloud._] I really believe I could go to sleep now. [_Drops
his head on his hands._ BROWNIE _waves his wand above_ TED, _who
gradually sinks down, head on arms, fast asleep._]

BROWNIE. Now I guess he's in for a good night's sleep.
Little scamp! He ought to have some kind of a trick played on him,
but Santa Claus forbids any pranks on Christmas Eve. [_Crosses to
fireplace._] What _shall_ I do about these stockings, anyway? These
poor children are going to be dreadfully disappointed to-morrow
if I keep my promise to that scallywag, Ted. Perhaps I'd better
telephone Santa Claus about it. [_Takes up the toe of a stocking
and speaks through it, moving it from mouth to ear as he speaks or
listens._] Hello! Hello, there! North Pole! Please connect me with
Santa Claus.... Hello, is that you, Santa? I want to consult you
about some doubtful business.... Yes, sir, Mr. Bird's house.... His
boy is making a dreadful mess with these stockings.... He wants them
all filled with presents for himself.... What's that you say? Let
him try it?... Be a good lesson for him?... All right, sir! Thank
you. Any trouble with icebergs? No?... That's good.... All right,
good-by! [_Drops stocking._] Well, I must see it through, then, I
suppose. [_Takes down the stockings and carries them into the chimney
two at a time. When the last is carried out, he brings them back in
the same order, filled. To avoid delay, a double set is prepared,
the_ BROWNIE _leaving the empty ones and bringing the full
ones instead._] Well, he's pretty generous to himself, anyway. And he
thinks it's all for their good! [_Walks over and stands looking at_
TED.] I'll just say good-night to you, now, young man....
No! before I go, I believe I'll give you a few Christmas dreams.
[_Waves his wand and walks slowly to back of stage. Scene darkened,
lights thrown on secondary stage, where the curtains part and
reveal tableaux as the_ BROWNIE'S _song calls for them.[16]
He stands at back, unseen. Raise curtain before the end of verse
describing picture._]

[Footnote 16: See note, p. 119.]


BROWNIE'S SONG

Air: "Fly, Little Birds."[17]

[Footnote 17: "Songs and Games for Little Ones" (p. 89). See
Suggestions for Carols, p. 315.]

     Come, Christmas dreams, from Fairyland!
     Come, at the beckoning of my wand.
     'Tis Christmas Eve, so bring with you
     Bright holly-berries and mistletoe, too.

     I. Now first we have, all full of glee,
     A youth well known to you and me.
     His fondest hopes have now become
     Reality--he's found a plum!

Tableau: Jack Horner.

     II. Dear Santa Claus we've always known,
     But Mrs. Santa, full of fun,
     Helps her good husband every year,
     Or else he'd never get done, I fear.

Tableau: Mrs. Santa Claus.

     III. When Santa Claus was young and gay,
     And full of fun, like boys to-day,
     He learned that youth's the key to joy,
     And so, you see, he's still a boy.

Tableau: When Santa Claus was young.

     IV. This little lad, with happy smile,
     Of toys and candies has a pile.
     Good Santa filled his stocking, so--
     A Merry Christmas he has, I know.

Tableau: "Merry Christmas."

     V. But there are children not far away,
     Who scarce know the meaning of Christmas Day.
     O share with these, ye whose plenteous store
     Can fill a dozen homes or more.

Tableau: "No Christmas."

     VI. The Christmas Waits, in times of old,
     Sang carols sweet, though the night was cold,
     And wandered thus, from door to door,
     Till morning dawned, in days of yore.

Tableau: The Christmas Waits. [_The curtain does not rise until the
verse is ended, then shows empty stage. The_ WAITS _begin
their carol behind the scenes, marching single file till the first
couple is opposite the opening, when they turn, join hands, and enter
two by two. The march of the_ WAITS _may be as simple or
as elaborate as desired, or as the size of the stage permits. Or
they may walk to the footlights, and stand there during a part of
their song. The smallest couple should, of course, lead. The stage,
darkened for the earlier tableaux, should be made bright for this
march. At the end of the march, the_ WAITS _pass out as they
entered, and the back curtain is dropped._][18]

[Footnote 18: Carol used by Waits: "Noël! Noël! the Christ is born"
(p. 62, "Songs and Games for Little Ones"). No better marching song
can be found. See Suggestions for Carols, p. 315.]

  [_The_ BROWNIE _comes forward and stands by_
  TED, _tapping him with the wand._

BROWNIE. Merry Christmas, Ted! It has come at last! [_Rushes
away and vanishes in chimney._]

TED [_sits up, stretches, yawns, rubs his eyes, and looks
around_]. Why! I do believe I've slept here all night! [_Sits on
table._] And, my! maybe you think I haven't been dreaming! Guess I'll
go see what time it is. [_Goes to door, turns, and sees stockings._]
Jiminy Christmas, just look at those stockings! [_Exit._]

  [_Enter_ NURSE _with duster. Sees stockings._

NURSE. Well, well! did I ever! Santa Claus has been pretty
good to them this year.

MARJORIE [_without, calling_]. Maggie! Maggie! Mamma says we
may have our stockings right off now. Please bring them to us, quick!

NURSE. That I will, Miss Margie, fast as ever I can! [_Lifts
them down._] Crammed full, I declare! and heavy!--heavy as that
good-for-nothing Bridget's cake!

  [_Exit_ NURSE. _Enter_ BROWNIE, _cautiously
  following her to door._

BROWNIE [_peeping out_]. I've got to see the end of this
experiment! [_Flies back to chimney and hides._]

  [_Enter_ NURSE.

NURSE [_dusting_]. Old Santa Claus is mighty good to these
children. Fills up stockings like those, and then comes himself and
brings a tree on top of all that. They must be pets of his.

  [_Enter_ TED _dejectedly, sits down, and drops
  his head on his arms._

NURSE. Dear, dear! whatever is the matter, Master Ted?

TED [_darkly_]. Oh, go downstairs, Maggie, and you'll see!

NURSE. Mercy on us! what's happened? [_Shakes him._]

TED. Oh, dear, oh, dear! the children don't like their
stockings!

NURSE. What's that you say?

TED [_very despairingly_]. Oh, go away! Go downstairs, and
you'll see.

NURSE [_in tragic tones_]. Such a thing never happened in
this blessed house before! [_Rushes out._]

TED [_sitting up_]. Oh, dear, what shall I do about it? It's just
dreadful, and it's all my fault. [BROWNIE _pokes his head out._] They
don't want my things, either, or I'd be glad to give them all I got.
[_Puts his head down again. Enter_ KITTY, MARJORIE, _and_ ROBIN,
_disconsolately. Girls sit by fire_, ROBIN _at table._]

ROBIN. Well, Kitty, do you think Santa Claus couldn't _read_
our letters?

KITTY. I don't know _what_ to think!

MARJORIE. Well, how could he make such dreadful mistakes?

ROBIN [_rubbing his eyes_]. Didn't bring one single thing I
asked for--didn't bring a thing but books and puzzles!

KITTY [_elbows on knees and chin in hands_]. Brought me a
box of fishing tackle--and I just _hate_ to fish!

MARJORIE [_putting handkerchief to eyes_]. He gave me big
rubber boots--and I don't _like_ to wade in the brook--I'm afraid of
_snakes_!

  [TED, _in the depths of woe, slips to the floor
  and rests his head on his chair._

ROBIN. Don't see why Ted feels so badly--Santa Claus gave
him everything he asked for!

KITTY. Yes, and Rosy's stocking was all right. I'm glad she
got what she wanted--bless her little heart!

MARJORIE [_suddenly_]. Oh, Kitty, what shall we do when
Santa Clans comes and asks us how we liked them?

KITTY. I don't care--I _can't_ thank him for those horrid
old fish-hooks!

ROBIN [_with decision_]. I'm just going to tell him he can
take his puzzles and give them to some other boy!

  [_Enter_ FATHER _and_ MOTHER, _sharing the
  general gloom._

FATHER [_in a puzzled tone_]. It's the most singular thing!

MOTHER. I never heard of Santa Claus making a mistake before.

FATHER. Two empty cigar boxes in my stocking!

TED [_aside, dismally_]. Those were for Robin and me to make
lanterns of!

FATHER. I'm sure I don't know who wants those!

MOTHER. And a roll of the muslin I make sails of for the
boys' boats, in my stocking! With some old rags!

TED [_aside again_]. Kite-tails!

FATHER. Well, Santa Claus has certainly lost his mind!

MOTHER. Well, he'll be here very soon, and perhaps we shall
find out what these queer presents mean. [_Looks at her watch._]
Come, children, you must get your faces washed, and look as bright as
you can for him.

FATHER. Perhaps, after all, it's just some joke of his.

  [_Exeunt all but_ TED.

TED [_jumping up_]. I know! I'll see Santa Claus first, and
_beg_ him to take back these things---- [_Runs to fireplace, calling
softly._] Oh, Santa Claus! Santa Claus! _do_ hurry! [_Sleigh bells in
distance._] Oh, Santa Claus!

SANTA CLAUS [_up chimney_]. Who's that I hear calling me?

TED. It's me--me--me! Ted Bird! Oh, _please_ hurry!

SANTA CLAUS. Yes, yes! But this chimney's such a tight
squeeze! [_Loud jingling._]

TED. Oh, please be quiet! Please don't make such a noise!

  [_Enter_ SANTA CLAUS, _through fireplace, bowing
  low to_ TED.

SANTA CLAUS. Not make a noise? I'd just like to know who has
a better right to make a noise than I?

TED. Oh, yes, I know, but I _must_ speak to you before the
others come in! [_Pulls up a chair, stands on it, and puts his arm
across_ SANTA CLAUS' _shoulders._]

SANTA CLAUS. What's all this secrecy about?

TED. It's just this, Santa Claus. The Brownie let me help
him last night, and I told him such nice things to put in the
stockings, and now nobody likes them, and everything's in a terrible
muddle!

SANTA CLAUS. Oho! So you've been finding out that it isn't
so easy, after all, to give people what they want, have you?

TED. But, Santa Claus, I truly thought they would like it,
and now it's just dreadful! What shall I do? If you'll only give them
what they _do_ want, you can take back all my things! I wish you
would! Don't you think you could, just for this once? [ROSE
_runs in._]

ROSE. Oh, Santa Claus! Santa Claus! [_Exit, calling._]
Come, Papa, come, Mamma, here's Santa Claus! Robin! Marjorie! Kitty!
[_Enter all. The older children hang back_, ROSE _runs to_
SANTA CLAUS _and stands by him._]

FATHER [_shaking hands with_ SANTA CLAUS]. How do
you do, sir, how do you do?

MOTHER. We're very glad to see you again, Santa Claus.
[_Motions others to come_, NURSE _also urging them in
pantomime._]

SANTA CLAUS [_patting_ ROSE'S _head, and looking
at other children_]. I hear there are some children here who weren't
pleased with what I brought them. How's this? [_Children turn away,
and hang their heads in embarrassment._]

SANTA CLAUS [_to_ FATHER]. What does this mean? Can
you explain it, Mr. Bird?

FATHER. Well--a--you see, the stockings really weren't
filled after your usual thoughtful manner.

SANTA CLAUS [_bursts into a loud laugh, at which the
children turn in injured astonishment_]. Well, well! That's a good
joke!

KITTY [_in an injured tone_]. We didn't think it was a joke
at all, Santa Claus.

SANTA CLAUS. Well, my dear, you will when I tell you about
it. You see, I had a new helper, last night, and it wasn't to be
expected that one so new to the business wouldn't make some mistakes.
Well, this one made a good many,---- [_to_ TED] didn't he?

TED [_dolefully_]. I should think he did! He didn't do
anything else at all!

SANTA CLAUS. But when he found out about it, he felt very
badly, indeed,---- [_to_ TED] didn't he?

TED. He never felt worse in his life!

SANTA CLAUS. So he came to me and begged me to fix the
matter for him, and I've agreed to do it. He never suspected that I
knew about it before he told me, but I did know, all the time, and
so I've come prepared to make it up to you for all the trouble Ted
caused----

ALL. _Ted!_

SANTA CLAUS. Yes, Ted. [_With pretended fierceness._] He
meddled with my business last night.

CHILDREN [_shocked_]. Oh, Santa Claus!

SANTA CLAUS. But I'm going to forgive him, because I think
he learned a good many things about Christmas while he was at it. And
I never _could_ bear to see anyone unhappy when I pay my yearly call,
so come along, children, come, Father and Mother Bird, and we'll see
if we can't find something to suit you all under the branches of my
Tree![19]

[Footnote 19: See note on Tree, p. 314, and Tree-song, p. 315.]

  [_Unveiling of Christmas Tree follows. Children
  mingle with audience, and general
  distribution of presents takes place._


NOTES ON COSTUME, SETTING, AND PRESENTATION

For the parents, nurse, and children, ordinary costumes. Adult parts
taken by older girls and boy. Ages of children as indicated in cast.

BROWNIE. Wears a close-fitting suit of dark brown canton
flannel, with trimmings of lighter brown or tan--a small collar,
cuffs, and a belt with long points. The shoes are long, with points
turned up at the toes, and the cap, close-fitting, hides the hair
and covers the neck at the back, but allows the ears to show. It is
finished with a point (stuffed and wired to keep it upright) which
comes from the back and curves above the head.

All the Brownie's actions and motions should be startlingly sudden
and swift. He should alternate between absolute stillness, and a
quickness like a wild bird's.

A great deal of humor can be put into the scene of disappointment
over the stockings, especially by the older girls and boy who play
the adult parts.

Prepare a double set of stockings, one empty, the other filled; the
Brownie carries out the empty ones, and returns with the full ones.
As these are not examined on the stage, they may be stuffed with
anything that is most convenient. Have in readiness a row of small
hooks on the mantel, for hanging them.

For SANTA CLAUS' costume, see note, p. 313.


COSTUMES IN THE "DREAM"

JACK HORNER. May be dressed, if desired, in Kate Greenaway
style, but ordinary costume is all that is required. Jack recites the
nursery rhyme, at the end pulling a large plum out of a brown paper
pie.

MRS. SANTA CLAUS. A plump little girl in a long dark dress,
white apron and kerchief, big white cap with wide frill, and large
spectacles on her nose. One hand holds the corner of her apron full
of toys, the other is stretched out as if dispensing gifts to the
children.

YOUNG SANTA CLAUS. Little boy in boots, thick coat, toboggan
cap and mittens, well covered with white cotton snow, and sprinkled
at the last moment with diamond dust. He stands with one hand on a
tall red chimney, the other just lifting his heavy pack of toys.
Make chimney by covering a long dry-goods box with red, and painting
bricks with ordinary black ink. Set on stage for this tableau.

"Merry Christmas." Little boy, daintily dressed, his arms full of
toys, with a drum, a horse, etc., piled at his feet.

"No Christmas." A very ragged boy and girl. The boy stands with his
left arm around his little sister, his right hand holding hers. The
child looks up into his face confidingly.

The Christmas Waits. Four boys and four girls between six and
twelve years of age. These children may be elaborately dressed,
after Seventeenth Century pictures, or very simply--the girls in
white kerchiefs and caps, the boys in short capes of any dull black
material, with steeple hats, made of cardboard covered with black.
These children should have good voices for the carol, "Noël! Noël!
the Christ is born!"[20] March as described in text.

[Footnote 20: See note, p. 315.]

These tableaux are arranged on a small stage or platform behind scene
at back, upon which the light is concentrated, the main stage being
darkened. Properties should be in readiness, and the children must be
taught to take their poses quickly and without noise.

For this small stage or platform a kindergarten table serves
excellently, covered with dark green, a step being placed for the
use of the Waits in their march. If practicable, a curtain made
to match the scene, and rise for the tableaux, may be used, but
plain curtains, hung like portières, and parting in the center, are
also effective. Attention should not in any way be drawn to this
curtain, in order that the first tableau may come as a surprise to
the audience. The point of chief importance is that, whatever the
arrangement of the curtain, it should work silently and without
hitch.



A PURITAN CHRISTMAS

IN TWO ACTS


CHARACTERS

  MISTRESS DELIGHT GOODSPEEDE.
  ROGER    }
  MYLES    }
  NATHAN   } Her children.
  PATIENCE }
  PRUDENCE }
  EAGLEFEATHER, son of an Indian chief.
  ELDER JONATHAN HOPKINS     }
  DEACON WILLIAM PORTER      }
  GOODMAN JOHN TURNER        }
  DOMINIE PETER COBB         }
  GILBERT APPLETON, a hunter }
  MISTRESS SUBMIT WELLS      } Colonists
  MISTRESS PRAISEVER PORTER  }
  DESIRE PORTER              }
                             } and
  REUBEN TURNER              }
  GERSHOM PORTER             }
  JARED PERKINS              } Children
  JANE PORTER                }
  PRISCILLA WELLS            }

_The action takes place in a small New England village, not far from
Boston, in the early days of the colonies._

[Illustration: PRUDENCE]

[Illustration: EAGLEFEATHER]


A PURITAN CHRISTMAS

Suggested by a story in _St. Nicholas_ for December, 1880, by S.J.
Prichard.[21]

[Footnote 21: By courtesy of Miss K.A. Prichard and The Century
Company.]


ACT I

TIME: _Evening of December 18th._

SCENE: _Kitchen in_ MISTRESS GOODSPEEDE'S _cottage, a simple and
bare little room. Open fireplace[22] [R.], with exit beside it
supposed to lead to loft. Back R., door; L., window, opening upon a
desolate winter scene. L., door, leading to another chamber. Down L.,
a spinning-wheel. Furniture, a few plain chairs and stools, and a
settle. By the window a table where little_ PRUDENCE _and_ PATIENCE
_are washing the supper dishes._ PATIENCE _stands upon a stool in
order to reach the dishpan more easily_, PRUDENCE _wipes the dishes
and lays them on the table._

[Footnote 22: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]


PATIENCE [_severely_]. Prudence, if thee's not very careful,
I know thee'll drop the platter!

PRUDENCE. Oh, no! Patience, I'm being very careful. I
wouldn't let it drop for anything. It's Mother's very best platter,
too.

PATIENCE. And if thee broke it, who knows if dear Mother
could ever get a new one? She hath told me many a time she brought it
with her from Old England, and she saith the like cannot be found
here--even in Boston town.

PRUDENCE [_gives it an admiring look, then lays it
cautiously on the table_]. I'm sure it's the most beautiful platter
that ever was seen. Are there many more dishes, Patience, dear?

PATIENCE [_in a motherly tone_]. No. Poor little maid, I
fear me thou'rt very weary. Here--just these cups, and I'll help
thee. [_Gets down from stool and helps to wipe one or two cups._]
Where are the boys, I wonder? You and I, Prudence, can never, never
reach to put the dishes away on the shelf.

PRUDENCE. No, but brother Roger or Myles can do it. Mother
says they grow like tall weeds.

PATIENCE. And the parson says they are brave striplings.
[_Sighs._] I would I were tall and strong. Then I should never be
afraid of----

PRUDENCE [_looks fearfully over her shoulder_]. Afraid of
_what_, Patience?

PATIENCE [_putting her arm around_ PRUDENCE]. Oh,
never mind, Prudence, dear, not afraid of, of--_anything_.

PRUDENCE [_pushes her back and shakes her finger_], I know,
Patience, thee was going to say--Indians! Oh, Patience, doesn't thee
wish Mother'd come home? [_Lays her head on_ PATIENCE'S
_shoulder._ MYLES _and_ NATHAN _pass the window._]

PATIENCE. Never mind, sister, here come Myles and Nathan.
[_Enter the boys._] Myles, has thee seen Roger?

NATHAN. Roger has gone to fetch our Mother home.

PRUDENCE [_going to table_]. Oh, Myles, won't thee please put the
dishes up for us? Patience and I are far too little. [NATHAN _and_
PRUDENCE _carry dishes one at a time to_ MYLES, _who puts them on
mantel._ PATIENCE _wrings out her dishcloth._]

MYLES. Where is Mother, Patience?

PATIENCE. Mistress Submit Wells hath a fever, and after
supper Mother went to see if there was aught she could do to help.

NATHAN [_looking out of the window_]. I see Mother and Roger
coming up the hill now.

PATIENCE. Quick, Nathan! Empty the pan for us!
[PATIENCE _opens the door for_ NATHAN, _who carries
pan out._ PATIENCE _hangs up dishcloth in haste._] Mother
must find everything neat when she comes.

  [_Re-enter_ NATHAN, _putting pan in cupboard
  or under table._

MYLES [_mockingly_]. Thou art a great housewife, Patience.

PRUDENCE [_joyfully_]. Here they are!

  [_Enter_ MOTHER _and_ ROGER. PRUDENCE,
  PATIENCE, _and_ NATHAN _gather about her
  while she takes off her cape and follow her
  to the door (L.) when she puts it away._
  ROGER, _hanging up his hat, goes to fire._

PATIENCE. How did thee find Mistress Wells, Mother?

MOTHER. Much better to-night, daughter.

PRUDENCE [_catching at her skirts_]. Thou'lt not go back,
then, Mother?

MOTHER. No, little Prudence, not to-night.

ROGER. It's fearsome cold out. Do stir the fire, Myles.
[_Warms his hands, while_ MYLES _stirs fire._]

NATHAN. Then come sit down with us by the fire, Mother. Thee
surely won't work any more to-night?

MOTHER. I am willing, Nathan, but I must be knitting. With
three great lads who wear out so many stockings, I am kept more than
busy, even if the good parson did not exhort us never to be idle.
[_Exit and re-enter with knitting._]

PATIENCE [_drawing up her_ MOTHER'S _chair and
arranging stools_]. Here, Mother, here's thy big chair. Prudence and
I will get our stools. Oh, Roger, do get out of the way! Make haste!
Thee's such a giant thee'll block the firelight out entirely.

  [ROGER _gets up and stands before the fire,
  while the_ MOTHER _sits down_, PRUDENCE
  _beside her with a corncob doll and_ PATIENCE
  _at her knee, also knitting._ MYLES
  _sits with his back against the chimney and_
  NATHAN _lies at full length before the
  fire._

ROGER [_good-humoredly_]. What a pity thee didn't name that
child _Im_patience, Mother. It would become her so much better.

MOTHER [_while_ PATIENCE _bends her face low over
her knitting_]. Does thee think it would make it any easier for her
to be good, Roger?

ROGER. Well, I'm glad thou gavest us good sober English
names. I'm sure 'twould never help me to be good if I had been named
Hate-Evil, like Elder Hopkins' son. Think of it--Hate-Evil Hopkins!

MYLES. And if Father had called me Love-the-Truth or
Have-Courage, instead of naming me after our fine Captain Standish, I
know I never would have tried half so hard to be brave and truthful.

MOTHER. _That_ was what Father cared for, Myles, whatever
thy name might have been.

ROGER. One of us is fitly named, at any rate, Mother, and
that is thyself, Mistress Delight Goodspeede! [_Bows._]

PATIENCE. Yes, Mother _is_ our Delight.

MYLES. And everybody's else, too.

MOTHER [_laughing_]. Take care, children, you will make me
vain, and then the parson will preach a whole sermon about vanity,
and call out in the midst of it, "Delight Goodspeede, stand forth!"

ROGER. How terrible! [_All laugh._]

NATHAN. He calleth vanity a light and shallow thing, but
I'll warrant me he would turn his hour-glass at the least four times
while he discoursed upon it.

MYLES. More terrible still!

  [_All laugh again. A knock at the door._
  ROGER _goes to answer it_, NATHAN _sits up
  with interest, and_ PRUDENCE, _who has been
  walking her corncob doll up and down,
  rushes to her_ MOTHER'S _chair._

ROGER [_his hand on the lock_]. Who knocks?

INDIAN [_without_]. Eaglefeather!

ROGER [_turning to his_ MOTHER]. Mother, 'tis the
Indian boy you helped when he was wounded last winter. May I let him
in?

MOTHER. He hath always been friendly. Open for him, Roger.

ROGER [_opening the door_]. Come in, Eaglefeather! Thou'rt
right welcome.

  [_Enter_ INDIAN, _bow in hand._ MYLES _and_
  NATHAN _go to him._

MOTHER. What does he want, Roger? Mayhap he is hungry.

ROGER [_pointing to his mouth_]. Hungry, Eaglefeather? Want
something to eat? Bread?

INDIAN [_shakes his head_]. No hungry. Braves go hunt.
[_Draws his bow._] Kill much, much, much deer. [_Spreads out his
arms._] No hungry; cold. [_Folds his arms and shivers._] Can warm?
[_Boys bring him to fire._]

MOTHER. Yes, indeed; make room for him, boys.

MYLES. He can stay as long as he likes, mayn't he, Mother?

MOTHER [_smiles and nods at the boy_]. Yes, we know he is
our friend. We trust him.

NATHAN. Doesn't thee remember how he taught us to shoot, and
make baskets for thee and the girls?

INDIAN. Hmph! Eaglefeather teach young brave much more some
day. Many, many new thing.

NATHAN. Oh, that is good news. What things, Eaglefeather?

INDIAN. Eaglefeather not tell. Eaglefeather show, to-morrow.
Tired now. March long, long time.

MOTHER. Yes, poor lad. Let him rest now, boys.

  [INDIAN _lies before fire_, ROGER _and_ MYLES
  _as before_, NATHAN _behind_ MOTHER'S
  _chair._

ROGER. Thou'rt always the one to think of making folks
comfortable, Mother. What would Mistress Wells say if she saw
Eaglefeather here now?

MYLES. He never would be beside _her_ kitchen fire.

NATHAN. Not if he was frozen stiff.

MOTHER. For shame, boys; Mistress Wells hath been very kind
to us.

PATIENCE. I think she is a very sour-visaged woman, and I
can't see why thee wants to help her.

  [MOTHER _gazes thoughtfully into the
  fire._

ROGER [_watching her_]. I know what Mother is thinking of!

MOTHER. Tell us, then, Roger, if thou be a wizard.

ROGER. Mother is thinking that in Old England this is
Yule-tide----

MOTHER. Verily, I believe thou _art_ a wizard, Roger, for
thou'st guessed aright!

MYLES _and_ NATHAN. Tell us about the Yule-tide,
Mother.

PRUDENCE. Is _this_ the Christmas day, Mother?

ROGER. No, Prudence. It's the twenty-fifth that is
Christmas. Isn't it, Mother?

MYLES. Just a week from to-day?

MOTHER. Yes, children, just a week from to-day it will be
Christmas in Old England.

PATIENCE. But why did Mistress Wells make thee think of
Christmas?

MOTHER. 'Twas what Myles said about Mistress Wells and
Eaglefeather here. 'Twas because Christmas in my father's home in Old
England was the time of all others when people did kind and friendly
deeds, when poor folks came to the houses of rich men without fear of
being driven away, and our homes were open to all who needed food and
warmth.

PRUDENCE [_wonderingly_]. Why, then, Mother, I think it must
have been like heaven!

NATHAN. Mother, doesn't thee sometimes wish we were all back
in England once more?

MOTHER [_earnestly_]. Never wish that, my son.

MYLES. Not after all the bitter cold winters and hardships
here, Mother?

MOTHER. 'Tis the very hardships we have endured that will
build up a new and better England for us here, Myles---- But the Old
Christmas was a happy time.

  [EAGLEFEATHER, _who has been sleeping, sits
  up, and from this point listens intently._

ROGER. Won't thee tell us more about it, then?

MOTHER. I've told thee many times already, Roger, how the
great Yule-log was brought in and lighted on Christmas Eve--such a
monster log that it would burn until Twelfth Night. We always saved
a bit of it, then, to light the next year's log. The old folks said
that was for luck. All the young folks went out into the forest to
gather the Christmas greens, holly, mistletoe, and long festoons of
ground pine for wreaths. Ah, it was merry work, and the great hall
in my father's house was a brave sight when we had decked it in the
green. And on Christmas day we had our Christmas bough covered with
shining candles and bright gifts for each other.

PRUDENCE. How beautiful, Mother!

MOTHER. And we were awakened at dawning by the poor children
of the village singing their joyous carols beneath our windows.

MYLES. How I wish I could hear them!

ROGER. The singing in our meeting on the Sabbath isn't very
joyful, is it, Myles?

MYLES. Beshrew me if 'tis. This is the way the elders and deacons
stand and sing. [MYLES _and_ ROGER _stand side by side, eyes closed
and hands folded before them, droning an old psalm tune._][23]

[Footnote 23: As the boys would hardly have been permitted to finish
their song, the mother may leave the room before they begin, coming
back to reprove them sharply when it is over.]

Tune: "Windsor."

     My days consume away like Smoak
       Mine anguish is so great.
     My bones are not unlike a hearth
       Parched and dry with heat.

     Such is my grief I little else
       Can do but sigh and groan.
     So wasted is my flesh I'm left
       Nothing but skin and bone.

     Like th' Owl and Pelican that dwell
       In desarts out of sight
     I sadly do bemoan myself
       In solitude delight.

     The Ashes I rowl in when I eat
       Are tasted with my bread
     And with my drink are mixed the tears
       I plentifully shed.

MOTHER [_rising_]. Roger and Myles, silence! I will not have
this wicked mocking of our good elders. Haven't you heard the parson
tell the story of how the bears ate the children who mocked Elisha?

ROGER. Forgive us, Mother, we meant no disrespect.

MYLES. But, verily, the sound of the singing maketh me
almost as sad as the sight of the bears could.

NATHAN. But, Mother, why do the good fathers never allow us
to have a Christmas?

ROGER. There can be no wrong in the things thou'st told us.
Peace and good will and neighborliness.

MOTHER. But that was not all, Roger. With the feasting and
merriment came much that the good Puritan Fathers did well to abolish.

PRUDENCE [_stands at_ MOTHER'S _knee_]. But,
Mother, isn't a birthday always a happy day? [MOTHER _nods
and smiles._] Then I should think the Lord Christ's birthday would be
the very happiest day of all, and the good parson would like to have
us sing and be joyful and glad.

MOTHER [_kisses her_]. Thou'rt too little to understand it
yet, my Prudence. [_Rises._] Come, we have sat too long with our
talking. If our candles are not soon out, the tithing-man will be
tapping at our door and reproving us. [_Leads the two little girls
and_ NATHAN _to door (L.)_]. Come, children. Myles, see that
the fire is safe. Roger, is the door fast? [MYLES _and_
ROGER _attend to the fire and the door._]

INDIAN. Must Eaglefeather go now?

MOTHER. Does thee think, lad, that savage though thou art,
I would drive thee out into the bitter night? No, there is too much
Yule-tide in our hearts for that! I have no bed for thee, but lay
thee down by the fire and welcome. [_Begins to wind the clock._]
Boys, bring in some straw for a bed---- Stay a moment. Straw will not
do. A chance spark from the fire might light it, and burn the house
above our heads. There is an old mat in the shed without. See if you
can find it.

  [_Exeunt all three boys_; MOTHER _takes down
  candles from mantel and slowly extinguishes
  one; holds the other in her hand, absently
  snuffing it. Stands facing audience._

MOTHER [_musingly_]. I told little Prudence she was too young to
understand, yet with my years, am I quite sure that I understand it
myself? No, the good Fathers can never crush and kill the loving
Christmas spirit. [_Enter boys, quietly arranging mat, on which_
INDIAN _stretches himself._ ROGER _goes to fasten door._] Why should
little children _not_ be joyous and glad on the holy day? Why should
not I _help_ them to celebrate it? [_Hesitates, then firmly and
decidedly._] I believe--I _will_ do it! Boys, come here. [_Boys come
to her side._ REUBEN TURNER _and_ GERSHOM PORTER _pass window, glance
in curiously, then bend close, listening to all that is said._]
Roger, what would thee and Myles say to a Christmas bough of our very
own?

MYLES. Oh, Mother!

ROGER. Does thee mean truly, Mother?

MOTHER. Of a truth I do mean it, Roger.

ROGER. But, Mother, they will persecute thee----

MYLES. And drive us all into the wilderness----

ROGER. And with Father away on his ship, who could take care
of thee?

MOTHER. I have come into one wilderness before, Myles. I am
not afraid.

ROGER. But how can we do it, Mother?

MOTHER. I will go up to Boston town to-morrow--I can easily
walk there and back again before 'tis dusk--and buy what little
things I may for gifts. I hear that a ship has but now come into port.

MYLES. Doesn't thee wish it was Father's vessel, Roger?

ROGER. _Then_ wouldn't we have a Christmas!

MOTHER. 'Twill be many a weary month before Father's ship
returns, I fear. But whatever this bark may be, she hath surely
brought some small trinkets that will do for us. I'll find them and
bring them home with me. Then on the day before Christmas thou and
Myles must go into the woods and cut a small evergreen, as perfect a
one as you can find. At dark on Christmas Eve you can bring it home,
and when the children are in bed we will dress it. Then, early on
Christmas dawn, before the neighbors are stirring, we will light it
and wake the little ones.

ROGER. But, Mother, they will surely find us out!

MYLES. That Reuben Turner is always spying upon us. And so
is Gershom Porter. [_Boys at window dodge below the sill._]

ROGER. And, Mother, they think thou art only half a Puritan
now, because thou canst sometimes smile and art not always stern and
sour like the rest.

MYLES. And they say thou art vain and frivolous because thou
keep'st brazen fire-dogs and candlesticks instead of iron ones.

ROGER. And dost not dress thy daughters in solemn black.

MOTHER [_laughing_]. Do they say so? What a list of sins!
[_Seriously._] With thee and Myles to help me I am not afraid.
We will have our Christmas bough--no, not a bough, but a whole
_tree_--if we needs must light it at midnight and cover the window
with blankets! Now get quickly to bed in the loft. 'Tis shocking late!

  [_All turn to go, boys, R._, MOTHER _to door
  (L.)._

MYLES [_running after her_]. Mother, Mother! won't thee
teach us some Christmas carols, some _real_ joyful ones--so I can
forget about those bears?

MOTHER. Yes, yes, Myles. Now go quickly. This shall be the
first Christmas in New England.


CURTAIN


ACT II

TIME: _Before dawn of December 25th._

SCENE: _Same as before. Stage quite dark except for
firelight. Window covered with a blanket. Lights high on one
side at back to represent moonlight when door is opened. Enter_
MOTHER _[L.] with a lighted candle. Goes to door [R.]._


MOTHER [_calling_]. Roger! Myles! Make haste. [_Looks at
clock, arranges fire, examines blanket hurriedly._]

MYLES [_softly_]. We're coming, Mother. [_Enter_
MYLES _and_ ROGER _(R.)._]

ROGER. Are the others waked yet, Mother?

MOTHER. Yes, they are dressing. Quickly now, bring in the
tree whilst I see if they need help. [_Exit (L.), leaving candle on
mantel. Boys open outer door._]

ROGER. How cold it is. See, Myles, the moon hath not yet set.

MYLES. Yes, yes. Come, Roger. [_Disappear (L.)._]

  [REUBEN TURNER _and_ GERSHOM PORTER
  _at door, look cautiously in, then peer
  around after the boys._

REUBEN [_softly_]. I see naught of any Christmas bough.

GERSHOM. Yet we surely heard them planning---- How angry the
parson would be. I believe he would even drive them away like the
Quakers.

REUBEN. My father bade me look and bring him word if what
they said was true.

GERSHOM. Beshrew me, if they haven't covered the window so
that none may see them.

  [MYLES _and_ ROGER _heard returning with exclamations
  "Have a care!" "Gently
  now!" etc._ REUBEN _and_ GERSHOM _hide
  themselves without. Enter_ ROGER _and_
  MYLES _with the tree already decked and
  fastened in a small wooden box, which they
  place in center of stage. Their backs
  turned_, REUBEN _and_ GERSHOM _appear
  again at door, hold up their hands in horror,
  whisper together, and make signs of
  caution. Watch until_ MOTHER _appears,
  then they vanish._

MYLES. There: we got it in quite safely, Roger. Dost think
the Christmas boughs in England could have been prettier?

ROGER [_at door_]. Mother, we're ready now.

  [_Enter_ MOTHER, _taking candle again._

MOTHER. Roger, Roger! shut the door at once, careless boy!
Art mad? [ROGER _fastens door._] The children are nearly
ready and grow impatient. Make torches, both of you, and help me to
light the candles.

  [_Boys take splinters of wood from the fireplace
  and all go about the tree, lighting
  candles, arranging gifts more firmly, etc.,
  while_ PATIENCE _and_ PRUDENCE, _without,
  sing "Waken, Christian Children."_

WAKEN, CHRISTIAN CHILDREN[24]

[Footnote 24: See note on Carols, p. 315.]

(From "Christmas Carols New and Old," Novello & Company.)

     Waken, Christian children,
       Up, and let us sing,
     With glad voice, the praises
       Of our new-born King.

     Come, nor fear to seek Him,
       Children though we be;
     Once He said of children,
       "Let them come to Me."

     In a manger lowly,
       Sleeps the Heavenly Child;
     O'er Him fondly bendeth
       Mary, Mother mild.

     Haste we then to welcome,
       With a joyous lay,
     Christ, the King of Glory,
       Born for us to-day.

     (There are additional verses, and this hymn is to be found
     in various collections. A slightly different version is in
     Eleanor Smith's "Songs for Little Children," Part I.)

NATHAN [_without_]. Can't we come now, Mother?

MOTHER. One moment, children!

PATIENCE. It grows light, Mother. I'm afeared. Mustn't we
hasten?

MOTHER. Presently, presently! Is all ready, Roger?

MYLES. Yes, every candle.

MOTHER [_going to door (L.)_]. Come, now!

  [_Enter_ NATHAN, PATIENCE, _and_ PRUDENCE
  _(L.), the girls singing first verse of their
  song._

PATIENCE [_breaking off_]. _Oh_, Mother!

NATHAN. How beautiful!

PRUDENCE. Oh, Mother, it feels like a dream!

MOTHER [_bending over her and leading her near_]. It is no
dream, little daughter. Come near and see.

  [PRUDENCE _timidly touches one branch with
  her finger._

PRUDENCE [_turning quickly and looking up to her_
MOTHER]. Oh! it _is_ real!

MYLES. Of course it is real. A real Christmas Tree.

ROGER [_folding his arms_]. Now I feel like a real
Englishman!

NATHAN. Is this like the boughs thee remembers when thee was
a little girl, Mother?

MOTHER. As much like as I could make it, Nathan. Except that
I like this one even better.

PATIENCE. Oh, see the pretty presents! Oh, did Eaglefeather
make these lovely baskets for us?

MYLES. Yes, and that's why he wouldn't let thee see what he
was working on.

NATHAN. But where _is_ Eaglefeather, Myles?

ROGER. We can't think where he is. He didn't come back last
night.

PATIENCE. Oh, I don't want him to miss it!

MYLES. Hark! [_A bob-white is heard without._] That's his
whistle now.

MOTHER. Open cautiously, Myles.

  [MYLES _and_ ROGER _open door a little and
  close it as soon as the Indian has slipped
  through._ PATIENCE _and_ PRUDENCE _run
  to draw him to the tree._

PATIENCE. See, Eaglefeather! Just see our Christmas Tree!

PRUDENCE. Isn't it _beautiful_, Eaglefeather?

INDIAN. Beautiful! Eaglefeather think like many stars!
[_Points to candles, then touches something shining._] Like sun
shining on snow fields.

MYLES. Now, Mother, can't we sing our carol?

MOTHER. Yes, Myles, and then it will be more than ever like
Old England.

  [_All sing "Come Ye Lofty." At the end of
  second verse a sound of great knocking,
  shouting, and calls of "Open! Open!
  Mistress Goodspeede."_ PATIENCE _and_
  PRUDENCE _hide behind their_ MOTHER,
  NATHAN _stands at her side_, MYLES _and_
  ROGER _seize sticks, and_ EAGLEFEATHER
  _draws a small tomahawk._

PATIENCE _and_ PRUDENCE. 'Tis Indians!

ROGER. 'Tis no Indians, 'tis the colonists!

MYLES. They've found us out!

  [_Noise continues._

TURNER _and_ PORTER. Open! open there!

MISTRESS WELLS. I see the light----

DESIRE PORTER. It shines through the cracks here----

DOMINIE COBB. Verily none need hope to conceal evil!

TURNER [_knocking louder_]. Open! open!

MISTRESS PORTER. Shut in like wolves----

GERSHOM. Yea--like wolves in a cage----

REUBEN. I told thee the window was covered.

JARED. Mayhap the house is afire!

ELDER HOPKINS. Hold, friends! [_Silence without._] Mistress
Goodspeede, in the name of the _Governor_ I command you to open for
us!

ROGER [_looking to his_ MOTHER]. _Must_ I, Mother?

MOTHER [_huskily_]. Open for them, Roger.

  [ROGER _opens the door and all but_ GILBERT
  APPLETON _press in. Chorus of scandalized
  exclamations, "Oh, oh!"_

PORTER. What is the meaning of this, woman?

DOMINIE COBB. Do not attempt to deceive us!

TURNER. Answer.

MISTRESS WELLS. She hath not a word to say for herself.

MISTRESS PORTER. Ah! we always knew she was not one of the
elect!

REUBEN. And they have even one of the hateful savages with
them!

GERSHOM. Who would harbor the wretches?

DESIRE [_pulling her mother's sleeve_]. But, Mother, see how
pretty it all is!

PRISCILLA. Oh, the beautiful tree! And gifts, too!

JANE. I would it were my little tree. Doesn't thee wish so,
Desire?

DOMINIE COBB. Dost see, woman, how swiftly thy ungodly
example doth work to corrupt these wenches?

MISTRESS PORTER. Silence, Desire! [_She and_ MISTRESS
WELLS _try to hustle the children out of sight of the tree._]

ELDER HOPKINS. Speak, woman, and tell us the meaning of this.

PATIENCE [_timidly_]. Please, sir, 'tis--'tis--'tis a
Christmas Tree!

PORTER. We knew it!

TURNER. Aye, my son Reuben hath told us. He heard them
speaking of it not a week since.

PORTER. And Gershom, too--they have kept good watch upon
these evil-doers.

MYLES [_angrily, to_ REUBEN]. So thou wast
listening at the window. _Sneak!_

REUBEN [_blustering_]. And may not the King's subject walk
upon the King's highway, Sir Cocksparrow?

ROGER [_shaking his fist at boys_]. Methinks 'twill take
the King's soldiers to protect thee when once we catch thee----

GERSHOM. We'll show thee, thou blusterer, if we be not as
free as thou!

  [TURNER _and_ PORTER _seize_ REUBEN _and_
  GERSHOM _and draw them back._

MOTHER [_sternly, touching_ ROGER'S _shoulder_].
Peace, Roger and Myles. Is this the Christmas spirit we talked of but
now?

ELDER HOPKINS [_severely_]. Woman, dost thou forget that we fled
from England for this very cause, that we might escape and save our
children from just such sinful folly as this? How darest thou, with
these baubles and fripperies, bring temptation into our very midst?
I know of no punishment too severe for such evil examples! Not
the ducking-stool, nor the stocks, nor even banishment itself----
[_Shakes his finger threateningly, at the same time going a step
nearer to her. Enter_ GILBERT APPLETON, _remaining in background._]

EAGLEFEATHER [_springing before_ MISTRESS DELIGHT
_with lifted tomahawk_]. Stop! stop! No hurt good Squaw. Listen!
Me tell. Me Eaglefeather. Father big chief--Bald Eagle. She good,
kind squaw. Take Eaglefeather in, feed, make warm, make hurt foot
well. Teach Eaglefeather be good Indian. Eaglefeather go home camp.
All braves say "This night go burn village." Eaglefeather find Bald
Eagle. Say, "Not burn village. Good people. Indian's friend. Good
squaw. Kind to Eaglefeather." Bald Eagle listen. Eaglefeather tell
about Tree. Say this Christmas Day. Good Day. Nobody hurt nobody.
Bald Eagle listen. Say tell braves. Not let braves burn village. Now,
now! Not hurt kind squaw! [_Folds his arms proudly._]

GILBERT APPLETON [_coming forward_]. Every word the lad says
is true, sir!

ALL. Gilbert Appleton! What does he mean! How does thee know?

GILBERT. Because I was there. Good friends and neighbors,
you all know that I, Gilbert Appleton, have been much among the
savages. I know their speech, and their ways. Bald Eagle's tribe have
always seemed friendly, but two days ago, when I was hunting with my
match-lock near their camp, they made a prisoner of me and kept me
there until just now. What Eaglefeather here hath told you is true.
They would have burned the village if he had not begged the chief
for the sake of Mistress Delight's great kindness to spare it. Good
neighbors, 'tis my belief that this little Christmas tree hath saved
us all! [_During his story all hang upon his words, drawing close and
shuddering at the thought of a massacre, and sighing with relief at
the end._]

ALL. Strange! Wonderful! Did'st ever hear the like!

GILBERT. And, furthermore, the savages, who meant to make me
guide them by the quickest way into our village, were moved to set me
free at midnight and I have but now made my way back to you!

TURNER. Unheard-of forbearance!

DOMINIE COBB. Can we credit our ears!

MISTRESS WELLS. 'Tis like a miracle!

MISTRESS DELIGHT. 'Tis not so strange, either. We do not,
we cannot know how much power even a very little good will and
friendliness may have. I but thought to make my children happy, and
because I loved my dear home in Old England I told them of customs
there.

PRUDENCE. Mother, I would like to tell the good Elder
something.

PATIENCE [_aside_]. He will only say thou art a forward
wench, Prudence.

PRUDENCE. Will he, Mother? Will he frown and say, "Children
should be seen and not heard"?

ELDER HOPKINS. Nay, my little maid. I will listen gladly.

  [PRUDENCE _goes to him and puts her hands
  in his._

PRUDENCE [_earnestly_]. We didn't think it could be wrong,
good Elder. Mother said it was the Lord's birthday, and we couldn't
help being glad about that, could we? And Mother taught us a song
about it.

ELDER HOPKINS. Then will you sing it for us, little maids?

  [PRUDENCE _and_ PATIENCE, _hand in hand,
  sing their carol once more, while_ MYLES
  _and_ ROGER _go to_ REUBEN TURNER _and_
  GERSHOM PORTER _and in pantomime apologize
  and shake hands with them._

MISTRESS PORTER. Good friends, these little maids and their
song do touch my heart.

TURNER. Truly, when we sought to bring truth and
righteousness to the new land, I fear we were forgetting charity.

JARED. Was Christmas like this in Old England?

JANE. My Mother would never tell me of it.

PRISCILLA. I would it were so here!

PATIENCE. Mother made the tree for us, but we'd like to give
you all something from it. May we, Mother?

MOTHER. We will gladly share it if the good Elder will
forgive any harm we may have done.

ELDER HOPKINS. Mistress Delight, I have been thinking that
perhaps we have grown over hard and stern.

  [_Unhindered now, the children draw close to
  the little tree._

DEACON PORTER. There was much that was good in the old ways,
after all.

ELDER HOPKINS. I will take a sprig in memory of the happy
Christmases in Old England.

MISTRESS WELLS. Perhaps we may e'en keep what was good in
the old ways here in this New England. I'll take a bit of green, too.

ALL THE OTHERS. And I, too. And I!

MISTRESS DELIGHT. For the sake of the happy Christmases of
old, and the homes we left, and more than all for the sake of the
very first Christmas Day of all, let us sing one of the dear old
carols we have loved so long.

ELDER HOPKINS. Willingly, Mistress Delight.

  [_All sing "Come Ye Lofty,"[25] and while singing
  come forward and take bits of green
  from the Tree, which_ GILBERT APPLETON,
  REUBEN TURNER, _and_ ROGER _cut for
  them._

[Footnote 25: See note on Carols, p. 316.]


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME AND STAGING

Grown people, whose parts are taken by boys and girls from seventeen
to twenty, and children, are dressed alike--men and boys in
knee-trousers, coats with square white collars and cuffs, large belt-
and shoe-buckles, broad-brimmed felt hats, with crowns high and flat.
If the costumes are to be fully carried out, all should wear wigs,
cropped round. Or they may be worn by the Elders only.

Women and girls wear plain dark-colored dresses, with rather full
skirts, the children's as long as their mothers'. White kerchiefs,
capes, and hoods, of dark colors with bright scarlet or gray-blue
linings. The hoods are large and loose, with the edge turned back,
giving color about the face. Mistress Delight, Patience, and Prudence
wear white caps instead of the hoods.

Pictures of Puritan costumes are easily found in the Perry or Brown
collections.

These costumes are best made of canton or outing flannel. Buckles can
be made of cardboard and covered with silver paper, or cut from tin.

INDIAN. Suit made of tan canton flannel, fringed at edge of
coat, sleeves, and trousers, with a band of fringe up and down arms
and legs. He wears moccasins, beads, and a feather head-dress on
his black wig. He carries bow and arrows, and a wooden tomahawk. A
quiver can be made of a good-sized mailing-tube. He must have Indian
make-up.

HUNTER'S dress is more like the Indian's than like the
colonist's, but he does not wear his hair long, and his suit should
be trimmed with furs, not fringe. Fur cap with tail hanging down at
back. He carries an old gun, not a bow.

Mistress Delight's children range from Roger, twelve years old, down
to little Prudence, five. The Indian is a boy of Roger's age. The
hunter, sixteen or seventeen.

The little Christmas tree should be a very "homemade" one. Strings
of popcorn and cranberries, spools and balls covered with bright
paper, may be used for decorations, Indian baskets, and such toys
as the little Puritans might have made, or any little quaint and
old-fashioned trinkets to carry out this idea. Only white candles
should be used, and these fastened on in the simplest and most
unobtrusive manner.

The singing of the old psalm should be made as doleful and droning,
even nasal, as possible. It can be sung to the Scotch tune of
"Windsor," which is to be found in most hymn-books. The number of
verses used may be determined by the amusement and applause of the
audience. The boys who sing it must on no account allow themselves to
laugh.

The charm and picturesqueness of the stage will be greatly enhanced
if quaint old-time household articles can be borrowed or manufactured
for properties--bellows, lantern, candlesticks, andirons, an old
foot-stove--above all, a warming-pan, which the mother fills at the
fire and carries out when she takes the younger children to bed.
The dishes and platter so much admired by Patience should be rather
conspicuously ugly.

Finally, a word in regard to the old-time English. When the play
was first given it was feared that the children would find it a
stumbling-block, and that it would have to be dropped. Quite the
reverse proved to be the case, however, and the children all gave
their lines with delightful naturalness and evident enjoyment. This
has been equally true of other groups of children by whom the play
has since been given. They show no awkwardness in the use of the old
forms, but seem to feel that it carries them out of the everyday, and
makes danger and adventure real to them.



THE CHRISTMAS MONKS

IN THREE ACTS


CHARACTERS

  THE ABBOT                                    }
  FATHER ANSELMUS                              }
  FATHER GREGORY                               }
  FATHER AMBROSE, the Leech                    } The Brethren of
  FATHER SEBASTIAN                             } the Convent.
  FATHER FELIX                                 }
  FATHER HILARION, in charge of the comic toys }
  THE PRINCE.
  COURTIER.
  COURT LADY.
  GEOFFREY, 1st Page.
  HUMPHREY, 2nd Page.
  PETER                               }
  ROSALIA, Peter's Little Sister      }
  GILBERT, the Carpenter's Apprentice }
  ROBIN, the Forester's son           } Village children.
  WALTER, the Miller's boy            }
  ANNETTA                             }
  MARIANNA                            }
  MISTRESS SPINNING }
  PEGGY SPINNING    } Village mother and child.
  MISTRESS LONGLANE  }
  DOLLY LONGLANE     } From a distant village.
  PETER'S FATHER.
  PETER'S MOTHER.

[Illustration: THE PRINCE]

[Illustration: PETER AND THE PRINCE]


THE CHRISTMAS MONKS

From a story by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.[26]

[Footnote 26: By permission of Mrs. Freeman and of Lothrop, Lee &
Shepard Company.]


ACT I

TIME: _The 10th of April._

SCENE: _Country road leading by the Convent. R., an angle of the
Convent Wall. On it a large sign trimmed with evergreens, "Wanted,
by the Christmas Monks, two good boys to assist in garden work.
Applicants will be examined by_ FATHERS ANSELMUS _and_ GREGORY, _on
April 8th, 9th, and 10th." Enter (R.)_ MISTRESS LONGLANE _and_ DOLLY,
_wearily, as if at the end of a long journey._ MISTRESS LONGLANE
_carries a large basket._ DOLLY _hangs back._


MISTRESS LONGLANE [_rather crossly_]. Now, Dolly Longlane,
what with your stopping to gather flowers by the roadside, or to
watch the clouds, or to listen to the birds in the hedges, we'll
never reach our journey's end. Make haste, now!

DOLLY [_tearfully_]. But, Mother, it's such a long, long
way, and I'm _so_ tired.

MISTRESS LONGLANE [_relenting_]. So you are, poor lamb.
Well, a few moments can't make a very great difference, so sit ye
down on the basket and take a rest. [_Puts basket down (L.), and
seats_ DOLLY _on it, wipes her own face, straightens her
bonnet, and then looks about her. Sees sign, at which she glances
indifferently, then with interest, at last with amazement. Reads
through, then takes out spectacles and reads again._]

MISTRESS LONGLANE. Now, what may be the meaning of _this_?

DOLLY. What is it, Mother?

MISTRESS LONGLANE [_reads sign to_ DOLLY]. The
Christmas Monks? What manner of men are the Christmas Monks? Here
comes some good dame from the village. I'll make bold to ask.

  [_Enter_ MISTRESS SPINNING, _with little_
  PEGGY _(L.)._

MISTRESS LONGLANE [_courtesying_]. Good morrow, Mistress.
Have you a moment to spare for a stranger in the country?

MISTRESS SPINNING [_courtesying_]. Yes, indeed, Mistress,
and right gladly. Make your manners, Peggy.

  [PEGGY _courtesies first to_ MISTRESS LONGLANE
  _and then to_ DOLLY, _who rises from
  the basket and courtesies, too._

MISTRESS LONGLANE. Why, Mistress, I am minded to ask the
meaning of this strange sign that hangs upon the wall.

MISTRESS SPINNING. Oh, you must indeed be a stranger in the
land if you have never heard of the Christmas Monks. If you have come
to make your home in our village, you'll soon learn, I'll warrant me,
that this is the home of the Christmas Monks who keep the gardens in
which all the Christmas toys are grown.

MISTRESS LONGLANE. The Christmas toys!

DOLLY. Why, I thought Santa Claus brought them all.

MISTRESS SPINNING. So he does, my dear. He takes them to the
children, of course, but this is the garden where he comes to load
his sleigh.

MISTRESS LONGLANE. You don't say!

PEGGY [_shaking her finger_]. You never can see inside, but
that garden is just full of toys. Oh, don't you wish we could peep
in! [_Both children run in search of holes or cracks, stretch their
arms towards the top, and stand on tiptoe, vainly, finally coming
back to listen to the conversation of their mothers._]

MISTRESS SPINNING. Yes, the Christmas Monks have a wonderful
garden with beds for rocking-horses, beds for dolls, beds for drums,
and picture-books and skates and balls. They do say so, that is;
of course, I've never seen the inside. And the seeds are just the
tiniest bits of dolls and drums and balls, and the rest of it. So
little that you can hardly see them at all.

MISTRESS LONGLANE. What do the Monks do?

MISTRESS SPINNING. Why, they plant the seeds, and take care
of the garden, and see that the toys are all ripe and ready for good
old Santa Claus by Christmas time.

PEGGY. And that's not all, Mother. They have turkey and plum
pudding _every_ day in the year! [_Hugs herself._]

DOLLY. Oh, my!

PEGGY. And it says "Merry Christmas" over the gate.

MISTRESS SPINNING. Yes, and every morning they file into
the chapel and sing a Christmas carol, and every evening they ring a
Christmas chime.

PEGGY. And they have wax candles in all the windows every
night.

MISTRESS LONGLANE. Why, it's like Christmas every day in the
year!

DOLLY. Aren't you glad we've come to live in this village,
Mother? [_Clasps her hands._]

MISTRESS LONGLANE. That I am, my dear. Why, it's enough to
make one laugh just to hear of it.

MISTRESS SPINNING. That it is, Mistress. You're quite right.
The Christmas Monks are so full of the Christmas spirit that it lasts
them all the year round, and they just go about putting heart into
them that get sad and discouraged. But I think I see some of the
children coming for the examination.

MISTRESS LONGLANE. Ah! Yes. That's to take place this
afternoon?

MISTRESS SPINNING. Yes, this is the last afternoon of it.
The good Fathers have already held two examinations and, will you
believe it? [_Coming closer and speaking very impressively._] They
haven't found two boys who are good enough yet, though they've
examined _hundreds_.

  [_Enter_ ANNETTA _and_ MARIANNA, _talking together._

ANNETTA. Oh, Marianna, don't you wonder whom the good
Fathers will choose?

MARIANNA. Yes, indeed, I do, Annetta. Why, there aren't very
many more boys to examine.

ANNETTA. No, nearly all the boys in the kingdom have tried.

MARIANNA. But they're all naughty in some way or other.

ANNETTA. Oh, don't you wish it was two _girls_ the Fathers
wanted?

MARIANNA. Oh, don't I! Ssh! Here comes Peter with his little
sister Rosalia.

  [_Enter_ PETER _and_ ROSALIA.

PETER. Here are some flowers I picked for you, sister.

ROSALIA. Thank you, Peter.

PETER. See, sister, that's the sign, and the Monks come
right here to examine the boys.

ROSALIA. Oh, Peter, I wish they'd take you to work in the
Christmas garden!

PETER. There isn't much chance of that, I'm afraid. But,
come, sister, I'd better take you home. You might get hurt in the
crowd. [_Exit (L.)_, PETER _bowing politely as he passes the
women._]

ANNETTA. Marianna, why wouldn't Peter try?

MARIANNA. He's going to try to-day, I believe. He wouldn't
before because he is so modest.

ANNETTA. But he's the very best boy in the village, and so
good to his parents and his little lame sister!

  [_Enter_ GILBERT, ROBIN, _and_ WALTER; _all
  stand, hands in pockets, before the sign, and
  read it in silence._

GILBERT. I wish we had been examined yesterday. I hate not
to know about it.

ROBIN. Well, perhaps we'll have a better chance to-day.

WALTER. Yes, there aren't so many of us to choose from.

GILBERT. I suppose the boys that get in there can have all
the tops and balls they want.

ROBIN. Every day in the year.

WALTER. Why, all you'd have to do would be to pick them!

MISTRESS LONGLANE [_looking out L._]. Why, what's this
coming down the road?

MISTRESS SPINNING. Why, mercy on us, 'tis the Prince. He
must be coming to try the examination.

CHILDREN [_in hushed voices, crowding to see, peeping over
each other's shoulders_]. The Prince! The Prince! The Prince!

  [_Enter_ COURTIER.

COURTIER [_with an impatient gesture_]. Ssh--ssh--ssh! Out
of the way there! Make way for his Royal Highness!

  [_Stands aside, bowing. Enter_ PRINCE, _his
  cloak held by two pages, followed by the_
  COURT LADY, _by whom the_ COURTIER
  _takes his place. Villagers fall back, courtesying
  and bowing._ PRINCE _stands with
  folded arms and haughty air reading sign
  and looking about him. Pause._

PRINCE. Well, I see no Monks. Am I to be kept waiting here
all day?

COURTIER [_bowing low_]. Your Highness, the hour set has not
yet----

PRINCE [_interrupting angrily_]. I say I will not be kept
waiting. What will my father the king say when he hears I have been
kept standing in the highway with a rabble of common peasant children?

COURT LADY. Oh, your Highness, condescend to have a little
patience!

PRINCE [_more angrily_]. I will _not_ have patience.
Patience is not a virtue for Kings and Princes. [_Taps his foot on
the ground._]

COURT LADY [_nervously looking up the road_]. Oh, but think
of something else--think of--think what a pleasant day it is!

PRINCE [_scowling prodigiously_]. Pleasant day, indeed!

COURTIER. Here they come, your Highness!

COURT LADY [_full of relief_]. Oh, yes! Here they come. Here
they come!

  [_Enter_ FATHERS ANSELMUS _and_ GREGORY
  _(R.), followed by_ SEBASTIAN _and_ FELIX;
  _at same time enter_ PETER _(L.). Monks
  walk with hands clasped before them. Villagers
  all doff caps, bow, and courtesy.
  Even the_ PRINCE _is awed into respect. The
  Fathers look about smilingly._

GREGORY. Well, well, Brother Anselmus, there seems quite a
goodly number awaiting us to-day.

ANSELM [_rubbing his hands_]. Yes, Brother Gregory. I trust
we shall discover the right boys at last. Let me see. [_Looks about,
aside._] I suppose we should examine his Royal Highness first?

GREGORY. Truly, my Brother. Let us commit no breach of
etiquette.

ANSELM. Your Highness! [_Monks bow very slightly._
PRINCE _and attendants advance a little._] How old are you?

COURTIER [_haughtily_]. His Royal Highness has just
completed his eleventh year.

GREGORY. Indeed! And is he a good boy, as boys go?

COURT LADY. "As boys go," indeed! Why, his Royal Highness is
not to be mentioned in the same day with common boys!

ANSELM. Oh! Then you are not like other boys?

COURTIER _and_ COURT LADY [_bowing to_
PRINCE]. A wonderful child, your worships!

GREGORY. Then he doesn't often do anything wrong?

COURTIER. Wrong? Oh, _never_, your worship!

COURT LADY. He never did a wrong thing in all his sweet
life. [_Clasps hands and casts up her eyes._]

ANSELM. Is he diligent? What about his lessons?

COURTIER. He doesn't _need_ to study.

COURT LADY. A most brilliant intellect!

GREGORY. Well, well, well, Anselmus, I think we must try
this paragon. [_They put their heads together._]

GEOFFREY, 1ST PAGE. He just smashes his toys!

HUMPHREY, 2ND PAGE. And he beats his dogs!

COURTIER _and_ COURT LADY. Horrors! [_They turn and
each boxes the ear of the nearest page._]

GEOFFREY. And when he's angry he kicks and screams!

HUMPHREY. And he won't mind even the King, his father!

  [COURTIER _and_ COURT LADY _each clap a hand
  over a Page's mouth._

COURTIER [_aside to_ LADY]. Such disrespect!

COURT LADY [_aside to_ COURTIER]. Such indiscretion!

ANSELM. Your Royal Highness is accepted. Now, Brother
Gregory, we will continue the examination. First boy!

  [_The_ PRINCE _and his train fall back slightly._
  GILBERT _steps forward._

GREGORY. Your name?

GILBERT. Gilbert, the Carpenter's apprentice.

ANSELM. Are you a good boy?

GILBERT [_doubtfully_]. I guess so, sir.

GREGORY. Do you always speak the truth, Gilbert?

GILBERT [_stammering_]. W-w-w-well, nearly always.

ANSELM. Tut-tut-tut! That won't do at all. _Always_ speak
the truth, my boy. I am afraid we can't take you. Next.

  [GILBERT _steps back, hanging his head._ ROBIN
  _comes forward._

GREGORY. Name?

ROBIN [_in a small, frightened voice_]. Robin, the
Forester's son.

ANSELM. Don't be afraid, Robin. So you are the Forester's
son. Ah-h! Hum, hum-m-m! Are you kind to animals, Robin?

ROBIN. Oh, yes, sir. My father teaches me to be good to them
always.

  [GREGORY _bends over and whispers to_ ANSELM.

ANSELM. Robin, answer me truthfully. Did you ever rob a
bird's nest?

  [ROBIN _hangs his head and works his toes
  about._

ANSELM. Did you do this?

ROBIN [_rubbing his eyes_]. Yes, Father, I did.

GREGORY. Too bad, too bad. Now I _am_ sorry to hear this.

ANSELM. So am I, Gregory, but you see it won't do!

  [ROBIN _goes to stand by_ GILBERT, _still rubbing
  his eyes._

GREGORY. Next boy. [WALTER _steps forward._] Name?

WALTER. I am Walter, the Miller's boy, and I help my father
in the mill.

ANSELM. That is right, Walter; we approve of that.

GREGORY. You are diligent in the mill. How about lessons?

WALTER. Well--I go to school----

ANSELM. Are you at the head of your class?

WALTER. N-n-n-no, sir.

ANSELM. Second, then?

WALTER. N-n-no, sir.

GREGORY. Well, well, where are you, then? At the foot?

WALTER. Y-y-yes, sir.

ANSELM. Tut-tut! [_Shakes his head._] What a pity! Are there
any more boys, Gregory?

  [WALTER _crooks his elbow over his eyes and
  stands by_ ROBIN.

GREGORY. One boy, Brother Anselmus.

ANSELM. Ah! yes. I have seen this boy before, I think. Isn't
this boy named Peter?

PETER. Yes, sir.

MISTRESS SPINNING [_coming suddenly forward and
courtesying_]. And a better boy never lived, your reverence, if
you'll excuse me for mentioning it.

ANSELMUS. Certainly, Dame, certainly. We shall be very glad
to hear what you know about Peter.

MISTRESS SPINNING. It's just this I know, sir. He's a good,
hard-working, honest boy, sir, and very obedient to his parents.

PEGGY. He takes good care of his little sister----

MARIANNA. And he never teases little girls----

ANNETTA. And he's at the head of his class in school----

GILBERT. And the teacher likes him----

ROBIN. So do all the boys----

WALTER. So does everybody in town!

GREGORY. Well, well, Brother Anselmus, it does seem as if we
had found a good boy at last, doesn't it?

ANSELM. Yes, Brother Gregory, this is surely the right boy
for us. And now that Peter and the Prince are accepted, let us return
to our Convent and resume our exercises there. Come, boys.

  [_Children all clap loudly. Monks form a procession_,
  PETER _falls in behind, and the_
  PRINCE _gives his hand haughtily to be
  kissed by his attendants, then struts after.
  Exeunt, the Monks chanting._


CURTAIN


ACT II

TIME: _One week before Christmas._

SCENE: _Inside the garden. At back, the wall. Against it (R.), the
Doll bed. Left, small trees with toys. Down Center and across Front,
garden paths._ PRINCE _and_ PETER _in Monks' robes and sandals._
PRINCE _sitting idly on a wheelbarrow._ PETER _working with rake in
the Doll bed. Tools, watering can, etc., scattered about._


PRINCE [_crossly_]. Well, I don't see how you can _stand_
this place, Peter. I've had more than enough--I'm just sick of it, I
am.

PETER [_still working_], I'm sorry, your Highness.

PRINCE. Yes, that's what you always say. I wish you would
stop that everlasting work and come here and tell me why you're
sorry? Why in the world do you keep on working and working? I believe
you like it. Come here, I tell you!

  [PETER _comes forward and leans on rake to
  talk with him._

PETER. Well, your Highness?

PRINCE. That's right, Peter. Now you just tell me what you
like about it so awfully much.

PETER. Why, your Highness, you know I'm a poor boy and I've
always had to work. This is such pretty work--it's just like play.
And I never really had enough to eat until I came here to live. I
tell you it's horrid to be hungry! Then the good Fathers are so kind,
and I love the Christmas carols and the chimes--why, I think it's a
beautiful place, your Highness. Don't you like to watch the toys grow?

PRINCE. Oh, they grow so slow. I expected to have a
bushelful of new toys every month, and not one have I had yet. And
these stingy old Monks say that I can only have my usual Christmas
share, anyway, and I mayn't pick them myself, either. I never saw
such a stupid place to stay, in all my life. I want to have my velvet
tunic on and go home to the palace and ride on my white pony with the
silver tail, and hear them all tell me how charming I am. [_His words
become nearly a wail, and he rubs his fists in his eyes._]

PETER [_patting him sympathetically on the shoulder_]. Never
mind, your Highness. It's pretty nearly Christmas now, and in a few
days the toys will be ready to pick. Come along, and I'll help you to
water those tin soldiers over there--you didn't get that done, did
you?

PRINCE [_jumps up angrily and stamps his foot_]. No, and I
won't do it, either. As for you, Peter, you're _tame_. If you had a
grain of spirit you'd hate it just as much as I do. There! [_Runs
off angrily (L.)._ PETER _looks after him, shakes his head,
gathers tools together neatly, takes up watering-can, and exit (R.).
Enter_ PRINCE.]

PRINCE [_looking after_ PETER]. There he goes now
to water those horrid soldiers. I'd like to melt them all down to
lumps of lead--I would! And Peter--he's enough to drive me crazy. I
won't stay here a bit longer, so I won't. I'll get that ladder out of
the tool house and get over the wall and go home. [_Starts off._] But
I'll take some Christmas presents with me, I know! [_Exit (L.). Enter
(R.)_ SEBASTIAN, FELIX, ANSELM, _and_ GREGORY.]

ANSELM. Well, Brethren, we have every cause to rejoice in
the fine flourishing condition of our garden. Peter has kept the beds
wonderfully clear of weeds.

GREGORY. Yes, and I think I may say that our garden has
never been so fine as this year. It was a happy day for us when we
found Peter.

FELIX. Indeed it was. How neatly he keeps the garden paths
raked.

ANSELM. And what a good disposition the child has!

FELIX. Always ready and willing----

SEBASTIAN [_who has stood at one side with folded arms and
dejected countenance_]. Peter. Peter. Peter. But what of the Prince?

ANSELM. Alas, yes. You are right, Brother Sebastian. What of
the Prince?

GREGORY. Oh, I'm not utterly hopeless of the Prince, my
Brethren.

SEBASTIAN. Brother Gregory is always over-hopeful.

FELIX. It is my solemn opinion, Brethren, that the Prince is
the very worst boy in the Kingdom.

ANSELM. Oh, no, Brother Felix!

SEBASTIAN. I say he is! Think of the first day, when we
gave him Noah's ark seed to sow, and he went into a passion because
it wasn't gold-watch seed! [_The Monks nod regretfully._] We set him
a penance to kneel on dried pease in the chapel all afternoon. And
hasn't it been so every other day in the year since?

ANSELM [_soothingly_]. Yes, Brother Sebastian, I fear it
has. [_Cheerfully._] But, then, you know, this has come hardest on
you--hasn't it, my Brethren? For, you see, the Prince exhausted our
list of penances so soon and you have had to remain in solitary
confinement in your cell in order that you might invent new penances
for him. Hasn't it been too hard for poor Brother Sebastian,
Brethren?

GREGORY. Yes, yes, poor fellow, he looks quite thin and worn.

FELIX. And to think how we were deceived in that boy! How
his people praised him!

SEBASTIAN [_gloomily_]. I fear his Royal relatives are sadly
deceived in him.

GREGORY. But let us think of pleasanter subjects, for I have
hopes that the softening influences of the Christmas season will do
great things for our misguided young friend. Let us give our minds to
the contemplation of the Doll bed. How lovely the little creatures
are!

FELIX. And how they will delight the hearts of the little
girls.

ANSELM. Why, why, why, what is this? Here is a vacant place!

GREGORY. Oh, yes, Brother, that doll didn't come up. I
noticed the place long ago.

FELIX. And so did I, but I neglected to speak of it.

GREGORY [_to_ ANSELM, _who continues to shake his head over the
missing doll_]. Come, come, Brother, let us be glad that such cases
are rare. Now, my Brethren, we will go on with our inspection. [_They
move towards exit, then, looking back, discover_ SEBASTIAN _still in
gloomy revery._ FELIX _goes back, puts an arm across his shoulder,
and guides him gently after the others._]

GREGORY. Poor fellow! Poor fellow! [_Exeunt slowly (R.).
Enter (L.)_ ROSALIA.]

ROSALIA [_looking about with delight_]. Oh, the lovely
dollies. [_Examines them._] And there comes Peter! [_Enter_
PETER _(R.)._ ROSALIA _goes to meet him._] Peter! Peter!

PETER [_amazed_]. Oh, you darling! How in the world did you
get in here?

ROSALIA. I just crept in behind one of the Monks. I saw him
going along the street, and I ran after him, and when he opened the
big gates I just crept in. Here I am, Peter!

PETER [_worried_]. Well, I don't see what I am going to do
with you, now you _are_ here. I can't let you out again, and I don't
know whatever the Monks would say!

ROSALIA. Oh, I know! I'll stay out here in the garden. I'll
sleep in one of those beautiful dolly-cradles over there, and you can
bring me something to eat.

PETER. But the Monks come out very often to look over the
garden, and they'll be sure to find you.

ROSALIA. No, I'll hide. Oh, Peter, see that place where
there isn't any dolly?

PETER. Yes, that doll didn't come up.

ROSALIA. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll just stand here
in her place and nobody can tell the difference. [_Steps into place
among dolls._]

PETER. Well, I suppose you can do that. [_Looks at her and shakes his
head anxiously._] Of course, I'm glad as glad can be to see you, but
I'm afraid the Monks wouldn't like it. Now I must go and put away my
tools. Be very quiet, sister. [_Exit_ PETER _(L.), coming back to see
if_ ROSALIA _is safe. Waves his hand to her. Exit. A pause in which_
ROSALIA _looks about her, feels the curls of the doll next her, etc.,
etc. Enter_ PRINCE _(L.), carrying small ladder twined with green,
and a huge basket of toys. Goes to wall, places ladder, tries its
firmness, and begins to climb, finding much difficulty with basket._
ROSALIA _watches furtively with much interest and excitement._]

PRINCE [_at top of wall_]. Now, if I can just get down
on the other side. [_Works cautiously but ineffectually to get
the basket over. Looks over wall joyfully._] Oh, I see some of my
father's people riding by! I'll get them to help. [_Waves hand
frantically._] My lord! My lord! Hither! [_Voices beyond wall: "The
Prince!" "The Prince!" "His Royal Highness!" "Make haste, your
Highness! have a care!" At which the_ PRINCE _contrives to
fall over the wall, dropping the basket inside._]

PRINCE [_without_]. Oh, I'm not hurt! Let us get away!
Hasten, my lords, hasten! [_Voices die away in the distance._]

ROSALIA [_horrified_]. What a naughty boy! [_Enter_
PETER _(L.)._] Oh, Peter, the Prince has run away.

PETER [_hurriedly examining ladder, etc._]. Run away?
[_Mounts ladder and looks over wall._] He surely has! There he goes
on the horse with that gentleman! [_Watching, thoughtfully._] I was
afraid he would try that! But this ladder [_getting down_] has always
been kept locked up. Oh, too bad,--most of the toys are broken.
[_Gathers them up and takes ladder._] Keep very still, sister. I must
put these away and tell the Abbot and the other Fathers what has
happened. [_Exit (L.). Enter_ ANSELMUS _(R.), walking up and
down the path, hands behind him in deep thought. Takes turn near_
ROSALIA, _notices her, starts, bends down to look closer,
puts on spectacles, and gazes with astonishment._]

ANSELM. Why, what is this! Hoc credam! I thought that wax
doll didn't come up. Can my eyes deceive me? Non verum est! There is
a doll here--and what a doll! On crutches and in poor homely gear!
[_Puts out a hand to touch her._]

ROSALIA [_starting_]. Oh! [ANSELM _starts so
violently that his wreath falls off in the path._]

ANSELM [_gasps, trying to recover himself_]. It is a
miracle! The little girl is alive! Parva puella viva est. I must
summon the Abbot and the Brethren at once. We will pick her and
pay her the honors she is entitled to. [_Picks up wreath, settles
it distractedly upon his head, and hurries to path (R.), where he
motions to someone without._]

ANSELM [_with excitement_]. Hilarion! Brother Hilarion!
Hither!

  [_Enter_ HILARION _in hot haste._

HILARION [_panting_]. Did you call, Brother Anselmus?

ANSELM. Summon the holy Father Abbot at once--say to him that it is a
matter of importance. [_Exit_ HILARION, _running._ ANSELMUS _returns
to look at_ ROSALIA _again, muttering._] A matter of importance--a
matter of importance.

  [_Enter_ ABBOT _and all Monks._

ABBOT. At the wax doll bed, did you say, Hilarion? Ah, yes,
there is my son Anselmus.

ANSELM [_coming forward_]. Most holy Abbot, behold a
miracle. Vide miraculum! Thou wilt remember that there was one wax
doll planted which did not come up. Behold! in its place I have found
this doll on crutches, which is--alive.

MONKS. Alive! Strange! Wonderful!

ABBOT. Alive, did you say, Anselmus! Let me see her.
[ABBOT _bends over to see_ ROSALIA. _Monks crowd
around to see._]

ABBOT [_rising_]. Verum est! It is verily a miracle.

HILARION. Rather a lame miracle.

ABBOT [_reprovingly_]. My son, I fear the work in which you
have been engaged, to wit, taking charge of the funny picture-books
and the monkeys and jumping jacks, has rather thrown your mind off
its level of sobriety, and caused in you a tendency to make frivolous
remarks, unbecoming a Monk.

AMBROSE. I am the leech of the Convent. Let me look at the
miracle, most holy Abbot.

  [_All make way for_ AMBROSE.

ABBOT. Gladly, my son Ambrose.

AMBROSE [_examining_ ROSALIA'S _ankle_]. I think I
can cure this with my herbs and simples, if your reverence wills that
I should try.

ABBOT [_doubtfully_]. But I don't know. I never heard of
curing a miracle.

AMBROSE. If it is not lawful, my humble power will not
suffice to cure it.

ABBOT. True. We will take her, then, and thou shalt exercise
thy healing art upon her. [_Takes_ ROSALIA _up in his arms,
and leads the way, a Monk picking up the crutches._] We will go on
with our Christmas devotions, for which we should now feel all the
more zeal.

  [_Exit Monks (R.), singing. Enter_ PETER,
  _darting to place where_ ROSALIA _stood, then
  to look after the Monks, hands clasped in
  anxiety._


CURTAIN


ACT III

TIME: _Christmas morning._

SCENE: _The Convent chapel, decorated with Christmas greens,
candles, etc. A picture of the Madonna and Child wreathed in green.
On a daïs (back Center), in the_ ABBOT'S _chair, dressed in
white with a wreath on her head, is seated little_ ROSALIA.
_She sings a simple little Christmas hymn. Enter_ PETER,
_with an air of secrecy, sitting down at_ ROSALIA'S _feet._


PETER. Oh, sister, I feel so miserable!

ROSALIA. Why, Peter? I think it is just beautiful!

PETER. Oh, yes, of course it is beautiful, and that's the
very worst part of it. I mean, you know, that just because it is
so beautiful, and the good Fathers are so very dreadfully kind,
that I feel worse than ever. Oh, dear! I'm not saying what I mean a
bit, sister, but, you see, I hate not to tell the Fathers the truth
about you, and on Christmas day, too. You know they think that you
are a live doll, and a miracle, and you're no such thing. You're
just Peter's little sister, aren't you, pet? And they have been so
kind, and Father Ambrose has made your poor little ankle so nice and
well---- So it makes me feel horrid to think we're deceiving them.
Why, it's 'most as bad as telling a story.

ROSALIA [_patting_ PETER'S _shoulder_]. Poor Peter,
I'm so sorry!

PETER. What shall we do about it, sister?

ROSALIA. Why, Peter, I'll tell them. They're all so kind, I
don't think they will be cross.

PETER. Well, sister, I don't believe they will, either.
And it's Christmas day, so I want to be sure to do what is right.
And this is right--I am sure of that. Now I must run away; they'll
be coming soon. [_Exit_ PETER. _Sound of Monks singing in
the distance grows louder and louder. Enter Monks_, ABBOT
_leading, each bearing a tray full of toys for_ ROSALIA.
_Half the Monks march to the right, half to the left of her chair.
Monks hold out their presents to her._]

ROSALIA. Please, I'm not a miracle. I'm only Peter's little
sister!

FELIX, AMBROSE, _and_ SEBASTIAN. Peter!

ANSELM, HILARION, _and_ GREGORY. Peter's
little sister!

ABBOT. Peter? The Peter who works in our garden?

  [_Enter_ PETER, _standing unnoticed by door._

ROSALIA. Yes, Peter's little sister.

  [_Monks turn, each looking in the eyes of the
  one nearest._

GREGORY. Surely, here's an opportunity for a whole convent
full of Monks to look foolish.

ANSELM. Filing up in procession----

AMBROSE. With our hands full of gifts----

SEBASTIAN. To offer them to a miracle----

FELIX. And then to find out that this miracle----

HILARION. This famous miracle is nothing but Peter's little
sister! [HILARION _doubles up with laughter, but controls
himself as the_ ABBOT _lifts his hand for order._]

ABBOT. My children, harken to me. Haven't I always
maintained that there are two ways of looking at anything? If an
object is not what we wish it to be in one light, let us see if there
is not some other light under which it will surely meet our views.
This dear little girl is a little girl and not a doll, that is true.
She did not come up in the place of the wax doll, and she is not a
miracle in that light. But look at her in another light, and surely
she is a miracle--do you not see? Look at her, the darling little
girl, isn't the very meaning and sweetness of all Christmas in her
loving, trusting, innocent little face?

MONKS. Yes, yes, she is a miracle, a miracle, indeed!

  [_Monks come forward and lay the toys at
  her feet._ PETER _fairly hugs himself with
  joy._

ABBOT. And, Peter? Where is Peter?

PETER [_coming forward_]. Here I am, sir.

ABBOT. Peter, we feel so happy this beautiful Christmas
Day, that we must find some expression for our joy--we must surely
find a way to share such happiness with others. Run, my son, open
the Convent gates, and bid all the village people who wait there
for our usual gifts to enter and take part in our pleasure. [_Exit_
PETER _in haste._] Think, my children, what a gift we have
here for the poor parents of Peter and little Rosalia--this dear
little girl will be restored to them, not lame, as she was when she
wandered here, but well and strong and happy like other little ones.
Think of it, my children.

  [_Enter_ PETER, _leading his father and mother,
  who hasten to_ ROSALIA, _kneeling one on
  each side of her great chair. The rest of
  the villagers of Act I press in, and stand
  grouped at each side of the stage._

ABBOT. Welcome, welcome, my good people! A Merry Christmas
to you all!

VILLAGERS. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

  [_Amid the tumult enter the two_ PAGES. _They
  advance to the_ ABBOT, _and bowing, present
  a letter with large seals._

ABBOT. How, now! What's this? [_Breaking seal and reading
letter, the Monks showing deep interest._] My children, we have here
a message from His Majesty, the King. He tells us that his son, the
Prince, reached his palace in safety, and that he has come to feel
great regret for all the trouble and anxiety he caused the Christmas
Monks. He hopes that the Prince's repentance, though late, will help
to season our Christmas and make it a happy one. And his Majesty adds
that he finds great improvement in his son. Well! Well! this does
indeed add yet another happiness to our day. [_To the people._] And
I know you all, little and big, are just as happy as we are, for at
last the gates are open to the Convent of the Christmas Monks.

  [_All sing a Christmas carol._


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME AND PRESENTATION

(Mrs. Freeman's story of the same name, from which this little play
was taken, has delightful illustrations which would be of help in
making the monks' costumes. It appeared first in _Wide Awake_, Volume
16, and was later published in a collection of Mrs. Freeman's short
stories, entitled "The Pot of Gold.")

THE ABBOT (taken by an adult), and

THE BRETHREN of the Convent (boys, sixteen to eighteen)
wear long hooded robes made of white canton flannel. Greek patterns
in green are stenciled at hem of skirt and around the wide sleeves.
A rope of ground pine, or other Christmas wreathing, is worn for
a girdle, ends hanging, and the tonsures are made by wearing
close-fitting skull-caps of flesh-colored silk or sateen, with a
wreath of green at the edge.

When PETER and the PRINCE come to the Garden their
dress is the same, but their Greek borders should be smaller and
they wear no tonsures. They are boys of ten. Hoods of all are worn
hanging, except that of Brother SEBASTIAN, who in the 2nd
Act goes gloomily hooded. All wear sandals and white stockings.

As the story suggests neither country nor period, there may be a good
deal of latitude in the matter of costumes for the rest of the cast,
but the court party in the first act should be as resplendent as
possible.

THE PRINCE. Plumed hat, short trousers, slippers with bows,
coat with broad lace collar and cuffs. Very long cloak, borne behind
him by the

PAGES. Dressed alike in a style somewhat resembling the
Prince.

COURTIER. The same, with the addition of a short cape, and a
sword.

COURT LADY. Dress made with a train and a high beaded
collar. The boy and girl playing these parts are also Peter's Father
and Mother in the last act.

MISTRESS LONGLANE and MISTRESS SPINNING, and the
little Village girls wear large poke bonnets, old-fashioned shawls or
white kerchiefs, and mitts.

PETER. Neat, but old and faded blouse and knickerbockers.
Cap.

LITTLE ROSALIA. Quaint smocked dress, of soft blue, a
Persian border at hem, square neck, and short sleeves. (Or, white,
with blue borders.) Small cap, trimmed in the same way. She is lame
and walks with crutches.

PETER'S FATHER and MOTHER. Poorly and roughly
dressed.

GILBERT, the Carpenter's Apprentice. Blue denim apron.
Carries T-square.

ROBIN, the Forester's Son. Sleeveless green coat, over a
white shirt with full sleeves; full trousers; broad felt hat, turned
up on one side with a quill.

WALTER, the Miller's Son. White apron. Dusty felt hat.

(If preferred, instead of using the above suggestions for costumes,
the Randolph Caldecott pictures, or Kate Greenaway illustrations of
"Mother Goose," may be adopted as a scheme for dressing all but the
Monks.)

The entrance and exit of the Monks is always heralded by their
singing. Their song may be one of the well-known Christmas carols
containing a few Latin words, but a Latin chant is most effective,
such as can be found in the little Sunday-school hymnals of the Roman
Catholic Church. Suggestions for ROSALIA'S song and the
carol at the end of the play will be found on p. 315.

SETTING

For the Garden wall, a frame must be made sufficiently strong to bear
the weight of the Prince, and may need special bracing at the central
point where he climbs over. He uses a small ladder, preferably a
red-painted one, like those in children's ladder-wagon sets. The
framework of the wall may be covered with paper, but unbleached
muslin is much more substantial and lasting. On this is painted the
wall, representing either brick or stone, with a stone coping, all
quaintly stained and moss-grown. It is five or six feet in height.

The beds where the toys grow are outlined in green. Dolls as large
as possible should be used in the back row, in order to prevent the
contrast with little Rosalia from being too great. Smaller dolls may
be used in the front rows. The number depends on the size of the
stage and the possibilities for borrowing. They may be made to stand
with wooden braces, but it will be found convenient if milliners'
stands for displaying hats can be obtained, as they are light and can
be easily set in place. For the other bed, two or three small bare
bushes, on the branches of which can be fastened such toys as whips,
tin trumpets, etc. Small wheelbarrow, watering-pot, and other garden
tools scattered about.

For the last scene, the walls should be plain and dark in color. The
Abbot's chair is large and ecclesiastical, and Rosalia looks, in it,
like the doll for which the Monks mistook her. Two great candles, in
tall candlesticks, on the daïs beside her, are effective. No other
furniture.



THE SPELL OF CHRISTMAS

A CHRISTMAS PLAY, IN TWO SCENES


CHARACTERS

  SIR GILBERT UNDERHILL.
  LADY KATHERINE UNDERHILL.
  RUFUS   }
  RAFE    }
  CICELY  } Their Children.
  ALLISON }
  PHYLLIS, their orphan niece.
  GILLIAN }
  DICCON  } Servants.
  STEPHEN  }
  ANDREW   } Roundhead soldiers.
  WAT      }
  SIR PHILIP     }
  LADY GERALDINE } Ancestors of the House of Underhill.
  WAITS, who sing without.

  TIME: In the reign of Charles the First.
  SCENE: The old manor-house of the Underhills.

[Illustration: ALLISON

"Of a truth, I did hear their voices"]


THE SPELL OF CHRISTMAS


SCENE I

_A chamber or corridor in the Manor House. Door [L.]. Hangings on
wall._ GILLIAN _seated [R.], with the three children about
her, all working at wreaths and garlands, and singing an old carol.
Curtain rises on second verse. While they sing_, DICCON
_enters. Takes up sword or other piece of armor from table [L.] and
begins to polish it._

CICELY [_with a deep sigh_]. Good Gillian, methinks that
though we sang our carols o'er and o'er we could not make it seem
like Christmas-tide. Brother Rufus is gone away, and we may not even
say we miss him. I would I knew---- [_Chin on hand._]

GILLIAN. You would you knew what, little mistress mine?

CICELY. I would I knew what is wrong with us. Christmas was
ever such a merry season in this dear house.

RAFE [_wisely_]. 'Tis because my father goeth about wearing
such a stern face.

ALLISON. And Mother looketh _so_ sad.

CICELY [_confidentially_]. And I think cousin Phyllis cries
in her chamber sometimes.

DICCON [_mutters_]. Meseemeth we should all know right well
what aileth this place. [_Enter_ SIR GILBERT. _Stands in
doorway._] When he that was the very life and soul is missing from
the hearth----

GILLIAN. Hist, Diccon [_warning gesture_].

DICCON. ----and more than that, under a cloud----

GILLIAN. Be silent, I say, Diccon.

DICCON [_paying no heed_]. 'Tis young Master Rufus this
house needs so sorely, I'm thinking.

SIR GILBERT [_striding forward angrily_]. Silence, I say.
Have I not given command that my son's name shall not pass the lips
of any of my people? I will be obeyed in mine own house. Diccon,
hence! Thou canst spend thy days in the stables caring for my horses,
an thou'lt not learn to bridle thy tongue. Mayhap the dumb beasts
will teach thee a lesson.

DICCON [_bowing humbly_]. I crave pardon, Sir Gilbert. I but
thought----

SIR G. Enough. [_Turns to table. Exit_ DICCON,
_with an awkward bow._] Gillian, let this be a warning to you as
well. I have laid my commands--I will be obeyed. [_Exit._]

RAFE. 'Tis very hard to be just children, when anything's
wrong, I think. We may not know what our elders do know, and yet we
must be just as uncomfortable.

GILLIAN. Tst-tst, my lambs! Let us think of other things.
Shall we measure our garlands? [_Stretches out her green._]

RAFE [_measuring his against it, while_ CICELY
_and_ ALLISON _stretch theirs together_]. Indeed, 'tis soon
done, good Gillian. We've used up all our greens.

GILLIAN [_rising_]. I will see if Roger and Noll have
brought more for us. [_Exit._]

RAFE [_considering his garland_]. Would my garland measure
around the great pasty Dame Joan hath made for to-morrow's feast,
think you, Cicely?

CICELY [_laughing_]. The venison pasty, Rafe? Mayhap when
Dame Joan hath turned her back, we can try and see.

ALLISON. I fear mine will but reach around a very little pudding!
[_Enter_ PHYLLIS.] Oh, cousin Phyllis, cousin Phyllis, come see our
garlands!

PHYLLIS [_coming forward_]. Did my little Allison wreathe
all this long piece? [ALLISON _nods proudly._] That's brave
work, indeed.

CICELY [_arms around_ PHYLLIS]. Dear cousin
Phyllis, won't you stay and help us--and tell us why everyone is so
sad?

PHYLLIS [_frightened_]. Nay, dear, I must not, and you must
not be sad--'tis Christmas Eve.

RAFE. Yes, we know. But _why_ doth my father look so
stern----

PHYLLIS. Nay, nay--I may not speak of it. My aunt will be
sore displeased.

  [_Enter_ LADY KATHERINE.

LADY KATHERINE [_in doorway_]. Phyllis, why art idling here
with the children? To thy tasks, girl!

  [_Exit._

PHYLLIS [_turning hastily to follow_]. You see, sweethearts,
I must not tarry. But I wish good speed to your garlands. Farewell.
[_Exit._]

CICELY. Thou dost see, Rafe. Father will not let us speak of
brother Rufus, and Mother is so cross to poor cousin Phyllis.

ALLISON [_shocked_]. Nay, Cicely; Mother isn't cross. It's
naughty to say that.

RAFE. I think I know what it is all about. [_Very
confidentially. Girls draw their chairs close._] I think brother
Rufus ran away to the wars to fight for the King----

CICELY. But, Rafe, that can't be what displeaseth Father,
for Father is a soldier, too, and he himself will fight for our lord
the King, if so be the King needeth him.

ALLISON [_nodding her head with conviction_]. Father is the
most gallantest soldier in all the country.

RAFE. But I do think that is why Father is so angry with
brother Rufus.

CICELY. And why is Mother so--so unkind to poor cousin
Phyllis?

RAFE [_very solemnly_]. Because--because Rufus did say that
when he was come of age and was a man he would _marry_ cousin Phyllis!

CICELY. Oh! But _I_ think that's very, _very_ nice! Why
doesn't Mother like it, Rafe? They'd never go away to any other house
at all--and then, beside,--Allison and I could be their bride-maidens!

  [_Enter_ GILLIAN _with an armful of greens._

GILLIAN [_sitting down among them_]. Here's work for us all,
my pets. We must e'en make our fingers fly an we would finish our
task.

CICELY [_full of importance_]. Oh, good Gillian, Rafe doth
say----

RAFE [_trying to repress her_]. It's no use to ask Gillian,
Cicely. Didst not hear my Father tell her she mustn't talk of it?

GILLIAN. That's best, Master Rafe. Let Gillian tell you a
tale whilst we work.

ALLISON. A fairy-tale, Gillian? [_Whispers full of awe._]
Are the _fairies_ about to-night, dear Gillian?

RAFE. Not on Christmas Eve, Allison. They aren't, are they,
Gillian? Midsummer Eve is the fairies' night.

CICELY. And fairies have no power on Christmas Eve, and
witches can't charm you, nor cast their spells upon you----

RAFE. Because 'tis such a holy, holy night.

GILLIAN. Oh, but there be wonderful things that do befall on
Christmas Eve, Master Rafe. My old grandam used to say that when the
midnight bells ring, the cattle in the stables do kneel down to hail
the holy day!

CICELY. Oh, Gillian, _do_ they?

RAFE. Hast ever seen them, Gillian? Or hath thy grandam?

ALLISON. All the cows, and the sheep, and the little, little
lambs?

GILLIAN. Nay, sweetheart, I never saw them, but I was wont
to think, each Christmas Eve, that I would surely creep out to the
stables and keep watch.

RAFE. And did you?

GILLIAN. Oh, Master Rafe, in truth 'twas a pretty plan,--but
I was not a very brave little wench,--and it was so cold and dark and
fearsome: when the time was come, I was always fain to put it off
until the next year!

RAFE [_scornfully_]. Sooth! I would never do that!

GILLIAN. Nay, that I'll warrant, Master Rafe! But let
me tell thee what else my grandam hath told me. 'Twas about the
portraits in the long gallery in this very house.

  [_Enter_ DICCON, _with armful of wood for fire,
  which he piles upon the hearth._

CICELY. The portraits---- Oh, yes, Gillian. [_Draws close
to_ GILLIAN.]

RAFE. I know. Our great-great-grandfather and our
great-great-grandmother.

CICELY. Bethink thee, Rafe--what are their names? I do
forget.

RAFE. They are Sir Philip and Lady Geraldine Underhill. And
they lived right here in this very house.

DICCON [_turning from hearth_]. Yes, Master Rafe, they lived
in this house. He was a passing gallant gentleman, and fought for
the King, and she was as beautiful as he was brave, and as brave as
she was beautiful. And they say that in a great war his enemies came
to search this house for him, but he and my lady hid themselves in a
secret chamber that's long since forgot. But 'tis somewhere in the
house,---- [_looks about as if expecting to find door at once_] if a
body just but knew how to find the door----

GILLIAN [_in contempt_]. Nay, nay, Diccon. I'll warrant me
the Master knoweth where that door is.

DICCON. Mayhap Sir Gilbert doth know. But none else may find
it. Many's the time the lads ha' looked for it--many's the time.
[_Exit._]

  [RAFE _goes about for a moment, lifting hangings,
  etc., as if in search for door, but returns
  to_ GILLIAN'S _side to hear her answer
  to_ CICELY.

CICELY. But, Gillian, what was it thy grandam told about the
portraits?

GILLIAN. Oh, verily, my sweet. Thinking about the secret
door I had well-nigh forgot. My grandam said that if all the house
was still and sleeping, just on the stroke of twelve every Christmas
Eve, Sir Philip and my Lady Geraldine do move and breathe, step forth
from their picture frames, clasp hands, and move together in an
ancient dance!

RAFE. _Do_ they?

CICELY _and_ ALLISON. Oh-h-h! [_Drawing near to_
GILLIAN _with a little delighted shiver._]

LADY K. [_without_]. Gillian, Gillian! Come hither, wench; I
need thee.

GILLIAN [_rising_]. Anon, my lady! [_To children._] Think
of it, bairns--that fine brave gentleman and that beautiful lady,
stepping across the floors in the moonlight---- [_Exit, hand lifted
as if holding a partner's, taking stately dancing steps._]

CICELY. Oh, Rafe, think'st that Gillian speaketh true?

RAFE. Yes, I do believe her. Christmas is such a marvelous fair time,
Cicely, that I do think _any_thing wonderful might happen.

ALLISON. I would I could _see_ Sir Philip and Lady Geraldine
at their dancing.

CICELY. Oh, so do I! Rafe, dost think---- [_Hesitates,
afraid to speak her thought._]

RAFE [_boldly_]. I think--that if my lord and my lady do
dance--we shall see them this very Christmas Eve.

CICELY. Oh, Rafe, what dost mean us to do?

RAFE. When the great doors are closed at eleven o'clock--I
always hear Diccon making them fast--I'll sit up in my bed, so that
I can't by mischance fall asleep. Then I will wake thee and Allison,
and we will steal into the long gallery and hide ourselves.

CICELY. But if Sir Philip and Lady Geraldine see us, mayhap
they'll be displeased and not come forth.

RAFE. But if we go soon enough they can't see us, because
they don't come alive until twelve o'clock. Until the clock strikes,
they're only pictures, Cicely.

CICELY. Verily, I did forget.

RAFE. I mean to make sure the nursery door which giveth on
the back passage is left unlocked and open, or mayhap I might fail to
hear. Come, sister, bring your wreaths. [_Goes toward door._]

CICELY [_gathering up wreaths_]. Oh, Rafe, 'tis a wonderful
fine plan!

ALLISON. Thou'lt let me come too, Rafe?

RAFE. We'll all go. S-sh-sh, now, not a whisper to
anyone. [_Exeunt children in great excitement. Short pause. Enter_
RUFUS, _secretly (L.), stopping to look about and listen.
Crosses furtively to door (R.) and looks out. Enter_ PHYLLIS
_(L.), and as_ RUFUS _turns back into room, she sees him,
and with a low cry hurries to meet him._]

PHYLLIS. Oh, Rufus, Rufus--not _you_!

RUFUS. Yes, 'tis I, fair cousin. I prithee speak softly. I
would not have it known as yet that I am here.

PHYLLIS. But whence came you, Rufus? We thought you miles
away, with the King's troops----

RUFUS. My company made a secret march, across this valley,
and I thought to spend Christmas in mine own dear home. My Captain
gave me leave to come here to-night, and join him to-morrow eve. But
after I set out on my solitary march, a company of Roundhead rebels
sprang up from a copse by the way and gave chase to our men.

PHYLLIS. How knew you this?

RUFUS. I had come but a half-hour's walk, up the long hill,
and saw it all quite plainly.

PHYLLIS [_much troubled_]. But, Rufus, then you are cut off
from the King's men, for there be very many rebels and few loyal
hearts about us, in these parts.

RUFUS. I know, Phyllis. And, furthermore, though I would
not alarm thee, I must tell thee that I was seen by that treacherous
Farmer Gosling on the road hither, and I fear he may set others like
himself upon my track.

PHYLLIS. Oh, Rufus, you frighten me so--they will surely
come and take you.

RUFUS. Aye, they will try, dear cousin. But I've safe harbor
in my father's house, and when darkness comes I can put forth once
more and rejoin our men in the North.

PHYLLIS. A safe harbor, saidst thou! Thou little knowest---- Hark!
someone comes. Hide thee speedily, Rufus. Here, behind this curtain.
There--do not show thyself until I see thee again. [_Hides_ RUFUS
_behind hanging, and exit (R.). Enter_ SIR GILBERT _and_ LADY
KATHERINE _(L.)._ SIR GILBERT _sits moodily in chair by fire._ LADY
KATHERINE _stands before him._]

SIR G. [_as they enter_]. I tell thee, I will hear no more
of it.

LADY K. But, my lord, this day have I heard a rumor that a
band of King's men were near us--here in this nest of rebel enemies!
If there were fighting--if my boy Rufus were in danger, and I might
not succor him, 'twould go nigh to kill me. And so, my lord, I'm come
once more to crave pardon for him.

SIR G. I tell thee, it will not be granted thee. When the
boy disobeyed me and ran away I disowned him. I vowed he should never
enter these doors again.

LADY K. My lord, the lad was so eager to serve his King.

SIR G. [_springs up and paces the floor_]. Did I forbid
him to serve his King? Nay, when the time was come, he should have
gone with me, with horse and arms, in state befitting a gentleman's
son. And so I told him. I told him he was full young yet--the lad is
scarce turned seventeen. Eagerness to serve his King, forsooth! 'Twas
mere idleness. He chose to run away from his tasks and his studies.
Beshrew me! Whether he find the camp life of a common soldier a bed
of roses or no, I care not. He must e'en lie in it. I'll neither
grant him pardon, nor receive him in my house. To consort with common
soldiers and camp ruffians--he hath disgraced my name.

LADY K. Oh, my poor lad.

SIR G. Thou and Phyllis need not grieve so foolishly----

LADY K. [_stiffens angrily_]. Phyllis! She is the one reason
why I am reconciled to his being away.

SIR G. [_more gently_]. Come, good wife, be not so hard upon
poor Phyllis. She's a good maid and a fair. What if the lad have
turned her head a bit? I would fain have thee remember the lass is an
orphan and we her only kinsfolk.

LADY K. [_moving away_]. I care not to talk of Phyllis.
[_Turns back._] Will nothing move you, my lord?

SIR G. [_hardening_]. I've told you my mind--let's hear no
more of this. [_Exeunt (L.)._ RUFUS _comes from hiding-place
and stands sadly by fire. Enter_ PHYLLIS.]

RUFUS [_turning toward her_]. Why, Phyllis, I little guessed
my father could be so hard and stern. I knew I had displeased him,
but _this_ passeth belief.

PHYLLIS. He is very unforgiving. When you called this house
a safe harbor, you little knew.

RUFUS [_turning as if to go_]. So be it, then. If my father
cannot forgive me,--I'll e'en forth to the tender mercies of mine
enemies.

PHYLLIS [_alarmed_]. Oh, no, no, Rufus! At least do not venture forth
until the dark hath come! No one must see you here. Come into the
blue guest chamber. 'Tis not a secure hiding-place should the house
be searched, but 'twill serve for the time, and by midnight you may
steal away safely. Do come, Rufus! [_He lets her half lead, half push
him out as she talks. Exeunt (R.). Pause---- Children's laughter
heard. Enter (L.)_ CICELY _with a bunch of raisins._ RAFE _in
pursuit. They run all about the stage._ CICELY _jumps upon a chair
and holds the raisins over_ RAFE'S _head. He tries to jump for them._]

CICELY [_breaking off raisins and dropping them one at a time into_
RAFE'S _mouth_]. Oh, Rafe, such rare sport! You'll have no need to
waken _me_. I'll never sleep this night, I know.

ALLISON [_without, calling_]. Rafe, Rafe! Where art thou?
Oh, Cicely!

RAFE [_pulling_ CICELY _down and securing
raisins_]. Quick, sister, let's hide us! [RAFE _runs
behind hangings (R.)_, CICELY _behind table (L.). Enter_
ALLISON _(L.). Stands still and looks about._]

ALLISON [_softly_]. Of a truth, I did hear their voices.... I
know.... 'Tis sport. 'Tis a game of hide and hunt. I must set me to
find 'em. [_Goes peering about. As she peeps over chair (R.)_, CICELY
_runs out and covers_ ALLISON'S _eyes from behind with her hands._
RAFE _comes from other side and feeds_ ALLISON _with raisins._ RAFE
_and_ CICELY _begin to sing Christmas carol, and_ ALLISON _throws off
Cicely's hands and joins in song._]


CURTAIN


SCENE II

_A gallery in the Manor House. R. front, fireplace[27] with glowing
red fire. Beside it, at right angles, settle. R. back, door. Back
Center, the portraits of_ SIR PHILIP _and_ LADY GERALDINE, _in tall
old frames reaching down nearly to floor, so that only a short
step is necessary when the figures come out. L. back, window, with
snow-covered trees in distance, and moonlight. L. front, door.
Hangings, a few quaint chairs, etc. Center of stage clear. Curtain
shows empty stage._ DICCON _and_ GILLIAN _cross from L. to R.,
talking_--GILLIAN _enters first, as if in haste_, DICCON _trying to
stop her. Stage lights very dim._ GILLIAN _carries a candle, which
she shades with her hand._

[Footnote 27: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]


DICCON [_calling softly_]. Gillian, Gillian! Hang the wench!
Wilt not wait, good Gillian? I've somewhat of great import to tell
thee.

GILLIAN [_impatiently_]. Were I to believe thee, Master
Diccon, _all_ thine affairs are of great matter. Mayhap thou thinkest
_my_ business is ever of small consequence?

DICCON. Nay, then, Gillian--but this news is thine and mine
and my lord's and my lady's too!

  [GILLIAN _turns, a little curious, and waits for
  him._

GILLIAN [_scornfully_]. A strange matter, methinks, that can
be thine and mine and theirs, too!

DICCON. But list a moment, and you shall hear. Giles, the
horse-boy, hath been in the village this day, and heard that which
bodes ill to us. Giles heard them talking in the tavern----

GILLIAN. Heard whom talking, Diccon? I can make naught of
thy twisting tales!

DICCON. Why, the Roundhead knaves, be sure. And the pith and
kernel of Giles' tale--an thou'lt not hear the how and the when--is
this! that they mean to come hither this night and search our house.

GILLIAN [_gives a little scream and claps her hand over her
mouth_]. Oh, Diccon, Diccon,--what can they want here? We be peaceful
folk. In sooth 'tis known we are all good King's men, but no harm
have we done to any! Oh, Diccon!

DICCON. Sst! silly wench! They'll not harm thee. But hark to
what else Giles heard. They be coming to search for Master Rufus!

GILLIAN. Master Rufus! But he hath not been here these many
weeks.

DICCON. Sst! Speak more cautiously, Gillian. The knaves did
say they have certain knowledge that Master Rufus is here in hiding.

GILLIAN [_looking fearfully and suspiciously about_]. Oh,
Diccon, dost believe it?

DICCON. In good sooth, how can I tell? But I am in great
fear.

GILLIAN. Thou afeard, Diccon? Oh, what dost think the
Roundhead villains will do to us?

DICCON [_angrily_]. A pest upon thee, wench! They'll do
naught to _us_! 'Tis for my young master I am troubled. If they take
him, 'tis doubtless to a rebel prison he'll go, and then--it's rough
fare for such a young lad,--and gentle born and bred to boot.

GILLIAN [_curiously_]. But can he be here, think you, Diccon?

DICCON [_anxiously_]. He may be. And I do fear to ask my
lord or my lady of the matter. [_Going towards door._] I would I knew
my duty, Gillian.

  [_Exeunt (R.). After a moment enter (L.)
  the three children in nightgowns, the little
  girls in caps, also. They do not speak, but
  motion to each other excitedly, and run
  about, choosing a fit hiding-place._ ALLISON
  _takes a small stool and plants it
  directly in front of portraits, sits down,
  and folds her hands to wait. The others,
  consulting by signs, do not at first see her,
  then rush upon her in alarm and drag her
  away, taking stool with them, and making
  reproving gestures. All go to settle, place
  stool by fire, and allow_ ALLISON _to sit on
  it._ CICELY _kneels at end of settle, partly
  concealed by its arm._ RAFE _lies full
  length upon it, alternately ducking below
  arm and peeping over it. They shake fingers
  at each other, touch lips to insure silence,
  and when_ ALLISON _turns as if to
  speak._ CICELY _claps a quiet hand over her
  mouth. Business of settling into place.
  When there has been a moment's pause, a
  bell is heard in the distance striking midnight.
  The portraits slowly turn their
  heads, take a long and deep breath, and
  begin to move; soft music is heard (minuet,
  from Mozart's "Don Giovanni");
  they bend forward, step with one foot from
  the frames and clasp hands across the space
  between; then step forth entirely, and bow
  and courtesy low and slowly to each other.
  Then they take hands, and to the music
  go through such part of the old French
  minuet as is practicable for two alone.
  When this has continued as long as is desirable,
  there is a sudden noise without.
  Instantly the music ceases and the figures
  go back with all swiftness and resume
  pose in frames. Children also much
  startled._

CICELY [_in alarmed whisper_]. Oh, Rafe, what was that?

RAFE. I don't know. Sh-sh-sh!

  [_Enter_ RUFUS _(R.), silently and furtively.
  Goes to window and peers out. Comes
  back hurriedly and without seeing children.
  Exit (R.)._ RAFE _springs up and follows
  to door, gazing out after_ RUFUS.

CICELY [_aloud, but still cautious, though in great
fright_]. Oh, Rafe--I saw a man! Who was that?

ALLISON. So did I, sister! Let's _run_!

CICELY. Mother! Mother! I'm frightened!

ALLISON. Oh, Gillian, come get us!

  [_Both rush screaming out of door (L.)._ RAFE
  _comes quickly and silently back. Goes to
  window and stands peering out._

RAFE. That was brother Rufus. I wonder how he came
hither.... And there is someone ... away out there in the snow ...
men ... coming this way. [_Leaves window and stands directly in front
of portraits, with his back to them, and a little way off. Stares
anxiously straight before him, and speaks low and quietly._] Perhaps
they are soldiers ... or wicked people come to seek for him and take
him away.... Rufus went up the little stairs to the Tower.... There's
no place to hide in the Tower! [_His voice gradually rising._]
They'll find him as soon as they get here.... Oh, _what_ shall I
do--what shall I do? [_Stands with hands clenched, listening and
thinking, wide-eyed. The portraits move and bend toward him._]

LADY GERALDINE [_leaning forward and smiling tenderly_].
Little Rafe, little Rafe, thou must play the man this night!

SIR PHILIP [_leaning forward and speaking earnestly_].
Little lad, little lad, thou art little and young! Go and fetch thy
father!

RAFE [_does not turn at all_]. My father will know what
to do.... Mayhap he will even open the secret door Gillian telleth
of.... Surely, surely he cannot be angry now. [_Turns and rushes
wildly out (R.)_].

  [_Enter_ PHYLLIS _(R.), all shaking and trembling._

PHYLLIS [_calls softly_]. Rufus! Rufus! Where art thou?
[_To herself._] Oh, where can the rash boy have gone? He was safe
for the time in the Blue Chamber. And now---- Oh, what can I do! I
must warn him! [_Wrings her hands and goes to window._] Gillian hath
told me they are coming to seek him. He must be warned! Oh, where can
he have gone? [_Goes to door (L.), then to window once more. Enter_
RAFE, _dragging_ SIR GILBERT _by the hand._]

RAFE [_breathless_]. You needs must listen, Father! Brother
Rufus came in at this door and went to the window, softly, to peep
out. Then he ran out again and I got me up speedily and ran to the
casement. [_Tries to draw_ SIR GILBERT _to window, but he
resists and stands frowning (R. Center)._] And I looked out, Father,
and there was someone coming--men--away over toward the village. I
saw them. And Rufus is gone up the Tower stairs---- [PHYLLIS
_starts forward to door, but turns back._]

PHYLLIS. The Tower, saidst thou, Rafe?

RAFE. Yes! The Tower! And thou knowest, Father, there is no
way of escape from the Tower! Father, tell us what to do!

PHYLLIS [_coming to his side with clasped hands_]. Oh, good
Uncle, save him while there is yet time!

RAFE. I know _thou_ canst find a way, Father!

  [_Enter_ LADY KATHERINE, _the two little girls
  clinging to her skirts._

LADY K. [_in amazement_]. What can be the meaning of all
this coil? The children crying to me in fright some old wives' tale
about the family portraits--someone in the gallery--the soldiers----
My poor wits cannot fathom it!

RAFE [_still clinging to his father's hand_]. Oh, lady
Mother, Rufus is hiding in the Tower, and the soldiers are coming,
and Father must save him!

LADY K. [_cries out_]. Rufus, saidst thou? [_Shakes off the
children and hurries toward_ RAFE.] Where is he, boy?

RAFE [_seizes her hand and draws her to door (L.)_]. Here, Mother,
here, up in the Tower. [_Exeunt._ CICELY _and_ ALLISON _cling
together._]

CICELY. Oh, Allison, sweet sister, it was brother Rufus we
did see in the gallery. And the Roundhead soldiers are coming.

ALLISON. Will they drag him away from here?

PHYLLIS. Oh, Uncle, dear Uncle, surely thou knowest some
secret place in this old house where he can lie safe until danger be
past?

  [_Enter_ RAFE _and_ LADY KATHERINE _with_
  RUFUS _(R.)._ LADY KATHERINE _hastens
  to window, glances out, then goes to quiet
  children, who are sobbing._ RAFE _rushes
  to his father, and_ RUFUS _at first starts to
  him._

RAFE. Father, here he is. Now what's to do?

RUFUS. Father, I would----

SIR G. [_interrupting_]. Not a word from you, sirrah! How
dare you enter this house whence you went but to disgrace my name?
You are no son of mine!

  [RUFUS _draws back and stands proudly a little
  aloof. The rest cry out in protest._

LADY K. Oh, my lord, you cannot mean the words you speak!

PHYLLIS. Uncle!

RAFE. Oh, Father, poor Rufus!

DICCON [_without_]. Sir Gilbert! Sir Gilbert! Where art
thou, master!

GILLIAN [_without_]. Oh, mistress! Oh, my lady!

  [_Enter_ DICCON _and_ GILLIAN _in greatest excitement._
  DICCON _carries a pair of candles,
  which he places hastily on the chimney-piece.
  Raise lights._

DICCON. My lord, the soldiers are coming! [_Rushes to
window._] They be at our very gates!

GILLIAN. Oh, mistress, the murthering knaves will burn the
house above our heads!

LADY K. Hold thy peace, silly wench!

  [_General hubbub. Children cling crying to
  their mother._ DICCON _and_ GILLIAN _at
  window._ RAFE _now running to window,
  now tugging at his father's hand._ PHYLLIS
  _at his other side._

DICCON. They come down the long hill!

GILLIAN. I see them, the knaves!

PHYLLIS. Oh, Uncle, prythee forgive Rufus--save him quickly!

SIR G. [_angrily_]. He doth not desire forgiveness.

PHYLLIS. Oh, Uncle, he would have asked it but now. Thy
bitter words did check him, and thou knowest he is proud. He could
not ask it then.

GILLIAN. Here they be!

DICCON. At our very gates!

LADY K. [_above noise_]. My lord, thou dost know some secret
place. Do but disclose it to me. Remember he is thine own flesh and
blood.

DICCON. Hark, ye can hear them! [_Silence falls. In the
distance the carol of the_ WAITS _is heard._]

PHYLLIS [_relieved_]. 'Tis the waits at their carols.

LADY K. [_thankfully_]. 'Tis not the soldiers, after all!

DICCON [_turning from window_]. Would it were not, my lady!
Ye do hear the waits singing beneath the hall windows, 'tis true, but
these at our gates be no peaceful carollers. [_Turns back to window.
All are silent for a moment, listening, until the refrain of "Peace
on earth" is reached._]

SIR G. [_startled_]. "Peace on earth, good will to men!" Now Heaven
forgive my angry spirit! Here, Rufus--quick, lad! [_Touches spring
at R. of portrait. Panel opens, and_ SIR GILBERT _thrusts_ RUFUS
_through, and it closes behind him._ SIR GILBERT _turns and takes
command._] Clear the room--this throng will never do--guilt and
suspicion sit upon our very faces. Wife, Phyllis! take these children
to bed. Gillian! to the kitchen, wench, and do all in thy power to
quiet the maidens there. Hasten to the gate, Diccon, and say that
your master throws open his doors to their search. Bear yourselves,
all, as if nothing had befallen! Now, haste!

  [_Rapid clearing of the room._ LADY KATHERINE
  _and_ PHYLLIS _hurry the children
  out (L.), trying to quiet them. Exeunt_
  DICCON _and_ GILLIAN _by the door (R.).
  Unnoticed_, RAFE _springs into box of settle,
  and closes lid over him. When all are
  gone_, SIR GILBERT _goes quietly about room
  to put all in order. Looks out at window.
  Sounds from without, of beating on doors,
  etc. Cries, "Down with the false King!"
  "Death to traitors!" etc._ SIR GILBERT
  _goes to panel for a moment._

SIR G. [_tapping_]. Rufus! Rufus!

RUFUS [_within_]. Yes, Father!

SIR G. Cheerly, good lad! Lie thou quiet, no harm shall
come to thee. [SIR GILBERT _goes to chimney, takes an old
book from shelf, and sits on settle. Noises of search gradually come
nearer. Enter_ DICCON, _followed by soldiers._]

DICCON [_torn between his fear and hatred of the soldiers
and his wish to propitiate them_]. Here is my lord, your masterships!
He bade me give you free welcome [_bows politely, but as they pass
him he snarls aside_], and a pest upon all of ye!

SIR G. What would you of me, my men? Why, Diccon, these be
all old neighbors--not soldiers.

  [_The men are disconcerted, and advance awkwardly,
  pulling at their forelocks._

STEPHEN. Yes--Sir Gilbert--no, Sir Gilbert--we be verily
soldiers--soldiers of the Parliament.

SIR G. You have taken up arms against your King? I had
thought to see old neighbors and friends and loyal men. [_Rises,
laying down book._]

STEPHEN. We do be loyal men----

ANDREW. Loyal to the Parliament.

WAT. And soldiers of Cromwell.

SIR G. What, then, would you of me? Ye do know I am a
subject of King Charles.

STEPHEN. My lord, we have orders to search this house.

SIR G. So be it, then. Obey your orders. What do ye look to
find here?

ANDREW. 'Tis a false traitor Cavalier.

WAT. He lurketh here and we mean to have him, too.

STEPHEN. We would do our work peaceably, my lord. But our
general must have the country cleared of all Malignants.

SIR G. You have my free consent. My house is open to you
from turret's peak to the bins in the cellar.

DICCON. There be more of 'em, my lord--a round dozen. And
they waited not thy permission. They be already both on tower and in
bins.

SIR G. Disturb them not, good Diccon. [_Turns back to
settle, takes up book and pretends to read, but keeps a careful eye
on soldiers._]

STEPHEN. Do your work with thoroughness, men.

ANDREW. That will we, captain!

WAT. There be many lurking--places in these old rats' nests.

ANDREW. We'll ferret him out!

WAT. Aye, aye--the false villain.

  [_They go carefully about room, lifting hangings,
  tapping walls and floor, trying to see
  behind picture-frames, coming very near
  secret door._

STEPHEN. Have ye tested the walls?

WAT. Aye, and the floors.

ANDREW. There be no secrets here.

STEPHEN. Then we'll look further. Give ye good even, Sir
Gilbert.

ANDREW. Mayhap we'll meet again----

WAT. Aye,--on the field of battle!

  [_Exeunt soldiers, with angry gestures._ SIR
  GILBERT _rises and bows slightly, signing to_
  DICCON _to follow._ SIR GILBERT _waits an
  instant, follows to door, then goes to window
  and watches._ RAFE _jumps out of box,
  and stands beside settle. Enter_ LADY
  KATHERINE, _followed by_ PHYLLIS _and_
  GILLIAN, _stealing in to peep out at window.
  Enter_ CICELY _and_ ALLISON, _catching
  at_ GILLIAN'S _skirts._

ALLISON [_piteously_]. Gillian! Gillian!

CICELY. Oh, Gillian, don't leave us alone!

GILLIAN [_turns back_]. Never! my lambs. Have never a fear of that.
[_Sits in chair (L.), gathers_ ALLISON _into her lap, drawing_
CICELY _beside her._ GILLIAN _still looks anxiously towards window._]

PHYLLIS. There they go, those wicked men!

LADY K. Now Heaven be praised! [RAFE _runs to stand
at panel. Enter_ DICCON.]

DICCON. My lord and my lady---- [_All turn._ SIR
GILBERT _crosses stage to meet_ DICCON.] The knaves
be all gone, sir. I shut the gate upon them with my own two hands.
[_Everyone takes a breath of relief._ RAFE _touches spring
and_ RUFUS _steps out and strides to his father._]

RUFUS. Father, let your son's first word be to crave pardon
for all his willfulness!

SIR G. [_clasping his hand warmly and putting an arm across
his shoulder_]. Nay, lad, 'tis freely given. Methinks I should first
ask thine for all my hardness of heart.

  [PHYLLIS _goes to_ LADY KATHERINE, _who
  turns and kisses her affectionately. They
  stand side by side._

PHYLLIS. Our little Rafe has played the man and saved Rufus
for us all.

LADY K. He is a brave little lad! But tell me, children,
what doth it mean that you were out of your beds at such a strange
hour?

RAFE. We got up to see our ancestors dance.

ALL. Ancestors dance!

SIR G. What meaneth the child?

RAFE. Why, sir, Gillian's grandam hath said to her, that
when the midnight tolled on Christmas Eve, my lord and my lady here
did step forth, clasp hands, and dance.

ALLISON. And so we came to see.

CICELY. And soothly, it was so. They came forth and danced,
here in the shine of the fire. A brave sight, Father!

SIR G. Now, saints defend us! What is a man to make of this?

LADY K. Never heed them--'twas just a sleep-heavy fancy. A
beautiful Christmas-tide dream.

RAFE. Nay, lady Mother, it was no dream. It was the spell of
Christmas brought it all to pass.

SIR G. Now doth the lad speak truth, good friends! Verily it
_is_ the spell of Christmas which hath saved us all from sin and much
sorrow this night. The spell of "Peace upon earth, good will to men."
Hark, the waits are singing still--as angels sing, and ever shall
sing the world around, on Christmas Eve.

  [_All stand listening for a moment to distant
  singing, then join in carol._


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME, MUSIC, AND SETTING

Adult parts in this play taken by boys and girls of fifteen or
sixteen. In contrast to these, the smaller the children playing Rafe,
Cicely, and Allison, the better--Rafe not over eight, Cicely and
Allison six and five years.

Costumes follow the Van Dyke pictures of Charles I and those of
his children. Very helpful illustrations may also be found in
"Merrylips," by Beulah Marie Dix. (The Macmillan Company.)

SIR GILBERT and RUFUS wear sleeveless jerkins made
of tan-colored canton flannel to represent leather. Rufus wears boots
and a broad-brimmed hat with plumes, and long cloak of the same color
as his suit. These suits should be of rich colors in contrast to the
sober colors of the Puritan soldiers, who also wear leather-colored
jerkins and boots.

Cavaliers wear broad lace collars and cuffs, while the PURITAN
SOLDIERS wear square linen collars and cuffs, and under-sleeves
with stripes running around them of black and orange, the colors of
the Parliament. Orange baldric over right shoulder. If possible,
metal helmets, or firemen's helmets silvered to represent the steel
caps of the time; otherwise, broad-brimmed felt hats with band or
scarf of orange and black. They carry swords, cross-bows, or other
arms.

LADY KATHERINE and PHYLLIS. Full, quilted
petticoats, broad, deep-pointed lace collars and cuffs. Dressed in
rich colors. Lady Katherine wears a small lace cap upon her hair.

RAFE. Suit like the picture of Prince Charles. May wear a
broad fringed sash, and fringed bows at his knees. Lace collar and
cuffs. Sleeves may be slashed.

CICELY and ALLISON. Little short-waisted, quilted
dresses, with flowered panels set in. Lace at the square necks and
the elbow sleeves.

GILLIAN. Plainly made dress of flowered material. Skirt
full, but not quilted. Short caps to the sleeves. White kerchief,
apron, and plain white cap.

DICCON. Plain suit, like the Puritans, but less sober in
color, and without the leather jerkin. Square linen collar and cuffs.

THE PORTRAITS. Costumes of an earlier century.

SIR PHILIP. Slashed doublet and trunks of rich color, and
long stockings to match. Ruff, and plumed cap or hat of same material
as doublet. Wears a dagger.

LADY GERALDINE. Dress of rich color to harmonize with Sir
Philip's. Puffed and slashed sleeves, figured panel in front of skirt
and waist, and panniers on hips. Ruff, and small beaded cap.

To stand in absolute stillness for so long a time is a difficult
matter. Therefore the portraits must be careful to take poses which
they can hold without too great a strain throughout the act.

MUSIC

Choose songs which, through their quaintness, may be in keeping with
the atmosphere of the whole.

For the children:

  "Waken, Christian children,"[28]

[Footnote 28: Words printed in "A Puritan Christmas," p. 136.]

  "The first Nowell the angel did say,"

or some other simple old carol.

For the Waits:

  "From far away we come to you."

These three carols are all to be found in "Christmas Carols New and
Old," Novello & Company. The last has been modernized and set to new
music more suitable for children's voices by Mr. W.W. Gilchrist,
and is to be found in a book containing many good carols for
children ("The First Nowell" among them), "The New Hosanna."[29] Mr.
Gilchrist's version omits the quaint refrains of the original--"The
snow in the street, and the wind on the door," and "Minstrels and
maids stand forth on the floor," and substitutes "Sing 'Glory to God'
again and again," and "Peace upon earth, good will to men." These
last words are necessary to the sense in two places, in the text
of the play. When the play was first given, the Waits used the old
refrains, and Mr. Gilchrist's, for alternate verses, thus gaining in
quaintness of effect and at the same time avoiding monotony. For the
midnight dance, use the Minuet from Mozart's "Don Giovanni."[30]

[Footnote 29: See p. 315.]

[Footnote 30: See note, p. 146, in regard to the English, following
"A Puritan Christmas."]

SETTING

If the first scene, which requires little furniture,--the table, a
chair for Gillian, and low stools for the children,--can be set in
front of the second, much time will be saved in the changing. One
scene will serve for both acts, if the frames of the portraits can be
covered with hangings during the first act. Mission furniture may
be used, but if it is possible to obtain a carved chair and table,
and appropriate objects to hang upon the wall,--one or two pieces of
armor, a pair of antlers, etc.,--the effect can be much enhanced.

The secret door in the second act must be planned in accordance with
the possibilities of one's stage. If scenery is used, one section may
be opened wide enough for Rufus to pass through. Otherwise, arrange
hangings so that he may appear to go through a door behind them.



THE BABUSHKA

A RUSSIAN LEGEND, IN ONE SCENE


CHARACTERS

  THE BABUSHKA.
  THE BARON.
  PRINCE DIMITRI  }
  PRINCESS DAGMAR } His children.
  KOLINKA }
  MARIE   }
  MATRENA } Children of a peasant family.
  SASCHA  }
  NICOLAS }
  PAVLO   }
  OLD SEMYON         }
  IVAN, his grandson } The village fiddlers.
  MICHAEL, SERGIUS, LEO, BORIS, PETER }
  SOPHIA, NADIA, FEODOSIA, MASHA,     } Village children.
  MALASHKA, KATINKA, PRASKOVIA        }


THE BABUSHKA

TIME: _Christmas Eve._

SCENE: _Interior of a Russian "isba," or hut. Back R., door;
L., window; through them a dreary winter landscape is visible. In the
corner, by the window, a ledge with ikons and decorations. Right,
Russian oven, with ladder to top. Bench runs under window and along
wall. For other furniture, a few stools and a table, or large chest
used as a table [L.], with a cloth, a loaf of bread, and a knife upon
it. Down stage [R.], a cradle. On the floor, bear skins, or other
furs. At rise of curtain_, MARIE, _seated by the table,
braids a basket_; MATRENA _rocks cradle_; KOLINKA
_sits by window, knitting_; SASCHA _lies on top of the
oven_; NICOLAS _and_ PAVLO _play on the floor.
Children are singing the "Carol of the Birds."_

[Music: CAROL OF THE BIRDS]

  BAS. QUERCY.

     Whence comes this rush of wings afar?
     Following straight the Noël star?
     Birds from the woods in wondrous flight,
     Bethlehem seek this Holy Night.

     2. "Tell us, ye birds, why come ye here,
     Into this stable, poor and drear?"
     "Hast'ning we seek the new-born King,
     And all our sweetest music bring."

     3. First came the Cock, ere break of day,
     Strutting along in plumage gay,
     Straight to the humble manger flew,
     Chanting aloud _Coquerico_.

     4. Then, near the Babe a Goldfinch drew,
     Chirping with mirth _Tir-li-chiu-chiu_;
     _Chiu_ said the Sparrow in reply,
     _Pal-pa-bat_ was the Quail's quick cry.

     5. Blackbirds then raised their sweetest notes;
     Warbled the Linnets' tuneful throats!
     Pigeons all cooed _Rou-cou-rou-cou_,
     Larks sang with joy _Ti-ro-li-rou_.

     6. Angels, and shepherds, birds of the sky,
     Come where the Son of God doth lie;
     Christ on the earth with man doth dwell,
     Join in the shout, Noël, Noël!


KOLINKA. How lonely it is with Father away!

MARIE. Yes, and isn't it strange to think that all the
houses in the village are just as quiet as ours?--on Christmas Eve,
too.

SASCHA. I don't believe it ever happened before that the
whole village had to turn out and hunt wolves on Christmas Eve.

MARIE. And if they hadn't had to do that I suppose Mother
wouldn't have had to spend the day taking care of Petrovitch's sick
wife, either.

KOLINKA. If the men were at home somebody would be coming
in, or at least passing by.

MARIE. Oh, I do hope they will kill all those dreadful
wolves so we shan't have to be afraid any more.

MATRENA. I'm so afraid Father will be hurt!

SASCHA [_with scorn_]. _Hurt_, Matrena! Of course he won't
be hurt. Hasn't he always hunted wolves, every winter? But that's
the way with you and Kolinka. I tell you _I'm_ not afraid. I only
wish I were older and bigger--then I could have gone, too. It's very
slow to have to stay at home and take care of you girls. [_Yawns and
stretches._]

MARIE [_turning indignantly_]. Indeed, Sascha, it wouldn't
be slow at all if you would do something beside lie up there on the
stove and sleep. Here's the bowl you began to carve a month ago, not
finished yet. Just come down now, and do it.

SASCHA. Oh, no! I like this better. And you know you would
rather have me stay up here and tell you the news. [_Teasingly._]

KOLINKA. News, indeed! What news can _you_ have to tell, I
should like to know?

SASCHA [_triumphantly_]. Just this. That the great castle up
on the hill has been thrown open once more.

MARIE [_surprised_]. _Has_ it? Why?

KOLINKA. I don't believe it.

SASCHA. It's true, though. Our father the Czar has pardoned
the Baron, and he has come back from Siberia.

KOLINKA. Are you _sure_, Sascha? Where is the Baroness?

SASCHA. The men said so at the well this morning, so it must
be true.

MATRENA. Did the Baron bring the little Prince and Princess
with him?

SASCHA. _Of course_ my lady and the children weren't in
Siberia with the Baron. They've been in some foreign country--I
forget where--all these years. And now the Baron has sent for them,
and they have all come back to the castle to keep Christmas together.

MATRENA. Oh, how glad I am!

SASCHA. What are you glad for? It won't make any difference
to _us_.

MATRENA. But I'm glad, anyway!

KOLINKA. Of course she is, and so we all are, Sascha--glad
for the Baron and the lady, and the children, too.

NICOLAS. Did you say they were coming here, Sascha?

PAVLO. Are we going to see them?

SASCHA. No, of course not. They've come to the castle, and
it will be the wonder of wonders if _we_ see them.

KOLINKA [_kindly_]. Perhaps they will drive through the
village in their beautiful sleigh, Nicolas, and then you and Pavlo
will have a chance to see them.

SASCHA. They did say, at the village well, that now the
Baron is home, there will be more strangers in the village again.

MARIE. All the better for the village, and that's a very
good reason for you to come down and work, Sascha. We can sell what
we make to these same strangers, and earn a few kopeks for poor
Father.

SASCHA. That's so, Marie. [_Comes down ladder and begins
to examine work._] I believe I'll make some more forks and spoons.
[_Consults_ MARIE _in pantomime._]

NICOLAS. Let's play wolf hunt, Pavlo! I'll be a wolf----
[_Covers himself with a skin._]

PAVLO. And I'll be a hunter with a club! [_Jumps up and arms
himself._ NICOLAS _growls realistically._ PAVLO _prepares to strike._]

KOLINKA [_suddenly, in a startled voice_]. What's that
outside!

NICOLAS. Bears!

PAVLO. No, it's a wolf! [_They throw down skin and club and
fly to the top of the stove._]

PAVLO _and_ NICOLAS [_terror-stricken_]. Wolf! Wolf!

  [MARIE _and_ KOLINKA _go to window._
  SASCHA _tries to see out, then goes to unbolt
  door._

MATRENA [_running to foot of ladder and shaking her finger at_
NICOLAS _and_ PAVLO]. You bad boys! you've waked the baby!

KOLINKA. Be quiet, boys! It's not a wolf at all.

MATRENA. Nor a bear, either. [_Rocks cradle, and pats and
hushes baby._]

MARIE. It's some poor body lost in the snow, perhaps.

  [SASCHA _gets door open and runs out._

SASCHA [_without_]. Have you lost your way? Come with me.
Here is our door. It's a bitter cold night.

  [MATRENA _leaves cradle and stands by_ MARIE.
  _Enter_ SASCHA _with_ PRINCE _and_ PRINCESS.
  NICOLAS _and_ PAVLO _watch with
  interest._

KOLINKA [_going forward hospitably_]. Come in; you are very
welcome. [_Sees the strange guests._] Oh----

MARIE [_aside_]. Oh, Matrena, who can it be?

MATRENA [_aside_]. Marie, just see how beautifully they are
dressed!

  [_Children stand back abashed._ SASCHA _remains
  by door._

PRINCE [_who leads_ PRINCESS _by the hand_]. We
thank you for taking us in. I am the Prince Dimitri from the castle,
and this is my sister, the Princess Dagmar.

PRINCESS. And we have lost our way.

KOLINKA [_timidly_]. We--we didn't know who it was. I'm so
glad we heard you.

MARIE [_gently taking_ PRINCESS' _hand_]. Oh,
Matrena, how cold her hand is! Come near our stove, my lady, and warm
yourself.

  [MARIE _and_ MATRENA _rub the_ PRINCESS'
  _hands while the boys on the stove peer
  down curiously. The_ PRINCE _puts his
  hands against stove._ SASCHA _and_ KOLINKA
  _stand staring at the strangers._

SASCHA. How did you get lost?

PRINCE. We wanted to see our beautiful forest----

PRINCESS. You see, we have only been here for a few days.

PRINCE. So we started out for a little walk. We didn't mean
to go far at all, but before we knew it we had lost sight of the
castle.

PRINCESS. And though we tried and tried to find it again, we
kept getting deeper into the forest.

SASCHA. But how did you come to the village? It isn't very
far from the castle, but it is hard to find unless you know the road,
or just the right path in the forest.

KOLINKA. Yes, how did you come here?

PRINCESS. An old woman found us wandering about trying to
find the path, and she brought us here. Such a strange old woman, all
wrinkled and bent.

PRINCE. _She_ seemed to know just how to come here, though I
couldn't tell what was guiding her.

PRINCESS. And she was so good and kind to us--but she never
spoke once, all the way.

MARIE [_clapping her hands_]. It must have been the Babushka!

SASCHA. Of course it was!

KOLINKA _and_ MATRENA. How wonderful!

NICOLAS _and_ PAVLO. Babushka! Babushka!

PRINCE [_puzzled_]. The Babushka?

PRINCESS. Who is she?

SASCHA. What! you, Russian children, and don't know that!

KOLINKA [_aside_]. Hush, Sascha, don't be rude. You forget they have
been away ever since they were babies, almost. [_To_ PRINCE.] We can
tell you all about the Babushka, Prince. Sit down, and Marie will
tell you the story. Marie knows it best. [KOLINKA, SASCHA, _and_
MARIE _draw benches forward and all sit down_, MARIE _in the center,
the rest not too close to her._ PRINCE _and_ PRINCESS _on bench
to R._, MATRENA _on end of_ MARIE'S _bench._ SASCHA _stands near_
MATRENA. KOLINKA _behind the group, knitting._ NICOLAS _and_ PAVLO
_watch gravely._]

NICOLAS. There aren't any bears or wolves coming, Pavlo?

PAVLO. No. And Marie's going to tell a story.

NICOLAS. Let's get down. [_They scramble down the ladder,
and seat themselves at_ MARIE'S _feet._]

MARIE. Was the old woman in the forest all dressed in gray?

PRINCESS. Yes, all in a long gray cloak, with a queer white
cap on her head.

MARIE. Yes. Then I'm certain it was the Babushka. She is
sure to be wandering about on Christmas Eve.

PRINCE. Is she?

PRINCESS. Why?

MARIE. That's what the story is about. Once upon a time,
hundreds and hundreds of years ago, there was a lonely little house
out in the fields where four great roads met.

SASCHA. And by the house there was a big guidepost that
pointed four ways at once, to show people which road to take.
[_Stretches out both arms and swings his body slowly to show how the
post points._]

MARIE. Babushka lived all alone in the little cottage. In
the summer the place didn't seem so lonely, for the banks at the
roadside were covered with bright flowers, and the days were long and
full of sunshine. But in the winter everything was white as far as
Babushka could see, and the wind howled, and the wolves howled, and
the birds were all gone. And Babushka was poor, and old, and lonely.
One winter day, when she was hurrying to get her work all done and
her house tidied before the dark came down, because she was too
poor to buy candles for herself, she heard a strange sound outside
like silver bells ringing above the whistling wind. She looked out
of her little window and saw a great train of people coming down
the broadest of the roads toward the crossroad. She never had seen
anything so strange before, for the leaders were not traveling in
sleighs or on horseback, but on three great splendid white camels.
The silver bells were hung about the camels' necks, and their saddles
were decorated with silver ornaments. And on the camels rode Three
Kings. Babushka knew they were kings because they were so richly
dressed and because each one wore a golden crown on his head. And
after them followed a long train of servants and guards. The Kings
did not know which road to take, and one of the servants was sent to
knock on Babushka's door and ask the way. At first the old woman was
so frightened that she wouldn't open the door, nor answer at all, and
the Kings themselves had to get down from their camels and come to
speak with her. The servants frightened Babushka, but the Kings were
so kind to her that she soon told them all she knew about the four
great roads. It wasn't very much, for she had never traveled further
than the nearest village, but she told the Kings that there they
could find shelter for themselves and their camels and their servants.

Then the first King said: "We have journeyed a very long way,
Babushka. We have been guided on the road by a glorious, shining
Star, and we know that by and by the Star will lead us to a little
new-born Baby."

The poor old Babushka wondered very much, and said: "Who is the
little child, my lord, that you should take such a long, hard journey
to find him?"

And the first King said: "He is a great King--the King of all the
earth. When we find Him we will lay our crowns at His feet, with
these gifts we have brought--gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. We
are called Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar."

Babushka listened and looked. She saw the gold crowns, and she saw
that each one of the Kings bore in his hand a gift--one held a richly
embroidered bag which looked heavy, and it was, for it was filled
with gold. Another carried a beautiful crystal jar full of something
clear and golden. Babushka knew this must be myrrh, and suddenly she
knew, too, that the fragrance of spices filling the poor little house
must come from the incense in the stone vase she saw in the hands of
the third King.

She listened and looked, and then she said: "Kings have no need of
gifts, my lord. Why do you carry these gifts to the little child?"

And the first King said: "Because this King of all the Earth is the
King of Love, or He would not have come down into the world as a
little child. And because we love Him more than everything else, we
are bringing Him the very best that we have."

And the second King said: "Come, Babushka, go with us on our journey
to find the Christ-Child. He has come into the world to love and help
just such poor old creatures as you."

And the third King said: "There is room in His heart for you, and we
will gladly help you on the journey to Him."

And all the Kings begged her to go with them. But Babushka was afraid
and unwilling. She saw how cold and dreary it was outside, and she
knew that she was warm and dry in her little hut, even if she was
so poor. She didn't know anything better than just to have enough
to eat, and a fire to keep her warm. She looked up into the dark,
threatening sky, and couldn't see any marvelous star through the
thick clouds. And, besides, she wanted to finish sweeping up her
house. She must surely do that first of all. But the Kings could not
wait, so they mounted their camels again, and soon Babushka heard
the music of the silver bells growing fainter and fainter in the
distance. All the next day, and the day after, and the day after
that, and every day all the year, and through all the years, Babushka
thought of her strange visitors. And still more she thought of the
little Child. And the more she thought, the more she grew to love
Him, until at last she began to wish she had gone with the Three
Kings. She grew more and more unhappy about it, until one day she
made up her mind that she would set out alone to try to find the
Child. She forgot how many, many years had gone by since the visit of
the Kings, and she didn't know that the Child had gone back to His
Throne in Heaven again. She locked her little cottage and set out,
going from village to village and from house to house, everywhere
seeking for the Christ-Child. When she found a little child who was
kind and loving and true, she said to herself: "This little one looks
as the Child I am seeking must have looked," and it made her very
happy. But still she didn't find the Child the Kings had found.

And, Princess, though it all happened such hundreds and hundreds of
years ago, the Babushka is still hurrying over the world in winter
time, looking in every nursery and every cottage for the little
Christ-Child. She comes in softly with just a rustle of her skirts,
and bends over the beds where little children lie asleep. She always
puts some small gift on the pillow, and steals silently out again. It
is only the children that are good and quiet who ever see her, and
she makes friends with them and gives them Christmas presents. But
she loves the babies best of all, I know, because she still hopes
to find among them the Baby who was laid in a manger on the first
Christmas.

MATRENA [_after an instant's pause, pointing to window_].
Someone is at the window!

PRINCESS. I see her--it's the old woman who led us out of
the forest!

SASCHA. It's the Babushka!

KOLINKA. Perhaps she will come in. Let's be very quiet.

MATRENA. Let's sing--the Babushka loves our carols.

  [_Children sing softly the carol of the Birds.
  Enter_ BABUSHKA, _very quietly. Lays her
  hand on_ PAVLO'S, _then on_ NICOLAS' _head,
  and gazes earnestly at them._

  [_Kneels by cradle, bending over the baby, and
  kisses it. Rises, stands watching the children
  a moment, then glides silently out.
  Children see her pass window, then the
  song ceases._

PRINCESS [_suddenly springing up_]. Oh, Dimitri, why didn't
we beg the Babushka to take us home to the castle? Our Father and
Mother will be so terribly frightened when we don't come back!

PRINCE [_hurrying to door_]. Perhaps it isn't too late.

SASCHA [_catching his arm, and standing before the door_].
No, no! you couldn't catch her.

KOLINKA. And you mustn't go out in the cold again.

PRINCESS [_in great distress_]. But we must let our father
know we are safe!

KOLINKA. We will send a messenger as soon as we can, but
there is no one in the village to-night----

SASCHA. The wolves have been so bad that all the men have
gone out to hunt them.

KOLINKA. Perhaps someone will be back soon, and then we can
send. It isn't safe for the boys to go alone into the forest so late.

SASCHA [_to_ PRINCE]. Father made me promise not to
go away until he came home. I'm not a bit afraid, though.

KOLINKA. Sascha, run and ask old Semyon what he thinks.
[_Exit_ SASCHA.] Sascha will bring Semyon back with him.

NICOLAS. Perhaps Ivan will come, too.

MATRENA. Ivan and Semyon play their violins and sing--Ivan
is Semyon's grandson, you know.

PAVLO. And we sing, too.

NICOLAS. We'll sing for you when they come.

PRINCE. Will you? That's nice.

MARIE. We sing all the songs we know on winter nights. And
while we sing we work. See, Princess, this is our winter work.

  [PRINCE _and_ PRINCESS _go to table and look
  over wooden articles and baskets, with_
  MARIE _and_ MATRENA. KOLINKA _stands
  by window._

NICOLAS [_to_ PAVLO]. I'm glad I wasn't big enough
to go wolf-hunting, aren't you, Pavlo, because now we've seen the
Prince and the Princess.

PAVLO. And Sascha said they wouldn't come here--but they
did. Let's go up on the stove again, Nicolas. [_They climb upon the
stove._]

KOLINKA. There they come. [_Opens door. Enter_
SASCHA, SEMYON, _and_ IVAN.] Did you tell
Semyon, Sascha?

SASCHA. Yes, and he says we must wait.

SEMYON. Good-evening to you all.

CHILDREN. Good-evening.

SEMYON [_bowing_]. It's a poor, cold welcome home we give to
our Prince and Princess, but we are glad to see them among us again.

PRINCE. I'm sure they've all been kind, little father.

SEMYON [_bowing again, to Prince_]. I'm sorry, my lord, that
there is no way to send a message to the Baron, but our boys are too
young, and I am too feeble. The men will be at home soon, I hope, and
meanwhile you must be patient.

MARIE. Oh, Semyon, let us have some carols [_to_
PRINCESS], and then the time will go quickly.

SEMYON. Ivan and I are always glad to make music on
Christmas Eve.

IVAN. Or any other eve, either, Grandfather.

  [SEMYON _sits in center of stage_, IVAN _standing
  beside him. They play their violins
  and sing the ballad of King Wenceslas, all
  the children joining in the chorus._

NICOLAS. Sister, sister, I hear somebody shouting, outside!

SASCHA [_rushing to door_]. The men come back from the wolf
hunt!

IVAN. Let's see what they've killed. [_Exeunt_ IVAN
_and_ SASCHA.]

KOLINKA. No, it's not our father--they're all men that look
like soldiers.

MARIE. It's the people from the castle come to look for you!

  [_Door flies open. Enter_ IVAN _and_ SASCHA
  _with_ BARON. PRINCE _and_ PRINCESS _rush
  to him._

PRINCE _and_ PRINCESS. Father! Father!

BARON. My children! Are you both safe?

PRINCESS. Oh, yes, Father. These children have been so good
to us.

BARON. Have they, my dear? Then they have been good to me,
too, and I thank them with all my heart.

KOLINKA. Oh, we haven't done anything, sir!

PRINCE. Tell us how you found out where we were, Father?

BARON. In rather a queer way, my son. We didn't miss you
just at once, but as soon as we knew you were gone everyone was in
a great fright, you may be sure. I started out with Sergius and
Smoloff, and half a dozen others to search for you in the forest. We
hadn't gone a hundred yards from the castle when we met the strangest
little old woman I ever saw, all dressed in gray, and wrinkled and
bent----

PRINCESS [_clapping her hands_]. The Babushka, Father, the
Babushka!

MARIE, SASCHA, _and_ KOLINKA. The Babushka
took the message!

PRINCE. It was she who brought us here!

SEMYON. Have you never heard of the Babushka, Baron?

BARON. Yes, yes! I know the old story of the Babushka, but I
never saw her before.

IVAN. She always comes to our village at Christmas time. We
don't all see her every year, but somebody always sees her.

PRINCE. What did she do, Father?

BARON. She did not speak at all. She looked at us for a
moment with the softest eyes imaginable, and then she stooped down
and pointed to your footprints in the snow. Then she pointed toward
the village, smiled, and beckoned to us to follow her. It seemed as
if she must have guessed our trouble, and she seemed so sure and so
full of cheer, that we couldn't help believing we should find you,
and followed her at once. I must reward her liberally for the great
service she has done me and mine this night.

MARIE. The Babushka wants no reward, Baron. You know what it
is she has been searching for all these years? Grandmother says it
was Love the Babushka wanted, and she has surely found it, for every
little child in Russia loves her dearly, dearly, and watches for her
at Christmas time.

IVAN. And when she comes, the children sing their carols for
her. But the one she loves best is the "Golden Carol"--that's the
song of the Three Kings, you know, sir.

SEMYON [_in doorway_]. The Babushka is coming now, with
her followers, my lord. Here they are! [_Enter a troop of village
children, the_ BABUSHKA _in their midst, smiling on them,
and now and then patting some little one on the head. She stands in
the center of the stage and distributes gifts to the children from
a quaint basket, answering their cries and questions by nods and
smiles, each child exclaiming "Thank you!" "How nice!" etc., as he
receives his gift._]

CHILDREN. Oh, Babushka! dear, good Babushka!

SOPHIA. Have you got something for everybody?

MALASHKA. Are you quite sure?

SERGIUS. Me, too, Babushka!

MASHA. I've tried to be good, all the whole year!

CHILDREN. We all have, _truly_, Babushka.

SERGIUS. I've had good lessons--you can ask the
school-teacher.

KATINKA. My mother says I've been a good girl--aren't you
glad?

PETER. Please, Babushka--I--I'm afraid I haven't been a very
good boy. But I'm sorry, and I'll try to do better next year. I'll be
bigger, then.

PRASKOVIA. We'll all be very, very good next year--won't we,
children?

CHILDREN. Indeed we will, Babushka.

BORIS. Perhaps it will be easier next year.

FEODOSIA. Oh, please, Babushka, I have a baby brother at
home. Could you give me something for him?

LEO. My big brother has gone wolf-hunting with the men, but
he'll be sorry enough he missed you, Babushka.

MICHAEL. So has mine, and he'll be sorry, too.

NADIA. Dear Babushka, I've kept the present so carefully
that you gave me last year.

MALASHKA. Oh, _did_ you? Mine got broken and I cried.

CHILDREN. Oh, Babushka, we love you, we love you! Why can't
you stay with us always? Live here with us--in our village.

SASCHA. Babushka! You must have something for the Prince and
Princess, haven't you?

  [_As the_ BABUSHKA _gives them something, the_
  BARON _turns to the children._

BARON. Children, the Babushka has given the best present of
all to me.

  [_Children stare in surprise._

MARIE. Oh, I know! I know what it was!

BARON. Yes, some of you can guess. The Prince and the
Princess were my Christmas present, for the Babushka gave them back
to me.

  [_Children laugh and clap._

SEMYON [_tapping his violin for quiet_]. Come, children, we
must sing for the Babushka!

CHILDREN. Yes--we always do. [_Applaud again._
SEMYON _and_ IVAN _play, while children sing "The
Golden Carol."_]

[Music: THE GOLDEN CAROL

of MELCHIOR, BALTHAZAR, and GASPAR.]

     We saw a light shine out afar,
       On Christmas in the morning,
     And straight we knew Christ's star it was,
       Bright beaming in the morning.
     Then did we fall on bended knee,
       On Christmas in the morning,
     And praised the Lord, who'd let us see,
       His glory at its dawning.

     2. Oh, ever thought be of His Name,
       On Christmas in the morning,
     Who bore for us both grief and shame,
       Afflictions sharpest scorning.
     And may we die (when death shall come)
       On Christmas in the morning,
     And see in heaven, our glorious home,
       That Star of Christmas morning.


CURTAIN


NOTES ON SETTING, MUSIC, AND COSTUME

RUSSIAN OVEN. Made from a wooden packing-case, five or six
feet in height, covered with cambric, and painted to represent stone,
brick, or tiles. These stoves are decorated with rich panels in bold
conventional designs of flower or animal forms, or combinations of
geometrical figures. They are often so large that in the bitter
weather whole families may sleep on their tops, or on a platform
above.

IKONS. Pictures of the Christ, the Madonna, and the Saints,
much ornamented with gilt, and placed on a ledge in "the beautiful
corner," with candles in silver candlesticks, sweet-smelling grasses,
and flowers, real or of paper. Sometimes a carved wooden pigeon is
also placed before the ikons--the emblem of the Holy Spirit. The
wall in this corner is hung with long towels, either covered with
embroidery, or embroidered at the ends. Everyone who enters the room
makes an obeisance, and crosses himself, before the ikons. They are
specially decorated for Christmas.

Make the towels with stencils, as described in the notes on girls'
costumes.

The same characteristic designs are placed on ledges, cupboards, and
shelves, on the chest, or coffer, and ceiling beam, on carved wooden
boxes, dishes, and jugs, which are often displayed on a sideboard.
The knife and loaf placed on the coffer constitute a symbol of
hospitality.

The decoration of the stage need be limited only by time and
resources.

MUSIC

Search for information in regard to carol-singing in Russia having
been unsuccessful, old carols have been chosen which lend an
atmosphere of quaintness. The "Carol of the Birds" is old French,
the others English, "The Golden Carol" of the Magi being especially
appropriate to the story.

The sources for "Good King Wenceslas" are given on p. 316. The
singing of this carol (also the "Golden Carol") is accompanied by the
Village Fiddlers on their violins. Semyon sings the part of the King,
Ivan that of the Page, all the children the narrative parts.

Others, with better knowledge of the subject, may be able to obtain
music more strictly suitable. The author would be glad to gain any
accurate information in regard to the use of Christmas carols in
Russia.

COSTUMES

BOYS wear Russian blouses, and dark trousers, their legs
bound, from feet to knees, with yellowish rags; shoes suggesting
moccasins. Blouses may be made of canton flannel, white, or dull
colors, or of unbleached muslin, reaching halfway to knees. Neck
finished in a band; opening from collar down left side is not more
than six or eight inches, giving just room enough to put the head
through. Trim this collar and opening, also sleeves, with fur; or
put on a conventional border with stencil and paints, narrow at neck
opening, broad on sleeves. Tie in at waist with a short sash, ends
hanging, of bright color to match borders.

Outdoor winter costume of boys is a very thick, very full-skirted
coat of dark color, immense boots, cap of fur, or fur-bordered, and
bright scarf about neck, ends tucked into breast of coat. The village
children, however, may be supposed to rush in from their houses,
after the Babushka, without coats, but dressed as above, which is
both simpler and more picturesque.

GIRLS' costumes vary a little more.

     1. Sleeveless dress, to ankles; white guimpe, long full
     sleeves. Dress of bright colors, with band of plain color
     edging bottom of skirt, neck, both of dress and guimpe,
     and bordering white sleeves. Apron, white, with stenciled
     designs in various colors.

     2. Skirt to ankles, of soft faded blue or red, worn high on
     the short white waist, which has full sleeves, gathered in
     a band at the elbow. Trimmed with stenciled bands in bright
     colors, at hem of skirt, on neck and sleeves, and also at
     the edge of an immense handkerchief worn on the head and
     knotted under the chin. This is large enough to spread out
     over shoulders, and is straight across the back.

     3. Plain narrow skirt of soft color, with a long-sleeved
     apron (cream white), low-necked in front, and cut like an
     Eton jacket in the back. This skirt has a band of plain
     color at the hem, but the apron is trimmed with many rows
     of stenciled patterns at the bottom, a narrow pattern
     at neck and hand, and a broader one around the back at
     the waist. White chemisette in front, also with band of
     trimming.

Girls wear knots of ribbon hanging from the ends of their braids,
many strings of bright beads on the neck, and large gold hoops, or
enameled earrings in their ears. They may wear low shoes with bows
or buckles, or the soft, thick moccasin-like shoes worn by the boys.

Some few may be bareheaded. Others wear the large handkerchiefs
described above, and still others the picturesque "kokochnik," a
velvet, bead-trimmed crescent, worn forward on the head as in the
picture of "Marie." These are easily cut from cardboard, covered with
velvet, and trimmed in different patterns with small beads.

The stenciled patterns above-mentioned take the place of Russian
embroideries. They are repeated conventional designs, Greek patterns,
and fantastic forms of flowers, birds, and animals. Stenciling is
suggested as being the easiest and quickest way of getting the
desired effect.

THE BABUSHKA. Long robe, and hooded cloak of light gray
canton flannel. The hood is worn over the head. She carries a quaint
basket filled with cheap little toys.

An adult is needed for this part, or an older girl of sufficient
insight and appreciation to carry out the simple pantomime and fill
it with the love and deep yearning of the Babushka, who is really a
spirit, and not a human being at all.

THE BARON. Long military coat, below knees; cream-colored,
trimmed on breast with a pattern in gold braid, a band of same around
the edge and up the slits at the sides. Double collar, standing up
behind head and lying flat across back, scarlet with a gilt pattern.
Scarlet sash with sword or dagger. Red boots with blue heels. Spurs.
Sleeves open from shoulder to fur-trimmed cuff, and worn hanging.
Under-sleeve, and lining of coat-sleeve of a rich color. Hat with
flat-topped crown about eight inches high, scarlet, with gold
pattern; standing brim, dark brown, three inches high, cleft in
front to show more of red and gold. Gilt cockade in front.

PRINCE. Russian blouse with military trimmings, scarlet and
white. Khaki trousers, boots, fur cap.

PRINCESS. White cape and hood, trimmed with fur and silver.
Dress underneath not unlike the little peasants', but more richly
trimmed.

OLD SEMYON. Long brown robe, halfway below knees, skirt
rather full. Legs bound in tan-colored rags. Moccasins. Coat has
broad collar with long reveres, and plain high vest inside, of same
material as coat. Hat made of the same, low, with rolling brim,
giving a turban-like effect. Long white hair and beard.

Marie, the eldest of the children, is perhaps fourteen; Kolinka,
twelve; Matrena, nine; Sascha, Ivan, and the Prince, eleven or
twelve; Pavlo and Nicolas, five or six; the Princess, nine. The
Village children should be rather small.

Satisfactory pictures of Russian homes and costumes are very
difficult to find, but there is a series of fairy-tales in Russian,
beautifully illustrated in color, which will be found most helpful to
those wishing to make costumes for this play. These books are to be
had at the Russian Importing Company, 452 Boylston Street, Boston,
and may also be seen in some of the larger Public Libraries.



A CANVAS CHRISTMAS

IN TWO ACTS


CHARACTERS

  PETER PEPPER, Ringmaster, and owner of Pepper's Perennial Circus.
  HARRY HOPKINS }
  LIMBER JACK   } otherwise MARCO BROTHERS, Acrobats.
  BARNEY O'BRIEN }           } SIGNOR FRENCELLI }
  JERRY PICKLE   } otherwise } SIGNOR COCODILLA } Clowns.
  BEN JACKSON, otherwise MR. BARLOW, Minstrel and hand.
  DUTCH, peanut-man and general factotum.
  MIKE MCGINNIS, otherwise PROFESSOR WORMWOOD, Animal-trainer.
  TIM, one of the hands.
    SCHNEIDER, the Dog.
    JOCKO, the Monkey.
  FARMER SIMPSON.
  BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SIMPSON--"BUB"--(Eight years old.) }
  DANIEL WEBSTER SIMPSON--"SONNY"--(Five years old.)   } his boys.


A CANVAS CHRISTMAS

Written for a club of boys from twelve to seventeen.


ACT I

TIME: _Ten o'clock on Christmas Eve._

SCENE: _The mess-tent of Pepper's Perennial Circus, very bare
and shabby, with circus litter about; signs, "No Smoking," "Next
performance, 2 P.M.," posters, etc., on the tent walls; a rough
mess-table of boards and trestles, with boxes, stools, two broken
chairs, etc., for seats. Pile of old blankets in one corner.
Lantern hangs in center of tent, and another [L.] at entrance to
circus tent. [R.], another exit, leading out of doors. Music [if
possible] from circus tent, playing last strains of "Home, Sweet
Home." Burst of applause from circus tent, the flaps part, and the
troupe enters_ [_excepting_ PEPPER, MIKE, _and the animals_], _weary
and discontented, and drop down anywhere to rest._ HOPKINS _throws
himself on pile of blankets [R.]_, JACK _takes a box nearby_, BARNEY
_sits on table, and_ JERRY _goes to entrance [R.], fanning himself
with his hat._ BEN _takes box [L.], and_ DUTCH _enters last, slipping
the straps of his peanut-tray from his shoulders and setting it on
the end of the table._

HARRY [_sullenly_]. This 'ere's the worst night we've 'ad
yet.

JACK. You bet yer life!

BARNEY. Faix! I've no futs left an me at all, at all!

TIM [_rubs his arms_]. I'm lame all over. It's me for the
liniment bottle!

JERRY. I'm as tired as any of you guys, but I'm a good deal
madder than I'm tired.

JACK. I should say.

HARRY. 'Ow could we be h'anything but tired and h'angry, I'd
like to h'arsk, with such a boss as old Pepper?

BEN. Gen'lemen--Mr. Pepper he su'tinly war pretty bad, dis
evenin'--in fac' I may say he war de limit.

JERRY. And no excuse for it, either.

BARNEY. Was it excuse, ye said?

DUTCH. Mishter Pepper he don't vaits for no excuse. You'd
t'ink ve vas all der lazy loafers--und der ain'd a lazy bone in der
whole boonch.

  [_Enter_ MIKE, _with dog, and leading monkey._

MIKE. The sound of yez all is quite familiar. Be ye knockin'
the boss again?

BEN. We-all got mighty good reason, Mr. McGinnis.

HARRY. 'E's not getting a think but wot 'e's earned for
'isself.

JACK. Work a fellow to skin and bone!

BARNEY. Wid nary bit o' regard to his iligant muscle, Limber
Jack?

JACK. It's true--no joshin', Barney!

BARNEY. Niver a bit of it, darlin'!

JERRY. It's all work and no rest----

MIKE. And niver a dacint worrud, even for the dumb
bastes---- [_Pats dog and monkey. Dog goes about from one to another
expecting pats and caresses, which are absent-mindedly given. Monkey,
unobserved, steals peanuts from tray._]

TIM. Nothing but blame, morning, noon, and night!

DUTCH. Und ven der vork is ofer, ve don't gets noddings
enough to eats--ain'd?

BEN. Gentlemen, I'm 'bliged to admit dat I'm hungry all de
day long!

HARRY. H'and h'all night, you might say, and no
h'exaggeratin'.

TIM. We're all of us half starved.

JERRY [_warningly_]. Here's the boss, fellows!

  [_Enter_ PETER, _striding into tent and giving
  an angry glance around._

PETER [_suspiciously_]. What are you all doing here? You,
Tim, get a hustle on and put out those lights in the big tent.
[_Exit_ TIM, _slowly and sullenly._] Mike McGinnis, go put
your beasts in their cages--look at that monkey wasting the peanuts!
Dutch, you aren't worth your salt--can't you take care of your stuff?
[MIKE, _with an injured air, leads out monkey and whistles
dog after him._ DUTCH, _much aggrieved, takes up tray, and
moves it to another place._] Jerry Pickle, if you and O'Brien can't
ring in something new for your turn, you'll soon be given the hook,
and Ben's jokes are all stale enough to crumble. As for you, Hopkins,
I consider your riding to-night a flunk, and you and Jack are no
acrobats at all--you're just a couple of dubs. The show's always had
the name of a first-class show, and it's going to keep up to it, if
I've got to throw you all out and get a new lot. So you want to look
out--see? [_Exit angrily._]

HARRY [_jumping up_]. There's a-goin' to be h'end of
this--as sure as my name's 'Arry 'Opkins!

JERRY. Well, I'm with you, for one. We never go into winter
quarters for a rest----

HARRY. No, for the h'old skinflint goes and brings 'is
bloomin' show South----

JERRY. So's he can keep open all year round, and double his
profits.

DUTCH. Und vat does ve get oud of ut? Yust noddings.

JERRY. I should say not! We're half paid and half fed, and
worked double, and I for one have took all I'll stand.

JACK. I'm with you there.

TIM. So'm I, Jerry.

BARNEY. Bedad, it's in the same box we all are.

MIKE. True for you, Barney. We'd all better be quittin'.

BEN. Gen'lemen! dis yere 'lustrous Company a' unanimous.
We all 'low dat Mr. Pepper have got to reform. We-all mus' draw up
a partition an' prohibit Mr. Pepper for conduc' unbecomin' to a
Ringmaster. Gen'lemen, let us take action.

HARRY. H'action be blowed! If it's 'ighly satisfactory to
h'agitate petitions, or throw up your jobs--w'y, _I_ calls that just
nothin' doin'. No h'A-1 h'acrobat is a-goin' to stand bein' told 'e's
flunked in his best h'act. _I_ don't till I've pied 'im h'up.

  [_A murmur of assent, and all draw closer
  about him (R. front), speaking with lowered
  voices._

BARNEY. That's something like talk, that is!

MIKE. I'm wid yez, Harry, me b'y.

JERRY. I'd like to burn his old show over his head.

TIM. Just doctor his wagon-axles a little, and when they
break down, we'll take to the woods!

JACK. _Much_ he'll get a new lot.

BEN. No, gen'lemen--I got dat proposition beat----

  [_Words become inaudible; they draw closer
  yet. The canvas (back Center) parts.
  Enter_ BUB _and_ SONNY, _very cautiously
  and timidly, peering about. They come
  forward a little, and pause, looking at
  group._

BUB. This is sure enough the circus, Sonny. Look at those
men.

  [_The troupe fall apart guiltily, and look with
  amazement at the children._

BUB [_grips_ SONNY'S _hand and comes forward
slowly_]. Please, mister, is the circus all over?

BEN. Laws, honey, you didn' 'spec' to fin' no circus dis
time o' night?

BARNEY. Sure, an' ut's time we was all tucked into our
little beds, an' the same to _you_, bedad.

HARRY. Maybe you'll do us the honor to tell us your names?

BUB [_impressively_]. My name is Benjamin Franklin Simpson.

SONNY. An' mine is Daniel Webster Simpson.

MIKE [_pretends to faint_]. Oh, would some of yez have the
goodness to fan me! [JACK _obliges him._]

JERRY. Give us a shorter one! They don't call you that every
time you get your orders, I'm sure.

  [_Enter_ PEPPER, _watching unnoticed from
  background._

BUB. No; I'm just Bub, and he's Sonny.

TIM. That's more like it.

JACK. Breathe easy, Mike.

HARRY. Well, Mr. Benjamin Franklin Bub, will you h'inform us
where you 'ails from?

BUB. We live over the mountain, by Pinesburg, an' we wanted
to see the circus, so we just ran off and came.

JERRY. Pinesburg--that's ten miles off. How'd you say you
come?

BUB. Just walked.

SONNY [_rubbing his fists in his eyes_]. An' the circus is
all over, an' I'm so tired! [_Men murmur sympathetically, and the
group breaks and re-forms around the boys. Men gather about, some
squatting near the boys, others standing behind._]

BARNEY. Futted it ivery shtep!

MIKE. Tired, is it?--yez must be dead!

HARRY. Poor kids!

DUTCH. Und ve all leafin' der kinder shtandin'. Here--der
box seats ain'd all sold yet. [_Brings box and seats them kindly._]

BEN [_kneeling before them_]. Why--dey shoes is all bust
out----

JERRY. The poor kids ought to be in bed.

TIM. Did you have any supper?

JACK. When did you say you started?

BUB. Right after dinner, an' we thought we could get here
for the show to-night, but, you see, Sonny couldn't walk very fast----

SONNY [_sets up a howl, gives_ BUB _a punch that
nearly knocks him off the box, and rubs his eyes harder than ever_].
I did, too, now, Bub! I walked an' I walked an' I walked, so I did!
An' I want my supper, I do, an' I want to go to bed!

JERRY. Hustle off, Dutch, and get the poor kid some grub----

  [_Exit_ DUTCH _in haste._

BARNEY. Sure an' one of them can bunk with me.

JACK. I'll take the other in my bunk.

MIKE. If it's blankets they're wantin' they're welcome to
mine.

BEN. Dey's lots ob blankets, gen'lemen! I'll fix 'em a place
tergedder as sof' as a fedder-bed!

  [PEPPER _comes forward._

HARRY [_under his breath_]. 'Ere's the h'old h'ogre wot'll
scare 'em to death.

PEPPER [_with unexpected amiability_]. That's right, Ben,
make 'em up a good bed in the sleeping-tent with the extra blankets.
What do you fellows suppose their marm's thinking, about now? [_Exit_
BEN.] You kids, did you say you _ran away_?

BUB [_a little frightened_]. Ye-es, sir--we couldn't help
it. You see--our folks is _strict_. They never went to circuses, and
they don't let their boys go.

PEPPER. Well, has your folks got a telephone?--most
farmers've got 'em these days.

BUB _and_ SONNY. Yes, sir----

PEPPER [_giving_ TIM _money_]. Here, Tim, you run
out and telephone to---- Simpson, is it?

BUB. Yes, sir,--Jonathan Simpson.

PEPPER. And tell him his kids are safe, and we'll take care
of 'em all right. [TIM _starts out._] And, Tim---- [_Follows
him and speaks aside._] Fix it up with him to let 'em stay to the
afternoon show.

  [PEPPER _lingers with_ TIM _at tent door.
  Troupe overcome with surprise._

BARNEY. Will yez all hark to that!

HARRY. I didn't think 'as 'ow 'e 'ad h'it h'in 'im!

OTHERS. No!

  [_Enter_ DUTCH _with thick sandwiches, which
  the boys munch eagerly._ PEPPER _comes
  forward and watches._

DUTCH. So! Das ist besser.

BEN. How'd dat chile's sho't legs ebber do ten mile, anyhow?

JERRY. Pretty sandy, that!

PEPPER. What did you boys run away for on Christmas
Eve--weren't you afraid of missing your presents and the Christmas
Tree?

BUB [_between bites_]. Presents? We don't get none!

SONNY. I never saw a Christmas Tree. [_He grows very sleepy and leans
his head against_ BUB, _who keeps moving and letting it slip off
while talking with the men._]

DUTCH [_horrified_]. You don't effer hafe no Christmas?

BUB. No. I told you our folks is _strict_. My dad didn't let
us go to the Christmas Tree they had at the Sunday-school, neither.

PEPPER. I didn't suppose that kind of strictness was left in
the country.

BUB [_with conviction_]. My dad's that kind of strict.

BEN. Dat po' chile's mos' ersleep now. Come on, honey.
Ben'll take you to bed. [_Lifts_ SONNY _in his arms._]

PEPPER. That's right, Ben. Run on with him, Bub--Ben'll
take care of you. [_Exit_ BEN, _with children. Enter_
TIM.] Well, Tim, did you get Simpson?

TIM. Yes, sir, and he says he'll come and fetch the kids in
the morning--he won't on no account let them stay to see the show.

  [_General groan of indignation._

BARNEY. The like of him ain't fit to live!

HARRY [_disgusted_]. Wot sort of chap do you call that!

JERRY. Can't we do nothin' about it?

PEPPER. Sure you did your best, Tim?--you didn't make him
mad, maybe?

TIM. _Me?_ No, sir! But he was madder about the kids than he
was scared about them, I reckon.

MIKE. An' does he think he desarves to get thim back, I'd
like to know? Let's kape thim ourselves!

JACK. We need a couple of kids in the show. That Bub's a
sharp one!

PEPPER. No, fellows--that won't do. Perhaps the mother's a
different kind.

  [_Enter_ BEN, _speaks to_ MIKE. _The rest listen._

BEN. Dey's jus' wore out, dose chillen--done fall ersleep
'fo' I got de blanket over dem.

JERRY. I tell you what, fellows. That old flub of a farmer
won't get in very early--let's give 'em a show all to themselves.
What say?

JACK. Bully scheme!

MIKE. That's classy, that is!

HARRY [_aside to_ JERRY]. S'pose the boss'll let us
do a stunt like that? Not on yer life!

PEPPER. Very good idea, Barney. You'll have all morning for
it, sure.

  [_Troupe surprised and delighted. General
  hum of pleasure._

PEPPER [_clearing his throat and hesitating a little_].
Oh--a--a--I was going to say--these kids seem to have rather a slow
time of it. What do you fellows say we do it up brown--go the whole
figure and--well, a little Christmas won't hurt us, either. Let's
give them a Christmas Tree. I'll set up the fixin's for it!

  [_An instant's pause of utter amazement, then
  a hubbub of enthusiasm and approval, interrupted
  by_ BEN.

BEN [_coming forward, raps on the mess-table and raises his
voice_]. Gen'lemen! I'd like to offer de resolution dat we all gib
t'ree cheers fo' Mr. Pepper!

  [_Cheers given with a will._


CURTAIN


ACT II

TIME: _Christmas morning._

SCENE: _Same as Act I. During first part of scene, the troupe, all
but_ PEPPER _and_ TIM, _are very busy arranging tent for their
special performance._ BARNEY _and_ DUTCH _move mess-table to [R.],
cover it with red cloth, and set two boxes upon it as seats for the
guests of honor._ BEN _and_ JERRY _bring in a gymnasium mattress and
a small low platform, which they arrange [Center], covering it with a
bright-colored cloth._ HARRY, JACK, _and_ MIKE _set soap-boxes with
boards for seats at back of stage._

BARNEY. Did yez iver see annything loike the change in the
Boss?

BEN. I jes' lay awake half de night studyin' 'bout it.

JERRY. I tell you, he's just treatin' those two kids white,
he is.

JACK. First time ever, for _him_.

MIKE. I'm just shtruck doomb, I am. Says I to meself, says
I, "There's magic in ut."

DUTCH. Nein,--it's dot little Christmas Tree vot doos ut.

HARRY. Well, h'anyway, 'e's h'evidently 'ad a change of
'eart. 'Ow's the kids this morning?

BEN. Fine as silk! I war expectin' to fin' 'em all tuckered
out, but not a bit of it, sir! Dey's sharp as persimmons. Don' seem
lak dey could a-walked all dat way widout no lift.

BARNEY. Did yez tell them about the show, thin?

DUTCH. Ve did, und dey're so oxzited dot it seem like dey'd
shump out o' deir shkins.

JERRY. Have they heard of the tree?

BEN. No. Mr. Pepper, he say, don' let on--keep dat fer er
s'prise.

DUTCH. Und since deir folks iss such heathens--dey ain'd
t'inkin' 'bout noddings like dot.

JACK. Hustle up--you talk too much. The kids' folks'll be
here after them if you don't get a move on.

MIKE [_gazing with pride at the result of their labors_].
It's a foine soight, sure.

HARRY [_leading the way to the tent door_]. Come along,
fellows--it looks to me as 'ow we're ready. 'Oo'll be the 'erald an'
tell 'em we're comin'?

  [_Exeunt all but_ DUTCH.

DUTCH [_goes to footlights and speaks to the piano_]. If der bant
vill blees be so kint und blay a chune fer der grant marsh! [_Exit.
After a moment enter_ DUTCH _and_ BEN _with the children_, SONNY
_hanging to_ BEN'S _hand and dancing with excitement. They are lifted
into place._]

BEN. Now, den, honey, you-all's gwine to see der circus,
sho' 'nuff.

DUTCH. So! Is you gomf'table?

  [_Exeunt_ BEN _and_ DUTCH.

BUB. Oh, Sonny, we're goin' to have a circus all to
ourselves.

SONNY. It's better than just comin' in like other folks,
isn't it, Bub?

BUB. Oh, lots! I guess it's a sure enough Christmas,
too, Sonny. [_He rocks to and fro with delight. The piano plays a
gay, quick march, and the Circus enters, in procession, headed
by_ PEPPER _himself and ending with the dog. They march
several times around the stage, then take seats on the boards._
DUTCH _suddenly catches up his tray, and goes about shouting
his wares, with a great air of being very busy._]

DUTCH. Beanuts! Beanuts! Here's your fresh-roasted beanuts!
Bop-corn! Bop-corn und beanuts!

JACK. How do you sell 'em, Dutch?

DUTCH [_incensed_]. You tink I vould _sell_ dem on
_Christmas_? Vot you take me for, hein? Haf some--it's a bresunt.
[_Passes them about, and then takes up his stand (R. front) just
behind the boys._ PEPPER _steps forward and stands beside
the platform. Makes a fine sweeping bow to the boys._]

PEPPER [_with his best professional manner_], Mr. Benjamin
Franklin Simpson and Mr. Daniel Webster Simpson, we have the great
honor to make you welcome to the most world-renowned, the most
marvelous single-ring circus upon the face of this Terrestrial
Globe--Pepper's Perennial Circus, so named because it never folds
its tents from season's end to season's end. I, Gentlemen, am Peter
Piper Pepper, the fortunate proprietor of this colossal assemblage
of artists. The members of my Company have desired the honor of
being presented to you personally before they exhibit to you their
unparalleled skill. It gratifies me exceedingly to comply with this
wish. [_Steps to side of platform and motions to troupe. As he calls
them by name they step forward and bow, with flourishes._] Gentlemen,
allow me to present to you the distinguished, the glorious Signor
Frencelli, and Signor Cocodilla, who have charmed the crowned heads
of Europe. [_The clowns come forward and bow._]

DUTCH [_sotto voce to the boys_]. Deir names is Barney
O'Brien und Jerry Pickle, but dot vouldn't do for der bosters.
[_Clowns sit down._]

PEPPER. Gentlemen, you see before you the world-renowned
Marco Brothers, known from the frozen North to the sunny South, for
their skill and ability in acrobatic feats. One of them also is a
famous bareback rider and performer of feats of equestrian valor. He
has a further talent of which you will be given an example a little
later.

  [HOPKINS _and_ LIMBER JACK _make their bows._

DUTCH. Dot's Harry Hopkins, und de big feller is Limber
Jack. Dey yust bass for brudders.

PEPPER. Now, Gentlemen, our show has the distinction of
possessing the great Mr. Barlow, the only native African minstrel
upon any stage. Mr. Barlow is a prince in his own country, and indeed
we esteem him a prince in whatever sphere he may adorn.

DUTCH. Dot's Ben Chackson, und he ain't crossed no vater
vider dan der riffer. [_Makes a face._] But ve makes it up to der
peoples vat pays for der seats.

PEPPER. And now, Gentlemen, last, but not least we have the
noted, the justly celebrated Professor Wormwood, whose successful
methods of training the dog and the monkey until they are rendered
all but human, have been copied the world over. Professor Wormwood,
with his dog, Schneider, and his South American monkey, Jocko.

  [MIKE _steps upon the stage with the dog and
  monkey, makes his bow, and admonishes
  them to do the same._

DUTCH. Dot's Mike McGinnis.

BUB. Have the dog and the monkey got some other names, too?

DUTCH. No,--dey don' need dem.

PEPPER. Gentlemen, our little entertainment is now about
to begin. Professor Wormwood will give an exhibition of his clever
animals.

  [_As each is called upon to do some little
  "stunt," he bows elaborately, and does
  whatever he has to do with a great deal of
  professional air, then returns to his place,
  as before. The little boys, after_ DUTCH'S
  _suggestion, applaud vigorously, and the
  rest of the troupe look on at each other's
  "acts" with condescending approval.
  These are given in the following order._

  1. Professor Wormwood and his animals.
  2. Frencelli and Cocodilla in juggling feats.
  3. Mr. Barlow, the minstrel, in a darkey story.
  4. Limber Jack in acrobatic exercises.
  5. Marco Brothers, Indian clubs.
  6. Harry Hopkins (a) gives an exhibition of bareback riding.
                   (b) as Mademoiselle Zarah, dances.
  7. Song. Mademoiselle Zarah and Troupe.

  [MIKE _puts the animals through a number of
  tricks._

DUTCH [_to the boys_]. Abplaud! Abplaud!

BUB [_puzzled_]. What?

DUTCH [_clapping hands_]. Abplaud! Dey mus' have abplowse!

  [_While the animals are performing, the
  canvas parts (R. front). Enter_ FARMER
  SIMPSON, _unnoticed by anyone save_
  DUTCH, _who watches him at first uncomprehendingly,
  then with suspicion. The
  farmer looks about in horror, craning his
  neck to see all that is going on. Shakes
  his fist at the Ringmaster, sees the children,
  and makes as if to grab them._ DUTCH
  _interposes his body with determination._

DUTCH [_sotto voce, but decidedly_]. Vot you t'ink you
do--hein?

FARMER. You gi'me those children!

DUTCH. You vaits. You don' gotta take 'em yet.

FARMER. They're mine and I've come to git 'em.

DUTCH. You is deir vater, hein? All right; you vaits.
Shoost sit down und look at der show. [_Shoves him down forcibly
on a convenient box or keg, then carefully stands between him and
the boys. Children shout and applaud the animals. Farmer watches at
intervals, and during each turn he rises as if to protest, and is
emphatically set down by_ DUTCH. _His resistance is more and
more feeble each time, and his interest in the performers visibly
increases, until at the end he actually stands looking open-mouthed
over_ DUTCH'S _shoulder, even betrayed into applause. When
he catches himself clapping, however, he stops short and clasps his
hands behind his back._ PROFESSOR WORMWOOD _finally bows
himself off._]

PETER. I have the honor to announce Signor Frencelli and
Signor Cocodilla in their great act.

  [_Clowns come forward and bow, do juggling
  tricks, etc. Same business for the rest._

SONNY. Oh, Bub, I think our dad would like this, don't you?

BUB. I reckon he would, if he'd just ever come and see it.

  [_Clowns bow themselves off._

PETER. Gentlemen, the famous Mr. Barlow will now entertain
you.

  [_Minstrel tells a darkey story._

BUB. Don't you wish he'd come and live at the farm, Sonny?

SONNY. Yes, I do. S'pose he would?

  [_Minstrel bows and sits down. All applaud._

PETER. Now, Gentlemen, one of the Marco Brothers will show
his marvelous strength and agility.

  [LIMBER JACK _turns flip-flaps, etc. Presently_
  HARRY _steps forward and they swing Indian
  clubs, gayly decorated, to music.
  Then_ LIMBER JACK _takes his seat, and_
  HOPKINS _takes the stage alone._

HARRY. Yer honors, I 'eartily regret that I cannot this
morning give a h'exhibition of my famous bareback riding h'exploits,
h'owing to the fact of our 'orses being h'otherwise h'occupied----
[_confidentially_] a-h'eating their h'oats, ye know. But, h'anyway, I
can make the h'attempt to show you 'ow it is done, with a h'imaginary
'orse. 'Ere, Mr. h'O'Brien, will you kindly h'assist me?

  [BARNEY _brings a chair without a back, and_
  HARRY, _after pretending to quiet a mettlesome
  steed, mounts, and goes through all
  the motions of dashing about the ring bareback.
  He wears an intensely serious look,
  fixing his eyes as it were upon the horse's
  ears, cheering him on, leaping off and on,
  standing lightly on one toe, etc. The
  Ringmaster watches and cracks his whip,
  the music plays a light and quick air, the
  whole troupe rise and watch breathlessly,
  bending in time to the music as if in time
  to a galloping horse._ JERRY _comes forward
  with a wand, and_ HARRY _leaps over
  it. Then_ BARNEY _brings a hoop, wound
  in gay colors, or covered with tissue paper,
  and_ HARRY _springs through it. This is
  his culminating feat, and now the horse
  apparently slows down and stops_, HARRY
  _leaping off and making a low bow toward
  the seats of honor._

BUB [_applauding wildly_]. Why, I could almost see the horse!

  [HARRY _retires to back of stage, and makes
  a quick change in full view of the audience,
  to a ballet skirt and a yellow wig.
  The clowns assist him to dress, hooking
  him up behind, and holding a mirror for
  the proper adjustment of the wig, etc._

PETER. Gentlemen, having shown you his prowess as a bareback
rider, Signor Marco will now be introduced to you in a new light.
Our traveling arrangements being somewhat--ahem!--circumscribed, we
have never been able to carry any of the fair sex with us upon our
tours. Believe me, Gentlemen, such is the surpassing genius of Signor
Marco that we have never felt the need of ladies, as I am sure you
will agree. [HARRY _now comes forward with mincing steps and
a coy smile._] Gentlemen, allow me to present to you the celebrated
artist, the far-famed and charming Mademoiselle Zarah! [_The troupe
all bow with great enthusiasm to the transformed_ HARRY,
_who courtesies and smiles with all professional airs and graces.
The music strikes up, and_ ZARAH _dances. When the dance is
ended_, ZARAH _bows again, and goes through the motions of
catching bouquets from the troupe or audience._]

PETER. Mademoiselle Zarah, assisted by the whole troupe,
will now favor us with a song.

  [_Popular song, adapted to the occasion by the
  use of Christmas words. The boys applaud
  long and loudly; the troupe, after
  making a general farewell bow, break ranks
  and gather around them._ JERRY _and_
  BARNEY _remove platform._

SONNY. I'd like to go to a circus every day.

BUB. Don't I wish I could! Well, it's a fine Christmas
present, anyway.

PETER. Did you like it?

BUB _and_ SONNY. Oh, _did_ we!

BUB. It was just right!

PETER. Can you think of anything that would be an
improvement--for a Christmas celebration, you know?

BUB [_embarrassed_]. Well, Mr. Pepper--you see--we've always
heard the other children telling about Christmas--and Christmas
Trees--and we did wish we could see one. This is next best, you
know--but we did wish we could see a tree.

PEPPER [_nods to clowns_]. Well,--I'm not Herman--nor yet
old Santa Claus, but I guess I can do _this_ trick. [_Waves his whip,
and the two clowns suddenly throw back the canvas (back Center) and
disclose a small tree, lighted and raised high, framed by the sides
of the tent._]

BUB [_claps his hands_]. Oh, is _that_ what a Christmas Tree
looks like!

SONNY. Oh, Bub, let's go and see it. [_They slip down from
their places and slowly approach the tree. Farmer makes as if to
seize them._]

DUTCH [_catching his arm_]. No, sir,--you vaits shtill
longer a leetle bit!

SONNY. Oh, Bub, look at all the pretty shiny things.

BUB. And candy, Sonny, and toys, and the star on top! [_The
men fairly swell with pride._]

BARNEY. Sure it's the best I iver did see, for a small one.

JERRY. Makes me feel like a kid myself--we always had 'em
every year.

MIKE. It joost warms the very cockles of me heart.

HARRY. I'd 'ave you look at their faces--they're 'appy, all
right. It 'as the circus beat h'all 'ollow for them.

JACK. Between the two, they'll not forget _this_ Christmas!

BEN [_leaning over the children_]. Look at all dem C'ris'mas
gif's, honey! Dey's every las' one fer you.

BUB [_disappointed_]. Not anything for anybody else?

SONNY. Not nothing for Ben? I likes Ben!

BUB. And Dutch, and everybody? [_The men are confused at
this turn of affairs._] Only for us? Why, we thought Christmas trees
were for everybody. And they've all been so good to us!

PETER [_throwing himself into the breach_]. No, that's a big
mistake, boys! There _is_ something on that tree for them--something
that says every man in this here show gets a whole week's wages for a
Christmas present, and then he can get what he wants most!

  [_A moment's silence, then there is a great
  clapping of hands, and slapping of each
  other's shoulders, and all press forward
  and shake hands gratefully with_ PETER.

DUTCH [_to Farmer_]. Vot I tells you? No maitter how shtrict
you goes for to be [_slowly, and with emphasis_], you cain't kills
Christmas! Yust look at der liddle tree! Laist night ve all vas reddy
to cut somebody's t'roat, und dis mornin'--Bresto! Shangch!--ve're de
pest frien's efer. It's der Kinder, und der Tree, und Christmas! I
tells you, der ain'd noddings like Christmas der whole vorld rount!

  [_The Farmer, who has been unbending gradually,
  at last nods in hearty acquiescence.
  Music strikes up, and all sing "Christmas
  Song."_ BUB _and_ SONNY, _unmolested,
  climb up to examine the little tree._

[Music: CHRISTMAS SONG[31]]

[Footnote 31: Courtesy of Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company.]

FRANK E. SAVILE.

     1. The Christmas chimes are ringing out,
     Across the valleys sounding clear,
     And as the echoes float about,
     Tell of peace and Christmas cheer,
     With joyous voices bless the day,
     And with sounds of merry cheer,
     Let us all keep holiday
     For Christmas comes but once a year.

     2. Old Christmas comes with merry train,
     Bringing joy and mirth again;
     The chimes ring out the glad refrain,
     "Peace on earth, good will to men."
     Be many Christmas days in store,
     May no sorrow soon befall;
     To young and old, to rich and poor,
     A merry Christmas to you all.


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME, SETTING, AND PRESENTATION

COSTUMES

PEPPER. Scarlet coat, khaki trousers, high black boots. Silk
hat. He wears a mustache, and carries a long whip with a scarlet bow.

ACROBATS. (Hopkins and Limber Jack.) Long stockings, puffed
trunks, and running-shirt, or undershirt, dyed to match. White
bathing-shoes, or "sneakers." Any colors may be used. Light blue for
Jack, and yellow for Hopkins are effective. Hopkins's ballet dress is
made of innumerable skirts of white tarletan, sewed to a low-necked
and short-sleeved waist of same material as his trunks, bespangled
with tinsel. This should be carefully put together and equipped with
buttons and button-holes, to slip on over the acrobat's clothes, so
that Hopkins's "lightning change" can really be made in the least
possible time. Woman's light yellow wig (or, if the boy is fair, a
dark wig), dressed in the extreme of style.

CLOWNS. Pierrot costumes. White with red spots, and yellow
with blue. Faces whitened with the usual red marks. Heads bald and
white. White soft Pierrot hats. They may provide themselves with
"slapsticks," and other properties incidental to their tricks and
jokes.

MINSTREL. Usual minstrel make-up. Black-face, large
collar, gaudy tie and vest. Flowered or large-checked trousers and
dress-coat.

DUTCH. Khaki hat and trousers, shirt-sleeves, velvet vest,
stuffed to make him very rotund. Should be a short, roly-poly boy. He
carries by a strap over his shoulders a tray with bags of peanuts,
rolls of popcorn, etc. (Which will probably need to be kept under
lock and key until time for its use.)

ANIMAL-TRAINER. Dress suit and silk hat. Carries a
riding-whip.

TIM. Red flannel shirt, old trousers, very old felt hat,
boots. May double with

FARMER SIMPSON. Old overcoat and straw hat. Red hair and
chin beard.

DOG _and_ MONKEY. It is best to rent these costumes
from a costumer, though, if preferred, close-fitting suits of brown
and black canton flannel, with long tails, may be made, and the heads
only, rented. Chain for monkey, leash for dog.

BUB _and_ SONNY. Overalls, sneakers, and big straw
farm hats.

SETTING

TENT. A most effective circus-tent can be made by fastening
strips of unbleached muslin above the stage-arch, and sloping them
down to a wire stretched five feet above floor at back of stage, then
dropping straight to floor. Back the entrances to the other tents
with more canvas, to represent a straight-sided passage.

THE CIRCUS PERFORMANCE

A great deal of liberty may be allowed here. This play having been
written for a boys' club, the boys were intrusted with the duty of
working up the individual "acts," which they did very successfully,
with a little oversight and revision from those in charge.

The tricks by the Dog and Monkey were seesawing, boxing with gloves,
dancing, fighting a duel, etc., etc.

The Clowns introduced an "elephant walk," a race, juggling with
balls, and other tricks.

The Minstrel collected the latest and snappiest stories he could
find, and told them with zest.

The boys' own list of acrobatic feats, which will be understood by
boys doing work in a gymnasium, was as follows:

  1. Roll. Back and forth.
  2. Roll and frog leap.
  3. Short dive.
  4. Long dive.
  5. High dive.
  6. High dive over man.
  7. Weight-lifting.
  8. Two-man dive.
  9. Double roll.
  10. Pyramid.

They also included turning flip-flaps, walking on the hands, swinging
clubs, etc. The Pyramid, at the end, was formed by the whole troupe,
on hands and knees, the lightest boys on top, and at a given signal
all fell flat on the mattress.

The bareback riding of Hopkins and the dance of Zarah are fully
described in the text.

MUSIC

A good two-step, rapidly played, will serve for the galloping horse,
and Zarah can adapt herself to any modern dance-music.

For this play a carol or hymn is not appropriate, but rather a jolly
song embodying the idea of "Christmas comes but once a year."



MINTY-MALVINY'S SANTA CLAUS

PLAY IN ONE ACT


CHARACTERS

  HENRI LEBRETON.
  ALPHONSE, his mulatto servant.
  LAURA COURVOISIER, his sister.
  LOUISE  }
  ANNETTE } Her children.
  PHILIP  }
  MINTY-MALVINY, a pickaninny.


MINTY-MALVINY'S SANTA CLAUS

Adapted from the story in _Wide Awake_ by M.E.M. Davis.[32]

[Footnote 32: Used by courtesy of Colonel Thomas E. Davis.]

TIME: _Christmas Eve and Christmas morning._

SCENE: LEBRETON'S _room in_ MADAME
CLEMENTINE'S _handsome lodging-house in the Rue Bourbon, New
Orleans._

     NOTE.--The curtain falls for a moment, during the
     play, to indicate the passing of Christmas Eve and the
     coming of Christmas Day.

_Curtain rises showing a comfortable room, strewn with a bachelor's
possessions. [R.] a fireplace[33] with wood fire, brass dogs, a large
armchair, and footstool on the hearth-rug. [L.], curtain indicates
an alcove with a bed. Near curtain, an old-fashioned low-boy with
toilet articles before the mirror,--military brushes, cologne, etc.,
etc. Lighted candles here, and also on each side of gilt mirror above
mantel. Shaded lamp on center table, littered with books, papers,
a box of cigars, ash-tray, etc._ LEBRETON _seated in the
easy-chair._ LAURA _leaning over the back._

[Footnote 33: See note on Fireplace, p. 313.]


LAURA [_affectionately stroking her brother's hair_]. Oh,
Henri, you can't guess how good it is to be at home again!

LEB. Oh, yes, I can! What do you suppose it has meant to me
to have you and Louis and the children wandering over the face of
the earth all these months? I've been a lost soul without you, and
your home to go to.

LAURA. Traveling's all very nice and interesting, but it
does pall! I grew tired to death of it--I just pined to come home
again, Henri. [_Sits on arm of chair._]

LEB. And here you are at last, in time to save your poor old
brother from utter desolation at Christmas time.

LAURA. Oh, but I wish the house had been ready for us--it
hardly feels like Christmas anywhere but in the dear old place. But
Louis said it wouldn't do to hurry the workmen too much.

LEB. No--they'd only make a botch of it. But you are
comfortable here, aren't you?

LAURA. Yes, indeed--you've taken such nice rooms for us,
Henri. It's just the sentiment of it, you know, and I oughtn't have
spoken. And Madame Clementine does everything to make us feel at home
and comfortable.

LEB. How about the service--are the maids attentive, Laura?

LAURA. Ask such a question about darkies just before
Christmas? Henri, you are a dear old silly! Of course they are. And
so many of them--I see a new one to provide with a "C'ris'mus gif'"
every day, I think. To-day I noticed another--not exactly a maid,
that is, but a funny little oddity of a pickaninny who seems to live
just to "fotch an' carry."

LEB. Yes, I've seen that little monkey--does she really
belong here?

LAURA. I'm not sure--I must ask Madame Clementine about
her.... Henri, if we are to make that call, I must get my things at
once.

LEB. This is so cozy--do you think you _must_ rout me out?

LAURA. Poor dear, his conscience has come home again!
[_Rises._] Yes, I think we really ought. I've been at home three
days, you know, and the Percivals are such old friends, and Helen has
been ill---- [_Goes to door._] I'll only be a moment.

LEB. [_going to ring bell_]. Very well, Madame, I'm at your
service. If you are my conscience, sis, you certainly manage to
sweeten my duty.

LAURA [_laughing_]. That's just your flattery!

  [_Exit._ LEBRETON _goes to find gloves. Enter_
  ALPHONSE.

ALPH. Did you ring, M'sieu Henri?

LEB. Yes. Get me my coat, Alphonse. Madame Courvoisier and I
are going out for a while. [ALPHONSE _brings coat and silk
hat, which he brushes, then helps_ LEBRETON _into coat._]
I shan't be late. [_Goes to door._] But maybe you've calls to make
yourself? [ALPHONSE _puts on a conscious smirk._] Well, you
needn't wait for me--Christmas Eve, you know. [_Exit, putting on
gloves._]

ALPH. Thanks, M'sieu Henri. [_Looks about room, sees cane,
which he catches up and hurries after_ LEBRETON.] M'sieu
Henri!

  [_Exit._ MINTY-MALVINY _appears at door.
  Looks cautiously after_ ALPHONSE. _Enters
  and minces about._

M.-M. [_sings_].

     De rabbit and de jaybird, dey fell out!
           Walk jes' so!
     De possum and de coon dey want ter know what erbout.
           Walk jes' so!

[_Goes to window and looks out._] Hit am plumb dark! Old Santa
Claus mus' be a-hitchin' up dem plow-mules o' hisn by dis time.
My lan'! de white folks is havin' er good time, I 'low! [_Goes to
fire and sits on a stool._] Dem dolls, an' dem doll cheers, an'
dem rollin'-pins in de show-winders is mighty fine. [_Sighs, and
continues meditatively._] Pow'ful scrumptious dey was! Dass de kin'
o' C'ris'mus gif' whar ole Santa Claus gwine ter fotch ter all de
white chillen in dis yer town in de mawnin'! Santa Claus ain't got
no 'quaintance wid niggers, dat I knows on--lessen it am niggers on
de sugar-plantations;--he ain't never hearn tell o' town niggers. My
lan', whyn't de Lawd mek me white whilse He 'uz about it! Hit mus' be
jes' ez easy fer de Lawd ter mek er white chile ez er black chile!
[_Rests her head disconsolately on her knees for a moment. Suddenly,
as a great idea dawns upon her, she lifts her head and claps her
hands._] Hi! I got it! [_Springs to her feet and begins to dance a
double-shuffle with all her might, shouting._] Sho's you bawn, I'ze
gwine ter do it! I'ze gwine ter mek m'se'f er white chile! I'ze gwine
ter do it, sho'!

  [_In the midst of her wild dance_, ALPHONSE
  _appears in doorway, and stands transfixed
  with horror._

ALPH. [_furiously_]. Bête! Wat you do here, in M'sieu Henri
LeBreton's room? Ah'm a-goin' to _keel_ you! [_He darts after, and
they dash about the room at top speed_, MINTY-MALVINY _always just
out of his reach._]

M.-M. I ain' 'fraid o' no French nigger lak you! [_She leads him a
dance, but finally rushes out at door._ ALPHONSE _recovers
his dignity, and goes to attend to fire._ MINTY-MALVINY
_appears before door again, walking up and down with mincing steps
and singing with a meaning air._]

M.-M.

     De yallergater ax fer de jack-o'lantern's light,
           Walk jes' so!
     Fer to go ter see his gal thoo' de swamp in de night,
           Walk jes' so!

  [ALPHONSE _listens, rattles irons angrily, then
  runs to door with poker in hand._ MINTY-MALVINY
  _promptly takes to her heels._

ALPH. "Walk jes' so!" An' if you don't walk jes' so, I'll show you
how, _gamine_! [_Goes about arranging room for the night. Lays_
LEBRETON'S _dressing-gown and slippers by the fire, puts out candles
on mantel, then goes to dresser, where he pauses to admire himself._
MINTY-MALVINY _slips in, a small brown paper bag in one hand and a
very ragged stocking in the other. She hides behind the easy-chair,
but manages to keep a sharp eye on_ ALPHONSE, _with scornful mouth,
for his vanity._ ALPHONSE _struts complacently before the glass,
moistens his handkerchief with his master's cologne, puts out the
candles, goes to table, where he helps himself to the cigars, puts
out light, and exit._ MINTY-MALVINY _comes out from hiding-place,
makes sure he is really gone, and relights candles._]

M.-M. [_with deep scorn_]. Dar! I knowed dat French nigger 'u'd
steal! I gwine ter tell on him in de mawnin' de minit I get er
chance. [_Sits down on her heels before the fire, screwing up her
mouth and chuckling with glee._] Now, now, I'ze gwine ter mek myse'f
inter er white chile. [_Opens bag in which she carries a dab of
flour, with which she proceeds to powder her face as liberally as
the bag allows. Then she produces the stocking and examines it with
care._] Co'se hit's holey, but den Santa Claus kin stuff er gob
er candy er sumpn in de toe-hole, an' er bannanner, er o'ange, in
de heel-hole, and some reesins er a'mon's in de res' o' de holes.
[_She gets up to hang the stocking._] Hump! dis is sump'n lak a
chimbly, dis is! Santa Claus ain' gwine ter hu't hisse'f comin'
down a stovepipe. Some white folks is funny. [_She catches sight of
herself in the mirror above the mantel._] My lan'! Kingdom come! I
is tu'ned inter er white chile, sho'! An' ole Santa Claus gwine ter
be fooled, sho' as I is er nigger!... Now I gwine ter scrooch down
on de rug hyar an' watch. [_Settles herself comfortably._] I gwine
ter hol' my eyes open [_yawns aloud_] ontwel I see ole Santa Claus
crope down dis yer chimbly. Den I gwine ter ax him howdy, an' den I
gwine ter p'int out what I bleedge ter hev fer C'ris'mus. Ca'se I
ain' gwine ter be er white chile fer nuffin. [_This with some energy,
but she grows more and more drowsy._] I gwine ter ax fer er wax
doll lak whar in der show-winder, an' er cheer, an' er cradle----
[MINTY-MALVINY _falls asleep._]

  [_After a moment, enter_ LEBRETON, _quietly.
  Turns on light, goes to dresser, sets down
  hat, and drawing off gloves, tosses them
  into it. Crosses to fire, and sees_ MINTY-MALVINY.
  _Stirs her gently with his foot._

LEB. [_not unkindly_]. Here, you little imp, get up! What
are you doing here? Who are you, anyway?

M.-M. [_springing to her feet, then falling on her knees on the
rug_]. I ax you howdy, Mister Santa Claus! I hope you's feelin'
pretty peart?

LEB. [_to himself_]. Oh, Mister Santa Claus, am I?

M.-M. [_hurriedly_]. I'ze name Mint--I'ze er white chile, Mister
Santa Claus, an' I'ze name Miss Ann. I'ze er white chile sho's you
bawn, Mister Santa Claus!

LEB. [_laughing_]. Oh, are you? And your name is Miss Ann?

M.-M. [_with assurance_]. Yes-sir. Law, Marse Santa Claus [_laughs
hysterically and rocks herself back and forth on her knees_], I'ze
mos' sho' dat I seed you clammin' down de chimbly jes' now! An' I has
been settin' up all night jes' ter ax yer howdy, an' ter ax yer ter
fotch me er gre't big wax doll lak whar in der show-winder, an' er
cheer, an' er cradle, an' some cups an' sassers wid blue on de aidge
lak whar ole Mis' had on de sugar-plantation whar me an' Mammy come
f'um. An' dat stockin' whar I is done hung up, hit am pow'ful holey,
I knows. But I ain't got no Mammy ter men' it, an' ef er gob er candy
wuz in de toe-hole, an' er o'ange in de heel-hole,--oh, Mister Santa
Claus, Marse Santa Claus, I is er white chile! Cross my heart, I
is! [_Bursts into tears, as_ LEBRETON _takes hold of the
stocking and looks it over, trying hard to restrain his laughter._]
Oh, Marse Santa Claus! [_Wails._] You is knowed all de time dat I wuz
lyin'! I ain't nuffin but er good-fer-nuffin li'l' black nigger whar
is name Minty-Malviny.

LEB. [_almost overcome with laughter_]. Now I am surprised!

M.-M. An' I ain' fitten fer ter hev no C'ris'mus gif'.

LEB. Hush! [_Takes off his light coat, pushes her down on
the rug, and throws the coat over her._] Lie down and go to sleep.
[_With mock sternness._] If you're not asleep within two minutes,
I'll---- [_His threat ends in a growl._]

  [MINTY-MALVINY _sobs for a moment or two,
  but quickly falls asleep, breathing deeply
  and quietly._ LEBRETON _comes forward
  and stands perplexed._

LEB. Well, I reckon Santa Claus will have to call for help.
Laura can't have gone to bed yet.... I'll get her. [_Exit, returning
almost at once with_ LAURA.] That's good! Come in a moment.

LAURA [_anxiously_]. Oh, Henri, what is it?

LEB. [_laughing_]. A trifle! [_Puts his hand on her
shoulder._] My pack has given out, and I'm 'bleeged to have a big wax
doll, like whar in de show-winder, and a cheer, and some dishes, lak
ole Miss's on de plantation; and all for a 'spectable young cullud
pusson named Minty-Malviny!

LAURA [_mystified_]. Henri! I don't understand.

LEB. No, but you will in a moment. See what I found when
I came in. [_Leads her over to rug, lifts corner of coat, and
discloses_ MINTY-MALVINY _fast asleep._] Isn't this your
little waif, Laura?

LAURA. Yes. But what in the world has she been doing to
herself?

LEB. Sh-sh! Don't waken her! [_They speak in lowered
voices._] Why, she was waiting for Santa Claus, and her past
experience of the old gentleman's impartiality seems to be
responsible for an experiment. Anyway, she popped up and assured me
that she was er white chile sho's I was bawn, and her name was Miss
Ann. But it stuck in her throat----

LAURA [_laughing_]. No wonder!

LEB. And she presently broke down and wailed that she warn't
fitten ter hev no Christmas gift. Now, do you suppose you can find
anything for her?

LAURA. Certainly I can, poor little soul. Such a lot of
things have come--ever so much more than the children need. I'll look
them over. [_Going._]

LEB. Wait a minute--have you any fruit in your rooms?

LAURA. Yes--a whole dish. I'll bring it. [_Exit._]

LEB. [_rummaging about on dresser_]. Er gob er candy fer
de toe-hole. Ah--this will do nicely. [_Finds box of candy. Enter_
LAURA _with fruit._]

LAURA. Here, Henri, fill her stocking with these. I'll get
some toys. [_Exit._ LEBRETON _takes dish, and sits down to
fill stocking._]

LEB. [_working busily_]. Er gob er candy--there, that's it. An' er
o'ange fer the heel-hole. Good! Here are the nuts an' reesins for all
the other holes--and bananas for the leg! [_Enter_ LAURA. LEBRETON
_holds up stocking proudly for her inspection._] There! I flatter
myself I'm good at the business, though you may say that that leg is
hardly as fat as Minty-Malviny's own.

  [LAURA _laughs approval, and busies herself
  arranging doll in armchair, with other
  toys about her._ LEBRETON _tries to hang
  stocking._

LEB. Oh, hang it!

LAURA. What, the stocking?

LEB. Yes--no--yes, that's exactly what I can't do! Come and
help me, will you? [_They struggle with it together, making some
noise._]

LAURA. Hush, Santa Claus, you'll wake her! [_The stocking
is hung, the toys arranged, they stand surveying the display, and
putting last touches._]

LEB. Oh, Laura, this is gorgeous! But you mustn't be too
generous.

LAURA. Nonsense, the children will never miss them. [_They
stand looking down at the coat._ LAURA _lifts the edge and
kneels beside_ MINTY-MALVINY.] She's too funny--poor little
monkey! Oh, Henri, when we are back in our own home, I should like to
take this poor little neglected thing and give her a home and look
after her a little. Do you suppose I could?

LEB. I don't see what's to prevent. She looks perfectly
friendless. [_They rise and go to door._]

LAURA. You are a good heart, Henri.

LEB. The good heart is yours! I'm Marse Santa Claus--and I intend
to put Minty-Malviny in your stocking! [_Both laugh heartily, but
quietly, and exchange good nights._ LAURA _goes._ LEBRETON _comes
back, standing at table a moment._]

LEB. I believe I rather envy the old gentleman! [_Puts out
light and goes towards alcove, his dressing gown thrown over his
arm._]

  [_Curtains are drawn for a moment, to indicate
  the passing of the night. When they open,
  daylight has come, the fire is dim_, MINTY-MALVINY
  _is waking._

M.-M. [_catching sight of toys, as she sits up and stretches_].
Ow! Wow! Wow! [_She fairly yells, beside herself with joy._] Ole
Santa Claus done come down de chimbly sho' 'nuff, lak I seed him!
An' he done fotch me er wax doll, an' er set o' dishes, same ez ef
I wuz er white chile! Oh, Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy! [_Jumps up and gets
down stocking, feeling it, and peering through the holes._] Er gob
er candy in de toe-hole, and er o'ange in de heel-hole. [_Pauses
suddenly, her arm thrust into the stocking._] Lawd, I is glad I didn'
try ter stick ter dat lie about bein' er white chile whar name Miss
Ann! [_Continues her ecstatic rummaging._] My lan'! I jes' ez lief be
er nigger ez er white chile! An' er heap liefer!

  [_Enter_ ALPHONSE, _with an armful of firewood.
  Stands horrified on the threshold,
  then rushes forward._

ALPH. Ah-h-h-h! 'tite diablesse! va-t-en! I'm goin' to shake
the life out of you, singe!

  [_A boot whizzes past his ear, from the direction
  of the alcove._

LEB. [_imperiously_]. Let her alone, you rascal! If you dare
to touch her I'll thrash you within an inch of your life!

ALPH. [_obsequiously_]. Yaa-as, M'sieu Henri.

M.-M. [_maliciously, half whispering_]. Walk jes' so! [_Makes a face
at_ ALPHONSE. _Aloud._] I'ze dat gemplum's nigger whar is
dar in de bade, an' I gwine he'p mek he fiah. [ALPHONSE
_goes viciously to work to make the fire, frustrating_
MINTY-MALVINY'S _attempts when possible, snatching the poker
away from her, etc. She is exasperatingly pleasant and superior._]
You ain' bresh de hearf. [_He does so, and gathers up the rubbish
with one last grimace._]

ALPH. [_at door_]. Singe!

  [_Exit._

M.-M. [_tossing her head and chuckling_]. Dat French nigger don' dass
say nuffin to me, no mo'!

  [_Enter_ LEBRETON _from alcove, tying the
  cords of his dressing gown._

LEB. Good-morning, Minty-Malviny--Merry Christmas to you!

M.-M. [_bobbing little courtesies to him_]. Mawnin', Marse
Henry--same to you, suh! [_Looks at him with puzzled
half-recognition, head on one side, like a bright little bird._]

LEB. [_to himself, sitting near table_]. She's nearly sharp
enough to know me! [_To her._] Minty-Malviny, what are all those
things? Where did you get them?

M.-M. [_diverted from her study, turns to the toys_]. 'Deed, Marse
Henry, I didn't _took_ 'em f'um nobody. Ole Santa Claus done come
down dis yer chimbly an' fotch 'em heself.

LEB. You don't say so! How do you know he did?

M.-M. Done saw him, Marse Henry.

LEB. You did? Did he scare you?

M.-M. Laws, no! I'ze erspectin' him, co'se, an' I jes' 'membered ma
manners an' ax him howdy, an' he gib me all dese gran' C'ris'mus
gif's.

LEB. All those for _you_, Minty-Malviny?

M.-M. [_coming closer_]. Yes, Marse Henry, I is some s'prised myse'f.
I didn't s'pose no li'l' nigger could hab no such gran' C'ris'mus--I
'lowed 'twar on'y fer de white folks. [_Squats near him, on the
floor, hugging her knees._]

LEB. [_aside_], I 'low white folks do have the lion's share,
myself. [_To her._] See here, Minty-Malviny--where's your Mammy--who
owns you, anyway?

M.-M. Laws, Marse Henry, ain' got no Mammy. She brung me in f'um ole
Mis's plantation, an' den she jes' up an' lef me.

LEB. Who takes care of you?

M.-M. [_with dignity_]. Takes cyah ob myse'f--don' need nobody to
min' _me_.

LEB. Do you mean you earn your own living?

M.-M. Co'se I does! I runs a'rons fo' Mam' Dilcey--dat's you-all's
cook--an' I does chores. An' Mam' Dilcey she treats me pretty
good--dat is, mos'ly. [_Rubs her ear reminiscently._]

LEB. Where do you sleep?

M.-M. Oh, mos' anywheres. [_Sidles nearer to him._] I lak yo'
hearf-rug fust-rate, Marse Henry.

LEB. Oh, you do? [_Aside._] Part of the C'ris'mus gif',
I suppose. [_To her._] Well, Minty-Malviny, my sister, Mrs.
Courvoisier, is here now. In a few weeks she will be going to her own
home--a fine great house, with a big garden--more like your ole Mis's
plantation, you know. How would you like to go and live with her, and
wait on her, and help mind her baby?

M.-M. Dat do soun' mighty scrumptious! But--Marse Henry---- [_looking
at him shyly from the corners of her eyes_] ef it's all er same to
_you_--I'd er heap druther be yo'r li'l' nigger. [_Suddenly turns and
kneels at his feet._]

LEB. [_taken aback, turns away and walks down stage_].
Well--this turn of affairs looks rather more like my sock than
Laura's stocking! [_Turns to her again._] But what about Alphonse?

M.-M. [_with concentrated scorn_]. Dat French nigger! Why---- [_very
rapidly_] he cain't eben mek a fiah!

  [_There is a rush from the door. Enter the
  children, followed by_ LAURA. _The children
  throw themselves upon_ LEBRETON
  _with enthusiastic shouts._

CHILDREN. Christmas gift, Uncle! Christmas gift!

PHILIP. We caught you, we caught you!

LAURA. Merry Christmas, Henri!

LEB. I've no breath left to say Merry Christmas, you young bears!
[_Shakes them off, laughing._] Unhand me, villains! I want to tell
you something. There is somebody else here. Minty-Malviny, this is
my sister, Mrs. Courvoisier [MINTY-MALVINY _courtesies to them all,
with little bobs of her head_], and these are my nieces, Miss Louise
and Miss Annette. And here is my nephew, Master Philip Courvoisier.
[_Sits down, with_ PHILIP _on his knee._] Children, when you go home,
Minty-Malviny is going with you, to look after you, and play games,
and tell stories.

PHILIP. Can she tell stories? Oh, goody!

LOUISE [_aside_]. Oh, Mother, how ragged she is!

ANNETTE. Goody! I like stories, too!

LOUISE. Are those your Christmas presents?

PHILIP. Was your stocking just awful full?

ANNETTE. Just plumb full? Ours were.

M.-M. Yes'm, hit sho'ly wuz!

LOUISE. What nice things--did Santa Claus leave them for you?

M.-M. Yes'm. Ole Santa Claus done brung 'em, an' I never 'lowed he'd
gib 'em to no pickaninny [_with lowered voice_], so I powd'ed myse'f
up an' let on lak I'ze er white chile!

ANNETTE. You did! What fun!

M.-M. An' den he come down dat chimbly an' seed me.

PHILIP. Right down this chimney? [_Slips off_
LEBRETON'S _knee, and runs to look up chimney._
LEBRETON _rises and stands by_ LAURA.]

M.-M. Sho's you bawn, honey!

LOUISE. And you saw him?

M.-M. 'Deed I did, Miss Louise. [_The children gather close, and_
MINTY-MALVINY _tells her story with effective drops in her
voice, followed by sudden and startling crescendos._] When he crope
down dat chimbly, an' sot he eyes on me de fust time, he knowed
I wa'n't no white chile. Ca'ze he eyes uz big ez yo' maw's chiny
plates! But he didn' keer! He jes' up an' tuk dat wax doll, an' dem
dishes, an' dat cheer, an' dat table, an' dat cradle out'n de ba-ag
whar he had on he back, an' gun 'em ter me jes' de same ez ef I 'uz
white ez you-alls. But I mos' sho' dat he wouldn' er lef 'em, ner
stuff dat stockin' full er goodies, ef I'd er kep' on tellin' him dat
lie about bein' er white chile whar name Miss Ann! My lan' [_this
with an air of great virtue and pride_], I is glad ole Mis' l'arnt me
to tell de troof!

PHILIP. What did Santa Claus look like?

LOUISE. He brings us things, but we never saw him.

ANNETTE. No, he always comes when we are asleep.

M.-M. Wa-al, he 'uz sump'n lak yo' Unc' Henry, on'y not er leas'
mite gooder-lookin' dan Marse Henry, caze Marse Henry he de bestes'
gempm'n on dis yearth! But he 'uz sump'n lak yo' Unc' Henry. 'Cep'n
he's hade touch de top er de house! [_Makes a quick and startling
motion with her hand and rolls her eyes._] An' he voice big an'
deep, an' growly lak a gre't big b'ar. An' de foot he kicked me wif,
'uz big ez de kitchen stove. [_Resumes her ordinary voice._] Ya-as,
chillen, ef Marse Henry 'uz mo' bigger, an' mo' higher, he 'u'd look
jes' eszactly lak ole Mister Santa Claus!


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME AND PRESENTATION

Ordinary modern costume. LeBreton should have an iron-gray beard.
Laura and her children daintily and attractively dressed.

Alphonse, mulatto servant, very dandified and vain.

Minty-Malviny, a black pickaninny, in rags and tatters, nondescript
and faded. Her wool braided into little pigtails tied with odd bits
of ribbon and string.

LeBreton, Laura, and Alphonse, by adults. Laura's children, five to
nine years. Minty-Malviny, ten years old. This part could be played
by a boy.

MUSIC. During the moment when the curtain is drawn for
the passing of the night, "Holy Night," or some other well-known
Christmas hymn, is very softly played off stage. LeBreton hums the
same air while filling the stocking, and moving about stage before
this interim.



THE HUNDRED

A PLAY IN ONE ACT


CHARACTERS

  MRS. DARLING, a young and pretty widow.
  MRS. BONNET, the lady's maid.
  CATHERINE, the parlor maid.
  MRS. MCGRATH, the cook.
  SALLY, the kitchen maid.
  TIBBIE, from the East Side.


THE HUNDRED

Adapted from the story by Gertrude Hall.[34]

[Footnote 34: Copyrighted, 1896, by Harper & Bros. Used by courtesy
of Miss Hall and Harper & Bros.]


TIME: _Christmas Eve._

SCENE: MRS. DARLING'S _dressing-room. Dressing-table, with elaborate
and glittering toilette articles, and a large and rather showy
photograph of the late_ MR. DARLING, _also a smaller one of_ MRS.
DARLING'S _cousin, the_ REVEREND DOREL GOODHUE. _R., an alcove hidden
by curtains, containing a couch on which repose The Hundred dolls.
Stage requires two entrances, one communicating with_ MRS. DARLING'S
_bedroom, the other with the rest of the house._


  [_Enter_ CATHERINE, _with two carriage wraps,
  which she surveys critically._

CATHERINE [_sniffing at one of the wraps, with a sharp
glance at the bedroom door_]. Humph. If there's the merest smidgeon
of camphire about this, I'll hear from it! It's been airing 'most a
week, too. [_Lays them carefully on couch or chair, then stepping
softly, surveys the dressing-table and its appointments. Takes up
newspaper from chair, and glances over it while expressing her
sentiments._] I'll just take this down with me till it's called for.
What with Mr. Jackson the butler, and Sally the kitchen-maid always
going home nights, and Cook slippin' off to her bloomin' family every
chance she gets, it's likely to be lonesome for me this evening.
I'll be bound Mrs. Bonnet'll be off with some friend or other, the
minute Mrs. Darling's out of the house. Not that _her_ company's
over-pleasant. I'd rather stay alone any time. It's good luck for
every other soul in the house when Mrs. Darling dines out. But _I_
never come in for the extras.

  [_Enter_ SALLY _with fur-lined carriage shoes,
  which she places beside the wraps._

SALLY. Mrs. Darling wanted those warmed in the kitchen. I
sh'd think all these fur fixin's 'd be warm enough without no stove.

CATHERINE [_sullenly_]. You going, too, I suppose?

SALLY. Why, yes. Ain't I done everything? There's no need of
me staying, is there?

CATHERINE. No, I don't suppose there is. I just thought you
might be, that's all.

SALLY. Tell you what I'd like to do!

CATHERINE. What'd you like to do, Sally?

SALLY [_confidentially_]. That's to come back again after
I've been home for just a minute.

CATHERINE [_looks up, unable to conceal her interest_]. You
don't mean just to oblige, do you, Sally?

SALLY. Well, I'd do it in a minute, for nothing else beside,
but that ain't quite all I was thinking of, just this once. Miss
Catherine---- [_hesitates, then continues enthusiastically_] ----have
you seen 'em in there? The whole hundred of 'em laid out in the
alcove here. [_Draws back curtain a little, partly disclosing the
couch with an array of daintily dressed dolls. They pick up one or
two, and look them over admiringly._] I saw 'em last night when Mrs.
Bonnet she sent me up for the lamps to clean, and I've been thinkin'
about it ever since. Law! wouldn't any child like to see a sight
like that! There's a little girl in my tenement, she'd just go crazy.
Do you think there'd be any harm in it, if I was to bring her over
and let her get one peep? She's as clean a child as ever you saw. She
comes of dreadful poor folks, but just as respectable. She never seen
anything like it in her life. Law, what would I have done when I was
a young one, if I'd seen that? I'd thought I was dead and gone to
heaven. I say, Miss Catherine, do you think anybody'd mind?

CATHERINE [_callously_]. How'll they know? Look here, Sally;
you go along as fast as you can, and fetch your young one. And when
you've got back, perhaps I'll step out a minute, two or three doors
up street, and you can answer the bell while I'm gone. Now hurry into
your things. I'll give you your car-fare.

SALLY. Miss Catherine, you're just as good as you can be,
and I'll do something to oblige you, too, sometime. [_Exeunt._]

  [_Enter_ MRS. DARLING _from bedroom in evening
  dress. Takes her cousin's photo from
  dressing-table and holds it at arm's length._

MRS. DARLING. Well, sir, does your charming cousin reach
your standard of feminine appearance? Or is she still far from that
pinnacle of elegance to which she aspires? She should be perfect
indeed when she is to pose before the world as the highly-favored of
the distinguished Mr. Goodhue.... And all the time, I know perfectly
well that he prefers Quaker gowns, or hospital caps and aprons....
Well, I'm not exactly a lily of the field, but when it comes to
Solomon in all his glory!... The morning papers will say so, at
least. "The Reverend Dorel Goodhue, accompanied by his cousin, Mrs.
Darling," _and_ so forth. Oh, sometimes I do grow so tired of it all!
It's such a farce!... Now, this won't do at all. The Reverend Dorel
Goodhue may preach to me on Sunday mornings, from a properly elevated
pulpit, in a proper and decorous and conventional manner, but----
Just be kind enough to turn your reproachful face away, sir, and
let your cousin finish her prinking. [_Replaces photo face down._]
Bonnet, why don't you come and do my hair?

  [_Enter_ BONNET, _slowly waving a hot curling
  iron._

BONNET. Yes, Mrs. Darling.

  [MRS. DARLING _sits before mirror beautifying
  her finger-nails, while_ BONNET _curls
  a few straggling locks of hair._

MRS. D. [_diligently polishing, murmurs_]. Mind what you are
about.

  [BONNET _removes tongs and catches the lock
  with greater precaution._

MRS. D. [_louder, with a warning acid in her voice_]. Mind
what you are about!

  [BONNET _begins again, after a pause to make
  firm her nerve, catching the hair with infinite
  solicitude._

MRS. D. [_almost screams_]. Mind what you're about! Didn't I
_tell_ you to be careful? You've been pulling right along at the same
hair! _Do_ consider that it is a human scalp, and not a _wig_--you
are dealing with! Bonny, you're not a bad woman, but you will wear me
out. Come, go on with it; it's getting late. [_She turns the photo
face out once more, and after a moment, as if the sight of it made
her repent, she rolls up her eyes angelically to the reflection of_
BONNET'S _face in the mirror._] Bonny, do you think that
black moiré of mine would make over nicely for you? I am going to
give it to you. No, don't thank me--it makes me look old. Now, my fur
shoes.

  [BONNET _brings the shoes and begins to struggle
  with them._

MRS. D. [_bracing herself against_ BONNET'S
_efforts_]. I suppose--I suppose I have a very bad temper! [_Laughs
in a sensible, natural way._] Tell the truth, Bonny; if every
mistress had to have a certificate from her maid, you would give me a
pretty bad one, wouldn't you? But I was abominably brought up. I used
to slap my governesses. And I've had all sorts of illnesses; trouble,
too. And I mostly don't mean anything by it. It's just nerves. Poor
Bonny! I do treat you shamefully, don't I?

BONNET [_expanding in the light of this uncommon
familiarity_]. Oh, ma'am, I would give you a character as would make
it no difficulty in you getting a first-class situation right away;
you may depend upon it, ma'am, I would. Don't this shoe seem a bit
tight, ma'am?

MRS. D. Not at all. It's a whole size larger than the old
ones. If you would just be so good as to hold the shoe-horn properly.
There, that is it. [_Rises and stands surveying the two wraps._]
Which shall I wear? [BONNET _draws back for a critical view,
but dares not suggest unprompted._] The blue is prettier, but the
gray with ermine is more becoming. Oh, Bonny, decide for me quickly,
like a tossed-up penny!

BONNET. Well, I think now I should say the blue one, ma'am.

MRS. D. [_musing_]. Should you? But I look less well in
it. Surely I would rather look pretty myself than have my dress
look pretty, wouldn't I? Give me the gray, and hurry. Mr. Goodhue
will be here in a second.... Bonnet, you trying creature! Didn't
I _tell_ you to put a hook and eye in the neck of this? Didn't I
_tell_ you? _Where_ are your ears? _Where_ are your senses? What on
_earth_ do you spend your time thinking about, I should like to know,
anyway? I wouldn't wear that thing as it _is_, not for--not for----
Oh, I'm tired of living surrounded by fools! Take it away--take it
away! Bring the other one.... Now, button my gloves. [_Looks at
herself in the glass, passively letting_ BONNET _take one
of her arms to button the glove. Murmurs._] Ouch! Go softly; you
pinch! [BONNET _changes her method, and pulls very gently.
Louder._] Ouch! You pinch me! [BONNET _stops short, looks
helplessly at the glove, casts up her eyes as if appealing to heaven,
then tries again._]

MRS. D. [_screams_]. Ouch, ouch, ouch! You pinch like anything! I'm
black and blue! [_Tears her arm from the quaking_ BONNET, _fidgets
with the button, and pulls it off._] Bonnet, how many times must I
tell you to sew the buttons fast on my gloves before you give them to
me to put on?... No, they were not! [_Pulls off the glove and throws
it far across the room. A knock at the door._]

MAN'S VOICE [_respectfully_]. Mr. Goodhue is below, ma'am.

MRS. D. [_humbly, like a child reminded of its promise to
behave_]. Get another pair, and let me go. [_Tucks a final rose, or
bunch of violets into the bosom of her dress, turns to leave the
room, then pauses to draw back the curtains and look at the dolls.
Speaks gushingly._] Aren't they lovely, the hundred of them? Did you
ever see such a sight? One prettier than the other! I almost wish I
were one of the little girls, myself!

BONNET. Them that gets them will be made happy, surely,
ma'am. I suppose it's for some Christmas Tree?

MRS. D. They are for my cousin Dorel's Orphans. Pick up,
Bonny. Open the windows. Mind you tell Jackson to look at the
furnace. I shall not be very late--not later than twelve. [_Exit._]

  [BONNET _moves briskly about, straightening
  the room, with no affectation of soft-stepping.
  She digresses from her labors
  to get a black skirt from the bedroom,
  which she examines critically, then replaces.
  A knock._

MAN'S VOICE [_only a shade less respectful than before_].
Miss Pittock is waiting below, ma'am.

BONNET. Very well, I'll be down directly. [_Exit, and
re-enter at once with a rather old-fashioned cloak and bonnet, which
she dons before the glass._] I hope I haven't kept Miss Pittock
waiting. [_Looks contemptuously at her wrap._] _She_ looks quite
more than the lady in her mistress's last year's cape. They say the
shops is a sight to behold this year--I haven't a minute to get a
look at them myself--and it do seem as if people made more to-do
about Christmas than they used. I wonder what kind of shops Miss
Pittock'll fancy most. I'd rather see the show-windows in the Grand
Bazaar first. They do have the most amazing show there. Anyway, we've
got plenty of time. Her lady won't be home before twelve, and no more
will mine. [_Turns down gas, and exit._]

  [_Enter_ CATHERINE, _in a coat, with jet spangles
  and a hat with nodding plumes.
  Turns up gas, and looks about her while
  drawing on a pair of tight gloves. Enter_
  SALLY _and_ TIBBIE _in outdoor wraps,
  shawls, and "comforters."_

SALLY. Oh, Miss Catherine, I didn't know where you was. I
thought maybe you was gone.

TIBBIE [_hanging back_]. You didn't tell me! You didn't tell
me!

CATHERINE. Now you'll be sure she don't touch anything,
Sally. [_Looks_ TIBBIE _over._]

SALLY. Naw! She won't hurt anything. I've told her I'd skin
her if she did.

CATHERINE. Are her hands clean? You'd better give them a
wash, anyhow.

  [TIBBIE _drops her eyes, a little mortified._

SALLY. All right. I'll wash 'em.

CATHERINE. Did she scrape her boots thoroughly on the mat
before she came up?

SALLY. I looked after all that, Miss Catherine. Just you go
along with an easy mind.

CATHERINE. Well, I'm off. I won't be long gone. Why don't
you give her a piece of that cake? It's cut. But don't let her make
any crumbs. Here, give me your things. I'll take 'em down to the
kitchen. Good-by, little girl. I guess you never was in a house like
this before. Good-by, Sal. Is my hat on straight? [_Exit with coats._]

SALLY. She's particular, ain't she?

TIBBIE. I'd just as soon wash them again, but they're clean.
I thought you said she was gone off to a party, and going to be gone
till real late.

SALLY [_plumps down to contort herself in comfort_]. Law!
She thought it was Mis' Darling herself! Law! Law! [TIBBIE
_laughs, too, but less heartily._] Now what'll we do first? Do you
want the treat right off?

TIBBIE. Oh, lemme guess, first, Sal, and tell me when I'm
hot! Is it made of sugar?

SALLY. No, it ain't.

TIBBIE. But you said it was a treat, didn't you, Sally?

SALLY. I did that. But ain't there treats and treats?
There's goin' to the circus, for instance. That hasn't any sugar.

TIBBIE. Is it a circus, Sally? Is it a circus?

SALLY. No, it ain't a circus, but it's every bit as nice.

TIBBIE. Is it freaks, Sally? Oh, tell me if it's freaks! It
isn't? Are you sure I'll like it very much? It's nothing to eat, and
it's nothing I can have to keep, and it's not a circus. What color is
it? You'll answer straight, won't you?

SALLY. Oh, it's every color in the world, and striped, and
polka-dotted, and crinkled, and smooth. There's a hundred of it.

TIBBIE [_rapturously_]. Oh!

SALLY [_takes her hand_]. Come along now, I'm going to
wash your hands in Mrs. Darling's basin. Ain't it handsome? [_Pokes
the scented soap under the nose of_ TIBBIE, _who sniffs
delightedly._] Flowers on the chiny, too. [_Washes_ TIBBIE'S
_hands while they talk._] Did you get anything for Christmas yet,
Tibbie? [TIBBIE _moves her head slowly up and down, absorbed
in the process of washing._] What did you get?

TIBBIE. A doll's flatiron an' a muslin bag of candy. I put
the iron on to heat and it melted. I gave what was left to Jimmy.

SALLY. Who gave them to you?

TIBBIE. Off the Sunday-school tree. But there weren't no
lights on it because it was daytime. Sally, I know something that has
a hundred----

SALLY. What's that? Let's see if you've got it now?

TIBBIE [_shamefacedly_]. A dollar--is a hundred cents.

SALLY. Well, and would I be bringing you so far just to show
you a dollar? This is worth as much as a dollar, every individual one
of them. Tibbie, it's just the grandest sight you ever seen--pink and
blue and yellow and striped----

TIBBIE [_after looking her fixedly in the face, now almost
shouts_]. It's marbles!

SALLY. Aw, but you're downright stupid, Tibbie! I don't mind
telling you I'm disappointed. You're just a common, everyday sort
of a young one, with no idear of grandness in your idears, at all!
And you don't seem to keep a hold on more than one notion at a time.
First it's a dollar. Is that pink and blue? And next it's marbles.
Is marbles worth a dollar apiece? Now tell me what's the grandest,
prettiest thing ever you saw----

TIBBIE. ... Angels.

SALLY. D'you ever see any?

TIBBIE. In the church-window, painted.

SALLY. Well, this is as handsome as a hundred angels, less
than a foot tall, all in new clothes, with little hats on.

TIBBIE. Sally, I think I know, now. Only it couldn't be
that. There couldn't likely be a hundred of them altogether, for it
isn't a store you brought me to! You didn't tell me we were going to
a store.

SALLY. No more it is. We're going to stay right here in Mrs.
Darling's house, and no place but here.

TIBBIE [_faintly, looking all about_]. But where is there a
hundred of anything?

SALLY. Oh, this ain't it, yet! This is only like the
outside entry. Now, Miss Tibbs, what kind of scent will you have on
your hands?

TIBBIE. Oh, Sal!

SALLY [_at dresser_]. Shall it be Violet, or Roossian
Empress, or--what's this other?--Lilass Blank? or the anatomizer
played over them like the garden hose? [_They unstop the bottles in
turn, and draw up great, noisy, luxurious breaths._]

TIBBIE. This, Sally, this one with a double name, like
a person. [SALLY _pours a drop in each hand, and_
TIBBIE _dances as she rubs them together._] Why are the
little scissors crooked? [_Busily picks up things one after the
other_]. What for is the fluting-irons? What for is the butter in the
little chiny jar? What's the flour for in the silver box? Oh, what's
this? Oh, Sal, what's that?

SALLY. It's to make you pale. It ain't fashionable to be red. [_Picks
up powder-puff, and gives_ TIBBIE, _who draws back startled and
coughing, a dusty dab on each cheek, then applies it to her own. The
two stand gazing in silent interest at themselves in the mirror,
gradually breaking into smiles._ SALLY _suddenly hitches first
one shoulder, then the other, and brushes her face clean_, TIBBIE
_faithfully aping her movements. Then they look at themselves again._]

TIBBIE. But I ain't pale, anyhow.

SALLY. Law! that you ain't!

TIBBIE. Who's the gentleman, Sal, in the pretty frame?

SALLY. That's Mrs.'s husband. He ain't been living some time.

TIBBIE. Oh, he ain't living.

SALLY. Now, Tibbs, I'm going to get you that cake before I
show you the Hundred. You wait here. But don't you hurt anything, or
I'll skin you sure, like I told Miss Catherine. And whatever you do,
don't you look behind that curtain till I come back.

TIBBIE. Is the Hundred there?

SALLY. Yes, it's there. [_Exit._]

  [TIBBIE _looks at the curtain for a moment,
  then turns to examine other wonders.
  Strokes the soft cushions, etc., with the
  palm of her hand, which she frequently
  stops to smell. Gazes at the photo of the_
  REVEREND DOREL.

TIBBIE. He looks like a real kind, good man. I'm going to ask Sally
if she knows him. [_Sits down on the floor and strokes the fur rug.
Enter_ SALLY _with cake-box._ TIBBIE _chooses gravely, then speaks
with her mouth full._] I never tasted any cake like this before.
M-m-m-m! Say, Sally, this big thing's 'most as good as a dog. It's so
soft I'd like to sleep on it.

SALLY [_with feigned coldness_]. Oh, all right! I don't
think we'll bother any more about seeing The Hundred.

TIBBIE. I had forgotten, honest, Sally.

SALLY. Eat your cake, and come along, then.

TIBBIE [_jumping up_]. Can't I take it, in my hand?

SALLY. No, for when you see 'em, you'll drop it quick all
over the floor.

TIBBIE [_hurrying it down_]. All right. I will.

SALLY. Wait a minute. You turn your back, and I'll go and
open the curtains. When I sing out, you turn around.

  [TIBBIE _stands facing audience, hands clasped
  tightly in impatience._

SALLY. Ready!

  [TIBBIE _gives one bound, then stops short
  quite overcome._

SALLY [_expectantly_]. Well, ma'am? [TIBBIE _stands
gazing, unable to speak._] Well, I never! Don't you like 'em? What on
earth did you expect, child? Well, I never! Well, if it don't beat
all! Why, when I was a young one---- Why, Tibbie, girl--don't you
think they're _lovely_?

TIBBIE [_whispers_]. Yes. [_Nodding her head slowly, then
letting it hang._]

SALLY [_understanding_]. Aw, come out o' that! Come,
let's look at 'em one by one, taking all our time. Come to Sally,
darling, and don't feel bad. We'll have lots of fun. [_Takes_
TIBBIE'S _hand and draws her nearer the dolls, then sits on
the floor and pulls_ TIBBIE _down into her lap._]

TIBBIE. I had almost guessed it, you know, when you said
like angels with hats on. But I couldn't think there would be a
hundred unless it was a store. What has the lady so many for?

SALLY. Bless your heart! They ain't for herself! They're for
orphans in a school that a minister cousin of hers is superintendent
of. She's been over a month making these clothes. Every Wednesday
she would give a tea-party, and a lot of ladies come stitching and
snipping and buzzing over the dolls' clothes the blessed afternoon.
And I washed the tea things after them all!

TIBBIE. They are for the orphans. Are there a hundred
orphans?

SALLY. Oh, I guess likely.

TIBBIE. Suppose, Sally--suppose there were only ninety-nine,
and some girl got two!

SALLY. Well, we two have got a hundred for to-night,
Tibbie, so let's play, and glad enough we've got our mothers. Look,
this is the way you must hold them to be sure and not crumple
anything. [SALLY _slips her hand under a doll's petticoats,
and they peep at the dainty underclothes._ SALLY _spurs
on_ TIBBIE'S _enthusiasm by the tones of her voice,
making the wonder more, to fill the child's soul to intoxication._
TIBBIE _easily responds, fairly rocking herself to and fro
with delight._]

SALLY. My soul and body! Did you ever see the like!
[_Sighs._] And not a pin among 'em. All pearl buttons, and silk
tying-strings, and silver hooks and eyes; and, mercy on my soul! a
little bit of a pocket in every dress, with its little bit of a lace
pocket-handkerchief inside. D'you see that, Tibbie?

TIBBIE [_breathlessly_]. Oh, Sally! Oh, _Sal_ly!

SALLY. Come on, Tibbie; let's choose the one we would choose
to get if we was to get one given us. Now I would like that one in
red velvet. It's just so dressy, ain't it, with the gold braid sewed
down in a pattern round the bottom. Which would you take?

TIBBIE. I should like the one all in white. She must be a
bride; see, she has a wreath and veil and necklace. I should like her
the very best. But right after that, if I could have two, I should
like this other in the shade hat with the forget-me-nots wreath, and
forget-me-nots dotted all over her dress. And, see! the sky-blue
ribbon. If I could just have three, then I would take this one, too,
with the black lace shawl over her head, fastened with roses, instead
of a hat. She has such a lovely face! And after her I would choose
this one in green--or this one in pink; no, this one here, Sally;
just look--this one in green and pink. And you--if you could have
more than one, which would you choose, after the red one?

SALLY. Well, I guess I should choose this one in white.

TIBBIE. Oh, no, Sally, don't you remember? That is the
bride, the one I said the very first. You can have all the others,
Sally dear, except the bride. But let's see, perhaps there are two
brides. Yes!--no!--that is just a little girl in white, without a
wreath. Should you like her as well? I was the first to say the
bride, you know.

SALLY. Law! I wouldn't have wanted her if I'd known she was
a bride! I take this one, Tibbie--this one with feathers in her hat.
Ain't she the gay girl in red and green plaid? And this purple silk
one, and this red and white stripe, and this----

TIBBIE. Wait! That's enough; Sally, that makes four for you.
It's my turn now. If I could have five, I should take one of the
rosebud ones--no, two of them, so's to play I had twins. Say, Sally,
what if we could choose one apiece--first you one, and then me one,
till we'd chosen them all up, and got fifty apiece!

SALLY. What if we could! Wouldn't that be just grand! Tell
us some more you'd take.

TIBBIE [_pointing and speaking at first slowly and
meditatively, then more and more quickly_]. I'd take this darling
blue girl, and this yellow one, and this cunning little spotted one,
and this, and this, and this, and this, and this---- Oh, Sally, if it
was only real, and not just let's-pretend! Now it's your turn.

SALLY [_placing her forefinger pensively against the side of
her nose_]. For my fifth one, I choose her--her with the little black
velvets run all through.

TIBBIE [_promptly_]. Taken already.

SALLY. Then her over there with the short puffy sleeves.

TIBBIE. Taken!

SALLY. She taken, too? Well, then, her in the pink Mother
Hubbard, with the little knitting-bag on her arm.

TIBBIE. Taken, Sally! Can't you remember anything? Those
belong to me; I chose them long ago. These are the not taken ones
over here; here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here,
and----

SALLY. Aw, you're a great girl! [_Suddenly throws her arms
around_ TIBBIE _and casts herself back on the floor, where
they tumble and roll in a frenzy of fun._] Oh, Tibbie, ain't we
having a time of it?

TIBBIE [_almost shouting_]. Yes!--ain't we having a time of
it!

SALLY. Ain't this a night?

TIBBIE. Oh, yes,--ain't it a night! [_They tickle and
poke each other until almost hysterical. At last_ TIBBIE
_disentangles herself from the panting and laughing_ SALLY,
_and gets up._] Here, Sally, now stop laughing, and let's go on. It
was your turn. You'd best take that one. She looks as if she might
be a little girl of yours, her cheeks are so red--red as a great big
cabbage! [_Laughs till she nearly cries._]

SALLY. Well, it's sure none of 'em has legs to make 'em look
like children of yours! [_At this_ TIBBIE _flings out her
thin black legs with the action of a young colt, and drops to the
floor, where they frolic as before. In the midst of their gale of
mirth, a bell rings. They sit up, and look at each other in silent
consternation._]

SALLY [_after a pause, in a solemn whisper_]. Murder!

TIBBIE [_in her ear_]. What is it?

SALLY. Was it the front door or the back door?

TIBBIE. I dunno, Sally. [SALLY _picks herself up,
and casts a hurried glance on the dolls and about the room, to see
if things are nearly as she found them, then turns down the light.
Leads_ TIBBIE _to bedroom door._]

SALLY [_glancing at clock_]. It ain't late. It ain't a bit
later than I supposed. It can't be her! It might be Mrs. Bonnet,
though, getting home before Catherine, who's got the key. I shouldn't
want her to catch you here for the whole world. Look here, Tibbie.
You stand in here till I find out who it is, and if it's Mrs. Bonnet,
you'll have to stay hidden till I find a good chance to come and
smuggle you down. [_Pushes_ TIBBIE _through door, and exit
by other door._ TIBBIE _very cautiously pokes her head out
and looks around._]

TIBBIE. What's that scratching? I know there's a mouse here
somewhere. Go right away, mousie. There's nobody in here. Go right
away!

SALLY [_without. Her voice calm, and pleasant with a kind of
company pleasantness_]. Tibbie! It's all right. It's just a friend
dropped in for a moment. You can play a little longer. Turn up the
light carefully. But remember what I told you.

  [_Enter_ TIBBIE _at the first sound of_ SALLY'S
  _voice. Turns up the light, draws back the
  curtain in front of the dolls, and kneels
  before them. Takes up the bride with a
  reverent hand, and after long contemplating
  her, kisses her very seriously and tenderly.
  Then moves the dolls about to
  bring those she has chosen closer together._

TIBBIE [_meditatively_]. I can't play they are a family, there are
too many all the same age and all girls. I will play they are a
hundred girls in an orphan asylum--a very rich orphan asylum--and
that I am the superintendent. To-morrow I'm going to give each a
beautiful doll for a Christmas present. This little girl's name is
Rosa. That one is Nellie. That one is Katie. That one is Sue. And
Mary. And Jennie. And Ethel, and Victoria, and Blossom, and Violet,
and Pansy, and Goldenlocks, and Cherrylips---- Oh, dear, I know I can
never name them all. There surely ain't enough names to go around
and I'd just have to make up names for them. Kirry, Mirry, Dirry,
Birry! These don't sound like anything. I wonder what they do every
day in orphan asylums. They must have school and learn lessons, I
guess. I'll be the teacher, now. Miss Snowdrop! [TIBBIE _assists the
dolls to move, and answers for them in a squeaking little voice._]
"Yes, ma'am." Spell knot. "N-o-t." Not at all, my dear. Sit down
again, my dear. Miss Lily; stand up, miss, and see if you can do any
better this morning. Miss Pansy, I see you putting your foot out to
trip poor Miss Blossom. Don't you do that again, child, or I shall
have to stand you in the corner. Why, Rosy, how red your cheeks are!
Don't you feel well? "No, ma'am." Never mind, don't cry. I must take
you to the doctor's right away. Come, my dear. [_Goes to dresser and
looks in glass._] Good-morning, doctor. "Good-morning, ma'am" [_in a
deep voice_]; "you've got a sick child there, I see." Yes, doctor,
this is a young lady from the orphan asylum, and she says she's got a
bad pain in her face. "Yes, yes. I see, I see. Well, we'll give her
something to cure those red cheeks right up. Just come here, miss."
[TIBBIE, _as the doctor, powders the doll's cheeks very gently._]
Very well. Good-by, doctor. "Good-by, ma'am. If she isn't better in
fifteen minutes, let me know." Now, my dear, you needn't go back to
school. The orphans might catch it. I'd like to rock you in my arms,
but the superintendent is too busy.... Oh, dear, I don't like to be
a superintendent. I think I'll have you for my little girl [_draws
forward a low rocker and carefully turns down light_], and get you
some nice little sisters [_gathers a dozen dolls_], and then rock you
all to sleep. [_Settles comfortably in the chair._] It's bedtime, and
you must be rocked and loved a little. Now, sh! Sh! Sh! Sh! What's
that, Mamie? Sing to you? Very well. [_Sings._] Rosie, what are
you crying for now? You want me to rock faster? All right, I will.
[_Rocks faster. Rosie continues to cry, and the rocking soon becomes
furious. In the excitement one doll slips unnoticed to the floor._]
There, that's better. Now, children, do go to sleep.... Mother is
sleepy herself. [_Rocking becomes slower and slower, and at last
stops entirely._ TIBBIE _falls asleep.... Enter_ SALLY.]

SALLY. Lively, Tibbie! Miss Catherine has got back. We must
be packing off home. I declare I lost sight of the time. There's just
no one like a fireman to be entertaining, I do declare. Mrs. Bonnet
won't be long coming now. [_Turns up light, sees_ TIBBIE
_rubbing her eyes, and the dolls all disarranged. Blankly._] Law! do
you suppose we can get them to look as they did? I hope t' Heaven she
didn't know which went next to which. Do you remember, Tibbie, where
they all belonged?

TIBBIE. Yes, the bride went here. The rosebuds here. The
purple and gray here. I can put them all back, every one.

SALLY [_cheerfully, again_]. No one'll ever know in the
world they've been disturbed. [_Draws off to get general effect.
Dives for the last doll, which_ TIBBIE _sleepily hands up
from the floor._]

SALLY [_in a ghastly whisper_]. Tibbie! look at its head! [TIBBIE
_gazes in a puzzled way. The face is crushed._ SALLY _groans._] Oh,
Tibbie! now what'll we do!

TIBBIE [_truthfully, lifting a very pale face_]. I didn't
do it! I was just as careful! She was one of my daughters. I had her
in my lap, rocking her to sleep with the others; she slipped off my
lap--there were too many for one lap, I guess--but I didn't step on
her. Sure, Sally,--sure as I live, I didn't step on her!

SALLY. Oh, law! You must have rocked on her. Oh, Tibbie, what'll I
do? Here, give her to me.... No, she can't never be fixed. I wonder
if I can cover her up, here. [_Moves the dolls about tentatively._]
But what's the good? They'll count them, and there'll be the mischief
of a fuss. Oh, Tibbie---- [_reaching the end of her good-nature_]
----why did I ever think of bringing you here? Now look at all the
trouble you've brought on me, when I thought you'd be so careful! And
I told you and told you till I was hoarse. And here you've ruined
all! [_Drops into a chair before the wreck._ TIBBIE, _not daring to
meet_ SALLY'S _eyes, stands motionless and speechless._] I declare I
don't know _what_ to do! I wish I'd never seen 'em! I wish there'd
never been any Christmas! Oh, it's a great job, this! Tibbie, you've
done for me this time!

  [_Enter_ CATHERINE.

CATHERINE. Hurry, and get off, now, Sally.

SALLY [_blurts out_]. She's broken one of them!

CATHERINE. You don't mean it!

SALLY. Yes, she has!

CATHERINE. Let me see it. Oh, you wicked child! [_Shakes_ TIBBIE
_vigorously by one arm._ SALLY, _attempting a rescue, seizes her by
the other, and the poor child is jerked about unmercifully._] She's
smashed its face right in! Now, whoever heard of such naughtiness?

  [TIBBIE _escapes and twists about to get her
  back to the two._

SALLY. She didn't do it out of naughtiness, at all, Miss
Catherine. She's as good a child as ever lived! [TIBBIE'S
_shoulders give a convulsive heave._] It was an accident entirely.
But that's just as bad for me--I suppose I shall have to say it was
me did it.

CATHERINE. And then they'll say what was I doing while the
kitchen-help was poking about in the lady's chamber. No; you don't
get me into no trouble, Sally Bean! You'd much better say how it
was--how that you asked me if you just might bring a little girl to
look, and I said you might, out of pure good-nature, being Christmas
is rightly for children, and I've a softness for them. And while we
was both in the kitchen, she slipped away from us, and come here and
done it before we knew. And the child will say herself that it was
so. You'll be packed off, dead sure, out of this place, if you let
on you meddled with them yourself. She won't have her things meddled
with---- There! I hear the door now. There comes that old cat Bonnet.

  [_Enter_ MRS. BONNET, _her cheek bones and
  the end of her nose brilliant with the cold.
  She carries a paper bag, and speaks with
  an impediment and a breath of peppermint._

BONNET. What's the matter? What child is that?

CATHERINE. It happened this way, Mrs. Bonnet. I allowed
Sally to fetch this child up to see Mrs. Darling's dolls.--Just for a
treat, of course--never thinking Sally'd be so careless as to let one
of them get broken. But that's what she done. I'd just stepped out
for a moment, never for a minute supposing anything like this could
happen, but you just see for yourself. That doll can't be mended no
way at all. And now, Mrs. Bonnet, what's to be done?

BONNET. Oh, you wicked little brat! I just want to get hold
of you and shake you! [_Makes a snatch at_ TIBBIE, _who gets
beyond her clutch, and turns scared eyes on_ SALLY.]

TIBBIE [_just audibly_]. I want to go home; I want to go
home.

BONNET [_bitterly_]. It don't seem possible that I can run
out a minute just to do an errand for Mrs. Darling herself--to get a
spool of feather-stitching silk--but things like this has to happen.
Catherine, I thought you at least was a responsible person, and here
you has to go and----

CATHERINE [_promptly_]. Mrs. Bonnet, you just let that
alone! Don't you try none of that with me! I went out of an errand
every bit as much as you did. I went out to make sure the ice cream
would be sent in good season for Christmas dinner, I did. Now I don't
get dragged into this mess one bit more than you do!

BONNET [_looking at her with a poison-green eye_]. Well,
Mrs. Darling will be here in a minute, and then we shall see what
we shall see. Land, ain't that woman been cross to-day, and fussy!
'Tain't as if she was like other people--a little bit sensible, and
could take some little few things into consideration, and remember
we're all human flesh and blood. Not much! She don't consider
nothing, nor nobody, nor feelings, nor circumstances! She just makes
things fly! Things has to go her way, every time!

TIBBIE [_pathetically, turning a trembling face to_
SALLY]. I want to go home!

BONNET [_uglily_]. No, you shan't go home! You shall stay
right here and take the blame you deserve, after spoiling the face
of that handsome doll. What do you mean by it, you little brat, you
little gutter-imp!

SALLY [_with a boldness new in her relations with_ MRS.
BONNET]. You let her alone, Mrs. Bonnet! Don't you talk to her
like that! Anyone can see she's as sorry as sorry can be for what
she's done, and all the trouble she's got us into---- [COOK
_appears in door._]

BONNET. And what does that help, I'd like to know? The doll
is broke, ain't it? And some one of us is going to catch it, however
things go. You're a lucky girl, I say, if you don't lose your place.
Some one of us is a-going to, I can easy foretell.

CATHERINE [_firmly, with lifted chin_]. I ain't going to
lose my place! Here comes Cook now! I suppose she wants to get into
trouble, too.

  [_Enter_ COOK, _her high-colored shawl pinned
  on her breast with a big brooch, her
  bonnet-strings nearly lost in her fat chin._

COOK. What's the matter? What's it all about? Whose nice
little girl is this?

SALLY. I brought her here, Mrs. McGrath. She's Tibbie, a
neighbor's child, and I brought her----

COOK. To see them beautiful dolls. Of course. And one of
'em happened to get broke? [_Goes to_ TIBBIE, _and lifts
her miserable little face._] Don't you feel bad one bit, darlin'! It
was all an accident, and it's no good crying over spilt milk. And if
Mrs. Darling gets mad at you, she ain't the real lady I take her for.
Why, I gave my Clary a new doll this very evenin' and it's ready for
a new head this minute. And did I go for to rare and tear about it?
Not a bit of it! Why, bless you, she didn't go for to do it! Why,
what child smashes a doll a-purpose? You're a pretty set, the whole
gang of you, to pitch into a child! [_Tries, with_ SALLY,
_to comfort and silence_ TIBBIE, _who by this time is freely
weeping. Exit_ BONNET, _and re-enter at once without hat and
coat._]

COOK [_looking hard at_ MRS. BONNET]. I've a great
mind to stay here myself and stand up for her, yer pack of old maids,
the lot of yer!

BONNET. You will oblige me, Mrs. McGrath, by doing nothing
of the sort. We've no need to have a whole scene from the drama.
You've no business on this floor, anyhow, and I must insist on your
keeping yourself in your own quarters.

COOK [_mutters_]. And I'll take my own time, yer born
Britisher! [_Putting her arm around_ TIBBIE.] Well, Tibbie
dear, you can be sure of this: however bad this seems, it'll soon be
over. And if Mrs. Darling scolds, that'll soon be over, too. It'll
all be looking different to you in the morning. However things goes,
you'll soon be forgetting all about it. And to-morrow is Christmas
Day, that our own dear Lord was born on, and I'll bake you a little
cake and send it to you by Sally.

TIBBIE [_sobbing_]. But Sally's going to be sent away.

COOK. So she might be, but I feel it in my little toe that
she ain't going to be.

SALLY [_bravely_]. Well, if I am, I am, and there an end.
But I don't see why she can't take the price of the doll out of my
wages and let me stay.

BONNET. I think you'll find that it ain't most particularly
the cost of the doll gets you into trouble---- There she comes this
minute!

  [_All listen in profound silence._

MRS. D. [_below_]. Good-night, cousin Dorel.

MR. GOODHUE [_below_]. Good-night, cousin Cynthia. Sleep
well.

MRS. D. You, too. Pleasant dreams. Good-night. [_Sound of
door closing._]

  [_Enter_ MRS. DARLING. _Stands a moment at
  door, regarding the assemblage with a sort
  of absent-minded astonishment._

MRS. D. What is it? Has anything happened? What is everybody
doing up here? Whose little girl is this sitting up so late? They
used to tell me I should never grow, my dear, if I sat up late----

BONNET. This is what it is, ma'am. I took the liberty of
stepping out for a few moments, it being Christmas Eve and my work
all done, knowing you wouldn't be needing me till late. And Sally
here took it upon herself to bring a child--how she could presume so,
I'm sure _I_ don't understand, ma'am. She might have known aforehand
something would be broken. And sure enough--when I come in----

MRS. D. Oh, cut it short! What you have to tell is that the
child there has broken one of the dolls, isn't it?

BONNET [_mutters_]. That's it, ma'am.

MRS. D. And you've kept her here when she ought to have been in bed
these hours, to bear the first burst of my displeasure---- [MRS.
DARLING _says so much in a hard voice, with an appearance of cold
anger; here her voice suddenly dies, and she bursts out crying
like a vexed, injured child._] I declare it's too bad! [_She sobs,
reckless of making a spectacle of herself, while all look on in
consternation._] I declare it's too bad! It's no use! It doesn't
matter _what_ I do--it's always the same! It's _always_ taken for
granted that I will conduct myself like a beast. Who can wonder,
after that, if I do? Here I find them, pale as sheets, the five of
them shaking in their boots, because a forlorn little child has
broken a miserable doll. And _what_ is it supposed I shall do about
it? Didn't I dress the hundred of them for children, and little
poor children, too? And I must have known they would get broken, of
course. _Why_ did I dress them? _What_ did I spend months dressing
them for? Solely for _show_, they think,--not for any charity, any
kindness, any love of children, or anything in the _world_ but to
make an effect on an occasion--to make myself a merit with the
parson, perhaps! [_Her crying seems to become less of anger and
nervousness, and more of sorrow._] Oh, it is too bad! One would
imagine I never said a decent thing or did a kind act to anyone.
And, Heaven knows it's not for lack of trying to change. But no one
sees the difference! I am treated like a vixen and a terror. And the
people about me hate and fear and deceive me! A proof of it to-night.
Oh, the _lesson_! Oh, I wasn't _meant_ for this! I wasn't meant for
it! When I think of last Sunday's sermon and how straight to my heart
it went. Oh, I am a fool to cry! [_Dries her eyes, and holds out her
hand to_ TIBBIE.] Come here to me, dear child. What is your name?
What? A little louder! What did you say? Tibbie! Oh, what a nice,
funny name! _You_ didn't think I was going to scold you, did you,
dear? Of _course_ not! It was an accident; I understand all about it.
I used to break my dolls' heads frequently, I remember very well.
[_Puts her arm about_ TIBBIE _and tries to make her head easy on her
shoulder._ TIBBIE, _however, cannot relax, and rests uncomfortably
against her._] Let us see, dear, now, what we can do to make us both
feel happier. I dressed all those dolls for little children I am not
acquainted with at all. Which of them would you like the very best?
Which should you like for your very own?

  [TIBBIE _cannot move nor speak, but her eyes
  travel towards the dolls._

SALLY [_comes beamingly to_ TIBBIE'S _aid_]. The
bride, Tibbie, the bride!

MRS. D. The bride? Which one is that? That one? Of course! [_Reaches
for it, and_ SALLY _hands it to her._] There, my dear. [TIBBIE _takes
the doll loosely, without breath of thanks._ MRS. D. _reviews the
dolls, and_ TIBBIE'S _hand is stretched involuntarily towards the
broken one._] Of course, of course, you would want that poor dolly
to nurse back to health. Now, dear, isn't there _one more_ you would
like? [TIBBIE'S _confusion overwhelms her._] I'll choose one for you,
and you shall call her Cynthia, after me. How would you like that?
Suppose we say this one with the forget-me-nots? She looks a little
like me, doesn't she, with her hair parted in the middle? Her dress
is made of a piece of one of my own, and that blue is my favorite
color. [_Rising._] There, Tibbie, now you have two whole dollies, and
part of another. You must run right home to bed. A Merry Christmas to
you, dear child. I am very happy to have made your acquaintance.

TIBBIE [_shyly, but heartily_]. I think you are
good--_good_. And, please,--I'd like--if you wouldn't mind--I'd like
to kiss you!

  [MRS. DARLING _bends suddenly, and catches
  the child in her arms._


CURTAIN


NOTES ON COSTUME AND PRESENTATION

MRS. DARLING. Evening dress.

BONNET and CATHERINE wear black, with white maid's
apron, collar, and cuffs. Outdoor costume as indicated.

MRS. MCGRATH. Shawl and bonnet with no attempt at prevailing
styles. Stout, rosy, motherly, and comfortable.

SALLY. Pretty and wholesome-looking. Appears at first in a
limp blue kitchen-apron, later in her outdoor coat and hat, neat, but
cheap-looking.

TIBBIE. Old dress, very neat and clean, but faded, and with
an outgrown, hand-me-down appearance. She is a thin and half-fed
little tenement-house child, to whom the luxury of Mrs. Darling's
house is an undreamed-of fairy-land.

This part was played by a little girl of nine, who delighted in
learning and acting it. A bright and appreciative child can do it
without undue effort, although it is, of course, the important rôle
of the play.

THE DOLLS. The number of dolls need not be over fifteen or
twenty, if so arranged as to suggest more tiers hidden from view at
the back of the couch. They should be as nearly of one size as is
practicable, though uniformity goes no further. The broken one should
be broken first, and Tibbie must slip it to the floor unnoticed
before she sits down to rock the others.



GENERAL NOTES


FIREPLACE. If scenery is not available, the fireplace used
in this play, and in several others, can easily be built up from
packing-boxes covered with cambric (dull side out), the bricks
or tiles marked in black paint, or even with ink. A valuable and
effective stage-property, used when "Tom's Plan" was first given,
and in many subsequent plays, was an old-fashioned wooden mantel,
obtained through a carpenter who was tearing down an old house. This
may be a suggestion for other amateurs. A small screen can be covered
with cambric, and painted to represent the back of the fireplace, an
opening being left at one side, through which Santa Claus, in "Tom's
Plan," "The Christmas Brownie," and "Their Christmas Party," makes
his entrance. Andirons, with logs and a red electric bulb, will make
a very pretty and effective fire. In "Their Christmas Party," the
poor children hide in the fireplace, and the "Christmas Brownie" goes
in and out several times.

SANTA CLAUS. Red or brown coat, trimmed with ermine (cotton,
or, if practicable, some real fur); high boots; cap to match coat,
with fur brim. He wears a string of sleigh bells over his shoulder,
and carries a pack full of small toys for distribution. White hair,
mustache, and long white beard.

In these plays, in which Santa Claus has often an important part,
do not on any account allow him to wear a mask. The hair, mustache,
and beard, with a good rosy make-up, are sufficient disguise for
him, and in those cases where there are little children in the cast
whose literal belief in Santa Claus must not be disturbed, he is
not indispensable at rehearsals. Partly because he should not be
recognized, an adult player is always indicated for this part, rather
than an older boy, who is apt to be in more intimate touch with the
children.

CHRISTMAS TREE. If the play is to serve as introduction
to a Christmas Tree, the tree should be placed as near the stage
as possible. When the play is over, the lighted tree is unveiled,
and the children who have taken part distribute the presents under
the leadership of Santa Claus. Or, if found more practicable, the
tree may be placed in another room, and Santa Claus may invite the
children of the play and the audience to go with him in search of it.
An appropriate tree song may be sung by the whole audience. Reference
to such songs may be found on the following page.



SUGGESTIONS FOR CAROLS


SONGS AND GAMES FOR LITTLE ONES. Gertrude Walker and Harriet
S. Jenks. Oliver Ditson Company, Boston.

Contains a number of useful songs and carols, among which the
following may be specially mentioned:

  "Oh, Ring, Glad Bells!" (P. 58.)

  "The First Christmas." (P. 60.)
    Good for little children.

  "Noël, Noël, the Christ is Born!" (P. 62.)
    Excellent processional.

  "A Wonderful Tree." (P. 67.)
    Tree song.

SONGS FOR LITTLE CHILDREN. Part I. Eleanor Smith. Milton
Bradley Co., Springfield, Mass.

  "In Another Land and Time." (P. 31.)

  "Waken, Little Children." (P. 33.)
    Very simple. Good for small children.

PART II of the same contains Santa Claus and Jack Frost
songs.

THE NEW HOSANNA. New-Church Board of Publication, 3 West
29th Street, N.Y.

  Has a good tree song:
    "The Christmas Bells in Many a Clime." (P. 4.)

  For little children:
    "Can There Be a Sweeter Story?" (P. 21.)

There are also a number of old English carols, among them:

  "The First Nowell." (P. 2.)
  "Come, Ye Lofty, Come, Ye Lowly." (P. 23.)
  "From Far Away We Come to You." (P. 30.)

Also several of the more familiar Christmas hymns to be found in most
church hymnals.

For old music, see the following:

  CHRISTMAS CAROLS, NEW AND OLD. Novello & Company.

  TWELVE OLD CAROLS, ENGLISH AND FOREIGN. Novello
  & Company.

  FOLK SONGS, AND OTHER SONGS FOR CHILDREN. Oliver
  Ditson Company, Boston.

The first and last of these both contain "Good King Wenceslas," which
is included in other collections as well.

Martin Luther's Christmas hymn for his own children, which is very
good for small children, beginning "Away in a manger," is in

DAINTY SONGS FOR LITTLE LADS AND LASSES. John Church
Company, Cincinnati.





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