The Christmas Dinner Play - Second Scene
The Christmas Dinner Play - Second Scene
Written by: Shepherd Knapp
When the Curtain opens, you see the Kitchen again just as before, except that now the six stockings are hanging from the mantel shelf over the fire-place. Father is sitting beside the table reading the newspaper. The two Grandparents are still sitting close to the fire, one on each side. Grandfather has fallen asleep, and Grandmother is drowsy, so that her head nods. Then she wakes up, and tries to stay awake; but in a minute her head goes nodding again. Father yawns, puts down his newspaper; yawns once more and stretches; then goes on reading.
MOTHER comes in and says, The children are sound asleep.
It's time we all went to bed, says FATHER, putting down the newspaper. I know I'm ready for it. He yawns.
Besides, adds MOTHER, the fire is almost out; and indeed it ought soon to be put out entirely, so as to cool the chimney for old Santa Claus, when he comes.
That's right, too, FATHER agrees. He gets up and goes to Grandfather, laying his hand on his shoulder. Father, he says, speaking loud so as to waken him. It's time to go to bed.
What? says GRANDFATHER, waking up with a start; and then he says, Why, I must have been dozing. Where are the children?
They went to bed long ago, says MOTHER. Don't you remember? And now it's bed time for all of us. Are you ready, mother?
Yes, I'm more than ready, answers GRANDMOTHER. She rises and Grandfather, also, and with feeble steps, they go toward the door. Good-night, GRANDMOTHER says.
Good-night, FATHER and MOTHER answer her, and FATHER continues, Good-night, father. Pleasant dreams.
Good-night, answers GRANDFATHER, and he and Grandmother go out.
I'll be off too, James, says MOTHER, if you'll look after the fire and the light.
Yes, I'll attend to all that, answers FATHER.
Then Mother goes out, and Father deadens the fire, using the tongs and shovel. He takes the chair, in which he has been sitting, and sets it against the wall beside the clothes basket. Then he lights the candle on the mantel shelf, blows out the lamp, leaving the room in a dim light, and goes out.
For a little while everything is quiet. Then there is a noise from the direction of the wood box. The cover rises, and the head of a brownie appears, inside the box. He climbs out, followed by another. They caper about the room, looking at everything, listening at the doors, looking up the chimney. Then they go to the clothes basket and raise the lid. Up come four arms, and then two house-fairies stand up in the basket, and get out with the help of the chair. They, also, flit about the room, looking at things. Meanwhile the brownies have taken the broom and dust pan, and begun to sweep, especially over by the outside door and by the wood box. The fairies take a chair, and climb up by the mantel shelf. They take down the colored paper, paste and scissors, and, carrying them to the table, set to work, making paper caps. In a few moments they hold up two, complete. They leave them on the table.
Now sleigh bells are heard approaching. The brownies and fairies leave their work, and clapping their hands, run to the fire-place, and stand in a group, facing it, looking in. Now the sleigh bells have come very near: and now they are still. And NOW Santa Claus is heard scrambling down the chimney. As he comes out from the fire-place, the brownies and fairies separate to let him through. He sets down his pack. Then the brownies, on one side, and the fairies, on the other, take hold of his hands and draw him toward the front of the stage.
SANTA CLAUS smiles down at them, and, shaking the hands that hold his, says, How are you all? Merry as crickets? They nod, and dance up and down, still holding his hands. And what have you been doing with yourselves? he asks them. Playing? They all nod. And working? he asks. They nod again. Then the brownies draw him over to the their side, and show him how clean the floor is. Good! says SANTA CLAUS. Then the brownies let go his hand, and the fairies draw him over to their side, and show him the caps they have made. Fine! says SANTA CLAUS. Then the fairies let go his other hand, and he goes on talking. How are Gertrude and Walter? Have they been good? They all nod. As for the older people, he says, I don't need to ask you about them. Do you want to know why? They nod. It's because I've heard all about them already, SANTA CLAUS continues. There's a little bird that lives up in the eaves of the house and often he flies down and listens at the window, and then he tells me all he hears. Tonight he flew way up to the pine woods on the hill, to meet me, and he told me some things about all the older people in this house which made me feel quite upset. Shall I tell you what it was? They nod. He says that they all of them seem to think that they are growing old, not only the grandfather and grandmother, but the father and mother, too. They are all the time talking about feeling tired, and saying how different it all was when they were children, and how long ago that seems. Now isn't that a shame? I don't blame them altogether, because I know myself how that sort of thing sometimes happens. Two or three years ago I was sick for awhile, and I declare that even I began to feel old and tired. But all the same I don't believe in letting that sort of thing go on too long; and do you want to know what I am going to do about it? They nod eagerly. It's the best scheme you ever heard of, and I want you to help me with it. Well, I'm going to use some magic to make them all little boys and girls again for half an hour. And the way I'm going to do it is this. I've got here a bag of magic hazel nuts. He takes the bag out of his pocket. I always keep them in my pocket, because you never know when a thing of that sort will come in handy. Now, I want you to take these nuts and stick them into the plum pudding, which they are all going to eat tomorrow for their Christmas dinner. You must stick them in all around in different places, so that each of the older people will be sure to get one; and it won't do the children a bit of harm if they get some, too. In fact they are so young that this kind of magic won't have any effect on them at all. But with all the older folks, as soon as the nuts have been eaten, the magic will begin to work; and what do you suppose will be the first thing they will all want to do? Do you want to know? They all nod. They will all want to get down on their hands and knees, Grandfather and Grandmother and all, and crawl under the table. Won't that be funny? They all clap their hands and dance up and down. That's what the magic hazel nuts will make them do, says SANTA CLAUS. And when they have crawled under the table—you see, it's a table that has a Christmas dinner on it, and that makes a difference, of course—well, when they have crawled under the table, then—. No. I believe I won't tell you about what will happen then. I'll keep it for a surprise and it's something worth seeing you may be sure. So that's the plan. Will you help me? They all nod most emphatically. Here are the nuts, then, he says. Run and stick them into the pudding, while I fill the stockings.
They take the bag and all run out through the door. Santa Claus goes to the fire-place, and from his pack fills all six stockings. Then, as he finishes and takes up his pack, the brownies and fairies return, and gather round him as he stands in front of the fire-place. SANTA CLAUS says to them, Did you stick them in? They nod. All around? They nod again. That's right. Well, I'm off. And, tomorrow, if I can manage it, I'm going to come back here at about the time when the nuts begin to work, for I'd like to see the fun myself. Good-bye.
They all shake him by the hand. Then he disappears into the fire-place. They stand in front of it for a moment, and one of the brownies kneels down and looks up the chimney after him. Then sleigh bells are heard on the roof, as the sleigh starts. The brownies and fairies turn around then, and come away from the fire-place. The brownies run to the wood box, climb in, and pull the lid down over them. At the same time the fairies carry the chair over to the clothes basket, climb onto the chair, step over into the basket, and pull the lid down over them. Then everything is quiet again.
And that is the end of the Second Scene.