The Christmas Dinner Play Third Scene
The Christmas Dinner Play - Third Scene
Written by: Shepherd Knapp
When the Curtain opens, you again see the kitchen, but it looks a good deal different, because the chairs that Grandmother and Grandfather used to sit in have been moved out; so has the small table on which Mother washed the dishes in the First Scene; and now in front of the fire-place is the great big table that Mother Goose told you about. The table cloth on it is so big that it hangs all the way down to the floor. At one end of the table sits Father; then next to him, back of the table facing you, is Grandfather, then Gertrude, then Walter, then Grandmother and at the other end of the table, next to Grandmother, Mother is seated. The children have on those bright-colored paper caps that the house-fairies made. MOTHER, who is helping the pudding, is the first to speak and this is what she says:
There's the first plateful of our Christmas pudding, and that goes to Gertrude, of course. She hands it to Grandmother, who passes it on to Walter.
Um! says WALTER, holding it for a moment under his nose. That smells good! He passes it to Gertrude.
GERTRUDE asks, Shall I wait till everybody else is served, before I begin?
No, not today, says FATHER. Begin at once. We all want to know how it tastes.
Gertrude tastes it. Oh, it is good, she says.
Mother meanwhile has helped another plateful, and passed it to GRANDMOTHER, who says, Walter, here is yours. And she hands it to him. He tastes it.
Is it good, Walter? asks GRANDFATHER.
WALTER with his mouth very full can only say, Um!
Pass this down to Father, says MOTHER, and she starts to hand another plateful of pudding to Grandmother.
Oh, Mother, exclaims GERTRUDE, aren't you younger than Father?
Yes, just by two months, answers MOTHER, keeping the plateful of pudding in her hand. You think I ought to be helped next? All right; we'll keep strictly to the rules, and I'll set this aside for myself, while I help the others. She helps another plateful. This is for you James, she says to Father, and passes it along. And Grandmother, she says, this is for you. She hands a plateful of pudding to Grandmother.
Grandfather, here is yours last of all, because you are the oldest of us, MOTHER says, and starts the last plateful of pudding on its way to Grandfather.
Suddenly FATHER, who has been eating some of his pudding, exclaims, Here's something new. You never put nuts in the plum pudding before, Mary.
Nuts? says MOTHER, very much surprised, There aren't any nuts in the pudding.
But, indeed there are, FATHER insists, I've just eaten one.
And so have I, adds GRANDMOTHER.
And here is another one, declares GRANDFATHER, and he holds it up in his spoon. It's a hazel nut, he says, and puts it into his mouth.
Why, I don't understand it all, exclaims MOTHER. I didn't put any hazel nuts in the plum pudding. Who ever heard of such a thing! Children, have you found any in yours?
Yes, says GERTRUDE.
I've had two, says WALTER.
Mother has been looking carefully at the pudding on her plate. I declare, you're right, she says. Here's one in mine. She eats it. They are very good nuts, too; but how they ever got into the pudding is a mystery.
During this last speech the lid of the wood box has been pushed up, showing the two brownies, sitting up in the box, and also the top of the clothes basket, showing the fairies, looking out from the basket.
Walter happens to catch sight of the brownies in the wood box. He starts up from his chair, and, pointing toward the wood box, cries, There they are!
What? asks FATHER, looking in the direction to which Walter points.
The brownies, cries WALTER. See! In the wood box.
I don't see anything, says FATHER, except that someone has left the lid of the wood box open.
Oh, and the fairies, cries GERTRUDE, pointing toward the clothes basket. There they are. I see them.
MOTHER turns around to look, and then says to Gertrude. There's nothing there, my dear.
Oh, but there is, GERTRUDE declares. They are in the basket.
Everybody stands up. Gertrude and Walter come around from behind the table, and look at the fairies and brownies, but they don't go very close to them, because they are just a little bit scared. At the same time, Father begins to act rather queerly, looking down at the floor, and keeping himself up by holding onto the table. Now he goes down on his hands and knees near the end of the table.
Why, James, exclaims MOTHER, what are you doing? How queerly you are acting.
FATHER gets up again, as though by a great effort. I don't know what is the matter, he says: But I have the funniest sort of feeling. It seems as though I should just have to get down on the floor and crawl under the table.
Well, that's queer, says MOTHER. Do you know, I begin to feel the same way myself.
So do I, says GRANDMOTHER.
So do I, says GRANDFATHER.
It's perfectly absurd the way I seem to want to crawl under the table, FATHER says, and his knees keep bending under him.
But you're surely not going to do it, cries MOTHER.
Oh, no FATHER answers, I'm not going to do it. But all the same he goes down on his knees again.
But you are doing it, cries MOTHER.
Well, I can't help it, shouts FATHER. Here goes. Watch me come out at the other end.
If he goes, I've got to follow, says MOTHER, and she gets down on her hands and knees behind him.
So have I, says GRANDFATHER, and he kneels down behind Mother.
And I, says GRANDMOTHER, and she kneels behind Grandfather.
Then, close behind one another, they go under the table, and when they come out at the other end, Father and Grandfather have turned into little boys, and Mother and Grandmother have turned into little girls. While this is happening the brownies and fairies come out of the box and basket.
Oh, Jolly! cries WALTER. Is this you, grandfather? He takes hold of hands with the little boy that Grandfather has turned into, and swings him around in a circle.
Oh, mother, cries GERTRUDE to one of the little girls, hugging her, how darling you are. Isn't this fun?
Let's all play some game together, proposes WALTER.
"London Bridge," shall we play that? GERTRUDE suggests. The others all clap their hands; so she goes on. She says, Walter, you and I will be the bridge. What shall we choose? They whisper together.
Then the game is played in the usual way. Each captive is offered a choice between "plum pudding" (that is Gertrude's side) and "ice cream" (that is Walter's side). At the very moment when the tug-of-war is about to begin, the outside door opens, and in comes Santa Claus. At once, they all leave their games, and gather around him.
Oh, Santa Claus, cries WALTER, have you come to play with us?
How can I play with you? answers SANTA CLAUS. I'm far too big, and far, far too old. One of the fairies has gone to the table, and gotten a plate of plum pudding, which she now offers to Santa Claus. What's this? he asks. Plum pudding? Well, I never could resist that. He begins to eat it. This surely is a first-class pudding. He takes another spoonful. Why, what's this? A nut in the pudding? A hazel-nut! He stops short, and holds the plate away from him. A hazel nut! he exclaims again. I declare, I'd clean forgotten all about that. And now I've gone and eaten one. Goodness! Is it going to work, I wonder. He puts the plate down on the table. Yes, I feel it coming. Yes, it's come. I've just got to crawl under that table. Get out of the way there. I've got to do it. It's no use trying not to.
The children, the brownies, and the fairies are all delighted, and laugh, and dance up and down, and clap their hands.
WALTER cries out, Go on, Santa. You'll make a jolly boy.
Down goes Santa Claus on his hands and knees, and crawls under the table. When he comes out on the other end, he is a little roley poley boy, smaller and fatter than any of the others, and dressed in white with red trimmings. All the others join hands with him in a circle, and they swing around gleefully.
Now for a game of "Follow my leader," shouts WALTER. I'll be leader; come after me.
Off Walter starts around the room, the others following, first Gertrude, then the brownies and the fairies, then the others, with Santa Claus bringing up the rear. They go over the wood box, onto a chair and down again, and at last Walter dives under the table, in the opposite direction to that in which the magic change was made. The children, the brownies, and the fairies go through without any change, of course, but the other five all come out in their original form. They stand up straightening their clothes, Mother and Grandmother setting their hair to rights. Meantime, while the children are occupied watching the transformations of their parents and grandparents, the brownies and fairies go back into the box and basket, and pull the lids down after them.
I'm all out of breath, exclaims FATHER, panting.
So am I, says GRANDMOTHER; but what fun it was.
I wouldn't have missed it for a thousand dollars, MOTHER declares.
Nor I, echoes GRANDFATHER. Even now, although I've got my old body back again, I declare I feel as young as a boy inside.
Oh, Santa Claus, cries GERTRUDE, you were the dearest, funniest little boy I ever saw. It just made me laugh to look at you.
Hush! says SANTA CLAUS, looking cautiously over his shoulder, I hope you won't let any one know how foolish I looked and acted. What would people say, if they heard that a man hundreds of years old like me, has been romping around that way?
Why, Santa Claus, says WALTER, everybody would think it was fine.
Do you think so? asks SANTA CLAUS, looking around from one to the other.
Of course, they would, answers FATHER. The fact is they'd love you all the more for it, if that's possible.
Dear Santa Claus, you don't mind my laughing at you, do you? says GERTRUDE; because you were funny, you know.
Well—no—I guess I don't mind much, SANTA CLAUS answers. In fact, the more I think of it, the more I think myself that it was funny. Ho! Ho! Ho! Only so high (he measures the height with his hand) and as fat as butter. Ho! Ho! Ho! He goes off into a roar of laughter, and everybody else begins laughing, and they laugh more and more, until they have to lean up against the wall and the table, and wipe their eyes.
When the laughing has stopped, SANTA CLAUS says, There's only one person I don't believe I can quite forgive, and that's the sly puss of a fairy, who gave me the plum pudding. She knew what would happen well enough. Where is she? He looks around for her. Why, she's gone.
So she has, says GERTRUDE, looking around. They've both gone.
And the brownies, too, says WALTER.
And I must be going this very minute, exclaims SANTA CLAUS. Goodness knows how late it is. He goes toward the door. Good-bye, everybody. Good-bye till next Christmas. Just at the door he turns, and says, By the way, I've got some more of those hazel nuts at home. What do you think I'd better do with them?
Santa Claus, says GRANDMOTHER, bring them with you next Christmas, and let's do it all over again.
Shall I? asks SANTA CLAUS, looking around at them all.
Yes, yes, they ALL cry.
It's a bargain, says SANTA CLAUS. Don't forget. Next Christmas. Good-bye. He opens the door to go out.
Good-bye till next Christmas, they ALL call after him, and they wave their hands to him as the Curtain closes.
And that is the end of the Play