.          all rights belong to Tanis Harms, 2015
.             refer to
www.church-skits.com

THE ULTIMATE GIFT – written by Tanis Harms

NOTE:        Can be a sequel to
“The Final Humility”
.            but can be told as a story all on its own.
PREMISE:     This story takes place in the late 1700s.
.            After losing a fortune, Marcus Stealthbury
.            found Christ, and a humble new beginning.
.            He and his sister Adriana were taken in by
.            Lily, their former cook.  And now they have
.            extended their kindness to beggar kids who
.            not only work for them but have become their
.            children-of-sorts.  Marcus now finds himself
.            worrying:  about his sister’s salvation,
.            about keeping their motley family together,
.            and about feeling worthy enough to marry
.            anybody, let alone Elizabeth Walters.
STYLE:       musical (for a drama only, you can play
.               enough of the recommended music
.               to facilitate the scene changes)
TOPIC:       finding God, and finding the right spouse
SCRIPTURE:   2 Corinthians 6:14, 9:15, Ephesians 2:7-9
NOTES:       for CAST, COSTUMES, SET, PROPS and MUSIC

.            $30.00 USD to receive a DIRECTOR’S SCRIPT
.                                   (plus sheet music)
.            
how you receive this & package description

SCRIPT:                  ACT 1
.              CENTER STAGE – TOWN SQUARE

(Some POOR PEOPLE enter from all directions for business.
CAROLERS enter to sing at stage left.
TOWNS PEOPLE going to church, walk across left to right,
sing along, waving to various POOR PEOPLE to join them.
A few POOR PEOPLE do join them with some hesitation.
MARCUS, LILY and their “CHILDREN” come out happily
from stage left, singing.  [You could have choreography.])

SONG 1: “O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL”

GROUP     (singing verse 1)  “O come,
.         all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
.         O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
.         Come and behold Him, born the King of angels!
.         (chorus)  O come, let us adore Him,
.         O come, let us adore Him,
.         O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
.                                                       2
(CAROLERS repeat song quietly, while...
from stage left, BRICE and ADRIANA straggle behind.)

BRICE     Must we always go to church?
.         I have better things to do.

ADRIANA   I completely agree.  We work hard all week,
.         then when we finally have a day of rest,
.         as they call it, we have to go to church.
.         I would much rather be pursuing my desires.

BRICE     Which are?

ADRIANA   Finding a man who will take me away
.         from these doldrums of life and jump to my
.         every wish, and lavish me with splendid gifts.
.         But know this:  to get - one must have or do.

BRICE     That is not now the saying goes.

ADRIANA   It is my saying.  Everything has its price.
.         Most fine gentlemen look for women with
.         fine reputations.  Thus, attending church –
.         is apparently becoming a social imperative.

BRICE     Huh?

ADRIANA   Just do what I do, and bide your time.

BRICE     And how is that?

ADRIANA   Whilst in church, think about something else.

(BRICE nods.  As CHURCH-GOERS exits stage right,
MARCUS stops to look for BRICE and ADRIANA.  Seeing them,
he smiles and waves them on with an encouraging smile.)

MARCUS    Adriana!  Brice!  Come on, you two.
.         We don’t want to be late.

(MARCUS, then BRICE and ADRIANA exit stage left.)

LIGHTS DIM.

(The POOR and other non-church-going PEOPLE exit quickly
in other directions.  CAROLERS either discretely exit,
or quickly join the church goers in the next scene
as the church’s choir who go right into the next SONG.)

.             CENTER STAGE - CHURCH INTERIOR            3

(REVEREND is at the “front” directing the rows of people.
CONGREGATION stands in rows to represent the pews.
Near the “front” stand MARCUS, LILY and CHILDREN.
Just behind them, ADRIANA and BRICE stand daydreaming,
both staring up into space, head turned more toward
the audience.  Right behind them, stands IAN, who peeks
longingly at ADRIANA from time to time. Behind him and
a few others, stands ELIZABETH and MR. and MRS. WALTERS.
And lastly, the very pious LORD and LADY MONTGOMERY,
and their daughter ABIGAIL.  ALL finish singing song...
except for BRICE and ADRIANA who continue to daydream.)

SONG 2:   “COME, THOU LONG-EXPECTED JESUS”

ALL       (vs.1) “Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
.         Born to set Thy people free;
.         From our fears and sins release us;
.         Let us find our rest in Thee
.         Israel’s strength and consolation
.         Hope of all the earth Thou art
.         Dear Desire of every nation
.         Joy of every longing heart.”

REVEREND  I pray that the words in today’s sermon
.         will work in the hearts of all who heard.
.         Thank you all for coming, and have a blessed
.         week as you continue to walk with our Lord.

(REVERND moves down stage where he begins to meet with
his congregation.  A few people exit to the “back”.
MARCUS, LILY and CHILDREN are first to greet REVEREND.
ADRIANA and BRICE stay put, waiting impatiently.
IAN stays in the background, shyly eyeing ADRIANA.)

MARCUS    Reverend, thank you so much
.         for your wise and encouraging words.

REVEREND  It is always encouraging to see you here,
.         Marcus.  Good morning, Lily, and children.
.         How are all of you doing?

(REVERND listens intently as each CHILD mimes talking
to him in turn, while LORD MONTGOMERY recognizes
MR. WALTERS.)

LORD M    Mister Walters!  I was not aware that you
.         attend this church.

(WALTERS FAMILY turns to speak with MONTGOMERY          4
FAMILY in a very crisp and respectful manner.)

MR. W     Lord, and Lady, Montgomery.  And this must be
.         your daughter, Abigail.  How have the years
.         flown by.  You remember my wife.
.         And - our daughter, Elizabeth.

(MRS. WALTERS and ELIZABETH respectfully nod a bow.
MONTGOMERY’S remain standing very tall.)

MRS. W    What brings you so far from city life?

LADY M    My husband has decided that the offices
.         need to be closer in vicinity to the factories.

LORD M    One cannot trust the gentries to run things
.         as tightly as one would want.

MRS. W    And how are you finding our little corner
.         of the world?

LADY M    I abhor the lack of high society.
.         Already, we feel the void of royal balls,
.         and quality restaurants and theater.

(ABIGAIL stands by with arrogant agreement.)

MR. W     So you have decided to attend this church?

LORD M    I have heard various rumors, and
.         wanted to see for myself.

MR. W     And you will continue to attend?

LORD M    (looks impatiently over at REVEREND)
.         That depends.  Just why is the Reverend NOT
.         making his way over here to greet us first?

ELIZ      There - are no distinctions of class
.         in this church, Lord Montgomery.

LORD M    Nonsense.  Please tell the Reverend we wish
.         to secure a pew.  This should have been
.         addressed as soon as we entered the building.
.         Although, we will pardon the oversight, since
.         we did arrive AFTER the sermon already began.

MR. W     As mentioned, such is not done here.

LORD M    It will be done, once the Reverend realizes   5
.         how much money I am willing to contribute –
.         (angrily)  What is taking him so long?
.         And just who is that family - that he would
.         speak at such length with them?

ELIZ      The gentleman is Marcus Stealthbury-

LADY M    (musing)  Why is that name so familiar?

LORD M    Ohhh, why, if it isn’t the FORMER
.         Lord Marcus Stealthbury!  (to LADY M)
.         You remember - this is the young man
.         who was stripped of his status after
.         squandering away his entire family fortune.

MR. W     He has since been gaining a more favorable
.         reputation.

LORD M    Not enough of one.  I hear
.         his occupation is now that of a baker.  

MRS. W    In his defense, their tarts are most delicious.

MR. W     He has become a very responsible and
.         respectable young man, with many people
.         now under his employ.

LADY M    And that is his wife?
.         She is a little too old for him, no?

ELIZ      Oh, that is Lily, his former cook.
.         She took them in when-

LADY M    You mean to say, he LIVES - with HER?!
.         With a woman who once worked for him?

ELIZ      She is more like a mother figure to him by now.

(As the MONTGOMERY FAMILY gawks at the thought,
ADRIANA has grown very impatient and finally explodes.)

ADRIANA   (to MARCUS)  Marcus!  Might we leave already?

(MONTGOMERY FAMILY continues the discussion.)

LADY M    Is THAT his wife, then?

ELIZ      Oh - no!  That is his sister, Adriana.

LADY M    Then to whom do all those children belong?!   6
.         Did they all come from different women?

ELIZ      Those are orphans which had been living on
.         the streets until they lovingly took them in.

LORD M    And this sort of family from the shambles
.         is tolerated in this church?!
.         And not only tolerated, but honored
.         by the keen interest of the Reverend?
.         Beggar children and the likes of them
.         coming before the pillars of society?!

MR. W     As I said before – there are no distinctions-

LORD M    This is impertinent!  Unacceptable!  What is
.         tolerated and valued here in the church,
.         will surely influence the attitudes of society.
.         We cannot have this!  There must be propriety!

ELIZ      God honors the humble, Lord Montgomery.

LORD M    Well, we shall see about that!
.         (to LADY M & ABIGAIL)  Time to go!  I refuse
.         to be insulted and dishonored any further.
.         (turning back)  And this example of a so-called
.         family is NOT a good example for those around.
.         Something WILL be done about that!

(As LORD and LADY MONTGOMERY, and ABIGAIL rush out with
upturned noses, ELIZABETH turns to MR. and MRS. WALTERS.)

ELIZ      What HAVE I stirred up?

MR. W     Hardly your fault, Elizabeth, dear.  Sadly,
.         prejudices run deep with most aristocrats.

MRS. W    How fortunate you did not point out the ones
.         who have turned from their ill-begotten ways.

(REVERND moves on and tries to get ADRIANA’S attention,
but she flings her gaze off into another direction.
REVEREND nods politely at her and BRICE, then nods
to IAN – who is still lost in his shy gaze at ADRIANA.
Smiling, REVEREND then approaches MR. and MRS. WALTERS
and ELIZABETH.  While they exchange pleasant greetings,
ADRIANA finally gets the attention of MARCUS.)

ADRIANA   Marcus, I shall be leaving now.  I find
.         it very stuffy here in this building.
.                                                    7
(ADRIANA turns to exit, with BRICE right behind her.
IAN watches her leave, but stays there, now wanting
the attention of MARCUS, but ELIZABETH beats him to it.
IAN now waits nervously in the background.)

ELIZ      Marcus.

MARCUS    (nods in a bow)  Elizabeth.

ELIZ      Um... How is business?  Do you plan
.         to make turkey tarts for Christmas?

MARCUS    (playfully chiding)  Elizabeth, business talk
.         on a Sabbath?

ELIZ      I apologize.  I was – just – trying to find
.         something to start a conversation.

MARCUS    Oh.  To... what end?

(LILY rolls her eyes.)

ELIZ      (thinking)  I remember you mentioning
.         that you wanted to school the children.
.         How is that coming along?

MARCUS    We are so busy, it is difficult to find
.         any time at all for such.

ELIZ      I have come up with an idea.

(Little TINA pulls at MARCUS’ coattails and looks up.

TINA      Mister Marcus, I’m getting famished.

MARCUS    (to ELIZ)  I am afraid we have to be g-

(LILY cannot take anymore and quickly cuts in.)

LILY      Elizabeth, why not join us for lunch?
.         You may discuss this idea then –
.         with more leisure.

MARCUS    Ah, yes, brilliant idea.

(As MARCUS takes a step toward the exit, IAN quickly
steps toward MARCUS to speak, but has difficulty
beginning his conversation.  LILY saves the day.)

LILY      Elizabeth, why not come with me and all       8
.         the children!  We can start preparing lunch.
.         I get the feeling that Mr. Carington has
.         a matter to discuss with Marcus.

(As FAMILY and ELIZ exit, MARCUS turns to IAN and waits
while IAN musters up courage to speak, and nervously
looks around to make sure there are no eavesdroppers.)

IAN       H-how do I-I - get the attention of a woman?

MARCUS    Ah, well, I am really not the one to ask –

IAN       But you are.  In the past you were known
.         as a ladies’ man –

MARCUS    THAT - was - in the past.

IAN       You still have women interested in you now.

MARCUS    I do?

IAN       Miss Elizabeth Walters–

MARCUS    Oh!  NO!  She could never be interested in me.
.         She is aristocrat.  My status was lowered
.         to that of a pauper.

IAN       You have worked your way up to gentry.

MARCUS    Ah, why, yes, yes I suppose I have. But you are
.         also gentry.  You should not have any trouble.

IAN       I–I – but it seems – that I – I become
.         tongue-tied around women.

MARCUS    Well, let me see.  (thinks)  Do not try to be
.         sly, the smart ones see right through that.
.         YOU want to catch yourself a sincere woman –
.         just be yourself.  But remember, you must -
.         share of yourself.

IAN       What do I share?

MARCUS    Things of interest.  This will depend on
.         the woman and what HER interests are.
.         Naturally, as you are a believer, you should
.         want to find a woman who also believes,
.         that is indeed something of shared interest -
.         the most important of all interests.
.                                                       9
IAN       What are ADRIANA’s interests?

MARCUS    ADRIANA?  My sister?  Oh, she is - NOT the one
.         for you, my friend.  To begin with –
.         she is NOT a believer.

IAN       She could become one.

MARCUS    One hopes and prays, but until such a time,
.         there would be no common bond.  And it is a sin.
.         Besides, why do you show interest in Adriana?
.         My sister would eat a man like you alive.
.         Do not misunderstand.  I truly love my sister,
.         but I am now only thinking of your well-being.

IAN       Oh... ah, I see.  Ah, well, thank you.

(MARCUS sighs his understanding and sympathy.)

.              STAGE CENTER-LEFT - CAROLERS

(CAROLERS sing transition song.)

SONG 3:   “SUSSEX CAROL”

CAROLERS  (vs.1)”On Christmas night all Christians sing
.         To hear what news the angels bring;
.         News of great joy, news of great mirth,
.         News of our Saviour King's birth

.         (vs.2) Then why should men on earth be so sad
.         Since our Redeemer made us glad,
.         When from sins He set us free
.         All for to gain liberty.

.         (vs.3)  Now sin depart, behold His grace,
.         Eternal life comes in its place,
.         Soon we shall its splendor see
.         Rich or poor though they be.”

.                  STAGE RIGHT - HOME

(The house’s décor is simple, but put together.
LILY, ADRIANA, MARCUS and ELIZABETH come from the
dining room area.  KIDS rush past them in a flurry.)

LILY      Kids, why don’t you all go outside to play?

(CHILDREN rush outside main door, except for BRICE.)
.                                               10
BRICE     Must I?

MARCUS    You may stay, if you mind your manners.

(LILY motions to the sofa for ELIZABETH to sit.
BRICE is about to plunk himself down on the sofa,
but MARCUS shakes his head gravely at him.  BRICE stands
and waits with MARCUS -for ELIZABETH, LILY and ADRIANA
to sit before taking a seat.  ADRIANA takes a novel from
an end table and begins to read.  MARCUS balks at this.)

ELIZ      Thank you again for such a lovely meal.

LILY      You are most welcome.  And thank you,
.         for your helpful hands while preparing it.

ELIZ      I rather enjoyed that, actually.  Mother would
.         NEVER allow that I help the help.  Oh.  Sorry,
.         I certainly did not mean it that way.

LILY      I understand what you meant, dear.

ELIZ      You have a lovely home.

LILY      We have had to build on to make room for all
.         the children.  Well, at first, we had them
.         sleeping in the hayloft of the barn.

ELIZ      Which is so much better than having children
.         living on the streets, hungry and unattended.

LILY      Just as Marcus and Adriana have become like
.         my own children, each precious little soul
.         that we take in has become like our very own.

MARCUS    Except we still continue to make them work.
.         I find child labor very disagreeable.

ELIZ      As do I.  The aristocrats should be ashamed
.         of themselves for building up their riches
.         on the vulnerable backs of poor children.

LILY      All true.  But it would be amiss
.         not to expect our children to carry out
.         a few chores.  It teaches them responsibility,
.         and everyone should help out as a family unit.

MARCUS    But child slavery is –

LILY      Is horrible.  But chores - are not.       11
.         Marcus, what of YOUR upbringing?  Have you
.         forgotten so soon?  Without any chores or
.         responsibility, how did that fair for you?

MARCUS    You are right.  I was a spoiled brat who
.         grew up to be an irresponsible young man
.         who squandered away the family fortune
.         and allowed someone to take the rest from me
.         right from under my nose... But, God’s ultimate
.         gift - was for me to lose everything,
.         so I could find this life – of salvation – and
.         unexplainable joy.  I’d have it no other way.

BRICE     You keep saying that joy is better than riches,
.         but I find that very difficult to believe.
.         So many problems could be solved if one were
.         to have efficient finances.

MARCUS    “Sufficient finances.”  The word is sufficient,
.         not efficient.  Education benefits one as well.
.         It is still not everything, but –
.         (remembering)  Oh, and speaking of education,
.         Elizabeth, you were going to share an idea?

ELIZ      Yes.  I remembered your desire in wanting
.         to school the children.

MARCUS    As it is, business has consumed our time
.         and energy.  There are just not enough days
.         in the week, unfortunately.

ELIZ      What about Sunday?

MARCUS    Elizabeth, I am shocked.  This would detract
.         from dedicating the Sabbath to honoring God.

ELIZ      It could be in combination.

MARCUS    I am failing to grasp your vision.

ELIZ      Sunday – school, which would be held at church.
.         I have heard of some churches doing this.
.         It is a rather new concept.  But
.         they incorporate learning how to read and write
.         with lessons from the Bible.

(ELIZABETH stops to watch MARCUS’ interest pick up,
then she proceeds with a little more enthusiasm.)

ELIZ      Think of it – it is the one day               12
.         that all children have off from working
.         in the mines and factories.  When else
.         could any of them ever have such an opportunity,
.         in an otherwise hopeless situation?  And then,
.         which building would be capable of accommodating
.         any such amount of – students – except
.         for possibly a church?  The Bible tells us
.         to serve and help the poor and the orphans.
.         What better way?

MARCUS    Most interesting.  It would be
.         a rather large project to undertake.
.         We would also have to obtain permission -

ELIZ      I have already spoken to the Reverend –
.         who is most willing and eager to help
.         facilitate.  And I have already agreed to serve
.         as a teacher.  Now, depending on the amount
.         of children -

MARCUS    Yes!  Allow me to consider this endeavor.

(MARCUS swings his attention to ADRIANA, who looks up
from her book with apprehension.)

ADRIANA   No!  I am not interested – at all.

MARCUS    Adriana, how selfish of you.  You were one
.         of the fortunate girls to be allowed some
.         schooling, and you do not wish to pass along-

ADRIANA   (sets down book and marches to the door)
.         I do not wish!  I DO need –
.         to think about myself - at some point.
.         And now, I am off - to serve myself in some way.
.         Do not worry!  I shant go far.
.         It seems I am stuck.

MARCUS    You can be so infuriating sometimes –

ADRIANA   Sometimes?!  Only sometimes?
.         I rather pride myself on my consistency.

(ADRIANA exits abruptly with an air of flippancy.)

MARCUS    (to ELIZ)  I apologize for my sister’s
.         inappropriate behavior.

(ELIZABETH smiles demurely.)
.                                                 13
LILY      Well, I for one, think this Sunday school
.         is a brilliant idea.  I just hope you
.         do not run into too many differences
.         of opinion, conflicts and such.
.         (to BRICE)  Brice, what do you think of this?

BRICE     I suppose I would not mind the education.
.         One cannot go very far in life without
.         an education – as I am discovering.

ELIZ      What shall our first lesson be on?

MARCUS    Christmas!  It is just around the corner.

LIGHTS DIM.

.              CENTER STAGE – TOWN SQUARE

(CAROLERS sing.)

SONG 4:   “DOWN IN YON FOREST”

CAROLERS  (Vs.1)”Down in yon forest there stands a hall:
.         The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
.         It's covered all over with purple and pall
.         And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
.         (Vs.2) In thall there stands a bed:
.         The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
.         It's covered all over with scarlet so red:
.         And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
.         (Vs.5) At the bed's foot there grows a thorn:
.         The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
.         Whichever blows blossom since He was born:
.         And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.”

(ADRIANA wanders through town from stage right,
with people strolling past.  DILLAN FARSWORTH enters
from stage left and catches sight of ADRIANA, then smiles
and looks around to observe who might be watching him.
Meanwhile, ADRIANA catches sight of DILLAN and
coyly looks away, then quickly pinches her cheeks
to make them pink.  When done, she slowly turns and
steps forward, just as DILLAN steps up to her.
Almost colliding, ADRIANA feigns propriety.
DILLAN gives a bow, while maintaining a steady gaze.)

DILLAN    Why, if it isn’t Lady Stealthbury.
.         We meet again.

ADRIANA   Please stop calling me that in public.      14
.         You do know, I lost that title a while ago–
.         along with my brother’s status.

DILLAN    In my books, once a lady - always a lady.

ADRIANA   Why, Lord Farsworth-

DILLAN    Please, call me by my Christian name.

(ADRIANA looks at him playfully pretending to forget.)

DILLAN    (smiling)  Dillan.  Please, call me Dillan.

ADRIANA   I really do not know that much about you
.         to warrant such familiar terms.

DILLAN    You have heard about the Farsworth family’s.
.         wealth. So enough about me.  Please, regale me
.         with stories about you.  I have heard so many,
.         but it would bring me great delight
.         to discover if they are all true.

ADRIANA   Is my only purpose to amuse you?

DILLAN    Now-now, I have never heard about
.         your serious side.

ADRIANA   Alas, I have already forgotten the whimsical
.         banter of the socialites.  I am now distraught.

DILLAN    Well, let me refresh your memory.

ADRIANA   And why, pray tell, are you even interested
.         in speaking with me?  I am so far beneath you.

DILLAN    I care not.  I am merely interested
.         in getting to know YOU – it is not
.         a social sin – if you are not caught.
.         (unsure of his intentions, ADRIANA steps away)
.         I dare say, I did not expect you to be prudish.
.         Are your intentions to NOT make this easy?

ADRIANA   (gives DILLAN a coy, sideways glance)
.         Anything worthwhile never comes easy.

DILLAN    Huh!  Well, I quite enjoy a challenge.

ADRIANA   Then you may have just discovered something
.         very worthwhile.
.                                                   15
DILLAN    So I have before me the ultimate challenge?

ADRIANA   (worried)  Especially since you cannot
.         inquire permission of pursuit,
.         as both parents have passed on.

DILLAN    (unsure)  If I were thinking along those lines,
.         does not this responsibility now fall
.         to your brother?

ADRIANA   Sadly, my brother practically does not exist,
.         as far as I am concerned.

(In the background, IAN enters and stops when he sees
ADRIANA.  IAN remains there, watching with concern.)

DILLAN    You still live with him, and work with him-

ADRIANA   That is someone else.  Day by day, Marcus
.         becomes a person I simply cannot recognize.
.         The brother who was – is no longer.
.         What with all his religious piety,
.         he is only but a shadow of his former self.
.         Had you inquired some time ago, things
.         would have been very different.  Now,
.         I am very sure that he would not approve.

(DILLAN’s smile drops when he notices IAN lurking.)

DILLAN    Well, then - my lady, I will make some –
.         arrangements to meet up with you
.         in a more private location - at another
.         time - time which will only be well spent!

ADRIANA   How cryptic!  I cannot wait to decipher.

(DILLAN bows and quickly exits stage left.  ADRIANA
wonders if she should be insulted at his abrupt exit.
ADRIANA takes a step to follow;  then thinking better,
she turns and almost runs into IAN, who has been quick
to approach.  ADRIANA rolls her eyes at IAN.)

IAN       I, um, Hi, Miss Stealthbury, um.  I can see,
.         ah, that, ah –

ADRIANA   Ian, will you please get on with it.

IAN       It is, about, that um, that man, is not-
.         he is not – right for you.
.                                                    16
ADRIANA   He is a man of means.  And - you –
.         are no match for me.

IAN       That, that is – not, um, what I mean is-

ADRIANA   Oh, Ian, I am finding this rather painful.

IAN       Sorry. Ah, s-sorry.

(Exasperated, ADRIANA exits quickly stage right.
IAN sighs helplessly then turns and exits stage left.)

(LORD MONTGOMERY marches in from upper stage right and
continues marching across to lower stage left.)

.              LOWER STAGE LEFT - OFFICE

(As LORD MONTGOMERY enters, TOWN OFFICIAL steps up.)

OFFICIAL  Good day, Lord Montgomery.  How may I-

LORD M    Good day.  Straight to the point, I am here
.         to inquire about one Marcus Stealthbury.

OFFICIAL  Ah, good chap.

LORD M    I am not so impressed.  Does he pay his taxes?

OFFICIAL  I know for a fact, that he pays every bit.
.         In fact, the township wishes to honor him-

LORD M    HONOR – honor a gentry?  Whatever for?

OFFICIAL  Well, despite his position, he contributes
.         to society by helping all those orphans.

LORD M    He uses them to work –

OFFICIAL  He did at first, but he has since hired
.         people off the street.  The orphans merely
.         live with him.

LORD M    Is there nothing shady about him?
.         Surely there must be something.

OFFICIAL  As far as we know, he abides by all laws.
.         In fact, crime has come down,
.         since the success of his business enterprise.

LORD M    This is most preposterous.  Honor –       17
.         must be restored to the rightful positions.
.         (OFFICIAL stands there dumbfounded)
.         To what is this world coming?

OFFICIAL  You are the first to complain.

LORD M    I simply – do not trust someone who appears
.         to be so upstanding.  From my experiences,
.         I suspect he must be up to something.
.         And I will find out just what that is –
.         you can count on it.  Something must be done.

.              CENTER STAGE – TOWN SQUARE

(CAROLERS sing.)

SONG 5:   "THE HOLLY AND THE IVY"

CAROLERS  (Vs.1)  “The holly and the ivy,
.         when they are both full grown,
.         Of all the trees that are in the wood,
.         the holly bears the crown.
.         (chorus)  Oh, the rising of the sun
.         and the running of the deer,
.         The playing of the merry instruments,
.         sweetly singing in the choir.”

(As song begins, POOR WOMAN enters, shivering.
She begins to beg as the people pass by.
LORD MONTGOMERY walks by and purposefully ignores her.
As carolers sing, CAROLER MAN takes off his hat
to show honor to God.  LORD M. drops a coin into hat.)

LORD M    At least I know that you are not out
.         committing crimes.  Please, remember
.         the kind benevolence of Lord Montgomery.

(CAROLER MAN is unsure of how he should react.
He shows CAROLER WOMAN the coin.  As CAROLERS sing,
CAROLER WOMAN takes the coin to STREET MERCHANT to buy
a shawl and goes to put it around POOR WOMAN’s shoulders.
POOR WOMAN bows very thankfully and, touched, rushes off.
CAROLER WOMAN goes back to the CAROLERS to finish song.)

CAROLERS  (Vs.2)  “The holly bears a blossom
.         as white as lily flower,
.         And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
.         to be our sweet Savior
.         (sing chorus)  
CAROLERS  (continue vs.3 if needed)                  18
.         The holly bears a berry
.         as red as any blood,
.         And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
.         to do poor sinners good.
.         (sing chorus)”

(TOWNS PEOPLE exit, leaving CAROLERS off to the side
to sing the rest of the song as a scene transition.
ELIZABETH, MARCUS and children get into position.)

.                 CENTER STAGE - CHURCH

(MARCUS stands at the “front” of the CHILDREN, who sit on
the floor, eagerly lapping up every word, all except
for BRICE, who sits at the back, intent on not listening.
ELIZABETH stands aside, enjoying MARCUS’ enthusiasm.)

MARCUS    And what were the three gifts that were
.         given to the baby Jesus?

CHILD 1   (raises a hand and MARCUS nods)
.         Gold, Myrrh, and... Frank-  ah, Frank-

BRICE     (dryly)  Frankincense.

CHILD 1   Frank-and-sense.

MARCUS    Very good.  And how many gifts were there?

CHILD 2   (raises a hand)  Three.

MARCUS    And from the reading, how many wise men
.         do you suppose there were?

CHILD 2   Three?

MARCUS    People do assume that-

BRICE     (dryly)  It does not say how many.

MARCUS    Excellent observation, Brice.  Now all three
.         of these items were very costly.  But in
.         comparison to what God did for us – even these
.         treasures are worthless.  We could never earn
.         God’s love.  But God loves us just the same,
.         and wants to give us the gift of eternal life.
.         That concludes our first lesson.  Now, Miss
.         Walters has something to share with you.

ELIZ      (to KIDS)  Because we are nearing           20
.         Christmas, we thought it might be fun
.         to prepare a play – to put on for the people
.         at the Christmas Eve service.
.         (KIDS clap; BRICE groans and covers his face)
.         So beginning next week, besides having
.         a lesson, we will also begin rehearsals.

MARCUS    Now time for church.  Respectfully and quietly,
.         let us prepare our hearts to worship our Lord.

(ALL bow in prayer.)

.              STAGE CENTER-LEFT - CAROLERS

(CAROLERS sing transition song.)

SONG 6:   “DING DONG, MERRILY ON HIGH”

CAROLERS  (vs.1) “Ding dong! merrily on high
.         In heav'n the bells are ringing:
.         Ding dong! verily the sky
.         Is riv'n with Angel singing.
.         (chorus)  Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
.         Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
.         (vs.2)  E'en so here below, below,
.         Let steeple bells be swungen,
.         And "Io, io, io!"
.         By priest and people sungen.
.         (chorus)  Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!
.         Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!”

.                  STAGE RIGHT - HOME

(MARCUS sits reading a Bible, ADRIANA, a novel.
LILY enters to sit and tackle some knitting.)

LILY      All children are tucked into bed.

MARCUS    I have some money set aside.

LILY      That has been your good habit of late.
.         But why this reminder?

MARCUS    I mean, for the children.  I have set
.         some money aside for the children.
.         It is Christmas soon, and I mean to buy
.         each and every one of them a present.

(ADRIANA looks up dreamily to reminisce.)
.                                                      20
ADRIANA   Oh, remember our Christmases whence
.         we were children?  Mother and Father would
.         lavish us with every sort of gift.
.         Everything a child could possibly imagine.

MARCUS    And we both took it for granted,
.         until it was all stripped away from us.

ADRIANA   Well, one day soon, I will be married to
.         a husband who will lavish me with gifts.

MARCUS    How so?  Is there someone like that now?

(ADRIANA realizes she should not have blurted that out.)

LILY      Out with it, child.

ADRIANA   Really, how is this any of your concern?

MARCUS    It is every bit of our concern.
.         He must pass our test of scrutiny.
.         He must ask permission.

ADRIANA   Your standards are far too high.
.         No one would ever qualify.

(ADRIANA gets up to leave.)

LILY      We worry about your safety and reputation.

MARCUS    And to go out unaccompanied –
.         people will talk.
.         I will escort you.

ADRIANA   Nonsense.  I am just –
.         going to stroll around the garden!  ALONE!
.         Please, I simply need some solitude.
.         To – reflect on things!

(Once ADRIANA is gone, MARCUS turns to LILY.)

LILY      We can only keep praying for her.
.         Now, you were - going on about –
.         (trying to remember the conversation)
.         About buying gifts - for the children.

MARCUS    Oh yes.  Have you any ideas?  It cannot be
.         anything extravagant.  I just want it special.

.              CENTER STAGE – TOWN SQUARE         21

(CAROLERS sing.)

SONG 7:  “DECK THE HALLS”

CAROLERS  (vs.1)“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         'Tis the season to be jolly,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         Don we now our gay apparel,
.         Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
.         Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         (vs.2)  See the blazing Yule before us,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         Strike the harp and join the chorus.
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         Follow me in merry measure,
.         Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
.         While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         (vs.3)  Fast away the old year passes,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.
.         Sing we joyous, all together,
.         Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
.         Heedless of the wind and weather,
.         Fa la la la la, la la la la.”

(ADRIANA enters from stage right and crosses the stage
only to bump into DILLAN escorting another WOMAN.
They are laughing as if they know each other intimately.)

WOMAN     Oh! why, Lord Dillan, you are so naughty!

DILLAN    (now seeing ADRIANA)  Adriana! there you are.

ADRIANA   And there you are!  With another woman!

DILLAN    I was just talking about you.

ADRIANA   I am sure you were.  Do not let me interrupt.

DILLAN    Where are you going?

(DILLAN pushes WOMAN away to catch up to ADRIANA.
Insulted, WOMAN marches off stage left.)

DILLAN    Adriana, I am speaking to you!               22
.         (grabs ADRIANA’S arm and pulls her back)
.         You dally with my emotions.
.         I was merely - biding my time.

ADRIANA   You are a complete cad!

DILLAN    I am a Farsworth.  You - are – nothing!
.         I mean, you would be nothing without me.

ADRIANA   Quick with the words.  Which are quicker?
.         The lies or the truth?

DILLAN    You will accuse me in public!-

(DILLAN is about to strike ADRIANA when IAN steps in.)

IAN       You will not strike her!

DILLAN    Law says I may.

IAN       Only if you are married.  And despite
.         the law’s shortcomings, a true gentleman
.         would never consider such actions.

DILLAN    What manner of man are you to step between
.         a man and his woman?  (back to ADRIANA)
.         Adriana, forgive me.  You caught me
.         by surprise.  Let me make it up to you.

ADRIANA   That would take a lot more than just words.

IAN       I believe Miss Stealthbury has had quite
.         enough of this.

(DILLAN balks.  ADRIANA looks back with some amusement.)

ADRIANA   Yes, perhaps you need some time to think
.         through your actions and intentions.
.         (turns playfully to IAN as she takes his arm)
.         Why thank you, for being my savior.
.         (DILLAN storms offstage)

IAN       ‘Tis what any gentleman would do.

ADRIANA   ANY - gentleman?  Or just those with
.         the desires of conquest?

IAN       I can assure you –I am not interested –
.         in pursuing - an unchristian woman.
.                                                      23
ADRIANA   Oh!  Is that so?  My charm would not persuade
.         you otherwise?

IAN       I – I – avoid – being in the path of charm.

ADRIANA   Well, putting charm aside, I can walk
.         unescorted from here.  (shaking IAN away)

IAN       No, I shall explain to Marcus what occurred-

ADRIANA   (turning to IAN)  You shall not!
.         You shall never speak to Marcus about any
.         of this.  It is none of your affair.

(MARCUS rushes on from stage right.  IAN tries to speak.)

IAN       Mr. Stealthbury, I must inform-

MARCUS    Mr. Carington, I hope it can wait.
.         Adriana, you must go home straight away
.         to be with Lily!

ADRIANA   Wha- why?  What?

MARCUS    The children!  They have taken the children!
.         Lily is completely beside herself.

ADRIANA   Who has taken the children?!

MARCUS    The township.

ADRIANA   I fail to understand.  Why would they
.         do such a thing?

MARCUS    It seems that Lord Montgomery has instituted
.         an orphanage.  And has put some sort of laws
.         in place.  

ADRIANA   Laws preventing us from taking care
.         of wayward children?

MARCUS    That is where I am going right now.
.         I mean to get to the bottom of this.
.         I need to inquire about these so-called laws.

(CAROLERS sing as ADRIANA rushes off stage right.
Unsure of what to do, IAN exits stage right also.
MARCUS continues over to lower stage left.)

SONG 8:  “COVENTRY CAROL”                            24

CAROLERS  (vs.1) “Lully, lullay, Thou tiny Child,
.         Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
.         Lully, lullay, Thou tiny Child,
.         Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
.         (vs.2)  O sisters too, how may we do,
.         For to preserve this day?
.         This poor youngling for whom we sing
.         Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
.         (vs.3)  Herod, the king, in his raging,
.         Charged he hath on this day
.         His men of might, in his own sight,
.         All young children to slay.
.         (vs.4)  That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
.         And ever mourn and sigh,
.         For thy parting neither say nor sing,
.         Bye, bye, lully, lullay.”

.              LOWER STAGE LEFT – OFFICE

(MACUS faces the TOWN OFFICIAL.)

MARCUS    You need to stop this at once!

OFFICIAL  I cannot.  What is done is done.
.         The lords held a meeting to put order in place.

MARCUS    This is not order, it is madness.
.         Insensitive, cruel madness!

OFFICIAL  I agree.  But I had nothing to do with this,
.         and I certainly cannot undo it.
.         I must abide within the laws of the district.

MARCUS    What-what else can be done?
.         What if I were to adopt them all?

OFFICIAL  Ah, you could, if only you were married.
.         Their wishes are to maintain a proper family unit-

MARCUS    So they believe it is better for the children
.         to be housed in an orphanage, than in
.         a loving home, no matter if there is only
.         but one parent?

OFFICIAL  They feel the orphanage will have better
.         structure for the children.

MARCUS    How can they guarantee such?

OFFICIAL  They will be strict on obedience.          25
.         And every child will learn a trade
.         at the expense of the state.

MARCUS    You mean - slavery.  Legalized slavery!

OFFICIAL  I think you are overreacting.

MARCUS    Overreacting?  My children have been torn away.

OFFICIAL  At least they will have food and shelter,
.         and direction in life.

MARCUS    What about spiritual direction?

OFFICIAL  They will be allowed to attend church.

(Gasping, MARCUS exits back into to town square.)

(CAROLERS sing.)

SONG 9:  “LO, HOW A ROSE E’ER BLOOMING”

CAROLERS  (Vs.1)  “Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming
.         from tender stem hath sprung!
.         Of Jesse's lineage coming,
.         as those of old have sung.
.         It came, a floweret bright,
.         amid the cold of winter,
.         when half spent was the night.”

(As CAROLERS sing, LADY MONTGOMERY and ABIGAIL meet
MRS. WALTERS and ELIZABETH at center stage.
They curtsy to each other politely.)

MRS. W    How goes everything Lady Montgomery?

LADY M    As well as one might expect here on
.         the outskirts of true civilization.
.         It appears this town is also devoid
.         of any boutiques for the elite.

MRS. W    We usually make a trip into the city
.         to purchase our fineries.

LADY M    Well, we will slowly make improvements.
.         My husband has already begun.  He has just
.         contributed a substantial amount to fund an
.         orphanage.  He’s sure to be honored for this.
.                                                     26
ELIZ      An orphanage?  Whatever for?  The orphans
.         have long since found a home with-

LADY M    The children are being taken away as we speak.

ELIZ      Taken away?  You mean, taken from their home?
.         How horrible!

LADY M    What talk is this?  You dare to criticize
.         my husband’s charitable actions?

ELIZ      Not at all, but Marcus and Lily love those
.         children very much.  The children were like
.         their very own, and were all flourishing-

LADY M    Just think how much more they will flourish
.         under the direction of the professionals.
.         Now, good day, ladies.

(LADY MONTGOMERY and ABIGAIL turn up their noses and
strut off stage left.  MRS. WALTERS and ELIZABETH
are left standing, stunned.  MARCUS enters stage left.)

ELIZ      Poor Marcus, and Lily.

MRS. W    There he is now.

ELIZ      Where?  I must speak with him.
.         He must be devastated.

(ELIZABETH approaches MARCUS.  MRS. WATERS looks around
and finds a STREET MERCHANT selling shawls and spends
her time looking through the collection.)

ELIZ      (to MARCUS)  I just heard.  I think it
.         is completely horrid.  I am so sorry.
.         Is there anything that can be done?

MARCUS    Only adoption. But for that,
.         I must be married.

ELIZ      (fishing)  Is that – not a possibility?

MARCUS    To whom?  I will not marry just anyone
.         in order to legally qualify.

ELIZ      Marcus, would you never consider me?
.         Am I not worthy?  Would I not qualify?

MARCUS    Elizabeth, you would more than qualify.    27
.         But I long ago realized
.         that it is me who is not worthy of you.

ELIZ      I do not agree with that statement.

MARCUS    Elizabeth, I am only gentry.  You are –
.         an aristocrat who – would find our meager
.         living standards far below your expectations.
.         You would be completely miserable.  I will
.         not be the undoing of your status in life.

ELIZ      Do you think that I am so shallow?

MARCUS    Not shallow!  You are of delicate upbringing.

ELIZ      I am not as delicate as you tend to believe.

MARCUS    People would talk-

ELIZ      People talk anyway.

(ELIZABETH storms off.  Finding MRS. WALTERS,
ELIZABETH grabs her arm and pulls her away stage left.)

MARCUS    (maintaining a meek hope)  See you Sunday.

(ELIZABETH grunts, almost sobbing.
CAROLERS sing transition song.)

SONG 10:  “GOD REST YE MERRY, GENTLEMEN”

CAROLERS  (vs.1) “God rest ye merry, gentlemen;
.         let nothing you dismay.
.         Remember, Christ our Savior
.         was born on Christmas Day
.         To save us all from Satan's pow'r
.         when we were gone astray.
.         (Chorus)  O tidings of comfort and joy,
.         comfort and joy!  O tiding of comfort and joy!”
.         (repeat verse if needed.)

.                          ACT 2
.                 CENTER STAGE - CHURCH

(CHILDREN sadly rush in to hug MARCUS and ELIZABETH.)

ELIZ      Oh, please do not look so glum.

CHILD 1   How can we not?
.                                                    28
CHILD 2   (to MARCUS)  When can we come back home?

MARCUS    I am afraid that is not possible.
.         Now, sit down so we can begin.

CHILD 3   But we miss you.

MARCUS    But they treat you well?

CHILD 4   They beat us!

CHILD 5   And they don’t give us much to eat.

(MARCUS walks in tiny circles trying to compose himself.)

ELIZ      Perhaps practicing for our Christmas play
.         will take your mind off of things.

BRICE     Really?  Is that your solution?

MARCUS    It is not fair.  Look, there are children
.         in this world who have a lot less than you.

BRICE     (taken aback)  How do you know?

MARCUS    Missionaries have come back from places like
.         China and Africa, and they tell us how it is.
.         If you heard the stories, your hearts
.         would surely break.

ELIZ      But the missionaries bring them hope.
.         The good news of Jesus coming to earth
.         in order to die for us.  That is what
.         the Christmas story is all about.

BRICE     What of a God who lets bad things happen?

MARCUS    Bad things do happen, but God can use these.
.         It took Jesus dying on the cross in order
.         for us to even have the hope of salvation.

BRICE     You keep saying this.  Everybody dies.

MARCUS    Jesus died in our place to pay for our sins-
.         so that we do not have to die.  When we trust
.         and believe in Him, we can have eternal life.

BRICE     But we still die.

MARCUS.   This life on earth is only temporary.  But
.         when we choose God to be our heavenly Father,
.         God adopts us.  We can all be children of God.
.         And when we get to heaven – we will all live
.         in God’s house – together – as one family.

ELIZ      Which will be spectacular beyond all measure.

MARCUS    Yes, we cannot even imagine such riches.
.         But as Christians, the real treasure is having
.         God in our hearts, and in our lives.
.         And we are most fortunate to live in a country
.         which has churches and Bibles that we can read.
.         Many countries do not have this privilege.
.         That right there, is what makes those other
.         children a lot poorer than anyone of you.

ELIZ      Come, let us practice our Christmas play.

.              CENTER STAGE - CITY EXTERIOR

(CAROLERS sing.)

SONG 11:   “GOOD KING WENCESLAS”

CAROLERS  (vs.1)Good King Wenceslas look'd out
.         on the feast of Stephen,
.         When the snow lay round about,
.         deep and crisp and even.
.         Brightly shone the moon that night,
.         though the frost was cruel,
.         When a poor man came in sight,
.         gath'ring winter fuel.
.         (vs.4)"Sire, the night is darker now,
.         and the wind blows stronger.
.         Fails my heart, I know not how,
.         I can go no longer."
.         "Mark my footsteps, my good page,
.         tread thou in them boldly.
.         Thou shalt find the winter's rage
.         freeze thy blood less coldly."
.         (vs.5)”In his master's steps he trod,
.         where the snow lay dinted.
.         Heat was in the very sod
.         which the Saint had printed.
.         Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
.         wealth or rank possessing;
.         Ye who now will bless the poor
.         shall yourselves find blessing.

(REVERND and WIFE walk arm in arm in the square      30
when they meet up with LORD and LADY MONTGOMERY.
REVERND and WIFE nod politely.)

REV       Lord and Lady Montgomery.  Good day to you.

LORD M    Reverend, I have been meaning to speak to you
.         about this whole Sunday school business.

REV       I say, it is hardly a business.

LORD M    I would claim otherwise.  It is a school.
.         School on the Sabbath would be wrong.
.         It is a sin, and it must stop.

REV       You would prevent the children from
.         attending church?

LORD M    Not from attending church, but from
.         attending school.

REV       We have merely called it “school” because
.         the children are learning.

LORD M    Education has always been the business
.         of teaching the privileged how to read,
.         write, and calculate-

REV       The children who come to Sunday school
.         are being educated on Biblical matters.

WIFE      The children just love their lessons.

LORD M    I have heard that some are already reading.

REV       If someone has the Bible read to them,
.         and they happen to absorb that ability,
.         what is the harm?

LADY M    If the poor would suddenly be able to read,
.         there would be anarchy.

REV       You will NOT stop the children from
.         attending church, sir.  Good day.

(REVEREND and WIFE pass by the POOR WOMAN with the shawl,
and give her a coin.  LORD & LADY MONTGOMERY see this,
balk, then stop to enjoy the CAROLERS who sings.)

LADY M    What sort of reverend supports riffraff?
.                                                      31
SONG 12:  “HERE WE COME A-WASSAILING”

CAROLERS  (vs.1)  Here we come a-wassailing
.         Among the leaves so green,
.         Here we come a-wand'ring
.         So fair to be seen.
.         Love and joy come to you,
.         And to you your wassail, too,
.         And God bless you, and send you
.         A Happy New Year,
.         And God send you a Happy New Year.

(CAROLERS sing while LORD MONTGOMERY holds out a coin.)

LADY M    Oh, let me join in the fun.

LORD M    Christmas is the time to be generous.

(LORD MONTGOMERY hands the coin to LADY M, who then
gives the coin to a surprised CAROLER WOMAN, who
curtsies.  LORD and LADY M smugly exit stage left.
As CAROLERS begin another verse, WAITRESS comes out
with tray of mugs.  CAROLER WOMAN waves over POOR WOMAN
and offers to buy her a warm drink.  POOR WOMAN
then joins the CAROLERS in finishing the song.)

CAROLERS  (vs.2)  We are not daily beggars
.         That beg from door to door,
.         But we are neighbors' children
.         Whom you have seen before
.         Love and joy come to you,
.         And to you your wassail, too,
.         And God bless you, and send you
.         A Happy New Year,
.         And God send you a Happy New Year.

(ADRIANA strolls in on DILLAN’S arm.  ADRIANA maintains
a stoic expression.  DILLAN tries to look into her eyes
to see what her demeanor might be.)

DILLAN    Are you still thinking?

ADRIANA   You will not even apologize?

(DILLAN pulls away from ADRIANA to face her.)

DILLAN    For what?  Putting up with a woman
.         who drives me to lose my temper?

ADRIANA   You would continue to put up with me?     32

DILLAN    Perhaps this would persuade you.

(DILLAN stops to pull out a gift box from his
jacket pocket and holds out to ADRIANA.)

ADRIANA   Oh.  A gift?  The ultimate gift?

(ADRIANA opens the box and sees a tiara and necklace –
the same ones from when everything was taken from them.
ADRIANA speaks with some anger in her voice.)

ADRIANA   (demanding)  Where did you get these?!

DILLAN    What does it matter?

ADRIANA   I cannot make a decision until I know.

DILLAN    I had them especially made for you.

ADRIANA   You lie!

DILLAN    What?  How would you know?...
.         Fine.  I won them in a game.  What of it?
.         Does that change things?

ADRIANA   (pouting, unsure)  A little.

DILLAN    Good.  Then you will move into the house
.         that I own in this town?

ADRIANA   Move – in?  What of marriage?

DILLAN    I hardly think my wife would approve?

ADRIANA   What?!

DILLAN    What were you expecting?  That I would
.         marry someone beneath me?  No, I just
.         expect you to be at my beck and call
.         whenever I visit this town.  You would
.         certainly NOT be a lady out in society,
.         but you would be enjoying the life of a lady,
.         adorned with lavish jewels and living pretty.

(ADRIANA touches the jewelry longingly.)

ADRIANA   And so become an outcast from every class.

DILLAN    I see how you study these jewels.           33
.         I know that you want them.

ADRIANA   They were once mine, before we lost everything.
.         They had belonged to my mother, and her mother-
.         But I see now - it is not worth it.  You –
.         (struggles not to cry)  are not worth it.

(CAROLERS sing while ADRIANA rushes out stage right.
DILLAN snaps shut the gift box and exits stage left.)

SONG 13:  “A VIRGIN UNSPOTTED”

CAROLERS  (verse 1)
.         “A virgin unspotted, the prophets foretold;
.         Should bring forth a Savior which now we behold.
.         To be our Redeemer from death, hell, and sin,
.         Which Adam’s transgression wrapped all of us in.
.         (chorus)
.         Aye, therefore be merry, cast sorrows away,
.         our Savior Christ Jesus was born on this day.
.         (verse 8)
.         “To teach us humility all this was done,
.         And learn we from thence haughty pride for to shun
.         A manger His cradle W ho came from above,
.         The great God of mercy, of peace and of love.
.         (chorus)
.         Aye, therefore be merry, cast sorrows away,
.         our Savior Christ Jesus was born on this day.”

.                  STAGE RIGHT - HOME

(MARCUS is reading when ADRIANA bursts in sobbing.
MARCUS looks up from his reading.)

MARCUS    What is it?

ADRIANA   Nothing!  That is what.  My life is nothing.
.         And my life MEANS nothing.  I was just
.         offered the ultimate gift - JUST now –
.         my very own jewels – mother’s jewelry.
.         I could have had them.

MARCUS    What are you talking about?

ADRIANA   Did you ever think about how far you would go
.         to get back the life of wealth we once had?
.         (chiding MARCUS)  And come now, be honest,
.         I know there have been some tempting moments.

MARCUS    I’d like to think that I’m beyond that-      34
.         It required forgiving Henry Madison and myself.
.         You need to do the same. Forgive Henry Madison,
.         the man who swindled everything from us,
.         and forgive me for allowing it, as well
.         as squandering away a good deal of it.

ADRIANA   Except I was just as much to blame.

MARCUS    But you were not in charge of managing
.         the finances.  I was.

ADRIANA   But I was in charge of spending it.
.         And I helped spend it rather well.

MARCUS    So, it would seem you DO need to
.         forgive yourself as well.

(ADRIANA flings herself onto the sofa to dry her tears.
MARCUS gets up to go console her when there is a knock
at the door.)

MARCUS    Are you expecting anyone?

(Afraid, ADRIANA swallows hard and shakes her head.
MARCUS answers the door and ushers MR. WALTERS in.)

MARCUS    Mister Walters.  Please, come in.
.         Is there some matter of business?

MR. W     The business – of marriage – can be tricky.

MARCUS    (unsure)  Yes?

MR. W     My daughter, Elizabeth, is quite unhappy.

MARCUS    Not on my account?

MR. W     Son, us men can be rather naïve. And oblivious.

MARCUS    Since becoming a Christian, I am maintaining
.         innocence – remaining chaste.  But sadly,
.         from past experience, I can say
.         I was anything BUT naïve.
.         (ADRIANA guffaws while still drying her tears)
.         (to ADRIANA)  What?

ADRIANA   You may have known women,
.         but you definitely did not know ABOUT women.

MARCUS    True.  Women are somewhat mysteries.         38

MR. W     Indeed.  And my Elizabeth is no exception.
.         For whatever reason, she feels that you
.         are the one for her.

MARCUS    Sir, I have done nothing to encourage that...
.         I do not know if you remember our chance
.         meeting out on the yard of my former estate-

MR. W     How could I forget.

MARCUS    Exactly!  Not my finest hour.  And I can still
.         remember the look of horror on your daughter’s
.         face – I could sense her utter disgust-

MR. W     Marcus, since becoming a believer, you have
.         become a new man.  This new man is far more
.         appealing to my Elizabeth.  Do you not remember
.         her criteria for marriage?

MARCUS    (smiling)  She said that, “Only a Christian
.         gentleman of upright integrity will befit” her.

MR. W     Take special note that she never inserted
.         the word “wealthy.”

MARCUS    But sir, you know women-

MR. W     Elizabeth is not an ordinary woman.

MARCUS    No, she is far above reproach.

MR. W     Indeed, she is, and yet, she is still human.
.         Now, no more of this nonsense; I am going
.         to make this very easy for you, young man.
.         I am giving you permission and my blessing
.         for you to ask Elizabeth for her hand
.         in marriage.  You are a fool - no longer.
.         I do not expect you to backslide now.

(MR. WALTERS nods respectfully, then turns and exits.)

ADRIANA   I see your bright and shining future is cut out
.         for you, while mine continues to look bleak.

MARCUS    Huh?  Elizabeth will not have me.  Note his
.         words of warning - to NOT be a fool.  His words
.         of blessings were surely more that of a threat.

.              CENTER STAGE - CITY EXTERIOR            36

(CAROLERS sing.)

SONG 14:  “BREAK FORTH, o BEAUTEOUS HEAVENLY LIGHT”

CAROLERS  (vs.1)“Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
.         And usher in the morning;
.         Ye shepherds, shrink not with affright,
.         But hear the angel’s warning.
.         This Child now weak in infancy,
.         Our confidence and joy shall be.
.         The power of Satan breaking,
.         Our peace eternal making.

(ADRIANA enters stage left and runs into BRICE, who
purposefully crosses the stage from stage right to left.)

ADRIANA   (excited)  Brice!  Where are you off to?

BRICE     Adriana!  I am just coming back from work.
.         I’m expected right back at the orphanage,
.         though.  How are you?

ADRIANA   Not well.  And you?

BRICE     Actually, I have great news.

ADRIANA   You shall be old enough soon to leave
.         the orphanage.

BRICE     Yes.  But, more than that – I – I became
.         a Christian.

ADRIANA   Oh no, not you, too.

BRICE     And what’s more, once I am old enough to leave,
.         I will go to seminary, then to China.

ADRIANA   China?

BRICE     As a missionary.  I feel that I have been
.         called to bring the good news to children
.         less fortunate than I.

ADRIANA   I hate to say, but you are not that fortunate.

BRICE     But I am.  I have found eternal life
.         through Jesus.  I feel like the richest man
.         in the world.
.                                                      37
ADRIANA   That sounds just like-

BRICE     A miracle?  It is.  But I do.  I do feel rich.
.         And God will provide.  Somehow He will provide.
.         Well, I should get back to the orphanage,
.         unless I want a good whipping.

ADRIANA   I cannot see how you can be so happy about that.

BRICE     Oh!  Come to church on Christmas Eve!

ADRIANA   You are going to get a whipping.

BRICE     I don’t care.  I want you to come to church.

ADRIANA   You would risk getting a beating to make sure
.         that I attend church?

BRICE     Yes!  Christmas Eve – we are presenting a play.

ADRIANA   Oh, well, a play.  I suppose that would
.         not be too intolerable.

BRICE     Then you’ll be there?

ADRIANA   Yes.  Now please, go – hurry.  I do not
.         want to be the cause of your suffering?

(CAROLERS sing as BRICE rushes off, and ADRIANA looks
through the wares of a STREET MERCHANT.)

SONG 15:  “I SAW THREE SHIPS”

CAROLERS  ”I saw three ships come sailing in,
.         On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
.         I saw three ships come sailing in,
.         On Christmas day in the morning.”

(Carrying a basket, MARCUS and LILY enter stage right.
MARCUS is dragging sadly behind.)

MARCUS    You just wanted to drag me from the house.

LILY      I am growing old and feeble and require
.         your strength.  I need to buy-
.         (sees STREET MERCHANT selling chestnuts)
.         Chestnuts!  If we want a real Christmas,
.         we need chestnuts.

MARCUS    Chestnuts are not so heavy.  And Christmas
.         will already not be the same without
.         the children, and I regret to say that things
.         are not quite as joyous as they once were.

LILY      (puts chestnuts into basket which MARCUS holds)
.         Because things are not going as you wish?
.         God will bless the faithful through their
.         suffering.

MARCUS    Sounds like a lesson I once would have given.

(LILY sees ELIZABETH and MRS. WALTERS enter at stage left
also with shopping baskets.  MARCUS’ back is to them.)

LILY      Then you need to be your own student.
.         Marcus, you need to get on with your life.
.         Perhaps find a suitable young lady to-
.         Oh look! – there is Miss Elizabeth.

(MARCUS looks back in time to see ADRIANA approach
ELIZABETH with purpose.)

MARCUS    And Adriana!  What is she up to now?

LILY      Oh! Well, give them a moment. I doubt Elizabeth
.         requires your aid.  She is a feisty one,
.         you realize.  Stronger than you think.

(ADRIANA struts up to ELIZABETH with purpose.)

ADRIANA   Why, if it isn’t Miss Piety.

ELIZ      (hurt)  Why do you say this?

ADRIANA   Come now, us women only want a life of comfort,
.         which requires wealth.  My brother, Marcus,
.         has been living in misery and confusion, so
.         I question that your desire is for my brother.

ELIZ      You dare to speak to me of my desires?
.         You think so little of me and presume that
.         I want so much?  You sound just like Marcus.

ADRIANA   That is because my brother and I are very
.         much alike.

ELIZ      You and I - are very much alike.
.         We are both strong-willed-

ADRIANA   Ah, well, that is where the similarities end.

ELIZ      I disagree.  I believe deep down, YOU really
.         just want to feel loved and accepted for
.         who you are.  And THAT would take precedence
.         over anything like wealth or jewels.

(LILY now pushes MARCUS towards the ladies.)

LILY      Now you should go.  (grabs the basket)
.         Oh, these are not as heavy as I thought.

MARCUS    (approaching ELIZ)  Lessons to be learned.

ELIZ      Pardon me?

MARCUS    No please, pardon me, and my thick-headedness.
.         for presuming to know what you really wanted.

ELIZ      Oh, well, then you must pardon my boldness
.         of the other day.  It was very unladylike.

MARCUS    Oh.  But, ah, your father, I am, wondering,
.         and ah, well, if you-

ELIZ      Why, Marcus Stealthbury, are YOU tongue-tied?

MARCUS    (sighs)  Your father has already
.         approached me...  aaaand...

ELIZ      Will you cause me to be bold yet again?

(LILY makes big arm motions to get on with it.
ADRIANA walks by MARCUS and comments aside.)

ADRIANA   Take her father’s words to heart.  I now
.         believe that his words were rather sincere.

(MARCUS gently moves ADRIANA out of the way to continue.)

MARCUS    (to ELIZ)  Your father has already given me
.         his blessing and approval in approaching you
.         for your hand in marriage.  But Elizabeth,
.         I must caution you, I have nothing to offer.

ELIZ      You have God in your life.
.         You have His love and strength and riches,
.         and the strong foundation of His holy words.
.         THAT – is everything.

MARCUS    (gasps, then sighs)  May I begin again.     40
.         Elizabeth, might I ask you for your hand
.         in marriage, not just for the sole reason
.         to adopt the children, but-

ELIZ      Yes!  You may certainly have my hand
.         in marriage.  And we should not wait too long.
.         Those poor children!

MARCUS    Are you saying yes for me, or the children?

ELIZ      Why, both!  I love you all - okay?

MRS. W    (rushing over)  Elizabeth, are you sure?
.         You must take into consideration that
.         you will be leaving the comforts-

ELIZ      Mother, would it surprise you to know
.         that I care not so much for comfort?
.         If our Lord and Savior can come from heaven
.         and live the life of a carpenter,
.         I am sure I can manage as a gentry.

LILY      With God’s strength, all things are possible.

MRS. W    (to LILY)  You think it will come to that?

(Both MRS. WALTERS and LILY break into tears and hug
each other.  ADRIANA chokes hers back.)

ADRIANA   I believe that was one of the longest,
.         and most painful of proposals.

ELIZ      I suppose it makes up for the brief courtship
.         and engagement.

ADRIANA   (laughing)  I do say, you will make
.         a tolerable sister-in-law.  Ah, I have a sister!

(MARCUS shyly but purposefully takes ELIZABETH’s hand
to hold, while ADRIANA suddenly links arms with ELIZABETH
on her other side.  ALL happily rush off stage together.)

.                 CENTER STAGE - CHURCH

(CAROLERS sing as the choir, while CHILDREN put on play.
A few children come out as “SHEPHERDS” from center stage
and stand waiting for the end of the first verse.)

SONG 16:   “THE FIRST NOEL”
.                                                      41
CAROLERS   (vs.1) "The first Noel the angels did say
.          Was to certain poor shepherds
.                                 in fields as they lay;
.          In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,
.          On a cold winter's night that was so deep:
.          (chorus)  Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
.          Born is the King of Israel."

(CAROLERS hum a verse while “SHEPHERDS” speak.)

SHEPHRD 1  This great news was given to US,
.          poor shepherds, who have nothing.

SHEPHRD 2  Somehow, I think it matters not.

SHEPHRD 3  Come, we must go see this King
.          and worship Him.

(As CAROLERS sing, “MARY”, holding “baby”, and JOSEPH”
enter stage left.  “SHEPHERDS” cross over and bow down.)

CAROLERS  (vs.2)  "They lookèd up and saw a star,
.         Shining in the east, beyond them far:
.         And to the earth it gave great light,
.         And so it continued both day and night."

(“MAGI”, carrying gifts, enter stage right and wait
for the end of the next verse.)

CAROLERS  (vs.3)  "And by the light of that same star,
.         There were Wise Men who came from country far;
.         To seek for a King was their intent,
.         And to follow the star wherever it went."

(CAROLERS hum a verse while “MAGI” speak.)

MAGI 1    We only have gold, frankincense and myrrh
.         to offer the King of kings.

MAGI 2    Somehow, I think it matters not.

MAGI 3    Come, we must go see this King of kings
.         and worship Him.

CAROLERS  (vs.4)"This star drew nigh to the north-west;
.         O'er Bethlehem it took its rest;
.         And there it did both stop and stay
.         Right over the place where Jesus lay"

(MAGI 1 points to star, then “MAGI” cross the stage   42
to “MARY” and “JOSEPH” and bow before the “baby”
while laying their gifts on the ground.)

CAROLERS  (vs.5)"Then entered in those Wise Men to see,
.         Fell reverently upon their knee,
.         And offered there in His presence,
.         Their gold and myrrh and frankincense:"

(As CAROLERS sing, “ANGELS” enter stage from all around
and surround the nativity scene holding their arms out.)

CAROLERS  (vs.6)  "Then let us all with one accord
.         Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
.         That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
.         And with His blood mankind hath bought."

(CHILDREN hold their poses while REVEREND stands
down center stage to deliver his message.)

REV       This beautiful scene is here to remind us
.         that it does not matter whether we are
.         rich or poor, God sent His only Son, Jesus,
.         down from His heavenly throne, to suffer
.         and die for each and every one of us.
.         Whether rich or poor, young or old,
.         God wants to have a personal relationship
.         with us.  God wants us to be His children
.         and live with Him forever in Paradise.

(CAROLERS and CHILDREN sing.)

SONG 17:  “O THOU JOYFUL, O THOU WONDERFUL”

CAROLERS  (vs.1)  "O thou joyful,
.         O thou wonderful
.         Grace revealing Christmastide!
.         Jesus came to win us
.         From all sin within us;
.         Glorify the holy Child!
.         (vs.3)  O thou joyful,
.         O thou wonderful
.         Peace revealing Christmastide!
.         Darkness disappeareth
.         God’s own light now neareth:
.         Peace and joy to all betide!"

(CHURCH PEOPLE enter from both sides to fellowship
with CAROLERS.  MARCUS, ELIZABETH, and LILY rush up
to the CHILDREN.)
.                                                  43
MARCUS    Children, gather around.  Great news!

CHILD 1   We know!  Jesus came to save us!

MARCUS    MORE great news.
.         Not quite as good as that, but -
.         Elizabeth and I were married yesterday.

(KIDS cheer happily, not quite understanding.)

MARCUS    And what’s more,
.         we are going to have children-
.         starting today.

BRICE     Ah, I believe that is impossible.

ELIZ      With God, all things are possible.

LILY      A Christmas miracle.

MARCUS    Yes!  Now, ah, I had saved up some money
.         to buy Christmas presents for all of you,
.         but, well, instead, I needed to use that money
.         to purchase all of your adoption papers.
.         You are all coming home with us –
.         as our children.

BRICE     Tonight?

ELIZ      Yes.  Isn’t it wonderful?

CHILD 1   This is the best Christmas present
.         anyone could ever want.

ELIZ      This calls for a Christmas celebration.
.         (noticing that IAN has observed the hubbub)
.         Ian, you are invited also.

(IAN nods his thanks and invitation acceptance.)

MARCUS    (to BRICE)  I know you are almost old enough
.         to be on your own, but I have papers
.         for you too... son.

BRICE     (to MARCUS)  Okay... Dad.

(ADRIANA quietly walks up.)

BRICE     Adriana, you came.
.                                                      44
ADRIANA   (sullenly with a slight roll of her eyes)
.         What is more, I am now a believer.

IAN       What?

ADRIANA   (sheepishly)  Yes.  It happened.

MARCUS    What are saying?

ADRIANA   Yes!  I do not want to hear the brotherly,
.         “I told you so.”  But - it is SO.
.         I wanted joy and acceptance, thinking it could
.         only come from a man, and wealth.  But God
.         gave the ultimate gift by sending His Son
.         to earth to die for us?  How can anything
.         compare to that?  How can I ignore that?

MARCUS    Well, this is indeed the grandest of
.         all celebrations.

(MR. and MRS. WALTERS enter with arms loaded with gifts.)

MR. W     Merry Christmas, all!

MARCUS    What is all this?

MRS. W    Why, are we not grandparents now?

ELIZ      (laughing)  I would say so!

MARCUS    Come everyone, to our house!

(ADRIANA passes by IAN and suddenly lunges at him.  IAN
shrinks back.  ADRIANA laughs then looks coyly at him.)

ADRIANA  I would not be opposed to you escorting me home.

(MARCUS nudges IAN toward ADRIANA.)

MARCUS    That means she now rather likes you.

IAN       Most - reassuring.

(ADRIANA stares at IAN playfully.  
IAN stares back, then quickly sticks out his elbow
for her to take.  Laughing, ADRIANA takes his arm
and they walk out while CAROLERS sing.
ALL exit, except for the CAROLERS.)

SONG 18:  “GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE”             43

CAROLERS  (vs.1)  "Good Christian men, rejoice
.         With heart, and soul, and voice;
.         Give ye heed to what we say:
.         News! News! Jesus Christ is born today!
.         Ox and ass before Him bow,
.         And He is in the manger now;
.         Christ is born today!
.         Christ is born today!

.         (vs.2)  "Good Christian men, rejoice
.         With heart, and soul, and voice;
.         Now ye hear of endless bliss:
.         Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
.         He hath opened heaven’s door,
.         And man is blessed ever more;
.         Christ was born for this!
.         Christ was born for this!

.         (vs.3) "Good Christian men, rejoice
.         With heart, and soul, and voice;
.         Now ye need not fear the grave:
.         Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
.         Calls you one and calls you all,
.         To gain His everlasting hall;
.         Christ was born to save!
.         Christ was born to save!"