Monday, December 13, 2010


Cinderella.  1974.  The Children's Theatre Company and School of Minneapolis, MN. 
Matthew Brassil (center) as Prince Eric, holding the glass slipper.

Originally presented by The Children's Theatre Company of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1966, Cinderella, adapted for the stage by John B. Davidson, became the treasured cornerstone of CTC's continuing holiday repertoire.  Stylistically influenced by the traditional English holiday pantomime, the role of the Stepmother (Rose Olson Cramp) was played by the lead actor of the acting company (Bain Boehlke for the first six productions in 1966, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1980 and 1983; with Gerald Drake carrying on the tradition in multiple productions thereafter).  Also a constant was Wendy Lehr's unforgettable performance in the role of one of the two stepsisters, "Pearl Cramp."  Karlis Ozols, too, appeared in numerous productions as the Lord Chamberlain.  The role of Dorcas Cramp shifted from year to year, as did the young actress playing the title role, the young actor playing Prince Eric, and the role of the Fairy Godmother.
Musical olios between scenes were performed by a live orchestra and cast members, dressed in Victorian garb, singing traditional Christmas carols including "The First Noel," "What Child is This?" "Fum, Fum, Fum" and so forth, including Davidson's original lyric to the traditional "Christmas Is a'Comin'." (see below.)  Virtually every resident composer and/or music director in the Theatre's history adapted and/or scored a section or two of the play over the years.
Dance was also included in the play, not only in the ball scene, but also a ballet interlude during Cinderella's wintry garden transformation from rags to ball finery and, again, prior to Cinderella's presentation to the court as the Prince's new bride.

The original scenic design was by John Clark Donahue, redesigned in 1969 by Jack Barkla, then designed for the "new theatre" in 1974 by Edward Haynes with costumes by Gene Davis Buck.

1974.  Bain Boehlke, Lynn Rubel, Sara Schimke, Wendy Lehr

1985.  Julie Briskman, Gerald Drake, Wendy Lehr

1976: Wendy Lehr as Pearl, Bain Boehlke as Rose Olson Cramp, Julie Williams as Dorcas,
Thomas Olson as Prince Eric.

1976.  Christmas Is a'Comin'

1980.  Julee Cruise, Bain Boehlke, Wendy Lehr

1969.  "What Child is This?"

1969.  Suzy Siftar as Cinderella.  Patrick McNellis as Prince Eric.

1969.  Barry Goldman and Patrick McNellis.

1969.  Suzy Siftar as Cinderella with Linda Walsh Jenkins as Fairy Godmother.

1976.  Sylvia Bolton and Myron Johnson.

Christmas Is a-Comin’

Christmas is a-comin’ and the goose is gettin’ fat
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat?
If you haven’t got a penny then a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!
God bless you, gentlemen, God bless you!
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

Christmas is a-comin’ and the bells are ringin’ out
Up and down the avenue you hear the people shout:
Here’s popcorn for your Christmas tree
And toffee you can chew
One a penny, two a penny, God bless you!
God bless you, gentlemen, God bless you!
One a penny, two a penny, God bless you!

Christmas is a-comin' and the snow is everywhere
Smells of figgy puddin' are a-hangin' in the air
Like to stand here chattin' but my nose is turnin' blue
Awful nice to see you, sir, and God bless you!
God bless you, gentlemen, God bless you!
Awful nice to see you, sir, and God bless you!

Christmas is a-comin’ and the candles are aglow
Making frosty patterns as they flicker on the snow
When the spirit beckons if you’ve nothin’ else to do
Raise your voice in harmony
Sing God bless you!
God bless you, gentlemen, God bless you!
Raise your voice in harmony
Sing God bless you.
God bless you!
God… bless… you!  YOU!

1983 documentation Video clip 1 of 3:

Video clip 2 of 3:

Video clip 3 of 3:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beatrix Potter's Christmas (1986)

For The Children's Theatre Company's 1986 holiday production, resident playwright Thomas W. Olson created an original fantasy based upon the life and works of English author-illustrator Beatrix Potter. A blend of late 19th-century melodrama and dance, the play is set in the third-floor children's nursery of the Potter home in London, England, on Christmas Eve 1880. Beatrix is a painfully shy, reclusive fourteen-year-old and, along with her younger brother Bertram and an angelic butler, they create for themselves a Christmas celebration by imagining their animal pets and friends celebrating the holiday.
The play was directed and choreographed by Myron Johnson.  Original incidental music was composed and pre-recorded orchestral music adapted by Anita Ruth under the direction of Alan Shorter.  Scenic and properties designs by Jack Barkla.  Costume design by Christopher Beesley.  Lighting design by Michael Murnane.  Sound design by Scott W. Edwards.  Stage Management by Loren Johnson.
The production joined CTC's continuing Christmas repertoire and was presented again in 1988 and 1992.

Illustration by Beatrix Potter.
Music Excerpts:

Fantasy 1: Mouse House...

Fantasy 2: Puddleducks Parlour...

Country Lane...

Fantasy 3: Kitten Kitchen...

Fantasy 4: Naughty Squirrels A...

Naughty Squirrels B...

Fantasy 5: Bunny Bedroom into Forest Clearing...


Original cast of characters (in order of appearance):
Beatrix Potter, Hilary Cooperman;
Jane Fowler, a maid, Lizanne Wilson;
Miss Mouse, Lynda Miller;
Mrs. Mouse, Meggan McGrath;
Mouse Maid, Zhauna Franks;
Mouse Butler, Manao DeMuth;
Mouse Cook, Mark A. Rudzitis;
Mr. Mouse, Tom Dunn;
Mouse Brother, Kristina Drake;
Mr. Mole, Susanne Anderson;
Bertram Potter, Aaron Kahn;
Mr. Cox, the butler, Gerald Drake;
Mrs. Puddle-Duck, Michael de Leon;
Mr. Puddle-Duck, Kevin Robert McCormick;
Mr. Badger, Zhauna Franks;
Mr. Fox, Mark A. Rudzitis;
Helen Leech Potter, Leslye Orr;
Rupert Potter, Carl Beck;
Mrs. Cat, Tom Dunn;
Mrs. Hedge-Hog, David Fenley;
Kitten Brother; Maryann Smith;
Kitten Sisters, Sarah Bowen, Katy O'Neil;
Squirrels, Mark A. Rudzitis, Maryann Smith;
Shy Bunny, Lynda Miller;
Uncle Rabbit, Carl Beck;
Bunny Brother, Sarah Bowen;
Bunny Sisters, Manao DeMuth, Lynda Miller, Katy O'Neil;
Bunny Cousin, Charity Jones;
Mrs. Rabbit, Meggan McGrath;
Otters, Nick Eugster, Willy Eugster;
Ball Mice, Robert Drake, Eric Haugee, Todd C. Johnson, Leslye Orr, Lizanne Wilson;
Ball Kittens, Jessica Daniel, Meredith Orr, Sara Pixley;
Carolers, David Fenley, Timothy Hendrickson, Todd C. Johnson, Bradley Nordstrand, Meredith Orr, James Peck, Sally J. Sundstrom, Rosalie Tenseth.

Violin, Mary Bahr; Cello, Camilla Heller;  Reeds, David Hawley; Bass, Bruce Calin; Keyboards, Anita Ruth;
Percussion, Alan Shorter

Design Note: Although none of the animal characters in the young Beatrix's fantasies are referred to by name in the text of the play, they were regarded visually as the prototypes for the stories and illustrations which would be created and published later in Miss Potter's adult life.  In regards to the settings, elements from Beatrix's nursery were also transposed into the animal fantasies, e.g. her nursery wallpaper appears in the "Mouse Parlour," her stove in the "Cat Kitchen," her closet the wardrobe in the "Bunny Bedroom," etc.

Video Clip 1:

Video Clip 2:

Script Excerpt: 

Act II, Scene iii.

(Scrim rises to reveal a clearing in the forest: an ice-covered country pond where stands a large evergreen tree decorated in natural ornaments and enormous candles.  There are log tables also, laden with refreshments and gifts.  Animals greet one another warmly and dance together.  Squirrels ice skate.  Much gentle merriment.  The Animals' dance is gently interrupted by a summons toward the tree.  It is time to place the star upon its crown and light the candles.  While the Animals reverently gather, Cox, who had left the nursery a while earlier, returns with the valise which holds the duck.)

COX.  Children?  Miss Beatrix, Master Bertram: see who's here come back to join us.
BERTRAM.  Mrs. Puddle-Duck!  Welcome home!  Happy Christmas!
COX.  Yes, "Happy Christmas" indeed!  And with wing on the mend, I expect the old girl ought to be fit as a fiddle and flying by "Happy New Year."
BEATRIX.  Thank you, Mr. Cox.  Thank you so very much.
COX.  My pleasure, Miss Beatrix.
BEATRIX.  In a way, I, too, feel as though a wing were mended.
COX.  A good feeling, I trust.
BEATRIX.  Oh, yes -- such as I've never felt before.  But I'll never fly.
COX.  In body, unlikely.  But in spirit...? (An encouraging smile.)  But now, children -- the tree.  It's nearly midnight.  (Seeing the trimmed tree.)  There, you see?  Although you've never before trimmed a Christmas tree, still you knew -- in your hearts -- precisely what was needed.  Miss Beatrix?  Finished with that star, are you?
(As Cox gestures for Beatrix to step forward, Animals turn to the shy Bunny Sister and coax her to come forth with her ornament.  Bertram begins to light the candles.)
BEATRIX. (Holding her paper star.)  I am.  But now, at the sight of all the candles, at such a lovely tree... I fear my star is far too plain.
COX.  Wrought by your own hand... rendered with love... oh, Miss Beatrix, who could think it anything but wonderful?
BERTRAM.  Come, Bea.  It's time.
(Beatrix steps forward, as does also the Shy Bunny, who hops up a "stairway" made of large Christmas parcels.  Simultaneously, they crown the trees with their stars.  Music swells, chimes ring midnight as Bunny's star sputters and glows -- miraculously transformed.  The night sky twinkles brightly with hundreds of stars.  Animals leap for joy and applaud, embracing the Shy Bunny as Cox and Bertram likewise embrace and congratulate Beatrix.  From out of the chimes, music resumes -- a sprightly dance into which the Animals enter with gusto.  During the Animals' dance, Beatrix, Bertram, and Cox assemble all the pets in their various home-made habitats, around the nursery tree.  When the music alters sweet and gentle again, Animals relax into more lyrical, subdued movement as Beatrix holds her pet mouse close to her bosom.)
BEATRIX.  I was told today I was too old to believe in legends and fairy tales; too old to believe that these creatures could know of Christmas.  But look.  See how they gaze at the tree as we do?  And I can feel this little mouse's heart racing, pounding with the same joy as mine in the wonder of Christmas.  I've never felt this way before, except in my dreams.  Or when I'm drawing: making believe these creatures wear clothes and have thoughts and feelings and hopes like me.
COX.  Keep feeling.  Keep dreaming.  Oh, please, Miss Beatrix -- keep making-believe.
BEATRIX.  (As COX gently takes the mouse from her hands.)  But is it real?
BERTRAM.  Oh, what does it matter, Bea?!
COX.  Some think the miracle of Christmas itself isn't real.
BERTRAM.  Yet millions believe.
COX.  (Rushing from the nursery into the fantasy Animal world.)  I believe!
BERTRAM.  (Following COX.)  And I believe!
BEATRIX.  I want to...
BERTRAM & COX.  (Stretching forth their arms, beckoning.)  Please, Beatrix.  Make believe.
(Animals also gesture for Beatrix to join them.)
BEATRIX.  I will.  I do.  I believe!

(Music rings forth as Beatrix runs down the stairs into her fantasy where Bertram and Cox await.  Animals rush up to welcome her and pay their respects to Beatrix as a dance ensues around the giant Christmas tree, human and animal hand-in-hand as the snow falls and stars blaze in the sky.  Beatrix hugs each of the animals she will one day bring to storybook life, then hugs Cox and her brother Bertram.  She grins and laughs in wonder and joy as music crescendos and lights slowly fade to Blackout.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mister Pickwick's Christmas

Illustration for Mr. Pickwick's Christmas by Steven Rydberg.

Presented for the holidays in the Children's Theatre Company and School's 1982-83 season, a new play based on chapters from Charles Dickens' novel "The Pickwick Papers" was adapted for the stage by resident playwright Thomas W. Olson (with special assistance by George Muschamp).  Original music was composed and orchestrated by Hiram Titus.  The play was produced and directed by John Clark Donahue.  Assistant Director: David Samuelson.  Scenic design by Jack Barkla.  Costume design by Jared Aswegan.  Lighting Design by Michael Vennerstrom.  Sound design by Robert Jorissen.  Orchestra conducted by Richard Dworsky.  Stage Management by Mary K. Winchell.

An ambitious production with a large cast numbering nearly 50 (at the time, the resident acting staff numbered 13, with an additional four acting apprentices and performing interns numbering 12).  Also noteworthy is the fact that, simultaneously, CTC was remounting and presenting a full-scale production of its 1981 production of Tomie dePaola's The Clown of God at the O'Shaughnessey Auditorium at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, also with a cast of nearly 40 and live orchestra. 

Cast of Characters
Samuel Pickwick: George Muschamp; Augustus Snodgrass: Stephen Boe; Tracy Tupman: Tom Dunn; Nathaniel Winkle: Carl Beck; Sam Weller: Jason McLean; Mr. Wardle: Oliver Osterberg; Widow Wardle: Wendy Lehr; Emily Wardle: Julee Cruise; Isabel Wardle: Michelle Ratzlaff; Arabella Allen: Sally Ramirez; Mr. Trundle: Richard Long; Joe, the Fat Boy: Micha Rice; Emma: Laura Stearns; Narrator/Bob Sawyer: James Detmar; Benjamin Allen: Gary Costello; Coachman: Michael Abel; Coach Guard: Matthew Dudley; Vicar: Karlis Ozols; Vicar's Wife: Leslye Orr; Gabriel Grub: Ernie Sandidge.
Eligible Young Ladies: Susan Archer, Molly Delaney, Amy Harsha, Mari O'Grady, Jeanne Weiland.
Eligible Young Men: Matthew Dudley, Charles Hawkins, Dean Newlund, Doug Perry.
Older Boys: Jim Dayton, Ernie Sandidge, Sean Schur.
Poor Relations: Leslie Curtin, Alyce Dahl, Vaughn Koenig, Kim Langseth, Thomas Olson, Robert Pryor, David Samuelson.
Servants: Michael Abel, Andre Carrington, Greta Cunningham, Travis Fine, Marta Hartman, Katy Lukerman, Nate Peterson, Tom Savoie, Ron Spiess, Danielle Smith, Michael Zimmerman.

Production Staff
Stage Manager, Mary K. Winchell; Assistant Stage Manager, S. Dean Hawthorne; Production Assistants: Ellen Harvey, Vaughn Koenig.  Wigs: Victor; Master Electrician: David Allen Karlson; Stage Technician: Keith De Freese; Sound Technician: Stephen Adamczak; Changeover Chief: Michael Cottom; Light Board Operator: Barry Browning; Sound Board Operators: Steven Dargis, Tony Hanson, Jeff Marchutt; Music Director: Thomas F. Florey; Vocal Coach: Leslye Orr; Lighting Technicians: Alex Heyneman, Lisa Johnson, Jay R. Ruble.  Crew: Rebecca Birney, Geoff Boehm, Christy Carroll, Jim Dayton, Travis Fine, Mari O'Grady, Heath Weiker.

Conductor: Richard Dworsky; Recorder/Flute: David Livingston; Clarinet: Colleen Richert (Alternate: Bryan Krys); Horn: Jerry Abraham; Violin: Gary Schulte; Cello: David Halvorson; Piano/Synthesizer: Steve Ryan; Percussion: Bruce Wintervold.

Sequence of Scenes

Prologue        Mister Pickwick’s Bedchamber (City)
Scene 1         Coach Station; Coach Interior
Scene 2         Outside the Blue Lion Inn
Scene 3         A Country Stile
Scene 4         Manor Farm Parlour
Scene 5         Manor Farm Parlour; Pickwick’s Bedchamber (Farm)
Scene 6         Hallway; Chapel
Scene 7         Dining Hall
Scenes 8 & 9    Ballroom
Scenes 10 & 11  Kitchen
Scene 12        Ice Pond
Epilogue        Mister Pickwick’s Bedchamber (City)

The setting is London and Dingley Dell, Kent, England
The time is December 21-25, 1827.   



(Preset: PICKWICK’s fourposter bed and dais is dimly lighted center stage, framed by a large holiday wreath. The proscenium: snow-covered tree limbs lashed together with leather cord in a diamond pattern, with glowing candles within each diamond and the corners sporting two large wreaths also, with glowing lanterns in their centers.   Houselights and preset fade to Blackout.

(Soft morning light rises on PICKWICK in his bed; SAM, his manservant, stands beside the bed, holding a number of parcels in his arms.)

SAM.  Pickvick? Mr. Pickvick!
(PICKWICK begins to stir.)
Mr. Pickvick, sir, rise and shine!
PICKWICK.  What?  What!
(PICKWICK sits up and reaches for his spectacles.)
Sam? Is that you, Sam?
SAM.  Me, Mr. Pickvick. Rise and shine, so the innkeeper used to say to me ven I made me livin’ a-polishin’ boots.  Rise and shine!
(SAM chuckles at his own wit.  PICKWICK smiles politely.)
PICKWICK.  (Regarding the parcels SAM still holds.)  What’s all this now?
SAM.  (Dumping the parcels at the foot of the bed.)  Christmas things, sir.  Been out already, I ‘ave.  Your ‘ole list near done vile you sleeps in.  Our wisit to the country, sir – remember?
PICKWICK.  Of course! (A sudden thought.)  Oh, but great goodness, Sam, we leave tomorrow morning and I’ve not yet written to my associates.
SAM.  (Handing PICKWICK a writing desk and implements.)  Vell, ‘ere be your pen and your paper, sir.  If you’re qvick about it, I can deliver the messages meself vile you takes your breakfast.
PICKWICK.  Capital idea, Sam!  Thank you, Sam.
SAM.  (Touching his forehead as if tipping his hat.)
Vot I’m here for, sir. 
(SAM collects the parcels and exits as PICKWICK prepares to write.  NARRATOR appears downstage in pool of light.)
NARRATOR.  And so – from his comfortable quarters at The George and Vulture Tavern and Hotel – a call to the Corresponding Society of The Pickwick Club was issued forth, by none other than the General Chairman himself: the immortal…
PICKWICK.  (Addressing an envelope.)  Samuel Pickwick, Esquire.
NARRATOR.  …whose collected letter, accounts, and observations are now presented for the advancement of knowledge, the diffusion of learning, and – we pray – the pleasure and amusement of all here assembled.
PICKWICK.  First – to Augustus Snodgass, Esquire.
(Pool of light DSL reveals SNODGRASS posed within a springtime setting.)
NARRATOR.  The poet.
PICKWICK (Writing.) Christmas, Snodgrass!  Christmas so soon upon us!  Our jolly quartet meets at dawn tomorrow.  Our destination?  Dingley Dell. 
(To himself, a chuckle.) 
Yes – I always like to think of Snodgrass there in the springtime…
SNODGRASS.  (Composing a poem, a notebook in hand.)
Ah, Dingley Dell!  Ah, happy place!
Sweet April breeze upon my face.
What poems, such songs I’d author freely
If but I dwelt in the Dell . . . Dingley?
(SNODGRASS isn’t too certain if the rhyme is quite correct.  A shrug as lights quickly fade on him.)
PICKWICK.  How… nice, Snodgrass.  May the winter scene be every bit as inspirational.  (A new sheet of paper.)  Second: to Tracy Tupman, Esquire.
(Lights DSR reveal TUPMAN posed amorously beside a MAIDEN of advanced years within a country garden bower.)
NARRATOR.  The lover.
PICKWICK.  (Writing.)  Christmas has at last come round, Tupman!  Now dear Mister Wardle bids us all join him again at Manor Farm to celebrate the holiday – and a wedding, too.  His daughter, Isabel.  Recollect her?  She was there on our summer visit…
TUPMAN.  (Inhaling deeply.)  Ah, yes!  Summer in the country!  The innocent blush of a maiden under a blossom bower.  The soft, rhythmic murmur of two hearts beating as one…
PICKWICK.  We’ll be taking the morning coach.  Tupman?  Tupman…!
(Lights fade on bower as TUPMAN buries his face in the MAIDEN’s neck.  PICKWICK sighs and seals the envelope.  A new sheet of paper.)
And last – to Nathaniel Winkle, Esquire.
(Lights DSL reveal WINKLE in an autumn setting, posed quite awkwardly with a rifle.)
NARRATOR.  The sportsman.
PICKWICK.  (Writing.)  A full four days in the country, Winkle!  (A chuckle.  WINKLE is turning the rifle every which way, trying to figure it out.) 
I know how fond you are of Dingley Dell, but then any sportsman of your ilk would simply have to be.  I often picture you as you were: firearm in hand, out on the hunt for wild partridge…
(WINKLE has casually tossed the rifle over his shoulder as TUPMAN innocently enters the pool of light and the rifle fires, shooting TUPMAN in the arm.  TUPMAN grasps his wound in pain and exits howling.)
Pity old Tupman had to get in the way and spoil it all.
WINKLE.  (Sheepish.)  Yes… pity.
(He drops his rifle from his shoulder and it fires again, nearly hitting his own foot.  Blackout.  Shift.  Music rises.)

Scene One.

(Lights rise DSR to reveal coach yard and coach.  TOWNSPEOPLE, SERVANTS, STABLEBOYS are loading barrels, portmanteaus, etc.)

NARRATOR.  As brisk as bees, if not altogether as light as fairies, did the four Pickwickians prepare to assemble on the twenty-second day of December.  Christmas was close at hand in all his bluff and hearty honesty; it was the season of hospitality, merriment, and open-heartedness.  The old year…
(PICKWICK appears and trots DSC to supervise stowage of oyster barrels.)
…like dear Mister Pickwick, was preparing to call his friends around him so that amidst the sound of feasting and revelry he might pass gently and calmly away.  Gay and merry was the time; and right gay and merry were at least one…
(SNODGRASS, TUPMAN, and WINKLE join PICKWICK and pose.  ALL freeze in a tableau.)
…two, three, four of the numerous hearts that were gladdened by the holiday’s coming.  And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief season of happiness and enjoyment.
(In their turn, individuals step out of the tableau and assemble around NARRATOR.)
WOMAN (MARTHA).  How many families whose members have been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are then reunited…
YOUNG MAN (COACH GUARD).  …and meet once again in that happy state of companionship and good-will…
MAN (TRUNDLE).  …a source of such pure and unalloyed delight…
YOUNG WOMAN (LIZZIE).  …and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of the world…
OLDER MAN (VICAR).  …that the religious belief of the most civilized nations…
YOUNG MAN (BEN ALLEN).  …and the rude traditions of the roughest savages alike…
MAN (TRUNDLE).  …number Christmas among the first joys of a future state of existence provided for the blest and happy!
NARRATOR.  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  How many old recollections and how many dormant sympathies does Christmastime awaken!  (Noticing the coach tableau.) 
Oh, but we are so taken up with the good qualities of Christmas that we are keeping Mister Pickwick and his friends waiting in the cold, outside the Muggleton coach.
(NARRATOR and TOWNSPEOPLE exit, leaving only PICKWICKIANS, STABLEBOYS, SERVANTS, and COACH GUARD who resume their activity stowing luggage.)
PICKWICK. (As oyster barrels are hoisted up onto the coach.)  Easy, there – easy!  Good.  (To TUPMAN, SNODGRASS, and WINKLE.)  Six barrels.  Real native oysters.  Can’t be Christmas without oysters, eh?
TUPMAN, SNODGRASS, WINKLE. (In unison.) Nooooo, Mister Pickwick.
COACH GUARD.  (Climbing down from coach, weary.)  That’s it, then, sir?
PICKWICK.  Oh, no.  No, no.  One last thing.  Codfish.
PICKWICK.  (A call.)  Sam!  Sam Weller!
SAM.  (Appearing with an enormous brown basket.)  ‘ere, Mister Picvick!
PICKWICK.  (With great pride.)  Codfish!
(SAM displays a huge codfish snuggled in straw within the basket.)
TUPMAN, SNODGRASS, WINKLE.  (Admiring.)  Oooooh, Mister Pickwick.
(COACH GUARD just stares at the enormous basket of fish, speechless.)
SAM.  (To COACH GUARD.)  Shall ve get on vith it?
COACH GUARD.  (Grumbling to himself, trying to gain hold of basket.)  But…an’t near ‘nough room… all them oysters ‘n’ now ‘ere’s a codfish what thinks it’s a whale… ought to pay a fare ‘n’ take a seat, it ought…
(A pantomime wherein SAM and COACH GUARD attempt to squeeze the fish basket in the rear of coach, to the great curiosity and amusement of ONLOOKERS.  Finally COACH GUARD, losing patience, gives a great push and basket disappears, followed by COACH GUARD, headfirst, with only his feet sticking out of the coach.  ONLOOKERS laugh.  Cheers as SAM pulls COACH GUARD back out and onto the ground.)
COACH GUARD (Face red with embarrassment.)  Now then, gen’l’m’n – coach is ready, if you please!
(TUPMAN, WINKLE, and SNODGRASS disappear into coach as PICKWICK, smiling with great good humor, offers COACH GUARD a coin.)
PICKWICK.  Here, my good man.  A shilling for your trouble.
COACH GUARD. (Broad smile.) Thank you, sir!
(COACHMAN passes by as PICKWICK climbs into coach.)
COACH GUARD.  Yes, sir!
SAM.  (Offering COACH GUARD a pull from his flask.) A drop o’ cheer for the road?:
COACH GUARD.  (Accepts gratefully.) Thank you, sir, and Merry Christmas!
SAM.  Christmas in the country; it oughter be.  Never been, but lookin’ for’ard to it, I am.
COACHMAN. (Unseen, a call.)  Guard!  All ready, outside and in?
COACH GUARD.  (Returning SAM’s flask and calling in response.)  All ready, sir!
COACHMAN.  All right!
(A crack of a whip and the coach lurches.  COACH GUARD and an almost-left-behind SAM hop up onto the rear and the coach departs to the sound of the GUARD’s bugle, calls from ONLOOKERS, and PASSENGERS.  Lights fade on coachyard and rise on isolated pool at proscenium.)
NARRATOR.  The Muggleton Telegraph, bound for Kent, rumbled through the London streets and jolted over stones, till at length it reached the wide and open country.  The wheels skimmed over the hard, frosty ground; and the horses burst into a gallop with another smart crack of the coachman’s whip, as if the load behind them were but a feather at their heels…
(Music continues as pool of light reveals cut-away interior view of coach with top.  SNODGRASS and FIVE PASSENGERS are inside; TUPMAN, WINKLE, PICKWICK, SAM, COACH GUARD, and COACHMAN are above.  The coach rocks and bounces to the accompaniment of music and sound of hooves, horses’ snort and whinnies, whip cracks, spinning wheels, COACH GUARD’s bugle.  After a while, music and sound start to fade and we hear dialogue – shouted above the wind and hoofbeats.)
PICKWICK.  (Waving down to an unseen pedestrian.)  Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!
COACHMAN. (Announcing.)  Comin’ up on Bromley!
TUPMAN.  (Peering out from his coat collar.)  What did he say?
PICKWICK.  A town, Tupman.
WINKLE.  Dingley Dell?
PICKWICK.  No, Winkle – Bromley!
WINKLE & TUPMAN (Disappointed.)  Ohhhhhh.
PICKWICK. (To COACHMAN.)  Not much traffic for a town.
COACHMAN.  Should ha’ seen it yesterday.  Market day yesterday.
PICKWICK.  Snodgrass!  Snodgrass!
SNODGRASS.  (Pulling down window and looking up at PICKWICK.)  Yes?
PICKWICK.  Market day was yesterday!
SNODGRASS.  Fascinating!
SNODGRASS.  Fascinating, Mister Pickwick!
PICKWICK.  Yes!  Isn’t it!
COACHMAN.  Sharp turn, comin’ up!
WINKLE.  (Leaning forward to COACHMAN.)  What’s that?  (WINKLE is nearly tossed off the coach as PASSENGERS lean at the coach’s curving.)  Wooooooo!
PICKWICK.  Good God, Winkle!  Sit down or you’ll be killed!
WINKLE.  Killed?  Me?  No – bit of sport is all.  “Coach acrobatics.”  Used to compete in tournaments.
PICKWICK.  Coach acrobatics?  Never heard of such a thing.  Must tell Mister Wardle about it.  He doesn’t think we have any sport at all in the city.
(Music rises as lights fade on coach and rise again on NARRATOR.)
NARRATOR.  Merrily they dash along the open road, with the fresh, clean air blowing in their faces and gladdening the very hearts within them.  Such was the progress of Mister Pickwick and his friends on their way to Dingley Dell, until later that afternoon they all stood, high and dry, safe and sound, hale and hearty, outside the country Inn of The Blue Lion…

Scene Two.

(Late afternoon.  The rear of coach at one side of stage, exterior of Inn downstage.  A large, two-wheeled horsecart at opposite side of stage.  Various PASSENGERS are met, greeted, and ushered off as PICKWICK and SAM are busy unloading baggage from coach with assistance of COACH GUARD.  TUPMAN, WINKLE, and SNODGRASS stand apart from others.)

TUPMAN.  (Shivering.)  A drop to keep away the cold, Winkle?
(TUPMAN offers a flask to WINKLE, who declines.)
WINKLE.  (Already a bit tipsy.)  Thank you, but I’ve had quite enough for the time being.  Is it cold?  Don’t seem to feel a thing.
SNODGRASS.  (Inhaling deeply, then a sigh of satisfaction.)  Ah, yes – winter in the country!  Grey – no! – slate-colored sky.  And the frost which binds the slumb’ring earth in iron fetters, weaving its intricate shroud – lace-like – upon the naked trees and forlorn hedges.
(WINKLE and TUPMAN stare a moment in slack-jawed astonishment at SNODGRASS, then WINKLE grabs TUPMAN’s flask after all.)
TUPMAN.  Mister Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  Just a moment, Tupman.  (Finishing inventory.)  Four, five, and that, Sam, makes six!  (PICKWICK shakes hands with SAM, then turns toward PICKWICKIANS.)  Now then, my friends, what shall we do now?
TUPMAN.  Our question precisely, Mister Pickwick.  What shall we do?
PICKWICK.  Well now, I’m certain old Wardle would make some arrangements for us to be met.  (An idea.)  I have it!  Pickwickians, we will investigate this “Inn of The Blue Lion.”  (Nods of agreement and they head toward inn.  JOE – as round a young man as there ever was – appears and waddles up to PICKWICK, pulling at his coat-tail.)
(PICKWICK turns and is happily surprised at the sight of JOE.)
JOE.  Aha!
PICKWICK.  Look, gentlemen – here’s Joe!  Mister Wardle hasn’t forgotten us after all.
JOE.  Master sent me over with the shay-cart to carry your luggage up to the house.
PICKWICK.  And us?
JOE.  Ain’t enough room, sir.  Mister Wardle would ha’ sent some saddle horses, but, being a cold day, he thought you’d rather walk.
PICKWICK.  (A beat.)  Yes!  Fine, cold, country air; good for the soul, eh, gentlemen?  (A call to SAM who is leaning against the coach, resting.)  Here!  Sam!
SAM. (Trotting to PICKWICK.)  Sir!
PICKWICK.  Please help Joe here with the packages and then ride on with him.  The four of us will walk forward at once. (SAM has been staring at JOE in astonishment.)  Sam?
SAM.  Wery good, sir.
PICKWICK.  Come then, Pickwickians – to Manor Farm!
(The PICKWICKIANS turn on their heels and trot as a group up and out.  JOE sits on a trunk as SAM picks up a barrel or two and begins to load the cart.  He nods with his head at the pile of luggage.)
SAM.  Vell?  There they are.
JOE.  Yes.  There they are.
SAM.  (Hoisting another load.)  Vell, now – you’re a nice specimen of a prize boy, you are.
JOE.  Thank’ee.
SAM.  You ain’t got nothin’ on your mind as makes you fret yourself, have you?
JOE.  Not as I knows on.
SAM.  I should rather ha’ thought, to look at you, that you might be laborin’ under an unrequited attachment to some young ‘oman.
JOE.  (A blush.)  Nooooo.
SAM.  Vell, I’m glad to hear of it.  (Pauses to take out his flask for a sip.)  Ever drink anythin’?
JOE.  I likes eating better.
SAM.  Ha, I should ha’ s’posed that.  But what I means is, would you like a drop o’ somethin’ as’d warm you?  Only I s’pose you don’t never get too cold with all that blubber ‘bout you, eh?
JOE.  Sometimes I do.  I sometimes like a drop of something when it’s good.
SAM.  (Handing JOE his flask and grabbing another load.)  Vell, I’ll vager this’ll be good enough. 
(JOE takes the flask and swallows its contents in a wink.  When SAM returns he hands him back the flask.  SAM reaches down to the trunk that JOE has been sitting on and takes one end, expecting JOE to take the other end.  JOE doesn’t.  Instead, he follows SAM to the loaded cart as SAM drags and hoists up the final piece of luggage.)
JOE.  Can you drive?
SAM.  Drive?  I should rayther think so.
JOE.  (Pointing as he climbs into rear of cart.)  There, then.  The farm’s as straight as you can go; you can’t miss it.  (He immediately falls unconscious on the pile of luggage and snores.)
SAM.  (to himself.)  Vell, of all the cool boys ever I set my eyes on, this ‘ere young gen’lm’n is about the coolest! 
(Giving JOE a slap on the rump.) 
Come vake up, young dropsy! 
(JOE simply shifts in the cart and resumes snoring.  SAM shakes his head, pulls out his flask, tips his head back for another sip, then tips flask upside down with amazement.  Flask is empty.) 
Too cool!
(A sigh as SAM hops up to front of cart and lights quickly fade. Music and sound of horse hooves rise through scene shift.)

Scene Three.

(Pool of light rises on NARRATOR perched upon a stile.)

NARRATOR.  Up the lane, Mister Pickwick and friends proceeded cheerfully toward Manor Farm.
(Lights reveal a desolate field.  Only a bare branch hanging in the air.  PICKWICKIANS appear conversing silently among themselves and appreciating the country scenery.)
It was just the sort of winter’s afternoon that might induce a gentleman to play at leap-frog in pure lightness of heart and gaiety.
(Chattering of voices offstage.  NARRATOR quickly moves as a group of YOUNG LADIES along with EMILY, ARABELLA, TRUNDLE, ISABEL and WARDLE appear and stop at the stile.  They wave at PICKWICKIANS on opposite side of stile; PICKWICKIANS wave.  All freeze except NARRATOR.)
But before any of them had a chance to offer a back in such a game, the still air resounded with the cry of merry voices.
(Both groups burst into life again as NARRATOR exits.  WARDLE clambers over the stile to greet the PICKWICKIANS.)
WARDLE.  Pickwick!  You’ve arrived!
PICKWICK.  (A warm embrace.)  Wardle!  Dear Wardle, hello!  Hello!
WARDLE.  Pickwick, my dear friend – welcome!  (To TUPMAN, SNODGRASS, WINKLE.)  Welcome, gentlemen!  Welcome all!
TUPMAN.  (Stepping forward and shaking WARDLE’s hand.)  How do you do, Mister Wardle?
WARDLE.  Well, Tupman – right well!  (Shaking SNODGRASS’ hand.)  Good you could make it, Snodgrass; you look uncommon well, to be sure.  (Calling back to EMILY.)  Emily!
EMILY.  Yes, Father?
WARDLE.  Doesn’t Mister Snodgrass look well!
EMILY.  (Looking at SNODGRASS boldly.)  Yes, he does, Father.
(YOUNG LADIES giggle and SNODGRASS blushes.  ARABELLA whispers in EMILY’s ear.  EMILY scolds her.  WINKLE has sauntered up to WARDLE.)
WARDLE.  Ah, and Mister Winkle!  Back again for a bit of the country life, eh?  (WARDLE claps WINKLE a bit too hard on the back.)
WINKLE.  (A gasp/laugh.)  That’s right, Mister Wardle.
WARDLE.  (Hearty chuckle.)  A man after me own heart!
PICKWICK.  (Indicating the YOUNG LADIES.)  Wardle, what a lovely reception this is, I must say.
(YOUNG LADIES giggle shyly.)
WARDLE.  Ah, yes, been out gathering this and that for the house.  (YOUNG LADIES display the baskets they carry: evergreen boughs, holly, ivy, currants, gooseberries, etc.)
Also let the girls have a peek at the little wedding cottage, fixed up all pretty for our happy couple…after tomorrow.
(YOUNG LADIES giggle and/or sigh.)
Well?  Come along, Trundle, my boy – help your lovely bride-to-be over the stile so that you can greet Mister Pickwick proper.
TRUNDLE.  Yes, sir.  (He athletically vaults the stile.  Another sigh from YOUNG LADIES.)  Your hand, Miss Wardle?
ISABEL.  Till the end of time, Mister Trundle.
WARDLE.  (As TRUNDLE and ISABEL step over to PICKWICK.)  Couldn’t ask for a finer son-in-law.  And so attentive to my little girl Isabel.
PICKWICK. (Nodding in agreement.) Handsome couple.  Very handsome indeed!
(TRUNDLE and ISABEL exchange ad-lib greetings to PICKWICK as WARDLE steps toward the stile.)
WARDLE.  Now, then – come girl, up and over, the lot of you.  The gentlemen here have had a long journey.  Back to the house, now.
EMILY. (Stepping forward to the steps of the stile.)  Yes, Father.  Mister Snodgrass – would you be so kind?  (EMILY thrusts forth her hand; YOUNG LADIES gasp.)
SNODGRASS. (Stepping forward.)  Why, yes.  Yes, I would, Miss Wardle.
EMILY.  (As SNODGRASS assists her up and over.)  Thank you so much, Mister Snodgrass.
(SNODGRASS and EMILY join TRUNDLE and ISABEL.  PICKWICK, TUPMAN, and WINKLE quickly huddle, then turn to the YOUNG LADIES.)
PICKWICK, TUPMAN, WINKLE.  Ladies?  (The trio rushes toward stile and YOUNG LADIES pull back a step and giggle.)
WARDLE.  (Impatient.)  Oh, dash it – you girls have been running mad the day long.  Come on, now!
A YOUNG LADY.  Not if they’re looking.
WARDLE.  Well, of all the silly…
PICKWICK.  No, Wardle, they’re quite right.  Modesty is a virtue to be admired in a woman.  Pickwickians, we shall oblige the young ladies and avert our eyes.
(PICKWICK, TUPMAN, and WINKLE each hold out one arm as they hide their eyes with their other.  FIRST LADY climbs over, encouraged by the other females, and PICKWICK leads her to safety.  TUPMAN takes the SECOND LADY.  WINKLE the THIRD LADY.  WARDLE, feeling foolish about covering his eyes, takes the FOURTH LADY.  PICKWICK has returned in line and assists the FIFTH LADY.   Only ARABELLA ALLEN remains.  Although it is TUPMAN’s turn, WINKLE cuts in line.)
EMILY.  Do hurry, Arabella, and give Mister Winkle your hand.
ARABELLA.  Mister “Who?”
WINKLE.  Me!  (Quickly remembering to avert his eyes.)  Me – Winkle.
ARABELLA.  (Sly smile and slight giggle.)  Very well, Mister Winkle – my hand.  (She slowly ascends the steps of the stile, but when she reaches the top she pauses, then decides to lose her balance.)  Oh!  Oh, dear!  I believe I am going to fall!  Oh! (Accompanied by shrieks from YOUNG LADIES, ARABELLA falls -- but not to the ground.  Instead, she tosses herself into WINKLE’s arms, then slowly, together, they crumple to the ground.  All freeze except WINKLE and ARABELLA in a heap.  WINKLE’s hand has landed in a “cowpie.”)  Oh, I am so sorry, Mister Winkle.
WINKLE.  (Struck by Cupid’s dart.) Sorry?  Whatever for, Miss…?
ARABELLA.  Allen.  Arabella Allen.
WINKLE.  Miss Allen?
ARABELLA.  Yes, Mister Winkle?
WINKLE.  (Gazing into her eyes.) What…what lovely…
ARABELLA.  Mister Winkle?
WINKLE.  (Turning away, breathless.)  What lovely boots you have.
ARABELLA.  Yes.  I know.  Fur.
(OTHERS burst into movement and help the DUO back up to their feet.)
EMILY.  Oh, Arabella, are you quite all right?
ARABELLA.  Why, yes, Emily.  Quite.
WINKLE.  (Slapping away PICKWICKIANS, eyes glued on ARABELLA.)  I’m fine.  Just fine.
EMILY.  (To ARABELLA, brushing her dress.)  How lucky neither of you were injured.  Such a fall!
ARABELLA.  Yes, it was rather a good fall, wasn’t it?
EMILY.  (Understanding.  Eyes wide.)  Arabella!
WARDLE.  (Approaching ARABELLA.)  My poor dear; you’re not hurt?
ARABELLA.  Not in the slightest, Mister Wardle.  Please let’s do proceed.
WARDLE.  Happily.  Shall we, Mister Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  By all means!
SNODGRASS.  (To EMILY.)  Your arm, Miss Wardle?
EMILY.  (Still looking at ARABELLA with suspicion.)  Why, yes.  Thank you, Mister Snodgrass.
ARABELLA.  (Stepping boldly to PICKWICK as WINKLE watches.)  Would you, Mister Pickwick?
PICKWICK. (Offering arm to ARABELLA.) But of course, you poor thing.
TRUNDLE.  (To ISABEL.)  Your arm, Miss Wardle?
ISABEL. Yours forever, Mister Trundle.
WARDLE & TUPMAN.  Ladies?  (Giggling, four YOUNG LADIES take each of WARDLE and TUPMAN’s arms, leaving one who waits for WINKLE, who finally notices her.)
WINKLE.  Oh.  Allow me.  Please.
WARDLE.  Will you help us to the house, Trundle, by leading in a song?
TRUNDLE.  I will!  (A group cheer as they sing/skip/dance merrily.)
(Lights fade to Blackout.)

Scene Four.

(An isolated pool of light rises to reveal WIDOW WARDLE, sitting in her easy-chair, knitting, ascending up through the floor in a cloud of dust.  Lights gradually spread to reveal front parlor of the Manor House.  SERVANTS bustle about in preparation, chattering.  EMMA – the chief household servant – run upstage to the large window, wipes frost from the glass, and spots WARDLES, PICKWICKIANS, and the rest approaching.)

EMMA.(Clapping her hands at SERVANTS.) They’re here!  Look sharp, now!
WIDOW. (Lifts ear trumpet to her ear.)  What’s the matter, Emma?  The kitchen chimney ain’t on fire, is it?
EMMA. (Rushes to WIDOW’s side, plumps a pillow for her.)  No, ma’am.  Master and the young ladies come back with that dear Mister Pickwick.
WIDOW.  What’s that?  A picnic, you say?  Don’t be daft, girl – too cold for a picnic!
(The walking PARTY enters, laughing and chattering.  SERVANTS, led by EMMA, curtsey and bow in welcome, then quickly take coats, shawls, bonnets, baskets, etc.  SAM greets PICKWICK and takes his hat and scarf.)
WARDLE.  (To PICWICKIANS.)  Now we’ll have you put to rights.  Emma?
(EMMA curtsies, beaming at the PICKWICKIANS.  TUPMAN gives her a little wave and wink; EMMA averts her eyes.)  Bring out the cherry brandy, Emma.  (EMMA curtsies and departs.  WARDLE calls another SERVANT GIRL.)  Mary?  Mister Winkle has need of a towel and water.  Bustle, now!  (SERVANT GIRL curtsies and departs.)  Now where’s Mother?  (He spies his mother, takes PICKWICK’s arm and leads him to WIDOW.)  Mother?  Mother, look – it’s Mister Pickwick.  You recollect him, don’t you?
WIDOW.  Ah!  I can’t hear you!
EMILY & ISABEL.  (Going to her side and kissing her cheek.)  Mister Pickwick, Grandma!
WIDOW.  (Waves them away, speaking with great dignity.)  Well, never mind.  Don’t trouble Mister Pickwick about an old creetur like me.  Nobody cares about me now, and it’s very nat’rul they shouldn’t.  (She tosses her head and smooths her dress with trembling hands.)
PICKWICK.  Come, come, ma’am.  I can’t let you cut an old friend in this way.  I have come down from London expressly to have a long talk, and another rubber of playing cards with you.  And at the wedding ball tomorrow, why – you and I will show these boys and girls how to dance a minuet before they’re eight-and-forty hours older, eh?  (WIDOW regards PICKWICK fondly, then remembers herself and tries to be gruff.)
WIDOW.  Ah!  I can’t hear him! 
(She gives another look at PICKWICK, though, and seems to wear just a bit of a smile.  EMMA appears with a tray of cordials.)
WARDLE. Ah, Emma – splendid!  A drop of cherry brandy, Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  With pleasure, Wardle!  (He takes a glass from EMMA.)
WARDLE.  Mother?  Will you have a cordial before supper?  It’s from the Vicar’s wife – made it herself.
WIDOW.  (Accepting a glass.)  Yes, I know all about that ‘ooman and her cordials, and I’ll tell you that Vicar’s wife swallows every bit as much as she puts in a bottle and you may tell her I said so.
WARDLE.  (Stepping away from WIDOW.)  Yes, Mother.  (To EMMA, who is serving YOUNG LADIES.)  Emma?  Where’s Joe?  We’ll want card-tables in the sitting room after supper.
SAM.  (Stepping forward.)  E’s asleep, sir.  In the kitchen.
WARDLE.  Of course.  (Gently pulling EMMA aside as SAM steps to PICKWICK.)  Emma, once you’ve finished here, would you please get Joe up?  Pinch him in the leg – that ought to wake him.
SAM. (While WARDLE instructs EMMA.)  Mister Pickvick?  Vot about that fat boy, sir?  Ain’t seen nothin’ like it, sleepin’ all the time.  Somethin’ wery odd about that fat boy, sir.
WARDLE.  (Stepping near, having overheard.)  Odd?  He is, indeed!  Goes on errands fast asleep and snores as he waits at table.  But, damn it, I’m proud of that boy!  Wouldn’t part with him on any account.  He’s a natural curiosity!  (PICKWICK nods and chuckles in agreement as WARDLE leads him off, followed by SAM.  EMMA has reached TUPMAN with the tray of cordials.)
TUPMAN.  (Frisky and familiar.)  Well, hello Emma!  Hello!
EMMA.  (Tolerant.)  Will you have a cordial, Mister Tupman?
TUPMAN.  I will.  And, since your hands are full… (Quick glance to see if anyone’s looking.)  …I believe I’ll have a kiss as well.
EMMA.  Mister Tupman, no!
TUPMAN.  Emma!  Yes!  (TUPMAN steals a kiss.  EMMA gasps at his boldness, then gives him a little kick in the shin before turning away and quickly exiting.  TUPMAN hops backward in pain, bumping into the WIDOW’s chair.)
WIDOW.  (Surprised, stern.)  Young man!
TUPMAN.  Oh, do forgive me, madam!  (He nervously looks about again, smiling at the others who stare at him, then turns back to WIDOW and bellers into her ear trumpet.)  My, you’re looking well!
WIDOW.  Do I know you, sir?
TUPMAN.  But…why…of course…I was…we were down once before.  The name’s Tupman.  Tracy Tupman.
WIDOW.  I don’t know any Mister Tuppence.  Now what’s the matter with you?
TUPMAN.  Nothing.  Just… admiring your granddaughters, madam.
WIDOW.  Hem!  You think they’re pretty, do you?
TUPMAN. (Desperate to ingratiate himself.)  I should think so.  If only their grandmother wasn’t here.
WIDOW.  Acch!  I’m too old a creetur for your flattery!  (She waves TUPMAN away as EMILY and SNODGRASS cross, conversing intimately.)
EMILY. (A giggle.) Oh, Mister Snodgrass, you are a quiz!
WIDOW.  Emily?  Is that you?  Emily, what are you doing with that strange man?  Mind yourself!
EMILY. (Guiding SNODGRASS over to WIDOW.)  Lor’, Grandma, it’s only Mister Snodgrass.  Surely you recollect him.
SNODGRASS.  (A bow.)  Widow Wardle.
EMILY.  (Gazing admiringly into SNODGRASS’ eyes.)  He’s a most particular friend of Mister Pickwick’s.
PICKWICK.  (Entering with WARDLE.  To WIDOW.)  Is something the matter, dear lady?
WIDOW.  Oh, Mister Pickwick, the girls don’t listen to me anymore, and I suppose ‘tis nat’rul.  Too bold is Emily.  Far too bold.  And little Isabel…now found herself a husband, shan’t be long afore she forgets her old grandma altogether.
WARDLE.  Oh, come, come, mother.  Don’t be cross; now, there’s a good soul.  Isabel?  (Gestures for ISABEL to come to WIDOW’s side.)  You must keep your grandmother’s spirits up, poor girl.
(WIDOW’s lip quivers as she whirls back around in her chair and attempts to maintain her strict demeanor.  She smooths down her dress again.)
WIDOW.  Ah, Mister Pickwick, young people was very different when I was a girl.
PICKWICK.  (Gently taking ISABEL’s arm.)  No doubt of that, ma’am.  And that’s the reason why I would make much of the few that have any traces of the old stock. (He gently bestows a kiss upon ISABEL’s forehead.)  There, Isabel, sit with your dear Grandmother.
ISABEL.  Grandma?  I’m to be married tomorrow, Grandma.  Oh, please do try and be happy.  I am.
(WIDOW looks up at PICKWICK, who nods and smiles down at her, then she looks back at ISABEL’s sweet face resting on her knees.  She takes ISABEL’s face in her trembling hands, then melts – throwing herself around ISABEL’s neck in a gush of silent tears.)
WIDOW.  Ah!  I can’t hear her!
(Lights fade as music rises.)

Scene Five.

(In the blackout, sound of laughter from offstage.  Lights rise on party entering parlor: PICKWICKIANS, WARDLES, ARABELLA, YOUNG LADIES, TRUNDLE, SAM, EMMA.  An offstage clock tolls twelve chimes.)

PICKWICK. (To WIDOW, on his arm.) My compliments, Mrs. Wardle, on a most brilliant game of whist.  I can’t imagine the cards being played any better.
WIDOW.  I still say my son here ought to have trumped that diamond.  Oughn’t he have, Mister Pickwick?
WARDLE.  Yes, yes, Mother – I ought to’ve.  Emma?  What does the clock say?
EMMA.  Twelve o’clock midnight, sir.
ISABEL. (Clutching TRUNDLE’s arm with a thrill.)  Oh, Mister Trundle, our wedding day!  It’s arrived at long last. (The party responds with a spontaneous “Hurrah!”)  
WIDOW. (Startled at the commotion.)  Ah!  What is it?  What’s the matter?
WARDLE.  There’s nothing the matter, Mother.  It’s time for bed.  Emma?  See my mother to her chambers, would you?
EMMA.  Come along now, ma’am.
PICKWICK. (Kissing WIDOW’s hand.)  Good night, Mrs. Wardle.  (WIDOW blushes and waves him shyly away.  As she is led from the room, she turns several times to smile at PICKWICK.)
WARDLE.  (To YOUNG LADIES who have gathered around ISABEL.)  Now, girls – to sleep.  You’ll want to look your best for the ceremony in the morning.
YOUNG LADIES.  Yes, Mister Wardle.  Good night, Mister Pickwick.  Good night, gentlemen. 
(PICKWICKIANS bow.  YOUNG LADIES sigh and exit, giggling.)
ISABEL.  Father?
WARDLE.  Yes, Isabel?
ISABEL.  Would you think me terribly silly if I asked you…
WARDLE.  Asked me what, my dear?
ISABEL.  If I asked… for one last time… that you tuck me up in bed?
WARDLE.  (Beams.)  Not at all!  (Taking ISABEL’s arm to guide her out.)  If my guests will please excuse me….
PICKWICK.  By all means, old man.
(JOE enters with a tray of hot elder wine as EMILY and ARABELLA step away from SNODGRASS and WINKLE.)
WARDLE.  (Exiting with ISABEL.)  Emily?  Miss Allen?  I daresay the gentlemen will still be with us come morning.
EMILY. Yes, Father.  Coming straight’way.
EMILY & ARABELLA. (Stepping to PICKWICK, a curtsey.)  Good night, Mister Pickwick.
PICKWICK. (A bow.)  Good night, my dears.
EMILY & ARABELLA.  (To the remaining four, but EMILY gazing at SNODGRASS and ARABELLA at WINKLE.)  Good night, gentlemen.
TUPMAN.  (A bow.)  Until tomorrow, ladies.
TRUNDLE.  (A bow.)  Miss Wardle.  Miss Allen.
(SNODGRASS and WINKLE simply stare back.  PICKWICK nudges WINKLE and TUPMAN nudges SNODGRASS.)
SNODGRASS.  What!  Ah, yes.  (A bow.)  Bonne nuit, mademoiselles.
WINKLE. (A bow.)  Yes.  Uh.  Good night.
(EMILY and ARABELLA curtsey and turn to exit.)
ARABELLA.  (Whisper, to EMILY.)  “Bonne nuit?”
EMILY.  French.  Poets have the privilege to speak however they choose.
ARABELLA.  But what’s the good if you can’t understand them?
EMILY.  Don’t be dim, Arabella; that’s what makes them poets.
(JOE is pouring wine into the men’s glasses.  PICKWICK yawns.)
PICKWICK.  And now, my friends, if you will kindly excuse me.
TUPMAN.  You’re not going to bed already, Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  But I am indeed.  You youngsters may tip another glass in my name if you like, but I’ve had more than my share of good cheer today.  Sam?
SAM.  Sir?
PICKWICK.  Would you show me to my room, please, Sam?
SAM.  Right this vay, Mister Pickvick.
PICKWICK.  (To TRUNDLE.)  Good night, lad.  (To PICKWICKIANS.)  Good night, Pickwickians!
TUPMAN, SNODGRASS, WINKLE & TRUNDLE.  Good night, Mister Pickwick!
(PICKWICK and SAM exit.  JOE exits opposite.  TUPMAN, SNODGRASS, and WINKLE move to TRUNDLE, who is seated in Widow’s chair.)
TRUNDLE.  Now then, gentlemen, about this Pickwick Club of yours.
TUPMAN.  What would you care to know?
TRUNDLE.  I take it that it’s exclusively for bachelor gentlemen?
TUPMAN.  Exclusively?
WINKLE.  Why, heavens no.
SNODGRASS.  Not in the slightest.
TRUNDLE.  But you, and Mister Pickwick, are…
TUPMAN.  We are but four of many in an illustrious fraternity.  It is but a coincidence that we happen to be bachelors.
TRUNDLE.  Oh.  I thought perhaps you didn’t much care for women.
TUPMAN.  On the contrary, Mister Trundle.  That is precisely why I, for one, am a bachelor.  Simply adore the creatures!
TRUNDLE.  Is that so?
TUPMAN.  The more the merrier!
TRUNDLE.  Why, that’s capital!  Just capital!  (Raising his glass.)  Gentlemen, to your Pickwick Club!
PICKWICKIANS.  To the Pickwick Club!
TUPMAN.  To ladies fair!
OTHERS.  To ladies fair!
WINKLE.  To love and marriage!
OTHERS.  To love and marriage!
(TRUNDLE, WINKLE and TUPMAN turn to SNODGRASS in anticipation.)
SNODGRASS.  To…to…to pleasant dreams!
OTHERS.  To pleasant dreams!
(With their wine glasses raised, ALL freeze as lights isolate them in separate pools.  Strange music and VOICE OF VICAR in dreamlike reverberation.)
VOICE OF VICAR.  Will you, Mister Trundle, have this woman Isabel Wardle…
TRUNDLE.  I will!  (He steps out of his light to join ISABEL, who has appeared in her own pool of light.  They dance, swirling, off into the void.)
VOICE OF VICAR.  Will you, Augustus Snodgrass, have this woman Emily Wardle…
SNODGRASS.  (Noticing EMILY.) With the greatest pleasure!  (SNODGRASS joins EMILY and they, too, dance off.)
VOICE OF VICAR.  Will you, Nathaniel Winkle, have this woman Arabella Allen…
WINKLE.  Well, I… I should… I should think so!  (WINKLE joins ARABELLA and dances her off.)
VOICE OF VICAR.  Will you, Joe… Joe?!  Fat Boy?!
(JOE stumbles into pool of light, rubbing his eyes to awaken.)
JOE.  Yes?  What?
VOICE OF VICAR.  Will you, Joe, have this crowned rib roast…
(ROAST appears and sways alluringly in pool of light.)
JOE.  (A leer and giggle of glee.)  Yes, sir!  Oh yes, yes, yes!
(JOE waddles toward ROAST in hot pursuit.  ROAST and JOE exit.)
VOICE OF VICAR.  And will you, Tracy Tupman, have…
TUPMAN.  …Emma?  Why, yes, I daresay I would!  (EMMA does not appear.)  And also Mary, and Hazel, and Constance, and Jane.  Henrietta and Sarah and Betsy… (At TUPMAN’s mention, YOUNG LADIES appear and crowd around him, squealing and giggling.  Amidst this commotion, PICKWICK’s bed appears and the group disperses to freeze at the edges of the stage.  PICKWICK awakens with a start.)
PICKWICK.  Tupman?!  Tracy Tupman!
YOUNG LADY.  (Regarding the ribbon belt of her gown.)  Oh, please, Mister Tupman, do come and tie me; there’s a dear!
ANOTHER YOUNG LADY.  And me, too!  Oh, please, please hurry!
PICKWICK.  That’s quite enough, Tupman!  Stop this at once!
(Music crescendos as TUPMAN chases YOUNG LADIES off.  Music and sound abruptly halt as SAM enters with a basin of water.  Lights alter to morning.)
SAM.  Mister Pickvick?  Mister Pickvick?
PICKWICK.  Oh.  It’s you, Sam.
SAM.  Anythin’ wrong, Mister Pickvick?
PICKWICK.  No, Sam.  It’s nothing.  Only a dream.  Too much wine last night.  Thought I heard women, Sam.  Dreadful din.
SAM.  And vell you ought, Mister Pickvick.  T’ain’t no dream, sir, it’s mornin’.  Young Miss Vardle’s veddin’ mornin’, sir.  Never ‘ave I seen such runnin’ about: young ladies a-callin’ for vater, needles and threads, ribbons and such-like.  You best be up now y’self, Mister Pickvick.  ‘Ere be your vater.  I’ll be back in a flash vith your boots.
PICWICK. (As SAM exits.) Yes, Sam.  Thank you, Sam.  (PICKWICK dips his hands in the basin and splashes his face with water as bed unit shifts off.  Pool of light rises on NARRATOR.)
NARRATOR.  And so, the occasion of a wedding being a most important one indeed, Mister Pickwick dressed himself with the most peculiar care.

Scene Six.

(Lights slowly rise on cleared stage.  YOUNG LADIES rush in as SERVANTS help tie them, fuss with their hair, etc.  Quiet ad-libs.)

NARRATOR.  (Continued.)  In the hallway below were all the female servants running to and fro in response to the multitudinous demands of all the female guests.
(TRUNDLE appears with BUTLER brushing his coat.)
Mister Trundle was in high feather and spirits, but a little nervous withal.  And the hearty old landlord…
(WARDLE appears, followed by JOE.  WARDLE has a long clay Dutchman’s pipe in his hands which he nervously packs with tobacco, then breaks it.  He trades his pipe for a shot of brandy JOE offers him.)
…was trying to look very cheerful and unconcerned, but failing signally in the attempt.
(WIDOW enters grandly.)
The old lady appeared, dressed out in a brocaded gown which had not seen the light for twenty years, except for such truant rays as might have stolen through the chinks in the box in which it had been laid by, during the whole time…
WARDLE.  Mother – just look at you!
WIDOW.  Yes?  What’s the matter?
WARDLE.  The last time I saw you in that gown was at my wedding.
WIDOW.  Yes, and I wore it to Lady Tollimglower’s wedding before that.  Still good enough, ain’t it?
WARDLE.  Yes, Mother.  It’s lovely.
WIDOW.  And that’s just what they all said at Lady Tollimglower’s wedding, too.  There was royalty what come down for that wedding, I don’t mind telling you.  “Lovely,” they said.  And they’re the sort what ought to know.
(PICWICKIANS appear in a group, followed by SAM.)
WARDLE.  (Shaking PICKWICK’s hand.)  Good morning, Pickwick!  Gentlemen!  I hope you slept well.
PICKWICK.  (A lie.)  Oh, yes Wardle.  Yes.  (PICKWICKIANS nod, obviously hung over.  PICKWICK steps to TRUNDLE and shakes hands.)
Good morning and great day, young Mister Trundle!  I hope you had a pleasant sleep. 
TRUNDLE.  Uh… somewhat.
PICKWICK. (A chuckle.)  No, I didn’t suppose you would have.  A mite nervous, eh, lad?
TRUNDLE.  Uh… somewhat.
PICKWICK.  Natural.  Only natural.
EMMA.  (Entering.)  Master Wardle, sir.  Miss Isabel’s all ready.
TRUNDLE.  (Rushing to EMMA.)  Oh, Emma, how is she?  Please say “good morning” to her for me, will you?
WARDLE.  (Taking TRUNDLE gently by the arm.)  Now, now, my boy.  You’ll be able to say that and a great deal more yourself before long.  Off with you, now.  (Clapping his hands.)  Come, come all, to the church!  Carriages are waiting outside!
(The room quickly clears, save for WARDLE, PICKWICK, and WIDOW.)
WARDLE.  Pickwick, old chap, would you mind awfully riding with me and the girls?
PICKWICK.  I would be honored, Wardle.  Honored indeed.
(ISABEL enters, followed by her bridesmaids EMILY and ARABELLA.  WARDLE, PICKWICK, and WIDOW just gaze at them for a moment.)
ISABEL. (After the pause.)  Good morning, Father.
WARDLE.  Oh, Isabel.  Dear, little Isabel.  You look just like your poor mother.  (They embrace.  WARDLE wipes away a tear.)  Come, my child.  Your husband is waiting.
(WARDLE takes ISABEL’s arm and leads her to a channel of light leading upstage to where VICAR stands with TRUNDLE near him.  Music rises: a sweet, solemn hymn as wedding ceremony is performed in pantomime.)
NARRATOR.  Now a wedding has long been a licensed subject to joke upon, but there really is no great joke in the matter after all.  For mixed up with the pleasure and joy of the occasion are the many regrets of leaving one’s home and the tears of parting between parent and child, and between the dearest and kindest of friends.  Natural feelings which we would not render this scene mournful by describing and which we should be still more unwilling to ridicule.  Let us briefly say, then, that the ceremony went off in very admirable style…
(VICAR leads TRUNDLE and ISABEL offstage.)
…and the old church bell rang as gaily as it could…
(Church bell rings and music shifts to more upbeat melody as stage fills with YOUNG LADIES, PICKWICKIANS, POOR RELATIONS, etc. all rushing down “aisle” to stage apron.)
…and the young Mister and Mrs. Trundle, and the Wardles, the Pickwickians, the poor relations, the friends and neighbors – well, every face shone forth joyously and nothing could be heard but congratulations and commendations.  Then they all returned to the house, and to the wedding breakfast.
(WEDDING PARTY and GUESTS turn upstage.  Lights alter to reveal tables set with bouquets and crystal, etc. and SERVANTS in waiting.)

Scene Seven.

The dining hall.  GUESTS admire table then all find their places as POOR RELATIONS remain standing DS.)

MARTHA.  Lor, sister Lizzie!  Don’t Uncle Wardle’s house look nice!
LIZZIE. Oh, ye-ess, Martha – I should say!
HENRY.  (Gruffly, to ARTHUR.)  Too big for just one famb’ly, if you asks me.
(ARTHUR grunts and nods in agreement.)
VERA.  (To SALLY, who sobs and dabs her eyes with handkerchief.)  What is it, Sally, dear?
SALLY.  Can’t help but think on poor sister.  Last time I was here it were her funeral.
SIDNEY(To ARTHUR & HENRY.)  Had a right fine dinner then, too.
(SALLY slaps her husband with handkerchief, then blows her nose loudly.)
VERA.  You hush, brother, you wretch, and comfort your wife, poor soul.
JENNY. (A shout, pointing at table.)  Ma!  Them must be our places, Ma!
MARTHA.  Jenny, love, don’t talk so loud.
LIZZIE. (To ARTHUR, as POOR RELATIONS approach their table.)  Oh, now ain’t this nice, Arthur: our own little table, special.
(ARTHUR grunts.)
WARDLE.  Friends…guests…my dear family…welcome to my home and table.  It is my pleasure to present before you, Mister and Mrs. Jeremy Trundle!
(TRUNDLE and ISABEL enter, escorted by PICKWICK and WIDOW, to cheers and applause.  The newly-wedded couple kiss.)
PICKWICK.  Well done, children!  Just capital!  And now, may I salute the bride?
ISABEL.  Yes, Mister Pickwick, you may.  (PICKWICK gives ISABEL a peck on the cheek, then reveals from his hand behind his back a gold watch and chain, which he places around ISABEL’s neck.)
ISABEL.  Oh, Mister Pickwick, it’s beautiful.  Oh, thank you.  Look, husband – a golden watch!
TRUNDLE. (Shaking PICKWICK’s hand.)  Thank you, Mister Pickwick.
PICKWICK.  Congratulations to you both, and may this watch count nothing but happy and peaceful moments together.  (ISABEL kisses PICKWICK on the cheek.  More cheers and applause as PICKWICK, WIDOW, TRUNDLE, ISABEL, and WARDLE take their places at the table.)
WARDLE.  Now, Vicar Hope – if you would be so kind as to provide the blessing.
VICAR.  Come Lord God, be Thou a Guest
Bless Thou, and all our gifts are blest.
We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food,
For life and health, and every good.
ALL.  Amen.
(PICKWICK helps WIDOW to be seated, then ALL sit.  EMMA and SERVANTS begin to bustle about, pouring wine and serving food, as ALL laugh, eat, and converse merrily.  After a moment, the activity shifts into quiet “slow motion” as WINKLE turns to ARABELLA.)
WINKLE.  Lovely wedding, don’t you agree, Miss Allen?
ARABELLA.  I do, Mister Winkle.  But I’m sure I could never submit to anything quite so dreadful.
WINKLE.  “Dreadful,” Miss Allen?
ARABELLA.  Marriage, Mister Winkle.  To a man?  Why, I simply couldn’t!
ARABELLA.  Not ever.
(Lights and movement shift back into “real time,” then re-focus.)
LIZZIE. (To ARTHUR.)  Your lap, Arthur!
ARTHUR.  What about me lap?
LIZZIE.  (Pulling ARTHUR’s napkin from under his chin.)  The cloth – it goes on your lap!
ARTHUR.  But me mouth’s up here.
EMMA. (To SAM, as she pours wine.)  Mister Weller?  Sam?  
SAM.  (Stepping to EMMA from behind PICKWICK’s chair.)  Aye, Emma?
EMMA.  Wasn’t it you who set out the mince-pies?
SAM.  Me ‘n’ Fat Boy.  Somethin’ wrong?
EMMA.  Weren’t there two?
SAM.  Set one there, and … one’s gone.
EMMA.  Could you look for it, please?
SAM.  (Starts off.) P’raps Cook took one back to the kitchen.  I’ll go see.
MARTHA.  Never did see so many eatables in all my life!
VERA.  Must be awful nice to have a proper kitchen.
HENRY.  And a proper cook, too.
MARTHA. (Responding to HENRY’s insult.)  Wretch!
WARDLE.  Mister Pickwick, have you met our Vicar Hope?
PICKWICK. Yes.  Yes, I have.  Capital ceremony, Vicar.  Capital.
VICAR.  Why, thank you.  My wife, Mister Pickwick.
PICKWICK.  (Slight rise from his seat, a bow.)  Mrs. Hope.
WIDOW. (To PICKWICK.)  She’s the ‘ooman with the cordials.
(ISABEL and EMILY stifle a giggle.)
PICKWICK.  Ah, yes.  (To VICAR’S WIFE.)  Capital cordials, ma’am, I must say!
VICAR’S WIFE.  How nice of you to think so, Mister Pickwick.  (She swallows a large gulp of wine.  COOK enters with roasted goose.)
COOK. (To WARDLE.) Goose, sir!
(ALL respond to goose with an “Ahhhh!,” rise, and applaud COOK, who curtsies.)
WARDLE. (To WIDOW.)  Mother, will you carve?
WIDOW.  What’s that?  “Starve?”  Not likely to, with all this food about.  (COOK hands WIDOW a carving knife.)  What?  You want me to do it?  Why didn’t you say so?
TUPMAN. (To YOUNG LADY.)  …well!  Then the horse, it took off at a wild gallop with Mister Snodgrass and myself sitting quite helpless in the chaise behind!
YOUNG LADY.  Oh dear, what did you do?
TUPMAN.  What could we do but throw ourselves out of the chaise and into a hedge along the road!
EMMA. (Appearing beside TUPMAN.) Will you have wine, Mister Tupman?
TUPMAN.  Oh, Emma, I was just telling the young lady about my little mishap on the way to the farm this past summer.
EMMA.  Oh, yes – you are a one for accidents, aren’t you, sir.
TUPMAN.  And then you cleansed my wounds…
EMMA.  Only just doin’ my job, Mister Tupman.
TUPMAN. … and gave me a kiss.  Remember?
EMMA.  I remember you taking a kiss.  That’s what I remember, Mister Tupman.
WIDOW. (While carving goose.) … now at Lady Tollimglower’s wedding breakfast, they served roast peacock…
VICAR’S WIFE.  Peacock?!  Noooo!
WIDOW.  … I just said so, didn’t I?  And it was peacock feathers she used for her wedding gown.
PICKWICK.  Extraordinary.
EMILY. (To ISABEL.)  What is Grandma talking about? 
(ISABEL shrugs.)
SAM. (Stepping to EMMA.) Beg pardon, Emma.
EMMA.  What is it, Sam?
SAM.  Neither Cook nor kitchen staff knows anythin’ ‘bout that second mince-pie.
EMMA.  Very well.  Thank you, Sam.
SAM. Anythin’ for you, Miss Emma.
EMMA.  (A blush, a smile.  Softly.)  Oh, go back to your Mister Pickwick, now.  Can’t you see I’m busy?
COOK. (To TRUNDLE.)  Beggin’ your pardon, sir.
TRUNDLE.  Yes, Cook?
COOK. (Presenting him a small plate.) The wishbone, sir.  For you and the new Missus.
ISABEL.  Oh, thank you, Cook! (TRUNDLE and ISABEL each give COOK a kiss on the cheek.  COOK curtsies and exits.  EMMA has moved to POOR RELATIONS’ table.)
EMMA. (To SIDNEY.) Wine, sir?
SIDNEY.  I should say so.  Took you long enough, what?
HENRY.  You can just leave it here.  We’re used to helpin’ ourselves.
EMMA.  Very good, sir.
MARTHA.  Don’t cousin Isabel look a picture, though!
SALLY.  The spittin’ image of me sister!  Ohhhh!
VICAR’S WIFE. (Giggling, to PICKWICK.) So you think my cordials are passable, Mister Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  Quite passable, ma’am!  As good if not better than any tap-room in London.
VICAR’S WIFE.  Truly?  I’ve never been to a tap-room.
WIDOW. (To WARDLE.)  ‘Ooman doesn’t need to, with all the spirits she keeps at home.
WARDLE.  Yes, Mother.  (A call.)  Emma?  Where’s Joe?  We’ll be wanting more wine from the cellar.
EMMA.  I’ve been wondering that myself, Mister Wardle.  I’ll get the wine.  Mister Weller, would you help me, please?
(EMMA and SAM exit.)
EMILY. (To SNODGRASS.)  I wonder, Mister Snodgrass.
SNODGRASS.  What do you wonder, Miss Wardle?
EMILY.  I wonder if I will ever be married.
SNODGRASS.  Oh?  Do you?
EMILY. (A sigh.)  Yes.  I wonder if ever anyone shall ask me.
SNODGRASS.  (Slight pause.)  Miss Wardle, would you…
EMILY.  Yes, Mister Snodgrass?
SNODGRASS.  … would you care for some more bread?
(COOK and SERVANT enter with a tray that holds the enormous cod, now beautifully prepared.)
COOK.  The codfish!
(ALL rise and applaud.)
WARDLE.  Compliments of Mister Pickwick!
(More applause.  ALL resume eating.)
WINKLE. (To ARABELLA.) You know, I’ve done a bit of fishing in my day.
ARABELLA.  Have you, Mister Winkle.  Emily has told me much about your hunting exploits, but I had no idea you engaged in water sport as well.
WINKLE.  Miss Wardle told you… told… about the partridge shoot, has she? (He looks daggers toward EMILY.)
ARABELLA. Oh, yes.  Mister Tupman’s injury appears to be quite healed.
WINKLE.  It was the gun!  The gun!  Rusty!
ARABELLA.  No doubt.
WIDOW.  …but the terrible thing was, lovely as all those peacock feathers were, as soon as Lady Tollimglower reached the altar, the candles she was standing next to set that gown and all those feathers a-burnin’ like blazes.  Lady had to run over to the baptismal font so’s they could quick douse the flames!
PICKWICK.  Incredible!  (A call.)  I hope you’re listening to this, Snodgrass!  We’ll have to tell our Club back in London.
SNODGRASS.  By all means, Mister Pickwick.
WARDLE. (A call.)  Joe?  Joe!  Asleep again, I’ll wager.
(JOE stumbles in, evidence of pie all over his mouth and hands.)
JOE.  No I ain’t, sir!
EMMA.  (Entering with SAM following.) Joe! Is it you who ate that other mince-pie?  Shame!
WARDLE.  Never mind, Emma.  Joe?  Help Emma and Sam with the wine, now.
MARTHA.  Sister Lizzie?
LIZZIE.  Ye-ess, Martha?
MARTHA.  Tell me what you got cousin Isabel for a gift.
LIZZIE.  Oh, one o’ them dear silk tea-kettle holders.
HENRY.  Ha!  Fancy that, wife – she’s givin’ the same thing as you!
EMMA. (To SAM, shaking her head.) That boy Joe – just like his patron saint, he is.
SAM.  “Patron saint?”  What do you mean, Emma?
EMMA.  I mean “Saint Little Jack Horner.”  Him and Joe, all the day long, just sittin’ in the corner a-eatin’ their Christmas pies.
(SAM laughs.)
WIDOW.  Now I’ll have you know it was the fashion at the time to wear high-heeled shoes.  So, of course, it had rained that morning and wouldn’t you know it – Lady Tollimglower, the bride herself – why, her shows with those heels sank right in the mud and wouldn’t budge.  Being a larger woman, two men were obliged to carry her to the carriage.
(GUESTS laugh politely except for the POOR RELATIONS who laugh far too loudly and too long.  GUESTS regard POOR RELATIONS with horror and disdain.  JOE finally steps up to WARDLE with a decanter of wine.)
WARDLE.  Mister Pickwick, another glass of wine?
PICKWICK.  With great satisfaction, Mister Wardle.
VICAR. (Raising his empty glass.)  You’ll take me in, too?
VICAR’S WIFE.  And me?!
ARTHUR.  And me!
SIDNEY.  Yes!  And me!
WARDLE.  That’s right!  More wine all around!
PICWICK. (Rising from seat.) Ladies and gentlemen – I propose a toast!
SAM. (Excited.)  Hear, hear!  Hear, hear!  Hear, hear!
PICKWICK. (Somewhat embarrassed at SAM’s enthusiasm.)  Sam.
WARDLE.  No, Pickwick – quite right!  Emma, would you call in all the servants and give them a glass of wine each, to drink the toast in?
EMMA. (A smile at SAM.) I would, sir!
WARDLE.  Now, Pickwick.
(PICKWICK slowly steps up onto his chair to address the GUESTS.  SERVANTS enter and stand.)
PICKWICK.  Ladies and gentlemen… No.  I won’t say “ladies and gentlemen,” I’ll call you my friends.  My dear friends.  If the ladies will allow me to take so great a liberty….
(FEMALES applaud wildly.  MALES echo applause politely.)
ARABELLA.  Oh, I could just kiss that dear Mister Pickwick!
WINKLE.  Do you think it could be done by deputy, and kiss me instead?
ARABELLA.  Oh, go away! (But she gives him a look as if to add, “if you can.”)
PICKWICK.  My dear friends, I am going to propose the health of the bride and bridegroom – God bless ‘em!
(ALL cheer and/or weep.)
My young friend Trundle I believe to be a very excellent and manly fellow.
(MEN cheer.)
And his wife I know to be a very amiable and lovely girl, well qualified to transfer to another sphere of action the happiness which for twenty years she has diffused around her in her father’s house.
JOE. (Very loudly, blubbering.)  Ohhhh, she’s goin’ away!  Miss Isabel’s a-leavin’ us!
SAM. (Taking JOE by the collar and leading him off.)  And you’re a-leavin’, too.  Come along.  (They exit.  SAM returns alone shortly afterward.)
PICKWICK.  I wish… I wish I was young enough to be Miss Emily’s husband.
EMILY.  Oh, that’s too sweet.
PICKWICK.  But, failing that, I am happy to be old enough to be her father.  For, being so, I shall not be suspected of any latent designs when I say that I admire, esteem, and love the girls both.
(Cheers and more sobs.)
Now, the bride’s father, our good friend here, is a kind…
(Cheers again.)
(Louder still.)
…generous man.
(Most enthusiastic cheers, applause, and pounding of the table from POOR RELATIONS.  OTHERS stare at POOR RELATIONS as before.)
May his daughter enjoy all the happiness her father could ever have desired for her, and which is, I am persuaded, our united wish.  So, let us drink their healths, and wish them prolonged life, and every blessing!
(ALL riase their glasses, drink, then applaud and cheer.  HENRY, in his excitement, stands on his bench, after PICKWICK’s example.)
HENRY. (Quite drunk.)  Yes!  Yes!  To… to… to…!
WIDOW.  Too much to drink, that’s what I say!
(HENRY falls off his bench as lights quickly fade to Blackout.)

NARRATOR. (Entering.) It was not long before the festive party was adjourned.  At Mister Wardle’s recommendation, a brisk five-and-twenty miles walk was undertaken by the gentlemen, in order to counteract the effects of the wine at breakfast.
(Dim corridor of light DS reveals WARDLE, PICKWICKIANS, and YOUNG MEN walking.) 
At dinner, they all met again – another hearty affair – after which the wedding cake was cut and passed through the ring.   And the young ladies all saved pieces to put under their pillows so they might dream of their future husbands.  Then there were more toasts, then tea and coffee, and, at last, the wedding ball!

Scene Eight.

(Lights rise on ballroom.  Music and laughter offstage.  SERVANTS roll up carpet and place candelabrae onto columns.  DANCING COUPLES appear as candles burst into brilliant light.)

VICAR’S DAUGHTER. (Rushing up to VICAR’S WIFE.)  Mother?!
VICAR’S WIFE.  What is it, Jane?
VICAR’S DAUGHTER.  (Pointing toward ADOLESCENT TRIO.)  May I dance with the young Master Crawley?
VICAR’S WIFE.  “Master Crawley?!”  Good God, Jane – haven’t you heard that his father hasn’t got a penny to his name?
VICAR’S DAUGHTER.  But Father always preaches “Blessed are the poor…”
VICAR’S WIFE.  And the Vicar and I are quite happy for Master Crawley and all his blessings.  But you may not dance with him, not on any account!
TUPMAN (Tiptoeing up behind a pillar beside EMMA.)  Hello, Emma!  (He attempts to pinch her.)
EMMA.  (A startled shriek, then sighs, wryly.)  Mister Tupman.
TUPMAN.  Would you care to dance, Emma?
EMMA.  Nothing I’d like better, sir.
TUPMAN.  No, really?  Now, I knew you’d warm up to me, sooner or later.
EMMA.  What I meant was, yes, I’d enjoy a dance, Mister Tupman, but I’m not allowed to.  I’m here to look after our guests.
TUPMAN.  Oh, I see.  What a pity.  I am sorry for you.
EMMA.  Please don’t be. You just put poor little me right out of your mind.
TUPMAN.  But Emma, that’s quite impossible.  I adore you.  Such a challenge!  Ta, ta, my dear!  (TUPMAN scurries off to seek another partner.  EMMA turns and also exits.)
MARTHA.  Come along, Jenny, and don’t stoop.
JENNY.  I weren’t stoopin’, Ma.
MARTHA. (To LIZZIE.)  I’ve told her and told her that if there’s one thing more than another what makes a girl look ugly, it’s stooping.
HENRY.  Listen to your mother now, Jenny.  She knows.
(PICKWICK enter.  SNODGRASS and TUPMAN approach him and stare at this attire: silk stockings and smartly tied pumps.)
SNODGRASS. (Dubious.)  You mean to dance, Mister Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  Of course I do.  Don’t you see I am dressed for the purpose?
TUPMAN.  You!  In silk stockings!
PICKWICK.  And why not, sir?  Why not?
TUPMAN.  Oh, of course there is no reason why you shouldn’t wear them.
PICKWICK.  I imagine not, sir.  I imagine not.
(TUPMAN and SNODGRASS exchange a look and try not to laugh.)
TUPMAN.  They are a very pretty pattern, aren’t they, Snodgrass?
SNODGRASS.  Quite comely, yes!  No… exquisite.  No … I have it: picturesque!
PICKWICK. (Losing his patience.)  I hope they are.  You see nothing extraordinary in these stockings, as stockings, I trust?
TUPMAN.  Certainly not.
SNODGRASS.  Most certainly not.  (TUPMAN and SNODGRASS quickly step away as PICKWICK looks with suspicion after them.)
WARDLE. (Approaching PICKWICK.)  Pickwick, you look splendid, old man, splendid!  I believe my mother has been waiting for you over there.  (A general call.)  Partners, ladies and gentlemen!  Take your partners for the next dance!
(COUPLES appear and PICKWICK takes his place beside WIDOW.  Music.  A stately dance begins.  EMILY suddenly steps away from SNODGRASS.)
EMILY.  Wait!  Stop!  Stop!
(Music grinds to a halt.)
PICKWICK.  What’s the matter?
WIDOW.  What’s the matter?
EMILY.  Where’s Arabella Allen?
SNODGRASS.  Yes, and where’s Nathaniel Winkle?
(General calls for ARABELLA and WINKLE, who rapidly enter, blushing.)
WINKLE.  Here we are!  Here we are!
PICKWICK.  (Pettishly.)  What an extraordinary thing it is, Winkle, that you could not have taken your place before.
WINKLE.  Extraordinary?  (Gazing fondly at ARABELLA, who returns the look.)  Not at all.  Quite natural.
PICKWICK.  What?  (Suddenly noticing the two in love.  He smiles.)  Oh, I see!  Well, well – I don’t know that it was extraordinary, either, after all.
WIDOW.  Well?  Are we to dance or stand about all night?  What’s it to be?
WARDLE.  Yes, Mother.  Places if you please, places!  Let us begin anew.  Now!
(Music resumes.  PICKWICK, WINKLE, and ARABELLA take their places and dance.  After a while, the lights and music change – a jump in time.  A more exuberant country dance this time, which develops into the entire party forming a chain, weaving in and out of the stately columns which dominate the setting.  Another shift in light and TRUNDLE and ISABEL burst through the happy group.)
TRUNDLE. (In midsentence.) …when I say, with the utmost sincerity, that Miss Wardle … I mean, Mrs. Trundle and I, shall ever cherish this day and the dear loved ones ever in our hearts whom we now, regretfully, bid goodnight.
VARIOUS. Goodnight?! Ohhh… (TRUNDLE eagerly leads ISABEL off, tripping as he does so.)  Goodnight!  Goodnight!  (The wedding couple are gone.  Music resumes.)
PICKWICK.  Come, then!  Who’s with me?  Come – it’s the Merry Sailor’s Jig!  (He begins to hop about, beckoning WIDOW to join him.)
WIDOW.  No, no!  Much too old a creetur am I!
(A SERVANT appears with her armchair and WIDOW sits.  VICAR’S WIFE volunteers to partner PICKWICK but soon falls down, too drunk to dance.  ARABELLA takes PICKWICK’s hand and the two lead the more able-bodied members of the party in a new dance.  The dance builds until all drop out from mirth and exhaustion and PICKWICK again is dancing alone, wildly.  GROUP laughs and applauds him as music swells and lights fade to Blackout.)

Scene Nine.

(Light of late afternoon rises on ballroom.  It is empty except for SAM and EMMA, seated on floor, cleaning silverware, while JOE is slouched, asleep, at base of pillar.)

SAM.  Awful quiet about the house, ain’t it, for a Christmas Eve?
EMMA.  Not often that there’s a wedding the day before, Mister Weller.  Guests been in bed the whole day long, most of ‘em: nursin’ their heads and feet from too much merrymaking.
SAM.  True enough.  My Mister Pickvick didn’t vake up ‘til afternoon tea.  And all he could manage was toasted bread and cheese.  ‘E just lay in his bed, vonderin’ how many people he inwited to stay vith us if ever they came up to London.
EMMA.  And how many people was that, Mister Weller?
SAM.  Oh, I reckon it were about thirty-five.  (They share a warm chuckle.)
EMMA.  Oh, well – they’ll all be down and back at it in no time, I’ll wager.  There’s games in the kitchen tonight.
SAM.  Games?
EMMA.  Yes, Mister Weller.  Always, on Christmas Eve, the family and servants have games together: snap-dragon, blind-man’s buff… and the mistletoe, naturally.
SAM.  Mistletoe, Emma?
EMMA.  A custom we have in the country, Mister Weller.  Surely you’ve heard of it.
SAM.  Vhy don’t you remind me.
EMMA.  Mister Weller, you’re a tease, you are.  You know very well mistletoe’s a branch and people kiss beneath it.
SAM.  Kiss, do they?  Vhat for?
EMMA.  Well, how should I know what for?  (They look at one another.  Pause.  SAM quickly kisses her.)  It’s… it’s what they call… a tradition.
SAM.  And a right fine tradition it is, too!  Merry Christmas, Emma, my girl!
(SAM and EMMA kiss again as JOE wakes and looks at them, mouth agape and eyes bulging.  Lights fade.)

Scene Ten.

(With shrieks and laughter, YOUNG LADIES swarm onto stage as WARDLE is seen pulling a rope which raises a branch of mistletoe above them. As he secures rope to side of fireplace,  lights slowly spill out to reveal kitchen, with tables, chairs and an enormous stone hearth and chimney, glowing with logs on the fire. YOUNG LADIES disperse to reveal TUPMAN beneath the branch, but not at all happy as he sees SAM and EMMA share a kiss at other side of room.  He steps away to help himself to a mug of wassail and stand, morose and alone, by the fireplace.  As YOUNG MEN and YOUNG WOMEN rush about, PICKWICK solemnly and courteously leads WIDOW beneath the mistletoe and gives her a kiss on the cheek with great decorum.  Following PICKWICK’s example come TRUNDLE and ISABEL, SNODGRASS and EMILY, WINKLE and ARABELLA, VICAR and VICAR’s WIFE, then POOR RELATIONS, followed by SERVANTS.)

WARDLE.  (Concerned, quickly steps to PICKWICK.)  Beg pardon, Pickwick.
PICKWICK.  What is it, old friend?  (WARDLE nods his head toward TUPMAN.)  Tupman?  What?  Now that won’t do at all, not on Christmas Eve!  (PICKWICK steps toward TUPMAN.  Jovial.)  Tracy Tupman!  You stand idle, when here’s a roomful of ladies to be kissed?!  Go to, man -- go to -- they can’t refuse!
TUPMAN. (A look at SAM and EMMA.)  Oh, can’t they?
ARABELLA.  Mister Tupman?  Please do excuse us a moment, won’t you?  Come along, Mister Pickwick!
YOUNG LADIES.  Yes!  Yes!  Dear Mister Pickwick!
(YOUNG LADIES drag PICKWICK under mistletoe and smother him with kisses to the delight and laughter of all but TUPMAN.  Then a scarf is wrapped around PICKWICK’s eyes and all scatter about the room, calling and squealing.  PICKWICK finally catches JOE.)
SNODGRASS.  Who is it, Mister Pickwick?
EMILY.  Can you guess?
PICKWICK.  (Hands roaming.) It’s…it’s… my, it’s a rather plump stomach, isn’t it?
WINKLE.  It couldn’t be more obvious now, could it?
PICKWICK.  Well, I know it isn’t me.  Is it… Tupm …?  No!  Wait… (His hands have reached JOE’s mouth.)  It’s Joe!
(Applause as PICKWICK removes the scarf.)
JOE.  But how did you guess?
PICKWICK.  Pie, boy.  Yesterday’s mincemeat still about your mouth.  Sticky.  (WARDLE laughs and hands PICKWICK a mug of wassail as EMMA takes a wet cloth from a bucket beside the fireplace to wipe JOE’s face.) Thank you, Wardle. (PICKWICK takes a sip and the two elderly men stand side by side observing the new game of blind man’s buff which has started in quiet and “slow-motion.”  Music.  PICKWICK sighs in satisfaction.)  I must say, my old friend, that this – this is, indeed, comfort!
WARDLE.  Our custom, Pickwick.  Everyone together on Christmas Eve, as you see them now.  And here we wait ‘til the clock strikes twelve, to usher Christmas in, whiling away the time with games and stories and carols.  Now that’s a thought!
(A call.  Lights and action resumes “real time.”)  Come!  A song!  A Christmas song!
SNODGRASS.  I’ll give you one.
PICKWICK.  (Beaming with pride.)  Snodgrass?  You’ve a carol for us?
SNODGRASS.  In default of a better.
WARDLE.  By all means, lad – go to!  (Gesturing for GUESTS to fill their cups with wassail.  Music.)
Fill up!  Fill up all ‘round for Mister Snodgrass and his song!
SNODGRASS.  (Singing.)


WARDLE.  Now, that’s spring and summer.  Who’ll take autumn?  Isabel?
ISABEL.  Oh, no, Father.  I’m far too happy to sing of that cruel season.
EMMA.  Sam!  Sam Weller!
TUPMAN. (Stepping forward from shadows, forcefully.)  No!  No, I’ll give you autumn…
(Shared looks and murmurs of concern as TUPMAN withdraws again.  Music resumes its lighter tempo as SNODGRASS steps forward.)






(ALL raise mugs and congratulate themselves on the song.  Out of the contented chatter we hear a large rumbling of wind and three SERVANTS enter, shaking snow from their boots and rushing to fireside to warm themselves.)

SERVANT I (To WARDLE.) How it snows, sir!
PICKWICK.  Snows, does it?
SERVANT II.  Rough, cold night, sir.
SERVANT III.  And there’s a wind got up.
SERVANT I.  Makes the snow drift ‘cross the field like a cloud, thick an’ white.
WIDOW.  What does Jem say?  The chimney’s not on fire, is it?
WARDLE.  No, Mother.  There’s a snow and a great wind.  We should know that by the way it rumbles in the chimney.
WIDOW.  Ah, there was just such a wind, and just such a fall of snow a good many years back, I recollect.  It was a Christmas Eve then, too; and it was that very night your poor father first told us the story about old Gabriel Grub and the Goblins.
PICKWICK.  Story about who?
EMILY.  Gabriel Grub and the Goblins, Mister Pickwick.  It’s a story we share every Christmas Eve.
PICKWICK.  And will again tonight, I hope.
WARDLE.  Trundle, my son – rape up the fire and let us begin!
(TRUNDLE complies as ALL settle down for the storytelling.  Fire casts a somewhat eerie flow over the room.)
WARDLE.  In an old abbey town, down in this part of the country…
ALL.  A long, long while ago…
WARDLE.  There lived an old grave-digger by the name of…
ALL.  Gabriel Grub!
(A SERVANT hops up and grabs a fireplace poker, portraying GRUB with a shovel over his shoulder, to the delight of all.)
WIDOW.  Now, it’s a well-known fact that undertakers are of-times the very jolliest of folk, but this fellow Grub -- he was an ill-conditioned, cross-grained, nasty, morose, and lonely man.
VICAR’S WIFE.  Yes, lonely; because he would spend his time with no one but himself.  And any merry face as passed him by, old Grub would give back such a scowl that it was impossible to meet him without feeling the worse for having done so!
PICKWICKIANS (except for TUPMAN.)  Oh, my!
MARTHA.  Now, then – late one Christmas Eve…
ALL.  Gabriel Grub…
MARTHA.  …he took his spade and lighted his lantern and headed towards the old churchyard…
ALL.  …to dig a grave.
PICKWICK.  On Christmas Eve?!
ALL.  On Christmas Eve!
LIZZIE.  And as he wended his way up the ancient street, he saw the blazing light of the fires a-gleamin’ through the windows…
TRUNDLE.  And he heard the bright laughter and happy shouts of families making ready for Christmas…
VICAR.  But Gabriel Grub, oh, he was grim, and thought only of measles…
JENNY.  Scarlet fever…
SIDNEY.  Whooping cough…
EMMA.  And a good many other wicked things, too!
TRUNDLE.  As he neared the graveyard…
SALLY.  A gloomy, mournful place…
EMILY.  He was surprised to hear a young voice shouting out a Christmas song…
ALL.  A boy.
(YOUNG BOY hops up and hums on his way past SERVANT playing Grub.)
EMILY.  So that Gabriel Grub, he waited ‘til the child drew near…
HENRY.  Then leaped out and hit him over the head with his lantern!
SIDNEY.  That’ll teach him to keep his voice down!
(YOUNG BOY runs back to his place within the group.)
ALL.  On Christmas Eve!
WARDLE.  Then, chuckling very heartily to himself, Gabriel Grub entered the churchyard, set down his lantern, lifted his spade, and begin to dig a grave.
ALL.  He began to dig a grave!
(A burst of smoke from the fireplace and GROUP disperses to the edges, revealing the image of GABRIEL GRUB within the fireplace flames, digging a grave among silhouettes of tombstones.  Music.)
JOE. (Singing, as GABRIEL digs with his spade.)
GABRIEL.  (Laughing to himself.)  Ha, ho!  A coffin at Christmas!  A little Christmas box!  Ha, ha, ho!
GOBLIN.  (Unseen.)  Ha!  Ha!  Ho!
GABRIEL.  What’s that?!  Who goes there?  (Gust of wind.)  No one.  Only just an echo.
GOBLIN.  Echo?  Echo?  No, no echo!  (GOBLIN appears on tombstone as GABRIEL shrieks in horror.)  Ha, ha, ho!  Why are you here on Christmas Eve?
GABRIEL.  I… I came to make a grave, sir.
GOBLIN.  A grave?  And who makes graves on a night when all others make merry?
GOBLIN CHORUS. (Unseen.) Gabriel Grub!  Gabriel Grub!
GOBLIN.  So then who is our fair and lawful prize?
GOBLIN CHORUS.  Gabriel Grub!  Gabriel Grub!
GABRIEL.  I… I… I am afraid I must leave you now, sir.
GOBLIN.  Leave us?  Gabriel Grub going to leave us!  Ho! Ho!
(Peals of pipe organ and OTHER GOBLINS appear, leaping about the tombstones and surrounding GABRIEL, who quakes in terror.)
GABRIEL.  No!  No!  What do you want with me?
GOBLIN.  Want?  Want, Gabriel Grub?  We want only to know how a man such as you could spend Christmas Eve in a grave.  How a man such as you could strike a child in envious malice of heart.  How a man such as you can be so miserable – you, Gabriel Grub!
GOBLIN CHORUS. (Sorrowfully.) Gabriel Grub.  Gabriel Grub.
WARDLE.  And with that, the Goblin conjured visions up before the miserable old man’s eyes…
LIZZIE.  The vision of a poor family, huddled close round a tiny fire, with nothing to eat for Christmas, but with love in abundance to share.
MARTHA.  The vision of a tiny child who lay dying, cheeks pale and cold, but with a smile on its face in the hope of a bright, happy Heaven.
VICAR.  Visions.  Of so many people who have so very little, but are content with little more than the sunrise at dawn which brings another day of life.
GOBLIN.  You a miserable man?  You, Gabriel Grub?
WIDOW.  Many a vision went and came, and Grub, he soon learned that those who snarled at the joy in others were the foulest of weeds among many a flower which dwelt on the earth.
(Head bowed in shame, GABRIEL slowly sinks to his knees in repentance.  General lighting begins to fade out.)
WARDLE.  And, at that, the old gravedigger fell deep in sleep.
All the goblins and visions, they faded away.
And when Gabriel woke from the grave the next morn
He gave praise to the Lord he could greet Christmas Day!

(Isolated spot on TUPMAN staring at image of GABRIEL, kneeling, within the faltering fire.  Blackout.  Sound of church bells crescendo through shift.)

Scene Eleven.

(Christmas morning.  Kitchen.  BOB SAWYER and BEN ALLEN sitting at a small table, legs up, eating oysters and drinking brandy while TUPMAN observes.  JOE is seated on a stool, asleep.)
BEN.  (After tossing an oyster shell at JOE.)  Oyster, Tupman?
(TUPMAN smiles and shakes his head, “no.”)  Peg away, Bob!
BOB.  So I do, Ben; so I do!  (BOB tosses his shell and the two laugh like hyenas.  PICKWICK enters.)
PICKWICK.  I thought I heard laughter.  Just the thing on Christmas morning.
TUPMAN. (Greeting PICKWICK with a warm clap on the back.) Oh, good morning, dear Mister Pickwick!  And a Merry Christmas, too!
PICKWICK. (Happily surprised.) Well, yes, I must agree!  Back to your old, jolly self, eh, Tupman?
TUPMAN.  Feel like a new man.  Just like Gabriel Grub, I’d say.
BEN.  So they told that quaint old story again last night, did they?
PICKWICK. Sir?  I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure…
TUPMAN. (Introductions.)  Samuel Pickwick, Miss Allen’s brother, Benjamin Allen.
BEN. (He and BOB rising from their chairs.) Just call me Ben.
TUPMAN.  And his very particular friend, Mister…
BEN.  Mister Bob Sawyer.  He’s going to marry my sister Arabella.
BEN.  Well, she doesn’t know it yet, but it’s bound to happen if I have anything to say about it, eh, Bob?
(The two laugh in concert again, then sit down and resume eating.)
BEN.  Brandy, Mister Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  Thank you, I will.
BEN. (Offering a plate to BOB.)  Partridge, Bob?
BOB. (Accepting.)  Thank’ee, Ben.  Nothing like dissecting, to give one an appetite, eh?
PICKWICK.  I beg your pardon?
TUPMAN. (As BOB saws roughly at partridge with knife.)  The young gentlemen are medical students, Mister Pickwick.
PICKWICK.  Oh.  Glad to hear of it.  Good, liberal profession.
BEN.  Bye the bye, Bob – have you finished that leg you’ve been working on yet?
BOB.  Nearly.  It’s a very muscular one for a child’s.
(BOB pulls at the partridge meat savagely with his teeth.)
BEN.  Is it?
BOB.  (Mouth full.)  Very.
BEN.  I’ve just put my name down for an arm, at school.  The list is nearly full, only we can’t get hold of any fellow that wants a head.  I wish you’d take it, Bob.
BOB.  No, Ben.  Can’t afford expensive luxuries.
BEN.  Nonsense!
BOB.  Can’t indeed.  Wouldn’t mind a brain, but couldn’t possibly afford a whole head. 
(Sound of approaching voices.)
PICKWICK.  (Who had been growing increasingly appalled at the conversation.)  Hush!  Hush, gentlemen, pray!
BEN.  What for?
PICKWICK.  I hear ladies.
(WARDLE, SNODGRASS, WINKLE, EMILY, ARABELLA, SAM and EMMA enter.  ARABELLA sees her brother and gasps.)
ARABELLA.  Lor!  Ben!
WINKLE.  “Ben?”
BEN.  Morning, sister.  Come to escort you home tomorrow.
WINKLE.  (Turning pale, looking at ARABELLA.)  Home?
BEN. (Reproaching.)  Arabella, don’t you see Bob here?
WINKLE.  “Bob?”
BOB.  (Taking ARABELLA’s hand, kissing it.) Dear Miss Allen!
(WINKLE gasps with hatred toward BOB.  ARABELLA blushes and withdraws her hand from BOB’s mouth.)
EMILY. (To the rescue.) Father, I’m afraid we’ll be late for church if we’re not off straightway.
WARDLE.  Sensible Emily, as ever.  Gentlemen, shall we?  And after lunch, what say you all to an hour on the ice-pond?
BEN.  Capital!
BOB.  Prime!
WARDLE.  You, Winkle – no doubt you’re quite a skater, what?
WINKLE.  Ye – yes; oh, yes.  But I – I – I am rather out of practice.
ARABELLA.  Oh, do skate, Nathaniel.  I mean, Mister Winkle.  I should like to see it so much.
EMILY.  Oh, yes!  Skating is so graceful.
SNODGRASS.  Elegant.  Swan-like.
WINKLE. (A glare at SNODGRASS.)  I should be happy to oblige, I’m sure, but… but I brought no skates!
WARDLE.  Not to worry.  We’ve at least half-a-dozen pair in the cellar.
WINKLE.  (Smiling through gritted teeth.) Oh, Merry…Christmas!
(ALL echo the sentiment.)
WARDLE.  Shall we be off to the church, then, Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  Lead on, Wardle!
(BOB and WINKLE simultaneously lurch for ARABELLA’s arm, but ARABELLA takes the arm of her brother BEN instead.  ALL exit except SAM, EMMA, JOE, and TUPMAN, who lingers behind.)
TUPMAN.  Sam?  Emma?
SAM & EMMA.  Mister Tupman?
TUPMAN.  (Handing each a gold coin.)  Only a little something for your Christmas boxes.
EMMA.  Lor!  A whole guinea!
SAM.  Oh, sir, you’re far too gen’rous!
TUPMAN.  Not at all.  (He turns to leave.) 
EMMA.  (Rushing to TUPMAN.)  Mister Tupman?  (He halts; she kisses him on the cheek.)  It’s all I have, but I give it to you willingly.  Merry Christmas, Mister Tupman.  (TUPMAN smiles and exits.  EMMA starts to clean up the  medical students’ debris as she speaks to SAM.)  Your master and his friends –some fine gentlemen, they are!
SAM.  You said it, Emma.  But I’m a bit vorried ‘bout that Mister Vinkle.
EMMA.  Worried?  Why, Sam?
SAM.  Vell, if you asks me, I’ve a feelin’ Mister Vinkle don’t know no more ‘bout skatin’ than a Hindoo!  (EMMA giggles and SAM moves to JOE and rouses him from his sleep.)  Vell, come on, young dropsy, vake up!  Ve’ve got to get down to the ice-pond and clear avay the snow.  There’s to be a skating party!
(EMMA hands SAM and JOE each a broom and a scarf.  Snow falls and scene changes as SAM and JOE begin sweeping.)

Scene Twelve. 

(SAM and JOE continue sweeping as other SERVANTS assist in scene shift: ground cloth is pulled upstage to reveal ice-pond; snowbanks roll in, a huge ice slide, trees and a backdrop of the farm and town of Muggleton in the distance.  Lights reveal three or four YOUNG MEN, BOB SAWYER, and BEN ALLEN skating as two or three BOYS slide down the ice slide.  PICKWICK, WARDLE, SNODGRASS, EMILY, TUPMAN, ARABELLA, ISABEL, and TRUNDLE appear upstage where a few YOUNG LADIES have already gathered to watch the activity on the ice.)

TUPMAN. (Spying WINKLE, who clings to SAM.)  Look, Mister Pickwick!  There’s Winkle!
SNODGRASS.  Bravo, Winkle!
(GROUP applauds and ARABELLA throws a kiss.  WINKLE and SAM slowly, awkwardly, progress.)
WINKLE.  Stop, Sam, stop!  (SAM obliges.)  How very slippery it is, Sam!
SAM.  Not an uncommon thing, sir, since it is ice after all.
(WINKLE starts to slip backwards and almost dashes his head on the ice.)  Hold up, Mister Vinkle!  Hold up!
WINKLE. These… these… these are very awkward skates, aren’t they, Sam?
SAM.  I’m afeerd there’s a wery orkard gen’lm’n in ‘em, sir.
PICKWICK. (Stepping cautiously onto the ice toward WINKLE.)  Winkle, come – the ladies are all anxiety!
WINKLE.  (A ghastly grimace.)  Yes, yes!
SAM.  Just a-goin’ to begin… (SAM tries to disengage himself and give WINKLE a push.)  Now, sir, start off!
(WINKLE shrieks, then giggles in terror as he clutches SAM again in what appears to be deep affection.) 
WINKLE. Wait, Sam!  I’ve just remembered that I’ve got a couple of coats at home that I don’t want anymore, Sam.  You may have them, Sam.
SAM.  Thank’ee, sir.
WINKLE.  (Hastily.)  Never mind touching your hat, Sam!  You needn’t take your hand away to do that!  I… I… I also meant to give you five shillings for your Christmas-box, Sam.  I’ll give it to you later, Sam.
SAM.  You’re wery good, sir.  Mister Tupman already gave a guinea this mornin’.
WINKLE.  All right, then, a guinea!  Only, please, just hold me at first, Sam, will you?  (They cautiously start to move.)  There… that’s right… (A smile begins to cross WINKLE’s face.) …Why, I think I shall soon get in the way of this, Sam!  (ONLOOKERS applaud again and SAM begins to move WINKLE faster.)  Not too fast, Sam!  Not too fast!
(WINKLE carrens wildly around the ice, trying to keep a grip on SAM’s hand.  At the same time, BOB and BEN are performing beautiful pirouettes and flourishes.  WINKLE collides into BOB and they both fall to the ice.  BOB slowly picks himself up as ONLOOKERS lean forward in concern.)
ARABELLA.  Oh, dear!  Is he hurt?  (To BEN.)  Oh, Ben – say that he’s all right!
BEN. (To BOB.) My sister seems rather concerned about you, Bob.
BOB. (A grin.) Is she? (Waving to ARABELLA.) Never better, dear lady!
ARABELLA.  Not you, sir!  Mister Winkle!
BEN & BOB.  Mister Winkle?!
WINKLE. (Rubbing his back and waving weaklyHe squeaks his words, since the wind had been knocked out of him.)  I’m fine!  I’m fine!
BEN. (A dark look.) Are you quite sure, Mister Winkle?  I think you ought to let us bleed you, just to be safe, eh, Bob?
BOB.  I agree, Ben.  And ain’t it a stroke o’ luck, I’ve a knife right here in my coatpocket. 
WINKLE.  No!  No, thank you!
BEN.  I really think we ought.
WINKLE.  But I’d really rather you did not.
(PICKWICK, excited and indignant, has reached WINKLE.)
PICKWICK.  (To SAM.)  Remove the man’s skates.
WINKLE.  But…no…Mister Pickwick, really, I…I had scarcely begun.
PICKWICK.  Sam.  Get Mister Winkle over onto the bank and take off his skates before he kills someone.  (WINKLE allows SAM to lift him up.  PICKWICK takes one arm and SAM the other.  PICKWICK speaks to WINKLE in a low, emphatic tone so no one else will hear.)  You are a humbug, sir.
WINKLE.  A what?!
PICKWICK.  A humbug!  I will speak plainer, if you wish it.  An imposter.  Sportsman, indeed!  (Having reached the bank, PICKWICK drops WINKLE’s arm and slowly turns to rejoin WARDLE.)
WINKLE.  (Dismissing SAM.) Thank you, Sam.  I can manage alone.
ARABELLA.  Nathaniel!  You’re all right!
WINKLE. (Unlacing his skates.) No, I’m not, Arabella.  Mister Pickwick is quite right.  I am an imposter.  I imagine now that I’ll be dismissed from The Pickwick Club.
TUPMAN.  Dismissed?  Whatever for?
WINKLE.  All along I’ve said that I was a sportsman, and I’m not, now am I?
TUPMAN.  Not in the slightest, my friend.  But, Winkle, have I demonstrated any great success in romance?  No.
SNODGRASS.  And I, Winkle – am I an accomplished poet?  Not a single line ever published.  Dismissed from The Pickwick Club, indeed!
EMILY.  It appears, Mister Winkle, that your Mister Pickwick cares for each of you as yourselves; not for what you profess to be.
ARABELLA.  Just as I do.
WINKLE.  Do what?
ARABELLA.  Care for you, Mister Winkle.
(Behind them, WARDLE appears at the top of the ice slide and descends with a whoop.  WARDLE stands and calls to PICKWICK.)
WARDLE.  Will you try it, Pickwick?
PICKWICK.  Oh, no, I couldn’t…
YOUNG LADIES.  Oh, do, please, Mister Pickwick!
PICKWICK.  Now, now – I should be very happy to afford you any amusement, but I haven’t done such a thing for thirty years.
WARDLE.  Then it’s been far too long.  Come, we’ll keep you company.
PICKWICK.  (A deep breath.) Very well, then.  I will!  (Calling.)  Tupman!  Snodgrass!  Winkle!  Come Pickwickians – to the slide!
(PICKWICKIANS, as well as TRUNDLE, WARDLE, JOE and SAM form a line behind PICKWICK at the top of slide.  After a couple of false starts, PICKWICK slowly and gravely descends the slide to the cheers and applause of all.  PICKWICK smiles.)
SAM.  Come on, Mister Pickvick!  Keep the pot a-bilin’, sir!
(PICKWICK rushes back in line to try it again.  Sliding accelerates until PICKWICK’s turn occurs again.  He slides, covers several feet, still standing, on the ice, then suddenly falls onto his rump.  ALL freeze at the sound of a sharp crack.
PICKWICK disappears through a hole in the ice.  YOUNG LADIES scream, faint, etc.)
TUPMAN.  (Panicked.)  Uh… uh… Fire!  Fire!  Fire! (He races offstage screaming at the top of his lungs while WARDLE and SAM work their way on their bellies to the hole in the ice.)
WARDLE.  Easy there, Sam!  No, Joe – stay back!
EMILY.  Mister Sawyer!  Ben Allen!  Quick see to the ladies!
(PICKWICK’s head and shoulders appear through the ice.)
SAM.  Mister Pickvick!
SNODGRASS.  Keep yourself up a moment – for only one moment!
WINKLE.  Oh, yes, please do!  I implore you!  For my sake!
WARDLE.  Can you touch bottom there, old fellow?
PICKWICK. (Gasping.) Yes.  Pond seems to be only just three feet deep here.
WARDLE. (Bursts into laughter.)  Of course!  I’d forgotten!
PICKWICK. (As SAM, WARDLE, and TRUNDLE help him up and out.) Fell on my back.  Couldn’t get up at first.
EMILY.  Oh, he’ll catch a cold!
ARABELLA.  Dear old thing!
ISABEL.  Let me wrap my shawl ‘round you, Mister Pickwick!
WARDLE.  Now, off with you, Pickwick!  Run home as fast as your legs can carry you!
(PICKWICK trots upstage and off.  Lights alter and scene begins shift.)
BOB SAWYER (Assuming his previous role as NARRATOR.)  And run he did…
SAM.  (Following PICKWICK.)  Vith Sam Veller close behind…
(SAM is followed closely by SNODGRASS and WINKLE.)
WARDLE.  …at the rate of six good English miles an hour…
ARABELLA.  …until he reached the door of Manor Farm…
TRUNDLE.  …where Mister Tupman had arrived some five minutes before…
ISABEL. …frightening the poor old Widow Wardle into palpitations of the heart…
EMILY.  …by impressing her with the unalterable conviction that the kitchen chimney was, indeed…
ALL.  … on fire!
(They chuckle and exit in a group as lights fade.)


(Lights rise on PICKWICK in his bed, as at the beginning of the play.  SNODGRASS, WINKLE, TUPMAN and SAM are gathered around PICKWICK.)

NARRATOR.  Mister Pickwick paused not an instant until he was snug in bed.  Old Wardle would not hear of his rising, so Emma took up his dinner and soon after a bowl of hot punch was carried in, and they all gathered around Mister Pickwick in his room to spend the final moments of Christmas together.
PICKWICK.  My friends, I feel a perfect fool.
WINKLE.  A fool, Mister Pickwick?  You?
TUPMAN.  Could have happened to anyone.
SNODGRASS.  We must be grateful that you are safe and well.
PICKWICK.  But I fear I’ve ruined your Christmas.
(CAST begins to drift onstage, in their turn, as if in a dream.)
EMILY.  Silly old Mister Pickwick!  We’re together, are we not?
TRUNDLE.  That’s all that matters on Christmas.
WARDLE.  Yes, and what’s more, you’ve given Mother here a most capital new story to tell.  Hasn’t he, Mother?
WIDOW.  A mishap worthy of none other than the great Lady Tollimglower herself!
NARRATOR.  (As CAST continues to enter the scene below PICKWICK in his bed.)  And the story would be told, year after year.  As for me, that Christmas was only the beginning of a happy association with Mister Pickwick and friends, while signaling the end to any hopes on my part regarding a certain Miss Arabella Allen.  Ah, well.  To make friends, and lose them, is but the course of nature.  And quite another story altogether.
SAM.  Vill you ‘ave some more Christmas punch, Mister Pickvick?
BEN.  It’ll prevent any rheumatism from setting in, won’t it, Bob?
NARRATOR.  Never known it to fail!  (To AUDIENCE.)  That is, unless one makes the vulgar mistake of not having enough.
(With gentle laughter, the punch bowl is passed among the assembled FULL CAST.  Music.)
Yes, this is how we like to remember our Mister Pickwick: the center of a merry and joyous circle.  And though many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat…
VICAR’S WIFE.  And many of the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow…
COACH GUARD.  The hands we grasped, have grown cold…
LIZZIE.  And the eyes we sought, have hid their luster in the grave…
NARRATOR.  Still, the old house, the room, the cheerful voices and smiling faces, crowd upon our mind at each recurrence of the season…  (He sings.)


NARRATOR.  Oh, happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days, that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the boys and girls scattered far and wide back to Dingley Dell again: together in love, good-will, and joyous harmony!



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