ACT I, SCENE I
(THE SCENE OPENS BEFORE THE SET OF AN OLD CHURCH. IT IS DARK AND GHOSTLY. THE CHURCH, WITH ITS' HUGE DOORS AND DARK COBBLESTONES, IS CENTER. ON EITHER SIDE OF THE CHURCH STRUCTURE ARE ALLEYWAYS. FLANKING THE CHURCH ARE THE FACADES OF WEALTHY HOMES. STAGE RIGHT OF THE CHURCH IS THE HOME OF ALDERMAN CUTE, THERE ARE STEPS LEADING UP TO THE DOOR. THESE ARE THE ONLY STEPS IN VIEW.) (IT IS VERY COLD. WE HEAR THE SOUND OF THE WIND WHISTLING. IT HOWLS AND SCREECHES AS IT PASSES. WE HEAR THE SOUNDS OF THE CHURCH CHIMES; THEY ARE PLAYING ALMOST FAMILIAR CHRISTMAS TUNES. THE VOICE OF THE HEAD GOBLIN OF THE CHIMES FLOATS OVER THE AUDIENCE.)
HEAD GOBLIN "High up in the steeple of the old church, far above the light and murmur of the town, and far below the flying clouds that shadow it, lies a wild and dreary place; and high up in the steeple of the old church dwell the chimes I tell of." "They had clear, loud, lusty voices, had these bells. They would pour their cheerful notes into a listening ear right royally, and had been known to beat a blustering nor'wester 'all to fits,' as Toby Veck said." "And I take my stand by Toby Veck, for he knew them well. He would stand all day long just outside the church door. In fact, he was a messenger, Toby Veck, and waited there for jobs,…"
(WHILE THE VOICEOVER IS IN PROCESS THE LIGHTS SLOWLY INCREASE IN INTENSITY. WE SEE THE FIGURE OF TOBY ("TROTTY") VECK, JOGGING UP AND DOWN IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH. THERE IS THE SOUND OF THE CHIMES RINGING IN THE DAY-MEAL [NOON].)
TOBY "Dinner-time, eh!"
(HE IS TROTTING UP AND DOWN BEFORE THE CHURCH.)
"Dinner-time, eh! Ahhhh, …"
(HE TAKES A SILENT TROT FOR A MINUTE OR TWO, THEN HE RESUMES HIS RAMBLING.)
"There's nothing, …"
(SUDDENLY HE FEELS HIS NOSE CAREFULLY, WITH SOME AGITATION, ALL THE WAY UP.)
"I thought it was gone. It's all right, however. I am sure I couldn't blame it if it was to go. It has a precious hard service of it in the bitter weather. It's a good deal tried, poor creetur, at the best of times; for when it does get hold of a pleasant whiff or so (which ain't too often), it's generally from somebody else's dinner, a-coming home from the baker's."
"There's nothing more regular in its coming round than dinner-time, and nothing less regular in its coming round than dinner. That's the great difference between `em. It's took me a long time to find it out. I wonder whether it would be worth any gentleman's while, now, to buy that obserwation for the Papers; or the Parliament! Why Lord, the Papers is full of obserwations as it is; and so's the Parliament. Here's last week's paper, now;"
(HE TAKES A VERY DIRTY ONE FROM HIS POCKET, AND HOLDING IT AT ARM'S LENGTH, …)
" … full of obserwations -- full of obserwations! I like to know the news as well as any man, but it almost goes against the grain with me to read a paper now. It frightens me almost. I don't know what we poor people are coming to."
(ENTER TOBY's DAUGHTER MEG CARRYING A LARGE HAMPER-STYLE BASKET )
TOBY "It says here the poor can't go right, or do right, or be righted. I hadn't much schooling, myself, when I was young; and I can't make out whether we have any business on the face of the earth, or not. Sometimes I think we must have a little; and sometimes I think we must be intruding."
(SLOWLY FOLDING THE PAPER AND PUTTING IT IN HIS POCKET AGAIN.)
"I get so puzzled sometimes that I am not even able to make up my mind whether there is any good at all in us, or whether we are born bad. We seem to be dreadful things; we seem to give a great deal of trouble; we are always being complained of and guarded against. One way or other, we fill the papers."
"Talk of a New Year! I can bear up as well as another man at most times; for I am as strong as a lion, and all men ain't; but supposing it should really be that we have no right to a New Year, supposing we really are intruding, …"
(MEG BALANCES HER HAMPER CAREFULLY FOR IT CONTAINS HOT FOOD. SHE SMILES AS SHE WATCHES TOBY, ENGAGED IN HIS IMAGINARY DEBATE.
MEG "Why, father, father!"
TOBY (He turns and sees her. To audience.) "I think we have some business here -- a little." (To Meg.) "Why, Pet, what's to do? I didn't expect you today, Meg."
MEG "Neither did I expect to come, father, but here I am! And not alone; not alone!"
ACT II, SCENE VI
(WE SEE MEG WALKING TOWARD THE DOOR OF THE SHOP HOLDING HER BABY CLOSE, IT IS VERY COLD. MEG TURNS TO ENTER THE SHOP. MR. TUGSBY IS STANDING AT THE DOOR BLOCKING HER PASSAGE.)
TUGSBY (Quietly.) "Oh, you have come back? Don't you think you have lived here long enough without paying any rent? Don't you think that, without any money, you've been a pretty constant customer at this shop, now? Suppose you try and deal somewhere else, and suppose you provide yourself with another lodging. Come! Don't you think you could manage it?"
MEG "It's very late. I'll look again tomorrow."
TUGSBY "Now I see what you want, and what you mean. You know there are two parties in this house about you, and you delight in hearing us quarrel. I don't want any quarrels; I'm speaking softly to avoid a quarrel; but if you don't go away, I'll speak out loud, and you shall cause words angry enough to please you. But you shan't come in. That I am determined."
"This is the last night of an Old Year, and I won't carry ill-blood and quarreling into a New One, to please you nor anybody else. I wonder you ain't ashamed of yourself. If you haven't any business in the world but to be always making disturbances between man and wife, you'd be better out of it. Go along with you."
(TOBY TRIES TO PUT HIMSELF IN TUGSBY'S PATH.)
TOBY (To Tugsby) "You can't do this. Mrs. Chickenstalker won't have it. She said so." (To Meg.) "Meg, don't listen to him. Call out to her, she'll help you."
(TUGSBY HANDS MEG A SMALL BUNDLE. SHE TURNS FROM THE STEPS AND RUNS INTO THE STREET.)
(Screaming) "No, Meg. Don't go. Don't run! Mrs. Chickenstalker! Mrs. Chickenstalker; please help. He's turning her out. Please!"
(THE WIND BLOWS. TOBY AND THE SPIRIT OF THE CHIMES TURN TO FOLLOW. TOBY TRIES TO HOLD HER BUT HE CANNOT TOUCH HER. SHE CRIES AS SHE RUNS:)
MEG "Father! Richard! Lilly! Oh, help me!"
(THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE STREET, THEY IGNORE HER. THE CHIMES ARE SOUNDING, SCREAMING DISCORD.)
SPIRIT OF THE CHIMES "Follow her! To desperation!"
TOBY "She loves it! Chimes, she loves it still!"
HEAD CHIME "Follow her!"
MEG "Like Lilian, to be changed like Lilian!"
(MEG APPROACHES THE PROMENADE OF THE BRIDGE.)
TOBY "I was her father, I was her father. Have mercy on her, and on me. Where does she go? Turn her back! I was her father!"
CHIMES "To desperation! Learn it from the creature dearest to your heart!"
MEG (Looking down on the baby.) "Like Lilian! To be changed like Lilian!"
TOBY "Now, turn her back! My child! Meg! Turn her back! Great Father, turn her back!"
(MEG PREPARES TO JUMP.)
(To the Spirit of the Chimes.) "I have learnt it! From the creature dearest to my heart! I have learnt it! Oh, save her, save her!"
(SUDDEN LIGHT CHANGE. MEG FREEZES. THE CHIMES SURROUND TOBY.)
"I have learnt it! Oh, have mercy on me in this hour, if, in my love for her, so young and good, I slandered Nature in the breasts of mothers rendered desperate!"
"Pity my presumption, wickedness, and ignorance, and save her. Have mercy on her."
"Think what her misery must have been, when such seed bears such fruit! Heaven meant her to be good. There is no loving mother on the earth who might not come to this, if such a life had gone before."
"Oh, have mercy on my child, who means mercy to her own, and dies herself, damning her immortal soul, to save her childs'!"
(DURING THIS SOLILOQUY THE SET CHANGES, TOBY WALKS AMONG THE SPIRITS AS WE RETURN TO TOBY'S HOUSE, BEFORE THE DREAM BEGAN.)
"I see the Great Spirit of the Chimes among you!"
(HE WALKS UP TO THE HEAD CHIME.)
"Oh, Spirit, I know now that we must trust and hope, and neither doubt ourselves, nor doubt the good in one another. I have learnt it from the creature dearest to my heart."
(HE SITS, AS IF EXHAUSTED.)
"Oh Spirits, merciful and good, I take your lesson to my breast. Oh Spirits, merciful and good, I am grateful!"
(ALL BUT TOBY EXIT. NOTE: AS THE SET CHANGE NEARS COMPLETION THE CHIMES BEGIN TO EXIT. THE FINAL CHIME TO LEAVE IS TOBY'S SPIRIT GUIDE, SHE CROSSES TO HIM AND KISSES HIM ON TOP OF HIS HEAD JUST BEFORE HER EXIT.)
Copyright 1992, 1995 and 2006, Lisa Kofod and Gay Reed. All rights reserved.