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 A Novelty Play

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CD Roberts
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Posts : 114
Join date : 2013-09-23

20131003
PostA Novelty Play


THE END OF ‘THE CASK’
By Duranty
Followed by
A NOVELTY PLAY





It is nighttime. We are in a saloon in a small western town. In front of a small stage with curtains on the side sit a group of children who frequently squeal with laughter. Punch and the Sorcerer are onstage next to a barrel and a crocodile .Various other puppets are on the side of the stage or on the floor.  Rain is punctuated with  occasional bursts of thunder and flashing bolts of lightening.

Hannibal Heyes stands in the back of the saloon holding a shot glass, watching in amusement. He is waiting for his friend, Kid Curry to join him.


PUNCH: I see it all now. You put the crocodile in the cask!

SORCERER: I put him there to eat you up!

PUN: Well, he ate up everybody except me.

SOR: Drat! I went wrong in my calculations.

PUN: If you don’t want anymore trouble, fish him out with your line.

SOR: Yes, but where is he?

PUN: (Showing him the crocodile, who enters with a ham in its teeth.) There he is! Still eating!

SOR: Tirbiri, didiboro, ron ton ton tee no to. (The crocodile bites Pun. The Sorcerer frees Pun. and captures the crocodile.) I’ve got him this time.

PUN: You wait here. I’m going to get a gallows and we’ll hang him. (He leaves.)

SOR: Good idea! Hurry Up!

PUN:  (With the gallows.) All right, hang him quick! (He leaves.)

PUN: Are you done? Have you finished?

SOR: Not yet.

PUN: You’re taking your time.

SOR: It’s done.

PUN: (Armed with a club.) Infamous crocodile! You wanted to eat me, and see! Now you are hanged! (He is going to hit the crocodile, but he hits the Sorcerer.)

SOR: Watch out, you cowardly idiot!

PUN: Those are high-sounding words.

SOR: You can drink now.

PUN: Yes, what’s to stop me now?

SOR: Not me. (He wraps the crocodile around the gallows and leaves.)

PUN: Now I will have fun!  (We hear the whistle of Old Nick, who appears with his pitchfork.)

OLD NICK: (He puts Pun. In the barrel and shoves it off stage.) And that for thieves and drunkards!

OLD NICK: (He bows to the audience as they applaud.)  But, wait! There is one more thief here! Mr. Hannibal Heyes.

HH: (He blinks, startled. The audience laughs as if this is part of the play. The corner of his mouth twitches.)  I think you’ve made a mistake. I’m not Hannibal Heyes.

OLD NICK: (He bows to HH.) You are Hannibal Heyes. I know you and your crimes. Thief! Robber!

HH: Well, I don’t know what you are talking about. My name is Joshua Smith.

OLD NICK:  No, you are Hannibal Heyes! Thief! Liar! Murderer!.

HH: Now I know you don’t know what you are talking about. Hannibal Heyes never killed a man in his life. That’s a well-known fact.

OLD NICK: (Waves his pitchfork.) What about this town?

HH: What about this town?

OLD NICK: (The audience freezes. They slowly fade as the dialog continues.) It’s dead. You murdered it.

HH: (Stands erect, stares warily.)  I don’t know what this is about, but I’ve never killed anybody in my life. And I’m not saying I’m Hannibal Heyes.

OLD NICK: You forgot this town? You robbed the bank seven years ago.

HH:( Shakes head from side to side) Ah…

OLD NICK: Yes! You remember. A small town, not much money, to you that is, but you ‘cleaned it out.’ You and your gang.

HH: So? What if we did? We didn’t kill anyone. Didn’t even shoot anyone.

OLD NICK: You took the town’s money.

HH: What about taking the town’s money? It was a robbery. The idea of a bank robbery is to take  money, last I heard, at any rate.

OLD NICK: But what happens to a small town without money? People leave. It starves. It dies!

HH: I find it hard to believe that one bank robbery could kill off an entire town.

OLD NICK: It had one bank only. All its money was there.

HH: Look, I’m sorry about that. Really sorry. I mean that. That’s why I don’t do that anymore. Me and my partner quit.  

OLD NICK: And that helps this town, in what manner?

HH: Maybe it doesn’t help this town, but we’re going straight. We don’t steal anymore. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can make sure we don’t rob anyone in the future.

OLD NICK: You repent your past ways. How does that help this town?

HH: Like I said, it doesn’t. Look, me and the Kid, we have to think about all those things we did in the past that we can’t make up for.

OLD NICK: So you quit robbing. How does that help this town?

HH: (Exasperated) I admitted it doesn’t help this town. That’s past.

OLD NICK: You want amnesty. You save your necks and don’t go to prison! How does that help this town?

HH: It doesn’t help this town. I know that. But we won’t hurt another town that way. And  maybe we were just trying to save our own necks at first. I’ll admit that. But its more than that, now.

OLD NICK: So that helps this town?  That is how you make amends?

HH: I didn’t say that. That’s not possible, not while we are wanted.

OLD NICK: So, you get your amnesty and you go back to everyone you robbed, and next?

HH: (Looks over his shoulder at the door, then back.) You, look, maybe we weren’t planning to go back to everyone, but we’re trying to do better. Me and the Kid.

OLD NICK: He isn’t behind you. He’s already been here.

HH: The Kid was here? We’re supposed to meet here. Where did he go?

OLD NICK: Go? He didn’t go anywhere.

HH: You’re not going to tell me, are you?

OLD NECK: A trade! You tell me how you were ‘planning to do better.’

HH: (Hangs head) We can’t find all those people now. OK,  I suppose it isn’t possible to make up for the things we did wrong.

OLD NICK: And you want to pay no price?

HH: I suppose…I think me and the Kid already paid a price, the way  we grew up and what happened to us. I  think that for two orphans whose families died violently and were left on their own we’ve come far.

OLD NICK:  You were the only orphans of the War Between the States?

HH: Now, you know I didn’t say that. But we were two young boys left on our own and we did our best.

OLD NICK: You had to steal? You had no choice?

HH:  (frowns) We had a choice. We were young, and it was easier to steal   We didn’t like to work hard. I’m not saying it was right.

OLD NICK: You are not saying you repent. I do not hear that!

HH: What do you want from me? What do you expect me to do now?

OLD NICK:  The people here worked hard. You took all they had. They suffered.

HH: Look, I do really feel sorry for them. But I don’t think that what they went through is the same as being left orphaned. Look, I’m not saying it’s an excuse. It’s just what life gave us.

OLD NICK: You don’t really feel sorry for them. If you did you would be willing to pay for what you did.

HH: You want me to turn myself in? To go to prison? And that helps this town, how?

OLD NICK: You don’t really repent. If you did you would know what to do and why you have to do it.

HH: (Purses lips.) You don’t know what I feel. I know what we did was wrong, but me and the Kid going to prison won’t change things.

OLD NICK: You said prison. I didn’t. You are selfish. You don’t really want to make amends. You don’t really repent.

HH: OK, you tell me, how do we really make amends?

OLD NICK: You either know or don’t know.

HH:(sarcastically) Well, I sure don’t know what you are talking about.

OLD NICK: Mary and Stephen Baker lived here. They worked themselves to death  trying to feed three young children and their baby. You took all they had saved. It was in the bank.

HH: (Swallows hard. Pauses.)  I—we—didn’t know that. That wasn’t meant to happen. We didn’t mean for that to happen. (Blinks eyes.)

OLD NICK: You talk like a child. ‘We’re sorry. We didn’t know.’

HH: (Angrily) Well, we didn’t know, did we?! And now, I suppose, you’re going to point out that even after all that suffering, none of their children grew up to become outlaws.

OLD NICK: As a matter of fact, they didn’t. Without their parents they starved to death. It’s just what life gave them. Or didn’t.

HH: (Winces.) . The town’s banker could have helped them out. Why didn’t he help them out?

OLD NICK: It was the banker’s fault?

HH: No. It wasn’t. I’m not saying that. But he could have helped them. They didn’t have to die. The town didn’t have to die. You can’t blame all that on me and the Kid.

OLD NICK:  Clyde Wentworth invested all he owned into his bank. He had no money to give the depositors. Maybe he could blame ‘all that’ on you and your friend.

HH: I didn’t, we didn’t know that. Me and the Kid, we didn’t think about that.

OLD NICK:  After the bank was robbed he was ruined. He went home and shot himself.

HH: (He’s genuinely shocked and horrified. But he is angry too. He pauses and tries to collect himself). Alright, we did wrong. You’re right. And I guess we weren’t really thinking about going back and making it all up. You’re right about that too. But we didn’t deliberately kill anyone. We didn’t think anyone was suffering.

OLD NICK: That’s true. You didn’t think.

HH: (Sharply)Who are you to judge?

OLD NICK: I don’t judge. I am Old Nick.

HH: I don’t mean who the puppet is. I have a right to know who I’m talking to. Who is accusing me.

HH: (Runs to the stage and pulls it down. There is no one behind it. Only puppets lie scattered about the floor. One is dressed as a cowboy and wears a brown hat.)

There is a flash of lightening.



Weeks later  we see a family traveling by wagon stop at the decrepit town. They walk slowly along the main street.

MOTHER: How sad. I wonder what sort of lives the people who lived here had, and why they left this poor old town.

DAUGHTER AGE EIGHT: (Looks through broken saloon window). Ooh, there are puppets in here! Can we have the puppets?

FATHER: Don’t see why not. The whole place is abandoned. Why don’t you join your sister and pick out some puppets?

DAUGHTER AGE 12: I’m too old for puppets. But I’ll go and keep an eye on sissy.


Inside the saloon the two girls examine the puppets. The youngest daughter is attracted by the bright colors of Punch, Judy, the Sorcerer, etc.

AGE 12: Those puppets are ugly, and they’re scary.

AGE 8: I like them.

AGE 12: I don’t. I don’t like any of these puppets. (She turns and sees two puppets crumpled on the floor next to each other. She picks them up.) How funny. Cowboy puppets. I like these. I could make up all sorts of fun stories about them.

AGE 12:puts a puppet in each pocket of her pinafore.
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