Monday, 19 December 2016

Anita's secret or Christmas in the Steerage (3)

Part 1     -     Part 2    -     Part 3     -     Part 4     -     Part 5


Sergius. Let us all go together. (All come forward and sing to tune of the Opening Song.)

We're happy little immigrants,
We'll sing our happy song,
Our hearts are light, our faces bright—
The good ship speeds along.
Then clap, clap, clap together,
Clap, clap away;
The steerage is a happy place—
Tomorrow's Christmas Day.

(All the children except Anita go out at R., repeating the chorus of their song.)

Anita. Surely the good-a Saint Nicholas will come tonight, because there are so many, many verra good children on board this-a ship. (Counting on fingers.) There's Hulda from Holland and her two leetla brothers, the Dutch twins, Klinker and Schwillie Willie Winkum. They must have a great-a beeg-a Christmas present. And there's Sergius from Russia, and Meeny and Paddy Mike and Biddy Mary, and Neelda from Spain, and Yakob and Hans and Ah Goo and Mieze and leetla Sano San from afar away Japan. They must all have the great-a, grand-a presents. Maybe I could write old Santa Claus a leetla letter and tell how good the poor children way down in the steerage have been. And there's my cousin Tomasso from Italy. Oh, Santa Claus must bring him a new violin. Then he can make-a the beautiful music on the golden streets of New York. If there is anybody at all in the whole beeg world who should have a nice-a, beeg-a Christmas, it is the verra poor leetla children whose mammas and papas haven't got very much money. But sometimes the good Santa Claus forgets all about the verra poor leetla children—and that's the mostest saddest thing of all, for they are the verra ones he should remember. When I get to be a great-a, beeg, grand-a, reech lady in the golden streets of New York, ah! then I will buy presents and presents and presents, and I will-a give them to all the verra poor leetla children in the world. I wonder why it is that the verra good Santa Claus sometimes forgets the poor leetla children on-a Christmas Day. He never forgets the reech leetla children, only those who are verra, verra poor. And that is a sad misfortune. If I had-a nice-a Christmas present, with many candies and figs and oranges, I could never rest until I had given something nice to all the poor leetla children in the city—for that is what makes the mostest happy Christmas of all.

Enter Sergius from R. quietly. He comes down behind Anita and places his hands over her eyes.

Sergius. Guess who it is.

Anita. Sergius!

Sergius (disappointed). Why, I thought that you would think it was a goblin.

Anita. Goblin? What is a goblin, Sergius?

Sergius. It's a little, wee bit of a man with a long beard. And they go around having a good time at night. They are always very active on the night before Christmas. (Looks cautiously around.) I shouldn't be at all surprised if we should see some tonight.

Anita (frightened). Oh, Sergius, will they harm us?

Sergius. Not very much. They just like to have a little fun, that's all. We have lots of them in Russia. And I believe there are some down here in the steerage.

Anita (grasps his arm). Oh, Sergius! Where are they?

Sergius. Well, last night I could not sleep, so I got up and came in here, and just as I was passing by that barrel (points to barrel up L.C. where Jack Frost is concealed), I thought I heard a noise. It was like some one rapping on the barrel. Like this. (Raps on another barrel.) I thought it was a goblin and I never stopped running until I was safe in my bunk with the bedclothes around my head.

Anita. Pooh! I'm not afraid. No leetla goblin man can make-a me afraid.

Sergius. They do wonderful things on Christmas Eve. But come; let us go to the bottom of the stairs. The ladies and gentlemen are looking down and Tomasso is playing his violin. Soon they will throw apples and oranges down to us, and perhaps money. Come and see.

Anita. No, I'd rather wait here.

Sergius (crossing to door at R.). All right, but don't let the goblin man catch you. (Exits at R.)

Anita. The goblin man! Poof! There is no such thing as a goblin man. In-a Italy we do not have such goblin mans. He said he heard something rap, rap on the inside of the barrel. Poof! Sergius must have been having one beeg, grand-a dream. Never in all my life did I ever hear anything go rap, rap on the inside of a barrel. (Stands close to Jack Frost's barrel.) And if I did, I'd think it was a leetla, weeny-teeny mouse. But a leetla, weeny-teeny mouse never could go rap, rap on the inside of a barrel, try as hard as he could. It must have been a dream.

Jack Frost (raps sharply on the inside of the barrel).

Anita. Oh, what was that? I thought I heard something. (Goes toward barrel cautiously.) Maybe it is the leetla, teeny-weeny baby mouse. (Rises on tiptoes to peer into the barrel.) I'll just peek in and see. (Just as she looks into the barrel, Jack Frost pops up his head almost in her very face.)

Jack Frost. Hello!

Anita (starting back, very much frightened). Oh!

Jack Frost. Did you say oh, or hello?

Anita. I just said, oh.

Jack Frost. Well, then, hello. (Climbs out of the barrel.)

Anita. Hello.

Jack Frost (goes to her). You aren't frightened, are you?

Anita (at R.). Well, I'm a leetla frightened, but not verra much.

Jack Frost. Why? I won't hurt you.

Anita. You came up so sudden. I never expected to find a boy in that barrel. And you are such a queer looking boy.

Jack Frost. Boy? I'm not a boy.

Anita. You're not? You look like a boy. You're not a girl, are you?

Jack Frost (indignantly). Well, I should say not! I'm just a kind of a sort of a kind of an idea, that's all. I'm your imagination.

Anita. I hope you're not a goblin.

Jack Frost. Oh, no. I'm not a goblin. They're old and have long beards. I'm not old at all. (Twirls around on toes.) See, I'm even younger than you are. (Makes low bow.) I'm a pixie.

Anita. And what is a pixie?

Jack Frost. I told you before, it's just your imagination.

Anita. You look like a boy. What is your name?

Jack Frost. My name is Claus.

Anita. Claus! Why, what a funny leetla name. I never heard a name like that in Italy. Claus what?

Jack Frost. Santa Claus. Haven't you ever heard of Santa Claus?

Anita. Oh, yes; many, many times. But you can't be Santa Claus.

Jack Frost (indignantly). I'd like to know why I can't! It's my name, isn't it?

Anita. But you are not the real, real truly Santa Claus. He is an old, old man. A leetla fat old man with white-a hair just like-a the snow, and a long, white-a beard.

Jack Frost. Ho, you must be thinking of my daddy.

Anita. Your daddy? Is Santa Claus your daddy?

Jack Frost. Sure, he is. I'm Jack Frost Santa Claus, Jr. Most folks call me Jolly Jack Frost. The little fat man with the white beard is my father.

Anita (astonished). Why, I didn't know Santa Claus had any leetla boys.

Jack Frost. Sure, he has. Who do you think takes care of the reindeer, and who waters the doll-tree and picks the dolls?

Anita. Picks the dolls? Do the dolls grow on trees?

Jack Frost. Yes, indeed, right next door to the taffy cottage, down Chocolate Lane. I take care of the marble bushes and the popgun trees. You just ought to see our wonderful gardens.

Anita. Oh, I'd love to see them.

Jack Frost. We've got a Teddy-bear garden, and a tool garden, and a furniture garden, and a game garden, and a candy garden, though most of the candy comes from mines.

Anita. The mines?

Jack Frost. Sure. We dig out just the kind we want. We have caramel mines, and vanilla mines and mines full of chocolate almonds, and rivers of fig paste and strawberry ice cream soda. They flow right through the picture-book garden.

Anita. Oh, it must be the most wonderful place in the whole world.

Jack Frost. And I help take care of it. I have fourteen little brothers, and we're all twins.

Anita. And have you a mother, too? Has Santa Claus a nice-a, fine-a wife?

Jack Frost (laughs). Of course he's got a wife. Haven't you ever heard of my mother. Her name is Mary.

Anita. Mary? Mary what?

Jack Frost. Why, Merry Mary Christmas, of course. I thought everyone knew that.

Anita. And does she go round the world with Santa Claus on the night before Christmas?

Jack Frost. Oh, no, she's too busy for that. She stays at home and takes care of the gardens.

Anita. But what are you doing here on the ship? I should think you'd be with your father.

Jack Frost. Ah, that is a secret. You mustn't tell anyone.

Anita. How can I tell anyone when I don't know myself.

Jack Frost. Well, maybe I'll tell you.

Anita. Oh, if you only would. I'd just love to have a great-a, beeg, grand-a secret.

Jack Frost. You can keep a secret, can't you?

Anita. Of course I can. Girls can always keep secrets.

Jack Frost. Some girls can't. But I believe you really can. Your name's Anita, isn't it?

Anita. Yes. But how did you know?

Jack Frost. Oh, we know everything. How old are you?

Anita. If you tell me how you knew my name, I'll tell you how old I am.

Jack Frost. Well, I just guessed it.

Anita. Then why don't you guess how old I am?

Jack Frost. Cute, ain't you?

Anita. Not so verra cute. I'm going on nine.

Jack Frost. Then you're old enough to keep the secret. Now, first you must promise you won't tell until tomorrow morning.

Anita. Cross my heart. (She does so.)

Jack Frost (crosses to her). Listen, then; here's the secret. (He whispers in her ear.)

Anita (after a pause, while he is whispering). He is? He is? Oh!!

Jack Frost (nods his head wisely). Yes, he is.

Anita. Honest?

Jack Frost. Honest injun!

Anita. With his pack and presents and a Christmas tree and everything?

Jack Frost (nods head emphatically). Yes, ma'am, every single thing.

Anita. Tonight?

Jack Frost. Just before the clock strikes twelve, when all the little children in the steerage are asleep.

Anita. But how will he get out here in the middle of the ocean?

Jack Frost. Fly.

Anita. Fly? But he hasn't any wings. (Jack nods.) He has? (Jack nods.) Really and truly wings?

Jack Frost (nods). Really and truly wings.

Anita. I never knew Santa Claus had wings before.

Jack Frost. He only bought them this year.

Anita. Bought them? (Jack nods.) Then they didn't grow on him?

Jack Frost (laughs). Of course not. He's coming in an air ship.

Anita. Why, I never knew Santa Claus had an air ship.

Jack Frost. He's got the very latest twentieth century model. He only uses the reindeer once in a while now. He can go much faster on an air ship. (Sits down.) Oh, I'm tired.

Anita. I didn't know pixies ever got tired.

Jack Frost. You ought to see the work I've done today.

Anita. Here on the boat?

Jack Frost. Yes, ma'am, right here on the boat.

Anita. Oh, show me.

Jack Frost. I will. But it's part of the secret. (Goes to rear L.) Come here and I'll show you what I've been doing.

Anita (goes to him). It isn't anything scary, is it?

Jack Frost. Of course not. (Lets her peep through the curtain that conceals the Christmas tree from the audience.) There; what do you think of that?

Anita. Oh, oh! oh!! It's too great and grand and wonderful for words. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful secret! I'm so glad you've told me. It is so much nicer to know all about it beforehand. I wish I could tell Tomasso.

Jack Frost. Well, you can't. It's a secret and you mustn't tell anybody.

Anita. But are you really, truly sure he's coming?

Jack Frost. Of course he is. That is our secret.

Anita. Oh, it's the grandest secret I ever had in all-a my life. I will not tell a soul that he is-a coming. It will be a Christmas surprise, and when I get to the beeg city of New York in America, I'll always remember this great-a beeg, nice-a secret about old Santa Claus and his nice leetla boy, Jack Frost.

Jack Frost. What are you going to do when you get to America?

Anita. I am going to dance. My uncle, Pedro Spanilli, he haba de grind-organ. Until last-a month he had-a de nice-a monkey, named Mr. Jocko, but last-a month Mr. Jocko he die, and my uncle, Pedro Spanilli, he send for me to take-a his place.

Jack Frost. Take the monkey's place?

Anita. Yes, sir. I'm going to go round with my uncle and hold out my tambourine, so! (Poses and holds out tambourine.) And then I will-a collect the pennies, just like-a Mr. Jocko used to do.

Jack Frost (mocking her). I suppose you are going to wear a leetla red cap and jump up and down this way (imitates a monkey), and say, "Give-a de monk de cent!"

Anita (laughing). Oh, no. I'm going to sing the leetla song, and dance the leetla dance, so! (Hums and dances, or a song may be introduced at this point by Anita.) Then, when I'm finished, I go to the kind leetla boy, Jack Frost, and hold out my tambourine, so! (Does so.) And maybe he drops a nickel in my tambourine. Eh? Does he?

Jack Frost (sighs, then drops a nickel in tambourine). Yes, I guess he does. And you just wait till tomorrow morning, Anita, and I'll give you the finest Christmas present on the Atlantic Ocean.

Anita. And you must not forget the leetla Dutch twins, and my cousin Tomasso, and Hulda and Meeny and Sergius and Ah Goo and Sano San and Needla and Biddy Mary and Paddy Mike and all the rest.

Jack Frost. Whew! That's a big order. But we won't forget a single soul on Christmas Day. And now I've got to go and put the finishing touches on—you know what! (Goes behind curtains that conceal the Christmas tree.)

Anita (looks around). Why, he's gone.

Jack Frost (sticking his head out of the curtains). The sun has set, it's out of sight, so little Jack Frost will say good-night! (Disappears back of curtains.)

Anita. Good-night, Jolly Jack Frost, good-night. Oh, it's the most wonderful secret in all the world. And won't the leetla children be glad to know that old Santa Claus has not forgotten them. He said that Santa Claus was coming tonight in the air ship, and it's got to be true, it's just got to be true.


  1. Good gravy...after listing all the goodies, I'm hungry! ;) Thanks for the sweet story.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

  2. Where is My comment?
    I Said : Thank you gor this nice play.
    I like it very much.

    Mona Lisa


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