Why The Chimes Rang
A Play in One Act
by Elizabeth Apthorp McFadden
Adapted from the story of the same name
by Raymond McDonald Alden
Samuel French: Publisher
25 West Forty-fifth Street: New York
Samuel French, Ltd.
26 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND
BY E.A. MCFADDEN
WHY THE CHIMES RANG.
This play is fully protected by copyright.
Permission to act, read publicly or make any use of it must be obtained of Samuel French, 25 West 45th Street, New York. It may be presented by amateurs upon payment of the following royalties:
1. This play may be presented by amateurs upon payment of a royalty of Five Dollars for each performance, payable to Samuel French, at 25 West 45th Street, New York, or at 811 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, Calif., one week before the date when the play is given.
2. Professional rates quoted on application.
3. Whenever this play is to be produced the following note must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play:
This play is a dramatization of the story by Raymond MacDonald Alden entitled "WHY THE CHIMES RANG," published by The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
This version of Raymond MacDonald Alden's story is published with permission of the Bobbs-Merrill Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, the publishers of Professor Alden's story and the holders of the copyright.
The copying, either of separate parts or the whole of this work by any process whatsoever, is forbidden by law and subject to the penalties prescribed by Section 28 of the Copyright Law, in force July 1, 1909.
This little play is prentice work done in Professor George P. Baker's class, English 47 at Radcliffe College in the fall of 1908. Several years later it was staged by Professor Baker in the "47 Workshop," his laboratory for trying out plays written in the Harvard and Radcliffe courses in dramatic technique.
I am glad to acknowledge here my indebtedness to the "Shop" and its workers for this chance of seeing the play in action. Of the various advantages which a "Workshop" performance secures to the author none is more helpful than the mass of written criticism handed in by the audience, and representing some two or three hundred frank and widely varying views of the work in question. I am especially grateful for this constructive criticism, much of which has been of real service in the subsequent rewriting of the piece.
"Why the Chimes Rang" was again tried out the next year in seven performances by the "Workshop" company in various Boston settlements. Other groups of amateurs have given it in Arlington, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California and in Honolulu. These performances have proved that while its setting may seem to call for the equipment of a theatre, the play can be acceptably given in any hall or Sunday school room.
Suggestions for the simplest possible staging have been added to the present publication in an appendix which contains data on the scenery, music, lighting, costumes and properties for the piece.
ELIZABETH APTHORP McFADDEN.
WHY THE CHIMES RANG.
- HOLGER ........................... A peasant boy
- STEEN .............................. His younger brother
- BERTEL ........................... Their uncle
- AN OLD WOMAN
- LORDS, LADIES, etc.—
TIME:—Dusk of a day of long ago.
SCENE:—The interior of a wood-chopper's hut on the edge of a forest.
Why the Chimes Rang.
The scene is laid in a peasant's hut on the edge of a forest near a cathedral town. It is a dark low-raftered room lit only by the glowing wood fire in the great fireplace in the wall to the right, and by a faint moonlight that steals in through the little window high in the left wall. This window commands a view of the cathedral and of the road leading down into the town. The only entrance into the hut is the front door near the window.
The furnishings are few: two substantial stools, one near the window, the other before the fire, logs piled up near the hearth, and on the chimney shelf above a few dishes, three little bowls, three spoons and a great iron porridge pot. A wooden peg to the right of the chimney holds Steen's cap and cape, one to the left an old shawl. Near the door Holger's cap and cape hang from a third peg.
Despite its poverty the room is full of beautiful coloring as it lies half hidden in deep shadow save where the light of the fire falls on the brown of the wood and the warmer shades of the children's garments, illuminates their faces and gleams on their bright hair.
When the curtain is raised Steen is sitting disconsolately on the stool near the fire. He is a handsome sturdy little lad of nine or ten, dressed in rough but warm garments of a dark red. Holger a slender boy some four years older, bends over Steen patting him comfortingly on the shoulder.
There is petulance and revolt in the expression of the younger boy but Holger's face is full of a blended character and spirituality that makes him beautiful. He is clad like his brother in comfortable but worn jerkin and hose of a dark leaf green. His manner to the little boy is full of affection, though occasionally he is superior after the manner of big brothers. Throughout the play, two moods alternate in Holger, a certain grave, half-mystical dreaminess and bubbling through it, the high spirits of his natural boyish self.
HOLGER. Take heart, Steen, perhaps we can go next year.
STEEN. Next year! Next year I'll be so old I won't want to go.
HOLGER. Oh, quite old folks go to the Christmas service. Come, let's watch the people going down to town.
HOLGER. The road'll be full, grand folk! (He crosses to the window) Come watch, Steen.
HOLGER. (Looking out) Why the road's all empty again!
STEEN. (In a wailing tone) Everybody's gone!
HOLGER. (Trying to be brave) They're lighting the cathedral!
STEEN. I don't care!
HOLGER. Oh, Steen, come see,—like the stars coming out!
STEEN. I won't see! Mother said way last summer that we could go to-night, and now—(His voice breaks in a sob)
HOLGER. She meant it! She didn't know that the grandmother would be ill, and she and father'ud have to go to her. Be fair, Steen!
STEEN. They might let us go alone. "Too little!" Bah!
HOLGER. (In a low almost frightened tone) Steen, come here!
(The tone, rather than the words, take STEEN quickly to HOLGER'S side.)
HOLGER. (Pointing out the window) Look, by the dead pine yonder, an old woman facing us, kneeling in the snow, see? praying!
STEEN. (In an awed tone) She's looking at us!
HOLGER. She's raising her hand to us!
STEEN. She's beckoning!
HOLGER. No, she's making the Sign of the Cross.