Actors Conrad The Woman Two passers-by Ellspith The Old Man Narrator
Barclay The Kid
Equipment street lamp bread chairs or sofa fireplace milk lamp table honey other furnishings bookshelf door costumes shoes
Action THE GUEST
Before the cathedral in grandeur rose
At Ingelburg where the Danube goes;
Before its forest of silver spires
Went airily up to the clouds and fires:
Before the oak had ready a beam,
While yet the arch was stone and dream—
There where the altar was later laid,
Conrad, the cobbler, plied his trade.
Ellspith: (knock, knock)
Conrad: Bark! Bark!
Ellspith: (knock, knock)
Conrad: (as he walks to the door) Bark! Bark! Down, Fang! Bark! Bark! Quiet. Bark! (growls and opens the door) Hello, Ellspith! Merry Christmas! Come in, come in.
Ellspith: Conrad, old friend. A Merry Christmas to you, too. Conrad, what was barking? You don’t have a watchdog.
Conrad: I know. I can’t afford one. So when someone comes to the door, I have to bark myself.
Ellspith: Oh, Conrad, we are all feeling the financial pinch.
Conrad: Where’s Barclay?
Ells pith: He’s coming any minute.
Barclay: (knock, knock)
Ellspith: That’s him now.
Barclay: (knock, knock)
Ellspith: Who’s there?
Ellspith: Snue! (opens door) What’s Snue?
Barclay: I don’t know. What’s Snue with you? Say, Conrad old boy, did you fix my sole?
Conrad: Only the Lord can fix your soul, Barclay. But I did fix your shoe. (hands him shoe and taps on the sole)
Barclay: How delightful. Now I have my Christmas shoes to wear with my Christmas stockings. They were knit by my dear, dear aunt. Do you know what they call my aunt, Conrad?
Conrad: Probably Marnie Farnstock. That was her name.
Barclay: (exasperated) I mean after she died.
Conrad: They called her the late Marnie Farnstock.
Barclay: They called her Marner the Darner. She used to say, “The hand that darns the sock
Fllspith: ….. is usually the one that socks the husband!” Come, Barclay. We have to get you home into your socks. (They start to leave.)
Conrad: Ellspith. Barclay.
Ellspith: Yes, Conrad.
Conrad: Before you leave, I must share my heart with you.
Ellspith: Conrad, please do.
Barclay: Yes, we are your friends.
Conrad: (dramatically, gazing heavenward)
At dawn today
As night slipped away ..
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, “I am coming your Guest to be!”
So I’ve been busy with feet astir,
Strewing the floor with branches of fir.
The wall is washed and the shelf is shined,
And over the rafter the holly twined.
He comes today, and the table is spread
With milk and honey and wheaten bread.
Ellspith: (staring blank-faced straight at Conrad) Why is he talking in poetry?
Barclay: Too much Lutefish, I suspect.
Ellspith: Listen, Conrad. It’s Christmas and your thoughts are filled with Christ’s coming. No doubt your dreams merely reflected what you have been thinking all day.
Barclay: Ellspith’s right, Conrad. I mean, Christ’s not really going to come to your door.
Conrad: (pause) Perhaps you are right. That is a little unusual. But it seemed so real.
Ellspith: We have to go, old friend, have a delightful Christmas.
Barclay: And if Jesus does come, send for us. We wise and royal beings will come, bearing our gifts of mirth and frankenstein. (Fllspith pulls Barclay out through the door by scarf.)
Woman: (Conrad sees a woman shivering in the cold, selling coal to passers-by. He invites her into his home to warm herself.) Thank you kindly, sir. The weather is miserable out there.
Conrad: It certainly is foggy.
Woman: The visibility is so bad even the birds are walking. (She sneezes right in his face.)
Conrad: (slightly put off, but polite) Excuse me, ma’am, but could you sneeze the other way?
Woman: I don’t know no other way.
Conrad: Here. Sit down by the fire and warm yourself. Tell me how you came to such a wretched condition!
Woman: I was raised in poverty. We had nothing when I was growing up. And then.., and then I met John. He was rich. Sophisticated. He was the only banker unaffected by the crash of ’29.
Woman: He went broke in ’28. Ever since then we lived in a dreary apartment in town. Our furniture was meager and shabby. We had one little worn rug on our cold floor. It looked so bad my mother would say, “That rug looks terrible. Sweep if under the dirt!”
Conrad: What does your husband do now?
Woman: Oh, he passed away last year. I told him that if he were to die, starvation would stare me in the face. He said, “Doesn’t sound pleasant for either of you!” So now it is just me and my children.
Conrad: Woman, how can I help you?
Woman: You dear man. You can’t help. (gets up to go to the door) I can see that you are not much better off than I. I am simply trying to sell some coal to purchase some fresh milk and bread for my family.
Conrad: (turns and looks at the table) Here, take this.
Woman: (awed by this great sacrifice) God bless you, my friend.
Conrad: Merry Christmas.
THE OLD MAN
Man: (knock, knock)
Conrad: Bark! Bark! Ah! It’ll never work! I just don’t sound enough like a dog. Coming! (He opens the door. Man throws a bone in.) What’s that for?
Man: I thought I heard a dog.
Conrad: Ah, yes. He passed away. I just laid him to rest. What can I do for you, old man?
Man: I am receiving Christmas donations for the Buford T. Ellis Memorial Fund.
Conrad: And who, may I ask, is Buford T. Ellis?
Man: At your service, Sir. (bows dramatically with top hat)
Conrad: (chuckling) Come in, old-timer, you look like you could use at least a rest.
Man: Thank you, Sir. Usually I am not received in such kindness.
Conrad: It’s the least I can do. Here, sit down.
Man: (sits down, puts feet up on little table, and pulls out stagy)
Conrad: So you are collecting money?
Man: I am. I need some extra bucks for my expensive hobby.
Conrad: And what hobby is that?
Conrad: You know it would be nice to have a lot of money. But really, money only brings misery.
Man: But with money you can afford to be miserable. This Thanksgiving I asked myself, “What do I have to be thankful for? I can’t even pay my bills.”
Conrad: Be thankful you’re not one of your creditors.
Man: That’s true. You know, I used to get by fairly well with my small business. But I have suffered one financial disaster after another.
Conrad: It’s been a tough life for you, hasn’t it?
Man: It hasn’t been easy, but God has helped me.
Conrad: Listen, old man. I don’t have much. But here, take these shoes. You could stand a new pair.
Man: (looking very happy) You are very generous. (He rips off his old shoes, and they fall apart, so he puts on new ones.) They fit perfectly! Thank you, Sir. (He leaves. They exchange farewells.)
Kid: (knock, knock)
Conrad: (opens door)
Kid: (sings) While shepherds washed their socks by night, all seated on the ground—
Conrad: (interrupts) Hold it! Hold it! I think you have some of the words mixed up there. It’s “watched,” not “washed.”
Kid: While shepherds watched their socks by night—
Conrad: Wait! And it’s “flocks,” not “socks.”
Kid: What are flocks?
Conrad: They’re a bunch of sheep. Do you know what sheep are? (Kid shakes head no.) They’re little woolly things, kind of like socks! Merry Christmas! What can I do for you on this blessed day?
Kid: I’m collecting arms for the poor.
Conrad: That’s “alms.”
Kid: What are alms?
Conrad: They’re gifts, usually money.
Kid: OH NO!
Conrad: What’s the problem?
Kid: I’ve been going through the streets crying, “Arms for the poor, arms for the poor!”
Conrad: Land o’ Goshen! And what did you get?
Kid: Strange looks. I’ll never get any money.
Conrad: Who are the poor you’re collecting for?
Kid: (pastor’s name) Home for Wayward Children.
Conrad: There’s no home there.
Kid: Well, there’s the Agony General Hospital, too.
Conrad: Never heard of it.
Kid: Would you believe the Shuffleboard Retirement Center?
Conrad: (shakes head) Why don’t you just tell me where the money is really going?
Kid: (face down, ashamed of his poverty) It’s for me.
Conrad: That’s what I thought. It looks like you need it.
Kid: But it’s not really for me. It’s for my sister. I want to give her a present this Christmas. We don’t have very much, and, well, I love my little sister… I thought I might give her something special.
Conrad: (looks at the table, gives the kid the honey)
Kid: (looks inside) Wow! Is this real honey?
Conrad: Yes, give it to your sister. And here, give her these shoes, and here is a pair for you.
Kid: Wow! You are something, Mister. Thank you. (excitedly leaves)
Conrad: (as he leaves) Hey, lad! What is your sister going to give you for Christmas?
Kid: I don’t know. Last year she gave me the measles! Bye, Mister!
Conrad: Merry Christmas!
(While the narrator reads, Conrad wanders around room looking sad, but as he realizes that Christ came to him in those three people, he begins to look radiant.)
Narrator: The day went down in the crimson west And with it the hope of the blessed Guest, And Conrad sighed as the world turned gray: “Why is it, Lord, that your feet delay? Did You forget that this was the day?”
Then soft in the silence a Voice he heard:
“Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet;
I was the woman you gave food to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street!”