St. Nicholas: A Melodrama
by Paul E. Cosby
A house in Myra, Asia Minor (now Turkey) some time in the fourth century (A.D. 300) in winter time
Three daughters of marriageable age
St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra
3 bags of golden coins
Father, Mother & daughters in typical peasants’ dress
Nicholas dressed in green vestments, with a green bishop’s mitre
Played in melodramatic style (ham it up!)
Father: It’s gettin’ late, m’dears. Be trottin’ on off to bed now.
Daughter I: Oh, Daddy, do we have to go yet? We’re not finished wi’ our game yet.
Daughter II: That’s right! You’re always sending us off to bed just when the game’s gettin’ good.
Daughter III: I heard that! No fun around this place. I for one wish I could get married and leave this house.
Daughters I & II: Me, too! Me, too!
Mother: (interrupting) Now, my dearies you well know that your Dad and I don’t have enough money to have a fittin’ weddin’ for you. You’ll just have to wait until the stock market goes up and taxes go down. Be patient!
Daughter I: Patient? Patient? Are you kidding? Look at me—I’m 36, she’s 34 and she’s 30. You think our chances to marry will get better just because there’s a new administration coming in up in Ankara? What an optimist.
Daughter II: Besides, Johnny said he wouldn’t wait for me much longer. Ten years Is long enough he said.
Daughter III: We want to get married NOW, this winter, before spring. Please say yes, Daddy.
Father: It seems to me we’ve had this conversation before—last night, night before last, the night before that—all the way back for at least 20 long years. (getting angry) And I’m telling you, I’m gettin’ tired of it. I’ve about had it wi’ you girls. Why don’t YOU just run away and get married? I’ll loan you a ladder.
Daughters I, II & III: Such a disgrace, Daddy!
Daughter I: No one would ever speak to us again.
Daughter II: It would be the end of me.
Daughter III: No, absolutely not! We want a fine church weddin’ wi’ bride’s dresses, men in tuxedos, beautiful music, and a feast for hundreds of our friends—And, of course, live music and dancing for ten days.
Father: (faking a Scottish accent) Air ye daft? Have ye lost your feeble minds? I kinna afford a’ that, and e’en if I could, it ain’t worth it for just a few hours of pleasure at my expense.
Mother: So, go along to bed now, girls (Trying to appease them). Your Father and I will discuss it. Maybe we call work out something. (said with a threatening tone)
Daughters exeunt, cooly.
Pause (Nicholas appears at window, eavesdropping)
Father: I’ll tell you, my dear, I don’t know what we’ll do. How can we ever give them what they want?
Mother: Who said we should? We never have yet. I’ll tell you what let’s do. There’s a merchant ship coming in to port tomorrow. We call sell these daughters Of ours to them. (brightening)
Father: What a good idea! We’ll be rid of our problem and make a little money on the side. I hate to do it, but it seems the best possible plan. Tomorrow, then!
(They rest, rock in their chairs, read the papers)
(Nicholas, meanwhile, overhearing their plans readies bags of gold to throw into the open window.)
(After a while he throws in the first bag.)
Father: Hello! What’s this? Those feisty boys are up to no good again. (Ignores bag on floor.)
(After a pause, Nicholas throws in second bag.)
Mother: You know, husband, this neighborhood isn’t what it used to be. We need to think about moving to the suburbs of Myra.
(After a pause, Nicholas throws in third bag—this time bag hits Father)
Father: We’ll, I’ll be switched!’ The noive of those guys! Wait’ll I get my hands on them!
(rushes to window—sees disappearing Nicholas)
I say, my eyes may be deceiving me, but I think I just saw a Bishop. I’m not sure, since I haven’t seen one since my Confirmation, but that looked very much like Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.
Mother: Why in the world would a Bishop go around throwing stuff through people’s windows?
Father: I don’t know, but let’s look. Maybe it’s a bunch of pledge cards. It is Every Member Canvass time, you know.
(They hurriedly go to the bags and begin opening them, and pouring the contents on the floor, until there is a big pile of golden coins, amid whoops and shouts of joy.)
Mother: Just look at all this money! Enough for three grand weddings.
Father: Now just a minute. You think we ought to tell the girls? Couldn’t we just go ahead with our plans, and be all the richer?
Mother: Well, no, I don’t want to do that. Nicholas has made me very ashamed of myself and how selfish I’ve become. And I never felt good about selling our girls to a slave ship anyway.
Father: It was a slave ship? I thought they would be first class sailors. Now I see the error of my ways and repent in sack cloth and ashes—well, anyway I repent. Go wake the girls. Let’s tell them.
(Mother exits—returns with sleepy girls who are all a-twitter, but don’t know what’s happened.)
Father: My darling girls, your request has been granted. You can be married next month after you get the license, go to pre-marital instruction, reserve the church, line up the photographer, get a caterer, rent a hall and a band, etc, etc, etc. Oh well, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, after all.
Daughter I: Oh yes, Daddy, what a splendid idea. Uh, where did you say the money came from? You haven’t been playing poker again, have you?
Mother: No, he’s been right here all evening. Apparently, Bishop Nicholas heard about your plight and wanted to rescue you from a life of spinster-hood, so he tossed three bags of gold through the open window there. Good thing we left that window open, too, right here in the middle of winter. It would have made a mighty crash had he broken the glass.
Father: Anyway, girls, now we have enough for you to be married properly, thanks to the generosity of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, patron saint of sailors, of merchantmen of children, and of unmarried girls everywhere.
St. Nicholas reappears—to applause—and takes his place in the middle of the cast line for bows
ALL: (to audience) May you all live happily ever after!
Following the play, St. Nicholas remains and distributes small gifts to everyone.
By Paul E. Cosby, Interim Rector, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham, Alabama. Used by permission.