As the curtain rises, you are looking at a pioneer camp in the woods. It is night and the lighting is dim, a rosy glow being thrown over the whole scene from the embers of a fire in the front center of the stage. The stage is empty.
A flash light beam flashes in from the right, followed in an instant by the light itself in the hands of Bill Wallace. Bill is dressed as any Scout would be for an evening in camp : with regulation shorts and shirt. Bill walks slowly, with dejected attitude, across the stage, flashes the light around camp and into the tents. He sits a moment on the stump center, looking into the fire, which shines on his worried face, and then throws himself down on his blankets in front of the tent at the left. As he drops to his blankets he turns off his light.
There is a moment or two of quiet. Offstage at some distance, there is the murmur of voices growing nearer. Then the distant notes of tatto, or call to quarters, are heard and the voices blend with the bugle.
As the bugle ceases, the voices grow louder, laughing and kidding, as the campers return from the campfire. Flashlight beams flash into the camp from the right and in comes Dan Marsh, the Patrol Leader, and Fat Perley. Fat crosses to left front. Dan bends over blankets at tent right.
Fat: Well, Dan, another day of the hike is gone. Two days more and we'll be on the road for dear old ............ [Insert here name of local camp].
Dan: This has been a swell place for a hike camp. I like it here even more than back at the main camp.
Fat: All except climbing that hill. Gosh, Dan, I'd hate to go over that cliff back there (makes motion with hand toward off stage right). How high do you suppose it is?
Dan: About twenty-five feet I guess. You'd be jelly if you ever fell off.
Enter "Stut" Meecham from right, turning in front of right hand tent, and yelling to a friend through the woods out right, stuttering slightly as he speaks (In fact Stut stutters a little all the way through, especially when he is excited)
Stut: Good night, Everett dear.
Dan: Where's that lantern?
Pat (looking around): Over here near my tent, Dan (Gets lantern and hands it to Dan who sits on stump center and starts to light lantern).
Stut: Good night, Everett dear.
Voice from outside: Pipe down, fish face.
Stut (pointing flash light straight outside camp): Going to clean your little toofies, Everett dear?
Voice from outside: One more crack from you, and you'll have no toofies to clean.
(Dan gets lantern lit and stage lights flash up illuminating camp. Dan hangs lantern from tent.)
Fat: Hot pepper, that Everett is quick on the come back. (Stut grabs a pillow and heaves it off stage right at Everett and laughs. He ducks, just as pillow sails back into the camp over his head and catches Fat in the face.)
Fat (sputtering and waving fist): Hey, you big stiff, cut that out.
(Dan and Stut both break out laughing.)
Dan: I'll say Everett is quick on the come back.
Fat (with mock mournfulness): It's always the innocent bystander that gets it in the neck. (He sinks down on blankets in front of tent left and lands on top of Bill.)
Fat (jumping up): Whassat! (Looks around at Bill and is relieved) Gosh, shot again.
Dan (standing up and looking at Bill who stands): Say, Bill, where you been?
Dan: You weren't over to the Council Fire.
Bill: I was for a while.
Dan: We looked all over for you, and we had a swell seat saved for you.
Bill: I don't like ghost stories.
Fat: Don't like ghost stories?
Fat: Gosh, imagine a guy like that.
Stut: Gee, it was a (getting excited), a-a-a- Gee, Bill it was a pi-pi a pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-pi
Dan: Whistle, Stut, whistle.
Stut (whistles and then bursts out with): PIP.
Fat (wipes brow): whew!
Stut: All about Pie: Pie: all about PPPie: Aw: aw- avv-ALL about P- P- Pie
(Dan and Fat together whistle.)
Fat (taking center stage): Lemme tell him. There was this guy on a pirate ship and he picks up another guy in a little boat, and they become partners. And then there's a guy who's a prisoner in the hold, and he gets loose and shoots one of the guys, and the other guy tries to capture this guy, but this guy escapes, and the ghost of the guy what's shot, he haunts the other guy, and the other guy, he....
Dan (reaching for an axe and looking at Fat meaningfully) know a guy that's going to die.
Fat (acting as if heart were broken): There you go. There you go. A fat guy never gets a chance. just for that, I won't finish the story. I'm going to bed (Crosses to tent left.)
Dan: We'd all better get going. It's almost time for taps now. (Starts to take off neckerchief.)
Stut: Dan, don't forget we've got guard duty tonight.
Dan: Say, we have for a fact. From 10 to 12.
Fat: I want the Council Fire Patrol. I'm not much good at walking.
Stut (teasingly): You mean you don't like the lonesome beach at night.
Dan: Never mind the argument. Let's get into bed and get some sleep.
(Boys start to open and fix blankets. Beds should be laid out just outside or only half inside so that movements can be seen.)
Bill: Does everybody have to go on, Dan?
Bill: I don't feel very good.
Dan: You feel good enough.
Fat: I ain't going to undress. It's too much work. Are you, Stut?
Stut: No, I'm just going to take off my shoes.
Dan: That's what everybody better do. just take off your neckerchiefs and shoes. (Boys start to do so.)
(Taps blow at a distance.)
Dan: There goes taps. Hurry up, Fat. (Boys finish taking off neckerchiefs and shoes.) Into bed, you birds. Douse that light, Stut.
(Boys get into blankets. Stut puts out light and bright lights go off, leaving stage in dim light and fire light.)
Fat (loud stage whisper): Don't forget, I got the Council Fire.
Stut: You're scared. (All in stage whispers.)
Fat: Like fun I am. I just
Dan: Pipe down.
Fat: All right, darling Patrol Leader (sarcastic).
(Boys move around a bit getting settled. Dan flashes on light to look for shoes and then lies down. All is quiet for a time.)
Enter Scoutmaster, from right (He flashes light to see that all is 0K).
Scoutmaster: Good night, Dan.
Dan: Good night, Skipper.
(All is quiet for a time. Fat snores a little; quiet again.)
(Bill moves about in his blankets restlessly and finally gets up and sits on center stump looking at fire. After a moment he rests head in hands and sobs once or twice.)
(Dan stirs and reaches for flashlight, which he shines around, finally resting its light on Bill.)
Dan: Bill, what's the matter?
Dan: There is too. (Gets up and stands beside Bill.)
Bill: I can't sleep, that's all. I just lay awake waiting for those Scouts to come for us.
Dan: Aw, lie down, they won't be here for quite a while yet. (Pause) Go on, lie down.
Bill: Dan, I'm not going out on the guard patrol.
Dan: Not going? You got to. What would the Skipper say?
Bill: I don't care. I'm not going.
Bill: : Well, I don't want to.
Dan: Listen, Kid, don't be silly. It's our turn. We've got to patrol the camp and watch for fire and things. It ain't like swimming where you can say, "I will go in" or "I won't go in." This is different. You've got to.
Bill: All the same, I'm not going..
Dan: You nut. Anybody might think you were afraid.
Bill: Why didn't we get day patrol?
Dan: I suppose we will later, but somebody has to patrol nights. Come on now, lie down. I want to catch a wink before ore we have to go on. (Bill does not move): Say, Bill, did you hear me, lie down.
(Bill rises slowly; goes to blankets and lies down. Dan follows suit. All is quite for a time.)
Fat (tosses in his blanket: then snores loudly--suddenly he sits up with eyes closed and yells: HALT. (Sinks down to sleep again and snores. After a time, Fat sits up again in his sleep, muttering to himself. He gets out of his blankets, muttering, and stands in the middle of the stage and yells): HALT. (in an unnatural voice) COME HERE. (Dan flashes light on him) GUARD PATROL: (Waves arms) FIRE, FIRE, FIRE.
Dan (in loud stage whisper): Shut up, you fat toad. Go to bed.
Fat (still asleep) HALT.
Dan (getting up): I'll halt you. (Goes to Fat and shakes him.)
Fat: HAL: (waking up) HUH?
Dan: Get into bed.
Fat (dazed): Bed?
Dan (looking around): Cheese it, here comes the Skipper. Get into bed.
Fat (still dazed): Bed?
Dan: Yes, bed, bed. (Leads Fat to tent and slaps hand on blankets.)
Dan: Hurry, (Flashlight from outside right shines into camp. Fat gets down on hands and knees to crawl into tent. Dan throws blankets over Fat and dashes into own bed. Scoutmaster enters and flashes light over Fat.)
Scoutmaster: Who's that? (Keeps flashlight on Fat.)
Fat (from under blankets): Me.
Scoutmaster: Stand up.
(Fat stands up: blankets over head.)
Scoutmaster: What do you think this is, a game? Take those blankets off.
(Fat pulls off blankets and stands, blinking in the light.)
Scoutmaster: Oh, it's you, Perley.
Fat: I don't know.
Scoutmaster: Don't you know who you are?
Scoutmaster: Well, who are you?
Fat: I don't know.
Dan (raising up): He was dreaming he was on Guard Patrol, Skipper.
Scoutmaster: Dreaming! Sounded like he was doing some Indian dancing. (Goes to tent and arranges blankets.) Here climb in. They'll call you when 'tis time for patrol. (Fat gets into blankets.)
Scoutmaster: Good night, Dan. (Exits.)
Dan: Night, Skipper. (In a loud whisper to Fat) I could wring your neck, Fat.
Fat: What did I do?
Dan: Oh, you're hopeless. Go to sleep.
(Again all is quiet along the Potomac, Fat snores again. A period of quiet.)
(There is a light from a lantern outside left and whispered voices.)
Guard Patrol Leader: This is the Pine Tree's Camp.
Rookie (also on Patrol): Let's not make another mistake. I got a shoe in the eye from that last tent.
Guard Patrol Leader: I told you that was the wrong camp.
(Enter Guard Patrol Leader and Rookie with lantern. Stage lights go up.)
Guard Patrol Leader: You wake up these guys. I'll be down at the fire.
Rookie: But suppose they won't wake up.
Guard Patrol Leader: Pull them out of bed then. (Exits right.)
Rookie (puts lantern down on stump left; looks at sleeping form of Fat and shrugs shoulders. He then goes to Stut and shakes blanket. No result. He then shakes Stut's shoulder. No result. -- In a timid voice): Please, sir, (no result. Shakes shoulder and says in an annoyed voice)Please, sir, wake up. (Stut rolls over and as he does so he flings one arm out and slaps Rookie across face.)
Rookie: O-Oh, (Dashes out of camp. In a moment he tip toes back in very cautiously. He avoids Stut's arm and shakes Dan who wakes up at once.)
Rookie: It's time to go on Guard Patrol.
Dan (sits rubbing eyes): Oh, all right.
(Rookie goes to Fat and shakes him. No result. He goes around back and tries to shove Fat out. Fat hardly budges. Rookie tries again with no better result. Rookie walks around in front of tent and, scratching his head, surveys situation. Finally with a determined air, he picks up shoe and gives Fat a resounding swat.)
Fat (sitting up and yelling): HEY!
(Rookie drops shoe and dashes offstage right.)
Dan: Get ready for Guard Patrol, Fat.
Fat: Somebody socked me!
Dan: You're dreaming again. Get ready. (Fat gets up and starts to dress.)
Dan: Stut! Bill! Wake up. (Bill sits up.) Guard Patrol, Bill, get your shoes on. Hurry.
(Dan then swats Stut.)
Stut (sitting up, excitedly) : Wh-wh-wh-What the-What the-What the
(Dan and Fat both whistle.)
Stut (calmly): What the!
Dan: Guard Patrol.
(Stut jumps up and begins getting into his things. All are now busy dressing except Bill.)
Fat: Gosh, it's cold (Shivers) Got an extra sweater, Dan?
Dan: Take my sweat shirt.
Fat: Thanks. (Reaches for it.) Guess I'll wear my pajama top, too. (Dresses.)
Dan: Bill, step on it. (Bill begins slowly to put on shoe.)
Fat: I'm still cold. (Pulls raincoat off tent and puts that on) Come on Stut, you ready?
Dan: You two guys go on up to the Guard Fire. I'll be right along with Bill.
Stut: All right. (He and Fat exit right.)
Dan: Bill, we're late now.
Bill (looking out into dark): I'm not going!
Dan: You are, too. No guy in this Troop is going to be yellow. Get dressed. (Bill finishes dressing as Fat bursts in.)
Fat: I forgot my war club. (He reaches round back of his tent and pulls out a gigantic birch root club, which is about all he can carry.) Now let some guy try to rob the supply tent. (Exits with club over shoulder.)
Dan: Come on, Bill. (Takes him by shoulder. Bill reaches for flashlight. Dan takes up lantern and they exit, leaving stage in darkness.)
There is quiet for a moment. Then in the distance a whistle blows. Sound of footsteps running and, with his flashlight lit, Bill dashes into camp, throws himself onto bed; pulls blankets over head and lays there.
ACT II: Same Scene as ACT I.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.