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A Stolen Inheritance

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A Stolen Inheritance

Scene 1 – The Plot Revealed

(Lights up on policeman questioning Aunt Millicent and Uncle Archibald)

POLICEMAN: So you say your brother’s children were in the burning house?

UNCLE ARCHIE: (very sober) Yes.

POLICEMAN: I am very sorry to say this, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston, that we found no trace of them.
I’m afraid they were killed in the fire.

(Aunt Millie starts crying)

AUNT MILLIE: My poor niece and nephew!

POLICEMAN: My condolences, ma’am. (He clears his throat) Well, I will be going now. If you
need something, I’ll be around...

(Policeman exits stage)

(Aunt Millie and Uncle Archie change their faces from sad to evil)

AUNT MILLIE: What he would give to know what really happened (she laughs evilly)!

(Aunt Millie and Uncle Archie turn toward the audience)

UNCLE ARCHIE: Our niece and nephew, my brother’s children, inherited a great fortune when
their parents died of small pox, barely surviving themselves.

AUNT MILLIE: Yes, Maggie and Luke Johnston came to us when they were six and four years old.
They were the greatest envy of all our neighbors.

UNCLE ARCHIE: We grew jealous when our niece and nephew were getting all the attention.
We wanted that money! So we devised a plan.

AUNT MILLIE: The only way to get that money was to inherit it. They had to die some way. We
couldn't just kill them, after all, they were relatives. But there was another way they could die.

UNCLE ARCHIE: We decided to move. Our house was very small and poor. Since we had a plan
to get the money, we would buy an expensive house, with all the luxuries. We removed all our
belongings from the old house to the new one, except for the children’s belongings.

AUNT MILLIE: Then came the fun part. We dressed Maggie and Luke in old, patched clothing
and left them at the orphanage. That night we set fire to our old house. When morning came,
there was nothing left.

UNCLE ARCHIE: We told the policeman that the children were in bed for the last night before
moving. We were just going to bed when we smelled smoke. We went to check on the children,
but the fire was blocking the way. We had – supposedly – made it out just in time. Our dear
Maggie and Luke, however, were dead!

AUNT MILLIE: We are the only family the children have. And since they are “dead”, the fortune
is –

BOTH: OURS!

(Lights down)

Scene 2 – At the Orphanage

2

(Lights up on Maggie and Luke cleaning orphanage with two other orphans: Billy and Sam)

LUKE: (scrubbing the floor on hands and knees): I am so sick of scrubbing floors, washing dishes
and slaving away for the ol’ Crabapple!

MAGGIE: (reproachfully) Luke, don’t talk so. We must be thankful that Miss Agatha has taken us
in. I know that there are plenty of hungry orphans in London who would trade positions with us
with the snap of their fingers.

LUKE: Maggie, stop being so optimistic! You know Miss Agatha barely feeds us two meals a day
and –

MAGGIE: (interrupting) Well at least we’re not starving. Stop complaining Luke. The faster
we’re done this job the faster we can finish the next chore and the faster we’ll be finished for
the day.

LUKE: Small comfort, Mags.

SAM: Can you pass me the extra washcloth, Luke?

LUKE: Sure. (He tosses the cloth to Sam) Here you go!

SAM: Thanks.

MAGGIE: Do you remember what life was like before we came to the orphanage, Luke?

LUKE: Not really. Since you’re older, Maggie, you’d be more likely to remember than me (He
gives a small smile).

MAGGIE: Do you remember anything about mother and father?

LUKE: (thinking hard) Not much. It’s been such a long time since they died. Sometimes I think I
remember their faces but then maybe it’s just something I dreamed.

MAGGIE: I know what you mean. The only thing I remember about mother and father is that
they owned a big house, with servants, and a gigantic library and that we ate ice-cream almost
every-day and –

SAM and BILLY: (Interrupting) Ice-cream?

SAM: I've never tasted ice-cream in my life!

LUKE: Believe me, it’s delicious!

MAGGIE: And then we went to live with Uncle Archie and Aunt Millie...

LUKE: And then they sent us here...

MAGGIE: I don’t understand why Uncle and Aunt sent us to an orphanage. We are related,
after all! I should think it would be their duty to take care of us.

(Miss Agatha Crabapple enters in the middle of this last line)

MISS AGATHA: It’s very clear, my dears: you weren't wanted. Thank-you for boring the other
children with your life story, I’m sure they were glad to hear all the misfortunes of your lives.
But that is besides the point: We are having a visitor this afternoon. He wishes to adopt so I
want this whole house spotless by the time he arrives this afternoon.

ALL ORPHANS: Yes, Miss Agatha.

LUKE: (under his breath) Ol’ Crabapple!

(Maggie snickers and says “shhhhh”)

(Miss Agatha exits)

MAGGIE: Well, you heard what she said! Let’s get to work!

SAM: I hope the visitor wants to adopt a little boy...

MAGGIE: (hugging Sam) Me too. And I hope he adopts you!

Scene 3 – The Choices

(Lights up on Maggie tidying up other orphans. Miss Agatha comes in with Mr. Black)

MISS AGATHA: Children, our visitor is here. Please welcome Mr. Black, a chimney sweeper who
needs a nice strong lad to help him in his work. Mr. Black, this is Maggie, Luke, Sam, and Billy.

MR. BLACK: (Scowling) Is this the best you've got? These weakling! (He points at Maggie) Over-
sized girl. (He points at Billy and Sam) Babies!

MISS AGATHA: Please, Mr. Black, reconsider. Maggie here is quite strong and a good worker.
And Sam isn't that young. And Luke –

MR. BLACK: (interrupting) This isn't girls’ work! It’s dangerous business I’m in. Man’s work. Not
children’s play!

MISS AGATHA: Sir, I – we need the money. We are very poor. I barely have enough money to
feed and clothe the children. Please, Mr. Black.

MR. BLACK: (pointing at Luke) How about skin- and-bones here?

MISS AGATHA (eagerly): Luke is very strong, despite his size.

MR. BLACK: Very well. He will do. How much do you ask for him?

MISS AGATHA: Five pounds.

MR. BLACK: Outrageous! I could pay less for a horse.

MISS AGATHA: Four pounds?

MR. BLACK: One pound.

MISS AGATHA: (Stuttering) But – but – I need the money!

MR. BLACK: Enough. Considering his size, I’d rather pay one shilling for him.

MISS AGATHA: Oh, all right. I’ll have him ready for you tomorrow morning.

MR. BLACK: Make sure you do.

(Mr. Black exits)

MISS AGATHA: Go along now, children. Luke, go make ready your belongings. You heard the
man. You leave tomorrow, for good.

MAGGIE: But what about me, ma’am?

MISS AGATHA: Why, you stay here of course! (She laughs at Maggie’s stricken face) What, you
thought you could sweep out chimneys? What rubbish! It’s a man’s work!

(Miss Agatha exits)

LUKE: (Looking thoughtful) I can see where Mr. Black gets his name.

MAGGIE: Oh Luke! We’re going to be separated. I’ll never see you again. You’re the only one I
have closest to me. We have to stop the ol’ Crabapple!

LUKE: (Smiling a little) You used to tell me not to call her that.

MAGGIE: (continuing as if she didn't hear anything) I will convince her to switch you for Sam. If I don’t, that horrible Mr. Black will take you away!

LUKE: There’s nothing you can do. The decision has been made.

MAGGIE: (desperately) Don’t give up so quickly Luke! I’ll do something! I’ll hide you and say
you’re sick! I’ll say somebody kidnapped you! I’ll – I’ll –

LUKE: (loudly) No Maggie! It’s over! Nothing can be done. (Maggie starts crying) Don’t cry
Maggie.

MAGGIE: We gave to do something, Luke. Please think. Who was the one who planned all those
pranks on Miss Crabapple? Please, Luke, please!

LUKE: You’re right, Maggie. We can’t give up. You’re my sister!

MAGGIE: (Nodding) We have two choices. We can give up and let Mr. Black take you away, or
the other... (they look at each-other and nod)

BOTH: We runaway.

Scene 4 – Two Newspapers...and what they reveal

(Lights up on Uncle Archibald and Aunt Millicent having tea)

AUNT MILLIE: Would you like sugar in your tea, Archibald?

UNCLE ARCHIE: Yes please, Millicent.

AUNT MILLIE: How many?

UNCLE ARCHIE: Four lumps, if you please, dear.

AUNT MILLIE: Archie!

UNCLE ARCHIE: What? I’m rich now. I have gobs of money –

AUNT MILLIE: (interrupting) We have gobs of money, Archie!

UNCLE ARCHIE: Uh, yes. We have gobs of money and I (Aunt Millie gives him a look)...I mean we
can buy anything we want! I might as well waste my fortune on sugar cubes.

(Aunt Millie shakes her head but can’t hide her smile. Uncle Archie dumps a handful of sugar
cubes into his tea. The maid comes in and interrupts)

MAID: Sorry to interrupt, sir, ma’am, (she acknowledges each with a nod of her head), but the
paper just came in.

UNCLE ARCHIE: (taking the paper) Thank-you, Alice. You are dismissed.

MAID: (curtsying) Sir, ma’am.

(Maid exits)

AUNT MILLIE: Really, Archie, I have to say, I’m not entirely pleased with your sugar cube
addiction, well, not an addiction, Archie...but still, think of your waistline! I really ought not
to be talking to you about it, but as your wife, I believe I have the authority to bring up such
an important matter. When I married you, you were a good looking fellow who exercised...of
course, Archie, I’m not saying that you’re not a good looking fellow now, but you can’t deny
that you don’t exercise as much as did when you were young and now that we’re finally rich,
and we can actually afford sugar cubes now, I don’t want you to disregard your weight. Really
Archie, don’t be angry with me...I’m thinking of your health...Archie?

(Uncle Archie is oblivious to his wife’s speech and is absorbed in reading the front page of the
paper with a furrowed brow)

AUNT MILLIE: Archie? Have you been listening to anything I’ve been saying? Are you even
listening to me now? (She angrily grabs the paper out of his hands but pauses as she catches
a glimpse of the front page. Archie doesn’t say anything and continues to sit with a dazed
expression on his face. She reads quickly and gasps) Oh! It cannot be! (She hands the paper
back to Archie who barely moves and takes it without a word)

UNCLE ARCHIE: (in a dazed voice) Listen to this, Millicent: “Yesterday evening Miss Agatha
Crabapple from the Stonegrove Orphanage reports two runaway orphans by the names of
Maggie and Luke, ages 12 and 10. Miss Crabapple describes Maggie as a small, thin, curly brown
haired girl with blue eyes and her brother of the same stature with short, straight brown hair
and brown eyes. If anyone knows of their location they are requested to contact the police
immediately.”

AUNT MILLIE: You don’t suppose that this Maggie and Luke are the same Maggie and Luke we
disposed of at the orphanage six years ago?

UNCLE ARCHIE: (wearily) I can’t see how they couldn’t be. This Maggie and Luke in the
newspaper fit the exact description of our niece and nephew. We disposed of them at that exact orphanage and the ages of these runaway orphans are exactly the same age our Maggie
and Luke should be now. (He folds up the newspaper and stands up) Millicent, our fortune is at
stake.

(Lights down)

...................................................................................

(Lights up on Maggie and Luke in the streets of London, looking hungry and tired)

LUKE: Maggie, I’m hungry.

MAGGIE: You’re always hungry.

LUKE: Perhaps. But I’m really hungry right now.

MAGGIE: (she sighs) Me too.

LUKE: We haven’t eaten a thing since yesterday morning.

MAGGIE: We didn’t have a chance to grab anything. We had to get away from the orphanage
before Mr. Black came back.

LUKE: (yawning) I’m so tired, too.

MAGGIE: Of course! We couldn’t sleep at all last night if we wanted to escape.

LUKE: It was a little unnerving sneaking down those old, creaky stairs in the dead of night. I
thought for sure we were going to get caught by the ol’ Crabapple!

MAGGIE: But we didn’t. We escaped from the orphanage with barely any trouble and have
been walking around London, getting as far away as possible from the orphanage and Miss
Agatha, since the early hours of the morning.

LUKE: And I’m so hungry!

MAGGIE: I believe you already mentioned that.

LUKE: But we have to try and find some food somehow. Maybe we could –

MAGGIE: (interrupting, excited) Try and find work somehow. We could use the money to buy
bread.

LUKE: What about asking for work there (pointing)?

MAGGIE: The bakery? Luke! I highly doubt that they’d let two dirty orphans into their clean
shop to make bread.

LUKE: Okay, fine. Then what about there (pointing)?

MAGGIE: The print shop? Well, I guess we could try.

(Lights down)

(Lights up on Luke sweeping the floor and Maggie stacking newspapers)

LUKE: Well that was fairly easy!

MAGGIE: I’d say! The manager hardly asked any questions. We’ll earn about six pence or so and
that will pay for a couple loaves of bread, so we’ll be fine food-wise for a few days.

LUKE: This is certainly better than begging. Maggie, would you mind moving that big crate so I
can sweep in that corner?

MAGGIE: (sighing) If you insist. (she moves the crate) Oh! Look at these old newspapers that
got stuck behind here. They look so old!

LUKE: Look at that one headline! “Children Burned in Fire”. How sad...

MAGGIE: Let me see that. (reading more) “The Johnston house was burnt to the ground last
night in a terrible fire. No one knows how the fire started. Two children by the names of Maggie
and Luke Johnston, ages 6 and 4, were unable to escape the house and tragically died in the
fire.”

LUKE: What?! We’re not dead! At least I don’t think we are (pinching himself)...

MAGGIE: We’re quite alive, Luke. Now shush and let me finish reading! “Archibald and Millicent
Johnston are mourning the death of their young niece and nephew. Maggie and were orphaned
shortly before the fire and were staying with their uncle and aunt. Upon the death of their
parents, Maggie and Luke were left an enormous fortune. Because of the deaths of the young
heiresses, the fortune now goes to Archibald and Millicent Johnston, the only living relatives of
the late Nicholas Johnston, Maggie and Luke’s father...”

(Maggie and Luke look at each other)

LUKE: We should be inheriting Father and Mother’s fortune! But Uncle Archie and Aunt Millie
have our inheritance. Doesn’t that sound slightly suspicious?

MAGGIE: More than suspicious! I think that explains why we were dropped off at the
orphanage without an explanation from our guardians. And come to think of it (examining the
newspaper), that fire took place the day after Uncle and Aunt took us to Miss Agatha.

LUKE: You’re right!

MAGGIE: (folding up the newspaper) Luke, we need to find someone in authority, like a
policeman.

LUKE: (puzzled) Whatever for?

MAGGIE: So we can reclaim our stolen inheritance!

Scene 5 – Attempted Murder

(Lights up on Aunt Millie and Uncle Archie)

AUNT MILLIE: We must do something about those brats! I certainly don’t want to lose our
fortune!

UNCLE ARCHIE: I certainly don’t want to lose my sugar cubes!

AUNT MILLIE: Archibald! This is serious!

UNCLE ARCHIE: So is the fact I could lose weight!

AUNT MILLIE: They must disappear, die! This time for real, though. Have you any ideas,
Archibald?

UNCLE ARCHIE: I say we take a boat ride down the river to ease our minds. I’m sure I’ve lost five
pounds already!

AUNT MILLIE: Really, Archie – wait! Did you say river?

UNCLE ARCHIE: I should think so.

AUNT MILLIE: I think you’ve got it! We can drown our niece and nephew!

UNCLE ARCHIE: Millicent, I don’t want their blood on my hands. I say we hire someone to do it
for us.

AUNT MILLIE: You’re right. We can get a couple of rough-necked thugs to find Maggie and Luke
and toss them in a remote river. Then the inheritance will be fully ours!

UNCLE ARCHIE: You sure they can’t swim?

AUNT MILLIE: I’m sure that they will die. And this time it will be permanent!

(Lights down)

(Lights up on Maggie and Luke walking towards the bakery)

MAGGIE: It was awful nice of the manager to give us this money. What should we get, Luke?

LUKE: Those cinnamon rolls look de-licious!

MAGGIE: Forget it. I’ll get eight loaves of bread. (she goes inside the bakery and gets the bread)

LUKE: Where to next, Maggie?

MAGGIE: How does a picnic in the park sound to you?

LUKE: Terrific!

(They start walking and pass the thugs Harry and Norman hiding. They jump out and grab them.
Maggie screams.)

HARRY: Reckon these rascals are them, Norman? (Norman nods)

MAGGIE: What do you want with us?

HARRY: Oh, so you want to know? Harry will tell you then. Your lovely aunt and uncle want you
to have a boat ride, but without the boat! Sleep with the fishies! In other words, drown and die!

LUKE: No! (He kicks away Norman, grabs Maggie and they start running. The thugs chase them
until Maggie and Luke hide. Then they exit stage.)

MAGGIE: Phew! That was close! Thanks for saving me, Luke!

LUKE: No problem. I just didn’t want you to become fish food!

MAGGIE: How do Aunt Millicent and Uncle Archibald know about us?

LUKE: They probably read about us in the newspaper! Then they got scared because we’re still
alive and they might lose the inheritance!

MAGGIE: But I can’t believe that they would kill us! Of all the wretched and black-hearted
people out there, aunt and uncle should be the least evil. I remembered them as elegant,
dignified people!

LUKE: I know, Maggie, but money transformed them into horrid beasts. They weren’t very
wealthy when we were with them and I often heard them talking about how much they needed
money. They wanted to be rich and popular and get all the attention. That’s the evil thing about
money: if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.

MAGGIE: (nodding) You’re right. But now we have to find a policeman and report this! We also
have to find out where aunt and uncle live now, since the house was burned down.

LUKE: My guess is that they live in a rich neighbourhood with all that money.

MAGGIE: No Luke, not “that money”. It’s our money. And we can forget those details right now
until we find the policeman.

LUKE: Is that one over there? (He points)

MAGGIE: Yes!

(They run toward the policeman and get his attention)

POLICEMAN: How can I help you?

BOTH: We need some help!

(Lights down)

Scene 6 – A Happy Ending and Sugar Cubes

(Lights up on Maggie, Luke, and the Policeman walking through the streets of London)

POLICEMAN: This better not be a prank or else you two will get a lickin’ you will never forget!

LUKE: It’s true!

MAGGIE: We promise!

POLICEMAN: I certainly hope so. So let me get this straight: your uncle and aunt sent you to an
orphanage and then pretended you died in a fire to steal your fortune?

MAGGIE: That’s our theory. We haven’t seen our Uncle or Aunt in six years. We’re just piecing
together what we read in the newspaper and what we remember.

POLICEMAN: (thoughtfully) You haven’t given me much to work with. Now Mandy –

MAGGIE: (interrupting) It’s Maggie!

POLICEMAN: Sorry...Maggie. Anyways, Maggie, you said that your uncle and aunt are Archibald
and Millicent Johnston?

MAGGIE: Yes, sir.

POLICEMAN: Do you have that old newspaper about the fire from six years ago?

LUKE: No. Unfortunately we left it at the print shop.

POLICEMAN: (he sighs) There has got to be a better way for looking for your uncle and aunt
than knocking on every single door in the wealthy neighbourhoods, hoping that they’re home
and that they’ll even answer. (He takes out a handkerchief and mops his brow)

LUKE: Maybe we could start by asking people in the street or shops if they have heard of
Archibald or Millicent Johnston? Since our uncle and aunt are rich, they might be well known...

POLICEMAN: That’s not a bad idea. Let’s split up and meet back here in half an hour.

(Lights down)

(Lights up on Policeman and Maggie)

MAGGIE: Did you have any luck?

POLICEMAN: None. One person knew of an Andrew Johnston and another lady knew a Millicent
but they never heard of your aunt or uncle. Did you have any luck?

MAGGIE: Just as much as you. Oh, here comes Luke.

(Luke enters stage)

MAGGIE: Luke! We didn’t have any progress. I hope you were able to find something out.

LUKE: Nothing. (he sighs) This is a bit discouraging.

POLICEMAN: Well... (Brightening) how about we try this general store. Maybe they got an order
or something from the Johnstons.

MAGGIE: It doesn’t seem particularly promising...but I guess we could try it.

POLICEMAN: Good. Let’s go.

(They go inside the general store. A man is working behind the counter)

CLERK: (looking up with a smile) Good day folks. How can I help you? Oh! A policeman...
(nervously) I can guarantee, sir, that I am perfectly honest. My foolish youth is far behind me
and I haven’t –

POLICEMAN: (interrupting) You needn’t be worried, sir, unless you happen to be Archibald
Johnston.

CLERK: (surprised) Oh?

POLICEMAN: Have you heard of either Archibald or Millicent Johnston? They are rich folks; they
are in possession of a great fortune – a stolen fortune, a matter of fact.

CLERK: Really? Well, come to think of it...uh, give me just a moment... (he begins to rummage
through a large pile of papers)

LUKE: (whispering to Maggie) I wonder how long this is going to take... (Maggie smiles and puts
a finger to her lips)

CLERK: Aha! Here we go: an order from a Mr. Archibald Johnston for...oh my!

POLICEMAN: (eagerly) What?!

CLERK: Fourteen bags of sugar cubes! (There is a silence)

POLICEMAN: Sugar cubes?

CLERK: (rummaging through his papers again) Surprisingly...yes. Here is another order last
month for another enormous delivery of sugar cubes from the same Mr. Johnston. It appears
that your man has a sweet tooth.

POLICEMAN: Do you happen to have Mr. Johnston’s address?

CLERK: Yes! It’s right here.

POLICEMAN: (to Maggie and Luke) This is turning out a lot easier than we thought.

(Lights down)

(Lights up on Uncle Archie and Aunt Millie having tea)

AUNT MILLIE: Oh Archie! I am so happy right now!

UNCLE ARCHIE: (taking a handful of sugar cubes) Indeed...so am I. I’m so relieved that my order
of sugar cubes arrived. I was starting to run out!

AUNT MILLIE: Archie! The reason of my happiness, and it should be yours too, is because those
bratty little niece and nephew of ours and dead and gone and the fortune is finally all ours!

UNCLE ARCHIE: I’m relieved to know that I will never need to lower my order of sugar cubes: I’ll
always be able to afford it!

AUNT MILLIE: Archie! You and I are going to have to have a good long talk about this sugar cube
addiction of –

(There is a knock at the door)

UNCLE ARHCIE: Who could that be?

(Maggie, Luke, and Policeman enter)

(Uncle Archie and Aunt Millie gasp!)

AUNT MILLIE: Oh! It cannot be!

UNCLE ARCHIE: Great Scott! I – I

AUNT MILLIE: You’re supposed to be DEAD!

LUKE: (grinning) So sorry to disappoint you, aunt.

AUNT MILLIE: Oh! Well, that is I meant to say that...

UNCLE ARCHIE: You’re supposed to be dead because we thought you were burned in the fire.
(he laughs shakily) But you’re alive...I’m so happy...

POLICEMAN: Enough. I’ve heard enough. You are both arrested for attempted murder. Have
fun trying to convince the judge that you’re not guilty. (he leads a protesting Uncle Archie and
Aunt Millie off stage)

LUKE: Well, it looks like everything is turning out all right after all, huh, Maggie?

MAGGIE: You’re absolutely right, Luke. And I have no doubt that we will very soon be back in
possession of our stolen inheritance!

THE END



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