The Enigma of Father Vera Daniel by Michael Gryboski

This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

Act I, Scene 1:

The study room of the house of FATHER VERA DANIEL. JEAN-BAPTISTE
ESPALION and HECTOR MONTBARD on stage, with Montbard looking various
papers on a desk while Espalion looks at a painting of Father Vera

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: It is a beautiful portrait. The artist was
very talented.

HECTOR MONTBARD: What? What are you talking about?

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: The painting. Here, the brush-strokes enforce
the emotional stability of the individual. And here, with the eyes, a
glassy look as though about to move. Yes, an exceptional artist
painted this one.

HECTOR MONTBARD: Chief Inspector Espalion, we were ordered to find
this man.


HECTOR MONTBARD: Then may I ask, how is leering at that piece of art
getting us any closer to finding him?

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: Probably no more than sifting through his
papers. Have you found anything?

HECTOR MONTBARD: Nothing. Everything here is of no relevance.

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: Then, Inspector Montbard, we can agree that
my "leering" and your searching have produced the same results.

HECTOR MONTBARD: Perchance the youthful Inspector Toulouse has been
more successful.

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: Possibly. (Andre Toulouse enters.) And here
he is.


JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: Report, Inspector Toulouse.

ANDRE TOULOUSE: Well, I did as you ordered. I searched the bedroom,
the kitchen, and the living room. I lifted up the mattress and found
nothing, I looked through his books and even overturned a table and
found the same. Needless to say, he won't like how I redecorated.

HECTOR MONTBARD: Youthful aggression claims another victim.

ANDRE TOULOUSE: Inspector Hector Montbard, whatever your complaints
about my methods, the fact is I completed my search of the remainder
of the domicile while you continue to bury yourself in a load of
trivial papers.

HECTOR MONTBARD: And our esteemed leader stares at paintings.

ANDRE TOULOUSE: Well I am sure it is for a good reason. A lot can be
made known of a man who is on plaster. How he projects himself in the
art could indicate how he is off the canvas.

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: An excellent point, young inspector. For
this, you may receive a commendation.

ANDRE TOULOUSE: Thank you, Chief Inspector.

HECTOR MONTBARD: It just does not make sense to me. This priest, he
had everything. He did exactly what he was supposed to and now that he
was to be rewarded, he runs away! Maybe he was demon-possessed.

ANDRE TOULOUSE: Oh come now, it wasn't an easy decision.

JEAN-BAPTISTE ESPALION: No it was not, you are correct again
Inspector Toulouse. There was something more. He was by all accounts a
good man, but I would never want to be him. The demons he wrestled
with tear most men asunder. (To the painting.) What were you thinking,
padre? What convinced you to do what you did?

End scene.

Act I, Scene 2:

A sanctuary, with pew racks and an altar with crucifix. In front of
the altar is FATHER VERA DANIEL and in the congregation is MICHELLE
FATHER VERA DANIEL faces the congregation.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
(Makes sign of the cross as he goes through the Names, congregation
does likewise.)

CONGREGATION: Sicut erat in principo, et nunc, et semper: et in
saecula saeculorum. Amen.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Introibo ad altare Dei.

CONGREGATION: Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.

CONGREGATION: Qui fecit coelum et terram.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper
Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis
Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi Pater: quia peccavi
nimis cogitatione verbo, et opere: (Strikes his chest three times) mea
culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper
Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam,
sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te Pater, orare
pro me ad Dominum Deum Nostrum.

CONGREGATION: Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis
tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam.


CONGREGATION: Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper
Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis
Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi Pater: quia peccavi
nimis cogitatione verbo, et opere: (CONGREGATION strikes their chests
three times.) mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor
beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum
Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos,
et te Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum Nostrum.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis
peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam.


End Scene.

Act I, Scene 3:

Outside, church exterior in background. Tables with bowls and vats of
soup. Behind the tables are FATHER VERA DANIEL, MICHELLE PROVENCE,
MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE. Surrounding the tables along left, right, and
center stage are the poor, as well as others in line in front of the
tables. Those in line include HENRI CLERMONT and MAXIMILIEN APOLLONIA.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: There seem to be more of them this week.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Another factory closed two weeks ago.

MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: It's the fifth one this month.


FATHER VERA DANIEL: The price of war.

MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: Here you go, young man. (Gives Henri Clermont
a bowl of soup.)

HENRI CLERMONT: Thank you monsieur, but I would rather accept help
from your daughter.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: Henri! I haven't seen you in days. Where have
you been?

HENRI CLERMONT: Traveling along the roads, going about the
neighboring towns.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: Judging by your position in line I can assume
you've found no work. (Pours a bowl of soup and gives it to someone
else in line.)

HENRI CLERMONT: None. There's just nothing out there. I know
because I asked, I must have asked every storekeeper I ran into.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: How about that propetaire, Madame Rousillion? As I
understand lately she has been in need of workers for her stable.

HENRI CLERMONT: Maybe, but she won't hire me.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: How come? (FATHER VERA DANIEL begins to listen as
he continues to hand out soup bowls.)

HENRI CLERMONT: Because Madame Rousillion only hires workers on

MICHELLE PROVENCE: That is not a problem. Half the town saw you tame
the horse that ran amok months back.

HENRI CLERMONT: But Madame Rousillion was not one of them.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: I could tell her about it and how you need work.

HENRI CLERMONT: Maybe, but let's be honest. You know how she
isshe only trusts certain people. You know, older people, members
of the noblesse

MICHELLE PROVENCE: I'll see what I can do. For now, eat your soup
before it gets cold.

HENRI CLERMONT: Yes mother(Smiles at Michelle Provence as he

MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: I see you have taken to socializing with the
unfortunate. Or maybe, just one particular unfortunate.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: Well, dad, he iswell, I met him not long

MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: Please do not try to explain, I fully
understand the whole you no longer being a child situation. The
problem is not with how you feel, its about who you feel towards

MICHELLE PROVENCE: He is a good man

MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: He is someone who is unable to find work. In
my day, that was considered vagrancy and could be punished with

MICHELLE PROVENCE: Dad! He can't help it. Work has just dried up
these days, what with the factory closings and the poor harvest.

MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: Small issue. Michelle, let's say that this
Henri was a good man, as you believe. Let us say he is trying
sincerely to find employment. Until he does so, he has no way to
support you. If he cannot support you, then he cannot have my


MAYOR GERARD PROVENCE: Besides, if your application to art school is
accepted, you will find plenty of good men from the noblesse class who
can also economically provide.

MICHELLE PROVENCE: Of course, dad. (The line ends, with FATHER VERA
DANIELgiving a bowl of soup to MAXIMILIEN APOLLONIA, who turns goes to
a group of poor to sit down and eat. Michelle Provence sees his face
and is disturbed.) Father Daniel, do you need any help cleaning up?

FATHER VERA DANIEL: No, that will not be necessary. Your father and I
can put things away just fine.


FATHER VERA DANIEL: By the way, I overheard the situation of Henri

MICHELLE PROVENCE: He's been having problems finding work.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: I think I can help.

End Scene.

Act I, Scene 4:

Living room of a mansion. Pieces of furniture, elegant wallpaper.
AGNES ROUSILLION on stage, FATHER VERA DANIEL enters at onset.

AGNES ROUSILLION: Bon jour, Padre Vera.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Bon jour, Madame Rousillion.

AGNES ROUSILLION: Please, Padre, call me Agnes.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Very well, Agnes. How is the farm coming along?

AGNES ROUSILLION: Fair, Padre Vera. Harvests are plentiful and the
horses continue to sell for good prices. Even these days I am still
able to make a profit.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: I am surprised, given the failures and struggles
of other businesses.

AGNES ROUSILLION: The credit belongs to my late husband. He was an
excellent investor. Since I had to look after things here, I developed
an understanding of the markets.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: I can see that.

AGNES ROUSILLION: With the embargos on many of the old trade routes,
business has shifted more locally. I had to fire several men because
they were from Syland or Madrea.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Then you have plenty of work and not enough

AGNES ROUSILLION: You know the Bible, Padre: "The harvest is
plentiful, but the workers are few." Well, not so much the harvest
but the stable.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: You need people to look after the stables?

AGNES ROUSILLION: In the past I let some fellows from Madrea do it.
They were the ones my late husband brought in to oversee things,
bringing with them Madrean steeds. Good breed. When war broke out the
men left out of fear for their lives.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Are you familiar with a young man named Henri

AGNES ROUSILLION: Not particularly.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: I came to tell you about how he would be a good
worker for your stable.

AGNES ROUSILLION: Another charity to perform. Padre Vera, you are a
philanthropic man. I would give him work here, but I am not simply
looking for another earnest individual. I need someone who can do the
harder tasks of stable work, like taming a stiff-necked stallion.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Clermont would serve you well. Not too long ago a
merchant in the town plaza lost control of his horse and the creature
wildly ran around the area. While people were running for cover the
young Clermont went towards the beast, grabbed it by the reigns, and
began to calm it down. Within a few long moments, the beast was sedate
once more and the plaza went back to normal.

AGNES ROUSILLION: Sounds like a good man for the position. Tell him
to come here within the next couple days and I will talk with him
about the responsibilities.

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Sure, I will do so.

AGNES ROUSILLION: Before you leave, Padre Vera, would you like some
tea? Its more expensive, thanks to the blockades, but its just as

FATHER VERA DANIEL: Not for me, Agnes, thank you. However I will take
some for a friend of mine.

End Scene.

[end of extract]

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