The Unexpected Ghost

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

Act One 1
Scene One

Setting: Dining hall of old mansion.

A table with tablecloth; 3 chairs around it--
other chairs off to one side. An organ or
piano with bench or stool in front
of it--candle(s) on it--open songbook on it.

A floor lamp.

One door located left and one right.--one to
outside, one to kitchen

At Rise: Set in low light, but candle on piano/organ is lit.
SFX thunder, lightning, wind.

Enter Miss Stratford, Officer Johnson, from outside

Officer Johnson
Come on, kids! Get in out of the rain!
(enter Angela, George, and Stewball. Stewball carries a box.)

Brrr! What a creepy old place!

It's gloomy sure enough ...just the right setting for a murder

Miss Stratford
A dark, stormy night--with the wind whistling! The perfect

I'll bet there's a skeleton in every closet! Hey, listen! I hear
their bones clacking now!

That's just your knees knocking, Stewball!

Miss Stratford
The house wasn't always like this. I knew the former owner -- Mrs.
Florence Belle Walters--a widow. Her husband Gordon had been the
bank president until his death. The place was bright and cheerful
when she was alive. But after her death it went to one of her
nieces--Jessica Belle.

Officer Johnson
Word around town is she's having some financial troubles. That's why
she turned this place into a bed and breakfast. But it looks like
she's not getting much business.

Miss Stratford
That's why she's letting our school drama troop do a murder-mystery
dinner theatre here.

Officer Johnson
Some free publicity for her, eh?

Miss Stratford
Right! It was a surprise that Florence left the property to Jessica.
Florence had no children--just two nieces--Jessica Belle, by her
brother, and Jean Owens by her sister. She often said her favorite
niece was "Jeanie." She lived here a while as a child. She was
sweet, but Jessica was pretty wild in her younger days. She and a
boyfriend had a brush with the law. Jessica got off, and when Mrs.
Belle had a heart attack, Jessica moved in to help care for her.
Florence's brother and sister are deceased. Jeanie seems to have just

Officer Johnson
The probate judge said the will wasn't notarized, but two of Mrs.
Walter's friends had signed as witnesses. Jessica was the only
relative they could find, so no one contested it.

There was no will on file at the courthouse?

Officer Johnson
No, that would make it public record. People prefer not to make their
affairs public until they have to. A will doesn't become a court
record until legally probated. It's sort of a shame that it works
that way.

Miss Stratford
Florence had the will in a safe here in the house, and she kept the
combination hidden. The trust officer at the bank was supposed to be
the only other person who had it. He opened the safe for the judge.

Hey, could Jessica have found the combination, opened the safe, and
changed the will?

Officer Johnson
That idea did occur to some people--but there's no way to prove it.

Miss Stratford
But it is strange that the will wasn't notarized. Surely a woman as
intelligent as Florence would have done that. . . and a had another
copy placed somewhere else.

Officer Johnson
They couldn't find one. And the house was searched.

This sounds almost like what happens in our play! Strange, isn't

(SFX thunder and lightning --Stewball drops box)

Yipes! In the old horror movies, this is where Bela Lugosi makes his

You've been watching too many episodes of Shock Theater!
(lightning--thunder-- Olga appears
from kitchen)

I hear voices--young voices. (She turns on lamp --stage
lights go up)

Stewball (hides behind Angela)
Who's she? Queen of the undead?

Ssh! Stewball!

You must be from the high school. I am Olga--the housekeeper. I bid
you -- good evening.

Miss Stratford
Yes, Olga. I remember you from when Florence Belle Walters lived
here. I'm Verona Stratford. I teach English.

Miss Florence--I miss her. It is so different here now. Yet
sometimes--at night--in the darkness--I still feel her presence.

Jessica (enter from kitchen)
Olga, you should've told me people were out here.

I was just coming to get you, ma'am.

I'm Jessica Bell--the new owner.

Miss Stratford
I'm Miss Stratford. And these are people from the school-- Officer

Hey, a cop!

Officer Johnson
Yes Ma'am. During the school year I'm assigned to the high school as
security officer. Regulations require that I be present at all
school functions.

This is Angela Justice; George Goodson -- and that's our stage
manager, Stuart Balsam.

Just call me "Stewball," ma'am. Everybody else does.

When I was your age, they called me "Jessie Belle.'

Miss Stratford
Ah-yes. Well, we appreciate the use of your inn. As agreed, you
serve the meal and we
put on the show. These kids know their parts, so we need only one
rehearsal here. We're still waiting on one person to arrive--a new girl, Kim Young. Her mother is bringing her. I hope they can find this place. It
might be a little difficult for newcomers to locate.

(Kim enters with her mother. Mrs. Young has a purse or pin
with initials J.OY. -- does not take off kerchief.)

Here I am, Miss Stratford!

Mrs. Waters
Sorry we're late. I had to stay and finish some work at the radio

Radio station? Hey, are you a disc jockey?

Mrs. Young
No, I work in the sales department.

Mom, this is Miss. Stratford.
(Mrs. Young shakes hands with Miss
And these folks are Angela, George, and Stewball.

Hey, I like that name --"JOY."

Mrs. Young
Oh, yes, thank you. Well, I'm glad to meet all of you.

Officer Johnson
Olan Johnson, school security officer. ( shakes hands).

Miss Stratford
That's Miss Belle, who owns the house. (Mrs.
Waters nods to her)
And Olga, the housekeeper.
(Olga nods--stares at her.)

You had no trouble finding this house?

No, Miss Stratford gave good directions.

Say, that's some costume! You look like a real gypsy.

Mom helped me make it. I am really glad to get to be in this play.
It seems like a neat way to meet people. We moved here just before
school started.

Well, you're really good at playing your character.

Ohh! This looks like a terrific place for it --lots of atmosphere!

This house belonged to my relatives. Uncle Gordon's been dead for
years. He was a big shot at the local bank. Aunt Florence died a
few months back, and I took over this place.

Miss Stratford
I knew your Aunt Florence. We were in the choral society together.
She was the accompanist. We often rehearsed here--in this room. .

Yeah, she really went in for that culture stuff. Even when she was
recuperating from her heart attack, she would still sit at that
keyboard and play.

(Stewball crosses to piano / organ)

What's this book? Songs of Stephen Foster.

Put that down! Miss Florence loved that music. She underlined page
numbers of her favorite songs. In fact, she died sitting right
there--playing from that book.

drops it)

Olga, why don't you finish whatever you were doing in the kitchen?

Very well, ma'am. (she exits )

Miss Stratford, we'd better get on with the rehearsal--while
Stewball's still in one piece!

Mrs. Young
What time will you be through?

Stratford .
This is a short play -- so we shouldn't take more than an hour.

Mrs. Young
Good. I've got some more work to do --but I'll be back by then.
(to Kim)
Play your part well, dear.

I will, Mom. See you later.
(Mrs. Young exits.)

Miss Stratford
Miss Belle, why don't you and Officer Johnson sit with me and watch?

Might as well.

(They sit in 3 chairs off to one side. Stewball takes scripts from
box, hands one to Miss Stratford--puts some cards on table ---takes out small tape recorder--then sets box in front of piano or organ--sits on bench.)

Miss Stratford
All right, take your places.
(Kim and Angela sit at table-- George
stands beside it. )
I'll have a script handy just in case. We don't have much in the way
of special effects--
just an offstage voice on Stewball's tape recorder. This play is
Mystery of the Vanishing Corpse. The setting is the library of a
British country estate. As the lights go up, Lady Bowilingbrook is
seated at the table with the gypsy, Madam Delphi. Reginald, the
butler, speaks.

"Madam Delphi, you should know that Lady Bowlingbrook is very
disturbed by the mysterious disappearance of her uncle, Lord

"My uncle was in frail health, it is true. But if he has passed on,
where is his body? He was last seen in this house, on the afternoon
of June seventh. But that night he failed to arrive at a dinner at
Hampton Estates. They sent people here, but they found no trace of

"And we discovered his will is missing. He kept it in a metal box
(Jessica reacts--but remains silent. Kim stares at

"Ah—Yes. The cards do show an evil omen! Something sinister has
happened in this place!"

"What is it? Oh, you must tell us!'

"Only those who have departed this world hold the answers. Therefore
we must call
upon the spirits. We must reach out to the world beyond—the world
of the dead! Do you dare to do this?"

"Oh, if it will tell us what has happened to my dear uncle—I am

" Lady Bowlingbrook, beware! It is frightful to reach out to the
other world. You may encounter evil forces. I fear the worst!"

"Nothing is worse than not knowing the truth. I must do this. I
Proceed, Madame Delphi!’

"Very well, then. Sit down sir--and join hands. ( George
sits.—takes Angela’s hand))
"Close your eyes. Remain totally silent .
(She tilts her head back)
“Let the veil be opened—the curtain that separates us from
“Let those in the afterlife reach out to us.
(stewball presses tape
recorder-- sfx of wind)
“I feel it! The spirits are moving. . . the spirits of the
deceased!” They hear us.
(George, Angels
" We wish to summon Lord Randolph. Your Lordship—are you there?

“ Can you hear us? If so, please give us a sign.”
(Stewball knocks on piano or organ—emits
a low moan)
"Silence! We have made contact! His Lordship is here! I sense his
(Stewball knocks again.)
"He wishes to speak! I can feel it!" Lord Randolph, your niece
and butler are here. What message do you have for them?"

(Suddenly from offstage comes an elderly woman's voice.)

Offstage Voice—female
Find the missing will!

Hey, what was that?

Where did that come from?

That sounded like an old woman!

I thought you said your sound effects were on your tape player.

Miss Stratford
They are! I never heard that before!

Find the missing will!

Miss Stratford
That -- that sounded almost like--like your aunt's voice!

Officer Johnson
But--that's impossible!

Hey, what are you trying to pull here? What kind of gag is this?

Miss Stratford
Miss Bell, I assure you -- I know nothing about it. The only voice we
have on this tape was recorded by our principal. Stewball, play the

(Stewball pushes tape player

Tape Recorder
Voice --male
"This is Lord Randolph! You must avenge my murder! Make the one who
did this answer to the law!"

That's nothing like the voice we heard just now!

Miss Stratford.
I don't know where that other voice came from.

And now, I would like to dedicate this next piece to my favorite

Now that definitely was your aunt's voice.
(An organ or piano playing "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair"
is heard.)
And that's her playing. She had her own style. I've heard her play
"Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair" many times. It was her favorite
--along with "Beautiful Dreamer."
(Olga enters rear right -- looks around)

That music! It is! It is! That is Miss Florence! She has come

Shut up, Olga!

How is this happening?

Hey, you don't suppose--you don't suppose this séance business really
worked? That maybe we actually did contact someone from beyond?

Hey, this is getting really spooky!

Now, let's just keep cool! There's got to be an explanation for

Officer Johnson
Then somebody tell me what it is!

Yeah! How did we hear that voice?

And that music--her favorite song for her favorite niece--Jeanie!

Listen! I was the favorite niece. I stayed here and cared for her
when she was sick and dying. That's why she left this house to me!
Jeanie left town years ago and hasn't been heard from since.

Offstage Voice—female
Find the true will! Find the true will!

(Angela, George, Kim huddle together--Stewball hides under table )

Olga, are you playing some kind of a trick?

No, ma'am. I was working in the kitchen when I heard the voice--and
the music.

Well, we can't get any rehearsing done until we solve this mystery.
Miss Belle, is there anyone other than us in the house?

No. Olga and I live here--no one else. And the doors are all
locked, except the front--
where you came in. Those are special locks. Uncle Gordon had them
installed long ago.

Officer Johnson
A good security move.

Angela (rises)
Say, you have air vents. And they're open.

They're for the furnace-- in the basement.

So the voice we heard could have come up through those vents. I
suggest you search this house. We'll help.

Stewball (lifts tablecloth--peeps out)
We will?

We will! So come out from under there. (he does)
If we have to go prowling around in the basement, we might need

There are a couple out in the kitchen.

Officer Johnson
And I've got one in my car. But you kids stay here. Miss Stratford
and I will help. Don't any of you leave this room! I'll go get my
flashlight and be right back.

[End of Extract]

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