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The Will

The rich Jensens and the poor Flanovans had been feuding families for as long as anyone could remember, but the reading of a will brings a twist.

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The Will

The Jensens and the Flanovans had been feuding families for as long as anyone could remember. The Jensens are rich and the Flanovans are poor. Janna Jensen awaits the day her father dies and leaves her all. But there’s a surprise in store.

Author:    Daris Howard


     The Jensens and the Flanovins had been feuding families for as long as anyone could remember. The Jensens were rich and owned almost everything. The Flanovins were poor and hard-working.
     Janna Jensen was not only rich but snobby. Mildred Flanovin Parkinson was poor but kind-hearted. Janna’s father always seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for Mildred and helped pay for her schooling and many other things. This just made Janna hate her more.  Janna can’t wait until her father dies and leaves her everything so she will run the town and put some people in their place. But when Mr. Jensen dies the town is in for a big surprise.

The Will

The Will


Daris Howard

The Will

 Copyright 2004  

by  Daris Howard

All Rights Reserved

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that THE WILL is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved. 

The amateur live stage performance rights to THE WILL are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made. 

Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.

Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source Co.”

Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

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Mildred Parkinson – A nurse about 50 years of age

Janna Jensen – A high society woman of about 50 years of age.

Susan Jackson – A kind, younger woman in about her mid thirties.

Linda Hamilton – Kind of snooty lady.

Barbara Milton – Kind of snooty lady.

Jim Flanovin – Old gardener and chauffeur.  Walks with a limp.

Jack Perkins – Mr. Jensen’s Lawyer.  (Or could be a woman with a name like Alice if desired.)

Emily – Girl about 9.

Tammy – Girl about 7.

Hannah – Baby girl.

There can be other children if desired.  The children can be boys or girls with whatever names are desired.

Act I Scene 1

{The scene is a parlor room of the Jensen residence.  It has a couch and two arm chairs.  Janna, Susan, Linda, and Barbara are sitting around talking.  Susan is quieter than the rest.  She is new to the group and trying to fit in.  They are sitting around drinking coffee or tea and socializing.}   

Linda: Did you see that dress Widow Milroy was wearing to church?  It was hideous.  Why, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a dress like that.

Barbara: She must be trying to attract men, and at her age.

Janna: All she’ll attract is pneumonia.

Barbara: I think it would have looked better on old man Harvardson.

{They all giggle at this as Mildred comes in from stage left dressed so you can tell she’s a nurse.  The giggling stops immediately.}

Mildred: Janna, your father is resting comfortably.  I’m sorry I’m so long.  He asked me to read a few verses from the bible to him.

Janna: You should address me as Miss Jensen.  I’m sure you will plan to bill us for the extra time?

Mildred: No, of course not. You know very well I haven’t billed you for a penny.

Janna: I’m sure you’re just saving up.

Mildred: I am not.  He has shown kindness to me I can’t ever repay. {Turning to leave, and then turning back.} Oh, and Janna, {Janna cringes at not being addressed as Miss Jensen.} I have put his medicines on the counter in the kitchen. {In a condescending tone as if she doesn’t trust her to do it.} Can I trust you to make sure he gets them on schedule this time?

{Mildred leaves stage right.}

Susan: Why did you want her to call you Miss Jensen?  The rest of us call you Janna.

Janna: Because she is a Flanovan, or was before she married.

Susan: A Flanovan?

Linda: The Flanovans were a family that moved in here before you ever came to our town.  They worked the coal mines until the coal ran out.  Most of them have moved away, but Mildred, she married Jack Parkinson so she stayed here.

Susan: So what was wrong with the Flanovans?

Barbara: They are foreigners, new to this town.

Susan: But that doesn’t make them bad.

Janna: You will find that it is the foreigners and outsiders that cause most of the problems.

Susan: But I’m not originally from this town.  

Linda: Being a Daughter Of The Revolution, you are not really a foreigner.  A relative of, who was it?

Susan: Nathan Hale.

Linda: Yes, as a relative of Nathan Hale you have more famous ancestors than any of us.

Janna: The Flanovans have been a problem for a long time.  Why, even my great-great-grandfather had problems with them.

Susan: But I thought you said they were new here.

Linda: Well, you see, Janna’s great-great-grandfather was the first one to settle her.    That’s why this is called Jensenville.  The Flanovans moved in after that.

Susan: How long after that?

{The others all kind of roll their eyes and act disgusted.}

Barbara: A year, two years.  It really doesn’t matter.  The point is they came in and didn’t realize their place as foreigners.

Susan: But if they came all that many years ago they probably came to America sooner than some of our ancestors.  Under those definitions all but the American Indians would be foreigners.

{They begin to get annoyed with her.}

Janna: Well, some of us had ancestors that came off of the Mayflower.

{Old Jim comes in with some flowers to replace the ones on the table.  He can shake his head at some of their arrogance.}

Linda: Besides, wait until you get so you know the people around here.  You will understand that some are just better than others.  There’s those that are common workers, and there are those that manage and own the factories.

Barbara: Janna’s father owns most of the farms and factories around here, and our husbands help manage some factories.  Those like the Flanovans were the common workers.

Susan: My grandfather always used to say that the value of a person was not on the outside, but what they were on the inside.

Janna: {Coughing as if choking} Yes, well, anyway, we didn’t come here to discuss the Flanovans or anyone else.  With our illustrious name, we have been asked to help with the church bazar.   Is everyone willing?

{All the ladies nod and agree.}

Susan: {Excited} Oh, I love bazaars.  Do we make quilts, make baked goods to sell, or what?

Linda: There are others who will do those things.  As Daughters Of The Revolution it is our job to simply act as hostesses so that the affair is proper.

Susan: Oh, we get to help serve punch and stuff.

Barbara: {Shocked} Serve!  I should say not.  There are hired help to do that.  We are to greet people.

Janna: And make donations in our family names.

Susan: {disappointed} Oh.  But I’m very good at tying quilts and knitting.

Linda: {Condescendingly} Well, then, maybe you can be in charge of that section of the bazaar.

Susan: I’m not sure how much donation we can afford.

Barbara: But didn’t you just buy the old Dilinger place?  

Susan: Yes.  But we got it for a good price since it needs a lot of repairs.  My husband is good at that, but being an artist and me being a photographer we don’t make a lot of money.

Janna: Perhaps I should come have my portrait done.

Susan: My husband is a very good artist.

Janna: I was thinking that as heir to the Jensen estate, when my father passes away and I inherit this place, I should have an appropriate portrait to hang in the great hall.

Jim: {Mumbling} If you do inherit the place.

Janna: Did you have something to say, Jim?

Jim: Not to the likes of you.

Janna: You are quite impertinent for a servant.  If you have something to say you can say it loud enough it can be heard.

Jim: All right then.  I questioned if your father is going to leave you everything.

Janna: And who else would he leave it to?

Jim: How about your brother?

Janna: You know very well Justin angered my father when he eloped with that Flanovin!  Besides, no one has heard from him in years.

Jim: Perhaps there is another.  One more deserving.

Janna: And what are you implying?

Jim: That there might be someone else you haven’t thought of.

Janna: I can assure you there is no other.  And when I do inherit this place the first thing I will do is fire anyone on the staff that is as insolent as you.

Jim: That might be kind of tough to do.

Janna: Oh?  And why is that?

Jim: Because I wouldn’t work for a high fallutin’, got-her-nose-in-the-air, got-to-come-in-when-it-rains-or-she’ll-drowned, worthless, egotistical, female.  If you inherit the place I would have quit long before you could ever fire me.

{With that he heads off stage.  Susan seems a bit amused, but the others look shocked.}

Susan: Who was that?

Janna: That’s Jim, the gardener and chauffeur.

Barbara: He is also a Flanovan.

Linda: Mildred’s uncle, to be exact.

Barbara: Why did your father ever hire him? 

Janna: I don’t know.  He’s worked for my father since I was about twelve years old, right after the war.

Susan: And you also have a brother?

Linda: Had a brother.

Janna: Yes.  He was about twelve years younger and his name was Justin.  But Justin fell in love with a Flanovin.

Linda: Mildred’s sister Margaret, to be exact.

Janna: Father forbade him from seeing her and Margaret’s father forbade her from seeing him so the two of them would sneak out at night to meet.

Barbara: When the two fathers found out they pulled out guns and got the family relations aligned to fight like the good old days.

Linda: They would have too, if the governor hadn’t sent in the state police to put an end to it.  He said we don’t feud like that in the 20th century.

Janna: That and Jim stepped in and got both sides to calm down.  That old, meddlesome gardner.

Barbara: It’s too bad, because it would have been down right exciting.

Linda: And no doubt the Flanovans would have gotten the worst of it.

Susan: So what happened to Justin and Margaret?

Barbara: They eloped and no one ever saw them again.

Janna: My father sent people to search for Justin, but never found where he went.

Linda: I bet they went out west.

Barbara: Nah.  They probably caught a ship to South America.

Linda: Things cooled down a bit between the Jensens and the Flanovans after that, but they still haven’t been real friendly.

Barbara: Except for Mildred.

Linda: Yeah.  Janna’s father must have felt bad because he has always treated Mildred different.

Janna: That’s poppycock!  My father doesn’t treat Mildred different because he feels bad.  He treated her that way long before Justin eloped.  Even before he was born.

Barbara: Well that’s what people around the town say.

Janna: They’re wrong.  I remember about my ninth or tenth birthday, just before father went off to war, they made me invite Mildred over.  Imagine that.  A Flanovin at my birthday party.  They laughed about how it was her birthday too and they even gave her presents.  

Linda: Janna’s father paid for Mildred Flanovin to go to school to become a nurse and all sorts of things like that.  

Janna: He even paid for things like piano lessons for her.  He would act so proud of her it made me sick.

Barbara: Are you sure it wasn’t because of Justin.  The town has said it was.

Janna: It wasn’t.  This town has forgotten too much, but I haven’t.  Pappa and Mama started that long before Justin met Margaret.  I can tell you what it was.

Barbara: What?

{Janna motions them all closer.  They gather in.}

Janna: She is a wily, scheming woman.  She just knows how to dupe people.  But we won’t fall for it, will we?

{Barbara and Linda shake their heads.}

Susan: But I thought she was quite sincere.

Janna: Oh, oh, oh.  Be careful.  She’s already working her charms on you.

Susan: But how could she do that as a nine year old.

Janna: Don’t ever underestimate her.  I’ve seen my parents fall for it since we were small.  That’s why I despise her so.  My father and mother doting on her, her a Flanovan, when the whole town knows how much Father hates them.  When she became a nurse I thought that would take care of it since everyone knows my father hates nurses.  But instead she is the nurse he wanted to help him as he has gotten older.

Susan: Your father hates nurses?

Barbara: The story is he even had one driven out of town.  

Linda: Nearly had her tarred and feathered.

Barbara: Almost had the doctor she worked for driven out, too.  Would have if he hadn’t been the only doctor in town and the officials got him to calm down.

Susan: Why did he do that?

Janna: I’m not quite sure.  I remember the nurse coming over to our house when I was younger.  Probably making a house call on my grandfather who was deathly ill at the time.  Anyway, I remember my father yelling and my mother crying.

Linda: Talk around town was she administered a bad dose of medicine.

Janna: Anyway I remember Father going to lots of meetings with his lawyer and the doctor.  The nurse left town and Father said he’d make sure she never came back again and she hasn’t.  My father is not the kind of person you mess with.

Susan: I’d like to meet your father.

Barbara: You better hurry.  He isn’t going to live much longer.

Susan: Oh, I’m sorry.

Janna: I just tend to think of it as he is going to a deserved rest.

Linda: {Giggling} It doesn’t hurt to think that you will be the richest person in the whole county, maybe whole state when he goes, does it?

{Janna, Barbara, and Linda all giggle while Susan looks shocked.}

Susan: But won’t it be hard to lose your father?

Janna: Sure, I’ll miss him.  But he has been so miserable for so long.  And when he’s gone I’ll run things my way.  Get rid of a few of those who don’t know their place.  We’ll have some of the fancy parties like we used to have before he got sick.  I’ll get rid of that little house he gave me and move in here.  We’ll have a glorious life.  And, I’ll make life miserable for the Flanovans that are left so they will decide it’s better to go somewhere else. {As Susan looks shocked they carry on as if it is normal.} More tea, anyone?

{Fade to blackout as they continue on in conversation.}

Act I Scene 2

{This scene is played in front of the curtain.  Susan is heading as if going over to Mildred’s place while Mildred is heading the other way.  Susan is carrying a bundle.  As they pass Susan stops and calls after Mildred.  Sometime during this scene it might be good to have Barbara and Linda come on and see Susan and Mildred talking and exit visibly upset at Susan. }

Susan: Excuse me, aren’t you Mrs. Parkinson.

Mildred: {Pausing, and answering carefully as if not sure if she’s talking to friend or foe} Last time I checked.

Susan:   I was just on my way to see you.  I’m Susan Jackson and I have been asked to be over the quilts for the church bazaar.  Some ladies in town said you were very good at quilting and even had some quilting frames.  I was hoping you could maybe help do a quilt.

Mildred: I would be willing to do that, as long as I am not doing the hostess things.

Susan: I think Janna Jensen and her friends are doing that.

Mildred: I thought I recognized you.  Didn’t I see you with them at their Daughters Of The Revolution tea?

Susan: Yes.

Mildred: And you still came over to ask me to help?

Susan: That surprises you?

Mildred: I know what they think of me.

Susan: I’m new here, but It hasn’t taken long for me to see that there are certain prejudices some people have.  However, I grew up with parent who taught me to try and decide for myself about people and not let things I hear color my judgement.

Mildred: Do you realize that simply talking to me could make you an outsider to their group?

Susan: If it does it does.  I can’t live my life worried about what everyone thinks of me or I would be psychotic.

Mildred: You’re an interesting person.  I would be happy to help with the quilting.

Susan: I don’t think the ladies doing the quilting should have to pay for them.  I got some who didn’t want to quilt to donate money and we bought a whole lot of fabric at a second hand shop.

Mildred: You bought your fabric at a second hand shop?

Susan: Sure.  What’s wrong with that?

Mildred: Oh, I agree with you and all.  It’s just I’m sure the ladies that donated the money were the, should I say, Daughters Of The Revolution type and if they knew their money was being used to buy fabric at a second hand shop…

Susan: If they had wanted to buy new fabric they could have donated more.  For as rich as they talk they are pretty scotch.

Mildred: How did you get them to donate anyway?

Susan: It’s all in how you ask the question.  I just asked them whether they wanted to make a cash donation or equivalent hours quilting.

Mildred: {Busts out laughing} And obviously they wouldn’t be caught dead working on the quilts.

Susan: Either way, we got the material. {Handing a bundle of quilt blocks to Mildred} Here are the ones for your quilt.  It will probably be more than enough but I thought you might like to have some variety to choose from.  Then in two weeks we are going to get together and have a quilting bee at the church.  Can you bring you quilting frames there?

Mildred: Sure.  I actually have three sets.  It would be fun.  We haven’t had a good old fashioned quilting bee in this town for a long time.  It’s refreshing to have someone of your attitude in town.

Susan: I just hope we can stay.

Mildred: What do you mean?

Susan: My husband is an artist and I am a photographer.  We are having trouble finding enough work to make ends meet.

Mildred: I will sure tell everyone about you.

Susan: He’s a great artist and I can do weddings or any kind of family portrait.

{They start to walk off together.  The lights can slowly begin their fad here.}

Mildred: I’ll noise your name around a bit.

Susan: I’d appreciate it.  I best be going.  Thanks again for doing the quilt and helping with the quilting bee.

Mildred: Glad to.  

{Lights fade as they exits.}

Act I Scene

{In the Jensen’s parlor.  Susan, Linda, and Barbara are sitting there while Janna is getting ready to call the meeting to order.}   

Janna: The monthly Daughters Of The Revolution meeting will now come to order.  We have a very important order of business to be brought before the group.  Barbara, will you proceed?

Barbara: It has been brought to our attention that a certain new member of our group has been seen with the enemy.

{They all turn and look at Susan.}

Susan: {Realizing they mean her}  What do you mean enemy?

Barbara: We have it on a very good source that you have been seen around town with a Flanovan.

Linda: I’ve seen it myself.

Susan: Yes.  She is helping with the quilting bee.

Janna: So you do admit that you have been socializing with that kind of people?

Susan: I have been spending time with Mildred, if that’s what you mean.

Linda: Do you not realize how traitorous that is?  

Susan: What are you talking about?  Her ancestors fought for the American Revolution too.

Barbara: Sure.  The other side.

Susan: They did not.  One of her ancestors died trying to get a message to George Washington at Valley Forge.

Linda: Probably shot by our side as a spy.

Susan: He was not.

Barbara: And now you’re even defending them.

Janna: The point is, either you’re for us or you’re against us.  You can’t have it both ways.

Susan: You mean either I accept exclusivity into your club or I’m out.

Janna: I suppose you can think of it that way.

Susan: Well, I’m afraid I will have to be out.  I want to be friends with everyone, even you.  But I don’t want to be told who I can and can not associate with.

Janna: Well then, if that is the way you want it, you are officially removed from the Daughters Of The Revolution rolls.  

Susan: All right.  But one thing you should remember is that just because you wish something to be true does not make it so.  Truth doesn’t change by the whim of person.  I am as patriotic as you are and so is she.

{They all stand to face Susan, menacingly.}

Janna: And here is something for you to remember.  If you and your husband are going to make it in this town you need us.  No one is going to come to you for photography or art work if we tell them not to.

{Susan leaves as the others smirk.}

Barbara: I guess you told her a thing or two.

Linda: She won’t be messing with us.

Janna: Do you think we may have been a bit hard on her?

Barbara: Oh, no.  She needed to learn her place.

Linda: In fact, I think we need to make sure she knows we mean business.  I will take care of that in the usual way if you want.

Janna: All right. {Then acting as if everything is normal}  Is everyone ready for some refreshments?  I had Annie make some fudge brownies that I know you’re going to love and…

{The lights fade as Janna continues to talk.}

Act I Scene

{This scene can be played in front of the curtain with just a park bench.  It is evening.  Susan is sitting on the bench crying.  Mildred comes in carrying a grocery bag and a bundle.  She stands there for a minute before making her presence known.  When Susan sees her she tries to hide the fact that she was crying.}

Mildred: May I have a seat?

Susan: Oh, sure.

Mildred: I hear around town that you were kicked out of the Daughters Of The Revolution group.  {Susan just nods.} I’ve also heard that things have been done to harass you a bit.

Susan: The tires on our car were slashed.  We had rocks thrown through two of our windows, and our mailbox was smashed.

Mildred: If it helps at all, everyone around town has a great respect for you.

Susan: That’s nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.  We were barely making the payment on our house.  I don’t know how we’re going to pay for some new tires.  We’ve talked about the possibility of selling and moving on.

Mildred: I hope you will reconsider.  You’ve got to be there for the quilting bee.  Besides, I’ve brought a few things I think will help.

{She sets the bag down.}

Susan: What’s that?

Mildred: The bag is food from Jensen’s garden.

Susan: From the Jensen’s garden?

Mildred: Yes.  My Uncle Jim is their gardener and chauffeur.  He has permission from Mr. Jensen to share extra food with those that need it.  You know, Mr. Jensen really does have a good heart and the older he gets the softer he gets.  And Uncle Jim said to make sure you know there’s more when that’s gone.

Susan: That is so kind of you and him and Mr. Jensen.

Mildred: Kind of ironic coming from there, isn’t it, being it is Janna Jensen that is causing the problems for you.

Susan: Yeah.

Mildred: But that’s not all.  A person can’t live by bread alone.  You still need some money to pay bills and buy tires. {She plops the bundle down.} All the ladies doing the quilts donated their own scraps to make a quilt to raffle off for you.

Susan: {Starting to cry} You shouldn’t have.

Mildred: Hey, what’s one more quilt?  We’ll throw it on a frame at the quilting bee and have it done in no time.  It should raise you some pretty good money.

Susan: I don’t know what to say.

Mildred: Just say you’ll stay.  

{Susan nods.}

Susan: Why did the ladies do that for me?  They hardly know me.

Mildred: Maybe because we’ve all been on Mildred’s hit list before.

Susan: What do you mean?

Mildred: I’ve had my tires slashed a few times.  They pay some guys to do it.  Everyone around town knows.

Susan: Why do they do it?  I mean I can understand them barring me from their group.  But to slash our tires and things like that.

Mildred: It’s their way of trying to make sure you know your place, or that they keep theirs.  But you know what, I feel sorry for them.

Susan: Why?

Mildred: It goes back to one night, just before my father died.  We were sitting out under the stars like this.   He told me someday I would probably have lots of money. {Turning to Susan}  Isn’t that a laugh?  But he made me promise him that I would always remember something that he had learned in his life.

Susan: What was it?

Mildred:  He said a person is happy only when they learn to love the simple things of life.  They must learn to love the sunrise and sunset; the beating of rain on the roof, a hike up a mountain, plain food and plain cooking.  They need to learn to keep their wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.  He said we must learn to like people, even though they may be different from us.  But most of all, my father said, we must learn to enjoy the laugh of a child, their hug and their kiss for in their eyes we look into the future.

Susan: That’s beautiful.

Mildred: I’ve never forgotten it.  But Janna has never enjoyed those wonderful things. {There is a short pause.  Then Mildred gets up.} I ought to be heading home.  I have another quilt to get ready.

Susan: {Standing up}  Can I come help?

The Will

Author: Daris Howard
     Daris Howard is an author and playwright who grew up on a farm in rural Idaho. He associated with many colorful characters including cowboys, farmers, lumberjacks and others.
     Daris and his wife, Donna, have ten children and were foster parents for several years. He has also worked in scouting and cub scouts, at one time having 18 boys in his scout troop.
     His plays, musicals, and books build on the characters of those he has associated with, along with his many experiences, to bring his work to life.
    He and his family have enjoyed running a summer community theatre where he gets a chance to premiere his theatrical works and rework them to make them better. His published plays and books can be seen at He has plays translated into German and French and his work has been done in many countries around the world.
     In the last few years, Daris has started writing books and short stories. He writes a popular news column called Life’s Outtakes, that consists of weekly short stories and is published in various newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Canada and has won many awards for his writing.

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