Synopsis

The Devil and Daniel Webster

The Devil and Daniel Webster $10.99

Stephen Vincent Benet

Published by Dramatists Play Service

6 Male 1 Female

Guests are dancing merrily at the wedding of Jabez Stone, a young New Hampshire farmer, in 1841

But Jabez carries a burden ...

He's sold his soul to the Devil and on the stroke of midnight he must deliver it up to him

Shortly before twelve Mr Scratch, a lawyer, enters and the company is thunderstruck

Jabez bids his guests begone - he has made his bargain and will pay the price

His bride Mary, however, stands by him

And so does his friend Daniel Webster, hailed by all present as "the greatest man in the U.S."

Webster proceeds to argue against the Devil as though they were in court, insisting that a jury must decide Jabez's fate

Mr. Scratch agrees, and a jury of both the living and the dead appears to hear the case

Webster will represent Jabez

But Scratch soon out-argues him and so Webster demands a jury of real Americans - living or dead

Very well, agrees the Devil, he shall have them

And so ghosts appear.

Webster thunders with passion, but to no avail

And so at last - realizing Scratch can better him on technical grounds - he changes tactics and appeals to the ghostly jury, men who have retained some love of country

Rising to the height of his powers, Webster performs the miracle of winning a verdict of Not Guilty and saving the young farmer's soul

A brilliant bit of American folklore and a delightful comedy

One-act

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