This is my first fanfic, so I appreciate all forms of feedback. Neither "Daria" nor "Much Ado about Nothing" are my inventions, so please don't sue me, I won't get money by this. I used Shakespeare's immortal text and the recommendable film by Kenneth Branagh, so it's not completely according to the original.




"Much Ado about Laughing"


The characters:

Trent Lane as Prince Trent of Fremont

Charles Ruttheimer as Don Charles, his distant cousin

Jesse Moreno as Count Jesse of Swedesville

Tom Sloane as Sir Thomas of Fielding

Anthony DeMartino as Don Anthony, Governor of Lawndale

Max Tyler/Nick Campbell as Guardsmen of Don Trent

Brad&Brett Ruttheimer as Servants of Don Charles

Kevin Thompson as Chief of the Lawndale Guards

Timothy O'Neill as Friar Timothy

Jane Lane as Jane, daughter of Don Anthony

Daria Morgendorffer as Daria, ward of Don Anthony

Jodie Landon as Jodie, a friend of Jane

Tiffany Blum-Deckler as Tiffany, Jane's chambermaid

Ted DeWitt-Clinton as Theodore, the Prince's Messenger

Joey, Jeffy, Jamie as Constables of Lawndale



Act One

 Scene I

Lawndale High, at the auditorium. Trent walks on the stage and adresses the public.

Trent: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. You'll now see a play about love and hate, about several plots to influence people, about friendship and match-making... Anyway, it's a cool play. Have much fun!

The curtain opens to reveal a group of people dressed in light medieval clothes, among them Daria, Jane, Jodie and Mr. DeMartino. Ted enters the stage and adresses DeMartino.

Ted: All hail, my liege. I haft a message from noblest Prince Trent to be delivereth unto thy ownst hands... (he hands him a letter)

Daria: (whispers to Jane) Just peachy. One sentence and he forgot that Ms. Li abandoned the medieval text because Kevin couldn't understand it.

DeMartino: (trying to hold back in spite of Ted's mistake) Good. Let me see it. (he reads the letter) I see that Prince Trent has been victorious in battle.

Ted: (noticing his fault) Oh yeah. He has lost only a few men, and none popular or even good at his job...

DeMartino: This says that a man called Count Jesse has assisted the Prince in all matters of importance. I never heard of him. What kind of man is he?

Ted: He has fought with true courage and enthusiasm. Prince Trent made him his deputy after the battle.

Daria: Excuse me, sir, but has young Lord Ride-giver survived the battle? I am interested to hear how he awaited the news of victory in a safe place far from the havoc of war.

Ted: I'm afraid I don't know to whom you're referring, mylady...

Jane: Oh, she's referring to the honourable Thomas of Fielding. Every time she meets him, she tries to outwit him with her sarcasm. It's always a sight to see them exchange words...

Ted: He has done his duty as a brave soldier, lady. Indeed, he proved to be the best knight a commander can have.

Daria: (mockingly to Jane) Oh dear, the honourable Thomas must have been even more generous with wine than last time. (nods towards Ted) And this young fool has probably had more than his share in the distribution to praise the host like this.

DeMartino: Come on, Daria. Even you have to admit that Sir Thomas is a valiant man who stands loyally and fearless to his principles.

Daria: You're right, uncle. Although I hope that his sword tasted the blood of the enemy this time. Last time it only tasted the commandeered provisions he ate while all the other knights fought somewhere else...

Ted: You're funny! (remembers his role again) I see that this gentleman does not enjoy your respect or your friendship, mylady.

Daria: All he enjoys while being in my company is my pity. But every time I see him, he's got a new companion listening to his babbling. Please tell me whom he chose this time to be the target for his antics.

Ted: Well, he rode all the time next to Count Jesse and they discussed eagerly... (looks to the entrance) But there is Prince Trent with his officers!

A group of males enters, also dressed in medieval garb. Among them are Trent, Tom, Jesse, Max, Nick, Upchuck and his cousins. Trent motions them to halt as DeMartino adresses him.

DeMartino: Welcome to my modest house, Prince Trent. I am glad to hear about your great victory and I invite you and your men to stay at my house for some time to relax from the strains of combat.

Trent: Whoa. That'll cost you dear! (returns to "princely" style) I thank you for your generous offer, noble Anthony. Me and my men have endured the hardships of war for a long time. It would be good to turn to my music again... But tell me, are these your daughters? (he motions towards Jane, Daria and Jodie)

DeMartino: (laughs) Only the black-haired one, mylord. The others are my ward Daria and their friend Jodie. After my wife died, I couldn't find another woman to share my life with, so Jane's my only child and will be my heir...

Tom: (to Jesse) She may be his daughter and heir, but I'm really glad that she neither inherited his temper nor his looks. (realizes that Jesse is not listening, but stares at Jane) Anyway, it will be good to relax for some time...

Daria: (interrupts him) Awkward, isn't it? You try to say something and nobody listens to you. You should get used to it... (Tom turns to her)

Tom: At least you seem to be listening, my dear Lady Misery. Though I wonder why it must be you of all ladies to adress me. For I am loved by all of them except you, but I love none.

Daria: Thank heavens for that. I would pity any woman you love. I would never want to hear a man swear his love to me.

Tom: Which will keep at least one man from a scratched face and a horrible future.

Daria: If you were your face, I could only improve it by scratching. How was playing war with your buddies? I remark that you haven't put on weight like the last time. You weren't allowed to be in charge of the supply in this war, right?

Tom: I'd love to have a horse with the velocity and endurance of your tongue. Now please excuse me, I have to talk with my war-playing buddies. (he walks towards Trent)

Trent: (raising his voice) Listen to me, please. Don Anthony has offered us to stay here for at least a month and longer, if we won't have eaten up his supplies by then. (to DeMartino) Let me introduce my cousin to you, Don Anthony. (he motions Upchuck to come to him) Charles, this is Anthony, our noble host.

DeMartino: I welcome you, Don Charles, and hope that you will have peace with your cousin from now on. (to Trent) Let us go, mylord.

All people except Jesse and Tom exit.

Jesse: Have you noticed Anthony's daughter, Tom? She seems to be a very pleasant young lady...

Tom: You mean Jane? I looked at her. But not in the way you did. You measured her with your eyes like a tailor... But wait. You want my judgement about her?

Jesse: (eagerly) Yes, please tell me what you thought when you looked at Jane.

Tom: Well, I didn't fail to see several characteristics of beauty around her, and I just heard Anthony saying that she is the sole heir of his fortune. Most men would be attracted by the combination of wealth and beauty in a woman, I'm sure as hell not. Do you want to buy her or why do you ask me about her?

Jesse: (dreamily) Could all the riches of the world buy such beauty?

Tom: Lots of it. Do you like her?

Jesse: Jane is the sweetest lady I ever saw. She must be the incarnation of beauty...

Tom: I've seen her too and I disagree. That Daria has been equipped with much more beauty than her, but sadly also with a tongue to drive away all males. If not for that, the admirers would line up to court for her. (alarmed) You don't plan to marry and become a husband, do you?

Jesse: I would lie to myself and you if I denied that, and even if I had sworn celibacy, I would have to break my oath.

Tom: Dammit! Why must every man except me be seduced by female beauty? One day I'll be the only bachelor in the whole army. Go for it if you must, but you'll soon regret it, I tell you. (Trent enters) But there's the prince.

Trent: Hello, guys. What are you doing here while everyone else is preparing for dinner?

Tom: I could tell you, mylord, but you wouldn't like it.

Trent: So tell me please, Thomas.

Tom: So be it. Our noble Jesse here is in love. Yes, in love. With Anthony's daughter. He just told me that and said that he intends to marry her.

Jesse: He's right, mylord. I can't think of anything else since I laid eyes on her.

Trent: That's good news indeed. That lady is certainly worth it, I know.

Tom: Now don't support him please. I just tried to get him off that stupid idea. Marriage! As if a man would be better off chained by a woman than free on his horse!

Trent: One day you'll meet a woman you'll fall for, my dear Tom. Then you'll understand that women are the salt of the earth.

Tom: I was born by a woman; thanks for that. She raised me; thanks for that too. But the day I decide to marry one will be THE day, I tell you. No woman will ever get me in her net as long as I can still fight it.

Jesse: I'm sure that one day you won't fight it. That day might not be far...

Tom: Oh please. If that should ever happen, write a sign to hang around my neck: "Here stands Thomas in shame, defeated by a woman."

Trent: Well, before you continue the discussion, one of you could go to Anthony and tell him that I'll meet him at supper. Tom, could you do that?

Tom: Yes, mylord. In the meanwhile, please talk to that poor wretch before he wrecks his life and abandons his freedom. (he leaves)

Jesse: Mylord, I assure you that I'm serious about courting for Jane. I saw her before we went to war, and I liked her. But now the fighting is done and I realize that I want to change my life. I want to marry Jane and live with her.

Trent: I believe you, Jesse. And if you want to marry Jane, I will ask Anthony myself about her.

Jesse: Don't you think that I should wait for some time before I explain myself to her?

Trent: Why wait? Tonight is a great party and everyone will wear masks. I'll tell Jane about your love and court for her, pretending I'd be you. Soon she'll agree to the proposal and we'll celebrate a rousing wedding. (they leave)


 Scene II

In another room at the house. Upchuck and Brad are sitting at a table, talking to each other.

Brad: But why are you sad, mylord?

Upchuck: I hate my current situation. Since Prince Trent forgave me for hitting on his gothic chick last month, I sit around and do nothing but thinking. I can't fight in his army or do anything useful and everyone thinks that I depend on him. I want to do what I want even if I do wrong.

Brad: Isn't there anything which would amuse you, mylord?

Upchuck: A good quarrel between my cousin and his friends would amuse me. Something to hurt Trent and separate him from his followers... (Brett enters) Do you bring any news?

Brett: As a matter of fact, I do. I overheard the Prince Trent and Count Jesse as they talked. They spoke about marriage.

Upchuck: Marriage? But who shall be the couple?

Brett: It seems that Count Jesse intends to marry Anthony's daughter Jane. The prince will propose as Jesse's messenger on the party tonight.

Upchuck: Jesse! That dumbass plans to marry the sweet Jane? She once blew me off when I tried to date her. There has to be a way to make mischief. Will you assist me?

Brad: Sure, mylord.

Brett: With all our power. (they leave)


Act Two

 Scene I

At the hall. DeMartino enters with Daria and Jane, all three are masked. Several masked people are already standing there.

DeMartino: What do you think of Don Charles, Daria?

Daria: He seems to be a real tight pain in the neck, uncle. I can't understand why the prince cares about him.

DeMartino: Daria, I wonder how you can possibly expect a man to fall in love with you if you keep on talking like that. If you could hold back your tongue just a bit...

Daria: Look uncle, either a man takes me in spite of my tongue or he doesn't. If he does, he knows what awaits him. If he doesn't, it's not my problem. I'll never fall in love with a man if men don't change fundamentally. The man who enchants me hasn't been born yet. I'm afraid you'll have to endure the pleasure of my presence in your house for some more time... (she smirks)

DeMartino: (sighs) You're so weird sometimes...

Jane: But she's right about Don Charles, dad. He's such a creep.

DeMartino: (getting serious) Jane, I have to tell you something important. My attendant told me that he overheard a conversation between Prince Trent and Count Jesse. The Count said that he loves you and asked the Prince to propose to you tonight at the party. I wanted you to be prepared for that.

Jane: Count Jesse? That's the long-haired muscular guy, right? Hmmm...

Daria: Oh dear, I think I just heard wedding-bells ringing. But always remember that you're supposed to be ruled by your husband. He'll get a BIG surprise...

DeMartino: Look, the knights are coming.

Several masked men enter. After a second, they can be recognized by their haircuts as Jesse, Trent, Tom, Upchuck and his cousins. Trent turns to Jane immediately while the others walk on.

Tom: Good evening, mylady. Would you like a short walk through the garden?

Jane: I'd appreciate that, dear sir. Walk ahead. (they leave)

In the meanwhile, Tom has turned to Daria and has mumbled something inaudible. She answers him.

Daria: You want to know who told me I was a misery chick and a misfit? Well, that was the honorable Sir Thomas. I'm sure you know him, since you're obviously a member of the prince's closest circle.

Tom: (trying to conceal his voice) Well, I am a friend of the prince. But I don't think that I know this gentleman Sir Thomas you spoke of. What kind of man is he?

Daria: He's the prince's jester. A man full of poor jokes and dull wit; he's only liked by the roughest villains because he meets their level of humour. If he'd be man enough to approach me, I'd tell him that personally; but since he isn't, give him my regards.

Tom: If I meet the gentleman, I'll tell him your opinion about him, that's sure. Oh look, the dance continues! (Everyone but Jesse, Upchuck and his cousins leave)    

Brad: That's Jesse, I know him by his haircut.

Upchuck: Let's start the fun. (adresses Jesse) You're Sir Thomas, right?

Jesse: (trying to sound like Tom) Yes, I am. What do you wish?

Upchuck: You're a true and loyal friend to the prince. He has left along with Lady Jane, I fear that he intends to marry her. This must be prevented at all costs since she's not equal to him, neither by birth nor by moral.

Jesse: (shocked) Why do you think that he intends to marry her?

Brett: I heard him telling one of his friends that he'd propose to her this very evening.

Upchuck: So did I. Let us go to the banquet now. (They leave)

Jesse: (now alone) So the prince lied. He wants Jane for himself, not for me. Should I tell him about that conversation? But I don't even know who these men were. So be it. Farewell then, sweet Jane. (Tom enters, unmasked)

Tom: Jesse? (Jesse takes off his mask) Come with me. The prince has got your Jane.

Jesse: (bitter) I hope they live happily ever after. Leave me alone.

Tom: Don't be angry with me, I just told you. I'm neither the prince nor Jane.

Jesse: Ok, then I'll leave. (He does as told, leaving Tom back)

Tom: Poor fool. But the things Daria said about me... Poor jokes and dull wit my foot! I shall have my revenge against that badmouthed woman soon.

Trent: (enters) Hello Tom. Have you seen the count?

Tom: Well, he was here a minute ago. I told him that you had asked the lady about her hand in marriage and that you probably succeeded. I offered him my help, but he preferred to leave.

Trent: Why should he leave?

Tom: I think he misunderstood you. He said that you wanted the lady for yourself.

Trent: But I wooed her for him! Oh, by the way, the lady Daria told me that she danced with a man who told her you badmouthed her seriously.

Tom: That woman says what...! Oh, she turned around all I said and twisted it into big and ugly words, harming my reputation in the process. No man'll ever understand that... witch!

Trent: Talking of the devil, there she comes.

Enter Jesse, Daria, Jane and DeMartino.

Tom: I feel like making a LONG walk. Do you have any errand to be done at the end of the world, mylord? I'd go to the pole and back rather than talk to that HARPY! Or do you need ANYTHING which would present the need for me to leave right now?

Trent: (laughs/coughs) Not really, but I could need your superb conversational skills here.

Tom: That's the one thing I can not assist you with right now. (He leaves)

Trent: Well mylady, I fear that you're not Tom's favorite sight right now.

Daria: I wonder why...

Trent: I think you beat him down, check and mate.

Daria: That could be the reason. But I brought you Count Jesse, whom you needed ASAP.

Trent: Hello, Jesse. Why are you so sad? I have wonderful news.

Jesse: If these are the news I expect to hear, I don't want to hear them.

Trent: Whoa! Someone must have misinformed you about my doings. I asked both Jane and her father about the marriage and both agreed. Here she is!

DeMartino: I give you my daughter, Count. The prince asked for her to be your wife, and I agree with all good wishes I know. (Jane embraces Jesse)

Jesse: Cool! I mean, I feel so happy, I've never felt so happy before...

Daria: Cut the romance crap, Jesse. And Jane, just kiss him before he keeps on talking like that forever. (Jane kisses him briefly. In the background, Kevin appears, looking around with a dumb grin. Trent notices him)

Trent: (to Daria) Who is this strange man over there, Lady Daria?

Daria: (looks over to Kevin) Oh, that jerk? He's the chief of Uncle Anthony's Guard Company. Since his position was called "Queen's Bailiff" in former times, he keeps telling everyone he's the "QB". A real idiot. (looks over to Jane and Jesse, who are still smooching and kissing) I hope my cousin doesn't eat him before the wedding. It would be a real shame to ruin all the preparations.

Trent: You seem to take all this without any deeper feelings, mylady. (Jane comes over to them after unwrapping herself from Jesse)

Daria: Oh, it's my fate that everyone but me finds a spouse. I'm used to it now.

Trent: I'm going to get you a husband which deserves you, Lady Daria. Any wishes?

Daria: Your father produced nice husbands, mylord. Do you have a brother who's like you?

Trent: (forgetting his role) Let me think... no, Wind is married at the moment... (back to his role) I don't think you'd like Don Charles... would you take me, Lady Daria?

Daria: (blushes) Um...well, ehm... (Jane elbows her) Oh, I don't think I could, mylord. You are too good for normal days, I'd need a second one for everyday life. But please, don't be offended, mylord. As I said, it's my fate to stay single.

Trent: (laughs) You're a special one, Daria. One day you'll find a wonderful husband.

Daria: Sure I will. But in the meanwhile, I've got more important things to do. Goodbye, mylord! (she leaves)

DeMartino: She's really a special woman, mylord. I hope that she'll find a man someday.

Trent: Well, how about Sir Thomas?

DeMartino: They would talk each other to madness even before the wedding. Surely you don't intend that?

Trent: I'll tell you what I'm intending. But tell me Jesse, when do you want to marry?

Jesse: Tomorrow, mylord. I'd rather do it tonight, but the priest will be asleep by now.

DeMartino: We'll need at least three days to carry out all things needed for a wedding worthy of the event we'll celebrate. Next Monday would be the earliest date.

Trent: And in the meanwhile, we'll do a bit of matchmaking. I'm planning to make Tom and Daria fall in love with each other. It's their destiny to do so; and since neither of them has realized it by now, we'll make them realize it. But I'll need all your help with this. What do you think?

DeMartino: I'll do what you propose, mylord, regardless how hard it may be.

Jesse: Likewise, my lord.

Tom: How about you, Lady Jane?

Jane: I'll do everything that's necessary to help Daria to a good husband, mylord.

Tom: Then it's a deal! Before the week is over, we shall have these two chatterboxes wordless from mutual love. (They leave)


 Scene II

In Upchuck's room again. He is sitting there, talking with Brad and Brett.

Brett: So it's a fact; Count Jesse will marry the Lady Jane in less than a week.

Upchuck: Okay, both of you, I want suggestions. Any way of preventing this marriage, defiling Jane's or Jesse's image or the reputation of the prince will be welcome!

Brad: I may have an idea, mylord. I told you how I seduced Tiffany, the chambermaid of Lady Jane...

Brett: You certainly told me. Several times, and each time you did, the story became dirtier and your appetite stronger. Please stop it, I just had dinner.

Upchuck: Shut up, Brett. How could that help us threaten the marriage?

Brad: Well, she's almost the same height as Jane and has a similar haircut. If you'd see her from behind in the night, you could hardly see a difference between them...

Upchuck: Okay, so she resembles her. How can we use that?

Brad: Let's imagine that she and I are making out at the window of Jane's room, watched by you and others from below. What - and whom - would you think you see?

Upchuck: Now I understand! If I show that scene to Jesse and the prince, they'll cancel the wedding or even abandon her in front of the priest! Wonderful! I'll give you 1000 ducates if everything happens that way. Just tell me when I have to appear.

Brad: I'll go looking for Tiffany, mylord. Goodbye. (they leave)


 Scene III

In the garden. Tom is walking through an orchard.

Tom: (talking to himself) I wonder how a female smile can turn a noble warrior like Jesse in a salivating fool. He used to be an image of all good characteristics a man should embody; fighting, riding, drinking, laughing were his greatest joys and a troop of hardened knights and soldiers his favorite company. Now that he's been enchanted by Lady Jane, his mind is occupied with sweet songs, daydreaming, poetry and other sweet nonsense. I don't know if something or someone could ever transform me into such a geek, but I can't imagine it. (draws a deep breath) At least not a woman, as far as I know them. A woman may be fair, that won't get me, another one is wise, no attraction, a third one may be caring, but as long as there's no woman with all good graces available, I'll stay single. (beat) She must be rich..., that's for sure, fair..., or I won't look at her, intelligent..., of course, a mild spirit, a true lady, a good cook..., oh well, if she's all that, her fingernails may well be painted if she insists on that... (enter Trent, Jesse, DeMartino, Nick and Max. Tom hides behind a bush) The prince and our dear Mister Fiancé! This could get interesting!

Trent: Let's sit down and hear some music!

Jesse: A wonderful idea. Say, have you seen Thomas?

Trent: (spots Tom behind the bush) No, I haven't seen him. But let's not talk about him now. Nicholas, Maximilian! Play us a song! (They pull out a guitar and a small drum and begin to sing/play "Love is a thousand times" by Roger Hodgson. As they end, Trent and the others applaud enthusiastically while Tom looks sickly) That was wonderful!

Tom: Any kind of animal uttering such noise would have been crucified long ago. Singing about love and romance crap my foot! (Max and Nick exit)

Trent: (squinting in Tom's direction to give his friends a hint) But listen, Anthony. I just can't believe what you told me this morning. You really heard your niece Daria plead her love to Sir Thomas? (Tom looks shocked) I've never imagined that this lady could ever love any man! And of all men she chooses Thomas, whom she outwardly despised!

DeMartino: Well, my prince, I told you that my daughter told me that. The poor Daria is much too shy to tell Thomas directly. But my daughter swears that it must be true.

Tom: (behind the bush) Can it be true? Or are they just pulling my leg?

DeMartino: Of course I asked my daughter at once if Daria wasn't just mocking her on that.

Jesse: Well, I have asked your daughter and I've seen Daria as she looked at Thomas. If she's only acting this, then it's the best acting ever seen. The effects I've seen are genuine.

DeMartino: That's what my daughter told me. She saw the effects too.

Trent: But if she's so desperately loving him, why doesn't she confess her love to him?

DeMartino: There's nothing she'd rather do, but she fears to be rejected and mocked by him.

Jesse: Jane told me that she's sitting on her bed, asking herself: "Shall I tell him? Tell him I love him after I met him with disdain and sarcasm so often?" She's desperate. Jane says she gets up at night to write letters to him, only to tear them up when they are finished. She just can't tell Thomas. If he'd reject her, she'd be devastated. (quietly to Trent) He believes us, I feel that. We're on the right way.

Trent: So there's no hope until Thomas knew it from someone else. Maybe we should tell him about her affection to him.

Jesse: I'm against it. He'd only start tormenting her because of her love. You know him.

Trent: It's really a pity. Daria offers everything a man could ever hope for. She's perfect in every way, except for her love to Thomas. I still think we should tell him.

DeMartino: Please don't do this, mylord. He would make fun of her, and that'd be her end.

Trent: You're right. Thomas is a noble warrior, a smart counselor and a worthy addition to every group of honourable men. His only bad character trait is his hate for all women. (stands up) Well, it's really tragic. But I think that the dinner will be ready by now.

Jesse: (whispers) If he isn't persuaded now, then I'm damned.

Trent: And the fun isn't over yet. Anthony, would you ask Daria to call Thomas in for dinner? Make sure that she passes the place where Jane and Jodie are sitting. (they exit)

Tom: (appears from behind the bush) It's hard to believe, but it must be true. They heard it from Jane, and they say they pity Daria for loving me. (pauses for a second) Daria loves me! But why? They said that I would only make fun of her if I knew; I'll show them they're wrong, because now I know it, and I won't mock her because... I LOVE HER, TOO! They said that she offers everything a man can hope for, and I know that it's true; she's rich, fair, intelligent, a mild spirit, a true lady, a..., oh, her cooking skills aren't important for me! (beat) Of course they'll remember all the things I said before about women, marriage and love. To hell with them! When I said that I'd die without having married, I didn't know I would marry before I die. (spots Daria appearing in the background) But there comes Daria. She's beautiful! I see real love in her face.

Daria: (looking rather annoyed) Sir Thomas! Against my will, I was sent to call you to dinner.

Tom: I thank you for that, dear Daria, and I hope it hasn't been too strenous for you.

Daria: If calling you were strenous, I wouldn't have done it. If you're not hungry, then stay here with your thoughts. (she exits)

Tom: "Against my will, I was sent..." (pauses) So she was afraid that I could see her love for me in her mimic? Now I know she must love me. (he exits)


Act Three

 Scene I

Another part of the garden. Jane, Jodie and Tiffany are sitting on a bench.

Jane: Tiffany, would you please go and get Daria? Tell her that you just overheard Jodie and me speaking about her.

Tiffany: Buut..., weren't we... like, supposed to go to dinner or stuff? (Daria appears in the background, slowly walking towards them)

Jane: There she comes. You can go to dinner, Tiffany, we'll follow later. And no, this won't make you look fat! (Tiffany exits. Jane turns to Jodie) If I wouldn't be partly guilty of her present state, I'd strangle her sooner or later!

Jodie: Oh, come on, Jane. How could you imagine she could mistake your yellow paint for orange juice? You know she wasn't so bright before that.

Jane: (sighs) You're right. But now, let's give Daria something to think about. (As Daria appears on a way behind the bench, Jane gives Jodie a sign to begin)

Jodie: So Jane, are you sure that Jesse and the prince are right, saying Thomas would love Daria? Somehow I doubt that. (Daria hides behind a nearby tree, looking shocked) Has he told Daria of his affection?

Jane: The prince and my dear fiancé asked me if I could tell her that, but I persuaded both not to do this ever, if they had any pity for Thomas.

Jodie: But why not? Doesn't he deserve such a pleasant life as Daria can ever offer him?

Jane: He deserves as much as any woman can ever offer him. His problem is that he fell for Daria, whose heart can never feel real love, least of all for poor Thomas, for whom she has nothing but old jokes and brutal snide. If she learned about his love, she'd surely use it for her acerbic comments, leaving him desperate.

Jodie: So there's no hope that Thomas will ever be happy again?

Jane: I fear he won't. His heart chose the wrong woman to love. He could give her all she ever could wish for, but she wouldn't recognize her luck. Therefore I'll tell Thomas to keep his love forever hidden. (she sighs again) It's tragical. He's a real gentleman.

Jodie: But if someone else told Daria about Thomas' love? Don't you think she would see how lucky she can be to have his love?

Jane: Forget it! She knows about many things, but love's not among them. Anyone who told her about that would get as much scorn as she could muster.

Jodie: So poor Thomas will stay lonely. (beat) Tell me, when will you be married, Jane?

Jane: Tomorrow, and I count every second. Let us go to eat dinner now. (whispers) If that wasn't persuasive I don't know. She was all ears. (they exit)

Daria: (steps out) Can this be right? Thomas... loves me? And I... I do also love him, I know it now! He does indeed deserve all the love I can give him... and I will give him all my love, as much as I can. (she exits also)


 Scene II

Trent and Jesse stand at a window in the hall. DeMartino and Tom enter.

Trent: you'll stay here with your wife while I ride back to Fremont with the other knights.

Jesse: Do you really think you'll be able to manage without me?

Trent: I will, but I don't think Jane will. I still have Thomas to guard me. There he comes!

Tom enters, looking very thoughtful. The others exchange short glances at his sight.

Tom: Dear sirs, I feel different today.

DeMartino: I'll certainly say so. But why are you different. Are you in love, Thomas?

Trent: (laughs) That'd be the day! You know that Thomas is immune against love. He's sick, I say.

Tom: I am sad and happy at the same time. I feel light, then I feel as heavy as a stone. Whatever it is, I'd like to get rid of it.

Jesse: Are you sure that you're not in love? You look like three days of melancholy. I'd say that he's in love. (to Trent) He's not the only one suddenly shot down by Cupid, you know.

DeMartino: (makes an obvious "cut" motion) At any rate, he should get cured. He's not himself!

Tom: I know something which could improve my present state. (gestures to DeMartino) Dear Anthony, would you please take a walk with me? I must talk to you, and I'd prefer it if these PLAYGROUND heros wouldn't hear it. (they exit. Jesse and Trent start to laugh)

Jesse: He's really asking for Daria's hand now! I hope Jane and Jodie had the same effect on poor Daria.

Trent: Jane said that Daria looked completely convinced. We'll have a double marriage next week, I think. (Upchuck enters) Good morning, dear cousin.

Upchuck: Good morning, my prince. And a good morning to you also, Count. I'd like to have a word with both of you. Am I right that you'll marry tomorrow, Count?

Jesse: You know I do, Charles.

Upchuck: I only know that maybe you'll change your decision after you heard what I'll say. For I'm afraid that your beloved Jane has already lost whatever qualities she had to other men, before you came.

Jesse: (shocked) You mean that... she's already had boyfriends?

Upchuck: Lots of them. But I don't want to influence you. Please come with me to a place where her window can be seen and you'll see for yourselves.

Trent: I don't know if you're right, Charles. But if your words are true, the marriage can't be made.

Jesse: I don't know what to think. Let us go now. (they exit)



Trent, Jesse and Upchuck stand in a dark corner. They look up to a balcony where Brad is smooching with a black-haired girl who has her back turned to the observers. From our POV, it is clear that it's Tiffany, but since she wears the clothes Jane had worn last scene, she really looks a bit like Jane. Down in the corner, Trent and Jesse look terrified while Upchuck smiles slightly.


 Scene III

At the front gate. The three J's, wearing some kind of uniform, stand in front of the gate. They look very bored and unenthusiastic. As Kevin enters the stage, they try to leap to attention but give a poor show.

Kevin: Hi there! (remembers his role, gets serious) Are you good and dependable men?

The J's: Yeah!

Kevin: And d'you know the duties of a good guard?

Joey: Sure thing. Guard the entrance, control every intruder and do not fall asleep.

Kevin: I'd have thought it was tackling the receivers, but okay. And if someone doesn't want to be controlled?

Jeffy: Easy. Run after him and get him.

Kevin: And if you know that he's some mean bastard?

Jamie: In that case, he's bad news and we'll leave him alone.

Kevin: That's the spirit! You shall be the corporal, Jules..., sorry, Jumbo... whatever.

Jamie: It's Jamie, but thanks for your trust.

Kevin: But the most important thing is to stay as quiet as possible. These high guys in there'll have a marriage tomorrow, so they gonna need all the sleep they get today. Tomorrow night, they'll be to busy to sleep... (snickers, then gets serious again) And if you need me, just call for the QB! (he leaves)

Joey: This sounds like the ideal job to me. Let's sit down under that tree to take a nap.

Jeffy: Yeah! I don't think that guard guy will come back before morning.

They sit down in the shadows, being partially hidden from view. Brett and Brad enter, talking happily.

Brett: Now please tell me how you played a trick on the Prince and his followers. Do you really think they fell for it?

Brad: Sure they did. I told that Tiffany chick to wear the garment Jane wore when Count Jesse saw her for the first time... (snickers) ..."to make it a special occasion".

Brett: Good thinking. But what happened after that?

Brad: I made out with her directly on the balcony of Jane's room, making sure that her face could not be seen from the yard. Since I could overlook the yard between hot kisses, (snickers again) I saw our master with his cousin and Jesse. Damn, I acted so good, even Don Charles looked terrified!

Jeffy: (whispers) That's treason and deception! We should arrest those scoundrels!

Joey: (whispers back) You're right! But let's keep on listening.

Brad: Did you hear anything...? Ah, never mind. However, the results of this masterpiece are 1000 ducates for me, satisfaction for Don Charles and some broken hearts for Prince Trent's company. It's a pity I can't be eyewitness when Jesse faces his bride at the wedding...

Jamie: Okay, that's enough evidence. Let's get them. (the three J's jump out of the shadow on Brett and Brad) You are hereby arrested under the law of Don Anthony! Get them to the guard captain to interrogate them. We'll see how you'll like a night in dungeon! (they drag the prisoners away)


Scene IV

Jane stands in her room, trying on a wedding dress. Tiffany and Jodie stand beside her.

Jane: Please go and wake Daria, Jodie. I need her opinion on this dress.

Jodie: Are you sure you want her opinion? You'll have less trouble if you don't make her do this. (Jane gives her a stern look) I'm on my way. (she exits)

Ti: Don't you think...this will make you look...faaat? I think...a black one would be like... much more slimming...

Jane: (cuts her off) You may be right, Tiffany. But today it's my wedding, not my funeral. So I'll be better off with white. (under her breath) And I won't look fat if I don't have your bony figure standing next to me...

Ti: Are you sure wanna...marry this guy? You won't be free for...other guys to take you out. No more presents...and stuff...

Jane: Look Tiffany, there are hardly any guys around here worth waiting. As soon as they discover the first hair on their chin, they leave for some stupid war to defend their "loved ones" ...instead of staying with them at home. I think I'll be happy with Jesse. If you want to tell someone about staying single, tell Daria. (Daria and Jodie enter the room, Daria looking unhappy) Hello Daria! How do you like my dress? (Daria says nothing) Daria?? Have you heard me?

Daria: (looks up, deadpan) Oh, it looks dreamy. Jesse will have a hard time standing beside you without ripping it off to see what's beneath it...

Jane: You seem sad, Daria. You might need some love to cheer you up.

Daria: No can do. Love's the one thing I have now and I can't cope with it... Oops!

Jane: (smiles) Yet this might change. Look at the gifts the Count sent me. I got one for every day between the official engagement and today. I wonder why he didn't show up this morning... Well, I'll see him soon enough.

Jodie: And you're not the only lovesick person. Yesterday I saw the dear Sir Thomas walking through the garden, mumbling some poetry fragments. He might have changed his attitude towards women...

Jane: Oh, I think that he has changed his attitude only concerning one special woman. But we gotta go now. Tiffany, please stay here. Daria, Jodie, let's go now. (they exit)


Scene V

DeMartino stands outside his house, adressing Kevin.

DeMartino: So you have arrested two delinquents last night.

Kevin: Oh yeah! My men heard talk about some hideous crime in the garden. Now they're chained in my dungeon waiting for your inspection!

DeMartino: (confused) Who's in your... Never mind.'ve done good work, but listen. My daughter Jane marries the Count Jesse today, so I can't come to see them now. Maybe tomorrow or the day after that. You understand me?

Kevin: Sure, boss. Whatever you say. Have fun at the party. (DeMartino leaves) Hey, wait! I'm the QB, why didn't I get invited? That sucks! (he leaves also)


Act IV

Scene I

Inside a church. Trent, Upchuck, DeMartino, Tom and Jesse enter. They approach the altar, where Jane stands with Daria and Jodie at her sides and O'Neill behind her.

DeMartino: Okay. Please begin, Friar Timothy.

O'Neill: As you wish. (he turns to Jane) Do you want to marry this man, mylady?

Jane: I do.

O'Neill: And do you want to marry this lady, mylord?

Jesse: Well, aren't you supposed to ask if anyone knows a reason to prevent this marriage?

O'Neill: Usually both parties agree first... As you wish. Does anyone know a reason why these two should not be married right now?

DeMartino: I'm entirely sure that there is no such reason, friar. Please continue.

O'Neill: Okay. So I hereby declare you...

Jesse: (interrupts him) But I know a reason. (turns to Jane) Why do you want to marry me, Jane?

Jane: (looks surprised) Because I love you, Jesse. Don't you know that?

Jesse: Oh, that's a good reason. Don't you love the guy who made out with you last night? (everyone looks shocked except Trent, who looks sad, and Upchuck, who smirks secretly)

Jane: (totally petrified) What... what did you say, Jesse? I haven't made out with any man ever, neither last night nor any other night! Why do you accuse me?

Jesse: Oh yeah? Keep your words in your rotten, immoral body where they belong, you... you bitch! (DeMartino steps between them and takes Jesse by his collar, dragging him very near to his own face)

DeMartino: (EXTREMELY furious) Listen, you bastard! I don't know why you're doing this, but you're wrong and I expect an explanation NOW! Jane would never... (Trent comes up and pushes DeMartino's arm away)

Trent: Stop it Anthony! (takes a short breath) I must tell you that Count Jesse, my cousin and I have seen your daughter making out with a man at her window last night. I'm sorry for you, but this insult can't be tolerated. My men and I will leave as soon as possible. (he takes one of Jesse's arms and drags him away, with most of his men behind him except Tom, who stays at his place without saying anything. DeMartino watches them go, then shifts his gaze to Jane, who is comforted by the other girls because she looks very pale)

DeMartino: (still furious) JANE! How could you do this to me?! You could have had my wealth, the count's love and the highest honors a woman can get, but instead you.. you chose to stain both my and your reputation forever! (Jane faints) How appropriate! Now she'll die and only her betrayal will live! (he tries to slap her, but Tom stops him)

Tom: Anthony! Listen to me! Do you really think your daughter would do such a thing? (he turns to Daria) Do you, dear Daria?

DeMartino: (calms down a bit) I don't think so, Thomas. But you heard it! Both princes and the count saw her last night! Whom shall I believe?

Daria: I for my part don't believe any of their accusations. Jane may not be an angel, but she has never done such a thing like Jesse said! This must be wrong! (exchanges a glance with Tom; both look hopeful at each other)

Tom: Well, Prince Trent and Jesse are both honorable men, but they aren't the brightest bunch. Don Charles, however, is the exact opposite in both areas: he's clever, but he's also quite hideous. Maybe he played a trick on the others with the help of his cronies. (he turns to Daria) Have you slept in her chamber last night, Daria?

Daria: Not last night, but every other night since I live here. (beat) She drove me nuts with her talk about marriage and stuff. Poor Jane...

DeMartino: So the prince might be right?!

O'Neill: Please listen to me, mylord. The Prince and the Count really believe in whatever they saw last night, that's sure. You say she is not guilty of the accusations. Knowing Jane since her baptism, I'm on your side, but they won't listen to me either.

DeMartino: So what do you advise me to do?

O'Neill: Hide your daughter. Tell everyone she's died from a broken heart. Try to find out what really happened. The Prince and the Count saw a woman at your daughter's window, so they said. If it wasn't your daughter, then it was someone else. If you find that woman, present her to the Count. If he loves your daughter, he'll be sorry for her death.

Tom: This seems a good plan to me, Don Anthony. Let everything be done like he said.

Daria: I agree, uncle. This might be the only solution.

DeMartino: I don't know what to believe anymore. But if you are sure about it, I agree. Let the herald announce that Lady Jane died after being rejected by the Count. (he leaves with O'Neill, both men carrying Jane between them)

Tom: With the help of the friar, things might still be patched up. Aren't you happy about it, Daria?

Daria: (turns to him) Happy?! Jane has been publically rejected and attacked by that brute! If I were Jane, I would kick his head off even if he came back crawling. Men!

Tom: Fair Daria, please don't speak like this. I am also a man, and I want to be your friend, if you let me. In fact I'd do anything to win your friendship - and your love.

Daria: (looks at him) There is a way to win my friendship - and maybe even my love, Thomas. It's the way of a man, but I don't think it can be your way.

Tom: Anything you want, fair Daria!

Daria: Do you really love me?

Tom: There's nothing I love as much as I love you. Do you love me, Daria?

Daria: I know it's strange, but yes, I love you too. Will you do what I want you to?

Tom: Just tell me.

Daria: (slowly, but very clear)'s...head!

Tom: I can't.

Daria: So you don't love me?

Tom: I love you passionately, but I can't kill Jesse, who fought beside me like a brother.

Daria: Then leave me now and never come back.

Tom: (takes Daria's hand) Listen! Are you completely, totally and unmistake-ably sure that he has dishonoured Jane?

Daria: Yes, yes, YES! I'm so sure that, if I were a man, I would go and ask for justice myself!

Tom: Then I will challenge him for your love and Jane's honour. I'll have to say that she's dead according to the Friar's plan. Farewell, Daria. (he kisses her and leaves)


Scene II

The dungeon. Kevin and the J's stand around Brad and Brett, the latter two looking badly beaten up. O'Neill sits in the background with a notepad and a pencil.

Kevin: So, we're interrogating you scoundrels now! What are your names?

Brad: My name's Brad, and I'm no scoundrel.

Brett: Yeah! I'm Brett, and we're honourable men.

Kevin: (to O'Neill) Okay, write down: honourable men Brad and Brett, accused of... (looks at them) being rascals, scoundrels and villains. What do you have to say?

Brett: Well, we are none of these. We already told you we're honourable men.

Kevin: But I say you're not, and I'm the law here! (O'Neill gestures) What's on, Mr O... Friar?

O'Neill: You aren't doing this right! Your guards caught them and brought them here, so ask them why they did so.

Kevin: Oh yeah. Smart idea! (to the J's) So why did you arrest them, corporal?

Jamie: We caught them when they were bragging about having done a horrible crime!

Kevin: And which horrible crime was that?

Joey: That guy (points to Brad) told the other guy that he earned 1000 ducates by making out at a window with some chick, deceiving several spectators below. I say he's a pervert and shall be arrested.

Jeffy: Right! And the other one (points to Brett) encouraged him and seemed to know about the other guy's plan, so he's also a pervert and should be kept off the streets.

Kevin: Okaaay. I think we should keep them in the dungeon until Don Anthony comes to see for himself. (to the delinquents) That's not supposed to happen soon, hear me. With the death of his daughter to bemourn, he won't be able to come for a long time...

O'Neill: (alarmed) Captain, I think you should bring these two to Don Anthony at once. They deceived several high men, making them believe Don Anthony's daughter had an affair before her marriage. This resulted in her rejection and her death this morning! (to Brad) I've seen your face before. You work for Don Charles, right?

Brad: For whom? (Kevin hits him in the kidney from behind) Oh yeah, and he told us what we should do! He was the brain behind...

O'Neill: (interrupts him) That's enough. Captain, accompany me to Don Anthony with these two fellows. (he leaves)


Act V

Scene I

In front of the house. DeMartino and Ted enter, talking vividly.

Ted: But why are you so furious, mylord? This sad affair has not killed your daughter, but from the look on your face, it is likely to kill you soon.

DeMartino: You can not understand my anger and sadness unless you have children yourself, Theodore. Since my wife died, all my energy has been diverted to Jane's happiness. My highest target was to find a good husband for her. Jesse seemed perfect: he is a brave soldier, carries a good name and (he pauses for a moment) most of all, my daughter loves him. If he would really love her, he would never have turned against her publically.

Ted: Maybe he turned against her because he loves her and found his love betrayed by whatever he and the other men saw that night.

DeMartino: I really hope that you are right. (sees Jesse and Trent enter) There he is! I would prefer you to leave now. After all, you are still the Prince's messenger. (Ted leaves)

Trent: Good morning, Anthony.

Jesse: Likewise.

DeMartino: Listen to me, Prince. My daughter...

Trent: I'm sorry, Anthony, but we are in a hurry.

DeMartino: In a hurry? Oh well, I believe the valiant Count is out to kill more people. Maybe he will choose his sword instead of his lying tongue as weapon this time, this villain!

Jesse: Villain?

Trent: Anthony, you are beside you from grief.

DeMartino: I am perfectly myself. (to Jesse) You are responsible for the death of my only child. If I were younger, you would die from my hand for your deed; but since you're known as a good fighter despite lacking more important human character traits, I won't give you the chance to kill both father and daughter. Now get off my property!

Trent: Listen, Anthony. I feel sorry for Jane and I can understand your grief. But three honorable men saw your daughter at her own window, and I will not listen to anything else.

DeMartino: But you will, Prince. Be certain you will. (He leaves as Tom enters)

Trent: Hello Thomas. You should have arrived a minute ago to see Anthony in action. He is still telling everyone around that his daughter was wronged. Poor old chap!

Jesse: (laughs) Yeah, and he threatened to kill me. Can you imagine that?

Tom: Oh, did he? (pauses) In fact, I wanted to talk with you.

Trent: To whom of us do you want to talk, Thomas?

Tom: To both, but first to you, mylord. (pauses, then to Trent) I must excuse for my next words and actions, mylord. Be assured that they are necessary.

Trent: Um... okay.

Jesse: (interested) And what do you want to tell me, Thomas?

Tom: (swerves around and grabs Jesse by his throat) You are a villain and a monkey. You killed a sweet, innocent girl out of ignorance, stupidity and blindness and even now, you still walk around unpunished. Anthony is not able to demand satisfaction from you, but I am. (tightens his grip) You can decide when you want to fight, where and how, but you will answer me, or I shall inform everyone of your cowardice. Prince, you heard me?

Trent: (visibly shocked) Yes, I heard you, Thomas.

Tom: (opens his grip and shoves Jesse backwards) Okay. Let me know when you are ready, Jesse. Until then, behave nicely. Goodbye now, Prince. I have to calm Anthony. (he leaves)

Jesse: (stares after him, gulping) Good Lord! I never imagined Thomas to show so much emotion!

Trent: I think he was sent by Daria. At least the plan to bring them together worked out if nothing else did. However, he challenged you and you have to fight him soon. (thinks for a moment) What if it was not... No, it must have been Jane! Still... (Kevin enters with the guard and the prisoners) Good morning, Captain. (recognizes the prisoners) Wait! These men are my cousin's servants. Why are they bound, Captain?

Kevin: Well, first they committed some big crime, then they bragged about it and later denied it. So they lied to the law and are bad people. They made a semi-public peep show for some big men and were paid by some other big man, so they both are scoundrels and weasels and most of all, they said that they are honorable men which is an insult to honor itself.

Trent: Whatever. (adresses Brad) Can you tell me personally why this lame-brain decided to arrest both of you?

Brad: (looks to the three J's, then to Kevin who is cracking his knuckles, looking menacingly) I shall tell you everything if you promise neither to kill me personally nor to let anyone else do it. (Trent nods slowly) Your cousin told me - us to prevent the marriage of Count Jesse and Jane by making you believe that Jane had a lover. I was making out with a girl which resembles Jane at her window to give you the impression of seeing Jane with another man. (Jesse scowls) Your cousin left last night to escape possible punishment in case someone found out about the trick. (he looks at the guard) Unfortunately, these holiday soldiers overheard us talking about the success of our play, so they arrested us.

Jesse: You bastards! You know what I did to Jane... (realization hits him now) But... if she's innocent, then... (rushes towards Brad) You'll pay for this!!!

Trent: (steps between them) I promised not to kill them, Jesse. But he shall repeat his story to Anthony, or I will return him to the guards. (Brad gets pale)

Kevin: Excuse me, mylord, but the friar who wrote down their confession said that he would inform Don Anthony about this crime. (enter O'Neill and DeMartino) There he is!

DeMartino: (trying to control himself) The friar told me that these two men have deceived the Prince as well as the Count, resulting in events I hope everyone present here regrets now.

Brad: You were informed right. I myself played a part in the plan invented by Don Charles which succeeded in preventing your daughter's marriage.

DeMartino: At the cost of her life, you mean. Take them away until I can imagine a punishment worthy of their crime. (both delinquents shudder at the thought while DeMartino turns to Trent and Jesse) I hate to ask this, but is there anything you want to tell me besides being proud of killing my daughter?

Trent: I am so sorry having been fooled by these villains, Anthony. I hope that you accept my excuse and my pity about Jane's death.

Jesse: (falls down in front of DeMartino) I know that you hate me, Anthony. You have every right to do so, I know now. If there is anything I can do to lighten both your grief and my guilt, please tell me. I would do everything to receive your absolution.

DeMartino: I accept your excuse, Prince. About you, Count Jesse... (O'Neill whispers something to him) well, that might be the solution... (he looks at Jesse) If your death would bring my daughter back, I would order my men to kill you right now. Since this is impossible, you shall have another punishment. There is a woman working in my household. She is ugly, dumb, and I believe she is older than you. If you want my forgiveness, you have to marry her tomorrow without seeing her face after spending the night at Jane's grave. This may sound cruel, but since you destroyed the chance to live with Jane's love and my wealth, you shall live with a lowly maid and trying to earn a living yourself. If the Prince assures me that he will not give you any money to cope with, that shall be the price for the death of my daughter. Do you accept it, Count?

Jesse: (obviously shocked, but cowing under his guilt) Yes... yes, I accept, noble Anthony. If these things can lighten both your pain and my guilt over your daughter's death, I will do as you told me.

Trent: And I shall share Jesse's watch at the grave tonight, since I was also deceived by this felony.

DeMartino: So it's sealed. Please excuse me, I will call my herald to have him announce what really happened to my daughter. I expect you two tomorrow morning at the church.

Trent: We will be there, Anthony.

Jesse: Yes, we will. But tonight, we shall mourn for Jane. (they exit)

DeMartino: (to O'Neill) I hope your plan works out. In the meanwhile, I'm going to have a word with these rats (he points to Brad and Brett, who shudder) and with Tiffany, who had her share in this, I think.

Brad: Do you really think this airhead could remember a plan five minutes after being told about it? She's a nice way to pass the time, but... (Kevin knocks him down) ...oomph!

DeMartino: You might be right after all. Okay, so my power and the full wrath of justice will be concentrated on you two and your master, if he should ever return. (Brett looks angry at his brother as the J's drag them out and everyone exits in different ways)


Scene II

In the garden. Tom is talking to Tiffany.

Tom: Please tell me, has the sweet Daria said something about me to you recently?

Tiffany: Well... she said it was nice of you... to stay with her and her family while this... Prince guy stormed off... but since I don't listen to her often... I don't know.

Tom: And do you think she'd appreciate a sonnet from me as a gift?

Tiffany: But why would she need... a sun-hat? She's always buried in her books, and that's so unpopular... although she keeps her creamy complexion... I must admit...

Tom: (slightly exasperated) A sonnet, Tiffany. You know, some poetry about her beauty, her intelligence, her wonderful style of dressing, compromised in fourteen immortal lines...

Tiffany: Do you really think... you can write fourteen lines about her beauty? She never wears any fashionable clothing like... mauve-purple polka dot trousers or whatever...

Tom: Whatever. Listen, what I want to know is... never mind, I'll be more creative if you go now. But... thanks for your help! (Tiffany leaves. Tom turns away, his face relieved) Now let's see... (he unfolds a sheet of paper bearing several notes, some are crossed out, others underlined and circled) My future is sweet/ for I did just meet/ a girl of such zeal/ which's making me feel... (he throws down the paper) Damn! Why can't I find rhymes fitting both my feelings and the metrum? (he picks up the paper again, reading his notes) That's hopeless! I tried everything, but look at these poor rhymes: 'witty'... 'pity'... oh come on! 'love'... 'tough'... maybe true, but not nice... 'fair'... 'care'... forget it! Why do I even try? I know that she wouldn't be flattered even if I wrote like Cupid! Which is one of the classic fifty ways why I like her so much... (sees Daria approaching) Sweet Daria! The sun shines brighter when you're near me! (looks surprised by his own words)

Daria: Hello, Thomas. I hope your lyric temperament didn't keep you from challenging Jesse.

Tom: Let me tell you everything while you sit down here at my side. (he offers her a seat)

Daria: Save your come-ons for later, I just want to know what went on between Jesse and you.

Tom: As you like it. I found him and challenged him in the Prince's presence, so he'll either fight me or run from my wrath, in which case his reputation's ruined forever.

Daria: You really did? (mockingly) Somehow, I can't picture you as a grim warrior...

Tom: Well, I think Jesse can. (stands up) And if I must fight him, you shall see for yourself. But let's not talk about it now. Please tell me, what made you desire me for the first time?

Daria: To tell you the truth, it was the absence of any desirable quality or character trait. It's a thing seldom found in men. But why did you fall for me the first time you saw me?

Tom: 'Fall for you' might not be the right expression for our first meeting. I think 'duck for cover' might describe it better. But love has come in stranger ways than that, I heard.

Daria: So Love smote you down when you saw me first? If you ducked for cover at my sight, I shall do also. Farewell, dear Thomas. (she turns to leave, but Tom holds her back)

Tom: We are too sensible to fall in love without our brains trying to tell our hearts how to do it in the right style, Daria. But tell me, how's your cousin?

Daria: (becomes serious again) She's still very sad, she told me. And therefore, I am also.

Tom: (takes her hand) Let me help you. (sees Jodie running towards them) But I think there might be interesting news to hear.

Jodie: Daria, you must come immediately! Some guys were arrested for deceiving the Prince and Jesse, Jane's innocent and everything's in chaos in there!

Daria: I'm coming! (turns to Tom) Will you go with me?

Tom: (takes her in his arms and swirls her around) I will go with you to the end of the world, to the home of the gods and to the bottom of the ocean, if you want me to. But before that, I'll go with you to your uncle, since that's what I wanted to do anyway. (Daria hits him playfully as they leave)


Scene III

Inside the church. A black coffin lies in front of the altar, partly covered with the dress Jane wore at the wedding. Jesse, Trent and several other men, among them Ted, Max and Nick, enter with flowers and some instruments. Jesse is sobbing quietly.

Ted: This is the coffin of the Lady Jane, mylord.

Jesse: (takes out a sheet, unrolls it and starts to read aloud)

      Once I cursed your very name,

      Then I learned your words were true.

      Now I know I'll live in shame,

      Mercy must I beg from you.

      May the gods honour you high,

      I shall suffer 'till I die. (he starts to cry) Oh Jane!

Trent: (pats him on the shoulder) It'll be alright, man. Someday, it'll be...

Jesse: Yes, but every year I shall return to this place to pray for her. (the other men start to leave) Goodnight to all of you. But remember to be there tomorrow for my wedding.

Trent: Are you sure you want to do this, Jesse? I mean, your reputation will suffer from this marriage... (Jesse cuts him off)

Jesse: My reputation cannot sink lower than it is already. I committed a crime of ignorance and stupidity, and I'll pay for it. Goodnight, Prince. (they exit)


Scene IV

At the church again. DeMartino, O'Neill and Tom are standing left of the altar while several girls in white dresses are standing at the side, their faces hidden by veils.

O'Neill: See, Don Anthony? I told you your daughter was innocent!

DeMartino: In my heart, I knew that. But I have to thank you. Without your idea to spread the rumour of Jane's death to discover the truth, things would have become much worse for everyone. I... (suddenly he hugs a startled O'Neill)

O'Neill: Um... thank you, Don Anthony. (looks over to the women) You haven't told me yet whom Jesse will marry now. Wouldn't it be a good punishment to set him up with that maid Tiffany?

DeMartino: (laughs) If he really had killed Jane and if Tiffany had known about her share in it, I would tie them together 'till death does them part'. Just imagine that couple! (laughs again, then becomes serious) Jesse bears no guilt except being deceived so easily. If it's OK with Jane, they can marry.

Tom: That's so nice of you, Don Anthony. Shall I summon the herald to have him publically praise your gentle-minded and friendly soul?

DeMartino: Stop it, Tom. You would destroy twenty years of very hard-boiled reputation. And beside that, you wanted to ask the friar something which still needs my agreement, right?

Tom: Oh yes, thank you for reminding me. (turns to O'Neill and whispers) I might need you and your official help in something, friar.

O'Neill: And for what do you need me, if I may ask?

Tom: I'm going to propose to the fair lady Daria. If she agrees, I need you to bind us; if she declines, you better bury me. But she has changed her attitude towards me nearly as much as I changed mine towards her.

DeMartino: That attitude change might be motivated by some actions of me and some others, but it might be better to tell you and Daria when everyone's present. And if you want to marry her, I support you in your choice.

O'Neill: And if the lady wants you, I shall be very glad to do as you wish. (Jesse, Trent and their followers enter)

Jesse: A good morning to everyone.

DeMartino: Good morning to you too. Now Jesse, are you still willing to marry the woman I did choose for you? If you are not, it might be better to tell now than to start another scene and to be known as the 'runaway bride-groom'.

Jesse: I will do as you wish, Don Anthony; if you wish me to marry a certain woman, please point her out so we can continue. (he notices Tom) Oh, hello Thomas. Are you here to ensure I won't escape?

Tom: As long as you play nice, you are safe. But I am not here to ride herd on you...

Trent: I think he might have his own business with the friar here, Jesse. You remember?

Jesse: Oh yeah. At least one of us gets the woman his heart desires... (DeMartino motions to the girls to come over) Now which one is my bride?

DeMartino: This one. (One of the girls steps forward) You know you have to agree to this before she takes off the veil?

Jesse: Yes, I know and I agree, if she likes me. (to the girl) Do you want to marry me?

Jane: (takes off the veil) Yes, I do. But you're damn lucky to get a second chance, Jesse.

Trent: Jane!

Jesse: Jane? But you died! How can this be?

DeMartino: Let's just say some people decided to prevent a certain blockhead from making the biggest fault of his life. Congratulations, Jesse.

Jesse: But, I mean... I am married to her now, right? (Jane kisses him) Cool!

O'Neill: The long version of Jane's being reborn can wait until later. Let us celebrate now.

Tom: Not so fast, friar. There is another thing to decide. (to DeMartino) Which one is Daria?

Daria: (takes off the veil) I am. What do you want from me, Thomas?

Tom: It seems to be obvious that you love me passionately.

Daria: Me? You are a pleasant fellow. But 'loving you passionately'? No, that is not true.

Tom: You do not? Then the prince, the count and your uncle suffer from a funny daydream. They were sure you love me.

Daria: Why do you ask this, Tom? Do you love me by chance?

Tom: Oh no, not really. You are a nice girl, but I do not love you.

Daria: Then Jane and Jodie must have worked with paint for too long. They swore that you love me.

Tom: Three men said you could not sleep because of loving me.

Daria: Two women said you were on the brink of desperation because of loving me. Are you sure you are not?

Tom: Completely sure. There is no feeling but friendship I have for you.

DeMartino: Stop it, you two. You both love each other, and I can prove it. Evidence 1: a very mediocre poem written by Thomas to express his love for Daria. (he produces a very crumpled sheet from his pocket and gives it to Daria)

Jane: And evidence 2: A desperate try of Daria to write down her true feelings for Thomas. (waves around another sheet with several inkblots and creases and gives it to Tom)

Tom: (reads Daria's poem) Amazing! We are proven wrong by our own writing. (thinks for a moment) OK, for what it's worth, I'll marry you, Daria. I can't stand the thought of you living alone forever.

Daria: (after reading Tom's poem) I accept your proposal, but only to please all the people here and because your family is said to be very short-lived, so I must be kind to you if you'll be visited by the Grim Reaper any day now.

Tom: This must have an end. (he embraces and kisses her)

Trent: So now you'll become a married man, Thomas. The world has changed, hasn't it?

Tom: Listen, prince. You and all bachelors of the world can come and mock my decision. I've found a wonderful girl to spend my life with, and that's all a man can hope for. (turns to Jesse) Since Jane forgave you and we're related now, you won't have to answer me for what you did. But treat her well, or I must teach you how to be a gentleman. (holds out his hand)

Jesse: Be assured, I will. I've got my chance from Jane and I won't spoil it again. It's good to see you with Daria, however. It would have been hard to be killed by you after we did so much to make you happy in spite of yourself. (shakes hands with Tom)

Tom: Whatever. (lays an arm around Daria) Let's start the festivities now!

Trent: Don't you think you forgot something?

Tom: Let me see... oh sure, we must still find a wife for you, prince. But that can wait... (Ted and the three J's enter, dragging Upchuck between them)

Ted: Mylord, we found your brother. What do you want us to do with him?

Tom: (before Trent can answer) Hand him over to the guard (DeMartino smiles) and then let him marry Tiffany. (Jane, Daria and Jodie start to laugh)

Jesse: Let us celebrate! (Everyone starts to dance as the curtain closes and the audience starts to applaud)


After a minute, the curtain rises again to reveal O'Neill

O'Neill: Thank you, thank you! I am proud to present the actors: Joey, Jeffy and Jamie, the guards! (The three J's come on the stage and gets their applause) Tiffany, Ted and Charles, who played their roles like professionals! (Tiffany gets most of the applause, Ted is greeted by some clapping while Upchuck only gets applause from several red-haired people, obviously his family) Jodie and Kevin, whose performance was great! (Kevin comes up with a stupid grin, getting only some applause while Jodie's reception is more enthusiastic) And, of course, our two female protagonists: Jane and Daria! (As they appear on the stage, most people clap half-heartedly, then they seem to reconsider the girls' performance and start to applaud for real. Jane enjoys it visibly while Daria looks a bit awkward. O'Neill comes over to them to give each of them a big bunch of flowers, which makes Daria look really unhappy until she takes them and bows shyly, squinting over at a smiling Jane)

Daria: (whispers to Jane) As soon as we're outside, I'll make you eat this stuff!

Jane: (whispers back) Aww, isn't this cute? Enjoy your glory!

O'Neill: I also have to thank the actors who do not go to this school and volunteered to take a part in the play. Brad and Brett Ruttheimer! (They come on the scene and get the same reception as Upchuck) The former LHS students Nicholas Campbell, Max Tyler, Jesse Moreno and Trent Lane, who showed us that you don't have to be an actual member of the school to embody its spirit. (The four boys appear on the stage and get more applause than the Ruttheimer twins, which seems to surprise them)

Jane: (leans over to Daria) Not a single word about my pressing them into doing this! That's not fair!

Daria: Oh, come on Jane. You know that all your pressing would've been for nothing if Li had denied them their 'All You Can Endure' concert at the auditorium next weekend.

O'Neill: Then there's of course Fielding student Thomas Sloane, who enriched this evening with his superb performance, and who took part in this play as a favour for his girlfriend, Daria Morgendorffer! (The audience claps enthusiastically for Tom. Daria looks frantically around for a place to hide as Tom comes up and kisses her. Quinn appears at the back of the stage and throws a big bunch of roses to Tom, who hands it to Daria with a deep bow. Jane stands beside them, smiling her head off) And last but not least, LHS teacher Anthony DeMartino as the governor. (DeMartino comes up and bows shortly, getting some applause from his colleagues and some students. O'Neill also bows and gets some applause before the curtain closes again)

Daria: (looks at Tom and Jane) I'm gonna kill you both! You had this planned, didn't you?

Tom: (smiles) I plead the fifth, darling. But I think your parents liked it. I saw them sitting in the first row, and they looked happy. Oh by the way, thank you Quinn.

Daria: (looks at Quinn still standing at the side, smiling) So you helped them, sis? My revenge will be terrible...

Quinn: Daariaa! I, like, wanted to help Tom surprise you! Besides, without your remembering O'Neill what had happened the last time he staged a play, I would have gotten a part in the play too! You know what I mean!

Jane: (smiles) You mean O'Neill throwing out Britanny, Sandi and you at the first rehearsal for ruining the 'Canterbury Tales'?

Quinn: Exactly! I mean... Okay, Sandi confused me, Britanny abducted Kevin and I forgot my lines, so people threw turkey legs at me, but O'Neill gave Jeffy another chance, too.

Daria: That's because he was desperately short on male actors, you know. If he hadn't taken Mystik Spiral, Tom and Upchuck's cousins, he would have needed either your fanclub or Upchuck and Mack for the big roles. You'd rather play the Prince or the governor? Wait! Brainstorm! Next time, you get Tiffany's role, so Brad Ruttheimer can try out his 'magic hands' on you! (The other two start to laugh so hard that Quinn storms off. Tom and the girls leave the auditorium to sit down on a bench)

Jane: (to Daria) Now that was really mean. (pauses for a moment) I liked it.

Daria: (mock-bows) Thank you very much. I'm so glad that you two were there to share it with me.

Tom: (smiles) At your service. But O'Neill was right.

Daria: About your 'superb performance'?

Tom: No, about asking you to play the lead roles. You were very good, especially concerning this was your first time.

Jane: Be careful, Daria. The only time he told me that, he meant... (blushes), never mind... forget what I said.

Tom: (hurriedly) It's not what you might think, Daria. I said that when she... (Jane glares at him) ...come on, Jane. Can you imagine what Daria must think now?

Daria: If it's about you two having...

Jane: (interrupts her), it's not. (looks at Tom) Okay, but I'll tell her. (sighs) When Tom and I hooked up, he wanted to introduce me to his parents. His father told him that I could meet them at their club before some golf tournament for a few minutes. (glares at Tom again) When I arrived there, I found out that it was a charity tournament for juniors, and that Tom was supposed to play with his sister.

Tom: (takes over) Elsie became ill that morning and stayed at home, so I suddenly needed a new partner for that tournament.

Daria: Wait. You mean you and Jane played... golf together? She can't even play minigolf!

Jane: That's more or less what I told him then, but he begged me to try it at least because his parents had already paid a high fee for participating in this. I wanted to show my best side to them, so I played golf with Tom...

Tom: ...and you played quite good for your prémiere. (Jane frowns) Okay, you tried for twenty minutes to get the ball out of the bunker and you shot down a bird's nest from a nearby tree, but apart from that, you played quite good. And you know I took you to that restaurant as a reward.

Daria: So Jane dug some holes in the sand and decimated the birds on the course. What's the big deal about that? You sounded like remembering some very traumatic incident.

Tom: Well, the club forbade her to play in her normal attire, especially with the boots...

Jane: I had to put on a light-blue shirt, grey baggy pants and shoes with spikes!

Tom: And a nice yellow cap to top it off, too. (Jane kicks his shin) Oww!

Daria: (smiles at the thought) Okay, that's more like my definition of 'traumatic incident'.

Tom: I promised Jane never to tell anyone, but since she started it herself...

Jane: I still think you should pay for it, rich boy.

Tom: But I took you out to make up for your emotional pain, remember? (looks at the girls) Of course, I could invite you to a pizza to celebrate the play...

Jane: That's better. Let's change clothes and leave before O'Neill gets the idea to celebrate with everyone. (they raise from the bench as Quinn bustles in)

Quinn: (excitedly) Daria! You must hear this! O'Neill just declared he wants to stage another play of Shakespeare, 'The Timing of the Stew'! (the others laugh) What?

Daria: It's 'The Taming of the Shrew', Quinn. But why're you so happy?

Quinn: O'Neill said he would know just the right students to play the roles of the cute girl and the older, brainy sister. Isn't this wonderful? (Tom and Jane look at her, both shocked)

Daria: (looks at the stars) Someone up there must hate me.





Author's notes:

Thank you for reading my first (finished) fanfic. If you are among the few people who actually read the author's notes, let me clear out some points regarding the characters and their roles in the play.

1. Prince Trent: I know it seems far-fetched to have Trent play Don Peter of Aragon (especially with Jane as Hero; Trent has to accuse his own sister), but I chose him over Mack to underline his role in the fourth and fifth season, serving as a friend and (sometimes) guardian for Daria and Jane. To make Trent play the Prince also had the advantage to have the other Spiral members for his entourage. But my favorite reason was Act II/1 (the Prince asking Beatrice if she wants to have him for husband). I'd love to see that in the picture (and all 'shippers would also, I think).

2. Jane and Daria: While Daria embodies the role of Beatrice, Jane's character and temper differs from the innocent little Hero in 'MAAN' (Jane's much stronger and self-conscious; I think she'd rather beat up Jesse/Claudio than faint at his accusations). Another problem was Trent as Prince (see above). Nevertheless, I decided to have Jane as Hero (after rejecting Jodie as Hero, which would've meant Mack as Claudio, Jane as Hero's friend and other changes in my plot) because of her match-making in the series and her being the best person for deceiving Daria about Benedick/Tom's feelings towards her). I tried to change the role of Hero into a stronger woman being less of an object in the several deceits and intrigues.

3. Tom: Since Tom's the only love interest Daria ever had in the series (except Ted, and he's too much of a minor character to get an important role; I preferred him as the messenger), he had to play Benedick's role (apart from his relationship to Daria, he's the only male character whose wit and sarcasm can rival Daria's own).

4. Jesse: His affection to Jane is a well-liked fanfic cliché, but there were other reasons to have him play Claudio: he is Trent's best friend (as Claudio is for the Prince) and he is not very smart, so he might well be betrayed by Don John/Upchuck's deception.

5. Upchuck: He fits Shakespeare's description of Don John nicely, being smart but morally bankrupt. His cousins are the only people ever mentioned in the series to talk nicely about him (the alternative for his servants would've been some of the dumber football players like the 'Ringer' from #403)

6. Tiffany: Shakespeare's Margaretha makes out with Borachio/Brad because she likes him; no woman in the series ever had a similar notion towards Upchuck or his cousins with the exception of Andrea at the end of IICY (and I didn't want the hate of all you Andrea-fans out there), so I went with Tiffany as an image of stupidity to use her for a good laugh or two. Sorry for that.

7. The teachers: O'Neill had to be the director behind the play since he staged 'The Canterbury Tales' in the show; he was also the most fitting choice for the friar. DeMartino's case was different; there are few male characters with some background information in the show, so I chose DeMartino as Leonato (as a counterpart to the students playing younger characters). To have Kevin as stupid guard captain working for DeMartino was an additional bonus.

8. Kevin and the J's: As soon as I decided to turn 'Much Ado about nothing' into a Daria fanfic, Kevin was the obvious choice for Dogberry, the lame-brain constable. Having the three J's as his subordinates (who aren't the brightest either) was the logical consequence, since (like Daria said) there was a shortage of male characters.


The end lines about "The Taming of the Shrew" weren't just to get one more joke on Quinn's expense: I plan to write another Daria/Shakespeare crossover using that play, but since I'm not so familiar with it yet, it might have to wait a bit. If you liked my fanfic or not (and want to tell me that), please mail me at