Scene: The court of King Solomon the Wise. Solomon is reclining on his throne, being fanned by one slave and fed grapes by another. Several guards are standing around. The captain of the guard appears in the doorway; he stamps his foot and shouts.
Captain: PERMISSION TO ENTER THE COURT OF KING SOLOMON THE WISE, O GREAT ONE, O DIVINE MAJESTY, O RULER OF...
Solomon: (Yawning and waving impatiently) YES, YES, GET ON WITH IT, MAN.
Captain: (Stepping forward and bowing) O DIVINE MAJESTY, I HAVE OUTSIDE ONE CHILD AND TWO WOMEN. EACH CLAIMS THE CHILD IS HER OWN. I CRAVE YOUR GUIDANCE, O DIVINE MAJESTY.
Solomon: (Sitting up and stroking his beard). ONE CHILD AND TWO WOMEN, EH? BRING THEM IN, BRING THEM IN.
(The Captain stamps his foot, exits, and returns with two peasant women, holding each by the arm. As he leads them in, the three are followed by a guard carrying a baby wrapped in swaddling).
Captain: (To women) KNEEL BEFORE THE MIGHTIEST AND WISEST OF KINGS.
(The two women prostrate themselves).
Solomon: (To the guard) BRING THE CHILD HERE.
(The guard advances and holds out the baby. Solomon pulls silly faces, and prods it carefully with his finger). HELLO DEN, WHO’S A BIG BOY, DEN? GOODY GOODGY GOO.
(Turning to the women, he motions them to stand up). STAND UP, YOU TWO.
(The women obey).
Solomon: TO WHOM DOES THIS CHILD BELONG?
Women: (Simultaneously) IT’S MINE, SIRE!
Solomon: (Frowning) IT CAN’T BELONG TO BOTH OF YOU. WHO GAVE BIRTH TO IT?
Women: (Simultaneously) I DID, YOUR MAJESTY.
Solomon: (Turning to the Captain in an aside). I DON’T SUPPOSE WE’VE GOT ANY OF THOSE NEW-FANGLED DNA TESTING KITS, CREEPIUS?
Captain: NO, YOUR MAJESTY.
Solomon: (Sighing out loud) GIVE ME A MOMENT OR TWO TO WORK THIS OUT.
Captain: YES, YOUR MAJESTY.
(The King paces up and down, stroking his beard, then turns back to the Captain).
Solomon: I HAVE IT!
Captain: YOUR MAJESTY?
Solomon: IF THEY BOTH CLAIM THE CHILD, THEY SHALL HAVE HALF EACH. (To guard) PUT IT DOWN.
(The guard does so, and the baby begins to cry).
Solomon: DRAW YOUR SWORD.
(The guard obeys).
Solomon: (Turning to the women) NOW, SINCE YOU CANNOT MAKE UP YOUR MINDS WHICH OF YOU IS THE CHILD’S MOTHER, I HAVE DECIDED THAT YOU WILL EACH HAVE HALF. IS THAT FAIR?
(The women look at each other, then back to the King).
Solomon: (To guard) RAISE YOUR SWORD.
(The guard obeys).
Solomon: (To women) YOU WILL HAVE HALF EACH, ARE YOU AGREED?
(The women look at each other puzzled. The baby continues to cry. They look back to the King).
Women: (Simultaneously) WE ARE AGREED!
(The King gulps. The guard brings down his sword; the baby stops crying abruptly).
Solomon: (Grins sheepishly to the Captain, who stares in horror). WELL, THAT’S WOMEN FOR YOU.
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