A one act play
David ————- A blind musician, of thirty.
Helen ————- His wife, a woman over forty.
Anna ————— Helen’s daughter of a previous marriage.
The man from across the fields.
The large living-room and library on the ground floor in David’s home.
The time: About eleven o’clock on a night in January. A snow storm is raging without.
As the curtain rises the Madman walks down through the centre aisle and goes upon the stage, to a chair near the fire place where he sits.
David and Anna are found on a couch. Anna is Reading a poem aloud to the blind man. After finishing the reading, Anna speaks.
Anna: But father, that was not all. There was something much more wonderful; something that came to my heart as I touched their face in my darkness.
(A wondrous light somes to her face)
Never before have I felt so good, so loving, so tender. I loved those girls a thousand times more tan I ever did before. And I felt they me more. It was all strange, and sweet.
(There is a pause)
That evening I knew for the first time how beautiful you are. And something told me that the others knew you, and loved you. And when they took the bandages off my eyes I looked at them , an their faces were different. It was as though I had seen a vision. After that we did not play anymore. We just sit together and talked quietly. We were like seven Little sisters, and each one of us wanted to be the mother.
David: (after a long silence he takes her hand and kisses it.)
My child , my Darling child, when God took my sight and gave me you, God was gracious to me.
Anna: (raises and sits beside David)
God was good to me when He gave me you.
David: (kissing her brow, then taking her hand and rubbing his blind eyes with the tips of his fingers)
My sweet girl, my little Anna.
(They sit in silence)
(Helen looks at David and Anna for a moment. She is disturbed and irritated, but trying to be calme down the surface. She walks across the room turning once or twice to look at them)
Anna: Oh mother, you are here.
Helen: Yes I am here. (harsh)
David: It must be late, Helen, musn’t it?
Helen: It is late. (to Anna) Come, I don’t see why you are here at such an hour. Why don’t you go to bed.
David: It is still snowing, Helen, isn’t it?
Helen: Yes it is a great storm, and if it should continue to snow all night there will be no way to get out of this house tomorrow.
(She goes to the window, and looks out. Then she turns suddenly and looks at David and Anna impatiently.)
David: A snow storm always gives me a sense of silence. I always hear things more clearly when there is snow.
Helen: Yes, yes. I’ve Heard you say this before. And you have said so often that it irritates me to hear it again.
Anna: Oh mother, how can you say that! The snow does give one a sense of silence.
Helen: (with temper, to Anna) Stop talking rubbish. You say these things to seem intelligent. Parrots are never intelligent.
(There is a pause)
Well, let us not discuss this now. You’d better go to your room. It is late. I shall see to the door and Windows, and I’ll take care of the fire.
David: I didn’t know it was so late. Anna was reading to me, and we must have lost track of time.
David: (turning to Anna and putting his hands on her hand)
Now go to bed, my dear, and have a good sleep, and dream your beautiful dreams. I too will go up son.
(Anna stands up and turns to him very tenderly, kissing his brow.)
Anna: Good night father.
(She turns to her other and with a different voice)
Good night mother.
Helen: (coldly) Good night.
(Anna goes slowly up-stairs, turning once or twice to see the face of David, which is turned upward following her steps with his blind eyes)
(Helen walks restlessly up and down)
Helen: What a storm, what a storm!
David: You are nervous tonight, Helen, are you not? You walk up and down so strangely.
(Helen stops suddeny in her pacing and stands very still)
Helen: Iam not nervous! I am calm. Can’t you hear how calm I am? I thought you could hear everything.
No, not everything, not everything. I can only hear some whisperings in the dark, only some whisperings.
Madman: What else but a whisper is worth listenig to? Only a whisper reaches the ears.
(David has now risen and turned quietly toward the flight of stairs. Helen expresses her relief by gestures of hands and arms.)
(David goes up the stairs slowly.)
David: Good night, Helen.
Helen: Good night. (then significantly) I hope you sleep well.
Madman: Who would sleep in a night of terror? Who would lie in peace in the jaws of a volcano? Who could close the eyes when there are thorns in the eyelids?
Helen: (As David dissappears Helen gives a sigh of relief, and goes to the window and opens it. She looks out intently, guarding her face against the snow. Seeing no one coming she closes the window and looks at the clock. It is not quite twelve. She paces up and down the room.)
Madman: Walk on, my lady fair, walk on. There is a place you would reach, and then beyond that, there is another place.
(The clock strikes twelve. Helen immediately lights three candles and laces them on the table near the window.)
Madman: Behold the lighthouse that guides ships lost in the storm.
(Follows a minute of deep silence. Helen with eyes upon the door listens to the faintest sound. The outer door opens slowly and sofly, then the inner door.)
(The man enters, covered with snow)
(Helen rushes to him)
Helen: Oh my dear, my dear! At least you have come!
The man: (in a low voice) I’ve been waiting there so long. I thought midnight would never come.
(He goes out into the vestibule and takes his overcoat, hat and muffler, and hangs them. Enters the room and closes the inner door behind him.)
I was half buried in the snow. I thought it would be morning before I would see candles burning in the window.
Helen: (leads him to the sofa and sits beside him)
My Darling, you can imagine what I was going through! You out there in the storm and I here with those two creatures! I can’t bear it any longer. I tell you Kingdon, Ican’t bear it!
The Man: Not so loud Helen. The might hear. Speak in a whisper.
Helen: (remebering what David said of whispering, and with lower voice)
Oh, I can’t whisper anymore. I don’t want to whisper. I want to shout! I want to scream! I’ll choke if I don’t scream!
The Man: I know, I know, but you’ve got to give some patience.
Helen: Patience, patience, that dead cold jelly-fish. And with whom must we be patient?
(She kisses him ardently)
My darling, my darling, haven’t we been patient long enough?
The Man: What else can we do, but wait?
Helen: (stands up and speaks with passion)
Why should we wait, and for what must we wait? You don’t know, you simply don’t know what I am going through.
(She wrings her hands with great emotion)
Now listen to me. I live in a blind house. Everything in it is blind. Even my daughter, my own flesh and blood is becoming blind. She does everything the way he does. She goes about the houses feeling tables and chairs as if she were sightless. She even talks like the blind, and sometimes it seems to me that her voice comes out of darkness. And when she is with him she never speaks of shapes or color of things, it is always the sound or the music or the feel or the odor (she mimics Anna’s way of speaking) Oh, I hate her! I hate them both. I hate the world they live in. It isn’t a world. It isn’t a life. It’s a mist, a dark dream, it isn’t real. I tell you I can’t endure it a day longer. It is driving me mad!
(She turns to him and puts her arm around his neck)
Oh, take me with you, Kingdon! Take me out of this darkness. Release me from this prison.
The Man: But how can I? How can I take you out of this, Helen? And where shall we go? Please wait a while. We can’t just run off. What will people say of us?
Helen: I don’t care what people say of us. I don’t care for anything or anyone. I only care for you and for myself, and for our love. And tell me, what would
they say? “Helen Rugby has left her blind charge”. Well, then I should say, “Helen Rugby left him because he left her to devote himself to her daughter”.
Madman: (in blank)
The Man: And they may also say other things. They may say “Youth seeks youth”. And that you had no business to marry a man so much younger tan yourself.
(He stops abruptly, and then says)
Forgive me, Helen, for saying this. I am only repeating what people say.
Helen: (rising indignantly to her full height)
Oh, God, Kingdon, how can you say that? I’m younger tan either of them. I’m younger than my daughter. She is old. They are both old. They are like two characters in an old story, moving about in a book rather than in a house. They move slowly. They talk slowly. Everything they do is slow and old. Oh, Kingdon you know I am Young. You know the flame in me! You know me!
The man: (rises and takes her in her arms)
Yes, yes, I know, I know, I was only thinking of you. You know I don’t want to be the cause of any trouble. And above all, Helen, we don’t want to have a scandal. I was only thinking of…
(He stops suddenly and listens. The two look at each other. He continues in a whisper)
Did you hear footsteps?
(He stands still, in silence)
(The sound of footsteps on the floor above becomes louder, and louder, and still louder)
Helen: (speaking in low whispers, and putting her hand over the man’s mouth, and pointing for him to go to the corner of the room where the large book-cases are)
It is he…the blind!
(The man goes on tiptoes to the corner. The steps upstairs are moving toward the stairs)
(Helen stands in the middle of the room, erect, irritated, defiant)
(David appears at the head of the stairs and comes down slowly. Everytime step he takes seems to tell on Helen’s nerves. After six or seven steps he stops for a moment)
David: You are there, Helen, are not?
Helen: Yes , I am here. What is that you want? Why did you come down?
(He comes on down the stairs, and reaches the floor and pauses.)
David: Why did I come down? (As if to himself) Why did I come down? (he raises his hand to his head.)
Oh yes , I know now.
(He takes a few steps toward the book shelves, then suddenly stops, as if he had changed his mind. Then he walks to the sofa and sits down just where the man was sitting. He senses the sofa with his delicate hands as if trying to find something lost.)
Helen: (nervous and with a sharking voice)
What is it, David? Why did you come down? What is it you want? Is there anything I can do for you?
David: (Still feeling the sofa all around him)
No, no there is nothing you can do for me.
(He rises and puts his hand over his eyes for a moment. When he takes his hand down there is a different expression in his large open blind eyes. And with a deeper voice, he says.)
David: Helen, are we alone in this room, only you and I?
Helen: Yes, of course, we are alone. What do you mean?
David: (looking about)
Oh, how strange! How strange everything is.
Helen: What is strange?
David: (David turns toward the book-cases again, where the man is standing. Helen makes motions to him to move quietly. The man does so)
Helen: I say, what is strange? What is it that you want?
David: (getting nearer to the book-cases)
Aren’t you too anxious to know what I want, Helen? Well, I came down for that music book of the Society for the Blind brought out. I forgot to take it up with me. I think I can put my hand on it, …unless Anna has taken it up to bed with her.
Helen: (with stifled anger) But in heaven’s name, why should Anna take your blind books with her to bed?
(David does not answer, but moves on slowly)
Madman: She is learning the language of the night, my lady fair. And in that language every Word is a star, and only God can make sentences.
—- Page 13 ½ —————————————————————————————
Jesus of Nazareth turns not away from even one solitary soul who breathes His blessed name. It is from that false and fearful one masked with seven masks, that unlovely, carping, exacting one whom “Christians” have come to call “Jesus”, that our Brother turns away.
Is the Person whom the modern Chistian churches pretend to serve that Jesus of Nazareth whom we know in our hearts? A thousand times, no.
The other day the wife of a presbyterian minister was in my studio, and we had been discussing the “Great God Brown.” She felt deeply grieved.
(David feels the row of books, then he takes out one, and returns with it to the middle of the room and puts it on the table, and he pauses)
David: Helen did you say we are alone in this room, only you and I?
Helen: What an absurd question. I told you we are alone. Who else could be here?
David: If you say we are alone, then this huse is hunted. I feel that someone is here with us in this room. Yet you say there is no one.
(He gazes with his blinde yes at the man)
It’s a queer thing, this feeling of a third presence. (pauses) Helen do you believe in ghosts? (Pause) Strange, that one must die before he can hunt a house. The living sleep in peace.
Madman: Didn’t you know, my night watchman, that only the dead hunt the night?
(Helen approaches David and fakes gentleness, and with a different and artificial voice)
Helen: Oh come, my dear, you look so tired. Do go to bed. Here is your book. And do have a long sleep.
David: Yes, I suppose I am tired.
(Suddenly he withdraws from her, and listens to the wind without.)
I say, Helen, the storm must have driven a lost spirit to this house. Poor spirit, what can we do for it? If it were cold we cannot give it shelter. If it were hungry we can’t give it food. Flesh lives on flesh , Helen, and the human Can always give confort to the human. But what can we do for a spirit lost in the storm? Poor spirits, poor souls, poor ghosts! Poor lost ghosts!
Helen: (trying hard not to scream)
You say such strange things. Please stop all this nonsenses about ghosts and spirits. It is late, and I have told you I want to be alone for a Little while.
David: Oh, you want to be alone.
Madman: You will be alone, my lady fair, for a long while; for a long, long while.
David: (turns from her and walks toward the door, and the feet of the stairs. She thinks he is going up, and motions hopefully to the man to be perfectly silent a Little longer)
(To her surprise , David with quick and bold steps goes to the door and turns the key in the lock, and stands against the door, and with a loud voice he shouts.)
David: Anna! Anna, Anna!
(There is a pause for a second. The man and Helen stiffen with sudden fear.)
(David calls again)
(Anna’s steps are heard almost immediately. She moves quickly on the floor above.)
Anna’s voice: Yes, yes! Father, what is it?
David: Come down! Come down to me! Come quickly!
(Anna is heard coming hurriedly to the head of the stairs)
Anna’s voice: I’m coming! I’m coming!
Helen: (in rage)
Oh you blind mole! You would see me with my daughter’s eyes! Now, let her come. Let every cursed woman come!
(Anna has now appered at the head of the stairs, dressed in long flowing garments, her long hair streaming down over her shoulders)
(Anna looks down upon the strange scene and is taken back for a moment)
David: Are you coming down, Anna?
(Anna descends two or three steps at a time, pausing, and coming slowly)
Anna: I am here, now.
(She reaches the foot of the stairs and goes and stands by David’s side. Helen and the man appear petrified. Their faces are struck with a cold fear)
David: (facing the corner where the man stands)
Anna, who is there in this room beside you, your mother, and myself? Tell me, who is here?
(Helen and the man stand as if awaiting a blow to be struck)
Anna: (slowly and with difficulty)
There is nobody here.
(Helen and the man go limp and look as though they would fall)
David: (raising his head, aith a cry)
Oh my God, is there no one in this world to see what I feel? Anna , I ask you again, who is there with us?
Anna: (now thoughtfully, and holding his arm)
There is nobody here but ourselves; there is nobody.
Madman: Now, she has told a truth which even I can’t tell so beautifully.
David: (to Anna)
I thought you would see what I feel. Now I stand alone, but not in the dark. My dead eyes see the ghost of a dead man here in my own house.
(Then suddenly he puts her hand on her shoulder)
Oh, now, I understand your eyes are to kind to see.
Anna: (quietly) I told you there is no one here but ourselves, no one.
(David turns with great suddenness and opens the door, wide, and raising his hand and pointing decisively with his finger to the man, he speaks in a commanding voice)
David: Come ghost of a dead man. Go out! Go out of my house! Go out! And see that you do not haunt me again.
(The man walks unsteadily to the door stealing his steps, in spite of Helen’s gestures to him, imploring him to remain still and silent. He takes up his coat,
hat and muffler, goes out. A drift of snow blows in.)
Madman: in blank*
(Helen rushes toward the door, and hurriedly takes up a coat, and turning back for a second, almost screaming.)
Helen: I too, will go out, you blind mole. (She shakes her finger at Anna) And you witch, you thief with soft fingers, you stay here in this darkness if you can. You stay here in this eternal night.
(Helen goes out and slams the door behind her)
Madman: in blank again*
Anna: There wasn’t anybody else here, but ourselves? Do you understand?
(She puts her hand on his shoulder and looks up into his face.)
(David goes to the inner door and shuts it.)
David: I understand, now, Anna. I understand.
Madman: The wind will erase their footsteps in the snow. The snow will melt. Then speing will come, my friend, and all the flowers of all the fields will open their eyes to see the sun.
Madman: She calls him father, yet he is the child of her heart. Every man is the child of the woman who loves him.
Madman: You have been out of this house for many a day, my lady fair. You are only pretending that you are here.
Madman: But it is an honest storm. It will break down all the rotted branches, and it will bury all the dead things in the forest.
Madman: If the eagle and the worm should meet, and talk of what they see, each one of them wold call the other blind.