Microphone Plays‎ > ‎

Death Rings Down the Curtain

The Sealed Book

Death Rings Down the Curtain

Sep 02 1945



CAST:

NARRATOR

MARTHA, an elderly, crotchety, bitter, cynical, imperious dowager

DOCTOR, her physician; an intelligent professional

MILLIE, her niece; an arch, snobbish, cruel, manipulative, egomaniacal actress

GERALD, her nephew; an alcoholic ne'er-do-well

JORDAN, her attorney

WILSON, her attorney's secretary 




MUSIC: GONG! ... BRIEFLY EERIE ... THEN OUT FOR--


NARRATOR: The Sealed Book!


MUSIC: GONG! ... THEN EERIE TO FILL A PAUSE ... OUT WITH--


SOUND: CLICK-CLICK-CLICK! OF DOOR UNLOCKING AND KNOB TURNED ... DOOR SQUEAKS OPEN 


NARRATOR: Once again, the Keeper of the Book has opened the ponderous door to the secret vault wherein is kept the Great Sealed Book, in which is recorded all the secrets and mysteries of mankind through the ages. Here are tales of every kind -- tales of murder, of madness, of dark deeds strange and terrible beyond all belief. Keeper of the Book, I would know what tale we tell this time. Open the Great Book and let us read.


MUSIC: SHIMMERING WITH EERIE EXPECTANCY, IN BG


NARRATOR: Slowly the Great Book opens.


SOUND: PAGES FLIPPED BEHIND--


NARRATOR: One by one, the Keeper of the Book turns the pages--


MUSIC: OUT WITH--


SOUND: PAGE FLIPPING ENDS 


NARRATOR: --and stops! (BEAT, PLEASED) Ah, the strange story of a beautiful young actress who tried the most difficult role of her life when she impersonated Death to win a prize of millions of dollars. A tale titled:


MUSIC: STING


NARRATOR: "Death Rings Down the Curtain"!


MUSIC: GONG! ... FILLS LENGTHY PAUSE FOR COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ... OUT FOR--


NARRATOR: And here is the tale, "Death Rings Down the Curtain," as it is written in the pages of the Sealed Book.


MUSIC: STING ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: In the darkened bedroom of Martha Richards -- a room where the blinds are always shut -- young Dr. Smith is listening intently through his stethoscope to the laboring heart of his elderly, crotchety patient.


MARTHA: Well? How much longer are you going to keep thumping me with that stethoscope, you old quack?


DOCTOR: I've finished examining you now.


MARTHA: Well? Don't just stand there without saying a word. How am I?! How much time have I got left?


DOCTOR: Well, that's difficult to say. If you will avoid all excitement, I think I can say a year, possibly two.


MARTHA: (CONSIDERS) Hmm, a year, possibly two.


DOCTOR: Yes, but only if you do as I say. Now, there's no reason at all why you should insist on remaining in this darkened bedroom month after month. Why, it's been a year since you've been out of this room.


MARTHA: (ANNOYED) Ohhh, you're going to start on that again?


DOCTOR: And what's more, Mrs. Richards, this living in utter seclusion is bad for your health. You should leave this room and see people.


MARTHA: No, doctor! No. I won't have my maid pushing me around in a wheelchair, the object of everyone's pity. I prefer to remain in this room and have people think of me as I was, not as I am.


DOCTOR: Oh, very well. Only I can't see why you refuse to have visitors. It'd give you some interest in life.


MARTHA: It may surprise you to know, doctor, that I'm expecting two visitors, though it isn't because of anything you've said.


DOCTOR: I'm sure it isn't.


MARTHA: Perhaps the way my heart is, I think it's about time I was drawing up a will. Before I do so, I want to get acquainted with my only living relatives, a niece and a nephew from my husband's side of the family.


DOCTOR: And they're the two visitors you're expecting?


MARTHA: Yes. I haven't seen Gerald and Mildred since they were children. I'm very curious to see what they grew up to be like. I understand Mildred's an actress.


DOCTOR: An actress? You don't mean that Millie Richards is your niece, do you?


MARTHA: Yes. Have you heard of her?


DOCTOR: Of course! Everyone has. She's one of Broadway's leading actresses. I saw her in a play recently and thought she was excellent.


MARTHA: Hm! Probably drinks and smokes and has been married three or four times. And her brother Gerald is probably a ne'er-do-well who's never worked a day in his life.


DOCTOR: Aren't you being a bit unfair, judging the two of 'em before you've even seen them?


MARTHA: That remains to be seen, doctor. Before I draw up my will, I intend to learn everything about them. I'll give them both every opportunity to prove they're worthy of part of the Richards' fortune.


DOCTOR: When do you expect them?


MARTHA: They said they'd be here in time for dinner, which means they should be on their way here now.


MUSIC: BRIDGE


SOUND: RUNNING AUTO INTERIOR BACKGROUND


GERALD: (GROANS) Ohh, my head.


MILLIE: (SNIDE) How's the hangover, brother dear? Painful, I hope.


GERALD: (CONFUSED) Er-- Wha--? What am I doin' in this car? Where we goin'?


MILLIE: Have you forgotten, darling? This is the day we were invited to visit Aunt Martha.


GERALD: (GROANS) Ohhh.


MILLIE: You remember "dear old Aunt Martha." She's the one with all that lovely money.


GERALD: Oh, save it, will ya? I'm in no mood for your witticisms.


MILLIE: Considering that I spent half of last night looking for you under nightclub tables, Gerald, you might be a little more grateful.


GERALD: (GROANS) Mmmm, my head! What a night.


MILLIE: Yes, wasn't it, darling? Every place I went looking for you, they gave me I.O.U.'s you'd left behind. Exactly how much do you owe around town?


GERALD: Eleven thousand dollars. (EXHALES) Millie, you've got to help me. If I don't pay up soon, I'll be in real trouble.


MILLIE: What exactly am I supposed to do?


GERALD: You've got to lend me enough money to hold off my creditors.


MILLIE: Lend you money?! Ha! You may not know it, brother dear, but I'm far deeper in debt than you are.


GERALD: But you were getting a thousand a week as the lead in "Let Us Be Merry." How can you possibly be in debt?


MILLIE: It's all very simple, darling. I was getting a thousand a week and spending two thousand a week.


GERALD: Well, that makes everything just perfect: both of us so deeply in debt, we probably don't dare go back to town.


MILLIE: (SLY) Perhaps after our visit to Aunt Martha we will be able to go back to town.


GERALD: What do you mean by that?


MILLIE: Why do you think Aunt Martha sent us an invitation to visit her?


GERALD: Your guess is as good as mine.


MILLIE: Aunt Martha's getting on in years and, unless I'm very much mistaken, she's decided to draw up a will. Naturally, before doing so, she wants to see what her only living relatives are like.


GERALD: (EAGER, GREEDY) Millie, do you really think she'll leave us some money?


MILLIE: If we play our cards right. All we've got to do is convince Aunt Martha that we deserve it.


GERALD: (SKEPTICAL) How are we going to do that?


MILLIE: By showing her that we're lovable, simple, and unspoiled.


GERALD: (BORED DISBELIEF) Uh huh.


MILLIE: Gerald, do you remember the ingenue role I played in "I Dream of Love"?


GERALD: (GRUDGING) Yes, of course. You weren't half bad.


MILLIE: (STUNG, EXPLODES) Half bad?! Why, I was superb! The critics were mad about me! How dare you say I was only half bad?!


GERALD: All right, all right -- you were superb. What about it?


MILLIE: (CONSIDERS) I think I shall play that role for Aunt Martha. Just a simple, unsophisticated girl, untouched by success.


GERALD: How am I supposed to behave? I'm no actor.


MILLIE: You just play the strong silent type, Gerald, and leave all the talking to me. And when the curtain rings down on my special performance for Aunt Martha, the Richards fortune will be ours.


MUSIC: BRIDGE


SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR


MARTHA: Come in.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


MILLIE: (ALL SWEETNESS AND INNOCENCE) Hello, Aunt Martha.


GERALD: (CHEERY) It's us, Aunt Martha.


MARTHA: Well, come in, Mildred, Gerald. Well, it's been quite a number of years since we've seen each other, hasn't it?


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES


GERALD: Yes, it has been, Aunt Martha.


MILLIE: I - I've been meaning to call on you for ever so long, Aunt Martha, but something always interfered at the last moment.


MARTHA: (SKEPTICAL) Mmmm. Well, what finally brought you here?


MILLIE: Well, when you mentioned in your letter that you were ill and would like to see us, I simply couldn't stay away. I dropped everything to come here.


MARTHA: (IRONIC) I'm extremely grateful. 'Course, the fact that you might possibly get an inheritance had nothing to do with it.


MILLIE: (FEIGNS SURPRISE) Why, Aunt Martha, what a thing to say.


GERALD: Aunt Martha, Millie doesn't need money. Why, she's one of the finest actresses on Broadway.


MARTHA: (UNCARING) So I've heard, so I've heard. (POINTED) What do you do for a living, Gerald?


GERALD: (CAUGHT OFF GUARD) Er-- Huh? Oh, what do I do?


MARTHA: Yes, Gerald, what do you do?


MILLIE: Oh, er, Gerald works for a Wall Street firm, Aunt Martha. Yes, he works so hard and they pay him so little.


MARTHA: Well, unless I'm very much mistaken, Gerald was left quite a sizable inheritance by his father. Whatever became of that?


GERALD: The inheritance--?


MILLIE: (NOT TOO CONVINCING) Oh, that was, uh, lost in poor investments, Aunt Martha.


MARTHA: (STILL SKEPTICAL) I see. Well, I'm afraid there's a good deal about you two that I don't know.


GERALD: (APOLOGETIC) I haven't done very much. I haven't gotten very far, Aunt Martha, but Millie's really been a credit to the family name. Everyone's heard of her.


MARTHA: (UNMOVED) Mmm. Now see here. I want you and Millie to be my guests for a week. Frankly, I want to know what you're like - before I draw up my will.


MILLIE: Of course, Aunt Martha. (OVERPLAYING THE SWEETNESS) And I do hope that you'll take care of yourself so that you'll live for years and years.


MARTHA: Er, thank you, Millie. Now I'm afraid I must ask you two to leave as I'm a bit tired.


GERALD: Why, certainly, Aunt Martha.


MILLIE: If we can do anything for you, please don't hesitate to ask.


MARTHA: Thank you.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES AS MILLIE AND GERALD ENTER HALL


GERALD: (EXHALES, DROPS THE POSE) I'm glad we're out of there. The old lady stares at a person as though she can see through him.


MILLIE: (HER HARD SELF AGAIN) The room's so dark it was difficult to see her. But you can tell -- she won't last much longer.


GERALD: Yes, but the main point is, did she fall for our little act? If you ask me, your performance hardly swept her off her feet.


MILLIE: (STUNG) Nonsense! I played my role perfectly! (CONFIDENT) Just give me a week, darling, and you and I will be the sole heirs to the Richards fortune.


MUSIC: CURTAIN ... GONG! ... FILLS LENGTHY PAUSE FOR COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ... OUT FOR--


NARRATOR: And now to continue the story, "Death Rings Down the Curtain," as it is written in the Sealed Book.


MUSIC: STING ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: For a week, Millie and Gerald have been living with their Aunt Martha, trying to convince her that they are worthy of inheriting her great fortune. And Millie, sure that they have succeeded, is waiting for Gerald to return to tell him the news.


SOUND: DOOR SLAMS


GERALD: (SLIGHTLY DRUNK, UNHAPPY) Hello, Millie.


MILLIE: Gerald, where have you been all night? I've looked everywhere for you.


GERALD: I spent the night in town.


MILLIE: Wha--? Why, you've been drinking!


GERALD: So what?


MILLIE: Oh, you fool! What if Aunt Martha were to hear about it? Just when everything's working out perfectly!


GERALD: So everything's working out perfectly, is it?


MILLIE: Yes! I told you if you'd leave her to me, it would. Last night, Aunt Martha made a phone call to New York. Gerald, it was her attorney she was calling and he's coming here tonight -- to draw up her will!


GERALD: You don't say? Well, well!


MILLIE: Well, you don't sound very enthusiastic at being named one of Aunt Martha's heirs.


GERALD: My dear Millie, it may interest you to know that the greatest performance of your career has gone for nothing.


MILLIE: What do you mean?


GERALD: You may be able to sweep a Broadway audience off its feet, but not Aunt Martha.


MILLIE: Oh, why, I tell you, she believes in me utterly!


GERALD: Oh, does she?


MILLIE: Yes, she does!


GERALD: It may come as quite a shock, but while Aunt Martha was listening so devotedly to your every word, she had a private investigator in New York at work investigating us.


MILLIE: A private investigator? You mean Aunt Martha's been checking on our past?


GERALD: That's the general information I received.


MILLIE: (FURIOUS) Why, that double-crossing old hag!


GERALD: Yes, and no doubt you can guess what she'll do when she learns that I haven't a job on Wall Street and that I gambled my inheritance away. And what do you think she'll say when she hears you were named as correspondent in three divorce actions and were involved in the Wainwright scandal?


MILLIE: Ohhh, I'd like to scratch out those staring eyes of hers! Playing with me like a cat with a mouse!


GERALD: (DISCOURAGED) Well, the game's up. We may as well go up to our rooms and pack.


MILLIE: What?! And walk out on a four-million-dollar inheritance?! I should say not! There must be something we can do about it.


GERALD: Yes? Well, what, for example?


MILLIE: Well, I don't know yet. Let me think. I won't go back to the city beaten, deeply in debt. Aunt Martha may think she's clever, but she won't beat me. Before she cuts me out of her will, I'll-- (GETS AN IDEA) Yes.


GERALD: What are you planning, Millie?


MILLIE: Gerald, if we play our cards right, you and I will inherit the entire Richards fortune in spite of anything Aunt Martha can do! Now, listen, this is what I want you to do-- (FADES OUT WITH--)


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: As Millie explained her idea, Gerald's face became white. But in spite of his fears, he finally agreed to do exactly as Millie asked. Then in the hours that followed, Millie locked herself in her room and practiced her aunt's signature over and over until she was finally satisfied. And that evening, as the clock struck eight, Millie and Gerald silently stole down the hall to the door of their aunt's room.


GERALD: (LOW, URGENT) Millie, let's not go through with this. It's madness!


MILLIE: (LOW) Quiet, you fool! I tell you, it's the only way out!


GERALD: But what if we're caught? You know what that'd mean!


MILLIE: I tell you, we won't be caught if you do exactly as I say! I have everything worked out perfectly to the last detail. Get hold of yourself! I'm going to knock. You know exactly what you're to do.


GERALD: (RELUCTANT) Yes.


SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR


MARTHA: (FROM BEHIND DOOR) Come in!


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


MILLIE: (SWEET AND INNOCENT) Good evening, Aunt Martha.


GERALD: (TENSE, NERVOUS) I, er-- I hope you're feeling well, Aunt Martha.


MARTHA: (OFF, POLITE) Oh, Mildred, Gerald, eh? Come in.


MILLIE: Thank you.


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES


GERALD: It's, er-- It's quite dark in here, Aunt Martha. Would you like me to turn on a light?


MARTHA: No, no, Gerald, that isn't necessary. I'm quite used to being in the dark.


GERALD: Of course.


MILLIE: How are you feeling this evening?


MARTHA: Much better, thank you.


MILLIE: Gerald? Perhaps you ought to fix Aunt Martha's pillows. She doesn't seem very comfortable.


MARTHA: No, no, no. You needn't bother. I'm quite comfortable, I assure you.


MILLIE: Er, Gerald? Fix Aunt Martha's--


GERALD: (INTERRUPTS, EXPLODES) I can't go through with it, do you hear? I can't!


MILLIE: (LOW, SAVAGE) You fool. I should have known better than to count on you.


MARTHA: Mildred? What's Gerald talking about?


MILLIE: (SWEET AND INNOCENT AGAIN) Nothing important, Aunt Martha. Here, let me fix this pillow for you.


MARTHA: I tell you, I don't want it--


GERALD: (INTERRUPTS) Millie, don't!


MARTHA: Mildred-- (MUFFLED GRUNTS AS PILLOW IS PRESSED TO HER FACE, THEN OUT BEHIND--)


GERALD: (BEAT) Millie, don't! She's suffocating!


MILLIE: (STEELY DETERMINATION, SLOWLY) Quiet, do you hear? If you haven't got the nerve to go through with it, I have. (BEAT) There. I think that's enough to bring on a heart attack.


MARTHA: (GROANS AS PILLOW IS REMOVED)


MILLIE: (MOCKINGLY SWEET AND INNOCENT) How do you feel, Aunt Martha?


MARTHA: (WEAKLY) You're - you're nothing but a murderess. Oh, my heart. I-- (LONG EXHALATION; HER DYING BREATH)


GERALD: Millie, is she--? Is she dead?


MILLIE: (WITH GREAT SATISFACTION) Yes, Gerald, and not from suffocation, but from a heart attack. I told you it would work out.


GERALD: (AGITATED) I had nothing to do with it, do you hear? You murdered her; I didn't.


MILLIE: (QUICK AND SMOOTH) In the eyes of the law, Gerald, you're my accomplice. Nothing you might say can make it otherwise. But we haven't time to discuss that. Aunt Martha's attorney should be here in an hour. (INTENSE) Now will you do as I say or won't you?


GERALD: (HELPLESSLY) I have no choice in the matter.


MILLIE: (PLEASED) Now you're acting sensibly. Do exactly as I say and we can't fail!


MUSIC: BRIDGE


GERALD: (LOW, NERVOUS) Millie, a car just stopped in front of the house. It must be Mr. Jordan, Aunt Martha's attorney.


MILLIE: (FOCUSED ON APPLYING MAKE-UP) Hmmm, he certainly is punctual.


GERALD: Are you ready?


MILLIE: I need a little more shading here under my eyes.


GERALD: Hurry, Millie. He'll be up here in a minute.


MILLIE: Gerald, I've never been late for a curtain yet and I won't be late for this one. (BEAT, FINISHES WITH MAKE-UP) There. Now help me on with Aunt Martha's bedrobe.


GERALD: All right.


MILLIE: (BEAT) There. Now -- how do I look, Gerald?


GERALD: (STUNNED) You - you look exactly like Aunt Martha. If I didn't know her body was in that closet, I'd swear you were her.


MILLIE: In the dim light of this room, no one can help but take me for Aunt Martha.


GERALD: Yes, but what about your voice? And the things you may have to know?


MILLIE: Just listen to this. 


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (IMPERIOUS) Don't be ridiculous, Gerald. As mistress of this house, I answer only those questions which I wish to answer and I assure you I shall not be tripped up.


MILLIE: Does that convince you?


GERALD: (RELIEVED) Yes. I'm convinced. (LOW, URGENT) Millie, quick! Get in bed. I hear someone coming.


MILLIE: All right, Gerald. And please stop shaking. I tell you, we can't fail. (WITH RELISH) I shall give the greatest performance of my career.


MUSIC: CURTAIN ... GONG! ... FILLS LENGTHY PAUSE FOR COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ... OUT FOR--


NARRATOR: And now to continue the story, "Death Rings Down the Curtain," as it is written in the Sealed Book.


MUSIC: STING ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: Swiftly, Millie, made up to look like her dead Aunt Martha, slips into her aunt's bed and then, as Gerald lights a cigarette with trembling fingers, someone knocks at the door.


SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Come in.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Good evening, Mr. Jordan. Come in, won't you?


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES BEHIND--


JORDAN: Well, well! Mrs. Richards! How are you? Why, bless me, it's been over a year since I've seen you.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Really, Mr. Jordan? Has it been that long?


JORDAN: It certainly has. How are your eyes? Still troubling you?


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: My eyes? Oh, they're much better, thank you.


JORDAN: That's fine, Mrs. Richards. Oh - oh, by the way, this is Mr. Wilson, my secretary.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: How do you do?


WILSON: I'm happy to meet you, Mrs. Richards.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: I don't think, Mr. Jordan, you've met my nephew, Gerald Richards. Gerald, this is my attorney, Mr. Jordan.


GERALD: Hello.


JORDAN: How do you do, Mr. Richards?


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Mr. Jordan, I want to have a will drawn up and signed tonight.


JORDAN: (SURPRISED) Tonight?


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (YES) Mm.


JORDAN: Surely you can't be serious, Mrs. Richards. After all, your - your vast holdings require a will that will take, er, days to draw up.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Oh, nonsense. I'll have none of your involved forty-page wills. All I want is a simple will dividing my entire estate equally between my nephew Gerald and my niece Mildred.


JORDAN: But, Mrs. Richards, there are so many other details that enter into the matter of a will. Er, for example, we must consider that--


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (INTERRUPTS, POINTED) Mr. Jordan, will you do as I say or must I get another attorney to draw up my will?


JORDAN: (WITH MISGIVINGS) Very well, Mrs. Richards. Mr. Wilson, please draw up a will dividing the entire estate between Gerald Richards and Mildred, uh--?


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (FINISHES THE SENTENCE) Mildred Richards. She's Gerald's sister.


JORDAN: Yes, thank you.


WILSON: I'll take care of it at once, Mr. Jordan.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: You mean, Mr. Jordan, you've never heard of my niece Mildred Richards, the Broadway actress?


JORDAN: Ohhhh! You mean Millie Richards. Why, yes, of course. I've seen her in quite a number of plays.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (PLEASED) Oh, really? What do you think of her?


JORDAN: (BEAT, UNCOMFORTABLE BUT LIGHTLY) Well, er-- Frankly, Mrs. Richards, I - I think your niece has a tendency to overact.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (STUNG) Oh, you do, do you?!


JORDAN: (CASUALLY) Yes. Take this last play she was in -- um, er -- "Let Us Be Merry." Now, I think she played it far too hard for comedy. I'd have preferred to see an actress like, er, say, Joan Walker play that role.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (ICY) Well, it's only your opinion. I should like you to hear what the critics had to say about her performance. Gerald? Will you please hand me Millie's scrapbook? You'll find it on my desk there.


GERALD: But, really, Aunt Martha, don't you think you ought to--?


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (INTERRUPTS) Please, Gerald?


GERALD: Oh, very well.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: I can understand criticism when it's justified, Mr. Jordan, but it seems to me you're going against my niece's huge public.


GERALD: Here's Millie's scrapbook, Aunt Martha.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Thank you, Gerald.


SOUND: SCRAPBOOK PAGES TURNED ... THEN IN BG


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Ah, just a moment, Mr. Jordan, and I'll read you what the critics had to say about Millie's performance in "Let Us Be Merry."


JORDAN: (POLITE) Yes, I'd like to hear it.


SOUND: SCRAPBOOK PAGES STOP


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Ah, here we are. This is what Martin Walters, dramatic critic of the Evening Sentinel, had to say.


JORDAN: Mmm.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: (READS) "Rarely in thirty years of theatergoing has this reviewer seen such a fine flair for comedy as was displayed last night by Millie Richards in her new hit 'Let Us Be Merry.'" (TRIUMPHANT) And that, Mr. Jordan, is the opinion of one of the finest critics in the country!


JORDAN: (PUZZLED BUT POLITE) Well, I - I may be wrong, Mrs. Richards. Naturally, I was only venturing a personal opinion when I said--


WILSON: (INTERRUPTS) I have Mrs. Richards' will prepared, Mr. Jordan. I used the standard form.


JORDAN: (RELIEVED) Oh, yes. Let's have a look at it. (BEAT) Hmmm. Yes, it seems to be all in order.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: You're sure that will, Mr. Jordan, will stand up in court?


JORDAN: Oh, yes. Er, only you'll be leaving a good many, um, unsettled problems to your heirs.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: That's quite all right. I'm sure they're capable of taking care of them. This secretary can be one of the witnesses, can't he?


JORDAN: Yes, Mrs. Richards, and your maid can be the other.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Very well. Now, I'll sign first.


SOUND: SCRIBBLE! OF PEN ON PAPER


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: There you are.


JORDAN: That's fine. Now I'll have the two witnesses sign it and everything will be in order.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Good. I'm quite happy now that it's all settled.


GERALD: You look tired, Aunt Martha.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: I am, Gerald. I am. (CALLS) Are you finished, Mr. Jordan?


JORDAN: (OFF) Yes, Mrs. Richards.


MILLIE AS 

MARTHA: Good. Mary will show you and Mr. Wilson to your rooms. I'll see you in the morning. Good night.


JORDAN: Good night, Mrs. Richards.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


WILSON: Good night.


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES AS ALL EXIT BUT MILLIE AND GERALD


MILLIE: (BEAT, LOW, TO GERALD) They're gone! Well, Gerald, I told you it would work!


GERALD: We aren't through this yet.


MILLIE: Don't be a fool. The money is as good as ours. All we have to do is put Aunt Martha back in this bed. Tomorrow morning, her maid will discover her dead body -- and you and I will inherit everything!


MUSIC: BRIDGE ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: The next morning, things went exactly as Millie had foreseen. The maid found the old woman's body in her bed as if she had died in her sleep, and Dr. Smith was summoned at once. After a brief examination, he was satisfied that Martha Richards' tired heart had simply given out during the night.


MILLIE: (WEEPS) I - I can't believe it somehow, doctor. Aunt Martha was such a dear. It's impossible to believe she's really dead.


DOCTOR: You mustn't feel too badly, Miss Richards. It was all over quite quickly I'm sure. Your aunt's heart simply gave out.


JORDAN: She seemed so strong and well when we left her last night. Why, when she and I were arguing, it was just like old times.


DOCTOR: You mean you and Mrs. Richards had an argument last night?


GERALD: Oh, not really an argument, doctor. They were just debating over my sister's ability as an actress.


JORDAN: Yes, that's all it was. (APOLOGETIC) I hope you won't mind, Miss Richards, but, er-- Well, I told your aunt I thought that you overplayed your roles.


MILLIE: (SWEET) Oh, that's quite all right, Mr. Jordan. What did she say to that?


JORDAN: (CHUCKLES) She almost hit the ceiling when I criticized you. She claimed that you're the finest actress in the country.


MILLIE: Oh, Aunt Martha was always a dear.


DOCTOR: Strange that she should have said that -- considering that she never saw Miss Richards perform.


JORDAN: Well, maybe she hadn't, but-- She pulled out a book of clippings about Miss Richards and read me what one of the critics had said about her niece.


DOCTOR: (SURPRISED) She did what?


JORDAN: She read me what one of the critics had said about Miss Richards' ability as an actress.


DOCTOR: (THOUGHTFUL) I see. (BEAT) Mr. Jordan, I think your criticism of Miss Richards -- that she overplays -- is justified.


MILLIE: (INDIGNANT) I beg your pardon! I never overplayed a role in my life!


DOCTOR: I'm afraid, Miss Richards, that you overplayed one last night.


MILLIE: Last night? What do you mean?


DOCTOR: Your Aunt Martha was an extremely proud woman. She couldn't stand to be pitied. Exactly a year ago, she became blind.


MILLIE: (STARTLED GASP)


DOCTOR: And when she did, she refused to leave her room and allow people to know she'd lost her sight. Only two people knew of her blindness: her maid and myself.


JORDAN: (CONFUSED) But -- if Mrs. Richards was blind, how could she have read me that notice last night?


DOCTOR: She didn't, Mr. Jordan. An egomaniac actress, disguised as Mrs. Richards, read her own notice to you. (ACCUSING) Isn't that so, Miss Richards?


GERALD: (BEAT, BITTERLY) Go ahead! Tell him, Millie! You're so clever! You're the greatest actress in the world! You had everything worked out to the smallest detail!


MILLIE: (HYSTERICAL) Be quiet, you fool! They can't prove a thing! No jury in the world would believe them! I'm too great an actress to be convicted of murder, do you hear?! I'll give a performance that'll sweep a jury off its feet! They'll never convict me! They'll never convict me! Never, never, never!


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE, BUILDS TO CURTAIN


NARRATOR: And that is the story, as it is written in the Sealed Book--


MUSIC: STING ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: --of how an actress tried to impersonate Death -- and failed. Millie Richards had one more opportunity to act: upon the witness stand at her trial. But again she failed -- for the jury found her and her brother Gerald guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. (BEAT) Strange are the secrets of the human heart and the ways of fate in trapping men and women in their own evil schemes.


MUSIC: GONG! ... FILLS LENGTHY PAUSE FOR COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ... OUT FOR--


NARRATOR: And now, Keeper of the Book, before you close the great volume, show us the tale we tell next time. (BEAT) This one? (PLEASED) Yes! A weird and amazing story of a wife who loved her husband too fondly -- and of another wife who came from the grave. A tale titled:


MUSIC: STING


NARRATOR: "Till Death Do Us Part"!


MUSIC: GONG! ... FILLS PAUSE ... OUT FOR--


NARRATOR: Be sure to be with us again next time when the sound of the Great Gong heralds another strange and exciting tale from--


MUSIC: GONG! 


NARRATOR: --the Sealed Book!


MUSIC: GONG! 


NARRATOR: (MATTER OF FACT) "The Sealed Book," written by Bob Arthur and David Kogan, is produced and directed by Jock MacGregor.


Comments