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Florrie and the Country Green

The Columbia Workshop  

Florrie and the Country Green

Sep 28 1942



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

EMILY BRANDON, prim small-town widow

DR. CARL LAMPERT, rural New Englander

MRS. ANNA WILDE, hard, brusque city woman

FLORRIE, Anna's quiet child

KITTY, Emily's neighbor

ED DESEY, low class city guy

CONDUCTOR




ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Workshop!


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG


ANNOUNCER: Tonight the Columbia Workshop presents a new radio drama, written by Abraham Polonsky and directed by Marx Loeb, entitled "Florrie and the Country Green."


MUSIC: UP BRIEFLY ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) After my children had gone away to their own lives and their own homes, the old house became too big and empty for me, and I'm afraid my life became too small. I used to mope around a lot; I had nerves -- and Dr. Lampert came over. Carl Lampert was a family friend even when my husband was alive, so he was able to talk frankly.


CARL: You've got to do more than just wait for time to pass, Emily.


EMILY: Well, it's the house, Carl. It's a family house and now there's no family in it.


CARL: All right, then. Leave it. Go away.


EMILY: (SKEPTICAL) Hm! At my time of life? Oh, you might just as well tell me to leave my own skin. Why, you might just as well tell me to marry again.


CARL: Well, I might do that.


EMILY: (WITH DISAPPROVAL) What?


CARL: But don't get angry; I haven't.


EMILY: Well, if there were only-- Well, I mean, Carl, I don't have any relatives and I can't expect friends to move in with me or-- Well, rooms are kind of dead without people in 'em. 


CARL: Well, put people in 'em, then. This is a country town. It's quiet - healthy - green -- and it's summer, and the city isn't far.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... OUT BEHIND--


EMILY: (NARRATES) And that's how they came. I put an ad in a New York paper and the very next Wednesday they sent me a letter and on Sunday they arrived.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR OPENS


EMILY: Yes?


ANNA: I'm Mrs. Anna Wilde.


MUSIC: AWKWARD, RANDOM NOTES FROM SOLO HARMONICA BEHIND--


ANNA: And this is my daughter. (SHARPLY, TO FLORRIE) Put your harmonica away.


MUSIC: SOLO HARMONICA STOPS


ANNA: This is Florrie.


EMILY: Oh, come in, Mrs. Wilde. Come in, Florrie dear.


SOUND: STEPS IN ... DOOR CLOSES


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) The child never smiled. She clutched a harmonica in one hand and an old doll in the other. She was very much like a doll herself, with big black eyes and a black crop o' hair -- small, quiet, unsmiling.


ANNA: Say hello to Mrs. Brandon, Florrie.


FLORRIE: Hello.


EMILY: Hello, Florrie.


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES, UNEASY) The child stood there, her grave eyes going beyond me, and I - I suddenly got the feeling that she was waiting. Her mother and I didn't seem to exist; only - something beyond us. And as she looked up the stairway I found myself looking, too. But there was no one there -- and no one could have been there. She just looked. She listened, almost as if for a footstep or a voice.


ANNA: (ANNOYED) Stop dreamin', Florrie! Where are your manners? 


EMILY: (NARRATES) The child's gaze came back to us -- cool, remote, as if we didn't exist. Then she put the harmonica to her lips and played.


MUSIC: RANDOM NOTES FROM SOLO HARMONICA BRIEFLY ... THEN OUT


EMILY: (NARRATES) Then she listened again, as if she had blown a trumpet, like a little Gabriel, and was waitin' for the dead to rise.


ANNA: (ADMONISHES) Florrie!


EMILY: (COVERS HER UNEASE) I've got your room all fixed up, Mrs. Wilde. It's a nice corner room with four windows and the big maple puts its branches in. It's always green, always sunny, and always cool. I hope you'll be at home here, and Florrie, too. (AWKWARD BEAT) Oh, I - I'll carry the bag.


ANNA: (CURT) That's all right, I can carry it.


EMILY: Just up these stairs, this way. I'm sure you're both going to be very happy here. (AWKWARD BEAT) Well, I hope so.


ANNA: Long as it's quiet.


EMILY: Well, that's my main trouble. It's been too quiet here.


ANNA: It won't be mine. Come, Florrie.


EMILY: (NARRATES) The child hesitated, then-- Then she lifted the harmonica and blew again. She waited, positively intent, for some reply -- listening.


ANNA: (SHARPLY) Florrie! I'll take it away from ya!


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) The child sighed and, with a melancholy indifference, went right up the stairs after us. (WITH DISAPPROVAL) And that's how they moved in. For a month! (SHRUGS) Well, that was our arrangement.  (IRRITATED) It wasn't so companionable as I'd hoped. In fact, it was just the opposite. And I told that to "Mr. Fix-It," Carl Lampert, M. D.


MUSIC: OUT


EMILY: Not only is the whole village sorry for me because I have to take in boarders, but I might just as well be living by myself. It's all your silly idea, Carl.


CARL: Oh, now, Emily--


EMILY: I might just as well be living in the house with two ghosts. At least, I wouldn't have to be getting three meals a day. They'd just rattle their chains and go about their business. After all, Carl--


CARL: Well, it's just a mother and daughter, not a vaudeville troupe.


EMILY: I don't like Mrs. Anna Wilde -- if that's her real name. She's a cold, unsmiling woman.


CARL: But Florrie is--


EMILY: And Florrie is queer. That's all, a queer child. She never smiles and--


MUSIC: FROM OFF, RANDOM NOTES FROM SOLO HARMONICA ... THEN IN BG


EMILY: She blows that silly thing and waits.


CARL: Waits?


EMILY: Waits -- as if she were calling someone. Very queer, Carl.


MUSIC: HARMONICA OUT BEHIND--


EMILY: Where's the father -- if there is one? Where's the husband? I don't even know if she has one or not.


CARL: (LIGHTLY DISMISSIVE) Oh, Emily. (CHUCKLES)


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) And then the two things happened together. Mrs. Wilde was off somewhere -- I don't know just where -- and I dropped across the street to Kitty's house to talk a little. Mostly about Anna Wilde, if you must know. We were sitting in Kitty's kitchen and from there you can look out into my backyard. And there was Florrie walking solemnly about the vegetable garden and not even stepping on a single radish. She was an extraordinary child with no spirit or mischief in her. And I said as much to Kitty.


KITTY: It's the mother. It's the mother, Emily. She looks awfully brazen and hard to me.


EMILY: (SYMPATHETIC) Look at that solemn child. It's just in her, that's all. Just like a little nun, as if she were walking and saying her prayers quietly to herself.


KITTY: It's strange.


EMILY: (MILD SURPRISE) Well!


KITTY: What's wrong?


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) For Florrie had suddenly looked up at my house and then, as if the sun had suddenly beamed brighter, her face broke into a bouquet of smiles and she ran like the wind around to the front of my house and out of sight.


KITTY: (AMUSED) The way children will play.


EMILY: Well, it must be her mother come back. I just can't fathom them, Kitty. And I tell you, I'll be glad when the month's up and they're gone.


KITTY: Well, it's a trial to have boarders. (CHANGES SUBJECT) How's the family?


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) Well, I said they were fine and then we started talking about the Japanese beetles which were terrible that year. Must have been an hour before I went back to my house. I had to get dinner for my paying guests whether I liked it or not, and I figured I'd make them something special just to have something to talk about. Well, when I walked in the back door, I heard the queerest thing.


SOUND: BACK DOOR OPENS 


MUSIC: FROM OFF, HARMONICA PLAYS "HOME ON THE RANGE" ... THEN IN BG


SOUND: BACK DOOR CLOSES


EMILY: (NARRATES) It was the first time the child had ever made real music on the harmonica.


MUSIC: HARMONICA OUT


EMILY: (NARRATES) And then--


FLORRIE: (FROM OFF, LAUGHS HAPPILY)


MUSIC: FROM OFF, HARMONICA RESUMES "HOME ON THE RANGE" BRIEFLY, THEN OUT


FLORRIE: (FROM OFF, LAUGHS) Hold me, higher! Higher! (CONTINUES LAUGHING, THEN OUT BEHIND--)


EMILY: (NARRATES) I'd never heard her play with her mother that way and I started to go to the front and upstairs when--


SOUND: PHONE RINGS


EMILY: (DISTRACTED BY PHONE) Oh--


SOUND: PHONE RINGS AGAIN, RECEIVER UP


EMILY: (INTO PHONE) Hello?


KITTY: (FILTER) Hello, Emily. This is Kitty.


EMILY: (INTO PHONE) Oh, yes.


KITTY: (FILTER) Mrs. Wilson just called me and she wants to know if you can come to the Red Cross meeting tonight.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR OPENS, OFF


KITTY: (FILTER) All the girls are going to be there and we have to decide about that rummage sale next month.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR CLOSES, OFF


EMILY: (INTO PHONE) Uh, just a minute, Kitty! (CALLS) Oh, Florrie?! Florrie?! (NARRATES) I knew the door had opened and closed. (CALLS) Florrie?!


KITTY: (FILTER) What's wrong?


EMILY: (INTO PHONE) Oh, nothing. I think the child went out--


FLORRIE: Yes, Mrs. Brandon?


EMILY: (SURPRISED) Oh, well, didn't you go out?


KITTY: (FILTER) What's that, Emily? What did I do?


EMILY: (INTO PHONE) Nothing. I'll drop over later. Goodbye.


KITTY: (FILTER) Goodbye.


SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN


EMILY: (PUZZLED) Did your mother go out, Florrie?


FLORRIE: She wasn't here.


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) A dryness came into my heart. The child stood there, just quietly holding the old harmonica in her hand. She watched me with steady unfrightened eyes, as if judging me.


MUSIC: OUT


EMILY: (TO FLORRIE) Well, who were you playing with? (NO ANSWER, NARRATES) She didn't answer. My throat began to tighten. It was the queerest, funniest feeling -- like what you get after a bad dream.


FLORRIE: (HUSHED, INTENSE) Will you promise me, Mrs. Brandon?


EMILY: Promise you what, child?


FLORRIE: Not to tell.


EMILY: Not to tell what, Florrie?


FLORRIE: Will you promise?


EMILY: Well-- But I have to know what I'm promising.


FLORRIE: My father was here. He doesn't want my mother to know, and - I promised him. Will you promise?


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) And I promised. I've been reading newspapers long enough to recognize the old, old story of a quarreling husband and wife. And I realized that Anna Wilde must have just taken the child and hidden out in the country with me to get away from her husband. But then, from the way the child's face had lit up, [it] didn't take me long to figure which partner in the marriage was the bad one. And I got to hate Mrs. Wilde a little. My heart went out to the little miss. Of course I didn't say a word to Anna Wilde when she got back. But I did tell Dr. Lampert -- not that I intended to -- but he started it.


CARL: (LIGHTLY) Guess who I saw this afternoon, Emily.


EMILY: Who, Carl?


CARL: Is it worth a taste of that current preserve?


EMILY: I'm saving it for winter.


CARL: Heh! Then I guess I'll save my story for winter.


EMILY: (BEAT) Here's the preserves.


CARL: Well, I'm not gonna lick it up with my fingers.


EMILY: Don't be so provocative, Carl. Tell me!


CARL: Why, I was coming back from a visit to Ida Winters' boy-- (SMACKS LIPS) Say, this is good. Awful good.


EMILY: (IMPATIENT) Yes?


CARL: He's in his fifth day with measles. I hope the baby don't get it.


EMILY: They always do.


CARL: They always don't.


EMILY: I happen to know, Carl.


CARL: Well, never mind. Anyway, I took the shortcut over that dirt road that goes by the dairy farm, and I passed a little blue coupe, parked near the brook. And who do you think was in it?


EMILY: I know.


CARL: You know what? How could you know?


EMILY: He was here this afternoon. So they must be making up.


CARL: Who was here?


EMILY: Mrs. Wilde's husband.


CARL: Ohhh. What time?


EMILY: Four. About four.


CARL: Well, then the man with Mrs. Wilde wasn't her husband. It was about four when I saw 'em.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR QUIETLY OPENS AND CLOSES, OFF, AS ANNA ENTERS UNNOTICED


CARL: Dark chap. Very thin and tall. Is that her husband?


EMILY: Well, I didn't see Mr. Wilde; I was talking on the phone and-- (SURPRISED, EMBARRASSED) Oh! Mrs. Wilde. 


ANNA: (BRISK, MATTER-OF-FACT) I saw ya come in, Dr. Lampert -- and I just wanted to tell you whom ya saw me with, in case you started discussin' it. (TO EMILY) Mrs. Brandon, my husband left me a few months ago. He just left without sayin' a word or leavin' me a dime. And the man Dr. Lampert saw me with is my "gentleman friend" -- just like yours.


EMILY: (SELF-CONSCIOUS, WITH A CHUCKLE) Well!


ANNA: Do you mind if I invite him to the house?


EMILY: Why should I mind?


ANNA: Well, thanks. I just want to keep things straight. I'm not hidin' anythin'. (MOVING OFF) There's nothin' to hide.


EMILY: (BEAT, AMUSED, TO CARL) Hm! Well!


CARL: Frank, isn't she?


EMILY: Frank?


CARL: Well, I am your gentleman friend.


EMILY: (ADMONISHES) Carl!


CARL: Well, what am I then?


EMILY: (THOUGHTFUL) I can see everything, Carl. Hm! I don't blame her husband for leaving her -- what with Anna Wilde having a "gentleman friend" in a little blue coupe. Mr. Wilde was here this afternoon to see the child. And he made her promise not to say he'd been here. And I promised Florrie I wouldn't say anything. But imagine the nerve of a woman walking in and telling us--


CARL: (INTERRUPTS, LIGHTLY) Well, looks like you've got an angle of a triangle livin' under your roof.


EMILY: Don't eat all the preserve -- and don't tell me I have a triangle under my roof. I have nothing of the kind. (BEAT, SADLY) Poor little Florrie. You should have seen her face light up when the father came.


CARL: Oh, I thought you didn't see him.


EMILY: But I saw her run to him. I was at Kitty's house looking out of the window. I'm gonna ask Florrie when he's coming again. (WITH DISAPPROVAL) Must be Mrs. Wilde's fault; I can tell. Imagine a blue coupe.


CARL: Well, I didn't much like the looks of the friend.


EMILY: And I don't like the looks of the whole thing.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) I'm afraid I brooded over it a little -- lying awake at night, hearing the maple conversing in its secret way, and me in bed talking to my self. I'm afraid I began imagining things -- imagining secrets a person oughtn't bring to mind. And always before my eyes was little Florrie, holding her harmonica, being quiet and sober. Then suddenly her face would break with joy. She loved the father and I wondered when he would come again. But the other one -- Mr. Ed Desey, Anna Wilde called him -- Mr. Desey was coming on Friday night after dinner.


ANNA: I invited him over, Mrs. Brandon. Ya said you wouldn't mind.


EMILY: Oh, why should I mind, Mrs. Wilde?


ANNA: Well, this is a small town and--


EMILY: You said your husband left you. Are you getting divorced?


ANNA: Yeah, I guess I'll hafta.


EMILY: Don't you want to see him again?


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) A blank, hard look came across her eyes like two separate and different lids. And she blinked.


ANNA: (COLDLY) No. I don't wanta see him again.


EMILY: Well, that's your business, Mrs. Wilde, but-- What about the child?


ANNA: (CURT) She's my child.


MUSIC: BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) Since that was the fact, I didn't say anything. I called Carl up and asked him to come over. I don't know, but I - I just didn't feel respectable having that Mr. Desey over and I felt that Carl, being a doctor and used to anything, would give the meeting a - a settled touch. Well, after Florrie was put to bed, Mrs. Wilde left and I went down the cellar to get some of my fancy mixed pickles and some of my preserve. Oh, I figured I'd make it an occasion because I wasn't a boardinghouse landlady no matter what Mrs. Wilde thought. I had the jars in my hand and I opened the cellar door--


SOUND: CELLAR DOOR OPENS


MUSIC: SOLO HARMONICA PLAYS "HOME ON THE RANGE" ... THEN IN BG


EMILY: (NARRATES) --when I heard it again. The father had come in. Well, I stood there rooted to the ground. I hadn't heard the front door open. The tune played on and then it paused.


MUSIC: HARMONICA STOPS


FLORRIE: (OFF, LAUGHS HAPPILY)


MUSIC: AWKWARD RANDOM NOTES FROM HARMONICA FOR A MOMENT THEN STOPS


FLORRIE: (OFF, LAUGHS HAPPILY, OUT BEHIND--)


EMILY: (NARRATES) That was the child. I hurried into the kitchen and took off my apron. I decided to go upstairs and tell Mr. Wilde that his wife was coming right over with the gentleman in the blue coupe. It frightened me having the whole triangle under my roof and I prayed that Dr. Lampert would hurry over. Well, just as I started upstairs--


FLORRIE: (OFF, PLAYFUL) Now you hide!


EMILY: (NARRATES) -- there was a knock on the door.


SOUND: KNOCK ON THE DOOR ... FRONT DOOR OPENS


EMILY: (RELIEVED) Carl!


CARL: (CONCERNED) Why, Emily, you're white as a ghost. 


SOUND: FRONT DOOR CLOSES


CARL: What's wrong?


EMILY: (TENSE) Come over here, Carl, in the sitting-room.


MUSIC: HARMONICA PLAYS A VERY SWEET "HOME ON THE RANGE" ... THEN IN BG


EMILY: (LOW) He's here.


CARL: (LOW) Mr. Desey?


EMILY: No, Mr. Wilde. Listen.


CARL: Huh. (BEAT, LISTENS TO HARMONICA) Well, he plays sweet. What kind of a man is he?


EMILY: I was down in the cellar when he came in; I didn't see him.


MUSIC: HARMONICA STOPS


FLORRIE: (OFF, LAUGHS, PLAYFUL) Come out, come out, wherever you are! Come out, come out, wherever you are! (LAUGHS MERRILY)


EMILY: (TO CARL) Let's go up. If his wife and that man come together--


CARL: Well, maybe it wouldn't hurt if they did come.


EMILY: I don't want that kind of a scene in my house, Carl. And if you--


CARL: All right, all right, let's go up.


EMILY: (SELF-CONSCIOUSLY) Do I look all right?


CARL: (LIGHTLY) Do you mean do you look beautiful or presentable?


EMILY: I'm not that old that I merely have to look presentable.


CARL: I didn't say you were so old.


EMILY: (CHANGES SUBJECT, WITH DISAPPROVAL) It's kind of funny, don't you think, Carl, the - the way every time he comes--? Well, I mean, you wouldn't think the man would have that much brass just to walk up without as much as saying "How do you do?"


MUSIC: HARMONICA RESUMES PLAYING "HOME ON THE RANGE" SWEETLY, IN BG


CARL: I wonder what's wrong between him and his wife.


EMILY: Mr. Ed Desey, no doubt. He'd be wrong between anything. (BEAT, LISTENS) Hm. Plays quite nice, don't you think?


CARL: (AGREES) Mmm.


EMILY: What shall we say to him?


CARL: Anything you please.


SOUND: EMILY AND CARL'S STEPS START UP THE STAIRS, IN BG


EMILY: (SADLY) Well, the children are always the victims in such affairs. And that poor Florrie, you have only to look at her to know why--


MUSIC: HARMONICA OUT WITH--


SOUND: LONG LOUD BLAST FROM DISTANT HORN


CARL: That's the fire whistle.


EMILY: Oh. Must be grass burning somewhere.


CARL: No, not in summertime.


SOUND: SEVERAL SHORT BLASTS FROM DISTANT HORN


CARL: Oh. It's a general alarm. It's a house. I'll be right back, Emily.


EMILY: Carl, just a minute--! 


SOUND: EMILY AND CARL'S STEPS DOWN THE STAIRS, IN BG ... DISTANT FIRE TRUCK APPROACHES, IN BG


CARL: They're comin' this way. I wonder whose house it is.


SOUND: FRONT DOOR OPENS


CARL: Look, Emily!


EMILY: Over there, Carl -- across the square. Isn't that Mrs. Jacobs' house?


CARL: Black smoke.


EMILY: Out of the kitchen window. Must be the stove.


CARL: You comin'? (BEAT) I'll be right back.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) I stood there watching, feeling excited and sorry for Mrs. Jacobs. Black smoke poured out of the windows and the volunteers arrived. They ran into the house and -- then they all came out laughing. I could see Carl coming back across the square and, at the same moment, the little blue coupe stopped in front of my door.


SOUND: AUTO PULLS TO A STOP


EMILY: (NARRATES, WITH DISAPPROVAL) It was Anna Wilde and that man.


SOUND: CAR DOORS OPEN ... ANNA AND DESEY'S STEPS APPROACH ... THEN ONTO WOODEN PORCH BEHIND--


ANNA: (PROUDLY) Mrs. Brandon? This is Mr. Desey.


EMILY: (COOL, BUT POLITE) How do you do, Mr. Desey?


DESEY: (LIGHTLY) How are ya, sister? Have a fire around here?


EMILY: There was an awful lot of smoke, but the volunteers didn't stay long. (TO CARL) Oh, Carl! Carl? What was it?


SOUND: CARL'S STEPS ONTO WOODEN PORCH


CARL: (AMUSED) Heh. Dinner burnin'. That was all.


DESEY: (CHUCKLES, A LITTLE CONDESCENDINGLY) It's a real small-town fire.


EMILY: Dr. Lampert, this is Mr. Desey.


DESEY: (VERY CASUAL) Hiya, Doc.


CARL: (VERY STIFF) How do you do, sir?


DESEY: Er, you one of the volunteers?


CARL: I've been one for forty years.


ANNA: Shall we go in and--?


EMILY: (QUICKLY, NERVOUSLY) No. No, just let's sit down on the porch a while, while we can. I mean, after, the mosquitos get bad, but now it's so nice--


ANNA: Oh, sure. Come on over here, Eddie.


SOUND: ANNA AND DESEY'S STEPS AWAY, ACROSS PORCH


EMILY: (LOW, TO CARL) Will you go in, Carl, and tell Mr. Wilde, or shall I?


CARL: (LOW) No, you go.


EMILY: (UP, TO ANNA AND DESEY) Will you people excuse me? I've got some things I was preparing. Just a little snack.


DESEY: Oh, that's nice of you. (TO CARL) Say, uh, tell me, how many fires like this in town, Doc, huh?


SOUND: DESEY'S VOICE FADES AS WE FOLLOW EMILY INTO THE HOUSE ... FRONT DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES 


EMILY: (SURPRISED) Oh, Florrie. What are you doing downstairs? (NO ANSWER, LOW) Did he go?


FLORRIE: (SIMPLY) Yes. He saw them coming and he went out the back way.


EMILY: Well, you - you go right upstairs to bed and don't say a word.


FLORRIE: I won't, Mrs. Brandon.


MUSIC: IN AND BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) She was holding her harmonica and she went upstairs slowly, looking back at the screen door as if tempted to see the horrible Mr. Desey. (SIGHS) And I breathed a sigh of relief and went into the kitchen and made coffee and a few sandwiches. I don't know why, but I had no desire to see that pair on the porch confronted by the husband. Wasn't the kind of a situation that makes a woman like me take any pleasure. Movies or no movies, I don't like 'em. Well, I was waiting for the coffee to drip when Carl came in.


CARL: Did he go?


EMILY: Yes.


CARL: What'd he say?


EMILY: He was gone when I came in. Florrie said he saw the pair arrive.


CARL: Huh. He sure is a slippery customer.


EMILY: Well, after one look at that Mr. Ed Desey, I don't blame him. (POINTEDLY) And these, Dr. Carl Lampert, are my last boarders.


MUSIC: IN AND BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) Well, we carried the refreshments to the porch and found Mr. Desey with his big feet right up on the railing. Well, we ate and talked, and the evening came creeping in, the way it always does, silently. Carl smoked his pipe and -- (WITH DISAPPROVAL) Anna lit a cigarette. (FEIGNS UNINTEREST) Not that it mattered to me. (DISAPPROVING AGAIN) Mr. Desey had a cigar -- a foul thing. (THOUGHTFUL) I was sitting there, not saying much, just thinking of Mr. Wilde and Florrie. A person likes to help in an affair like this because [the] poor innocent child loved her father dearly. It was enough to hear them playing together for a person to know. But there was Mr. Desey. Then I realized that Carl was also thinking of little Florrie and her happiness.


CARL: (SERIOUS) No, sir. No place like a small town for bringin' up children, Miz Wilde. I'm a doctor and I've always believed that.


DESEY: (LIGHTLY) Well, I'm for the city, Doc. Give me the city and you can take the vegetables and fresh air. Heh. With me, a salad is nature in the raw. Right, Anna?


CARL: Well, uh, I was speakin' of Florrie.


ANNA: I've been thinkin' of Florrie. I'm sure she'd like livin' in the country. Maybe in a town like this. But I couldn't stand it. Two weeks and I've got all the green I want.


EMILY: Well, people have their own tastes, I say.


ANNA: Oh, there's nothin' wrong with a country town, Mrs. Brandon. It's just that I'm a city girl.


DESEY: (LIGHTLY) And how!


ANNA: (AMUSED) Oh, Eddie--


DESEY: (CHUCKLES) Sorry, kid, but I just had a vision of old Fifty-Two Street--


ANNA: (QUICKLY INTERRUPTS) I was thinkin' if I could find a nice home where Florrie could stay and be happy and where she wouldn't be lonely--


DESEY: Well, what's the use of beatin' around the bush, Anna? These people know the situation. (A PROPOSITION, TO EMILY) Now, uh, Anna and I were wonderin', Mrs. Brandon, whether you'd like to keep the kid here. In short, we'd pay what it's worth.


CARL: (HELPFULLY) But maybe she'd like stayin' with her father better.


DESEY: (ODDLY NERVOUS) That's nuts. The old man ran out. He - he blew, didn't he, Anna?


EMILY: (AWKWARD BEAT) Would the child mind leaving you, Mrs. Wilde?


ANNA: (WITH CONTEMPT) Hm! She doesn't seem to mind anythin' much.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) There didn't seem much to say. We heard a bobwhite sound and a boy went by on a bicycle. Mr. Desey's cigar was glowing and it was almost night. I was sitting facing toward the screen door of the house, and that's how I saw Florrie standing there. Right behind the screen, listening. I could make out her white nightgown and the blur of her white face. Well, I should have said something or done something, but some devil held me in my chair and I sat still.


DESEY: Well, er, what do you say, Mrs. Brandon? Would you like to take care of the kid?


CARL: I still say it ought to be the father, if you don't want her, Miz Wilde.


ANNA: I didn't say I didn't want her. She doesn't want me! (UNCARING) And if she doesn't, it'll be all right with me. I can live my life.


DESEY: You said it. (TO EMILY) We'll pay anything reasonable.


EMILY: Maybe if you got together with your husband again, Mrs. Wilde, the child might help keep you together. Children do, you know.


ANNA: (SEEMINGLY OFFENDED) I don't see what--

 

DESEY: (QUICKLY INTERRUPTS) Easy, kid. (SMOOTHLY) I can see Mrs. Brandon's point, but, ah, you don't unnerstand, Mrs. Brandon. The old man didn't wanna have the trouble of the kid in the first place. He never liked her and she never liked him.


ANNA: Why, he left me because of her. Because he didn't want a child. He didn't like her. He didn't love her.


FLORRIE: (AN OUTBURST) He loves me! He loves me!


ANNA: (SURPRISED, HARSHLY) Florrie!


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) She faced the pair, white in her white nightgown, and she was crying.


FLORRIE: (HER WEEPING OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE, THEN--) He does! He does! He told me! (WEEPS, IN BG)


ANNA: (ANNOYED) What are you doing down here?


FLORRIE: He loves me! He told me! He picked me up and he said he loved me! He said he'd never let you take me with you! I hate you! (WEEPS, IN BG)


ANNA: (SAVAGELY) Shut up!


CARL: (A WARNING) Don't you strike her!


DESEY: Why don't you let her--?


CARL: (INSISTS, TO ANNA) I said, don't strike her!


FLORRIE: He was here today!


DESEY: Huh?


FLORRIE: And he's comin' again! He said he was comin' again!


ANNA: (QUIETLY STUNNED) What did you say?


FLORRIE: Yes, he's here, he's here! He didn't go away. He said he'd never go away!


ANNA: (TENSE) Ed?!


DESEY: (NERVOUSLY) It's the kid's imagination.


ANNA: (SCARED) Ed!


EMILY: Yes, he's been here twice, Mrs. Wilde. As a matter of fact, your husband was here when you and Mr. Desey drove up. Why, he was right in the house when you--


SOUND: THUMP! AS DESEY JUMPS OUT OF HIS CHAIR, KNOCKING IT OVER ... HIS RUNNING FOOTSTEPS OFF THE PORCH TO THE AUTO, IN BG


ANNA: (CALLS AFTER HIM) Ed!


CARL: (PUZZLED) Mr. Desey?


EMILY: (CONFUSED) Mrs. Wilde--?


CARL: Wha--? The man's runnin' away. (CALLS) Desey?!


SOUND: AUTO ENGINE STARTS ... CAR SPEEDS AWAY ... FADES INTO DISTANCE DURING THE FOLLOWING--


EMILY: (STILL CONFUSED) Mrs. Wilde--?


ANNA: (NERVOUS BREAKDOWN) I knew it would happen. I knew it. I knew it! He - he put the idea in my head. It was Ed! I swear it was! It was Ed!


CARL: (CALMLY) Take the child away, Emily.


EMILY: (REASONABLY) Why, he'll forgive you, Mrs. Wilde. He came and played so nicely with the child and-- Look at that one, he's run away already.


ANNA: (EXPLODES) You're both crazy! You're all crazy! My husband's dead! We killed him! Ed and I killed him! He's dead! Buried! (WEAKLY) Dead-- Buried-- Dead-- Buried--


EMILY: Dead?


ANNA: (LOW) Dead--


MUSIC: BIG ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND EMILY--


EMILY: (NARRATES) Of course, Carl and I never breathed a word about those two visits of Mr. Wilde. And they took her away. Mrs. Wilde, I mean. She was mad, stark raving mad. But the police got the story from Mr. Ed Desey and it was sordid and dirty, the way those stories are, and he was going to get what he deserved. But she escaped it, at least. She - just never knew anything any more. 


MUSIC: OUT


EMILY: (NARRATES) So we got in touch with poor Mr. Wilde's relatives in Kansas and two weeks later little Florrie, smiling and happy, was ready to leave.


CARL: Well, I got everything, I think. Tickets, the bags, the box of candy, the doll; yes, Emily.


EMILY: And now we'll go down to the station, Florrie.


FLORRIE: (HAPPIER THAN BEFORE) Yes, Mrs. Brandon. 


EMILY: Uh, Carl, here - here - here's the child's harmonica. I'll put it in your pocket, your arms are so full.


CARL: All right. Well, everything's under control.


EMILY: (NARRATES) Well, we drove down to the station, Florrie sitting between us -- (WITH DISAPPROVAL) and there were quite a number of nosy neighbors around just dying out of morbid curiosity. But we hustled her into her compartment on the train.


SOUND: TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS ... TRAIN BACKGROUND (BELL RINGS, ET CETERA)


EMILY: Goodbye, Florrie dear. The nurse on the train'll be in an minute and you just do as she says until you get to your aunt and uncle's. 


FLORRIE: Yes, Mrs. Brandon. 


CARL: And here's your doll and these picture books. You be a nice girl and write us a letter, won't you?


FLORRIE: Yes, Dr. Lampert. 


CARL: Goodbye, child.


FLORRIE: Goodbye.


EMILY: Goodbye. (BEAT, HESITANT) Will you - kiss me, Florrie?


FLORRIE: (A LITTLE SAD) Yes, Mrs. Brandon. 


EMILY: (PAUSE FOR KISS, WARM CHUCKLE) Goodbye, dear.


SOUND: COMPARTMENT DOOR CLOSES


CARL: You know, I just don't get it, Emily--


EMILY: Uh, we have to get off the train.


CARL: (QUICKLY) Oh, there's time and I'm comin'. (RESUMES, POINTEDLY) But how could the child invent a story like that -- I mean, about the father comin' -- and have you, Emily, believin' it?


EMILY: You mean it's my fault?


CARL: No. But you backed the child's imagination up, and that's what did it.


EMILY: But how was I to know the poor man had been dead and murdered?


CARL: But, Emily, you told me you heard him.


EMILY: Well, it was the way she pretended to play with him. I mean, talking to him and laughing as if he were there in the room.


SOUND: TWO SHORT TOOTS OF TRAIN WHISTLE


EMILY: Say, we have to get off the train.


CONDUCTOR: (OFF) Board!


CARL: (TO EMILY) All right, come along. But, Emily, you said somebody played tunes on the harmonica.


EMILY: Well, you heard her.


CARL: I didn't hear her.


CONDUCTOR: (SLIGHTLY OFF) All aboard!


EMILY: (QUICKLY, TO CARL) Come along. (INSISTS) You did, and so did I. But how she--


MUSIC: FROM OFF, SOLO HARMONICA PLAYS "HOME ON THE RANGE" ... THEN IN BG


EMILY: There! You see? She did play it. And she's playing it now. Just open the compartment door and see.


CONDUCTOR: All aboard!


EMILY: I just--


CARL: No. No, there's no time. Come on.


EMILY: Well, you can't make me believe that--


CARL: We're gettin' off, Emily. Hurry!


EMILY: (A LITTLE BREATHLESS, WITH EFFORT) Carl -- now, don't drag me that way. It isn't decent.


MUSIC: HARMONICA FADES OUT BEHIND--


SOUND: TWO TOOTS OF TRAIN WHISTLE ... BELL RINGS, ET CETERA


CONDUCTOR: (TO CARL AND EMILY) All right, please. This way.


SOUND: TRAIN STATION BACKGROUND ... UP TO FILL A BRIEF PAUSE ... THEN IN BG


EMILY: (NARRATES, LIGHTLY) I looked at the compartment window, but the shade was down. I waved anyway, thinking I saw her white face peering from behind a lifted edge of shade. (BREEZILY, TO CARL) Well, at least it wasn't a ghost. But how a child--


CARL: (INTERRUPTS) Emily! (QUIETLY) Emily.


EMILY: Hm?


CARL: Look.


EMILY: (BEAT) The harmonica.


CARL: Yeah. I forgot to give it to her.


SOUND: TRAIN STARTS TO PULL OUT OF STATION ... PICKS UP SPEED, IN BG


EMILY: But--


CARL: But what?


EMILY: (REALIZES, SLOWLY) But she played it, Carl. She played it.


CARL: How could she? I've got it here. (SUDDENLY) Let's go, Emily. (NO RESPONSE) I say, let's go.


EMILY: But, Carl--! (BEAT, NARRATES) Now, what do you think it was? (BEAT) I don't know. (INHALES) I just don't know.


SOUND: TRAIN SPEEDS AWAY, WHISTLE BLARING


MUSIC: CURTAIN


ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Workshop has brought you "Florrie and the Country Green," a drama written especially for radio by Abraham Polonsky. The director was Marx Loeb. Featured in the cast were Selena Royal as Emily, Parker Fennelly as Carl, Henriette Kaye as Anna, Carl Eastman as Desey, Betty Philson as Florrie, and Grace Coffin as Kitty. Music was composed and conducted by Ben Ludlow. The current Workshop productions are under the supervision of William Spier.


MUSIC: FOR CLOSING ... IN BG, UNTIL END


ANNOUNCER: If you can't go, write! Letters give our boys a lift.


This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.


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