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I Am Not a Stranger

Romance

I Am Not a Stranger

Jun 30 1952



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

2ND ANNCR

WOMAN


LARRY, good-natured

LEAH BETH, romantic, mischievous

CULPEPPER, elderly

BERNICE, Leah Beth's mother

DAD, Larry's father




ANNOUNCER: "The Lux Hour of Romance and Mystery."


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: Lever Brothers Company, makers of Lux Toilet Soap, the complexion care that can give you refreshing new beauty, presents for your entertainment an hour of romance and mystery. THE LUX RADIO THEATRE will be with us again on September eighth, the Monday after Labor Day. During the month of June, we have been bringing you romantic love stories of today and yesterday, and also an absorbing drama of people who walk the Great White Way. It's an hour of exciting romance and thrilling mystery.


MUSIC: OUT


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MUSIC: THEME ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: ROMANCE -- bringing you unforgettable stories of love and romance. Tonight the makers of Lux Toilet Soap present James Street's unusual love story "I Am Not a Stranger."


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) A drizzling rain was falling and I had driven about a mile beyond the village before I realized that something was strange about the place -- and so I turned back. All the other Southern hamlets had looked alike: town square, a Confederate monument, a Post Office Café. But Lystra was somehow different. It was nearly dark as I drove into the town square. A girl was sitting barelegged on a bench under a live oak that stood in the middle of the square. Just sitting there, with the rain blowing against her in a fine spray -- as though there was nothing left in all the world except her, and the rain, and the joy of sitting there. She looked up and smiled at me as I got out of my car and walked toward her.


SOUND: LIGHT RAIN BACKGROUND ... LARRY'S STEPS IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


LEAH BETH: (GOOD-NATURED) Hey! What do you do up in New York when it rains?


LARRY: (LIGHTLY) We get in out of the wet. Those of us who are sane.


LEAH BETH: (CHUCKLES) Then you don't know much, do you?


LARRY: I don't know where the hotel here is. Perhaps you--


LEAH BETH: (INTERRUPTS) It's right over there. That's Mr. Culpepper, on the porch.


LARRY: Oh. Yes, thanks. (PUZZLED) Say, there's - there's no Confederate monument here.


LEAH BETH: Lystra doesn't need one.


LARRY: Why not?


LEAH BETH: (A BIT MISCHIEVOUS) You'll find out. If you stay here, long.


LARRY: Oh. Well, goodbye.


LEAH BETH: Goodbye.


SOUND: LARRY'S STEPS TO PORCH


LARRY: You Mr. Culpepper?


CULPEPPER: That's right, son.


LARRY: I need a room for the night.


CULPEPPER: Most folks do. Tell me, son, what do you folks up North do when it rains?


LARRY: (AMUSED) What do you do here when it rains?


CULPEPPER: (SIMPLY) We just let it rain.


SOUND: SCRAPE OF CHAIR AS CULPEPPER RISES ... HIS STEPS IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


CULPEPPER: Ah, come along, sign the registry.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS ... THEIR STEPS IN ... DOOR CLOSES, SHUTTING OUT RAIN ... STEPS TO FRONT DESK ... RATTLE OF GLASS INKWELL


CULPEPPER: (HANDS PEN TO LARRY) Here ya are.


SOUND: SCRIBBLE OF PEN ON PAPER


CULPEPPER: (INTERESTED) Hm! Laren W. McCall. [PRONOUNCED "LOR-en McHail"] Ya Scotch, huh?


LARRY: Probably. Way back. I don't know.


CULPEPPER: What's the "W" for?


LARRY: Winton. Is it important?


CULPEPPER: We don't get many folks from New York.


LARRY: I s'pose not. Er, tell me, what time is dinner served? I mean supper.


CULPEPPER: Six-thirty. But I wouldn't eat supper here if I was you, Laren.


LARRY: It's Larry. Why not?


CULPEPPER: Well, I'll tell ya. I set the best dinner table in North Carolina. Been doing it for forty-three years. Always the same price. A dollar. But stuff is so high now that to make out on a dollar dinner, I have to scrimp on supper. So I don't brag about my suppers.


LARRY: Do you eat supper here?


CULPEPPER: Oh, my goodness, no. I gen'ly eat up at the Morgan House. Mrs. Morgan sets the best supper table in North Carolina. A dollar. Y'see, she lays it on for supper, but she scrimps on dinner.


LARRY: (CHUCKLES) I see. Well, I think I'll take a look at my room.


CULPEPPER: Er, wait a minute. You ever been in a country hotel before?


LARRY: Yes, I have, but--


CULPEPPER: Well, it ain't no use of climbing them stairs just to see your room. (BRISKLY) It's eighteen by fourteen feet with two windows, one is stuck. There's a' inkwell and no ink, and a Gideon Bible. The bathroom's down the hall and the tub drips.


LARRY: (LAUGHS) I'll still take it.


CULPEPPER: You have to. This is the only hotel in Lystra.


LARRY: Tell me, Mr. Culpepper. Uh, Lystra's different from other Southern towns I've seen. There's no Confederate monument here. Why is that?


CULPEPPER: (BEAT, QUIETLY, SADLY, PROUDLY) This whole town is a monument, son.


LARRY: What do you mean, the whole town?


CULPEPPER: You'll see -- later.


LARRY: Hm. Well, then, tell me this. Is that a custom here? To sit out in the rain like that girl?


CULPEPPER: It's her custom.


LARRY: Well, why does she do it?


CULPEPPER: That's Leah Beth Morgan. I've known her all her life and I never asked her why she sits out there. Maybe she just likes to sit under a tree and it a-raining.


LARRY: She's a very beautiful girl.


CULPEPPER: (AGREES) Mm hm. She has her mother's looks and her daddy's soul. Her daddy's dead. Some folks say her daddy drank himself to death, but here in Lystra we know he was mommicked.


LARRY: Mommicked?


CULPEPPER: That's what we call it when somebody just gets-- Well, destroyed.


LARRY: I see.


CULPEPPER: Bernice did it. He married her. Prettiest darlin' in the county. She didn't kill him exactly. She just wrung his spirit dry and he withered. She's a mommick, all right, but she still sets the best supper table in North Carolina.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS ... LEAH BETH'S STEPS IN ... DOOR CLOSES BEHIND--


LEAH BETH: (MERRILY) Hey, what'll we do if it rains, Mr. Cul?


CULPEPPER: We'll just let it rain, honey. 


LEAH BETH: (CHUCKLES)


CULPEPPER: Come over here and meet a friend of mine. This is Mr. McCall. Laren W. McCall. The "W" is for Winton.


LEAH BETH: How do you do?


CULPEPPER: Calls himself Larry. He's from New York and he aims to eat at your house.


LEAH BETH: We'll be glad to have you.


CULPEPPER: He's curious why we ain't got a secesh [PRONOUNCED "SEE-sesh"] monument.


LEAH BETH: I know.


LARRY: I just happened to notice it. You see, I'm a history teacher up in New York and I'm making a study of Southern folklore for my Ph.D. thesis.


LEAH BETH: You're a schoolteacher and never heard of Lystra?


LARRY: Should I have? Is it famous for something besides beauty and hospitality?


CULPEPPER: Er, look, you two walk on up to-- (YAWNS MIGHTILY) -- Morgan House and maybe Leah Beth'll tell you about this town. I'll be along t'reckly.


LEAH BETH: Don't sleep through supper, Mr. Cul. 


SOUND: LEAH BETH'S STEPS TO DOOR


LEAH BETH: Come along, Larry.


SOUND: DURING FOLLOWING, THEIR STEPS GO THROUGH DOOR, WHICH OPENS AND SHUTS, THEN ONTO SIDEWALK ... STEPS CONTINUE AS NOCTURNAL BACKGROUND (CRICKETS CHIRPING, ET CETERA) FADES IN--


LARRY: You know, if I tell people back home I found a girl sitting out in the rain, they won't believe it.


LEAH BETH: The tree keeps me dry. Even in a heavy rain only a sort of mist seeps through a live oak.


LARRY: You do it for any particular reason?


LEAH BETH: (CHUCKLES) You're so analytical. I like to sit in the rain, that's all. Don't you?


LARRY: Well, I've never tried it, but when it rains I usually want to keep dry.


LEAH BETH: That takes all the fun out of it. Like swimming in your clothes or sleeping with the windows down. I'll bet you even think the rainbow is just a spectrum instead of the hem of heaven's gown.


LARRY: Well, isn't it?


LEAH BETH: Here in Lystra we call it "the hem of heaven's gown." We like it that way.


LARRY: (AMIABLY) Yes, I think I do, too. (BEAT) Tell me about Lystra, Leah Beth.


LEAH BETH: (SOFTLY) Lystra is where - none came back. All the young men volunteered and formed Lystra Company and joined the Confederate Army. They rode away one night - and none came back.


LARRY: None?


LEAH BETH: Not one. They all were killed. So you see why we don't need a monument. Lystra herself is monument enough.


LARRY: I never heard that story. Didn't a prisoner come back? Or some wounded men?


LEAH BETH: (INSISTS) I tell ya, they all were killed. They all rode away together one night and - vanished. Every young man in town. They were mommicked.


MUSIC: BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) She made it sound as though it were yesterday -- and I glanced up the street, half expecting to see them tearing down the pike on white horses. They'd be laughing and singing and wearing yellow sashes; they always did in such stories. And then we turned a corner and before us stood Morgan House: the lawn spreading back to a white mansion; columns; in the moonlight, magnolias.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS ON THE LAWN, IN BG


LEAH BETH: Can you see Mother? There, on the porch.


LARRY: The little lady with white hair?


LEAH BETH: Yes.


LARRY: She, er-- She seems too gentle to be a mommick.


LEAH BETH: (CHUCKLES) She isn't --- any more. Come on. You'll meet her.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS ONTO PORCH


LEAH BETH: Hello, Mother.


BERNICE: Hello, Leah Beth. Who d'ya have with ya?


LEAH BETH: Mother, this is Mr. McCall, from New York.


LARRY: How do you do, Mrs. Morgan?


BERNICE: What brings you to Lystra, Mr. McCall? 


LARRY: Well, I'm on a tour, as it were. Making a study of the South, particularly its myths and folklore. It's for my Ph.D. thesis.


BERNICE: I see. Er, who are your people, Mr. McCall?


LEAH BETH: (A LITTLE EMBARRASSED) Oh, Mother, do you really think you should ask - of a stranger?


BERNICE: One's family is as important as one's self, Leah Beth.


LARRY: Well, I'm afraid I can't tell you very much, Mrs. Morgan. My mother died when I was a baby, and I was raised by my father in Albany. My mother came from Watertown, Connecticut--


LEAH BETH: (INTERRUPTS) Here comes Mr. Cul. Is supper ready, Mother?


BERNICE: It isn't polite to interrupt a guest, Leah Beth.


LARRY: (CHUCKLES) Oh, that's all right. I - I mean, I really don't know very much about my family. I was named for my mother's father. He was a lawyer, I believe.


SOUND: CULPEPPER'S STEPS APPROACH


CULPEPPER: Well, good evening, everybody.


LEAH BETH: Hello, Mr. Cul.


LARRY: How do you do, sir?


BERNICE: Mr. Culpepper.


CULPEPPER: (LIGHTLY) Bernice here been diggin' up your past, Larry?


BERNICE: If one's proud of one's folks, there's no harm in tellin' about them.


CULPEPPER: Well, spare the bones, Bernice. Besides, I'm hungry.


BERNICE: Well, supper's ready any time. (BEAT, GENTLY INSISTENT) I'll take your arm, Mr. McCall.


MUSIC: LANGUOROUS ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) We went in to supper and it was all Mr. Culpepper had promised: fried chicken, new potatoes, butter beans, parsnips, apple bread, cider, dewberries, and mush melons. While we ate, I glanced at Leah Beth from time to time. Her face was young and fresh. Her eyes were shining. She was lovely.


BERNICE: Have you had enough, Mr. McCall?


LARRY: Oh, indeed I have, Mrs. Morgan. The finest supper I've had down here.


BERNICE: Leah Beth, since Mr. McCall is interested in Southern history, why not show him the sword in the tree?


LEAH BETH: (RELUCTANT) If he wants to see it.


BERNICE: Of course he wants to see it.


SOUND: CHAIR SCRAPES AS CULPEPPER RISES


CULPEPPER: Well, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go set on the porch for a while.


BERNICE: I'll come with ya, Mr. Culpepper.


SOUND: CHAIR SCRAPES AS BERNICE RISES ... BERNICE AND CULPEPPER'S STEPS AWAY


LARRY: What's this, er, "sword in the tree," Leah Beth?


LEAH BETH: (UNENTHUSIASTIC) We have an old rose garden out back. It's at the end of it.


LARRY: Shall we go see it then?


LEAH BETH: (INDIFFERENT) Of course. Come along.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS TO BACK DOOR DURING FOLLOWING--


LARRY: I have a feeling you don't much want to show me this sword, Leah Beth. Why is that?


LEAH BETH: (SULLEN) I'll show it to ya.


LARRY: Yes, I know, but you're not very enthusiastic about it.


SOUND: BACK DOOR OPENS


LARRY: Is it a personal reason?


SOUND: BACK DOOR SHUTS ... THEIR STEPS THROUGH GARDEN, IN BG--


LEAH BETH: All right, since you're so insistent, I'll tell ya. I don't think you believe in anything.


LARRY: What?


LEAH BETH: You're a professor. You believe in facts only, not truths.


LARRY: (LAUGHS) Well, now I am confused.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS OUT WITH--


LEAH BETH: Here's the tree. And there's the sword. See it?


MUSIC: MAJESTIC ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES, QUIETLY IMPRESSED) The sword was old and rusted, but it seemed to gleam in the moonlight with a strange, eerie brightness. Leah Beth stared at it, too, a faraway look in her eyes. Instinctively, I took her hand in mine and she left it there.


SOUND: NOCTURNAL BACKGROUND


LEAH BETH: It was put there by one of those who rode away and never came back.


LARRY: And do you care to tell me about it?


LEAH BETH: My aunt was living here. My great-great-aunt, really. She was twenty-two. My age. They called her a maiden lady. The night they rode away her lover came here to tell her goodbye. He came up that path yonder.


LARRY: (A LITTLE DRY) Was he riding a white horse?


LEAH BETH: (ROMANTIC) Yes. A white horse. And he was wearing a yellow sash. This tree was just a sapling then and he stuck his sword in it and told her that as long as his sword remained there, the honor of this house would be without blemish. The tree grew up around the sword, but there it is. Still there.


LARRY: May I come back by daylight and see it?


LEAH BETH: If you want to.


LARRY: (BEAT) Leah Beth--?


LEAH BETH: Yes?


LARRY: Please try not to think of me as just a professor.


LEAH BETH: All right. I'll try.


MUSIC: BRIDGE


SOUND: LARRY'S STEPS DOWN HOTEL STAIRS


LARRY: Morning, Mr. Culpepper.


CULPEPPER: Morning, son. Sleep well?


LARRY: Fine. I dreamed a lot, though.


CULPEPPER: That won't harm ya. Leah Beth show you the sword last night?


LARRY: Yes, and I'm going back this morning to look at it again. 


CULPEPPER: Why?


LARRY: Curiosity, I suppose. Tell me, what happened to the aunt? The maiden lady? (LIGHTLY) Did she pine away?


CULPEPPER: Mm hm. That's right, son. Her baby lived on a few weeks.


LARRY: (UNHAPPY) Oh.


CULPEPPER: Uh huh. We had a mighty fine rector here, so the story goes. He wasn't too good to fib a bit for the Lord. He said he'd married 'em, but there was no license record. 'Course, records in them days were pretty skimpy. She waited and waited for him to come back, then punied and died of a broken heart.


LARRY: (TO HIMSELF) Same old fable. 


CULPEPPER: What'd you say?


LARRY: Oh, nothing; I'm just mumbling to myself. I'll be back for dinner.


CULPEPPER: Then be here at twelve-thirty. We only serve once.


MUSIC: GENTLE ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) When I reached Morgan House, it was just as I had expected: it wasn't the same by day. There were bare spots on the lawn and the paint on the house was peeling. I went straight to the tree and examined the sword. Of course -- I might have known -- it wasn't a sword at all. It was the blade of an old scythe. The story was quite clear to me now. A lost lover is the usual alibi for an old maid.


SOUND: DAYTIME BACKGROUND (BIRDS CHIRP AND TWEET, ET CETERA)


LEAH BETH: (AMUSED) You came back early, didn't you?


LARRY: (LAUGHS) Why, Leah Beth -- it's just an old scythe!


SOUND: HER STEPS APPROACH 


LEAH BETH: Is it? We thought it was a sword.


LARRY: Well, you can't be serious. Or are you making fun of me?


LEAH BETH: (HURT) I'm perfectly serious.


LARRY: But it's plainly a scythe. Obviously, some worker hung it over a branch of the tree and forgot about it. Tree grew around it, the handle rotted away, and there it is.


LEAH BETH: (WITH QUIET ANGER) You're quite sure of that, aren't you?


LARRY: Well, I - I don't know for certain how it got there, but anyone can see it's just a scythe.


LEAH BETH: You are a mommick, aren't you? (BITTER IRONY) Knowledge must be a wonderful thing. It must be fine to know the difference between a sword and a scythe, between the bitter truth and the beautiful illusion. You're proud of that, aren't you?!


LARRY: (TAKEN ABACK) Well, now, wait a minute, Leah Beth--


LEAH BETH: You mommick! I hate you!


LARRY: No, Leah Beth. Don't say that.


LEAH BETH: Why not?! You're so smug and pleased! It's a scythe, you say! Well, I say your knowledge is an evil, destructive thing!


LARRY: But that's unreasonable--


LEAH BETH: Is it?! Then you'd better go back to New York!


MUSIC: SOMBER ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) She stood there, her head thrown back, her eyes bright with anger. And she looked lovelier than ever. I knew then that I wanted this girl, that I had to have her. I watched her for a moment and then turned back to the tree and peered closely at the blade.


LEAH BETH: You've no understanding of anything at all, have you?


SOUND: LARRY TAKES A COUPLE OF STEPS TO THE TREE


LARRY: (WITH SUDDEN ENTHUSIASM) This is amazing, Leah Beth. 


LEAH BETH: (PUZZLED) What's amazing?


LARRY: This is the first curved Highland broadsword I ever saw! Some might erroneously call it a claymore, but it certainly isn't.


LEAH BETH: (MOVED, QUIETLY) Larry--?


LARRY: No, it's a curved Highland broadsword and you can take my word for it!


SOUND: LARRY'S STEPS AWAY FROM TREE


LEAH BETH: (LOVINGLY) Oh, Larry -- you are sweet. You're a gentleman. And a darling.


LARRY: (PLEASED, QUIETLY) Not a mommick?


LEAH BETH: Kiss me, Larry. Please.


MUSIC: ROMANTIC BRIDGE


CULPEPPER: Have enough to eat, son?


LARRY: (STUFFED) Ooh, I certainly have, Mr. Culpepper.


CULPEPPER: Those June apples -- take one.


LARRY: I couldn't eat another bite, thanks.


CULPEPPER: Here then -- take a handful of hickory nuts. We'll go set on the porch. 


LARRY: (LAUGHS) I won't be able to get there if I do.


CULPEPPER: Come along.


SOUND: CHAIRS SCRAPE AS THEY RISE ... THEIR STEPS THROUGH FRONT DOOR AND ONTO PORCH (WHERE BIRDS TWITTER, ET CETERA), DURING FOLLOWING--


CULPEPPER: Well, what do you think of Lystra, son?


LARRY: I'm getting used to it, but it's different from anything I've ever known.


CULPEPPER: You like it?


LARRY: I'm entranced by it. May never get my senses back.


CULPEPPER: Maybe you will.


LARRY: Well, I saw that broadsword in the tree up at Morgan House.


CULPEPPER: Mm hm. Say, it's gonna rain.


LARRY: (BEAT) Mm hm. (SIMPLY) Well, let's just let it rain.


CULPEPPER: (CHUCKLES WARMLY) For a Northerner, you catch on pretty fast, son.


MUSIC: FIRST ACT CURTAIN


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MUSIC: DRUM ROLL ... CONTINUES BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: And now for the second act of "I Am Not a Stranger" as we return to ROMANCE.


MUSIC: SECOND ACT INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) The rain started gently and I left Mr. Culpepper and walked out into it without my hat. Across the square Leah Beth was under the live oak. I joined her and sat down. No word was spoken. The shower brushed the tree and sprayed us with a fine warm mist. I felt for her hand and we sat there until the late sun drove the rain away and the rainbow whipped across the sky.


SOUND: BIRDS TWEET AND CHIRP IN BG


LEAH BETH: Look, Larry. The rainbow.


LARRY: It's the hem of heaven's gown.


LEAH BETH: (AMUSED) You are a darlin'. (PUTS HER HEAD ON HIS SHOULDER) Here. Here, Larry.


LARRY: (BEAT) Leah Beth, I love you.


LEAH BETH: Larry, stay in Lystra awhile and if you still think you love me, then I'm yours.


LARRY: (LIGHTLY) You can never doubt that I love you. I'll even come after you on a white horse if you want it that way.


LEAH BETH: (MISCHIEVOUS) Wearing a yellow sash?


LARRY: (LAUGHS) No. I draw the line on that.


LEAH BETH: Well, I won't insist. Not just yet, anyway.


LARRY: It's curious. You always seem to hint that I'm going to fall even more under the spell of Lystra than I already have.


LEAH BETH: No. It isn't that, exactly. But -- be patient, Larry. Wait a little. You'll see.


MUSIC: WARM ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) I was a bit confused, but, even so, the weeks that followed were an idyl. At last, I could withstand it no more and I asked Leah Beth to marry me.


LEAH BETH: Of course I will, Larry. In fact, I was beginning to worry a little.


LARRY: (CHUCKLES) Oh, darling. Look, I'll get a job here. I won't ask you to go North with me.


LEAH BETH: I believe it's customary for the woman to go with the man. But -- what will your folks say if you come back with a provincial girl who sits barelegged in the rain?


LARRY: (CHUCKLES) Well, it wouldn't matter. Anyway, I have no family except my father. We seldom see each other. 


LEAH BETH: Did you quarrel with him?


LARRY: Oh, no, we get along fine. It's just that we live in different cities, I suppose. We're both busy.


LEAH BETH: Tell me about your work.


LARRY: Well, I wish I could do my thesis on Lystra, for one thing.


LEAH BETH: That'd be fun. Maybe I could help.


LARRY: I'd like to explore the legends of Lystra: no monument; none came back; the sword in the tree. It's exactly what I need.


LEAH BETH: Well, why don't you?


LARRY: Well, don't you see? I might hurt the people here. They might not like me any more.


LEAH BETH: (AMUSED) Why, you conceited darling. Lystra doesn't care what a Yankee Ph.D. says.


LARRY: Oh?


LEAH BETH: You and all the others -- you'll never learn that, will you? You'll never understand that Lystra and all her poor little Southern sisters don't prize your ideas as highly as you do.


LARRY: All right, then. I'll do it. I have my thesis. I'll write about the fables, and then explain the facts.


LEAH BETH: Have you got the facts, Larry?


LARRY: Oh, I can get them quickly enough. Even if I can't find the name of the worker who left the scythe in the tree, for example, I can furnish enough evidence to explode that myth.


LEAH BETH: Is that so? Well, now, I do declare.


LARRY: Well, certainly. Look, you can start helping me right now. Tell me, what was the name of your great-great-aunt? The maiden lady.


LEAH BETH: Leah Beth.


LARRY: Well, now, no cheating now. You must tell me the truth, darling.


LEAH BETH: (INSISTS) Her name was Leah Beth.


LARRY: Very well. And the man's name? Her lover? (BEAT) Now, you're smiling now. Now don't try to tell me his name was McCall.


LEAH BETH: His name wasn't McCall. It was Winton. 


LARRY: What?


LEAH BETH: His name was Laren Winton.


LARRY: (SURPRISED) Huh. Well, did he spell Laren with an "a" or an "o"? 


LEAH BETH: With an "a."


LARRY: It's usually spelled with an "o."


LEAH BETH: Perhaps.


LARRY: You know my name is spelled with an "a," don't you?


LEAH BETH: Yes.


LARRY: (CHUCKLES) No wonder everyone looked at me so strangely when I first came here. A rare coincidence!


LEAH BETH: We didn't look strangely at you. That's your imagination. We - understand coincidence.


LARRY: (UNHAPPY) Yes, but coincidence can play the devil with research.


LEAH BETH: Darling, don't look so serious.


LARRY: But I am serious. This thing's gone far enough, Leah Beth. I've either got to destroy this myth and be a - a mommick, or prove it's true. It's as simple as that.


LEAH BETH: The truth is always simple, Larry. You just won't believe it when it happens.


LARRY: But I've got to know -- even at the risk of destroying everything. (CHANGES TONE) Leah Beth, I'm going away for a few days. I have to, but I'll be back -- soon.


LEAH BETH: All right, Larry. I'll wait. I'll be here.


MUSIC: FOR A DEPARTURE ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) The next afternoon I walked into my father's office. He seemed a bit apprehensive at first, but when I told him what I'd been doing in the South, he was as cheerful as ever. 


DAD: Well, that's fine, Larry, that's just fine.


LARRY: Oh, I also wanted to tell you that I'm gonna marry a girl down there.


DAD: (LAUGHS) You came all the way to Albany to tell me that?


LARRY: No, not exactly.


DAD: (CHUCKLES) Well, what kind of girl is she?


LARRY: She sits barelegged in the rain.


DAD: Good for her. She should be up here. It's gonna rain any minute.


LARRY: (SIMPLY) Well, let it rain.


DAD: (BEAT, SURPRISED) What'd you say?


LARRY: I said just let it rain.


DAD: (NOSTALGIC) Well, that's funny. I haven't heard that expression in a long time. Your mother used to say it.


LARRY: She did? (BEAT) Hey, look, Dad, some of the people down there go in pretty heavy for family stuff. You know. Now, er, I was named for mother's father, wasn't I?


DAD: That's right. Laren Winton. Lawyer in Watertown. Born, bred and died there. And a mighty fine citizen, son, in case those North Carolinians get any ideas.


LARRY: Next question: Where did he get his name?


DAD: Why, er, your great-grandfather was also Laren Winton. We never knew much about him, though. He was sort of a legend in the family.


LARRY: (BEAT, UNEASY) In what way?


DAD: I don't know, but he was a strange man and kept to himself. He came to Watertown during the Civil War and some said he was a Confederate deserter.


LARRY: (DEFLATED) I see. (BEAT) What else do you know about him?


DAD: That's all. (MERRILY) But I used to tease your mother and say he was a horse thief. They say he was poor as Job's turkey when he arrived, but he had a fine white horse. (BEAT, CONCERNED) What's the matter, son? You, uh, feel all right?


LARRY: (UNCONVINCING) Yeah. Yeah, I'm all right, Dad. It's just that I'm tired from the trip, I suppose. I'll be going now.


DAD: Well, I'm glad you came up. It's been a long time.


LARRY: I'll write soon, Dad.


DAD: Good. I, er-- I'd like to see your girl sometime.


LARRY: (WARMLY) You shall. I promise. Bye.


DAD: (THE SAME) Goodbye, son.


MUSIC: WARM ... THEN BEHIND LARRY--


LARRY: (NARRATES) I hurried back to my beloved Leah Beth. I wanted to pull the sword out of the tree; tell her that her family's honor was redeemed. Such sentiment is a lover's privilege.


SOUND: NOCTURNAL BACKGROUND


LEAH BETH: How is your father, Larry?


LARRY: Oh, he's fi-- How did you know I'd seen him?


LEAH BETH: (CHUCKLES) Where else would you have gone for your "facts," as you call it?


LARRY: Hmm. Well, you're right, of course. And you know that Laren Winton has come back -- for Leah Beth.


LEAH BETH: (LOVINGLY) Oh, yes, my darling. I've known for a long time.


LARRY: Hm. I've been a bit slow, I suppose. But I know something else now, too.


LEAH BETH: Yes?


LARRY: We must never tell anyone. You see, the whole fabric of the myth would fall apart then. Lystra could no longer be the place where none came back. It would be just like any other Southern town. They might even cut down our live oak in the square to erect a Confederate monument.


LEAH BETH: (PLEASED) Oh, Larry--! Larry, now you do know. Now you understand everything.


LARRY: (SOFTLY) Mm hm. Let the scythe be a sword, I say. (SIMPLY) When it rains, let it rain. 


LEAH BETH: (WARMLY) You're no mommick.


MUSIC: CURTAIN


WOMAN: Pop! Another stocking run. Do you often get runs in your stockings? Then think about the way you're washing them. Don't let gritty granules wear out your stockings in the wash.


ANNOUNCER: Just rub your fingers over a granulated detergent. Feel how gritty those granules are. You'll see how undissolved gritty granules can ruin sheer stockings. But gentle Lux Flakes is safe. So soft, so smooth, so sheer. Lux Flakes contains no gritty granules and each gentle washing in pure Lux Flakes has a special action that keeps nylon threads strong as new, washing after washing. Yes, safe Lux Flakes care gives you double stocking wear. It's like getting an extra pair with every pair you buy. In fact, over ninety percent of stocking manufacturers advise safe Lux Flakes. Get Lux Flakes today. Remember, safe Lux Flakes is guaranteed by Lever Brothers Company.


MUSIC: THEME ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


ANNOUNCER: ROMANCE is produced and directed by Norman Macdonnell and brings you the greatest love stories of today and yesterday. Tonight you have heard "I Am Not a Stranger" by James Street, specially adapted for ROMANCE by John Meston, starring Harry Bartell, with Georgia Ellis. Featured in the cast were Parley Baer, Irene Tedrow, and Ted von Eltz. Musical supervision is by Earl Towner. 


THE LUX RADIO THEATRE will return to the air September eighth, the Monday after Labor Day. Meanwhile, we will continue in just a moment with BROADWAY IS MY BEAT and the story of a man who bets against violence and loses. But first, a brief pause for station identification. This is the CBS Radio network.


MUSIC: FOR STATION BREAK


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