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Lazy in the Sun

ABC Radio

Lazy in the Sun

Oct 20 1951





Characters


ANNOUNCER                 (voice off-stage)

ARTHUR MORTON             (middle-aged)

ALICE MORTON, his wife    (mature)

CONSTANCE  their daughter (twenties)

BILL  their son           (twenties)

HAL BRODERICK             (friend of Bill, twenties)

GREG, his brother         (thirty)

VALERIE HICKMAN           (twenties)

GRACE GALSTON             (middle aged, friend of Alice)

ANNA                      (teens, daughter of Grace and friend of Constance)


Setting = Sydney in the fifties.


A Radio Play by Malcolm 'Max' Afford

ABC Radio, Sydney, NSW


* * *


ANNOUNCER: It was a rather nice thought on the part of Mrs. Alice Morton to ask her sister Grace down from the country to see the firework display on the eve of the Australia Day jubilee celebrations. But then the Mortons were nice people. Everyone said so--everyone, that is, except the envious few who resented the Mortons' comfortable place in the world--their three motor cars, their lovely home at Darling Point, Arthur Morton's solid but somewhat mysterious income from the city, Alice's place on her numerous committees, and daughter Constance's picture appearing so frequently in the social pages...On this jubilee night, three people sat in the lounge overlooking the garden which ran down to the harbour. A few minutes had elapsed since the last burst of fireworks. Arthur Morton, a well-dressed, florid man of sixty, moved in his chair, glanced across to his wife and sister-in-law, and remarked...


MORTON: Well...that seems all for the time!


ALICE: Yes dear. Pretty, wasn't it?


MORTON (grunting): Lot of tax-payers' money going up there!


ALICE: But, Arthur dear, it's a celebration!


MORTON: Yes. Have you seen the paper?


ALICE: It's there on the coffee table.


Paper rustle.


MORTON: The part I want isn't here.


ALICE: If it's the racing section, you took it up to your study just after dinner.


MORTON: Oh. (He starts to fade.) Excuse me, Grace.


ALICE (a protest): Arthur!


MORTON (fading off): Call me when the show starts again!


ALICE (calling): Arthur...really...


GRACE: Let him alone, Alice.


ALICE: Really Grace, it's too bad of Arthur. I scarcely see anything of him these days. He doesn't get home from town until after eight. By the time dinner is finished, it's nine. Then he just buries himself in his study until bed time.


GRACE: My Leo is just the same. I doubt if he's even missed me from home.


ALICE: But there's some excuse for the man on the land.


GRACE: Nonsense! Leo doesn't have to slave the way he does! Not with wool the price it is, anyway! I told him only last week that he could hire another dozen men.


ALICE: My dear, don't talk to me about trying to get labour! People just don't seem to want to work these days! Arthur says it's because there's far too much money around, bricklayers and hod carriers and people like that driving around in expensive cars! No wonder everyone's clamouring for migrant help!


GRACE: How is that girl of yours?


ALICE: Anna? Oh, she's a gem.


BILL (fading in): Did I leave my cigarettes in here, mum?


ALICE: I don't know, Bill.


BILL: Oh, here they are. Where's dad?


ALICE: He went to his study.


BILL: Good. (Fading slightly.) I'm going to lift a bottle of scotch from the cabinet.


ALICE (a protest): Bill dear, I don't think--


BILL: Don't worry, I'll put it back later. But Togo Martin's having the crowd over at his place at Elizabeth Bay. He just rang to say they've drunk him out of scotch.


ALICE: I suppose this means you'll be rushing out again?


BILL: Just as soon as I've filled my cigarette case.


GRACE: Alice...


ALICE: Yes, dear?


GRACE: Is that Doris Martin's boy?


ALICE: Yes.


GRACE: I haven't seen her for months.


ALICE: Neither have I...oh, we're still quite good friends, but she's such a queer person, so very touchy, you know. But she's never quite forgiven me about her garden party.


GRACE: Oh yes...you wrote to me about it. Didn't you slip her up or something?


ALICE: I did not! It happened months ago, Grace, when I was on that committee of the Women's Overseas Aid. Lady Pinkerton was in the chair and at this particular meeting she said we weren't doing nearly enough about the food parcels for Britain. And, Grace, I felt so humiliated.


GRACE (amused): Why?


ALICE: Well, I hadn't done a thing about it! Oh, I'd meant to! Time and time again I'd said to Arthur that we must send a weekly parcel! But somehow...well, you know how it is...anyhow, just as soon as the meeting was over, I had Reynolds drive me straight to the bank and I sent a parcel from there.


GRACE: Only one?


BILL (grinning): The first and the last!


ALICE: My dear...the trouble it was! First I had to fill in some wretched form and halfway through I remembered I'd promised to open Doris Martin's garden party at three o'clock. And it was ten minutes past the time then! Next I had quite an argument with the clerk...I hadn't filled in the receiver's name! So I just said..."Oh, send it to anyone--I don't care!" Then Reynolds was held up in a traffic jam in William Street and I arrived at the wretched garden party half an hour late! And to this day, I'm certain Doris thinks I did it on purpose!


GRACE: Should I ring her while I'm down? Perhaps we could have dinner together.


ALICE: Not this week, Grace. I've a perfectly frantic time ahead! Tomorrow afternoon it's bridge! Then dinner with the Simpsons. Wednesday's races! Of course that means dinner at Tatts. Thursday there's a fashion parade at Princes...you know, that refugee woman with those divinely silly hats...and Friday there's a committee meeting with a card party later on and a sherry thing at five.


GRACE: My dear, how do you get caught up in such much?


ALICE: Oh, I don't mind! I think it's so much better to have a full, rich life, don't you?


ANNA (off): Excuse me, madame...


ALICE: What is it, Anna?


ANNA: A young lady at the door wishes to speak with you, please.


ALICE: A young lady?


BILL: Anyone we know, Anna?


ANNA: She says her name is...Miss Hickman.


ALICE: Hickman...Hickman...do we know any Hickmans, Grace?


GRACE: Wasn't there a Lady Hickman we met at the yearling sales last month? From South Africa, I think. I seem to remember she had a daughter with her...a rather attractive girl.


BILL (grinning): Anna...ask the young lady in at once!


ALICE: Bill dear, you'll be late for your party.


BILL: Don't hurry me, mum. I'm quite all right here.


ANNA (off): Miss Hickman.


VALERIE (fading in): Mrs. Morton?


ALICE (slightly cold): Yes...


VALERIE: It is...Mrs. Arthur Morton?


ALICE: That's right.


VALERIE (smiling): You see, I had to be sure. I didn't want to be...thanking the wrong person. I'm Valerie Hickman...from London.


ALICE (at a complete loss): How do you do?


VALERIE: About six months ago, you were kind enough to send me a parcel of food.


ALICE (realizing): Oh...?


VALERIE: I realize that when you send out so many it must be very hard to keep a track of them. But that particular one meant a lot to me and I've come to thank you for it.


ALICE: Oh, that's quite all right.


BILL: Won't you sit down, Miss Hickman?


ALICE: Er...yes, of course. I should like to introduce my sister, Mrs. Galston, and my son William.


BILL: Bill for short. Tell me, how did you come to look us up?


VALERIE: The name and address of the sender was on the parcel. I've been thinking of migrating out here for some time, and your gift rather made up my mind. That's why...instead of writing, I decided I'd thank you in person.


(There is a short awkard pause.)


GRACE (filling it): Where did you live in London?


VALERIE: Ave Maria Lane...near St. Paul's. Then I had a little place in Paris, close to St. Sulpice. Do you know Paris?


ALICE: Er...not very well.


VALERIE: Oh, I thought you might have gone there from London...so many Australians do.


BILL: We've never even been to England.


ALICE (quickly...almost defensively): Oh, we've talked about going...quite a lot. But it's just that I can't get my husband to budge! He says that Australia is good enough for him...and really, when you look around at the rest of the world, perhaps he's right.


VALERIE: Yes, indeed.


GRACE: You know, Alice, I was saying to Leo after the last wool cheque came in (To VALERIE) we're on the land, you see...that we really should take a trip abroad. But what with the food shortage, though, mind you, that wouldn't affect us--we'd take plenty of food...and the climate...Leo said he'd never yet seen a film about England when it wasn't raining!


VALERIE (smiling): Oh, we do have some fine days.


GRACE: And then there's all the upheaval of getting away! It's not like just flying down to Melbourne for the Cup, I mean there's passports and luggage, and then there's all the fuss about getting a ship back again. No, Leo wouldn't hear of it...although I pointed out that it would be nice to say that we'd been..


VALERIE: It's a very long way...you don't realize it until you get on the ship.


BILL: Which way did you come?


VALERIE: Around the Cape. Across the Indian Ocean there were three interminable weeks of nothing but water. We didn't even sight a ship.


BILL: We? Your family came with you?


VALERIE: No, I came alone. (She pauses.) I haven't any family. Dad died when I was quite young. My mother and elder sister were killed, in November 1940.


ALICE: Oh dear! An accident?


VALERIE (clearly): That was the night the Nazis tried to bomb St. Paul's.


ALICE: Oh! (She adds.) I remember that. We saw it on the news at the pictures.


(There is another awkard pause.)


VALERIE (smiling): Well...I must be going. It has been nice meeting you.


BILL: Where are you staying?


VALERIE: I have a room in King's Cross.


BILL: I'll drop you off in the car.


VALERIE: Oh, no.


BILL: No trouble! I'm going through the Cross to Elizabeth Bay.


ALICE (genially): Thank you for calling, Miss Hickman.


VALERIE: I have to thank you. (Fading.) Goodnight.


ALICE: Goodnight. (Calling.) Will you be late, Bill?


BILL (well off): Naturally!


ALICE (after slight pause): Well...of all the extraordinary things! Grace, it's like something you might read about! Fancy her calling on us...do you think we should have asked her to stay to supper?


GRACE: I shouldn't think so, Alice. After all, we don't know her.


ALICE: That's true. Besides...


GRACE: Besides what?


ALICE: I...I'm not too sure that I liked her. Oh, nothing that you could put your finger on...but somehow...I don't know...she made me feel uncomfortable. Know what I mean?


GRACE: Yes. Alice, I was just thinking...1940...wasn't that the year Old Roley won the Cup?


ALICE: Arthur would know.


GRACE: I'm certain it was. And we all drove down in the old Chev...


(Distantly there comes the sound of a sudden whoosh.)


ALICE: Oh look! They're starting again! Oh, isn't that beautiful? (She calls.) Arthur! Arthur, you're missing it all!


(Another whoosh.)


ALICE: Arthur, do hurry!


ARTHUR (fading in): I might as well have waited down here!


ALICE: Why, dear?


ARTHUR: There's nothing on the radio but chaps describing all this hoo-hah outside there! I've been all round the dial trying to get the acceptances. (Snorting.) And the radio is supposed to cater for public entertainment.


(Swell theme. Fade...Background sound of running car.)


BILL: Miss Hickman...


VALERIE: Yes?


BILL: Did you get here today?


VALERIE: You mean...oh no! I've been here for almost a month. I should have gone out to see your mother before!


BILL (quickly): Oh, it wasn't that. But I thought...if you'd landed today...what with all the celebrations and fireworks and what-not, you might think that parties like this go on all the time out here.


VALERIE: They don't?


BILL: My word, no! This is a special occasion...it marks the jubilee of our federation.


VALERIE (smiling): You must put this down to sheer ignorance...but just what is this federation of yours?


BILL: Federation? (Vaguely.) Oh, it's some...some kind of political business between the states. I've forgotten the details. Anyway, it's an excuse for a lot of fun and games. Tell me, do you like parties?


VALERIE: Oh yes!


BILL: Why not join us...tonight?


VALERIE: I couldn't do that.


BILL: Why not? Were you doing anything else?


VALERIE: No.


BILL: Look here...I've heard about those single rooms in the Cross! To be in one is bad enough! But to be in one, and on your own, must be the very bottom. Particularly on a night like this, when everyone else is hitting the high spots.


VALERIE (smiling): It's very kind of you, but I'm used to being on my own. And there's another thing, Mr. Morton...


BILL: The name's Bill.


VALERIE: ...even if I came to your party, I wouldn't know anyone there.


BILL: Leave that to me! My sister Connie's there with her fiance, Harold Broderick. And Togo's crowd are a friendly lot; you'll feel at home right from the jump! Besides, you'll be able to talk about England with old Hal...Hal Broderick, I mean.


VALERIE: He knows England?


BILL: Hal? He knows everything! Came back from a world trip about three months ago--England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and then through America. No trouble to Hal! When I said to him "How did you wangle the dollars?" he just grinned! It was money, of course!


VALERIE (quietly): He sounds a very lucky young man.


BILL: Lucky...and smart! Just bought a cracker new property at Palm Beach for his brother Greg. Greg's older than Hal, but he doesn't get about very much. Got himself shot up during the war, poor chap. Stays down at Palm Beach mostly.


VALERIE: How does this Mr. Broderick...the younger one, I mean...make his money?


BILL: Now...that's something one just doesn't ask! (Quickly.) Mind you, don't get the idea that Hal's crooked, or anything like that! But...when people want houses or flats or a new car in a hurry, and when they've got the cash to pay for it, well, that's where Hal comes in. A sort of...well...commission agent.


(Fade in to subdued party background. There is a murmur of voices against radio music and occasional shouts of laughter. Closer at hand cars are tooting horns and accelerating.)


BILL: Well, here we are!


VALERIE (dubiously): Are you quite sure they won't mind a perfect stranger invading?


BILL (interrupting): But you're not invading! You're my guest!


(Car slows down. Party background closer. Car stops.) 


BILL: Now, out you get! 


(Car door slams.)


VALERIE (a last protest): Mr. Morton...


BILL (firmly): Bill!


VALERIE: Look here, I'm not at all sure that...


BILL (interrupting patiently): Valerie...you see that wide balcony above the lawn? That's Togo's flat. The parade of the boats begins in half an hour's time. Now, if you don't like the party, you can watch the procession from there! Now...what could be fairer than that?


VALERIE (smiling): Nothing, I suppose.


BILL: All right! Now, come on!


(Swell theme. Fade down to: Party background. Music. Murmur of voices. Laughter. Click of a door shutting. Fade down party background.)


VALERIE (softly): I'm glad I remembered the balcony.


GREG (slightly off): I beg your pardon?


VALERIE (surprised): Oh! I'm sorry...I didn't notice you sitting in that corner.


GREG (smiling): Well, I'm sorry that you had to be sorry. I don't think we've met, have we?


VALERIE: I'm Valerie Hickman.


GREG: How do you do? I'm Greg Broderick.


VALERIE: Harold Broderick's brother?


GREG: Yes.


VALERIE: Oh, but I thought...(She stops suddenly.) It's rather lovely out here, isn't it?


GREG: My word! I say, you're English, aren't you?


VALERIE (smiling): Is that so obvious?


GREG: Only in your voice. Have you been out here long?


VALERIE (after the slightest hesitation): A...a few weeks...


GREG (smiling): Oh, then you're a very new Australian. Tell me, have they levelled out all the air raid trenches in Green Park yet?


VALERIE: Yes, but it's still a little...bumpy. (Slight pause.) You know London?


GREG: I was there during the war. February to May, 1944.


VALERIE: Did you like it?


GREG: Not at first. It seemed such a sad landscape. But then, almost overnight it seemed, the skies dissolved into the palest blue, and the trees took on the faintest greenish sheen...so vague and indeterminate you wondered if it was only in your mind. (He adds...smiling.) And suddenly, there were crocuses opening in Hyde Park.


VALERIE (softly): Yes.


GREG: I remember the window boxes in Mayfair...scarlet and gold, tulips and daffodils, like flames against the bomb-shattered buildings in Park Lane. But no one gave those rains a single thought. It was another spring...a new miracle. (Pause. He adds lightly.) You'll find it different out here.


VALERIE: In what way?


GREG: Well, our spring gets along in a typically Australian manner...casually...lazily...slipping in because...well, it's time to arrive, anyway. The trees are still as green as they were in winter, but the days are warmer, longer, there's more time for swimming and sunbaking.


VALERIE: And racing and tennis...and yachting and cricket...


GREG (smiling): Cricket, particularly! But perhaps that's not being tactful.


VALERIE: Why not?


GREG: Well, after the last Test...it just fell right into our laps, you know.


VALERIE: Just as easily as that, eh?


GREG (quickly): I say...I didn't mean to sound smug...


VALERIE: You didn't.


GREG: Then why did you say that?


VALERIE (gently): Perhaps...envy. Out here so many other things fall into your laps...without opposition or struggle. So many things other people only dream about...here you're born into them...and grow up accepting them as part of your heritage. (She stops.) Really, I've no right to talk like this...


GREG: No. Go on...


VALERIE: I'd rather not...


GREG (quietly): What you're saying actually boils down to the old proverb...


VALERIE: What's that?


GREG: "Easy come...easy go." (Pause) That's what you meant by...envy, wasn't it?


(On his last word there comes another whoooz of a rocket.)


VALERIE: Look! More fireworks!


GREG: You can't change the subject like that.


VALERIE: We can talk about it some other time.


GREG: When?


VALERIE: I don't know.


GREG: Look here. Some of the crowd are coming down to my place at Palm Beach for the weekend.


VALERIE: Yes, Mr. Morton's already asked me.


GREG: Splendid!


VALERIE: But I've refused.


GREG: I say--you can't do that! If you come down I'll show you some of my weaving. I'm pretty good at it. Won some prizes.


VALERIE (surprised): At weaving?


GREG: Is that so strange?


VALERIE: No...except that...


GREG: Well?


VALERIE: All this talk of outdoor sports...and swimming...and sunshine...somehow I didn't think...


GREG (as she pauses, smiling): ...that I was the type, eh? Well, that just goes to show that you can never tell with the Aussies! But Hal bought me a loom about six months ago...and honestly...I am quite good at it! So...will you come?


VALERIE (smiling): I'll see. (She stops.) Hello...


GREG: What is it?


VALERIE: The parade of the boats. It's just starting! Shall I call the others?


GREG: They'll know soon enough.


VALERIE: Here comes the first one...like a huge white swan. It's just rounding the bend...see it?


GREG: No.


VALERIE (laughing): Well...there must be something very wrong with your eyes.


GREG (simply): Yes. (A slight pause.) I'm blind.


VALERIE (a tiny shocked gasp): Oh...


GREG (cheerfully): Now please don't apologize...I don't know why it is that people get such a shock about blindness. Believe me, there are plenty of worse things.


VALERIE (quietly): When...did it happen?


GREG: Bomber raid over Breman...just after my London leave. I was with the R.A.A.F. We caught fire...some of the other chaps...(He pauses.) Oh yes, there are worse things than blindness.


VALERIE: I can imagine...nothing worse.


GREG: Don't you believe it! Take tonight for instance. When Hal suggested driving me up, I was as keen as anyone! And ourselves...out here...until you knew, there was nothing to suggest that it wasn't a most interesting conversation between two...ordinary people. (Cheerfully.) Was there now?


VALERIE: No.


GREG: So let's keep it that way! Now, suppose you tell me--


(Door opens, releasing a wave of party sound.)


BILL (fading in): So there you are! I've been looking everywhere for you. Oh...so you've met Greg?


VALERIE: Yes.


GREG: You'd better tell the others that the parade's started.


BILL: Crikey, yes! I'll give them a yell.


VALERIE (interrupting quietly): Oh, Mr. Morton...


BILL (firmly patient): Bill!


VALERIE (smiling): All right, Bill. Remember your invitation for the weekend?


BILL: Too right I do!


VALERIE: Well...if I may...I'd like to...change my mind and accept it.


(Swell theme. Fade...)


ANNA (fading in): Mister...Morton...


MORTON (brusque): Yes, Anna?


ANNA: Reynolds says to say that the car is ready.


MORTON: Good! I'll be along in a few minutes. Is my briefcase in the hall?


ANNA (fading): Yes, sir.


(A deep-toned clock strikes quarter hour.)


ALICE (fading in): Oh, there you are, Arthur...


MORTON: Alice...is that clock right?


ALICE: Quarter-past ten? I think so, dear. Arthur, could I talk to you for a few minutes?


MORTON: Not now, Alice.


ALICE: But Arthur...


MORTON: There are four big meetings tomorrow...two in Sydney, one in Melbourne, and one in Adelaide! This Friday is going to be one of my busiest days! You'll have all the weekend to talk to me...


ALICE: With four meetings? I won't even see you tomorrow!


MORTON: Well, Sunday then! The kids will be away for the weekend and we'll have some peace.


ALICE: But this is important...


MORTON: So's my work! (Fading.) Goodbye, dear...


ALICE: Arthur...wait! (Door slams off.) Oh dear!


CONSTANCE (fading in): Mum dear...


ALICE: Yes, Connie?


CONSTANCE: Have you seen the Globe?


ALICE: Your father took it.


CONSTANCE: Blast! Mum, why don't we get three or four papers?


ALICE: There's the Newsprint.


CONSTANCE: I don't want the Newsprint! I want the Globe! They had a photographer at the Crocodile Club last night, he took some pictures of Hal and me.


ALICE: I didn't notice them.


CONSTANCE: You saw the paper?


ALICE: Just the social stuff. Mind you, I only glanced through very hurriedly.


CONSTANCE (grimly): They'd better be in! Hal could just about have bought the paper with the drinks he gave that photographer! Hal's not going to like it if they've missed out!


ALICE: Connie dear! Was Bill with you last night?


CONSTANCE: For a while.


ALICE: Alone?


CONSTANCE: Do you ever see my young brother alone these days...or nights? Of course not! That Hickman girl was with him. But they left early...about half-past one, I think it was. Mum, where's Anna?


ALICE: In the kitchen.


CONSTANCE: I want her to go out and get me a Globe.


ALICE (absently): Yes dear.


CONSTANCE: Because you might as well know the worst! Bill got into a fight at the Crocodile last night! If they haven't printed my picture, that's probably the reason...


ALICE: A fight? But how?


CONSTANCE: It was all very stupid, really. Bill and that girl were at a table with Togo and Peter Hannaford and Larry King...Larry was drunk, as usual. That Hickman girl was wearing one of those bare-shouldered, strapless cocktail frocks. You know, with the little bolero jacket. I had one a few seasons ago.


ALICE: But what about this fight?


CONSTANCE: Well...Larry kept pestering Miss Hickman to take off the jacket...he kept drooling about it being so hot in the club and wanting to see her shoulders. You know what a fool Larry can be! And she refused...anyhow, Larry crept up behind her and tried to slip it off.


ALICE: But surely that wouldn't start a fight?


CONSTANCE: Didn't it just? Miss Hickman wrenched away, clasping the jacket around her shoulders...and she was as white as death, mum...I've never seen anything like it! Then Bill jumped and hit Larry and Larry hit him back and waiters came running from everywhere...and old Pietro came along clucking like a hen...


ALICE (dismay): Oh Connie...


CONSTANCE: Anyway, Hal, bless his heart, smoothed them all down and everything would have been all right...except that this girl insisted on Bill taking her home. But Evan Beaufort saw it all...and you know that he's a spy for that social woman on the Globe and...


HAL (fading in): Hello...hello...hello...!


CONSTANCE: Hal!


HAL (grinning): Never expected to see the boy friend so bright and early, eh? Hello Alice. Where's the old man?


ALICE: You've missed him, Hal.


HAL: Never mind. I'll phone him up. Got a straight tip on Fast Flyer for the three-fifteen at Flemington! Well, Connie old girl, we didn't make the papers, but your brother did.


CONSTANCE: That business last night?


HAL: You bet! I've brought it along. 


(Rustle of paper.)


HAL: Just listen to this! (He reads with obvious enjoyment.) A boisterous young colt connected with a family well known for their deep interest in the gee-gees kicked over the traces last night at the Crocodile Club. The dispute arose over...the unharnessing of a pretty little filly by a young trainer who had been celebrating not wisely but too well and--


BILL (fading in): All right, Hal! Give it away!


ALICE: Bill! Oh, Bill, this is too bad!


BILL: I can't see what all the fuss is about! I've read that tripe myself. No names are mentioned...


ALICE: But everyone will know! I mean...everyone at all interested in racing...


BILL: That doesn't include the whole world, you know! So just let's forget it.


ALICE (indignantly): We'll do no such thing! Even before this happened, I was going to talk to your father...


BILL: What about?


ALICE: You and this girl!


BILL: Now, just a minute, mum! I'm old enough to look after these things for myself.


CONSTANCE: You're twenty-four! And she's at least thirty! Perhaps even more...


BILL (flashing out): So what? You're darn near thirty yourself!


CONSTANCE (hotly): I'm twenty-seven next birthday and you know it! And I think it's downright rotten of you to talk like this in front of Hal!


HAL (grinning): Don't mind me, old girl. It'll be on the marriage lines, anyway. But talking about this other dame...


BILL (shortly): She isn't a dame!


CONSTANCE (still rankling): That's just what we all want to know. Who is she?


BILL (patiently): She's a very nice girl just out from England.


CONSTANCE: She told you that?


ALICE: Yes, dear.


CONSTANCE: Then she's a liar!


BILL (hotly): Now look here Connie...


CONSTANCE (interrupting): You tell them, Hal! Perhaps he'll believe you!


HAL (smugly): She's been pulling your leg, old boy! She's been living in the Cross about six months.


BILL: How do you know?


HAL: Funny how things come out, y'know. A few weeks ago, I decided on a bit of investment at the Cross. One of the prospects was a residential in Darlinghurst Road. The joker who's running it gave me the books to look over. Among the tenants there's a Valerie Hickman from England. (Grinning.) I dunno what she told you, old son...but she's had that same room for the past six months.


BILL (incredulous): You've made a mistake...


CONSTANCE: You're the one that's made the mistake! Tearing around the place with some strange woman you picked...up.


BILL: I didn't "pick her up"! She came here...to this house...


ALICE: Why? That's what worries me. Oh, I know the excuse of the food parcel, but surely that's all plain nonsense.


CONSTANCE: Of course it is! She came here with one purpose in mind...to get in with our set! She'd read all about us in the newspapers...she knew we had money and position!


HAL (facetiously): Bill...


BILL: Well?


HAL: Hope you've been watching your step, old boy! Dames like that make a packet out of blackmail!


BILL (boiling): You shut your mouth!


CONSTANCE: Bill!


BILL: He needn't go round judging everyone by himself!


CONSTANCE (trembling with anger): Now you've gone just a little too far! Mum, I'm not going to sit here and listen to him insult Hal!


HAL: Take it easy, Connie. I'm used to hard words.


CONSTANCE: At least you work for a living! He does not a darn thing but fritter away dad's money! Cars and drinking and night-clubs...


BILL (sneering): Look who's talking now!


ALICE: Children...children...


HAL: I think I'd better break this up by taking myself off. I've got to look at a couple of cars in town this morning.


CONSTANCE: I'll come with you, Hal. I've got a hair appointment for three o'clock.


ALICE: But Connie...what will you do between times?


CONSTANCE (bitingly): Well away from home sweet home! (Fading.) Come along, Hal.


HAL (cheerfully, fading): See you two later. (Door closes off.)


ALICE: Oh, Bill...


BILL: Now, don't start all over again, Mum.


ALICE: But to talk to Hal like that! And in front of Connie, too! You know how she hates any reference to Hal's business.


BILL: But that doesn't stop her marrying into it, does it? She won't face the ugly fact that Hal's a snide black marketeer...yet she can't wait to take his name and share in the spoils.


ALICE: What an extraordinary way of putting it! When I married your father, I didn't actually approve of him being a bookmaker, but then if every young woman questioned the source of her future husband's income, wherever would we be? Why...our...our world might just stop dead!


BILL: And you're just as bad as Connie, because you encourage it.


ALICE (gently): Bill dear...you're so very young. When you're older, you'll understand better. Now about this girl...


BILL: I said I didn't want to talk about her.


ALICE: But we must talk about her! Don't you see there's something very peculiar going on? Her odd behaviour at the club last night...and now all these lies...


BILL (doggedly): I'll ask her about those myself!


ALICE: You're seeing her again?


BILL (clearly): We're driving down to Greg Broderick's place at Palm Beach for the weekend! Hal and Connie are coming, too...at least, they were coming!


ALICE (for her, very quietly): Bill...


BILL: Yes?


ALICE: You're not being very...foolish with this girl?


BILL: Foolish?


ALICE: You know perfectly well what I mean.


BILL: No, mum. I'm not being...foolish, as you call it. I happen to be in love with Valerie.


ALICE (a protest): Bill! Don't talk such nonsense.


BILL: And quite possibly, if the opportunity comes up over this weekend, I'm going to ask her to...marry me.


(Swell theme. Fade down...A nearby radio blares out hot jive music.)


VALERIE: Do you mean to say that you actually wove these lovely things yourself?


GREG (smiling): All my own work! Just like the pavement artists outside St. Martin's-in-the-Fields!


VALERIE: But these scarves...and this rug! I've never seen more perfect weaving!


GREG: Give most of the credit to the old loom. It's here in the corner. I say, is that radio worrying you?


VALERIE: A little.


GREG: I'll turn it off.


VALERIE: No. Let me--


GREG (smiling): Don't worry. I know every inch of this house. And it's only out there in the living room. (He fades off.) Excuse me a moment.


(Pause. There is a click and the radio is shut off.)


GREG (fades back talking as he comes.) Like atomic energy, you know.


VALERIE: The radio?


GREG (grinning): A wonderful power being misused. Or perhaps they'll have more sense with atomic energy. Now, come over and see the loom.


VALERIE: What's this you're making?


GREG: Another rug. There's a handicrafts school quite near here. A clever young lady comes up and does the colour matching for the wool.


VALERIE: The shades are so delicate.


GREG: Yes...so everyone tells me. Pastel colours, aren't they? (Pause.) Aren't they? (Pause.) Val...what's the matter?


VALERIE (quietly): All this lovely work...so beautifully done...and you've never seen it...


HAL (slightly off): I say, I say! Who turned off the music-box?


GREG: We did, Hal. It was worrying us.


HAL (gently chiding): Break it down, old man! I want to get the results of the three-thirty! If a certain gee-gee romps home, I stand to win a packet!


GREG (in an elder brother, indulgent tone): All right. But for Pete's sake, keep that door closed.


HAL: Okay!


(Door closes. The music starts again...muted this time. It continues for a minute then, likewise muted, fade in raucous running racing commentary.)


VALERIE: I thought your brother had gone swimming with Constance and Bill.


GREG: Not while he's got money on a horse! (Pause.) What are you thinking?


VALERIE: How strange that two brothers can be so different!


GREG: In a way, I'm to blame. I'm seven years older than Hal. Our parents died when we were kids...we went to live with an aunt. I sort of brought Hal up...we had some very good times together.


VALERIE: And he's still very fond of you.


GREG: When I came back from the war...when Hal saw what had happened to me, it changed him completely. He's never quite got over the shock of it.


VALERIE: And now...he's taking it out on the rest of the world?


GREG: Something like that.


(Pause. The muted race commentary continues.)


GREG: Don't blame him too much. He's grown up in an era of easy money and weakest to the wall. My brother's determined the wall's the place for other people...not for him! Yet he's been very good to me. This house and everything in it, I owe to Hal...although I realize, to get it, he may have cheated his closest friends.


VALERIE: And he has no pity for them?


GREG: He doesn't know the meaning of the word.


VALERIE: Yet...toward you...his brother...


GREG: Hal has sympathy, because that's something every decent person is born with. But pity--real pity--can only spring from deep personal suffering. But in time, Hal will learn that, too.


(The race commentary is shut off suddenly. The door opens.)


HAL (fading in): It's paid off! Boy--how it's paid off!


GREG (drily): I gather Fast Flyer lived up to his name.


HAL: What a horse! My lucky day, I reckon. Well now, I think I'll toddle down and join Connie and Bill for a dip. Sure you won't change your mind, Val?


VALERIE: Quite sure.


HAL (fading): Ta-ta. See you in time for drinks...(Door closes.)


GREG: What did he mean about changing your mind?


VALERIE: Bill had asked me earlier. I told him I wasn't very keen on swimming.


GREG (smiling): I wondered what had upset that young man!


VALERIE (gently): Bill's very used to getting his own way. And this was his second refusal.


GREG: What was his first?


VALERIE: Coming down here in the car, he asked me to marry him.


GREG (almost incredulously): No...!


VALERIE: Don't laugh, Greg. He was very serious about it. As serious as only a boy of twenty-four, in love for the first time, can be.


GREG (warmly): But of all the cheek! Only a silly young goat without a brain in his head would entertain the idea in the first place! How did he take the refusal?


VALERIE: Not very well, I'm afraid. I'm sorry, because I like him. I like his kindness...his easy friendly acceptance of people. There's not a shred of suspicion or distrust in Bill.


GREG: Sometimes, you know, that can be a bad thing.


VALERIE: It makes one too vulnerable?


GREG: Yes. And the truth can be rather a shock. And brother Hal's an example of what shocks can do to people.


(A telephone rings abruptly.)


GREG: Oh, excuse me. (He fades off slightly. The telephone stops.) Hello...oh, hello Molly. What--right now? (Pause.) It's a bit difficult, what about the morning? Splendid! All right, that's a date! About eleven...yes, I'll be there. Goodbye, Molly. (Hangs up and fades back.) Some friends wanted me to go over for a drink.


VALERIE: And I'm keeping you here.


GREG: Oh, no! I wouldn't have gone in any case. Not this afternoon--it's far too hot. And they live up the side of a hill with dozens of steps to climb. Now you know one of my faults...I'm bone lazy!


VALERIE (laughing): You look fit enough!


GREG: Comes from that lazy Australian habit of sunbaking.


VALERIE: A delightful habit. I've acquired it myself.


GREG: Might do a bit of it right now. Have you a costume?


VALERIE: Bill suggested I bring one.


GREG: Slip into it and I'll meet you in the patio in five minutes. We might as well be out there as stewing inside here. Don't forget now...five minutes.


(Swell theme. Fade down...Tap on door.)


VALERIE (calling). Is that you, Greg? I'm just putting on my wrap. (Slight pause.) Come in!


(Door opens. She starts in surprise.)


BILL (fading in): So you've decided to go swimming after all?


VALERIE (shortly): Don't be silly, Bill.


BILL (doggedly): I don't know what you mean by silly! It seems you'll do anything that Greg asks you, but I just get the polite brush-off. You only came down here at all because Greg wanted it. Now you're going on the beach with him.


VALERIE (patiently): I'm not going swimming. I'm meeting Greg out on the patio.


BILL: In a swimsuit and bathing wrap?


VALERIE: I believe that's the regulation uniform for sunbathing! Now...would you mind!


BILL (interrupting): Just a minute, Val! I want to talk to you...


VALERIE: What about?


BILL: A lot of things that have been boiling up in me all day. Things I should have said to you...coming here in the car this morning. For instance, this story of yours about being in Australia only a few weeks.


VALERIE: Bill, I...


BILL (talking her down): You've been here six months! It doesn't matter a row of pins to me...but why lie about it? Why make me look such a fool in front of Connie and Hal?


VALERIE (quietly): If I did that, I'm sorry. As for the lie...it was one of those stupid things done on the spur of the moment--one never thinks of the consequences, I'm afraid. From the very first week I arrived, I'd meant to thank your mother for that parcel. But I kept putting it off...


BILL: Why?


VALERIE: I'd seen your pictures in the papers, read about you all. Put it down to shyness, if you like. But I was terrified you'd think I was trying to...crash in. When I finally made up my mind, I was ashamed to admit that it was so long.


BILL: Then why do it at all?


VALERIE: It was a case of now...or never. You see, Bill, I'm going away.


BILL: Where to?


VALERIE: Back to England.


BILL (in dismay): But you can't do that!


VALERIE (steadily): I must. When I arrived here, I had just enough money to last me six months--that and my return fare. Now, there's only the fare...and there's another reason.


BILL (interrupting): But surely you could step into a very good job?


VALERIE: I don't want a job! Not out here!


BILL: So that's it! The old, old story! Nothing in this country is good enough!


VALERIE (softly): Good enough! Bill...if poor broken, half-starved England had one-tenth of the physical advantages of this country, she'd be Shakespeare's demi-paradise come true! Not good enough...? Why, there's so much material good out here, packed down and running over, that when people like myself first arrive we can't believe it! It's only after we've been here a few months, when we've started to take the bounteous food, the sunshine, the easy living for granted, it's only then that we begin to look beneath the surface...(Slowly.) And that's when we begin to get...frightened.


BILL: Frightened?


VALERIE (gently): You can't understand that, can you?


BILL: Hanged if I can! What's there to be frightened about? Going hungry? No one ever starves in this country! Losing your job? There's not half enough people to fill the posts advertised! Loneliness? Well, there's always a crowd of good sports somewhere having a party!


CONSTANCE (fade in cheerfully): Who's having a party?


VALERIE: Hello, Connie.


CONSTANCE: I say, what's the matter? Have you two been scrapping?


BILL: Val's criticizing the way we live!


VALERIE (crying out): No...that's not true.


BILL: Then why are you clearing out of the country?


VALERIE: I'd rather not talk about it any more.


BILL (hotly): Oh, no! You can't wriggle out of it like that! You told me you were afraid...all right! Afraid of what? Give it a name!


VALERIE (quietly): Very well, Bill. It's called...blind indifference!


CONSTANCE: Indifference? Indifference to what?


VALERIE: To your duty as landlords of a really great continent! Because it hasn't the slightest value to you!


BILL: I say, Val...


CONSTANCE (stung to anger): I've never heard of anything quite so stupid...


VALERIE (after a slight pause, quietly): Perhaps you're right, Connie. Perhaps I am being stupid.


CONSTANCE: Of course you are!


VALERIE: Stupid in ignoring a self-evident fact...that no ones values a thing until it has some importance to them. Therefore, why should this country have any value to you? Have you ever had to fight for it? To really suffer for the soil as people in other countries have suffered for theirs? This land that supplies so much to so few...there's never even been a serious attempt to wrest it from you.


BILL: We had the Japs pretty near...


VALERIE: But how near? A bombing raid on your Darwin which most people read about in the newspapers...or saw on the newsreels! But down here in the cities...you were still isolated from it all! You've never seen your homes burning, your skies blackened, people you loved maimed and crying out for death! You've yet to see blood in your streets...like the streets of Guernica, Rotterdam, Coventry, London...(Her voice slows and softens)...and, please God, you never will. (Pause.) But if it does come...I...I don't want to be here. I'd rather be among my own folk...people who've already been through it. Been tried and tested...and come out...finer.


BILL (sombre): And you don't think...we will?


VALERIE: That's for you to say, Bill.


BILL: But it's the reason you're afraid, isn't it? It's the reason you won't stay on here?


VALERIE (quietly): Yes.


CONSTANCE (suddenly brittle with dislike): So you've decided to go home?


VALERIE: I'm going back to England. But home...(She pauses.)...where my home stood there's nothing but ruin, crumbling walls and empty windows staring out across wide spaces of rubble to the cathedral. Even after ten years, it's still the same. Yet, in the centre of this desolation there's a tiny garden with wall flowers climbing around a tablet. And on that tablet the words..."This garden is maintained in the belief that beauty will some day return to a bomb-torn city." (Pause.) When it comes again, I want to be among people like this...where gentle stubborn courage rises strong and free and invincible.


CONSTANCE (slowly): You know...you've got a brazen nerve!


BILL: Connie...


CONSTANCE: If this place is so bad, why did she come out here in the first place? And why stay on here? She wasn't forced!


VALERIE: No. Because that's something else you have...perhaps the most precious thing of all. Freedom...to live as you please...to say what you please...


CONSTANCE (brittle): Even to running down the very people who've been kind to you!


VALERIE (hurt): Oh, you don't understand...


CONSTANCE: Because we have been kind to you!


VALERIE: I'm not denying that! Not for one moment!


CONSTANCE: All right! Then stop trying to live our lives for us! We're getting along all right out here. And how would you like it if we sailed into your country--accepted your hospitality, and then turned around and criticized every single thing you did?


VALERIE (quietly): I'm sorry. I suppose it did sound like that. But I ask you to believe it wasn't meant that way. And it's only because you've been so kind that I felt free...to talk as I did.


GREG (away): Val...what's keeping you?


CONSTANCE (ignoring this): We know how you must feel...losing your home and all that in the war. But all that's in the past! One can't go on brooding about it forever! The best thing is just to forget...


VALERIE (almost passionately): It isn't so easy to forget! The fire and the bombing, yes, they destroyed only the material things. But there were other forces, more cruel and deadly...that planned the destruction of the will and the spirit! It's easy to talk of forgetting when there's nothing to remember! But just try to wash out the memory of the human will breaking under torture and pain...


GREG (off, impatiently): Val...are you coming?


VALERIE (quiet again): I must join Greg. (Fading.) Excuse me.


(There is a pause. It is broken by BILL.)


BILL (uncomfortably): What did she mean by torture?


CONSTANCE: Oh, she's just a little hysterical! Too highly strung, you know. Otherwise she'd never have put on that absurd scene at the Crocodile, when Larry King tried to--


(Interrupting her--off--comes a scream and a crash.)


BILL (sharply): What's that?


HAL (off, alarm): It's Val! She tripped on the steps...that gown...


BILL: Come on!


(Running footsteps.)


GREG (fading in, alarm): What's happened?


HAL: Val's come a cropper on the stairs.


GREG (alarm): Val...?


HAL: Now...take it easy, Greg! And watch your own step...we don't want another accident.


GREG (impatiently): I'm all right!


HAL: Not on these steps. I told you we should have had a rail put there months ago. Now, take my arm, old man...


GREG: Never mind about me! It's Val...is she badly hurt?


HAL (a question): Bill...?


BILL (subdued): I don't know, she's on the landing. One foot seems twisted.


GREG: But how did it happen? Wasn't anyone with her?


HAL: No. It was the gown...she tripped...now stay where you are, Greg. Don't move. I'm going to give Bill a hand. (Pause.) Can we lift her, Bill?


BILL: Get this dressing gown out of the way first. Careful now...slip it off her shoulders...


CONSTANCE (a sick gasp): Look! Look at her back!


BILL (swallowing): Good--grief! (Huskily.) No wonder she wouldn't let anyone see it...


GREG: What's wrong?


CONSTANCE (ignoring him): She...she must have been in some dreadful accident...


BILL: What kind of accident would leave scars like that?


CONSTANCE: I don't know. I...I...(Her voice trails away.)


GREG (crying out): What's wrong? Won't somebody tell me? What's wrong with her back?


HAL: Steady, old man! Maybe it's as well you can't see it!


GREG (on edge): See what, for heaven's sake?


HAL: Her back's all scarred...long red weals...like...like...


BILL (as he hesitates, grimly): Why don't you tell him, Hal? Long red weals...just like the marks...of a whip!


(Swell theme quickly. Fade down...Tap on door.)


VALERIE (calling): Who is it?


GREG (off): It's Greg...


VALERIE (quietly): Come in. (Door opens. GREG fades in.)


GREG (smiling): Well, a fine old fright you gave us!


VALERIE: Greg, I feel awful about this. To cause such trouble.


GREG: You're very lucky...taking a header like that and coming out with nothing worse than a turned ankle. It could have been so much worse!


VALERIE: Yes. The doctor says I should be walking by the end of the week.


GREG: And he means walking...not running, particularly down steep stairs.


VALERIE: That's the last thing I remember. Hearing you call and running out to join you.


GREG: Well, we carried you up here...at least Bill and Hal did. Then Connie put you to bed while Bill rang the doctor. Of course he wasn't in. So Hal got in his car and scouted the neighbourhood until he found one...


VALERIE: Hal did that?


GREG: Yes. And brought him back post-haste! Did you like Dr. Ramsay?


VALERIE: Very much.


GREG: Good type. Ex-army man. He was telling me he'd been with the occupation forces in Germany for a long time. Your case interested him very much.


VALERIE (laughing): A sprained ankle?


GREG (quietly): Something else.


(VALERIE'S laughter dies away...Pause.) 


GREG: Val...why didn't you tell us you'd been in the hands of the Gestapo? (Pause.) Well?


VALERIE (slowly): Would you have believed me?


GREG (gently): I would have.


VALERIE: You...yes, But the others...Connie, your brother...Bill. Oh, not that I would have blamed them! Out here...half a world away, sometimes it doesn't seem true, even to me. In Australia, the Gestapo is something to be read about in books or seen on the films or heard on the radio. It's an enthralling adventure that happens to fictional characters, so removed from the life you live here as to be fantastic, like King Solomon's mines or the Mountains of the Moon.


GREG (quietly): Not to me. Nor to Dr. Ramsay.


VALERIE: So that's how you knew?


GREG: Yes. (Pause.) How did it happen?


VALERIE (quietly): It was after the November blitz. On that night, I lost everything...everything except a kind of blazing berserk rage against the creatures who could do such things. I was just twenty...the age when it seems so easy to take the law of retribution into your own hands. So I went to Paris...to live with a cousin.


GREG: But surely France was occupied?


VALERIE: Oh yes. But I didn't go to Paris on a pleasure trip. I went because my cousin's husband was the head of an underground movement, meeting twice a week in a cellar under a bistro near St. Sulpice. It was sabotage work...you do that kind of thing when you're twenty and you feel that life has stopped for you. Anyhow...but it wasn't any glorious adventure. Most of the time I was terribly afraid, and only the determination to balance an injustice kept me going. (Her voice slows.) But in time...even that began to fade.


GREG: Yet you stayed in this dangerous work?


VALERIE: Yes. I stayed.


GREG: Because, I suppose, there was nothing else you could do?


VALERIE: Oh no. I could have gone back to England...one of our sidelines was the smuggling out of refugees. No, it wasn't that, Greg. By this time I'd found that there was something deeper than mere hate...more lasting than the thrill of adventure. Something not as pompous as patriotism...not as grand as love of country...yet combining, somehow, the two...combining it with a quiet, steady courage of a people willing to fight and suffer and die for soil made almost holy by such sacrifice. It made me marvel where such courage came from...until I understood.


GREG: What?


VALERIE: That these little people...the peasant and farmer...had been fighting all their lives. Fighting for a bare living from his handful of land! Fighting sickness from his goat and his cow, fighting the wind that sought to unroof his house, the rain that flooded the seed from his field, the sun that burnt his land and the frost that blackened it! So that the land, his land, became part of him, part of his strength and hope and future! To yield that piece of soil to a conqueror would be like yielding his own heart...(Pause.) Some of these people even did that. One day we were raided. The men were killed. The women...(She pauses.) After four months, another underground movement arranged my escape to England. (Simply.) That's all.


GREG (quietly): No wonder you feel so very deeply about conditions...out here.


VALERIE: You heard what I was saying to Connie?


GREG: No.


VALERIE: Then how...?


GREG: Bill told me.


VALERIE (quietly): That's a pity.


GREG: Why?


VALERIE: Isn't there some cliché about regretting words spoken in anger?


GREG (gently): You had every right to be angry with them.


VALERIE: No, Greg. Not with Connie and Bill...nor with anyone else. But...


GREG: Well?


VALERIE: I...I don't quite know how to say this. (Pause.) Greg, why do you think I came out to Australia?


GREG: There could be a dozen reasons.


VALERIE: One was enough for me. I wanted something to believe in, Greg, something to hope for! I wanted to be able to see into the future...clearly...without fear.


GREG: But surely in England...


VALERIE: Yes...there's a future there. England is building it now...but slowly...painfully almost, because her people are tired. My country needs half a century of peace to restore her greatness...her dignity.


GREG (gently): Yet you came away...?


VALERIE: I ran away! Away from the shabbiness and insecurity...away from the threat of a third world war! I was terrified, Greg...more afraid than I'd ever been during the resistance in France. I felt I just couldn't go through it all again. You may call it cowardly...


GREG: Or very human.


VALERIE: So I came here...to a country where I felt the future was as boundless as the horizons.


GREG: Was? (Pause.) Or...is?


VALERIE: You know how I feel about that, Greg. Perhaps that was what made me so angry. You said a moment ago that cowardice was human. Isn't it just as human to be disappointed in a broken illusion...and to let that disappointment rankle? (Pause.) Why are you smiling?


GREG (gently): "Bring me my bow of burning gold; Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire..." (He pauses.) You know how it goes on?


VALERIE: "I will not cease from mental fight; Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand; Till we have built Jerusalem; In England's green and pleasant land."


(Pause.)


GREG (gently): Val...


VALERIE: Yes?


GREG: When Blake wrote these lines...Australia was barely ten years old...


VALERIE: Meaning that I'm an idealist...asking for the impossible?


GREG: Not impossible...just...premature. Thinking people have been trying to build a new Jerusalem for two thousand years. (He smiles.) Out here, we're very new at the job.


VALERIE: A century and a half...


GREG: We've done quite a lot in that time. We've spanned the gulf between the Stone Age Aborigine and the television set. It's taken the Old World a great deal longer than one hundred and fifty years to do that! And give us another century and a half...let us be as old as America is now...perhaps you'll find your new Jerusalem right here.


VALERIE: Perhaps...


GREG: A doubtful word...


VALERIE: Only because I feel so many things must come to this country...a new trial of strength.


GREG (quietly): We'll meet it, Val. Oh, I know you can talk of Poitiers and Crecy and Inkaman, but we have our own achievements, too. They're not as star-studded, because our history's too new for that. You might call ours a sort of catalogue of...of grimy courage. Anzac, the Somme, El Alamein and the Kokoda Trail. If the rest comes, Val...we'll come through.


VALERIE: Greg...


GREG: Yes?


VALERIE: Aren't you thinking personally...judging the morale of a country by the courage of a few like yourself?


GREG (softly): The morale of the country...Val, did Bill ever tell you of the time when the Japs were practially on our doorstep?


VALERIE: Yes.


GREG: There were no parties then. People forgot about being lazy in the sun. Arthur Morton was an air-raid warden. His wife was making bandages in a Red Cross depot. Bill was giving blood donations. Connie and her friends were emergency ambulance drivers...studying first aid and gas treatment. And this was typical of the whole country! Suddenly the population closed together as one solid unit...inspired perhaps not by patriotism as by fear...but inspired as never before!


VALERIE: Inspiration through fear...yes...it was like that in the resistance.


GREG: Have you ever travelled beyond our cities?


VALERIE: No.


GREG: You speak of the French peasant fighting for his land. In our outback country there's a never-ending resistance movement...the battle with drought and flood and soil erosion tragic enough to break the toughest man. Yet these chaps go on, year after year, because they, too, were born to the land and love it and are prepared to battle for it.


VALERIE: Even against Nature...


GREG: And here in Australia, she can be the toughest of them all!


(Pause.)


VALERIE: Greg...forgive me.


GREG: Why?


VALERIE: For being foolish and impetuous...forming hasty judgments with so little knowledge.


GREG (smiling): It's so easy to do that out here. You're by no means the first person to fall into the trap. And you know the reason? It's because we're a simple people set down in a vast and complex country. And our distances are so broad that the visitor like yourself sees only one small facet of our existence at one time!


VALERIE: If only I could have met you before. I realize now that there's so much I have to learn.


GREG: There's still time.


VALERIE: A few weeks...


GREG: No, Val. All the rest of your life...here!


VALERIE: Here? You mean...I should stay?


GREG: Yes. Because we need you.


VALERIE: So far I've given nothing but criticism.


GREG: Better that than apathy, surely! We need people like yourself...people who, although they've suffered, still burn with the fierce flame of national freedom. Not only you, Val, but hundreds, thousands like you! To argue and debate and question...without fear or favour. And to bring the experience of the old world to the optimism of the new! Don't you see, Val...more than anything that's what we need?


VALERIE (slowly): All this would have been so worthwhile...if what you say is true!


GREG: Find out for yourself! Stay on here.


VALERIE: And you'll help me?


GREG: If you'll accept the burden of a blind man.


VALERIE (softly): A blind man? Oh, Greg my darling...


GREG: Val...


VALERIE: To call yourself a burden...you who have a clearer, wider vision...than any of us...


(Swell theme...Fade out to end of play.)



THE END


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