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The Enchanted Village

The Big Show

The Enchanted Village

Mar 02 1950






NOTE: Script of a dramatic sketch from a variety show.


TALLU: And now, darlings, the Big Show belongs to our mutual friends, the Harrisons. We are delighted to present Miss Lilli Palmer and Mr. Rex Harrison in a dramatic version of a famed story by a celebrated contemporary of the German literary giants Goethe, Schiller, and Heine -- Friedrich Gerstacker.

Our tale is a strange one, told by an English artist who walked in out of the way places in the Germany of the early past century, seeking inspiration for his sketch book. This is the story called "The Enchanted Village."


ARNOLD: There are Enchanted Villages, you know....Villages of quaint streets and gingerbread houses -- of odd-costumed villagers, of curious customs and --- but I'm getting ahead of myself. A story must begin at the beginning. 


ARNOLD: I had wandered aimlessly, walking through Bavaria, pausing to sketch or paint whatever my fancy would dictate. One late afternoon in a remote and untravelled part of the country, I had lost my way. I took off my pack, leaned against a lilac tree. Almost at once I became conscious of how utterly quiet the valley was -- and then I saw her -- a radiantly beautiful girl.


GERDA: Oh -- I am sorry. I thought you were --

ARNOLD: That I was some very lucky young man you expected to meet here, eh? 

[GERDA: Yes.]

ARNOLD: I must say I envy him.

GERDA: I was to meet someone, but you need not be envious. He has probably forgotten all about me. 

ARNOLD: That I cannot believe. He must be ill, or has met with an accident -- broken his leg. But not forgotten you.

GERDA: Perhaps he is ill -- or even dead.

ARNOLD: You've not heard from him, then?

GERDA: No -- all this long, long time. But now I cannot wait any longer, as I have to be home. 

ARNOLD: And where is your home? 

GERDA: Straight down this valley.


GERDA: There's the bell. They're just coming out of church. 

ARNOLD: I can't see any town...only thick mist down in the valley. 

GERDA: But you hear the bell?

ARNOLD: Yes. Quite a bell -- a most mournful, discordant sound, isn't it?

GERDA: No, it has not a pleasant sound and should have been recast long ago, but we are always short of money and time. Yet what does it matter? We know it all right, and we know what it means when it rings, so even though it is cracked, it serves its purpose.

ARNOLD: And what is the name of your town? 

GERDA: Germels.

ARNOLD: And can I get to Wichten from there? 

GERDA: Quite easily, by the foot path. It hardly takes half an hour. 

ARNOLD: Then may I go with you through the town?

GERDA: I will show you the way.

ARNOLD: Wait. 


ARNOLD: Your face in that light near the lilac tree -- I'd like to sketch you.

GERDA: You are an artist? 

ARNOLD: I work at it. Just sit down there under the tree. I should very much like to take a reminder of you with me in my sketch book. 

GERDA: A reminder of me? [I wonder if that's possible.] Very well -- but perhaps you will find it difficult to sketch my likeness. 

ARNOLD: We'll see. I'm usually quite facile at this sort of thing.

GERDA: If you're an artist you could set to work and touch up the pictures in Germel's Church. They look so very poor and shabby.

ARNOLD: Yes, I'd be delighted. By the way, you haven't told me your name. 

GERDA: Gerda.

ARNOLD: Gerda. Mmmmm. Yes, just right for you.

GERDA: I will take you straight home. You can discuss with my father the matter of the pictures. [He's the mayor.]

ARNOLD: Oh, the pictures in the church?

GERDA: Of course. And then you must stay with us a long, long time. We must go now. Time is so short. 

ARNOLD: One moment -- one moment. Just a line - a bit of shadow here....There! Have I caught your likeness?

GERDA: I did not think it possible that you could have sketched my likeness -- but it is -- it is myself!

ARNOLD: Your exquisitely beautiful self! 

GERDA: But so sad -- ever so sad.

ARNOLD: I caught that last fleeting expression. Tell me, of what were you thinking?

GERDA: No, please -- I must go. Don't detain me. And you -- you'd better not come with me into the town -- not now!

ARNOLD: But you said --

GERDA: No. I've changed my mind. It is not good for you to come with me into the town. I should not have let you sketch me.

ARNOLD: I do not understand any of this. All I know is that where you go, I must go, too.

GERDA: Come. Please hurry. There is so little time.


ARNOLD: How could I have missed such a Village as this? I've never seen or heard of such quaint houses. But Gerda, the people -- the quiet! Why is it they only smile at us -- that no one ever speaks?

GERDA: Perhaps you do not understand the speech. 

ARNOLD: I'm not deaf. They say nothing. No one talks. No sound is heard. Is the moor or forest on fire hereabouts? Where does this smoky fog come from? 

GERDA: It is earth vapor. Surely you remember? The mist. 

ARNOLD: I remember nothing but that I'm with you, Gerda. But this town? -- forgive me, but it is depressing. No fruit on the fruit trees. No birds. I'm sorry, I guess it's the depressing atmosphere of the mist. 

GERDA: It is only a little way further. We're almost there. 

ARNOLD: Are we leaving the town? 

GERDA: No. Just beyond the wall. Here -- in here.

ARNOLD: A graveyard? 

GERDA: Yes. I must visit the grave of my mother. Give me only a moment for a brief prayer.

ARNOLD: Your mother? But this molding stone, my darling -- It looks so very ancient.

GERDA: No -- it's not old. Not old at all. It is sad enough to be parted from one's mother, and yet -- perhaps it was well, very well that she was suffered to go to God beforehand! 

ARNOLD: But Gerda, you've got to tell me what all this means! It is not possible that stone such as this could have weathered-- 


GERDA: Ss-hhh--! The bell! We've only time to get back! Only time for the dancing! 

ARNOLD: The dancing?

GERDA: Yes. We must hurry. No last precious moment can be wasted. It is time we joined the people for the wine and for the dancing. (SUDDENLY SHE IS WILD AND GAY) Come, my lover, it is the time for dancing!


GERDA: Dance faster, my lover, faster! Hold me closer, closer!



GERDA: Only a few more minutes! Oh, my darling, I can't bear to leave you! 

ARNOLD: Leave me! You're never going to leave me! 

GERDA: Here -- drink more wine! Drink deeply. Drink as I drink!

ARNOLD: Yes -- give me the cup. We'll drink and dance the night away!



GERDA: Do you love me enough to stay forever with me here in Germels? 

ARNOLD: Forever and a day. 

GERDA: Speak carefully, my love. Would you stay if we could be together for only one day each hundred years?

ARNOLD: One day in each hundred years? (LAUGHS) No, my darling -- I want you every day --- every hour --- every minute --- Gerda, what is the matter? 

GERDA: (SADLY) You should not have said that. But now it is too late. When you caught my likeness in your sketch this afternoon, you proved that you were the one for whom I waited -- so long, so long. Now you, too, must wait and love and suffer, too.

ARNOLD: But I do love you -- is my love not enough?



GERDA: Come, my darling, the time has come. But first, my dearest, kiss me this once -- this last -- this forever time.


ARNOLD: No -- we can't stop here -- we've got to get out of this mist! Come, it couldn't be much farther -- Gerda -- (CALLS) Gerda, where are you? Gerda, take my hand.


ARNOLD: I cannot leave you. I cannot leave you! Gerda, I cannot leave you like this in the dark! 

GERDA: Keep me close to you. Keep me close in your heart! My darling farewell!

ARNOLD: Gerda! No -- come back, Gerda -- come back!


FORESTER: So there you are, Englishman, and a sorry sight you are. We've been hunting you all night in the swamp. What happened to you? Take the wrong road and blunder into the bog in the dark?

ARNOLD: (DULLY) I've been trying to find the city -- 

FORESTER: City? Here?

ARNOLD: Germels. 

FORESTER: Germels! God have mercy on us! They say it used to stand there where the swamp is. But how many fathoms deep down below the earth that bewitched town lies, God alone knows. Nor is it any business of ours.

ARNOLD: City -- bewitched? 

FORESTER: Sunk away hundreds of years ago. And so goes the tale, it is bound to reappear each hundred years upon a certain day and for only a day. Me, I'd just as soon not be around when that happens...Hold on, sir, you can't go that way! It leads right into the worst of the swamp!

ARNOLD: Gerda! Gerda! Gerda! 


ARNOLD: I've never found her. But each year I go back. I search the forest and the swamp, always seeking, always hoping always praying that God will one day grant again his miracles that I will find again the Enchanted Village - that I will be united once again and forever with my love.



TALLU: Bravo, darlings. Two great performances by two of the brightest stars in the whole of show business.... [Also, our thanks to Martin Blaine]