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Two Short Fantasies

The Columbia Workshop

Two Short Fantasies - "An Incident of the Cosmos" / "The Last Citation"

Aug 08 1937



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

NARRATOR


An Incident of the Cosmos

HUSBAND

WIFE

PATHOLOGIST

PHILOSOPHER

PHYSICIST

CAPTAIN

1ST CREW

2ND CREW

3RD CREW

JUDGE

DEFENSE

MR. GREEN

PROSECUTOR

MR. WHITE

(and JURORS)

PITCHMAN

(and a CROWD)

MAN

WOMAN

BANNISTER

1ST DISPATCHER

2ND DISPATCHER

3RD DISPATCHER



The Last Citation

VOICE

GENERAL

SENTRY

OFFICER

JUDGE

DEFENSE

PROSECUTOR

and a CROWD





ANNOUNCER: [The] Columbia Workshop, under the direction of Irving Reis.


MUSIC: OMINOUS AND OTHERWORLDLY ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Workshop offers as its fifty-fourth program in a series devoted to experimental radio drama [...] work is new to the microphone. The first, "An Incident of the Cosmos" by Paul Y. Anderson, famous political correspondent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is being repeated by special request, and the second, "The Last Citation" by John Whedon of the editorial staff of the New Yorker magazine.


NARRATOR: "An Incident of the Cosmos" by Paul Y. Anderson.


MUSIC: OTHERWORLDLY OUTER SPACE THEME ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: In the year Twenty-One Hundred Seventy-Nine, in a vast dwelling on an outer planet of the solar system of Betelgeuse, a being of enormous size, with a head as big as a piano, is staring through a giant telescope, the upper end of which is lost in the clouds. His wife watches him.


NOTE: THE HUSBAND AND WIFE, BEING GIANT ALIENS, SPEAK PONDEROUSLY AND WITH A HEAVY ECHO EFFECT


HUSBAND: I wish I could make you share the wonders of the great star masses with me. Come, look through this eyepiece for a moment.


WIFE: (UNENTHUSIASTIC) Very well. But I wish you would rest for a while.


HUSBAND: I shall adjust the ten-thousand-diameter focus.


SOUND: MECHANICAL GEARS GRIND AS THE FOCUS IS ADJUSTED


HUSBAND: There! Can you see?


WIFE: (BEAT) I see nothing but a cold distant group of tiny lights.


HUSBAND: That is Solar Unit Number One-Nine-Two-Eight-Eight-X -- an interesting group. That third concentric satellite is trillions of miles away. It is called Earth.


WIFE: What can be interesting about such remote and barren specks?


HUSBAND: Barren? How can we be sure that our planet is the only one inhabited by life?


WIFE: Life?


HUSBAND: I grant you that the idea is fantastic. But then, so is all astronomy from the average point of view. Think, for example, how difficult it would be for Garney, your servant, to understand that those satellites may no longer be in existence.


WIFE: It is difficult for me, too; and absurd, surely. How can we see something that does not exist?


HUSBAND: We may simply be seeing the light it gave off when it did exist.


WIFE: But is not light instantaneous?


HUSBAND: It travels incredibly fast -- a hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second.


WIFE: Then if it goes so fast, why would we not see it go out immediately if the satellite ceased to exist?


HUSBAND: Because it is so distant that even at the speed light travels -- even at a hundred and eighty-six thousand miles a second -- it would take two hundred and seventy-two years for us to see it go out.


WIFE: Incredible. Yet you speak of life on this distant cold pinpoint of light.


HUSBAND: Who knows?


WIFE: Ohhh, it is too much for me to think about. (MOVING OFF) I shall go prepare your food.


HUSBAND: Very well, dear. (BEAT, TO HIMSELF) Ah, if I could only get greater magnification on this telescope, I might be able to determine if there is life there. Life. Hmm. It is incredible that life may exist on that cold speck of light, which left that infinite sea of night back in Nineteen Thirty-Seven.


MUSIC: OUTER SPACE THEME ... SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE ... TOPS THE HUSBAND'S MUSINGS ... BUILDS TO A TRANSITION ... THEN OUT BEHIND--


PHYSICIST: Gentlemen, you have come from the corners of the earth for this meeting. I'm glad you didn't forget the vow we made forty years ago. It's now August eighth, Nineteen Thirty-Seven. On August eighth, Eighteen Ninety-Seven, we each of us promised that we would seek the answer to what we thought was mankind's greatest problem. You, Charles Anson, chose pathology.


PATHOLOGIST: Yes, Bates.


PHYSICIST: You, Henry Cramer, philosophy.


PHILOSOPHER: Yes.


PHYSICIST: And I physics.


PHILOSOPHER: Yes, Bates. But we have merely brought theories, formulae. Er, reveal the mystery of this, uh, amazing machine you have here in your laboratory. It's as mysterious and remote-looking as that distant star twinkling through the windowpane.


PATHOLOGIST: Yes, Bates. Report first.


PHYSICIST: Gentlemen, for forty years I sought the secret to save the world, and in this machine I have found the answer. Come closer and examine it.


SOUND: THEIR STEPS TO MACHINE


PHILOSOPHER: Vacuum tubes, rods, and switches. Glass and steel and wood. Mankind's salvation. (CHUCKLES) It looks complicated enough.


PATHOLOGIST: Fearfully.


PHYSICIST: This is a device for controlling and liberating atomic energy. From a single cubic inch of air sufficient power may be derived to perform all the labor of New York for a month. 


PATHOLOGIST: Fantastic.


PHYSICIST: I have liberated mankind -- freed it forever -- from the curse of labor! Be careful, Cramer. Don't go too near that switch. If the tube were smashed, and that switch thrown, it would dissolve the earth into electronic dust in approximately one-five-thousandth of a second.


PHILOSOPHER: (DRY) Mm, that's a small enough part of a second to end the agony of mankind.


PATHOLOGIST: Mankind need no longer suffer this agony -- because I have developed a standard serum which confers immunity to all diseases, together with a formula for arresting physical decay. Save for accident, man is redeemed forever from the curse of death.


PHILOSOPHER: That, too, is amazing.


PHYSICIST: I congratulate you, Charles! With my device to free man from labor and yours for eternal life, man is complete! (BEAT) And you, Henry. What has philosophy taught you these forty years?


PHILOSOPHER: Life, under any circumstances, can be justified only by the pursuit of truth. I sought and found the one truth.


PHYSICIST: Oh? What is it?


PATHOLOGIST: Tell us, Cramer.


PHILOSOPHER: The one truth is - that truth cannot be found, for there's no means of identifying it.


PHYSICIST: (CHUCKLES)


PATHOLOGIST: Ah, but now that I am ready to bestow eternal life upon man, he will live long enough to find the means of identifying it.


PHYSICIST: Yes, and I will give him complete leisure -- freedom from labor -- to pursue the truth, forever if need be! What do you say to that, Henry?


PATHOLOGIST: Yes, now what do you say?


SOUND: RUSTLE OF NEWSPAPER UNFOLDED BEHIND--


PHILOSOPHER: Gentlemen, I offer you this daily newspaper for the answer. Look at it. A few hours ago, it came off the presses. A few hours before that, it was life. Read it, gentlemen. Perhaps you will find the answer.


MUSIC: FOR NEWSPAPERS ROLLING OFF THE PRESSES ... SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE AND TOPS THE PHILOSOPHER ... UP, FOR TRANSITION


SOUND: ROAR OF AIRPLANE ENGINE ... SEGUE TO AIRPLANE INTERIOR BACKGROUND


1ST CREW: We're directly over the city, captain.


CAPTAIN: Quarter speed.


2ND CREW: Quarter speed.


3RD CREW: Quarter speed.


SOUND: BELLS CHIME AND DIALS ADJUSTED IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--


1ST CREW: Altitude, twenty-six thousand feet. 


CAPTAIN: Adjust site, zero. Deviation, four. Deflection, eight.


2ND CREW: Site, zero.


3RD CREW: Site, zero.


2ND CREW: Deviation, four. 


3RD CREW: Deviation, four. 


2ND CREW: Deflection, eight.


3RD CREW: Deflection, eight.


1ST CREW: Sighting, hospital and government building directly below.


CAPTAIN: Release projectile.


2ND CREW: Release projectile.


3RD CREW: Release projectile.


SOUND: PROJECTILE RELEASED ... IT SCREAMS THROUGH THE SKY 


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE ... TOPS THE PROJECTILE ... TRANSITION


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS TWICE 


JUDGE: (WEARY AND BORED) Take the witness.


DEFENSE: (GENTLE) Now, Mr. Green, you say you saw the defendant on the afternoon of October sixteenth.


GREEN: (A GOOD CITIZEN) Yes.


DEFENSE: What was he doing?


GREEN: (PIOUS) He was at home, playing with his dog and child.


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS TWICE 


JUDGE: Take the witness.


PROSECUTOR: (HARD-NOSED) Now, Mr. White, you say you saw the defendant on the afternoon of October the sixteenth, too.


WHITE: (A SHADY CHARACTER) Yeah.


PROSECUTOR: What was he doing?


WHITE: He was pointin' a machine-gun at the teller o' the Ninth National Bank.


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS TWICE 


JUDGE: Attorney for the defense.


DEFENSE: (MAUDLIN, BLEEDING HEART) Gentlemen, look at him. Look at this man they'd have you believe guilty of this foul crime. Is this the face of a criminal? No, gentlemen. Look into your hearts for the answer. Seek in his face the truth. Would he be capable of such an act as charged? Look into his face and into your hearts, gentlemen, and send him back to his dog and child.


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS ONCE 


JUDGE: Attorney for the prosecution.


PROSECUTOR: (FIRE AND BRIMSTONE) How can you judge so vile a scoundrel?! Look at him! See how he sneers! See the face of society's enemy! Look into his face, as my worthy colleague has suggested. If this beast is freed to roam the streets, no man, woman, or child is safe in this city! You must place him far from where he can again damage society!


1ST JUROR: (HUSHED) Guilty. 


2ND JUROR: (HUSHED) Not guilty. 


JURORS: (RAPID, OVERLAPPING, INCREASINGLY LOUD) Guilty. Not guilty. Guilty. Not guilty. Guilty. Not guilty. Guilty! Not guilty! Guilty! Not guilty! Guilty! Not guilty! (BUILDS QUICKLY TO A GARBLED CHAOTIC CLIMAX)


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE ... TOPS THE JURORS ... TRANSITION


SOUND: MURMURING CROWD BACKGROUND


PITCHMAN: (THE W. C. FIELDS TYPE) Hurry up, ladies and gentlemen, here it is! Here it is. The sovereign remedy for all ailments! The universal cure-all! There's nothing it cannot do, ladies and gentlemen, absolutely nothing! (LOW, TO FRONT ROW) Step a little closer, please. Thank you. That's it, step a little closer. (TO ALL) Have you got lumbago, arthritis, meningitis, colitis, or tonsillitis? Have you got a corn? Have you got a bunion? You got swollen feet? Rub it in! It'll cure 'em. Rub it on your head; it'll make hair sprout on a windowpane! A bottle of sunshine, folks! A bottle of sunshine for a dollar!


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE ... TOPS THE PITCHMAN ... TRANSITION


MAN: (HAPPY, SINGING WORDLESSLY TO HIMSELF) Da da dum, da-dum. Da da da da-dee.


WOMAN: Aren't you coming to bed, Lamby-kins?


MAN: Uh huh. (RESUMES SINGING) Da da dum, da-dum. Da dee.


WOMAN: You seem unusually pleased tonight, Walter.


MAN: Tonight? Tomorrow, my dear, before noon I shall have made ten thousand dollars. That's how much I stand to clear on Bannister's note. I'm calling it tomorrow.


WOMAN: But you said he doesn't have a penny.


MAN: (UNCARING) Oh, he'll get it somewhere.


WOMAN: Where, dear?


MAN: I don't know, but he'll get it. Mr. Bannister is someone in society. He wishes to remain someone.


WOMAN: You've known him a long time, haven't you?


MAN: Yes.


SOUND: PHONE RINGS


MAN: I'll answer it, dear.


SOUND: RECEIVER UP


MAN: Hello?


BANNISTER: (FILTER) Hello, Walter? This is Bannister.


MAN: Yes, Bannister?


BANNISTER: (FILTER) Walter, I've got to have an extension on that note. It won't be more than for a few days, but--


MAN: Sorry, really, but I've got to insist on tomorrow.


BANNISTER: (FILTER) But I can't make it tomorrow! I've told you that, Walter!


MAN: Then I'll have to--


BANNISTER: (FILTER, DESPERATE) Walter, you can't do that! Why, we've known each other for years! We've been to school together as kids! You've got to put that above this!


MAN: I'm sorry, Bannister, but I can't let business and sentiment get mixed up; it doesn't work.


BANNISTER: (FILTER, IN SAVAGE DESPAIR) All right


SOUND: VERY LOUD SHARP NOISE OVER PHONE ... IS IT A GUNSHOT? IT'S HARD TO SAY ... PHONE DISCONNECTS (MAN'S PERSPECTIVE)


MAN: Hello? (NO ANSWER) Hello?


SOUND: RECEIVER DOWN


MAN: (WITH A PUZZLED SHRUG) He hung up.


WOMAN: What was that sound? I could hear it over here.


MAN: (UNCARING) Oh, I don't know. Must have dropped a book.


WOMAN: Come to bed now, Walter.


MAN: (SINGS TO HIMSELF) Da da dee, da-dum. (OBEDIENTLY, TO WOMAN) Yes, dear. (MORE SINGING) Da da dee da-dee. (TO WOMAN) We're going to be very happy, aren't we, Lambkins? We're gonna make a pile of money. Scads of it before we're through. And it's all we need, beside each other, to be very happy. Yes, that's all we need.


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE ... TOPS THE MAN ... TRANSITION


SOUND: WAIL OF POLICE SIRENS AND ROAR OF POLICE CAR ENGINES ... THEN IN BG ... THREE POLICE DISPATCHERS (WITH FILTERED VOICES) TRADE LINES RAPIDLY, INCREASINGLY OVERLAPPING UNTIL THEIR VOICES BUILD TO A CLIMAX OF JUMBLED CHAOS


1ST DISPATCHER: Calling all cars!


2ND DISPATCHER: Calling all cars!


3RD DISPATCHER: Calling all cars!


1ST DISPATCHER: Calling Car Twelve. Watch for black sedan driven by two men wanted for murder.


2ND DISPATCHER: Calling Car One-Oh-Six. Someone is trying to break into a house on--


3RD DISPATCHER: Calling Car Twelve. Proceed to Nine West Euclid. Suicide.


1ST DISPATCHER: Calling all cars!

2ND DISPATCHER: Robbery!

3RD DISPATCHER: Calling all cars!

1ST DISPATCHER: Murder!

2ND DISPATCHER: Calling all cars!

3RD DISPATCHER: Fire!

1ST DISPATCHER: Calling all cars! 

2ND DISPATCHER: Fire! (ET CETERA)


SOUND: CHAOS AS DISPATCHERS ALL RAPIDLY TALK AT ONCE


MUSIC: SNEAKS IN DURING ABOVE ... TOPS DISPATCHERS, SIRENS, ENGINES, ET CETERA ... TRANSITION


PHILOSOPHER: There's your answer, gentlemen, in this cold print. A few hours ago, it rolled off the presses. A few hours before that, it was life.


PATHOLOGIST: Well, I can't see what this has to do--


PHILOSOPHER: (VERY DRY AND POINTED) I wonder what will happen tomorrow, and tomorrow, when you release your great machine, Bates, to liberate mankind forever. Or when you bestow eternal life, Anson.


PHYSICIST: (PROTESTS) Mankind will have the time to correct these lapses in its behavior once I remove the curse of toil.


PATHOLOGIST: Yes, Cramer. I'm afraid you've not proved your point. And now that I have bestowed eternal life, man will live long enough to find the truth!


PHILOSOPHER: (WITH SADNESS AND FINALITY) Man will never find the truth. The truth is not identifiable.


PHYSICIST: (DISAGREES) Oh, we have mastered infinite forces. In that machine, which you are examining now, lightning is changed, power harnessed, energy freed. If the tube on that machine were smashed, and the switch thrown, the earth would dissolve into electronic dust in approximately one-five-thousandth of a second!


PHILOSOPHER: (REACHING A DECISION) In me, man attains the absolute idea. In me, he achieves the absolute act of will! (MUSES) One-five-thousandth of a second to end the agony of mankind.


PHYSICIST: (QUICKLY) Here, here -- what are you doing? Don't touch that!


SOUND: GLASS TUBE SMASHED


PHYSICIST: (IN TERROR) Don't touch that switch! Don't! Nooooo--!


SOUND: ENORMOUS EXPLOSION! AS EARTH DISSOLVES INTO ELECTRONIC DUST ... EERIE REVERBERATION


MUSIC: FOR THE END OF THE WORLD ... COMBINES WITH SOUND EFFECTS ABOVE ... THEN OUTER SPACE THEME AGAIN BRIEFLY ... FOR A TRANSITION BACK TO BETELGEUSE


HUSBAND: (TO HIMSELF) Yes, if I could only get greater magnification on this telescope. Life. Hmm. It is incredible that life may exist on that cold speck of light, which left the infinite sea of night back in Nineteen Thirty-Seven.


WIFE: (ENTERS) You must come away from the telescope now. The food is ready.


HUSBAND: Yes, dear. (MILDLY SURPRISED) Oh! Wait! There seems to be a slight disturbance on the fringe of the Minor Area in the adjoining universe. 


WIFE: What can it be?


HUSBAND: The third concentric satellite of Solar Unit Number One-Nine-Two-Eight-Eight-X -- Earth -- appears to have exploded.


WIFE: Has that any particular significance?


HUSBAND: (VERY CASUAL) Oh, no. There are billions of those little satellites. It happens about four times a night. You have often seen those stars shoot across the sky? 


WIFE: Yes.


HUSBAND: (HEARTILY) Well, how about some supper?


MUSIC: CURTAIN ... ENDS WITH A LOW CHINESE GONG


ANNOUNCER: And now for the second half of this evening's Workshop program, we present "The Last Citation" by John Whedon.


MUSIC: SOMBER INTRODUCTION ... A MILITARY FUNERAL MARCH ... THEN BEHIND NARRATOR--


NARRATOR: On a hillside, in the late afternoon, they are burying General Pétard. Full of years, campaigns, and medals, the general died in his bed. He will rest now as he wished, on this quiet slope, overlooking the graves of thousands of men whom he commanded -- comrades in arms, comrades in death.


VOICE: (OFF) Fire!


SOUND: VOLLEY OF RIFLE SHOTS


MUSIC: BUGLE PLAYS "TAPS"


NARRATOR: Sleep well, general.


MUSIC: SOMBER TRANSITION


SOUND: ROAR OF CANNON FIRE ... FADES IN DURING ABOVE ... UP AND THEN FADES OUT WITH KNOCKING AT GATE


GENERAL: (GRUFF AND IMPATIENT) Open up there! Open up!


SENTRY: (OFF, A GENTLE SOUL) Who goes there?!


GENERAL: General Pétard!


SENTRY: (OFF) Who?


GENERAL: General Pétard! Open up!


SENTRY: (APPROACHES) Not so fast, general. This is one place you can't take by storm.


GENERAL: Open up then.


SOUND: GATE UNLOCKED AND OPENED


SENTRY: Advance and state your business.


GENERAL: Who's in command here?


SENTRY: I must ask for your credentials first.


GENERAL: I need no credentials. I'm General Pétard, I tell you.


SENTRY: That means nothing here.


GENERAL: Look here, my man, I am not accustomed to that kind of an answer. (WITH EFFORT, STRUGGLES VAINLY TO DRAW SWORD) You'll keep a civil tongue in your head or, by Heaven, I'll - I'll - I'll - !


SENTRY: I wouldn't try to draw that sword, general. You'll find it's rusted in the scabbard.


GENERAL: (PUZZLED, QUIET) Hmm. Hm! This is damned irregular. Some conspiracy in this. (EXPLODES) What's going on here?! Do you hear me?! What are you up to?! Out with it!


SENTRY: (UNFAZED) What are you up to? Can you answer that? Why are you here?


GENERAL: (CAN'T REMEMBER) I, er-- Why, I'm carrying out orders.


SENTRY: (AMUSED) Does a general take orders? Whose orders?


GENERAL: (AT A LOSS) Ah-- I don't know.


SENTRY: (CHUCKLES) How do you like it?


GENERAL: (GRUFF AGAIN) Listen, I've had enough of your insolence! Go to your commanding officer, whoever he is, and tell him that General Pétard wants to see him. General Pétard, do you hear?! And do it at once or by the living--!


SOUND: OFFICER'S STEPS APPROACH


SENTRY: This man says he is General Pétard.


OFFICER: (ANOTHER GENTLE SOUL; VERY POLITE) I know. We were expecting the general. May I say, general, that we have been looking forward for a long time to your coming.


GENERAL: And may I say I resent the insulting behavior of your sentry?


OFFICER: Oh, I am sure he intended nothing but the usual military courtesy. We want to make you feel at home here, general. If you'll follow me, please.


SOUND: GENERAL AND OFFICER'S FOOTSTEPS, IN BG


GENERAL: But I've been insulted and I demand that that man be disciplined!


OFFICER: You must forgive him. He died young.


GENERAL: He - died?


OFFICER: Of course.


GENERAL: Wait a minute! Wait a minute!


SOUND: THEIR FOOTSTEPS STOP


GENERAL: (SLOWLY) What place is this?


OFFICER: No place.


GENERAL: (EXPLODES) Can't anyone give me a straight answer here?! (NO ANSWER) What day is it? What time is it?!


OFFICER: No time. Does the idea frighten you, general? Surely a man on as close terms with death as you have been all these years would--


GENERAL: Let it never be said that General Pétard was afraid of anything.


OFFICER: Spoken like your very own self, general.


SOUND: THEIR FOOTSTEPS RESUME


OFFICER: We must ask you to overlook any irregularities in our military conduct, general. You see, we are really only - "playing soldier." Ordinarily, matters are handled more, er, straightforwardly here. But we wanted to meet you on your own ground, so to speak, in order to give you every possible advantage.


GENERAL: I don't know what you're driving at. Where are we going?


OFFICER: Shh. We enter here.


SOUND: DOOR OPENS


GENERAL: (BEAT) What's this? Who are these men?


OFFICER: Surely you recognize a court-martial, general. (TO JUDGE AND OTHERS, AN INTRODUCTION) Your honor; gentlemen -- the accused, General Pétard.


SOUND: CROWD MURMURS ... OUT BEHIND--


GENERAL: (STARTLED) Accused? I? Accused of what?


JUDGE: (DRY BUT POLITE) That will be brought out in due course -- if, indeed, there is any doubt in your mind.


OFFICER: (LOW, TO GENERAL) Let me urge you to do nothing to antagonize the court. Throw yourself on its mercy.


GENERAL: See here! I don't know you! I don't know anything about this! I've had nothing to say here! I protest! I refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of this court.


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS ONCE


JUDGE: This court takes its jurisdiction on no authority other than its own. It needs no other. You will stand trial whether you recognize it or not.


GENERAL: Then I demand time to prepare my case!


JUDGE: You have had a whole lifetime for that, general. And I must say the case you have built up is most consistent and convincing.


GENERAL: I protest! This court displays prejudice before the case is even open!


JUDGE: This case was opened some sixty-five years ago. The facts have all been established. The evidence is a matter of public record. It only remains to sum up -- and to hear what the prisoner has to say in his defense. 


GENERAL: This - this is irregular from start to finish! I protest! I demand that this court--!


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS ONCE


JUDGE: General, it is you who are on trial here, not the court. 


GENERAL: But it - it's outrageous! I absolutely protest! This is a travesty on justice!


JUDGE: Oh, come, general. We both know how these things are done. In conducting this trial, the court is merely following the precedent established by the procedure of your own military court. What could be fairer? (BEAT) Advocate for the prosecution?


PROSECUTOR: Your honor, and gentlemen of the court, I will be brief in my summary. You have seen that this man Pétard, at the age of seventeen, dedicated himself to a career of organized murder. I have shown that it was a free choice and that his sole motive, then and throughout his life, was personal glory and power. He spread the doctrine that no man can trust his neighbor, and supported it by his own example. For his own purposes, by conniving and manipulation, he fomented war. He preyed upon the weakness of those who were carried away by it, and drafted by force those who abhorred it. He directed the suppression of free speech and the international dissemination of lies, and he was proud of it; he organized a bureau of treachery with secret agents all over the world, and he was proud of that. He fought for the development of poison gas, liquid fire, aerial bombs, long-range guns for use against women and children in cities. Those who joined him in his bloody march, he rewarded with empty honors; and those who recoiled from it, he shot down. In his lifetime, he was responsible for the torture and death of millions of his fellow men and for the suffering of their families. And throughout all this, the only justification he has ever offered is that ancient and meaningless incantation, "War is war." Look at him. That venerable old man. Standing there in his pride, with his medals on his chest. A sweet old man. (GRIM, TO GENERAL) There's blood on your hands, Pétard! (TO ALL) No legendary fiend in the wildest nightmare has ever approached what that man has been guilty of in cold hideous fact! (QUIETLY) I demand for him the severest penalty which this court can inflict.


SOUND: CROWD MURMURS ... THEN QUIETS BEHIND--


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS TWICE


JUDGE: The advocate for the defense.


DEFENSE: Your honor, and gentlemen of the court, on the prisoner's behalf, I can deny none of the charges presented. I can only ask the court's mercy on the ground that General Pétard was a man, nothing more. He was the product of the times he lived in, and of the men who lived before him. He was not the master of the forces he represented; he was their puppet. To his subordinates, he was known as "Old Blunderbuss," and he was just that. A blundering fool with delusions of power, awed by his own majesty, playing blindly with the dangerous forces that were put in his way. A fool, to be pitied as well as condemned. For the harm he did, he was only part--


GENERAL: Stop it! Stop it! I didn't authorize this man to speak for me!


JUDGE: He was appointed by the court.


GENERAL: Well, I don't want any apologist! And I don't want the support of pacifists, either! I speak for myself here!


JUDGE: Very well, general. Speak.


GENERAL: To begin with, I resent being called and questioned this way. You have the advantage of me for the moment. But you'll pay for this humiliation, mark my words!


JUDGE: (TO CLERK) The clerk of the court will mark the general's words. (TO GENERAL) We tremble before your wrath, general, but we must humbly ask you to come to the point. Can you say anything in your defense?


GENERAL: I can say in all modesty that at no time in my life have I failed to act as an officer and a gentleman.


JUDGE: And what do you mean by that?


GENERAL: That is something that would never have to be explained to an officer and a gentleman.


JUDGE: We stand rebuked. And unenlightened. Proceed.


GENERAL: I will not stoop to answer most of the charges which have been made here. They were the ravings of a pacifist. We all want peace, certainly. But not at the cost of national honor. I have advocated military preparedness because I know that it is the only way to maintain peace and to preserve the institutions for which our forefathers fought and died! If I have been hard on my men at times, it has been for the sake of discipline and for the good of the service! Whatever I have done, I have done unselfishly for the protection and glory of my country! I have fought the good fight! And I have played the game!


PROSECUTOR: A bloody game!


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS ONCE


JUDGE: You - really believe all these - words, general?


GENERAL: I do!


JUDGE: You have no regrets?


GENERAL: Why should I? I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have done my job and done it well, as few men could.


JUDGE: This "military preparedness," as you call it -- designed, you say, for the preservation of peace -- resulted in the greatest war ever known, and cost the lives of eight million men. Do you not feel, because of that, that possibly your - "career" - was a mistake?


GENERAL: (WITH GREAT DIGNITY) Let history judge of that.


JUDGE: (BEAT) That should make it easier for the court. (BEAT, TO THE OTHERS) It, er, should not take us long to reach a verdict, gentlemen. 


SOUND: CROWD MURMURS ... THEN QUIETS BEHIND--


SOUND: GAVEL BANGS TWICE


JUDGE: You will understand, General Pétard, that in making an example of you we have at heart only the good of the service. Not the service you boast of, but a service into which every man is drafted at birth -- the service of mankind. To that service, we find you -- guilty, of high treason.


SOUND: CROWD MURMURS ... THEN IN BG


GENERAL: There's just one thing you've forgotten in this little farce, gentlemen. I'm dead! You're dead! We're all dead! What's done is done! 


JUDGE: What's done is only the beginning!


GENERAL: You can't do anything to me! You can't touch me! I'm out of your reach now! I call on a higher court than this to judge me!


SOUND: CROWD OUT ABRUPTLY ... SILENCE


JUDGE: There is - no higher court than this.


MUSIC: FOR COSMIC JUSTICE ... CURTAIN ... THEN OUT BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Workshop has presented, as its fifty-fourth program, two short fantasies, "An Incident of the Cosmos" by Paul Y. Anderson, famous political correspondent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and "The Last Citation" by John Whedon of the editorial staff of the New Yorker magazine. Bernard Herrmann composed a special musical score and William Pringle was featured in the part of General Pétard. Irving Reis directed.


The Workshop is always glad to receive your suggestions, criticisms, and comments on these programs. Next week, the Columbia Workshop will present John Galsworthy's famous play "Escape." You are cordially invited to tune in at this same hour.


MUSIC: COSMIC JUSTICE ... UNTIL END


ANNOUNCER: This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

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