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Under the Midnight Sun

Redbook Dramas

Under the Midnight Sun

Aug 04 1932



CAST:

ANNOUNCER, James Cleminger

EDWIN BALMER


BLAINE, reporter

WEILAND, photographer

SALLY MASON, emotional

HELEN AINTREE

DO-RE-MI, the Eskimo

and four AIRMEN



ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, we take pleasure in presenting another of the stories especially selected for us by Edwin Balmer, the distinguished editor of Redbook Magazine. Editor Balmer is here to tell you why he selected "Under the Midnight Sun," by Ferrin Fraser, for Redbook. Mr. Balmer.


BALMER: Thank you, Mr. Cleminger. We didn't think it possible to find a new sort of detective story until Ferrin Fraser sent in the one which is about to be presented to you. The whole situation is different -- and, most especially, the detective is different. It's a pleasure to pass on to you the story, "Under the Midnight Sun."


ANNOUNCER: (PAUSE) Before we begin this thrilling mystery story, I shall introduce the characters. Here is Blaine, the newspaper reporter who told this story to the author.


BLAINE: (NARRATES) I'm Blaine. The Times sent me up there to cover the story of that flight over the North Pole. I'll never forget that morning as long as I live: the huge plane with the drumming of its motors splitting the cold crisp air of the Arctic dawn -- and the four men, more foolhardy than heroic, waiting to take off over the frozen roof of the world: Roger Mason, the pilot; Vince Tomaino, the radio operator; Jack Casey, the navigator; and Swanson, the observer. Left behind with me was Weiland, the newspaper photographer. But here he is now.


WEILAND: I'm Weiland, the newspaper photographer here to snap pictures of the takeoff and to help Blaine get a firsthand story of the flight. But instead of the story of a polar flight, we got a different and far more amazing tale. Here is Sally Mason, another one of the four white people left behind.


SALLY: I'm Sally Mason. I came up here with my husband Roger Mason who's to pilot the plane on its polar flight. (DISTRESSED, EMOTIONAL) I know Roger's coming back. I - I know he's coming back!


BLAINE: (SOOTHING) There now, Mrs. Mason. Of course Roger's coming back. (NARRATES) Here is Helen Aintree coming. Her husband, who broke his leg just three days ago, is laid up and cannot make the flight. It was he who furnished the money. There's something very cruel about that smile of hers as she's saying goodbye to the boys. (CALLS) Mrs. Aintree? Will you come over here, please? Mrs. Aintree? 


HELEN: (COOL) I am Helen Aintree. My husband is backing this fool flight, and now they're going at last, after a lot of fighting and all.


SOUND: AIRPLANE ENGINE ROARS ... THE FOUR AIRMEN AND THE OTHERS EXCHANGE SHOUTS OF GOODBYES 


SALLY: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE; SHE'S THE LOUDEST OF ALL) Goodbye! Goodbye, Roger! Goodbye, dearest! Come back -- come back soon! 


SOUND: ENGINE FADES OUT DURING FOLLOWING--


HELEN: (BEAT) Well, there they go.


SALLY: (SOBS) God keep them safe. (WEEPS, THEN IN BG)


BLAINE: Oh, don't you worry, Sally. They'll make it; come back from Spitsbergen famous and loaded down with contracts, you'll see.


WEILAND: I got some swell pictures of the takeoff. Say, it was a grand getaway, wasn't it? Oh, say, Blaine. There's that Eskimo fella, Do-Re-Mi. He's wavin' at ya on the other bank.


BLAINE: (CALLS) Hi, Do-Re-Mi! You want me?!


DO-RE-MI: (OFF) Mist' Blaine, you come here a minute?


BLAINE: (MOVING OFF) Be right there, Do-Re-Mi! (BEAT, APPROACHES) All right. What's on your mind?


DO-RE-MI: Come to shack. Mist' Aintree's shack.


BLAINE: Aintree's shack? What's he want?


DO-RE-MI: Mist' Aintree - dead.


BLAINE: Aintree? Dead?!


DO-RE-MI: Shot.


BLAINE: But - but he was sitting by himself in there with a broken leg.


DO-RE-MI: Mist' Aintree - shot.


BLAINE: (CALLS) Hey, Weiland?! Put down those cameras a minute and come here! Tell the girls we'll meet 'em at the store and go on ahead!


WEILAND: (BEAT, APPROACHES) Say, Blaine, what the dickens is wrong? You look sort of funny.


BLAINE: Do-Re-Mi says Aintree's over in his shack -- dead.


WEILAND: What?! But he only had a busted leg. He was all right an hour ago. I left him sitting up, wrapped in blankets, smoking a cigar. You were there yourself. He wanted us to wish the boys good luck.


BLAINE: Do-Re-Mi says he's been shot.


MUSIC: BRIEF TRANSITION


SOUND: HEAVY WIND BLOWS ... THEN BEHIND BLAINE--


BLAINE: (NARRATES) We went to the shack. The room was stifling. In the excitement of the morning, we'd forgotten to turn off the stove, I guess, and the iron glowed red with heat. Aintree still sat in his armchair, but he slumped sideways and his head was fallen forward on his breast.


WEILAND: Gee, this is tough. Smack through the heart.


BLAINE: Terrible. And it's like a furnace in here. Do-Re-Mi, shut off that stove. Whew!


DO-RE-MI: Stove plenty hot.


BLAINE: We can't stand staring, Weiland. Give me a hand. We--


WEILAND: Where - where's the gun he did it with?


BLAINE: The gun? Sure, the gun. Must have - must have fallen in his lap there. Here, we'll shake out the blanket and--


WEILAND: There isn't any gun in this blanket. It's not on the floor by his chair, or-- Why, there it is! Look! Under this table by his chair. Right here!


DO-RE-MI: (SUSPICIOUS) How that gun get there, Mist' Blaine?


BLAINE: It dropped from Aintree's hand, of course. He shot himself.


DO-RE-MI: No could, Mist' Blaine. Mist' Aintree hold things with right hand. Gun fall under table on lefthand side.


WEILAND: Blast it, Blaine -- that's right! Aintree was righthanded. That gun couldn't have dropped under the table on the lefthand side, see?


BLAINE: Weiland, I - I believe you're right.


WEILAND: I'm afraid I am, Blaine. Aintree - was murdered.


BLAINE: Murdered?


WEILAND: It wasn't you or I, Blaine. We've been together all morning. The two women were the only others in camp with the airmen this morning and-- Blaine! Mason and Tomaino, Casey, Swanson-- Great Scott, it must have been one of them!


BLAINE: One of them?


DO-RE-MI: Somebody come.


BLAINE: It's the women. Hold that door, Weiland!


SALLY: (BEHIND DOOR) What in the world are you boys doing in there?! Let us in!


WEILAND: Oh, please, Sally, Helen; don't come in!


SOUND: KNOCKING AT DOOR


HELEN: (ANNOYED) But of course I'll come in. What do you mean by holding the door of my cabin closed against me? Don't be ridiculous, Mr. Weiland. My husband's in there.


WEILAND: Helen, please wait. Something's happened.


HELEN: Something's happened? Then of course I'll come in. Weiland, let me by! Where's--? (SQUEALS WITH HORROR, HYSTERICAL) Richard! What's the matter with Richard?! Richard, what's happened to you?!


BLAINE: Easy, Helen. Easy. Easy there, old girl. Now, please-- Your husband was shot.


HELEN: (GASPS) Murdered! How?! When?!


WEILAND: There. There's the gun, Mrs. Aintree. It - it must have happened sometime before the plane took off this morning.


HELEN: (INSISTENT) Yes! Listen to me! Roger Mason did this!


SALLY: (INDIGNANT) Helen Aintree, how can you say such a thing?!


HELEN: Yes, your husband killed him! Only last night I heard him distinctly say to Richard, "I could kill a man for talking like that, Aintree!"


SALLY: Oh, that's ridiculous. Your husband said he'd sacrifice twenty pilots to develop one good engine and Roger grew angry. Roger told me about it.


HELEN: He killed Richard! He hated him always! And yet -- just before they took off this morning -- I saw Roger Mason run back into the shack.


WEILAND: That's right. I saw him, too. We all saw Mason come here.


SALLY: (FURIOUS) I'm terribly sorry Mr. Aintree is dead, but when you stand there and accuse Roger, I won't have it!


HELEN: It's true! Roger Mason knew he was leaving on this polar flight. Nobody could check up on him for days. Plenty of time to hide the evidence!


BLAINE: Helen, please!


DO-RE-MI: Mist' Blaine? Look. Here.


BLAINE: (ANNOYED) What is it?


DO-RE-MI: Mist' Aintree smoke cigar. Where is his cigar?


BLAINE: (MYSTIFIED) His cigar? Well-- Well, I don't see any cigar. What about it?


WEILAND: Why, that's right. He was smoking. (BEAT) There are ashes on the floor.


DO-RE-MI: Cigar gone. Someone take. Why someone take Mist' Aintree's cigar?


BLAINE: Blast it, we can't stand here babbling about a cigar butt! (SYMPATHETIC) Look here, Mrs. Aintree, will you please go? Go to your room. Help her along, Weiland.


WEILAND: (GENTLE) Come along, Mrs. Aintree.


HELEN: (AN OUTBURST, MOVING OFF) That woman's husband did it! Roger Mason did it! He did it!


SALLY: (TO BLAINE) Oh, what that woman says is preposterous.


BLAINE: I know, Sally. Sure.


SALLY: Oh, Roger wouldn't do a thing like this, just because he was angry. (HIGH-STRUNG) You - you don't believe it was Roger?


BLAINE: (REASSURING) There. Of course not. Please don't you get excited. One hysterical woman in the party is bad enough.


SALLY: (MOVING OFF) I'll go to my shack. I won't trouble you. Please let me know if anything happens.


SOUND: DOOR CLOSES


WEILAND: (RETURNS) Whew! This is fierce. All I could do to get Mrs. Aintree quieted.


DO-RE-MI: Fire in stove burning low. Why fire in stove burn low?


BLAINE: It was turned on full blast, that's why. Shake it up, will you, before it goes out?


DO-RE-MI: Why fire turn on full blast?


BLAINE: Confound it, Do-Re-Mi, fix that fire!


DO-RE-MI: Yes, Mist' Blaine.


SOUND: STOVE SHAKEN


WEILAND: Say, Blaine, look here. Aintree's blanket -- scattered all over with cigar ashes. What do you suppose did become of his cigar?


BLAINE: What could that have to do with it, man? (CHANGES SUBJECT) Listen, it does look a little black for Roger Mason. And you say Swanson had an automatic like this one?


WEILAND: Yes, I saw it. But, say--! Mason wasn't the only one to come to this shack. Casey came over here, too.


BLAINE: Jack Casey?


WEILAND: Sure. You remember? He wanted to write a letter to his mother, for someone to send her if they didn't get through.


BLAINE: That's right! Casey gave me the letter. But why should he kill Aintree?


WEILAND: Didn't he owe Aintree money or something? Gee, and for that matter, so did Tomaino. Say, you know what a terrific temper that Italian kid has. He could have done it, too. He went up to the store for a minute and he might have come to this shack.


BLAINE: The engine of that plane was roaring, warming up almost an hour before they got away.


WEILAND: Sure! It drowned the sound of the gunshot! Somebody planned this.


DO-RE-MI: Mist' Blaine--?


BLAINE: (IMPATIENT) What now?


DO-RE-MI: Look. Find this button in stove ashes.


WEILAND: Why, it's a glove button. The snap off a glove.


DO-RE-MI: No button in ash last night when I clean stove. Why glove button in ashes?


BLAINE: (EXASPERATED) Great Scott, how should we know?!


DO-RE-MI: Somebody turn stove on plenty hot to burn glove quick. That's how glove button come in ash.


BLAINE: Why should anyone want to get rid of a glove?


DO-RE-MI: Because glove already burned by cigar. Killer come, holding gun to shoot Mist' Aintree. Mist' Aintree hold up hand with cigar, scared. Cigar burn hole in killer's glove.


WEILAND: By George, that's an idea.


BLAINE: Weiland, we've gotta do something quick. The nearest police are three hundred miles away. Is your wireless outfit working?


WEILAND: It was this morning. We'll try it.


BLAINE: Well, we'll have to shoot a message through to Spitsbergen and hold those four men when they land. We've gotta stop 'em if we can.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, WIRELESS SET WARMS UP ... THEN BEEP-BEEP-BEEP OF MORSE CODE FOR A TRANSITION ... HUM OF WIRELESS CONTINUES IN BG


WEILAND: I got through to Spitsbergen, all right. The static is fierce. I can't seem to locate the plane, though.


BLAINE: Try to get the plane. Give her everything you've got.


WEILAND: You bet.


SOUND: KNOCKING AT DOOR


BLAINE: Who's that? Come in!


SALLY: (ENTERS, DISTRESSED) It's me. Oh, I can't stand it, waiting like this and thinking that Helen Aintree--


SOUND: BEEP-BEEP-BEEP OF MORSE CODE ... THEN IN BG 


WEILAND: Wait, wait! Here's something! That's Tomaino's call! Get it, Blaine! It's the plane! (BEAT, TRANSLATES) They're down.


SALLY: (ALARMED) What's happened to them?! What is it?!


WEILAND: (TRANSLATES) The plane is forced down on the ice. (BEAT, TRANSLATES) A hundred miles from the pole.


SOUND: WIRELESS ABRUPTLY OUT 


WEILAND: There goes the receiving set. (UP) They've smashed. She's down. Cracked up a wing in a forced landing.


BLAINE: They'll never come back.


SALLY: (MIXED CONFIDENCE AND FEAR) Oh, not them! They'll get back! Roger will get back. He's got to.


SOUND: TRANSITIONAL PAUSE ... THEN HEAVY WIND BLOWS ... THEN OUT BEHIND BLAINE--


BLAINE: (NARRATES) The next few hours were tense ones, believe me. We lost touch with the ship and couldn't get her again. Weiland and I stuck by the radio, Sally Mason waited bravely in her cabin, and Helen Aintree stayed by her dead husband who sat with the bloodstain spreading on his pocket in the room where the stove went cold. Here we were, four white people beyond the Arctic Circle, far from civilization; and further still, four more of us marooned on the ice; and, somewhere among us, a murderer. A terrible situation and a strange one. But, strangest of all, the little Eskimo named Do-Re-Mi.


SOUND: KNOCKING AT DOOR


DO-RE-MI: Mist' Blaine? Mist' Weiland? Can I come in?


WEILAND: Yes. What have you got now for us?


DO-RE-MI: I been think', Mist' Blaine. Find out way to catch who kill Mist' Aintree.


BLAINE &

WEILAND: How?


DO-RE-MI: One who kill Mist' Aintree burn glove on Mist' Aintree's cigar, then burn up glove in stove. All of us have gloves because it is cold. Now, Mist' Weiland have picture box. He take picture of everybody just before plane start. One in picture have only one glove, yes? He who have only one glove - kill Mist' Aintree.


BLAINE: He's got it, Weiland! It would be in that photograph you took! Great Scott, can you develop that plate?


WEILAND: (EXCITED, RAPIDLY) Yes! Sure! I've got all the dope right here! Hold this stuff. We'll have that picture in thirty minutes. Hold this. Here's the plate. Hold it.


SOUND: AIRPLANE ENGINE APPROACHES FROM OFF ... THEN IN BG


BLAINE: Weiland, listen! What's that?!


WEILAND: (BEAT) It's a plane!


BLAINE: Motors! It's a ship! (BEAT) It's their ship!


WEILAND: Get out of my way!


BLAINE: Watch out!


SOUND: CRASH! OF GLASS PLATE DROPPED AND BROKEN ON FLOOR ... TRANSITIONAL PAUSE ... THEN AIRPLANE ENGINE ... THEN OUT BEHIND BLAINE--


BLAINE: (NARRATES) The photographic plate -- our one clue! -- smashed on the floor, knocked from my hand by Weiland's dash from the door. We stumbled out to the field in time to see the great silver ship make a splendid landing. I could see where the damaged wing had been crudely repaired. I could see Swanson, Tomaino, Casey, and Mason -- oil-stained and grinning -- leap to the ground. Sally Mason, arms outstretched, fled across the snow to greet them.


SOUND: SALLY ("Roger!") AND THE AIRMEN EXCHANGE HAPPY GREETINGS ... THEN MOVE OFF BEHIND--


BLAINE: (NARRATES) Weiland and I, we stood watching -- watched the little crowd march off towards Sally's shack. And then the unexpected happened.


SOUND: AIRPLANE ENGINE ROARS ... AIRPLANE TAKES OFF AND RECEDES INTO DISTANCE DURING FOLLOWING--


WEILAND: Say, look! Look, the plane! It's starting up by itself!


BLAINE: Who's in there?! Stop it!


WEILAND: It's moving!


SOUND: FROM OFF, SALLY AND THE AIRMEN MURMUR CONFUSION


WEILAND: Hey, who is taking that plane?


BLAINE: Helen Aintree! Stop her! Stop that plane! There it goes!


DO-RE-MI: (GRIM) No can stop now. She know. I know, too. Cold, ice, dark -- make Eskimo know things. She no like husband. He too old. She think plane and men no come back from north. She take chance; kill husband; make four men look guilty. Good chance, but she lose. Now she take chance; run away. And she looooose againnnnnn. (FADES OUT)


BLAINE: (NARRATES) Do-Re-Mi pointed to the sky where the silver ship was fleeing. In the shocked silence, the rest of us stared. The midnight sun was darkening. Clouds were swarming on the western horizon. The first freezing flakes of a coming blizzard whipped about us as we watched and the plane was blotted from the sky.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, FADE IN HEAVY WIND ... UP AND OUT


MUSIC: FOR CLOSING ... IN AND BEHIND ANNOUNCER--


ANNOUNCER: Redbook Magazine gave us special permission to broadcast this story, "Under the Midnight Sun," written by Ferrin Fraser. Next week at this same time, we take pleasure in announcing that we will present another story in dramatic form from Redbook Magazine.


MUSIC: UP AND OUT

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