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William Wilson

The Rudy Vallee Hour 

William Wilson

Sep 08 1938






CAST:

HOST, Rudy Vallee

1ST WILLIAM WILSON

2ND WILLIAM WILSON, ghostly

INNKEEP (1 line)

GLENDINNING

PRESTON

CARLSON

FRANCESCA

and a few CARD PLAYERS, PARTY GUESTS, and ONLOOKERS






MUSIC: ... GRAND FANFARE ... THEN BEHIND HOST--


HOST: Presenting Maurice Evans in "William Wilson," dramatized by William Bowen from the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name. Mr. Evans, whose performances over the past three years have won for him a position at the top of the international theater, is currently rehearsing his marathon production of "Hamlet," the new season's first major event and the first time New York has seen an uncut version of the tragedy. Tonight he plays both leading roles in the remarkable story you are about to hear. Maurice Evans in "William Wilson."


SOUND: APPLAUSE BEHIND--


MUSIC: UP, FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND WILSON--


1ST WILSON: (NARRATES) My name is William Wilson, and this is my story. In relating it, I would fain have my fellow men believe that I've been in some measure the slave of circumstances beyond human control. I first encountered my singular namesake in the year Eighteen Eighteen. At an early age, I'd given myself up to wine and its diabolical influence. Late one night, I found myself alone, save for the innkeep, in a public house on the outskirts of London. I say I was alone for so it seemed to me, though I cannot be certain since I was intoxicated. I had just emptied my glass and was calling for more wine-- (FADES)


SOUND: BANG-BANG-BANG OF CUP ON TABLE


1ST WILSON: (CALLS) Innkeep?! Innkeep?! More wine! Be quick about it!


SOUND: EERIE WIND EFFECT


1ST WILSON: (TO HIMSELF, SLURRING HIS WORDS DRUNKENLY) Devil take the place! Cold as ice! Shew! Where does the blasted wind come from? Odd sort of place. Wind comes up from nowhere. (CALLS) Innkeep?!


SOUND: BANG-BANG-BANG OF CUP ON TABLE


1ST WILSON: (CALLS) More wine!


SOUND: BANG OF CUP ON TABLE


2ND WILSON: I beg your pardon.


1ST WILSON: I called for the innkeep. Who the devil are you? Where did you come from?


2ND WILSON: I am William Wilson.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN UNEASY IN BG


1ST WILSON: (LAUGHS DARKLY) Feeble wit, sir -- since I am William Wilson! Enough of this poor joke. Who are you? Why do you mock me?


2ND WILSON: I am William Wilson.


1ST WILSON: By heaven, you carry impudence too far. Speak, man. Who sent you to mock me so?


2ND WILSON: It is my duty.


1ST WILSON: Of what duty do you speak?


2ND WILSON: To warn you that you have drunk too much. Persist in your foolishness and disaster will overtake you. Good night, William Wilson.


MUSIC: FADES OUT


1ST WILSON: Wait! Wait a moment!


SOUND: EERIE WIND EFFECT ... DOOR SLAMS 


1ST WILSON: (TO HIMSELF) What the devil? Who could he be? His voice echoes my own. Am I dreaming? Is wine besotting my imagination? (GRUNTS) Strange. Strange. Must need a drink. (CALLS) Innkeep?!


SOUND: BANG-BANG-BANG OF CUP ON TABLE


1ST WILSON: Innkeep?! More wine!


INNKEEP: (APPROACHES) Coming! Coming, sir!


MUSIC: IN AND BEHIND WILSON--


1ST WILSON: (NARRATES) Evidence multiplied that I'd neither dreamt nor imagined this strange incident. But to proceed. I soon forgot my singular namesake in planning my departure for Oxford. There, I manipulated cards and acquired large sums of money from gullible fellow collegians. I soon marked out Glendinning, a wealthy and weak-minded nobleman, as my especial prey. We engaged in play and, with my gambler's art, I let him win -- only to ensnare him when ripe. At length, I arranged a meeting which should be final and decisive at the chambers of a fellow commoner, Mr. Preston. Late at night, the other players, having lost heavily to me, dropped from the game -- all except Glendinning who stubbornly insisted he could recoup his losses. (FADES OUT)


GLENDINNING: (FADES IN, DISTRESSED) --got to get back; it's bound to change, this luck.


PRESTON: The man's luck is fantastic! The gods are with you tonight, Wilson!


1ST WILSON: What stakes do you suggest, Glendinning? This is your last opportunity.


GLENDINNING: I owe you how much, Wilson?


1ST WILSON: Exactly four hundred pounds. What amount do you name for this deal?


GLENDINNING: Double or nothing!


PRESTON: (ALARMED, TO GLENDINNING) Man, you may lose! There's four thousand [sic] pounds to think of.


GLENDINNING: Luck's got to change. What do you say, Wilson?


1ST WILSON: (CAGEY) Mmm, it's a large sum for one deal.


GLENDINNING: Come on, man! You've had all the luck! Are you willing or not?


1ST WILSON: Done! One deal, eight hundred pounds.


GLENDINNING: Or not a tuppence!


1ST WILSON: Exactly.


PRESTON: Glendinning, you're mad!


SOUND: CARD PLAYERS MURMUR


GLENDINNING: It's your deal, Wilson.


SOUND: CARDS SHUFFLED AND PLACED ON TABLE


1ST WILSON: Will you cut?


SOUND: CARDS CUT


GLENDINNING: There. May the devil bring me luck.


SOUND: FOUR CARDS DEALT


1ST WILSON: How many cards?


GLENDINNING: One.


SOUND: ONE CARD DEALT


1ST WILSON: There. And I shall also take -- one.


SOUND: ONE CARD DEALT ... PLAYERS MURMUR


GLENDINNING: (LOUDLY TRIUMPHANT) There!


SOUND: GLENDINNING SLAPS HIS HAND DOWN ON THE TABLE


GLENDINNING: The devil's good to me! Twenty, blast it! You'll have a time beating that, Wilson!


1ST WILSON: Sorry to disappoint you, Glendinning, but I seem to have--


SOUND: WILSON SLAPS HIS HAND DOWN ON THE TABLE


1ST WILSON: (QUIETLY TRIUMPHANT) Twenty-one.


SOUND: PLAYERS MURMUR


PRESTON: It's not possible!


GLENDINNING: (BROKENLY) Eight hundred pounds! I-- How shall I ever pay it?! What shall I do?


1ST WILSON: (SMUGLY) I should appreciate your cheque for that amount, Glendinning.


GLENDINNING: (STAMMERS) But I tell you, I don't know what to do! This'll ruin me, Wilson!


1ST WILSON: Sorry, Glendinning, but I took an equal chance.


SOUND: EERIE WIND EFFECT ... DOOR OPENS OFF


MUSIC: UNEASY ... IN BG


PRESTON: What the devil? Who opened the door?


CARLSON: Candles blew out. It's pitch dark.


PRESTON: I can't see a thing. (CALLS) Banks? Where are you?


CARLSON: Thought I felt someone brush past me. Where are the lights?


2ND WILSON: Gentlemen, I trust I have not startled you too much.


CARLSON: Who spoke just then?


PRESTON: Sounded like Wilson. Did you speak, Wilson?


1ST WILSON: (UNEASY) No, I - I did not. Not a word.


PRESTON: Where the devil is Banks? We must have lights!


2ND WILSON: I see I have disturbed you, gentlemen. But I am only fulfilling my duty. You do not know the true character of the person who has won so heavily from Lord Glendinning. I will enlighten you. Examine the inner lining of his left sleeve and the several little packages which may be found in the pockets of his morning wrapper.


1ST WILSON: No! No, no, he lies!


SOUND: EERIE WIND EFFECT ... DOOR SLAMS


MUSIC: OUT


GLENDINNING: He's gone.


PRESTON: Came and went like - like a ghost.


GLENDINNING: Who was the man? His voice sounded hollow. Like a grave.


CARLSON: What do you say to this, Wilson?


1ST WILSON: I - I don't know. I--


CARLSON: Perhaps, Wilson, you can explain this accusation -- as cleverly as you have dealt your cards.


1ST WILSON: I tell you, I-- The man must be mad!


GLENDINNING: I shall explain it for myself. Help me hold him, Carlson. Get the light, Preston!


SOUND: SCUFFLE! AS THE PLAYERS GRAB WILSON


1ST WILSON: Let go! Let go, I tell you! He lies!


PRESTON: Here's the light. Now we shall see.


1ST WILSON: You're tearing my coat, you fools!


GLENDINNING: There is your evidence -- neatly tucked in the lining of his sleeve!


SOUND: PLAYERS MURMUR


1ST WILSON: Well, I-- I'm not [?]


CARLSON: Mr. Wilson, the reason for your card skill is evident. You will, of course, quit Oxford and leave these chambers at once.


1ST WILSON: (BEAT, DEFEATED) As you wish.


SOUND: WILSON'S FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR, WHICH OPENS AND SHUTS


MUSIC: IN AND BEHIND WILSON--


1ST WILSON: (NARRATES) Abased, humiliated, I fled -- but in vain. My evil destiny pursued me. Scarcely had I arrived in Paris before I had fresh evidence of the detestable interest taken by this "Wilson" in my concerns. Passing years brought no relief. Indeed, the destroyer of my honor at Oxford thwarted my ambition at Rome, my revenge at Paris, my passionate love at Cairo. I fled, panic-stricken, from this inscrutable tyranny as from a pestilence. But I fled in vain.


MUSIC: CHANGES TO FESTIVE WALTZ ... UP AND UNDER


SOUND: PARTY BACKGROUND ... GUESTS MURMUR BEHIND WILSON--


1ST WILSON: (NARRATES) At Naples, during the Carnival, I attended the Duke Di Broglio's masquerade. Here, I planned my last desperate effort to win back my fortune. The affections of Francesca, the beautiful young wife of the aged and doting duke, were my tools. She had previously confided to me that her costume would be that of Juliet. Seeing her, I hurried to make my way to her presence. (CALLS) Francesca!


FRANCESCA: (GAILY) Pray, why do you call me Francesca? Is my gown not that of Juliet?


1ST WILSON: (LOVINGLY) Francesca, Francesca. Even with that mask over your lovely eyes, I recognize you.


FRANCESCA: (LOW) Soft, man. We must be careful. Someone may be watching. The duke is jealous.


1ST WILSON: I long to embrace you. Kiss your sweet lips. To tell you beautiful eternities.


FRANCESCA: Patience, my love -- and you shall have your wish.


1ST WILSON: Are you prepared to sail with me to France this night?


FRANCESCA: Just as we planned!


1ST WILSON: And -- the duke?


FRANCESCA: He suspects nothing. By morning, he will be sodden with wine.


MUSIC: WALTZ ENDS 


1ST WILSON: (CHUCKLES) Excellent. And the jewels?


FRANCESCA: They're here in this box. They're worth a great fortune.


1ST WILSON: 'Tis arranged. I shall dispose of them tonight. Then, Francesca, you and I -- to Paris! -- where there is no time, no cares. Only you and I and a world to amuse us. Give me the jewel box. We'll meet as planned, my beloved.


SOUND: EERIE WIND EFFECT 


FRANCESCA: (GASPS) Oh.


1ST WILSON: What is it, Francesca? You tremble.


FRANCESCA: I - I felt a sudden chill. It will pass.


1ST WILSON: Shall I fetch your cloak?


FRANCESCA: No, no, it's nothing.


1ST WILSON: Then au revoir, my sweet.


FRANCESCA: Wait! Who is that man approaching us costumed like yourself?


1ST WILSON: (BEAT, DISTRESSED) Do not notice him!


FRANCESCA: You seem frightened. Is he an enemy? Why do you pale?


1ST WILSON: Hah! Absurd! 


FRANCESCA: Quiet. He's about to speak.


2ND WILSON: My unheralded approach disturbs you, but I make no apology. I do but do my duty.


FRANCESCA: Who are you, sir?


2ND WILSON: I am William Wilson.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN UNEASY IN BG


1ST WILSON: Francesca! We must go!


FRANCESCA: Wait! (TO 2ND WILSON) Why do you say you are William Wilson? This gentlemen is William Wilson.


2ND WILSON: That is my name.


1ST WILSON: Mocks, Francesca! He's my enemy! Seeks to destroy me! Let's go before it is too late!


FRANCESCA: Your impatience ill becomes you. I would know more of your namesake; your prototype. (TO 2ND WILSON) Continue, sir.


2ND WILSON: Duchess, you know not the true character of this man with whom you expect to flee. He plans to leave alone. Ask him to produce two tickets for passage to France. He will be unable.


1ST WILSON: Francesca, he lies! You mustn't listen! You mustn't!


FRANCESCA: (TO 2ND WILSON) Pray continue, sir. Your information interests me.


2ND WILSON: He plans to sell your jewels and then embark for Spain -- and alone.


1ST WILSON: Scoundrel! Impostor! 'Cursed villain, you shall not - you shall not dog me unto death!


SOUND: SWORD DRAWN QUICKLY


1ST WILSON: Draw and defend yourself, or I stab you where you stand!


FRANCESCA: Then he has spoken the truth! Your rage confesses your guilt!


2ND WILSON: If I must, then so be it.


SOUND: SWORD DRAWN SLOWLY ... SWORD FIGHT COMMENCES ... CONTINUES IN BG


MUSIC: FOR A SWORD FIGHT ... IN BG


FRANCESCA: (HORRIFIED) Oh-- No! No!


1ST WILSON: Thy time has come, you fiendish [mockery?]! This sword shall find your heart!


FRANCESCA: Stop! Stop, you mustn't! You must stop!


1ST WILSON: One of us must die!


FRANCESCA: No! I beg you!


1ST WILSON: Ah, what do you say now, my 'cursed nemesis?! Your back is to the wall! (A FINAL THRUST) Here, blast you!


SOUND: SWORD FIGHT ENDS


MUSIC: OUT


SOUND: 2ND WILSON COLLAPSES 


FRANCESCA: (WAILS UNHAPPILY)


1ST WILSON: Now you shall not haunt me to my grave.


FRANCESCA: (TEARFUL) He's bleeding! Send for a doctor, quickly! Quickly!


SOUND: BRIEF MURMUR OF A FEW ONLOOKERS WHO HAVE QUICKLY GATHERED


1ST WILSON: Too late, too late, he's dying!


FRANCESCA: His mask has fallen. (GASPS) Look!


1ST WILSON: (SHOCKED) His face--! His face--! It's my own!


MUSIC: UNEASY ... IN BG


2ND WILSON: You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforth art thou also dead -- dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist -- and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself!


MUSIC: UP, FOR A CURTAIN


SOUND: APPLAUSE ...

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