Nell - 25 years old
Maude Clare - 30 years old
Thomas - 30 years old
Mother - mid-fifties
A expansive drawing room in an old country house which reeks of
former grandeur; dust covers every surface. The window is frosted
over and there is the pale glow of dawn spreading around the
room. There is a fireplace opposite the window which is
completely clear of firewood, the rich crimson carpet is stained
with port and coated in dust. On a small table between two
worn-looking sofas are cards arranged in an odd formation, also
coated in a layer of dust, thinner than that on the table. A
peculiar black telephone with a green cord and a wheel stood
solitary on the floor in the corner of the room, the surrounding
carpet's dust was absent and telephone is polished. The place
seems abandoned and mournful despite it being Christmas morning.
The air is crisp and cold, mirroring the atmosphere of the
out of the window. To herself, whispering)- I can hear his
screams, constantly, quiet as the tiptoeing mouse and yet I still
hear them. His anguish, his beautiful, delicate, cruel anguish is
crying out for someone to understand. I understand. I understand,
perhaps more than he does. I cannot say, I cannot tell. Oh, how I
wish to -
The phone rings
Ah. Nell. I hope your health is good. Put Thomas on won't you?
Nell - Yes, ma'am. Merry Christmas to you.
Mother - Certainly it is.
Thomas! Thomas! There is a telephone call for you.
almost to himself)- Who? Is it…? It can't be.
Nell - It's Mother. You were expecting…her?
delight)- My son! Oh a splendid morning, I see the frost
melting in the golden sun and rising to a mist. No snow, of course,
though I often prefer a mere smattering of frost, as you know. Your
father is bed-ridden with a mild cold. I'd say it's an affliction
of the mind - the sniffles! Merry Christmas, my Thomas, and what
plans have you?
grumpy)- Plans? Well.
Mother - Well? Were you not married a year ago today? Was it not my
own husband, your father, and I who stood outside the Chapel in the
bitter snow, whilst you rode away in your carriage? We stayed to
clean up your mess, to sweep your whores under the rug -
Thomas - Mother! I love -
Mother - Do not speak to me of love, I care not for it. It is an
affliction as common as the sniffles. Now, I hear - from Mrs
Brannigan your gardener's wife no less - Nell is no longer good
enough for you! The monied girl indeed! Do not forget who you are,
Thomas. You are no King, nor even a rich merchant. We are a humble
family and everything I have done for you… Do not squander it all
on wretched peasant.
Thomas - Of course, no - I won't.(Pause.
Bitterly)I would be a fool to ever love.
Mother - Do not humour me! You think me easy to con; I won't be
deceived by your nonsense. Nell may be a plain girl with an ugly
sentiment; my appraisal of her has never been high. None of that
matters though, my dear son, she has the status, the wealth, to
raise your position greatly, just as the sun lifts the lowly
almost frenzied)- Only to dissipate into mist and back again
into frost and come the summer it will rain down upon the shells
and trickle down to the shore only to be food for the growing fish;
it's all water after all.
Mother - Fanciful fairytales; dragons, princes, castles, love… I
should not have told you those stories. Now, this marriage of
yours, you must consummate it - she will be willing and you will do
Thomas - I will. Will I? Goodbye, Mother.(Puts
down phone, exitMother)
You love me? Or another? While you comprehend your feelings I shall
sew, I shall cook, I shall clean and I shall grovel. No maids, no
servants… Do you not know who I am? Or perhaps you do not want to
Thomas - You don't have to grovel.
I've been grovelling ever since I met you. First for love, oh yes,
I polished my face with the earnest nature of a serving girl
polishing the oft beaten floor. I thought you were tempted by the
glow of a fresh maiden, I thought we were to dance upon pure
mahogany floors. Wrong. I was wrong.
Thomas - Hush. Let us walk. It's Christmas after all. I'll pack the
hamper and we will walk to the beck and -
But not dance?
Thomas - What would it be; the Waltz? The Minuet? Ha.
Nell - You're not the only victim here! I feel trapped and lonely
too, I can't breathe in this house because the very air is clogged
with your loathing.