The sound of
hurried footsteps is heard from off stage and a breathless voice
Oh, I can't
believe how late we are! I shudder to think of what the Atkinsons
shall think of us now!
one man, one woman, and one young girl hastily enter and make
towards the front door of a mansion from the 1800s. They are
dressed in the fashion of that time as if to go to a formal
party. The man is on the larger side and appears to be in his
late forties. The woman, also in her late 40s, is plain looking,
perhaps a little worn or wilted. The girl is pale with freckles,
long wavy fair hair and hazel eyes. She is skinny, of average
height and eighteen. It is twilight.
can't imagine why they invited us at all really. It's not as if
we are their social equals. We are just a humble folk.
are their neighbors, dear. (Stresses "are" and reaches up to
knock on the door) Perhaps they are just being
speaking is straightening her mussed hair and clothes from their
hasty journey there) I suppose we have been invited to tea a
number of times over the last couple decades but we have never
been invited to a formal party and this is the most anticipated
party of the season. I can't bear to imagine how society's
opinion of us shall fall after tonight. We don't even have proper
formal dresses! (Pauses) Well. In any case, (In a
more cheerful tone) I have heard tell that Mr. Ainsley shall
be present this evening. Won't that be nice Sophia?
Oh, Mother . .
. (Begins to object but is cut off before she is even given
the chance to begin)
evening won't be a total loss. He seems quite interested in you,
Sophia. Perhaps he shall ask for your hand in marriage! (Is
considerably brightened by the prospect of having her daughter
marry, what she believes to be, such a fine man.)
about to object, again, when the door is opened and they are
waved in by the butler.
fade to black.
back up to show a bright, crowded room adjoined to another that
appears to be the dining area. The Grangers are led on stage by
the butler who, after a curt bow announces to room:
Mister, Misses, and Miss Granger.
gives another curt bow then quickly departs leaving the Grangers
feeling very much alone and out of place. Before long, however, a
large, happy woman comes to their rescue.
Atkinson: Mr. and Mrs.
Granger! Sophia! How pleased I am to see you have arrived! We
were just beginning to wonder if, perhaps, you had gotten lost on
the way over! (Laughs at her joke, the Grangers chuckle
am terribly sorry! Our tardiness is inexcusable . . .
Atkinson: Nonsense! Your
timing is impeccable! In fact, not a moment ago a young man was
inquiring as to your whereabouts, Sophia. (Says with a smile
and mischievous gleam in her eyes) Come, I shall bring you
over to him!
lights up with a proud smile and looks at Sophia with untold
happiness while Sophia looks visibly distressed and not a little
annoyed as the family is drawn deeper into the room toward a
small group of people in the corner. Among them is a young man
talking enthusiastically to the group before him with his back to
the newcomers. There is also an equally enthusiastic, but
superficial, pretty girl hanging on his every word. Meanwhile, a
greasy, expensively dressed man notices the additions to the
party and, politely excusing himself from the group with whom he
had been conversing, starts making his way over to
Atkinson: Oh Richie,
dear! (Crows happily. The young man turns around toward
annoyed and slightly embarrassed) Please, don't call me that
Mother. I'm not . . . (stops speaking when he notices Sophia
and a look of shock and wonder at her beauty crosses his face as
he stares at her. Sophia stops walking when she realizes who it
is and a stunned surprised look crosses hers.)
pleased with herself and oblivious to the strong reaction of
Richard and Sophia continues on like everything was normal)
Look who has just arrived! The Grangers! What perfect timing they
have, haven't they?
suppose. (With distain and looks the Grangers up and down
with an expression of discuss on her face and her nose in the air
as it they smell) If you consider tardiness in good
out of his stupor and looks at Sylvia with a frown that clearly
shows he thought better of her, then, dismissing it, turns back
to Sophia) Sophia, Mr. and Mrs. Granger, this is Sylvia . .
fiancée. (Says snobbishly, instantly against Sophia, sensing
there is something between her and Richard. Richard looks to her
when she speaks but only slightly and his head instantly snaps
back to Sophia, anxious to see her reaction to this)
Congratulations! (Oblivious to the drama playing out around
her as a flicker of shock and disappointment passes across
(Almost sincerely. Turns back towards the couple not yet
introduced. They are both tall and proper, dressed in very
formal, expensive clothing. They have their noses pointed
up.) These are my parents Edward and Annabelle
Mr. and Mrs.
Campbell: (Nod their
heads in acknowledgment)
back, is almost a bow) It's a pleasure to make your
expensively dressed man comes up behind the group and is about to
call attention to his presence when Mrs. Atkinson saves him the
Atkinson: Ah! Mr.
turn towards him. Mr. Ainsley makes eye contact with Sophia. She
gets flustered and blushes, not from pleasure but more annoyance.
Richard notices but misreads her reaction.
Atkinson: Please forgive
me, but have you yet had the pleasure of meeting the
close to Sophia as you would a partner) No! I have not yet
had the pleasure and (reaching forward from his possessive
position he had claimed behind Sophia to shake Mr. Campbell's
hand) might I say what a pleasure it truly is.
(Superficially, not sarcastically. As if to suck up to
Campbell: Why thank you
young man. Our meeting has been quite pleasurable indeed!
The two shake
hands and Mr. Ainsley, showing respect by tilting his head to Mr.
Campbell, returns to his position behind Sophia.
Atkinson: And this is my
eldest son Richard. (Richard and Mr. Ainsley give each other
curt nods, there is an instant hostility between the two)
His brother, Louis, is conversing with the Burnetts. (Motions
to the group of people on the other side of the room.) He is
studying to be a lawyer. (Proudly)
Ainsley: Ah! A man of
law! I myself am of that profession. I should very much like to
meet him. Sophia, would you care to join me?
sure how to respond at first)
Granger: Of course she
up as she goes along, does not believe what she is saying is
true. It's just an excuse.) I do apologize, but, in truth, I
do not understand all the complicated matters of running a
country and would find myself lost in the conversation of it.
Please don't refrain from conversing on your interests on my
Ainsley: Well, then if
I may, I shall take my leave of you fine people for the time
being. (Shoots Richard a glare as he turns away. Richard,
having "won that round" is brightened)
Campbell: Well done, my
dear. It is not a woman's place to be involved in the affairs of
back an argument, just nods as if to agree)
There is a
slight, awkward pause where everyone is staring at each other
the tension, quickly changes the subject and tone) You're
sure to be wondering where Richard has been these past three
years. (Seems kind of embarrassed. Acts as if she is telling
some great secret) To tell you the truth, he has been in New
Jersey studying to become a teacher. It wasn't our first choice
for him (directs this statement to Richard almost
accusingly) but that is what he wanted to do and we want him
to be happy. (Smiles fondly at Richard.)
out of the corner of her mouth to Sophia) And of course it
has nothing to do with him marrying into the richest family in
all of Pennsylvania.
says slowly trying to figure out why she would think
otherwise) Yes, we've heard.
Oh, really. ("Do tell")
Sophia have been corresponding over the past few years. We have
heard all about Richard's adventures far from home. (Pause,
still confused) Didn't you know?
excluding the Grangers who just look confused, turns to Richard
and Sophia looking shocked and a little hostile. Neither Richard
nor Sophia knows what to say. Sophia shoots Richard an apologetic
look and Richard just looks like he had just been accused of
defense) I'm sure they meant nothing more by it than as
friends. They did grow up together after all.
Yes, they were about nothing more than our health and daily
course! (Sarcastically, "as if")
Well . . . I . . .
as if speaking to a young child) Exactly. You are a nobody.
A lowly, mediocre, naïve, little girl who is after the Atkinson's
staring at Sylvia as she says this. Shocked that she would say
such a thing.
(Turns to Richard and speaks directly to him) Richard,
we shall speak of this later. In the meantime I do believe it is
about time to begin sitting to dinner.
his head, shamefully, shows his inability to defy his mother,
nods meekly, and begins walking with Sylvia on his arm to the
dining hall without a backward glance at Sophia. The Campbells,
Grangers and Mrs. Atkinson walk just behind them.)
watches him go sadly and hears Sylvia.
disagreeable people. I can't imagine why you would write to such
an uncivilized little girl. (Stands right up against him, and
reaches up and brushes her hand against his cheek while looking
up at him adoringly.)
Sophia takes a
deep breath and hurries to catch up with her parents.
black then come back up in a long dining room. People are milling
about and slowly finding their way to their seats. The Campbells
are in the process of sitting down at the far end of the table
with Sylvia and Richard. Mr. Ainsley and Louis are seen standing
out of the way, near a corner or wall with drinks in their hands
talking seriously about, it may be presumed, law and government.
Mr. Ainsley notices Sophia's entrance and says something unheard
to Louis who then turns to a group near him and begins conversing
with them. Mr. Ainsley begins to make his way towards Sophia.
Sophia, having entered after her parents and Mrs. Atkinson had
not quite met up with them yet and hurried to the afore mentioned
group when she saw Mr. Ainsley was coming towards her. She had
almost made it when Mr. Ainsley called her name.
slowly turns toward him. Formally.) Mr. Ainsley.
Ainsley: Sophia. I must
say you look absolutely stunning this evening. You are by far the
most beautify young lady in attendance.
. . .
her) No! You are too modest! I have been enchanted by you
all evening and before that even. For some time now I have been
admiring you and I can no longer contain my love for you. Sophia,
you are beautiful, kind, generous, agreeable and many more
wonderful traits that many, including myself, shall never
achieve. (Goes down on one knee) Sophia, (Looking up
at her) please, will you do me the great pleasure of
accepting my hand in marriage?
and him and then is about to say something but Mr. Ainsley cuts
Ainsley: I do not think
I could bear to live apart from you a moment longer!
I'm sor . .
Ainsley: You are the
wind beneath my wings. The . . .
. . . !
dramatically falls to the floor in a pretended, yet believable
feint. The people nearest her and Mr. Ainsley hurry to her aid,
concerned. Mr. Ainsley, is stunned for a moment but quickly
recovers himself and reaches to help lift her. Richard, who had
by this point reached his seat stood up in alarm. He is heard
yelling her name as the lights fade to black.
back up with Sophia lying atop her bed covers with her mother
sitting beside her, holding her hand. Mr. Ainsley, and another
man are just leaving after helping to bring her upstairs. There
is a lit candle on the night table. A few moments after Sophia
hears the door close, to be sure to not appear to be faking, she
begins to stir. Her mother helps her sit up,
my dear! What a night! You were out for quite a time there!
(Says cheerfully as she helps Sophia up out of the bed and
behind her changing wall and unlaces her) But I am not
surprised in the slightest that you got all flustered and light
headed when Mr. Ainsley proposed! I myself did the very same
thing when your father asked my hand in marriage! But do not
worry Sophia. Mr. Ainsley shall return tomorrow for your answer!
He has not been discouraged in the slightest by your overzealous
reaction! In fact he seemed to be quite pleased to have induced
such a flutter in your heart! Such a gentleman he is! And
sensitive! He wanted to make quite certain that you would be well
and did not require a physician. (Pauses.) Oh! I am all
in a fluster over this whole business! (Stresses
Sophia has now
remove her formal dress and she then emerges from behind it in
into bed with you. Tomorrow, we shall have Mr. Ainsley over for
tea and you must look your best for him. (Kisses Sophia on
the cheek and gives her a quick, tight hug then disappears
through the door.)
and flops down, backwards, onto her bed. She rolls over and pulls
out a bundle of letters from under her pillow. She reads through
a few of them, her lips moving as she does so:
offstage.)". . . fact
is, I usually detest writing letters but I am so anxious to keep
in touch with you . . . your letter this morning worked wonders.
I'm cheerful again! . . . I took a rest and saw visions of blue
eyes and a dimple and a little mouth that seems to twitch and
tremble at times . . .it's going to be awfully difficult to get
along with only a few letters . . . don't know what word to use
in closing there are so many that would be fitting . . .
Sincerely, Richard. "
fade to black.
lights come back up the lighting is different to show the passage
of time. The candle that had been left on is now burnt out.
Sophia sits up confused, looks around her, and then realizes she
must have fallen asleep where she lay. There is a sharp tap and
Sophia starts. A moment later there is another tap, like the
sound of a rock hitting the window and Sophia stands up and,
hesitantly walks over to her window. She slightly pulls back the
wispy curtain and peeks around it. There, leaning against the
large black wrought iron fence to the Atkinsons property is
Richard himself. She gasps and lets the curtain fall back in
place. She looks torn and anticipating then, as if overcoming
something insider her, pulls the curtain back again. Richard,
upon seeing her, breaks out into a huge lopsided grin and waves.
Sophia, suddenly self-conscious, shyly returns a small smile
while pushing a stray lock of hair back behind her ear. Richard
motions for her to come down and, after only a moment of
hesitation, quickly nods and disappears behind the curtain.
Sophia turns toward her room after a small pause begins to
should I do? Should I go like this? Or get dressed? I can't go in
my nightdress, can I? Why am I getting so worked up over this? I
have known Richard forever! What does it matter what I wear?
(And with that she hurried over to her night table, ran a
comb through her hair a couple of times, and checked her
appearance in the mirror briefly before running out her door.
Seconds later she is out the house and around to the back where
Richard is still leaning against the gate. Sophia comes to a halt
when she sees him. They stare at each other.)
towards her until there is only a few feet between
down in guilt.) I'm so sorry. (Sighs then looks back
up.) I should have never written to you. (Looks down
again in shame.)
I'm glad you
did. (With a small smile.)
beautiful this evening.
There is a
pause where they both seem unsure of what to say.
So . . . do you plan to accept Mr. Ainsley?
that he has to ask.) Never. My
mother is convinced that he is the best suitor for me since he
will be able to care for me, not to mention her, but he is so . .
. (Shakes head) I could never.
But, I thought . . . You don't love him?
Whatever gave you that idea?
to explain but doesn't seem to come up with
another awkward pause.
changing the subject.) This reminds me of the time we snuck
out to see the fireflies in the Burnetts field. Do you remember
that? It was years ago . . .
Yes. I had just turned eight. My grandma had given me a new night
shirt that I'd worn to bed for the first time. By the time we got
back it was ruined and I got in such trouble after!
course! That was why you couldn't play for so long after that!
(Instantly sobered) It felt kind of like these past
three years. (Pauses) Why did you not tell me you were
don't know. I . . . I guess I figured I wouldn't get to see you .
. . maybe I didn't want to face you . . . (Last phrase very
away) Sylvia. You never told me about Sylvia.
her. I only agreed to marry her because my parents said they
would support my decision to become a teacher if I married into
the Campbell family. I never felt anything for her . . . and then
I saw you tonight . . . and I . . . I can't do it anymore.
Oh. Well, how long are you here for?
I leave in the morning.
another pause in the conversation. Then Richard steps closer to
Sophia and takes her hands in his.
as if afraid of the answer) Come with me.
and speechless, takes a step back)
Come with me.
We wouldn't have much but it would be enough. We could have a
little house on the ocean with a small garden and no strict
parents to tell us who to be with and what to do. We would have
each other. (Pleading)
don't know, I . . . my parents would never speak to me again . .
. I don't know if . . . if I . . . (Torn and choked
directly in her eyes) Please. Sophia . . . I love
down, eyes teary, shaking her head)
Please! I love
you! I have always loved you. (His hands are on her shoulders
out) I love you, too.
Then come away
with me! Come away with me, Sophia!
up, searchingly, into Richards eyes. Richard stares back, waiting
with bated breath for her answer. She seems to calm down and
realize the truth from the sincerity in Richard's eyes. Sophia
looks down to compose herself before her answer then looks back
up at him.
entirety seems to light up and a broad smile emerges across his
face. Sophia smiles too and laughs with joy as she
down and kisses her on the lips through his smile. Lights go