(The sound of hurried footsteps and
a breathless voice is heard from off stage)
Oh, I can't believe how late we
are! I shudder to think of what the Atkinsons shall think of us
(Three people, 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
(Continues as they enter)
I 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.
We are their neighbors, dear.
(Stresses "are" and reaches up to
knock on the door)
Perhaps they are just being
(While speaking is straightening
her mussed hair and clothes from their hasty journey
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, then in a more cheerful
Well. In any case, I have heard
tell that Mr. Ainsley shall be present this evening. Won't that
be nice Sophia?
Oh, Mother . . .
(Is considerably brightened by the
prospect of having her daughter marry, what she believes to be,
such a fine man.)
Perhaps this evening won't be a
total loss. He seems quite interested in you, Sophia. Perhaps he
shall ask for your hand in marriage!
(Sophia is about to object, again,
when the door is opened and they are waved in by the
Please come in.
(The lights fade to black.)
(Lights come 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.)
(After a curt bow announces to
A Mister, Misses, and Miss
(The butler 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.)
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 and the
Grangers chuckle nervously)
I am terribly sorry! Our tardiness is
inexcusable . . .
Nonsense! Your timing is impeccable!
In fact, not a moment ago a young man was inquiring as to your
(Says with a smile and mischievous
gleam in her eyes)
Come, I shall bring you over to
(Mrs. Granger 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 them.)
Oh Richie, dear!
(The young man turns around toward
(A little annoyed and slightly
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.)
(Quite 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?
(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.)
Yes, I suppose. If you consider
tardiness in good timing.
(Is jolted 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 . . .
(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
I'm his fiancée.
(Oblivious to the drama playing out
around her as a flicker of shock and disappointment passes across
(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
These are my parents Edward and
(Mr. and Mrs. Campbell nod their
heads in acknowledgment)
(Nods back, is almost a bow)
It's a pleasure to make your
(The greasy, expensively dressed
man comes up behind the group and is about to call attention to
his presence when Mrs. Atkinson saves him the trouble.)
Ah! Mr. Ainsley!
(The Grangers 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.)
Please forgive me, but have you yet
had the pleasure of meeting the Campbells?
(Standing close to Sophia as you
would a partner reaches forward from his possessive position he
had claimed behind Sophia to shake Mr. Campbell's hand.
Superficially, not sarcastically. As if to suck up to
No! I have not yet had the pleasure
and might I say what a pleasure it truly is.
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.)
And this is my eldest son
(Richard and Mr. Ainsley give each
other curt nods, there is an instant hostility between the
His brother, Louis, is conversing
with the Burnetts.
(Motions to the group of people on
the other side of the room. Proudly.)
He is studying to be a lawyer.
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?
(Sophia is speechless)
Of course she would!
(Making it up as she goes along,
does not believe what she is saying is true. It's just an
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 account,
(Shoots Richard a glare as he turns
away. Richard, having "won that round" is brightened)
Well, then if I may, I shall take my
leave of you fine people for the time being.
Well done, my dear. It is not a
woman's place to be involved in the affairs of law.
(Sophia, biting back an argument,
just nods as if to agree. Then there is a slight, awkward pause
where everyone is staring at each other without speaking.)
(Noticing the tension, quickly
changes the subject and tone. Acts as if she is telling some
You're sure to be wondering where
Richard has been these past three years. 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
but that is what he wanted to do
and we want him to be happy.
(whispers 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
(Confused, says slowly trying to
figure out why she would think otherwise.)
Yes, we've heard.
(Surprised. "Do tell")
Richard and 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?
(Everyone, 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 treason.)
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 occupations.
But, of course!
Well . . . But I . . .
(Looks around for help, finds
(Sweetly, as if speaking to a young
Exactly. You are a nobody. A lowly,
mediocre, naïve, little girl who is after the Atkinson's
(Richard is 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.
(Richard, lowering 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. Sophia watches him go
(As they leave, stands right up
against him, and reaches up and brushes her hand against his
cheek while looking up at him adoringly.)
What disagreeable people. I can't
imagine why you would write to such an uncivilized little
(Sophia takes a deep breath and
hurries to catch up with her parents.)
(Lights fade 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.)
(Stops and slowly turns toward him.
Sophia. I must say you look
absolutely stunning this evening. You are by far the most
beautify young lady in attendance.
Please, don't . . .
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
(Goes down on one knee)
Sophia, please, will you do me the
great pleasure of accepting my hand in marriage?
(Sophia stares at him and then is about to say
something but Mr. Ainsley cuts in)
I do not think I could bear to live
apart from you a moment longer!
I'm sor . . .
You are the wind beneath my wings.
The . . .
Oh . . . !
(Sophia 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.)
(Lights come 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, carefully.)
(Cheerfully as she helps Sophia up
out of the bed and behind her changing wall and unlaces
Oh my dear! What a night! You were
out for quite a time there! 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
Oh! I am all in a fluster over this
(Sophia has now remove her formal
dress and she then emerges from behind it in her
There. Now, 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.
Sophia groans 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
(Says from 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.
(The lights fade to black.)
(When the 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 panic.)
Oh! What 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
(Richard walks towards her until
there is only a few feet between them.)
(Looks down in guilt.)
I'm so sorry. I should have never
written to you.
(With a small smile.)
I'm glad you did.
You looked beautiful this
(There is a pause where they both
seem unsure of what to say.)
So . . . do you plan to accept Mr.
(Looks shocked that he has to
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 . . .
I could never.
But, I thought . . . You don't love
Mr. Ainsley? Whatever gave you that
(Struggles to explain but doesn't
seem to come up with anything. There is another awkward
(Smiles, changing the
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!
Of course! That was why you couldn't
play for so long after that!
It felt kind of like these past three
Why did you not tell me you were
I don't know. I . . . I guess I
figured I wouldn't get to see you . . .
. . . maybe I didn't want to face you
. . .
Sylvia. You never told me about
Forget about 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
Just tonight. I leave in the
(There is another pause in the
conversation. Then Richard steps closer to Sophia and takes her
hands in his.)
(Quietly as if afraid of the
Come with me.
(Sophia confused and speechless,
takes a step back. Richard pleads.)
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.
(Torn and choked up)
I don't know, I . . . my parents
would never speak to me again . . . I don't know if . . . if I . .
(Looks directly in her eyes)
Please. Sophia . . . I love
(Sophia looks down, eyes teary,
shaking her head His hands are on her shoulders now)
Please! I love you! I have always
I love you, too.
Then come away with me! Come away
with me, Sophia!
(Sophia looks 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.)
(Richards whole entirety seems to
light up and a broad smile emerges across his face. Sophia smiles
too and laughs with joy)
(Richard leans down and kisses her
on the lips through his smile. Lights go black.)