The split scene starts in a very basic house and in a dugout
on the western front. Jane and Dick
are sitting at the table in the house, having just received a
letter from the front line. There are two empty chairs around the
table and one in the corner. In the dugout, Geoff
and Eddie are huddled around a desk, writing the
letter. As the letter is written, it is read out loud for the
audience to hear.
Geoff (While writing) 26th August 1914,
somewhere in France.
Dear Jane and Richard,
Your older brother and I have arrived in France. The other boys
are a good laugh and Eddie is getting along with them well. It
seems quite quiet so far, more than I expected but I suppose it
means we can get used to how things run before anything major
happens. A lot of the more experienced officers tell us stories
over a whisky at night. By the looks of it, the reserve trenches
were shelled pretty heavily recently, and the soldiers are
running around trying to fix it, shame we can't do anything to
help them. The cigarettes they give us are terrible, but luckily
Eddie hasn't started smoking yet…
(Geoff gets up and Eddie sits down)
Eddie (While writing) Hello home, Eddie here!
The mud here is knee deep and our once clean uniforms have been
caked in what seems like bloody tonnes of it. It gets everywhere,
yes… everywhere… even… best not to mention that actually. There
is no real place to sleep yet, but no need to worry, we shall
manage… we will have to. But enough of depressing thoughts, we go
down to the front line today, 26th August, so we shall
write again later. Hang on… Dad for you…
Jane (Reading Dad's letter) As Eddie said we
are going down to the front line today. Looks like a jolly good
trip. I, myself, am quite interested in going. Our King needs us,
and we shall serve him loyally. I am already an officer and so is
Eddie, its good taking charge in a place like this. Hope you are
all doing well, and tell Richard that if he doesn't behave
himself a toy soldier will fall on him from the sky. Please keep
Richard safe Jane, I know you have sibling disputes, but please,
for mum's sake.
Lots of love
Eddie And Eddie XXX
Jane (Relieved) At least they're safe, but
they are already going off to the front line, so soon!
Dick Yeah, they're off to kick the Boche's
Dick I wonder whether they have chocolate in the
trenches. I wouldn't have said it you know.
Jane (Rolling eyes) Why would it matter
whether or not they have chocolate? They're fighting, not having
Dick (In a matter of fact way) Well, Harry
says they don't do any fighting; he says they just have fun in
Jane (Under her breathe) If only!
Dick What did you say?
Jane Nothing, why don't you go and play while I get
Dick (Accusingly) You muttered! Mrs Jones
says we shouldn't mutter, she says it's not polite.
Jane Do I look like I care what your stupid Mrs
Dick (In matter of fact way) That's what I
said to her when she told me off.
Jane You said what?
Dick I told her that I didn't care about maths and
that I was going off to fight with my Dad!
Jane But you're not going off to war, besides,
you're far too young to fight.
Dick I am going to fight, I'll trick them and just
say I'm short.
Jane (Getting agitated) Why would you want to
go off and fight, you've got all your friends at school and
you've got me.
Dick I'm going off to fight and that's final.
Jane (Angry) No you're not!
Dick Mum would have let me do what I want!
Jane (Lashing out) Well she isn't here, is
she. Neither is Dad or Eddie. They all have to go and fight those
bloody Boche and leave (suddenly emotional) and leave me
here all alone to look after you. I'm only 16 and already I feel
like I have been a mother for god knows how many years! Most
girls my age are meeting young men now, and I'm at home looking
after you, my stupid younger brother. (Almost in tears by the
Dick (Upset) Why do you have to be angry at
me for mentioning Mum? She was alive once you know.
Jane I know, I know. It's just all the pressure of
looking after you, me, the house, and the animals; and with Eddie
and Dad gone, it's a lot to do on your own when you're the only
person who can or will. (Gives Dick a hug)
You see, the pressure must be big, I just hugged you. You of all
Dick (Pushing away in disgust) Erg. I
don't want your girly hugs, no matter how much pressure you're
under! I'm off to play with my toy soldiers, and then I'm off to
fight with real ones!
Jane (Follows him muttering) Why me, why me.
Honestly, a ten year old at home and a Dad and brother at war.
What have I done?
The scene starts with the same split scene as scene one.
Geoff and Eddie have just received a
letter from home. They open in with tired hands and read slowly
due to the dim light and their lack of rest. Despite this they
are rather upbeat. Only Jane is present in the
house and reads the letter aloud by candle light.
Jane Dear Father and Eddie,
How are you? How are the chaps out there with you? I hope you are
giving the Boche a good bashing! It's awful not having you two
here, but at least we know that you are out there for a good
cause and a good reason. Duty to King and Country and all that,
we are so proud of you.
Geoff But I guess you don't want to talk about the war,
so I will fill you in on what has been happening at home. The
village is fine, the atmosphere is the same as it was when you
left; sad in a way but determinedly cheerful. But more men have
gone to war. Andrew Jones has gone, he was in my class at school
but they let him in anyway. Bill Cameron has also gone; the one
they joked would become Prime Minister one day with all his
manners and his quick wit; his mother cried all week. Jack, or
John, Edwards, too he was the baker's son. I guess he went
because his father did. We don't know whether or not you will
meet any of them in France but if you do tell us please! But
worst of all, the Mayor's son Bobby Odam has gone too. Sally
Phillips' daughter Molly cried for days at that.
Jane But, you will be pleased to know, Eddie, that a
certain Victoria Brown has been looking rather miserable lately.
I do wonder why? I'm only teasing you; she said to say if we
heard from you, Eddie, she really cares. Oh dear, I have probably
said too much, have a jolly good time explaining that to Dad!
Dick Hallo! Dick now, Jane has gone out to do
something, girly probably, in the garden. The animals are doing
well although the old Ewe is looking like she is about to fall
any time soon and the chickens are laying less eggs. Jane told me
not to tell you that in case you got worried but I think you
should know, they are your animals after all. Also one of the
cows is looking heavily pregnant.
Anyway how is the war? What is it like? Harry says it's all a big
jolly and that no-one really dies. I really want to be out there,
fighting alongside you! Take care, and don't get hurt. Although
Harry says you won't.
Well cheerio and come home soon and safe!
With lots of love,
Dick and Dick
Geoff Well that was a jolly good letter.
Eddie Rather Father. Sorry, I mean, Sir!
Geoff It's ok Eddie, you can call me Father. It sounds
as if they are coping well at home.
Eddie Yes it does, doesn't it? I wonder how the sheep
are. Wait, look at this, they've included a bar of chocolate for
us. Good old Dick!
Geoff Oh, wonder where they got that from, let's have
some. (Eddie opens chocolate and gives some to
Eddie (Whilst chewing) Hmmmm, tastes like it
were fresh made today.
Geoff So then, who's this Victoria Brown and why would
Jane mention her?
Eddie Did you hear about all those chaps who have been
sent out here?
Geoff You changed the subject Eddie.
Eddie No I didn't. What did you say?
Geoff Victoria Brown…?
Eddie Hmmm, no, never heard of her, is she in our
Geoff Jane seems to think you know her.
Eddie Oh, that Victoria Brown. She was in my class a
few years ago.
Geoff Is that all you want to tell me?
Eddie I hate this bloody war?
Geoff Don't worry, it will be over soon and you can see
your Victoria Brown.
Eddie If you say so.
Geoff When will you be getting a letter from her?
Eddie I'm off to see the boys, ta ta.(Eddie gets up
and walks to the entrance of the dugout and stops in the doorway.
Then he turns back to his father.) Oh and Vicky...
(Eddie falls to the floor injured and screams in pain
before fading into unconsciousness)
Geoff Somebody, help me. God help us.
Somebody… anybody…. Help us (Voice fades
(The last view is Geoff struggling over
Eddie's body and trying to move him away from the
danger. The scene goes to the sound of guns and Geoff
calling for help)
The split scene is the same to scene one and two.
Jane is at the table in the house, and has just
received a letter from the front line. Dick is off
stage and unaware of the arrival of the letter. Only
Geoff is in the dugout and is writing a letter.
Geoff (While writing) 6th September 1914, ,
somewhere in France.
I am writing to say that Eddie has been injured.
Jane (Begins to cry) Oh God, oh God.
Geoff By the time you receive this letter he will be
well on his way home or may even be with you already. Don't
worry, he'll be fine soon, he's just on crutches; nothing serious
but please do take care of him. He may not be too happy being
sent home, so be careful too.
I am well; as well as can be for someone
in this bloody war. It's terrible here. War is terrible. I can't
keep it in anymore! The mud is horrible. The noise is horrible.
The rats, the bugs, the smell is horrible! The food is bloody
awful. We're out of cigarettes and we're low on ammo. I have seen
people die and my clothes are covered in my friend's blood. My
son has been sent home with shrapnel in his leg. I have decided
that I don't like war; not one bloody bit!
Jane (Reading through sobs) But apart from my
dislikes, how are you? Thanks for the chocolate, it brightened
things up. Is Dick OK? Please don't let him see this letter;
he'll think me a coward. I'm sorry for leaving you to deal with
all this. Maybe Eddie coming back home isn't such a bad thing; he
can help a bit with the animals and the harder work.
Geoff Love from Dad.
Jane (Having read the letter aloud
Jane is now crying quietly with her head in her hands
and therefore does not notice the arrival of Dick)
Dick (Cautiously)Why are you crying?
Jane (Wiping her tears) Oh, it's nothing.
I'll be fine. (She tries to hide the letter under a tray on
Dick Is that from the front?
Jane Yes, yes it is.
Dick (Worried) What's happened out there?
Jane (After hesitation) Its Eddie...
Dick What's happened to him?
Jane He's coming home.
Dick (Confused) Why?
Jane He's... (Pause) He's been hurt.
Dick (Excited) Well its great he's coming
home. I can show him my picture of him shooting a Boche through
Jane (Pause) Dick, I, I don't think he will
want to talk much about the war and he probably won't be able to
run around with you like he used to.
Dick (Clearly excited) Until he's better of
Jane Well it may take a bit longer than that before
he is ready to talk about it.
Dick Why? He hasn't been doing much out there.
Jane (After a long pause) He will be very
tired for quite some time. So don't pester him too much, please.
(The doorbell rings. Jane
rises and instructs Dick to Stay here and
wait. Jane leaves the stage and returns after a short
pause with Eddie walking on crutches behind
Dick (Jumps up) EDDIE! (He runs and
Eddie (Sternly) Please, please. Be careful. I am
injured you know.
Dick (Offended) Sorry Eddie.
(They all sit)
Eddie No, it's my fault. I'm too used to the army.
Dick It's okay. Do you want to see my picture of you
shooting a Boche?
Jane Dick, I think you need to leave Eddie to rest
for a bit. Why don't you go and feed the animals, they'll be
Jane (Nervously)Eddie...Eddie, are you
Eddie (shortly) Yes thank you.
Jane (Nervously) Is there anything I can get
you, anything I can do for you? Perhaps you would like a piece of
chocolate, the type you always liked...
Eddie (Cutting Jane off)No thank you, I am fine.
Jane (Hurt) Okay Eddie. I...I need to go and
feed the chickens.
When Eddie does not answer Jane leaves in silence while Eddie
sits down and stares into nothingness.
Dick and Jane are sitting around the
table drinking tea and eating bread. There is a chair empty that
they all glance at every now and then. They are all quiet and
worried, and no one speaks. They are all wondering about their
father who they have not heard from for a while.
Dick (Pestering tone) Eddie, Eddie where
is he? (Calling out) Eddie please come and play with
me. The Boche have advanced 2 inches towards our
Jane (Exasperated) No Dick, Eddie
can't play with you!
Dick Why not?
Eddie (Hobbling in)
You can see why Richard (shows crutches) why don't you
play with your sister?
Dick But she's just a girl; she doesn't know
anything about war! And since when do you call me Richard?
Eddie (Getting angry) Since
now, and don't say that about your sister!
Jane Dick just go and play outside by
(The doorbell rings as Dick sits down on his
chair in a mood and glowers at the floor. Jane gets
up to go and see who is there whilst Eddie gently
sits down on his chair and stares into space, absentmindedly
twirling his crutches from one hand to another. Dick
and Eddie hear the friendly exchanges of hellos
and the rustling of paper being passed from one hand to another,
and then the cheerio's as the post man leaves. All of a sudden
there is a sharp intake of breathe and a cry of No!)
Eddie Jane, Jane is everything all right?
Dick What's going on, why did she yell?
(The sound of sobbing comes from the hall out of sight as Jane
enters the room tears sparkle on her cheeks and her hands are
shaking from grief and sadness. She is holding an official
looking piece of paper that awfully familiar to every person of
Eddie(Worried) Jane? (Eddie then sees the
piece of paper and look of comprehension sets upon his face
before quickly being replaced by a look of grief and
Jane It's Dad,
(She stumbles on the last word and cannot
say anymore. Dick has remained silent until this
moment but suddenly says)
Dick Dad, what...what happened?
(Eddie holds out his hand for the
piece of paper and silently Jane hands it over and
stands beside Eddie.)
Geoffrey Richards, 21st Regiment British Army. Date of
Death, 9th September. Cause of death, mustard gas.
(He stutters and cannot go on)
Jane Dad, gone too....Mum. (She looks to
the chair that sits away in the corner of the room away from all
of the others)
Dick (On the verge of tears)
But...he can't be...he just can't be.
Eddie(In a flat and lifeless tone) He was doing his
duty, he knew the risks.
(A few moments pass and all that is heard
in the sound of breathing, the wind and a bird singing outside.
Tears slide down Jane's face silently and Eddie stares at nothing
in particular. No-one speaks they just grieve. In unison their
eyes look at the chair that is left unoccupied. Then
Dick Jane, I don't want to go to war.
Dick I'm sorry Jane. I don't want to go to war,
Harry was wrong. War isn't a game, it's nothing like
(Dick walks around to stand
at Eddie's other side.)
Jane You're right Dick. War is a terrible thing
and it is only something humans could create.
Dick Eddie got hurt and now he barely talks, and
Dads, Dads... dead.
Eddie (Looking blank and emotionless) He was
doing his duty. (With that he gets up and hobbles out of the
(Dick stands to and looks around the room.
He looks after his older brother and then looks as his sister
Jane Go, its fine. I'll be alright.
(Dick runs out of the room
after his brother.)
(Jane remains seated and
fiddles with the silver locket that hangs around her neck. After
a few moments she opens it. It contains pictures of her parents
on their wedding day. She looks at the pictures for a long while
and then closes the locket back up. She stands and slowly moves
towards the chair that has remained unoccupied throughout the
play, and hesitates as if what she is about to do is wrong.
Slowly she lifts the chair and moves it so that it is next to the
other chair that rests in the corner of the room and has not been
touched for 10 years. This chair is her mothers, who died in
childbirth when her younger brother was born. She had promised
her mother, when she was only six years old herself, that she
would keep her family safe and would be the mother that they were
There is a sense of great grief and guilt
as Jane grieves not only for her father but also for the mother
she lost and has broken a promise to. The family that she had
promised to take care of now has a 10 year old boy who is
orphaned, an injured soldier who no longer says a word and will
be crippled all his life and a father who has passed to where she
can no longer reach him, like her mother did before him, and
herself a 16 year old girl who has broken her
A picture hangs above the chairs. There
are two people in the picture; a young handsome man and a
laughing woman, they are embracing and are laughing together. She
touches the faces gently as if they were real, as if she is
touching the faces of the people whom she most wants to see. She
stands there for a minute looking at the picture of her father
and mother and then at their chairs. She too then leaves the
END OF PLAY