ABSOLUTENGLISH

THE GLASS MENAGERIE,

by Tennessee Williams, 1944

SCENE 7, Script


 

A SOUVENIR

Half an hour later. Dinner is just being finished in the upstage area which is concealed by the drawn portières.
[As the curtain rises LAURA is still huddled upon the sofa, her feet drawn under her, her head resting on a pale blue pillow, her eyes wide and mysteriously watchful. The new floor lamp with its shade of rose-coloured silk gives a soft, becoming light to her face, bringing out the fragile, unearthly prettiness which usually escapes attention. There is a steady murmur of rain, but it is slackening and stops soon after the scene begins; the air outside becomes pale and luminous as the moon breaks out. A moment after the curtain rises, the lights in both rooms flicker and go out.]

JIM: Hey, there, Mr Light Bulb !

[AMANDA laughs nervously.

LEGEND: 'SUSPENSION OF A PUBLIC SERVICE! .]

AMANDA: Where was Moses when the lights went out? Ha-ha. Do you know the answer to that one, Mr O'Connor?

JIM: No, Ma'am, what's the answer?

AMANDA: In the dark!

[JIM laughs appreciatively.]

Everybody sit still. I'll light the candles. Isn't it lucky we have them on the table? Where's a match? Which of you gentlemen can provide a match?

JIM: Here.

AMANDA: Thank you, Sir.

JIM: Not at all, Ma'am!

AMANDA: I guess the fuse has burnt out. Mr O'Connor, can you tell a burnt-out fuse? I know I can't and Tom is a total loss when it comes to mechanics.

[SOUND: GETTING UP: VOICES RECEDE A LITTLE TO KITCHENETTE.]

Oh, be careful you don't bump into something. We don't want our gentleman caller to break his neck. Now wouldn't that be a fine howdy-do?

JIM: Ha-ha! Where is the fuse-box?

AMANDA: Right here next to the stove. Can you see anything?

JIM: just a minute.

AMANDA: Isn't electricity a mysterious thing? Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who tied a key to a kite?
We live in such a mysterious universe, don't we? Some people say that science clears up all the mysteries for us. In my opinion it only creates more !
Have you found it yet?

JIM: No, Ma'am. All these fuses look okay to me.

AMANDA:Tom!

TOM: Yes, Mother?

AMANDA: That light bill I gave you several days ago. The one I told you we got the notices about?

[LEGEND: 'HA!']

TOM: Oh. - Yeah.

AMANDA: You didn't neglect to pay it by any chance?

TOM: Why, I -

AMANDA: Didn't ! I might have known it !

JIM: Shakespeare probably wrote a poem on that light bill, Mrs Wingfield.

AMANDA: I might have known better than to trust him with it! There's such a high price for negligence in this world!

JIM: Maybe the poem will win a ten-dollar prize.

AMANDA: We'll just have to spend the remainder of the evening in the nineteenth century, before Mr Edison made the Mazda lamp!

JIM: Candlelight is my favourite kind of light.

AMANDA: That shows you're romantic! But that's no excuse for Tom.
Well, we got through dinner. Very considerate of them to let us get through dinner before they plunged us into ever-lasting darkness, wasn't it, Mr O'Connor?

JIM: Ha-ha !

A M A N D A: Tom, as a penalty for your carelessness you can help me with the dishes.

JIM: Let me give you a hand.

A M A N D A: Indeed you will not !

JIM: I ought to be good for something.

AMANDA: Good for something? [Her tone is rhapsodic.] You? Why, Mr O'Connor, nobody, nobody's given me this much entertainment in years - as you have !

JIM: Aw, now, Mrs Wingfield !

AMANDA: I'm not exaggerating, not one bit! But Sister is all by her lonesome. You go keep her company in the parlour ! I'll give you this lovely old candelabrum that used to be on the altar at the church of the Heavenly Rest. It was melted a little out of shape when the church burnt down. Lightning struck it one spring.
Gypsy Jones was holding a revival at the time and he intimated that the church was destroyed because the Episcopalians gave card parties.

JIM: Ha-ha.

AMANDA: And how about you coaxing Sister to drink a little wine? I think it would be good for her ! Can you carry both at once?

JIM: Sure. I'm Superman!

AMANDA: Now, Thomas, get into this apron !

[The door of kitchenette swings closed on Amanda's gay laughter; the flickering light approaches the portières.
LAURA sits up nervously as he enters. Her speech at first is low and breathless from the almost intolerable strain of being alone with a stranger.

THE LEGEND: 'I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU REMEMBER ME AT ALL ! '
In her first speeches in this scene, before JIM's warmth overcomes her paralysing shyness, LAURA's voice is thin and breathless as though she has just run up a steep flight of stairs.
JIM's attitude is gently humorous. In playing this scene it should be stressed that while the incident is apparently unimportant, it is to LAURA the climax of her her secret life.]

JIM: Hello, there, Laura.

LAURA [faintly]: Hello. [She clears her throat.]

JIM: How are you feeling now? Better?

LAURA: Yes. Yes, thank you.

JIM: This is for you. A little dandelion wine. [He extends it toward her with extravagant gallantry.]

LAURA: Thank you.

JIM: Drink it - but don't get drunk!

[He laughs heartily. LAURA takes the glass uncertainly; laughs shyly.]

Where shall I set the candles?

LAURA: Oh - oh, anywhere. . . ,

JIM -. How about here on the floor? Any objections?

LAURA-No.

JIM: I'll spread a newspaper under to catch the drippings. I like to sit on the floor. Mind if I do?

LAURA: Oh, no.

JIM: Give me a pillow?

LAURA: What?

JIM: A pillow !

LAURA:Oh ... [Hands him one quickly.]

JIM: How about you? Don't you like to sit on the floor?

LAURA: Oh - yes.

JIM: Why don't you, then?

LAURA: I - Will.

JIM: Take a pillow ! [LAURA does. Sits on the other side of the candelabrum. JIM crosses his legs and smiles engagingly as her.] I can't hardly see you sitting way over there.

LAURA: I can - see you.

JIM: I know, but that's not fair, I'm in the limelight. [LAURA moves her pillow closer.] Good ! Now I can see you ! Comfortable?

LAURA: Yes.

JIM: So am I . Comfortable as a cow ! Will you have some gum?

LAURA: No, thank you.

JIM: I think that I will indulge, with your permission, [Musingly unwraps it and holds it up.] Think of the fortune made by the guy that invented the first piece of chewing gum. Amazing, huh? The Wrigley Building is one of the sights of Chicago. - I saw it summer before last when I went up to the Century of Progress. Did you take in the Century of Progress?

LAURA: No, I didn't.

JIM: Well, it was quite a wonderful exposition. What impressed me most was the Hall of Science. Gives you an idea of what the future will be in America, even more wonderful than the present time is! [Pause. Smiling at her.] Your brother tells me you're shy. Is that right, Laura?

LAURA: I - don't know.

JIM: I judge you to be an old-fashioned type of girl. Well, I think that's a pretty good type to be. Hope you don't think I'm being too personal - do you?

LAURA [hastily, out of embarrassment]: I believe I will take a piece of gum, if you - don't mind. [Clearing her throat.] Mr O'Connor, have you - kept up with your singing?

JIM: Singing? Me?

LAURA: Yes. I remember what a beautiful voice you had.

JIM: When did you hear me sing?

[VOICE OFF STAGE IN THE PAUSE]


Voice [off stage] : 0 blow, ye winds, heigh-ho,
A-roving I will go!
I'm off to my love
With a boxing glove
Ten thousand miles away !

JIM: You say you've heard me sing?

LAURA: Oh, yes! Yes, very often I don't suppose - you remember me - at all?

JIM [smiling doubtfully]: You know I have an idea I've seen you before. I had that idea soon as you opened the door. It seemed almost like I was about to remember your name. But the name that I started to call you - wasn't a' name! And so I stopped myself before I said it.

LAURA: Wasn't it - Blue Roses?

JIM: [springs up. Grinning]: Blue Roses ! - My gosh, yes - Blue Roses! That's what I had on my tongue when you opened the door !
Isn't it funny what tricks your memory plays? I didn't connect you with high school somehow or other.
But that's where it was; it was high school. I didn't even know you were Shakespeare's sister !
Gosh, I'm sorry.

LAURA: I didn't expect you to. You - barely knew me !

JIM: But we did have a speaking acquaintance, huh?

LAURA: Yes, we - spoke to each other.

JIM: When did you recognize me?

LAURA: Oh, right away !

JIM: Soon as I came in the door?

LAURA: When I heard your name I thought it was probably you. I knew that Tom used to know you a little in high school. So when you came in the door Well, then I was - sure.

JIM: Why didn't you say something, then?

LAURA [breathlessly]: I didn't know what to say, I was - too surprised !

JIM: For goodness' sakes I You know, this sure is funny !

LAURA: Yes I Yes, isn't it, though ...

JIM: Didn't we have a class in something together?

LAURA: Yes, we did.

JIM: What class was that?

LAURA: It was - singing - Chorus !

JIM: Aw !

LAURA: I sat across the aisle from you in the Aud.

JIM: Aw!

LAURA: Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.

JIM: Now I remember - you always came in late.

LAURA: Yes, it was so hard for me, getting upstairs. I had that brace on my leg - it clumped so loud I

JIM: I never heard any clumping.

LAURA [wincing at the recollection]: To me it sounded like thunder !

JIM: Well, well, well, I never even noticed.

LAURA: And everybody was seated before I came in. I had to walk in front of all those people. My seat was in the back row. I had to go clumping all the way up the aisle with everyone watching I

JIM: You shouldn't have been self-conscious.

LAURA: I know, but I was. It was always such a relief when the singing started.

JIM: Aw, yes, I've placed you now I I used to call you Blue Rom. How was it that I got started calling you that?

LAURA: I was out of school a little while with pleurosis. When I came back you asked me what was the matter. I said I had pleurosis - you thought I said Blue Roses That's what you always called me after that I

JIM: I hope you didn't mind.

LAURA: Oh, no - I liked it. You see, I wasn't acquainted with many - people....

JIM: As I remember you sort of stuck by yourself.

LAURA: I - I - never have had much luck at - making
friends.

JIM: I don't see why you wouldn't.

LAURA:' . Well, I - started out badly.

JIM: You mean being -

LAURA: Yes, it sort of - stood between me -

JIM: You shouldn't have let it !

LAURA: I know, but it did, and -

JIM: You were shy with people !

LAURA: I tried not to be but never could -

JIM: Overcome it?

LAURA: No, I - I never could !

JIM: I guess being shy is something you have to work out of
kind of gradually.

LAURA [sorrowfully]: Yes - I guess it -

JIM: Takes time !

LAURA: Yes -

JIM - People arc not so dreadful when you know them. That's what you have to remember ! And everybody has
problems, not just you, but practically everybody has got some problems. You think of yourself as having the only
problems, as being the only one who is disappointed. But just look around you and you will see lots of people as
disappointed as you are. For instance, I hoped when I was going to high-school that I would be further along at this
time, six years later, than I am now - You remember that wonderful write-up I had in The Torch?

LAURA:: Yes ! [She rises and crosses to table.]

JIM: It said I was bound to succeed in anything I went into!

[LAURA returns with the annual.] Holy Jeez ! The Torch ! [He accepts it reverently. They smile across it with
mutual wonder. LAURA crouches beside him and they begin to turn through it. LAURA's shyness is dissolving in his warmth.
]

LAURA:: Here you are in The Pirates of Penzance!

JIM: [wistfully] : I sang the baritone lead in that operetta.

LAURA [raptly]: So - beautifully!

JIM [protesting]: Aw -

LAU R A: Yes, yes - beautifully - beautifully !

JIM: You heard me?

LAURA: All three times !

JIM: No !

LAURA: Yes !

JIM: All three performances?

LAURA [looking down]: Yes.

JIM: Why?

LAURA: I - wanted to ask you to - autograph my programme.

JIM: Why didn't you ask me to?

LAURA: You were always surrounded by your own friends so much that I never had a chance to.

JIM: You should have just

LAURA: Well, I - thought you might think I was

JIM: Thought I might think you was - what?

LAURA: Oh

JIM [with reflective relish]: I was beleaguered by females In those days.

LAURA: You were terribly popular !

JIM: Yeah

LAURA: You had such a - friendly way

JIM: I was spoiled in high school.

LAURA: Everybody - liked you !

JIM: Including you?

LAURA: I - yes, I - I did, too - [She gently closes the book in her lap.]

JIM: Well, weH, well ! - Give me that programme, Laura. [She hands it to him. He signs it with a flourish.] There youare - better late than never !

LAURA: Oh, I - what a - surprise!

JIM: My signature isn't worth very much tight now. But some day - maybe - it will increase in value ! Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged. I'm twenty-three years old. How old are you?

LAURA:: I'll be twenty-four in June.

JIM: That's not old age!

LAURA: No, but

JIM: You finished high school?

LAURA [with difficulty]: I didn't go back.

JIM: You mean you dropped out?

LAURA: I made bad grades in my final examinations. [She rises and replaces the book and the programme. Her voice strained.] How is - Emily Meisenbach getting along?

JIM: Oh, that kraut-head!

LAURA:: Why do you call her that ?

J I M: That's what she was.

LAURA: You're not still - going with her?

J I M: I never see her.

LAURA: It said in the Personal Section that you were engaged!

J I M: I know, but I wasn't impressed by that -propaganda I

LAURA: It wasn't - the truth?

J I M: Only in Emily's optimistic opinion !

LAURA: Oh

[LEGEND: ' WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SINCE HIGH SCHOOL?' ]

JIM lights a cigarette and loans indolently back on his elbows smiling at LAURA with a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly with altar candler. She remains by the table and turns in her hands a piece of glass to cover her tumult.]

JIM: [after several reflective puffs on a cigarette] : What have you done since high school? [She seems not to hear him.] Huh? [LAURA looks up.] I said what have you done since high school, Laura?

LAURA:: Nothing much.

JIM: You must have been doing something these six long years.

LAURA:Yes.

JIM: Well, then, such as what?

LAURA: I took a business course at business college

JIM: How did that work out?

LAURA: Well, not very - well - I had to drop out, it gave me - indigestion

J I M [laughs gently.]: What are you doing now?

LAURA: I don't do anything - much. Oh, please don't think I sit around doing nothing! My glass collection takes up agood deal of time. Glass is something you have to take good care of

JIM: What did you say - about glass?

LAURA: Collection I said - I have one - [she clears her throat and turns away, acutely shy.]

JIM: [abruptly]: You know what I judge to be the trouble with you?
Inferiority complex I Know what that is? That's what they call it when someone low-rates himself !
I understand it because I had it, too. Although my caw was not so aggravated as yours seems to be. I had it until I took up public speaking, developed my voice, and learned that I had an aptitude for science. Before that time I never thought of myself as being outstanding in any way whatsoever I
Now I've never made a regular study of it, but I have a friend who says I can analyse people better than doctors that make a profession of it. I don't claim that to be necessarily true, but I can sure guess a person's psychology, Laura I [Takes out his gum] Excuse me, Laura. I always take it out when the flavour is gone. I'll use this scrap of paper to wrap it in. I know how it is to get it stuck on a shoe.
Yep - that's what I judge to be your principal trouble. A lack of amount of faith in yourself as a person. You don't have the proper amount of faith in yourself. I'm basing that fact on a number of your remarks and also on certain observations I've made. For instance that clumping you thought was so awful in high school. You say that you even dreaded to walk into class. You see what you did? You dropped out of school, you gave up an education because of a clump, which as far as I know was practically non-existent! A little physical defect is what you have. Hardly noticeable even! Magnified thousands of times by imagination !
You know what my strong advice to you is? Think of yourself as superior in some way!

LAURA: In what way would I think?

JIM: Why, man alive, Laura! just look about you a little. What do you see? A world full of common people! All of 'em born and all of 'em going to die !
Which of them has one-tenth of your good points I Or mine ! Or anyone else's, as far as that goes - Gosh !
Everybody excels in some one thing. Some in many !

[Unconsciously glances at himself in the mirror.]

All you've got to do is discover in whatl Take me, for instance.
[He adjusts his tie at the mirror.]

My interest happens to lie in electro-dynamics. I'm taking a course in radio engineering at night school, Laura, on top of a fairly responsible job at the warehouse. I'm taking that course and studying public speaking.

LAURA: Ohhhh.

JIM: Because I believe in the future of television !

[Turning back to her.]

I wish to be ready to go up right along with it. Therefore

I'm planning to get in on the ground floor. In fact I've already made the right connexions and all that remains is for the industry itself to get under way I Full steam

[His eyes are starry.]

Knowledge - Zzzzzp ! Money - Zzzzzzp I - Power! That's the cycle democracy is built on I

[His attitude is convincingly dynamic. LAURA stares at him, even her shyness eclipsed in her absolute wonder. He suddenly grins.]

I guess you think I think a lot of myself !

LAURA: No - o-o-o, !

JIM: Now how about you? Isn't there something you, take more interest in than anything else?

LAURA: Well, I do - as I said - have my - glass collection [A peal of girlish laughter from du kitchen]

JIM: I'm not right sure I know what you're talking about What kind of glass is it?

LAURA: Little articles of it, they're ornaments mostly I
Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them A
glass menagerie !
Here's an example of one, if you'd like to see it I
This one is one of the oldest. It's nearly thirteen.

[MUSIC: ' THE GLASS MENAGERIE''
He stretches out his hand.]

Oh, be careful - if you breathe, it breaks !

JIM: I'd better not take it. I'm pretty clumsy with things.

LAURA: Go on, I trust you with him !

[Places it in his palm.]

There now - you're holding him gently !
Hold him over the light, he loves the light I You see how the light shines through him?

JIM: It sure does shine!

LAURA: I shouldn't be partial, but he is my favourite one.

JIM: What kind of a thing is this one supposed to be?

LAURA: Haven't you noticed the single horn on his forehead head?

JIM: A unicorn, huh?

LAURA: Mmmm-hmmm!

JIM: Unicorns, aren't they extinct in the modern world?

LAURA: I know !

JIM: Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome.

LAURA [smiling]: Well, if he does he doesn't complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don't have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together.

JIM: How do you know?

LAURA [Iightly]: I haven't heard any arguments among them!

JIM: [grinning]: No arguments, huh? Well, that's a pretty good sign ! Where shall I set him?

LAURA: Put him on the table. They all like a change of scenery once in a while !

JIM: [stretching]: Well, well, well, well Look how big my shadow is when I stretch !

LAURA: Oh, oh, yes - it stretches across the ceiling !

JIM: [crossing to door]: I think it's stopped raining. [Opens fire-escape door.] Where does the music come from?

LAURA: From the Paradise Dance Hall across the alley.

JIM: How about cutting the rug a little, Miss Wingfield?

LAURA: Oh

JIM: Or is your programme filled up? Let me have a look at it. [Grasps imaginary card.] Why, every dance is taken! I'll just have to scratch some out. [WALTZ MUSIC 'LA GOLONDRINA'.]. Ahhh, a waltz ! [He executes some sweeping turns by himself then holds his arms toward LAURA.]

LAURA [breathlessly]: I - can't dance !

JIM: There you go, that inferiority stuff ! Come on, try !

LAURA: Oh, but I'd step on you !

JIM: I'm not made out of glass.

LAURA: How - how - how do we start?

J IM: just leave it to me. You hold your arms out a little.

LAURA: Like this?

JIM: A little bit higher. Right. Now don't tighten up, that's the main thing about it - relax.

LAURA [laughs breathlessly]: It's hard not to. I'm afraid you can't budge me.

JIM: What do you bet I can't? [He swings her into motion.]

LAURA: Goodness, yes, you can!

JIM: Let yourself go, now, Laura, just let yourself go.

LAURA: I'm

JIM: Come on!

LAURA: Trying !

JIM: Not so stiff - Easy does it I!

LAURA: I know but I'm -

JIM: Loosen th' backbone! There now, that's a lot better.

LAURA: Am I?

JIM: Lots, lots better !

[He moves her about the room in a clumsy waltz ]

LAURA: Oh, my !

JIM: Ha-ha !

LAURA: Oh, my goodness !

JIM: Ha-ha-ha !

[They suddenly bump into the table. JIM stops] What did we hit on?

LAURA: Table.

JIM: Did something fall off it? I think-

LAURA: Yes.

JIM: I hope that it wasn't the little glass horse with the horn !

LAURA: Yes.

JIM: Aw aw aw- Is it broken?

LAURA: Now it is just like all the other horses.

JIM: It's lost its -

LAURA: Horn!
It doesn't matter. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.

JIM: You'll never forgive me. I bet that that was your Favourite piece of glass.

LAURA: I don't have favourites much. It's no tragedy, Freckles. Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are. The traffic jars the shelves and things fall off them.

JIM: Still I'm awfully sorry that I was the cause.

LA U R A [smiling] I'll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less - freakish !
[They both laugh.]
Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones that don't have horns. .

JIM: Ha-ha, that's very funny !

[Suddenly serious]

I'm glad to see that you have a sense of humour. You know - you're - well - very different ! Surprisingly different from anyone else I know !

[His wire become soft and hesitant with a genuine feeling]

Do you mind me telling you that?

[LAURA is abashed beyond speech]

I mean it in a nice way ...

[LAURA nods shyly, looking away.]

You make me feel sort of - I don't know how to put it ! I'm usually pretty good at expressing things, but This is something that I don't know how to say !

[LAURA touches her throat and clears it - turns the unicorn in her hands. Even softer.]

Has anyone ever told you that you were pretty?

[PAUSE: MUSIC.
LAURA looks up slowly with wonder and shakes her head.]

Well, you are! In a very different way from anyone else. And all the nicer because of the difference, too.
[His voice becomes low and husky. LA U R A turns away, nearly faint with the novelty of her emotions.]

I wish that you were my sister. I'd teach you to have some confidence in yourself. The different people are not like other people, but being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people. They're one hundred times one thousand. You're one times one! They walk all over the earth. You just stay here. They're common as - weeds, -but - you - well, you're - Blue Roses!

[IMAGE ON SCREEN: BLUE ROSES.
MUSIC CHANGES.]

LAURA: But blue is wrong for - roses...

JIM: It's right for you ! - You're - pretty !

LAURA: In what respect am I pretty?

JIM: In all respects - believe me ! Your eyes - your hair are pretty! Your hands are pretty !

[He catches hold of her hand.]

You think I'm making this up because I'm invited to dinner and have to be nice. Oh, I could do that ! I could put on an act for you, Laura, and say lots of things without being very sincere. But this time I am. I'm talking to you sincerely. I happened to notice you had this inferiority complex that keeps you from feeling comfortable with people. Somebody needs to build your confidence up and make you proud instead of shy and turning away and - blushing - Somebody -ought to - Ought to - kiss you, Laura !

[His hand slips slowly up her arm to her shoulder.
MUSIC SWELLS TUMULTUOUSLY
He suddenly turns her about and kisses her on the lips.
When he releases her, LAURA sinks on the sofa with a bright, dazed look.
J IM backs away and fishes in his pocket for a cigarette.

LEGEND ON SCREEN: ' SOUVENIR'.]

Stumble-john !

[He lights the cigarette, avoiding her look.
There is a peal of girlish laughter from AMANDA in the kitchen.
LAURA slowly raises and opens her hand. It still contains the little broken glass animal. She looks at it with a tender, bewildered expression
.]

Stumble-john !

I shouldn't have done that - That was way off the beam. You don't smoke, do you?

[She looks up, smiling, not hearing the question.
He sits beside her a little gingerly. She looks at him speechlessly - waiting.
He coughs decorously and moves a little farther aside as he considers the situation and senses her feelings, dimly, with perturbation.
Gently.
]
Would you - care for a - mint?

[She doesn't seem to hear him but her look grows brighter even.]

Peppermint - Life-Saver?
My pocket's a regular drug store - wherever I go ...

[He pops a mint in his mouth. Then gulps and decides to make a clean breast of it. He speaks slowly and gingerly.]


Laura, you know, if I had a sister like you, I'd do the same thing as Tom. I'd bring out fellows and - introduce her to them. The right type of boys of a type to - appreciate her.
Only - well - he made a mistake about me.
Maybe I've got no call to be saying this. That may not have been the idea in having me over. But what if it was? There's nothing wrong about that. The only trouble is that in my case - I'm not in a situation to - do the right thing.
I can't take down your number and say I'll phone. I can't call up next week and - ask for a date.
I thought I had better explain the situation in case you misunderstand it and - hurt your feelings. .

[Pause.
Slowly, very slowly, LAURA's look changes, her eyes returning slowly from his to the ornament in her palm.
AMANDA utters another gay laugh in the kitchen.
]

LAURA [faintly] You - won't - call again?

JIM: No, Laura, I can't.

[He rises from the sofa.]

As I was just explaining, I've - got strings on me. Laura, I've - been going steady !
I go out all of the time with a girl named Betty. She's a home-girl like you, and Catholic, and Irish, and in a great many ways we - get along fine.
I met her last summer on a moonlight boat trip up the river to Alton, on the Majestic.
Well - right away from the start it was - love !

[LEGEND: 'LOVE!'
LAURA sways slightly forward and grips the arm of the sofa. He fails to notice, now enrapt in his own comfortable being.]

Being in love has made -a new man of me !

[Leaning stiffly forward, clutching the arm of the sofa LAURA struggles visibly with her storm. But JIM is oblivious, she it a long way of.]

The power of love is really pretty tremendous !
Love is something that - changes the whole world, Laura !

[The storm abates a little and LAURA leans back. He notices her again.]

It happened that Betty's aunt took sick, she got a wire and had to go to Centralia. So Tom - when he asked me to dinner - I naturally just accepted the invitation, not knowing that you - that he - that ! [He stops awkwardly.]
huh - I'm a stumble-john!

[He flops back on the sofa.
The holy candles in the altar of LAURA's face have been snuffed out.
There is a look of almost infinite desolation.
JIM: glances at her uneasily
.]

I wish that you would - say something. [She bites her lip which was trembling and then bravely smiles. She opens her hand again on the broken glass ornament. Then she gently takes his hand and raises it level with her own. She carefully places the unicorn in the palm of his hand, then pushes his fingers closed upon it.] What are you - doing that for? You want me to have him? Laura? [She nods.] What for?

LAURA: A - souvenir ...

[She rues unsteadily and crouches beside Lim victrola to wind it up.

LEGEND ON SCREEN: ' THINGS HAVE A WAY OF
TURNING OUT SO BADLY !'

OR IMAGE: GENTLEMAN CALLER WAVING GOOD-BYE! - GAILY.

At this moment AMANDA rushes brightly back in the front room. She bears a pitcher of fruit Punch in an old-fashioned cut-glass Pitcher and a plate of macaroons. The Plate has a gold border and poppies painted on it.]

AMANDA: Well, Well, Well ! Isn't the air delightful after the shower? I've made you children a little liquid refteshment.

[Turns gaily to the gentleman caller.]

JIM, do you know that song about lemonade? 'Lemonade, lemonade Made in the shade and stirred with a spade Good enough for any old maid !'

JIM [uneasily]: Ha-ha! No - I never heard it.

A M: A N D A: Why, Laura ! You look so serious !

JIM: We were having a serious conversation.

AMANDA: Good !Now you're better acquainted !

J I M: [uncertainly] : Ha-ha ! Yes.

AMANDA: You modem young people are much more serious-minded than my generation. I was so gay as a girl I

JIM: You haven't changed, Mrs Wingfield

AMANDA: Tonight I'm rejuvenated ! The gaiety of the occasion, Mr O'Connor !

[She tosses her head with a pod of laughter. Spa lemonade.]

Oooo! I'm baptizing myself!

JIM: Here - let me

AMANDA [Setting the pitcher down] : There now. I discovered we had some maraschino cherries. I dumped them in, juice and all !

JIM: You shouldn't have gone to that trouble, Mrs Wing, field.

AMANDA: Trouble, trouble? Why, it was loads of fun! Didn't you hear me cutting up in the kitchen? I bet your ears were burning! I told Tom how outdone with him I was for keeping you to himself so long a time! He should have brought you over much, much sooner ! Well, now that you've found your way, I want you to be a very frequent caller ! Not just occasional but all the time. Oh, we're going to have a lot of gay times together ! I see them coming !
Mmm, just breathe that air ! So fresh, and the moon's so pretty !
I'll skip back out - I know where my place is when young folks are having a - serious conversation !

JIM: Oh, don't go out, Mrs Wingfield. The fact of the matter is I've got to be going.

AMANDA: Going, now? You're joking ! Why, it's only the shank of the evening, Mr O'Connor !

JIM: Well, you know how it is.

AMANDA: You mean you're a young working man and have to keep working men's hours. Well let you off early tonight.
But only on the condition that next time you stay later.
What's the best night for you? Isn't Saturday night the best night for you working men?

J I M: I have a couple of time-clocks to punch, Mrs Wingfield. One at morning, another one at night !

AMANDA: My, but you are ambitious !You work at night, too?

JIM: No, Ma'am, not work but - Betty ! [He crosses deliberately to pick up his hat. The band at the Paradise Dance Hall goes into a tender waltz.]

AMANDA: Betty? Betty? Who's - Betty !

[There is an ominous cracking sound in the sky.]

JIM: Oh, just a girl. The girl I go steady with [He smiles charmingly. The sky falls]


[LEGEND: 'THE SKY FALLS'.]

AMANDA [a long-drawn exhalation]: Ohhhh. ... Is it a serious romance, Mr O'Connor?

JIM: - We're going to be married the second Sunday in June.

AMANDA: Ohhhh - how nice ! Tom didn't mention that you were engaged to be married.

JIM: The cat's not out of the bag at the warehouse yet. You know how they are. They call you Romeo and stuff like that.
[He stops at the oval mirror to put on his hat. He carefully shapes the brim and the crown to give a discreetly dashing effect.]
It's been a wonderful evening, Mrs Wingfield. I guess this is what they mean by Southern hospitality.

AMANDA: It really wasn't anything at all.

J I M: I hope it don't seem like I'm rushing off. But I promised Betty I'd pick her up at the Wabash depot, an' by the time I get my jalopy down there her train'll be in. Some women are pretty upset if you keep 'em waiting.

AMANDA: Yes, I know - Ile tyranny of women !

[Extends her hand.]

Good-bye, Mr O'Connor. I wish you luck - and happiness - and success ! All three of them, and so does Laura !-Don't you, Laura?

LAURA: Yes !

JIM [taking her hand]: Good-bye, Laura. I'm certainly going to treasure that souvenir. And don't you forget the good advice I gave you.

[Raises his voice to a cheery shout.]

So long, Shakespeare ! Thanks again, ladies - Good night !

[He grins and ducks jauntily out.]

Still bravely grimacing, AMANDA closes the door on the gentleman caller. Then she turns back to the room with a Puzzled expression. She and LAURA don't dare face each other. LAURA crouches beside the victrola to wind it.]

AMANDA [faintly] Things have a way of turning out so badly.
I don't believe that I would play the victrola. Well, well - well Our gentleman caller was engaged to be married!
TOM!

TOM [from back]: Yes, Mother?

AMANDA: Come in here a minute. I want to tell you something awfully funny.

TOM [enters with macaroon and a glass of lemonade]: Has the gentleman caller gotten away already?

AMANDA: The gentleman caller has made an early departure. What a wonderful joke you played on us !

TOM: How do you mean?

AMANDA: You didn't mention that he was engaged to be married.

TOM: JIM? Engaged?

AMANDA: That's what he just informed us.

TOM: I'll be jiggered ! I didn't know about that

AMANDA: That seems very peculiar.

TOM: 'What's peculiar about it?

AMANDA: Didn't you call him your best friend down at the warehouse?

TOM: He is, but how did I know?

AMANDA: It seems extremely peculiar that you wouldn't know your best friend was going to be married !

TOM: The warehouse is where I work, not where I know things about people !

AMANDA: You don't know things anywhere ! You live in a dream; you manufacture illusions !

[He crosses to door.]

Where are you going?

TOM: I'm going to the movies.

AMANDA: That's right, now that you've had us make such fools of ourselves. The effort, the preparations, all the expense ! The new floor lamp, the rug, the clothes for Laura ! all for what? To entertain some other girl's fiancé ! Go to the movies, go ! Don't think about us, a mother deserted, an unmarried sister who's crippled and has no job ! Don't let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure I just go, go, go - to the movies !

TOM: All right, I 'will ! The more you shout about my selfishness to me the quicker I'll go, and I won't go to the movies !

AMANDA: Go, then ! Then go to the moon - you selfish dreamer !

[Tom smashes his glass on the floor. He plunges out on the fire-escape, slamming the door . LAURA screams -cut by door.
Dance-hall Music up. TOM goes to the rail and grips it desperately, lifting his face in the chill white moonlight penetrating narrow abyss of the alley.

LEGEND ON SCREEN: ' AND SO GOOD-BYE...'

TOM 's closing speech is timed with the interior pantomime. [The interior scene is played as though viewed through soundproof glass. AMANDA appears to be making a comforting speech to LAURA who is huddled upon the sofa. Now that we cannot hear the mother's speech, her silliness is gone and she has dignity and tragic beauty.
LAURA' s dark hair hides her face until at the endof the speech she lifts it to smile at her Mother. AMANDA' s gestures are slow and graceful, almost dancelike as she comforts the daughter. At the end of her speech she glances a moment at the father's picture - then withdraws through the portières. At the close of Tom's speech, LAURA blows out the candles, ending the play.
]


TOM: I didn't go to the moon, I went much further - for time is the longest distance between places. Not long after that I was fired for writing a poem on the lid of a shoebox.
I left Saint Louis. I descended the step of this fire-escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father's footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space - I travelled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly coloured but tom away from the branches.
I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something.
It always came upon me unawares, taking me altogether by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass. Perhaps I am walking along a street at night, in some strange city, before I have found companions. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of coloured glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colours, like bits of a shattered rainbow.
Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes ...
Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be !
I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger -anything that can blow your candles out !

[LAURA bends over the candles.]

- for nowadays the world is lit by lightning ! Blow out your candles, Laura - and so good-bye.

[She blows the candles out.]

THE SCENE DISSOLVES



Scene 6

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