Wednesday, June 8, 2016

here's an old letter

INT. - The Thornton Square House - Day

PAULA:  Will you light the gas, please?

GREGORY:  It's a very handsome room.

PAULA:  Yes, but to see it like this...I remember parties in this room when it was full of flowers and light.

~~  Those must have been wonderful days.

PAULA:  It's all dead in here.  The whole place seems to smell of death.

Gregory crosses to a  big door, all windowpanes, and opens it.  He tells her, "There.  It will all be fresh again in a moment."

He goes to look at an intriguing little cupboard with a glass door.

PAULA:  (fondly, with happy memories) -- That's where she kept her treasures.  Things she collected on her tours around the world.

GREGORY:  The glass is broken.

PAULA:  It was broken that night.  All the things were disarranged, but there was nothing missing.
(She looks into the cabinet, and then she smiles.)

I know all these by heart.  It was a great treat when she'd unlock them, and take them out and tell me all their stories.

GREGORY:  Careful, dearest.

PAULA:  She wore this glove in Romeo and Juliet -- at the command performance at Covent Garden.  Gounod signed it for her afterwards. 

I never knew what happened to the other glove. 

I used to ask her sometimes...but she'd only laugh and say she'd given it away, to a very great admirer.  She would never tell me who. 

GREGORY:  I wish I could have seen her.

PAULA:  Let me show her to you.

Up on the wall is a heavy curtain, covering something.  Paula reaches up and draws the curtain aside, dramatically.  The curtain crumples, dust billows and clouds in the air, and a large portrait is revealed, of Paula's aunt, in regal costume.

PAULA:  That's as the Empress Theodora.  That was her greatest role.  When she sang it in St. Petersburg, the Czar used to come to every performance.

GREGORY:  She was very beautiful, very much like you.

Shadows of sadness and grief creep over Paula's face, her expression falls.

PAULA:  It was there that I found her, there in front of the fire, under her own portrait.  I was in bed, and something woke me, I've never known what.  I came running down the stairs, frightened...  She had been strangled.  Her lovely face was all...

Her expression reveals her pain and torment.

"No, I can't stay here."

GREGORY:  Then how would it be if we took away all these things that remind you so of her? 

The painting, all this furniture. 

Shut it away so you can't even see it? 

Suppose we make it a new house with new things, beautiful things -- for a new, beautiful life for us.

Paula turns again toward the happiness her heart wants to feel:  "Yes," she says to her husband, with a brave smile, "and then later -- we'll have people here and parties, again!"

She sees her husband's face go solemn, with the hint of a frown.

She inquires gently, "Don't you want to?"

GREGORY:  Later, yes, but not just at once.  Let us have our honeymoon here by ourselves for a little longer.  (He looks around.)  Now, where should we put all these things?

PAULA:  There is an attic under the roof.  All her trunks are up there, and all her costumes.

GREGORY:  Then we'll put all these things there, too, and then we'll board it up -- so you'll never have to see it again, never even think of it.

He walks over and lifts the lid on a piano -- a big harp is in the background. 

PAULA:  That piano traveled with her everywhere in the great days.  It will need tuning terribly.  Look, here's some of her music.  (picking up a sheaf of papers)  Her score of "Theodora," just as she left it.

GREGORY:  We'll send those upstairs with all the rest.

PAULA:  No, not her music.  Perhaps later I might like to study again.  I'd like to have her scores to study from.

He plays a tune on the piano, softly.

PAULA:  What makes you play that?

GREGORY:  Why not?

PAULA:  That was her great song.  She always used it in her concerts for her last encore. 
It was everybody's favorite.

PAULA (continued) -- Here's an old letter. 
(she reads aloud from the letter)

"Dear Miss Alquist, I beg of you to see me just once more.  I have followed you to London."

It was written two days before she was murdered.

GREGORY:  Where did you find that?

PAULA:  In this score.  She must have left it there.  It was written by somebody called Sergis Bauer.

[His fingers hit an abrupt, loud, dissonant chord on the piano, and he rises swiftly and snatches the letter from her hand!]

GREGORY:  Give it to me!

She is startled, and awestruck by her husband's action, and tone.  She gazes at him, wide-eyed.

PAULA:  Gregory, what is it?

GREGORY:  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to be so violent.  It's just that...

PAULA:  Why does this letter upset you so?

GREGORY:  It's not the letter.  It's just that I am upset for you.  All these things are reminding you of her. 

You said that you had lost your fears, and now everything you touch, here -- brings them back. 

Oh, my dearest!  While you are afraid of anything, there cannot be any happiness for us.

You must forget her.

PAULA (thoughtfully, softly, sadly) -- No, not her.  Only what happened to her.



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