Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"GIVE me that Bible!"

INTERIOR.  Antons' sitting room - evening

GREGORY:  Paula, I don't want to upset you.  If you will put things right when I'm not looking, we'll assume it did not happen.

PAULA:  But what?  Gregory, what?
(she is faintly frantic, pleading)
Oh please don't turn your back on me!  What has happened?

GREGORY:  you mean you don't know?

PAULA:  No, I --


She is scared and worried -- unnerved.  She backs up from him, walking carefully backward, in the direction of his glance, but watching him, trying to read his expression, then looking over to a spot on the wall where there's a square on the wallpaper that's lighter than the rest of the wallpaper. 

The PANNING CAMERA following her allows the audience to see the light square space on the wall a split second before Paula sees it.

PAULA:  Yes.  (in a whisper) - The little picture has been taken down.

She stands by the blank spot on the wall, and looks toward her husband, with a face full of confusion, puzzlement, and pervasive anxiety.  Her profile makes a shadow on the wall, partly over the light spot with the empty picture-hook.

PAULA (continued) -- Who took it down?

(She backs up another two steps; her voice is faint and thin)
Why has it been taken down?

GREGORY (his voice is deep and ominous) -- Why indeed?  Why was it taken down before?

He advances toward her, toward the CAMERA, his presence looming, intense with free-floating Gallic menace.)

GREGORY:  Will you please get it from wherever you've hidden it and put it back in its place?

CLOSE-UP, Paula's face.  She looks agonized.  She loves her husband,  She wants things to go back to being OK.  She wants this to stop.

PAULA (in a whisper) -- But I haven't hidden it.  I swear I haven't.  Why should I?  Why should --

She breaks off and shields her eyes with one hand, the palm outward, and turns her face away from her husband's gaze.

PAULA:  Don't look at me like that. 
(desperately, casting about in her mind for an answer to the mystery)
"Someone else must have done it."

He moves to the cloth bell-rope they use to summon the servants. 

PAULA:  No, don't ring, Gregory.  Please don't ring!  Don't shame me before the servants.

GREGORY:  Now Paula, will you please stop being hysterical.  Now sit down and calm yourself before they come.  We must get to the bottom of this once and for all.


GREGORY (continued) -- Please come in, Elizabeth.

(She enters.)

GREGORY (continued) -- Elizabeth.  Do you notice anything missing from this room?

ELIZABETH:  Missing, sir?  No.  I don't think so, sir.

GREGORY:  Look carefully on the wall.

Elizabeth is staring about the room, intent to satisfy her employer, but clearly her sensible outlook on life is telling her there's nothing wrong with the stuff in that room.

Gregory walks over to the wall where there's a gaslight sconce right by the empty-picture-spot and, reaching up, he lights the flame in the dainty glass cup.  As he does this, he speaks again to Elizabeth:  "Well?"

ELIZABETH:  There's a little picture missing, sir.

GREGORY:  Exactly.  Did you take it away?

He stands, facing Elizabeth, under the gaslight lamps.


GREGORY:  Have you ever taken it down from where it belongs?

ELIZABETH:  Oh no, sir.  Why ever should I?

GREGORY:  Why indeed?

Paula is watching them, distressed, wondering.

GREGORY (continued) -- Elizabeth, you go to church, don't you?

~~  To what, sir?

~~  Church!

~~  Yes, sir.

GREGORY:  Please kiss this Bible as a solemn oath that you've told the truth.

He holds the Bible in front of him, with both hands.  Elizabeth glances down at the Bible, then up at Gregory Anton.  Then she looks down again at the Bible, and bows her head before him, and kisses it.

GREGORY:  Thank you, Elizabeth.  You may go now.  And send Nancy in here at once.

(He says it again, louder, for Elizabeth.

~~  Yes sir.

Elizabeth goes out.

PAULA:  Gregory, no, not that girl.
(Her voice rises a little with every word, spiraling toward hysteria.)
PAULA (continued) -- I'll say anything.  I'll say that I did it.  I'll not have that --

GREGORY:  Please!  Have the goodness to control yourself.  This is painful enough without your making it worse.

She breaks away from his grasp and hurries away from him in disgust and exasperation. 

GREGORY (continued) -- Now, Paula.  Please come back. 

She stops, turns around, her eyes lowered.  As he continues speaking, she walks very slowly, reluctantly, sadly, back toward him.

GREGORY (cont'd.) -- Since you've thrown suspicion on the servants, they must be cleared of it.  Now sit down.

She looks at him, wearily, in distress.

~~  Did you hear what I said?  Sit down.

(KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK, at the door)

"Come here, Nancy!" 

Paula is sitting on a settee, her head bowed.

GREGORY speaks to the maid:  A picture has been taken down from the wall there.

NANCY:  So it has.  That's another rum go.

GREGORY:  I did not ask for any comments on your part.  I want to know whether it was you who took the picture down.

NANCY:  Of course it wasn't, sir.  What would I want to take it down for?

GREGORY:  Shall I ask her to kiss the Bible, Paula, or will you accept her word?

Paula sits still, looking down, and her voice is low, just above a whisper.

PAULA:  Of course I'll accept it.  Let her go.

GREGORY:  Very well.  You may go, Nancy.

Nancy exits -- as she's going to the door, and going out, Paula slowly raises her head to look up at her husband.

(Nancy's gone.)

MED. CLOSE SHOT:  Gregory standing by the settee, the gaslight sconces on the wall behind him.

She stares at him for a moment, then shakes her head in a tiny motion, as if to clear away sleep, or troubling dreams. 

She closes her eyes and then turns her face to look back over her shoulder; she rises swiftly and almost lunges the few steps toward the stand where her husband had set down The Good Book.

"Give me that Bible!" she cries out.


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