Copyright © 1995 by Richard Packham

2145 Melton Road, Roseburg, OR 97470 e-mail:

RED ROSES, WHITE ROSES was first produced November 21, 1997, 
at the Betty Long Unruh Theatre in Roseburg, Oregon, 
by the Umpqua Actors Community Theatre, directed by the author.  

The cast was:

HAROLD . . . . . . . . . . . .Gregg Abbott
HANNAH . . . . . . . . . . .Arlene Granger
ROBERT . . . . . . . . . . . .Gary Galbick
MARGO. . . . . . . . . . Rosaline Ferguson
SUE ANN. . . . . . . . . . . Natasha Romas
PRESCOTT . . . . . . . . . . . .Rob Grimes
PAUL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim Dew
MILDRED. . . . . . . . . .Peggy Ann O'Neal
CLAIRE . . . . . . . . . . .Sheree Frazier
ENOCH. . . . . . . . . . . . Douglas Houck
RUTH . . . . . . . . . . . . Shelby Osborn
PHOTOGRAPHER . . . . . . . Richard Packham

CAUTION:  Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that RED
ROSES, WHITE ROSES is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected
under the copyright laws of the Unites States of America, and of
all countries covered by the International Copyright Union.  All
rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture,
recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting,
television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or
electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval
systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into
foreign languages, are strictly reserved.  All inquiries concerning
rights should be addressed to the author RICHARD PACKHAM, 2145
Melton Road, Roseburg, OR 97470, (541) 672-2360.


      This play is completely a work of fiction.  As in any work of
fiction, however, the author must use elements taken from his own
experiences and base his characters at least in part on people he
has known in real life.  I have also done that.  In doing so I have
been unable to avoid using characteristics, habits, mannerisms and
attitudes of some members of my own family.  I therefore wish to
stress strongly that the characters and events depicted in this
play are fictional.  This play is not biographical or
autobiographical, and I would be greatly distressed to think that
anyone might think that members of my own family or events in their
lives are depicted here.  Members of my family will undoubtedly
recognize particular mannerisms, characteristics and events, and I
do not want them to think that therefore the characters in the play
are intended as portraits of them.  Whatever you may think of the
Prestons, whatever side you may take in their disputes and
troubles, I want you to know that my own parents and family are
wonderful people, and I would not trade them for any other family
in the world.

      For one idea in this play I am indebted to the author
Heinrich Böll, from his story "Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit,"
copyright by Kiepenheuer & Witsch. 


                               To my parents.

"Confession is good for the soul"

                   - Old Scottish Proverb

"If he repent, forgive him"

                   - Luke 17:3           

"He that is without sin among you, let him
first cast a stone at her."

                    - John 8:7           

                             CAST OF CHARACTERS

                        (not in order of appearance)

HAROLD PRESTON, 72, a retired businessman
HANNAH PRESTON, 70, his wife
ROBERT PRESTON, 49, Harold and Hannah's son, a doctor
MARGO PRESTON, 41, Robert's wife, an interior decorator
SUE ANN DRESCHER, 47, Harold and Hannah's daughter
PRESCOTT DRESCHER, 49, Sue Ann's husband, a real estate broker
PAUL PRESTON, 39, Harold and Hannah's son, a minister
MILDRED PRESTON, 35, Paul's wife
CLAIRE PRESTON, 36, Harold and Hannah's daughter, a secretary,
ENOCH PRESTON, 12, Paul and Mildred's son
RUTH PRESTON, 10, Paul and Mildred's daughter
MR. BLOOM, a photographer

The entire action of the play takes place in a small American town,
in the living room of the home of Harold and Hannah Preston.

Time:  Sometime in the recent past.

Act I.      Scene 1.  About noon on a Saturday in early fall.
            Scene 2.  About half an hour later.

Act II.     Scene 1.  The following morning, Sunday, about noon.
            Scene 2.  About an hour later.

Act III.    Scene 1.  The following April, late afternoon.
            Scene 2.  An hour or so later, evening.
            Scene 3.  A few minutes later.


It is important that all the characterizations be as sympathetic as
possible.  The play should leave the audience aware of the
difficulty of this family's dilemma, and not take sides.  The play
will have achieved its purpose if the audience leaves the theater

Although Paul is a minister, his church is not one that requires
him to wear a clerical collar.

Harold's woodshop is in the garage and is accessed through the
kitchen.  The cellar is also accessed through the kitchen.


(Living room of the Prestons' home.  Decorated in what twenty
years ago was stylish decorator furniture, but now dated and
somewhat worn.  Large Bible at one side, open.  On the wall
above it, a framed sampler saying "God Bless Our Home."  The
room is empty.  ROBERT and MARGO enter with luggage)

ROBERT:     Mom!  Dad!  We're here!  (puts luggage down, takes
            off his jacket)
MARGO:      (looking around)  It never changes, does it?
ROBERT:     That's the nice part about coming home - it's always
            the same.
MARGO:      But you'd think, with your dad in the furniture
            business, your mother would be able to get some-
            thing new once in a while, wouldn't you?
ROBERT:     Furniture isn't what makes a home, Margo. (beat) I
            think Mom got all the furniture she could want or
            use when Dad closed the store.
MARGO:      But in eight years?  Really, time has stood still here.
ROBERT:     Stop looking at it with your professional eye.  Just
            think - in another thirty or forty years these will
            be valuable "antiques."

(HANNAH enters from kitchen)
HANNAH:     I thought I heard somebody come in!  Well, here you
            are, at last!  (hugs ROBERT)
ROBERT:     Hello, Mom!  
HANNAH:     How did you get here from the airport?  Didn't Paul
            pick you up?
ROBERT:     We took a cab.  I didn't want to bother Paul.  Sure
            smells good.  What are you cooking?
HANNAH:     (gives MARGO a perfunctory hug)  Hello, Margo dear. 
            Oh, just some stew and biscuits for a quick lunch. 
            There'll be a big dinner tonight, of course, at the
            church hall, but I thought we'd none of us be able
            to go till then without a bite in our bellies, especial-
            ly your father.  He's in the cellar making some of
            his fresh peach ice cream.  
ROBERT:     Is he still turning it with a hand-crank?
HANNAH:     (laughs)  Of course he is!  I got him one of those
            electric ones for Father's Day a while back, but he
            says it's not as good as hand-cranked.  Go on down
            and spell his arm and give him a hug!  He'll be the
            man churning the ice cream, in case you don't
            recognize him after all this time.
ROBERT:     (affectionately) Don't start scolding, Mom.  You know
            I miss you both.  But it's hard to find time to get
HANNAH:     I know, I know.  Go on, say hello to your Dad.
ROBERT:     How is he, anyway?  When I talked to Paul, he
            wouldn't give me straight answers, as usual.
HANNAH:     Oh, he mopes around a little more than usual.  I
            think this fiftieth anniversary party is bothering
MARGO:      It can't be that it's snuck up on him.
HANNAH:     No, he's had plenty of warning - fifty years! 
ROBERT:     What do you mean, "moping"?
HANNAH:     Oh, nothing, really.  He doesn't work in his shop out
            back.  After all the trouble he went through to move
            it out of the basement into the garage.
ROBERT:     Oh?
HANNAH:     But it's nothing, really.  (smiles)  He's the same old
            grump, just a little more so.
ROBERT:     Well, I'll go tell him we're here.
(ROBERT exit)

HANNAH:     Well, dear, how have you been?  How's your business
MARGO:      Just fine, Mom, just fine.  Very busy.  As soon as
            Spring arrives, everybody wants to change their life
            by redecorating their nest, and that keeps me busy
            all summer and well into fall.
HANNAH:     It must be nice to be able to redecorate when you
            want to.  I have to be content with what I've got.
MARGO:      It makes life easier for you, doesn't it?
HANNAH:     Yes, I guess it does.  After fifty years of being
            married to a furniture dealer, though, I maybe got
            kind of spoiled.
MARGO:      But you have nice things.
HANNAH:     Good thing they won't have to last another fifty
            years.  (pause)  It's hard to believe we've been
            married fifty years.  Five red roses.
MARGO:      Five roses?
HANNAH:     Harold gives me roses each anniversary, one red
            rose for every ten years.
MARGO:      What if it's not an even ten years?
HANNAH:     Oh, then it's one white rose for each odd year. 
            (laughs)  Actually, they've all been "odd" years.
MARGO:      So last year, for forty-nine years, he gave you four
            red roses and nine white ones?
HANNAH:     Complicated, isn't it?  But that's Harold.  He says
            "Red for love, white for purity and fidelity."
MARGO:      But you won't get any white roses this year.
HANNAH:     No, it doesn't really make sense, does it?  He's just
            trying to be romantic.  And at his age!
MARGO:      Well, I think it's just wonderful.  Fifty years!
HANNAH:     Actually, not until tomorrow.  Do you think it's
            cheating, to have the celebration today?  (laughs) 
            We might not make it till tomorrow.

(HAROLD and ROBERT enter, laughing)
HANNAH:     (playfully)  Do you think we'll make it till tomorrow,
HAROLD:     What do you mean?
HANNAH:     It won't be fifty years until tomorrow.  Will we still
            be together then?
HAROLD:     (beat; more serious than would seem called for by
            Hannah's playfulness) At least until tomorrow, Han-
HANNAH:     Well, you never know.
ROBERT:     Mom, you two will always be together!  You're two
            sides of the same coin!
HANNAH:     So, is the ice cream done?
HAROLD:     Robert finished it off with his strong arm, and it's
            in the freezer, firming up.
HANNAH:     Did you clean up the mess?
HAROLD:     (a little irritated) Yes, we cleaned up the mess!
ROBERT:     So where's Sue Ann and Scotty?  They're driving
            up, aren't they?
HAROLD:     Oh, they'll be here any time now.  It usually takes
            them about an hour and a half.  Say, are you tired? 
            You want to rest up a little? 
ROBERT:     I'm fine, thanks, Dad.
HAROLD:     What about you, Margo?  How was your flight,
MARGO:      It was fine, actually kind of relaxing.
HAROLD:     Doesn't take long, does it?  You could do it more
            often, you know, come and visit us, if Bobby-boy
            didn't take so many patients.  (grabs him playfully
            by the arm and shakes him)
HANNAH:     Now, Harold.  Don't call him "Bobby-boy."  You know
            he doesn't like that. If you won't call him Robert,
            you'll have to call him "Doctor Preston."
HAROLD:     (affectionately)  "Doctor Preston"!  His head's big
            enough already.  I'll call him "Bobby-boy" whenever
            I like.  I changed his diapers!

(SUE ANN and PRESCOTT enter through front door, with luggage. 
SUE ANN is dressed to the hilt, like a fashion magazine. 
PRESCOTT is in expensive leisure)

HANNAH:     Here they are!  Hello, Babe! (hugs SUE ANN)
SUE ANN:    Momma!  Oh, Momma, I'm so happy for you!
PRESCOTT:   Hi, Harold, hey, what's up, Robert?  
ROBERT:     (shakes hands with PRESCOTT)  Scotty, good to see
PRESCOTT:   Margo, you beautiful thing, when are you going to
            dump this pill-pusher?  (Gives MARGO an enthusiastic
            hug)  You just let me know.
MARGO:      Scotty, I promise you, you'll be the last to know.
SUE ANN:    Can you believe it!  Fifty years!  Oh, I'll be so glad
            when Prescott and I have been together that long! 
            It'll be so beautiful!
ROBERT:     (hugs SUE ANN)  How's my baby sister?
SUE ANN:    Bobby, you're so lucky to have Margo.  Are you
            being good to her?
ROBERT:     Ask her yourself.
SUE ANN:    (hugs MARGO)  You always look so good!  How do
            you do it?
MARGO:      I haven't the slightest.  Just keep busy.
SUE ANN:    Oh, don't I know!  Running the house just keeps me
            ragged.  Prescott's just a little boy.  I'm always
            picking up after him.  I guess it helps me keep my
            weight down, all the running around.
PRESCOTT:   Mom, smells like you been cookin' up a storm out
            there.  We gonna eat soon?
HANNAH:     Take your things upstairs, Scotty, and I'll get you
            something to tide you over.  And there's coffee, if
            anybody wants some.
MARGO:      I'd like some, Mom.  I'll give you a hand.
HANNAH:     Oh, thanks, dear.  Sue Ann, you sit down and put
            your feet up.  You look bedraggled.
PRESCOTT:   Same room, Ma? (picks up luggage, heads upstairs)
HANNAH:     Yes, Sue Ann's room.

(MARGO and HANNAH exit to kitchen)

SUE ANN:    (collapses on sofa)  I swear that drive gets longer
            every time.  Prescott makes me drive because he
            says I'm not a good passenger.
ROBERT:     I'll bet.
SUE ANN:    Well, he's such an awful driver.  I have to watch the
            road every minute, anyway.  So he sleeps and
            snores, and arrives fresh and rested, but by then of
            course I'm exhausted.
HAROLD:     Gonna be a lot of old friends there tonight for the
            golden wedding party, Suzie.  Just about everybody. 
SUE ANN:    I'm sure, Daddy.
HAROLD:     Even people from out of town.  Remember Cal and
            Annie Morrison?  They're coming all the way from
            Arizona.  Haven't seen them for pretty near twenty
            years, just kept in touch with Christmas cards.  But
            they're coming, all right.
SUE ANN:    What ever happened to their son Ernie, anyway?  He
            had such a crush on me in high school.
ROBERT:     Didn't everybody?
SUE ANN:    Now, don't tease me, Bobby.  I couldn't help it if
            boys were attracted to me.
HAROLD:     Oh, Ernie married a girl from Brockley, I think.  The
            Lord has surely blessed the Morrisons.  Twelve
            grandchildren!  Fine family.
SUE ANN:    I'm sure, Daddy.

(PRESCOTT enters from upstairs)

PRESCOTT:   All squared away.  Where's the coffee?
SUE ANN:    Go get it yourself, I'm exhausted.
PRESCOTT:   Hey, what's the matter with you?
SUE ANN:    (irritated)  Please, Scotty!
PRESCOTT:   So, what's the menu for the big bash tonight,
SUE ANN:    He'll never change.  He's just like you, Daddy.  All
            he thinks about is his next meal or his last one.
HAROLD:     Roast beef, with all the trimmings.  The Ladies'
            Pastoral Aid Society is doing it for us.
PRESCOTT:   Why tonight, rather than on the official day?
HAROLD:     Well, tomorrow being the Sabbath, it would have been
            hard to get the church hall ready.  And the Elders'
            Board has their quarterly meeting tomorrow, and I
            have to be there.  Tonight worked out better all
ROBERT:     Since when are you on the Board of Elders again,
            Dad?  I thought your term had expired long ago?
HAROLD:     Oh, it did.  I'm not a member any more, I just have
            to be at this meeting.
ROBERT:     What for?  Didn't you give enough years out of your
            life to the church?  Don't you still tithe every penny
            that comes in?
SUE ANN:    Now, Bobby, don't criticize.  You know Dad has that
            kind of abiding faith that just doesn't quit.  We
            should all be that fortunate.
HAROLD:     It's not that, baby.  (uncomfortably)  I just have an
            important matter I have to discuss with them, that's
SUE ANN:    Is something wrong, Daddy?
HAROLD:     No, no.  Let's get some coffee.
SUE ANN:    I'll pass.  Coffee makes me nervous.
HAROLD:     Come on, Scotty.

(PRESCOTT and HAROLD exit to kitchen)

ROBERT:     So how are the kids?
SUE ANN:    They're wonderful.  I love them so much.  They've
            been good kids, never got into trouble at all.  But I
            still worry about them, even though they're grown
            up and supposedly on their own.  You and Margo are
            smart, in a way, never to have had kids.
ROBERT:     I guess.  Sometimes I wonder.  But it's like anything
            else in life:  you make your choice, and then you
            live with it.  (pause)  So when is Claire coming
SUE ANN:    I guess this afternoon.  I called her this morning,
            before we left, and I think I woke her up.  She
            seems to sleep an awful lot.
ROBERT:     Hm.  Does her job in the plant office tire her so
SUE ANN:    Oh, Robert, I don't know.  I can't think so.  But I
            don't know what's with her any more.  We used to
            be so close, she and I, in spite of the difference in
            our ages.  We were real sisters.  But she doesn't
            talk to me any more.  We used to talk at least once
            a week.  I'd usually call her, so it wouldn't be on
            her phone bill.  But she's so distant now.  I don't
            know what's going on with her.
ROBERT:     Well, she's getting to an age when she must realize
            she's probably going to spend the rest of her life
SUE ANN:    Hmph!  How can she feel alone, with all of those cats
            of hers?
ROBERT:     And how's Paul?  You keep in touch with him, don't
            you?  At least more than I do.
SUE ANN:    I know.  You're so busy, and you seem so far away,
            sometimes almost as though you're not a part of the
            family any more.
ROBERT:     Well, Paul's just a little more than I can take some-
            times, even if he is my brother.
SUE ANN:    I understand what you're saying.  But Bobby, he has
            a real calling.  His congregation loves him, he's so
            good and so thoughtful.  He is truly a disciple of
            the Lord.  I wish I could be more like him.
ROBERT:     Oh, really?  And Mildred?  You want to be like her?
SUE ANN:    You know what I mean.  They live such a good and
            simple life, just working for others and trying to
            live by the teachings of the Lord.
ROBERT:     But you wouldn't want to be like them, would you?
SUE ANN:    Sometimes I feel so guilty about my life.  I haven't
            really dedicated it to God the way I should.  (pause) 
            Do you think God loves me, the way he loves Paul
            and Mildred, who are so good?
ROBERT:     You know what I think, Suzie.  If I were God, I'd
            sure love you a damn sight better than that smug
SUE ANN:    Don't swear, Bobby.  But really, do you think God
            loves me?
ROBERT:     (puts his arm around her)  Sweetheart, I don't know
            why you're asking me, who doesn't give a damn or
            care about God, at least the kind of God that Paul
            preaches.  But yes, I think you can be pretty sure
            that God loves you.
SUE ANN:    I hope so. (cries a little)

(PAUL and MILDRED enter front door, with their children ENOCH
and RUTH)
PAUL:       We're here!  Hang up your things, kids, and go find
            Grandmother.  Hello, Robert.  How are you, Sue Ann?
RUTH, ENOCH:      Hello, Uncle Robert!  Aunt Suzie!
MILDRED:    Hello, Robert, Suzie.
ROBERT:     (shakes hands with PAUL)  Hello, little brother.  Hi,
            Mildred.  Kids, come give Uncle Bobby a hug!
(RUTH and ENOCH each give ROBERT a hug)
ROBERT:     (pulls two bills from his pocket)  Here's ten dollars
            for each of you, from Uncle Robert.
RUTH, ENOCH:      Ooh, thanks!
ROBERT:     And you don't have to pay tithing on it.  I already
            paid it.
ENOCH:      Hey, great!
RUTH:       Really?  Thanks, Uncle Robert.
ENOCH:      Mom, can we go watch Grandpa's big screen?
MILDRED:    Okay, but not too loud.  And nothing violent!
(RUTH and ENOCH run out, to den)

MILDRED:    You really shouldn't do that, Robert.
ROBERT:     Hey, what's twenty bucks?  I like to see the kids
            enjoy themselves.
MILDRED:    I mean, you shouldn't tell them you've already tithed
            it.  That's hypocritical.
ROBERT:     (smiling, soothingly)  Don't make a big deal out of it,
            Mildred.  It's not worth it.
SUE ANN:    Mildred, you're looking marvelous.  Paul, it's so good
            to see you.  Robert and I were just talking about
PAUL:       Speak of the devil, eh?  
SUE ANN:    Now let's not have any talk of religion.  This is a
            happy occasion for Mom and Dad.  Fifty years of
            marriage!  Isn't it beautiful?
MILDRED:    Yes.
PAUL:       So how're you doing, Robert?  Still doing well by
            doing good, curing wealthy city ladies of their aches
            and pains?
ROBERT:     Keeping busy, and we're doing all right.  How about
PAUL:       Well, nobody ever got rich doing the Lord's work,
            that's for sure, but it's a good life.
ROBERT:     Laying up treasures where moth and rust doth not
            corrupt, eh?
PAUL:       (firmly)  That's right.
SUE ANN:    Robert!
ROBERT:     Well, let's see what they're doing in the kitchen.  I
            think Mom made coffee, and I want to see Dad's new
            band saw.
PAUL:       He's got a new band saw?
ROBERT:     Yeah, he mentioned how he would like one, so I sent
            him the money.
PAUL:       Must be nice.  Honey, we're going to find Dad and
            go out to the shop.  
(PAUL and ROBERT exit)

SUE ANN:    I envy you sometimes, Mildred.
MILDRED:    Why?
SUE ANN:    Oh, you seem to have it all together.  You don't ever
            seem to be tempted or have doubts.
MILDRED:    It's just a matter of faith, Sue Ann.  If you always
            have a little prayer in your heart, and let the Lord
            guide every moment of your day, there's nothing to
            worry about.
SUE ANN:    I try to do that, like Mom and Dad taught me when
            I was little, but sometimes it's so hard.  
MILDRED:    Just don't give up.  God is testing you, testing all
            of us.
SUE ANN:    Sometimes I feel like I've flunked the test already.

(MARGO and HANNAH enter from the kitchen)
HANNAH:     The men have gone out to the shop, thank goodness. 
            Lunch is almost ready.  Hello, Mildred, dear.  Where
            are the children?
MILDRED:    I think they're in the den, watching TV.  Hello,
(The following exchange between MARGO and MILDRED is very
low-key, polite and with smiles all around.  Neither shows any
overt anger or resentment. ) 

MARGO:      Hello, Mildred.  How are you?
MILDRED:    I'm just fine, thanks.  
MARGO:      I'm glad.  
MILDRED:    (pause)  How's your business going?
MARGO:      It's doing very well, very well, thanks.
MILDRED:    (pause)  You still enjoy working outside the home?
MARGO:      Oh, yes.  It allows me to feel fulfilled ... as a woman. 
            (pause)  And you still enjoy staying at home?
MILDRED:    Yes, life has been very good to us, Paul and me.  We
            have our children, and our work helping others.  We
            enjoy many blessings.
MARGO:      Good.  Life's good to us, too.  And we're enjoying
            our blessings, too.
MILDRED:    Well, that's good.  I'm happy for you.
MARGO:      And I'm happy for you, too.
SUE ANN:    What is this, anyway?  Counting your blessings?
MILDRED:    Some people know where their blessings come from,
            but some people don't.
HANNAH:     Now, girls, let's not get onto that.  To each his own,
            whatever you feel comfortable with, and God loves us
MARGO:      I never doubted that for a minute.
MILDRED:    (aside) How can you say that you don't doubt some-
            thing that you don't believe?
SUE ANN:    Please, Mildred.
MILDRED:    You probably thank God that you're an atheist.
MARGO:      At least I am a very devout atheist, and I practice
            my religion one hundred percent.
SUE ANN:    Will you both stop it? (pause)  So, Margo, do you
            still have that beautiful Queen Anne dressing table
            in your shop that I liked so much?
MARGO:      Oh, I remember the one.  No, I sold that for three
            thousand dollars to a lady who was redoing her
            guest room.
MILDRED:    I can't believe somebody paying that much for a
            piece of furniture!

(CLAIRE enters from front door)
HANNAH:     Claire, baby!  I was wondering what was keeping
CLAIRE:     Hello, Mom.  Hi, everybody.
MARGO, MILDRED:   Hello, Claire.
SUE ANN:    (jumps up, goes to CLAIRE)  Claire, honey, you look
            awful!  Are you all right?
CLAIRE:     Well, thanks a lot.  Same to you.
SUE ANN:    No, I mean, really, are you okay?
CLAIRE:     Yeah, I'm fine.  Just tired.  I didn't get my full
            night's sleep, thanks very much.
SUE ANN:    Well, I'm sorry.  I said I was sorry.  But I assumed
            that somebody would be up at nine-thirty on a
            Saturday morning.
CLAIRE:     Maybe I was out late last night, having a ball of a
            time with some exciting lover.  Don't assume anything
            about me.
HANNAH:     Come on, everybody, lunch is ready.  Come help me
            set the table, Claire.  
MILDRED:    I'll help, too.

(HANNAH, CLAIRE and MILDRED exit to kitchen)

SUE ANN:    Did you see what she was wearing, Margo?  It's so
            sad.  I used to try to help her with her clothes, but
            she won't let me any more.
MARGO:      A woman's clothes are a very personal thing.  Claire
            obviously likes the way she dresses.
SUE ANN:    But look at you, Margo.  That's such a beautiful
            outfit.  You're always so ...  elegant.  You must
            spend a fortune on clothes.
MARGO:      (hesitantly)  Well, no, not really.  Not much.
SUE ANN:    But you must!  That suit you're wearing must have
            cost five hundred dollars if it cost a penny.  It's a
            designer outfit, isn't it?
MARGO:      (a little embarrassed)  Yes, it's a Dior.
SUE ANN:    A Christian Dior?
MARGO:      (chuckles)  Actually, I guess if I'm wearing it, it
            must be an atheist Dior.
SUE ANN:    Oh, what I would give to own a Dior!  But I could
            never afford it.  Scotty would never let me spend
            that much money!
MARGO:      Sue Ann, I'll tell you what I paid for this suit: 
            forty dollars.
SUE ANN:    Then it's an imitation?
MARGO:      No, it's genuine.  I got it at a little consignment
            shop, where I buy all of my clothes.
SUE ANN:    A consignment shop?
MARGO:      You know, where women who really can afford to buy
            designer outfits sell them after they've worn them a
            couple of times.
SUE ANN:    You mean you bought it used?
MARGO:      Sure.  
SUE ANN:    It doesn't look used.
MARGO:      Of course not.  It's top quality clothing.  I just
            wasn't the woman who had to break it in.
SUE ANN:    I don't think I could do that.
MARGO:      Why not?  It's the only way I can afford to have the
            kind of wardrobe I want.   And deserve.
SUE ANN:    Oh, you're so clever.  I envy you.  But I don't think
            I could put on something that somebody else -
            somebody I didn't know - had had against her skin. 
            It's so ... intimate.
MARGO:      (laughs)  That's why you'll probably never commit
SUE ANN:    (laughs)  You're probably right.
MARGO:      Sue Ann, when you're travelling, do you ever spend
            the night in a hotel?
SUE ANN:    Yes, of course.
MARGO:      Well, then you spend the whole night wrapped up in
            the same sheets and blankets some stranger slept in
            the night before, and snuggle into the very same
SUE ANN:    (laughs)  I guess you're right, as usual.
MARGO:      Of course I'm right.  But don't take that as an
            encouragement to start cheating on Scotty.
SUE ANN:    Don't worry - Scotty would never let me have an
            affair.  (notices MARGO's luggage by the door) 
            Robert didn't take your luggage up.
MARGO:      No.  We're staying at the Green Gables.
SUE ANN:    You're not staying here?
MARGO:      Sue Ann, you know I love you all dearly, but I can
            only take so much of Robert's family.  After this
            anniversary party tonight, with nothing stronger to
            drink than iced tea, I'm going to need a couple of
            hours in a big, hot tub and a couple of stiff bran-
SUE ANN:    Well, I'm sorry you're not staying here.  We maybe
            could have sat up and talked.
MARGO:      Sorry, Suzie. 
SUE ANN:    I've got some brandy in my suitcase.  I would have
MARGO:      What do you carry brandy with you for?
SUE ANN:    Sometimes I need it to relax me.  That's all.
MARGO:      What does Scotty think of that?
SUE ANN:    He doesn't know that I've got it with me.  It's just
            a ... tranquilizer.  It's not like I'm really drinking. 
            (beat)  I'm not a drinker, for goodness' sake!
MARGO:      But can't he tell if you've "taken your medicine?"
SUE ANN:    I carry mouthwash, too.  Besides, it's none of his
MARGO:      But, Sue Ann ... 
SUE ANN:    Oh, he'd kill me, if he knew, probably.  He's kind of
            fanatical about it because his father died of alcohol-
MARGO:      Well, your mother and father aren't exactly toleration
            personified, either, when it comes to alcohol.  Hell,
            Mom doesn't even put brandy in her Christmas fruit
SUE ANN:    They're so good, aren't they?  I wish I could be like

(ROBERT, PRESCOTT, MILDRED enter one by one)

ROBERT:     Come on, Grandma has lunch on!
PRESCOTT:   Sue Ann, you should see that band saw! It must
            have cost five hundred bucks!
MILDRED:    Come on, kids!  Turn off the TV and come eat lunch.

(RUTH, ENOCH enter running, from den)

MILDRED:    Check your hands!

(RUTH, ENOCH run into kitchen)

(PAUL enters)

PAUL:       (calling after RUTH and ENOCH) Slow down!  (to the
            others)  Lunch is on the table.  We're about to say

(HAROLD enters)

HAROLD:     Come on, everybody!  Let's get this family together!
ROBERT:     We're coming, Dad!
HAROLD:     The photographer will be here in an hour!
MARGO:      Photographer?
PAUL:       We're having a family portrait taken.
SUE ANN:    What?  Why didn't anybody say anything?
PRESCOTT:   You hired a photographer?
HAROLD:     Of course!  I want a picture of this wonderful family
            of ours, taken on our golden wedding day.
PRESCOTT:   You didn't need a photographer.  He'll charge you an
            arm and a leg.  I've got an automatic timer on my
SUE ANN:    I don't want my picture taken in this.
MARGO:      You look fine, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    There'll be time to change, won't there?
PRESCOTT:   How much is he charging you?
HAROLD:     Scotty, I'm paying for it, don't worry.
ROBERT:     Come on, let's eat.
MARGO:      (to ROBERT, aside) I think I need a cigarette, now.
ROBERT:     (to MARGO, aside)  Later, kid.
HAROLD:     It's so great to have my family here together!  When
            was the last time we shared a meal, all of us at the
            table, the whole family?

(Hannah sticks her head in from kitchen)

HANNAH:     Come on, everybody!  We're making the kids wait
            until we've said grace!
HAROLD:     We're coming, Mother!
            (all exit to kitchen)


(half an hour later)
(HAROLD, ROBERT, and then MARGO enter from kitchen)
HAROLD:     Boy, that mother of yours can sure cook, can't she?
ROBERT:     I'm not sure I'll be able to eat anything at the
            banquet tonight, after that meal.
HAROLD:     Margo, you hardly ate a thing.
MARGO:      I don't eat much, Dad.  But the ice cream was
ROBERT:     Your ice cream is something I really miss, Dad.
HAROLD:     Well, if you'd have set up practice here, you could
            have had it any time you got a hankering.
MARGO:      I think I'll walk around the block.
ROBERT:     Okay, kiddo.  Don't get lost.
HAROLD:     Margo, are you still smoking?
MARGO:      It's my only vice, Dad.
HAROLD:     You should really give it up.  A smart girl like you. 
            Your body is a temple, you know.  First Corinthians,
            sixth chapter.
ROBERT:     I've always thought so.
HAROLD:     What have you always thought?
ROBERT:     (smiles)  That her body is a temple.
HAROLD:     (irritated)  You know what I mean.
MARGO:      (lightly) In my temple I burn incense, Dad.  It's part
            of my religion.
HAROLD:     (sadly)  Don't mock, honey.  God won't be mocked.
ROBERT:     Okay, Dad, okay.  You know it doesn't do any good.
MARGO:      See you in a little bit. (takes her purse, exit front

ROBERT:     You're sure we can't help in the kitchen?
HAROLD:     Oh, your mother's got it all under control.  That's
            one thing she's good at.
ROBERT:     So how's life treating you, Dad?  Mom says you're
            not enjoying your woodshop as much as you used to.
HAROLD:     What's she been telling you?  It's the one place I
            like to be more than anyplace.
ROBERT:     Mom says you don't do much out there any more.
HAROLD:     How would she know?  She never comes out there.
ROBERT:     She says she doesn't hear the machinery running
            much lately.
HAROLD:     She does, huh?
ROBERT:     That's what she said.
HAROLD:     I read out there, too, you know.  I keep a Bible
ROBERT:     (chuckles)  I would have thought you knew it by
            heart, by now.
HAROLD:     Maybe we can memorize it, Robert, and still not know
            it truly in our hearts.
ROBERT:     All right, Dad.
HAROLD:     We've been all over this, you and I.  I know you
            don't believe like I do, even though I wish you did. 
            I just don't understand how you can be truly happy
            or at peace without a belief in God.
ROBERT:     Don't worry about me, Dad.  I'm at peace with myself
            and at peace with the world.
HAROLD:     You may think so, but in this life you can get your
            peace shattered pretty bad and pretty sudden-like,
            believe me.  Believe me.
ROBERT:     Dad, something's bothering you.  What is it?
HAROLD:     (pause; he is struggling with himself)  We may not
            see eye-to-eye on everything, Bobby, but you're my
            oldest child, my first-born, and being my first-born
            brings with it a birthright, the same birthright that
            Esau sold for a mess of pottage, and I can't help
            think of Esau when I think of you, and how ... 
ROBERT:     Dad, don't get going on that now.  You've had years
            by now to get over my loss of faith.  Tell me what's
            really bothering you now.
HAROLD:     (very emotional)  You're not only my oldest, but
            you're also the only one in the family that might
            understand.  And that's the reason that I think I
            want to tell you about it.  It's just tearing me up.
ROBERT:     Dad!  What is it?
HAROLD:     I can hardly bring myself to talk about it.
ROBERT:     Are you sick?  Has Doctor Langley told you some-
HAROLD:     I'm not sick in the body, Robert.  That would be
            easy.  That I could handle okay.
ROBERT:     What, then?
HAROLD:     It's my soul, Bobby, my eternal soul!  I'm in danger
            of losing my eternal soul!
ROBERT:     Dad, what's happened?
HAROLD:     Don't think badly of me, son.
ROBERT:     I've never seen you like this.  Of all the people I
            know in this world, you are probably the least likely
            candidate for losing your soul, for Christ's sake!
HAROLD:     Please don't use the Lord's name like that, Bobby!
ROBERT:     I'm sorry, Dad.  Have you been cheating your golf
            buddies on your scores?  What?
HAROLD:     Don't make light of it, Bobby.
ROBERT:     All right, Dad.  Tell me what you've done that's so

(pause, as HAROLD tries to compose himself)

HAROLD:     About six months ago I was over in Carlson, seeing
            a guy that still owes me money on furniture I sold
            him on time payments for his big house, and then
            his wife left him, and he's been dragging on about
            paying me.
ROBERT:     He hasn't paid you yet, after all these years?
HAROLD:     No.  Well, I spent the whole afternoon and all I got
            out of him was fifty bucks, and I was sitting in
            Dawson's Coffee Shop having a cup of coffee, feeling
            pretty mad and depressed, before driving back home.
ROBERT:     So?
HAROLD:     So I'm sitting there, and this woman walks up to me
            and says, "Biff?"
ROBERT:     "Biff?"  What's that?
HAROLD:     That's what everybody called me years ago when I
            was on the high school football team.
ROBERT:     I knew you'd played football, but I didn't know that.
HAROLD:     A lot of things you don't know, my boy.
ROBERT:     So, who was this lady?
HAROLD:     Well, I can't tell you her name, but ... 
ROBERT:     You don't know her name?
HAROLD:     Of course I know her name, but I can't tell you.
ROBERT:     Okay.  Go on.
HAROLD:     Well, this lady, this woman, was a girl I hadn't seen
            in forty, fifty years!  She'd been in my high school
            class, sat right in front of me in Miss Lowe's world
            history class, and I practically flunked world history
            because I spent all my time just looking at her silky
            long hair and inhaling her fragrance.  And writing
            poetry about her in my history notebook.
ROBERT:     (smiling)  Why, Dad!  An old flame!
HAROLD:     Well, I recognized her right off, even though she
            was a lot older.  But son-of-a-gun, she was still a
ROBERT:     So did you get to reminisce a little?
HAROLD:     Well, actually, we didn't have all that much to
            reminisce about, because I had been so shy in
            school, not to mention poor, that I never got the
            gumption to ask her out or anything.  I just admired
            her from afar, and in world history.
ROBERT:     So what did you talk about then, in the coffee shop?
HAROLD:     It was the strangest thing.  She told me that in high
            school she had always wished that I had asked her
            out, that she had always had a crush on me, and all
            these years she had wondered what had happened to
ROBERT:     Well, it wasn't like you had disappeared.
HAROLD:     No, she knew that I had married your mother.  And
            that we lived here, and that I had the store.  But
            nothing more.
ROBERT:     And what had she been doing all these years?
HAROLD:     She'd married a guy from Carlson that she'd met the
            summmer after we graduated, and raised a family. 
            He died a couple of years ago.
ROBERT:     Well, that was nice you ran into her, after all these
HAROLD:     No, Bobby.  You don't understand.
ROBERT:     What do you mean?
HAROLD:     Bobby, I was so tickled to see her again.  We sat
            there in that booth in the coffee shop for the
            longest time, the two of us, and she was smiling and
            laughing and so happy to see me again.
ROBERT:     So what's wrong with that?
HAROLD:     Then she wanted to drive me up on Spyglass Hill
            and show me the view, and I let her talk me into it.
ROBERT:     There's nothing wrong with seeing the view from
            Spyglass Hill, Dad.
HAROLD:     But once we got there, she didn't want to look at
            any view.  My lord, Bobby, it was something else!
ROBERT:     What do you mean?
HAROLD:     I mean, she was all over me, kissing me and nuzzling
            her face on my neck and running her hand through
            my hair!
ROBERT:     Gee!  What did you do?
HAROLD:     God forgive me, Bobby, but, oh, it was wonderful!  It
            felt so damned good!  Not just physically, but it
            made me feel good inside, to think that a beautiful
            woman could be so affectionate ... and loving like
            this ... to me!  I mean, she kissed me like she really
            liked kissing me!
ROBERT:     Well, Dad, that's okay.  That's nothing that you're
            going to lose your soul over, a little harmless
            necking in a lovers' lane.
HAROLD:     (agitated; gets up, walks nervously around) But that
            wasn't all, Bobby!  (whispering)  She wanted to go
            to a motel with me!
ROBERT:     No kidding!  A motel?  What did you do?
HAROLD:     I don't know what I was thinking, where my good
            sense was.  Maybe it was her fragrance, her per-
            fume, the idea of wanting to be closer to her.  I just
            couldn't bring myself to say no to her.  She said
            nobody would ever know.  She even paid for the
ROBERT:     Well, I'll be damned!
HAROLD:     No, Bobby.  I'll be damned!  I committed adultery! 
            I've broken my marriage vows!  I've sinned against
            God and his holy commandments:  "Thou shalt not
            commit adultery!"  (at this moment is standing at the
            big Bible; leans over it, hangs his head, gently
            pounds his fist on the Bible, in despair)
ROBERT:     All right, Dad, but you believe in a kind and forgiv-
            ing God.  Surely you believe that he'll forgive you
            one mistake.
HAROLD:     It wasn't just one mistake!  I went over to Carlson
            probably a dozen times!  I did it again and again!
ROBERT:     For crying out loud, Dad!  I can't believe this! 
            Didn't Mom ever suspect something?
HAROLD:     No, she thought I was in Carlson trying to collect
            that money.  I deceived her, Bobby.  I bore false
            witness to my wife.
ROBERT:     Is it still going on?
HAROLD:     Oh, no.  I finally broke it off, when I realized that
            all her loving and prettiness were just Satan's way
            of getting at me.
ROBERT:     A beautiful and loving woman isn't Satan's work,
HAROLD:     Don't fall for that like I did!  I was in the Devil's
            very hands.  Only the Devil could bewitch somebody
            the way that woman did me.
ROBERT:     So, it's over now?
HAROLD:     Except for my confession and penance.
ROBERT:     Confession and penance?
HAROLD:     I have to confess and make it right before God can
            forgive me.  The Apostle John says, "If we confess
            our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our
            sins."  But we have to confess.
ROBERT:     But you're not a Catholic.  I thought only Catholics
HAROLD:     No, the Apostle James clearly says, "Confess your
            faults one to another."  It's not just for Catholics.
ROBERT:     Well, you've confessed to me, Dad.  That's enough,
            isn't it?
HAROLD:     I have to confess to those placed in authority over
            me by God.  That's why I have to meet with the
            Board of Elders tomorrow.  To confess to them.
ROBERT:     Dad, this has nothing to do with them.  You don't
            have to tell them anything.
HAROLD:     But Paul says that I do.  I can't be forgiven until
            I've confessed to the church.
ROBERT:     Paul?  You've told Paul?
HAROLD:     He's not just my son, Robert.  He's my pastor.  He
            was the first one I went to.  I had to, even though
            I knew he'd be hard on me.
ROBERT:     Oh, Dad, why did you do that?  He has about as
            much forgiveness and understanding in his heart as
            the Spanish Inquisition.

(MARGO enters from front door)

MARGO:      Oh, it's a beautiful day outside.
ROBERT:     Did you enjoy your walk?
MARGO:      Very much.
HAROLD:     (to ROBERT, aside)  Don't say anything to Margo.
MARGO:      Am I interrupting something?
HAROLD:     No, no.  I think I'll go out to the shop for a while.
ROBERT:     Are you okay, Dad?
HAROLD:     I'm fine, son.

(HAROLD exit)

MARGO:      Something's wrong.  What is it?
ROBERT:     Nothing, really
MARGO:      Now, listen.  I know you well enough to know when...
ROBERT:     I can't say anything.
MARGO:      Honey, don't keep things from me.  If I can help...

(PAUL enters)

PAUL:       Dad just went out to the shop looking pretty upset. 
            Has he spoken to you about ... 
ROBERT:     Just now.
MARGO:      What's the matter?
PAUL:       Margo, this is a personal matter, and I think it
            would be better if you let Robert and me discuss it
MARGO:      You don't think I can be trusted, Paul?
PAUL:       No, it's just that ... 
MARGO:      More family secrets, I suppose?
PAUL:       Margo, it's something that is between us and our
            father.  It has nothing to do with you.
ROBERT:     Let me talk to Paul for a minute, Margo, and I'll fill
            you in later.
MARGO:      Sure.  No problem.  (exit upstairs)

(MILDRED and SUE ANN enter)

SUE ANN:    Dad seems awful upset.
ROBERT:     Yeah, I was just going to talk to Paul about it. 
            (awkward pause)  Ah, maybe Mildred should ... 
PAUL:       Mildred knows about it.
ROBERT:     But you just insisted that Margo ... 
PAUL:       Mildred already knows, but Margo doesn't, and it's
            just as well that not too many people know.
SUE ANN:    What is this, anyway?
MILDRED:    It'll be all right, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    What's the matter?  Is something wrong with Dad? 
            Is he sick?  Tell me!
ROBERT:     No, Paul, if Mildred knows, then Margo should be in
            on this, too.  She's just as much a part of this
PAUL:       Except that there are certain ... ah ... aspects of this
            matter that Mildred will have more understanding for
            than Margo, and I don't want to cause dissension
            over those aspects.
ROBERT:     What are you talking about?
SUE ANN:    Will somebody tell me what's going on?  Please!
PAUL:       This is a spiritual matter, a matter of faith and
            morals, and Margo is a non-believer.
ROBERT:     Well, so am I, and yet Dad told me!
PAUL:       You're a member of the family.
ROBERT:     So is Margo!
PAUL:       Not in the eyes of God, Robert.
ROBERT:     Are you pulling that old sanctimonious crap, Paul? 
            That she was divorced when we got married, so
            we're not really married?
PAUL:       It's not crap, Robert!  If you had eyes to see and
            ears to hear ...
SUE ANN:    Stop this!  I don't want you two wasting time argu-
            ing about religion when something has happened to
ROBERT:     I'm getting Margo.  I want her here, and she has
            every right to be here.  (exit upstairs)
MILDRED:    Does she even want to be here?

(enter HANNAH, RUTH, ENOCH from kitchen)

HANNAH:     What's all the commotion?
PAUL:       Nothing, Mom.  Robert got going again on religion.
HANNAH:     I wish he'd just drop that, it distresses me to see
            you all fighting.  We finished the dishes and got
            them all put away.  Ruth and Enoch are great help.
ENOCH:      Can we go watch TV now, Grandma?
HANNAH:     I suppose so, but don't turn it too loud.  I think I'm
            going to try to rest a little before tonight.
RUTH:       I get to pick this time, Eenie!  (RUTH and ENOCH
HANNAH:     Will anybody mind if I go lay this body down for a
SUE ANN:    No, Momma.  That's a good idea.
MILDRED:    I'll go upstairs with you, in case you need anything.

(HANNAH and MILDRED exit upstairs)

PAUL:       Sit down, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    I'm scared, Paul.  Daddy's not going to die, is he?
PAUL:       No, no.  Physically he's fine.

(CLAIRE enters from kitchen)

CLAIRE:     So, is this where the party is?
PAUL:       Sit down, Claire.
CLAIRE:     (sarcastically)  You're not going to hold a prayer
            circle, are you, Paul?
SUE ANN:    Something's happened to Dad, honey.
CLAIRE:     He looked fine to me just now.  What's the matter?

(ROBERT, MARGO enter from upstairs)

ROBERT:     Is Mom all right?
PAUL:       Yes, she's just going upstairs to lie down a bit
            before the dinner this evening.
CLAIRE:     What's going on?
PAUL:       Dad is having to deal with a problem right now, and
            it's bound to come out soon, so Robert and I think
            the family ought to know.
ROBERT:     I never said any such thing.  I don't think every-
            body has to know.
SUE ANN:    (almost out of control)  This is getting to me! 
            Somebody better stop all this hemming and hawing
            and spit it out!
ROBERT:     Okay, okay.  You're absolutely right, Suzie.  Just sit
PAUL:       First of all, I want to say that we must have under-
            standing for Dad.  None of us is perfect.  All of us
            are sinners in the eyes of God.
CLAIRE:     Get to the point, Paul.
PAUL:       Dad was tempted recently, very sorely tempted, and
            Satan was successful in entrapping him in his
SUE ANN:    What are you talking about?  What happened?  Has
            he embezzled money or something?
ROBERT:     (blurts it out)  He had an affair!
CLAIRE:     What?
SUE ANN:    Dad?
CLAIRE:     You mean a love affair?
MARGO:      (smiling)  Your father?
SUE ANN:    For God's sake, he's seventy-two years old!
CLAIRE:     Does Mother know?
PAUL:       No, not yet.
CLAIRE:     The old bastard!  Cheating on his wife after all these
MARGO:      How long ago did this happen?
ROBERT:     Just this last year.  
SUE ANN:    Who was it?
ROBERT:     A childhood sweetheart.
MARGO:      How sweet!
PAUL:       Apparently she seduced him.
CLAIRE:     I don't believe it.  Maybe snow on the roof, you
            know.  He always was a lecher.
SUE ANN:    Now, Claire, that's not fair.  You don't know that.
PAUL:       That's why he has to meet with the Elders tomorrow.
MARGO:      What do they have to do with it?
PAUL:       He has to confess his sin.
MARGO:      Oh, I don't believe this.  You're not serious!
PAUL:       I wouldn't expect you to understand this kind of
SUE ANN:    Are you going to tell Mother?  It will kill her!
PAUL:       That's up to the Elders.
ROBERT:     That's grotesque!  They're not concerned about
            people's feelings!  It's just the letter of the Mosaic
            Law for them!  Hmph!  They'll probably condemn him
            to be stoned to death.
PAUL:       The church isn't as backward and stupid as you
            would like to believe, Robert.  The Elders are good
            and kind men, true disciples of Christ.  The whole
            basis of their faith is love, their love for their fellow
            man and our Savior's love and grace for us all,
            including the repentant sinner.
SUE ANN:    What makes him think he has to confess to them,
PAUL:       I told him he had to.  
SUE ANN:    You?!  Why did you do that?
PAUL:       It's what the Bible teaches us.  And it's the law of
            the church.  I'm not just his son, Suzie.  I'm also
            his Pastor.
MARGO:      Oh, for God's sake!
PAUL:       In a way, it's a beautiful thing.  He was a spiritual
            guide to me when I was growing up, and now I can
            be the same to him.
MARGO:      I'm going for a walk.  I can't take any more of this. 
            (gets up)

(PRESCOTT enters from Den)

PRESCOTT:   Hey, what's up?  Looks like a funeral!
SUE ANN:    Where the hell have you been?
PRESCOTT:   I was in the den with the kids.  We were watching
            TV.  Laurel and Hardy.  Boy, they are funny!
MARGO:      Robert, I'll be back in a few minutes.  Can we go to
            the motel soon?
PRESCOTT:   Don't forget, the photographer's coming any minute
SUE ANN:    I can't.  I can't have my picture taken.
PRESCOTT:   What's the matter, honey?
MARGO:      I'll be right back.  (exit front door)

(MILDRED comes downstairs)

(The following three conversations all are more or less simulta-

PAUL:       Is Mother resting?
MILDRED:    Yes.  She was exhausted, I think.
PRESCOTT:   What's going on, Baby?
SUE ANN:    Dad's in trouble with the church.  He cheated on
PRESCOTT:   I'll be damned!  (chuckles)  The old son-of-a-bitch!
CLAIRE:     I hate him!  I hate him!
ROBERT:     Claire, try to understand.
CLAIRE:     I understand, all right.  What is it with you men,
            anyway?  Strutting around, blindly following that
            puny piece of flabby flesh, as if it were pointing
            you the way - to what?
ROBERT:     I don't think it was like that.
MILDRED:    Why did you have to tell everyone?
PAUL:       Dad told Robert, and you know you can't trust him
            with anything.
SUE ANN:    Stop smirking, Scotty.  Or does it bring back pleas-
            ant memories of your own?
PRESCOTT:   (still chuckling)  No, no.  I just think it's a gas,
            that's all.  Maybe there's still hope for us all.  
SUE ANN:    You're disgusting!

(Doorbell rings)

PAUL:       (going to front door)  That's the photographer.

PAUL:       Come in, Mr. Bloom.

(Photographer enters, with his equipment)

PHOTOG:     Hello, everybody.  Hello!  Wonderful occasion, isn't
            it?  Wonderful!
PAUL:       I think we'll be taking the group over here.  (indi-
            cate sofa)  Will that be all right?
PHOTOG:     I think here at the stairs will be better.  (considers
            the stairs a moment)  Yes, the stairs will be fine,
            just fine.  I'll go ahead and set up.
MILDRED:    I'll get Mother.  (goes upstairs)
ROBERT:     Scotty, would you tell Dad the photographer's here? 
            I think he's out in the shop.
PRESCOTT:   Sure!  Ha!  Bet he's out there looking at a stash of
            girlie magazines!  Ha-ha! (exit)
ROBERT:     (calling after PRESCOTT)  Don't say anything to him.
PAUL:       Claire, get Ruth and Enoch, will you?  They're
            watching TV.

(CLAIRE exit to den)

(MARGO enters)

SUE ANN:    I'm going to have to go upstairs and change.  Margo,
            are you wearing what you have on?
MARGO:      Sure, why not?
SUE ANN:    Oh, look at me!  This isn't quite right.
MARGO:      You look just fine, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    Why do they do this?  Nobody told me.
MARGO:      Well, none of us knew about it.
SUE ANN:    I'm all wrinkled from the drive.  Oh, damn!  Oh, I'm
            sorry.  I shouldn't have said that.
MARGO:      It's OK.
SUE ANN:    Do I have time to change?
MARGO:      Probably not.
PAUL:       Well, please do whatever you're going to do.  Mr.
            Bloom is waiting.
SUE ANN:    At least I can check my hair and make-up.  Are you
MARGO:      No, I'm fine.   You really look OK, Sue Ann.  But go
            ahead, if it makes you feel better.
SUE ANN:    I'll be right back.  (exit upstairs)

(RUTH, CLAIRE enter)

RUTH:       Do we have to have our picture taken?
CLAIRE:     I guess so.  Stick your tongue out, if you feel like
RUTH:       Can I?
CLAIRE:     Ask your father.  It's probably a sin.
RUTH:       Can I?
PAUL:       Of course not.  Try to look nice.  This picture will
            be something you'll treasure in years to come.

(PRESCOTT enters)

PRESCOTT:   The old boy says he's not ready yet.  Give him a
            few minutes.  He was kind of sniveling.
ROBERT:     I'll see what I can do. (exit to shop)

PAUL:       Is Enoch coming?
RUTH:       He's putting gunk on his hair.  (imitate ENOCH
            smoothing his hair)
PHOTOG:     We're just about ready to go here.  How many people
PAUL:       Let's see, the parents, another seven adults, and
            these two young people.
PHOTOG:     Fine, fine.

(ENOCH enters)

ENOCH:      Okay, let's get it over with.
PAUL:       Straighten your tie, Enoch.  (smoothes out ENOCH's
            jacket, looks him over)
RUTH:       Ooh, yuck!  You used too much!
ENOCH:      (aside to RUTH)  Shut up!

(HANNAH, MILDRED, SUE ANN enter from upstairs)

HANNAH:     Oh, how lovely this is going to be!  But where are
            the roses?
SUE ANN:    (looking at herself, checking her outfit, her hair) Do
            I look all right?  There wasn't time to change.
HANNAH:     Where's Father?  I have to have my roses for the
PAUL:       He'll be right here.  Robert's getting him.
HANNAH:     He'll have to spruce up a little.  I brought down his
            suit jacket.
CLAIRE:     He'll look just fine.

(ROBERT and HAROLD enter; ROBERT is carrying a box which
contains five red roses wrapped in paper)

HANNAH:     Here he is.  And here are my roses!  Harold, put
            your jacket on.  Have you got your pocket comb? 
            Go out in the kitchen and look in the mirror.  Wet
            your hair a little.
HAROLD:     I look just fine.
CLAIRE:     (to nobody in particular)  Didn't I just say he'd look
            just fine?  The picture of a loving husband and
HANNAH:     Here, let me have my roses.  (opens the box, takes
            out the roses, unwraps the flower end)  Aren't they
SUE ANN:    They're lovely, Mother.  But no white roses?
HANNAH:     Not this year.  You know.  Not an odd year.
SUE ANN:    Of course.
HANNAH:     (to photographer)  All right, Mr. Bloom, how do you
            want us?
HAROLD:     If you'll just be patient, Hannah, I'm sure he'll tell
PHOTOG:     Why don't we take the honored couple first?  I'll
            have Mrs. Preston sit in this lovely armchair, and,
            Mr. Preston, will you stand beside her and place
            your hand on her shoulder like this?
CLAIRE:     (aside) How symbolic!
ENOCH:      Remember to smile, Grandpa!
SUE ANN:    That's going to be so lovely!
PHOTOG:     Allll right!  Hold it!  (takes picture)  Another one ...
            hooooold it!  (takes picture)
RUTH:       Those lights are going to hurt my eyes.
MILDRED:    Stop complaining!
PHOTOG:     A little more of a smile on this one, Mr. Preston,
            please... Come on.... That's it! (takes picture)  All
            right, let's get the group now, around the stairs. 
            We'll start with Mr. and Mrs. Preston here in the
            center, and the two young people here... (starts
            moving people into position)
SUE ANN:    Why are Ruth and Enoch going to be in the picture?
PAUL:       Well, they are grandchildren.
SUE ANN:    What about my children?  They're grandchildren, too.
PAUL:       But they're not here, Suzie.
SUE ANN:    But that will look funny, won't it, to have only some
            of the grandchildren?
PAUL:       It's the only practical solution, since your children
            aren't here, obviously.
SUE ANN:    How could my children be here?  Martin's in France,
            Jeff is on the coast working in the campaign, and
            Cindy can't take time off from her job.
PAUL:       That's fine.  I understand.  But why should that
            mean that my kids aren't in their grandparent's
            fiftieth wedding anniversary portrait?
PRESCOTT:   It's okay, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    It's not okay.  You've always pulled things like this,
            Paul.  You always manipulate things your way.
ROBERT:     Please, Sue Ann, let's not spoil everything.
SUE ANN:    He's the one who's spoiling everything!
HANNAH:     Now, stop this, everybody.  Let's take a picture.  We
            can take one with Ruth and Enoch and one without.
MILDRED:    (aside to PAUL)  Why do they always let her have
            her way?
PHOTOG:     Now, please, you come over here, like this, and you,
            here, and you stand next to her, that's it... (finishes
            arranging the group, stands back, makes a few minor
            adjustments in the way some are standing, comment-
            ing ad lib)
HANNAH:     Think of it!  My whole family, my wonderful family!
PHOTOG:     Yes, and it's going to be a beautiful portrait!
HANNAH:     (turns to HAROLD)  And it all started fifty years
            ago.  You have given me all this.  My Harold!
PHOTOG:     All right, that's perfect!  Hooold it!  (takes picture,
            and lights go out immediately)


(The following day, Sunday, about noon.  Set is the same as in
Act I, except there is a prominent pile of gifts and gift boxes to
one side, and several large bouquets, including a vase with the
five red roses)

(HANNAH, SUE ANN, PRESCOTT, CLAIRE enter from front door, all
dressed in Sunday best, except perhaps for CLAIRE)

HANNAH:     Oh, Paul sometimes preaches just a tad too long!  I'm
            all done in!
SUE ANN:    Well, after that big whing-ding last night, I'm not
            surprised if you're a little tired.
PRESCOTT:   I had a hard time staying awake.  I mean, it was a
            nice sermon and all, but that building needs a good
            air conditioning unit.
CLAIRE:     Why don't you relax, Mom, and I'll fix us some lunch.
SUE ANN:    Yes, Mom.  I'll help Claire.
CLAIRE:     No.  You two sit and visit.  You don't get to see
            each other much.
PRESCOTT:   I'm going to go in the den and watch the game.  It
            should be starting about now.  (exit)
HANNAH:     Do you think we ought to wait for your father?  I
            can't imagine he'll be very long at the Elders'
SUE ANN:    (glances at CLAIRE)  Oh, let's go ahead.  Who knows
            who he might run into and get to talking.
CLAIRE:     I'll fix him something to eat when he gets here.

(sounds of a football game on television can be heard coming from
the den)

HANNAH:     Didn't Robert and Margo say they were coming over
            before they had to catch their plane?
CLAIRE:     I'm sure they'll drop by for a few minutes to say
            good-bye, Mom.
HANNAH:     We really didn't get to say good-bye last night, with
            all the commotion.
SUE ANN:    Speaking of commotion ...  (shouting toward the den) 
            Prescott!  Turn that thing down!  (pause a moment;
            the sound of the television fades)  I'm sure Bobby
            will be around soon, Mom.  He said he would.
HANNAH:     I just can't get over all the people last night! 
            Wasn't that something?  Who would have thought!
SUE ANN:    Well, Mom, you and Dad are very well-loved in this
            town, and rightly so.
HANNAH:     And all the presents!  I didn't expect presents.
CLAIRE:     Almost like a wedding.
HANNAH:     I was a little irritated at your father, though.  He
            seemed out of sorts, for some reason.
SUE ANN:    He's just not used to being honored, I guess.
HANNAH:     How can you say that?  President of the Chamber of
            Commerce all those years, and chairman of the board
            of Elders, and the church building fund committee? 
            He's had plenty of honors.  No, he just wasn't
            himself.  He wasn't enjoying himself, I could tell.  He
            didn't have second helpings of beef or pie.  

(SUE ANN and CLAIRE exchange looks)

CLAIRE:     I'll call you when it's ready.  (exit)
HANNAH:     You look tired, too, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    Yes, Momma, I guess I am.
HANNAH:     Not just tired.  I know you.  I've known you all
            your life.  (smiles fondly)  Something's bothering
SUE ANN:    No, Momma, nothing!  I'm just not used to partying
            so late.
HANNAH:     That's not it.  Are you having problems?
SUE ANN:    What makes you say that?
HANNAH:     (gently) The mouthwash doesn't cover the booze on
            your breath as well as you'd like, honey.  I'd
            recognize that smell anywhere.
SUE ANN:    Momma!  What do you mean!
HANNAH:     Don't try to deny it, dear.  That's a smell I remem-
            ber well from the first few years your father and I
            were married, when we were having problems, before
            I was able to turn him to God.
SUE ANN:    Daddy used to drink?
HANNAH:     He had second thoughts, I think, about settling
            down, and tried to deal with it sometimes with a
SUE ANN:    I didn't know that.
HANNAH:     A lot of things you don't know, dear.  A lot of
            things.  (Pause)  I know we haven't talked a lot, and
            maybe I didn't do a good job as a mother in teach-
            ing you about how to be a wife.  Probably because
            my mother never said anything to me.  She was very
SUE ANN:    Oh, Mother, you were just fine.  I have no com-
HANNAH:     Then why are you having problems now?
SUE ANN:    Prescott and I have adjusted very well to each
            other.  We've worked out whatever differences we
            had, long ago.
HANNAH:     Sometimes a mother can see things that others can't. 
            (Pause)  Can I ask you something personal?
SUE ANN:    Of course.  You're my mother.
HANNAH:     (not looking directly at Sue Ann)  Do you and
            Prescott get along all right... ah ...  at times of ... 
            oh, how can I say this ...  intimacy?
SUE ANN:    Of course, Mother.  
HANNAH:     I only ask because I know that the old adage is only
            half true:  "The way to a man's heart is through his
            stomach."  There's another way, and a woman has to
            use both.
SUE ANN:    (nervously) Mother, we don't need to be talking
            about this.  Prescott and I are very happy.
HANNAH:     I learned that it's up to a wife to make her husband
            happy.  That's her job, and her most important job. 
            Nobody else should be able to do that.  And to make
            a husband happy, a wife has to always be there for
            him, whether she feels like it or not.
SUE ANN:    Mother, please don't ... 
HANNAH:     You must accept this, Sue Ann.  I did.  I never
            refused your father.  Never, even when I really
            wished he would just leave me in peace.  But I
            played the role that God has assigned to me, and
            that was to serve my husband, whatever he might
SUE ANN:    Mother, ... 
HANNAH:     Sometimes, of course, men will get  ...  disgusting
            ideas, and at such times it is needful for a woman to
            take the lead and guide her husband in the paths of
            decency and pure marital love.  But then he is
            always grateful for having been reminded.  You
            know, the Bible is sometimes wrong, Sue Ann.  It was
            written by men, you know.  It wasn't Eve who
            tempted Adam.  It was the other way around. 
            Mother Eve was pure and virtuous, and Adam was
            able to seduce her only because she loved him more
            than God.  That is the lesson of Mother Eve.
CLAIRE:     (enters from kitchen)  Well, I'm no cook, but we
            won't starve.  Come and eat.  Where's Scotty?
SUE ANN:    I'll get him.  He's watching the game.  (goes to den
            door)  Scotty!  Lunch!
PRESCOTT:   (from offstage)  Just a second!  He's going to try a
            field goal!  Yeah!  Way to go!
SUE ANN:    Now, Prescott!
HANNAH:     (aside to SUE ANN)  Remember what I told you, Sue
            Ann.  Trust me.  I know about these things from
            long experience.
PRESCOTT:   (enters)  Okay!  They made the field goal and it's
            half time, so I can eat.

(all exit to kitchen, HANNAH's arm around SUE ANN)


(about an hour later; CLAIRE and SUE ANN are sitting in the
living room; faint sounds of a football game on TV from the den,
fading out as the scene progresses.  The scene appears to begin
in the middle of a conversation between CLAIRE and SUE ANN)

SUE ANN:    How could I tell her that it wasn't me I was upset
            about, but her?  I'm not going to tell her why I was
CLAIRE:     Well, somebody should tell her.  If we keep quiet,
            then we're a part of the deceit.  I won't have it on
            my conscience.  She deserves to know what kind of
            man she's married to.
SUE ANN:    Anybody can make a mistake, Claire.  We have to try
            to understand.
CLAIRE:     He's never been very understanding when it comes
            to others' mistakes.  He's always been very quick to
            sit in judgment.
SUE ANN:    You're still bitter about how he treated Larry Evans,
            aren't you?
CLAIRE:     At least Larry never committed adultery like Dad. 
            Caught once for petty theft when he was sixteen and
            put on probation.  But as far as Dad was concerned,
            he'd broken the commandment Thou shalt not steal,
            and I was told never to see him again.
SUE ANN:    Well, honey, you must admit, he was not a very nice
            boy, even aside from his trouble with the law.
CLAIRE:     But I was old enough to make decisions for myself.
SUE ANN:    You were only sixteen, too.
CLAIRE:     I never found another boy like Larry.
SUE ANN:    Don't worry, you'll find somebody better.  You just
            have to be patient, and have faith, and God will send
            you somebody wonderful.
CLAIRE:     Oh, sure.  (pause)  What do you think the Elders
            will do to Dad?  I mean, adultery is pretty bad.
SUE ANN:    I know, I know.

(ROBERT and MARGO enter from front door)

SUE ANN:    Oh, I'm so glad you're finally here.
ROBERT:     Hi.  Is Dad back yet from the board meeting?
CLAIRE:     No, not yet.  Hello, Margo.
MARGO:      Hello.
ROBERT:     Where's Mom?
SUE ANN:    Upstairs lying down.  I think last night did her in.
MARGO:      I'm not surprised.  That was quite a bash, consider-
            ing it was in a church hall and everybody was stone
CLAIRE:     I guess if you're used to it, you can have a lot of
            fun without a bottle.
SUE ANN:    We didn't think you'd be over in time for lunch, so
            we already had something.
ROBERT:     Oh, that's okay.  We slept in and then had a late
            breakfast at the coffee shop.
SUE ANN:    What do you think the Elders are going to do to
ROBERT:     Don't worry.  As Paul says, this isn't the Middle
            Ages.  Even in this town, kindness and understand-
            ing are more important than rigid ideas of sexual
            behavior, I would think.
CLAIRE:     You would think?
MARGO:      I don't understand why he even had to tell them. 
            It's none of their business.
SUE ANN:    Paul made him do it.
MARGO:      But why did he tell Paul?  It's none of his business,
ROBERT:     Paul is his pastor.  I guess you have to tell your
            pastor everything.
MARGO:      That's ridiculous.  Isn't one entitled to any privacy
            at all?
SUE ANN:    Dad's religion plays a very important role in his life,
MARGO:      Except that apparently he doesn't always follow it to
            the letter.
ROBERT:     Where's Scotty?
SUE ANN:    Watching the game.
ROBERT:     Nothing bothers him, does it?
SUE ANN:    He's your true innocent.  Nothing bothers him except
            whether he's gaining weight.  Or whether I am.

(HAROLD and PAUL enter from front door, PAUL first, helping his
father a little.  HAROLD seems stunned.)

PAUL:       Here we are, Dad.  Come on.

(everyone who was sitting stands up)

SUE ANN:    Daddy!  Are you all right?  (rushes over to him)
HAROLD:     Yes, yes.  I guess so.
ROBERT:     Let me take your things.  Sit down.
CLAIRE:     Would you like some coffee?
HAROLD:     No, no coffee.  (sits down)
SUE ANN:    (to PAUL)  What's happened?
PAUL:       He's pretty shaken up.
SUE ANN:    Why?
PAUL:       They were pretty hard on him.
HAROLD:     Paul, not now.  Not in front of everybody.
CLAIRE:     We all know already, Dad.  You've got nothing to
HAROLD:     Everybody knows already?  Did you tell them, Paul?
PAUL:       You told Robert, and it kind of got out.  Don't
            worry, Dad, everybody understands.
HAROLD:     Does Hannah know?
PAUL:       No.  She doesn't know.
HAROLD:     I guess it wouldn't matter now if she did.  Probably
            make it easier.
SUE ANN:    What happened?  What did the Elders say?
HAROLD:     This doesn't concern any of you!  I don't want you
            talking about it!  (gets up)
PAUL:       Dad, you're going to have to face this ... 
HAROLD:     I need a little time!  You can't possibly know what
            this is doing to me!
SUE ANN:    Daddy, we all understand.  Please believe that we
            love you, and we understand.
HAROLD:     I'm going out to the shop and sit down for a bit.  I
            have to think about this.
ROBERT:     Do you want somebody to come with ...?
HAROLD:     No!  No!  I just want to be by myself for a few
            minutes!  Does anybody mind if I just want to be by
            myself for a minute?
ROBERT:     No, Dad, nobody minds.  It's just that ...
HAROLD:     Let me know if anybody objects!  My life appears no
            longer to be in my own control.  So let me know if
            I am not allowed to be alone for a few minutes!
PAUL:       No, Dad, of course you can.  That's a good idea.
SUE ANN:    Of course, Daddy.  Go rest a little, and then we can
HAROLD:     I don't want to talk!  I just want to be alone for a
SUE ANN:    Whatever you want, Daddy.  You just call out if you
            want anything.

(HAROLD exit to shop)

ROBERT:     So what happened?
SUE ANN:    What did they do to him?
PAUL:       I was a little surprised.  I hadn't expected quite so
            severe a reaction.
CLAIRE:     You thought they'd just make him say a few extra
            prayers, or something?
PAUL:       Maybe something like that.  But they've been want-
            ing to show their firm stand in defense of strong
            family values, and I think they see this as an
            opportunity to do so.
ROBERT:     So what was their verdict?
PAUL:       He has to make a public confession before the con-
            gregation, and he is disfellowshiped for six months.
MARGO:      We have been magically transported back to the
            Middle Ages!  Why not just burn him at the stake?
ROBERT:     I can't believe this!  What are those men thinking?
SUE ANN:    Why didn't they just ask him to make a generous
            contribution to the church fund, and keep the whole
            thing quiet?
MARGO:      I thought the selling of indulgences ended with
            Martin Luther.
PAUL:       You have to understand their position.  They can't
            condone the flouting of all our moral principles.
ROBERT:     Why on earth did you tell him he had to confess to
            the Elders?
PAUL:       Without confession and repentance there is no
ROBERT:     Did you think of what this would do to them?  Not
            just to Dad, but to Mother?
PAUL:       Whatever Mother may suffer, it's because of Dad's
            sin, not his repentance.
ROBERT:     But she wouldn't suffer if she didn't know about it.
PAUL:       Don't you believe in telling the truth, Robert?  The
            whole truth?
ROBERT:     No.  Not when it would be cruel or hurt innocent
PAUL:       Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make
            you free.
MARGO:      How is the truth going to set Mom free?
CLAIRE:     She'll know where she stands.  She'll be able to
            make decisions based on full knowledge of the facts.
ROBERT:     What kind of decision?
CLAIRE:     She may decide to leave him.
ROBERT:     I can't imagine such a thing.  Mom would never leave
CLAIRE:     You men are so sure of yourselves, aren't you?  You
            just think the whole world revolves around you and
            what you want.

(PRESCOTT enters from den)

PRESCOTT:   Honey, the game's over and I'm starved.  Would you
            get me something to eat?  Oh, hi, Paul.
SUE ANN:    Get it yourself!
PRESCOTT:   Huh?  What did I do wrong now?
SUE ANN:    Oh, I'm sorry, honey.  Come on, I'll get you some-

(SUE ANN and PRESCOTT exit to kitchen)

ROBERT:     Do you think I should see if Dad's all right?
CLAIRE:     I'm sure he's just fine.

(pause, awkward silence)

(HANNAH comes downstairs)

HANNAH:     Oh, I feel so much better.  Paul!  I didn't know you
            were here.  Is Dad here?
PAUL:       He's out in the shop, Mom.
HANNAH:     Well, that meeting certainly took long enough.  But
            I know your father.  He just loves to talk.  Is he
            feeling better?
PAUL:       What do you mean?
HANNAH:     Oh, he was in a funny mood last night.  Not himself.

(awkward pause)

CLAIRE:     Mother, there's something we have to talk to you
ROBERT:     Wait a minute, Claire.  That's not something that you
            should ...
HANNAH:     What is it?
CLAIRE:     Don't you tell me what I can say to my mother.
ROBERT:     I just think...
CLAIRE:     I don't care what you think.
HANNAH:     What is this all about?  What a fuss!
MARGO:      I'm going to get some fresh air.  I'll be right back.
PAUL:       Mother, Dad has something he has to talk to you
            about.  But he'll tell you.

(MARGO exit)

HANNAH:     Now, Robert, you tell me what this is all about.
ROBERT:     I think it's best for Dad to tell you himself.
CLAIRE:     I don't think he will.  I bet he chickens out.
PAUL:       Just shut up, Claire.  You're not helping.

(SUE ANN and HAROLD enter)

SUE ANN:    I talked Dad into having a glass of milk.  Prescott's
            still in the kitchen having some more cake.  How are
            you feeling, Mother?
HANNAH:     Just fine, but everybody's making a big fuss about
            something you're supposed to tell me, Harold.  What
            is it?
HAROLD:     Not now, Hannah.  I'll tell you later.
HANNAH:     No, I don't like mysteries.  You know that.  What is
            it you have to tell me?  (pause)  Have you gone and
            bought a new car again without telling me?  I'll bet
            that's it.  (to the others)  You know how he is about
            cars, like a little boy.  Melvin Lindquist down at the
            car dealership just sees him coming when the new
            models are in, and he knows he's got an easy sale. 
            But you promised me, Harold, that you wouldn't do
            that any more now that we're trying to live on a
            retirement income.  We just can't afford it!
PAUL:       That's not it, Mom.  Dad, I think the longer you
            prolong it, the harder it will be.  Why don't we leave
            you two alone for a....
HAROLD:     No!  I'll choose my own time!
HANNAH:     Harold, don't be childish!  Out with it!  Whatever it
            is, it can't be all that bad.  And if the children
            know already, it doesn't matter whether they hear
            you tell me or not.
SUE ANN:    She's right, Daddy.
HAROLD:     I'm not sure that I can.  I..  I can't..
CLAIRE:     (aside)  Time to pay the piper, Dad.
PAUL:       Think of the broader picture, Dad.  Rely on your
            faith.  Ask in your heart for the courage, and God
            will help you.

HAROLD:     Hannah, you must understand that I love you very
            much.  We've been together for so many years, and
HANNAH:     Yes, of course I know that, Harold.  And I love you. 
            You're my dear, dear Harold, and always will be.
HAROLD:     Sometimes we do things without thinking, not realiz-
            ing what we're doing, not thinking about the conse-
            quences, about our soul...
HANNAH:     (affectionately)  All right, just spit it out.  What
            have you done bad, you naughty boy?  What's on
            your conscience now?
HAROLD:     I've done a terrible thing, Hannah.  Satan tempted
            me.  Satan beguiled me, and I weakened.
HANNAH:     (beginning to realize something serious is coming) 
            What have you done, Harold?  Have you stolen
            money?  From the church building fund?
HAROLD:     No, no.  If it were only money, I could pay it back.
HANNAH:     What, then?

(long pause)

HAROLD:     No, I can't.  I can't!
PAUL:       Dad, you must.
HANNAH:     What is this about?
ROBERT:     This is too much.  Dad, you don't have to ...
PAUL:       Robert, stay out of this!
HANNAH:     Harold!  What's happened?  What have you done?
HAROLD:     I committed adultery!

(stunned silence; long pause)

HANNAH:     I don't want to hear about things that happened
            years ago when you were young and foolish and
            caught in the ways of Satan.  That's all water under
            the bridge!
HAROLD:     It wasn't years ago.  It was just this last year.
HANNAH:     (pause)  That's ridiculous!  I don't believe it! 
            You're seventy-two years old, Harold!  You're too old
            to commit  ...  to do something like that!


PAUL:       Mother, he's confessed to me, as his pastor, and to
            the Board of Elders, and they have required him to
            make a public confession.
HANNAH:     What do you mean, a "public confession?"  Is he
            going to run a full-page ad in the News-Register?
PAUL:       No, he must confess before the congregation, at a
            Sunday communion service.
HANNAH:     You mean he is going to say this in front of every-
            body?  My friends, my neighbors?  Everybody in
            town?  But it can't be true!  I don't believe it! 
            Adultery means you ...  I mean you have to be able
            to...  How can a man commit adultery if he can't even
            ...   It's just not possible!
HAROLD:     (quietly)  Hannah, it's possible.  And it's true.
HANNAH:     (skeptical) Who was it?
HAROLD:     It doesn't matter.  That part is over.
HANNAH:     (pause) You didn't go to some whore?  (pause)  You
            must have gone to some dirty whore.  No, I can't
            believe that!  You're so afraid of catching something,
            you don't even like to shake hands!
HAROLD:     It wasn't anybody like that.
HANNAH:     No, of course not.  I should have known it wasn't
            anybody you would have to pay money to.  You're
            too tight-fisted with your money.
PAUL:       Mother, you're getting upset ... 
HANNAH:     But what young thing would want to have anything
            to do with a dirty old man like you if you didn't pay
            her money?  
HAROLD:     She wasn't a young thing.  She was my age.
HANNAH:     This is beyond me.  Somebody your age, still wanting
            to do that?  I can't believe it!  You must have
            forced her!  Did you force her?  I'll bet you forced
            her!  You still haven't got control of your baser
            passions, have you!
HAROLD:     No, I didn't force her.
HANNAH:     Well, I just don't believe a word of this.  I don't
            know what you're trying to do, Harold, but I don't
            believe a word.  You can be awfully clever, and
            you've concocted this fantasy of yours for some
            reason, I don't know what, but you do get some of
            the wildest notions, and this is one of them.  I
            refuse to listen to any more of this filth that you
            are making up.  I am a decent woman and the mother
            of your children, and I think you owe me a little
            more respect than to try to make me listen to this
            filth.  I don't know why you would want to do this
            to me.
HAROLD:     Hannah, I don't want to do this to you.  But I must,
            and you must forgive me.
HANNAH:     And you are going to tell this story around?  Why
            would you do that to me?  I'm so ashamed!  I won't
            be able to show my face anywhere again.  Why are
            you doing this to me?
HAROLD:     I don't want to hurt you.  Please, just say that you
            forgive me.
HANNAH:     I'll forgive you when you take back all these dis-
            gusting lies you've been telling me, and not a minute
HAROLD:     But I can't take back what I've said.  It's true.  I've
            committed a terrible sin against God and against you,
            and only by confessing and repenting can I hope to
            have God forgive me.  I'm sorry.


HANNAH:     I've heard enough of this.  I'm going upstairs.  I
            have to think about this.  (gets up, starts upstairs)
SUE ANN:    Let me come with you, Momma.  I've got something
            that will help you relax a little.  (follows HANNAH
CLAIRE:     She doesn't believe it.  Maybe I can make her
            understand.  (exit upstairs)

(awkward pause)

HAROLD:     She doesn't believe me.
ROBERT:     Maybe it's better if she doesn't believe you.
PAUL:       You'll have to make her believe you, otherwise I
            don't think it would be a valid confession.  You have
            to get through to her.  She has to comprehend what
            you're telling her.
ROBERT:     My God, Paul, it's going to be more of a punishment
            of Mother than a punishment for Dad.  She doesn't
            want to hear it.  She can't accept it.
PAUL:       She must accept it.
HAROLD:     I did what I could.  What more can I do?  God has
            to forgive me now.

(MARGO enters from front door)

MARGO:      Is it over yet?
ROBERT:     Mom's upstairs.  Sue Ann and Claire are with her.
PAUL:       She's having difficulty accepting the truth.
MARGO:      Don't we all?

(CLAIRE comes downstairs)

ROBERT:     How's Mom?
CLAIRE:     Boy, Dad, you are a prize.  You have really messed
            her up.  She doesn't know what to believe.
HAROLD:     She has to believe me!
CLAIRE:     Sue Ann is trying to get through to her.
HANNAH:     (from offstage, muffled, uncontrolled):  Oh, my God,
            my God, my God ... 
MARGO:      It sounds like she got through to her.

(PRESCOTT enters from kitchen, wiping his mouth with a napkin)

PRESCOTT:   What the hell's going on?
MARGO:      You missed quite a show, Scotty.  Justice and mercy,
            forgiving the guilty and punishing the innocent.


(Late April, late afternoon.  Same scene as Act I, but the room is
a little disheveled.  A Christmas tree, not very fresh, rather
droopy, is at one side.  CLAIRE is sprawled on the sofa, looking
at a magazine and drinking a mug of tea.)

(PAUL and ROBERT enter from front door.  ROBERT is carrying
a suitcase)

PAUL:       Here we are.  Let me take your bag upstairs.
ROBERT:     That's all right, Paul.  Just leave it there.  I'll get
            it later.
CLAIRE:     Finally!  I was beginning to worry about you, with
            this storm.
ROBERT:     The plane was a little late.  Thank goodness Paul's
            a patient man.
PAUL:       Where's Dad?
CLAIRE:     Where else?  He's out in his shop.  Sue Ann's
            upstairs with Mother.
ROBERT:     I'm sorry I couldn't get here sooner, but I came as
            soon as I could after Sue Ann called me.
CLAIRE:     I don't know why she got excited.  Paul and I have
            got things under control.  I think she just panicked
            when she came for a casual weekend visit and saw
            the changes in Mother.
ROBERT:     When did she get here?
CLAIRE:     Four days ago.  I really can't say that she's much
ROBERT:     Well, I guess it's better for her to be here and
            fretting than fretting by herself at home.  How's
CLAIRE:     She's been pretty good today, but she has her bad
ROBERT:     (noticing the Christmas tree)  Why is the Christmas
            tree still up?
PAUL:       She won't let Dad take it down.
ROBERT:     Why not?
PAUL:       She doesn't say why not.  She just starts screaming
            when he starts to take it down.  So he leaves it up. 
            It seems to soothe her.
ROBERT:     I wish somebody had told me sooner what was going
CLAIRE:     Why?  There's nothing you can do.  And you don't
            seem to have a lot of extra time to be concerned
            with your family.
ROBERT:     Just because I can't be nearby all the time doesn't
            mean I'm not concerned.

(SUE ANN comes downstairs)

SUE ANN:    Robert!  I thought I heard your voice!  (gives him a
            hug)  How's my big brother?
ROBERT:     Just fine.
SUE ANN:    How's Margo?  Oh, you don't even have to tell me. 
            I'm sure she's fine.
ROBERT:     Yes, she's fine.  Very busy.  She's sorry she could-
            n't come.
CLAIRE:     Is Mother resting okay?
SUE ANN:    I think she's asleep.  I gave her a little of my
            medicine and she dozed off.
CLAIRE:     What is that stuff, anyway?
SUE ANN:    Just something I take for nerves.  When I need it.
PAUL:       You shouldn't be giving Mother something that was
            prescribed for you.
ROBERT:     No, really, Suzie.
SUE ANN:    (irritated)  It's not really a prescription!  It's over
            the counter.  It's perfectly all right!  I take it all
            the time!
ROBERT:     Has Dr. Langley seen her lately?
PAUL:       He says there's nothing wrong with her.  Dad had
            him over last week, and he can't find anything
            physically wrong.  He said just to keep her quiet
            and let her rest, and make sure she gets her nour-
CLAIRE:     We have to watch Dad as much as we do her.  He's
            off in his own world lately, happy as a bird, now
            that he's finished his six months of penance.  
PAUL:       Claire's taken on a lot of the responsibility for them.
            She's over here almost every day after she leaves
            the plant.
CLAIRE:     And Mildred comes as often as she can.  Mother
            won't cook, and Dad can't.
SUE ANN:    You'd think he'd learn, just out of self-interest. 
            Somebody who loves to eat as much as he does.
ROBERT:     Maybe he's too old to learn.
CLAIRE:     Hey, his age didn't cause him any problems when it
            came to his other appetites.
PAUL:       Let's not get going on that subject.
ROBERT:     No.  Let's not.
SUE ANN:    Robert, I'm so glad you're here.  Maybe you can do
            something for Mother.  Help her.  You've helped so
            many people.
ROBERT:     Dr. Langley's a good doctor, Sue Ann.  And it
            doesn't sound like anything in my field.
SUE ANN:    Oh, don't start putting yourself down, after all these
            years!  You'll come up with something brilliant, like
            you always do.  I know you will.
ROBERT:     Well, I'll take a look at her, of course.  That's one
            reason I came.
SUE ANN:    I think I'll go check on her.  I'll be back in a
CLAIRE:     I'll come with you.  I've got to go in a minute, so if
            she's not asleep I can say goodbye.  

(CLAIRE and SUE ANN exit upstairs)

ROBERT:     What's really going on here, Paul?
PAUL:       Sometimes she's fine, Bobby, and sometimes she's
            just in another world.
ROBERT:     What has caused this, do you think?
PAUL:       I think she has never recovered from Dad's ... ah...
ROBERT:     Confession?
PAUL:       Ah ...  yes.
ROBERT:     Well, I'm not ordinarily one to criticize, but you ...
PAUL:       Hey, you're usually the first one to point a finger! 
            Especially at me!
ROBERT:     What do you expect?  You hold yourself to a higher
            standard.  It's your own choice.  I just expect you
            to keep to it.
PAUL:       None of us are as perfect as we would like.  I am
            the first to acknowledge my own weaknesses.
ROBERT:     Then admit to your own blame in this mess!  You are
            the cause of a lot of this.  If you hadn't advised him
            to tell the Elders ... 
PAUL:       Now, wait a minute, Bobby.  I wasn't the one who
            sinned.  I wasn't the one who committed adultery
            and broke Mother's heart.
ROBERT:     No, but you're the one who brought it all out into
            the open.  I can't believe you did that.  What in
            God's name did you think would happen?
PAUL:       Dad is the sinner in this.  It was his actions, his
            lust, his weakness that started this whole chain of
            events.  Having succumbed to the temptation, and
            having realized the seriousness of what he had done,
            he had no choice.  He did what he had to do, the
            same thing that is required of any of us who have
            sinned.  His eternal soul was at stake.  His hope of
            the resurrection.
ROBERT:     What about Mother's soul?
PAUL:       Mother hasn't done anything wrong.  Her soul is
            pure in God's eyes.
ROBERT:     But she's the one who seems to be suffering.
PAUL:       But don't you see?  That's not punishment.  It's
            God's way of showing his love for her, by giving her
            this tribulation to overcome!
ROBERT:     (pause)  Why is it, whenever I come home, back to
            this town, I feel like I am going back in time, back
            to an age of primitive, mindless superstition?
PAUL:       Perhaps you are coming back to a place and time
            where life is more honest, purer, still in touch with
            the reality of God's love and forgiveness.
ROBERT:     If this is an example of God's love and forgiveness,
            then leave me out!
PAUL:       Don't worry about that.  I'm sure that on Judgment
            Day you will be left out!
ROBERT:     What is the matter with you people?  Don't you have
            any sense of kindness, of mercy, of forgiveness?
PAUL:       What's the matter with you?  You don't have any
            sense of honesty, of truth, of decency, of morality,
            of obedience to your Creator!

ROBERT:     (more calmly)  You know, Paul, you and I are in
            similar professions.  Both of us are healers, helping
            people to overcome their afflictions.  I try to heal
            the body, you try to heal the soul.  But in my
            profession the most important rule, the primary rule
            for the healer is:  "First of all:  Do no harm."  I
            wish your profession had the same rule.

(CLAIRE comes downstairs)

CLAIRE:     What's all the shouting?  Mother's trying to rest!
ROBERT:     We're just having a theological discussion.
PAUL:       It's useless if you're talking to a closed mind.
ROBERT:     Just what I was thinking.
PAUL:       I've got to be going.  Mildred's probably waiting
            dinner for me.  Anything else I can do here?
CLAIRE:     No.  Thanks for everything, Paul.  You are a rock.
PAUL:       Call me if you need anything.  If I'm not there, tell
            Mildred.  (exit)

CLAIRE:     You know, you shouldn't be so critical of Paul.
ROBERT:     I'm not critical of Paul.
CLAIRE:     Oh, come off it!  You're critical of everybody.  You
            think you're so great.
ROBERT:     (surprised) What?
CLAIRE:     I suppose you can't help it.  You've been on a
            pedestal ever since you were a baby and Grandma
            started spoiling you and telling you how wonderful
            you are.
ROBERT:     But Grandma spoiled all of us.
CLAIRE:     But you were the first grandchild, and none of us
            were ever quite as good as you.
ROBERT:     Well, I'm sorry about that.
CLAIRE:     Oh, I got so sick of being "Robert Preston's little
ROBERT:     What do you mean?
CLAIRE:     Every year, when the school year started, my new
            teachers would see my name on the roll, and every
            time they would say,  "Oh, Claire Preston?  You must
            be Robert Preston's little sister.  He was such a
            good student.  Such a brilliant boy.  Are you as
            smart as he?"
ROBERT:     I'm sorry, Claire.  I couldn't help that.
CLAIRE:     It wouldn't have mattered if you really had been as
            wonderful as everybody said.
ROBERT:     None of us is as wonderful as our family thinks we
CLAIRE:     But I thought that you were!  Until you disappointed
ROBERT:     Disappointed you?
CLAIRE:     You know.  The one time I really, desperately needed
ROBERT:     (realizing what she's referring to)  Oh, yes.  That.
CLAIRE:     You were the only person I could turn to then.  I
            couldn't even go to Mom and Dad.
ROBERT:     But, Claire, I couldn't help you then.  I just could-
CLAIRE:     You could have.  You were a fourth-year medical
            student.  You knew enough to know what to do.
ROBERT:     No, I didn't.  I couldn't risk your life, risk my
            professional future.  There was nothing I could do to
            help you then.
CLAIRE:     You had contacts.  You could have found someone to
            help me.
ROBERT:     There was nobody I knew that I could ask.
CLAIRE:     Well, so much for my wonderful big brother.
ROBERT:     You were able to deal with it yourself.  It was better
            that way.
CLAIRE:     Oh, yeah.  Just great.

(SUE ANN comes downstairs)

ROBERT:     How is she?
SUE ANN:    She finally dropped off.
CLAIRE:     Well, I'm tired, and I've got to get home and feed my
            babies.  Madeline's working swing, so it's up to me. 
            I'll drop by tomorrow. (gets up, gets coat)
SUE ANN:    Yes, thanks a lot.
ROBERT:     Who's Madeline?
CLAIRE:     I've got a roommate now.  She moved in with me just
            a month ago.  She works on the line at the plant,
            and she's just a tremendous person.  (pause)  You
            probably wouldn't like her.
ROBERT:     What makes you say that?
CLAIRE:     Oh, I don't know.  She doesn't strike me as your
ROBERT:     Well ...   as long as you like her.
CLAIRE:     I do.
ROBERT:     See you tomorrow, then.
CLAIRE:     How long are you staying?
ROBERT:     Probably not more than a couple of days.  I hate to
            ask Dr. Hellman to cover for me for very long.
CLAIRE:     Well, I'm glad you could come.  'Bye.
ROBERT:     'Bye.

(CLAIRE exit front door)

SUE ANN:    Oh, Bobby, I don't know what's going on.
ROBERT:     To hear Paul tell it, God is blessing Mother.
SUE ANN:    Robert, I don't understand.  Mother is so good, such
            a good person.  I've never heard her say an unkind
            thing about anyone, in my whole life.
ROBERT:     But ... ?
SUE ANN:    She's changed, Robert.  She's mean to Dad.  She
            treats him awful.  And she uses words now that I
            didn't even think she knew.
ROBERT:     She's been through a severe psychological trauma. 
            Her whole world has changed.  Everything that she
            had relied on and taken for granted.  It's enough to
            affect anyone's personality.
SUE ANN:    I hate to see what it's done to Momma.

(HAROLD enters from shop, through kitchen)

ROBERT:     Hello, Dad.
HAROLD:     Well, Robert!  The time just got away from me.  I got
            so preoccupied with refinishing that little mahogany
            table from the den that I forgot you were due.  Did
            Paul pick you up?
ROBERT:     Yes.  He had to get back to the parsonage.
SUE ANN:    Can I fix you some supper, Dad?  How about you,
            Robert?  Are you hungry?
ROBERT:     I had a snack on the plane, thanks.  But, Dad, you
            go ahead ... 
HAROLD:     Well, a sandwich or something would taste good, all
SUE ANN:    I think there's some leftover ham from what Mildred
            brought over.
HAROLD:     Yes, that would be good, with plenty of mayonnaise
            and mustard.  And a dill pickle.
SUE ANN:    I'll just be a minute.  (exit to kitchen)

HAROLD:     Sure you don't want something to eat?  Do you get
            enough to eat?
ROBERT:     I'm fine, Dad, really.
HAROLD:     Well, let's sit down and chat.
ROBERT:     Tell me, what's going on with Mother?
HAROLD:     Bobby, it's hard to believe the change in her.  She
            has become a mean, nasty woman.  It's getting real
            hard to be around her.
ROBERT:     Well, she's been through quite a lot.
HAROLD:     She seems to want to take everything out on me.
ROBERT:     That's understandable, isn't it?
HAROLD:     But I did the right thing by her.  I was honest with
            her, and bared my soul to her, asking for her
            forgiveness.  But she won't forgive me!
ROBERT:     I'm sure it came as quite a shock.  (pause)  I wish
            you hadn't told anyone, just kept it to yourself.
HAROLD:     I couldn't have done that.  That would have been
            dishonest of me.  I had to make things right.  Oh, it
            would have made life easier for me now, if I had just
            kept my mouth shut and let God punish me at
            judgment day.  But it would have been wrong for me
            to take advantage of my own deception.
ROBERT:     Dad, that doesn't make sense.
HAROLD:     Oh, what would you understand about sin!  You don't
            even believe in such a thing!  (pause)  I wish she'd
            get over this.  She's making my life a hell!
ROBERT:     She probably needs time.
HAROLD:     She's had plenty of time!  And she's getting worse! 
            Picks at me for every little thing!  Goes through the
            roof if I don't rinse out the basin good enough after
            I brush my teeth, if I leave a magazine lying on the
            sofa instead of putting it in the rack.  I haven't
            heard a kind word from her in months.
ROBERT:     She always was a tidy person, Dad.
HAROLD:     And yet look at this place!  She certainly doesn't do
            her share.  I'm always picking up after her!  I can't
            keep up!
ROBERT:     If you want her to forgive you, you have to be
            patient and forgive her, too.
HAROLD:     She says God may have forgiven me, but then that's
            his job and he's had a lot of experience.  She claims
            she hasn't had the necessary practice yet.
ROBERT:     Do you think it goes deeper than just your one ... 
HAROLD:     Oh, I don't suppose that you could know this, Bobby,
            but she's never been an easy woman to live with. 
            Always sort of distant and proper.  (pause)  Her way
            of showing her love for me was always sort of ... 
ROBERT:     I ...  don't understand.
HAROLD:     She never seemed to be interested in ...  being
            physically affectionate to me.  She always allowed me
            to ... make love to her, but she never came to me,
            never.  Not once.  And she had her rules.
ROBERT:     Rules?
HAROLD:     Yes, rules.  At least I called them her rules.  "Don't
           do that, I don't like it. Don't touch me there, it's not
            nice.  Don't bother me now, it's my period.  Not now,
            I'm about to have my period.  Not now, I've just got
            over my period.  Not now, I might get pregnant. 
            Leave the light off.  Don't look at me.  Turn your
            back while I get into bed.  I tell you, Bobby, if a
            man wasn't real horny, he'd just say "forget it" to
            a woman like that!
ROBERT:     I don't know what to say to you, Dad.
HAROLD:     I don't mean to make excuses for myself.  I did
            something wrong, and I'm sorry.  But I can tell you
            one thing.  That woman in Carlson, (wistfully) she
            sure wasn't like your mother!
ROBERT:     Dad, I thought you had repented of that.
HAROLD:     I have repented!  I've confessed and done my
            penance and hung my head in shame for six months
            while I was disfellowshiped from the congregation. 
            I paid for my sin!  (pause, lost in thought)  But I'm
            glad I had the experience.  I had never really known
            how wonderful a woman can be.
ROBERT:     Did you tell that to Mother?
HAROLD:     Hell, no.  I may be a sinner, but I'm not stupid.

(SUE ANN enters from kitchen)

SUE ANN:    Your sandwich is ready, Daddy.
HAROLD:     Thank you, dear.  (stands up, goes to Sue Ann) 
            You're a wonderful, loving daughter, Suzie.  Be sure
            and always be loving and kind to that man of yours.
SUE ANN:    I am, Daddy.  I try to be just like Mother.

(HAROLD pauses, seems to want to say something, changes his
mind and exits to kitchen)


(An hour or so later.  Evening light.  ROBERT and HANNAH are
seated on the sofa.  HANNAH is in a dressing gown.)

ROBERT:     No headaches?
HANNAH:     No.
ROBERT:     How's your digestion?
HANNAH:     Fine.
ROBERT:     Dizziness?
HANNAH:     No.
ROBERT:     Sleep well?
HANNAH:     (sharply)  No.  He snores like a buzzsaw and sweats
            and rolls over so that I don't have any covers. 
            Scratches himself all night long.  Probably playing
            with himself.  I don't know.  No, I don't sleep well.
ROBERT:     Do you nap during the day, then?
HANNAH:     I try, but he runs that damned machinery in the
            shop, or bangs around in the kitchen trying to find
            something to eat.  He's always wanting to eat.
ROBERT:     How's your appetite?
HANNAH:     I have no appetite.  How can a person have an
            appetite around somebody like him?  He chews with
            his mouth open.  Sounds like a cement mixer.  He
            doesn't take a bath often enough.  Have you smelled
ROBERT:     Have you said anything to him about that?
HANNAH:     What's the good of talking to him?  He just says I'm
            nagging at him.  So I don't talk to him any more.  
ROBERT:     Mom, why is the Christmas tree up?
HANNAH:     We always put up a tree at Christmas.  Don't you?
ROBERT:     Yes, but then we take it down when Christmas is
HANNAH:     Well, so will we.
ROBERT:     But Christmas is over, Mom.  It's April already.
HANNAH:     Don't talk nonsense.  We just put the tree up.  We
            haven't had Christmas yet.
ROBERT:     No, Mom.  Christmas was four months ago.
HANNAH:     Well, maybe last Christmas is over, but not this
ROBERT:     Mom, do you know what day this is?
HANNAH:     Of course I know what day it is!  What a damn fool
ROBERT:     What day is it?
HANNAH:     Don't you know?  You're a big doctor and don't
            know what day it is?
ROBERT:     I want to see if you know.
HANNAH:     Of course I know!  I just told you that I know! 
            Don't you have anything more important to talk to
            me about than what day it is?  Change the subject! 
            Change the subject!
ROBERT:     What would you like to talk about?
HANNAH:     Well, let's talk about Christmas.  And Santa Claus. 
            So, ... what would you like for Christmas this year? 
            Actually, I got your present already.  I hope you
            like what I got you.  I didn't have a lot of money to
            spend - your father is so damned tight-fisted, but
            I spent more on you than on the other children,
            because you are my oldest little boy.
ROBERT:     Mother, Dad already sent us our gifts because we
            weren't able to be here.
HANNAH:     How could he have sent it?  It's upstairs.  Oh, I
            hope you like it.  Would you like a hint?
ROBERT:     I'm sure I'll like it.
HANNAH:     You have to promise not to play with it in your
ROBERT:     In my room?
HANNAH:     Only in the cellar, on Daddy's workbench, where you
            make your  model airplanes.
ROBERT:     Mom, I don't make model airplanes any more.  That
            was years ago.  And the workbench isn't in the
            cellar any more.
HANNAH:     You just yesterday showed me that German fighter
            plane you finished.  You've done a very nice job on
            it.  I've never seen such a nice-looking model
            airplane.  Are you going to try to fly it tomorrow?
ROBERT:     (shakes his head) Mom, oh, Mom, what's the matter?
HANNAH:     Nothing's the matter.  Nothing's the matter.  But it's
            getting late, and I think that if you want Santa
            Claus to come tonight, you had better get your little
            behind to bed, Mr. Smarty.  Give Mommy a hug and
            a kiss, and off you go.
ROBERT:     Maybe we should both go to bed.  I think Sue Ann
            is upstairs, getting your bed ready.
HANNAH:     I'll have her give me a dose of her medicine before
            I go to bed.  It'll help me sleep.
ROBERT:     You shouldn't be taking her medicine, Mom.  I really
            should look at it and see what it is.
HANNAH:     (whispering)  It's only brandy, Bobby.  Nothing to
            worry about.  She's a lush.  But the important thing
            is, she shares, which is the Christian way.
ROBERT:     Don't jump to conclusions about Sue Ann, Mom.  Just
            because she takes a little brandy ...
HANNAH:     Yes, Bobby, Sue Ann's a lush, your father's a lecher,
            you're a heathen, Paul's a pious prick, and Claire's
            a goddamn queer.  We're quite a family, aren't we?
ROBERT:     Mother, what do you mean about Claire?
HANNAH:     You should see her and that woman together!  They
            think I don't know what's going on, but I do.
ROBERT:     But Paul didn't say anything.  He wouldn't tolerate
            something like that, if it were true, especially in his
            own sister.
HANNAH:     Oh, Paul's in his own world.  He doesn't know
            anything about what goes on.  How can I have had
            such a stupid son?  All of you!  What have I done?
ROBERT:     Mom, why don't you go to bed now?  (gets up)
HANNAH:     (almost maudlin)  The whole damned world is going
            to hell, Bobby.  I don't know what God thinks he's
            doing, because he sure is making a mess of every-
            thing.  I think he's lost his marbles or gone on
            vacation or maybe even died.  Oh, but thank God for
            Christmas!  (brighter)  You still believe in Santa
            Claus, don't you, Bobby?
ROBERT:     (pause)  Yes, Mom, I still believe in Santa Claus.
HANNAH:     You damned well better!  That's about all we've got
            left.  No matter what, Bobby, you must always
            believe in Santa Claus.  (playfully)  Because little
            boys who don't believe in Santa Claus don't get any
ROBERT:     All right, Mom.  Let's go upstairs.
HANNAH:     You're a good boy, Bobby.

(both exit upstairs)


(A few minutes later.  Harold is standing over the big Bible,
intently reading something.  SUE ANN and ROBERT come down-

ROBERT:     You shouldn't be letting her have brandy, Suzie.
SUE ANN:    Oh, tiddly-push.  It won't hurt her.  It helps her
            calm down.
ROBERT:     She knows what it is.
SUE ANN:    (surprised) How does she know?
ROBERT:     She's not stupid, Suzie.
SUE ANN:    Oh, Bobby!  She won't tell Scotty, will she?  What
            will she think of me?
ROBERT:     Why start worrying about that now?
HAROLD:     (looks up)  Got her to bed?
ROBERT:     I think so.  She seemed pretty tired.
HAROLD:     What do you think's the matter with her, Bobby? 
            I'm about at the end of my rope.
ROBERT:     She seems a little disoriented, and she sometimes
            shows a different personality, but only occasionally.
HAROLD:     Huh!  Stick around a little, you'll see plenty.
ROBERT:     I wish I could, but I have to leave in a couple of
SUE ANN:    I'm going to have to be leaving in a few days, too. 
            Prescott is helpless by himself.
ROBERT:     If it gets too much for you, Dad, we could maybe
            arrange for some woman to come in and help.
HAROLD:     She'd never stand for that.  She'd think I was
            messing around with any woman who was in the
            house.  As it is, she accuses me of sneaking out at
            night when she's asleep.
ROBERT:     Really?
HAROLD:     I can't even look at the Sunday paper without her
            accusing me of staring at the ads for brassieres in
            the supplements.
SUE ANN:    Well, do you?
HAROLD:     Do I what?
SUE ANN:    Stare at the brassiere ads?
HAROLD:     (irritated) You're just like her, aren't you?


SUE ANN:    What has happened?  What has happened to all the
            happy years?
HAROLD:     The happy years?  Huh!  Maybe we just imagined
            them.  Maybe they weren't all that happy.
SUE ANN:    No, no.  They were real, all right.  Look at that
            Christmas tree.  I never see a Christmas tree without
            remembering the happy Christmases we had together,
            when we were children.  Why do we have to grow
ROBERT:     Christmas isn't real, Sue Ann.
SUE ANN:    Oh, yes, it is.  Those Christmases were real.  Maybe
            Christmas is the only thing that is real.  Remember
            when you got your electric train and I got my doll
            house?  That was the most wonderful Christmas ever! 
            I don't think I've ever been so happy, except maybe
            on my wedding day!
ROBERT:     (smiles, remembering)  I was hoping Paul would grow
            up real fast so that we could play with the train
            together.  I tried to get him to play with me, but he
            just kept picking the cars up off the track.
SUE ANN:    Well, he was only a baby.
ROBERT:     He kept trying to eat your doll house family.
SUE ANN:    He did eat the baby, remember?  I made Mother
            check his diapers for two days, and then I didn't
            want it back when it finally turned up.  (laughs)
ROBERT:     Do you remember the year we got skates?
SUE ANN:    Oh, yes!  And I kept falling down, and you kept
            telling me to relax and it would be all right.  (pause)

            Oh, stop this!  I just want to cry, and I don't know
HAROLD:     Why don't you both call it a day?  I'm going to sit
            up for a little while and study the Scripture lesson
            for next Sunday.
SUE ANN:    I think I will, Daddy.  It's been exhausting.  I need
            to relax.
ROBERT:     That's probably a good idea.
SUE ANN:    I'll fix you breakfast tomorrow.
HAROLD:     Oh, wonderful!  How about waffles and bacon?  I
            haven't had that in a long time.
SUE ANN:    I saw some bacon in the fridge.  Okay, I'll fix you
HAROLD:     That's my girl.  Good night, then.
SUE ANN:    Good night. 
ROBERT:     Good night, Suzie.

(SUE ANN exit)

ROBERT:     I'm going up in a minute, too, Dad.  But I just
            wanted to tell you that from what I've seen, I think
            Mom might benefit from seeing a psychiatrist.
HAROLD:     She's crazy, isn't she?
ROBERT:     No, Dad.  "Crazy" isn't a very meaningful word.  She
            just should be seen ...
HAROLD:     It's a word that means something to me.  I live with
            it every day.  I'm beginning to think it's contagious,
            because I sometimes think I'm going crazy, too.
ROBERT:     I can imagine it must be difficult sometimes ... 
HAROLD:     Thank God for my faith, my faith in the Lord.  I
            know that he will see me through, no matter what
ROBERT:     Yes, that can be a great help, but for Mother ... 
HAROLD:     I think she's losing her faith, if she hasn't already
            lost it altogether.  It saddens me to see it, but what
            can I do?  Faith is an individual matter.
ROBERT:     I think Mother needs a little more than faith right
HAROLD:     We tried our best to help her.  The sisters from the
            Pastoral Aid Society came to visit, a few weeks ago,
            and they wanted to have a prayer circle and bless
            her in her affliction, but she wouldn't let them.
ROBERT:     Oh?
HAROLD:     She told them all to go to hell.  She said a few other
            things to them that I would rather not repeat. 
            (pause)  Bobby, I know you don't believe that the
            devil can possess somebody, but I think that may be
            what's happened to her.  
ROBERT:     I'll give you the name of a doctor in the city that I
            want you to take her to.
HAROLD:     I won't promise I can get her to go.  I think it's
ROBERT:     Well, we can talk about it more tomorrow.  Maybe
            things will look brighter then.
HAROLD:     See you in the morning, then, son.  And since I
            know you won't say your prayers, I'll say one for
ROBERT:     Whatever you like, Dad.  Good night, then.  (exit)

(HAROLD watches ROBERT go upstairs, turns off most of the
lights, picks up a few items that are out of place.  Stops at the
Christmas tree, looks at it with disgust, shakes his head.  Feels
the branches; needles come off in his hand.  He mutters some-
thing to himself.  Goes to an easy chair, picks up a Sunday
school manual, a pencil and a well-worn Bible, settles down and
starts to study.  From upstairs, HANNAH's voice singing faintly
"Oh Come, All Ye Faithful" very slowly and plaintively.  HAROLD
becomes aware of the singing, looks up.  HANNAH enters, dressed
in her nightgown, carrying a dusty box - an A. C. Gilbert Boy's
Chemistry Set - and a large stocking)

HAROLD:     (to himself)  What the hell? ... 
HANNAH:     (still singing repetitively "Oh Come, All ye Faithful,
            Come, All ye Faithful, Come All ye Faithful ... ",
            walks slowly toward the Christmas tree)
HAROLD:     Hannah, what are you doing?
HANNAH:     I'm putting Bobby's present under the tree and
            hanging up my stocking.
HAROLD:     What have you got there?  (Gets up, goes to her)
HANNAH:     None of your business!  This is for Bobby!  You
            don't get a present!
HAROLD:     Where did you get that?
HANNAH:     I had it hidden away upstairs so Bobby wouldn't
            find it.
HAROLD:     That looks like it came out of the attic!  What is it?
HANNAH:     Keep away!
HAROLD:     It's that old chemistry set of Bobby's that he had as
            a kid.  I thought we'd gotten rid of that years ago.
HANNAH:     It's for Bobby.  I know he wants one.  So he's going
            to have one.
HAROLD:     Give me that, Hannah.  God only knows what's still in
            there.  It could explode or something.  (reaches for
HANNAH:     (violently)  Keep your hands off me!  Get over there
            or I'll scratch you!  You're evil, and Santa is not
            going to bring you anything.  I'll bite your nose off
            if you don't get away from me right now!

(HAROLD backs off)

HANNAH:     (peaceful again, but off in her own world, talking to
            no one in particular, she puts the box under the
            tree, rearranges a few decorations)  And now I'm
            going to hang up my stocking.  I know that dear old
            Santa can't fit my present in this stocking, but he
            will know what to do.  He'll think of something. 
            (pause)  I'll bet he will set it up here in front of
            the tree, (she sits on the floor, as though playing
            with an imaginary doll house) and there will be eight
            whole rooms of furniture, with little dishes, and a
            whole family, a mother and father and children, and
            a dog and a cat.  I just know it will be the most
            beautiful doll house ever, with a fireplace, and a
            garden, full of roses.  Red roses for love, white
            roses for purity.  And all the other colors, too, like
            a rainbow of happiness.  (starts humming happily to
            herself as she plays with the imaginary house)
HAROLD:     (has backed off to the opposite side of the stage,
            watching HANNAH with growing alarm, and has turned
            away, leaning over the large Bible for support, but
            not really looking at it)  Good God ...   What have I
            done ... (long pause) ... to deserve this?

(lights fade)


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