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The Plays of Dorothy Blewett
Published by AustLit
(Status : Public)
Coordinated by Australian Drama Archive
  • It Has Happened Before: A verse Play for Radio

  • The AustLit Record

    "A very different play of Dorothy Blewett's was "It Has Happened Before", written for the ABC's verse play competition. It is now apparent that this competition has brought forth results eminently worthwhile. It has indeed contributed considerable dramatic and poetic richness to the stock of Australian play literature. Dorothy Blewett's radio play tells with a degree of adult intellectuality and yet sensitive feeling the love story of a German Jew scientist and an Australian girl in Europe.

    (...more)
    See full AustLit entry
  • IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE:

    A VERSE PLAY FOR THE RADIO

    by

    DOROTHY BLEWETT

    (1943)


     Characters           

    First Part At the Meeting

    THE SECRETARY 

    She is middle-aged, fluttery and spinsterish, but with an unexpected obstinacy in her voice.

    MISS BLACK

    Middle-aged. Inclined to be carping.

    THE PRESIDENT 

    Efficient, well-spoken – a typical president.

    LADY WITH THE EAR TRUMPET

    She is elderly, speaks in the flat high-pitched tone of the deaf.

    LENORA VALENTINE

    In her early thirties. Her voice is clear and colourful.

    MRS. DEAN           

    Very ordinary.

    Second PartAt Oxford

    LANSELL   

    Just twenty, cultured, consciously un-Oxford.

    LENORA    

    MARIANNA      

    About twenty, voice about two tones higher than Lenora’s; very English.

    LEON SCHONENBERG      

    His voice is deep and full, with plenty of overtone. He is in his late thirties. He has a very slight accent.

    ANOTHER MAN

    ANOTHER GIRL

    Third PartIn London

    LENORA

    LEON

    Fourth PartIn Germany

    KURT MARTIN  

    Very deep, tired voice. Distinct accent.

    ELSA MARTIN     

    About fifty. Also has a distinct accent.

    LENORA

    LEON

    Fifth PartAt the Meeting again

    The same persons as in the first part.

                     

    -------------

                     

    THE TIME                  

    Parts One and Five – The Present.

    Parts Two, Three and Four – In 1935.

    ________

                    

    SCRIPT

    ANNOUNCER:                       

    The play opens at a women’s meeting in an Australian city –

    (SOUND OF WOMEN’S VOICES, EDUCATED AND SOME OF THEM CULTURED. THERE IS AN OCCASIONAL LAUGH AND GREETINGS FROM ONE WOMAN TO ANOTHER. THE VOICE OF THE SECRETARY EMERGES FROM THEM).

    SECRETARY:            

    Before the meeting starts, I want to hang the Flag.
    See, here it is. The faint blue silk looks well, I think,
    And look how cunningly they’ve placed the dove and wreath,
    So that the letters stand in bold relief.

    MISS BLACK:            

    The letters should have been in gold-
    Not in that uninspired bold yellow;
    It quite destroys the symbol we had planned
    Of heavenly blue and sunlit gold.

    SECRETARY (GENTLY REBUKING):          

    You always growl, Miss Black. I sometimes think
    The angels up above won’t measure up
    To your idea of what the angels should be.
    I think the makers did a splendid job.

    MISS BLACK:            

    You’re easily pleased. But then, I feel this League
    Demands the very best that’s in us,
    Even when it only is the sewing on a flag.
    But let me help you –

    (THERE IS A SOUND OF GENTLE HAMMERING)

    SECRETARY:            

    There! Now don’t you think it looks effective.
    “League to promote goodwill among the Nations.”

    PRESIDENT (BUSTLINGLY):

    A splendid name! Although perhaps
    In modesty I should be silent as to that.

    LADY WITH EAR TRUMPET:

    What’s that you say?

    PRESIDENT (LOUDLY AND DISTINCTLY):

    I said we chose our name quite wisely.

    LADY WITH E.T.:   (CHUCKLING INSULTINGLY):

    With all the nations at each other’s throats,
    It seems to me a bit of wishful thinking.

    PRESIDENT (QUIETLY):      

    I often wonder why she comes. So deaf, poor dear!
    It’s really sad to be cut off from all
    That’s going on, at her age.

    LADY WITH E.T.:        

    And not so old at that, I’d have you know.

    PRESIDENT:             

    She always hears what she’s not wanted to.
    Well, come, Miss Secretary, it’s past the time
    For starting. Now what about the speaker –
    What’s her name?

    MISS BLACK:            

    Yes, who’s to speak?

    SECRETARY:            

    A Miss Lenora Valentine; I think
    She spent some time in Germany.

    LADY WITH E.T.:        

    What name was that?

    MISS BLACK:            

    Lenora Valentine.

    LADY WITH E.T.:        

    Who? Valentine! I’ve never heard of her.
    I hope she’s better than the fool we had
    Last month, mowing and bleating all that stupid stuff
    Of loving Japs like brothers – I’ll be damned!

    LENORA:                   

    I am Lenora Valentine.

    PRESIDENT (UNFURLING THE PRESIDENTIAL MANNER):

    So glad, Miss Valentine – please come this way!

    (THEIR STEPS ARE HEARD MOUNTING THE DAIS)

    Be seated, ladies, please. Will you sit here,
    And on my other hand, our secretary.

    (THERE IS THE SOUND OF CHAIRS BEING MOVED AND THE VOICES DIE AWAY)

    PRESIDENT (ADDRESSING THE MEETING):

    I think since we’re so much beyond
    Our normal time for starting, we’ll dispense
    With all the usual business, and call
    At once on Miss Lenora Valentine -

    LADY WITH E.T.:        

    Eh, what! No minutes! I had quite a lot
    To say arising from the minutes -

    PRESIDENT (IN DESPAIR):

    Please sit beside her, Mrs. Dean, and tell
    Her what we say, or else there’ll be no peace.

    MRS. DEAN (SPEAKING LOUDLY AND DISTINCTLY):

    We’re much too late for minutes –
    The kitchen staff, you know –
    They’ll never wait -

    LADY WITH E.T.:        

    They brought the tea in last time
    Just as he started on his peroration –
    Served him right! What’s that you say?
    Stop blowing down my trumpet!

    MRS. DEAN:              

    They want to start.

    LADY WITH E.T.:        

    Well, I’m not stopping them.
    Go on, Dame President.

    PRESIDENT (STARTING A LITTLE AWKWARDLY BUT WARMING UP QUICKLY):

    It is my pleasure and my privilege
    To introduce to you this afternoon
    Miss Valentine who spent some time
    In Nazi Germany and from her own experience
    Will help us to that closer understanding
    Of other peoples that we so desire,
    That, when this war is done, this dreadful war
    That clouds our lives and twists our hearts with fear,
    That when, I say, this awful war is done,
    We shall come to the stupendous work
    Of reconstruction armed and trebly armed
    With knowledge, charity and understanding.
    For that, we formed this League –
    For that we work and pray,
    Cleansing out minds of all the old conceptions
    Of caste and colour, nation, race and creed.
    I am convinced that we must consciously
    Condition all our thought and bar our minds,
    As once the angel with the flaming sword
    Barred Eden’s gates, to easy hate
    And hard intolerance. Since we must fight,
    And fight we must while evil powers
    Possess one half the earth, then let us fight
    With pity in our hearts, and in our hands
    Succour and healing for those stricken souls
    We now call enemy. (APPLAUSE)
    I call upon Miss Valentine.

    (THERE IS A POLITE, BUT RESTRAINED PATTER OF CLAPPING)

    LENORA:                   

    When I was asked to speak to you today
    I thanked whatever powers there may be,
    For opportunity knocks only once.
    Your President’s fine statement of your aims
    Strikes in my heart a most responsive chord
    And I am filled with surging hope to find
    The purpose of your League already fixed
    On that great cause to which I give my life.
    As never needed on this earth before,
    Goodwill and tolerance, twin virtues, stand
    Like beacon lights from which our steadfast eyes
    Must never move. With will to understand
    The vices and the virtues of our kind,
    We, knowing all, must sift evil from good,
    Malicious laisser faire from tolerance,
    And bring to every man the one essential boon
    Of happiness in his own way.
    The pull of race and nation never was
    More strongly felt than now; and racial ties
    Are blinkers on our minds, fining our vision
    Till we only see those virtues which
    Have raised our race and given it its place
    Among the stars.
                            If I should seem to fail
    To live up to my own teaching, remember
    That without pride in national achievement,
    Race aspiration ceases and human standards fall.
    Humility must always balance pride
    And when we proudly say, This we have done,
    In humbleness must add, But here we failed.
    The power of ideals opposed to ours
    Held in sincerity must be respected;
    For what to us may seem a virtue,
    To another man may be the symptom
    Of race decadence.
    The first step on this road that predicates
    In all who follow it the purpose and desire
    To spread among all people of the earth
    The natural riches that the earth provides,
    This first essential step is knowledge,
    Gained and given.
    To that end I come to you today
    To tell you of my own experience.
    If I must tell you of those things which would
    Better perhaps be covered safe away
    Forever in my memory,
    If I must move you to disgust and shame
    That human beings should have come so low;
    If I must wring your hearts to tears,
    Your conscience to reluctant self-reproach,
    Then I must do these things,
    For you, and you, and I and all of us
    Have let this happen.
    But understanding comes from suffering
    And out of honest shame, goodwill.
    So listen then -
    In nineteen thirty-five, I went, a visitor
    To Oxford. It was April –

    (MUSIC SWELLS – VAUGHAN WILLIAMS’ SETTING FOR STRINGS OF “GREENSLEEVES”. THE MUSIC QUIETENS AND THERE IS A BABBLE OF VOICES OF YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN, SOME OF THEM RATHER SELF-CONSCIOUSLY MANNERED. AGAINST THE MUSIC OF “GREENSLEEVES”, THEIR VOICES SOUND YOUNG AND SPRINGING. THE VOICE OF THE HOST, LANSELL, EMERGES FROM THEM. LANSELL IS JUST TWENTY, CULTURED, BUT CONSCIOUSLY UN-OXFORD.)

    LANSELL:                  

    Please go slow with the sherry,
    Or else there’ll be none left when he arrives;
    And that, to say the least, would be embarrassing.

    A YOUNG MAN:        

    If any more come in, the walls will bulge;
    And who is he that he needs sherry more than we?

    LANSELL:                  

    I’ve snared the Herr Professor Schonenberg –
    That is, I think I have. He said he’d come
    If he were able.

    SEVERAL VOICES:   

    Schonenberg!

    LENORA:                   

    Who’s Schonenberg?

    MARIANNA:               

    Lenora! Surely even you have heard
    Of Schonenberg.

    LENORA:                   

    I must confess I haven’t, Marianna;
    I’ve been in England only seven days.

    LANSELL:                 

    Of such is fame! If Schonenberg’s unknown
    Australia’s bush must certainly be dense.

    LENORA:                   

    I quite admit my ignorance abysmal.
    So tell me, please, who’s Schonenberg?

    A MAN:                                   

    A scientist – to my mind,
    The greatest of them all alive today.

    A GIRL:                                  

    He’s German and a Jew, of course.

    MARIANNA:               

    “A Jew, of course”? There are some Germans
    Who are not.   (THIS IS A JOKE AND THEY ALL LAUGH.)

    LANSELL:                  

    Quite old; he must be thirty-eight or nine
    At least.

    THE GIRL:                 

    A great square, blackhaired, fascinating man
    With no respect for anything on earth
    But truth and science which, he says, are one -

    MARIANNA:               

    He smokes the vilest pipe, and teases us
    About our foibles, or else he talks of things
    Away above our heads. But still,
    We all adore it and adoring sit
    Entranced about his feet.

    LENORA:                   

    Please count me out of all adoring circles.

    LANSELL:                  

    They’re most unfair, Miss Valentine.
    He really is a very able physicist –
    Too great to be belittled by the talk
    Of chattering, half-witted, female things -

    THE GIRLS:               

    We thank you, sir, for those kind words.

    LENORA:                   

    He sounds completely horrible.

    MARIANNA:               

    Just wait and see, my cousin. When he comes,
    He’ll make himself the centre of attraction
    In twenty seconds.

    LENORA (DRYLY):

    I shall sit here on the window-seat
    And leave you to your worship. Oxford is
    So very much more interesting than German Jews -

    LANSELL:                  

    Hush, here he is.

    (THE VOICES FADE A LITTLE AS LANSELL CROSSES THE ROOM TO GREET SCHONENBERG)

    I am delighted, sir,
    That you have come.

    LEON:                        

    And I that I could come.
    My dear lad, have you got
    the whole of Oxford here?

    LANSELL:                 

    It does seem rather full. But most of them
    Will move on soon. There are some people here
    Who’d like to meet you, sir.

    LEON:                        

    And shall I like to meet them? Will they be
    Remotely interesting? - - Don’t answer that;
    It was most egotistical, and quite un-English, eh?

    LANSELL:                  

    We don’t expect you to be English, sir;
    We’re quite content to have you as you are.

    LEON:                        

    Just half a generation from the Ghetto!
    These people who would like to meet me –
    Is one of them the woman over there
    Who sits apart and keeps her eyes
    On Oxford’s dreaming spires?
    Think you she knows the pattern she is making,
    Or is the pose unconscious?
    That pale pure profile limned against the pane
    Is food for poetry. There's all enchantment in
    That melting line of shoulder, swelling breast
    And rounded thigh, the lovely ankles and
    The small square hands. And mark those winging brows
    Repeated in the wings of shining hair
    That nestle in against her childlike neak..
    That pensive mouth, where passion sleeps –
    Look at a woman's mouth, young Lansell, it
    Will tell you all of her you need to learn –
    If one but looked, and did not need to know
    Enchantment might be held - but I suppose
    Her head is empty and her voice to match.
    Who is she?

    LANSELL:                  

    She’s Marianna’s cousin, and her name’s -

    LEON:                        

    Don’t tell me – I will ask myself.

    (HE CROSSES THE ROOM AND THE VOICES OF THE OTHER PEOPLE FADE UNTIL THEY ARE A DISTANT ACCOMPANIMENT TO THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN LEON AND LENORA)

    LEON:                        

    What’s your name?

    LENORA:                   

    Lenora Valentine -

    LEON:                        

    Lenora, eh! I thought perhaps it might
    Be Beatrice -

    LENORA:                   

    Dante just looked – and did not speak –

    LEON:                        

    He came from Florence - I from Hanover;
    He was a poet; I’m a scientist.
    Where he could dream and find in dreams
    Fulfillment, I must grasp the substance
    Even though it be the stuff of dreams
    And shatter in my hands.
    A Beatrice in his arms would've chained to earth
    The poet’s imagination; that's a risk
    He dared not take. Supposing she had snored!

    LENORA:                   

    You think that would have ruined romance?
    His love might possibly have been
    Proof against snores.

    LEON:                        

    This conversation’s gone completely wrong;
    It should have kept on elevated planes.

    LENORA:                   

    You can't blame me; you introduced
    the snores.

    LEON:                        

    Shall we skip back to where I said
    He was a poet, I a scientist?

    LENORA:                   

    I think your conversation skips
    Exactly where you want it to.

    LEON:                        

    I desire most of all
    That what I say should hold your interest;
    If contrasts between Schonenberg and Dante
    Are unattractive, we'll abandon them
    And skip on to the likenesses
    Of Beatrice and Lenora.

    LENORA:                   

    I feel we'd better talk about the view
    Of Oxford from a third-floor window.

    LEON:                        

    As my lady wills!
    Note then this cyclist coming down the High,
    See how he strives to raise his hat and bow
    With grace, while still pursuing his appointed way.
    Mark how his wheel wobbles and his smile
    Turns sudden to a sickly grin. Gosh,
    What a lovely splash! Could not have happened better
    Had I planned it!

    LENORA (LAUGHING):   

    You’re a fool.

    LEON:                        

    This conversation was to be impersonal.
    I trust that you approve the fresh pale green
    The trees have taken on for your beholding -

    LENORA (SUDDENLY SERIOUS):

    They are so beautiful. I had not thought
    That green could be so vivid and so soft,
    Or that the quality of light could be
    So different.

    LEON:                        

    You are not English then?

    LENORA:                   

    Australian.

    LEON:                        

    The Antipodes!

    LENORA:                   

    Where men walk upside down.

    LEON:                        

    And women?

    LENORA:                   

    They walk warily.

    LEON:                        

    You are a guest at Oxford?

    LENORA:                  

    Am I then unlike an undergrad?

    LEON:                        

    As poles apart. You already know
    By instinct what these girls will never learn.

    LENORA:                   

    That is gross flattery. The very air
    Of England’s filled with history.
    There’s knowledge in the stones, and every hill
    And valley, every tree’s been known and loved
    For generations. That gives these people
    Depth and roundness and stability –
    A charm they’re quite unconscious of.

    LEON:                        

    Your country is so different?

    LENORA:                   

    All have passed quickly there,
    Their eyes fixed always on the distant scene.
    Horizons there are very far away,
    But reachable, if one but has the will –
    That makes for strength of character, perhaps,
    But keeps our culture rootless.

    LEON:                        

    Fascinating theory, which I feel
    Would well repay examination –

    (THE VOICES OF THE PARTY COME IN A LITTLE MORE STRONGLY. TWO OR THREE YOUNG MEN ARE SINGING THE “ETON BOAT SONG” IN THE BACKGROUND. LANSELL’S VOICE IS HEARD BEFORE HE SPEAKS TO LEON)

    LANSELL:                  

    Herr Schonenberg, some sherry?

    LEON:                        

    No, thank you, not for me –
    These thin wines that the Spaniards make
    Upon their sun-sorched, dry and arid plains
    Bite in my blood like acid. Now, beer!
    That's different. That's a drink for men,
    Warmth and refreshment in a heady blend -

    MARIANNA (REPROACHFULLY):

    I've heard you preach exactly opposite,
    And quoted you -

    LEON:                        

    But must I always be the same?
    That was the other Schonenberg, tres serieux,
    His one-track mind forever pondering,
    Searching and following elusive facts.
    This Schonenberg likes beer and music,
    Youth and bright young faces turned to him 
    He likes, in fact, the subtle adulation
    The young can give to middle-age,
    Accepting it as equal to themselves.

    LANSELL:                  

    At times you seem the youngest of us all.

    LEON:                        

    There's a handsome complement. I drink to you!
    The secret of this art of being young
    Is to accept all things as right and true
    Until you've proved them wrong and false.
    That is an attitude that should appeal
    To you, as Englishmen. The moment
    Disillusionment steps in, that moment
    Age begins.

    (THE SINGING OF THE ETON BOAT SONG GETS LOUDER AND A LITTLE BOISTEROUS)

    LANSELL:                  

    I say, you fellows, can't you break it down!
    I'm sorry, sir - it's purely joie de vivre
    And not the wine - I hope.

    LEON:                        

    We specialised in noise
    In my young days. You've been to Germany
    And heard the students singing -
    This is mild compared with that.

    MARIANNA:               

    You’d rather be in Germany!

    LEON:                        

    In Nazi Germany? No, thank you.
    In any case, all places are the same to me.
    Where my work is, there is my heart also.
    Today, it's here; tomorrow, who knows where?

    LANSELL:                  

    Good to be so completely unattached!

    LENORA:                   

    I don’t agree. It must be terrible to be
    Without an anchor.

    LEON:

    Please don't misunderstand. My anchor's truth,
    And my own special aspect of the truth
    A strong continuing chord that holds me fast
    No matter where I am.
    All other things are merely incident.
    Places per se of no significance.

    MARIANNA:               

    But people must mean something -

    LEON:                        

    There speaks incipient motherhood,
    Finding in every unacquired male
    Eternal challenge.

    LENORA (HALF LAUGHING):

    I do dislike men when they talk like that.

    LEON:                        

    Nature has made you women; why then fight?

    LENORA:                   

    Better accept what can’t be cured – I see!

    LEON:                        

    No! Glory in your womanhood! Your place
    In the sun's no less important, but no more,
    Than man's. Accept it - but don't seek
    To underline it overmuch, lest man should realise
    You've got there by yourself, and not
    Been graciously allowed to sit there.

    LENORA:                   

    We have to fight to get there
    And fight still more to stay.

    LEON:

    Ah, that's because you try to rival man
    In his own sphere, instead of complementing.
    You women have such influence, such power,
    There is no limit to the good
    You might do, if you willed.

    MARIANNA:               

    Like stopping war.

    LEON:                        

    That might not always be good of itself,
    Miss Marianna. A great injustice earns
    Great punishment; who takes by force,
    By force must be despoiled.

    MARIANNA:               

    That is a law that you would recognise -

    LEON:                        

    Being a Jew, you mean. Yes, but not Jews alone.
    Throughout society the ancient law still holds,
    And underneath sophistication's facade
    It remains the basis of all human intercourse.
    The pound of flesh is still the only standard
    Most people understand.
    Place in the other scale the recognition
    That mercy is the attribute of power
    That each iota of just rights surrendered
    Is so much vantage to the enemy -
    The justice of Mosaic law is still
    The weak man's strength.

    LENORA:                   

    You still encourage us to be quiescent!

    LEON:                        

    Misinterpretation, patently designed
    To lure me willy nilly into trouble.
    I will not be lured.
    Lansell, these people that you wanted me
    To meet, they are still here?

    LANSELL:                

    I’ll see if I can find them.

    MARIANNA:               

    A needle in a haystack.

    LANSELL:                  

    Anything less like a needle than
    My aunt, I can’t imagine.

    MARIANNA:

    I’d recognise her general lines –
    I’ll help you look.

    (THE VOICES OF MARIANNA AND LANSELL FADE AS THEY SPEAK)

    LEON:

    Now tell me, has Miss Marianna
    Shown you all Oxford's storied sights?
    Of course, you've seen the Bodleian?

    LENORA:                   

    I saw that Monday afternoon.

    LEON:                        

    The Colleges?

    LENORA:                   

    We went the rounds on Tuesday morning.

    LEON:                        

    On Wednesday?

    LENORA:                   

    We had dinner at the Mitre.

    LEON:                        

    You’ve seen the swans?

    LENORA:                   

    But yes.

    LEON:                        

    Been punting on the Cher?

    LENORA:                   

    I’ve done that too.

    LEON:                        

    And strolled beside the river
    In the scented dusk with Schonenberg?

    LENORA:                   

    No, that sounds new. You recommend it?

    LEON:                        

    Without hesitation.

    LENORA:                   

    Tomorrow afternoon I leave for Cornwall.

    LEON:                        

    There's still tonight - oh, please,
    There's still tonight.
    And afterwards I know a place
    Where one may dine by candlelight.
    You'll come? For a moment,
    I must go and do this lion-roaring
    For young Lansell. You'll excuse me, please,
    For sixty seconds?

    LENORA:                   

    I haven’t said I’ll come.

    LEON:

    You'll come! We have not met to part at once -
    You feel that too. I shall return.

    (THE VOICES OF THE GIRLS GROW LOUDER AND COME CLOSE AROUND LENORA)

    MARIANNA:               

    Since this is your last evening, you must say
    What you would like to do, Lenora.

    LENORA:

    I dine, it seems, with Schonenberg.

    MARIANNA:

    I thought you were progressing famously.
    But do take care, Lenora. I have heard
    Most awful tales about Herr Schonenberg.
    And, after all, he is a Jew.

    LENORA:                   

    And therefore partly devil.
    Don't fear, my dear - a rakish reputation
    May enhance his charm with some;
    I'm much too old - but still naive enough
    to be impressed by erudition.
    I've a mind to probe the surface man
    And find out if the child underneath
    Is shy and charming, as I think he is.

    MARIANNA:               

    If mother knew, she’d have a fit.
    But I won’t tell her.

    LENORA:                   

    A simple dinner in an Oxford inn
    Can surely not contaminate me much.
    My aunt forgets I've come alone half-way
    Across the earth.

    MARIANNA:               

    He’s Continental – that’s the rub;
    Their attitude to women’s so completely odd.

    LENORA:                   

    He’s interesting and vital. And, in any case,
    Tomorrow afternoon, I go to Cornwall.

    MARIANNA:               

    I know he's fascinating; but don't say
    I didn't warn you. He's coming back;
    I'll gracefully efface myself.

    LEON:                        

    My duty's done. Two mammas and two papas
    And one so charming aunt! I roared most nobly.
    Let us go - now -

    (THE PARTY VOICES COME IN LOUDLY AS THEY WERE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SCENE: THE MUSIC OF "GREENSLEVES" GROWS AND THEN FADES AWAY TO TURN INTO THE FINALE OF SCHOUBERT’ S "TROUT" QUINTET)

    LEON:                        

    Let us go now - Lenora -
    The music is too much tonight.

    LENORA:                   

    There is Ravel to follow this; you wanted
    Specially to hear it. Could we not stay for that?

    LEON:                        

    I can bear no more tonight -
    Let us go -

    LENORA:                   

    The quintet is just finishing.
    You go down when it ends. I'll snatch my cloak
    And meet you at the bottom of the stairs
    In twenty seconds.

    (THE QUINTET FINISHES. THERE IS APPLAUSE WHICH FADES AWAY AS LENORA LEAVES THE ROOM: AN UPWARD RUNNING SCALE ON A VIOLIN INDICATES HER RUNNING TO GET HER CLOAK, THEN AS HER FOOTSTEPS GO DOWNSTAIRS, THE VIOLIN DESCENDS THE SCALE WITH HER.)

    LEON:                        

    It’s raining slightly. Shall I call a cab?

    LENORA:                   

    Let’s run for it. It isn’t very far.

    (THEY RUN. THE NOISE OF LONDON TRAFFIC ACCOMPANIES THEM; CARS AND BUSES HORNS AND BELLS AND NEWSBOYS CALLING.)

    LEON:                        

    This is fun. I haven't run like this for years,
    With rain on my face.

    LENORA:                   

    These heels weren’t made to run in.

    LEON:                        

    The night smells sweet - and see those dazzling lights
    Reflected on the pavement.
    One of the English moderns wrote a poem,
    Quite good, about wet pavements.
    I forget his name.

    LENORA (STOPPING TO LAUGH BREATHLESSLY):

    Really, Leon, nobody but you
    Would talk of poetry while running down
    A rainy London street.

    LEON:                       

    Is there a special time and place
    For poetry? Should not one speak of it
    The moment that one feels the impulse?
    Poetry is part of life and somewhere
    In some poet's writing, one may find
    Every emotion reproduced. A humbling thought!
    To know one's sorrows, one's desires, so urgent
    And so personal are part of all
    Humanity's experience.

    LENORA:                   

    If I had breath to more than run and laugh,
    I'd answer that. - - Unlock the door,
    While I regain my breath.

    (LEON UNLOCKS THE DOOR: THEY STEP INSIDE AND CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND THEM, SHUTTING OUT THE TRAFFIC NOISES. THE LIGHT IS SWITCHED ON.)

    LEON:                        

    Running is good for you.
    Your checks are like red flags, and in your hair
    The rain has set a hundred diamonds sparkling.
    And this small curl that's wandered out of place
    And nestles wetly up against your ear
    Is very sweet.

    LENORA:                   

    I suppose that means my hair’s untidy.

    LEON:                        

    Why must you always bring me back to earth?

    LENORA:                   

    It shakes me so to know you love me, Leon.
    I have to fool to break your spell -
    I think you know that too.

    LEON:                        

    You are so beautiful, Lenora,
    So very beautiful. Had I the power
    I'd fix your beauty in immortal words
    That men might see you to the end of time
    And share my passion.
    Your wit, your devastating honesty,
    The fire that lights you when your heart's engaged,
    The lightning instinct which you will call reason,
    Your so elusive tenderness, too moving
    Almost to be borne at times;
    Your invitations, your withdrawals,
    Your most exquisite femininity,
    I love them all - you are all women,
    Yet most damnably Lenora.
    In fact, there's very little that I do
    Not love, except perhaps your independence.

    LENORA:                               

    That I cannot yield, and remain Lenora.
    There are times when I resent
    With every that's in me
    This way you have of filling my horizon.
    I'm sure it's not just maidenly retreat
    To lure you to pursuit, because to tell the truth,
    You never see, to need much luring.

    LEON:                        

    I talk in high-flown terms of spiritual values
    While you in twenty words, reduce us to the plane
    Of yokels in a country lane.

    LENORA:                   

    Are we much different? When I am with you,
    I am most conscious of the skin and flesh
    And bones, the nerves and blood that go to make
    Lenora Valentine. Leon, why can't we marry?

    (THERE IS A LITTLE SILENCE, THEN LENORA SAYS AS THOUGH FRIGHTENED AT THE THOUGHT)

    You're not already married?

    LEON (SLOWLY):

    I am a Jew.

    LENORA:                   

    Is it a crime to be a Jew?

    LEON:                        

    In Europe, yes.

    LENORA:                   

    Not in Australia.
    There a Jew is just like other men,
    Esteemed or not according as the man himself
    Is worthy of respect. A man's own calibre
    Is what he's judged on. You'll have to find
    A reason more convincing than Jewish ancestry.

    LEON:                       

    I am a Jew,
    And therefore born already cursed.
    Did I love you less, I could perhaps
    Have married you and hoped to shield you;
    But that is not my way, nor yours -
    To set barriers against reality.
    You would fight and suffer, fight
    And suffer more than once
    For freedom and justice are to you
    The natural heritage of every man.
    But I am a Jew, and knew with my first breath
    That justice is not for the Jews
    And freedom only theirs on sufferance.
    You would batter and bruise yourself against
    Injustice, inhumanity -
    I shrug my shoulders, turn my back and go
    Another way. I am a Jew.
    You've said to me, Fight back, fight back;
    Behind you stretch a hundred generations
    Of free men, free by the virtue not alone
    Of their indomitable spirit, but
    By virtue of the space they've lived in.
    Behind me is the Ghetto -
    A million people hemmed about by hate.
    And fear-begetting fear.
    The torture chamber's still a present memory
    Born in all Jewish flesh. I know.
    I am a Jew.
    A thousand years we've used the only means
    We've had of hitting back - our brains.
    We've cheated and lied, flattered, cajoled
    And screwed our way by usury,
    And when we needed it, involved the Gentile's justice
    For our ends. A thousand years
    We've hoist the Christians with their own petard.
    Why shouldn't we? I'm not ashamed.
    I am a Jew.
    Where other men can act with arrogance,
    I must be humble, though the culture of my race
    Began before history. Where they can swagger,
    I must cringe. I envy unselfconsciousness
    I dare not emulate. I am a Jew.
    I remember how my father stood
    In our community, symbol of piety and wisdom,
    His rocklike faith supremely unconcerned
    With faintest breath of doubt.
    For him, there was no god but God.
    Simplicity, benevolence were part of him
    And broad humanity.
    Love for his children was a benediction -
    And now his son goes into church uncovered,
    Drinks wine and eats forbidden meats;
    But that fierce pride of race which was his core
    Goes on unbroken in his own. Whatever else I am,
    I am a Jew.

    LENORA:

    Leon, you’re fey tonight.

    LEON:                        

    This is my swansong.

    LENORA:                   

    You speak as though you meant that.

    LEON:                        

    I almost think I do.
    We met in April; now it is July.
    Three months of exquisite relationship -
    It has been exquisite.
    Some time it had to change, to merge,
    Perhaps to end.
    We are not children, seeking in marriage
    Passion's satisfaction, all-important -
    It is important; who but a Jew would know
    How terribly important, but not everything.
    The outside world impinges more on wife
    And husband, than it does on love declared
    But not yet consummated; that is why
    I am afraid to marry you, Lenora.
    I could not bear that you should be every
    On guard, with your defences always up.
    I can just bear to let you go now,
    Your gallant spirit still untouched.

    LENORA:                   

    What makes you think that you can treat me so?
    Am I a chattel to be used or pushed aside
    As the mood takes you?

    LEON:                        

    Now you are angry.

    LENORA:                   

    Angry! I am outraged!

    Do you think I have not realised
    How much your Jewish birth obesses you;
    I've tried with everything I've said and done
    To show you that the barriers
    Are raised by you yourself.
    No one cares a straw if you be Jew or Gentile
    If your spirit to be akin to his.
    That is what matters, not the accident
    Of birth or race. Your brilliance,
    Your vast learning and your charm - 
    You can be charming when you like -
    Your personality, entitled you
    To take your place among
    The great and cultured people of the earth;
    Yet you perversely colour everything
    With this absurd obsession. If only you
    Yourself were hurt, it might not matter.
    But now it touches me.

    LEON:

    Lenora, this is real. It is not
    Just an obsession. If you would only understand!
    Your pride is fierier than mine –
    How would you like to be debarred
    From dancing in a public room,
    Because your husband was a Jew;
    Or herded into special seats on cars,
    Because your husband was a Jew.
    That would be your fate. It's that that I
    would save you from. I tell you that in Germany
    A Jew is something less than animal,
    A license butt for all conceivable
    Barbarity.

    LENORA:                               

    We would not need to live in Europe.
    The world is wide; There's all America
    Untouched, and my own country -
    Oh, do not let us quarrel over this;
    We must preserve our love and guard it
    Like a sacred flame. And I do love you, Leon.

    LEON:                        

    Yes, I know you do. And yet, in justice to you,
    I must not let you love me any more.

    LENORA:                   

    Love is two-sided, Leon,
    It is given and received, and only I
    Can fix the limits of the love I give you.
    If I were sure that you were not indulging
    Your passion for self-sacrifice,
    I would go out of your life tonight.
    But could our friendship end like this?
    Could you get through tomorrow without ringing me,
    Live a whole day without me?
    You haven't done it for three months, you know?

    LEON:                   
         

    Tomorrow evening I shall be in Germany.

    LENORA:                   

    In Germany! Now I know you’re joking.

    LEON:                        

    The plane leaves Croydon aerodrome at noon and
    I’ll be in Berlin in time for dinner.

    LENORA:                   

    Leon, stop talking in this stupid fashion,
    You cannot go to Germany.
    It would be worse than madness.
    Oh, my darling, do not tease me so -
    Even the thought of Germany contracts my heart
    With fear for you. They might keep
    You there; they could - you're still a German national.
    Leon, you do mean it?

    LEON (SLOWLY AND HEAVILY):

    I've spoken to you often of Kurt Martin.
    Kurt is my more than friend. He typifies
    For me what men might be. He has, I think,
    The finest brain on earth today; his whole life
    Is spent in selfless service for humanity.
    I heard today that he has been arrested.
    Protective custody, they call it - god of my fathers,
    From what could they protect him, of all men?
    His wife is Jewish - that must be his crime.

    LENORA:      

    What can you do to help him? Could you not
    Do more for him from here?
    Arrest of one of Dr. Martin's standing
    Will raise a storm of protest everywhere
    Too great to be ignored.
    Public opinion is still powerful
    Even in Germany -

    LEON:                        

    They are so plausible - the world outside
    Carefully refrains from finding out
    What's really going on in Germany.
    Knowledge might mean that they must do
    Something about it. They prefer
    To look the other way.

    LENORA:                   

    We've argued this so many times before;
    I still feel that there's nothing else to do
    But let the German people suffer from
    The government they have chosen.
    If it is wrong, then only Germany
    Can right the wrong.
    That is the essence of democracy.
    The whole thing is too personal
    For you to see it clearly.

    LEON:                        

    I am weary with thinking; my mind is paralyzed -
    It's Kurt who is in danger;
    When most I need my coolness,
    It deserts me.

    LENORA:                   

    Come and sit here beside me, Leon.
    Give me your hands, my darling.
    This is the first time you have needed me.

    LEON:                        

    I shall always need you.

    LENORA:                   

    I’ll remember that when we get back from Germany.

    LEON:                        

    When we get back – no, no, my dear,
    You’re staying here in England.

    LENORA:                   

    I will not let you go alone -
    I know you're hiding something from me.
    Tell me the truth - there's something else you fear.

    LEON:                        

    Six other men beside myself know this;
    And no one else.
    For two years now, we've worked a scheme
    For smuggling Jews from Germany.
    Kurt has been the German, I the English end.
    An Austrian, another Jew in Germany,
    A Scot in Prague, a Dutchman with me here,
    An Englishman who acts as go-between,
    Each of them has his separate part to play;
    The system as a whole is known
    Only to Kurt and me. Based on the timing
    Of each separate stage of every journey
    So that the contacts in the chain
    Have touched with perfect naturalness,
    The refugees have disappeared from Germany.
    We've kept them out of sight for months at times.
    So that no backward trail might show.
    They've melted rather than escaped -
    And everyone has been someone who mattered
    In the world of science.
    There have been failures naturally,
    For no one can suppress the human element,
    But men flying in terror of their lives
    Or worse cannot be held responsible
    For failure, though cause by their own lack
    Of confidence.
    I am afraid that by some black mischance
    The trail of some such failure has led back
    To Kurt. It could have done, for we have had
    To place our trust in most unlikely places.
    Don't speak of this, Lenora, unless both Kurt
    And I are dead. The Nazi memory
    is long and unbelievably vindictive.
    Revenge for their outwitting would be wrecked
    Against relations whom we've long forgotten.
    That is the Nazi way.
    The trail will be worked once more, this time
    For Kurt himself and Elsa. Since Kurt is out
    Of action, I must go myself to set the trail.
    There is no other way.

    LENORA:                   

    Cannot the others still in Germany
    Set the plan going?

    LEON:                        

    For their own sakes, we've kept them ignorant -
    They do not know each other, nor the scheme
    We work on. Each one does his part,
    Knowing neither beginning nor the end
    Of any trail.
    It is better so.
    They get their orders by a simple call
    Made from a public phone box.

    LENORA:                   

    This is too fantastic – things like this
    Don’t happen outside novels.

    LEON:                        

    Make no mistake – they happen.

    LENORA:                   

    How can you speak of going back so calmly;
    It is too dangerous; and how can you,
    Already marked, hope to  procure release
    For Dr. Martin?

    LEON

    By bribery, my dear, by bribery.
    Even Nazi palms can itch;
    The higher up the palm, the more it itches.

    LENORA:

    But your returning will draw attention to you
    And that might well be fatal to your plan.
    If only I might go instead - Leon,
    Why couldn't I? They would not dare to touch
    An English tourist.

    LEON:                        

    You could never make the contacts needed
    Without more German than you have, my dear. 
    No, there is nothing for it. I must go.
    If I did not, I would fail to keep
    Faith with myself.

    LENORA:                   

    Then I shall go with you. You cannot stop me, Leon.
    My being with you may be some protection - 
    As yet, they've only offered insults to
    Australians. We can make it look
    A sentimental journey to your home - 
    They'd understand that, and be off their guard.

    LEON:                       

    I think that it might work - but there would have
    To be no make-believe about it.
    Nothing escapes their eyes and any hint
    Of pretence would arouse suspicion instantly
    And prove a pointer rather than a screen.
    You know what it will mean, Lenora - 

    LENORA

    I will be your wife, my darling.

    LEON (HARSHLY):

    I will have to think about this -
    I must accept your help in saving Kurt
    If that's the only way he can be saved;
    But as between yourself and me, 
    The situation is unchanged.

    LENORA:                   

    “Pig-headed” is the epithet we use
    For stubbornness like yours.
    Tomorrow I may wish I’d had more pride
    Not flung myself quite so completely at you;
    Tonight I have no pride, no dignity,
    Only an overwhelming need of you,
    A desperate conviction that I must
    Not let you go to Germany alone.
    Leon, if you really do not want me
    For your wife, be kind and tell me now.

    LEON:                        

    There is no need for me to answer that.

    LENORA:                   

    We’ll talk of this again when we return
    From Germany.

    LEON:                        

    It is your mind that may be altered then;
    I’ll still be Jewish -

    LENORA:                   

    The whole world’s problem-child, the Jewish race.

    LEON:                        

    You class all Jews together.
    It is not so. We are born in all strata of society,
    Citizens of half the nations on the earth.
    Think of us, not as a race,
    And not as problems,
    But as men and women,
    Flesh and blood and nerves,
    Created of the same dust,
    By the same food nourished,
    Governed by the same primeval laws
    As other men.

    LENORA:

    If I get half a chance, I’ll help you show
    The world what Jews can be.

    LEON:                   
         

    Give you half a chance, you ride the clouds,
    My sweet, and take me with you up among the stars.

    LENORA:                   

    My head's not in cloud-cuckoo land tonight;
    I'm very practical. What shall we need in Germany?

    LEON:                        

    Money – and then more money –

    (THE MUSIC - MUSIC AT BEGINNING OF ACT 3 OF "TRISTAN AND ISOLDE"  -  SWELLS  AND FADES TO BE REPLACED BY A SUCCESSION OF DARK HEAVY CHORDS WHICH DO NOT RESOLVE)

    LENORA:                   

    Your hands are comfortable, Kurt?

    KURT:                        

    The pain is bearable.

    LENORA:                   

    I'll take the slings off just before we go
    And help you put your left hand in your pocket,
    That will look quite natural.
    I hope it will not be too painful - 

    KURT:                        

    Easy to bear when one is on the road
    To freedom. Is Elsa coming, Leon?

    LEON:                        

    No, no sign of her as yet.
    I cannot understand why she had need
    To go.

    KURT:                        

    Elsa is first and last a mother, Leon.
    She went to bid our son a long farewell.

    LEON:                        

    Your son! I did not know you had one.
    Did she have far to go?
    I hope she will not tell him anything;
    Success depends on utmost secrecy.

    KURT:                        

    There is no fear. He has been dead
    These fifteen years - 

    LEON:                        

    I’m sorry, Kurt.

    (THREE MOTOR LORRIES PASS OUTSIDE THE HOUSE, WITH LOUD-SPEAKERS BLARING. THE NAZI SLOGAN, "DEUTSCHLAND ERWACHE: JUDA VERRECKE" IS REPEATED TIME AFTER TIME IN YOUNG MEN'S VOICES)

    LEON:                        

    The packs are out today. Elsa will need
    To dodge them. Which way did she go?

    KURT:                        

    The cemetery is over near the Rosenplatz.

    LEON (ALARMED):

    The Rosenplatz! Their rally’s there today.

    KURT:                        

    Don't worry, Leon; with freedom in our grasp,
    Elsa will take no risk.

    LEON:                        

    I've sat in London all these months and planned
    And thought, when I had made the plans,
    There, that is done.
    Not realising how this awful tension,
    This waiting for the moment of escape
    Can be unbearable - 

    KURT:                        

    If I were more a man and less a burden!
    Can we not, even at this final minute,
    Reverse our plans.
    You and Lenora surely need not run
    The danger of our company.

    LEON:                        

    It is too late for that!
    They have found out too soon
    How your release was planned.
    Lenora need not come with us; they dare
    Not touch her, even though they know
    The part she's played.

    LENORA:                               

    Where you go, I go, Leon.

    LEON:                                    

    I wish that I had never let you come.

    LENORA:                               

    It may seem the stupidest disloyalty
    To you and Kurt and Elsa. Yet I am
    Sad to be leaving Germany.
    I feel as though something is ending.
    And I have been happy here - 
    A weird, intense, fantastic happiness
    With undertones of pain and misery.
    Am I unnatural, Leon?

    LEON:                                    

    I have been happy too, Lenora.
    From the first moment that we met, you've been
    To me at once a promise and fulfilment.
    All these weeks in Germany
    I think I've been a little drunk with beauty - 
    No matter what the future be, 
    Nothing can take this from us.

    KURT:                        

    Those are Elsa’s steps -

    LEON:                        

    Yes, here she comes, running as though the hounds
    Of hell itself were at her heels -

    LENORA:                   

    Unlock the door –

    (LEON CROSSES THE ROOM UNLOCKS THE DOOR AND ELSA IS HEARD RUNNING UP THE STAIRS. SHE COMES IN AND SLAMS THE DOOR BEHIND HER AND FOR A MOMENT ONLY HER LABOURED BREATHING IS HEARD)

    KURT:                        

    Elsa, what is it?

    ELSA:                         

    I saw them kill a Jew - an old, old man - 
    Over beyond the Rosenplatz.
    Brownshirts inciting them - they're only boys.
    They're mad, they're mad! I heard your names,
    Yours, Kurt, and Schonenberg - 
    Let us go, let us go without waiting - 

    LEON:                        

    Three minutes yet before we dare leave here.
    Sit, Elsa - and be calm. They will not come
    Before we go - 

    (THE SINGING OF THE HORST WESSEL SONG BEGINS IN THE DISTANCE; AT FIRST ONLY THE MARKED MARCH RHYTHM IS HEARD)

    ELSA:                         

    I am afraid - why need we wait?

    LEON (SPEAKING CALMLY AND DISPASSIONATELY):

    The car will come exactly at the hour;
    We must be there exactly when it comes
    But not a moment sooner. There must be
    No opportunity for anyone to notice it
    Or notice us as they might do
    Were we to linger on the stairs
    Or even in the entrance hall. 
    We all have learnt the schedule.
    All who are left must keep to it implicitly.
    If one shall fail, the others must go on.
    Time is the essence of its functioning;
    We dare not risk it by anticipation
    Even of minutes.
    Where were the brownshirts when you saw them last.

    ELSA:                         

    In Eisenstrasse. Listen –

    (THE SINGING IS NOTICEABLY LOUDER)

    LEON:                        

    You have the papers in your bag, Lenora.
    The second passports and the change of clothes - 

    LENORA:                   

    Are safely hidden at the Lusanne inn;
    Nothing has been forgotten.

    LEON:                        

    Help Kurt put on his coat –

    (KURT STIFLES A MOAN AS HE MOVES)

    ELSA:                         

    Your hands, your splendid hands you would
    Have worked to bone for Germany.
    A thousand fiends torment their souls in hell
    A million years -

    KURT:                        

    Be quiet, Elsa -

    ELSA:                         

    Why should I be quiet? The evil that they do
    Cries to the very heavens for revenge -

    KURT:

    Do not believe that what they’ve done
    Will go unpunished –

    (THE SINGING IS MUCH NEARER NOW, THE MARCHING RHYTHM VERY MARKED)

    LENORA:

    They’re coming nearer?

    LEON:

    At the bottom of the hill already.

    LENORA:

    If only they could be diverted.

    LEON:

    They will have to be.
    If they come nearer, they may see and block
    The car.
    What are the chances, Kurt?

    KURT:

    But slender.

    LEON:

    You know exactly what you have to do.
    In ninety seconds, Schmidt will have the car
    Outside the central door. Walk into it
    Without a backward glance -

    LENORA (SHARPLY):

    Leon, what are you doing?

    LEON:

    I'll run more swiftly without hat or coat,
    And fear will lend me wings - 

    LENORA (HER VOICE RISING HYSTERICALLY):

    Leon - oh, Leon - 

    KURT:

    I cannot let you do this -

    LEON:

    There is no time to talk;
    You are Kurt Martin, I am but Schonenberg.

    LENORA

    You cannot go and seek them;
    It’s certain death –

    LEON:

    There is no other way. Kurt, my friend!
    Elsa, take care of him. The world has need of him.
    My sweet Lenore [sic] - - You know I'll love you,
    Even after death. 

    (THE DOOR SLAMS BEHIND HIM, HIS FEET ARE HEARD RUNNING DOWN THE STAIRS HIS FOOTSTEPS AND THEN IN THE STREET. HE IS WHISTLING “GREENSLEEVES”)

    LENORA:

    Dear God, don’t let me call him back.

    (THE WHISTLING FADES. THE SINGING IS CLOSER: THE SONG HAS CHANGED BUT THE DISTINCT MARCHING RHYTHM IS STILL MOST MARKED)

    ELSA (A NOTE OF HIGH TERROR IN HER VOICE):

    They're coming - they're coming.

    KURT:

    It’s fifty seconds yet.
    Lenora, talk – for pity’s sake, Lenora!

    (LENORA SPEAKS IN AN EVEN TONE AT FIRST; BUT AT EACH INTERRUPTION, SHE HESITATES, THEN GOES ON, BUT HER VOICE RISES A TONE EACH TIME)

    LENORA:

    In Melbourne now, it will be spring
    And all the trees will be feathered in palest green.
    In each suburban garden, blossom trees
    Will be a harmony of pink and white and red,
    There will be borders thick with daffodils
    With fragrant freesias and pale primula,
    Anemones and hyacinths, and all
    The lovely sights and perfumes that the spring can mean
    In Melbourne, while in the city streets
    Boronia's wild tang will be
    A call like a tocsin.

    (A LORRY PASSES WITH LOUDSPEAKERS. THEY ARE SINGING NOW AN ANTI-JEWISH SONG AND ONE LINE IS HEAD AS THE LORRY PASSES THE WINDOWS - "UND JUDEN BLUT MUSS VON UNSEREN MESSERN SPRITZEN")

    ELSA (HER VOICE IS NOT FAR FROM HYSTERIA):

    Und Juden blut muss von unseren Messern spritzen.
    And Jewish blood shall splash from our knives - 

    LENORA

    Along Port Phillip's lovely amber shores
    Where the waves dance a playful minuet,
    The ti-tree scrub will be a veil of white
    Above its mystic grey and tortured trunks.
    Curtains of star-flowered clematis will hang
    Above the orchids pushing shy green hoods
    Through downy moss.
    And over all, the sweetness of the bush, 
    The never-ceasing music of the bird-calls,
    The wattle birds, the little painted finches,
    Thrushes and blackbirds and the kookaburra -
    My heart is breaking for the peace of home - 

    ELSA

    It is time?

    KURT:

    Not yet.

    LENORA:

    Soon it will be warm enough for swimming -
    The yellow sand beneath one's feet; the sun,
    The warm and lovely sun caressing one,
    The gaily coloured towels along the beaches,
    Children's voices, brown skins and carefree laughter -
    You have forgotten how to laugh in German - 
    And then the silken water like a cradle - 
    Lulling the mind to pure content - 
    One might forget - forgot - 

    KURT (BREAKING IN HEAVILY):

    It is time. Let us go now –

    (THEIR STEPS ARE HEARD GOING DOWN THE STAIRS: THE SHOUTED NAZI SLOGANS COME CLOSER AND CLOSER WITH UNDER THEM THE UNDISCIPLINED GROWLING OF A MOB. THE MOB NOISES GROW AND OVERPOWER THE SLOGANS AND ARE IN TURN OVERPOWERED BY MUSIC WHICH SWELLS INTO THE FIRST CHORUS FROM DUBOIS’ "SEVEN LAST WORDS", THE CHORDS BEGINNING WITH THE WORDS "TOLLE,  TOLLE". THE MUSIC  RISES  IN  A  GREAT CRESCENDO, THEN STOPS DEAD, AND LENORA'S VOICE GOES ON IN THE TONE  IN  WHICH SHE WAS SPEAKING TO THE MEETING AT THE END OF THE FIRST SCENE)

    LENORA:

    The gods, it seemed, were satisfied. The plan
    Functioning with the deftness and precision
    That was the mark of all that Leon did. 
    In seven hours we'd passed the frontier.
    By noon next day, Kurt was in hospital
    In London; his hands, his splendid surgeon's hands
    Were dressed and tended.
    But over Leon's fate lay silence.
    Months afterwards, persistent Oxford friends
    Elicited at last from Germany
    A vague report. He had been killed, they said,
    In a laboratory accident.
    The Reich regretted his untimely death.

    The name of Schonenberg's forgotten now
    Save by a handful of those scientists
    To whom his work remains his monument.
    I too remember.

    But I remember most

    The brilliance of his spirit, his genius
    For friendship, his humanity
    And his great understanding. I am the richer
    Having known and loved him. I can forgive
    Jews many things, because one man was great.
    Kurt Martin and his wife came with me to Australia.
    Turning their backs on Europe's tortured scene,
    They faced the future here with hope and high resolve,
    But childish prejudice and harsh intolerance
    Have beaten whom the Nazis failed to bend.
    Here we found no place for one of Europe's
    Greatest men. Last month, in Sydney,
    Kurt Martin died by his own hand.
    Of my own sorrow at his loss, I do not speak; 
    This is a matter that concerns us all.
    It is our everlasting shame that things
    Like this can happen and this is
    No isolated case. I would despair
    If I did not believe this drift arises
    From pure thoughtlessness and not from malice.
    The remedy is in your hands,
    And each of you can help to turn the tide
    Can give and see to it that there is given
    These aliens a chance to prove themselves
    Good citizens. Their way off life is different;
    Let us accept that and seek not to press
    Out way of life on them; but rather let us 
    Seek their friendship, giving not only refuge,
    But goodwill and sympathy that word implies.
    Better it is that we should shield
    A hundred Nazi spies, than that one innocent
    Should be denied sanctuary on our shores.
    I ask not charity, but justice.
    We need the refugees; they bring
    The leavening influences of the older world
    Our adolescence lacks.
    When refugees first came here, we spoke of them
    As "New Australians". Let us so think of them,
    A necessary component of our nation.
    I do not ask that you should make yourselves
    An army with banners - it might, perhaps, be easier
    If I did.
    It is an attitude of mind that's needed
    A conscious turning of goodwill towards
    Those who look to us for liberty an justice.
    For all of them, especially for the Jews,
    I ask goodwill. 

    (THERE IS SUSTAINED APPLAUSE)

    PRESIDENT:

    We all have listened to Miss Valentine
    With sympathy and understanding.
    We can assure her that her sacrifice
    In telling us this frank and touching story
    Will not go unrewarded.
    We are inclined to overlook the need
    That's closest.
    That is human nature. The powerful appeal
    We've heard this afternoon for tolerance
    Where we, indeed, we should need no such reminder,
    Is timely. This is a cause a body such as ours
    Can properly espouse. I thank Miss Valentine
    For bringing it so strongly to our notice.
    Has any member any question she
    Would like to ask the speaker?

    SECRETARY

    I would like to add my thanks.
    It's good for us to hear such stories at
    First hand and know them true. 
    The propaganda bogey rears its head
    So much, one fears to be mislead

    (HER VOICE TRAILS AWAY AS THE VOICE OF THE LADY WITH THE EAR TRUMPET IS HEARD ARGUING WITH MRS. DEAN)

    LADY WITH T.

    Did she say if they were married?

    MRS. DEAN:

    No.

    LADY WITH T.

    What d’re mean? She didn’t say?

    MRS. DEAN (VERY DISTINCTLY):

    They were not married.

    LADT WITH T.

    Not married, eh? (SHE ADDRESSES THE CHAIR)
    Well, Madam President,
    I'm sure the speaker was, in telling us
    Her story, actuated by good motives,
    But I feel we members of this League
    Must as all costs uphold the highest standards
    Of public morals. I'm sure the Jews
    Who've come here mostly for their own convenience

    (THERE ARE VOICES RAISED IN DISSENT, BUT THE LADY WITH THE TRUMPET GOES ON DOGGEDLY)

    Have had their rights according to the rules
    Of British justice. As a race, they're
    Very well equipped to guard their own preserves.
    I feel we could, without injustice to them,
    Leave their fate in their own hands.
    They on the whole have too much money - 

    (THE DISSENTING VOICES ARE DROWNED BY UNDERTONES OF MOB NOISES. WITH THE MOB AS A BACKGROUND, THE WOMEN’S VOICES ARE HEARD IN SNATCHES – EACH REMARK BEING REPEATED MORE THAN ONCE)

    VARIOUS MEMBERS:

    They take our men folk’s jobs –

    They stay at home

    While our men fight –

    They’re miserly –

    They stick together –

    They live

    On the smell of an oil-rag –

    - Sweated labour –

    - Break our factory laws -

    (THE MOB NOISES GET LOUDER AND LOUDER UNTIL THE SHOUTED REMARKS TAKE ON THE RHYTHM OF THE NAZI SLOGANS AT THE END OF THE FOURTH SECTION. THE NOISE GROWS AND TURNS INTO THE SAME CHORUS AS IT DID BEFORE, THE MUSIC GROWS, REPEATING THE CLIMAX OF THE LAST SECTION; THEN STOPS ABRUPTLY AS IT DID BEFORE. IN THE QUIET THAT FOLLOWS, LEON’S VOICE IS HEARD AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF PURE MUSIC – BACH’S “AIR FOR THE G STRING”)

    LEON:                                    

    Think of us, not as a race
    And not as problems,
    But as men and women,
    Flesh and blood and nerves,
    Created of the same dust,
    By the same food nourished,
    Governed by the same primeval laws,
    As other men.

    (THE END)


    This play was digitised in 2018 as a part of AustLit's Australian Drama Archive. We gratefully acknowledge the permission of Dorothy Blewett's family to make her works available.

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