Dorothy Blewett's play The First Joanna was written around 1941, and revised over the following 17 years with the most significant revisions occurring during the time she lived in London. The play had a solid performance history in Australia in the late 1940s and was made into an ABC TV drama in 1961. It failed to gain a production in the UK but was optioned by theatre producers Maxwell Wray and Linnit and Dunfree in the early 1950s.
The First Joanna has never been published before. AustLit is pleased to be making this classic Australian play available for reading, research, and production accompanying by some rich research and analysis undertaken by students and the researchers involved in the project.
Read six versions of the play at the links below. Explore how the play changed over time as the author received advice from readers, reviewers, and production.
In The First Joanna Dorothy Blewett explores Australia's acceptance of its convict heritage, tracing the fictional history of the Deverons, owners of a leading South Australian vineyard. The property, situated near the Onkaparinga River, was established in the early years of the colony by settler Stephen Deveron. The central characters of the play are the Joanna Millay, a young convict woman who becomes the matriarch of the Deverons, and Joanna Deveron, the wife of the second Stephen Deveron - the grandson of the first Joanna and the first Stephen Deveron.(...more)
Six versions of The First Joanna exist and are made available here in scans of the digitised playscripts. Read AustLit Research Student Intern, Saskia Stegman's, analysis of the changes to the manuscript: A Textual Comparison of The First Joanna .
—. This version was likely written around 1943 and presented at a Fellowship of Australian Writers event in Sydney. It is a high quality scan of the original file held in the Fryer Library at The University of Queensland.
—. See all known production details at the AustLit record: The First Joanna
—. The second version of the play is likely to have been revised up to 1947 and is the version that won the Playwrights' Advisory Board Competition in 1947 that led to the productions in 1948 at the Metropolitan Theatre, Sydney, and other theatres around Australia.
—. See all known production details at the AustLit record: The First Joanna
—. This version of the play is likely to be revised version of the play following on from its first Australian productions. Circa 1950. It is the first time the play appears in two acts.
—. See all known production details at the AustLit record: The First Joanna
This version was revised while Blewett was living in London and associated as a member, and then in the official role of Secretary, of the Society for Australian Writers.
THE FIRST JOANNA : A PLAY IN TWO ACTS
(First written 1941; first performed 1948; this version ca. 1956.)
Miss Dorothy Blewett
44 Lansdowne Crescent,
Play sourced from the Hanger Collection at the University of Queensland.
Typescript copy presented to The Fryer Memorial Library of Australian Literature by:
Mr. Leslie Rees,
4/5 The Esplanade,
Balmoral Beach, N.S.W. 2088.
THE FIRST JOANNA
The second STEVEN DEVERON
who “obliges” at Chateau Deveron
The second JOANNA DEVERON
Stephen's second cousin
HALLEY van DRUYTEN
Captain in the United States Army
Stephen’s twin great-aunts, aged 92
SIR BERTRAM TAVENER
Governor of a women's jail in Tasmania
LADY CAROLINE TAVENER
MISS BEATRICE TAVENER
CAPTAIN JULES SMITH
of the British Army, aged 29
the First Joanna, aged 17
MAJOR JULES SMITH
|Joanna and Stephen's children:|
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
A morning in December, 1945
The evening of the same day
Except for the interpolated scene in 1837, all the action takes place at Chateau Deveron, a vineyard in South Australia.
The verandah of the Old House at Chateau Deveron.
The edge of the verandah at the back of the stage is broken slightly to the right of the audience by a short flight of steps leading up from the garden, beyond which can be seen, to the right, a long gently sloping hill covered with rows of grapevines in full leaf. To the left are more hills pale golden with dried grass and a very occasional gum tree. Between the hills, the suggestion of a river. Close to the verandah in the garden below is a jacaranda on which some mauve-blue blooms still linger.
On each side of the stage are portions of the house, with a door to the kitchen on the left and one to other parts of the house on the right. These walls move on small circular stages to provide the settings for the interpolated scenes.
On the verandah are several closed steamer chairs in bright colours. A table downstage is set for breakfast with three chairs around it.
The garden and hills are bathed in strong bright sunlight, but the verandah is shadowed and cool.
MRS COLLINS ENTERS FROM KITCHEN CARRYING A BOWL OF FRESH FRUIT WHICH SHE PLACES ON THE TABLE. SHE IS IN HER LATE FIFTIES, WEARS A DARK FLORAL DRESS AND SMALL BLACK APRON. SHE PICKS UP A FOLDED NEWSPAPER FROM THE TABLE AND FANS HERSELF WITH IT AS SHE WALKS OVER TO THE BALUSTRADE AND LOOKS DOWN INTO THE GARDEN. IT IS EVIDENTLY VERY HOT. AFTER A MOMENT SHE RETURNS TO THE KITCHEN JUST AS STEPHEN ENTERS UP THE STEPS FROM THE GARDEN.
STEPHEN IS IN HIS MIDDLE THIRTIES. HE WEARS LIGHT WEIGHT SLACKS, A SHORTSLEEVED OPEN- NECKED WHITE SHIRT AND CARRIES A BROAD BRIMMED PANAMA WHICH HE FLINGS DOWN ON ONE OF THE CHAIRS. HE WEARS SHOES (NOT SANDALS)
STEPHEN (CALLING OUT) Breakfast ready, Mrs. Collins?
COLLINS (APPEARING AT KITCHEN DOOR) Yes, Mr. Stephen. Do you want it now, or will you wait for Mrs. Deveron?
STEPHEN I'll have it now, thanks.
COLLINS You ought to wait for her . . her birthday and all.
STEPHEN (SEATING HIMSELF AT THE TABLE LEFT) I've got my work to do . . and there's no need for Joanna to get up till she feels like it. (NEVERTHELESS HE IS A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE)
COLLINS DISAPPEARS FOR A MOMENT THEN COMES OUT CARRYING A GLASS OF TOMATO JUICE WHICH SHE PLACES BESIDE STEPHEN
COLLINS You're behaving like a naughty child, Mr. Stephen. After all, she is a bride, in a manner of speaking.
STEPHEN We've been married nearly seven years, Colley.
COLLINS And been together about seven weeks. I know that’s not your fault, nor hers either. She didn’t bargain on getting stuck on the wrong side of the Germans. It was darn bad luck - and worse for her than you.
STEPHEN (SARCASTICALLY) Oh, I was safe and comfortable . .
COLLINS Don’t start all that again, Mr. Stephen. You were given a job to do and you did it. Stop whipping the cat because you couldn’t show what a hero you are . .
STEPHEN (LAUGHING RELUCTANTLY) All right, Colley. Give over. I am grown up, you know.
COLLINS Darn hard to remember at times, the way you go on. I know I’m an interfering old so-and-so . . but don’t expect too much, Mr. Stephen; give her time to get her bearings a bit. It must have been pretty bad for her, losing her father and all, and not knowing the truth about what was happening anywhere.
STEPHEN I know Joanna’s been through . . terrible things. I hoped the peace and safety here . .
COLLINS Too peaceful and safe, perhaps. And she's probably built up something in her head about this place . . and now she's here, it's all different. You’re six years older . . and so is she . . and things never do turn out the way you expect, anyway.
STEPHEN (GOING OVER TO THE VERANDAH RAIL AND LOOKING OUT AT THE VINEYARD) “Too peaceful and safe” . . you may be right, Colley.
COLLINS Had I better call Captain van Whosit?
STEPHEN (SHORTLY) No. Let him be.
COLLINS (PREPARING TO MOVE OFF) Jealous of him, Mr. Stephen?
STEPHEN (HARSHLY) Yes, I suppose I am . . but it's the conquering hero attitude I resent. He could go into Poland and get my wife and pull strings till he managed to fly her home to me . . Of course, I'm Jealous. I'm only human . .
COLLINS Well, as long as you know the score . .
STEPHEN O.K., Colley. I'll wait for my wife . .
MRS. COLLINS GOES OFF TO KITCHEN. STEPHEN TAKES AN APPLE FROM THE DISH AND STANDS AT THE BALUSTRADE EATING FOR A MOMENT. AFTER A COUPLE OF BITES HE FLINGS THE APPLE VIOLENTLY AWAY FROM HIM. THEN SITS DOWN AT THE TABLE AND UNFOLDS THE NEWSPAPER.
JOANNA ENTERS. SHE WEARS SHORTS. SHIRT AND SANDALS. HER HAIR, WORN VERY SHORT, IS BRUSHED CLOSE TO HER HEAD.
STEPHEN RISES IMMEDIATELY AND PULLS OUT THE CHAIR OPPOSITE HIS OWN FOR HER.
STEPHEN Happy birthday, darling.
JOANNA (STOPPING SHORT OE THE CHAIR AND EVADING HIS KISS) It's no use, Stephen. I meant what I said last night. I can't stay here . . Come with me, if you want to . . but I must get away from this place . .
STEPHEN This is my home, Joanna. The vineyard is my work. How can I go?
JOANNA (PURSUING HER OWN TRAIN OF THOUGHT) I'll go mad if I have to stay here. The narrowness, the pointlessness, the unending dullness . .
STEPHEN (AFTER A LONG PAUSE) All the years we've been apart, I've been dreaming of you, here in the Old House. Darling, give the place a chance.
JOANNA I dreamed too, Stephen. The thought of you, of this place - or what I imagined this place would be - they were the only sane things in a world gone mad. It isn’t the Old House, it isn't you, that's wrong.
It's I. There's no place for me here.
STEPHEN And there's no place for me anywhere else. My roots are here . . have been here for over a hundred years, since my great-grandfather planted those vines . .
JOANNA (WITH SUDDEN PASSION) I know . . I know . . I hear it a dozen times a day. He brought them out from Spain, planted them with his own hands and nurtured them like babies . . And your great-grandmother, the great, the glorious, Joanna, the first Joanna . . (SHE STOPS ABRUPTLY, THEN SPEAKS IN A SMALL VOICE) Is that why you married me - because my name's Joanna?
STEPHEN That's what made me look at you. I heard Halley call out to you, and I had to look at any woman named Joanna. And it was you. And now we're here as they were, in this house . . Stephen and Joanna again.
JOANNA That's what I mean, Stephen. You've built up a romantic picture of me that's as little like me as I am like your great-grandmother.
STEPHEN I can just remember her. I was nearly five when she died . .a gaunt old lady with tired dark eyes . . very still, very quiet . . with love and reverence wrapped round her like a cloak.
JOANNA (DRYLY) No doubt you gave her a great build-up between you . . You still do, though she's been in her grave for thirty years . .
STEPHEN Yes, it's small-town stuff, I suppose. Happy, uneventful lives - birth, marriage and death . . they don't make history. But they do make roots.
JOANNA Your roots - yes. I can see that.
STEPHEN What is it you want?
JOANNA I wish I knew. I think I want to go back. All these years with death and dirt and disease around me . . everything shifting, nothing lasting, except danger . . And that other world - you knew it - where people lived in leisurely, ordered, haphazard freedom . . I want to recapture it . . security, stability . . I feel I might even find the Stephen I left behind on the station in Paris . .
STEPHEN Darling, darling Joanna . . But it's here you'll find me - here, in my own place. I'm trying to understand . .
JOANNA How can you . . when I don't even understand myself. Stephen let me go.
STEPHEN No .. no.
JOCELYN ENTERS, CALLING OUT AS SHE COMES UP THE STEPS. SHE IS ABOUT THE SAME AGE AS JOANNA. SHE WEARS A SIMPLE SUMMER FROCK, FLATHEELED WHITE SHOES AND A PLAIN SHADY HAT
JOCELYN Good morning, you two. Haven't you finished breakfast yet?
STEPHEN Good morning, Jocelyn.
JOCELYN (FEELING THE ATMOSPHERE) I just came to say “many happy returns,” Joanna.
JOANNA Thank you.
JOCELYN And to bring you a message from mother. She asks if you will excuse her this evening. She's feeling the heat terribly, poor lamb . .
JOANNA I can't imagine why she stays here when the heat upsets her so badly . .
JOCELYN Oh, we're all of us only half alive when we're away from Deveron. Mother sent you this (SHE PLACES A SMALL BOX ON THE TABLE NEAR JOANNA'S HAND) with her very best wishes. It's old, but she thought It would be right for you . .
JOANNA (SINCERELY) Your mother is very kind, Jocelyn. (SHE OPENS THE BOX) Oh!
STEPHEN (COMING ROUND TO LOOK OVER HER SHOULDER) That was Aunt Augusta's . . Jocelyn's grandmother's . .
JOANNA It's lovely, quite lovely. (UNCOMFORTABLY) But I can't take anything like this . . your mother must value it so . .
JOCELYN Mother thought you might feel like that. She said to tell you that, once upon a time, she was an ‘outsider’ too.
STEPHEN It's hard to remember Aunt Lottie hasn't always been a Deveron.
JOANNA How good of her. Tell her . . I am more than happy to have it then.
STEPHEN I must go down to the Home Farm. Vincent's waiting for me. Come down with me, Jocelyn.
JOCELYN All right. But we'll have to hurry back. The two old dears insist on bringing Joanna's birthday present over this morning. They're like a couple of children . . can't bear to wait until tonight.
STEPHEN (A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLY) I know what they’re giving you, Joanna . . It may seem valueless to you, but it's their greatest treasure. You will be . . kind to them.
JOANNA Was that . . instruction necessary, Stephen?
STEPHEN (GESTURING HELPLESSLY) You are so . . unpredictable, Joanna.
JOCELYN You haven't been very . . friendly to any of us.
JOANNA (PASSIONATELY) You hunt in packs.
THERE IS AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE INTO WHICH HALLEY WALKS BRISKLY, ENTERING FROM THE DOOR AT RIGHT.
HE IS IN HIS EARLY THIRTIES, WEARS SHIRT AND TROUSERS OF AMERICAN MILITARY SUMMER UNIFORM FOR OFFICERS.
HALLEY Have I kept everyone waiting? Sorry. Many happy returns, Joanna. Do you remember - we went to the circus in Paris twenty years ago today.
JOANNA (WITH A CATCH IN HER VOICE) Nineteen, Halley.
HALLEY Was it? You're an early visitor, Jocelyn.
AS SHE DOES NOT ANSWER, STEPHEN ANSWERS FOR HER.
STEPHEN Perhaps you're a late riser, Halley.
HALLEY Could be something in that too.
MRS. COLLINS ENTERS FROM KITCHEN WITH GLASS OF ORANGE JUICE WHICH SHE PLACES AT HALLEY'S SIDE
COLLINS I began to think no one was having breakfast this morning. The way you said “Oh God, breakfast” when I woke you . . You're not going yet, Mr. Stephen, are you? You haven't had a thing . Shall I do you a poached egg?
STEPHEN No, thanks, Colley. Vincent is waiting for some orders and I can't keep him any longer. Come along, Jocelyn, if you're coming.
HE PICKS UP HIS HAT AND AS HE TURNS TO GO MOVES BEHIND JOANNA, PLACING HIS HAND MOMENTARILY ON HER SHOULDER. SHE MOVES IMPATIENTLY AWAY.JOCELYN GOES OFF DOWN THE STEPS AND STEPHEN FOLLOWS HERE.
MRS. COLLINS BRINGS IN COFFEE AND A RACK OF TOAST, THEN GOES OFF.
HALLEY POURS COFFEE FOR JOANNA AND FOR HIMSELF AND GOES ON WITH HIS MEAL. AFTER A DEFINITE SILENCE, HE SPEAKS
HALLEY I never know quite what to do when I walk into a 'situation' . . whether to endeavour to loosen the tension with inconsequent conversation or to be blunt and forthright and say straight out, what's up?
JOANNA (RELAXING A LITTLE) You're a fool, Halley. Oh, I know I'm being difficult. .
HALLEY You're not being fair to him, my sweet.
JOANNA I might have known you'd side with him; men always hang together!
HALLEY I don't want you to make a mess of things . .
JOANNA Don't preach at me, Halley. I can't stand it . . Maybe if Stephen and I were alone . . we could get sorted out. But this is like living in a goldfish bowl . . wherever I move, whatever I do, they are watching . . exerting a kind of pressure round me, till I could scream . .
HALLEY And my presence isn't helping. Well, I'm removing that tonight . . reluctantly, I admit.
JOANNA Oh I know you've only stayed because of Jocelyn . . but Stephen doesn't realise that.
HALLEY You could have told him.
JOANNA I can't . . reach him, Halley.
HALLEY What does he know? How much have you told him?
JOANNA He doesn't even imagine there's anything to tell. I'm here . . not as myself, but as part of the Deveron pattern . . It's this calm assumption that the Deverons mean something . . that the vineyard and all the rest of this count for something.
HALLEY I'm not certain that they don't. Only I can't think what.
JOANNA Oh, respectability, and honest toil . . terribly worthy no doubt, but God, so dull, so dull . . And it's Stephen himself. In France, he was sensitive, responsive . . somehow terribly worthwhile. (PAUSE) The years have altered him . . I suppose that was inevitable; but he's so settled, so impersonal, a kind of machine that goes on doing the same thing day after day, world without end. I can't even fight with him . . it's hopeless, like trying to cut a path in quicksand.
HALLEY Cut your losses then . . now, before there are complications . . children and so on. Why don't you?
JOANNA The biggest complications of all, Halley . . I'm in love with him . . still. I'm afraid of loving so much . . Oh, it's all so dreadfully tangled up. All the awful years I've been waiting, it seemed that once I got here, once I reached Stephen, everything would be right, at peace . . straightforward. But it isn't like that at all. Here, he isn't my husband - he's part of a solid mass, the Deveron family. And there's no place for me . .
HALLEY We're all stateless, Joanna . . there's no real place for any of us, the people of our world.
JOANNA It was a lovely world . . Cannes and Capri . Paris and Home . . I wish I could go back to it. I've lost my sense of direction . . my purpose.
HALLEY There was no purpose in that world, my dear. Anyway, it's gone now . . for better or worse. For better, I think.
JOANNA Wouldn't you go back, if you could?
HALLEY I don't think I would. My point of view has shifted.
JOANNA The war . . or Jocelyn?
HALLEY Mainly the war . . you can't see what we have seen, and remain the same. Jocelyn? I don't think she's noticed me yet . . and I have to go tonight. Can't wangle a single day more.
JOANNA I may come with you.
HALLEY You can't do that.
JOANNA (PASSIONATELY) I can . . I can.
HALLEY Joanna . . why don't you tell Stephen the whole truth? It will stand between you till you do.
JOANNA Perhaps I would, if it were only Stephen. But it would have to be the whole family. They're so closely knit, there would never be hidden places. And they wouldn't understand . . how could they? Everything but this (SHE GESTURES TOWARDS THE VINEYARD) is outside their experience and their comprehension.
HALLEY What did you expect here?
JOANNA Something young . . and bursting with vitality. This is all so smug. . so easy. .I could have done something hard . . helped to build or restore if it had been touched by the war. But it's all complete . .it’s been complete for generations. The whole place is finished off . . neatly. Conceived in respectability and born without pain.
HALLEY Maybe . . though I doubt it. But you're begging the question . . At the back of Stephen's mind always is the knowledge that he was here, safe, in a safe base job . .
JOANNA Oh, I know . . while I underwent unmentionable things at the hands of the Germans and then of the Russians. Every time they look at me, they're speculating . . even dear old Aunt Editha who dessay'd it was all very unpleasant. (SHE LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY) Can't you see, Halley . . they're insulated . . nothing's ever happened to them.
HALLEY You're making excuses . . aren't you? Aren't you?
JOANNA (AFTER A MOMENT, SULLENLY) Perhaps I am. (THEN WITH SUDDEN PASSION) Halley, why are you doing this to me?
HALLEY You're a very special person to me, Joanna . . you have been since that first day in Florence, when Mamma took you under her wing.
JOANNA What a little sketch I must have been. Poor Daddy, he tried so hard to be both father and mother to me. He was so sure he was right, keeping me with him, wandering round Italy and France, instead of going to the right school in England. He was right too - though a more conventional type of education might have helped to cope with this . .
HALLEY There's only one thing can help you now - the whole truth, simple, unvarnished and complete.
JOANNA No . . No!
HALLEY (HAMMERING) Why not? In God's name, why not?
JOANNA I'm afraid. Stephen might change . . and I couldn't hear that . .I can't risk it, Halley . . it would he better to go away . .
SHE STOPS ABRUPTLY AS MRS. COLLINS ENTERS FROM KITCHEN CARRYING A TRAY.
COLLINS I'll clear, if you've finished, Mrs. Deveron. (ACCUSINGLY) You've eaten nothing . .
JOANNA It's too hot to eat. Yes, clear it away, please.
COLLINS The old ladies will he here in two shakes of a dead lamb's tail. I seen Jackson bring the car round. I can always keep an eye on what's going on up the hill at the New House . . real good view through the kitchen window.
SHE IS CLEARING THE TABLE WHILE SHE TALKS, PILING THE DISHES ON THE TRAY. SHE REMOVES THE CLOTH AND FOLDS THE TABLE WHICH SHE MOVES OVER TO LEAN AGAINST THE BALUSTRADE
THE DIALOGUE GOES ON AS SHE WORKS
HALLEY There's something regal in the way the old ladies visit.
JOANNA They're ninety-two. I'll be regal if I ever touch that mark.
HALLEY You're really fond of them.
JOANNA They're the pick of the Deverons . . particularly Viola. Editha is too sure she knows what's best for everyone . . including me.
MRS. COLLINS PICKS UP HER TRAY AND GOES OFF AS SHE SPEAKS
COLLINS Here they are now.
WHILE HALLEY IS SPEAKING THE SOUND OF A CAR CAN BE HEARD. IT STOPS AND AS JOANNA FINISHES SPEAKING. THE TWO OLD LADIES BEGIN TO MOUNT THE STEPS VERY SLOWLY
HALLEY There's something feudal about this set-up, isn't there?
JOANNA They tell me it's quite common in Australia. The sheep and cattle stations miles from anywhere, so the people huddle together for comfort and protection. You could understand it in the pioneer days, but why Jocelyn and Aunt Lottie continue to live on the vineyard is something I haven't worked out yet. The two old ladies are different . . they've lived here all their lives . . (SHE GOES TO THE HEAD OF THE STEPS AND CALLS OUT TO THEM) Do be careful, Aunt Viola.
HALLEY SPRINGS UP AND GOES DOWN TO HELP, FIRST AUNT VIOLA AND THEN AUNT EDITHA.
THE TWO AUNTS ARE VERY MUCH ALIKE AND WEAR DRESSES OF THE SAME TYPE BUT IN DIFFERENT COLOURS. THE DRESSES HAVE HIGH BONED LACE COLLARS. THEIR HATS ARE WIDE AND VIOLA'S IS TRIMMED WITH FLOWERS, BUT EDITHA'S IS PLAN. WHEN THEY CAN BE SEEN, IT IS EVIDENT THAT VIOLA HAS SUFFERED AN INJURY THAT HAS DISTORTED ONE SIDE OF HER FACE. SHE IS OBVIOUSLY A LITTLE ECCENTRIC. HALLEY BRINGS CHAIRS FOR THEM AND PUTS THEM IN THEM
EDITHA (WHEN SHE IS SEATED AND HAS RECOVERED HER BREATH) Good morning, Joanna dear.
VIOLA Yes, good morning, Joanna dear.
JOANNA Good morning, Aunt Editha. (SHE KISSES HER) Good morning, Aunt Viola (SHE CROSSES AND KISSES HER)
VIOLA That nice young man's still here, Editha. What's his name?
HALLEY Halley van Druyten, Miss Deveron.
VIOLA Van Druyten, Editha. He sounds Dutch.
HALLEY American for the last three hundred years, Miss Deveron.
EDITHA He says he's American, Viola.
VIOLA Oh, dear, that's a pity. I don't hold with Americans.
EDITHA Hush, Viola, you mustn't he rude. He can hear you
VIOLA Can he? I hope he's not offended.
JOCELYN AND STEPHEN COME HURRIEDLY UP THE STEPS FROM THE GARDEN
HALLEY Not a bit, Miss Deveron. I don't hold much with Americans myself.
JOCELYN Good morning, darlings. (SHE GOES TO FIRST ONE THEN THE OTHER AND KISSES THEM)
STEPHEN We saw the car . . How's my favourite aunt? (HE KISSES EDITHA, THEN CROSSES TO VIOLA)
EDITHA You've been running in the sun, Stephen. Really, dear!
VIOLA You were in a hurry to see your aunties, weren't you, dear. (SHE SEEMS NEARER NORMAL WHEN SHE TALKS TO STEPHEN) He always ran to his aunties, even when he was a tiny boy.
STEPHEN Phew! It's hot. (HE FLINGS HIS HAT DOWN ON A CHAIR)
JOANNA You shouldn't have come out in all this heat, Aunt Editha.
EDITHA We wanted to give you your birthday gift, my dear, we couldn't wait until tonight . . You won't deny two old women their pleasure.
JOANNA You're very sweet to me.
EDITHA You're Stephen's wife . . we've been waiting for you to come home.
VIOLA (FOR NO APPARENT REASON) The sun, the glorious sun! I love to feel it on my back, wrapping me round like a blanket.
JOANNA It's too much like a blanket for me.
EDITHA You'll get used to it. One does, you know.
JOANNA I doubt if I want to.
EDITHA You may as well, first as last. It will be hot now for two or three months.
JOANNA Months! Of this! I won't be able to stand months of it.
EDITHA You couldn't go away at present, with the vintage coming on. You'll be needed here.
JOANNA I must make up my own mind as to whether I go or stay.
EDITHA I don't want to interfere, my dear . . but I wouldn't like to see Stephen's wife fail in her duty . . But therej I shouldn't lecture you on your birthday, should I? Jocelyn, call Jackson, please dear.
JOCELYN (GOES TO BALUSTRADE AND CALLS OUT) Jackson, bring in the body.
JACKSON (BELOW IN THE GARDEN) Coming, Miss.
THE TWO OLD LADIES SIT VERY STRAIGHT IN THEIR CHAIRS. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT CEREMONY-TO JOCELYN TOO. ONLY HALLEY LOOKS FAINTLY QUIZZICAL.
JACKSON COMES UP THE STEPS. HE IS IN CHAUFFEURS' TROUSERS AND LEGGINSS BUT WEARS NO COAT OVER HIS OPEN-NECKED SHIRT. HE BALANCES ON HIS HEAD THE FIRST JOANNA'S CHAIR.
IT IS A LOW-SEATED GEORGIAN CHAIR OF GOOD LINES BUT UPHOLSTERED IN DEPRESSING HAND-WORKED TAPESTRY, THE COLOURS OF WHICH HAVE LONG SINCE FADED.
JACKSON PLACES THE CHAIR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VERANDAH.
JACKSON (BREAKING A PREGNANT SILENCE) Here you are Miss Deveron.
EDITHA Thank you, Jackson.
VIOLA Yes, thank you, Jackson.
JACKSON SKETCHES A SALUTE TO JOCELYN THEN GOES OFF DOWN THE STEPS
EDITHA I'm afraid it may be a little dusty - it hasn't been used for so long . . (REVERENTLY) Our dear mother's chair. No one else has ever sat on it.
VIOLA Mother slapped us if we climbed on it. It was the only time she ever slapped us.
EDITHA (GENTLY) Not quite the only time, Viola. We must be truthful.
VIOLA Yes, we must be truthful. But she did slap us, Editha. At least (PROUDLY) she slapped me.
EDITHA There was always a reason. Mother was nothing if not just.
VIOLA Yes, always just. But she liked Philip best, Editha.
EDITHA (EXPLANATORILY TO JOANNA) Philip was the only brother who lived. He was Stephen's grandfather - not at all like our father.
HALLEY One hears so much about your mother, it's almost possible to forget you had a father.
VIOLA We had a father. Indeed, we had a father.
EDITHA Mr. van Druyten is joking, Viola.
VIOLA Are you? Then I suppose I should laugh. (SHE DOES SO)
EDITHA Viola and I have talked over what I was to say to you, Joanna, and I haven't said any of it yet.
VIOLA Say it, Editha - just the way you said it yesterday. (CONFIDENTIALLY) It's a beautiful speech.
EDITHA (CEREMONIOUSLY) It is our very great pleasure, Joanna, on this your first birthday here as Stephen's wife, to give you our most treasured possession. We felt that, now there is another
EDITHA contd. Joanna here in the Old House, it is only fitting that the chair should he here too. Oh, Viola, I've forgotten what came next (THEN WITH THE SUDDEN INCONSEQUENCE OF THE OLD) ‘Joanna's Chair. Father always called it that and we have too, although of course, we would never have thought of calling Mother 'Joanna.' Now it will be the second Joanna's chair. Mother loved it - she really was a little jealous about it, wasn't she, Viola?
VIOLA Yes, a little bit jealous, Editha.
EDITHA I hope it will be a good friend to you, Joanna.
JOANNA (OBVIOUSLY NONPLUSSED) Thank you very much indeed. It is charming and generous of you to give me something you value so much.
VIOLA (INTERRUPTING HER, GETTING UP AND GOING OVER TO THE CHAIR WHICH SHE TOUCHES WITH LOVING FINGERS) It is such a pretty chair . . I would like it to have been mine. See that tapestry . . Mother worked it herself. It was very beautiful when it was new. Those flowers along the top - Mother worked them with the hair of the little brother and sisters who died. One of them had red hair - see, the colour is still bright.
HALLEY (COMING TO THE RESCUE OF JOANNA WHO IS ON THE POINT OF HYSTERIA) There were more of you, then?
EDITHA Oh, yes, quite a lot of us. There was Augusta first. She married Ernest Cuming and they were Jocelyn's grandparents, of course. Then there was Philip, and then George - but he died of teething. There was Martha after him and then Viola and me - although I'm really an hour older than Viola. The last of us all was Michael. He and Martha died of the whooping cough. Michael was such a lovely little boy. We can remember him, can't we, Viola?
VIOLA Yes, a lovely little boy. We can remember him.
EDITHA There were two other babies, both girls they were older than Augusta, but neither lived more than a few hours. Their graves are all there, beside Father and Mother in the graveyard over the hill.
JOANNA Nine of you - and only four lived. Oh, poor Joanna!
EDITHA (GENTLY) Oh, you must not pity her. She was ninety-five when she died . . and she was a happy woman.
JOANNA I wonder.
STEPHEN You must show Joanna where the chair used to stand, Aunt Editha. She will want it to stand in exactly the same place, won't you, Joanna?
JOANNA (DRYLY) It would be a pity to alter anything. I'm sorry I won't be supplying the nine children.
VIOLA (COYLY) One shouldn't mention children, Joanna - not with gentlemen present.
HALLEY I believe you still think it's the stork, Miss Viola.
VIOLA He's funny, Editha. I like him.
EDITHA Don't forget he's American, Viola.
VIOLA (STUBBOBNLY) Yes, I know. But I still like him.
JOANNA (TRYING RATHER BELATEDLY TO BE ADEQUATE) Thank you very much indeed for my birthday gift . . I do appreciate it tremendously. Now, wouldn't you like a cool drink . . Mrs. Collins will have some orange juice on the ice, I know.
EDITHA (STANDING UP) No, thank you, my dear. We'll go
home now. We tire very easily, you know . . and we do want to enjoy your birthday dinner tonight.
VIOLA (GETTING UP OBEDIENTLY) Oh, yes, your Birthday dinner tonight. We’ve got new dresses for it.
JOANNA (SINCERELY) You're very sweet to me . . and you're making much too much fuss of me.
EDITHA You're Stephen's wife. Put on your hat before you come down to the car, Stephen. (STEPHEN PICKS UP HIS HAT)
JOANNA TAKES VIOLA'S ARM AND STARTS DOWN THE STEPS WITH HER
Joanna dear, don't go into the sun without a hat.
JOANNA (CALLING BACK UP THE STEPS) It won't hurt me for a moment . .
EDITHA (FORMALLY TO HALLEY) Goodbye, Mr. van Druyten. We shall see you at the dinner this evening.
HALLEY Nothing would keep me away from it. Goodbye, Miss Editha.
STEPHEN HELPS EDITHA DOWN THE STEPS AND OUT OF SIGHT HALLEY TAKES OUT CIGARETTES AND HANDS ONE TO JOCELYN, THEN LIGHTS HERS AND HIS OWN
HALLEY (ABRUPTLY) I'm going tonight, Jocelyn.
JOCELYN Is Joanna going with you?
HALLEY (STARTLED) Not if I can help it. What put that into your head?
JOCELYN Why have you been hanging round then?
HALLEY My Mamma is a spoiled and determined old lady. She pulled strings right and left till she had me sent in to Poland to bring out some of our own people who'd been caught there for the duration, and made sure I brought Joanna as well. Then she ordered me to bring Joanna over to Stephen and to see she was O.K. before I left. She’s always adored Joanna . . She'd have been happy if we’d married, but once Stephen appeared on the scene, I didn’t have a chance, even if I'd wanted it . .
JOCELYN And didn't you?
HALLEY (RUBBING HIS HAND OVER HIS HEAD) I might have drifted into it . . it's hard to say now. But I wasn't broken-hearted when she married Stephen . .
JOCELYN I'm worried about them, Halley. They're heading straight for trouble and anything I do will only
make things worse.
HALLEY How about doing nothing then? You could, if you had sufficient self-control.
JOCELYN Oh, that's nasty.
HALLEY It isn't meant that way. You probably don't realise how overwhelming you Deverons are . One by one, you're sweet , but the whole family mass is like a weight, an intolerable weight, if one had it the whole time . . as Joanna will.
JOCELYN She's tough . . she'll fight back.
HALLEY For the last six years, she’s been living dangerously - dependent on her wits the whole time. There's a cracking point.
JOCELYN (FIERCELY) Living dangerously . . while Stephen sat with his feet under a desk two thousand miles behind the lines . . I know that's the real trouble. All the war years, he lived in a kind of half-world of misery, not knowing if she were alive or dead. He forced himself to have faith . . to believe that once the war was over, he would have her here .
Now that she is here, he’s too much conscious of what she had been through . . he can't relax the tension.
HALLEY You know . . I think he might, if he didn't have a circle of adoring relatives round him. A goldfish bowl, Joanna called it, and she wasn't far wrong . .
JOCELYN (DEFENSIVELY) We only want . . to help.
HALLEY Leave Stephen to fight his own battles then. He will . . and believe me, Joanna's worth fighting for. I've known her since she was eight, and she's quite a person. Give her time..
AS HE SPEAKS HE WANDERS OVER TOWARDS JOANNA'S CHAIR AND GOES TO SIT IN IT. IMMEDIATELY, JOCELYN MOVES TO STOP HIM.
LAUGHING) Oh, I forgot the legend - 'Joanna's chair.'
JOCELYN (SHRUGGING HER SHOULDERS) I suppose it all does seem rather pretentious to you. All the same, I do feel our way of life is saner, solider, than just wandering round the Continent amusing yourself . . But what's the use. Our words have different meanings.
HALLEY You're so damnably sure of yourselves, you Deverons. Doesn't it ever frighten you? I'm beginning to feel like Joanna does . . That I'd like to shake the whole darn outfit till it rattled. It would do you good. (HE CALMS DOWN SUDDENLY AND LAUGHS AT HIS OWN INTENSITY) It would do me good, anyway.
JOANNA COMES UP THE STEPS SLOWLY PUSHING HER HAIR BACK FROM HER FOREHEAD WITH A WEARY GESTURE
JOANNA Are you two arguing? Jocelyn, your aunts think you had better go home in the car with them to save you the walk in the sun.
JOCELYN I intended to walk across to the cellars with Stephen.
HALLEY Perfidious woman! You were going to draw off some of the '39 Burgundy for me to taste.
JOCELYN So I was. I’d forgotten.
HALLEY You go with your aunts . . I'll meet you over at the cellars in twenty minutes.
JOCELYN I could wait for you.
HALLEY Don’t keep the old ladies waiting.
JOCELYN SHRUGS HER SHOULDERS AND GRIMACES AT HIM BUT GOES, PAUSING AT THE HEAD OP THE STEPS TO SPEAK
JOCELYN The solicitor man is coming to lunch; we’re all expected at the New House, Joanna.
JOANNA Yes, I know.
JOCELYN See you later then. (SHE GOES OFF DOWN STEPS)
JOANNA WALKS OVER AND STANDS LOOKING DOWN AT THE CHAIR THEN TURNS TO HALLEY WITH A SUDDEN GESTURE OF EXASPERATION
JOANNA You see, Halley. (SHE TOUCHES THE BACK OF THE CHAIR WHERE VIOLA TOUCHED IT) The hair of the little ones who died . . oh, god! And this is going to be my life, year after year after year, world without end.
HALLEY Steady on, my sweet.
JOANNA I'm finished, Halley - utterly finished. You saw the way they stuck round, Stephen and Jocelyn, watching, watching everything I do and say. Why should I guard every word . . or do you think they know there is a reason why I must guard every word? What would it matter what I said to the two old grotesques . . they're so wrapped up in their own world, nothing could touch them. But that's why they were here, Stephen and Jocelyn - to cover up my gaucheries.
HALLEY (UNEASILY) I know it all seems pompous and absurd to us, Joanna . . but don't blame them for the things on your own conscience.
JOANNA You too, Halley . . you too. Now I am alone.
THERE IS A PAUSE DURING WHICH JOANNA STANDS LOOKING AT THE CHAIR
This moth-eaten antique is to stand on the left- hand side of the fireplace. Everything I do, everything I say . . even where I put the furniture in my own home . . is to be dictated forever by a woman dead before I was born . .
AS SHE IS SPEAKING STEPHEN COMES UP THE STEPS
STEPHEN Halley, my aunts insist that you go over to the cellars by car. You've quite won their hearts!
HALLEY Well now, that's nice. I must say they've quite won mine. And I don't mind riding rather than walking, even for five hundred yards.
HE GOES OFF DOWN THE STEPS WHISTLING
STEPHEN STANDS FOR A MOMENT WATCHING JOANNA WHO REFUSES TO LOOK AT HIM
STEPHEN Oh, Joanna, what is the matter with you?
JOANNA With me! Why must it always be me? Never you or the rest of the Deverons.
STEPHEN Don't . . (HE STOPS ABRUPTLY) Why must I always be finding fault? I don't want to, darling. But I must look after my aunts too . . They've been making gentle excuses for you . . to me! If you could only have shown a little gratitude.
JOANNA (FIERCELY) What for? That old chair . . look at it. Filthy with age, full of dust and moths . . What have I to be grateful for?
STEPHEN (AFTER A LITTLE PAUSE, SPEAKING WITH DIFFICULTY) Joanna . . if you feel you must go . .I will try not to stop you. I want you to be happy . . in your own way. If you stay here, feeling as you do, it will do something horrible to us both . . The years apart have been too much . .
JOANNA (SHOCKED) You . . want me to go?
STEPHEN (WRYLY) You know I don't. It was . . stupid to dream, wasn't it?
JOANNA Oh, Stephen . . (HE STOPS HER WITH A GESTURE)
STEPHEN Don't let us talk any more . . no amount of talking can break down the barrier . .
JOANNA You feel . . the barrier?
STEPHEN (NOT ANSWERING HER QUESTION) Do you want to go with Halley tonight?
JOANNA (IN A SMALL CHOKED VOICE) If he'll take me.
STEPHEN All right . but . . don't say anything to my aunts, please. Leave me to tell them . . as best I can . .
WITHOUT LOOKING AT HER HE GOES OFF INTO THE HOUSE TO THE RIGHT. JOANNA STANDS TENSE IN A DESPAIR AND DEJECTION TOO DEEP FOR TEARS. HER MOOD HARDENS SUDDENLY AND SHE LOOKS WITH CONCENTRATED VENOM AT THE OLD CHAIR. SHE SEIZES ONE OF THE FOLDED STEAMER CHAIRS AND BEATS AT JOANNA'S CHAIR WITH IT. THE OLD CHAIR IS NOT HURT AND SHE FLINGS THE STEAMER CHAIR ASIDE. ONLY THEN DOES SHE STARTS TO WEEP WITH DEEP CONVULSIVE SOBS.
SHE SINKS DOWN BESIDE THE CHAIR AND IN A FRENZY OF WEEPING CLUTCHES AT THE TAPESTRY. SHE DIGS HER HANDS DOWN INTO THE BACK OF THE SEAT AND AFTER A MOMENT OR SO, HER FINGERS TOUCH SOMETHING DOWN BEHIND THE SEAT OF THE CHAIR. SHE RAISES HER HEAD AND DIGGING DOWN STILL DEEPER AFTER A MOMENT PULLS OUT FIRST ONE,THEN ANOTHER SMALL LEATHERBOUND DIARY. STILL SOBBING SHE OPENS ONE AND IS STANDING LOOKING AT IT WHEN MRS. COLLINS COMES OUT FROM THE KITCHEN. SHE CARRIES A CARPET SWEEPER AND DUSTERS.
COLLINS So they've given you the old lady's chair. Must of made up their minds you'd do. There isn't a thing they value more.
JOANNA When was it she died?
COLLINS Just after the first Anzac Day . . Why, you've found her diaries. The hunt we had for those when she died . . turned the whole place inside out.
COLLINS contd. We’d all seen her writing in them, right up until about the time Mr. Stephen was born. After that, they disappeared and we thought she'd burnt them or something. Where were they?
JOANNA In the chair. Tucked down behind the seat. (SHE IS TUNNING THE LEAVES AS SHE SPEAKS) Here’s the very last entry . . (EXCITEDLY) and it's about Stephen .
“Today they brought me my great-grandson. He is a straight sturdy child with a look about him of Stephen. They put him into my arms and his strong hand closed around my fingers and at last, I am content. I shall write no more in these diaries of mine, but will wait for the completeness of death. I still wonder if there be a heaven, if Stephen waits for me somewhere, but I cannot imagine anything more heavenly than this home of mine, with our quiet vines about it, nor anything more lovely than the moonlit hills dropping down to the Onkaparinga.”
COLLINS Always loved the hills, she did.
JOANNA She was a poet.
COLLINS There was another book . . an old one with a clasp that locked . . Well (TURNING TOWARDS THE DOOR OF THE HOUSE RIGHT) This won’t buy the baby a new dress. I'd better get on with my sweeping.
MRS. COLLINS GOES OFF INTO THE HOUSE. JOANNA LOOKS AT THE DIARIES FOR A MOMENT MORE, THEN GOES TO THE CHAIR AND GROPES DEEPER IN BEHIND THE SLAT OF THE CHAIR. SHE SLOWLY EDGES OUT A VERY OLD DIARY WITH A METAL CLASP. SHE TRIES TO OPEN IT BUT CANNOT, GOES INTO KITCHEN AND RETURNS WITH AN ICE PICK WITH WHICH SHE MANAGES TO BREAK THE CLASP. SHE SINKS DOWN ON THE CHAIR AND COMMENCES TO READ AT THE BEGINNING.
THE LIGHT FADES RATHER QUICKLY TILL
ONLY ONE LIGHT SHINES BRIGHTLY ON JOANNA.
JOANNA (READING) “Today I was whipped. They shall not do that to me again. I will kill myself rather . .
THE WORDS “I will kill myself rather” ARE REPEATED SOFTLY AT FIRST AND THEN TWICE MORE, MORE LOUDLY EACH TIME IN THE VOICE OF THE FIRST JOANNA.
THE WALL OF THE HOUSE TO THE RIGHT TURNS REVEALING THE SCENE IN THE GOVERNOR'S DRAWING ROOM . . THE BEAM OF LIGHT ON THE SECOND JOANNA FADES OUT THOUGH SHE CAN BE SEEN SITTING READING DURING THE WHOLE OF THE NEXT SCENE.
THE INSET SCENE SHOULD REMAIN SHADOWY, LIKE A SCENE IN A DREAM
THE SCENE IN THE GOVERNOR'S DRAWINGROOM
IT IS THE YEAR 1837. THE SCENE THE DRAWINGROOM IN THE HOUSE OF THE GOVERNOR OF A WOMEN’S JAIL IN TASMANIA.
IN THE CENTRE BACK IS A FIREPLACE WITH BLAZING LOG FIRE. THE MANTELPIECE IS MARBLE WITH AN ORNATE OVER MANTEL. AN ORMULU CLOCK STANDS IN THE CENTRE AND LUSTRE ORNAMENTS AT EITHER END. TO THE RIGHT OF THE FIREPLACE IS A COTTAGE PIANO. IN THE BACK WALL, A LIGHTLY OPENED FRENCH WINDOW. IN THE WALL TO THE RIGHT WELL DOWNSTAGE, A DOOR.
LADY CAROLINE SITS TO THE LEFT OF THE FIRE” FROM THE HEAT OF WHICH A BEADED SCREEN ON A STAND SHADES HER FACE. IN FRONT OF HER IS A LOW COFFEE TABLE WITH HEAVY SILVER COFFEE SERVICE. SHE IS POURING COFFEE.
SIR BERTRAM TAVENER STANDS WITH HIS BACK TO THE FIRE - HE IS A SMALL ROUND MAN WITH A HEARTY RED FACE AND A LARGE LAUGH.
SEATED NEAR THE PIANO IS MISS BEATRICE TRYING HER WILES ON STEPHEN DEVERON WHO STANDS BESIDE HER CHAIR.
STEPHEN IS TALL AND WEARS A SERIOUS AIR.
HIS WHISKERS CURL YOUTHFULLY DOWN IN FRONT OF EACH EAR BUT HIS MOUTH IS SHAVEN. HE IS 22.
TALKING TO THE GOVERNOR IS CAPTAIN JULES SMITH, A GROSS MAN IN HIS LATE TWENTIES, DRESSED IN ENGLISH MILITARY UNIFORM. HIS EYES, EVEN WHILE HE IS TALKING TO THE GOVERNOR, RARELY LEAVE THE SERVING MAID, JOANNA.
JOANNA IS DRESSED IN BLUE AND WHITE GALATEA - UNIFORM OF THE WOMEN CONVICTS - OVER WHICH SHE WEARS A LARGE WHITE APRON WITH FRILLS OVER HER SHOULDERS. SHE HAS A PLAIN WHITE CAP OVER HER BRIGHT HAIR, WHICH IS DRAWN TO A KNOT AT TEE NAPE OF HER NECK. SHE IS TALL AND SLIM AND JUST SEVENTEEN.
DURING THE FIRST PART OF THE DIALOGUE, JOANNA STANDS A LITTLE TO THE BACK OF LADY CAROLINE AND CARRIES THE COFFEE AS IT IS POURED, FIRST TO BEATRICE, THEN TO STEPHEN WHOSE EYES ALSO FOLLOW HER AS SHE MOVES. LADY CAROLINE TAKES HER TIME OVER THE POURING, PAUSING TO TAKE HER PART IN THE CONVERSATION. THIS MUST BE TIMED SO THAT JOANNA NATURALLY TAKES SMITH'S COFFEE TO HIM AT THE RIGHT MOMENT.THE VOICES ARE HEARD BEFORE THE WORDS CAN BE DISTINGUISHED, TO GIVE THE EFFECT OF TUNING IN TO A CONVERSATION.
SMITH You think then, Sir Bertram, that the new settlement is doomed to failure.
TAVENER I reserve my judgment, Captain, I reserve my judgment. From what I know of Colonel Light, the work will be done with care - but without vision, without vision.
CAROLINE Sir Bertram comes from the same County as Colonel Light and if anyone can speak with knowledge of him, I venture to say Sir Bertram can.
STEPHEN (DIFFIDENTLY) With respect, Sir Bertram - my father has known the Colonel for many years. It was his confidence in Colonel Light that encouraged him to let me come out here to the new Colony.
BEATRICE I think you're so brave, Mr. Deveron - to come all this way to start your vineyard. But then, gentlemen are so venturesome, aren't they?
STEPHEN I didn't feel venturesome the day I left Plymouth, I can assure you, Miss Beatrice.
TAVENER You have made up your mind that that is what you will do, Mr, Deveron.
STEPHEN I have brought my vines with me, Sir Bertram, and equipped myself with all the knowledge I could gather. For the last two years I have lived in Spain where, in my opinion, they make the best wine in the world. The climate on the mainland here is, I understand, similar to that of Spain and Italy and I shall, of course, take the utmost care in selecting my land. Aspect and the nature of the soil greatly influence the quality of wine.
SMITH Couldn't stand such fiddling, faddling business myself, if you'll pardon the expression, Lady Caroline. Not that I haven't a palate for a good wine myself - none better; but it seems a queer way for a gentleman to spend his life - growing vines.
HE CROSSES AND SEATS HIMSELF IN A CHAIR TO THE EIGHT WELL DOWNSTAGE, SO THAT HIS BACK IS PRACTICALLY TO THE AUDIENCE
STEPHEN (SHORTLY) Every man to his taste, Captain Smith.
CAROLINE (BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY UNPLEASANTNESS) And in a few short hours you'll be started on the last stage of your adventure, Mr. Deveron. The “Emma” leaves on the tide tonight?
STEPHEN Yes, Lady Caroline. I have much enjoyed these few days ashore - I shall not soon forget your kindness to me. If I may do so, I shall take my leave as soon as the moon rises. It is a full tide at twelve tonight.
BEATRICE You'll find it very different on the mainland, won't he, Caroline? None of the comforts of life that we have here.
STEPHEN I do not expect comfort, Miss Beatrice.
JOANNA CARRIES SMITH'S COFFEE TO HIM. SHE STANDS ON HIS LEFT WITH HER BACK TO THE AUDIENCE. HE TAKES THE CUP FROM THE SALVER AND JOANNA STANDS HOLDING THE SALVER WITH SUGAR ON IT.
SMITH Two lumps.
JOANNA TAKES TONGS AND LIFTS ONE LUMP INTO HIS CUP. AS SHE TAKES THE SECOND LUMP, HIS HAND, UNSEEN BY THE OTHER PLAYERS BUT IN FULL VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE, SLIDES UP HER THIGH AND HE PINCHES HER BEHIND.
IMMEDIATELY WITH THE SALVER, JOANNA FLIPS HIS COFFEE, SO THAT IT STREAMS ALL OVER HIM. HE SPRINGS UP SPLUTTERING. THE COFFEE CUP AND SAUCER AND THE BOWL OF SUGAR FROM THE SALVER FALL TO THE FLOOR.
SMITH You clumsy wench! That is the second time . .
JOANNA Yes. It is the second time.
CAROLINE Joanna, how dare you! I apologise, Captain Smith - such carelessness will be punished.
SMITH (STILL SPLUTTERING) A good whipping is what she needs and a whipping is what she'll get . .
TAVENER I'm sure it was an accident. Joanna will apologise.
SMITH It is the second time it has happened. It was no accident - she did it on purpose.
TAVENER Did you, Joanna?
JOANNA (SCORNFULLY) It was not an accident.
BEATRICE (TO STEPHEN) The ungrateful hussy . . after all we have done for her. We have even let her sit with us at our sewing.
CAROLINE (OVERCOME) You dreadful, dreadful girl! That such a thing should happen in my drawing-room. I think I'm going to faint . . Beattie.
BEATRICE (SPRINGING UF) Smelling salts, Caroline. (SHE PRODUCES THEM FROM HER LITTLE BAG AND WAVES THEM UNDER CAROLINE'S NOSE) Don't let yourself become so agitated, Caroline. (TO SMITH) She's so sensitive.
TAVENER Why did you do it, Joanna? (JOANNA STANDS STUBBORNLY SILENT) I will have to punish you - you know that.
SMITH A good sound whipping is all these cattle understand.
JOANNA (PASSIONATELY) You'll not whip me again. I will kill myself rather . .
CAROLINE I cannot, indeed I cannot witness such disgusting scenes . . excuse me please. Come, Beatrice my dear, this is no place for you.
SHE SWEEPS OUT THE DOOR RIGHT. BEATRICE WITH A SAD LOON IN STEPHEN'S DIRECTION GATHERS UP LADY CAROLINE'S BAG AND FOLLOWS HER OFF.
TAVENER Now, now that the ladies have gone, perhaps we can get some sense out of you, Joanna. Why did you do it?
JOANNA Ask the soldier.
TAVENER Impudence won't help you, woman. Answer my question.
JOANNA STANDS SULLENLY GLOWERING AT HIM
STEPHEN (A TRIPLE DIFFIDENTLY) Perhaps Captain Smith will explain . . now that the ladies have gone.
SMITH I explain? What do you mean, sir?
TAVENER I'm afraid there is no explanation, Mr, Deveron, but Joanna's evil temper - we know it well, unfortunately. After all Lady Caroline's kindness to you, Joanna . . Go and get your dustpan and clear up this mess. In the morning, you will he whipped.
JOANNA GOES OFF RIGHT, STILL DEFIANT
STEPHEN I still think perhaps Captain Smith could explain - I cannot think the girl was deliberately clumsy, I have found her particularly pleasant and obliging while I have been here.
TAVENER (WITHOUT WAITING FOR SMITH'S REACTION) I fear you waste your sympathy, Mr. Deveron. We are used to Joanna's sudden fits of passion and sullenness. A pity! My wife and sister have taken quite a fancy to her.
SMITH One can do nothing with the scum.
STEPHEN They are still men and women, Captain . .
SMITH Convicted felons, Mr. Deveron. Your sympathy betrays your youth. I'll warrant this maid is no better than the others.
Act 1-34 .
TAVENER She's turned seventeen - been here nearly four years.
STEPHEN (HORRIFIED) And for what crime did our Government transport a child of thirteen?
TAVENER Just about as bad as it could be. Attempted murder - she tried to shoot her benefactor, a relative who had given her home and refuge when her parents died. No, Mr Deveron, I'm afraid you waste both your interest and your sympathy. Joanna Millay's punishment is well deserved, hard as it is.
SMITH (LAUGHING) Too good-looking to be a murderess, eh, Mr. Deveron?
STEPHEN But - thirteen!
TAVENER You'll learn as you get older, Mr. Deveron. Captain, I fear your coat is most uncomfortably wet . .
SMITH Damned uncomfortable . .
TAVENER I'll get you a coat to wear while my man removes that stain. Will you come with me - if Mr. Deveron will excuse us. Have a cigar to comfort you for a few minutes, Mr. Deveron. But don't smoke in here if you value her ladyship's good opinion of you.
STEPHEN (TAKING CIGAR SIR BERTRAM OFFERS HIM) I'll smoke in the garden. I wouldn't care to risk Lady Caroline's displeasure.
TAVENER We shall not leave you alone for long. After you, Captain Smith.
HE OPENS THE DOOR RIGHT AND HE AND SMITH GO OUT. STEPHEN EXAMINES THE CIGAR CAREFULLY AS THOUGH HE IS NOT SURE OF IT. THEN HE PUTS IT IN AN INSIDE POCKET AS HE GOES OUT THROUGH
Act 1-35 .
THE FRENCH WINDOW AT BACK.THE STAGE IS EMPTY FOR A MOMENT THEN JOANNA ENTERS AT RIGHT WITH DUSTPAN, BRUSH AND CLOTH. SHE GOES OVER AND, KNEELING DOWN, COMMENCES TO PICK UP THE PIECES OF CUP ETC.. SHE SOBS CONVULSIVELY EVERY NOW AND THEN STEPHEN COMES BACK TO THE WINDOW AND STANDS JUST AT THE EDGE OF THE LIGHT WHERE HE CAN BE SEEN WATCHING HER, UNNOTICED. AFTER A MOMENT, SHE SITS BACK ON HER HEELS AND THE THINGS FALL FROM HER HANDS. SHE GETS UP AND GOING OVER TO THE MANTELPIECE, RUNS HER HANDS LOVINGLY OVER THE CLOCK. AND THEN THE VASES. THEN SHE GOES TO THE PIANO AND HER HANDS TRAVEL OVER IT TOO
STEPHEN COMES SLIGHTLY FURTHER INTO THE LIGHT.
STEPHEN (SOFTLY) You like them?
JOANNA (SPEAKING AUTOMATICALLY AS THOUGH SHE HAS NOT REALLY REALISED ANYONE HAS SPOKEN TO HER) I love them.
STEPHEN Why are you touching them?
JOANNA I must say goodbye to them.
STEPHEN You meant it then - that you will kill yourself.
HE COMES RIGHT INTO THE ROOM AND JOANNA TURNS ABRUPTLY AND SEES HIM.
JOANNA (SIMPLY) I meant it. (THEN WITH SUDDEN PASSION) Yes, I meant it. I do not want to die - I do not want to, but they shall not whip me again.
STEPHEN (GENTLY) How will you do it? It is not easy to kill oneself.
Act 1-36 .
JOANNA The garden runs down to the sea. I will swim out and out and out. The sea at least is clean.
STEPHEN You are too lovely and too young to die, Joanna.
JOANNA They tell me I am seventeen.
STEPHEN They tell you - don’t you know?
JOANNA The first thing I remember is the snap of the wind in the rigging and the convict women singing as they worked. I do not remember what went before.
STEPHEN You do not remember why you were sent out here?
JOANNA I know what they have told me. But I remember nothing - nothing at all.
STEPHEN Why are you so stubborn? If you had told Sir Bertram, he would have believed you. Captain Smith touched you, didn’t he?
JOANNA (CONTEMPTUOUSLY) His hands are never still.
STEPHEN Then why didn’t you say so? Sir Bertram and Lady Caroline have been kind to you, haven’t they?
JOANNA Yes, I suppose so - kind, as one is kind to a clever animal. They cannot help it - but convicts are made of different dust.
STEPHEN You do not speak nor think as convicts do, Joanna. I wonder what kind of a home you came from -
JOANNA That I cannot tell. But I know there's a book in Greek in Sir Bertram's study, and I can read it.
Act 1-37 .
STEPHEN And there is no memory, no inkling of what went before?
JOANNA There is something hideous there - I can’t bear to think -
STEPHEN I wish there were something I could do to help you.
JOANNA There is nothing anyone can do. No one can set me free. This is what I was born for - they tell me that every day -
STEPHEN I shall speak again to Sir Bertram. But I’m afraid there won't be much opportunity. I am leaving Hobart on the tide tonight (HE HAS A SUDDEN THOUGHT) I am leaving Hobart - tonight. Joanna, how brave are you?
JOANNA (SIMPLY) Brave enough to swim out to sea until the sea takes me.
STEPHEN You can get out of these grounds by the sea?
JOANNA Round the point, yes. I would have gone before but for my clothes - I could not go a yard in them without being taken -
STEPHEN` (EAGERLY AND QUICKLY) You know my room - I shall drop some clothes from my window - a suit and a greatcoat. Tie them into a bundle on your head. Then leave your own clothes on the shore as though you had indeed swum out to sea. Swim round the point, put on the clothes, then watch for me and when I leave the house, follow me to the ship. If I am alone, come close, so that you follow me on board. I will take passage for you as my man. You will need to cut off your hair . . Can you do that?
JOANNA Yes - yes - I can do it.
Act 1-38 .
STEPHEN Away with you then, before they come back. I shall leave the house at ten o'clock. You must be round the point before then . .
JOANNA GOES DOWN ON HER KNEES AGAIN AND SWEEPS THE BROKEN CHINA INTO THE PAN WITH DESPERATE ENERGY. SHE STANDS UP AS STEPHEN FINISHES SPEAKING, SO THAT SHE LOOKS AT HIM DIRECTLY AS SHE SPEAKS
JOANNA And when I leave the house, you will follow me . .
STEPHEN (SPEAKING SOLEMNLY, AS THOUGH TAKING A VOW) I will follow you.
THEY STAND LOOKING AT EACH OTHER AS THE LIGHTS FADE COMPLETELY
(END OF SCENE IN GOVERNOR'S DRAWINGROOM)
THE STAGE REVOLVES RESTORING THE ORIGINAL SCENE.THE LIGHT IN A SINGLE BEAM PICKS UP THE FIGURE OF THE SECOND JOANNA STILL SITTING READING ON THE CHAIR. THE LIGHT GROWS STEADILY UNTIL IT IS THE SAME AS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE INTERPOLATED SCENEJOANNA TURNS THE PAGES AND READS ON ABSORBED UTTERLY
AFTER A MOMENT OR SO, MRS. COLLINS COMES OUT FROM THE HOUSE DOOR RIGHT PUSHING THE CARPET SWEEPER BEFORE HER AND CARRYING HER DUSTERS.
JOANNA That's the inside done. I'm always glad to get that much off my mind.
JOANNA GIVES NO INDICATION OF HAVING HEARD HER AND MRS COLLINS COMES OVER CLOSE TO HER BEFORE SHE SPEAKS AGAIN
Act 1-39 .
COLLINS You'd better come in out of that sun, Mrs. Deveron. You could easy get a touch of the sun, a day like today, and that's be a nice to-do, your birthday and all.
JOANNA (DREAMILY) Don't fuss, Colley. I'll come in in a minute . . Colley, you knew her well, didn't you? Although you must only have been young when she died.
COLLINS Not that young, I wasn't. She was eighty-six when I first went up to the New House. Parlourmaid, I was at first. There wasn't all the fuss there is nowadays about being in service and I was proud as a peacock when Miss Editha asked me if I'd go up to them.
JOANNA She wasn't living here, then?
COLLINS No. I can just remember when they built the New House up the hill. They all lived there for a while and the head winemaker had this house. He was a man of the name of . . tch, tch, I've forgotten his name. Shows I'm getting old, I suppose. Now what was his name? Doesn't matter, anyhow. Then when Mr. Phillip got married - Mr. Stephen's father that was, him and Mrs. Phillip lived here.
JOANNA And the old lady went on living there till she died?
COLLINS Yes. Twenty-seventh of April, 1915. Ninety-five her birthday just a few weeks before.
JOANNA Was she as . . wonderful as they say, Colley?
COLLINS Well . . we all thought she was. She never got old in her mind . . just quieter. She was a great one for a joke, pull your leg a treat . . Even up to the last, she liked to have the children playing round her. Mr. Phillip was her favourite . . I always thought she knew he was dead.
Act 1-40 .
JOANNA Killed in the First War, wasn’t he? Stephen told me.
COLLINS At the landing at Gallipoli. My two brothers had gone to the war too, enlisted at the same time as Mr. Phillip - they’d all been boys together, of course. I can remember the day she died as if it was yesterday. There’s some days like that, kind of photographed on your memory. All the papers were full of the Landing - it was on a Sunday and this was the Tuesday, and we were all carrying on full of pride and excitement. I tried to talk to her about what I’d been reading, while I was doing her room, you know, and she just looked at me . . (SHE SIGHS) Lying dead, they was, all three of them. Yes, it always seemed to me she knew . .
JOANNA She died in her sleep, didn’t she?
COLLINS She'd just seemed to be getting a bit further away from us every day, if you know what I mean . . and that day . . she went altogether.
JOANNA You still mourn her. She was lucky to have such loyalty . .
COLLINS Oh, I don't know . . She was a real lady, one of the old-fashioned sort I suppose, but she didn’t give herself any airs. You could talk to her - I reckon you could have told her anything and she wouldn't have been shocked . . Many’s the time she sat down in our kitchen and helped our Mum. Poor old Mum, she needed it too. There were thirteen of us and the old man no more good than a sore finger. If it hadn't a been for ten bob here and a sovereign there that Mrs. Deveron slipped her, we’d have had a poor time, I can tell you . . If it was only what she did for Mum, I’d never forget her.
JOANNA The squire's lady, eh?
COLLINS They were looked up to in these parts, I’ll say that. Of course, old Mr. Deveron'd been Member of Parliament
Act 1-41 .
COLLINS Contd for years and years before he died. Could have been Premier if he'd wanted to, so I've always heard said.
JOANNA I wonder why he didn't? It's just the sort of thing one would have expected his family to do.
COLLINS I wouldn't know about that. He died years before I was born, of course. But she wasn't one to push herself forward.
JOANNA I wouldn't have thought she was the shy and retiring kind.
COLLINS I can only go by what Mum used to say. There was no end of stories about the Deverons. Not nasty stories, people admired them too much for that.
JOANNA What kind of stories, then?
COLLINS Well, I know they built this house with their own hands and Mum used to say she was as good with a plough as any man. And she worked in the vineyard side by side with him in the early days. Brought up her children careful as well. Of course, they was both educated - and the books! You have a look at the little room next to the dining room next time you're up at the New House. Miss Jocelyn and Mr. Stephen laugh about the books - a hundred years behind the times, they say. But even in my time, people used to come to Mrs. Deveron - good as a doctor, she was. It's different now, of course, with telephones and motors - but in those days before the railway came, they might dust as well of been on a desert island, they was so cut off.
JOANNA It's not unlike a desert island now, Colley. It's a wonder they didn't go back to England - when they'd made their money, I mean.
COLLINS I believe he did go once. But she hardly'ld leave the house ever and he wouldn't go without her. Uncommon devoted, they were, so Mum used to say.
Act 1-42 .
JOANNA (THOUGHTFULLY) And she lived a long time after him, didn’t she?
COLLINS Thirty years - a judgment on her, some used to say.
JOANNA (SHARPLY) A judgment on her? This paragon of a woman?
COLLINS (DIFFIDENTLY) She never went to church. He used to go and all the family, regular, but she never.
JOANNA That must have made a lot of gossip.
COLLINS (CHUCKLING) I'll say it did. Whenever people ran out of something to mag about, they’d start guessing about that. Every new minister that come here used to have ago at her, but no one could budge her . .
JOANNA It's odd, isn’t it? It doesn't fit into the picture. I wonder why it was . .
COLLINS No one ever had the nerve to ask her, I should say. Perhaps (SHE LOOKS MEANINGLY AT THE DIARY IN JOANNA'S HANDS) she wrote it down . .
JOANNA Perhaps . . (SHE REALISES SUDDENLY THAT SHE IS TALKING TO A SERVANT) I mustn't keep you here talking, Mrs. Collins.
COLLINS (FORMALLY) I was just going to say, Mrs., when we started talking, that I'll get back home now and give Jim his lunch. I'll pop back directly, and get things going for dinner in plenty of time . . (SHE GATHERS UP HER IMPLEMENTS AND PREPARED TO DEPART KITCHENWARDS)
JOANNA Very well . . Colley, thank you for telling me all that.
COLLINS Well, I suppose I'm the only one left that really
Act 1-43 .
COLLINS Contd remembers her, as you might say. The two old dears - they just remember the parts they want to and Mr. Stephen was so small when she died, and of course, Miss Jocelyn wasn't even born . . (AT KITCHEN DOOR) You won't forget you're going over to the New House for lunch.
JOANNA (VAGUELY) I won't forget.
EXIT MRS. COLLINS
JOANNA OPENS THE OLDEST DIARY AGAIN AND BEGINS TO READ. THE LIGHTS FADE TO A SINGLE BRIGHT SPOT ON HER AS THE WALL TO THE LEFT TURNS REVEALING . .
THE LIVINGROOM SCENE - 1849
THE ROOM IS SPARSELY FURNISHED, PLAIN TABLE, SEVERAL WINDSOR CHAIRS, DRESSER WITH CHINA, ETC. IN THE BACK WALL, A WINDOW AND A DOOR WHICH IN THE NEXT LIVINGROOM SCENE ARE REPLACED BY TWO FRENCH WINDOWS. IT IS EARLY EVENING OF A DAY IN LATE SPRING THROUGH THE WINDOW CAN BE SEEN THE HILL WITH THE YOUNG VINES.
STEPHEN KNEELS IN FRONT OF A SMALL TRUNK FROM WHICH HE HARDS ARTICLES TO JOANNA WHO STANDS NEARBY. HER CLOTHES ARE PLAIN, BUT STEPHEN'S FASHIONABLE AND MORE EXPENSIVE. HIS GREATCOAT AND HAT ARE THROWN ACROSS A CHAIR, HIS GLOVES LIE ON THE TABLE.
STEPEHN There. (HE HANDS HER A SMALL PILE OF LINEN) I think that really is all the linen.
JOANNA It's beautiful. I'm so glad you did bring it with you (SHE FINGERS IT) Look at the quality, and this lovely hem stitching. Did your mother do it herself?
STEPEHN I suppose she did. She always had something in her hands. (HE GETS UP)
JOANNA Was it very sad, Stephen?
Act 1-44 .
STEPHEN To go into the house and Mamma not there? Yes. But strangely, not at first. It was only after I’d been there for a day or so that I found myself listening for her step.
JOANNA Your father must have been very lonely.
STEPHEN Yes, he was. He was quite lost without her. Yet I can’t remember feeling that they were particularly attached . . but then, I suppose a boy doesn’t think of his parents as two people . .
JOANNA (SIMPLY) It must be a very wonderful thing to have a mother.
SHE GOES OFF CARRYING THE LINEN. STEPHEN TAKES OUT OF THE TRUNK A DRESSED DOLL AND A BOX OF TOY SOLDIERS AND PLACES THEM ON THE TABLE. THEN HE TAKES OUT A SMALL PILE OF MANUSCRIPT AT WHICH HE LOOKS IN TENTATIVE FASHION. THEN PLACES IT RESOLUTELY BESIDE THE TOYS. HE CLOSES THE LID OF THE TRUNK. JOANNA RETURNS WITHOUT THE LINEN.
JOANNA Is that everything? (SHE LOOKS ACROSS AT THE TRUNK)
STEPHEN Except for some toys for the children. I somehow didn’t expect to get home after they had gone to bed.
JOANNA Shall I wake them? I have kept telling Philip about you, so that he won’t feel you are a stranger. He’s a really little boy now . . I didn’t want to cut his curls off, but they didn’t suit his manly little his body at all. Augusta is quite sick with excitement. Shall I wake them?
STEPHEN No . . I want you to myself for a while. Come sit down and let me look at you.
SHE SEATS HERSELF DOWNSTAGE ON ONE SIDE OF THE FIREPLACE. HE DRAWS A CHAIR UP AND SITS DOWN OPPOSITE HER.
Act 1-45 .
STEPHEN You will be sitting soon on a very grand chair. It is coming up on the wagon with the furniture my father specially asked me to keep - old stuff that had been his father's. But the chair was Mamma's and she was very fond of it. I thought you would like to have it.
JOANNA A very grand chair, of my own. Oh, yes. What else is there?
STEPHEN A table and a set of dining chairs and a sofa. A carved mahogany bed, some chests of drawers - cedar, most of them. Oh, and a chiffoniere, and a big book case and my father's books that were in it. And his desk. And what you'll like best of all - Mamma's cottage piano.
JOANNA How grand we'll be. I shall teach Augusta to play the piano - she will like that. Stephen - what was England like?
STEPHEN England! (HER QUESTION HAS STARTLED HIM, BUT AFTER A MOMENT HE ANSWERS QUIETLY AND NATURALLY) Very green, and leafy . .
JOANNA More like . . Hobart?
STEPHEN Yes, very like in some ways. The chestnuts were like spires of gold when I left and the hedges thick with hawthorn berries. The crops were all harvested and they were beginning to plough in the stubble . .
JOANNA (QUICKLY) You were sorry to leave.
STEPHEN No. You were here and the children, my home and my vineyard. . . No, I was sad in a way . . But my heart was here, Joanna. It was cold - I found I had lost the habit of feeling cold. The snow as bad in January and February.
JOANNA Snow! I should like to take it in my hands.(A LITTLE PAUSE) And what else? Did your friends seem the same - as you'd remembered them?
Act 1-46 .
STEPHEN The years had altered them as they've altered me. But many of them had gone - the whole place seethed with excitement about Klondyke, no one could talk of anything else but gold, gold, gold. And, of course, the mills are taking the farm labourers. It is all different.
JOANNA It is getting dark; I'll light the lamp. (SHE TAKES A SPILL FROM THE MANTELSHELF, KINDLES IT AT THE FIRE AND LIGHTS A LAMP WHICH SHE BRINGS ACROSS TO THE TABLE. SHE STIRS THE FIRE BEFORE SHE COMES BACK AND RESUMES HER SEAT)
STEPHEN I didn't see much of other people, only my father - and his clerk when I was settling up his affairs after he died. (HE TAKES OUT A PIPE AND TOBACCO POUCH) There will be a little money when everything is completed, Joanna.
JOANNA Oh, Stephen, you're smoking.
STEPHEN Do you mind? You don't - object to the smell inside the house?
JOANNA Of course not. This is your own home and you do what you wish in it . . Stephen - you said money. (SHE THINKS IT OVER FOR A MOMENT) How much money?
STEPHEN About five thousand pounds, when everything is settled. My father had been ailing for so many years, his practice had fallen away.
JOANNA Five thousand pounds. That sounds a great deal to me. (AFTER A MOMENT, EAGERLY) Shall we be able to build more rooms? Could we have French windows here, and here . . and a wide verandah outside, with a balustrade, so that the children could play there and be safe . . and steps down to a wide terrace, and a flower garden below.
STEPHEN Yes, I should think so. Have you been planning this while I've been away?
Act 1-47 .
JOANNA Not really planning. I didn't think of your father leaving you money. But I did dream . . of what I should like the house to be . . (SIMPLY) There was no one to talk to . . nothing to do but work, and dream, while you were away.
THERE IS ANOTHER LITTLE PAUSE. STEPHEN WHO HAS FILLED AND LIT HIS PIPE PUFFS AT IT FOR A WHILE THEN QUITE SUDDENLY PUTS IT DOWN
STEPHEN We are talking like strangers. Have I been away too long?
JOANNA (WITH A LITTLE HELPLESS GESTURE OF HER HANDS)
I think I have been too much . . living for today. It was a long time, Stephen . . two years. (QUICKLY) I know it was none of your doing . . you could not leave your father when you knew the end was so close . . and all those long months at sea . . But the aching need of you was worse each day. I am too much bereft when you are not with me (SHE FLINGS HERSELF SUDDENLY ON HER KNEES BESIDE HIS CHAIR) Stephen, never leave me again . . never leave me . . I am afraid of each day when you are not with me . . never leave me again . .
STEPHEN I won't, Joanna . . never again, my dearest . .
JOANNA You promise?
STEPHEN I promise never to leave you again - until death do us part.
JOANNA Not even death . . I could not live knowing you had gone. . . Until death do us part . . that's in the sacrament of marriage, isn't it?
JOANNA SITS BACK ON THE FLOOR AT HIS FEET THINKING ABOUT IT. THERE IS A LONG PAUSE
Act 1-48 .
STEPHEN (GENTLY) Joanna, tell me about the boy.
JOANNA RISES AND MOVES AWAY BEFORE SHE ANSWERS
JOANNA Must I . . uncover that wound too?
STEPHEN It will help the wound's healing, my dear. Your letters left so much unsaid.
JOANNA There are things one cannot say on paper . . He was so small, Stephen . . a dark baby, different from Augusta and Philip, so solemn . . He reminded me of someone, I could not think whom . . like a tune you hear in your memory, but cannot sing. I wondered if perhaps it were my father . . I called him George, after your father . .
STEPHEN Yes. He was pleased when I told him.
JOANNA He seemed to need me, much more than the other children ever did . . He was not a strong child ever. His first teeth came early and gave him a lot of pain, poor little boy, and he never seemed really well after that - always feverish and ailing. The first convulsion was hideous . . terrifying. I didn’t know what it was . .
STEPHEN Did none of our neighbours know?
JOANNA One of the Bright’s children used to take convulsions; Mrs. Bright told me what she had done . . He was better for several weeks after that, and I began to sleep at night and breathe deeply again. Then . one night, he screamed suddenly . . before I could light the candle and cross to his cot, he was in convulsions again, his body quite rigid and his back arched . . his heart beat under my hand with great bounds. In a moment, he relaxed . . and was dead. It was so swift, and so terrible . . That was the sixth of May of last year . . and still I wake in the night and feel the brook of my elbow warm with the weight of his head . . (SHE HAS GONE A LONG MY AWAY)
Act 1-49 .
STEPHEN (VERY SOFTLY) There will be other babies, Joanna.
JOANNA Yes, I know. But none of them will be George.
STEPHEN I should not have left you . . I blame myself bitterly . . but you were so confident.
JOANNA (SWIFTLY) We decided all that before you went. Your father needed you.
STEPHEN Yes, I know. But you should not have had to go through that alone . .
JOANNA It wasn't being alone, though that was bad enough. It was the ignorance, the helplessness . . not to know what to do-that was the terrible part. I must find out, Stephen, I must . . I've thought and thought about it, talked to all the women in the settlement, but we’re all ignorant, all helpless. There must be books . .
STEPHEN Books, written for physicians - they’d be full of words we've never heard of . .
JOANNA Yes, but one can find out the meanings of words. There will be other women here in the Colony whose children die under their hands, because they don't know what to do . .. (BITTERLY) I even tried to pray . .In those few moments when I held his rigid body in my arms, I prayed for knowledge . . but praying isn't enough . . one must know.
STEPHEN I will get books. We can read them together and be ready to help our neighbours . . Don't grieve so much, my darling. It was God's will . .
JOANNA I wish I could believe that. A God to give a child life . . then take it away so hideously . . I wish I could believe that that was good . . Why can't I?
STEPHEN Your father was an atheist. Perhaps he taught you not to believe.
Act 1-50 .
JOANNA My father? (A PAUSE, THEN IN A SWIFT HUSH) Stephen, you have found out something about my father?
STEPHEN Why do you always say your father, never your mother?
JOANNA I have wondered about that. I think perhaps I never knew my mother.
STEPHEN You did. You were eight when she died. It may be you forget the things that hurt too much to remember.
JOANNA Sometimes a picture comes into my mind, so vivid it seems it must be real. But when I try to grasp the memory, it goes completely and I cannot even recall the picture.
STEPHEN (ABRUPTLY) Don’t you want to hear what I discovered?
JOANNA I . . don’t know. I think I am a little afraid of the truth.
STEPHEN I shall not tell you then.
JOANNA Am I a coward, Stephen? You think I should hear it?
STEPHEN PACES THE ROOM BEFORE HE REPLIES
STEPHEN It isn't easy, Joanna . . but, yes, I think you should hear it.
JOANNA (VERY STILL AND QUIET) Very well.
STEPHEN SEEMS RELUCTANT TO BEGIN. WHEN HE DOES SO, HE SPEAKS VERY ABRUPTLY.
Act 1-51 .
STEPHEN Your father was a Fellow of St. John’s College in Cambridge. He was a Greek scholar, quite famous in a modest way. Your home was in a village just outside the town. Your mother was very gay and light-hearted, always laughing. When she died, they told me, your father changed utterly . .
JOANNA Stephen . . how did you know . . where to go?
STEPHEN One of those elusive pictures of yours, my dear. They come more often than you think. You remember when the Coopers told us they had called their new place “Cam.” You said, “Well, then, you will have to have swans. There are always swans on the Cam.”
JOANNA (BEWILDERED) I . . don’t remember that. (THERE IS A LITTLE SILENCE, THEN SHE SAYS UNEASILY) There are many bridges, and meadows with buttercups . . and a red wall that falls sheer into the water . .
STEPHEN Yes. . yes. .
JOANNA That is all . . It is gone again now. Go on, Stephen.
STEPHEN Your father had always been a great talker. He loved to argue with his students, and sometimes they would talk and debate until dawn. But after your mother died, that was all changed. He scarcely spoke, and even on you, he would impose silence for hours at a time. He taught you himself - Greek and Latin and mathematics - things, they said, that would have been hard for a boy - and philosophy, and his own queer godlessness.
JOANNA People still remember him?
STEPHEN It is not so long ago - less than twenty years - and memories are long in small places where little happens.
JOANNA Why do you say “queer” godlessness?
Act 1-52 .
STEPHEN That was the word they used. The people who remember him are all old now. One of them - I think her husband had been the baker - and she still lives in a little cottage on the green. She said to me, “He was a good man for all he laughed and mocked us for church-going. But his tongue was cruel and anyone who was mean or two-faced got the rough edge of it.” I think she had liked him, but others had hated and feared him.
JOANNA I don’t think . . I can bear this, Stephen.
STEPHEN I will tell you the rest quickly then. About three and a half years after your mother died, your father died too. It was a hard winter; he got bronchitis and “not caring for life” as the old woman said, he took no care of himself, and died.
JOANNA “Not caring for life.”
STEPHEN You were taken into the home of an older cousin of his, a wealthy old man, a widower, and a power in the county. Early one morning, when you had been in his household only a few months, you shot him. He did not die - was not even badly injured.
JOANNA It is true then.
STEPHEN Yes, it is true. (THERE IS A LONG SILENCE)
JOANNA I have always told myself . . it could not possibly be true.
STEPHEN Yes; I too. (HE GOES OVER AND TOUCHES THE MS ON THE TABLE) But there is no possibility of mistake. See . here is a transcript of your trial. Two of the maids were raking the ashes in the kitchen. They heard the shot and rushed upstairs. They found you standing there, the smoking gun still in your hands . . (HARSHLY) So, there is no mistake. (HE GOES ON SPEAKING RAPIDLY, THE WORDS ALMOST FALLING OVER EACH OTHER) You would not speak, no one could make you say a word and no one knew why you had done it.
Act 1-53 .
(THE SPOT ON THE MODERN JOANNA HAVING FADED DURING THIS SCENE SHE SHOULD UNOBTRUSIVELY LEAVE THE STAGE BY THE DOOR TO HOUSE LEFT)
JOANNA Perhaps I . . could not speak.
STEPHEN Your cousin was a powerful man, one of the largest landowners round about . . and your father’s “godlessness” was remembered against you. You were sentenced to be transported..
JOANNA It will have to be faced . . now.
STEPHEN I have faced it already. The knowledge has been with me for a year.
JOANNA That was the barrier . . not the long parting . but . that. .
STEPHEN (VIOLENTLY) No . . no.
JOANNA Where do you stand in all this, Stephen? What did you feel when you knew . . the truth?
STEPHEN I must be honest . . there must be nothing hidden between us . . At first . for a long time I was sick with horror . . and then one of your letters came . . I read what you had written, so tender, so loving . .
JOANNA But you asked first about the child; that was the first thing you asked me. You were afraid.
STEPHEN No! You must believe me, Joanna . . No. You have been my wife for twelve years. I know you. In spite of this (HE STRIKES THE MS), nothing will make me believe that, in your heart, you are a murderer . .
JOANNA The truth . . is too much . . (WHISPERS) A murderer!
Act 1-54 .
STEPHEN Nothing is altered . . it is only the knowledge; the truth was always the sane. Hear me, Joanna . . nothing is altered . .
JOANNA (STANDING QUITE RIGID, DEAF TO HIS VOICE, WHISPERS) A murderer!
STEPHEN Whatever you have been, whatever you are . . you are mine . .
HE REALISES SHE DOES NOT HEAR HIM. WITHOUT MOVING HIS EYES FROM HER, HE CRIES IN A LOUD VOICE
Oh, God in heaven, put the right words into my mouth.
THERE IS A LONG SILENCE, THEN HE SPEAKS AGAIN SIMPLY AND SOFTLY
Joanna, Augusta is calling you . . Philip is crying . Philip is crying, Joanna.
JOANNA Philip is crying?
SHE CRUMPLES SUDDENLY AND HER BODY IS WRACKED WITH SOBS. STEPHEN WAITS UNTIL SHE BEGINS TO CONTROL HER SOBS BEFORE HE SPEAKS AGAIN
The children need you . . Take them the toys I brought for them . . (HE PICKS UP THE DOLL AND TOY SOLDIERS AND HOLDS THEM OUT TO HER)
JOANNA The toys . . (SHE DRAWS A LONG SHUDDERING BREATH)
No . . No . you must give them those yourself . . in the morning . .
STEPHEN Dry your tears, my darling . . My tears . . (SHE TAKES THE HANDKERCHIEF HE HOLDS OUT TO HER)
JOANNA Yes, I must wipe away my tears. I must not let my children see me weep . .
SHE REGAINS CONTROL OF HERSELF, AND WITH
Act 1-55 .
HER HEAD HELD HIGH, GOES OFF.
STEPHEN, AT THE END OF HIS SELF CONTROL, DROPS INTO A CHAIR AND COVERS HIS FACE WITH HIS HANDS AS THE CURTAIN FALLS
END OF ACT 1
+++++++++++++ ++++++++++++ +++++++++++ ++++++++++
Act 2-56 .
THE LIVINGROOM SCENE 1862
WHEN THE CURTAIN RISES, BOTH WALLS OF THE VERANDAH SCENE HAVE BEEN TURNED, SO THAT THE LIVINGROOM STRETCHES RIGHT ACROSS THE STAGE. THROUGH THE TWO FRENCH WINDOWS IN THE BACK WAIL CAN BE SEEN THE VERANDAH BALUSTRADE AND THE VIEW OF THE GARDEN, VINEYARD AND HILLS, EXACTLY AS IN THE FIRST ACT.
UPSTAGE LEFT IS A DOOR TO THE KITCHEN, BELOW WHICH IS A FIRE PLACE OF WHITENED STONE WITH IRON FIREDOGS AND POLISHED BRASS FIREIRONS. A FIRE IS BURNING. IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE, SLIGHTLY UPSTAGE, IS A WINGED ARMCHAIR UPHOLSTERED IN RED VELVET BELOW THE FIREPLACE WITH ITS BACK HALF-TURNED TO THE AUDIENCE IS A REPLICA OF JOANNA'S CHAIR. OF THE FIRST ACT, BUT THE TAPESTRY IS NEW AND BRIGHT, THE CHAIR WELL POLISHED.
DOWNSTAGE RIGHT IS A DOOR TO THE REST OF THE HOUSE. BETWEEN IT AND THE FRENCH WINDOW TO THE RIGHT IS A DININGTABLE COVERED WITH A RED VELVET CLOTH. THERE ARE DINING CHAIRS AND A CHIFFONIERS WITH DECANTERS ON IT. GOOD RUGS ARE ON THE FLOOR AND THE WHOLE ROOM HAS AN AIR OF COMFORT AND WELL-BEING.
RIGHT AT THE FRONT OF THE STAGE IN A CORNER, WITH ITS FACE TO THE AUDIENCE IS THE JOANNA'S CHAIR OF THE FIRST ACT. THE DIARIES, ONE OF THEM OPENED FACE DOWNWARDS, ARE ON THE SEAT. WHEN THE CURTAIN RISES, THE STAGE IS DARK EXCEPT FOR ONE BRIGHT SPOTLIGHT ON THE MODERN CHAIR. AS THAT LIGHT FADES, THE LIGHT ON THE REST OF THE STAGE GROWS.
THE TWINS, EDITHA AND VIOLA (AGED 10) ARE SEATED ON THE HEARTH-RUG IN FRONT OF THE FIRE. THEY ARE DRESSED EXACTLY ALIKE IN KATE GREENAWAY DRESSES AND HIGH-BUTTONED KID BOOTS. AUGUSTA WHO IS NEARLY 20 SITS DOWNSTAGE TO THE RIGHT. SHE IS WORKING A TAPESTRY WITH THE SERIOUSNESS BEFITTING A YOUNG LADY SEWING FOR HER FUTURE HOME.
AT THE TABLE IS PHILIP WHO IS 14. HE IS READING, STANDING ON ONE FOOT WITH THE OTHER KNEE ON A CHAIR.
THEY HOLD THE TABLEAU UNTIL THE LIGHT HAS COMPLETELY FADED FROM THE MODERN CHAIR.
AUGUSTA Light the lamps, Philip.
PHILIP In a moment . .
Act 2-57 .
AUGUSTA Why don't you do as you’re asked at once, for a change?
PHILIP You’re always asking something.
EDITHA I'll light them, Augusta.
AUGUSTA You’ll do nothing of the sort.
VIOLA We'll do it carefully, won't we, Editha?
AS SHE SPEAKS, JOANNA ENTERS BRISKLY. SHE HAS NOT CHANGED MUCH. HER HAIR IS STILL BRIGHT, THOUGH HER EXPRESSION IS MORE SET HER FACE IS SERENE. HER CLOTHES ARE OF GOOD QUALITY, FASHIONABLE AND SHE WEARS THEM WITH AN AIR.
JOANNA (PICKING UP WORKB0X AND SEATING HERSELF ON HER OWN CHAIR) What would you do carefully, my dear?
VIOLA )Light the lamps, Mother.
JOANNA Indeed you will not. Philip shall light the lamps. Stop reading now, Philip, the light is almost gone. And you had better close the windows and draw the curtains. There is a chill in the air.
PHILIP Do I have to light the lamps again, Mother. It always seems to be my turn.
JOANNA Gentlemen always do little acts of courtesy for their women-folk, Philip. Besides, it is not con
venient for me to do so at the moment; Augusta is busy with her sewing, and the twins are far too young. So I am afraid it is your turn, my son.
PHILIP You never ask Father to light lamps - and he is a gentleman. You do everything for him.
Act 2-58 .
JOANNA He is the head of the house, Philip.
AUGUSTA And a Member of Parliament, don't forget. Do you think the Conservatives will elect him leader, Mother
do you really think they will?
JOANNA How should I know child. But I do know they could not choose a better leader, nor a straighter finer gentleman than your father.
AUGUSTA I wonder if I'll say the same about Ernest when I've been married to him for twenty-five years.
JOANNA I hope you will - I think you will, Augusta. Ernest has the makings of a fine man. I am well content with your future husband, and I know your father is too.
EDITHA Mother, do you think Father will catch the bushranger?
JOANNA Do I think? Do I know? Have you children no other words in your vocabulary? Your father is not pursuing the bushranger himself, Editha - he is just helping to direct the operations by which they hope to catch the evil man.
EDITHA Is he an evil man, Mother?
JOANNA (THOUGHTFULLY) No, my dear, I'm not sure that he is. Rather call him unfortunate.
AUGUSTA Wasn't he a convict - and escaped?
JOANNA Yes. (MORE TO HERSELF) Perhaps not even unfortunate Even to be hunted is better than to be in prison.
VIOLA I think my father will catch the bushranger.
EDITHA I'm going to tell him about the soldiers passing this afternoon.
Act 2-59 .
VIOLA No, I am. I saw them first.
EDITHA But bags I tell him; I said it first. Can’t I tell him, Mother? (THEY GO ON BICKERING QUIETLY)
PHILIP The men were saying there is treachery among the soldiers, Mother. They say Sullivan would never have escaped last Thursday If someone hadn’t tipped him off.
JOANNA “Tipped him off” - warned him, please Philip. I cannot believe that any of the soldiers would be base enough to warn him.
AUGUSTA Still, it's most peculiar that he went off when he did - just in the very nick of time.
PHILIP “Nick of time.” Isn't that Just as bad as “tipped him off.” Mother, and you don’t correct Augusta.
JOANNA Augusta is grown up, Philip, and she may choose her own way of speaking. Anyway, I think “nick of time” would be found in the dictionary.
PHILIP I always have to be the one to say the wrong thing.
JOANNA I remember saying something about windows and lamps, Philip.
PHILIP SLOWLY AND RELUCTANTLY LEAVES HIS BOOK, DRAWS THE CURTAINS ACROSS THE CLOSED WINDOWS AND THE ROOM DARKENS FOR A MOMENT, LIT ONLY BY FIRELIGHT. THEN HE LIGHTS THE TWO LAMPS THAT STAND ON THE CHIFFONIERE. AUGUSTA SETS ONE ON THE TABLE AND LIFTS THE OTHER TO THE MANTELPIECE SO THAT ITS LIGHT FALLS ON JOANNA. SHE GOES OVER HERSELF AND SITS BESIDE THE TABLE.
JOANNA It's time for bed, my chickens.
Act 2-60 .
VIOLA Oh, but Mother, my father isn't home yet.
JOANNA He will come in and kiss you goodnight when he comes Go at once, children. I will come in a moment and tuck you in.
EDITHA Can't we come back here and say our prayers in the warm, Mother?
JOANNA You'll put it off until the last moment, won't you, Editha?
EDITHA What will I put off till the last moment, Mother?
JOANNA Doing what you're told. Now run along, immediately, the two of you. And Editha, undo Viola's dress for her, please. No more tantrums like we had last night -
EDITHA Yes, Mother.
VIOLA Come on quickly, Editha, and I'll tell you a lovely story as we get undressed.
AS SHE SPEAKS, THEY GO HAND IN HAND TOWARDS THE DOOR RIGHT.
JOANNA Say goodnight to your sister and brother.
VIOLA ) Goodnight, Augusta. Goodnight, Philip.
AUGUSTA Viola and her stories! Goodnight, chickabids.
JOANNA Philip, your sisters said goodnight to you.
PHILIP (ENGROSSED ONCE MORE IN HIS BOOK) Oh, goodnight.
Act 2-61 .
THE TWINS EXIT RIGHT
AUGUSTA Michael would have been five today.
JOANNA (CALMLY) I don’t think I want to talk about Michael, Augusta.
AUGUSTA I'm sorry, Mother - I didn't mean to be tactless.
PHILIP I wish I did have a brother. Then he could take on the vineyard and I could be a doctor.
JOANNA Since you have no brother, there is no more to be said about it. In three years' time your father will take you to Spain and Prance and Italy, and you will learn there, as he did himself, the secret of an old and honourable craft.
AUGUSTA And what is more, you'll have a wonderful time. It seems to me that sons have all the luck.
AS SHE SPEAKS, STEPHEN ENTERS LEFT. HE WEARS HIS GREAT COAT AND CARRIES HIS HAT. HE IS NOTICEABLY OLDER WITH GREYING HAIR AND AN AIR OF SERIOUSNESS - A SENSE OP RESPONSIBILITY.
STEPHEN I know some daughters who fare quite well.
AUGUSTA (GOING TO HIM AND HOLDING UP HER FACE TO BE KISSED) And some of them are quite grateful.
STEPHEN Ah, my dear.
HE CROSSES AND KISSES JOANNA TENDERLY. AUGUSTA TAKES HIS HAT AND COAT FROM HIM AND CARRIES THEM THROUGH DOOR RIGHT, RETURNING IN A MOMENT. SHE SITS DOWN AND TAKES UP HER SEWING AGAIN.
JOANNA You are tired, Stephen.
Act 2-62 .
STEPHEN No, not tired. A little troubled, perhaps.
JOANNA Your meetings were successful?
STEPHEN I have no complaints. You were elected leader? (STEPHEN NODS WITH PRIDE)
JOANNA Oh, my dear, I am so proud of you.
STEPHEN It means added responsibility, Joanna.
JOANNA You will not fail them.
PHILIP Does that mean that you will have to go to England, Father?
STEPHEN Not necessarily, my son.
AUGUSTA What fun! Now Mother will be able to queen it over all the ladies in the Colony.
STEPHEN She does that already, by nature.
JOANNA You must not flatter me, Stephen. I am already a very prideful woman.
PHILIP I bet prideful's not in the dictionary.
AUGUSTA You have had your supper, Father?
STEPHEN Yes, thank you, my dear. I dined at the Hotel while the horses were being changed. The publican told me the Regiment is camping down the River for the next few days.
JOANNA The twins saw the soldiers this afternoon - they are saving the news for you.
Act 2-63 .
STEPHEN I'll be most impressed. Their new commandant had lunched at the Hotel. He is a Major Smith.
JOANNA (HER HAND GOING TO HER THROAT) Smith. You said Smith?
STEPHEN There are many Smiths in the English Army, my dear.
JOANNA Yes . . yes . .of course.
STEPHEN In any case, he will have forgotten us.
JOANNA You think it is he?
STEPHEN The information I’ve been getting fits him. But we shall know tomorrow. I’ve sent a message for him to call and see me - I have instructions for him from the Committee.
PHILIP Is something the matter, Mother?
JOANNA I think you had better go to bed, Philip.
PHILIP Bed! It isn't even eight o'clock.
STEPHEN Your mother said bed, Philip.
PHILIP (GATHERING UP HIS BOOKS) Yes, Father.
JOANNA You may read till nine o’clock, Philip.
PHILIP Thank you, Mother. Goodnight. (HE COMES ACROSS AND HUGS HER BOYISHLY) Goodnight, Father.
HE GOES OFF RIGHT WITH THE BOOKS UNDER HIS ARM.
STEPHEN Goodnight, lad.
Act 2-64 .
JOANNA I promised the twins you would say goodnight to them, Stephen. It is time they were asleep.
STEPHEN I'll go at once. Heigh-ho . . (HE STRETCHES HIS ARMS WEARILY) an evening beside the fire will suit me well.
JOANNA Hurry then, dear. Augusta and I are waiting to hear your news.
STEPHEN GOES OFF RIGHT. AUGUSTA TAKES UP HER EMBROIDERY AGAIN, BUT JOANNA IS RESTLESS AND PREOCCUPIED. SHE PUTS HER SEWING INTO HER WORKBOX, THEN STANDS LOOKING DOWN AT THE FIRE, HER FOOT TAPPING THE BRASS FENDER RAIL. AS SHE STANDS THERE, HEAVY FOOTSTEPS ARE HEARD COMING ACROSS THE VERANDAH. THEN SOMEONE TAPS THE WINDOW WITH A RIDING CROP
AUGUSTA Who could it be at this time of night?
JOANNA (WHO HAS ALREADY GUESSED, TURNING TO FACE THE WINDOW) See who it is.
AUGUSTA It might be Sullivan.
JOANNA Nevertheless, open the window, Augusta.
AUGUSTA PULLS THE CURTAINS AND MAJOR SMITH IS SEEN OUTSIDE. SHE OPENS THE WINDOW.
SMITH I seem to have come to the window; couldn't find a door. It's - er - confoundedly dark tonight. Major Smith, at your service, Ma'am. Mr. Deveron sent word he wished to see me.
AUGUSTA LOOKS UNCERTAINLY TOWARDS HER MOTHER.
Act 2-65 .
JOANNA Please come in, Major Smith. I am Mrs. Deveron.
SMITH COMES INTO THE ROOM. HE HAS GROWN FROM A GROSS YOUNG MAN INTO A FLABBY MIDDLE-AGE, WITH BLOATED DISSIPATED FACE. HE IS ALMOST BALD AND HIS UNIFORM IS UNTIDY AND ILL-KEMPT.
SMITH Thank you, Ma'am. (HE BOWS TO HER AND LOOKS EXPECTANTLY AT AUGUSTA. IT IS EVIDENT HE DOES NOT RECOGNISE JOANNA)
JOANNA My daughter Augusta.
SMITH A pleasure, Miss Augusta.
JOANNA Be seated, Major Smith. My husband is saying good night to our younger daughters; he will not keep you waiting long.
SMITH (WHO IS OBVIOUSLY MORE THAN A LITTLE DRUNK, LAUGHING BOISTEROUSLY) He need not hurry on my account. It isn't often I get a chance to talk to ladies in this wilderness.
JOANNA It doesn't seem like a wilderness to us - not now. We have seen it grow from virgin bush.
SMITH I've been in Europe for five years. You'll admit, it is a contrast.
AUGUSTA You were in the Crimea, Major Smith?
SMITH Right through the campaign, Miss Augusta.
AUGUSTA I'd like to hear about it, first hand.
SMITH Tales of battles are not for pretty ears like yours, my dear young lady. There are things I could tell you I warrant you'd rather hear. What's that you're so busy with - or is it one of those fal-lals a man mustn't ask about?
Act 2-66 .
AUGUSTA (PRIMLY) It is for a chair seat. I am making a set of them for my own home.
SMITH (PONDEROUSLY FLIRTATIOUS) Ah, ha. You know, with a little encouragement, I’d cut him out.
AUGUSTA (WHO CAN’T RESIST IT) I doubt if you could.
SMITH I’d have a dammed good try.
JOANNA (INTERPOSING HASTILY) Will you take a glass of wine, Major Smith?
SMITH Thank you, ma'am.
JOANNA Augusta, the '58 Sweet White . . it's rather like Madeira, Major Smith.
AUGUSTA Yes, Mother.
GOES TO CHIFFONIERE, POURS WINE FROM DECANTER AND TAKES IT TO SMITH ON A SALVER.
JOANNA You are camping down the River, I understand.
SMITH About a mile downstream from the crossing place; there is a loop in the River there.
JOANNA Yes, a good spot. I know the place. There'll be plenty of feed for your horses and the current is not dangerous.
SMITH Yes, a very good spot. And sooner or later, Sullivan must come down that way from the hills. Your very good health, Mrs. Deveron. Miss Augusta, to your lovely eyes. (HE TOSSES OFF THE WINE AT A GULP)
JOANNA You are satisfied that Sullivan must come down that way, Major?
Act 2-67 .
SMITH His food will give out soon, and his last confederate went when Brady was killed last week. There are so few places where he can get provisions. Yes, I think we've got Mr. Sullivan this time.
JOANNA He still has plenty of gold - and gold can unlock many doors.
SMITH You have less gold here than your neighbours in Victoria. The bushranger trouble is acute there, acute.
JOANNA Gold seems to me a mixed blessing.
SMITH A firm hand at the top, that's what is needed. The miners give no trouble then. Gold is a great asset to any community.
JOANNA We shall not grow rich so quickly, perhaps - but I prefer a community that tills the earth to one that mines it.
SMITH You know, Mrs. Deveron, I can't help feeling I've met you somewhere before.
ENTER STEPHEN RIGHT
JOANNA Major Smith, Stephen.
SMITH At your service, Mr. Deveron. I was just telling your wife that I have a feeling I've met her before. What part of England do you come from, Mrs. Deveron?
JOANNA (HER HAND GOING UP TO HER THROAT) I have been in South Australia for over twenty years, Major Smith.
STEPHEN (INTERRUPTING HER) What part do you come from. Major?
Act 2-68 .
SMITH Oh, I'm a Geordie.
STEPHEN Yorkshire, eh? You've lost your accent entirely. My wife's family are from Cornwall.
SMITH From Cornwall. One would never guess it. Most Cornish I've met are dark.
JOANNA (A LITTLE HASTILY) Augusta, my dear, we will excuse you if you wish to finish your letters. The post goes out early in the morning.
AUGUSTA (SHOWING HER SURPRISE A LITTLE) Yes, Mother.
SHE THRUSTS HER EMBROIDERY INTO A WORK BASKET AND GOES OVER TO DOOR RIGHT
Goodnight, Major Smith
SMITH Eh, leaving us so soon? Goodnight, Miss Deveron. I hope I may have the pleasure of meeting you again before long. We'll be camped down the River for a week or so, I expect.
AUGUSTA Goodnight (SHE GOES OUT)
JOANNA My daughter is very busily engaged preparing for her marriage.
SMITH Who's the lucky dog to capture all that beauty?
STEPHEN AND JOANNA BOTH SHOW THEIR RESENTMENT OF HIS FAMILIARITY
JOANNA She is to marry Mr. Ernest Cuming.
SMITH (LAUGHING SLYLY) Cuming, eh! Trust you vignerons, annexing the largest vineyard in the Colony.
Act 2-69 .
STEPHEN (STIFFLY) The Cumings have other sons to provide for beside Ernest.
SMITH No offence intended, Mr. Deveron. Deveron! The name’s been teasing me ever since I heard it.
STEPHEN Be seated, Major Smith.
THEY ALL SIT - JOANNA IN HER OWN CHAIR STEPHEN IN THE WINGED ARMCHAIR AND SMITH BESIDE THE TABLE.
I had a long discussion in Adelaide with the Superintendent of Police and your second-in-command, Lieutenant Walters, concerning the failure of the last effort to trap Sullivan. Sullivan’s going at the very moment he did was too coincidental. Of that we are convinced.
SMITH You think he was warned?
STEPHEN We know he was warned. We have evidence that a message in code was passed on to him - just one word that meant nothing to the men who passed it on. But Sullivan knew what it meant - and within five minutes, he was gone.
SMITH You have traced the message back to its source?
STEPHEN Not quite. But we have grave suspicions, Major Smith, very grave suspicions.
SMITH If it is one of my men, I'll find him if it’s the last thing I do.
STEPHEN The plan was known to only three men beside yourself - Sergeant Whitaker of the police, Lieutenant Walters and myself. I would stake my life on the integrity of Whitaker and Walters - and I know I divulged the plan to no one. The feeling is, Major Smith, that you know only too well where to look for the traitor.
Act 2-70 .
SMITH Sir, are you insinuating that I, a Major in Her Majesty's army am guilty of treachery?
STEPHEN The evidence is not conclusive.
SMITH You'll withdraw that insinuation, sir.
STEPHEN No, Major Smith, I'll not withdraw it. I have given you fair warning, it rests with you to remove the suspicion. The landlord at the Hotel where we had hoped to trap Sullivan insists that Sullivan left behind him a small packet, that the packet contained gold dust - and that the packet was handed to you. There is no record, Major Smith, of any such packet having been handed over to the proper authorities. The landlord is known to be untrustworthy, but his story is circumstantial and we are inclined to believe it. What have you to say about that?
SMITH (CONTEMPTUOUSLY) You think a man like Roberts, the landlord, would have handed over a packet of gold dust?
STEPHEN He says he was afraid to keep it - that it might bring him under suspicion of having aided Sullivan. His story is that you asked if Sullivan had left anything behind and that you seemed to expect the parcel. Was there any such parcel, Major Smith?
SMITH You evidently prefer to believe the word of a common publican. I do not feel called upon even to contradict such an accusation, Mr. Deveron.
STEPHEN Very well. I felt it my duty to warn you. Our evidence is, as I have said, inconclusive, but you have said nothing to refute it. I represent in this Colony’s parliament the people of this district who have been plundered and terrorised by Sullivan and I warn you that I feel it my duty to report to Parliament my suspicions con-
Act 2-71 .
STEPHEN contd. cerning you and your activities. Should Sullivan escape again. Major Smith, you will have to account for it. I think for your own sake, it would be as well if Sullivan did not escape again.
SMITH I do my duty as an officer and a gentleman. But for your wife’s presence, sir, you would not have said what you have and gone scot free.
STEPHEN The matter is in your own hands. I have your instructions from the Committee - I have memorised them so that they need not be written down until I give them to you.
SMITH (CONTEMPTUOUSLY) You take all precautions!
STEPHEN They are your safeguard as well as ours. I shall write your instructions and deliver them into your own hands tomorrow morning. That is all, Major Smith. (SMITH HESITATES AS THOUGH HE IS GOING TO SPEAK) Major Smith is leaving, Joanna.
SMITH (MUMBLING) Joanna.
STEPHEN (SHARPLY) This way, Major Smith. (INDICATES OPEN WINDOW)
SMITH (PULLING HIMSELF TOGETHER) Your servant, Mrs. Deveron.
JOANNA RISES AND BOWS WITHOUT SPEAKING. SMITH GOES OUT STILL LOOKING AT HER IN A PUZZLED MANNER.
JOANNA Stephen . . he’ll remember.
Act 2-72 .
STEPHEN Don’t worry, my dear. He cannot harm us. We are respected members of the Colony - and he - well, you saw him. Who would believe him?
JOANNA I am afraid, Stephen.
STEPHEN We’ll meet it when it comes, Joanna. (IN DISTASTE) I had better get this writing done . . I shall be glad to get the instructions into his hands. I shan’t be long, my dear.
HE KISSES HER, PATS HER SHOULDER A TRIFLE ABSENTMINDEDLY, THEN GOES OFF RIGHT.
JOANNA SITS DOWN AND AFTER A FEW MOMENTS FORCES HERSELF TO PICK UP HER SEWING AND GO ON WITH IT. SMITH COMES UP THE STEPS AND STANDS PEERING IN THE WINDOW AT HER.
SMITH (JUST INSIDE WINDOW) Joanna . . Joanna . . (HE IS STILL PUZZLED)
JOANNA JUMPS UP, TURNS AND FACES HIM. HE COMES RIGHT INTO THE ROOM STILL LOOKING AT HER IN A PERPLEXED MANNER. THEN SUDDENLY, HE REMEMBERS.
SMITH Joanna! Joanna - I remember now. No wonder his name teased me! Deveron, the young sprig who sailed on the tide that night. And you - the convict-girl who drowned herself.
JOANNA You may remember too your own part in that.
SMITH (COMING CLOSER AND LOOKING AT HER WITH GLOATING AMUSEMENT) Joanna Millay, the would-be murderess. I wonder if that is the name on your marriage-lines.
JOANNA TURNS HER HEAD AWAY FROM HIM SHARPLY
Act 2-73 .
SMITH So . . that's it! There aren't any marriage-lines. God, and he threatens me . . and prates of duty, loyalty, responsibility . .
JOANNA You can't touch Stephen. He is good, honourable . .
SMITH A Member of Parliament - the next Premier! With an escaped convict for wife - or should I say mistress, and I can't touch him (HE LAUGHS SOFTLY) You know, this is the richest thing that's happened to me for years.
JOANNA Don't think you can bribe Stephen - he'll do his duty, no matter what it costs him.
SMITH You think that? You think he'll give up his position, his prestige. I think he'd rather have his friend, Major Smith, retired, living here with him, sharing the plenty of his home. It'd suit me too - no more debts and money-lenders - no more taking bribes from bushrangers - Oh, yes, I can admit that now, because it's all finished. And anyway, I'm safe here, where we're all in it together.
JOANNA You are counting without Stephen, Major Smith.
SMITH The righteous Mr. Deveron. I don't quite know what the sentence is for helping a convict to escape; in fact, after twenty-five years he might be able to buy a pardon for you. But there would be a regrettable scandal - I would see to that. No high parliamentary honours for Mr. Deveron, no wealthy marriage for pretty little Augusta.
JOANNA What do you want?
SMITH Money - and ease. Your husband could give me a partnership; I would, of course, not interfere with his management of the vineyard. He could, in fact, do all the work. I would be content with - oh, say half the profits.
JOANNA Your restraint astonishes me.
Act 2-74 .
SMITH You know, Joanna, even in convict garb you were a dammed attractive woman - you stir my blood even now. Your daughter is very like you - she would make a dear little wife for a soldier home from the wars. Yes, I might even marry Augusta, though her mother has never been churched.
HE IS GETTING INTOXICATED WITH THE POSSIBILITIES OF THE SITUATION.
JOANNA A man of the world like you, Major Smith! You'd be wasted on a girl of Augusta's age.
SMITH (LAUGHING COMPLACENTLY) You should have thought of that twenty-five years ago . . you need not have drowned yourself then.
JOANNA I was an inexperienced child then. One learns.
SMITH You ruined two uniforms, you minx. You know, Joanna, I think you're still a minx.
JOANNA I'm grown up now . . I can appreciate a man.
SMITH I believe you can.
JOANNA IS WATCHING HIS PISTOL IN ITS HOLSTER. HE COMES OVER AND PLACES HIS HANDS ON HER ARMS.
What about a kiss to go on with . . I'll warrant you were free enough with them in your convict days. I've waited long enough . .
HE DRAWS HER INTO HIS ARMS AND TRIES TO KISS HER. SHE EVADES HIS LIPS AND HER HAND CLOSES OVER THE PISTOL WHICH SHE DRAWS FROM ITS HOLSTER
JOANNA I'll do whatever you like . . but you cannot have Augusta.
Act 2-75 .
SMITH (FATUOUSLY) I believe you’re jealous. No, you're not going to bribe me - Augusta and her father's money.
JOANNA BREAKS AWAY FROM HIM AND RAISES THE PISTOL
Put that down, you fool . . it's loaded.
JOANNA That's what I hoped.
SHE FIRES. SMITH STANDS WITH A LOOK OF ASTONISHMENT ON HIS FACE, THEN CRUMPLES UP AND FALLS FORWARD. STEPHEN RUNS IN ON RIGHT.
STEPHEN Joanna . . Joanna . .
JOANNA Stop Augusta - don't let her come in.
STEPHEN (AT DOOR, CALLS OUT) It's all right, Augusta. The pistol went off by accident.
AUGUSTA (OUTSIDE) Is Mother all right, Father?
JOANNA (PULLING HERSELF TOGETHER AND SPEAKING NATURALLY) Quite all right, darling. Go back to bed . .
STEPHEN CLOSES THE DOOR AND COMES INTO THE ROOM. HE STANDS FOR A MOMENT LOOKING DOWN AT SMITH.
STEPHEN What happened, Joanna?
JOANNA (SUDDENLY AT POINT OF COLLAPSE) I remember, Stephen. I remember . . the other time. He came into my bed. I waited till he slept, then crawled out and got his own gun. I shot him as he came out into the
Act 2-76 .
JOANNA contd. passage. I remember . . the blood covered his face . . and the noise of his roars of pain . . The judge had a red face, too . .
STEPHEN (COMING ACROSS TO HER) What did Smith do, Joanna?
HE SLIPS HIS ARM ROUND HER AND GENTLY TAKES THE GUN FBOM HER HAND. FOR A MINUTE JOANNA LOOKS AT HIM DAZEDLY, THEN SPEAKS AS THOUGH COMING BACK FROM A LONG WAY
JOANNA He knew me. He wanted to live here . . to marry Augusta . . oh, he was bad, loathsome . . he would have ruined you, Stephen.
STEPHEN Did he attack you, Joanna? How did you get his revolver?
JOANNA He tried to kiss me . . but it wasn't that, Stephen. Don't you understand - he would have blackmailed you for the rest of your life. He was lawless . . he admitted working with Sullivan . . Oh, Stephen, what are we to do?
STEPHEN (BITTERLY) Why need he have died here, the traitorous scum!
JOANNA His horse is outside. We could put him on it, turn the horse loose. The . . the body would not fall off for a little.
STEPHEN I could take him down to the river, let him fall off the horse there . . fire his gun once then throw it into the river after him . . the soldiers would hear it, but they are a mile away. It would be a while before he was found . . it's desperate. Shall we risk it?
JOANNA We must, we must . . the children . .
Act 2-77 .
STEPHEN It will be on your conscience forever.
JOANNA Fear has been my familiar for so long, Stephen. Do you think this will be worse?
STEPHEN Can you help me . . he is a heavy man.
JOANNA I would have spared you this, my darling . . if there had been any other way . . But there was no time.
SHE VISIBLY GATHERS HERSELF TOGETHER FOR THE DREADFUL BUSINESS OF LIFTING SMITH'S BODY.
Stephen, take your own revolver and fire two shots from it. There must be enough shots to account for the empty chamber in his revolver if it's ever found . . and someone may have heard the first shot . . (SHE SHUDDERS) Forgive me . .
STEPHEN We are one flesh, Joanna . .
THEY BEND ONE EACH SIDE START TO LIFT HIM.
THE LIGHTS FADE QUICKLY
END OP INTERPOLATED SCENE
WHEN THE LIGHTS COME ON THE SCENE IS RESTORED TO THE VERANDAH SCENE OF THE FIRST ACT. IT IS EVENING AND THE GARDEN AND VERANDAH ARE BATHED IN BRIGHT MOONLIGHT. THE MODERN JOANNA COMES UP THE STEPS. SHE IS IN A VERY FEMININE, FILMY DINNER FROCK AND WEARS A WIDE RATHER BARBARIC METAL BRACELET ON EITHER ARM. SHE IS IN A DREAMY SUPER-
Act 2-78 .
SENSITIVE STATE OF MIND. SHE SEATS HERSELF ON JOANNA’S CHAIR WHICH HAS BEEN DRAWN TO THE LEFT OF THE STAGE. THE DIARIES ARE IN HER HANDS BUT SHE DOES NOT OPEN THEM, SIMPLY SITS THERE DREAMING.
MRS. COLLINS ENTERS FROM KITCHEN CARRYING A TRAY WITH COFFEE SERVICE ON IT. SHE WEARS A PLAIN DARK DRESS AND SMALL WHITE APRON. SHE SPEAKS AS SHE CROSSES THE STAGE.
COLLINS Coffee is ready, Mrs. Deveron.
JOANNA (LOOKING UP SLOWLY AND VAGUELY) Oh . . thank you, Mrs. Collins. (AFTER A PAUSE) They are still down in the garden . .
MRS. COLLINS TAKES THE TRAY THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT AND AFTER A MOMENT RETURNS WITHOUT IT. SHE CROSSES BACK TO THE KITCHEN WITHOUT SPEAKING THE RIGHT HAND WALL TURNS REVEALING A CORNER OF THE LIVINGROOM WITH ONE FRENCH DOOR. THE MOONLIGHT FADES SLIGHTLY AND THE LIGHT IN THE GARDEN OUTSIDE THE FRENCH DOOR GROWS SUDDENLY TO THE FULL LIGHT OF A SUMMER AFTERNOON.
THE LIVINGROOM SCENE - 1871
VIOLA, AGED 18, IS SITTING DEJECTEDLY ON A SMALL COUCH NEAR THE DOOR. THE FIRST JOANNA ENTERS BRISKLY FROM THE DOOR RIGHT ON HER WAY THROUGH THE ROOM. SHE STOPS ABRUPTLY WHEN SHE SEES VIOLA.
JOANNA I thought you were in the garden, Viola. Where is Archie?
VIOLA Editha is showing him the garden.
Act 2-79 .
JOANNA Editha is showing him . . why aren't you with them?
VIOLA (DISTRACTEDLY) Editha offered to show him . . she is so gay, so pretty . .
VIOLA BURIES HER FACE IN HER HANDS
JOANNA My dear child. (EXASPERATED) Really, Vio . . I have no patience with you. Archie is your friend.
VIOLA MAKES A GESTURE OF HELPLESSNESS
You must take your own part, Viola. You are just as pretty as Editha and many people prefer gentleness and sweetness to gaiety . .
VIOLA (IN MUFFLED VOICE) It's no good, Mother, it's no good. Editha is beautiful . . so beautiful . . everybody loves her, they can't help it. I was . so happy . .
JOANNA Listen to me, Viola. Archie Blackstone has asked your father's permission to pay his addresses to you. If you stay skulking in here while Editha entertains him, what will he think? Go out into the garden, talk to him, laugh and be gay, be as gay as Editha.
VIOLA Mother, I can't . . I can't . . I can't fight Editha.
JOANNA Viola, you are to go out into the garden immediately. Stand up.
VIOLA STANDS UP LIKE AN AUTOMATON
Now, wipe your eyes.
SHE TAKES OUT HER OWN HANDKER-
Act 2-80 .
JOANNA contd. CHIEF AND WIPES THE TEARS FROM VIOLA'S FACE, SHE KISSES HER LIGHTLY ON THE CHEEK.
Oh, Viola. There, my darling, go on . . out into the garden.
VIOLA Yes, Mother.
JOANNA GIVES HER A GENTLE PUSH IN THE DIRECTION OF THE FRENCH WINDOW. VIOLA WALKS THROUGH THE WINDOW ON TO THE VERANDAH AND TO THE HEAD OF THE STEPS. SUDDENLY SHE STARTS TO RUN, SHE RUNS DOWN THE STEPS AND DISAPPEARS THROUGH THE GARDEN TO THE RIGHT. JOANNA FOLLOWS HER ON TO THE VERANDAH THEN COMES BACK INTO THE ROOM. SHE PLUMPS UP THE CUSHIONS ON THE COUCH THEN TAKES HER WORK BOX AND SEATING HERSELF, STARTS TO SEW. EDITHA COMES UP THE STEPS AND ENTERS THROUGH THE WINDOW. SHE IS HUMMING GAILY AND SWINGS A WIDE GARDEN HAT BY ITS RIBBONS.
JOANNA Where are you going, Editha?
EDITHA I didn't notice you there, Mother. I'm just getting an atlas. Mr. Blackstone has been telling me of his tour; I . . he . . is going to show me his journey on the map . .
JOANNA I think you will take a long time getting the atlas, Editha; a very long time . .
EDITHA Oh, no, Mother . .
JOANNA Oh, yes, Editha. Wait here a moment, Editha. I want to talk to you. Do you know what you are doing to your sister . . I think you do. You know Mr. Blackstone wants to marry Viola; you
Act 2-81 .
JOANNA contd. know how happy your father and I are about that. Viola is very sweet, but she will not have many beaux, not as many as you will. Why don't you leave him alone. Editha?
EDITHA (SULKILY) It’s not fair . . I'm older than Vi. I should marry first.
JOANNA So you set out deliberately to take her suitor. I am ashamed of you. Until this moment, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt, persuading myself that you were perhaps not conscious of what you were doing. As it is, go to your room and stay there.
EDITHA I'm no longer a child to be ordered about, Mother.
JOANNA As long as you continue to behave like a child, Editha, you will be treated as one . . And when you get to your room, take off your dress.
EDITHA (SUDDENLY ALARMED) What do you mean. Mother?
JOANNA Exactly what I say. I am going to whip you.
EDITHA Mother! You can't do that . . I am not a child . . You've never whipped us . .
JOANNA It's because you are not a child that I must whip you. Editha . . nothing seems to reach you but physical pain to yourself.
SHE PUTS DOWN HER WORKBOX AND GOES OUT ON TO IHE VERANDAH RETURNING IN A MOMENT WITH A RIDING CROP IN HER HAND. EDITHA STILL STANDS WITHOUT MOVING.
You heard me. .
Act 2-82 .
EDITHA (IN A HARD, HIGH-PITCHED VOICE) Mother, what caused the stain? You’ve never told us . . what caused the stain.
SHE GESTURES TOWARDS THE PLACE WHERE SMITH’S BODY LAY FOR A LONG MOMENT THEY STAND MOTIONLESS MEASURING EACH OTHER. THEN STEPHEN’S VOICE IS HEARD CALLING.
STEPHEN Joanna . .
JOANNA RUNS TO THE FRENCH WINDOW
JOANNA I’m here, Stephen . . what is it?
STEPHEN COMES HALFWAY UP THE STEPS. HE IS COATLESS AND HATLESS
STEPHEN It's Viola. Be strong, Joanna.
JOANNA (GOING TO HIM) Oh, Stephen . . what is it?
STEPHEN (IN TERRIBLE DISTRESS) She threw herself from the cliff . . we saw her, Philip and I . . we were too far away to stop her . .
JOANNA She is . . ?
STEPHEN She still breathes . . Come quickly . .
HE URGES HER DOWN THE STEPS
EDITHA (PITIFULLY) Mother . . Mother . .
JOANNA (TURNING TOWARDS HER FROM THE HEAD OF THE STEPS) My poor, poor Editha . .
Act 2-83 .
THE STAGE DARKENS QUICKLY AND THE CIRCULAR STAGE REVERTS TO THE VERANDAH SCENE
END OF INTERPOLATED SCENE
THE BRIGHT MOONLIGHT AGAIN FLOODS THE VERANDAH AND GARDEN.
JOANNA STILL SITS WITH THE DIARIES IN HER HAND. SHE ECHOES THE LAST WORDS OF THE SCENE
JOANNA Poor Editha . . poor Editha
EDITHA, IN AN OLD FASHIONED EVENING DRESS OF FLORAL CHIFFON WITH A SCARF OF LIGHT WOOL ROUND HER SHOULDERS COMES SLOWLY UP THE STEPS.
STEPHEN HELPS HER WITH A HAND UNDER HER ELBOW. AS THEY REACH THE VERANDAH,
JOCELYN IS SEEN FOLLOWING THEM. NOT TOO CLOSELY. JOCELYN IS IN A SMART BUT SIMPLE DINNER FROCK
EDITHA (AS SHE STEPS ON TO THE VERANDAH) Oh, here you are, Joanna. You should have come with us, dear. The garden is really lovely in the moonlight, and so cool. Feeling better, darling?
JOANNA There's nothing wrong with me really . . nothing at all.
SHE GETS UP FROM THE CHAIR AND MRS. COLLINS WHO ENTERS AS SHE SPEAKS IN TIME TO HEAR HER WORDS IMMEDIATELY GOES OVER TO LIFT THE CHAIR
COLLINS Nothing but a spot of sun-stroke, like I told you you'd get, sitting poring over them books the live-long day in all the heat here.
SHE CARRIES THE CHAIR OFF RIGHT
Act 2-84 .
JOCELYN (AS SHE STEPS ON TO THE VERANDAH) Colley will have you in bed with an icepack on your head if you're not careful, Joanna.
VIOLA AND HALLEY START COMING UP THE STEPS. VIOLA IS IN A DRESS VERY LIKE EDITHA'S ALTHOUGH STEPHEN WEARS DINNER DRESS - WITH A WHITE JACKET - HALLEY IS ALREADY DRESSED IN HIS UNIFORM READY FOR TRAVELLING.
HALLEY SPEAKS WHILE HE AND VIOLA COME UP THE STEPS.
HALLEY Why didn't you wait for us, Jocelyn?
JOCELYN I’m sorry you couldn’t keep up with me.
VIOLA (IN HER INCONSEQUENT FASHION) The wicked fleeth where no man pursueth.
HALLEY There you are. Even Aunt Viola says you're wicked.
JOCELYN You talk an awful lot of rot.
VIOLA That’s not a nice way to speak to a gentleman, Jocelyn dear. I’m glad we went and looked at the River. I’ve always loved it, it’s so inviting.
JOANNA (SHARPLEY) Aunt Vi . . don't!
VIOLA (SIMPLY) Why not, Joanna dear. (SHE STANDS FOR A MOMENT THINKING, THEN SHE CHUCKLES). I threw myself into it once . . Mother used to say I fell, but I didn't . . I jumped. (SHE CHUCKLES AGAIN) The stupid things girls do!
JOANNA Oh, please, Aunt Vi!
Act 2-85 .
STEPHEN (COMING OVER TO JOANNA) What's the matter, Joanna?
JOANNA (SIMPLY) Please, Stephen . . let me be for a while.
EDITHA, VIOLA, JOCELYN AND HALLEY GO INTO THE HOUSE THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT.
STEPHEN I wish you’d . . let me in, darling.
JOANNA I can't . . I can't.
STEPHEN (WITH HELPLESS GESTURE) All right. But if you want me, I'm just through the door, you know.
JOANNA SHAKES HER HEAD DESOLATELY, WALKS TO THE VERANDAH RAIL TO THE RIGHT OF THE STEPS AND STANDS LOOKING DOWN AT THE GARDEN. STEPHEN WATCHES HER FOR A MOMENT, THEN GOES OFF THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT. THEN SHE TURNS AND SPEAKS WONDERINGLY AS THE WALL TO THE LEFT COMMENCES TO REVOLVE.
JOANNA The words . . the very words . .
THE LIVINGROOM SCENE IN 1885
THE SCENE IS THE CORNER OF THE LIVING ROOM WHERE THE FIREPLACE IS, SHOWING ONE FRENCH WINDOW AND THE DOOR TO THE KITCHEN. THE CURTAINS ARE DRAWN AT THE WINDOW AND A BRIGHT LOG FIRE IS BURNING. JOANNA'S CHAIR STANDS DOWNSTAGE AND CLOSE TO THE FIRE UPSTAGE IS THE BIG WINGED ARMCHAIR. THE ROOM IS DIM AND SHADOWY, LIT ONLY BY A LAMP ON THE MANTELPIECE WHICH IS TURNED LOW. THE EFFECT IS WARM AND COMFORTABLE.
Act 2-86 .
STEPHEN WHITE OF HAIR AND EVIDENTLY VERY ILL, SITS IN THE ARMCHAIR PROPPED UP WITH PILLOWS, HIS KNEES COVERED BY A RUG. HE HAS A SHAWL WRAPPED ROUND HIS SHOULDERS
STEPHEN (CALLING IN A WEAK VOICE) Joanna. (THEN MORE QUERULOUSLY) Joanna.
JOANNA ENTERS QUICKLY THROUGH THE DOOR FROM THE KITCHEN. SHE WEARS A MODISH BLACK DRESS, WITH LARGE CAMEO BROOCH AND HEAVY GOLD CHAIN. HER GREYING HAIR IS COVERED BY A SMALL CAP OF LACE. SHE CARRIES A TEA TOWEL AND A PIECE OF CHINA.
JOANNA Yes, Stephen?
STEPHEN That log looks as though it might fall.
JOANNA I think it's quite safe, dear, but I'll move it back so that you needn't worry about it.
SHE GOES ACROSS TO THE TABLE TO PUT DOWN THE THINGS IN HER HAND, WALKING DELIBERATELY ROUND THE SPOT WHERE SMITH LAY. SHE PUSHES LOGS BACK WITH A POKER.
There! Is that better?
STEPHEN I'm like a bad-tempered child, aren't I?
JOANNA Not really. I've never had to mother you as most women seem to. You've always been so very much the man of this house . . and I've been well content to follow where you led.
STEPHEN Joanna . . you always walk round the stain.
Act 2-87 .
JOANNA (SERENELY) Yes, I do, don’t I? Weak of me, because I’ve never felt that killing him was wrong. (SHE STANDS LOOKING INTO THE FIRE FOR A MOMENT) But you have, I know. It's been on your conscience, though you’ve never reproached me . . (SHE LOOKS AT HIM AND SMILES) But I knew why you dropped out of public life, Stephen. (PAUSE) Poor Sullivan! But I don’t think he would have minded being blamed. He’d been in prison himself . . he’d have understood. And we’ve kept the children safe . . I think that justified us . .
AFTER A MOMENT, SHE GOES OVER TO THE FRENCH WINDOW AND DRAWS THE CURTAIN ASIDE AND LOOKS OUT AT THE NIGHT. IT IS VERY BRIGHT FROSTY MOONLIGHT. WHEN SHE LEAVES THE WINDOW, SHE DOES NOT RE-DRAW THE CURTAIN.
STEPHEN What sort of a night is it?
JOANNA Bright moonlight. The river has dropped over a foot today. Now that the rain has stopped, they should be able to cross in the morning.
STEPHEN Tiresome old man, aren't I? - getting sick with everyone away.
JOANNA Nothing would have induced the twins to go if they'd thought of being flood-bound. Still . . they were so anxious not to miss young Ernest’s birthday party. Do you feel old enough to have a grandson of twenty-one? I'm sure I don't. But there, I’m not going to talk to you anymore; it will make you too tired. Put your head back and try to sleep.
Shall I turn the lamp right out?
STEPHEN No I don’t want to sleep, Joanna; I want to talk. Can you remember the last time we were alone together for two whole days . . it must have been before Augusta was born. Sit down where I can see you.
JOANNA SEATS HERSELF ON HER OWN CHAIR
Act 2-88 .
STEPHEN LOOKS AT HER FOR A WHILE IN SILENCE
STEPHEN You haven't altered much.
JOANNA You are absurd, Stephen. I'm sixty-four years old.
STEPHEN You've stopped worrying about the children lately - I know - your face has been serene.
JOANNA I've at last ceased to think of them as children, perhaps. But no - I feel there is no need to worry about them any longer. Editha seems at last to have battled through to some kind of peace.
STEPHEN You've never worried much about Viola.
JOANNA No, sweet little Viola, wrapped in her armour of fantasy; one does not need to worry about her. But my fiery, turbulent Editha . . .
STEPHEN You've always loved her best, and never shown it.
JOANNA One cannot get inside Editha, unless she lets one. (THERE IS A LITTLE SILENCE) We were lucky, Stephen. We could answer their questions so truthfully. We had seen him leave here on his horse, we had heard the three shots . . one seemed closer than the other two. Yes, we were lucky . . but Fate owed us something.
STEPHEN I wish you had faith, Joanna.
JOANNA I wish I had too, but there it is, I haven't. It seems to me that faith is a gift. But my dear, you must rest.
Act 2-89 .
STEPHEN No. There may not be many more chances of talking.
JOANNA (SHARPLY) Don’t even think that.
STEPHEN Why not? We both know that it’s coming. When it does come, I know it will be just as though I had opened a door and gone into another room. Someday, you will open the same door and come into that room, and find me waiting. Will you think of death like that?
JOANNA I’ll try.
SHE GOES OTER TO THE WINDOW AGAIN
Yet . . do you think heaven could be more lovely than our moonlit hills dropping down to the Onkaparinga?
THERE IS A LONG SILENCE
STEPHEN The room is getting chilly.
JOANNA (COMING BACK TO THE FIRE) It is a very cold night.
STEPHEN (SHARPLY) Frosty?
JOANNA (SOOTHING HIM) I don’t think there will be a frost.
STEPHEN Look at the thermometer; have a good look at the sky.
JOANNA Very well.
SHE GOES OFF LEFT. WHILE SHE IS GONE STEPHEN TRIES TO TURN ROUND IN HIS CHAIR AND LOOK OUT THE UNCURTAINED WINDOW. HE IS TOO WEAK AND FALLS BACK IN HIS CHAIR, COUGHING.
JOANNA COMES ON LEFT.
Act 2-90 .
JOANNA It's low.
STEPHEN How low?
JOANNA Stephen, you must not get excited. No matter how low it is, there is no one to light the fires. I don't want to leave you.
STEPHEN How low, Joanna?
JOANNA Under forty. And not a cloud in the sky.
STEPHEN All the vines, our children’s heritage, Joanna. A frost in October!
JOANNA It will be only one season’s vintage, Stephen. I cannot leave you.
STEPHEN One more bad season, Joanna - you know what it will mean. You know where to find the tins . . they will not be too heavy . .
JOANNA Yes, my dear . .I know where everything is. You must not excite yourself so. I will hurry.
AS SHE IS SPEAKING SHE GOES OUT LEFT COMING BACK WITH HEAVY COAT AND MUFFLER WHICH SHE PUTS ON.
There is your draught beside you . . drink it at once if you feel another spasm of coughing coming on. Don’t attempt to move, Stephen . . I’ll be as quick as I can.
STEPHEN LEANS WEARILY BACK ON THE PILL0WS NOW THAT THE EXCITEMENT OF MAKING HER GO IS OVER. SHE LEANS OVER AND KISSES HIS FOREHEAD VERY TENDERLY. HE SPEAKS WITHOUT OPENING HIS EYES
Act 2-91 .
STEPHEN My darling, darling wife.
JOANNA (MOVING TOWARDS DOOR LEFT) Be good while I’m away.
STEPHEN (RAISING HIS HEAD AND SMILING AT HER WITH A TOUCH OF HIS OLD DEBONAIR MANNER) Remember, I shall be just through the door.
JOANNA (SPEAKING AS SIMPLY AS SHE DID IN THE BEGINNING) I will follow you.
SHE GOES OFF LEFT.
STEPHEN STAYS QUIET FOR A MOMENT, THEN HE TRIES ONCE MORE TO TURN AND LOOK THROUGH THE WINDOW AND BRINGS ON A SPASM OF COUGHING. HIS HAND GROPES FOR THE DRAUGHT, BUT THE EFFORT IS TOO MUCH FOR HIM. HE LEANS BACK EXHAUSTED. AFTER A MOMENT, HIS HEAD FALLS FORWARD AND ONE OF HIS HANDS SLIDES OFF HIS LAP AND HANGS LIMPLY DOWN THE SIDE OF THE CHAIR THE LIGHTS DIM VERY SLOWLY AS THE STAGE REVOLVES TO RESTORE THE VERANDAH SCENE
END OF INTERPOLATED SCENE
THE LIGHTS GROW AGAIN, ONE BEAM DIRECTLY ON THE MODERN JOANNA AS SHE LEANS AGAINST THE VERANDAH POST AS THOUGH THE MOON IS SHINING DIRECTLY ON HER.
HALLEY COMES OUT THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT.
HALLEY Joanna, I must go in a few minutes. (SHE NEITHER MOVES NOR REPLIES) Joanna! (HE COMES CLOSER. SHE LOOKS UP AT HIM, SLOWLY, DREAMILY) Joanna!
JOANNA I'm . . I'm sorry, Halley. I was a long way away.
Act 2-92 .
HALLEY I'll say you were. Don’t do that to me again. .
you frightened me.
JOANNA I'm a little afraid myself. They are so closely knit, the Deverons. After two lifetimes, they use the same words . . It frightens me.
HALLEY You’re a little fey tonight, my dear. What happened today?
JOANNA These little books . . they're her diaries, Halley. They were tucked down at the back of the old chair . for me to find.
HALLEY (COMMONSENSICALLY) Someone had to find them.
JOANNA (NOT NOTICING WHAT HE HAS SAID) All day long she has been here with me, she and Stephen and Philip and Augusta and the two little girls . . (HER VOICE TRAILS AWAY)
HALLEY STANDS LOOKING AT HER QUESTIONINGLY FOR A LONG MOMENT, THEN HE TAKES HER HAND AND SPEAKS GENTLY
HALLEY Come inside, Joanna.
STILL TRANCE LIKE, SHE GOES WITH HIM OBEDIENTLY. AS THEY WALK TOWARDS THE DOOR RIGHT, BOTH STAGES REVOLVE REVEALING THE LIVINGROOM RIGHT ACROSS THE STAGE AS IT WAS FOR THE INTERPOLATED SCENE IN 1862. THE HEAVEY VELVET DRAPES HAVE BEEN REPLACED BY CURTAINS OF GAY PRINTED LINEN. THERE ARE LIGHTED FLOORLAMPS A VASE OF FLOWERS ON THE MANTELPIECE AND A LARGE BRASS BOWL OF FLOWERS AND FOLIAGE IN THE FIREPLACE. THE DINING TABLE HAS BEEN PUSHED BACK TO THE CORNER OF THE ROOM, RIGHT BACK, AND JOCELYN SITS JUST NEAR IT BESIDE A COFFEE TABLE. THE TWINS OCCUPY
Act 2-93 .
A SMALL COUCH UPHOLSTERED IN THE SAME LINEN, STEPHEN STANDS LEANING ON THE BACK OF THE WINGED ARMCHAIR BESIDE THE FIREPLACE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF WHICH IS THE OLD, FADED JOANNA'S CHAIR.
THE FIRST JOANNA, IN THE CLOTHES SHE WORE IN THE LAST SCENE, SITS ON HER CHAIR, THE FIRST STEPHEN, STILL WHITEHAIRED BUT WITHOUT SHAWLS, RUG, ETC. SITS IN THE WINGED ARMCHAIR. PHILIP, WITH HIS BOOKS UNDER HIS ARM, STANDS NEAR THE END OF THE TABLE NEAR WHERE AUGUSTA SITS SEWING. ON THE HEARTHRUG BEFORE THE FIRE, THE TWINS SIT PLAYING CATSCRADLE.
AS THE MODERN JOANNA COMES IN THROUGH THE FRENCH WINDOW TO THE RIGHT WITH HALLEY A PACE OR TWO BEHIND HER, THE OTHERS HOLD A TABLEAU FOR AN APPRECIABLE MOMENT.THEN THE MODERN PEOPLE STAND QUITE STILL WHILE THE OLD GENERATION MOVE QUIETLY TOWARD THEIR MODERN COUNTER PARTS - AUGUSTA TO JOCELYN, PHILIP TO STEPHEN, AND THE TWINS TO THE OLD LADIES SEATED ON THE COUCH. THE MODERN JOANNA CRIES OUT SHARPLY AND COVERS HER FACE WITH HER HANDS. THERE IS A MOMENTARY BLACKOUT. WHEN THE LIGHTS COME ON AGAIN, THE OLD GENERATION HAVE DISAPPEARED.
STEPHEN COMES HURRIEDLY TOWARDS JOANNA
STEPHEN Joanna, what is it?
JOANNA I . . I thought for a moment the twins were there, the little girls . .
VIOLA But we are here, dear . . we're the little girls, Editha and I.
EDITHA Joanna . . Stephen has just told us . . you want
to go away. I . . I . . (FOR A MOMENT SHE LOSES CONTROL) I'm afraid I must be getting old.
Act 2-94 .
JOANNA Aunt Editha . . (SHE HESITATES AND LOOKS PITEOUSLY TOWARDS STEPHEN)
STEPHEN Don't badger her. Aunt Editha. It isn't an easy decision.
EDITHA (RIGHTING FOR CONTROL) I wish you'd stay . just for the vintage. Joanna.
VIOLA Yes, just for the vintage, Joanna. We’re going to have a festival, aren't we, Stephen, like they have in France. We've talked about it every year, since Stephen came back . . but we waited for you, dear.
JOANNA Why . . the vintage?
JOCELYN It's the culmination of our year . . all activity and orderly bustle and vitality after these quiet months of waiting.
EDITHA Yes. I'll miss the vintage when I die.
VIOLA (ANXIOUSLY) You're not feeling like dying. Editha, are you?
EDITHA No, not particularly.
VIOLA Then don't talk about it . . it embarrasses the young people.
HALLEY Not so much as it would have ten years ago, Miss Viola . . we’ve got used to the idea of death.
(HE IS WATCHING JOANNA, GIVING HER A CHANCE TO PULL HERSELF TOGETHER)
STEPHEN (PAST WHOM, SUNK IN HIS OWN PRIVATE MISERY, MOST OF THIS HAS GONE UNNOTICED) Joanna is going. There is no more to be said.
Act 2-95 .
JOANNA You sound exactly like your great-grandfather.
HALLEY GOES ACROSS AND SITS IN THE WINGED ARMCHAIR, SPEAKING AS HE DOES SO.
HALLEY You sound as though you knew the old gentleman.
JOANNA I feel as though I do. All day long, I've been reading the first Joanna's diaries .
VIOLA )Mother's diaries!
EDITHA We looked everywhere for them after she died.
JOANNA They were tucked down behind the seat of her chair.
STEPHEN (UNCOMFORTABLY) You should perhaps have given them to my aunts . .
JOANNA (FIERCELY,INTERRUPTING) Why? She left them there for me to find . . my hands went straight to them.
EDITHA Her chair! We never thought of looking there.
VIOLA Did she write about . . us?
JOANNA Mostly about your father . . he died in that chair you're sitting in, Halley.
HALLEY (RISING HASTILY) Here, I say.
JOANNA There's no need to feel spooky. He was a darling. He just fell asleep in his chair while Joanna was out lighting the smudge fires . . it was a frosty night and there was no one else to do it.
Act 2-96 .
EDITHA Yes, we were away the night Father died. We've never quite forgiven ourselves, have we, Viola?
VIOLA Mother told us not to be weakly sentimental about that, Editha.
EDITHA Yes, so she did.
HALLEY And you two stayed with her right to the end of her life. There's something rather beautiful about that.
EDITHA There was nothing else for us to do. Spinsters , you know.
VIOLA You needn't have been a spinster, Editha. There was Archie Blackstone. He was my beau first, then he fell in love with Editha.
JOCELYN Don't revive old hurts, Aunt Vi.
VIOLA Oh, it doesn't hurt now, dear. We met him years after, didn't we, Editha? Most unromantic. He'd grown . . you know.
HALLEY (MOCK SHOCKED) Not fat in the stomach?
VIOLA No, across the back. So much worse!
JOCELYN (TO HALLEY) Stop pulling their legs, you unprincipled horror.
HALLEY You're jealous.
VIOLA It was I who was jealous - of Editha. That’s why I jumped off the cliff . . (SHE CHUCKLES AGAIN)
Act 2-97 .
EDITHA Mother was wonderful all those years that Viola was so ill. Never one word of blame.
JOANNA You were her favourite, you know.
EDITHA Oh, no. Philip was her favourite. She called you “my fiery, turbulent Editha”. She lived every moment of those years with you . . and talked about you to your father the night he died. She wrote it all down, every word of it.
VIOLA Was there anything about me, Joanna?
STEPHEN (QUICKLY) You must read the diaries for yourself, Aunt Vi.
JOANNA (TAKING NO NOTICE OF HIM) There was lots about all of you, Aunt Viola. I remember in one place she said of you, “sweet Viola, wrapped in her armour of fantasy.”
VIOLA Yes, I was always making up stories. They were a kind of armour.
STEPHEN Joanna will give you the diaries.
JOCELYN You'll be able to read it all yourself, Auntie.
JOANNA Are you afraid of what I might let out?
STEPHEN I doubt if there is anything to be 'let out'. After all, my great-grandparents were just normal, ordinary hard-working people.
JOANNA You make her sound so impossibly stuffy . . you've got her all wrong. Why can't you see her as she really was, all vitality and fire and poetry.
Act 2-98 .
STEPHEN All this old family stuff is better forgotten.
JOANNA No, no. (AS STEPHEN IS ABOUT TO SPEAK) You Deverons, you cover up, suppress everything that's interesting about yourselves. There's enough in those diaries of Joanna's to make a dozen books, but no, it's better forgotten.
STEPHEN Hush, Joanna.
JOANNA No, I won't be hushed, Stephen. It's not only you. It seems to me it's all Australians. You pride yourself on your impeccable middle-class respectability, you ignore everything that might disturb it. It just doesn't exist . . not as far as this family is concerned, anyway. Why, when her husband was threatened with blackmail, here in this very room, Joanna shot the blackmailer. See (SHE PUSHES BACK THE BUG) here's the stain!
EDITHA I thought . . Augusta would never let us ask about that.
JOCELYN That's absurd, Joanna. She couldn't have murdered anyone.
JOANNA She executed summary justice . . that’s how she thought of it. And she was right . . she was right. He could have wrecked the splendid career Stephen had made for himself . he could have plunged the whole family into shame. Joanna carried the burden of it on her conscience to the end of her life. She felt it was her way of repaying all that Stephen had done for her.
STEPHEN (WHO HAS FORGOTTEN HE WAS TRYING TO KEEP JOANNA QUIET) But . . blackmail!
JOANNA It was what this man knew about Joanna herself. You see, she had been a convict, and Stephen had helped her escape. They weren't married.
Act 2-99 .
JOCELYN (TO STEPHEN) That would explain so much . .
STEPHEN Yes . . (THEN REMEMBERING SUDDENLY) For God's sake, Joanna.
JOANNA But there’s nothing to he ashamed of. They were big vital people . . they lived. The things they did are the real things, the things that colour life. They weren’t saints, but they saw the things to do and had the strength to do them. Joanna was a wonderful person . . terrible things happened to her, but nothing . . nothing got her down. She’s something to admire, something to brag about, not because she lived to ninety-five and died in the odour of sanctity, but because she rose above injustice and horror and turned them into strength. You should rattle your manacles. .
SHE RAISES HER HANDS ABOVE HER HEAD AND RATTLES HER BRACELETS
you should take your skeletons out of their cupboards, you should clothe them with their own romance, and turn them into history.
THERE IS A SILENCE FOLLOWING HER OUTBURST. INTO THE SILENCE, VIOLA SPEAKS THRILLINGLY.
VIOLA Editha, just fancy that . . for ninety-two years, we’ve been bastards.
HALLEY (GENTLY) You’re still yourselves, Miss Viola.
VIOLA (TURNING TO HIM) It isn’t that. There are so many things respectable people can’t do . . Think how much more thrilling life might have been if we’d only known.
EDITHA Then it wasn’t true . . that our grandfather was a Professor of Greek.
JOANNA Oh, yes, that was true . . although for years she didn’t remember anything at all about herself before
Act 2-100 .
JOANNA cont. she came to Tasmania. Her father died when she was only eleven and she went to live with an old cousin of his. It was the cousin . . a terrible beastly old man who used her hideously . . who let her be transported. For years, she didn't remember any of it . . it’s all explainable psychologically. The horror of it all was too great to be remembered. Years after, she wrote in her diary, “I could not remember that I had any childhood.” Memory began mistily with the snapping of wind in the ship's rigging and stars so bright and close I might have put out my hand to touch them.”
JOCELYN (WITH UNCONCEALED HOSTILITY) Why have you told us all this, Joanna? Why have you insisted on telling us?
STEPHEN These things can only hurt.
HALLEY You wanted them to hurt, didn't you, Joanna . . as much as you've been hurt?
JOANNA LOOKS WILDLY FROM ONE TO ANOTHER OF THEM
JOANNA (PASSIONATELY) It is the truth.
HALLEY (WITH NEMESIS-LIKE INSISTENCE) The truth, Joanna!
JOANNA BREAKS SUDDENLY
JOANNA All right, the truth then, the truth.
SHE IS SOBBING AS SHE SPEAKS
When Halley came for me, they'd shaved my head. Some of the others they killed, and some they branded. But I was English, so they shaved my head. They shaved my head . . my head . . do you understand . .
Act 2-101 .
IN A STORM OF TEARS SHE RUNS OUT THROUGH THE LEFT HAND FRENCH DOOR. AS SHE DOES SO, THE WALLS REVOLVE RESTORING THE VERANDAH SCENE. JOANNA CROUCHES CRYING WILDLY IN A CORNER OF THE VERANDAH. STEPHEN FOLLOWS HER BY THE DOOR TO RIGHT. HE STANDS FOR AN APPRECIABLE MOMENT WATCHING HER. THEN HE SPEAKS WITHOUT TOUGHING HER.
STEPHEN (DEEPLY MOVED) Joanna . . my darling Joanna.
JOANNA Don't pity me . .
STEPHEN Tell me what happened?
JOANNA (STILL CROUCHING BUT SPEAKING MORE NORMALLY) I thought it might make things better for Daddy . . he was so ill . .
SHE STANDS UP, AT LAST TEARLESS BUT WEARY WITH THE LONG HORROR
Poor Daddy . . he died three days later - of shame, I think. I had to go on . . there's no turning back, once you've been a . . traitor.
STEPHEN Why didn't you tell me before?
JOANNA I was afraid. You ought to despise me . will, when you've had time to think about it.
STEPHEN I can't, Joanna. I can't do anything but love you . . whatever you are, whatever you may have been.
JOANNA Don't humiliate me any more . .
Act 2-102 .
STEPHEN Do I have to say it again, Joanna . . I love you.
HE DRAWS HER TOWARDS HIM; SHE RESISTS HIM A LITTLE. THE STORY IS NOT YET QUITE TOLD.
JOANNA He was only twenty-three, Stephen . . . half bewildered child, half blood-maddened brute. He used to cry for his mother in his sleep . . I didn’t know I could hate anyone so terribly.
HE STARTS TO SPEAK, BUT SHE STOPS HIM. SHE MUST TELL THE WHOLE.
He tried to protect me when the Russians came . . but they killed him . . horribly . .
STEPHEN There is no need to tell me . . except to ease your own pain.
HE DRAWS HER INTO HIS ARMS AND THIS TIME, SHE DOES NOT RESIST.
HALLEY COMES OUT THROUGH DOOR RIGHT
HALLEY Joanna, Stephen . . I must go - now, this very minute. If I miss that train, I've had it . . Jackson will have to drive like hell the whole way to Adelaide.
JOANNA Halley, forgive me.
HALLEY (PATTING HER SHOULDER) It isn't goodbye, you know. I'll be back the minute I can . . for Jocelyn. She won't admit it . . yet.
STEPHEN (STILL A BIT AMAZED) Joanna isn't coming with you.
HALLEY I knew she wouldn't . . once you knew the truth.
Act 2-103 .
JOANNA Oh, goodbye, Halley dear.
HE SLIPS HIS ARM ROUND HER AND THEY KISS AFFECTIONATELY. HALLEY AND STEPHEN SHAKE HANDS.
HALLEY The best of luck, old man.
EDITHA AND VIOLA COME OUT THROUGH THE DOOR RIGHT. JOCELYN FOLLOWS THEM, CARRYING THEIR HANDBAGS.
EDITHA We'll go now, dear child, so that Jackson can drop us on the way.
JOANNA Don't hate me, Aunt Editha.
EDITHA Why should I? When one is old, things get into a different perspective, you know. Things that were terribly important when one was young, look very childish. Nothing matters, nothing at all, but that you and Stephen should be happy together. When Mother was pleased about anything, she used to say she was “well content”. That's how I feel - well content.
VIOLA May I borrow the diaries when you can spare them, Joanna?
EDITHA Just for a loan, dear.
JOANNA Oh, you must have them, of course.
EDITHA We've a lot of new ideas to get used to.
JOANNA Do you mind . . really?
EDITHA I don't think I do.
Act 2-104 .
VIOLA I like new ideas.
EDITHA We'll see you in the morning. Joanna dear. (SHE KISSES JOANNA)
VIOLA Yes, we'll see you in the morning, Joanna. (SHE GIVES A LITTLE SKIP) And we'll have our festival . .
HALLEY Come along, you two. Get a hustle on . . (HE PUTS HIS ARM ROUND VIOLA AND GUIDES HER DOWN THE STEPS)
JOCELYN Your bags, Halley!
HALLEY All in the car . . Come on!
EDITHA AND JOCELYN GO DOWN THE STEPS TOGETHER.JOANNA AND STEPHEN STAND AT THE TOP WATCHING THEM
JOANNA Goodbye, goodbye, Halley . . Come back soon.
THE SOUND OF THE CAR STARTING UP IS HEARD AND RECEDES INTO THE DISTANCE BEFORE JOANNA AND STEPHEN MOVE. THEN STEPHEN DROPS SUDDENLY ON TO THE TOP STEP AND BURIES HIS FACE IN HIS HANDS
STEPHEN (SPEAKING THROUGH HIS HANDS) In just a moment . . I'll be all right. It came over me . . how near I was to letting you go.
JOANNA (AS MUCH TO HERSELF AS TO HIM) All day long I have sat here reading her diaries, thrilling to her greatness.
Act 2-105 .
JOANNA contd. I'm not made of the stuff she was, Stephen, there isn't greatness in me. But there was nothing else for me to do . . but tell the truth . . and stay. Those diaries were not there by chance . . she had to have a continuing place for her spirit. For the first time since I came here, I feel myself part of the pattern.
STEPHEN Only if you want to stay, Joanna.
JOANNA Whether you want me or not . . I must stay.
SHE TURNS AND LOOKS TOWARDS THE HILLS
You will have to help me, Stephen.
STEPHEN Wholly because of her, Joanna . . or a little because you love me?
JOANNA (STILL NOT LOOKING AT HIM) I could cease loving you . . but I don't want to.
STEPHEN COMES AND STANDS CLOSE BEHIND HER LOOKING OUT AT THE HILLS ALL PALE SILVER IN THE MOONLIGHT.
STEPHEN Look well at the hills, Joanna. They are our children's heritage, and our children's children.
JOANNA I suppose in time one will grow to hate them less, “The moonlit hills dropping down to the Onkaparinga”
AS STEPHEN TURNS HER ROUND TO FACE HIM
THE CURTAIN FALLS
Set in post-World War II South Australia, the homecoming of the second Joanna is soured by the close-knit and guarded Deveron family. Feeling as if she can’t connect with the present, and questing her reasons for staying, Joanna turns to the past after discovering a set of diaries from her husband's grandmother, the first Joanna. The dairies reveal the skeletons in the Deveron family’s closet. They also help her decide her future.(...more)
'[Blewett's] play, The First Joanna, is the story of two women bearing the same name but who are born a century apart. Flashback to the colonial era provides the link to the story.
'The modern Joanna is a restless, sophisticated English woman married to the owner of a vineyard in South Australia. The first Joanna is the pioneer. Her story unfolds through entries in a diary discovered in an old chair.'
Source: 'Tale of Two Women–Aust. TV Drama', The Age [TV/Radio Supplement], 17-23 February 1961, p.(...more)