Haunted by Emily…a play

Scene I, cont’d

(enter EMILY‘s brother AUSTIN, tall, sedate, black-clothed midlife male with somewhat wild hair. He sweeps off his wet hat.)

Brother! This is the season reindeer love! What brings out you on a night like this when thunder gossips low, and water wrecks the sky?

(Very dramatic, gesturing)

A massacre of suns have been by evening’s sabers slain!

(Pushes past, impatient at her foolishness. He doesn’t want to play.)
Is everyone in bed?

Yes of course. I have taken off my crown of thorns and donned my evening diadem. (Sighs explosively) Ah! To die divinely once a twilight!

I must needs interview, dear Sister. I require the parlor.

(He looks and acts guilty.)

Brother, how can we receive those who talk of hallowed things and embarrass my dog! The only one I meet is God.

No, no, no. Off to bed with you, Emily. It’s just that Sue can’t attend to…Mrs. Todd.

(Falsely jovial)

You remember Mrs. Todd. She’s indisposed.

Brother, you become improbable. Mrs. Todd is indisposed?

No, Sue.

(Anxiously pulling at his sleeve)

Is my Domingo ill? It’s easier to look behind at pain than to see it coming.

Sue chooses to be ill. She chooses to be black as death. Please don’t wait up for us. We won’t disturb you.

Life is death we’re lengthy at. All right, then, Brother. Impossibility exhilarates! I will take up my lantern, and go in search of deathless me. Keep a gas light burning, Brother, to light the danger up.

(AUSTIN brushes away her hand – EMILY dives behind the door to her conservatory – but eavesdrops. AUSTIN opens the front door, ushers a heavily veiled but elegantly clothed and youthful lady inside, into the parlor, closes the door behind them. Shoots the bolt home.)

(Listening behind the door)

They might not need me – yet they might! I’ll let my heart be just in sight. A smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity. Ah, night’s possibility! I don’t mind locks as long as I can pick ‘em.

(In the parlor AUSTIN builds up the fire, as MABEL unwinds her many veils, which he eagerly receives. They face one another. )


Rubicon indeed.

(They scrabble desperately at one another’s clothing, half undressing.)

(Listens, shaking her head)

Here’s a candy scrape! Love is hungry and must graze! Good to hide and hear ‘em hunt but better to be found.

(Spot follows her as she prepares her plants for the evening.)

I am famished for you.

I trust you as I trust God.


Title divine is mine!
Wife without the sign!
Garnet to garnet, gold to gold,
Born, bridalled, shrouded in a day
Is this the way?

(She holds a blossom to her cheek.)

My red, red, Persian ladies! Flowers are so enticing I fear that they are sins. I would rather have your moment’s blossom than a bee’s eternity.


I love you! Why should I and why shouldn’t I? Who made and who rules the human heart? Where is the wrong in preferring sunlight to shadow?

You reached out your hand in darkness, almost without knowing, and met another, warm and tender and you clasped it. It shall never be withdrawn.

I am overwhelmed, overjoyed. Intoxicated. We were made to give joy to each other.

(They make love. Light goes up on EMILY)

The bane is love. To lack it is a woe, to own it is a wound.

(She looks toward the parlor)

In all the circumference of expression the words of Adam and Eve never were surpassed: “I was afraid and hid myself.”

(Lights out on HOMESTEAD.)

to be continued…

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