Comments on Light the Lamp for Me
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Posted Jun 21, 2007 - 6:21 PM:
The script of "Light the Lamp for Me" with page numbers and handwritten notes in brackets and [X]crossed-out text surrounded by bracketed X-es.[/X]
WJZ AND NET "QUIET, PLEASE!"
( ) ( ) WYLLIS COOPER
5:00 - 5:30 P.M. SEPTEMBER 26, 1948 SUNDAY
No. 2 (65) - "LIGHT THE LAMP FOR ME"
WJZ - ABC - Sun. Sept. 26 1948 - 5:00 - 5:30 PM EDST
REH - - Fri Sept 24, - 1:30 - 3:30 PM Studio 2-D
Sun Sept 26 2:00 - 5:00 PM Studio 8-A
[Praeteritis pluries; futurus semel.]
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
(SEVEN SECOND'S SILENCE)
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR ...)
ANNCR: ABC presents "Quiet, Please!" which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and which features Ernest Chappell.
"Quiet, Please!" for today is called "Light the Lamp for Me."
(MUSIC ... THEME ... END ...)
MANFRED: They say that my historical books, my stories based upon happenings in the past, are extraordinarily vivid. They say they are minutely accurate; that they read as if I had actually been there and seen the happenings in person. They say that my descriptions of the early days of the California Missions, particularly of the San Fernando Mission, are more painstakingly detailed than even the contemporary accounts of the brown-robed Franciscans who lived and laboured, prayed and died, in the shadows of its adobe walls. And they wonder what undiscovered source material I alone have access to.
And now the time has come to tell.
Do you know San Fernando? La MisiÃ³n San Fernando Rey de EspaÃ±a?
With the statue of Father Serra beside the fountain in the Memory Garden across the road? The screen door that opens into the musty little office, and the sign that reads "Curios"?
And the arches of the cloister, where the cracked plaster shows the ancient 'dobe bricks? And the wrought iron bars on the windows, and the sheep-pen down at the end of the cloisters, where the surly old ram glowers at you through the wire?
Do you know the convento, and the glass cases of gold-threaded vestments against the walls; the old weapons, and the bridles and stirrups, and the utensils carved from wood? And the sagging old door frames, and the wooden steps, and the still-room?
Do you know the still-room, the distillery where the old monks made brandy from the sour wine of the Valley?
The remains of copper pipes, and vats, and an ancient still, and a wooden platform with steps, worn and eroded by time and countless foot-steps, priestly and secular. A cramped tall room, window-less and faintly odorous, on a damp day, of the spirit of the grape that was distilled there.
The dust of a hundred and fifty years; and the walls covered with names and dates scratched into the crumbling 'dobe. Jean and Vinnie, from Toldeo. Kilroy and Harry Bubeck of San Francisco. Staff-Sergeant Pearl Parmelee of the WAC ...
[Coda] [END MUSIC]
And my cigarette lighter slipped from my fingers as I started to light a cigarette. In the half-darkness of the still-room it bounded into a far corner, under the platform, and with an appropriate remark about the perversity of inanimate objects, I went down on all fours and crawled in the dust to retrieve it.
In the furthest, dirtiest corner, of course. And a loose 'dobe brick alongside it. A brick that concealed a hidden treasure? I smiled briefly at the conceit as my fingers probed in the space where the brick had been. And -
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT ...)
MANFRED: - there was something there.
A lamp, I discovered when I crawled out clutching it.
An ancient bronze lamp, green with age; a lamp like those the Romans used: something like a modern sauce-boat, and a musty, frayed wick protruding from its snout. A most interesting discovery here in a California mission. I took the lamp to the door the better to examine it...and made another discovery.
The lamp was full of oil. The wick was greasy with it.
Here was more than a mystery!
And, curiously, I flipped my lighter and touched the flame to the wick.
[SOUND:] (A ROLL OF THUNDER IS HEARD)
MANFRED: Yes. Thunder.
Thunder, and darkness around me. And only the tiny flame of the lamp to reveal the yawning door and the 'dobe bricks of the wall...and in its feeble light the bricks looked newer, cleaner...and the great copper still inside the room gleamed brightly and cast flickering reflections of the ancient lamp back at me. And a voice spoke in my ear . . .
SOLDIER: Que tiene usted, amigo?
MANFRED: He stood close beside me, this soldier in morion and steel breastplate, one hand on the hilt of a long straight sword with a basket hilt.
A Spanish soldier of the late eighteenth century, and he was real flesh-and-blood, by the weight of his grip on my soldier.
Now my Spanish is very limited, and this apparition was a very astonishing thing. Astonishing, I thought -- impossible! And I answered him in English..
What happened? I asked.
SOLDIER: Ah, Ingles, ha? (PRECISELY) English, I mean.
MANFRED: I'm American - what's going on here?
SOLDIER: I am Irish.
MANFRED: You are?
SOLDIER: My name was Peter Paul O'Brien in Galway. And now I am Pedro Pablo Obregon, soldier in the armies of His Majesty of Spain, and a lost man as ever was.
MANFRED: I - oh! I get it. The cinema, eh?
SOLDIER: I am afraid I do not understand you, caballero.
MANFRED: But what made it get dark so suddenly?
SOLDIER: It has been dark for near four hours, amigo.
MANFRED: It's - what kind of joke is this?
SOLDIER: There is no joke.
MANFRED: (AFTER A CONSIDERABLE PAUSE) Well, what...(HE STOPS)
SOLDIER: And you could be telling me how you came in possession of my lamp.
MANFRED: Your lamp?
SOLDIER: My lamp.
MANFRED: I'm sorry. I found it in there.
SOLDIER: Where I hid it yesterday.
MANFRED: Yesterday! It's been in there a hundred years if it's been there a day!
MANFRED: It must have been. [Look at it!]
SOLDIER: Well...perhaps it has been, then.
MANFRED: Of course.
SOLDIER: Friend, would you be knowing the date?
SOLDIER: The year and the day?
MANFRED: Why - September -
SOLDIER: I will tell you. September twenty-sixth,
MANFRED: 19 -
(THERE IS A PAUSE)
MANFRED: Look here -
SOLDIER: No. There is no point at all in keeping you in ignorance, amigo. Since you found the lamp and lighted the same...
MANFRED: Go on, friend.
SOLDIER: It is my lamp. I found it one day, in Spain. And I carried it with me for long years afore I found out what were its powers.
(MUSIC: BEGINS FOR BG .......)
SOLDIER: It was in Granada, I mind, that I first found out. A dark night in the barracks, and I bethought meself of the little lamp. And I mind I was thinking of the days of the Saracens in Granada as I lighted the little wick, and... caramba. When it flamed up, I was sitting ferninst two of them.
MANFRED: Two of whom?
SOLDIER: The Saracens, the Moors, bedad. Scimitars they had, and long spears, and great black beards.
MANFRED: I don't believe it.
SOLDIER: You're here, are ye not? From your own time. You lighted the lamp whilst you were thinking of the old days.
MANFRED: Well, I --
SOLDIER: Hear me, man, for ye've not much more time to listen. That is the power of the lamp then. Think of a time, and light the lamp, and y'are there. Blow it out and you're still there. But light it again, and think of another time - yer own, belike, and - it's like that.
MANFRED: I don't believe --
SOLDIER: It makes little difference, amigo, what ye think. Give me back me lamp.
MANFRED: Well, now, look here. How do I know it's yours, and how do I know -
SOLDIER: I have the means to take it from you. (HE LOOSENS HIS SWORD IN IS SCABBARD) I could run you through -
MANFRED: You wouldn't get away with it. The police would -
SOLDIER: Man, listen. Do not be judging events by the standards of yer own time, for that is not now. I'll have back me lamp.
MANFRED: I won't give it to you.
SOLDIER: It was in me mind to let you live, as best ye could, a full hundred and fifty years afore yer own time, but I see I must not do it.
MANFRED: Now, look here, there's such a thing as law in -
SOLDIER: Be still. For if ye blow it out and light it again, and wish yourself back where ye came from, then I'd not have the lamp at all at all. And since I cannot wish ye back myself, there is only one thing to do.
MANFRED: And he leaned across my shoulder and blew out the lamp, and in the darkness I heard the sound of steel as he drew his sword. I felt the wind from the swordstroke, and my hat was plucked from my head. And, in frantic reflex I swung the lamp, and it struck [X]something[/X], [flesh and bone] and in the dark I heard a groan, and the clashing of steel as Pedro Pablo Obregon fell.
I waited a long time before I applied my lighter to the wick of the little lamp and thought of home-time.
And the thunder crashed
and I stood there in the sunny afternoon, alone. And the old ram blatted, and an impatient automobile-horn sounded on the highway, and the 'dobe bricks were crumbling and ancient again.
And there was a sword-cut in my hat, I saw as I picked it up; and there was blood, fresh blood, on the base of the little bronze lamp. And so I blew out the flame that flickered so pale in the sunshine, and I wiped it off, and sat down, and thought and thought.
(MUSIC: FOR AN ACCENT . . . . . .)
MANFRED: Days later, when I went back to the year 1799, to a time two weeks after my first visit there, when I went back to arrange for masses to be said for the repose of the soul of Pedro Pablo Obregon late of Galway, I asked one of the good fathers to translate for me the worn, dim inscription incised into the base of the lamp. "It is hard to read," he told me, "for the letters are different, old." But it was Latin, and at last he made it out. [PRAETERITUS PLURIES, FUTURUS SEMEL] "The past many times[,"] [X]it said[/X] "The past many times, the future but once."
And I wondered then, and I wished that I had had more time to talk with Obregon, and learn of his excursions into the past, and whether he had possessed the hardihood to take his one trip into the future. For truth to tell, I myself had not.
But I made many trips back and learned many things, which you may have exclaimed at in my books. Yes, I was there; I saw John FrÃ©mont, and PÃo Pico was my friend, and I saw the marchers behind the Bear flag in the days of the California Republic. And I knew many people, whose names are in history now. I knew them and they knew me, and we were friends.
You ask how? I have but to light my lamp, and think of a time and I am there. There are only two restrictions; one, that I can change only time, not place. If I wish to see Chicago in the mid-nineties, I must go to Chicago; if I would watch the battle of Hastings in 1066, I must go to England. And the other-I may see the future only once. And I find myself incapable of choosing a time in the future which I would want to see. But let us speak of the past a while longer.
[se ballastra vida Carmela]
MANFRED: Do you know the old Vicente de la Osa adobe, in Encino, where Balboa Street runs into Ventura Boulevard? The long, low adobe house with the thick walls, and the broad fountain in the yard? You must have driven past it dozens of times.
I lived there, with my wife, ConcepciÃ³n (Conchita) Morales, all through the year 1821.
I think that was the happiest period of my life. Yes, the little bronze lamp was a priceless gift. A gift that no mortal should ever possess, I am afraid. For there were certain things.....
Immutable laws governed it. I have no idea where it came from, who discovered its powers, who fixed its powers. But ....it brought evil as well as good. Sorrow as well as joy. Punishment, shall we say, for the possession of such transcendent powers?
I had hoped that with the lamp, I would be enabled to live again certain happy days. But I found that once lived, those days were forever gone.
I remember how I found it out.
It was not always easy to explain my long absences from Conchita and our home in the Valley. I couldn't say, "Corazon, I have been visiting other times"! I did the best I could, and almost always Conchita was satisfied, and happy that I had returned.
But there was the time when I had been away, and miscalculated the time when I came back. It was six months later than I thought. And the house was dark and silent as I walked up the path. I called Conchita! Conchita! and there was no answer. Only old Tiburcio, her father, was there [X]sitting[/X] [squatting] in the darkness, and his quavering voice answered me.
TIBURCIO: Manfredo! Es te, Manfredo?
MANFRED: Hola, Tiburcio. Where's everybody?
TIBURCIO: You have been gone long time, Manfredo.
MANFRED: I'm sorry. I meant to get back earlier, but something happened, and I - how's Conchita? (THERE IS NO ANSWER) I'm hungry, and I - what's the matter, Tiburcio?
TIBURCIO: Que' dices?
MANFRED: I said I'm hungry. Mucho tengo hambre. What's to eat?
TIBURCIO: No es nada.
MANFRED: What's that? What's the matter? Where's Conchita?
TIBURCIO: Conchita.....is dead.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT ...)
MANFRED: What did you say, Tiburcio?
TIBURCIO: She died four days ago, Manfredo. Your child was born -
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT ...)
TIBURCIO: and she died.
(A PAUSE AND THEN)
(MUSIC: ... QUIETLY, A LAMENT, WHICH HOLDS AND FADES TO BG ...)
MANFRED: And I turned and went away and sat by the fountain for a long, long time. My child. My child would live and die before I was born. My wife.....
And I dried my tears as I suddenly thought, "Why, I can bring her back! All I've got to do is light the lamp again, and think of a time long before this, and she'll be back. And I did, and I found myself [still] in the same time, with old Tiburcio huddled in the shadow of the house, and Conchita dead.
No, there are limitations to everything: if I had not been such a fool I would have thrown the lamp away and come back to my own time to live out my life.
But I didn't.
I planted an acacia tree beside her grave. You can find it perhaps, some day, if you're near the old de la Osa house. Today it's withered and dead of old age. I planted it with these hands, and it is more than a hundred years old.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT ... [AND END])
MANFRED: I never went back to the old days at the de la Osa house. I've been past there a number of times. I know where the grave is, and the acacia, and I know where to find our initials, Conchita's and mine, scratched with a Spanish dagger in the 'dobe wall when it was soft and fresh. But it is a place of sorrow and remembered happiness for me, and I seldom go there.
But I have been many places.
I did not meet George Washington. I talked with Baron von Steuben at Valley Forge, but the General himself was unapproachable. I watched the Custer massacre from a hilltop above the Little Big Horn, and I could tell you some interesting facts about that fight. I saw Marie Antoinette mount the steps to the scaffold in Paris, and I turned away in sick horror, and when I had lighted my lamp again I found myself in the midst of a crowd celebrating Lindbergh's flight from the United States.
I knew a man in Newyork named Sydney Breese, and I sat in an old house where a skyscraper stands now and watched Sydney carving his own tombstone. And you can see the tombstone yourself, if you're walking past Trinity Churchyard some day, in Newyork. "Ha, Sydney, Sydney, liest thou here?" it reads, and I remember how Sydney laughed as he tapped away at the inscription....
Yes; the little lamp has taken me many places.
And my books, they say, are accurate, marvels of detail.
I wonder, did the Irishman in Spanish uniform ever visit this age, on his one excursion into the future?
Did the others who owned it before him, come and stare curiously at us?
Or were they as feared of the future, of seeing the future too soon, as I was?
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT ...)
MANFRED: The years, the long years, have taken a heavy toll.
The Indian arrow in my shoulder at Fort Dearborn... The fever in the swamps with Hernando Cortes' army in Mexico.... The slash I got in my leg from the baby dinosaur in Arizona half a million years ago....
And [all] the sorrows, [all] the sadnesses....
I learned some interesting facts last night. My doctor. Katherine Sprague Hunter, M. D. A practical, hard-headed woman; a friend; my doctor. Last night we sat late, and spoke of many things. Many things.
DOCTOR: Of course I believe it, Manfred. I find it difficult to believe it, but ... yes, I believe it.
MANFRED: I'm glad you do. I was afraid ...
DOCTOR: I rather envy you.
MANFRED: Don't envy me, Katherine.
MANFRED: I've too many things on my conscience; things that came about through this lamp, you know. (A PAUSE) Peter Paul O'Brien, that I murdered -
DOCTOR: Let's not say murdered, Manfred.
MANFRED: Murdered. In 1799. And Conchita.
DOCTOR: That you couldn't help, you know.
MANFRED: I don't know. Perhaps if I'd come back sooner ...
DOCTOR: You never know. If you could have had adequate medical attention, perhaps ...
MANFRED: If I could have gone back earlier, and taken you back with me ....
DOCTOR: You couldn't do that, though.
MANFRED: No. Only myself. I - I feel a sense of inadequacy, Katherine. I feel that with this amazing power, I should have done something with it. Something for other people, instead of for myself alone. I wish ...
DOCTOR: Your books, you know.
MANFRED: Yes, I know. The books. But after all - and now, after what you've told me tonight .....
(THERE IS A LONG SILENCE)
MANFRED: It's too late. Isn't it?
DOCTOR: I don't know.
MANFRED: But you said ...
DOCTOR: I said I'm afraid you haven't too much time, Manfred. I said you had better begin to set your affairs in order.
MANFRED: They're in order. As much in order as they ever will be.
DOCTOR: After you told me the story about the lamp, I wondered...
DOCTOR: If perhaps there weren't some loose ends somewhere ... sometime, I mean ... that might need catching up.
MANFRED: No, I don't think so. No. I think not. Except ... as I said ... I wish there were at least a few things I could do. For someone else.
DOCTOR: You know about that, Manfred. I don't.
MANFRED: If I ... if I could have taken back a gift of .... happiness ... to someone. But I didn't. When I got the lamp, I killed a man. When I met Conchita ... (HE STOPS) I sat and watched Custer's men being slaughtered ...
DOCTOR: What could you have done?
MANFRED: I might have fought with them. I might have contributed -
DOCTOR: Contributed your own death. What good would that have done?
MANFRED: Maybe I'd been happier.
DOCTOR: I think not.
MANFRED: I've been handed the greatest opportunity of all time, and - what have I done with it?
DOCTOR: (AFTER A PAUSE) Manfred, why are you so afraid of the future?
MANFRED: (AFTER A PAUSE) What makes you think I'm afraid of the future?
DOCTOR: You are. Aren't you?
MANFRED: Not afraid of it.
DOCTOR: Yes, you are.
MANFRED: Well ... who isn't? The past ... that's happened; we know about it. We can take care of ourselves in the past. But ... the future ...
DOCTOR: But the future is the place where you might find that gift you want to bring to humanity. [X]To others, if you don't like the pomposity.[/X]
MANFRED: I don't know.
DOCTOR: Something's there. Something that might help us if we know a little about it.
DOCTOR: You say you owe a debt, Manfred.
MANFRED: Yes, but ... (HE FALLS SILENT)
DOCTOR: I don't want to remind you of what I told you tonight, but -
MANFRED: (SIGHS) How long have I got, Katherine?
DOCTOR: Shall I tell you?
MANFRED: Tell me.
DOCTOR: You may have six months.
DOCTOR: Or you may have ten years.
MANFRED: But the six months is more likely.
DOCTOR: (AFTER A PAUSE) Yes, it is. Or ...
MANFRED: Or what?
DOCTOR: Or less.
MANFRED: (AFTER A PAUSE) Katherine, I'm afraid.
DOCTOR: It's your decision, Manfred. (A PAUSE) But there's not much time.
MANFRED: What if I find -
MANFRED: Well, if I find I'm dead when I go into the future? Would that be suicide?
DOCTOR: You might be dead an hour from now, Manfred.
DOCTOR: You, or I, or anyone.
MANFRED: But - Katherine, to go away into uncertainty with this death sentence of yours hanging over me - I'm frightened.
DOCTOR: You don't have to go, Manfred. But you said -
MANFRED: I remember what I said. (A PAUSE) After all, I don't suppose it makes much difference when I die.
DOCTOR: I think I would welcome the opportunity to see what is ahead of us.[/X]
MANFRED: Maybe I wouldn't be able to come back.
DOCTOR: You have only to light the lamp, you said.
MANFRED: I know, but ...(HE PONDERS) They might not let me come back.
MANFRED: The people I'll find. Maybe they'll be so ... advanced they won't want to let any of their secrets come back to us. After all, we could affect their own time, you know.[/X]
DOCTOR: I rather think they would be glad to help us. Because anything we might do with their secrets could conceivably help them.
MANFRED: Yes, I suppose. I suppose so.
DOCTOR: Well, think it over, Manfred.
MANFRED: I will.
DOCTOR: Telephone me in the morning.
MANFRED: All right.
DOCTOR: Good night.
MANFRED: Good night.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
MANFRED: I sat there for a long time, thinking it all over. It is something of a shock to be told that you are near the inevitable close of your life. To know that death is so irrevocably near. I think that [X]fact[/X] faded from my mind in those black hours, and only the overpowering curiosity remained, the curiosity that Katherine had set afire in me. I know only that the clock was striking four when I pinched out a last cigarette and reached over for the lamp. I was quite calm as I touched the flame of my lighter to the wick, and I said aloud "I wish I could see the future."
(THERE IS A LONG, LOW ROLLING OF THUNDER, UNLIKE THE PREVIOUS SOUNDS)
MANFRED: The tiny flame from the lamp cast its beams almost in vain. For the room that I sat in was only a shell of what it had been. The floor was ripped and torn, with great jagged holes in it. The walls had almost disappeared. I could look out over the city from any angle. And the little light from my lamp was the only light there was, anywhere.
I called out; there was no answer. I called again; still there was nothing but the oppressive silence. I moved; a part of the wall collapsed beside me.
And in the east the first glow of the sunrise brightened the morning, and I put out the light of the lamp. I do not know how long I stood there in the ruined room, unmoving, gazing out on a scene of desolation such as man has never seen before. And as the sun rose higher into the forbiddingly dark sky, new scenes of ruin and ashes came into view. There was nothing.
The city was gone. As far as the eye could see.. desolation. And one living man to view it.
No, I don't know how far into the future I went. I said, "I wish I could see the future" you remember. It may be that the time I am in is a hundred years from your time. A hundred, or five, or one hour. But it is the future. And how shall I come back to you?
The lamp is out. There is no way here to light it again. My matches... I have none. My lighter is on the table in this room, somewhere in the past.
If I could light the lamp, I could return, and perhaps there is some way that we could work together and plan and eventually avoid this doom which I alone have seen with my own eyes.
There might be time. [X], if only I could come back to you, and bring you the word.[/X]
But how can I [X]do it now[/X] [come back]? Who is there to light the lamp for me? And for you?
(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR)
ANNCR: The title of today's "Quiet, Please!" story was "Light the Lamp for Me." It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and the man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.
CHAPPELL: And Pat O'Malley played the Irish soldier; [X]Sid Cassell[/X] [Floyd Buckley] was Tiburcio, and the doctor was Kathleen Niday.
The music for "Quiet, Please!" is played by Albert Buhrmann. Now for a word about next week's "Quiet, Please!" story, here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper
COOPER: Next week's story is called "Meet John Smith, John."
[I've written you a story that I call Meet John Smith John]
[CHAPPELL: And so till next week I am EC]
(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR)
ANNCR: THIS IS ABC.. THE AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANY.