CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
ANNOUNCER: The American Broadcasting Company presents "Quiet, Please!" which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and which features Ernest Chappell. Your "Quiet, Please!" story for tonight takes its name from the title of the series, "Quiet, Please!"
TOR: There are books left.
Many books and I suppose I've read them all. I remember things, too. I remember a long white road between the shoulders of the hills.
(MUSIC ... NOSTALGIC ... IN BG)
TOR: And the distant clusters of the live oaks against the uplands beyond. And the wide, light blue of the sky. There was a wind that wandered the edges of the hills that brought the soft smell of the sea so that it mingled with the loamy scent of the grass and made a perfume that I have not smelt in so many years.
There was a great plain where the hills fell away in tumbled, rocky magnificence. A plain all cut into green and brown and yellowing squares. And a little stream with bridges of stone that strolled its way across the wide plain and sparkled at last into the distant Western ocean.
There was life on the hills and on the plains. The field beasts that moved serenely through the pleasant grasses and rested at noon under the shadowed kindness of the green-gray oaks. There were men - and cheerful women - in the white-walled houses where the road curved. And the children that played noisily and sweetly in the cottage dooryards -- are long since dust.
Shall I tell you of the graceful beaches where the sound of the surf was a measured, majestic melody we thought would never cease? Shall I speak of the great ships, prone upon the breast of the ocean -- the ships that are seen no more?
SOUND: (WIND, THUNDER, RAIN - AS DESCRIBED)
TOR: Would you hear of the wind-whipped nights and the lightning in the forests? And the gentle rain in the dawn-time?
Would you remember? And not forget? I remember.
I alone remember.
This was a temple. And this, a place dedicated to the arts. And there, where the waves sped upon the beach, the shattered walls of stone we made remain to mock us. And there, where the white road was, is the desolation. The winds die down and the sun wanes and the moon is sickly.
Yet I remember the lights on the hillsides and the stars above them, wheeling their ancient way across the sky. There was a day when I could name them all. They seem - very far away tonight. Antares and Betelgeuse and Aldebaran. Arcturus and Vega and Procyon. In these days, Orion the Mighty Hunter draws away from us and the glory of Berenice's Hair is thinned in the heavens.
I would welcome the sound of the thunder again on the horizon. But all the manifestations of nature are ended. And only the twilight of eternity remains above the bleakness. I would welcome the voice of a hungry wolf even, this night. Or the hiss of the serpents that once we hated, that once we trampled upon. I would welcome even the voice of old Krogh and listen with delight - and laugh happily to hear him tell again the schemes he dreamed - that brought us to this end.
(MUSIC OUT AS WE CROSSFADE TO)
KROGH: So though it is true that men cannot live without wars amongst themselves, why should not we be the ones to win the wars? Every man plots against every other. And men speak of honor and laws and fair fighting. But, if a war is to be won, then do away with fairness and honor - and let us win - and be the Masters - and they, the Slaves.
TOR: Yes, I could laugh to hear that voice.
(MUSIC IN BG)
TOR: And to see those hard black eyes glitter again in the light of the little lamps. I could take old Krogh and lift him up and say, "Look upon your work, old Krogh! Your work and mine and the work of all of those who could not live without wars!"
But Krogh is dust - and may not speak. And for a little time while I live, the dust shall speak its final words to those who would listen.
(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE)
TOR: It was a fair world, our world. And I would not have you believe that all who dwelt in it were like old Krogh, plotting wars and seeding the countrysides with discontent. We knew love, too - and all the virtues. Some of them we even practiced.
I am old now and my speech is set in somber ways - for I've looked on somber things for long. But there was a time when I was young in this very world and my speech was the speech of the young of every world. Careless, gay, happy.
And there was one whose speech was like mine. Young and gay and very dear to me. ... Morna.
(MUSIC ... ROMANTIC)
TOR: There was a night - on the shores of the lake - when there was music and laughter and lights somewhere in the distance. And we sat alone together. And I remember - I would speak. But Morna laid a hand on my lips. And laughed.
MORNA: [chuckles softly]
TOR: And spoke.
MORNA: [softly, sweetly] Quiet, please.
TOR: And for a long time there was only the music. And we watched the stars.
(ROMANTIC MUSIC UP ... THEN BACKGROUND FOR A PLAYFUL CONVERSATION)
MORNA: Tor? Do you love me?
TOR: Silly question.
MORNA: Do you?
TOR: What do you think?
MORNA: Know what I think?
MORNA: I don't think you love me very much.
TOR: You don't?
MORNA: If you loved me, you'd kiss me.
TOR: Well, lean over this way.
MORNA: Why, you conceited creature!
TOR: You're the one that wanted to be kissed.
MORNA: Well, I don't any more.
TOR: All right. Just for that, you're going to get kissed. Come here.
MORNA: Tor! Look out, you're mussing my hair.
TOR: [whispers] Quiet, please.
(A PAUSE AS THEY KISS)
MORNA: Why, Tor, you do love me.
TOR: [dead serious] There just aren't any words to tell you, Morna.
MORNA: Hold me, darling.
TOR: [narrates] Then the music began again and we sat silently and the stars moved above us.
MORNA: The stars are so beautiful tonight.
TOR: They're not all stars.
MORNA: What? What are they, then?
TOR: Some of 'em are planets.
MORNA: Oh, smarty.
MORNA: Tor? Do you suppose there are people on some of the other planets?
MORNA: Earth. That's the nearest one, isn't it?
TOR: Mm, I think so.
MORNA: Do you suppose there are people there?
TOR: I wouldn't know.
MORNA: People that look like us and have - have music and - and nights like this?
TOR: Nobody on Earth - could have a night like this.
MORNA: You sweet-- No, I mean it, Tor. Do you suppose they have houses and automobiles and wonderful stores like ours and - and they have babies like we do and - everything?
(MUSIC ... MATCHES TOR'S MOCK OMINOUS DESCRIPTION)
TOR: And they're probably eighty feet tall and have six arms and sixteen eyes!
MORNA: Oh, no! Now, Tor--
TOR: And someday they'll come roaring out of space at us in terrific big space ships and disintegrator guns and death rays--
MORNA: And we'll say "Boo!" at them - and they'll all turn 'round and go right back where they came from.
(MUSIC ... REFLECTIVE)
TOR: Maybe they will. ... And maybe they won't.
MORNA: What would we do if they invaded us from Earth, Tor?
MORNA: I hope we're not alive when it happens.
TOR: Yeah, so do I.
MORNA: Or - maybe they'd be nice.
TOR: Don't kid yourself about that.
MORNA: I wonder what they call our world?
TOR: Why, probably the same thing we do.
TOR: Well, sure. Why not? After all, it IS Mars, isn't it?
(MUSIC ... A PLAYFUL ACCENT)
TOR: [narrates] No, we were not eighty feet tall, either. We did not have six arms or sixteen eyes and we didn't dream of conquering your world, either. We were like you. We were human beings, too. And we lived and loved and worked - and died - very much as you do.
Look upon your own Earth if you would see us as we were. Stand at your window tonight and look out upon the lights of your fellow beings' homes. Look upon the faces of your sleeping children and see the reflection of ours. Let your mind's eye wander across your oceans, beyond your mountains. See all the lights of the world and its darknesses and the sun rising again beyond. Let your thoughts dwell upon the people of your Earth - and you shall know us as we were. Neither happier nor sadder. Neither better nor worse.
Old Krogh, the prophet of war, muttering away of disaster, might be one of your own. Morna, with her golden hair and her laughing eyes, might be the girl you passed unseeing in the street this afternoon.
And the triumphal arch to a long-dead general, brooding above a little park in the city where children race and shout, might be the one that stood in a city in another world, a hundred yards from where I speak to you. And here, no stone remains upon another.
Old Krogh has said that wars are inevitable. Have you found it so?
(MUSIC COMMENTS, THEN OUT)
TOR: In the years when I was a reporter for a great newspaper, I sat in his study and heard him speak to us - and, through us, to all our world.
KROGH: [fades in] History is written from the standpoint of the winners of the wars. And thus wars are essential to the progress of the race. Had our enemies won in the last war, then their cause would have proved the just one. And we - by losing - would have been in the wrong. For future events would then have shaped themselves upon the basis of THEIR winning. And the decisions would have been irrevocable. Future history would be changed -- our nation's bid for leadership forgotten. And thus it will always be.
TOR: [after a pause, hushed narration] Then, there was silence in the room for a little time. And, at last, I spoke. "Dr. Krogh," I said:
[out loud] Dr. Krogh?
KROGH: Well, son?
TOR: Dr. Krogh, fifty years ago, we fought a war. Were we right?
KROGH: We won. And, by winning, we charted the course of history in the fifty years since. Had they won, the last fifty years might have been very different.
TOR: And which is right?
KROGH: What is right, son? And what is wrong?
(MUSIC ... A DARK ACCENT, THEN BG)
TOR: [narrates] And then another war came against another nation and the ones we had defeated before were allied with us. And old Krogh made notes in a great black book that was one day to be published to all our world. But no man's eyes save his have seen it.
But the sands are running out. Let me speak of the things that have perished. Our cities where people worked at a hundred occupations. And the muddied, brown slums of the cities and the great green parks. Go out tomorrow in your own city and set your feet upon the smooth concrete of the sidewalk. See the gleaming windows and marvel at the wonders within them that you men have created.
Touch the garment of a passerby and joy to know that this, too, this humble thing, man has created. And know that, too, I have done these things. And that I have seen man destroy them. And that I helped.
Do you know the good black smell of the mold in the earth in springtime? Does your heart leap at the first green shoots of the bounty that lies in that earth? Have you seen the lilies? And heard the bells of your churches?
The bells rang in my world once.
The flowers bloomed and men laughed and sang.
We have run our course - the course we chose, back to the ineffable dust from which we sprang.
(MUSIC ... COMMENTS MOURNFULLY)
TOR: There was another time - when Morna and I had been married for many years - and the war that had raged across our world had at last flickered out and died. We sat 'long a table that night, silently, speechless, dreaming of a world purged by fire and sword - and full again of the promise of peace and, perhaps, happiness.
MORNA: I'm glad you didn't have to go, Tor.
TOR: I suppose I shouldn't say so - but I am, too.
MORNA: You're not a coward, Tor.
TOR: I - I don't think I am, Morna. But--
MORNA: Now we can get started all over again.
TOR: Yeah, we need so many things we haven't been able to get.
MORNA: I can hardly wait to go shopping.
TOR: [laughs] I bet. Well, at least we can afford them.
MORNA: Some of them. It's just a shame, isn't it?
MORNA: I hate those people. The things they've done to us. All those boys dead and our cities smashed.
TOR: Well, they lost the war, though.
MORNA: And we killed plenty of them.
TOR: Yes, yes, we did.
MORNA: We should've killed them all!
TOR: [playful] Quiet, please, dear.
MORNA: [chuckles] All right. You're always saying that, though, to shut me up.
TOR: [chuckles] Well, it helps, doesn't it?
MORNA: Well, I suppose.
TOR: If we could have only said it to them when the war started -- "Quiet, please" -- they'd have gone away.
MORNA: We said it, all right -- only in a different way.
TOR: Yes. They'll be quiet for a long time -- some of 'em. And some of us.
SOUND: (KNOCK AT THE DOOR)
MORNA: Who's that?
TOR: Well, I know a good way to find out.
MORNA: Well, you go -- I've got my apron on.
TOR: All right.
SOUND: (KNOCK AT THE DOOR, DOOR OPENS)
DALE: [after a pause] Well? Hello, Tor.
TOR: [stunned] Dale! Where ya--? Dale!! When did you get back?!
DALE: Just now.
MORNA: [calls out] Who is it, Tor?!
TOR: [calls out] It's--!
DALE: [to Tor] Ssshhh. [to Morna, playful] Hi, Morna, I'm home.
MORNA: [amazed] Dale!
(TOR and DALE chuckle at her reaction.)
MORNA: Oh, Dale, are you all right?
DALE: Sure. Hey! Don't break my rib.
TOR: Ha ha! It's great to see ya, boy!
TOR: Oh, it's wond--! [startled, hushed] Oh, excuse me.
DALE: [chuckles] Well, I wondered when you were going to pay attention.
MORNA: I was so glad to see you. [genuinely apologetic] I'm sorry.
TOR: Well, who--?
DALE: I want you to - meet my wife.
MORNA: [deeply moved] Dale, how wonderful.
TOR: [genuinely pleased] Why, you old son of a gun! Really? Aw, that's--!
DALE: [laughs] Rae, this is my sister Morna.
RAE: [nervous, quiet, heavy accent] How do you do?
DALE: And her husband, my brother-in-law, Tor.
RAE: How do you do?
MORNA: [genuinely, to Rae] Why, you darling. I'm so glad.
RAE: [relieved] Thank you. Thank you. It's so nice to know these people.
TOR: Well, come in, come in!
(LAUGHTER and CROSSTALK)
MORNA: Oh, I'm so glad to see you, Dale. And Rae.
DALE: Go ahead, Rae.
RAE: Thank you.
SOUND: (DOOR CLOSES)
TOR: We haven't - we haven't heard from you for so long, Dale, we - we were beginning to get worried.
DALE: Oh, I - I was all right. Didn't get a scratch.
DALE: Say, place looks about the same. Er, where's old Shep?
TOR: Ah, he died last summer, Dale.
DALE: Ohhh, I'm sorry about that. He was the greatest dog in the world, Rae.
MORNA: Well, sit down, sit down. Have you had supper?
DALE: Yes. Sure.
MORNA: Wouldn't you like some coffee, Rae?
RAE: Er, uh, I would love it.
MORNA: I'll make some fresh.
RAE: Mm, no, this will be fine.
SOUND: (COFFEE POURED, CUPS CLINKING, ETC.)
RAE: I'm finding it hard to get used to coffee again.
TOR: [after a slight pause] Well, how was the war, Dale?
DALE: [darkly] I got all the war I want.
RAE: [practically having an orgasm over the coffee] Ahhh, the coffee, Dale. Thank you, sister. Ahhh, good, good. Ahhh.
DALE: [explains] Uh, she hasn't had much coffee the last seven years.
MORNA: What? Why, you poor thing. Why not, Dale? Why hasn't she had coffee?
SOUND: (COFFEE CUP SET DOWN)
RAE: [resigned, unhappy] We'd better tell them, Dale.
TOR: Tell us?
DALE: [uncomfortable but evenly] Well... Rae was one of our enemies.
TOR: [a slight pause] What do you mean by that, Dale?
MORNA: Was she?
RAE: Should we go, Dale?
DALE: [a slight pause] Thanks for the coffee, Morna. Tor.
MORNA: Where are you going, sister?!
TOR: Sit down, sister.
RAE: [a quiet cry of relief]
MORNA: Do you think I'd throw my brand new sister-in-law out of my house? [decisively] Come on, let's go make some fresh coffee. Lots of it.
(MUSIC ... ACCENT, THEN OUT)
TOR: [narrates] And in the early hours of the morning, I was awakened by Morna's sobbing. I put my arm around her.
MORNA: [sobs] Oh, that - that poor child. They - actually thought we were going to turn her out. Oh, Tor, how can people think such dreadful thoughts of us? And she's so sweet.
(MUSIC ... ACCENT, THEN UNDER)
TOR: [narrates] No. I have never solved the problem, either. Why people can love individually and hate collectively. And the children of Rae and Dale were very dear to me -- no different from the other children who played with them in our yard, who went to school with them, who read history with them. I suppose it's only strangers we hate for Rae was a daughter of the nation we had fought bitterly with - and yet when our friends became acquainted with her, they, too, grew to love her. And some of those who wept most bitterly at her funeral were the ones who at first had pointed her out as the "enemy woman."
Well, Krogh said wars are inevitable. Perhaps they are. There has never been a year in all the thousand centuries of our recorded history when there has not been a war in some part of our planet. And always, history told us, men have been striving for a means to end it. A war to end war, they said. [sighs, darkly] A war to end war.
They achieved it.
They ended everything.
SOUND: (THUNDER? EXPLOSION? THE END OF A WORLD?)
TOR: Wars have grown more and more destructive. And, at last, men laid wicked fingers upon secrets that were not for men to know. Men have always pried at the locks that Nature has set upon her deepest secrets, seeking the power that was never intended for them. And, step by tedious step, they came to the final, awful knowledge, to the very corridor of Creation - and of Destruction.
Ours was a fair world, I said.
(MUSIC IN AND UNDER ... THE ROMANTIC THEME HEARD EARLIER)
TOR: There was beauty in everything. Beauty in the mornings and in the red sunsets. Beauty in the long, low hills and the mountains that bore themselves majestically aloof above us. And beauty, too, in the humble things of our world, the - the simple, unnoticed things that ...
TOR: ... that haunt my memory tonight:
A turning wheel.
The flight of a bird.
The sound of a train whistle in the night.
The rustle of wind in the trees.
And, unforgettably, the voices of people. The voice of old Krogh.
(MUSIC IN AND UNDER)
KROGH: Now, we have the supreme weapon. There is no defense. And the weapon will bring us undisputed mastery of all the planet.
(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)
TOR: But why should we be masters of the world? Why should any one people be the masters? Is it not written how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity? Men said that. Cannot men practice it?
And the voice of Morna:
MORNA: [exultant] There will never be any more war after this next one, Tor. Every one of our enemies will be destroyed. And we'll live happily ever after!
TOR: No, Morna, there never will be war again. There never will be anything again. For now, Morna, men have plotted against the green hillsides and the towering mountains. They have declared war upon the flowers and the grass and the forests. They have made our planet an altar on which to sacrifice us all.
And the voice of Dale:
DALE: I'll not go to war again. If they bring it to me, I'll fight. But they'll have to bring it to me.
(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)
TOR: They brought it to you, Dale. They brought it to your very home, to your doorstep, to the gay little blue and white curtains at your windows. And you died before you knew it.
TOR: And the voice of Rae, the displaced person, the alien in a strange land:
RAE: Who is my enemy now? Dale was my enemy once. And you and - Morna. And now you are my own people as surely as if I had been born among you. Who will be my enemy when this new war is done?
(MUSIC ... A SOMBER ACCENT, THEN UNDER)
TOR: You'll have no enemy, Rae. For there will be none left to hate. Or to love. Fortunate for you that you died before the war came. Your last sight was of the faces of those who loved you.
And my own voice, speaking to you at long last, remembering the thoughts we had of you -- of towering eighty foot giants swarming down upon us out of the cold black reaches of space, seeking to prey upon us and conquer us and at last destroy us.
Did you have thoughts of us as demons, too?
Did you think because we were another world, we must be monsters ravening for your blood?
We were not.
We were people like you.
Older, perhaps, but with the same instincts you have, the very same.
We gloried in the summertime and the white winters. We loved individually and hated collectively, as you do. We lived. We fought.
Your astronomers have watched us for so many years, speculating on the possibility of life here. Well, there was life. Great cities, wide peaceful farms, tall dams holding back the might of great rivers, great deserts flowering in the spring with all the dazzling lavishness that can be packed into a brief span of life. We had rivers and oceans and lakes. Forests and deep valleys. Great monuments to our dead. Giant buildings to house our living. We had music and books and great schools. And statesmen.
Your astronomers tell you of the canals that cover our planet. I saw those canals created. I saw the solid earth splash and boil beneath me. I saw the mountains melt into rivers of molten fiery stole. I saw the great tawny mushrooms of cloud erupt from the floor of the ocean. And I smelt destruction near at hand.
Yes, there will be no more wars on our planet.
There is only silence and cold.
And dust - that was once a people and a civilization.
There is only one man -- I, Tor, the last man of Mars -- to say the last words.
The two moons that circle our planet are rising now -- Phobos and Deimos, Fear and Madness. Death Himself marches back to the black-creped cavern and he pauses beside me to lay his icy fingers upon my arm.
This - is the end of the world - and the people - that you might have mistaken for your very selves.
Honor us at last with your silence at the end.
And pray, friends of Earth.
Pray -- not for us, for that is too late.
Pray for yourselves.
ANNOUNCER: You have listened to "Quiet, Please!" which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. The man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.
CHAPPELL: And others in the cast were Floyd Buckley as Krogh, Vinton Hayworth as Dale and Lotte Stavisky as Rae. Morna was played by Claudia Morgan, Mrs. Ernest Chappell. Music for "Quiet, Please!" is by Albert Buhrmann.
This present series of "Quiet, Please!" comes to an end with this broadcast, after more than two years. We've enjoyed bringing these stories to you. Thanks for your comments. My personal gratitude to my friend and associate Bill Cooper for his writing, counsel and cooperation. Here he is, Bill Cooper.
COOPER: Thank you for listening to "Quiet, Please!" Thank you, Chappy. Thank you, Bill McClintock. Thank you, Bert Buhrmann. Thank you, Bob [Dockerty?]. And thank you, all you people. I hope we'll meet again sometime.
CHAPPELL: For those interested, the "Quiet, Please!" theme is based on the second movement of the Cesar Franck D Minor Symphony.
So, for the last time, this is Ernest Chappell saying ... quietly yours.
ANNOUNCER: This is ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.
(MUSIC ... THEME ... END)