Let the Lilies Consider
Announcer: Quiet Please… Quiet Please
(Theme up and under)
The Mutual Broadcasting System presents Quiet Please, which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappell. Quiet Please for tonight is called “Let the Lilies Consider”
(Theme up and out)
James: (fading in) Yes, I quite understand. I quite understand. Your stenographer is taking down everything I say, and you and you are witnesses. When the stenographer transcribes his notes, I’m to sign them and that is my… confession… is that right? And whatever I say may be used against me, is… is that right? Oh, I’ll sign them all right. Where do you want me to start? At the beginning I suppose.
(Organ Bridge and fade to background)
All right, for your record my name is James R. James … Roderick… forty-one, third generation American, college graduate, U.C.L.A University of California Los Angeles. No occupation. No… not unemployed, no occupation. Well, I have a small, but adequate income. You have my address. I was married and… oh… Gretchen, Gretchen Mcmonish. Yes, Gretchen is a diminutive of Margaret… Margaret Mcmonish. An orphan.
Policeman: Where’s you wife now James?
James: Please don’t try to trap me, Lieutenant, I’ve told you at least twenty times where she is.
Policeman: Tell me again!
James: Right there… THERE!
Policeman: Look James we dug that place up twice now. Your wife isn’t there. Now where is she?
James: (sounding desperate) I’ve told you…
Policeman: What did you do with her?
James: (sounding desperate) I didn’t do anything with her Lieutenant (angrily) I’ve told you that!
Policeman: All right. Go on.
James: I… met her at school, in nineteen thirty…
Policeman: Did you bury her in the flowerbed there!?
James: May I go on?
Policeman: Answer my question! Did you bury her?
James: NO, I DID NOT!
Policeman: Then why do you keep saying she’s there?
Policeman: YOU KILLED HER!
Policeman: WELL SHE’S DEAD, WHAT KILLED HER?
James: I’VE TOLD YOU SHE ISN’T DEAD!
Policeman: You can’t prove it James!
James: I can prove it Lieutenant, but you won’t believe it.
Policeman: Why don’t you prove it then?
James: Shall I… go on with my statement?
Policeman: Did you plant that lily there to mark her grave James?
James: I didn’t PLANT THAT LILY!
Policeman: HOW COME IT GROWS THERE? HOW COME IT’S SO MUCH BIGGER THAN THE OTHERS? ANSWER ME!
James: There were other lilies there… alongside it, before you and your men dug them up.
Policeman: James I think I know why that lily is bigger than the others.
James: You do?
Policeman: Yes and so do you.
James: You’re wrong Lieutenant.
Policeman: You know why we left that lily standing James when we dug up the others?
Policeman: Because we know what’s under it there! Because we figured the lily would remind you, would keep you thinking about your wife buried there! Because we hoped it might lead you to a confession!
James: It… won’t Lieutenant.
Policeman: Ya know, I have an idea that that lily there is going to hang you, James.
James: No it isn’t. That lily loves me.
(Organ bridge and fades to background)
Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow. They toil not; neither do they spin. Yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Policeman: What are you talking about?
James: We… consider the lilies and some of us love them. Do you suppose the lilies consider us and… sometimes return our love?
Policeman: I don’t think you’ll get by with an insanity plea James.
James: I don’t know very much about flowers. I don’t know anything about them from the standpoint of books. I’m not interested in stamens and pistils and… and the anatomy of flowers. Well, I’m interested in their souls! In their… yes in their souls. I believe flowers love and hate just as people do.
Policeman: Shall we get along with your statement?
James: Yes… they love us and… and hate us in the proportions of the love or the hate we have for them. I’ve said I’ve always loved flowers. My wife, Gretchen, (organ stops) she hated them. And they loved me! Gretchen…
Gretchen: You know James, I declare, I don’t think these flowers like me at all. I can’t do a thing with them.
James: (Chuckles) You’ll learn. I… I’ll show you how to handle them.
Gretchen: I don’t think I want to handle them. James, must we have so many flowers?
James: Why… I like them, dear.
Gretchen: But so Many of them.
James: Well I haven’t anything else to do but… raise flowers.
Gretchen: I know that… that’s what bothers me. I don’t like to see you wasting all your time puttering around flowerbeds every single hour. Goodness I think it’s just kind of wicked James, when there are so many other things you could be doing!
James: Aren’t you happy?
Gretchen: Well of course I’m happy, but I could be happier if I didn’t have to compete with a lot of silly flowers!
James: Well I don’t think they’re silly.
Gretchen: Besides… there are so many lilies.
James: Well, they’re so beautiful.
Gretchen: They’re so depressing.
James: I love them.
Gretchen: That’s what bothers me James.
Gretchen: Well I’m… I’m jealous of them James.
Gretchen: James… you do love me more than you love the flowers, don’t you?
James: Isn’t that a pretty foolish question.
Gretchen: Look! Look at the lilies!
James: Why what do you…
Gretchen: Look at them! They’re listening! They’re waiting to hear what you say!
(Organ Bridge and fade to background)
James: And I looked. And I tell you there was a silence in the garden there that… that you could almost hear. And the lilies around us were leaning forward; leaning toward us as we stood there. And there was an attitude of expectancy about them. As their graceful stems bent toward us… trembling. They WERE listening! And suddenly Gretchen broke from my arms and ran sobbing into the house. Trampling their beautiful, delicate bodies underfoot as she ran. (Sighs) No I… I didn’t follow her. I stood for a long time in the twilight, considering these lilies of the field. And they… watched me; considering me in silence as I… lifted up the… murdered flowers from the marks of Gretchen’s shoes and the soil, and wept a moment for them. And I never did answer Gretchen’s question. I… I could have answered it, but she… never asked again. Perhaps she thought she knew the answer?
Policeman: So that’s why you killed her; because you thought more of the flowers than you did of her.
James: I didn’t kill her!
Policeman: Go on.
James: I did love Gretchen. I love her now more than I ever did!
Policeman: It sounds as if you did.
James: we were very happy for a long time… that winter. There are no flowers in the winter and she had no cause to feel neglected. It was very pleasant here in the house, but the spring came and the buds appeared on the trees, and one day she brought up the subject again.
Gretchen: James… what about the flowers this year?
James: I’m going to start on the gardens tomorrow.
Gretchen: I wish…
James: Wish what, darling?
Gretchen: Do we have to have the flowers again?
James: We don’t have to have them, but I want them.
Gretchen: It’s been so nice all winter without them.
James: I’ve missed them.
Gretchen: I’d hoped you’d maybe forgotten them, James.
James: FORGOTTEN THEM? Why darling I… I don’t think I could live without them.
Gretchen: If they all died… what would you do?
James: I don’t know.
Gretchen: Would you die?
James: Well… what are you talking about Gretchen?
Gretchen: I…I’m being very foolish and very silly, James, but… I don’t want the flowers, I hate the flowers!
James: Now dear…
Gretchen: I HATE THEM!
James: You mustn’t say that Gretchen! They’ll hate you.
Gretchen: That’s just what’s the matter! You let those flowers become an obsession with you! You’ve begun to feel that they’re alive, that they have feelings! You’re letting these things take you away from me and I won’t have it!
James: Gretchen, you’re being…
Gretchen: I said I was being silly. I know I am! But it’s the truth just the same! Oh, we could do so many things this summer, go to so may places…
James: But I don’t want to go places, Gretchen.
Gretchen: You did before you went so crazy over flowers! Over those horrible lilies!
James: Darling, they’re so beautiful…
Gretchen: YOU USED TO SAY I WAS BEAUTIFUL!
James: Well… you are.
Gretchen: But not as beautiful as the lilies. Am I!?
James: Wha… my dear you’re… you’re like a lily yourself. Your skin so white; your yellow hair, and that green dress…
Gretchen: DON’T YOU COMPARE ME WITH ONE OF THOSE THINGS! YOU HEAR ME! I’M NOT LIKE A FLOWER, I’LL NEVER BE LIKE A FLOWER!
James: Dear… please… don’t…
Gretchen: James… do you know what I think? Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with your mind. Sometimes I think you’re a little crazy! Do you realize that I’m your wife… do you? But you think you’re married to those flowers! I WON’T HAVE IT! You’ve got to choose between those dreadful (organ begins in background) flowers and me! (Organ up, bridge and into background)
ames: I wondered if my mind… was all right. There’s nothing wrong with loving flowers, is there? Almost everyone loves them, but for my wife to be… jealous of them. I wondered for a moment if it was my mind or… or hers. Yes, I did spend too much time in the gardens, I thought. And I resolved then for me to change my way, to devote only a few hours a day to cultivation and admiration of my precious lilies. I would compromise. I would try to follow my wife’s wishes to try to remember her first, instead of the flowers. I reckoned… without the flowers. I… planted only half as many this year, and Gretchen watched… sullenly… from the house. They came up eagerly, and I could have sworn that there were twice as many as I had planted. Gretchen wouldn’t speak to me for days at a time. And mornings when I awoke I would sometimes find her staring out the window at the lushness of the garden. And in her eyes, I saw a look of… awful hatred. It was her… attitude, I suppose, that... that lead me to spend more and more time in the garden. And the flowers rewarded me. They were more beautiful, more gracious, more abundant than I’ve ever seen! And they returned the loving care I gave them. They poured out their love for me in waves of scent. And their leaves caressed my hands as I bent over them. And as I labored among them they… they bent their perfect heads to brush against my cheek. (organ fades out)And for long hours I could forget…Gretchen… my wife.
(Organ resumes playing in background)
Until a rustle among the lilies caused me to look up, and see my wife standing at the window in the house, gazing out… hatefully at us. And the lilies… and I looked back at her with something of fear… in our hearts. (Organ bridge and fade to background)
And the garden grew and flourished beyond my fondest hopes. Slowly… I came to the realization that my garden of lilies was increasing in size! That there were Hundreds more than what I’d set out in the spring, and I smiled on them happily, and… the lilies smiled back at me. The lilies loved me. But there was a summer night, and a full moon, and I sat on the porch alone and dreamed of… (sighs) what did I dream of? (Faint noise in background) There was a voice. A murmurous voice above the little breeze in the garden, and the voice was without words, and yet is was the voice of a loved one… of a lover. And it spoke to me sadly; caressing me, in sounds that did not need the form of words. (Organ begins playing in background) And I sat there, alone in the darkness and listened.
Lilies: (repeating faintly) love you love you… (fades into background)
James: And at last the words came.
Lilies: (stronger) Love you
James: (softly) I love you. (At normal voice) Oh… why Gretchen!
Gretchen: James I can’t stand it any longer!
James: Why… why what’s the matter Gretchen?
Gretchen: I told you a long time ago that you got to choose between me and those flowers!
James: Now dear I…
Gretchen: I’m not going to live this house like a prisoner any longer! Those flowers are driving me mad! I never see you from morning to night! You’ve forgotten all about me! I… I don’t mean a thing to you!
James: Why that’s not true Gretchen, I…I do love you!
Gretchen: But you love those (Lilies began “love you” chant in background) those flowers more!
James: Gretchen… I…
Lilies: (chanting) love you…
James: Uh… I love you. (Lilies stop chant)
Gretchen: Then what are you going to do about it?
James: What shall I do?
Gretchen: DO YOU WANT THE FLOWERS OR DO YOU WANT ME?
Lilies: (chanting) love you…
Gretchen: CHOOSE JAMES!
James: (almost sobbing) Gretchen…
Lilies: (chanting) love you…
James: …I can’t! … I CAN’T!
(Organ Bridge and fade into background)
And Gretchen… turned away without another word… and went into the house. I… could not move. The chanting in my ears had become a… hypnotic lullaby now. And my eyes closed, and… I think I slept. And then suddenly I was awakened by Gretchen’s shrill laughter (sound of Gretchen insanely laughing in background) somewhere, and the flaring of a brilliant light. (Wild Organ Bridge and sting) and the garden was a sheet of flame. Among the lilies Gretchen dashed with a great torch she’d fashioned from a broom soaked with kerosene. The noble, tall lilies withered in its blast as she thrust it in their faces. And above the crackling of the flame, above her hysterical laughter (sound of Gretchen insanely laughing) I could hear the keening of strange lost voices (sound of the lilies crying), and I could make out words among the sounds of the catastrophe my wife had begun. And they were sad beyond belief. And I roused myself and I ran to the garden but I was too late. Like some avenging demon, my wife stood triumphant amid the scorched and blistered dying flowers, and she laughed again. Now she’d though she’d won and there were no more flowers to be jealous of! (Somber Organ Bridge)
(Organ in background) And when the sun… rose in the morning, I went… sadly out of the house to contemplate the miserable remains… of my loved ones. It was as if… nothing had happened on that dreadful night! The lilies that I had last seen smoldering in the moonlight had raised their smiling heads again! And there was no sign of fire about them! And… listen to this you who refuse to believe flowers too live and… reason and love; there were thousands more lilies now than the night before. They had burst the bounds of the garden and they extended halfway across the graveled walk that bordered the garden! And from the house, (sound of Gretchen crying) came the despairing sobbing of the woman who had tried desperately to destroy the flowers that loved me.
(Organ Bridge and into background)
I had feared for my wife’s sanity. (Organ stops) Now I feared for my own. It was… hours before she could do more than… weep. At last she spoke to me.
Gretchen: James… I’m going to leave here.
James: No, Gretchen.
Gretchen: I’ve go to. I didn’t believe, but…
James: I won’t let you go.
Gretchen: You don’t love me. Why should I stay? They’ve won. They’ll never forgive me. They’ll kill me.
Gretchen: James… I want you to listen to me. I love you. I’ll always love you.
James: I… I love you Gretchen.
Gretchen: But you love the flowers more than you do me.
James: I… No. No I don’t.
Gretchen: You don’t mean that.
James: I… (Organ playing in background) mean it. (Organ stops)
Gretchen: But it’s no use. They love you James. They’re going to have you. I’ve tried to destroy them, and they can’t be destroyed! If I don’t get away from here…
James: I can’t let you go Gretchen…
Gretchen: I love you James.
Gretchen: What if I do stay? I’ll die. They’ll have you.
Gretchen: They hate me!
Gretchen: They love you! What can I do?
James: Well I don’t know, but…
Gretchen: You can’t fight them. You won’t fight them.
James: I… I know I can’t fight them… they love me!
Gretchen: And I love you, James! It’s too late now to choose.
James: I won’t let them have you! I love you!
Gretchen: Look at the window!
James: I looked at the window. Outside stood another lily. There had been none there, before this morning. There it stood, and as I raised my head I could see more and more of them across the lawn, overflowing the garden walls, thousands of them, each with its flower cup turned toward the house; each one listening. And I turned back to Gretchen, miserable and afraid. She’d risen from the bed and was standing before her dresser. “Gretchen” I called. For I knew what was in the second drawer of the dresser.
Gretchen: There’s no other way, James.
James: Put it down, Gretchen. We’ll… think of a way.
Gretchen: There’s no other way. I don’t know how this has happened, but… I believe now. I believe they love you James, and they hate me.
James: Gretchen no! Put it down!
Gretchen: No James. This is the way out. It’s the only way out. I won’t let them have you! I won’t give you up!
James: And she raised the pistol until it pointed straight at my heart. And I said once more, “No Gretchen…”
Gretchen: It has to be this way James. And then I’ll go out and give myself up to them. Darling, I love you. (Sound of gunshot)
James: I… must have lain there… for a long long time. At last my eyes opened, and it was dusk again. I struggled to rise. My side… ached horribly. And it was a long time before I could reconstruct what had happened. And I lay there thinking, wondering what had happened to Gretchen? Was I to die here alone? Was she dead too?
Lilies: (chanting) love you… (Fade to background)
James: And then I heard the voice again. Gretchen?
Lilies: You will not die. Gretchen has not died. We love you. We want you to be happy. You love Gretchen. Gretchen lives. Gretchen loves you. (Organ Bridge and fade to background)
James: And I drifted away again into the gathering darkness. With the voice (lilies chanting in the background) still ringing in my ears. (Organ up and bridge)
Policeman: It’s a fine story James.
Policeman: You didn’t tell us before that you’d been shot.
James: Here’s the scar.
Policeman: Hmm… yeah. What became of your wife?
James: That’s a… remarkably beautiful lily there… the big one. The one you couldn’t remove when you were digging.
James: Gretchen was gold and white like a lily. Gretchen’s green dress was the color of leaves.
Policeman: What are you trying to tell me James?
James: Do you… do you see something on the stem of that lily, lieutenant?
James: Just… below the flower.
Policeman: Let me see. It’s a ring!
James: Our wedding ring.
Policeman: How’d it get there?
James: Gretchen. (Organ Sting)
James: I… I told you she was here with us. (Organ Sting) Darling…
Lily: (Chanting in Gretchen’s voice) Love you… (Organ Bridge)
Policeman: No, I didn’t get it signed chief. There wasn’t anybody there to sign it. I’m telling ya! I heard the voice myself. It kept saying, “Love you love you love you”. That’s right. We looked around to see where it was coming from, when we turned around again, James was gone. I don’t know! All I know is that there were TWO lilies there now, close together, great big ones. And they uh… they looked as though they had their arms around each other.
(Theme up and into background)
Announcer: Quiet Please for tonight was called, “Let the Lilies Consider”. It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. James, the man who spoke to you, was Ernest Chappell.
Chappell: And Kathleen Cordell played Gretchen. The voice of the lilies was Peggy Stanley, and James Bowles was the Police Lieutenant. As usual, music for Quiet Please was played by Albert Berman. Now for a word about next week is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.
Cooper: Of course, you’ll never meet any of the characters in tonight’s story. They didn’t exist before I thought them up and they’re not imitations of anybody. Next week, Quiet Please story will be called “Wahine Tahiti”
Chappell: And so until next week at this time, I am…quietly yours…Ernest Chappell.
(Theme up and out)
Announcer: Quiet Please comes to you from New York, and was transcribed earlier from eastern Mutual for this presentation.