CHAPPELL: Quiet, please. ... Quiet, please.
(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR)
ANNOUNCER: The American Broadcasting Company presents "Quiet, Please!" which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappell. "Quiet, Please!" for today is called "Valentine."
(MUSIC ... THEME ... END)
ABE: The little towns. I never see them any more. Pekin, Delavan, Bloomington, Galesburg, Lewiston -- all the little towns above the river with the cobble stones going down to the steamboat landings.
The little towns under the hills. And the shocks of corn standing lonely and snow-covered -- like the teepees of old Shabbona's people, the good Indians that saved so many white men's lives in the old days.
There's a red brick Baptist church, I remember. And a court house with tall, limestone pillars -- with a portico that looks like a disreputable ancient Greek temple.
And I can only think of them - and remember them - for I never go far away from here.
It is restful here. And I think I have earned rest. For I've come a long journey. My work was finished long ago. So I rest.
And, sometimes, in the night, I walk for a while -- and remember.
(MUSIC ... WISTFUL, NOSTALGIC ... IN AND UNDER)
ABE: And the old house down on State Street is almost unchanged. The hands of time have touched it lightly. And it's a comforting thing to go there at night and sit alone. And remember. And, always, this time of the year -- I remember the valentine.
So long ago.
The little houses along the road and the ravine that goes down to the Sangamon. And, now, in early February, the ground is soft and damp with the melting snow. The watery sun shines down on the eager young trees. And there's a promise of spring in the first February thaw. And the frogs are stirring deep in the cold mud under the spongy earth. And the ghosts in the old graveyard smile at the first obscure signs of spring.
I remember the mean little houses, the store and the post office, and the drafty houses where the people lived. And I remember the muddy road up from Vandalia. And high-wheeled buggies mired down in the low places. And the long, flat roads across the prairie -- where the grass grew from horizon to horizon. And the groves of trees were small, genial islands in a sea of undulating green.
I hear HER voice in the nighttime. And it is a far, far sound -- though I awake and hear it so many, many times.
I have many bitter memories and a few happy ones. I wonder what the world would think of the memories that come most often to haunt me among the echoing corridors under the ancient oaks.
I dream of battles, they think. I dream of a victory won. And the acclaim of men. Do they think I've forgotten the long, sweet days of my young manhood? And the first, almost forgotten, love that once I knew -- and cherished? Do they think I have forgotten the grief, the loneliness, the despair, the first of my -- oh, so many sorrows?
Her valentine still exists. It is still to be seen and touched. And, if you ever look upon it, I hope you will remember me. For only I remember her.
Remember me -- and shed a tear, perhaps, for lost loveliness.
I was gone away from her. They sent me away. And I was a little proud in my new clothes and with my parcel of books on the desk beside me. And the grave speeches I should make were fermenting in my mind and crowding out all thoughts -- even thoughts of her. A boy of twenty-five sitting in the general assembly, speaking gravely of laws and the affairs of the people -- and not remembering my own.
And, back at home, a girl -- lorn for an absent lover, remembering promises, and waiting and waiting. And waiting.
(MUSIC ... OUT)
ABE: In the store, of a dark January morning--
ANN: I haven't had any word from him for ever so long but -- he's so busy. And they take so much of his time, you know. Maybe there'll be a letter tomorrow.
OFFUTT: Jack Armstrong had a letter from him last week, Annie. He wasn't too busy to write to Jack.
ANN: Oh. Well, the Armstrong's are his oldest friends, you know.
OFFUTT: Sure seems strange he don't write to you.
ANN: He's busy.
OFFUTT: Lot of pretty girls down there in Vandaly, I hear tell.
ABE: But never a girl in Vandalia to make me turn my solemn head. I was full of the thrill of helping to make the laws that my people were to live by. And I was fascinated by the strutting politicians in their tall hats. And I made great argument with them in the long tavern nights. And I put off the letters till tomorrow. And tomorrow and tomorrow.
ANN: I expect a letter any day now. Or maybe he'll be coming home again soon.
AUNT HANNAH: Figured you'd be lookin' around a little, Annie, for yourself. Think maybe he might have give ya the mitten?
ANN: Oh, no, Aunt Hannah. He'd never do that to me.
AUNT HANNAH: Well, I sure hope he ain't, Annie. Ye just keep up your spirits and a day'll come. A day'll come, I always say. Have ya wrote HIM a letter?
ANN: Why, I write him nearly every day. I'll be hearing from him any day. Just like you said.
ABE: "Tomorrow, I'll write," I said. "Tomorrow." And I sat in my lonely room. And I remembered the hillside in the summertime. And the haze of the heat lying heavy on the low hills or beyond the curves of the Sangamon. I remembered a hand in mine as we sat on a hillside above the town. And the homesick song of the cicadas in the orchard. And the reluctant, westering sun. I remembered what I had said to her on that long summer afternoon. And, alone in my mean little room, I wept to remember. But I did not write.
And, today, after all the years, I weep again, remembering.
(MUSIC ... MOURNFUL)
ANN: He'll be coming back. He'll be coming back for his birthday. Won't he? Why, the session is over now and he'll be coming back from Vandalia on a tall horse and there isn't a thing that'll hold him back from me. I know he'll be back home for his birthday.
(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)
ABE: The gavel fell and the booming voice spoke. "I do now declare this general assembly adjourned." And I took horse for home. And now my heart was heavy with doubt for I remembered my long silence and my mind now wrestled with darkest premonitions. What would my homecoming be -- after those long months of silence?
(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)
ABE: Yes, I loved her. Must you ask?
Can you remember back to the days when you were twenty-five? Can you remember what little thing can make a lovers' reuniting? Or break it? Can you remember the little tenderness a recreant lover might bring to his dear one? The small thoughtfulness? The simple, humble thing that says, "I have not forgotten"? And that brings the happy smile that banishes doubt and wipes away the memory of unwritten words and--?
(MUSIC ... OUT)
ABE: "Wait," I remembered. I remembered the pleasant saint, the patron of all of us who love. I remembered paper hearts. And poesies of verse. And ribbons and lace. And, in the pouring rain, I lifted up my head and said, "I thank you, Saint Valentine."
And the morning came and I was home and my horse was tied up at the hitching post. And I strode into the store, all muddy and triumphant.
OFFUTT: Well! Abe! (LAUGHS) Hi, there, Abe!
ABE: Hello, Jack!
OFFUTT: We thought you was never comin' back!
ABE: I took a real mighty long time to make it but I got here. How are ya?
OFFUTT: I'm finer'n frog's hair, Abe. Eh! You look as if you'd growed down there in Vandaly.
ABE: Well, I always looked as if I'd growed, don't I? Say, have you seen Ann this morning, Offutt?
OFFUTT: Um, not since yesterday. No.
ABE: How is she?
OFFUTT: Kind of peaked, Abe.
ABE: Is she sick?
OFFUTT: Naw. Just on account o' you not writin' any letters to her.
ABE: I'm sorry about that.
OFFUTT: You better be.
ABE: Uh ... How's everything around home, Offutt?
OFFUTT: Mm, miss ya.
ABE: I miss you all. How - how's business?
OFFUTT: Well, we get by. You had your breakfast yet?
ABE: No, I just got here. I can get breakfast later. Uh, look, uh, Jack, I want something.
OFFUTT: If you don't see for it, ask for it.
ABE: Well, uh ...
OFFUTT: Ah, how's the life down there in the city anyway? Lots of people, huh?
ABE: Hundreds. Eh, eh, say, what I wanted--
OFFUTT: Lot o' stores?
ABE: Oh, sure, uh--
OFFUTT: Lot o' women?
ABE: Mm hmm.
OFFUTT: Sure like to hear about Vandaly. I never been out o' this place since I come here.
ABE: Well, I'll tell ya about it, one of these evenings, Jack. Eh, what I wanted--
OFFUTT: Sure do want to hear about it. Heh. Now, what was it you wanted all of a sudden?
ABE: Well, uh--
SOUND: (DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS)
HANNAH: Mighty warm for the day before Valentine's Day!
ABE: Hello, Aunt Hannah.
HANNAH: Well! I'll be dogged! Abe!
ABE: Why, hello, there, Aunt Hannah!
HANNAH: Well, I declare! How is it down in Vandaly?
ABE: Well, fine.
HANNAH: (LAUGHS MERRILY) Here, leave me kiss ya!
SOUND: (MUCH GRUNTING AND LAUGHING FOR THE BIG SMOOCH)
HANNAH: Ah, well, I sure am tickled ya got back home.
ABE: Me, too.
HANNAH: Hm. Thought maybe all them fine folks down there made you forget your own people.
ABE: I'm never gonna forget my people, Aunt Hannah.
HANNAH: Pretty nigh forgot Annie, didn't ya?
ABE: I - I guess I didn't write very often.
HANNAH: Never wrote at all, the way I heared it.
ABE: Well, I--
HANNAH: Good mornin', Jack.
ABE: I was busy.
OFFUTT: Mornin', Aunt Hannah. What's your pleasure this morning?
HANNAH: I, er, I want a couple of gills of long sweetenin', Jack.
OFFUTT: Couple o' gills.
HANNAH: And keep your thumb out of it, too, you hear me?
OFFUTT: Never miss, Aunt Hannah.
ABE: Well - well -
OFFUTT: What's the matter with you?
ABE: Well, see here, Jack-- Uh, Aunt - Aunt Hannah, do ya mind? Uh, uh, I have to--
HANNAH: Ohh, take your time, boy. You got all day.
OFFUTT: What do you want?
ABE: Uh, I want a valentine.
OFFUTT: Ain't got none.
ABE: You haven't?
OFFUTT: Nope. Who's it fer?
HANNAH: "Who's it fer?"! Who'd ya think it's fer, ya old fool?
OFFUTT: Well, I ain't got none.
HANNAH: You had some last year.
OFFUTT: That was last year.
HANNAH: Listen. I remember, I well remember -- you had one left.
OFFUTT: Oh, er, did I?
HANNAH: There was one -- and it was so dear nobody 'ud buy it. 'Member?
ABE: (HOPEFUL) You - you sure, Aunt Hannah?
OFFUTT: Well, let me see ...
HANNAH: Sixty cents you wanted fer it.
OFFUTT: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I kind of remember.
HANNAH: You wrapped it up in brown paper and you put it up there on top o' the shelf above the dried peaches. I remember just as plain-- You look, Jack.
OFFUTT: Yeah, let me see. (WALKS, GRUNTS, CLIMBS, MUTTERS) More things up here onto this shelf...
HANNAH: Ah, ah, that's it. That's it. You got it.
OFFUTT: Hm! (CLIMBS DOWN, BLOWS AND SHAKES DUST OFF VALENTINE) I'll be dogged.
OFFUTT: (READS ALOUD) "Roses is red / Violets are blue / I--" er--?
HANNAH: "Love" you dope!
OFFUTT: That's it! Well, yep. That's it. Mmm, pretty, ain't it?
HANNAH: It's tore. The lace is tore.
OFFUTT: Well, I could knock off three cents on account o' that.
HANNAH: You'll knock off ten cents. That's last year's -- and, besides, it's tore. Oh, Annie'll love that.
ABE: It's just the thing, Aunt Hannah, isn't it?
HANNAH: Oh, she'll just bust. (STARTLED) Oh!
HANNAH: Oh, oh, hide, Abe! Hide, quick!
ABE: Wha - what's the matter?
HANNAH: Annie! She's comin' up the road. Quick! Grab the valentine and hide.
ABE: Well, where? I--
OFFUTT: Git behind the shelves here.
SOUND: (SCRAMBLING FOOTSTEPS)
OFFUTT: Hurry up.
ABE: Yes, but--!
HANNAH: Oh, go on and hide -- and surprise her! Hurry!
HANNAH: Sh! Sh!
SOUND: (DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES, FOOTSTEPS)
ANN: Whose horse is that tied out there, Jack?
OFFUTT: Why, er--
HANNAH: Oh, uh, morning, Annie!
ANN: Oh, good morning, Aunt Hannah. Whose did you say, Jack?
OFFUTT: Why, er--
HANNAH: Was ya expectin' somebody, Annie?
ANN: Well, of course I was. I was hoping he'd get back for his birthday yesterday but he didn't. I know he must have tried to and I hope-- (GASPS) Oh, Jack! A valentine.
HANNAH: (QUIETLY, SO ANN CAN'T HEAR) Oh, he left the valentine, the big--
ANN: The valentine. I was hoping you'd have one. Oh, I'm so glad.
OFFUTT: Well, I - I - I don't exactly like to sell ya that one.
HANNAH: It's tore, honey.
ANN: Oh, he won't mind. How much is it, Jack?
OFFUTT: Sixty ce-- Well, ah, I - I - I was aimin' to keep it.
ANN: Why? What for?
OFFUTT: Well, it's the only one I've got and--
ANN: I've got to have it, Jack.
HANNAH: It's last year's.
OFFUTT: It - it's the only one I've got and--
ANN: May I have it, Jack?
OFFUTT: Well, uh--
ANN: Sixty cents, you said. I'll give you sixty-five.
HANNAH: Don't you sell that old ragged valentine to this girl!
ANN: Oh, Aunt Hannah, I must have it. I didn't get a thing for his birthday and I just hoped I'd be able to get him a valentine. And it - it'd be a kind of birthday present, too.
ANN: Can't I have it, Jack?
OFFUTT: (DEFEATED) Oh. What you say, Aunt Hannah?
HANNAH: Don't you try to put it on to me, ya hear?
ANN: Please, Jack.
OFFUTT: Er, I - I oughtn't ta.
HANNAH: Oh, sell it to her, Jack.
ANN: Ah, thank you, Aunt Hannah. He'll be so pleased with it.
HANNAH: Ah, yeah, sure.
ANN: I really HAVE to get it for him, Jack, because I kind of expect he'll bring me one from Vandalia.
OFFUTT: You do?
ANN: I hope so. Oh, they must have wonderful ones in the big stores down in Vandalia.
HANNAH: Well, uh--
ANN: Ah, it's silly. But it's beautiful, isn't it? Didn't you get valentines when you were a girl, Aunt Hannah?
HANNAH: (CHUCKLES) Oh, land! It's been so long, I never remember.
ANN: Isn't much really but he'll like it. He'll--
OFFUTT: You want to write onto it, Ann?
ANN: Write? Write what?
HANNAH: Why, ain't you goin' to write down that you love him, Annie?
ANN: Why, he knows it, Aunt Hannah. And I know it. And the whole world knows it. Must I write it down?
(MUSIC ... WISTFUL ... IN AND UNDER)
ABE: And the days are many and the nights are long since that thirteenth of February in the little store on the Sangamon River. And I have seen many places. The little towns and the mighty ones. Cities happy and jubilant, cities forlorn and grief-stricken. And I have known hope and gladness and exultation in my time as well as tears and sadness. But never in all my years have I felt the gladness, the simple overwhelming joy of that moment when I heard the words of this girl I loved. And thus today my grief is the greater.
She walked out of the store and I-- Remember, I was twenty-five. I was crushed with disappointment.
A valentine, you say.
No, that was a priceless gift I had in mind that morning. And the irony of it, she had snatched my own gift, unknowing, to give it to me. And I was returning, repentant to her -- but empty-handed.
SOUND: (BRIEF LAUGHTER)
ABE: And the laughter of Offutt and Aunt Hannah Armstrong did nothing at all to assuage my disappointment and my unhappiness.
And I followed her out of the store - at a little distance. Followed her up the ravine - and up the hillside - till she came to the old trysting place.
I think it is very much the same today as it was then in the time when I came to her empty-handed after the long empty months.
Then when she came to the place, she turned. And she held out her arms.
(MUSIC ... UP AND OUT)
ANN: I knew it was you following me. I knew it - and I wouldn't turn and look because I wanted to see you first - up here on the hillside.
ABE: Ann. Darling.
(MUSIC ... ROMANTIC BRIDGE ... THE TRADITIONAL BALLAD "BLACK IS THE COLOR OF MY TRUE LOVE'S HAIR"... IN AND THEN UNDER)
ANN: You - you've been gone so long.
ABE: And I never wrote to you.
ANN: But you thought of me.
ABE: I thought of you.
ANN: I've thought of you -- every single minute while you've been gone.
ABE: I know. The letters--
ANN: Oh, kiss me, darling.
ABE: Ann ...
(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE)
ANN: (SYMPATHETIC) You've changed.
ANN: You HAVE changed. You're sadder. And you're--
ABE: I'm older.
ANN: (REALIZES) Oh. Your birthday. Yesterday.
ABE: (CHUCKLES) I was twenty-five. I'm getting old.
ANN: Oh, no.
ABE: Old and - forgetful.
ANN: No, you're not. You were busy. I, uh, I've got a birthday present for you.
ABE: Why, you know you shouldn't have done that.
ANN: (CHUCKLES) It's a valentine.
ABE: Oh. Valentine Day's tomorrow.
ANN: It's the very last one that Mr. Offutt had in the store.
ABE: I know.
ANN: You know?
ABE: I was gonna get it for you.
ANN: (DISAPPOINTED) Oh. Well, I don't need a valentine -- really.
ABE: Wha - ? Well, I mean, but--
ANN: Tell me you love me. That'll be my valentine.
(MUSIC ... OUT)
ABE: (EARNESTLY) Ann, remember ... ? (HUMS THE MELODY OF "BLACK IS THE COLOR OF MY TRUE LOVE'S HAIR")
ANN: (OVERCOME) Oh.
ABE: (SINGS A VERSE AS ANN SOBS)
I love my love and well she knows
I love the grass whereon she goes
If she on earth no more I see
My life will quickly leave me
ANN: (IN TEARS) Oh, darling, darling, darling.
ANN: You didn't write me. I was so afraid.
ABE: I could never forget you, Ann.
ANN: Never, never, never?
ABE: As long as I live. And forever.
ANN: We'll be so happy.
ABE: We'll - we'll go and live in Vandalia.
ANN: And then a day'll come - when you'll go to the new state house in Springfield. Then I'll be a congressman's wife. We'll go and live in Washington.
ABE: You'll go with me. You'll be my star that I'll follow.
ANN: And you'll be a great man.
ABE: (JOKINGLY) Why, I could be president.
ANN: (MATCHING HIS GOOD HUMOR) Oh, yes, darling. Do be president! And then, in - in after years, they'll build a great high monument to you and everybody'll say, "He was the greatest president that ever was!"
ABE: And it'll all be due to you.
ANN: (AS IF WITH A WRY CURTSY) Madam President.
ABE: (SUDDENLY SERIOUS AGAIN) I'd - I'd lay the riches of all the world at your feet, Ann.
ANN: (MATCHING HIS SERIOUSNESS) But -- you didn't bring me a valentine.
ABE: (DEEPLY APOLOGETIC) What can I do? Wha - ? I'm so sorry.
ANN: (DEEPLY PASSIONATE) I love you -- valentine or no valentine, dearest -- always and always and always.
(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)
ABE: Always and always. And we'll always be together.
ANN: (INCREASINGLY ANXIOUS) Never be apart from each other again?
ABE: Never. Never, Ann.
ANN: Oh, hold me. I'm so cold suddenly.
ABE: It's just a cloud over the sun.
ANN: Hold me. Always hold me.
ANN: I know it. You'll be a great, great man, darling.
ABE: With you beside me, I will.
ANN: But - if I die -
ABE: Don't say that.
ANN: Kiss me again.
(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE)
ABE: And we sat for a long, long time in the sudden chill of the afternoon.
And we were so in love, Ann and I.
And we spoke no word for the longest time.
Only sat there.
And dreamed of the future.
The rosy future.
And nothing but happiness.
ANN: Happiness. Happiness. Happiness.
ABE: And we'll be married as soon as you finish school.
ANN: Nobody will EVER be as happy as we'll be. And-- If I die -
ABE: No. No, don't say that.
ANN: If I die - will you go on the way we'd have gone -- together?
ABE: No, you mustn't--
ANN: You will, won't you? For me.
ANN: For me! Say "yes."
ABE: You're not going to die.
ANN: (TRIES TO LAUGH IT OFF) Of course not. I was just teasing you.
ANN: I love you so.
ABE: I love you.
ANN: And I'll love you -- wherever you go.
ABE: In the little towns and the big towns?
ANN: You'll be a congressman. And you'll love me.
ABE: I'll be president and I'll love you.
ANN: And this isn't just valentine talk?
ABE: (SURPRISED) Ann!
ANN: I'm sorry, dear.
ABE: Wait. You ask if it's just valentine talk. Do you remember last summer when we sat up here together?
ANN: So many times.
ABE: (DISAGREES) Ah, ah. A very special time, Ann.
ANN: I - I remember. It was a hot, hot day. And the heat haze was on the hills. And you sang to me.
ABE: And do you remember the stone, Ann?
ANN: The stone? I wonder--
ABE: Wait, wait. I know where it is. (MOVING OFF) I put it in the crotch of that old apple tree. Right there.
ANN: Oh, get it!
ABE: (FROM OFF) That's your valentine, Ann! Remember?
ANN: I remember.
ABE: (FROM OFF) I found it! Look!
ANN: Way last summer.
ABE: (CLOSE AGAIN) Here's your valentine, Ann darling.
ANN: I remember what you carved on it.
ABE: Let's - read it together, shall we? And - always remember?
ANN AND ABE: (READING ALOUD TOGETHER) On this spot, in New Salem, Illinois, on July 4th, 1833, Ann Rutledge and Abraham Lincoln were betrothed.
(MUSIC ... UP AND OUT)
ABE: And the cold winds howl tonight in Oak Ridge around a tall monument.
Gently, they touch the outlines of a little mound on the graveyard above the Sangamon.
And only the stone, the stone valentine, remains to testify to our love.
(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR)
ANNOUNCER: The title of today's "Quiet, Please!" story is "Valentine." It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and the man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.
CHAPPELL: Others in today's cast were Ann Seymour, who played Ann; Offutt was played by Jack Arthur; and Hannah by Leora Thatcher. As usual, music for "Quiet, Please!" is played by Albert Buhrmann.
Now, for a word about next week, my very good friend and our writer-director, Wyllis Cooper.
COOPER: The title of my next week's story is a question that I've been asked at least ten times every day. It's "Where Do You Get Your Ideas?" Listen -- maybe I'll tell ya.
CHAPPELL: And so until next week at this same time, and the answer to a perpetual question, I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.
(MUSIC .. THEME ... END)
ANNOUNCER: Now, a listening reminder. Stay tuned for Drew Pearson.
This is ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.