Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Scene 9a, lilies. Anne begins her garden
April 3rd 1930. The lawn in front of Anne’s house is strewn with an array of garden tools. Anne is working with a shovel, wildly hacking away at the deeply rooted crabgrass beneath her feet. She is attempting to turn the soil. She is dirty, sweaty and determined to make a garden bed. It is midday and warm now. Her work has thus far been slow-going and quite pathetic. Anne has just struck yet another rock as James walks up the gate in front of her house. It is Saturday and neither is working at the conservatory. James is well dressed and walks leisurely up the path toward Anne. Anne heaves the rock across the lawn near a pile
James: Anne is that really you? My goodness, you really are giving it a go aren’t you?
(He surveys her work and is silently amused at her seemingly fruitless efforts)
Anne: (Not expecting a visit from James she tries her best to seem at ease and alert. She is not used to being seen in the state she is in.)
Why James, What a pleasant surprise!
(She compensates in sweetness for what she feels she lacks in presentability.)
James: (Motioning to the gate)
Anne: Of course, James come in. Good to see you…
(She pulls her hand from her glove extends it to James)
James: (He takes it in his own hand. As he takes it, he feels the dust, rough skin, and clamminess of her hands. He shakes her hand but afterwards takes a kerchief from his pocket and wipes the filth from it.)
Well, You certainly look like you have been keeping busy.
(He is referring to her appearance, not the progress she has made.)
What on earth are you working on?
I thought that this year I would plant a vegetable garden. A lofty aspiration I know, but if any man can do it so can I.
James: Well, I expect it will be an... enriching experience for you Anne. I must admit I would have never seen this coming. No matter how assertive you may have come across. I never had you pinned for one of them Anne. Though it makes no difference to me, I assure you.
I’m not sure I understand James.
James: Oh, it’s all the rage these days Anne. Winning the right to vote, all this about wanting to work like men, wearing abbreviated bathing suits and so forth…
Like I said Anne, it makes no difference to me, so long as you don’t go parading around the city making a spectacle of yourself demanding rights to birth control and holding signs like the rest of the suffragists. I’m not sure the society could employ someone on staff with that kind of, eh, public persona.
(Although he chuckles, he is serious)
(The notion of her seeming like a suffragist never crossed Anne’s mind. She is not offended by this notion, and therefore leaves him uncorrected. Rather, she changes the subject)
Anne: Won’t you join me for a moment in the shade?
James: I suppose that would be nice. Though I don’t want to keep you from your work for too long Anne.
(They walk to the gazebo where there is shade and a place to sit.)
I must confess Anne, I wish this were a social visit.
However, I came on behalf of Mr. Gregory. You remember Edwin Gregory don’t you? He is on the board of directors for the Boston conservatory. If you recall, he is quite a generous donor, and a big fan of yours, if I remember correctly Anne.
At any rate he has taken quite an interest in your collection, specifically. He has already made a handsome offer and being the broker I would naturally take ten percent. You of course…
Anne: My collection is not for sale James.
James: Yes I know Anne, but if you would only consider…
Anne: What is there to consider. My father gave them to me you know that! You have a lot of nerve even asking me.
James: Mr. Gregory has been most generous to the conservatory, I would hate to disappoint him. It would behoove you to consider the offer. Your current position at the conservatory isn’t what it was before…need I remind you?
Anne: Are you threatening me James!
James: You don’t think I know do you?
Anne: What are you talking about?
James: You may want to be careful you’re not burning any bridges here. It’s really only a matter of time Anne.
Anne: A matter of time until what?
James: Do you know what’s being said? They’re saying this thing is blacker than it seems! The unemployment rate is supposed to rise another five percent by season’s end. Commerce and trade are down, and will continue fall. Industries are decreasing production at rapid rates and some are closing their doors permanently!
And you? You’re digging in the dirt, planting a garden like a field hand or a common gardener.
No Miss Hibbert,I suppose I don’t have to inform you of these desperate times. You would do well to remember your place here Anne. A single woman living alone like some brazen feminist.
Relying on her inheritances. Most of which was lost in the stock market I assume?
(Her haughty eyes lower)
You’ve become accustomed to living well outside your means, and your hardly self sufficient. I can’t imagine your maintanance job at the conservatory covers any more than a few bills and a meals or two each day.
(He slicks his hair back and composes himself. He changes his tone a bit.)
That being said Anne; I would strongly urge you, as a…friend. Sell your collection. Here is the offering price, and my card. Think on it Anne. If you should change your mind, you know where to find me.
(James walks down the pathway, out the gate and down the street.)