Monday, January 18, 2010
Scene 6a,6b,6c, Considering lilies
(The morning comes again. Anne rises and dresses in her work clothes. She arranges her hair neatly in a classic style. She has a cup of tea and some toast. She is alone in her house, sitting at her large table. The clock reads a quarter to seven. She rises and returns her dishes to the sink in the kitchen. Puts on her coat and grabs her apron hanging by the door from the night before. She wraps a scarf around her neck, opens the door walks into the cold morning.
She has arrived on time to find a list that James has left for her. There is a pile of linens, and dishes being set out by people she has never seen before. She begins her first task, washing all the windows in the dinning hall, inside and out. Next she is to weed and turn the soil of the front walk. Then she plants the open spaces and window boxes with annuals to provide color. Next she hauls a flat of sphagnum moss in, and top-dresses the large palms throughout the conservatory. Finally, she polishes the serving wear and arranges flowers for the table on which the food will be placed.
By a quarter to five James walks in to inspect the place and make final touches.)
James: Well Anne, I suppose all is ready by now, hmmm?
Anne: Yes James…Mr. Watkins. Unless you see something more to be done, I need only light the candles.
James: Not yet, not yet. They should be lit just before the guests arrive. (Surveying the room) This will do Miss Hibbert. (Preoccupied) Well, you ought to refresh yourself before the guests arrive. You’ll find basic amenities in the lavatory and a fresh apron in the kitchen. I will meet you here in half an hour.
Anne: Yes sir. (He walks up stairs and she into the kitchen)
Later that evening:
The guests have arrived and are mingling and drinking. The conversation, like last time revolving little around the matter of botanicals and more around society gossip, and politics.
Anne is busy serving the drinks. She overhears pieces of people’s conversations as she passes. Conversations that begin like:
“The trouble with Soup kitchens is that it only encourages them…nothing like the pangs of an empty stomach to urge a man to find a job for himself…” She pays little mind until she sees two women from across the room pointing at her. She looks over at them and they quickly look away, but seem deep in conversation.
A little later Anne brings out some more hourderves. As she passes a group of women and men gathered in a circle she realizes that their discussion revolves around Anne herself.
Woman 1:I heard she practically begged not to be let go Some nod or gasp, some shake their heads. One man,
Man 1: No, place for a woman…
Man 2: (Drunk) I wonder if we should send around a basket of collection…
Woman 2:Imagine, going from teaching seminars to serving!
A man in the group takes notice of Anne. He cuts the woman off.
Man 1:Ah yes, lovely, more punch, I think I will miss, I think I will. (He raises his glass and she fills it)
Anne pretends not to have heard and returns to the kitchen. The rest of the night however she is suddenly very aware of her place. She notices glances and how people whisper as she walks past. She feels as though she is no longer on of them.
As the night tapers down and people begin to shuffle out Anne begins to clear the hourderves table off. People are only drinking now and the ones left are obviously quite intoxicated.
After carrying in a large armful of empty trays, Anne returns to the table for another load to find James waiting for her. He has been drinking quite a bit. Though he is not clumsy, he is uncharacteristically unguarded, and eager to speak freely.
James: Good evening Anne.
(He walks toward her)
Well I see you have proven me wrong.
Anne: How’s that?
James: You see it was my father’s idea to have you set up this evening. I was against it you see. I had no idea you were even capable of, well, Woman’s work
(As if to appear sympathetic)
Awe, it’s nothing against you Miss Hibbert.
I always love to hear your charming botanical rhetoric.
I have to remind myself, Anne that it is rhetoric, just rhetoric. That is, charm disguised as intellect.
(She shifts, obviously uncomfortable)
Have I discovered your secret?
(He moves in closer, He seems to be misreading her discomfort for attraction)
Hmm? Is that your, claim to fame? As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for your poetic nature, I imagine you to be quite, helpless…
(He walks behind her moving in, close to her. Close enough to smell her hair.)
Miss Hibbert, in times such as these a person must be willing to commit themselves to a certain level of compromise if they mean to get by.
I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m glad to see you have something more to offer than just your charms.
(It was meant to be a compliment but delivered almost patronizingly)
You have proven me wrong this evening Anne and I like it. Well done!