Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Fleischmann's Yeast Hour
Show: A Minuet
Date: Feb 14 1935

The Yeast Team:
HOST, Rudy Vallee
ANNOUNCER, Jimmy Wallington

Dramatis Personae:
THE MARQUIS / LESLIE HOWARD
THE MARCHIONESS
THE GAOLER

HOST:

... Presenting Leslie Howard, with Merle Oberon. Having made "Of Human Bondage" and "British Agent" in Hollywood and "The Scarlet Pimpernel" in England, Mr. Howard is currently appearing in "The Petrified Forest" in New York. Miss Oberon, whom you will recall as the darkly beautiful Anne Boleyn in "The Private Life of Henry VIII," was his co-star in the just-released "Scarlet Pimpernel." This'll be her first radio appearance. I have asked Mr. Howard himself to tell you about tonight's play and to introduce Miss Oberon. Mr. Leslie Howard.

SOUND:

APPLAUSE

HOWARD:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It's a little more than a year since my first appearance here -- or rather, in Hollywood -- on Mr. Vallee's broadcast. I find it very pleasant to be back again. The short play in rhyme that we're doing tonight is quite an unusual one. We chose it partly because it has much the same background as "The Scarlet Pimpernel" -- Paris, during the French Revolution -- and partly because it has, we think, a certain quiet charm capable of translation into radio terms; at least, we hope so. The author is Louis N. Parker who wrote "Disraeli" for George Arliss. It's called "A Minuet." And the leading lady -- who's been so charmingly described by Mr. Vallee -- Miss Merle Oberon. She enters now and the play begins.

SOUND:

APPLAUSE

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... "LA MARSEILLAISE" ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--

ANNOUNCER:

The Paris streets are running red
With blood the guillotine has shed.
Down cobbled lanes, the tumbrils roll.
Doomed is their cargo, death their goal.
Death for lady, death for lord.
The angry verdict of the howling horde
Hurries a nation's noblest life
To the sharp decision of a sharper knife.
Our scene -- a Paris prison cell,
A place where living dead men dwell.
We discover at the curtain's rise
The Marquis de Beauclere. His weary eyes
Are closed. With soon-to-be-forfeit breath,
He speaks of life. Of life -- and death.

THE MARQUIS:

Is there an after-life, a deathless soul,
A heaven, to which to aspire to as goal?
Who shall decide what nobody may know?
Science is dumb; Faith has no proofs to show.
I'm alone. No soul will sorrow for me;
My enemies dread me; and my friends abhor me.
For all I know, my wife -- the ugly word! --
Is in Coblenz, attended by absurd
Perfumed and mincing abbés. She and I,
I'm proud to say, lived as I mean to die.
With never a trace of middle-class emotions,
I went my way; she followed her own notions.
And when she hears I'm dead, so fine her breed,
She'll arch her eyebrows, and exclaim, "Indeed?"

SOUND:

CELL DOOR OPENS

GAOLER:

Citizen!

MARQUIS:

Joseph?

GAOLER:

Yeah.

MARQUIS:

Is the tumbril here?

GAOLER:

Not yet, aristocrat; but have no fear.
The widow never missed.

MARQUIS:

The, er, widow?

GAOLER:

Aye,
The guillotine.

MARQUIS:

(DRYLY) The people's wit!

GAOLER:

I say, Aristocrat, you are to die!

MARQUIS:

(CALMLY) How true!
And so are you, my friend, and so are you.

GAOLER:

I came to tell you that a woman's there,
Asking to see you.

MARQUIS:

What?

GAOLER:

She's young and fair,
And, judging by the richness of her dress,
Some heretofore aristo, nothing less.

MARQUIS:

(EVENLY) All women are aristocrats by birth;
No old or ugly woman treads the earth.

GAOLER:

Eh? You should see my wife!

MARQUIS:

Yes, I should be proud.

GAOLER:

Shall I admit the lady?

MARQUIS:

Yes.

GAOLER:

It's not allowed.
Nevertheless--

MARQUIS:

(OFFERS A BRIBE) My, er-- My snuff-box.

GAOLER: Mm?

MARQUIS:

From the King.

GAOLER:

I spit on it!

MARQUIS:

(DEPRECATING) Yes, you spit on everything.

GAOLER:

(DISMISSIVE) The widow will spit out your head.

SOUND:

GAOLER STOMPS OUT, SLAMMING DOOR

MARQUIS:

(WITH DISGUST) And that's my equal!
(BEAT, THOUGHTFUL) Why do I dread
This meeting? Who can be the fair
Who ventures hither to this loathsome lair?
The Marchioness of Beaurepaire? Alas!
Her love and faith were brittle as this glass.
The Lady of Bougency? But she had
Three other lovers, while she drove me mad.
No one would risk her head to say good-bye
To a discarded lover soon to die.

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

MARQUIS:

(SURPRISED) My wife!

MARCHIONESS:

(A GREETING, ARISTOCRATICALLY RESERVED) Marquis.

MARQUIS:

(EQUALLY RESERVED) Marchioness.

MARCHIONESS:

(BRIGHTLY) Milord O'Connor
Kindly escorted me.

MARQUIS:

Oh, too much honor!

MARCHIONESS:

What a world, where gentlemen are treated
Like vulgar criminals!

MARQUIS:

Won't you be seated?

MARCHIONESS:

I greatly fear I must cut short my visit;
Time is so precious nowadays.

MARQUIS:

Ah, is it?
How did you hear that I must soon go hence?

MARCHIONESS:

A charming abbé told me -- in Coblenz.

MARQUIS:

(LEADS HER ON) What did you say ?

MARCHIONESS:

I scarce gave any heed.
I arched my eyebrows, and exclaimed, "Indeed?"

MARQUIS:

Ah, I am distressed you chose to undertake
A long and tiresome journey for my sake.

MARCHIONESS:

I had delightful company, I may say.
We played at cards and thus time passed away.
I lost a deal of money.

MARQUIS:

My regrets.
I've squandered my last coin.

MARCHIONESS:

And then at Metz,
A charming man, an Irishman -- such grace!
Such wit! Such--

MARQUIS:

Never mind, never mind.

MARCHIONESS:

He begged for a place
Beside me in my coach.

MARQUIS:

His name?

MARCHIONESS:

Milord
O'Connor.

MARQUIS:

Yes, to be sure. He, er-- He touched a chord?

MARCHIONESS:

(ENTHUSIASTICALLY) Oh, yes!

MARQUIS:

(INSIDIOUSLY) And you were -- kind?

MARCHIONESS:

(ROGUISHLY) To him or you?

MARQUIS:

(WITH A POLITE PROTEST) Oh, dying men don't count.

MARCHIONESS:

(THINKING IT OVER) That's very true.

MARQUIS:

No doubt he's waiting for you now?

MARCHIONESS:

(CARELESSLY) No doubt.

MARQUIS:

(DRYLY) You mustn't strain his patience. 'Twill wear out,
And when you join him, tell him I regret
I'm not at liberty. We might have met.

MARCHIONESS:

You'd have liked each other very much.
Such conversation! Such high spirits!
Such--

MARQUIS:

(DISMISSIVE) This prison is no place for you. Farewell.

MARCHIONESS:

(BEAT, EVENLY) The room is ugly. I prefer my cell.

MARQUIS:

(SURPRISED) Your--? Your cell?

MARCHIONESS:

(MATTER-OF-FACT) Of course. I am a prisoner, too.
That's what I came for.

MARQUIS:

What?

MARCHIONESS:

(VERY SIMPLY) To die with you.

MARQUIS:

(BEAT) To die with me?

MARCHIONESS:

A Beauclere could not fail.

MARQUIS:

But--

MARCHIONESS:

Yes?

MARQUIS:

The guillotine!

MARCHIONESS:

(UNFAZED) A mere detail.

MARQUIS:

(SURPRISED) Pardon me, Marchioness, but I confess
You - you almost made me show surprise.

MARCHIONESS:

What less
Did you expect of me?

MARQUIS:

We've lived so long apart,
I had forgotten--

MARCHIONESS:

I'd a heart?
You'd forgotten many things beside --
The happy bridegroom and the happy bride.
And so had I. At court the life we lead
Makes love a frivolous pastime.

MARQUIS:

(AGREES) And we need
The shock of death to show us we're human.

MARCHIONESS:

Marquis and Marchioness? No, man and woman.
Once you were tender.

MARQUIS:

Once you were sincere.

MARCHIONESS:

So long ago.

MARQUIS:

So short a time.

MARCHIONESS:

Oh, dear!
Our minds are like a potpourri at dusk,
Breathing dead rosemary, lavender, and musk;
Things half forgotten, silly things, sublime;
A faded ribbon, withered rose, a rhyme,
A melody of old Provence, whose lilt
Haunts us as in a dream, like amber, spilt
God knows how long ago!

MARQUIS:

Do you remember--? Do you remember
How first I wooed you by the glowing ember
Of winter fires?

MARCHIONESS:

You were so young then.

MARQUIS:

Yes, I was the proudest, happiest of men.

MARCHIONESS:

I, the most innocent of maids.

MARQUIS:

Alas!
How the years change us as they come and pass!

MUSIC:

SNEAKS IN BEHIND--

MARCHIONESS:

(TENDERLY)
Do you remember, by the Rhone,
The gray old castle on the hill,
The brambled pathway to the mill?
You plucked a rose. We were alone;
For cousins need no chaperone.
How hot the days were, how the shrill
Call of crickets seemed to fill
A treble to the millwheel's drone.
Ah, me! What happy days were those!

MARQUIS:

Gone -- with the perfume of the rose.
I called you Doris, for I own
Meg on my fancy cast a chill.

MARCHIONESS:

I called you Amadis! You will
Admit no knightlier name is known.
We were like fledglings, newly flown.

MARQUIS:

Yes, like little children, Jack and Jill.

MARCHIONESS:

With many a scratch and many a spill,
We scrambled over stick and stone.

MARQUIS:

Mm! What happy days were those!

MARCHIONESS:

Gone -- with the perfume of the rose.

MARQUIS:

Over lush meadows, thickly strown
With daisy and with daffodil,
We ran at dawn to catch the trill
Of larks on wild wing sunward blown.

MARCHIONESS:

In orange-groves we heard the moan
Of love-lorn nightingales, until
You pressed my hand. A tender thrill
Was in your touch and in your tone.
Ah, me! What happy days were those!

MARQUIS:

Gone -- with the perfume of the rose.

MUSIC:

GENTLY OUT

MARCHIONESS:

Marquis, might we not yet atone
For all our errors, if we chose?

MARQUIS:

But, Doris, all the perfume's gone.

MARCHIONESS:

But, Amadis, I've kept the rose!

MARQUIS:

You've kept the rose? But will it bloom again?

MARCHIONESS:

Perhaps in heaven.

GAOLER:

[(OFF) You twain
Aristocrats, the tumbril waits!]

MARQUIS:

(EAGERLY) Is there a heaven, Doris?

MARCHIONESS:

(BEAT, BRAVELY) Come and see.

MUSIC:

CURTAIN

SOUND:

APPLAUSE ...