Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Escape
Show: The Fourth Man
Date: Aug 18 1947

(BELL TOLLS, into MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

Escape! Escape tonight to a land in the South Pacific!

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present...Escape! Produced and directed by William Ann Rosen. This, the last of the summer series, is "The Fourth Man", by John Russell.

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

Nomea, in the South Pacific, to a generation of French criminals a word to be uttered in the same terrified breath with Devil's Island. The pineal colony at Nomea where the cutthroats, garroters and sadists from the dregs of French society were sent to a living death. Tonight we invite you to escape from Nomea in John Russell's "The Fourth Man".

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

The raft stood to open sea. A mast of pandamus leaves served for its sail and a paddle of wood for its helm. It was woven of breeze and bamboo sticks lashed upon triple rows of ladders. And it carried four men. Three of them had huddled together at the far end. Their bodies were blackened with dried blood and the hair upon them was long and matted. They wore only the rags of blue convict's uniforms. On wrist and ankle they carried their mark; the dark and wrinkled stain of the manacles. There was Dubos: doctor, man of the world, murderer.

DUBOS:

Friends, the thing is done.

NARRATOR:

And Feneral: forger, ladies man, weakling, and coward.

FENERAL:

Yes, we've escaped.

NARRATOR:

And the one known as the Parrot: thief and cutthroat.

PARROT:

So far, so good.

DUBOS:

And by the way of celebration, gentlemen, may I offer you cigarettes?

F/X:

LIGHTLY SPLASHING WATER, CONTINUES

FENERAL:

Cigarettes! Ha ha ha! Doctor, you're a marvel, a magician! And look at them, white and fresh as though they just came from the package.

PARROT:

How did you do it?

DUBOS:

Oh, every six months there are about seventy-five escapes from Nomea, and not more than one succeeds. Ours would be that one, I knew. So, three weeks ago, I bribed the night guard for these very cigarettes. So that we might sit here, my friends, as we are doing, and celebrate.

PARROT:

I want a light.

F/X:

Match strikes

DUBOS:

A light, for the Parrot.

FENERAL:

Our doctor's a wonder, he thinks of everything. He gives us cigarettes, matches, and our freedom.

PARROT:

Wait 'til you've got your two feet on the pavement again. That'll be the time to sound off about freedom.

FENERAL:

Ahh, to wear starched collars again. To stroll with a girl, clean and fresh from her bath, down La Place de la Concorde, the Rue de Rivilie.

PARROT:

Suppose we get a storm.

DUBOS:

It's not the season of storms.

PARROT:

Just the same, suppose we get a storm.

DUBOS:

Parrot, my friend, you must not be so impatient. Remember we were convicts back there, festering in oblivion. Now we are men raised from the dead.

PARROT:

Suppose we get a storm! Uhh, you've got a gift of speech, doctor, but where's the ship that was going to meet us here?

DUBOS:

This is the day, as agreed. It will meet us.

PARROT:

The wind will blow us to China if we keep on.

DUBOS:

We can't lie any closer to shore, there's a government launch at Toyeene. I doubt if the native trackers have given us up.

FENERAL:

Careful, Parrot, the natives will eat you yet.

PARROT:

I've heard about that. Is it true, doctor, that they'll keep all the runaways they can capture to fatten on?

DUBOS:

Oh, they prefer the reward, still, I...I doubt if they've entirely lost the habit of cannibalism.

FENERAL:

Heh heh. Piece by piece, Parrot, first they'll sample you, then they'll make a stew out of your brains. Oh, they won't miss a thing.

PARROT:

Shut up, Feneral. (PAUSE) The filthy brutes.

FENERAL:

I almost forgot, we have one of them with us.

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

The fourth man was steering the raft. He sat crouched in the stern, his body glistening with spray, his huge, dark hands held the steering paddle. He was motionless; like an idol, his eyes fixed on the course ahead, the fourth man on the raft.

DUBOS:

You are looking at a Konauk, my friend. You will see nothing superior, no line of beauty to redeem the low angle of the forehead, the knobby joints of the body. Nature has stamped him with the mark of inferiority. And he has set the final seal himself, with that twist of bark about his middle and that prong of pig ivory through his nose.

FENERAL:

Yes, but nonetheless, he's a man, and there is a price on our heads. He could be taking us where he likes...

DUBOS:

Calm yourself, Feneral, this is a very simple animal, an infant, really.

PARROT:

Does that mean he couldn't doublecross us?

DUBOS:

It does. He is bound by his duty. I made my bargain with his chief up the river, and this one is sent to deliver us on board our ship. That's the only interest he has in us.

FENERAL:

And he'll do it?

DUBOS:

He will. That is the nature of the natives.

FENERAL:

Well, I don't trust him, not for a minute.

PARROT:

The brute. The animal. You! It's you I'm talking about, you dirty brute.

DUBOS:

Save your breath, Parrot, he speaks no language, only a few noises, a few signs.

PARROT:

I don't feel right on the same raft with that.

FENERAL:

Well, burn yourselves up in the sun if you like, but me, I'm going to crawl under a mat and get some sleep.

DUBOS:

Yes, we should all sleep a little, conserve ourselves. (MUSIC) and when we awake, our ship will be here. Our saucy little topsail schooner, her mast standing out against the sky, and we'll be on our way to France. Yes, sleep, my friends.

(MUSIC UP AND UNDER)

 

NARRATOR:

The two younger convicts dozed under the heat of the day, but not the doctor. He stood once again to sweep the skyline under his shaded hand. His plan had been so careful, so precise, he had counted absolutely on meeting the ship, a small schooner, one of those flitting, half piratical traders of the Copra Islands, that can be hired, like cabs in a dark street, for any sinister enterprise. And there was no ship, and there was no crossroads where one might sit and wait.

(MUSIC OUT)

 

FENERAL:

(YAWN) Good morning, Doctor.

DUBOS:

It's afternoon, Feneral.

FENERAL:

Oh, yes, so it is. I slept like a corpse.

PARROT:

Hey, where's the ship, Doctor? It was going to be here when we woke up.

DUBOS:

It will be here.

FENERAL:

I'm thirsty. I'm dying with thirst.

DUBOS:

So are we all, Feneral.

FENERAL:

Where's the flask? I'm roasted in the sun.

DUBOS:

You'll just have to roast some more. This crew is put on rations.

PARROT:

What are you talking about? Where's that water?

DUBOS:

I have it here...

PARROT:

So you have. Do you think it's yours?

DUBOS:

No, it's ours, Parrot.

PARROT:

I want a drink, doctor.

DUBOS:

Think a little, Parrot. We have to guard our supplies like reasonable men. We don't know how long we may be floating here.

PARROT:

Oh, so that's how you talk now - you don't know how long, but you were sure enough when we started.

DUBOS:

I'm still sure. The ship will come. She cannot stay for us in one spot. She'll be cruising to and fro until she intercepts us. Until then, we must wait.

PARROT:

Huh, that's good, we must wait, and in the mean time, what? Fry here in this heat? Our tongues hanging out while you deal us out water drop by drop?

DUBOS:

Perhaps.

PARROT:

No, the man doesn't live who can feed me with a spoon.

DUBOS:

Unless you would die very speedily, we must guard our water, we can only do our best with what we have.

PARROT:

Alright, Doctor, do your best. Give me a drink.

DUBOS:

You...you may have your share, of course, but be warned, when it's gone, don't come to us, to Feneral and me.

FENERAL:

Yes, what's fair is fair.

PARROT:

My drink.

DUBOS:

Very well.

F/X:

Water being poured.

PARROT:

Oh, a thimble full, one thimble.

DUBOS:

This way we should have enough for three days, maybe more, with equal shares among the three of us.

FENERAL:

That's right, there are only three of us.

DUBOS:

You...um, you were thinking of him, Feneral, of our pilot. He looks somewhat like us, doesn't he? But his body has never known clothes; his feet, shoes; his heart has never known the swelling that comes with feelings of love or beauty. His mind has never known a single thought. Look at us three, gentlemen. You, Feneral, a forger. You, Parrot, a thief. And I, Doctor Dubos, of Paris and Marseilles, a murderer. And yet, we are civilized men, and this is a savage animal. And our provisions are for civilized men only.

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

The three men awoke to the second day on the raft. They looked, and saw the far round horizon and the empty desert of the sea, and their own long shadows that slipped slowly before them over its smooth, slow heaving. The land had sunk away from them in the night. The trap had been sprung. As the savage sun kindled upon them with the power of a burning glass, a calm fell - an absolute calm. The air hung, weighted; the sea heaved and fell in polished undulations; and the sun shown, driving into their eyelids like white hot splinters. They crawled to the shelter of their mats, gasping, shriveling. And the water, the world of water, was slack and thick as oil.

FENERAL:

Oh, how lonely it is.

PARROT:

Doctor Dubos?

DUBOS:

Yes, Parrot?

PARROT:

Look around you.

DUBOS:

What do you mean?

PARROT:

Go on, look around. What do you see?

DUBOS:

I see water, Parrot, and the horizon. Nothing else.

PARROT:

Ooo, don't you see a ship? A saucy little schooner? Those were your words. Well, where is it? Why don't you see it?

DUBOS:

It will come.

PARROT:

Will it comfort us to be dead when it comes?

FENERAL:

You say that you count on your friends, but suppose they leave you to rot here, leave Parrot and me to rot here? That would be a joke, ehh, Doctor? To wait for a ship that will never come?

DUBOS:

It will come. My friends will not fail me.

FENERAL:

Why? How do you know? How can you be so sure?

DUBOS:

There is a safety vault in Paris full of papers to be opened at my death. Those papers contain confession. No gentlemen, my friends will not fail me. Parrot, a moment ago, you asked me what I saw.

PARROT:

Well?

DUBOS:

There was something I neglected.

PARROT:

What's that?

DUBOS:

I see a Konauk, on this raft with us. He does not join us. He does not look at us. He sits on his heels, in the way of the native, with his arms hugging his knees. He sits at the stern, motionless, under the shattering sun. Gazing out into...into vacancy. Whenever I raise my eyes, I see nothing else, only this Konauk.

FENERAL:

He...he seems to be enjoying himself quite well.

DUBOS:

I was thinking so myself.

PARROT:

The cannibal. The savage.

DUBOS:

He does not seem to suffer.

FENERAL:

What's going on in his brain. What does he dream of there? He looks as though he hates us.

PARROT:

The dirty rat.

FENERAL:

Maybe...maybe he's waiting for us to die. Maybe he's waiting for the reward. At least he wouldn't starve on the way home. He could deliver us piece by piece.

PARROT:

How does he do it Doctor? Hasn't he any feeling?

DUBOS:

I've been wondering, it may be that his fibers are tougher, his nerves are...

PARROT:

But we've had water, and he hasn't.

FENERAL:

And yet, I see his skin is moist and fresh.

PARROT:

And his belly, fat as a football. Don't tell me this savage is thirsty. Is there any way he could steal our supplies?

DUBOS:

Certainly not.

PARROT:

Suppose he has his own supplies, hidden.

FENERAL:

What?

PARROT:

We'll see. Search the raft.

FENERAL:

Come on. We'll learn his secret.

PARROT:

Here, look under the mats.

FENERAL:

Carry the pot.

PARROT:

I'll push him aside.

F/X:

punch, groan

FENERAL:

Anything there?

PARROT:

No, no

DUBOS:

Gentlemen, gentlemen, you are mistaken. He has nothing hidden.

PARROT:

You are wrong about him, Doctor, when you say "he has no understanding". There's one thing he can understand...HEY!

F/X:

fight: punches, yells, groans

PARROT:

Not so chipper now, are you? Not so happy with your luck. That'll make you feel something.

DUBOS:

Well, Parrot, you feel better now, don't you? Superior. Come back, my friends, come back under the mats. The glare of the sun is not so bad there.

PARROT:

Oh, idiots!

FENERAL:

What's the matter with our Parrot now?

PARROT:

Idiots! Why do we look and look- the schooner can't help us now! If we're becalmed, then they are too.

FENERAL:

Doctor, is that true?

DUBOS:

Yes. We must hope for a breeze first.

FENERAL:

Well then why didn't you tell us? We trust you. Why do you keep on playing out the farce?

PARROT:

You are wise, Doctor, you are very wise.

DUBOS:

Put down the knife, Parrot.

PARROT:

You know things we don't, and you keep them to yourself. Alright, but be careful. If you think you use your wisdom to get the best of us, be careful, Doctor, because I still have the knife.

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

And so the days dragged by. The second, the third, and now it was the fourth day, and still, there was no breeze. And still there was no ship.

FENERAL:

Oh, Doctor...

DUBOS:

Yes?

FENERAL:

What do, what do you stare at?

DUBOS:

At him, at him, the native.

FENERAL:

The Konauk? Why?

DUBOS:

Look at him. And look at us. We are dying. Our powers are ending.

FENERAL:

And him...

DUBOS:

Naked, wild, brutish. He is yet to give the slightest sign of complaint or weakness.

PARROT:

Doctor, is this a man? Or a fiend?

DUBOS:

A man. It is a man.

FENERAL:

A miracle.

DUBOS:

It is a man, and a very poor and wretched example of a man. You'll find no lower type anywhere. Look at his cranial angle. The high ears. The heavy boned of his skull. Why, he's scarcely above an ape.

PARROT:

Then, what?

DUBOS:

He has a secret.

PARROT:

A secret?

FENERAL:

But, we've seen him, every move he makes, every minute. What chance has he for a secret?

DUBOS:

How absurd. Here are we three, children of the century, products of civilization. And, here is this savage who belongs before the Stone Age. Is he to win the struggle? Absurd.

PARROT:

What kind of secret?

DUBOS:

I can't say. Perhaps some method of breathing. Some strange posture he uses to cheat the sensations of the body. Such things are known by primitive people. Known and jealously guarded. Like the properties of certain drugs, and the uses of hypnotism. Who knows?

PARROT:

We can know. We can find out.

DUBOS:

Would you ask him? Useless. He would not tell. Why should he? We scorned him. We give him no share with us. We abuse him. And so he falls back upon his own expedience. They are the means by which he has survived from the depth of time. By which he may yet survive when all our wisdom is dust.

PARROT:

There are a number of ways of learning secrets. I know them all.

DUBOS:

It would be useless. How could he stand any torture you might invent? You saw how he behaved before. No, no that's not the way.

PARROT:

Oh, listen to MY way! I'm tired of all this talk. You say he's a man. Alright, then he has blood in his veins. At least we could drink.

DUBOS:

No, it would be too hot. It would be salt.

PARROT:

Well, kill him then, and throw him over the side. Let's be rid of the thing.

DUBOS:

We gain nothing.

PARROT:

Then what do you want!

DUBOS:

I want to beat him. That's what I want. To beat him at the game. For our own sakes. For our own racial pride. We must! To out last him. To prove ourselves his masters. Watch him. Watch him closely, my friends.

PARROT:

Watch? I'll watch alright, my good doctor. I'm not sleeping anymore, and leave you alone with that bottle.

FENERAL:

Bottle, the bottle.

DUBOS:

I've been meaning to discuss our rations with you.

PARROT:

Have you?

DUBOS:

We're running very short. I'm afraid we must cut down again.

PARROT:

And what are we cut to?

DUBOS:

Half a thimble full.

PARROT:

NO!

DUBOS:

We must keep our wits.

PARROT:

I say no!

DUBOS:

Alright, then we'll put it to a vote. You say no. I say yes. Feneral...

FENERAL:

Yes, yes, anything, but give me mine now.

DUBOS:

Then it's half a thimble full. Pour Monsieur Feneral. Your share, Feneral.

FENERAL:

More, more, or I'll die. Give me more.

DUBOS:

No more today.

FENERAL:

You must, you must, Doctor!

DUBOS:

No more today!

FENERAL:

Look! A ship! A ship!

PARROT:

Ohh, at last.

DUBOS:

Where? Where is it? I don't see any ship!

PARROT:

It's a trick! Look, Feneral, he has the bottle! You dirty thief!

F/X:

OAR STRIKES

DUBOS:

Look at him! You killed him with that oar.

PARROT:

What about the bottle?

DUBOS:

Yes, there's some left. You got him just in time!

PARROT:

And you caught the bottle just in time.

DUBOS:

It seems I did.

PARROT:

And there is no ship. There will be no ship. We are done because of you and your dirty promises that brought us here. Doctor! Liar! Fool!

DUBOS:

Don't come any closer! Unless you want this flask broken over your head!

PARROT:

No, I wouldn't want that.

DUBOS:

Just think, Parrot. Why should you and I fight? We can see this trouble through and win yet. This calm can't last forever. Besides, there will be only two of us to divide the water now.

PARROT:

Yes, that's true, isn't it? Feneral kindly leaves us his share and inheritance! Alright, I'll take mine now... My share, right now, if you please. Later we'll see.

DUBOS:

So be it... Your share.

PARROT:

Many thanks. And now, Feneral's share, to me please.

DUBOS:

As you say.

PARROT:

And now, another. Another! Good Doctor.

DUBOS:

Three. That's enough, Parrot.

PARROT:

No, Doctor, it's not enough. Now I'll take the rest.

DUBOS:

(GRUNT) Stop! My Arm!

PARROT:

I'll kill you if you don't let go!

DUBOS:

(GASP and GRUNT)

PARROT:

Thank you. You see, I have manners. Haven't I? And I have wisdom too, because I fooled a very wise man. I toast you, Doctor. The best man wins. That was a bright idea of yours. The best...

(GRUNT/MOAN---SPLASH)

 

DUBOS:

(LAUGHING) So...So the best man wins, eh Parrot? You forgot I'm a doctor, didn't you? You forgot that a man cannot go without water for four days, then drink his fill and live through it. Go on, Parrot, gasp out your worthless life while I laugh! Yes, the best man always wins, Parrot! The best man...

(PUNCH/GASP/SPLASH)

 

FENERAL:

So, the best man wins - yes, Doctor. You forgot my knife, didn't you? Forgot me, lying at your feet. Gave me up for dead, didn't you? But now, it is I, Feneral, who will outlast the two of you. Yes, my good Doctor, the best man... always... wins... (SPLASH)

F/X:

Dripping water

DUBOS:

Feneral... you... fool... the... water... it's... running... out.

(PAUSE)

 

(A MAN'S VOICE SINGING A SAILOR'S TUNE)

 

(DRAMATIC MUSIC)

 

F/X:

Knock on door

CAPTAIN:

Come in, come in.

CREW:

Captain, long boat's back, sir.

CAPTAIN:

Alright, sent Marto in.

CREW:

He's right here, sir.

MARTO:

Bad luck, sir. The raft was here all the time, not ten miles away from us.

CAPTAIN:

Ah, that calm. Well, where are they, the passengers?

MARTO:

Oh, we're too late, they're all dead.

CAPTAIN:

All dead, eh?

MARTO:

Yes, one stabbed to death, another's skull crushed, the other fried by the sun. They're all dead.

CAPTAIN:

Well, all the better. Of course, there's nothing to feed them.

MARTO:

Yeah, but how are you goin'...

CAPTAIN:

Ehh, hog's heads my friend. The hog's heads in the afterhole. Fill them nicely with brine, and there we are.

MARTO:

Well, I don't understand.

CAPTAIN:

Oh, you're dull, Marto, very dull. The gentlemen's passage is all paid. Before we left Sydney, I contracted to bring back three escaped convicts. Well, I'll bring 'em back, pickled. So if you'll go back Marto, and bring 'em aboard for the trip, I'll be much obliged.

MARTO:

Very well, sir. Oh, there's a fourth man on the raft, Captain. A Konauk. Still alive. What'll we do with him.

CAPTAIN:

A Konauk? No word in my contract about any Konauk. Leave him there...he's only a savage.

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

And so Doctor Dubos, and Feneral, and the Parrot went aboard for the long trip to their beloved Paris, their bodies pitching and rolling gently in the huge vats of brine. On the raft, the fourth man raised his head slightly. As a wind, fresh and from the west. He watched as the schooner turned, shaping away for Australia and disappeared over the rim of the horizon. The, he spread his sail of pandamus leaves, and headed his raft eastward, back toward New Caledonia, back toward home. Feeling somewhat dry after his exertion, the native plucked a hollow leave, at random from the rushes on his raft. Slowly, leisurely, the native stretched himself at his accustomed place at the stern. He thrust the leaf down deep into one of the bladders underneath the raft, and slowly drank his fill of sweet water. He had a dozen such storage bladders remaining, built into the floats at intervals above the water line. Quite enough to last him safely home again.

(MUSIC)

 

NARRATOR:

Escape is produced and directed by William N. Rosen. "The Fourth Man" by John Russell was adapted for radio by Erving Ravege.

Escape has been presented by the Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations.

(BELL TOLLS)