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Haunted House

Sample Script: Edith Nesbit's "From the Dead"

Below we've included the first pages of the script to show how we adapted a short story by Edith Nesbit to air for radio.

FROM THE DEAD

Edith Nesbit

CAST

Announcer: RG Sley: Deep, crackling, but powerful voice.

Arthur: Cultured refined male. Deep voice.
Ida: Cultured refined female. Soft voice
Miss Ida’s Nurse: lower class British, not shrill voice but sharper.

 

BUSINESS:

1-Spooky Victorian Music (compose)    2-Street Sounds (a-f)  3-Victorian Music  4-Footsteps  5-Rap on glass  6-Paper crinkling (natural)  7-dishes clanging  8-chair scooting across floor  9-pen scribbling  11-door closing  12-door creaks open  13-footsteps 14-sitting in chair  15-soft footsteps  16-footsteps  17-door closing  18-hurried footsteps  19-seaside sounds  20-match lighting   21-paper tearing  22-train whistle  23-train station  24-train on tracks  25-carriage  25-horse hooves   26-knock at door  27-door creaks open  28-fireplace  29-footsteps on stairwell  30-infant sounds  31-key in lock  32-door creaking open  33-lightning flashes  34-footsteps  35-door slamming  36-Thunderstorm  37-baby cooing  38-clock chimes midnight  39-shuffling in next room           39-whisper  40-sound of mattress jostling  41-slow, heavy footsteps (loop slow)  42-rattling doorknob  43-swooping sound        44-door closes  45-something heavy falls  46-baby cries  47-Piano

 

PLAYING TIME: ­­about 35-45 Minutes
SCRIPT BY: JR Billingsley

ACT ONE

EFFECT: (SPOOKY VICTORIAN MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Welcome, listeners

BIZ: (1-SPOOKY VICTORIAN MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Welcome to another hour of horror and mystery, brought to you by Sley House Publishing

(ADV. PLUG)

Hello friends and neighbors. This week, we present to you the story of a man who cannot appreciate who he has until he has lost her. Or, in the case of our unhappy protagonist, driven her away for one unattainable desire. Sit back and enjoy, friends and neighbors, this adaption of Edith Nesbit’s short story, “From the Dead.”

BIZ: (2-a-f-street sounds – muted)(3-Victorian music from an old Victrola plays softly)

Arthur:

But true or not true, your brother is a scoundrel. No man – no decent man – tells such things.

Ida:

 He did not tell me. How dare you suppose it? I found the letter in his desk; and she being my friend and you being her lover, I never thought there could be any harm in my reading her letter to my brother. Give me back the letter. I was a fool to tell you.

Arthur:

Not yet.

BIZ: (4-Footsteps)

Arthur:

(sighs)

BIZ:(5-Knuckles rap on glass)

Arthur:

Have you ever noticed how the London sunset casts a dull red over all? Like this letter, for example. Her dainty handwriting. So quaint. I know it so well. I’ve kissed that hand so often.

BIZ: (6-Paper crinkling – natural sound made by actor)

Arthur:

"Dear, I do—I do love you; but it's impossible. I must marry Arthur. My honour is engaged. If he would only set me free—but he never will. He loves me so foolishly. But as for me, it is you I love—body, soul, and spirit. There is no one in my heart but you. I think of you all day, and dream of you all night. And we must part. And that is the way of the world. Good-bye!—Yours, yours, yours,

Elvire." 

Ida:

You’ve not even touched your dinner.

BIZ: (7-sounds of dishes clanking)

Ida:

Well—do you give me no thanks?

Arthur:

You put a knife in my heart, and then ask for thanks?

Ida:

Pardon me. I have done nothing but show you the truth. For that one should expect no gratitude—may I ask, out of mere curiosity, what you intend to do?

Arthur:

Your brother will tell you——

Ida:

(a bit afraid) You will not tell my brother?

Arthur:

That you have read his private letters? Certainly not!

Ida:

Why are you so angry with me? Be reasonable. What else could I do? 

Arthur:

I don't know.

Ida:

Would it have been right not to tell you?

Arthur:

I don't know. I only know that you've put the sun out, and I haven't got used to the dark yet.

Ida:

Believe me. Believe me, she never loved you.

Arthur:

And yet, there is a softness in your touch that matches your tone, your words to my ears as your hand on my cheek.

Ida:

Then why move away from me?

Arthur:

I beg your pardon. I have behaved very badly. You were quite right to come, and I am not ungrateful. Will you post a letter for me?

BIZ: (8-chair scooting across the floor) (6-paper crinkling) (9-pen scribbling)

Arthur:

(reading as he writes) I give you back your freedom. The only gift of mine that can please you now. Arthur

 

Arthur:

Here. I’ve sealed it. If you would be so kind as to deliver it to her. Goodbye (under breath) Elvire.

 

BIZ: (11-sound of door closing) (13-sound of footsteps) (14-sound of sitting in a chair) (Arthur sighs) (12-door creaks open)

 

Ida:

Are you so very unhappy? Oh, Arthur, don't think I am not sorry for you!

Arthur:

I don't want anyone to be sorry for me, Miss Helmont.

 

BIZ: (15-soft footsteps) (sound of a slight kiss--actor) (15-more footsteps) (11-door closes softly)

Arthur:

Ah, but you do love me, don’t you Miss Helmont. But was Miss Helmont speaking the truth? Was it possible that——? I must see Elvire. I must hear from her own lips whether this blow to my heart came, not from her, but from a woman in whom love might have killed honesty.

 

BIZ: (16-footsteps) (17-door closing)(2a-f-Sounds of the city bustling) (18-Hurried footsteps)

 

Arthur:

(a bit out of breath from running) There, a figure in pink come out of one of the houses. It’s Elvire. I must keep my distance. She can’t see me yet.

BIZ: (2a-fmore street sounds) (18-hurried footsteps)

 

Arthur:

She’s stopped here at the corner of Store Street, but why? Oh, a gentleman approaches. It is … Ida’s brother. Oscar Helmont. Look at the way she gazes into his eyes. They do love each other.

 

 

 

 

[Acts should begin on a new page]

ACT TWO

ANNOUNCER:

And so, Elvire and Oscar Helmont wed, and were wed for nearly a year before our man Arthur finally married Ida. Let’s rejoin them, now three months into their marriage, on a calm night out at their seaside veranda.

BIZ: (19-seaside sounds)

Arthur:

My dearest Ida. 

Ida:

Turn out the lantern, my love. Come to bed.

Arthur:

I was just thinking, my dear. How fortunate I am, but alas how remorseful I am now as well. Such a peculiar dichotomy existing in the soul of one man. I might not but by chance ended up so happy.

Ida:

Dear Arthur. Whatever do you mean? 

Arthur:

I must confess now that I did entertain, if only for a half a day, that you might have been enticing me to your will by forging a lie. But oh don’t look so down.

 

BIZ: (13-sound of footsteps)

 

Arthur:

My love. I have seen the truth. You are brave and beautiful, witty and wise, and beyond all measure adorable. My thoughts turn daily to you as to their natural home. Let no one doubt that I love you as I never loved Elvire. You are the only woman in the world. Compared to you, the rest of the fairer sex remains small. Contemptible. I worship you, my angel.

 

BIZ: (19-sound of seaside)

Ida:

(sighs) (a bit sad)

Heart's heart. How much do you love me?

Arthur:

How much?

Ida:

Yes—how much? I want to know what place it is I hold in your heart. Am I more to you than any one else?"

Arthur:

My love!

Ida:

More than yourself?

Arthur:

More than my life!

Ida:

I believe you. (sighs) Give me your hand. It can make no difference. Nothing in heaven or earth can come between us now.

Arthur:

Nothing. But, sweet, my wife, what is it? You’re deathly pale. 

Ida:

I must tell you. I cannot hide anything now from you, because I am yours—body, soul, and spirit. 

Arthur:

Your words echo under the moonlight. They sting and I can’t understand why.

IDA:

Arthur. You remember my coming to you at Hampstead with that letter? 

Arthur:

Yes, my sweet, and I remember how you——

Ida:

Arthur! Arthur, that letter was a forgery. She never wrote it. I——

BIZ: (19-seaside sounds)

 

Ida:

Arthur. Please sit. Don’t look at me so. 

Arthur:

You did forge the letter. You lie. Cheat. Our life is built on deception.

Ida:

Arth—

Arthur:

I will never speak to you again. You are a liar and a forger.

Arthur:

(in his mind)

My god what am I saying. I do not mean this. Speak man. Tell her. If she would only fall at my feet and beg forgiveness, I would. I do love her. Oh to hold her in my arms again.

Arthur:

You stand so still. Quiet. Just looking at me. What say you?

Ida:

Arthur. Let me explain. She … I—

Arthur:

There is nothing to explain. You are a liar and forger, and that is enough for me. I will never speak to you again. You have wrecked my life.

Ida:

Do you mean that? 

Arthur:

(in his mind)Tell her to put her head on your shoulder. Damn your pride man. Tell her it’s okay to cry and tell her you love her.

Ida:

Do you mean it?

Arthur:

Mean it? Yes. Of course I mean it. Don’t touch me, please. You have ruined my life.

BIZ: (13-sound of footsteps) sound of a door opening and closing.

 

Arthur:

Damn your pride. A walk on the beach will do me some good.

 

BIZ: (19seaside sounds increase)

  

Arthur:

What is she doing I wonder, up in our home? Angry, I assume. But I reacted badly. My god I should have told her how I felt. What she did, I see now, she did for us. She knew where Elvire’s heart lay and proceeded to tell me as gently as possible what I should have already known. As gnawing the pain, how much less it was coming from Ida than had Elvire sat me down. Indeed, she did me a service, not out of jealousy, but out of love. She knew, even before I, that she loved me. I must return home and tell her so. Hurry now, I have been out here so long. Three hours have passed! My god, how worried she must be.

 

BIZ: (3-Victorian music) (11-Sound of a door opening, closing softly)

 

Arthur:

My dear. Ida my dear. Are you awake? I so don’t want to disturb your sleep, but if I must I will turn on a lantern. The moonlight isn’t enough to draw your face from the shadow.

BIZ: (20-match being lit)

 

Arthur:

What is this on our dresser? A note? "Good-bye! Make the best of what is left of your life. I will spoil it no more."

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