The Old Dark House

FADE IN

It's a dark and stormy night -- the ultimate dark and stormy night -- on a MUDDY ROAD somewhere in the Welsh mountains. A feeble 1930s-era automobile struggles through the blinding rain and lurches to a halt. One of its wheels spins in the mud. Inside the car, a frustrated Philip Waverton -- too serious, too married, too thirtyish -- sits in the driver's seat and yanks on the gear shift. His blonde wife Margaret -- an attractive but uptight sophisticate who believes everything she reads in her women's magazines -- sits nervously beside him.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Hell!

MARGARET WAVERTON: What are you stopping for?

PHILIP WAVERTON: I'm stopping for a rest.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Really, Philip, you can't stop here. For pity's sake, either go on or go back. You can't expect me to spend the night like a half-drowned rat on a mountainside.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Better to stop than drive the car gently over a cliff, isn't it?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Well, it won't help things losing your temper.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I've never been in a better temper in my life. I love driving a hundred miles through the dark, practically without headlights. I love the trickle of ice cold water pouring down my neck.

A trickle of ice cold water pours off Philip's hat brim and down his neck.

PHILIP WAVERTON: This is one of the happiest moments of my life.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Would you like me to drive for a bit?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Yes, I was expecting that.

Philip puts the car in gear. Steam wisps out of the radiator as the car CLATTERS down the road.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, I shall be glad when we get to Shrewsbury.

PHILIP WAVERTON: If we get to Shrewsbury.

MARGARET WAVERTON: You happen to have any idea where we are?

PHILIP WAVERTON: I haven't the least idea in the world.

MARGARET WAVERTON: That's very comforting.

PHILIP WAVERTON: You all right, Penderel?

Sprawled across the back seat, lighting his pipe, is ROGER PENDEREL -- a veteran of the First World War, he's the Lost Generation's version of a slacker.

PENDEREL: Fine. Where are we?

PHILIP WAVERTON: We don't know. We've lost our way. We're somewhere in the Welsh mountains, it's half past nine, and I'm very sorry.

PENDEREL (amused): Don't mention it.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Ten to one we don't see Shrewsbury tonight.

PENDEREL: Oh, well, never mind. (sings) Oh, Mister Waverton, what shall I do? I wanted to go to Shrewsbury but they took me on to [Crew?]. (speaks) As a matter of fact, taking one thing with another, I'm not particularly sure that I want to go to Shrewsbury. Far as that goes, I don't particularly want to go anywhere. Something might happen here, but nothing ever happens in Shrewsbury.

Philip glances threateningly at Margaret.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Something certainly might happen here.

PENDEREL: Well, I'll tell you something that might happen. I don't want to frighten Mrs. Waverton.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Go on, Mr. Penderel. I'm not easily frightened.

PENDEREL (cheerfully): Aren't you? I am. Well, I was just going to say, we'll have to be a bit careful--

The car promptly rounds a corner and SMASHES into a sharp edge of rock jutting out of a hillside. After a pause, the car pushes forward until the road disappears and the vehicle, with a ROAR and a splash, submerges axle-deep in standing water, where it jerks to a halt.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Don't stop!

PHILIP WAVERTON: How can I help stopping? You think we're in a motorboat?

PENDEREL (sings, to the tune of "Here comes the bride..."): Stuck for the night! Stuck for the night! Stuck --

MARGARET WAVERTON: Mister Penderel, please!

PENDEREL: Sorry.

Philip guns the engine. A wheel spins. For a moment, it looks doubtful that they'll get unstuck.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Do you think we'll do it?

PHILIP WAVERTON: I really don't know.

Penderel leans forward and waves his handkerchief daintily.

PENDEREL: Bon voyage.

Penderel leans back and puts his feet up on the front seat just as the wheels catch and the car somehow makes it to dry land.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Well, now, for heaven's sakes, stop! Let's look at a map or something.

PENDEREL: My own view is we're not on a map.

The car rolls to a stop as Margaret struggles with a large but incredibly soggy piece of paper.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, you look, Philip, I can't see anything. It's all a stupid puddle.

She hands the map to Philip but it's clearly unreadable by anyone.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Seems to represent this country very well. Everything here is underwater.

PENDEREL: Oh, just drive on. We'll arrive somewhere, sometime.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I suppose that's all we can do.

Philip throws the map at Margaret and STARTS the car.

PENDEREL (sings): Singin' in the bathtub, singin' in the rain....

The driving RAIN and WIND obscure the rest of the lyric. The tiny car passes alongside a mountain just as a sudden landslide SLAMS into it, nearly knocking it off the road. Margaret SCREAMS. The road behind them is instantly blocked by several tons of mud and stone. The car manages to stay on the road and press forward. Margaret spots something up ahead.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, look, Phil! Lights! Lights! Pull in there.

An old dark house -- actually a huge, multi-storied, seventeenth-century mansion with a few lit windows and smoke pouring from a chimney -- looms out of the storm. It doesn't look very inviting.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Probably wiser to push on.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Well, I'm for staying here.

As if to settle the debate, mud and rock POUR down in front of them, blocking the road ahead.

PENDEREL: There you are. The whole hilltop has probably fallen off.

Philip noses the car through the tall stone gate surrounding the estate and approaches the mansion -- surprisingly large to be in such an out-of-the-way place -- until it towers above them. The car stops at the mansion's front door.

CUT TO:

The FRONT STEPS, a moment later. The three weary travelers emerge from the parked car and climb the steep stone steps in the driving rain. Penderel vigorously RINGS the doorbell and POUNDS on the front door, while the others STOMP their feet and shake the rainwater off their clothes. When no one answers, Penderel lowers his voice to recite a bit of poetry.

PENDEREL: 'Is there anybody there?, said the Traveller.'

MARGARET WAVERTON: Knock again, louder.

PENDEREL: I should have thought that was loud enough to wake the dead. That's an idea.

PHILIP WAVERTON: What is?

PENDEREL: Wouldn't it be dramatic? Supposing the people inside were dead, all stretched out with the lights quietly burning about them.

MARGARET WAVERTON: I'm sure it would be very amusing.

PENDEREL: I'm sure I could do with a drink. If people have to be soaked, they should be soaked inside, not out.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Listen.

MARGARET WAVERTON: What is it?

PHILIP WAVERTON: I thought I heard something.

With a THUMP, the front door is unlocked and opened slightly. Half of a hideous, bearded face is visible in the crack -- staring silently at the three, as if peering out from another world. This is MORGAN, the butler -- a brutish, giant hulk of a man with a full black beard and matted hair over a low forehead. Penderel glances at the Wavertons who are just as startled as he. Penderel turns to Morgan.

PENDEREL: Good evening. We've come to ask for shelter. We've lost our way. We're absolutely cut off. Don't you understand? We can't go forward and we can't go back.

The door opens a little more to reveal the rest of Morgan's face -- just as ugly and misshapen as the first half.

PENDEREL: The road's blocked on both sides. Landslide.

Morgan attempts to say something but it emerges as an indecipherable and very queer gurgling sound. He abruptly shuts the door. A confused Penderel turns to the Wavertons.

PENDEREL: Even Welsh ought not sound like that.

The sound of a loud Chinese GONG coming from somewhere inside the house leaves the three shivering travelers looking at each other with concern. The door reopens and Morgan beckons them to enter. They rush into the house.

CUT TO:

The house's MAIN ROOM, seconds later. The three travelers try to slap the rain water off their coats.

[The gigantic MAIN ROOM is the kind of room you rarely see, except on the stage, being a combination of entrance hall, lounge, dining room, drawing room -- lofty and paneled with a large open fireplace in a far corner, a broad staircase running up and around to a balcony and a gallery that traverses the entire room. The fireplace is a smoldering ruin. The oversized wooden dining room table is very old. All the chairs -- the straight-backed ones at the table and the stuffed ones 'round the fire -- are faded and crazy. The electric lights occasionally flicker making the whole place seem jumpy and oddly uncertain.]

A prissy, skeletal man appears at the top of the staircase, makes his way down to the bottom, and, after a pregnant pause, introduces himself in a voice as thin as he is.

HORACE FEMM: My name is Femm. Horace Femm.

PHILIP WAVERTON: How do you do? I'm very sorry to break in on you like this. My name is Waverton. May I introduce my wife?

MARGARET WAVERTON: How do you do?

Horace turns to Penderel.

PENDEREL (a little too cheerfully): Penderel!

HORACE FEMM: Charmed, I'm sure.

PENDEREL: How do you do?

HORACE FEMM: Won't you sit down?

PENDEREL: Thank you.

Penderel notices Horace's eyes turn glassy as he leads the group across the room, over to some chairs next to the fireplace. Horace picks up a bowl and a bouquet of flowers lying nearby.

HORACE FEMM (matter-of-fact): My sister was on the point of arranging these flowers.

Horace promptly throws the flowers into the roaring fire. He then gestures for the three to take a seat. The Wavertons pretend not to notice Horace's odd behavior, though Penderel glances at the empty bowl in Horace's hands and then at the flowers burning in the fire.

PENDEREL: I don't know if your man explained the situation to you.

HORACE FEMM: He did his best but I'm afraid I couldn't understand him. You see, Morgan is dumb.

PENDEREL: Oh, I see. Of course, I didn't realize. We saw your lights and wondered if you'd be kind enough to give us shelter for the night. You see it's quite impossible to go on.

HORACE FEMM: I see. How awkward. How very awkward.

REBECCA FEMM, carrying a lighted candle, appears on the second floor gallery just above them. Nearly as old as Horace, she is as short and chubby as he is tall and thin, and gratingly shouts nearly everything she says.

REBECCA FEMM (to Horace): What is it? What do they want?

HORACE FEMM (to the guests): Allow me to introduce my sister, Miss Rebecca Femm.

PENDEREL, PHILIP & MARGARET: How do you do?

Rebecca races across the gallery and down the stairs, ranting like a maniac.

REBECCA FEMM: What are they doing here? What do they want?

The three guests collectively manage to wear a polite mask.

PENDEREL, PHILIP & MARGARET: How do you do?

Rebecca pays no attention to them and crosses to Horace, acting as if the guests aren't really there.

REBECCA FEMM: What do they say? What do they want? What are they doing here? What's all the fuss about? What?

HORACE FEMM (to the guests): You must excuse my sister. She's a little deaf. In fact, sometimes quite deaf.

Horace moves closer to Rebecca just as Morgan appears from behind her to carry off her candle. Horace puts his face close to hers.

HORACE FEMM (to Rebecca): They want to know if they can stay here for the night. Shelter. They've been caught in the storm.

REBECCA FEMM: Of course they can't stay! We can't have them here!

She stalks away to sit by the wall. The three guests begin protesting, drown each other out, then stop. Amused by this, Penderel turns to Philip.

PENDEREL (to Philip): Go on...

PHILIP WAVERTON (to the Femms): You see, there's a landslide. Half the mountain seems to be crumbling. It only just missed us. The road's blocked behind us and I'm pretty sure it's blocked in front as well. We hate to intrude but what else can we do?

PENDEREL: You see there isn't anywhere else we can go. And even the road below is underwater and, for that matter, this place itself may be underwater pretty soon or even buried.

Horace drops the flower bowl with a loud CRASH.

PHILIP WAVERTON: What's the matter?

In a panic, Horace rushes to Rebecca who sits against a wall, smirking at him.

HORACE FEMM: Did you hear what he said? There's a landslide and floods. The lake has burst its banks. We're trapped. We're trapped. We've got to go. Do you hear? We've got to go.

Rebecca eyes Horace contemptuously as he quivers.

REBECCA FEMM: Hmmph. You're afraid, Horace. You're afraid, aren't you? You don't believe in God and yet you're afraid to die. You've seen His anger in the sky and you've heard Him in the night. And you're afraid. Afraid. Afraid. Where's your mocking now? You might well be afraid. Your time will come. But it hasn't come yet. This house is safe. I know it better than you. Morgan!

A clap of THUNDER as the ominous Morgan turns and meets Rebecca as she crosses to him.

REBECCA FEMM: You remember the great storm years ago when we were cut off? And there was a landslide. And floods. And the roads were washed away?

Morgan nods, waves his arm in a sweeping gesture to include the whole house, and then points insistently toward the floor.

REBECCA FEMM: Morgan remembers. He means this house is safe. Because it's built on rock.

A triumphant Rebecca returns to her seat by the wall as a calmer Horace rises to address the guests.

HORACE FEMM: You will have to stay here. The misfortune is yours, not ours.

REBECCA FEMM (screams): No beds! They can't have beds!

HORACE FEMM: As my sister hints, there are, I'm afraid, no beds.

MARGARET WAVERTON: That's quite all right. If we can just sit around the fire that will be fine.

HORACE FEMM: By all means. I'm not very sure that I want to go to bed myself tonight. Morgan will tend to the fire.

Morgan throws a few logs on the fire. Philip looks out the window.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Is there any place I can put the car out of the rain?

HORACE FEMM: There are some stables 'round the corner, to the right. Morgan will show you.

Morgan glances at Rebecca who nods in reluctant agreement. Clearly, he takes his orders from her.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Thanks very much.

PENDEREL: I'll come along and get the bags.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Right.

Philip, Penderel and Morgan cross to the front door.

REBECCA FEMM: No beds! You can't have beds!

CUT TO:

Philip, Penderel and Morgan climbing down the FRONT STEPS in darkness and rain to unload the bags from the car. Philip does the unloading, throwing the bags to Penderel.

PENDEREL: Quite a storm!

PHILIP WAVERTON: We're well out of it.

PENDEREL: I hope you're right, though this house gives me the creeps, not to mention its inmates.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Well, it's better than driving along roads that aren't there. At least there's a roof and a fire here.

With a savage gesture, Morgan beckons Philip to follow him to the stables. Penderel re-enters the house with the bags.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM. Margaret opens the door for Penderel. Horace emerges from the house's main corridor to confront Penderel with a tray.

HORACE FEMM: Now, Mister Penderel, do you think that you could join me in a drink?

PENDEREL (very pleased): Mister Femm, I honestly believe I could join you in a drink.

Horace, Penderel and Margaret cross the MAIN ROOM to the fireplace as Rebecca looks on with disapproval. Horace pours, a little eagerly.

HORACE FEMM: It's only gin, you know. Only gin. I like gin.

Rebecca, still at the wall, crinkles her nose at this comment. Horace hands out the gin to Margaret and Penderel.

HORACE FEMM: Mrs. Waverton?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Thanks very much.

HORACE FEMM: Mister Penderel, I'll give you a toast that you will not appreciate, being young. I give you -- illusion!

PENDEREL: Illusion? Huh! I'm precisely the right age for that toast, Mister Femm.

Penderel drinks.

HORACE FEMM: Oh. I presume you are one of the gentlemen slightly, shall we say, battered by the war?

PENDEREL: Correct, Mister Femm. War generation, slightly soiled, a study in the bittersweet, the man with the twisted smile, and this, Mister Femm, is exceedingly good gin.

A wicked crash of THUNDER as the two men drink.

HORACE FEMM: Dreadful night. Seems to be getting worse.

PENDEREL: Yes, it is pretty bad. But evidently there's no danger here. Your sister was quite definite about that.

HORACE FEMM: But supposing we're cut off, shut up in here?

PENDEREL: Well, it would be rather a nuisance for you having us billeted on you like this. HORACE FEMM: But it's awful. How can you be so calm? You don't seem to understand. We may be cut off. Shut up in this house!

Horace tries to get a grip on himself. Penderel looks around, sensing that something more than the storm is frightening Horace.

HORACE FEMM: I'm afraid I'm rather nervous. I am rather a nervous man. But the fact is... (lowers his voice) Morgan is an uncivilized brute. Sometimes he drinks heavily. A night like this would set him going and once he's drunk, he's rather dangerous. I don't wish to alarm you, Mrs. Waverton, but I don't quite know what we should do.

But Margaret is not easily frightened.

MARGARET WAVERTON (cheerfully): Well, I know what I'm going to do. That is, if Miss Femm will let me.

REBECCA FEMM: What?

MARGARET WAVERTON: I'm dreadfully wet and I would be so glad if I could go and change my clothes.

REBECCA FEMM: What?

MARGARET WAVERTON: I wondered if I might change my things?

REBECCA FEMM: You look wet. You'd better go and change your things.

MARGARET WAVERTON (amused): Oh, thank you. A good idea. Is there a bedroom or something?

Rebecca rises, picks up her candle, and leads Margaret out of the main room through the door that leads to the house's main corridor.

CUT TO:

Rebecca and Margaret as they slowly make their way down the darkened MAIN CORRIDOR where curtains, hung over half open windows, billow ominously in the wind. Rebecca must cup her hand around the candle flame to keep it from going out.

MARGARET WAVERTON: It's a dreadful night.

REBECCA FEMM: What?

MARGARET WAVERTON: I say, it's a dreadful night.

REBECCA FEMM: Yes, it's a very old house. Very old.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Very kind of you to let us stay.

REBECCA FEMM: What?

MARGARET WAVERTON: I say, you're very kind!

REBECCA FEMM: Yes, it's a dreadful night. I'm a little deaf.

MARGARET WAVERTON: I understand.

REBECCA FEMM: Yes. No beds!

The two women enter Rebecca's bedroom.

CUT TO:

REBECCA'S BEDROOM, a moment later. Oppressive and dark.

REBECCA FEMM: I'll have none of this electric light. I won't have it.

Rebecca lights two candles in front of the room's warped mirror as Margaret unpacks her bag. A bed, a dressing-table and a shut window are visible.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Thanks very much. I can manage quite well now.

But Rebecca makes no move to leave.

REBECCA FEMM: My sister Rachel had this room once. She died when she was twenty-one. She was a wicked one. Handsome and wild as a hawk. All the young men used to follow her about. With her red lips and her big eyes and her white neck. But that didn't save her. She fell off her horse, hunting. Hurt her spine. On this bed she lay -- month after month. Many the time I sat here listening to her screaming.

MARGARET WAVERTON: How dreadful.

REBECCA FEMM: She used to cry out to me... to kill her. But I'd tell her to turn to the Lord. But she didn't. She was godless to the last.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Well, I'd better change my wet things.

An increasingly unsettled Margaret begins to undress hastily but Rebecca keeps right on, her twisted reflection appears in the warped mirror opposite her, distorting her face.

REBECCA FEMM: They were all godless here. They used to bring their women here. Brazen, lolling creatures in silks and satins. They filled the house with laughter and sin, laughter and sin. If I ever went down among them -- my own father and brothers -- they would tell me to go away and pray. They wouldn't tell Rachel to go away and pray. Ha ha ha ha ha! And I prayed! I left them with their lustful red and white women. My father's still alive. He's upstairs. He's very old.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, is he?

REBECCA FEMM: He's a hundred and two.

MARGARET WAVERTON: That's very old, isn't it?

REBECCA FEMM: He's a wicked, blasphemous old man.

Margaret puts on dry clothes: high-heeled shoes and a revealing white dress. Rebecca circles her ominously and moves uncomfortably close.

REBECCA FEMM: You're wicked, too. Young and handsome. Silly. And wicked. You think of nothing but your long, straight legs and your white body and how to please your man. You revel in the joys of fleshly love, don't you?

Rebecca fingers Margaret's dress.

REBECCA FEMM: That's fine stuff, but it'll rot.

Rebecca points to Margaret's chest.

REBECCA FEMM: That's finer stuff, still. But it'll rot, too, in time.

Rebecca suddenly pushes her hand flatly and coldly against the bare skin of Margaret's chest. Shocked, Margaret pulls away.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Don't! How dare you?

A KNOCK at the door and Rebecca abruptly stops terrorizing Margaret, picks up her candle, glares at Margaret, pauses to check her own reflection in another mirror, wipes her brow, then scurries out the door. Breathing hard, a still unnerved Margaret touches her chest, crosses to a window, puts on a necklace, and -- seeking relief from the oppressive atmosphere of the room -- opens the window a crack. Instantly, a BLAST of wind blows the curtains up and scatters papers everywhere. Startled, she crosses to the mirror where she sees her face twisted in the warped glass and has a sudden FLASHBACK of Rebecca's twisted visage along with fragments of her rant interspersed with brief glimpses of Morgan's hideous face peering from behind a door.

REBECCA FEMM'S VOICE: ...brazen, lolling creatures in silks and satins... laughter and sin... laughter and sin... lustful red and white women...

Rebecca's voice LAUGHS maniacally. Margaret SCREAMS. She rushes to the window, tries to shut it. No use -- it's stuck -- and the wind and rain and THUNDER are more than she can handle. She runs to the bedroom door, knocking over furniture as she goes. She tries to push the door open but panics further when it refuses to budge.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Philip! Aaah!

She SHRIEKS. Then she realizes she must pull the door to get it open. She does so and exits.

CUT TO:

Margaret emerging from the bedroom into the MAIN CORRIDOR. She pauses outside the door to catch her breath and then runs down the corridor, past the half-open windows with their billowing curtains to the door that leads to the main room. Pausing a moment to get a grip, Margaret straightens her hair before re-entering the main room.

CUT TO:

Margaret as she enters the MAIN ROOM and shuts the corridor door. She pauses a moment to lean against the door. The men turn to see her and find her rather attractive in her white dress.

PENDEREL: Good for you, Mrs. Waverton. You make it look like a party.

MARGARET WAVERTON (quietly): Thank you.

Philip meets her halfway across the room.

MARGARET WAVERTON: You must have thought I was a long time.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Matter of fact, I thought you were quicker than usual.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh. I just thought I'd been rather long.

An awkward pause -- broken by Rebecca standing near the dinner table.

REBECCA FEMM (aggressively): Supper!

Morgan brings the food, the coldest of cold suppers, while everyone else gathers 'round the ancient table. Rebecca motions to Margaret to sit beside her. Margaret stares anxiously at Rebecca and indicates to Philip that he should take the seat instead.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Philip.

Philip notices his wife's anxiety and also stares at Rebecca. Horace uses a fork to point out Penderel's seat for him. Everyone sits, except for Morgan who takes up a position behind Rebecca. Horace, at one end of the table, rises and using a large knife and fork starts to cut the red ruin of a great joint of roast beef on a platter beside him. Rebecca, at the other end of the table, quickly rises.

REBECCA FEMM: Horace! What are you doing? We aren't all heathens.

Horace raises the knife and fork before him.

HORACE FEMM: Oh, I had forgotten my sister's strange tribal habits. The beef will seem less tough when she has invoked a blessing upon it.

REBECCA FEMM: Horace Femm. If I can't hear, I can see. You're blaspheming.

HORACE FEMM: On the contrary, my dear, Rebecca. I was merely telling your wondering guests that you were about to thank your gods for their bounty....

REBECCA FEMM: That'll do. I know your mocking, lying tongue.

HORACE FEMM: ... to thank them for the health and prosperity and happiness granted to this family. For its years of peace and plenty. To thank them for having created Rebecca Femm. And Roderick Femm. And Saul--

REBECCA FEMM: Stop!

Rebecca pounds on the table as a nicely-timed clap of THUNDER punctuates the gesture. Horace seems to shrink as he sits and bows his head, his knife and fork crossed before him. Rebecca sits and rapidly -- and incomprehensibly -- says grace.

REBECCA FEMM: Bless O Lord this [?]... mankind. Amen.

Immediately, she grabs the loaf of bread beside her and starts sawing away at it.

HORACE FEMM (to Margaret): Have a potato.

Horace slides the potato bowl to Margaret.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Thank you.

Margaret has a potato. The odd dinner rolls along mostly in uneasy silence, except for the intrusive NOISE of the storm and the CLATTER of age-old plates and utensils. Rebecca cuts a slice of bread, sticks it with a fork, hands the fork to Philip who hands it to Margaret who offers it to Horace who merely yanks the bread off the fork and throws it down. Meanwhile, Morgan and Penderel exchange cautious glances at one another as Morgan circles the table to carry a plate of sliced roast beef from Horace to Rebecca. Morgan looks so huge and savage that it seems strange to see him carrying the various plates and ornate serving dishes throughout the scene. The whole group busies itself passing things around the table.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Well, this is a storm and a half.

PENDEREL: Yes, isn't it?

HORACE FEMM (to Penderel): Have a potato.

PENDEREL: Thank you. I should love a potato.

Penderel has a potato. He passes the bowl to Rebecca. And then offers her some condiments in a fancy server.

PENDEREL: Vinegar, Miss Femm?

HORACE FEMM: Hah.

Rebecca sprinkles a little vinegar and then, her mouth full and chewing vigorously, uses a pair of tongs to hurriedly load her plate with four pickled onions from an odd glass container offered by Morgan. Morgan offers the onions to Philip who declines. Horace puts some roast beef on Penderel's plate.

MARGARET WAVERTON: It's simply coming down in bucketfuls outside.

PENDEREL: Thank you, Mrs. Waverton. That's the phrase I've been searching for all evening.

Morgan offers Penderel the pickled onions.

PENDEREL (politely): No, no pickled onions, thank you.

The supper rolls on: Horace places a ragged slice of roast beef on his own plate; Margaret cuts and eats a tiny piece of something; Philip removes an ugly black eye from his potato; Rebecca rapidly shovels the food from her plate to her mouth, not taking the time to taste it; Philip digs out another eye from the potato. The room's electric lights begin to flicker badly. Margaret grows more unnerved but tries not to show it.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Those lights. They gave me quite a start. I suppose it's the storm.

HORACE FEMM (matter-of-fact): On the contrary. We make our own electric light here and we're not really good at it. Pray don't be alarmed if they go out altogether.

Margaret doesn't like the sound of that. Morgan slowly approaches her with a giant pitcher of ice water, staring at her in a way that suggests he is rather attracted by her. She doesn't sense his presence behind her. He attempts to fill her water glass just as she absently reaches for something. Her hand brushes against his, startling her. Instantly uncomfortable at his presence, she covers the glass with her hand to indicate she wants no water. They stare uneasily at one another for a moment before slowly breaking eye contact. Meanwhile, Rebecca, oblivious to the world, continues to snarf down her food in great haste. The silence is finally broken by a sharp RAPPING at the front door. A look of dread passes over Horace's face.

PENDEREL (amused, to Horace): There's someone outside.

REBECCA FEMM: They can't come in!

PHILIP WAVERTON: But surely they must come in. It's probably dangerous out there now.

More RAPPING, more insistent. Penderel turns to a very reluctant Horace who clutches his napkin in a white-knuckled fist.

PENDEREL: They're probably half drowned. You know, really, we oughtn't keep them waiting.

HORACE FEMM: No, I'm afraid we shall have to let them in. (to Morgan) Morgan, open the door.

Morgan's eyes shift from Horace to Rebecca, who rises and starts for the door.

REBECCA FEMM: Come on then, Morgan. Let them in.

Morgan trails Rebecca like a shadow. He opens the front door and a BLAST of wind and rain hits Rebecca causing her to squint and cringe. Suddenly, a young woman bursts in -- a hot little brunette chorus girl named GLADYS -- all wet and muddy and exhilarated by the storm. Full of life, she's about as out of place in this musty seventeenth century house as anyone can get.

GLADYS: Whoooo! What a night!

Immediately, an obnoxious, bulky, middle-aged man with a thick Welsh accent and a vulgar laugh, SIR WILLIAM PORTERHOUSE, enters and confronts a deadpan Morgan.

PORTERHOUSE: I thought you were never going to open that door.

As Morgan closes the door, Porterhouse whips off his hat and addresses those at the table.

PORTERHOUSE: Why -- hoo huh hah! -- there must've been a reservoir burst or something. Ha ha ha! Anyhow, before we knew where we were, something had fallen down and smashed the car in. Ha ha ha! It's a wonder it didn't smash us. Hah!

Porterhouse turns to a thoroughly sour-faced Rebecca beside him.

PORTERHOUSE: Incidentally, this house will probably be washed away any minute.

Rebecca scoffs. Porterhouse heads for the fireplace, stopping only to glance at the lightning outside the windows.

PORTERHOUSE (off the lightning): Hey, whoa, ha! Look at that! Ha!

Porterhouse starts to remove his wet coat.

PORTERHOUSE: Ohhh. That's a grand fire.

Porterhouse startles Rebecca by violently shaking the rainwater off his coat and into the fire.

PORTERHOUSE: I'm sorry to barge in on you like this, but -- ha! -- needs must when the devil drives. Ha ha ha!

Porterhouse dumps his coat by the fireplace.

PORTERHOUSE: Well? Who's the owner here?

Horace has joined Rebecca as they scowl disapprovingly at this vulgar man.

HORACE FEMM: My sister is the owner. Miss Femm.

PORTERHOUSE: How do you do, Miss Femm? (impressively, shaking Rebecca's hand) My name is Porterhouse. Sir William Porterhouse.

Hopping into view on one shoe is Gladys who has shed her wet things. She collapses on a convenient chair.

PORTERHOUSE: And this lady is Miss Gladys DuCane, a friend of mine.

GLADYS: Glad to know you. (salutes them with her rolled up socks) Nice weather for ducks.

HORACE FEMM: Allow me to introduce you. This is Mrs. Waverton.

MARGARET WAVERTON: How do you do?

HORACE FEMM: Mister Penderel.

Penderel takes his eyes off Gladys just long enough to acknowledge Porterhouse.

PENDEREL: How do you do, Sir William?

HORACE FEMM: And, uh, Mister Waverton.

PHILIP WAVERTON: How do you do?

HORACE FEMM: Sir William Porterhouse.

PORTERHOUSE: Howdyedo?

A portentous clap of THUNDER. Gladys hangs her stockings, wrings out her dress and tries to put her shoes on. Porterhouse has the fireplace poker in his hand.

PORTERHOUSE: I've never seen such a night in all my born natural. (points with the poker) I tell you, it's coming down in bucketfuls. Pretty well soaked we were, I don't mind telling you. (sneezes) I shouldn't be surprised if we caught our death. (sneezes)

Penderel crosses to Gladys.

PENDEREL: Here, you'd better not put those wet shoes on again or, as Sir William points out, you'll probably catch your death.

Penderel bends down beside her and opens his nearby suitcase to pull out an extra pair of his shoes. Rebecca looks down at Gladys' bare legs with evident disapproval as Penderel helps put the shoes on.

PENDEREL: Here you are. These may not be exactly your size but at least they're dry.

GLADYS (laughs): Thanks. That'll do fine. Whee! Ha ha!

Gladys jumps up and -- singing a wordless version of "Ach der Lieber Augustin" -- dances a funky clog dance in the oversized shoes, as Rebecca looks on, disgusted. Gladys catches sight of Rebecca and immediately quiets down. Trying to lighten the moment, Gladys turns to Penderel and adopts an upper class accent.

GLADYS (to Penderel): Are you fond of opera, Monsieur [?] ?

PENDEREL (laughs): Come and have something to eat.

PORTERHOUSE: Oh! Now, you're talkin'.

Morgan, Horace, Rebecca, Penderel, Gladys and Porterhouse move toward the table.

HORACE FEMM: Morgan, bring out some chairs.

The group clusters around the table and sits. Morgan brings a chair for Gladys and place settings for her and Porterhouse, who is rambling on loudly.

PORTERHOUSE: Oh ho! Roast beef! Hah! There's nothing like roast beef when a man's hungry. (patting a startled Horace on the chest) Ha ha! (sings, off key) "Oh, the roast beef of old England --" (speaks) How does that go? Do you remember that, Mister Waverton, or was that before your time?

PHILIP WAVERTON (affably): Penderel's our song expert.

PORTERHOUSE (to Penderel): Oh, so you're musical, are you?

As Porterhouse sits, Rebecca stares at him in disgust.

PORTERHOUSE: Well, I've got a bit of an ear myself --

Horace, annoyed by this uncouth lout, smartly RAPS the table with the handle of his large knife, silencing Porterhouse. Horace, using the knife, points to the potatoes.

HORACE FEMM (firmly, to Porterhouse): Have a potato.

Porterhouse frowns at Horace, looks around sheepishly, and has a potato.

HORACE FEMM (to Morgan) Morgan, bring a glass of water for Sir William.

Morgan pours a glass and slowly brings it to Porterhouse who is seated next to Margaret.

PORTERHOUSE: Ah, thanks very much.

Morgan lingers a moment too long over Margaret who eyes him nervously. FADE OUT on the diners as they eat in uneasy silence.

FADE IN on the empty dinner table in the MAIN ROOM, some time later that evening. The firelight casts Porterhouse's shadow on the wall behind it. Porterhouse, Philip, Penderel, Gladys, Horace, and Margaret sit in chairs around the fire, enjoying an after-dinner smoke: Porterhouse, a cigar; Philip, Penderel and Gladys, cigarettes. Only Rebecca and Morgan are absent from the circle.

PORTERHOUSE: ... take ourselves, for instance. Here we are, six people, sitting around, and we've been talking now nearly two hours, and what do we know about each other? Not a thing.

HORACE FEMM: How reassuring.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I agree with Sir William. At best, we only make guesses.

MARGARET WAVERTON: If you were a woman, you wouldn't talk about only guesses.

PENDEREL: Ah! The famous old feminine intuition. Does it ever tell you which horse is going to win the Derby?

Gladys grins at Penderel.

MARGARET WAVERTON (to Penderel): No. But it tells me quite a lot about you.

HORACE FEMM: I wonder, Mrs. Waverton, whether it happens to tell you that I am wanted by the police?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Why, no, Mister Femm, it tells me nothing so romantic.

HORACE FEMM: After all, can you conceive of anybody living in a house like this if they didn't have to?

PORTERHOUSE: Well, there's no accounting for tastes, you know.

Porterhouse laughs his vulgar laugh.

HORACE FEMM (disdainfully, off Porterhouse): No.

PENDEREL: Miss DuCane?

GLADYS: Yes?

PENDEREL: What does your intuition tell you about me?

GLADYS: Quite a lot.

PENDEREL: Hmm... that frightens me a good deal.

MARGARET WAVERTON (to Gladys): What does it tell you?

GLADYS: It tells me -- well, it's not very interesting anyway.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Oh, yes, it is. Let's have it.

GLADYS: Well... heh heh, it sounds silly but -- I think he doesn't quite fit into these times. You know, factories and cheap advertising and money grubbing and -- well, what I mean is, Bill here's all right with these things. But they make Mister Penderel a kind of fish out of water.

PORTERHOUSE: You should be flattered, Mister Penderel.

PENDEREL: No, I'm not flattered. You see, I've not much sympathy with fish out of water although I happen to be one myself. My trouble is, I don't think enough things are worthwhile. Now, Sir William here would put tremendous energy into anything to make even a few pounds. I don't think it's worth it.

Porterhouse jumps to his feet.

PORTERHOUSE: No doubt you'll think I'm very fat-headed, my young friend. But maybe I can see through things a bit further than you suppose. That was a very fine speech of yours but I know as well as everybody else here that you're really only getting at me.

PENDEREL: But, honestly, I wasn't doing anything of the kind. I envy you. I admire you.

PORTERHOUSE: Oh, yes, you envy me, all right. But you don't admire me. Heh! Well, I-- I don't admire myself so much. I know that money-making isn't everything. But let me tell you something. I'm a young man, see? Married to a Manchester girl, pretty as paint, the only thing in the world I care about. Well... she dies. It's this way. My directors give a party. They ask us. Red letter day for us, I can tell you. Heh! I buy my first dress suit. And Lucy had a new frock. A cotton frock. It seems that Lucy didn't go too well at that party. Especially with the women. They snubbed her. Nothing definite, you know. Just didn't think the cotton frock was good enough. Well, Lucy worries about it. Gets into her head that she's gonna hold me back. Well, you may not believe it, but I know that's what killed her. That's what started me making money. I swore I'd smash those fellows and their wives who wouldn't give my Lucy a kind word. Ha! And I have smashed 'em. At least, most of 'em. (looks down, a little ashamed) Once you've started making money, it's hard to stop. Especially if you're like me, there isn't much else you're good at. Ha! (sits) But what Gladys here has to be superior about, I don't know. Miss DuCane. (to Gladys) Why don't you tell 'em your real name?

GLADYS: My real name... is Perkins.

PENDEREL: And a very nice name, too.

PORTERHOUSE: I may not be this and I may not be that but you don't catch me pretending to be what I'm not.

PENDEREL (to Porterhouse): I think I'm finding you a little bit offensive.

Gladys rises.

GLADYS: That's all right, Mister Penderel. I can take care of myself. Least, if I can't by now, I never will be able to.

Penderel gets up and leaves the circle around the fire.

GLADYS (to Porterhouse) I wasn't trying to put anything across you, Bill. I don't pretend to be what I'm not either. I'm not as dumb as that. These people here know a chorus girl when they see one. And, incidentally, not a very good chorus girl at that. If I were better at my job, I probably wouldn't be weekending with you. No. I take that back. I probably would. You're nice enough. We get on, but--

Gladys throws her hand up in the air and turns to the fire. Suddenly, accompanied by a clap of THUNDER, the corridor door at the far side of the room opens and Rebecca enters.

REBECCA FEMM: Morgan's at the bottle again. I knew he'd begin tonight. Where did he get it from?

Horace quivers in fear.

HORACE FEMM: He didn't get it from me. Can't you stop him?

REBECCA FEMM: He's in the kitchen now, drunk. Quite drunk.

Rebecca turns and runs out the corridor door, shutting it behind her.

PORTERHOUSE : Who's Morgan? Is he the fellow who waited on us at table?

HORACE FEMM: Yes. Morgan is the... (a sickly grin) the butler.

PORTERHOUSE: Looks to me as if he could do with a shave. Ha ha!

Gladys joins Penderel several yards away from the others as he peers out the window at the ongoing storm.

PENDEREL: Oh, hello.

GLADYS: Hello.

PENDEREL: Well? Have you come over to help me gaze upon the wrath of God?

GLADYS: No. I came to say thank you for trying to take my part just now.

PENDEREL: Charmed, I'm sure, Miss DuCane.

GLADYS: Perkins to you.

PENDEREL: Thanks, Perkins.

GLADYS: I say, I'd mortgage the old homestead for a drink.

PENDEREL: Hmm... so would I. (snaps his fingers) And we'll have one! I've got some whiskey in the car. I'd forgotten all about it. You stay here and I'll go and get it.

GLADYS: No, I'll come with you.

Gladys and Penderel put on coats and hats and head out the front door.

CUT TO:

The FRONT STEPS and the still raging storm. Gladys and Penderel leave the front door wide open.

GLADYS: Wheeee!

PENDEREL: You'd better stay here under cover. The car's in the stables and you'll get soaked.

GLADYS: All right. But don't be long.

Penderel races down the steps and disappears. Vast amounts of water seem to be creeping up to the house. Gladys waits in the doorway watching the storm. After a moment, the front door SLAMS shut behind her -- was it the wind? Or did someone shut it on purpose? Gladys turns and POUNDS on the door but no one answers. The THUNDER is louder than ever and drowns out her KNOCKING. She decides to go after Penderel and struggles down the front steps and splashes along the wall of the house.

CUT TO:

Gladys, moments later, as she passes an uncurtained kitchen WINDOW with iron bars across it, she peers in. The drunken, hideous figure of Morgan rushes toward her. He SHATTERS the window pane with his fist and gurgles menacingly at her. Gladys SCREAMS and runs off as Morgan staggers back to a kitchen table, sits, and pours himself a drink from a bottle.

CUT TO:

A shaken Gladys as, moments later, she enters the shadowy STABLES where the car is parked and confronts Penderel who approaches her with a bottle in his hand and a dry towel in his coat pocket.

GLADYS: Mister Penderel?

PENDEREL: Hello. What are you doing here? I was just coming.

GLADYS: I thought I'd come and fetch you.

Gladys leans against Penderel for support.

PENDEREL: Hey, hey. What's the matter? What's happened?

Penderel leads her over to the car and sets her on the running board.

GLADYS: Nothing. Nothing, really. I'm a bit scared, that's all. Somebody slammed the door in my face.

PENDEREL: Probably the wind.

GLADYS: No, it wasn't. I know wind when I see it. It doesn't sound much, but, you know, it gave me a bit of a turn.

PENDEREL (sits beside her): Yes, I bet it did. Here, what you want is a drink of this.

GLADYS: Thanks.

Penderel uncaps the bottle and hands it Gladys. She drinks deeply. Somewhere in the stables, a cock CROWS.

GLADYS: I feel a bit more human now.

PENDEREL: This certainly is a benighted household.

GLADYS: You're right. It is.

PENDEREL (looking down): Look at those.

Gladys looks down to see Penderel's oversized shoes on her pigeon-toed feet -- soaked.

PENDEREL: Come on, take 'em off.

Water spills out of the shoes when Gladys props her legs up in Penderel's lap where he removes the shoes and wraps her feet in the dry towel. The cock continues to CROW wildly.

PENDEREL: I seem to've spent most of the evening changing your shoes.

GLADYS: You ought to be a nursery maid.

PENDEREL: Yes, except that the best nursery maids don't drink whiskey out of the bottle.

Gladys laughs as Penderel takes a quick drink. The cock CROWS again.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM of the old dark house, where a nervous Margaret stands. Horace, Philip and Porterhouse sit. The thunder ROARS above them.

MARGARET WAVERTON: The storm's just as bad as ever, isn't it?

HORACE FEMM: Worse.

The electric lights flicker and fade. Only the fire keeps the room from total darkness.

PORTERHOUSE: That's done it. The light's gone out.

HORACE FEMM (drink in hand): I suppose they'll stay out this time. Now, we shall be miserable all the evening.

Horace downs his drink.

MARGARET WAVERTON (hopeful): That's all right. Surely, there's some candles somewhere, aren't there?

Immediately, Rebecca enters through the corridor door with a candle.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Can I do anything about the lights, Miss Femm?

HORACE FEMM: No. Nobody understands our lights except Morgan. And, as an electrician, Morgan is temporarily [temporally?] disqualified.

PORTERHOUSE: You haven't got a lamp by any chance, have you?

Horace rises immediately in panic.

HORACE FEMM (a little too insistent): No. No. We haven't got a lamp.

Rebecca crosses to Horace, ominously.

REBECCA FEMM: What did they say?

HORACE FEMM: Nothing. Nothing important.

REBECCA FEMM: Oh? Not important? Ha! It happens I heard that time. They want a lamp. Give them the large one. There's oil in it. We used it the last time the lights went wrong. Go on, Horace. You know the one.

HORACE FEMM (lying through his teeth): I don't remember where it is. Suppose you get it, Rebecca?

REBECCA FEMM: It's too big for me. If you don't know where it is, I'll tell you. Now, you know as well as I do. It's on the top landing on the little table. You know where the top landing is, Horace? At least you might believe there is a top landing. Oh, but you do believe in so little. (points with a bony finger) It's up there, Horace. Up there. Next to the roof.

HORACE FEMM: Yes, of course. I remember. But I think it's a little too heavy for me. I don't think I could carry it down all those stairs.

REBECCA FEMM: Why don't you say what you mean, Horace? Ha! You mean that you're afraid to go up there alone. (to Philip) You go with him. (hands her candle to Horace) Here take this. I don't know why I bother myself. (to all) Do you all good to sit in the dark.

Rebecca exits out the corridor door as Philip and Horace cross to the stairs. Philip begins to climb, but a terrified Horace remains below. Philip turns to him.

PHILIP WAVERTON: We'd better go up, hadn't we?

HORACE FEMM: Yes. I suppose we had.

PHILIP WAVERTON (casual, to the others): We won't be long.

PORTERHOUSE: That's all right. Mrs. Waverton will see that I don't get nervy.

PHILIP WAVERTON (polite, to Horace): You'd better lead the way.

Horace reluctantly climbs the stairs, as if he were going to the gallows. Philip winks reassuringly at Margaret, who winks back. Philip follows Horace.

CUT TO:

Horace and Philip as they pause in the darkened SECOND-FLOOR LANDING, moments later, the fire in the main room visible below. Horace points to a door.

HORACE FEMM: This is my room.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Oh?

HORACE FEMM: There are one or two things that I should very much like for you to see.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I should like to very much. But you must show me some other time. We've got to get that lamp.

HORACE FEMM (disappointed): Yes.

Horace begins to climb the next flight but stops and draws back.

HORACE FEMM: Listen, why should we bother about the lamp? Let us wait here for a few minutes and then go back and say that we couldn't find it. Or that it's broken.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I can't see the point.

HORACE FEMM: Yes, but why should we trouble about the lamp if we don't want to?

PHILIP WAVERTON: But we said we'd get it, so why shouldn't we get it?

HORACE FEMM: Yes, but why should we if we don't want to? And I don't want to.

PHILIP WAVERTON: But this is absurd--

A high-pitched shriek of LAUGHTER from above them causes both men to peer upward into the darkness.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Did you hear that?

HORACE FEMM: I did hear something.

PHILIP WAVERTON: What was it?

HORACE FEMM (lying): It must have been Morgan. He's drunk, you know. He's probably making a disturbance downstairs in the kitchen.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I thought that noise came from upstairs. Anyway, what about this lamp?

HORACE FEMM: I wonder whether you would excuse me from coming with you? I'm not very strong. There are rather a lot of stairs. I really should have told you before but the, the vanity of age, you know... You'll find it on the little table at the end of the landing, two floors above.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I suppose it's not too heavy for me to carry.

HORACE FEMM: Oh, no, not at all. It's quite light really.

Horace immediately puts his hand to mouth, like a little boy caught in a lie.

PHILIP WAVERTON: I see.

HORACE FEMM: Thank you. Thank you, very much.

A puzzled Philip watches Horace peer down at the fire below, then turn and enter his room, shutting and locking the door behind him. Philip climbs to the upper floors which, even more so than the rest of the house, are melancholy and uncared for.

CUT TO:

Philip on the next FLOOR, moments later. He thinks he hears something coming from behind a closed door and is tempted to try the handle but thinks better of it. He moves forward until he comes to the next and last flight of stairs. After a pause, he climbs up into the darkness. Suddenly, the dark hallway above him flashes with a wickedly bright light as if Heaven itself is opening up before him. Philip pauses, startled. But it turns out to be merely the storm's lightning streaming in through an uncurtained window. He resumes his climb.

CUT TO:

Philip on the TOP LANDING, moments later. He crosses at once to the little table, next to a stout old door, on which rests the large, ornate lamp -- one of those old-fashioned double-branched affairs. Swiftly picking it up, Philip is on his way back to the stairs when he stops and looks more closely at the door. It's padlocked. And bolted. And a half-eaten plate of food and a glass of water are on the table. He stares at these things in uneasy surprise.

CUT TO:

Rebecca as she waddles through the corridor door into the MAIN ROOM and confronts Margaret and Porterhouse.

REBECCA FEMM: You opened it, didn't you? Well, now you can go and shut it. Go on, shut it. I can't.

PORTERHOUSE: Go and shut what?

REBECCA FEMM: The rain's pouring in. The flood's rising. We all'll be drenched if you don't come quickly.

MARGARET WAVERTON (to Porterhouse): She means the window in her room. I'm afraid I opened it.

REBECCA FEMM (to Margaret): Go on. You opened it. You can shut it.

PORTERHOUSE: That's all right, Miss Femm. I'll come and shut it.

Rebecca leads Porterhouse away and they exit into the corridor. Margaret is alone in the main room. As she walks past the dining table, the firelight casts her shadow, larger than life, on the wall. To keep down her nervousness, she starts playfully making silhouettes of birds and dogs with her hands. She's acting quite silly and knows it. On the wall, the shadow of Rebecca suddenly appears, as if it had emerged from from Margaret's own shadow, and points an accusing finger at her and lays her hand flatly on Margaret's chest -- but is Rebecca really in the room? Or is it merely Margaret's imagination running away with her again? Margaret panics and SCREAMS -- Rebecca herself is nowhere to be seen. Margaret runs to the stairs, starts to climb, to go after Philip, but thinks better of it. Then she contemplates heading down the dark main corridor to Porterhouse. Finally, she runs out the front door to look for Penderel.

CUT TO:

Margaret on the FRONT STEPS, seconds later. The storm RAGES on. No one in sight.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Mister Penderel! Miss DuCane!

But no one could possibly hear her over the NOISE of the storm. She retreats to the doorway.

CUT TO:

Margaret in the doorway that leads to the MAIN ROOM, seconds later. She stands with the door half-closed, calling out into the night.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Mister Penderel! Miss DuCane!

Still no answer. She's all alone. Or is she? As she clutches her chest in fear, Margaret senses another presence. Slowly, a huge hairy hand reaches out from above and behind her head and SLAMS the door shut. Margaret SCREAMS and turns to see the inebriated Morgan right beside her. She rushes away but he turns to confront her, his hideous face leering drunkenly at her. He staggers toward her as she backs away, carrying a small chair with her to keep between them. They pause. His face is intense. His ghoulish eyes stare at her. A slight grin forms under his beard. Margaret looks around, fearfully. Morgan makes a move and she hurries to one of the sturdier chairs. Morgan knocks the smaller chair away and staggers after her. She throws the sturdy chair down in his path but it does little to slow him. They begin to circle the huge dining room table. After a moment, Morgan -- strong as a gorilla -- simply upends the entire table, sending everything on it CRASHING to the floor. Margaret SHRIEKS. Morgan catches her by the arm but, after a brief struggle, she somehow breaks away and races up the stairs.

CUT TO:

The SECOND-FLOOR LANDING where Philip, having heard the screams, rushes down the stairs, carrying his candle and the unlit lamp in one hand. Margaret climbs the stairs and is relieved to see him, clutching him in fear.

MARGARET WAVERTON: It's Morgan. He's there at the bottom of the stairs.

Morgan unsteadily makes his way up toward them.

PHILIP WAVERTON (to Margaret): Take the candle. Get back there.

Margaret takes the candle and she and Philip cross to a little table in the rear of the landing. Philip sets the lamp on the table and turns to confront Morgan.

PHILIP WAVERTON (to Morgan): Get back! Go on, get back!

But Morgan keeps charging on. As Morgan reaches the landing, Philip punches him square in the face. A hellacious fight breaks out: Morgan crushes the much smaller Philip into a corner; Philip kicks and swings his way out; the two men fall to the floor, slugging away; both rise; Philip pounds Morgan several times in the gut to no effect before a bored Morgan hauls off and socks Philip hard enough in the stomach to knock him down -- but Morgan is too drunk to keep balanced and stumbles backward to lean against the wall; Margaret SCREAMS; Philip recovers, gets an idea, runs to the table and grabs the lamp; Morgan glares as Philip hurls the lamp at his head; the lamp SHATTERS and Morgan falls backward, CRASHING down the stairs, unconscious. Philip and Margaret rush down to look at him.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Is he dead?

PHILIP WAVERTON: No, you can see him breathing from here. (Philip checks more closely) He's only stunned. He'll be conscious in a minute but he'll probably fall asleep again. He's very drunk.

MARGARET WAVERTON (clutching his hand): Oh, Philip, this is an awful house.

PHILIP WAVERTON: It isn't very nice, is it? (glancing upstairs) Listen, Margaret, something happened upstairs just now.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, Philip. Not something else horrible.

PHILIP WAVERTON: No, this was nothing horrible. It was a voice calling from behind a door. A tiny voice, rather like a child's. I think I ought to go and see what it is. You'll have to come with me. I'm not going to leave you alone again. (off Morgan) He'll be all right. Take my hand, darling.

They start to climb the stairs but don't get very far. Margaret, overcome by the events of the evening, puts her hand to her brow.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, Philip.

PHILIP WAVERTON: What is it? Sit down here a minute, darling.

They sit on the stairs and Philip cradles Margaret in his arms.

CUT TO:

Penderel's shoes drying on the running board of the car parked in the STABLES. Gladys and Penderel, deep in conversation, sit in the back seat. Gladys hands Penderel a cigarette.

PENDEREL: Thanks.

GLADYS: Well, what happened then?

PENDEREL: Well, then the war ended.

GLADYS: What about the girl?

PENDEREL: Oh, the girl I left behind me?

GLADYS: The girl you were in love with.

PENDEREL: Why, she got married, Gladys.

GLADYS: What a beast.

PENDEREL: No, on the contrary, a lady of rather good judgment. Now, let's talk about you for a bit.

GLADYS: I know what you're going to say. You're going to ask me about Bill Porterhouse.

PENDEREL: Clever, Miss Perkins.

GLADYS: I don't mind telling you. I'd rather like to. Bill's all right, really. Of course, I don't love him. Of course, he gives me money. Oh, not very much. Just enough to keep me going. You probably won't believe me, but Bill doesn't-- he doesn't expect anything. Do you know what I mean by anything?

PENDEREL: Yes. I know what you mean by anything.

GLADYS: He likes people to think he's ever so gay. You see, for all his money, he's a bit lonely.

PENDEREL: Yes, I spotted that when he told us the story of the cotton dress. I think he's in love with that little dead wife still.

GLADYS: I'm sure he is. I suppose that's why he only wants me, well, for company. He likes to sit on my bed at night and boast to me about the things he's done during the day.

PENDEREL: Well, that's harmless enough.

GLADYS: Mind you, I'm not pretending to be any better than I am.

PENDEREL: You're a nice creature, aren't you?

GLADYS: I like you, awfully.

PENDEREL: And I you.

GLADYS: What are you thinking of?

PENDEREL: You may not be very pleased.

GLADYS: Risk it.

PENDEREL: I was thinking that I would like to pretend that I was your lover and that you were mine, Gladys, body and soul. I'd like to take you in my arms and hold you and press you to me very gently, very tight.

GLADYS: I'd like it, too.

PENDEREL: Would you, Gladys Perkins? Why, then, let's pretend.

Gladys lets Penderel put his arm around her and press his face to hers. She clearly likes it but after a moment, pushes him away.

GLADYS: Listen. Gladys Perkins has an idea. I think she must have gone mad. She... she... she wants to live with you. Oh, I'm just flinging myself at your head. I've got a crazy idea that I might help you to be a useful person.

PENDEREL: Darling, Perkins...

GLADYS: Do you think I'm mad?

PENDEREL: Quite mad, my darling. And thank God for it.

GLADYS: Well, what do you say?

Penderel takes Gladys in his arms and gives her a long, deep kiss.

PENDEREL: That's what I say, Perkins darling. But I've got a better idea than yours. An improvement on it.

GLADYS: What is it?

PENDEREL: Why, it's just this... No, I won't tell you here. There's magic here. I'll tell you later on in the house, perhaps even in the cold light of morning.

GLADYS: Tell me now.

PENDEREL (starts to go): Come on, let's go back to the house.

GLADYS: No! No, let's stay here.

Gladys shivers and clutches her collar. Penderel looks at her with concern.

PENDEREL: You're cold.

GLADYS: No. It's just the idea of going back to that house that made me shiver. I've got a funny feeling something dreadful might happen to us if we go back to that house.

PENDEREL: Perkins, Perkins. You've my strong right arm, haven't you?

GLADYS (smiles): All right. Come on.

They get out of the car. Gladys starts to pick up Penderel's shoes.

PENDEREL: No, you can't put on those wet shoes. I'm going to try to carry you.

Penderel picks her up.

GLADYS: I'm a devil of a weight.

PENDEREL: Well, if you're too heavy for me, I shall drop you in the mud and go on alone.

The cock CROWS as Penderel exits the stables carrying Gladys in his arms.

DISSOLVE TO:

The FRONT STEPS, moments later. The rains have temporarily stopped but the waters have risen and Penderel must stay close to the house to keep from falling in. The rain starts up again just as Penderel reaches the bottom of the steps. He nearly drops Gladys as he struggles up to the front door.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM of the house, moments later. Porterhouse dozes on an uncomfortable looking bench, SNORING loudly. A POUNDING from the front door wakens him. He checks his pocket watch before shuffling to the door to let in Penderel and Gladys.

PORTERHOUSE: Hello. Where have you been?

PENDEREL: I went out to the car to get a drink.

GLADYS: And I went with him.

Penderel helps Gladys as she hops on one foot over to the bench. Porterhouse watches as Penderel removes her stockings. Porterhouse gives Penderel a look.

PENDEREL: She got her feet wet.

PORTERHOUSE: Oh, she got her feet wet?

PENDEREL: Yes, she got her feet wet.

As they remove their wet clothes, Penderel notices the upturned table.

PENDEREL: Well, what the devil's been happening here?

PORTERHOUSE: I don't know what the devil's been happening here or anywhere else. I don't know what's been happening anywhere. I went into the old girl's room to close a window and came back and found this.

PENDEREL: Where are all the others?

PORTERHOUSE: I don't know any more than you. Mister Waverton went upstairs with [?] to fetch a lamp. I suppose his wife joined him. I've been asleep. (annoyed, to Gladys) So, you got your feet wet?

GLADYS: Yes, Bill. And that wasn't all, either.

PORTERHOUSE: Yes, I didn't suppose it was.

GLADYS: I don't quite know how you'll take this but-- well, I've got to get it off my chest.

PORTERHOUSE: Come on, let's have it.

GLADYS: I've fallen in love, Bill.

PORTERHOUSE: Oh, you have, have you? (off Penderel) With him?

GLADYS: Yes, with him.

PORTERHOUSE: Darned fool.

GLADYS: Probably. But we don't choose these things.

PORTERHOUSE: Has he got any money?

PENDEREL: Not a penny.

PORTERHOUSE (to Gladys): But you're going out with him?

GLADYS: Yes, Bill. Are you angry?

PORTERHOUSE: I think you're a lunatic. But I'm not angry.

PENDEREL: He took it pretty well, didn't he, Perkins?

GLADYS: I told you. Bill's all right.

PENDEREL: He is indeed.

GLADYS: Wonder where the others can be? Gladys wanders off to search. Penderel approaches Porterhouse.

PENDEREL: Listen, Bill. She hasn't told you everything.

PORTERHOUSE: Hasn't she? Why not?

PENDEREL: Because she doesn't know everything herself. We're going to be married.

PORTERHOUSE: Oh, are you?

PENDEREL: At least, if she'll have me. I'm going to ask her tomorrow. In the cold light of morning. Will you come to the wedding?

PORTERHOUSE: I think you're off your head.

PENDEREL: Do you?

PORTERHOUSE: No. I don't. I think it's probably the best day's work you've ever done in your life.

PENDEREL (puts an arm around Porterhouse): Ah, Bill, Bill...

PORTERHOUSE: Who told you that you could call me Bill?

PENDEREL: Ha, ha. Well, you try and stop me.

PORTERHOUSE: Now, look here, come and make yourself useful and put this table on its feet.

They rise and cross to the dining room table and the mess beside it just as Gladys returns.

PORTERHOUSE (off the mess): Huh! That's no way to treat roast beef.

PENDEREL: Miss Perkins, tin the roast beef.

GLADYS: Tin it yourself.

But she picks up a candle from the mess while the men set the table right. Gladys puts the candle on the table.

CUT TO:

The SECOND FLOOR LANDING, some time earlier, where Philip and Margaret still sit on the stairs. Margaret seems to have recovered from her anxiety attack.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Sure you feel better?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Yes, I'm all right.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Well, let's go on.

They rise and climb the stairs.

CUT TO:

The next FLOOR, seconds later, where Philip leads Margaret to the door -- not the padlocked and bolted one on the top floor -- but the one on the floor below that he had contemplated opening earlier.

PHILIP WAVERTON: This is the door.

Margaret holds the candle while Philip KNOCKS. No answer. They glance at one another and then boldly open the door and push into the room. It's gigantic. Luxurious. Ornate. A huge roaring fireplace. Large windows with a view of the ongoing bad weather. Heavy old furniture. And in the center of it all, a king-sized bed -- a great canopied four poster -- in which lies a figure. Philip and Margaret cautiously approach, exchanging baffled glances with one another. A clock CHIMES several times as they near the bed and stare at Sir Roderick Femm, propped up on pillows -- a bearded, hundred and two year old invalid with long, gray, shoulder-length, uncombed hair. It's like visiting God in Heaven. His eyes are shut. At first, he seems to be asleep. But then, without warning, he speaks, in a firm but high-pitched voice.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Who are you?

MARGARET WAVERTON: I'm Mrs. Waverton. This is my husband. Are you Sir Roderick Femm?

Sir Roderick nods. His lips move but no sound emerges.

MARGARET WAVERTON: We came in because we thought we heard you calling. Can we get you anything?

With an unsteady hand, Sir Roderick points to a pitcher of water on a table beside him. Margaret pours a glass.

MARGARET WAVERTON (gently): Can you take it yourself or shall I give it to you?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: I can take it myself, thank you.

Sir Roderick takes the glass, sips the water, and hands the glass back to Margaret.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Now, what was that noise? Was it... Morgan?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Yes.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Morgan is a savage. I, er, I must apologize. But we have to keep him here. You shouldn't have come here.

MARGARET WAVERTON: I'm very sorry but, really, we couldn't help it.

SIR RODERICK FEMM (pleasantly): Oh, I -- I don't mean that. I was never inhospitable. Never. This house was always filled with guests, once upon a time. (suddenly serious) When you came, what did they tell you?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Why, they told us you were an invalid.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Was that all?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Yes.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: You've seen my son, Horace? And his sister, Rebecca?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Yes.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: And Morgan. I would like to tell you all about it but- but there may not be time. You see, when you're as old as I am, at any minute, you may just die. (cackles softly)

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, please don't talk if it tires you.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: This is an unlucky house. Two of my children died when they were twenty. And then... other things happened. Madness came. We are all touched with it a little, you see. Except me. At least, I-I don't think I am.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Would you like to go to sleep now?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: No. Not just yet. You see, it may be...

PHILIP WAVERTON: It may be what?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Dangerous.

PHILIP WAVERTON: You mean Morgan?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: No. Not Morgan. I mean from my eldest son. (points to the ceiling) Saul.

PHILIP & MARGARET WAVERTON: Saul?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: They didn't tell you about Saul?

PHILIP WAVERTON: No, they didn't.

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Saul is the worst, you know. We have to watch him. Because you see, he wants... he just wants... to destroy, to kill. Poor Saul.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Where is he?

PHILIP WAVERTON: I know where he is. He's upstairs behind that bolted door, isn't he?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Yes. Locked in. Saul is why we have to keep Morgan.

MARGARET WAVERTON: But if he did get out?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Saul quite certainly would set fire to the house. He tried to once before. He wanted, he said, to make this house a burnt offering.

MARGARET WAVERTON: But isn't he safely locked in?

SIR RODERICK FEMM: Yes. But you see, if Morgan is bad, I, er, I think he might, er, open the door.

Sir Roderick cackles. Tired from talking, he closes his eyes. Margaret, thinking of Morgan, turns to Philip.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Philip. What if he's come to?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Wait here. I'll go down and look at him.

Philip races out of the room and shuts the door behind him. He heads down the stairs, stopping every few feet to peer into the darkness.

CUT TO:

The SECOND-FLOOR LANDING, moments later. Philip sees the tell-tale signs of broken lamp glass on the floor. But Morgan is gone. A nearby door opens. Horace, his face white with fear, emerges from his room to confront Philip.

HORACE FEMM (grim): He's gone upstairs. I heard him. He's gone to let Saul out. Wait for him downstairs and kill him.

Horace instantly withdraws into his room, SLAMS the door shut, and locks it. Stunned, Philip pauses a moment to think before climbing back up the stairs.

CUT TO:

Sir Roderick's room on the next FLOOR, moments later, where Philip rejoins Margaret.

MARGARET WAVERTON: What are we to do? Can't we stay in here?

PHILIP WAVERTON: No, supposing he set fire to the place? Come on.

MARGARET WAVERTON: But what about Sir Roderick?

PHILIP WAVERTON: We must lock the door.

They rush into the hallway. Philip prepares to lock the door. He calls to Sir Roderick on the far side of the room.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Sir Roderick, I'm going to lock you in.

But Sir Roderick doesn't answer.

MARGARET WAVERTON: He's asleep.

Philip shuts and locks the door. He and Margaret race down the stairs.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM, moments later, as Philip and Margaret reach the bottom of the stairs to join Penderel, Porterhouse and Gladys. From somewhere upstairs, the chilling sound of maniacal LAUGHTER echoes through the house.

PENDEREL: What is it?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Listen, there's a madman upstairs. Morgan's let him out and he's dangerous. We've got to do something.

PORTERHOUSE: Good gosh. Where are they?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Upstairs. But they may come down any minute.

Gladys grips Penderel's arm in fear.

PENDEREL (to Gladys): That's all right, my dear.

GLADYS: I knew I felt something dreadful was going to happen.

PORTERHOUSE: Hadn't we better get out of the way?

PHILIP WAVERTON: No, we can't do that. He might set fire to the place. He's tried it once before.

GLADYS: Well, let him. Let the rotten old place burn. I wish it would.

PENDEREL: That's all right but what about the Femms?

Rebecca enters from the corridor and joins the others at the bottom of the stairs.

REBECCA FEMM: What is it?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Your brother's out of his room.

REBECCA FEMM: What? Saul?

Gladys SCREAMS.

GLADYS: Look.

All heads turn to the top of the stairs. As the group below watches, a small pale dirty hand inches along the staircase bannister and stops -- the hand of Saul Femm. THUNDER rolls as Morgan staggers into view beside it, clumps down the stairs and leans on the bannister beside the hand. Philip pulls Gladys and Margaret away.

PHILIP WAVERTON (to the women): Here. Get back.

Rebecca presses forward, fear in her eyes.

REBECCA FEMM: Take him back, Morgan! You hear me? Take him back!

But Morgan does not seem to hear. Slowly, he lurches down the stairs. As he comes closer, the group below steps backward, uncertain as to what might happen next. Morgan pauses when he reaches the bottom of the stairs, staring at the crowd with hate in his eyes. Margaret swallows hard. Suddenly, Morgan lunges out at Margaret. Philip puts himself between them and a fight begins. Penderel, Philip and Porterhouse tackle Morgan but he is far too strong and shrugs them off -- nearly knocking over a nearby grandfather clock in the process -- and goes after Margaret. The three men jump back on him.

REBECCA FEMM: Take him in the kitchen! Take him inside!

The men desperately struggle to force Morgan into the main corridor toward the kitchen. Porterhouse is painfully crushed against the doorjamb.

CUT TO:

The struggle as it continues through the MAIN CORRIDOR, a moment later. The men inch Morgan slowly past the half-opened windows with their ominously billowing curtains. The men push Morgan's head into one of the window panes, SHATTERING the glass. Morgan, his head pressed to the windowsill, gurgles in pain. Margaret and Gladys watch all this from the corridor door. Rebecca follows the men into the corridor.

REBECCA FEMM: Lock him in the kitchen!

Morgan, with one man on his back and the others on either side, thrashes wildly, occasionally knocking one or the other away. As all four collapse to the floor, the sound of the madman's LAUGHTER rings out from the main room. One of the women SCREAMS. Penderel, realizing the women are alone with a homicidal maniac, jumps up and runs down the length of the corridor, leaving Porterhouse and Philip to deal with Morgan.

CUT TO:

Penderel entering the MAIN ROOM, seconds later, joining Gladys and Margaret. All three watch the top of the stairs and wait for the madman's next move. The pale hand has withdrawn from view and is no longer on the bannister.

CUT TO:

Porterhouse and Philip somehow managing to wrestle Morgan down into the KITCHEN.

CUT TO:

A terrified Rebecca cowering in the CORRIDOR, just outside the kitchen, chanting a prayer.

REBECCA FEMM: The sins of the fathers. The sins of the fathers.

Rebecca turns to see Margaret and Gladys at the end of the corridor, standing in the open doorway of the main room and scurries toward them, shouting.

REBECCA FEMM: Come on, you! Come into my room!

Gladys and Margaret jump back into the main room.

GLADYS: No! I'm going to stay here.

REBECCA FEMM: Then, stay here!

Rebecca SLAMS the door on them and locks it. She rushes back down the corridor with the huge doorkey in her hand and pauses for a moment to peer nervously in the direction of the kitchen before locking herself into her room.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM. Penderel, Gladys and Margaret wait for the madman. The distant SOUNDS of the fight in the kitchen drift into the room.

PENDEREL: There's going to be trouble.

Penderel races the length of the room to a wooden door in the far corner. The women eye the stairs nervously.

GLADYS: Oh! Penderel!

Penderel opens the door -- it leads to an oversized cupboard, big enough to hide the two women.

PENDEREL: Come on. Come in here.

GLADYS: No! I don't want to be shut up. I'd rather stay.

PENDEREL: Gladys, for heaven's sake, come in here. Margaret.

Penderel grabs them and pushes them over to the cupboard. Margaret gets in willingly. But Gladys doesn't want to leave Penderel. He takes her by the shoulders and backs her toward the door.

GLADYS: No. (gives in) Oh, all right.

Gladys reluctantly enters the cupboard.

PENDEREL: Wait a minute.

Penderel quickly grabs a candle and matches off the table and hands it to the women.

PENDEREL: Here, light this.

Penderel shuts and secures the cupboard door. He lights another candle and places it on the table. With the madman's hand no longer visible on the bannister, Penderel climbs part way up the stairs. But at the sound of high-pitched LAUGHTER, Penderel descends and waits for Saul Femm to come to him.

CUT TO:

The candle burns inside the CUPBOARD where Margaret and Gladys sit tensely together.

GLADYS (quietly, to herself): Oh, I love him so. I just love him.

Margaret looks at Gladys in surprise.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM. Penderel mops the sweat off his face with a handkerchief. The pale hand appears again on the bannister. A bearded man becomes slowly visible, emerging from the darkness. It's SAUL FEMM -- a timid, quivering, kindly-faced little man. He delicately makes his way down the stairs, looking around nervously. As Penderel approaches, the little man backs away from him in fear.

SAUL FEMM: Please. Please don't touch me.

Penderel can't believe this scared little rabbit is a madman.

PENDEREL: Well! (genuine concern) What is it?

SAUL FEMM (pleading): Listen, don't put me back. Don't let them put me back. I'm not mad. I swear before Heaven I'm not mad. It's just that they've locked me up here. They're all wicked.

PENDEREL: Why should they lock you up?

SAUL FEMM: They're frightened of me. I know something about them. Years ago, they killed their sister Rachel. But I wouldn't tell! I promised I'd never tell.

Saul sinks to his knees. Penderel is completely floored.

PENDEREL: And they've kept you here all that time for that?

SAUL FEMM: And Morgan -- I tell you, he's the devil -- Morgan beats me.

Penderel -- his face a mixture of pity and relief -- heads for the main corridor to rejoin the others in subduing Morgan. Saul panics.

SAUL FEMM: Don't leave me! Stay with me!

Penderel returns to Saul and gives him a reassuring pat on the arm.

PENDEREL (gently): That's all right. You sit here and wait. I'll be back.

As Saul cowers on the stairs, Penderel crosses to the door and tries the knob but it won't budge. Saul sees this and an odd look crosses his face.

PENDEREL: The door's locked! Miss Femm must have locked it.

SAUL FEMM: It's locked, is it?

PENDEREL: Yes, it is.

SAUL FEMM: I'm glad. Then, you can't leave me.

PENDEREL: Listen, we've got to help the others with Morgan. Isn't there some way of getting through?

SAUL FEMM: No. No way...

PENDEREL: But there must be a back entrance into the house.

Penderel heads for the front door. Suddenly, Saul's entire demeanor changes.

SAUL FEMM (with great authority): Stop!

Surprised, Penderel stops, turns and looks at Saul who scowls at him grimly.

SAUL FEMM: I want to tell you a story.

Penderel returns to Saul who backs away from him but shows no fear. Saul laughs his maniacal laugh.

SAUL FEMM: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Saul stops by the table, standing in the middle of the mess of food and plates and utensils on the floor beside it. Saul hears a NOISE from the cupboard and points to it.

SAUL FEMM: Who's in there?

PENDEREL: Nobody.

SAUL FEMM: Friends of yours?

PENDEREL: I tell you, nobody.

SAUL FEMM: Shall we invite them out?

PENDEREL: You -- you were going to tell me something.

SAUL FEMM: Yes. So I was.

Saul looks down at the floor. The large knife, used earlier to cut the roast beef, lies at his feet. Before Penderel can make a move, Saul grabs the knife.

SAUL FEMM: Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Penderel maneuvers himself between Saul and the cupboard.

PENDEREL: Won't you -- won't you tell me that story?

SAUL FEMM: Yes. Shall we sit down?

PENDEREL: Yes. Let's.

The two men watch each other carefully as they slowly take seats at opposite ends of the table.

SAUL FEMM: Who is in that cupboard?

PENDEREL: Nobody. Tell me what you were going to say to me.

Saul rises, knife in hand, and quickly comes around the table to sit beside Penderel, pushing the lit candle along with him.

SAUL FEMM: Are you interested in flame?

PENDEREL: Why -- why, yes. Yes, I am, rather.

SAUL FEMM: I've made a study of flame.

PENDEREL: Have you? That happens to be very interesting.

SAUL FEMM: I know things about flames that nobody else in the world knows.

PENDEREL: Won't you tell me? I'd like very much to know.

SAUL FEMM: Why should I tell you? You wouldn't tell me who is in that cupboard.

PENDEREL: Well, I did tell you. Besides, you know, it isn't fair to make me curious and then just not say anything.

SAUL FEMM: You'd like me to tell you all about fire, would you?

PENDEREL: Yes, I wish you would.

SAUL FEMM: Well, first of all, I learned that flames are really knives. They're cold, my friend. Sharp and cold as snow. They burn like ice.

Penderel glances around and spots the poker by the fireplace, a few feet away.

PENDEREL: Oh. That certainly is very -- very interesting. So, they're really like knives, are they? Well, do go on. Tell me what else you found out.

Penderel rises and slowly inches toward the poker.

SAUL FEMM: Oh, a lot of things. My friend, sit down.

Penderel returns to his seat.

SAUL FEMM: So, you thought you could cheat me, did you? You thought you could leave me sitting here and I wouldn't notice. But, you see, I am a clever man also. That is why we understand one another. That is why you understood so quickly that I wanted to kill you. Ha ha ha. Ha ha. We understand each other so well, don't we, my friend?

PENDEREL: Yes. Yes, indeed we do. From the start, somehow I-I liked you and I-I thought you liked me.

SAUL FEMM: Like you? My friend, I love you. Did you know my name is Saul? Saul, my friend. And Saul loved David.

PENDEREL: Yes, indeed he did.

SAUL FEMM: But Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him and was departed from Saul. And it came to pass on the morrow that the evil spirit came upon Saul and he prophesied in the midst of the house. And David played upon the harp with his hand. And there was a javelin in Saul's hand. (Saul brandishes the knife) And Saul cast the javelin.

Saul plunges the knife in and out of the wooden table, startling Penderel. Saul laughs his wicked laugh.

SAUL FEMM: And he said, I will smite David even to the [wall?] with it.

Again, Saul stabs the table.

SAUL FEMM: And David [appointed?] out of his presence twice. Twice, my friend. And the third time -- the third time -- you must be careful.

PENDEREL: Listen. I'm your friend. I'm on your side. It's silly to lose me. If you lose me -- (points to the door, shouting) Look! There's Morgan! He's come for you! Morgan!

Saul turns to look. Penderel leaps up and grabs for the poker. Saul turns back to Penderel.

SAUL FEMM: Stop! Don't move!

Saul hurls the knife at Penderel who falls backward into a chair to avoid it. The knife sticks in the back of the chair just inches from Penderel's shocked face. Penderel yanks the knife out of the chair but before he can do anything, Saul, laughing like the Devil, rushes at Penderel. Penderel tries to rise but loses his footing and falls to the floor. Saul quickly picks up a chair and viciously SMASHES Penderel with it, knocking him unconscious. A triumphant, cackling Saul grabs a burning log from the fire and races up the stairs with it. On the gallery wall, above the room, hangs a large black curtain. Saul begins to set it afire.

Below, Penderel regains consciousness and sees Saul trying to set fire to the curtain. Penderel staggers to his feet, clutching his left shoulder in pain, and desperately tries to climb the stairs. The curtain has caught fire and burns brightly. As Penderel reaches the gallery, Saul attacks him with the flaming log. With his good right arm, Penderel pins Saul's arm and kicks the log from his hand. The two fight it out. The little man makes up in ferocity what he lacks in size and throws the entire weight of his small body into Penderel's again and again. The curtain burns and Penderel makes a futile effort to beat out the flame but Saul knocks him away from it. Saul crushes Penderel against the gallery railing and bites him on the neck. Penderel pushes Saul's head away from his.

CUT TO:

The KITCHEN. Philip and Porterhouse are trapped inside and Morgan is nowhere to be seen. They POUND on the locked kitchen door, trying to break it down.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM where the flames grow higher and Saul is beating Penderel senseless.

CUT TO:

Inside the CUPBOARD where a distraught Gladys and Margaret sit with their arms around each other.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM where Penderel and Saul struggle on the gallery. The railing cracks ominously behind them. Penderel and Saul, still fighting, move away from the railing as it gives way. But their conflict takes them over the edge. Saul and Penderel fall from the gallery and CRASH sickeningly to the floor below.

CUT TO:

Inside the CUPBOARD. Gladys and Margaret, hearing the crash, try to get out.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM. The locked corridor door suddenly splinters apart. Morgan SMASHES it open with his bare hands and enters, breathing hard, slightly disheveled from the fight. He looks around. The blazing gallery curtain has apparently burned itself out. Morgan fails to see Saul's body -- it's hidden from view, partially by a chair and partially by Penderel who lies atop it. Morgan hears a BANGING noise coming from the cupboard.

CUT TO:

Inside the CUPBOARD. Gladys and Margaret, POUND on the cupboard door.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Philip! Philip!

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM. Morgan crosses to the cupboard and opens the door. Gladys' cry of relief turns into a SCREAM when she sees that it's Morgan. His eyes light up at the sight of Margaret. The two women scramble out of the cupboard and circle Morgan warily. Gladys sees Penderel and tries to rush to him but Margaret, in fear of Morgan, grabs her by the arm and pulls her back.

GLADYS: Oh, let go! Can't you see? There's Penderel!

Margaret releases Gladys' hand. Gladys tries to cross to Penderel but is intercepted by Morgan who keeps her in front of him. Gladys beats on Morgan's chest.

GLADYS: Let me go to him. Go on, let me go by. Go on, let me pass.

Morgan pays little attention and merely stares longingly at a terrified Margaret. Finally, he brutally twists Gladys' arm.

GLADYS: Ooh, you swine. But I'm not afraid of you. I'm going to him. Do you hear?

Morgan throws Gladys to the floor, knocking her unconscious.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Oh, how could you?

Then Morgan closes in on Margaret.

CUT TO:

Philip and Porterhouse, still trapped in the KITCHEN, using a table as a battering ram on the locked kitchen door.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM where Morgan and Margaret face off. She finally finds the courage to stand up to him.

MARGARET WAVERTON: Listen, you've got to let me alone, do you hear? I've got to go to Penderel. He's hurt. Oh, how can I make you understand? He's hurt. I've got to look after him and the other man, too, Saul. They're both hurt.

At the mention of Saul, Morgan is stunned. He stares hard at Margaret and clutches her shoulders, trying to understand. Margaret points at the two still bodies lying across the room. Morgan rushes to them, pushes Penderel's limp body off of Saul's and cradles the little man in his arms. But it's too late. Saul is dead. A long moment of silence. Morgan weeps, slowly lifting the lifeless body into his arms. As he does, the distant sound of the kitchen door being SMASHED open drifts into the main room. Porterhouse and Philip burst in through the broken corridor door -- just in time to see Morgan, the giant, carry the tiny Saul to the stairs. Philip watches incredulously as Morgan walks right past him as if he weren't there. A distraught Morgan carries Saul up the stairs, as if taking him to Heaven. Philip and Porterhouse watch him go and then cross to the women.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Are you all right, Margaret?

MARGARET WAVERTON: Yes, I'm all right, darling.

They embrace. Porterhouse cradles Gladys' head in his arms.

PORTERHOUSE: Gladys.

Gladys regains consciousness.

PORTERHOUSE: It's all right. Come on now. You feeling better?

GLADYS: Yes, I'm not so bad.

PORTERHOUSE: What happened to you?

MARGARET WAVERTON: That was Morgan. He hit her.

Philip examines Penderel's still form. He looks up from the body, a dark expression on his face: Penderel is dead. Porterhouse helps Gladys to her feet.

PORTERHOUSE: Come on.

GLADYS: I'm all right now. (suddenly remembers) Where's Penderel? I've got to look after him.

Frantic, Gladys tries to cross to Penderel's body. Philip catches her.

PHILIP WAVERTON: You'd better not go over there. Come with me.

Philip tries to lead Gladys away but she breaks free and rushes to Penderel's body. She cradles his head in arms and begins to whimper. The Wavertons embrace one another. Porterhouse winces and covers his face with his hand. With Penderel's head in her lap, Gladys rocks back and forth hysterically, her hands pressed to his face and neck. Suddenly, she stops. A weird expression crosses her face.

GLADYS: He's alive!

PHILIP WAVERTON: What?

GLADYS: He's alive, I tell you! He's alive!

The others kneel around Penderel and Gladys as she weeps for joy. The Wavertons rub Penderel's hands. Gladys is so overcome with happiness, she hugs Porterhouse. FADE OUT on the little group of travelers clustered around one another on the floor in the center of the great big room.

FADE IN on the MAIN ROOM, early the next morning. Sun shines in through the windows. A cock CROWS. Songbirds CHIRP and WHISTLE innocuously throughout these last scenes. Gladys still sits on the floor with Penderel's now-bandaged head in her lap. Porterhouse, in a heavy coat, dozes in a nearby chair. Gladys looks up to see Horace -- all sweetness and light now that the danger has passed -- glide down the stairs as if nothing has happened.

HORACE FEMM (sweetly, to Porterhouse): Good morning.

PORTERHOUSE (surprised to see him): Good morning.

HORACE FEMM: Good morning, Mister Waverton.

The exhausted Wavertons, dressed as they were when they first arrived, are on a bench. Margaret leaning against Philip, eyes closed with fatigue. Philip tips his hat ironically to Horace.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Good morning.

Horace peers out the window.

HORACE FEMM: The floods have subsided considerably.

PORTERHOUSE (yawning): Thank Heaven for that.

HORACE FEMM: I think it will be possible for you to send for an ambulance now.

The Wavertons have risen, eager to leave.

MARGARET WAVERTON: You mean we can go?

PHILIP WAVERTON: Yes, I'm sure we can go now. Come along, darling.

Philip grabs their bags.

PHILIP WAVERTON (to Porterhouse): You're going to stay here with Gladys, aren't you?

PORTERHOUSE: I am. Don't be long.

PHILIP WAVERTON: We won't. We'll be as quick as we can.

Horace leads the Wavertons to the front door, pausing only to raise an eyebrow at what's left of the corridor door that Morgan smashed up earlier.

HORACE FEMM (to the Wavertons, off the door): Heh!

Horace opens the front door and, with an overly polite gesture, lets the Wavertons out.

CUT TO:

The FRONT STEPS, in dazzling sunlight, as the Wavertons exit the house and make their way gingerly down the steps. A little rainwater trickles off the roof. Horace stands at the top of the steps and grins.

HORACE FEMM: Goodbye.

PHILIP WAVERTON: Goodbye.

HORACE FEMM: Goodbye. So happy to have met you.

Still grinning, Horace animatedly gestures his good-byes to the couple, as if to say "Bon voyage". Horace glances up to see Rebecca at an open window as she scowls, grunts, and waves dismissively, as if to say "Good riddance". She SLAMS the window shut and disappears. Unperturbed, Horace re-enters the house.

CUT TO:

The MAIN ROOM, not long after, where Penderel awakens to find Gladys' face smiling down at him.

PENDEREL: So, I'm really dead and gone to Heaven?

GLADYS: No, it's morning and we've only just left Hell behind.

PENDEREL: Morning?

GLADYS: Yes. Cold light of day. Wasn't there something you were going to tell me in the cold light of day?

PENDEREL: Come to think of it, there was. Perkins. Will you marry me?

Gladys smiles and kisses Penderel as a sleeping Porterhouse SNORES.

FADE OUT

______________________________________________

Last revision: 10 July 1999





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