At Midnight on the 31st of March

(MUSIC ... THEME ... IN AND OUT)

ANNOUNCER: Author's Playhouse! 

(MUSIC ... THEME ... IN AND UNDER)

ANNOUNCER: Presenting Josephine Young Case's story of loneliness, struggle and 
hope -- "At Midnight on the 31st of March." 

(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION)

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS ... WIND HOWLS ... FEET STAMP INTO HOUSE)

GUS WARDER: Good to get out of that cold wind.

MA WARDER: Even though it is the last day of March, winter's still with us.

SOUND: (DOOR SHUTS ... WIND OUT ... FOOTSTEPS INTO HOUSE)

MAY: Whew! What a wind! What are you doing up, mom?

MA WARDER: Well, I knew your pa'd like a cup of coffee when he was finished 
down at the barn. What's happened?

MAY: Some friend volunteer maid is now the proud mama of a bull calf.

GUS WARDER: Fine little bull.

MA WARDER: Good! Well, here's your coffee.

SOUND: (COFFEE CUPS RATTLE)

MAY: Thank you.

GUS WARDER: Thanks, ma. Ma, put on that midnight news broadcast. It'll be on 
in a few minutes.

MA WARDER: (CHUCKLES) Not often we have a baby bull to keep us up such hours.

SOUND: (RADIO SWITCHED ON ... STATIC ... THEN MUSIC)

MA WARDER: Glad it didn't take all night to arrive. Oh, you must be tired, 
May.

MAY: Yes, I think I-- Am I imagining things or are these lights getting dim?

MA WARDER: Mm. They DO look a bit dim.

SOUND: (RADIO MUSIC FADES OUT ... ONLY STATIC REMAINS ... DIAL TUNED)

GUS WARDER: That's funny. 

MA WARDER: Set broken?

GUS WARDER: Couldn't be. Can hear static. But none of the stations are on now. 
Just that little music ... then nothin'.

MAY: Need any new tubes or anything?

GUS WARDER: No. Just had 'em tested.

MA WARDER: What's wrong with the lights? They're almost out.

GUS WARDER: There they go. Power plant failed ... I guess. (UNEASY) That's 
queer.

MAY: (TRIES TO BE UPBEAT) Well, here's a candle. Looks like it's time we were 
all in bed.

(MUSIC ... TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG)

NARRATOR: At midnight on the 31st of March, no light shines out upon the 
village street. And every head in all of Saugersville is laid upon its pillow, 
sleep or wake. Only the slippery road, the roaring creek, two dozen houses in 
the valley cleft, a mill, a store, two steeples pointing up, a school, garage, 
the hotel, and the grange - are Saugersville, for anyone to see, given light 
to see by, or an eye to see.

(MUSIC ... AN OMINOUS TRANSITION ... THEN BRIGHTER, IN BG)

NARRATOR: April the first is gray, a smoky dawn that lifts sullenly behind the 
hill. The air smells strange.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

JOHN: You know, Earl, a funny thing happened last night.

EARL: Oh?

JOHN: Yes, I - I couldn't sleep so I lit the light, decided to read a bit. 
But, after a while, it just faded out. Tried other lights in the house but the 
power seemed to be off.

EARL: Hm.

SOUND: (FRONT DOOR WITH A BELL OPENS ... FOOTSTEPS IN ... WE'RE IN THE TOWN'S 
GENERAL STORE)

ED: Hey! Hey, what's goin' on? Can't get electric power in my barn.

EARL: Well, John was just tellin' me that his lights weren't workin' either.

ED: Oh? Thought maybe it was just the lines to my house. Hey, maybe we ought 
to call the company and find out what's happened. How 'bout it, Bert? You - 
you wanna call it or should I?

BERT: I'll call the company. (WALKS OFF TO PHONE) Power's still off and my 
refrigerator isn't workin'. Can't allow all my meat to spoil.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS TO PHONE ... CRANKS OLD-FASHIONED WALL PHONE)

ED: Mm, be a fine thing if that stupid power company's ruined all the meat and 
stuff in Saugerville's one and only store.

JOHN: When does your wholesale butcher get here, Bert?

BERT: (ABSENTLY) Eh? Uh - uh - tomorrow.

ED: You know, it's funny the power shoulda stayed off so long. 

JOHN: There hasn't been any storms.

EARL: What's the matter, Bert? Havin' trouble?

BERT: Don't get no answer, Earl. Line seems dead. Must be somethin' wrong.

SOUND: (TRUCK ENGINE ... IN BG)

JOHN: Isn't that George's truck?

ED: Hm? (CHUCKLES) Yeah. There's no mistakin' THAT fiery red truck. (CHUCKLES) 
It's George's all right.

BERT: Yes, but he should be out on his milk route. It's an hour before his 
time.

SOUND: (TRUCK ENGINE OUT ... TRUCK DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS)

EARL: Yeah. Yeah, it's George. He's comin' in.

SOUND: (FRONT DOOR OPENS ... GEORGE'S FOOTSTEPS IN)

BERT: Why, George! You here?

SOUND: (GEORGE'S FOOTSTEPS IN .. HE STOPS)

GEORGE: (DEEPLY SHAKEN) The road ... ain't there no more.

BERT: Road ain't there?

THE OTHERS: What? What do you mean? What'd you say, George?

GEORGE: The mist was low in the valley so - I drove real slow. Couldn't hardly 
see my way down through Green Hollow.

EARL: Go on, go on.

GEORGE: And there - round the biggest curve - it was awful rough. And then --

EARL: Mm? Then what?

GEORGE: Then - there wasn't any road at all. The concrete bridge - just beyond 
the curve - was gone!

THE OTHERS: (DISBELIEF) Gone? It was gone?

GEORGE: Well, I could see it wasn't there. Nothin' but trees where the road 
used to be.

THE OTHERS: (SCOFFING, SKEPTICAL) Oh, you-- 

GEORGE: No! No, I tell ya, there's nothin' there! (UNEASY) The road's - gone.

(MUSIC ... IN FOR A BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG)

JOHN: Any luck, Earl?

EARL: No! Just trees, as far as we could see.

ED: Yeah! Even where the high tension poles used to be, there's nothin' but 
trees! Trees all around!

(MUSIC ... IN FOR A BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG)

MAY: This just don't make sense -- everything disappearin'!

MA WARDER: The men keep comin' back and sayin' the roads are gone! The bridges 
are gone! The railroad's gone!

MAY: Where's everything gone? What's to become of us all?!

(MUSIC ... IN FOR A BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG)

EARL: We've searched for miles! There're no towns! No other signs of human 
life. Just woods -- as thick as jungle!

(MUSIC ... TO A CLIMAX ... A BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN SUBSIDING IN BG)

NARRATOR: There was a meeting in the school that night. And every living soul 
in Saugersville that could get up on two legs appeared. Now, everyone is 
there, and talk runs on. Now, low and slow. Now, high, hysterical. Earl 
Franklin rises and knocks on the teacher's desk.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES ... EARL BANGS ON DESK FOR ATTENTION ... CROWD QUIETS)

EARL: Now, let's see if we can tell just how this came about. ... Can anybody 
say? John Herbert?

JOHN: (OFF) Last night, I couldn't sleep, and lit the light to read. I saw the 
bulb go out. It faded out, as though the power went off by slow degrees.

EARL: Well, what time would that have been, John?

JOHN: (OFF, THINKS ALOUD) About eleven-ten I took my book and read almost an 
hour. (TO EARL) Midnight, I guess.

GUS WARDER: Yeah. Our lights went out at midnight. And the radio programs died 
out, too. And I've got a battery set. But I couldn't get nothin' -- but 
static.

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES)

EARL: Well, we've been to where Centerfield used to be, and Indiantown. And as 
far as Sulphur Springs. It's all the same -- no towns at all. Not any house or 
road. Only the river, and the creeks, and the trees.

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES)

EDE SALZENBACH: (panicky woman) What's come to everyone?! Where are they, 
except for us? And what will come to us? Maybe tomorrow there'll be just trees 
in Saugersville and where will we be then?

MAN: Yes, where WILL we be?

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES ... TAPPING ON THE DESK ... CROWD QUIETS)

EARL: Well, barring some kind of fate that's after us and hasn't quite caught 
up, we're going to live here in Saugersville a while. The trouble is to find 
out just how we're goin' to do it -- now that we needs must be independent of 
what used to be the rest of the world.

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES IN BG)

ABE: Earl?!

EARL: Abe Givets?

SOUND: (CROWD QUIETS)

ABE: Got a tarnation lot of milk t' home. We'll all be throwin' some of that 
away now that George can't drive it to other towns to be sold. Saugersville's 
calves and pigs and people, butter and cheese, won't take it all!

GUS WARDER: We'll likely have to eat the cows. And then keep just enough of 
what we need ourselves for milk and cream and butter. We'd better breed a lot 
of veal and beef and pigs.

ED: Yeah, and we better see each one of us got enough hens.

EARL: Yes. But we're very lucky that this is spring. At least we can plan to 
plant what we'll need for food and fodder for the year.

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES IN AGREEMENT)

EARL: Now, we must count all the things we have to have that used to come from 
out of town and see just how we can replace them for ourselves. And, uh, 
there's not too big a stock of food in your store, is there, Bert?

BERT: No, not much there. 

EARL: Then I think it had better be rationed out fairly to everyone.

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES IN AGREEMENT)

EARL: It looks to me, my friends, as though we'll have to have a "Committee of 
Safety," as they did long ago. Five or seven men to tell us what to do and 
when to do it. Now, if you agree, let's settle that right now.

SOUND: (CROWD BUZZES IN AGREEMENT)

(MUSIC ... IN FOR A BRIEF TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG)

NARRATOR: Under the stars that look so far away, blown by a fierce spring wind 
that whacks the trees, the people hurry home to light their lamps, walking 
with new responsibility and courage that even now does not desert. The elected 
members of the Saftey Board -- Gus Warder, Ed Winterhaus and George, Bert 
Snyder and Earl Franklin as the head -- go home as well. To bed, if not to 
sleep.

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

EARL: Our first problem is to see that everybody gets his share of food.

BERT: We can ration out what I have on hand in the store.

GUS WARDER: I've drawn up some tentative plans on what we all have to plant 
this year.

ED: Yeah, we'll have to kill some cattle. Don't have enough feed for so many 
head.

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

MAY: Well, Grandma, you'll have to teach us how to make soap now.

GRANDMA: Go buy your soap!

MAY: But you know we can't do that any more.

GRANDMA: Fiddlesticks! Where are my cough drops?

MAY: You've eaten them up. We can't get them any more!

GRANDMA: I'll have none of this. None of this unlikely lie you tell. Go leave 
me be and tell me nothing more!

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

EARL: You have some gas and oil on hand, Bert?

BERT: Yes. Truck came Saturday. Have about twelve hundred gallons of gas.

EARL: Oh, good. 

BERT: The kerosene and oil should last an ordinary month. The gas? Well, with 
careful use, we might make it last for a while for the farm machinery. After 
that, we'll just have to use horses.

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN, SUMMERY, IN BG)

NARRATOR: The summer came upon them like a storm -- a rush of green that 
sweeps up over the land and covers deep the delicate shades of spring that 
grow in moister soil and fainter sun. The grass stands up and stretches in 
every night. The new-set gardens sprout thick and green. And, in new fields, 
the grain begins to wave. 

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (TOOLS IN DIRT)

MA WARDER: Your garden's comin' along nice, May. You should be proud of it.

MAY: Yes, I like working in it. Feeling the soil, watching things grow. I 
don't know - well, it seems to give me something solid to hold onto.

MA WARDER: Yes. But you work too long in the hot sun. You should rest once in 
a while.

MAY: I don't like to rest.

MA WARDER: When you spend all your time working, it's not good for you. You 
should go out and have some fun once in a while, girl.

SOUND: (DROPS HER TOOLS)

MAY: (TENSE) Oh, mother, why should I go out when the one I want to go out 
with doesn't ask me?

MA WARDER: Oh. So THAT'S what bothering you, May. I THOUGHT you were upset 
about something. Is it - John Herbert?

MAY: Yes. It's John. Mother, he doesn't even seem to know I exist. He's always 
with Gert Winterhaus.

MA WARDER: Mm, I suppose since both him and Gert have lived in the city, they 
just sort of naturally drew together when - when all this happened.

MAY: I suppose so. But, Mother, I know they're not right for each other.

MA WARDER: Maybe not, May. But you can't go and tell them that.

MAY: I know it. Sometimes I'm so unhappy.

MA WARDER: Oh, yes, dear. I know it. 

MAY: Sometimes when I'm working in the garden this place seems no smaller than 
it ever was. I never cared for city life or city ways. I don't miss anything, 
really, with the way things are now.

MA WARDER: I feel that way, too. But there's some that don't.

MAY: Yes. And I'm afraid that John is one of them.

(MUSIC ... IN AND UNDER)

NARRATOR: October 1st now brings them half a year complete in this world that 
is so new - and so tarnation old. They are the same -- men and boys and girls 
and wives and maids -- as on that midnight of the 31st of March. Their eyes 
look now to winter and the snow -- the test to search them out if they are 
strong. They know the answer if their strength should fail.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (DOORBELL RINGS ... DOOR OPENS)

REVEREND: Yes? ... Why, John Herbert! Er, come in, my boy, come in.

JOHN: Good evening, Reverend Yule.

REVEREND: Let me have your coat. Er, sit down, won't you, John?

JOHN: Why, yes, thank you, I will. (SITS) Ah, it's getting chilly out.

REVEREND: Yes, autumn is here and that means winter will soon descend upon us. 
... Did you, uh, want to see me about something special?

JOHN: You must think it's queer, my visiting you all of a sudden like this. I 
never have before.

REVEREND: Not queer, no, but, uh, I AM curious.

JOHN: I've been meaning to come to see you for some time now. I'd like to talk 
with you about - well, about these past months, since last March 31st.

REVEREND: Yes?

JOHN: Well, Reverend Yule, what do you think of our isolation in a world 
destroyed? Don't tell me God or Providence has willed that this should be. 
What do you REALLY think the answer is?

REVEREND: If I say God in His wisdom made the mystery and if you say blind 
faith playing a nameless game let this happen, why, what's the difference? We 
are bound to live because some strength within us says we must.

JOHN: But it's taking all our time to find out how to keep on living. Why? 
(CHUCKLES) There I go again -- there's always a "Why?"

REVEREND: John, I haven't always felt as I do now -- submission to God's will 
in this His world. Nor can I counsel you to bow your head, for youth must 
fight and with its fighting, learn.

JOHN: I've fought so long and learned so little that I'm tired of it.

REVEREND: Well, you're still young, John.

JOHN: I used to think constantly of the city -- all it meant -- and thought I 
couldn't do anything if not there. Then, when I found that by not being in the 
city I'd saved the life I valued nowhere but there, what had I left? I've been 
lost. And done more than one foolish thing in loneliness. 

REVEREND: But now those things are past?

JOHN: Oh, yes. 

(MUSIC ... IN FOR A TRANSITION ... AND UNDER)

SOUND: (WIND HOWLS ... FOOTSTEPS)

JOHN: (TO HIMSELF) Mm? Someone else out walking on a day like this? She's 
certainly battling against this wind. Looks as though she'll just about make 
it over the top of this hill. (OUT LOUD) Hello, May.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

MAY: (STARTLED) Oh! Oh, hello, John. I didn't see you there.

JOHN: No, I noticed that you had your head sort of tucked under your coat 
collar for protection.

MAY: It's sort of cold out.

JOHN & MAY: (TOGETHER) It's going to snow--! (THEY STOP AND LAUGH WARMLY)

JOHN: "Going to," did we say? Here it comes now. We'd better go.

MAY: Yes, it's a thick snow.

(MUSIC ... IN FOR A TRANSITION ... THEN OUT)

SOUND: (WIND HOWLS)

JOHN: Oh, please. I wish you'd come in. I've something here-- I need some 
help.

MAY: YOU need help?

JOHN: Yes. Come in, I - I'll show it to you.

MAY: All right.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS ON PORCH)

JOHN: Look, it's white out already and it's been snowing just a few minutes. 
The door's unlocked, go on in. I'll just set these boots down.

MAY: Okay.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS ... FOOTSTEPS INSIDE)

MAY: What a nice house you have.

SOUND: (DOOR SHUTS ... WIND OUT)

JOHN: Oh, it's small but - suits me fine. Here, let me take your coat.

MAY: Thank you.

JOHN: Well, I'll light some candles. Gettin' dark in here.

MAY: It's gotten dark very early today. Tell me, what did you want to show me?

JOHN: Oh. Over here on my work table. In my spare time, I've been-- (CHUCKLES) 
Well, shall I say, "manufacturing" some toys for Christmas. 

MAY: How wonderful! (GIGGLES) You know, my brother Jack has been wondering how 
Santa Claus would find us this year.

JOHN: Ah, I've made a farmyard, and some dolls, Noah's ark and so forth. But 
this is what I wanted to show you. This doll, in particular. 

MAY: Oh, she's lovely. I guess no matter how old I get, I'll always like 
dolls.

JOHN: Would you be interested in making some clothes for her?

MAY: I'd love it! Mother has a rag bag full of scraps and I'll make her a 
lovely wardrobe.

JOHN: (LIGHTLY) And if I sell her, you'll have your half.

MAY: (MATCHES HIM) Well, we'd better go into business.

JOHN: Why, we might earn ten pounds of maple sugar.

MAY: Or five cords of well-split wood!

(THEY LAUGH HAPPILY)

(MUSIC ... IN FOR AN UPBEAT TRANSITION ... TURNS TO "O LITTLE HOUSE OF 
BETHLEHEM" AND CHURCH BELLS ... THEN IN BG)

NARRATOR: The Reverend Yule holds church on Christmas eve. His little 
building's all ablaze with lights. He has collected candles all the fall, 
instead of pennies, in the collection plate. All Saugersville is here as it 
has not spent Christmas eve in church these many years.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

REVEREND: O God, our Father, wise and most benevolent, that blesses us 
although we know it not, give us to keep here in our hearts the memory of 
Christ whose birth we celebrate now for the first time in our new world of 
loneliness and toil. His story we will read, and tell, and love, that all may 
know that follow after here the blessing that Thou gavest in Thy son. Amen. 
(BEAT) Now, let us sing Hymn Ninety-Six.

SOUND: (MUCH COUGHING AND OPENING OF HYMNBOOKS, ETC.)

(MUSIC ... PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT ... THE CONGREGATION SINGS "O COME ALL YE 
FAITHFUL" ... IN BG)

GUS WARDER: This is the truth. It's up to us to keep this thing alive. We 
mustn't forget.

EARL: But this is just a little part of all we must pass on. Our duty is so 
heavy, how can we ever do all that is right?

JOHN: May looks so good, so sweet, so true -- a part of these strong hills and 
fit to live and carry her a life that will be good. 

CONGREGATION: (FINISHES THE HYMN) O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord ...

(MUSIC ... HYMN ENDS ABRUPTLY ... AN OMINOUS ACCENT ... IN BG)

NARRATOR: And now, sickness comes upon them -- young and old. A cold, a fever, 
chills and aching pain. A shattering weakness deep in blood and bone. These 
bear them down like grain beneath the hail.

(MUSIC ... OUT)

SOUND: (GENTLE CLATTER OF DISHES)

GEORGE: Er, how's Abe tonight?

ELLEN: Well, I hope he'll sleep for a while now. I just gave him some broth.

GEORGE: Yeah. He's pretty delirious, isn't he?

ELLEN: Yes. He kept mumbling something about how he, Abe Givets, was going to 
be the richest man in Saugersville.

GEORGE: Uh huh.

ELLEN: He said something about having salt. That he'd better guard it. Well, 
your supper's ready now, George.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS TO TABLE ... CHAIR DRAWN OUT)

GEORGE: Ellen. Why can't we tell him we want to get married?

ELLEN: But, George, you know how he feels about my leaving him. He's been so 
dependent on me ever since mother died.

GEORGE: But you've got a right to - to live your own life.

ELLEN: But you don't know him the way I do, George. If he knew we were in love 
with each other -- I don't know WHAT he'd do.

GEORGE: (SIGHS) I'm going to tell him.

ELLEN: Please, George. It's been so nice here these past months since you've 
been workin' here. Don't spoil what little we have. 

SOUND: (DISTANT BANGING)

ELLEN: Oh. What's that?

GEORGE: Mm? What?

ELLEN: Sounds like the front door banging in the wind.

SOUND: (GEORGE'S CHAIR SCRAPES FLOOR, HE RISES)

GEORGE: Oh. It is.

SOUND: (FOOTSTEPS FROM TABLE ... DOOR KEEPS BANGING)

GEORGE: How'd that get open?

ELLEN: Why, I don't know. I bolted it before. 

GEORGE: (REALIZES) Abe? If he's delirious--!

ELLEN: (WORRIED) Yes! Yes, he must have gone out.

GEORGE: Well, here's the lantern. We'll look for tracks in the snow.

ELLEN: Come on!

SOUND: (HURRIED FOOTSTEPS ... DOOR OPENS ... WIND HOWLS)

GEORGE: There're footprints here by the door.

ELLEN: Yes. They go out to the field!

SOUND: (HURRIED FOOTSTEPS IN SNOW)

GEORGE: He can't be far ahead of us.

ELLEN: But why did he go out?

GEORGE: I don't know. 

ELLEN: His tracks are clear. We must be close behind him.

GEORGE: Ellen. There he is.

ELLEN: Where? Oh! What's he doing?

GEORGE: I don't know but I - I think he's kneeling by that old hidden hole.

ELLEN: What's he got in his hands?

GEORGE: Looks like rope.

ELLEN: Talk to him, George.

GEORGE: (CALLS OUT) Abe?!

ABE: (STARTLED, SCREECHES AT GEORGE)

GEORGE: Abe, it's me, George! Don't be frightened!

ABE: You! You think I don't know you're trying to take Ellen away from me?!

GEORGE: No. No, look--

ELLEN: He knows.

ABE: You! My daughter! I'll kill you both! 

GEORGE: No!

SOUND: (ABE AND GEORGE SCUFFLE)

ABE: Take your hands off me! (YELLS INCOHERENTLY)

ELLEN: George, look out for that hole! George, get away from the rim of that 
hole! Can't you catch him? He's crazy wild! Look out! Look out! 

ABE & GEORGE: (SCREAM AS THEY FALL)

ELLEN: (SCREAMS)

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT ... AN INTENSE TRANSITION ... THEN OUT)

ED: Quite a day yesterday, wasn't it, Earl?

EARL: Yeah, it certainly was. First John and May announce their engagement, 
and then that business last night.

GUS WARDER: Seems something funny about all that.

EARL: Ah, it does, Gus. Abe's dead and it looks now like George'll probably be 
a cripple.

ED: Looked to me like they had a fight there at that old hole.

EARL: Yes, I'm afraid they did. Funny there being salt there. Wonder if old 
Abe knew it.

ED: You can bet your boots he did. Probably waitin' till we didn't have no 
more and then he'd tell us about it. He always was an old miser. Well, he got 
what was comin' to him. If he hadn't had the salt on his mind, he wouldn't've 
gone out there. And then he wouldn't have been killed.

EARL: Yes, but think of poor Ellen. Her father's dead and now she says she's 
gonna marry George even though he IS a cripple.

ED: Mm hm, yeah. Well, at any rate, we should be congratulatin' you, Gus. May 
and John are a fine couple.

EARL: Yeah, they certainly are. Uh, any date set for the wedding?

GUS WARDER: April 1st is the weddin'. (WRYLY) Our New Year's Day here in 
Saugersville.

EARL: (CHUCKLES) Well, that's fine. Er, by the way, we should be calling a 
meeting of the safety council, don't you think? You know, our first year is 
almost up. We've got a lot of things to discuss. 

GUS WARDER: Yes. We gotta plan the crops for this spring. 

EARL: And I think we should plan for a new election.

ED: That's right. Don't seem possible a year is 'most up.

EARL: And I think we should establish some kind of law.

ED: Law?

EARL: Yes. Something aimed for justice in a place like this. Some simple rules 
of government like they had way back in the days before there were so many 
towns. After all, the original idea in this country was that each must have 
his turn at government.

ED: Yes, that's true. We must hold to that idea, and pass it on to our 
children. Each one must have his turn at government.

(MUSIC ... FOR A TRANSITION ... THEN IN BG)

NARRATOR: The 31st of March is like a day two months ahead of time. The snow 
is gone and, even here and there, the grass is green. That cold and bitter day 
a year ago, with snow still deep along the snow fences, and chilly air and 
summer far away, is like a memory of [?], the shadow that is real but now is 
gone.

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

EARL: (TAKES A DEEP BREATH AND SIGHS CONTENTEDLY) The air is good. Another 
hour and all our year is spent. It may be the last if God keeps anniversaries 
- likes to do things on the proper date again. Maybe at midnight then, upon 
the hour is when John Herbert saw his light go dim, we will depart upon as 
blind a road as took all we knew a year ago. Ah, but this year's been good for 
us. Alone as we have been, privations and struggles we have faced have brought 
out the best in all of us. We're stronger now than we were last March 31st. 
And, if we get by this fatal hour tonight, we will keep on - and be the human 
race.

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

REVEREND: One year gone by. So little time in human life. And, in God's sight, 
a breath, a heartbeat, or a drop of rain. O God, inspire my heart with 
strength so that the day may never come when our descendants turn and look 
with questioning eyes and ask again, "Christ Jesus -- who was He? What did He 
do?"

(MUSIC ... FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG)

JOHN: Almost midnight. The time has come again. The year is gone. Maybe - 
maybe at midnight our world will return - and all this year will then become a 
moment's dream which we have dreamed in some few seconds of one night. A 
moment's dream of something real. Maybe. ... Maybe.

NARRATOR: John Herbert starts now for bed. He winds his watch and sees the 
hands move slowly onward toward the midnight of the 31st of March.

(MUSIC ... TO A FINISH ... AND OUT)

ANNOUNCER: You have heard Josephine Young Case's story, "At Midnight on the 
31st of March," from a book published by the Houghton-Mifflin Company. The 
adapatation for Author's Playhouse was by Hazel Weihe, and Fred Weihe was the 
director. The musical score was composed and conducted by Dr. Roy Shield. Next 
week, same time, same station, Author's Playhouse will bring you Francis 
Cockrell's farce comedy of a man who was beaten at his own game -- "Rogue's 
Holiday."

(MUSIC ... THEME ... IN AND OUT)

ANNOUNCER: Author's Playhouse came to you from Chicago. This is the National 
Broadcasting Company.

___________________________________
Originally broadcast: 31 March 1943

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