Let the Lilies Consider

Episode #54
Date: 28 June 1948

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.

(SEVEN SECONDS SILENCE)

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.

(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE FOR)

ANNOUNCER: The Mutual Broadcasting System presents "Quiet, Please!" which is 
written and directed by Wyllis Cooper and which features Ernest Chappell. 
"Quiet, Please!" for tonight is called "Let the Lilies Consider."

(MUSIC ... THEME ... FADE)

---

JAMES: [fades in] Yes, I quite understand. I quite understand. Your 
stenographer is taking down everything I say, and you and you are witnesses. 
When the stenographer transcribes his notes, I'm to sign them and that is my - 
confession, is that right? And whatever I say may be used against me, is - is 
that right? 

Oh, I'll sign them all right. Where do you want me to start? At the beginning, 
I suppose. 

(MUSIC IN AND UNDER)

JAMES: All right. For your record, my name is James R. James.

Roderick. Forty-one, third generation American, college graduate, U.C.L.A. -- 
University of California, Los Angeles. 

No occupation. 

No, not unemployed. No occupation. 

Well, I have a small, but adequate income. You have my address. I was married 
and--

Oh, uh, Gretchen. Gretchen McMonash. 

Yes, Gretchen is a diminutive of Margaret. Margaret McMonash. An orphan.

LIEUTENANT: Where's you wife now, James?

JAMES: Please don't try to trap me, Lieutenant. I've told you at least twenty 
times where she is.

LIEUTENANT: Tell me again!

JAMES: Right there! THERE!

LIEUTENANT: Look, James, we dug that place up twice now. Your wife isn't 
there. Now where is she?

JAMES: (sounding desperate) I've told you--

LIEUTENANT: What did you do with her?

JAMES: I didn't do anything with her, Lieutenant! (angrily) I've told you 
that!

LIEUTENANT: All right. Go on. 

JAMES: I - met her at school, in nineteen thirty--

LIEUTENANT: Did you bury her in the flowerbed there?!

JAMES: May I go on?

LIEUTENANT: Answer my question! Did you bury her?

JAMES: NO, I DID NOT!

LIEUTENANT: Then why do you keep saying she's there?

JAMES: Because--

LIEUTENANT: YOU KILLED HER!

JAMES: NO!

LIEUTENANT: WELL, SHE'S DEAD! WHAT KILLED HER?!

JAMES: I'VE TOLD YOU SHE ISN'T DEAD!

LIEUTENANT: You can't prove it, James! 

JAMES: I can prove it, Lieutenant, but you won't believe it.

LIEUTENANT: Why don't you prove it, then?

JAMES: Shall I - go on with my statement?

LIEUTENANT: Did you plant that lily there to mark her grave, James?

JAMES: I didn't PLANT THAT LILY!

LIEUTENANT: HOW COME IT GROWS THERE? HOW COME IT'S SO MUCH BIGGER THAN THE 
OTHERS? ANSWER ME!

JAMES: There were other lilies there - alongside it - before you and your men 
dug them up. 

LIEUTENANT: James, I think I know why that lily is bigger than the others. 

JAMES: You do?

LIEUTENANT: Yes, and so do you.

JAMES: You're wrong, Lieutenant.

LIEUTENANT: You know why we left that lily standing, James, when we dug up the 
others? 

JAMES: Yes.

LIEUTENANT: Because we know what's under it there! Because we figured the lily 
would remind you, would keep you thinking about your wife buried there! 
Because we hoped it might lead you to a confession!

JAMES: It - won't, Lieutenant. 

LIEUTENANT: Ya know, I have an idea that that lily there is going to hang you, 
James. 

JAMES: No, it isn't. That lily loves me.

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)

JAMES: "Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow. They toil not; 
neither do they spin. Yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not 
arrayed like one of these."

LIEUTENANT: What are you talking about?

JAMES: We - consider the lilies and some of us love them. Do you suppose the 
lilies consider us and - sometimes return our love?

LIEUTENANT: I don't think you'll get by with an insanity plea, James. 

JAMES: I don't know very much about flowers. I don't know anything about them 
from the standpoint of books. I'm not interested in stamens and pistils and - 
and the anatomy of flowers. Well, I'm interested in their souls! In their-- 
Yes, in their souls. I believe flowers love and hate just as people do.

LIEUTENANT: Shall we get along with your statement?

JAMES: Yes - they love us and - and hate us in the proportions of the love or 
the hate we have for them. I said I've always loved flowers. My wife, Gretchen 
...

(MUSIC OUT)

JAMES: ... she hated them. And they loved me! Gretchen...

GRETCHEN: You know, James, I declare, I think flowers don't like me at all. I 
can't do a thing with them.

JAMES: [chuckles] You'll learn. I - I'll show you how to handle them. 

GRETCHEN: I don't think I want to handle them. James, must we have so MANY 
flowers? 

JAMES: Why, I like them, dear. 

GRETCHEN: But so MANY of them?

JAMES: Well, I haven't anything else to do but - raise flowers. 

GRETCHEN: I know that - that's what bothers me. I don't like to see you 
wasting all your time puttering around flowerbeds every single hour. Goodness, 
I think it's just kind of wicked, James, when there're so many other things 
you could be doing!

JAMES: Aren't you happy?

GRETCHEN: Well, of course I'm happy, but I could be happier if I didn't have 
to compete with a lot of silly flowers!

JAMES: Well, I don't think they're silly.

GRETCHEN: Besides, there're so many lilies.

JAMES: Well, they're so beautiful. 

GRETCHEN: They're so depressing. 

JAMES: I love them.

GRETCHEN: That's what bothers me, James. 

JAMES: Why?

GRETCHEN: Well, I'm - I'm jealous of them, James. 

JAMES: Gretchen!

GRETCHEN: James - you do love me more than you love the flowers, don't you?

JAMES: Isn't that a pretty foolish question?

GRETCHEN: James.

JAMES: What?

GRETCHEN: Look! Look at the lilies! 

JAMES: Why, what do you--?

GRETCHEN: Look at them! They're listening! They're waiting to hear what you 
say!

(MUSIC UP AND UNDER)

JAMES: And I looked. And I tell you there was a silence in the garden there 
that - that you could almost hear. And the lilies around us were leaning 
forward, leaning toward us as we stood there. And there was an attitude of 
expectancy about them. As their graceful stems bent toward us - trembling. 
They WERE listening! And suddenly Gretchen broke from my arms and ran sobbing 
into the house. Trampling their beautiful, delicate bodies underfoot as she 
ran. 

(Sighs) No, I - I didn't follow her. I stood for a long time in the twilight, 
considering these lilies of the field. And they - watched me, considering me 
in silence as I - lifted up the - murdered flowers from the marks of 
Gretchen's shoes and the soil - and wept a moment for them. 

And I never did answer Gretchen's question. I - I could have answered it, but 
- she - never asked again. Perhaps she thought she knew the answer.

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT)

LIEUTENANT: So that's why you killed her. Because you thought more of the 
flowers than you did of her.

JAMES: I didn't kill her.

LIEUTENANT: Go on.

JAMES: I did love Gretchen. I love her now more than I ever did.

LIEUTENANT: It sounds as if you did. 

JAMES: We were very happy for a long time - that winter. There are no flowers 
in the winter and she had no cause to feel neglected. It was very pleasant 
here in the house. But the spring came and the buds appeared on the trees and 
- and one day she brought up the subject again.

GRETCHEN: James, what about the flowers this year?

JAMES: I'm going to start on the gardens tomorrow. 

GRETCHEN: I wish... 

JAMES: Wish what, darling?

GRETCHEN: Do we HAVE to have the flowers again?

JAMES: We don't have to have them, but I want them.

GRETCHEN: It's been so nice all winter without them.

JAMES: I've missed them.

GRETCHEN: I'd hoped you'd maybe forgotten them, James.

JAMES: Forgotten them? Why, darling, I - I don't believe I could live without 
them.

GRETCHEN: If they all died, what would you do?

JAMES: I don't know.

GRETCHEN: Would you die?

JAMES: Well, what are you talking about, Gretchen?

GRETCHEN: I'm being very foolish and very silly, James, but - I don't want the 
flowers, I hate flowers!

JAMES: Now, dear ...

GRETCHEN: I HATE THEM!

JAMES: You mustn't say that, Gretchen! They'll hate you.

GRETCHEN: That's just what's the matter! You've let those flowers become an 
obsession with you! You've begun to feel that they're alive, that they have 
feelings! You're letting these things take you away from me and I won't have 
it!

JAMES: Gretchen, you're being--

GRETCHEN: I said I was being silly. I know I am! But it's the truth just the 
same! Oh, we could do so many things this summer, go to so many places--

JAMES: But I don't want to go places, Gretchen.

GRETCHEN: You did before you went so crazy over flowers! Over those horrible 
lilies!

JAMES: Darling, they're so beautiful--

GRETCHEN: YOU USED TO SAY I WAS BEAUTIFUL!

JAMES: Well... you are. 

GRETCHEN: But not as beautiful as the lilies. Am I?

JAMES: Wha... why, dear, you're - you're like a lily yourself. Your skin so 
white, your yellow hair, and that green dress--

GRETCHEN: DON'T YOU COMPARE ME WITH ONE OF THOSE THINGS! YOU HEAR ME? I'M NOT 
LIKE A FLOWER, I'LL NEVER BE LIKE A FLOWER!

JAMES: Dear, please, don't--

GRETCHEN: James! Do you know what I think? Sometimes I think there's something 
wrong with your mind. Sometimes I think you're a little crazy! Do you realize 
that I'm your wife? Do you? But you think you're married to those flowers! I 
WON'T HAVE IT! You've got to choose between those dreadful flowers and me! 

(MUSIC IN ON THE WORD "dreadful" ... BRIDGE AND UNDER)

JAMES: I wondered if my mind - was all right. There's nothing wrong with 
loving flowers, is there? Almost everyone loves them. But for my wife to be 
jealous of them-- I wondered for a moment whether it was my mind or - or hers. 

Yes, I did spend too much time in the gardens, I thought. And I resolved then 
for me to change my ways, to devote only a few hours a day to cultivation and 
admiration of my precious lilies. I would compromise. I would try to follow my 
wife's wishes. Try to remember HER first, instead of the flowers. 

I reckoned - without the flowers. 

I - planted only half as many this year. And Gretchen watched... sullenly... 
from the house. They came up eagerly. And I could have sworn that there were 
twice as many as I had planted. 

Gretchen wouldn't speak to me for days at a time. And mornings when I awoke I 
would sometimes find her staring out the window at the lushness of the garden. 
And in her eyes, I saw a look of - awful hatred. It was her - attitude, I 
suppose, that - that led me to spend more and more time in the garden. 

And the flowers rewarded me. They were more beautiful, more gracious, more 
abundant than I've ever seen them! And they returned the loving care I gave 
them. They poured out their love for me in waves of scents. And their leaves 
caressed my hands as I bent over them. And as I labored among them, they - 
they bent their perfect heads to brush against my cheek. 

And for long hours I could forget - Gretchen, my wife. 

Until a rustle among the lilies caused me to look up - and see my wife 
standing in a window in the house, gazing out - hatefully at us. 

And the lilies - and I - looked back at her with something of fear - in our 
hearts. 

(MUSIC UP AND OUT)

JAMES: And the garden grew and flourished beyond my fondest hopes. Slowly - I 
came to the realization that my garden of lilies was increasing in size! That 
there were hundreds more than I'd set out in the spring.

Then, I smiled on them happily. And the lilies smiled back at me. 

The lilies loved me. 

Well, there was a summer night, and a full moon, and I sat on the porch alone 
and dreamed of... 

[sighs] What DID I dream of? 

SOUND: (Faint MURMUR in background.) 

JAMES: There was a voice. A murmurous voice above the little breeze in the 
garden, and the voice was without words, and yet it was the voice of a loved 
one. Of a lover.

And it spoke to me sadly, caressing me, in sounds that did not need the form 
of words. 

(MUSIC IN)

JAMES: And I sat there, alone in the darkness and listened. 

LILIES: [repeating faintly] ... love you, love you ... 

JAMES: And, at last, the words came.

LILIES: [stronger] Love you, love you ...

GRETCHEN: JAMES!

JAMES: [softly] I love you. [startled, at normal voice] Oh! Why, why, 
Gretchen! 

GRETCHEN: James, I can't stand it any longer! 

JAMES: Why, why, what's the matter, Gretchen?

GRETCHEN: I told you a long time ago that you've got to choose between me and 
those flowers!

JAMES: Now, dear, I--

GRETCHEN: I'm not going to live in this house like a prisoner any longer! 
Those flowers are driving me mad! I never see you from morning till night! 
You've forgotten all about me! I - I don't mean a thing to you!

JAMES: Why, that's not true, Gretchen, I - I do love you!

GRETCHEN: But you love those ...

LILIES: (begin "love you" chant in background) 

GRETCHEN: ... those flowers more!

JAMES: Gretchen, I--

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you, love you, love you ...

GRETCHEN: Well?

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you, love you, love you ...

JAMES: Uh... I love you. 

LILIES: (stop chant)

GRETCHEN: Then what are you going to do about it?

JAMES: What shall I do?

GRETCHEN: DO YOU WANT THE FLOWERS OR DO YOU WANT ME? 

JAMES: I - I--

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you...

GRETCHEN: CHOOSE, JAMES! 

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you, love you, love you ...

JAMES: [almost sobbing] Gretchen...

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you, love you, love you ...

JAMES: ... I can't! ... 

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you ...

JAMES: I CAN'T!

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)

JAMES: And Gretchen - turned away without another word - and went into the 
house. I - could not move. The chanting in my ears had become a - hypnotic 
lullaby now. And my eyes closed, and - I think I slept. 

And then suddenly I was awakened by Gretchen's shrill laughter ...

GRETCHEN: [insanely laughing in background]

JAMES:  ... somewhere, and the flaring of a brilliant light. 

(MUSIC: WILD ORGAN BRIDGE)

JAMES: And the garden was a sheet of flame. Among the lilies, Gretchen dashed 
with a great torch she'd fashioned from a broom soaked with kerosene - and the 
noble, tall lilies withered in its blast as she thrust it in their faces. And 
above the crackling of the flames, above her hysterical laughter ...

GRETCHEN: [insanely laughing] 

JAMES: ... I could hear the keening of strange lost voices ...

LILIES: [crying]

JAMES: And I could make out words among the sounds of the catastrophe that my 
wife had begun. And they were sad beyond belief. And I roused myself and ran 
to the garden but I was too late. Like some avenging demon, my wife stood 
triumphant amidst the scorched and blistered, dying flowers, and she laughed
again -- for now she thought she'd won. And there were no more flowers to be 
jealous of! 

(MUSIC: SOMBER BRIDGE, THEN UNDER)

JAMES: And when the sun - rose in the morning, I went - sadly out of the house 
to contemplate the miserable remains - of my loved ones. It was as if - 
nothing had happened in that dreadful night! The lilies that I had last seen 
smoldering in the moonlight had raised their smiling heads again! And there 
was no sign of fire about them! And ... listen to this, you who refuse to 
believe that flowers, too, live and - reason and love. There were thousands 
more lilies now than there'd been the night before. They had burst the bounds 
of the garden and they extended halfway across the graveled walk that bordered 
the garden! And from the house... 

GRETCHEN: [weeping]

JAMES: ... came the despairing sobbing of the woman who had tried desperately 
to destroy the flowers that loved me. 

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)

JAMES: I had feared for my wife's sanity. 

(MUSIC OUT)

JAMES: Now, I feared for my own. It was - hours before she could do more than 
- weep. At last, she spoke to me.

GRETCHEN: James... I'm going to leave here. 

JAMES: No, Gretchen. 

GRETCHEN: I've go to. I didn't believe, but...

JAMES: I won't let you go.

GRETCHEN: You don't love me. Why should I stay? They've won. They'll never 
forgive me. They'll kill me. 

JAMES: No.

GRETCHEN: James, I want you to listen to me. I love you. I'll always love you. 

JAMES: I - I love you, Gretchen.

GRETCHEN: But you love the flowers more than you do me.

JAMES: I... No. No, I don't.

GRETCHEN: You don't mean that. 

JAMES: I... (BRIEF MUSICAL ACCENT IN) ... mean it. (MUSIC OUT)

GRETCHEN: But it's no use. They love you, James. They're going to have you. 
I've tried to destroy them and they can't be destroyed! If I don't get away 
from here--

JAMES: No, I can't let you go, Gretchen.

GRETCHEN: I love you, James.

JAMES: Stay. 

GRETCHEN: What if I do stay? I'll die. They'll have you. 

JAMES: No!

GRETCHEN: They hate me!

JAMES: Gretchen...

GRETCHEN: They love you! What can I do? 

JAMES: Well, I don't know, but--

GRETCHEN: You can't fight them. You won't fight them.

JAMES: I know I can't fight them. They love me!

GRETCHEN: And I love you, James! It's too late now to choose. 

JAMES: I won't let them have you! I love you! 

GRETCHEN: [whispers, in shock] Look at the window! 

JAMES: I looked at the window. Outside, stood another lily. There had been 
none there - before this morning. There it stood. And as I raised my head I 
could see more and more of them, all the way across the lawn, overflowing the 
garden walls, thousands of them, each with its flower cup turned toward the 
house, each one listening. And I turned back to Gretchen, miserable and 
afraid. She'd risen from the bed and was standing before her dresser. 

"Gretchen!" I called. 

For I knew what was in the second drawer of that dresser. 

GRETCHEN: There's no other way, James. 

JAMES: Put it down, Gretchen. We'll - think of a way. 

GRETCHEN: There's no other way. I don't know how this has happened but - I 
believe now. I believe they love you, James, and they hate me.

JAMES: Gretchen, no! Put it down!

GRETCHEN: No, James. This is the way out. It's the only way out. I won't let 
them have you! I won't give you up!

JAMES: And she raised the pistol until it pointed straight at my heart. And I 
said once more, "No, Gretchen!"

GRETCHEN: It has to be this way, James. And then I'll go out and give myself 
up to them. Darling, I love you. 

SOUND: (GUNSHOT)

JAMES: [after a pause] I - must have lain there - for a long, long time. At 
last, my eyes opened and it was dusk again and I - I struggled to rise. My 
side - ached horribly. And it was a long time before I could reconstruct what 
had happened. And I lay there thinking and wondering - what had happened to 
Gretchen? Was I to die here alone? Was she dead, too? 

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you, love you, love you, love you ... 

JAMES: And then I heard the voice again. Gretchen?

LILIES: You will not die. Gretchen has not died. We love you. We want you to 
be happy. You love Gretchen. Gretchen lives. Gretchen loves you. 

(MUSIC IN AND UNDER)

JAMES: And I drifted away again into the gathering darkness. With the voice 
...

LILIES: [chanting] ... love you, love you, love you ... 

JAMES: ... still ringing in my ears. 

(MUSIC UP AND OUT)

LIEUTENANT: It's a fine story, James. 

JAMES: Yes. 

LIEUTENANT: You didn't tell us before that you'd been shot. 

JAMES: Here's the scar. 

LIEUTENANT: Hmm... yeah. What became of your wife?

JAMES: That's a - remarkably beautiful lily there, the - the big one. The one 
you couldn't remove when you were digging. 

LIEUTENANT: Well? 

JAMES: Gretchen was gold and white like a lily. Gretchen's green dress was the 
color of leaves. 

LIEUTENANT: What are you trying to tell me, James?

JAMES: Do you - do you see something on the stem of that lily, lieutenant?

LIEUTENANT: Where?

JAMES: Uh, just - below the flower.

LIEUTENANT: Let me see. It's a ring!

JAMES: Our wedding ring. 

LIEUTENANT: How'd it get there?

JAMES: Gretchen. 

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT)

LIEUTENANT: What?

JAMES: I - I told you she was here with us. 

(MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN UNDER)

JAMES: Darling...

LILY: [chanting in Gretchen's voice] Love you, love you, love you ... 

(MUSIC BRIDGE, THEN OUT)

LIEUTENANT: No, I didn't get it signed, Chief. There wasn't anybody there to 
sign it. I'm telling ya! I heard the voice myself. It kept saying, "Love you, 
love you, love you." That's right! We looked around to see where it was coming 
from and, when we turned around again, James was gone. I don't know! All I 
know is there're TWO lilies there now, close together, great big ones. And 
they, uh, they looked as if they had their arms around each other.

(MUSIC ... THEME. FADE FOR)
ANNOUNCER: "Quiet, Please!" for tonight was called, "Let the Lilies Consider." 
It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper. James, the man who spoke to you, 
was Ernest Chappell.

CHAPPELL: And Kathleen Cordell played Gretchen. The voice of the lilies was 
Peggy Stanley, and James Boles was the Police Lieutenant. As usual, music for 
"Quiet, Please!" was played by Albert Buhrmann. Now, for a word about next 
week, here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.

COOPER: Of course, you'll never meet any of the characters in tonight's story. 
They didn't exist before I thought them up and they're not imitations of 
anybody. Next week's "Quiet, Please!" story will be called "Wahine Tahiti."

CHAPPELL: [nearly cracks up, perhaps at Cooper's pronunciation of next week's 
title] And so until next week at this time, I am ... quietly yours ... Ernest 
Chappell. 

ANNOUNCER: "Quiet, Please!" comes to you from New York--

(MUSIC ... THEME .... ABRUPTLY OUT.) 

TRANSCRIPTION ANNOUNCER: [cuts in] --and was transcribed earlier from Eastern 
Mutual for this presentation.


Home 1