The following are the chief characters, together with the Artists who played 
in the original production by the B.B.C. in 1930:
EDWARD           Harold Scott 
VANESSA          Flora Robson 
FATHER           Wilfred Shine 
MOTHER           Mary O'Farrell 
FANNY            Ethel Lewis 
MRS. DOLAN       Florence Marks 
A RECTOR         Arthur Malcolm 
A BOY            Harold Rees 
MRS. MACALEENAN  Charlotte Tedlie
SADIE/NURSE      Kitty Murphy
In this play the many short scenes rise out of and sink into a rhythmic sound 
of splashing, moving seas. This sound should be complex yet symphonic ... by 
its rhythm and tone it may be possible to suggest not merely the waters in 
which Edward is engulfed, but the beating of a heart, the tumult of fear, the 
immutable laws and irresistible strength of Nature compared with our puny and 
inconstant selves.

The setting of this play is Irish. This was immediately apparent in the accent 
of the performers. But it has seemed wiser not to attempt more than the 
sketchiest indications of this by phonetic spelling.

ANNOUNCER  It is said that their past lives float before the eyes of drowning 
men. From a ship, bound for China, a young clergyman has fallen overboard ... 
even now he is struggling for life in the water ... 

[The sound of Waves fades in.
His name is Edward. And before his eyes float pictures ... voices sound in his 
ears ... voices ... voices ... his past life ... 

[The Waves fade as the first scene begins.

NURSE  Give it up, Edward ... give it up at once.

NURSE  Come on now. Don't you be a bold child ... give it up when I tell you. 
And come off that flower-bed ... Edward, give it up.

MOTHER  What is it, nurse? What's the matter?
NURSE  I can do nothing with him, ma'am ... he wanted to pull the flowers and 
I toul' him not to ... but he went all the same, and pulled one.
MOTHER  Oh, Edward, that was very naughty.
NURSE  Ay ma'am, and not only that, but it was the best one of them all he 
pulled ... sure nothing would do him but the very best rose itself ... and 
then when he had it pulled I toul' him to give it up.

MOTHER  And did he?

NURSE  He did not indeed ... he has it still.
MOTHER  Edward, you're a very naughty little boy ... you know quite well that 
the flowers are not for you to pick. Give it up at once.
MOTHER  Give it up at once, I say.
MOTHER  If you don't give it up, Edward, mother will be really angry ... if 
you don't give it up mother will smack you. (Pause ... she smacks him. He 
cries.) Now give it up.
FANNY  Hide your eyes, Edward; you're to stand under the cedar, Edward, till 
you hear us call "Cuckoo."
2ND CHILD  The cedar's Home, Edward ... you see that, don't you?
2ND CHILD  Home ... the cedar.... Oh, Edward, don't be so stupid.
FANNY  Isn't he a little stupid?
2ND CHILD  It's the way he blinks at one through those thick spectacles.
FANNY  Hide your eyes, Edward ... shut them ... tight.
2ND CHILD  And don't open them till we call "Cuckoo."
FANNY  Ready?
2ND CHILD  Come on, quick.

FANNY  I know a splendid place ... he'll never find us.
2ND CHILD  He'll never find us anywhere ... he's such a little silly....
[They fade away, laughing.
Pause ... then far-off ... "Cuckoo!" ...
                                         "Cuckoo!" ...
MOTHER  (Fading-in) ... but, children, it was very naughty and unkind of you 
to stay hidden so long ... why, it's all hours. Look at the long shadows on 
the grass.
FANNY  But, mother, Edward was so stupid.
MOTHER  Edward's a great deal younger than you are, Fanny ... you can't expect 
him to be so good at all your games.... Just think, Father, they were hidden 
in the hay-loft and Edward was searching for an hour and a half....
FANNY  Hour and twenty-five minutes, Mum.
FATHER  And what does Edward say about it? ... eh? ... well, Edward?
EDWARD  D-dunno.
FATHER  What a stupid answer ... is that all you can say? Where do you say you 
were, girls?
FANNY  In the hay-loft, father; it was lovely, we could see all over the 
2ND CHILD  We could see Edward hunting for us all over the garden.
FANNY  We could see him crawling about in the shrubbery ... on his tummy.
2ND CHILD  And in the vegetable garden.
FATHER  You saw him eating the raspberries, too, I'll be bound.

EDWARD  Oh, no, father, really I never....
FATHER  All right ... all right ... don't you know what a joke is?
FANNY  You should have seen him mooning about with the sun glittering on his 
MOTHER  Poor Edward--I think it was a great shame of you all to stay hidden 
... when I found him he was quite frightened and miserable ... he was standing 
by the big rhododendron, crying.
FANNY  Cry-baby.
MOTHER  I think it was very plucky of Edward not to give up. 

FATHER  Plucky ... I think it was just obstinate.
FANNY  Just like Edward.... Just like you.
MOTHER  Fanny, don't ... don't pinch him.
2ND CHILD  Anyone else would have found us.
FANNY  Why didn't you find us?
2ND CHILD  I don't believe he was trying. 

EDWARD  Oh, I was! ... I was doing my best.
FANNY  There you are ... doing his best, if you please ... that's what Edward 
always says ... smug little beast.

MOTHER  Fanny, I simply will not have you pinching him ... you were quite 
right, Edward. Always do your best--you'll never go far wrong if you do that. 
Always do your best, for no man living can do better.

BOY  Here, young Goggles, just you give up my bunji.


BOY  Give it up.

BOY  It's not yours, it's mine.
EDWARD  It's n-not. It's mine.
BOY  Whew, what a bung! ... I bought it.
EDWARD  I kn-know, but you swapped it for my two-penny British Guiana 
BOY  Oo, you liar.

EDWARD  I'm not.

BOY  You are, you're a dirty liar.... I say, you chaps, here's young Goggles 
trying to steal my bunji ... steal it.
VOICES  Oo, I say.... Good Lor ... etc.
EDWARD  It's mine. He swapped it in exchange for ...
BOY  Li-ar!!!
2ND BOY  Make him give it up.
BOY  Dirty little swine.
EDWARD  It's mine ... it's my bunji now.
BOY  Are you going to give it up?

BOY  Right.... Now, are you going to give it up?
EDWARD  Ow ... you're hurting my arm.
2ND BOY  Go on ... twist it, Saunders.
EDWARD  Ow ... oo... .
BOY  Give it up.

2ND BOY  Swine ... give him gyp, Saunders.... I'll take his other arm.
EDWARD  Oo ... look out you chaps--you're ... Ow....
BOY  Give it up.

EDWARD  No.... Ow ... mind my spectacles.... Oh, don't be a fool, Saunders. 
BOY  Give it up ... Give it up ... Give it up.
EDWARD  (Loudly, through agonised tears) No!!

FANNY  (With a peal of laughter) Edward! It's not ... it can't be true.
FATHER  What, Fanny ... what can't be true?
FANNY  Edward says he means to be ordained!!
[A roar of laughter as if from a crowded dinner table.
FANNY  Can't you imagine him? What price Edward in a dog-collar? Edward'll be 
the sort of clergyman that wears a speckly boater hat. (Laughter) Look ... 
he's blushing.
EDWARD  I'm not.
FANNY  You are ... look at him. Go on, Edward ... blush ... blush. (Laughter) 
Seriously though, isn't it awful? Don't you think it's awful?
MOTHER  What is?
FANNY  Edward being a clergyman.... I mean ... well, look at him ... a 
creature like that. Why on earth do you want to be a clergyman, Edward?
EDWARD  Oh, well, I sort of felt ... well, in a way, I think we ought all 
FANNY  Now he's going to give us a sermon. I suppose you think you're going to 
pluck brands from the burning ... a sort of Holy Snap-Dragon.
MOTHER  Fanny, dear!

FANNY  Well, but mother, isn't it awful.... I mean the boy can't even say the 
creed without a stammer.... Edward dear, I'm sorry, but the idea is just mad 
... quite quite mad. If you take my advice, you'll give it up ... give it up, 
do you hear?

EDWARD  Yes ... I hear.
FANNY  Well, are you going to give it up?
FANNY  Porridge, father?
FATHER  Mm? ... Yes, please ... I see they're really going to move the Pillar; 
they say Sackville Street's getting ...

FANNY  They're always going to move the Pillar.
MOTHER  Here you are, dear, and pass the cream to father.... Edward, pass the 
cream to father.
FANNY  Mother, can I ask Vanessa to stay?
MOTHER  Why, yes, Fanny, of course.
FATHER  Who's this?

FANNY  Vanessa, father.

MOTHER  She's that girl Fanny met at Leopardstown with the Hartigan's.
EDWARD  The girl that played the piano so well?
FANNY  Yes ... fancy Edward remembering that.
EDWARD  You see, it's ... it's rather an unusual name.
MOTHER  Porridge, Edward?
FATHER  Pass the toast, Edward.
EDWARD  Oh ... sorry, father.
MOTHER  What's she like, Fanny?
FANNY  Vanessa? ... oh, she's lovely ... very tall ... oh, but very tall ... 
she rather reminds one of a swan.

FATHER  Is she fair?
FANNY  No, dark ... black eyes and long smooth black hair like a Spaniard.

FATHER  Oh, then she must be a black swan. 


FANNY  Bacon, father? 

FATHER  Thanks.

FANNY  Edward?

FANNY  Do you want bacon?
FANNY  Look at him ... mooning again.... Don't gleam at me through those 
spectacles and for goodness' sake finish up your porridge.
MOTHER  I say. 

FANNY  What? 

MOTHER  An idea.
FANNY  Well? Father, put away the paper and listen.
FATHER  Well? 
MOTHER  Let's give a dance!

FANNY  (Delighted) Oh.

MOTHER  Yes ... we'll give a dance ... the very thing. 

FANNY  Splendid, what fun.
MOTHER  We'll pull the carpet up in the drawing-room and polish the ...
FATHER  But my dear child you can't possibly....
MOTHER  Yes I can.
FANNY  Now, father, don't be awful.
FATHER  Oh, well, I suppose if you really want to....
MOTHER  Of course we want to; don't we, Fanny?
FANNY  Of course.
MOTHER  Don't we, Edward?
EDWARD  Y-yes.

FANNY  Pooh! Edward can't dance. My dear, if we polish the floor Edward will 
simply roll about like a porpoise in the sea.
MOTHER  Fanny!

FANNY  (Sings) "There is that Leviathan whom Thou hast made to take his 
pastime therein."
MOTHER  It's a splendid idea. I can't think why I never thought of it before.
FATHER  Thank God you never did.
MOTHER  But, my dear, it'll be simply perfect. We'll wipe everybody off ... 
FATHER  You mean?
MOTHER  All the bores ... all the people that need to be invited.
FANNY  But, ma, there'll be such a crush that we'll never...
MOTHER  Child dear, that's the whole point, there'll be such a crush that the 
bores'll never be noticed; they'll tread one another under foot. We'll ask the 
FATHER  To a dance? He'll never come.
MOTHER  He will of course ... and skip like a two-year-old.
EDWARD  B-but he weighs eighteen stone.
FANNY  We'll ask the Uniackes.

MOTHER  And the Fosters.
FANNY  And those awful people from Annagh-ma-Kerrig.
MOTHER  And Mrs. Dolan.

FANNY  Oh no, you can't have Mrs. Dolan.
MOTHER  Why not?
FANNY  Well, she's so common.
MOTHER  No matter, she was always very kind about the Sale of Work; and she's 
always asking us over to play Bridge. 

FATHER  What are you going to do about the music?

MOTHER  I don't know ... the gramophone's never been quite the same since 
Edward ...

FANNY  Anyway, the gramophone wouldn't be loud enough. We'll take it in turns 
to play the piano, Vanessa and me and Willy Richardson.                        
MOTHER  We'll need to get it tuned then ... it's damp. Edward, you'll need to 
ride over on your bi... Edward.

FANNY  Edward! ... Look at him ... mooning again. What are you thinking about 
EDWARD  N-nothing.

FANNY  Oh yes you were, you were smiling ... what was it?
EDWARD  Nothing.

FANNY  Come on ... out with it.

EDWARD  Well, I was thinking of that day at the Hartigans when ... when 
Vanessa played Scriabin....
FANNY  Scriabin ... fancy you remembering that.

MOTHER  Well finish up your porridge, Edward, it'll be as cold as charity.

FATHER  Edward ... will you pass that toast!


MOTHER  There she is.... I hear wheels on the gravel. .. Fanny, you go out and 
meet her.
FANNY  Right, ma.... Edward, pull your socks up. (Calls) Father, here's 
MOTHER  Oh, listen to her ... your father's in the study working and now that 
girl will have wakened him up. Edward, I think you should do something about 
those socks, dear, and ring the bell for tea, they're wrinkled right down 
over your ... that's better, and tuck in the little tab, it's sticking out at 
the back of ... no the other boot ... now ring the bell and then we can ... 
Ah, my dear, delighted to see you....
FANNY  Mother, this is Vanessa.

MOTHER  Delighted to see you ... did you have a very tiresome journey? I am 
sure you did.
FANNY  They were ten minutes late at Mullingar.
MOTHER  And missed the connection ... but, no you wouldn't be here.

FANNY  Aren't we going to have tea?
MOTHER  We are--it'll be in any minute.
FANNY  Good.

MOTHER  You must be dying for your tea, just ... Edward, ring the bell again 
... oh ..  by the way, this is Edward.
[A moment's pause. The dialogue up to this has been very loud and rapid.
VANESSA  (Quietly) How do you do.

EDWARD  (In the same tone) How do you d-do.

FANNY  (Speed again) Edward's at Trinity.

MOTHER  La-da-da-daa our Young Collegian ... now, Edward, say something 
learned ... say something in Latin. (Rattle of cups.) Ah, here's tea at last. 
Shall I call father?
MOTHER  Do, my dear. Thank you, Bridie, put the scones in the fender. Now, 
Vanessa.... I may call you Vanessa?

MOTHER  How do you like your tea?
VANESSA  Any way at all.

FANNY  (Far-off) Father ... father ... tea's ready and Vanessa's arrived. 

MOTHER  Milk, my dear? 
VANESSA  Please.
MOTHER  Edward, hand the sugar to Vanessa.
FANNY  (Laughing) Just look at those two standing together ... the long and 
the short of it.... Edward, you look like a Skye terrier talking to a Borzoi 
... you ought to balance the sugar on your nose.

MOTHER  Fanny! ... Vanessa, my dear, don't listen to her.
EDWARD  W-Will you take s-s-sugar?
[Dance music on the piano ... buzz of subdued talk ... slish slish of dancing 
MRS. DOLAN  Why Mr. Edward, are you not dancing?
EDWARD  Oh, it's you Mrs. Dolan ... you made me jump.
MRS. DOLAN  Up in cloudland, eh? ... but are you not dancing?
EDWARD  N-not just now.
MRS. DOLAN  Silly boy ... silly fella ... why when I was your age I danced the 
soles off of my shoes every blessed time I got the chance.
EDWARD  Did you?

MRS. DOLAN  Did I indeed ... amn't I tellin' you ... I don't know what's the 
matter with you young fellows from college ... too clever to dance I suppose. 
... I'll tell you what it is, we don't do this sort of thing half often enough 
down here.... Ach, the room's just a picture, so it is, with the lighted 
candles and the whirlin' couples ... all the handsome men and the lovely 
lovely girls ... and candlelight so becomin' too ... just sets them all off 
lovely.... I was saying, Mr. Edward....
EDWARD  Eh? ... I beg your pardon.
MRS. DOLAN  The candlelight ... I was saying it sets them all off lovely ... 
so ... so soft like.
EDWARD  Yes it is nice isn't it ... father said it would be too d-dark but 
mother insisted on having c-c-c-candles.

MRS. DOLAN  Quite right, Mr. Edward, quite right ... sure she's wonderful 
taste your mother. I'll never forget the way she done the Cake and Candy at 
the ... why if that isn't Lady Killevan dancing with the Archdeacon ... oh 
he's too stout ... that's a lovely girl you have staying with you, Mr. Edward 
... just lovely ... the poor Archdeacon looks warm ... and how well she hits 
out the time ... grand just ... you can see the whole piano tremblin' ... Oh! 
There! ... I knew that would happen. He should never have been dancin' and him 
in his gaiters ... a lovely, lovely girl, Mr. Edward--just a picture sittin' 
there at the piano and the candlelight so becoming and her in that black 
velvet ... nothing I say like black velvet for showing off a white shoulder 
... ah-ha, Mr. Edward ... Ah-ha-ha ... no wonder "we're" not dancing.... I 
see what it is.... I can see ... oh-ho-ho, Mr. Edward, so that's the way the 
wind is blowing ... ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha....
[Her laughter fades into the Waves.
EDWARD  This is what we used to call the Robber's Island ... we used to come 
here a lot when we were small--Fanny and I--shall we land?
VANESSA  No, let's stay in the boat ... it's so lovely on the lake.... I love 
it when the lake gets still and glassy.
EDWARD  Shall we row round to the other side of the little Island, then we can 
see the sunset?
VANESSA  Yes ... let's.
[A moment's silence ... the creak of oars is heard and the light trickle of 
water broken by the bow of their boat.

VANESSA  Oh, Edward, what a heavenly wonderful sunset ... look, look at the 
EDWARD  Look at the reflection in the water.
VANESSA  Don't row any more ... let her just drift. 

[Silence again for a second.
EDWARD  It's as still as g-glass ... as if the water were asleep.

VANESSA  Look at the trees and sunset in the water ... the reflections are as 
clear as the real trees.
EDWARD  They often are ... and even clearer sometimes ... if you know what I 
VANESSA  Yes. I believe I do.
EDWARD  Do you Vanessa?
VANESSA  Rooks flying home to bed ... look down; they're reflected too ... 
there's one trailing home behind the others ... late.
EDWARD  That's m-me.
VANESSA  Oh, Edward, why?
EDWARD  (Not sentimental this ... humorously) Oh it's just something Fanny 
said ... we were looking at the rooks once and there was one trailing behind 
the others and Fanny said it was like me....

VANESSA  What nonsense.
EDWARD  Oh I don't know. I think it's probably true really ... in a way. And 
now if ever one looks at the rooks flying home there's nearly always an Edward 
one labouring along behind all the rest.
VANESSA  The Edward rook seems tired to-night ... it's flying so slowly.
EDWARD  Is it?
VANESSA  I'm sure it isn't always the last ... very often it's at the head of 
all ... the last shall be first, you know.
EDWARD  So they say.

VANESSA  Don't you believe it?
EDWARD  I don't think I know what it means
VANESSA  Oh, Edward, surely....
EDWARD  Oh, I know what people say it means.
VANESSA  I thought you were going to be a clergyman.
EDWARD  That doesn't mean I understand what everything means in the Bible.
VANESSA  No ... I suppose it doesn't ... though some clergymen ... no, I 
suppose it's as well to admit frankly that one is groping.
EDWARD  Yes ... groping ... searching. And the more one searches, the more 
difficult the truth is to find.
VANESSA  Like Hide and Seek, the meaning of things seems to call cuckoo from 
behind the trees.
EDWARD  And when we run to catch it we find that what we thought were 
trees ...
VANESSA  Are just reflections ...  

EDWARD  And the meaning of things is as far away as ever.


VANESSA  Look, Edward, the first star ... funny to think of it racing and 
spinning through space....
EDWARD  Yes. And funny to think of us sitting here in this absurd little boat.

VANESSA  Yes ... one certainly feels more important indoors ... but I'd rather 
be out here.
EDWARD  Would you?


EDWARD  Vanessa.


EDWARD  I want ... you're shivering ... you're cold.
VANESSA  No, I'm not.

EDWARD  But, of course, you must be ... what a fool I am ... I never noticed, 
here's my coat.
VANESSA  But you want it yourself.
EDWARD  No, no, no, I don't ... here.... I'll wrap it ... round you ... so.
VANESSA  (Gently) Edward ... Edward, don't ... Take your arms away.

EDWARD  Vanessa.

VANESSA  Please let me go.

EDWARD  I love you.

VANESSA  But Edward ...

EDWARD  You know I love you.... Vanessa, I can think of nothing but you. That 
night at the dance, when you were playing for them ... as you sat there at the 
piano in the candlelight....
VANESSA  Edward ... don't ... don't.
EDWARD  I think of you all the time. When you're not there, I count the 
seconds till I see you ... at nights I lie awake, and you seem to be there. 
... I speak and you seem to answer ... sometimes we seem to have ... Oh, I 
know this is silly ... but we seem to have quite conversations ... and 
sometimes sort of adventures. Last night I dreamed that we were together on 
the sea ... only it wasn't a dream exactly ... I was awake ... we seemed to 
float over the sea, and there was singing ... many,  many voices ... singing 
for us.... Vanessa, look at me ... look at me ... look in my eyes ... can't 
you love me ... can't you care for me ... a little?
VANESSA  I do care for you ... I like you very very much ... but I don't love 

EDWARD  (After a silence) No ... no, why should you? I don't know how I could 
ever... it was ... well ... awful cheek.

VANESSA  Oh, Edward, no ... you mustn't think ... dear Edward, I'd hate you to 
EDWARD  When you look at me, I can see a tiny reflection of the star in your 
eye ... just in the pupil. (Then with great emotion.) Vanessa, you won't ... 
you aren't laughing at me ... you don't think because I'm so squat and ugly 
and short-sighted and absurd ... you know I'm not half-witted, really ... not 
all the time.
VANESSA  You know I don't think that ... you know I don't ... oh, Edward, I'm 
so sorry this has happened ... so very, very sorry. I'd no idea you felt like 
... that you were going to ... Oh, let's go home now, quickly ... here, take 
the oars and row fast, as fast as you can ... take the oars, Edward--row, 
leave the island and forget it ... forget all this. You must forget me, Edward 
... it won't be very hard ... we're both so young.
EDWARD  Yes. We're both young.
VANESSA  That should make it easier to forget.
EDWARD  (Passionately) Forget ... I don't want to forget ... how can you think 
it? (Then more quietly, but with intensity) I may not be very bright.... I 
know I'm not at all clever or amusing ... but I can hold on to an idea once 
I've got it.... I can hold on to a thing, and no power on earth can make me 
give it up.

VANESSA  The idea ... of ... love for me?
EDWARD  Yes. Love for you.
VANESSA  Give it up, Edward ... oh, Edward, give it up.
EDWARD  (His challenge to the universe) No!

FANNY  Come and look at Edward, everybody ... he's wearing his dog-collar.

[A general peal of derisive laughter.
Oh, Edward, you do look ... don't you think he looks like the Private 
Secretary? Edward, where are your goloshes and your bath bun? 

[Screams of laughter fading into Waves.
FATHER  Come in, my boy, shut the door ... sit down, sit down ... mind where 
you sit, boy.

FATHER  Upon my soul, Edward, you might look what you're doing.

EDWARD  I'm sorry, father.
FATHER  You've smudged it, too....
EDWARD  What is it, father?
FATHER  What is it? What is it? It's my meteorological chart ... haven't you 
any eyes in your head?
EDWARD  I didn't expect to find it in an armchair, father.
FATHER  Oh, well ... ah-hum.... I was just writing it up and ... it was ... 
it wasn't ... er ... but, sit down, sit down, sit down. I want to talk to ye. 
Have a cigar.

EDWARD  No, thank you, father.
FATHER  Eh? Oh, very well. Have a cigarette.
EDWARD  No, thanks.

FATHER  What? Ain't you smoking?
EDWARD  Er ... no ... you see, father, it's ... er ... Lent.
FATHER  (Expressively) Hm! ... Well, so you're off to Belfast.

EDWARD  Yes, father.
FATHER  When do you go?

EDWARD  Wednesday ... I have to go by the early train.
FATHER  But ... that'll mean starting in the dark.
EDWARD  I know. But, otherwise it means stopping a night on the way.

FATHER  You've made arrangements where to stay ... in Belfast I mean?

EDWARD  Well, no ... at least, yes, in a way. My vicar's going to put me up 
till I get settled into digs.
FATHER  I see. Hm.
EDWARD  I believe there are plenty of good digs.
FATHER  Well ... er ... see here, my boy.... I know a curate's screw isn't ... 
well ... well, I mean it isn't easy to make ends meet, and your mother and I 
would like to feel you weren't .... I mean, some of these fellows have perhaps 
been accustomed to manage on less than you....
EDWARD  Oh, but father, I ....
FATHER  Will you let me finish, boy.... What I mean is ... well ... where was 
I? ... oh, yes ... what I mean is, your mother and I ... that is I ... oh, 
damn it all, here's a cheque to supplement your pay, and there'll be another 
at Christmas. Here!
EDWARD  Oh, father, it's most awfully g-g-g-good of you it is, really ... most 
awfully ... but I ... well, I'd rather n-not t-take it.
FATHER  What? Eh? Eh? What's that?
EDWARD  No, father, I'd rather not take it ... really I'd rather manage on 
what I earn.

FATHER  Pooh! Nonsense, boy, nonsense, take it and don't be a damned fool.
EDWARD  No, father, it's awfully good of you, and I'd love to take it, but--
FATHER  Well, take it, then ... take it, and don't make such a fuss about it.
EDWARD  No. I can't, father. Thanks, very much. I can't really.

FATHER  But, why on earth not?
EDWARD  Well, I don't want to be different from the other men that are in the 
Church.... I mean, most of them aren't ... well, their people can't afford 

FATHER  Damme, I know that as well as you ... but, it's quite different for 
them ... they're used to doing without things that you ...

EDWARD  Yes, father, but that's just what I don't like.... I want to be on an 
absolutely equal footing with the others.

FATHER  Hm.... Socialism.
EDWARD  Yes, if you l-like to c-call it so.
FATHER  In other words, you want to abrogate the status of your family.

EDWARD  No, father, it's got nothing to do with family.
FATHER  But it has....

EDWARD  It hasn't ... it's simply a question of m-money.
FATHER  No it isn't ... it's a question of the Fitness of Things. But there it 
is ... there it is ... it's always been the same with you. You're not like one 
of the family at all. 

EDWARD  I'm afraid I'm n-n-not.
FATHER  Now if you'd wanted to go into the army or into the navy even ... but 
the Church! However, it's your life, my boy, not mine, thank God ... you must 
just do whatever you think best. (Now very kindly and charmingly) But I wish 
you'd take the cheque.

EDWARD  N-no, father ... but ... thank you.
FATHER  (Blustering because his feelings have been touched) All right, all 
right, all right ... no need to thank me for what you haven't got.
EDWARD  No, father, I'm very sorry....
FATHER  Oh, don't be sorry, my boy, I'm not sorry ... not at all ... I'm very 
glad ... I can find plenty of use for the money ... it'll just put a roof on 
the new lodge at Mullaghmore. But it's late and you've an early start ... 
you'd better be getting to bed.
EDWARD  Yes, father, are you c-coming?
FATHER  Well, I suppose it's about time ... it must be nearly twelve.
EDWARD  I'll light your candle. Did you shut the hall-door?

FATHER  Yes, I shut it when your mother went to bed.
EDWARD  Your candle.

FATHER  Thanks ... glass is falling.
EDWARD  Is it?
FATHER  Rain to-morrow ... 'fraid you'll have it wet for starting.... You 
might put out the lamp ... oh, blow, man, blow ... here, I'll do it myself.
EDWARD  Can you see where you're going?
FATHER  Hold your candle straight, boy, you'll spill the grease.... Ow damn 
that chair. (In the dark he has stumbled against it.)
EDWARD  Good-night, father.
FATHER  Good-night.
EDWARD  And father


EDWARD  I do hope you're not offended.
FATHER  Offended? ... ho ... er ... why on earth should I be?
EDWARD  At my not t-taking the cheque.
FATHER  No--no--no--Good Lord, no, not at all ... of course I can't help 
feeling a bit ... well ... sorry that ... but don't lets talk of it again.
EDWARD  No.... I wish ...

EDWARD  I wish I could have been more ... well, you'd like to have seen me in 
the Regiment.
FATHER  Oh well....

EDWARD  I wish I could have been a more satisfactory sort of son ... from your 
point of view.
FATHER  Eh? ... Ach away to Hell, son, and don't be morbid ... and for the 
love of the Lord hold that candle straight.
EDWARD  (Shouting in an echoing church) ... Through all the ad-adventures of 
l-life ... through all its ups and d-d-d-downs, we may trace ... that is ... 
w-what I m-mean is ... well ... our lives are a s-s-s-sort of ... well ... 
p-p-pattern. The b-b-bright days are the ... well ... sort of b-b-b-right 
parts of the p-p-pattern ... er yes the b-b-bright ... well the ... er ... the 
half lights as it were (The coughs and snuffles of the congregation are dimly 
heard: now and then a yawn.) ... in a way ... and the d-d-d-ark d-d-days are 
the d-d-d-ark p-parts of the ... er ... well our sorrows and t-troubles and 
dis-dis-dis-disappointments and ... well. 

And if at times the p-pattern of our ... well ... our lives seems to have 
become dis-dis-dis-disordered why we must just p-put our t-trust in the Great 
Designer ... he knows b-b-best. In His unfailing W-w-wisdom as I say in his 
unfailing W-w-w--- In his unfailing ...W-w-w--

[Fade out into waves.

[A knock at a door.
EDWARD  Is this 122 Bohemia Street?
SADIE  It is.

EDWARD  Does Mrs. MacAleenan live here?
SADIE  She does.

EDWARD  Are you ... is she your mother?
SADIE  She is.
EDWARD  Can I speak to her for a minute?
SADIE  I couldn't tell ... she's out at the back ... wait till I see ... 
(calling afar) Maw ... Maw ... there's a wee falla wantin' till speak till ye. 
... she says she's busy and if it's the insurance you're after it's my da 
ye'll need til ...
EDWARD  It's n-not the insurance ... will you go and ask again ... say I must 
see her ... tell her it's Mr. M-m-m-m.
SADIE  Which?

EDWARD  Mr. M-m-m-m-m-m ... the n-new curate.
SADIE  I'll tell her ... Maw ... Maw, it's the wee curate from St. James' with 
the awfullest stutter ever ye heard....
MRS. MACALEENAN  (Approaching) Away you Sadie round to the back and get them 
things off of the line the way they'll not get spotted in the wet. (Shout) 
Min' yerself now ... if I catch you skylarkin' about with Maggie Quinn I'll 
skelp ye ... come on in, sir... don't be standin' there in the wet ... and the 
water drippen' down off of the spoutin' intil your hat, look-at.

EDWARD  Is it? I didn't notice.
MRS. MACALEENAN  It's very good of you til call ... come intil the wee room 
here. Wait now till I dust the chair ... there! We're all through-other. The 
morning's a busy time.

EDWARD  I know. I wouldn't have called only ...
MRS. MACALEENAN  Sure you're very welcome ... very very welcome ... will I 
make a cup of tea?
EDWARD  No ... Oh no thanks, really.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Terrible wet weather ... terrible. Hugh was only saying this 
morning it's more like ...
EDWARD  That's your husband.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Aye... him.

EDWARD  He drives one of Macklin's bread vans?
MRS. MACALEENAN  He does ... he's been with them since the war.
EDWARD  Has he?

MRS. MACALEENAN  He was in the army and got a job with Macklin's Ones after 
... he's been with them ever since ... you see he'd been driving a lorry in 
the war ... all through the war he was and never a scratch.

EDWARD  Driving a lorry.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Aye he was always fond of moty-cyars.

MRS. MACALEENAN  Ye'll be fond of moty-cyars yourself, sir?
EDWARD  I ... Oh, not specially, I ...
MRS. MACALEENAN  Just excuse me a minute.... I've a pie in the oven ... I 
want to see is it done yet ... I'm expectin' Hugh in for his dinner at three 
the day. He's on the Clones delivery, that's seventy mile and more. He'll be 
in at three ... excuse me till I look is it brown. Ach, there's that Young One 
away down the street with Big Maggie Quinn, the wee rapscallion ... just wait 
till I get my hand on her. It's browning rightly ... it'll just be ready by 
EDWARD  Mrs. MacAleenan.
MRS. MACALEENAN  (Arrested by his tone) Aye?
EDWARD  Hugh won't be in by three.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Is it ... ?

EDWARD  I ... I've got bad news for you, I'm afraid.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Bad news ... not ... not Hugh?

MRS. MACALEENAN  Is he... quick, tell me quick, is he killed?
EDWARD  He's ... yes ... I'd meant to break it gently, but he is ... yes. He's 


MRS. MACALEENAN  (Quietly) Shut the window and keep out the sound of that 
rain, I can't bear it.... Mind my wee cactus plant.... Hugh killed.... 
Where ... where did it...
EDWARD  Near Moira. The road was greasy ... there was a skid they think ... no 
one happened to be passing at the time ... but the lorry had crashed into a 
wall.... I came that way just after.... I was on the way to Portadown.
MRS. MACALEENAN  And was Hugh ...
EDWARD  When I got there he was dead.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Had he ... was there ...
EDWARD  He can have suffered nothing ... a doctor came soon after I got there 
and he says from the way he was ... he says he can have suffered nothing ... 
just quite instantaneous.
MRS. MACALEENAN  They'll be bringing him here?
EDWARD  Not ... not now. There's to be an inquest.

EDWARD  I came straight back to tell you ... I th-thought perhaps you'd rather 
hear it ... I wanted to do what I could.

SADIE  Ma.... the fruit man's down the foot of Philip Road with his basket, 
bananas is cheap the day ... will I buy one for my Da? ... will I ma ... ma 
... will I?
MRS. MACALEENAN  Ye'll get pennies in the cup on the dresser ... aye ye may 
buy one.

SADIE  (Shyly) Ma ... can I buy one for myself as well?
SADIE  (Shouting gleefully) Maggie ... I'm to get one ... My ma says I can get 
one. I'll be out when I've got the penny. Tell wee Susie to ...
MRS. MACALEENAN  Time enough for her to know when I tell her meself... ach the 
poor chile ... she was that fond of her Da.
[She cries. Her sobs mingle with the waves and the moaning wind.
RECTOR  Oh, by the way, before I forget....
EDWARD  Y-yes, sir?

RECTOR  Pious Peter wants me to preach down at his place on the 25th.

EDWARD  In the morning?

RECTOR  Yes ... I rather thought of going.
EDWARD  Yes, sir, and is Pious ... I m-mean is Mr. Peterson coming here?
RECTOR  Well, no ... I ... er ... that is, I thought you could look after 
things here.
EDWARD  Very well, sir.
RECTOR  That be all right?
EDWARD  R-rather ... do you want me to preach?
RECTOR  Well ... er ... yes ... that is ... yes. That's really what I wanted 
to see you about ... I er ... wanted to give you a word ... I mean, I quite 
appreciate the conscientious way your sermons are prepared ... that's 
excellent ... very good, indeed ... but ... well, human nature's weak, you 
know ... we can get too much even of a good thing ... I think, perhaps, you're 
a wee bit inclined.... I mean last time you were a bit on the long side.
EDWARD  Yes sir, my watch stopped.
RECTOR  Was that it?
EDWARD  Y-yes ... you see, I'd meant to go on for twenty minutes, but, 
unfortunately, my watch stopped and I was wearing my short-sight glasses, and 
I hardly liked to stop and put on my long-sight glasses to look at the clock 
at the other end of the church.
RECTOR  No ... quite so.
EDWARD  So, I didn't realise till....
RECTOR  I know, till they began to get restless.
EDWARD  N-no, it wasn't that, they'd been a bit restless all the time. I don't 
know why. No, I stopped because Dunwoody came up into the pulpit and whispered 
that it was a quarter to two.

MRS. DOLAN  Well, Mr. Edward, this is delightful--delightful--delightful just 
... such a surprise, too ... are you here for long?
EDWARD  Oh, n-n-no, Mrs. Dolan.... I'm j-just down from Belfast for a f-
fortnight's holiday.
MRS. DOLAN  Well, now! Fancy that! Isn't that nice now ... isn't that nice, 
Miss Fan?
FANNY  Very nice. Your call, Mrs. Dolan. Edward, I can see your cards.
MRS. DOLAN  My call? Why, yes, so it is ... now, we mustn't any of us talk--
must we? I always say talking at Bridge, I say, is worse than ... did you say 
it was my call?

FATHER  Yes, Mrs. Dolan. Yes.
MRS. DOLAN  So it is, though, so it is. One Heart.... Now, talking of hearts, 
Mr. Edward, do you know what I read in the paper ... oh, but we mustn't talk, 
must we ... hearts, now ... let me see....
FANNY  Edward, I can see your cards.
EDWARD  Sorry.

MRS. DOLAN  Now, let me see ... do you know, I think I won't go one heart, no, 
I'll go one ... no, I won't, that is if diamonds are ... oh, but I mustn't say 
that must I ... no, do you know, I think, after all ... I think I'll ... yes 
... I'll say ... no bid.
FANNY  Father?
FATHER  One spade.
FANNY  Edward?
MRS. DOLAN  Come along now, Mr. Edward ... what do you say? Don't be nervous. 
I don't mind if we go down.
EDWARD  No bid.
MRS. DOLAN  No bid? Sure, that's very timid now ... faint heart never won fair 
lady, remember.
FANNY  Edward always holds rotten hands.
MRS. DOLAN  Ah, well, you know the saying ... unlucky at cards, lucky in ...

FANNY  (Loudly and rudely) One no trump.
MRS. DOLAN  Dear me now, this'll never do ... will it, Mr. Edward?

MRS. DOLAN  No, indeed it won't ... indeed, it won't ... oh, I remember now 
what it was I read in the paper.
FANNY  Yes, but, Mrs. Dolan, are you going to bid?
MRS. DOLAN  I am ... I am, indeed, but wait now till you hear ... it's about 
that girl ... I forget her name, the one you had staying with you that time at 
the dance....

FANNY  Vanessa? 

EDWARD  V-vanessa?

MRS. DOLAN  The very one ... the very same one ... funny now that I should 
forget a name ... me, that's usually so....
FATHER  Come, come, come now, Mrs. Dolan, we're playing Bridge, you know.
FANNY  Yes, father, but it's about Vanessa, you know. We must hear what it is 
... in the paper, did you say, Mrs. Dolan?

MRS. DOLAN  In the Independent ... you didn't see it?
EDWARD  (In a fever) Wh-what is it?
MRS. DOLAN  She's married.
FANNY  Married. I didn't even know she was engaged.

MRS. DOLAN  Well, she's married ... there, now! Two hearts, I'll say on the 
strength of it.... Two Hearts, colonel.

FATHER  Two spades.

FANNY  But, Mrs. Dolan, you must tell us more ... who did she marry? How odd 
of her never to write.
FATHER  Oh, come off it, Fanny ... let's get on with the game.

FANNY  No, we must hear ... who's the man, Mrs. Dolan?

MRS. DOLAN  Vincent, I think, was the name or Castleton ... or was it 
Henderson? Some name like that, anyway .. . he comes from Birmingham.
FANNY  Birmingham.
MRS. DOLAN  Now, that's a nice lifey place. I had a cousin married on a man 
whose good-brother had a business in Birmingham ... he had a club-foot, I mind 
... and he said it was a nice, lifey place ... plenty going on there ... but, 
dear me, dear me, dear me, this is not Bridge, is it, Colonel? No, no, no, now 
let me see ... you bid a ... no, it was two of something.
FATHER  Two spades.
MRS. DOLAN  Ach, to be sure ... now then, Mr. Edward ... why ... look at him.
FANNY  Edward.
FATHER  Steady, old man.
FANNY  He's going to faint ... water, father, get some water.
FATHER  Right.
FANNY  (Calling) And some brandy.
MRS. DOLAN  The poor boy, it's something he must have eaten.
FANNY  Loosen his collar, quick.
MRS. DOLAN  Something he must have eaten.
FANNY  Loosen his collar, quick.
MRS. DOLAN  Something he must have eaten.
FANNY  Loosen his collar, quick.
MRS. DOLAN  Something he must, Vanessa.
FANNY  Loosen his Birmingham quick.
MRS. DOLAN  Birmingham married Vanessa.
FANNY  Loosen his Birmingham quick.
MRS. DOLAN  Edward can't marry Vanessa.
FANNY  Birmingham, Birmingham, quick.
MRS. DOLAN  Edward can't marry Vanessa. Edward can't marry Vanessa....

[Repeat ad lib., and fade.
FANNY  (Simultaneous with Mrs. Dolan) Birmingham, Birmingham, Birmingham....
[After the two voices have died away, there is silence for a moment, then 
faint and far off, slowly and dully, as in a dream, the following is heard.
NURSE  ...ay, ma'am, and not only that, but it was the best one of them all he 
pulled ... sure, nothing would do him but the very best rose itself ... and 
then when he had it pulled, I toul' him to give it up.
MOTHER  And did he?
NURSE  He did not, he has it still.
MOTHER  Edward, you're a very naughty little boy ... you know quite well that 
the flowers are not for you to pick. Give it up at once.
MOTHER  Give it up at once, I say.

MOTHER  If you don't give it up, Edward, mother will be really angry ... if 
you don't give it up, mother will smack you ... now give it up.


RECTOR  Well, of course, my dear fellow, if you really feel you must ...

EDWARD  Yes, sir, I feel ...
RECTOR  Oh, then of course, I shan't detain you. I needn't say I shall be 
sorry to lose so conscientious a curate.

EDWARD  Thank you, sir.

RECTOR  To the Chinese Mission you said?
EDWARD  Y-yes sir, to the Trinity Mission at Kwen Lung.

RECTOR  It's a long way. (Jocular) You're not afraid of the voyage?

EDWARD  Oh, n-no, sir.

RECTOR  But tell me, this is a very sudden decision surely.... I thought you 
were quite happy here.
EDWARD  Oh, well I was, yes, in a way.
RECTOR  It's nothing I have done, I hope?
EDWARD  Oh, n-n-no....
RECTOR  Or left undone ... ?
EDWARD  No ... no indeed, it's not ... you've always been most kind.
RECTOR  Oh, well ... however, there it is, I suppose you have your own reasons 
for taking such a step.
EDWARD  Yes ... that's it.... I feel I must get away ... right away.... I--
well, I've had rather a sh-sh-shock ... in a way. I think the work there, too, 
will be more s-s-suitable.
RECTOR  (Dryly) Yes. I think perhaps it will.
EDWARD  I know I've not made much of this.
RECTOR  Oh, now I wouldn't just say that. In many ways ... well, in some ways 
... (Brightly) Tell me when do you want to leave?
EDWARD  Whenever you can spare me.
RECTOR  Well, now, as it happens, I've just had word of a young fellow--son of 
a friend of mine in Dublin--an extremely nice young chap ... tall, good-
looking, full of fun and spirits, a thorough sportsman.
EDWARD  Does he wear glasses?
RECTOR  Oh, Dear no.
EDWARD  No, I th-thought not.
RECTOR  No, he's just the type we want, and as luck would have it the 
Archdeacon wrote to me a week or two ago and suggested ...
EDWARD  That he should come here as your ass-ass-assistant?
RECTOR  Yes ... of course, I should never have dreamed of having him as long 
as you ...
EDWARD  (With force) Did you write that to the Archdeacon?
RECTOR  Well ... er ... hardly in so many words.
EDWARD  Then you needn't bother telling it to me. I'm ready to go at once.
RECTOR  Oh, come now, you mustn't take me up wrong ... of course, I should 
never dream of getting this fellow if you were still going to be here ... it's 
only that I thought you wanted to ... er ... well ... to give this up.
EDWARD  (Slowly) Give it up.
RECTOR  Yes ... come my dear chap, pull yourself together ... surely it's 
quite a simple question ... do you, or do you not, want this curacy?

RECTOR  You want to give it up?

VANESSA  It was nice of you to come, Edward.
EDWARD  I wanted to say Good-bye.
VANESSA  Well, I think it was awfully, awfully nice of you ... to come all the 
way to Birmingham just for that.
EDWARD  Oh, n-no.
[A constrained pause.
VANESSA  Well ... well, anyway, I'm glad you've seen the house.
VANESSA  It is rather sweet, isn't it?
EDWARD  Oh, yes.
VANESSA  I'm so fond of it ... I wish you could have met Laurence. I know 
you'd like him.
EDWARD  Yes.... I'm ... I'm sure I should.
VANESSA  He is a dear ... oh, Edward--you won't mind this--I'd like you to 
know.... Edward, I'm so wonderfully happy.
EDWARD  (Fervently) I'm very glad.
VANESSA  I knew you would be. .. . Dear Edward.
EDWARD  Dear Vanessa.... I must go.
VANESSA  Must you? Sure you can't stay for dinner?
EDWARD  S-sure, thanks.
VANESSA  But you'll have something ... have a whiskey and ... oh, no you don't 
drink ... have some lemonade.
EDWARD  N-no, nothing thanks.
VANESSA  I'm so vexed you can't wait and see Laurence ... he'll be out from 
town by seven.
EDWARD  No ... I c-can't wait ... my train....
VANESSA  No ... you mustn't miss the train ... well ... good-bye, and have a 
good time in India.
EDWARD  It's Ch-ch-china.
VANESSA  Why, of course it is ... you told me. Well, don't go and get eaten by 
the natives or anything.... (Laughing) You know Edward, it would be just like 
you to go and get drowned on the way. 

[They both laugh.
(Seriously) Edward, it was nice of you to come ... I ... appreciate it really.
EDWARD  Good-bye.
VANESSA  Good-bye.... I'll come to the door ... no umbrella? No, that's 
Laurence's, yours is the black hat ... you'll write to say you've arrived?
EDWARD  No ... n-no, I'd rather not.
VANESSA  Would you like me to write?
VANESSA  Then this really is ... Good-bye?
VANESSA  Take care ... mind the step ... oh, Edward dear... good-bye.

[The door is heard to shut--firmly--finally. Then once more--the waves.
FANNY  Good-bye, Edward.... don't get lost in China--you must come back safe 
EDWARD  Good-bye, Dad.
FATHER  Good-bye, my boy--take care of yourself.
EDWARD  R-rather.... Good-bye, Mum.
MOTHER  Good-bye, my darling ... you'll write often ... often.

[A train is heard starting.
MOTHER  (Calling forlornly through the noise of the train.) Good-bye.

[The train gathers speed.
EDWARD  (Rhythm, no emotion.) Edward ... Vanessa ... Edward ... Vanessa.  
Edward to China to China to China ....
MOTHER  (Echo exactly, of her previous tone.) Good-bye.
EDWARD  Edward Vanessa Vanessa Vanessa Birmingham Birmingham Birmingham....
VOICE  Any more for the shore? 

[Syren of a steamer. The train has faded away and the waves are heard now more 
dominant than ever before.
EDWARD  I wonder what time it is? ... time ... where am I? .. no ground 
beneath my feet ... no sky ... then ... ah, yes, they say it floats before one 
... floats ... the past ... the past, the present and the ... sudden death ... 
from battle, murder and sudden.... Litany ... must say the litany.... 
Dunwoody, I want you to lead the responses in the litany ... a long ... time 
... ago.... I was on board ... someone said good-night ... I went to my 
cabin, at least, I thought it was mine ... perhaps I made a mistake.... I 
suppose if anyone was watching they would see a chain of bubbles--floating, 
bobbing to the surface ... bob, bob, bob, bob, bob, bob, bob, surface ... they 
say one rises to the surface ... three times ... and after that.... I wonder. 
... There go my spectacles ... sinking ... sinking ... I knew I'd shed them 
off at last.... One thing, I'm glad I went down in my dog-collar. 


FANNY  Hide your eyes, Edward ... you're to stand under the cedar, Edward, 
till you hear us call cuckoo.                          

VANESSA  Edward, look, the first star.
EDWARD  Vanessa.
MRS. DOLAN  Ah-ha-ha, Mr. Edward.
VANESSA  I suppose it's as well to admit frankly that one's groping.

EDWARD  Yes, groping ... searching ... and the more one searches the more 
difficult the truth is to find.
VANESSA  Like Hide-and-Seek. The meaning of things seems to call cuckoo from 
behind the trees.
MOTHER  You know quite well that the flowers are not for you to pick.
MRS. DOLAN  In the Independent ... you didn't see it?
EDWARD  Wh-what is it?
MRS. DOLAN  She's married.
MRS. MACALEENAN  Mind my wee cactus.

VOICE  Cuckoo.
FANNY  Don't get lost in China--you must come back safe home.
MOTHER  Good-bye.
VANESSA  Look, Edward, the first star.
EDWARD  Vanessa ... I love you.
VOICE  Cuckoo.
2ND VOICE  Cuckoo. 


VOICE  (Faintly, far-off) Cuckoo.
EDWARD  (Answering) Com-ing. 

[Waves--then silence.