Mr. Sycamore


Biz.--Music full, then down to back.

ANNOUNCER.--The Columbia Workshop presents a dramatization of Robert Ayre's 
unusual short story, "Mr. Sycamore."

Biz.--Music up full ... dissolves into sounds of footsteps in mud during rain 
... the steps fade in slowly, build to a full wet squish, then drop a bit and 
stop ... then a mailman's whistle blows.

Biz.--Music up full, then down into sounds of birds and rustle of trees ... 
then fade in weary creaky footsteps ... mike in full, then on wood steps, then 
door opens ... closes ... music into steps.

OIKLE.--Well--Gwilt! A little late on your rounds today! 

GWILT.--Yes, Mr. Oikle.

OIKLE.--Five minutes late, Mr. Gwilt. 

GWILT.--Five minutes, Mr. Oikle.

OIKLE.--Humph! Seems to me after twenty years' practice in walking your route 
you'd know it!   

GWILT.--Twenty years, Mr. Oikle?

OIKLE.--Yes. By the way, a collection was taken up by some of the people on 
your route--they bought this for you and asked me to present it--today's your 
twentieth anniversary with the service.

GWILT.--Thank you, Mr. Oikle-- (Sounds of package being unwrapped) A fine 
picture-- (Reads) "Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom, nor fear of night stays 
these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." 

OIKLE.--Yes--it says "swift completion." See that you start the second twenty 
off by making your rounds on time tomorrow.

GWILT.--Yes, Mr. Oikle.

Biz.--Music full, then down into sounds of cup being put down in saucer ... 
knives and plates, etc. ... music into plates.

JANE (On cue).--More coffee, dear?  

GWILT.--Yes, Jane, I will have a little more coffee.

JANE.--Pass your cup. 

GWILT.--Here you are. 

Biz.--Pouring. 

JANE.--Tired, dear?

GWILT.--Not more so than usual, Mrs. Gwilt.

JANE.--Did you have a hard day?

GWILT.--An average day--up and down the streets of Smeed. Up and down the 
stairs of Smeed.

JANE (rattle of cup).--Drink this coffee, John. You'll feel better.

GWILT.--Thank you. Mrs. Gwilt, how long would you say I've been plodding the 
streets of Smeed, up and down, rain and shine, day in and day out?

JANE.--Well, offhand, I'd say about eighteen years. 

GWILT.--Twenty years! Twenty years of tramp-tramp-tramping all day long!

JANE.--Well, all postmen have to do that, don't they, John?  

GWILT.--Yes, Jane. All postmen have to do it. But I've had my fill of being a 
postman.

JANE.--What do you mean, John?

GWILT.--I've made up my mind to stand still for the rest of my life.

JANE.--Stand still?

GWILT.--I'm tired of locomotion. Jane, I intend to become a tree.

JANE.--A tree, dear? 

GWILT.--A tree.

JANE (with a sigh).--Very well, John. What's to be will be. 

GWILT.--The house is paid for, there is a little money in the bank, and I have 
kept up the insurance. 

JANE.--Perhaps I could take a few piano pupils. 

GWILT.--That will not be necessary. You will be well provided for.

JANE.--Yes, I suppose so. When do you intend--? When are you going to--?

GWILT.--Make the change?

JANE.--Yes, dear.

GWILT.--Well, there is nothing to be gained by putting it off. Spring has 
come. The time is now. This very minute. (decisively) I think we'd better go 
out to the yard and get started before it's too dark. 

JANE.--You know best, John.

GWILT.--Get that bucket from under the sink. 

JANE.--Yes, dear. (Rattle of bucket) 

GWILT.--Fill it with water from the kitchen tap. 

JANE (off).--Yes, dear. (Water running in bucket) 

GWILT.--Where did I put the spade? Ah, here it is behind the door. Bring the 
bucket, Jane. I have the spade. 

JANE.--Yes, dear.

GWILT.--Come along, Jane. (Footsteps ... door opens ... garden sounds ... 
birds, etc. ... footsteps down wooden steps ... footsteps stop) This clothes 
line will have to come down. 

JANE.--But why, John?

GWILT.--I want plenty of room to spread my branches. 

JANE.--But, John, dear, where am I going to hang-- (Start step) 

GWILT.--You'll have to find another place. Come along. (Footsteps on ... 
rattle of bucket) 

JANE.--I hope you're not going to be a very big tree. The garden is small 
enough. 

GWILT.--Leave that to me.

JANE.--Where do you want to be planted?

GWILT.--Right here. (Footsteps stop ... as they move around) In the center of 
the yard. When I am fully grown, I should just about reach Fred Staines's 
fence. 

JANE.--Fred Staines is coming now. You'd better tell him. 

GWILT.--Never mind Fred Staines. Remember, I won't have you fastening any 
clothes line to my trunk. You'll have to find some other way--

FRED (calling).--What are you putting up this year, Mrs. Gwilt? I'm taking a 
shot at dahlias myself. (Sound of Gwilt digging) 

GWILT (sotto).--Don't answer him. 

JANE.--You'll need to make the hole fairly deep. 

GWILT.--Not too deep. Once I get rooted--

FRED (calling).--What on earth are you digging a hole there for? Are you 
burying something?

GWILT (calling ... without encouragement).--No, we're not burying anything.

FRED (calling).--Well, that's good. I thought maybe your cat Solomon was dead. 

GWILT.--Solomon is not dead.

FRED.--What are you planting then?

GWILT.--I wish he'd go away. 

FRED.--I said, what are you planting?

JANE (after a moment ... simply).--We're planting John. 

FRED.--You're planting what!

JANE.--John is tired of marching up and down Smeed with a mailbag, Fred. He's 
decided to turn himself into a tree. 

FRED.--A what? 

JANE.--A tree.

FRED.--Well, I'll be a dog! (Running off) It certainly is an original idea. 
I'll go and tell the wife. She'll be interested. So long.

JANE.--So long, Fred. (To JOHN) Wait till he starts the tale in his 
barbershop. You'll have everybody in Smeed--

GWILT.--I don't care. There. I think the hole is deep enough. I'll get in.

JANE.--Be careful, John.

GWILT.--There we are. Look, Jane. It comes half way up my shins. My roots will 
strike down deeper of course. Now take off my shoes and socks. 

JANE.--John, you're not going to undress!

GWILT.--Not until I get my bark. I'll just roll my trousers up to my knees. 
That's it. Ah, how good the earth feels to the feet. So cool!

JANE.--What shall I do with the water, dear? 

GWILT.--Wait a minute. First, I'll scrape the soil towards me. Got to get it 
well packed around my feet. (Scrapes soil with spade) There. That will have to 
do. Now pour the water all around me. (Bucket) 

JANE.--Yes, John. (Pours water) 

JOHN.--Ugh! It's cold.

JANE.--John, dear, are you sure you are doing right? 

JOHN.--Yes, of course. Kneel down and pat the earth around my shins.

JANE.--But, John dear, I thought that only God could make--

JOHN (fiercely).--Let's not go into that. And please never quote those 
abominable verses.

JANE.--I hope you're not doing anything sinful, John, that's all.

JOHN.--You leave that to me. Here, take my glasses. I won't need them any 
more. The shoes you may send to the post office. (Chuckles ironically) The 
shoes belong to the post office with my compliments. But I can do what I like 
with my feet, and I'm never going to make them walk again. (Footsteps)

FRED (calling from over the fence).--How does it feel, John?

JOHN (sotto).--Hullo, he's back again.

JANE.--Mrs. Staines, too.

JOHN.--You've no idea how comfortable the cool soil is on the feet, Fred.

MRS. S.--How long do you expect it to take, Mr. Gwilt? 

JOHN.--Oh, I can't tell you to the hour, Mrs. Staines. Not long.

MRS. S.--Won't you get tired standing?

JOHN.--No more tired than I have been walking these twenty years and more. 
When I'm well rooted, I won't be tired. Did you ever hear of a tree getting 
tired? 

FRED.--What I can't understand is how you're going to do it. 

JOHN.--I passed my correspondence course with honors. 

FRED.--Well, if that doesn't beat all. They give courses now in how to turn 
yourself into a tree! 

JOHN.--Don't be a fool, Fred.

JANE.--He means the Will Power course, Fred. How to cultivate the will in 
twenty lessons.

FRED.--Will Power, eh? You're doing it by Will Power? 

MRS. S.--To my way of thinking it seems irreligious. 

JANE.--There, John, I told you--

JOHN.--Hush, Jane. Mrs. Staines, I don't think you'll find anything in your 
Bible against it.

MRS. S.--Well, I'm sure we all wish you well, Mr. Gwilt. Though I won't admit 
I understand it. Come along, Fred. Goodbye, Mrs. Gwilt. 

JANE.--Goodbye, Mrs. Staines. 

FRED.--Good luck, John. 

JOHN.--Thanks, Fred.

JANE.--I'll go in and fetch your hat, John. You haven't much hair and you 
might catch cold.

JOHN.--Never mind that. I'm not going to make myself look ridiculous. You'd 
better get inside, Jane, and do your dishes. Leave me out here to concentrate. 

JANE.--Very well, John. If you need anything, just call. 

GWILT.--I won't need anything, Jane. It's such a balmy evening. Robins 
singing! And that pleasant fragrance from down the lane. Burning leaves. What 
smell is sweeter than--

JANE.--Burning leaves, dear.

GWILT.--Er--yes. Perhaps it's a little indelicate for a future tree to enjoy 
the smell of burning leaves. A little bit--ghoulish.

JANE.--Well, I'm going in, John. (Steps) Just call--

GWILT.--Yes, I know. That robin on the telegraph pole! Lively little fellow! 
But I must concentrate. 

JANE (off ... wistfully).--Goodbye, John. 

GWILT (cheerfully).--Goodbye, Jane. (The robin comes up strong) 

Biz.--Music fades into crickets ... then steps. 

JANE (walk in).--How do you feel, John? You've been out two hours.

GWILT.--I find I'm getting a little fatigued. I'm not used to it, you know. 
You might bring me one of the kitchen chairs.

JANE.--But you'll grow crooked.

GWILT.--Well--er--yes, I suppose that's true. I must get used to standing.

JANE.--Is there any change yet? 

GWILT.--I think my toes are striking root. 

JANE.--It's your rheumatism. I'm afraid you'll catch your death of cold.

GWILT.--Nonsense, Jane. I'll soon become weathered--

FRED (calling).--A bit stiff, eh, John? 

GWILT.--Nothing to speak of.

FRED.--You'll be stiffer before morning. Paper says a drop in temperature.

GWILT.--I expect to be stiffer.

FRED.--What are you going to do in the winter? 

JOHN.--It's a long time till winter, Fred, but I'll do what the other trees 
do. Hibernate. I won't be stoking any furnaces and I won't be plowing through 
snowdrifts in galoshes and overcoat.

FRED.--Well, good night. Don't let the boll weevil get you. (Laughs off) 

JOHN (calling after him).--The boll weevil doesn't attack trees.

JANE.--It may--it may happen before I wake up in the morning. Haven't you 
anything to say, John? 

JOHN.--Nothing except that I'll find rest at last. 

JANE.--John!

JOHN.--No, Jane, you've been a perfect wife. It's just that I want to live in 
my own quiet way. Calm and spacious. Long serene years before me. Delicious 
stirring of my sap in spring, spreading my leaves against the sunlight in 
summer; the first nip of autumn's frost; and winter with its long, deep sleep.

JANE.--Very well, John, but perhaps the change will be harder than you expect.

JOHN.--What John Gwilt has begun, John Gwilt will end.

JANE.--Very well, dear. Good night.

GWILT.--Good night, Jane. (JANE walks back to the kitchen door ... the door is 
closed off ... the crickets come up strong) 

Biz.--Music.... Crickets up ... music goes down behind chorus of birds singing 
and sounds of the daytime music ... into birds.

FRED.--How does it feel after a night of it, John? Pretty chilly, eh?

GWILT (snuffling with a cold).--It might be worse. (He sneezes)  

JANE (running in and calling).--John! John! Oh, John, how are you, dear? 

GWILT.--I'm fine, Jane. Fi-- (He sneezes violently) 

JANE.--Let me feel your forehead. Oh, John, don't you think you'd better put 
this off until the weather gets warmer? It's going to rain and you'll catch 
your death of cold.

GWILT.--No, I won't catch my death of cold! (Sneezes) 

JANE.--All right, John. All right. I suppose you do know. Can you take any 
nourishment? A bowl of cornflakes, perhaps? 

GWILT.--Cornflakes! Who ever heard of a tree eating cornflakes!

JANE.--Well, I have some bacon and eggs on the stove. I can bring them out to 
you.

GWILT.--That's more like it. Bring me the bacon and eggs and quarts and quarts 
of coffee.

JANE.--I'll get it right away, and I'll bring the card table to make it 
comfortable for you. (Runs off) 

GWILT (calling after her).--Hurry up, Jane. No frills now. 

JANE (in the distance).--All right. (Door) 

GWILT (to FRED).--Are you going to lean on the fence and stare at me all day, 
Fred? Aren't you going to your barbershop?

FRED.--Plenty of time. Stay till it starts to rain anyhow. 

GWILT (sotto).--Confound him!

FRED.--Like going into a monastery, isn't it, John? Renouncing the human race.

JOHN.--I don't care what happens to the entire human race, Fred Staines. I 
wash my hands of it.

FRED.--Talking of washing your hands, John, what do you intend to do--

JOHN.--A little dirt won't hurt me. After this I'm part of the earth. (Roll of 
thunder) 

FRED.--Well, I must get along to the barbershop. (Rain drops in the garden) 
S'long, John. (Calling off) I think you'll be getting your wash whether you 
want it or not. It's started to rain.

Biz.--Rain comes up gradually and stays in strong for a moment ... music into 
scissors ... click of barber's scissors.

FRED.--A little bit more off the top, Sam? (Scissors clicking through) Well, 
as I was saying, there he was stuck in his back yard like a scarecrow, pulling 
a blanket round him so as not to get soaked by the rain. Getting a bit thin at 
the crown, Sam. Like to try some new tonic I just got in? (Scissors) Well, 
Gwilt said that trees had the right idea. (Scissors) It's a marvelous tonic, 
Sam, you can't go far wrong-- (Scissors up ... voice fades ... scissors come 
up strong ... then back) What say, Pratt? He should have planted himself head 
down? Well, I think he was afraid of turning into a telegraph pole. He's doing 
it by Will Power. Well, I guess you can will away anything 'cept dandruff, Mr. 
Pratt. I just got in a swell dandruff ee-liminator, I think you might try-- 
(Voice fades ... scissors up strong ... then back ... scissors up ... music 
into crowd) 

MAN (calling).--How long are you going to keep us waiting? You ought to be 
showing signs by now. (Laughter)

WOMAN.--Tweet, tweet, tweet! Do you mind if I perch on your branches? 
(Laughter) 

MAN.--Better put on your socks, or your roots will wither. (Laughter)

WOMAN.--Better get in with him, Mrs. Gwilt. Keep him company. (Laughter) 

CHILD.--Here's a piece of mud for your dinner. (Mud flops on umbrella) 

WOMAN.--Here's some more to build a nest with. (Mud flops ... laughter)

GWILT (calling out in fury).--Go, you gibbering fools. Go on, laugh! There's 
more dignity in one tree than in a whole pack of chimpanzees-- (He breaks off 
suddenly as a well-aimed clod catches him ... laughter) 

JANE.--Hold your umbrella before your face, John. It'll protect you from the 
brutes.

GWILT.--Brainless apes! Chattering Yahoos! 

JANE.--They can't do much as long as they stay on the other side of the fence. 
Oh, John, look who's coming. 

OIKLE (off mike).--Make way. Let me through. Let me through. (His footsteps 
approach in the squelchy mud) 

JANE.--It's Harry Oikle. Whatever will he say? 

GWILT.--What do I care what Harry Oikle says? I don't give a hoot for Harry 
Oikle any more.

JANE.--But what about your job, dear? He's the postmaster and he can take it 
away.

GWILT.--What do I care for the postmaster now? I have a different job.

OIKLE  (coming in ... authoritatively).--Well, Gwilt, what's all this 
foolishness? Come, man, pull on your socks and get off to work. It's ten 
o'clock.

GWILT.--I have something better to do, Mr. Oikle. 

OIKLE.--Rubbish, you're making yourself the laughingstock of the town.

GWILT.--Only fools laugh at wise men, Mr. Oikle. 

OIKLE.--So you consider yourself a wise man, do you? (Laughter from the crowd 
... JOHN sneezes      the crowd laughs louder) I suppose you know what we do 
with wise men, Mr. Gwilt? (Footsteps are heard coming in) 

GWILT.--I won't budge an inch. I'll wait right here. But you'll never catch 
me. 

OIKLE.--Bah, you're a fool! 

HOOP.--Morning, Mr. Oikle.

OIKLE.--Oh, it's you, Hoop. Might have known you'd be along. Remember, the 
post office is not responsible for Mr. Gwilt's idiocy in the slightest way-- 
(Fading off with steps) Not in the slightest way.

HOOP (glib newspaper editor).--What's the idea? Doing it for a bet?

GWILT.--What use has a tree for money?

HOOP.--Then why are you doing it? 

GWILT.--Who wants to know? 

HOOP.--Don't you know who I am?

GWILT.--No.

HOOP.--My name's Hoop. Editor of the Smeed Sun. 

GWILT.--Oh, I see. You want to put a piece in your paper about me.

HOOP.--You guessed it. It isn't every day a man turns himself into a tree. 
Naturally, the public's interested. 

GWILT.--I'm not seeking publicity.

HOOP.--No, of course not. (Low) I get it. The wife, eh? Storm and strife. 
Poise and repose. "Harried Hubby Seeks Surcease." 

GWILT.--Domestic relations have nothing to do with it, Mr. Hoop. Jane and I--  

HOOP.--Just tired of life, eh?

GWILT.--If I was tired of life, I could blow my brains out. 

HOOP.--That's true, too. It isn't as simple as a straight suicide.

GWILT.--I love life, but I don't like the life I have been forced to live for 
the past twenty years. I am a man of contemplative disposition. 

HOOP.--I get it. Philosopher, eh?

GWILT.--Well, naturally to a man of my disposition, there comes a time when he 
wearies of the hurly-burly--

HOOP.--That's right. I always go fishing myself.

GWILT.--You're not making notes, Mr. Hoop. Do you remember all your 
interviews? 

HOOP.--Don't worry. I won't misquote you. What gave you the idea of turning 
into a tree? 

GWILT.--I just want to stand still.

HOOP.--If you ask me, I think you're just plain tuckered out, Mr. Gwilt.

GWILT.--I'll go on living for a thousand years. Watching Smeed grow up around 
me.

HOOP.--You know, it mightn't be a bad idea for the town to set a sanctuary 
around you. 

GWILT.--A sanctuary? Around me?

HOOP.--Yes, by golly. Great possibilities in the idea. You'll be a great 
tourist attraction.

GWILT.--I'm not fond of crowds, you know.

HOOP.--Listen to me, Mr. Gwilt. You'd like to be a benefactor of Smeed, 
wouldn't you? You'd like to go down in history. Before I get through the whole 
civilized world will be flocking to Smeed to see you. Think of the business 
it'll bring to the town--railways, hotels, filling stations, hot-dog stands, 
souvenir stores. By golly, Gwilt, you'll be the making of Smeed. You never 
thought of that, did you?

GWILT.--Well, I--

HOOP.--We'll put a brass plate on your chest telling the whole story for 
posterity. We'll have the mayor out for the dedication ceremony in his silk 
hat. I'll get you to rustle your leaves for the talkies. We'll have a bang-up 
parade--flags, banners, floats--

GWILT.--Can't you just leave me as I am?

HOOP.--Well, I tell you, we got to do things in style, you know. Let me see. 
I've got it. We'll have a picked chorus of high school girls, all in white, 
singing Joyce Kilmer's poem about trees. "I think that I shall never see--a 
poem lovely--"

GWILT.--No! 

HOOP.--No?

GWILT.--No! I don't care for that poem.

HOOP.--You don't like it?

GWILT.--It's too personal.

HOOP.--Speaking as a tree, you don't like it?

GWILT.--It's immodest.

HOOP.--Lord, what a story! "SMEED'S MAN-TREE DEBUNKS KILMER."

GWILT.--It's embarrassing.

HOOP.--You're a hard man to please, Mr. Gwilt. But believe me when this story 
gets going you'll need a dozen scrapbooks. You'll be famous. See you later.

JANE.--John-- Wouldn't you change your mind, John? 

GWILT.--It's too late. A little more sun and I'll be well away. I feel a warm 
tingle now. Sap's running. 

JANE.--Is it, dear? It may be the soup you had for lunch. 

GWILT.--Well, Mrs. Gwilt, time will tell. You go and do your shopping. I must 
concentrate. (Music into crowd ... crickets) 

CHIEF (shouting off).--Come on, keep moving there. Keep moving. Go on, go 
about your business. Come on, keep moving. (Footsteps of chief approaching) 

GWILT.--All day long they've been badgering me. Don't they have any beds to go 
to?

HOOP.--Chief Pettibone is coming to talk to you, John. He'll keep them off.

GWILT.--Baboons, apes, grimacing monkeys!

CHIEF.--Don't worry, Mr. Gwilt. The police will protect you. I'll send a man 
over to patrol the place until midnight. We'll keep the mob off.

GWILT.--Call themselves the pride of creation. 

CHIEF.--If a man wants to plant himself in his own back yard, it's all right 
with me. So long as he's alive when he does the planting. We draw the line at 
corpses. Isn't that so, Mr. Hoop?
 
HOOP.--That's right, chief. He has his rights as a taxpayer.

CHIEF.--We'll keep the gapers away until he gets settled, Mr. Hoop. You can 
quote me as saying "law and order will prevail." I'll send a man right over. 
(Off) Keep your chin up, Mr. Gwilt. Remember law and order will prevail. 
(Chief's footsteps fade out ... ad libs crowd off ... crickets) 

HOOP.--Well, good night, Mr. Gwilt. They won't bother you any more. G'night, 
Mrs. Gwilt. Take your time about this. See you in the morning. (Hoop's 
footsteps off) 

FRED (calling).--Hi, there! What's the matter with the old Will Power? 

GWILT.--The Will Power's all right, Fred. Takes time, that's all.

FRED.--The only change I can see is you've got yourself into a swell cold, and 
made a laughingstock of yourself.

GWILT.--Time will tell who's the laughingstock, Fred Staines.

FRED.--Well, you have my sympathy, Mrs. Gwilt. I'll leave you to watch your 
husband blossoming. 

Biz.--Music ... sounds of morning up ... music into birds.

JOHN.--Good morning, my dear. 

JANE.--Two nights and not a twig. 

GWILT.--You seem disappointed, my dear. 

JANE.--Oh, John, how can you say such a thing! I never wanted you to do this.

GWILT.--Then why say "Two nights and not a twig" in such a disgusted tone, my 
dear?

JANE.--I just meant that it should be enough to convince you that it is not 
going to work.

GWILT.--Yes, you are beginning to lose faith in me like all the others. Well, 
my dear, I don't blame you. It does get to be trying, especially all the 
neighbors sneering and jeering.

JANE.--I don't begrudge you anything I do for you, John; you know that. I 
never did.

GWILT.--Thank you, Jane. Well, I have some pleasant news for you. Your 
troubles are over.

JANE.--You--you don't mean--you've--sprouted? 

GWILT.--The metamorphosis has begun. 

JANE.--The meta--?

GWILT.--It began with the feet. I have no feet now, Jane. Just roots. And what 
roots. They stretch out and out, deep and deep, far down into the dark earth. 
I feel immortal. Nothing can shake me.

JANE (crying).--Oh, John! John!

GWILT.--It's true, Jane. My legs have grown together. I am a tree to the 
waist. I'll take off my blanket and you'll see. There. Isn't that wonderful? I 
have a trunk. Not as big around as it will be, of course, but I feel it. 
(Slaps his bark) Wood, covered with bark. I've lost my fatigue. I'll never 
walk again. 

JANE.--Never walk--

GWILT.--It won't be long now. Cheer up, Jane. No more socks to darn.

JANE.--That's one consolation. I hope you won't expect me to keep your leaves 
sewed on.

GWILT.--When they come off, they come off. Look. The tips of my fingers.

JANE.--Leaves, little green leaves! 

JOHN.--I'm in bud.

JANE.--Oh, dear, it's true, then. And now I am a Hindoo, married to a tree.

JOHN.--Don't take it so hard, Jane. 

Biz.--Footsteps.

JANE.--Mr. Hoop's coming. Whatever will he print about us now?

HOOP (coming in).--Good morning, Mr. Gwilt. Good morning, Mrs. Gwilt. Gosh all 
fish hooks! He's sprouting! Got a phone in the house? 

JOHN.--Help yourself, Mr. Hoop. In the hall. 

HOOP.--Right. (Going off) Gosh all fish hooks! Gosh all fish hooks! Gosh--(His 
footsteps fade ... then fade in Hoop on phone)--and get Bill and Jason down 
here with their cameras immediately. And clear the front page--yes, all of it. 
Clear the whole paper. This is the greatest story since the creation. Here's 
your lead: "Smeed's Man-Tree Sprouts." "John Gwilt, the Smeed postman who 
started to will himself into a tree two days ago, broke into little green 
shoots--" 

Biz.--Music ... Hoop's voice fades ... bring up crowd ad libbing and marching 
down Gwilt's garden ... music into crowd.

CHIEF (shouting).--All right. All right. Don't push. Single file. Keep moving. 
Keep moving. (Crowd down a little) 

JANE.--Oh, John, there's no end to them! I wish we could send them away.

GWILT.--I don't mind, Jane.

HOOP.--You said it, Mr. Gwilt. Nothing like being in the public eye. Mr. 
Gwilt, I want you to meet Mr. Bellows, here. Joshua Bellows--president of the 
Smeed Chamber of Commerce.

BELLOWS.--Glad to know you, Mr. Gwilt. You're a remarkable man, sir, and 
you'll be the making of Smeed. As president of the Chamber of Commerce, I must 
offer you my sincerest thanks for your public-mindedness. 

HOOP (sotto).--Bellows, I'd like a word with you. Come over here.

BELLOWS.--Right. (Footsteps) 

HOOP.--Look at that crowd, Bellows. Hour after hour they've been filing 
through Gwilt's garden, and still they come. And it's all going to waste.

BELLOWS.--I thought of that, Hoop. Approximately six thousand people have seen 
him since the news broke. Now six thousand people at, say, twenty-five cents 
apiece--

HOOP.--Lemme see. Hm! Fifteen hundred dollars--

BELLOWS.--Gone to waste.

HOOP.--Gone to waste! Think of what Barnum would have done.

BELLOWS.--Put a tent over him. 

HOOP.--Advertised him all over the world. 

BELLOWS.--Half man, half tree.

HOOP (as a barker).--"Have you seen him? Have you seen him? He's alive, alive, 
alive! Come on ovah! Come on ovah! Instructive and entertaining! See the tree-
man!"

BELLOWS (carrying on in the same strain).--"The chance of a lifetime here! The 
most colossal, the most amazing miracle ever beheld by the eyes of man!" Hoop, 
we should make ourselves Gwilt's managers.

HOOP.--The very thing. We'll exploit him for all he's worth.

BELLOWS.--We'll fix up a contract this evening. First thing tomorrow we'll get 
him to sign it.

HOOP.--Right, Joshua! "Caleb Hoop's and Joshua Bellow's Man-Tree. Come on 
ovah!" 

BELLOWS.--There's no end to the possibilities of Gwilt, Caleb. We could form a 
syndicate. Sell shares to the public.

HOOP.--Oh, this is going to be a juicy bone all right. 

Biz.--Music up and then down to back ... solitary bird, singing on tree ... 
bird stops.

GWILT.--Fooling them all, eh, little bird? (Bird chirrups) Well, we'll soon be 
great friends. How much better to be a full-spreading, proud, complete tree, 
than an emaciated man without teeth! Long serene years before me. I shall 
thrust off the world. (Robin chirrups) How busy men are. Forever peering and 
prying, chopping, digging, scraping, shoving, hoisting, tearing down. The 
whole of human life wasted on desiring and coveting, getting and holding on to 
rubbish, killing for it. How insane. How infinitely sensible are the quiet 
trees, who know nothing of greed. (Robin chirrups) They are rooted firm in the 
ground where they feed on the earth and the sun and the rain. 

Biz.--Robin chirrups loudly ... music comes up full and goes out behind ... 
roar of automobile motor up full, then down to back.

BELLOWS.--Almost there. Step on it, Hoop. 

HOOP.--Right, Josh. You got the contract?

BELLOWS.--You bet I have. All my life I've waited for a chance like this. It 
means millions, Caleb.

HOOP.--Well, we deserve it. We'll know how to spend it too. I wonder if I 
should get a yacht--

BELLOWS.--Get ten yachts, Caleb. We can make the richest men in the world look 
like pikers. 

HOOP.--Am I going to throw a party!

BELLOWS.--As much money as you can spend. It's like a dream.

HOOP.--Well, here we are. We'll have to get organized to protect our 
interests. (Engine stops ... door opens) 

BELLOWS.--Through the alley here. 

HOOP.--Right. (Footsteps through the alley) 

BELLOWS.--We'll hire a crew of guides and dress 'em in leaves.

HOOP.--No sense in being extravagant, Josh. At first we must watch the costs. 
Let's see. We'll have to tear this wall down to make room for a museum.

BELLOWS.--We'll buy all the land around here for two miles.

HOOP.--Get the contract.

BELLOWS.--Just one little scrawled signature and we'll be millionaires.

HOOP.--Gosh all fish hooks!! Where is he? Where is he? 

BELLOWS (calling).--Mr. Gwilt! Mr. Gwilt!

HOOP (calling).--Gwilt! Gwilt! (quietly) Josh--Josh, that tree. Is it--it 
can't be--

BELLOWS.--That's--that's where he was standing yesterday. Caleb, he's done it. 
He's double-crossed us. 

HOOP.--Well, I'll be a ring-tailed monkey. 

BELLOWS.--All our plans--

HOOP.--Well, of all the crooks--of all the double-dealing, swindling--

JANE (running in).--John! John! (Stops suddenly) No. It can't be. It--can't 
be--John.

HOOP AND BELLOWS.--It's him all right--that's your husband, Mrs. Gwilt.

JANE (crying).--He did it! He did it! He's a tree! A beautiful sycamore! A 
great spreading sycamore! Oh, John! Dear, dear John! (She sobs ... the 
sycamore shakes its leaves ... the robin sings in triumph ... music)


______________
Broadcast 4 July 1937
on The Columbia Workshop
Script by Leopold Proser 


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