French Leave

FORTY FATHOM TRAWLERS

French Leave

by 

James Whipple

BIZ: EIGHT BELLS.

QUARTET: EIGHT BELLS.

ORCHESTRA: SEA THEME.

CROWD: FADE IN ON MEN DISAGREEING WITH PETER.

HAFT: That's the trouble with seafarin' now-a-days. Here's Peter, just away 
from his mother's apron strings tryin' to tell us how to run the fishin' 
business.

PETER: Aw, gee, Old Forty Fathom, are you pickin' on me, too? Gosh, ain't a 
guy got a right to his own opinions?

HAFT: Not 'til you've earned it, son. No one has a right to an opinion until 
he's been through the mill. Here you are, on a fine modern fishing trawler, 
with machinery to hoise the trawl on deck and every other comfort--good food 
and good quarters, and--

PETER: I know that, Old Forty Fathom, but I was just sayin' that the day is 
coming when a man will only have to work about four hours a day and--

CROWD: LAUGHS.

HAFT: Peter, it's a wonder some of the old sailors don't turn over in their 
graves to hear you talk. Four hours work! Great Caesar, I've spent six hours 
aloft in an icy gale, wet and almost frozen to the foot ropes, and then it was 
all hands on deck for three days at a time, with the galley awash and nothin' 
hot to drink! And you talk about improving present conditions!

CROWD: LAUGHS.

ANNOUNCER: Peter, will you please go on deck and wave your red flag! I have a 
little propaganda for the working people, too.

CROWD: LAUGHS.

PETER: It's all right for you radio announcers to talk--you don't have any 
work to do.

ANNOUNCER: Peter, not so loud. Do you want me to lose my job? (Laughs.) Ladies 
and gentlemen, there are two kinds of fishermen; those who fish for sport--and 
those who catch something. (Laughs.) This is the trawler Spray, one of twenty-
two in the service of the Bay State Fishing Company and we're here to tell you 
that we've caught something. All cleaned and packed away on ice beds in our 
hold is the Forty Fathom Fish that will be served on your table. All this 
winter you can enjoy a shore breakfast, a shore luncheon, or a shore dinner 
right in your home, no matter how far from the sea you may live; a delicious  
meal of nourishing, nonfattening, inexpensive Forty Fathom Fish--the tastiest 
fish you ever ate. Just think, not a shred of waste, not a bone, a scale, a 
head, or a tail--just tender white fish meat, all ready for your frying pan or 
oven. Your dealer gets them by fast express on cracked ice and if you are not 
already buying Forty Fathom Fish ask your dealer to give you the genuine which 
always comes in the wrapper with the picture of old Forty Fathom and the Big 
Blue 40. Only this trade-marked package is the genuine, absolutely fresh Forty 
Fathom Fish....Now fellows, a little song from you would be appreciated.

CROWD: MEN AGREE.

PETER: And to think, an announcer gets money for just talking about 
fish and we have to catch 'em. 

CROWD: LAUGHS.

QUARTET: SEA SONG.

CROWD: APPLAUSE AND COMMENT.

ANNOUNCER: Now, Peter, you can wave the red flag all you want. 
    
PETER: Aw, you'd think I was a Bolshevist to hear you talk. I only said--

CROWD: PROTESTS FROM THE MEN.

HAFT: Never mind goin' over it, lad. Just quit talkin' about yourself for a 
while.

EMILE: Yes--try that, Peter, and see if anyone else will bring up the subject.

CROWD: LAUGHS.

HAFT: Well, Peter, I'll have to admit many of your arguments are sound.

PETER: (Pleased.) Gee, thanks, Old Forty Fathom. 

HAFT: Yes, sir--they're sound--just sound. 

CROWD: LAUGHS.

HAFT: You know, son, a gift of gab is all right if it ain't abused. Now I read 
about an Irishman who--

PETER: (ON CUE.) Who what, sir?

HAFT: Nothing, Peter, I was just--

PETER: You always tell me to never start anything I can't finish, sir.

CROWD: LAUGHS.

HAFT: That's right, son, you have me this time. That's what I get for 
talkin' too much.

CROWD: LIGHT LAUGHS.

HAFT: Well, I'm in for it, so here goes. This yarn is about an Irishman with a 
gift of gab, Peter, but it was lucky for him he had it. Back in 1806, if I 
remember right, France and England was havin' one of their annual wars. This 
Irishman whose name was McCarthy, didn't give a hang whether England and 
France was fightin' or not. He didn't like England and he made his livin' 
smuggling French goods into England. He owned a fast little lugger called The 
Arrow, and he had an arrangement with a French smuggler named de Lille to meet 
at a prearranged place off the French coast and exchange cargoes. McCarthy's 
lugger was well armed and he carried about fifteen men, husky daredevil 
Irishmen and his best friend and partner, Danny O'Brien, was his mate. One 
morning about daybreak they sighted the French coast where they'd agreed to 
meet and they sighted a small boat putting off from shore. (Fading.) McCarthy 
immediately ran up French colors as the agreed signal.

McCARTHY: It's de Lille's boat all right. Keep your course, Danny. She's made 
the correct signal--an English flag in answer to our French flag.

DANNY: Can ye see Mounseer Captain de Lille?

McCARTHY: I can't swear to him, but there's someone very like him in the 
stern.

DANNY: Perhaps we'd better have the muskets ready, Mac. I don't trust those 
Mounseers, they're too purlite--and I can't see Captain de Lille.

McCARTHY: Here, Pat, unlock the arms chest, and let each man arm himself well. 
And keep a bright outlook as we near the French boat.

PAT: Aye, aye, sir. Come on ye spalpeens and arm yersilves, it's a fight we 
may be havin', bless the saints. 

CROWD: CHEERS AND REMARKS FROM CREW.

McCARTHY: You don't trust this man de Lille, do you, Danny?

DANNY: Indade, now, and I don't. He owes us money for one thing, and he's too 
purlite to live. I don't trust purlite people. 

McCARTHY: If there's anyone politer than you when there's a pretty girl 
around, I want to see 'em. 

CROWD: LIGHT LAUGH.

DANNY: Arrah now, and before ye wint and got spliced ye was a fine lad wid the 
blarney yersilf. (Louder.) There now, and it 't ain't Cap'n de Lille, at all, 
at all.

McCARTHY: No, but he's waving a small English flag and a letter. Maybe 
something's happened to de Lille and he's sent a messenger. Hey, Pat, when 
that boat comes alongside, let that man with the letter aboard, but keep the 
others off--understand ?

PAT: (Disappointed.) Faith thin, if he isn't the man ye're expectin' thin who 
are we goin' to fight?

McCARTHY: If you want to fight so bad, Pat, go and join the King's Navy.

PAT: That I'll niver do, be the powers. Who iver heard of a loyal Irishman 
fightin' for the King, bad cess to him, unless the press gang caught him.

CROWD: "THAT'S RIGHT, PAT!" ETC. LAUGHS.

McCARTHY: Up with the helm, Danny. Now hold her there. (Calling.) Ahoy there, 
you in the boat! Who are you and what do you want?

PILOT: (Off mike.) I come from Monsieur le Capitaine de Lille. I have here one 
lettre.

McCARTHY: (Calling.) Come aboard--but leave your men in the boat.

PILOT: (Off mike.) Oui, Monsieur le Capitaine.

McCARTHY: (Lower.) I wonder what's wrong with de Lille. He's always met us 
before.

DANNY: Where's his boat is what I want to know. 

McCARTHY: We'll soon know. Here comes his messenger over the side.

BIZ: AD LIB. NOISES ON DECK.

PILOT: (Fading in.) Bon jour, messieurs--I have the plaisir to 
introduce to you one lettre from Monsieur le Capitaine de Lille--

McCARTHY: All right, give it here. H'm, important business, eh? 

BIZ: RUSTLE OF PAPER.

DANNY: (Cue.) Well, what does he say, Mac? 

McCARTHY: Says he has an important deal on but will meet us in a secret cove 
where this messenger will pilot us. 

DANNY: Well, let's hurry. If a French gunboat sights us we'll have to run--
where is this place you're takin' us to, Mounseer?

PILOT: One leetle port vare no one knows. Zen we exchange cargo. Come, I show 
you.

DANNY: 'Vast there--not so fast. (Lower.) What do you think, Mac?

McCARTHY: (Low.) Don't be so suspicious, Danny. I know de Lille's writing and 
this is from him, all right. Remember, he's got to be as careful as we have.

DANNY: All right, but I don't like not seein' Mounseer de Lille himself.

PILOT: Give me the helm, mon ami, this is one very bad place. (Fading.) 
Monsieur de Lille he wait for us behind the rocks, where there is a quiet 
harbor. 

MUSIC: MUSIC IN, UP AND OUT.

BIZ: SURF LOUD: FADES IN AS MUSIC FADES OUT. 

McCARTHY: Look out there! You'll pile us up on them rocks! 

PILOT: Nevair fear, mon ami. I know this place too well. Even by night can I 
pilot the boat through those rocks. Vary soon now we find quiet water. Two, 
three minutes and then I show you the beautiful hiding place. 

BIZ: SURF GROWS FAINTER.

DANNY: The harbor must be right behind those big rocks we're comin' to.

McCARTHY: Why didn't de Lille take us here before? Why, this is perfect--can't 
be seen from the sea and if there's quiet water back of them rocks it will be 
perfect for transferrin' cargo. 

PILOT: Eet ees perfect, messieurs, as you will vary soon see--look! The water 
she ees quiet! Now we round this point, and voila! What we see, hein? 

McCARTHY: Hey, you--what are you bringin' her up in the wind fer--

CROWD: CRY FROM MEN AS THEY SEE FRENCH WARSHIP.

PILOT: Eet ees the fortune of war, messieurs. I am so vary sorry, but war is 
war, n'est pas? You are now prisoners! 

CROWD: ANGRY.

DANNY: We are, eh? Take that! (Blow and groan.) Now, let's show 'em a 
clean pair of keels!

McCARTHY: No use, Danny--we're right under the guns of that corvette and 
she'll blow us to--

CROWD: MEN CROWD AROUND OFFERING; TO FIGHT. 

DANNY: Let's take a chance through them rocks. I watched him--I can make it!

McCARTHY: We're too late--they've blocked the entrance! 

CROWD: CROWD GROWS ANGRY AND WANTS TO FIGHT.

McCARTHY: Lay down your arms, men. We're caught pretty! 

CROWD: MEN ARGUE.

McCARTHY: (Loud.) Quiet! Don't be fools! Here comes six boats of French 
marines. We'll be cut down to a man if we fight, and this way all we'll get is 
a French prison.

DANNY: Aye, a French prison--but, by the powers (fading), that ain't all that 
Mounseer de Lille will get if I ivver lay me two hands on his dirty neck.

CROWD: MUTTERING FROM CREW: FADE OUT. 

MUSIC.

BIZ: FADE IN MARCH OF FEET IN MILITARY STYLE: STOP ON COMMAND IN FRENCH: KEY 
IN LOCK: DOOR OPENS.

OFFICER: (In French.) Here, Lecoux, are some more English dogs for your 
kennels. Send the receipt to Captain Pollet at once. (Louder.) Attention! 
March!

BIZ: MEN MARCH AWAY IN MARCH STEP.

McCARTHY: (On cue.) Well, here we are boys, a nice, cold French jail.

CROWD: AD LIB. REMARKS.

McCARTHY: That must be the jailer coming this way. 

DANNY: And that must be the jailer's daughter with him. Sure now, if it wasn't 
for the lugger and the cargo and Mounseer de Lille, the divil take him, I 
wouldn't mind how long we stay here.

CROWD: LIGHT LAUGHS.

McCARTHY: If you were dyin', Danny, you'd have strength left to wink at a 
pretty girl.

DANNY: So I would! And she didn't seem to mind it a bit. Aisy, now, wid the 
gab. Here they come and I'm goin' to make a good impression.

JAILER: (Fading in.) If you will permit me, gentlemen--I will show you where 
you stay.

DANNY: (Low.) Sure now, they'd be purlite if they was askin' ye to put yer 
head on the guillotine.

McCARTHY: I'm glad you speak English, sir, as none of us know a word of 
French.

JAILER: I live with my family in England for tree years. My daughter, Claire, 
she speak the English more bettair than me. 

DANNY: So this is Claire. Sure now, and I niver thought they had such 
beautiful women outside of Ireland. 

CLAIRE: Thank you, monsieur.

JAILER: Now will you please to follow us--

PAT: Are we to be all together?

JAILER: But that ees impossible, monsieur. We have only the small quarters.

McCARTHY: Then perhaps you could put me and my mate in the same room.

JAILER: That I can do, but the other men I must to put not altogether. Here in 
this room I can to put you two.

BIZ: KEY IN DOOR: DOOR OPENS. 

CLAIRE: Soon I will bring you some petit dejeuner.

DANNY: Never mind the pretty flowers, Claire--just bring us something to eat.

CLAIRE: (Laughs.) You are so funny. Petit dejeuner means the 
breakfast.

DANNY: I knew it all the time, Claire--but I just said it because ye look so 
pretty whin ye smile.

CLAIRE: I think monsieur--flatter me (fading)--but I return real soon with 
something to eat.

McCARTHY: Well, good-by, boys. We'll see you when the war's over.

CROWD: LAUGHS AND VOICES FADE DOWN HALL: AD LIB. REMARKS: LAUGHS. 

BIZ: DOOR CLOSES AND IS LOCKED.

DANNY: Well, now what do you think of Mounseer de Lille? Sure I'd like 
to have me two hands around his throat.

McCARTHY: If I see him first you'll never get the chance. He owes us money 
which we'll never see--and I'll swear he got prize money for turnin' us over 
to the Frenchies, and got the lugger for himself.

DANNY: To say nothin' of the cargo. Well, it's some satisfaction I got, bedad, 
when I cracked the thick skull of his pilot. 

McCARTHY: But if we ever lay hands on de Lille--

DANNY: Now, my boy, ye're speakin' after me own thoughts. 

McCARTHY: Danny, we've got to get out of here. Look, there's the lugger layin' 
right under our noses, and that fellow de Lille laughin' at us.

DANNY: Aye, that he is--and there's the lugger--but can ye pull them iron bars 
of the window out wid yer teeth? Can ye free our lads in their cells? Can ye 
take the lugger out from under the guns of that corvette? Aye, that ye can't!

McCARTHY: Hush! Here comes the girl.

BIZ: KEY IN LOCK: DOOR OPENS: SHUTS: KEY IN LOCK.

CLAIRE: (Fading in.) See now--I bring you the breakfast soon, n'est-ce pas?

DANNY: Sure now, and I thought ye was a fairy comin' to take me back home to 
Mother.

CLAIRE: (Seriously.) I wish I was a fairy, monsieur, then I would bring back 
my own dear brozer, Paul, who is also a prisoner of war in England.

McCARTHY: When was your brother taken?

CLAIRE: A year ago next month, and we have heard from him but once; he was at 
a place call "Falmouth." That is why my father treat the English prisoners so 
well--maybe they hear about it and treat my poor brozer also kind.

DANNY: (Slowly.) I think I know your brother. Is he tall? 

CLAIRE: But, yes!

DANNY: With a Roman nose and black hair?

CLAIRE: Oh, yes, a nose just like mine, and black, black hair. 

DANNY: And he had not lost an arm?

CLAIRE: No, no he had both arms. 

DANNY: And his name was Paul?

CLAIRE: Yes, yes--Paul Lecoux--oh, you know him. How is he, monsieur. He is 
well?

DANNY: That's the man, all right; sure I know him. I know'd him soon after he 
was captured. Now, ain't that strange?

CLAIRE: But, tell me,--he is well?

DANNY: Fat as Father Murphy's pig--and havin' a fine time, all but wantin' to 
get home.

CLAIRE: Oh, I must tell father. (Fading slightly.) He will want to know all 
about Paul.

DANNY: Wait a minute. We'll have lots of chats about Paul, Claire. I have an 
idea how we might get your brother free, but it's risky and you mustn't tell 
even your father. But I can't tell ye now. I must think the plan all out and 
then I'll tell ye all about it.

CLAIRE: Oh, that will be wonderful. (Fading.) I must tell father that you know 
Paul, and that he is well. 

BIZ: KEY IN DOOR: DOOR OPENS.

DANNY: Don't forget--don't say a word to anybody about my plan.

CLAIRE: (Off.) I won't forget.

BIZ: DOOR CLOSES: KEY IN LOCK.

McCARTHY: That's not fair, Danny. You know you've never laid eyes on her 
brother.

DANNY: Tush, man, and there's no harm done. There's many a French prisoner 
named Paul, with black hair and two arms, and if ye noticed Claire, both her 
father and her had a Roman nose, so I figured the brother might have one, too. 
And they're both tall so I figured Paul would be tall.

McCARTHY: But you spoke about a plan. You know you have no plan. How could you 
help her free her brother? 

DANNY: Now, Mac, since whin has iver an Irishman had the truth in him? And 
especially whin spakin' to the girls, God bless 'em! Of course I have no plan, 
but if she thinks we have we'll have a much nicer time in jail, won't 
we? 

McCARTHY: Well, I have a plan if you haven't, and for once in your worthless 
life a girl may get you out of trouble and not in it. That girl thinks you 
know her brother. She would risk much to get him free or I don't know women. 
Now, if we can get free some dark night when the wind is from the south, why 
couldn't we take the lugger by surprise and be off before the corvette can get 
into action?

DANNY: (Sarcastically.) Sure, and it's a great brain ye've got! If ye knew as 
much about snakes as ye do about women, St. Patrick would have to look out for 
his reputation, bedad. Sure, and how are we goin' to get free, and, faith, 
who's goin' to pilot the lugger through them rocks?

McCARTHY: You are goin' to do it all, me buck. You watched the pilot enter the 
cove, and so did I. Between us we can get out. Once at sea nothin' can catch 
us.

DANNY: Right ye are on that--but how are we goin' to get free? Shall I waltz 
up to Claire, give her a kiss and say, "Darlin', me and me friends are a 
little cramped for space. Will ye lend us your keys for a space while we kill 
a few Frenchies for exercise?" 

McCARTHY: You couldn't do that today nor yet tomorrow, but by the Powers, you 
can win that girl Claire, and if we promise to free her brother, she'll help 
us.

DANNY: 'Vast there, Mac. Ye object to me blarney and me lyin' to the poor girl 
and now ye want me to do worse--promise her somethin' we can't do. How can we 
free her brother?

McCARTHY: Suppose we escape with the lugger and a couple of French prisoners? 
Suppose we take Claire to England and tell the authorities that she risked her 
life to free fifteen loyal Englishmen? Don't you think that they'll free her 
brother in exchange for what she did for us?

DANNY: Sure, now, and that's an idea. But the poor girl will have to remain in 
England until the war's over. She won't dare come back.

McCARTHY: You wouldn't mind that, would you, Danny?

DANNY: Faith, and I wouldn't. The Irish and the French have been mixing it up 
for years, and a little more won't hurt. Mac, ye've struck it. Now, if ye'll 
lend me your pocket comb I'll be fixin' up for the conquest. Sure, and it's a 
great brain ye have, Mac (fading), and if ye had my looks to go wid it, ye'd 
be after bein' a great man in Ireland, so ye would.

MUSIC: MUSIC IN, UP AND OUT. 

BIZ: SOUND OF FILE ON IRON BARS.

CLAIRE: (Through sound.) Please to hurry--if my father come-- 

DANNY: Don't ye worry yer pretty head, darlin'. Sure and if this scheme works 
ye'll have yer brother in yer arms within the week.

BIZ: SOUND STOPS.

McCARTHY: There it is. Now I'll leave the bars just as they are until we 
escape. I have filed them clear through at the base.

CLAIRE: But I am afraid--what will happen to my father when they find you are 
escape? He will be shot, maybe.

DANNY: No, he won't, darlin'. We'll lave a note tellin' how we forced ye to do 
this--took yer keys and kidnaped ye. And whin ye write to him that yer brother 
is free he'll forgive ye if he even suspects ye had a hand in it.

CLAIRE: Oh, Danny. I hope you are right. Sometimes I feel that I do somezings 
terrible.

DANNY: Sure, now and it ain't terrible to rescue yer brother. How are ye goin' 
to keep the guard from seein' us?

CLAIRE: He is an old friend of mine. I will pretend to make love to him and I 
promise he will not look in your direction.

DANNY: Be sure it's only pretendin' ye are, darlin'. Now run along and tonight 
at eight o'clock bring the rope and the other prisoners in here and we'll do 
the rest.

McCARTHY: We depend on you, Claire. Visit the beach and see that oars and a 
boat hook and a sharp axe to cut the cables are all in a large boat.

CLAIRE: I will do it. (Fading.) But--I am so afraid! 

BIZ: DOOR UNLOCKS AND LOCKS.

DANNY: There, now--tonight we'll be free, me boy. Don't iver say I can't make 
love with results.

McCARTHY: And to think--de Lille is aboard the lugger, loaded with choice 
French wines and we'll have him and the lugger, too. Oh, wait till I get my 
hands on his throat!

DANNY: If anything goes wrong with our plans our own throats will be sayin' 
"Good mornin'" to the guillotine. But it's worth the risk.

McCARTHY: We are short of arms right enough, but I'll be first aboard, and 
knock down de Lille. Let the men seize the small arms about the main mast and 
you take the helm. Four men will rush to loose the sails and cut the cable as 
soon as we're aboard. The rest of us will lock up those who are below if our 
surprise is complete.

DANNY: If it ain't a complete surprise that corvette will blow us all out of 
the water.

McCARTHY: That's a chance we'll have to take. (fading.) Now, let's get some 
sleep, as we'll need all our strength tonight. 

MUSIC: MUSIC IN, UP AND OUT.

BIZ: RATTLE OF OARLOCKS: NOISE OF BOAT BEING LAUNCHED.

McCARTHY: (Whisper.) Less noise there. Do you want to arouse the corvette? 
Now, get in the boat, quietly. Now push off--and row quietly.

BIZ: WATER AND OAR EFFECTS.

CLAIRE: Danny, did you have to kill the guard? 

DANNY: No, darlin', I just put him to sleep and took his musket--

McCARTHY: Quiet, you two--now, Claire, when we get aboard you get below out of 
danger. Careful men, we'll board her from the--

VOICE: (Off mike, in French.) What's that boat? 

CLAIRE: (In French.) A friend.

VOICE: (Off mike, in French.) What do you want? 

CLAIRE: (In French.) I am Claire Lecoux-- I wish to speak to Capitaine de 
Lille-- Will you call him please? 

VOICE: (In French. Fading.) All right. Remain where you are.

BIZ: BUMPING OF BOAT: RATTLE OF CHAINS.

McCARTHY: Now follow me! (Noise of men.) To the helm, Danny. Quick, men--the 
sails! Cut the cable!

BIZ: NOISE OF MEN: MUSKET SHOT: CRY OF HELP IN FRENCH.

DE LILLE: (Fading in. In French.) Where are you, Claire? (In English.) Oh! It 
is you, Monsieur McCarthy? Help, help! He will kill me. Help!

McCARTHY: Come here, ye sneakin' double-crossin' spalpeen-- So, de Lille, we 
meet again. (Scream from de Lille, who begs for mercy.) 

BIZ: AD LIB. NOISE AND COMMENTS FROM MEN AS THEY FIGHT ON DECK.

McCARTHY: (Continuing.) Sure, now, and I have no time to kill ye like a 
gentleman which ye ain't--so take that! (Blow, scream.)

BIZ: FAINT ROLL OF DRUMS.

DANNY: (Off mike.) Hurry, Mac,--the corvette--

BIZ: BUGLE AND ROLL OF DRUMS: DECK NOISES GRADUALLY DIE DOWN: PRISON BELL 
STARTS RINGING IN DISTANCE.

DANNY: There goes the general alarm, Mac.

McCARTHY: The decks are cleared, Danny--and we're off, man. It was a complete 
surprise!

DANNY: Aye, but the corvette is swingin' to give us a broadside!

BIZ: MUSKET SHOTS START OFF MIKE.

McCARTHY: We're almost out of range! (Louder.) Shoot your fool heads off, ye 
spalpeens.

BIZ: CANNONS OFF MIKE.

DANNY: But the cannons, man--the cannons!

McCARTHY: Let 'em shoot--we're around the point, me boy! Nothin' can catch us 
now!

BIZ: CHEERS FROM MEN: BELL GROWS FAINTER: FADE OUT.

MUSIC: SEA THEME. 

ANNOUNCER: Closing.


______________
Originally broadcast in 1929 or '30.

1