Tuesday, March 29, 2016

There were three fight scenes in the saloon in the novel Shane and two in the film.  In the novel Shane goes into the saloon and mercantile store to buy work pants shortly after he is hired to work for Joe Starrett.  While there, he buys a bottle of soda-pop for Starrett’s young son.  He is challenged by one of the cattle boss’s hands, “a young fellow everyone called Chris … known for a gay manner and reckless courage.”  The cattle boss’s men had run out of the valley Starrett’s previous hired hand.  Chris decides to do the same to Shane.  Most of the dialogue I use in Scene Five between Shane and Kurt Jergens is from the exchange in the novel between Shane and Chris. 

“Hello, farmer,” he said.  He said it as if he did not like farmers.

Shane regarded him with grave attention.  “Speaking to me?” he asked mildly and finished his drink.

“Hell, there ain’t nobody else standing there.  Here, have a drink of this.”  Chris shoved his bottle along the bar.   Shane poured himself a generous slug and raised it to his lips.

“Did you hear that?  This farmer drinks whiskey!  I didn’t think these plow-pushing dirt-grubbers drank anything stronger than soda pop!”

“What’s been happening in here?  It smells.  That ain’t no clean cattleman smell.  That’s plain dirty barnyard.”  He stared at Shane.  “You, farmer.  What are you and Starrett raising out there?  Pigs?”

In the novel Shane does not accept Chris’s challenge.  Chris believes it is because Shane is a coward.  The owner of the saloon disagrees, says to his bar tender, “He wasn’t afraid of Chris.  He was afraid of himself.”  One of the homesteaders, a witness of the incident, at a meeting of homesteaders at Starrett’s place, talks about Shane’s “cowardice.”  Shane overhears, rides into town, and knocks the tar out of Chris.  Several days later, the homesteaders and their families and Shane go into town to buy supplies.  Shane goes into the saloon.  Several of the cattle boss’s men jump him.  Starrett hears of it and joins Shane in a fierce brawl.

The film replicates the novel’s first saloon scene, skips the second scene, and portrays the third.  Burdened with so many invented characters filling script space, I skipped the third scene and compressed the first two scenes into one.  Kurt Jergens seemed the logical choice to be Shane’s comic foil.
Shhotout at Garsen's Saloon -- Part One
Scene Five


Cast of Characters

            Joe Garrett, leader of the homesteaders
            Marian Garrett, Joe’s wife
            Grandma Garrett, Joe’s mother
            Johnny Garrett, dim-witted 16 year old son
            Bonnie Garrett, 12 year old daughter

            Cannonball Stone, fiery-tempered homesteader
            Opal Stone, 16 year old daughter
            Rocky Stone, 14 year old son
            Svede Svenson, Swedish homesteader

            Ebenezer Erp, town preacher
            Alley Erp, Ebenezer’s wife
            Hannah Erp, bad-breathed 16 year old daughter

            Big Bill Wretcher, cattle boss of the valley
            Rachael Wretcher, flirtatious 16 year old daughter
            Kurt Jergens, Big Bill’s German, bully-boy foreman

            George Garsen, owner of Garsen’s Saloon
            Tina Tintinnabulation, saloon girl
            Digger Phelps, undertaker and barber
            Widow Winslow, man-hunting, 35 year old widow
            Shane, gunfighter trying to escape his past

Time: 1880s
Place: Shoshone Hole, Wyoming

Scene Five

(Garsen’s Saloon.  A week later.  Garsen is behind the bar wiping glasses.  Digger Phelps is seated at a table, a bottle and a shot glass in front of him)

Garsen: Hey, Digger.  Business been slow lately?  I don’t recall anybody kickin’ the bucket this last month.

Digger: Summers are always slow.  Got to wait for the first fall chill.  (takes a drink)  Hot weather brings ‘em into the barbershop, though.  And I pull a few teeth.

Garsen: Reckon with more homesteaders comin’ into the valley, we’ll all be getting more business.

Digger: You get yours right away.  I have t’wait.

Garsen: Not too long from what I hear.  Big Bill Wretcher’s ‘bout ready to make his play!  His foreman was doin’ a lot of talking in here this week.

Digger (with interest): That so?  I could use a few stiffs right about now!

Garsen: Course, I’d rather see the homesteaders stay.  I’ve made a lot of money from the supplies Garrett and the others have bought this past year.

Digger: Big Bill won’t stand for it.  And Joe Garrett won’t back off.  There’ll be gun play.  (smiling)  And I’ll get my stiffs.

(Tina Tintinnabulation enters left)

Digger: Tina, honey!  Come sit here on my lap!

Tina (with flirtatious good humor): Two seconds on duty and already an hombre wants me on hees lap!  Carrumba!

Digger: Come here, my little chili bean!  I’ll buy you a drink.

Tina (after laughing): I bring you the drink but I no’ you little chili bean.  You naughty boy!

Digger: Okay, then you’re my hot tamale!

Tina (playing along): You stay away from me.  I no want undertaker fingers around waist.  Got that?

Digger: Si.  Comprendez.  Garsen.  Where’d you find this bundle of dynamite?

Garsen: Believe it or not, in a convent.

Tina: Where those two sodbusters always come in here?  They really like Tina.  I dance with tambourine!  Crazy one with long name give me Dixie dollars!

Digger (laughing): Confederate money ain’t worth a penny.

Tina: I know that!  But I like heem and Svede.  They fun hombres!

(Cannonball Stone and Svede Svenson enter right)

Tina: Carrumba!  Speak of Diablo!  Chihuahua!

Cannonball: Que es el burro to you, too, senorita!

Svede: Yumpin’ Yimminy!  My Svedish meatball!

Tina (to Digger): What I tell you!  Fun hombres!  (She dances over to them and tickles Cannonball under the chin)  Kootchie!  Kootchie!  Kootchie!

Svede: Why you tickle him?  What is wrong with me?

Tina: He got long name.  You don’t.

Cannonball: Patrick Henry Robert E. Lee Beauregard Jackson Cannonball Stone says, “Drinks are on the house!”

Digger (mildly sarcastic): Mighty generous of you, Stone.  The place is packed.  What you goona use?  Dickie dollars?

Cannonball (suddenly angry): You!  Undertaker!  You speak of the South with respect, you hear?!

Digger: Just wanted to make sure your folding money’s got Abe Lincoln on it.  (Scornfully)  Instead of Jefferson Davis!

(Cannonball leaps out of his chair and shoves the table Digger is seated at on top of him.  As Digger lies on the floor, Cannonball stands over him ready to draw his gun from its holster)

Cannonball: You Yankee tinhorn!  Draw!

Svede: Yumpin’ Yimminy!  Patrick Henry!  You don’t shoot a man for being rude.

Cannonball: Stay out of this, Svede!  (to Digger)  You lowdown, no good carpetbagger, draw!

Digger: Since I don’t have a gun, that’d be difficult.  Besides, my interest in corpses is plantin’ them, not bein’ one.  (with anger)  But I’ll wager this!  I’ll be plantin’ you within the month!

Cannonball: Yella streak right down his back!  ‘Bama plowboy always could lick three Yankees, ‘cause two is always runnin’!  (He laughs and struts up to the bar)

(Digger gets up, picks up his table and chair, and sits down sullenly)

Tina (to Cannonball, scolding him): You naughty boy!  You no do that!  Mr. Digger.  He my friend, too!  Bad hombre come here.  He plug you in tummy!  You bleed all over floor!

Cannonball (with bravado): I ain’t afraid a no man!

Garsen: Tina’s right.  Seems to me you’re lookin’ for trouble.

Cannonball: What d’ ya mean?!  I’m a friendly fella!  Ain’t that right, Svede?

Svede: Yah.

Cannonball: But no man alive talks against Jeff Davis without payin’ for it!

Garsen: Here!  Here now!  The drinks are on me.  You and your friend sit in the corner, and cool off.  Take this bottle, and these glasses.  (gives the bottle and glasses)  And, Tina.

Tina: Si, senor.

Garsen: Give Digger another bottle.  (He hands her a bottle)

(Cannonball and Swede go to the corner table.  Tina gives Digger his bottle)

Garsen: Paid too much for this furniture to have it busted up!

(Kurt Jergens and Big Bill Wretcher enter right)

Big Bill: Set ‘em up, Garsen.  The usual.

Garsen: Sure, Big Bill.  (pause)  Hear you just got back from the reservation up by Cheyenne.

Big Bill: That’s right.  Signed a beef contract with the government.  What’d I tell you about servin’ homesteaders in here?!

Garsen: Well, gee, Bill.  Times are tough.  I gotta make a livin’.

Big Bill (unpleasantly): You been doin’ right well, I hear.

Jergens: Barbed vire!  Hundreds of veet of barbed vire!  Yah!

Big Bill (angrily): Seems everybody’s done real good ‘round here, but Big Bill!  What do you think I should do about that, Garsen?

Garsen: I don’t want any trouble, Bill.

Jergens (looking about the room): Old building here.  Burn vast!  Yah!  Tindervox!

Garsen: I can’t order those men out of here!  They’ve got a right!

Big Bill: You don’t have to.  (to Jergens)  Take care of this.

(Jergens walks over to the corner table, smiling)

Tina: Mester Big Bill.  You leave them alone!

Big Bill: Don’t worry your pretty little head about sodbusters, senorita.  When I’ve finished my business with Joe Garrett and his riff raff, you’re goin’ to be my wife!

Tina: Carrumba!  (She exits hastily left)

Jergens: Sodvusters.  You vill stand up!  (Cannonball and Svede stand)  You vill leave, immediately!

Cannonball: Hey, you can’t order me around!

Jergens: You vish to protest?!

Cannonball: You’re darned right I do!

(Jergens flattens Cannonball against the wall with a straight right)

Svede: Yumpin’ Yimminy!

Jergens: How about you?

Svede: I tink I better go now.

Jergens (indicating the unconscious Cannonball): You vill take him vit you!  Dat is an order!

Svede: Yah!  Yah!  Yust as soon as I wake him up.

Jergens: You vill do it now!  Schnell!  Schnell!  (He whips his riding crop against his boot)

(Svede grabs a hold of Cannonball’s arms and hastily drags him out the right exit.  Jergens returns to the bar)

Big Bill: When Garrett gets wind of this, he’ll be down here quick.  We’ll be ready for him!  (He motions toward the corner table.  Jergens takes a bottle that Garsen relinquishes without protest and sits at the table)

(Shane enters left, a pair of farmer’s pants over his left arm.  He sees Garsen and walks with measured strides over to the bar)

Garsen: What can I do for you, stranger?

Shane: Nobody was in your store.  I want to buy these work pants.

Garsen: Two dollars.  (pause)  You homesteading along the river?

Shane: Working for Joe Garrett.  (Big Bill and Jergens look up with interest)

Garsen: Then I’ll put this on his tab.

(Shane tosses a coin on the bar)

Shane: A shot of sarsaparilla.

Garsen: Coming right up.  (Garsen fills a shot glass with sarsaparilla)

(Shane takes the glass, takes a sip, puts the glass down, and, elbows on the table, glances at the two men at the corner table.  Kurt Jergens gets up from the table and saunters over to the bar)

Jergens (to Garsen): You vill give us vone more bottle!  (Garsen finds another bottle and places it on the bar.  Meanwhile, Jergens looks Shane over deliberately.  Then, disdainfully)  Hello, farmer.

Shane (after finishing his drink, mildly): Speaking to me?

Jergens: You are standing here, yah?  (pause)  Haf a man’s drink!

(Jergens pours Shane a glass of whiskey and places it in front of Shane.  Shane reaches for the glass, his hand trembles, and he pulls it back)

Jergens (sarcastically, to Digger): Dis farmer doesn’t drink vhiskey!  Just … sodie pop!

(Shane looks away, anger in his eyes)

Jergens (after a pause, sniffing the air): Garsen.  Vhat is happening here?  It schmells.  Not clean cattleman schmell.  Dirty barnyard schmell.  (He stares at Shane for five seconds)  You.  Farmer.  Vhat you and Garrett raising?  Pigs?

Shane (after a relaxed pause, to Garsen): I’ll have a clean glass.  (Garsen gives him one.  Shane pours sarsaparilla into it.  To Jergens) Sodie pop.  Drink up.  The bubbles will take your smell out of your nose.

(Jergen’ss eyes bug out.  He raises his right fist.  Shane slaps him three times very rapidly.  Jergens shakes his head, stunned)

Shane (calmly): You forgot your drink.

(Jergens stares at the glass a moment, then throws a round-house right.  Shane steps inside the blow and delivers a blow low into Jergens’s stomach.  Jergens gasps; his head comes down.  Shane grabs Jergens’s hair with his left hand and, with his right knee, connects with Jergens’s chin.  Jergens flips over backwards and lies totally still.  Shane looks at him for five seconds and then walks carefully over to Big Bill)

Shane (after a pause, softly): Perhaps you have something to say about soda pop, or pigs.

(Big Bill remains totally motionless, too afraid to move.  After a ten second pause, Shane walks slowly to the right exit, stops, and turns)

Shane: All things change, Wretcher.  Give a little.

 (Big Bill remains rigidly silent)

 (Shane, after a reasonable pause, strides out the right exit)

Big Bill (after a five second pause): Who was that man?!

Digger: He calls himself … Shane.  But I thought he was a souse!

Big Bill (after a five second pause): Garsen!

Garsen: Yes sir.

Big Bill: Send off a telegram to Cheyenne.  (pause, then slowly, with emphasis) Send it to … Stark Verisimilitude!  (An ominous chord of music is heard)

Digger (with shocked alarm): The vicious gun fighter?!

Big Bill: Look to your coffins, undertaker.  And your embalming fluid!  (He gets up and walks to Digger’s table)  Garrett and Shane are dead men!  (He turns, walks grimly to the bar, snaps his fingers at Garsen)  Garsen, that telegram!  (He and Garsen exit left)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Scenes Three and Four the actors and actresses of my invented characters occupy the stage.
Shootout at Garsen's Saloon -- Part One
Scenes Three and Four
Cast of Characters
            Joe Garrett, leader of the homesteaders
            Marian Garrett, Joe’s wife
            Grandma Garrett, Joe’s mother
            Johnny Garrett, dim-witted 16 year old son
            Bonnie Garrett, 12 year old daughter
            Cannonball Stone, fiery-tempered homesteader
            Opal Stone, 16 year old daughter
            Rocky Stone, 14 year old son
            Svede Svenson, Swedish homesteader
            Ebenezer Erp, town preacher
            Alley Erp, Ebenezer’s wife
            Hannah Erp, bad-breathed 16 year old daughter
            Big Bill Wretcher, cattle boss of the valley
            Rachael Wretcher, flirtatious 16 year old daughter
            Kurt Jergens, Big Bill’s German, bully-boy foreman
            George Garsen, owner of Garsen’s Saloon
            Tina Tintinnabulation, saloon girl
            Digger Phelps, undertaker and barber
            Widow Winslow, man-hunting, 35 year old widow
            Shane, gunfighter trying to escape his past
Time: 1880s
Place: Shoshone Hole, Wyoming
Scene Three
(The Widow Winslow appears in front of Garsen’s Mercantile and Saloon.  Seeing someone approach, she stops suddenly, looks concerned a moment, touches her hair as if to make its appearance better, and then become quite poised.  Digger Phelps appears left)
Widow (stepping in front of Digger): Why, Mr. Phelps.  (warmly)  You are the picture of health this afternoon, I do declare.  Do I detect a radiant glow in those cheeks of yours?  I hope the cause is those two dances we shared last night at the barn raising festivities.
Digger: To tell you the truth, Widow, my spirits are high as a hawk.  Can’t hide it, I guess.  I put Old Lady Lancaster under on Boot Hill this morning.
Widow (flirtatiously): Mr. Phelps.  As I told you last night, after our first dance, my name is “Cynthia,” not “Widow.”
Digger: The old bitty bit down hard on a chicken bone.  Got stuck in her craw.  If I’m gonna call you that, guess you’d better call me “Digger.”
Widow (smiling romantically): “Digger”!  Such a manly name!
Digger: Now if you’ll excuse me, ma’am, I’ll …
Widow: “Cynthia”!
Digger: I’ll just mosey in to the bar and put more glow in these here cheeks, with some Red-Eye!  (He tips his hat and exits right)
Widow (watching him leave): Such a fine figure of a man!
(Mrs. Alley Erp enters left)
Mrs. Erp (seeing the widow, whose back is turned to her): Mrs. Winslow.
Widow (turning about): Mrs. Erp.  How nice to see you again.
Mrs. Erp: I wanted to thank you for your floral arrangement at last Sunday’s service.  Some of it, however, contained rag-weed.  My husband had a sneezing attack in the middle of his sermon.
Widow: Oh dear!  (pause)  Next time Digger Phelps gives me flowers after one of his funerals, I will be more careful.
Mrs. Erp: Don’t reproach yourself, my dear.  Ebenezer is a stuffed shirt who needs to look foolish now and then.  (pause)  I couldn’t help seeing you speaking with Mr. Phelps just now.  I hope you and he will be participants in a marriage ceremony.
Widow: Oh my stars, yes!
Mrs. Erp: He needs the influence of a good woman!
Widow: And I need a man!  Uh, … a good man, I mean.
Mrs. Erp: Yes, … a good man is hard to find.
(Garsen appears left and approaches)
Garsen (in passing): Good afternoon, ladies.
Mrs. Erp: Mr. Garsen.
Widow (warmly): Hello, George.  You’re looking well today.
(Garsen stops, turns about)
Garsen (congenially): Widow Winslow.
Widow: You are such a good dancer, George.  I did enjoy our two dances last night!
Garsen: My pleasure, Widow.
Widow: “Cynthia.”  As I told you last night.
Garsen: Yes.  Good day.  (He bows politely and exits right)
Mrs. Erp (after a pause, an eyebrow raised): Perhaps it should be you and Mr. Garsen at that ceremony!
Widow (after a pause, with anguish): Oh, Mrs. Erp!  Is it sinful to like men so?!
Mrs. Erp (taken aback): My dear woman, you are speaking to a minister’s wife!
Widow: Yes, of course.  Forgive me.
Mrs. Erp: Ebenezer has never done anything sinful in his life!  (pause)  He’s incredibly boring!
(Grandma Garrett enters left with Bonnie.  She sees Widow Winslow and makes a face.  The widow stiffens)
Grandma (passing): Well!
Widow: Humph!  (Grandma and Bonnie exit right.  To Mrs. Erp) Some people have no concept of age!
Mrs. Erp: Forgive me, Mrs. Winslow, but I must prepare for my Young People’s Gathering.
Widow: And I must finish that frock I’m mending.
(They smile at each other.  Mrs. Erp exits right)
Widow (exiting left): So that old crow, Grandma Garrett, thinks she can steal Digger and George away from me, does she?  Humph!  (She exits left)
Scene Four
(In a private room off Garsen’s store and saloon.  The Reverend Ebenezer Erp and his daughter Hannah enter left)
Hannah: Oh, Father.  I’m so troubled.  May I speak to you privately before Mother begins the Young People’s Gathering?
Erp: Of course, my dear.  I am open to all who bear the troubles of life.  It is my duty to listen.  Speak.  But at a distance.
Hannah: Father, I think it is time I should marry!
Erp (abruptly): I don’t want to hear about it!
Hannah: But, Father.  I am a year older than Mother was when you married her.
Erp: Age had nothing to do with our marriage!
Hannah (stepping up close to him): You didn’t have to get married, did you?
Erp: Certainly not!  (moves behind a table)  If we must talk, let’s … keep this table between us.
Hannah: Well, then why can’t I get married?!
Erp: For one very good reason.  I knew the kind of man your mother was marrying!  Me!  Totally upstanding, honorable, a credit to humanity!  The only thing I know about the man you will marry is that he will have no sense of smell whatsoever!
Hannah (after a perplexed expression): Are you criticizing my cooking again?  Father, I’m getting better!  Really!
Erp: Let me just say, I do not know your intended spouse; and until I do, I forbid your marriage.
Hannah: Father, you know him well!  For the past year he has listened to your sermons with his family every Sunday!
Erp (nodding approval): Hmmm, that is in his favor.
Hannah: Yes.
Erp: Who is this attentive boy?
Hannah (bashfully): Oh, he’s so handsome.  (enthusiastically)  Johnny Garrett!  (factually)  He’s very shy.
Erp: That is also in his favor.
Hannah: I just know he would propose if he weren’t so shy.  Every time I get close to speak to him, he just … shies away!
(Mrs. Erp enters left)
Rev: Ah, your intrepid mother.  Alley, my dear.
Mrs. Erp: Ebenezer!  My Young People’s Gatherings are such a success!  Mrs. Jensen’s two daughters will be joining us today!
Erp: Jacquelin and Janice.  I have trouble keeping the two of them straight.
Mrs. Erp: Well, one of them is nice … and the other one isn’t.
Erp: I am certain your saintly presence will perform miracles.  You have already transformed that jezebel Rachel Wretcher into a virtuous, refined young lady.
Mrs. Erp: “The music that can deepest reach
                    And cure all ill is cordial speech”! 
… Emerson.  Come, Hannah.  You will help me prepare refreshments.  Our guests will be arriving shortly.  (They exit left)
Erp: Emerson.  I will work several of his quotations into my next sermon.  (He exits right)
(Five seconds later Johnny Garrett enters left)
Johnny: Gee.  I’m early.  Nobody’s here.
(Rachel Wretcher enters left, sneaks up behind Johnny, and puts her hands over his eyes)
Rachel: Guess who?
Johnny: Well, I know you aren’t Hannah Erp.
Rachel: My breath is much sweeter!  (She exhales on him)  See?
Johnny: It is!
Rachel (romantically): So are my lips!  (pause)  Guess who I am and I’ll … demonstrate.
Johnny (after a pause): Oh gee.  This is an important decision.
Rachel: Um hmm.
Johnny: And I’m so bad at making guesses.
Rachel: Then I’ll give you a hint.  (Johnny nods his head in agreement)  My father is very well known in this valley!
Johnny: Oh, I think I know who you are!
Rachel: Boys have always liked me!
Johnny: I do, too!
Rachel: And about boys I’m really fussy!
Johnny (sadly): I know.
Rachel: One of my best features is my lovely hair!
Johnny (enraptured): Like hay dryin’ after a summer rain!
Rachel (perplexed): What?!
Johnny: Don’t say another word!  It’s you!  I know it!
Rachel (softly): Then say my name and … receive your reward.
Johnny: Opal Stone!  (He spins around.  His face freezes in surprise)  Rachel Wretcher!
Rachel (angrily): Opal Stone, am I?!
Johnny: Well, your clues, they seemed to say …
Rachel: My daddy rules this valley!  How could you miss that clue?!
Johnny: Well, Opal’s father is well known, too.
Rachel: How?!  He’s a no good homesteader!
Johnny: Anyone with the name Patrick Henry Robert E. Lee Beauregard Jackson “Cannonball” Stone has got to be well known.
Rachel: All right.  Maybe so.  But what about boys always liking me?!  I have to drive them off with a stick!
Johnny: They’ve always liked Opal, too!
Rachel (with irritation): So what are you saying?!  You like that … little straw-headed broom stick more than ….  (warmly) … passionate, dark and desirous me?
Johnny: Well, … don’t take offense … but …. yes!
Rachel (whirling about, her back to him): Impossible!  I don’t believe it!
Johnny: I’m sorry but it’s true.
Rachel (whirling back to face him): I’m warning you, Johnny Garrett!  My daddy has spoiled me rotten!  Whatever I want, I get!
Johnny: Oh, that’s terrible.
Rachel: And right now I want you!  (pause)  Come here!
Johnny (back against the wall): Oh no, you’re wrong!  My face!  Look at my face!
Rachel (putting her hands on his shoulders): What about your face?
Johnny: It looks like a ferret!
Rachel: I like ferrets.  They’re cuddly.
(Mrs. Erp and Hannah Erp enter left)
Mrs. Erp (entering): Hannah, I am going to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s stirring poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”!
Hannah: Wonderful, Mother!  It’s so exciting!  (sees Johnny)  Mr. Garrett!
Mrs. Erp: And Miss Wretcher!  I am so pleased that you have attended my weekly gatherings this past month.
Rachel: I’ve had … (glances at Johnny) … strong reasons to, ma’am.
(Mrs. Erp, misinterpreting, smiles)
Hannah (going over to Johnny): Mother is going to read Longfellow!  (She takes his arm)  Would you sit beside me?  I want to study your reactions!  (She smiles.  He makes a face, reacting to her bad breath) Is something wrong?  Oh, I bet you don’t like Longfellow!  (She seats him in one of the two wooden chairs, moves the other one next to the first chair, and sits in it)
Mrs. Erp: Miss Wretcher.  You may occupy the couch.  Others, I am certain, will arrive shortly.
(Opal Stone enters left)
Mrs. Erp: Ah, Miss Stone.  (pause)  I do not see your learned brother with you.  Will he not be attending?
Opal: Rocky should have been here ten minutes ago.  (looks about the room)  That’s strange.  But, then, he is strange!
Hannah: Mother, you said the Jensen girls would attend.  They aren’t here either.
Mrs. Erp: So I see.  Perhaps they were detained.  Hannah, would you please look down the street to see if they approach?
Hannah: Certainly.  (She gets up and exits left)
(Mrs. Erp busies herself with her book of poetry.  Opal sits down on the couch next to Rachel, who makes a face.  Johnny looks back at Opal.  Rachel gets up and sits in the chair next to Johnny.  Johnny gets up and sits on the couch next to Opal)
Johnny: Hello, Opal.  Gee, you look pretty.
Opal (distantly): Thank you.  I have good reason to be.
Johnny: Really?!  Does it … have anything to do with … this gathering?
Opal: Everything.
Johnny: And a boy you like?
Opal: A man.
Johnny: Well, …. thank you.
Opal: Why?
Johnny: Well, I’m only sixteen.
Opal: What are you talking about?
Johnny: I always thought you never noticed me.
Opal: I’ve noticed you.
Johnny: You have?!
Opal: Who could miss that ferret face of yours?
Johnny: Oh, you like it, too!
Opal: No.  I don’t.  Excuse me.  I’ve got to get out of here.  (She gets up and walks over to Mrs. Erp, who looks up as she approaches)  Mrs. Erp, I’ll go look for my brother.
Mrs. Erp: Certainly, dear.
(Rachel gets up and sits on the couch beside Johnny)
Rachel: I could have told you before … that Opal Stone is after my daddy’s foreman, Kurt Jergens, and comes in here only as an excuse to sneak out and see him in the bar.
Johnny: I don’t believe it!
Rachel: Oh no?  Then why is it she always leaves in the middle of the readings?
Johnny: I thought the poetry made her weak-kneed and fainty.
(Hannah Erp enters left)
Hannah: Mother, they are not in sight.
Mrs. Erp: I don’t understand this.  Maybe we should disband today’s gathering?
Hannah: Oh no, Mother.  Do begin.  (She sits next to Johnny and smiles at him.  Johnny and I would like to listen.  (Johnny reacts to her bad breath)
Johnny (getting up): Excuse me please!  I … feel faint.
Rachel (getting up): Mee, too!  I’m getting weak-kneed and fainty.
Mrs. Erp: I think I will cancel today’s gathering.  (smiling)  We shall meet again next week.
(Johnny and Rachel, smiling politely, exit left)
Hannah (smiling): He wasn’t really going to faint, was he, Mother?
Mrs. Erp: No, dear.
Hannah: He’s just too shy to sit with me.  Isn’t he sweet?
Mrs. Erp: Shy nothing!  It’s your leaf-curling bad breath!
Hannah (after an anguished pause, walking over to her mother): Bad breath?!  Mother, what can I do?!
Mrs. Erp: Stand away from me!
Hannah: No, no!  What should I do?
Mrs. Erp: Have Digger Phelps yank out that bad tooth!
Hannah: My tooth?  It’s my tooth?
Mrs. Erp: You wouldn’t have it out before!
Hannah: I didn’t want that undertaker touching my teeth!  But now …
Mrs. Erp: Then you had better hurry.  Miss Wretcher’s emotional state, it seems, has nothing to do with Ralph Waldo Emerson!
Hannah: You mean, she … Johnny?  Let’s go!  (They exit left)