The village green before the churchyard and the yew-trees at the
gate. Into the pitch dark under the yews, light comes out
through the half-open church door. Figures are lurking, or
moving stealthily--people waiting and listening to the sound of
a voice speaking in the church words that are inaudible.
Excited whispering and faint giggles come from the deepest yew-
tree shade, made ghostly by the white faces and the frocks of
young girls continually flitting up and back in the blackness.
A girl's figure comes flying out from the porch, down the path
of light, and joins the stealthy group.
WHISPERING VOICE OF MERCY
Where's 'e got to now, Gladys?
VOICE OF CONNIE
Mr. Burlacombe's gone in home, I saw 'im pass by
just now--'e don' like it. Father don't like it neither.
VOICE OF MERCY
Mr. Strangway shoudn' 'ave taken my skylark, an'
thrown father out o' winder. 'Tis goin' to be awful fun! Oh!
[She jumps up and dawn in the darkness. And a voice from far in
the shadow says: "Hsssh! Quiet, yu maids!" The voice has
ceased speaking in the church. There is a moment's dead
silence. The voice speaks again; then from the wheezy little
organ come the first faint chords of a hymn.]
VOICE OF MERCY
'Twill be funny, with no one 'ardly singin'.
[The sound of the old hymn sung by just six voices comes out to
them rather sweet and clear.]
GLADYS [Softly] 'Tis pretty, tu. Why! They're only singin' one
[A moment's silence, and the voice speaks, uplifted, pronouncing
the Blessing: "The peace of God----" As the last words die away,
dark figures from the inn approach over the grass, till quite a
crowd seems standing there without a word spoken. Then from out
of the church porch come the congregation. TIM CLYST first,
hastily lost among the waiting figures in the dark; old MRS
Potter, a half blind old lady groping her way and perceiving
nothing out of the ordinary; the two maids from the Hall, self-
conscious and scared, scuttling along. Last, IVY BURLACOMBE
quickly, and starting back at the dim, half-hidden crowd.]
[Ivy sways, darts off towards the voice, and is lost in the
VOICE OF FREMAN [Low] Wait, boys, till I give signal.
[Two or three squirks and giggles; Tim CLYST'S voice: "Ya-as!
Don't 'ee tread on my toe!" A soft, frightened "O-o-h!" from a
girl. Some quick, excited whisperings: "Luke!" "Zee there!"
"He's comin'!" And then a perfectly dead silence. The figure
of STRANGWAY is seen in his dark clothes, passing from the
vestry to the church porch. He stands plainly visible in the
lighted porch, locking the door, then steps forward. Just as he
reaches the edge of the porch, a low hiss breaks the silence.
It swells very gradually into a long, hissing groan. STRANGWAY
stands motionless, his hand over his eyes, staring into the
darkness. A girl's figure can be seen to break out of the
darkness and rush away. When at last the groaning has died into
sheer expectancy, STRANGWAY drops his hand.]
STRANGWAY [In a loco voice] Yes! I'm glad. Is Jarland there?
You're right--all of you! I'm not fit! An uneasy and
excited mustering and whispering dies away into renewed silence.
What I did to Tam Jarland is not the real cause of what
you're doing, is it? I understand. But don't be troubled. It's all
over. I'm going--you'll get some one better. Forgive me, Jarland.
I can't see your face--it's very dark.
STRANGWAY [starting at the sound of his own words thus mysteriously
given him out of the darkness] Whoever found that, please tear it
up! [After a moment's silence] Many of you have been very kind to
me. You won't see me again--Good-bye, all!
[He stands for a second motionless, then moves resolutely down
into the darkness so peopled with shadows.]
UNCERTAIN VOICES AS HE PASSES
Good luck, zurr! [He has gone.]