The Price (One Act) adapted from After Many Days by L. M. Montgomery edited by Rea Wilmshurst Characters: Christine North Dr. Ward Lennox Agatha North Jacky Jennie Keefe Nurse Ransome Lady #1 Lady #2 Scene One INT. CHRISTINEíS HOUSE Agatha is sitting up in bed. Christine and Nurse Ransome are on one side of the bed. Dr. Ward Lennox on the other. DR. WARD LENNOX Well, Agatha, youíre out of danger. Now if youíll just take proper care of yourself, youíll be as well as ever. AGATHA Well, I see you can talk. Youíre such a quiet doctor, I was beginning to think you were a bit dull. So Iím going to get better? Thatís good. I want to live; there are many things I must do yet. Iím glad I wonít die and leave my grand piano and those magnolia trees and the garden I mean to continue working in when I get fully better. Christine laughs and pulls Dr. Lennox to the side. CHRISTINE Oh Ward, you donít know how wonderful it is for Agatha to say such a whimsical thing like that again. She was so ill with her attack of bronchitis. With the complications, I didnít think sheíd make it, but now sheíll soon be her old self again [exits]. NURSE RANSOME Sheís a wild, spoiled, chatterbox, Dr. Lennox. And sheís far too intimate with the Keefes. A gossipy woman like Christine might ruin your practice. DR. WARD LENNOX I took a notion to ask her to marry me the first time I set eyes on her. Now I will, if I can only manage to get up the courage. The only thing I heartily disapprove of is her closeness to Jennie Keefe. But once sheís my wife, Iíll see to it that she stops associating with those Keefes. NURSE RANSOME [laughs] Once sheís your wife. DR. WARD LENNOX [calls loudly] Christine! CHRISTINE [enters] Yes, Ward. DR. WARD LENNOX Give this medicine to Agatha. Sheíll need four pills, twice a day. Give her these if she has another attack, or cannot sleep. Be sure to give her only one of these tablets. One at the most, Christine. Two could worsen her condition, and three could kill her. CHRISTINE Thank you Ward. DR. WARD LENNOX Donít let Agatha get out of bed. She must lie in there for another week yet, so she doesnít exert herself. AGATHA You tyrant! My heart isnít what will kill me. I have the same type of heart as my grandmother; she lived for a century. Iím also going to live for one hundred years and do incredible things. Iím going to continue with my missions societies, write books, and I will live to see your grandchildren, Christine [laughing]. CHRISTINE Good night, Ward, itís getting late. Dr. Ward Lennox exits. Nurse Ransome and Christine by Agathaís bedside later. NURSE RANSOME Do you remember everything Dr. Lennox told you about Agathaís pills? CHRISTINE Yes, yes! Iím not a child; donít keep looking over my shoulder. Iím an adult, now. Nurse Ransome exits. AGATHA Do you have my pills? Iím not so well. CHRISTINE Here they are. AGATHA Iím so restless. Give me one of those strong pills so I can get to sleep. CHRISTINE Here you are [Sits in adjoining chair and falls asleep. Waits five seconds. Awakens abruptly. Rises drowsily]. Agatha, itís midnight. Are you feeling alright? AGATHA Yes. While Iím up, I may as well take my prescribed dosage. Hand me a couple of those pills, Christine. Iím very weak Christine. CHRISTINE Do you need anything else? AGATHA No, poor child. Soon Iíll be better, and you wonít have to stay awake half the night on account of me. Agatha falls asleep. CHRISTINE Oh, there is no shadow of a doubt that Iím the prettiest girl in town. Oh and the happiest. I canít even begin to imagine how happy Iíll be when Iím Wardís wife. Of course, I may not settle down so soon. I despise children and housework and the whole routine of a housewife! And I know Ward doesnít like Jennie Keefe, but thatís just something heíll have to get over. Well, itís morning. I suppose Iíll go see Jen. I havenít been anywhere since Agatha took sick, but there isnít any need to shut myself up here any longer. Agatha? Agatha, dearest [screams, views the tablets on the table, picks the bottle up]. No. Oh no! What pills did I give Agatha at midnight? Not the sleeping pills! I remember now: I was drowsy and was not paying any attention at all. I gave her four, and Ward said three would be fatal. I killed her. Dr. Ward Lennox and Nurse Ransome enter. CHRISTINE Sheís dead, but she canít be dead. Itís impossible foolishness! DR. WARD LENNOX Everything was done that could be done, Christine. Agatha died of heart failure. I thought that it was a possibility. Did you give her the regular medicine? CHRISTINE I did, then she went to sleep again. NURSE RANSOME Did anything unusual happen? Did she complain about anything? CHRISTINE No, nothing unusual happened. DR. WARD LENNOX She must have died at two oíclock. Strange you didnít notice she was dead until morning. CHRISTINE I thought she was asleep. NURSE RANSOME and DR. WARD LENNOX exit. CHRISTINE No one must ever know. I wonít confess it, because that wouldnít do Agatha any good. Besides that might bring harm to me. They might not believe that I didnít kill her purposefully. They would say I did it to get her money. I might be sent to prison! Or to have them think I poisoned my own dear cousin through sheer carelessness, who brought me up when my parents died and mothered me. I have robbed her of life. I will not have life myself. Iíll just have to do without the things Iíve had before. I canít have any pleasure. I can never marry Ward now. I have my unconfessed guilt standing in the way. I killed poor Agatha who wanted so much to live! I will never tell. It must never be known. Scene Two DR. WARD LENNOX Oh dearest, I understand your grief. Over the past month, youíve lived in absolute solitude and have shut yourself away in this old, large house. I love you deeply, Christine, oh will you marry me? CHRISTINE No, never. DR. WARD LENNOX But you do love me, though? CHRISTINE I do not. DR. WARD LENNOX I donít believe you. There has to be something wrong. Good day. DR. WARD LENNOX exits. Christine looks back after him. CHRISTINE Ward! Christine hangs her head in shame. JENNIE KEEFE enters. JENNIE KEEFE Christine, darling! Wonít you come to the dance tonight? CHRISTINE [Starts to shut door on JENNIE KEEFE] No Jennie. I donít plan to go anywhere today. JENNIE KEEFE How dare you insult me! [exit] CHRISTINE What can I possibly do? I began to scrub the floors, the pots and pans, and to do all the housework, because I hated it so much. Now not only do I not mind it, but I like it. Then I decided to read the Bible every Sunday morning to punish myself only to discover literature and the beauty of its truth. I must atone, to try to pay the price of Agathaís death. Scene Three LADY #1 What a pity Miss Christine North has ceased to be so sociable. I thought the strange change in her would wear off, but it never did. Agathaís death must have affected her mind, somehow. LADY #2 It is well that she was not mixed in the Keefe divorce scandal ten years back. LADY #1 That was a rage! LADY #2 It might have ruined her reputation. Speaking of reputation, she has one for her generosity. She gives huge contributions to all of Agathaís favorite charities. LADY #1 But still there is something overwhelmingly miserly about her. LADY #2 And she never wears anything but severe black. LADY #1 I remembering seeing Dr. Ward Lennox call at her place every other month or so. Rumor had it that he would never give up hope that she would marry him. He has stopped now, though. LADY #2 The Norths have a streak of eccentricity in them. I suppose itís just as well. LADY #1 But I cannot believe she wonít go anywhere save the store and church. LADY #2 Even if she still attends church, she doesnít sing in the choir anymore. LADY #1 Iíve heard that she has adopted a little orphaned boy. LADY #2 A boy! Whatever for? LADY #1 I donít know what her intentions are, or if sheíll be able to take care of him properly. LADY #2 I only hope that the boy is raised to be a Christian. LADY #1 We may have to pray intensely for that to ever happen. Scene Four CHRISTINE [yelling] I donít want to hear any more nonsense about you talking to the girls at school! JACKY I only talked to Emmeline, because she talked to me. Iíd like a dog, Aunty. CHRISTINE A dog? Jacky, havenít you been listening to anything Iíve been saying? JACKY Yes. CHRISTINE No, you canít have a dog. JACKY But every boy must have one. All the others do. You said I could have one the other day, and Mr. Jacobsonís dog just had puppies. CHRISTINE Well, I suppose so. JACKY I also need help with my sums. They seem to be getting harder. CHRISTINE [looking at them] Youíre right. They do seem to be getting harder. Iíll tell you what: weíll look at these later. JACKY Thanks a bunch! CHRISTINE I chipped a blue dish the other day. You can put it in your playhouse for decoration. JACKY Aunty, I donít feel so well [sits down in adjoining chair, restlessly]. CHRISTINE [uses telephone] Hello, is Dr. Abbot there? Heís away? [Dials again] Hello, Dr. Ward Lennox? This is Christine North. You must come here quickly. Jacky is sick. [Helps Jacky to a small bed across the room] DR. WARD LENNOX [enters] Where is he? CHRISTINE Over there. DR. WARD LENNOX He has appendicitis and we must have an operation right away. We canít lose any time. Scene Five INT. WARDíS HOUSE CHRISTINE Hello. DR. WARD LENNOX Christine! Is Jacky doing alright? CHRISTINE Jacky? Oh yes, heís fine. The operation went splendidly. DR. WARD LENNOX You must come in. CHRISTINE Inside? Oh no, I donít mean to stay long. Iíve come to confess something. DR. WARD LENNOX Yes? CHRISTINE I killed Agatha fifteen years ago. I didnít mean to. But I killed her. My conscience has been tearing at me ever since. I had to tell you. DR. WARD LENNOX Christine! CHRISTINE I gave her four sleeping tablets altogether. It was a mistake; it was my carelessness. My mind was elsewhere. Then I gave her the pills and fooled around at the mirror for a couple of hours. I canít believe how vain I used to be. She died, but I never noticed it until morning. I couldnít confess, either. I knew that I should, but I was afraid to. I thought that either my reputation would be ruined, or worse, Iíd be sent to prison. I lied. I lied! I am telling you the truth now. Oh but whatever happens, they canít take Jacky from me. I canít give him up. DR. WARD LENNOX Oh, Christine. You did not kill Agatha. The tablets you gave her were altogether harmless. CHRISTINE What? DR. WARD LENNOX The day before Agatha died, Nurse Ransome told me that she did not think the sleeping tablets would be needed again, so I took them away, wanting them for another patient, as my supply was low. I left an extra bottle of regular tablets in their place. They were harmless; even the whole bottle wouldnít have harmed her. I remember it all distinctly. Nurse Ransome should have told you. I suppose she forgot. There is absolutely no doubt that Agatha died of heart failure. Oh Christine, if only you had trusted me. CHRISTINE If, indeed! Oh I canít believe I didnít kill her, Ward. Iíve believe this for fifteen years. DR. WARD LENNOX Christine, Iíve always loved you. Youíll marry me now? CHRISTINE I think so, Ward.