Quail Seed (adapted by Julie Hoverson from a story by Saki) 19 Nocturne Boulevard's Reissue of the Week!
Manage episode 348702491 series 2034979
(sorry i missed a couple of weeks - been crazy busy)
A timely tale of marketing and social networking. [Saki was often way ahead of his time!]
Announcer - Jennifer Dixon Mr. Scarrick - John Lingard Jimmy - Will Watt Lucy - Tanja Milojevic [Lightning Bolt Theater] Boy - Reynaud LeBoeuf Man - Anthony D.P. Mann [Horror Etc.] Miss Fritten - Robyn Keyes Mrs. Greyes - Jennifer Dixon Mrs. Gordon - Judith Moore Gloria - Beverly Poole Other women - Julie Hoverson
Music by Kevin McLeod (Incompetech.com) Picture by lucias_clay, found with help from Bill Jones.
Mr. Scarrick, shopkeeper
Lucy, Jimmy's girl
SOUND SHOP DOOR, BELL, FOOTSTEPS
LUCY Hello? Helloooo?
JIMMY [close] Morning, Lucy!
LUCY [startled gasp] Jimmy! There you are. Bit... empty in here, isn’t it?
JIMMY [heavy sigh] A bit.
LUCY But where are all the Christmas shoppers?
JIMMY Shh! Whatever you do, don't ask that in front of Mr. Scarrick. You'll quite set him off.
JIMMY It's all right, he's out at the moment.
LUCY [impressed] He left you in charge?
JIMMY [heavy sigh, morose] Only in the certainty that there won't be a stampede on our services.
LUCY That bad, eh?
SOUND DOOR, BELL, FOOTSTEPS
Miss Smith Hello?
SOUND QUICK STEPS
JIMMY Yes? How may I assist you?
Miss Smith [nervous] Oh, I was -um- just looking for a railway timetable? I'm going up to the city-- [breaks off]
JIMMY Sorry. Clean out. Perhaps next week.
MISS Smith Ah. Thank you.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS, BELL DOOR
LUCY You might have made a sale!
JIMMY She just wanted to look.
LUCY You don't know that.
JIMMY [bitter admission] She's the fourth today. Everyone would rather take the train to town and shop in a big department store than [quoting] bother to take advantage of the convenience--
SOUND DOOR BELL
MISS Jones Hello?
JIMMY ...and that's five.
SCARRICK The outlook is not encouraging for us smaller businesses.
SOUND POURING DRINK
SCARRICK These big concerns are offering all sorts of attractions to the shopping public which we couldn't afford to imitate, even on a small scale--reading-rooms and play-rooms and gramophones and Heaven knows what.
BOY [normal, commiserating] People like shiny objects.
SCARRICK And they don't care to buy half a pound of sugar nowadays unless they can listen to Harry Lauder and have the latest Australian cricket scores ticked off before their eyes.
MAN Seems like quite a trip for sugar.
SCARRICK With the big Christmas stock we've got in we ought to keep half a dozen assistants hard at work, but as it is my nephew Jimmy and myself can pretty well attend to it ourselves. In fact, I've left him in charge. I've never done that before.
BOY I'm sure he'll be fine.
SCARRICK [drinks] It's a nice stock of goods, too. I could run it all off in a few weeks time, but there's no chance of that--not unless the London line was to get snowed up for a fortnight before Christmas.
MAN [musing] How you gonna keep them home on the farm?
SOUND SHOP DOOR, BELL
MRS. GREYES --so tedious, but there it is, and what else is one to do?
MISS FRITTEN We shall simply wait for the next--
SCARRICK May I help you ladies?
MRS. GREYES Oh! [evasive] Really, we just stopped in to see about --- about--
MISS FRITTEN Bootlaces.
MRS. GREYES Bootlaces! Yes! I've been in dire need of some--
SCARRICK [hearty] Of course. Over on the left wall, near the back.
MRS. GREYES Of course. [whispering] You knew he'd try and sell us something if we came in here! Bootlaces indeed. I already have more laces than boots!
MISS FRITTEN At least if we do make a purchase, they're small enough to carry when we go to--
MRS. GREYES Shh!
SCARRICK Finding everything?
MRS. GREYES Oh, yes. This is the best ... um... anchovy paste. Just what I was looking for.
MISS FRITTEN Just lovely!
SCARRICK Perhaps you ladies could help me. I was thinking of adding a little entertainment to the shop.
MRS. GREYES Oh?
SCARRICK I did have a sort of idea of engaging Miss Luffcombe to give recitations during afternoons; she made a great hit at the Post Office entertainment with her rendering of 'Little Beatrice's Resolve'.
MISS FRITTEN [very uncertain] Oh, that would be ...just ... lovely.
SOUND DOOR OPENS, BELL RINGS ODDLY
SOUND ODD FOOTSTEPS ENTER
SCARRICK [excusing himself] Your pardon.
SOUND SCARRICK GOES TO THE COUNTER
MRS. GREYES [whispered] Perhaps we should just do our shopping here.
MISS FRITTEN But I'm in my best hat!
MRS. GREYES Shh! Shh! Look at that!
MISS FRITTEN What an odd looking boy. Brown as a nut, but we've not had sun in weeks!
MRS. GREYES And those clothes. Like something out of the Arabian nights!
BOY [accented now] Six pomegranates, please, and a packet of quail seed.
MISS FRITTEN What's the bowl for?
MRS. GREYES To carry the pomegranates?
MISS FRITTEN Why not a string bag?
MRS. GREYES Allergies? Shh!
SCARRICK [business as usual] Here you are. We have some lovely pomegranates.
MISS FRITTEN He doesn't even look surprised!
MRS. GREYES The boy must have been here before.
SOUND COIN SKITTERING, CAUGHT
BOY The wine and figs were not paid for yesterday. Keep what is over of the money for our future purchases.
SCARRICK [formal and serious] As you wish.
SOUND BOY LEAVES, DOOR SHUTS
SOUND SKITTERING OF LADIES FEET
MISS FRITTEN [to Scarrick, hinting] A very strange-looking boy?
SCARRICK [final] A foreigner, I believe.
MRS. GREYES Does he shop here often? Surely there can't be much call for ...quail seed... at this time of year.
SCARRICK It takes all sorts.
SOUND DOOR OPENS
SOUND HEAVY OMINOUS FOOTSTEPS
MISS FRITTEN [gasp]
MRS. GREYES Oh! [covering her consternation] Oh, I forgot those bootlaces! [hissed] Come on!
SOUND THEY SKITTER AWAY
MAN [accented] I wish for a pound and a half of the best coffee you have.
SCARRICK [wary] Certainly sir.
MRS. GREYES Look at that beard!
MISS FRITTEN Like a comedy Russian.
MRS. GREYES No, more like an ancient Assyrian.
MISS FRITTEN Who do you think he is?
MAN [suspicious] Has a dark-faced boy been here buying pomegranates?
SCARRICK Can't say that I've seen anyone like that.
MRS. GREYES Oh! [muffles self]
MISS FRITTEN [whispered] How could he!
SCARRICK [offhanded] We have a few pomegranates in stock, but there has been no real demand for them.
MAN My servant will fetch the coffee as usual
SOUND COIN SKITTERS, HEAVY FEET START TO WALK AWAY, THEN STOP
MAN [very importantly] Have you, perhaps, any quail seed?
GREYES AND FRITTEN [gasp]
SCARRICK [unhesitating] No. we don't stock it.
SOUND FEET WALK AWAY
MRS. GREYES [whispered] What will he deny next?
MISS FRITTEN And I always believed Mr. Scarrick to be such a truthful man. Heavens! He just presided at a lecture on Savonarola.
SOUND DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES
MRS. GREYES Don't let's bother about the 3.12. Let's dash, and talk this out at Laura Lipping's
MISS FRITTEN Perhaps we should buy a few things first. Since we're here.
MISS FRITTEN [recounting lusciously] Turning up the deep astrakhan collar of his long coat, the stranger swept out of the shop, with the air of a Satrap proroguing a Sanhedrim.
MRS. LIPPING Do Satraps prorogue?
MISS FRITTEN [coldly superior] Have you ever seen one that didn't?
GLORIA I don't even know what a Sanhedrim is. Is it a dance?
MISS FRITTEN It is a simile and hardly matters. Or do I mean an allegory?
MRS. GORDON And the boy?
MRS. GREYES I should have though him Greek, but after seeing that beard--
MRS. LIPPING They could have been unrelated.
MISS FRITTEN Unrelated? And both asking for "quail seed"? Mark my words. There's something afoot.
MRS. GREYES What bothers me most is this unprecedented streak of falsity in our local grocer!
GLORIA I've never known Mr. Scarrick to prevaricate like that before!
MRS. GREYES It's the influence of that artist that took the flat above the shop. Mark my words. [importantly] Bohemian.
MRS. GORDON [tragically] I shall never again be able to believe what he tells me about the absence of colouring matter in the jam.
SOUND DOOR, BELL
LUCY Goodness, it looks like a tornado touched down.
JIMMY Fabulous, isn't it?
LUCY But, what happened?
JIMMY This afternoon, from tea onwards, we had a constant stream of shoppers.
LUCY Is this something to do with the odd individuals who may or may not have been in this afternoon?
JIMMY [overly innocent] Whom do you refer to?
LUCY Come on! It's all over town. People talked about it at tea, and more people talked about it at supper. I expect they're all talking about it over Bridge even as we speak. The dark young man and the Beard.
JIMMY Sounds a bit like a music hall act.
LUCY [speculatively] Yes... yes, it does....
MISS SMITH Is this the freshest jar of pickles?
JIMMY Miss? I suppose so.
MISS SMITH It looks a little dusty.
JIMMY That would be my fault--
SCARRICK [commanding] Jimmy!
JIMMY So sorry, must jump.
MISS FRITTEN [whispered] Do you think they will return?
MRS. GREYES I have it on good authority someone's rented that house at the far end of Plummergen.
MISS FRITTEN But why should they come all this way to shop?
MRS. GREYES [knowing] Plummergen drapers don't stock quail seed.
MISS FRITTEN [getting it] Ah!
SOUND REGISTER NOISE
SCARRICK That will be three shillings and four pence.
MRS. LIPPING I'm looking for something interesting for a savory. Have you any--
SOUND GENERAL HUSH
MRS. LIPPING [nervous] --any, um--
SCARRICK [as if nothing is amiss] I have some pickled olives. Imported from turkey.
MRS. LIPPING Yes, anything.
SOUND JAR SET DOWN, CASH REGISTER
SOUND JABBER BEGINS AGAIN
SOUND DOOR OPENS, BELL, JABBER SLOWLY DIES AWAY.
SOUND BOY WALKS IN.
SOUND BOWL SET DOWN.
SCARRICK [normal] What can I get for you today?
BOY I require a pound of honey.
SOUND BREATH BEING LET OUT ALL OVER
BOY and - [quieter] and a packet of quail seed.
SOUND GENERAL INTAKE OF BREATH, GIGGLE QUICKLY MUFFLED
SCARRICK Very good, sir.
SOUND CONVERSATIONS, FORCED LAUGHTER, BUT MUTED, LISTENING
MISS FRITTEN [excited whisper] We might be living in the Arabian Nights.
MRS. GREYES Hush! Listen!
SOUND THINGS PLACED INTO BOWL, BOWL REMOVED, BOY STARTS TO LEAVE.
SOUND QUICK FOOTSTEPS
JIMMY [hurried, fraught with meaning] We have some very fine Jaffa oranges. Around behind here.
SOUND QUICK SHUFFLE OF FEET
SOUND DOOR OPENS, MAN STRIDES IN.
SCARRICK [unperturbed] What may I get for you today, Sir?
MAN A pound of dates and a tin of the best Smyrna halva.
MISS FRITTEN Halva? What is that?
MRS. GREYES It comes from Smyrna - that's figs, isn't it, Smyrna is?
GLORIA Who would want dates AND figs?
MRS. LIPPING Hush.
SCARRICK There you are.
MAN hmm [evaluating noise] Yes.
SOUND COINS DROPPED
MAN Has the dark-faced boy, of whom I spoke yesterday, been here to-day?
GLORIA [stifled squeak of excitement]
SCARRICK We've had rather more people than usual in the shop to-day... but I can't recall a boy such as you describe.
MRS. GREYES [satisfied] Didn't we say?
MISS FRITTEN It's too too terrible.
MRS. GREYES It is deplorable that anyone - particularly someone in a position such as Mr. Scarrick -should treat the truth as an article temporarily and excusably out of stock.
MISS FRITTEN More quail seed! Those quails must be voracious! [realizing] or else... perhaps it isn't quail seed at all.
MRS. GREYES I believe it's opium, and the bearded man is a detective.
MRS. LIPPING I don't. I'm sure it's something to do with the Portuguese Throne.
MISS FRITTEN More likely to be a Persian intrigue on behalf of the ex-Shah. The bearded man belongs to the Government Party. The quail-seed is a countersign, of course; Persia is almost next door to Palestine, and quails come into the Old Testament, you know.
GLORIA [exasperated] Only as a miracle. [knowing] I've thought all along it was part of a love intrigue.
MRS. LIPPING I distinctly saw a snarl of baffled rage as the man departed, sandwiched between that heavy moustache and upturned astrakhan collar.
GLORIA I can’t imagine that that boy is the guilty party here. Much more likely he's simply perishing of love for someone - perhaps the daughter of the beard, but the match is quite unsuitable--
MISS FRITTEN Honey and pomegranates - of course!!!
SHOP, NIGHT, QUIET
SOUND DOOR, BELL
JIMMY [calling from off] Closed!
LUCY I know, mutton head.
JIMMY Oh, Lucy!
SOUND BROOM DOWN, STEPS
LUCY Another busy day?
JIMMY The busiest. Another day or two of brisk trade and we'll be--[cut off with a gasp]
LUCY [laughing] I was here today, you know.
JIMMY [uneasy] Oh?
LUCY [indulgent] You were quite the hero. Hustling that poor young man off behind the biscuit tins in the very nick of time.
JIMMY [flustered] Well, I have a good view of the street from my post at the cheese and bacon counter.
LUCY [pouty] Jimmy. Have you EVER known me to gossip?
JIMMY You, Lucy? I don’t think so.
LUCY Quite a vote of confidence.
JIMMY I didn’t mean that-- [sigh] No. No I've never known you to gossip.
LUCY Let me in, then! Perhaps there's something I can do to help?
SCARRICK It was quite marvelous! And we sold out of that blasted Halva.
MAN It looked crowded, but were they actually buying?
SCARRICK They bought and bought - some came back three or four times, just to have an excuse to linger.
BOY "Oh, I forgot" and "silly me, one more thing."
SCARRICK exactly. Even those women whose purchases were of modest proportions dawdled over them as though they had, uh--
MAN Brutal, drunken husbands to go home to?
SCARRICK [chuckles] I've even had to take on a couple of extra assistants for tomorrow.
STORE - BUSY
MISS FRITTEN What do you think? Is this bowl anything like the one that young gentleman carries?
MRS. GREYES Nonsense. His is brass. Or bronze, perhaps. That one is copper.
MISS FRITTEN Still, it's got a lovely patina.
MRS GORDON Ducks?
SCARRICK [distracted] Pardon?
MRS GORDON Ducks? I found a lovely recipe for Bombay duck, and was wondering if a domestic duck would suffice.
SCARRICK I suspect that ducks are much the same the world over-- [small gasp]
SOUND DOOR OPENS, BELL
GENERAL EXPECTANT HUSH
MRS GORDON oh!
SCARRICK You'll excuse me.
SOUND BOY'S FOOTSTEPS, SCARRICK MEETS HIM
SCARRICK [overtly confidential] I must warn you--
SCARRICK [as if saying something else] We have run out of quail seed.
MRS GORDON Oh nO!
BOY [shocked and disappointed] Oh. I should-- I must--
SOUND SCUTTLING FEET
JIMMY [excited] We do have some much finer oranges today, if you want to step over here.
BOY [dramatic gasp]
SOUND BOY RUNS
MISS FRITTEN [whispered] Watch the door!
SOUND DOOR SLAMS OPEN, BELL
SOUND OMINOUS FOOTSTEPS
MRS. GORDON [voice over] I found my self sub-consciously repeating "The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold" under my breath.
SCARRICK [very tense] Ah. Coffee again today sir? Perhaps figs?
MAN I am looking for--
LUCY [in disguise, foreign sounding] Jaffa oranges, I think.
MRS GREYES [voiceover] She slithered out of the aisle like the lady in the lake.
LUCY Your Excellency does his shopping himself?
MAN [suspicious] I order the things myself. I find it difficult to make my servants understand.
MISS FRITTEN [voiceover] How ever did we miss a mysterious veiled lady, right in the midst of us all?
LUCY I was saying... They have some excellent Jaffa oranges here. [tinkling laugh]
SOUND HER FEET TAP AWAY TO THE DOOR, BELL
MAN [considering] Hmph.
MRS. GORDON [gasp]
SCARRICK [tense] Yes?
MAN You have, perhaps, some good Jaffa oranges?
GLORIA [voiceover] Everyone expected an instant denial on the part of Mr. Scarrick of any such possession, but before he could answer‑‑
SOUND RUNNING FEET, DOOR, BELL
MISS FRITTEN [voiceover] Holding his empty brass bowl before him he dashed into the street. His face was masked with studied indifference
SOUND THE VOICEOVERS START TO FADE INTO TEA
MRS GREYES Overspread with ghastly pallor!
MRS. LIPPING I would call it blazing with defiance.
GLORIA How defiant could he be! He was so terrified his teeth chattered!
MRS. GORDON I distinctly heard him whistling the Persian National Hymn.
MISS FRITTEN But the bearded man - his face was a mask of abject terror!
MRS GREYES I thought he would dash out after the boy, but he just paced to and fro like a caged animal - seeking an outlet for escape.
GLORIA He couldn't take his eyes off the door.
MRS GORDON Did he ever come back for his purchases? Or send his servant?
MISS FRITTEN I've not had the nerve to ask Mr. Scarrick. The whole thing was so ... overwhelming.
LUCY It was so overwhelming. Trying not to laugh while watching all their faces.
JIMMY You did a fabulous job.
LUCY You like me in a veil?
JIMMY I can think of a veil I'd like to see you in.
LUCY [interested, pleased] Really?
JIMMY Mm-hmm [yes]
SCARRICK I can never thank you fellows enough.
MAN We enjoyed the fun of it. [laughs, then talks like beard] And the figs.
BOY It was a welcome vacation from posing for hours for 'The Lost Hylas'
MAN You just have to sit still. I'm the one who has to make you look good.
SCARRICK What do I owe you?
MAN No, no. It was far too entertaining.
BOY We did get all those lovely pomegranates.
SCARRICK At any rate... I insist on paying for the hire of the black beard.