A Pearl of Great Price



CAST:
ANNOUNCER
SISTER PAULINE
MRS. LOUISE BAKER
MARGARET
LAURA, the wicked stepmother
VICTOR, the father
ROBERT ORSINI
HECTOR, the hunting dog
THEODORE, servant
PAUL, the child
LEO AMATO, the smooth-talking pimp
WOMAN, at church





ANNOUNCER: This is THE HOUR OF ST. FRANCIS.

MUSIC: THEME ... ORGAN ... THEN BEHIND ANNOUNCER--

ANNOUNCER: Our story begins in the office of St. Elizabeth's Home for Unwed 
Mothers. Sister Pauline, director of the home, is walking to the door with 
Mrs. Louise Baker. 

SOUND: A FEW FOOTSTEPS

PAULINE: It was certainly kind of you to bring us all those lovely things, 
Mrs. Baker.

LOUISE: Oh, don't thank me, Sister. It's like I said, that Molly Lewis 
collected them. She just asked me to drop them by because she was tied up 
and-- Oh, I didn't have anything to do this afternoon, so it was no trouble.

PAULINE: Well, since this is your first visit to the Home and you're not in a 
hurry, let me show you around.

LOUISE: (NERVOUS) Oh, no. No, thank you, Sister. I - I'm really-- Well, I'll 
tell you the honest truth. I'd rather not. Places like this depress me. I - I 
don't even like to think they exist.

PAULINE: Nobody does, but they are necessary and we have to face the 
facts.

LOUISE: I just can't imagine what kind of a girl would deliberately-- Well, 
you have to deal with them day after day. New ones coming in all the time; 
it's-- Well, it's just-- Well, it's so sordid and ugly.

PAULINE: Yes, the thing itself is. But when it comes to the girls, 
there's so many things back of it. Sometimes it's hard for me to 
understand, but at those times, there's a picture of one particular girl that 
always comes to my mind. Her name was Margaret. (BEAT) Mrs. Baker, won't you 
sit down? I'd like to tell you about her. I think you'd understand more about 
the Home and what we're trying to do.

LOUISE: Was Margaret one of these girls?

PAULINE: Yes, she was. 

MUSIC: BEHIND SISTER PAULINE--

PAULINE: (NARRATES) She was an exceptionally pretty girl -- and she knew it. 
She was a willful girl -- impetuous, full of life. She lived on a farm, by the 
way, and she found it very dull. But also she was very warmhearted. She had a 
great capacity for affection. She couldn't get along with her stepmother. And 
when she was seventeen, things came to a head.

MARGARET: Father, why can't we move into town? What's the use of grubbing our 
lives away out here? It'd be so wonderful living in town. There's so much to 
see.

LAURA: All you want is to be seen by boys.

VICTOR: Now, Laura. Margaret's only young. She's entitled to some good times.

MARGARET: That's right, Father. And I can't have them here. I want to see 
things and meet people. Can't we move into town, Father? Please?

VICTOR: Now, Margaret, I suppose it is dull for you here. Sometimes I 
think--

LAURA: Victor! If you just want a daughter in your house instead of a wife--

MARGARET: Don't listen to her, Father! She's trying--

LAURA: Victor! 

VICTOR: Oh, will both of you stop?! (MOVING OFF) I never have a moment's peace 
in this house!

SOUND: VICTOR'S FOOTSTEPS AWAY ... DOOR SLAMS AS HE EXITS

LAURA: Oh, you think you're clever, don't you?

MARGARET: I'll find some way to get out of this place.

LAURA: You want to move into town so you can be with that Orsini boy. 
(CHUCKLES) Oh, don't try to look innocent. I know you've been sneaking off to 
see him.

MARGARET: Well, what of it? He comes from the best family around here.

LAURA: And what would a boy from the best family around here want with a girl 
like you? He's interested in a pretty face, but that's all.

MARGARET: He is not! He loves me and I love him.

LAURA: Oh, what do you know about love?

MARGARET: More than you ever will. All you know is how to be jealous.

LAURA: Why, you sassy, good-for-nothing--

SOUND: SLAP!

MARGARET: (STARTLED SQUEAL, BEAT) You slapped me.

LAURA: Yes! And I should have done it a long time ago.

MARGARET: Well, you'll never touch me again. You hate me. You've always hated 
me. I'm leaving this house and I'm never coming back!

LAURA: Go on, get out. See how far you'll get. Oh, some day you'll come 
crawling back.

MUSIC: TRANSITION

MARGARET: That's why I just had to see you, Robert. I don't know what 
to do. I won't go back home.

ROBERT: All right, sweetheart, all right. I'll - I'll, uh, think of something.

MARGARET: Well, can't we get married now?

ROBERT: Well, there's nothing I'd like better -- if only my parents weren't so 
difficult. They'll come around before long to the idea of my marrying somebody 
I choose, but, just now, we can't let 'em know.

MARGARET: Well, what am I gonna do? (WEEPS QUIETLY)

ROBERT: (SOOTHING) Aw, now, now -- it isn't that bad. (GETS AN IDEA) Wait, I 
just thought of something.

MARGARET: What?

ROBERT: Yes. Look, one of our maids left this week. Well, you're the 
new maid. I'll arrange it.

MARGARET: A maid?

ROBERT: Margaret -- don't you love me?

MARGARET: Of course I do. You know that.

ROBERT: (HUNGRILY) Well, show me -- with a kiss. Oh, you're beautiful.

MARGARET: (THEY KISS; PASSIONATELY) Oh, Robert. I love you. I love you.

ROBERT: Well, then trust me, sweetheart. With you as a maid, we'll be in the 
same house, we'll see each other every day. Think of all the times we can be 
together.

MARGARET: Oh, Robert, it'll be heaven. I'll do anything you say. Only love me, 
Robert. Love me.

MUSIC: TRANSITION

ROBERT: Now, Margaret, I told you. I have to have time to think.

MARGARET: That's what you've been saying, Robert, but with the baby coming, I 
can't stay here any longer.

ROBERT: No, you certainly can't. Well, there's only one way out. We might as 
well take it. I have that hunting lodge in the mountains. You can go there. 

MARGARET: But--

ROBERT: Now, wait a minute, let me finish. You'll live like a queen. No more 
being a maid. You'll have servants of your own. Everything you want.

MARGARET: There's only one thing I want now.

ROBERT: What's that?

MARGARET: Robert, do I have to tell you? A child coming and me not married? 
Everybody'll know.

ROBERT: Now, Margaret, nobody could be more sorry about this than I am, but-- 
Do you realize that my family could disown me? They'd put both of us out in 
the street.

MARGARET: Don't you love me any more, Robert?

ROBERT: Come here. Kiss me. (THEY KISS) Now can you ask me that?

MARGARET: Oh, why do I love you so much? I prayed not to.

ROBERT: What?

MARGARET: I know it's wrong. It's wrong. When I'm alone, I pray God to save 
me. When I was young, I prayed for love. I thought it was the only happiness. 
I never dreamed it could be such torment.

ROBERT: (SLYLY MOVING IN FOR ANOTHER KISS) Is there torment in this?

MARGARET: (THEY KISS, PAUSE, FLATLY) I'll go anywhere. Do anything you say. 
(PAUSE) All right, Robert. I'll go and stay at the lodge.

MUSIC: TRANSITION

SOUND: FROM OFF, A DOG BARKS AND WHIMPERS IN BACKGROUND

THEODORE: Pardon me, ma'am?

MARGARET: Yes, Theodore? What is it?

THEODORE: Ma'am, didn't Master Robert take the hound, Hector, when he went 
hunting this morning?

MARGARET: Well, yes, of course. The three years we've been at the lodge, he 
never goes hunting without that dog.

PAUL: (APPROACHES) Mama, Hector just came back and Daddy's not with him.

THEODORE: Dog is acting very peculiar. I've got him outside here.

MARGARET: Well, let him in.

THEODORE: Yes, ma'am.

SOUND: THEODORE'S FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR WHICH OPENS ... DOG'S WHIMPERING GROWS 
LOUDER

THEODORE: Here, Hector. Come on, Hec.

MARGARET: (OVERLAPS WITH ABOVE) Hector? Here, Hector. What's the matter, boy?

SOUND: DOG WHIMPERS

MARGARET: Theodore, he'd never leave Robert. Something must be the matter.

THEODORE: I've never seen him act like this before.

MARGARET: Keeps pulling on my dress. I think he wants me to follow him.

THEODORE: Yeah.

MARGARET: Hector? You want me to come with you, find Robert? Theodore, will 
you come with me?

THEODORE: Yes, ma'am.

MARGARET: Paul, you stay here.

THEODORE: (TO HECTOR) Come on, hut.

SOUND: SCENE FADES OUT ... TRANSITIONAL PAUSE ... THEN FADE IN HECTOR'S 
BARKING BRIEFLY

MARGARET: (TENSE) Theodore?

THEODORE: (OFF) Yeah?

MARGARET: Where's Hector gone? I've lost sight of him.

THEODORE: (OFF) He went to that patch of brush to the left, ma'am.

SOUND: THEIR FOOTSTEPS THROUGH BRUSH IN AGREEMENT WITH FOLLOWING--

THEODORE: (OFF) Yeah, there he is.

MARGARET: (RELIEVED) Oh.

THEODORE: (OFF) Follow me, ma'am. I'll break a path for you.

MARGARET: All right.

SOUND: THEODORE BREAKS A PATH THROUGH BRUSH ... DOG BARKS, OFF

THEODORE: (OFF, CALLS) Master Robert?! Master Rob--?!

SOUND: MOVEMENT THROUGH BRUSH STOPS DEAD

MARGARET: (BEAT) What--? Theodore, what is it?

SOUND: DOG MOANS MOURNFULLY

THEODORE: (OFF) Master Robert. Dead.

MARGARET: (GASPS)

THEODORE: (OFF) Stabbed in the back.

MARGARET: (HORRIFIED) Robert! (WEEPS) 

MUSIC: TRANSITION

SOUND: MARGARET'S FOOTSTEPS AS SHE WALKS SLOWLY ONTO WOOD PORCH ... THEN IN BG

PAUL: (WEARY) Mother? Where are we going? (NO ANSWER) Mother, where are we 
going? Why did we leave home?

MARGARET: We couldn't stay, Paul. We couldn't stay. This is home here. This is 
our little house.

PAUL: I don't like it. I want our own house. I want Theodore.

MARGARET: Hush, hush, dear.

SOUND: FOOTSTEPS OUT ... KNOCK ON DOOR 

PAUL: I want a drink of water.

SOUND: DOOR OPENS

MARGARET: (BEAT) Father?

VICTOR: Margaret?

MARGARET: Robert's dead.

VICTOR: Yes. We heard about it.

MARGARET: Robert's dead and I've come back.

LAURA: (OFF, SHRILL) Victor?! Who is that?! 

SOUND: LAURA'S FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR

LAURA: (CLOSER, WITH CONTEMPT) Oh, it's you.

MARGARET: Robert's dead and I--

LAURA: (HARSH) What are you doing here? You had your fling and now that it's 
over, you come crawling home. I always said you would.

MARGARET: I couldn't stay in that house. I left everything. I couldn't keep 
any part of it.

LAURA: You never worried before how you got it.

MARGARET: I knew it was wrong. I used to cry over it. I wanted to leave, but I 
couldn't. I loved Robert too much. I loved him more than God. And when he was 
dead, I stood by his body and then I thought, "Where is Robert now? Where is 
his soul? Is it lost?" I knew I was to blame as much as he. So I'm going to 
spend the rest of my life making up for what I've done.

LAURA: Hmph! Do you expect anybody to believe that?

VICTOR: Now, Laura, she's had a terrible shock. Margaret, come in, my dear--

LAURA: If that girl sets foot in this house, I leave.

MARGARET: Laura, I came to beg forgiveness--

LAURA: Go back where you came from. What respectable person would have 
anything to do with you? You made your bed, now lie in it.

MARGARET: Father? (NO ANSWER) Father?

VICTOR: (SLOWLY) I'm sorry, Margaret.

PAUL: Can I have a drink of water?

MARGARET: Paul, come on.

MUSIC: TRANSITION

SOUND: MARGARET'S FOOTSTEPS ON CITY STREET... THEN IN BG

PAUL: Mother, what place is this?

MARGARET: Town, Paul. Cortona.

PAUL: I'm tired. Where are we going?

MARGARET: Just a little way. (A PRAYER) God, where are we going? What can I 
do? God help me.

SOUND: [BUMPS INTO LEO AMATO ... FOOTSTEPS OUT]

LEO AMATO: What's the hurry, madam?

MARGARET: Pardon me?

LEO AMATO: Say, I like your looks. What's your name?

MARGARET: Let me pass, please.

LEO AMATO: Now, don't get me wrong. I just thought I could be of some small 
assistance. I never saw a lovely lady like you alone in this part of town 
before, so you must be lost. Are you, uh, meeting your husband someplace?

MARGARET: My husband's dead.

LEO AMATO: Aw, that's too bad. You know, the minute I laid eyes on you, I said 
to myself, "Now, here's a lady that needs cheering up. She's lonesome." Well, 
I'm lonesome, too. How about having dinner with me so we can talk?

MARGARET: No, thank you. Let me pass.

LEO AMATO: Now, we ought to get to know each other. If I like someone, I can 
do a lot for them. You, for instance. Now, how are you gonna take of your 
little boy alone? You'll change your mind.

MARGARET: No!

LEO AMATO: When you do, you ask for me at the Bull and Bear Tavern. The name's 
Leo, Leo Amato. When things get bad, just ask for me.

MARGARET: Paul, come on! Hurry!

SOUND: HURRIED FOOTSTEPS AWAY

MARGARET: (UNDER HER BREATH) Oh, God, not that! Help me! 

SOUND: MARGARET'S FOOTSTEPS CONTINUE BEHIND--

MUSIC: CHURCH BELLS RING ... CONTINUE IN BG

MARGARET: (BREATHLESS FROM HURRIED WALKING)

PAUL: Mother? What are the bells ringing for?

MARGARET: (BREATHLESS) Prayers. Vespers. Evening prayers in the church.

PAUL: All the people are going in. Is that where we're going?

MARGARET: (AN INSPIRATION) Yes, Paul. Yes.

SOUND: MARGARET'S FOOTSTEPS UP THE CHURCH STEPS ... THEN STOP

PAUL: (BEAT) Well, why don't we go in, Mother? It's - it's pretty inside.

SOUND: CHURCH BELLS OUT BEHIND--

MARGARET: (TO HERSELF) No, I can't. I can't. Oh, God, please-- No, not after 
what I've done. I'm afraid. (WEEPS)

SOUND: MARGARET'S FOOTSTEPS START TO MOVE OFF

PAUL: Why are you crying, Mother? Where are we going now?

MARGARET: (TO HERSELF) God, where can I go?

WOMAN: Can I help you?

MARGARET: What?

WOMAN: You seem to be in trouble. Is there something I can do?

MARGARET: No.

PAUL: (IN PAIN) I'm hungry. I want a drink of water.

WOMAN: Oh, you and your little boy both look so tired. Come home with me and 
rest and have something to eat.

MARGARET: No, I couldn't. You don't know me.

WOMAN: Oh, yes, I know you. You're Margaret from the Orsini place.

MARGARET: And you'd still let me in your house?

WOMAN: Well, yes.

MARGARET: Why?

WOMAN: Because whatever you've done, you belong to God and you're in need. 
That makes you belong to me, too. You were going into church when I saw you, 
so -- you haven't forgotten God.

MARGARET: Oh, never. I want to come back.

WOMAN: And you want to make up for the past?

MARGARET: Yes, but what can I ever do for Him?

WOMAN: Don't worry. He'll tell you in His own time. He may even have great 
things for you to do.

MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND SISTER PAULINE--

PAULINE: So, Mrs. Baker, that's how it started. The rest of the story you'll 
find in the history books. How Margaret became a member of St. Francis of 
Assisi's Third Order, like the kind woman who helped her, and how she spent 
her life taking care of the sick and the poor. She lived seven hundred years 
ago, but she is still remembered. She is St. Margaret of Cortona. In fact, her 
body is enshrined incorrupt over the altar of the church she once feared to 
enter.

LOUISE: Well, I've heard of St. Margaret of Cortona, but-- Well, I just 
thought of her as a saint.

PAULINE: It was that one act of kindness that saved Margaret and produced all 
the good she did later -- just because one woman couldn't turn her away. When 
I'm working with the girls here at St. Elizabeth's Maternity Home, I always 
try to remember that.

LOUISE: Well, thank you, Sister. And I'll remember, too.

MUSIC: CURTAIN 

ANNOUNCER: This episode of THE HOUR OF ST. FRANCIS, entitled "A Pearl of Great 
Price," was written for radio by D. J. [Talmie?]. The cast included Peggy 
Webber, Gigi Pearson, Howard Culver, Dick Beals, and Patrick McGeehan.

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Originally syndicated circa 1959