[A Porch in Gospel Flat]

HOST JOE COOK: ... And, as talent seems to run in families, I'm mighty glad to 
have Otis Skinner's famous daughter drawing the crowds in here tonight. Miss 
Cornelia Otis Skinner.

MUSIC: (FOR A GENTLE INTRO, THEN BRIEFLY IN BG, THEN OUT)

(SOUND: APPLAUSE)

JOE COOK: Miss Skinner, I've always enjoyed your sketches, especially the 
historical ones like the Empress Eugenie.

CORNELIA OTIS SKINNER: Thank you, Mr. Cook. The Empress Eugenie is one of my 
favorite characters, too. I like everything about her except one thing.

JOE COOK: Uh, what's that?

CORNELIA OTIS SKINNER: Her hats. 

(SOUND: AUDIENCE LAUGHS MILDLY)

JOE COOK: (CHUCKLES) Well, I don't blame you. They don't look very good on me, 
either.

(SOUND: AUDIENCE LAUGHS LOUDER)

CORNELIA OTIS SKINNER: But, tonight, I'd like to leave the the Empress Eugenie 
and turn to American history in the days of the Forty-Niners.

It was about this time of year that gold was discovered in Sutter's Creek, 
California. Our scene is the porch of a shack in one of the small mining 
settlements. A New England woman, who has migrated out with her husband and 
little son, is sitting talking with her husband's brother.

MUSIC: (A FEW BARS OF "MY DARLING CLEMENTINE" TO SET THE MOOD ... THEN IN BG)

WOMAN: (SLIGHT NEW ENGLAND ACCENT) Good evenin', Tom. Nice evenin', ain't it? 
Didn't go up t' the gulch today?

Well, I don't know as I blame you.

Oh, I ain't been doin' much. Been lookin' after little Jonathan mostly. He 
ain't been feelin' well.

MUSIC: (OUT)

WOMAN: I don't know. The water or somethin' don't agree with him. Any rate, 
he's been runnin' a fever. Have to be so careful, there bein' no doctors 
around. Aye, the problem with a child out here.

Nathan upped his claim.

Yes, 'tis pretty near played out, that stream. But we still got hope, Nathan 
and me. Ain't seen you goin' out lately, Tom. Haven't been feelin' bad, have 
you?

(SERIOUS) You - ya haven't given up hopin', have you?

Oh, Tom, what makes ya give up hopin'?

Hope's 'bout the only thing we got left, any of us.

(INSISTENT, DEFENSIVE) Well, I do! I think there's plenty of gold right here 
in Gospel Flat, only you got to persevere some'hat. Whatcha gonna do, Tom? 
Nothin' much ya CAN do.

(STUNNED) Back home?! You, out for good? 

Ohhh, Tom! How soon?

Sarah and Em are goin' on a train in a month?

Santa Barb'ra? You're goin' all the way by boat! My, that'll take a long time, 
won't it? Be winter when you're around Cape Horn, hope it won't be as stormy 
as they say it is. You'll land in Boston, I suppose. (ABRUPTLY GIGGLES) Just - 
just think o' seein' Boston again! You'll take a sack of letters for us, won't 
you, for the folks back home? 

(GIGGLES) Oh, my. Oh, won't they be glad to see ya, though, your mother and 
father? And soon as you settle a bit, you'll go out to Salem to see my people, 
won't ya?

(NOT VERY CONVINCINGLY) Tell them - we're all right. Doin' as well as could 
be. (STILL CAN'T BELIEVE HE'S LEAVING) Oh, my goodness. (WORRIED) Y' haven't 
told Nathan?

He'll take it hard -- you, his brother, givin' up. Well, it's your life, Tom.

A proposition? What is it?

Take little Jonathan with you?! What for?

Give him a proper education? Y'ain't told Nathan that? He'd think it a good 
idea. 

Yes, it IS a good idea. This is no place for a child, away from God-fearin' 
people and the proper schoolin'. 

Yes, he would be better off back home. But I don't think he'd be happy without 
his mother and--

(ABRUPTLY EMOTIONAL) Tom, I'd die if he was to be taken away from me.

You're a man, Tom, and you don't understand the ways of womenfolk. You don't 
know what it means to give up all ya love and come out to a wilderness where 
you have to put up with bad water and hard tack. Back home, I was somebody. 
Life was decent and sweet. There was neighbors and church meetings and tables 
with fine silver. Out here, it's all quiet ...

MUSIC: (QUIETLY, IN BG)

WOMAN: ... solemn and quiet. Nights when Nathan has to stay out near a claim, 
I lie awake listenin' to the wind in the timber. There's a coyote comes and 
howls over in the hollow there. 

What d'you think I'd do them nights, Tom, if little Jonathan weren't here? If 
I couldn't go tuck him in? If I couldn't watch him sleepin'? Life's a pretty 
lonely thing as it is, Tom. Without little Jonathan-- I just can't even think 
of it.

I see the men, day after day, goin' out with their picks and shovels and, 
night after night, comin' home empty-handed and heartsick. Then all but a few 
like Nathan gets drunk and lawless. He needs little Jonathan, too. We've been 
through too much, the three of us. The long trek out here, the Indian raids, 
and the blizzards [caught?] in the Sierras. I couldn't let him go!

Me? Go, too? 

No. I'm stayin' here. You know, I got a queer notion about this California. 
You and me, we hate it because it's taken us away from all we love. But I 
think someday it's going to be a great and fine place. 

You and me won't see it. We're just the pioneers. But little Jonathan'll see 
some of it and his children will see more. 

(AS IF SHE'S JUST REALIZED IT) And it ain't goin' to come through findin' 
gold. I think - it's goin' to come through tillin' of the soil. Things grow 
better out here. 

(WITH FINALITY) Don't think my heart don't ache for home but - I'll stick by 
m' man and - I know he won't leave.

MUSIC: (OUT)

WOMAN: You goin', Tom?

(WORRIED) Tom, you won't say anything to Nathan about offerin' to take 
Jonathan?

(STARTLED) Ohh, Tom! Look at the sunset!

All gold.

Looks like all California's bein' washed in that gold light. Nice day 
tomorrow.

Good night, Tom.

(AFTER TOM'S EXIT, QUIETLY, TO HERSELF) All California. 

(GRIM) There's that coyote howlin' again.

(FLAT) Nathan's late. 

Mm, guess he's stayin' the night in the gulch.

(SUDDENLY BREAKS DOWN AND CRIES FOR A LONG MOMENT)

(SAVAGELY) Oh, I wish the coyote would stop howlin'! (SOBS)

MUSIC: (IN GENTLY, IN BG)

WOMAN: (LOVING) Oh, yes, Jonathan! (STARTS TO FADE) Mother's comin'! All 
right, honey! I'll be right there!

MUSIC: (TO A FINISH)

(SOUND: APPLAUSE)



_____________________
Originally broadcast: 16 January 1937
on The Shell Show
Written by Cornelia Otis Skinner