The Man Who Was Thursday
CBS ANNOUNCER: Next Monday night at this same time, the Lux Radio Theater will
resume its series of broadcasts over the same stations as last year. The first
presentation will be "Spawn of the North," with George Raft, Fred MacMurray,
John Barrymore, Dorothy Lamour and Akim Tamiroff. Remember the first
broadcast, next Monday at 9 p. m., Eastern Daylight Saving Time.
ANNOUNCER: The Mercury Theater on the Air!
MUSIC: THEME ... CONTINUES IN BG ... OUT AT [X]
ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Broadcasting System takes pleasure in presenting Orson
Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air in the ninth and last of a unique
summer series of Monday evening broadcasts; the series which has marked
radio's first presentation of a complete theatrical producing company.
Again tonight, the regularly-affiliated stations of the Columbia Broadcasting
System are joined for this program by a coast-to-coast network of the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. [X]
This evening, our play is Mr. Welles' own adaptation of G. K. Chesterton's
famous novel, "The Man Who Was Thursday." But just before it begins, here is
the director of the Mercury Theater, the star and producer of these
broadcasts, Orson Welles.
WELLES: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. G. K. C. -- Gilbert Keith
Chesterton -- great, greatly articulate Roman convert and liberal, has been
dead now for two years. For a unique brand of common-sense enthusiasm, for a
singular gift of paradox, for a deep reverance and a high wit, and, most of
all, for a free and shamelessly beautiful English prose, he will never be
"It must be wonderful to be famous." According to the story, that's what the
young lady said to the fat man -- the fabulously fat, the fantastic, the
famous fat man -- when he took her to lunch at a fashionable restaurant and
everybody turned and stared. "Tell me," she said, "Do people always recognize
you? Does everybody always know who you are?" "Well, my dear," said Mr.
Chesterton, "If they don't, they ask."
Mr. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" is a little like that. Roughly
speaking, it's about anarchists. 'Twas written, remember, in the boom of bomb-
throwing, in those radical, irresponsible days of the nihilists. And, roughly
speaking, it's a mystery story. It can be guaranteed that you will never,
never guess the solution until you get to the end; it is even feared - that
you may not guess it then. You may never guess what "The Man Who Was Thursday"
is about. But, definitely -- if you don't, you'll ask.
MUSIC: A FANFARE ... THEN OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) I am Gabriel Syme. I am the Man Who Was Thursday.
That particular evening, if it is remembered for nothing else, will be
remembered in that place for its strange sunset. It looked like the end of the
It may be remembered by others, too, because it marked the first appearance in
the place of the second poet of Saffron Park. For a long time, a red-haired
revolutionary had reigned without a rival; it was upon the night of the sunset
that I, Gabriel Syme, ended his solitude.
GREGORY: (ARGUMENTATIVE) Mr. Syme, you say you're a poet of law; I say you are
a contradiction in terms. An artist is identical with an anarchist.
SYME: Mr. Gregory, it is things going right that is poetical. Our digestions,
for instance, going sacredly and silently right. The most poetical thing in
the world is not being sick.
GREGORY: Really, Mr. Syme, the examples you choose--
SYME: I beg your pardon, Mr. Gregory. I forgot we had abolished all
GREGORY: You don't expect me to revolutionise society on this lawn?
SYME: No, I don't, but I suppose that if you were serious about your
anarchism, that is exactly what you would do.
GREGORY: Don't you think, then, that I _am_ serious about my anarchism?
SYME: I beg your pardon?
GREGORY: Am I not serious about my anarchism?
SYME: (NARRATES) I strolled away and left Gregory but, with surprise, and with
a curious pleasure, I found a redheaded young lady still in my company. It was
Rosamund, Gregory's sister.
ROSAMUND: (INNOCENT) Mr. Syme, do the people who talk like you and my brother
often mean what they say? Do _you_ mean what you say now?
SYME: My dear Miss Gregory, when you say 'thank you' for the salt, do you mean
what you say? No. When you say 'the world is round,' do you mean what you say?
No. It is quite true, but you don't mean it.
ROSAMUND: Is he really an anarchist, then?
SYME: Only in that sense I speak of. Or if you prefer it, in that nonsense.
ROSAMUND: He wouldn't really use--bombs or that sort of thing?
SYME: Oh, good Lord, no. That'd have to be done anonymously. (NARRATES) I
strolled with her to a seat in the corner of the garden, and I defended
respectability with violence and exaggeration. I grew passionate in my praise
of tidiness and propriety.
MUSIC: DISTANT BARREL-ORGAN PLAYS A JAUNTY TUNE ... IN BG ... OUT BY [X]
SYME: (NARRATES) All the time there was a smell of lilac around me, and once I
heard, very faintly in some distant street, a barrel-organ begin to play and
it seemed to me that my heroic words were moving to a tiny tune from under or
beyond the world.
In the wild events which were to follow, this girl had no part at all; I never
saw her again until all my tale was over. And yet, in some indescribable way,
she kept recurring like a motive in music through all those mad adventures
afterwards, and the glory of her strange hair ran like a red thread through
those dark and ill-drawn tapestries of the night. [X] For what followed was so
improbable, that it might well have been a dream.
When I left the party and went out into the starlit street, I found Gregory
waiting for me.
GREGORY: Mr. Syme?
SYME: Mr. Gregory.
GREGORY: This evening you succeeded in doing something rather remarkable. You
did something to me that no man has ever succeeded in doing before. You
SYME: I am very sorry.
GREGORY: There is only one way by which that insult can be erased, and that
way I choose. I am going, at the possible sacrifice of my life and honour, to
prove to you that you were wrong in what you said.
SYME: In what I said?
GREGORY: You said I was not serious about being an anarchist. Mr. Syme, may I
ask you to swear by whatever gods or saints your religion involves that you
will not reveal what I am now going to tell you to any son of Adam, and
especially not to the police? Will you swear that? If you will consent to
burden your soul with a vow that you should never make and a knowledge you
should never dream about, I will promise you in return--
SYME: You will promise me in return?
GREGORY: I will promise you -- a very entertaining evening.
SYME: Your offer is far too idiotic to be declined. You say that a poet is
always an anarchist. I disagree; but I hope at least that he is always a
sportsman. Permit me, here and now, to swear that as a Christian, and to
promise as a good comrade and a fellow-artist, that I will not report anything
of this, whatever it is, to the police. And now, what is it?
GREGORY: I think that we will take a cab.
MUSIC: FOR A LIVELY CAB RIDE ... THEN OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) The cab pulled up before a particularly dreary and greasy
beershop. We seated ourselves in a close and dim sort of bar-parlour, at a
stained wooden table with one wooden leg.
GREGORY: Mr. Syme, if in a few moments this table begins to turn around a
little, please don't put it down to the champagne. I don't wish you to do
yourself an injustice.
SYME: Well, if I am not drunk, I am mad, but I trust I can behave like a
gentleman in either situation. May I smoke?
GREGORY: Certainly. Try one of mine.
SOUND: CREAK OF REVOLVING TABLE BEGINS BY [X]
SYME: (NARRATES) I took the cigar and started to light it. Almost before I had
begun [X] the table at which were sitting began to revolve, first slowly, and
GREGORY: You must not mind it; it's a kind of screw.
SYME: (ENJOYS THE RIDE) Quite so, a kind of screw! How simple that is!
(NARRATES) The next moment, we two, with our chairs and table, shot down
through the floor as if the earth had swallowed us.
SOUND: CHAIRS AND TABLE DESCENDING AND LANDING WITH A THUMP
SYME: (NARRATES) Gregory led me down a low, vaulted passage, at the end of
which was a heavy iron door.
SOUND: SMALL METAL WINDOW IN HEAVY IRON DOOR SLIDES OPEN
VOICE: Who is it?
GREGORY: Mr. Joseph Chamberlain.
SYME: (NARRATES) It was obviously some kind of password.
SOUND: HEAVY IRON DOOR OPENED
SYME: (NARRATES) We stepped into a queer steel chamber whose walls were hung
with dubious and dreadful shapes, things that looked like the bulbs of iron
plants, or the eggs of iron birds. They were bombs.
GREGORY: And now, my dear Mr. Syme, now we are quite cosy, so let us talk
properly. You said you were quite certain I was not a serious anarchist. Does
this place strike you as being - serious?
SYME: It does seem to have a moral under all of its gaiety. But, tell me. You
have a heavy iron door. You cannot pass it without submitting to the
humiliation of calling yourself "Mr. Chamberlain." You surround yourself with
steel instruments which make the place, if I may say so, more impressive than
homelike. Why, after taking all this trouble to barricade yourself in the
bowels of the earth, do you then parade your whole secret by talking anarchism
to every silly woman in Saffron Park?
GREGORY: The answer's simple. When first I became one of the New Anarchists I
tried all kinds of respectable disguises. But, at last, I went in despair to
the President of the Central Anarchist Council, who is the greatest man in
SYME: Oh? What's his name?
GREGORY: You wouldn't know it. That is his greatness. He looked at me. 'You
want a safe disguise, do you?' I nodded. 'Why, then, dress up as an anarchist,
you fool!' I took his advice, and have never regretted it. I preach blood and
murder to those women day and night, and--by Heaven!--they would let me wheel
SYME: You took me in. What do you call this tremendous President of yours?
GREGORY: We call him Sunday. You see, there are seven members of the Central
Anarchist Council, and they are named after the days of the week. He is called
Sunday; by some of his admirers "Bloody" Sunday. (CHUCKLES) It's curious that
you should mention the matter, because this very night, we've called a meeting
to elect a successor to the post of Thursday. (WITH A CHUCKLE) And I - I don't
mind telling you that - it's almost a settled thing that _I_ am to be
SYME: Gregory, I gave you a promise before I came to this place. Would you
give me, for my own safety, a little promise of the same kind?
SYME: Yes, a promise. I swore before God that I would not tell your secret to
the police. Will you swear by Humanity, or whatever beastly thing you believe
in, that you will not tell _my_ secret to the anarchists?
GREGORY: Your secret? Have - have _you_ got a secret?
SYME: Yes. I have a secret. Will you swear?
GREGORY: Yes, I will swear not to tell the anarchists anything you tell me.
But look sharp. They'll be here in a couple of minutes.
SYME: Well, Gregory--
SOUND: THREE KNOCKS AT THE HEAVY IRON DOOR
SYME: (QUIETLY) I don't know how to tell you the truth more shortly than by
saying that your expedient of dressing up as an aimless poet is not confined
to you -- or your President. We've known the dodge for some time at Scotland
GREGORY: (ASTONISHED) What do you say?
SYME: Yes, Gregory, I am a police detective.
VOICES: Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. (REPEATED, IN BG)
SYME: (NARRATES) It was repeated twice and thrice, and then thirty times, and
the crowd of Joseph Chamberlains -- a solemn thought -- could be heard
trampling down the corridor.
SOUND: MANY FOOTSTEPS ECHO ... IRON DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS
SYME: (QUIETLY) Here are your friends, Gregory.
BUTTONS: Comrade Gregory, I suppose this man is a delegate? (NO ANSWER)
SYME: The fact is, Comrade, I - I have been specially sent here to see that
you show a due observance of Sunday.
BUTTONS: Well, comrade, I suppose we'd better give you a seat in the meeting.
SYME: (NARRATES) Gregory, I could see, was in an agony of diplomacy.
GREGORY: (NERVOUS) Yes, I think it is time we began. The tug is waiting on the
river. I move that Comrade Buttons take the chair.
WITHERSPOON: (SHRIEKING EXTREMIST) Second the motion!
ANARCHIST: All those in favor!
ANARCHIST: Carried! Comrade Buttons!
BUTTONS: Comrades! We all lament the sad decease of the heroic worker who
occupied the post of Thursday in the Central Council until last week. He
organised the great dynamite coup of Brighton which, under happier
circumstances, ought to have killed everybody on the pier. Upon you tonight,
comrades, it devolves to choose, out of the company present, the man who shall
be called Thursday. If any comrade suggests a name, I will put it to the vote.
ANARCHIST: I move that Comrade Gregory be elected Thursday!
BUTTONS: Does anyone second?
WITHERSPOON: Second the motion!
BUTTONS: Before I put the matter to the vote, I will call on Comrade Gregory
to make a statement.
SOUND: APPLAUSE, ET CETERA, IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) Gregory rose. He must have figured out that his best chance
was to make a softened and ambiguous speech, such as would leave in my mind
the impression that the brotherhood was a very mild affair after all.
SOUND: APPLAUSE ... OUT
GREGORY: (CAREFUL, NERVOUS, IMPROVISED SPEECH) My friends! It is deep, deep
under the earth that we, the persecuted, are permitted to assemble, as the
Christians assembled in the Catacombs. Suppose we seem as shocking as the
Christians because - we are really as _harmless_ as the Christians. Suppose we
seem as mad as the Christians because we are really as _meek_.
WITHERSPOON: I am not meek!
GREGORY: (LIGHTLY) Comrade Witherspoon tells us that he is not meek. Ha ha!
How little he knows himself! We are simple, as they were simple--look at
Comrade Witherspoon. We are modest, as they were modest--look at me. We are
WITHERSPOON: No, no, no!
GREGORY: (TRIES TO DROWN HIM OUT) I say we are merciful as the early
Christians were merciful! Yet this did not prevent their being accused of
eating flesh. Now, we do not eat human flesh--
WITHERSPOON: Shame! Why not?
GREGORY: (AFFECTS GOOD HUMOUR) Comrade Witherspoon is anxious to know why
nobody eats him. In our society, at any rate, which _loves_ him sincerely,
which is founded on love--
WITHERSPOON: No, no! Down with love!
GREGORY: (INSISTENT) Which is founded on love! There will be no difficulty
about the aims which we shall pursue as a body, or which I should pursue were
I chosen as the representative of that body.
BUTTONS: Does anyone oppose the election of Comrade Gregory?
ANARCHISTS: (VOCAL OPPOSITION)
SYME: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I oppose! Comrades! Gabriel Syme!
ANARCHIST: Comrade Syme!
WITHERSPOON: Let him speak!
ANARCHIST: Comrade Syme, the special delegate!
WITHERSPOON: Let him speak!
SYME: (PASSIONATE SPEECH) Have we come here for this?! Comrades, we line these
walls with weapons and bar that door with death lest anyone should come and
hear Comrade Gregory saying to us, 'Be good, and you will be happy,' 'Honesty
is the best policy,' and 'Virtue is its own reward'?
SYME: Comrade Gregory has told us that we are not the enemies of society. But!
I say that we _are_ the enemies of society, and so much the worse for society!
GREGORY: (GENUINE, TO SYME) You damnable hypocrite! Hypocrite!
SYME: Comrade Gregory accuses me of hypocrisy. (POINTEDLY) He knows as well as
I do that I am keeping all my engagements and doing nothing but my duty.
(PASSIONATE AGAIN) I do not mince words. I do not pretend to. We do not want
the Supreme Council of Anarchy infected with a maudlin mercy!
SYME: Rather than have Gregory and his milk-and-water methods on the Supreme
Council, I would offer myself for election!
GREGORY: (TO THE ANARCHISTS) Stop, you blasted madmen! Stop, I tell you!
WITHERSPOON: I move, as an amendment, that Comrade Syme be appointed to the
GREGORY: Stop all this, I tell you! Stop it, it is all impossible!
ANARCHIST: I beg to second the election!
GREGORY: Comrades, I kneel to you! Do not elect this man!
BUTTONS: The question is: that Comrade Syme be elected to the post of Thursday
on the General Council.
ANARCHISTS: (ROAR OF APPROVAL)
SYME: (NARRATES, WITH TRIUMPH AND AMUSEMENT) And three minutes afterwards Mr.
Gabriel Syme, of the Secret Police Service, was elected to the post of
Thursday on the General Council of the Anarchists of Europe.
ANARCHISTS: (MORE CHEERS)
SYME: (NARRATES) A moment later, I found myself, somehow or other, face to
face with Gregory.
GREGORY: (QUIETLY SAVAGE) You are a devil!
SYME: And you are a gentleman.
SOUND: IRON DOOR OPENS
BUTTONS: Comrade Thursday, the boat is quite ready.
SYME: Comrade Gregory. You've kept your word. You're a man of honour, and I
GREGORY: What do you mean? What did _I_ promise _you_?
SYME: (SIMPLY) A very entertaining evening.
MUSIC: A LIVELY ACCENT ... THEN, MORE GENTLY, IN BG ... OUT BY [X]
SYME: (NARRATES, CASUAL) My name is really Gabriel Syme. I'm not merely a
detective who pretends to be a poet; I'm really a poet who has become a
I come of a family of cranks. One of my uncles always walked about without a
hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and
Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, I had to
revolt into something, so I revolted into the only thing left--which was
Now, some months before that evening in Saffron Park, I appeared before a high
official in Scotland Yard. [X] I was led to a side-door. And almost before I
knew what I was doing, I was suddenly shown into a room, the abrupt blackness
of which startled me like a blaze of light.
SUNDAY: Are you the new recruit? All right. You're engaged.
SYME: (BEWILDERED) I really have no experience.
SUNDAY: No one has any experience of the Battle of Armageddon.
SYME: But I'm - really unfit--
SUNDAY: You're willing, that is enough.
SYME: Well, really, I don't know any profession of which mere willingness is
the final test.
SUNDAY: I do. Martyrs. I am condemning you to death. Good day.
MUSIC: A BRIDGE ... THEN OUT
SOUND: TUGBOAT ENGINE, IN BG, AT [X]
SYME: (NARRATES) Where my adventure ultimately led me, I've already told you.
At about half-past one on a February night [X] I found myself steaming on a
small tug up the silent Thames, the duly elected Thursday of the Central
Council of Anarchists. As we came alongside, the great stones of the
Embankment were big and black against the huge white dawn. I leapt out of the
boat onto the slimy steps. The tug put off again and turned up stream.
SOUND: TUGBOAT ENGINE AWAY AND OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) And I saw that there was a man leaning over the parapet and
looking out across the river.
And then, the man smiled, and his smile was a shock, for it was all on one
side, going up the right cheek and down in the left. With the dark dawn and
the deadly errand and the loneliness on the great dripping stones, there was
something unnerving in it. There was the silent river and the silent man. And
there was the last nightmare touch that his smile had suddenly went wrong.
SECRETARY: If we walk up towards Leicester Square, we shall just be in time
for breakfast. Sunday always insists on an early breakfast.
SYME: (NARRATES) At one corner of Leicester Square there projected the balcony
of a prosperous but quiet hotel. The balcony contained a breakfast-table; and
round the breakfast-table, glowing in the sunlight, were a group of noisy and
talkative men, all dressed in the insolence of fashion. Here, then, was the
secret conclave of the European Dynamiters.
Then, as I continued to stare at them, I saw something that I had not seen
before -- literally because it was too large to see. At the nearest end of the
balcony, blocking up a great part of the perspective, was the back of a great
mountain of a man. My first thought was that the weight of him must break down
the balcony of stone. This man was planned enormously in his original
proportions, like a statue carved deliberately as colossal. His head, crowned
with white hair, as seen from behind looked bigger than a head ought to be.
The ears that stood out from it looked larger than human ears. His sense of
size was so staggering, that when I saw him all the other figures seemed quite
suddenly to dwindle and become dwarfish.
They were still sitting there as before with their flowers and frock-coats,
but now it looked as if the big man was entertaining five children to tea.
I never thought of asking whether the monstrous man who almost filled and
broke the balcony was the great President, Sunday, of whom the others had
stood in awe. I knew it was so.
As I walked across the inner room towards the balcony, the large face of
Sunday grew larger and larger; and I was gripped with a fear that when he was
quite close the face would be too big to be possible, and that I would scream
aloud. I remembered that as a child I would not look at the mask of Memnon in
the British Museum, because it was a face, and so large.
By an effort, braver than that of leaping over a cliff, I went to an empty
seat at the breakfast-table and sat down.
At that moment, the President was addressing a man out of whose collar there
sprang a bewildering bush of brown hair and beard that almost obscured the
eyes like those of a Skye terrier. The man's name, it seemed, was Gogol; he
was a Pole, and in this circle of days he was called Tuesday.
SUNDAY: Our friend Tuesday insists on the ways of the stage conspirator. Now
if a gentleman goes about London in a top hat and a frock-coat, no one need
know that he's an anarchist. But if a gentleman puts on a top hat and a frock-
coat, and then goes about on his hands and knees--well, he may attract
GOGOL: (POLISH ACCENT) I am not good at concealment. I am not ashamed of the
SUNDAY: Yes you are, my boy, and so is the cause of you.
GOGOL: I am not good at deception.
SUNDAY: Right, my boy, right. You aren't good at anything.
SYME: (NARRATES) As I looked at the others, I began to see in each of them
exactly what I had seen in the man by the river. Each man was subtly and
Next to me sat Tuesday, the tousle-headed Gogol. Next was Wednesday, a certain
Marquis de St. Eustache. In the gloom and thickness of his beard a dark red
mouth showed sensual and scornful. Whatever he was he was not a Frenchman.
Then came me, and next a very old man, Professor de Worms, who was Friday. The
red flower in his button-hole showed up against a face that was literally
discoloured like lead; the whole hideous effect was as if some drunken dandies
had put their clothes upon a corpse.
And right at the end sat the man called Saturday. His name was Doctor Bull.
There was nothing whatever odd about him, except that he wore a pair of dark,
almost opaque spectacles. It occurred to me that his eyes might be covered up
because they were too frightful to see. Such were the six men who had been
sworn to destroy the world.
Only three days afterwards, it appeared, the King of England was to meet the
President of the French Republic in Paris, and over their bacon and eggs upon
their sunny balcony these beaming gentlemen had decided how both should die.
Even the instrument was chosen; the black-bearded Marquis, it appeared, was to
carry the bomb.
Most of the talkers paid little attention to me but the President was always
looking at me, steadily, and with a great and baffling interest. I was sure
that in some silent and extraordinary way Sunday had found out that I was a
Meantime, the men were eating as they talked. The Marquis took a great bite of
bread and jam.
MARQUIS: I have often wondered whether it wouldn't be better for me to do it
with a knife. And it would be a new emotion to get a knife into a French
President and wriggle it around.
SECRETARY: You are wrong. The knife was merely the expression of the old
personal quarrel with a personal tyrant. Dynamite is not only our best tool,
but our best symbol. It expands; it also destroys because it broadens. And
man's brain is a bomb. My brain feels like a bomb, night and day. It must
expand! It must expand! A man's brain must expand, if it breaks the universe!
MARQUIS: I don't want the universe broken up just yet. I want to do a lot of
beastly things before I die. I thought of one yesterday in bed.
SECRETARY: The question, gentlemen, is how Comrade Wednesday is to strike the
blow. As to the actual arrangements, I suggest that tomorrow he should go
first of all to--
SUNDAY: Before we discuss that, I have something very particular to say.
SYME: (NARRATES) The instant of choice had come at last, the pistol was at my
GOGOL: More speeches, more compromise.
SUNDAY: Gogol, sit down with the other gentlemen at this table. For the first
time this morning something intelligent is going to be said.
SYME: (NARRATES) I sat down first. No one except me seemed to have any notion
of the blow that was about to fall.
SUNDAY: Comrades, we have spun out this farce long enough. We were discussing
plans and naming places. I propose that those plans and places should be left
wholly in the control of Comrade Saturday, Dr. Bull. Not one word more about
the plans and places must be said at this meeting.
SYME: (NARRATES) They all moved feverishly in their seats, except me. I sat
stiff in mine, with my hand in my pocket, and on the handle of my loaded
SUNDAY: Gentlemen, there is a spy at this table. I will waste no more words.
SYME: (NARRATES) I half rose from my seat, my finger firm on the trigger.
SUNDAY: His name is Gogol.
SUNDAY: He's that hairy humbug over there who pretends to be a Pole.
GOGOL: (STUNNED, DROPS HIS ACCENT) How in God's name did you--?
SUNDAY: (TRIUMPHANT) And now, my man, I gather that you fully understand your
GOGOL: You bet. I see it's a fair cop. All I say is, (POLISH ACCENT AGAIN) I
don't believe any Pole could have imitated my accent like I did his.
SUNDAY: I concede the point. I believe your accent to be inimitable, though I
shall practise it in my bath. Do you mind leaving your beard with your card?
GOGOL: Not a bit.
SUNDAY: Tuesday, if you ever tell the police or any human soul about us, I
shall have exactly two and a half minutes of discomfort. On your discomfort I
will not dwell. Good day. Mind the step.
SYME: (NARRATES) The detective who had masqueraded as Gogol rose to his feet
without a word, and walked out of the room with an air of perfect nonchalance.
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR WHICH OPENS ... SLIGHT STUMBLE OF FOOTSTEP
SYME: (NARRATES) There was a slight stumble outside the door, which showed
that the departing detective had not minded his step.
SUNDAY: Time is flying. I must get off at once; I have to take the chair at a
SECRETARY: Would it not be better to discuss further the details of our
project, now that the spy has left us?
SUNDAY: Secretary, if you'd take your head home and boil it for a turnip it
might be useful. I can't say. But it might.
SECRETARY: (OFFENDED) I really fail to understand--
SUNDAY: You fail to understand. Why, you dancing donkey, you didn't want to be
overheard by a spy, did you? How do you know you aren't overheard now?
SYME: (NARRATES) With these words, Sunday shouldered his way out of the room,
shaking with incomprehensible scorn. Now, if the last words of the President
meant anything, they meant that I had after all not passed unsuspected. The
other four got to their feet, betook themselves elsewhere to find lunch. Only
the old anarchist, old Professor de Worms, remained behind, seated before me
at the table.
PROFESSOR: Mr. Gabriel Syme?
SYME: Yes, Professor?
PROFESSOR: You a policeman?
SYME: (PAUSE, CHUCKLES) A policeman? Whatever made you think of a policeman in
connection with me?
PROFESSOR: The process was simple enough. I thought you looked like a
policeman. I think so now.
SYME: (LIGHTLY) Why must I be a policeman? Do let me be a postman.
PROFESSOR: Do you hear me ask a plain question, you pattering spy? Are you, or
are you not, a police detective?
PROFESSOR: (OMINOUS, THREATENING) You swear it?! If you swear falsely, will
you be damned? Will you be sure that the devil dances at your funeral? Will
you see that the nightmare sits on your grave? You are an anarchist, you are a
dynamiter? Above all, you are not in any sense a detective? You are not in the
SYME: (SIMPLY) I am not in the British police. (PAUSE, NARRATES) Professor de
Worms - fell back in his seat with a curious air of - kindly collapse.
PROFESSOR: (NO LONGER THREATENING) Well, that's a pity, because -- I am.
SYME: (STUNNED) Because you are what?
PROFESSOR: I _am_ a policeman. A special policeman. And I serve - under the
Man in the Dark Room.
SYME: The Man in the Dark Room? (REALIZES) I understand now. Of course --
you're not an old man at all.
PROFESSOR: I can't take my face off here. It's rather an elaborate make-up.
Did you know that that man Gogol was one of us?
SYME: No. But didn't you?
PROFESSOR: I knew no more than the dead.
SYME: Why, then there were three of us there! Three of us sitting here out of
seven -- and it's a fighting number. If we'd only known that we were three!
PROFESSOR: We were three. If we had been three hundred we still could have
SYME: Not if we were three hundred against four?
PROFESSOR: No, not if we were three hundred against Sunday.
SYME: Professor, it's intolerable. Are you afraid of this man?
PROFESSOR: Yes, I am. So are you.
SYME: Yes, you're right. I _am_ afraid of him. (ANGRY, DECISIVE) Therefore --
I swear by God that I will seek out this man whom I fear until I find him, and
strike him on the mouth. If heaven were his throne and the earth his
footstool, I swear that I would pull him down!
PROFESSOR: How? Why?
SYME: Because I'm afraid of him, and no man should leave in the universe
anything of which he is afraid.
PROFESSOR: Have you any idea exactly what you are going to do?
SYME: Yes. I'm going to prevent this bomb being thrown in Paris.
PROFESSOR: Have you any conception how?
PROFESSOR: You remember, of course, that when we broke up rather hurriedly the
whole arrangements for the atrocity were left in the private hands of the
Marquis and Dr. Bull. The Marquis is by this time probably crossing the
Channel. The only man who knows where he's going is Dr. Bull.
SYME: Confound it! And - we don't know where Bull is.
PROFESSOR: Yes, I know where he is.
SYME: Will you tell me?
PROFESSOR: I'll take you there.
SYME: What do you mean? Would you join me? Would you take the risk?
PROFESSOR: Young man. You think that it is possible to pull down the
President. I know that it is impossible, and I am going to try it.
MUSIC: FOR A FINISH
ANNOUNCER: ... call your special attention to the new series of broadcasts by
the Mercury Theater, with Orson Welles as star and director, which will
commence next Sunday night at 8 p. m., Eastern Daylight Saving Time. And now a
brief pause for station identification. This is the Columbia Broadcasting
ANNOUNCER: We continue now with the performance of G. K. Chesterton's "The Man
Who Was Thursday" by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air.
MUSIC: FOR AN INTRODUCTION
SYME: (NARRATES) The Professor led me to a very respectable inn, and in that
place we dined very thoroughly.
PROFESSOR: Can you play the piano?
SYME: Yes, I'm supposed to have a good touch.
PROFESSOR: It would have done just as well if you could work a typewriter.
SYME: Thank you. You flatter me.
PROFESSOR: Listen to me. There is no man, except the President, who is so
seriously startling and formidable as Dr. Bull, that little grinning fellow in
goggles. Depend on it, Sunday was not asleep when he locked up all the plans
of this outrage in the round, black head of Dr. Bull.
SYME: And you think that this unique monster will be soothed if I play the
piano to him?
PROFESSOR: I mentioned the piano because it gives one quick and independent
fingers. Syme, if we are to go through this interview and come out sane or
alive, we must have some code of signals between us that this brute will not
see. I have made a rough alphabetical cypher corresponding to the five
fingers--like this. Listen.
SOUND: RIPPLED FINGERTAPS ON A WOODEN TABLE, BETWEEN EACH LETTER:
PROFESSOR: (SPELLS) B - A - D.
SOUND: RIPPLED FINGERTAPS REPEATED
PROFESSOR: "Bad," a word we may frequently require.
SOUND: RIPPLED FINGERTAPS CONTINUE IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) I began to study the scheme. Didn't take me long to learn how
we might convey simple messages by what would seem to be idle taps upon a
table or knee.
SOUND: RIPPLED FINGERTAPS STOP
SYME: (NARRATES) It was not long before Dr. Bull came in, sat down at our
table. He smiled brightly.
BULL: You're early this evening, gentlemen.
SYME: (NARRATES) The quiet good humour of his manner left us helpless. We sat
staring at each other in silence.
SOUND: RIPPLED FINGERTAPS CONTINUE IN BG
SYME: (FILTER) I have an intuition.
PROFESSOR: (FILTER) Then sit on it.
SYME: (FILTER) It is quite an extraordinary intuition.
PROFESSOR: (FILTER) Extraordinary rot!
SYME: (FILTER) I am a poet.
PROFESSOR: (FILTER) You are a dead man.
SYME: (FILTER) You scarcely realise how poetic my intuition is. It has that
sudden quality we sometimes feel in the coming of spring.
PROFESSOR: (FILTER) Go to blazes!
SOUND: RIPPLED FINGERTAPS STOP
SYME: Dr. Bull!
PROFESSOR: (TO SYME) Quiet!
SYME: Dr. Bull! Dr. Bull, would you do me a small favour? Would you be so kind
as to take off your spectacles?
(NARRATES) Dr. Bull rose slowly, still smiling, and took off his spectacles.
He was sitting in the chair before us. And we saw there a very boyish-looking
young man. The smile was still there, but it might have been the first smile
of a baby.
(TO BULL) Dr. Bull, I am a police officer.
BULL: The Dark Room?
SYME: The Dark Room.
BULL: (CASUAL) Well, I'm awfully glad you came so early, for we can all start
for France together. Yes, I'm in the force all right.
PROFESSOR: (DISBELIEF) But good Heavens, if this is were true, there were more
blasted detectives than there were blasted dynamiters at the blasted Council!
SYME: (ASTONISHED) We might easily have fought; we were four against three.
PROFESSOR: No! No, we were not four against three--we were not so lucky. We
are four against One.
MUSIC: FURIOUS BRIDGE ... THEN OUT
SOUND: BOAT HORN
SYME: (NARRATES) An hour later, we were already on the Calais boat. (TO BULL:
AND THE PROFESSOR) The fact that comes of it is this: we three are alone on
this planet. Now, we must do something to keep the Marquis in Calais till
tomorrow midday while the King goes safely through Paris. The only thing I can
see to do is actually to take advantage of the very things that are in the
Marquis's favour. Gentlemen, I am going to profit by the fact that he is a
nobleman and has many friends and moves in the best society.
PROFESSOR: What the devil are you talking about?
SYME: The Marquis cannot deny that he is a gentleman. And in order to put the
matter of my social position quite beyond a doubt, I propose at the earliest
opportunity -- to knock his hat off. Oh, but here we are in the harbour.
Gentlemen, we've reached Calais.
MUSIC: A FRENCH BAND PLAYS A TUNE, THEN IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) A band was playing in a cafe chantant hidden somewhere among
the trees, where sat the Marquis de Saint Eustache. The man had two
companions, solemn Frenchmen in silk hats.
MARQUIS: You are Monsieur Syme, I think?
SYME: And you are the Marquis de Saint Eustache. Permit me to pull your nose!
(NARRATES, QUIETLY) Which I attempted to do, but the two men in top hats held
me back. (OUT LOUD, OVERPLAYING HIS PART, WITH HUMOR) This man has insulted
1ST SILK HAT: Insulted you? When?
SYME: Oh, just now. He's insulted my mother.
1ST SILK HAT: Insulted your mother?!
SYME: Well, anyhow, my aunt.
2ND SILK HAT: But how can the Marquis have insulted your aunt just now? He has
been sitting here all the time.
SYME: Ah, it was what he said!
MARQUIS: I said nothing at all, except about the band. I only said that I
liked Wagner played well.
SYME: It was an allusion to my family. My aunt played Wagner badly. It was a
painful subject. We are always being insulted about it.
1ST SILK HAT: This seems most extraordinary.
SYME: Oh, I assure you, the whole of your conversation was simply packed with
sinister allusions to my aunt's weaknesses.
2ND SILK HAT: Oh, this is nonsense! I, for one, have said nothing for half an
hour except that I liked the singing of that girl with the black hair.
SYME: Well, there you are again! My aunt's was red.
1ST SILK HAT: It seems to me that you are simply seeking a pretext to insult
SYME: By George! What a clever chap you are!
MARQUIS: Seeking a quarrel with me! By Heaven! there was never a man who had
to seek long. These gentlemen will perhaps act for me. There are still four
hours of daylight. Let us fight this evening.
SYME: Marquis, your action is worthy of your fame and blood. Permit me to
consult with the gentlemen in whose hands I shall place myself. Good day.
PROFESSOR: Syme, what are you up to?
SYME: (SERIOUS AGAIN) Listen carefully. Bull, Professor -- you are my seconds,
and you must insist on the duel coming off after seven tomorrow, so as to keep
him from catching the 7.45 for Paris. If he misses that train, he misses the
King of England. You understand?
(PAUSE, NARRATES) So, at 7.20 we met on a small meadow not far from the
railway. I'd made up my mind that I could avoid disabling the Marquis and
prevent the Marquis from disabling me for at least twenty minutes. In twenty
minutes the Paris train would have gone by.
COLONEL: Gentlemen! Engage!
SOUND: SWORDFIGHT ... CONTINUES IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) I am not a bad fighter. Every now and then, I could almost
fancy that I felt my point go home, but there was no blood on the blade or my
SOUND: DISTANT TRAIN WHISTLE ... SWORDFIGHT CONTINUES IN BG ... RUMBLE OF
TRAIN BEGINS BY [X]
SYME: (NARRATES) And now, we could hear the Paris train. There was no doubt
about the hit this time. [X] I was as certain that I had stuck my blade into
my enemy as a gardener that has stuck his spade into the ground. Yet, there
was no blood on it at all!
The Marquis fought wildly. He constantly looked away at the railway line,
almost as if he feared the train more than the pointed steel. I aimed less at
the Marquis's body, and more at his throat and head. A minute and a half
afterwards I felt the point enter the man's neck below the jaw. It came out --
clean! I thrust again, and made what should have been a bloody scar on the
But there was no scar.
SOUND: TRAIN HAS SLOWED TO A STOP ... BELLS RING ... SWORDFIGHT ENDS
MARQUIS: Stop! I want to say something. It is rather important. Mr. Syme, you
expressed a wish to pull my nose. Would you oblige by pulling my nose now as
quickly as possible? I have to catch a train.
BULL: (OFF) I protest that this is most irregular!
MARQUIS: Will you or will you not pull my nose? Come, come, Mr. Syme! Don't be
selfish! Pull my nose at once, when I ask you!
SYME: (NARRATES) I took two paces forward and seized the Roman nose of this
remarkable nobleman. I pulled it hard, and it came off in my hand.
MARQUIS: If anyone has the use for my left eyebrow, he can have it. Do accept
my left eyebrow! It is the kind of thing that might come in useful any day.
SYME: (NARRATES) The Marquis was recklessly throwing parts of himself right
and left about the field.
MARQUIS: You are making a mistake; but it can't be explained just now. I tell
you the train has come into the station!
SYME: Yes, Marquis, and the train shall go out of the station. It shall go out
MARQUIS: Will you drive me mad?
SYME: You shall not go by the train!
MARQUIS: You great fat, blasted, blear-eyed, blundering, thundering,
brainless, doddering, blasted fool! You great silly, pink-faced, towheaded
SYME: (SAVAGE) You shall not go by this train!
MARQUIS: And why the infernal blazes should I want to go by the train?
PROFESSOR: We know all! You are going to Paris to throw a bomb!
MARQUIS: (SCOFFS) Going to Jericho to throw a Jabberwock! I didn't care about
catching the train; I cared about whether the train caught me, and now, by
God! it _has_ caught me.
SYME: What do you mean?
MARQUIS: It means everything. The end of everything. Sunday has us now in the
hollow of his hand.
PROFESSOR: Us! What do you mean by 'us'?
MARQUIS: The police, of course! I am no Marquis! I am Inspector Ratcliffe of
SYME: Then - then the whole bally lot of us on the Anarchist Council -- were
against anarchy! Every born man was a detective except the President and his
personal secretary. What can it mean?
MARQUIS: It means that we are struck dead! Don't you know Sunday? I tell you
he's bought every trust, he's captured every cable, he has control of every
railway line--especially of _that_ railway line! The whole movement was
controlled by him; half the world was ready to rise for him. But there were
just five people, perhaps, who could have resisted him -- and the old devil
put them on the Supreme Council, to waste their time in watching each other.
Sunday knew that the Professor would chase Syme through London; that Syme
would fight me in France. And he was combining great masses of capital,
seizing great lines of telegraphy, while we five idiots were running after
each other like a lot of confounded babies playing blind man's buff! And since
you really want to know what was my objection to the arrival of that train,
I'll tell you. My objection was that Sunday, or his Secretary, has just this
moment got out of it.
SYME: (NARRATES) We all turned our eyes toward the station. A considerable
bulk of people seemed to be moving in our direction.
PROFESSOR: They may be ordinary tourists.
BULL: Do ordinary tourists wear black masks half-way down the face?
SYME: (NARRATES) It was quite true that the leader in front wore a black half-
mask almost down to his mouth. And the mouth was smiling a crooked smile -- on
one side of the face.
BULL: I can't believe it. The thing is nonsense. The plain people of a
peaceable French town--
PROFESSOR: Someone has shot at us!
MARQUIS: Pray resume your remarks, Dr. Bull. You were talking, I think, about
the plain people of a peaceable French town.
BULL: Stop! Here come the police! They're charging the mob!
SYME: No! No, they're forming along the parade.
BULL: They've unslung their carbines!
MARQUIS: Yes, and they're going to fire on us!
SOUND: CRACK OF GUNSHOTS ... RUMBLE OF ONCOMING MOB, BUILDS IN BG
PROFESSOR: The police have joined the mob!
SYME: (NARRATES) The mob, advancing steadily, was almost on top of us.
BULL: Charge the anarchists!
PROFESSOR: Charge the anarchists!
SYME: (NARRATES) There was no doubt of it. The leader was Monday. Monday,
Secretary of the Council! Under the black mask, his mouth was working
horribly. (YELLS) Monday!
SOUND: RUMBLE OF MOB STOPS
SYME: Charge the anarchists! Swords! For our time has come to die!
SECRETARY: There is some mistake, Mr. Syme. I hardly think you understand your
position. I arrest you in the name of the law.
SYME: Of the law? But you are the Secretary of the Anarchist Council!
SECRETARY: Nonsense. I am a detective -- from Scotland Yard.
MUSIC: A GRAND BRITISH ACCENT/BRIDGE, WITH A WRY FINISH, THEN OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) That night, five bewildered but hilarious detectives returned
to London. The next morning, having found Gogol, we marched stolidly toward
the hotel in Leicester Square.
BULL: This is more cheerful. We are six men going to ask one man what he
SYME: I think it's a bit queerer than that. I think it's six men going to ask
one man what _they_ mean. (PAUSE, NARRATES) We saw at once the little balcony
and a figure that looked too big for it. He was sitting alone with bent head,
poring over a newspaper. But all his councillors, who had come to vote him
down, crossed that Square as if we were watched out of heaven by a hundred
eyes. We went up the dark stair in silence.
SUNDAY: Delightful! So pleased to see you all. What an exquisite day it is. Is
the King dead?
SECRETARY: No, sir. There has been no massacre. I bring you news of no such
SUNDAY: Disgusting spectacles? You mean Dr. Bull's spectacles?
BULL: My spectacles are blackguardly, but I'm not. Look at my face.
SUNDAY: I dare say it's the sort of face that grows on one. In fact, it grows
on you. I dare say it will grow on me some day.
SECRETARY: We have come here to know what all this means. Who are you?! What
SUNDAY: I? What am I? If you want to know what _you_ are, you're a set of
highly well-intentioned young jackasses.
SECRETARY: And you? What are you?!
SUNDAY: I? What am I?
SYME: (NARRATES) The President rose slowly to incredible heights, like some
enormous wave about to arch above us and break.
SUNDAY: You want to know what I am, do you? Bull, you are a man of science.
Grub in the roots of these trees and find out the truth about them. Syme, you
are a poet. Stare at those morning clouds and tell me the truth about morning
clouds. But I tell you this, that you will have found out the truth of the
last tree and the top-most cloud before the truth about me. You will
understand the sea, and I shall still be a riddle; you shall know what the
stars are, and not know what I am. Since the beginning of the world all men
have hunted me like a wolf -- kings and sages, and poets and lawgivers, all
the churches, and all the philosophies. But I have never been caught yet, and
the skies will fall in the time I turn to bay. I have given them a good run
for their money, and I will now.
SYME: (NARRATES) Before any of us could move, the monstrous man had swung
himself over the balustrade of the balcony. Yet before he dropped he pulled
himself up again and thrust his great chin over the edge of the balcony.
SUNDAY: There's one thing I'll tell you though about who I am. I am the Man in
the Dark Room, who made you all policemen!
MUSIC: FOR A GREAT ESCAPE AND A FALL AND A BOUNCE ... THEN OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) Sunday fell from the balcony, bouncing on the stones below
like a great ball of india-rubber, and went bounding off towards the corner of
the Alhambra, where he hailed a hansom-cab and sprang inside of it.
SOUND: HOOFBEATS, IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) Of course, we all followed him, and at the highest ecstacy of
speed, Sunday turned round, and sticking his great grinning head out of the
cab, he made a horrible face at us, flung a ball of paper at me, and vanished.
I caught the paper.
SECRETARY: What does it say, Syme?
SYME: Let's see. (READS) "No one would regret anything in the nature of an
interference by the Archdeacon more than I. I trust it will not come to that.
But, for the last time, where are your goloshes? The thing is too bad,
especially after what uncle said!"
MUSIC: FOR A CHASE ... A BRIEF BRIDGE, THEN IN BG
SOUND: FIRE ENGINE BELL
SYME: (NARRATES) A fire-engine appeared and the President leaped incredibly
from his hansom, caught the back of the engine, and slung himself on to it.
PROFESSOR: After him! There's no mistaking a fire-engine!
SYME: (NARRATES) Our cabmen whipped up their horses and the President
acknowledged this proximity by coming to the back of the fire-engine, bowing
repeatedly, kissing his hand, and finally flinging out to us a neatly-folded
SECRETARY: Read it! Read it!
MARQUIS: (READS) "Fly at once. The truth about your trouser-stretchers is
SOUND: HOOFBEATS AND BELL FADE OUT
MUSIC: FILLS A PAUSE, CONTINUES IN BG
PROFESSOR: What place _is_ this?
SYME: (NARRATES) Sunday had jumped from the fire-engine over an iron gate and
we'd followed him to a kind of park.
MARQUIS: Can it be the old devil's house?
BULL: No, you fools! It's the Zoo!
KEEPER: (APPROACHES) I say, has it come this way?
SYME: Has what come where?
KEEPER: The elephant!
SYME: An elephant?!
KEEPER: An elephant has gone mad and run away!
KEEPER: Yes, he's run away with an old gentleman -- a poor old gentleman with
SYME: What sort of old gentleman?
KEEPER: A very large and fat old gentleman in light grey clothes.
SECRETARY: The elephant has not run away with _him_. _He_ has run away with
the elephant! And, by thunder, there he is!
SYME: (NARRATES) There was no doubt about it this time. Clean across the space
of grass, with a crowd screaming and scampering vainly at his heels ...
SOUND: ELEPHANT ROARS, CONTINUES IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) ... went a huge grey elephant. On its back sat President
Sunday with all the placidity of a sultan.
KEEPER: Stop him! He'll be out of the gate!
SOUND: IRON GATE SMASHED
SYME: Stop a landslide! He's out of the gate!
SOUND: ELEPHANT ROARS ... OUT
MUSIC: FOR A RUNAWAY ELEPHANT, THEN IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) Through street after street, through district after district,
went the prodigy of the flying elephant, and we followed it, through the city,
out into the suburbs and finally to a fairgrounds. The President had
disappeared. (CALLS) Look! Look over there!
SECRETARY: Look at what?!
SYME: Look at the captive balloon!
SECRETARY: Why the blazes should I look at a captive balloon? What is there
queer about a captive balloon?
SYME: Nothing, except that it isn't captive!
SECRETARY: Ten thousand devils! He's got into it!
MUSIC: FOR A RUNAWAY HOT AIR BALLOON ... THEN OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) We'd followed that balloon all afternoon. We'd followed it
and then about twilight the preposterous thing had staggered in the sky and
sunk from view into the woods.
PROFESSOR: Oh, if he's cheated us all by getting killed! It would be like one
of his larks.
SYME: (NARRATES) And almost at the same moment, all six of us realized that we
were not alone in the little field. Across a square of turf, a tall man was
coming towards us, leaning on a strange long staff like a sceptre. His advance
was very quiet; he might have been one of the shadows of the wood.
TALL MAN: Gentlemen, my master has a carriage waiting for you in the road just
SYME: Who is your master?
TALL MAN: I was told you knew his name.
SYME: Where is this carriage?
TALL MAN: It has been waiting only a few moments. My master has only just come
MUSIC: NOSTALGIC, IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) All six of us compared notes afterwards and quarrelled; but
we all agreed that in some unaccountable way the place where we came that
night reminded us of our boyhood. It was either this elm-top or that crooked
path, it was either this scrap of orchard or that shape of a window; but each
man of us declared that he could remember this place - before he could
remember his mother.
1ST ATTENDANT: Refreshments are provided for you in your room.
SYME: (NARRATES) I entered a splendid suite of apartments that seemed to be
designed specially for me.
2ND ATTENDANT: I have put out your clothes, sir.
SYME: Clothes? I have no clothes except these.
2ND ATTENDANT: My master asks me to say that there is a fancy dress ball
tonight. You're to be dressed as Thursday, sir.
SYME: Dressed as Thursday! Doesn't sound a very warm costume.
2ND ATTENDANT: Oh, yes, sir. The Thursday costume is quite warm, sir. It
fastens up to the chin.
MUSIC: FILLS A PAUSE, THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]
SYME: (NARRATES) I was led onto a very large old English garden, full of
torches and bonfires, by the broken light of which a vast carnival of people
were dancing in motley dress. I seemed to see every shape in Nature imitated
in some crazy costume. There was a man dressed as a windmill with enormous
sails, a man dressed as an elephant, a man dressed as a balloon. There was a
dancing lamp-post, a dancing apple tree, a dancing ship. One would have
thought that the untamable tune of some mad musician had set all the common
objects of field and street dancing an eternal jig. And long afterwards, when
I was middle-aged and at rest, I could never see one of those particular
objects -- a lamppost, or an apple tree, or a windmill -- without thinking
that it was a strayed reveller from that revel of a masquerade.
On one side of this lawn, in a kind of crescent, stood seven great chairs, the
thrones of the seven days. And so the night wore on and, finally, the last of
the dancers vanished, [X] and the fire faded as the long, slow, strong stars
came out. And we seven strange men were left alone, like seven stone statues
on our chairs of stone. Then Sunday spoke.
SUNDAY: We will eat and drink later. Let us remain together a little, we who
have loved each other so sadly, and have fought so long. I seem to remember
only centuries of heroic war, in which you were always heroes--epic on epic,
iliad on iliad, and you, always brothers in arms.
SYME: Tell me -- who are you?
SUNDAY: I am the Sabbath. I am the peace of God.
SYME: I am grateful to you, not only for wine and hospitality here, but for
many a fine scamper and free fight. But I should like to know. My soul and
heart are as happy and quiet here as this old garden, but my reason is still
crying out. I should like to know.
MARQUIS: It seems so silly that you should have been on both sides and fought
SUNDAY: I have heard your complaints. And here, I think, comes another to
complain. We will hear him also.
SYME: (NARRATES) And we saw, standing before us, the red-headed poet of
Saffron Park. (CALLS, IN SURPRISE) Gregory! (REALIZES) Why, this is the _real_
GREGORY: Yes. I am the real anarchist.
BULL: "And there came a day when the sons of God came before the Lord, and
Satan also came with them."
GREGORY: You're right. I am a destroyer! I would destroy the world if I could!
SYME: Oh, most unhappy man, try to be happy. You have red hair like your
GREGORY: I know what you are, all of you, from first to last--you're the
people in power! You're the police--the great fat, smiling men in blue and
buttons! You're the Law. You're the seven angels of heaven, and you had no
troubles! Oh, I could forgive you everything, if I could feel for once that
you had suffered for one hour a real agony such as I--
SYME: I see everything! Everything! Everything that there is. Why does each
thing on earth war against each other thing? Why does a fly have to fight the
whole universe? Why does a dandelion have to fight the whole universe? For the
same reason that I had to be alone in the dreadful Council of the Days. So
that each thing that obeys law may have the glory and the isolation of the
anarchist. So that by tears and torture we may earn the right to say to this
accuser, 'We also have suffered.' I repel the slander; we have not been happy.
I can answer for every one of the great guards of Law whom he has accused. At
SOUND: A WEIRD HUMMING, BUILDS IN BG
SYME: (NARRATES) And I saw suddenly the great face of Sunday. (TO SUNDAY) Have
you ever suffered? (NARRATES) As I gazed, the great face grew to an awful
size, larger than the colossal mask of Memnon, which had made me scream as a
child. It grew larger and larger, filling the whole sky; then in the
blackness, before it entirely destroyed my brain, I seemed to hear a distant
voice saying a commonplace text that I had heard somewhere.
SUNDAY: Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?
SOUND: WEIRD HUMMING CONTINUES A MOMENT .. THEN OUT
SYME: (NARRATES) When men in books awake from a vision, they commonly find
themselves in some place in which they might have fallen asleep; I could only
remember that, gradually and naturally, I knew that I was awake and had been
walking along a country lane. Dawn was breaking over everything in colours at
once clear and timid; as if Nature made a first attempt at yellow and a first
attempt at rose. A breeze blew so clean and sweet, that one could not think it
blew from the sky; it blew rather through some hole in the sky. I felt a
simple surprise when I saw rising all round me on both sides of the road the
red, irregular buildings of Saffron Park. I walked by instinct along one white
road, on which early birds hopped and sang, and found myself outside a fenced
garden. And there I saw the sister of Gregory: Rosamund, the girl with the
gold-red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the great unconscious
gravity of a girl.
MUSIC: FOR A FINISH, THEN OUT
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the Columbia Broadcasting System, through its member
stations coast-to-coast, and the network of the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation, has brought you a production of G. K. Chesterton's "The Man Who
Was Thursday" by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air. The
adaptation for radio was made by Mr. Welles.
This Monday night concludes the summer broadcasts which have introduced the
Mercury Theater as the first complete theatrical producing company in radio.
But the tremendous response which their efforts have drawn from all parts of
the country has ensured their continuance with us through the coming months.
The Columbia Broadcasting System is therefore proud to announce a new series
of weekly productions by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air
beginning next Sunday evening, September the 11th, from 8 to 9 o'clock,
Eastern Daylight Saving Time. The first play next Sunday at 8 will be "Vincent
Van Gogh," an original drama based on the letters of the famous painter to his
brother Theo and the records of his biographers.
In the cast this evening: Sunday, Eustace Wyatt; the Professor, Ray Collins;
Gregory, George Coulouris; the Marquis, Edgar Barrier; Gogol, Paul Stewart;
Bull, Joseph Cotten; the Secretary, Erskine Sanford; Witherspoon, Alan Devitt;
Rosamund, Anna Stafford; and Gabriel Syme, the Man Who Was Thursday, by Orson
Welles. Davidson Taylor supervised for the Columbia network. This is Dan
Seymour speaking. The orchestra was directed by Alexander Semmler.
MUSIC: THEME ... CONTINUES IN BG
ANNOUNCER: Remember, next Sunday evening at 8 o'clock, Eastern Daylight Saving
Time, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air in "Vincent Van Gogh."
MUSIC: THEME ... CONTINUES IN BG
CBS ANNOUNCER: Be sure to be at your radio next Monday at 9 p. m., Eastern
Daylight Saving Time. That's when the Lux Radio Theater begins its new series
of broadcasts. Same station as last year. The first presentation will be
"Spawn of the North," with George Raft, Fred MacMurray, John Barrymore,
Dorothy Lamour and Akim Tamiroff. Next Monday at 9 p. m., Eastern Daylight
Saving Time. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.
MUSIC: THEME ... TO A FINISH
Originally broadcast: 5 September 1938