Advice to the Little Peyton Girl
RUDY VALLEE: If, uh, if we were betting any money on who was going to play
Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," our wager would go down on Tallulah
Bankhead. That's not a tip, it's just a strong hunch -- based on the fact that
movie producers occasionally show good sense nowadays.
To provide Tallulah with a play tonight, we have dramatized a short story by
Dorothy Parker called "Advice to the Little Peyton Girl." The adaptor, Hilda
Lawrence. With Miss Bankhead you will hear Miss Florida Friebus who plays the
aforesaid little Peyton girl. This is Tallulah Bankhead in a Dorothy Parker
(APPLAUSE ... MUSIC ... FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... IN AND UNDER)
NARRATOR (VALLEE): Miss Marion's eyes were sweet and steady beneath her folded
honey-colored hair. Miss Marion's drawing room was all pale, fair colors and
dark, satiny surfaces, and low light slanted through parchment. In that dim
sanctuary, you would never have guessed that Miss Marion had been weeping just
before the little Peyton girl came to call in the afternoon. Everything was so
hushed, so soothing, so sure. Before she had quite decided to do it, the
little Peyton girl - spoke out.
(MUSIC ... OUT)
SYLVIA: (NAIVE, DISTRAUGHT) Are you sure you don't mind if I talk to you, Miss
Marion? You look sort of - tired.
MISS MARION: (WISE, COOL) No, darling, I'm all right. What do you want to talk
SYLVIA: Oh, Miss Marion, I need your advice. I'm in an awful fix. And I don't
know what to do.
MISS MARION: Oh, Sylvia, that sounds like heart trouble. Well, suppose you
tell me all about it.
SYLVIA: Oh, I knew you'd listen. I knew YOU'D understand. Miss Marion, do you
know what it's like to be in love?
MISS MARION: I can probably imagine, darling. Go on.
SYLVIA: Well, it's Fred Barclay. You see, it isn't as if we'd actually had a
quarrel. We've just sort of drifted apart. And I haven't seen him for two
MISS MARION: And you can't bear it and you wish you were dead. Is that it?
MISS MARION: Do you love him that much, Sylvia?
SYLVIA: Well, I-- Oh, yes, I-- Well, it's so awful without him. We used to see
each other every day -- every single day. And he'd always telephone me when he
got home, even if he'd just left me ten minutes before. And he'd always call
me as soon as he woke up to say "good morning." Every day! Oh, you don't know
how lovely it was!
MISS MARION: Yes, I do, Sylvia. I know. And then it stopped -- just suddenly
stopped, didn't it?
SYLVIA: (SURPRISED) Yes.
MISS MARION: What made it stop, Sylvia? What did you do?
SYLVIA: Well, one night, after he'd gone home, he didn't telephone me. I
waited and waited. It was awful. You wouldn't think it would matter that much,
would you? But it did.
MISS MARION: Yes, I know it did. It does.
SYLVIA: I couldn't sleep. I got to thinking that maybe he'd gone to see
somebody else after he left me. And I just couldn't stand it so I called him
MISS MARION: Yes, of course. You called him up. How old are you, Sylvia?
Nineteen, aren't you, darling?
MISS MARION: Well, I've seen women of thirty make just the same mistake. ...
Tell me, was he at home when you called him?
SYLVIA: Yes. He'd been asleep and he wasn't - very nice about it. I asked him
why he hadn't called and he said because he didn't have anything to say. I
asked him if he'd been out with somebody else and he said, no. (SOBS) I didn't
believe him. So I cried.
MISS MARION: Did he hear you cry?
SYLVIA: (ON THE VERGE OF TEARS) Yes! He - he -
MISS MARION: He hung up on you, didn't he, Sylvia?
SYLVIA: Yes! ... So I called him back.
MISS MARION: (APPALLED) Called him back? Oh, darling, why?
SYLVIA: Well, I thought I'd lost him. What else could I have done?
MISS MARION: Well, you could have used bloodhounds. ... Go on, go on.
SYLVIA: Well, I - I had to find out. I kept asking him if anything was the
matter. And he kept saying "no" -- and acting cooler and cooler, as if he
didn't love me any more. And then--!
MISS MARION: And then he started going around with another girl?
SYLVIA: (AMAZED) How did you guess?
MISS MARION: Oh, I'm awfully good at guessing things. I can probably guess a
few things about the other girl, too. She's pretty awful, isn't she, Sylvia?
SYLVIA: She's terrible!
MISS MARION: Yeah, of course she is. ...
SYLVIA: Do you know her, Miss Marion?
MISS MARION: No, darling. I don't know HER - but I do know this. No man ever
leaves us for a finer woman. You just ask any girl you know and she'll be glad
to tell you that she lost her man to a girl who was a perfect fright. ...
Listen, Sylvia. You didn't tell the Barclay boy that you didn't like this - er
- new menace, did you?
SYLVIA: Why, uh, yes.
MISS MARION: Oh, baby child, that was wrong. Never, never point out another
woman's imperfections to a man. You ought to know THAT.
SYLVIA: I couldn't help it.
MISS MARION: No, I suppose you couldn't. But it didn't help matters much, did
it? It only made him stay away more and more, didn't it, Sylvia?
MISS MARION: He called you up less and less?
MISS MARION: And when you DID see him, you were so nervous and so worried that
you couldn't think of anything to say or do.
MISS MARION: (SADLY) Yes. ... And you kept asking him if anything was the
matter. And he kept saying, "No, of course not. Why should there be anything
the matter?" But he stayed away more than ever - and you began to be afraid of
losing him altogether. Right, Sylvia?
SYLVIA: Yes. That's right.
MISS MARION: Sylvia, did you let him see that you were afraid of losing him?
SYLVIA: Well, I - I told him in a - laughing sort of way that I knew he'd
thrown me over for somebody else. But it's the truth. I haven't seen him now
for two whole weeks. (BURSTS INTO TEARS) And I can't stand it!
MISS MARION: Oh, don't cry, Sylvia. Don't - don't cry, darling.
SYLVIA: What did I do that was wrong, Miss Marion? Tell me! What did I do that
MISS MARION: Well, you shouldn't have talked to him about throwing you over.
You see, men don't like dismal predictions, Sylvia. Oh, I know the Barclay
boy's only twenty but all men are the same age, always. ... And they all hate
the same things.
SYLVIA: Oh, I wish I were like you, Miss Marion. I wish I always knew what to
MISS MARION: (AMUSED, LIGHTLY) Oh, thank you, Sylvia. (MORE SERIOUS) Sylvia, I
want you to forget about this boy. You CAN, you know, if you try.
SYLVIA: But I don't want to! Oh, couldn't I just call him up just once more
and try to talk things over?
MISS MARION: No, no. Men don't like to talk things over. They hate
straightening things out. When you see the Barclay boy again, Sylvia, treat
him just as if you'd been laughing together with him an hour before.
SYLVIA: Oh, but maybe I'll never see him again. I've called and called and his
mother always says he's out. (SAVAGE) That woman hates me!
MISS MARION: (WITH A CHUCKLE) Of course, she doesn't hate you, darling. You
just think she does. In times like this, it's very easy to think the world is
hostile. That's part of the disease.
SYLVIA: Oh, Miss Marion, do you think he'll ever come back to me?
MISS MARION: Why, of course he will, Sylvia, but you've got to leave HIM
SYLVIA: Well, I'll do anything you say.
MISS MARION: Then, no more telephone calls?
SYLVIA: (WHIMPERS IN PROTEST) Oh--
MISS MARION: No matter what happens, no matter how much you long to hear his
voice, keep away from the telephone.
SYLVIA: (RESISTS) Ohhh.
MISS MARION: If he calls YOU, darling, that's fine. But you must never, never
call him again.
MISS MARION: If you do, he'll think you're pursuing him. He won't like that,
you know. Never let a man know how important he is to you. You've done that
already and it was a mistake but you needn't make the same mistake twice.
SYLVIA: Well, I should think men would like to know how much a girl loves
MISS MARION: They should, but they don't. ... They LIKE to be kept guessing.
And, Sylvia, above all things, don't ever let him know he's made you unhappy.
SYLVIA: Well, I'll try. But I'm afraid.
MISS MARION: You must conquer your fears, dear child. A woman in fear for her
love can never do right. Realize that there are times he'll WANT to be away
from you. Never ask him why or where. No man will bear that. Don't predict
unhappiness, nor foresee a parting. He'll not slip away if you don't let him
see that you're holding him. Sylvia, love is like quicksilver in the hand.
Leave the fingers open and it stays in the palm; clutch it, and it darts away.
Be, above all things, always calm. Never in this world make him feel guilty,
no matter what he's done. If he doesn't call you when he said he would or if
he's late for an appointment with you -- don't refer to it. Make him feel that
all is well always. Be sweet and gay -- but, Sylvia, always, always calm. And
trust him, Sylvia. He's not deliberately hurting you, my sweet. He never will,
unless you suggest it. Trust yourself, too. Don't let yourself become
insecure. (SIGHS) I know it sounds unkind, darling, to remind you that
there're always others - when I know that he's the only one you want. But it's
a very heartening thought, Sylvia. And he's not to know that he's the Sun and
there's no life without him. He must never know that again. It's a long way,
Sylvia, and it's a hard one, and you must watch every step you take along it.
But it's the only way with a man.
SYLVIA: Well, it isn't easy, is it? But if it'll work, I--
MISS MARION: It always has, dear.
SYLVIA: (RELIEVED, UPBEAT NOW) Miss Marion, I think you're the most wonderful
woman I ever knew.
MISS MARION: (AMUSED, SCOFFS) Oh!
SYLVIA: You've made it all so clear. Do you know what?
MISS MARION: What, Sylvia?
SYLVIA: From now on, I'm gonna try to be like you!
MISS MARION: (CHUCKLES) Oh! Like me?
SYLVIA: Yes. You're so wise and so sweet! Why, you'd never get yourself in a
mess like this. You always know the right thing to do.
MISS MARION: Well, I've had several years more in which to practice than you,
darling. ... Now, run along, Sylvia, and for heaven's sakes, keep away from
the telephone. Now, that's rule one.
SYLVIA: (CHEERILY) I will! Oh, I will!
MISS MARION: (LAUGHS, CALLS HER MAID) Matty?!
SOUND: (DOOR OPENS)
MISS MARION: Matty?
MATTY: Yes, Miss?
MISS MARION: Take Miss Sylvia to the door, will you? Then come back here.
MATTY: Yes, 'um. This way, miss.
SYLVIA: Oh, don't bother, Matty, I can find my way all right. Goodbye, Miss
MISS MARION: Goodbye.
SYLVIA: Thanks a million times! You're - you're wonderful!
MISS MARION: Good luck, darling!
MISS MARION: Goodbye!
SOUND: (DOOR SHUTS)
MISS MARION: Silly chit, Matty. When will they ever learn? I wonder if they
know how funny they are. Of course they don't. And, in spite of everything
I've said, she'll go right out of here and throw herself at his head.
MATTY: Yes, 'um.
MISS MARION: I gave her some very good advice, Matty, but I'm afraid she won't
take it. Hm, she probably thinks I'm a fool and don't know what I'm talking
about. (SIGHS) Well, she'll learn.
MATTY: Yes, 'um. Girls is funny that way. What time do you want your dinner,
MISS MARION: Dinner? Well, I don't think, er-- Well, I don't know, Matty. I -
I may be dining out tonight. Oh, Matty? Any messages come while I was out this
MATTY: No, 'um. Nobody called at all.
MISS MARION: You sure?
MATTY: (EXASPERATED) Yes! I didn't leave the house a minute (WITH EMPHASIS)
and nobody called at all!
MISS MARION: Well, that's funny. Maybe - maybe the phone's out of order,
MATTY: (HAS HEARD ALL THIS BEFORE) Yes, 'um.
MISS MARION: Maybe he called and you didn't hear him, Matty.
SOUND: (PICKS UP PHONE)
MISS MARION: Well, I'll just try him once more.
SOUND: (DIALS PHONE)
MISS MARION: I'll pretend I've been out all day and say I thought I might have
missed him, see? If I make my voice sound sort of casual, do you think,
Matty--? (INTO PHONE, STRAINS TO BE CASUAL) Oh, hello?! Mr. Lawrence, please.
... Oh, he isn't? ... Is, er, this his secretary speaking? ... Yes, but I
called yesterday and left a message. It was very urgent. Er, did you tell him?
... You did? I see. Well, if he, um, um, if he comes in again, just tell him
I, er-- Tell him that I called, will you please? ... Thank you so much.
SOUND: (HANGS UP PHONE)
MISS MARION: (GRIM) She's lying, Matty. She didn't tell him. (SAVAGE) That
woman HATES me! ... I can tell it by her voice! Of course she's lying! He
wouldn't do a thing like this to me, Matty!
SOUND: (PICKS UP PHONE, DIALS)
MISS MARION: Maybe - maybe he's at the club, Matty, I'll try the club. Maybe
he got tied up at the club and couldn't come. (INTO PHONE) Um, uh, hello?!
Tennis club? Is - is Mr. Lawrence there, please? ... Oh, I see. Uh, when did
you last see him? When was he last there? ... Oh, no. No thank you. There's no
message. Uh, unless you tell him when he comes back that-- Well, no, never
mind, it's all right. I'll call again. Thank you.
SOUND: (HANGS UP PHONE)
MISS MARION: He was there all the time and didn't want to talk to me, Matty, I
know it! ... He was standing right by the phone and laughing! I could hear
SOMEBODY laughing! Oh, I'm going crazy! He wouldn't do that to me, Matty, not
to me! (SOBS) He said he wasn't angry, you know. He said everything was all
right. (SUDDEN INSPIRATION, GASPS) He's sick. That's it, Matty! He's sick! And
that fool secretary won't tell me! I'll kill that woman!
SOUND: (PICKS UP PHONE, DIALS)
MISS MARION: I'll get the office again! I'll make her tell the truth! He said
there wasn't anything the matter! He said he'd call me when he could! I--
(INTO PHONE) Uh, hello?! (CHUCKLES NERVOUSLY, STRAINS TO BE CASUAL) Oh, this
is Miss Marion again. I'm awfully sorry to trouble you but, um-- Well, I
thought that maybe I-- Well, I hate to be so persistent but-- Are you SURE you
gave my messages to, uh--? ... (WEAKLY) Oh, I see. ... He's gone abroad? Oh,
thank you. Goodbye.
SOUND: (HANGS UP PHONE)
(MUSIC ... MOURNFUL ... IN AND UNDER)
MISS MARION: (BREAKS DOWN AND WEEPS)
(APPLAUSE ... MUSIC ... TO A FINISH)
SOUND: (NBC CHIMES)
RUDY VALLEE: Now, wasn't that just like a woman? ... Our thanks, Miss Bankhead
and Miss Friebus. ...
Originally broadcast on The Royal Gelatin Hour: 17 June 1937