Oct 7, 2021
Adapted by Julie Hoverson from the story "The Canterville Ghost" by Oscar Wilde
In the late 1800s, an American family moves into an old English castle, only to find that the fixtures include an ancestral ghost...
Sir Simon de Canterville - Cole Hornaday
Lady Eleanor - Julie Hoverson
Mr. Otis - Michael Faigenblum
Mrs. Otis - Megan Lane
Mrs. Umney - Lyndsey Thomas
Washington - Jasper Loovis
Virginia - Beverly Poole
Cecil, Duke of Cheshire - Powers Chandler
The Twins - E. Vickrey, R. LeBoeuf
"What kind of a place is it? Why it's an
Olde English Castle
- where else would you find an ancestral spirit?"
The Canterville Ghost
Who doesn't love the classic Oscar Wilde satire "The Canterville Ghost"? It's a story about a traditional horrific British spirit haunting a traditional British Manor, who runs afoul of a very modern (for the late 1800s) American family who has no respect at all for tradition. This has always been one of my two favorite classic comedic ghost stories, the other being "The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall", which I will probably get in here soon, just because of the season.
I had so much fun adapting this, playing with the practical, unflappable, and often gormless Americans. I did make one major change in the cast, which was not entirely original to me. I added the ghost of Lady Canterville to pester and haunt Sir Simon - and also give him someone to rant to, complain at, and plan with, since otherwise all his best bits would either be pages of soliloquies or just left out (like they usually end up being left out when this story gets made into films).
I really really tried to keep as much of the descriptions of Sir Simon's various semblances and costumes in the dialogue as I could. They're so much fun, along with the descriptions of whom he terrified with them. I crammed it as full as possible, without going completely off the deep end.
I recall when I was in grade school, I read a novelization someone had done based on The Canterville Ghost where they added Lady Canterville as a ghost, but I specifically didn't go back and find that book again before writing this, so I wouldn't accidentally usurp any other ideas from it - I have a good memory, but it has been decades since I read it (more then 2), so I should be pretty safe. Including her is a logical step, anyway, since if HE haunts the house because he was murdered, why shouldn't SHE also haunt it because HE murdered HER?
When I set about to cast this, I was still pretty much working with friends and locals, and not yet to the point of recruiting or auditioning people on line. And while I knew I wanted Cole as Sir Simon - and of course myself as Lady Eleanor, since I wrote the role for me (a big advantage of being a writer/producer), I had no particular idea who else I wanted in there. So I got Beverly Poole (who was at the time in high school) and said "Cast all the living characters from your high school drama class." In response, she rubbed her hands together gleefully (and a bit evilly), grinned, and said "Ooh! The Power!"
Of all the special effects in this story that were hard to make or find, considering it has rattling chains and moans and all the classic ghost noises, the most awkward turned out to be "knocking small bottle to floor" and "throwing pillow across room".
THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
NOTE: The Americans are the classic annoying Americans of a previous century, very self-assured at all times and never bothered.
OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's an English Castle, can't you tell? Where else would you find an ancestral ghost?
SCENE 1. MAIN HALL
SOUND HEAVY FOOTSTEPS, LOW MOAN OF EFFORT, HEAVY SOMETHING BEING DROPPED [play up as if a ghost, then]
MOVER Ow! Leave off! Now, on two... one-- [grunt of effort]
SOUND HEAVY FOOTSTEPS GO OFF. THE OTIS FAMILY IS MOVING IN.
HIRAM [self satisfied] Yes, that - that will do nicely.
SOUND SHARP FOOTSTEPS AMONG THE HUBBUB
MRS. UMNEY [nervous] Mr. Otis, Sir?
HIRAM Yes, my good woman?
MRS. UMNEY Sir, where are the Canterville portraits?
HIRAM Those? I'm returning them to his Lordship. I'm quite sure he didn't mean them to go with the house. They're rather ugly old gewgaws, to be perfectly frank. Out with the old, in with the new.
MRS. UMNEY [muttered] These are the ugly new gewgaws, then?
HIRAM [didn't hear her] Hm?
MRS. UMNEY [louder] This is your family, then, sir?
HIRAM What is your name, my good woman?
MRS. UMNEY Mrs. Umney. I've been housekeeper here at Canterville Hall for--
HIRAM Oh, yes, we did take on all the fixtures. Well, Madam, we Americans don't hold with all this "sir" nonsense. You can call me Mister Otis, just like anyone else.
MRS. UMNEY [servile] Of course, Mr. Otis. Certainly Mr. Otis.
HIRAM Stop with the curtseying, it's bad for your knees. Ask my wife - she's campaigned against it, you know.
MRS. UMNEY That would be Lady - pardon - Mrs. Otis in the portrait with you?
HIRAM Yes - lovely woman, though she does tend to look a bit cross-eyed when she's forced to sit staring into a lens for time on end. Still it's a lovely shot. This is the children. Washington, in back - he's even taller now. Must remember to get another study taken. They grow so fast, don't they?
MRS. UMNEY Yes sir. Mr. Otis, sir.
HIRAM The twins, Oscar and Grover - like weeds, as well - are going to Eton. They'll be home with us until the school year begins.
MRS. UMNEY And the young lady?
HIRAM [with warmth] Virginia. She is just the perfect doll - smart as a whip. Takes right after her mother that way. And the way she rides - she raced old Lord Bilton twice round the park and won by a length and a half. That Cecil [he prnounces it incorrectly, as SEEsel] fellow, Duke of Cheshire[chehSHYER], proposed for her on the spot, but they're both much too young, and we Americans don't hold much with titles.
MRS. UMNEY [muttered] Tell that to the Vanderbilts. [out loud] And this must be... your father?
HIRAM [laughs uproariously] Ho-ho! No, that's President Cleveland, our country's leader. You know, a bit like your British Queen Victoria, except that we choose ours. [pause] And they don't carry on quite so long.
MRS. UMNEY [disapproving] Ah.
SOUND DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS ENTER
MRS. OTIS Dearest, can you do something with the twins, they've gone quite mad in the conservatory.
HIRAM Boys will be boys.
SOUND HIS FOOTSTEPS LEAVE, DOOR
MRS. OTIS Mrs. Umney, why what's the matter?
MRS. UMNEY Ma'am? I'm ... just not used to your American ways, I expect.
MRS. OTIS I'm so sorry for you. Well.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS START TO LEAVE, HESITATE
MRS. OTIS [suddenly remembering] Oh, there is something you could help with - there's a terrible stain near the fireplace in the library. Would you be a dear and see that it gets cleaned up?
MRS. UMNEY [ominously] The bloodstain?
MRS. OTIS How horrid! I don't at all care for blood-stains in a library. It cannot possibly be hygienic.
MRS. UMNEY [ghoulish, enjoying every minute] It is the blood of Lady Eleanor de Canterville, murdered on that very spot by her own husband, Sir Simon de Canterville, in 1575. Sir Simon's guilty spirit still haunts the Chase, though HIS body has never been found.
[Umney clearly expects to scare her, but gets no response.]
MRS. OTIS It must be removed immediately--
MRS. UMNEY The blood-stain has been much admired by tourists, and cannot be removed.
MRS. OTIS Nonsense. [calling] Washington!!
MRS. UMNEY [mood broken] What? Ma'am?
SOUND THUNDERING FEET COMING DOWN STAIRCASE
WASHINGTON [entering] Yes, mother?
MRS. OTIS Do you have some of that new cleaning solution in your kit?
WASHINGTON [eager] Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent? I'll fetch it directly.
MRS. UMNEY [trying to be spooky again] The blood stain cannot be cleaned, ma'am. It is proven fact. Many have tried. Many more have faced the ghost and were never the same again.
MRS. OTIS Ah, but this is a patented formulation.
SOUND OUTSIDE. TWO HORSES' HOOVES MOVING SLOWLY, AN OCCASIONAL WHINNY
CECIL I'm frightfully pleased you're so nearby, Miss Otis. I mean, we can... go riding together... often.
VIRGINIA [she pronounces it correctly - seh-sel] Cecil. Or... I'm so sorry, I've forgotten, what does one call a Duke?
CECIL It's Your Grace, but you needn't--
VIRGINIA But I should at least KNOW. And an Earl?
CECIL [quietly] I would rather you thought of me as more than merely a tutor.
VIRGINIA [musing] How DO you keep them all straight? [catching up] What?
CECIL [earnest] You know how I feel.
VIRGINIA I also, which is why this is all particularly important. Just in case... In case... [gasp]
BOTH [Take a breath, as if about to speak, or possibly kiss, then check themselves]
[SLIGHT PAUSE AS THEY BOTH CALM DOWN A BIT, CLICK TO THE HORSES, ETC.]
CECIL Oh, Virginia, I hate the thought of you living in this blasted old pile.
VIRGINIA [pleased] You called me Virginia.
CECIL My apologies, Miss Otis.
VIRGINIA Silly. Cecil, I've been trying for ages to get you to call me-- [by my first name]
CECIL It's the ghost!
VIRGINIA The ghost's name is Virginia?
CECIL No. Your father cannot have heard about it, or he'd never have put you in such danger.
VIRGINIA While he's not actually against them, father generally avoids spirits. [joke - "spirits" as in alcohol]
CECIL [ominously, admitting] My own grand-uncle once bet a hundred guineas that he would play dice with the ghost, and was found the next morning on the floor of the card-room in such a paralytic state that, though he lived to a great age, he was never able to say anything but "Double Sixes."
VIRGINIA Backgammon, was it?
CECIL It isn't important! It's simply not safe!
AMB BEDROOM, GETTING READY FOR SLEEP
MRS. OTIS [exasperated] It's simply not safe, I tell you! That housekeeper fainting all about the place - and all over cleaning up a silly bloodstain.
SOUND RATTLE OF A PAGE TURNING IN A BOOK
MRS. OTIS What if it happens again? What if she's holding crockery? What do you do with a woman who faints?
HIRAM Yes, dear.
MRS. OTIS [sweetly] Dearest, your nose has fallen off.
HIRAM Oh, has it? Good.
MRS. OTIS You're not listening to me!
HIRAM Gracious! Do you hear that?
MRS. OTIS What, over the sound of my own voice? Heaven forbid!
SOUND MUFFLED, AND SLOWLY GETTING CLOSER, HEAVY FOOTFALLS AND CHAINS RATTLING. THEY CONTINUE UNTIL NOTED
HIRAM Now that is just too much.
SOUND BEDCLOTHES FLUNG ASIDE, SLIPPERED FOOTSTEPS.
HIRAM We'll see about--
SOUND DOOR IS FLUNG OPEN
SOUND HEAVY FOOTSTEPS AND CHAINS ARE NO LONGER MUFFLED.
SIMON [off - low moaning]
HIRAM Now see here!
SIMON [moan interrupts]
MRS. OTIS [unworried, off] Is it the twins?
HIRAM I don't think so.
SIMON [insistent ghostly moaning]
HIRAM No, it's certainly not the twins. Hold it right there.
SIMON [moan interrupts quizzically]
SOUND SLIPPERED FOOTSTEPS, DRAWER PULLED OUT, RUMMAGING
MRS. OTIS Should I join you?
HIRAM No need. Though he is quite a curiosity - looks like a scraggly old feller all done up in chains and ragged old-style clothes.
SIMON [off - moaning again, suppressed fury]
HIRAM Now where did I - Aha!
SOUND RUMMAGING STOPS, SLIPPERED FOOTSTEPS
HIRAM My dear sir, I really must insist on your oiling those chains, and I have brought you for that purpose a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator.
SIMON [moaning stops, grumpy noises]
HIRAM It is said to be completely efficacious upon one application, and there are several testimonials to that effect on the wrapper. I shall leave it here for you, and will be happy to supply more, should you require it.
SOUND SMALL BOTTLE SET DOWN, LIGHT FOOTSTEPS, DOOR CLOSES DECISIVELY
SIMON [bellow of rage, then moaning until noted]
SOUND BOTTLE SLAPPED, ROLLS ACROSS TABLE, CLATTERS TO FLOOR.
SOUND TWO HEAVY FOOTSTEPS, HEAVY THUD ON WALL ACCOMPANIED BY CHAIN RATTLING
OSCAR Get em!
SOUND PILLOW FLIES THROUGH THE AIR, HITS THE WALL
GROVER Did I score?
SIMON [one last shriek, and out]
OSCAR Tsk. Nope.
AMB GHOST'S GARRET
SOUND AGITATED PACING, ROCKING CHAIR
SIMON [bellowing and outraged] A Pillow! At my HEAD!
ELEANOR [complacent but needling] I suppose it's a good thing you were wearing it, then.
SIMON Not if they'd hit me! I'm not certain I fastened it on completely. It's never been an issue!
ELEANOR You've gone without a challenge for far too long.
SIMON A challenge!! A challenge! Who needs a bloody challenge when I have you to torment me?
ELEANOR Every time you get frustrated you turn the argument on me. If you didn't want me haunting you, you should've never killed me.
ELEANOR Ruined my favorite bodice, as well.
SIMON Oh, your bloody bodice.
SIMON Hush! These ... people... Have no respect for artistry. When I think back on the Dowager Duchess, frightened into a fit; the four housemaids, who went into hysterics when I merely grinned at them through the curtains; old Madame de Tremouillac, who woke to find me, as a skeleton, seated by the fire reading her diary, and was confined to her bed for six weeks with brain fever--
ELEANOR [dry] Yes, yes, you're quite handy with the ladies.
SIMON Shut up, wife! What about wicked Lord Canterville, whom I left choking on the knave of diamonds because he had cheated by means of that very card, so I made him swallow it. That was justice!
ELEANOR Oh, yes, justice for men and torment for women. So like a man. What did poor Lady Stutfield, ever do to you? You left her obliged to wear a black velvet band round her throat to hide the mark of five fingers burnt upon her white skin.
SIMON [pleased] She drowned herself at last in the carp-pond at the end of the King's Walk.
ELEANOR Did she cheat at cards as well?
SIMON [grudgingly] No.
ELEANOR Admit it, you just like the attention. Women are so much more --
ELEANOR I was going to say demonstrative. I know how you adore an appreciative audience. Women are allowed hysterics, while men are limited to "good god!", a little gibbering, and then shooting themselves in the pantry. There's simply not much in between.
SIMON [sulky] Or offering you oil for your chains! Oh, what impertinence!!
ELEANOR What do you plan to do about it, my lord?
SIMON Aha! I was thinking of reprising my costume as "Gaunt Gibeon, the Blood-sucker of Bexley Moor," and playing ninepins with my own bones upon the lawn-tennis ground.
ELEANOR Perhaps Americans do not play ninepins?
SIMON No? I think the point will not fail. It is bones... [thinking] Or perhaps ... Oh, yes! "Reckless Rupert, or the Headless Earl."
ELEANOR Oh, my lord. You know that one takes hours to put on. Do you even know where both horse pistols are?
SIMON Bah! I am an artist. I laugh at complex preparation. [chuckling] I haven't pulled out old Rupert for some fifty years--
SIMON Seventy? Really? Where does time go? [warming up again] Not since the night I frightened pretty Lady Barbara and she broke off her engagement with Lord Canterville's grandfather, and ran away with Jack Castleton, declaring that nothing would induce her to marry into a family that allowed such a horrible phantom to walk up and down the terrace at twilight.
ELEANOR [bored] ...and then he was shot in a duel.
SIMON [running over her] Poor Jack was afterwards shot in a duel by Lord Canterville
ELEANOR [bored] You sound like the social pages.
SIMON [trying to drown her out] --and Lady Barbara died of a broken heart, so, in every way, it was a great success.
ELEANOR Yes, yes, yes. You recall I was present.
SIMON I am merely reiterating--
ELEANOR Reiterate away. I shan't return until you are quite through.
SIMON Oh, if I only could believe that, I would never stop.
ELEANOR Just as big fish eat little fish, my own good lord, ghosts are never truly alone.
SOUND GENTEEL BREAKFAST NOISES
MRS. UMNEY [off, screams]
VIRGINIA Oh no!
MRS. OTIS Good gracious, she's at it again.
HIRAM I'll just go and see--
MRS. OTIS No, no. You finish your breakfast, Hiram, dear. I shall see to the household.
SOUND WE FOLLOW HER AS SHE LEAVES THE ROOM, ENTERS THE LIBRARY
MRS. UMNEY [praying, slightly hysterical] ...deliver us from evil for thine is the power and the glory--
MRS. OTIS [coming on] What is the matter now?
MRS. UMNEY [spoooooky] Look!!! The bloodstain! I told you that it could never be removed!
MRS. OTIS [mildly bemused] Oh. How unusual. I wonder if there is a leak somewhere. [calling] Washington?
SOUND EAGER FOOTSTEPS APPROACH
WASHINGTON Yes, Mother?
MRS. OTIS I thought you said you had dealt with this?
WASHINGTON Well, now doesn't that just take the cake?
MRS. OTIS Pray don't be vulgar.
MRS. UMNEY [muffled snort]
VIRGINIA [coming on] What's going on?
WASHINGTON Mother, I give you my solemn oath - that stain was gone. I guess I'll just have at it again.
MUSIC TIME PASSES
SOUND GENTEEL BREAKFAST NOISES
[the blood stain keeps re-appearing, and they're finding it amusing]
HIRAM Shall we? I made a particular point of locking the door last night, so there can be no chance of outside interference.
MRS. OTIS Yes, let's.
SOUND DOOR OPENS
OSCAR Me first!
GROVER No, me!
SOUND SCUFFLE, RUNNING FOOTSTEPS
GROVER It's back!
MUSIC TIME PASSES
SOUND RAIN, GENTEEL BREAKFAST NOISES
WASHINGTON [listing the colors the bloodstain has come back in] ...that's crimson, rust, burnt sienna, and maroon. So far. Anyone?
HIRAM Perhaps the color changes like leaves in the fall? I think I shall lay odds on pumpkin.
WASHINGTON I am more inclined to believe, father, that there is a scientific basis for the inconsistent pigmentation. Some chemical interaction between the nature of ectoplasm and Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover. All I need to do is find another, similar ghostly stain and compare the results.
HIRAM Sound thinking, my boy.
MRS. OTIS Well, I'm in the mood for a bright cherry red myself, on such a gray day. Virginia?
VIRGINIA [subdued, almost sulky] I have no opinion on the matter.
SOUND DOOR SLAMS OPEN
GROVER It's green!!
OSCAR Emerald green!
VIRGINIA [very quiet wail, then going off] Oh, no!
AMB GHOST'S GARRET
SOUND RUMMAGING THROUGH PILES OF CLOTHES
SIMON [off, muffled] Have you seen my red slouch hat?
ELEANOR It is no longer my responsibility to look after your garments, husband.
SIMON Which winding sheet do you think will be most effective, the ones with the ruffles at the cuffs, or the hideous brown stains?
ELEANOR My lord - those aren't your brown stains. I believe a mouse has littered in your sheet.
SOUND FABRIC FALLS TO FLOOR
SIMON Well, aren't you even curious? I mean about what I intend to do?
ELEANOR Not really. [sigh] Pray enlighten me. If you must.
SIMON You'll be singing a different tune when you hear--
ELEANOR Begin, my lord - we haven't all day.
SIMON Very well. [dramatic] See this rusty dagger?
ELEANOR Yay, verily. One rusty dagger. Noted.
SIMON [dramatic] I will make my way quietly to Washington Otis's room, you know Washington - the interfering knave who repeatedly cleans my bloody-- well... bloodstain.
ELEANOR My bloodstain. Bright boy.
SIMON Shush. Here, you be Washington.
ELEANOR I haven't the height.
SIMON [angry] I mean, you stand in and I shall show you what I intend! [back to glee] I will gibber at him from the foot of the bed, and stab myself - once, twice, thrice! - in the throat to the sound of low music. Having reduced the reckless and foolhardy youth to a condition of abject terror... [prompting] Terror!
ELEANOR [flat] Oh, terror!
SIMON [sigh] I will proceed to the bedroom of the parents. Now, you are Mrs. Otis.
ELEANOR To do that I shall have to secure some exceedingly plain underclothes.
SIMON [growl] Woman! I will place a clammy hand on Mrs. Otis's forehead--
ELEANOR [flat] Oh, clammy.
SIMON --while I hiss into her trembling husband's ear the awful secrets of the charnel-house.
ELEANOR He'll probably tell you of some new patented method for charnelling. I suppose that poor girl will get the worst of it, since she's the only one even a mite sympathetic?
SIMON I... [almost sheepish] I ...don't think so. She's done nothing at all to annoy me, even though she could easily... [he's been stealing her paints, as she mentions later - so she could unmask the bloodstain] A few hollow groans from the wardrobe will suffice.
ELEANOR You're becoming soft in your old age.
SIMON I am merely saving my best efforts for [snarling] those wretched twins...
ELEANOR Shall I be one of them?
SIMON No need.
ELEANOR Oh, prithee my lord. I wish to realize the full impact of your cunning plan.
SIMON Truly? Well, go ahead then.
ELEANOR I shall be Grover. He has the sweeter disposition.
SIMON Be whichever you wish to be, but be quiet! [deep breath] I will enter the room, in the form of a green, icy-cold corpse--
SOUND WHOOSH THUMP OF A PILLOW
ELEANOR Ha-ha! [aping the twins' laughter]
CECIL You are so brave. And so lovely tonight.
VIRGINIA You dance divinely, Cecil, but this must be our last waltz, or people will talk.
CECIL My cousin says your brother is an excellent partner as well.
VIRGINIA Oh, yes. He is well suited for diplomacy.
CECIL I wish we could dance all night and you never need return to that moldy old pile.
VIRGINIA Fainting aside, Mrs. Umney is a fine woman.
CECIL Tomorrow is the anniversary of Lady Eleanor's death. The ghost will certainly leap upon the propitious moment.
AMB ECHOEY HALLWAY
SIMON [soliloquizing] Ah! The propitious moment! The clock strikes the quarter--
SOUND CLOCK STRIKES THE QUARTER
SIMON The moon hides her face behind a cloud. All is in readiness, and the night holds its stygian breath.
SOUND STEALTHY THUMPING FOOTSTEPS
SIMON And now Washington, screw your courage to the sticking point you may, but I shall have you unstuck! [begins a moan]
SOUND TWO MORE STEPS
SIMON [moan become a shriek of fear]
AMB PARENTS BEDROOM
MRS. OTIS [waking up] Huh? [matter of fact] Hiram! Wake up!
HIRAM Yes, dearest?
MRS. OTIS Do you hear ...something?
HIRAM Is it that ghost fellow again? [listens] No, I cannot say I actually hear anything.
MRS. OTIS [already falling back] Hmm. Must be the twins.
AMB GHOST'S GARRET
SOUND AGITATED PACING, ROCKING CHAIR THROUGHOUT
ELEANOR [flatly amused] A ghost?
SOUND CRUMPLING OF PAPER IN SIMON'S HAND
SIMON [terrified] YES! A Ghost! Its head was bald and burnished, its face round, and fat, and white. From the eyes streamed rays of scarlet light, the mouth was a wide well of fire, and a hideous garment, much like mine own--
ELEANOR Lacking the mouse insults.
SIMON --like to mine own, swathed its Titan form. On its breast was a placard with strange writing in antique characters--
SOUND RATTLE OF HEAVY PAPER
SIMON Doubtless some record of wild sins, some awful calendar of crime, some--
ELEANOR Why not read it and see?
SIMON [voice cracking] See?
ELEANOR See what it says.
SIMON [hesitates] No.
ELEANOR Why take it, then?
SIMON [mutters something]
ELEANOR Speak up, my lord.
SIMON [through gritted teeth] I found I had just clutched it as I left. I have no need to know--
SIMON AFRAID! [unconvincing] No.
ELEANOR Perhaps because he is the more terrifying ghost?
SIMON Nonsense! I have merely never chanced to SEE a ghost - except in a looking glass.
ELEANOR Give it me, ninny. I shall read it.
SIMON You dare--
ELEANOR I'll call you coward in an instant--
SIMON I WILL READ IT! [muttering as he reads, then a sound of outrage!]
ELEANOR So very wicked, my lord?
SOUND PAPER BEING VICIOUSLY CRUMPLED
SIMON [grim] Those damned children! They made it!
ELEANOR Made a ghost? I should have thought murder was a bit outside their purview.
SOUND PAPER BEING SNATCHED AWAY
ELEANOR Argh, indeed. [reading] YE OTIS GHOSTE, Ye Onlie True and Originale Spook, Beware of Ye Imitationes. All others are counterfeits.
SIMON No more games! [bellowing] When Chanticleer [rooster] has sounded twice his merry horn, deeds of blood will be wrought, and murder shall walk abroad with silent feet!
ELEANOR That would be you?
SOUND ROOSTER CROWS - ONCE.
SIMON [muttered] Come on.
ELEANOR Perhaps you should go frighten it.
SIMON [muttered] Once more - for daddy.
ELEANOR It's not going to happen.
SIMON Nonsense, it always happens.
ELEANOR [pause] Nay. I hear nothing.
SIMON Perdition seize the naughty fowl, I have seen the day when, with my stout spear, I would have run him through the gorge, and made him crow for me an 'twere in death! [a bit whiny] Every time, throughout all known history, that such an oath has been sworn, chanticleer has sounded his blasted horn twice. Where is its respect for tradition?
ELEANOR Perhaps, dear husband, it is an American rooster.
SOUND TWO HORSES REINING IN FROM A GALLOP
VIRGINIA [laughing] I let you win!
CECIL [teasing] Nonsense. Good breeding.
VIRGINIA So your blue blood makes you faster?
CECIL Not mine. The horse.
SOUND HORSES WALKING
CECIL Have you been well since I saw you last?
VIRGINIA Yes, very. No ghost.
VIRGINIA I warned everyone about the anniversary, but nothing - well - a turnip ghost was found in the upper hall, but I am quite certain that can be attributed to my brothers.
CECIL How ... remarkable.
VIRGINIA Cecil, would you do me a tremendous favor?
CECIL Anything... Virginia.
VIRGINIA Would you-- Could you take my horse to the stable? I fear I've torn my habit and want to get upstairs before anyone spies me.
AMB BACK HALLWAY
SOUND [OFF SLIGHTLY] LIGHT ECHOEY FOOTSTEPS
SIMON [gusty sigh]
SOUND [COMING ON] FOOTSTEPS CONTINUE
VIRGINIA Hello? [gasp] You!
SIMON [gasp] You!
VIRGINIA [anticipating being scared] Ahh! [pause, nothing happens, confused] Oh!
SIMON Pfft. Don't fret yourself, girl. I cannot seem to gather myself for the effort. This is the one room where I can truly be alone. My wife haunts me in every other chamber.
VIRGINIA Should I leave you--?
SIMON Stay a moment. [overly casual] If you wish.
VIRGINIA My brothers are going back to Eton tomorrow, and if you behave, no one will annoy you.
SIMON Behave myself? Absurd. I must rattle my chains and walk about at night. It is my only reason for existing.
VIRGINIA That is no reason at all.
SIMON Why else would I be here?
VIRGINIA Mrs. Umney told us - you killed your wife.
SIMON It was purely a family matter. My wife was very plain, never had my ruffs properly starched, and knew nothing about cookery.
VIRGINIA [adamant] It is very wrong to kill anyone.
SIMON Oh? Her brothers starved me to death.
VIRGINIA Oh, Mr. Ghost -- I mean Sir Simon - I have a sandwich in my case, would you like it?
SIMON I never eat anything now; [beat, softening] but it was very kind of you. You are much nicer than your horrid, rude, vulgar, dishonest family.
VIRGINIA Stop it! It is you who are rude, and horrid, and... and as for dishonesty! You stole my paints for your ridiculous bloodstain. First you took all my reds and I couldn't do sunsets, then it just got ridiculous - who ever heard of emerald-green blood?
SIMON [meek, sulky] What was I to do? It is very difficult to get real blood. Your brother began it all with his Paragon Detergent, so I saw no reason why I should not have your paints.
VIRGINIA [annoyed, decisive] Good evening! I will go and ask papa to get the twins an extra week's holiday.
SIMON Please! Don't go, Miss Virginia. I am so unhappy, and I really don't know what to do. I want to sleep and I cannot.
VIRGINIA That's quite absurd! It is very difficult sometimes to keep awake, especially at church, but even babies know how to sleep, and they are not very clever.
SIMON I have not slept for three hundred years, and I am so tired.
VIRGINIA Have you no place where you can sleep?
SIMON [wistful] Hmm. Far away beyond the pine-woods, there is a little garden. The grass grows long and deep, with great white stars of hemlock flower, and the nightingale sings all night long. The cold crystal moon looks down, and the yew-tree spreads out its giant arms over the sleepers.
VIRGINIA [awed] You mean the Garden of Death.
SIMON Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, and listen... to silence. To have no yesterday, no to-morrow, to be at peace. [eager] You must help me. You can open for me the portals of death's house, for love is always with you, and love is stronger than death.
VIRGINIA How could I--?
SIMON You must weep with me for my sins, because without remorse, I have no tears; and pray with me for my soul, because I have no faith. Then, perhaps, the angel of death will have mercy on me. [pauses, waiting, then sighs in despair]
VIRGINIA [deep breath, courageous but shaky] I am not afraid, and I will ask the angel to have mercy on you.
MUSIC - LONGER
AMB FRONT HALL
HIRAM Virginia is nowhere to be found. Even the [rustics] are helping search for her. Washington, my boy? [confidential] The fish-pond?
HIRAM Good. Don't tell your mother we checked. The poor woman is already nearly prostrate.
CECIL It is the ghost. I know it! He was jealous of our happiness and spirited her away! If only you had allowed our engagement, sir, none of this would have--
HIRAM Balderdash, Cecil [mispronounced see-sul]. First thing in the morning, I will engage Scotland Yard--
SOUND CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE - LOUD CRASH
SOUND VIRGINIA STEPS OUT OF A SECRET DOOR
HIRAM Goodness Gracious!
WASHINGTON [excited] A secret door!
HIRAM Good heavens! child, where have you been? Cecil and I have been riding all over the country looking for you, and your mother has been frightened to death.
VIRGINIA I have been with the ghost.
CECIL [rather melodramatic gasp] How did you escape?
VIRGINIA Oh, Cecil, he is at peace, now. He had been very wicked, but he was really sorry for all that he had done, and now-- [almost a sob]
SOUND DOOR FLUNG OPEN, FOOTSTEPS
MRS. OTIS My own darling! Thank God you are found; you must never leave my side again! [mmm - like a big hug, then] What is this?
VIRGINIA Sir Simon gave me this box before he died.
WASHINGTON But he's been dead for centuries.
VIRGINIA Only half dead, I think, would be more accurate. Now he's entirely dead. Finally able to sleep.
GROVER What's in the box?
OSCAR Yeah! Open it!
HIRAM Your sister can open the box or not as she pleases. She's not to be ordered around by monkeys like you two.
SOUND SMALL WOODEN BOX OPENS
MRS. OTIS Goodness!
MRS. UMNEY The long-lost Canterville jewels! Aaah.
SOUND BODY DROP
MRS. OTIS [exasperated sigh] She's fainted again.
AMB VIRGINIA'S BEDROOM
SOUND GENTLE GIRLISH SNORING
ELEANOR [coming on, exasperated ghostly groans]
SOUND LADYLIKE CHAINS
VIRGINIA [waking] Huh? Sir Simon?
ELEANOR [somewhat annoyed] No. You've seen to that, so now I have nothing better--
VIRGINIA Are you Lady Eleanor?
ELEANOR [surprised] Yes. He-- he told you--?
VIRGINIA He gave me something for you.
SOUND DRAWER PULLS OUT
ELEANOR A handkerchief?
VIRGINIA Open it.
ELEANOR But there's nothing--
VIRGINIA Look closer.
ELEANOR A spot?
VIRGINIA A tear.
ELEANOR [stunned] He ... cried--?
VIRGINIA He said he was very sorry for having killed you.
ELEANOR [skeptical] Oh? He did, did he?
VIRGINIA And for ruining your best bodice.
ELEANOR [believing] Oh!
VIRGINIA He hoped you could forgive him now and move on as well. He wants you to join him, where the nightingales sing, and he can give you a bouquet of white flowers.
ELEANOR Yes. [sigh] I could do with some sleep.
MUSIC - rise and out
OLIVIA Now that you know how to find us, don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already...