One-Act Plays
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a play in one-act

by Horace Holley

The following one-act play is reprinted from Read-aloud Plays. Horace Holley. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1916. It is now in the public domain and may therefore be performed without royalties.



[Darkness. A door opens swiftly. Light from outside shows a WOMAN entering. She is covered by a large cape, but the gleam of hair and brow indicates beauty. She closes the door behind her. Darkness.]

THE WOMAN: Paul! Paul! Are you here, Paul?

A VOICE: Yes, Elizabeth, I am here.

THE WOMAN: Oh thank God! You are here! I felt so strange—I thought ... Oh, I cannot tell you what I have been thinking! Turn on the light, Paul.

THE VOICE: You are troubled, dear. Let the darkness stay a moment. It will calm you. Sit down, Elizabeth.

THE WOMAN: Yes.... I am so faint! I had to come, Paul! I had to see you, to know that you were.... I know I promised not to, but I was going mad! Just to touch you, to hold you ... but it's all right now.

THE VOICE: It is all right now, Elizabeth.

THE WOMAN: I thought I could stand it, dear, I thought I could stand it. It wasn't myself—I swear to you it wasn't—nor him. I, I can stand all that, now. It was something else, something that came over me all at once. I saw—Oh Paul! the thing I saw! But it's all right now....

THE VOICE: It is all right, Elizabeth, because ours is love, love that is made of light, and not merely blind desire.

THE WOMAN: Ours is love. We are love!

THE VOICE: So that even if we are separated—even if you cannot come to me yet, we shall not lose conviction nor joy.

THE WOMAN: Yes, Paul. I will not make it harder for you. I know it is hard, and that it was for my sake you could bring yourself to bind me not to see you again.

THE VOICE: Love is, world without end. That is all we need to know.

THE WOMAN: World without end, amen.

THE VOICE: And because I knew the power and truth of love in you I put this separation upon us.

THE WOMAN: For my sake. I know it now, Paul! And trust me! You can trust me, Paul! Not time, nor distance, nor trouble nor change shall move me from the heights of love where I dwell.

THE VOICE: And because I knew the happiness of love could not endure in deceit, nor the wine give life if we drank it in a cup that was stained, I put you from me—in the world's sight we meet no more.

THE WOMAN: In the world's sight ... and in the sight of God and man shall I be faithful to him from now on, in thought and deed and word, as a heart may be. Yes, Paul ... even that can I endure for your sake. For I know that hereafter—

THE VOICE: For love there is neither here nor hereafter, but the realization of love is ever according to his triumph. This has come to me suddenly, a light in the darkness, and I have won the truth by supreme pain.

THE WOMAN: That, too, Paul. Pain.... I have been weak. I gave way to my nerves, but now in your presence I am strong again, and I shall not fail you.

THE VOICE: My presence is where your love is, and as your love so my nearness. Love me as I love you now, and I shall be more real to you than your hands and your eyes.

THE WOMAN: Bone of one bone, and flesh of one flesh....

THE VOICE: Spirit of one spirit! The flesh we have put away.

THE WOMAN: That, too, Paul. Oh the glory of it! So be my happiness that I shall not wish it changed, even before the Throne!

THE VOICE: I have given you happiness?

THE WOMAN: Perfect happiness, Paul. I am happy, happier than I ever was before. But before I go home from here for the last time, turn on the light, Paul, that we may be to each other always as the wonder of this moment. For the last time, Paul. Paul?... Paul? Where are you? Why don't you answer?... Paul! (She turns on the light. It is a studio. At the piano, fallen forward upon the keys, sits the body of a man. There is a revolver on the floor beside him.) Paul!... As I saw him! Is this my happiness. Oh God, must I?


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