Opening Monologue Edit
My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning. A journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me and link my past to my future. A journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea to a house high above Widow’s Hill. A house called Collinwood. A world I've never known, with people I've never met. People who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows.
VICKY sits on a train trundling through the darkness.
ELIZABETH looks out the window and is joined by ROGER, who has poured himself a brandy.
Roger: A watched pot never boils. To coin a phrase.
Elizabeth: Don’t you think you ought to look in on your son?
Roger: The little monster is asleep, and I’m delighted.
Roger: I choose my words with infinite precision.
Elizabeth: Roger, you’re a fool!
Roger: Not one tenth the fool you are, my dear. Look at you, standing at the window, looking out at the night, waiting for someone who should never have been asked to come here in the first place.
Elizabeth: She’ll work out very well, I’m sure.
Roger: Doing what? Holding my little son’s hand? Comforting you when the shutters creak? Elizabeth, with all our ghosts we don’t need any strangers in this house, and you know it.
Elizabeth: I think I can be the judge of that.
Roger: But you don’t even know the girl! Elizabeth, I’m your brother, I’m thinking only of your own welfare. Why bring somebody all the way up from New York to do something we are perfectly capable of handling ourselves?
Elizabeth: Because I choose to do so!
Roger: Oh, come to your senses, Elizabeth! When the girl arrives, give her a month’s salary and send her back where she came from.
Roger: Why don’t you open the doors so that the whole town comes trooping through the house and have done with it?
Elizabeth: The girl will stay!
Roger: You are a fool, Elizabeth. Yes, you are. Inviting problems…
Elizabeth: The only problem I’ve invited is standing before me at this moment! I have asked Miss Winters to live here, and she’ll stay!
Roger lifts his glass in mock toast. Elizabeth leaves the room. Alone, Roger frustratedly grips the glass so hard that it SHATTERS.
Act 1 Edit
A CONDUCTOR comes to take BURKE’s ticket.
Conductor: Mister, we’ll be in Collinsport in ten minutes. Mister?
Burke gives no answer and the conductor moves on.
Vicky is sitting next to an old woman, MRS. MITCHELL.
Mrs. Mitchell: The winters! That’s what’ll get you down up here in Maine, they’re cold and damp! You…
Conductor: Excuse me. We’ll be in Collinsport in about 10 minutes, ma’am.
Vicky: Thank you.
Conductor: Erm, better have your baggage ready, Miss. Only two of you getting off here; won’t be here long.
He goes on.
Vicky: Doesn’t sound like much of a place, does it?
Mrs. Mitchell: This train hasn’t made a regular stop there in maybe five years, that’s what kind of a place it is! What are you doing in Collinsport for, anyway?
Vicky: A job.
Mrs. Mitchell: Now, what kind of a job would bring a girl like you all the way from New York? Let me tell you something, I’ve been living in this part of the country all my life, and I’ve only been in Collinsport once! Just once. That was more than enough for me…
FLASHBACK- MS. HOPEWELL’S OFFICE
MS. HOPEWELL is reading a letter.
Ms. Hopewell: Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard, Collinsport, Maine. Oh, I’m sorry, Victoria. That name doesn’t mean anything to me. When did you get this letter?
Victoria: This morning. Mrs. Hopewell, I don’t know why she should offer me the position, I’ve never heard of the woman!
Mrs. Hopewell: Well, obviously, she’s heard of you.
Victoria: But how?
Mrs. Hopewell: I wouldn’t know.
Victoria: Are you sure?
Mrs. Hopewell: Oh, now, Vicky, I already told you…
Victoria: Mrs. Hopewell, I’ve looked at a map. And Collinsport is only 50 miles from Bangor.
Mrs. Hopewell: I see… Well, surely you don’t think there’s any connection?
Victoria: I don’t know what to think. All I know is that I’ve spent most of my life here in the foundling home. Living, working now. And suddenly I get a letter from a woman I’ve never seen, living in a place I’ve never heard of. wouldn’t you say that’s a little bit strange?
Mrs. Hopewell: What I would say is that you’ve been offered a job as a companion and governess at a very fair rate of pay. Now the only question you have to answer is whether or not you want to take the position.
Mrs. Mitchell: You go to a small town after living in a city like New York, what are you going to do? What are you going to do?
Mrs. Mitchell: I don’t believe you heard a word I said.
Vicky: I’m sorry, I guess I was daydreaming.
Mrs. Mitchell: I was asking you, what are you gonna do for fun in a place like…
Conductor: Collinsport! Next stop, Collinsport!
Vicky: Oh my goodness!
She gets up to grab her bag from the overhead rack.
Mrs. Mitchell: Need any help, dearie?
Vicky: No, thank you. Well, goodbye.
Mrs. Mitchell: Bye! Oh, Miss? Good luck!
Act 2 Edit
Vicky and Burke are the only ones present.
Vicky: Excuse me. I wonder if you’d know if they have any taxis here?
Burke: I wouldn’t know what they have here. Not anymore.
Vicky: Well, how do they expect anyone to get into town?
Burke: Broomsticks and unicorns.
Burke: And chauffeured cars. Can I give you a lift? I can take you to the hotel. You’ll get a taxi there.
Vicky: That’s very kind of you, Mister…
Burke: Devlin. Burke Devlin.
Vicky: I’m Victoria Winters.
Burke: Welcome to the beginning and the end of the world, Miss Winters.
Vicky: I’m afraid I’m not going that far! Only to a house called Collinwood. Do you know it?
Burke: Yes, I do. Very well. Shall we go?
COLLINSPORT INN LOBBY
Burke and Vicky arrive, a porter carrying their bags in behind them.
Burke: Hasn’t changed a bit! Do you still want a taxi?
Vicky: How else will I get to Collinwood?
Burke: You can take my advice: get the next bus to Bangor and take the train home to New York. You’ll be home by morning.
Vicky: Thanks, but I’ll settle for the taxi.
Burke rings the desk bell. MR. WELLS enters from the restaurant.
Mr. Wells: Sorry, I was just getting a cup of coffee.
Burke: My name’s Devlin.
Mr. Wells: What? Why, Burke, it’s nice to see you…
Burke: Burke Devlin! I wired for three rooms.
Mr. Wells: Yessir. Oh, yes, Mr. Devlin, we…we’re expecting ya. Your room’s ready, I think we have a message for ya…
Burke: And I want a taxi for this girl.
Mr. Wells: Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t think that’ll be possible for a while. Harry, why you know Harry…
Burke: I don’t remember anyone.
Mr. Wells: Harry, er, Harry Jones, he runs our taxi. He…uh…he’s got a flat. He’;s getting it fixed.
Burke: How long will that take?
Vicky: Look, I can wait. I’m sure it won’t take too long.
Mr. Wells: Thank you, Miss.
Vicky: I’ve come this far, I’m sure I can wait another few minutes.
Burke: If you want to.
Mr. Wells hands Burke a LETTER.
Mr. Wells: The coffee shop’s right in there.I’ll let you know when your taxi’s here.
Vicky: That’s very kind of you.
Burke crumples up the letter.
Burke: When was this left here?:
Mr. Wells: Oh, about an hour ago.
Burke: The black ones go upstairs. The red one’s hers.
Vicky: What a strange man. You know him, don’t you?
Mr. Wells: Yeah. Since he was…this high.
(puts hand at knee length)
STRAKE is pacing around. Burke enters.
Burke: You were supposed to meet me at the hotel, Strake.
Strake: Well, hello, Mr. Devlin. Have a seat.
(gestures to the bartender)
Strake: Bring another beer for my friend.
Burke: Listen, Strake, I’m not in…
Strake: Aw, c’mon, Mr. Devlin, you pay for my work and I do it. Don’t begrudge a man a chance to buy his employer a drink.
Burke: Then let’s find out what I’m paying you for.
Strake: Fair enough.
(produces a bundle of papers)
Strake: You know, I should charge you double the way these people clam up… Let’s see now, where do you want me to start?
The bartender brings drinks and, as he goes, looks twice at Burke as if in recognition.
Strake: Nice fella. Thinks I’m a real estate salesman, that’sa laugh, isn’t it? Says this joint really starts jumping in about half an hour when the kids get here.
Burke: Suppose you get started? I want to know everything you have on the Collins family. Everyone who lives in that house on the hill and anyone who has anything to do with him?
Strake: Then can I go back home to New York?
Burke: Start talking.
Act 3 Edit
Victoria goes up to MAGGIE at the counter.
Maggie: Rough beef rare and coffee, right?
Victoria: Right. I’m starved.
Maggie: You are also a jerk.
Victoria: Beg your pardon?
Maggie: Jerk. J-E-R-K.
Vicky: Well, thanks.
Maggie: Don’t mention it. The name’s Maggie Evans. And right now I’m the last link in a long string of gossip.
Maggie: Sandwich rare enough for you?
Vicky: It’s fine, but I still don’t understand…
Maggie: It’s like this. A chauffer tells a desk clerk who tells a housekeeper who tells me that you’re going to work up in Collinwood. That makes you a jerk.
Vicky: But why?
Maggie: Listen, honey. The Collins family’s the biggest thing in this town. They own the biggest Cannery, the bisc-biggest fishing fleet, and the biggest, darkest, gloomiest old house. And they’re kooks. Every one of ‘em.
Vicky: I don’t believe that.
Maggie: Okay. Move in there. But take a good look in that mirror right now, because in two months that pretty hair of yours is going to be one glorious shade of gray.
Vicky: You make it sound like some old English novel with rattling chains, ghosts in the corridors.
Maggie: You think that’s wrong? I could tell you things about that house that’ll rock you from here, all the way back to the railroad station.
Vicky: Then I’d rather not hear them.
Maggie: There’s one born every minute. Okay, but you’re going to need your strength. Apple pie on the house and I won’t take no for an answer.
Vicky: Then I’ll say yes.
FLASHBACK- VICKY’S ROOM AT THE FOUNDLING HOME
Vicky is packing her bag while her roommate SANDY looks on.
Sandy: What’re you trying to do? Bury yourself?
Vicky: Just the opposite.
Sandy: With your looks and brains, you can get a dozen jobs right here in New York! Hey, that’s my slip you’re packing!
Vicky: I’m sorry. It’s not the job, Sandy. It’s the place.
Sandy: You’ve got a yen for fishing villages? Then go out to Long Island, have a ball! But a nowhere place like Collinsport, Maine?
Vicky: I don’t really want to go. But I have to.
Sandy: Come on, that doesn’t make any sense at all!
Vicky: But it’s true. This could be the most important step I’ve…I’ve taken in my whole life!
Sandy: To what?
Vicky: To me. To finding me. To seeing who I really am.
Maggie jars Vicky out of her reverie.
Maggie: Did you say you were looking for something?
Vicky: Oh…I was thinking.
Maggie: Say, you are in trouble! Talking to yourself and you haven’t even gone up to the hill yet. Maybe you belong in that house.
Vicky: Maybe I do…
Act 4 Edit
Strake tips a cigarette into an ashtray, poring over his papers.
Strake: The big problem was the old lady. Elizabeth Stoddard. Not much I could dig up on her.
Burke: Does she still run the business?
Strake: Well, she makes all the important decisions, if that’s what you mean. The manager of the fishing fleet comes up to the house to see her about once a week.
Burke: Does she ever go into town?
Burke: So…that hasn’t changed.
Strake: Best as I can figure out, Mr. Devlin, is that Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard hasn’t left that hill in 18 years.
Burke: Did you find out why?
Strake: Well, there are a number of stories going around. None of them really make much sense. It’ll all be in the report. Personally, I think she needs a keeper.
Burke: Perhaps she’s getting one.
Strake: Like who? You?
Burke: No. A girl who doesn’t know what she’s getting into.
Maggie: The thing I would do is stay here at the hotel overnight, go on up to the house in the morning, then make up my mind.
Victoria: Well, I’m not sure…
Mr. Wells: (returning) Maggie bending your ear?
Maggie: Just giving her a little sound advice, that’s all.
Mr. Wells: Don’t listen to her, Miss Winters. She’ll have you running out of here before you have time to unpack your bags. Your taxi’s here.
Vicky: Thank you.
Maggie: What are you going to do?
Vicky: Exactly what I came up here to do. Thanks for the pie.
Maggie: Consider it part of your last meal. Good luck.
Vicky: (on her way out) Tell me the truth…you were just trying to make me nervous, were you?
Maggie: Sure. Sure I was, honey. It’ll be a ball.
(Victoria leaves, leaving Maggie troubled)
Victoria’s cab arrives at the house. She knocks on the door and Elizabeth answers, shrouded in shadow.
Vicky: I’m Victoria Winters.
Elizabeth: Yes. Please come in, Miss Winters.
Vicky obliges, entering the
Where she finds herself dwarfed by the immensity of the great house.