Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Escape
Show: The Brute
Date: Apr 11 1948

CAST
ANNOUNCER
NARRATOR
NED WILMOT
CHARLEY WILMOT, his older brother
FATHER WILMOT
JERMYN, the ship's builder
MAGGIE, Charley's love
COLCHESTER, the ship's captain
HAWKINS (1 scream)
HELMSMAN
THE CROWD, at the ship's launch
THE CREW, of the ship

ANNOUNCER:

Getting impatient for baseball season to start? Have a touch of spring fever? Want to get away from it all? We offer you -- ESCAPE!

MUSIC:

DRUM ROLL ... LONG EERIE ACCENT

NARRATOR:

You are in mid-ocean, aboard a jinx ship. Already, nine men have died. And you know that some malignant force is aimed at you -- from which you cannot escape.

MUSIC:

MUSSORGSKY'S NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

ESCAPE, designed to free you from the four walls of today for a half hour of high adventure!

MUSIC:

DRUM ROLL ... EERIE ACCENT ... FADES OUT BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

Tonight, we escape to the North Atlantic in the year Nineteen Hundred and to a sailing ship whose very name struck dread in sailors' hearts, as Joseph Conrad told it in his famous story, "The Brute"!

MUSIC:

A GRAND INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) You could never tell it just by looking at her, proud and strong and beautiful on the outside. You couldn't see the black heart inside of her, and you'd never know she'd killed at least a dozen men and maybe more. But I knew her, knew her for the murderin' she-devil she was. I saw her the day she killed her first one, and I was there, too, when she finally made her big mistake and killed the wrong person. But that was a long time later. Oh, she had a name all right, but after that first day, her first killing, nobody but the family ever used it again. Everyone else from that day on would look at her, half-afraid and half-snarling, and they called her -- the Brute!

MUSIC:

HUGE ACCENT ... THEN FADES BEHIND--

SOUND:

BOATYARD BACKGROUND (WHISTLES AND BELLS, ET CETERA)

NED:

(NARRATES) I remember I was fourteen the day my father took me down to the South Thames boatyard to watch the launching of the ship. My brother Charley was there, of course, eight years older than me and very proud of his one gold stripe, now that he'd been made an officer in the Apse line. Charley and father were talking, I just stood and listened to them and didn't say much of anything myself.

CHARLEY:

Look at her, Dad. Ever see a ship in your life with lines like that? I bet she'll outsail any clipper in the China trade.

FATHER:

Oh, that remains to be seen, Charley. How soon are they going to launch her?

CHARLEY:

Any minute now. Oh, I'd give a lot to be sailing on her, instead of on the Malcolm Apse.

FATHER:

Oh, the Malcolm's a good ship, son; as good a ship as any the Apse family owns.

CHARLEY:

Oh, I'm not kicking. I'm glad enough to be through apprenticeship and get my commission. But, even at that, I'd almost rather be a boatswain on this ship than third mate on the Malcolm.

FATHER:

I understand that Colchester's to be her captain.

CHARLEY:

Yes, that's right. Oldest commander with the Apse and Sons line. Look at the size of her, Dad! She's a full two thousand tons.

JERMYN:

(APPROACHES, CORRECTING) Less half a ton, Charley.

FATHER:

Oh, good morning, Mr. Jermyn.

JERMYN:

(GREETINGS) Er, Mr. Wilmot, hello Ned.

NED:

How do you do, sir?

JERMYN:

No, Charley, she came to one thousand, nine hundred, ninety-nine and a half when we measured her up.

CHARLEY:

Well, two thousand tons or not, Mr. Jermyn, you'll never build a better ship than this one.

JERMYN:

I don't know, Charley. I built her the way Mr. Apse wanted her. She's big and she's stout, but-- I don't know.

FATHER:

And what's your reason for saying that, sir?

JERMYN:

No reason that makes any sense. We've had the devil's own time with her. Cabin doors jammin' when they shouldn't; hatch covers that wouldn't fit after they'd been measured up; blocks foulin' for no reason at all. (SIGHS) I don't know, Mr. Wilmot, but if she were a human bein', I'd say that maybe she's insane.

FATHER:

Oh, come now, you've been working too hard, Mr. Jermyn. Better take a vacation now that she's finished.

JERMYN:

Well, I could certainly use--

CHARLEY:

I say! That's Maggie Colchester up there, the captain's niece. Is she going to do the christening?

JERMYN:

That's right, Charley, and I'd better get down below now. (MOVING OFF) My own men are going to knock the staves loose and let her slide down into the water.

FATHER:

Well, good luck, Mr. Jermyn.

JERMYN:

(OFF) Thanks, Mr. Wilmot. Come on board for the celebration after she's launched. Bring the boy.

FATHER:

(CALLS AFTER HIM) Fine, thank you; we shall be there!

CHARLEY:

They'll let her go any minute now. Dad, I'm going to sail on that ship someday.

FATHER:

Oh, you'll probably sail on a lot of Apse line ships before you're through, Charley.

CHARLEY:

Look. Look, they've given Maggie the champagne now, and she's going to christen it.

FATHER:

(OVERLAPS WITH BELOW) Er, yes, listen.

MAGGIE:

(OFF) Shall I do it now?

JERMYN:

(OFF) Yes, Miss Colchester.

MAGGIE:

(OFF) I christen thee "The Apse Family."

SOUND:

BOTTLE SMASHES AGAINST SHIP'S HULL

FATHER:

The Apse Family. So that's what they're naming her, eh?

JERMYN:

(SHOUTS, OFF) All right, men! Knock out the staves! Let her go!

SOUND:

WOODEN STAVES KNOCKED OUT WITH HAMMERS ... SHIP BEGINS SLIDE INTO WATER ... A CROWD CHEERS, WHISTLES, APPLAUDS ... THEN IN BG

CHARLEY:

Look, dad, she's starting to move, there she goes!

FATHER:

Yes, and look at that speed! I never saw a-- (SHOUTS) JERMYN! LOOK OUT!

SOUND:

FILLS A PAUSE ... SOME IN THE CROWD SCREAM IN HORROR ... MIXED WITH CHEERS AND THE SHIP'S WHISTLE BLASTING ... MURMURING CROWD CONTINUES IN BG

CHARLEY:

Good Lord! He fell right into the way, and she-- She went over him!

FATHER:

He didn't fall. A tinder rolled off the deck and knocked him under.

CHARLEY:

She slid right over him -- Mr. Jermyn, the man who built her.

FATHER:

She's launched in blood, if that means anything. She's a brute and a murderess now, Charley. Still think you'd like to sail on her?

CHARLEY:

It was an accident; it doesn't mean anything.

FATHER:

Perhaps not.

CHARLEY:

I'll sail on her someday, sooner or later. I will sail on her!

MUSIC:

HEAVY ACCENT TOPS EVERYTHING ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) Well, the way things worked out, I was the one to sail on her first instead of Charley. He'd gone on out to the Orient aboard the Malcolm, and six months later, when I started my apprenticeship, I found the company had assigned me to report to Captain Colchester on the Apse Family -- or "The Brute" as everybody was calling her privately.

MUSIC:

FADES OUT BEHIND--

SOUND:

TUGBOAT'S ENGINE ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) There was some kind of mix up in the sailing orders, and by the time I came on board the tug already had a line on the big sailing ship and was starting to ease her stern-first out into the channel.

COLCHESTER:

All right now, ease ahead there! Take up the slack!

NED:

(NARRATES) Captain Colchester was at the tap row shouting orders to the tug captain and the mates were forward somewhere handling the check line.

COLCHESTER:

You've got the slack now! Haul away!

NED:

(NARRATES) I stood at the waist waiting for a chance to report in and watching a young fellow about my own age who was doing something or other up aloft on the mizzenmast above me. The tug had drawn the line out taut, but the ship hadn't started to move yet.

COLCHESTER:

You've got no weigh on her yet! Turn your engine up to full speed!

SOUND:

TUGBOAT'S ENGINES GROW LOUDER ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) The tug was churning the water to froth and the hawser was tight as a bowstring, but we still didn't move.

COLCHESTER:

Keep her up! Haul on her [?]

NED:

(NARRATES) Then suddenly the ship gave a lurch and started back like a bucking horse.

SOUND:

SHIP LURCHES ... CREW SHOUTS IN PANIC

NED:

(NARRATES) The men forward had no chance to ease the check cable, and a second later it snapped.

SOUND:

CABLE SNAPS

NED:

(NARRATES) The ship plunged on back and then sheared over ...

SOUND:

SHIP SMASHES AGAINST THE PIER-HEAD

NED:

... smash against the pier-head that knocked me sprawling on the deck. And at that moment--

HAWKINS:

(SCREAMS IN HORROR)

SOUND:

BODY CRASHES TO DECK

NED:

(NARRATES) The lad who'd been working aloft on the mast crashed down onto the deck not ten feet away from me. And he lay there without moving.

COLCHESTER:

Give a hand up here in my waist, straight.

HELMSMAN:

Young Hawkins just fell out of the tops.

COLCHESTER:

Aye. (PAUSE) Ah, it's too bad.

NED:

(UNNERVED) Is he - is he dead, Captain Colchester?

COLCHESTER:

He's dead, boy. You get a hold of yourself; don't stand there tremblin'. You never seen anybody die before?

NED:

Yes, sir. On the day they launched this ship.

COLCHESTER:

Oh, Jermyn, eh? You're young Ned Wilmot, I suppose, the new apprentice?

NED:

Yes, sir.

COLCHESTER:

And no doubt you may have heard this ship called by an unpleasant name once in a while.

NED:

Yes, sir. The Brute!

COLCHESTER:

(STERN) Well, you'll be kind enough to remember, while you're aboard, that her name is "The Apse Family," and she's had her share of accidents, the same as any other ship. Is that quite clear?

NED:

Yes, sir.

COLCHESTER:

Get along forward with you, and stow your gear away on the fo'c's'le. You'll take over young Hawkins' duties for the time being.

NED:

Yes, sir.

MUSIC:

ACCENT, THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) I sailed aboard the Brute for the next four years and watched her kill nine men during the time. We got so, we tried to outguess her; try to figure how she'd do it the next time. But no matter what we'd think, we never were right. And it wasn't only the killing. It was - everything. Most ships have little ways all their own, and you learn about 'em and allow for 'em. Ah, but not her. She was like a - a crazy woman. You never knew what she'd do next. I remember once, off the Gold Coast, she ran before a gale for two days as pretty as ya please -- and then broached-to twice in the same afternoon, flung the helmsman clean over the wheel the first time, and the second time swamped herself, fore and aft, and split out every stitch of canvas. And after we got the decks cleaned up, we found one seaman had gone overboard. He was her fifth, I guess it was. Or maybe - the sixth. Oh, she was beautiful, the Apse Family was, big and proud and beautiful. And, along with it -- a killer.

MUSIC:

ACCENT, THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) A black-hearted, sea-going brute!

MUSIC:

ACCENT, THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) My brother Charley was on the China run all that time, first on the Malcolm and later on the Lucy Apse, but we never happened to hit port on the same time. Finally, the time of my apprenticeship was up. We boomed into London at the end of the trip. I went before the board for my papers. (SHORT LAUGH) I guess they figured anybody who could stay alive for four years on the Brute must be a seaman. Anyway, I passed, and Mr. Apse handed me my sailing orders along with a commission. I was assigned as third mate to Captain Colchester on the Apse Family!

MUSIC:

HUGE ACCENT, THEN OUT

COLCHESTER:

Well, congratulations, Ned. Glad you're goin' to stay with us.

NED:

Thanks, Captain Colchester.

COLCHESTER:

You've been a hard-workin' apprentice, and I've no doubt but what you'll be a good officer. In fact, we have a man on board who'll make sure of that.

NED:

(PUZZLED) Why, what - what d'you mean Captain? I--

COLCHESTER:

Got a new first mate on this trip. (CALLS) Come in, Charley!

NED:

(ASTONISHED) Charley?!

CHARLEY:

Well, hello there, youngster. I say, you've been doing a bit of growing in the last five years.

NED:

(DELIGHTED) Charley, I didn't even know you were in port!

CHARLEY:

Been in for a week; down country, though. I hear you've fooled the board.

NED:

(GOOD-NATURED) Careful, man! You're talking about your own third mate.

CHARLEY:

Yes, so they tell me. Well, you'll be jumping lively on this trip, me boy.

NED:

Easy, easy. Don't forget, I know this ship and you don't.

CHARLEY:

Well, I'll learn it quick enough. Been wanting the chance for a long time. And between us I think we can even break this jinx.

COLCHESTER:

Lads, there'll be no talk of a jinx on this trip. At least not in the cabin as long as Maggie's goin' along.

NED:

Maggie? Who's Maggie?

COLCHESTER:

Ask your brother; I think he's the one who talked her into the trip, though she claims it's for her health. (HEARTY CHUCKLE) I'll leave you two to get acquainted. (MOVING OFF) We'll be about ten days loading if you've got any plans.

NED:

What's he talking about, Charley? Who's Maggie?

CHARLEY:

His niece, Maggie Colchester. You remember her, the girl who christened the ship?

NED:

Of course! Only - only you're not--?

CHARLEY:

Hasn't Dad told you where I've been spending shore-leaves for the last year and a half?

NED:

No, Charley, I didn't know anything about it.

CHARLEY:

Well then, let me show you something. Here. Now, if I have my way, Maggie'll be wearing this before the trip's over. Here, take a look.

NED:

(IMPRESSED) Blimey. That's all right!

CHARLEY:

Yes, I bought it in Cape Town. It's a blue-white diamond set in platinum.

NED:

Is it big enough to go on her finger?

CHARLEY:

Oh, it's big enough, all right. And that's where it's going, if I can talk her into it.

MAGGIE:

(APPROACHES) And who's going to talk who into what, Charley?

CHARLEY:

Oh, er-- (NERVOUS CHUCKLE) Maggie, I was, um, saying that, um, um, I hoped I could talk you into going ashore for dinner with me.

MAGGIE:

Oh, were you now? (GIGGLES) You big liar!

CHARLEY:

Oh, Maggie, this is my brother Ned; Ned, this is Maggie.

MAGGIE:

How d'you do?

NED:

(IMPRESSED) Hello.

MAGGIE:

And are you one of the officers, too?

NED:

I - I'm the new third mate.

MAGGIE:

Well, I certainly hope you're more truthful than your brother ...

CHARLEY:

Maggie--

MAGGIE:

... whose invitation to dinner -- I am accepting with pleasure.

CHARLEY:

(PLEASED) Oh, really?

MAGGIE:

(CHEERY, MOVING OFF) See you both later!

CHARLEY:

Oh, right you are. 'Bout an hour.

NED:

(PAUSE) Charley, she's - she's lovely.

CHARLEY:

Oh, she's more than that, Ned. She's -- everything, as far as I'm concerned.

NED:

Ho, in that case, good luck. I hope you get her.

CHARLEY:

Well, we'll see about that. Anyway, with Maggie aboard, we've got to make sure this jinx ship stays on good behavior for once.

NED:

Mm, it'll be the first time, if she does.

CHARLEY:

Well it's the first time we've had both the Wilmots on board together. We'll tame her down, Ned. We'll make her calm and peaceful as an old workhorse. Just you wait and see if we don't!

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) And the strange part of it was -- he was right. We stood out past Gravesend and made the passage to the China coast in a hundred and twenty one days of the finest weather you could ever hope to meet. And, for the first time in her bloody life, the old ship settled down and sailed herself as neat as you please. Charley and I would talk about it sometimes when Maggie wasn't around, and he'd always laugh, and say the Brute knew when she'd met her match, that she didn't dare try to buck the two of us! But I - I was more ready to give the credit to Maggie, to think maybe she'd charmed the old murderess, the way she'd charmed all the rest of us. From the second day out, Maggie was the secret darling of every man on board. She was all over the ship -- here, there and everywhere -- with a red tam and her bright blue eyes, never still a minute -- and having the time of her life. If she'd come along for her health, she'd found it before we passed Gravesend.

MUSIC:

FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN IN BG, FADES OUT AT [X]

NED:

(NARRATES) We raised a storm on the passage back and ran four days in a heavy gale. I stood by and held my breath -- ready for anything, and nothing happened. The old lady Apse Family held up her head and sailed along like a seagull. Any time before, she'd have buried her gunwale in the quartering seas, but now all the water she shipped, you could put in a teacup. A hundred and nine days from Hong Kong, we raised the Dungeness Light, and early the next morning, picked up a tug off Sheerness for the long tow up river to London. [X]

SOUND:

TUGBOAT'S ENGINE PUTTERS ... CONTINUES IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) The ship followed along on the tow line like a puppy on a leash, and we moved slowly up the river past Gravesend. All of us were glad to be home, but Maggie most of all, I think, because she'd never been at sea so long before. I had to smile at the way she danced around in the bows, picking out one landmark after another as we came to them; sometimes standing up on the spare anchor we'd taken in on the fore deck in order to get a better look at the riverbanks ahead. She wasn't wearing the ring yet but I knew she was going to, and was only teasing Charley as long as possible.

SOUND:

TUGBOAT'S WHISTLE BLASTS .... ENGINE OUT

CHARLEY:

What's wrong, Ned? The tug's stopped her engines.

NED:

Collision up ahead in the channel, Charley. Looks like a yawl and a schooner fouled together.

CHARLEY:

Oh, yes. Well, looks like they're clearing it up now. Guess we can move again in a couple of minutes. (CALLS) Maggie?! Why don't you go up to the afterdeck? You're in the way up for'ard there!

MAGGIE:

(OFF) Oh, I'm all right, Charley! Stop worrying, we're almost home!

NED:

(LAUGHS) Better save your orders for the crew, Charley. She outranks you.

CHARLEY:

Oh, I'll take orders from her any day. Yes, we are almost home, Ned. We've had a lucky voyage.

NED:

It's the first halfway peaceful trip I've ever made on the old Brute.

CHARLEY:

Oh, I told you we'd tame her down. She's turned over a new leaf, Ned.

NED:

Well, it won't last long if she keeps on shearing off there and drifting back down the channel.

CHARLEY:

Huh? Oh, yes. And we're heading straight for those fishing smacks.

NED:

Better have the tug start up and hold a taut line on her. (WHISPERS UNEASILY) I've seen her do this before.

CHARLEY:

Yes. (CALLS) Ahoy the tug! Take up the slack and get us straight in the channel! Hold her against the current!

SOUND:

TUGBOAT'S WHISTLE BLASTS .... ENGINE PUTTERS, CONTINUES IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) Any other ship would have held steady for the two or three minutes we'd stopped, but not the old Apse Family. And now, when the tug tightened up on the hawser pulling at an angle across her bows, she wouldn't respond, wouldn't budge. The old girl wanted her own way. She was just as stubborn as ever.

CHARLEY:

(CALLS) Ahoy the tug! We're still drifting! Open up to full speed!

SOUND:

TUGBOAT'S WHISTLE BLASTS

CHARLEY:

Confound her. Never saw a ship act like this.

NED:

(NARRATES) The heavy hawser was pulled so tight it was humming, and the tug's paddles, with her engines full, whipped up the water like a millrace. And then -- it happened. The heavy towing chock tore loose from the deck.

SOUND:

CHOCK CRASHES AND DRAGS LOOSE ACROSS THE WOODEN DECK ... THEN IN BG

CREW:

(YELLS WARNINGS, IN BG)

NED:

(NARRATES) The hawser began sliding across the bow, ripping out rail stanchions like matchsticks!

SOUND:

WOODEN RAILS RAPIDLY SNAP ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) Then I saw it was going to sweep under the flukes of the spare anchor -- the anchor that Maggie was standing on!

CHARLEY:

(SHOUTS) Maggie, get off that anchor! Look out!

MAGGIE:

(TERRIFIED) Char-lieee! (LONG HIDEOUS SCREAM)

SOUND:

HUGE CRASH OF ANCHOR SMASHING INTO SIDE OF SHIP ...

NED:

She tried to jump clear, but she was too late! The great anchor had tipped up on its side, clasped her about the waist like a monstrous arm of steel. It had carried her with it, and swung down and over, and smashed against the side of the ship!

SOUND:

SHIP'S WHISTLE BLOWS

CHARLEY:

She went into the water. Take charge of the deck, Ned. (MOVING OFF) I'm going in after her!

COLCHESTER:

(APPROACHES) Ned? Ned, was that Maggie?

NED:

Yes, sir. She's - she's overboard, Captain Colchester.

COLCHESTER:

(WHISPERS IN HORROR) Maggie. (TO HIMSELF) Oh, the dirty murderin' brute; now it's women she's killing. (SHOUTS) Let go the port anchor! Haul the ship as she is and get the boats over!

CREW:

(OFF) Aye, sir!

MUSIC:

SOMBER ... SNEAKS IN ... CONTINUES IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) I hadn't told Charley, and I didn't say anything about it to Captain Colchester, but I stood there. And I knew it wasn't any use. Because I'd seen the way the heavy anchor had carried her over - and then swung in to smash her against the bow - before it dropped her - into the water. And I'd seen the way that water beneath the bow was all - colored red.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) They found her at late afternoon when the tide turned, and she floated clear of one of the mooring buoys, and the next morning we tied up in the London docks. The men had been happy at coming into their homeport, but now they remembered how she'd been happy, too -- their own darling. I'd never before seen a crew leave a ship so quietly. And some of them, when they reached the wharf, turned back and cursed her under their breath.

MUSIC:

MINOR ACCENT ... THEN FADES OUT BEHIND--

NED:

(NARRATES) Finally, it was only Charley and I, alone on the quarterdeck, and Captain Colchester was below somewhere in the cabin.

CHARLEY:

(DEEP IN GRIEF) She never wore it, Ned. The ring. She never wore it.

NED:

But she - she would have Charley. I know she meant to. She was - she was just having a little fun with you, that's all.

CHARLEY:

With all of us on board, why did the Brute have to go for Maggie? Why?

NED:

I guess there's not much answer for that.

CHARLEY:

She was everything I wanted. Everything.

NED:

Yes, Charley. I know.

CHARLEY:

I talked her into making the voyage. It was my idea.

NED:

It's no good, Charley, this kind of thinking. I guess you know that.

CHARLEY:

I don't know. She's everything I wanted.

NED:

Charley, I--

SOUND:

COLCHESTER'S FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

COLCHESTER:

(OFF) Oh, Mr. Wilmot?

NED:

Over here, Captain.

COLCHESTER:

(CLOSE) I'm going ashore. The ship keeper's come aboard, and now the two of you are free to go whenever you like.

NED:

Thank you, sir.

COLCHESTER:

(WEARY) Charley, I-- Oh, nothing. I'm resigning command in the morning; I'll never set foot on board her again as long as I live.

NED:

I feel the same way, sir.

COLCHESTER:

Well, come into the company office in a day or two, and sign out for the log. Good day, gentlemen.

SOUND:

COLCHESTER'S FOOTSTEPS DEPART

NED:

Charley -- we'd better go ashore, too. We're done here.

CHARLEY:

Yes, I - I suppose we are.

NED:

I'll arrange to have our gear picked up later. There's no use of-- Uh, er-- (SHOUTS) CAPTAIN, LOOK OUT!

SOUND:

RATTLE OF UNSPOOLING ROPE FOLLOWED BY CRASH! OF FALLING GEAR

CREW:

(OFF, SHOUTS) Captain! (CALLS, TO NED) Clear?!

NED:

(CALLS TO CREW) MISSED HIM! (TO HIMSELF) That - that yard arm off the main mast - fell right behind him.

COLCHESTER:

(OFF, YELLS) Ahhh, you missed me, ya murderin' brute! And that was your last chance, too!

CHARLEY:

(DISTRESSED) Ned? Ned, that yard was made fast at Dungeness, and now it falls out of the tops with the ship lying still at the wharf.

NED:

Yes, Charley. Come on; let's go ashore.

CHARLEY:

(HYSTERICAL) Wasn't the devil satisfied for one trip? Is there no way of stopping her? How many more does she want to kill?

NED:

(SHARPLY) Charley.

CHARLEY:

(HELPLESSLY) Oh, Ned. (EXHALES) Ned, take me home.

MUSIC:

BRIEF SOMBER BRIDGE ... CONTINUES IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) Charley was ten years older by the time we reached home, and it was two weeks before he'd do anything more than sit in his room and stare at the wall, saying nothing. Captain Colchester carried out his threat and resigned from the company the morning after we docked, and I filed my application for a transfer. The Apse Family was reloaded and ready to sail, but she stayed on, lying at the wharf with nobody to take her out, and that's the way things stood for two weeks until, one morning, a bombshell dropped.

MUSIC:

ACCENT, THEN OUT

SOUND:

DOOR CLOSES

CHARLEY:

Hello, Ned.

NED:

(RELIEVED) Charley! I wondered where you went this morning.

CHARLEY:

Well, I - I left the house early.

NED:

How do you feel?

CHARLEY:

Fine. Ned, Mr. Apse tells me you've applied for a transfer -- another ship.

NED:

(UNCOMFORTABLE) Well, yes. Yes, I did, as a matter of fact. You saw old man Apse?

CHARLEY:

Yes, I stopped in at the office this morning. Ned, it's up to you, of course, but I hope you'll change your mind.

NED:

Not a chance.

CHARLEY:

The ship sails tomorrow morning.

NED:

(SURPRISED) Oh? So they finally found somebody crazy enough to take her out?

CHARLEY:

Yes, they did. Me.

NED:

(SHOCKED) You? You're going to skipper the Brute?

CHARLEY:

That's right, Ned.

NED:

But I - I thought--

CHARLEY:

It's a short voyage, North Atlantic run. Be awfully glad to have you along. Somebody I can depend on. If you - feel like signing on again.

NED:

(DISBELIEF) Charley--!

CHARLEY:

Of course, it's up to you.

NED:

(SIGHS) All right, Charley. I'll sign on again. Be glad to.

MUSIC:

BRIEF BRIDGE, THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) We boomed out past the Sheerness light and headed North, hugging a lee shore in a stiff breeze. The ship drove ahead as steady as a barge with scarcely a roll or a quiver. But in spite of the smooth and easy way she handled, I couldn't help feeling uneasy. I could sense the black spirit of her, brooding somewhere down inside, mocking and taunting us with her bloody memories and waiting for a new chance. By nightfall we were running hard in along the Kettering coast where those rocky headlands break at intervals out of the shelving, sandy beaches. The onshore wind held steady in our quarter, and the sun sank down behind the land some three miles away.

MUSIC:

MILD ACCENT, THEN CROSSFADES WITH--

SOUND:

HOWLING WIND, CREAKING SHIP ... CONTINUES IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) It wasn't quite full dark yet when Charley sent for me. I came up to where he was standing alone near the wheel.

CHARLEY:

That you, Ned?

NED:

Right, Charley. Boatswain said you wanted to see me.

CHARLEY:

Yes, I did send for you, Ned. (CALLS, TO HELMSMAN) Hold her steady as she goes, close to the wind.

HELMSMAN:

(OFF) Aye, sir.

CHARLEY:

(QUIET) I've been standing here - thinking about Maggie, Ned. How she scrambled around over the decks, making friends with everybody, having the time of her life.

NED:

(STERN) Charley, you've got to stop it.

CHARLEY:

(CALM) No, I'm all right. I like to think about her.

NED:

(UNHAPPY) It's this ship and all the memories around it. It's what I was afraid of.

CHARLEY:

No, no, it's all right. (BEAT) Ned, I want you to take charge of the crew and give an order. Of course you'll question the order -- but you'll carry it out anyway. Do you understand?

NED:

What's - what's the order, Charley?

CHARLEY:

Have all hands prepare to abandon ship.

NED:

What? But why? There's nothing wrong--

CHARLEY:

(FIRM) Mr. Wilmot. It is not an officer's place to question an order by the captain. You'll do as you're told.

NED:

(BEAT) Yes, sir.

CHARLEY:

You can give the order now, Mr. Wilmot.

NED:

Charley, I can't let you-- (BEAT) Very well, Captain. (SHOUTS TO CREW) ALL HANDS ON DECK! STAND BY THE BOATS! PREPARE TO ABANDON SHIP!

SOUND:

CREW'S FOOTSTEPS RUN AROUND DECK

CREW:

(OFF, MUTTERING AND REPEATING ORDERS TO EACH OTHER)

CHARLEY:

All right, helmsman, find your place at the boats; I'll take over the wheel.

HELMSMAN:

Aye, sir.

NED:

(PLEADS) You don't know what you're doing, Charley. We're in no danger. There's no reason to abandon ship.

CHARLEY:

We're always in danger aboard this black-hearted brute. I've put her on the quarter now; you can get the boats in the water when she yields. Hurry on.

NED:

(SHOUTS) STEADYYYYYY! GOING ON THE QUARTER!

CHARLEY:

Easy on. All right. Now!

NED:

(SHOUTS) ALL HANDS! LOWER - BOATS!

CREW:

(OFF, MUTTERING AND REPEATING ORDERS TO EACH OTHER, CONTINUES IN BG)

SOUND:

BOATS LOWERED INTO WATER ... CONTINUES IN BG

CHARLEY:

You shouldn't have any trouble running ashore to that beach there to the South.

NED:

Eh? What about you?

CHARLEY:

I'll hold her steady until everybody's clear. You'd better go over the side; your boat's standing there.

NED:

Oh, no. Not until you do. I'm staying with you, Charley.

CHARLEY:

Don't be a fool, Ned. I'm doing this alone.

NED:

No, Charley, not while I'm here.

CHARLEY:

(FIRM) Mr. Wilmot -- you will abandon ship and take charge of the boats in the water, and that's an order.

NED:

Charley, I can't just--!

CHARLEY:

(SHARPLY) Mr. Wilmot!

NED:

(BEAT) Very well, Captain.

CHARLEY:

(AFFECTIONATE) That's the spirit, lad. Learn to obey orders and step lively. You'll be a seaman yet. Good luck, Ned.

NED:

Thanks, Charley. We'll stand by for you in the boat.

CHARLEY:

Of course, lad. Bye.

NED:

Bye.

MUSIC:

AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES) I slipped over the gunwale and dropped down into the boat that trailed alongside on a line from the rail. I'd hardly hit the bottom when the line slackened, and I knew Charley had cut us loose from the ship. He was alone on her now -- alone in the night sea -- with the black Brute!

MUSIC:

BIG ACCENT ... THEN OUT

SOUND:

OARS ROWING, CONTINUES IN BG

HELMSMAN:

Look, sir! Look! He's leaning her over, away from the wind!

NED:

(NARRATES, URGENT) Charley had put the helm over hard. With a terrible shudder of her dark sails and a smother of white foam from her bows, the great ship heeled about in a sharp turn and then began to drive ahead like some mad thing before the wind. Straight before the wind and straight toward the shore!

HELMSMAN:

Look, sir, the rocks on the headland! She's going to smash herself!

NED:

(NARRATES) Faster and faster she plunged her head through the weltering seas! Faster and faster on the back of the gale while the black-hearted spirit of her screamed in the rut lines!

HELMSMAN:

Look, sir, the rocks! What in the name of heaven is he going to do?!

NED:

(NARRATES) And now for one long instant she hung poised at the top of a plunge and then drove smashing downward onto the rocks!

SOUND:

LONG LOUD CRASH! OF SURF AND THE SHIP SMASHING INTO ROCKS ... SLOWLY FADES TO CALM WATER

MUSIC:

MELANCHOLY, IN BG

NED:

(NARRATES, SOMBER) We stood by, as close as we dared, for three hours, while the killer ship pounded herself to bits in the surging sea. But we didn't find my brother Charley. And, from the first minute, I knew we wouldn't. Because just before I'd left the ship, there, by the helm, in the light of the binnacle lamp, I'd seen the thing he was holding, clenched tight in his hard brown fist. It was a tiny, platinum ring set with a blue-white diamond.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

ESCAPE is produced and directed by Norman Macdonnell, and tonight brought you, "The Brute" by Joseph Conrad, adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield, featuring Dan O'Herlihy as Ned Wilmot, and Eric Rolf as Charley Wilmot, with Nina Clouden as Maggie, Jeff Corey as Captain Colchester, Wilms Herbert as Jermyn, and Parley Baer as the father. Music is conceived and conducted by Wilbur Hatch.

MUSIC:

DRUM ROLL ... EERIE ACCENT

ANNOUNCER:

Next week ...

NARRATOR:

... you will find [yourself in] the remote hill country of Afghan, caught in an ambush by the fierce Pathan tribes, trapped in a hopeless fight from which there seems - no escape.

MUSIC:

MUSSORGSKY'S "NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN" ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

Next week, we escape with Rudyard Kipling's gripping story "The Drums of the Fore and Aft." Good night, then, until this same time next week when once again we offer you ... ESCAPE.

MUSIC:

CLOSING THEME

ANNOUNCER:

This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.