Her Beating Heart

It slowly crawls closer every day, its scales glistening in the sun as it crinkles along, growing with each breath. At least, that is what the emptiness in my head feels like, though I know you cannot understand. Even today, in the nineteenth century, we have little knowledge of why one turns insane, why one scorns reality. And it is thus ignorance that has discarded me here on these grounds, just left waiting for a doctor who will not slaughter my spirit, yet raise me from the ashes of my mind.
Is this him?

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8. scene 8

Sofia is doing Lady Desseys hair.

Lady D- Has that delivery come yet?

Sofia- Yes ma’am. It came Monday.

Lady D- What did you do with the other table?

Sofia- We put it in the laundry ma’am. We were in need of a table there.

Lady D- Good. Is there any other problems?

Sofia- no, ma’am.

Lady D- I think I might go shopping for Georgina.

Sofia- But- ma’am, she ain’t the same size as ya. People will be wondering who ya buying for.

Lady D- She needs some clothes… all she wears is that black and purple dress.

Sofia- I could always make her something. Ma’am you need ta get away for a bit. Staying behind these walls ain’t doing you good. Go somewhere for the weekend.

Lady D- Where would I go?

Sofia- Ta your sisters in Brighton? A bit of the seaside ought to do ya a world of good.

Lady D- Yes. It does sound good.

Sofia- Go on. We can manage to look after the house while you’re gone.

Lady D- Fine. Send a telegram to my sister please Sofia. Then I will need to pack. The sooner I go the better. Georgina will be fine without me.

Sofia- of course ma’am. There. Your hair is finished.

Lady D- Thank you. (Looks in mirror)  What is the time please?

Sofia- eleven thirty. It’s too early.

Lady D- I will see her after lunch. When she can understand me.

(In the audience Georgina appears. She is expressionless and still. As they talk she moves forward every now and then she stares at someone. Penny is behind her.)

Sofia- It’s also good to get away from her. She is a lovely girl but it got ta be hard on you.

Lady D- Yes, it is. She used to be my perfect little girl.  Her eyes used to be vibrant and full of life, always smiling, always laughing in that little child way. I remember her like she was here yesterday.  But now they have lost that spark. They are dull and always so painful to look at. I cannot remember the last time I saw her laugh. I want that little girl back Sofia. This one scares me. My own daughter scares me! I do not know what to do. James always insists on new doctors but he blinds himself with work… always busy. I cannot help it, most days I just want to cry! Oh, Sofia. Why me? Why my little Georgina?

Sofia- You need to get away from here.

Lady D- Yes, yes I know. Before I go mad as well.

Sofia- Here ma’am. Maybe Mr Parkensons will fix her. He is different to all those other doctors.

Lady D- He is. Full of life, like Georgina used to be. He is still a boy.

Sofia- A boy who is ready to learn.

Lady D- What if she- She frightens him off?

Sofia- I don’t think he is the type ta be frightened off by her ma’am. Right then. I better go and send that telegram then check that they ain’t blown up the kitchen.

Lady D- Yes, go Sofia. Good day.

Sofia- Good day.

(Sofia exits. At the bottom of the stage Lilly, bill and Richard appear. Bill is trying to wash up. Lilly is sitting with her book on the stage stairs and Richard is standing next to her.)

Lilly- Bill, ya got ta put the water in first before the soap.

Bill- You have? Ya still got ta use water?

Richard- How else are you thinking of washing up?

Bill- I thought the soap made it clean.

Lilly- It does. But it ain’t able to do it on its own.

Bill- I’ll get some water then. (Bill exits)

Lilly- What’s this word Richard?

Richard- Circus.

Lilly- Oh! I love circuses. That’s how ya spell it? Brilliant.

Richard- You’re doing really well.

Lilly- Ah, thanks. And – so – did – the – horse.

(Bill enters with a bucket of water)

Richard- You have to heat the water up. Put it above the fire in the kettle.

Bill- Right…

(Bill exits)

Lilly- Poor Bill, he don’t know right from left but he means well.

Richard- He’s a good worker too. Come on, if you don’t start reading without being distracted you aren’t going to learn anything.

Lilly- Yes, sir. (Looks at book then back up again)  Have you seen Penny?

Richard- She’s probably with that dog she always feeds.

Lilly- Oh yeah, Old Kipps.

Richard- Look Lilly, you’re nearly finished.

Lilly- Yes, Right. It’s too hard Richard.

Richard- no, once you’ve got there, it’s easy. This is just the hard bit.

Lilly- I have learnt quite a bit. haven’t I?

Richard- You’re a fast learner.

Lilly- Ya think? Thanks, never been called that before.

(Bill enters with the bucket again.)

Bill- All heated up.

(Sofia enters)

Sofia- What ya two doin’?

Lilly- Richards teaching me to read. I’ve nearly finished my first book.

Sofia- Well that’s kind of ya but Lunch needs to be prepared. What ya doin’ Bill?

Bill- I’m washing up.

Sofia- At least somebody remembers what they’re meant to be doin’. And where’s Penny?

Richard- We think she’s feeding that dog of hers.

Lilly- Old Kipps.

Sofia- Can’t be. He always comes at half nine.

Lilly- She does love bein’ outside.

Richard- I’ll go and have a look for her.

(Penny runs past Georgina and enters the kitchen.)

Penny- Sorry I’m late.

Lilly- Where have ya been?

Penny- Nowhere.

Lilly- Where ya with Old Kipps?

Penny- Err, yeah.

Sofia- Oh well, ya here now. Help Bill with the washing up.

Lilly- I’ll help ya cook. What are they having today?

Sofia- Roast chicken.

Lilly- mmm, I’ll get the veg. Potatoes?

Richard- Roasted.

Sofia- Let’s get a move on then.

(On stage Lord D enters)

Lord D- Loraine?

Lady D- Oh, Hello.

Lord D- How are you feeling?

Lady D- I have been better, but I need to talk to you.  I just need to get away from it all. Archer dying, Georgina’s constant devils, your rage, my nerves. It is all getting too much. She has been worse since you burned her book and I cannot handle it. I am to go to my sister’s.

Lord D- When?

Lady D- Tomorrow.

Lord D- Tomorrow? You did not think to tell me sooner?

Lady D- I only organised this an hour ago.

Lord D- How long are you going for?

Lady D- Only five days.

Lord D- Fine. If you need longer, take it. I will tell the stable hand to get the carriage ready. Have you packed?

Lady D- No, not yet. Sofia is going to help me later.

Lord D- Georgina?

Lady D- It’s Twelve thirty. Of course she does not know.

Lord D- What are your plans for her?

Lady D- I hoped you would look over her.

Lord D- I have other priorities. Sofia and Richard are sure to keep her out of mischief.

Lady D- She needs her father, not someone who is paid to be with her.

Lord D- Do not tell me how to deal with my daughter. I will do as I see fit.

Lady D- Like you did when she was seven?

Lord D- Agreeing an appropriate punishment?

 Lady D- Appropriate? Georgina couldn’t even move, and all because she dreamt.

Lord D- I will not discuss this with you.

Lady D- of course not.

Lord D- You are my wife and you shall obey me, as so shall Georgina.

Lady D- He could not teach either.

Lord D- She refused to learn.

Lady- No, she went off and did it herself.

Lord D- He was a good teacher.

Lady D- That’s why Archer spent hours with her, going through the work she should have been doing with Mr Tray.

Lord D- He wasted his time on her.

Lady D- You wasted Georgina’s time with that tutor, and now look where we are, one dead and the other as good as.

Lord D- Do not speak of Archer like that. He fought for his country and died bravely, as a man.

Lady D- For what?

Lord D- For our future. Do not concern yourself with war, woman, soldiers die so that we can live here in comfort.

Lady D- I would rather live here in hardship with my son and my daughter, healthy, happy, then how we are now, James.

Lord D- How is that?

Lady- I am not blind.

Lord D- I will see you at dinner.

(Lord D exits. Sofia comes back up to Lady D with a dress in her hands.)

Sofia- Ma’lady, your washing. Is everything alright?

Lady D- Yes I-

(Lady D jumps up and screams)

Sofia- What is it?

Lady D- Something moved over there.

(Sofia goes to look.)

 Sofia- It’s a snail, ma’Lady.

Lady D- A snail? I hate snails. Remove it please, Sofia.

Sofia- Of course.

(Sofia picks it up and exits. We go to the servants.)

Richard- Stop eating the food.

Lilly- It all looks too yummy.

Bill- And smells yummy.

Penny- And tastes yummy.

Richard- I give up.

(Sofia enters.)

Sofia- Which one of ya let a snail loose in the house?

Penny- Gee told me to.

Sofia- Gee?

Penny- Georgina. She said it would be funny. What happened?

Sofia- It scared the life outta the Lady.

Penny- (Giggles) Gee and I made a place for the snails and she told me what they eat and how to find it. I have lots of snails.

Lilly- I thought Miss was meant to make her a better person.

Richard- Listen to her speaking. Already starting to talk properly.

Penny- Yes.  Georgina and I even play cricket.

Richard- Cricket? You’re letting her play cricket?

Sofia- She was better than you.

Richard- Only because she always hit me with the ball.

Penny- She’s very good.

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