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THE DONKEY MAN

by Bill Stanton

(SUMMER DAY, BEACH SOUNDS OF SEASIDE RESORT)

ANNCan we talk ?

DAVIDTalk ?

ANNYes.

DAVIDI rather thought we'd tried that.

ANNYes.

DAVIDIt didn't seem to get us anywhere. (PAUSE) Did it ?

ANNI suppose not.

DAVIDThe trouble is you won't forget it. Will you ?

ANNI meant for her sake.

DAVIDHmm. (PAUSE) By the way, where is she ?

ANNShe's all right.

DAVIDAre you sure ?

ANNShe's gone over to the donkeys.

DAVIDOh.

ANNShe won't go near the water.

DAVIDYou know that, of course.

ANNShe's got that new yellow dress on.

DAVIDThe one I bought her.

ANNShe won't risk spoiling that.

DAVIDOh.

ANNTell me, how do you manage to do that ?

DAVIDDo that ?

ANNWorry about her ?

DAVIDOf course I worry about her.

ANNYes. Now.

DAVIDNow ?

ANNWhile you're here. When you're not

DAVIDWhat about when I'm not here ?

ANNYou manage then.

DAVIDManage what ?

ANNManage not to worry about her. How do you do it ?

DAVIDLook, you were given custody.

ANNYes. (PAUSE) I think we should talk.

DAVID(IN TONES OF OFFICIAL GUIDE) And so, ladies and gentlemen, we return to (LAMELY) where we were.

ANNWhy can't you ? Talk about it ?

DAVID(RISING) I'm going to look for her.

ANNSuit yourself. DAVID (GOING) She's only eight.

(CUT TO ANN'S INNER VOICE)

ANN IIWhat's the use ? It'll only end in a row if we talk. You should have heard yourself, though. Going on. Saying he ought to stay for her sake. Her sake. It would spoil her holiday, you said. All that jazz. Where's your pride, girl ? I mean, going to see her ? That bitch ! (BEGIN FADE) You've got no pride ! That's your trouble ! (FADE OUT. CUT IN VOICE OF THAT WOMAN. DOMESTIC BACKGROUND)

THAT WOMANI'm sorry, I wasn't expecting

ANNHe doesn't know I'm here. I I'd rather he didn't know.

THAT WOMANOf course. How are you ?

ANNHow am ? Oh, yes

THAT WOMANWould you like tea ?

ANNTea ? Yes er, no. No, thanks.

THAT WOMANYou managed to park ?

ANN Park ?

THAT WOMANIt's not easy here.

ANNI came on the bus.

THAT WOMANI see.

ANNA neighbour's picking Judy up. From school.

THAT WOMANOh yes ?

ANNGive him up, please !

THAT WOMANGive him up ?

ANNShe's only eight ! She can't understand ! She misses him ! (BEGIN FADE) She can't understand !

(FADE OUT. CUT IN BEACH SOUNDS)

DAVIDShe's not there !

ANNNot there ?

DAVIDWith the donkeys !

ANNOh ?

DAVIDThe donkeys aren't there !

ANNOf course not ! The tide's coming in. You know that. The man always takes them back to the stables. Just before high tide.

DAVIDFor Christ's sake ! Aren't you even just a bit concerned ?

ANNI leave that sort of concern to you.

DAVIDAnd what's that supposed to mean ?

ANNJust because she's missing for a few minutes !

DAVIDShe's been gone nearly an hour !

ANNYou've been gone a lot longer !

DAVIDOh, not again !

ANNI'm surprised she let you come !

DAVIDDon't be so damn bitchy ! (PAUSE) I came for her sake. Judy's.

ANNI assumed you didn't come for any other reason. But I'm still surprised she let you come. Even for Judy.

DAVIDYou talk as if she's unreasonable. (BEGIN FADE) It's not like that at all !

(FADE OUT. CUT IN VOICE OF THAT WOMAN. DOMESTIC BACKGROUND)

THAT WOMANI take it you're aware it's all a ploy ?

DAVIDA what ?

THAT WOMANUsing the child as bait.

DAVIDI wish you wouldn't keep calling her 'the child' ! Her name's Judy.

THAT WOMANI know.

DAVIDThen bloody well use it, can't you ?

THAT WOMANLanguage !

DAVIDYou talk as if she's a an abstraction !

THAT WOMANYou talk as if you're still involved.

DAVIDShe is my daughter !

THAT WOMANVery well, then. Go to her !

DAVIDYou don't mind ?

THAT WOMANI mind very much.

DAVIDI'm sorry.

THAT WOMANNot that it matters.

DAVIDNot that it ?

THAT WOMANThat's right.

DAVIDI'm not with you.

THAT WOMANThat's right, too !

DAVIDRight ?

THAT WOMANI've had all I can take of four in a bed !

DAVIDWhat the hell do you mean by that ?

THAT WOMANYou want to go, don't you ?

DAVIDI ought to go.

THAT WOMANThen go ! I don't give a damn whose sake it's for !

DAVIDI told you that

THAT WOMANOnly if you're going, don't come back !

DAVIDWhat !

THAT WOMANYou heard ! You've got no more pride than she's got. The way she came crawling to me ! I'd see you dead first ! And I'm sick and tired of playing second fiddle in your quartet ! (BEGIN FADE) Especially in bed !

(FADE OUT. CUT IN DAVID'S VOICE)

DAVIDWell, aren't you going to look for her ?

ANNWhat's got into you ? She's gone off like this before. You know she's crazy about donkeys. It's a perfectly safe beach.

DAVIDHow can you say that ? You read about these things all the time.

ANNThings ?

DAVIDShe could get hurt. There are men.

ANNThere's one anyway.

DAVIDI'm here, aren't I ?

ANNAll right, then. Go and look for her !

DAVIDWhat about you ? Aren't you coming ?

ANNLook, buster, just because you've suddenly found a conscience

DAVIDThat's a lousy thing to say !

ANNSome people say lousy things. Some people do them.

DAVIDAnn !

ANNSteady ! D'you realize that's the first time this weekend you've called me by my name ? Be careful ! You might slip and say 'Darling' or something. She wouldn't like that, would she ?

DAVIDAre you coming, or aren't you ?

ANNAll right. You go that way along the beach, and I'll go this way. We'll meet back here, OK ? (BEGIN FADE) Don't look so worried ! She'll be all right !

(FADE OUT. CUT IN ANN'S INNER VOICE)

ANN IIPoor David ! You're the world's worst philanderer ! She makes all the running, the bitch ! Not you

(CUT IN DAVID'S INNER VOICE)

DAVID IIChrist, what a mess ! She 's right, though. About a conscience. I wonder where Judy is ? Ah, there's one of those beach wardens

DAVIDI say ! You wouldn't have seen a little girl in a yellow dress ? About seven ? No ? Well, thanks, anyway. Yes, they are, aren't they ?

DAVID IIBloody silly question anyway. Must be dozens of kids in yellow dresses. I I don't suppose anything's happened to her, really. Better get back to Ann. See if she's found her. (BEGIN FADE) Won't be long before the sea's on the pebbles.

(FADE OUT. CUT IN ANN'S VOICE)

ANNAny luck ?

DAVIDNo.

ANNNot to worry. It'll be easier when the tide's up.

DAVIDEasier ?

ANNWell, everybody packs on to the pebble ridge then. Less chance of missing her.

DAVIDOf course. (PAUSE) Ann !

ANNYes ?

DAVIDI think perhaps we should talk.

ANNYou start at that end of the ridge, and I'll take this end.

DAVIDDidn't you hear what I said ?

ANNYes. Come on ! The sea's almost on the pebbles.

DAVIDNo !

ANNWhat's that ?

DAVIDWe'll look together. We'll both start from the far end. We might see her on the way there.

ANNJust as you like. It'll take longer, that's all.

DAVIDWe'll do it together. Besides, I want to talk to you.

ANNNot just now, David, please !

DAVIDWhat ! Only a while back you were all for it.

ANNYou weren't.

DAVIDI am now. So why can't we talk ?

ANNIt's different.

DAVIDDifferent ?

ANN I'll talk to you when you start to have a conscience about me.

DAVIDYou've lost me.

ANNQuite. (PAUSE) Just now you're worried about her, that's all.

DAVID I haven't given her a thought !

ANNNot her ! I meant Judy.

DAVIDIs that any reason we can't talk ?

ANNIt's a good reason to talk about Judy.

DAVIDWell ?

ANNIt's not a good reason for talking about us.

DAVIDI don't understand you.

ANNNo, you don't. But just listen to me. Because you're going to have to try ! (HER VOICE BEGINS TO SHAKE) You were the one who left, remember ? Not me ! I've had a long time being responsible for her. Too long. Doing everything. Things a father should do. I I've managed. So just don't start feeling responsible now. You haven't the right

DAVIDShe's my daughter !

ANNYou mean it's your name on the birth certificate.

DAVIDAnn, please !

ANNYou're not a father. Not now. Father's a name to be proud of. You don't have a right to it.

DAVIDI've every right !

ANNYou have not ! Rights are what you earn by your duties. (BEGINNING TO BREAK DOWN) Where were you last week when she was crying with earache ? Well ? Where were you father ? Sleeping with that bitch ! (SHE BEGINS TO WEEP OUTRIGHT) Is that one of your rights ? Well, is it ?

DAVIDAnn, please ! People are looking !

ANNLet 'em ! Let 'em see what sort of father she's got ! (GOING) Go away ! Just go away !

DAVIDAnn ! Darling ! Please ! (BEGIN FADE) Ann, wait for me !

(THE SOUND OF THE SEA RISES. DROWNING HIS VOICE. TAKE DOWN, VOICE OF POLICEMAN OVER)

POLICEMANI wouldn't worry if I were you, sir. Kids do go off, you know. Hours sometimes. It's a very safe beach. I don't think she'll come to any harm.

DAVIDShe's been gone nearly two hours !

POLICEMANHow is she with policemen, sir ? I mean, would she come and ask us to find you ? Tell us she was lost ?

DAVIDOh yes, I think so. We've always taught her that.

POLICEMANThat's good. I'll make enquiries, of course. Where are you staying ?

DAVIDAt the pub up the hill there. The Rising Sun.

POLICEMANThen I suggest that you or your wife stays there. While the other one goes on looking for her. That way we'll know where to contact one of you, at any rate.

DAVIDWell - er, I'm afraid that's not on.

POLICEMANNot on ?

DAVIDNo. You see, my - my wife isn't staying there. She's at The Cedars.

POLICEMANAh. (PAUSE) Ah, I see.

DAVIDI'll ask her to stay there, and I'll search the beach.

POLICEMANVery good, sir. Now if I could just have a few particulars. The little girl's name. And a brief description, of course. The clothes she's wearing. That sort of thing. (BEGIN FADE) Right, sir, fire away . . .

(FADE OUT. CUT IN SOUND OF SEA AND ESSENTIAL SEAGULL, DAVID'S VOICE OVER)

DAVIDOh, there you are ! I've been looking everywhere ! Ann ! What's the matter ? You look

ANNNothing, I hope.

DAVIDI don't understand.

ANNThe man at the coastguard station I thought I should let them know he said he thought he'd seen a little girl in a yellow dress. He said she was riding on a donkey.

DAVIDBut had she any money for that ?

ANNHe said she was going the other way. Towards the town. (PAUSE) She doesn't know the town at all.

DAVIDAnn, it might not have been Judy at all.

ANNNo.

DAVIDDon't worry ! We'll find her.

ANNWhat did the police say ?

DAVIDThey said not to worry. They'll put out a call. They want you to go back to The Cedars and wait there.

ANNNo !

DAVIDAnn, you must ! When they find her they want to know where one of us is, at least. I'll go back to the beach and keep looking.

ANNYes, all right. I'm sorry. You'd better come with me and get the field glasses.

DAVIDIt's going to be rotten for you. Just sitting and waiting.

ANNYes.

DAVIDIf you'd rather look yourself, I don't mind waiting at The Cedars.

ANNNo. It's all right. You can get along faster than me. You go.

DAVID(GOING) Ann !

ANNYes ?

DAVID(DISTANT) I'll find her, I promise.

ANN(SHAKILY) Please do, David ! Quickly !

(CUT. FADE IN SOUND OF PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM)

POLICEMANAttention, please ! Attention, please ! The parents of Judy Webster are looking for her. She was last seen near the donkeys on the beach. She has fair hair and she is wearing a buttercup yellow sun dress. She is eight years of age. If anyone has seen a little girl answering to this description will they please inform the police or the coastguard ? Attention, please ! Attention, please ! (BEGIN FADE) The parents of Judy Webster are looking . . .

(FADE OUT. CUT IN VOICE OF POLICEMAN)

POLICEMANMrs Webster !

ANNYes ?

POLICEMANWe've had a report, Madam there might be nothing in it, you understand that a little girl answering to the description of your daughter was seen walking with the donkeys as they were leaving the beach.

ANNYes ?

POLICEMANDoes that seem likely, Madam ?

ANNLikely ? Yes, I suppose so. She's crazy about animals. Especially horses. Thank you ! I'll go up to the stables.

POLICEMANWe've already checked there, Mrs Webster.

ANNOh.

POLICEMANThere's no one there, I'm afraid. And the donkeys have been fed and stabled.

ANNAnd the donkey man ?

POLICEMANHe's not there, Madam.

ANNBut, surely, someone must know where he is !

POLICEMANI'm afraid not. He doesn't work like that, if you follow me. He just well, comes and goes, sort of. A bit erratic, you might say.

ANNErratic ?

POLICEMANOh, we've nothing against the man. Nothing like that. But he's not what you might call a solid citizen.

ANNI don't understand.

POLICEMANYou know . . . Bare feet. Never wears a shirt on the beach. And he has one of those medallion things round his neck.

ANNYou mean he's eccentric ?

POLICEMANWell, yes. I guess you could call him that.

ANNIs he is he safe ?

POLICEMANSafe, Madam ?

ANNI mean with children.

POLICEMANThere's not a lot known about him. He's never been in trouble with us. Tell you the truth, he seems to want to avoid us. Most of the people down there the stall-holders and boatmen and such they always like a word or two with us when we see them. But not him. But, to be fair, we've nothing against him really.

ANNBut you are looking for him ?

POLICEMANOh yes ! Of course we don't know for sure that he's even seen your daughter, you understand. But we'll ask him when we see him. Perhaps when you see your husband you'll let him know. So that he can keep an eye out, I mean. He'll be easier to spot than a little girl.

ANNWhy do you say that ?

POLICEMANOf course you've not seen him yet. You'll easily recognize him. Early thirties, I'd say. Dark curly hair. And he's very brown. Hardly ever wears a shirt, you see. A bit of a gipsy, like. Oh, and he wears a gold earring in one of his ears. The left, I think.

ANNThanks. I'll let my husband know, He said he'd come back here every half-hour. To see if there's any news.

POLICEMANI should try not to worry, Mrs Webster. If I had a pound for every time this happens in a season I wouldn't have to worry about my next pay-rise. Could she find her own way back here ? On her own ?

ANNI I'm not sure. I don't think so. We've only been here a couple of nights.

POLICEMANAh well, that does make it a bit more difficult.

ANNDifficult ?

POLICEMANWell, they do often come back under their own steam, you know, But if she doesn't know the way then we'll just have to find her ourselves, won't we ? (BEGIN FADE) Don't worry, Madam. We'll be in touch.

(FADE OUT. CUT IN DAVID'S VOICE)

DAVIDI'm sure she's not on the beach. I've scoured it from end to end. More than once. I don't see how I could have missed her if she was there. Besides, there aren't many people about now. Most of the families have gone home for tea. It's getting a bit too cool to sit about.

ANNThe police have been.

DAVIDYes ?

ANNThey seem to think she might be with the donkey man.

DAVIDOh, good ! Let's hope so, anyway.

ANNI I'm not sure about that. He sounds odd.

DAVIDOdd ?

ANNHe's - well, they don't seem to know a lot about him. How can they say that ? He lives here ! They see him all the time. He's dark and gipsyish, they say, and he wears an earring. He doesn't wear shoes. And mostly he doesn't wear a shirt.

DAVIDI don't much care for the sound of that, either. I'll find the stables.

ANNHe isn't there ! The police have been.

DAVIDAll right, I'll look round the town then.

ANNI'll come with you.

DAVIDAnn, you ought to stay here. Somebody should.

ANNI'm not staying here any longer. Mrs Chambers is back now. I'm sure she'll keep an eye open for her. Besides, I'm not even sure Judy knows her way back here.

DAVIDJust as you say. But perhaps we'd better split up. We'll have a better chance that way.

ANNYes, yes. Of course you're right. (BEGINNING TO BREAK DOWN) Oh God, please let her be

DAVIDGet your jacket, Ann. It's turning chilly. Come on ! We'll find her !

ANNYes, yes. It's all right, David, I'm coming. But I must have a word with Mrs Chambers first. (GOING) You get my jacket, will you ? It's in my in our room.

(CUT. CUT IN VOICE OF MRS CHAMBERS)

MRS CHAMBERSYes, of course, Mrs Webster. Only too pleased. I'm sure you know that. There isn't any news of her then ?

ANNOnly that they say she's been seen with the man who has the donkeys.

MRS CHAMBERSOh, him.

ANNMrs Chambers, is there something wrong ?

MRS CHAMBERSOh, no, no !

ANNWhat do you know about him ?

MRS CHAMBERSWell, I don't know him, you understand. Seems nobody does, much.

ANNMrs Chambers, it's important. Judy may be with him.

MRS CHAMBERSWell, they do say he's been in one of them places.

ANNPrison ?

MRS CHAMBERSOh, no, no ! There's nothing of that. No, the - the asylum. Mental hospital, you know.

ANNOh, God !

MRS CHAMBERSOh, he's harmless enough, they say. But he only seems to talk to children. Won't have much to do with grown- ups. And policemen upset him, they say.

ANNI must go !

MRS CHAMBERSI reckon he must be what they call in these parts a natural. Simple, you know. But I never heard of him doing anything like this before.

ANN Like - like this ?

MRS CHAMBERSWell, taking a child.

ANNYou will keep an eye out for her, won't you ? I I must go ! My husband's waiting.

(FADE IN SEA SOUNDS. DAVID'S VOICE OVER)

DAVIDTake no notice of the silly old fool, Ann. We're not even sure Judy's with him. It's all hearsay.

ANNI think she is. She - she will be all right, won't she ?

DAVIDCome on ! Let's try the playground again.

ANNYes.

DAVIDHold on ! Here's the policeman again.

POLICEMANGood evening, sir. I see you brought your wife after all.

DAVIDYes, the landlady at The Cedars promised to keep a look-out there.

POLICEMANI see. Mrs Chambers, you mean.

DAVIDYou know her ?

POLICEMANYes, sir. Has she been saying ?

ANNShe said this man this donkey man was, well, unstable.

POLICEMANI wouldn't take too much notice of that sort of talk, Mrs Webster. As I said, he's never given us any trouble.

DAVIDLook, is it certain she's with him ?

POLICEMANI think so, sir. We've had another report that he was seen with a little girl. And we've no report of any other child missing.

DAVIDOh, I see.

POLICEMANI'm afraid we've got a problem.

DAVID} What's that ?

ANN} Oh, no !

POLICEMANThis chap well, he's known to get a bit upset at the sight of a policeman. Or a uniform, perhaps. We're not sure which it is. He well, he just takes off.

DAVIDTakes off ?

POLICEMANRuns away. And if your little girl is with him !

ANNOh, God ! What can we do ?

POLICEMANThe sergeant suggests that if we see him we keep clear, and let you tackle him. Otherwise well, there's no saying what he might do.

DAVIDAnn, I think you'd better stay out of this. Leave him to me. If we see him, I'll do the tackling. (BEGIN FADE) Come on, let's try the playground.

(FADE OUT. FADE IN VOICE OF POLICEMAN)

POLICEMANYou haven't seen her then, sir ?

DAVIDNo. Good God, how can a man disappear like that ? Somebody must have seen him.

POLICEMANYes, sir, they have. We've had several sightings reported. But the people who reported it, well, they'd no reason to suspect anything, you know.

DAVIDNo, I suppose not.

POLICEMANLook, sir, don't you think your wife would be better back at the hotel.

ANNNo !

POLICEMANIt's getting late, madam. There's not a lot you can do that we're not doing already. Me and the sergeant will be looking out for them until we hand over to the ten o'clock shift.

DAVIDYes, of course.

POLICEMANDon't get me wrong, sir. I'm not saying that me and the sergeant'll be packing it in at ten. But we'll be glad of the extra help.

ANNThat's very very kind of you.

POLICEMANI've got a little girl that age, myself.

DAVIDLook, Ann, won't you go back ? There won't be a lot we can do when it begins to get dark. I'll stay with the constable here if you don't mind, constable ?

POLICEMANI think that's a good idea, sir. Then if when we see him, you'll be on hand.

ANNThen I'll go with the sergeant !

DAVIDAnn !

ANNThink about it ! Suppose the sergeant sees him first ? He'd have to wait till they get hold of one of us !

DAVIDAll right, darling. I couldn't go back there either.

POLICEMANRight, sir. You hang on here then, and I'll take your good lady to the sergeant. Shan't be many minutes ! (BEGIN FADE) If you're ready, madam ?

(FADE OUT. BRING UP SOUND OF SEA. TAKE DOWN AGAIN, VOICE OF ANN OVER)

ANN(SOBBING) David ! David !

DAVIDHere ! (PAUSE) Darling ! What is it ?

ANNShe's back ! She's back ! She's at the hotel !

DAVIDOh, thank God ! Thank God ! (PAUSE) Ann !

ANNYes ?

DAVIDIs she - is she all right ?

ANNI don't know ! I haven't seen her. Mrs Chambers rang the police station. The sergeant had only just heard when we got there.

DAVIDCome on, then ! Run ! Give me your hand !

(THE SOUND OF THEIR FEET IS HEARD DYING AWAY. CUT IN VOICE OF MRS CHAMBERS)

MRS CHAMBERSCheeky as you like ! Brought her right to the door, he did ! But then he saw my husband, and he didn't stop to argue, I can tell you. Just left her there, and ran off !

POLICEMANThe doctor's with her now, madam.

ANNOh no ! You mean ?

POLICEMANWe always do, madam. Call the doctor in. (PAUSE) Ah, here he is now !

DAVIDWell ?

DOCTOR (APPROACHING) Mr Webster ?

DAVIDThat's right.

DOCTORShe's fine ! No harm done. She's rather tired, perhaps. She's done a fair amount of walking, I gather. But she's not even hungry, she says.

ANNBut I don't understand. He left her and ran away.

DOCTORSo I'm told. It doesn't surprise me.

DAVIDYou mean ?

DOCTORI know the man in question. I expect he took fright at seeing this lady's husband.

MRS CHAMBERSMy husband ?

POLICEMANIt was the uniform, I expect. The coastguard uniform.

ANNBut why should a uniform do that ?

DOCTORIt might take a long time to go into that, Mrs Webster. I've treated this man in the past. It's just one of those things.

DAVIDBut why a uniform ?

DOCTORWe all have fears, Mr Webster. Sometimes they're rational, sometimes not. I have a horror of frogs. Don't ask me why.

DAVIDBut surely there's a reason for this one ?

DOCTORYes, there is. But it's not one I'd want to discuss, except with the patient himself, you understand.

DAVIDDoes that mean he gets away with it ?

DOCTORIt might be best to talk to your daughter first, Mr Webster. I don't think you'll find her any worse for her experience.

DAVIDThat's because she's not old enough to understand ! She doesn't appreciate the danger.

ANNLet's leave it, David !

DAVIDLeave it ? Leave it ? What about next time ? With some other kid ?

ANNYour wife is right, Mr Webster. Better leave it.

DAVIDHe's got to be stopped.

DOCTORThat would depend on what you thought you were stopping, I imagine. But I'd speak to your daughter before you do anything.

DAVIDWe will ! Come on, Ann ?

ANNThank you, doctor. Thank you very much. And you, constable. All of you ! (BEGIN FADE) I we're very grateful.

(FADE OUT. CUT IN DAVID'S VOICE)

DAVIDIt's no good, Ann. She doesn't know what we're talking about.

ANNShe's eight !

DAVIDI know, I know ! But how do we know he hasn't harmed her ?

ANNThe doctor said not.

DAVIDNo, not physically, But there are other ways.

ANNDavid, weren't you listening ? She likes him !

DAVIDBut would she if she ?

ANNIf she weren't innocent, you mean ?

DAVIDSomething like that.

ANNWhy don't we talk to him ?

DAVIDI don't think I want to. Not that sort.

ANNIt's not my idea we should talk to him, actually.

DAVIDOh ?

ANNIt was the doctor's idea. When you said you wanted him charged. He said we should both talk to the man. He said if you understood him, you would forgive him.

DAVIDForgive him ? Can you forgive him yesterday afternoon ? And last night ?

ANNShe's back. And she's unharmed. That's all I care about.

DAVIDHow can you overlook that ?

ANNYou forget. I've had to learn to overlook a lot of things.

DAVIDAll right, if you want it that way, we'll talk to him before we do anything. In the morning, though. (BEGIN FADE) It's late. I've got to go.

(FADE OUT. CUT IN ANN'S VOICE)

ANNThere he is ! Over there ! With the donkeys !

DAVIDRight ! Leave this to me !

ANNNo !

DAVIDWhat d'you mean, no ?

ANNI'm not sure what I mean. I just don't think you're the right person. Not just now.

DAVIDI just don't understand you.

ANNNo. You're much too sorry for yourself. You're not the one to talk to him.

DAVIDThat's right ! Rub it in !

ANNOh, David, I'm not doing that ! I'm much too glad. About - about everything. About Judy, and everything. That woman she just doesn't matter any more !

DAVIDNo, you're right. She doesn't.

ANNBecause of Judy.

DAVIDNo, not because of Judy. Not entirely, anyway.

ANNOh, David, I'm glad !

DAVIDAnn, darling ! What can I say ?

ANNDon't say anything. Just go and get your things.

DAVIDMy things ?

ANNFrom the Rising Sun.

DAVIDDo you mean that ?

ANNIf I did anything before, I mean that made you leave, I'm sorry !

DAVIDAnn, please !

ANNWhen you're hurt, you bang about. I know. That's why I don't want you to talk to the donkey man.

DAVIDI see. Right, then. I'll see you in the usual place on the beach, eh ? (GOING) Shan't be long !

(PAUSE)

ANN(APPROACHING) I'm sorry, I don't know your name. I I wanted to thank you for bringing my little girl back last night !

(THE DONKEY MAN'S VOICE IS GENTLE AND SURPRISINGLY 'CULTURED')

DONKEY MANIt was no trouble at all !

ANNShe says you were kind to her. That you put your coat round her, and gave her something to eat. (PAUSE) Can I do anything in return ?

DONKEY MANThere really is no need, I assure you.

ANN I mean, in return for your kindness.

DONKEY MANNo, thank you. Just be kind.

ANNJust be ?

DONKEY MANYou mustn't think when you cast your bread on the waters, it's going to come back on the same wave with interest.

ANNI'm surprised to hear you say that you don't believe in casting your bread on the waters.

DONKEY MANI'm afraid you misunderstand me. I merely said don't expect it back on the same wave.

ANNYou mean it might be much later ?

DONKEY MANI mean it might be another wave entirely. It might be returned by someone else. No, I mean it will be.

ANNYou believe that ?

DONKEY MANDon't you ?

ANNWell, yes, I suppose I do. I really hadn't thought about it much. (PAUSE) They told me you don't much like talking to grown-ups.

DONKEY MANI find it difficult. Sometimes.

ANNYou're talking to me.

DONKEY MANYou forgive people.

ANNDo I ? How do you know that ?

DONKEY MANI don't know it. I feel it.

ANNHow odd ! Like children do !

DONKEY MANNo, not quite like children. Children don't forgive.

ANNOh, come !

DONKEY MANNo, they do better. They forget.

ANNI'll remember that ! (PAUSE) Tell me, why did it take so long to bring her back ?

DONKEY MANShe didn't know the way. And I - I couldn't ask, you see. And she couldn't remember where you were staying. So we just had to walk until she saw a place she knew. I'm sorry it took so long. It must have been a very bad time for you.

ANNBut you fed her and kept her warm. There's no way I can thank you enough. I know, I know ! Just be kind.

DONKEY MAN(LAUGHS) That's it !

ANNMay I ask you a great favour ?

DONKEY MANBe my guest.

ANNWill you let Judy come and help you with the donkeys ?

DONKEY MANIf you think she would like that.

ANNI know she would ! And I very much want her to, if you wouldn't mind.

DONKEY MANAny time she wants to come.

ANNThank you ! Thank you very much ! I'll tell her ! (BEGIN FADE) She'll be delighted !

(FADE OUT. CUT IN DAVID'S VOICE)

DAVIDAnn, darling ! Whatever's wrong ?

ANN(WEEPING) It's nothing !

DAVIDWas it him ? That donkey man ?

ANNNo, it's me ! I feel shabby !

DAVIDYou should have let me speak to him !

ANNJudy darling, the donkey man says you can help him any time you like !

DAVIDAnn, are you out of your mind ?

ANNI suppose I am. In a way. At least, I'm not in the same mind I was.

DAVIDWhat on earth do you mean ? I don't understand !

ANNThat makes two of us, darling. I I think it may take some time, that's all.