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This is a scene for possible use in the sixth part of the Mrs. Hawking story, the one where they take on Jack the Ripper. This scene is designed to strongly advance the Mary-Arthur relationship, and demonstrate that Arthur is a special sort of man.

The timeline of the Mrs. Hawking series presents some design challenges. I decided when I original wrote the first Mrs. Hawking that it took place in 1880-- based on the (what turned out to be erroneous) belief that was when the Sherlock Holmes stories began. It was a fairly arbitrary decision at the time, but then I made design choices around it, such as making use of the timing of the Second Battle of Kandahar and the Indian Rebellion.

This is mostly fine, except the latest major historical milestone I want to make use of is the Ripper murders, which take place in 1888, eight years later. That means that the six Mrs. Hawking stories that are currently written and/or planned must happen over the span of that period. Because I'd like none of them to have that long a gap in between, they may have to have as much as a year and a half span in between.

That's not the end of the world. Downton Abbey, for example, has fairly long spans between EPISODES, let alone between seasons, and they make it work. But that's still a pretty long time to suggest that no significant events or changes in status and relationships happen. I'll have to be careful how I manage it, because it has some definite consequences on the story.

One of those consequences is the development of the relationship between Mary and Arthur. I want them to have a romance, but because of the demands of that timeline, it must develop very slowly. That's unusual for this storytelling form, and particularly strange for the Victorian setting-- I don't think two lower-class people tend to have such a long courtship.

But I just need to make that work for me. I need to have reasons why it works that way, that are interesting, believable, and make sense for the characters. I actually like the idea that they get to know each other very slowly, and it takes time for a relationship to blossom. If I do that well, it could be really emotionally compelling.

Day #6 - “Lead, and I’ll Follow”
for "Mrs. Hawking part 6"
by Phoebe Roberts

MARY STONE, up-and-coming lady’s society avenger
ARTHUR SWANN, a captain of the London police

London, England, 1888

(ARTHUR and MARY are on a stakeout. They have been there a long time.)

MARY: Thank you again for sticking this out with me. I know it’s taking ages.

ARTHUR: Glad to do it. It isn’t often that we can spend a leisurely evening.

(They laugh. MARY goes back on watch.)

ARTHUR: So this is it for you, isn’t it?

MARY: How do you mean?

ARTHUR: This work with Mrs. Hawking. Solving crimes and righting wrongs and all. This is what you’re meant for.

MARY: I rather think it is. She means for me to take over for her someday.

ARTHUR: Mary, that’s grand.

MARY: It is! I can’t tell you how glad I am that she believes in me.

ARTHUR: Of course she does.

MARY: You know she’s not easy to please. But I have worked very hard. Why do you ask?

ARTHUR: I suppose I knew already. That’s why I never made an ass of myself presuming anything different. But I wanted to be sure. In case, well, in case there was something else you were hoping for.

MARY: But why?

ARTHUR: Because I want you to ask you marry me.

(MARY turns to stare at him.)

ARTHUR: Been thinking it for ages, though I haven’t made mention of it. You’ll have to forgive me that. I sometimes feel a cad for having gone so long without making any promises. Didn’t want you to think I’m not serious. But… I wasn’t sure how to bring it ‘round. You and me, Mary, we’ve had such fun. Dashing about after ruffians, picking mysteries apart. I couldn’t bear to change things and wreck everything we’ve got. And the fact is, yours isn’t a life that speaks to being somebody’s missus at home. I know how important your work is. To you, to all the people you do it for. Damned if I’m going to be the one to take you away from it. But… it’s your life, blast it, and you ought to get a say in how it runs.

(ARTHUR takes off his cap and holds it in both hands.)

ARTHUR: I love you, Mary. As truly as any man ever loved a woman. And if there’s room in your life for me to be your husband, there’s noplace I’d rather be. Whatever it takes, I’m for you, love. Lead, and I’ll follow.

(Pause. ARTHUR grows suddenly self-conscious.)

ARTHUR: Hang it all. This wasn’t how I wanted it to go. I was going to have a ring, and… and get down on one knee, and all that rot.

(Awkwardly, as an afterthought, ARTHUR kneels. MARY laughs. She takes his hands and pull him back up.)

MARY: Oh, stand up, you silly sod! First of all, why would you think I’d bother over a ring? Whatever would I do with it, pop it in my pocket when I have to take a swing at a ruffian?

ARTHUR: Suppose it might get a bit dinged up when you struck him one.

MARY: And second of all… you can’t know what that means to me. You and I, we’ve made a team, haven’t we? So much has happened to me in the last few years, and ever since I met you, you’ve been there to help me through it. Even before you knew, no matter what strangeness or madness or danger we’ve put you through, you’ve been everything I needed. What better could I ask for in a husband? You’re right about my work, of course. As you said, I’m meant for this, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I don’t know how being a wife would fit into all that. But now… I can’t imagine my life without you in it either.

ARTHUR: I won’t put you in a place where you must choose, Mary. No matter what, I’m not about to go anywhere. We can continue on as we are, for as long as you’ll have it.

MARY: I love you, Arthur. And there’s no one I’d rather have at my side. But this… I don’t know what to do with it.

ARTHUR: Nor I. I only had to tell you. Or else I might burst.

MARY: I’m glad you did. May I have some time?

ARTHUR: Like I said. Lead, and I’ll follow.

Posts from This Journal by “ripper” Tag


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2015 05:01 pm (UTC)
Just an observation: eight years is a rather long time for a steady romance to bloom, as you say, but it's a *fine* amount of time for one that has some detours along the way. "The course of true love" and all that.

You might want to consider them having a disagreement sometime around Play #4 -- it would be quite in character for them to come to loggerheads over some matter of principle, and need some time to process that disagreement emotionally...
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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April 2017

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