THE MILLION POUND BANK NOTE
Act I, Scene 3
NARRATOR: It is the summer of 1903. Two old and wealthy brothers,Roderick
and Oliver, have made a bet. Oliver believes that with a million
pound bank note a man could survive a month in London. His
brother Roderick doubts it. At this moment, they see a penniless
young man wandering on the pavement outside their house. It is
Henry Adams, an American businessman, who is lost in London
and does not know what he should do.
RODERICK: Young man, would you step inside a moment, please?
HENRY: Who? Me, sir?
RODERICK: Yes, you.
OLIVER: Through the front door on your left.
HENRY: (A servant opens a door) Thanks.
SERVANT: Good morning, sir. Would you please come in? Permit me to lead the way, sir.
OLIVER: (Henry enters) Thank you, James. That will be all.
RODERICK: How do you do, Mr ... er ...?
HENRY:Adams. Henry Adams.
OLIVER: Come and sit down, Mr Adams.
RODERICK:You're an American?
HENRY: That's right, from San Francisco.
RODERICK:How well do you know London?
HENRY: Not at all, it's my first trip here.
RODERICK:I wonder, Mr Adams, if you'd mind us asking a few questions.
HENRY: Not at all. Go right ahead.
RODERICK:May we ask what you're doing in this country and what your plans are?
HENRY: Well, I can't say that I have any plans. I'm hoping to find work.As a matter of fact, I landed in Britain by accident.
OLIVER: How is that possible?
HENRY: Well, you see, back home I had my own boat. About amonth ago, I was sailing out of the bay ... (his eyes stare at what is left of the brother's dinner on table)
OLIVER: Well, go on.
HENRY: Oh, yes. Well, towards nightfall I found myself carried out to sea
by a strong wind. It was all my fault. I didn't know whether I could
survive until morning. The next morning I'd just about given
myself up for lost when I was spotted by a ship.
OLIVER: And it was the ship that brought you to England.
HENRY: Yes. The fact is that I earned my passage by working as an
unpaid hand, which accounts for my appearance. I went to the
American embassy to seek help, but ... (The brothers smile at each other.)
RODERICK: Well, you mustn't worry about that. It's an advantage.
HENRY:I'm afraid I don't quite follow you, sir.
RODERICK: Tell us, Mr Adams, what sort of work did you do in America?
HENRY:I worked for a mining company. Could you offer me some kind of work here?
RODERICK: Patience, Mr Adams. If you don't mind, may I ask you how much money you have?
HENRY:Well, to be honest, I have none.
OLIVER: (happily) What luck! Brother, what luck! (claps his hands together)
HENRY: Well, it may seem lucky to you but not to me! On the contrary, in fact. If this is your idea of some kind of joke, I don't think it's very funny. (Henry stands up to leave) Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll be on my way.
RODERICK:Please don't go, Mr Adams~ You mustn't think we don't care about you. Oliver, give him the letter.
OLIVER: Yes, the letter. (gets it from a desk and gives it to Henry like a gift) The letter.
HENRY: (taking it carefully) For me?
RODERICK:For you. (Henry starts to open it) Oh, no, you mustn't open it.Not yet. You can't open it until two o'clock.
HENRY:Oh, this is silly.
RODERICK: Not silly. There's money in it. (calls to the servant) James?
HENRY: Oh, no. I don't want your charity. I just want an honest job.
RODERICK: We know you're hard-working. That's why we've given you the letter. James, show Mr Adams out.
OLIVER: Good luck, Mr Adams.
HENRY:Well, why don't you explain what this is all about?
RODERICK: You'll soon know. (looks at the clock) In exactly an hour and a half.
SERVANT:This way, sir.
RODERICK: Mr Adams, not until 2 o'clock. Promise?
HENRY: Promise. Goodbye.