Lily of the Valley

Scene 1—Red Rock Valley

An open, rolling plain, under a high, wide pale blue sky, cloudless, just fading to pink on the western horizon. In the east, the undulations of the plains rise to steep and craggy mountains, a hazy blue. The overall impression is of the scale of the landscape—the plains, the sky. Big, beautiful but bleak, empty landscape. The Red Rock River is a little river winding its way down from the distant mountains and across the plains. In the middle of the plains, is the village of Blessed Rest. It's a sprawling village—the wooden houses are set far apart on the plains. Some have a vegetable plot or a few chickens scratching around outside, most simply stand in the middle of the plains. One larger, low building has a sign reading simply "warehouse". On the river bank is a tall, crooked inn, with a bar sign reading Last Chance Saloon. Up a dirt track leading out onto the plains is the log cabin of Dunroamin.

Lily Monroe in front of Dunroamin, feeding the chickens. She's about twenty years old, bare-foot like all the people of Red Rock Valley, for few of them can afford shoes, wearing a sleeveless blue dress with a long hooped skirt.

Jim Harris approaches, a simple honest local farm boy. He's barefoot, wearing loose canvas trousers and a denim shirt.

Lily: (Resignedly) Evening, Mr Harris.

Harris: (Brightly) Evening, Miss Monroe.

Lily: Do come in…

Harris: Thank you.

Scene 2—Dunroamin

A small, sparsely-furnished but clean room. A deal table, bare wooden floor, a rag rug before the iron stove, a flint-lock rifle above the door. A big old kettle hangs over the stove. On the little shelf next to it are a couple of big earthenware jars, a knife block and a few books.

Lily: Sit down.

Harris: Thank you. (He sits down)

Lily: (Sitting down) How can I be of assistance?

Harris: (Solemnly) Madam, I've come to ask for the honour of your hand in marriage.

Lily: (Who's feared as much) Ah.

Harris: Miss Monroe-

Lily: (Flatly) No

Harris: (Blinking) What?

Lily: No. Now, is there anything else I can help you with?

Harris: I beg your pardon if I've been forward, Miss.

Lily: I simply don't understand why you'd ever ask. I haven't given you the slightest encouragement, we've never courted, we're not even friends… All the men do it.

Harris: It's because you're single, Miss Monroe.

Lily: I know that, but are they so desperate…?

Harris: Well, you're a good worker, you're known for being steady and reliable. You don't have a good deal of land or stock, but when a chap's got a nice patch of land of his own, he just wants a nice steady lass with a hand for the cows-

Lily: I see, it's unpaid hired help they want.

Harris: No, no, it isn't! They just want a quiet, reliable girl who's not going to lose her head over another fellow or when the cows come down with colic.

Lily: A farm-wife.

Harris: (Upset) Miss, there's nothing wrong with being a farm-wife, it's an honourable profession.

Lily: (Losing her patience, and speaking as she might to an irritating child) Oh, do go away.

Harris: (Cheerfully) Yes, Miss Monroe, have a good evening.

(He stands up, bows, and leaves, walking out onto the plains. Lily sits for little, irritated, then gets up and strides out of the house towards the river.)

Scene 3—Last Chance Saloon

Lily Monroe is walking across the plains to Last Chance Saloon, slowly, lost in her own thoughts. She enters the saloon. It's low-ceilinged and dim, with guttering candles on the wall. A huge, old-fashioned gramophone sits on the bar, playing "Holding Out for a Hero". Around the walls, lone drifters sit at tables, swigging whiskey, playing patience or just staring into space. There are other young women, but Lily looks a little out of place in her long blue cotton dress, most of them are wearing short, tight dresses, made out of cheap, flimsy material, and the heavy make-up of small-town good-time-girls wanting to appear more sophisticated than they really are. A few people, raging drunk, are dancing in the middle of the floor. The posters on the wall were colourful once, but are worn, tatty and out-of-date. It is not a respectable bar, and no-one looks very local. Lily strides over to the bar.

Lily: Whiskey, please. (Pushes coins across the bar.)

(Bar-man hands her a whiskey in silence, and she downs it.)

Lily: Another (Pushes more coins across, downs a second whiskey) Another (more coins, a third whiskey)

(Lily begins to dance, carelessly, lost in her own thoughts, head thrown back.)

Scene 4—Later

(Lily's hair is sicking in sweaty strands to her face, she's breathless and panting.)

Barman: Are you sure you'll be all right walking, Miss?

Lily: (Impatiently, slightly slurred) It's a clear night.

Barman: It's miles across the plains.

Lily: I like walking.

(Cut to Lily striding across the plains in the dark. Exotic stars and planets hang low in the night sky. There's a double-star system, there's a pink planet which travels so fast that it moves visible from one side of the sky to the other, there's a meteor shower, there are strange, multi-coloured nebulae.

Cut to Lily lying on a camp bed in the dark in her log cabin, eyes open, staring at the dark. "Holding Out for a Hero" fades as she finally closes her eyes and falls asleep.)

Scene 5—Morning

The early-morning light falls through the narrow, thick-glassed window by the bed. Lily is woken by a noise in the kitchen. She sits up and blinks. The room is small but tidy. On the window-ledge is a swashbuckling romantic novel and a little framed photograph of a young man and a heavily pregnant young woman. The noise comes again. Lily gets out of bed, and pads into the other room, barefoot in her night-gown, with tousled hair.

Edward Thurgood is standing in the kitchen as if it were his own home. He is a big, strong middle-aged man, toughened by the outdoor life, with a thick beard and a sharp, keen eye. He moves with easy grace, his trousers are of better cut and material than most locals' trousers, and he wears a good-quality open-necked shirt—the clothes a prosperous rural farmer wears to pay formal calls in.

He is accompanied by his nephew, Johnathan, who's in his early twenties and has just as sharp eyes as Thurgood, and a dangerous air, despite his harmless-looking farm-boy's-best shirt and trousers.

Thurgood and Johnathan are both wearing Stetsons, which they remove as Lily comes into the room.

Behind them are two bare-headed farm hands in loose canvas trousers and old, faded but clean best shirts.

Lily: (shocked, but attempting to sound dignified) Mr Thurgood! What do you mean by paying calls at such an unearthly—or indeed unAlphaCenturine—hour?

Thurgood: How do you do, Miss Monroe?

Lily: (drawing herself up) I wish you good day, but I object to your entering my house unannounced.

Thurgood: (calmly) Very well, if this is an inconvenient hour-

Lily: It certainly is!

Thurgood: I will be direct.

Lily: (quietly) Mr Thurgood, I suggest you do not re-open this conversation.

Thurgood: Miss Monroe, I'm a patient man. But I expect people to deal reasonably with me, and to listen to sense.

Lily: You are not being reasonable or talking sense.

Thurgood: Miss Monroe, I am the mayor of Blessed Rest. My farm is prosperous. My nephew is a strong young man and a good worker. You have a great deal to gain by acceptance.

Lily: I won't! I won't marry your nephew!

Thurgood: You would never have to fear going hungry in the winter, when your cows are thin and starving, never fear losing them to the ursosaurs, never fear banditti knocking at the door. It must be a hard life for you, in this lonely spot. A perilous life.

Lily: Are you threatening me?

Thurgood: (quietly, looking her dead in the eye) I'm suggesting that you listen to reason.

Lily: (Staring back at him) You've heard my answer.

Thurgood: I await further answers at the end of the week.

Lily: (coldly) Get out of my house!

Thurgood: Even in your house, I am mayor of this town. Good day, Miss Monroe.

(He turns to leave, then turns back.)

Thurgood: And Miss Monroe, I don't think you should go to the Last Chance Saloon any more. The people there aren't welcome in our community. It isn't the place where a good girl ought to be seen.

(Lily doesn't answer, but glares proudly until all the men have left, then, when alone, sinks down fainting on the table.)

Scene 6—The End of the Week

(Caption: End of that week

Dusk gathering. The sky is streaked with soft velvet purple. The birds are calling high in the sky over the plain. Lily is sitting on the table nursing a glass of whiskey. She looks out at the fading light, knocks back the whiskey and goes out to where Humphrey the old grey donkey is standing in the little meadow below the house. Here, there's a little spring which rises from the rocks in the direction of the mountains, and disappears in among the rocks in the direction of Red Rock Valley.)

Lily: Humphrey! Humphrey!

(Humphrey ambles up to her. He is short and squat and when Lily perches side-saddle on him (bareback and without reins) she's barely higher than she is walking.)

Scene 7—Out on the Plains

(Lily is perched on Humphrey, who is plodding along, silhouetted against the sun-set.)

Lily: Stop!

(Humphrey eases himself to a halt and snorts. Lily pats him and stares out at the plain, frowning.)
Lily: (to herself) But they were here…

(Cut to Lily and Humphrey traversing different parts of the plains as it gets darker and darker and Lily gets nearer to tears. Humphrey sighs and dawdles, Lily smacks him on the rump to keep him moving.

Eventually they stop on a little rise and Lily stares into the dark, blinking back the tears.)

Lily: But an ursosaur couldn't have got all of them…

(A distant, hungry howl in the night. Lily looks nervous. Humphrey fidgets.)

Lily: Come on boy, let's go home…

Scene 8—Morning

(Bright fresh morning air. Lily releases the chickens from the little wooden hutch nailed up on the back wall of the house. She looks tired, with shadows under her eyes. The chickens run down the ladder and all over the plains, pecking and scratching.)
Lily: At least I've still got you…

(She scatters grain to the chickens, then collects eggs from the hut and puts them in her basket.)

Scene 9—Warehouse

(A big room with wooden walls and a wooden counter at one end. Mrs Carter, a woman in her late twenties, sits on a high wooden stool behind the counter, wearing a good-quality blouse and skirt. The room is full of sacks and barrels, with tools, dried meat and salt fish hanging from the roof. Lily enters with her basket of eggs over her arm.)

Lily: Good morning, Mrs Carter.

(Mrs Carter doesn't look round. Lily approaches the counter with her eggs.)

Lily: (louder) Good morning! How are you?

(Mrs Carter glances at her.)

Lily: (Realising that something is wrong) Are you all right? I've brought my eggs to sell.

Mrs Carter: (Firmly, but glancing around nervously) Not buying.

Lily: What? But you always buy my eggs.

Mrs Carter: (Without looking at her) I think you should go now.

Lily: (Stunned) What-? (Realises with slow horror) Thurgood put you up to this, didn't he?

(Mrs Carter doesn't look at her)

Lily: (Louder, angrily) Didn't he?

Mrs Carter: (Not looking at her, muttering) You're not part of this community.

Lily: What have I done? What have I done wrong?

(Mrs Carter ignores her)

Lily: Why do you do as he says? (Despairingly) Is everyone here afraid of him?

(Mrs Carter doesn't answer. Lily turns and runs, blinking back tears)

Scene 10—Dunroamin, two weeks later

(Caption: Two weeks later

Lily is outside, feeding the chickens. She looks tired and drawn, her dress is crumpled. Thurgood, Johnathon and another two farm hands approach riding fine horses. They all dismount and politely remove their hats.)

Lily: What do you want?

Thurgood: I merely came to see how you fare. It can't be easy for you, losing your herd like that.

Lily: (Defensively) I'm coping

Thurgood: Are you hungry?

Lily: No

Thurgood: My herd is doing very well this year. My nephew takes good care of them. He is an expert cow herd. But it is not the life for everyone. Perhaps you should choose a less precarious profession.

Lily: (Quietly and viciously) I will never marry your nephew. You can starve me and fling my corpse to the carrion birds. You'll never take me alive.

Thurgood: Miss Monroe, you are foolish.

Lily: Mr Thurgood, you are a bastard.

(Thurgood bows coldly, remounts and gestures for Johnathan to do the same. They all ride away.)

Scene 11—Next Morning

(Caption: Next morning

Bright morning air. Sun still low. Lily is communing with Humphrey, scratching his face while he loafs and sighs and twitches his ears.)

Lily: You're getting fat from no work. At least one of us is. But we have work this morning. (Humphrey gives her a sour look) Oh yes, we do, my boy. We are going to buy hay.

(Lily hops up onto Humphrey, who deflates slightly with the hardship of the world, exhales and shambles off.)

Scene 12—Dunroamin

(They return, with no hay. Humphrey looks glummer than ever.)

Lily: It's not my fault, boy, they won't sell anything to us. He's got the whole town in his grip. (She scratches him behind the ears.)

(They approach the house. There are no chickens scratching around outside. Lily is silently horrified. She slides down from Humphrey and walks past the house into a daze to stare out across the plains. No chickens.)

Lily: (Quietly, thinking aloud) He knows when I go to buy hay. He must be watching the house. (Shudders)

(Humphrey snorts and head-butts her.)

Lily: Yes, I know you're hungry.

(Shaken, but dry-eyed, she goes back to Humphrey and silently puts some oats in the trough behind the house.)

Scene 13—Three Days Later

(Caption: Three days later

Lily is sitting at the table in Dunroamin, counting a meagre amount of money, increasingly distressed. In front of her is a stock-breeding list, with cattle neatly labelled and priced. The door is open, the soft evening breeze blows in. Thurgood, Johnathan and escort ride up on their fine horses. Lily gets up and rushes to shut the door. She pulls the bar across and collapses against it.)

Thurgood: (From the other side of the door) Come, Miss Monroe, don't be foolish.

Lily: (With as much dignity as she can muster) Mr Thurgood, leave now. You are not welcome here.

Thurgood: I've come to repeat my proposal.

Lily: (Firm) I've given you my answer!

Thurgood: Come now, open the door. Stop being melodramatic.

Lily: (Determined) No. You will not enter my house.

Thurgood: I'll teach you better manners when you're my niece!

Lily: (Firmly) Never!

Thurgood: You are a fool.

(Lily says nothing. Eventually the men remount and ride away. Lily sinks down onto the floor and begins to cry quietly.)

Scene 14—The Jefferson Ranch

(The Jefferson ranch is bigger than Dunroamin. A long, low wooden house and a separate barn, where Mr Jefferson is tending a lame cow. Lily is standing at the kitchen door, talking to Mrs Jefferson, a middle-aged woman in a sensible cotton dress and an apron, with two toddlers peering round her. A group of older children is playing in the yard.)

Lily: Mrs Jefferson, I understand that you've been looking for hired help-

Mrs Jefferson: (Firmly, interrupting) No. Leave now.

(She tries to shut the door, but Lily stops her.)

Lily: I'm a good, reliable worker-

Mrs Jefferson: (Smacks her hand away from the door, fiercely) No! (Glances around nervously) Go away!

Lily: Please just listen…

Mrs Jefferson: George!

(Mr Jefferson approaches from the barn)

Mrs Jefferson: (Beginning to panic, now) Make her go away. We don't want no trouble! We don't want no trouble!

Lily: (Scared) I'm going! (Runs away)

Scene 15—Early Next Morning

Grey pre-dawn falls through the bed-room window. Lily, bare-foot in her night-dress, slips her rough leather shoulder-bag over her shoulder and creeps out of the house, tense and trembling with fear.

She goes out to the spring, where Humphrey is waiting. But Humphrey has pitched face-forward into the stream, dead.

Lily runs to him, horrified. He's been dead a few hours at least. There's something in the spring, where it comes out from the rocks. Lily peers closer, then recoils. It's the festering corpse of a calf, with bulging eyes.

Lily turns and runs back to the house, tears in her eyes. Then she stops. There's a fire in the distance. She peers, shading her eyes.

Lily: (To herself) Is that a bush fire? Is that… the Jeffersons'…?

(She begins to run towards the fire.)

Scene 16—The Plains near the Jeffersons'

(The house in on fire. Lily approaches, but stops when she sees Mr Jefferson on the plains, brandishing a shot-gun. His face is soot-stained and he's shocked by the destruction of his home.)
Jefferson: Go! You've caused enough trouble.

Lily: I can help!

Jefferson: You've cause nothing but trouble! (Raises the shot-gun and sprays the ground in front of her with glowing orange energy pellets.)

(Lily turns and flees. Jefferson is still shooting over her head.)

Scene 17—Dunroamin, Evening

(Lily is drinking whiskey in her kitchen. She has been for a while. She has been crying, but isn't any more. She gets up and walks to knife block, in a daze. She reaches out and takes a big sharp knife, fumbling because she's drunk. She holds it against her throat, then stops and frowns at the book shelf. She takes a melodrama with a cover involving roses and swords and maybe a castle or something. She blinks at it drunkenly for a while then puts down the knife and runs out into the night.)

Scene 18—Last Chance Saloon

(Lily is still drunk, and breathless and exhausted from running. She's almost hyperventilating, she's scared, she's too breathless to cry or she'd be in tears. The usual crowd of tough-looking drifters, lost-looking runaways and drunks from far and wide who look as if they don't really know how they got there. Petula Clark's "Downtown" is playing on the juke box in the background.

Lily approaches Man 1, who's sitting at a table alone drinking whiskey, a tough man, armed with a flintlock pistol and a sword.)

Lily: Sir, the mayor of this town is pressing his suit, may I beg of you to protect me?

Man 1: Piss off.

(Lily is shocked. She looks around for other likely candidates, and finds Man 2, also tough-looking and heavily armed.)

Lily: Sir, I'm in mortal peril. May I beg of you to protect me?

Man 2: Oh, go away, I don't buy from street vendors and I'm not interested in performance poetry.

Lily: No, listen, this is real!

Man 2: Piss off!

(Lily, the tears starting now, looks around again and approaches Robbie Dulak. He's sitting by himself in the corner, nursing a glass of whiskey. He's about twenty-five, bare feet, canvas trousers, crumpled cotton T-shirt. Scars on his face and arms. Sword, flint-lock.

Three watches on his right wrist. Each is an elaborate, old-fashioned contraption with a lot of hands and faces and more faces which slide out or flip open.)

Lily: Sir, you're all that stands between me and death—or worse. May I beg of you to protect me?

Robbie: (Calmly) Of course. (He stands up and pulls back his chair. "Downtown" fades)

Lily: (Bursts into tears) Thank you! Oh, thank you!

Robbie: Here, sit down, miss. (He helps her into his chair.) Drink this whiskey…

(Lily knocks back the whiskey and it calms her slightly)

Robbie: I'll get you another drink.

(Lily nods wordlessly, mopping away tears. Robbie leaves, and she takes the opportunity for a few steadying breaths and to control her trembling hands. He returns with two more whiskies. Lily snatches it of him and knocks it back. Robbie pulls up another stool and sits down.)

Robbie: Feeling better, miss?

Lily: (Calmer) Much.

Robbie: (Sipping his whiskey) Tell me how I can help, miss. Take your time.

Lily: The mayor wants to marry me to his nephew. (Reflexively shudders) But I'd rather die. I almost did. I wanted to knife myself…

Robbie: But you didn't. You got help instead. You did the right thing.

Lily: He's bullying me. My cattle have vanished. I should explain, I inherited the house from my father. I don't have much, but I always got by, making a living from the cattle. But they vanished. Even the chickens have vanished. He poisoned my spring, I can't even get water. He killed Humphrey-

Robbie: Your brother?

Lily: My donkey. I can't even escape on him.

Robbie: I've got a whale.

Lily: Well, for Heaven's sake keep an eye on him-

Robbie: Her

Lily: On her, because I don't know who's watching us. He's got the whole town in his pocket and spies everywhere. I shouldn't be here, he expressly warned me not to come here.

Robbie: I don't think there are any locals here.

Lily: (Glancing around) He's turned everyone against me. Even if I had money, I couldn't buy anything. Even if I had chickens, I couldn't sell the eggs. I have no food, I have no water.

Robbie: (Viciously) The bastard

Lily: I don't know what he's going to do next. He's burned my neighbours' farm because I spoke to them. I'm scared. Dead scared. I have been for days.

Robbie: Is it just you at home?

Lily: Yes. Will you come back with me?

Robbie: Of course.

Lily: Thank you so much, Mr-

Robbie: Dulak. Robbie Dulak, at your service. And you're very welcome, Miss-

Lily: Monroe. Lily Monroe

(She offers her hand to kiss and he kisses it.)

Scene 19—The Barn

(A wooden barn, long and low, rustling with hay. The stalls contain guests' horses, space buggies, and Bella the space whale. She floats about two feet off the ground, her tale waving up and down, contemplating a trough of oats.)

Robbie: Sorry, darling, gonna have to interrupt. We need to get this young lady home. Miss Monroe, meet Bella.

Lily: (Patting her head) Hello, Bella. (Bella nuzzles up to her.)

(Robbie opens the barn door and helps Lily up side-saddle (although he doesn't actually have a saddle) and climbs up himself. Bella rises up into the sky above the plains.)

Robbie: Where to, Miss Monroe?

Lily: (Pointing) That way

(They set off, Bella cruising quickly but with a very relaxed air above the plains. The stars above them are bright and colourful. Lily is laughing with delight. A meteor shower passes over-head.)

Scene 20—Dunroamin

(Bella has been fitted with difficulty into the kitchen, and is now eating oats from a bowel. Lily slumps at the table with a couple of bread buns.)

Lily: Sit down

(Robbie sits down and she gives him a bread bun)

Robbie: Thank you

Lily: I'm sorry I don't have anything more to give you. Money's been tight recently.

Robbie: How long do you think you can survive here?

Lily: Realistically? A couple of days. But I won't marry Johnathan Thurgood! I'll kill myself first.

Robbie: Don't despair. I know Thurgood's a powerful man, but no one's invincible.

(Lily smiles bravely and chews her bread bun)

Lily: So, what brings you to Red Rock Valley?

Robbie: (Shrugs) I'm… travelling.

Lily: Where to?

Robbie: Just travelling

Lily: You don't have a home?

Robbie: Wherever I park up Bella for the night

Lily: How do you live?

Robbie: This and that. Bit of hunting, trapping, ranching, logging. I came to Red Rock Valley, to… what's the town called? Blessed Rest?—thinking I might work on a ranch.

Lily: And then leave?

Robbie: And then leave. Did you say you'd inherited this house from your father?

Lily: Yes. I've always lived here. Used to be very happy…

Robbie: It's a lovely house.

Lily: Thank you.

(They've finished the bread rolls, now)

Lily: What are you going to do?

Robbie: I've been thinking about that. This mayor- what did you say his name was? Thurgood?

Lily: Edward Thurgood. The nephew's Johnathan Thurgood.

Robbie: This Thurgood. Where does he live?

Lily: He has a big house on the other side of Red Rock River.

Robbie: Do you know if he's usually there at night?

Lily: Yes, usually. His nephew lives with him. And a bunch of farm hands.

Robbie: Well, I reckon I could just go over there and blast him to Hell.

Lily: But there are always people there!

Robbie: It's a bang-hello job. And I never miss.

Lily: But you'll be killed!

Robbie: Nobody's immortal.

Lily: Doesn't it bother you? Even a bit?

Robbie: No.

Lily: No, listen. (Grabs his arm) You can't just go swanning in there.

Robbie: You got a better idea?

Lily: Well, not right now, no, but I'm sure we could think of one.

Robbie: Well, what about when he goes out? Alone?

Lily: (Biting her lip) He never goes out alone.

Robbie: (Thinking) The nephew?

Lily: The nephew and a cohort of devoted underlings.

Robbie: I don't suppose there's any chance he'll accept a challenge to an honourable duel?

Lily: No. He doesn't care about honour.

Robbie: I can shoot the bastard on his own door step or I can get sneaky.

Lily: Get sneaky? Are you sure that's… right?

Robbie: You were the one so determined for me not to be killed.

Lily: It just doesn't sound decent…

Robbie: You know what's not decent? Bullying, threatening, pressing suit on a lady who's rejected you. That man's scum. And I'm going to kill him, fair means or foul. (Relaxing slightly) I prefer fair means. But if I challenge him to a duel and he rejects me, I've blown my hand— he knows I'm working for you. If I get him on his own by fraud, then even if he kills me, he'll have no idea.

Lily: If you challenge him to a duel, could you win?

Robbie: Probably.

Lily: (Considering) But if you lie to him, then even if you… you…

Robbie: Die?

Lily: Yes. Then he wouldn't know… wouldn't…

Robbie: Connect me with you.

Lily: (Doubtfully) But he watches everything, he watches the house… He owns Red Rock Valley. Everyone reports to him. He probably already knows…

Robbie: I don't think the people who lick Edward Thurgood's feet are the sort of people who frequent the Last Chance Saloon.

Lily: True.

Robbie: Well, those are my thoughts on the matter. It's either bang-hello-

Lily: No.

Robbie: The letter with the glove— mentioning you by name as a challenge should— or I pay a visit to Mr Thurgood tomorrow with a business proposition.

Lily: That one.

Robbie: (Looking around) You have a rifle

Lily: Yes. It belonged to my father. He was very keen on shooting. Especially for freedom and so forth. Me, I never really… got into it. Maybe I should have done.

Robbie: Something to learn

Lily: Yes. When I'm out of all this, I'll… I'll have to learn a lot.

Robbie: Is there anything I can do for you before I turn in, Miss Monroe?

Lily: No, thank you.

Robbie: A hot drink? A whiskey?

Lily: No, thank you. You turn in. You don't want to be tired tomorrow.

Robbie: In that case, thank you for your food and your hospitality.

Lily: Not at all. I'll show to the bed.

(She leads him to the bedroom. It's less tidy now, there are clothes on the floor)

Lily: I'm sorry I've left clothes on the floor.

Robbie: Oh, no, if this is your room I'll sleep on the rug.

Lily: No, you're the guest

Robbie: I insist.

Lily: I can't let the guest sleep on the floor

Robbie: I can't turn my hostess out of bed

Lily: Are you sure?

Robbie: Perfectly. You have a lovely rug.

Lily: Good night

Robbie: Good night

(He turns away and Lily smiles after him for a moment before shutting the door, but he's oblivious.)

Scene 21—Thurgood's Ranch

(Early next morning. Sun just peeking above the horizon. Clear grey morning light. Bella cruises through the air over the plains quickly but gracefully, like a whale through water, Robbie on her back. They are the only moving things visible in the vast land-scape. Bella stops outside the ranch. It's a wealthy man's ranch—a long, low, large ranch-house, a separate barn, a separate stable. There are quiet early-morning agricultural noises coming from behind the house, for days on the farm start early.

Robbie dismounts. He pulls the big old-fashioned bell-pull. Foot-steps, then the door is opened by a young woman, younger than Lily even, a maid, wearing a rough but clean cotton dress. She keeps the door on a chain and peers round nervously.)

Robbie: Good morning

Maid: (Nervously) Good morning

Robbie: I'd like to speak to Mr Thurgood, please. A business matter.

Maid: (Hesitates) Please wait

(She closes the door. Long delay. Thurgood opens the door.)

Thurgood: Good morning.

Robbie: Good morning. Mr Edward Thurgood?

Thurgood: (Not rudely, but with a hard look in his eye) I'm Edward Thurgood. Can I help you?

Robbie: Robbie Dulak, pleased to meet you.

Thurgood: How do you do, I'm sure. Now, Mr Dulak, can I help you?

Robbie: I have a business proposition

Thurgood: Is it about the new stud bull I want to buy?

Robbie: Yes.

Thurgood: Very well, come in

Robbie: I'd prefer to discuss this alone.

Thurgood: Very well. (Narrows his eyes) One moment. (Closes the door)

(Another long delay. Thurgood opens the door, now wearing his hat, sword and flintlock and carrying a riding crop )

Thurgood: Very well, Mr Dulak, we'll ride out onto the range together.

Scene 22— The Range

(Birds call over-head. A little bluff on the wide, rolling plain, with a big back-drop of the sky. The sun is a little higher, the light clear and bright. Thurgood is riding his fine horse, Robbie is riding Bella. He pulls up and Thurgood does the same.)

Robbie: (Coldly) Draw

(They draw their swords simultaneously. Thurgood has been expecting this. Robbie notices this and frowns, but doesn't hesitate. He launches himself straight from Bella's back at Thurgood. Thurgood crashes backwards onto the hard ground, with Robbie on top of him. Robbie's sword goes straight through him, his sword catches Robbie on the upper arm. The fight is short and brutal— Thurgood is doomed the minute Robbie's sword goes through him. He snarls and clouts Robbie on the side of his head. Robbie punches him in the throat and his head snaps back. Robbie sticks a gravity knife in his eye. Gun shots. The ground near Robbie is sprayed with energy pellets. The two men who accompanied Thurgood and his nephew gallop up on fast horses. Robbie draws his flintlock and fires, an energy pellet flicks off a rock. Bella bellows, swats her tail, knocks one of the men of his horse and sends him bouncing head over heels. Robbie shoots the other man and he slumps off the horse, which goes on galloping across the plain, his dead rider drooping off his back.

Robbie rises panting, reloads cleans his sword and his knife, sticks everything back in his belt and goes to Bella's head. He pats her.)

Robbie: (Breathless but satisfied) Good girl. Good girl

(Bella groans again)

Robbie: (Worried) What's wrong?

(He notices a ragged gun-shot wound in her side)

Robbie: (Quietly) Oh, God

(He turns to go)

Scene 23— Dunroamin

(Robbie leads a sorrowful Bella to the door. Lily has been watching for them and pulls the door open before he knock. She stares breathlessly, eagerly, to see how it went. She sees the expression on Robbie's face and bites her lip.)

Robbie: (Quiet satisfaction) He'd dead

Lily: (Flinging her arms round him) Thank you! Thank you!

Robbie: (Gently pushes her away, kindly) Don't mention it.

Lily: I'll never forget this!

Robbie: (Anxiously) Miss Monroe, she was hurt.

Lily: (Horrified) Bella? Come in, come in…

Robbie: Thank you

(Robbie and Bella come in)

Lily: I'll get some hot water (She begins heating the kettle over the stove)

(Bella sinks gently onto the fire-side rug, staring sorrowfully at Robbie)

Robbie: (Examining the wound) Where do you keep you bandages?

Lily: In my bedroom.

(Robbie opens the bedroom door, rummages around and comes back with the bandages)

Lily: Here's some hot water. I'll get the whiskey bottle. Disinfect it.

Robbie: (Unravelling the bandages) Thank you

Scene 24—Later

(Dark outside the windows. Bella has closed her eyes and is groaning softly. The wound has been bandaged up and Lily and Robbie are both nursing her devotedly, sponging her face.)

Robbie: You're a good girl, you're such a good girl. You saved my life. You know that? You saved my life.

Lily: Please hold on, you're doing so well.

(Bella's breaths get shallower and shallower. Robbie keeps smiling for her and stroking her face)

Robbie: (Bravely) Good girl. You're doing so well.

(Bella sighs)

Robbie: (Quietly) I'm so sorry. I love you, girl.

(Bella's breathing stops. Robbie sits on the rug, stunned.)

Lily: I'll get you a drink.

(She pours him a whiskey and he knocks it back and slowly begins to cry quietly, very quietly, without trying to wipe the tears away. Lily reaches out shyly and strokes his back. He cries for some time.

Banging on the door. Lily freezes. Robbie goes into action mode immediately, drawing his sword.)

Robbie: (Suddenly perfectly in control of himself, with the tears still on his cheeks) Who's there?

Mrs Carter: (Outside the door) It's me! I'm alone!

Robbie: (To Lily) Stay there! (To Mrs Carter) Coming! (To Lily) Don't you even have a chain on this door so one doesn't have to open it the whole way?

(Lily picks up a kitchen knife. Robbie opens the door a crack. Mrs Carter is indeed alone, half-crazed with fear, breathless, her hair disarranged.)

Robbie: Mrs Carter! What's wrong?

Lily: (Relieved) Come in!

(Mrs Carter stumbles through the door and collapses on the table)

Mrs Carter: Young Johnathan's coming with a gang. All his uncle's farm-hands, half the men in Blessed Rest, muskets and torches. He says he'll tear his uncle's murderers limb from limb and raze the farm to the ground. And he'll do it, too. You know what a cold Devil the old man could be, and the young one's a chip off the old block.

Lily: (Shocked) I don't doubt that he will!

Mrs Carter: And I came because… because… I wasn't very fair to you… before… and I don't want to be afraid anymore. I'm sorry.

Lily: Thank you for telling me now.

Mrs Carter: It's the least I could do. And my I say, Mr…

Lily: Dulak. Mrs Carter, may I present Mr Robbie Dulak, Mr Dulak, Mrs Adelaide Carter.

Mrs Carter: (Recovering her breath and composure somewhat) How do you do?

Robbie: How do you do? (He kisses her hand)

Mrs Carter: Well, as I was saying, if I may say, I think you've done the community a service, slaying that old tyrant.

Robbie: Not at all, madam, the pleasure was all mine.

Lily: (To Robbie) Where will we go?

Robbie: As far away from here as possible, as fast as possible. Miss Monroe, I'm sorry for bringing you into further inconvenience.

Lily: Don't be silly, you haven't done anything.

Robbie: Do you have any family elsewhere? Anyone who could take you in?

Lily: No, no one.

Robbie: Then we'll take you to Earth.

Lily: Earth?

Robbie: You can settle down quietly in respectable parts, find work in a shop or waitressing, Earth is the most quiet and law-abiding planet in the galaxy. He can't take his man-hunt there.

Lily: How will we get there?

Robbie: Now that Bella's… dead, we can't just fly. Where's the nearest port?

Lily: New Liverpool. Over the mountains. It's miles. No roads, no rail-way…

Robbie: Then we'll walk.

(Lily stares at him for a moment, eyes round with horror, then takes a deep breath and nods briskly.)

Lily: All right. We'll walk. (To Mrs Carter) You should go. You can't be of any help and you'll only get in trouble if you stay here.

Mrs Carter: Are you sure you'll be all right?

Lily: (Firmly) I'm not sure about anything. But you just go. If I get to Earth, I'll write to you some day.

Mrs Carter: All right. Good luck. (She leaves)

(Lily grabs her little leather shoulder-bag. She pulls a little box from under the bed and empties three small coins into the bag. She adds a clean handkerchief, a packet of about six small biscuits, a tube of lip-stick, a little hand mirror, hair pins and the framed photograph. Robbie simply fastens on his belt, from which hang his gun and his sword, and makes sure that his gun is loaded.)

Robbie: Do you have any more non-perishable food?

Lily: No. I don't have any other food. I've been on the edge of starvation for a week. Let's go. (Takes a last sad look around the room.)

Robbie: You're forgetting your gun.

Lily: What?

(Robbie lifts down the gun and examines her.)

Robbie: She needs a good clean. Got any oil?

Lily: (Stunned again) I don't know…

Robbie: Never mind. I've got some. We'll clean her when we get the chance. Now, she goes on your back like so… (He straps the rifle onto Lily's back and the ammo onto her belt) Where did you put that knife?

(Lily picks it up from the table.)

Robbie: Put it in your belt.

(She obeys him. Outside the window, orange lights are glowing in the distance— the torches of Johnathan's gang.)

Robbie: Now let's go.

(They slip outside. The night is almost pitch dark. They set off into the plains.)

Scene 25—The Plains

(Almost pitch dark. The sky is completely and impenetrably black. Robbie and Lily jog side-by-side. The torches are just little orange sparks in the distance. They come to a stream.)

Robbie: Don't slip. Hold my arm.

(Lily takes his arm and they splash across.)

Robbie: Now at least the dogs won't find us.

Lily: (Still holding Robbie's hand) But I doubt men are so easily thrown off. They're no fools and there's only one way we could have gone.

(The continue hand-in-hand. Robbie guides Lily over stones and tussocks. Her teeth chatter.)

Robbie: Are you cold? Take my shirt.

Lily: Then you'll be cold.

Robbie: No, it's all right, I never dress for the weather, otherwise I'd have to carry round a suit-case like some crazy-prepared person. (He pulls off his shirt and hands it to Lily)

Lily: Thanks

(She pulls it on and tries to put her hand back in Robbie's. He's surprised, but takes her hand and pulls her up a rocky scree.)

Robbie: (Sympathetically) Bit steep, isn't it?

Scene 26—Day-Break

It's just starting to get light. Pale, clear, blue early-morning light. Cold still— the dew clings to the grass and to Lily and Robbie's bare feet. The birds call high in the sky. The horizon is lightning, but the sun isn't up yet. The mountains are nearer now, towering in front of them, purple vegetation, black crags, streaks of snow clinging to the heights.

The sky is vast. The scenery is beautiful. Lily has let go of Robbie's hand, but is still wearing his shirt.

Lily: (Looking back over her shoulder) I hate how exposed we are.

Robbie: It'll be better when we get to the mountains. Then the terrain'll be to our advantage and their horses won't help them much.

Lily: Shouldn't we run?

Robbie: Not unless you have impressive stamina. We'll collapse and die.

Lily: (Looking back again) I hate this… I'm sorry, I'll stop complaining. Optimism! We're nearly at the mountains. (Takes two biscuits from her shoulder-bag) Want one?

Robbie: Thank you, yes.

(She passes one to him, and they walk on, munching)

Scene 27—Later, the Mountains

The sky is clear blue, the sun is high in the sky. The mountains now surround Lily and Robbie. They are climbing a narrow gorge. The gorge is between to steep, scree-y slopes. A couple of black pine trees cling to the heights above them, but mostly there is only sparse, tough grass. Lily takes Robbie's hand to cross the increasingly uneven ground. They slowly pick their way across the rocks. They show no signs of tiredness.

Then they stop. On a ridge in the distance is a group of riders, far away but clear against the sky.

Lily: (Doubtfully) Could just be herds-men.

Robbie: Where are the cattle?

Lily: Do you think they've seen us?

Robbie: No way of telling. Keep very low and don't move.

(Lily and Robbie crouch against the rocks. After a while, the riders ride on and disappear behind a mountain.)

Robbie: Come on.

(They go on.)

Scene 28—Later

(Robbie and Lily are traversing a narrow mountain pass. The only other creature in the land-scape is a bird of prey hovering high over-head. It screams. Lily pauses and leans against a boulder.)

Robbie: Tired?

Lily: Not as much as I thought I would be. Nothing gives you energy like running for your life. No, I'm dead hungry, though.

Robbie: How many biscuits do you have left?

Lily: Two each.

Robbie: Eat one more and we'll call it lunch.

Lily: All right.

(She takes the biscuits out of her bag and hands one to him. They walk on)

Scene 29—Later

(The sky has just started to go pink. Robbie and Lily walk down a glen, over the tussocks, munching on a biscuit each. A gentle wind stirs Lily's hair. Then comes the noise of dogs barking, far away, but carried on the wind. They look back.)

Robbie: Come on.

(They walk on, a little faster. They look around, but can't see anyone. They begin to climb the slope, scrambling over the rocks. Then they see a small group of three men, on horses, with dogs, behind them. The note of the dogs' call changes. Far away across the mountains, carried on the wind, other dogs answer.

Robbie and Lily begin to run, up the glen, stumbling on the scree.)

Robbie: Here!

Lily: What?

(While Lily watches attentively to learn from his shooting, Robbie crouches behind a boulder at the side of the ravine, draws his gun, aims quite calmly, and fires. The first horseman falls. He re-loads, fires again. The second falls. The dogs stop baying and mill confusedly around their fallen masters. Robbie smiles with quiet satisfaction and reloads. Over the mountains, missing their canine signal, the other hounds break off in confused barking.)

Lily: Nice shooting. (Looks at him admiringly)

Robbie: (Not noticing the look) Thank you. The terrain, as you can see, is to our advantage.

Lily: Indeed. (She looks around) And very lovely. In better circumstances, I could admire the views.

(They start walking again.)

Robbie: It's beautiful countryside. (Gestures at the pink sky, a deeper shade now) And we're getting a wonderful sun-set.

Scene 30—Night-Fall

(Very dark. Robbie and Lily are descending a steep and rocky slope into a high, narrow, mountain valley. Directly behind them, and on the other side of the little stream, are towering mountains. Robbie has a brace of long-tailed pink alien birds over his shoulder.)

Lily: Can we stop?

Robbie: Yes, we'll sleep for a bit. They'll be sleeping too, I expect.

Lily: (Approaching the stream) Water! (She runs down to the stream and gulps)

Robbie: (Following her) Don't gulp. Sip.

(They drink for a while, Lily trying to sip, and splash water over their dirty bare feet and their sweaty faces.)

Lily: How are you going to cook those?

Robbie: There are some bushes up the slope. I'll make up a fire.

(They scramble up to the bushes. They cling to the bare ground, with sharp, spiky branches and not much greenery.)

Robbie: Snap off the dry branches.

Lily: They're all dry, I don't think it rains much, here.

(She pulls at a clump of branches which won't break off.)

Robbie: Don't pull, snap. Use your knife. (He draws a Swiss army knife from his belt) Like this. (He sets the blade against the twig and snaps it between the blade and his finger.) Use that kitchen knife.

(Lily pulls the knife out of her belt and begins cutting twigs.)

Scene 31—A Little Later

(Lily and Robbie sit beside a pile of twigs on the open ground in the little valley, but not so near the stream as to be bitten by insects.)

Lily: Now we eat?

Robbie: (takes a flint and steal from his belt) We eat, I oil your rifle and we get some rest.

Lily: Is there anything you don't have in that belt?

Robbie: (Lighting the fire, grinning) A kitchen sink?

Lily: And you call other people crazy-prepared.

(The flame catches)

Robbie: (Plucking one of the birds) Warm yourself up, you look freezing.

(Lily stretches her hands over the fire and rubs them.)

Robbie: Better?

Lily: Much. I've got a blood-stream back.

(She begins to pluck the other bird. She keeps glancing admiringly at Robbie, but he's oblivious.)

Scene 32—Later

(The only light comes from the fire, the flames flicker over Lily's and Robbie's faces, an orange glow. The fire crackles gently. They are sucking the last scraps of meat off the birds. Lily puts the carcase down.)

Lily: That was delicious.

Robbie: Thanks. Everything tastes good out-doors. (Sucks the last scrap off the carcase and throws it away.)

Lily: Very true, I've noticed it on picnics. But that was the best meal I've had in weeks. I got sick of the taste of hard-biscuits. (Laughs)

Robbie: Pass me your rifle. I'll take a look at her.

(Lily unstraps the rifle from her back and gives it to him. He takes a cloth and a bottle of gun oil from his belt and begins to completely strip down the gun.)

Robbie: She's a beauty but she needs some TLC. You say your father had her?
Lily: Yes.

Robbie: He must have taken good care of her. She's lasted well. (Scrubs at the grime in the barrels.) Clean your gun every day. Oil her mechanism so she doesn't stick. Take care of her, and she'll take care of you.

Lily: (Quietly) I only wanted to be a farmer…

Robbie: (Quietly) I know.

Lily: I'm sorry. You must think me terribly gloomy company.

Robbie: Not at all, you've had a difficult few weeks.

Lily: (Shudders) Yes. I'd rather be here with you than back there.

Robbie: Always have a good look down the barrel, check you've got all the gunk.

Lily: (Peering) I can't see any.

Robbie: Clean all the dust off the mechanism… wipe the whole thing down with a clean cloth… soft…

(A bird calls in the distance. A twig falls into the fire and goes up in a little hiss of sparks.)

Robbie: There, you're looking better already, aren't you, girl? Once you get the grime off, you're ready for anything.

Lily: Thanks. (Begins reassembling the gun.)

Robbie: Gently does it.

(Lily leans against Robbie. He raises his eyebrows, surprised. Lily has nimble fingers and works quickly.)

Robbie: Load her. They say you shouldn't keep her loaded, but I don't want to ask an ursosaur to wait for me to fumble around. I don't think they're that sporting.

Lily: Ursosaurs. A charmingly soporific bed-time thought. (She opens the barrel and slides in a pellet)

Robbie: I don't think they normally attack humans.

Lily: Yes, a common reassurance, and quite effective until they do. (Settles down with her head in Robbie's lap.) Shall we put the fire out?

Robbie: No, we'll keep it burning. It'll deter… wild-life.

Lily: (Drowsily) Aren't you coming to bed?

Robbie: What bed?

Lily: (Eyes closed) Ground. Patch of soil. Whatever

Robbie: No, I'll keep watch. Do you want my shirt? (Unfastens it)

Lily: (Opening her eyes) Oh. Aren't you tired?

Robbie: Not very. (Wraps the shirt around her shoulders) Besides, I need to clean my pistol.

Lily: If you're sure you'll be all right. (Takes his hand)

Robbie: Sleep well.

Lily: Good-night. (Kisses him on the cheek)

Robbie: (Coldly) Please never do that again, Miss Monroe.

Lily: (Puzzled) What?

Robbie: Kiss me.

Lily: Didn't you like it?

Robbie: Not particularly.

Lily: (Hurt and bewildered) But you saved my life.

Robbie: What has that to do with anything?

Lily: Well, the hero always takes the girl to his castle, or a cave or some moon-lit forest glade, and… the narrative breaks off with ellipses and picks up the next morning.

Robbie: (With a hard edge to his voice which he's never used before) Currently we lack a hero, a castle, a cave and a forest. We are in a desolate mountain wilderness and whatever your idea of al fresco nocturnal recreational activities includes, mine draws the line at sleeping.

Lily: Oh, don't be mean. Please don't. I just thought… (tears starting)… thought you liked me.

Robbie: What have I ever said or done to give that impression?

Lily: You saved my life. You were always so nice to me.

Robbie: I haven't saved your life yet. We're still in mortal danger.

Lily: Well, you're trying to save my life and you were always so nice to me.

Robbie: What else was I supposed to do?

Lily: (Quietly, blinking back tears) I like you. I really do. If it weren't for escaping from Johnathan Thurgood, I could stay here with you forever.

Robbie: (Less harshly) Madam, I must insist that you put any such thoughts out of your head. I have no… sentimental feelings towards at all.

Lily: But… you're alone. Don't you get lonely…?

Robbie: No.

Lily: Is… is there anyone else?

Robbie: (Through clenched teeth) Whom I have sentimental feelings for? Yes.

Lily: You left her…?

Robbie: (Trying to keep a wobble out of his voice) I had no reason to stay. She was married to someone else. Happy. I had to see her married before I left, know that he was a good fellow and would make her happy. And he is.

Lily: How long ago?

Robbie: (Who would have preferred to stop this conversation) Did I leave her? Seven years ago. She probably has children by now.

Lily: Did she know how you felt?

Robbie: (Very much wanting to stop this conversation) Yes, I told her when we were children.

(Flashback: A forested planet. The sky is mostly blue, streaked with orange. The people live in the trees, on wooden platforms in the branches connected by ladders, rope bridges and rope swings. On a little wooden platform on the top of a tall tree, with a view over the whole valley, are Robbie and a girl, both aged about ten. The little girl is wearing a white dress and a crown of flowers. Robbie, smiling shyly, is holding a bouquet of some delicate white flower.)

Robbie: She turned me down. Very kindly.

(Flashback: The little girl is smiling sadly, shaking her head. Robbie looks sad for a moment, then smiles bravely.)

Lily: And that was it?

(Flashback: The little girl standing on the edge of the platform, silhouetted against the sky, the radiant light. For a moment she looks back over her shoulder, then up at the sky.)

Robbie: (Shrugs) Well, yeah. What else do you expect?

Lily: And you still love her? Since you were children?

Robbie: (Shrugs) I pledged my eternal devotion.

Lily: And you've kept it?

Robbie: (Raising one eye-brow) Aren't I a man of my word?

Lily: It seems rather… pointless…

Robbie: (Quietly) I keep my promises.

Lily: Even to someone who's probably forgotten you ever made it?

Robbie: I haven't forgotten. That is all that matters. You didn't complain when I agreed to rescue you from the Thurgoods, so kindly don't complain now.

Lily: I can't remember what you agreed.

Robbie: You asked if you might beg of me to protect you. I replied "of course".

Lily: (Long pause, quietly) I'm sorry.

Robbie: (Politely) Not at all. Now, I suggest you go to sleep.

Lily: (Subdued) Good night. Wake me when you want to change watch.

Robbie: Good night.

(Lily lies down to sleep, Robbie cleans his pistol.)

Scene 33—Morning

(Cold blue light of early morning. Birds making sleepy noises. Lily is asleep, curled up quite comfortably on the bare ground. Distant noises. Robbie shakes Lily's shoulder.)

Lily: (Sleepily) Mmm? (More alert as she remembers where they are) Is it morning?

Robbie: I can hear men coming.

Lily: (Calmly) What do we do?

Robbie: Run. I don't think they've seen us.

(Lily pulls her shoulder bag over her shoulder and straps on her rifle quite competently. They pile earth over the remains of the fire and set off briskly over the stream and up the far side of the valley.)

Lily: (Looking back) I can't see them…

(On a distant peak, the tiny figures of three horsemen appear, black silhouettes against the sky. It's impossible to tell at this distance who they are or what they've seen. Lily just shakes her head grimly and exhales. She struggles on, up a steep pass so high there's no vegetation.)

Scene 34—A Ridge

(Lily and Robbie are crossing a high ridge, with vertiginous drops on either side, the wind blowing in their faces. They are both breathing hard. The distant mounted figures are definitely pursuing them— and gaining.)

Lily: (Matter-of-factly) I can't outrun them.

Robbie: We'll gain the pass. We can hold them off there.

(Lily increases her pace in silence.)

Scene 35—The Pass

(The pass is steep, narrow and boulder-strewn. It's the sort of pass one man could hold if he has good aim. Robbie and Lily crouch down at the side of the pass. Lily takes aim with her rifle and Robbie draws his pistol. There are four men on horses with hounds in the lead, but five more and some more hounds are visible in the distance, streaming down the pass onto the ridge. The four men all draw pistols, but they only have a vague idea that their quarry is in the pass, they can't see properly. They are still a long way from the pass when Robbie calmly takes aim and kills one. He falls off the ridge, it's so narrow. Lily misses, but quickly reloads and she and Robbie both kill a pursuer this time. Lily grins hugely and completely forgets to reload. Robbie kills the fourth pursuer.)

Lily: (Stunned and proud) Oh, my God…

Robbie: (Grinning) Well done! Reload…

Lily: Oh, yeah… (She reloads)

(The five men in the distance stop, then turn aside and begin to climb a mountain-side up out of sight.)

Robbie: (Returning to the grim seriousness of the situation they're in) Come on. (Peers uneasily at the mountain-side the rest of the hunt went round) I wish I knew where they'd gone…

(Robbie and Lily set off scrambling up the pass)

Lily: What about breakfast? (Looks at her watch— it's half past ten)

Robbie: When we get to a stream, I'll catch some fish.

(Lily nods silently)

Scene 36—A Stream

(A mountain stream in a narrow valley. Lily and Robbie are both panting. Their bare feet have started to bleed. They're pushing the limits of endurance, but that's how survival works. The remaining pursuers are nearer and their hounds bay grimly. Robbie is in the stream catching fish with a mixture of string and his hands, essentially trapping them in the pools among the rocks in the shallow stream. When he's laid two wriggling fish on the rock by the stream, he clouts them with his pistol and hands one dead fish to Lily.)

Robbie: Breakfast-slash-lunch to go

Lily: Thanks (She takes a mouthful of raw fish)

Robbie: (Looking at their feet) Blood's not helping, makes it easier for the dogs. Oh, well, can't be helped.

(They start walking again, across the bleak landscape.)

Scene 37—Later, Wooded Upland

(The sun is starting to set. The pursuit is closer now. The fish has been long eaten. The sun is setting, the shadows are lengthening. Lily and Robbie struggle on.)

Lily: I guess there's no chance of sleep tonight?

(They cross a sparse upland meadow, then back into the trees, the pursuit only about a mile behind and gaining. The horses are fresh and strong and their hooves thud relentlessly on the hard ground. Lily and Robbie are stumbling and slipping. Lily's breath comes ragged, her mouth is set tight. She attempts a stumbling run. Her heart thuds hard and dry.

Sparse upland meadow. The horses gain.

They pass through a ring of trees into an upland glen. In the middle is a deep, clear pool. They stumble exhaustedly to the side of the pool, but then stop. Because inside the pool, as clearly visible as if it were a window, in a paradisiacal landscape. Rolling green lawns. Sun-shine. Fruit trees.

They look at each other. Robbie reaches out and puts his hand in the pool. Then he pulls it out— dry.)

Lily: (Wonderingly) It's dry… What is this?

Robbie: It's a quantum phasal misalignment.

Lily: A what?

Robbie: I didn't want to say "a magic pond".

Lily: You rode a flying whale through outer space. Why draw the line at a magic pond?

(The hounds' baying grows louder. Robbie and Lily look at each other and make up their minds. Lily takes Robbie's hand and they dive into the pool.)

Scene 38—The Garden

(Smooth, rolling lawn. Trees of all colours, laden with ripe fruit, some recognisable as grapes, strawberries, peaches— or at least something like them— some utterly exotic. A little river, gentle and slow-moving. Sky is blue. Birds sing sweetly and melodically.

Lily and Robbie climb out of the pool, completely dry. In the pool beneath them, the little glen on the mountain-side is clearly visible. Then the vision of the glen vanishes and it's only a pond of clear blue water right the way down to a white pebble bottom.

Lily looks around her wonderingly— she has never seen anywhere so fertile and sheltered on the harsh, bleak plains.

Robbie goes down to the river and sips the water, cautiously at first, then gulps it.)

Robbie: It tastes… wonderful…

Lily: What… what is this place?

Robbie: Who knows? Who cares? It's wonderful…

(Lily kneels down by the river and drinks, faster and faster, gulping it down.)

Lily: I've never drunk anything like that…

(Trippy electronic music starts to play. Lily stands up and plucks a large, ripe fruit from a tree which grows by the stream. She eats it. She doesn't say anything, just eats faster and faster. Lily and Robbie wander through the garden, devouring different kinds of exotic alien fruit, licking the juice off their fingers. They don't speak, their eyes have a distant, trance-like look, the juice runs down their chins, the cuts on their feet miraculously heal, without a trace. Lily pulls up the huge, tropical alien flowers which grow everywhere, and buries her face in bunches of them. She throws herself down on the river bank, her eyes closed, completely relaxed.

Robbie lies down beside her and for a while they seem to sleep. Then he reaches out and takes her hand. After a while she moves closer, she rests her head on his shoulder. After a moment, Robbie reaches out and strokes her shoulder, then, very gently, her hair. She puts her arm round him. He strokes her cheek. Their eyes are open, but vacant. Then he kisses her on the mouth. She kisses back, runs her hands through his hair, pushes her body against him. Their run their hands along each others' face, shoulders, backs, kissing harder and with more abandon. But there's no passion in their faces, only a dead, vacant look in their eyes.

Mr Cuddles approaches. Mr Cuddles is a small python.)

Mr Cuddles: Stop right there, folks.

(Lily and Robbie look round, blinking blurrily like people who have just woken up. Music fades out.)

Mr Cuddles: Or ignore me like everyone else who's ever come here.

Lily: Wha'?

Mr Cuddles: (Eye-rolling sigh) I said "stop right there, or ignore me like everyone else who's ever come here".

Robbie: (Drowsily) Well in that case… we'll carry on.

Mr Cuddles: Aren't you even a wee bit interested in all the other people who've ever come here?

Lily: (Shaking off her drowsiness) Other people have come here…?

Mr Cuddles: That's what I've just said three times, lady. Quick on the up-take, that's what I like. Nothing gets past you.

Robbie: (Slowly) What did happen to them?

Mr Cuddles: They were granted eternal youth and beauty and bliss among the ever-flowering trees under the eternal sun.

Robbie: (A flicker of doubt) Really?

Mr Cuddles: Yep.

Robbie: That sounds nice. I think I'll stay here.

Mr Cuddles: (Wriggling onto Robbie's lap) And eat all you like and drink all you like? And play in the garden forever? And forget where you're from and who you really are?

(Robbie and Lily look at each other, puzzled, aware that something's wrong.)

Lily: (Slowly) Who we really are?

Mr Cuddles: Is that what you want? Really?

Lily: But… (looks back at the pond) out there it's…

Mr Cuddles: Dangerous? Scary? Always is. Everyone who comes here.

Lily: And I have to go… now?

Mr Cuddles: You don't have to do anything. I'm just a humble snake. If you want to laze among the lilies from here to eternity, feel free. But if you want a humble snake's advice, run for your life. Run for your soul.

Lily: But how do I know we can trust you?

Mr Cuddles: Why not? A simple fellow with an honest face?

Lily: But you're… you're…

Mr Cuddles: (Annoyed) Oh, I see. It's because I'm a snake. Honestly, you humans are so prejudiced. Snakes are always the bad guy. Whether it's the Bible or Nidhogg or the bloody Typhon. Clemmons couldn't even leave Kaa alone. This is the first part I've got not playing a villain. Look deeper than scales, people.

Lily: I… I beg your pardon.

Mr Cuddles: (Huffily) Don't mention it. Quite used to it. (More gently) I'm not really asking you to trust me. I'm asking you to trust you. In your heart of heart, you know

(Lily looks around the garden and shudders.)

Robbie: (Quietly, jaw clenched) I'm leaving. The pool's not magic any more, but I'll put a bullet through me before I stay here another minute.

(Lily and Robbie stand looking down at the pool, Mr Cuddles draped affectionately across Robbie's shoulders.)

Mr Cuddles: You can only go though once.

Lily: Then how will we ever get back?

Mr Cuddles: You have to want to leave.

Lily: (Sadly) To be chased? Maybe killed?

Mr Cuddles: Afraid so.

(Robbie and Lily stand and stare at the pool. Then Robbie takes her hand and they shut their eyes. A pause.)

Robbie: (Lips move silently) Rosaline… (Pronounced, BTW, like "eye")

(He jumps into the pool, pulling her after him… and they rise up back in the glen.)

Scene 39—The Glen

(They climb out of the pool, completely dry. They are bruised and bleeding again. No time has passed. The hunt is still approaching. The image of the garden vanishes from the pool to be replaced with the rocky bottom of a mountain pond.)

Mr Cuddles: (Looking around unimpressed) Politeness obliges me to point out what a nice little planet you've got here.

Lily: Gee, thanks.

(The hunt draws nearer.)

Lily: Take a deep breath.

(Robbie barely has time to take a deep breath before she grabs his hand and pulls him under the water.

Johnathan approaches, riding a fine but weary and over-ridden horse. His big fierce hounds mill around the horse. Johnathan's face is stern, his clothes are stained with sweat, he hasn't slept.

He draws up his horse at the pool and looks around. The remaining four hunters approach, with more hounds. They mill around the pool.

Under the water, Lily, Robbie and Mr Cuddles are trying not to drown.)

Johnathan: They're not here.

Hunter: We damn near had 'em. I was sure…

Johnathan: They must have gone down the gorge. Ride on.

(The hunt rides on.

After a moment, Lily, Robbie and Mr Cuddles rise from the pool, dripping wet this time, for the pool is no longer a portal, and climb onto the bank. They lie, half-drowned, gulping for breath.)

Robbie: Good thinking, Miss Monroe.

Lily: (Spluttering) Thank you…

Mr Cuddles: Something tells me it'll be a while before I see a feather bed and a slow-roasted dormouse in garlic. If this ain't what the travel brochures call a "desolate wilderness" I don't know what is.

Lily: (Trying to wring the worst wet out of her clothes) Trust me, there's nothing I'd like more than a feather bed. Or any bed with a roof over.

Robbie: I don't believe we've introduced ourselves. Robbie Dulak, at your service. (Shakes hands with Mr Cuddles' tail)

Mr Cuddles: How do you do?

Lily: Lily Monroe. (Shakes hands with his tail)

Mr Cuddles: How do you do?

Lily: And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?

Mr Cuddles: Well, I don't rightly know.

Lily: You don't know your own name?

Mr Cuddles: Well, I've never had to introduce myself before now.

Robbie: What do people call you?

Mr Cuddles: Mostly they call me "Eeek, look, a snake!". (Sighs theatrically) It's a hard life.

Lily: Then we'll have to name you.

Mr Cuddles: Why, thank you, miss, thank you…

Lily: Have you any particular preference?

Mr Cuddles: A nice, sociable name, if you please, miss.

Lily: How about Mr Cuddles?

Mr Cuddles: Why, that will do me nicely thank you. Very nicely indeed.

Robbie: (To Lily) Can you walk on?

Lily: (Not cheerfully but without hesitating) Yes.

Robbie: Then let's go. We'll dry quickly in the wind.

(They set off walking, Mr Cuddles draped around Robbie's shoulders.)

Scene 40—Head of a High Pass

(A high, bleak mountain pass. Lily and Robbie are limping along, hungry, thirsty and utterly shattered. Mr Cuddles has fallen asleep on Robbie's neck. There's no sign of the pursuit. Far away on the horizon, thick clouds are gathering in the clear blue sky.

Then, on the mountain-side on the other side of the pass, specks appear— distant figures of men on horse-back. Three of them.)

Robbie: Come on!

(They go on, faster, but trying not to run and spend all their strength.)
Lily: Which way?

(In the pass below them, another two horsemen. The two groups of pursuers form a narrowing ring, driving Robbie and Lily up to the head of the pass.)

Lily: We can kill them all. We can lay up behind that boulder… It's not like last time, there's nowhere for them to escape to, unless they can climb sheer cliffs.

Robbie: (Testing) And if they turn round and go back?

Lily: By the time they're near enough to see us properly, it'll be like shooting fish in a barrel. We'll have a clean line of sight, right down the pass.

Robbie: Your tactics are improving.

Lily: Yes, in theory. I haven't the strength to shoot, Mr Dulak, I can barely see no more.

Robbie: (Matter-of-factly) Me neither. I'm seeing two of everything.

(They reach the head of the pass, a dead end, blocked off by sheer cliffs.)

Lily: (Thinking aloud) If we don't survive this, it'll make a miserable end. (Shaking herself) Of course we'll survive this. Got any food?

Robbie: No, nothing. Has that fruit left you just as hungry as it's left me?

Lily: Yes.

(They settle down behind a boulder to wait. They are both exhausted, and seem to have slipped into a semi-faint. The cloudless horizon is turning deep blue—soon the sun will set.)

Scene 41—Later

(It's really dark now— the sun has almost entirely set, just a few red streaks linger in the dark sky. The stars are out, but very far away. The pursuit is approaching. The dogs are half frantic. The only sound is the dogs barking. In the distance, a bird gives a single, sharp cry.

It's cold. Lily and Robbie's teeth are chattering. They are tired. They have gone too long with nothing to eat.

Then a low growl very nearby.

In that moment, Lily visibly gives herself for lost. She doesn't even move from her position slumped against the rock.)
Robbie: (Mouths) Ursosaur!

Lily: (Whispering, mostly from exhaustion) I know what it is…

(Nearer growling.)

Robbie: (Indicating a gap between two rocks nearby) I think it lives there.

Lily: So we're between the ursosaur and its front door? Great.

(Another growl. A heavy shape moving just beyond visibility. The scene begins to take on the atmosphere of a nightmare. It's dark and Lily's vision is blurring from exhaustion.)

Robbie: I don't think it's noticed us.

Lily: When the guns go off, then it's going to notice us.

(The hounds are nearer. A loud, clearly angry roar.)

Lily: I don't think a dog's an ursosoar's best friend.

(Mr Cuddles chooses this moment to wake up.)

Mr Cuddles: (Peering around) Is something the matter?

Lily: (Whom despair has rendered drippingly sarcastic) No, no problem, we're just staring into the jaws of 8oo pounds of scaly death. Or would be if it weren't dark.

Mr Cuddles: Oh, good-oh, I thought there was a problem (Goes back to sleep)

Robbie: (Peering around in the dark) If I knew where it was, I could shoot it.

(Another growl, from the other side of the gorge. Robbie fumbles for his gun, but it's slipping from his fingers.)

Robbie: Two of them…? Husband and wife, how sweet…

(The baying of the dogs rises to a shrill howl. A gun goes off in the dark, a reptilian scream, then a horse screaming, in pain. Robbie's pistol goes off, Lily remains slumped against the boulder half dead, then a hulking shape appears looms against the darkness in front of Lily. It's the only time we ever see an ursosaur, just a shape, for a moment.)

Lily: (Lips move) No…

(She snaps out of her exhaustion, raises the gun and lashes out. A shriek, the shape falls back, Lily loses her balance, she starts to fall down the cliff, the dogs scream in the dark. Then quiet. She slides down the sheer slope and lies a shaking huddle in the dark, scree bouncing off her. Robbie tumbles to a stop next to her.)

Robbie: That was amazing! You must be the only person to kill an ursosaur by hitting in the face.

Lily: Where are we? (Her teeth are chattering from shock)

Robbie: We've kind of just fallen off a mountain.

(They notice white flakes tumbling high above them in the now starless sky. Then the snow begins to fall gently on their faces.)

Lily: (Quietly) It's snowing.

Robbie: Yes.

Lily: (Quietly) We're dead.

Robbie: Quite likely.

Lily: (Biting her lip, quietly) But I won't take it lying down.

Robbie: (Pulls her to her feet as the snow falls faster) Then we'll take it standing up.

Scene 42: Later

(Dead of night. A blizzard. No land-marks are visible, only swirling white flakes in the dark. Lily and Robbie are staggering across the plateau, hand-in-hand, shaking like leaves. The snow swirls in their face, and piles so deep that their legs sink into it and at times they have to wade through it. Their lips are blue. They're too exhausted to see, to speak, to think. They shuffle forward on pure survival instinct, slipping, falling, pushing themselves up with pathetic, mechanical persistence. They have to prop each other up or they would simply keel over.

Then the snow-storm begins to clear. It doesn't stop but the flakes thin out enough to see the grey light of dawn on the distant horizon, and silhouetted against the sky is New Liverpool.

They have come to the other side of the mountains. The valley which they're in drops steeply to rolling plains. On the highest mountain-top and the last one before the plains, looming over them, is New Liverpool.

It gives the impression of trying to separate itself from the ground entirely and fly off. The ships— wooden sailing ships, zeppelins, classic flying saucers and truly weird many-armed creations and a hot-air balloon the size of a village— are docked at vertical marinas (caelinas?) which thrust upward into space the way maritime marinas thrust out over the ocean. Teetering around them is an arrangement of primitive (and health-and-safety-oblivious) weight-operated cranes, a harbour-master's office on stilts, an enormous flaming torch which works as a lighthouse, vertical stacks of wooden wear-houses, inns cantilevered off the mountain-side, all trying to be as high as possible the way warehouses and inns on Earth try to be as near the docks as possible. The over-all effect is vaguely steam-punk, and a bit wooden-ships-and-iron-men.

Descending from the top of the mountain, to a hut at the bottom labelled "Kangalope Express", is a single cable which forms a loop, creating a primitive cable-car, driven by weights and crank-handles, to take parcels from the warehouse at the top. Of course, it takes a devil-may care attitude to health and safety, hurtling along at a merry pace, parcels of varying sizes swinging wildly and jolting.)

Lily: (Faintly between chattering teeth) Saved…

(They stagger forward, and reach the bottom of the mountain, where they collapse, gently sinking forward against the slope, snow falling on them. They stumble forward a few paces, then stop, then a few paces, then slide back down. New Liverpool looks hopelessly inaccessible.

Then Lily looks at the cable-car. She blinks slowly a few times, because the storm has made her sleepy.

Then she reaches out and grabs a metal hook dangling from the cable. It drags her a long rather like a water-ski.

Lily and Robbie look at each other. They have no strength to speak.

There are no seats or anything designed for human use, just hooks and the occasional basket. A lot of parcels are just slung in bags and then flung on hooks dangling from the cable.

They wait for a very small basket, not really big enough for two, and blunder towards it, fumbling with their numb hands for the rope (the cable makes alarming creaking noises during this delay).

The basket is just big enough for them to perch on as they're dragged along the ground. The ride is bumpy, then the ground falls away entirely and their floating through the sky on a wobbly basket.

They've both fainted from cold and exhaustion. Fortunately, their fingers are frozen too stiff to let go and their hands have frozen to the rope.

Having reached a dizzying height, they arrive at a rickety little wooden warehouse up a caelina in New Liverpool, where an elderly man is counting barrels stacked in the corner. The warehouse is simply lacking a wall at the side which the cable runs out of and Lily and Robbie are simply carried through this opening and dragged along the wooden floor. They are in danger of being carried back out again, but the man notices them and pulls them out of the basket. They lie on the floor in a dead faint, their clothes crackling with frozen snow, their bare feet frost-bitten, the breath only weakly fluttering in their throats.)

Man: (Sympathetic but not really surprised) Dear dear dear!

Scene 43—Warehouse

Lily and Robbie are lying side-by-side on the floor at the end of the warehouse furthest from the missing wall, covered with blankets. Mr Cuddles lies between them, under the blankets, with just his head poking out, like a snake-shaped teddy bear.

Arranged on the floor are the guns, Robbie's sword, Lily's shoulder-bag and Robbie's belt, with its many useful attachments.

The elderly man is heating a kettle over a little brazier, which, given that the entire ware-house is made out of wood, is a slightly dangerous operation. Their drenched clothes are drying in front of the brazier.

After a while, Robbie's eyes flicker open.

Elderly man: Oh, you're awake, that's good. (Peers kindly down at him) Would you like some tea?

Robbie: Save Miss Monroe… the man's a Devil. (Rolls over and collapses into unconsciousness)

Elderly man: Save her from what? Did you say you wanted some tea? (Blinks down at Robbie, shrugs and returns to pottering around the warehouse)

Scene 44—Later

(It's now stopped snowing. The sun is high in the sky and the view out the missing wall down the mountain is magnificent—down into the valley, to the other peaks beyond, down the other side of the mountain where the slope descends towards the snow-blown plains.

Lily stirs and blinks.)

Elderly man: Good afternoon, miss. How do you do?

Lily: Where am I? (Remembering Johnathan) Is he here?

(Robbie stirs)

Elderly man: Who?

Lily: Johnathan Thurgood.

Robbie: The Devil man.

Elderly man: No, you're the only people here.

Lily: (Sinking back onto the blanket) Thank God!

Robbie: (To Lily) Do you think you can walk?

(Lily nods shakily)

Robbie: Then I thank you for your kindness, sir, and we'll be on our way. (Pushes back the blanket and remembers he's not wearing anything. To Lily) Excuse me a moment. (Standing up and wobbling on his feet)

(Lily shuts her eyes)

Elderly man: But you can't possibly… You haven't even had a cup of tea…

Robbie: (Scrambling clumsily into his clothes) While Johnathan Thurgood's above ground, I'm not stopping until we get to Earth.

Lily: I'll jump off the mountain before he touches me.

Mr Cuddles: (Waking up) Howdy! (Bobs his head to the elderly man) Missed much while I was asleep?

Elderly man: Er… no.

Mr Cuddles: Name's Cuddles. Mr Cuddles. (Begins to twine affectionately around the elderly man's leg.)

Elderly man: (Unsettled) Er… how do you do?

Robbie: (To Lily) All right. (To the elderly man) I'm sorry to dash off, you must think me terribly rude, but we're in a hurry.

Elderly man: Bless you, lad, I just don't want you to freeze to death.

Lily: (Looking out at the snow, optimistically) We won't freeze to death… (Pushes back the blanket) Excuse me.

(Robbie and the elderly man shut their eyes)

Elderly man: Well, your Johnathan Thurgood probably has, it was howling a blizzard out there. Why not stay for some soup?

Lily: (Putting on her clothes) You don't know him. I might even make an exception to not believing in ghosts, just for him. (To Mr Cuddles) Hem, hem!

Mr Cuddles: I'm a snake! I'm a snake…

Lily: You're a sentient snake.

Elderly man: You'll excuse the liberty, miss, but it was that or pneumonia…

Lily: Not at all. I have no longing for pneumonia.

Elderly man: I took the liberty of washing them…

Lily: Thank you. (Now presentable) All right.

Elderly man: (Opening his eyes) If you must leave now, at least take some coats.

Lily: Oh, thank you, that's very kind of you.

(The elderly man rummages behind a pile of sacks and produces two fur coats and a small woolly hat)

Robbie: Thank you very much.

Elderly man: The hat might fit you, Mr…er… Cuddles.

Mr Cuddles: Thank you kindly.

(They don their outdoor things. Robbie reloads his belt and, disengaging Mr Cuddles from the elderly man's leg, drapes him round his neck and puts the hat on him. Lily hangs her shoulder bag and rifle on her back. They are both still weak and stumbling, their speech is slurred and they're exhausted and hungry, but the survival instinct drives them on.)

Robbie: (Rummaging in a pocket) How much for the clothes?

Elderly man: Not at all, not at all.

Robbie: But-

Elderly man: (Firmly) I won't take "but", young man.

Robbie: (Surrendering) Thank you, sir.

Elderly man: Would you like some bread? Some pastries? (Produces a loaf of some kind of French bread and some kind of Danish pastry and shoves them into a sack)

Lily: Oh, thank you. (Seizes the sack joyfully and slings it on her back)

Robbie: Goodbye, sir.

Lily: Goodbye, you've been ever so kind.

Mr Cuddles: Thank you for the hat, sir.

Elderly man: Least I could do. Well, goodbye. Good luck.

(Nods to Mr Cuddles, kisses Lily's hand and shakes Robbie's.)

Scene 45—The Heights of New Liverpool

(Our heroes are on a little wooden platform projecting over empty air, with the most inadequate supports and no safety rail. Steam rises from below. A sea shanty, badly-played on an accordion, emanates from somewhere.

Tethered at the side of the platform is a space ship. She looks a bit like an old-fashioned aeroplane, made of canvas stretched over a flimsy wooden frame, with wings which flap like a bat. The cock-pit is essentially an open-topped rowing boat, (canvas stretched over a wooden frame) but instead of oars, there are sticks attached to the wings which can be used to flap them. The name painted on the wing is My Darling.

The cox is a tough frontiersman in his late forties. He has a crew of four young frontiersmen, who are silently surveying the cold, exhausted travellers with scepticism.)

Robbie: Sir, are you going to the moon?

Cox: Aye.

Robbie: This young lady urgently needs to travel to Earth. We would be eternally grateful for safe passage on your vessel.

Cox: I don't normally take passengers. Can you row a space-ship?

Robbie: Yes

Lily: No

Mr Cuddles: How would I know? I've never tried.

A Crewman: Oh, my God! It talks!

Mr Cuddles: I prefer the phrase "he talks", with respect for my sentience and individuality.

Cox: (Ignoring Mr Cuddles and addressing Robbie) That'll be two doubloons, please.

Robbie: (Rummaging in his belt and pulling out a handful of coins) Here's one… one and two sevenths. Sorry, I'm a bit broke. (Confidently holds out the money)

Lily: (Rummaging in her shoulder bag and pulling out her three small coins and squinting at them) That's a florin… groat and a fifth… (squinting at a coin) and that's not even valid in this galaxy. (Holds out the coins)

Cox: I'm sorry, miss. No can do. She's a cargo ship, not a passenger ship.

Robbie: (Perfectly confident) But this is the convenience of a lady.

Cox: (Looking at the sheer faith in humanity in those eyes) All right, come on.

Lily: Thank you, sir, I'm very grateful.

(The three of them jump into the boat, a slightly dangerous exercise given the height above the ground and the boat's habit of swaying the way a real boat would do in such circumstances.)

Robbie: Thank you, you're very kind.

Mr Cuddles: Thank you kindly. Would you mind directing me to your barrel of rum?

Scene 46—On Board My Darling

My Darling is soaring through space like a bird, wings outstretched. The crew are sitting in on the benches facing backwards, holding the sticks which control the wings. Robbie is managing quite professionally, Lily, on the port wing, less so. Mr Cuddles is reeling drunk on the barrel of rum. The cox is sitting in the stern.

Cox: Port wing.

(Lily and the other port-wingers push the sticks down, the big canvas wing raises, My Darling banks to starboard like a bird, and the wingers are in danger of taking a tumble, which Lily does not expect.)

Cox: Land ho!

(To port, the Moon is visible in the distance, a shiny white disc. Lily cranes round to look.)

Cox: You'll get a rick in your neck if you keep doing that.

(Lily turns back round. My Darling is soaring, really very gracefully, through space towards the Moon. A sudden shower of shooting stars above them, all the colours of the rainbow. Lily laughs for joy and leans dangerously out over the side, stretching out into space.)

Cox: What do you think you're doing, girl?

Lily: It's so beautiful. I've never been to space before…

Cox: (More kindly, almost smiling) Well, if you take a tumble it'll be your last.

(Lily stares wonderingly after the shooting stars)

Cox: Obstacles! Hard a port!

(The starboard-wingers push the sticks down, the wing goes up, Lily twists around to look at the asteroids hurtling towards them.)

Cox: Don't sit there an stare, wing down!

(Lily quickly pulls her stick up, the wing lowers, My Darling swerves to port. Lily gasps. The asteroid takes a clip off the starboard wing.)

Cox: All clear!

(My Darling levels out, and everyone breathes a little easier. The starboard wing is sagging a little.)

Scene 47—The Moon

A beautiful valley filled with silver flowers.

A big wooden shed with a patch of bare, hard-packed purple soil in front of it. On the expanse of soil are land vehicles, air vehicles, space vehicles and vehicles of entirely unclear purpose, including what seems to be a submarine.

The big wooden shed has a wooden towers on each corner a bit like the ones in Ellis Island. The sign over the door reads "Customs". Above the signs are clocks, with labels such as "Greenwich Mean Time", "Southern Spiral Arm Standard Time" "Orion's Belt Summer Time".

My Darling touches down, with both wings pulling up like a bird's when it lands, for air-resistance, then both wings tuck in beside her, like a bird's when it rests.

Cox: (Patting her hull) Good girl! Well done! Now, we'll get your wing patched up.

(Everybody clambers out of the boat, Robbie draping Mr Cuddles over his neck. Lily nearly falls over. Robbie grabs her arm.)

Cox: Feels strange to back on terra firma, don't it? Ground-sick, we call it.

Lily: Very strange…

Cox: Well, good-bye. And whatever it is that's so urgent, miss, I hope you find it.

Lily: Thank you. Thank you so much.

(She takes his hand to shake and wrings it with such fervour that he's surprised.)

Robbie: Thank you. I'll be forever grateful. (Shakes his hand hard.)

Cox: (Taken aback) Well, now, not at all…

Mr Cuddles: Thank you, sir, and may I complement you for your fine taste in rum?

Scene 48—The Custom House

(A big wooden room, crowded and busy. Robbie and Lily are waiting in the queue to go through customs. "Mr Blue Sky" by ELO starts playing. In front of them is a door, with a big sign above it which reads "Through-ships to Earth. Please leave your moonshine, switch-blades and blood feuds on the border. Welcome to civilisation, folks". Lily is visible relieved at the sight of it. She grins at Robbie and squeezes his hand. He grins back. The vague and perhaps not entirely competent excise men are being harried by various travellers.)

Loud, indignant voice: The two hundred tonnes of Kapteyn fire-root are for my own use.

Customs officer: (Murmurs)

Loud, indignant voice: I like Kapteyn fire-root

Shrill woman: Now, when is the next ship to Gliese. What do you mean she's delayed by a space goat? I simply must get to Gliese…

Quiet but stubborn man: A sky-moo is not live-stock, the New Argyllshire Association of Animal Welfare has granted them rights.

Customs officer: Then why is it protected by Animal Welfare? And New Argyllshire is of dubious recognition as a settlement…

(Lily and Robbie reach the front of the queue. An excise-man in vaguely eighteenth-century costume peers at them from behind a desk.)

Excise Man: Anything to declare?

Lily: Nothing, sir.

Excise Man: What about that snake? Doesn't it count as livestock?

Mr Cuddles: A sentient and rational creature, good sir.

Excise Man: One moment, while I talk to my superior…

(Robbie is staring quietly and intently at something beyond Lily. The music fades. She follows his eyes. There's Johnathan Thurgood. He hasn't seen them yet, but he will. Lily tightens her grip on Robbie's hand.)

Robbie: (Quietly but firmly) We need to go.

Excise Man: (Blinking) Well, the livestock…

Lily: (Urgently) Sir, please let us through.

Excise Man: But…

(Johnathan sees them)

Johnathan: (Quietly and viciously) You!

(Lily summons all her dignity and icily ignores him.)

Johnathan: (Draws his sword) Come here, whore!

(Lily ignores his still more icily. Robbie has a cold, dangerous gleam in his eye and places his hand on the hilt of his own sword.)

Johnathan: (Coldly determined) It's your choice if you die on your feet or when I drag you to your knees. Come here!

Lily: You can rant all you like. Kill me if you like, but you can't intimidate me any more.

(Johnathan coldly and viciously swings the sword straight at her, a killing blow. Robbie blocks the sword easily and fluidly and rams the point of his own sword into Johnathan's left shoulder.)

Robbie: (Icily) Don't touch her.

Johnathan: What is it to you? Are you her john?

Robbie: I take an old-fashioned view of people who call a woman "whore" to her face.

Johnathan: (Coldly, arrogantly) What will you do about it, space tramp?

Robbie: We both have swords. The obvious solution presents itself.

Johnathan: Very well. We will settle this like men of honour.

Robbie: We can teach a pig to walk on its hind legs, but we will never make a man of honour out of you.

Johnathan: Perhaps not, but I understand them. They are meddlesome busybodies who can never resist a fight.

Robbie: And proud of it.

Johnathan: You have a pistol?

Robbie: Yes.

Johnathan: Ten paces and turn?

Robbie: Yes.

(Both men take out their flint-locks and begins the process of wiping, cleaning and loading.)

Lily: (Quietly) Robbie- I mean, Mr Dulak, please don't do this…

Robbie: (Drapes Mr Cuddles round her neck.) Why not?

Lily: Because it's not worth it.

Robbie: What's not worth what?

Lily: A chance at him isn't worth dying for.

Robbie: To kill one louse is worth a thousand deaths.

Lily: Is that what you are? Some kind of galactic pest control?

Woman behind them: Could you please move out the way of the queue?

Robbie: Someone's got to be.

Excise Man: Yes, please move out the way of the queue.

(They move to an open space behind the row of desks and the custom house continues with its business around them)

Lily: It's not… I'm not worth it.

Robbie: Don't talk nonsense. You waste my time and insult my professionalism.

Lily: Professionalism? Is saving people a job?

Robbie: It's a moral duty.

Lily: No, you've done enough. You don't have to fight him. I… I don't want you to.

Robbie: (A little bitterly) But yes, madam, I do. The hero, as you're so fond of pointing out, always fights a spectacular duel against the villain at the end, and wins against desperate odds.

Lily: (Angrily) Real life is not a book.

Robbie: Maybe you should have understood that before you began your career of professional damsel in distress.

Lily: (Startled, the tears starting) It wasn't…. I wasn't…

Robbie: No, I'm sorry, that was cruel, please forget I ever said that.

Lily: (Calmly) No, it's accurate. I got you into this wretched mess. I'm no concern of yours, and now you might die for me. Please don't risk your life for someone you barely know and don't care for.

Robbie: But what would you do without me?

Lily: (Simply and helplessly) I don't know…

Robbie: Then it is my concern.

Lily: But if you're doing this because I asked you to, can't you stop, because I'm asking you to?

Robbie: You asked me for help because you needed it. If you need help, I have to help you.

Lily: Why?

Robbie: Because I promised to. You needed me to protect you and I said "of course".

Lily: (Quietly) Why?

Robbie: Because you needed me to.

Lily: (Quietly and simply as a child might ask) And now?

Robbie: You still need me to. So yes, I have to fight him. (Smiling softly) No matter how much you complain, madam.

Lily: Thank you, Mr Dulak.

Robbie: My pleasure, Miss Monroe. (Turns away)

Lily: Mr Dulak!

Robbie: (Turning back) Yes?

Lily: Why do you wear three watches?

Robbie: Because if I only had two and they were telling different times I wouldn't know which one was wrong. But with three, if two are telling the same time and one is different, it's probably the two which are correct.

Lily: Oh, right. Well, good luck.

Robbie: Thank you.

Mr Cuddles: Now, remember, mister, the pointy end is the end you point at him. A lot of accidents happen in duels from gents forgetting basic rules like that.

Johnathan: (To the excise man) Excuse me, sir, would you mind counting the paces?

Excise Man: (Fluttering and twittering) Well, I don't know, I've never presided over a duel, I don't…

Johnathan: (Impatiently) All you have to do is count to ten.

Excise Man: Well, all right…

(Johnathan and Robbie stand back to back. With each number the excise man says, they take another step. The atmosphere is of dull, heavy dread. Lily stares in front of her, with the glazed look in her eye of a sick, trapped animal. Even Mr Cuddles seems to have sobered up a bit. The other people in the customs house go about their business as if a pistol duel were the most ordinary thing in the world.)

Excise Man: (In a dry, customs-official voice) One… two… three… four… five…

(Woman pushes between Robbie and Johnathan pushing a wheelbarrow of potatoes)

Woman: Excuse me…

Excise Man: Six… seven… eight… nine… ten.

(Robbie and Johnathan are now twenty paces apart.)

Excise Man: Fire.

(Robbie and spin round. Robbie's bullet hits Johnathan square in the chest and he crumples over dead like a rag doll. Robbie remains upright for a moment, the red stain spreading over his shirt.)

Robbie: (Whispers, a faint triumphant smile) I never miss… (Drops down dead)

(Lily simply stands for a moment, quiet and shocked. Then she walks slowly over to Robbie and collapses by him, her face blank with shock.)

Excise Man: (Returning to his official duties, addressing the queue of people waiting) Beg your pardon for the delay, madam, anything to declare?

(Lily is disorientated, the camera flips briefly to her point of view, staring at the blood oozing from Robbie's head onto the floor. Then she begins to cry, quiet, helpless tears pouring out like a young child's, not brushing the tears away, barely seeming to notice them. For a while the camera simply stays there as she cries herself dry, Mr Cuddles nuzzles up to her, licking her face. Then she unfastens Robbie's belt, with his sword, and fastens it round herself. She takes his gun and his holster and fastens them onto her belt. She stands up, Mr Cuddles wrapped around her neck, and walks out of the door back to the space-park. The last shot is of her walking across the space-park, with a back-drop of silver moon-flowers, thumb out for a lift.)

(Credits roll. Guns 'N' Roses "November Rain")

THE END