31 Plays in 31 Days, #25 – “Wedding Toast”

This piece is a little monologue from a point that honestly probably would happen BETWEEN Hawking plays– part six and part seven, I think. It came from the idea that Nathaniel would be asked to give a toast at Mary’s wedding, which happens between those two installments.

The idea here is that Mrs. Hawking and Mary have just had their break, where Mary decides she can’t stay and deal with Mrs. Hawking’s erratic, dangerous behavior and unfair treatment anymore and goes off with Arthur to America. But first they get married, and when Mrs. Hawking is invited to the wedding as a gesture of good will, she turns it down and does not attend. Both Nathaniel and Mary are very hurt by this and the whole business is very fresh, so I thought it would show up in the speech. And of course, Nathaniel would have to allude to everything he knows about Mary from their work together without stating it outright, as the rest of the guests wouldn’t necessarily be aware.

Day #25 – “Wedding Toast”

NATHANIEL:

I’ve been asked to say a few words on this occasion, and I must say I’m glad for the chance— although you may not be, if you know how I do go on. But I’ll ask that you indulge me a while. Now, Arthur is a fine lad and a dear friend, but you’ll forgive me if I’ve simply got to talk about Mary. At that first meeting, I thought we were lucky to find you. I didn’t know then that I didn’t know the half of it. Any other girl… well, wouldn’t have been able to stand it. But even so, another girl would have faded into the background. Hidden by her place, and by our prejudices about that place. But it turned out that you were… a rare flower that was only our good fortune to blossomed in our garden. And as you bloomed, your strength became ours. You managed any challenge that came your way, with courage, with grace, and with a remarkable willingness to try and fight and fail and try again, until you conquered. And you in turn challenged us— to learn, to grow, to become better than we were. And you would not stand it when we were less. We couldn’t know then how much you would mean to us. When you turned out to be brave when the situation called for it, with a strong back and the good sense God gave you. Knowing you— you changed me, Mary. You… you changed us. Because before then, we wouldn’t have seen it. I don’t know if you ever knew that. How grand it was. When that uncommonly tall girl came through our doorway and helped me up in a nurse’s carry, when… well, when someone sent me stumbling to the floor.

(Pause.)

This is a joyous occasion, and it ought to stay that way. But… hang it all, you oughtn’t only be hearing this from me. But if I’m the only one about to tell you, by Jove, I’m jolly well going to say it.

(Pause.)

Now… I’d best straighten my tie and shut my gob, before all this fair regard makes me become truly un-English. Arthur, Mary, I wish you all the luck and joy in the world.

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