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1 Plays for Young Audiences A PARTNERSHIP OF SEATTLE CHILDREN S THEATRE AND CHILDREN S THEATRE COMPANY-MINNEAPOLIS 2400 THIRD AVENUE SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA FAX The Book of Everything Adapted by Richard Tulloch From the novel by Guus Kuijer The Book of Everything was originally produced by Theatre of Image at Belvoir St Upstairs Theatre, Australia, in The license issued in connection with PYA perusal scripts is a limited license, and is issued for the sole purpose of reviewing the script for a potential future performance. All other rights regarding perusal scripts are expressly reserved by Plays for Young Audiences, including, but not limited to, the rights to distribute, perform, copy or alter scripts. This limited license does not convey any performance rights of any kind with this material. By accepting any perusal script(s), Licensee agrees to and is bound by these terms.

2 SYNOPSIS Amsterdam, Thomas Klopper is aged 9, nearly 10. He sees things others don t see a hailstorm in summer, tropical fish in the canals, a plague of green frogs and Jesus. And in his diary, The Book of Everything, he writes his greatest hope for the future: When I grow up, I m going to be happy. Thomas s father is severe and sometimes violent, trying to insulate his family from the world outside their strict Christian faith. Mr Klopper says the bible is the book of everything that matters. Thomas s odd imagination is his way of dealing with his secret misery. He finds strength through his down-to-earth chats with Jesus, his love for Eliza-with-the-leather-leg, and the support of rebellious bike-riding, trouser-wearing Auntie Pie and neighbourhood witch Mrs. van Amersfoort. She shows Thomas the power of music and books, and he learns that happiness begins with no longer being afraid. CHARACTERS KLOPPER, aged 9, nearly 10 KLOPPER, aged 16 ELIZA WITH THE LEATHER LEG, aged 16 /BUMBITER AUNTIE PIE JESUS The cast also play: STREET CHILDREN CHURCH CONGREGATION READING OUT LOUD CLUB GUESTS The Book of Everything 1

3 SETTING Amsterdam, summer, The house of the Klopper family in the Old South area of the city. The apartment is austere, with little decoration other than a tropical fish tank and a painting of Jesus. Next door is the apartment of Mrs. van Amersfoort, lined with books and cluttered with magical knick-knacks. Other locations are: The streets of Amsterdam. Church service house STYLE This is an ensemble piece; actors not involved in particular scenes sometimes remain on stage, observing, commenting on the action and supplying sound effects and props as required. Kim Carpenter s design for the original production featured a large copy of Thomas s diary, The Book of Everything, standing upstage centre. Pages were turned during the performance to reveal naively painted representations of each different location. The Book of Everything 2

4 ACT ONE PROLOGUE Thomas enters and reads from a brown paper covered diary The Book of Everything, by Thomas Klopper, aged 9 (he crosses it out and writes) nearly 10. Address: Breughelstraat 16, Amsterdam, Holland, Europe, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Galaxy, Universe, Space. Year: Cheerful music. My family. There are four people in my family. Me, Thomas Klopper, aged nearly 10, Pappa, who is my father. His name is Mr Abel Klopper. Father enters the acting area, strides stiffly across it and leaves. My mother is called Mamma, Mrs. Klopper and Jannie. She is very kind to everybody. Mother crosses the stage, pausing to give a small present to someone in the audience. My sister is Margot and she is sixteen. Margot flounces across the acting area. Margot is stupid. Margot stops and turns on Thomas, threatening him, then exits. My neighbours. Auntie Pie wobbles on, riding a bicycle. Auntie Pie always rides a bike, even in the rain. She has been riding for forty-eight years, but she is not very good at it. Auntie Pie and her bike wobble off. Sound of a crash offstage. Next door to us lives a witch. Her name is Mrs. van Amersfoort and she always wears black dresses. Mrs. van Amersfoort crosses. She is a little eccentric, muttering to herself as she walks. The Book of Everything 3

5 Mrs. van Amersfoort gets teased a lot, because she is a witch. Two children enter and start teasing her, walking behind her and imitating her gait. Mrs. van Amersfoort exits too. The scariest thing in our neighbourhood is the Bumbiter. Children run screaming into the acting area. The Bumbiter, a large vicious dog, played by the actor playing Father, springs into the acting area behind them. He s a dog that dashes down our street, big and wild and mean. Nobody knows where he comes from he s just there. And he bites you on the bottom! The Bumbiter, runs around snarling, trying to bite the bottoms of the children, played by the rest of the cast. They scatter in terror, hands covering their backsides. The Bumbiter snarls, lost and alone in the space, then he too exits. The Book of Everything 4

6 SCENE 1 29 th July, I don t know why, but I see things that nobody else can see. I write them all down in my book, The Book of Everything. Like today, when I saw a terrible hailstorm in the Jan van Eyckstraat. In the middle of summer! There is a crash of thunder, and a violent hailstorm starts. Watching actors make the storm by drumming with wooden spoons, a gathering crescendo, alarming Thomas. Mamma! Mamma! He puts his hands over his ears, and runs home as Mother enters. What is it, Thomas? Winter s here! Really? How did you get that idea? I saw it - a big hailstorm. The leaves were blasted off the trees. Mother directs his attention offstage to where an actor holds up a green branch. Thomas, look the trees are all still green. ACTOR (To audience) I ve always wanted to play a tree. Thomas looks, and is surprised at what he sees. The Book of Everything 5

7 (To Mother) The trees here are green. But round the corner in the Jan van Eyckstraat all the leaves have been ripped off. The whole street is covered in them! Mother is a little concerned. If you say so, Thomas. She ruffles his hair and continues setting up dining table and four chairs for the next scene. Mamma doesn t believe I saw it, but I know I did! Now where was I? Thomas writes again. My favourite colour is blue. My favourite food is appeltaart, yum! My favourite animals are guppies, which are fish. When I grow up I m going to be a He thinks, then crosses something out. Father enters. I m home. Father is home from the office. He kisses Mother as she rushes to take his coat and briefcase. Thomas, Margot, Pappa s home! I still don t know what my book s going to be about. Father goes to the dining table and Mother scurries to get the table ready for dinner. Margot does gymnastic exercises as Thomas crosses to her. (Imitating Mother) Thomas, Margot, Pappa s home! The Book of Everything 6

8 What are books about, Margot? She won t allow herself to get into a philosophical discussion with him. Thomas you re such a nine-year-old! Nearly ten. You can t even read long words. I love long words, especially if I don t know what they mean. Yes, like ignoramus! You think just because you re my big sister, you know everything. Just because you re sixteen you think you re a genius! You are so dumb, Margot! Dutch language - nine, Maths - ten, English eight, Geography nine, History ten. (To audience) It s amazing that Margot can get good school reports and still be as dumb as an onion! They move towards the dining table. Anyway, all the really good books are about love, and you re too young to know about The Book of Everything 7

9 things like that. They sit at the table as Father says grace. Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which of Thy bounty we are about to receive. Amen. Father sets a bible firmly on the table. All the really good books are about God. All the important stories are here in the Bible. (Trying to keep the peace) Books can be about love and God. But Father must have the last word. Oh? Who reads the books in this house, you or me? You do. So who knows about books? (Meekly) You do. Then I ll thank you not to contradict me when you don t know what you re talking about. Mother serves (mimed) soup. The family eats, in a cold, uncomfortable silence, broken by Thomas The Book of Everything 8

10 It hailed really hard in the Jan van Eyckstraat today, Pappa. The leaves were blasted right off the trees. Mother reaches out to him. It s a sin to tell lies, Thomas. Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile. Psalm 34. But I saw it, I really Thomas! Sorry, Pappa. (Emphasizing the long words directed at Thomas) Psychologically defective! Thomas is all right. The family eat again, in a protracted silence. When they are finished, Father opens the bible, in a stiff, formal gesture. Tonight we are reading from the Book of Exodus, chapter 5. (reads) Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. As he reads, Thomas s attention wanders. He looks around the room, playing with his soup bowl. Mother directs his attention back to Father. Father closes the bible. Tomorrow we shall read further, about how God punished the pharoah for disobeying his will. The Book of Everything 9

11 Mother hustles Thomas out of the room. Bedtime, Thomas. She ruffles Thomas s hair. You do have some funny stuff in there, don t you, my little dreamer? Sometimes I wonder what s going on with you. Do you think I m a little bit nice, Mamma? I think you re very, very, very, very a little bit nice! You re the sweetest boy in the whole world. She hugs him, trying to hide her tears. Mother leaves him and Thomas pulls out his book, to write fiercely I hate it when Mamma is sad. When I grow up, I m going to be I m going to be happy. The Book of Everything 10

12 SCENE 2 Church bells ring. Thomas and Margot walk in the street. Margot wears a headscarf covering her hair. JESUS ACTOR That summer in Amsterdam it was boiling hot for a whole week. Thomas spots something in the (imaginary) canal and dawdles to examine it. Auntie Pie crosses the stage carrying a bicycle tyre. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR So hot that bicycle tyres melted on the bitumen. So hot that tropical fish were swimming in the canal. I saw them with my own eyes. Dozens of them. They were guppies, like the ones in our fish tank at home. They re happy fish, that dance through the water like they re in love. But nobody would believe that I saw them in the canal. Hey, look Margot guppies! Thomas, we don t have time for these aquatic apparitions! Eliza enters. Eliza has a leather leg, an artificial limb that creaks as she walks. She carries a beach towel, and waves to Margot, a school friend. ELIZA Hey, Margot! Hey, Eliza. Where are you going? ELIZA Zandvoort Beach. Where else on a hot Sunday? How about you? The Book of Everything 11

13 (Indicating her headscarf) Church. We re walking to church. ELIZA Oh. Which church do you go to? It s not even a real church. We go to someone s house in Amsterdam West. Pappa s leading the service today - something else to look forward to. You wouldn t believe how boring it is. (CALLS) Thomas! ELIZA You re walking to Amsterdam West in this heat? Why don t you catch the tram? (With irony) Because God wouldn t like it. God doesn t want the trams to run on Sundays. ELIZA God doesn t like trams? Not on Sundays, that s what Pappa says. Apparently the two worst things in the world are being a traitor in the War, and riding in a tram on Sunday. (Calls) Thomas! Thomas leaves the canal and runs to Margot. They re swimming in the canal, Margot. I can see them! There are fantail guppies and spike swordtails and He stops short when he sees Eliza. ELIZA Who s this? The Book of Everything 12

14 It s my brother Thomas. Ignore him. Infantile hallucinations. ELIZA Hello, Thomas. I m Eliza. It is a magic moment. Thomas is smitten, and unable to meet Eliza s eye. But dropping his gaze means he s looking at her leg. It s rude to stare at people, Thomas! Don t you know anything? ELIZA It s fine, Margot. I m used to it. See, Thomas, it s just my leather leg. It creaks when I walk. She creaks around on it, jokingly using it to squeak out a little rhythm. You want to touch it? She offers it to him. Thomas reaches out to touch it, but when he gets closer he is too shy and withdraws his hand. No thank you. ELIZA What were you looking at over there? Tropical fish, in the canal. Guppies. ELIZA Where? Margot can t believe Eliza is paying attention to him. The Book of Everything 13

15 Eliza, he s nine. But Eliza joins Thomas staring into the canal. ELIZA Oh yes there they are! People flush them down the toilet when they go on holidays. Did you know there are crocodiles living in the sewers too? Really? Have you seen them? ELIZA Just a little one, swimming in our toilet. Only this big. (She holds up her little finger the only one on her deformed hand. Then seeing Thomas staring at it) Yeah, I ve got a funny hand too, haven t I? Hey, that s my tram! Bye Margot, bye Thomas. Wait for me, driver can t you see I m a cripple? She runs off, obviously hobbling, but clearly not embarrassed in the slightest. (To audience) I felt a sort of electric shock in my stomach. Eliza was so beautiful. And she understood what I saw. If you make us late for church, Thomas, Pappa will kill you. Then I ll kill you too. What happened to Eliza s fingers? Shut up! Margot drags him away and they exit. The Book of Everything 14

16 SCENE 3 Music continues quietly as Thomas and Margot hurry to join Mother and Father as they arrange seating for a church service and greet other parishioners, including Auntie Pie. Peace be with you peace be with you peace be with you Peace be with you, Pie. (pronounced Pee ) AUNTIE PIE And with you, Abel. (To Thomas) Hello, my little sausage everything ticketty-boo? She kisses Margot and Thomas. AND Hello, Auntie Pie. AUNTIE PIE Phew! Is it hot enough for you or what? Father greets other parishioners. Peace be with you peace be with you peace be with you Sunday is a day you have to push in front of you like a wheelbarrow. Other days just roll off the bridge by themselves. On Sunday we aren t allowed to play games, or ride on a tram, or whistle. A bird calls. Thomas looks up at it. Only birds can whistle, because they don t know it s Sunday. Birds don t have souls. Father stands at the front, leading the service. Hear the word of the Lord as it is written in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 9. And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let The Book of Everything 15

17 Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of the Pharaoh His voice drones on with the reading as Thomas looks around the congregation. (To audience, over Father s following speech) Not many people come to our church. They re mostly old or blind or deaf or lame, with warts on their chins. There are only two other children - two sisters who are so pale they re not going to last much longer. I give them till And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, and upon all the land of Egypt. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. That s a lot of boils. Mother directs Thomas s attention to Father. (Whispers) Thomas! I want us to think today about the true meaning of those plagues of Egypt. God sent the plagues of Egypt to punish the pharaoh for his wickedness. But those plagues were also a warning to the people of Egypt; the same warning that God sends to us here right now that a time will come when those that do wrong will have to answer for their sins. ALL (Sing) Lord, we like sheep have gone astray And wandered from Thy fold O guide us with Thy mighty hand And lead us from the cold. A hummed second verse of the hymn continues under The Book of Everything 16

18 (To audience) Sunday church service was long AUNTIE PIE (to audience) and the seats were hard. Thomas looks around the congregation. (to audience) Ladies have to cover their heads when they go to church. You aren t allowed to see their hairdos. It s all right for men they don t have hairdos. The hymn ends. (Sings) Almighty God, you see into the uttermost depths of our hearts. PARISHIONERS (Sing) Lord God, have mercy on us miserable sinners, And forgive us our transgressions. You know that we are unworthy. He nods to Mother who responds, singing alone Lord God, have mercy on us miserable sinners, And forgive us our transgressions. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed. He nods to another parishioner, Auntie Pie, who responds AUNTIE PIE (Sings) Lord God, have mercy on us miserable sinners, And forgive us our transgressions. The Book of Everything 17

19 We are not worthy to be called your children. He nods to Thomas, who is taken aback, but rises nervously in his place. (Sings) Lord God, have mercy on us miserable singers, And forgive us our tram sessions. The organ music cuts out abruptly and there is a deathly silence. Margot giggles. Father silences her with a look that could kill. (Confused) What? Organ music blares in again. The parishioners file out of church, clearing the church seats as they go. The Book of Everything 18

20 SCENE 4 The family walks into their house, Father striding in front. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR As they walked home, Thomas saw that his father was angry about something. Thomas attempts to break the tension with some light chatter I saw guppies today, Pappa. They were swimming in the canal. Father pointedly ignores him. JESUS ACTOR The house was as silent as the grave. ELIZA ACTOR Two sparrows on the windowsill blew on shrill trumpets. JESUS ACTOR They didn t know it was Sunday. They sit. Thomas, stand up. Stand up? Stand! Why? The Book of Everything 19

21 Because I say so. (With heavy sarcasm) That s why. Thomas stands. Would you repeat what you sang during the responses? Thomas looks at Mother, uncertain. Look at me and sing! (Sings tentatively) Lord God, have mercy on us miserable singers And forgive us our tram sessions. He s only nine. He didn t know he was getting the words wrong. Father stands, menacing, and removes his jacket. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR Everything that lived on earth held its breath. ELIZA ACTOR The sparrows on the windowsill choked on their trumpets. JESUS ACTOR The sun darkened and the sky shrank. What are you doing? The Book of Everything 20

22 Out of the way, woman. I m speaking to your son. Mother draws Thomas protectively towards her. Please Abel, he just made an honest mistake. I ll make sure he studies the words for next week. Abel She steps between Father and Thomas and moves to push him back. No! Please! Father slaps her savagely. Mother stifles a scream and falls to the ground. The watching actors cover their eyes. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR (To audience) The angels in heaven covered their eyes, because that is what they do when a man hits his wife. JESUS ACTOR A deep sadness descended on the earth. Pappa! Quiet! Thomas, go upstairs. And take the wooden spoon. Thomas takes the wooden spoon and runs to his room. The watching actors slap their hands together, creating a rhythm. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR The world was empty. Everything that ever was had been taken away. The Book of Everything 21

23 JESUS ACTOR There was only noise. ELIZA ACTOR The sound of that slap on his mother s soft cheek. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR Thomas heard all the slaps his mother had ever received, a rain of slaps ACTOR like the hail in the Jan van Eyckstraat when the leaves were blasted from the trees. Thomas presses his hands to his ears and speaks, fitting the words in between the slaps. God, please (slap) punish him (slap) with all the plagues (slap) of Egypt! Father enters the room. Thomas stands. Father holds out his hand. Thomas passes him the wooden spoon; he knows what is coming. He pulls down his trousers and bends over a chair. Father beats Thomas with the wooden spoon. Thomas winces. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR The pain cut like a knife through his skin. ELIZA ACTOR At first Thomas thought nothing, but then the words came flooding into his head. He-hit-Mamma! He-hit-Mamma! ACTOR Words and pain, the swish of the wooden spoon, more pain and more words The Book of Everything 22

24 Terrible words that he had never thought before. There is no God! There is no God! There is no God! The beating stops. Lord God repeat after me, Thomas! Lord God Have mercy on us miserable sinners. Have mercy on us miserable sinners. And forgive us our transgressions! And forgive us our transgressions. Lord have mercy on us miserable sinners and forgive us our transgressions. You will stay here and repeat that one hundred times correctly, and then come downstairs. He leaves the room. Dear God, will you please exist? All the plagues of Egypt please, on Pappa. He hit Mamma, and it wasn t the first time! (calls) God? The Book of Everything 23

25 AUNTIE PIE ACTOR God was silent in every language. JESUS ACTOR The angels tried to dry their eyes. ELIZA ACTOR But their handkerchiefs were so wet with tears that it began to rain, even in the desert. The Book of Everything 24

26 SCENE 5 The Book of Everything. On September 21 st, 1951, Mrs. van Amersfoort put a spell on the Bumbiter. Music, jaunty and loud. Children play with a skipping rope in the street. Mrs. van Amersfoort enters, carrying a heavy shopping bag. The children stop skipping to taunt CHILD Hey, Mrs. van Amersfoort, did you forget your broomstick? CHILD Where s your black cat, Mrs. van Amersfoort? CHILD What s in the bag, Mrs. van Amersfoort? CHILD Toad s guts for her witch s brew! CHILD Turn him into a frog, Mrs. van Amersfoort! Go on, I dare you! They thread the skipping rope through the shopping bag handles and jerk it away from her, causing groceries to spill out. CHILD Look out, she ll put a spell on you! The Bumbiter enters, snarling and running around, trying to catch children, who scatter, shrieking CHILDREN The Book of Everything 25

27 The Bumbiter! The Bumbiter! The Bumbiter corners Thomas. Thomas tries to run, but bumps into Mrs. van Amersfoort. The Bumbiter comes towards them, but Mrs. van Amersfoort stops him, raising her hands above her head, like an angry bear. Hey! Hey! The Bumbiter hesitates. Mrs. van Amersfoort mutters indistinct words at the growling Bumbiter. It sounds for all the world like a witch s incantation That s enough of that, you silly bugger, settle down, settle down. Don t you snarl at me, boy, I m up to your tricks. You won t get anywhere curling that lip; I ve seen your teeth before. That ll do, I said, that ll do! The Bumbiter backs off, whimpering. Yes, now go home! Home! You poor mad bugger, I know you can t help it. But go home, understand? Home! The Bumbiter snarls. Then he wanders off. Thomas is left with Mrs. van Amersfoort. He helps her to pick up the groceries. I ve had it up to here with that nonsense. Thank you. Can I carry your bag inside for you? ELIZA ACTOR He said it before he knew it. She stares at him, summing him up. The Book of Everything 26

28 AUNTIE PIE ACTOR Thomas heard a hissing in his ears. His heart pounded and he desperately hoped that Mrs. van Amersfoort would say no. Can I carry your bag inside for you? Thank you. That s very kind. Thomas has to make an enormous effort to lift the bag. It s not too heavy for you, is it? You re such a big boy. Magic moment music chord. Suddenly Thomas can lift the bag easily, and he follows her along the street. The Book of Everything 27

29 SCENE 6 Thomas follows Mrs. van Amersfoort and puts down the bag just inside the door. There you are. He wants to go, but Mrs. van Amersfoort directs him further into the house. Just put it over here. Thomas moves the bag, and again turns to go, but she presses on... Sit anywhere you can, Thomas. He sits, awkwardly. You know my name! We re neighbours, aren t we - those walls are thin. I m sorry about the mess. I m a bit of a jackdaw, you see. I can t stop myself collecting paraphernalia too much furniture, knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, superfluous to my needs (to audience) piles of newspapers and magazines and books; across the ceiling glided a huge bird with wings outstretched and a black cat was sleeping on a globe of the world. Now I knew for certain that it was true. This was the house of a witch. It looks like a witch s house, doesn t it? No. Not really. (To audience) I didn t yet know if it was the scary house of a scary witch. That remained to be seen. The Book of Everything 28

30 Mrs. van Amersfoort forces a glass of bright red liquid into Thomas s hand. Here you ve earned a drink. Blood! Thomas hesitates. She sees his distress and is amused. It s cordial! She pours a slug from the bottle into a glass for herself, turning it red. Oh. Thank you, Missus. They both drink. It s damned nice to have you here. Damned nice. I don t get enough visitors. My children left home long ago, and I don t have a husband since oh no, you re too young to remember the war. The Nazis, they executed my husband. Oh. What s executed? He was in the Resistance. Traitors gave him away poor buggers were afraid for their own skins of course- so the Nazis caught him. They put him up against that wall out there, and they shot him dead. Oh. I see. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR Thomas felt a terrible sadness in his throat and in his stomach. The same sadness he felt when, year in and year out, they nailed Jesus to the cross. The Book of Everything 29

31 ELIZA ACTOR He was always relieved when Jesus rose from his grave again, healthy and well. Mustn t dwell on it too much, only gets you down. Here, have you ever seen one of these? She opens an old gramophone. A gramophone! Listen to this She puts on a record. A stream of beautiful, achingly sad violin music is heard, and continues as...jesus appears, dressed as he is in the painting in Thomas s living room. JESUS Hello, Thomas. (Amazed) Hello Lord Jesus. JESUS It s a cruel world, isn t it, Thomas? People executed, for nothing. They executed you too, Lord Jesus. They do it every Easter. JESUS (Smiles) I won t let them nail me to that cross ever again. Damned if I will. I ve had it up to here with that nonsense. Still, mustn t dwell on it too much. Only gets you down. He disappears. The music continues The Book of Everything 30

32 Beautiful, isn t it? Yes. Beethoven. When I listen to this Me too. In an abstract movement sequence the actors stage the following action ELIZA ACTOR The globe of the world with the sleeping cat began to turn. Mrs. van Amersfoort s heavy chair hung in the air above the floor, like a low cloud. AUNTIE PIE ACTOR Thomas dreamed he was soaring over green fields, and a castle with a Rolls Royce in the driveway. A fairytale princess, in a sky blue dress, a white collar and a leather leg, waved at him with her little finger. Her father stood on the battlements playing the violin, and her mother sang sweetly. The music and movement sequence end, but the record continues to scratch. Mrs. van Amersfoort stares into the distance. Uncomfortable pause, then You ve sure got a lot of books, Mrs. van Amersfoort. What are they all about? She snaps out of her trance and turns off the gramophone. Heavens! Books are about everything! Do you like reading? Yes. The Book of Everything 31

33 Wait, maybe I ve got something for you. She searches her bookshelves. What would you be interested in? What do you want to be when you grow up? Happy. When I grow up I want to be happy. A beat, then That s a damned good idea. And where does happiness begin? Oh, um (He doesn t have an answer to this.) Happiness begins with not being afraid any more. She hands him a book. Emil and the Detectives. It s about a boy who doesn t want to be afraid, and who fights against injustice. You keep it. Thank you. You were very brave today. You came inside with me, when all the other children say I m a witch. They re right too. I am a witch. The muffled voices of his Father and Mother are heard off. We can t hear their exact words, but the impression is of an ugly domestic row. (off) What do you mean, the money s never enough? (off) The Book of Everything 32

34 I do my best you can t say I don t! (off) Any fool could do those books, you don t have to be Einstein! (off) You could have enough respect not to call me a fool. (off) The way you behave, what else can I call you? It is quiet again. Thomas gets up. It s after five thirty. I have to go home. Thank you, Mrs. van Amersfoort. He stops in the doorway. Thank you for everything. You re more than welcome, Thomas. You won t be afraid any more? Not of witches anyway. He leaves. Outside in the street Thomas comes face to face with Eliza. ELIZA Hello, Thomas. Hello. Eliza. He tries to leave. The Book of Everything 33

35 ELIZA What s wrong? Are you afraid? Afraid? ELIZA Afraid to talk to me? I I have to go. He runs off to escape into his house. She smiles and leaves. The Book of Everything 34

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