Elnora and Billy

from A Girl of the Limberlost by Marie Kohler

Genre: Drama
Cast Breakdown: 1 female, 1 male

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Elnora is on her way to school. She looks at flowers, perhaps picks one or two, observes a butterfly... This may take as long or little as desired. Then she hears something offstage. Soon after, Billy, in ragged clothes, runs in toward her.

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BILLY: Help—help! Don't let the dog get me!

(Elnora catches him.)

ELNORA: You're all right.

(She holds him. He catches his breath.)

What happened?

BILLY: That farmer set him on me!

(Elnora looks around.)

ELNORA: What farmer?

BILLY: Over there—

ELNORA: How terrible!

BILLY: And all I did was take a few apples. You wouldn't set the dogs on me for that, would ya? And those old apples was just for pigs—you'd give a boy apples if he wanted, wouldn't ya?

ELNORA: I think so—slow down, though—

BILLY: 'Specially if he was so hungry he was all twisty inside?

(He sees her lunchbox on ground.)

If you had somethin' to eat now, you'd give me somethin', wouldn't ya?

ELNORA: My lunch is in there. I'll share it with you.

(Billy brings lunchbox to her. Elnora sits and starts opening box.)

Did you have any breakfast?


(Elnora searches in lunch.)

Look at all that food!

ELNORA: Any dinner last night?

BILLY: Just an apple and some grapes I found.

ELNORA: That's all? Here—

(Elnora hands Billy some food. He eats it greedily. She watches.)

Whose boy are you?

BILLY: Tom Billings'—but he's took off. He was drinking again, night before last.

ELNORA: "Took off"? Where'd he go?

BILLY: Don't know where he went to. And I don't care.

(Elnora pours half the milk from flask into cup.)

ELNORA: Here. Drink this.

BILLY: Dang—

(Billy drinks.)

Dagnabbit, that was good!

(Elnora laughs.)

Can I have more?

(Elnora empties the flask.)

ELNORA: Finish it.

BILLY: Cripers, thank you!

ELNORA: Do you always talk this way?

BILLY: Sure. Pa says worser every doggone breath he draws.

(Billy drinks.)

ELNORA: Really.

(They sit side by side for a bit.)

BILLY: You wouldn't leave your son, would you?

ELNORA: Course not. What's your name?

(Billy picks up box and looks for more food.)

BILLY: Billy.

(Elnora takes back lunchbox and gives him a sandwich from it. He devours it.)

ELNORA: If I don't go soon, I'll be late for school...

BILLY: 'Least I don't have to do that darned thing.

ELNORA: School? I don't know how I'd live without it.

BILLY: Crikey!

ELNORA: What do you do all day?

BILLY: I'm just around. Lookin'.

ELNORA: "Lookin'"? What does that mean?

BILLY: I just play. Poke around. There's stumps, trees—I like climbin'. Explorin'. Never know just what I'll find...

(Elnora gathers her things.)

ELNORA: Well, I guess I have to go now...

(Elnora straightens her clothes.)

BILLY: Okay. Bye.

ELNORA: You can find me here most mornings, if you need to.

BILLY: I ain't never had nothin' as darn good as this lunch.

ELNORA: Here, then.

(Elnora takes out the rest of her food.)

Take all of it—

BILLY: For real?!

ELNORA: Yup. Bye—

(As Elnora exits, she looks back, waves.)

(Billy eats.)

BILLY: (Contented:) Dagnabbit. (Pause.) That was goo-ood.

(He lies down to take a nap.)

(Ensemble and lights evoke passing of one or two Limberlost hours.)