Rollover Information
About the Series Schedule The Archive Learning Resources The American Collection Home Search Shop
Masterpiece Theatre Home The Ponder Heart The Ponder Heart
Novel to Film [imagemap with 10 links]

Novel to Film | The Plea

The novel | The script | The film


The Plea
From The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty
excerpted from chapter 3

... So we compromised on a three-day ad in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. (Judge Tip wanted to let well enough alone.) Because it developed that Mr. Springer -- my friend -- had come through yesterday, and sailed right on to Silver City for the night; but had idled his engine long enough at the drugstore corner to call to DeYancey Clanahan, who was getting a haircut from Mr. Wesley Bodkin next door, to tell him he saw Bonnie Dee Peacock the day before in Memphis, when he was passing through. Saw her in Woolworth's. She was trying to buy something. And had her sister with her. Mr. Springer told DeYancey and Mr. Bodkin that he raised his hat and tendered a remark to her, and she put out her tongue at him. That was enough for Mr. Springer.

Looks like he would have come straight to me with that, but he said he didn't know where I was. Everybody else knew where I was. Everybody knows where everybody is, if they really want to find them. But I suppose if the door to the Beulah is ever pulled to, and Ada's not out cutting the grass, Mr. Springer will always assume that I'm dead.

Well, I mailed in the ad without saying a word to the post office, and sat back with folded hands. Judge Tip and I didn't breathe a word of what we'd done. Uncle Daniel hopes too much as it is. And he'd rather get a surprise than fly. Besides, it would have hurt his feelings more than anything else I know of to discover the entire world could pick up the morning paper and read at a glance what had happened to him, without him being the one to tell it.

Lo and behold, they printed it. I put it in the form of a poem while I was about it. It's called "Come Back to Clay."

Bonnie Dee Ponder, come back to Clay.
Many are tired of you being away.
O listen to me, Bonnie Dee Ponder,
Come back to Clay, or husband will wonder.
Please to no more wander.
As of even date, all is forgiven.
Also, retroactive allowance will be given.
House from top to bottom now spick and span,
Come back to Clay the minute you can.
Signed, Edna Earle Ponder.
P.S. Do not try to write a letter,
Just come, the sooner the better.


Judge Tip horned in on two lines, and I don't think he helped it any. But it was better then than it may sound now. I cut it out and put it in a drawer to show my grandchildren.

I don't believe for a minute that she saw it. Somebody with bright eyes, who did, went and told her. And here she came. Nine forty-five the next morning, in she walked at the front door. She looked just exactly the same -- seventeen.


back to top

The Plea
From the screenplay by Gail Gilchriest

Medium shot. Mr. Springer runs down steps. Walks right to Edna. Pan as he walks. She arranges flowers right. He looks out window.

Mr. Springer: How long is Uncle Daniel going to just sit there?

Edna: Until she comes back. If she comes back.

Medium shot. Side angle through window. Daniel looks right. Arms crossed. Tilt left to reveal Edna. Fixes flowers in vase.

Mr. Springer [off screen]: I didn't want to say it in front of Uncle Daniel, but on my way here I came through Memphis and I...

Medium shot. Mr. Springer. Arms crossed.

Mr. Springer [continues]: ...saw Bonnie Dee there.

Close up. Edna looks to foreground.

Edna: Bonnie Dee?

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Mr. Springer. Nods head.

Edna [off screen, continues]: Are you sure?

Mr. Springer: I tried to say hello to her, but she just stuck her tongue out at me.

Medium shot. Side angle. Mr. Springer looks right at Edna. Edna looks up left. Crosses arms.

Edna: What was she up to?

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Mr. Springer.

Mr. Springer: She was with some other gals. And soldier boys.

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Edna.

Mr. Springer [off screen, continues]: They were coming out of a picture show.

Wipe to: Exterior Road. Day. Long shot. Bus moves left on road towards foreground.

Exterior Porch. Day. Medium shot. Daniel holds flower in mouth.

Exterior Road. Day. Long shot. Bus moves left down hill. Passes left. Two men walk in background.

Exterior Porch. Day. Medium shot. Daniel holds flower in mouth. Looks down. Looks at flower.

Wipe to: Interior. Dining room. Day. Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Edna. Picks up note pad. Looks up to Narcissa on left.


Edna: Alright, let me read to ya what I've got so far. It's called "Come back to Clay." "Bonnie Dee Ponder, come back to Clay. Many are tired of you being away. Listen to me, Bonnie Dee Ponder: Come back to Clay, or husband...

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Narcissa. Looks right.

Edna [continues]: will wonder. Please to no more wander.

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Edna.

Edna [continues]: As of even date, all is forgiven. Also, retroactive allowance will be given."

Medium shot. Narcissa sits left. Polishes silver. Edna sits right.

Narcissa: Tell her we've cleaned up the old place.

Edna: "House from top to bottom now spic and span."

Narcissa: "Come back to clay...

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Narcissa. Swings silver up and down. Narcissa points and writes.

Narcissa [continues]: the minute you can."

Edna: I like that.

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Edna looks down and writes.

Edna [continues]: "Signed, Edna Earle Ponder. P.S. Don't try to write a letter, just come on home, the sooner the better."

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Narcissa.

Narcissa: Oh. Now, that's pretty. But how are you gonna get it to her? You haven't got any address!

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Edna.

Edna: I'm gonna take out an ad in the Memphis Appeal.

Narcissa: Oh.

Edna: Let's just hope she can read.

Exterior Porch. Day. Medium shot. Daniel leans back in chair. Rests feet on railing. Holds hands together.

Exterior Road. Day. Long shot. Bus drives to foreground down hill. Stops.

Exterior Porch. Day. Close up Daniel's feet on rail. Opens feet. Peers to foreground.

Exterior Road. Day. Long shot. Bus drives off left. Horse crosses in foreground.

Medium shot. Bonnie Dee holds suitcase.

Exterior Porch. Day. Close up. Daniel smiles through feet. Takes off hat.

Medium shot. Daniel waves hat. Stands up runs down steps.

Exterior Road. Day. Medium long shot. Side angle Bonnie Dee walks across road to right. Pan as she walks.


Bonnie Dee: l'm back.

Daniel: You sure are. And I knew you would be.

Close up over the shoulder on Daniel.

Daniel [continues]: You're as back as back can be.

Close up over the shoulder on Bonnie Dee.

Bonnie Dee: Did you speak to Edna Earle about my allowance?

Close up over the shoulder on Daniel.

Daniel: Hey, let's go for a ride in the Buick? Come on, let's get Narcissa to take us on home.

Close up over the shoulder on Bonnie Dee.

Daniel [off screen, continues]: Come on.

Medium shot. Daniel pulls Bonnie Dee by her hand right. She holds hat and follows.


back to top

The Plea
From the film, directed by Martha Coolidge

Play QuickTime   Play RealVideo

 • Go to apple.com to download
   the free QuickTime player.

 • Go to real.com to download
   the free RealPlayer plugin.



A Eudora Welty Timeline | One Writer's Place | Voices of Mississippi
Martha Coolidge, Director | Novel to Film | Who's Who
Story Synopsis | Teacher's Guide | The Forum | Links + Bibliography

Home | About The Series | The American Collection | The Archive
Schedule & Season | Feature Library | eNewsletter | Book Club
Learning Resources | Forum | Search | Shop | Feedback

WGBH Logo PBS logo CPB Logo
ALT Films Logo

©


Masterpiece is sponsored by: