The Linguist (Scene 5)

For reference, see character thumbnails.

[lawyer’s office; NELL, REESE, and CYNTHIA are all seated before the lawyer’s desk]

LAWYER:     As I was saying, aside from the age stipulation, Mr. George Abbott’s will is rather straightforward. Now that Miss Nell has reached 35, I am able to reveal the amount that each of you will receive and release the funds to your respective accounts.

CYNTHIA:     Mr. Milton, I still don’t understand why my husband didn’t just transfer everything into my name. It would have been so much simpler. After all, I’m sure he knew I would outlive him by at least two decades. He was fifteen years my senior after all. And women do tend to live longer.

LAWYER:     I can’t say, Mrs. Abbott. Perhaps he wanted to insure your daughter’s affairs in the event that you remarried and preceeded your new husband…?

CYNTHIA:     [slightly leering]     Well, it is quite likely. I am not the lonesome type. And I think I might set my sights a little younger this time. Ha! He knew me well, my George, god bless him.

REESE:     [shaking her head]     Mother, please.      [to the lawyer]     But why didn’t he make me the executor? I went to Yale. And it would have made things much more expedient.

LAWYER:     Again, I am not at liberty to say.

NELL:     “Liberty,” or “the power or scope to act as one pleases,” which does not quite have the same connotation as—

REESE:     Nell, not now, okay?

CYNTHIA:     And there she goes again. Your father always did encourage your bad habits.

NELL:     A habit cannot be inherently bad, as the morality is arbitrarily assigned by society and therefore is philosophically nullified when considered out of context.

REESE:     The defense rests.

CYNTHIA:     You know I hate it when the two of you team up on me! I can’t understand how—

REESE:     Give it a rest, mom.


LAWYER:     In any case, if you would both please provide your IDs for my records, we can begin the disbursement process.

REESE:     Yes, of course.

[REESE and NELL both rummage in their purses for their wallets]

CYNTHIA:     [petulantly]     You know, I hope Rodger doesn’t mind your ex-boyfriend lurking around the house this weekend.

[NELL, stunned, stops midway between handing her ID to the lawyer and draws her hand back slowly]

REESE:     What? Who do you mean?

CYNTHIA:     Will—

NELL:     Will? Will Farris?

CYNTHIA:      Yes, that’s right. The one who went to Princeton, I believe. One of your precious Ivy League schools, right?

NELL:     Harvard.

CYNTHIA:     What?

NELL:     He went to Harvard.

CYNTHIA:     Oh. Yes. Well, they’re all the same to us regular folk.

REESE:     What’s he doing here though?

CYNTHIA:      He keeps me company sometimes. And does a little gardening on the side, sweetheart that he is.

REESE:      Why on earth would he do that? Last I heard, he was working in D.C.

CYNTHIA:     Well, I thought it rude to ask. And I certainly didn’t want to spoil a good thing.

NELL:     [indignant, but quiet]     I went to Princeton.

CYNTHIA:     Oh, do speak up Nell!

NELL:     [more forcefully]      I was the one who went to Princeton University. I graduated summa cum laude, by the way. And I don’t remember you being there. You know who was? Dad.

CYNTHIA:     You know very well that I couldn’t fly after my surgery—

REESE:      Procedure.

CYNTHIA:     I was in a delicate state then. I—

NELL:     Then I went on to Georgetown and got a doctorate in applied sociolinguistics, for your information. So I believe you should call me Doctor Abbott.

[gets up to leave]

REESE:     Nell, don’t!

[NELL exits, slamming the door; lights go down]

—End Scene—

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