SUMMARY IN ENGLISH
The first scene is located in Mr Lamb’s garden. There is an occasional sound of bird song and of tree leaves rustling. Derry’s footsteps are heard as he walks slowly and hesitantly through the long grass. He comes around a screen of bushes. When Mr Lamb speaks to Derry he is close at hand. Naturally, Derry is startled.
Mr Lamb asks Derry to mind the apples. Derry enquires about the person. Mr Lamb gives his name and again asks him to mind the apples. He adds that those are crab apples. They have been blown down from the tree by the wind and are lying in the long grass. The boy could step on one of them and fall.
Derry tries to explain. He says that he thought that was an empty place. He did not know there was anybody there. Mr Lamb asks him not to be afraid. He explains that the house is empty since he is out in the garden. He observes that such a beautiful day is not worth spending indoors.
Derry panics and says that he has got to go. Mr Lamb assures him that he should not feel disturbed on his account—he doesn’t mind who comes into the garden. The gate is always open. It was only the boy who climbed the garden wall. Derry is angry that the old man had been watching him. Mr Lamb welcomes Derry.
Derry explains that he had not come to steal anything. Mr Lamb assures him that he hadn’t. He further adds that only the young lads steal. They steal apples from the garden. He is not that young. Derry explains that he just wanted to come into the garden. He wants to go and say goodbye.
Mr Lamb tells him that there is nothing to afraid of. It is just a garden and only one person, that is, he himself is there. Derry then says that people are afraid of him. He asks Mr Lamb to look at him and after seeing his face he might think that he is the most frightful and ugliest thing. Derry says that when he looks in the mirror and sees his face, he is afraid of it. Mr Lamb says that the whole of his face is not frightening.
There is a pause. Mr Lamb now changes the topic. He says when it is a bit cooler, he’ll get the ladder and a stick, and pull down those crab apples. They are ripe for making a jelly. September is the right time of year for it. The apples look orange and golden. He tells Derry that he could help him.
Derry asks him what he has changed the subject for. He says that the old man does not ask him because he is afraid to do so. Derry says that he doesn’t like being with people. Mr Lamb makes a guess. Perhaps the boy got burned in a fire. Derry says that he got acid all down that side of his face and it burned it all away. Derry asks Mr Lamb if he is not interested. The old man says he is interested in anybody and anything made by God—even grass, rubbish, weeds, flowers, fruit. He observes that it is all life— developing just as they are.
When Derry says that they are not the same, Mr Lamb says that there is no difference. He is old, Derry is young and has got a burned face. The old man has got a tin leg. His real one got blown off years back in the war. Some kids call him Lamey-Lamb but it doesn’t disturb him. There are plenty of things other than his leg to stare at. He refers to Beauty and the Beast. Derry says that no one will kiss him. He won’t change.
Derry says that people talk about persons who are in pain and brave and never cry or complain and don’t feel sorry for themselves. People try to console people suffering from physical impairment by asking them to think of all those people worse off than them. They might have been blinded, or born deaf, or have to live in a wheelchair, or be insane and dribble. But all this will not change his face. Even totally strange people call him terrible.
Derry repeats that he doesn’t like being near people: specially when they stare at him and when he sees them being afraid of him. Mr Lamb then tells him the story of a man who was afraid of everything in the world. So he locked himself in his room and stayed in his bed. A picture fell off the wall onto his head and killed him.
Derry says that the old man said peculiar things. Then he asks what he does all day. Mr Lamb replies that he sits in the sun. He reads books. His house is full of books. His house has no curtains as he does not like shutting things out. He likes the light and the darkness. He hears the wind from the open window. Derry too hears the sound of rain on the roof, when it is raining. Mr Lamb observes that if he hears things, he is not lost. Derry says that people talk about him downstairs when he is not there. They seem to be worried about him and his future. Mr Lamb gives him very inspiring advice. He will get on the way he wants like all the rest as he has all the God-given organs. He could even get on better than all the rest, if he was determined to do so.
Mr Lamb tells Derry that he has hundreds of friends. The gate is always open. People come in. Kids come for the apples, pears, and for toffee. He makes toffee with honey. Sometimes his friendship may be one-sided. Even if Derry never see him again, Mr Lamb would be still his friend.
He tells Derry that hating others is bad. It harms more than any bottle of acid. Everything is the same, but everything is different.
Derry’s attitude shows a gradual change. He wants to come there again. He thinks that the other friends of Mr Lamb might go away if he came. Mr Lamb assures him that people are not afraid of him because he is not afraid of them.
Derry wants to stay there but he has to inform his mother where he is. His house is three miles away. Mr Lamb asks him to run there and inform his mother. Derry asks the old man about the persons who come there. He thinks that nobody ever comes there. The old man is there all by himself and miserable. No one would know if he were alive or dead and nobody cared. Derry says that he’ll come back. Then Derry runs off.
In the second scene, we see Derry and his mother. He informs his mother about the lame old man. She tells him not to go there. Derry says that he wants to go there, sit and listen to things and look. Nobody else has ever said the things the old man has said. When his mother says that he is best off there, Derry says he hates it there. He no longer cares about his face. It is not important. It’s what he thinks, feels, sees, hears, and finds out that is important. He is going there to help the old man with crab apples and to look at things and listen. If he doesn’t go back there, he will never go anywhere in that world again.
The third or last scene is again located in Mr Lamb’s garden. Derry reaches Mr Lamb’s garden panting. He finds Mr Lamb lying on the grass with the ladder. Derry tells him that he has come back. Since Mr Lamb fails to respond, Derry kneels by him and begins to weep and the curtain falls. The play has a very pathetic end.
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