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Why radio works: “The Cold Embrace” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1860) April 7, 2007

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Out Basket, >> Radio Drama.

The Cold Embrace (1) was written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon in 1860. Braddon’s story is about a women who is secretly engaged to her cousin while stalling the marriage plans previously arranged by her father.

The initial part of the story is reprinted below:

     So they are betrothed; and standing side by side when the dying sun and the pale rising moon divide the heavens, he puts the betrothal ring upon her finger, the white and taper finger whose slender shape he knows so well. This ring is a peculiar one, a massive golden serpent, its tail in its mouth, the symbol of eternity; it had been his mother’s, and he would know it amongst a thousand. If he were to become blind tomorrow, he could select it from amongst a thousand by the touch alone.

     He places it on her finger, and they swear to be true to each other for ever and ever–through trouble and danger–sorrow and change–in wealth or poverty. Her father must needs be won to consent to their union by and by, for they were now betrothed, and death alone could part them.

     But the young student, the scoffer at revelation, yet the enthusiastic adorer of the mystical, asks:

     “Can death part us? I would return to you from the grave, Gertrude. My soul would come back to be near my love. And you–you, if you died before me–the cold earth would not hold you from me; if you loved me, you would return, and again these fair arms would be clasped round my neck as they are now.”

     But she told him, with a holier light in her deep-blue eyes than had ever shone in his–she told him that the dead who die at peace with God are happy in heaven, and cannot return to the troubled earth; and that it is only the suicide–the lost wretch on whom sorrowful angels shut the door of Paradise–whose unholy spirit haunts the footsteps of the living.

The story takes some horrifically lovely twists and deadly turns before arriving at its ending.

We are pleased to announce that The Cold Embrace is currently under development for adaptation by Lit Between the Ears.

1) The Cold Embrace may be found in full as an e-text on various websites.

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