The Russian Girl Text (She Arrived, Alone)

The first half of The Chemistry of Lime Trees (She Arrived, Alone) is based on an oral history I found from William Williams, the Commissioner of Ellis Island from 1902-1905 and 1909-1913. We used this story as a taking off point to imagine what it would be like to be stuck at Ellis Island - literally stuck on the border. I guess you could say the piece is a character study, or an impressionistic story-telling - I think Katie, who embodies the young woman in the story - does an amazing job. See the whole piece November 19, 2011 at CenterStage in Reston, VA.

Here is the complete text:
"A handsome, clear-eyed Russian girl of about twenty-years, the daughter of a farmer comes in and sits down before us. She is clean and intelligent looking. She nervously clasps and unclasps her hands and the tears are welling in her eyes. "That girl over there," says the commissioner, "is an interesting and puzzling case. Her father is a farmer in moderate circumstances. A young man with whom she grew up, the son of a neighbor, came here two years ago, and last year wrote to her father that of the girl would come over he would marry her. So she came, alone. But the prospective bridegroom didn't show up. I wrote him-he lives somewhere in New Jersey-and last week he appeared and looked her over. Finally he said he wasn't sure whether he wanted to marry her or not. Naturally her pride was somewhat wounded, and she decided that she had doubts herself. So everything is at a standstill. The girl says she doesn't want to go back, to be laughed at; and I can't let her land. You don't know any lady who wants a servant, do you? She could work! Look at her arms. A nice girl, too. No? Well, I don't know what to do. Are you willing to marry Peter if he comes again?" The girl nods, the tears brimming over. "Well, I'll write to that fellow again and tell him he's a fool. He'll never have such a chance again."

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