Story: 20 Minutes with Mrs.Oakentubb

Introduction to the Author:
Frank Arthur was born in Landon in 1902. He was an English civil servant, a famous novelist and a best playwright. He published ‘Who killed Netta Maul’ and ‘The Suva Harbour Mystery’. His plays include ‘Time’s A Thief’ and She would not dance’ and ‘Twenty Minutes with Mrs. Oakentubb’.
Background of the play:
‘Twenty Minutes with Mrs. Oakentubb’ is an effective little piece of melodrama notable for its skillful manipulation of suspense. This short play has suspense from very beginning to end. The plot of this beautiful play is based on a motor accident. Mrs. Oakentubb was fond of cocktail parties. Once she bet in a cocktail party to drive from Stainthorpe and cross to the coast in just fifteen minutes. In order to win this bet, she killed two innocent pedestrians on the pavement.
Mrs. Judy Oakentubb was going to her native town, Stainthorpe. She entered the waiting room of a small country railway junction to wait for the next train which was due to arrive after twenty minutes. The waiting room was empty and as the gas-light was turned low, almost dark. It was raining and wild winds were blowing outside. A porter followed her in and turned the gas full on and also lit a fire for her.  Just then a middle aged man entered the waiting room with a very large suitcase. As he entered the waiting room he

glance fell on the label of the lady’s suitcase. He was also going to Staithorpe. For a moment or so after the porter’s departure, the both are appeared to be strangers and took on notice of each other. Then they start a conversation to pass the time.

The gentleman told Mrs. Oakentubb that two incidents had the most profound effect on his life. Once, he was a soldier, he was badly wounded while fighting in Korea. He lying on the stretcher by the roadside to wait for an ambulance and he wanted to die anyway. He fainted and when he came in senses, he saw a young Korean girl bending over him. She smiled at him and went away, her smile gave him the strength and the courage to live and made him realise what her daughter would have been like, if she had lived. But she was killed a long with her mother in a road accident. Both of then were overrun a speeding car which was being driven by Mrs. Judy Oakentubb.
He further told her that Mrs. Judy Oakentubb had laid a bet in a cocktail party to drive from Staithorpe cross to the coast in just 15 minutes. She was driving at 50 miles an hour in a built up area. She tried to overtake a bus and after all as she trying to overtake the bus, she saw a lorry coming from the opposite direction. She saved her life and turned her car to a pavement and killed two pedestrians. Mrs. Oakentubb was frighten but she showed no sign of fear. She very boldly pleaded that it was merely an accident not a murder; and Mrs. Oakentubb was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. The gentleman was not satisfied with this punishment. According to him, it was deliberate murder. So he was going to Stainthorpe to avenge the murderer of his wife and daughter.
Mrs. Oakentubb was thinking about the gentleman, who is in the waiting room, she had killed his wife and daughter and now he was going to Stainthorpe to take avenge of his wife and daughter. She was thinking that the gentleman had not recognize her yet. But the gentleman was doubting her from the very beginning, and very soon his doubt was confirmed, due to her extraordinary moments during the conversation and now he decided to kill her.
He pulled a revolver from his pocket and pointed it at her. There was a rattling at the door. He pocketed the revolver. The porter came in to inform them that the train was late by five minutes. But after a few seconds he went out, leaving them alone once again. The gentleman again took the aim of her.
Mrs. Oakentubb came to know the intention of the man. She requested him to kill her or let her live in her miserable condition. The gentleman dropped the idea of killing her. As soon as he went out of the room, she sprang to her feet, turned to the door and put her fingers to her nose at him. While she was standing thus, he opened the door suddenly and came in. He raised the revolver and fired at her. She fell down dead. The gentleman pocketed the revolver again, picked up his suitcase and hurried out.

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