|War and History Script posted June 5, 2015||Chapters:||1 2 -3- 4...|
Son Isaac has seen a wolf, not a pet dog.
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
Anna Seeks a Pet
Act One, (Part three.)
Note: This is the script of a play, designed to be staged.
The Kinsman is an historical play of the American Revolution. It is set in the village of Stillwater, New Jersey, in the Inn and home of a prosperous German miller, Casper Schaeffer. He is due back from the state legislature. His young granddaughter has hidden a surprise for him in the storeroom.
The play is based on true events and real people with author liberties taken with how events played out.
Son Isaac rushes in as his mother does house work. He has just spotted a wolf near town.
Catherine: (Still seated) Isaac, your manners. You didn't bid Mr. Vas a good day.
Isaac: (Still fumbling with the musket) 'Day, Mr. Vas. How's your health?
Hans: Fine son.
Catherine: About this wolf . . . is he in the village?
Isaac: He may be soon . . .
Hans: If'n you need a little help tracking wolves, I could give you a hand. (Catherine glares at him.)
Course I have to get some wood for your Mum first. But I sure got me a few wolves in my time . . . especially up north, during the war. Why they was . . .
Catherine: I think we'll just let the wolf be for a while.
Catherine: (Rising, she takes the musket from his hand and replaces it.) If the wolf's west of town, he'll be so full of Dutch sheep from those farms near the mountain that he'll pass us right by.
Isaac: But, Mother! It's sort of my responsibility. With practically all the other men in the militia and father down with the government . . . he'd make the decision if he were here!
Hans: That's right, boy. Your father would sure be the one they'd all ask. He's an important man here about . . .
Catherine: But he isn't here, and the wolf can wait, at least until sunset. (She begins to stir her stew with a ladle.)
Isaac: Aw, Ma . . . (He tries to get a taste of the stew and gets a friendly swat.)
Hans: If you'd feel safer if'n I went with the boy after the wolf, Mum.
Catherine: (To Isaac) Isaac, take Hans across the orchard to your Aunt's. She's to give him some chores for a long coat and boots. My father's clothes must be about somewhere. Lord bless him, he's been dead thirty years last August, but they were good quality and no matter he was a larger size. Maybe some stuffing in the toes . . .
Hans: (Rising) Oh, much obliged, Mum, and I'll sure give them a good barter.
Catherine: And you're not to go away from here hungry, you hear? You come back for sup and a bed, even if it's just a mat in a corner.
Hans: (Moving to the door) Thank you, Mum. Thank you for everything.
(He suddenly remembers the pipe. He breaks off a piece of the stem, a larger piece than he had intended, and gently places it on the table.)
I. . . I . . .broke it off a little short, Mum . . .
(He backs out the door followed by Isaac. Catherine sighs deeply and returns to work.)
Hans: (Sticking his head back in) Your wood, Mum. I forgot your wood . . .
Catherine: (Almost shouting) Later, Hans, later!
(He leaves, quickly. Catherine has hardly had a chance to resume work when Elizabeth enters.
Elizabeth Schaeffer is thirty one, of English ancestry and pretty. Her dress is similar to that of Catherine but her manner is somewhat impetuous. Elizabeth tends to be impulsive, and is a little bored having to stay alone with her five children while her husband Peter is in the army militia.)
Catherine: (She rises.) Oh! Now I can go!
Elizabeth: No hurry Mother Schaeffer. You don't have to clean the church after all.
Catherine: Why not?
Elizabeth: I met Mrs. Spangenberg on the road. The Dutch are to use the church again this week.
Catherine: But it's not their turn!
Elizabeth: There's some travelling preacher down from New York. He'll only be here for a few days, so the committee agreed to switch weeks. So, you don't have to clean. (She picks up a broom and begins to sweep.)
Catherine: (Sitting back down at the spinning.) Well, at least they decided before we did all the cleaning work.
Elizabeth: (Laughing.) The Dutch will have to worship in a dirty church!
Catherine: I didn't mean that . . .
Elizabeth: I'm just joking, but Germans act as if they'll faint over one little mouse of dust.
Catherine: We like a clean house and God likes a clean house, too. Not like some of these Dutch and English . . . not you, mind you; you keep a good house, but some people; our barn is cleaner.
Elizabeth: (Crossing to the cradle, she adjusts Alexander's covers) But there's a big difference. You like to clean, I hate to. You're always sweeping or dusting, even when you don't have to. And you won't let anyone help. (She speaks to Alexander.) Sleep away, little boy, sleep away.
Catherine: It's good for a woman to be busy. (She too looks at Alexander.) Your son has been as still as a mill pond.
(She picks up the broom Elizabeth has discarded and begins to sweep.)
Elizabeth: (Wandering about the room.) But don't you ever get depressed?
Catherine: Depressed? Hah! Who has time to get depressed? If you are depressed, you work harder. (She thumps the Bible)
It says so right here. Pretty soon you don't have time to get depressed.
Elizabeth: Work! That's your answer to everything.
Catherine: And a good answer.
Elizabeth: Perhaps when the war is over and Peter gets home . . .
Catherine: The war! I near forgot! Hans had some war news!
Elizabeth: Please tell me it's good news!
Catherine: Yah, I think. Hans Vas was by. Lord, give me patience. He had been up Wallpack way. They're marching prisoners down the river road, to the south. But there doesn't seem to be any trouble.
Elizabeth: Thank Heavens! (She crosses to the Bible and places both hands on it, closes her eyes and opens it to a page at random. Then she looks at it and passes the tome to Catherine.) What does it say?
Catherine: (Reading the passage.)"Behold thy kinswoman is returned to her people and to her Gods, go thou with her."
Elizabeth: Oh, drat. It never seems appropriate, no matter how many times I do it. (She peers at it closely.) I wish I could read German. This is such a nicer Bible than ours.
Catherine: (Resuming her spinning.) Perhaps you should learn a little of our old language.
Elizabeth: (She picks up the broom, but does little with it) The five seasons I spent in school barely taught me English.
Catherine: Nonsense. You could learn, if you tried. Little Anna sings the songs I taught her as well as if she came from the Palatinate. Oh, my bread! (She jumps up and opens the Dutch oven.)
Elizabeth: May I help?
Catherine: No, you have the little ones. (She stirs the stew.) Besides, it's German.
Elizabeth: I don't want to learn the old language but I'd love to be able to do German cooking. Think how Peter would be surprised when the militia marches home. He wouldn't have to eat my blah old English food any more. (She plunks down in a chair.)
Catherine: You're a good cook. Besides, he never complained before!
Elizabeth: No. He could always trot down the lane to Mama's!
Catherine: He stayed home long enough to give you five babies!
Elizabeth: (Smiling) That's different! (Noticing the warm pipe, she picks it up.) Hey! Is Father Schaeffer home?
Catherine: No. But he should be back before sundown. (She takes the pipe from Elizabeth and places it on the mantle.)
Elizabeth: (Teasingly) Did you take a little smoke on his pipe?
Catherine: Such nonsense! I never, ever . . . (Then she sees that Elizabeth is teasing.)
Elizabeth: Then entertaining men friends? You'd better hide the evidence!
Catherine: Nonsense, I just gave Hans Vas a smoke.
Elizabeth: I saw Mr. Petit yesterday, too. You have a busy schedule!
Catherine: He just brought the tobacco. And the news that Casper will be home today. And, he's to bring me a surprise.
Elizabeth: From Casper?
Catherine: Ya. I had nearly forgotten. Mr. Petit saw him Monday and carried the message.
Elizabeth: You don't know what the surprise is?
Catherine: He didn't say?
Elizabeth: Perhaps it's some nice dress material, like the tinker used to carry, before the war. Wouldn't that be nice?
Catherine: Ya. Or perhaps a new side saddle for the mare. But knowing my Casper, it's probably a bigger pot to bake his strudel! But that's not the only surprise. Little Anna left another for Casper, in the store room. We're not supposed to peek.
Elizabeth: I hope it's not some animal!
Catherine: She wouldn't say.
(Anna enters, on the run, banging open the door.)
Catherine: Speak of little angels and they flutter down.
Anna: Grandma! Mother! I thought I saw Beggar!
Catherine: Your dog? He's been gone to heaven a year now.
Anna: No, it's not Beggar, it just looked like him. This dog is bigger and he's lighter in color, light grey.
Catherine: (Becoming concerned.) Where did you see this "dog?"
Anna: (She crosses the room at a skip.) Down by the river. Can I have him, if I can catch him? (She wanders over to the fireplace, looking at the pot.)
Catherine: (Whispering to Elizabeth.) Isaac said there's a wolf about the village. Perhaps you'd better fetch him and see to the other children. I don't know if there is a danger, but we must be careful of the young ones.
(To Anna) Where did you see this . . . dog, Anna?
Anna: (She senses something may be wrong.) Across the river, a little way below the mill. May I have him?
Elizabeth: You stay here with Grandma. I'll be back. (She exits.)
Anna: (To Catherine.) I can't go out, Grandma?
Catherine: Not yet, child. You stay here and keep me company.
Anna: May I bring in Bumpers and Lady Loop?
Catherine: (In mock horror) A horse in my house?
Anna: (Laughing.) I'll tell him to be a good boy!
Catherine: Only if he promises.
(Anna steps outside the door and returns at once, astride a "stick". horse with a straw head and belt reins. Under one arm she has "Lady Loop" a homemade doll with loops of cloth or leather for limbs.)
Anna: (Joyfully riding across the room.) Good boy, Bumpers, good boy!
Catherine: Don't mess up my sand!
Anna: Whoa! (She reins him to a stop, sets him aside and pats his head.) There, there. He'll be still now. He and Lady Loop just wanted to visit you, Grandma.
Catherine: Ladies always ride side saddle, Anna.
Anna: But Bumpers bumps me off if I do.
Catherine: You'll just have to practice. Remember, if you get a real pony of your own you'll certainly have to know how to ride the proper way.
Anna: Do you think I will get a pony, Grandma?
Catherine: Perhaps you'll get a surprise one of these years.
Anna: I love surprises! (She looks to the storeroom door.) You didn't peek at Grandpa's surprise, did you'?
Catherine: No, child. I had too many real guests today to talk to pretend ones.
Anna: Oh, this is different, Grandma. You just wait. But I promised not to show anyone until Grandpa gets here.
Catherine: Waiting I can do, child. Waiting I can do. (She moves to the window .) But I wish your grandfather were here now.
Anna: I hope Grandpa hurries.
Catherine: Ya. And he's not the only one with a surprise. He 's bringing one for me.
Anna: A surprise? What kind?
Catherine: I'll just have to wait, like a little girl.
Anna: It's fun, isn't it?
Catherine: Ya, Anna, ya. (Catherine continues to peer down the road, concerned about the wolf. The howl of a wolf is heard.)
Continued to Act One, part four.
Anna Schaeffer, Age eight and a half, Granddaughter of Catherine Schaeffer.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
Catherine Schaeffer, Age fifty-six, wife of Casper Schaeffer.
Hans Vas, An elderly Dutch villager.
Isaac Schaeffer, Age fifteen, Casper and Catherine's youngest son.
Elizabeth Schaeffer, Age thirty-one, Casper and Catherine's daughter-in- law and Anna's mother.
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