|War and History Script posted June 11, 2015||Chapters:||2 3 -4- 5...|
Catherine tells Anna tales of bygone days.
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
Tales of Old
Act One, Part Four
The Kinsman is an historical play of the American Revolution. The year is 1779. The setting is 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 historically true events and actual people. The author has taken liberties with how events played out.
Young Anna is being watched by her grandmother Catherine.
Anna: Grandpa is gone a lot, isn’t he?
Anna: I’ll bet you miss him a lot.
Catherine: Ya, Anna, Ya I do. It’s been a lot of years, but I still miss him when he’s not here. Thirty-six years is a long time.
Anna: You’ve been here that long? (She sits in the rocker with her doll Lady Loop while Catherine stirs the pot.)
Catherine: Ya, thirty-six years. And even before God gave us your father, Casper was away; walking over the mountains with a load of grain on his back, over to the mill. So stubborn he was! – and is! He wouldn’t accept anything then except his own mill, he built it.
Anna: Did he build the house, too?
Catherine: Later. Much later. When my sister and I first came out here, your grandfather and old uncle Wintermute built us a little cabin to all live in, until they could build something better. (She chuckles.) There was a tree stump in the middle of it, and that was our table!
Anna: ( talking to her doll.) Wouldn’t that be fun, Lady Loop?
Catherine: And then he built the mill, with his own two hands.
Anna: Grandpa lifted all those giant stones?
Catherine: Not the mill we have today, child. The first one, upstream a little just some rocks for a dam and fall, and a wheel and stones . . .
Anna: That sounds like hard work, Grandma.
Catherine: It was, Anna. It was. But it is good life here, too. Not dirty Philadelphia, with its mud and noise and wagons and so many people.
(Pause.) But not like the old country, either.
Anna: You mean Germany, Grandma? Was it pretty there?
Catherine: (Pausing as she thinks back.) Ya. Ya, it was pretty there. We had many fine things, my sisters and I. But we didn’t have one thing, freedom; and that was what we wanted most of all. (She begins to chuckle.)
Anna: What’s funny, Grandma?
Catherine: I was remembering, that’s all. We brought fine things from Germany, my sister and me. When we sailed on the boat, the St. Mark it was, we carried two big trunks with silk dresses and jewelry. And when Casper and your uncle told us our new home was on a river, we remembered the great river Rhine, from our homeland. And when I sat down my trunk in my lovely green silk dress in my grandmother’s jewels, in this wild place, oh, did the boys laugh!
Anna: (Laughing with her.) But I’ll bet you were, oh so beautiful, Grandma!
Catherine: With only the animals to see me! And that dress hasn’t been out of my trunk since.
Anna: Try it on! Try it on!
Catherine: Lord bless us, child, it’d take two dresses to get around me today!
Anna: May I wear it?
Catherine: Perhaps someday, if the moths haven't eaten it. I don’t even know why I keep it, except to remind me of how far we’ve come with God’s help.
(Isaac enters and takes down the musket and horn.)
Catherine: (To Isaac.) You spoke with Elizabeth?
Isaac: Yes, Mam, but . . .
Catherine: (Cautioning him to silence, with a finger to her lips.) Be careful.
Anna: What are you going to do, Uncle Isaac?
Isaac: (As he exits.) Practice shooting the redcoats.
Catherine: (To his back.) All he ever wants to do is shoot! Shoot the redcoats. Doesn’t he realize that they shoot back?
Anna: (A sigh of disgust.) That’s what all boys want to do. Or play with their knives or kill animals or go fishing. I’m sure glad I’m not a boy. They don’t have any real fun. Not like us girls. Right, Grandma?
Catherine: (Chuckling.) Right, Anna, right.
Anna: Tell me more about Grandpa. How did he get so rich?
Catherine: Rich? Who says my Casper is so rich?
Anna: He’s the richest man in the village, isn’t he?
Catherine: Well, I guess maybe he is at that. I never thought about it. But he worked very hard for every penny, child.
(She moves to the window.)
Do you see the orchard out there?
Anna: (Rising to join her.) Yes, Grandma.
Catherine: Casper – your grandfather – he carried the seeds for those apple trees all the way from Germany, in a little sack. And he was a smart business man, too. When the high water came in the spring, he floated his crop all the way down the Tehonetcong and the Delaware river to Philadelphia. (She motions to the table.)
He bought that Bible, on his first trip. Two pounds, twelve shillings it cost him!
Anna: What’s the Tehonetcong, Grandma?
Catherine: Our river. The Paulinskill, before they called it by the Indian name. (Anna returns to the rocker; kneeling in front, she rocks Lady Loop.)
It is a good river. It has been very good to us.
Anna: The river turns our mill, doesn’t it?
Catherine: Ya, Anna, and we drink from it and in the spring, the shad come up . . .
Anna: Yum. I love it when you bake shad.
Catherine: Even the people in Philadelphia don’t eat as well as we do.
Anna: Tell me about how it was at first, Grandma.
Catherine: (Again peers out the window.) What’s to tell?
Anna: Were there Indians?
Catherine: Oh, sure.
Anna: (Excited.) Really?
Catherine: Oh, ya. We had Indians. Some people were even killed by them.
Anna: Were they here? Here in Stillwater?
Catherine: Ya, sometimes. We even had to put a fence, like a fort, around the house. The Indians fought with the French, 25 years ago.
Catherine: Ya. (She chuckles, remembering.)
One day, I was at my sister’s across the orchard and Casper was here, alone. The Indians came, all a-yelling and he ran to get your uncle and the others. One Indian, he chased your grandfather around the house and across the meadow. But pretty soon Casper got tired and mad both at the same time. So, around he turns and chased the Indian himself!
Anna: (Delighted.) And did he catch him?
Catherine: Caught him and tied him up with his garters, and then came yelling after us, holding up his stockings!
Anna: (As they both laugh.) I’ll bet that Indian wished he hadn’t picked on my grandpa!
Catherine: That he did, child. That he did.
Anna: Now I know why everyone is afraid of him.
Catherine: (Quite taken aback.) Who’s afraid of my Casper?
Anna: Nearly everyone. At least all the men at the mill. (she giggles.) . . .but I’m not!
Catherine: Nor am I, little one. And, I think the others, they just seem to you to be afraid of him. I think it’s that they respect him.
Anna: Oh. But when he yells, they sure look afraid to me!
Catherine: (Chuckling.) Sometimes his temper takes charge and sometimes he is stubborn, but these things, they are hard to understand for a little girl.
Anna: Yes, Grandma. Like why he still has to keep going away if he’s so rich?
Catherine: (Smiling proudly.) Your grandfather, he helps make the laws. And that is very important. The people, they chose him to do that for them, and not just the Germans, all people around here. That’s why he goes away, to help people.
Anna: Is that the Pro-vin-shal Congress? I heard him say that onetime. Is that where they make the laws?
Catherine: Ya. That’s what they used to call it, but now it is the State Legislature. We are a state now, Anna, not just a colony. We are the United States!
Anna: What does that mean, Grandma?
Catherine: (Again moving to the window.) Child, I not really sure myself.
(She sees Elizabeth.)
Here comes your mother!
Anna: (Jumping up.) Oh, good! Does she have the dog with her?
Catherine: (Placing her arm around about Anna's shoulder.) No, child, I don’t think he’d make a good pet for you.
Anna: (Very disappointed.) Why not, Grandma? He looks like my old dog Begger, only bigger.
(Elizabeth enters and Catherine questions her with her eyes. Elizabeth shakes her head “No.”)
Elizabeth: Father Schaeffer is coming! Some of the boys saw him down the lane. (They all move to the window.)
Anna: Now you’ll see your surprise!
Catherine: Can you see him? My eyes, they are not like they used to be . . .
Elizabeth: Yes, he’s almost to the bridge at the mill. (Anna rushes to the door and opens it.)
Anna: (Waving her doll’s arm.) Wave to our Grandpa, Lady Loop.
Elizabeth: He has the pack horses . . . and a girl. . . I think. Yes, it’s a girl.
Catherine: Company? He’s brought home company?
Elizabeth: (A little slowly.) Noo . . . I don’t think she’s that kind of girl. Somehow she doesn’t look like company.
Continued to Act One, Part Five.
Anna Schaeffer, Age eight and a half, Granddaughter of Casper and Catherine Schaeffer.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
Catherine Schaeffer, Age fifty-six, wife of Casper Schaeffer.
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.
Casper Schaeffer, Miller, Farmer, Legislator and Patriarch of the family.
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