|War and History Script posted June 22, 2015||Chapters:||...7 8 -9- 10...|
Elizabeth is brought into the conspiracy
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
A Suspicious Mr. James
Act Two, Part Three
The Kinsman is an historical stage play of the American Revolution, set in 1779, in the village of Stillwater, New Jersey. We are in the Inn and home of a prosperous German miller, Casper Schaeffer.
This historical drama is based on true events and actual people living at the time. The author has taken liberties with how events played out.
Young Anna has befriended and hidden an escaped Hessian prisoner of war, thinking he would be accepted by her German Grandfather. Servant Pauline has been unwillingly sworn to confidence. James, a suspicious Inn guest, presents a complication.
(Pauline glances nervously toward the storeroom, but all is quiet. She cautiously moves to the table, almost of tip-toe, her eyes riveted on the storeroom door. Slowly she removes the dishes and begins to clean up. At length she drops a plate, spilling the remains of its contents and startling herself to a muffled scream by its noise. The broom is against the wall, next to the storeroom door, and as she is reaching for it, the door slowly opens, freezing her in position. Peter steps out quickly, closing the door behind him. He stares at her, a slight smile on his lips, for a few seconds before speaking.)
Peter: Hello, Pauline.
Pauline: (Not as strongly as earlier.) You should go.
Peter: Are you afraid of me?
Pauline: Because you’re the enemy! And if someone finds you here. . .
Peter: I’m not your enemy. This is not your country. You’re just a little English bound girl.
Pauline: Yes, it is my country! It was my choice to come here. Even if I’m nothing more than a little bound girl.
Peter: Why didn’t you expose me?
(She didn’t answer.)
Was it Anna’s “little present?”
Peter: You would have otherwise?
(He takes a step towards her. She retreats a step.)
Peter: (Smiling.) John cannot protect you?
Pauline: (She is still very nervous, but smiles in spite of herself.) No. I guess John can only protect me from make believe dangers.
(He moves back slightly and she begins to relax.)
Pauline: You listened to everything we said?
Peter: Ya. I listened most of the afternoon. They are very nice people.
Pauline: (In a burst of nervousness.) I’m so confused! I don’t know what I should do!
Peter: You can pass me some of that bread.
Pauline: It’s not even mine to pass.
(But she does so, and their eyes meet as she hands it to him.)
Peter: (Accepting it.) Nor do I have a right to ask.
Pauline: (Glancing toward the window.) That man . . . the guest, he’ll be coming back . . .
Peter: (Still eating.) I can see the lane through the window . . . I’m getting rather good at this sort of thing . . .
Pauline: (Still nervous.) When you’ve finished eating, will you go?
Peter: (With a sigh.) I suppose I have to do something. I can’t spend my life in a turnip cellar.
Pauline: You should leave, that’s what you should do.
Peter: And go where?
(He crosses to the window and looks out.)
Pauline: I don’t know. You should know; you’re a soldier.
Peter: I’m not a soldier. I’m a prisoner.
Pauline: Don’t you want to get back to your comrades? Don’t you want to get back to the cause . . . or something.
Peter: All I want is a dry bed and a full belly.
Pauline: I don’t understand you.
(He moves back from the window to where she is standing. He walks gingerly as his feet are cut.)
Peter: Neither do I, little bound girl, neither do I.
Pauline: (Noticing his feet.) Oh, you’re hurt.
Peter: (Sitting down, pleased at the attention.) It’s nothing. The miles are too long and the ground too hard.
(He winces slightly.)
Pauline: (She kneels and examines them.) They’re all cut and bleeding.
(She looks around and seeing two napkins on the bench, gets them and ties them about his feet. She is very gentle and apparently enjoys “mothering” him as much as he enjoys the attention.)
Peter: You don’t have to bother, really.
(He smiles, slightly.)
Pauline: That’s the first time I’ve seen you really smile. Why are you so sad? After all, you’ve escaped. Isn’t that what you wanted to do?
Peter: I don’t know. Perhaps it comes from eaves-dropping on a nice family . . . a nice German family, for a day. Perhaps it’s finding out some of what I’ve missed in my life. That old man is something, isn’t he?
Pauline: Mr. Schaeffer? He scares me.
Peter: He’s big and gruff, but all man and all German. He feels things, I can tell from listening to him. I just wish he felt differently about some other things.
Pauline: Why did you want to talk to him?
Peter: I don’t know. I guess because he was German and I thought he might help.
Pauline: Could he?
Peter: Ha! You didn’t hear his speech on German mercenaries, did you? That pumpkin was his punch line. And once a German makes up his mind, only heaven above can change it.
(She moves over by the fireplace and looks directly at him, still nervously.)
What am I doing here? What am I doing here? I’m talking to a Hessian soldier, an enemy, an escaped prisoner, who could kill me in a minute, in a house owned by people who own me! -- for the next three years! And the woman who owns me doesn’t even want me! And I’m three thousand miles from anyone I even know!
(She puts her hands to her head in utter frustration.)
Peter: (Smiles and shakes his head.) You English! I’ll never understand you.
(He glances out the window.)
Uh-oh, here comes the woman, Elizabeth.
(Pauline races to open the storeroom door for him and is on pins and needles from his slow return to the storeroom.)
Pauline: Hurry! Hurry!
Peter: Good night, little bound girl.
Back to my turnips.
(She has just closed the door and moved away when Elizabeth rushes in, a poker in her hand.)
Elizabeth: (Trembling and holding the poker high.) Are you all right? Did he hurt you?
(Pauline looks bewildered)
Is he . . . is he . . . in there?
(She points to the storeroom door.)
Pauline: (Hesitantly.) Yes.
Elizabeth: Come! Come! Come quickly before he hears us. Come! Come!
(Pauline begins to move toward her.)
Anna told me . . . everything; how she made you promise . . .
(The door opens and Peter steps out. Elizabeth screams, grabs Pauline and cowers in the corner, poker held high.)
Don’t . . . don’t come near!
Pauline: (To Elizabeth.) Don’t hurt him! I . . . I mean, he won’t hurt us . . . I don’t think.
(Elizabeth relaxes, only slightly.)
Peter: She’s right. I won’t harm you.
Elizabeth: (Still very frightened.) You must . . . go . . . go quickly. Go, or I’ll scream for the others!
Peter: Why didn’t you bring them with you?
Elizabeth: (She pauses, staring at him before she answers.) Anna . . . she’s so frightened her grandfather . . . Mr. Schaeffer will kill you. He hates Hessians and . . .
Peter: Yes. I heard him. I heard everything.
Elizabeth: (Almost pleading and frequently glancing at the window.) Then why are you still here? You must go! He’ll kill you . . . or someone will! That Mr. James or someone! It’s not fair . . . to us . . . to Anna . . . we did nothing . . .
Peter: She’s a fine child; a good girl.
(Elizabeth moves toward the door, as if to open it for him and he hobbles cross stage until he is next to the spinning wheel and chair.)
Elizabeth: (Still pleading.) Leave! For her sake, please, for her sake!
Peter: You’re right. I have no right to stay here and bring grief to a little girl . . .
(As he starts for the door James begins to open it from the outside. Elizabeth scrambles to block it, momentarily. Pauline, realizing Peter can’t hobble to the storeroom in time, pushes him to the floor where he stands and tosses the quilt over him. All this is done almost instantaneously as James succeeds in pushing into the room.)
James: (After he steps in, he stands there suspiciously looking over the room.) What’s going on here?
Elizabeth: (Somewhat unconvincingly.) Oh, I didn’t know who was at the door.
James: I’ll bet!
(He begins to move about the room, looking over everything, very suspiciously.)
I’m not used to being locked out of my inn when I've paid.
(He strolls to the exit, stage left, and peers out.)
Elizabeth: (Trying to change the subject.) Where is Isaac?
James: (Sees Pauline, as if for the first time, and smiles at her, as he is answering Elizabeth.) I left him with some of his little playmates up by the blacksmith shop. I see your friend with the pretty . . .
(He looks her body over, head to toe.)
. . . smile is back.
(Pauline turns away, nervously picking up the pumpkin.)
You don’t have any other company, do you?
Elizabeth: (Still very nervous.) Why? We have plenty of beds.
(She begins to cross to exit left.)
I suppose you’ll be wanting me to turn down your covers and show you your room . . .
James: (Rather sharply.) No. Not yet.
(He is still suspicious and looks about, even opening the storeroom door and peering in.)
Just stay put. Fix me another flip.
(He sits at the table, facing the bundle/Peter.)
Pauline: (Quickly.) Oh, sir, the other side, please . . .
James: (Confused.) What?
Pauline: The other side of the table . . . please . . .
(She pulls out a chair for him on the other side and moves back to brush off his sleeve.)
There’s pumpkin on this side and your beautiful clothes . . .
James: (Becoming concerned and brushing himself off as he changes seats.) Yes . . . thanks . . . that crazy old man, making such a mess . . .
(He now has his back to Peter.)
Elizabeth: (To James.) At least come up and let me show you the room. I’ll have to be going down to my house; my children are all alone . . .
James: (Smiling at Pauline, who turns away.) Your tavern wench can show me . . . when I’m good and ready. In fact, she can even tuck me in.
Elizabeth: But Pauline’s new here, she doesn’t know which room . . .
James: (He disregards Elizabeth and addresses Pauline, with a broad smile.) Hello, Pauline.
(Pauline can see that Elizabeth is totally frustrated and she bites her lip as she replies.)
Pauline: Hello, Mr. James.
James: Oh, the cat doesn’t have your tongue.
Pauline: (Again bites her lip as she moves behind his chair. Reaching across the table, she purposely rubs his shoulder.) It’s just that I’m not used to nice men like you paying any attention to me.
(She smiles, very seductively, at him.)
James: (Still smiling.) That’s hard to believe.
Why don’t you go check your children?
Elizabeth: (Unsure.) I told Mr. Schaeffer I’d wait . . .
Pauline: (Quickly.) I’ll go down and check on the children, if you’d like.
Elizabeth: You don’t have to Pauline . . .
Pauline: It’s dark out there, but . . . I think I can find my way alone.
(She looks at James and smiles. He hesitates, not wanting to leave but not wanting to miss any opportunity either. Pauline sees this, and moves toward the door.)
It is a nice evening, isn’t it Mr. James?
(Elizabeth finally senses what Pauline is trying to do.)
Elizabeth: It is rather dark for someone who is unfamiliar with the way.
James: (A leer on his face, he rises to follow her.) Perhaps I’ll check on my horse; see if he has some nice soft hay.
(He puts his arm about Pauline's waist, pushing her out the door.)
(Elizabeth quickly moves to where Peter is crouched beneath the quilt.)
Elizabeth: Hurry! They’re gone!
Peter: (Pulling the quilt from over his head, but not getting up.) What is she doing? Why did you let that man follow her?
Elizabeth: To give you time to get out of here, you fool!
(She tugs at him to help him up, but then notices his injured, bandaged feet.)
Oh! You’re hurt?
Peter: (As he starts to rise.) My legs are just cramped . . . I’ll make it.
Elizabeth: Perhaps you can get to the mill, or the barn . . . at least out of the house!
Peter: (As he reaches his feet, he glances out the window where Casper and Catherine can be seen, arm in arm.) It’s too late. The old man and his wife are on the lane.
(He hobbles back to the storeroom.)
Don’t mind about me. But please . . . go after Pauline. I know that man’s type.
(He closes the door and Elizabeth gives a muffled little cry of frustration and dashes to exit right, just as Catherine and Casper enter. She doesn’t even pause to speak, leaving them bewildered.)
Continued to Act Two, Part Four
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, Son of Casper and Catherine.
Elizabeth Schaeffer, Age thirty-one, daughter-in-law of Casper and Catherine Schaeffer. She is the mother of Anna.
Pauline, Age about twenty, an indentured servant girl.
Casper Schaeffer, Age sixty-six. He is a miller, farmer, legislator and patriarch of the family.
Mr. James, A traveler.
Peter Gruber, an escaped Hessian prisoner of war
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