|War and History Script posted June 26, 2015||Chapters:||...9 10 -11- 12|
While Peter talks, Casper remains unconvinced
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
Peter Tells his Story
Act Two, Part Six (Chapter 11)
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. Young Anna has befriended and hidden an escaped Hessian soldier, thinking her German grandfather would consider him a kinsman. Others are aware of this and are trying to send him away before he is captured.
This historical drama is based on true events and actual people. The author has taken liberties with how events played out.
Casper and Catherine have discovered Peter and he is explaining to them, how he was inducted into the war.
Peter: (He sits back down.) We were so poor and ragged that when we docked in England, the British had to buy us uniforms so we wouldn’t freeze to death before we got to their war.
Casper: Go on.
Peter: Interesting, isn’t it, old man? What else do you want to know?
Casper: (Coldly.) How many Americans did you kill?
Peter: (Glaring at him.) I don’t know what made me think I could talk to you. I thought a kinsman . . .
Casper: Don’t ever call yourself a kinsman of mine, enemy. I am an American.
Peter: (He pauses, as they both stare at each other, before he begins) They sent us to Canada, to help Burgoyne. It was in March, a year ago. They were so cocky, the English, Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, they called him.
We took Ticonderoga, without firing a shot. The foolish English thought they were invincible. “Albany,” Burgoyne said, “Albany. Cut the Colonies in two, and the war will end.” He wouldn’t listen to anyone until our supply lines were so far behind us we couldn’t go back. And he drank wine with his mistress while we went on half rations. “General Howe will be up from the south with help!” he said.
And then we reached Saratoga.
Casper: Ya, Saratoga.
Peter: (He bends down and begins drawing in the sand. Casper too bends down letting the musket barrel drop to the floor.)
The river, the Hudson, it was here.
(He draws a straight line.)
And the Americans were in front of us here . . .
(He marks the spot.)
Here, on Bemis Heights, and to our right.
(Casper suddenly realizes he is giving the sand drawing too much attention and snaps up.)
We were down from eight thousand troops to less than five thousand, eating only salt pork and flour. You were eleven thousand and growing every day, and well fed. You had ammunition, too.
We moved back, after the battle and then the rains came. The rains and the mud. They trenched the roads so the cannon couldn’t move and the supplies couldn’t move. They shelled us while we were so weak we could hardly pull our feet from the mud. That was the night Heinrich was hit, his leg, it was almost gone. He bled to death, in my arms, in the rain.
And then it was all over. We were prisoners.
Casper: (A little less harshly.) Saratoga was a year ago. Where have you been?
Peter: They signed the surrender, The Convention they called it. We were to go home, honorably. We were to march to Massachusetts and be sent back to England, on General Howe’s orders. We were never to fight on North America again.
They marched us to Massachusetts, but then the talkers began to talk. The law makers, like you, they didn’t like it. They had to find a way, anyway, not to let us go. It took you a year to break your word, but you did it.
Casper: (Unconvincingly.) Burgoyne broke the convention, not the Americans . . .
Peter: Bah! That’s a lie and an excuse and you know it!
Catherine: And you’ve been a prisoner all that time?
Peter: Yes. A year last October. I’ve been in Massachusetts with the British wounded, watching them die. I learned their language and about this country. And then we began this march, to Virginia. The Convention army they call us.
Casper: (Still not relaxing the gun.) How did you escape?
Peter: The guards heard General Clinton would try to free us when we passed near New York. They doubled the escort, but nothing happened. After we passed into New Jersey they relaxed. Nearly four hundred of us escaped.
Catherine: Four hundred!
Casper: Why didn’t you escape earlier?
Peter: (In almost a whisper.) I am German. I had given my word.
Go to the window, see if you can see Isaac, but be careful.
(She peers out.)
If the fools had listened to me and made Stillwater the County seat, I could have you in jail now, and not have to worry about what friends you have.
Catherine: (Turning back.) I don’t see Isaac.
(Anna peeks in the window from outside, wide-eyed. She is wearing a night cap and a long night gown and shawl. She turns the corner and bursts in the door.)
Anna: (Rushing up to Casper, she grabs the barrel of the musket.)
Grandpa! Grandpa! Don’t shoot him! He’s not like the wolf Grandpa!
(At his sharp command she releases the weapon, but is still sobbing.)
Anna: Don’t kill Peter, Grandpa, even if he is our enemy.
Casper: Anna, you don’t belong here. This is not child’s business. You shouldn’t have come.
Anna: (Crossing to the chair where Peter sat, she picks up her doll that has dropped behind it.) I . . . I forgot Lady Loop.
Don’t kill him, Grandpa.
Casper: (Putting his arm about her shoulders as she returns.) You brought him here, Anna?
Anna: (Nods.) He was my surprise, Grandpa. He knew Grandma’s sweet German song; he sang it back to me in the woods, near our secret place.
Casper: Did he hurt you . . . did he . . . ?
Anna: Oh, no. Peter is our friend. He just wanted someone to talk to. . . a . . .
(Her eyes light up.)
. . . a kinsman!
Casper: (A little more firmly.) All right Anna, you go now. You'll have to trust me..
No one will be killed.
Peter: (Gently.) Yes, Anna, you go now. Do as your Grandpa says. I will be all right. And I will think of you, and Lady Loop.
Anna: Where will you go? Will you go to jail?
Casper: Yes, Anna.
Anna: For a long time?
Casper: Yes, Anna.
Peter: Not so long. You go now, Anna.
(As she turns to go, Elizabeth enters, followed closely by Isaac.)
Elizabeth: (On seeing Peter.) Oh! They found you!
Casper: You knew too?
Isaac: Father, who is he?
Casper: (To Isaac.) A Hessian. Come, we must get him to the mill, away from the others. Then you can go for Sheriff Dodderer.
I’ll be back. I want to know all of this.
(Peter begins to exit and Catherine begins to protest.)
Peter: (To Catherine.) I am all right. And thank you.
(He glances down.)
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt sand on a floor and had good German food in my bell. You’re very kind.
Catherine: (Smiling.) Sometimes I forget, but God, he reminds me.
(Casper, Peter and Isaac exit.)
Catherine: (To Elizabeth.) You knew? You knew about him?
Elizabeth: (Sitting down, her hands to her face.) Only a little while . . . and Pauline too. No one knew what to do . . . Father Schaeffer . . . I was afraid he would kill him.
Catherine: (Patting a shoulder to console her.) I know. I know. It scares me when he hates so. But you must understand, he loves this country so much and his birth country too. That is why these soldiers . . . the Germans who came here to kill . . . he hates so.
Anna: But Grandma, Peter’s a nice man. I know!
Catherine: Ya. I think maybe you’re right. But this is war and there are things little girls don’t understand, and a time when they should be abed.
(She begins to walk both to the door.)
(Just as Elizabeth and Anna reach the door, Pauline bursts in. She is crying, her hair is mussed up and the shoulder of her dress is torn. The two women help her to a chair.)
Elizabeth: Pauline! Where have you been? I searched all over. I never should have let you go. Are you hurt?
Catherine: Where? What did she do?
(Pauline shakes her head “no” to Elizabeth’s question and begins to control her crying.)
Elizabeth: (Crosses quickly and pours a mug of cider from a new jug.) It was Mr. James; that nasty Mr. James. She walked with him, just to get him away . . . so Peter could escape.
Catherine: (Putting her hands to her head.) My head, it whirls!
Pauline: (To Elizabeth, as she takes the mug of cider.) She knows?
Elizabeth: Yes. Everyone does.
Pauline: (Starts to reply, but touches her bare shoulder.) Oh! Your dress! He’s ripped your beautiful dress!
Catherine: (Placing a consoling hand on her shoulder.) It’s nothing. It’s nothing, child. We’ll both fix it, together.
Pauline: (Smiling a “thank you” she puts the mug to her lips and just then sees the open storeroom door.) Peter has escaped?
Elizabeth: No. I’m afraid not. Father Schaeffer is holding him, for the sheriff.
Pauline: (Alarmed.) Where?
Catherine: At the mill. Why?
(In the meantime, Anna has sat down in the rocker, holding Lady Loop, and Elizabeth places the blanket about her.)
Pauline: Mr. James! He was going toward the mill. After we struggled and I ran away, I saw him, just before I reached the house. He . . . he has a gun. I saw it in his belt!
Continued to Act Two, Part Seven (Chapter 12)
Anna Schaeffer, Age eight and a half, Granddaughter of Casper and Catherine Schaeffer.
Catherine Schaeffer, Age fifty-six, wife of Casper Schaeffer.
Hans Vas, An elderly Dutch villager.
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 suspicious traveler.
Peter Gruber, an escaped Hessian prisoner of war
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