|War and History Script posted June 27, 2015||Chapters:||...10 11 -12-|
Casper Schaeffer has a decision to make.
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
Who is our Kinsman?
Act Two, Part Seven (Chapter 12)
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.
Young Anna has befriended and hidden an escaped Hessian soldier, thinking her German grandfather would consider him a kinsman. He has now been captured but they are fearful suspicious Mr. James is about to free him.
This historical drama is based on true events and actual people. The author has taken liberties with how events played out.
Catherine: (Jumping up, she rushes to the door.) Casper!
(Just as she opens it, James bursts in, pushing Peter ahead of him. He has a pistol in one hand and an empty flour sack in the other.)
James: (To Peter, in a highly excited voice.) You’re liberated! You’re liberated! You’re liberated!
(Elizabeth screams and grabs Anna who has jumped up with a cry.)
Catherine: (In a very stern voice.) My husband! What have you done with my husband and my son?
James: (With a sneer.) I haven’t killed them. They’re locked in the mill where they won’t do any harm.
Grab some of the boy’s clothes and we’ll be off.
(He tosses the flour sack at Elizabeth, catching her full in the face.)
Here, woman, fill this with food. We’ve a long, hard ride ahead.
(Seeing Pauline, he sneers.)
I see your tavern whore crawled back.
(Pauline doesn’t answer and remains in her seat. Elizabeth crosses to the Dutch oven and begins to fill the sack with the remains of the rolls. Anna is close to her, obviously frightened.)
Elizabeth: You’re the Tory spy you were telling us about, aren’t you? You’re James Moody!
James: Lieutenant James Moody, British Army, special duty.
(To Peter, who has slowly taken a coat from a peg, but done nothing more.)
(Peter glances at him as he slowly takes down another garment.)
Move! And get the rum; over there, on the bench.
(As Peter crosses to the bench, he pauses as he passes Pauline.)
Peter: Did he rip your dress?
Pauline: (Afraid, she answers softly.) Yes.
Peter: (Turning to James.) Why did you hurt her?
James: (Very irritated.) I didn’t. She ran. Move! We don’t have all night!
(Peter turns, reaching for the rum, but stops and turns back to James.)
Peter: I’m not going with you.
(He looks directly at Pauline and holds her gaze.)
James: (Dumbfounded.)What do you mean?
(Peter pulls over a chair from the table, he sits down, with obvious pain.)
Peter: I’m just not going . . . anywhere.
James: You have to go. I freed you. You’re liberated!
Peter: (Quietly, but firmly.) No.
James: (Voice rising.) You’re going to get that rum and food and we’re going to ride out of here. I have a man at the stable and another down the lane, and we’re all going to go.
Peter: No. I don’t want your war. I never did. I’m not going back to it.
James: (Waving the gun.) You don’t have a choice. They’ll jail you; you may even die!
James: (Screaming.) You don’t have any choice! We own you! We bought you! All you German Hessians belong to us! You must obey us!
Peter: (Very quietly.) These people, these Americans . . . they found something here . . . and I’m not going to be a party to destroying it.
James: (Crosses a few steps to Peter and slowly swings his gun around until it is an inch from his head. He speaks coldly.) I could kill you where you sit.
Peter: (In almost a whisper.) Perhaps it would be better.
(James holds the gun there for a few seconds and then, as if an idea suddenly strikes him, turns and crosses a few steps and grabs Anna, before Elizabeth can do anything. He places the gun at her head. She and the other women scream.)
James: (Shouting above the others.) Now you’ll come! Now you’ll come!
Peter: (Screams.) Butcher!
(He leaps the few feet between them, grabbing James’ gun hand and wrestling him to the floor. Elizabeth has grabbed Anna, and Pauline kicks the gun away from Jame's grasp after it has fallen. James strikes at Peter and manages to scramble out the door before Peter can recover and grab him. The women move in quickly to see that Peter is all right.)
Peter: (Still on the floor.) No. No. It’s all right. Anna . . . Is Anna hurt?
Elizabeth: (With a frightened Anna cuddled against her.) She’s fine, Peter. She’s fine. Thank you. Thank you.
(She stoops and picks up Lady Loop for Anna. Casper rushes in, musket in hand, followed closely by Hans and Isaac.)
Casper: Where are they?
(He sees Peter on the floor and levels the musket at him.)
All the women: No!
(From outside comes the sound of James spurring off his horse. Casper rushes out and the loud sound of a musket shot can be heard. Everyone is motionless for a few seconds until he returns. He points the gun at Peter.)
Casper: That Moody rascal got away, but you didn’t!
Hans: (Meekly, from the rear.) I rescued ‘em. I did; I rescued ‘em. That scoundrel didn’t even know I was sleeping there.
(Isaac is smiling, patting Hans on the back.)
Catherine: (To Casper.) He didn’t want to escape, Casper.
Hans: It was just like the last war, sneaking along in the dark like that.
Casper: (To Catherine.) What?
Elizabeth: He had his chance to leave, but he wouldn’t.
Catherine: He saved Anna. That man, Mr. James, he . . . he had his gun to her.
Pauline: That’s right. Peter was nearly killed.
Hans: Just like sneaking up on some Indian I was . . .
(He realizes no one is listening.)
Casper: (To Peter.) Why? Why didn’t you go?
(Peter simply shrugs.)
Is it some trick? Why would you want jail over freedom?
Peter: He didn’t offer freedom.
Casper: (Very harshly.) Why did you stay?
Peter: (Rising slowly and smiling.) I don’t really know.
Catherine: I think maybe it’s that freedom thing. It’s . . . it’s catching. Like the coughs and the sneezes.
Casper: He is still our enemy. It’s as simple as that.
Catherine: (Softly.) No, Casper. It’s not as simple as that. Nothing is as simple as that.
Casper: This is man’s business. You don’t understand it.
Anna: Grandpa! He’s our kinsman!
Elizabeth: (Almost whispering.) “Behold the kinsman is returned to his people . . .”
Catherine: “Ya, and no more stubbornness.”
(Casper glares at her.)
Casper: Catherine! This is different!
Catherine: No it isn’t, Casper.
Put away the gun, Casper. There has been too much shooting.
(He begins to lower the musket.)
This boy means us no harm.
(He drops the barrel to the floor.)
Peter: Thank you . . . sir.
(Casper simply mutters, his eyes cast downward.)
Anna: It wasn’t loaded any more, after he shot at Mr. James.
Catherine: (Finger to her lips.) Shhh . . . !
Casper: (In mock severity to Anna.) You are still up and about at this time of night?
Anna: (She giggles and runs back to Elizabeth.) And I have two new friends today!
Casper: (Smiling, finally.) So many women! Who could argue with so many women.
Catherine: Thank you, Casper.
Casper: I haven’t said . . .
Elizabeth: He won’t have to go to jail will he?
Casper: The law says . . .
Catherine: Now don’t be a stubborn old German again!
Casper: Well . . .
Catherine: You’re an important man with the laws . . .
Anna: Can he stay? Can he stay here in Stillwater?
(Peter and Pauline still smile at one another.)
Pauline: May he stay? Is there a way? Perhaps he could work, like me.
Catherine: I think he’d like that.
Casper: (Thinking aloud.) It has happened. So many Hessians escaped at Trenton . . . and other places. Some were freed, in Pennsylvania . . . But . . .
Elizabeth: “But” what?
Casper: It would have to be cleared in high places, and the village, they would have to agree . . .
Catherine: The villages, they would listen to you. They always do.
Hans: And your church would help . . .
Casper: (Turning.) You, too Hans? I’ve not just the women to listen to?
Isaac: We need good men in the village; you said so yourself!
Catherine: And especially good German men . . .
Casper: (Turning to each as they speak.) What can I do? What can I do?
Catherine: You’ll talk to the villagers, ya?
Casper: (Nodding his head and smiling.) Ya.
(The others display their pleasure by patting Peter on the back and shaking his hand.)
(No one pays any attention to Casper as he continues.)
Casper: But this is just the beginning, remember, not the final word . . .
(He realizes that no one is paying any attention to him. He pauses, looks about, and finally smiles and extends his hand to Peter.)
Welcome to Stillwater, Peter Gruber, and welcome to America. Maybe, just maybe, it will all work out for you. I . . . I hope so. We need good people.
(He smiles at Pauline.)
And I don’t suppose it matters if they’re bound girls or Hessians, so long as they’ll bend their backs to the sun and carry their own load . . . and thank their God for the right to do it!
Anna: (Very excited.) Thank you, Grandpa! Thank you!
Casper: (Chuckling.) Maybe that’s who my kinsmen are, Anna, no matter what country they come from!
(The lights dim and players freeze in position. A single spot picks up the tinker as he makes his way down the aisle, chuckling to himself.)
Tinker: What did I say, huh? Aren’t children somthin’ though? As un-per-dict-a-ble as Jersey weather.
Well, I’ll tell ya now, just so you knowed what happened. Ol’ Moody, he escaped. Harassed the locals up here in Sussex County during most of the war and then snuck off to England where he wrote all about it, in a book. And he sure didn’t spare any adjectives when his self was concerned, neither.
Casper? He continued with the legislature another year and spent a quiet five more before he passed on in ’84. Catherine outlived him by ten years and read that there German bible three times, cover to cover!
Isaac, he got his wish. He enlisted before the war was finished up and was a conductor of a team in the Wagon Master General’s Department.
Peter Schaeffer, Anna’s father, came back from the war without a scratch, and he and Elizabeth started their own mill, five miles down the Paulinskill. Anna, she growed all up, married a doctor, and had a few kids herself. But not little Alexander. He passed away just two days before his second birthday. Them was hard times, remember.
Pauline and Peter? Well, I’ll let you guess about them. But a dozen Hessians came out of the hills that December week when the Convention Army marched through the county and all stayed and lived in the Stillwater area.
What about Stillwater Village itself? It’s still there; Casper’s mill, the house, and even old Uncle Wintermute’s place across the field, where the orchard used to be. And the little burying ground, too, where most of these friends are resting.
Well, I can’t spend all night a chit-chatting, I’ve a full tote to empty.
(He salutes, turns, and begins to make his way up the aisle.)
“Lotions and potions and
Pewter and brass . . .”
(The lights fade. Curtain.)
A Travelling Tinker.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
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 traveler. (James Moody, a Tory.)
Peter Gruber, an escaped Hessian prisoner of war.
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