|War and History Script posted May 12, 2015||Chapters:||-1- 2...|
A traveling tinker introduces the tale.
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
The Tinker's Tale
A Drama of the American Revolution
In Two Acts
Cast of Characters
(In order of appearance)
A Travelling Tinker
Anna Schaeffer, Granddaughter of Catherine Schaeffer
Catherine Schaeffer, Wife of Casper Schaeffer
Hans Vas, An elderly Dutch villager
Isaac Schaeffer, Casper and Catherine’s youngest son
Elizabeth Schaeffer, Casper and Catherine’s daughter-in- law
Pauline, A young indentured servant girl
Casper Schaeffer, Miller, Farmer, Legislator and Patriarch of the family
Mr. James, A traveler
Peter Gruber, an escaped Hessian prisoner of war
Time: Late afternoon, December 1, 1778
Location: The main room (public room) of Casper Schaeffer's house in Upper Hardwick Township, Sussex County, N. J.
The house is also used as a tavern to accommodate the occasional traveler who passes along the narrow road through the village.
The building is located in the village of Stillwater, N.J.
The set: If facilities and space allow, three long hand hewn beams should be suspended across the stage at a height of about eight feet, to represent the ceiling. They should be lowered progressively from down stage to upstage to give an illusion of depth. From the beams hang various bundles of dried fruits, vegetables and herbs.
A large stone fireplace is centered on the rear wall of the set. It has a fire that remains aglow throughout the play and various pots and pans hang from hooks about it. To the left of the fire is a Dutch oven. If the door can be made to open, it will add to the effect. Above the mantel, which contains candles and a clay pipe, hangs a musket and powder horn.
Stage right of the fireplace is period chair and a spinning wheel and a basket containing wool and yarn. A quilt is drooped over the chair.
An exit, stage right, leads to the roadway outside.
Against the wall between the fireplace and the exit is a table with a very large Bible atop it.
Just in front of the fireplace, and slightly stage left of it is a cradle which contains Alexander (represented by a doll), the three-month-old son of Elizabeth.
Moving to stage left we see a large corner cupboard which contains a large assortment of mugs, pewter, china and plates. Further stage left is a low bench which contains an assortment of jugs, crocks and 'cooking vessels, and a plate of biscuits. In front of it is a large comfortable rocker and next to it a small candle table, with a candle atop it.
Behind the chair, on the stage left wall, is a door leading to a store-room and against the wall rests a broom.
A "window," stage right looks out over the audience on that side.
The walls contain a number of pegs from which hang various articles of clothing; capes and long coats.
The center stage is dominated by a large table and four chairs. On it rests a pumpkin.
The room should have a crowded look, in a lived -in way, not like a museum. Additional items, such as a bed warmer, a lantern or like period pieces may be added to give life to the set.
As the house lights dim to begin the play a single spotlight picks up the tinker as he makes his way down an aisle. ·
He is an older man, perhaps sixty or more, and is dressed in faded gray clothes and wears a tri-cornered hat and boots. Hoisted to his shoulder is a large trunk, preferably made of tin. From it hang a great number of pots, pans and tin ware. Various implements are also hung about his body; over his other shoulder and around his waist. Even the slightest movement creates considerable noise.
He moves down the aisle, with a jaunty step, and a big, friendly smile. He appears to hardly be aware of the heavy load he is carrying.
As he moves, he recites, in a sing-song voice, his call.
Lotions and potions and pewter and brass.
I've got in my tote here whatever you ask.
If your purse is empty, and you've got no money,
Go climb up a bee tree I'll swap you for honey!
Run tell your mother, but don't tell your paw
That comin' from heaven the tinker you saw -
Lotions and potions and . . .
(He reaches the front of the darkened stage and appears to notice everyone, for the first time. He breaks into a big smile and doffs his hat and goes into a deep bow, carefully balancing his case on his shoulder.)
Good evening! Good evening! Welcome to Stillwater. And a fine village it is, too! I'm the one who would know. You see, I'm a traveling man . . .a tinker by trade.
(He shakes his wares, to demonstrate.)
. . . a wanderer and a student of life, by disposition. I pack up my tote here, the little pots in the bigger pots and the knives, wrapped up in pretty ribbons, tucked down in the sides, and books and spices . . . everything the woman would need . . . if her man doesn't chase me off first!
I hike up one side of this state and down the other. I make a few coppers, barter a night's lodging, and maybe a bite and a sip or two, and swap tales about everybody and everything.
This here little village of Stillwater is as nice as any spot around. It has a fine mill and a smithy and a store and church and just about everything a body would need to be comfortable, if he was the settling down type; which, by the way, I ain't. Why should I? I've got the greatest position in the whole world. Look! I don't even have to yell, to call out my wares, like all them fish mongers down Elizabeth Town way. All I do is wiggle a little.
(He demonstrates, with a chuckle.)
. . . and all the children come a runnin'. A pretty bow for the girls' hair and a ball or knife for the boys, and I've got me the best little salesmen a man could ask for.
And don't you underestimate children none, neither. They can turn the world upside down, and have on more 'n one occasion too. Why, I remember a time, right here in this village . . . back in '78 it was, during the war for independence, why one little gal near set this whole town on its ear . . .
(He chuckles and begins moving back up the aisle.)
If you got time to sit a spell, I'll show you what happened.
(The lights come up on stage to reveal Anna coming out of the storeroom.)
Anna: (Over her shoulder.) Now you take a nice nap. You'll be my surprise!
(She closes the door behind her and crosses the stage toward the exit, right, wearing a big smile.)
The tinker has now exited.
Anna is eight and a half years old, somewhat of a loner, but nevertheless quite self-assured, wears a bright bow in her long hair and a pretty floor-length dress and apron, she is very happy and skips a step. Just as she reaches the door, Catherine enters, carrying a wooden bucket by its rope handle. It is filled with sand.
Catherine is somewhat plump, in a matronly way, and speaks in a German accent.
She is wearing a cap, long dress and apron and has flour on her hands and sleeves. Catherine is fifty-six and has spent thirty-five of those years in this country. Although she maintains many old country ways and has a love for all that is German, she is sincerely fond of her adopted home. Refined and educated in her early years, she found it difficult to adjust to the harsh colonial life. Her success in this area is due, to a large measure, to her love of her husband Casper and the nearness of her sister, who lives across the orchard.
Catherine: (Startled to see Anna.) Oh! Are you up to some mischief, Anna?
Anna: (Only slightly taken aback.) Oh, no, Grandma, I was just doing something with my surprise, for Grandpa, when he gets home.
(She moves to exit.)
Catherine: (With mock sternness.) Put on that heavy shawl now. It may seem mild, but it's the first of December.
Anna: Yes, Grandma. (She grabs her shawl and exits.)
Catherine: And keep it wrapped tightly about you.
(She shakes her head and smiles, realizing her words are unheard. She then empties the bucket on the floor and begins sweeping the sand about the room. She continues to do this for enough time for the audience to familiarize themselves with the set.)
At length there is a gentle rapping at the outside door. At first Catherine does not hear it as she briskly performs her chores. A repeat of the sound causes her to pause, irritated at the disturbance.)
Catherine: Anna? Is that you again?
(The response from outside is muffled as Catherine moves to the door.)
This historical drama is based on actual people, living at the time, in a true setting in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. The facts too, are historically accurate.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
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