|War and History Script posted June 12, 2015||Chapters:||...4 5 -5- 6...|
Casper returns, with an indentured servent girl
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
Casper Presents a Present
Act One, Part Five
The Kinsman is an historical 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. He is due back from the state legislature. His young granddaughter has hidden a surprise for him in the storeroom.
This historical drama is based on true events and actual people. The author has taken liberties with how events played out.
Casper Schaeffer is just returning.
Elizabeth: She doesn't look like company.
Catherine: No? (They move towards the door.)
Casper: (From outside.) Mind the horses.
A Male Voice: Yes, sir!
(The girls move back as he enters.)
Casper Schaeffer is sixty-six years old, a large, bearded robust man. His take-charge blustery personality is somewhat intimidating to some people, but he is basically a kind man, but very stubborn. His dress is that of gentlemen of the era, full coat, tricorn hat and boots. He is somewhat dusty from his trip.
Casper: I’m here! I’m here!
Catherine: We see.
Casper: (Giving them all a big hug, each in turn.) Did you miss me?
(All murmur affirmatively, while trying to look at the girl who remains outside.)
Anna: (Still very excited.) Oh, yes, Grandpa! Lady Loop and I both said a prayer for you, every night . . . to God!
Casper: That’s the best kind of prayer!
Catherine: (Peering around him.) Aren’t you going to introduce us to your friend?
Casper: Oh, ya! She’s my surprise!
Catherine: That she is.
Casper: (To Catherine.) She’s my present . . . to you!
Catherine: I think . . . I think I’d rather had a dress . . .
(They step back into the room as he calls.)
Casper: Pauline! Come here!
(He beckons, and repeats, more sternly.)
Anna: I’ll bet she’s afraid of you.
Catherine: Nearly everyone is.
(Pauline enters, very hesitantly. She is in her early twenties and very pretty, beneath a layer of grime and dirt. Dressed in a very plain cloth dress, she is mud spattered and wet. Her hair is plastered to her face and she is frightened to death.)
Casper: (Presenting her.) This is Pauline.
(Everyone is silent for a few seconds.)
Elizabeth: Hello, Pauline.
(Pauline doesn’t acknowledge her.)
Casper: (He realizes something is definitely wrong.) She can do all your work. All your kitchen work.
(Scowling, he looks around.)
What’s a matter with everyone? She can do all your chores.
(A further pause.)
She can . . .
Catherine: Can she . . . speak?
Anna: Why is she all wet?
Casper: (Becoming defensive, he answers first one and then the other) She fell off her horse. . . at the edge of the river. And ya, she can speak.
Elizabeth: (Rather impatiently, to Anna.) Anna, take Lady Loop and go back to our house. Go now; don’t tarry.
Anna: (She looks to the storeroom.) But my surprise for Grandpa . . .
Elizabeth: We’ve had enough surprises for now. Go.
(Anna exits, reluctantly.)
Casper: She’s a redemptioner; a bound girl. I bought her for you.
She couldn’t pay her ship’s passage so the captain sold her. She’s yours for three years.
(He dismisses the matter with a toss of his hand and crosses right, takes off his hat and coat, handing them up. He then moves to near the fireplace, pulls over a chair and begins pulling off his boots.)
Elizabeth: (Taking Pauline by the arm, she attempts to lead her to the fireplace.)
You’re soaked. Come over near the fire and dry off.
(Pauline is hesitant to go nearer to Casper.)
Casper: (Seeing this, he hops up on one foot to the rocker, grumbling. He glances up at Catherine who stands, arms folded, scowling.)
What’s the matter? You don’t like her? You don’t like my present?
(He tugs at a boot that is stuck.)
Catherine: No! I like my kitchen.
Casper: Who’s taking away your kitchen? Think of the work you won’t have to do.
Catherine: (More calmly.) I like my work, Casper. I don’t want her. It’s as simple as that.
Casper:That’s nonsense. She can do the spinning you’re always complaining about.She can keep this place clean . . .
Catherine: Are you saying my house . . . it’s not clean?
Catherine: (Turning abruptly.) I think I go visit my sister. Maybe this girl can darn your stockings too!
(His big toe protrudes noticeably from his shoeless foot.)
Casper: (Hopping upon one foot) Go! Go!
(She exits and he bellows after her.)
Every time it’s “to your sister’s”, “to your sister’s.” Well, stay there!
(He plunks back down and loosens the boot with a violent tug.)
Elizabeth: (To Pauline, with an arm about her shoulder.) You’re shivering.
Is there any clothes this poor girl can put on? She’ll catch her death of fever.
Casper: (Still fuming, He gestures upstairs.) Upstairs, Upstairs! Catherine has some old things in a trunk; in the corner room.
Elizabeth: (To Pauline.) Do you understand?
(She nods, but still glances warily at Casper.)
Elizabeth: (As she glares at Casper.) He won’t hurt you. Go on now.
(Pauline exits left.)
Casper: (Crossing to the fireplace, he picks up his pipe and pouch. As he tries to fill it, he finds it has been used and is full.
He flings it to the floor, breaking it.)
I can’t even smoke a new pipe in my own house!
Elizabeth: (Shouting back a little.) You don’t have to shout at me. I didn’t smoke your pipe!
Casper: (In a lower voice.) Time was when a woman didn’t shout at a man. She knew her place!
(He turns and gets a mug from the cupboard and Elizabeth crosses to gaze out the window.)
Elizabeth: Well, times change too, and a woman doesn’t much like being shouted at either.
(She speaks hesitantly, building her courage. Casper tries to pour some cider but finds the jug empty.
He is about to fling it to the floor, just as Elizabeth continues.)
Elizabeth: . . . especially when a man loses his temper.
Casper: (Muttering.) Who loses their temper?
(He replaces the jug and mug, none too gently.)
Buying the girl, it seemed like such a good idea.
Elizabeth: It’s not my place to say, but. . .
Casper: Say. Say.
Elizabeth: (Blurting it out.) How could you do it? You know how Catherine guards her kitchen. She won’t even let me help her. And she loves her work.
Casper: Nobody loves work. Now she can relax.
Elizabeth: But that’s the point. She doesn’t want to relax. She’s proud of her kitchen, her cooking . . . everything in her house.
Casper: (Unconvincingly.) Who pays attention to such things?
Elizabeth: What’s more, you don’t even believe in indenture. I’ve heard you say so yourself. It’s practically slavery.
Casper: Ya. Ya.
Elizabeth: So why did you do it?
Casper: I felt sorry for her.
Elizabeth: (In total disbelief.) So you bought her? Like a . . . a cow? I hope you never feel that sorry for me!
Casper: I know. I know how it looks. It wasn’t even my concern. But this man, he had bought six of girls from a ship’s captain in Philadelphia. He was reselling them in a town we passed through. The others, they seemed to go to good people, tradesmen and farmers. But then this man, this thin-lipped man began bidding on her. His sneer . . . it turned my stomach. We were just watching, but before I knew it, I’d bought her.
(Elizabeth is silent, but Anna enters cautiously, interrupting the silence. Lady Loop dangles at arm’s length.)
Anna: Mother? May I . . .
Elizabeth: (Pointing toward the hearth.) Sit. And do your ABC’s.
Anna: But my surprise . . .
Elizabeth: Not now. Later. Be still as a mouse.
(Anna obeys. She begins to draw letters with a stick in the sand on the floor.)
Elizabeth: (To Casper.) Do you know anything about this girl . . . this girl you bought?
Casper: She speaks English – with a British accent.
Elizabeth: She’s spoken to you?
Casper: No. She swore at me in English . . . when I told her to ride side-saddle and she fell in the river.
(Pause and sigh.)
How did you find out her name?
Casper: I didn’t. I finally got tired of calling her “Hey you” so when she fell in the Paulinskill River, I called her “Pauline.”
(Elizabeth puts her hands to her head in utter exasperation.)
And she cost me nine pounds! (Pause.)
Elizabeth, you help her. She’s . . .she’s English. She’s your kinsman.
Elizabeth: “Behold the kinsman is returned to her people and to her Gods, go thou with her.”
Casper: What’s that you're saying?
Elizabeth: A little scripture that’s more appropriate than I first thought.
Anna: (A little above a whisper.) What’s a kinsman, Grandpa?
Casper: Why. . .someone who is from the same place that you are from . . .the same country.
Anna: Like Lady Loop and me? We’re both from Stillwater.
Elizabeth: (To Anna.) You were to be mouse-quiet!
Casper: Kinsman, Ya Anna. Like you and your doll.
Anna: Oh, good! You’re going to love your surprise!
(Just then the sound of a shot can be heard from outside. There is some distant shouting of voices. The noise wakes up Alexander and Elizabeth rushes to him as he cries (off-stage recording.) Anna rushes to the window.)
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.
Elizabeth Schaeffer, Age thirty-one, daughter-in-law of Casper and Catherine Schaeffer. She is the mother of Anna.
Pauline, About age twenty, an indentured servant girl.
Casper Schaeffer, Age sixty-six. He is a miller, farmer, legislator and patriarch of the family.
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