|War and History Script posted June 20, 2015||Chapters:||...6 7 -8- 9...|
Casper's Inn guest may not share his views.
A chapter in the book The Kinsman
A Toast to George Washington!
Act Two, Part Two
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. 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.
Young Anna has befriended an escaped Hessian soldier and hidden him in the store room. Servant Pauline has been asked to not give him away. Mr. James, an Inn guest, has made a “Tory sounding” remark as Casper enters.
(James wheels to face Casper and his musket. He jumps to his feet, dropping his knife on the floor.)
James: Oh, no, sir. I was . . . ah . . . just having some sport with the boy.
(He extends his hand, cautiously.)
You must be Herr Schaeffer.
Casper: (Ignoring the hand.) Mister Schaeffer. We have no German in this house. This is America. And we are Americans.
James: (Still holding out his hand.) Of course, of course. Mister Schaeffer. I’m Mr. James.
Casper: . . and I’ve been a full citizen since 1764.
(He slowly takes James’ hand.)
Hans: (Rising, extends his hand, too.) Mister Schaeffer. . .
Casper: (Vigorously shaking his hand.) Hans, it’s good to see you. You’re looking very well!
(He crosses to the fireplace and replaces the musket and powder horn.)
Elizabeth: The wolf is dead?
Elizabeth: And there is no fear of others?
Casper: No, he was a loner, wounded and looking for an easy meal. I hated to kill him, but it had to be done.
James: They ought to poison them all.
(Casper scowls at him.)
Elizabeth: (To Casper.) Would you like some meat or are you going to wait for. . .
Casper: (Cutting her off.) No. I’ll eat now. It’s been a long day. A long trip. I’ve the dust of three counties and the mud of another on me. All that for the eight schillings a day the legislature pays me. A man could starve to death being a patriot.
James: (Trying to be funny.) That he could, that he could.
Casper: (Sternly, to James.) But it would be worth it, would it not?
James: (Quickly.) Oh, yes, sir. Definitely, sir.
Casper: Perhaps we did have a lot of Tories in this county at one time and perhaps we still do. But General Washington showed them and the British as well that we mean business and that freedom is a very serious thing.
(He sits at the only vacant seat at the table.)
And another thing, Mr. James, there are Tories and there are others, who are even worse. You know who they are, Mr. James?
James: (A little nervous.) No, sir.
Casper: They ae the ones who, if you call yourself a Tory, will pat your back and buy you a rum at the tavern. But if you say you’re for the cause of freedom, what do you suppose they do?
James: Well . . . I don’t know, sir.
Casper: (Rather loudly.) The very same thing, Mr. James! Your back would be slapped just as hard and your rum filled just as fast. Because they try to tip toe right down the middle, Mr. James!
(He jumps up.)
You’ve walked atop a fieldstone fence, Mr. James?
James: No! Well, maybe as a boy . . .
Casper: That’s what they do, with freedom way out here . . .
(He holds out one arm.)
. . . and the king out here.
(He holds out the other arm.)
And they tip toe down the line, trying all the while to keep their balance.
And pretty soon, you know what happens, Mr. James?
(James nods “no.”)
The arms, they get tired and the footing, it gets wobbly, and pretty soon, down everything goes and both are smashed and lost. And what’s left? Nothing! That’s what they have left.
(He sits down, but almost immediately pops back up again.)
And what should have they done?
(He crosses over and picks up the pumpkin to demonstrate.)
They take the one, and clutch it with both arms and both hands, to the breast, and if the road gets rocky or wobbly or if they fall, they perhaps get some bumps, but what they hold dear . . .
(He holds the pumpkin high.)
Is safe! Do you understand, Mr. James?
James: Yes . . . oh, yes. I understand.
(Elizabeth pours him a cider and he sits down.)
Casper: In my house we drink to the friends of freedom.
(He lifts his mug as far as he can reach.)
May God save and protect George Washington!
(He looks to see Hans and Isaac raise their cups, and James his, but only slightly. He holds his up, and James raises his slowly, until it is obvious Casper will not lower his until James’ is as high as it can go.)
Hans: God save Washington.
Isaac: May God protect Washington.
James: God bless George Washington.
Casper: (Lowering his cup, he drains it in one long swallow.) And may fat King George choke on his Yorkshire pudding.
(Elizabeth dishes up some stew and bread for Casper.)
Casper: (Bowing his head.) Dear God, bless this food and , , ,
(The rest of the prayer is unintelligible. When he is finished, he begins to eat.)
Isaac: Mr. James knows Aaron Hankinson, Father.
Casper: (Looking up.) Eh?
James: (Wishing Isaac had kept quiet.) I . . . well . . .
Casper: Do you or don’t you?
James: Well, I’m . . . I’m on a patrol. It’s kinda secret.
Hans: Is that why you wanted to know about General Pulaski?
James: No! It’s that. . . I’m a lieutenant, Lieutenant James.
Casper: No uniform?
James: (Finding new confidence.) No, sir. They. . they thought it best. This way I can seek out the Tories and get their confidence.
James: Sir, I’m after that Tory rascal, Moody. He was the one who destroyed the powder magazine and captured those patriots. There’s talk he may try to organize the entire county against the cause. Some say that’s the reason Washington sent General Pulaski up here. But Moody is a sly one and it’s going to take some doing to get a line on him.
Casper: Who’s outfit are you with? Hankinson's?
James: Yes, sir. Captain Hankinson, first New Jersey militia. . . the state troops.
Casper: My son Peter is with Hankinson. Did you know he’s from this village?
James: (Surprised.) No! But, I travel around a lot.
Isaac: Father, you should see Mr. James’ horse. It’s so fast . . .
Casper: (Halting in his meal.) Humph. What a man pays for one fast horse he can buy two smart horses. Remember that, son.
James: Of course I need a fast horse in my kind of work. There’s no other way I’d ever catch up with a chap like this Moody. He sure must be something, the way he’s been giving the militia fits.
Casper: Humph. I understand he’s nothing but a cocky brigand who’s going to find himself of the down end of a heavy rope.
Isaac: (To James.) When will you be going back up to Hankinson’s? Maybe you could carry a message up to my brother?
Elizabeth: Yes, could you?
James: Well, the truth is, I . . . I don’t expect to be in the area much longer. A actually, I’m under orders – secret orders – to follow the action, as soon as I clean up this Moody business, if I can.
Isaac: That’s what I’d like to do, follow the action.
Casper: (Rather sternly.) We’ve spoken of that before, son.
Isaac: (Dejectedly.) Yes, father.
But I want to help the war, not just stay in Sussex County and do nothing!
Casper: Sussex County, do nothing? Humph! Who feeds the solders? Answer me that question. Wasn’t it our grain and cattle that went to Morristown when there was no other available?
Isaac: Yes, Father, but. . .
Casper: And what about our furnaces? What is an army without iron for balls and for cannons? And if our militia isn’t here, who do you suppose would stop the blasted Indians from crossing the river. . . just like the last war. . .
Hans: Yes, sir. I remember that war. . .
Casper: And General Clinton, still sitting right across the Hudson in New York. No, we need people here, too. We are in a very important position.
Hans: Maybe that’s why General Washington sent someone as important as General Pulaski up here.
Casper: Ours is a very strategic county, no doubt about it. And some must stay at home here.
Isaac: (Dejectedly.) Yes, sir.
Casper: At least until your brother Peter returns.
Isaac: (Brightening noticeably.) Yes, sir!
James: You never can tell where the action may be. Hans here has been telling us about escaped prisoners right up on the Mine Road.
Casper: Prisoners? What Prisoners?
James: From the Convention Army. Burgoyne’s men, from the battle of Saratoga. They’re being marched from Boston to somewhere south, and a few of them have escaped in the county.
Hans: They were going to Virginia, and quite a lot of ‘em escaped, they say.
Casper: There is no worry. They’ll capture them. Those Britishers don’t know the woods.
James: Oh, no, Mister Schaeffer, they’re not just Britishers. Most of them are Hessians. . . Germans, kinsmen.
Casper: (Jumping up, he slams his fist down on the table, inadvertently breaking the pumpkin.) No Hessian swine is a kinsman of mine!
(Alexander wakes with a cry and Elizabeth moves to him.)
They are paid killers, hired men to do the king’s dirty work!
Elizabeth: (Lifting the infant, she tries to comfort him, and addresses Isaac.) Isaac, perhaps Mr. James would like to see the village before bedding in. . .
Isaac: (Popping up.) Yes, would you like to see Stillwater?
James: (Equally eager for the excuse to leave.) Yes, that would be nice.
Elizabeth: Show him our mill and the new church. . .
Isaac: (As they leave.) The church is at the head of the lane. We share it every other Sunday with the Lutherans. . .
(They exit. Alexander still cries, although not as loudly, and Casper begins to pace the floor, obviously very irritated. Hans gets up, not knowing quite what to do.)
Casper: (Moves to the fireplace, reaches for his pipe and remembers it’s not there. He crosses to the cupboard and gets an older one and fills and lights it. No one speaks while he is doing this, but Alexander still cries.)
Hans: Your. . . your spare pipe was on the corner. . .
(He points to the corner of the mantle.)
Casper: Spare one? What spare one? I have no spare pipe.
(Pretends a quick yawn.)
Well, I guess it’s my bedtime.
(He drops some copper on the table.)
Thank you, Miz Elizabeth. It was a good meal. A very good meal.
Would you mind, sir, if I take a spot in the rear of the mill? It’s pretty soft there and I wouldn’t be no trouble.
Casper: (He is still pacing, and answers off-handidly.) Take a bed, Hans. We have the room.
(He Gestures upstairs.)
Hans: Oh, you never can tell when a late traveler might come by. . . I’d share a bed with that Mr. James, but the truth is it’s been a spell since I’ve had a bath and he seems kinda particular. ‘Sides, now I’ve got this. . .
(He crosses to his coat.)
. . . fine new long coat to toss over me if a frost comes down.
Casper: Are you sure, Hans?
Hans: I’d really rather, Mr. Schaeffer.
(He begins to exit, donning his coat.)
‘Night, and thanks again.
Elizabeth: (To Casper after Hans leaves.) He’s a nice man.
Casper: (Crosses to help Elizabeth console Alexander.) You’re a light sleeper, little man.
Elizabeth: (Smiling as she rocks him.) It’s time he was awake anyway. He must be hungry.
(Alexander begins to quiet down.)
Casper: (Crossing to the rocker, he slouches into it.) When I hear of those Hessians, I nearly lose my temper. My own countrymen, coming to this beautiful land of ours to kill. . .to kill for money! Not because they feel something here. . .
(He pounds his heart.)
. . . but just for the gold! Killers for hire, that’s what they are!
(He is becoming agitated again.)
Elizabeth: (Moving closer to the rocker.) I know how you feel, I’m English. I’m British, and they’re out there fighting us, too; trying to kill my own husband!
Casper: (Slouching further.) It’s different for you. You weren’t even born in England. And besides, at least the British feel something, or at least are supposed to. They’re not just trading blood for gold.
Elizabeth: I. . . I have to go. Alexander needs to be fed.
(She moves toward the door, and as she is about to open it, Pauline enters, looking radiant in the green silk dress. She stands there, motionless, as Casper raises his eyes and sees her. She remains afraid of him.)
Elizabeth: Oh, Pauline! Are the children fed?
Pauline: (Hesitantly.) Yes, mam. I. . .
Elizabeth: Yes? What is it, Pauline?
Pauline: I. . . I thought you might need help with the guest.
Elizabeth: Thank you, Pauline. That’s very kind of you. Mr. James is out walking with Isaac, but I’m sure he’ll be back. Would you stay while I feed Alexander?
Casper: (Staring at the dress.) You give me a memory of a time long ago.
(Casper senses Pauline’s fear of him.)
Casper: (Rising.) I think I’ll leave. . . and maybe see my brother, Wintermute.
(He exits. As Elizabeth too begins to exit, Pauline interrupts her.)
Pauline: (Glancing at the storeroom door.) I. . . I. . .
(She can’t bring herself to say anything.)
Elizabeth: (Tenderly.) I shan’t be long.
Pauline: (Following her to the door.) But . . .
(Elizabeth leaves and she is alone.)
(She glances nervously at the storeroom door, but all is quiet.)
Continued to Act Two, Part Three.
(Posted as Chapter Nine.)
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.
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.
Peter Gruber, an escaped Hessian prisoner of war.
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