Play One of The Adventures of Fiona MacQuillin
Georgia, 1863. A mother and four daughters have their lives upended when a wounded Yankee captain stumbles into their yard. 5 women, 2 men, single unit set.
(in a work circle)
FIONA: And I wouldn’t brag about “my man” if I were you.
WILLEAN: You don’t like my Richard?
FIONA: I don’t know if I like him or not. I ain’t ever heard him say but two words.
WILLEAN: He can talk.
FIONA: I think I can remember him saying “thank you ‘mam” and “pass the chicken.”
SOPHIE: Sounds like a preacher.
WILLEAN: He can talk.
MOTHER: If silence were gold he would be a rich man all right.
WILLEAN: Now stop it.
MOTHER: Silence in a husband may not be all that bad of habit.
WILLEAN: Don’t be picking on my Richard.
MOTHER: No, now I take that back. There are times I wisht your Daddy would cuss me out as to sit there all night and say nary a word. Like trying to carry on a conversation with a rock.
FIONA: I can make Daddy talk. Daddy likes talkin to me.
WILLEAN: Richard is a fine man. Comes from a good family.
FIONA: They just dirt farmers like us.
MOTHER: Hush that. I won’t have you sayin that.
FIONA: Well us women folk are out in the fields, working in the dirt.
MOTHER: We are not dirt farmers.
FIONA: Just a spell of diminished circumstances?
MOTHER: Why were you born so sassy?
WILLEAN: Born with vinegar in her mouth.
FIONA: Better than being born with mush in your mouth.
MOTHER: (picks it up) I still got this switch right here.
FIONA: All I was saying is…if Richard Conroy were my man, I wouldn’t go around bragging.
WILLEAN: Lord, give me patience.
FIONA: I’d probably hide my head in shame.
WILLEAN: Forgive me, Lord, but I would be eternally grateful if you would just strike her dead.
FIONA: I would probably dig myself a hole and change my name.
WILLEAN: (rises with knife in hand) Well I wouldn’t be engaged to Richard Conroy, if somebody hadn’t stolen away Tommy Bell from me!
(FIONA rises, empties bowls of peeled “peaches” into kettle, not the least bit concerned about WILLEAN)
FIONA: I did not steal Tommy Bell.
WILLEAN: Like hell.
FIONA: He wandered away from you all by his lonesome.
MARY RUTH: Willean…
MOTHER: Put that knife down.
WILLEAN: She took him away and then she didn’t even want him.
FIONA: It was him that followed me out to the peach orchard.
WILLEAN: You kissed him out there or something. You put a spell on him.
FIONA: I was wearing perfume that night.
MARY RUTH: Willean, give me that knife.
WILLEAN: She put on that rose smelling water and it got up in Tommy Bell’s nose and made him drunk.
FIONA: Intoxicated is a much finer word. He was intoxicated by my charms.
WILLEAN: Wearing that red dress she got up in Chattanooga.
SOPHIE: Oh, I like that dress.
WILLEAN: Sashaying by him like she had a load of buckshot on each side of her hip.
MOTHER: That boy had wanderin eyes, Willean.
FIONA: I’ll say.
WILLEAN: She done it on purpose.
FIONA: I just felt like dressing up that night. He was company.
MOTHER: Are you gonna stab her with that knife, or you just gonna beller all day?
MARY RUTH: Oh, stop it. Stop! We have turned into a tribe of wild Indians. I am almost glad we are up here on this hill where no one can see us. I would go to town and live with my in-laws, except I am afraid I would come back here to find the scene of a massacre.
MOTHER: One of you is gonna get married and get the hell off this hill before I shoot you both.
MARY RUTH: Is there a reason everybody is feeling so violent today? Mercy land sakes.
WILLEAN: She’s had her chances to get married. And why she hasn’t taken one is just a perversity of nature.
FIONA: I like that word perverse. It suits me somehow.
MOTHER: I have certainly never known another woman to be engaged five times and never get married.
FIONA: Seven proposals, two engagements, one busted wedding.
SOPHIE: I know that to be a local record.
MOTHER: Scandal and disgrace.
SOPHIE: Unless someone’s broken it while we’ve been stuck on this hill.
FIONA: Ain’t no one ever gonna break that record.
WILLEAN: She got the gall to be proud of this.
FIONA: There ain’t much else they let a girl excel at in the great state of Georgia, except capturing men. That ain’t much.
SOPHIE: They should turn you loose on the Yankees.
FIONA: Bet I could snare me up a passel of em with but lifting my little finger. No telling what I could do if I had me more than one decent dress.
WILLEAN: Plain and simple, we got us a hussy for a sister.
MOTHER: It was Jimmy Byrd you shoulda latched on to. Like to break my heart when you didn’t marry Jimmy Byrd.
FIONA: Oh, Jimmy Byrd.
SOPHIE: He had a whole plantation.
FIONA: He had that mole on his face that looked like the eye of a mangy old potato.
MOTHER: Money could make you forget some of a man’s failings.
FIONA: Every time I looked at him I couldn’t eat for a week. I would probably starve to death if I was to ever marry that man.
MARY RUTH: You know who I liked best among all your swain?
FIONA: I have never liked the word swain. It is too close to swine.
MARY RUTH: I was always partial to the Reverend Jones.
FIONA: Oh, Reverend Jones.
WILLEAN: He’s a man of God.
FIONA: We only have his word for that.
SOPHIE: He’s just a chicken eating preacher man.
MOTHER: Hush that, Sophie.
SOPHIE: Grabbing all the best pieces for his self.
MOTHER: Well, he’s a man. Course he’s gonna do that.
FIONA: Chewed with his mouth open like some old cow.
WILLEAN: You ain’t ever gonna get married, because you think you’re so high and mighty.
MOTHER: A man’s got to be Lord and master of his own home, especially over his wife.
FIONA: Oh pish posh. Ain’t no man ever gonna be my Lord and master. He can be Lord and master over hisself, or a horse, or over a dang old sow pig if that’s what he wants. But I’ll be dammed if I ever bend a knee to any man.
WILLEAN: Right there. She ain’t ever gonna get married. Too bossy.
FIONA: Everybody knows I could have my choice of boys in Catoosa County. And I ain’t ever seen Momma bowing down none to Daddy.
MOTHER: Why is it you got no respect for your elders?
FIONA: I believe I was born in another time and place and was just put here by accident.
WILLEAN: What other time?
SOPHIE: What other place?
FIONA: Europe. I am sure I was a princess of some sort.
MARY RUTH: You are so funny, Fiona.
WILLEAN: She should be horse whipped.
SOPHIE: A real princess?
FIONA: Why not?
SOPHIE: That ain’t fair. I should be a princess, too.
MOTHER: You talk more nonsense in one day than most people do in a lifetime.
FIONA: Thank you.
MOTHER: And I wore out my hand slapping you. Where do you get your ideas?
MOTHER: We don’t have any books in our house that truck with such silliness.
MARY RUTH: I’ve always been thankful you taught us all to read, Momma.
MOTHER: That’s so you could help pass the time for the men folk come winter, when it rains all day. Make yourself useful.
FIONA: Daddy is the one who taught me to read.
SOPHIE: Daddy can read Latin.
MOTHER: I never thought your Daddy could read Latin.
FIONA: Yes, he can.
MOTHER: I think he just pretends he can read Latin. You ever seen them words on a page? Those people can’t even spell.
FIONA: I was reading something the other day in the Bible that has changed my opinion about everything there ever was in the whole wide world.
MARY RUTH: What?
FIONA: It said “God is a woman.”
MOTHER: Hush that!
MARY RUTH: It did not. Did it?
FIONA: It did. It said God is a woman. She opened up her womb and out popped the earth.
WILLEAN: Slapping her ain’t enough, Momma. You’re gonna have to shoot this girl.
MOTHER: You put a lock on that blasphemous lip.
WILLEAN: I am sure God would forgive you, Momma, if you just shot her.
MOTHER: God ain’t no woman.
FIONA: But it said so, right there in the Bible.
WILLEAN: The Bible would never say any such thing.
FIONA: It did so.
MARY RUTH: If it did, then how come we ain’t ever heard of this before?
FIONA: Cause only men folk are preachers, and you think a man is going to tell us this piece of information?
(pause; they all consider this)
WILLEAN: Oh, she’s lying.
FIONA: I have to admit I was kind of surprised myself. But I am telling you, it’s in there.
MOTHER: Well now, I’ll fix you.
(MOTHER exits into house)
MARY RUTH: I sit in awe of the things that come out of your mouth sometime, sister.
SOPHIE: Is it really there?
FIONA: I’m pretty sure I saw it.
WILLEAN: I can think of ten reasons why you are going to burn in the bad place.
FIONA: If you and the Reverend Jones are gonna be in the good place, I will gladly take up residence elsewhere.
(MOTHER returns with Bible, hands it to FIONA)
MOTHER: Okay, Miss Smarty. You just show us. You just show us where you found this.
FIONA: This means I’m going to have to quit snapping the beans.
WILLEAN: Oh! She’ll do anything to get out of the work.
MOTHER: But if it ain’t in there, it’s going to be the root cellar for you for sure. Put you down there with the spiders and the mice. I don’t care if you are nineteen years old.
WILLEAN: She’s twenty.
FIONA: We won’t talk about that now.
WILLEAN: Old maid.
MOTHER: Far too old to be around your Mother’s house making mock. You show me this.
(FIONA puts aside the beans, opens Bible to its first page and carefully runs her finger down each verse)
MOTHER (cont’d): You see this in Genesis?
FIONA: I don’t rightly remember. I’m going to have to look.
WILLEAN: She’s just making it all up.
FIONA: Am not.
WILLEAN: Ain’t no where in the Bible it says any such thing.
FIONA: You read the Bible?
WILLEAN: Yes I have.
FIONA: Every page? Every single page?
WILLEAN: Well…pert a’near.
FIONA: Well you must have missed a page, because it’s in here.
FIONA: I’m looking. This is going to take some time.
SOPHIE: Did you see this over in minor prophets? Hardly anyone ever reads them minor prophets.
FIONA: I don’t remember. I don’t want to miss a page and wind up in the root cellar.
WILLEAN: It’s just all nonsense. She does it just so she don’t have to work.
MOTHER: Everybody hush. (with hand checks sun) I’ll give you till noon to find that. I won’t have you making mock of the Bible and then get off Scot free.
FIONA: I’ll find it. You’ll see.
MOTHER: The rest of you, get back to work.
Thanks. John Paul