Epic tale in twelve scenes with no scenery set in Scotland, Ireland and the New World based on a legend in the author’s family. A broken romance, a blood feud, and fate, which always makes certain each of us will have to shoulder one unique burden in life, the one most uniquely difficult for each of us to bear.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Scene Six: In order to settle a long standing feud two families meet to parley
(drinks are poured)
UNCLE WILLIAM: Mr. MacQuillin…
ANGUS: Call me Angus.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Sir, I have a daughter. Arlena. And she is ready for marriage.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Now I will tell you true, she has had bad luck with men.
ROY: The first man she was to marry, fell from a horse and broke his neck.
UNCLE WILLIAM: The second man she was to marry, was caught out upon the road in the rain, took a chill and died.
ANGUS: So why would I want this bad luck woman to marry into my family?
UNCLE WILLIAM: She is my favorite daughter, and it breaks my heart to see her mourn so.
ANGUS: This should be my affair?
UNCLE WILLIAM: She is comely.
ROY: Very pretty.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Not deserving of the misfortune that has come to her.
ANGUS: Do any of us deserve misfortune?
MACDUFF: Some more than others.
RANKIN: Some more than all.
UNCLE WILLIAM: But not my Arlena. A heart of pure gold.
ANGUS: Then she should have no trouble finding a husband.
MACDUFF: Indeed, she does not.
ROY: She does not.
UNCLE WILLIAM: But she saw one of your sons from her window.
UNCLE WILLIAM: His name is Thomas I believe.
ANGUS: Oh. (looks around, realizes) Well, he’s not here today.
FRANK: That’s right. He’s off.
RANKIN: On an errand.
UNCLE WILLIAM: This son of yours, this Thomas, is he a good man?
UNCLE WILLIAM: Is he honest?
UNCLE WILLIAM: A good worker?
ANGUS: Well, if beaten.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Pardon?
ANGUS: He can work. All us MacQuillins can work.
UNCLE WILLIAM: These two young people, they should meet.
ANGUS: Of course they should meet.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Soon.
ANGUS: Very soon. But I am sure you are knowing, sir, that marriage is heavy burden on a man.
UNCLE WILLIAM: If there is a marriage between my daughter and your son, then we will give to them as their very own, that land we now dispute.
ANGUS: You mean the land that should be ours anyway?
UNCLE WILLIAM: And I will gift to them on their wedding day, as well as to you, sir, twenty fine sheep.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Forty, altogether.
ROY: Twenty for you, twenty for them.
UNCLE WILLIAM: And a nice little cottage I would help them build.
UNCLE WILLIAM: As well as a case of whiskey.
ANGUS: A case?
UNCLE WILLIAM: All right. Two cases.
ANGUS: How many jugs come in a case?
ANGUS: Ah! That would be… (counts on his fingers)
ANGUS: Twelve altogether!
UNCLE WILLIAM: And this is a way we can settle the differences between us, as well as throw a huge feast in the bargain.
ANGUS: We won’t have to drink my whiskey, will we, at this feast?
UNCLE WILLIAM: Of course not.
ROY: We will bring the drink and won’t be stingy.
UNCLE WILLIAM: A feast like you have never seen.
MACDUFF: The MacDuffs are good at such things.
UNCLE WILLIAM: So what say you?
ANGUS: Well now. (considers) The sun is out. It is a beautiful day. And I believe this is “nearly” a fair bargain.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Nearly?
ANGUS: (sighs) It is a great burden to lose a son such as Thomas.
FRANK: A good worker.
ANGUS: And I believe he would make a fine husband for your daughter.
FRANK: Hard worker.
RANKIN: Let’s not overdo it, Frank.
ANGUS: So we might be needing just a little bit more, to set this whole matter right.
MACDUFF: The price is too steep.
UNCLE WILLIAM: That is for me to say, Joseph. (pauses) If this Thomas is a good man, and he and my daughter are married, I will not only give all that I have already promised, I will let you have use of the small pasture across the road.
MACDUFF: It is too much, William.
RANKIN: You must truly love your daughter.
MACDUFF: He has to.
ROY: She has episodes, you know.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Roy!
UNCLE WILLIAM: There is nothing wrong with my daughter.
ANGUS: I’m sure there isn’t.
MACDUFF: Not a girl in Ulster comes with such a dowry.
ANGUS: But you’ll be getting MacQuillin blood in your family, and from the likes of it I can tell you need it.
UNCLE WILLIAM: What say you, sir?
ANGUS: I say these two young lovers, this future man and wife, they should meet.
UNCLE WILLIAM: That would be good. The day before Sabbath of this coming week, you will come to my place, and there we will throw a feast.
ANGUS: A little get together of the clans.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Aye.
ANGUS: It is good. It is good this is happening.
UNCLE WILLIAM: You will talk to your son?
ANGUS: Ohh, I will talk to him.
UNCLE WILLIAM: I wish he were here now so I could meet him. Look him square in the eye.
ANGUS: There will be time enough for that.
UNCLE WILLIAM: Good. Much was accomplished here today.
ANGUS: Indeed it was.
UNCLE WILLIAM: And if all works well, why this summer, a wedding.
ANGUS: And we shall be related. (pauses) That does give a man pause.
UNCLE WILLIAM: It shall be fine.
ANGUS: Indeed it shall. (goes to him) Now admit it, MacDuff, now that you can. You moved the marker and took that piece of land.
MACDUFF: (a near acknowledgment) Heh. Let’s go, Roy.
(MACDUFF and ROY exit)
ANGUS: Ha! Knew it! Mr. William, a pleasure. A rare pleasure indeed.
UNCLE WILLIAM: We shall see you, sir.
ANGUS: Oh, very soon, sir. Good day to you.
(UNCLE WILLIAM exits)
ANGUS (cont’d) By God’s pajamas, we have done it!
MARY: Don’t use such language.
FRANK: Who would have thought Thomas would ever turn out to be so valuable?
(ANGUS and FRANK laugh)
RANKIN: I don’t know, pa.
ANGUS: Don’t know? I am amazed he has turned out to be good for anything at all.
FRANK: And the bargain you drove, pa.
ANGUS: Getting the pasture across the road!
ANGUS: Oh, I can drive a sharp one when I have to.
MARY: They say she has episodes.
ANGUS: What is an episode? What does that even mean?
RANKIN: She might be mad.
FRANK: She is not.
ANGUS: She couldn’t be.
RANKIN: Why give so much if she isn’t? Why so load her down with spoils if she isn’t somehow …touched?
TEAGUE: Yonder comes Thomas.
ANGUS: Oh, late as always.
TEAGUE: I will run tell him the news.
RANKIN: Surely they could get another bride groom for less. Why pay so much? And for Thomas?
ANGUS: Why are you always so gloomy?
RANKIN: I don’t know, pa. It comes from thinking.
ANGUS: We have a chance to be related to the richest people in the district and you say don’t know?
RANKIN: A distillery is not a good enough reason to arrange a marriage.
FRANK: But land is.
MARY: And to have a little peace, that is worth it.
ANGUS: Not a day’s work have I gotten out of Thomas. Ever! So now he can do his part to help this family and marry this girl.
(THOMAS enters, followed by TEAGUE
THOMAS: So. I am to marry Arlena MacDuff?
ANGUS: You will meet her, yes.
THOMAS: What makes you think I will marry a woman I have never even met?
ANGUS: You will meet her.
THOMAS: A year ago I was ready to marry Maeve.
ANGUS: That was a year ago.
THOMAS: Oh, but I could not marry her because you had a fight with her family. But now I can marry Arlena? Even though her family tried to cheat you?
ANGUS: There is much involved in this, young man.
THOMAS: Teague has told me what is involved.
ANGUS: Fine pieces of land.
THOMAS: I don’t care.
ANGUS: You will care!
THOMAS: I will not marry this mutt! I will not marry this Arlena MacDuff!
TEAGUE: She is not a mutt.
MARY: Son, please now. They are a clan far bigger than us.
FRANK: You are young and don’t know the pleasures of marriage.
THOMAS: I know the pleasures of women, if not of marriage.
MARY: And it is time to stop that kind of sinning, son.
ANGUS: Do you think the Lord God will bless you, if you keep carrying on like you do?
RANKIN: Remember what the church teaches, Thomas. A good time is nearly always followed by pain or death.
RANKIN: Or occasionally worse, marriage.
MARY: Oh, shut up.
THOMAS: It will be my choice who I want to settle with.
FRANK: In the old days, there was none of this meeting before marriage.
MARY: Son, please.
TEAGUE: She is not so bad.
THOMAS: Not so bad?
TEAGUE: She is not so bad at all. We saw her that day, Thomas.
THOMAS: She is strange and holds her head like this.
TEAGUE: She was up in the window, far away, how can you tell?
RANKIN: They say she has episodes.
THOMAS: What kind?
RANKIN: I don’t know. Maybe she chews her hair.
FRANK: They say she is a pretty woman.
TEAGUE: She is!
FRANK: So there. She is not some hag. You will learn to love her.
ANGUS: With that dowry, she could have the pick of all Ulster as her very own. And she chooses you.
RANKIN: She must be mad.
FRANK: She must.
TEAGUE: Meet her, Thomas.
ANGUS: You will meet her, that’s all I am saying.
MARY: And you will do your best to be a kind and good gentleman to this woman.
FRANK: There is a feast in this. Come on now.
THOMAS: (considers) All right. I will meet her.
THOMAS: If you wish to sell out the family honor for just a few sheep…
FRANK: (gives his brother a drink) Sheep and land and whiskey.
MARY: And peace.
ANGUS: I am well satisfied with the bargain that has been struck.
THOMAS: This is good whiskey.
MARY: It is their very own.
THOMAS: (signals for more whiskey) So, you are saying there will not be a war between us and them?
ANGUS: That’s what I am saying.
THOMAS: A pity.
ANGUS: Thomas, I am no longer young and do not wish to get up every morning and fight
the world. Let your father have a happy old age, boy, with his two cases of whiskey.
THOMAS: I will meet her.
THOMAS: But beyond that I promise naught.
RANKIN: Why would they pay so much?
THOMAS: To have me? Pshaw. Of course they would pay much to have me as a husband. (he drinks)
END OF SCENE