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Full Online Book HomePlaysGiles Corey, Yeoman - Act 1
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Giles Corey, Yeoman - Act 1 Post by :Randaril Category :Plays Author :Mary E Wilkins Freeman Date :May 2012 Read :3245

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Giles Corey, Yeoman - Act 1

Act I

Scene I

_Salem Village. Living-room in Giles Corey's _house. Olive Corey _is spinning. Nancy Fox, _the old servant, sits in the fireplace paring apples. Little Phoebe Morse, _on a stool beside her, is knitting a stocking._

Phoebe (_starting_). What is that? Oh, Olive, what is that?

Nancy. Yes, what is that? Massy, what a clatter!

Olive (_spinning_). I heard naught. Be not so foolish, child. And you, Nancy, be of a surety old enough to know better.

Nancy. I trow there was a clatter in the chimbly. There 'tis again! Massy, what a screech!

Phoebe (_running to Olive _and clinging to her_). Oh, Olive, what is it? what is it? Don't let it catch me. Oh, Olive!

Olive. I tell you 'twas naught.

Nancy. Them that won't hear be deafer than them that's born so. Massy, what a screech!

Phoebe. Oh, Olive, Olive! Don't let 'em catch me!

Olive. Nobody wants to catch you. Be quiet now, and I'll sing to you. Then you won't think you hear screeches.

Nancy. We won't, hey?

Olive. Be quiet! This folly hath gone too far. (_Sings spinning song._)

SPINNING SONG.

"I'll tell you a story; a story of one,
'Twas of a great prince whose name was King John.
A great prince was he, and a man of great might
In putting down wrong and in setting up right.
To my down, down, down, derry down."


Nancy. Massy, what screeches! (_Screams violently._

Phoebe. Oh, Nancy, 'twas you screeched then.

Nancy. It wasn't me; 'twas a witch in the chimbly. (_Screams again._) There, hear that, will ye? I tell ye 'twa'n't me. I 'ain't opened my mouth.

Olive. Nancy, I will bear no more of this. If you be not quiet, I will tell my mother when she comes home. Now, Phoebe, sing the rest of the song with me, and think no more of such folly. (_Sings with Phoebe.)

"This king, being a mind to make himself merry,
He sent for the Bishop of Canterbury.
'Good-morning, Mr. Bishop,' the king did say.
'Have you come here for to live or to die?'
To my down, down, down, derry down.

"'For if you can't answer to my questions three,
Your head shall be taken from your body;
And if you can't answer unto them all right,
Your head shall be taken from your body quite.'
To my down, down, down, derry down."


Nancy (_wagging her head in time to the music_). I know some words that go better with that tune.

Phoebe. What are they?

Nancy. Oh, I'm forbid to tell.

Phoebe. Who forbade you to tell, Nancy?

Nancy. The one who forbade me to tell, forbade me to tell who told me.

Olive. Don't gossip, or you won't get your stints done before mother comes home.

Phoebe (_sulkily_). I won't finish my stint. Aunt Corey set me too long a stint. I won't. Oh, there she is now! (_Knits busily._

_Enter Ann Hutchins.

Olive (_rising_). Well done, Ann. I was but now wishing to see you. Sit you down and lay off your cloak. Why, how pale you look, Ann! Are you sick?

Ann. You know best.

Olive. I? Why, what mean you, Ann?

Ann. You know what I mean, in spite of your innocent looks. Oh, open your eyes wide at me, if you want to! Perhaps you don't know what makes them bigger and bluer than they used to be.

Olive. Ann!

Ann. Oh, I mean nothing. I am not sick. Something frightened me as I came through the wood.

Olive. Frightened you! Why, what was it?

Phoebe. Oh, what was it, Ann?

Ann. I know not; something black that hustled quickly by me and raised a cold wind.

Phoebe. Oh, oh!

Olive. 'Twas a cat or a dog, and your own fear raised the cold wind. Think no more of it, Ann. Wait a moment while I go to the north room. I have something to show you. (_Exit Olive _with a candle._

Phoebe. What said the black thing to you, Ann?

Ann. I know not.

Nancy. Said it not: "Serve me; serve me?"

Ann. I know not. I was deaf with fear.

Phoebe. Oh, Ann, did it have horns?

Ann. I tell you I know not. You pester me, child.

Phoebe. Did it have hoofs and a tail?

Ann. Be quiet, I tell you, or I'll cuff your ears.

Nancy. She needn't be so topping. It will be laying in wait for her when she goes home. I'll warrant it won't let her off so easy.

_Enter Olive, _bringing an embroidered muslin cape. She puts it gently over Ann's _shoulders._

Ann (_throwing it off violently_). Oh! oh! Take it away! take it away!

Olive. Why, Ann, what ails you?

Ann. Take it away, I say! What mean you by your cursed arts?

Olive. Why, Ann! I have been saving a long time to buy it for you. 'Tis like my last summer's cape that you fancied so much. I sent by father to Boston for it.

Ann. I need it not.

Olive. I thought 'twould suit well with your green gown.

Ann. 'Twill suit well enough with a green gown, but not with a sore heart.

Nancy. I miss my guess but it 'll suit well enough with her heart too. I trow that's as green as her gown; green's the jealous color.

Olive. You be all unstrung by your walk hither through the wood, Ann. I'll fold the cape up nicely for you, and you can take it when you go home. And mind you wear it next Sabbath day, sweet. Now I must to my wheel again, or I shall not finish my stint by nine o'clock.

Ann. Your looks show that you were up later than nine o'clock last night.

Phoebe. Oh, Ann, did you see the light in the fore room?

Ann. That did I. I stood at my chamber and saw it shine through the wood.

Nancy. You couldn't see so far without spectacles.

Ann. It blinded me. I could get no sleep.

Nancy. You think your eyes are mighty sharp. Maybe your ears are too? Maybe you heard 'em kissing at the door when he went home?

Olive. Nancy, be quiet!

Nancy. You needn't color up and shake your head at me, Olive. They stood kissing there nigh an hour, and he with his arm round her waist, and she with hers round his neck. They'd kiss, then they'd eye each other and kiss again. I know I woke up and thought 'twas Injuns, and I peeked out of my chamber window. Such doings! You'd ought to have seen 'em, Ann.

Phoebe. Oh, Nancy, why didn't you wake me up?

Olive. Nancy, I'll have no more of this.

Nancy. That's what she ought to have said last night--hadn't she, Ann? But she didn't. Oh, I'll warrant she didn't! I know you would, Ann.

Olive. Nancy! (_A noise is heard outside._

Phoebe. Oh, what's that noise? What is coming?

_Enter Giles Corey, _panting. He flings the door to violently and slips the bolt._

Nancy. Massy! what's after ye?

Phoebe. Oh, Uncle Corey, what's the matter?

Giles. The matter is there be too many evil things abroad nowadays for a man to be out after nightfall. When things that can be hit by musket balls lay in wait, old Giles Corey is as brave as any man; but when it comes to devilish black beasts and black men that musket balls bound back from--What! you here, Ann Hutchins? What be you out after dark for?

Ann. I came over to see Olive, Goodman Corey.

Giles. You'd best stayed by your own hearth if you've got one. Young women have no call to be out gadding after dark in these times.

Phoebe. Oh, Uncle Corey, something did frighten Ann as she came through the wood. A black beast, with horns and a tail and eyes like balls of fire, jumped out of the bushes at her, and bade her sign the book in a dreadful voice.

Giles. What! Was't so, Ann?

Ann. I know not. There was something.

Olive (_laughing_). 'Twas naught but Ann's own shadow that her fear gave a voice and a touch to. Say naught to frighten Ann, father; she is the most timorous maid in Salem Village now.

Giles. There is some wisdom in fear nowadays. You make too light of it, lass.

Olive (_laughing_). Nay, father, I'll turn to and hang up my own shadow in the chimbly-place for a witch, an you say so.

Giles. This be no subject for jest. Said you the black beast spoke to you, Ann?

Ann. I know not. Once I thought I heard Olive calling. I know not what I heard.

Giles. You'd best have stayed at home. Where is your mother, Olive?

Olive. She has gone to Goodwife Bishop's with a basket of eggs.

Giles. Gone three miles to Goodwife Bishop's this time of night? Is the woman gone out of her senses?

Olive. She is not afraid.

Giles. I'll warrant she is not afraid. So much the worse for her. Mayhap she's gone riding on a broomstick herself. How is the cat?

Olive. She is better.

Giles. She was taken strangely, if your mother did make light of it. And the ox, hath he fell down again?

Olive. Not that I have heard.

Giles. The ox was taken strangely, if your mother did pooh at it. The ox was better when she went out of the yard.

Phoebe. There's Aunt Corey now. Who is she talking to?

_Enter Martha Corey.

Phoebe. Who were you talking to, Aunt Corey?

Martha. Nobody, child. Good-evening, Ann.

Phoebe. I heard you talking to somebody, Aunt Corey.

Martha. Be quiet, child. I was talking to nobody. You hear too much nowadays. (_Takes off her cloak._

Nancy. Mayhap she hears more than folk want her to. I heard a voice too, a gruff voice like a pig's.

Giles. I thought I heard talking too. Who was it, Martha?

Martha. I tell you 'twas no one. Are you all out of your wits? (_Gets some knitting-work out of a cupboard and seats herself._

Phoebe. Weren't you afraid coming through the wood, Aunt Corey?

Martha (_laughing_). Afraid? Why, no, child. Of what should I be afraid?

Giles. I trow there's plenty to be afraid of. How did you get home so quick? 'Tis a good three miles to Goody Bishop's.

Martha. I walked at a good speed.

Giles. I thought perhaps you galloped a broomstick.

Martha. Nay, goodman, I know not how to manage such a strange steed.

Giles. I thought perhaps one had taught you, inasmuch as you have naught to say against the gentry that ride the broomstick of a night.

Martha. Fill not the child's head with such folly. How fares your mother, Ann?

Ann. Well, Goodwife Corey.

Giles. She lacks sense, or she would have kept her daughter at home. Out after nightfall, and the woods full of the devil knoweth what.

Martha. Nay, goodman, there be no danger. The scouts are in the fields.

Giles. I meant not Injuns. There be worse than Injuns. There be evil things and witches!

Martha (_laughing_). Witches! Goodman, you are a worse child than Phoebe here.

Giles. I tell ye, wife, you talk like a fool, ranting thus against witches. I would you had been where I have been to-night, and heard the afflicted maids cry out in torment, being set upon by Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn. I would you had seen Mercy Lewis strangled almost to death, and the others testifying 'twas Sarah Good thus afflicting her. But I'll warrant you'd not have believed them.

Martha (_laughing_). That I would not, goodman. I would have said that the maids should be sent home and soundly trounced, then put to bed, with a quart bowl of sage tea apiece.

Giles. Talk so if you will. One of these days folk will say you be a witch yourself. You were ever hard-skulled, and could knock your head long against a truth without being pricked by it. Hold out if you can, when only this morning the ox and the cat were took so strangely here in our own household.

Martha. Shame on you, goodman! The ox and the cat themselves would laugh at you. The cat ate a rat, and it did not set well on her stomach, and the ox slipped in the mire in the yard.

Nancy. 'Twas more than that. I know, I know.

Giles. Laugh if you will, wife. Mayhap you know more about it than other folk. You never could abide the cat. I am going to bed, if I can first go to prayer. Last night the words went from me strangely! But you will laugh at that. (_Lights a candle. Exit._

Phoebe. Aunt Corey, may I eat an apple?

Martha. Not to-night. 'Twill give you the nightmare.

Phoebe. No, 'twill not.

Martha. Be still!

_There is a knock. Olive _opens the door. Enter Paul Bayley. Ann _starts up._

Paul. Good-evening, goodwife. Good-evening, Olive. Good-evening, Ann. 'Tis a fine night out.

Ann. I must be going; 'tis late.

Olive. Nay, Ann, 'tis not late. Wait, and Paul will go home with you through the wood.

Ann. I must be going.

Paul (_hesitatingly_). Then let me go with you, Mistress Ann! I can well do my errand here later.

Ann. Nay, I can wait whilst you do the errand, if you are speedy. I fear lest the delay would make you ill at ease.

Martha (_quickly_). There is no need, Paul. I will go with Ann. I want to borrow a hood pattern of Goodwife Nourse on the way.

Paul. But will you not be afraid, goodwife?

Martha. Afraid, and the moon at a good half, and only a short way to go?

Paul. But you have to go through the wood.

Martha. The wood! A stretch as long as this room--six ash-trees, one butternut, and a birch sapling thrown in for a witch spectre. Say no more, Paul. Sit you down and keep Olive company. I will go, if only for the sake of showing these silly little hussies that there is no call for a gospel woman with prayer in her heart to be afraid of anything but the wrath of God. (_Puts a blanket over her head._

Ann. I want no company at all, Goodwife Corey.

Phoebe. Aunt Corey, let me go, too; my stint is done.

Martha. Nay, you must to bed, and Nancy too. Off with ye, and no words.

Nancy. I'm none so old that I must needs be sent to bed like a babe, I'd have you know that, Goody Corey. (_Sets away apple pan; exit, with Phoebe _following sulkily._

Martha. Come, Ann.

Ann. I want no company. I have more fear with company than I have alone.

Martha. Along with you, child.

Olive. Oh, Ann, you are forgetting your cape. Here, mother, you carry it for her. Good-night, sweetheart.

Ann. I want no company, Goodwife Corey. (Martha _takes her laughingly by the arm and leads her out._

Paul. It is a fine night out.

Olive. So I have heard.

Paul. You make a jest of me, Mistress Olive. Know you not when a man is of a sudden left alone with a fair maid, he needs to try his speech like a player his fiddle, to see if it be in good tune for her ears; and what better way than to sound over and over again the praise of the fine weather? What ailed Ann that she seemed so strangely, Olive?

Olive. I know not. I think she had been overwrought by coming alone through the woods.

Paul. She seemed ill at ease. Why spin you so steadily, Olive?

Olive. I must finish my stint.

Paul. Who set you a stint as if you were a child?

Olive. Mine own conscience, to which I will ever be a child.

Paul. Cease spinning, sweetheart.

Olive. Nay.

Paul. Come over here on the settle, there is something I would tell thee.

Olive. Tell it, then. I can hear a distance of three feet or so.

Paul. I know thou canst, but come.

Olive. Nay, I will not. This is no courting night. I cannot idle every night in the week.

Paul. Thou wouldst make a new commandment. A maid shall spin flax every night in the week save the Sabbath, when she shall lay aside her work and be courted. There be young men here in Salem Village, though you may credit it not, Olive, who visit their maids twice every week, and have the fire in the fore room kindled.

Olive. My mother thinks it not well that I should sit up oftener than once a week, nor do I; but be not vexed by it, Paul.

Paul. I love thee better for it, sweetheart.

Olive. My stint is done.

Paul. Then come. (_She obeys._) Now for the news. This morning I bought of Goodman Nourse his nine-acre lot for a homestead. What thinkest thou of that?

Olive. It is a pleasant spot.

Paul. 'Tis not far from here, and thou wilt be near thy mother.

Olive. Was it not too costly?

Paul. I had saved enough to pay for it, and in another year's time, and I have the help of God in it, I shall have saved enough for our house. What thinkest thou of a gambrel-roof and a lean-to, two square front rooms, both fire-rooms, and a living-room? And peonies and hollyhocks in the front yard, and two popple-trees, one on each side of the gate?

Olive. We shall need not a lean-to, Paul, and one fire-room will serve us well; but I will have laylocks and red and white roses as well as peonies and hollyhocks in the front yard, and some mint under the windows to make the house smell sweet; and I like well the popple-trees at the gate.

Paul. The house shall be built of fairly seasoned yellow pine wood, with a summer tree in every room, and fine panel-work in the doors and around the chimbleys.

Olive. Nay, Paul, not too fine panel-work; 'twill cost too high.

Paul. Cupboards in every room, and fine-laid white floors.

Olive. We need a cupboard in the living-room only, but I have learned to sand a floor in a rare pattern. (Paul _attempts to embrace Olive. _She repulses him._

Paul. I trow you are full provident of favors and pence, Olive.

Olive. I would save them for thee, Paul.

Paul. And thou shalt not be hindered by me to any harm, sweetheart. Was't thy mother taught thee such wisdom, or thine own self, Olive?

Olive. 'Twas my mother.

Paul. Nay, 'twas thine own heart; that shall teach me, too. (_Nine-o'clock bell rings._

Olive. Oh, 'tis nine o'clock, and 'tis not a courting night. Paul, be off; thou must! (_They jump up and go to the door._

Paul (_putting his arm around Olive). Give me but one kiss, Olive, albeit not a courting night, for good speed on my homeward walk and my to-morrow's journey.

Olive. Where go you to-morrow, Paul?

Paul. To Boston, for a week's time or more.

Olive. Oh, Paul, there may be Injuns on the Boston path! Thou wilt be wary?

Paul (_laughing_). Have no fear for me, sweetheart. I shall have my musket.

Olive. A week?

Paul. 'Tis a short time, but long enough to need sweetening with a kiss when folk are absent from one another.

Olive (_kisses him_). Oh, be careful, Paul!

Paul. Fear not for me, sweetheart, but do thou too be careful, for sometimes danger sneaks at home, when we flee it abroad. Keep away from this witchcraft folly. Good-by, sweetheart. (_They part. Olive _sets a candle in the window after Paul's _exit. Nine-o'clock bell still rings as curtain falls._

 


Scene II.

_Twelve o'clock at night. Living-room at Giles Corey's _house, lighted only by the moon and low fire-light. Enter Nancy Fox _with a candle, Phoebe _following with a large rag doll. Nancy _sets the candle on the dresser._

Nancy. Be ye sure that Goody Corey is asleep, and Goodman Corey?

Phoebe (_dances across to the door, which she opens slightly, and listens_). They be both a-snoring. Hasten and begin, I pray you, Nancy.

Nancy. And Olive?

Phoebe. She is asleep, and she is in the south chamber, and could not hear were she awake. Here is my doll. Now show me how to be a witch. Quick, Nancy!

Nancy. Whom do you desire to afflict?

Phoebe (_considers_). Let me see. I will afflict Uncle Corey, because he brought me naught from Boston to-day; Olive, because she gave that cape to Ann instead of me; and Aunt Corey, because she set me such a long stint, because she would not let me eat an apple to-night, and because she sent me to bed. I want to stick one pin into Uncle Corey, one into Olive, and three into Aunt Corey.

Nancy. Take the doll, prick it as you will, and say who the pricks be for. (Phoebe _sticks a pin into the doll._

Phoebe. This pin be for Uncle Corey, and this pin be for Olive, and this pin for Aunt Corey, and this pin for Aunt Corey, and this pin for Aunt Corey. Pins! pins!! pins!!! (_Dances._) In truth, Nancy, 'tis rare sport being a witch; but I stuck not in the pins very far, lest they be too sorely hurt.

Nancy. Is there any other whom you desire to afflict?

Phoebe. I fear I know not any other who has angered me, and I could weep for 't. Stay! I'll afflict Ann, because she hath the cape; and I'll afflict Paul Bayley, because I'm drove forth from the fore room Sabbath nights when he comes a-courting; and I'll afflict Minister Parris, because he put me too hard a question from the catechism; that makes three more. Oh, 'tis rare sport! (_Seizes the doll and sticks in three pins._) This pin be for Ann, this pin be for Paul, and this pin be for Minister Parris. Deary me, I can think of no more! What next, Nancy?

Nancy. I'll do some witchcraft now. I desire to afflict your aunt Corey, because she doth drive me hither and thither like a child, and sets no value on my understanding; Olive, because she made a jest of me; and Goody Bishop, because she hath a fine silk hood.

Phoebe. Here is the doll, Nancy.

Nancy. Nay, I have another way, which you be too young to understand. (Nancy _takes the candle, goes to the fireplace, and courtesies three times, looking up the chimney._

Nancy. Hey, black cat! hey, my pretty black cat! Go ye and sit on Goody Corey's breast, and claw her if she stirs. Do as I bid ye, my pretty black cat, and I'll sign the book.

Phoebe. Oh, Nancy, I hear the black cat yawl!

Nancy (_after courtesying three times_). Hey, black dog! hey, my pretty black dog! Go ye and howl in Mistress Olive's ear, so she be frighted in her dreams, and so get a little bitter with the sweet. Do as I bid ye, my pretty black dog, and I'll sign the book.

Phoebe. Oh, Nancy, I hear the black dog howl!

Nancy (_after courtesying three times_). Hey, yellow bird! hey, my pretty yellow bird! Go ye and peck at Goody Bishop's fine silk hood and tear it to bits. Do as I bid ye, my pretty yellow bird, and I'll sign the book.

Phoebe. Oh, Nancy, I hear the yellow bird twitter up chimbly!

Nancy. 'Tis rare witchcraft.

Phoebe. Is that all, Nancy?

Nancy. All of this sort. I've given them all they can do to-night.

Phoebe. Then sing the witch song, Nancy.

Nancy. I'll sing the witch song, and you can dance on the table.

Phoebe. But 'tis sinful to dance, Nancy!

Nancy. 'Tis not sinful for a witch.

Phoebe. True; I forgot I was a witch. (_Gets upon the table and dances, dangling her doll, while Nancy _sings._

WITCH SONG.

(Same air as Spinning Song.)

"I'll tell you a story, a story of one;
'Twas of a dark witch, and the wizard her son.
A dark witch was she, and a dark wizard he,
With yellow birds singing so gay and so free.
To my down, down, down, derry down.

"The clock was a-striking, a-striking of one.
The witches came out, and the dancing begun.
They courtesied so fine, and they drank the red wine--
The wizards were three and the witches were nine.
To my down, down, down, derry down.

"Halloo, the gay dancers! Halloo, I was one;
The goody that prayed and the maiden that spun!
The yellow birds chirped in the boughs overhead,
And fast through the bushes the black dog sped.
To my down, down, down, derry down."
(_A noise is heard. Phoebe _jumps down from the table._

Phoebe. Oh, Nancy, something's coming! Run, run quick, or it 'll catch us! (_Both run out. Curtain falls.

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