IAMG: Scenes 16-19



Scene 16: Heriot Row

The doorbell rings / Margaret rushes down to open it / her sister Sarah, her husband Francis & their son, Charles are standing there

Margaret
Sarah, sister, welcome – do come in, how was your journey

Sarah
Pleasant enough, Peebles is not so far away at all

Margaret
& Francis, I trust you are well

Francis
Couldn’t be better – this is a fine house you have here

Margaret
Thank-you – Tom is dying to show you his study – he has these Sumerian spearheads which he says you will find fascinating

Francis
Oh, jolly good

Margaret
& how is you dear adorable Charles

Francis
Speak up Charles, tell your Aunt Margaret how are you

Charles
I’m tired & I’m hungry

Margaret
Well, I’m sure we can fix you up something to eat, but in the meantime I have someone here who is simply dying with excitement to play with you – Lewey, Lewey, come down, your cousin is here – so, you two will have the spare room & we’ve made a little camp-bed up Charles in Lewey’s bedroom, is that satisfactory for you

Sarah
Absolutely smashing, thank you

Margaret
We shall be dining at seven, here, we’ll be having venison

Sarah
Oh, you are spoiling us

Margaret
Not at all, I don’t get a visit from my favourite sister very often

Enter RLS with trepidation

Margaret
Lewey, say hello to your cousin

RLS
Hello

Francis
Don’t be so rude boy, so hello to your cousin back

Charles
Hello to your cousin

Francis
Charles

Sarah
Let’s just leave the boys to it, we’ve got a lot of family gossip to catch up on & I could do with a drink & a chit-chat

Margaret
& I too, if you would care to follow me – boys, play nice

Exit Margaret, Sarah & Francis chit-chatting

Charles
I can’t believe I’ve come to your stupid house

RLS
Well, you’re here now – do you want to play

Charles
Play what

RLS
Well, just play

Charles
Can you be more… specific

RLS
Do you want to play pirates

Charles
Pirates, how

RLS
Well, first off, we will need — swords – here, look, we can use these – now {sharp intake of breath} who is this coming to attack us {moves two chairs from the table} – Oh no! they are two English redcoats coming to take back the treasure – quickly, we must defeat them in mortal combat {RLS attacks the chairs with ‘take that you English swine’} – help me Charles, I cannot do this on my own {Charles begrudgingly joins in} – now, we are going to have to make a getaway, quickly, let’s steal two horses {RLS straddles a chair} – quickly, get on your horse, we must get out of here

They pretend to gallop away

Charles
This is fun

RLS
Hah, we are being follow’d, shoot him down with your pistol

Charles
Yes sir

RLS
You got him, well done – & look, our ship is still in the harbour

They dismount

Charles
Where is the ship

RLS
There

Charles
Where

RLS
Wait a moment

RLS gets the other two chairs out

RLS
So, if we turn this chair upside down – help me won’t you – now if we put that broomstick over there into this gap here – go get it Charles – thank you – & then – yes, this sheet is perfect – now look, our very own galleon

Charles
Gosh – very good – so then, Captain, eh, what is your name

RLS
Bloodaxe, call me Captain Bloodaxe, & you can be First Mate Jones – so all aboard with a ho-ho-ho & an off we go

Charles
Where are we sailing to cap’n?

RLS
How about the island of… Grundingia

Charles
Grundingia… where on earth is that

RLS
It is an island off the coast off Nosingtonia

Charles
Nosingtonia!

RLS
Wait, I actually have a map – I drew it this morning before you came, just in case we wanted to go on a quest to find some treasure buried on an island – X marks the spot, we need to sail to that bay there, for on this island Captain Kidd left gold & silver & jewels

Charles
How much gold & silver & jewels

RLS
So much it would fill this room from its floor to the roof

Charles
Gosh

THE LITTLE BOAT

We built a boat below the stairs
All made of kitchen table chairs,
And filled it full of sofa pillows
To go a-sailing on the billows.

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Captain Bloodaxe, “said lets take
An apple and a slice of cake;”—
Which was enough for Charles and me
To go a-sailing on, till tea.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
To where other little children
Shall bring their boats ashore.

We sailed along for days and days,
And had the very best of plays;

{Charles falls off the chair, calls out in pain, Francis comes & carries him away}

But Charles fell out and hurt his knee,
So, there was no one left but me.



Scene 17

Heriot Row / Margaret, Tom, Sarah & Francis are drinking wine after dining & playing cards

Francis
Well, I am glad that damnable war in the Crimea is over – a putrefying away – the poor sioldiers, more of them died from disease than from the Russians

Margaret
I do love Tennyson’s poem, tho’, the one about the Charge of the Light Brigade, it rolls off the tongue so well

Sarah
Oh, do sing it for us then

Margaret
No, I cannot

Francis
Yes, you can, of course you can, here, have a drink of this delicious wine, & well, sing!

Tom
Yes, go on darling, you perform a stirring version

Margaret
Well, if you all insist

Sarah
We do

Margaret
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashing their sabre’s smile
Smashing thro rank & file
Slashing an army, while
Then shatter’d and sunder’d,
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Brave horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that were live to tell of the six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O what a charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Tom
Bravo

Francis
Yes, very good – madame, I salute you

Sarah
Well done, sister

Francis
The vigour in your voice transports us to the very spot, it is as if one is actually galloping towards those brutal Russian guns

Sarah
I head the entire, well, heroic debacle was perform’d in complete error – they had apparently charg’d the wrong guns

Tom
Those poor, poor soldiers

Sarah
& the horses, don’t forget the horses

Margaret
Yes, of course – & let us not forget the parents also, losing such find sons in their youthful prime – there are no winners in war, except perhaps, the Kings & governments who win, the rets of us must suffer

Tom
So, Francis, Sarah, you seem to appreciate poetry, but what about prose, we do like a good novel in this house

Francis
We read all the moderns

Sarah
I am rather fond of Jane Austen

Margaret
Oh, isn’t she marvellous – & what about Jane Eyre, have you read it

Tom
Ah, the Brontes – what a communal sorority of romance & acute insight into the human conditions are shar’d by those particular sisters

Francis
Yes, they are rather good, aren’t they – & what about the great debate itself, English literature’s very own Constable versus Turner tussle – is it to be Thackery or Dickens who claims the laurel wreath of our heavyweight division

Margaret
There is a simple solution fo that
{Margaret coughs a hacking cough}
Sorry about that… where was I – Oh yes, it will have to be Thackery for me… the problem with dickens is, despite all his watchfulness of men and manners, with all his fiery industry, he can never create a gentleman –– novel after novel, a whole menagerie of characters, the good the bad & the tragic, came at his beck & call like slaves about an oriental despot – but there is always one who stayed away – the gentleman

Tom
What about David Copperfield

Margaret
Ah – there is always one exception, but he soon return’d to type with Dombey & Dorrit – no, it will have to be Thackery

Sarah
Yes, his Rose & the Ring is quite charming – have you read it

Tom
Yes, we have, together by the fire last Christmas

Francis
We did rather much the same – it was a splendid pantomime

Margaret
To William Makepiece Thackery – the greatest living writer of the age

The company toasts Thackery’s health

Francis
But how would you even describe this gentleman who remained elusive to even Dickens’ precocious powers

Margaret
Well – it is nothing to do with the antique opinion that one is born into nobility – no it is more about the qualities that define him – he has virtues not vices, he has fortitude, not fragility, he has an ability o l;obe, to display affections, his decency, his generosity, his, well, numerous other qualities that have nothing to do with the kirk

Sarah
Well, I think we have done well, dear sister, we seem to have acquir’d two of the best specimen of gentlemen ourselves

Enter Cummy

Cummy
That is the children asleep

Francis
How is Charles’s knee

Cummy
Tightly wrapp’d – it will be fine – wait, what are those

Margaret
What

Cummy
Those, there, on the table

Tom
The newspapers?

Cummy
No – the cards, the playing cards

Tom
We were playing wist

Cummy
Wist! But cards are the devil’s books & to even touch them on the sabbath – I have never seen the like & hah! you are also drinking wine

Tom
Yes, Alison, we are drinking wine, the standard & long customary social procession which follows a fine dinner

Cummy
No – no – no – no – no – this is a house in which there are children residing, & being brought up, this place might as well be a brothel for the sins taking place under its roof

Tom
I beg your pardon

Margaret
Steady on Cummy, you are forgetting your station here

Cummy
My station here is it, well, if that is the case, it is clear that I cannot continue in such a den of iniquity – your souls might be damn’d, & I shall be saying a fervent prayer for them, but you will not be dragging me down with you to Hell, not if I can help it

Exit Cummy, upset

Sarah
Good heavens, Margaret, what was all that about

Margaret
I am not sure – I have never seen her like that before

Tom
She is more than forthright in her opinions

Sarah
How is she with your son, I mean, she seems a little strict

Margaret
Well, he insists on a most rigorous observance of her moral code – it does teach him a certain discipline, & we all need religion in our lives, so I rarely get involved, especially with her excelling in every other field – she really is a sparkle

Tom
At times, however, I think his constant reception of her Christian mantras somewhat subverts our authority

Margaret
I do hope she will be alright

Tom
I’m sure she will darling, let her calm down, you know what she’s like, especially on a Sunday

Margaret
Yes, of course

Margaret coughs a long, hacking & exhausting cough

Sarah
Are you alright?

Margaret
Och – its just this damnable cough – it’s exhausting, but, it will pass eventually, they always do

Sarah
You should try some oil of the eucalyptus tree pour’d into hot water, the fumes are wonderful for moving the mucus

Francis
Interesting news from Nepal, isn’t it

Tom
Nepal, what news

Francis
Well, the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India has discover’d the highest mountain on the entire planet

Tom
They have

Francis
Yes – it is call’d Peak Fifteen, but I’m sure it will be given a less formal name in the near future

Margaret
How high is the mountain

Francis
Over 29,000 feet, in Scottish terms, that’s about six Ben Nevis’s stack’d one on top of the other

Margaret
Gosh

Sarah
It is twice the size as any in the Alps – the sight must simply takes one’s breath away

Enter Cummy, pack’d & ready to leave

Cummy
Ehm – Mr Stevenson, Mrs Stevenson, I must thank you very much for letting me work in your home, but I must now tender my resignation – goodbye

Margaret
Wait – Alison, – where are you going

Cummy
I am leaving – the Devil has hour souls

Tom
Ms Cunninghame – the Devil does not have our souls in any way

Margaret
Please don’t leave us in such a fashion – & what about little Lewey – it would break his heart

Cummy pauses in her tracks

Tom
Why don’t we retire to the…. Library, I have recently acquir’d some fine, leather-bound editions of Miss Austen

Francis
Yes, yes, good idea Tom… coming, Sarah?

Sarah
Yes

Exit Tom, Francis & Sarah

Margaret
Cummy, darling, listen, I am sorry to upset you, but. but this is our house, & we can do what we like, when we like

Cummy
Well, I cannot stay under your roof any longer if you treat the holy word with such a slovenly disrespect

Margaret
Look, life is about compromise, Cummy, we accept you devotions, but you must accept where are you are – under our roof, under our rules – but we do so love having you here, & Lewey absolutely adores you

Cummy
It is he whom I am the most worried for, he is being brought up by the devil himself

Margaret
That is something of an exaggeration, is it not, & besides, Cummy, he is not your child, he is ours, & you are in our employ – perhaps the boundaries have blurr’d somewhat – but let me explain again, we love you, we love you being here, Tom thinks you are a little over-religious, & perhaps you are, but I accept your Christian perspective for the benefit of Lewey – I can see the effect on him you have had – you fill him with life & love & imagination & for that I thank-you – please stay

Cummy
There is no such thing as over religious, Mrs Stevenson, only under religious

Margaret
This is not your house, this is not a Calvinist household

Cummy
That is a shame – but despite it being too musical for my liking, I have no qualms about the Church of Scotland being the principle denomination of this place – there’s just too many hymns, not enough of the message of the Book

Margaret
So, I am a woman a very easy temper & good nature – but I cannot be challeng’d in my own home – do you accept, in the purest terms, that whatever your feelings are in the religious spheres, they can only be applied in a suggestative fashion in this household, our word is final, & if we wish to play cards on a Sunday, or any day for that matter, we shall without any question

Cummy
{pausing for a moment}
You do know that I have turn’d down many suitors to maintain myself in this position

Margaret
I do, yes, & we appreciate it so much, Cummy – please stay with us

Cummy
I am devoted to your son, Mrs Stevenson… perhaps I do get beyond myself sometimes, there is a zealousness within me I find difficult to control… I want to stay, I really do, I am completely fascinated by the boy’s company – he is a most intriguing child

Margaret
I have seen the way you are with him – your vivid playtime inventions make time simply fly on the wings – you have such a wonderful feeling for poetry & the music of words & those stories you tell…

Cummy
I do enjoy those moments, yes… well, there are no trips to the bar for me, I don’t even want to meet friends in the park, your son has become my world – how can I leave

Margaret
Ah I am so pleased, Cummy, I don’t think you realise how much you mean to us all – Tom included – may we embrace

Cummy
We may, Mrs Stevenson

They hug

Margaret
Now, Cummy, there is something else I’d like to talk about it

Cummy
Yes

Margaret
France

Cummy
What?

Margaret
France… we will be going there as a family next month

Cummy
France ! for what!

Margaret
My health, Cummy, I really need to get away from the Edinburgh winter – my chest will surely become compromised by its vicious cold and damp
{she starts coughing}
You see – with this cough, spending the next winter here could be fatal – instead, we shall be seeking convalescence at a health spa near Nice on the Riviera – Lewey shall be coming, & therefore so will you, we hope

Cummy
It seems such a long way

Margaret
Well, that is how far one must travel to find a warm & beneficial climate – I might be an incorrigible hypochondriac, but caution is the easiest defence

Cummy
O, Mrs Stevenson, of course, but France! I’ve never left Scotland before, never mind leaving the British Isles

Margaret
It is a fine thing to travel; the sights, the smells, the food, the culture, so much to enrich one’s intelligence & soul, even

Cummy
Well… the Lord truly moves in mysterious ways, & if it means we shall be all be heading abroad, then so be it – I suppose France is half-way to the Holy Land – I might need some new clothes for the trip

Margaret
& I also, we shall go shopping tomorrow – come, let’s go & talk to Tom – let him know he’s paying for our new outfits

Cummy
Och, Mrs Stevenson!

Exit Cummy & Margaret



Scene 18: A train

The Stevensons & Cummy are in a railway carriage travelling thro France

FROM A RAILWAY CARRIAGE

From a Railway Carriage – YouTube

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!


Scene 19

The Hotel Chauvain, Nice / the dining room / the Stevensons & Cummy are having their dinner with 40 other people / there are four waiters, two per side; one meat, one veg

Tom
That was absolutely delicious – the French – are quite delicate & refined in their cooking – did you like your dinner Lewey

Cummy
It was very good, father

Margaret
Cummy, you have hardly touch’d yours, is there anything the matter

Cummy
I am afraid to put among the meat – but the mash’d potatoes are the best I’ve ever tasted, actually

Tom
Afraid to put among the meat, whatever do you mean

Cummy
Its all a bit too foreign for my liking

Tom
There’s no such thing as foreign lands – it is only the traveller who is foreign.

Margaret
Cummy – it is just stewed chops with carrots & some exquisitely cook’d chicken

Cummy
Well, it tastes funny

Tom
Oh my word, our nanny is making her first sortie into enemy territory & has launch’d an early assault against the mighty chefs of France

Margaret
Well, eating with all these people I have never seen before – its just, well, strange, isn’t it – & far too grand for humble taste

Tom
Strange, & wonderful, it is the very spirit of travelling abroad

Cummy
To be honest I would rather not take anything that have to go through this again

Margaret
Look, you will get used to it, all things of novelty become normalcy in no time at all

Enter waiters

Waiter
You have finished

Tom
Yes we are done, thank you very much – eh – une louange spéciale à la cuisine, toujours délicate et raffiné

Waiter
Ah – merci monsieur

The waiters clear the plates

Waiter
We shall be serving dessert now – bon appetit

Margaret
More wine darling

Tom
Yes, please, this is a most adorable sauvignon blanc

Margaret
Cummy, you must admit, the wine is very tasty

Cummy
I normally drink beer at meal times

Margaret
But it is rather good

Cummy
It’s not bad at all, Mrs Stevenson

Tom
Is that blood from a stone I detect

Cummy’
It is the book of Christ – I will take a little more, thank-you

RLS
Look at my plate, mother, it is the Three Muskateers – & Artagnan – these are the adventures of the Vicomte of Bragelonne, I have read the book myself

Margaret
So they are – well observ’d young man – I’m rather taken with the napkins – the needlework in these flowers is superb

Enter waiters

Waiter
Monsieur, mesdames, et enfant – your dessert

Margaret
Ah excellent – what is it

Waiter
These are pears, in honey

Tom
They look lovely – Lewey, would you like some dessert

RLS
Yes please

Margaret
Cummy

Cummy
None for me thank-you

Margaret
Just the three of us, thak-you

Waiter
Would you like some coffee madame

Cummy
Oh no, no, not me – maybe some tea

Waiter
Certainly, madame, a few moments please

Waiter 2
So, young man, what do you like of Nice that you have seen so far

RLS
I like the oranges that grow on the trees in the street

Waiter 2
Ah – yes – you know you are allowed to pick them as you like – the are free for everybody

RLS
Alright

Waiter
Bien – profitez de votre dessert

Exit waiters

Tom
Hmm delicious

Margaret
Cummy, you do not seem to be enjoying this experience – at all – would you like to share your concerns?

Cummy
Where do I begin – well, the language, what I pick up of French I just as soon forget; except for one word, of course, the one for fish, poissins, which sounds like poison
{Margaret & Tom laugh}
I haven’t finish’d… the heat is insufferable; the promenade is full of fragrant vagrants, the shops are open on the sabbath, & the opera, while all the time dozens of priests going about letting all manners of wickedness go uncheck’d, in a so-call’d Christian country, the great adversary does triumph here, but they are papists, after all, it is no accident that the symbol of a bishop is a crook & the symbol of an archbishop is a double cross – no – being here in France has taught me one thing – that I value my own country & people more than ever & if it would please God I would go back with them today

Tom
Well, I’m afraid our stay in France is far from complete – in fact, tomorrow, we have decided to go to Monaco, but we will be attending a casino, or two, & Lewey won’t be able to join us – so instead, why don’t you take him for a walk in the hills near Hyeres – they are gentle enough for a child, but his health will benefit enormously

Cummy
How will we get there

Margaret
By carriage – we have two book’d for the morning, after breakfast

Cummy
Breakfast – I won’t be having any – the milk tastes strange

RLS
Maybe we could pick some oranges from the trees – the man says they are free

Margaret
Yes, I would prefer that

Tom
Well, that’s all settl’d then, tomorrow shall be a fine day all round – &, in the evening, it is the carnival – it should be a riot of sounds & colour

Cummy
The carnival

Tom
Oh yes, it is rather famous round these parts – Lewey will love it

Margaret
I’m looking forward to it – I’m feeling much better

Tom
Yes, your cough has all but dissapear’d completely

Margaret
It was a very good idea to come to France, my love, despite certain… protestations

Cummy grumbles

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