IAMG: Scenes 12-15



Scene 12: Colinton Kirk

The congregation are exiting from the Sunday service / Cummy is waiting with RLS / enter Reverend Lewis Balfour

Cummy
Reverend Balfour – may I say your service was sublime – I was sat in the front gallery & was on the verge of tears the entire time – you seem to shine from the pulpit with some form of solemn silver light – it was quite astonishing

Reverend Balfour
Thank you for your kind praise, miss…is…

Cummy
Cunningham, Miss Alison Cunningham

Reverend Balfour
Wait a moment, is that my grandson

Cummy
It is, yes

Reverend Balfour
My word, Robert

RLS
Gatty

RLS gives his grandfather a cuddle

RLS
Ah – Alison Cunningham, Cummy, yes, you’re the nurse, but more like his wife, I have heard, you are quite inseparable

Cummy
We are, but a week or so at a grandparent’s house during the summer holidays is every child’s privilege & treasure

Reverend Balfour
& he will not be alone – your cousins will be staying also Robert, talking of which, two of them are here

Enter Anne Balfour, Henrietta & William

Henrietta
Smoutie

The children dash together

William
Have you seen the tadpoles in the pond

RLS
No

Henrietta
Oh – there are so many of them – come see

William
We are going to the pond, Aunt Anne

Anne
Make sure you don’t fall in

RLS
We won’t – hello Auntie – goodbye Auntie

William
Come on Smoutie

Exit William, Henrietta & RLS

Reverend Balfour
Anne, this is Alison Cunningham, Robert’s nurse, & this is my daughter Anne, his aunt

Anne
Hello – how is my sister treating you, Alison

Cummy
Rather well indeed – I am delighted to be in the service of the Stevensons

Reverend Balfour
They could not make my service today

Cummy
Oh, no, she took a terrible turn this morning & Mr Stevenson is all the way up at Duncansby Head, attending one of his light-houses – but I am assured he will be back next Sunday to collect the boy

Reverend Balfour
Very well

Anne
Would you like to say goodbye to little Robert

Cummy
No – it will upset me too much – we are very rarely parted – & he looks like he’s having so much fun – eh, no, its fine, I will be on my way now – but Reverend Balfour, once again, what a joy it is to hear you preach – Corinthians Seven is a verse quite dear to my heart
{giving Reverend Balfour money}
This is for the kirk

Reverend Balfour
Thank you

Cummy
I often wonder, Reverend, when will the time arrive that this world will really become like the garden of the Lord, & bloom & blossom as the rose

Reverend Balfour
We are on the very verge, my girl, the very verge, there are a great many good people who share society in this age, & with the empire spreading the word of God to all corners of the Earth, it is surely only a matter of short time when we shall obtain the planetary paradise

Cummy
Comforting words, Reverend… well, I shall be going now
{Looking at RLS playing}
Ah – he is such a happy, playful child

Anne
No doubt down to your attentive care, Miss Cunningham

Cummy
Oh, do call me Cummy, it is a more comfortable fit

Anne
Well, it was wonderful to meet you Cummy

Cummy
& you both

Reverend Balfour
Well, we will take over from here – see you next Sunday

Cummy
{taking one last look at RLS}
Next week then

Exit Alison

Anne
Right, father, are you ready for this

Reverend Balfour
For what

Anne
A house full of screaming children

Reverend Balfour
Well, it won’t be for the first time – you are one of thirteen, remember, but in fact, I adore them all

Anne
Come on, I have prepared numerous delicacies for lunch

Reverend Balfour
I think I shall set the children a competition to keep them entertain’d, & challeng’d of course, to write a story

Anne
A splendid idea – their imaginations are something quite to behold – the results should be spectacular

Exit Anne & Reverend Balfour


Scene 13: Colinton Manse

Henrietta, William, RLS, Charles & Minnie enter the garden in playful military regalia– it is cut into provinces by a great hedge of beech, and over-looked by the church and the terrace of the churchyard; flower-plots lying warm in sunshine; laurels and the great yew making elsewhere a pleasing horror of shade; the sound of water everywhere, and the sound of mills – the wheel and the dam singing their alternate strain; the birds on every bush and from every corner of the overhanging woods pealing out their notes

GARDEN MARCH

Children
Bring the comb and play upon it!
Marching, here we come!
Willie cocks his highland bonnet,
& Charlie beats the drum.

Henrietta leads the party,
Minnie brings the rear;
Feet in time, alert and hearty,
& each a Grenadier!

Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places–
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.

In a mighty martial manner
Marching double-quick;
While the napkin, like a banner,
Waves upon the stick!

Enter Jane

Jane
That’s enough of fame and pillage,

Children
Ye sir! commander Jane!

Jane
Now you’ve been around the village,
Please go home again.

Children
Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places–
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.

Jane gathers the children around her

Jane
Children, you are very little,
And your bones are very brittle;
If you would grow great and stately,
You must try to walk sedately.

You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet;
And remain, through all bewild’ring,
Innocent and honest children.

But the unkind and the unruly,
And the sort who eat unduly,
They must never hope for glory–
Theirs is quite a different story!

Jane
So, children, I have some rather exciting news

Charles
Yes, what is Aunt Jane

Minnie
Have you got us each a treat

Jane
Better than that, your grandfather has chosen the winner

William
What, of the story competition

Jane
He certainly has, & he will be giving out the prizes in his study, in one half of an hour
{the children are happy}
So, let us all go back to the manse & make ourselves presentable, yes

All the Children
Yes, Aunt Jane

The children begin dashing off

Charles & Minnie takes Anne’s hand as they begin to exit

Jane
So, my fine soldiers, where were you marching off to

Minnie
We were going to Sevastapol

Charles
Yes, we are the British Army

Minnie
I thought we were the Russians

Charles
No, we were going to fight the Russians, stupid

Minnie
Don’t call me stupid

Jane
Yes, Charles, that is no way to speak to your cousin

Charles
{tutting}
Sorry

Jane
Well, why don’t you two remember you are actually fighting on the same side & go & storm the garden gate, I mean the breach in the walls of Sevastapol over there

Charles & Minnie cheer & dash off with a ‘charge’ / Jane smiles & follows them



Scene 14: Colinton Manse

Reverend Balfour is sat at his desk in his study, which has many gaudily colour’d Indian pictures hung up, alongside the bones of antelope, the wings of albatross, pictures of Sevastapol, plunging ships & bleating sheep, the pied and painted birds and beans, the junks and bangles, beads and screens, the gods and sacred bells & the loud-humming, twisted shells! There is a knock on the door

Reverend Balfour
Enter

Enter Jane with all the children

Jane
Father

Reverend Balfour
Ah Jane, & my grandchildren, well some of them, welcome to you all, & just how many of my grandchildren are here today

Charles
{being urged to Speak by Jane}
There are five of us grandfather

Reverend Balfour
& what are your names again, do remind me, there are so many of you, over forty at the last count

William
I am William, grandfather

Reverend Balfour
& you are

Henrietta
Henrietta

Charles
Charles

RLS
Robert

Minnie
My name is Minnie

Reverend Balfour
Ah yes – I remember now – you each have written a story for my competition – well, I have read them all, twice, & I must say I am extremely proud of my own bloodline – what a wonderful selection of marvellous merit, worthy of publication in any anthology – however, there can only be one winner, & have managed to choose what to my mind – & I am the judge of the competition, so that is the most important mind in this matter – is the best entry – saying that, this story only won by a hair’s breadth, & all the other stories were to my mind joint equal second in standard – & so each of these will win a prize, Jane if you could take these envelopes I will announce the joint second place winners one-by-one… now the first joint second-place winner is… Minnie… well done… the second joint second-place winner is… William, congratulations… the third joint second-place winner is… Henrietta… a splendid effort my girl, the section about riding a pony on the beach was especially commendable… & the final joint second-place winner… is… Charles… another ingenious tale, my boy

RLS
Gatty

Reverend Balfour
Yes Robert

RLS
Where is my envelope

Reverend Balfour
Well, my boy, do you not understand what this means?

RLS
No

Reverend Balfour
You are the winner of the competition

RLS
I am

Reverend Balfour
Yes

RLS
But I don’t deserve it

Reverend Balfour
You certainly do, young man, it is you who is the winner

Henrietta
Oh well done Lewey

William
Yes, good for you

Jane
Three cheers for your cousin Robert, hip-hip {hooray}, hip-hip {hooray}, hip-hip {hooray},

Reverend Balfour
& so, for our winner, I have a first prize of this book here… inside which is an envelope like the others, which you all may open now

William
It is a ticket – what is it for grandfather

Reverend Balfour
Well, after lunch, we shall all be going to the zoo

The children cheer

Minnie
Will we see the Eel-infault

Charles
It’s an elephant silly

Minnie
Don’t call me silly – Auntie Jane

Jane
Charles, what did I tell you about upsetting her cousin

Charles
You said not to call her stupid, you said nothing about silly

Reverend Balfour
CHILDREN, behave, or else none of us shall be going to the zoo at all – understand

Charles
Yes grandfather

Reverend Balfour
Good – so back to our winner – Robert’s tale about Moses was so good I would like us all to hear it – Robert, could you read it out for us please

RLS
Do I have to

Reverend Balfour
Well, if you want your prize & of course this envelope here which contains your own ticket to the zoo, then, like in all competitions, when the winner is at least requir’d to say a few words, & in the case of story competitions, read out his tale, then yes, you do have to

Henrietta
Ah please Robert

Reverend Balfour
It is so very good

Reverend Balfour slides the story across the desk

RLS
Alright

All the children cheer except for Charles who is acting quite jealous

Reverend Balfour
Good boy, you can read it here by my desk
{RLS is shy}
Go on

RLS
The History of Moses – there was a woman that had a child when all the babies were to be drowned and she was a good woman and she asked God how she could save her baby and God told her to make a baskets of rushes and put it in the water, hiding it in the rushes. Then Pharaoh’s daughter was going to bathe in a certain place & as she went pass’d she saw the cradle and asked her servants to go and bring it out and they did it. Then the Israelites were very hungry & they began to speak to Moses about it. Then Moses prayed to God and God told Moses that the Israelites were to get up very early in the morning & they would see small white things on the ground and they were to gather it but they were not to gather any for tomorrow because it would breed worms and stink and they could not eat it but on Saturdays they were to gather some for Sundays because on Sundays they would not see any little white things. So they rose up early in the morning & they went out & they did see little white things & they called it manna. Then God said to Moses that he would have to die & God sent Moses alone up to a high hill called Nebo where he could see the whole land of Canaan & God buried him in a valley in the land of Moab & nobody knows where Moses was buried to this day. And there was great weeping in all Israel for Moses.

Reverend Balfour leads a round of applause

Reverend Balfour
A worthy winner, I believe, so children, why don’t you scuttle off & have your lunch after which we shall be catching the trains into town & to the zoo

The children cheer

Jane
Follow me to the kitchen children

Reverend Balfour
Robert, stay behind a moment

Jane leads the children out with Charles saying ‘but Aunt Jane, my story was better than his’

Reverend Balfour
A remarkable story – you captur’d the spirit of the Old Testament almost as evocatively as one of the prophets themselves – a fine performance

RLS
I do love making stories, Gatty – sometimes I even dream of two scribbling pens that are writing things down in my mind

Reverend Balfour
It appears we might have a budding author in the family, so here is your prize

RLS
What sort of book is it

Reverend Balfour
These are the prints of a Dutch landscape artist call’d Marco Sadeler – within these pages, my boy, you can explore the whole of Europe without ever leaving Edinburgh – there are scenes containing the cities of Rome, Paris, Barcelona, alongside enchanting scenes full of wood & field – it is a vast new world in which your imagination can go travelling in

RLS opens a page

RLS
Where is this place

Reverend Balfour
Well, can you read what it says

RLS
Ehm Nice

Reverend Balfour
It is Niece, actually

RLS
Where is that

Reverend Balfour
It is a city in the South of France, by the sea

RLS
Like Edinburgh

Reverend Balfour
Yes, just like Edinburgh, but a lot warmer

RLS
It looks very pretty

Reverend Balfour
Perhaps you will go there yourself one day, my boy… now, run along & get your lunch, I shall make sure this book is deliver’d to your home

RLS
Thank-you Gatty, I love you

They embrace

Reverend Balfour
& I love you my boy, now off you go, & well done on your triumph, it really was a superb story

Exit RLS – Reverend Balfour looks at the story one more time with a smile



Scene 15: The Beach at Heyres

Sam & RLS are picnicking – a woman & four children pass & begin playing on the beach – some women are washing their clothes, the shore is cover’d with drying clothes, while fishermen are mending their nets

RLS
Charles Darwin was absolutely right, survival of the species & all that

Sam
I beg your pardon

RLS
That woman, with the four children in tow, over there, playing in the surf – they look exactly like my Aunt Jane & four cousins of mine from when I was a child in Edinburgh – completely identical

Sam
Luley, you are retrospecting to you own childhood a tad too much I’m afraid, your imagination is breaching reality

RLS
I would say it is more a case of fresh cuts in funding from the arts council – but no matter – here you are, bread, pate, & wine, a fine French luncheon

Sam
Indeed, France is so very elegant & also a wagon’s worth of fun – the land has the sacredness of ancient cultivation – but is it expensive to live here

RLS
It is much less than Great Britain, as in greatly expensive, we can live well here on a fixed sum & feel like people again

Sam
& your health

RLS
Well, there is no cough to speak of anymore, there’s been no blood in my spittle for over two months now, & best of all I have energy for walking – the true oil of a literary mind

Sam
It is a smashing climate

RLS
It is that – had my infancy been passed in the fresh air & sunshine of such a sweltrie place as this – rather than among those evil brumal mists of Auld Reekie – I believe my whole life might have been different

Sam
That, combin’’d with a medical profession whose methods are inconceivably harsh & ignorant

RLS
Medieval, you mean

Sam
Quite… yes, well it seems a miracle that you have survived their treatment & grown to actual manhood

RLS
Well, I did, & here I am attempting to infuse as much health as possible into my adulthood

Sam
So far, so good, the colour is flushingly returning to your face – you are looking strong, robust even

RLS
Thank you – I mean, it has been a complete change of everything – scene, diet, companionship – out of such changes must come our own transformation – I’m finding that all these strangers are bringing a new version of man out of me

Sam
A new version, yes, but based upon the earliest version of yourself – those poems you read me last night about your childhood were magical

RLS
They have a certain charm, yes

Sam
They seem to me the first piece of literature that seriously attempts to reproduce childish sensibilities & concerns –

RLS
Not the first, but there is a certain uniqueness to them yes – in general, an author’s talent generally depends solely upon their ability to quicken the pulse, or drag a tear from their limpid emotional well, but these are design’d only to make the heart smile

Sam
I find them short, direct, funny & brilliantly cadenced, I have the feeling that they will probably outlive all of your work – I can see them entering into the soul of a race – where have they come from

RLS
I’m not quite sure – its possibly all a congestion of the brain, & there is no more room for any new experiences, it seems – the old stuff just has to, well, pour out – I have been quite prolific also, twenty new poems have appear’d in the last few weeks, as if I were plucking blossoms from my memories here & there

Sam
These do seem the perfect conditions in which an artist shall flourish

RLS
I completely agree – life is the most monstrous, complex, infinite, illogical, abrupt & poignant entity, all impos’d by this unfathomable brute energy – a work of art, however, is neat, finite, self-contained, rational, flowing & emasculate & catches the inarticulate thunder of random life & transposes into the most various & surprising meteors – but one must be susceptible to hear the sounds of life, & a place such La Solitude, it is even in the name, awards one’s mind with a perfect peace

Sam
What does it feel like, being a young child all over again

RLS
Delightful – I mean, I do not think I have ever really grown up – never quite abandon’d the parade of childhood, the pageantry, the showmanship, the mists and the rainbows; children are so passionate about their dreams and infinitely unconcerned about realities; there is so little that the child actually sees, but what they do they are swift to weave into bewildering fiction; and cares no more for what you & I call truth, than for a gingerbread dragoon.

Sam
Do you have a title

RLS
I’m thinking something along the lines of Penny Whistles for Small Whistlers

Sam
Hmm, not bad, but perhaps there is a better name out there for them somewhere

RLS
You think so

Sam
Maybe

RLS
Anyway, enough of me & my verses, how are you Sam, how are you finding the French

Sam
Amusing … the way they classify their dogs… Chiens de pieds, Chiens de pousses, Chien de sangs, Chien courants, Chines a plumes

RLS
Oh dear

Sam
What

RLS
I rather fear our efforts to turn you into a conventional & commonplace young Englishman have been only too successful – you have brought an air of weighty philistinism with you – I blame your tutor –

Sam
Oh, come on – I’m not that bad

RLS
A little – travel is all about opening one’s mind – remember, while you are in France, it is we who are the foreigners after all – one must learn to respect the environment in which we find ourselves – anyway, to help you in these matters, & to continue your education, we shall have to get you a tutor

Sam
Oh – really

RLS
Of course we must, you are only sixteen, & it is still term-time in England, therefore your education shall be continuing

Sam
Oh – I might as well have stay’d in England then

RLS
What & miss out on this life of sea-bathing and sun-burning inbetween your studies

Sam
Surely the money would be better spent than on a tutor

RLS
It is all settl’d, Sam, you could take it up with your mother, but…

Sam
Very well, I’ll continue the dull destruction of my youthful spirit

RLS
You must learn to conquer your aversion to the dryness of a life of study, my boy – it is not forever – you should enjoy formal learning

Sam
But I live in a constant fear of chastisement

RLS
You are becoming a gentleman in the process

Sam
But a gentleman of a morose disposition – I cannot bear it

RLS
Look, while in Heyres, your lessons will be predominantly in the French language, which will of course be extremely useful for you – especially with the mademoiselles of the area

Sam
That might not be so important

RLS
What do you mean

Sam
Valentina speaks excellent English

RLS
Valentina

Sam
Yes – look here she comes now

RLS
What

Sam
Didn’t I tell you, she is going to give me a tennis lesson

RLS
Tennis !

Sam
Yes, turns out she is rather good at it

RLS
& you are terrible

Sam
Perhaps not after this afternoon

Enter Valentina

Valentina
Bonjour

RLS
Ah Valentina… I hear you are giving Sam a tennis lesson

Valentina
I am, oui

Sam
Well, I’m ready, shall we go

Valentina
Oui, oui

RLS
I shall see you both back at La Solitude, then

Sam
Enjoy the rest of your day, Luley, & just how will you fill it

RLS
Ah – well, I was once in the area as a child, I was thinking of revisiting one one of the walks I went on

Sam
Oh – sounds lovely – well until later – goodbye

Exit Valentina & Sam – the children play’d by Charles & William pass by

RLS
Charles, William, is that you

The two boys look confused

Boy 1
Pardon

RLS
Oh c’est ne rien

Exit boys / RLS pours himself a glass of wine, puts on his glasses, opens a book & begins to read

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s