TRUE STEEL, 1686

There are at least three  accounts of the story of David Steel. Below is a one act, stage interpretation of David Steel’s martyrdom at Nether Skellyhill farm, written by Robert S. McLeish. While the historical fact is that the closing scene with David and his wife Mary took place outdoors, for this presentation, the scene is brought into the farm house to keep a concise, one-act play. It is also posted by Warren Steel at: (http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~mudws/family/truesteel.html).

Lieutenant Crichton did most barbarously after quarter, shoot David Steel,
in the parish of Lesmahego, December, 1686.

Upon the grave-stone of David Steel, in the church-yard of Lesmahego, is this motto:
David, a shepherd first, and then
Advanced to be king of men.
Had of his graces in this quarter.
This heir a wanderer, now a martyr.
Who for his constancy and zeal.
Still to the back did prove good Steel.
Who for Christ’s royal truths and laws,
And for the covenanted cause
Of Scotland’s famous reformation;
Declining tyrant’s usurpation;
By cruel Crighton murder’d lies.
Whose blood to heav’n for vengeance cries.

Source Wikimedia Commons image

TRUE STEEL

A COVENANTING DRAMA
IN ONE ACT

By ROBERT S McLEISH

This play is written in the dialect of Lesmahagow used at the period enacted, and still to a large extent used within the parish. We realize many of our visitors from overseas will have difficulty with some of the wording. It was considered to make a translation into standard English but we felt that the play would lose too much of its atmosphere and pathos in such a translation. If any visitors have questions on any of the wording we will be pleased to help.

This play is copyright and must not be performed without the permission of the Authors Agents Messrs Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd., 52 Darnley Street, Glasgow, G41 2SG, from whom terms for amateurs may be obtained.

Dedicated to the memory of my dear friend

TOM STEELE:

‘His light, upon the stage of life

Grows dim,

Expires.

The final curtain falls,

It is the end

Yet…

For as long as memory

Serves us true,

There, amid the spotlight’s silver ray,

In our most private thoughts,

We,

Who hold his memory dear,

Can witness and applaud

An everlasting,

Soliloquy.

R.S. McL

TRUE STEEL

CHARACTERS.

DAVID STEEL

MARY STEEL

THOMAS STEEL

MARION STEEL

BESSIE PAIT

JOHN BROWN

LIUTENANT CHIRICHTON

SERGEANT MILLER

PRIVATE WILLS

PRIVATE POOLE

McDUAR OF FINNOCHA fugitive Covenanter

David’s wife

David’s elder brother

Thomas’s wife

A neighbor

A local carter

Commander of the English troops

Dragoon leader

Foot soldier

Foot soldier

A Highlander. (Non-speaking.)

FLATS REQUIRED

2 small windows. (Shuttered;)

I single door;

1 open-shelved press;

1 double door with bar;

l set of steps leading to loft;

FURNISHINGS

I table with 2 small stools;

Sacks of grain and straw, etc.;

1 kist;

1 wooden bench;

1 child’s cradle.

LIGHTING

Dark background with fireplace, stage centre and double door highlighted.

SOUND EFFECTS

High wind throughout. Horses and men approaching and departing as per text. Exceptional high wind at end with snow blowing in open door.

TRUE STEEL

SCENE

The kitchen of Nether Skellyhill Farm, near Lesmahagow

PERIOD

Late evening of 20th December, 1686

(When the curtain opens we find MARY STEEL seated at the fire. She is reading a Bible. MARY is in her early 30’s, but due to her hardship, looks older. She is plainly dressed and due to the poor fire in the grate, has her shawl drawn tightly around herself After a moment there is a light tapping on the main door. MARY rises slowly and goes to the door.)

MARY-Who is it…?

MARION-(voice off) It’s jist Mairon . . . A’ hae Bessie Pait wae me.

MARY-Jist a meenit, till a get a licht. (She lifts lantern from the bench and goes to the door. Opens it and BESSIE PAIT and MARION STEEL enter.)

(BESSIE PAIT) is an old woman who stoops as she walks. She is exhausted and has dificulty speaking. MARION STEEL is in her late 30’s, she is dressed similar to MARY and is nervous and easily upset.)

MARION-A wis oan ma’ wey tae see ye, when a met Bessie here, oan the brae. Awe a could get oot her wis that she had a message for us. (MARY goes to BESSIE.)

MARY-Here. . . Bessie. . . Come ower tae the fire. Mairon, you see tae the door. (MARION closes door as MARY takes BESSIE and seats her on the bench.) Whit brings ye here at this time o’ nicht, Bessie?

BESSIE-A jist had tae come up and warn ye… (She coughs.)

MARION-Whit hae ye heard… Whit news…?

MARY-Mairon! Gie the body a meenit tae draw her braith She’s fair winded… Bring the soul a drink. Ye’ll get a jug o’ watter oan the table there.

(MARION goes to the table and brings water. Hands it to MARY.) Here noo Bessie, hae a sup o’ this. (BESSIE drinks.)

MARY-Hae anither wee sup Bessie.

BESSIE-Naw, naw, a’m fine noo.

MARY-Weel then, jist tak’ yer time and tell us yer news.

BESSIE-A’ gaed oot tae the spring tae draw some watter for mornin’, afore a gaed aff tae ma bed…

MARION-Aye?

MARY-Gie her time Mairon.

BESSIE-As a gaed back tae the hoose, a heard a horse comin toward me in the distance; so a waited tae see wha it wis…!

MARION-Weel?

MARY-(angry)-Mairon!

BESSIE-It wis Jimmy Lindsay o’ Cleughbrae. He wis ridin’ hame frae the toon, a wee bit the waer o’ the drink tae. Onywey, he telt me that Chrichton wis gettin’ ready tae leave the toon.

MARION-But whit has that got tae dae wae us?

BESSIE-Haud yer wheesht Lassie till a tell ye -.. he’s comin’ here.

MARY-Tae Skellyhill? (MARION gasps.)

BESSIE-Aye, Jimmy Lindsay said that Chrichton’s determined tae get them the nicht.

MARION-(worried)-Oh Mary, whit can we dae?

MARY-Dinnae get excited, Mairon.

MARION-How can ye staun there sac caim, when that blaggard Chrichton is oan his wey here for Tam and DAVIE.

MARY-Dinnae flee intae a panic, jist let me think!

MARION-There’s naethin’ tae think aboot. . . Chrichton is oan his wey here…

MARY-It’s jist that there’s somethin’ aboot whit Bessie here, has said, that’s no jist richt.

BESSIE-A’m nae leer!

MARY-A’m sorry Bessie, a’ didnae mean it that wey.

MARION-Whit did ye mean?

MARY-Weel, in the past when Chrichton has peyed us a visit, we didnae get ony warnin’ o’ his comin’; he jist mounted up and wis own his wey. It’s as if he wis waitin’ oan somethin’.

BESIE-If ye wid jist let me feenish.

MARY-Whit’s that Bessie.

BESSIE-Chrichton is waitin’ for the first fa’ 0′ snaw.

MAIRON-Snaw? Wae the wind that’s blowin’ oot there a cannie see him bein’ disappointed.

MARY-He’s a crafty yin… if it snaws he’ll be able tae follow Tam and DAVIE’s tracks; he would hae them in chains in nae time ata’.

BESSIE-(rising)-Weel, that’s whit a cam’ tae tell ye. A’ll get awa’ hame noo and get tae ma bed.

MARY-Oor thanks Bessie, we baith ken hoo much it taen oot ye tae come up here tae warn us. It’s a wild nicht, so Mairon and I’ll walk doon a bit o’ the brae wae ye.

BESIE-Naw Lassie, a’ll see masel’ hame. You twa bide here and look oot for yer menfolk. . . may the good Lord keep them safe.

MARY-Cover yersel’ up wed. (MARY helps BESSIE with her shawL) Mairon see tae the door. (MARION takes the bar from the door.)

MARION-(looking out)-It’s gettin’ gie black Mary!

MARY-(taking BESSIE to the door Guid nicht Bessie, tak care noo.

BESIE-A’ll be a’ richt Lassie, guid nicht tae ye baith.

(BESSIE goes out. MARION and MARY stand at the open door for a moment, looking up at the sky. MARY turns from the door.)

MARY-Cam’ awa’ in Mairon, there’s little enough heat in here as it is.

(MARION-turns from the door.)

MARION-It’s gaen tae snaw richt enough, a can feel it in ma bones.

MARY-The cauld air’s makin’ ye shiver, that’s a’. If the wind keeps up it micht keep the snaw awa’ (MARY puts bar on door.)

MARION-Whether it snaw’s or no’, we’ll hae tae warn Tam and Davie, no’ tae cam’ hame.

MARY-We cannie!

MARION-Hae he nae idea 0′ whare they’re hidin’?

MARY-No Mairon, a hivnae… and if a did, a widnae be gaen lukin’ fur them.

MARION-Ye mean tae say ye widnae warn them that Chrichton is efter them.

MARY-Chrichton is aie efter them, that’s a’ we could tell them. For a’ we ken, Chrichton is wantin’ us tae look for them… and then a’ he needs tae dae is follow us.

MARION-A’ never thocht aboot it that wey. A’ wonder if Chrichton is oan the road yet. He’s maybe at the road end this meenit. . . Mary, he’ll be here in next tae nae time… Oh! Mary, a’m feert. (Getting upset.)

MARY-Noo that’s eneugh Mairon, ye jist get yersel’ upset, and for nae reason.

MARION-Nae reason ye say. .. Hae ye nae feelin’s ata’?

MARY-Mairon! Dinnae stert a’ that again.

MARION-Ye sit there, as if ye didnae hae a care in the worl’; yer man, aye an’ ma man wae him, oot there bein’ hunted doon like animals . . and ye dae naethin’ tae help.

MARY-A’ve already telt ye there’s naethin’ we can dae, so jist calm yersel’.

MAIRON-Ony meenit a could be a weeda, and ye tell me tae be cairn…

MARY-A’m no gaen tae argy wae ye..

MARION-A’ hae a hert that’s brekin’ for it’s man. A man that wad dae naebody ony herm . . . Oh Mary, a cannie tak’ ony mair 0′ this.

MARY- (comforting her)-A grieve wae ye Mairon. Maybe a’m no jist as open aboot it as you are, but ma hert’s sair tae. Many a nicht a sat here at the fire, greetin’ ma een oot; but efter a while a realised that it didnae dae me ony guid, a found ma comfort in the good book. (She lifts Bible.) Dry yer tears and we’ll sit here for a bit. Ye ken when a’m sittin’ here readin’ the scriptures, a can somehow hear DAVIE readin’ them wae me. Line for line, verse for verse; noo, whit mair comfort could a ask for. (Handing MARION the Bible.) Here noo, read a verse or twa, a’m shair it’ll dae ye guid.

MARION-Whit bit dae ye want tae hear?

MARY-It disnae maiter.

MARION-(opens Bible.) Corinthians, Chapter 13, Verse I. (She reacts aloud.) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbai. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand ail mysteries . . . (A loud knock is heard at the main door.)

MARY -(rising, wringing her hands)-God keep them safe. (The door is rattled again.)

DAVIE-(voice off)-Mary… it’s DAVIE! Open the door.

MARY-(running to door)-DAVIE! (MARY opens door, DAVIE enters. He is a young man in his 30’s. He has not shaven for some time and his clothes are well worn. He is very cold and hungry. MARY and DAVIE embrace). DAVIE, ye’re safe.

DAVIE-Aye, lass .

MARION-(has risen and gone towards them)-Is Tam wae ye?

DAVIE-Ach, Mairon, whit wid Tam be daen here wae me? He’s awa’ hame. Nae doot expectin tae fin’ ye there.

MARION-A’ll awa’ hame then Mary, Tam’ll be thinkin’ me a fine yin.

DAVIE-Aye, he’ll be hame an’ fed b’ noo.

MARION-Is he weel DAVIE?

DAVIE-Aye, he’s in guid hert.

MARY-When ye hae him fed Mairon, send him back here.

DAVIE-A think somehow, Tam has ither notions. He wis lookin’ furrit tae sleepin’ in his am bed the nicht.

MARY- (ignoring DAVIE)-Jist dae as a tell ye Mairon.

MARION-A’ll dae that… guid nicht. (MARION goes out.)

MARY-Guid nicht. (MARY goes to fire while DAVIE closes door. MARY gives pot on the swee a stir. DAVIE goes to MARY, turns her and they embrace.) Are ye weel enough DAVIE?

DAVIE-A guid length better noo that a’m hame lass.

MARY-Ye’ll be hungry then?

DAVIE-Hungry’s no the word Mary. We’ve been near tae starvation the’ last twa, three days. We jist had tae cam’ hame. (MARY turns from him and attends to the fire. DAVIE sits on the bench.) Leave that be Mary, come ower here and sit beside me.

MARY-Jist for a meenit then. (She sits.)

DAVIE-Are ye and the bairns weel enough?

MARY-They’re in fine fettle. They’re aie wonderin’ when ye’re comin’ hame, of course, and the langer ye’re awa’ the mair devilment they get up tae…

DAVIE-A’ll deal wi’ them in the mornin’ . . . but whit aboot yersel’ lass?

MARY (concerned)-Oh DAVIE, ye cannie stey here . . . it’s foolishness sittin’ here talkin’ like this . . . time’s too precious

DAVIE-Mary, whit’s tormentin’ ye?

MARY-A didnae want tae tell ye sae syne . . . (She rises.) A’ a wanted wis for us tac hae twa meenits the gither jist twa meenits tae shut the door and keep the hale worl’ oot.

DAVIE-Mary, tell me…

MARY-It’s Chrichton..

DAVIE-Whit aboot him?.

MARY-He’s comm’ here the nicht tae get ye.

DAVIE-Whey did ye no tell me this when a cam’ in?

MARY-Twa meenits, DAVIE . . . tbat’s a’ a wanted . . . twa meenits.

DAVIE-(going to her)-A ken ye meant weel lass, but a cannie spare ye twa meenits, no wae Chrichton oan ma tail. (He gives her a hug.) Noo, hoo aboot feedin’ yer man afore he has tae leave ye?

MARY-Aye DAVIE. . . (She fills bowl from pot and hands it to him.) A’m sorry . . . a should hae kent better.

DAVIE-Wheesht, noo lass . . . whit’s done’s done. (He eats.) Whit’s the news 0′ Chrichton?

MARY-At the first sign o’ snaw, he’s comin’ here tae look for ye . . . an’ if ye leave in the snaw, he’ll. .

DAVIE-Aye, follow oor tracks . . . he’s got his heid screwed oan the richt wey, has Chrichton. (He eats again.)

(There is a knock at the door.)

MARY-(whispers)-Wha can it be?

DAVIE-Open the door Mary, we’ll soon see. (MARY draws bar on door. DAVIE-stands at the side of the door, unseen when the door is opened. MARY(opens door slowly.)

MARY-(with relief)-Oh Tam, its jist you. (TAM enters. He is in his late 30’s. Has the same unkempt appearance as DAVIE.)

TAM-(looking round room)-Has DAVIE gone?

DAVIE(appearing from behind the door)-No a’m still here Tam. Ye’ve got fed then?

TAM-Aye, maybe no’ enough tae fill ma belly, but the weemen folk are findin’ things hard gaen the’ days.

MARY-A’ve a bite left in the pot Tam, ye’d be welcome tae it.

TAM-Thank ye Mary, better keep it for the bairns. Ma needs are no’ that great.

DAVIE-Too much efter sae little is nae a guid thing. Better a content belly than a sair yin.

MARY-A’ll mak’ up a napkin o’ food for ye tae tak’ wi’ ye DAVIE.

DAVIE-Richt ye are lass. Weel noo, Tam. Ower tae the fire and warm yersel’, we huv’nae much time.

TAM-Mary has telt ye then?

DAVIE-Aye. . . (They sit on bench.)

TAM-A don’t like it, DAVIE.

DAVIE-Whit are ye gaen oan aboot?

TAM-Chrichton!

DAVIE-Him?. . . An auld wife oan a horse.

TAM-Ye cannie dismiss him like that, and fine ye ken it.

DAVIE-Ach…

TAM-Whare’s yer sense man. For months noo he’s been huntin’ us doon, an’ if it wisnae for oor freens in the district, we wid be hingin’ frae a short rope.

DAVIE-We’ll fox him again, dinnae fear. In ony case he has nae authority tae hing us, a’ he can dae is catch us and tak’ us tae Edinburgh for trial.

TAM-That micht be, but it’s no only for oor sakes that a worry; it’s whit Chrichton micht dae wae the weemen folk that’s concernin’ me. A’ve got Mairon tae think can, she’s easy taen advantage o’. (At this MARY stopswhat she is doing and listens.) If the deed’s no’ done by Chrichton himsel’, then he has the rough Highlanders at his biddin’. DAVIE think oan it. (DAVIE rises and looks into the fire.) Think oan Mary here.

DAVIE-We’re fightin’ for whit we think is oor richt . . . nothin’ can staun in oor wey . . . nothin’ . ..(He turns to meet MARY’S eye.)

TAM (rising to him and putting his arm on DAVIE’S shoulder)-DAVIE, ye hae the courage 0′ a man, but the heid 0′ a bit laddie. Let yer hert rule ye for a bit. Think ye man, whit chance wid Mary here, hae against Chrichton or his crew? (DAVIE looks again at MARY then turns away.).

DAVIE-It’s somethin’ that’s got tae be, that’s a’.

(TAM returns to his seat. MARY comes down to him.) MARY-Leave him be Tam. He has tae sort things oot for his sel’.

TAM-It’s gaen oan too lang Mary. (Turning from her.) A cannie see an end tao it . . . (There is a short pause; alt three are silent.)

DAVIE (without turning to the others)-A cannie gie upa’ve got tae see it through. (Turning to TAM.) A’ these months lyin’ in a peat bog on the Mennoch Hills, cannie be for naethin’. We’ve pit up wae maist hardships in this worl’. Hunger, cauld an’ fear, a’ for yin purpose; the Solemn League and Covenant; the richt tao worship God withoot ony frills, nae big Kirks wae fancy steeples, nae meenisters wae fancy frocks. (Lifting Bible.) This is ma Kirk, nae maiter whare a be, be it at ma am fireside or oot there in a field… that wis whit we started oaf fightin’ for . . . naethin’ . has chinged, oor fecht has tao go oan.

TAM-A dinnae disagree wae onythin’ ye hae said DAVIE. They were ma words tae when we first taen tao the flight. It’s whit we want, but the price we’re ha’en tao pey for it gets higher wae every passin’ day. Consider it DAVIE, we’re up against a man wae nae concern for Laws but his ain. His justice runs hoat and cauld, he kills for killin’s sake, no for ony richt or wrang. DAVIE he’s makin’ us like his sel’, we’re ha’en tae draw oor sword against men jist like oorsel’s, wae wives and bairns. DAVIE is it richt . . . is it Christian?

DAVIE-Loave me be… jist leave me be…

MARY-(going to DAVIE.) Dinnao fear for me DAVIE. We fight the gither for the same cause; you hae yer sword, a hae me wits. Come whit may we a’ live the githor again in a better place than this.

TAM-But Mary, we cannie leave you and Mairon tao face a man like Chrichton.

MARY-He’s crossed oor path before and we hae survived.

TAM-That’s as it may be, but…

MARY-Ach Tam, Mairon’s got ye as bad as hersol’.

DAVIE-Mary, whit am a tae dae, there’s a lot o’ truth in whit Tam’s been sayin’?

MARY-Tam’s speakin’ wae his tongue, no’ his hert. (She turns to TAM.) A thank ye for yer concern Tam. A’m shair a speak for Mairon as wool as masol’; but in yet hert ye ken that the fecht has tao go oan. We’re a’ fechtin’ in oor different weys; you, Davie, Mairon, naebody kens but the good Lord when oor struggle will end. Wha kons but oor bairns micht hae a greater struggle than we, before the focht is won. Look tao yer hort Tam, a’m shair ye’ll see that a’m richt.

TAM-Let me think oan it.. . (He sits quietly deciding.)

MARY-Pit anither peat oan the fire DAVIE, a’lI bring in Some tao dry for mornin’.

(DAVIE lifts peats and puts them on the fire. MARY opens door and goes out, drawing door closed behind her. DAVIE turns and looks at TAM, then turns away and looksin fire. TAM rises and goes to DAVIE. DAVIE turns and TAM puts out his hand to him.)

TAM-We fecht oan brither. (DAVIE takes his hand. They shake.)

DAVIE-A kent ye widnae let me doon.

(There is a commotion outside and the sound of a muffled scream. DAVIE directs TAM to stand behind the door ., DAVIE to the opposite side. A man enters. He has MARY gagged with his hand, she is struggling. When he is clear of the door, DAVIE and TAM appear. DAVIE advances on the man and TAM replaces bar on the door.)

DAVIE (with drawn sword, holds it to the man’s back.) Let her go scoundrel, or ye’ll feel this cold steel in your back.

(The man lets MARY go.) Now, turn round slowly. (The man turns. DAVIE is astonished.) John Broon, whit is the meanin’ 0′ this.

BROWN-Wheesht man . . . (Turning to MARY.) Are ye a’richt Mistress Steel? A’m sorry, but a had tae stoap ye frae screamin’.

MARY-Stoap me frae screamin’ . . ye nearly stoapped me frae breathin!

DAVIE-Whit were ye daen lurkin’ aboot oot there for onywey?

BROWN-A wis jist gaen tae rattle yer door, when a heard ye drawin’ back the baur, so a hid in the corner next tae the peat stack; a wis shair ye wad see me Mistress Steel; when ye bent doon tae lift the peats, so a had tae quaten ye.

MARY-Quaten me? A nearly passed oot!

DAVIE-We didnae hear yer horse comm’ up, ye shairly didnae walk frae the toon?

BROWN-A left ma horse at the Ford, a didnae want tae startle ye.

MARY-That wis real thochtfu’ o’ ye.

BROWN-A’m sorry it turned oot like this, but a’ve got important news for ye. Chrichton’s men are gettin’ ready tae leave Abbeygreen.

TAM-Aye, we heard he wis comm’ here the nicht.

BROWN-God almichty, an’ whit are the pair 0′ ye still here for?

DAVIE-Whit we heard wis that he’s no’ leavin’ the toon till it snaws.

BROWN-Weel, he must hae chinged his mind. Some 0′ his men had been drinkin’ and he wis ha’en a deevil o’ a joab roundin’ them up. Roarin’ like a bull he wis. Issuin’ orders here and there but naebody seemed tae be listenin’. So, wae sic a commotion gaen oan, a thocht a’d tak’ the chance tae ride here and warn Mistress Steel. A didnae think for a meenit that you twa wad be here.

MARY-We’re thankfu’ tae hae freens like ye Mister Broon.

BROWN-It’s but a sma’ thing Mistress.

DAVIE (going to him)-Oor thanks freen, but this is nae place for ye tae be seen.

TAM-DAVIE’s richt. if the patrol sees ye, ye’ll hae some awkward questions tae answer.

BROWN-A’ll be oan ma wey then.

MARY-A’ll see tae the door. (MARY goes to the door and opens it and goes out.)

BROWN-Guid nicht… and guid luck tae ye. (He goes first to DAVIE and shakes him by the hand, then turns to TAM. And tac ye Tam.

(He shakes hands with TAM.)

MARY (enters in a hurry)-Tam, DAVIE there’s horses doon on the bottom road.

DAVIE-Chrichton nae doot . . . Tam, you tak’ John here through by the loft and show him the wey oot.

TAM-Richt DAVIE. (TAM and Jorm BROWN go to the loft, as they are about to enter, DAVIE calls to them.)

DAVIE-Jock, mak’ yer wey doon the hill. . . steer clear o’ the tap side.

BROWN-As ye say DAVIE, jist as ye say. (TAM and BROWN go out.)

(DAVIE and MARY go out the main door. After a moment they return.)

DAVIE-Aye they’re comm’ here richt enough. A’m sorry lass, a wis hopin’ tae be a wee bit comfort tac ye this nicht, but it cannie be.

MARY-A unerstaun’. (They embrace. TAM re-enters.)

DAVIE-Tam, we’d best be oan oor wey. We huv’nae much time.

TAM-Jist as ye say DAVIE.

MARY-Here. (She hands them both a napkin of food.) Ye’Il need this.

TAM-God bless ye Mary.

MARY-Oan yer wey the pair 0′ ye. . . the langer ye stey here the sairer it is tae pairt wae ye. (She hustles them towards the loft. TAM enters the loft as DAVIE stands at the cradle.)

DAVIE-Guid nicht son… a’ll see ye… (MARY rushes to him and they embrace.)

TAM (enters from loft.) DAVIE, we hae tae be gaen.

DAVIE-Aye. (TAM disappears into loft. DAVIE goes to loft, then turns to MARY and looks at her for a moment)

MARY-God keep ye safe. (DAVIE disappears into the loft.)

(MARY stares at the loft for a moment, then bursts into tears. She sinks to her knees beside the cradle. The sound of horses are heard approaching in the distance. They stop outside.)

CHRICHTON (Yoke off)Dismount! Sergeant Miller, see to the door. (There is a violent rattle at the main door.)

MILLER (yoke off)-Mistress Steel, open this door in the name of the King and Lieutenant Chrichton, Commander of the Garrison of Lesmahagow!

CIIRICHTON-Break the door down you fool. MILLER-Mistress Steel… open the door.

(MARY gets up and goes slowly to the door.)

CHRICHTON -Carry out your orders man. Break it down!

(At this MARY removes the bar from the door ana CHRICHTON enters in a rage. He is in his late So’s, has a domineering appearance and is a law unto himself He is followed by SERGEANT MILLER and havAm WILLS. CHRICHTON surveys the room, then turns on MARY.)

CHRICHTON-Woman, where is your husband? (MARY stares at him.) Answer me woman. . . answer me. . . (He shakes MARY and SERGEANT M’tii~ steps forward to help her.) Stand clear SERGEANT MILLERR. (SARGENT MILLER stops abruptly. CHRICHTON grabs MARY’S arm again and shakes her.) Where is your husband?

MARY-A dinnae ken! (He lets MARY go.)

CITRICHTON (turns to the soldiers~Search the house! Sergeant Miller, you take the room yonder. Private Wills, you take the loft there. (Both soldiers do as they are bid. MILLER exits to the room and WILLS to the loft. CHRICHTON wanders around the room.) Had you company tonight, Mistress Steel?

MARY-Whit a dae in ma ain hoose, is nae concern 0′ yours! CHRICHTON-Ah, but it is my concern, especially when you harbour outlaws.

MARY-DAVIE’s nae outlaw!

CHRICHTON (turning on her QSo, your husband was here tonight?

MARY-A didnae say that.

CHRICHTON -NO, indeed you did not . . . well then, let me rephrase my question. You had a visitor tonight?

MARY &auses before speaking)A didnae deny it.

CHRICHTON-That is much better. Now then..

MARY-It wis ma sister4n4aw, Mairon, wha caed in a wee while syne, and if ye dinae believe me, send yin 0′ yer men tae bring her here, if ye still think me a leer.

CHRICHTON -That won’t be necessary Mistress Steel; I can see that we are very much alike. (Going to her.) We live by our wits, you and I. However, I am sure I can find some way to persuade you to tell me where I might find your husband. (He lifts his arm, MARY draws back from him.) Come now, I do not wish to harm you. (The soldiers have returned unseen by CHRICHTON I am not really a hard man. (He tries to put his arm around MARY’S waist.) I may have a somewhat, fiery temper, but I am sure you admire that in a man. (He tries to draw MARY closer. MARY struggles with him. SERGEANT MILLER coughs to attract CHRICHTON attention. CHRICHTON breaks from MARY and roars at MILLER.) What have you to report. . . Are you both dumb?

MILLER-Nothing to report, Sir!

CHRICHTON (turns to PRIVATE WILLSON) And you.. .?

WILLSON (stammers)Nothing.. . Sir!

CHRICHTON-Nothing? You have nothing to report?

WILLSON.. .. Ye… Yes, Sir.

CHRICHTON-You have much to learn in the ways of the Military, Private Wills . . . (Shouting at him.) I want information . . . Where does that entrance lead to; are there one or more apartments . . .? Report Private Wills.

WILSON (stands to attention)-Yes Sir, the stairway leads to a grain loft, Sir . . . at the rear is a stepladder leading down to a cattle shed. On one wall of the building there is a doorway. .

CHRICHTON Enough, enough! You learn quickly Private Wills. You are not aware of it, but I am quite familiar with these premises. (Turning to MARY.) Is that not so, Mistress Steel? (He tries again to embrace her.) You have had the pleasure of my company many times, have you not Mistress Steel. (At this MARY slaps his face. CHRICHTON retaliates.) You try my patience too much, wench. (SERGEANT MILLER makes a move towards MARY.) Leave her be, Sergeant. Private Wills, bring me the child. (Points to the cradle.)

WILLS-The child, Sir?..

CHRICHTON -Bring it to me, Wills. (Wins hesitates and looks at MILLER.)

(MARY slides across the floor to the cradle.)

MARY Pleading~Dae as ye Mdii wae me, but leave ma bairn. (CHRICHTON strides over to her.)

CHRICHTON (drawing her off the cradIe Tell me then, where can I find David Steel?

MARY-A keep tellin’ ye, a diriae ken… (He shakes her.)

CHRICHTON -You will tell me, or I will beat it out of you.

MARY-A cannie tell ye whit a dinnae ken.

(CHRICHTON raises his hand to strike her. MARY draws herself back, expecting the blow. At this a musket shot is heard in the distance. CHRIGHTON releases his hold on MARY, who falls to the floor. A second shot is heard.)

DAVIE . . . (CHRICHTON drags her from the floor.)

CHRICHTON-I knew it, he was here, you will suffer deady for your deceit Mistress Steel. (He goes towarir the &ior.)

(PRIVATE POOLE enters. He is a boy of 16’Yr of age.)

POOLE-Lieutenant, Sir!

CHRICHTON (to POOLE)Who fired those shots?

POOLE-A man has been sighted on the hill, Sir.

CHRICHTON-Very well… (POOLE turns to go out) Pock!

POOLE-Yes Sir?

CHRICHTON-Stay here and guard this door . . . let no one enter.

POOLE-Yes Sir! (POOLE takes up position beside the door ).

CHRICHTON (to MILLER and WILLS)-Don’t just stand there, after him you fools. (All three men go out.)

(A noise is heard outside the main door. The young soldier lifts his musket.)

POOLE-Who goes there?

(MARION enters, she hesitates, looks at POOLE then sees MARY is distressed and goes to her.)

MARION-Whit’s been gaen oan here?

MARY-It disnae metter

MARION (turning to POOLE)-Wis this your

POOLE-No

MARION-It’s jist as weel. Noo, ootside wae ye.

POOLE-But Ma’am, I have my orders.

MARON-Ootside wae ye a say, ye’ve nae business in here. Shoosh. (POOLE goes out.)

MARY-A didnae think ye had it in ye Mairon.

MARON-Ach, he’s jist a bit laddie. When ma heckles are up a can face the deil.

MARY-It’s jist as weel Mairon. He’s no faur frae here this nicbt.

MARION-Chrichton… whit did that butcher dae tae ye?

MARY-Leave it be Mairon.

MARION-Did he…

MARY-Forget aboot me, awa’ hame and look tae yer am, ye can dae nae guid here.

MARION (drawing her close)-There noo.

MARY-There’s nae saying’ whit notions that monster has in his heid this nicht.

(MARY cries, MARION draws her closer, they sit in silence for a moment. TAM appears at the top of the loft steps.)

TAM-Mairon?-(MARION looks up, signals him to stay where he is. Looks at the door, then goes to him. MARY sits alone on the bench.)

MARION-Wheesht noo. There’s a guard posted on the door. MARY (looking up at TAM)-It’s DAVIE they’re efter then?

(TAM goes to her and sits beside her.)

TAM-Aye Mary. When we left the hoose, we got tae the top 0′ the hill and DAVIE thocht it better for us tae split up. Better yin tae get caught than twa. A hid for a while, but DAVIE must hae kept oan the move and yin 0′ the sodgers must hae spotted him. A saw Chrichton and his men leave here and then Mairon comin’ in . . . a jist had tae come doon tae let her ken a wis safe.

MARON-A’richt wae a sodger at the door. Tam, your no’ safe here.

TAM-A’m sorry Mary; but dinnae fear, he’ll fox them again.

MARY-Aye, maybe yer richt Tam, maybe yer richt.

MARION-Tam! . . . (TAM rises and goes to MARION, they embrace. POOLE enters unseen, points his musket at TAM.)

POOLE-Stand firm Sir! (TAM and MARION turn to him.)

MARION (clings to TAM)-Oh, Tam…

TAM-Pit doon yer musket laddie, a’ll no’ harm ye.

POOLE-I have my orders Sir. Stand firm or I fire. (POOLE raises his musket and aims at TAM.)

TAM-Pit it doon lad, ye hae nae hen tae dae it.

POOLE-I am a soldier of the King, I must carry out my orders.

TAM-Shoot me if ye will, but ye’ll hae tae shoot me in the back. (TAM stares at him for a moment. TAM turns and walks slowly to the loft steps. MARION and MARY do not more, but watch POOLE. POOLE keeps his sights on TAM. But does not fire. TAM bounds up the steps and is gone. MAIRON goes to POOLE.)

MAIRON-Thank ye laddie. (POOLE has put down the musket.) POOLE-Mistress, what am I to do? The lieutenant will have me shot.

MARION-Dinnae fear laddie, yer secret’s safe wae us. Noo awa’ oot by and carry oot yer orders.

POOLE-Ma’am?

MARION-Guard the door like ye were telt.

POOLE-Yes Ma’am. (He goes out.)

(MARION sits beside MARY.)

MARY-Mairon, a’d like tae be by inasel’ for a while…

MARION-Aye, weel. . . a’ll get awa’ hame. A’ll look in oan ye in the mornin’, tae see how ye are. Noo try and get some sleep. (She rises and goes to the door.) Ye’re shair ye’ll be a’richt?

MARY-Aye, a’ll be a’richt. Quid nicht Mairon.

MARION-Guid nicht then. Dinnae fear, DAVIE’ll be a’richt. MARY-Aye… (MARION goes out.)

(MARY sits for a moment, then lifts the bible.)

POOLE-Excuse me Ma’am, the Lieutenant is coming back. (He stands guard just inside the door. MARY turns away towards the fireplace. There is a commotion outside. CHRICHTON enters, he is pleased with himself)

CHRICHTON (to POOLE)-Out! . . . (POOLE exits.) Well Mistress Steel, the fox is caught. (MARY makes no reply.) You wish to see him? (Again MARY makes no reply. He calls to soldiers.) Bring him in! (SERGEANT MILLER and PRIVATE WILLS bring in DAVIE. He is bound by the wrists, is exhausted and the soldiers have to support him. They stand inside the main door.) Here he is Mistress Steel, you have no welcome for him? (He goes to MARY and turns her round to look at DAVIE. She stares at him not knowing whether he is dead or alive.) Let him go. (The soldiers release their hold on him and he falls in a lump. MARY squeals.)

DAVIE (moans as he hits the floor)-Mary.

MARY-DAVIE, ye’re alive! (She tries to go to him but CHRICIITON stops her.)

CHRICHTON-Look well, Mistress Steel. It will be sometime before you see him again.

MARY-DAVIE…

CHRICHTON-Who knows, but this maybe your last chance to see him, he may rot like the rat he is in some far off jail.

MARY-No!

CHRICHTON-Or he may be deported… now that would be a fine recommendation.

DAVIE-Mary . . . Mary . . . (MARY breaks free from CHRICHTON, who stands and laughs.)

MARY (kneeling beside him)-A’m here DAVIE . . . (She hugs him.)

DAVIE-Water, Mary… bring me water… (MARY rises and goes to table. DAVIE slightly recovers.)

CHRICHTON (meets MARY at table)-The prisoner is not allowed water, unless on my orders.

MARY-Whit kind o’ a man are ye that would refuse a man sic a sma’ favour?

CHRICHTON (hesitates)-Very well. . . (MARY goes to DAVIE and gives him a drink. He is about to drink again.) That is enough. Sergeant Miller, take him away!

MARY-No, no… dinnae tak’ him.

DAVIE-A’ll be a’richt Mary, pray for me.

MARY (turns to CHRICHTON)-Please sir, dinnae tak’ him. No’ jist yet.

CHRICHTON-Miller, Wills, take him away. (They lift DAVIE from the floor.)

MARY (pleading)-Please sir, twa meenits wae ma ‘rum before ye tak’ him. Please, it’s a sma’ request (MARY sildes to the floor) Twa meenits . . . that’s a’ a ask.

CHRICHTON-Hush woman, my heart is not as black as you would paint it Very well, one minute, but that is all.

(To the soldiers) Release him. (The soldiers untie his hanir, he is still very weak. MARY goes to him and helps him to the kist.)

CHRICHTON-This place is completely surrounded. Do not try to escape or you will be shot. (To the soldiers.) Out!

MARY-He is too weak to escape.

CHRICHTON-He is not too weak to try. (He goes out.)

MARY-How did they get ye DAVIE?

DAVIE-A had tae gie up the chase Mary. A wis exhausted. A got as faur as the Logan Watter. When a wis wade’n’ ower, ma powder bag got wet and frac then oan it wis hopeless. A ran for anither hunner yairds, but they surrounded me. If a had ran frae where a wis hidin’ they wid hae shot me in the back. Cbrichton shouted tae me tae surrender wae the offer o’ a fair trial in Edinburgh. A could dae naethin’ but accept.

MARY-But, DAVIE. That man’s words can mean but link. He could shoot ye oan the road an’s say ye tried tae escape.

DAVIE-If a hadnae gien up when a did a widnae be sittin’

DAVIE-Hae faith in the Lord, Mary and ye’ll win through. Look tae yersel’ and the bairns. Tell them o’ their faither if they ask…

MARY-A’ll tell them o’ ye DAVIE, every day a’ll tell them 0′ ye, and when ye come hame. . . when. . . (She cries bitterly.)

DAVIE-Aye, lass. When a cam hame, we’ll start afresh. Jist wait an’ see. . . (Lifting MARY’S head.) Nae man could ask for better in a wife than you Mary. A lo’e ye dearly . . . keep me in yer hen, lass.

MARY-DAVIE. . . (Grabs at him and they embrace.) (CHRICHTON enters, followed by MILLER and WILLS.)

CHRICHTON (to soldiers Take him and bind him. (DAVIE stands. The soldiers tie his hands in front.) Bring me a drink Mistress Steel. (MARY hesitates.)

DAVIE-Do as he bids ye Mary. (She goes to the table for water.)

CHRICHTON (goes towards MARY)-Now, Mistress Steel, your husband is in my care. I won’t have the opportunity of visiting you so often. However, should I feel the need for a little comfort, I will call on you again.

DAVIE-Leave her be . . . (He tries to struggle free.)

CHRICHTON (putting his arm around her waist)What say you Mistress Stee?

MARY-Ye are nothing but the lowest of animals. Ye asked for watter, tak’ it. (MARY throws the water in CHRICHTON’S face.)

CHRICHTON-Wench, I will have you now. . . (He makes a grab at MARY. DAVIE breaks free. Rushes to CHRICHTON and puts his arms round CHRICHTON’s neck and attempts to strangle him. The soldiers try to hold him. After a struggle, they manage. MARY has struggled free. They put a musket through DAVIE’S arms to hold him. CHRICHTON recovers enough to go to DAVIE and to strike him on the face.) You will pay for this. (DAVIE tries to get at him. He lifts a foot and kicks CHRICHTON, who goes spinning across the floor. he gets up and addresses the soldiers with a roar.) Take him out and shoot him

MARY-No, not that . . spare him, spare him. (She goes to CHRICHTON, who pushes her away.)

CHRICHTON-Sergeant Miller, that is an order.

DAVIE-You promised me a fair trial.

CHRICHTON-Sergeant! Do you disobey my orders?

MILLER-Yes, Sir.

CHRICHTON-I want this man shot.

MILLER-our orders of the day aree to apprehend any fugitives we find and take them in for trial.

CHRICHTON (bursting)I give the orders here.

MILLER-We have no orders to shoot this man.

CHRICHTON-if you will not do it, I will find someone who will. (He strides to the door.) Private Poole! (Poole enters.)

POOLE-Yes, Sir.

CHRICHTON-Find me McDuar of Finnoch, and bring him to me. At once.

POOLE-Yes, Sir. (POOLE goes out.)

CHRICHTON-YOU are a disgrace to your regiment.

MILLER-No, Sir. It is you who are the disgrace. You have assaulted this woman, for no good reason. Made advances to her in front of Private Wills and myself and in front of her husband. What kind of a Man are you?

CHRICHTON-Guard your tongue, Sergeant, or I will have you shot as well. (Turning to door.) where is McDuar of Finnoch? (He goes towaras door.)

MILLER (to DAVIE)-It is not in my power to save you, Sir. Ml I can give you is a moment with your wife before you are taken. (They let DAVIE go. MARY and DAVIE embrace. MARY cries bitterly. CHRICHTON enters with McDuar. A large rough man in his late 5O’s.)

CHRICHTON (surveying the scene)-What goes on here? (Turns to McDuar.) Take him out and have him shot!

(MCDUAR goes to DAVIE and hauls him out. MARY makes towards DAVIE. MILLER and WILLS hold MARY.)

DAVIE (struggles to get free. As he passes CHRICHTON.) Murderer, murderer . . . Pray for ma soul Mary. (DAVIE is dragged out by McDUAR. CHRICHTON follows. MARY grabs at CHRICHTON. MILLER and WILLS hold her back from trying to run out. DAVIE can be heard shouting in the distance.) Mary . . .

WILLS-Sit by the fire, Mistress Steel. This is no sight for your eyes.

MARY (now hysterical) Let me go and plead for him.

MILLER-It is too late Ma’am.

MARY (stares out)-Davie . . . (Shots are heard. MARY screams and SERGEANT MILLER and PRIVATE WILLS help her to the bench.)

MARY-Davie.

CHRICHTON (entering)-Bring him in.

(MCDUAR enters dragging the corpse. DAVIE’S head is covered in blood. He thumps down the corpse. MARY rises and stares at it.)

CHRICHTON Our business is done here. Withdraw all of you. (All withdraw except CHRICHTON. He takes a step towards MARY.) This whole affair could have been avoided, Mistress Steel

MARY (screaming at him)-Get out . . . and leave me be Get out! (CHRICHTON turns and goes out.)

CHRICHTON (voice off) Mount up, we have other fish to catch.

(The sound of horses and men fade in the distance.)

(MARY approaches DAVIE and kneels beside him. She wipes his bloodstained face with the hem of her skirt and lifting one of his hands, she clasps it tightly to her bosom. Bending over him, she lightly kisses his forehead. Straightening herself a little, still clasping his hand, she gently strokes his hair.)

MARY (trying to control her heartbreak)-I’lI tell the bairns o’ye, Davie . . I’ll tell them how ye focht for them. . An’ I’ll tell them that the guid Lord’s ta’en ye frae them. . . (Breaking down.) Oh, Davie, hoo am I gaen tae tell them, Davie? . . . (She falls sobbing across the dead body of her husband). . . Oh, Davie.. . Davie. . DAVIE…

CURTAIN

Source Wikimedia Commons image

This Monument to David Steel now stands at Skellyhill farm near Lesmahagow

This page is from the web site “Lesmahagow Online,” currently unavailable.

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About jayhack2012

I help you find actionable insight.
This entry was posted in Character Studies, Covenanter War, UK-Scotland-South and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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