|Lovers' Vows, by Mrs. Inchbald
Frederick (Henry Crawford)
Agatha (Maria Bertram)
Anhalt (Edmund Bertram)
Amelia (Mary Crawford)
Baron Wildenhaim (Mr Yates)
Landlord/Verdun (Tom Bertram)
Count Cassel (Mr Rushworth)
THE PLAY BEGINS
Narrator: Agatha (Maria Bertram) is discovered, poor, ill and starving, pleading with the churlish Landlord (Tom Bertram) of an inn for charity. The Landlord of the inn leads Agatha by the hand out of his house.
Landlord: No, no! no room for you any longer--It is the fair to-day in the next village; as great a fair as any in the German dominions. The country people with their wives and children take up every corner we have.
Agatha: You will turn a poor sick woman out of doors who has spent her last farthing in your house.
Landlord: For that very reason; because she has spent her last farthing.
Agatha: I can work.
Landlord: You can hardly move your hands.
Agatha: My strength will come again.
Landlord: Then you may come again.
Agatha: What am I to do? Where shall I go?
Landlord: It is fine weather--you may go any where.
Agatha: Who will give me a morsel of bread to satisfy my hunger?
Landlord: Sick people eat but little.
Agatha: Hard, unfeeling man, have pity.
Landlord: When times are hard, pity is too expensive for a poor man. Ask alms of the different people that go by.
Agatha: Beg! I would rather starve.
Landlord: You may beg and starve too. What a fine lady you are! Many an honest woman has been obliged to beg. Why should not you?
Narrator: Her son Frederick, (Henry Crawford) long away at the wars, arrives on leave and finds her in this condition.
Frederick: Mother! [With amazement and grief.] Mother! For God's sake what is this! How is this! And why do I find my mother thus? Speak!
Agatha: I cannot speak, dear son! [[Maria reads stage direction aloud]] [Rising and embracing him.] My dear Frederick! The joy is too great--I was not prepared--
[[Fanny gasps, blushes]]
Frederick: Dear mother, compose yourself: [[Henry reads stage direction aloud]] [leans against his breast] now, then, be comforted. How she trembles! She is fainting.
Agatha: I am so weak, and my head so giddy--nothing to eat all yesterday.
Frederick: Good heavens! Here is my little money, take it all! Oh mother! mother!
Narrator: A crisis arises when Frederick tells his mother that he has returned in search of his official German birth certificate, and she tells him that he does not have one because he has no official father. Frederick had not known until this moment that he was a bastard. He is crushed, but refuses to judge his mother.
Agatha [[Reads stage direction aloud]] [presses him to her breast]: Where could be found such another son?
[[More signs of distress from Fanny]]
Frederick: But tell me my father's name, that I may know how to shun him.
Agatha: Baron Wildenhaim.
Frederick: Baron Wildenhaim! I shall never forget it!
Narrator: Frederick is now running out of money and desperate as to how to provide for his mother. He is able to place her with a charitable Cottager and his rather crabby Wife.
Narrator: Meanwhile, up at the Castle, Baron von Wildenhaim (Mr. Yates) has returned from a long sojourn abroad, where his wife has recently died. He has one child, a daughter, Amelia (Mary Crawford), who has been instructed by a tutor, the clergyman, Mr. Anhalt (Edmund Bertram). Visiting with Baron von Wildenhaim is another nobleman, the foppish and empty-headed Count Cassel (Mr. Rushworth). [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]] He is interested in marrying Amelia, but the Baron is uneasy about the idea.
Baron: I'll tell you in a few words why I sent for you. Count Cassel [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]] is here, and wishes to marry my daughter.
Anhalt [much concerned]: Really!
Baron: He is--he--in a word I don't like him.
Anhalt [with emotion]: And Miss Wildenhaim--
Baron: I shall not command, neither persuade her to the marriage--I know too well the fatal influence of parents on such a subject. Objections to be sure, if they could be removed--But when you find a man's head without brains, and his bosom without a heart, these are important articles to supply
Anhalt: With your permission, Baron, I will ask one question. What remains to interest you in favour of a man, whose head and heart are good for nothing?
Baron: Birth and fortune. Yet, if I thought my daughter absolutely disliked him, or that she loved another, I would not thwart a first affection;--no, for the world, I would not. [sighing.] But that her affections are already bestowed, is not probable.
Anhalt: Are you of opinion that she will never fall in love?
Baron: Oh! no. I am of opinion that no woman ever arrived at the age of twenty without that misfortune.--But this is another subject.--Go to Amelia--explain to her the duties of a wife and of a mother.--If she comprehends them, as she ought, then ask her if she thinks she could fulfil those duties, as the wife of Count Cassel. [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]]
Anhalt: I will.--But--I--Miss Wildenhaim--[confused]. I shall--I--I shall obey your commands.
Anhalt: This commission of the Baron's in respect to his daughter, I am--[looks about]--If I shou'd meet her now, I cannot--I must recover myself first, and then prepare.--A walk in the fields, and a fervent prayer--After these, I trust, I shall return, as a man whose views are solely placed on a future world; all hopes in this, with fortitude resigned
Narrator: Amelia, however, has her own notions on the subject, and tries to get Mr. Anhalt to confess that he returns her love for him. Knowing the great class barrier between the two, Mr. Anhalt manfully tries to conceal that he does, in fact, love Amelia.
Anhalt [to himself]: Oh! Heavens!-[to Amelia]. I--I come from your father with a commission.--If you please, we will sit down. [He places chairs, and they sit.] Count Cassel [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]] is arrived.
Amelia: Yes, I know.
Anhalt: And do you know for what reason?
Amelia: He wishes to marry me.
Anhalt: Does he? [hastily] But believe me, the Baron will not persuade you--No, I am sure he will not.
Amelia: I know that.
Anhalt: He wishes that I should ascertain whether you have an inclination--
Amelia: I will not marry.
Anhalt: You mean to say, you will not fall in love.
Amelia: Oh no! [ashamed] I am in love.
Anhalt: Are in love! [starting] And with the Count? [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]]
Amelia: I wish I was.
Anhalt: Why so?
Amelia: Because he would, perhaps, love me again.
Anhalt [warmly]: Who is there that would not?
Amelia: Would you?
[[Sounds of distress from Fanny Price]]
Narrator: Miss Price, are you unwell?
[[Sounds of murmured denial from Fanny, returns to sewing with a vengeance.]]
Narrator: [to actors] Pray continue.
Anhalt: [[aside] Uh… oh yes…] Who is there that would not?
Amelia: Would you?
Anhalt: I--I--me--I--I am out of the question.
Amelia: No; you are the very person to whom I have put the question.
Anhalt: What do you mean?
Amelia: I am glad you don't understand me. I was afraid I had spoken too plain. [in confusion].
Anhalt: Understand you!--As to that--I am not dull.
Amelia: I know you are not--And as you have for a long time instructed me, why should not I now begin to teach you?
Anhalt: Teach me what?
Amelia: Whatever I know, and you don't.
Anhalt: There are some things I had rather never know.
Amelia: So you may remember I said when you began to teach me mathematics. I said I had rather not know it--But now I have learnt it gives me a great deal of pleasure--and [hesitating] perhaps, who can tell, but that I might teach something as pleasant to you, as resolving a problem is to me.
Anhalt: Woman herself is a problem.
Amelia: And I'll teach you to make her out.
Anhalt: You teach?
Amelia: Why not? none but a woman can teach the science of herself: and though I own I am very young, a young woman may be as agreeable for a tutoress as an old one.--I am sure I always learnt faster from you than from the old clergyman who taught me before you came.
Anhalt: This is nothing to the subject.
Amelia: What is the subject?
Amelia [going up to him]: Come, then, teach it me--teach it me as you taught me geography, languages, and other important things.
Anhalt [turning from her]: Pshaw!
Amelia: Ah! you won't--You know you have already taught me that, and you won't begin again.
Anhalt: You misconstrue--you misconceive every thing I say or do. The subject l came to you upon was marriage.
Amelia: A very proper subject from the man who has taught me love, and I accept the proposal [curtsying].
[[More sounds of distress from Fanny]]
Narrator: Miss Price, are you sure you are all right? Might I get you something?
[[More head shaking, wiping a tear, "no, no, no…"]]
Narrator: Very well. Ahem. Meanwhile, Frederick, desperate, attempts to rob the Baron when sufficient charity for his mother is refused. He is subdued and imprisoned, and is fast on the road to execution. The Baron's Butler, named Verdun, (Tom Bertram) who insists upon turning the day's events, or messages that he has to give, into ridiculous rhymes, and delivering them with an insistent sense of "stage presence" relates the events to Amelia and Anhalt
Butler: Excuse [pulls out a paper] the haste in which it was written. I heard the news in the fields--always have paper and a pencil about me, and composed the whole forty lines crossing the meadows and the park in my way home. [reads.]
Oh Muse, ascend the forked mount.
And lofty strains prepare,
About a Baron and a Count, [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]]
Who went to hunt the hare.
The hare she ran with utmost speed,
And sad, and anxious looks,
Because the furious hounds indeed.
Were near to her, gadzooks.
At length, the Count [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]] and Baron bold
Their footsteps homeward bended;
For why, because, as you were told,
The hunting it was ended.
Before them strait a youth appears,
Who made a piteous pother,
And told a tale with many tears,
About his dying mother.
The youth was in severe distress,
And seem'd as he had spent all,
He look'd a soldier by his dress;
For that was regimental.
The Baron's heart was full of ruth,
While from his eye fell brine o!
And soon he gave the mournful youth
A little ready rino.
He gave a shilling as I live,
Which, sure, was mighty well;
But to some people if you give
An inch--they'll take and ell.
The youth then drew his martial knife.
And seiz'd the Baron's collar,
He swore he'd have the Baron's life,
Or else another dollar.
Then did the Baron in a fume.
Soon raise a mighty din,
Whereon came butler, huntsman, groom,
And eke the whipper-in.
Maugre this young man's warlike coat,
They bore him off to prison;
And held so strongly by his throat,
They almost stopt his whizzen.
Soon may a neckcloth, call'd a rope,
Of robbing cure this elf;
If so I'll write, without a trope,
His dying speech myself.
And had the Baron chanc'd to die,
Oh! grief to all the nation,
I must have made an elegy,
And not this fine narration.
Henceforth let those who all have spent,
And would by begging live,
Take warning here, and be content,
With what folks chuse to give.
Narrator: In the closing scenes, Frederick is discovered to be the Baron's son and the repentant Baron pardons him, and rescues Agatha, whom he had deserted and cast off.
Narrator: The Baron thinks that generous charity will be enough, but the upright Mr. Anhalt preaches to him that marriage is the only proper amends he can make to Agatha.
Baron: Amelia, you have a brother.
Amelia: I have just heard so, my Lord; and rejoice to find the news confirmed by you.
Baron: I know, my dear Amelia, I can repay you for the loss of Count Cassel [[Mr. Rushworth sock puppet: "I have two and forty speeches!"]]; but what return can I make to you for the loss of half your fortune?
|Amelia: My brother's love will be ample recompense.
Baron: I will reward you better. Mr. Anhalt, the battle I have just fought, I owe to myself: the victory I gained, I owe to you. A man of your principles, at once a teacher and an example of virtue, exalts his rank in life to a level with the noblest family--and I shall be proud to receive you as my son.
Anhalt: [falling on his knees, and taking the Baron's hand]. My lord, you overwhelm me with confusion, as well as with joy.
Baron: My obligations to you are infinite--Amelia shall pay the debt. [Gives her to him.]
Amelia: Oh, my dear father! [embracing the Baron] what blessings have you bestowed on me in one day. [to Anhalt.] I will be your scholar still, and use more dilligence than ever to please my master.
Anhalt: His present happiness admits of no addition.
Baron: Nor does mine--And yet there is another task to perform that will require more fortitude, more courage, than this has done! A trial that!--[bursts into tears]--I cannot prevent them--Let me--let me--A few minutes will bring me to myself--Where is Agatha?
Anhalt: I will go, and fetch her. [Exit Anhalt at an upper entrance.]
Baron: Stop! Let me first recover a little. [Walkes up and down, sighing bitterly--looks at the door through which Anhalt left the room.] That door she will come from--That was once the dressing-room of my mother--From that door I have seen her come many times--have been delighted with her lovely smiles--How shall I now behold her altered looks! Frederick must be my mediator.--Where is he? Where is my son?--Now I am ready--my heart is prepared to receive her--Haste! haste! Bring her in.
[He looks stedfastly at the door--Anhalt leads on Agatha--The Baron runs and clasps her in his arms--Supported by him, she sinks on a chair which Amelia places in the middle of the stage--The Baron kneels by her side, holding her hand.]
Baron: Agatha, Agatha, do you know this voice?
Baron: Can you forgive me?
Agatha: I forgive you. [embracing him].
[Frederick throws himself on his knees by the other side of his mother-[[Maria reads stage direction aloud]] She clasps him in her arms.--Amelia is placed on the side of her father attentively viewing Agatha--Anhalt stands on the side of Frederick with his hands gratefully raised to Heaven.]