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Dark Earth - Eastern Angles

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					                                   Dark Earth
                            by Forbes Bramble
                                   (second draft)


Characters
EZRA
ECCLESIASTES
WARBURTON
RICHARD, his son
JACOB DE VRIES
PETER DADE, local lad
EMMS, vicar
SYLHAM, landowner and partner
TURNER, works manager
2 CHAINMEN
2 SURVEYORS
PARKER – sc.8 & ?
FRIEND – sc. 8
LAMBERT – sc. 9
FELIX, elderly villager
SIMON PATRICK, Bishop of Ely
SCRIBES

SARAH, daughter of Warburton
RUTH, Warburton’s wife
CRISTEEN, Vries’ wife
KATJA, their daughter
CLARA, black smith
DELIA, wife of Felix
SERVING GIRL


All enquiries to Eastern Angles, Sir John Mills Theatre, Gatacre Road, Ipswich IP1
2LQ
Tel 01473 218202 www.easternangles.co.uk info@easternangles.co.uk
DARK EARTH


SCENE 1
                Dawn light. The luminescence increases but it is still well
                before sun-up. A flat-bottomed boat appears. It is a fowling
                punt as can be clearly seen by the long punt-gun projecting
                from the bow. There are two occupants, one lying flat behind
                the gun to aim it by sighting down the barrel, the other at the
                stern paddling/ steering with concentrated care.
                The paddling stops and they sit motionless, listening. The
                only sounds are the rustling of reeds and the distant calling
                of water birds, the rippling of water along the sides of the
                boat. The men are Ecclesiastes Dunn and his son Ezra.


EZRA.           Nothing...just nothing... we should move...
ECCLESIASTES    He motions for Ezra to keep quiet.
                Something...
EZRA.           That’s just the eels in the bucket...
                He swipes at mosquitoes around his head
ECCLESIASTES.   Stop that! Listen.
                Ecclesiastes produces a calling lure from his pocket. They
                listen and hear responding noises
EZRA            I told you we should move... We saw them coming down
                over there. Hundreds...
                Ecclesiastes fires the punt gun. The boat jerks violently. A
                tremendous row of ducks follows.
EZRA            Bloody Hell! What did you put in that!
ECCLESIASTES    Paddle! Paddle!
                They paddle sometimes pausing to pick up birds to throw
                into the boat
EZRA            There...over there.....left side...alongside...there's a dozen
                over there.....we must have three dozen....twelve geese
ECCLESIASTES    All cleaned up? Then lets get the hell out of here...
EZRA            Nobody could get in here...'cept us.....


                They paddle out of sight. Bird noises dwindle. Only the
                sound of wind stirring the rushes


                                                                                 1
SCENE 2
          Sarah, a young woman in her twenties, sits at a desk and writes
          by candlelight. She has nearly completed an entry. She reads


SARAH     "Fifth of April, One Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety. Father is
          delighted today, almost jovial. The Partners have received
          Parliamentary Approval for the drainage and now the Dutchman,
          Mijnheer de Vries, who is to carry it out, has arrived with his wife
          and daughter. They are changing for dinner after an exhausting
          journey, having sailed from Holland only yesterday then travelled
          by coach. Father says the cost will be enormous and that we
          must treat Mijnheer de Vries with proper respect for these Dutch
          engineers are the best at this work. He says we are set for great
          changes for the better, and that this will change our swamps and
          meres into the best tillage and grazing in the Eastern Counties.
          Miss de Vries is very pretty, I think, but it is difficult to see for she
          arrived wearing so much starched cloth she almost crackled. Mr
          de Vries, (Mijnheer!) wears a huge hat so that he looks like a
          mushroom, and Mrs de Vries has such a large stiff skirt she looks
          like a dinner-bell! We are to have wine with water for dinner in
          honour of our guests, and Mama is nervous about what they eat.
          Richard must behave himself, for now that he is a Partner, I think
          he gives himself airs and graces he does not deserve, and he
          has his eye on Miss de Vries, already I think. There have been
          many shots in the fen this evening.
          The fowlers are out. Father will not be pleased.
          So to dinner!"




                                                                                2
SCENE 3
              A paneled room of the Jacobean period with a heavy table and
              sideboard laid out with food, glasses, and decanters. By the table
              are Warburton, his son Richard, wife Ruth, Jacob de Vries, his
              wife Cristeen and daughter Katja. The Dutch trio are very
              formally dressed, the Warburton family less so. Ruth is clearly
              flustered.
RUTH          I haven't any order of seating.... Mr de Vries, you had better sit at
              that end of the table, my husband at this…
              Mrs De Vries, come and sit with me. Sarah you on the other
              side...
RICHARD       I'll sit with Miss de Vries.....
              They take up their places, the men helping with chairs except
              Richard who conspicuously does nothing
WARBURTON. I hope you are rested. You've had a long journey...How was the
           crossing?
DE VRIES.     In near-perfect English
              It was fair enough. From Scheveningen in an English ship...a
              Captain Burgess. Dealing in wool and herring. We could
              perhaps have done without the herring! Cristeen and Katja
              stayed in the cabin...there was only one cabin....but it was a fair
              enough crossing. I have done it before. Once out of the islands,
              the waves get up. Lowestoft is all fish and nets.
RUTH          And were you all right? Here we are expecting you to sit and
              have supper. Please say if you would rather just rest.
CRISTEEN      Slight accent
              You are kind, but no thanks...
DE VRIES      This Captain Burgess...
              Sarah is handing round food. Ruth passes things on.
               ... he asked me why I came to England.... Thank you. I told him I
              had come for the Engelse Dyckage, and I think he thought I was
              a spy! I had to explain to him I was a Drainer. A Dutch Drainer,
              like Vermuyden...he asked me what I was going to do! I said we
              were going to do battle with the enemy, water, who creeps up on
              us, and drive him back. He left me alone after that!
WARBURTON. Good answer sir! Let us say grace. If you have no objection Mr
           de Vries. This is a God-fearing house...
DE VRIES.     Sir, we always say grace at home. It is good that we think alike.
              A good sign.



                                                                                3
WARBURTON. Good Lord thank you for delivering to us soundly these three
           souls. We ask you to look on us all and our works with favour, as
           we look on you as the divine provider of all things. Bless this our
           meal that thou has seen fit to provide, for God said "I have given
           you every herb bearing seed which is epon the face of the earth,
           and every tree, in the which of the tree is the fruit of a tree
           yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat" Amen.
DE VRIES       et al Amen.
WARBURTON Wine?
DE VRIES       Thank you, I do not. Nor any of us. But we must not stop you...
               Warburton fills the glasses. Richard, watched by Katja, sips
               some and fills it to the brim again
DE VRIES       As we came here, we passed through land much like my own.
               Tiled roofs, waterways and few crossings. Sheep and oxen. So
               much marsh we could have been at home in Zeeland. I see you
               have a fine church, with a tower.
WARBURTON Oxay church.
DE VRIES       I hope we shall worship there.
WARBURTON The vicar, a man called Emms, is one of the Drainage Partners.
          He's a learned man.
DE VRIES.      Oh?
RICHARD        What father means, is awkward.
RUTH           You mustn't say that!
WARBURTON What Richard means is that he can sometimes be difficult. You'll
          meet him at the Partner's Meeting.
DE VRIES       And you, Mr Richard, you must be very proud to be a Partner in
               such an exciting enterprise.
RICHARD        Such an expensive exercise.
DE VRIES       These things are. They say in Holland that we build our sea-walls
               with guilders, but it is worth it in the end.
RICHARD        The whole wealth of this estate is tied up in this.
WARBURTON Not the whole wealth! You should pay more attention to the facts
          and figures.
RICHARD        I've put my foot in it again. Tell me, Katja, what are the fashions
               in Holland? What do you do for entertainment?
               The sound of another shot. Warburton leaps to his feet and
               stares out of the window. All stare after him, startled
RUTH           I'm sorry...


                                                                                 4
WARBURTON It's those damned slodgers again, with their punt guns...
RUTH           Do sit down.
WARBURTON You see Mr de Vries, we have these poachers, who live off our
          wildfowl as if it's their own. They take them by the hundred. And
          eels by the thousand. From my fen. And they say they have
          every right to do so because they have always done it. They
          have some sheep, they have some oxen, but it's the water they
          want, like some breed of frogs. Two penny jacks, scales on their
          backs. They live more in the water than they do on land.
DE VRIES.      Can't they see the advantage of drainage? In Holland we grow
               barley and what you call coleseed...the yellow flowers, the oil.
WARBURTON Rape. The fenmen call it the Dutch Disease! They want to keep
          their sedge and reed. They sell the reed for thatch and for filling
          up walls and floors to keep the cold out, and live in hovels of mud
          stirred in with it. And use my fen as a free larder.
RUTH           They are not all as bad as that! You saw, Mr de Vries, they have
               sheep and oxen. And pigs.
DE VRIES.      You see, with our work in Holland we make new land for farmers,
               where there was none before. No ducks and eels, seagulls and
               shells
CRISTEEN       Sand. And waves. And flood! We have the floods like the bible!
SARAH          Doesn't it feel strange? Walking on the bottom of the sea...
DE VRIES.      Then, Miss Warburton, when we have got the sea out we let the
               rivers in. To flood the polders in winter and bring in dichts libben,
               what you call silt. But I talk far too much about all that. Do we
               have the labour, Mr Warburton? These slodgers, how do they
               work?
RICHARD        They don't work! Have you seen anyone dig with webbed feet?
RUTH.          Richard!
RICHARD        They say it's true! Some of them are born like frogs, their toes
               joined. Flip,flap!
DE VRIES       I think that is just a story!
RUTH           Pay no attention to him! What will Katja think of us?
WARBURTON. For labour, Me de Vries, we will have an odd assortment.
DE VRIES       Assortment?
WARBURTON Collection. Of men from the North of this country, and Scotchmen
          who were taken prisoner by Cromwell, who have stayed, and I
          regret to say, men of your own country. Prisoners of war taken by
          Admiral Blake. They too have stayed. And Flemings...


                                                                                  5
DE VRIES.      Ah, Blake. Van Tromp. Battle of Texel. But that is all over now. A
               Dutchman is you king!
CRISTEEN       And your Queen!
RUTH           Do not forget the fair sex in this! You men are so quick to dismiss
               us. Think of Elizabeth!
RICHARD.       Think of Clara Hare.
RUTH.          This is not the time or place. This is our dinner table!
RICHARD        She will have to be brought up at some time.
DE VRIES       Who is this Clara Hare?
WARBURTON Remember you are a Partner in this!
RICHARD        It's because I am a Partner in this. Mr de Vries will find out. Better
               we give him the whole picture.
WARBURTON. We have opposition. You would expect it. These poachers,
          these fenmen, they believe they own the swamps, these meres
          and acres of stinking mud. That it belongs to them, like fields
          belong to us, that they have some sort of title, and will keep us
          out from our own. My family has farmed and managed this land
          for over three hundred years. My father fought for Cromwell to
          keep it and we aren’t about to surrender it to some web-feet in
          the ponds! Amphibians!
RUTH           It's all talk! They'll come round.
DE VRIES.      And this Clara Hare?
RICHARD        The blacksmith. Our woman blacksmith. Her father was the
               blacksmith, his father was the blacksmith. She's the blacksmith.
               Black smith, black arts they say. The Hare family. The hare is a
               magical animal, Mr de Vries, or so they say. They say witches
               can change into hares, and you must never let one cross your
               path.
RUTH           That, of course, is just so much country nonsense...Katja, pay no
               attention!
KATJA.         Of course not! It is all amusement. You have the same word, I
               think. Amusement.
RUTH           We shall have to see to your amusement, Katja. You mustn't be
               lonely here. Sarah will look after you. We have a virginal- you
               can play that together, and we have many books...
DE VRIES       So this woman, is she some sort of Amazon? Some giant?
RUTH           Not at all. She is just like any other woman. Strong of course.
RICHARD        Once a good-looking woman.



                                                                                  6
WARBURTON. She's one of their leaders, but we can't prove it. They have had
           meetings and are probably planning mischief. But she carries out
           her trade, shoes my horses, mends my ploughs, what can I say?
SARAH          Local people respect her. I think they are a little afraid of her.
WARBURTON It's all rubbish, but you should know about it. They make corn
          dollies...you know, little figures made of straw, and twig men and
          hang them up on branches, dead trees in the marsh in particular,
          where our Cut is to go. Sometimes they leave one on the
          doorstep. Supposed to scare us! Rubbish. But Turner my agent
          had his cat shaved. Pink as a pig.
KATJA          That is horrible!
WARBURTON. It all grew back.
RICHARD        No fleas.
CRISTEEN.      Why are these people not caught?
WARBURTON It would take an army to catch them. They know every inch of the
          place. They can walk where no one else can, using stilts. We
          can't use stilts. And we're not amphibians.
CRISTEEN       Stilts?
DE VRIES       Stelt.
RUTH           You mustn't make it all sound so difficult! My husband
               exaggerates, Mr de Vries! Dinner table talk! This is a lovely part
               of the country. Huge views, huge skies, you should see the
               sunsets! Good people. And we must talk about your house. We'll
               go there in the morning. Elm Farm. Quite a nice place, I think, but
               it will need some attention. I'm sure you can make it a home
               Cristeen. I'll send over my maid to help you and you must tell us
               if there's anything you want.
WARBURTON And tomorrow we'll start setting out the route and planning.




                                                                                    7
SCENE 4
          A field beside reed beds. There is a pile of earth to one side and
          a young man is wielding a spade, carefully, in an excavation.
          Hovering over him is a man in part clerical garb, but booted for
          the work. The young man digging is Peter Dade, a local lad. The
          man watching and intervening is William Emms, the vicar.


EMMS      Careful now. Just scrape away...here, take my trowel...you see
          that patch...no, there, just slightly darker...greenish. Ease the
          trowel under that. Don't stab it! Ease it under and lever...gently.
          That's it! Let me see.
          Emms blows on the object, fishes in his pocket for a clean
          handkerchief and, laying that on the pile of earth, lays the object
          on it
          Have a look.
          Dade watches as Emms produces a small artist's brush from his
          pocket and strokes at it
          You see. There's some sort of clasp, and it must be made of
          bronze. I'll turn it. Look! Look! There's a pattern and decoration.
          How deep is that?
          He hands Dade a weighted tape
DADE      Thirty- seven inches, Mr Emms.
EMMS      Thirty-seven inches! How did it get that deep. And look at the
          work. What do you say to that?
DADE      Roman. Farmer over Handney way found two Roman axes.
EMMS      How do we know this is Roman? Or this?
          He produces another object
DADE      Happen what else can they be?
EMMS      You have just asked the most important question in science.
          What else can it be? The whole advancement of mankind is first
          propped up, then founded on that.
DADE      Have I?
EMMS      Go down there again. You see the earth is a different colour.
          Blacker. Avoid that area completely, and lift out that dark earth.
          Put it to the side where I can see it. Why should there be dark
          earth down there, Peter, when the rest has more sand?
          Dade eases himself into the excavation again. As he is doing so,
          the figure of John Sylham, landowner and partner, appears. He
          whistles to his dogs


                                                                            8
SYLHAM   What are you doing, digging in my field, vicar? What have I
         caught you at? Funny place to dig a grave. Anyhow, its too short!
         Good earth though.
EMMS     Good morning John. It's very exciting!
SYLHAM   You must be able to see something I don't. I don't find a hole in
         the ground exciting.
         Back here you beggars! Damned animals, straight in the water!
         Don't want 'em back now! Go! Go!
         So what have you got then, on my land? Buried treasure?
EMMS     Our greatest treasures. Look! Come out, Peter, let Mr Sylham
         see...
         Dade climbs out. Sylham awkwardly crouches. Emms kneels
         beside him
SYLHAM   Looks like you've found yourself some burnt wood vicar. A big
         hole for that. And look, there's a bit of broken flower pot.
EMMS     Where!
SYLHAM   There. Doesn't look much like treasure to me.
EMMS     Aren't you interested in the past, John? You know what it says in
         the Good Book. Proverbs, chapter sixteen. "How much better it is
         to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be
         chosen than silver"
SYLHAM   You have the better of me, vicar. I'm not an educated man.
EMMS     It has nothing to do with education, but to do with observation.
         The Cut is going through here.
SYLHAM   I suppose it is.
EMMS     Observe this
SYLHAM   To the dogs Go home! Go! They'll come and piss all over your
         earth.
         What are these?
EMMS     This seems to be a brooch, and look, this is a spear-head.
         There's the socket.
SYLHAM   Roman.
EMMS     Not Roman.
         Out of their sight the figure of Katja moves cautiously round,
         watching the proceedings from a distance. She stands
         unobserved)
SYLHAM   You seem very sure, vicar.


                                                                            9
EMMS      Old people. British people. Before the Romans came.
SYLHAM    How d'you make that out?
EMMS      What do you use a spear for?
SYLHAM    I've never used one.
EMMS.     But if you did, you'd want it to be sharp
.SYLHAM   So far so good.
EMMS      What's this made of?
SYLHAM    How should I know? It ain't rusted. And I've got ploughshares
          sharper than that!
EMMS      Exactly
SYLHAM    Is this some sort of riddle-me-rhyme? I've got dogs to walk.
EMMS      Well what do you think it's made of?
SYLHAM    I should say bronze. Something like that.
EMMS      Why would you make a spear of bronze?
SYLHAM    How the hell should I know, begging your pardon vicar.
EMMS      Because you don't know how to make iron.
SYLHAM    Come on vicar, everyone knows how you make iron.
EMMS      Maybe not.
SYLHAM.   What're you saying, Emms? That these were made by people
          who couldn't make the stuff? Come on! How old do you think
          they are?
EMMS      I don't know. That's why I study. These were made by people,
          long ago, I think before the Romans, our ancestors, John. Yours
          and mine. British people. Look at this thing. Someone made that,
          someone wore that.
SYLHAM    Could be an old bit of harness.
EMMS      Have you ever seen a bit of harness like that?
SYLHAM    Look, Emms, what's the Dade boy doing here? He works for
          Warburton, don't he? Warburton don't hold with any of this
          nonsense. He told me so. He says it ain't right for a man of God
          to fill people's heads with this sort of thing. He says you've got a
          collection of things with dates on them. Let me be blunt. A vicar's
          place is in the pulpit. His instruction is the Bible. His job is to
          teach us. Don't you agree? The Cut goes straight through here,
          and that's an end on it, ancestors look out.
EMMS      Do you see down there. That bit of flower pot you call it...Peter,
          you lift that with your trowel. Carefully.


                                                                            10
         Dade hands the pottery fragment to Emms.
EMMS     So what's that? Look !
         Sylham reluctantly moves to the edge, looks down.
         That's bone! Don't you agree that's bone? Pick it out, Peter.
         Dade does so
         Bone.
SYLHAM   How do you know that's not a bit of some old cow?
EMMS     Because that's a bit of a human skull.


SYLHAM   to the dogs Here boy! Here!
         Are you saying there's buried people down there? Don't like it
         Emms. Keep it to yourself. And this is my land.
         He strides off. Emms turns to Dade
EMMS     And I say that whoever this was should have a Christian burial
DADE     Don't ask me to do it, Mr Emms!
EMMS     I'll do it. There may be more.
         Who's that. By that willow. That must be the Dutchman's
         daughter. Miss de Vries.
         Katja, knowing she has been seen, makes a slight wave. Emms
         stares. Dade behind him, unseen, waves back
         Out and about




                                                                          11
SCENE 5   Emms' study, book-lined, untidy. Emms sits at his desk where he
          has a ledger in front of him in which he writes with a quill pen.
EMMS      Today uncovered an urn, or a similar container made of reddish
          brown pottery. It lies square in the path of the new cut and all the
          indications point to it being one of several burials.
          He picks up the piece and examines it. Resumes writing
          The pot is impressed with curious designs which seem to have
          been made by a rope or twisted leather before firing, round the
          shoulder and lip. Most exciting of all is the impression of a thumb
          and forefinger where the ancient manufacturer of this piece must
          have picked it up and set it out to dry. It makes me feel instantly
          familiar with the fellow, as though I have watched him make it,
          although I lack the ability to flesh out the scene and
          circumstances.
          He tries his own thumb and forefinger in the indentations, nods,
          replaces the piece
          I venture that I have today seen into the ritual of their burials.
          Within the urn were the remains of a person consumed by the
          fire of cremation, but leaving such fragments as teeth and part of
          the skull as identity the remains as human. The larger part of
          these remains and the urn I have locked safely in the vestry of
          St. Andrews against a proper re-burial, which will not please
          some people hereabout. I ponder what shall be suitable for I am
          sure this person is truly ancient and lived and died before the
          Romans and most probably before the advent of our Lord. Even
          to write this gives me disquiet. Can a Christian burial be given to
          one who lived and died before His Coming? Is it enough that this
          person was God's creature? I know of no one who has
          encountered this before. But we are all God's creatures and must
          be treated with respect. Insofar as I am equipped for any of this,
          being a Partner in this enterprise for no other reason than my
          standing, it would be better if the new river cut we propose were
          diverted to avoid this spot and disturbance of these remains was
          avoided."
          Emms lays down his pen, stands up and looks out of a window
          Notwithstanding, or perhaps using my influence as a Partner, I
          am convinced that it would be best for both archaeological and
          Christian reasons to leave these sites alone.




                                                                            12
SCENE 6


               The fen. Warburton, de Vries, Sylham and the foreman Turner
               stand in a group. De vries is wearing his usual large hat, the
               others are bareheaded. He holds a rolled up map in front of him.
               They try to read it. To their right stand two chainmen, burly men
               carryings the measuring chains of 100 links, slung over a
               shoulder. They also carry red and white banded surveying rods.
               To one side are two surveyors, carrying the notebooks and
               pencils, leather pouch bags etc., and one of them clutching a
               tripod instrument topped with a brass circular plate, markings, a
               sight etc. A circumferentor. They are both dressed well with
               boots, soft hats, leggings.
DE VRIES       Pointing away from them.
               Gentlemen, straight through there, left of that tree.
               He turns to the surveyors. You have the bearing.
WARBURTON Agreed. Straight through there. First section, about quarter of a
          mile. Sorry, you understand mile?
DE VRIES       Of course. Mijl!
WARBURTON This is all my land. This stretch intersects two dykes...they won't
          be on your map. These will have soon been dammed and
          sluiced...quite free-running. Further on, about five miles...let me
          see the map…
SYLHAM         Beckons to the surveyors
               ...here, Yule Brook. You have it. A more substantial waterway. It
               collects all the dykes and becks from my pastures. We shall have
               to cut that off to carry out the main work.
DE VRIES       I have allowed for that of course. I think you will find a description
               and drawing on page two of my work plan. You know something
               of this work, Mr Warburton.
WARBURTON I should hope so. I've studied it all long enough, having the
          advantage I suppose of knowing practically all the land. And the
          water, through the seasons. I can show you all the areas that
          flood.
SYLHAM         And so do I!
WARBURTON I'm sorry John, I had no intention of excluding you.
               Sylham and De Vries both nod
SYLHAM         The Yule Brook is on my land Mr De Vries. It's called Yule Brook
               because at Yule, ...Noel...Christmas...


                                                                                  13
DE VRIES       Kerst.
SYLHAM         ...it floods. A veritable Thames, and overruns all these dykes and
               ditches. We'll have to keep it working and sluice it into the new
               cut.
DE VRIES.      I understand, gentlemen. If you look at my map you will see it is a
               matter of gradients. Sufficient fall to clear water but not so much
               it scours, eats the banks and carries them to the sea.
SYLHAM         Mud blocks the harbour. But you've seen all this before.
DE VRIES       Still this is a big enterprise, and you gentlemen should all be
               congratulated for your enterprise. Shall we get going? Surveyors.
               You know where you're going. Get in these poles. And you have
               this wonderful instrument! I have never seen one before.
WARBURTON. It's called a circumferentor. I had it made in London where there's
           a specialist maker. You sight it down the line and can do offsets
           at any angle.
DE VRIES       It's very fine
SYLHAM         It should be, it cost a small fortune!
DE VRIES.      We start then.
               He moves off with the four men following. Warburton and Sylham
               are left together
SYLHAM         I found Emms digging in one of my fields.
WARBURTON What!
SYLHAM         Him and that boy Dade that works for you. A deep hole. He
               showed me what he'd found. A spear that wouldn't stab a
               snowman and a bit of skull. And some sort of brooch.
WARBURTON. Damn the man!
SYLHAM         You can't damn a vicar!
WARBURTON. I appointed him. Because of his father and my father. It was a
           mistake. And I asked him to become a Partner. A bigger mistake.
           I wanted someone the villagers would look up to. He has a
           collection of that sort of rubbish. I never thought it mattered.
           Damn!
SYLHAM         He was going on about ancestors and people long ago. I told him
               it wasn't right to fill people's heads with this nonsense. And that
               Dade boy.
WARBURTON He's sacked. And was it a bit of skull?
SYLHAM.        Could have been, I'm no expert.
WARBURTON Human?


                                                                               14
SYLHAM       He said so.
WARBURTON. We need a word with him. You and me.




                                                  15
SCENE 7
          Another part of the fen. In the rushes, on a piece of dry land sits
          Peter Dade, fishing. He sits motionless for some time, rod in
          hand, staring into the water. His rod is a simple straight branch,
          there is no reel. To one side we can just see Katja approaching.
          She is moving silently, and sits semi-concealed on a stump,
          watching. A fish takes Peter's bait. He leaps to his feet and pulls
          in a pike, which comes in like a log until it reaches dry land when
          it thrashes wildly. Peter tries to control it but can't. He looks
          around for something to stun it, catches a glimpse of Katja. He
          stares, makes a little bow in her direction. Katja, not knowing
          what to do, bows back
PETER     I've caught a fish... I need a piece of wood.
KATJA     Ja. I will get one…You hold the vis, I know what to do...
          Peter stretches the fish out. Katya whacks it expertly on the
          head. Peter, impressed takes stock of Katja. She is dressed for
          walking with a long cloak, but her blonde hair is uncovered.
PETER     Thank you very much, thank you very much ... how did you know
          what to do?
KATJA     My brother....he used to catch fish...I would help him.
PETER     This is a pike...see...look at its jaw and teeth
KATJA     Ja. We also have this fish...snoek… A pike. You have a good
          fish.
PETER     It's good to eat.
KATJA     We eat it also.
PETER     Are you Mr de Vries' daughter? Mr de Vries the engineer...the
          drainer. The Dutchman.
KATJA     Laughing I am the Dutchman's daughter. I am Katja.
PETER     I am Peter. Peter Dade.
KATJA.    That is what you do! Good afternoon Peter Dade.
PETER     I should go now. It is dangerous in these fens...you could get
          lost.
KATJA     You are not supposed to be here! I have stopped your fishing, I'm
          sorry. Please go on, I am a Dutch girl I won't fall in!
PETER     Should you be here?
KATJA     Oh yes. My mother sleeps in the afternoon. Snurken, snurken,
          she makes snoring noises


                                                                           16
         after she has eaten. I go for a walk or else I become doof
         Peter, without thinking throws the piece of wood in the water
         Oh! Now you will catch nothing.
PETER    I didn't mean to do that. Wouldn't you like to sit down? If I can
         catch another you can have it.
KATJA    My God no! Here you are mother, I have been fishing this
         afternoon with a nice boy, here is a big pike for you! She would
         go mad!
PETER    Aren't you allowed
KATJA    Not in Harlingen! "Who was that man I saw you with? You stay
         in this house for a week- a year. The pastor will visit you!" But I
         like to walk. I saw you the other day when you were digging.
PETER    It was you.
KATJA.   So what do you dig for in the middle of a field? Is that what you
         do when you are not fishing? And with a pastor, a priest. I
         wondered if you were putting someone in, but that other man
         came and you took things out. Strange
PETER    Buried treasure.
         We were digging up old things before the new cut comes
         through. Bits and pieces...I could show you...
KATJA    I think it must be another time. I had better get back before
         mother wakes up. Perhaps I will see you again?
PETER    I fish here often. It's a good spot.
KATJA.   It is a good spot. Goodbye.
         Peter stares after her for a moment
PETER    Well, old dead friend, what do we make of that? Don't she look a
         pretty girl, you lucky chap!




                                                                             17
SCENE 8
          Another part of the fen. Parker and friend with the circumferentor.
          And an armful of red-and-white surveying poles. Planted poles
          are visible stretching away from them to one side. The chain-men
          can be heard nearby, splashing and swearing as they struggle
          about their work.
FRIEND    Sounds as though they're having fun. Damned bog, damned
          marsh, damned spot if you ask me!
          Damned mosquitoes.
          Through the circumferentor
          Can't even get a sound piece of land!
          He readjusts the tripod
          Too damned flat, no reference points. What we need is a church
          or two.
PARKER    You'll be lucky! They're all heathens. Try that dead tree....
          Friend swings the sighting round
          What do you make of this Dutchman? Reckon he knows his
          stuff?
FRIEND    Warburton reckons he does. They're good at this drainage
          business...what's that? Hear something?
PARKER.   Nothing. Just the wind in the rushes.
FRIEND    Thought I heard something... Locals don't like us being here.
PARKER    I shouldn't think they like anything much.
          More noise from the chainmen
          All right if I tell them to take a break. Hell of a job through here.
          Could do with a beer.
FRIEND    Half an hour! Break! No more!
          This is as dry a place as we'll get. A beer and a bite to eat. Under
          that alder.
          He pats the instrument
PARKER    Grass! Beautiful grass!
FRIEND    I need a piss.
          He goes over to relieve himself behind the tree
          And all I can see from here is reeds, reeds and, would you
          believe it, reeds.
PARKER    Stop complaining. It's peaceful here. I quite like it.


                                                                                  18
FRIEND     I ain't complaining, it's just an observation.
           Both men produce bottles and food wrapped in cloth from their
           bags
PARKER     This place is full of wildfowl. And fish. Eels. These people live off
           them. I heard it makes them crazy.
FRIEND .   How's that.
PARKER     Salt. They pickle everything in salt. They say that makes you
           crazy.
           Did you hear what they were saying about that fellow Emms, the
           vicar.
FRIEND     Caught some of it.
PARKER.    What do you think of it? Warburton I mean. I never heard a man
           damn a vicar before. Digging they said. In a field, found a human
           skull......
FRIEND     So he said! What's that? I heard something.
PARKER     Don't start that again!
           They listen. A reed warbler breaks into song. Stops
           Since when were you an ornithologist.
FRIEND     A what?
PARKER     A bird studier. And they was talking about this Yule Brook we've
           to come to. I reckon this ground is wetter by the day.
           There is the sound of a commotion of ducks from the reeds.
           There is a faint tinkling of bells
           What the hell's that?
FRIEND     I told you I heard something.
           Shouting from the chainmen, obvious panic. The ringing of small
           bells seems to come from all sides now, getting louder, nearer.
           The two jump up, fully alarmed
PARKER.    Who's that? Who's there? There's someone there!
           The bells tinkle insistently
           Lord help us! What's that? That!
           An apparition begins to rise slowly from the reeds.
           At first they see a straw hat, then a startling white face with red
           cheeks and holes for eyes. This is followed by a second, hatless
           head to the right of it. They both come wobbling nearer in the
           reeds.



                                                                              19
Hey you! Damn you! Show yourselves! We know who you are!
You don't scare us!
The figures continue to grow taller, showing shoulders and
waists, dangling arms. They tower over the reeds and men on
poles.
What do you want?
There is a concerted ringing of bells, loud now, then leaving three
bells, two bells, one. The figures begin to subside. There is the
forced laughter of men. Everything is gone. silence, except for
Friend who is still gabbling away at something. Parker pokes him
in the ribs with a boot
Get up you stupid bastard that was men. Not a ghost!
It's gone! The circumferentor. It's been stolen! There's footprints.
Get up, look!
Look at our poles.
We see them laid out in a pentacle
There'll be hell to pay. That thing is worth a fortune!
Shouts of alarm from the Chainmen
Let's get out of here...
He runs for it, kicking the arrangement of poles as he goes.
Friend follows, falling over himself in panic. From the fen there is
derisive laughter




                                                                  20
SCENE 9
           The reeds are parted stage left, to reveal Ezra and Ecclesiastes
           in the punt with a third man, Lambert. They are disguised,
           wearing women's clothes, too small, too short, with their faces
           blackened. Ezra wears a woman's bonnet with straw stuffed in it
           for hair. Ezra and Ecclesiastes each clutch one of the scarecrow
           figures on poles. Lambert clutches the circumferentor.
ECCLESIASTES   Move! Move!
               He and Ezra turn the boat. Lambert is playing with the
               instrument
LAMBERT.       Look at this!
               He rotates the gnomen, peers through the sights
EZRA           Put it down! It shines.
LAMBERT        What shall we do with it? Hide it?
ECCLESIASTES   Getting caught with this is a job for Jack Ketch.
EZRA.          Do we shouldn't take it back?
LAMBERT        I bet its worth something, worth a small fortune...made in
               London it says...on this plate.
ECCLESIASTES   Worth a stretched neck! They'll follow that thing like the pig
               followed St Anthony. I say we put it in that eel trap, tie it up
               tight and put it over the side.
               They do so. There is a muted splash. Ezra rings a hand bell
               in farewell. Lambert joins in. the reeds close and they are
               gone.




                                                                              21
SCENE 10
            Warburton's dining room. Table set for dinner. At the table,
            waiting for the men to join them, Cristeen, Katja, Sarah, Ruth. To
            one side stand Warburton, Sylham, Richard, de Vries and Turner
            the estate manager and works manager for Warburton. The men
            have drinks in hand. De Vries smokes a pipe.
            The interior is suffused with the light of a reddening sunset,
            growing in intensity throughout the scene.
RUTH        How are you finding things at Elm Farm? It's always difficult to
            settle in...
CRISTEEN    Thank you, it is all coming along well....and thank you Sarah for
            helping us with the linen and gor'dijn.
SARAH       Curtains.
CRISTEEN    Yes, thank you. It is an old house I think. So much wood, and a
            straw roof!
RUTH        But comfortable I hope!
CRISTEEN    Of course, of course. I only say so much wood because in
            Scheveningen there is so much brick.
            What a sunset, no?
RUTH        What a sunset. Tell me Katja, what do you like to do? It must be
            boring for you while all this work is going on, and in a foreign
            country. I hope we can find something to amuse you.
CRISTEEN.   Katja likes to make lace. We both make lace. You cannot be
            bored when you make lace.
            Katja shoots a glance at Sarah
RUTH        Katya is most welcome to come here. Do you play an instrument
            Katya? We have a virginal, if that is of any interest. Sarah plays a
            bit, don't you Sarah?
CRISTEEN    No she does not play music.
KATJA       I can answer for myself mama.
            I would like to learn to play music.
SARAH       We'll do that. And perhaps you would like to go horse-riding. We
            have several horses...
KATJA       I can ride only a bit. In Scheveningen, we all walk , clop clop clop
            in our clogs, up and down, especially on Sunday when it is like
            wooden beetles on the street.
CRISTEEN.   Girls and nonsense! We have a very good library in
            Scheveningen, and many friends! You give our hosts the wrong


                                                                               22
              impression!
KATJA         Mama, Scheveningen is very nice, and it is very well paved but it
              is dull!
CRISTEEN.     Young ladies!
SARAH         Well we aren't well paved round here but we can sketch and talk
              fashion and go to Lynn to the shops if father will take us, and go
              clop clop there!
RUTH          And you can make lace together with Sarah.
              Pause
CRISTEEN      They are still talking. I think it is very worrying about the works to
              them? Jacob says that a very important instrument was stolen
              and the men terrified by strange things. That is not good.
RUTH          There are men who don't want the Cut. It's always the same -
              some men are opposed to progress as a matter of principle, my
              husband says.
CRISTEEN      Good drainage turns swamp into pasture. Jacob says that it is
              like taking land to the doctor's.
RUTH          That is a pretty way of putting it!
CRISTEEN      Is it?
SARAH         But it is their larder. They say the water is their water and
              everything in it. And always has been. What do they eat if we
              drain it?
              An awkward pause
              What?
RUTH          The new land will become their larder.
SARAH         But it will not be their new land. Not their larder. That's what they
              think. Will it? Strange fish that live in a meadow! No reed for
              thatch. No ducks, no eels. No eels by the thousands and
              thousands.
RUTH          You sound like one of them
CRISTEEN      And do these men have gills and webbed feet?
KATJA         Mama!
              Light fades on the women and rises on the group of men.
WARBURTON How would you say the work's coming along? Given all this
          damned nonsense. Men working well enough?
DE VRIES      The men are working well enough, when they can lay their hands
              on their tools. More spades and picks went last night. That is the


                                                                                  23
               fifth night in a row. We shall need some more. And they wrecked
               a crane and two barrows were pushed into the water.
SYLHAM         What do you say Turner?
TURNER         It's holding us up. Delay now means we won't get where we want
               to be before winter. If that happens, we know what we'll need.
WARBURTON More sluices.
RICHARD        More money. These water rats....
SYLHAM         But this business with the circumferentor, that ain't petty thieving,
               that's a serious business.
TURNER         And last night all the surveyor's poles were pulled out. A whole
               row, nearly a mile. Not just flung down, laid on the ground, some
               snapped. Like we used to draw a gallows at school.
               He demonstrates
               One after another. They must have come silent in the night. Lord
               knows how. By boat I suppose.
SYLHAM         A serious business.
TURNER         And they scare the men with all their witch bits.....bundles of
               twigs tied to the trees, dead rats,a scarecrow with a rope round
               it's neck. They put that floating in the swamp.
RICHARD        But that's all rubbish.
TURNER         That's as may be, Mr Richard, but the men don't like it. They're
               afraid of the silence and the reeds and don't need that.
DE VRIES       And tell them Mr Turner...they dress as women and appear in the
               marsh and laugh and disappear. I've seen them myself, in broad
               daylight.
WARBURTON We need guards. Even Troopers. I'll see the Sheriff...
SYLHAM         And then there's Emms.
               A pause. Warburton nodding
RICHARD        The man's a fool.
SYLHAM         No. He ain't a fool. Or if he is he's a dangerous damned learned
               fool. Digging in my pasture, him and that Dade boy, like rabbits.
               But you can shoot a rabbit. It ain't the same for a parson! And
               why ain't he here?
WARBURTON I didn't ask him.
DE VRIES       I don't understand. He is a vicar of the Church. Your vicar.
WARBURTON He has it in his head that our Cut is going through some sort of
          ancient graveyard that he has been studying, and that we are


                                                                                  24
               going to disturb the dead.
DE VRIES       But the dead must be in the churchyard.
WARBURTON Yes Jacob, but that's the Christian dead, but according to Emms,
          these are people before the Romans. Before our Lord.
SYLHAM         He had a bit of flowerpot. And a bit of skull. And a bit of bronze,
               he said, a sort of blunt spear. Talked about old people. I told him
               his instruction is the Bible, and get off my land.
RICHARD        I heard on the village he wants the work to stop and the Cut
               moved.
WARBURTON Music to their ears.
DE VRIES       Forgive me, but why is this vicar a partner? For that matter, why
               is this vicar a vicar?
WARBURTON. I have to keep answering that. We had a Civil War, Jacob.
DE VRIES.      A bloody war. You lost a king. We have sent you one.
WARBURTON His father and mine were on opposite sides. My father lived. You
          understand? He made me promise. I found Emms a living here.
          Thought a vicar would be just right for our enterprise.That was all
          before he started this digging.
SYLHAM         Apostasy!
               They all look at him in surprise
               That's what its called ain't it? We have a vicar who don't believe
               in the Bible, De Vries.
WARBURTON No, that's not true, John. He don't believe that God created the
          world six thousand years ago,talks ten, twenty, a hundred
          thousand.
DE VRIES       Then he cannot be a vicar of Christ.


WARBURTON We had better join the ladies.
               Richard makes a bee-line for the chair beside Katja
RUTH           About time! What an evening! Too good to be talking about the
               works.
WARBURTON Grace.
               They all bow their heads except Richard who stares at Katja.
               Warburton gestures towards the sunlight
               "And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day
               and the lesser light to rule the night" Oh Lord we bless thee for
               thy beneficence to man and for all that you put before us. We ask


                                                                                25
              you to bless our venture, as you bless our table , to look on our
              works with favour. We thank you for the food that is before us.
ALL           Amen.
              A serving girl enters and busies herself with the food, moving
              round the table, back and forth from a sideboard etc. Warburton
              circulates with a bottle of wine. He pours some in Cristeen's
              glass, then some in Katja's. Cristeen responds.
CRISTEEN      No! She does not drink wine.
SARAH         I do, with plenty of water.
DE VRIES      No.
              Warburton circulates
RICHARD       I do. Noah tended his vines.
              There is the distant sound of a punt gun, followed by another.
              Everyone freezes.
WARBURTON Damnation on them! Your pardon ladies...
SYLHAM        Two.
TURNER        I know who that will be. One day I'll get them. Devils.
RICHARD.      You know we have witches here. We mustn't call them that, but
              they can transform themselves into whatever they like. Into eels
              and slide away on the grass, into hares and dodge through the
              corn.
RUTH          Don't be silly Richard, you'll frighten Katja.
RICHARD       It's true. Clara Hare is a witch. Everyone knows that, but no one
              must say it.
SYLHAM        She's a damned good blacksmith. Can shoe a horse.
DE VRIES      This Clara Hare! The Amazon.
SYLHAM        But not a witch. Pay no attention to Master Richard here. She's a
              clever one. The Hares are an old family...she's a good-looking
              woman...
RUTH          No one is eating their food! And after this there's cheeses and
              nuts and sillabub...
SYLHAM        And back to Emms. What do we do with him?
DE VRIES.     From what you have said, it seems to me that he is a man
              misguided. Shall I talk to him?
WARBURTON Can't see that you'd have much to say to each other, Jacob.
DE VRIES      But I have the advantage as a foreigner. In Holland we have
              much in common with your church, perhaps we can discuss his


                                                                                26
               theories, his studies.
WARBURTON Do you agree Jacob, the Lord created this earth and everything
          on it, four thousand and four hundred years before he sent us his
          Son?
DE VRIES       Of course.
WARBURTON Do you agree that this exact time is written in the bible and can
          be arrived at by scientific analysis of the Old Testament.
DE VRIES       I do.
WARBURTON That the history of the world is contained within six periods,
          Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham.
DE VRIES       Abraham to David, David to the Captivity in Babylon. The
               Captivity to the coming of Christ and Christ until today.
WARBURTON Exactly
               Pause
               Science. The best minds...
DE VRIES       As scientific as my work. As the flow of water and gradients.
SYLHAM         We have no manners. All this food and we just talk and talk.
RICHARD        Talk and talk. We should eat and eat.
WARBURTON We all agree, all agree all these things. The Bible is not to be
          bent, amended, adjusted to suit the whims of some one
          individual. I thought all that was in the past.
DE VRIES       And the best place for it.
WARBURTON I will contact the Bishop. Yes John?
               Sylam nods
               Emms can't go on.
SYLHAM         Poking about. Has to stop.
RUTH           Please will you eat!




                                                                               27
SCENE 11
           Centre stage are two barrels supporting a plank. Sacks form a
           rough circle. A dim light is cast by a dark-lantern. Ecclesiastes
           enters quietly. He sits down.
           Pause
           Ezra enters carrying another lantern. Behind him, quietly, comes
           Felix an elderly villager with Delia his wife, then some distance
           back, Peter Dade. They all sit.
ECCLESIASTES.   Evening, friends.
FELIX.          We shall have rain before morning.
EZRA            Is all here that's going to be? Who's on guard?
ECCLESIASTES    Fenton's boy, up the lane, and Clara is expected.
DELIA           Clara Hare! You ever heard her talking to horses? She's a
                witch. Murmuring that's what.
ECCLESIASTES    What are we?
                A silence
                What are we? We are all human men - and women too.
FELIX           We need so much rain that it washes Mynheer de Vries and
                his hat all the way back to Holland. Floating on the sea , with
                all his Hogen Mogens and attacked by seagulls!
ECCLESIASTES    Well that's all fancy wishing, but what are we going to do?
                They dug two hundred feet yesterday, cleaned right out,
                barrowed away, trolleys and cranes. It don't take long to cut
                out a mile at that rate. And there's hell to pay over the
                circumferentor. I heard from Tom Ware there's talk of
                Warburton bringing in troopers.
FELIX.          Who says he can do that! We ain't afraid of troopers.
ECCLESIASTES.   His friend the Sherriff can do it. And be serious Felix. These
                men carry muskets and they shoot them for real. Killing. Not
                shouting, shooting. Taking aim at you and me and folks and
                after they've shot you, as like as not they'll hang you to make
                sure.
FELIX           We've got guns that would blast the arse off an elephant!
EZRA            Wonderful ! Perhaps we shouldn't ha' taken it. We could
                give it back.
ECCLESIASTES    You think that'll make things all right? Thank you brothers
                for returning our circumferentor. Most kind. Have a jar of ale!


                                                                               28
                That'll really stop them. In recognition of your kindness we're
                going to bugger off and dig a cut somewhere else. Where do
                you suggest?
                He snorts.
                There is movement behind them. Clara Hare comes into
                view dressed in a leather apron over her clothes. She has
                come from her work, unkempt but striking. They all turn
                towards her
CLARA           Well what are we going to do then? They're stopping off the
                lodes to dry out Oxay fen and digging. That Cut is coming in
                like a tide, a spade at a time, all the time, and we ain't going
                to stop them by stealing their poles or their spades or trying
                to frighten them to death. Or stealing their instrument, or
                hanging things in trees. So what are we going to do then, if
                we really mean to stop this thing. Do we really mean to stop
                it, or are we going to be cleared out like Vermuyden cleared
                Axeholme with his Cut and new river and dykes and graffs.
ECCLESIASTES.   Warburton's got men from all over.
CLARA.          I've seen them! I sat there this afternoon, out of sight, and
                they just keep moving forwards. There was an alder tree in
                Sylham's pasture, and they moved forward towards it, like
                ants, and the tree came down while I watched, like they ate it
                and they just moved on. Then another one, then through the
                burials.
EZRA            The what?
CLARA           You don't know what Clara knows.
EZRA            I shouldn't think I do, and should worry about it if I did!
CLARA           Just you think back, right back, to your father and your
                father's father and his father's father before him.
ECCLESIASTES.   I'm thinking...go on then.
CLARA           Where are they then?
ECCLESIASTES    Under the ground in churchyard somewhere. Couldn't afford
                stones, still can't afford stones. What's your drift?
CLARA           And before there was a church and a graveyard, what then?
ECCLESIASTES    Haven't given that much thought.
CLARA           Because that old church might have been there a thousand
                years but there's a whole corn stack of time before that and
                people were living and dying just the same.
                She pauses



                                                                              29
               So what were they doing? Peter knows, don't you Peter,
               and Emms knows, and he's a vicar. You tell them Peter.
DADE           Vicar found a burial ground. Me and him been digging it...
FELIX          Oh? Is that Peter Dade speaking? Tell me it is? I thought
               you was Warburton's boy!
DADE           He paid me Felix, he don't own me! And he had me sacked
               anyway along of what we just been talking about.
CLARA.         It was best for you all that you let him speak, and as for you
               Felix when did you last work?
               You tell them.
DADE           Pastor asked me to help. After church it was and he said he
               needed someone with a bit of muscle and would I? So I said
               yes. Had to really. Went down by the fen, Sylham's meadow,
               that line of old alders, by Carter's Graff in Sylham's meadow,
               right on the water's edge. Pastor has studied these things.
               Pastor said he Reckoned there was an old burial ground
               there and we should have a look afore the new Cut comes
               through. He showed me the lumps and dips and where old
               rabbit had dug out earth. So I wasn't too happy about this
               burial thing, but Pastor's saying come along then, so I dug.
               And that digging cost me my job, because along comes
               Sylham who weren't too happy about it, but you can't sack a
               Pastor. Se we was digging and true enough about three feet
               down we come on a strange thing, an old pot, like a salt pot,
               with zig-zags round the rim, and it was broken. And Pastor
               shows Sylham other things he's found but he ain't
               impressed, so we lift the bit of pot and there's some bone
               and Emms says "that's a bit of human skull", and it should
               have a Christian burial. And he took it and I reckon he did.
DELIA.         I wouldn't ha' done it! They say if you go up there at night,
               the corpse candles will come out of the marsh. Hobby on his
               rounds.
CLARA          So that could have been your grandfather's grandfather,
               Ecclesiastes, a hundred times removed.
ECCLESIASTES   Could be anyone.
CLARA          Could be anyone, but a person and one as lived here. One
               of us.
               Pause
DADE           That lived before there was ever Romans.
EZRA           Pastor say that?



                                                                            30
               Dade nods
ECCLESIASTES   So what are we to do?
CLARA.         Talk don't stop machinery, nor carts and spades and cranes.
               It don't stop those men with frills on their breeches and it
               don't stop the Mynheer and his big hat. They have stupefied
               us with their red-and-white poles. Made a kind of magic to
               make us believe it will all happen. You be talking, I be acting!
               Clara exits. The others stare after her
DELIA          Said she was a witch...




                                                                            31
SCENE 12
           Sarah with her diary, she reads
SARAH.     "Seventh of July, One Thousand ,Six Hundred and Ninety.
           Dinner last night. A difficult occasion, Mama beside herself
           because the men would talk all the time and not sit down to eat.
           The works are much interrupted by acts of the villagers who do
           not want the drainage. Father may have troopers brought in to
           protect them. I do not think that would be wise, for if you rub a
           wasp sting it will inflame it greatly. I can confess it to this diary
           that I can see that the villagers think the fen to be theirs and that
           the drainage is taking it from them. It is their larder. Reverend
           Emms is a scholarly man and has taken it into his head that the
           works will cut through an ancient place of burial, destroying relics
           of great age and interest. Mr Sylham says this is apostasy, a
           vicar who does not believe in the words of the Bible, or the six
           ages to this day from Adam. It is said that he intends to hold a
           Parish meeting in the Church, an unusual event. And Richard
           stares at Katja like a cow at its calf. She is a very pretty girl and I
           fear she has turned his head. Meynheer and Mrs de Vries are
           stern people, it appears. No wine for Katja. And Mrs de Vries was
           sharp with me. I am sure she thinks me too free with my
           opinions”
           She closes the book
           Maybe I am.
           Katja enters. Sarah pushes the book away
KATJA      You are writing? I'm sorry...
SARAH      No…I've finished...my diary.
KATJA      I keep a diary.
SARAH      Here? What do you write?
KATJA      No, not here! In Holland! What is there to write about here?
SARAH      The people, the works. Problems.
KATJA      Oh that.
SARAH      Dinner. Richard. The Reverend Emms.
KATJA      You think I like your Richard? I don't. He thinks I'm a child. I
           think he is.
SARAH      That's blunt.
KATJA      I'm sorry, that was so rude. Dutch rude. Rude! But don't you get
           bored here? Do you have dances? Music? Your mama wants me
           to learn to play the virginal. Who can dance to that? We must sit
           in rows and drink tea! Or sing, tra-la!

                                                                               32
SARAH   This is the country, Katja. We do sing tra-la!
KATJA   But these villagers, are they all frogs and toads? There must be
        something else.
SARAH   No princes, I'm afraid. Just what you see. And the works.
KATJA   Works, works, works ,I am already tired of the works in Holland!
        And all the same here...your papa is very fierce I think?
SARAH   I wouldn't call him fierce...
KATJA   Do you have someone special?
SARAH   What do you mean?
KATJA   A young man?
SARAH   That's a very personal question.
KATJA   I have a boyfriend in Scheveningen. You see, I tell you. A very
        handsome boy. Tall. Yellow hair, so blond. Papa hates him. Says
        he does nothing.
SARAH   What does he do?
KATJA   What does that matter! Who is here for you?
SARAH   I'm happy. Does there have to be someone here for me?
KATJA   I think so.
SARAH   There's more to life than boys!
KATJA   The virginal, tra la la! Making lace, tra la la. A new bonnet! Mama
        says you cannot be bored when you make lace! Papa says,
        “ No wine!” No anything. I can find things to do.
        Sarah shakes her head in disapproval.
        I can.




                                                                        33
SCENE 13
           Rain rattling, heavily.
           Clara at her forge. Fiery light from the pit. Clara herself, dressed
           in her leather apron, is hammering at metal on an anvil,
           concentrating, turning it, hammering again. Sylham appears. He
           enters quietly and unseen and for some moments stands
           watching her at work. Turning from what she is doing, she sees
           him but continues.
SYLHAM     Good evening to you Clara.
CLARA      Good evening John Sylham.
           She looks at him, waiting
SYLHAM     Got a horse outside.
CLARA      Working horse or riding horse?
SYLHAM     Riding horse. Needs a new shoe.
CLARA      Leave her, I'll see to her. Got her out of the rain? He nods
SYLHAM     I should prefer to wait....
CLARA      Got to finish these shoes ....
           Worn right through. Only get visitors here when its rain or snow.
           Dry out or heat up. Why are you here?
SYLHAM     Horse like I said.
CLARA      We both know that ain't so. Horse could wait for a fair day. Why
           are you here?
SYLHAM     Known you all these years Clara. You know how things stand at
           my farm. You know I ain't a wealthy man. You know I ain't got
           much of a wife.
CLARA      Don't know what you mean.
SYLHAM     Oh yes you do. We both belong to this place. I don't want you to
           get hurt Clara.
CLARA      That's very kind of you, but what makes you think Clara can't
           look after herself.
SYLHAM     They talk about you unkindly.
CLARA      Oh I know that!
SYLHAM     There was more trouble last night. Fires lit, huts burned
           down....Warburton has his troopers out.
CLARA      What's that to me-
SYLHAM     You know very well Clara.



                                                                             34
CLARA    Is this because you kissed me once, John Sylham. Do I get a
         special warning?
SYLHAM   This ain't a special warning and that was long ago. I just thought
         you should know.
CLARA    It may have been long ago to you. Long ago as yesterday to me.
         Time was and time is. You know perfectly well what I mean.
         She turns to attend the fire. They watch as the bellow make the
         fire glow.
         The world is a sad and wonderful place for some of us. You're
         one of us, not one of them. You know we need the meat and
         money out of old fen. Your grandfather, he got his meat and
         money out of it, same as the rest of us.
         A girl gets thirsty at this work! A beer, John Sylham. You know
         Clara always has a drop and we both know you like it.
         She pours some beer into two tankards
         Your health, you're a good man! Oh don't look embarrassed! You
         hadn't have married that skinny white thing of yours I'd still be
         after you. Money, wasn't it?
         Sylham says nothing. They drink
         Had the Troopers here last night anyway. Looking for weapons
         they said, and stolen things – spades, picks and the like, but I
         reckon it was to frighten us. Turned it all over, through all my old
         iron.(SHE LAUGHS) But you won't find anything in Clara's forge.
         Clever Clara! New set of shoes John? Coulter for your plough!
SYLHAM   You mean…
CLARA    And they went through Ezra's thatch. Wicked damage. Stuck
         their pikes in widow Baker's haystack and skewered a chicken.
         Never offered to pay, and it won't be laying again!
SYLHAM   We're losing money already Clara.
CLARA    I am sorry to hear that.
SYLHAM   You all slow us down, we shall have to raise rents for more
         money. Everything I could raise is invested in this new river.
CLARA    Our lives and livings are invested in Oxay Fen, and no one is
         taking it from us. Another beer John?
         He holds out his mug automatically. She fills it. Returns to the
         bellows, pumps up the fire
SYLHAM   It's all very well for you Clara, I'll bet you never owed money in
         your life.
CLARA    You only owe what you borrow. None of, you don't need more


                                                                              35
         land. Five thousand more acres is it? And whose five thousand?
         Theft, I call it. You've found a way to steal water.
SYLHAM   I had better go.
CLARA    What about your horse?
SYLHAM   Another time.
CLARA    Ah, one of them. An "another time" horse! I'll begin to think you
         only came to see me. Would you lend me your horses John
         Sylham, should I need them?
SYLHAM   Why should you need them?
CLARA    Why, why, why. We should have got married John Sylham and
         you knows it. Oh well. Tell me this, I am always hungry, I must
         always be fed, the finger I lick, will soon turn red. What am I?
SYLHAM   None of your nonsense!
CLARA    A fire, John, a fire and I must see to mine, if you ain't got a
         horse....but you're always welcome...
SYLHAM   I'd best be going.
         Clara calls after him
CLARA    But would you lend me your horses? See you at the Parish
         meeting tonight? Be thoughtful on this John, be thoughtful on
         this....!




                                                                             36
SCENE 14
           Lights rise to reveal Peter Dade sitting on tree stump by bank of
           Oxay fen as before. Piece of dry land surrounded by rushes. He
           sits fishing with the same rod, silent, watching, nothing is
           happening. The rain has passed. A shaft of sunlight illumines
           him. Katja cautiously emerges. Peter hears her, turns sharply.
KATJA      Hello Peter.
DADE.      It's you again!
KATJA      That is not a welcome, that is a statement!
DADE       I'm sorry, I'm just surprised to see you again.
KATJA      Why? Do you think the Dutchman's daughter cannot find herself
           the same way twice! Mother's has gone to Mrs Warburton to talk
           lace and eat cakes! I am making lace! Can't you see?
PETER      Yes. Sit down.
KATJA      You have caught nothing?
DADE       No. The water is so high. That shower this morning. You see that
           drowned tree... the water was up to the underside of that branch,
           now its over it. No fish.
KATJA      I got my shoes wet coming here. Last time it was dry. I shall have
           to wear clogs if we have to meet here.
           Pause
PETER      We don't have to meet...
KATJA      I like it. Tell me, why is there more water? In Holland we always
           worry about more water.
PETER      It's the new river. They've damned up all the dykes and graffs
           and Yule Brook to dig it. Otherwise the works would flood. Mister
           de Vries can tell you all about it.
KATJA      Pooh! We never discuss his work. He talks only to men. I hear
           that Mr Sylham has dismissed you. He should not do that.
PETER      More time for fishing.
KATJA      No its not right. Just for digging. They are all digging! Where do
           you live?
PETER      I have an old mother. I look after her.
KATJA      Is that good?
           She takes three reeds and begins to plait them
PETER      It has to do. She has her chickens and her friends but not much
           health. I can read. I read to her. Pastor Emms, the man you saw,


                                                                            37
         he lends me books.
KATJA    I read mostly the Bible, because father makes me! It is for
         instruction he says. He says, "Hear ye children the instruction of
         a father and attend to know understanding."
DADE     He sounds stern.
KATJA    We say streng. At home he walks down the street, poomf, poomf,
         poomf, in big heeled boots and people lift their hats. Mijnheer
         this and Mijnheer that, it is very formal. He says he is like Moses
         because he makes dry land. Mother says he is like Moses
         because Moses killed the frogs!
DADE     But what do you do?
KATJA    Nothing much. It is boring. In summer we drink tea and have
         visitors that are on their way to the grave and in winter we make
         lace, and put them there! And of course we go to church all
         dressed up and say "hallo" to Mijnheer de Witt and me'vrouw de
         Witt and juffrouw De Witt and go home. But when it freezes,
         that is the thing! When it freezes we skate and skate and
         skate!Father does not approve. There are fireworks and music
         and racing and beer and boys!
DADE     We do the same here when the fen freezes. We wait for a good
         night - frost and stars, and we have a party on the ice, barrels
         with fires in them, races, food, music. Magical. I can take you if
         you can get away... are you a good skater?
         To one side, and behind them, the figure of Richard appears,
         cautiously, concealed, watching. He has followed her on her walk
KATJA.   I am quite good. I had a boyfriend who was very good.
         No that is a longtime ago! And he is in Holland. Here!
         Katja puts the plait of reeds behind his ear
DADE     I have something for you.
         Hold out your hand.
         He fishes in his pocket, puts his right arm around her while he
         waves his left hand in front of her. He takes her hand and puts
         something in it.
KATJA    What is it?
DADE     Take a look.
KATJA    Is it gold?
DADE     It might be.
KATJA    What is it?



                                                                           38
DADE     It has markings, like an animal but not an animal. A coin I think
KATJA    Where did you get it?
DADE     Digging.
KATJA    Where?
DADE     Not saying. In the peat. Mr Emms ain't the only one as can dig.
         I've got other things.
KATJA    Should you have it?
DADE     Mr Emms has drawers of things.
         No, its for you, a present.
         Katja look’s directly into his eyes
KATJA    Do you want to kiss me?
         He obliges, awkwardly
         Do you want to kiss me here?
         She unbuttons the top of her dress, pulling it down. Peter draws
         back in alarm
DADE     No I mustn't!
KATJA    Why not? It is nice.
DADE     No!
         He scrambles to his feet. Katya buttons herself up. They are still
         watched by Richard
KATJA    So. I'm sorry.
DADE     I should say I'm sorry.
KATJA    Holding out the disk Yours......
DADE     No, you must keep it.
KATJA.
         I had better get back in case mother wakes. Thank you for the
         present, thank you....
DADE     I'll walk with you through the fen....
         They exit. As does the unseen Richard




                                                                             39
SCENE 15
             A pulpit. Emms is lit by a church candle, otherwise the interior is
             dim. With their backs to us are the whole cast except Cristeen
             and Katja - the congregation. To the rear and nearest the
             audience are Warburton, Sylham, Turner, Richard de Vries. Late
             afternoon sunlight shines through stained glass.
EMMS         I welcome everyone. I welcome Mr Warburton and Mr Sylham
             and Mr Turner and Mr de Vries and thank them for attending the
             meeting. The work has begun as you all know to dig the new
             river as part of the great enterprise. It is right that man should
             better the land and that man should labour to celebrate the Lord.
             The Lord said:- 'Let us make man in our image, after our
             likeness : and let them have dominion over the fishof the sea and
             over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth
             and over every creeping thing that creepeth over the earth.' All
             these things are husbandry, and we, in this congregation are
             husbandmen and our parents and their parents and
             grandparents before them were husbandmen. And the Lord
             said:- 'Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and
             subdue it.' Replenish and subdue. Both nurture and control, so it
             is right to make what we can of our fen, our reed beds."
             Pause. Warburton turns to Sylham, shrugs. Emms continues
             firmly
             But we have a duty to carry out man's works in a manner that
             would please the Lord . To replenish. Many of you are opposed
             to the work of the Oxay Fen Drainage Partners.
             murmuring among the congregation.
EZRA         That's true.
             Growing mummer
FELIX        We don't want no drainage. It ain't just water. You Partners, you
             drain away our rights.
ECCLESIASTES     Drain away our lives
FELIX        I reckon I must be the oldest man in Oxay, and Oxay don't
             change and don't want to change, begging you pardons Mr
             Warburton and Mr Sylham - and you too Mr Dutchman,-and now
             we have fancy fellows with instruments drawing a line through
             our living and your men stopping off our graffs and dykes and
             flooding all other places so you can build this new river that we
             don't want and ain't needed!
             A chorus of ‘no’ etc
WARBURTON To Sylham Confound the man! A poacher. A thief!


                                                                              40
DELIA         And you got Troopers and they gone through our house accusing
              us and they stuck Widow Baker's chicken....
EMMS          I have called this meeting because I am stricken with a dilemma.
              Pause
              I have found burials where the cut is to go. I am not opposed to
              progress. You must not be opposed to progress. But progress
              must take account of what has gone before or it is become
              destruction. What has gone before is ancient and human and has
              a right to our respect as those buried in our graveyard. Would we
              dig a river through that, saying they are old, they don't matter?
              For this reason I have called you here to tell you that I say the
              new river cut should not go where planned, and to apologise to
              you for my part in it.
WARBURTON You are a Partner, Emms! This is the damnedest nonsense! Get
          down from that pulpit! I can tell you, sir, in case you have any
          doubts on the matter that the new river cut is going where it is
          planned to go and I hope the whole parish knows it! What is
          more, the strongest measures will be taken against anyone
          opposing it or destroying our property or threatening our
          workmen. Do I make myself clear?
              He turns and walks out followed by Sylham, de Vries, turner and
              Richard. The church door slams behind them. Further awkward
              silence broken by Ezra.
EZRA.         There ain't a lot more to say, is there vicar? You know where we
              stand and we know where the Oxay Drainage Partners stand and
              that's an end on it.
CLARA.        But not an end on it.
              When we have rain, it’s going to flood us out. Everything they've
              done, they've turned into Yule Brook to keep the diggings dry.
              Have you seen Yule Brook? I went to see it yesterday. Never
              seen it higher. And Tom Clutton at the inn, he says the water is
              rising between his flags in the beer cellar. And the dykes. There's
              fish in ditches that wouldn't ha' supported a tadpole. There's not
              an end on it. And I heard that money is tight even if Partners are
              rich men because they've put everything into itand ain't got much
              slack. And what vicar says is right. We are husbandmen, and
              women, of what is and what was.
              Silence
EMMS          I'm sorry it was so short and ended like this. I do not like to see
              the village divided.
ECCLESIASTES      It has to be, lest you can stop them.



                                                                                    41
EMMS       The Lord controls these matters. The Lord parted the waters for
           Moses for he saw they had a just cause, and the Lord prepared
           Noah for the Flood. His will be done.
EZRA       Amen. That's as is.
CLARA      You walk on the ice with slow steps but stamp your feet when its
           cold.
           They all exit leaving Emms alone


INTERVAL




                                                                         42
ACT 2


SCENE 1
          Sarah’s dairy. She reads


SARAH     "Father has today written to his Solicitor in Ely, full of flowery
          sentiments but really to pump him for advice. I had to listen to
          this epistle and compliment him upon it and the tact with which
          he sought, as he put it, “ to trespass on his experience in such
          matters” The matters in question concern the acts of terror to
          which the workforce have been exposed and father's request to
          the Serjeant-at Arms to supply troopers for protection. The
          “breedlings”, as he calls our local people have frightened the
          workmen by placing signs and symbols on the ground or hanging
          effigies from trees. They even steal tools and set fire to the huts.
          I am afraid that the presence of troopers may give rise to real
          violence and wish I could stop him, but he'll have none of it. If
          this were not enough, he says that Reverend Emms has
          abandoned the teachings of the Bible and in particular the
          teachings of the Book of Genesis as regards the Creation for
          some theory of his own because of certain things he has found in
          the diggings for the new cut. Father says this is destructive
          apostasy and asks Mr Bathurst the Solicitor to bring this to the
          attention of the Bishop so that the necessary steps, as he calls
          them, can be taken under Canon Law. I believe this may mean
          the examination of Mr Emms and even the end of his
          appointment, for this is father's living. This is no good for us all
          or for the village. Pray God no more comes of it”




                                                                           43
SCENE 2
            Elm farm. Kajta and Cristeen sit either side of the window. They
            are making lace. The bobbins click as they work, the ladies
            pause from time to time to insert pins for the pattern.
            Conversation between the two is conducted slowly.
CRISTEEN.   You see this is not so difficult! Sitting with me or making lace!
            You must keep the tension in the threads... Watch that one, you
            have let it slack.
            Katja sighs and corrects her work
            I can see you are not really interested in this, there's no need to
            sigh. You're not really looking at what you're doing. Complete
            attention is needed for good lace, and we all need lace. I can tell
            everything by the tension. Look at your pillow. You see, the
            pattern is all pulled one way.
KATJA.      No. I. really...do....not....enjoy....making....lace.
CRISTEEN    Then you should take up something else to amuse you. Sarah
            Warburton has invited you to play the virginal with her.
            Pause
KATJA       You know I can't play the virginal.
CRISTEEN    You can learn. I'm sure she will be willing to teach you. That is an
            accomplishment.
KATJA       I can't play any sort of instrument. You know I've no music. Shall
            I take up blowing the trumpet?
CRISTEEN    That's no way to talk. I am serious. When someone invites you, it
            is a kind act.
            You should treat it that way, it is a matter of manners.
KATJA       I'm sorry. I have no manners.


CRISTEEN    Hmm.
            And you should go with her on this outing she suggested to this
            Lynn town.
            She will organise a carriage and you can visit the shops... or go
            horse riding. Miss Sarah said they have a number of horses, and
            I'm sure she would be a good companion. It is a good way to
            explore the countryside and keep your feet dry
            And if all that is too active, Miss Sarah said you could sit and


                                                                               44
            sketch together. That would be nice.....
KATJA       Mama, I am perfectly all right as I am....
CRISTEEN.   Pull that bobbin, its caught up!
            Pause
            And what do you think of Master Richard?
KATJA.      Nothing. He is spoiled. He stares at me. He thinks I will be
            impressed that he is a Partner.
            They click away making lace
CRISTEEN.   I hear you like to go walking. Miss Sarah tells me so.
KATJA       What's wrong with that? I always go walking, you always sleep in
            the afternoon. How does she know, anyway!
CRISTEEN    Apparently Master Richard has seen you and mentioned it to
            Miss Sarah.
KATJA       Master Richard! Miss Sarah! They sound like, what, children, or
            dogs!
CRISTEEN    You know what your father would say. Hear ye children the
            instruction of a father and attend to know understandingly.
KATJA       Mama! I am not a child.
CRISTEEN    But you did not behave well in Scheveningen. He worries for you.




                                                                           45
SCENE 3
             The site of the works in the fen. The men are in a clearing ringed
             with reeds. Noise of work going on all around and nearby -
             distant sounds of spades, digging, pumps, water, squeaking
             barrows, cranes etc. De Vries and Warburton looking at a map of
             the works held by de Vries and Turner. A bitterly cold day. Some
             snow on the ground.
DE VRIES     Pointing at the map
             There. That's where we are now. Now there...That's where we
             should be. Those devils, those vandals burned down two huts
             last night, full of rope and timber. These troopers, they must have
             been asleep. They turned up just in time to warm their behinds.
             Mr Turner lost papers.
TURNER       Records. Accounts. A wage ledger.
DE VRIES     They swear there was a woman among them, but they all dress
             as women, so how do we know? The troopers won't shoot! Well,
             on we struggle.
             Here, here and here, catchwater drains. We have cut them off so
             they cannot flood us .But it needs a twelve foot bottom to drain
             five thousand acres of polder and the catchwaters are
             overflowing. Perhaps this cold weather will do it. If it freezes it will
             steady everything, but we must have it done before the thaw.
TURNER       To Warburton It's the nature of the ground.
DE VRIES     We must have a fall of what you call six inches to one mile. Not
             too fast, not too slow. We need more wind pumps to keep things
             dry and stop the banks falling in. Here, here and here.
WARBURTON Those things cost money.
DE VRIES     Ja! But so does delay. It is my experience that water rising up
             from below does not freeze like water on top. Like the bottom of
             a lake it stays wet. This ground is like a wet loaf. Veen, peat, and
             bagger, what we call this mud from rivers, and shells. Only now
             have we found a dry bed of gravel.The men are working up to
             their knees sometimes and their shoes rot. They are starting to
             mutter about more money. And we have your Mr Emms .He was
             down here yesterday picking up bits and pieces off the gravel
             bed, shouting at the men to stop, and they do because he is a
             vicar and a Partner!
WARBURTON He's been back?
DE VRIES     Yes



                                                                                  46
WARBURTON I'm dealing with him. What did he want?
DE VRIES.      He wanted me to have these!
               He rakes in his pocket and pulls out small objects he shows to
               Warburton
WARBURTON Bits of stone! He wanted you to have bits of stone? That's what
          he's collecting!
DE VRIES       He wanted you to see them. He says that they've been made by
               men, long ago.......
WARBURTON Confound, confound confound!           He looks at the objects
DE VRIES       He says that if you look at them they're arrow heads and have
               been made. By chipping away he said , by men of long ago........
WARBURTON I'll keep them! I can use them! For the Bishop!
DE VRIES       But if you see, they are shaped like the head of an arrow...
WARBURTON My fields are full of shattered stone. Here's John Sylham. He
          won't be pleased.
               Sylham is carrying a cross made of tree branches, from which
               are suspended two dead crows and other indeterminate corpses.
               he holds it up for them to see.
SYLHAM         What's this? Hear they burned down two huts. Found this thing
               stuck in the ground. A dead cattoo. Came to see the damage.
               What've we lost-
TURNER         My papers....
DE VRIES       Rope store and sawn timber. Dressed as women.
SYLHAM         Again! Wet down here. Frozen puddles on the road... What's that
               you've got.
WARBURTON That depends whether you're sane or William Emms.
DE VRIES       Mr Emms gave then to me. He was here collecting them from the
               gravel. He stopped the men working to do it. He follows them like
               a chicken following a plough, then "stop"!
SYLHAM         Been shaped.
WARBURTON Come on John! That's chipped flint from the ploughshare. Fields
          are full of it.
SYLHAM         They're still shaped.
WARBURTON Children, I don't know....nothing better to do....
SYLHAM         Look like arrow heads.
WARBURTON. So what! We've got other problems. He takes the objects back.
           These are for the Bishop. Jacob is getting worried about the


                                                                                47
              water level. Tell him.
DE VRIES      It is rising and we need to pump the dykes. We have had to dam
              off so many graffs. This is normal.
SYLHAM        Was this allowed for?
WARBURTON We allowed for pumping.
SYLHAM        But did we allow for this extra pumping?
WARBURTON No
SYLHAM        And the ropes and rope store and cranes and barrows and
              spades...
WARBURTON You know we didn't. Tell him Jacob, what you were telling me.
DE VRIES      We need a bigger catchwater drain. We have cut off Yule Brook
              and that water is building up. We have to relieve it. We need a
              drain with a twelve foot bottom. And this ground is difficult.
SYLHAM        What have we got?
WARBURTON Eight.
TURNER        And the wider the drain, the greater the fall to clean it...
              Silence, interrupted by distant yells. The two surveyors, Friend
              and Parker come rushing in, muddy, dishevilled from the works.
TURNER        What's this? We're busy.
PARKER        Sorry Mr Turner, Gentlemen, you've got to see this....
FRIEND        You have to....
WARBURTON , DE VRIES AND SYLHAM What?
PARKER        A dead man.
              Pause
              At least a bit of a dead man. So far.
FRIEND        The men have run off. They say they ain't coming back, ain't
              digging up corpses.
WARBURTONCome on!
              They tramp across stage en masse and stand to one side,
              staring down.at something amongst abandoned shovels, a
              barrow
PARKER        There!
WARBURTON What in the name of God!
PARKER        The men thought it was some old boot or hide or something.
              Then they saw the bones and the hand and they ran away. I took
              a shovel and cleared a bit....


                                                                             48
SYLHAM         Good man. Clear some more.
PARKER         I'd rather not, Mr Sylham...
SYLHAM         Give it here.
               Parker hands Sylham a spade. Sylham pokes at the ground
               carefully
               There's the rest of an arm. A shoulder...
WARBURTON All looks like leather...
DE VRIES       That is a body.
WARBURTON. Damnation! Keep digging John.
SYLHAM         And there is a neck, and that squashed thing is a head...colour of
               leather.
WARBURTON Colour of the peat. That's all we need! Get the men back here,
          clear this out.
SYLHAM         To do what?
WARBURTON Lime pit. Get rid of it. I've a good one on the farm.
SYLHAM         Can't do that Robert. Have to inform the Coroner. Establish
               cause of death.
WARBURTON This thing's been dead for a long time. He won't want to know.
SYLHAM         It could be a murder. Coroner must know.
DE VRIES       This body has been here for hundreds of years.
WARBURTON How do you know that?
DE VRIES       Look at the ground. I have spent most of my life looking at
               excavations and there is no sign of a grave or of digging. When a
               pit is dug, you can see the remains of it. A shadow in the ground
               where the earth is disturbed.
WARBURTON Are you sure?
DE VRIES       I am sure.
WARBURTON Have it out. I don't know anyone in this town that's gone missing
          in my lifetime.
SYLHAM         Tell the Coroner, let him see it. You must, it's a body and that's
               the law.
WARBURTON What do you say?
TURNER         I think we should dig it out and tell the Coroner.
WARBURTON after a pause
               Very well. Get up a tent Jacob, or a hut, and we'll put this moon-
               calf thing in it. And get back to work!


                                                                                    49
DE VRIES       It will not be easy to get the men back to work. They are
               superstitious. And who is to dig it out?
WARBURTON Parker, you seem a solid sort of man, will you dig it out?
PARKER         If I have help. And a plank to put the bits on.
DE VRIES       The men ran off shouting they wanted a Priest.
WARBURTON Holy Father what next! They'll have to do without that! Parker,
          find anyone you can to help, we'll give them treble pay.
PARKER         Yes Mr Warburton.
               He leaves followed by Friend. Sylham turns toward burton)
SYLHAM         You know this was once a man.
WARBURTON I'm not a fool.
SYLHAM         Who lived here a long time ago? Whose ancestor is he, or she,
               tell me that? We have always lived here. That could be my
               ancestor you called a moon-calf, or yours.
WARBURTON I came here to talk pumping and money. Let's get on with it.
SYLHAM         There are times when I think we should sit down and consider
               what we are doing.
WARBURTON Don't you get infected by this damned nonsense. It's a plague. A
          damned nonsense conjured out of the vapours of this cursed fen!
          What do you say, Jacob?
DE VRIES       We must get on.




                                                                              50
SCENE 4   Blue moonlight backdrop, dark shadow. Open land. Scuffling
          stage right, noises of exertion. Three male and a fourth female
          figure, visible only as black silhouettes, move across stage. On
          their shoulders they carry some sort of plank or stretcher. Upon it
          is a dark shape. They cross without speaking and disappear.




                                                                          51
SCENE 5
          Split scene. Sarah at her desk with her diary. Emms with his.
          Both are visible but each is lit as they speak.
SARAH.    "Eighth day of November, One Thousand Six Hundred and
          Ninety. Father came back from the works in a great rage,
          shouted at Richard, who deserved it and would not eat his
          supper, which I have not seen before. The strange corpse or
          remnants having been removed to a locked hut while a decision
          could be made how to deal with them; the lock was forced in the
          night and the reliquiae taken, almost certainly by the villagers.
          And Mr Emms. Father says the remains look like nothing so
          much as two old leather bottles and a bundle of faggots. The
          workmen meanwhile have announced that they will not work on
          that part of the Cut until a Blessing for the Dead has been said
          over it. Father does not believe in their sudden ecumenical
          conversion and believes that they are waiting for the fen to
          freeze, thus becoming drier, and to ask for more money. I am
          convinced by what I have seen that Richard has designs on Miss
          de Vries and I DO NOT APPROVE. She must beware.”


          Emms at his desk as before


 EMMS       “ There has been brought to me by my parishioners an ancient
          man that has been found buried at great depth in the peat of the
          excavations. I cannot condone their act of removal, nor my own
          but the alternative (of convenience) may have been to consign
          this individual to a lime pit. The body, for it is a complete body
          through some manner of preservation, has now been buried by
          me, assisted by those parishioners in the consecrated ground of
          the graveyard and so concealed that it can come to no harm .I
          have said the service for Burial over this man, for whoever he
          was and whenever, he is still one of God's people and I pray for
          him, although he may have lived before Christ our Lord trod this
          earth. This may be confirmed by the presence of gravel at great
          depth in the excavations and the presence in that gravel of arrow
          heads and perhaps spears. My review of the Book of Genesis
          refuses to assist me as the events recorded may only be those
          events remembered there being older events forgotten.”


          Emms stares at his ledger for a few moments. And then -
          Help me.




                                                                          52
SCENE 6
          Peter's fishing lair amongst the rushes. This time it is freezing,
          the spot is lit with blue/grey light, the rushes rustle, dry, dead.
          Peter is waiting, he is wrapped in several layers of clothing,
          hands in pockets. Katja appears. She is obviously in a hurry
DADE.     You weren't seen?
KATJA.    No. But I must be quick. Mama is asleep in front of the fire but it
          is so cold, she may wake up, and she'll shout for me. Frozen. Ice.
          Thick ice. This is exciting. Will it carry me?
          You think so, don't you, or don't you care!
DADE      It'll carry a horse! It's solid. I've tried it.
KATJA     I don't have skates. They're in Holland. Have you got skates?
DADE      Yes. I have a pair that should fit you, - mine when I was only
          fourteen. Bone runners, a good pair. Where shall we meet?
          There'll be torches and fire barrels and a hog roast... I'll leave the
          skates in the hedge by your gate.
KATJA     I'll meet you there, I'll have to escape by a window when they're
          asleep. This is very exciting! I must go.
          She gives him a quick kiss and exits
DADE      I'll be waiting.




                                                                                53
SCENE 7.
               Warburton's paneled room. The heavy table has been turned
               long ways, with chairs behind it, facing a solitary chair. Behind
               the table sit Sylham, Turner, Warburton, Simon Patrick, Bishop of
               Ely, de Vries and Richard Warburton. Patrick is a smallish round
               man, red of face, and given to indigestion which makes him
               tetchy and prone to clutch his stomach. Two priests sit at the end
               as scribes, taking notes, saying nothing.
SYLHAM         Your Grace, isn't this arrangement intimidating?
PATRICK        A man of God is accustomed to tribulation. This Emms is late.
WARBURTON I don't think so...
PATRICK        Your friend Bathurst is a persuasive man. This journey has been
               my tribulation. I had no idea I was setting out into such bleak
               conditions,- Ely is set in ice like marble.
WARBURTON I'm sorry about the conditions, but this had to be done.....
PATRICK        I'm sure, I'm sure. It is my duty. The Church is driven by duty.
               Emms enters. He is dressed in a long black cloak, hat in one
               hand and a bible and leather bag in the other. He looks around
               the room, indicates the table and chair. Sylham nods and Emms
               goes to it, makes a short bow to the Bishop.
EMMS           Good morning your Grace, gentlemen. A bitter morning. Ice.
WARBURTON Please sit down
PATRICK        Before we begin, let us pray. Let us pray that in doing the works
               of the Lord we shall at all times be led by His light, which goes
               before us to show us the path of righteousness that is cleared
               through the dark forest of man's sins.
ALL            Amen
PATRICK        Mr Emms, I wish you good day. You are known to these
               gentlemen. These two are my scribes who will record these
               proceedings. Mr Emms, I believe you know why I am here, but I
               shall put it in plain language. I am here as your Bishop to
               examine the beliefs that you have expressed to these gentlemen
               and to your pastoral flock. These, as conveyed to me, lead me to
               serious concern over the propriety of your ministry. Namely, you
               have permitted yourself to interpret the Holy Book according to
               your own views and have I understand conceived a blasphemous
               chronology for mankind, denying the six periods of God's
               dealings with men. Going further, you have rejected the wisdom


                                                                                  54
              of great scholars and the very facts of the Bible that establish the
              creation of our earth in the year four thousand and four before
              our Lord Christ.
              It says in Isaiah "Woe unto him that striveth with his maker! Let
              the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay
              say to him that fashioneth it, what makest thou?" I am told you
              have constructed a chronology from pieces of metal and stone
              dug from the ground. That you prefer these things, without
              lineage or record, to the word of the Holy Book. Is that not so, Mr
              Warburton?
WARBURTON You produced bits of pot and stone. You preached about "old
          people" in church. You told John Sylham all sorts of things and
          gave Mister de Vries bits of stone and stopped the work.You tell
          everyone that the earth is much older than the Bible says and
          that there have been people and things for countless thousands
          of years. This cannot go on, these are not the proper teachings
          for a flock from its pastor. You are a Partner in this enterprise
          and you want to divert the work away from this thing you call a
          burial ground. A pastor must guide his flock in the way of the
          Lord. Do you deny all this?
EMMS          No. I have found things that must be many thousands of years
              old. I have calculated as best I can according to their depth in the
              ground. The pieces I gave to Mister de Vries are arrow heads by
              their shape and spears, from the most ancient of times. They lie
              amongst the rounded gravel in the diggings which must
              themselves have been shaped by the action of water as pebbles
              are shaped on the shore. I consider that these stone pieces were
              made long before the bronze pieces I have also found, and may
              be ten, twenty thousand years old, maybe more.
              Silence. Only the sound of the scribes furiously making notes
              I cannot deny what I have seen! Your Grace as you have
              referred me to the Bible, I in turn refer you to Ecclesiastes,
              Chapter 3, Verse 15. You will find there that it says "That which
              hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been and
              God requireth that which is past". Is it wrong to hold to that?
              Silence
PATRICK       Well, now I have heard it for myself.
EMMS          I have never doubted God's Creation.
PATRICK       You think fit to interpret it. What's the difference?
EMMS          I interpret it to explain it.
PATRICK       Have you lost your sanity Mr Emms?



                                                                               55
           Emms goes to the table. Patrick looks alarmed and draws slightly
           back. Emms takes objects from the bag he carries, puts them on
           the table in front of Patrick. Patrick stares at them.
           What am I supposed to make of these...chippings?
EMMS       I did not set out to have any conclusions, your Grace, I set out
           only as a man with an enquiring mind. That befits a man who has
           the time and inclination to study. It is the apparatus the Good
           Lord has seen fit to give me. Consider this. I have shown these
           things to Mr de Vries, and I have shown other things to Mr
           Warburton and Mr Sylham. Mr de Vries in particular is a man
           who has in the course of his work looked into the secrets of the
           earth...
DE VRIES   The earth has few secrets to me sir.
EMMS       These are the facts which present themselves. At first, if you are
           digging you come upon the commonplace and exhausted things
           of our own time, a boot buckle, piece of chain, a nail, a billhook,
           broken or lost, covered by the annual decay of reeds and weed.
           Everyday things. Further down you may come upon a coin of the
           age, say of Elizabeth, or of Henry, clearly marked that some
           unfortunate has lost and so it continues until you, at a
           considerable depth, find things that are I believe Roman, coins
           with the heads of Emperors and Roman letters, and things of
           rusted iron. And below that again, separated by depth of soil ,
           which is a true measure of time, are things made of bronze .Such
           as this.
           He shows Patrick a spear head, an axe head, other
           indistinguishable items.
           And below these, far below, where the solid gravel is struck that
           underlies all our water and rush and sedge, there are these!
           He picks up and holds out his pieces of flint to Patrick
PATRICK.   A piece of stone! You build up this climax and give me a piece of
           stone! Lord for sanity!
EMMS.      Look at it. Look at the shaping. It has been worked and chipped
           to a point. Think of the skill in making it. Could any of us make an
           arrow head from a piece of flint?
           Silence
           No, that is a real question. Could any of us make an arrow head
           from a piece of flint.
SYLHAM     Let me see it.
           Patrick passes it to Sylham, via Warburton and turner to his right,
           without bothering to turn. Sylham examines it)


                                                                            56
              You have to admit it's a well-made thing.
PATRICK       Made?
SYLHAM        It's made. That's where it slipped into a shaft. And its damned
              sharp...beg pardon your Grace.
EMMS          And it is from the very bottom of the cut. Among the gravel.
              What we have in the ground is a great clock, or if you prefer, a
              chronicle. You cannot deny the layers of material, the time it
              takes to accumulate. You all see it in your ditches and on your
              fields...
PATRICK       That's claptrap dressed as science, Emms.
EMMS          That arrow head was made by our ancestors.
WARBURTON It weren't made by mine! Are you saying that thing was made by
          an Englishman?
EMMS          I am.
RICHARD       Who ran about half naked like a Red Indian with his bow and
              arrows!
EMMS          Long ago.
TURNER        And they couldn't make metal.
WARBURTON And they were our ancestors. Englishmen.
RICHARD       Arrows with a bit of sharpened stone
EMMS          Yes.
PATRICK       Mr Emms, leaving aside this so-called science, it seems clear to
              me that it is the undertaking of a parish priest whatever that man
              may think ,to look after his parish and direct them and feed them
              the word of the Lord .And to pursue this metaphor, that food is
              prepared for us in the Good Book and he is to serve it up, not
              add his own ingredients.
              Richard sniggers. Patrick looks long and hard at Emms
EMMS          'Whatsoever thy hand findeth or do, do it with thy might; for there
              is no work, no device, nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave
              whither thou goest ''At Genesis Chapter Three, Verse 7 we learn
              that Eve sewed fig leaves together, which she could not have
              done without needles and at Chapter Four Verse 22 we learn
              that Tubalcain, son of Zillah was “an instructor of every artificer in
              brass and iron.” Those bronze spears and buckles I have were
              made before men could make brass or iron. What, then, of the
              stone weapons that precede them?
              They are all baffled by this, in particular Bishop Patrick whose
              knowledge of the scriptures is no match for Emms. Warburton


                                                                                 57
               and turner look to him for a reply that never comes
WARBURTON And then there is the matter of the body, your Grace. That is not
          the action to be expected of a vicar.
PATRICK        What's your answer to that Emms? It requires a very exact
               explanation.
EMMS           The remains of this ancient human were brought to me by night
               by the villagers. No more thanskin and bones. The villagers, - my
               flock - feared that these remains were about to be cast into a
               lime pit. A course they told me that Mr Warburton intended to
               take.
WARBURTON That is impudent nonsense, dreamed up by these breedlings!
          They live in a world of imaginings and hate for our work!
EMMS           Be that as it may, they believed it. They saw this as some fellow
               man who should be given decent burial. Only diseased animals
               should be put in a lime pit.
DE VRIES       They broke into one of my huts, Mr Emms. It was theft. They
               have stolen everything from me that they can lay their hands on,
               burned my rope and timber. This flock, as you describe them
               seems more like the wolves than the sheep to me.
TURNER         They smashed the lock. They nailed our nightwatchman's door
               so he couldn't get out.
EMMS           That was all wrong, but do you think they could ask for a key? It's
               not how they see the works. If they approach it they are met by
               troopers who raise their muskets on sight. I am not proud to be a
               Partner in this thing, and want no more of it. I am their pastor as
               you keep reminding me, so what would you have me do when
               they are troubled? You weren't there to consult, your Grace. I did
               what any man of God should do, I consulted my conscience. Are
               you saying that was wrong? This digging, these works, are
               cutting through ancient things that matter to my flock, that belong
               to them.
WARBURTON Nothing belongs to them! It's the fen! Our fen!
RICHARD        So they own this mud and water! Perhaps they should try to
               plough it.
WARBURTON In any case, what you say isn't true. The remains were in the hut
          until we decided what to do. I had it in mind, Emms, to inform the
          Coroner, but I can't do that now. Is that responsible?
EMMS           The villagers put the remains neatly in a box. They can be
               exhumed .
               Warburton is not pleased with this answer



                                                                               58
WARBURTON What do you say?
EMMS           They have been properly buried and I have said over this
               creature the Service of Burial.
PATRICK        From the Book of Common Prayer?
EMMS           Yes.
PATRICK        With no knowledge of who he was or the manner of his death,
               you've administered the Sacraments! Suppose he was a
               murderer, or heathen or some other proscribed sinner!
EMMS           He was a man and he was dead, in the bog, and must have died
               long ago, but he would have been known to the God in whom,
               your Grace, we both believe.
PATRICK        I think it would be better if we talked alone.


WARBURTON Will you leave us. And take your ...artifacts with you.
               Emms collects his bits and pieces and puts them in his bag. As
               he does so there is a silence broken only by the scratching of the
               quills of the scribes.
EMMS           I will remove myself. That is what you want. Nemesis. Think on
               Deuteronomy Chapter19 Verse 14. "Thou shalt not remove they
               neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine
               inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy
               God giveth thee to possess it". Nor should you deny the
               evidence of your own eyes. There is no mention, you know, of
               ice in the Book of Genesis. Good day.
               Patrick waves at the scribes to stop writing.
WARBURTON That's that.
DE VRIES       He is a deluded man.
RICHARD        Bows and arrows! Red Englishmen!
SYLHAM         That's enough. William Emms is a good man. Shouldn't we be
               disturbed by what he believes he has found? Those arrow heads
               were made by men. I can see it. Shouldn't any man using the
               faculties the Good Lord has given us, ask what they are doing
               deep in the earth? Ask if we should be digging if we have
               uncovered some cemetery?
PATRICK        Mr Sylham, these arrow heads if that is what they are were
               created in the ground where they were found when the Lord
               created the Earth and everything upon it and around it. Have we
               finished? I think we all agree there is no place here for this man,
               that he has slipped.



                                                                                59
WARBURTON And fallen.
PATRICK        I'll get out the necessary letters to Emms and the Parish. And to
               the Coroner . He'll understand this corpse or whatever must not
               get in the way. Do you agree?
               They all nod except Sylham
SYLHAM         It's frozen outside and the fen is solid. They'll be skating tonight.
               This may be the last time they skate on it. When we drain it, it'll
               all be gone.
WARBURTON Good thing! It's all an entertainment of the devil! Drinking and
          dancing and fornication I shouldn't be surprised!
SYLHAM         Have you ever been there?
WARBURTON Never.
SYLHAM         I first skated on it when I was seven on skates I'd made myself.
               Cow jaws.
WARBURTON I didn't mean...


SYLHAM         Do you remember when you were seven? What it was like never
               to be tired, to have no aches in your limbs and to have days as
               long as centuries? You were just there, no idea how you got
               there, with the tar barrels blazing and the smell of a roasting hog.
               Staggering at first, then standing up, then you were off, fast as a
               hare...that will all be gone!
WARBURTON What's this all about John?
SYLHAM         I don't know....the passing of things, change, the village. For a bit
               of pasture. Forgive us our trespasses. I meet my tenants there.
               Always have, and I shall be sorry to see it go. There we are, I'll
               be on my way.
               There is uneasy silence
WARBURTON An old family, old thoughts. Been here hundreds of years. So
          have the Emms'.
               Well,back to business. We shall have to find someone to bless
               the excavation or the men won't go back. Can you help us there?
PATRICK        I'll see who I can find. You'll need a new pastor anyway. It's cold
               in here Warburton! When the outside freezes ,the inner man
               needs warmth!. A brandy perhaps?




                                                                                   60
SCENE 8
          The fen, a half moon and the flicker of flames in tar barrels create
          a soft light. (Barrels full of sand with a container of pitchset inside
          with a wick) The villagers moving to and fro. Simple music is
          being played. A hog roasting etc. in the background. We see
          Felix, Ecclesiastes, Ezra, Delia, Peter Dade, and Clara to one
          side. There are straw sacks for seating, planks, an old chair etc.
FELIX     Have you tested the ice?
EZRA      What do you think? Me and Ecclesiastes been jumping on it.
          Tapped it with a lump hammer, rings like a bell, play a tune on it.
FELIX     Put out the lanterns?
EZRA      All along the water line. That's half a mile away this year. Sea
          can't get in no further.
FELIX     Haven't had so much ice this ten years. Haven't seen so much
          water aforehand. Wait 'till it thaws!
EZRA      Shan't see it again if they drain it. Make the most of it.
FELIX     The bastards don't seem like scaring.
          There is laughter and the occasional scream from the skaters.
          This is ours Ezra!
EZRA      I knows that, don't I just know that! That old hog of Ted's ,that
          smells all right! Smell him drip! Nothing like hog fat
FELIX     We only got him because he can't get his cock up. Old meat and
          useless.
EZRA      You can talk!
FELIX     There's Clara.
EZRA      Where?
FELIX     Over there. Keeping herself to herself. Reckon she can just
          disappear you know, skate into the moon, gone. Delia says she
          saw her with some sort of man-devil that turned into a tree. You
          going to skate?
EZRA      Well I brought them with me. I'm getting crook - old joints crackle
          like faggots, but I'll have a go. Look, there's Peter Dade on his
          own. Don't he go now? I was like that once. Like you skimmed a
          stone.
          Laughter and music
          What're we going to do to stop 'em Felix?
FELIX     You lot won't let me shoot them. We should burn them out, like
          they burned out the King's men. Rushes is dry as tinder. A good


                                                                              61
         smart Easterly, set fires across a mile. We know how to do it.
EZRA     Then they burn us out and hang a few, if we ain't been shot first.
         I'm going skating...
         Focus shifts to Clara. Sylham approaches
SYLHAM   Good evening Clara Hare.
         Clara starts
CLARA    Are you here?
SYLHAM   What sort of daft question is that? You know I always come.
         Since I was a boy. My men are all here so I should be seen.
CLARA    Allowed out. You mustn't be seen with me. There's ten miles of
         ice.
SYLHAM   Allowed out.
CLARA    Want to skate, John Sylham? Got them with you, or is this all
         words?
SYLHAM   I'll skate. Somewhere more discreet. Way over.
         You putting skates on?
CLARA    Got them.
         Usually skate on my own.
SYLHAM   Why?
CLARA    You know why, - say I'm a witch. I don't mind, I like to skate
         alone. You can skate as far as Wenham village with this ice. That
         way you can skate into the moon, come back, skate into the
         moon, do what you want, see what you want , scatter the swans.
         They fall over you know, can't run on the ice. So Emms is to go,
         just for asking questions about Creation. What's Christian in that?
         I hope you didn't vote for it. You see all that wondeful ice, that's
         God's creation and you'd take it from us. Let me do up that
         buckle......
         Can you imagine all this as a field of yellow cole-seed. Stinking
         when it rots. You can't let it go on John, not through here,
         through the old people. Mustn't
SYLHAM   Can't stop it now, Clara. All signed and bound and legal and
         approved by Parliament. Articles of Agreement and things like
         that. All my money too.
         Going really badly . We need more money.
CLARA    Taking his arm Only if you go on.




                                                                             62
         A skating sequence


CLARA    You can still skate!
SYLHAM   So can you! Remember when you were ten and crashed into a
         branch, tore your clothes....
CLARA    I remember when I was fifteen and you took me behind that tree
         over there, that's what I remember.
SYLHAM   Best forgot.
CLARA    No. Don't forget good things John Sylham or where's your larder
         when you're old and need a bitof something........you know we
         should be here husband and wife.......
SYLHAM   It was money, Clara, desperate money...
CLARA    I know, I know.
         They skate in silence for a moment
         But that moon and those fires and the music and the ice...that
         ain't desperate money and you don't need to take it away.
         They skate on
         Focus shifts to Peter Dade waiting at the edge of the ice. Katja
         approaches, reaches out playfully to tug his sleeve.
DADE     Katja! You made it!
KATJA    I waited until they were both snoring and climbed out the
         huiskamer window. The one on the ground floor. I can't be long,
         but I said I'd come! I'll be in such trouble if they catch me!
DADE     Skates?
KATJA    Found them, got them on. Let's get on the ice, this is just like
         home, the music and the firebarrels and half a moon.
         They start out, arm in arm. As they go out of sight, Richard
         emerges, he stands in light close to a barrel. He is motionless,
         watching. Delia and Ezra in turn watch him
DELIA    What's that Richard Warburton doing here? Bet his father don't
         know about it. Brat!
EZRA     He'll be watching Peter Dade. I've seen him following her when
         she's out. She meets Dade and he'jealous I reckon. The girls a
         jezebel, a.... a wanton.
DELIA    That's a big word for you.
EZRA     All right, but what's Dade doing with a Dutchie anyway?
DELIA    What do you think you miserable git! You were young once. It's


                                                                            63
         not her fault. Would you like that miserable feather-hatted piece
         of horse shit as your father? Oh, I forgot, you had one!
EZRA     Eccesiastes will surely like that!
DELIA    Tell him what you like, I don't care....


         Back to Clara and Sylham
CLARA    You ain't lost your feet.
SYLHAM   Nor you. I ought to go.
CLARA    So its 'thank you for the dance kind sir',is it?
SYLHAM   Clara, you know I shouldn't be seen with you.........
CLARA    So it’s just something else for Clara to put in her larder for when
         she's old. I hope you has the same in yours as I has in mine.
         Sylham turns to go but Clara grasps him and kisses him
         passionately. Sylham, bemused, walks off backwards, tottering in
         his skates. Clara calls after him.
         You should know, John Sylham, I shall be round for your horses
         when it thaws! Don't let me down! Horses...here's a riddle for
         you. What walks all day on its head?


SYLHAM   Your riddles! How should I know.
CLARA    A horseshoe nail! Think on that and don't forget the horses.
         She goes
SYLHAM   What horses?


         Back to Peter and Katja, slightly out of breath
KATJA    I have to get back. I must!
DADE.    It's like flying! Nothing faster on this earth, not even Helmsby's
         Turk or a hare or a trout in a river!
KATJA    Helmsby's Turk?
DADE     The fastest racehorse in the land! Let's skate some more. I'll race
         you.
KATJA    I must get back. If father finds out I'll never see you again!
DADE     Just one turn.
         He takes her by the waist and they go out, turn once on the ice
         Perhaps I'll see you tomorrow? Bring your skates....


                                                                              64
KATJA     Yes.
          She throws her arms around peter, kisses him and is gone. Peter
          stares after her. As she disappears the figure of Richard
          emerges from the darkness. They stare at each other. A long
          way off is the sound of music and laughter.
RICHARD   Alone, ploughjack? Has she left you? Pretty girl, eh? Wouldn't
          have thought she'd pay much attention to the likes of you.
DADE      I ain't responding.
RICHARD   You ain't responding! I should say a ploughjack don't know how
          to respond when spoken to. Comes of talking too much to the
          arse end of a horse, wouldn't you say? Sorry, you don't respond!
DADE      Watch what you say.
RICHARD   A response. Now we're having what you could call a
          conversation. You know, I say something then you say
          something...you got that? Not too difficult.
DADE      Wouldn't be if you wasn't a Warburton.
RICHARD   I shouldn't let that bother you. I ain't bothered you're a
          ploughjack. Or was. I hear you're unemployed.
DADE      What have you come to say? I'm going skating.
RICHARD   I've seen you already skating. Now that girl needs a real partner,
          not the likes of you. And I've seen you meeting. Shouldn't be.
          What would her father say?
DADE      What do you want?
RICHARD   That little secret place you think you've got! In the rushes like
          some moulting bog-hen. I've seen you tucked up nicely. What
          you call "fishing" isn't it?
DADE      I should knock your teeth down your throat!
RICHARD   So you should. Catch me if you think you can skate!
          He pushes off. Dade follows in pursuit
          Come on ploughjack! Into the dark...afraid to come!
          The lights of the barrels and the sound of the music are distant
          now. Richard suddenly stops, Dade shoots past him and
          Richard pushes him forward on his way past. Dade looses his
          balance, falls forward and disappears. There is the sound of
          cracking ice and a muted splash. Richard stops, waits and listens


          Dade? Pause Dade?
          The slight sound of clicking ice and very distant music.


                                                                              65
You should have known the edge, I can smell the salt!
Silence
Dade?
He moves cautiously backwards and skates off.




                                                        66
SCENE 9
          Sarah with diary as before.
SARAH     "Tenth day of December, One Thousand Six Hundred and
          Ninety. CATASTROPHE. There has been a terrible accident
          such that I have not been able to keep up with my diary. Three
          nights ago there was a skating on the fen, it being frozen solid
          and we could hear the music and see the fire lights from the
          house. Father pulled all the curtains and said it was the Devil at
          play! I confess that I had a mind to attend with Richard, only to
          find he had gone on his own without me.
          However I am relieved I did not go, for the following morning it
          was discovered that Peter Dade, a young ploughjack or labourer
          of the village seen skating but gone missing ,had fallen through
          the ice. The villagers got a skiff and ropes and ladders and found
          him quite dead, trapped beneath it. It seems by accident he may
          have strayed to that part of the ice where salt water from the tide
          undercuts it making it thin and there had fallen in unheard and
          unnoticed. A horrible way to die, There is much distress and in
          particular Katja is in tears she cannot hide. It is become obvious
          to me that she and Peter Dade somehow managed to have an
          affection.
          Now a thaw has set in and there is water in abundance and no
          trace of ice. All as if it never was ...
          Katja bursts in, she has been crying
KATJA     Are you alone?
SARAH     Well...yes.
KATJA     You have to help me. You have to! She stifles a sob
          Sarah put her arm round Katja who rejects the gesture of
          kindness
SARAH     How?
KATJA     I don't know how, I must tell someone. You understand, I am on
          my own
SARAH     Then tell me.
KATJA     Can I tell you? You think I'm a silly Dutch girl.
SARAH     I don't.
KATJA     And it's my fault. I want to be home. This would never have
          happened. I have to tell someone.




                                                                           67
SARAH    Slowly...what is it you have to tell someone?
KATJA    Someone has to know. They must. I can't just keep it, just to
         Katja!
SARAH    What?
KATJA    The other night. I was skating. I shouldn't have been but I was.
SARAH    That's not so bad. I was tempted.
KATJA    With Peter Dade. He asked me. He brought skates. We skated
         very fast, very fast like flying, he was such a good skater...I had
         to go early in case Papa found out, he is so strikt. I must do
         everything life in my life in case Papa finds out…poomf, poomf,
         poomf in Sceveningham in case Papa finds out. No boys, no fun,
         in case Papa finds out. And Richard was there. Your Richard. He
         saw me and stopped me!
SARAH    I know. He went without me.
KATJA    He asked if Papa knew, he tried to kiss me, he put his hands on
         me. I think he had been drinking. He said he would tell Mamma
         about us and where we met and he laughed and called Peter
         names I don't understand so I ran away. Into the dark. I watched
         him, and he went onto the ice, to Peter.
SARAH    What?
KATJA.   They went off on the ice, together. Your Richard, he spoke to
         Peter I left, I was frightened.
SARAH    What are you saying?
KATJA    I am saying they went off together. Across the ice. Maybe they
         fought. I heard shouts.
         Pause
SARAH    I see.
KATJA    You see. And I have told you and I should tell Mr Warburton and
         my father and tell everyone, because they were together and
your     Richard has followed me when I go on walks and spied when I
met      Peter. And has said things to me about Peter. I must tell
         Mr Warburton.!
SARAH    Katja,you can't! What would you tell him?


KATJA.   To ask Richard what happened on the ice. What happened to
         Peter?
         She lets out a wail




                                                                          68
SARAH    You think Richard had something to do with that? You really think
         so?
KATJA.   I think that Richard had much to do with that.
         She sobs miserably. Sarah goes close to her, puts an arm
         around her shoulders that is not rejected
SARAH    Katja, if you say this, you'll destroy everything. My father, your
         father, the project, your family, my family. If you say anything
         when actually saw nothing...
KATJA    I loved Peter Dade! You understand?
SARAH    But you didn't see anything. Peter Dade fell through the ice.
KATYA    Peter drowned! How did he fall through the ice? I think they
         fought…
SARAH    intently,holding katja’s face between her hands
         Peter Dade fell through the ice. We will never know how he fell
         through the ice. Will we? No one saw it
         Pause
         Will we? Never know.
         Katja shakes her head, lets out a wail.
KATJA.   I want to be back in Holland! I want to be away from here. All of
         this!
SARAH    Don't do something that can’t be put right. Understand?
         Katja nods
KATJA.   Are you my friend Sarah? Can I trust you?
SARAH    You've told me.
         She shakes Katja's head gently
         Told me. Now no more.
         Katja nods, cries, digs in a pocket
KATJA.   Look. He gave me this. It is a coin or something. I can't take it.
         Will you put it on his grave. In the earth. Goodbye to Peter.
SARAH    Of course.




                                                                              69
SCENE 10


              The fen. Morning. The thunderous and increasing din of flooding
              water, horses neighing, wild fowl.
              First Warburton then de Vries, Turner, Richard and Sylham run
              to centre stage, followed by the villagers, workmen until all stand
              staring aghast at the source of the noise. General hubbub with
              voices shouting over each other.
WARBURTON What in the name of God is it ? What's happened?
TURNER        Yule Brook dam's gone! Washed everything away. Other graffs
              are bursting.
WARBURTON How do you mean gone? De Vries, how's it gone? How's it
          burst?
TURNER        Not burst. It's been pulled down. The shores are ripped out.
DE VRIES      How, God Verdomme, how?
TURNER        Ropes put round the shores and shire horses, pull two out and
              there's so much pressure...look there's two horses now with
              ropes, still trailing logs.
WARBURTON Can we stop it? De Vries, can we stop it?
SYLHAM        What's happened.
WARBURTON Damn it, look for yourself, man! The banks are collapsing, the
          whole Cut's being washed away. It's these breedling
          bastards...pulled down the dam......
SYLHAM        My horses have gone! Those are my horses!
WARBURTON Didn't you hear anything? Hear them go?
SYLHAM        Nothing.
EZRA          Mr Warburton, Mr Sylham, Clara Hare's trapped in the river!
              Come! Come! Look!
WARBURTON She did this!
SYLHAM        She could talk to horses.
WARBURTON         She can drown.
ECCLESIASTES      The bank's going, she's on a sort of island, it won't last
                  long.... we've got ropes. If'n we go upstream a man might
                  swim down to her and we could pull 'un out.
EZRA              Can't swim. Who can swim?


                                                                               70
WARBURTON       She can drown!
EZRA            Can't do that sir, not to a human being, can't
FELIX           There's more gone. She' just standing there. Delia tried
                shouting but she just smiled. Reckon she's lost her senses.
SYLHAM          We can't just leave her there, a Christian being can't leave
                her there!
WARBURTON       She did this, the Good Lord is playing out the
                consequences…
FELIX           That ain't right, and you knows it. If I was younger I'd swim to
                her.
EZRA            Clara! Can you hear ?
CLARA           offstage
                 I can hear! Can you all hear what Clara done? You there
                John Sylham? Hope so for I thank you for the horses!
SYLHAM          I'll have a try. I can swim.
EZRA            Here's the rope...we'll get other end round that trunk...
FELIX           There's another bit of land gone...just slipped away.
WARBURTON       You're crazy, John. That woman's a witch and will be hung if
                you get her....
                Sylham is busy tying the rope around himself
                I'll make sure of it...
SYLHAM          Can't let her drown.
                Let me out Ezra. I'm coming Clara, with a rope. You catch
                hold of me.
CLARA           Don't you worry John. I waited all my life for you to catch
                hold of me, but you ain't going to make it now, my love! You
                left it a bit late, but I ain't afraid to drown! They shan't clear
                this lot up in ahurry....
            A hubbub of voices, offering advice, shouting…
            Let him out, more rope!                He can't get for'ard of her!
            Pull you beggars, pull!                I am bloody pulling!
            He ain't going to get there            No hope, no hope.
            He'll drown.                       There goes another bit!
            Pull him in ,pull him in!             She's gone!
            Silence.
            Pull him back!    Get him out. You couldn't do anymore Mr
            Sylham!



                                                                                71
FELIX          She's gone.
WARBURTON Get Mr Sylham home! Someone collect those damned horses
          before they drown or kill someone!
TURNER         Get on with that Ezra!
EZRA           Aye aye! Life goes on as usual, don't it!
WARBURTON Swept away. All gone, de Vries. The locks, the dams. The banks
          have gone.
DE VRIES       Woman's gone.
ECCLESIASTES Thought you'd want to know Mr Warburton that Mr Sylham is
           all right sir. Coughing up water but Delia's got him turned arse
           upwards and he's draining nicely...
WARBURTON Thank you.
               Ecclesiastes shrugs and leaves
               To de Vries
                We'll look at this when its full light.
TURNER         Shall I get a party, go down stream, find that woman.
WARBURTON If you like. She'll be under all this or in the sea.
               Sylham appears, coughing and filthy
               Well done John, but what the hell for I don't know. Works ruined.
               Partners are ruined. How did she get your horses?
SYLHAM         Always talked to them when shoeing, followed her like
               lambs..........
WARBURTON Carried a lamp for you...
               He says nothing
               Don't know what to say. Look at all this. Out of mud, back to
               mud.
               Pause
               One body out, one body in. Don't know what to say. You know
               what to say De Vries?
DE VRIES       "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit
               shall return to god who gave it."
WARBURTON Damn it man, I meant the works.
DE VRIES       The ground is so poor, so much peat, it has all gone. You can
               see now what I said. There is no bottom to this damnable fen.
SYLHAM         Who is looking for Clara Hare?
WARBURTON The Lord, John, only the Lord.


                                                                                    72
SYLHAM         That's not good enough! I'll get the troopers......To Villagers
               I want you all searching for Clara Hare. Now!
               General muttering and agreement. The villagers move off.
               Dade and now this. That's an end on it as far as I'm concerned!
               Warburton stares at him long and hard
WARBURTON Then that's an end on it. An end on it Mr de Vries, your Engelske
          Dyckage.
               They move off
               Ezra and Eclesiastes return
EZRA           She knowed what she was doing. Knowed it would bring it down
               on top of her.
ECCLESIASTES You know what it says: 'All the rivers run into the sea; yet the
           sea is not full; unto the place from where the rivers come, thither
           they return again' Made sure of it.
EZRA           Amen. We ain't going to find her, don't reckon she'd want to be
               found.
ECCLESIASTES       Didn't reckon on John Sylham either....
EZRA           That was ever a thing.....
ECCLESIASTES Reckon he knew about the horses....
               Ezra shrugs
EZRA           You reckon Peter Dade fell in?
               Ecclesiastes shrugs




                                                                                 73
SCENE 11
           Warburton's main room. Trunks and boxes stacked on the floor,
           coats etc. Flung over them. The four women sit at the table,
           Cristeen and Katja muffled for travel. Warburton and de Vries
           stand by the door. They are evidently waiting for the coach to
           arrive. Every so often Warburton goes to the door, looks out.
           Light falls first on the four women. There is an air of determined
           optimism in the midst of gloom. Ruth, by her manner and efforts
           is trying to be in charge, the separation of the men means they
           cannot over hear the women.


RUTH       The coach will be here soon. Cristeen nods
            I truly hope you have a comfortable journey. The sea
           crossing...the weather…
           Pause
           It all seems set fair...
           Pause
           It has all been such a great...adventure...having you here. It has
           been a pleasure, truly. But you'll be glad to be back in
           Scheveningen...home.
CRISTEEN   It has all been for you a great disaster. That is the truth.
RUTH       Not at all! What an enterprise! What a great work!
CRISTEEN   I mean, not just the work. This trouble. This boy. (What we hold
           here.
SARAH      We had to tell you.
CRISTEEN   Yes. But then it is best forgotten. Must be. That is what we all
           say ja, it is all over.
RUTH       Yes. Enough damage.
CRISTEEN   And you have learned, my girl, I hope. By my faith in the Lord I
           hope! You have learned how easy it is to make damage.
KATJA      What am I to learn? It is all me is it? What have I done? Niets!
CRISTEEN   You did not do as you were told, for a start. And that boy, that
           boy! And keep your voice down! If your father ever found out,
           ...what would he do? I don't know, but he would do it, and you
           would pay.
KATJA.     Exploding but trying to keep her voice down
           Ho,ho! You blame me! This would never have happened if papa
           was not like he is. Poomf, poomf, poomf, in Scheveningen and


                                                                              74
               what for me? Hide this, hide that, don't let him see, pretend I'm
               not a girl, pretend there are no boys. His lectures! “Hear ye
               children the instructions of a father and attend to know
               understanding” Understand what? Him? Building drains?
CRISTEEN      Quiet! Quiet, quiet, quiet!
KATJA          Niet! Niet, niet, niet! Anyway it is your Richard that is to blame.
SARAH          Katja!
KATJA          I'm sorry. I just want Papa to let me have a life, and when I have
               one it all falls apart.
CRISTEEN       But that boy. A ploughboy, Katja!
KATJA          So where is the University here? Where is he going to
               study...with the ducks and fishes?
RUTH           He was liked by everyone Cristeen. Looked after his mother. Her
               sorrow...
CRISTEEN       And your Richard. What about him?
RUTH           Gone. Off to London, looking for a passage to Virginia.
CRISTEEN.      Oh.
SARAH          Start again. You understand. Cristeen nods, Sarah is insistent)
               Yes? You understand?
CRISTEEN       I'm sorry. For you.
KATJA          And I get to start again? A life. In Scheveningen. That is my part
               of the bargain. Mama?
CRISTEEN       Ja.
SARAH.         Where is that coach!


               To the men in the doorway. Warburton is holding a bottle of
               brandy and is trying to persuade de Vries to have a drink. De
               Vries merely shakes his head.
WARBURTON Come on Jacob! Keep you warm for the journey....where is that
          damned coach?
DE VRIES       No thank you...I really don't...
WARBURTON This is all very awkward...you leaving. I'm sorry, so desperately
          sorry.
DE VRIES       Don't be sorry for me. You have lost the money. To ignorance,
               superstition. A stupid resistance to change. It is just the same
               resistance you see in animals. Like some cow that must always
               go round some tree to get to a gate. There is no reason to it but


                                                                                   75
               you can't stop it. These villagers live in a different world.
WARBURTON You've lost all your work. Eight miles of excavation. That must
          hurt. Will you come back to England?
DE VRIES       How do I know? I'm not wanted here, the drainage is not wanted
               here. I understand you know. In Holland we are winning back
               from the sea what the sea has swallowed. Here we are taking
               away what they already have. Their mud,their fishes and eels
               and geese...that's not the same...at all. Well, perhaps you'll come
               and see my work in Holland?
WARBURTON. I may. Sure you won't have a drink?
DE VRIES       So we stand here and grieve about the works and we forget
               Clara Hare.
WARBURTON How could one damned woman cause so much damage!
DE VRIES       A human life, John. “The dust has returned to the earth, the spirit
               to the god who gave it.”
WARBURTON All that.
DE VRIES       And you nearly lost John Sylham.
WARBURTON Mmm. And she had his horses.
DE VRIES       And this Emms. You have lost your pastor because of these
               works. He was very vastbe'sloten...determined. Yet a man of
               God whatever his beliefs.
WARBURTON I was nursing a heretic! Anyway I'm getting a new pastor.A young
          man.That 'll be good for Sarah.
DE VRIES       And that body. Who was that? And what were his bits and pieces
               of flint and bronze and why so deep in the ground?
               Ah well, I am happy I am just an engineer. Polders and pumps
               and drainage! But what a story when I get back home.
WARBURTON I hear the coach.
DE VRIES.      The coach is here!
               The women stand, gather their smaller possessions.
               So that is that.
               A hand shake
               That is what you do I think. Come on Cristeen
               Katja. We must go.
CRISTEEN       Yes, yes...
               Two men enter, start to carry out the boxes and cases. Katja and
               Sarah stand up. Sarah goes to Katja, puts her arms around her


                                                                                76
        and hugs her
SARAH   This is what we do I think.




                                      77
SCENE 12


           The fen. Grey evening light. A figure carrying a spade is poking
           about, absorbed. It is Emms. Sylham also wanders in, sees
           Emms and goes to him
SYLHAM     What are you doing here?
EMMS       Made me jump!
SYLHAM     I thought you'd be long gone.
EMMS       Came for a last look. At things, for things. Nothing's changed my
           mind. Writing a letter to the Royal Society. What are you doing
           here?
SYLHAM     Thinking. Walking. Like you I suppose.
EMMS       Looking?
SYLHAM     Looking?
EMMS       For Clara.
SYLHAM     She'll never be found. In all this.
EMMS       I wondered, should I say a blessing. We're not alone.
           There's Ezra and Ecclesiastes. Hello there!
           Ezra and Ecclesiastes join them, uncomfortable. Nod to the
           others.
EZRA       Evening, Mr Emms, Mr Sylham.
SYLHAM     Out shooting?
EZRA       Can't see no gun, can you bor?
ECCLESIASTES    Nope.
EZRA       Came to pay our respects Mr Sylham, all right. Just that. Didn’t
           expect to see anyone. Just come to be peaceful with old Clara.
SYLHAM     I’m sorry....
EZRA       Don't you be sorry, Mr Sylham, you done all you could. She
           carried a candle for you.
SYLHAM     Couldn't reach her, Ezra...couldn't!
EZRA       No one could. She weren't intending to be rescued.
ECCLESIASTES    Nope. Gone to join her own.
EZRA       Just came to wish her peace. She'll be found one day. Thousand
           years from now.
ECCLESIASTES    Or more. Like other chap......


                                                                              78
EMMS   I was thinking I should say a blessing....
EZRA   Don't think she'd want it vicar. Don't need blessing. She got
       what she wanted. For herself, all of us. You say thank you, that'll
       be about right.



                           END




                                                                        79

				
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