The Idaho Sting, chapter 2

Okay, this sounds like a whole different book–a technique I haven’t tried before.
Chapter 2.

               Kim could hardly sit in her desk.  The fifth-grade’s annual “Start a Business” assignment and  the new teacher had let them choose their own teams!  None of that careful mixing that Mrs. Snodgrass had done.  Mrs. Bailey had had the class elect five leaders and then had let the leaders take turns picking team members.  That stupid Jeff had every stupid jerk in the class on his team—and Kim had the best and brightest on hers.  All girls, of course.  Girls always ended up doing all the work, so why include any guys?
               Carefully, Kim started writing the notes.  “After school—my place, Kim.”  Anita and Wendy had cell phones, but the teachers took them if they saw them in class.  But paper notes?  Well, this was class business. 

               Kim did text her mother to tell her that Lori, Anita, Wendy and Olivia were coming to the house after school.  Her mother—a landscape architect– was probably off measuring someone’s yard.  Kim was pretty much on her own the first weeks of April—her dad wouldn’t come up for air until all his clients’ taxes were filed April 15, and half the town wanted her mom to help them get started on their yards.  Not that having classmates over was a problem—that was another advantage of having an all-girl team.
               Tonight they would decide on their project.  Once that step was out of the way, they could all get to work.

               “We could babysit,” Anita said, her big brown eyes serious.
               Wendy groaned.  “The last two years the babysitters came in dead last.”
               “Are you sure?  They were always busy,” Anita countered.
               “Yea, my sister’s friend Liz was on last year’s team.  They found out that the year before had started discounts for repeat customers.  They ended up getting nearly nothing after the fourth night’s work.”
               “Well, we won’t give discounts,” Anita suggested.
               “You know, we can’t legally babysit—not until we’re twelve,” said Lori.
               Anita and Kim laughed.  “This is Idaho,” Kim said. 
               “And teams have done it every year,” said Anita.
               Lori laughed too, but added, “But not one with our parents.”
               The girls were quiet then.  They had no doubt their parents had to be the most law-abiding in town.  When you edit the newspaper or run the local hospital or take care of other people’s money, you care about public opinion.
               After a while, Kim said, “Maybe a raffle.”
               “Team three is holding a raffle,” said Lori.
               Everyone nodded.  Lori’s twin brother was on team three.
               Kim brightened, “Yard work.  Mom could let us know who needs stuff planted.”
               “And they’d choose us?” asked Olivia. 
               Silence again.  Kim had tried to run a rototiller; it seemed to have a mind of its own.  She surveyed the girls.  Anita, with the serious eyes and long brown hair, was the smartest kid in the school.  Lori, the tomboy with the pixie cut, would try anything.  Olivia, tall and bony and blond, was practical and funny.  And Wendy, a classic beauty who used makeup already, was the richest girl in town.  How could this group not come up with a killer idea? 
               “We could hold yard sales for people,” said Lori, and all the girls started babbling at once.  Yard sales were something they knew how to do—and something they loved.

The Idaho Sting

This is a comedy.mystery with several fifth graders as characters, but the opening….Well, it is a cop story.  

Chapter 1.

               Even in the dim light, Craig recognized the trio entering the warehouse—tall thin kid, short squat man old enough to be his father,  and the bearded one, all in matching Nitrogen sunglasses.  He and Kip had bought a Springfield 9mm from them not long ago that had no past—never bought, stolen,  or used in a crime.  A gun they could have sold on e-bay or Craig’s list. 

               Well, stranger things had happened.

               Still, Craig hung back, studying the three.  This time the gun was a prize—an assault rifle, an expensive Wilson M-4 with a 100-round clip.  A mounted clip.  Craig reached for Kip, but already his partner was walking forward, a big smile on his face.

               “Wow, that’s something I’d like to own myself.”

               A volley of shots barked harshly as bullets ripped first into the wall and then into Kip. 

               Instinctively, Craig reached out to keep his partner from falling and, then—just as instinctively—held the man up as a shield, feeling the bullets drumming into Kip’s slack body as Craig stumbled his way to shelter behind the counter.

               Then the backup crew entered. 

               In seconds it was over.  The bearded gunman was dead.  His two companions lay face down on the concrete floor. 

               And, behind the counter, Craig helplessly tried to stop the blood seeping from the flesh that moments ago had been his partner.  Somehow knowing that Kip had died in the first seconds, even knowing the man would have willingly died to save Craig’s life, didn’t help.  What kind of coward shields behind his partner? 

               He heard the sirens, shut his eyes, and leaned against the counter.  This would play out as it would play out.  He had to ride it through.  Later, he would think, but not now.              

               They pried Kip’s body from his arms.  Even when aware that he still gripped his partner, Craig was unable to let go; every limb, every muscle, every cell fought to keep the man close.  When the body left, Craig sat back and cried–not manly tearing up, but an unearthly wailing. 

               Craig let them pull him onto his feet, but fought when they pushed him to a gurney.  “I’m not hit,” he said.  “I’m not hit.  I’m not hit.”

               Four men pinned him to the gurney. “It’s not your body we’re worried about,” a voice growled.  “You are F-ing mad.”

               Mad.  Craig chuckled as they strapped him to the gurney.  Mad.  Oh, god, what he wouldn’t give to be completely out of his mind.

One for the Money, Two for the Show

Act III, Scene 5

(During the ball.  In front of the curtain.  LEA runs in, stage left.  Looks around. Bursts into tears. Looks up as though she might speak to the audience.  Cries louder.  MARKUS enters, moves to comfort her, stops short of touching her.)

MARKUS: I can’t blame you for being angry.  I..Stefan and I..have been deceitful and you’ve suffered for it.  I really expected you to return to Ritter House after a few days.  I never imagined you’d spend the summer without shelter and food.  I am so sorry.  (Waits.)

LEA: (Looks at Markus.  Shakes head.) You really don’t understand.

MARKUS: I understand that you have walked for weeks, that you have had to sleep on the ground and beg for food.  I will never forgive myself.

LEA: (Laughs.) You think I cry because of what happened weeks—or even days—ago?  (Stops.  Looks as though she might weep again.)  Markus, I loved being on the road.  I loved seeing people—children and old women, mothers and field laborers and cart drivers—tired and worn and happy.  Happy because we were there.

MARKUS: But you’re very upset.

LEA: Do I get to go wandering next summer—or the summer after that?  No.  In there (points toward the music)–that’s the rest of my life. (Begins weeping again.)

MARKUS: What do you.. 

LEA: Just let me be.

(MARKUS starts to touch LEA, stops, turns and exits stage right.)

LEA: (To audience) So there is no Lanzo.  I’m in love with an actor’s role, a charade, a man who really does not exist.
(STEFAN enters; LEA does not notice.)
  Everyone knew Lanzo.  Everyone loved him.  And he doesn’t exist.

STEFAN: I mourn for Lanzo also.  (LEA stares at him.)  While my brother lived, I was allowed to roam.  I spent longer and longer on the road.  Then I became heir, and it was forbidden.  (Chuckle)  My father will never forgive me for this summer but I had to have a few more weeks of freedom.  (Looks at Lea.)  Lanzo still exists though, Lea.  (Hits chest.) In here.

LEA: You were so happy in the ball.  I saw you, smiling and humming.

STEFAN: (Chuckles.) I was so happy to see Lea being Lea.  I was hoping you’d start singing.
Gunda has captured Ulrich’s heart,
Hey li lee, li lee lo,
(LEA joins in.)
Fitting 21 cows on a cupid’s dart,
Hey li lee, li lee lo.
(BOTH laugh. STEFAN hugs LEA to him.)

STEFAN:  Could you imagine Gunda’s face?  (Releases LEA.)  Responsibility—how I hate it.
   But I have to go back now, you know—go back and behave.

LEA:  (Sighs.)  If you must, you must.

(STEFAN takes LEA’s hand as the curtain opens.  Together they join the dancers at the ball. When the music ends, ALL join hands for a bow.  Lights dim.)

One for the Money, Two for the Show

Act III, Scene 4

(In the ballroom.  MUSICIANS are in the background.  GUESTS mingle and converse.  ELIZABETH and DIANA, KARL and KARL’S MOMMA, ULRICH and GUNDA, MARKUS and STEFAN are all on stage. Jugglers, mimes and others may entertain between conversations.)

(Spotlight on DIANA and ELIZABETH, stage right front.)

DIANA:  Markus sounded as though everything is going to be the same as before Lea left.  The marriage to Lanzo will be anulled and Lea will come back to Ritter House.

ELIZABETH:  Markus cannot expecting everything to be the same—not with Lea and Karina under the same roof.

DIANA:  I wonder if Lea has changed?  I will just die if she’s boring.

ELISABETH: I wonder…a summer of hardships had to change her.

(Spotlight on KARL and KARL’S MOMMA, stage left front.)

KARL’S MOMMA: A boat!  I can’t believe you said “a boat.”  What have I done to deserve a simpleton for a son?

KARL:  But Momma….

KARL’S MOMMA: Maybe it’s all for the better.  I imagine a summer of peasant life has silenced that shrew’s tongue.

KARL: But Momma..

KARL’S MOMMA: Well, she should appreciate you more now. (Straightens Karl’s collar.)

KARL: But, Momma, I don’t like Lea.

KARL’S MOMMA: So?  You like villas and horses and cattle, don’t you? 

KARL:  (Sighs) Yes, Momma.

(Spotlight on Karina, center front.)

KARINA: Why did I ever listen to Markus?  We’ll get Lea married, he said.  She’ll be out of the house by Christmas, he said.  You alone will be mistress of Ritter House, he said.  Well, now all I hear is “Poor Lea, she has been hungry.” “Poor Lea, she has walked for weeks.”  Well, I’m poor Lea’d out!” 

(Spotlight on ULRICH and GUNDA,  left of KARINA at center front.)

GUNDA:  I’ve heard that Lea is coming to the ball.

ULRICH: I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing her.

GUNDA.  Hmph.  I’ve heard that Markus is having her marriage annulled.

ULRICH:  Really?

GUNDA: (Eyes ULRICH carefully)  Strange you didn’t know.  I’ve heard that you and Markus have come to agreement about her dowry. 

ULRICH: Me?  You know I’m devoted to you.

GUNDA: (Takes off a ring and gives it to Ulrich) I’d love to see her rejected once more.

ULRICH:  (Eyes ring, then puts it in a pocket) As good as done, my dear.

(MARKUS and LEA enter stage right.  DIANA and ELISABETH rush to her.)


DIANA:  (Throws arms around LEA)  We’ve missed you so much!

ELISABETH: You’re moving back to Ritter House?

DIANA:  And living with dear, sweet Karina.

ELISABETH: Diana.  Don’t goad her.

LEA:  I’ve missed Karina. 

MARKUS: And Karina’s so relieved to know we’ve found our Lea.

(KARINA approaches, takes MARKUS’s arm and eyes Lea.)

KARINA: As you said, Markus, Lea looks well.

LEA:  Why thank you, Karina.  You look well yourself. 

KARINA:  What do you mean by that? 

LEA: Why, just that marriage seems to agree with you.

KARINA: Well, remember, I am mistress of Ritter House now.

MARKUS: And looking forward to having Lea come to visit.

KARINA:  Yes, visit.  I’d love to help you plan a real wedding, dear.

LEA:  How nice of you, Karina.

DIANA: (To Elisabeth) It’s worse than I feared.

ELISABETH: She did seem to let Karina walk right over her.

(ALL move to center.  KARL approaches.)

KARL:  Lea.  Momma told me to say how glad we are to see you.

LEA:  Why, thank you, Karl.

KARL:  Momma said your hardships have probably tamed your tongue.

LEA:  So kind of her to think of me.

KARL: Momma says that later I have to ask you to dance.

LEA:  I’ll look forward to it.

KARL:  Really?  I’ll tell Momma.  (Returns to stage left)

DIANA: (To Elisabeth) Oh, no!

ELISABETH:  It won’t last.  It just can’t.

(DIANA, ELISABETH and LEA move left toward GUNDA and ULRICH.  KARINA holds MARKUS back and talks to him seriously.)

ULRICH:  Lea, how lovely you look.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you looking more lovely.

LEA:  How nice of you to say so.

ULRICH: It’s nice to have you back.  We’ve missed you.

LEA:  Lovely of you to say so.

ULRICH:  Markus and I will be talking tomorrow.

LEA:  You are interested in marriage then?

ULRICH:  Of course, my dearest.

LEA:  So nice to hear you say that.

ULRICH:  And so lovely to hear you say that.

LEA: So lovely..(Pauses.  Looks at Ulrich. Shrieks.)  I sound like a bit of puffery.  (Points at Ulrich.)  You two-faced, spineless, money-grubbing excuse for a man.  You deserve (points to Gunda) that pompous, pretentious Gorgon.

   (ALL turn to watch.  Some horrified.  Some amused.)

   And, Karl, (hesitates until she sees him) are you ever going to muzzle your mother?  I’d rather scrub every floor in this house than dance with you.

    And, Karina (turns toward her), you silly and insecure and you… deserve my dullard brother.

(ALL gasp.)

STEFAN:  And me, my sweet?

(LEA turns.  STEFAN hums “Greensleeves.”  LEA’s eyes grow big and she runs off stage right.  Lights dim.)

One for the Money, Two for the Show

Act III, Scene 3

(In the kitchen with background music from the ballroom  LEA holds a great pot still while TISH scrubs at it.)

TISH:  (Stands, stretches back.)  I know a spot where we can see everything, Lea.  You have to come—you can’t imagine how marvellously bodies can dress until you’ve seen  ball!  I swear, there is one old lady with more jewelry than most people have fleas.

LEA: I’m just too tired, Tish. 

TISH: Oh, I shouldn’t have kept you helping me.  I’ve been…

LEA: A great help, Tish.  You know that.  And you can tell me all about the ball tomorrow.

TISH:  Oh, that will be fun!  I will tell you every detail!

LEA:  Even what the entertainers look like.

TISH:  The entertainers?  Yeah.  I can do that.  (Wipes hands.  Brushes at skirt.)

LEA:  You have fun now…and leave me to my rest.

(TISH waves and skips off stage left.  LEA pours herself a glass of light ale.)

LEA: (Takes sip.  Sighs) Yes, Tish, I can trust you to tell me all about it—tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come.  Such prattling.  And now silence feels ill on my ears.  All that talk—and not an ill word about anyone.  You’d think all my mistakes were her fault. 
(Peers stage left.)  I wonder where Lanzo is tonight.  I guess I could go back to Ritter Hall—I doubt Markus is so devoted to Karina now that they are wed.  Maybe I wouldn’t have to listen to Barbara Allen more than three or four times a night.  (Drinks deeply.)

MARKUS: (Appears in doorway, stage left, carrying a carpetbag.)  Again, the ball is starting and you’re not ready.

LEA:  (Starts, then recovers)  I’m not going to the ball.

MARKUS:  (Laughs) We’ve had this argument before.

LEA:  You want everyone to laugh at my homespun and my brown skin.

MARKUS:  (Indicates bag)  Oh, I’ve brought some gowns.  And what I want is for you to tell everyone that you’ve had a wonderful time but I’ve begged you to come back to Ritter Hall. 

LEA:  Even Karina?

MARKUS: Karina worries about you just as I do.

LEA:  I bet.

MARKUS: And Ulrich has asked about you.

LEA:  He has? 

MARKUS:  As soon as he heard I was offering twenty-five cows..

LEA:  He and Gunda aren’t married?

MARKUS:  It’s very off again, on again.

LEA:  But he was willing to throw me aside for one cow.

MARKUS: Well, you could let me introduce you to Stefan.

LEA:  (Grins)  I could dance with Stefan.  Wouldn’t that show Lanzo?  (MARKUS stares at her.)  Well, he’s left me here to work in this kitchen.  I don’t even know where he is.

MARKUS: (Laughs) Don’t even think of Lanzo. Just get ready for the ball.

LEA:  You’ll allow me two songs to get dressed in?

MARKUS: Two songs. 

(MARKUS exits.  LEA pulls a gown from the bag and hugs it to her.)

LEA: (Patter song) 
Oh, I’ll return to Ritter House
And laugh with my friends once more.
I’ll return to Ritter House
And leave Lanzo at the door.

Or I could be lady of Blackberry
With servants to do as I say.
I could be lady of Blackberry
And let Lanzo go his way.

Or I could become a duchess,
With a high and jeweled seat
An abundantly wealthy duchess
With minstrels at my feet. 

(Lights dim.)


One for the Money, Two for the Show

Act III, Scene 2

(Kitchen with outside area to the right.  Next morning.  LEA stirs a bowl of flour.  Then dumps spoonfuls of flour on a flat sheet.  Clouds of flour rise.  TISH enters kitchen and watches.  LEA sneezes and the flour spreads.)

LEA:  Oh, drats.  Just when the biscuits were looking good.  (Tries to shape flour back into piles.)

TISH: You have never made biscuits before.

LEA:  Of course, I have.  Haven’t you seen light biscuits before?  These are almost ready for the oven.

TISH:  No.  (Hesitates)  Maybe you forgot something?  Like the milk?

LEA:  Milk?

TISH:  A pitcher of milk.

LEA: That’s what I meant..the biscuits are ready…except for the milk.  Your chatter interrupted me; I usually get it right.

TISH:  Oh, let me get the milk and help you finish up.  (Grabs pitcher.  Pours a little.  Stirs.)  Maybe you can light the oven?

LEA:  The oven?

TISH:  Outside.  Against the pantry wall.

LEA:  I’ll do it. 

(LEA takes a candle and opens door near stage right front where LANZO sits on the ground.  He rises.)

LANZO:  Why this must be the new servant in the house.  The cocky, gypsy-like maiden whose beauty is surpassed only by the skill of her tongue?  A baker who wears flour in her hair to proclaim her trade?

(LEA gives him a hateful look.  Then weeps. Moves to wipe eyes.  LANZO grabs the candle.)

LANZO:  What’s this?  Tears?  Lea cries real tears?

LEA: Why are you so vile?  I’m a terrible baker.  I try but… 

LANZO: (Laughing) Isn’t that the game, Lea?  Catch another when his best isn’t good enough—and tell everyone.  (Lanzo wipes LEA’s face.)  Tell Karina she’s fat and Gunda, she’s old.

LEA:  If the biscuits aren’t right, I won’t get to be the baker, and I don’t get to be the baker I won’t be able to stay here this winter, and if I don’t here this winter, I….

LANZO: You will go back to Ritter House, apologize to Markus, have our marriage annulled, and look again at the dozen young men who would like your hand.  Is that such a bad fate?

LEA: (Stares sullenly) You have no idea. 

(TISH comes out, carrying two sheets of biscuits. Seeing her, LEA takes the candle and follows her off stage rear.)

LANZO:  Tears from Lea’s eyes.  Is it possible she’s learned something?

“Alas, my love it pains me so
To see you weep so pitifully,
But I do rejoice at the thought
That you do have a mortal heart.”

(LANZO moves off stage right while LEA and TISH reappear stage rear.)

TISH: Was that your husband? The man who was… (Looks around).

LEA: No….that was…my brother.  Yes, my brother.

(TISH holds door.  LEA enters kitchen.)

TISH:  He looked familiar.  Must be from around here.

LEA:  Sometimes.  He travels a lot. 

TISH: (Looks around) Well, a little wiping here and there and no one will know what a time we’ve had–you did look funny piling flour on the baking sheets.  I’m sorry, I talk too much.  I won’t mention it again.  (Begins wiping up flour.  Giggles).  My lord, girl, how did you grow up without ever making a biscuit?  (Serious.)  You must have been very hungry at times.

LEA: Tish, you’ve been….

(MARY enters carrying a basket of eggs.)

MARY:  I thought those butter-fingered imps would break every egg before I got them.  (Looks around.) Tish, this place is a mess?  What’s the matter with you?  You’re not here as a guest you know.

LEA:  Ma’am, Tish was….

TISH: I’m sorry, Ma’am  I got so busy talking to Lea while she worked, I plumb forgot.  She was showing me just the right amount of flour and salt and…

MARY: Well, Tish, I’m not worried about you learning to bake.  I’m worrying about you lollygagging around my kitchen. 

TISH: (Wipes at flour, then lifts mixing bowl) Did young master arrive?

MARY:  Yes, he did—not that it’s any concern of yours.   Would you believe, Lea, that this time last year this girl couldn’t tell young master from a common beggar?  That’s how much sense she has.

TISH:  Ma’am, he was all ragged and dusty…

MARY: (Laughing) So you had him drawing water and spltting wood—and then offered him the leavings from supper.

TISH:  Really, he looked like real people, all hot and dusty.

LEA:  It could happen to anyone.

MARY: (Laughing) To anyone without more brains than Tish, that is.  I, for one, can always recognize nobility.

LEA:  Really?

MARY:  (Wipes hands and takes a pitcher of milk)  You’ll be able to also once you’ve been around them as long as I have.

LEA: Yes, Ma’am. 

(LEA and TISH watch MARY depart stage right.)

LEA:  Tish,…

TISH:  I’ve taken so much teasing over that.  When Master Stefan heard, he waited by the well and told me that sometimes he walked months without anyone recognizing him.

LEA:  Young master’s name is Stefan?

TISH:  Oh, yes, you’ll see him tomorrow.  He is so nice.

LEA: I can’t do that, I just can’t.

TISH:  Oh, don’t you be scared Lea.  Noble folk can be awfully nice.  I think not having to work gives them more time to think of nice things to do and say, don’t you think?

LEA: One might think so, but…

TISH: Oh, the biscuits…. (Runs off stage right.)

(LEA follows.  Lights dim.)

One for the Money, Two for the Show

Act III, Scene 1

(In the kitchen.  Early evening.  TISH scrubs a counter. MARY and LEA enter stage right.

MARY:  I’m glad Hector said you could stay. With this banquet coming up—well, I should have a score of helpers not just you and Tish.
(Motions to Tish)  Tish, come meet our new baker.  What was your name, dear?  LeAnn?  Linza? 

LEA: Tis Lea, Ma’am. 

MARY:  Yes, yes, Lea. 

TISH:  She’s going to be the new baker?  I think I’m a mite stronger, Ma’am—and I get awfully tired of scrubbing pots.  My folks would be so proud if…

MARY:  But, Tish, you are such a good scullery maid!  We couldn’t hold the kitchen together without you.  (Side glance to Lea.)

TISH:  (Sigh) I guess you’re right, Ma’am.  Being a scullery maid is pretty important work—and that one is hardly strong enough to lift a pot.

MARY:  Call her Lea, Tish.  And you may have her help you wash the vegetables before you show her around.

TISH:  Yes, Ma’am.

(As MARY speaks and departs, LEA watches as TISH gets a bucket of water, pours water in basin, puts potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. on the counter.  LEA hands vegetables one by one to TISH; TISH scrubs.)

MARY:  I just wish we’d get some word from Young Master—he’s never stayed away this long.  Sir George is so nervous he’s driving me crazy.  And the ball is just two days away.  (Exits, stage right.)

TISH: (Indicates a counter to the right) That dough is done with first rising and ready to be put into the pans and placed on the warming shelves. 

LEA: (Heaps all dough into one pan).  Are you sure this is bread?  It’s so heavy.  Where do I take it?

TISH: Oh, no!  The dough can’t all go into one pan!  Split it between the four.  (LEA stares.  TISH divides dough.)

LEA: But the pans aren’t half full.  What kind of bread will that be?

TISH:  (Giggling) You’re joshing with me, aren’t you?  I know I’m not too bright.  Mother’s told me plenty of times—and Mary twice that.  (Picks up all four pans.)
The warming shelf is on the back side of this oven..(Disappears behind barrior.

LEA: I pray Tish doesn’t get bright enough to see she’s doing my work. 

TISH: (Reappears.  Starts cutting vegetables.)  Have you ever seen rich folk, Lea?  Up close, I mean.   We’re going to have a real ball!  Folks’ll start arriving tomorrow.  I know a place where we can peek down and not be seen.  You’ll laugh at how those fancy folk act. And the jewels—you wouldn’t believe the jewels.  Why…

LEA: I’ve seen fancy folk oft enough.

TISH: Really?  Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have just one dress like that?  Such colors.  And rings—one lady has a ring for every finger.

LEA: (Aside.) So Markus will be here tomorrow.  And Ulrich…and Gunda.  I would rather face winter snows than have them see me now.
And where’s Lanzo.  Did he know about this?  I vow he’s somewhere laughing at me. That, that….rotten excuse for a human being.

(Lights dim.)


One for the Money, Two for the Show

Act II, Scene 4

(A village harvest festival.  Early afternoon.  VILLAGERS sell trinkets, haggle over prices, arm wrestle, wager.  Children stop to watch the men. MARY is at a booth stage right. LANZO and LEA enter stage left.  LANZO strums his guitar; LEA stops to look over the trinkets.  LANZO continues walking to center stage.)

LANZO:  Why did I listen to Markus?  She’s too spoiled, he said. Show her how tough life can be.  That will silence her tongue. Ha.  Anything but.
I wanted to bring song and laughter into her life.  Well, that I did.  She can now insult not only her noble friends but all husbands, wives, rich people, minstrels, priests, paupers, mothers, idlers, weavers , bakers, and others—and sing it out so the whole world can hear. 
And the sharper her tongue gets, the more the villagers love her. 
(Rubs head.  Looks out.)  Markus, will you ever forgive me?

(LEA finishes haggling and walks to LANZO.)

LEA:  That ridiculous reptile!  Ten pence for a shawl—and the weaving loose. 
I put a curse on him.  His beard will fall out in three days. 
I’ve had enough of this town.

LANZO: Well, I think I’ll put up for the winter here.

LEA:  (Looks around) Here?  Let’s find someplace with friendlier villagers.

LANZO:  Those villagers love you when the nights are warm and the food plentiful, but when the winds howl?  Not even you will lure them outdoors.
I will find work as a stable hand and you—better we send you back to Ritter Hall.

LEA:  Ritter Hall?  (Laughs.)  Yeah.  So I can spend weeks watching Markus fawn over Karina.  I would rather fare in a hollow log. 

LANZO: (Thinks) Well, if you were good with words…

LEA:  If I were good with words? Are your ears carved of wood, man?

LANZO:  You have a talent at insults—but this would take adeptness of an entirely different sort.

LEA:  Oh?

LANZO:  See that woman?  (Points right toward MARY.)

LEA:  The big-bellied beldam?

LANZO: (Shakes head) No, I knew you couldn’t do it.

LEA:  Do what?

LANZO: Get that portly matron to add you to her kitchen crew.

LEA:  (Looks Head Cook up ad down) The food is good?

LANZO:  (Nods) And you’ll have straw mat all to yourself.  But you could never do it.

LEA:  You have little faith.  Watch. (Runs to MARY)  Oh, Ma’m, Ma’m, the most terrible thing has happened.  I don’t know what to do.  You must help me.

MARY:  Oh, my dear, you have partied too much.  Get along home.

LEA: Oh, Ma’m, if only I could.  That horrid man—he tried to kill my husband (cries into hands)…heaven only knows what he woud do if he caught me.

MARY: (Sympathetic) You poor child.  You must go to your folks.

LEA:  They live far to the north…and I am tired…and so hungry.

MARY: Come with me.  I will see you get a meal.

LEA:  But I couldn’t accept a handout, Ma’am.  Just give me directions to the nearest estate that could use services such as an humble maiden like myself might perform.

MARY:  Well, perhaps.  Do you bake?

LEA:  I vow you’ve never tasted muffins like the ones I can make.

MARY:  Well, follow me, I do need a good baker.

(MARY turns.  LEA follows.)

LEA: (Turns to look at LANZO) And you doubted my skill with words.

(MARY AND LEA exit stage right.  Lights dim.  Spotlight on LANZO.)

LANZO:  I think it’s safe to say that no one has ever tasted muffins Lea has made.  Poor Mary.  I swear her soft heart has gotten her more than she ever bargained for. Now to get a message to Markus—and admit I’m a failure at taming the shrew.
(Stares in direction that Lea has gone)  Such a spirit that one has.  A man could love her—tongue and all.
(Strums guitar).

“Thou couldst desire no early thing
But I would bring it readily,
With music still to play and sing;
If though couldst only love me. 

“Greensleeves was all my joy,
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady Greensleeves.”

Tis over—and time to face my father.

(DEPARTS left.  Spot dims.)