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?
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.
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.)
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.)