A One Act Play
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2003
pictures from reading
of Kintry Matters at the Her-Rah! event at the Cambridge Public
Library, Central Square, November 2003, sponsored by ICWP,
the International Centre for Women Playwrights.
Anthony Hammond, a Younger Son at school at Cambridge
Kintry, Hammond's manservant, a very young gentleman's
Doctor Blakenley, Hammond's tutor, who has a crippled foot
and walks with the help of a cane.
Betty, a buxom young tavern wench.
Anthony Hammond's student chambers at Cambridge, circa 1697.
Kintry, Hammond's very young valet, lounges with feet up reading
one of Hammond's books. There is the noise of cart and drover
from the street below, and distinctive footsteps as Doctor Blakenley
comes slowly up the stairs using his cane/walking stick. By the
time Blakenley is at the door, Kintry has stood up to look like
a proper servant, but still has the book in hand, half hidden.
Bestir yourself, sirrah. Your master has a trunk below.
Give the porter a hand down there, boy.
KINTRY (Puts book aside)
HAMMOND (On the stairs)
I sent your-- Kintry-- to assist with your trunk.
Alas, sir! My Kintry has neither the sinews nor the bottom to
serve for a labourer.
If that be so, I see little in the lad to prefer him to your service,
A mere babe, Master Doctor Blakenley! But Kintry was bred to m'
service, being our butler's nephew, and my playfellow when I was
in leading strings. Loyalty, sir. Loyalty.
Loyalty is the very pinnacle of service, and, as in all matters
of honor, loyalty that comes by inheritance betters loyalty got
by purchase. Old family retainers may indeed presume upon a degree
of familiarity. E'en so, best keep the lad from your books, Mister
Hammond. Philosophy, which is nectar to the noble, oft proves
a bitter poison to the lowly.
Nor are the speculations of philosophy fit for the very highest
neither, eh, Doctor? Was not that the theme of your lecture Wednesday
Needs must: fancy may. For a valet--
(Enter KINTRY , struggling with the front end of a huge heavy
A willing lad, and one that loves me well. Do you not, boy?
As you say, sir.
HAMMOND (offering money from his purse)
Pay the porter, lad.
Sir. (takes money, climbs over trunk to exit)
The lad's apt, but besides being a poor substitute for Hercules,
he lacks craft-- especially upon the finer points of fashion.
Did you take note of the set of his collar? His wig?
Were I a courtier, now, I'd send the lad back to the country.
But as I am a student, I'd as leif employ Kintry to read philosophy,
and trust to myself for strength and taste.
To read philosophy?
Aye, sir. Whiles I exercise, or feast my eyes on the beauties
hereabout. A melodious voice, a sweet breath, endless patience--
by labour that is a pleasure to us both, Kintry sows Aristotle
within this stubborn brain.
This is your method of study?
An excellent one, don't you agree?
Madness, more like. But if indeed it serves ye--- as it seems
it may, your comprehension being bettered, this term--
(KINTRY has returned and is at the door)
Hear that, Kintry? We mend!
Tis well, sir.
Never fret, Master Doctor Blakenley. I will do you both proud
If you be not sent down.
If he who must send me down be of your mind, Master Doctor, I
trust I may enjoy youth's liberty to the very end of the leash.
For what says our philosopher Plato, Kintry?
"Let education in youth be a kind of amusement."
"There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said
it." Attribution, Master Hammond?
Some scurvy Roman, no doubt. My notes, Kintry?
Better than a hound at scent, Kintry! Cicero it is.
Aristotle may wink at youth, but such as I do so at our peril.
Pray do not offend my eyes, Mister Hammond. I will stand your
friend if I may.
I am am determined, sir. I 'll not be put down, nor set down,
nor sent down, neither.
With that assurance I'll take my leave. (exit)
Too close to the wind with cleverness, Anthony.
Not I. Our Master Doctor dotes on wit. His idols are the licentious
pens of the stage, and he would rather sound like a page out of
Wyncherly extempore than be dean of St. Paul's. Blakenley loves
me that I oblige him in this, and I talk like a rake in a play
to please him.
'Tis dangerous, and some besides yourself have more than time
Take heart, and make witty dialogue your study, child. Could you
but get the trick of it, like Aphra Behn you might earn your bread
with your pen more easily than with your person.
I must do somewhat, some day.
This bearing of burdens is too heavy for thee?
A scholar's servant looks for no burdens beyond the customary.
That's true. But you have a master beyond all custom. 'Tis on
his unaccustomed amplitude that thy employment rests.
When it rests at all. What is this "amplitude" that I am at such
pains to deliver? Even to the rumpling of your livery. (indicates
Tis thy livery.
I wear it, yet it is not mine.
'Tis accounted yours.
Fortunately so--Lest you be called to account.
I fear nothing. I am Cupid's favorite, all the world winks.
KINTRY (getting trunk key)
Shall I open this?
HAMMOND (snatching key away)
More matter to be winked at?
Ripe fruit from the country, youngling. Plump and juicy. Far better
than the buttery.
Generous master: a share for me?
Do I not keep you well?
When we keep company. But if you think the scholars' table poor,
you would shudder to see what passes for eatables below stairs.
HAMMOND (indicates trunk)
The treat may not be to your taste--
Like master, like man.
HAMMOND (giving KINTRY his purse)
Off, then, to Old Perkins, and fetch me 3 bottles of the best.
I promise you'll have a share as full as if I were your servant.
(KINTRY turns to go) But be sure it's Perkins' best, from
across town, and not that rascal Farwaine's. (KINTRY turns
to go) And fetch me those bottles well hid, as 'twere, and
come back the long way round. (KINTRY turns, pauses, looks
puzzled) I have some private revels to prepare. 'Tis best
none of my fellow students pick up the scent of mischief and track
thee back to our lair.
I thought I saw Andrews lurking about.
Well, Andrews... But beware of Buckhurst and Downes, and especially
Master Doctor Blakenley. Keep a wary eye.
I will, Anthony, believe me. (exits)
HAMMOND (calling after)
No haste, but If you value my favor, take care.
(Hammond dampens a cloth with liquid, opens the trunk.)
Now, my sleeping beauty. Art alive?
(lifts BETTY, the unconscious wench within, to a sitting position,
waves the cloth under her nose.)
Art--ah! Betty! Open those bonny blue eyes.
BETTY (coming to consciousness)
Oh. O, Sir? What place is this?
My rooms, child. As I foretold.
And how have you transported me?
Did I not promise?
Even in this trunk.
No wonder I feel seasick!
Sit up, now, and I'll give you some brandy. (gets brandy)
You never told me I'd be seasick, or have an aching head.
You won't, sweeting. Drink it down.
Drink that to clear your head, then I'll give you something nice.
We must get to our business quickly, though. "The bawdy hand of
the dial is upon the prick of noon"
Gold, you said.
Look in your pocket, wench.
With as much again, after?
As I promised. (Chimes) The clock strikes noon: we must
be about it.
And after "it"-- you'll see that I get safe home?
On my honor as a gentleman.
I don't trust no gentleman's honor. Leastways not when it comes
to girls like me. But I'll do what you want, for the sake of your
face. You've a marvelous sweet face. (Bells in the distance
start to ring)
HAMMOND (turns up BETTY's skirts and mounts her, squished
awkwardly in trunk)
No more than you do, sweeting.
O, we're a pretty pair, we are!
We fit like Jack and Jill-- now, though I wish I had the time
to please you--
But it hurts!
Not you. A poxy splinter. There.
We must be quiet, though. No woman's voice must ever be heard
in these chaste precincts, nor woman's body profane these holy
Our secret, our satisfaction. Damn the dried up old farts who
contrive such rules.
Oh, sir-- (light footsteps hurrying up the stairs)
KINTRY (from outside, breathless)
I can't help it, I'm--
KINTRY (still outside)
I saw Andrews in the quad, arguing with--(entering with bottles,
What the devil are you doing?
KINTRY (pulling them apart and pummeling BETTY)
Get off! Get up! Out! Out, you slut! (in the struggle Kintry's
feminity is revealed)
Yeow! Is this any way to treat a girl what--
Hush! Both of you. Whisper. Keep it down.
Why can't you keep it down?
I want what I come for.
The gentleman's all through, that's the end of it. Out!
Not without me promised money!
KINTRY (tossing HAMMOND's purse to BETTY)
Such a hero! A figure of romance!
It don't mean anything, Susanna-- she's a wager, is all!
And you're a lying cheating whore monger, is all!
I, a liar? Fine talk from one whose every word, every gesture,
is part of a masquerade-
I'm an actress, it's my profession!
One of your professions.
You promised to see me safe home. With three guineas.
You see what a gentleman's promises are worth.
The guineas aren't mine! I was to win them. Andrews is to appear
at noon, and testify that I've smuggled in a wench--
Noon's past, and Andrews is with Blakenley. That's what I--
Andrews gave his word he'd witness it done.
We done it. Let her be witness.
She's my manservant! Only a gentleman can attest--
I give up the position.
Wait! I hear Andrews on the stair. Come, Betty, we must--
That's not Andrews's step, you fool. It's Blakenley.
Betty! Into the trunk.
Not without me money.
Or I'll be ruined.
A loss beyond virginity or gold--
You've won the wager. What you undertook to do with the trollop
you've done with me an hundred times--
Beyond embarrassed. Distressed. M'father-- (knock on door)
BLAKENLEY (from outside)
Hammond? Anthony, my boy?
One moment, Master Doctor...
(in sign language, HAMMOND offers BETTY items of value--
coins, stickpin, snuff box, etc. until he persuades the wench
to hide in the trunk, then signals KINTRY to unlock the door)
BLAKENLEY (from outside)
Take your time, my boy. I am here on a preposterous errand, dispatched
by a fool who imagines he heard a woman in your rooms. I told
Andrews that such a thing is not merely impossible. It is inconceivable.
The product of a deranged imagination. Your ancient name, your
position, the old and honorable link between this college and
your father's house-- to say nothing of my own reputation-- all
these points to offer assurance that what never has happened never
(the door unlocked, BLAKENLEY enters, looking closely now at
KINTRY, who although she has tidied herself has somehow suddenly
become unconvincing in her male disguise. Perhaps she folds her
arms across her chest, or blushes)
--- except in the overheated imagination of a-- schoolboy. The
quality set the standards, my Lord your father is quality. Isn't
that so, uh-- Kintry?
As you say, sir.
I will report that I investigated this preposterous allegation
and found nothing amiss. As I say, the converse is unthinkable.
Only in a lewd farce upon the public stage could such a circumstance
occur. Gentility, to say nothing of piety and prudence, forbids
the very thought.
A most rarified and philosophical conclusion.
And one that does you credit, Master Doctor. (KINTRY signals
for more apology) I am indebted to you for it, sir. (KINTRY
urges more) Deeply indebted.
I rather think you are. However, if you would condescend to take
the advice of a humble acolyte at the service both of alma mater
and of pater tuam, I suggest that it would be best for everyone--
for me as well as for you and your -- man-- and your-- trunk--
and your--baggage-- to set forth from these hallowed halls posthaste.
Take a bit of a respite.
A repairing lease, in the country.
Rather, out of the country.
Go abroad, sir?
Beyond the reach of rumor.
As serious as all that?
The consequences of an inquiry--
Italy has some famous sights--
The Grand Tour with a tutor is considered to equal a term at university--
well, perhaps not a Cambridge, but a term at Oxford, at the least.
We continue our education under sunnier skies, Kintry.
Not I, sir.
But child! Are we not playfellows, and inseparable?
I fear me the education on offer in Italy is unsuitable to one
of my --inferior-- nature.
Almost as unsuitable as unstrained philosophy, poured into a weak
Then we must part?
Come, sir. I believe I can recommend to you a tutor to serve your
turn, a gentleman who will be both acceptable to my Lord your
father and tolerable to yourself. (to door) Come along,
Hammond. We must put this business to a present dispatch.
KINTRY (as they Exeunt)
But sir: what of your trunk?
HAMMOND (Turning back)
See to it, child. And your own things, too. (Exits. KINTRY
opens the trunk)
BETTY (getting out)
What shall we do?
I will contrive to have you carried away, with myself as careful
escort. You must give me up those baubles, and Anthony's purse--
Nay! 'Tis mine!
Much good will they do you, clapped up in jail to be hanged or
transported! Consider, child. If you try to sell such costly baubles
you will be taken up, sure. Is the young gentleman like to testify
that he gave them to thee? For what service, say? His pawnbroker
knows me as Hammond's valet. I have often brought his shop such
things, to secure a loan till quarter day. If Anthony can appeal
to his father for his redemption, he will not grudge us these--
nor some few other kickshaws I shall add to our store. 'Tis just
wages, given our service and silence. Once we have lined our pockets,
you may return from whence you came, or come trot along with me.
I am for Bath, where I shall prefer myself to the manager of the
Theatre Royal as the age's foremost actress of breeches' parts.
Say: Who is't may rival me in the practice?
Sure, there's none that I ever heard of.
Aye, but the more successful, the less like to be known. The wonder
is not that a woman wears breeches, but that she can ever be pursuaded
to give em up.
I'd ne'r trade my petticoats for a farmer's gear. 'Tis the gentleman's
silk that appeals, not the cut of it.
Never mistake me, friends!
Tis not his waistcoat, boots, or e'en fat purse
That tempt a maid to go from naught to worse.
Tis wit and love and freedom fill her heart,
And bid her leap to play the breeches part!