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The Dilemma


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The Dilemma
A Play
By Brittany Singler
Cast Of Characters
MARILDA
She is a nineteen year old girl who is full of life; a spirited thing that loves to spend hours riding the plains of Scotland and finding adventure. Seeing the ways of marriage all her life, she refuses to be married and have her spirit controlled by a man.
VANE
He is a young, conceited, arrogant Englishman that visits Scotland on a business trip. When he wants something, he will do anything to get it, for he will do whatever it takes to further his own ambition, status, and wealth.
PETUNIA
She is Marilda’s fretful and boisterous mother; a round, short woman who is incapable of minding her own business. She will do anything to see her children married off and settled.
ANNABELLE

She is Marilda’s older sister who is married to a hardworking man. She is kind and considerate, often holding her tongue in check in her mother’s company. She will help her sister to avoid a loveless marriage to the best of her ability.
JONATHAN
He is a young pastor who seems quite cold and collected at first. Once he is familiar, he is very spirited and warm; his favorite pastime is to ride and break horses.
GREGORY
This man, Marilda’s father, often goes by Greg. He is a stout man who works hard to keep their farm from falling and going into debt. He wants nothing more than to marry his girls off to get some money.
TIME AND PLACE
It takes place in the plains of Scotland in a remote village in the mid 1800’s.

SCENE 1
(Lights come on in a house of small quarters made of stone and wood. It is a shanty home, but kept up and clean)

PETUNIA
(Enter Petunia. Angrily throws towel on counter, hands on hips, stares out window)

"That girl, oh that girl. Never changes! Never has!"
(Sets jaw and paces, then returns to spot)
"She was always the most rambunctious, sweetest little girl there eva was. Full of passion and spirit, she was....and is! She hasn't given up those childish ways yet! Oh,"
(Chews lip)
ANNABELLE
(Enter Annabelle, carrying bucket of water)
"Mum, talking to yourself again? What's the matta?"
(Places bucket down)
PETUNIA
"That Marilda! Oh, your sister is too free...she...she needs to grow up and learn responsibility!"
ANNABELLE
"Oh? She doesn't milk the cows, round up the livestock when needed, go to market for you, or clean the house?"
PETUNIA
"That's not the kind of responsibility I mean. Every child must do that, of course." (Haughtily) "She needs to leave her childish and whimsical ways behind and enter into adulthood. She will be an old maid soon!"
ANNABELLE
"Eighteen is hardly an old maid, mum. Look at me, I'm 23, that's more of an old maid."
PETUNIA
"Certainly not, you're married! In my eyes you are set with life. She...she dishonors us by not being married, oh," (Bites nails) "I certainly am worried. Your father will have both our hides soon if we don't find a suitor!"
MARILDA
"What about all the men that have come calling before?"
PETUNIA
"Oh, she begged to get out of those, or she spat fire at them with her firey temperament! If that didn't scare them off, I don't know what did!"
ANNABELLE
"Well, I'm surprised you didn't force her...." (Mumbles) "Like with me...."
PETUNIA
"What was that, dear?"
ANNABELLE
"Nothing mum. I'll go find her."
PETUNIA
"No need, she's out there ridin that horse Wind 'cross the plains. Girl is hopeless! Oh, I just worry about her future."
ANNABELLE exits
(mumbling)
"Do you really? Or are you so blind to your own desires you can't see marriage isn't always what's best?"
END SCENE 1.
(Outside Marilda is leading horse to corral. The hills are green, lush and dewy from the rain. The hills are misty with sheep and livestock dotted along the plains. A slight fence blocks off their land from the rest of the surrounding hills.)
ANNABELLE
"Marilda! Have a nice ride?"
MARILDA
(Smiles cheerfully.)
"Annabelle! Of course, Indeed I did. Don't you just love Wind, the young chap?"
(Pats horse and puts her in stall. Grabs curry brush.)
ANNABELLE
(Clasps hands hastily, then walks toward Marilda)
"Indeed...yes. Listen, let's go to market and get some things for mum."
MARILDA
"Oh? How kind of you to join me with that chore. Where's husband off to? I'm surprised you're not at home cleaning house while he's off at work."
ANNABELLE.
“Yes, well, I wanted to visit. Spend some time with my family. That a crime?”
MARILDA
“Nonsense! I wish you always lived here, Ann. I miss you dearly; same with Patricia, though she’s gone to Ireland with that husband. I do wish she would return soon…”
(Dismally, brushes horse slowly)
MARILDA
“I know, dear…” (Vaguely, distantly, sadly; then comes around) “Not to worry, she’ll visit in the Spring, I think. Let’s be off now, can’t keep mum waitin’.”
(Exit together off to town, nearing the path to small village)
ANNABELLE
“Listen, Marilda, this is important, you hear?”
MARILDA
“Oh! Look at the beautiful horse, Sunshine. She’s Mr. Hubert’s horse. Lovely she is!”
ANNABELLE
(Touches her arm)
“Listen, no time for distractions! Mum and pa are planning very seriously on you getting married soon!”
MARILDA
“Wait, you…what…”
(Trails off, looking blankly ahead, eyes wide)
ANNABELLE
“You heard me. I don’t want it to happen anymore than you do,”
( Says more quietly)
MARILDA
(Looks at her, puzzled)
“Truly?”
ANNABELLE
“Yes…I, well I know the fate of a loveless marriage, sis, and It’s not a pretty one. I can’t let the same happen to you.”
MARILDA
(Eyes large in fear, clutching sister’s arm)
“Oh, I…”
ANNABELLE
“We have to figure something out-we will. I don’t know who they have in mind, but…I know that look in mum’s eyes and that set in her persona. It’s already finished in her mind. She just needs to find the right man.”
MARILDA
(Silent)
ANNABELLE
“She thinks it’s best for you, she does, but I think she just chooses not to see the truth, because she knows the harm that’s in it for you.”
MARILDA
(Suddenly in desperation, whirling to face sister)
” Oh, what will we do?!”
ANNABELLE
“Something….something…”
(They walk on, closer to town. People are bustling around)
ANNABELLE
(Spies a tall man overlooking the sea, cloak billowing)

“Oh, you see that?”
MARILDA
“What?”
ANNABELLE
“The pastor. Mr. Wilbur I believe. Such a calm, stately matter he has, doncha think?”
MARILDA
“Sure, sure.”
ANNABELLE
“You know, if you ever were to be married, what kind of personality would he have?”
MARILDA
“I NEVER will be married!”
ANNABELLE
“IF you were, humor me. What kind?”

MARILDA
“Well, a free spirit, just like mine, I suppose.” (pauses) “Yes, yes he would have to be wild and carefree, able to ride and ride the plains!”
ANNABELLE
“Exactly like you.”
MARILDA
“W-yes!”
ANNABELLE
“You know, opposites balance each otha out.”
MARILDA
“What do you mean?”
ANNABELLE
“I mean opposite personalities, opposite people, can attract sometimes. More often than not, it works, I think.”
MARILDA
“Oh no, it would never do if I were with a boring, strict, or unbending man.”
ANNABELLE
“Did I say he must be those antagonistic qualities? I simply said opposite; that doesn’t mean negative, sis.”
(Marilda grunts, veering toward bakery. Annabelle casts a glance at the tall pastor with slicked back hair staring into the sea, looking thoughtful.)
END SCENE 2
(In town villagers are gathered around a ring, and a commotion is heard all through the square. Dust is kicked up from prancing feet. Horses gallop around and around for the audience to see and bid on. Englishman leans on post and stares at his favorite horse as it is being bid on.)
VANE
“Ninety pounds for the young stallion.”
PERSON
“100!”
VANE
“200 and sold. If you say 300, I will go 400, and if you go to 600, I will bid 1,000 and so forth.”
PERSON
(Silent)
AUCTIONEER
“Going once, going twice….sold! To the Englishman for 200 pounds!”
(Vane smugly takes the horse by the reigns being walked out and waits to pay the owner. A chubby man walks up, hand extended.)
Enter GREGORY
“That’s my horse Wind; playful, young thing. Thank you so much sir, for your bid.”
VANE
“Yes, of course. I hope my money will do you well.”
GREG
“Oh, yes it will, sir.”
(Vane smiles condescendingly. Pays the man, starts to lead horse away.)
GREG
“Wait a second, sir, please. I beg you to come have dinner with my family in honor of buying our horse and providing for us.”
VANE
“Oh, no, that will not be necessary.”
GREG
“Oh, but I insist! Come now, lad, let us have dinner together. I can show you my farm and the other horses I have, if you so wish.”
(Claps Vane on the back and they start off together, Vane looking less than pleased.)
END SCENE 3
(Lights come on in kitchen of the house from Scene 1)
PETUNIA
(Furiously wipes hands on apron, then grabs towel to wipe down counter; throws it back)
“Thank you sir, for staying for supper! Gregory, show him the other horses.”
GREG
“My wife can be a hasty one, lad. But come, let me show you.” (Leads Vane outside)
(They survey the wide open green field where his horses and other livestock graze. Vane looks on curiously at the horses)
VANE
“Fine specimens, who broke them?”
GREG
“That would be me sir, and some o’ them were before I bought ‘em.”
VANE
“I see; I break horses myself.”
GREG
“Do you, now?!”
(Vane suddenly stares at the plains, captivated by a girl riding a horse wild through the valley, hair spilling behind her. She rides the horse up close, then descends)
GREG
(Hollers)
“Lass, Marilda, this is our guest come to stay for dinner!”
MARILDA
“Hello pa.” (Directs gaze to Vane. Stares curiously but cautiously, and says not a word. Leads horse into corral)
VANE
“That is your daughter?”
GREG
“She is, the spirited young thing,” (laughs) “She is lovely, isn’t she?”
(Eyes Vane.)
VANE
(Gaze zoned off)
“…yes, quite.”
GREG
(Glances at Vane sidelong)
“Still lives at home, she does.”
VANE
“She is unmarried? Nor betrothed?”
GREG
“Didn’ say she wasn’ spoken for.”
VANE
(Surprised, looks at Gregory)
“Indeed? She has a potential suitor?”
GREG
(Shrugs)
VANE
“I would triple his proposed bride price, and cut his asking dowry in half.”
GREG
(Stunned; eyes large, stares at Vane)
“Would you now?”
VANE
“I meant every word.”
GREG
(Containing excitement.)
“Let’s discuss this after dinner. Marilda will be joining us, of course, as well as her sister Annabelle; who’s already married.”
END SCENE 4
(Marilda is in town, buying groceries at local market. Villagers bustle to and fro, and a quiet murmur of voices accompanies the streets and shops.)
MARILDA
(Enters market, wipes quickly at eyes to hide tears)
“H-How could he sell Wind…” (Murmurs to self) “He sold it to that rich man from England. How could he do this to me?!” (Slams hand on shelf, causing several to look up, startled.)
Enter JONATHAN
(Enters market, and scans shelves next to Marilda)
MARILDA
(Glances at pastor)
“Hello Pastor Wilbur.”
JONATHAN
“Hello there, Miss Harking.”
MARILDA
“You took Mr. Volt’s spot as the pastor, is that right? Whatever happened to him?”
JONATHAN
(Somewhat stiffly)
“Personal matter, he transferred to a nearby village that is a work in progress.”
MARILDA
“Guess it’s kinda nice to know all the villagers, instead of living in a too crowded place. Didn’t you come from somewhere like that; a big town?”
JONATHAN
(Picks out jar)
“Indeed, from Dublin in Ireland.”
MARILDA
“Must be exciting; you liking it here much? Must be nice to be friendly with everyone, is it not?”
JONATHAN
(Browsing)
“Yes. The Lord wills for a pastor to know his flock.”
MARILDA
“Well great, I am sure everyone is happy to have you here. The other pastor, well, he was kind of old and…well I shouldn’t say, that would be sacrilege. And, you’re a pastor yourself.”
(Shuts up, blushes in embarrassment.)
JONATHAN
“Ah, I see. Well I must be off, nice to make your acquaintance, Miss Harking’s daughter…”
MARILDA
“Marilda.”
JONATHAN
“Yes. Thank you. Goodbye.”
(Leaves to buy goods)
MARILDA
(Stares at him through slats in shelves)
“For a pastor he sure is…distant, a little unfriendly. Hmph.”
END SCENE 5
(Lights reveal the family farmstead, where Marilda is walking up to now)
GREG
“There’s that daughter of mine!” (to himself) “She’ll be mad at me for days for selling that horse of hers.”
VANE
“Indeed, there she is. I will be just a moment, sir.”
(Walks out of gate, toward Marilda)
GREG
(Rubs hands together)
VANE
“How do you do, Miss Marilda?”
MARILDA
(Quickly glances at him then away)
“Fine.”
VANE
“Excellent. I bought your family’s fine horse. Air, I think it’s name was. Quite a lovely thing.”
MARILDA
(Clenches hand into fist)
“Wind. Her name was Wind.”
VANE
“IS Wind. Were you quite fond of her?”
MARILDA
“Yes…more than you know, sir.”
VANE
“Well, you may see her yet.”
MARILDA
(Stops, faces him, basket of groceries in one hand)
“Whatever do you mean, sir? You…you’re giving her back to me-us?”
VANE
“Not quite, but…she can be yours.”
MARILDA
(Steps toward him hopefully)
“Oh, what do you mean?!”
VANE
“I…would like your hand in marriage, my fair girl. Breeze- I mean Wind, would be yours, of course, or ours.” (Tugs on collar) “If you will accept me, I will make you quite happy in England.”
MARILDA
(Freezes in spot, a look of horror creeps on her face)
VANE
“I have already talked to your father. He accepted my proposal. You will be quite refined and in good hands in England, I assure you.”
MARILDA
(Mouth open, but no sound comes out)
VANE
“I am sure you will like English society. It is quite different, but in a far better way.”
MARILDA
(Gasps for breath)
“You…y-you…”
VANE
(Clears throat, leans against house)
“No need for over excitement, lovely creature. No need to be frightened. I love to ride horses myself; we will get along quite nicely. I admit, I am quite captivated by you.”
MARILDA
(sputters)
“Liar! You lie, and I will….NO! I could never marry you!”
VANE
“Dear girl! I do NOT lie; it is simply not in my nature,” (stands taller) “You will marry me, fair one, for it is already settled. I would,” (clears throat, tugs on collar once more) “just like your consent.”
MARILDA
(Stunned into silence)
VANE
“I take that as your yes. Our wedding will take place in one day’s time. Or I will simply take you now and marry you in England. I’m sure you might want it here, for your…petty family’s wishes, I suppose.”
MARILDA
(Whips to the front, entirely facing Vane)
“You shall never have my consent! And I will not be a prize, a trophy, to be had and won! I will not be taken back to England to be paraded around to your friends! I won't be the 'object' to which you gain status in your homeland! I am a free and unrestrained spirit, and I will not be tied down and bound in chains to you! How dare you think you can demand my hand and simply take me from my native land? I do not know you, sir! Leave, and never come back you fiend! You foolish British man with your schemes! I will NEVER be taken against my will and be forced to marry; especially to a pompous, arrogant man like you!"
VANE
(Stunned, face reddening in humiliation. Clenches hands into fists)
“You simpleton! You foolish, ignorant brat! You have failed to see the wisdom in this, but you WILL know the error of your ways!”
(Steps forward and grabs her arm, sending basket crashing to ground)
MARILDA
(Shrieks, trying to tug free)
“Get off, you villain!”
VANE
(Yanks her away from house, toward the street)
MARILDA
(Screams, but is cut off as she tries to fight)
“Help! Let go, you evil man!”
VANE
(Grabs her face and yanks her closer)
“You fool; no one disobeys me!”
MARILDA
(Struggles, cries are cut off in exertion)
“Stop! Unhand me!”
VANE
(Lets hand go from her face but strikes her, sending her toppling to the side)
Enter JONATHAN on horse
(Horse whinnies and rears back, hoofs waving at Vane)
“Move away from her or by God I will shoot you dead.”
(Face dark, rips rifle from saddle)
VANE
(Stumbles back, face enraged)
“A pastor?” (laughs) “Come on then, shoot me ‘holy man’.”
JONATHAN
(jumps off horse, and strides toward Vane, gun in hand)
VANE
“See? Can’t shoot me, can you? Holy Saint can’t hurt a fly!”
JONATHAN
(Whips butt of gun at Vane, striking him across the face hard with it. Vane topples to the ground)
“You speak too soon.”
MARILDA
(Stunned, face on cheek, eyes large as saucers, still on ground)
VANE
(Groans, too hurt to move)
JONATHAN
(Bends, gently loops arm around Marilda, lifts her up)
“Are you alright Miss Marilda??”
MARILDA
(Stares at him, face astonished)
JONATHAN
“Please, don’t be afraid. He deserves to die for what he did to you.”
(Turns toward Vane, taps Rifle head on ground, contemplating)
MARILDA
“Y-…he…he does, doesn’t he?” (Touches cheek) “No, no don’t hurt him anymore. He’s been hit much worse than he hit me. I saw that blood spray from his mouth when you hit him. He’s hurt real good.
(Stares at Jonathan)
Enter PETUNIA, GREG, AND ANNABELLE
PETUNIA
(Hands on face)
“By God, what happened?!”
ANNABELLE
“Was he trying to hurt you, Marilda? I heard shouts; I came as fast as I could!”
GREG
“What in blazes!”
(All stare at Jonathan, gun in hand)
MARILDA
“I-it’s ok. Vane tried to…I don’t know, but he struck me so hard I fell. He couldn’t handle me telling him no.”
(Petunia and Annabelle rush toward Marilda, sobbing, latch onto her)
GREG
(Rubs hand over face, then stares off into distance)

“Marilda…oh my sweetheart. I should have shot him dead myself.”
JONATHAN
“No need. He’s not dead, but his face sure will be wrecked. Call the authorities, but I don’t want to see him here ever again.”
PETUNIA
“Oh, you protected my dear girl!”
(Rushes forward toward pastor, hugs him)
GREG
“I’ll go do that now. I owe you, Mr. Wilbur.”
(exits)
ANNABELLE
(To Marilda only, pulls away to look at her)
“He sure hides a lot under that cold exterior. Well by George I don’t think he’s cold at all! He’s a fiercely protective man!”
MARILDA
“He was…protecting one of his flock.”
ANNABELLE
(Smiles)
“Oh, I think he was protecting more than that. And did you see the way he rode up?”
MARILDA
(Looks at sister, perplexed)
ANNABELLE
“I’m going to get dinner ready.” (To Jonathan) “Join us for dinner, please pastor. It is our honor.”
(Exits, hiding smile)
PETUNIA
“Oh, dear. Yes, yes, join us for supper! I must hurry and get that pot going! I’m sure I can leave my girl with you, she’s in safe hands!”
(Kisses Marilda, then exits)
END SCENE 6
(Both are silent for a moment, staring at the unconscious Vane)
JONATHAN
(Puts gun in Saddle)
“I…I’m so glad I came up here in time, Miss. I was on my way to see an ill man that attends service.”
MARILDA
“S-so am I, sir. Thank you…how can I ever repay you?”
JONATHAN
“Nonsense. God requires no payback for helping those in need; in dire need in this case. I should have sent that man straight to Hell.” (Rubs face) “Forgive me, Lord.”
MARILDA
(Half giggles, though still shaken)
“They were going to force me to marry him; or HE, rather, was going to force me. I…I couldn’t make my family proud like they wanted. I just couldn’t marry him, and if I brought shame to my family, well, that couldn’t be helped.”
JONATHAN
“You should never be forced to marry; it’s just not biblical, I’m sorry. You did the right thing, though I hate to think you confronting him alone.”
MARILDA
“I had no idea the man would try to harm me! He’s a lunatic!”
JONATHAN
(Face darkens)
“He’s an evil man that’s used to getting what he wants, it seems.
(Pushes Vane onto back with boot)
MARILDA
(Stares at Vane)
“I never will be married.”
JONATHAN
“Marriage is a blessed thing; if you love the man.”
MARILDA
(Looks at Jonathan, Light brings out flecks of color in his dark eyes)
JONATHAN
(Stares back)
MARILDA
“Come in for supper, Mr. Wilbur.”

JONATHAN
“Call me Jonathan, Miss Marilda.”
END SCENE 7 AND PLAY



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