The Labourer’s Plea


This is a short play I wrote for Story Theatre this past summer.

LABOURER: Long time ago, there lived a man. He was a strapping young fellow, but he was in want of work; for you see, his master had died, leaving him with no means.

Sits wearily on a box, near stage left.

He traveled from village to village, but no one would hire him. The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. But he found no work.

‘I shan’t live long if I do not find work and shelter. Oh, what shall I do?’

Pauses, hears the galloping of a horse. He stands up when he sees a Baron.

‘Hark! I hear a horse!’

Baron enters from stage right, pretending to ride a horse.

BARON: Boy, what are you doing there, standing in my way!

LABOURER: Oh, please, my lord, I beg you to hear my request: I am starving and I need work.

BARON: I am a man of status; I command a thousand knights! What use would you–a scrawny peasant boy–be to me?

LABOURER: (pulls a small dagger from his belt) Well, I made this.

BARON: (examines the dagger) That is a fine weapon indeed. You do have some skill, my boy.

LABOURER: But that’s not all. I can make swords, belts and helmets. I can also make–

BARON: There are already several men who make armor and weapons.

LABOURER: My lord, I am a labourer, but I have many skills. Let me work for you. I beg you. I am a desperate man.

BARON: I have no need for you! But I could use a new dagger.

LABOURER: Well, actually… I guess it’s alright. Here you go. Now…will you give me work?

BARON: I told you, I have no need for you. I serve the king, and he needs men who fight. You’re too weak to fight in battle.

LABOURER: ‘Please. You must give me a chance!’ But the Baron rode off, so the Laborer kept walking until, alas, he saw a Merchant.

MERCHANT: What do you want, boy? Come on. Out with it.

LABOURER: I am in need of work, food and shelter.

MERCHANT: I’m sorry, lad, but I have neither to give you.

LABOURER: But you must have some work that needs to be done! You cannot make repairs on your own. Please, I beg you to help a man in desperation.

MERCHANT: I have no work for you, boy! But… wait a moment… is that water in your flask?  I am feeling rather thirsty.

LABOURER: Then you shall have some. I could never withhold water from a thirsty man. But I need water and food myself, you see, and the only way I can acquire these things is if you hire me.

MERCHANT:  (after drinking all of the laborer’s water) I have already employed several servants and labourers. I don’t need another one. Now be off with you.

LABOURER: And so the heartless Merchant stomped off.

PEASANT GIRL: At that moment, a young Peasant Girl walked down the dirt road, carrying an empty basket. She sang a delightful tune to herself as she walked. It had been a wonderful day because she had sold all of her eggs at the market. Father and Mother would be glad because now they’d have enough money to buy a cow.

LABOURER: Why, hello there, young girl. You look like you have done yourself well.

PEASANT GIRL: Oh–how did you guess?

LABOURER: (gestures to her, then talks in a sing-song voice) Because you are well dressed. Surely your father must own several acres of land. I’d imagine he’d need an extra hand.

PEASANT GIRL: You speak well for a landless labourer, and you know how to serenade a girl. But I can’t take you home. Father would be very angry with me.

LABOURER: And why would that be?

PEASANT GIRL: My father doesn’t trust strangers, especially ones who have no land.

LABOURER: But your father wouldn’t feel that way if he met me.

(Reaches into his sack.)

I can pay him two pennies. It’s all I have left, but it should be enough to compensate for my stay.

PEASANT GIRL: Uh, no thank you.

LABOURER: Please take them and let me come with. I promise that your father will not be angry. And he will not turn me away.

PEASANT GIRL: Uh-Er-Um. Is that bread you have in your pocket?

LABOURER: Yes.

PEASANT GIRL: Mind if I have some?

LABOURER: Yes, of course. Help yourself.

PEASANT GIRL:  Many thanks. You are very kind.

LABOURER: My pleasure, Madame. Now, have you changed your mind?

PEASANT GIRL: About what?

LABOURER: About me. Will you let me come with you?

PEASANT GIRL: I am so sorry, Labourer, but I cannot take you with me. I wish I could but…I just can’t.

LABOURER:  Please…

PEASANT GIRL: (looks around anxiously) It’s getting late. I must be on my way. Goodbye, Laborer. I hope you find work and shelter soon.

LABOURER: ‘Wait!’ But the Peasant Girl ran fast. She disappeared over the hill and out of his sight.

‘Oh, what shall I do now? She was my last hope!’

MONK: A monk, who had been traveling all day long, spotted the Laborer sitting on the side of the road. When he saw the poor man, his heart filled with compassion.

‘My dear fellow, why do you sit there?’

LABOURER: I have no work, no shelter and I don’t have enough food to last me until tomorrow evening.

MONK: Well, our Church needs repair and we do have plenty of food. But first, I would like to know your skills.

LABOURER: I can make daggers, swords, belts and helmets. I can also build.

MONK: We have no need for weapons, but we do need a builder. I do not know you, son, but I am willing to give you a chance. Come. Take my hand and we will walk together.

LABOURER: Oh, I cannot find the right words to express my gratitude, Father. You are so very kind. But…why did you hire me?

MONK: I heard about your good deeds. You have been very generous to the people of this countryside and I want to repay your generosity.

LABOURER: I will work hard, Father. I will not disappoint you. I promise.

MONK: I trust that you will keep your word.

LABOURER:  The labourer kept his word. Eventually, he became the wealthiest man in the village–the village nearest to the monastery. He built a large house for himself, married the peasant girl and they lived happily together for the rest of their lives.

THE END

 

 

 

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