© Alan Richardson 2022
Sir Archibald Brodie’s castle is under siege. An English force led by Sir Henry Milburn surrounds the castle. Under a flag of truce, the old enemies come face to face. Brodie has kidnapped Milburn's son for ransom. Brodie thinks he is in control. Brodie's wife, Lady Kate, has other ideas.
(MILBURN steps forward, fingering the hilt of his sword. BRODIE adopts a similarly aggressive attitude. For a moment, the two men remain motionless. LADY KATE is first to break the silence)
LADY KATE Sir Henry, this is indeed a pleasure....
(MILBURN'S anger temporarily subsides as LADY KATE steps forward to meet him)
LADY KATE ....if haurdly unexpected.
MILBURN (gallantry epitomised) To meet you again, Lady Catherine, is always a pleasure. (he turns on BRODIE, resuming his former hostility) Now Sir knave, what have you done with my son? Where is he?
BRODIE Lockit awa, oot o' herm's wey.
MILBURN Release him immediately or I'll run you through where you stand.
BRODIE (reaching for his broadsword) I'll pit you ablow the grund richt noo!
(MILBURN draws his sword)
LADY KATE (intervening) Pit doon your swords! We'll hae nae bluid spilt here. If you've a mind tae exchange blows, tak your quarrel ootby. I'll remind you baith you're under a flag of truce.
MILBURN Yes, of course. (he sheathes his sword)
BRODIE (putting down his sword) Women! Aye interferin. I wis for settlin this maitter withoot further ado.
LADY KATE Settle you shall, but withoot fechtin. As knights o' your respective realms, you're obliged tae respect the truce.
MILBURN Agreed. Let us be done with this abominable business. We should begin by discussing terms. (he sits at one end of the table)
BRODIE Discuss terms? There's naethin tae discuss.
LADY KATE Sit doon!
(He does, choosing the opposite end of the table)
LADY KATE And keep your haunds awa frae your swords. You'll talk this ower in a proper mainner. We'll hae nae raised voices either, agreed?
BRODIE Guidsakes wuman! You're no addressin twa weans.
LADY KATE At times I wonder.
MILBURN (rising) Lady Catherine!....
BRODIE (likewise) Jist a meenit....
LADY KATE (to MILBURN) You're jist as bad, Sir Henry. I've nae mair appetite for this business than yourself.
MILBURN My apologies, Lady Catherine. I allowed my temper to get the better of me.
LADY KATE Understaundably. Correct me if I hae the gist o' the situation wrang. My husband is haudin your son against his will. In exchange for his safe return, my husband will undoubtedly mak certain demands. Am I correct?
MILBURN An accurate assessment. I have the ransom note here.
(He draws a folded parchment from his belt ands hands it to LADY KATE)
MILBURN As you will observe, the spelling is appalling and the sum demanded is excessive.