© Alan Richardson 2022
The plot quickly gets entangled in twists, turns and a catalogue of comic misunderstandings, so the best place to begin is the opening of the play.
(When the curtains open, we find CORPORAL GEORDIE KERR engaged in the task of packing his officer's trunk. He takes a few books and papers from the writing desk, deposits them in the trunk, then exits to the bedroom. Moments later he reappears carrying an officer's sword in its scabbard. As he gives the sword a quick polish, ANNE PROVAN comes in from the main entrance)
GEORDIE Guid mornin tae ye, Miss Anne.
(ANNE gazes in dismay at the trunk and the sword, gives a cry and rushes tearfully out)
GEORDIE Nice bletherin tae ye. (to himself) Preserve us! The sooner we're awa frae here, the better,
(As he resumes his task with more urgency, BETH comes rushing in)
BETH Geordie, it's no true? (she sees what he is doing) It is! Yer officer cannae leave noo.
GEORDIE The ensign's finally made up his mind and orders is orders.
BETH Miss Anne's awa tae her room greetin her een oot. She'll be ten times waur efter he's gone for ever.
GEORDIE I daursay, but there's nae persaudin him, Beth. He says it's the "honourable" thing tae dae.
BETH Brek Miss Anne's hert?
GEORDIE Pit yerself in his position. Whit's the yase o' lovin a lassie whae's faither would never approve?
BETH Whae's faither doesnae ken tae stert wi'.
GEORDIE Exactly. We didnae dae oor coortin ahint his back for fear o' bein fund oot.
BETH Servants are yin maitter, discoverin that yer ainly dochter is daft on an ensign is anither. The shock would gie him apoplexy.
GEORDIE Whit's wrang wi' an ensign? It's a damn-
BETH But no nearly guid eneuch in the Bailie's opinion. He's ayeweys wanted the best for his lassie. Ye cannae fault him for that.
GEORDIE No. But I still cannae believe in the twa months the ensign's been a guest in this hoose, yer maister never yince suspectit the obvious.
BETH The Bailie's been sae taegled in the election for provost, he wouldnae hae noticed if they smooched ablow his neb. He cannae see further than the prize o' the provost's chain roond his neck. Why dae ye think he wis first tae offer lodgins for officers efter the fire at the barracks?
GEORDIE A Bailie's duty? Chairity?
BETH Neither. Political ambeetion. And look whit happened. The toon clerk got a colonel. Bailie Semple got a brigadier. Bailie Grant got a major. The maister ends up wi' an ensign.
GEORDIE Whit wis he wantin, a field marshal?
BETH That would hae served him fine. Or at a pinch, a general. Onythin for prestige. For votes. Jist imagine whit wey a scandal involvin his dochter would skaith his chances.
GEORDIE Nae wonder Miss Anne wis feart tae tell him. (he returns to packing the trunk) And noo he'll never ken.
BETH No if the ensign's determined tae gang awa.
GEORDIE Ye ken whit he's like. A' yon stravaigin aboot wi' the regimental colours has his heid birlin wi' daft nonsense like honour and gentlemanly conduct. He feels he's abused Bailie Provan's hospitality.
BETH Some "abuse". Fa'in in love wi his dochter.
GEORDIE And that he's unworthy o' her love.
BETH The sumph! Whaur is he, onywey?
GEORDIE He said he wis takin a last dauner roond the harbour. Here.… I hope he hasnae lowped aff the end o' the pier!
(They both hasten to the window)
BETH Na, he hasnae ended it a' yet. Here he's comin up the road.
GEORDIE And he's got yon determined look on his face. I'd better feenish his trunk. It's back tae the barracks for me. I'll miss this hoose.
BETH Jist the hoose?
GEORDIE And it's maid.
BETH Och, Geordie, must ye gang tae?
GEORDIE Whaur an officer gangs, his servant follows.
BETH Could ye no resign?
GEORDIE Beth! Corporals cannae "resign" frae the airmy. No unless they're servant tae on officer whae resigns his commission....here....are ye thinkin whit I'm thinkin?
BETH If the ensign did mairry Miss Anne....
GEORDIE Oor problems are solved. A' we need tae dae is promote the ensign tae field marshal and mak shair yer maister becomes Provost.
BETH As simple as that?