The Long Song (2018) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

1 This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.
The life of a white missus on a Jamaican sugar plantation be surely full of tribulation, from the scarcity of beef to the want of a fashionable hat, to the almost impossible search on this so-small island for a suitable man to marry.
Marguerite! But if that is the story you wish to hear Marguerite! then be on your way.
Go! Yes, go! For the tale I have to tell is quite a different one.
Marguerite! Marguerite! July, Missus calling you.
- Yeah, soon come.
Me busy.
- What you have there? - Missus' dress.
She want it.
- Then go give it.
July, me can have some of them button? Yeah, when the Missus give you dress for mendin', - then you may have button.
- Molly, come.
The Missus calling you.
July, go see to her now, she paining me head.
What are Yes.
She faced enough.
She two-faced.
She don't want to listen to nothing, she don't want to hear nothing.
She feels it's too nice.
Hmm, not our manners.
Do we have any milk? - You want have milk? - You have any cold milk? Marguerite! Marguerite! Marguerite! Yes, Missus, me here.
Me come quick as me could.
Me did finish the dress.
I have decided to arrange a grand Christmas dinner here at Amity.
In England, we used to have such parties and balls at this time of year.
Carol singers, roaring fires, fresh holly berries.
If you have no penny, a ha'penny will do If you haven't got a ha'penny, God SHE EXCLAIMS Breathe in, Missus.
Christmases here are so dreary.
This year, I am resolved SHE EXCLAIMS AGAIN Just a little more to give a party the likes of which this island has never before seen.
Ow! That hurts! That's enough.
Didn't this dress used to have buttons on the sleeve? No, Missus.
No, no, that be the yellow dress you think of.
No, no, look.
Look, here are the threads where they were.
Oh, Missus.
Must be them washer women in the river.
Them slap the dress against the rock and bash No, no, no, no, no How many times have I told you not to let those women anywhere near my dresses? I did scream and I shout, Missus.
"Mind the Missus' dress," I did tell them.
But look, the buttons come loose now.
No, but they were pearl buttons.
They were pearl buttons.
They was pearl buttons.
Well I fear them pearls be back down at bottom of the sea once more.
I could have you whipped for this.
I could have you sent back into the fields.
- Missus, no, please! - Come here.
Come here! NARRATOR: But wait.
I cannot start my tale here.
For it not be plain how this crafty girl come to be a lady's maid, nor why her mistress call her Marguerite, when her name be July.
No, me must start at the beginning.
SLAVES SING The successful cultivation of the sugar cane crop requires a tropical climate and a fertile soil.
Plenty water, plenty sunshine, plenty shit.
And at the time of which I am speaking, plenty slaves.
July's mama was a field slave named Kitty.
Kitty had not felt the lash of the driver's whip for many a month now.
And there was a reason for this.
GRUNTING Thankfully, his part was small, and he was always done quick.
And if she kept quiet, he seldom hit her.
Tam Dewar was his name.
From Scotch Land.
And she would never forget him.
CRYING: Miss Rose! WAILING AND CRYING SCREAMING Oh, it's so, so pretty.
You not see him in her face.
She be YOUR pickney.
What you going to call her? July.
But it be December.
Well, she be July.
You! Back to work.
July! Come from out there.
We must not stop here.
Now, come on, you naughty girl.
Hey! Come on, follow me.
- You, where are you going? - Me have pass, Massa.
Me and the pickney.
We are go Unity Pen.
Oh! Look at the little one.
Isn't she pretty? John, what's her name? Tell your mistress the name of your child.
July, Massa.
Come, sister, this will be an education for you.
SHE COUGHS Look at, look at the legs, Caroline.
Like tree trunks.
Feel the muscles.
Come on, she won't bite! Imagine putting silk stockings over these, eh, Caroline? There are some in England that say it should be done.
Come, let's get out of the heat.
Oh, but look how adorable the little one is.
Well Well, bring her, then, if you like.
What?! Can I? Of course, if she amuses you.
She's my property.
She'll be taken from the mother soon enough anyway.
It will encourage her to have another.
They're dreadful mothers, these negroes.
Massa, me have pass.
We are go market.
Well, I suppose if I am to stay on this island, I could train her to be my lady's maid.
They aren't very bright, you realise.
Please, Massa, no.
No! - Yes, yes, I'll take her.
- Right.
- Oh, no, Massa.
She too, she too small.
- Quiet.
Have mercy, Massa.
Mercy, Massa.
- Mama.
- Massa, no.
Massa, no.
Please, Massa, no.
- Be off with you.
- She too small.
Piss off! SHE WHIMPERS Yes, I I think I'll call you Marguerite like the flower.
Ma! And that was that.
Happen all the time in them days.
Your pickney not your own.
JULY CRIES Your mother is sold away.
You are mine now.
You must do as I say, otherwise I will send you back into the field like any other filthy little piccaninny! Miss Kitty, Miss Kitty.
You cannot keep coming here.
Come, come.
Stop crying, you stupid girl.
If them catch you, it will be the cat o' nine tails or worse.
- No.
- Marguerite! Marguerite, come back here.
Let us rejoin our tale.
Suffice to say that, despite all her beatings and whippings, July realise that her missus never would return her to the fields.
Marguerite, come here.
For, come, what would that fool-fool woman do without her? She was stuck on that godforsaken island with no husband, friend or companion.
All she had was that one little slave girl that she did call Marguerite but who would forever cling to the name her mama give her Enough, Marguerite.
We must have the best turtle soup.
We must have mutton pies and pigeon pies and boiled ham, two brace of quail, roasted.
And of course, a turkey.
No, let us have two turkeys.
And duck.
Three, if you can get them, Godfrey, in aspic.
- All this for seven people, Missus? - Yes, yes.
And Godfrey, enquire in town about cheese, and buy whatever you can.
I will enquire, Missus.
I want candles all over the walls - 100 of them.
Yes, I've seen it done in London.
It looks quite magical.
All this be plenty, plenty money, Missus.
Well, how much do you need? Well, to start, the beeswax candles which the Missus do prefer, be six shillings and eight pennies for the box.
What? No, that's too expensive.
Now, the tallow candles be one shilling and one penny for the box.
Tallow? Do you expect this room to smell like an abattoir? Then it's six shillings and eight pennies for a box.
My brother says you cheat me.
How can they be that expensive? It is not that the candles be expensive, Missus, it is just that you cannot afford them.
How dare you talk back to me?! Just get me a good price for them, boy, or I will have you whipped.
Yes, Missus.
Make sure you put the Irish linen upon the table.
That will impress Elizabeth Wyndham.
Marguerite! Hurry up, now.
We have plenty work here, you know.
You no hear me? Hurry up! Morning, Mr Godfrey.
I'm fed up with these people.
Making me do this, do that, like I have nothing to do but chop! Seven people never going to eat all of these dead creature in one dinner, eh? Not even them white greedy-guts.
Come, dinner not just be for eating Dinner be for show.
The mango woman say, one day soon we all be free.
Free? What you chatting, girl? The mango woman hear it from the fisherman.
The King in England say no more slaves.
Yeah, me hear that the fisherman good friends with the King in England.
Come, we hear all this freedom chat before.
Morning, Miss July.
My, how you all grow up! Morning, Mr Nimrod.
The fisherman hear it from the white preacherman at the Sunday chapel, - and he don't, him not lie! - What? Go get more garlic.
Girl, you have no time this day to chat no freedom gossip.
Of course, me, I've me freedom already.
Me bought it.
Walked right up to the massa with £100 in me hand.
Yeah, and where you get that money? Me free to do anything me like.
Set up shop.
Take wife, if me want.
Mr Nimrod, you want mango juice? Me make it fresh and sweet.
Get me a house in town.
Miss July, come lay the table.
- We got work to do here, Mr Nimrod.
- Of course, Mr Godfrey.
Massa say jump and you jump.
But I is free.
Not in my kitchen! Good day, Mr Nimrod.
Come on.
Mr Godfrey, this be a dirty bedsheet, not linen for the table.
I beg your pardon? It be a bedsheet.
- It be a fine linen tablecloth.
- Then lay it upon the table.
Why didn't you ask me first, Caroline?! This monumental expense for a dinner when we're hanging by a thread.
And at our busiest time of the year.
To what end? It will do you good.
It will cheer you up.
John, please.
We need to meet more people.
I need company.
There is no reason that I should not marry again.
Nor even you.
We're still young.
I'm not young by a long chalk, sister.
And I shall never remarry.
You will not ruin this Christmas dinner for me, John! It's high time we had some fun! Where is he, Marguerite? WHIP SNAPPING - There, Missus.
- John! John! John, please! Listen to me.
WHIP SNAPS FIDDLES PLAY SILENT NIGH How's business here at Amity, Dewar? I hear it's been a little slow.
We're shifting 140 hogshead a month, Mr Sadler, so I think we can still give you at Prosperity a run for your money.
You run things here with a firm hand, Dewar! Come along, Evelyn.
Damn bloody racket.
My, that's quite a dress, Caroline.
Look at all these candles! I don't know how we shall stand the heat! Here, there.
Squash up.
- No, Caroline.
- Yes.
- Caroline, no.
- Get up.
I will not.
No, I will not, sister! Friends, neighbours, er Welcome, welcome to Amity.
As you know, these are dark days.
The abolitionists in England are gaining support.
And yet they are still happy to eat our sugar and drink our rum.
And thanks to them, mutinous talk has been circulating amongst the slaves.
Now, I have always prided myself on being a fair master.
But now more than ever, we must be vigilant and stand together.
Hear, hear.
SHE COUGHS Yes, er - your good health.
- Yes, your good health.
LOUDLY: Merry Christmas! Those baptist preachers are to blame, Howarth.
They've put it into the negroes' heads that they're as good - as a white man.
- That's true.
The Baptists are whipping up discontent, and it spells nothing but trouble for us.
We won't have problems with our slaves.
There are good ones and there are bad ones.
You just need to weed out the bad ones early on.
True enough.
They won't rise against us, for one simple reason - they lack - any ability to organise themselves.
- THEY LAUGH Oh, yes, all white folk did know for sure that slaves had not the wit to organise themselves.
So, of course, it be impossible that they arrange a Christmas party of their own, to entertain the slaves of their masters' visitors.
No, them slaves could no more organise a Christmas party than they could start a rebellion.
Is it me dress you like or me pretty fair face that make you both stare so? Me just recalls there, me missus did give me cloth to make - a white dress like yours.
- Cast-off? I cannot abide to be dressed in cast-off.
No, no, no.
It be new.
It be the finest white muslin from ship just come from England.
Your missus no give you fine muslin! Yes, she do! Then why she dress so bad herself? No worthy white missus be wearing cotton print! Well, your missus does have an ugly face! How dare you impudence me, missus! Me missus would never have a maid as dark as you.
I is a quadroon! Me mama was a mulatto an' me papa was a naval man from Scotch Land.
Me papa be from Scotch Land too! Tcha! You lie! I is a mulatto - me papa be the Scotch overseer.
Mr Godfrey, Mr Godfrey! What? Tell Miss Clara - my papa be the Scotch overseer of Amity! Miss July! Take Byron and go and get us some more wine.
Yes, Mr Godfrey.
Just the open bottles, you know! And no come back with nothing.
Y'hear me? Yes, Mr Godfrey.
Byron! THEY SPEAK OVER EACH OTHER Oh, you must go to Kingston! For silks, it's where I go.
It's expensive of course, but It's worth it.
Yes, one must make the effort.
Yes, you're lost out here.
Lost! You! What are you doing there? I said, what are you doing? Oh, Marguerite, there you are! We've been waiting an age! Yes, where is the dessert? Can't you see she's stealing from you? Come here, girl! How embarrassing.
Come here! You're a thieving little nigger, aren't you? No, Massa.
No, Massa.
Me no steal, Massa, me no steal! - Yes.
- No, Massa.
You're stealing wine! Sadler, let her go, so she may bring the dessert.
Not till she admits she's a dirty little thief - who deserves a good lashing.
- KNOCK ON DOOR No, Massa, please.
DISTANT SHOUTING - Sorry to disturb you.
- What's going on? - George, what's happening? - There's trouble in the west.
The slaves are burning down the plantations.
- What?! - This is exactly what I feared.
We need every man to report for militia duty at once! THEY TALK OVER EACH OTHER John, you can't leave me here.
Marguerite, get up from there at once and look to your mistress.
She needs you now.
You can't leave me here! You must not leave this house at any cost, - just stay inside.
- Oh, God.
SHE SOBS Marguerite? Yes, Missus? This isn't the Irish linen.
Oh, my God! Evelyn Sadler will testify to everyone that a soiled bedsheet was used on my table upon this beastly dinner.
CAROLINE CRIES Some say that the Christmas rebellion of 1831 was start by Sam Sharpe up in Montego Bay.
Some say it start in Salt Springs, when the negro driver refuse to flog his own wife.
I cannot say.
For when all that rage and fury was finally unleashed, all your storyteller could hear CRUNCHING was the sound of old Miss Hannah sucking on a hambone.
What? Can you see anyone? Anyone? - Nobody, Missus.
- Well, where's my brother? Why has he? Why has he not sent word? What if something has happened to him and I'm all alone? No be fretting, Missus.
True, you is all alone, with no white people near.
No massa, no friend, no bakra.
Oh, my God, what am Oh, my God! What am I to do? But no be feared! Me two fists is raised.
Them no take you from me, Missus! HORSE WHINNIES Was that a horse? Is that my brother? Tell me it's him.
It be no white massa.
It be a black man, Missus.
Me go see what him want.
- No! No, no, no! No, don't go! No! - Missus, let me go.
Let me go! Let me go so me can see what happen.
Now, me turn the key in the door, just till the negro be gone, then me soon come back and set you free.
All right? Them slaves jump on them white men.
Them seize them cutlass, bound them hands, blindfold them and march them to the works.
Ah, Miss July.
Good evening, Mr Freeman.
- BANG ON TABLE - Continue, Mr Nimrod, continue! And then them throw them white men in the boiling sugar! No! Oh, my Lord! You say all this going on as we sit? You hear me now, this island ablaze.
They be fighting in the streets and white men be running for their lives.
DISTANT: Marguerite! - Wait.
Miss July, is that your missus? - Mm-hm.
She not safe here.
She must go to town, Miss July.
Oh, come, there been plenty trouble here before.
Nothing like this ever before! I tell you now, there not be a white person left in town.
Them all dead or gone.
Where them all go to? Them sail away when this trouble start.
Your missus must go to town, Miss July.
There be a ship in the bay.
She must board that ship.
She not safe here.
This island ablaze.
I am forgot! Abandoned by my own brother.
Do I take the blue one or do I take the yellow one? - Or do I take both? - Hurry, Missus, hurry! You must board that ship.
Byron! Have you packed my cloak? I may be cold upon the ship.
Where's Godrey? Where's Godfrey? Come on, Godfrey, let us be gone.
Quickly now, quickly! What, you want me lift all this into the cart and then drive you into town? Do not play the fool with me, Godfrey.
You know I need to go into town for my own safety.
Then you must pay me.
Don't be ridiculous! Pick up the trunk! But, Missus, you see, if them fight-for-freedom slaves find me upon the road with you, then my throat be cut, sure as yours.
So, me want payment for taking you.
Tell him.
- Tell him.
- Let her go.
Get up and do as I bid.
SHE GASPS No! Marguerite, he's touching me! CAROLINE SOBS Now, her name not be Marguerite, It be July.
Speak it.
Speak her name! July.
Now, say it to her.
Say, "Miss July.
" Miss July.
Now, you want me take you into town? How much? If my brother hears about this, he'll He'll send you all back into the field.
It's so dark! Gid-up.
He'll have you whipped.
Lady, shut up! - Hush your mouth! - Mr Godfrey, the cover! Leave it! - The cover, sir.
- I said leave it.
JULY LAUGHS JAMAICAN FOLK MUSIC PLAYS SHE LAUGHS Marguerite! Come do my hair! Margueri-i-i-i-te! SHE LAUGHS Wooo! Mm.
Marguerite? I am waiting for my plum pudding.
Marguerite? Quickly! Ah, Miss July.
I am waiting for my plum pudding.
Well Here, Missus.
Ah, be careful, nigger.
This is our finest wine.
Am I to peel it myself? - Oh, er - Mm-hm.
Sorry, Missus.
Not so close! Don't beat me.
You stink.
- No beat me, Missus.
- You stink! - No beat me! - You stink! You stink! Mr Nimrod.
Yes, Miss July? Is me pretty? Oh, yes, Miss July.
Prettier than Molly? Oh, yes.
You is definitely prettier than Miss Molly.
Miss Hannah say you have plenty women in town.
That be true, Mr Nimrod? No, Miss July, no.
But me are getting a house in town.
You could come and live there with me as a free woman.
A free woman? But this be the Massa's room.
Massa gone.
There be no white bakra here no more.
We done chase them from this island.
All gone? Gone.
Black man gaun rule now.
Mr Nimrod, is me free now? And so, while the island burn and blaze, our July was abed, drifting upon a cloud of foolish dreams.
Get away! How could she know that the consequences of her actions that night would change her life forever? COCKEREL CROWS CARRIAGE APPROACHES WHISPERS: Wake up, Nimrod.
Wake up, wake up.
How you could just abandon me here like a stray dog? If Tom Dewar hadn't discovered me on the quayside, then I don't know what would have happened.
Oh, leave it, will you, Caroline? You're back now.
- What more is there to it? - Just disappeared into the night! I need you to find him and I want you to punish him, John.
For heaven's sake, will you let me alone, woman? - Let me to bed.
- Yes, but I want your word that Oh, for God's sake, will you just get out? John Lord, on this night, I have taken more lives than I can count.
But still they keep coming.
We are done for here.
Forgive me.
GUNSHO John? John? John! Oh, God, oh, God! - He's dead.
- No, no, no, no, no! Aye.
He shot himself.
No, no, no, it's It's a crime.
- He put a pistol in his mouth - No, no.
We'll lose everything.
What the hell is? What in hell's name are you doing there? Get up, get up.
- Mercy, Massa.
- Stand still! It was him.
He shot my brother.
Not me! Not me, Massa.
Not me.
I saw him with my own eyes, from behind.
No, no, not me, Massa.
Not me.
Massa, please - If you want to save your plantation - Don't shoot me.
well, all right.
But you've got to tell the story as I say it.
Your brother was shot from the front.
So, you got to say you saw this nigger here shoot him from the front.
- No, no.
- Yes, from the front.
That's what I meant, from the front.
When he tried to escape, you shot him, like this.
Mercy! Please.
Me? No, no, no.
I can't.
I am a free man.
I'll do it.
Remember, you shot him as he tried to escape.
Mercy, Massa.
Mercy, Massa.
- Keep still.
- Mercy, Massa.
Not me.
Massa JULY SCREAMS GUNSHO What?! TAM SHOUTS SHOUTING CONTINUES But where could July run? Where could she hide? All she could think was to go to them field slaves and beg for shelter.
Help! Please help us! Help us, please! Please help! Help! Massa John be dead! He shot hisself! Help us, please! Massa John shot hisself! Please! Mr Nimrod did it! Them say Mr Nimrod did it, but him never did! - Please! - Wait, wait! This be Miss Kitty's pickney.
Miss July? Go find Miss Kitty.
Bring her here, quick.
No, no, no, no, no! Mama Mama sold away.
She gone! She not She here, child.
All these years.
She feel the lash many time for try come find you.
What? Come! SCATTERED SHOUTS Where are they?! I said where the hell are they? WHISPERS: It's all right.
It's all right.
Go, go, go, go, go.
Him no kill Massa.
Him no kill Massa! - Him no kill Massa - VOICE FADES OU Don't you dare look at me! GUN COCKS GUNSHO SHE SOBS GUN COCKS Eurgh! SHE GASPS Mama? Run, July.
Run! Oh, Mama Run! Run, my girl! Run! CHORAL SINGING: Eyes don't see Heart don't feel Ears don't hear In my heart is no fear You can say what you will Do what you may After that uprising, so many slaves hang, that the pile did interfere with the drop.
For how else to make plain to them murdering negroes that they was not yet free? SCREAMING BABY CRIES Miss July? You have a fine son.
Strong and healthy.
- Take him.
- No.
You going to call him Nimrod after him papa? - No.
Hush now.
Me say hush.
Oh, me know you grieve bad for your mama, but see, all this suffering, all this death - a new pickney is come.
A new slave.
Soon taken.
Oh, sure, oh, sure.
VOICEOVER: But how? How could she set this child free? She found no strength to smother him, and no will to hold him under the river's swell.
In God she had no trust.
BABY FUSSES So she decided she must leave this child to fate.
Shh, shh Time did stand still for our July.
She was not strung up like her mama.
Her missus did spare her that.
Instead, she was sent back to toil in them fields.
Hey, hey, hey.
And yet the time came when her missus did need her.
For she was now left all alone at Amity.
Who else could she trust to press her petticoats? Who else could make her morning tea just as sweet as she like it? And who else could keep her idle, disobedient house slaves toiling at their tasks? DRIVER: Move on! In the drawing room, yes? Yes, Miss July.
VOICEOVER: And all the while, time was marching on.
Them troublesome Jamaican slaves would not be quelled, but kept on rising up till that king in England finally decree that all must prepare for the coming of the end.
KNOCK ON DOOR Missus, him come.
New overseer.
Oh, yes.
He's quite young.
Thank you.
Mrs Mortimer? Robert Goodwin, at your service.
Er, well Well, how do you do? I give thanks, Mrs Mortimer.
I give thanks for the coming of this historic moment because, in just a few days, slavery, that dreadful evil, will be finally abolished.
VOICEOVER: Really? How do you do, madam? This blue-eye bakra be come to set all free? And how do you do? Tcha! If only my tale were so simple.
SINGING Me is now free.
The wellbeing of the workers is the key to the success of a plantation.
We'll need you all to work seven full days a week from now on.
Why does your mistress call you Marguerite? Her think it pretty name to call a slave.
I must confess, I thought I should never again be blessed with love.
We shall have the finest sugar crop in all of Jamaica.
WHIP CRACKS - Move it! - Hey! We be slaves no more! - Where you be going in it? - Fishing.
Me can leave, you know.
Any time me want.