The Hay Wain, painting by John Constable, 1821
Sample Music

1. Will You Help Me, Prue?

In Act 1, scene 3, Gideon tells his sister Prue of his plan to make their farm profitable. When he becomes rich he will sell it and become a powerful and respected figure in Lullingford town. Prue’s wants are simpler—a cozy home and family—but her brother convinces her that because she has a disfigured face no one will ever offer to marry her. Best she swear to work hard for him and he will promise that she will enjoy his wealth and position once he achieves it.

I shall work this land, every field in sight.
I shall plough by day, I shall plough by night.
They say a corn tax is comin’, so it’s corn I shall grow.
Corn in the rickyard, and in the woods below.
Will you help me, Prue? Do what I mean to do?

2. Those Be the Ways the Grouse Laughs

After Prue reluctantly agrees to his get-rich plan, Gideon insists that she vow to obey him. He goes off to fetch the Bible for her to swear on. Prue looks into the water at her reflection and then hears the bitter cackling sound of a grouse up in the treetops. She sings “Those Be the Ways the Grouse Laughs”, reflecting on her fate. At first she identifies with the grouse’s bitter laughter, but in the end decides that if she “canna have a lover” she will embrace the beauty of the world, and become the world’s lover instead.

Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! Though the joke be full of pain!
Laugh when the truth you push from sight
Bursts upon you like a blight—
And you can’t escape its ugliness...

3. Lullingford/Hareshotten

Lullingford is the market town nearest to the Sarn Farm, where Gideon Sarn goes on market days to buy supplies and sell what the farm produces. The recording is of the “Lullingford” reprise in Act II, at the Hiring Fair, where workers gather to call out their trades in the hope that farm owners will hire them. Prue Sarn is well liked by her neighbors, who have known her since birth. But when strangers see her “hareshotten” lip, they react with superstitious fear and hatred. They believe that a harelip is the Devil’s Mark.

Now the crowds are a-busseling
Excitement and noise everywhere.
Men and maids come a-husseling—
A-seeking employment—at the hiring faire.
Hare-shotten! Here’s a creature misbegotten!
Dunna drink! Dunna drink! Dunna let her come nigh

4. Master Be Come

This is the love song Prue sings in Act I after she first lays eyes on the weaver, Kester Woodseaves, at her friend Jancis’ betrothal party. Unlike the other women, Prue hides out of sight until Kester goes to the attic to do his weaving. But having once seen him she knows already that he is The One—and that such a man could never love a hareshotten wench. He deserves a beauty.

You canna give him crumbs, you must give all.
Bring out all your best
For that bidden guest, standing so tall
Wear your sunday gown
And tie a daisy crown into your hair.
Nod your head and say,
Would you care to stay? Please take a chair...

5. Saddle Your Dreams

6. Don’t Make Me Walk That Road (Act I Finale)

This is the Act I finale. Jancis pleads with Gideon to turn away from his plan for riches and a big house and marry her right away! If he doesn’t, her father will “sell” her to a rich man, or send her off to work on a far away farm for three years. Gideon believes that marrying young and having children will trap them in poverty. His betrothed should trust him, and go away to earn money for their future together. Prue joins Jancis’ plea to choose love now. Ghostly voices from the waters of Sarn Mere join the trio with foreboding.

Loving words we have spoken.
Promises should ne’er be broken.
Together we mun go.
Walking in the sunlight
Where the flowers bloom and grow.