The plantation negroes wear tropically bright colors. All the colors are solid. Aunt Rachel has a bright blue dress with a white apron and kerchief, and a black cloak across her shoulders. She wears a scarlet and yellow turban, and huge gold hoops in her ears. The negro girls wear red and blue and green cotton dresses with white kerchiefs, and colored aprons—a yellow apron with a red dress, and so on. Some of them wear gay little turbans. Their feet are bare. The boys wear black knee-breeches, and bright-colored shirts, open at the neck. Uncle Ned wears black knee-breeches, low black shoes, and a faded scarlet vest with gilt buttons opening over a soft white shirt.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, a Youthful Surveyor
Young Lads who serve respectfully as “chainmen” and “pilots”
RED ROWAN, his daughter
SCENE: An open woodland glade that is part of the wilderness portion of Lord Fairfax’s estate beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, 1748. Trees at right, left, and background. Trailing vines. Low bushes. Underfoot a carpet of rotting leaves. At the left, near foreground, a fire smolders. Near it are spread a bearskin used as a sleeping-blanket, some pine boughs, surveyors’ tools, and a tin box. At the right a fallen tree-trunk, mossed, vine-covered. The time is mid-afternoon. The lads who enter wear the garb of frontiersmen; but when the play begins the forest glade is deserted until Richard Genn’s voice is heard from the woods in background.
RICHARD GENN. Come on, then, Washington. Hurry there, Talbot! (Genn enters, carrying chains and a surveyor’s pole, and comes quickly to the fire.) Why, the ashes have kept their heat since morning. We will not have to start another fire.
JAMES TALBOT (entering with Washington from background). That’s good hearing, for I’m famished. How say you, Washington?
WASHINGTON (laughing and coming to fire). I could eat a wild turkey, feathers and all. This life in the wilderness makes one keenly hungry. What’s in the box, Richard?
TALBOT (delving into tin box). Bacon. Some dry bread.
WASHINGTON. Toast the bacon between the bread, and we’ll have such a feast as is due to young surveyors who’ve tramped a good ten miles since morning. Now then, Richard. Here are some sticks. Let each lad toast his own.
TALBOT (helping to prepare). The very smell of it makes me ravenous. (To Genn.) I wonder where your Uncle is, and Colonel Fairfax?
Miles from here, doubtless. (Stretches.) But I am stiff!
And where can Carey be?
Oh, Carey’s lagged behind to get a shot at some grouse that he means to
have for supper. Hark!