ROGER. No more do I, Elizabeth, no more do I. I cannot think this lavish life is seemly. This table, now! Does thee note its profusion? More bread and honey and cheese and chicken pie than we can eat. Sheer waste— unless we can share it. If there was but some poor traveler in this inn whom we might bid to supper, and——
[A knock on the door leading to hall.
’Tis William, the inn boy, with tea cakes.
[Elizabeth opens the door. William enters with tea cakes on tray. He deposits the plate of cakes on table.
As I was saying—if there was but some traveler in this inn to share
our evening meal—some one with pockets that were well-nigh empty——
Perhaps the inn boy knows of such a one. (To William.) Does thee not,
William? Some one whose purse is not too over-burdened?
WILLIAM (sturdily). Aye, that I do. A lad came here this noon from Boston. A journeyman printer so he says he is, and I’ll warrant he has not above four shillings with him. (To Roger.) He’s come to search for work in Philadelphia, and says he was directed to this tavern by a—by a Quaker, sir.
Directed here by a Quaker—! (To Roger.) Then, Roger, all the more
reason why we should bid him in. What is his name?
He says his name is Franklin.
ROGER. Then ask friend Franklin if he’ll sup with us. Tell him we, too, would hear the news from Boston—that he’ll confer a favor if he’ll come. And mind, no hint about an empty purse! I fear at first I put the matter clumsily. Give him my later message. That is all.
I will, sir.
[Exit, with a flourish, right background
ROGER. I hope he comes.
ELIZABETH (fondly). ’Tis ever like thee, Roger, to have a care for the friendless and forlorn.
(knocking, opening door from hall, and announcing).
Benjamin Franklin, Journeyman!
[Enter Franklin, shabby, travel-stained, and boyishly appealing. Exit William.
ROGER (stepping hospitably forward). I bid thee welcome, friend Franklin. I hear thee is from Boston, and come to search for work in Philadelphia. Will thee not sup here? We are ever anxious for news such as travelers may bring. This is my wife, Elizabeth Burchard, and she will make thee welcome. I mind me of the time when I was once a stranger. Will thee not do us the pleasure to sup with us?
FRANKLIN. I scarcely, sir, know how to thank you for such kindness. All Quakers must be kind, I think, for it was a Quaker who directed me hither.
[Franklin crosses to fire, Roger taking his hat from him. In brief pantomime behind Franklin’s back Roger has indicated that Franklin is to take his place at table, and that he himself will sup no further. During the conversation that follows Elizabeth is taking fresh silver out of a quaint basket that is on the table, Franklin stands at fire, and Roger is seated at right.