THOMAS RIGBY, a tavern-keeper
Young British Lieutenants
SCENE: The tavern known as The Golden Pheasant. Place, Boston.
TIME: Six o’clock on a December evening, 1773.
The tavern-room is low-ceilinged and wainscoted with
There is a door in middle background, and windows on each side of it.
At the right, towards foreground, a chimney-place, with smoldering fire. Above is a shelf on which are iron candlesticks and short bits of candles that show economy. Against the right wall a round mahogany table. On it another iron candlestick, which has been lighted. A punch-bowl. Cups. A ladle. Also a brass bowl beneath which a small charcoal flame burns, keeping hot the lemonade. Beyond this table a dark wooden chest with a heavy lock. Under the window in left background a similar chest.
By the hearth, facing audience, a long seat with a high back and pew-like ends. At the rise of the curtain, Thomas Rigby, the rubicund landlord, is lighting with a taper the candles that stand on the mantelshelf, the buttons on his plum-colored waistcoat twinkling in the gleam. He has only lighted one when the door is pushed open, and there enter two young British lieutenants, mere lads, whose scarlet cloaks, exaggerated lace wrist ruffles, and brilliant gold braiding make a fine showing. But Thomas Rigby shows no look of welcome.
Hey, landlord! Brrrr! It’s cold! Give us something to warm us.
PENROSE (foppishly). Aye, and be brisk about it. I do not wish to be served in a loitering fashion.
[Rigby makes as if to speak; but restrains himself, and, with a look of quiet scorn, serves them hot lemon punch. Penrose is by the fire. Marsh by the window.
It promises to be a chilly eve after a cloudy morning.
(with a shiver).
More snow and bitter weather!
MARSH (looking out the window). Nay, not so bitter. The window-panes are clear and unfrosted. The twilight gathers quickly. The streets are gray, and there’s scarce a gleam in the darkness of the harbor.
PENROSE (as Marsh leaves window for fire). Not e’en a light in the rigging o’ Francis Rotch’s ships? The sailors must be supping at the taverns. They’re weary now of staying harborbound. There’ll be rejoicing when the tax is paid, and the stiff-necked Yankees bring the tea to land.
MARSH. There be some who call themselves patriots, and swear they’ll never pay it.
PENROSE (sipping). Not pay it? They’ll defy us? Pooh! We could bring them to time with a twist of the wrist did we but wish to! (Looking with approval at his own apparel.) A mere handful of men with scarcely any lace for their ruffles, and tarnished buckles for their shoes! They defy us? You’re jesting! No, no, my dear Sidney! In spite of all their protests and town meetings they’ll be glad enough to give in at the end, and to pay the tax right speedily. For, mark you, in spite of all the rumors of defiance that we’ve heard, the town to-night lies as quiet as a church.