Early next morning the sergeant, at the British headquarters in
the Town Hall, unlocks the door of a little empty panelled
waiting room, and invites Judith to enter. She has had a bad
night, probably a rather delirious one; for even in the reality
of the raw morning, her fixed gaze comes back at moments when her
attention is not strongly held.
The sergeant considers that her feelings do her credit, and is
sympathetic in an encouraging military way. Being a fine figure
of a man, vain of his uniform and of his rank, he feels specially
qualified, in a respectful way, to console her.
You can have a quiet word with him here, mum.
No, mum, not a minute. We kep him in the Bridewell for
the night; and he's just been brought over here for the court
martial. Don't fret, mum: he slep like a child, and has made a
rare good breakfast.
Tip top, mum. The chaplain looked in to see him last
night; and he won seventeen shillings off him at spoil five. He
spent it among us like the gentleman he is. Duty's duty, mum, of
course; but you're among friends here. [The tramp of a couple of
soldiers is heard approaching.] There: I think he's coming.
[Richard comes in, without a sign of care or captivity in his
bearing. The sergeant nods to the two soldiers, and shows them
the key of the room in his hand. They withdraw.] Your good lady,
RICHARD[going to her]
What! My wife. My adored one. [He takes
her hand and kisses it with a perverse, raffish gallantry.] How
long do you allow a brokenhearted husband for leave-taking,
As long as we can, sir. We shall not disturb you till
the court sits.
So it has, sir; but there's a delay. General Burgoyne's
just arrived--Gentlemanly Johnny we call him, sir--and he won't
have done finding fault with everything this side of half past. I
know him, sir: I served with him in Portugal. You may count on
twenty minutes, sir; and by your leave I won't waste any more of
them. [He goes out, locking the door. Richard immediately drops
his raffish manner and turns to Judith with considerate
Mrs. Anderson: this visit is very kind of you. And how
are you after last night? I had to leave you before you
recovered; but I sent word to Essie to go and look after you. Did
she understand the message?
JUDITH[breathless and urgent]
Oh, don't think of me: I haven't
come here to talk about myself. Are they going to--to--[meaning
"to hang you"]?
At noon, punctually. At least, that was
when they disposed of Uncle Peter. [She shudders.] Is your
husband safe? Is he on the wing?
Oh, why will you not be simple with me--honest and
straightforward? If you are so selfish as that, why did you let
them take you last night?
Upon my life, Mrs. Anderson, I don't know. I've
been asking myself that question ever since; and I can find no
manner of reason for acting as I did.
You know you did it for his sake, believing he was a more
worthy man than yourself.
Oho! No: that's a very pretty reason, I must
say; but I'm not so modest as that. No: it wasn't for his sake.
JUDITH[after a pause, during which she looks shamefacedly at
him, blushing painfully]
Was it for my sake?
Well, you had a hand in it. It must have
been a little for your sake. You let them take me, at all events.
Oh, do you think I have not been telling myself that all
night? Your death will be at my door. [Impulsively, she gives him
her hand, and adds, with intense earnestness] If I could save you
as you saved him, I would do it, no matter how cruel the death
RICHARD[holding her hand and smiling, but keeping her almost at
I am very sure I shouldn't let you.
JUDITH[disengaging her hand to touch his lips with it]
[meaning "Don't jest"]. No: by telling the Court who you really
No use: they wouldn't spare me; and it would
spoil half of his chance of escaping. They are determined to cow
us by making an example of somebody on that gallows to-day. Well,
let us cow them by showing that we can stand by one another to
the death. That is the only force that can send Burgoyne back
across the Atlantic and make America a nation.
Oh, what does all that matter?
True: what does it matter? what does anything
matter? You see, men have these strange notions, Mrs. Anderson;
and women see the folly of them.
Women have to lose those they love through them.
Oh! [Vehemently] Do you realise that you are
going to kill yourself?
The only man I have any right to kill, Mrs. Anderson.
Don't be concerned: no woman will lose her lover through my
death. [Smiling] Bless you, nobody cares for me. Have you heard
that my mother is dead?
Of heart disease--in the night. Her last word to me was
her curse: I don't think I could have borne her blessing. My
other relatives will not grieve much on my account. Essie will
cry for a day or two; but I have provided for her: I made my own
will last night.
RICHARD[gaily and bluntly]
Not a scrap. Oh, you expressed your
feelings towards me very frankly yesterday. What happened may
have softened you for the moment; but believe me, Mrs. Anderson,
you don't like a bone in my skin or a hair on my head. I shall be
as good a riddance at 12 today as I should have been at 12
JUDITH[her voice trembling]
What can I do to show you that you
Don't trouble. I'll give you credit for liking me a
little better than you did. All I say is that my death will not
break your heart.
JUDITH[almost in a whisper]
How do you know? [She puts her
hands on his shoulders and looks intently at him.]
RICHARD[amazed--divining the truth]
Mrs. Anderson!!! [The bell
of the town clock strikes the quarter. He collects himself, and
removes her hands, saying rather coldly] Excuse me: they will be
here for me presently. It is too late.
It is not too late. Call me as witness: they will never
kill you when they know how heroically you have acted.
RICHARD[with some scorn]
Indeed! But if I don't go through with
it, where will the heroism be? I shall simply have tricked them;
and they'll hang me for that like a dog. Serve me right too!
Then why not try to save yourself? I implore you--listen.
You said just now that you saved him for my sake--yes [clutching
him as he recoils with a gesture of denial]a little for my sake.
Well, save yourself for my sake. And I will go with you to the
end of the world.
RICHARD[taking her by the wrists and holding her a little way
from him, looking steadily at her]
If I said--to please you--that I did what I did ever so
little for your sake, I lied as men always lie to women. You know
how much I have lived with worthless men--aye, and worthless
women too. Well, they could all rise to some sort of goodness and
kindness when they were in love. [The word love comes from him
with true Puritan scorn.] That has taught me to set very little
store by the goodness that only comes out red hot. What I did
last night, I did in cold blood, caring not half so much for your
husband, or [ruthlessly] for you [she droops, stricken] as I do
for myself. I had no motive and no interest: all I can tell you
is that when it came to the point whether I would take my neck
out of the noose and put another man's into it, I could not do
it. I don't know why not: I see myself as a fool for my pains;
but I could not and I cannot. I have been brought up standing by
the law of my own nature; and I may not go against it, gallows or
no gallows. [She has slowly raised her head and is now looking
full at him.] I should have done the same for any other man in
the town, or any other man's wife. [Releasing her.] Do you
Quite ready, Sergeant. Now, my dear. [He attempts to
JUDITH[clinging to him]
Only one thing more--I entreat, I
implore you. Let me be present in the court. I have seen Major
Swindon: he said I should be allowed if you asked it. You will
ask it. It is my last request: I shall never ask you anything
again. [She clasps his knee.] I beg and pray it of you.
RICHARD[taking her arm to lift her]
Just--her other arm,
They go out, she sobbing convulsively, supported by the two men.
Meanwhile, the Council Chamber is ready for the court martial. It
is a large, lofty room, with a chair of state in the middle under
a tall canopy with a gilt crown, and maroon curtains with the
royal monogram G. R. In front of the chair is a table, also
draped in maroon, with a bell, a heavy inkstand, and writing
materials on it. Several chairs are set at the table. The door is
at the right hand of the occupant of the chair of state when it
has an occupant: at present it is empty. Major Swindon, a pale,
sandy-haired, very conscientious looking man of about 45, sits at
the end of the table with his back to the door, writing. He is
alone until the sergeant announces the General in a subdued
manner which suggests that Gentlemanly Johnny has been making his
presence felt rather heavily.
Swindon rises hastily. The General comes in. the sergeant goes
out. General Burgoyne is 55, and very well preserved. He is a man
of fashion, gallant enough to have made a distinguished marriage
by an elopement, witty enough to write successful comedies,
aristocratically-connected enough to have had opportunities of
high military distinction. His eyes, large, brilliant,
apprehensive, and intelligent, are his most remarkable feature:
without them his fine nose and small mouth would suggest rather
more fastidiousness and less force than go to the making of a
first rate general. Just now the eyes are angry and tragic, and
the mouth and nostrils tense.
Yes. General Burgoyne, if I mistake not. [They bow to
one another ceremoniously.] I am glad to have the support of your
presence this morning. It is not particularly lively business,
hanging this poor devil of a minister.
BURGOYNE[throwing himself onto Swindon's chair]
No, sir, it is
not. It is making too much of the fellow to execute him: what
more could you have done if he had been a member of the Church of
England? Martyrdom, sir, is what these people like: it is the
only way in which a man can become famous without ability.
However, you have committed us to hanging him: and the sooner he
is hanged the better.
We have arranged it for 12 o'clock. Nothing remains to
be done except to try him.
BURGOYNE[looking at him with suppressed anger]
to save our own necks, perhaps. Have you heard the news from
Nothing special. The latest reports are satisfactory.
BURGOYNE[rising in amazement]
Satisfactory, sir! Satisfactory!!
[He stares at him for a moment, and then adds, with grim
intensity] I am glad you take that view of them.
Do I understand that in your opinion---
I do not express my opinion. I never stoop to that
habit of profane language which unfortunately coarsens our
profession. If I did, sir, perhaps I should be able to express my
opinion of the news from Springtown--the news which you[severely] have apparently not heard. How soon do you get news
from your supports here?--in the course of a month eh?
I suppose the reports have been taken to
you, sir, instead of to me. Is there anything serious?
BURGOYNE[taking a report from his pocket and holding it up]
Springtown's in the hands of the rebels. [He throws the report on
Since two o'clock this morning. Perhaps we shall be in
their hands before two o'clock to-morrow morning. Have you
thought of that?
As to that, General, the British soldier
will give a good account of himself.
And therefore, I suppose, sir, the British
officer need not know his business: the British soldier will get
him out of all his blunders with the bayonet. In future, sir, I
must ask you to be a little less generous with the blood of your
men, and a little more generous with your own brains.
I am sorry I cannot pretend to your intellectual
eminence, sir. I can only do my best, and rely on the devotion of
BURGOYNE[suddenly becoming suavely sarcastic]
May I ask are you
writing a melodrama, Major Swindon?
What a pity! What a pity! [Dropping his sarcastic tone
and facing him suddenly and seriously] Do you at all realize,
sir, that we have nothing standing between us and destruction but
our own bluff and the sheepishness of these colonists? They are
men of the same English stock as ourselves: six to one of us
[repeating it emphatically], six to one, sir; and nearly half our
troops are Hessians, Brunswickers, German dragoons, and Indians
with scalping knives. These are the countrymen on whose devotion
you rely! Suppose the colonists find a leader! Suppose the news
from Springtown should turn out to mean that they have already
found a leader! What shall we do then? Eh?
BURGOYNE[again sarcastic--giving him up as a fool]
quite so. Thank you, Major Swindon, thank you. Now you've settled
the question, sir--thrown a flood of light on the situation. What
a comfort to me to feel that I have at my side so devoted and
able an officer to support me in this emergency! I think, sir, it
will probably relieve both our feelings if we proceed to hang
this dissenter without further delay [he strikes the bell],
especially as I am debarred by my principles from the customary
military vent for my feelings. [The sergeant appears.] Bring your
And mention to any officer you may meet that the court
cannot wait any longer for him.
SWINDON[keeping his temper with difficulty]
The staff is
perfectly ready, sir. They have been waiting your convenience for
fully half an hour. Perfectly ready, sir.
So am I. [Several officers come in and take
their seats. One of them sits at the end of the table furthest
from the door, and acts throughout as clerk to the court,
making notes of the proceedings. The uniforms are those of
the 9th, 2Oth, 21st, 24th, 47th, 53rd, and 62nd British Infantry.
One officer is a Major General of the Royal Artillery. There
are also German officers of the Hessian Rifles, and of German
dragoon and Brunswicker regiments.] Oh, good morning, gentlemen.
Sorry to disturb you, I am sure. Very good of you to spare us a
BURGOYNE[becoming additionally, polished, lofty, sarcastic
and urbane now that he is in public]
No, sir: I feel my own
deficiencies too keenly to presume so far. If you will kindly
allow me, I will sit at the feet of Gamaliel. [He takes the
chair at the end of the table next the door, and motions Swindon
to the chair of state, waiting for him to be seated before
As you please, sir. I am only trying
to do my duty under excessively trying circumstances. [He takes
his place in the chair of state.]
Burgoyne, relaxing his studied demeanor for the moment, sits down
and begins to read the report with knitted brows and careworn
looks, reflecting on his desperate situation and Swindon's
uselessness. Richard is brought in. Judith walks beside him. Two
soldiers precede and two follow him, with the sergeant in
command. They cross the room to the wall opposite the door; but
when Richard has just passed before the chair of state the
sergeant stops him with a touch on the arm, and posts himself
behind him, at his elbow. Judith stands timidly at the wall. The
four soldiers place themselves in a squad near her.
BURGOYNE[looking up and seeing Judith]
Who is that woman?
Burgoyne is boundlessly delighted by this retort, which almost
reconciles him to the loss of America.
SWINDON[whitening with anger]
I advise you not to be insolent,
You can't help yourself, General. When you make up your
mind to hang a man, you put yourself at a disadvantage with him.
Why should I be civil to you? I may as well be hanged for a sheep
as a lamb.
You have no right to assume that the court has made up
its mind without a fair trial. And you will please not address me
as General. I am Major Swindon.
A thousand pardons. I thought I had the honor of
addressing Gentlemanly Johnny.
Sensation among the officers. The sergeant has a narrow escape
from a guffaw.
BURGOYNE[with extreme suavity]
I believe I am Gentlemanly
Johnny, sir, at your service. My more intimate friends call me
General Burgoyne. [Richard bows with perfect politeness.] You
will understand, sir, I hope, since you seem to be a gentleman
and a man of some spirit in spite of your calling, that if we
should have the misfortune to hang you, we shall do so as a mere
matter of political necessity and military duty, without any
Oh, quite so. That makes all the difference in the
world, of course.
They all smile in spite of themselves: and some of the younger
officers burst out laughing.
JUDITH[her dread and horror deepening at every one of these
jests and compliments]
How can you?
BURGOYNE[to Judith, with studied courtesy]
Believe me, madam,
your husband is placing us under the greatest obligation by
taking this very disagreeable business so thoroughly in the
spirit of a gentleman. Sergeant: give Mr. Anderson a chair. [The
sergeant does so. Richard sits down.] Now, Major Swindon: we are
waiting for you.
You are aware, I presume, Mr. Anderson, of your
obligations as a subject of His Majesty King George the Third.
I am aware, sir, that His Majesty King George the Third
is about to hang me because I object to Lord North's robbing me.
BURGOYNE[strongly deprecating this line of defence, but still
Don't you think, Mr. Anderson, that this is rather--if
you will excuse the word--a vulgar line to take? Why should you
cry out robbery because of a stamp duty and a tea duty and so
forth? After all, it is the essence of your position as a
gentleman that you pay with a good grace.
It is not the money, General. But to be swindled by a
pig-headed lunatic like King George
Ah, that is another point of view. My
position does not allow of my going into that, except in private.
But [shrugging his shoulders] of course, Mr. Anderson, if you are
determined to be hanged [Judith flinches], there's nothing more
to be said. An unusual taste! however [with a final shrug]--!
What need is there of witnesses? If the townspeople here
had listened to me, you would have found the streets barricaded,
the houses loopholed, and the people in arms to hold the town
against you to the last man. But you arrived, unfortunately,
before we had got out of the talking stage; and then it was too
Well, sir, we shall teach you and your
townspeople a lesson they will not forget. Have you anything more
I think you might have the decency to treat me as a
prisoner of war, and shoot me like a man instead of hanging me
like a dog.
Now there, Mr. Anderson, you talk
like a civilian, if you will excuse my saying so. Have you any
idea of the average marksmanship of the army of His Majesty King
George the Third? If we make you up a firing party, what will
happen? Half of them will miss you: the rest will make a mess of
the business and leave you to the provo-marshal's pistol. Whereas
we can hang you in a perfectly workmanlike and agreeable way.
[Kindly] Let me persuade you to be hanged, Mr. Anderson?
If I am not to speak, you must. Defend yourself: save
yourself: tell them the truth.
I have told them truth enough to hang me ten
times over. If you say another word you will risk other lives;
but you will not save mine.
My good lady, our only desire is to save
unpleasantness. What satisfaction would it give you to have a
solemn fuss made, with my friend Swindon in a black cap and so
forth? I am sure we are greatly indebted to the admirable tact
and gentlemanly feeling shown by your husband.
JUDITH[throwing the words in his face]
Oh, you are mad. Is it
nothing to you what wicked thing you do if only you do it like a
gentleman? Is it nothing to you whether you are a murderer or
not, if only you murder in a red coat? [Desperately] You shall
not hang him: that man is not my husband.
The officers look at one another, and whisper: some of the
Germans asking their neighbors to explain what the woman has
said. Burgoyne, who has been visibly shaken by Judith's reproach,
recovers himself promptly at this new development. Richard
meanwhile raises his voice above the buzz.
I appeal to you, gentlemen, to put an end to this. She
will not believe that she cannot save me. Break up the court.
BURGOYNE[in a voice so quiet and firm that it restores silence
One moment, Mr. Anderson. One moment, gentlemen. [He
resumes his seat. Swindon and the officers follow his example.]
Let me understand you clearly, madam. Do you mean that this
gentleman is not your husband, or merely--I wish to put this with
all delicacy--that you are not his wife?
I don't know what you mean. I say that he is not my
husband--that my husband has escaped. This man took his place to
save him. Ask anyone in the town--send out into the street for
the first person you find there, and bring him in as a witness.
He will tell you that the prisoner is not Anthony Anderson.
Yah! [To Christy] He wants to know am I
Minister Anderson. Tell him, and stop grinning like a zany.
CHRISTY[grinning more than ever] You Pastor Anderson! [To
Swindon] Why, Mr. Anderson's a minister---a very good man; and
Dick's a bad character: the respectable people won't speak to
him. He's the bad brother: I'm the good one, [The officers laugh
outright. The soldiers grin.]
Get out. Get out, you blithering baboon,
you. [Christy flies, panicstricken.]
Since you have taken the minister's
place, Richard Dudgeon, you shall go through with it. The
execution will take place at 12 o'clock as arranged; and unless
Anderson surrenders before then you shall take his place on the
gallows. Sergeant: take your man out.
SWINDON[fiercely, dreading a renewal of her entreaties]
that woman away.
RICHARD[springing across the table with a tiger-like bound, and
seizing Swindon by the throat]
You infernal scoundrel
The sergeant rushes to the rescue from one side, the soldiers
from the other. They seize Richard and drag him back to his
place. Swindon, who has been thrown supine on the table, rises,
arranging his stock. He is about to speak, when he is anticipated
by Burgoyne, who has just appeared at the door with two papers in
his hand: a white letter and a blue dispatch.
BURGOYNE[advancing to the table, elaborately cool]
this? What's happening? Mr. Anderson: I'm astonished at you.
I am sorry I disturbed you, General. I merely wanted to
strangle your understrapper there. [Breaking out violently at
Swindon] Why do you raise the devil in me by bullying the woman
like that? You oatmeal faced dog, I'd twist your cursed head off
with the greatest satisfaction. [He puts out his hands to the
sergeant] Here: handcuff me, will you; or I'll not undertake to
keep my fingers off him.
The sergeant takes out a pair of handcuffs and looks to Burgoyne
Have you addressed profane language to the lady, Major
No, sir, certainly not. That question
should not have been put to me. I ordered the woman to be
removed, as she was disorderly; and the fellow sprang at me. Put
away those handcuffs. I am perfectly able to take care of myself.
Now you talk like a man, I have no quarrel with you.
Oh, your uncle. [To Swindon, handsomely] I beg your
pardon, Major Swindon. [Swindon acknowledges the apology stiffly.
Burgoyne turns to Richard] We are somewhat unfortunate in our
relations with your family. Well, Mr. Dudgeon, what I wanted to
ask you is this: Who is [reading the name from the letter]
William Maindeck Parshotter?
Ah, indeed. I am sorry. Good morning, Mr. Dudgeon. Good
RICHARD[interrupting Judith almost fiercely as she is about to
make some wild appeal, and taking her arm resolutely]
word more. Come.
She looks imploringly at him, but is overborne by his
determination. They are marched out by the four soldiers: the
sergeant, very sulky, walking between Swindon and Richard, whom
he watches as if he were a dangerous animal.
Gentlemen: we need not detain you. Major Swindon: a
word with you. [The officers go out. Burgoyne waits with
unruffled serenity until the last of them disappears. Then he
becomes very grave, and addresses Swindon for the first time
without his title.] Swindon: do you know what this is [showing
him the letter]?
It is my duty to tell you, sir, that I do not consider
the threats of a mob of rebellious tradesmen a sufficient reason
for our giving way.
Suppose I resign my command to you,
what will you do?
I will undertake to do what we have marched south from
Boston to do, and what General Howe has marched north from New
York to do: effect a junction at Albany and wipe out the rebel
army with our united forces.
And will you wipe out our enemies in
Jobbery and snobbery, incompetence and Red
Tape. [He holds up the dispatch and adds, with despair in his
face and voice] I have just learnt, sir, that General Howe is
still in New York.
Good God! He has disobeyed orders!
BURGOYNE[with sardonic calm]
He has received no orders, sir.
Some gentleman in London forgot to dispatch them: he was leaving
town for his holiday, I believe. To avoid upsetting his
arrangements, England will lose her American colonies; and in a
few days you and I will be at Saratoga with 5,000 men to face
16,000 rebels in an impregnable position.
I can't believe it! What will History say?
History, sir, will tell lies, as usual. Come: we must
send the safe-conduct. [He goes out.]
My God, my God! We shall be
As noon approaches there is excitement in the market place.
The gallows which hangs there permanently for the terror of
evildoers, with such minor advertizers and examples of crime as
the pillory, the whipping post, and the stocks, has a new rope
attached, with the noose hitched up to one of the uprights, out
of reach of the boys. Its ladder, too, has been brought out and
placed in position by the town beadle, who stands by to guard it
from unauthorized climbing. The Websterbridge townsfolk are
present in force, and in high spirits; for the news has spread
that it is the devil's disciple and not the minister that the
Continentals [so they call Burgoyne's forces] are about to hang:
consequently the execution can be enjoyed without any misgiving
as to its righteousness, or to the cowardice of allowing it to
take place without a struggle. There is even some fear of a
disappointment as midday approaches and the arrival of the beadle
with the ladder remains the only sign of preparation. But at last
reassuring shouts of Here they come: Here they are, are heard;
and a company of soldiers with fixed bayonets, half British
infantry, half Hessians, tramp quickly into the middle of the
market place, driving the crowd to the sides.
Halt. Front. Dress. [The soldiers change their column
into a square enclosing the gallows, their petty officers,
energetically led by the sergeant, hustling the persons who find
themselves inside the square out at the corners.] Now then! Out
of it with you: out of it. Some o' you'll get strung up
yourselves presently. Form that square there, will you, you
damned Hoosians. No use talkin' German to them: talk to their
toes with the butt ends of your muskets: they'll understand that.
Get out of it, will you? [He comes upon Judith, standing near the
gallows.] Now then: you've no call here.
I want none of your argufying. You ought to be ashamed
of yourself, running to see a man hanged that's not your husband.
And he's no better than yourself. I told my major he was a
gentleman; and then he goes and tries to strangle him, and calls
his blessed Majesty a lunatic. So out of it with you, double
Will you take these two silver dollars and let me stay?
The sergeant, without an instant's hesitation, looks quickly and
furtively round as he shoots the money dexterously into his
pocket. Then he raises his voice in virtuous indignation.
SERGEANT Me take money in the execution of my duty! Certainly
not. Now I'll tell you what I'll do, to teach you to corrupt the
King's officer. I'll put you under arrest until the execution's
over. You just stand there; and don't let me see you as much as
move from that spot until you're let. [With a swift wink at her
he points to the corner of the square behind the gallows on his
right, and turns noisily away, shouting] Now then dress up and
keep 'em back, will you?
Cries of Hush and Silence are heard among the townsfolk; and the
sound of a military band, playing the Dead March from Saul, is
heard. The crowd becomes quiet at once; and the sergeant and
petty officers, hurrying to the back of the square, with a few
whispered orders and some stealthy hustling cause it to open and
admit the funeral procession, which is protected from the crowd
by a double file of soldiers. First come Burgoyne and Swindon,
who, on entering the square, glance with distaste at the gallows,
and avoid passing under it by wheeling a little to the right and
stationing themselves on that side. Then Mr. Brudenell, the
chaplain, in his surplice, with his prayer book open in his hand,
walking beside Richard, who is moody and disorderly. He walks
doggedly through the gallows framework, and posts himself a
little in front of it. Behind him comes the executioner, a
stalwart soldier in his shirtsleeves. Following him, two soldiers
haul a light military waggon. Finally comes the band, which posts
itself at the back of the square, and finishes the Dead March.
Judith, watching Richard painfully, steals down to the gallows,
and stands leaning against its right post. During the
conversation which follows, the two soldiers place the cart under
the gallows, and stand by the shafts, which point backwards. The
executioner takes a set of steps from the cart and places it
ready for the prisoner to mount. Then he climbs the tall ladder
which stands against the gallows, and cuts the string by which
the rope is hitched up; so that the noose drops dangling over the
cart, into which he steps as he descends.
RICHARD[with suppressed impatience, to Brudenell]
sir: this is no place for a man of your profession. Hadn't you
better go away?
I appeal to you, prisoner, if you have any sense of
decency left, to listen to the ministrations of the chaplain, and
pay due heed to the solemnity of the occasion.
THE CHAPLAIN [gently reproving Richard]
Try to control yourself,
and submit to the divine will. [He lifts his book to proceed with
Answer for your own will, sir, and those of your
accomplices here [indicating Burgoyne and Swindon]: I see little
divinity about them or you. You talk to me of Christianity when
you are in the act of hanging your enemies. Was there ever such
blasphemous nonsense! [To Swindon, more rudely] You've got up the
solemnity of the occasion, as you call it, to impress the people
with your own dignity--Handel's music and a clergyman to make
murder look like piety! Do you suppose I am going to help you?
You've asked me to choose the rope because you don't know your
own trade well enough to shoot me properly. Well, hang away and
have done with it.
SWINDON[to the chaplain]
Can you do nothing with him, Mr.
I will try, sir. [Beginning to read] Man that is born
of woman hath--
RICHARD[fixing his eyes on him]
"Thou shalt not kill."
BURGOYNE[with extreme urbanity]
I think, Mr. Brudenell, that as
the usual professional observations seem to strike Mr. Dudgeon as
incongruous under the circumstances, you had better omit them
until--er--until Mr. Dudgeon can no longer be inconvenienced by
them. [Brudenell, with a shrug, shuts his book and retires behind
the gallows.]You seem in a hurry, Mr. Dudgeon.
RICHARD[with the horror of death upon him]
Do you think this is
a pleasant sort of thing to be kept waiting for? You've made up
your mind to commit murder: well, do it and have done with it.
BURGOYNE[with much charm of manner]
Ah, I am really sorry that
you should think that, Mr. Dudgeon. If you knew what my
commission cost me, and what my pay is, you would think better of
me. I should be glad to part from you on friendly terms.
Hark ye, General Burgoyne. If you think that I like
being hanged, you're mistaken. I don't like it; and I don't mean
to pretend that I do. And if you think I'm obliged to you for
hanging me in a gentlemanly way, you're wrong there too. I take
the whole business in devilish bad part; and the only
satisfaction I have in it is that you'll feel a good deal meaner
than I'll look when it's over. [He turns away, and is striding to
the cart when Judith advances and interposes with her arms
stretched out to him. Richard, feeling that a very little will
upset his self-possession, shrinks from her, crying] What are you
doing here? This is no place for you. [She makes a gesture as if
to touch him. He recoils impatiently.] No: go away, go away;
you'll unnerve me. Take her away, will you?
RICHARD[allowing her to take his hand]
Oh good-bye, good-bye.
Now go--go--quickly. [She clings to his hand--will not be put off
with so cold a last farewell--at last, as he tries to disengage
himself, throws herself on his breast in agony.]
SWINDON[angrily to the sergeant, who, alarmed at Judith's
movement, has come from the back of the square to pull her back,
and stopped irresolutely on finding that he is too late]
this? Why is she inside the lines?
I dunno, sir. She's that artful can't keep
RICHARD[imploringly to those around him, and finally to
Burgoyne, as the least stolid of them]
Take her away. Do you
think I want a woman near me now?
BURGOYNE[going to Judith and taking her hand]
Here, madam: you
had better keep inside the lines; but stand here behind us; and
Richard, with a great sobbing sigh of relief as she releases him
and turns to Burgoyne, flies for refuge to the cart and mounts
into it. The executioner takes off his coat and pinions him.
JUDITH[resisting Burgoyne quietly and drawing her hand
No: I must stay. I won't look. [She goes to the
right of the gallows. She tries to look at Richard, but turns
away with a frightful shudder, and falls on her knees in prayer.
Brudenell comes towards her from the back of the square.]
BURGOYNE[nodding approvingly as she kneels]
Ah, quite so. Do
not disturb her, Mr. Brudenell: that will do very nicely.
[Brudenell nods also, and withdraws a little, watching her
sympathetically. Burgoyne resumes his former position, and takes
out a handsome gold chronometer.] Now then, are those
preparations made? We must not detain Mr. Dudgeon.
By this time Richard's hands are bound behind him; and the noose
is round his neck. The two soldiers take the shaft of the wagon,
ready to pull it away. The executioner, standing in the cart
behind Richard, makes a sign to the sergeant.
Have you anything more to say, Mr. Dudgeon? It wants
two minutes of twelve still.
RICHARD[in the strong voice of a man who has conquered the
bitterness of death]
Your watch is two minutes slow by the town
clock, which I can see from here, General. [The town clock
strikes the first stroke of twelve. Involuntarily the people
flinch at the sound, and a subdued groan breaks from them.] Amen!
my life for the world's future!
ANDERSON[shouting as he rushes into the market place]
stop the execution. [He bursts through the line of soldiers
opposite Burgoyne, and rushes, panting, to the gallows.] I am
Anthony Anderson, the man you want.
The crowd, intensely excited, listens with all its ears. Judith,
half rising, stares at him; then lifts her hands like one whose
dearest prayer has been granted.
Indeed. Then you are just in time to take your place on
the gallows. Arrest him.
At a sign from the sergeant, two soldiers come forward to seize
ANDERSON[thrusting a paper under Swindon's nose]
I am, sir; and I am humane enough to be glad
of it. [Richard jumps down from the cart, Brudenell offering his
hand to help him, and runs to Anderson, whose left hand he shakes
heartily, the right being occupied by Judith.] By the way, Mr.
Anderson, I do not quite understand. The safe-conduct was for a
commander of the militia. I understand you are a--[he looks as
pointedly as his good manners permit at the riding boots, the
pistols, and Richard's coat, and adds] a clergyman.
ANDERSON[between Judith and Richard]
Sir: it is in the hour of
trial that a man finds his true profession. This foolish young
man [placing his hand on Richard's shoulder] boasted himself the
Devil's Disciple; but when the hour of trial came to him, he
found that it was his destiny to suffer and be faithful to the
death. I thought myself a decent minister of the gospel of peace;
but when the hour of trial came to me, I found that it was my
destiny to be a man of action and that my place was amid the
thunder of the captains and the shouting. So I am starting life
at fifty as Captain Anthony Anderson of the Springtown militia;
and the Devil's Disciple here will start presently as the
Reverend Richard Dudgeon, and wag his pow in my old pulpit, and
give good advice to this silly sentimental little wife of mine
[putting his other hand on her shoulder. She steals a glance at
Richard to see how the prospect pleases him]. Your mother told
me, Richard, that I should never have chosen Judith if I'd been
born for the ministry. I am afraid she was right; so, by your
leave, you may keep my coat and I'll keep yours.
Minister--I should say Captain. I have behaved like a
Much the same thing, perhaps. [With some bitterness
towards himself] But no: if I had been any good, I should have
done for you what you did for me, instead of making a vain
Not vain, my boy. It takes all sorts to make a world
--saints as well as soldiers. [Turning to Burgoyne] And now,
General, time presses; and America is in a hurry. Have you
realized that though you may occupy towns and win battles, you
cannot conquer a nation?
My good sir, without a Conquest you cannot have an
aristocracy. Come and settle the matter at my quarters.
At your service, sir. [To Richard] See Judith home for
me, will you, my boy? [He hands her over to him.] Now General.
[He goes busily up the market place towards the Town Hall,
Leaving Judith and Richard together. Burgoyne follows him a step
or two; then checks himself and turns to Richard.]
Oh, by the way, Mr. Dudgeon, I shall be glad to see you
at lunch at half-past one. [He pauses a moment, and adds, with
politely veiled slyness] Bring Mrs. Anderson, if she will be so
good. [To Swindon, who is fuming] Take it quietly, Major Swindon:
your friend the British soldier can stand up to anything except
the British War Office. [He follows Anderson.]
Orders! What use are orders now? There's no
army. Back to quarters; and be d-- [He tunes on his heel and
SERGEANT[pugnacious and patriotic, repudiating the idea of
'Tention. Now then: cock up your chins, and show'em you
don't care a damn for 'em. Slope arms! Fours! Wheel! Quick march!
The drum marks time with a tremendous bang; the band strikes up
British Grenadiers; and the sergeant, Brudenell, and the English
troops march off defiantly to their quarters. The townsfolk press
in behind, and follow them up the market, jeering at them; and
the town band, a very primitive affair, brings up the rear,
playing Yankee Doodle. Essie, who comes in with them, runs to
RICHARD[good-humoredly, but wilfully]
Now, now: come, come! I
don't mind being hanged; but I will not be cried over.
No, I promise. I'll be good. [She tries to restrain her
tears, but cannot.] I--I want to see where the soldiers are going
to. [She goes a little way up the market, pretending to look
after the crowd.]