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[p. 36]

Abigail. I reckon he was stirring up trouble for your master, Colonel Royall, old Belinda. You'd have thought so if you'd seen all the windows with candles in them in the middle of the night, and mother melting bullets and the men come running in, their flintlocks in their hands. And then in the early dawn my brave father marching away at the head of our minutemen. (Distant crack of gun or cannon.)

Belinda (starting). Guns, guns acrackina! War, war, dona you hear de war beginnina?

Abigail. Surely they must defend themselves, but I heard father say ‘Don't fire unless you are fired upon. We mustn't be first.’

Belinda. More guns. I tell you, chile, I do know this. Dat gallopina horseman, ef he be a man or de Debil, he bring trouble to ole massa. Massa gone away, ride away in his coach and neber come back, neber come back.

Abigail. He'll come home when the fighting's over.

Belinda. Go way cross de sea and neber come back. Trouble, trouble.

Abigail. Here comes the blacksmith that lives by the Royall House, Master Bond. You'd best get him to give you a horseshoe to keep away the Evil One.

Bond (musket in one hand, hammer in the other, looking after Belinda as she exits). If 'twas the old days I believe they'd hang her for a witch, the old Tory. (Sound of distant guns.)

Abigail. Oh! Master Bond, which way be you going, to shoe horses or to fight?

Bond (ignoring her). Either I be deaf with the clanging of my own forge or there be guns up the road. Ia faith, girl, I know not which to do. I'm bound I'll serve the cause.

Abigail. I do believe all the men of the countryside save ye, Master Bond, have gone by our house this morning, hot foot to Lexington, and if I ran out to them they walked by me, as if 1 were a tree. Why don't you go to the fight, Master Bond?

Bond. Why don't I? You'd best run home and read your Mother Goose instead of hanging around the square and talking to your elders. Open it, too, let me tell you, to the page where it says, ‘For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost, for want of a rider the battle—’ (Exit Abigail, shamefacedly.)

Bond (weighing gun and hammer). I'd rather use my gun, and sure 'tis hard for a strong man to see other men all marching off to fight and to stay like a woman at home, going clang, clang on my anvil. (Enter Porter.) Master Porter, what news, I pray you?

Porter. News aplenty. The town is full of news, but how much we may believe that is the trouble. Most certain 'tis there has been fighting, and they say much blood is shed.

Bond. Blood! That will be a red flag to our boys. How many have passed by your tavern today?

Porter. Company after company from the north, and men and boys trailing after them, and farmers on horseback to get in a shot or two, all in a most prodigious hurry.

Bond. And in too great a hurry to stop at the Royal Oak and exchange news.

Porter. I never saw men so hot upon their way, as if every minute counted.

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