Foreword.The Medford Historical Society, in its recognition of the Nineteenth of April, 1927, attempted to visualize the life in this town on that famous day in 1775. The two pageant-plays, as they may be called, are based on historic fact and well-grounded tradition, and embody in dramatic form the excitement, confusion and life of the day. The first is called ‘The Tavern in the Square,’ and is supposed to take place near the Royal Oak tavern shortly before noon. For the sake of dramatic brevity the events of the next three or four hours are condensed into a short play. The second is called ‘The Roadside Farm,’ and has for its background the home of the Rev. Edward Brooks, which stood on the west side of Grove street, West Medford, and the time is late in the same afternoon. [p. 32] The historic facts on which the plays are based are as follows: Medford was the first stop of the rider Paul Revere, who notified Captain Isaac Hall. It is not known when the Medford minutemen left, but they undoubtedly sent another rider to Malden, and tradition says that they engaged the British at Merriam's corner near Concord. Other unorganized volunteers followed in their wake, among them Henry Putnam, in 1758 a lieutenant in the Louisburg campaign and past the age of military service. Seizing the flintlock as his wife asked if he were going without his dinner, he answered, ‘I am going to take powder and balls for my dinner today, or give them some.’ Another was the Rev. Edward Brooks. From his house opposite the old slave wall on the western side of Grove street he too went to Lexington, and with fullbottomed wig, rode on horseback, his gun on his shoulder. From the garret window of that house his son Peter listened to the guns at Menotomy and saw them glistening in the sun. As the day wore on armed provincials from other towns trooped through the square.1 The road between Medford and Salem was the highway leading to the country northeast of Boston. Seventy-six men from Malden, with drums beating, marched to Medford under orders to proceed to Watertown. Near Cradock bridge the company halted while the whereabouts of the British was verified, and then at noon proceeded through the town to Menotomy. At some hour of the morning thirty-eight men from Lynn marched through Medford. The word reached Salem and Danvers at about nine o'clock in the morning of the nineteenth. The Danvers men, three hundred and thirty-one of them, without waiting for a full regiment set off at nine o'clock. Before noon they came striding through Medford, and in four hours did the march of sixteen miles to Menotomy. There seven of their young men were killed. [p. 33] The day, in the meantime, had become very warm and dry, for the season was so advanced that along the wayside was the waving grass of summer. Over the same route, in the afternoon, as far as the square, came three hundred men from Salem. They turned down the Charlestown road where, as they reached the top of Winter hill at the edge of early evening, they witnessed the running fight upon the exhausted British. To the minutemen Abigail Brooks, wife of the Rev. Edward Brooks, served chocolate. At nightfall her husband came back, bringing on his own horse Lieutenant Gould of the King's Own, who, wounded in the ankle at Concord, was proceeding in a chaise to Boston when he was captured by the old men of Menotomy. In Medford he wrote, ‘I am now treated with the greatest humanity and taken all possible care of.’ He remained as captive and guest with the Brookses until his wound was healed and he was exchanged. In addition to the minutemen there were many ‘embattled farmers’ who must have passed through Medford to the fight. Lieut. Frederick Mackenzie,2 who has given the only contemporary account of the battle, and who was in the Welsh Fusileers, reports that many farmers rode within a short distance of the fighting, tied their horses and crept near enough to the moving column to get in a few shots and then went back to their horses, rode along again until they came abreast the column, dismounted, hitched, fired, and returned, repeating the same tactics until their ammunition was exhausted. The characters are historic, and patterned as closely after the originals as knowledge will permit. Jonathan Porter, the innkeeper, was from Malden only two years before. His tavern had been the resort of British officers, but after the battle of Lexington he changed the name of the Royal Oak to Porter's Tavern. The original sign is still in existence, with bullet holes said to have been caused by minutemen returning from [p. 34] Lexington. Porter himself later enlisted in the Continental army and contributed money to the cause. Abigail was a thirteen-year-old daughter of Capt. Isaac Hall. Belinda was an old slave of Colonel Royall, who later memorialized the legislature for compensation. Harry Bond was a Scotch-Irish blacksmith who had a shop at the corner of Mystic avenue, at which gathered the patriots to discuss the news of the Royalls and the Tories. Bond was killed at the battle of Bunker hill. Stephen Hall, a man of seventy, was on the Committee of Correspondence, a prominent business man who helped finance the colonial cause. Dr. Simon Tufts, the town doctor, was a great friend of Colonel Royall and executor of his estate during his absence. He tended the wounded brought back from Bunker hill. Sarah Bradlee Fulton was the leading woman patriot of Medford. She helped disguise her husband and friends as Indians for the Boston teaparty, and tended the wounded after Bunker hill. When Washington wanted a dispatch sent to Boston she walked by night to Charlestown, rowed herself across the river, delivered her message safely and returned by morning to her home. In the second play Mrs. Putnam is the wife of Henry Putnam who was killed at Lexington. Nancy and Mercy Brooks are the eighteen-and twelve-year-old nieces of Abigail, who lived in the house behind the slave wall on the east side of Grove street. Abigail Brooks is another heroic figure, who not only ministered to the minutemen, but who, after the death of her husband, a victim to his patriotism, brought up her family with rare management, and has among her descendants Phillips Brooks, Francis Parkman and Peter Chardon Brooks.
The Tavern in the square.
Scene, Medford square, before Royal Oak Tavern. afternoon, April 19, 1775.
Characters in order of entrance.Belinda. Old colored woman in service of Isaac Royall. Abigail. Thirteen-year-old daughter of Capt. Isaac Hall. Harry Bond. Blacksmith from Mystic Avenue. Scotch-Irish; killed at Bunker Hill; patriots met and discussed at his home. Jonathan Porter, proprietor of Royal Oak Tavern. Twenty-seven years old; came to Medford from Malden, 1773; commissioned second lieutenant, 1776. Stephen Hall. Seventy-one years old; called Honorable and Gentleman; served in legislature and on committee of advice. Sarah Bradlee Fulton. Aged twenty-three; energetic, patriotic woman; carried despatches to Boston by order of Washington; assisted in disguising husband and brothers for Boston Tea Party. Dr. Simon Tufts. Forty-eight years old; representative to General Court, 1772-1775; trusted friend and trustee of Isaac Royall; attended wounded soldiers after Bunker Hill. Minuteman. Enter Belinda carrying basket. Spies about her. Enter Abigail Hall, following her curiously about. Abigail. What are you looking for, Belinda? Belinda. Sh, sh, sh! Abigail. What are you looking for? Belinda (coming close to her). De Ebil One. Abigail. The Ebil One? Belinda. Didn't you hear him aridina by de house de odder night? I done wake up in de night and de moon was shinina all along de road, and bimeby I heer a thumpety thump, thumpety thump, and a horse's hoofs cam thuddina up de street from Boston town. Thumpety thump he come up ober de hill, and I dassent look out for fear of de Ebil One callina me and all de wicked ones out. But thumpety thump he done gallop by ole massi's house like all de fiends was aridina wid him,—and go away in de dark. Abigail. Why, Belinda, 'twas no Evil One! 'Twas the express riding to warn the minutemen. The king's troops are after our powder up at Concord. Belinda. You be only a lil gal. I know. I know. Ole Belinda know when de Ebil One ride by. Abigail. But, Belinda, he stopped at my father's house and rapped at the door and father ran to the window, and I ran to mine, for my window is under the eaves right over the street, and what do you suppose he said? Belinda. De day ob doom, ye wicked rebels! Abigail (drawing back). He said ‘There'll be noise enough soon. The regulars are out.’ And father dressed and sent me flying to cousin Timothy and cousin Moses and cousin Stephen, and he sent another express to Malden and— Belinda. Astirrina up trouble, trouble, trouble. 'Twas de Ebil One. [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. [p. 37] Bond. Minutemen of course, and ready in a minute, too, weren't they? Last August you mind how Gage sent the redcoats up to the powder house to take our powder? Porter. I mind it well, and we men stood yonder, our hands on our hips, and watched them, perforce, while they took it away under our noses. Bond. Took it away right out of Medford, didn't they, to Castle William—all they found there, anyhow? Porter. And what they didn't find had taken wings, hadn't it? Bond. Well, it flew away somewhere, but I guess it will fly home again today. And the redcoats will get it today—but in the powder-pans of our flintlocks with leaden bullets behind it. (Still distant sound of guns.) Hist, was that firing? Porter. Some of our Medford powder, perchance. I wonder if our boys did fight! Bond. Fight? I only wish I were as certain of the locks I've put on guns this morning. Know you (nudging him) where most of the locks came from? Porter. I know where the gun-stocks came from—our wood-lots furnish them forth with a little labor, but where did all these volunteers get their locks? Bond. From his gracious majesty, King George. Porter. How mean you? Bond. Well, King George is none too generous to his redcoats. They are glad to get odd jobs about town to fill their pockets, and so when our lads slip up to the barracks with a bottle of good old Medford smuggled under the tails of their coats, there be many a lobster who has been willing to do trade for it with the lock of a gun. Porter. A poor trade they'll find that today. I reckon many a poor lad will rue his bargain. (Fife and drum drawing nearer.) Bond. Another sound of fife and drum. Yes, more minutemen down the Salem road. Porter. 'Tis the boys from Malden. I know every man of them. I'll to them. (Enter Stephen Hall, limping, with cane.) Bond. Ah, Master Hall, a word with you! Hall. What men are those? Bond. Maiden men. They seem to hesitate, loathe to lose a chance to fight. If they go to Menotomy the king's troops may be already on the Charlestown highway or perhaps to Cambridge. (Sound of distant cannon.) Hall. Whichever way they march back to the shelter of their boats, 'tis evident they are testing the mettle of our men with their cannon. Bond. Ay, cannon, Master Hall. 'Tis that was troubling me, so that I left my work and came here. Where are our Medford guns, the seven cannon we brought out here in November hid in loads of hay and wood? Are they safe, or are these troops on their way to take them also? Hall. They are safe, nor do I think that General Gage knows aught of them. Bond. But suppose the British should send some men-of-war up the Mystic to Cradock bridge to help their soldiers in their retreat? Hall. Know you, good smith, what Medford should have? Fireboats,3 [p. 38] man, by the corner of the bridge, ready to set on fire and turn upon any hostile boat that comes nosing up our stream. Bond (rubbing his hands). Fireboats! A mighty thought! I would that the British men-of-war would come up the river. Then we'd look up the stream and we'd see those Tory boats come sailing on, all unknowing, and suddenly our fireboats would go flaming down upon them, flaring like my forge, and the British sailors would bend to their oars and go flying down stream, past Labor-in-vain and out to the harbor. Heaven help the troops coming back this way and hoping to reach their boats, and Labor-in-vain for that too. They'll have hot fighting enough. Hall. Nay, nay, Bond, if the fighting gets too hot for them up there, as from the number of men who have passed us I think perhaps it may, they'll never take this long road through Medford to Boston, but strike straight for Charlestown and the shelter of their ships. Bond. And shelter they'll need if I am any judge of the minutemen of Medford. And look you here, Master Hall, there are more men at home today who could not be in the firing line who would welcome a chance to do battle with them here. Hall. Yes, Bond, you would fight, I know, as bravely as you speak, but today there are men enough upon the road. The country-side has rung to alarm bells all the last twelve hours. (Sound of fife and drum.) Bond. There go the Malden men. They have determined on Menotomy. Huzzay, boys, on with you! The rascals came here and stole our powder! Don't let them steal any more! Fight 'em, boys, fight'em! Don't let a a man forget what we owe 'em! Give 'em back their powder! (Exit shouting.) Hall. Would I too were young, but I can serve on the Committee of Supplies and watch the river and the square. They also serve who only stand and wait. (Sits down at back of scene.) Porter (returning visibly stirred). My friends of Malden whom I knew before I settled here two years ago. Brave boys. I gave them a glass around to wet their whistles. (Enter Sarah Bradlee Fulton and Abigail.) Mrs. Fulton. A glass around is well enough, Master Porter, but think you, what else will they need when they return? Porter. Mistress Fulton, they are welcome again at my expense. Mrs. Fulton. Nay, it was not of food nor drink that I thought, but of those who may have been wounded. Porter. The wounded. You are right. Would we could settle our rights without bloodshed. The king's officers who stop so often at my Royal Oak—gentlemen! courteous! and free with their money, too. They've made me join them in many a glass of flip. It would go hard to raise a flintlock in their smiling faces. Mrs. Fulton. They will not be smiling today, Master Porter. But 'tis pity that these soldiers should be the tools of their masters. Porter. Of course we have done our best to conciliate their masters, but they would not listen. 1 cannot help but sorrow for the luckless soldiers. Mrs. Fulton. Who is not with us is against us, Master Porter. There was Isaac Royall, now. The town of Medford did love him well, but he fled. Even the gifts he gave to Medford will hardly make the people forgive him, especially if they lose sons at Lexington. Porter. True, true, but Colonel Royall wished to fight for the colony. You know well that last Sunday he did but ride into town to chapel, and General Howe let no people out again, so that he could not return home. [p. 39] Mrs. Fulton. It may be that he could not return, but methinks 'tis more likely that his daughters held him than General Howe. The ladies are no patriots, you know. (Drum and fife.) Porter. Would they had taken pattern by Madam Fulton. Mrs. Fulton. Another company of minutemen eating up the road before them. They pause. voice of Minuteman running in. Which way to the fighting? Porter. The high street to Menotomy. Whence come you? Minuteman. Danvers. Forward! Mrs. Fulton. Not a second's pause (clasps hands)! Saw ye ever eyes like theirs? Boys, most of them, just boys! A cold thrill runs through me even in this summerlike heat. Enough of this. We women must do our part. And here comes the man who will direct us. (Enter Dr. Tufts.) Tufts. Truly the whole countryside is up. Danvers men already. I trow that never men came thence at such a pace before. Minutemen. Minutemen. Porter. Have you more news, good doctor? Tufts. I met a man but now who said that reinforcements for the British troops had marched toward Lexington, and that the first force was marching from Concord and the farmers were fighting all along the road. Porter. Gage doubtless sent reinforcements as the rumor ran. Think you our men can face the cannon and musketry of the king's trained troops? Mrs. Fulton. Were I a man I'd fight. Abigail. And I. Tufts. They can and will. And you know, good sir, they need not stand before the cannon's mouth. New England soldiers have learned much of old from the Indians. Porter. What would poor Colonel Royall think of this? Tufts. Would he were here. His heart has been ever with us, and he could not but take fire had he seen the faces of those men of Danvers. Heat, exhaustion, hunger, thirst—forgotten in that determination to stand for their liberty. Abigail. You should have seen father and our minutemen as they started forth in the morning, with old Master Putnam and William Polly, who's hardly older than I am, following right along with the best of them. Mrs. Fulton. Old and young, we are all on fire with zeal, doctor. Tell us what we must do now if these game men of ours or Danvers come wounded back. Tufts. Gather the women and scrape lint for wounds, and have collected any good clean cloth for bandages. Mrs. Fulton. I'll do so now at my home beyond the bridge. Abigail, go you and tell your mother and collect the women. (Exit Mrs. Fulton and Abigail.) （A pause. Old Hall puffs nervously on his pipe. Porter gets a gun and begins to clean it. Distant sounds of guns and of fife and drum drawing nearer.) Hall. The moments drag in our suspense. Porter. We count them with the sound of guns. （Enter Abigail, running, and out of breath. Characters gather about her.) [p. 40] Abigail. O Great-uncle Stephen, a man just stopped at our house! He came from—Concord—on horseback. He'd ridden—all along tile way— and his powder and bullets were all gone—so he came home—and Hall. Take breath, lass, yet quickly as thou canst. Abigail. And he says that houses are burning in Menotomy — the British soldiers fired them-and the king's troops are on the run—their tongues just hanging out of their mouths like dogs. (Sounds of fife and drum.) Porter. More minutemen. (Enter two or three minutemen, running.) Minuteman. Which way to the fighting? Porter. They are fighting even now in Menotomy. You had best take the main road to Charlestown. You'll catch them at Winter hill assuredly. Whence come ye? Minuteman. Salem. Tufts. Danvers and Lynn have passed already. Ye are late. Minuteman. All has gone wrong with us. Mistake upon mistake. I fear we'll be too late for any fight at all. Tufts. If ye go to Winter hill I think you'll cut them off there. I'll march alongside. (Exeunt all but Porter.) (Fife and drum.) Porter (to his sign). Royal Oak. Royal Oak no more. No Colonel-Royall, no King Royal. Fare ye well, Royal Oak. I'll paint ye over to morrow and call ye—shall it be the Minuteman's Tavern or Liberty Oak? No, it shall be just Porter's Tavern. I can stand it no longer. Look out for yourself, Royal Oak. Farewell. (Exits with musket.)
The Roadside farm.
by E. G. Bigelow and A. Gleason.
Time—5.00 P. M., April 19, 1775.Exterior of Rev. Edward Brooks' home on Grove Street, showing house. Under tree a fire with kettle on tripod, table with pewter mugs, bread, etc., chair, settle at front door. A gawky soldier lad sits at table, feeding hugely, Mercy in attendance. Nancy and Mrs. Putnam at gate.
Characters.Nancy. Aged eighteen Nieces of Abigail and Edward Brooks. Mercy. Aged twelve Nieces of Abigail and Edward Brooks. Mrs. Putnam. A neighbor. (Husband was killed at Lexington.) Abigail Brooks. Rev. Edward Brooks. Her husband. Lieutenant Gould. Of the ‘King's Own.’ Two farmer lads. Mrs. Putnam. Good day, Mistress Nancy. Tell your aunt I must e'en go home to make ready the supper, it grows late. Nancy. Of a surety, Mrs. Putnam, and thank you vastly for your assistance. 'T has been a busy day indeed, and sorely troubled would Aunt Abigail have been to do without your help—you and the other good neighbors. Mrs. Putnam. Sartin sure! Never in all my born days did I expect to see so many men-folks to onct. [p. 41] Nancy. And such monstrous hungry ones, too! 'Twas fortunate indeed that kind Aunt Abigail had treasured that chocolate for all these years. Naught could be too good for our brave patriots. Mrs. Putnam. Poor fellows! Sorry I can't stay to help ye red up the clutter, but husband, he oughter be gittina back 'most any minute now. Started off stroke oa noon, he did, ana my nice biled dinner jest dished up, ready on tha table! Men is sartingly set, once they take a notion, Miss Nancy, ana he'd took a notion they's goina to be fightina today! Sez I ‘'Taint nothina but another oa them false alarms, ana if you let my nice dumplin's get all sogged up for tha want of eatina you won't get no more in a hurry,’ sez I. ‘I'm goina ta eat powder 'n balls fer my dinner today, or else give them some,’ sez he, jest like that, and gave me a strange look, ana off lie legged it, carryina tha ole flintlock he'd used in the Cannedy campaign. Sixty-three year old if a day, ana yet he must be mixina in! We're all strong for libbity, Mistress Nancy, you ana your folks ana me ana my folks. Nancy. Yes, Mrs. Putnam, we're all High Liberty Men together, come what may. Mrs. Putnam (really going). Tha ain't no one more willina to give fer the cause 'n what I be, but when it comes to wastina extry good dumplin's—ana anybuddy knows they don't reheat nohow—（Her last words heard off stage after her exit. Nancy comes to table.) Nancy (with a disapproving glance). Indeed, my lad, 'twould be rude to hurry you, but— lad. Yes, ma'am, I know I'd orter be movina long, but this yere choc'late sartingly do warm up the gizzard! Never tasted none before. Must be scurse! Mercy. Didn't I tell you so, forsooth? Nancy. Naught can be too good for those who hurry to their country's call today. lad. That's so, ma'am, ana I'd orter be hurryina too. (Rises, grasping his gun.) Come on, ole bullet-eater. This here ole piece oa mine, marm, she's been in the Cannedy campaign—twenty year ago it wor, 'fore ever I wuz born. Dad carried 'er, ana he said she wor the prime kicker in tha hull reg'ment. Said she'd knock a man clean down quicker'n ere a baulky mule could. Fact! Nary man in tha hull reg'ment could handle 'er but th' ole sir. (Seats himself.) Mercy (politely). And belike you can shoot it as well as your sire? lad. Wall, ye see it's this way, young miss, tha ole gun would work's good's ever she did if she only hadn't lost'er hammer. Gol durn it! I had one promised, a surenuff dandy, off one oa the regulars to Boston town. But whaa do ye 'spose I seen when I went to fetch it? Mercy. Prithee, what? lad. Seed a young lad a-ridina on a rail—tar'n feathers, I did! Sed he'd been caught buying a gun off tha red coats. Ana so, by hickory, I made meself scurse! (Gloomily.) But how tha nation can we git 'um? Ana we're 'bleeged by law to have 'um. We are! Mercy. Will it go off without a hammer? lad. Wall, no— “t won't go off exactly, but 't might scare a redcoat. Well, ladies, my respex to ye. I'll e'en hurry along. (Lounges out.) Nancy. Every other man in the province, I warrant, is already there. He must be the last. Mercy. The last and the laziest. And now, belike, our task is ended. (Sinks upon settle.) [p. 42] Nancy. What a day! 'Tis the first time I've sat down since cock-crow. Mercy. Came the messenger at cock-crow, Nancy? Alack, I fear me I was still asleep! Nancy. Cock-crow? 'Twas not so very long after the stroke of midnight. I heard the thud of galloping hoofs, dogs barking at Cousin Caleb's, then all the men of the family rushing up and down the road. Didn't you hear that? Mercy. Oh, Gemini! I must have slept right through it all. First I knew, Aunt Abigail was out in the road calling to us to come over and help with the chocolate. Nancy. Oh, fie, simpleton! That was hours later. Didn't you hear father and Uncle Edward waking the boys? Didn't you hear old Pompey catching Dolly and Whiteface out in the pasture? Nor father riding for dear life up the road to Symmes corner to spread the alarm and join the Reading company? Mercy. Not a sound did I hear! Oh, tell on, tell on! What happened then? Nancy. And then, in the pale light just before dawning, came minutemen, streaming along the high road toward Menotomy—little bands of them all running, squads a-marching, all breathless with haste and excitement. Mercy. And then, and then? Nancy. Then, later, the men from miles away, hurrying, hurrying—for hours they'd had no food but still they hurried on! And trailing them, more weary still, came little groups of two or three together— Mercy. And then Aunt Abigail bethought her of the chocolate. Nancy. The chocolate, and us to serve the hungry ones. And here we be, still faithful to our duty. Mercy. Good sooth, it has been stirring! The most exciting day of all my life. I do adore minutemen! Nancy. But in such odd array? Shirt-sleeves, no uniforms, panting, unshorn, no hats, hair flying in the wind? Mercy. Did Uncle Edward look like that when he set forth this morning? Nancy. Nay, nay! In truth he looked the gentleman he is, ana 'twere he went to meeting, except for the musket slung across his shoulder. He rode our own gray mare, had on his very best full-bottomed wig, if you'll believe it, the one he wears whene'er he fills the pulpit for good old Parson Turrell in the new church. He galloped off like mad, trying to overtake Cousin Caleb and the Medford minutemen. (Abigail appears in the doorway.) Abigail. . . Plenty of chocolate still in the pot, girls? Nancy. Not very much, though we have thinned it out with milk. That last leisurely lad was naught but a bottomless pit. Mercy. And now, Aunt Abigail, the excitement's all over. Abigail. You know they may be coming home—” most any minute now—tired and hungry. Nancy. And our supplies near gone! Abigail. We must have more. Mercy. Shall I run over home? Perchance mother can spare us yet another loaf from yesterday's baking. Abigail. Yes, child, run. And if there be a horse still left, have Pomp [p. 43] fetch us more bread-or crackers — from Master Ebenezer Hall's bakery—if so be they have baked on this distressful day. (Exit Mercy.) Nancy. Now to coax up our fire—scarce any wood left. Can't Peter- Abigail. Where under the canopy is Peter? Nancy. He's gone away up through the trap door, into the upper attic. He thinks he can see our road where it curves into Menotomy. Abigail. Nonsense! He can't possibly see beyond the Weirs. Nancy. Peter's pretty good at seeing, Aunt Abigail. （Steps out and calls up to Peter.) Oh, Peter! Can you see aught yet? What can you see! Peter's voice from above. Oh, I can see everything! Lucky the leaves aren't out yet! (Mercy entering drops loaves in a hurry.) Mercy. O, Peter, what can you see? Peter. I see the road, way beyond the river. And, way beyond that I'm almost sure I see smoke. Oh, such lots of smoke, there must be a big fire! Not so very far off. I hear something—guns and guns. Mercy. Hush, listen! I believe I can hear it too. (Hops up and down excitedly as distant cannon become unmistakable.) Peter. O, mother, was that cannon? I begin to feel afraid. And the musket shots sound nearer and ever nearer. They must be coming this way! O, mother, what if they really should? Abigail. Nonsense, Peter! Look again. Look near the bridge and see if you can't see your father coming. (Alarmed, in spite of herself.) Peter. I see something—something bright, shining in the sun—way over in Menotomy. O, mother, it must be the regulars! Nancy. He's in the fight, Aunt Abigail! Abigail. He's a minister of the gospel, child, he never would be in the fight. Nancy. But he carried his musket. (More shots and cannon.) Mercy. Well, somebody's in the fight, anyway, just hear how they rattle! O, Peter, can't you see anything more? Peter. That big one, that makes me feel afraid, surely is a cannon-must be a real battle. Oh! I see someone—he was hidden before—just crossing the bridge, coming this way. Abigail. O, Peter, who is it? (In unison.) Nancy. Who is it? (In unison.) Mercy. Who is it, Peter? (In unison.) Peter. Only a boy, with a gun, crawling along slowly. Abigail. Don't let him pass by. Run, girls, out to the road and bring him in. He surely must have news. (Girls run out. Faint suggestion of a drum and fife. Abigail cuts bread, etc.—pause.) Abigail. Look again now, Peter, are you quite sure you can't see your father anywhere? Peter. No, mother, but oh! don't you hear the drums and fifes of the redcoats now? And the sun on their bayonets seems almost like flashes of lightning! I am not afraid any more. Oh, I wish I was there! girls' Voices Outside. O, Aunt Abigail, he's seen the fighting I It's going on now. (They enter, carrying the boy's knapsack and talking eagerly to him. Boy limps.) boy, to Abigail. Yes, marm, and they're on the run, thank God! Abigail (incredulous). Not the grenadiers? [p. 44] boy. Yes, the grenadiers—all the way from Concord bridge—running like hares. Abigail. Pray heaven no one has been hurt! boy. Hurt! They say eight of our men were killed in Lexington and more in Concord, and hundreds and hundreds of the king's troops, so they say. I only hope it's true. Abigail. You say they are retreating? Not coming down our road to Medford? boy (taking off his boot). No, making for Boston town as fast as e'er God lets them, our men hot on their tracks and taking pot shots from any cover they can get. Swarming in on their rear guard—mess of human hornets! (Gesticulating with his boot in hand.) The whole country-side's roused. No, marm, they wouldn't add a mile to that journey! (Takes food offered by the girls.) Not even to make a call on these here hospitable young ladies, they wouldn't. Mercy. Do have more hot chocolate. It's really milk now, and not so very hot. boy (his mouth full). It's the very best vittles that ever I et. First I've seen since sun-up. When I was doina my chores the alarm bells rung. I followed the Danvers minutemen. Nancy. You've walked all the way from Danvers town? boy. Well, I walked when I didn't run. If 'twarnt for these shoes so tarnation small I could run yit. I'd ought to, too, Cap'n (adjusts shoe) give me a message to deliver. (He hobbles.) Git there sometime, I s'pose. Haf to be going. (Starts.) Abigail. One moment, my lad. Have you by any fortunate chance seen or heard aught of the Reverend Edward Brooks, my husband, this woeful day? boy. Really—don't know him, but more'n likely he's escaped safe enough. Wal, there, marm (a thought strikes him), seems like I did hear as how a spent bullet 'd hit some very ancient like ole gen'leman over this way— Abigail. He's not an elderly man. boy. What's he look like? Abigail. Tall and dignified, clerical dress, full-bottomed wig, rode a gray mare. boy. Oh, him! Why, marm, he's a good un! Right in the thick oa things over to Menotomy. He's all right! Abigail. Heaven be praised! He's still alive, then. Would he were safe at home again! (The boy goes out. The girls look up towards Peter.) Nancy. What now, Peter? Peter. Oh, the guns are well-nigh silent, I fear the fight is over. Hold! Horsemen—three, four, and men on foot. A gray horse—looks like Dolly. Abigail. It must be your father, at last! Peter. No, a rider in a red coat—bright red, like the king's troops. Abigail. What does it mean? Peter. Oh, I do see father! He's walking, and leading Dolly—they're almost here! distant men's Voices (getting nearer, singing).
Yankee Doodle came to town,[p. 45] Nancy. Seem to be in good spirits! Voices.
Riding on a pony—
Heels they stuck way out behind(Sounds of horse's feel and cheers.) voice. Don't sing any more about heels, fellers, might hurt the poor gentleman's feelings. another. Haw, haw! Yes, that's so! Heels seems to be his'ns tender p'nt! (Guffaws.) Rev. Edward (outside). Thank you for your assistance, neighbors. Without it, assuredly, our friend's life would have been sacrificed. Take the mare, Pomp, and give her a good rubbing down. And now, Leftenant— Voices. Three cheers for Parson! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Goodby! Abigail. Thanks be to Providence! (They enter. The lieutenant, with his foot done up in huge white wrappings, is leaning heavily on Mr. Brooks' shoulder.) Abigail. My dear husband! You are safe! Rev. Edward. Yes, wife, and I have brought you a guest, Leftenant Gould of the King's Own. My nieces, Leftenant. Lt. Gould (with a ceremonious bow). Your servant, madam—ladies. (Al three courtesy.) Abigail. But you are wounded! (They assist him into the chair. Nancy takes charge.) Nancy. Quick, Mercy, child! A pillow for his head, he faints! Perchance a footstool will ease his wound! Mercy (running into house). Isn't he just too beau-u-tiful! Abigail (to Edward). What is the meaning of this? A British officer? Rev. Edward. Shot in the heel at Concord bridge. The Lord has delivered our enemy into our hands this day, and we must be merciful unto him. Nancy (to the lieutenant). Oh, sir! (She puts one arm around his drooping neck. Re-enter Mercy, who adjusts footstool.) Abigail (to Edward). Tell me, what hath chanced? Rev. Edward. Patriots have been killed at Lexington and Concord, how many I know not, but the whole country is roused. Even now they are pursuing the British back to Boston and inflicting terrible slaughter. Only the arrival of Earl Percy with re-enforcements has saved them from total annihilation. That which we have so dreadfully expected has come to pass. Abigail. War? Rev. Edward. Yes, wife, and we must be ready to give our all in the cause of liberty. Lt. Gould (rousing with a shudder). Mr. Brooks, this is a most fateful day! Is it possible that your people understand what they do in resisting the lawful authority of their king, and attacking in armed force his troops? It is mutiny, insurrection, rebellion, and must be punished as such, and my heart bleeds for your people. Rev. Edward. The outcome of today, Leftenant Gould, is in the hand of God, and only our grandchildren to the tenth generation may know whether this day's deeds be good—or ill.
Legs were long and bony—ee—ee.