The Rising of the Moon
A one-act comedy dealing with the relations existing between the peasants and the police at the time of the Fenian period in Irish history. There are four characters, a police sergeant, two policemen, and a political prisoner who has broken gaol. At the opening of the play, the sergeant and his two assistants are pasting up placards describing the fugitive, offering a reward of one hundred pounds for his capture. The sergeant decides to watch the quay himself, in case the escaped prisoner should come there to meet a boat. As he walks in the moonlight meditating on the “spending” there must be in a hundred pounds, the prisoner comes along in the guise of a ballad singer. At first he is an object of suspicion, but he ingratiates himself with the sergeant by telling him he knows the man he is looking for, would recognize him a mile off. He offers to share the watch, and asks nothing of the reward, for a poor man like him “going on the roads and singing in fairs” could not afford “to have the name on him, that he took a reward.” He dilates on the ferocity of the missing man until the sergeant is glad of his company, and they sit back to back on a barrel, on which one of the notices is pasted, the better to watch in two directions. The supposed ballad singer sings some of the old songs awakening tender memories of the sergeant’s unofficial youth. They become involved in speculation as to the accidents of life that make the sergeant a constable instead of a Fenian patriot. A boat approaches and the signal, verses of the rebel song “The Rising of the Moon,” is answered by the rowers, and the sergeant recognizes he has been duped. The prisoner appeals to the sergeant not to betray him, and hides as the policemen return. The sergeant resists the temptation of the reward and lets him escape. Left alone he thinks of the one hundred pounds and wonders if he is as great a fool as he thinks he is.