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Title: Leith Sands Author: Josephine Tey (writing as Gordon Daviot) * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1600311h.html Language: English Date first posted: March 2016 Most recent update: March 2016 This eBook was produced by Colin Choat and Roy Glashan Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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CHARACTERS In order of appearance RAB SOUTER. BELLE HEPBURN. DUNCAN FORBES. ALEXANDER LOCKHART. WILL GOW. JOHN MASSON. JAMES KERR. PETER BEATTIE. SANDY CRAIG. A taproom in Leith, on the 11th of April 1705. In the back wall are two deep-set windows giving on the street, and, left of them, the door, now closed. Against the right wall, behind a rough counter, is the stock-in-trade: claret and brandy, a cask of ale, and whisky. A bench and long table below the windows, another by the left wall, and a smaller table with wooden chairs nearer the middle of the room. The wind that is rarely still on that windy coast blows against the windows in long gusts, but it is snug enough in the room, which is clean and well kept, as if the owner took a pride in it. The proprietor, RAB SOUTER, is pouring a drink behind the bar. He is small, middle-aged, canny, honest, and self-respecting. Not the type to lead a crusade; but the kind of man who likes to "see right done" and is vaguely troubled at the vivid prejudices of his fellow-men. He is alone except for one customer, BELLE HEPBURN, who is sitting with her back to the nearer window. BELLE is not yet old enough for her profession to have ruined her looks, but the mixture of vanity and greed that led to her adoption of her calling ruins effectually enough any beauty she possesses. Her face, for all its excellence of feature and colouring, is a repellent one. RAB.: [Carrying the drink to her and putting it down] There you are. I hope you've the money to pay for it. BELLE.: [Taking out money] It'll be a while yet before I lack the price of a drink, Rab Souter. [Toasting him] Well! [Having drunk] I didn't think you'd be open. Why are you no' at the hanging? Half Scotland's there. RAB.: Maybe. But trade's trade. BELLE.: And some has weak stomachs. RAB.: [Stung, but still mildly] If it comes to that, why are you not there yerself? It's thanks to you they're hanging, isn't it? BELLE.: [Screaming at him] Haud yer tongue! [Recovering] I was there, if you want to know. There was sic a crowd I couldn't see a thing, so I just came away. RAB.: [Pausing in the polishing of mugs at the counter] Confess, Belle Hepburn, you didn't after all want to see a man you'd slept with dangling at the end of a rope. BELLE.: Is it me would care that a wheen stuck-up Englishmen went to their deaths? RAB.: He was a well set up young fellow, Captain Green. I saw him one day coming from the trial. BELLE.: [Without emotion] Ay, he was bonnie enough. [With satisfaction] But he was a pirate, and he's hanging for it. RAB.: There's some say he's hanging because he's English. BELLE.: [Banging her mug-bottom against the table in anger] So! A "repriever", are you! RAB.: [Hastily] I'm not anything. I'm just repeating the clash of the town. BELLE.: Well, don't repeat a thing like that if you like your health. And your trade! This place would make a fine bonfire. RAB.: [Rousing to a threat of coercion as he has not roused to her taunt of being weak-stomached] Things are coming to a pretty pass when a man can't open his mouth without fear of being rabbled. BELLE.: You can open it, but not so wide. RAB.: And when the likes of you gives orders to the likes of me! Let me tell you, I don't like Englishmen any better than the next Scot, but there's one thing in this business sticks in my gullet. BELLE.: It wouldn't be your tongue, would it? RAB.: If he's a pirate, why wasn't there a single thing in his ship that didn't belong there? [He says this not as one making a point but as one troubled by an undeniable fact.] BELLE.: He had Sandy Craig's watch, hadn't he? RAB.: So you say. BELLE.: And what's wrong with my word! RAB.: Nothing. Only, where's the watch? BELLE.: It was stolen from him, he said. Likely he threw it away. [Protesting against RAB'S unbelieving silence] I tell you he had that watch the day he came ashore! Didn't I go out to the Worcester when she anchored? And didn't he come back with me when he got rid of all the yapping big-wigs that wanted to see the ship? [Imitating polite Edinburgh] "And have you really been to India and back, Captain Green?" "How clever of you to escape the French by sailing round Scotland to London, Captain Green!" And next morning, there was the watch, lying on my table. "Where did you get that?" says I. "It was my father's," says he. But it was Sandy Craig's watch, with the anchor on the back of it. Many a time I'd seen it before. And Sandy Craig went away in the Speedy Return last year. And who has seen the Speedy Return, or any of her crew, since that day? RAB.: [Slowly] An anchor's not a mighty uncommon thing to find on a sailor's belongings. Even if you did see the watch— BELLE.: [Furious] Even if I did see it! What would I lie for? RAB.: [Still contemplative] How should I know? Because you don't like Englishmen, perhaps; or because you wanted one of his Indian shawls and he wouldn't give it to you; or because he took up with a nice self-respecting girl and forgot you; or because someone offered you good silver to remember seeing the watch— BELLE.: Are you suggesting . . . RAB.: I'm not suggesting anything. I'm only thinking of things that would make a woman want to tell lies. BELLE.: Let me tell you . . . She pauses, as RAB'S eyes watch someone pass the windows, and turns her head to the door to see who comes. Enter DUNCAN FORBES. He is very young; a law student of twenty; and he is dressed entirely in black. He has a long shrewd nose which augurs well for his future success in his profession, and a wide good-natured mouth to promise humanity in his shrewdest dealings. At the moment his normally mobile face is wooden; stiff with some secret shock or grief. He moves forward to the counter without acknowledging the landlord's presence, as if his mind was still elsewhere. RAB.: [Greeting him] Good day to you, Mr. Forbes, sir. The usual for you? FORBES.: No. Give me whisky. RAB.: [Thinking he could not have heard aright] I still have some of that last bordeaux that you liked so much . . . FORBES.: [Unmistakably] Whisky! RAB.: [Pouring the required drink, genially] In all the times you've been coming down for your daunder on Leith sands, Mr. Forbes, I've never known you drink that stuff. Do you want to lose that fine palate of yours? FORBES.: [After a slight pause, as if talking were an effort] No. I want to lose my senses. RAB.: [Having considered him, tentatively] Are you in mourning, sir? FORBES.: Yes. For my country. [Without heat] If I could burn the Scot out of me with hot iron I would do it to-day. It's a dreadful thing to be ashamed of the very blood in one's veins, isn't it, Rab? [Pushes his empty glass to be refilled.] BELLE.: [Into the silence while RAB is looking for an answer] If that's the way you feel it's time someone let a little of your blood out, my fine young sir! FORBES.: [Becoming aware of her for the first time, and turning to look at her; in slow recognition] Oh. The Hepburn woman. [He does not mean to be rude. He is still wrapt in himself.] BELLE.: Mistress Hepburn to you. FORBES.: Well, I suppose drink is as good a way as any other of spending thirty pieces. BELLE.: I don't know what that may mean, but it has a quarrelling sound to me. FORBES.: Thomas Green was looking forward to drinking too. In peace, in a London tavern. All his dangers were behind him. The storms off the Cape, the pirates in the Indian Ocean, the French in the Channel; fever and snake-bite and thirst-madness and mirage. He had traded well, and his cargo was rich. He had taken his ship half round the world and back like a good seaman; and he was a proud young man sailing into the Forth; home again and safe. No one had told him that Scotland was still inhabited by savages. He turns to the counter again and takes the drink that RAB has poured for him. As he turns to his drink the door is burst open and three men enter, all in jovial spirits and talking as they come. The first is ALEXANDER LOCKHART, well-built, about forty years old, "well put on" and tolerably well educated; belonging, one would say, to the small-official class. Behind him is WILL GOW, tall, lean, saturnine; perhaps a printer or a clerk. And bringing up the rear JOHN MASSON, a small, thickset, genial creature, whose thicker burr and slight air of deference place him in a lower social category. They arrange themselves in the chairs round the small table as they talk, with much clatter and no little self-satisfaction. LOCKHART.: [As he comes in] And it's my suggestion that April the Eleventh should be made a national holiday for ever. GOW.: [Grinning] The Kirk wouldn't like it. MASSON.: [With a fling at the thousand schisms of Scotland] Which kirk? GOW.: All of them. Holidays are a devilish rival to the Sabbath. LOCKHART.: Maybe; but there isn't a minister in Scotland who didn't lose his spare silver in the Darien scheme. Brandy for me, Rab. MASSON.: Ay; that's so. Not that it needed Darien. Our man [he means his own particular clergyman]'s been praying against the English since afore the Revolution. I doubt he'd look real kindly on a day that saw three of them get their deserts. [Answering LOCKHART'S invitation] Ale for me, Mr. Lockhart. LOCKHART.: Tuts, man, you're not going to drink ale on a day like this! Brandy for Mr. Masson, Rob. What are you drinking, Gow? GOW.: Claret for me. Ah, there, Belle! LOCKHART.: [Turning to the woman] Good day to you, Mistress Hepburn. A good day indeed, eh? Drink up and have another one with us. [It is clear that in normal times LOCKHART would not have "looked the road she was on", but to-day all Scots are brothers together, and has she not done her share in the noble work?] Were you out there on the sands? BELLE.: [Without bothering to explain that she had left betimes] I was. [Directing the remark at FORBES' back] Ay, a good day for Scotland. The door is once more burst open and there enters JAMES KERR, a man who might be a prosperous small-tradesman, more or less supporting the large and undoubtedly drunk person of PETER BEATTIE. BEATTIE can still walk with comparative ease, but his head has long ago succumbed to the drunkard's idée fixe. KERR.: There we are, Peter boy. Home from home. [He bangs the door to behind him and unfastens the short sword that is belted to his waist] Well, I won't be needing this any more. [Flinging it on the long table, left] Three months that thing's been tripping me up. Next time we have to arm I'll get me a cudgel. [Like the rest, he is in very good humour about it.] BEATTIE.: [Standing aimless and stupid by the table] Down with England! Down with Englishmen! Scotland for ever! [After a moment he subsides on to the bench by the left wall.] GOW, reminded of his own weapons, takes his heavy pistol from a pocket and lays it on the table in front of him, while MASSON unbuckles a truncheon from below his coat. LOCKHART continues to wear his sword, which he considers helpful in presenting a gentlemanly appearance. GOW.: [Picking up the pistol fondly almost as soon as he has put it down] The muzzle of that was three inches from the Chancellor's nose in the High Street yesterday. Talk of reprieve, would they! LOCKHART.: They've learned their lesson. GOW.: "The Queen is considering the evidence, and will let her decision be known in due course"! [He laughs] Well, she has evidence now that the Scots can decide for themselves. KERR.: [As RAB puts the brandy down in front of LOCKHART] Bring me some of that, Mr. Souter. [Giving BEATTIE a friendly push] Rouse yourself, Peter Beattie, and say what you'll drink. BEATTIE.: I'll drink Scotland dry. KERR.: Not unless you're paying for your own liquor, my mannie! [To RAB] Bring him the same as me. [To the others] Ay, gentlemen, we've struck a blow for freedom this day. We're not going to have any fine fellows in London interfering in the decisions of our courts. MASSON.: No, nor Queen Anne herself. GOW.: Reprieve a murderer, would they! LOCKHART.: [Raising his glass] Well, here's the same death to every Englishman that thinks he can pirate a Scots ship and go free! GOW.: [Joining him] Damnation to Englishmen anyhow! [MASSON drinks too.] KERR.: I suppose he didn't confess, did he? I couldn't hear his speech. LOCKHART.: Confess, my friend! His speech made me want to puke. He was so innocent, by his way of it, you'd wonder how he ever came to leave his dame's-school. And the other two weren't much better. GOW.: [Mocking] Very affecting, it was. I'll wager Belle didn't shed any tears. BELLE.: No; I'll keep my tears for the crew of the Speedy Return. [With a meaning look at FORBES' back] Though there's some not so particular! LOCKHART and his two companions waken to an intense interest in the man whose face they cannot see and whom they have up to now hardly been aware of. BELLE, her eyes discreetly on her drink, waits developments with inward pleasure. KERR.: [Unaware of the direction of her last remark, and not having met her before] Mistress Hepburn, is it? Well, well. I'm proud to know you, Mistress Hepburn. [With unctious earnestness] Sandy Craig will sleep well to-night, now that his countrymen have avenged him. BEATTIE.: [Apropos of nothing, except that he now has his drink and is momentarily roused to speech] Thieving, murdering English. Keep us out of their trade, will they? We'll show them. KERR.: Gentlemen, I give you the memory of Captain Drummond and the crew of the Speedy Return, foully done to death by the murderer Green. LOCKHART.: And all the other victims of his piracies, whoever they may be! [His eyes are still speculatively on FORBES' back, and his voice is provocative. Pausing before drinking] Won't you join us, sir, in so loyal a toast? FORBES.: [Who has had a third drink but is still cool, turning to face him] There was only one case of piracy in this affair, Alexander Lockhart. And that was when you and your gang boarded the Worcester as friendly visitors and seized her, with neither law nor good manners on your side. LOCKHART.: [Restraining GOW'S instant movement to his weapon] Just a moment, Gow. I don't admire your sentiments, sir, but I wonder at your courage. You're a young man to be tired of life. FORBES.: If giving up my life would blot this day's work from my country's record, I would die gladly. GOW.: [Still being restrained by LOCKHART] You'll probably die in any case! MASSON.: [Aghast] Did ever you hear the like of his impudence! LOCKHART.: So you don't approve of your country's justice? FORBES.: Justice! LOCKHART.: You think, no doubt, it's a crying shame that the Englishmen weren't reprieved? FORBES.: [With the first hint of passion in his tone] No. I think it is a black disgrace that they were ever found guilty. [Sensation.] We have hanged three men to-day—and we are going to hang more to-morrow—on evidence that would not convict a cat of stealing cream. And why were they hanged? Because Scotland wanted a blood sacrifice. Because we had failed to make colonies like the English, and failed to keep ships on the sea like the English, and we were sick with jealousy and drunk with hate and shouting for blood. Well, we have had our blood. But my business is law, not murder, and you will forgive me if I do not share in the jubilation. KERR.: [Bewildered at the way this nice friendly drinking party is turning out] But that's nonsense! I was there, a whole day, at the trial; I was there myself. There was plenty evidence! MASSON.: It was his own men that gave evidence against him! LOCKHART.: May I remind you that there was no mention of piracy until one of the Worcester's crew boasted of it? FORBES.: Did you ever know a sailor who wasn't a pirate after the third drink? There was no mention of piracy, Mr. Lockhart, until you found that your seizing of the Worcester was going to be awkward for you. You thought she was an East Indiaman, didn't you? And you would take her as reprisal for the Annandale— MASSON.: The English had no right to take the Annandale. FORBES.: They had every right. She had broken the law, and they took her by law. It is an English custom that we would do well to imitate. But Green's ship had broken no law. She was not even, so it turned out, one of the hated East Indiamen. It was going to be very awkward for those who had so rashly— GOW.: [Who has been simmering in speechless rage, springing up] Are you going to let him stand there and fling it in our faces that we—[LOCKHART once more restrains him, as RAB remonstrates with FORBES.] RAB.: [Laying a tentative hand on FORBES' shoulder from behind, in appeal] Please, Mr. Forbes, sir. We don't want any trouble. FORBES.: [His taut nerves snapping at the touch, turning on RAB] No, you don't want trouble! And you the guiltiest of them all. [Seeing RAB'S astounded face] Do you think Green and his men are dangling out there in the wind only because a vain drab lied and because the mob hate England? No, they're— BELLE.: Call me a liar—! LOCKHART.: I've let you talk long enough— FORBES.: [Shouting them down] Hold your tongues! [As they stop in very astonishment] No! They're swinging there because the nice douce citizens of Edinburgh didn't want any trouble. Because a few innocent men hanging at their door was better than having their windows broken— KERR.: Innocent men, indeed! MASSON.: It's not windows that would be broken but heads if they'd let that murdering pirate go free. KERR.: I heard the evidence myself. Wasn't it one of his own men who told how they killed their victims with hatchets and flung them overboard. One of his own men! FORBES.: [The excitement gone from him; in a sort of weary contempt] Yes. A black cook's mate who understood no English, was so poor that he would have sworn to anything for a shilling, and was proved not to have joined the Worcester until six months after the date in question. LOCKHART.: The ship's surgeon isn't black, nor illiterate, nor poor enough to bribe with a shilling. FORBES.: No. He is a man with a grudge. In fact, he hated Green so much that I am surprised he didn't make his story a better one. LOCKHART.: His story was true. FORBES.: Perhaps. What does it amount to? He was ashore and he heard guns; he went on board some days later and three of the crew were wounded. The guns were the Worcester's salute to Captain Grandell's ship and Grandell's five-gun acknowledgment; and the "wounds" prove to have been one snake bite, one broken arm through falling down a hatch, and one head broken by a bottle. Is that your evidence of piracy? And where in all this is the Speedy Return? Not so much as a rope's-end of her! Not even a suggestion that she was ever in the same sea with the Worcester! BELLE.: [Shrilly] No? Then how was Sandy Craig's watch in her captain's pocket? FORBES.: Was it? BELLE.: It was, and I'll thank you not to call me a liar to my face again! FORBES.: [Taking two steps towards her so that only the table separates them, and leaning forward so that they are face to face] Why didn't you wait to see Green hanged? BELLE.: [Taken aback by his unexpected movement, his proximity, and his surprising question] What's that you say? FORBES.: I said: Why didn't you wait to see Green hanged? The others begin to protest that she has seen the man hanged, that she has said so; but their protests die away as BELLE'S face shows her confusion. BELLE.: [Knowing that RAB is a witness to her early departure, and unable in the crowded moment to think what her previous excuse was] Never mind why! What I do or don't do is my own business. [It sounds very feeble, and the pause on FORBES' part before he straightens himself gives the feebleness full effect.] FORBES.: [Resuming as if he had not spoken to her] Captain Green said that his watch had a cross on the back of it, and that he had never owned a watch engraved with an anchor. BELLE.: [Sullenly] It was an anchor, and it was Sandy Craig's. FORBES.: [Ignoring her] May I suggest that the two decorations look greatly alike and that it is possible to be—mistaken, shall we say?—about them. BEATTIE.: [Quite unaware of anything that is going on around him] Bloody murdering English, keeping us out of their trade! FORBES.: In the months that the Worcester has been lying at Burntisland [he tilts his head to an imaginary firth] industrious Scots have torn the very planks out of her in search of better evidence than an unproducible watch. And what have they found? Nothing! There wasn't a nail in her that couldn't be accounted for. No stolen goods, no bloodstains, no damage by gunfire, no false entries in her papers. [Overriding interruption] Seventeen ships have come home from India since the Worcester sailed from there, and not one of them has heard of any such piracy. [Overriding interruption] When the Worcester's own crew first heard that they were to be charged with such a crime they were scattered in lodgings all over the district. Did any one of them try to escape? On the contrary: several came in of their own accord. It seemed to all of them amusing to be dubbed pirates, when there was no tittle of evidence to support the charge. But they reckoned without my countrymen. Fifteen good Scots found them guilty— [Chorus]. They were guilty! Guilty as hell! Murdering cut-throats, whatever you say! FORBES.: Found them guilty on the evidence of a black slave who was not there, of a ship's surgeon who was on shore, and of a woman who saw an old lover's watch in the hands of a presumed murderer and made no outcry until five weeks later, when evidence of piracy was wanted. He turns to his ready-filled glass, and so gives his interrupters their chance at last. BELLE, KERR, GOW and MASSON all have things to say, but give way to LOCKHART after the first few words. LOCKHART.: [Angry but smooth] You've a fine, glib tongue, my friend, and you may know something about law, but I'd just remind you that no less than five of those fifteen men were ships' masters, and perhaps you'll allow them to know something of sea business. FORBES.: [Turning on him] And what sea business moves their mariner minds at the moment? The Annandale! What moves the whole of Scotland, if it comes to that? The English confiscate our last Company ship in the Thames—the English, who have fifty ships to our one!—and you think that five ships' captains in a jury of fifteen make a good— KERR.: There were ten others, weren't there! Ten that had nothing to do with the sea. Lairds like Fleming of Rathbyres and merchants like William Neilson— GOW.: Ay, well-respected men like Robert Innes— LOCKHART.: Ay, do you think folk like Forrest and Blockwood are going to vote a prisoner guilty just because a few men in London acted unneighbourly? FORBES.: No. LOCKHART.: Why did they, then! FORBES.: I take it, because twenty thousand armed men were waiting for them outside the court-house in Edinburgh. [Into the momentary pause which succeeds this riposte] And when the verdict was noised abroad, and the gratified Scots were dancing in the streets, what did those same unneighbourly English do? Did they threaten? Was there talk of war? Or promise of reprisal if we hanged their men? No! They asked that the day of execution might be postponed for two weeks, so that— MASSON.: Ay, so that they could think of a way of wriggling out! FORBES.: So that there might be time to collect more evidence. LOCKHART.: They had three months to collect evidence if they'd wanted to. FORBES.: You forget. There was no case to answer. It would hardly occur to the English that men could be condemned on a piece of hearsay. KERR.: They were condemned because they were guilty. I heard the evidence myself! FORBES.: [Ignoring him] When they learned what perjury and prejudice had achieved in Scotland they wanted time to defend their men; time to use their own weapons of statement and evidence— GOW.: Time to use fresh lies— FORBES.: Time! Time! Time! That is all they asked. And every one of them from Queen Anne to the crossing-sweeper in the Strand took it for granted that we would give it to them. We were civilised, weren't we? We had courts and laws. We ate our bread and powdered our wigs like other men. We sent embassies to the nations, and shared a Queen with England. We would not hang fourteen men without making sure that they were guilty. How were they to know, the trusting English fools, that they were dealing with barbarians? LOCKHART.: If that is meant as a personal reflection . . . FORBES.: [His natural courage no wise lessened by the consumption of his fourth drink] It's a reflection on all of you! On all the venomous mob that refused a hearing to condemned men, so that our country's name will be a by-word in Europe. You were afraid of what that evidence from London might be, weren't you? Afraid of finding that you wouldn't be able to hang the Englishmen after all? Already some very awkward facts had blown up from the south. The surgeon had said in his evidence that the captured ship was sold in Quillon, hadn't he? And now the English send proof that no one in Quillon had ever heard of it. That was awkward, wasn't it? And every post that came into Edinburgh might carry news as awkward. It looked as if you might be cheated of the blood you had so nearly tasted— LOCKHART.: You're drunk! FORBES.: Alas, no! GOW.: Why are we listening to him? Let's cut the clattering tongue out of his head. RAB.: Please, gentlemen. Please, Mr. Forbes. MASSON.: Ay, I cracked a man's skull yesterday for saying a hundredth part of what he's saying the now. LOCKHART.: Presently, presently. You're not cutting out his tongue till he's taken back a few of his words. FORBES.: I'll take back nothing. LOCKHART.: This is a personal matter between me and Mr. . . . FORBES.: My name is Forbes. Duncan Forbes. LOCKHART.: Between me and Mr. Forbes. He can greet all he likes about his country's reputation—Scotland can take care of her own good name!—but when he miscalls a man to his face he has to answer for it. [His left hand draws his sword a few inches from its sheath and lets it fall back again with a click.] RAB.: Mr. Forbes is a bit overwrought, Mr. Lockhart, and the whisky he's been drinking is not good stuff to take counsel on— LOCKHART.: [Ignoring him] I doubt too many hours in the law courts has made him forget that the law's privileges stop at the court door. Outside that a man's answerable for what he says. FORBES.: If you're thinking of using that fine sword of yours, Mr. Lockhart, I think it's only fair to tell you that I may be a law student, but I was born the wrong side of the Highland line and I was bred to the sword. LOCKHART.: [Obviously staggered, but recovering, and very angry] Who said anything about a sword? I wouldn't waste good steel on you, you damned Highland trash. I'll wring your neck myself when Gow's had the pleasure of cutting your tongue out. MASSON.: Don't I get a share? LOCKHART.: Meanwhile, as long as your gullet's in working order, I'll give myself the pleasure of hearing you swallow some of these fine words of yours. BELLE.: Ay, make him swallow what he said about me! LOCKHART.: Hold your tongue. [To FORBES] There was something about my seizing the Worcester when I had no right to . . . FORBES.: And didn't you? LOCKHART.: And raising the cry of piracy merely to get myself out of a hole! FORBES.: I may have been wrong about that. LOCKHART.: So! FORBES.: It may of course have been to get yourself some the rich pickings the cargo would provide. There is no direct evidence either way. LOCKHART.: Damn your soul, do you say that I procured false witness to hang those men! FORBES.: Is that any worse than standing over the Privy Council with pistols to prevent them postponing the execution? That is what you were doing all day yesterday, wasn't it? LOCKHART.: And to-morrow I shall be explaining to your friends how you fell over an ale-house counter and broke your neck. [He takes a step forward, and becomes aware that a small black knife has appeared as if by magic in FORBES' hand. He is holding it Highland fashion, point upward. He has not altered his attitude, and the knife might not be there unless one noticed his hand.] What good do you think that bodkin's going to do you? FORBES.: It's been a lot of good so far. I've cut rodden whistles with it, and gralloched a deer with it, and cut a heart on a tree with it, and picked stones out of my pony's— GOW.: And picked your teeth with it. Go on! The others laugh. FORBES.: And I can split a hazel wand at twenty feet with it. [Something in his still easy tone gives them pause] It's a pretty weapon the sword [there is genuine love in his voice] but I gave it up when I took to the law. It seemed to me that Scotland had suffered enough from her children's liking for steel. I could serve her better by learning how to arbitrate. But I can still throw a knife quicker than any of you gentlemen can move an arm. I hope you wont force me to display my skill. It would be sad to have renounced the sword only to become a knife-thrower. LOCKHART.: There's only one thing wrong with your bodkin, Mr. Forbes. It doesn't throw five ways at once. FORBES.: And which of you is going to be the sheath for it? GOW.: That's for you to decide. We're coming together and you can take your pick. For myself, a knife-prick will be a small price for the pleasure of having my hands on you. LOCKHART.: If you know any prayers, say them. And don't make them long ones. RAB.: You can't do it, gentlemen. At least give him a sword and let him fight for his— GOW.: Shut your mouth, you, or we'll make a loch of your liquor and drown you in it! BEATTIE.: Bloody Englishmen, are they? Kill them! LOCKHART.: Well, Forbes, have you prayed? On a great gust of wind there enters a smallish red-haired man carrying a sailor's bundle. He bangs the door to behind him with his foot, as KERR did, and drops his bundle by the door. Since no one has yet reached for a weapon, the scene in the room appears to him perfectly normal: one man leaning against the counter and facing the others in argument. Except for head-turning no one moves at his entrance, but as he speaks BELLE, recognising him, rises slowly to her feet. He is SANDY CRAIG. SANDY.: Whew! Blowing a half-gale as usual. Leith was aye a windy port. A fine day to come home, too. [With a jerk of his thumb to outdoors] Is it the Privy Council they're hanging? You could walk on the heads of the crowd halfway to Edinburgh! BELLE.: [Still not sure whether to believe her eyes, and hoping that she is wrong] Sandy! Sandy Craig! SANDY.: [Noticing her for the first time; in high good humour] Belle! Well, now, this is what I call a welcome! [He means finding an old friend so soon.] Belle, my beauty . . . [He goes towards her, but she draws back.] BELLE.: You're not dead? SANDY.: [Mistaking her tone] Och, have you been crying for me! [As she shrinks from his outstretched hand] What is it? Are you afraid I'm a ghost? [Rapping with his knuckles on the table] A good solid ghost, let me tell you; and one with a thirst. [Moving to the counter] Is nobody going to offer a sailor a drink? [As they stare in silence] Well [turning in good humour to RAB], it looks as if I'll have to pay for my own. That'll be the first time for three years. What a country to belong to! FORBES.: [The first to come to life, quietly] Are you Sandy Craig? SANDY.: I am. [To RAB] Brandy. FORBES.: Of the Speedy Return? SANDY.: Ay, of the Speedy Return. That was a bad name to call a good ship! FORBES.: What happened to her? SANDY.: Pirates got her, eighteen months ago. BELLE.: [Shrill with relief] I was right, you see, I was right! SANDY.: You were always right, Belle, my dear. BELLE.: He had your watch. [It seems to her that a miracle has happened.] SANDY.: Who had? BELLE.: Captain Green. SANDY.: Captain Green? Never heard of him. What's he captain of? FORBES.: He was [he slightly accents the tense] captain of the Worcester. SANDY.: Never heard of her. East Indiaman? BELLE.: You mean it wasn't the Worcester that took the Speedy Return! SANDY.: It wasn't any ship at all that took us. That old pirate Bowen walked on board when she was in harbour in Madagascar, and just hung up his hat. All the crew was ashore but three, and they had more sense than to argue with Bowen. [As the queerness in the atmosphere begins to penetrate] What's this to do with Captain Green, anyhow? In the silence, FORBES drops some coins on the counter and turns to depart. The various emotions that have upheld him are spent, and he is suddenly exhausted and a little drunk. He looks so ill that RAB is concerned. RAB.: Will I send for your horse, Mr. Forbes? Are you going back to Edinburgh? FORBES.: [Gathering himself together with an effort] No. No, I am going to help bury the men we have murdered. They watch him go in silence. As he closes the door, BELLE begins to sob. SLOW CURTAIN
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