Foreward and Author's Preface

Acknowledgements

Characters

Scene 1: Under a fish flake, 1763

Scene 2: The Supreme Court, 1812

Scene 3: Port de Grave, 1820

Scene 4: The Supreme Court, 1820








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Rough Justice: A Play in One Act
by Tom Cahill


Scene 3: In a house at Port de Grave being used as a courtroom on July 5, 1820

Merchant QUIRK walks into the scene as REV. JOHN LEIGH and CAPT. DAVID BUCHAN walk on and seat themselves behind the table.

LEIGH:

You say you have an intervention in the case of James Lundrigan to present to the court, Master Quirk?

QUIRK:

I do, Reverend Leigh, I do indeed.

BUCHAN:

Are you aware that Lundrigan has been a prisoner in the brig of my ship the Grasshopper since yesterday afternoon, Quirk, when I sent a party of marines to arrest him after he refused to answer a summons to appear before this Court and that he has already been convicted on all charges?

LEIGH:

And that he waits outside now to receive a sentence of 36 lashes, and in addition, the Court has ordered his wife and four children evicted from his house and all his premises seized. Isn't the sentence harsh enough for you?

QUIRK:

I just wanted to make sure the Court was aware James Lundrigan was first summoned to appear last summer to answer for the same debt of 12 pounds owed to my firm, McNicholl and Company of Harbour Grace, and he refused to appear then, saying he was too busy with the fishery . . .

LEIGH:

Yes, and at that time the Court ordered his house, boats and property seized and sold to satisfy your claim, as I remember

QUIRK:

His property was sold to a clerk in our employ named David Graham. Except that when Graham went to take possession of the Lundrigan house at Cupids, Mrs. Lundrigan threatened to blow his head off with a shotgun, and the seizure was deferred.

BUCHAN:

I see. And when summoned before the court again for the same offence a year later, he uses the same excuse of being too busy, adding this time that he has only rags to wear and is not fit to appear before such gentlemen as us. A brazen excuse for contempt of Court.

LEIGH:

Captain Buchan, would you please advise the Bosun to let the flogging commence, I think we have heard enough of this. (BUCHAN rises and exits. After a moment, we hear the whipping begin and several initial screams from Lundrigan.)

QUIRK:

If it please the Court, we do have some sort of intervention from Lundrigan's wife, in that she claims her husband is weak from malnutrition, has the falling sickness, and will not survive the lashing. We only want justice. We don't want to kill the man .

LEIGH:

She should have thought of that before threatening court officials with a firearm, shouldn't she?

But perhaps .... (The screams and sounds of lashing suddenly stop. LEIGH and QUIRK look off in alarm. BUCHAN appears and comes behind the table.)

BUCHAN:

It seems the prisoner has fainted after 14 lashes and gone into a convulsion. The ship's surgeon has ordered the punishment stopped.

LEIGH:

(Standing and rapping his gavel) We bow to the surgeon's wishes. Set the prisoner free. Court is adjourned. (BUCHAN and LEIGH walk off as QUIRK advances to the audience.)

QUIRK:

A fairly successful conclusion. When Lundrigan revived he promised to deliver up his premises without further trouble, and the remainder of the punishment was remitted. But the political agitators weren't satisfied, and started causing trouble. They even went so far as to appeal the conviction to the Supreme Court. (He walks back into the next scene as REVEREND JOHN LElCH follows in CHIEF JUSTICE SIR FRANCIS FORBES, who sits behind the table.)

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