The Night Watchman


Act I:    THE INQUIRY

Scene i:  Two Old Women
Scene ii:  The Inquiry
Scene iii:  The whale ship Two Brothers
Scene iv:  The Inquiry


Act II:   THE PREPARATIONS

Scene i:  Owner's office
Scene ii:  Riddell's living room
Scene iii:  Nantucket wharves
Scene iv:  A Conspiracy
Scene v:  Congregational church


Act III:  THE DIFFICULTIES

Scene i:  The whale ship Essex August 12, 1819
Scene ii:  The Inquiry
Scene iii:  To turn back?
Scene iv:  The Archimedes
Scene v:  The Pollard's living room
Scene vi:  The Inquiry
Scene vii:  The Essex November 16, 1820
Scene viii:  The Essex November 17, 1820
Scene ix:  The Essex November 18, 1820


Act IV:  THE DISASTER

Scene i:  The Essex November 19 and after
Scene ii:  Ducie's Island
Scene iii:  The Inquiry
Scene iv:  The Burial at sea
Scene v:  The Inquiry
Scene vi:  The Third Boat
Scene vii:  The Captain's Boat
Scene viii:  The Inquiry
Scene ix:  The Dream
Scene x:  The Captain's Boat
Scene xi:  The Inquiry
Scene xii:  The Captain's Boat
Scene xiii:  The Inquiry
Scene xiv:  The Hospital


Act V:  THE RETURN

Scene i:  The Inquiry
Scene ii:  The Two Brothers under Captain Worth
Scene iii:  The Inquiry
Scene iv:  The Two Brothers under Captain Pollard
Scene v:  The Inquiry
Scene vi:  The Pollard's living room
Scene vii:  Nantucket wharves


Most of the action occurs in the ship owners offices where the Inquiry is being conducted. The story that is being related, and that occurs outside of those offices, should be suggested by changes in the lighting and appropriate sound effects and by having the actors occupy a part of that office behind Pollard where he can turn and join them. Essentially, Pollard, Ransom and Worth are seated at a table which is stage right, far enough over to allow adequate space for the rest of the scenes to take place.

CHARACTERS
(in order of appearance)

First Old Woman
Second Old Woman
Jerrard Ransom
George Pollard
George Worth
Eben Gardner
Gideon Folger
Mary Riddell Pollard
Owen Coffin
Mrs. Nancy Coffin
Pastor
Owen Chase
Matthew Joy
Thomas Chapple
Joseph West
Lawson Thomas
Charles Shorter
Isaiah Shepherd
William Bond
Benjamin Lawrence
Thomas Nicholson
Isaac Cole
Richard Peterson
William Wright
Obed Hendricks
Brazilia Ray
Charles Ramsdale
Samuel Reed
Seth Weeks
George Coffin
Woman
Bow Watch
Mother
Younger Son
Older Son
Cleaning Woman
Cleaning Woman
Insurance Adjustor
Captain: Essex, Two Bros.
Capt. Two Bros. & Co-owner
First Mate: Two Bros.
Essex: Owner
Wife: Capt. Pollard
17 year old nephew of Capt. Pollard, son: Nancy C.
Aunt of Capt. Pollard
Congregational Church
First Mate - Essex
2nd Mate - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex (Black)
Crew - Essex (Black)
Crew - Essex (Black)
Crew - Essex (Black)
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex (Black)
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex
Crew - Essex (Black)
Crew - Essex
Capt. Archimedes
In Dream
Two Brothers
On the Wharf
About 4 or 5 years old.
About 11 or 12 years old

ACT I
Scene i


Two old women are standing at the window of the offices of a ship-owning company near the wharves in Nantucket town, one is leaning on the handle of a broom, the other on the handle of a mop. It is early evening in May of the year 1845.


First Woman

There he goes.

Second Woman

A strange man.

First Woman

A peculiar man.

Second Woman

A man with a scar on his soul as another might have on his hand or his face.

First Woman

He doesn't talk of it much.

Second Woman

He is cut off from his soul by the scar.

First Woman

He never speaks of it.

Second Woman

Everybody knows!

First Woman

Still he never speaks of it.

Second Woman

No one asks!

First Woman

No one wants to hear it.

Second Woman

But to never speak of it.

First Woman

He spoke during the first Inquiry and was given another ship.

Second Woman

He is an unlucky man.

First Woman

To be still about such a thing.

Second Woman

Perhaps he speaks about it to his wife.

First Woman

Perhaps. . . Yet I think not.

Second Woman

He could not speak about it to his family.

First Woman

His Mother. . .

Second Woman

May she rest in peace.

First Woman

His Mother found it too terrible, too disturbing.

Second Woman

It was her sister's child.

First Woman

Of course!

Second Woman

Now he says nothing about it.

First Woman

Maybe he hopes people will forget and let him rest.

Second Woman

But he cannot forget and rest.

First Woman

He seems to like the hours by himself.

Second Woman

He inspects the wharves, then stands at the end
gazing out to sea.

First Woman

Who knows what he is thinking.

Second Woman

He is not exactly mad . . .

First Woman

No.

Second Woman

He likes it best in the dark - to be alone in the
dark. Nobody can see him brooding.

First Woman

He is faithful to the Darkness as to any wife.

Second Woman

They have an understanding.

First Woman

He knows Her power and She has tested him.

Second Woman

They are comfortable in each other's bed.

First Woman

It is an Unholy thing.

Second Woman

God has made the Darkness as well as the Light.

First Woman

Aye, that He did, but He made the Darkness for man to sleep through.

Second Woman

Yet some men He made to look upon the Night side of Creation. Once having flown open, their eyes can never again wholly accommodate the Day!

First Woman

A monstrous thing.

Second Woman

To be told by the Mute to the Deaf.

First Woman

Yet, from this strange man's story
Let each man draw succor,
Against the time
When he might be
Night's solitary company.

ACT I
Scene ii


Captain George Pollard, Captain George Worth, Insurance Agent Mr. Jerrard Ransom in the same office of the Ship-owning company September 1823.

MR. RANSOM

Name?

GEORGE POLLARD

George Pollard.

MR. RANSOM

Occupation?

GEORGE POLLARD

Night Watchman.

MR. RANSOM

What?

GEORGE WORTH

No. It’s Captain George Pollard, whale-ship master, member of the Pacific Club, driver of the Nantucket sleigh, fueler for the lamps of the world.

MR. RANSOM

Then it's Captain Pollard.

GEORGE POLLARD

Yes.

MR. RANSOM

You are too modest Captain.

GEORGE POLLARD

I did not mean to be modest.

MR. RANSOM

Your present employment is temporary, surely.

GEORGE POLLARD

I think not.

GEORGE WORTH

You should not prejudge this hearing Captain.

GEORGE POLLARD

I am not prejudging it.

MR. RANSOM

It will not garner any sympathy for you, the case must be decided on the facts.

GEORGE POLLARD

What do the facts tell of it?

MR. RANSOM

We must have the facts to make our decision.

GEORGE POLLARD

Which facts do you want?

MR. RANSOM

You have been through this before Captain

GEORGE POLLARD

With the Essex?

MR. RANSOM

Indeed Sir. And you were given another ship.

GEORGE POLLARD

The Two Brothers.

MR. RANSOM

Yes, it is the destruction of that ship that we are inquiring about.

GEORGE POLLARD

Do you not think they are related?

MR. RANSOM

How can they be related, they were two different ships, two different owners, different crews . . .

GEORGE POLLARD

They are related by..., I believe they are related.

MR. RANSOM

Sir, it is only the Two Brothers that we are concerned about.

GEORGE WORTH

Let him tell his story as he wishes. If you do not care to take it all down, Mr. Ransom, then just take down that which concerns the Two Brothers.

MR. RANSOM

Very well.

GEORGE POLLARD

Thank you Captain Worth.

GEORGE WORTH

Proceed Captain Pollard.

GEORGE POLLARD

Mr. Ransom, I will satisfy you first and tell you what happened to the Two Brothers. As you know we sailed on October 8, 1821 for the Azores and from there round the Horn to the Pacific. We were in the Pacific over a year. Having fished off the coast of South America and taken on a good store of whale oil, we were bound out for the hunting grounds off Japan. We even passed near to where the Essex was stricken and from where we…where I had pushed off two years before on a fateful voyage in a small boat. Sir, might I have some water, if it would not be too much trouble.

MR. RANSOM

Certainly Captain (he hands a glass of water to Pollard).

GEORGE POLLARD

Thank you. Have you ever been thirsty Mr. Ransom?

MR. RANSOM

Of course!

GEORGE POLLARD

No, Mr. Ransom, I mean truly a thirst?

MR. RANSOM

I am not sure I know what you mean.

GEORGE POLLARD

I mean, Mr. Ransom, have you ever been so droughty that your skin was stitched to your bones, that your tear ducts could produce no tears, and your groans had to be lightered to pass over your lips.

MR. RANSOM

Captain, I do not understand you.

GEORGE POLLARD

No, I can see that you do not.

MR. RANSOM

What has this to do with the wreck of the Two Brothers?

GEORGE POLLARD

Everything, Mr. Ransom….and, then again, nothing.

MR. RANSOM

Please, Captain Pollard, get on with it. I do have other business.

GEORGE POLLARD

Yes, I am sure you do, I would I had had "other business." Excuse me, Mr. Ransom and Captain Worth for taking up your time. It has not been considerate of me, and Captain Worth, I owe you such a great deal.

GEORGE WORTH

It was nothing, Captain Pollard.

GEORGE POLLARD

Nothing! Nothing you say! You were kind enough to give me another ship.

GEORGE WORTH

I could tell from speaking with you on the way home from Valparaiso that you deserved another ship. I was just an old sailor looking for a chance to retire, and I had an opportunity to become an owning partner, and see my ship in good hands.

GEORGE POLLARD

You gave me your ship Sir. And I have lost it.

GEORGE WORTH

That is Mr. Ransom's problem, not mine. You did the best you could. I'm sure of it.

GEORGE POLLARD

Did I?

MR. RANSOM

That is what we are here to find out Captain Pollard, Captain Worth is a bit too hasty.

GEORGE POLLARD

Quite right, Mr. Ransom, quite right! That is what must be determined, determined exactly, precisely, dispassionately. Truth served! There must be no withholding, no reservation of any kind, the accounts rendered down to the souls last pennyworth. That is the way I would have it!

MR. RANSOM

I am glad that you agree Captain.

GEORGE POLLARD

I do indeed!

MR. RANSOM

Please then, proceed.

GEORGE POLLARD

Where was I?

MR. RANSOM

You said you had left the South American hunting grounds and were sailing toward the Pacific grounds and had passed the place where the Essex was lost.

GEORGE POLLARD

Yes, indeed it was so. We were west of the Sandwich Islands when the winds began to rise.

ETC.