SUMMARY: The play opens with two policemen headed
by a sergeant, deployed at the side of a landing place in a seaport town to arrest an absconding Irish revolutionary The time is night whitened by moonlight. The British Government that rules over Ireland now has made all attempts to get the absconding rebel leader captured again. It has secret information that the rebel leader will meet the revolutionaries at the landing site of the seaport and then escape together. One of the policemen on duty pastes the placards containing a description of the physical appearance of the leader on a barrel lying there. Then the two policemen start for the town with a lantern to paste placards there.
The Sergeant now reads the Placard. The declaration of the reward of one hundred pounds on the rebel’s head encourages him to arrest the absconder. His is a paid job. If he succeeds in arresting the absconder he will get one hundred pounds as the reward, which will prove to be a great financial support for his family. Besides, he also hopes promotion to a higher post for his success in arresting the absconder.
A man in poor cloth is found to be slipping past the Sergeant. He is intercepted and asked to produce his Sopan’s Compl. English
identity and where-about. The man, called the Ragged Man, reveals that he is a poor ballad singer. He wants to sing ballads to earn some money and to sell some ballads to the sailors also. The Sergeant orders him to leave the place immediately.
While moving back to leave the place he finds the placard to read which he stops and then tells the Sergeant that the man in the placard is well-known to him. The Sergeant becomes curious and asks him to tell him about ther man’s nature. The Ragged Man tells him that the man in the placard is very dangerous. He does not have the courage to meet him even if e offered a reward ten times more than the declared reward. Then he makes an attempt to leave the place but the Sergeant stops him and tells him to give him more information about the man in the placard.
The Ragged Man informs the Sergeant that the absconder is expert in the use of all weapons. He is very strong with hard muscles. He had recently killeda sergeant with a lump of stone and put to death another policeman in Limerick in a moonlit night by the sea-side. He may kill them any moment. What the Ragged Man informs him of the absconder frihtens the Sergeant. The Sergeant want the Ragged Man to stay there to give him company, but he will not be allowed to share the reward if the Sergeant arrests the absconding rebel leader. The Ragged man assures the Sergeant that he will not demand a share of the reward and tells him furter that people will question his reputation that he is the man who has taken a reward from the government for getting a patriot arrested. So he will no risk it.
Sopan’s Compl. English keep a full watch. He tries to be intimate with the Sergeant through various devices. He takes a match from the Sergeant and lights his pipe. They smoke and talk. The Sergeant opens his mind to the Ragged Man that the job of the police is poorly paid, hard and risky and always invites abuses from people.
Then in order to rouse the patriotic feeling in the Sergeant the Ragged Man who poses as a ballad singer, begins to sing a patriotic son about the woes of Granuaile. He deliberately omits a line while singing and the Sergeant supplies the missing line. This wonders the Man. The Conversation that continues between them reveals that the Sergeant is a former revolutionary, and poverty has led him to join the police force and thus to detach himself from the revolutionaries. He would have been a revolutionary leader now if we had remained in the party. When he becomes conscious of his present position and duty, he controls his emotion and changes his mood and opinion saying that he controls his emotion and changes his mood and opinion saying that he was a foolish man in those days. He asks the Man to stop talking like that as he tilts the Sergeant that he may still join the freedom movement of Ireland against the British Government which is ruling
over Ireland. The Sergeant rushes to the steps and looks down as suddenly a splash of oars comes to his ears. The man sings a new song, which is clearly a signal, indicating some message. The Sergeant tells him to stop but he defies the Sergeant. The Sergeant suspects him to be one associated with the revolutionaries and threatens to arrest him. The Man moves towards the steps when he hears the sound of whistle, indicating the signal of the answer of the message The Sergeant intercepts him and demands to reveal his true indentity because he is convinced that the Ragge Man is not a ballad signer. Then the Man puts off his ha and wig and points to the placard that reveals that he the absconding revolutionary whom the Sergeant looking for to arrest. His true identity is revealed and the Sergeant becomes confused. The Sergeant seizes his ha and wig. The Man requests him to allow him to meet friend of his, who has come in a boat below to take him a place of safety. The Sergeant refuses to let him escape a it is duty to arrest him. He whips out a pistol from his f breast to compel the Sergeant to let him pass.
Then the two policemen return. The rebel leader hides himself behind the barrel and requests the Sergean not to betray him. The patriotic feeling in the Sergean prevents him from betraying the rebel leader. He holds back the wig and the hat which he seizes from the rebel leader. The policemen put some puzzling questions to him which the Sergeant answers somehow and then orders them to leave the place and watch the seaport so that the absconder may not escape and their attempt to arrest him may not go in vain. The policemen linger there for sometime and finally leave the place to obey the order.
The absconding rebel comes out from behind the barrel. The Sergeant hands him back the seized wig an hat and does not prevent him from escaping forwards the steps. The rebel leader looks at him gratefully and assure him that he will remember him for this night’s help an will do something for him when Ireland achieves freedom The leader escapes and the Sergeant remains alone the with the deep thought of what he has done now. He lose the rewards of one hundred pounds. He begins to th deeply whether it is a foolish or justified act.