The Hour of Truth
- Percival Wilde
The play, 'The Hour of Truth', is written by Percival Wilde. The play is taken from A Question of Morality and Other Plays. The characters are Robert Baldwin, Martha, John, Evie, Mr. Marshall, and a maid. The scene is set at Baldwin's cottage and it is Sunday afternoon. Robert Baldwin has gone outside. His wife and children are anxiously waiting for his arrival.
The sky is so dark. The family is expecting that it will rain and they don't know whether Baldwin would take his umbrella or not. While the family is waiting for Robert Baldwin's arrival, they are talking themselves about John Gresham on whose bank Mr. Baldwin worked. Now due to the financial crisis, the bank was closed and John Gresham is found guilty for that and is in jail. From their talk, it is evident that John Gresham's trial is on the next day, and John Baldwin is giving evidence against him. But John Gresham calls him that day. They are very anxiously to know why he calls Baldwin.
Evie has a doubt whether Baldwin has involved in “wrecking of the bank” because every newspaper is mentioning that, and Baldwin does not say anything against it. Martha tells that the newspaper is unfair to him. Since Baldwin is working under Gresham's orders, the family has a doubt whether he involved in the bank crash.
But Martha firmly believes that Baldwin never did anything at all. He found out about the bank crash by accident. John immediately says that he saw Donovan, the assistant cashier the last day at the Athletic Club. Donovan was working there for eight years. The news came “like a bolt out of a clear sky”. John has a suspicion that his father must have known about it because he is “the only witness against John Gresham”. Since he was named after John Gresham, John feels that because of John Gresham his name is damaged. Even he mentions that John Gresham has acquired a lot of wealth in these twenty years while his father is getting just sixty dollars a week. Martha tells that her husband is very dedicated to his work. Whatever John Gresham asked him to do without revolting he obeyed.
Finally, Robert Baldwin comes into the house. Everyone wants to how the crash happened in the bank. He tells that even he knows what John Gresham is doing only one day before the crash. It is under his pressure that John Gresham closed the bank. He even tells them why John Gresham asked him to meet. John Gresham wants him to tell, “I don't remember”, when the court asks anything about the bank crash to Robert Baldwin. If Robert Baldwin does this, he will get a hundred thousand dollars. But Robert Baldwin is an honest man. So he does not accept his proposal.
But when the whole family hears about the money, their mind begins to change. They begin to convince John Gresham. Martha wants to know whether the depositors would lose any money. Robert Baldwin replies that no one will lose anything. Thus the family comes to know that the money is safe. John Gresham's crime was that he misappropriated the funds.
The family begins to persuade Robert Baldwin to say lie and to help John Gresham. At first, Robert Baldwin is shocked. Martha tells him that since they named their son's name after John Gresham, it will be a disgrace to their son. Also, it was John Gresham who sponsored John’s baptizing. With these words, she forces Robert Baldwin to help John Gresham.
According to Evie, if John Gresham tells the depositors that he will pay everything back the next day, they will hate Robert Baldwin for sending John Gresham to jail. John supports her by saying, “Nobody wants to see him punished”. He also feels that if John Gresham does not go to jail, he will start a business where Robert can become his partner. This makes Robert Balwin get angry.
Martha tries to convince Robert Balwin by saying that now John is the sole breadwinner of the family. But his income is not sufficient for the family to survive. If Robert accepts a hundred thousand dollars from John Gresham, the family can lead a cozy life.
Robert Baldwin never thinks that his family will change after hearing the amount which John Gresham will pay if Robert Baldwin says, “I don’t remember” in the court. It makes him sad. He calls them “Shams”, “Liars”, “Hypocrites” and “Thieves”. Still, the family persuades him to accept the money. By this time, Mr. Marshall, the President of the Third National, arrives in the home. He gives a piece of happy news to Robert Baldwin and his family by telling them that a good position is awaiting Robert Baldwin in the Third National. He hears from John Gresham that Robert Baldwin has refused to tell lie in the court which prompted John Gresham to confess. Mr. Marshall is impressed by his honesty. As the play ends, he tells Robert Baldwin’s family, “I can only say to you what every man will be saying tomorrow: how highly I honour and respect your husband!...”.