The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Act 2

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Lydian sends Edward with Henry to go huckleberry hunting. Edward says he wishes Henry was his father, a sentiment he later repeats to his mother. Lydian suggests that Henry should get married, and he says nature is his chosen bride. Back in the jail cell, Bailey asks Henry to be his lawyer, but Henry refuses. The action shifts to Walden Woods, where Henry feeds an escaped slave, Henry Williams, on his way to Canada. The time shifts ahead, and Henry and Waldo argue about the fact that Waldo is not protesting the release of slaves like Williams, who has been shot. Henry accuses Waldo of not practicing what he preaches, and encourages Waldo, who has much more influence than Henry, to speak out against slavery and the war. Waldo hesitantly agrees, and Henry rushes off, ringing the town bell and announcing that Waldo is going to make a speech. Lydian comes up and tells Henry that Waldo is not coming, that he has chosen to think over the matter and write a carefully worded essay describing his position. The crowd disperses. Henry tries to get their attention again, but this time, the bell makes no sound.

Back in his jail cell, Henry is in the grips of a nightmare. The Mexican war rages around his sleeping body, and all of the major characters in the play are in the battle. Edward Emerson is a drummer boy, Sam Staples is a sergeant, Bailey is a soldier, Ball is the general, and Waldo is the president. Henry tries to talk to Waldo, but no sound comes out. When Ball asks Waldo for instructions, he says that he needs to collect his thoughts. Williams appears as a Mexican soldier. Edward is wounded, but Waldo ignores this fact, saying he needs more time to think, and write a carefully worded essay. The unseen voice of then-Congressman Abraham Lincoln advocates stopping the war. John comes on the scene in a soldier’s uniform and gets killed.

Back in the jail cell, Henry wakes up from his nightmare, and finds Sam is there with breakfast. He also tells Henry that...
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