“The Hour of Truth” is a gripping novel that explores the complexities of love, betrayal, and redemption in a small, close-knit community. The Hour Of Truth Lesson Summary as secrets unravel and hidden truths come to light, the characters are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and make life-altering decisions. Read More Class 12 English Summaries.
The Hour of Truth About The Author :
– Percival Wilde – (1887-1953)
Percival Wilde (1887-1953) was known for his plays and detective stories. This play is from the volume entitled “A Question of Morality and Other Plays”. It is a striking psychological study on the corrupting influence of money on people.
The Hour of Truth Summary in English
The Scene: At Baldwin’s
It is a hot and sultry Sunday afternoon. The sun overhead and the baked clay underfoot are merciless. In the distance, lowering clouds promise rain. At the Baldwin family, the people are awaiting the return of Baldwin.
John, Baldwin’s son, is an average youth of 27. He is smoking a pipe as if today is not anything different from the other days. His mother is knitting without much progress. Evie is trying to conceal her nervousness.
There is a tense pause. Nobody wants to break the silence. For the tenth time, in ten minutes, Evie goes to the window and look? out along the road.
Martha says that he should have come by now. She hopes he has not forgotten his umbrella as usual. She thinks it might rain and asks Evie about it. Without waiting for an answer Martha goes to the window and looks out anxiously. She says the sky is dark. Suddenly she starts because there was a flash of lightning.
Page 51: John moves to a nearby centre-table and knocks the ashes out of his pipe. His mother turns to him. She asks him to go to his father’s room and see that the windows are closed. John goes.
Evie tries to get the attention of her mother. She asks her why Mr. Gresham wanted her father. Has he done anything wrong? Martha says he has done nothing wrong. Mr. Gresham wanted to talk to him. Evie wants to know what is the thing that Mr. Gresham wanted to talk about. Mr Gresham has been arrested and they are going to try him the following day. Why does he want her father?
Martha says he is going to give evidence. Evie wants to know since her father is going to give evidence against Mr Gresham why does he want to see her father. Martha says she does not know. Robert does not say much about his business affairs. She did not know there was anything wrong with the bank until she saw it in the newspapers. Robert did not tell her to draw her money out. By doing that it would not be loyal to Mr. Gresham. But she withdrew the money against his wishes because she suspected something.
Evie wants to know if her father had anything to do with the wrecking of the bank. Did he know what was going oh. The papers are saying bad thing about him. Martha says they haven’t been fairto him.
Page 52: Evie says the papers said that he must have been a fool not to know that. Only he and Gresham could have known it. Then why didn’t he stop it? Martha says he was acting under Gresham’s orders. Evie wanted to know why her father should follow Gresham’s orders. Martha believes Robert never did a wrong thing in his life. He did not know he was wrong. He found it by accident. He found out what Gresham was doing. Evie wants to know how she knows all this.
Martha says she does not know it,for saw. But she suspects it. She is sure that Robert has not done anything Evie sees herfather coming. Martha asks Evie to stay where she is. She would like to talk to her husband first. John and Evie look at each other. John wonders what Gresham had to tell him. He looks through the window and sees it has started raining. John suddenly opens the door and greets his father. Baldwin comes in followed by Martha. He shakes hands with John and kisses Evie.
Page 54: Martha asks Robert if his shoes are wet. Baldwin says he took the car and so he is not wet. He goes to a chair and sits. John asks his father to tell them something about the problem. Baldwin pretends he did not understand. John says that people have been talking rotten things about his father. He could not contradict them. Baldwin asks why he could not. John says he did not know. Baldwin says but he knows his father. He says it was only a day before the smash-up he found out what Gresham was doing. He then asked Gresham to put all the money he had taken away back into the bank. But he said he could not. Then he told him to close the bank. But Gresham did not want to do that. But he made him do it. He was very angry. But Baldwin had the upper hand.
Evie says the papers did not mention those things. Baldwin says it was not necessary to tell them. Martha says by not telling the truth Robert is allowing people to doubt him.
Page 55: Baldwin says it will be cleared the following day. Gresham wanted to see him. The trial begins in 24 hours. He is the only witness against Gresham. He asked him to tell the court that he had an attack of poor memory. If he tells all the things he knows Gresham will go to jail. No power on earth can save him. Therefore he wants him to forget a little – the essential things. He told him when they question him he should say “I don’t remember.” They can’t prove whether he remembers or not. John thinks it would be a lie.
Baldwin says it is a lie. But it is done every day. And they could not touch him and they cant convict Gresham. Martha was angry at Gresham’s daring to ask her husband to tell a lie. Evie wants to know what her father’s reply to Gresham was. Baldwin asks John what would he have said if such a- request was made to him. John says he would have told him to go to the devil. Baldwin says he did the same thing. But he did not use the words John used. He is an old friend. But Gresham knew what he meant. Evie wants to know what was Gresham’s reaction.
Page 56: Baldwin says Gresham was not surprised. He had known him for 35 years. Anybody who knew him that long won’t expect him to tell a lie. If it was somebody else he would have hit him on the face. But Gresham and he were boys together and they worked side by side. He has been working for him since he started business. He is desperate now. He does not know what he is doing. He offered him money.
John was surprised to hear that. Baldwin says he was offered 100,000 dollars. But he has only a few years to live and he wants to die clean. Gresham had put aside that money for him without anybody knowing it. He says it is out of his private fortune and not from the depositors’ money. It makes no difference.
Evie could not believe that her father was offered 100,000 dollars. Baldwin says he could get that money simply by saying one word ‘Yes’, or for nodding his head or even a look of the eyes. John wants to know whether Gresham meant what he said. Baldwin says his word is good. He never lied to him. He unlocked his drawer and showed him the 100,000 in cash. Baldwin examined them and found the bills (notes) were genuine. Evie enquires for that amount if her father has to simply say ‘I don’t remember’. Baldwin says yes.
Page 57: Baldwin says those three words would choke him if he tried to speak them. For some others it would be easy. If he told a lie all of his past would rise up and hit him in the face. It would mean he had been a living lie. He wouldn’t be then the honourable man he was thought to be. When John Gresham offered him money, he was angry. But Gresham showed no surprise which was a compliment to Baldwin. John says it was a compliment that cost him 100,00 dollars.
Martha wants to know if the depositors would lose much. Baldwin says they won’t lose a’cent. Evie felt the papers said a different story. Baldwin says they printed something without knowing the truth. They were simply guessing. He said he wanted Gresham to say the position regarding the depositors’ money. It will come out the following day.
John wanted to know why he did not say the truth to the papers before. They had been asking him. Baldwin says nothing forced him to give an answer. Baldwin thinks Gresham will be punished for misappropriating funds. John wonders what crime Gresham has committed. Evie thinks if nobody loses anything there is no crime.
Page 58: Baldwin says they can’t let Gresham go free. He is too conspicuous. John wants to know whether it is right. Baldwin says his opinion does not matter. But he is sorry for Gresham. John thinks it is a technicality. Since nobody loses a cent, why should Gresham be punished! Evie wants to know if it is too bad if her father lets Gresham off. Baldwin says he wants to let Gresham off, but he is not the judge. Evie says he is the only witness against Gresham. John supports her. He further says that it is bad if they put John Gresham in jail because his father named him John Gresham.
Martha wants clarification. She wants Baldwin to repeat what Gresham told him. Baldwin says Gresham told him to get him off tomorrow. Martha wants to know if he can do that. Baldwin says yes, by answering ‘I don’t remember1 when they ask him dangerous questions.
Page 58: Martha wants to know if he remembers everything. Baldwin says yes. John wants to know if he remembers everything. Baldwin says yes because he has notes also. John then wants to know if he will remember things without those notes. He thinks he will have to rely on the notes. Baldwin says everybody else does the same thing. John then says that means if he says ‘I don’t remember’ it won’t be far from the truth. Martha also thinks that Gresham is not asking too much from Baldwin. Baldwin is surprised to see Martha encouraging him to say ‘I don’t remember’.
Martha says she is as honorable as her husband. She thinks it is not right to send an old friend to jail. When their son John was baptized Gresham stood sponsor for him and they were very proud. Does Robert remember what he said that day when they were returning home from Church? He had said, “Martha, may our son always live up to the name which we have given him.”Baldwin says he dimly remembers it.
Page 60: Martha says it would be very sad if their son’s name should come to grief through him (Robert). Robert wants to know if Martha is telling him to accept the bribe money Gresham offered. Evie wants to know why he calls it bribe money. Robert says Gresham called it with a prettier name. He said he had underpaid him all those years. He said the 100,000 represented the difference between what he had paid and what actually he deserved.
Martha says Gresham was right. Robert had worked sincerely for him all those years. Robert said that Gresham felt that if he had paid him what he should have, Robert would have more than 100,000 by now. John agrees with the logic of Gresham. Baldwin says he never asked him to raise his salary. When he raised it, it was on his own accord. He asks Evie for her opinion.
Evie says what people would think if her father goes to the stand to give witness and they put John Gresham in jail. Robert says they will think he has done his duty. Evie says that when the depositors find out that they have not lost any money, they will not want Gresham to go to jail. They will feel sorry for him. Baldwin agrees.
Page 61: John says people will not be happy with the man who caused Gresham to go to jail. Martha supports John and says people will say that Robert did not help an old friend. John says that when Robert pulls out the notes in court, Gresham will surely go to jail. Evie feels that Gresham has not done anything wrong. John says it is a mere technicality. Nobody loses a cent. Nobody wants Gresham punished. Evie says only her father wants Gresham punished. John wants to know how his father can send the man, whose name he has given to his son, to jail. Martha says she believes in mercy and Gresham has always been good to Robert. Martha also reminds him that he is out of work as the bank is closed.
Baldwin says he will find a position somewhere. John says that if Gresham does not go to jail he will start his business again and he will offer Robert a partnership. The 100,000 could be put in business. Moreover Gresham will remain grateful to Robert.
Page 62: Martha says 100,000 dollars would mean a lot to them. If Robert does not find a job soon, John, their son, will have to support them. John says he gets only 30 dollars a week and that would not be much for the family. Evie begins to weep. John tells his father that he has said nothing to the papers. If he says nothing more tomorrow, it will be simply sticking to his friend. He has done a lot for him and he has to reciprocate.
Baldwin tries to look at each one. They all turn their eyes away. Do they want him to take the money? He wants an answer, yes or no, from at least one of them. He could not go into partnership with Gresham. Martha asks him why. He says people would not trust him. John then says he could go into business with someone else. 100,000 is a lot of money.
Baldwin walks to the window. He says he never thought such a day would come. Whatever they say taking money from Gresham is a dishonorable thing. He asks all of them to admit it. John says nobody will hear of it. Baldwin says but they will know it among themselves. Whatever they are to the world, they should be honest with each other. He looks at each one. He lifts Martha’s head and looks into her eyes. He shudders. He calls them Shams, Liars, Hypocrites and Thieves. He is not better than any of them. They have seen their souls naked. He asks for an answer from them.
Page 63: Martha says it is not wrong. Baldwin says it is not right. John repeats that 100,000 dollars is a lot of money. John thinks he refused the money because he was afraid what they would say. Baldwin agrees. John says nobody will know it. Baldwin says except the 4 of them. John sees someone coming. Martha asks who it is. John says it is Marshall. The door bell rings, a maid enters and goes out through the other. She re-enters and says someone wants to see Robert. She hands him a card. It is Marshall. Martha wants to know if he is the President of the Third National. Baldwin says yes and wonders why he has come there. The maid asks him if he should send the visitor in. Baldwin asks her to send him in. The maid goes out.
Page 64: Martha crosses to him quickly and tells him to be careful of what he says. He is to go on the stand tomorrow. Baldwin says yes. Marshall enters the room. He asks them if they are spending the afternoon indoors. He shakes hands with Mrs. Baldwin. Martha says they were just going out and calls Evie. Marshall says they don’t have to go out because of him. He tells that he has come to tell Baldwin that if he wants to work with the Third National, he will be given a position.
Baldwin is shocked. He asks Marshall if it is really true. Marshall says it is true. He had gone to see Gresham that afternoon. He told him about the offer he had made. “But he knew no amount of money would make you do something you thought wrong. He paid you the best compliment. Instead of making you testify against him, he confessed.” Baldwin sinks into a chair saying, ‘Confessed!’ Marshall continues and says he told him the whole story. He then turns to Martha and tells her that every man will be telling her how highly he honours and respects her husband. How sincere he was! Martha holds Marshall’s hand and asks him to stop praising as Baldwin is crying.
In the final revelation of “The Hour Of Truth Class 12,” the characters’ lives are forever changed as they grapple with the profound impact of honesty and forgiveness. This thought-provoking narrative ultimately underscores the enduring power of truth and reconciliation in the face of adversity.