At numerous points in The Rising of the Moon, various characters discuss the reward that has been offered for turning in the member of the “organization” who has escaped from jail. As the play begins, the Sergeant and Policeman B. and Policeman X. are beginning their search for the missing man along the quay. Policeman B. suggests posting a placard, out of a large roll they have brought, on a barrel. After consulting with the Sergeant, the policemen paste the notice there.
From the placard, the Sergeant reads the minimal description of the man and comments on his skills and position within the “organization.” With the policemen, they discuss the monetary amount of the reward the government is offering, as well as the certainty of promotion for a member of the police force who would catch him and turn him in. Policeman B. comments that a hundred pounds is a relatively small sum, but the promotion would be of greater value. He says:
A hundred pounds is little enough for the Government to offer for him. You may be sure any man in the force that takes him will get promotion.
The three men also discuss the popular sentiment for the movement, which will make them unpopular if they do catch the man. The policemen leave, but the Sergeant stays to look around the boats. Alone for a few seconds before a stranger walks up, the Sergeant muses further about the value of the money and the opportunity one man may gain.
A hundred pounds and promotion sure. There must be a great deal of spending in a hundred pounds. It’s a pity some honest man not to be the better of that.
At the end of the play, after he has let the man escape, the Sergeant looks once more at the placard. Thinking about the hundred pounds that could have been his, he speaks the play’s last line:
I wonder, now, am I as great a fool as I think I am?