Then, just as we were thinking of repose, the watchmen of the schooner would hail a splash of paddles away in the starlit gloom of the bay; a voice would respond in cautious tones, and our serang
, putting his head down the open skylight, would inform us without surprise, "That Rajah, he coming.
In Marsh Hay, the only full-length script included in the collection, Denison conveyed the squalor and desperation of the Serangs, a poor, rural family in Ontario trying to farm what the father, John Serang, repeatedly refers to as "fifty acres of grey stone: "When one of John's teenaged daughters, Sarilin, becomes pregnant, he tries to force a shot-gun wedding.
As with the set, Denison also revised the character of John Serang in successive drafts to make him more ominous in the eventual published version.
As Denison conveys within the opening scene of Marsh Hay, the private sphere of the Serang home is neither the cozy sanctuary nor the base from which mothers can exert the so-called moral authority that maternal feminists promoted.
Clantch, a customer, blames John Serang, saying his rigidity has made his daughter rebel.
Justice appears elusive until one of the characters, an elderly man with legal training, suggests that the Serang family is entitled to a real trial in a larger town.
Act Three returns to the Serang home where Lena has been busy redecorating.
Clantch visits the Serang home, she becomes Lends foil in a debate about virtue.
In the final Act of Marsh Hay, the air of desperation that permeated Act One returns to the Serang household and is once again conveyed symbolically.
In the emotional excitement surrounding the sexual tragedy of the youngest daughter, the mother, Lena Serang, receives the spark of an inspiration that burns brightly in her breast long enough for her to make a splendid but futile stand against convention and is then extinguished forever.
Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, Jamie Portman was more unequivocal than Taylor, claiming that "Denison is merciless in depicting the climate of social disapproval and male hypocrisy unleashed by such a situation." This sentiment was echoed by the Toronto Star's Geoff Chapman: "[John] Serang, constantly whining about 20 years of profitless toil, can't shake off his boorish patriarchal role and eventually the cycle of despair is renewed" ("Brutish").