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Title:      The Merry-go-round (1912)
Author:     D. H. Lawrence
eBook No.:  0500031.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          January 2005
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Title:      The Merry-go-round (1912)
Author:     D. H. Lawrence




A PLAY IN FIVE ACTS




CHARACTERS

MRS HEMSTOCK

NURSE BROADBANKS

MR HEMSTOCK

HARRY HEMSTOCK

BARON RUDOLF VON RUGE

THE BAKER, JOB ARTHUR BOWERS

MRS SUSY SMALLEY

DR FOULES

RACHEL WILCOX

BARONESS VON RUGE

MR WILCOX



ACT I

SCENE I:  Downstairs front room of the Hemstocks' cottage

SCENE II:  Kitchen of the Hemstocks' house


ACT II

SCENE I:  The same

SCENE II:  Kitchen of the Hemstocks' house


ACT III

SCENE I:  The dining-room at the vicarage

SCENE II:  Nurse's room at the miner's cottage


ACT IV

SCENE I:  Kitchen of the Hemstocks' house


ACT V

SCENE I:  Porch of the Grunston church

SCENE II:  Beside the vicarage garden walk

SCENE III:  Porch of the Grunston church




ACT I


SCENE I


The downstairs front room of a moderate-sized cottage.  There is a
wide fireplace, with a heaped-up ashy fire.  The parlour is used as
a bedroom, and contains a heavy old-fashioned mahogany dressing-
table, a washstand, and a bedstead whose canopy is missing, so that
the handsome posts stand like ruined columns.  The room is in an
untidy, neglected condition, medicine bottles and sickroom
paraphernalia littered about.  In the bed, a woman between sixty
and seventy, with a large-boned face, and a long plait of fine dark
hair.  Enter the parish NURSE, in uniform, but without cloak and
bonnet.  She is a well-built woman of some thirty years, smooth-
haired, pale, soothing in manner.


MRS HEMSTOCK:  Eh, Nurse, I'm glad to see thee.  I HAN been
motherless while thou's been away.

NURSE:  Haven't they looked after you, Mrs Hemstock?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  They hanna, Nurse.  Here I lie, day in, day out,
like a beetle on my back, an' not a soul comes nigh me, saving th'
Mester, when 'e's forced.  An' 'im.  (She points to mirror of
dressing-table.)

NURSE:  Who is that, Mrs Hemstock?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Canna ter see 'im?  That little fat chap as stands
there laughing at me.

NURSE:  There's no little fat chap, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  There is an' a'.  He's bobbing a' thee now.

NURSE, who has been rolling up her sleeves, showing a fine white
arm, throws her rolled cuffs at the mirror.

NURSE:  Then we'll send him away.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Nay, dunna thee hurt him.  'E's nowt but a little
chap!

NURSE:  I'll wash you, shall I?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha nedna but gi' me a catlick.  I'm as snug as a
bug in a rug.

NURSE (laughing):  Very well.

She goes into the kitchen.

MRS HEMSTOCK (calling):  Who's in there, Nurse?

NURSE:  There's nobody, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I bet he's gallivanting off after some woman.

NURSE (calling):  Who?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Why, our Mester.  'E's a ronk 'un, I can tell you.
'As our Harry done it?

NURSE:  Done what, Mrs Hemstock?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Cut 'is throat.  'E's allers threatenin'!

NURSE (entering with a jug of hot water):  What!  You're not
serious, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Aren't I?  But I am.  An' 'e'll do it one o' these
days, if 'e's not a'ready.  I 'avena clapped eyes on him for five
days.

NURSE:  How is that?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Eh, dunna ax me.  'E niver comes in if 'e can 'elp
it.

NURSE:  How strange!  Why is it, do you think?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Summat's gen 'im mulligurles.  'E'll not live long.

NURSE:  What!  Harry?  He's quite young, and has nothing the
matter, has he?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  You know, Nurse, I 'as a fish inside me.  I wor like
Jonah back'ards.  I used ter feel it floppin' about in my inside
like a good 'un, an' nobody'd get it out--

NURSE:  But Harry hasn't got a fish in his inside--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  'E 'asna--but I believe 'e's got a leech.

NURSE:  Oh!

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Dunna thee wet my 'air, Nurse--it ma'es it go grey.

NURSE (smiling):  Very well, I'll be careful.  But what makes you
say Harry has a leech in his inside?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  On 'is 'eart.  'Asn't ter noticed 'e gets as white-
faced as a flat fish?  It's that.

NURSE:  Oh, and did he swallow it?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  'E didna.  'E bred it like a mackerel's head breeds
maggots.

NURSE:  How dreadful!

MRS HEMSTOCK:  When you've owt up with you, you allers breed
summat.

NURSE:  And what was up with Mr Hemstock?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  With our Mester?

NURSE:  With Harry.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  You knowed, didna you, as 'e'd had ructions wi'
Rachel Wilcox?

NURSE:  No.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Oh, yes.  'E fell off 'is bike eighteen month sin',
a'most into her lap, an' 'er's been sick for 'im ever sin'.

NURSE:  But he didn't care for her?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I dunno.  'E went out wi' 'er for about twelve month--
but 'e never wanted 'er.  'E's funny, an' allers 'as been.

NURSE:  Rather churlish?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  No--'e wor allers one o' the' lovin' sor' when 'e
wor but a lad, 'd follow me about, and "mammy" me.

NURSE:  But he got into bad ways--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Well, I got sick of him stormin' about like a cat
lookin' for her kittens, so I hustled him out.  'E began drinkin' a
bit, an' carryin' on.  I thought 'e wor goin' to be like his father
for women.  But 'e wor allers a mother's lad--an' Rachel Wilcox
cured him o' women.

NURSE:  She's not a nice girl.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  'E'd only ter stick 'is 'ead out of the door an'
'er'd run like a pig as 'ears the bucket.  'Er wor like a cat
foriver slidin', rubbin' 'erself against him.

NURSE:  How dreadful!

MRS HEMSTOCK:  But I encouraged 'er.  I thought 'e wor such a soft
'un, at 'is age, a man of thirty!

NURSE:  Was he always quiet?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Eh, bless you.  'E'd talk the leg off an iron pot,
once on a day.  But now, it's like pottering to get a penny out of
a money box afore you can get a word from 'im edgeways.

NURSE:  And he won't come to see you.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Not him!  'E once had a rabbit what got consumption,
an' 'e wouldn't kill it, nor let me, neither would he go near it,
so it died of starvation, an' 'e throwed a hammer at me for telling
him so.  You see--harsh!  That's our Mester.

NURSE:  Yes.  Do I hurt you?  They've let your hair get very
cottered.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Get it out, Nurse--never mind me.

Enter MR HEMSTOCK, a very white-haired old man, clean-shaven, with
brown eyes.  There is a certain courtliness in his quiet bearing.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I'm glad to see YOU back, Nurse--very glad.  (He bows
by instinct.)

NURSE:  Thank you, Mr Hemstock.  I'm pleased to see you again.

MRS HEMSTOCK (to her husband):  Tha'rt not 'alf as glad to see her
as I am.  'Ere I lie from hour to hour, an' niver a sound but cows
rumblin' and cocks shoutin'.  An' where dost reckon tha's been?
Tha's been slivin' somewhere like a tomcat, ever sin' breakfast.

MR HEMSTOCK (to NURSE):  I've been gone ten minutes.  (To his
wife.)  I've on'y been for a penn'orth of barm ter ma'e thee some
barm dumplings.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' wheer's our Harry?

MR HEMSTOCK:  He's in garden, diggin'.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  What are ter out o' breath wi'?

MR HEMSTOCK:  I've been runnin' our Susy's kids.  They was drivin'
our fowls again.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha shouldna ha' wanted ter come here, a mile away
from anybody but our Susy.

NURSE:  It is rather lonely--only Mrs Smalley's farm and your
cottage.  And the children ARE rather wild.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Let me live in a street.  What does colliers want
livin' in country cottages, wi' nowt but fowls an' things shoutin'
at you or takin' no notice of you, as if you was not there?

MR HEMSTOCK (to NURSE):  We came for the garden.

NURSE:  I suppose you are still on strike.

MR HEMSTOCK:  There's talk of settlement.  I see they're opening
some of the pits.  But I've done, you know.

NURSE:  Of course you have, Mr Hemstock.  Harry will be glad to
begin, though.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I'm afraid whether 'e'll get a job.  You see--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  What hast got for dinner?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Roast pork, rushes, barm dumplings.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Then look slippy about gettin' it ready.  I'm
clammin'.  Ha' thy heels crack.

MR HEMSTOCK (to NURSE):  You wouldn't think she'd been bedfast
thirteen month, would you?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha nedna ha'e none o' thy palaver wi' Nurse.
Nurse, ta'e no notice o' a word 'e says.  (HEMSTOCK goes out.)

MRS HEMSTOCK:  He's a good cook, and that's all you can say for
him.

NURSE:  I think he's very good to you, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  He's too busy runnin' after a parcel o' women to be
good to me.

NURSE:  If all men were as good--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha's niver had him to put up wi'.  Tha's niver been
married, 'as ter?

NURSE:  No, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  A man's fair enough to you' face--if 'e's not as fow
as a jackass; but let you' back be turned, an' you no more know
what's in his breeches an' waistcoat than if 'e wor another man.

NURSE:  Oh, Mrs Hemstock!

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Yes, an' tha'll "oh" when tha knows.

NURSE:  I'm sure you're getting tired.  Won't you have your bed
made?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Sin' it's gone that long, it might easy go a bit
longer.

NURSE:  Why, when was it made last?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  How long has thee been gone away?

NURSE:  Three weeks.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Then it's that long.

NURSE:  Oh, what a shame!  Wouldn't Mrs Smalley do it?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Our Susy!  'Er'd better not show 'er face inside
that door.

NURSE:  What a pity she's so quarrelsome!  But you will have it
made?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I know tha'll whittle me to death if I dunna.  Does
tha like roast pork?

NURSE:  Fairly.  Now, shall I lift you onto the couch?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  No, tha wunna.  I want na droppin' an' smashin' like
a pot.  I'm nowt but noggins o' bone, like iron bars in a paper
bag.  Eh, if I wor but the staunch fourteen stone I used to be.

NURSE:  You've been a big woman.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I could ha' shadowed thee an' left plenty to spare.
How heavy are ter, Nurse?

NURSE:  I don't know--about ten and a half stone.  Will Mr Hemstock
lift you, then?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I say, Nurse--just look under the bed, atween th'
bed slats at th' bottom corner, an' see if tha can see th' will.

NURSE (doubtful):  What!  (She stoops dubiously.)

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Right hand corner.  I told the doctor to put it
there.  Canna ter see it?

NURSE:  Oh, yes, here it is.  (She reappears with an envelope.)

MRS HEMSTOCK:  That's it--it's fastened safe.  It's a new will,
Nurse.  I made 'em do it while tha wor away--doctor and Mr Leahy.

NURSE:  Oh, yes--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' I'm not goin' ter ha'e none on 'em gleggin' at
it.  I know our Susy often has a bit of a rummage, but I'm sharper
than 'er thinks for.

NURSE:  And what shall I do with it, Mrs Hemstock?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Why, get upon th' table, an' look if there isna a
hole in top o' the bedpost, at th' head there, where a peg used ter
fit in.

NURSE (climbing up):  Yes, there is.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Then roll it up, an' shove it in.  On'y leave a
scroddy bit out.

NURSE:  That's done it, then.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha'll know where it is, then.  Tha ought, tha's
been more to me than any of my own for these twelve month.

NURSE:  Oh, Mrs Hemstock, I hope--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Nay, tha nedna--tha'rt knowin' nowt, I tell thee.
How much dost reckon I've got, Nurse?

NURSE:  I don't know, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Over five hundred, I can tell thee.  I made 'em in a
little shop as I had in Northrop when the colleries hadna started
long--an' I did well--an' so did our Mester--an' so 'as th' lads
done--

NURSE:  It is a good thing, for now they're both out of work they'd
have nothing.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Oh, our Harry's got a bit of his own, an' our
Mester's got about a hundred.  It'll keep 'em goin' for a bit,
wi'out mine.

NURSE:  You ARE queer, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Ha, that's what they say about th' Almighty--they
canna ma'e Him out.  But I'll warrant He knows His own business, as
I do.

NURSE:  Oh, Mrs Hemstock.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Yes, an' I want my bed makin', dunna I?  Shout our
Harry.  Harry!  Harry!

After a moment, HARRY enters: a man of moderate stature, rather
strongly built: dark hair, heavy, dark moustache, pale, rather
hollow cheeks, dangerous-looking brown eyes.  A certain furious
shrinking from contact makes him seem young, in spite of a hangdog,
heavy slouch.

HARRY (to his mother--in broad dialect):  What's want?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I s'd think it is "What's want" an' I hanna set eyes
on thee for pretty nigh a week.  Tha'll happen come to lie thyself,
my lad, an' then tha can think o' me hours an' hours by mysen.

HARRY:  What's want?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' why art paddlin' about in thy stockin' feet for?
Tha 'asna gumption enough ter put thy slippers on, if ter's been i'
th' garden.  Nurse, gi' me a drop o' brandy.  (She lies back
exhausted.  NURSE administers.)

NURSE:  Your mother wants lifting onto the couch, Mr Hemstock.  (He
comes forward.)  Perhaps you will wash your hands in this water,
will you--(He obeys sullenly.)

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha'd better wesh 'em for 'im, Nurse, 'e's nowt but
a baby.  'As 'er catched thee yet?  (He does not answer.)  'E
dursna go round th' corner, Nurse, for fear of a bogey--durst ter,
eh?  'E's scared to death of a wench, so 'e goes about wi' a goose.

A goose comes paddling into the room and wanders up to HARRY.

NURSE:  Hullo, Patty!  You dear old silly.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Dost like 'er, Nurse?

NURSE:  She's a dear old thing.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Then tha'll like HIM.  He's just the same: soft,
canna say a word, thinks a mighty lot of himself, an's scared to
death o' nowt.

NURSE:  Oh, Mrs Hemstock!

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I canna abide a sawney.

NURSE:  Are you ready, Mr Hemstock?

He comes forward.  NURSE wraps Mrs Hemstock in a quilt.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  To think as I should be crippled like this!

NURSE:  Yes, it is dreadful.

HARRY lifts his mother--NURSE showing him how.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha's got fingers like gre't tree-roots.

NURSE shows him how to place his hands.  Then she lifts the
trailing quilt and follows him to the couch.

MRS HEMSTOCK (rather faintly):  I canna abide to feel a man's arms
shiverin' agen me.  It ma'es me feel like a tallywag post hummin'.

NURSE:  There, be still--you are upset.  I'm sure Mr Hemstock did
it gently.

She stoops and strokes Tatty, who is crouched near the bed.  HARRY
moves as if to go.

Will you fetch clean sheets and pillow slips--be quick, will you?

HARRY goes out.  NURSE begins to make the bed.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Isna 'e like that there goose, now?

NURSE:  Well, I'm sure Patty's a very lovable creature.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  I'm glad tha thinks so.  It's not many as can find
in their heart to love a gaby like that.

NURSE:  Poor Patty!

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' that other hussy on'y wants him cause she canna
get him.

NURSE:  It's often the case.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  It is wi' a woman who's that cunning at kissin' an'
cuddlin' that a man 'ud run after 'er a hundred miles for the same
again.

NURSE:  Is she clever, then?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  She melts herself into a man like butter in a hot
tater.  She ma'es him feel like a pearl button swimmin' away in hot
vinegar.  That's what I made out from 'im.

NURSE:  She's not a nice girl.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' 'e hated her cause I shoved him at her.

NURSE:  But you don't care for her, surely.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Canna bear her.  A pussy cat always rubbin' 'erself
agen a man's legs--an' one o' the quiet sort.  But for all that, I
should like to see him married afore I die.  I dunna like, Nurse,
leavin' 'im like 'e is.  'E wor my darlin'.

NURSE (softly):  Yes.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' 'e niver wor a drunkard, but 'e's the makin's of
one.

NURSE:  Surely not--oh, how dreadful!

Enter HARRY with bedding.  He helps NURSE shake up and make the
bed.

NURSE:  How sweet the sheets are!  They were aired on the currant
bushes.  Did Mrs Smalley wash them?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Our Susy!  Not likely.  She'd never do a hand's
turn.  I expect our Harry there weshed 'em--an' 'is father.  Dunna
look so; canna ter answer a bit of a question?  (He does not
answer.)  'E looks as if 'e'd swallowed a year o' foul weather.

NURSE:  Hem at the top.  (She stumbles over Patty.)  Oh, poor Patty--
poor old bird!  Come here then, you dear old thing--did I hurt
you?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha's more fondness for that goose than I han,
Nurse.  It's too much like him.  Birds of a feather flock together.

NURSE:  You include me.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  If tha likes.

NURSE:  It's not a compliment.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  It isna.  Tha'rt a lady, an' han a lady's time, an'
tha'rt a fool if tha changes.

NURSE:  I am not so sure--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha gets a good wage, an' th' minute tha enters a
house everybody gets up to run about after thee.  What more dost
want?

NURSE:  I don't know.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  No, I s'd think tha doesna.

NURSE:  Sometimes I get tired, and then--I wish--I wish I'd
somebody to fad after me a bit.  I nurse so many people, and--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha'd like nursin' thysen.  Eh, bless you, a man's
knee's a chair as is soon worn out.

NURSE:  It's not that--I should like a home of my own, where I
could be private.  There's a lonely corner in most of us that not
all the FRIENDS in the world can fill up--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  And a husband only changes a lonely corner into a
lonely house.

NURSE:  Perhaps so.  But I should like to be able to shut my own
doors, and shut all the world out, and be at home, quiet,
comfortable.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  You'd find you shut the door to stop folks hearing
you crying.

NURSE (bending down and stroking Patty):  Perhaps so.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha art fond o' that bird.

NURSE (flushing):  I am.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  If I wor thee, our Harry, I wouldna let Patty beat
me, even.

HARRY:  What dost mean?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Stroke him, Nurse--and say "Poor old Harry".

NURSE:  Mr Hemstock will have a grudge against me if you slate him
so in my presence.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  And would it grieve thee?

NURSE:  I should be sorry.

MRS HEMSTOCK (after a pause--vehemently):  Ha, if he worn't such a
slow fool!  Can thee lift me back, Nurse?

NURSE:  Won't you let Mr Hemstock--?

MRS HEMSTOCK:  No--thee do it.

Exit HARRY.

Did ter niver ha'e a sweetheart, Nurse?

NURSE:  Yes--when I was in the hospital.  He was a doctor.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  An' where is he?

NURSE:  He was too good for me, his mother said, and so--

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Tha'rt well rid o' such a draggletail.  How long is
it since?

NURSE:  Eight years.

MRS HEMSTOCK:  Oh, so tha'rt none heartbroken.  We'n got a new
assistant.  I like him better than the owd doctor.  His name's
Foules.

NURSE:  What!


CURTAIN



SCENE II


Time: the same.  The kitchen of HEMSTOCK'S house, a large, low, old-
fashioned room.  Fowls are pecking on the floor.  HARRY, in a
coarse apron, is washing the floor.  MR HEMSTOCK, at the table, is
mixing flour in a bowl.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Who wor that scraightin' a bit sin'?

HARRY:  Our Susy's kid.

MR HEMSTOCK:  What for?

HARRY:  I fetched him a wipe across th' mouth.

MR HEMSTOCK:  There's more bother then--

HARRY:  He was settin' that dog on th' fowls again.

MR HEMSTOCK:  We s'll be having her round in a tear, directly,
then.

HARRY:  Well, I'm not--

There is a knock: and in the open doorway at the back a little,
withered, old clergyman, the BARON, is seen.

BARON:  How is the sick woman this morning?  (He speaks with a very
foreign German accent.)

MR HEMSTOCK:  I think she's middlin', thank you.

BARON:  I will go and see her, and speak to her.

HARRY:  We've told you a dozen times 'er na wants you.

BARON:  It is my duty that I shall go--

HARRY (rising from his knees):  Tha are na--!

BARON:  I am the vicar of this parish.  I am the Baron von Ruge.  I
will do my duty--

HARRY (confronting him):  Tha'rt na goin' to bother her.  Her na
wants thee.

BARON:  Stand clear of my way, sir--I WILL go, I will not be
barred, I will go to her, I will remind her--

HARRY (frustrating his efforts):  'Er na wants thee--

He suddenly moves: the BARON rushes into Patty.  The goose flaps
and squawks and attacks him.  The BARON retreats hastily.  Enter
NURSE.

NURSE:  Whatever is the matter?

MR HEMSTOCK:  It's Patty haulin' the Baron out--

NURSE:  Oh dear--how dreadful!

MR HEMSTOCK:  'E's bin plenty of times, an' every time our Harry
tells 'im as Missis won't be bothered wi' him--

NURSE:  What a pity she won't see him.  Don't you think if you let
him go--

HARRY:  Ask 'er thysen if 'er wants 'im--an' if 'er doesna want
'im, 'e's na goin'--

NURSE:  But what a pity--!

MR HEMSTOCK:  You can't make heads or tails of what 'e says.  I
can't think what they want wi' a bit of a German Baron bein' a
vicar in England--in THIS country an' a', where there wants a bluff
man.

NURSE:  He's a Polish nobleman, Mr Hemstock, exiled after fighting
for his country.  He's a brave man, and a good gentleman.  I like
him very much.

MR HEMSTOCK:  He treats you as if you was dirt, an' talks like a
chokin' cock--

HARRY:  An' 'e's na goin' pesterin' 'er when 'er doesna want 'im.

NURSE:  Well, of course you know best--but don't you think Mrs
Hemstock ought to see a minister?  I think--

Enter the BAKER, a big, stout, pale man of about forty.

BAKER:  Been havin' a shindy with the Baron?

MR HEMSTOCK:  He wants to see the Missis, an' we not let him.

BAKER:  You'd best keep th' right side of 'im.  (He swings his
large basket, which he carries sackwise on his shoulder, down to a
chair.)  The strike is settled, an' th' men's goin' back on the old
terms.

NURSE:  Oh, I'm so glad.

BAKER:  Fisher's a deep 'un.  The Company'll know yet as they've
GOT a manager.

NURSE (to HARRY):  So you'll be going back to work soon, Mr
Hemstock.  You will be glad.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Me--I s'll never work again.  An' it's doubtful as
our Harry won't get on--

BAKER:  They gave you a place before the strike, didn't they, where
you had to work you inside out for about fifteen shillings a week?

HARRY:  Ha.

He goes out.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Yes, they treated him very shabbily.

BAKER:  I bet it was th' owd Baron.  He's a good hand at having
your eye for a word, an' your tooth for a look.  I bet Harry'll get
no job--

MR HEMSTOCK:  No, I'm afraid 'e wunna.  The Baron will go down to
Fisher--

BAKER:  And Harry can go down to--his godfather, eh, Nurse?

NURSE:  I don't understand.

BAKER:  OLD Harry.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I hope to goodness 'e will get something to do, else
'e'll mope himself into the cut, or the 'sylum, afore long.

BAKER:  Oh, it's love what's upset him, isn't it?  Rachel Wilcox
was too much for his stomach--

MR HEMSTOCK:  I dunno what it is.

BAKER:  She's a bit of a ronk 'un.  She was his first cigar, an'
it's left him sick yet.  She's not half bad, you know, if you can
stand 'em strong.

NURSE goes out.

I've scared Nurse off.--But Harry's got a bit of a thin stomach,
hasn't he?  Rachel's not a half bad little ha-p'orth.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Some's got a stomach for tan-tafflins, an' some 'ud
rather ha'e bread an' butter--

BAKER:  And Rachel's creamy--she's a cream horn of plenty--eh,
what?

MR HEMSTOCK:  A bit sickly.

BAKER:  I dunno--it 'ud take a lot o' rich food to turn me.  How
many--?

MR HEMSTOCK:  One of yesterday's bakin', please.

BAKER sets the loaf on the table.

BAKER:  Your Susy wa'nt in--I wonder what she wants.  Where is she,
do you know?

MR HEMSTOCK:  She'll be somewhere lookin' after th' land.

BAKER:  I reckon she makes a rare farmer.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Yes.

BAKER:  Bill left the place in a bit of a mess--

MR HEMSTOCK:  A man as drinks himself to death--

BAKER:  Ay!  She wishes she'd had me astead of him, she says.  I
tell her it's never too late to mend.  He's made the hole, I'll be
the patch.  But it's not much of a place, Smalley's farm--?

MR HEMSTOCK:  It takes her all her time to manage an' pay off
Bill's debts.

BAKER:  Debts--why, I thought from what she said--

Enter SUSY SMALLEY, a buxom, ruddy, bold woman of thirty-five,
wearing thick boots and a dark blue milkmaid bonnet.

MRS SMALLEY:  Wheer's our Harry?

MR HEMSTOCK:  I dunno.  'E went out a bit sin'--

MRS SMALLEY:  An' wheer is 'e?  I'll let him know whether he's--

Enter HARRY.

Oh, I've foun' thee, have I?  What dost reckon tha's been doin' to
my lad?

HARRY:  Tha nedna ha' hunted for me.  I wor nobbut i' th' garden.

BAKER:  You should ha' looked in th' parsley bed, Susy.

MRS SMALLEY:  That's wheer to find BABIES--an' I'll baby him.  What
did thee hit my lad for?

HARRY:  Ask thysen.

MRS SMALLEY:  I'm axin' thee.  Tha thinks because I hanna a man to
stand up for me, tha can--

HARRY:  There's a lot o' helpless widder about thee!

MRS SMALLEY:  No, an' it's a good thing I'm not helpless, else I
should be trod underfoot like straw, by a parcel of--

HARRY:  It's tha as does th' treadin'.  Tha's trod your Bill a long
way underfoot--six foot or more.

BAKER:  It's a fat sight deeper than that afore you get to blazes.

MRS SMALLEY:  Whatever our Bill was or wan't, 'e was not a' idle
skilk livin' on two old folks, devourin' 'em.

NURSE (entering):  Oh, think of your mother, Mrs Smalley.

MRS SMALLEY:  I s'll think of who I like--

BAKER:  An' who DO you like, Susy?

MRS SMALLEY:  You keep your "Susy" to yourself--

BAKER:  Only too glad, when I get her--

MRS SMALLEY:  An' we don't thank Nurse Broadbanks for interferin'.
SHE only comes carneyin' round for what she gets.  Our Harry an'
her's matched; a pair of mealy-mouthed creeps, deep as they make
'em.  An' my father's not much better.  What all of 'em's after's
my mother's money.

NURSE:  Oh, for shame, for shame!

HARRY:  Shut thy mouth, or I'll shut it for thee.

MRS SMALLEY:  Oh, shall you?  I should like to see you.  It's as
much as you durst do to hit a child, you great coward, you kid.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Shut it up, now, shut it up!

MRS SMALLEY:  But I'll let him know, if he touches my child again;
I'll give him what for.  I'll thrash him myself--

BAKER:  That's your brother, not your husband.

MRS SMALLEY:  I will an' a'.  Him an' his blessed fowls!  'E's
nobbut a chuck himself, as dursn't say boh to a goose, an' as hides
in th' water-butt if his girl comes to see him--

HARRY dashes forward as if to strike her.  The BAKER interposes.

BAKER:  Here, none o' that, none o' that!

MRS SMALLEY:  A great coward!  He thinks he'll show Nurse
Broadbanks what he is, does he?  I hope she'll storm round him
after this bit.

HARRY (in a fury):  If tha doesn't--

MR HEMSTOCK:  Let's have no more of it, let's have no more of it--

BAKER:  How much bread, Mrs Smalley?  I reckon your Bill bettered
himself when he flitted--what?  I DON'T think.  How many loaves?  I
saved you a crusty one.

MR HEMSTOCK:  She's crust enough on her--

BAKER:  Oh, I like 'em a bit brown.  Good morning, everybody.

He swings up his basket and follows MRS SMALLEY out.

NURSE:  How shameful to make a disturbance like that!

MR HEMSTOCK:  We never have a bit of peace.  She won't do a hand's
turn in the house, and seems as if she can't bear herself because
we manage without her.

HARRY:  She's after the money.

NURSE:  How dreadful!  You are a strange family.

She goes into the parlour again, and keeps coming in and out with
water ewer and so on.  MR HEMSTOCK flourishes his balls of dough.
HARRY puts on the saucepan.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Dost think Job Arthur will marry our Susy?

HARRY:  No.

MR HEMSTOCK:  He seems to hang round her a good bit.  Your mother
often says he lets his bread get stale stoppin' there.

HARRY:  If 'e married 'er, 'e'll settle her.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Yes--he's all there.

HARRY:  All but what he's short to pay his debts.

He goes out.

NURSE:  I think I've done everything, Mr Hemstock.

She begins packing her black bag.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Could you wait half a minute while I go--to
Goddard's?

NURSE:  Well--ten minutes.

The old man takes a jar from the cupboard, and puts on his hat.  At
the door he meets the doctor, a clean-shaven fair man rather full
at the stomach and low at the chest.

DR FOULES:  Good morning, Mr Hemstock--you are going out?

MR HEMSTOCK:  For a second, Doctor, just to the shop.

DR FOULES:  I see.  Then shall I go in?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Oh, yes, Doctor.

DR FOULES:  Thank you.

He enters.  NURSE is just putting on her bonnet.  The doctor stands
confused.

NURSE (low and purring):  Good morning.

DR FOULES:  Nurse Broadbanks!

NURSE (low):  Yes--just fancy.

DR FOULES:  Well.  I am surprised.  Who ever--

NURSE:  I knew it was you.  No other doctor would have been so
polite about entering the house.

DR FOULES:  Well--I can hardly find words--I am sure--

NURSE:  Fancy your keeping your old shyness.

DR FOULES (flushing):  I don't know that I do--

NURSE:  I should have thought it would have worn off--all the
experience you have had.

DR FOULES:  Have I had so much experience?

NURSE:  Eight years.

DR FOULES:  Ah, Nurse, we don't measure experience by years.

NURSE:  Surely, you have a quotation!

DR FOULES (smiling):  No, I have not--for a wonder.  Indeed I'm
growing out of touch with literature.

NURSE:  I shall not know you.  You used to be--

DR FOULES:  Vox, et pręterea nihil.  "A voice, and nothing more."

NURSE:  You are yourself.  But you have not had much experience, in
eight years?

DR FOULES:  Not much has happened to me.

NURSE:  And you a doctor!

DR FOULES:  And I a doctor!

NURSE:  But you have lost your old ęsthetic look--wistful, I nearly
said.

DR FOULES:  Damnosa quid non imminuit dies?  "Whom has not
pernicious time impaired?"

NURSE:  Not your stock of learning, evidently.

DR FOULES (bowing):  Nor your wit, Nurse.  Suum cuique.  You have
not--?

NURSE:  What?

DR FOULES:  You have not--married?

NURSE:  Nurse Broadbanks.

DR FOULES:  Of course--ha ha--how slow of me.  Verbum sat sapienti.

NURSE:  And you--?

DR FOULES:  What, Nurse?

NURSE:  Married?

DR FOULES:  No, Nurse, I am not.  Nor, if it is anything to your
satisfaction, likely to be.

NURSE:  Your MOTHER is still alive?

DR FOULES (bowing):  Rem acu tetigisti.  "You have pricked the
point with your needle."

NURSE:  I beg your pardon.

DR FOULES:  Do not, I beg, do not.

NURSE:  Semper idem--I know so much Latin.

DR FOULES:  In what am I always the same, Nurse?

NURSE:  Well--your politeness.

DR FOULES:  Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re.  My old motto, you
remember.

NURSE:  I do not know the English for it.

DR FOULES:  "Gentle in manner, resolute in deed."

NURSE:  In what deed, may I ask, Doctor?

DR FOULES:  You may ask, Nurse.  I am afraid I cannot tell you.
And I, may I ask what YOU have done?

NURSE:  Worked enough to be rather tired, Doctor--and found the
world full of friends.

DR FOULES:  Non multa sed multum.  "Not many things, but much,"
Nurse.  I could not say so much.

NURSE (laughing):  No?

DR FOULES:  Quid rides?  "Wherefore do you laugh?"

NURSE:  She lives with you here?

DR FOULES:  My mother?  Yes.

NURSE:  It will always be said of you--"He was a good son."

DR FOULES:  I hope so, Nurse.

NURSE:  Yes--it is the best.

DR FOULES (softly):  You look sad.

NURSE:  Not on my own behalf, Doctor.

DR FOULES:  On mine, Nurse?

NURSE (reluctantly):  No, not quite that.

DR FOULES:  Tędium vitę--all unresolved emotions and sicknesses go
under that "weariness of life".

NURSE:  Life?  Doctor--do we get enough life to be weary of it?
Work, perhaps.

DR FOULES:  It may be--but--

NURSE:  You don't WANT life.

DR FOULES (smiling):  Not much.  I SEE too much of it to want it.

NURSE:  Your mother will, I hope, live long enough to save you from
experience.

DR FOULES:  I hope it is a good wish, Nurse.

NURSE:  Do you doubt it?

DR FOULES:  Will you come and see us, Nurse?

NURSE:  And see your mother?

DR FOULES:  And see my mother, Nurse.  (He bows.)

NURSE (smiling):  Thank you--I will.

Enter HARRY--he stands rather confused in the doorway.

DR FOULES:  Good morning, Mr Hemstock.  How is Mrs Hemstock this
morning?

HARRY:  'Er's pretty middlin', I believe.

Enter MR HEMSTOCK.

DR FOULES:  I have just discovered that Nurse and I are old
friends.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I am glad of that--

DR FOULES:  Thank you.

NURSE:  Dr Foules used to be my sweetheart.

MR HEMSTOCK:  You don't mean it!

DR FOULES:  Is it so long ago, Nurse, that you jest about it?

NURSE:  I do not jest, Doctor.  You are always to be taken very
seriously.

DR FOULES (bowing):  Thank you.

NURSE (to HARRY):  Where did I leave my galoshes, Mr Hemstock?

HARRY:  I'll fetch 'em.

He brings them in.

NURSE:  How good of you to clean them for me!

They all stand watching while NURSE pulls them on.

DR FOULES:  "A world full of friends," Nurse.

NURSE:  Mr Hemstock and I are very good friends--are we not, Mr
Hemstock?

HARRY:  I dinna know--you know best--'appen we are.

DR FOULES:  You are repudiated, Nurse.

NURSE:  Twice!  You shouldn't have begun it.

DR FOULES:  I am very sorry.  It is never too late to mend.

NURSE:  We've heard that before this morning.  I must go.

DR FOULES:  You will come and see us--soon.

NURSE:  I am at your disposal, Doctor.  Good day, everybody.

ALL:  Good day, Nurse.

DR FOULES:  Well, I will see how Mrs Hemstock is.

He goes out.

MR HEMSTOCK:  He's a nice fellow.

HARRY:  Hm!

MR HEMSTOCK:  Fancy he used ter court Nurse!  I shouldna be
surprised if they got together again.

HARRY:  It doesna matter to me whether 'er does or not.

MR HEMSTOCK:  No, it na matters to us--on'y I should like to see
her settled wi' a decent chap.  She's a good woman for any man.  If
I'd a been thy age--

HARRY:  Wi' that other hangin' round--an' no work to do--tha's ha'
done wonders.

MR HEMSTOCK:  T'other--tha's gin 'er the sack--an' tha can get work
elsewhere.

HARRY:  Dost think 'er'd ha'e me!  (He laughs contemptuously.)

There is a noise of yelping and crying.  The men stand and listen.

MR HEMSTOCK:  It's that dog!--An' Nurse!

HARRY rushes out.  There is a great yelping and ki-yi-ing, a scream
from NURSE.  Immediately NURSE enters, carrying Patty, who flaps in
a torn and gory state.  HARRY follows.  NURSE, panting, sets down
Patty.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Whatever--

HARRY (flushing in fury):  Has it hurt thee--did it touch thee?

NURSE:  Me!

HARRY:  I'll break its neck.

NURSE:  Oh--don't be--

HARRY:  Where did it touch thee?  There's blood on thee.

NURSE:  It's not me, it's Patty.

HARRY:  'Appen tha non knows--'appen it catched thee.  Look at thy
arm--look there!

NURSE:  No--I'm not hurt, I'm sure I'm not.

HARRY:  I'll break its neck, the brute.

NURSE:  It had got hold of poor Patty by the wing--poor old bird.

HARRY:  Look at thy cuffs.  I'll break its neck.

NURSE:  No--oh no, don't go out--no--get me some warm water, will
you--and I'll see to Patty.

HARRY brings a bowl of warm water.  NURSE takes bandaging from her
bag.

MR HEMSTOCK:  It's been at her before.

NURSE (to HARRY):  You look after her other wing--keep her still--
poor old bird--(She proceeds to dress the wounded wing.)

MR HEMSTOCK:  She'd be alright, Nurse, without you bothering.

NURSE:  The idea--poor old thing!

MR HEMSTOCK:  We've been many time worse hurt at pit, an' not half
that attention.

NURSE:  But--you see, you're not geese.

HARRY:  We're not of as much count.

NURSE:  Hand me the scissors, please--you don't know what you are--

DR FOULES enters and stands in doorway.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I keep telling him, if he set more stock by himself
other folks 'ud think better of him.

NURSE:  They might KNOW him a little better if he'd let them.

DR FOULES:  I see my help is superfluous.

NURSE:  Yes, Doctor--it's one of the lower animals.

DR FOULES:  Ah--


CURTAIN



ACT II


SCENE I


The same evening.  The HEMSTOCKS' kitchen, with the lamp lighted.
The BAKER and HARRY sit with glasses of whisky.


BAKER:  An' tha doesn't want 'er?

HARRY:  I heave at the sight of her.

BAKER:  She'll ha'e a bit o' money, I reckon.

HARRY:  She's got to wait till old Hezekiah cops out, first.

BAKER:  Hm!  That'll be a long time yet--if he doesn't get married
again.  They say he's hankerin' after Nurse.

HARRY:  'Er'll niver ha'e 'im.

BAKER:  Too old.  But what hast got against Rachel?

HARRY:  Nowt--but I heave wi' sickness at the thought of 'er.

BAKER:  Hm!  I like one as'll give as much as she takes.

HARRY:  Sight more.

BAKER:  It depends who's who.

HARRY:  I can never make out why she went in service at the
vicarage.

BAKER:  Can't you?  I've had many a nice evening up there.  Baron
an' Baroness go to bed at nine o'clock and then--Oh, all the girls
know the advantage of being at the vicarage.

HARRY:  Oh--an' does she ha'e thee up in the kitchen?

BAKER:  Does she not half.

HARRY:  I thought she wor so much struck on me!

BAKER:  You wait a minute.  If she can't feed i' th' paddock she'll
feed at th' roadside.  Not but what she's all right, you know.

HARRY:  I do know.

BAKER:  She's not got the spirit of your Susy.  By Jove, SHE'S a
terror.  No liberties there.

HARRY:  Not likely.

BAKER:  They say Bill left 'er in debt.

HARRY:  He did.

BAKER:  Hm!  She'll have a long pull, then, to get it paid off.

HARRY:  She's a-waitin' for my mother's money.

BAKER:  Is she likely to get much?

HARRY:  Happen a couple o' hundred--happen nowt.

BAKER:  Depends on the will?

HARRY:  Yes.

BAKER:  A couple of hundred. . . .

HARRY:  About that apiece, we should ha'e.

BAKER:  Hm!  You've seen the will?

HARRY:  No--my mother takes good care o' that.

BAKER:  Then none of you know?  But you've some idea.

HARRY:  We hanna.  My mother's funny--there's no tellin' what 'er
might do.

BAKER:  Hm!  She might leave the money away from her own children?

HARRY:  I shouldna be a bit surprised.

BAKER:  Hm!  An' your Susy--

MRS SMALLEY (entering):  What about your Susy?

BAKER:  Hello!

MRS SMALLEY:  You're stoppin' a precious long time.  Where might
you be bound to-night?

BAKER:  Not far.

MRS SMALLEY:  No further than the vicarage, an' that's two closes
off.  But Rachel'll be givin' you up.

BAKER:  'Appen so.

MRS SMALLEY:  Then she'll be tryin' her chances down here.

BAKER:  I wish her luck.

HARRY (going out):  I'll go an' get a bit o' bacca.

MRS SMALLEY:  An' what do you call luck?

BAKER:  Which do you reckon is a lucky-bag, me or your Harry?

MRS SMALLEY:  You're both about as good: he's only got a little
bunged-up whistle in him, an' many a hand's ferreted in you an'
fetched out what's worth havin'.

BAKER:  So I'm not worth havin'?

MRS SMALLEY:  No, you're not, that's flat.

BAKER:  So you wouldn't have me?

MRS SMALLEY:  You're giving yourself away, are you?

BAKER (incisively):  No, I'm not.

MRS SMALLEY:  Indeed.  And what's your figure, may I ask?

BAKER:  A couple of hundred, to YOU; to anyone else, MORE.

MRS SMALLEY:  Thank you for the offer--very kind of you, I'm sure.
And how much is it to Rachel?

BAKER:  Two hundred an' fifty.

MRS SMALLEY:  Oh!  So I'm worth fifty pound to you, am I--AFTER
I've put my two hundred down.  Ready money?

BAKER:  Six months bill.

MRS SMALLEY:  You are a swine.

BAKER:  Do you accept?

MRS SMALLEY:  You ARE a pig!  You'd eat cinders if you could get
nowt else.

BAKER:  I should.  I'd rather have you than any of the boiling; but
I must, I must, have--

MRS SMALLEY:  Two hundred?

BAKER:  Not less.

MRS SMALLEY:  Six months bill.

BAKER:  Six months bill.

MRS SMALLEY:  I hope you'll get it.

BAKER:  I intend to.

MRS SMALLEY (after a speechless moment):  You are a devil when
you've had a drop.

BAKER:  Am I a dear one?

MRS SMALLEY:  Do you call yourself cheap?

BAKER:  What do YOU think?  I was always one of the "take it or
leave it" sellers.

MRS SMALLEY:  I think you imagine yourself worth a great sight more
than you are.

BAKER:  Hm!  I should have thought you'd have found the figure
easy.  And I've always said I'd rather it was you than anybody.

MRS SMALLEY:  You was mighty slow, then, once on a day.

BAKER:  I was a young cock-sparrow then--common--but wouldn't die
in a cage.

MRS SMALLEY:  An' what do you reckon you are now?

BAKER:  I'm an old duck that knows "dilly-dilly"!

MRS SMALLEY:  "Come and be killed."

BAKER:  Scatter me a bit of golden corn--two hundred--and you may
wring my neck.

MRS SMALLEY:  You must have an empty crop.

BAKER:  A few pebbles that'll digest ME if I don't--

MRS SMALLEY:  Debts?

BAKER:  I said pebbles.

MRS SMALLEY:  You're a positive fiend in drink.

BAKER:  But what about--?

Enter RACHEL, a tall, pale girl, with dark circles under her eyes.
She has a consumed look, as if her quiet pallor smothered a fire.
She wears a servant's cap and apron covered by a large dark shawl.
She enters softly.

RACHEL:  I thought I heard you two.

MRS SMALLEY (startled):  You MIGHT knock!

RACHEL:  Were you talking secrets?

BAKER:  Have you come to look for me, Rachel?

RACHEL (cuttingly):  You think a mighty lot of yourself.

BAKER:  Have a drop of Scotch?  No?  How's that?  There's Harry's
glass--drink out of that.

RACHEL:  You're very clever at giving away what's not your own.
Give me yours.

BAKER:  I've not finished with it--but you can drink with me.
Here!

RACHEL:  No, thank you.

BAKER (softly, smiling):  Why, what has offended you?

RACHEL:  Nothing, indeed.

BAKER:  That's alright.  I don't like you to be offended.  As a
sign of good luck.  (She sips.)  Thanks.  I'm sorry I'm late.

RACHEL:  You're not there yet, so you can't be late.

BAKER:  Yes, I am there.  What farther have I to go?

RACHEL (singing):

     "You've got a long way to go,
     You've got a long way to go,"

MRS SMALLEY (singing in a masculine voice):

     "Before you get hold of the donkey's tether
     You've got a long way to go."

BAKER (singing in a fine bass):

     "If I had an ass and he wouldn't go,
     Would I wallop him?  Oh, dear no!
     I'd give him some corn and say 'Gee whow,
     Neddy, stand still while I mount, oh ho!'"

MRS SMALLEY:  He's the donkey.

BAKER:  Who doesn't make an ass of himself sometimes?

MRS SMALLEY:  And we've got to give him some corn.

BAKER:  For you'll never catch him to get hold of his tail--salt's
no good.

MRS SMALLEY:  How much corn?  Tell her.

BAKER:  Two hundred--and fifty--golden grains.  No more.

RACHEL:  What's up with him to-night?

MRS SMALLEY:  Oh, he's had a drop, an' it always sets him on edge.
He's like a razor.  When he's had a drop, if you stroke him you cut
yourself a-two.

RACHEL:  Goodness!

BAKER:  Rachel, I'd sell my immortal soul for two hundred--and
fifty--golden sovereigns.

RACHEL:  I'm not buying immortal souls, thanks.

BAKER:  With this (He spreads out his hands.)--this paper and
string to wrap it in.

RACHEL:  An' a nice parcel of goods you are!

BAKER:  I'm a lucky bag, Rachel.  You don't know all that's in me,
yet.

RACHEL:  And what is that, pray?

BAKER:  I don't know myself.  But you shall have leave to rummage
me.  (He throws open his arms.)  Look!  (He rises from his chair,
as it were superbly.  He is a fine, portly, not unhandsome man.  He
strikes a "superb" attitude.)  Look, Rachel.  For two hundred and
fifty pounds, three months bill, I am (He bows.) your slave.  You
shall (He speaks with cynical sincerity.) bring down my head as low
as you like (He bows low.), I swear it, and I never swore a lie.

RACHEL:  But what do you want two hundred and fifty pounds for?

HARRY (entering):  Has Nurse come?

BAKER:  Not yet.  Are you going to finish your glass?  It has taken
me all my time to stop the women sipping from it.

RACHEL:  Story!  You know I wouldn't--

BAKER:  Hush!  Don't be rash NOW, or you'll hate me to-morrow.

RACHEL:  And should you care?

BAKER:  I am willing to give you full rights over my immortal soul
and this paper and string--

MRS SMALLEY:  For two hundred down--

BAKER (bowing--then looking to RACHEL):  And fifty, Mrs Smalley.

RACHEL:  What do you think of it, Susy?  Is it a bargain?

BAKER (setting his cap on the back of his head and pulling on a
large overcoat--he is well dressed):  We have not struck hands yet.

MRS SMALLEY (to RACHEL):  What do YOU say?

RACHEL:  Nay, I want to hear what YOU say.

MRS SMALLEY:  I'm going to say nowt, yet a while--

RACHEL:  Well, we'll see.  (She pulls her shawl over her head to
follow him.)

BAKER:  Nay--I'm going down Northrop--on business.

RACHEL:  Wasn't you coming up?

BAKER:  To the vicarage?  I had this to tell you; that is all.

RACHEL:  Well, I must say--but come up just for--

BAKER:  Not for a moment, Rachel.  I am going down Northrop.

MRS SMALLEY:  It's no good you saying nothing, Rachel.  You might
as well save your breath.

BAKER (smiling to RACHEL):  You hear?  I'll see you in the morning.
Good night all.

Exit BAKER.

RACHEL (looking after him):  I hate him.

MRS SMALLEY:  I'm going home.

She hurries out.  There is an awkward pause.  HARRY sits bending
over the fire.

RACHEL:  How is your mother?

HARRY:  Same.

RACHEL:  Who's with her?

HARRY:  Dad.

RACHEL:  Where's Patty?

HARRY:  Cupboard.

RACHEL:  When do you expect Nurse?

HARRY:  Dunno.

RACHEL:  Have you been drinking whisky?  (No answer.)  Are you
going to leave these glasses for Nurse to see?  (No answer.)  Are
you going to let her see you drinking?  (No answer.)  Well, I do
reckon you might speak to a body.  I've not spoke to you for a week--
hardly seen you.  I can see you in your garden from the vicarage
front bedrooms.  I often watch you.  Do you want your glass?

HARRY:  Gi'e's it here!

RACHEL:  You might say thank you.  Job Arthur Bowers wants me to
marry him.  And I shouldn't be surprised if I did.  (She cries.)

HARRY:  Well, tha nedna scraight.

RACHEL:  No--I mun only cry when I'm by myself.  (Sobs.)  I'm sure
I'm sobbing half the night.  (She cries.)  Do you sleep bad?  You
do get up early--I can see your candle at half-past three, and you
don't know how it frightens me.

HARRY:  What's it frighten thee for?

RACHEL:  I don't know.  I feel frightened, for you seem so funny
nowadays.

HARRY:  'As ter on'y just foun' it out?

RACHEL:  You know I've told you about it many a time.

HARRY:  A sight too often.

RACHEL:  You ARE horrid.  What have I done?  Tell me.

HARRY:  I'm non goin' to be made shift of.  Tha'rt non goin' ter
ma'e a spitton of me, ter spit the taste of somebody else out of
thy mouth into.

RACHEL:  Well, if I've been hateful, you've drove me to it--haven't
you?

HARRY:  I've told thee, I dunna want thee.

RACHEL:  An' I went into service, so's I'd have something to do--
an' so's I should be near--when--

HARRY:  Go on--an' so's--an' so's an' so's--I'm thy spitton, tha
can spit owt inter me.

RACHEL:  You're right, you're full o' sawdust.

HARRY (showing his teeth):  What?

RACHEL:  Sawdust, like a dummy.  You've no more life in you.

HARRY (in a passion):  What!  What!

RACHEL:  Sawdust.

HARRY (springing and seizing her by the shoulders):  I'll settle
thee!

RACHEL:  You've been drinking.

HARRY (shouting):  I'll settle thee, if I hang for it!

RACHEL:  You're hurting me!

HARRY (quietly):  Come here.  (He binds her in her large shawl.)

RACHEL:  Oh!  What are you doing?

HARRY:  I'll ha'e thee now, I will.  (He seats her in the big
armchair, strapping her with a leather belt he takes from his
waist.)

RACHEL (quietly):  Have you gone mad?

HARRY:  Now then--answer me!  Did ter court Bill Naylor a' the time
as thou wert goin' wi' me?

RACHEL:  No.

HARRY (his fist close to her eyes--loudly):  Trewth!

RACHEL:  Yes.

HARRY:  Did ter tell him I used ter shout out that somebody wor
coming if thou wanted to kiss me?

RACHEL:  Yes.

HARRY:  An' as I was allers swallerin' my spittle for fright?

RACHEL:  Yes.

HARRY:  An' I wor like a girl, as dursn't look thee atween the
eyes, for all I was worth?

RACHEL:  Yes.

HARRY:  An' dursn't I?

RACHEL:  Yes--an' don't.  (She closes her eyes.)

HARRY:  What!  An' all t'other things about me as the pit was full
of?

RACHEL:  Oh, no!  Oh, no!

HARRY:  Yes, tha did!

RACHEL:  No, oh no, Harry!

HARRY:  An' are ter courtin' Job Arthur Bowers?

RACHEL:  Oh!

HARRY:  Scream, an' I'll squeeze thy head again' that chair-back
till it cracks like a nut.

RACHEL (whimpering):  Oh dear, oh dear.

HARRY:  It is "oh dear"--an' it 'as been for me "oh dear".  Listen
'ere, tha brazend hussy.  Tha keeps thy face shut when tha comes
near me.  Dost hear?

RACHEL:  Yes.

HARRY:  None o' thy cheek, not another word, in future--or I'll--
what?

RACHEL:  No.

HARRY:  An' dunna touch me till tha'rt axed.  Not so much as wi'
thy frock.  Dost hear?

RACHEL:  Yes.

HARRY:  What dost hear?

RACHEL:  I mustn't touch you.

HARRY:  Not till thou'rt axed.  An' lu' thee here, my lady--I s'll
brain thee if tha says a word to me--sithee?  (He thrusts his fist
in her face.)

RACHEL:  Somebody will come--let me go, let me go!

HARRY:  An' what I've said, I mean--drunk or sover.  Sithee?

RACHEL:  Yes, Harry!  Oh, let me go.

HARRY:  I'll let thee go.  (He does so, slowly.)  An' tha can go
wi' who tha likes, an' marry who tha likes, but if tha says a word
about me, I'll come for thee.  There!  (He unbinds her.  She lays
her hand on his sleeve.)  No!  (He shakes her off.  She rises and
stands dejectedly before him.)  I hate thee now enough to strangle
thee.

RACHEL (bursting into tears):  Oh, you are--

HARRY:  Now go wi' who tha likes--get off.

RACHEL:  You are--

HARRY:  I want none o' thee--go!

She is departing.

An' ta'e thy shawl wi' thee.

She, weeping, picks up her shawl.

An' lap it round thee--it's a raw night.

She does so.  He speaks gently now.

Now go.

Exit RACHEL.  HARRY pours himself another glass of whisky.  He goes
to the cupboard.

Patty!  Pat!

He puts his face caressingly among the bird's feathers.

We'll settle her Pat--eh?  We'll stop her gallop.  Hey, Pat!

He tosses the bird into the air wildly.


CURTAIN



SCENE II


A few moments later.  The road just outside the HEMSTOCKS'.  Deep
darkness: two cottage lights in the background.  In the foreground,
a large white swing gate leading from the farmyard into the road, a
stile beside the gate.  MRS SMALLEY leans against the big white
gatepost.  Enter RACHEL, drying her tears, from the background.
She steps through the stile.  SUSY moves.


RACHEL:  Oh!  Oh!  Oh Harry!

MRS SMALLEY:  It's only me; shut up.

RACHEL:  Oh, you did give me a turn, Susy!

MRS SMALLEY:  Whatever's up?

RACHEL:  Nothing.  Who are you looking for?

MRS SMALLEY:  Nobody.

RACHEL:  Has Job Arthur gone?

MRS SMALLEY:  You saw him go.

RACHEL:  Not that _I_ care.

MRS SMALLEY:  I bet you don't.  You carry on as if you don't care.
You do.  You needn't pretend to be so mighty struck on our Harry,
you know it's all sham.

RACHEL:  It's not, Susy.  There's no sham about it; I wish there
was.  He's got his eye on Nurse, it's my belief.

MRS SMALLEY:  An' she's got her eye on my mother's money, I know.
She's sniffing like a cat over a mouse hole, an' cottoning on to
our Harry.

RACHEL:  She's deep, she is--an' he'd be as big as a lord for at
the bottom he's that stuck-up he doesn't know what to do with
himself.

MRS SMALLEY:  I believe she knows something about the will.

RACHEL:  Well, surely--

MRS SMALLEY:  An' from summat as my mother let drop, I'd be bound
she's in it, wi' our Harry.

RACHEL:  His mother always made me cheap in his eyes.

MRS SMALLEY:  If I could get to know--

RACHEL:  Doesn't your Harry know?

MRS SMALLEY:  How should I know what he knows?

RACHEL:  My father's pining for Nurse, the old fool.  I wish he'd
get her.  His money might get her.  I'll buck him up.

MRS SMALLEY:  I'll get in her way wi' our Harry as much as I can.

RACHEL:  Alright.  You are a bit gone on Job Arthur, aren't you?

MRS SMALLEY:  He should ha' married me, by rights, twelve years
back.

RACHEL:  There's something fascinating about him.  Does he really
want £250?

MRS SMALLEY:  Yes.

RACHEL:  I believe my father would give it me, if I got married to
please him.

MRS SMALLEY:  Alright, there's your chance then.

RACHEL:  You needn't be nasty, Susy.  I don't want the chance.

MRS SMALLEY:  You dodge round too many corners, like a ferret, you
do.

RACHEL:  At any rate, I'm not waiting for somebody to die and leave
me bait to chuck to a fat fist of a fellow.

MRS SMALLEY:  You'd better mind what you're saying, Rachel Wilcox.

RACHEL:  I don't care about YOU.  So there.

MRS SMALLEY:  Doesn't 'er though?  What about our Harry?  I'll let
him know a thing or two.

RACHEL:  It's you as has been saying things, I know.  You've been
telling him about Job Arthur Bowers.

MRS SMALLEY:  Oh, have I?  You're mighty clever.

RACHEL:  You don't need to be clever to see through you.  But I'll
make you pay for it, my lady.

MRS SMALLEY:  What?  Come out here--

RACHEL:  There's the Baron--an' they don't know I'm out!

She runs into hiding as a lantern appears down the lane.  SUSY
draws after her.

SUSY:  What's he after?

RACHEL:  Lovers.  They hunt 'em out every Monday night.  Shut up
now.  (In a whisper.)  Does my white apron show?

BARON:  We haf done good work this night.

BARONESS (tall and spare, in an antique cloak and bonnet):  Seven
couples, Baron--and we have only been out an hour.  Isn't it
terrible!

BARON:  These miners are not men--they are animals that prowl by
night.

BARONESS:  The girls are worse, with their faces of brass.  It is
they who entice the young men into these naughty holes and
crannies.

BARON:  But if a man haf honour, will he not woo a maiden in her
father's house, in the presence of her family?

BARONESS:  This is a parish of sin, Baron, the people love sin.

BARON:  Defiant in sin, they are!  But I will overthrow them.  I
will drive them before me into the pit.

BARONESS:  To think of that brazen besom telling us to go home and
go to bed--

BARON:  And the man--ah, infamous, gross insult!  And coward, to
revile me that I have no child.

BARONESS:  If they had a few less--and they born of sin--the low
women!  That is the house of the woman Hemstock.  Have you seen
her?

BARON:  Not yet.  I will not bury her, heathen and blasphemous
woman.  She shall not soil my graveyard of good dead.  And those,
her men folk, obstreperous and enemies of God, I will bow low their
necks--

BARONESS:  Hush, there are some--I believe there are--behind the
gate--

BARON:  More?  Ah, misery, more than linked worms!  Where?  My dull
eyes!

BARONESS:  There--behind the gatepost--

BARON (holding aloft the candle):  Lovers, if you be there, why do
you suck at sin?  Is this honour, you man?  There is no one there,
Baroness.

BARONESS:  Yes, Baron, yes.  I can see her apron.  Who are you?
Come out of there.  You, girl, I see you.  Come out, for shame.
You do not know what you are doing; or, if you do, you are the
depth of wickedness.  (A titter is heard.)

BARON:  Where is the man?  Show yourself, sir.  Let me see the man.
You lurk, sir, in a hole like a rat.  Ah, the disgrace of mankind.

BARONESS:  What is going to become of you, girl?  Go home, before
it is too late.  Go home and learn to do your housework.

BARON:  You press into the boughs of the trees, but the boughs are
the little arms of God.  You hide youselves deep in the darkness,
which is but the pupil of the eye of God.  Ah, like a hot spark you
fret the eye of God with your lust.

BARONESS:  You will rue it this time next year, I tell you.

BARON:  The face of the man is full of shame, it is afraid lest it
fall under my eye.

He holds the lantern peering at the woman.  The BARONESS hovers
close behind.  RACHEL pushes SUSY out upon the little man.  The
lantern is extinguished.

BARONESS:  Oh, oh, come away, Baron, come away!

BARON:  Ha!  Ha!  (His voice is screaming.)  It is the attack!
Stand behind me, Baroness, I defend you.  (He ends on a high note,
flourishing a stick he carries.)  I have hit him!  Ha!  Come on!

MRS SMALLEY:  You've hit me, you little swine.

BARON:  Stand behind me, Baroness.  I defeat this man--I--(He
chokes with gutturals and consonants.)

MRS SMALLEY:  Would you, you LITTLE swine!

BARON:  I will thrash you--I will thrash you--low-bred knave, I
will--(He sputters into German.)

MRS SMALLEY:  Let me get hold on thee, I'll crack thy little yed
for thee.

BARONESS:  Baron, Baron, they are murdering you!

BARON:  Ah, my sword, my sword!  Baroness, my sword!  I keep him at
bay with this stick.

MRS SMALLEY:  I'll show thee, the little nuisance, whether tha'rt
ter hit ME on the shoulder.

BARON:  I have not my strength of old, if I had my sword he were
killed.

BARONESS:  Thy are murdering the Baron!  Help!  Help!  Oh Baron--

RACHEL (suddenly rushing at her):  Shut up, you old chuck!  Shoo!

BARONESS (screaming):  Baron!  Rudolf, Rudolf!  Oh-h--!

BARON (groaning):  Ah, Baroness!

He turns.  SUSY rushes through his guard and seizes his wrist.

MRS SMALLEY:  I'll have that stick!

BARON:  The lady--the Baroness von Ruge, my wife, let me go to her!

MRS SMALLEY:  Drop that stick, tha little--!

BARON:  Little, little again!  Ah, my sword to thee.  Let go my
wrists, foul one, base one, fight thus!  (He lapses into a foreign
fizzle.)

BARONESS (fleeing):  Help, help, help!

RACHEL (catching her by the end of her long cloak and pulling her
round backwards):  Whoa, you're going a bit too fast!

BARONESS:  Whose voice is that?  What?  Oh-h--!

Enter NURSE.

NURSE (breathless):  Whatever is the matter?  Who is it?

MRS SMALLEY:  Drop that stick, little lizard--

BARON:  My wife!  God, think of my wife!

BARONESS:  Baron--they're killing me--Baron!

NURSE:  Baroness!  Oh, for shame--oh, how dreadful!

She runs to RACHEL, who flees.

HARRY (rushing up):  What's goin' off?

NURSE:  The poor Baron--an old man!  Oh, how dreadful!

BARONESS:  Rudolf, Rudolf!  Where am I--what--where?

BARON:  I will KILL you.

HARRY (to his sister):  Has ter no more sense, gre't hound?

MRS SMALLEY:  What's tha got ter do wi' it? (to the BARON)  Drop
that stick!

BARON:  I will certainly--

HARRY:  Come off!  (He wrenches loose her wrists.)

BARON:  Ha!  (In triumph.)  Thief!  (He rushes forward.  SUSY
avoids him quickly.  He attacks HARRY, fetching him a smart whack.)

HARRY:  The little wasp--

NURSE:  Don't, Mr Hemstock--don't hurt him!

BARON:  Ha!  (He rushes again.  HARRY dodges to avoid him,
stumbles, the BARON gets in a blow.  HARRY goes down.)  Ha, I have
smitten him--Ha!

BARONESS (fleeing):  Baron--help!  Help!  Baron--

BARON (pursuing):  My wife--

NURSE (to BARONESS):  Come away, Baroness, come away quickly.  The
Baron is alright.

BARONESS:  I have lost a galosher, he has lost his hat, and the
lantern--oh!

BARON:  Ah, Baroness, safe!  God be glorified.  What--oh, only
Nurse.  We haf been ambushed by a band of ruffians.

NURSE:  You had better hurry to the vicarage, Baron, you will take
cold.

BARON:  Speak not to me of cold.  We haf narrowly escaped.  Are you
wounded, Baroness?

BARONESS:  Where is your hat, and the lantern, and my galosher?

BARON:  What matter--

NURSE:  You had better take the Baroness home, Baron.  She will be
ill.

BARONESS:  We can't afford to lose them--the lantern and your hat
and a pair of galoshes.

BARON:  Speak not of such--

They leave.

HARRY (rising slowly):  The little snipe!

MRS SMALLEY:  It serves thee right.


CURTAIN



SCENE III


The kitchen of the HEMSTOCKS' house.  MR HEMSTOCK is stirring a
saucepan over the fire.


NURSE (entering):  I am late.  Are you making the food?  I'm sorry.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I hardly liked leavin' her--she's funny to-night.
What's a' th' row been about?

NURSE:  Somebody buffeting the Baron and Baroness.  I've just seen
them safely on the path.  Has Harry come in?

MR HEMSTOCK:  No--hark--here he is!  Whatever!

The door opens.  Enter HARRY, very muddy, blood running down his
cheek.

Whatever 'as ter done to thysen?

HARRY:  Fell down.

NURSE:  Oh dear--how dreadful!  Come and let me look!  What a gash!
I must bind it up.  It is not serious.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Tha'd better ta'e thy jacket off, afore Nurse touches
thee.

HARRY does so.  MR HEMSTOCK continues making the food.  NURSE sets
the kettle on the fire and gets a bowl.

NURSE (to HARRY):  You feel faint--would you like to lie down?

HARRY:  I'm a' right.

NURSE:  Yes, you ARE all right, I think.  Sit here.  What a house
of calamities!  However did it happen?

HARRY:  The Baron hit me, and I fell over the lantern.

NURSE:  Dear me--how dreadful!

HARRY:  I feel fair dizzy, Nurse--as soft as grease.

NURSE:  You are sure to do.

Exit MR HEMSTOCK with basin.

HARRY:  Drunk, like.  Tha'rt as good as a mother to me, Nurse.

NURSE:  Am I?

HARRY:  My mother worna one ter handle you very tender.  'Er wor
rough, not like thee.

NURSE:  You see, she hadn't my practice.

HARRY:  She 'adna thy hands.  'Er's rayther bad to-day, Nurse.  I
s'll be glad when 'er's gone.  It ma'es yer feel as if you was
screwed in a tight jacket--as if you'd burst innerds.

NURSE:  I understand--it has been so long.

HARRY:  It has.  I feel as if I should burst.  THA has got a nice
touch wi' thee, Nurse.  'Appen 'er'll leave me a bit of money--

NURSE:  Oh, Mr Hemstock!

HARRY:  An' if I could get some work--dost think I ought to get
married, Nurse?

NURSE:  Certainly, when you've found the right woman.

HARRY:  If I was in steady work--Nurse, dost think I'm a kid?

NURSE:  No--why?

HARRY:  I want motherin', Nurse.  I feel as if I could scraight.
I've been that worked-up this last eight month--

NURSE:  I know, it has been dreadful for you.

HARRY:  I dunna want huggin' an' kissin', Nurse.  I want--thar't a
nurse, aren't ter?

NURSE:  Yes, I'm a nurse.

HARRY:  I s'll reckon I'm badly, an' then tha can nurse me.

NURSE:  You ARE sick--

HARRY:  I am, Nurse, I'm heartsick of everything.

NURSE:  I know you are--

HARRY:  An' after my mother's gone--what am I to do?

NURSE:  What creatures you are, you men.  You all live by a woman.

HARRY:  I've lived by my mother.  What am I to do, Nurse?

NURSE:  You must get married--

HARRY:  If I was in steady work--

NURSE:  You'll get work, I'm sure.

HARRY:  And if my mother leaves me some money--

NURSE:  I must tell you where the will is, for fear anything should
happen.

HARRY:  Then I can ax--is it done, Nurse?

NURSE:  Just finished.

HARRY:  Should I lie down?

NURSE:  Let me straighten the sofa for you; don't get up yet.  Then
I must see to Mrs Hemstock, and I'll speak to you about the
Baroness's things, and about the will, when I come back.  How does
the head feel?

HARRY:  Swimming, like--like a puff o' steam wafflin'.

NURSE:  Come along--come and lie down--there, I'll cover you up.

MR HEMSTOCK (entering):  Is he badly?

NURSE:  I think he'll be fairly by to-morrow.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Tha'rt cading him a bit, Nurse.

NURSE:  It is what will do him good--to be spoiled a while.

MR HEMSTOCK:  'Appen so--but it'll be a wonder.

NURSE:  Why?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Spoilin' is spoilin', Nurse, especially for a man.

NURSE:  Oh, I don't know.  How is Mrs Hemstock?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Funny.  I canna ma'e heads or tails of her.


CURTAIN



ACT III


SCENE I


The morning after the previous scene.  The dining-room at the
vicarage, a spacious but sparsely furnished apartment, the BARON
considering himself in all circumstances a soldier.  The BARON, in
martial-looking smoking jacket, is seated at a desk, writing,
saying the words aloud.  The clock shows eleven.  Enter BARONESS,
in tight-sleeved paisley dressing-gown, ruched at neck and down the
front.  She wears a mobcap.


BARON (rising hastily and leading her to her chair):  You are sure,
Baroness, you are sufficiently recovered to do this?

BARONESS:  I am only pinned together, Baron.  I shall collapse if
the least thing happens.

BARON:  It shall not happen.

BARONESS:  My head has threshed round like a windmill all night.

BARON:  Did I sleep?

BARONESS:  No, Baron, no, no!  How do you find yourself this
morning?

BARON:  Younger, Baroness.  I have heard the clash of battle.

BARONESS:  I was so afraid you had felt it.

BARON:  I--I--but I shall fall to no sickness.  I shall receive the
thrust when I am in the pulpit, I shall hear the cry, "Rudolf von
Ruge"!  I fling up my hand, and my spirit stands at attention
before the Commander.

BARONESS:  Oh Baron, don't.  I shall dread Sunday.

BARON:  Dread it, Baroness!  Ah, when it comes, what glory!
Baroness, I have fought obscurely.  I have fought the small,
inconspicuous fight, wounded with many little wounds of ignominy.
But then--what glory!

BARONESS:  Has Nurse come yet?

BARON:  She has not, Baroness.

BARONESS:  I wish she would.

BARON:  You feel ill--hide nothing from me.

BARONESS:  She promised to try and get the things.  I know the hat
will be ruined, but if we recover the galosh and the lantern,
'twill be a salvation.

BARON:  'Tis nothing.

BARONESS:  'Tis, Baron, your hat cost 15/-- --and my pair of
galoshes, 3/6, and the lantern, 2/11.  What is that, Baron?  Reckon
it up.

BARON:  I cannot--I have not--(a pause) it is twenty-one shillings
and one penny.

BARONESS:  15/-- and 3/6--15, 16, 17, 18--that's 18/6 and 2/11--18--
19, 20.  (Counting.)  And FIVE pence, Baron.  Twenty-one shillings
and FIVE pence.

BARON:  'Tis nothing, Baroness.

BARONESS:  'Tis a great deal, Baron.  Hark!  Who is that called?

BARON:  I cannot hear.

BARONESS:  I will go and see.

BARON:  No, Baroness--_I_ go.

BARONESS:  To the kitchen, Baron?

Exit.  The BARON, at the window, cries on the Lord, in German.

NURSE (at the door):  Good morning.

BARONESS (hastily turning back):  Have you got them?

NURSE:  The hat and the galosh--we couldn't find the lantern.

BARONESS:  Those wicked Hemstocks have appropriated it.

NURSE:  No, Baroness, I think not.

BARONESS:  Your hat is not ruined, Baron--a miracle.  Put it on--it
looks as good as new.  What a blessing.  Just a little brushing--
and my galosh is not hurt.  But to think those wretches should
secrete my lantern.  I will show them--

BARON:  Baroness!

BARONESS:  I was going to the kitchen.  I hear a man's voice.

NURSE:  The Baker's cart is there.

BARONESS:  Ah!  (Exit BARONESS.)

NURSE:  I am very glad the Baroness is not ill this morning.

BARON:  Ah Nurse, the villainy of this world.  Believe that a
number of miners, ruffians, should ambush and attack the Baroness
and me, out of wrath at our good work.  The power of evil is
strong, Nurse.

NURSE:  It is, Baron, I'm sorry to say.

BARON:  I think those people Hemstock instigated this, Nurse.

NURSE:  No, Baron, I am sure not.

BARON:  Will you say why you are sure, Nurse?

NURSE:  I saw, Baron.  It was not Harry Hemstock, nor his father.

BARON:  Then who, Nurse?  They are criminals.  It is wickedness to
cover their sin.  Then who, Nurse?

NURSE:  Some people from Northrop.  I cannot say whom.  You know,
Baron, you are an aristocrat, and these people hate you for it.

BARON:  The mob issues from its lair like a plague of rats.  Shall
it put us down and devour the land?  Ah, its appetite is base, each
for his several stomach.  You knew them, Nurse?

NURSE:  No, Baron.

BARON:  You heard them--what they said--their voices.

NURSE:  I heard one say "Catch hold of Throttle-ha'penny!"

BARON:  "Catch hold of Trottle-ha'penny"--Throttle-ha'penny, what
is that?

NURSE:  I think it means the Baroness.  They are so broad, these
people, I can't understand them.

BARON:  I will punish them.  Under the sword they shall find
wisdom.

BARONESS'S VOICE:  Oh, shameless!  Shameless!

RACHEL'S VOICE:  He was looking at my brooch.

BARONESS'S VOICE:  Come here, Baker, come back.

BAKER'S VOICE:  A stale loaf to change, Baroness?

BARONESS'S VOICE:  You shall go before the Baron this time.  Go in
the dining-room, Rachel.

BAKER'S VOICE:  Me too?

Enter RACHEL, in cap and apron, the BAKER, and the BARONESS.

BAKER (entering):  Thank you, Missis.  Good morning, Nurse.  Expect
to find the Baroness in bed?  I did.

BARONESS (to RACHEL):  Stand there!

BARON (sternly to BAKER):  Stand there!  Take a seat, Nurse.  Pray
be seated, Baroness.

BAKER (seating himself in the armchair):  Hope I haven't got your
chair, Baron.

BARON:  Stand, sir.

BAKER (to NURSE, as he rises):  Nearly like my father said to the
curate:  "They're A' mine!"

BARON:  Baroness!

BARONESS:  He was, Baron, he was--

RACHEL:  He was bending down to look at my new brooch.  (She shows
it.)

BARONESS:  With his arm--

BAKER:  On her apron strings--

BARONESS:  He was stooping--

BAKER:  To look at her new brooch.

BARON:  Silence!

BARONESS:  He kissed her.

BARON:  Coward!  Coward!  Coward, SIR!

BAKER:  Ditto to you, Mister.

BARON:  What!  SIR!  Do you know--?

BAKER:  That you are the "Baron von Ruge"?  No, I've only your bare
word for it.

NURSE:  For shame, Mr Bowers.

BAKER:  When a little old man, Nurse, calls a big young man a
coward, he's presuming on his years and size to bully, and I say, a
bully's a coward.

BARON:  You contaminate my maid.

BAKER:  I contaminate your maid?

BARONESS:  The shameless baggage.  What have I always said of her!

BARON:  Baroness von Ruge!  (to BAKER)  You are going to marry her?

BAKER:  It's a question generally put to the woman.

BARON:  Answer me, sir.

BAKER:  I couldn't say which she's going to marry, out of her one
or two fellows.

BARONESS:  Shameless!  Ah, the slut!

BARON:  I repeat, sir--do you intend to marry this maid?

BAKER:  I hadn't fully made up my mind--

BARON:  Then, sir, you are a villain--

BAKER:  You've got the muscle of your years up, Mister--

BARON:  You threaten me!

BARONESS:  Baron!

RACHEL:  I sh'd have thought you'd more about you, Job Arthur
Bowers.

NURSE (deprecating):  Oh, Mr Bowers!

BAKER:  Right you are, Nurse!

BARON:  I say, sir, a man who kisses a maid--

BAKER:  Ought to be hanged for it--so say I.

BARON:  Sir, your facetiousness is untimely.  I say, a man who
kisses a maid--

BARONESS:  Baron, such people do not understand--

BARON (kissing her hand):  Baroness!

RACHEL (melting):  We're not given the chance.

BARON:  Sir, is there no reverence in a kiss?  If you strike a
match against the box, even, you wonder at the outburst of fire.
Then, sir--but do you wonder at nothing?

BAKER:  Nothing's surprising--but everything is comical, Baron,
that's how I find it.

BARON (puzzled and distressed):  So!  So!  Ah, but a woman IS,
according to her image in the eye of the men.

BAKER (looking at the BARONESS):  Some of us must have fancy eyes.

NURSE:  How can you be so flippant?

BARONESS:  A woman is what a man makes her.

BAKER:  By gum, there's no tellin' what you might manufacture in
time, then.  It's a big job to begin of.

RACHEL (laughing):  For shame, Job Arthur.

BARONESS:  What have you to say?  You bad creature!  What wonder
men are as they are?

BAKER:  When the women make them.

BARON:  You are of my parish?

BAKER:  Yes--but I'm in Northrop Church choir.

BARON:  You are a chorister?  You WISH to marry Rachel?

BAKER:  As I say, I haven't decided.

BARON:  But what are you doing?  What of this maid?

BARONESS:  What does he care!  Are you a married man, Baker?

BAKER:  Not that I know to, Missis.

BARON:  Sir, I am an old man, you remind me--

BAKER:  Beg pardon, Baron.

BARON:  And--a powerless--and I will say it, I will--a useless--

BARONESS:  Baron!

BARON:  Sir--I shall soon be called in--and, sir, you are of my
parish, Rachel is of my house.  What have I done, who am
responsible?

BAKER:  Nay, Baron, I can't see as you're to fault.

BARON:  My fault, sir, is failure, and failure without honour.  In
three campaigns, which are my life, I have been miserably beaten.

BARONESS:  No, Baron, no.  How are you to blame?

NURSE:  No, Baron, you have not failed.

BARON:  In Poland, in London, and in my parish of Greenway.
Baroness, we retire to a cottage; I sit still and contain myself,
under sentence--Baroness, your pardon!

BARONESS:  You shall not retire, Baron.  Before God, I witness, you
are no failure.  Ah, Rachel, see now what you've done.

RACHEL (weeping):  It's not me.

BAKER:  Nay, for that matter--would you marry me, Rachel, eh?

RACHEL:  Opportunity's a fine thing, you mean.

BAKER:  Will you marry me, Rachel?

RACHEL:  I--yes, I will, Job Arthur.

BARON:  She loves you, she let you kiss her.  But you, sir, do you
honour her?

BAKER:  I do.

BARON:  Then will you leave me?

BAKER:  Good morning, sir--and thank you.

He and RACHEL leave.

BARONESS:  You are not ill, Baron?

BARON:  No, Baroness.  Nurse, who is this man?

NURSE:  The Baker?  Oh, he's Job Arthur Bowers--a bit rackety.  He
lives down Greenhill with his old mother.  She's as deaf as a post,
and a little bit crazed.  But she's very fond of her son.

BARON:  Ah!  She is mad?  She is old?  Will Rachel be good to her?

BARONESS:  I very much doubt it.

NURSE:  Rachel will be afraid of Job Arthur Bowers.  He is too big
for her ever to get her apron strings round him.

BARON (smiling slightly):  I began to be afraid, Nurse--

BARONESS (at the window):  He is bringing my lantern.

NURSE:  Who?  Ah, that's right.

BARONESS:  Will you ring, Baron?  I will question that young man.
We must get to the bottom of last night's affair, Baron.

BARON:  Those ruffians shall not go unpunished.  Still I have power
for that.

BARONESS (to RACHEL):  Show that young man in here.  Nurse, you
will help us.  We must hold our own against these ungodly
creatures.  Must we not, Baron?

BARON:  Ah, Baroness, still we fight.

RACHEL:  Harry Hemstock.

HARRY (entering, his head bound up):  I've brought this 'ere
hurricane-lamp.

BARONESS:  Thank you.  And where did you find it?

HARRY:  Where you'd lost it.

BARONESS:  What have you done to your head?

HARRY (after a silence):  You should know.

BARONESS:  There, Baron.  I was right.  And you would have stolen
the lantern if Nurse had not--

BARON:  Leave the lantern, Baroness.  Sir, who were your accomplices
in this nightly attack?

HARRY:  What's 'e mean, Nurse?

NURSE:  The Baron means what men were those that attacked the
Baroness and him last night.  I say they were some men out of
Northrop--that you could not recognize them.  Mr Hemstock came to
your assistance, Baron.

BARON:  Is that so?

HARRY:  I pulled 'er off'n thee.

BARON:  What is it he says, Nurse?

NURSE:  He says he pulled the man away who was trying to hold you.

BARON:  Ah!  Tell me, sir--who was this ruffian?

HARRY:  I non know, no.

BARON:  Who struck you that blow?  That you must know, and that
must be told to me.

HARRY:  Tha ought ter know thysen.

BARONESS:  You are speaking to the Baron, remember.

HARRY:  An't wor him as gin me a crack ower th' yed.

BARON:  Then you were with the enemy.  Now I behold you, sir.  I
will cause you, sir, I will make you to confess.  I will see you
punished.  You shall suffer this course.

NURSE:  You are mistaken, Baron.

BARON:  Nurse, I will conduct this inquiry of myself.  It is not of
myself.  But your cowardice, yours and those others', to attack a
lady, by night.  There is a penalty for such, sir; I say you are
vile, and you shall name me the other villains.

HARRY:  There was no other villains--without you call a couple of
women villains.

BARON:  What mean you by a couple of women?

BARONESS:  He doesn't know what he is talking about.

NURSE:  There were some men, Mr Hemstock--from Northrop.

HARRY:  Well, if there wan, I didna see 'em.  All I see'd was two
women draggin' at th' old Baron.

BARON:  You mean to say we were attacked only by two women--
Baroness?

NURSE:  He must be mistaken.

BARONESS:  These people would say anything.

BARON:  Tell me, sir, tell me the truth at once.

HARRY:  I've told you the truth.

BARON:  It was some men, Baroness?  At least, Baroness, one man
there was--

BARONESS:  There WAS one man--how many more I can't say.

BARON:  The throat of these people is fuller of untruth than a
bird's gizzard--

HARRY:  It is the truth I've told you.

BARON:  Nurse--speak--was it two women?

NURSE:  It certainly was men, Baron.

HARRY:  Well, it certainly wan't, an' I'm not a liar.

BARON:  Then it was two women?

HARRY:  It WAS.

BARON:  And a woman has smitten your head?

HARRY:  No, you did that youself, with your thick stick, when I'd
pulled our Susy off'n you.  An' I fell over your lantern and it cut
me.

BARONESS:  A likely tale.

HARRY:  Is it true, Nurse Broadbanks?

NURSE:  I think you are mistaken, Mr Hemstock.  Oh, do not be so
persistent.

HARRY:  I'll not be made a liar of.  Wheer's Rachel?

BARONESS:  Why Rachel?  She has nothing to do with it.

HARRY:  Fetch her in then.

NURSE:  She has just been in.  She is engaged to Job Arthur Bowers--

HARRY:  I don't care what she is.

BARON:  I will ring.

BARONESS:  Do not, Baron, do not trouble.

BARON:  Sir, it was not two women--I defy you, sir.  You make me a
silly thing; it is your spleen.

BARONESS:  You had better go, you.

HARRY:  I'm not going to be made a liar of.

Enter RACHEL.

Rachel, who was it knocked the Baron's hat off an' shook him last
night?

NURSE:  Do you know the names of those men from Northrop, Rachel?

RACHEL:  It wan't him, Baron, he helped you.

BARON:  He would patch me with shame.  You saw this attack?

RACHEL:  I was just slipping down to get some milk from Mrs
Smalley, there was none for supper--

BARON:  And what did you see?

RACHEL:  I saw some men, an' I heard some shouting, and I saw
somebody hit him on the head.  Then I ran home, and I'd just got in
when you came.

HARRY:  Why, wan't it you and our Susy as was raggin' the Baron an'
Baroness, an' I come up an' stopped you?

RACHEL:  Me!  Me an' your Susy?

HARRY:  You shammer!

RACHEL:  I know you went up an' stopped the men, whoever they was--

HARRY:  So I'm a liar?  So I'm a liar?

BARONESS:  Yes--and you may go.

HARRY:  So I'm a liar, Nurse Broadbanks?

He goes out.

BARON:  God help us, we begin to believe in the plots they imagine
against us.  (He looks at his hands.)  It was NOT two women,
Baroness?

BARONESS:  No, Baron, no.

BARON:  You saw several men, Nurse?

NURSE:  Yes, Baron.

BARON:  Rachel--but why weep!  Rachel--he defended me against men?

RACHEL (sobbing):  Yes, Baron.

BARONESS:  Rachel, leave the room.

RACHEL leaves.

BARON:  Nurse, I am a soldier.

NURSE:  You are, Baron.

BARON:  I must reward that--fellow--although--

NURSE:  It is good of you, Baron.

BARONESS:  And you called yourself a failure, Rudolf.

BARON:  I can--I must speak for him at the colliery.  There I still
have some influence.

NURSE:  It is so good of you.

BARON:  He has suffered already for his opposition.  It is not good
for the enemies of God to prosper.  But I will write to my nephew.

NURSE:  I could leave a letter, Baron--I am going past the
colliery.

BARON:  I will write now--then my honour is free.  (Seats himself
at the desk.)  "My dear Nephew, I am placed under an obligation to
that man of whom I have spoken to you before, Henry Hemstock, of
the cottage at the end of the glebe close.  It is within the bounds
of your generosity to relieve me of this burden of gratitude
contracted to one of such order.  You will, of your fullness of
spirit, lap over the confine of my debt with bounty.  Your Aunt
salutes you, and I reach you my right hand.  Rudolf von Ruge."--The
manager of the collieries is as my own son to me, Nurse.

BARONESS:  And he is a good son.  He is MY nephew.

NURSE:  I will leave the letter.


CURTAIN



SCENE II


Evening of the same day.  NURSE'S room, the sitting-room of a
miner's cottage: comfortable, warm, pleasant.  NURSE in the
armchair on one side of the fire.  MR WILCOX on the other.  He is a
stout, elderly miner, with grey round whiskers and a face like a
spaniel.


MR WILCOX:  No, Nurse, I've not a bit of comfort.

NURSE:  Why shouldn't Rachel stay and look after you?

MR WILCOX:  Nay, don't ask me--an ungrateful hussy.  And I can't
seem to get a housekeeper as'll manage for me.

NURSE:  It is difficult.

MR WILCOX:  I've been trying this last ten years, an' I've not had
a good one yet.  Either they eat you up, or waste, or drink.  What
do you think to-day?  You know how it was raining.  I got home from
pit soaked.  No breeches an' waistcoat put to warm--fire nearly
out.

NURSE:  Oh, it IS too bad.

MR WILCOX:  An' in the fender, a great row of roast potatoes, hard
as nag-nails--not done a bit--

NURSE:  What a shame--

MR WILCOX:  An' not a morsel of meat to eat to them.  She'd aten
the great piece of cold mutton left from yesterday, an' then said I
hadn't left 'er no money for no meat.

NURSE:  How stupid!

MR WILCOX:  So it was taters--you had to chomp 'em like raw turnip--
an' drippin'--an' a bit of a batter puddin' tough as whit-leather.

NURSE:  Poor man.

MR WILCOX:  An' no fire--there never is when I come home.  I
believe she sells the coal.

NURSE:  Isn't it dreadful?

MR WILCOX:  An' they're all alike.

NURSE:  I suppose they are.

MR WILCOX:  They are.  You know I'm an easy man to live with,
Nurse.

NURSE:  I'm sure you are.

MR WILCOX:  One as gives very little trouble.  Nay, I can fettle
for myself--an' does so.

NURSE:  I have seen you.

MR WILCOX:  And I think I deserve a bit better treatment, Nurse.

NURSE:  I'm sure you do.

MR WILCOX:  An' I ought to be able to get it.  If I was drunken or
thriftless I should say nothing.

NURSE:  But you're not.

MR WILCOX:  No, I'm not.  I've been a steady and careful man all my
life.  A Chapel-going man, whereas you're Church--but that's a
detail.

NURSE:  It OUGHT not to matter.

MR WILCOX:  You know, Nurse, I've got four GOOD houses--lets at six
shillings each.

NURSE:  Yes, I know you have.

MR WILCOX:  Besides a tidy bit in the bank.

NURSE:  And you have saved it all?

MR WILCOX:  Every penny.

NURSE:  Ha!

MR WILCOX:  An' there's on'y Rachel.  I'd give her a couple of
houses straight off, an' then we should be alright THERE: nobody
could grumble.

NURSE:  You COULD do that, of course.

MR WILCOX:  Nurse, do you know how old I am?

NURSE:  No, Mr Wilcox.

MR WILCOX:  I'm just fifty-eight.

NURSE:  Hm!  I should have thought you were more.

MR WILCOX:  I'm not.

NURSE:  It is comparatively young.

MR WILCOX:  It's not OLD, is it?  And though I've been a widower
these ten years--I'm not--I'm not good for nowt, d'yer see?

NURSE:  Of course you're not.

MR WILCOX:  An' you know, Nurse, you're just the one for me.

NURSE (laughing):  Am I, Mr Wilcox?

MR WILCOX:  Nurse, will you tell me your name?

NURSE:  Broadbanks.

MR WILCOX:  You know I meant your Christian name.  Don't torment
me, Nurse, I can't stand it.

NURSE:  I was baptized Millicent Emily.

MR WILCOX:  "Millicent Emily"--it's like the "Song of Solomon".
Can I say it again?

NURSE:  If you will say it only to yourself.

MR WILCOX:  My name is James--Jim for short.

NURSE:  I thought it was Hezekiah--or Ezekiel.

MR WILCOX:  Hezekiah's my second name--James Hezekiah.

NURSE:  I like Hezekiah better.

MR WILCOX:  Do you--I thought you didn't.  Oh, I'm glad you like
it.  But yours is lovely.

NURSE:  I prefer Nurse.

MR WILCOX:  So do I--nice and short.  (A pause.)  Shall I sing to
you, Nurse?

NURSE:  Do you sing?

MR WILCOX:  Oh, yes--I used to be a great one at "Ora pro Nobis".
Should I sing you "Gentle Annie"?  I used to sing that forty years
since.

NURSE:  When you were courting, Mr Wilcox?

MR WILCOX:  Afore that.

He hesitates--goes to the piano and, after fumbling, begins to vamp
to "What Are the Wild Waves Saying".  He begins to sing,
"lamentoso".

NURSE:  There's someone at the door!

Not hearing, or observing, he continues to play.  She opens to DR
FOULES: they stand smiling.  MR WILCOX stops playing and wheels
round.

DR FOULES:  "Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory."

NURSE:  Mr Wilcox was enlivening my leisure.  Do you know Mr
Wilcox, Dr Foules?

DR FOULES:  I have not had the pleasure till now.

He bows.

MR WILCOX:  Good even'--I wasn't aware as anybody was here.

DR FOULES:  "By rapture's blaze impelled he swelled the artless
lay."

NURSE:  I think Mr Wilcox sings very well indeed.  Will you finish,
Mr Wilcox?

MR WILCOX:  No, thanks, I must be going.

DR FOULES:  Pray do not let me hasten you away.

MR WILCOX:  Oh, I was just going.  Well--happen you'll call at our
house, Nurse?

NURSE:  I will, Mr Wilcox.

He leaves.

DR FOULES:  Did I interrupt you?

NURSE:  You did not interrupt ME.

DR FOULES:  Then I incur no disfavour?

NURSE:  Not for stopping poor Mr Wilcox at "Brother, I hear no
singing"--Poor man!

DR FOULES:  You pity him?

NURSE:  I do.

DR FOULES:  Ah!  Is it of the mind-melting sort?

NURSE:  I do not understand.

DR FOULES:  "For pity melts the mind to love"--

NURSE:  No--poor man.  I can just imagine my mother, if I took him
down to Kent.  Well, you've done a nice thing for yourself--

DR FOULES:  You daren't face family criticism?

NURSE:  I daren't.

DR FOULES:  Ah!  Then he DOES aspire?

NURSE:  Poor old fellow!

DR FOULES:  I do not like your pity, Nurse--however near akin it
may be to something better.

NURSE:  You have often incurred it, Doctor.

DR FOULES:  Which of the two, Nurse?

NURSE:  The pity, of course.  I have said "poor boy".

DR FOULES:  Why?

NURSE:  Why?  (She laughs.)  Because, I suppose, you were pitiable.

DR FOULES (blushing):  You mean I was to be pitied.  Why?

NURSE:  Because you were not like the Pears' Soapy baby--"He won't
be happy till he gets it," but you went on washing your self
without soap, good as gold.

DR FOULES:  I cannot apply your simile.

NURSE:  Perhaps not.  I never was literary.

DR FOULES:  You have grown brilliant--and caustic, if I may say so.

NURSE:  It is the first time I have been accused of brilliance.

DR FOULES:  Then perhaps I am the steel which sheds the sparks from
your flint.

NURSE:  Oh, the sparks may come, but they're not noticed.  Perhaps
you are only the literary man who catches them on his tinder and
blows them into notice.  You love a phrase beyond everything.

DR FOULES:  Really--I hardly recognize you, Nurse.

NURSE:  And what did your mother say of me?

DR FOULES:  I thank you for calling so soon.  Did she seem changed,
to you?

NURSE:  She looks very ill.

DR FOULES:  Yes, I am worried.

NURSE:  You are afraid it is something serious?

DR FOULES:  Yes.

NURSE:  I hope not.  But it put me about to see her looking so
frail.  She was very kind to me.

DR FOULES:  You are very good, Nurse.

NURSE:  It is my duty to be sympathetic, Doctor.

DR FOULES:  And use is second nature.  I will take courage, Nurse.

NURSE:  Will it not be a complete disguise?

DR FOULES:  Your duty does not extend to ME, Nurse.

NURSE:  No, Doctor.

DR FOULES:  You wish me to see you in YOUR new guise, Nurse.  You
stick daw's feathers among your dove's plumage.

NURSE (laughing):  What, am I a dove then?  It is a silly bird.

DR FOULES:  You have had a hard time, Nurse?

NURSE:  I have got over the hardness, thank you.  It is all
moderate, now.

DR FOULES:  Might it not be MORE than moderate?

NURSE:  I hope it will be some day.

DR FOULES:  Could I help it, do you think?

NURSE:  Everybody helps it, by being amiable--

DR FOULES:  But might I not help it--more particularly?  You used
to--

NURSE:  Say you are in love with me, Doctor--

DR FOULES:  I have always been--

NURSE:  Then the light has been under a bushel.

DR FOULES:  "Blown to a core of ardour by the awful breath of--"
(He smiles very confusedly.)  I may hope then, Nurse.

NURSE (smiling):  Along with Mr Wilcox.

DR FOULES:  Thank you for the company.

NURSE:  Look here, Arthur, you have lived like a smug little candle
in a corner, with your mother to shelter you from every draught.
Now you can get blown a bit.  I do not feel inclined to shelter you
for the rest of your life.

DR FOULES:  Thank you.

NURSE:  I am sorry if I am nasty.  But I am angry with you.

DR FOULES:  It is evident.

NURSE:  And I will still come and see your mother, if I may.  She
is a woman to respect.

DR FOULES:  I do not order my mother's comings and goings.  The
case is the reverse, you remember.

NURSE:  Very well.  On your high horse, you are more like the
nursery than ever.

DR FOULES:  Thank you.

NURSE (mimicking):  Thank you.

DR FOULES:  I am surprised--

NURSE:  I am surprised--but--was that someone at the door?

DR FOULES:  I could not tell you.

NURSE:  Excuse me, I will see.

DR FOULES:  Let me go, first.  (Catching his hat to depart.)

NURSE (opening the door):  You, Mr Hemstock.  Will you come in?

Enter HARRY.

DR FOULES:  Good evening, Mr Hemstock.  I will make way for you.

NURSE:  "Applications considered Tuesday, between seven and nine
p.m."  That is your meaning, Doctor?

DR FOULES:  With your usual astuteness, you have it.

NURSE:  With my usual astuteness, I have avoided so far the
"Matrimonial Post".  This is the irony of fate, Doctor.  It never
rains but it pours.

DR FOULES (bowing to NURSE and HARRY):  The third time pays for
all, they say.

NURSE (laughing):  I will tell you to-morrow.

DR FOULES:  It will not be too late to drop me a post card.

NURSE:  I will see.  Good night, Dr Foules.

DR FOULES:  Good night, Nurse Broadbanks.  I wish you luck.

NURSE:  And lifelong happiness.

DR FOULES:  Good night!

Exit DR FOULES.

NURSE:  He is very pleasant, isn't he?

HARRY:  They say so.

NURSE:  How is Mrs Hemstock?

HARRY:  She's worse.  She's not speakin'.

NURSE:  Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.  Did you want me to do
anything?  Poor thing, it will be a relief when she's gone.

HARRY:  The 'owd doctor's bin.  He told us to ax you to see her
settled down--

NURSE:  Shall I come now?

HARRY:  Or in about half an hour's time--when you're ready.

NURSE:  I may as well come now--when I've just tidied the room.
Are you going to sit up with her?

HARRY:  No--my father is, an' our Susy.  I'm going to work.

NURSE:  Going to work?  I thought you hadn't a place.

HARRY:  They sent me word as I wor to go to-morrow--buttyin' wi'
Joe Birkin.

NURSE:  And will it be a good place?

HARRY:  Ha!  It's a sight better than ever I expected.

NURSE:  Oh, that IS nice, isn't it?

HARRY:  It's better nor mormin' about at home.

NURSE:  It is.  I'm so glad, Mr Hemstock.  Then you'll stop at
Greenway?

HARRY:  I'm reckonin' so.  There's nowt else, is there?

NURSE:  No--why should there be?  You'll have to begin afresh after
Mrs Hemstock has gone--

HARRY:  I s'll make a start o' some sort.

NURSE:  You will?  Do you know, I've had old Mr Wilcox here
tonight.

HARRY:  Oh--ah?

NURSE:  He's so comical.  He was singing to me.  (She laughs into
her hand.)

HARRY:  He must ha' wanted summat to do--

NURSE:  I think so.  You never heard anything like it in your life.

HARRY:  'E never wor but dosy-baked.

NURSE (purring):  What does that mean?

HARRY:  Soft, batchy, sawney.

NURSE:  Poor old chap.  It's no use being angry with him, is it?

HARRY:  What for?

NURSE:  For thinking I would accept him.

HARRY:  No, it's not good bein' mad wi' HIM.

NURSE:  He looked so crestfallen.

HARRY:  He'll be just as game by to-morrow.

NURSE:  Of course he will.  Men only pretend to be so heartbroken.
By supper-time they've forgotten.

HARRY:  An' what's a woman do?

NURSE:  I don't know.  You see it means more to a woman.  It's her
life.  To a man it's only a pleasant change.

HARRY:  To all appearances, you'd think it worn't such a life-an'-
death affair to her.

NURSE:  Why?

HARRY:  Woman is reckoned to be pinin' for you, goes an' makes a
liar an' a fool of you in front of other folks.

NURSE:  You mean Rachel Wilcox.

HARRY:  Ah--'appen I do.

NURSE:  But, poor old Baron, it would have killed him.

HARRY:  Then let him die.  What good is he, here or anywhere else?

NURSE:  Oh, Mr Hemstock!

HARRY:  Besides, she did it to spite me, because 'er wor mad wi'
me.

NURSE:  But she is engaged to Mr Bowers.

HARRY:  'Appen so.  'Er bites 'er nose off to spite her face.

NURSE:  But poor old Baron--it would have been so cruel.

HARRY:  Would he have stopped tellin' everybody else the truth?

NURSE:  But you can't judge in that way--

HARRY:  Why canna I?  You make a liar an' a swine of ME, an' a dam'
fool of him--

NURSE:  Oh, come, Mr Hemstock.

HARRY:  He is a little fool--an' wants to boss everybody else wi'
it, an' a'--

NURSE:  You ought not to speak of the Baron like that.

HARRY:  No, it's all palaver, an' smooth talk.  I'll see anybody in
hell before I'm fed wi' mealy-mouthed words like a young pigeon.

NURSE:  I think you don't know what you're talking about.

HARRY:  Dunna I though, but I do.  I'm not going to be made a
convenience of, an' then buttered up, like a trussed fowl.

NURSE:  There is no one wants to butter you up, to my knowledge.

HARRY:  Alright, then--then there isn't.

NURSE:  And all this, I think, has been very uncalled for--and
unnecessary.

HARRY:  Alright, then--an' it has.  But I'm not a kid, nor to be
treated like one--

NURSE:  It's there you make your mistake.

HARRY:  Nay, it's somebody else as had made a mistake.

NURSE:  Yes--we do think the quiet vessels are the full ones.  But
it seems they only want shaking to rattle worse than any.

HARRY:  Alright.  Say what you like.

NURSE:  Thank you, I don't wish to say any more, except that I pity
whoever has you, for you seem to be in a state of chronic bad
temper.

HARRY:  Alright--I'll be going.

NURSE (who has been tidying the room):  I will be at your house in
ten minutes.

HARRY:  There's no occasion to hurry--am I to wait for you?

NURSE:  No, thank you--I would rather come alone.


CURTAIN



ACT IV


The evening after the last scene.  It is the third day of the play.
The kitchen at the HEMSTOCKS'.


NURSE:  And what about the fire in the room?

SUSY:  I'll let it go out and take the ashes up by daylight.  It's
falling dusk, an' I don't like being in by myself.

NURSE:  Poor Mrs Hemstock--she went away quickly at the last.

SUSY (red-eyed--sniffing):  She did that.  Eh, but wan't she
wasted?  A fair skeleton!  I'm glad you laid her out, Nurse.

NURSE:  I shall miss her.  I've been coming here over a year now.

SUSY:  I hope I don't lie like that.  She used to be as strong as a
horse.  But she WAS hard, you know.

NURSE:  Perhaps she had enough to make her.

SUSY:  She had--wi' my father an' the lads.  She was easiest wi'
our Harry.  He was always mother's lad.

NURSE:  Yet they have been so indifferent--

SUSY:  At the bottom they haven't.  She never forgave him for going
with Rachel Wilcox--an' he was always funny-tempered, would rool up
like a pea-bug, at a word.

NURSE:  I thought she favoured Rachel Wilcox.

SUSY:  No, hated her; but she used her to make game of him.

NURSE:  She is engaged to the Baker now.

SUSY:  Yes.  He's only having her for her money--an' she'll hate
him when she's rubbed the fur off a bit.  But she's one would fuss
round a pair of breeches on a clothesline, rather than have no man.

NURSE:  I don't like her.

SUSY:  Not many does.  She fair pines for our Harry, yet she'd have
Job Arthur for fear of getting nobody.

NURSE:  How dreadful!  (She goes for her cloak.)

SUSY:  Nay, dunna go.  Stop an' ha'e a cup o' tea.  I durstn't stop
in by mysen.  The kettle'll boil in a minute.  (She lays the
table.)

NURSE:  I really ought to go.

SUSY:  Don't, I should be scared to death.  You'll stop five
minutes, Nurse.

NURSE:  A quarter of an hour.

SUSY (staring):  What's that?

NURSE (going to the door):  It's only Patty.

SUSY:  She's been that lost a' day without our Harry.

NURSE:  Poor old Patty!

Enter HARRY.

SUSY:  Tha'rt a bit sooner than I thought fer.

HARRY (surly):  Am I?

SUSY:  I hanna been able to get thee no dinner.

HARRY:  Why?

SUSY:  She on'y died at two o'clock--an' we've been busy ever sin',
haven't we, Nurse?

NURSE:  We have, Mrs Smalley.

SUSY:  Shall ter ha'e tea wi' me an' Nurse?

HARRY:  No.

SUSY:  What then?

HARRY:  Nowt.

SUSY:  Shall ter wesh thysen?

HARRY:  Ha.

SUSY:  Pump wor frozen this mornin'--

HARRY:  I know.

SUSY fetches a large red pancheon from outside, puts in cold water,
brings towel and soap, setting all on a stool on hearth-rug.  HARRY
sets tin bottle and knotted snap-bag on table, takes off his cap,
red wool scarf, coat, and waistcoat.  He pours hot water from
boiler into pancheon, strips off his singlet or vest--he wears no
shirt--and kneels down to wash.  NURSE and SUSY sit down to tea.

NURSE (to HARRY):  You must be tired to-day.  (No answer.)

SUSY:  I bet his hands is sore--are they?  (No answer.)  Best leave
him alone--they always grumble about their hands, first day.

HARRY:  Wheer's my Dad?

SUSY:  Gone to registrar's.

NURSE:  Yes, they must take some time to harden.

SUSY:  Shall you sit there, Nurse?  I'd better light the lamp, you
can't see.

HARRY:  Tha nedna.

SUSY:  What's thaigh to stop me for?

NURSE:  No--I like the twilight--really.

SUSY:  There's a lot o' dirt wi' a collier--an' mess.

NURSE:  Yes.

SUSY:  I allers said I'd not marry one.  I'd had enough wi' my
father an' th' lads.

NURSE:  They say it's clean dirt.

SUSY:  Is it?  Muck an' mess, to my thinkin'.

NURSE:  Yes, I suppose so.  I used to think it would be dreadful.

SUSY:  But you've altered.

NURSE:  Well, I've thought about it--I'm afraid I should never fit
in.

SUSY:  No--you're too much of a lady--you like a lady's ways.

NURSE:  I don't know.  Perhaps one does get a bit finicky after a
certain time.

SUSY (to HARRY):  Dost want thy back doin'?

He grunts assent.  She washes his back with a flannel, and wipes it
as she talks.

NURSE:  It's the thought of it day after day, day after day--it is
rather appalling.

SUSY:  The thought of any man, like that, is.

NURSE (smiling):  It was not the man--it was the life--the company
one would have to keep.

SUSY:  Yes.  So you wouldn't marry a collier, Nurse?

NURSE:  Yes, I would--for all that.  If I cared for him.

SUSY:  That makes the difference.

NURSE:  It does.

SUSY:  I can't imagine you married to a collier.

NURSE:  Sometimes it seems mad, to me; sometimes it doesn't.

SUSY:  I shouldn't ha' thought, though, Nurse, you'd ha' had one--

NURSE:  No?  I might.

SUSY:  Not an old one?

NURSE:  Certainly not an old one.  Not Mr Wilcox.

SUSY:  Ha.  Have another cup?  I wish Patty would keep still.  She
fair worrits me.  I'm sure I'd like to drop your cup, she made me
jump that much.

NURSE:  I am surprised you are nervous.

SUSY:  We all are.  I wonder, Nurse, where my mother's will is?

NURSE:  Oh--I meant to have told you.  In the socket of the bedpost
nearest the drawers, at the top.

SUSY:  Would you believe it!

NURSE:  She was very quaint sometimes.  Poor Mrs Hemstock.

SUSY:  Do you think she was in her right mind?

NURSE:  Oh, yes--and Doctor does, too.

SUSY:  Well--I used to have my doubts.

NURSE:  Poor Mrs Hemstock.

A knock.

SUSY:  Oh!

RACHEL (entering):  I thought there was nobody in, seeing no light.
Is Nurse here?

NURSE:  Yes.

RACHEL:  The Baroness wants you to go up, she's got a pain.  I've
been to your place for you.

NURSE:  Poor Baroness!  What is the matter?

RACHEL:  She's got a pain in her shoulder.

NURSE:  Rheumatism?

RACHEL:  She says she believes it's pleurisy.

NURSE (smiling):  Poor old Baroness; she DOES fancy.

RACHEL:  But she won't pay for a doctor, fancy or no fancy, not if
she can help it.  Her fancy mustn't COST her anything.

NURSE:  She knows I can treat her.  I can go straight there.

RACHEL:  Oh, an' will you go an' see what's up with my father?
He's not been to work--been in bed all day--can't eat--won't have
the doctor--fading away--

NURSE:  That is sad!  What ails him?

RACHEL:  I don't know--Minnie's been up for me.  Says he feels hot
inside, an' believes he's got an inflammation.

NURSE:  I'll call if I have time.  I must go.

RACHEL:  He's done nothing but ask were his eyes bloodshot, and
would Minnie be frightened if he turned delirious.  She's frit--an'
_I_ can't go down--

NURSE:  I will call.  Good night, everybody.

Exit NURSE.

SUSY:  I must light the lamp.

RACHEL:  I didn't hear till four o'clock as she'd gone.  Was she
unconscious?

SUSY:  Yes, all day.

RACHEL (to HARRY--who is struggling into his shirt):  And was you
at work?  Fancy, you been at home all this time, then it to happen
the first day you was away.  Things do happen cruel.

SUSY:  Shall you give him his tea, while I go an' see to my lad?

RACHEL:  I mustn't be long.

SUSY goes out.

What shall you have?

HARRY:  Nowt.

RACHEL:  Oh, you must 'ave somethink.  Just a cup of tea, if
nothing else.  Come on--come an' sit here.  See, it's waiting.  You
must be fair sinkin' after bein' at work all day.  I've thought of
you every minute, I'm sure.  I've heard the driving engines
shuddering every time, an' I've thought of you.  (She cuts bread
and toasts it.)  They say you're hard, but they don't know.
(Suspicion of tears.)  I used to think myself as you was a kid, a
frightened bit of a rabbit--but I know different now.  (She cries.)
I know what you've had to go through--an' I've been a cat to you, I
have.  I know what you've felt--as if you was pushed up against a
wall, an' all the breath squeezed out of you--her dyin' by inches--
an' I've been a cat to you.  (She butters the toast.)

HARRY:  Tha needna do that for me.

RACHEL:  Yes, do eat a bit--you'll be sinkin'.  I've had no tea--
I'll eat a bit with you, if you will.  (She sits down, drinks tea,
and eats a little.)  You know I've fair hated myself--I've wished I
was dead.  But I needn't talk about myself.  Are your hands sore?

HARRY:  A bit.

RACHEL:  I knew they must be--because you've worked like a horse, I
know you have, to stop thinking.  I can see you're dog-tired.  Let
me look.  (She takes his hand.)  Fair raw!  (Melting into tears.)
You don't care a bit about yourself, you don't, an' it's not fair.

HARRY:  Tha hasna bothered thysen above thy boot-tops.

RACHEL:  I know I haven't.  Oh, I was jealous of your mother,
'cause I knowed you was fonder of her--

HARRY:  Tha nedna--(She weeps--he hides his face.)

RACHEL:  I s'll never forgive myself--

HARRY:  Dunna--

RACHEL, sobbing, goes to him, takes his head on her bosom, and
rocks it.

RACHEL:  An' I've been such a cat to thee, Harry.

HARRY (putting his arms round her waist):  I've not seen her for
two days.

RACHEL:  Never mind, never mind.  She's been wandering--never mind.

HARRY:  Now 'er's gone.

RACHEL:  Never mind, we s'll die ourselves someday, we shall.  I
know tha loved her, better than me--tha allers would--I know.  But
let me be wi' thee.  (She sits down on his knee.)  Let me stop wi'
thee, tha wants somebody.  An' I care for nowt but thee--tha knows
I do.

HARRY:  Should we go an' look at her?

RACHEL (kissing him):  We will.  (She kisses him again.)  Tha's
been like a bird on a frozen pond, tha has.  Tha's been frozen out--

HARRY:  Rachel?

RACHEL:  What?

HARRY:  Dunna kiss me yet--

RACHEL:  No--I won't--I won't.

HARRY:  Afterwards--

RACHEL:  Yes, I know--I know.  (Silence a moment.)  Come then,
we'll go an' look at her.

She lights a candle, takes his hand.  They go into the front room.

Enter SUSY.

SUSY:  Where are they?  I'd think they've carted off an' left th'
house empty.  (Calls.)  Rachel!  Oh my goodness!  Harry!

Enter RACHEL and HARRY, both with red eyes, from the sickroom.

Oh, here you are.

RACHEL:  Yes.  Did you think I'd gone?

HARRY pulls on his coat and goes out.

SUSY:  Yes--you said you was in a hurry.

RACHEL:  I SHALL have to be goin'.

SUSY:  I wish my father would come.  Is he grumpy yet?

RACHEL:  Harry?  No, he's not grumpy, no.

SUSY:  What?  Have you made it up?

RACHEL:  There was nothing to make.

SUSY:  I'm glad to hear it.  What about Job Arthur?

RACHEL:  I never did care a bit about him or anybody else--

SUSY:  No, but--

RACHEL:  Well, but what?

SUSY:  Has he asked you?  Has he promised you?  Our Harry?

RACHEL:  Yes, not in words--but I know.

SUSY:  You don't.  Nurse wants him, an' Nurse'll get him.

RACHEL:  She won't.

SUSY:  You see.

RACHEL:  Don't you fret your fat.  He's not that easy to grab.

SUSY:  But he's got a fancy for Nurse.  He's as proud as they make
'em, an' it would just suit him to crow over us, marryin' a lady.

RACHEL:  A lady!

SUSY:  Well, you know what I mean.  An' I believe there's summat in
the will for her.  My mother harped on her an' our Harry--

RACHEL:  An' does she know?

SUSY:  She's not far off o' guessin', I'll be bound.  She is a deep
one, Nurse is.

RACHEL:  She is.  Oh, she'd soon know everything if she got a
sniff.  An' has your father got the will?

SUSY:  No, it's in the front room.

RACHEL:  Well--you should get it, an' see what it says.  YOU should
come in for something, and then--

SUSY:  Durst you come with me?

RACHEL:  Yes, I durst come.

SUSY:  Should us then?

RACHEL:  Yes, let us.  You could burn it if there was owt you
didn't like.

SUSY:  Durst you get it?  (She lights a candle.)

RACHEL:  Yes, if you'll show me.

They go into the next room.

SUSY'S VOICE:  Doesn't it smell cold a'ready.  Oh!

RACHEL'S VOICE:  It does.

SUSY'S VOICE:  Look, you want to get on this table.  This blessed
candle does jump.

RACHEL'S VOICE:  I could ha' sworn tha sheet moved.

A shriek from SUSY--shrieks from RACHEL--a bump--more shrieks.
SUSY rushes across the kitchen out of doors.  In a moment HARRY
appears in the outer doorway.  RACHEL flies blindly into him.

HARRY:  Whatever's up?

RACHEL:  Oh Harry!  Oh Harry!

HARRY:  Well--what's up?  What's ter got in thy hand?

RACHEL:  Oh, whatever was it?  Let's go.

HARRY:  What wor that?  What!

He starts as Patty walks mildly from the front room.

It wor nowt but our Patty.

RACHEL:  I thought I should have died.

HARRY:  What wor ther doin'?

RACHEL:  I fell off that table.  Oh, and I have bruised my arm.

HARRY:  What wor you doin'?  What's this?

SUSY (entering):  Oh Rachel!

RACHEL:  It was only Patty.

SUSY:  Did you get it?  Oh, look at our Harry opening it!

HARRY:  Why, it's th' will.  I sh'd ha' thought you'd have more
about you--(He reads.)

SUSY:  What's it say?

HARRY:  Look for thysen, if tha'rt in such a mighty hurry.

SUSY (reading):  Five hundred and fifty pounds for him and Nurse
Broadbanks if they marry--an' if not, to be divided between me an'
him.  What did I say!  Would you credit, now?  But there's one
thing, Nurse won't HAVE him.

RACHEL:  He doesn't want her.

HARRY:  She's worth a million such as you, cats as wants nowt but
to lap at a full saucer.  You couldna let her lie quiet for five
minutes, but must be after her bit of money.

RACHEL:  Indeed, I didn't want the money.

SUSY:  He wants it himself, an' that's what he's been contrivin'
for all along--him an' that slivin' Nurse.  There's a pair of 'em.

HARRY:  There's a pair of you, more like it--a couple of slitherin'
cats, nowt else.  No more you think of her, than if she wor a dead
fish wi' the money in her mouth.  But you shan't have it, you
shan't, if I can scotch you.

RACHEL:  Oh, Mr Sharp-shins, you think you know everything, do you?
You're mistaken.  It's not fair, it isn't.  I only--

HARRY:  Tha needs to tell me nowt.

NURSE (entering):  Oh, you are here!  The Baroness asked me to call
and see where you were, Rachel.

RACHEL:  And now you've seen, you can go back an' tell her you've
been.

HARRY:  They've been after th' will, couldna let her rest still in
her own room, but what must they do, go ferretin' for her money--

SUSY:  Shut thy mouth, tha's said enough.

HARRY:  That I hanna.  They'd claw the stuff out of her hand, if it
wor there--

SUSY:  Hadn't we a right to see the will?

HARRY:  There's a lot of right about you.  Here, come here.  Give
us hold of it.

SUSY:  I shan't.

HARRY:  What!  Now, Nurse, thee read it.  We'n all read.  Now thee
read it.  (NURSE reads.)  Hast got it all?  Tha sees?

NURSE:  Yes, I understand it.

HARRY:  An' what dost say?

NURSE:  I say nothing.

SUSY:  This is what she's been working for.

HARRY:  Then let them as has worked be paid.  What?  I say "snip",
Nurse, will tha say "snap"?  Come on--"snap" me, Nurse.  Say
"snap".  Snip?

NURSE:  This is hardly the occasion.

RACHEL:  He doesn't love you, Nurse.  This is only his temper.

NURSE:  I think, out of respect to the dead, we ought not to go on
like this.

SUSY:  You'll be precise and proper--all lardy-da.  Oh yes--but
you've got what you've been aiming at, haven't you?  You've worked
it round very clever.  You see what carneyin' 'll do for you,
Rachel.  If you'd ha' buttered your words, you might ha' been
alright.

RACHEL:  I couldn't creep.

HARRY:  No; you could slither, though.

NURSE:  I'm afraid I must be going.

SUSY:  Yes, you can smile to yourself, and hug yourself under your
cloak in the dark.  It's worth marryin' him for, five hundred and
fifty pounds.

NURSE goes out.

HARRY:  She's a lady, she is, an' she makes you two look small.

RACHEL:  Well, Harry, you can think what you like about me: and you
always have thought me as bad as you could imagine.  But I only did
it to help Susy--and all I've done I've done with you sleering at
me.  An' I shan't marry Job Arthur; I s'll go in service in Derby.
An' you needn't sleer at me no more--because it's your fault, even
more than mine.

HARRY:  A' right, ma'e it my fault.

RACHEL:  As much as mine, I said.

HARRY:  Dunna let me stop thee from ha'ein' Job Arthur.

RACHEL:  Job Arthur's a man as can play his own tune on any mortal
woman, brazen as brass, or cuddlin' as a fiddle--

HARRY:  Or as ronk as an old mouth organ.

RACHEL:  Or like a bagpipe as wants squeezin', or a mandolin as
wants tickling.  He gets a tune out of the whole job lot, the whole
band--

HARRY:  Shut up.

RACHEL:  But I'll buy you a cuckoo-clock to keep you company.

HARRY:  I'll buy my own.

RACHEL (flapping her arms suddenly at him):  Cuckoo!  Cuckoo!
Cuckoo!


CURTAIN



ACT V


SCENE I


The Sunday following the last scene.  The porch of Grunstom Church.
The HEMSTOCKS have attended the post-funeral service.  Mourners are
leaving the church.


1ST MOURNER:  Well, I niver knowed the likes--

2ND MOURNER:  What?

1ST MOURNER:  Nurse Broadbanks to be axed wi' old Hezekiah Wilcox,
an' Job Arthur Bowers wi' Rachel Wilcox.

3RD MOURNER:  An' what about it?

1ST MOURNER:  Well, I never thought Nurse would have him an'
everybody said Job Arthur would never marry now.

2ND MOURNER:  I'm not surprised at neither of 'em.

1ST MOURNER:  I was never more taken in in my life.

Exit 1ST and 2ND MOURNERS.

SUSY:  No.

3RD MOURNER:  I don't call it decent--two sets of banns put up at a
funeral Sunday.  They might ha' waited till next week.

SUSY:  I'm going to see about this.

3RD MOURNER:  Yes, th' old Baron wants telling, the old nuisance,
for he's nothing else.

Exit SUSY and 3RD MOURNER.

4TH MOURNER (sighing):  That did me good.  I'm sure I've fair cried
my eyes up.

5TH MOURNER:  You can't make out half the old Baron says, but he
makes you feel funny.

4TH MOURNER:  As if you'd got ghosts in your bowels.  An' when he
said--what was it?

5TH MOURNER:  Was it Hezekiah Wilcox wi' Nurse Broadbanks?

4TH MOURNER:  Yes--fancy 'em both bein' there to hear it.  What a
come-down for her.

5TH MOURNER:  I dunno.  The old chap's tidy well off--

4TH MOURNER:  But he's mushy--he slavers like a slobbering spaniel--

5TH MOURNER:  Well, women like that sort.

Exit 4TH and 5TH MOURNERS.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I allers thought 'er'd a worn widow's weeds for me--

HARRY:  Dost wish it wor that road about?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Nay, I non know--

HARRY:  Are ter stoppin'?

MR HEMSTOCK:  I want ter speak ter Nurse.

HARRY:  I'm goin' then.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Dunna thee--tha wait a bit.

HARRY:  Nay.

Exit HARRY.

BAKER (in very genteel black):  Good morning, Mr Hemstock.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Good morning.

BAKER:  We got more than we bargained for.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Yes, a bit surprisin'.

BAKER:  I'm going to strike--Nurse for a mother-in-law is too much
for a good thing.  Why, bless me, you want to be careful what
relatives you have--some you can't help--but a mother-in-law, you
can.

MR HEMSTOCK:  I want to speak to Nurse.

MR WILCOX (frock-coated):  You've 'ad a big loss, Mr Hemstock--I've
been through it myself, so I know what it is.

BAKER:  Here, I say, Hezekiah--I don't mind you for a father-in-law--

MR WILCOX:  Hello, Job Arthur!  Well, I never!  I am surprised, I
can tell you.

BAKER:  So'm I.

MR WILCOX:  But it's a glad surprise--I'd rather say "My son" to
you, Job Arthur--

BAKER:  Hold on a bit, Hezekiah; you've always stood me as a good
uncle, let's leave it at that.

MR WILCOX:  I'll make you a wedding present of it, Job Arthur--that
little thing, you know.

BAKER:  I do, worse luck!  I've pledged my soul and my honour to
you, uncle, my uncle on the pop-shop side, but my body's my ewe
lamb--I don't sell.  Good morning, Dr Foules.

DR FOULES:  Good morning.  Er--excuse me--but Nurse Broadbanks has
not gone yet?

BAKER:  Not yet, Doctor.  Here's her husband-that-is-to-be waiting
for her.

DR FOULES:  Ha!

MR WILCOX:  Nurse has not gone yet, Doctor.

DR FOULES:  Thank you.

BAKER:  Let's have a look!  (He peeps into the church.)  Oh--oh
Baron, may I speak to you?

Enter BARON, in surplice, with BARONESS and NURSE.

BARON:  And you, what have you to say?

BAKER:  Not much.  Only there's a bit of an alteration wants
makin'.  Rachel's given me the sack.

BARON:  I do not understand, sir.

BARONESS:  He wishes to escape from his promise.  He wishes to
dodge Rachel.

BARON:  You, sir, have you not given your word?

BAKER:  And you're welcome keep it, for what it's worth.  But you
can't cork a woman's promise, Baroness.  In short, Baron--and Mr
Wilcox--Rachel has asked to be released from her engagement--hem!--
with me--and I have felt it my duty to release her.  (He bows.)

BARON:  It is an indignity to the Church.  It is insult to the Holy
Church.

BARONESS:  I do not believe this man.  It is his ruse to escape
from a bond.

MR WILCOX:  Yes, my lady, that's what it is--my poor girl--Nurse!
Nurse?

NURSE:  Let Rachel come herself.

BARONESS:  She shall.

BARON (to MR HEMSTOCK):  Go and bring Rachel here.

MR HEMSTOCK (shrugging):  Where am I to go?

NURSE:  Please, Mr Hemstock.

He goes.

BARON:  Sir, I believe you are a scoundrel.

BAKER:  I wouldn't deny it, Baron.

MR WILCOX:  No--we know him too well--he'd better not begin
denyin'.

NURSE:  This is the man, Baron--the--the--the WILCOX.

BARON:  What!  What!

BARONESS:  What do you mean, you old wicked man, insulting Nurse in
this fashion?

BARON:  You--YOU--you, SIR!  If you speak I will cut you down.  The
double shame, the double blasphemy!  Ah!  Leave from my sight--go--
don't stir, sir, till you answer.

DR FOULES:  May I ask, Nurse, if I am to congratulate you on your
banns?

NURSE:  I should think you have no need to ask.  I am ready to die.
I am so mortified and ashamed.

BAKER:  Hello--I am only the mote in the eye of the Church, am I?
Oh uncle, uncle!

DR FOULES:  Then it is a mistake?

NURSE:  Worse.  It is a mean, base contrivance to trap me.  I knew
nothing of these banns--I could have dropped.  He knows I wouldn't
marry him--no, not if--not if--

BAKER:  You died in a ditch with your shoes on.  I'm undone this
time, curse it.  Uncle, have a pound of flesh, will you, instead?
I could spare a pound and a half, cut judiciously.

BARON:  What do you say, sir?

BAKER:  I'm inviting him to have his pound of flesh, instead of his
two hundred pounds of money.  Though it's dear meat, I own.

NURSE:  What do you mean, Mr Bowers?

BAKER:  I owe him £180, and he'll foreclose on our house in a
couple of months.  Then goodbye my bakery, and they cart my old
mother to a lunatic asylum, though she's no more mad than I am.

BARONESS:  And what have you done with the money?

BAKER:  Paid some of my debts, Baroness--and some of it I have--as
it were, eaten.  So in a pound of flesh he'd get his money
glorified.

BARON:  What do you say, sir?

MR WILCOX:  I say nothing.


CURTAIN



SCENE II


The vicarage garden wall, under which runs the path.  RACHEL looks
over the wall; enter HARRY.


RACHEL:  All by yourself?  Where's the others?

HARRY:  Stopping.

RACHEL:  Did they give my father's banns out?

HARRY:  His'n an' thine.

RACHEL:  What!  Mine!  Why, I told Job Arthur as I wouldn't have
him.

HARRY:  'Appen so.

RACHEL:  I did.  An' he's never told the Baron.  Whatever shall I
do?

HARRY:  What?

RACHEL:  You don't believe as I told him.

HARRY:  I believe nowt.

RACHEL:  But I did, an' he's agreed.  And did they ask my father
and Nurse?

HARRY:  Yes.

RACHEL:  Oh--but I shan't have him--I shan't.  The Baron'll give it
me--but I shan't have him.  You needn't believe me, if you don't
want to.

HARRY:  When did ter tell Job Arthur?

RACHEL:  Yesterday.  An' he was glad.  He doesn't really care for
me.

HARRY:  Are ter having me on?

RACHEL:  May I be struck dead this minute if I am.

HARRY:  An' what shall ter do?

RACHEL:  I don't know--go to Derby.  Perhaps I'll learn to be a
nurse.

HARRY:  She's marryin' thy father.

RACHEL (melting into tears):  Don't--tha's hurt me enough.
(Dashing away her tears.)  Well, I must go in and see to the
dinner.  Then I'll tell the Baron, and have my head bitten off.
(She turns to go.)

HARRY:  Are ter sure tha told Job Arthur?

RACHEL:  Go and ask him.

HARRY:  There's no tellin' what tha does.

RACHEL:  No--there isn't--for the simple reason that I've built my
house on the sand.

HARRY:  How dost mean?

RACHEL:  You know right enough.  Well, I'll go an' warm th' rice
pudding up.

HARRY:  Rachel--dost care for me?

RACHEL:  You'll make me wild in a minute.

HARRY:  Rachel--dunna go--it's that lonely.

RACHEL:  I s'll have to go and put that pudding in.

HARRY:  Come down here first--a minute.

RACHEL:  Come you up here.

HARRY (climbing up):  Rachel.

RACHEL:  What?

HARRY:  It seems that quiet-like--dunna go an' leave me.  I go
rummagin' down i' the loose ground, to look at th' coffin.

RACHEL:  Do you?

HARRY:  I do.  I feel as if I should have to get at her an' mak'
her speak.  I canna stand this dead o'night quiet.

RACHEL:  No.

HARRY:  Comin' out of church into this sunshine's like goin' in a
cinematograph show.  Things jumps about in a flare of light, an'
you expect it every minute to go out an' be pitch dark.  All the
shoutin' an' singin', an' yet there's a sort of quiet, Rachel.

RACHEL:  Never mind--it will be so for a bit.

HARRY:  I canna be by myself, though, I canna.

RACHEL:  There are plenty of people.

HARRY:  Nay, I non want 'em.

RACHEL:  Only Nurse.

HARRY:  Nor her neither--never.

RACHEL:  'Appen so.

HARRY:  Tha doesna believe me?

RACHEL:  "I believe nowt."

HARRY:  I wish I may drop dead this minute if I ever did care for
her.

RACHEL (smiling):  You THOUGHT you did?

HARRY:  'Appen I did think so.

RACHEL:  I know you did.

HARRY:  But 'er knows nowt about me, like thee.

RACHEL:  No.

HARRY:  Shall ter ha'e me, Rachel?

RACHEL:  You want me?

HARRY:  Let us be married afore the week's out, Rachel.  Dunna
leave me by mysen.

RACHEL:  Are you in a hurry now, at the last pinch?

HARRY:  Shall ter, Rachel?

RACHEL:  Yes.  (He kisses her.)

MR HEMSTOCK (entering):  I should ha thought you'd more about you
than to be kissin' there where everybody can see you--an' to-day.

RACHEL:  There's nobody but you.

MR HEMSTOCK:  You don't know who there is.

RACHEL:  And I don't care.  We're going to be married directly.

MR HEMSTOCK:  It'll look nice, that will--his mother buried
yesterday.

HARRY:  It ma'es no difference to her, does it?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Tha'rt a fawce un, Rachel.  Tha's contrived it, after
a'.  Tha'rt a fawce un, an' no mistake.  But tha's got to come to
the Baron.

RACHEL:  What for?

MR HEMSTOCK:  Nay, dunna ask me.  Tha'd better look sharp.  Ma'e
thy heels crack.

RACHEL.  What's up now, I wonder?

They go out.


CURTAIN



SCENE III


The church porch.


BARON:  Do not speak, sir.  You have vilified me, you have held up
the Church to ridicule.

MR WILCOX:  I can speak, can't I?

BARON:  Do not speak, you shall not, do not speak.  We will not
hear your voice.  You are a blasphemer.

MR WILCOX:  I can't see but what a Methodist's as good as a Church,
whatever.  What have I done, what have I done?

BARONESS:  What have you done!

MR WILCOX:  Whatever anybody says, there's nobody can say I've
never done anything as wan't right.

BARON:  What, sir, what--

BAKER:  Here's Rachel.

SUSY:  I'll bet it's her doin's.  She's the deepest I ever met, bar
none.

BARON:  Rachel?

RACHEL:  Yes, Baron.

BARON:  Who wrote to see the letter of the banns for your father
and Nurse?

MR WILCOX:  I did.

BARON:  Scoundrel!  Impostor!

NURSE:  You had not the slightest justification for it.

DR FOULES:  Surely, Nurse, you are flattered.  A woman loves a
peremptory wooing.

MR WILCOX:  You accepted me on Friday night, Nurse, you know you
did.

NURSE:  I did no such thing.

BAKER:  Now, Rachel, speak up.  I say you've refused me--

RACHEL:  So I have.

BAKER:  Of course.  And I forgot to take the banns back.

RACHEL:  That's your lookout.

BARON:  Rachel!  Ah, insolent!

BAKER:  Now, my case settled--did Nurse accept your father?  Of
course not.

RACHEL:  She did.

MR WILCOX:  There you are.

NURSE:  I did not.  I would not demean myself.  I did not.

BARONESS:  This is very funny, Nurse.

BARON:  I have spoken the banns.

MR WILCOX:  Come now, Nurse.

NURSE:  You horrid, hateful old man.  You know you worked yourself
into a state, I thought you were delirious, and I had to promise
anything.

MR WILCOX:  A promise is a promise.

SUSY:  Of all the deep-uns, Rachel, you cap all.

RACHEL:  What's it to do with me?

NURSE:  You pestered and pestered and pestered me.

DR FOULES:  All's fair in love and war, Nurse.

BARON:  What were the exact words?

RACHEL:  "Yes, yes.  I'll marry you--if you'll settle down now and
go to sleep."

NURSE:  Why!  What!  You are an underhand thing.

RACHEL:  What if I did happen to hear?

NURSE:  You were listening!

RACHEL:  I could hear it all.

NURSE:  How hateful, how hateful!

BARON:  I do not understand--explain.

NURSE:  He was shamming--

MR WILCOX:  She's had me on a string--

RACHEL:  She's sniffed at him for months, wondering whether or not
to lick him up.

DR FOULES:  The debatable tit-bit.

BARON:  I will understand this matter.  Speak, Nurse.

NURSE:  He shammed fever, delirium--and to comfort him, to soothe
him, I said I would marry him.  I thought he was raving.  And I
would not marry him--I'd rather beg in the streets.

MR WILCOX:  Oh, but Nurse, Nurse, look here.

BARON:  Silence, sir, silence.  You are a base, malingering
pulamiting wretch.

RACHEL:  Well, she came to see him often enough, and stopped long
enough--

BARONESS:  You cannot, Baron, blame the man for everything.

DR FOULES:  A man who was delirious in fever on Friday night would
hardly be disporting himself at church on Sunday morning--

MR WILCOX:  I'm not disporting myself.

BARONESS:  I don't know.  It's not much, and there are still
miracles.

DR FOULES:  Surely miracles are not wasted on--Methodists,
Baroness?

BARONESS:  I do not know--I do not know.  Rachel, did you put the
pudding to warm?

RACHEL:  Yes'm.

BARONESS:  Then it's burnt to a cinder.

BARON:  You, sir, you Wilcox, are a base scoundrel.

MR WILCOX:  She shall pay for this.

NURSE:  I must have it contradicted--I must.

BAKER:  I will contradict it, Nurse.

DR FOULES:  And I.

MR HEMSTOCK:  And me.

HARRY:  An' me.

BARONESS:  But I'm not so sure--

BARON:  Enough, enough.  I am again a disgrace and a laughing
stock.  You, sir, you Wilcox--

MR WILCOX:  What, Baron von Ruge?

BARON:  You--you--you are a scoundrel.

BAKER:  It's old news.

BARON:  I withdraw and refute these double banns next Sunday.

MR WILCOX:  Not with my consent.

BARON:  Do not speak.  And in the public paper must be refutation.

NURSE:  Oh, isn't it dreadful!

SUSY:  Folks shouldn't shilly-shally.

BARON:  And then--I have done.

DR FOULES:  Perhaps you can say there was a mistake.  Substitute my
name for that of Mr Wilcox.

BAKER:  All's fair in love and war.  Substitute Mrs Smalley's name
for Rachel's.

RACHEL:  A change for the better is always welcome.  Substitute
Harry Hemstock for Job Arthur Bowers.

BARON:  This is madness and insult.

DR FOULES:  It is deadly earnest, Baron.  Nurse, will you be asked
in church with me next Sunday?

BAKER:  Susy, will you be asked in church with me next Sunday?

HARRY:  Rachel, shall you be axed in church with me next Sunday?

BARON:  Enough, enough!  Go away, I will suffer no more of this!

BARONESS:  Such wicked frivolity!  Rachel, go home at once to see
to that pudding.

DR FOULES:  We are most deeply serious, Nurse, are we not?

BAKER:  Susy, are we not?

HARRY:  Rachel, are we not?

RACHEL:  Chorus of ladies, "Yes"!

NURSE AND SUSY:  Chorus of ladies, "Yes"!

DR FOULES:  Millicent Broadbanks--Arthur William Foules.

BAKER:  Job Arthur Bowers--Susan Smalley, née Hemstock, widow.

HARRY:  Rachel Wilcox--Harry Hemstock.

BARON:  Away!  Away!

DR FOULES:  Baron, you should play Duke to our "As You Like It".

BARON:  I do not like it, I will not.

SUSY:  Then lump it.

MR WILCOX:  I call it scandalous, going on like this.

RACHEL:  Like it or lump it, Father, like it or lump it.

DR FOULES:  You accept me, Nurse?

NURSE:  I do, Doctor.  (He kisses her hand.)

BAKER:  You accept me, Susan?

SUSY:  This once, Job Arthur.  (He kisses her cheek.)

RACHEL (after a moment):  Come on here, Harry.  (They kiss on the
mouth.)

BARON:  Go away from here.  You shall not pollute my church.

BARONESS:  It is disgraceful.

MR WILCOX:  They want horsewhipping, every one of them.

MR HEMSTOCK:  Well--I must say--

DR FOULES:  It's "As You Like It".

BAKER:  It's "As You LUMP It", Hezekiah.


CURTAIN



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The Merry-go-round by D H Lawrence





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