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- Six Plays - 10/62 -


my head or upon my heels, and that's the truth 'tis.

GEORGE. Ah, and that I can well understand, master, for I'm a married man myself, and my woman has a tongue to her head very similar to that of th' old missis yonder--so I know what 'tis.

ELIZABETH. Put them both out of the door, Father, do you hear me? 'Tis to the cider as they've been getting. That's clear.

MILLIE. My good friends, what is it that you carry in those bundles there?

GEORGE. 'Tis gold in mine.

JOHN. And silver here.

ELIZABETH. Depend upon it 'tis two wicked thieves we have got among us, flying from justice.

MILLIE. No, no--did not you hear them say, their master is Giles.

GEORGE. And a better master never trod the earth.

JOHN. And a finer or a richer gentleman I never want to see.

ELIZABETH. Do you hear that, Father? O you shocking liars--'tis stolen goods that you've been and brought to our innocent house this day. But, Father, do you up and fetch in the constable, do you hear?

MAY. O I'll run. I shall love to see them going off to gaol.

MILLIE. Be quiet, May. Can't you all see how 'tis. Giles has done the cruel hard task set him by Father--and is back again with the bushel of silver and that of gold to claim my hand. [GILES enters.] But Giles--I'd have given it to you had you come to me poor and forlorn and ragged, for my love has never wandered from you in all this long time.

ANDREW. No, Giles--and that it has not. Millie has never given me one kind word nor one gentle look all the years that I've been courting of her, and that's the truth. And you can call witness to it if you care.

GILES. Uncle, Aunt, I've done the task you set me years ago--and now I claim my reward. I went from this house a poor wretch, with nothing but the hopeless love in my heart to feed and sustain me. I have returned with all that the world can give me of riches and prosperity. Will you now let me be the husband of your daughter?

MILLIE. O say ye, Uncle, for look how fine and grand he is in his coat--and the bags are stuffed full to the brim and 'tis with gold and silver.

ELIZABETH. Well--'tis a respectabler end than I thought as you'd come to, Giles. And different nor what you deserved.

DANIEL. Come, come, Mother.--The fewer words to this, the better. Giles, my boy--get you into the trap and take her along to the church and drive smart.

ANDREW. Annet--will you come there with me too?

ANNET. O Andrew--what are you saying?

DANIEL. Come, come. Where's the wind blowing from now? Here, Mother, do you listen to this.

ELIZABETH. I shall be deaf before I've done, but it appears to me that Annet's not lost any time in making the most of her chances.

DANIEL. Ah, and she be none the worse for that. 'Tis what we all likes to do. Where'd I be in the market if I did let my chances blow by me? Hear that, Andrew?

ANDREW. I'm a rare lucky man this day, farmer.

DANIEL. Ah, and 'tis a rare good little wench, Annet--though she bain't so showy as our'n. A rare good little maid. And now 'tis time we was all off to church, seeing as this is to be a case of double harness like.

MAY. O Annet, you can't be wed in that plain gown.

ANNET. May, I'm so happy that I feel as though I were clothed all over with jewels.

ANDREW. Give me your hand, Annet.

MAY. [Mockingly.] Millie--don't you want to give a drink of water to yon poor old man?

MILLIE. That I will, May? Here--fetch me something that's better than water for him.

ELIZABETH. I'll have no cider drinking out of meal times here.

MILLIE. Then 'twill I have to be when we come back from church.

OLD MAN. Bless you, my pretty lady, but I be used to waiting. I'll just sit me down outside in the sun till you be man and wife.

ELIZABETH. And that'll not be till this day next year if this sort of thing goes on any longer.

DANIEL. That's right, Mother. You take and lead the way. 'Tis the womenfolk as do keep we back from everything. But I knows how to settle with they--[roaring]--come Mill, come Giles, Andrew, Annet, May. Come Mother, out of th' house with all of you and to church, I say.

[He gets behind them all and drives them before him and out of the room. When they have gone, the OLD MAN sinks on a bench in the door- way.

OLD MAN. I'm done with all the foolishness of life and I can sit me down and sleep till it be time to eat.

[Curtain.]

BUSHES AND BRIARS

CHARACTERS

THOMAS SPRING, a farmer, aged 35. EMILY, his wife, the same age. CLARA, his sister, aged 21. JESSIE AND ROBIN, the children of Thomas and Emily, aged 10 and 8. JOAN, maid to Clara. MILES HOOPER, a rich draper. LUKE JENNER, a farmer. LORD LOVEL. GEORGE, aged 28.

ACT I.--Scene 1.

A wood. It is a morning in June.

GEORGE, carrying an empty basket, comes slowly through the wood. On reaching a fallen tree he sits down on it, placing his basket on the ground. With his stick he absently moves the grass and leaves that lie before him, and is so deeply lost in his own thoughts that he does not hear the approach of MILES and LUKE until they are by his side.

MILES. Here's the very man to tell us all we want to know.

LUKE. Why, if 'tisn't George from Ox Lease.

[GEORGE half rises.

MILES. No, sit you down again, my lad, and we'll rest awhile by the side of you.

LUKE. That's it, Miles. Nothing couldn't have fallen out better for us, I'm thinking.

MILES. You're about right, Luke. Now, George, my man, we should very much appreciate a few words with you.

GEORGE. [Taking up his basket.] Morning baint the time for words, masters. I count as words will keep till the set of sun. 'Tis otherwise with work.

MILES. Work, why, George, 'tis clear you are come out but to gather flowers this morning.

LUKE. 'Tis the very first time as ever I caught George an idling away of his time like this.

GEORGE. 'Tis over to Brook as I be going, masters, to fetch back a couple of young chicken. Ourn be mostly old fowls, or pullets what do lay.

LUKE. I never heard tell of young chicken being ate up at Ox Lease afore July was in.

GEORGE. Nor me neither, master. Never heared nor seed such a thing. But mistress, her says, you can't sit a maid from town at table unless there be poultry afore of she. They be rare nesh in their feeding, maids from town, so mistress do say.

MILES. That just brings us to our little matter, George. When is it that you expect the young lady?

GEORGE. The boxes of they be stacked mountains high in the bedroom since yesterday. And I count as the maids will presently come on their own feet from where the morning coach do set them down.

LUKE. Nay, but there's only one maid what's expected.


Six Plays - 10/62

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