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- Six Plays - 2/62 -

a good two yards of ground; just as it might be, standing.

ELIZABETH. Come, Father.

DANIEL. And the horns upon the head of he did reach out very nigh as far as might do the sails of one of they old wind-mills.

MAY. O Uncle, and how was it with the wool of him?

DANIEL. The wool, my wench, did stand a good three foot from all around of the animal. You might have set a hen with her eggs on top of it--and that you might. And now I comes to recollect how 'twas, you could have set a hen one side of the wool and a turkey t'other.

MAY. O Uncle, that must have been a beautiful animal! And what was the tail of it?

DANIEL. The tail, my little maid? Why 'twas longer nor my arm and as thick again--'twould have served as a bell rope to the great bell yonder in Gloucester church--and so 'twould. Ah, 'twas sommat like a tail, I reckon, yon.

ELIZABETH. Come, Father, such talk is hardly suited to little girls, who should know better than to ask so many teasing questions.

ANNET. 'Tisn't only May, Aunt, I do love to hear what uncle tells, when he has been out for a day or two.

ELIZABETH. And did you have company on the way home, Father?

DANIEL. That I did. 'Twas along of young Andrew as I did come back.

ELIZABETH. Along of Andrew? Girls, you may now go outside into the garden for a while. Yes, put aside your work.

MAY. Can't we stop till the packets are opened?

ELIZABETH. You heard what I said? Go off into the garden, and stop there till I send for you. And take uncle's glass and wash it at the spout as you go.

ANNET. [Taking the glass.] I'll wash it, Aunt. Come May, you see aunt doesn't want us any longer.

MAY. Now they're going to talk secrets together. O I should dearly love to hear the secrets of grown-up people. [ANNET and MAY go out together.

DANIEL. Annet be got a fine big wench, upon my word. Now haven't her, Mother?

ELIZABETH. She's got old enough to be put to service, and if I'd have had my way, 'tis to service she'd have gone this long time since, and that it is.

DANIEL. 'Twould be poor work putting one of dead sister's wenches out to service, so long as us have a roof over the heads of we and plenty to eat on the table.

ELIZABETH. Well, you must please yourself about it Father, as you do most times. But 'tis uncertain work taking up with other folks children as I told you from the first. See what a lot of trouble you and me have had along of Giles.

DANIEL. Giles be safe enough in them foreign parts where I did send him. You've no need to trouble your head about he, Mother--unless 'tis a letter as he may have got sending to Mill.

ELIZABETH. No, Father, Giles has never sent a letter since the day he left home. But very often there is no need for letters to keep remembrance green. 'Tis a plant what thrives best on a soil that is bare.

DANIEL. Well, Mother, and what be you a-driving at? I warrant as Mill have got over them notions as she did have once. And, look you here, 'twas with young Andrew as I did journey back from the Fair. And he be a-coming up presently for to get his answer.

ELIZABETH. All I say is that I hope he may get it then.

DANIEL. Ah, I reckon as 'tis rare put about as he have been all this long while, and never a downright "yes" to what he do ask.

[MAY comes softly in and hides behind the door.

ELIZABETH. Well, that's not my fault, Father.

DANIEL. But her'll have to change her note this day, that her'll have. For I've spoke for she, and 'tis for next month as I've pitched the wedding day.

ELIZABETH. And you may pitch, Father. You may lead the mare down to the pond, but she'll not drink if she hasn't the mind to. You know what Millie is. 'Tisn't from my side that she gets it either.

DANIEL. And 'tain't from me. I be all for easy going and each one to his self like.

ELIZABETH. Yes, there you are, Father.

DANIEL. But I reckon as the little maid will hearken to what I says. Her was always a wonderful good little maid to her dad. And her did always know, that when her dad did set his foot down, well, there 'twas. 'Twas down.

ELIZABETH. Well, if you think you can shew her that, Father, 'tis a fortunate job on all sides.

[They suddenly see MAY who has been quiet behind the door.

ELIZABETH. May, what are you a-doing here I should like to know? Didn't I send you out into the garden along of your sister?

MAY. Yes, Auntie, but I've comed back.

ELIZABETH. Then you can be off again, and shut the door this time, do your hear?

DANIEL. That's it, my little maid. Run along--and look you, May, just you tell Cousin Millie as we wants her in here straight away. And who knows bye and bye whether there won't be sommat in yon great parcel for a good little wench.

MAY. O Uncle--I'd like to see it now.

DANIEL. Nay, nay--this is not a suitable time--Aunt and me has business what's got to be settled like. Nay--'tis later on as the packets is to be opened.

ELIZABETH. Get along off, you tiresome child.--One word might do for some, but it takes twenty to get you to move.--Run along now, do you hear me?

[MAY goes.

Well, Father, I've done my share with Millie and she don't take a bit of notice of what I say. So now it's your turn.

DANIEL. Ah, I count 'tis more man's work, this here, so 'tis. There be things which belongs to females and there be others which do not. You get and leave it all to me. I'll bring it off.

ELIZABETH. All right, Father, just you try your way--I'll have nothing more to do with it. [MILLIE comes in.]

MILLIE. Why, Father, you're back early from the Fair.

DANIEL. That's so, my wench. See that package over yonder?

MILLIE. O, that I do, Father.

DANIEL. Yon great one's for you, Mill.

MILLIE. O Father, what's inside it?

DANIEL. 'Tis a new, smart bonnet, my wench.

MILLIE. For me, Father?

DANIEL. Ah--who else should it be for, Mill?

MILLIE. O Father, you are good to me.

DANIEL. And a silk cloak as well.

MILLIE. A silken cloak, and a bonnet--O Father, 'tis too much for you to give me all at once, like.

DANIEL. Young Andrew did help me with the choice, and 'tis all to be worn on this day month, my girl.

MILLIE. Why, Father, what's to happen then?

DANIEL. 'Tis for you to go along to church in, Mill.

MILLIE. To church, Father?

DANIEL. Ah, that 'tis--you in the cloak and bonnet, and upon the arm of young Andrew, my wench.

MILLIE. O no, Father.

DANIEL. But 'tis "yes" as you have got to learn, my wench. And quickly too. For 'tis this very evening as Andrew be coming for his answer. And 'tis to be "yes" this time.

MILLIE. O no, Father.

DANIEL. You've an hour before you, my wench, in which to get another word to your tongue.

MILLIE. I can't learn any word that isn't "no," Father.

DANIEL. Look at me, my wench. My foot be down. I means what I says--

MILLIE. And I mean what I say, too, Father. And I say, No!

DANIEL. Millie, I've set down my foot.

Six Plays - 2/62

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