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- Six Plays - 3/62 -

MILLIE. And so have I, Father.

DANIEL. And 'tis "yes" as you must say to young Andrew when he do come a-courting of you this night.

MILLIE. That I'll never say, Father. I don't want cloaks nor bonnets, nor my heart moved by gifts, or tears brought to my eyes by fair words. I'll not wed unless I can give my love along with my hand. And 'tis not to Andrew I can give that, as you know.

DANIEL. And to whom should a maid give her heart if 'twasn't to Andrew? A finer lad never trod in a pair of shoes. I'll be blest if I do know what the wenches be a-coming to.

ELIZABETH. There, Father, I told you what to expect.

DANIEL. But 'tis master as I'll be, hark you, Mother, hark you, Mill. And 'tis "Yes" as you have got to fit your tongue out with my girl, afore 'tis dark. [Rising.] I be a'going off to the yard, but, Mother, her'll know what to say to you, her will.

MILLIE. Dad, do you stop and shew me the inside of my packet. Let us put Andrew aside and be happy--do!

DANIEL. Ah, I've got other things as is waiting to be done nor breaking in a tricksome filly to run atween the shafts. 'Tis fitter work for females, and so 'tis.

ELIZABETH. And so I told you, Father, from the start.

MILLIE. And 'tis "No" that I shall say.


ACT I.--Scene 2.

It is dusk on the same evening.

MILLIE is standing by the table folding up the silken cloak. ANNET sits watching her, on her knees lies a open parcel disclosing a woollen shawl. In a far corner of the room MAY is seated on a stool making a daisy chain.

ANNET. 'Twas very good of Uncle to bring me this nice shawl, Millie.

MILLIE. You should have had a cloak like mine, Annet, by rights.

ANNET. I'm not going to get married, Millie.

MILLIE. [Sitting down with a sudden movement of despondence and stretching her arms across the table.] O don't you speak to me of that, Annet. 'Tis more than I can bear to-night.

ANNET. But, Millie, he's coming for your answer now. You musn't let him find you looking so.

MILLIE. My face shall look as my heart feels. And that is all sorrow, Annet.

ANNET. Can't you bring yourself round to fancy Andrew, Millie?

MILLIE. No, that I cannot, Annet, I've tried a score of times, I have--but there it is--I cannot.

ANNET. Is it that you've not forgotten Giles, then?

MILLIE. I never shall forget him, Annet. Why, 'tis a five year this day since father sent him off to foreign parts, and never a moment of all that time has my heart not remembered him.

ANNET. I feared 'twas so with you, Millie.

MILLIE. O I've laid awake of nights and my tears have wetted the pillow all over so that I've had to turn it t'other side up.

ANNET. And Giles has never written to you, nor sent a sign nor nothing?

MILLIE. Your brother Giles was never very grand with the pen, Annet. But, O, he's none the worse for that.

ANNET. Millie, I never cared for to question you, but how was it when you and he did part, one with t'other?

MILLIE. I did give him my ring, Annet--secret like--when we were walking in the wood.

ANNET. What, the one with the white stones to it?

MILLIE. Yes, grandmother's ring, that she left me. And I did say to him--if ever I do turn false to you and am like to wed another, Giles--look you at these white stones.

ANNET. Seven of them, there were, Millie.

MILLIE. And the day that I am like to wed another, Giles, I said to him, the stones shall darken. But you'll never see that day. [She begins to cry.

ANNET. Don't you give way, Millie, for, look you, 'tis very likely that Giles has forgotten you for all his fine words, and Andrew,-- well, Andrew he's as grand a suitor as ever maid had. And 'tis Andrew you have got to wed, you know.

MILLIE. Andrew, Andrew--I'm sick at the very name of him.

ANNET. See the fine house you'll live in. Think on the grand parlour that you'll sit in all the day with a servant to wait on you and naught but Sunday clothes on your back.

MILLIE. I'd sooner go in rags with Giles at the side of me.

ANNET. Come, you must hearten up. Andrew will soon be here. And Uncle says that you have got to give him his answer to-night for good and all.

MILLIE. O I cannot see him--I'm wearied to death of Andrew, and that's the very truth it is.

ANNET. O Millie--I wonder how 'twould feel to be you for half-an- hour and to have such a fine suitor coming to me and asking for me to say Yes.

MILLIE. O I wish 'twas you and not me that he was after, Annet.

ANNET. 'Tisn't likely that anyone such as Master Andrew will ever come courting a poor girl like me, Millie. But I'd dearly love to know how 'twould feel.

[MILLIE raises her head and looks at her cousin for a few minutes in silence, then her face brightens.

MILLIE. Then you shall, Annet.

ANNET. Shall what, Mill?

MILLIE. Know how it feels. Look here--'Tis sick to death I am with courting, when 'tis from the wrong quarter, and if I'm to wed Andrew come next month, I'll not be tormented with him before that time,--so 'tis you that shall stop and talk with him this evening, Annet, and I'll slip out to the woods and gather flowers.

ANNET. How wild and unlikely you do talk, Mill.

MILLIE. In the dusk he'll never know that 'tisn't me. Being cousins, we speak after the same fashion, and in the shape of us there's not much that's amiss.

ANNET. But in the clothing of us, Mill--why, 'tis a grand young lady that you look--whilst I -

MILLIE. [Taking up the silken cloak.] Here--put this over your gown, Annet.

ANNET. [Standing up.] I don't mind just trying it on, like.

MILLIE. [Fastening it.] There--and now the bonnet, with the veil pulled over the face.

[She ties the bonnet and arranges the veil on ANNET.

MILLIE. [Standing back and surveying her cousin.] There, Annet, there May, who is to tell which of us 'tis?

MAY. [Coming forward.] O I should never know that 'twasn't you, Cousin Mill.

MILLIE. And I could well mistake her for myself too, so listen, Annet. 'Tis you that shall talk with Master Andrew when he comes to- night. And 'tis you that shall give him my answer. I'll not burn my lips by speaking the word he asks of me.

ANNET. O Mill--I cannot--no I cannot.

MILLIE. Don't let him have it very easily, Annet. Set him a ditch or two to jump before he gets there. And let the thorns prick him a bit before he gathers the flower. You know my way with him.

MAY. And I know it too, Millie--Why, your tongue, 'tis very near as sharp as when Aunt do speak.

ANNET. O Millie, take off these things--I cannot do it, that's the truth.

MAY. [Looking out through the door.] There's Andrew a-coming over the mill yard.

MILLIE. Here, sit down, Annet, with the back of you to the light.

[She pushes ANNET into a chair beneath the window.

MAY. Can I get into the cupboard and listen to it, Cousin Mill?

MILLIE. If you promise to bide quiet and to say naught of it afterwards.

Six Plays - 3/62

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