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- Six Plays - 4/62 -

MAY. O I promise, I promise--I'll just leave a crack of the door open for to hear well.

[MAY gets into the cupboard. MILLIE takes up ANNET'S new shawl and puts it all over her.

MILLIE. No one will think that 'tisn't you, in the dusk.

ANNET. O Millie, what is it that you've got me to do?

MILLIE. Never you mind, Annet--you shall see what 'tis to have a grand suitor and I shall get a little while of quiet out yonder, where I can think on Giles.

[She runs out of the door just as ANDREW comes up. ANDREW knocks and then enters the open door.

ANDREW. Where's Annet off to in such a hurry?

ANNET. [Very faintly.] I'm sure I don't know. [ANDREW lays aside his hat and comes up to the window. He stands before ANNET looking down on her. She becomes restless under his gaze, and at last signs to him to sit down.

ANDREW. [Sitting down on a chair a little way from her.] The Master said that I might come along to-night, Millie--Otherwise--[ANNET is still silent.

Otherwise I shouldn't have dared do so.

[ANNET sits nervously twisting the ribbons of her cloak.

The Master said, as how may be, your feeling for me, Millie, might be changed like. [ANNET is still silent.

And that if I was to ask you once more, very likely 'twould be something different as you might say.

[A long silence.

Was I wrong in coming, Millie?

ANNET. [Faintly.] 'Twould have been better had you stayed away like.

ANDREW. Then there isn't any change in your feelings towards me, Millie?

ANNET. O, there's a sort of a change, Andrew.

ANDREW. [Slowly.] O Mill, that's good hearing. What sort of a change is it then?

ANNET. 'Tis very hard to say, Andrew.

ANDREW. Look you, Mill, 'tis more than a five year that I've been a- courting of you faithful.

ANNET. [Sighing.] Indeed it is, Andrew.

ANDREW. And I've never got naught but blows for my pains.

ANNET. [Beginning to speak in a gentle voice and ending sharply.] O I'm so sorry--No--I mean--'Tis your own fault, Andrew.

ANDREW. But I would sooner take blows from you than sweet words from another, Millie.

ANNET. I could never find it in my heart to--I mean, 'tis as well that you should get used to blows, seeing we're to be wed, Andrew.

ANDREW. Then 'tis to be! O Millie, this is brave news--Why, I do scarcely know whether I be awake or dreaming.

ANNET. [Very sadly.] Very likely you'll be glad enough to be dreaming a month from now, poor Andrew.

ANDREW. [Drawing nearer.] I am brave, Millie, now that you speak to me so kind and gentle, and I'll ask you to name the day.

ANNET. [Shrinking back.] O 'twill be a very long distance from now, Andrew.

ANDREW. Millie, it seems to be your pleasure to take up my heart and play with it same as a cat does with the mouse.

ANNET. [Becoming gay and hard in her manner.] Your heart, Andrew? 'Twill go all the better afterwards if 'tis tossed about a bit first.

ANDREW. Put an end to this foolishness, Mill, and say when you'll wed me.

ANNET. [Warding him off with her hand.] You shall have my answer in a new song Andrew, which I have been learning.

[ANDREW sits down despondently and prepares to listen.

ANNET. Now hark you to this, Andrew, and turn it well over in your mind. [She begins to sing:

Say can you plough me an acre of land Sing Ivy leaf, Sweet William and Thyme. Between the sea and the salt sea strand And you shall be a true lover of mine?

[A slight pause. ANNET looks questioningly at ANDREW, who turns away with a heavy sigh.

ANNET. [Singing.]

Yes, if you plough it with one ram's horn Sing Ivy Leaf, Sweet William and Thyme And sow it all over with one peppercorn And you shall be a true lover of mine.

ANDREW. 'Tis all foolishness.

ANNET. [Singing.]

Say can you reap with a sickle of leather Sing Ivy Leaf, Sweet William and Thyme And tie it all up with a Tom-tit's feather And you shall be a true lover of mine.

ANDREW. [Rises up impatiently.] I can stand no more. You've danced upon my heart till 'tis fairly brittle, and ready to be broke by a feather.

ANNET. [Very gently.] O Andrew, I'll mend your heart one day.

ANDREW. Millie, the sound of those words has mended it already.

ANNET. [In a harder voice.] But very likely there'll be a crack left to it always.

[FARMER DANIEL and ELIZABETH come into the room.

DANIEL. Well my boy, well Millie?

ANDREW. [Boldly.] 'Tis for a month from now.

DANIEL. Bless my soul. Hear that, Mother? Hear that?

ELIZABETH. I'm not deaf, Father.

DANIEL. [Shaking ANDREW'S hand.] Ah my boy, I knowed as you'd bring the little maid to the senses of she.

ELIZABETH. Millie has not shown any backwardness in clothing herself as though for church.

DANIEL. 'Tis with the maids as 'tis with the fowls when they be come out from moult. They be bound to pick about this way and that in their new feathers.

ELIZABETH. Well, 'tis to be hoped the young people have fixed it up for good and all this time.

DANIEL. Come Mill, my wench, you be wonderful quiet. Where's your tongue?

ELIZABETH. I think we've all had quite enough of Millie's tongue, Father. Let her give it a rest if she've a mind.

DANIEL. I warrant she be gone as shy as a May bettel when 'tis daylight. But us'll take it as she have fixed it up in her own mind like. Come, Mother, such a time as this, you won't take no objection to the drawing of a jug of cider.

ELIZABETH. And supper just about to be served? I'm surprised at you, Father. No, I can't hear of cider being drawn so needless like.

DANIEL. Well, well,--have it your own way--but I always says, and my father used to say it afore I, a fine deed do call for a fine drink, and that's how 'twas in my time.

ELIZABETH. Millie, do you call your cousins in to supper.

DANIEL. Ah, and where be the maids gone off to this time of night, Mother?

ANDREW. Annet did pass me as I came through the yard, Master

[MAY, quietly opens the cupboard door and comes out.

ELIZABETH. So that's where you've been, you deceitful little wench.

ANDREW. Well, to think of that, Millie.

ELIZABETH. And how long may you have bid there, I should like to know?

DANIEL. Come, come, my little maid, 'tis early days for you to be getting a lesson in courtship.

MAY. O there wasn't any courtship, Uncle, and I didn't hear nothing at all to speak of.

ELIZABETH. There, run along quick and find your sister. Supper's late already, and that it is.

Six Plays - 4/62

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