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- Six Plays - 60/62 -

MAY. That's it, Mother, that's it. Us'll take a bit of sleep afore we sets off, won't us? And when morning comes, us'll open the door and go out.

VASHTI. That's it, when 'tis day.

[Her head falls to one side of the chair and she is presently asleep.

[MAY watches her for some moments. Then she gets up softly and wraps her shawl round her. The window shews signs of a gray light outside, MAY goes quietly towards the outer door. As she reaches it, DORRY comes into the room from the staircase.

DORRY. [Going up to VASHTI.] Granny, 'tis the New Year! I'm come down to see to the fire and to get breakfast for Dad and Gran'ma. Why, Granny, you're sleeping still. And where's that poor tramp gone off to? [She looks round the room and then sees MAY by the door.

DORRY. O, there you are. Are you going out on the road afore 'tis got light?

MAY. [In a hoarse whisper.] And that I be. 'Tis very nigh to daybreak, so 'tis.

DORRY. Stop a moment. [Calling up the stairs.] Daddy, the tramp woman, she's moving off already.

STEVE. [From upstairs.] Then give her a bit of bread to take along of she. I don't care that anyone should go an-hungered this day.

DORRY. [Turning to MAY.] There--you bide a minute whilst I cuts the loaf. My Dad's going to get married this day, and he don't care that anyone should go hungry.

[MAY comes slowly back into the room and stands watching DORRY, who fetches a loaf from the pantry and cuts it at the table. Then she pulls aside the curtain and a dim light comes in.

DORRY. The snow's very nigh gone, and 'tis like as not as the sun may come out presently. Here's a piece of bread to take along of you. There, it's a good big piece, take and eat it.

[MAY hesitates an instant, then she stretches out her hand and takes the bread and puts it beneath her shawl.

MAY. And so there's going to be a wedding here to-day?

DORRY. 'Tis my Dad as is to be married.

MAY. 'Tis poor work, is twice marrying.

DORRY. My Dad's ever so pleased, I han't seen him so pleased as I can remember. I han't.

MAY. Then maybe the second choosing be the best.

DORRY. Yes, 'tis--Gran'ma says as 'tis--and Dad, he be ever so fond of Miss Sims--and I be, too.

MAY. Then you've no call to wish as her who's gone should come back to you, like?

DORRY. What's that you're saying?

MAY. You don't never want as your mammy what you've lost should be amongst you as afore?

DORRY. I never knowed my mammy. Gran'ma says she had got summat bad in her blood. And Granny's got the same. But Miss Sims, she's ever so nice to Dad and me, and I'm real pleased as she's coming to stop along of us always after that they're married, like.

MAY. And th' old woman what's your gran'ma, Dorry?

DORRY. However did you know as I was called "Dorry"?

MAY. I heard them call you so last night.

DORRY. And whatever do you want to know about Gran'ma?

MAY. What have her got to say 'bout the--the--wench what's going to marry your dad?

DORRY. O, Gran'ma, she thinks ever such a lot of Miss Sims, and she says as how poor Dad, what's been served so bad, will find out soon what 'tis to have a real decent wife, what'll help with the work and all, and what won't lower him by her ways, nor nothing.

MAY. Look you here--'tis growing day. I must be getting off and on to the road.

DORRY. [Moving to the door.] I'll unbolt the door, then. O, 'tis fine and daylight now.

MAY. [Turning back at the doorway and looking at the room.] I suppose you wouldn't like to touch me, for good luck, Dorry?

DORRY. No, I shouldn't. Gran'ma, she don't let me go nigh road people as a rule. She's a-feared as I should take summat from them, I suppose.

MAY. [Hoarsely, her hand on the door.] Then just say as you wishes me well, Dorry.

DORRY. I'll wish you a good New Year, then, and Gran'ma said as I was to watch as you cleared off the place. [MAY goes out softly and quickly. DORRY watches her until she is out of sight, and then she shuts the door.

ACT III.--Scene 1.

The same room. It is nearly mid-day, and the room is full of sunshine. JANE BROWNING, in her best dress, is fastening DORRY'S frock, close to the window.

DORRY. Dad's been a rare long time a-cleaning of his self up, Gran.

JANE. Will you bide still! However's this frock to get fastened and you moving this way and that like some live eel--and just see what a mark you've made on the elbow last night, putting your arm down somewhere where you didn't ought to--I might just as well have never washed the thing.

DORRY. Granny's sound asleep still--she'll have to be waked time we goes along to the church.

JANE. That her shan't be. Her shall just bide and sleep the drink out of her, her shall. Do you think as I didn't find out who 'twas what had got at the bottle as Dad left on the dresser last night.

DORRY. Poor Gran, she do take a drop now and then.

JANE. Shame on th' old gipsy. Her shall be left to bide till she have slept off some of the nonsense which is in her.

DORRY. Granny do say a lot of funny things sometimes, don't she, now?

JANE. You get and put on your hat and button your gloves, and let the old gipsy be. We can send her off home when 'tis afternoon, and us back from church. Now, where did I lay that bonnet? Here 'tis.

[She begins to tie the strings before a small mirror in the wall. STEVE comes downstairs in his shirt sleeves, carrying his coat.

DORRY. Why, Dad, you do look rare pleased at summat.

STEVE. And when's a man to look pleased if 'tis not on his wedding morn, Dorry?

DORRY. The tramp what was here did say as how 'twas poor work twice marrying, but you don't find it be so, Dad, do you now?

STEVE. And that I don't, my little wench. 'Tis as nigh heaven as I be like to touch--and that's how 'tis with me.

JANE. [Taking STEVE'S coat from him.] Ah, 'tis a different set out altogether this time. That 'tis. 'Tis a-marrying into your own rank, like, and no mixing up with they trolloping gipsies.

DORRY. Was my own mammy a trolloping gipsy, Gran?

JANE. [Beginning to brush STEVE'S coat.] Ah, much in the same pattern as th' old woman what's drunk asleep against the fireside. Here, button up them gloves, 'tis time we was off.

DORRY. I do like Miss Sims. She do have nice things on her. When I grows up I'd like to look as she do, so I would.

STEVE. [To JANE.] There, Mother, that'll do. I'd best put him on now.

JANE. [Holding out the coat for him.] Well, and you be got yourself up rare smart, Steve.

STEVE. 'Tis rare smart as I be feeling, Mother. I'm all a kind of a dazzle within of me, same as 'tis with the sun upon the snow out yonder.

JANE. Why, look you, there's George a-coming up the path already.

DORRY. He's wearing of the flower what Rosie gived him last night.

STEVE. [Opening the door.] Good morning, George. A first class New Year to you. You're welcome, if ever a man was.

JANE. You bide where you do stand, George, till your feet is dry. My floor was fresh wiped over this morning.

GEORGE. [Standing on the door mat.] All right, Mrs. Browning. Don't you fluster. Good morning, Dorry. How be you to-day, Steve?

JANE. Dorry, come you upstairs along with me and get your coat put on, so as your frock bain't crushed.

DORRY. O, I wish I could go so that my nice frock was seen and no

Six Plays - 60/62

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