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- Six Plays - 62/62 -


[The knocking is heard again.

VASHTI. And I up and says to they, "Ah, and you would hustle a poor old woman what's never harmed so much as a hair out of the ugly heads of you. You would hunt and drive of her till she be very nigh done to death. But there shall come a day when you shall be laid down and a-taking of your bit of rest, and the thing what you knows of shall get up upon you and smite you till you do go screeching from the house, and fleeing to the uttermost part of the land--whilst me and mine -

[The door opens and HARRY MOSS enters.

HARRY. Beg pardon, old Missis, but I couldn't make no one hear me.

VASHTI. Seeing as them be sick of the abomination which was inside of they. [Perceiving HARRY.] Well, and what be you as is comed into this room?

HARRY. 'Tis Moss as I be called, old Missis. And as I was a-going by this place, I thought as I'd look in a moment, just for to ask how 'twas with May.

VASHTI. They be all gone out from the house. All of them. They be in clothes what do lie in boxes most of the time with lumps of white among they. Them be set out in the best as they has, and in grand things of many colours. There 'tis.

HARRY. And be you th' old lady what's Steve's mother?

VASHTI. I be not, sir. 'Tis mother to May as I be. May, what's comed back, and what'll set t'other old vixen in her place soon as they get home.

HARRY. Then May, she be gone out, too, have her?

VASHTI. [Looking round vaguely.] Ah, I counts as her be gone to church along of t'other.

HARRY. To church, Missis?

VASHTI. There's marrying being done down here to-day.

HARRY. Marrying, be there? Well, but I was 'most feared as how it might have been t'other thing.

VASHTI. Ah, that there be--marrying. But there bain't no more victuals got into the house as I knows of. Th' old woman's seen to that.

HARRY. And be May gone out, too, along of them to see the marrying?

VASHTI. Ah, I counts as her be. But her's a-coming back in a little while, and you may sit down and bide till she does.

HARRY. I'd sooner be about and on my way, Missis, if 'tis all the same to you. But I thanks you kindly. And you get and tell May when she do come home, that 'tis particular glad I be for to know as her bain't took worse, nor nothing. And should I happen in these parts again, 'tis very likely as I'll take a look in on she some day.

VASHTI. Ah, her'll have got t'other old baggage set in the right place by then.

HARRY. [Looking round him.] Well, I be rare pleased to think of May so comfortable, like, for her was got down terrible low.

VASHTI. T'other'll be broughted lower.

HARRY. Look you here, old Missis, 'tis a stomach full of naught as I carries. If so be as you has a crust to spare -

VASHTI. [Pointing to a door.] There be a plate of meat inside of that cupboard. You take and fill your belly with it.

HARRY. Thank you kindly, Missis, but I counts I han't the time for heavy feeding this morning.

VASHTI. 'Twould serve she right, th' old sinner, for the place to be licked up clean, against the time when her was come'd back, so 'twould.

HARRY. Well, Missis, you can tell May 'tis a brave New Year as I do wish she.

VASHTI. [Listening to bells which are heard suddenly ringing.] There, there they be! Harken to them! 'Tis with bells as they be coming out. Bells what's ringing. I count 'tis fine as May do look now in her marriage gown. Harken, 'tis the bells a-shaking of the window pane. I be an old woman, but the hearing of me bain't spoiled.

HARRY. I warrant it bain't, Missis. Why, they're ringing wonderful smart. 'Tis enough, upon my word, for to fetch down every stone of the old place.

VASHTI. Get you out upon the garden path and tell I if you sees them a-coming.

HARRY. That's it, old Missis, and so I will.

[He goes outside the house.

VASHTI. [Sitting upright and looking with fixed vacancy before her.] And when they was all laid low and the heads of them bowed. "You would, would you," I says, for they was lifting the ends of their ugly mouths at I. And I passed among they and them did quail and crouch, being with fear. And me and mine did reach the place what was on the top. "See now yourselves," I says, "if so be that you do not go in blindness and in dark." 'Twas May what stood there aside of I. And "Look you," I says, "over the bended necks of you my child shall pass. For you be done to death by the lies which growed within you and waxed till the bodies of you was fed with them and the poison did gush out from your lips." But my little child stood in the light, and the hands of her was about the stars.

HARRY. [Coming in.] Look, they be all a-coming over the meadow, old Missis. But May han't comed with they--May han't come too.

[The wedding party enters the room as the curtain falls.]

Footnotes:

{1} "As I walked Out." From Folk Songs from Essex collected by R. Vaughan Williams. The whole, or two verses can be sung.

{2} "The Seeds of Love," "Folk Songs from Somerset," edited by Cecil J. Sharp and Charles L. Marsden.


Six Plays - 62/62

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