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- Hobson's Choice - 10/23 -


MAGGIE. You have approved. You've kissed the bridegroom and you'll go along with us. Father's safe where he is. (_Rises and crosses_ L.)

ALICE. And the shop?

MAGGIE. Tubby can see to the shop. And that reminds me. You _can_ sell me something. There are some rings in that drawer there, Vickey.

VICKEY. Brass rings?

MAGGIE. Yes. I want one. That's the size. (_She holds up her wedding-ring finger and moves to the counter_.)

VICKEY. That! But you're not taking it for--

(VICKEY _puts box of rings on counter_.)

MAGGIE. Yes, I am. Will and me aren't throwing money round, but we can pay our way. There's fourpence for the ring. Gather it up, Vickey. (_Putting down money and trying on rings_.)

ALICE. Wedded with a brass ring!

MAGGIE. This one will do. It's a nice fit. Alice, you haven't entered that sale in your book. No wonder you're worried with the accounts if that's the way you see to them. (_She comes down_ L. C. and puts ring in her bag_.)

ALICE. I'm a bit too much astonished at you to think about accounts. A ring out of stock!

MAGGIE. They're always out of some one's stock.

VICKEY. Well, I'd think shame to myself to be married with a ring like that.

MAGGIE. When folks can't afford the best they have to do without.

VICKEY. I'll take good care I never go without.

MAGGIE. Semi-detached for you, I suppose, and a houseful of new furniture.

ALICE. Haven't you furnished?

MAGGIE. Partly what. We've made a start at the Flat Iron Market. (_Sits_ L. _of_ WILLIE.)

ALICE. I'd stay single sooner than have other people's cast-off sticks in my house. Where's your pride gone to, Maggie?

MAGGIE. I'm not getting wed myself to help the furnishing trade along. I suppose you'd turn your nose up at second-hand stuff, too, Vickey?

VICKEY. I'd start properly or not at all. (_Goes to desk_, L.)

MAGGIE. Then you'll neither of you have any objections to my clearing out the lumber-room upstairs. (_Rises_.) We brought a hand-cart round with us. (_Nudges_ WILL.)

(WILL _rises and takes his coat off. He has detachable cuffs which he places carefully on the arm-chair_.)

VICKEY. You made sure of things.

MAGGIE. Yes. Get upstairs, Will. I told you what to bring.

ALICE. Wait a bit. (_Crosses to_ C.)

MAGGIE. Go on. (_Moves_ R. _slightly_.)

(WILL _goes into the house_.)

ALICE. Let me tell you if you claim the furniture from your old bedroom--(_up to_ MAGGIE),--that it's my room now, and you'll not budge a stick of it.

MAGGIE. I expected you'd promote yourself, Alice. But I said lumber-room. There's a two-three broken chairs in the attic and a sofa with the springs all gone. You'll not tell me they're of any use to you.

ALICE. Nor to you, neither.

MAGGIE. Will's handy with his fingers. He'll put in this afternoon mending them. They'll be secure against you come to sit on them at supper-time to-night.

VICKEY. And that's the way you're going to live! With cast-off furniture. (_Moves to window_, L.)

MAGGIE. Aye. In two cellars in Oldfield Road.

VICKEY _and_ ALICE. A cellar!

MAGGIE. _Two_ of 'em, Alice. One to live and work in and the other to sleep in.

ALICE. Well, it 'ud not suit me.

VICKEY. Nor me.

MAGGIE. It suits me fine. And when me and Will are richer than the lot of you together, it'll be a grand satisfaction to look back and think about how we were when we began.

(WILL _appears_ R. _with two crippled chairs and begins to cross the shop_.)

VICKEY (_stopping him_). Just a minute, Will. (_She examines the chairs_.) These chairs are not so bad.

MAGGIE. You can sit on one to-night and see.

VICKEY. You know, mended up, those chairs would do very well for my kitchen when I'm wed.

ALICE. Yes, or for mine.

MAGGIE. I reckon my parlour comes afront of your kitchens, though.

VICKEY. Parlour! I thought you said you'd only one living-room.

MAGGIE. Then it might as well be called a parlour as by any other name. (_Crosses to doors_, L., _and opens them_.) Put the chairs on the hand-cart, Will.

(WILL _goes out to street_.)

And as for your kitchens, you've got none yet, and if you want my plan for you to work, you'll just remember all I'm taking off you is some crippled stuff that isn't yours and what I'm getting for you is marriage portions.

ALICE. What? (_Moves to_ C.)

VICKEY. Marriage portions, Maggie!

(FREDDY _re-enters, accompanied by_ ALBERT.)

MAGGIE (_to_ VICKEY _and_ ALICE). You'd better put your hats on now, or you'll be late at the church. (_Gets between_ ALICE _and_ VICKEY, C.)

VICKEY. But aren't we to know first--?

MAGGIE (_herding them to_ R. _exit_). You'll know all right. Be quick with your things now.

(ALICE _and_ VICKEY _go out_ R.)

MAGGIE (_turns_). Good morning, Albert. (_Goes to him_, L.) Have you got what Freddy asked you for?

ALBERT. Yes, but I'm afraid--

(WILL _re-enters from street, crosses_ R. _and goes off_.)

MAGGIE. Never mind being afraid. Freddy, I told you I'd a job here for you. You go upstairs with Will. There's a sofa to come down. Get your coat off to it. Now, then, Albert.

FREDDY. But--(_Moving over to_ R.)

MAGGIE. I've told you what to do, and you can't do it in your coat. (_Moves down_ L.) If that sofa isn't here in two minutes, I'll leave the lot of you to tackle this yourselves and a nice hash you'll make of it.

(FREDDY _takes his coat off and puts it on a chair in front of the counter_.)

FREDDY. All right, Maggie.

(FREDDY _goes out_ R., ALBERT _produces blue paper. She reads_.)

MAGGIE (_sitting in arm-chair_, R. C.). Do you call this English?

ALBERT (_standing_ L. _of her_). Legal English, Miss Hobson.

MAGGIE. I thought it weren't the sort we talk in Lancashire. What is it when you've got behind the whereases and the saids and to wits?

ALBERT. It's what you told Freddy to instruct me. Action against Henry Horatio Hobson for trespass on the premises of Jonathan Beenstock & Co., Corn Merchants, of Chapel Street, Salford, with damages to certain corn bags caused by falling on them and further damages claimed for spying on the trade secrets of the aforesaid J. B. & Co.


Hobson's Choice - 10/23

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