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- Hobson's Choice - 6/23 -


a week bootmaker all the days of your life. You'll be a slave, and a contented slave.

WILLIE. I'm not ambitious that I know of.

MAGGIE. No. But you're going to be. I'll see to that. I've got my work cut out, but there's the makings of a man about you.

WILLIE. I wish you'd leave me alone. (_Sits_ R.)

MAGGIE. So does the fly when the spider catches him. You're my man, Willie Mossop. (_Moves to desk_.)

WILLIE. Aye, so you say. Ada would tell another story, though.

(ADA FIGGINS _enters from street. She is not ridiculous, but a weak, poor-blooded, poor-spirited girl of twenty, in clogs and shawl, with_ WILLIE'S _dinner in a basin carried in a blue handkerchief. She crosses to him and gives him the basin_.)

ADA (C.). There's your dinner, Will.

WILLIE. Thank you, Ada. (_Rises_.)

(_She turns to go, and finds_ MAGGIE _in her way_.)

MAGGIE. I want a word with you. You're treading on my foot, young woman.

ADA. Me, Miss Hobson? (_She looks stupidly at_ MAGGIE'S _feet_.)

MAGGIE. What's this with you and him?

ADA (_gushing_). Oh, Miss 'Obson, it is good of you to take notice like that.

WILLIE. Ada, she--

MAGGIE. You hold your hush. This is for me and her to settle. Take a fair look at him, Ada.

ADA. At Will?

MAGGIE (_nodding_). Not much for two women to fall out over, is there?

ADA. Maybe he's not so much to look at, but you should hear him play.

MAGGIE. Play? Are you a musician, Will?

WILLIE. I play the Jew's harp.

MAGGIE. That's what you see in him, is it? A gawky fellow that plays the Jew's harp?

ADA. I see the lad I love, Miss 'Obson.

MAGGIE. It's a funny thing, but I can say the same.

ADA. You!

WILLIE. That's what I've been trying to tell you, Ada, and--and, by gum, she'll have me from you if you don't be careful.

MAGGIE. So we're quits so far, Ada.

ADA. You'll pardon me. You've spoke too late. Will and me's tokened. (_She takes his arm_.)

MAGGIE. That's the past. It's the future that I'm looking to. What's your idea for that?

ADA. You mind your own business, Miss 'Obson. Will Mossop's no concern of thine.

WILLIE. That's what I try to tell her myself, only she will have it it's no use.

MAGGIE. Not an atom. I've asked for your idea of Willie's future. If it's a likelier one than mine, I'll give you best and you can have the lad.

ADA. I'm trusting him to make the future right.

MAGGIE. It's as bad as I thought it was. Willie, you wed me.

ADA (_weakly_). It's daylight robbery. (_Moves slightly_ L.)

WILLIE. Aren't you going to put up a better fight for me than that, Ada? You're fair giving me to her.

MAGGIE. Will Mossop, you take your orders from me in this shop. I've told you you'll wed me.

WILLIE. Seems like there's no escape. (_Sits in arm-chair_.)

ADA (_angry_). Wait while I get you to home, my lad. I'll set my mother on to you.

MAGGIE. Oh, so it's her mother made this match!

WILLIE. She had above a bit to do with it.

MAGGIE. I've got no mother, Will.

WILLIE. You need none, neither.

MAGGIE. Well, can I sell you a pair of clogs, Miss Figgins?

ADA. No. Nor anything else.

MAGGIE. Then you've no business here, have you? (_Moves up to doors and opens them_.)

ADA (_going to him_). Will, are you going to see me ordered out?

WILLIE. It's her shop, Ada.

ADA. You mean I'm to go like this?

WILLIE. She means it.

ADA. It's cruel hard. (_Moves towards doors_.)

MAGGIE. When it comes to a parting, it's best to part sudden and no whimpering about it.

ADA. I'm not whimpering, and I'm not parting, neither. But he'll whimper to-night when my mother sets about him. (_Slight movement back to him_.)

MAGGIE. That'll do.

ADA (_in almost a scream_). Will Mossop, I'm telling you, you'll come home to-night to a thick ear.

(_She goes_.)

WILLIE (_rising_). I'd really rather wed Ada, Maggie, if it's all same to you.

MAGGIE. Why? Because of her mother?

WILLIE. She's a terrible rough side to her tongue, has Mrs. Figgins.

MAGGIE. Are you afraid of her?

WILLIE (_hesitates, then says_). Yes.

MAGGIE. You needn't be.

WILLIE. Yes, but you don't know her. She'll jaw me till I'm black in the face when I go home to-night.

MAGGIE. You won't go home to-night.

WILLIE. Not go?

MAGGIE. You've done with lodging there. You'll go to Tubby Wadlow's when you knock off work and Tubby'll go round to Mrs. Figgins for your things.

WILLIE. And I'm not to go back there never no more?

MAGGIE. No.

WILLIE. It's like an 'appy dream. Eh, Maggie, you do manage things.

(_He opens the trap_.)

MAGGIE. And while Tubby's there you can go round and see about putting the banns up for us two.

WILLIE. Banns! Oh, but I'm hardly used to the idea yet. (_A step down_.)

MAGGIE. You'll have three weeks to get used to it in. Now you can kiss me, Will.

WILLIE. That's forcing things a bit, and all. It's like saying I agree to everything, a kiss is.

MAGGIE. Yes.

WILLIE. And I don't agree yet. I'm--

MAGGIE. Come along.

(ALICE, _then_ VICKEY _enter_ R.)

Do what I tell you, Will.

WILLIE. Now? With them here?


Hobson's Choice - 6/23

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