“It ain’t fat,” ses Ted, speaking up for ’im; “it’s the shape of it.”
“And it ain’t silly,” ses Charlie, speaking very quick; “mind that!”
“It’s a bit o’ real lace,” ses the gal, twisting her ’ead round to look at the collar; “it cost me one and two-three only last night.”
“One an’ wot?” ses Charlie, who, not being a married man, didn’t understand ’er.
“One shilling,” ses the gal, “two pennies, and three farthings. D’ye understand that?”
“Yes,” ses Charlie.
“He’s cleverer than he looks,” ses the gal, turning to Ted. “I s’pose you’re right, and it is the shape after all.”
Ted walked along one side of ’er and Charlie the other, till they came to the corner of the road where she lived, and then Ted and ’er stood there talking till Charlie got sick and tired of it, and kept tugging at Ted’s coat for ’im to come away.
“I’m coming,” ses Ted, at last. “I s’pose you won’t be this way to-morrow night?” he ses, turning to the gal.
“I might if I thought there was no chance of seeing you,” she ses, tossing her ’ead.
“You needn’t be alarmed,” ses Charlie, shoving in his oar; “we’re going to a music-’all to-morrow night.”
“Oh, go to your blessed music-’all,” ses the gal to Ted; “I don’t want you.”
She turned round and a’most ran up the road, with Ted follering ’er and begging of ’er not to be so hasty, and afore they parted she told ’im that ’er name was. Emma White, and promised to meet ’im there the next night at seven.
O’ course Mr. Charlie Brice turned up alongside o’ Ted the next night, and at fust Emma said she was going straight off ’ome agin. She did go part o’ the way, and then, when she found that Ted wouldn’t send his mate off, she came back and, woman-like, said as ’ow she wasn’t going to go ’ome just to please Charlie Brice. She wouldn’t speak a word to ’im, and when they all went to the music-’all together she sat with her face turned away from ’im and her elbow sticking in ’is chest. Doing that and watching the performance at the same time gave ’er a stiff neck, and she got in such a temper over it she wouldn’t hardly speak to Ted, and when Charlie—meaning well—told ‘er to rub it with a bit o’ mutton-fat she nearly went off her ’ead.
“Who asked you to come with us?” she ses, as soon as she could speak. “’Ow dare you force yourself where you ain’t wanted?”
“Ted wants me,” ses Charlie.
“We’ve been together for years,” ses Ted. “You’ll like Charlie when you get used to ’im—everybody does.”
“Not me!” ses Emma, with a shiver. “It gives me the fair creeps to look at him. You’ll ’ave to choose between us. If he comes, I sha’n’t. Which is it to be?”
Neither of ’em answered ’er, but the next night they both turned up as usual, and Emma White stood there looking at ’em and nearly crying with temper.