The present representatives of the tribe of Wirk were known as Old Wirk and Young Wirk. Young Wirk was sixty-seven. No one knew where a still younger Wirk would come from when Old Wirk died and when Young Wirk died. But no one troubled to know. No one knows, precisely, where the next Pope is coming from, but he always comes, and successive Wirks appeared as surely. Old Wirk was past duty at the forge now. He sat on a Windsor chair all day and watched Young Wirk. When the day was finished Old Wirk and Young Wirk would walk across the Green to the pound, not together, but Old Wirk in front and Young Wirk immediately behind him; both with the same gait, bent and with a stick. On reaching the pound they would gaze profoundly into it over the decayed, grey wall, rather as if they were looking to see if the power that was going to turn out the forge was there, and then, the power apparently not being there, they would return, trailing back in the same single file, and take up their reserved positions on the bench before the Tybar Arms.
Mark Sabre, intensely fond of Penny Green, had reflected upon it sometimes as a curious thing that there was scarcely one of the village’s inhabitants or institutions but had evidenced little differences of attitude between himself and Mabel, who was not intensely fond of Penny Green. The aged Wirks had served their turn. Mabel had once considered the Wirks extremely picturesque and, quite early in their married life, had invited them to her house that she might photograph them for her album.
They arrived, in single file, but she did not photograph them for her album. The photograph was not taken because Mark, when they presented themselves, expressed surprise that the aged pair were led off by the parlour maid to have tea in the kitchen. Why on earth didn’t they have tea with them, with himself and Mabel, in the garden?
Mabel did what Sabre called “flew up”; and at the summit of her flight up inquired, “Suppose some one called?”
“Well, suppose they did?” Sabre inquired.
Mabel in a markedly calm voice then gave certain orders to the maid, who had brought out the tea and remained while the fate of the aged Wirks was in suspense.
The maid departed with the orders and Sabre commented, “Sending them off? Well, I’m dashed!”
Half an hour later the aged pair, having been led into the kitchen and having had tea there, were led out again and released by the maid on to the village Green rather as if they were two old ducks turned out to grass.
Sabre, watching them from the lawn beside the teacups, laughed and said, “What a dashed stupid business. They might have had tea on the roof for all I care.”
Mabel tinkled a little silver bell for the maid. Ting-a-ling-ting!