She moved away, nodding sententiously to herself. They began supper: neither spoke: Anthony sat slowly stirring his tea, and staring moodily into the flames: the bacon on his plate lay untouched. From time to time his mother, laying down her knife and fork, looked across at him in unconcealed asperity, pursing her wide, ungainly mouth. At last, abruptly setting down her cup, she broke out:
‘I wonder ye hav’na mare pride, Tony. For hoo lang are ye goin’ t’ continue settin’ mopin’ and broodin’ like a seck sheep? Ye’ll jest mak yesself ill, an’ then I reckon what ye’ll prove satisfied. Ay, but I wonder ye hav’na more pride.’
But he made no answer, remaining unmoved, as if he had not heard.
Presently, half to himself, without raising his eyes, he murmured:
‘Luke be goin’ South, Monday.’
‘Well, ye canna tak’ oop wi’ his leavin’s anyways. It hasna coom’t that, has it? Ye doan’t intend settin’ all t’ parish a laughin’ at ye a second occasion?’
He flushed dully, and bending over his plate, mechanically began his supper.
‘Wa dang it,’ he broke out a minute later, ’d’ye think I heed the cacklin’ o’ fifty parishes? Na, not I,’ and, with a short, grim laugh, he brought his fist down heavily on the oak table.
‘Ye’re daft, Tony,’ the old woman blurted.
‘Daft or na daft, I tell ye this, mother, that I be forty-six year o’ age this back-end, and there be some things I will na listen to. Rosa Blencarn’s bonny enough for me.’
‘Ay, bonny enough—I’ve na patience wi’ ye. Bonny enough—tricked oot in her furbelows, gallivantin’ wi’ every royster fra Pe’rith. Bonny enough—that be all ye think on. She’s bin a proper parson’s niece—the giddy, feckless creature, an she’d mak’ ye a proper sort o’ wife, Tony Garstin, ye great, fond booby.’
She pushed back her chair, and, hurriedly clattering the crockery, began to clear away the supper.
‘T’ hoose be mine, t’ Lord be praised,’ she continued in a loud, hard voice, ‘an’ as long as he spare me, Tony, I’ll na see Rosa Blencarn set foot inside it.’
Anthony scowled, without replying, and drew his chair to the hearth. His mother bustled about the room behind him. After a while she asked:
‘Did ye pen t’ lambs in t’ back field?’
‘Na, they’re in Hullam bottom,’ he answered curtly.
The door closed behind her, and by and by he could hear her moving overhead. Meditatively blinking, he filled his pipe clumsily, and pulling a crumpled newspaper from his pocket, sat on over the smouldering fire, reading and stolidly puffing.
The music rolled through the dark, empty church. The last, leaden flicker of daylight glimmered in through the pointed windows, and beyond the level rows of dusky pews, tenanted only by a litter of prayer-books, two guttering candles revealed the organ pipes, and the young girl’s swaying figure.