‘Ay, but I reckon what ye’d ha best thought o’ that before. Ye’ve changed yer whistle considerably since Tuesday. Nay, hould on,’ he added, as she struggled to push past him. ‘Here’s t’ envelope.’
She snatched the paper, and tore it passionately, scattering the fragments on to the road. When she had finished, he burst out angrily:
‘Ye cussed, unreasonable fool.’
‘Let me pass, ef ye’ve nought mare t’say,’ she cried.
‘Nay, I’ll na part wi’ ye this fashion. Ye can speak soft enough when ye choose.’ And seizing her shoulders, he forced her backwards against the wall.
‘Ye do look fine, an’ na mistake, when ye’re jest ablaze wi’ ragin’,’ he laughed bluntly, lowering his face to hers.
‘Loose me, loose me, ye great coward,’ she gasped, striving to free her arms.
Holding her fast, he expostulated:
‘Coom, Rosa, can we na part friends?’
‘Part friends, indeed,’ she retorted bitterly. ‘Friends wi’ the likes o’ you. What d’ye tak me for? Let me git home, I tell ye. An’ please God I’ll never set eyes on ye again. I hate t’ sight o’ ye.’
‘Be off wi’ ye, then,’ he answered, pushing her roughly back into the road. ‘Be off wi’ ye, ye silly. Ye canna say I hav na spak fair t’ ye, an’, by goom, ye’ll na see me shally-wallyin this fashion agin. Be off wi’ ye: ye can jest shift for yerself, since ye canna keep a civil tongue in yer head.’
The girl, catching at her breath, stood as if dazed, watching his retreating figure; then starting forward at a run, disappeared up the hill, into the darkness.
Old Mr. Blencarn concluded his husky sermon. The scanty congregation, who had been sitting, stolidly immobile in their stiff, Sunday clothes, shuffled to their feet, and the pewful of school children, in clamorous chorus, intoned the final hymn. Anthony stood near the organ, absently contemplating, while the rude melody resounded through the church, Rosa’s deft manipulation of the key-board. The rugged lines of his face were relaxed to a vacant, thoughtful limpness, that aged his expression not a little: now and then, as if for reference, he glanced questioningly at the girl’s profile.
A few minutes later the service was over, and the congregation sauntered out down the aisle. A gawky group of men remained loitering by the church door: one of them called to Anthony; but, nodding curtly, he passed on, and strode away down the road, across the grey upland meadows, towards home. As soon as he had breasted the hill, however, and was no longer visible from below, he turned abruptly to the left, along a small, swampy hollow, till he had reached the lane that led down from the fell-side.
He clambered over a rugged, moss-grown wall, and stood, gazing expectantly down the dark, disused roadway; then, after a moment’s hesitation, perceiving nobody, seated himself beneath the wall, on a projecting slab of stone.