The dance ended. “Piph-h-h-h!” said tranter Dewy, blowing out his breath in the very finest stream of vapour that a man’s lips could form. “A regular tightener, that one, sonnies!” He wiped his forehead, and went to the cider and ale mugs on the table.
“Well!” said Mrs. Penny, flopping into a chair, “my heart haven’t been in such a thumping state of uproar since I used to sit up on old Midsummer-eves to see who my husband was going to be.”
“And that’s getting on for a good few years ago now, from what I’ve heard you tell,” said the tranter, without lifting his eyes from the cup he was filling. Being now engaged in the business of handing round refreshments, he was warranted in keeping his coat off still, though the other heavy men had resumed theirs.
“And a thing I never expected would come to pass, if you’ll believe me, came to pass then,” continued Mrs. Penny. “Ah, the first spirit ever I see on a Midsummer-eve was a puzzle to me when he appeared, a hard puzzle, so say I!”
“So I should have fancied,” said Elias Spinks.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Penny, throwing her glance into past times, and talking on in a running tone of complacent abstraction, as if a listener were not a necessity. “Yes; never was I in such a taking as on that Midsummer-eve! I sat up, quite determined to see if John Wildway was going to marry me or no. I put the bread-and-cheese and beer quite ready, as the witch’s book ordered, and I opened the door, and I waited till the clock struck twelve, my nerves all alive and so strained that I could feel every one of ’em twitching like bell-wires. Yes, sure! and when the clock had struck, lo and behold, I could see through the door a little small man in the lane wi’ a shoemaker’s apron on.”
Here Mr. Penny stealthily enlarged himself half an inch.