Sol Potter. [Scratching his head] Aye, ’tes rare lucky; but I dunno if ’tes altogether reg’lar.
The village green before the churchyard and the yew-trees at the gate. Into the pitch dark under the yews, light comes out through the half-open church door. Figures are lurking, or moving stealthily—people waiting and listening to the sound of a voice speaking in the church words that are inaudible. Excited whispering and faint giggles come from the deepest yew-tree shade, made ghostly by the white faces and the frocks of young girls continually flitting up and back in the blackness. A girl’s figure comes flying out from the porch, down the path of light, and joins the stealthy group.
Whispering voice of mercy. Where’s ’e got to now, Gladys?
Whispering voice of Gladys. ’E’ve just finished.
Voice of Connie. Whu pushed t’door open?
Voice of Gladys. Tim Clyst I giv’ it a little push, meself.
Voice of Connie. Oh!
Voice of Gladys. Tim Clyst’s gone in!
Another voice. O-o-o-h!
Voice of mercy. Whu else is there, tu?
Voice of Gladys. Ivy’s there, an’ Old Mrs. Potter, an’ tu o’ the maids from th’Hall; that’s all as ever.
Voice of Connie. Not the old grey mare?
Voice of Gladys. No. She ain’t ther’. ’Twill just be th’ymn now, an’ the Blessin’. Tibby gone for ’em?
Voice of mercy. Yes.
Voice of Connie. Mr. Burlacombe’s gone in home, I saw ’im pass by just now—’e don’ like it. Father don’t like it neither.
Voice of mercy. Mr. Strangway shoudn’ ‘ave taken my skylark, an’ thrown father out o’ winder. ‘Tis goin’ to be awful fun! Oh!
[She jumps up and dawn in the darkness. And a voice from far in the shadow says: “Hsssh! Quiet, yu maids!” The voice has ceased speaking in the church. There is a moment’s dead silence. The voice speaks again; then from the wheezy little organ come the first faint chords of a hymn.]
Gladys. “Nearer, my God, to Thee!”
Voice of mercy. ’Twill be funny, with no one ‘ardly singin’.
[The sound of the old
hymn sung by just six voices comes out to
them rather sweet and clear.]
Gladys. [Softly] ‘Tis pretty, tu. Why! They’re only singin’ one verse!