Mrs. Jones. [Realising that suspicion is upon her; with an uneasy movement.] Where was it, sir; if you please, sir?
Barthwick. [Evasively.] Where did Marlow say? Er—in this room, yes, in this room.
Mrs. Jones. No, Sir, I have n’t seen it—of course if I ’d seen it I should have noticed it.
Barthwick. [Giving hey a rapid glance.] You—you are sure of that?
Mrs. Jones. [Impassively.] Yes, Sir. [With a slow nodding of her head.] I have not seen it, and of course I don’t know where it is.
[She turns and goes quietly out.]
[The three BARTHWICKS avoid each other’s glances.]
The curtain falls.
The JONES’s lodgings, Merthyr Street, at half-past two o’clock.
The bare room, with tattered oilcloth and damp, distempered walls, has an air of tidy wretchedness. On the bed lies Jones, half-dressed; his coat is thrown across his feet, and muddy boots are lying on the floor close by. He is asleep. The door is opened and Mrs. Jones comes in, dressed in a pinched black jacket and old black sailor hat; she carries a parcel wrapped up in the “Times.” She puts her parcel down, unwraps an apron, half a loaf, two onions, three potatoes, and a tiny piece of bacon. Taking a teapot from the cupboard, she rinses it, shakes into it some powdered tea out of a screw of paper, puts it on the hearth, and sitting in a wooden chair quietly begins to cry.
Jones. [Stirring and yawning.] That you? What’s the time?
Mrs. Jones. [Drying her eyes, and in her usual voice.] Half-past two.
Jones. What you back so soon for?
Mrs. Jones. I only had the half day to-day, Jem.
Jones. [On his back, and in a drowsy voice.] Got anything for dinner?
Mrs. Jones. Mrs. BARTHWICK’s cook gave me a little bit of bacon. I’m going to make a stew. [She prepares for cooking.] There’s fourteen shillings owing for rent, James, and of course I ’ve only got two and fourpence. They’ll be coming for it to-day.
Jones. [Turning towards her on his elbow.] Let ’em come and find my surprise packet. I’ve had enough o’ this tryin’ for work. Why should I go round and round after a job like a bloomin’ squirrel in a cage. “Give us a job, sir”—“Take a man on”—“Got a wife and three children.” Sick of it I am! I ’d sooner lie here and rot. “Jones, you come and join the demonstration; come and ’old a flag, and listen to the ruddy orators, and go ’ome as empty as you came.” There’s some that seems to like that—the sheep! When I go seekin’ for a job now, and see the brutes lookin’ me up an’ down, it’s