Strangway. She didn’t. Your wife was a brave woman. A dear woman.
Cremer. I never thought to luse ’er. She never told me ’ow bad she was, afore she tuk to ’er bed. ’Tis a dreadful thing to luse a wife, zurr.
Strangway. [Tightening his lips, that tremble] Yes. But don’t give way! Bear up, Jack!
Cremer. Seems funny ‘er goin’ blue-bell time, an’ the sun shinin’ so warm. I picked up an ’orse-shu yesterday. I can’t never ’ave ’er back, zurr.
[His face quivers again.]
Strangway. Some day you’ll join her. Think! Some lose their wives for ever.
Cremer. I don’t believe as there’s a future life, zurr. I think we goo to sleep like the beasts.
Strangway. We’re told otherwise. But come here! [Drawing him to the window] Look! Listen! To sleep in that! Even if we do, it won’t be so bad, Jack, will it?
Cremer. She wer’ a gude wife to me—no man didn’t ’ave no better wife.
Strangway. [Putting his hand out] Take hold—hard—harder! I want yours as much as you want mine. Pray for me, Jack, and I’ll pray for you. And we won’t give way, will we?
Cremer. [To whom the strangeness of these words has given some relief] No, zurr; thank ’ee, zurr. ’Tes no gude, I expect. Only, I’ll miss ’er. Thank ’ee, zurr; kindly.
[He lifts his hand to his head, turns, and uncertainly goes out to the kitchen. And Strangway stays where he is, not knowing what to do. They blindly he takes up his flute, and hatless, hurries out into the air.]
About seven o’clock in the taproom of the village inn. The bar, with the appurtenances thereof, stretches across one end, and opposite is the porch door on to the green. The wall between is nearly all window, with leaded panes, one wide-open casement whereof lets in the last of the sunlight. A narrow bench runs under this broad window. And this is all the furniture, save three spittoons:
Godleigh, the innkeeper, a smallish man with thick ruffled hair, a loquacious nose, and apple-red cheeks above a reddish-brown moustache; is reading the paper. To him enters Tibby Jarland with a shilling in her mouth.
Godleigh. Well, Tibby Jarland, what’ve yu come for, then? Glass o’ beer?
[Tibby takes the shilling from her mouth and smiles stolidly.]
Godleigh. [Twinkling] I shid zay glass o’ ‘arf an’ ’arf’s about yure form. [Tibby smiles more broadly] Yu’m a praaper masterpiece. Well! ’Ave sister Mercy borrowed yure tongue? [Tibby shakes her head] Aw, she ’aven’t. Well, maid?
Tibby. Father wants six clay pipes, please.