THE LOVERS’ TASKS
Elizabeth, his wife.
Millie, her daughter.
Annet, his niece.
May, Annet’s sister, aged ten.
Giles, their brother.
Andrew, a rich young farmer.
George, John servants to Giles.
An old man.
Act I.—Scene 1.
The parlour at Camel Farm.
Time: An afternoon in May.
Elizabeth is sewing by the table with Annet. At the open doorway may is polishing a bright mug.
Elizabeth. [Looking up.] There’s Uncle, back from the Fair.
May. [Looking out of the door.] O Uncle’s got some rare big packets in his arms, he has.
Elizabeth. Put down that mug afore you damage it, May; and, Annet, do you go and help your uncle in.
May. [Setting down the mug.] O let me go along of her too—[Annet rises and goes to the door followed by may, who has dropped her polishing leather upon the ground.
Elizabeth. [Picking it up and speaking to herself in exasperation.] If ever there was a careless little wench, ’tis she. I never did hold with the bringing up of other folks children and if I’d had my way, ’tis to the poor-house they’d have went, instead of coming here where I’ve enough to do with my own.
[The farmer comes in followed by Annet and may carrying large parcels.
Daniel. Well Mother, I count I’m back a smartish bit sooner nor what you did expect.
Elizabeth. I’m not one that can be taken by surprise, Dan. May, lay that parcel on the table at once, and put away your uncle’s hat and overcoat.
Dan. Nay, the overcoat’s too heavy for the little maid—I’ll hang it up myself.
[He takes off his coat and goes out into the passage to hang it up. May runs after him with his hat.
Annet. I do want to know what’s in all those great packets, Aunt.
Elizabeth. I daresay you’ll be told all in good season. Here, take up and get on with that sewing, I dislike to see young people idling away their time.
[The farmer and may come back.
May. And now, untie the packets quickly, uncle.
Daniel. [Sinking into a big chair.] Not so fast, my little maid, not so fast—’tis a powerful long distance as I have journeyed this day, and ’tis wonderful warm for the time of year.
Elizabeth. I don’t hold with drinking nor with taking bites atween meals, but as your uncle has come a good distance, and the day is warm, you make take the key of the pantry, Annet, and draw a glass of cider for him.
[She takes the key from her pocket and hands it to Annet, who goes out.