Lord Lovel. [Coming forward to George and shaking his hand.] I’m proud to make your acquaintance, sir.
Emily. [Rising angrily.] Come Thomas, come Luke, come Clara. Us might be a barn full of broody hens the way we be set around of this here table. ’Twill be midnight afore the things is cleared away and washed up.
Thomas. What if it be, Emily. ’Tisn’t very often as I gets the chance of minding how ’twas in times gone past. Ah, I was a young man in those days, too, I was.
Emily. And ’tis a rare old addle head as you be got now, Thomas.
Jessie. [Slipping her hand into THOMAS’S.] O do let us sit up till midnight, Dad.
Robin. I shall eat a smartish lot more if we does.
William, her son.
John, his farm hand.
Susan, their maid.
Julia, the owner of Luther’s Farm.
Laura, Chris, Nat, Tansie, gipsies.
Act I.—Scene 1.
The garden of the Road Farm. To the right an arbour covered with roses. Mrs. Gardner is seated in it, knitting. William is tying up flowers and watering them.
Mrs. Gardner. And you have come to a ripe age when ’tis the plain duty of a man to turn himself towards matrimony, William.
William. ’Tis a bit of quiet that I’m after, Mother.
Mrs. Gardner. Quiet! ’tis a
good shaking up as you want, William.
Why, you have got as set in your ways as last season’s jelly.
William. Then let me bide so. ’Tis all I ask.
Mrs. Gardner. No, William. I’m got to be an old woman now, and ’tis time that I had someone at my side to help in the house-keeping and to share the work.
William. What’s Susan for, if ’tisn’t to do that?
Mrs. Gardner. Susan? As idle a piece of goods as ever was seen on a summer’s day! No. ’Tisn’t a serving maid that I was thinking of, but someone who should be of more account in the house. ’Tis a daughter that I’m wanting, William, and I’ve picked out the one who is to my taste.
William. Then you’ve done more than I have, Mother.
Mrs. Gardner. ’Tis the young person whom Luther Smith has left his farm and all his money to. I’ve got my eye on her for you, William.
William. Then you’ll please to put your eye somewhere else, Mother, for I’ve seen them, and they don’t suit me.
Mrs. Gardner. Come, this is news, William. Pray where did you meet?
William. ’Twas when I was in church last Sunday. In they came, the two young maids from Luthers, like a couple of gallinie fowls, the way they did step up over the stones and shake the plumes of them this way and that. I don’t hold with fancy tricks. I never could abide them. No foreign wenches for me. And that’s about all.