ACT II
Scene I
 

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.

GODLEIGH
'E du, du 'ee? Yu tell yure father 'e can't 'ave more'n one, not this avenin'. And 'ere 'tis. Hand up yure shillin'.

[TIBBY reaches up her hand, parts with the shilling, and receives a long clay pipe and eleven pennies. In order to secure the coins in her pinafore she places the clay pipe in her mouth. While she is still thus engaged, MRS BRADMERE enters the porch and comes in. TIBBY curtsies stolidly.]

MRS BRADMERE
Gracious, child! What are you doing here? And what have you got in your mouth? Who is it? Tibby Jarland? [TIBBY curtsies again] Take that thing out. And tell your father from me that if I ever see you at the inn again I shall tread on his toes hard. Godleigh, you know the law about children?

GODLEIGH
[Cocking his eye, and not at all abashed] Surely, m'm. But she will come. Go away, my dear.

[TIBBY, never taking her eyes off MRS BRADMERE, or the pipe from her mouth, has backed stolidly to the door, and vanished.]

MRS BRADMERE
[Eyeing GODLEIGH] Now, Godleigh, I've come to talk to you. Half the scandal that goes about the village begins here. [She holds up her finger to check expostulation] No, no--its no good. You know the value of scandal to your business far too well.

GODLEIGH
Wi' all respect, m'm, I knows the vally of it to yourn, tu.

MRS BRADMERE
What do you mean by that?

GODLEIGH
If there weren't no Rector's lady there widden' be no notice taken o' scandal; an' if there weren't no notice taken, twidden be scandal, to my thinkin'.

MRS BRADMERE
[Winking out a grim little smile] Very well! You've given me your views. Now for mine. There's a piece of scandal going about that's got to be stopped, Godleigh. You turn the tap of it off here, or we'll turn your tap off. You know me. See?

GODLEIGH
I shouldn' never presume, m'm, to know a lady.

MRS BRADMERE
The Rector's quite determined, so is Sir Herbert. Ordinary scandal's bad enough, but this touches the Church. While Mr. Strangway remains curate here, there must be no talk about him and his affairs.

GODLEIGH
[Cocking his eye] I was just thinkin' how to du it, m'm. 'Twid be a brave notion to putt the men in chokey, and slit the women's tongues-like, same as they du in outlandish places, as I'm told.

MRS BRADMERE
Don't talk nonsense, Godleigh; and mind what I say, because I mean it.

GODLEIGH
Make yure mind aisy, m'm there'll be no scandal-monkeyin' here wi' my permission.

[MRS BRADMERE gives him a keen stare, but seeing him perfectly grave, nods her head with approval.]

MRS BRADMERE
Good! You know what's being said, of course?

GODLEIGH
[With respectful gravity] Yu'll pardon me, m'm, but ef an' in case yu was goin' to tell me, there's a rule in this 'ouse: "No scandal 'ere!"

MRS BRADMERE
[Twinkling grimly] You're too smart by half, my man.

GODLEIGH
Aw fegs, no, m'm--child in yure 'ands.

MRS BRADMERE
I wouldn't trust you a yard. Once more, Godleigh! This is a Christian village, and we mean it to remain so. You look out for yourself.

[The door opens to admit the farmers TRUSTAFORD and BURLACOMBE. They doff their hats to MRS BRADMERE, who, after one more sharp look at GODLEIGH, moves towards the door.]

MRS BRADMERE
Evening, Mr. Trustaford. [To BURLACOMBE] Burlacombe, tell your wife that duck she sent up was in hard training.

[With one of her grim winks, and a nod, she goes.]

TRUSTAFORD
[Replacing a hat which is black, hard, and not very new, on his long head, above a long face, clean-shaved but for little whiskers] What's the old grey mare want, then? [With a horse-laugh] 'Er's lukin' awful wise!

GODLEIGH
[Enigmatically] Ah!

TRUSTAFORD
[Sitting on the bench dose to the bar] Drop o' whisky, an' potash.

BURLACOMBE
[A taciturn, alien, yellowish man, in a worn soft hat] What's wise, Godleigh? Drop o' cider.

GODLEIGH
Nuse? There's never no nuse in this 'ouse. Aw, no! Not wi' my permission. [In imitation] This is a Christian village.

TRUSTAFORD
Thought the old grey mare seemed mighty busy. [To BURLACOMBE] 'Tes rather quare about the curate's wife a-cumin' motorin' this mornin'. Passed me wi' her face all smothered up in a veil, goggles an' all. Haw, haw!

BURLACOMBE
Aye!

TRUSTAFORD
Off again she was in 'alf an hour. 'Er didn't give poor old curate much of a chance, after six months.

GODLEIGH
Havin' an engagement elsewhere--No scandal, please, gentlemen.

BURLACOMBE
[Acidly] Never asked to see my missis. Passed me in the yard like a stone.

TRUSTAFORD
'Tes a little bit rumoursome lately about 'er doctor.

GODLEIGH
Ah! he's the favourite. But 'tes a dead secret; Mr. Trustaford. Don't yu never repate it--there's not a cat don't know it already!

BURLACOMBE frowns, and TRUSTAFORD utters his laugh. The door is opened and FREMAN, a dark gipsyish man in the dress of a farmer, comes in.

GODLEIGH
Don't yu never tell Will Freman what 'e told me!

FREMAN
Avenin'!

TRUSTAFORD
Avenin', Will; what's yure glass o' trouble?

FREMAN
Drop o' eider, clove, an' dash o' gin. There's blood in the sky to-night.

BURLACOMBE
Ah! We'll 'ave fine weather now, with the full o' the mune.

FREMAN
Dust o' wind an' a drop or tu, virst, I reckon. 'Earl t' nuse about curate an' 'is wife?

GODLEIGH
No, indeed; an' don't yu tell us. We'm Christians 'ere in this village.

FREMAN
'Tain't no very Christian nuse, neither. He's sent 'er off to th' doctor. "Go an' live with un," 'e says; "my blessin' on ye." If 'er'd a-been mine, I'd 'a tuk the whip to 'er. Tam Jarland's maid, she yeard it all. Christian, indeed! That's brave Christianity! "Goo an' live with un!" 'e told 'er.

BURLACOMBE
No, no; that's, not sense--a man to say that. I'll not 'ear that against a man that bides in my 'ouse.

FREMAN
'Tes sure, I tell 'ee. The maid was hid-up, scared-like, behind the curtain. At it they went, and parson 'e says: "Go," 'e says, "I won't kape 'ee from 'im," 'e says, "an' I won't divorce 'ee, as yu don't wish it!" They was 'is words, same as Jarland's maid told my maid, an' my maid told my missis. If that's parson's talk, 'tes funny work goin' to church.

TRUSTAFORD
[Brooding] 'Tes wonderful quare, zurely.

FREMAN
Tam Jarland's fair mad wi' curate for makin' free wi' his maid's skylark. Parson or no parson, 'e've no call to meddle wi' other people's praperty. He cam' pokin' 'is nose into my affairs. I told un I knew a sight more 'bout 'orses than 'e ever would!

TRUSTAFORD
He'm a bit crazy 'bout bastes an' birds.

[They have been so absorbed that they bane not noticed the entrance of CLYST, a youth with tousled hair, and a bright, quick, Celtic eye, who stands listening, with a bit of paper in his hand.]

CLYST
Ah! he'm that zurely, Mr. Trustaford.

[He chuckles.]

GODLEIGH
Now, Tim Clyst, if an' in case yu've a-got some scandal on yer tongue, don't yu never unship it here. Yu go up to Rectory where 'twill be more relished-like.

CLYST
[Waving the paper] Will y' give me a drink for this, Mr. Godleigh? 'Tes rale funny. Aw! 'tes somethin' swats. Butiful readin'. Poetry. Rale spice. Yu've a luv'ly voice for readin', Mr. Godleigh.

GODLEIGH
[All ears and twinkle] Aw, what is it then?

CLYST
Ah! Yu want t'know tu much.

[Putting the paper in his pocket.]

[While he is speaking, JIM BERE has entered quietly, with his feeble step and smile, and sits down.]

CLYST
[Kindly] Hello, Jim! Cat come 'ome?

JIM BERE
No.

[All nod, and speak to him kindly. And JIM BERE smiles at them, and his eyes ask of them the question, to which there is no answer. And after that he sits motionless and silent, and they talk as if he were not there.]

GODLEIGH
What's all this, now--no scandal in my 'ouse!

CLYST
'Tes awful peculiar--like a drame. Mr. Burlacombe 'e don't like to hear tell about drames. A guess a won't tell 'ee, arter that.

FREMAN
Out wi' it, Tim.

CLYST
'Tes powerful thirsty to-day, Mr. Godleigh.

GODLEIGH
[Drawing him some cider] Yu're all wild cat's talk, Tim; yu've a-got no tale at all.

CLYST
[Moving for the cider] Aw, indade!

GODLEIGH
No tale, no cider!

CLYST
Did ye ever year tell of Orphus?

TRUSTAFORD
What? The old vet. up to Drayleigh?

CLYST
Fegs, no; Orphus that lived in th' old time, an' drawed the bastes after un wi' his music, same as curate was tellin' the maids.

FREMAN
I've 'eard as a gipsy over to Vellacott could du that wi' 'is viddle.

CLYST
'Twas no gipsy I see'd this arternune; 'twee Orphus, down to Mr. Burlacombe's long medder; settin' there all dark on a stone among the dimsy-white flowers an' the cowflops, wi' a bird upon 'is 'ead, playin' his whistle to the ponies.

FREMAN
[Excitedly] Yu did never zee a man wi' a bird on 'is 'ead.

CLYST
Didn' I?

FREMAN
What sort o' bird, then? Yu tell me that.

TRUSTAFORD
Praaper old barndoor cock. Haw, haw!

GODLEIGH
[Soothingly] 'Tes a vairy-tale; us mustn't be tu partic'lar.

BURLACOMBE,/b> In my long medder? Where were yu, then, Tim Clyst?

CLYST
Passin' down the lane on my bike. Wonderful sorrowful-fine music 'e played. The ponies they did come round 'e--yu cud zee the tears rennin' down their chakes; 'twas powerful sad. 'E 'adn't no 'at on.

FREMAN
[Jeering] No; 'e 'ad a bird on 'is 'ead.

CLYST
[With a silencing grin] He went on playin' an' playin'. The ponies they never muved. An' all the dimsy-white flowers they waved and waved, an' the wind it went over 'em. Gav' me a funny feelin'.

GODLEIGH
Clyst, yu take the cherry bun!

CLYST
Where's that cider, Mr. Godleigh?

GODLEIGH
[Bending over the cider] Yu've a -'ad tu much already, Tim.

[The door is opened, and TAM JARLAND appears. He walks rather unsteadily; a man with a hearty jowl, and sullen, strange; epileptic-looking eyes.]

CLYST
[Pointing to JARLAND] 'Tis Tam Jarland there 'as the cargo aboard.

JARLAND
Avenin', all! [To GODLEIGH] Pinto' beer. [To JIM BERE] Avenin', Jim.

[JIM BERE looks at him and smiles.]

GODLEIGH
[Serving him after a moment's hesitation] 'Ere y'are, Tam. [To CLYST, who has taken out his paper again] Where'd yu get thiccy paper?

CLYST
[Putting down his cider-mug empty] Yure tongue du watter, don't it, Mr. Godleigh? [Holding out his mug] No zider, no poetry. 'Tis amazin' sorrowful; Shakespeare over again. "The boy stude on the burnin' deck."

FREMAN
Yu and yer yap!

CLYST
Ah! Yu wait a bit. When I come back down t'lane again, Orphus 'e was vanished away; there was naught in the field but the ponies, an' a praaper old magpie, a-top o' the hedge. I zee somethin' white in the beak o' the fowl, so I giv' a "Whisht," an' 'e drops it smart, an' off 'e go. I gets over bank an' picks un up, and here't be.

[He holds out his mug.]

BURLACOMBE
[Tartly] Here, give 'im 'is cider. Rade it yureself, ye young teasewings.

[CLYST, having secured his cider, drinks it o$. Holding up the paper to the light, he makes as if to begin, then. slides his eye round, tantalizing.]

CLYST
'Tes a pity I bain't dressed in a white gown, an' flowers in me 'air.

FREMAN
Read it, or we'll 'aye yu out o' this.

CLYST
Aw, don't 'ee shake my nerve, now!

[He begins reading with mock heroism, in his soft, high, burring voice. Thus, in his rustic accent, go the lines]

God lighted the zun in 'eaven far.
Lighted the virefly an' the star.
My 'eart 'E lighted not!

God lighted the vields fur lambs to play,
Lighted the bright strames, 'an the may.
My 'eart 'E lighted not!

God lighted the mune, the Arab's way,
He lights to-morrer, an' to-day.
My 'eart 'E 'ath vorgot!

[When he has finished, there is silence. Then TRUSTAFORD, scratching his head, speaks:]

TAUSTAFORD
'Tes amazin' funny stuff.

FREMAN
[Looking over CLYST'S shoulder] Be danged! 'Tes the curate's 'andwritin'. 'Twas curate wi' the ponies, after that.

CLYST
Fancy, now! Aw, Will Freman, an't yu bright!

FREMAN
But 'e 'adn't no bird on 'is 'ead.

CLYST
Ya-as, 'e 'ad.

JARLAND
[In a dull, threatening voice] 'E 'ad my maid's bird, this arternune. 'Ead or no, and parson or no, I'll gie 'im one for that.

FREMAN
Ah! And 'e meddled wi' my 'orses.

TRUSTAFORD
I'm thinkin' 'twas an old cuckoo bird 'e 'ad on 'is 'ead. Haw, haw!

GODLEIGH
"His 'eart She 'ath Vorgot!"

FREMAN
'E's a fine one to be tachin' our maids convirmation.

GODLEIGH
Would ye 'ave it the old Rector then? Wi' 'is gouty shoe? Rackon the maids wid rather 'twas curate; eh, Mr. Burlacombe?

BURLACOMBE
[Abruptly] Curate's a gude man.

JARLAND
[With the comatose ferocity of drink] I'll be even wi' un.

FREMAN
[Excitedly] Tell 'ee one thing--'tes not a proper man o' God to 'ave about, wi' 'is luse goin's on. Out vrom 'ere he oughter go.

BURLACOMBE
You med go further an' fare worse.

FREMAN
What's 'e duin', then, lettin' 'is wife runoff?

TRUSTAFORD
[Scratching his head] If an' in case 'e can't kape 'er, 'tes a funny way o' duin' things not to divorce 'er, after that. If a parson's not to du the Christian thing, whu is, then?

BURLACOMBE
'Tes a bit immoral-like to pass over a thing like that. Tes funny if women's gain's on's to be encouraged.

FREMAN
Act of a coward, I zay.

BURLACOMBE
The curate ain't no coward.

FREMAN
He bides in yure house; 'tes natural for yu to stand up for un; I'll wager MRS Burlacombe don't, though. My missis was fair shocked. "Will," she says, "if yu ever make vur to let me go like that, I widden never stay wi' yu," she says.

TRUSTAFORD
'Tes settin' a bad example, for zure.

BURLACOMBE
'Tes all very airy talkin'; what shude 'e du, then?

FREMAN
[Excitedly] Go over to Durford and say to that doctor: "Yu come about my missis, an' zee what I'll du to 'ee." An' take 'er 'ome an' zee she don't misbe'ave again.

CLYST
'E can't take 'er ef 'er don' want t' come--I've 'eard lawyer, that lodged wi' us, say that.

FREMAN
All right then, 'e ought to 'ave the law of 'er and 'er doctor; an' zee 'er goin's on don't prosper; 'e'd get damages, tu. But this way 'tes a nice example he'm settin' folks. Parson indade! My missis an' the maids they won't goo near the church to-night, an' I wager no one else won't, neither.

JARLAND
[Lurching with his pewter up to GODLEIGH] The beggar! I'll be even wi' un.

GODLEIGH
[Looking at him in doubt] 'Tes the last, then, Tam.

[Having received his beer, JARLAND stands, leaning against the bar, drinking.]

BURLACOMBE
[Suddenly] I don' goo with what curate's duin--'tes tiff soft 'earted; he'm a muney kind o' man altogether, wi' 'is flute an' 'is poetry; but he've a-lodged in my 'ouse this year an' mare, and always 'ad an 'elpin' 'and for every one. I've got a likin' for him an' there's an end of it.

JARLAND
The coward!

TRUSTAFORD
I don' trouble nothin' about that, Tam Jarland. [Turning to BURLACOMBE] What gits me is 'e don't seem to 'ave no zense o' what's his own praperty.

JARLAND
Take other folk's property fast enough!

[He saws the air with his empty. The others have all turned to him, drawn by the fascination that a man in liquor has for his fellow-men. The bell for church has begun to rang, the sun is down, and it is getting dusk.]

He wants one on his crop, an' one in 'is belly; 'e wants a man to take an' gie un a gude hidin zame as he oughter give 'is fly-be-night of a wife.

[STRANGWAY in his dark clothes has entered, and stands by the door, his lips compressed to a colourless line, his thin, darkish face grey-white]

Zame as a man wid ha' gi'en the doctor, for takin' what isn't his'n.

All but JARLAND have seen STRANGWAY. He steps forward, JARLAND sees him now; his jaw drops a little, and he is silent.

STRANGWAY
I came for a little brandy, Mr. Godleigh--feeling rather faint. Afraid I mightn't get through the service.

GODLEIGH
[With professional composure] Marteil's Three Star, zurr, or 'Ennessy's?

STRANGWAY
[Looking at JARLAND] Thank you; I believe I can do without, now. [He turns to go.]

[In the deadly silence, GODLEIGH touches the arm of JARLAND, who, leaning against the bar with the pewter in his hand, is staring with his strange lowering eyes straight at STRANGWAY.]

JARLAND
[Galvanized by the touch into drunken rage] Lave me be- I'll talk to un-parson or no. I'll tache un to meddle wi' my maid's bird. I'll tache un to kape 'is thievin' 'ands to 'imself.

[STRANGWAY turns again.]

CLYST
Be quiet, Tam.

JARLAND
[Never loosing STRANGWAY with his eyes--like a bull-dog who sees red] That's for one chake; zee un turn t'other, the white- livered buty! Whu lets another man 'ave 'is wife, an' never the sperit to go vor un!

BURLACOMBE
Shame, Jarland; quiet, man!

[They are all looking at STRANGWAY, who, under JARLAND'S drunken insults is standing rigid, with his eyes closed, and his hands hard clenched. The church bell has stopped slow ringing, and begun its five minutes' hurrying note.]

TRUSTAFORD
[Rising, and trying to hook his arm into JARLAND'S] Come away, Tam; yu've a-'ad to much, man.

JARLAND
[Shaking him off] Zee, 'e darsen't touch me; I might 'it un in the vase an' 'e darsen't; 'e's afraid--like 'e was o' the doctor.

[He raises the pewter as though to fling it, but it is seized by GODLEIGH from behind, and falls clattering to the floor. STRANGWAY has not moved.]

JARLAND
[Shaking his fist almost in his face] Luke at un, Luke at un! A man wi' a slut for a wife----

[As he utters the word "wife" STRANGWAY seizes the outstretched fist, and with a jujitsu movement, draws him into his clutch, helpless. And as they sway and struggle in the open window, with the false strength of fury he forces JARLAND through. There is a crash of broken glass from outside. At the sound STRANGWAY comes to himself. A look of agony passes over his face. His eyes light on JIM BERE, who has suddenly risen, and stands feebly clapping his hands. STRANGWAY rushes out.]

[Excitedly gathering at the window, they all speak at once.]

CLYST
Tam's hatchin' of yure cucumbers, Mr. Godleigh.

TRUSTAFORD
'E did crash; haw, haw!

FREMAN
'Twas a brave throw, zurely. Whu wid a' thought it?

CLYST
Tam's crawlin' out. [Leaning through window] Hello, Tam-- 'ow's t' base, old man?

FREMAN
[Excitedly] They'm all comin' up from churchyard to zee.

TRUSTAFORD
Tam du luke wonderful aztonished; haw, haw! Poor old Tam!

CLYST
Can yu zee curate? Reckon 'e'm gone into church. Aw, yes; gettin' a bit dimsy-service time. [A moment's hush.]

TRUSTAFORD
Well, I'm jiggered. In 'alf an hour he'm got to prache.

GODLEIGH
'Tes a Christian village, boys.

[Feebly, quietly, JIM BERE laughs. There is silence; but the bell is heard still ranging.]

CURTAIN.