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
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.
Well, TIBBY JARLAND, what've yu come for, then? Glass o'
[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?
'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.]
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.
Wi' all respect, m'm, I knows the vally of it to yourn,
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?
I shouldn' never presume, m'm, to know a lady.
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
Don't talk nonsense, Godleigh; and mind what I say,
because I mean it.
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.]
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.
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.]
Evening, Mr. Trustaford. [To BURLACOMBE]
Burlacombe, tell your wife that duck she sent up was in hard
[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!
TRUSTAFORD [Sitting on the bench dose to the bar] Drop o' whisky,
BURLACOMBE [A taciturn, alien, yellowish man, in a worn soft hat]
What's wise, Godleigh? Drop o' cider.
Nuse? There's never no nuse in this 'ouse. Aw, no! Not
wi' my permission. [In imitation] This is a Christian village.
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!
Avenin', Will; what's yure glass o' trouble?
Drop o' eider, clove, an' dash o' gin. There's blood in the
Ah! We'll 'ave fine weather now, with the full o' the
Dust o' wind an' a drop or tu, virst, I reckon. 'Earl t'
nuse about curate an' 'is wife?
No, indeed; an' don't yu tell us. We'm Christians 'ere in
'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.
No, no; that's, not sense--a man to say that. I'll not
'ear that against a man that bides in my 'ouse.
'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.
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!
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
[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.]
What's all this, now--no scandal in my 'ouse!
'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
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.
I've 'eard as a gipsy over to Vellacott could du that wi'
'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.
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
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
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."
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 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.
'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.
'E can't take 'er ef 'er don' want t' come--I've 'eard
lawyer, that lodged wi' us, say that.
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
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.
[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.
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,
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.
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!
[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
[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.]
Tam's hatchin' of yure cucumbers, Mr. Godleigh.