ACT III
Scene II
 

The BURLACOMBES' high and nearly empty barn. A lantern is hung by a rope that lifts the bales of straw, to a long ladder leaning against a rafter. This gives all the light there is, save for a slender track of moonlight, slanting in from the end, where the two great doors are not quite closed. On a rude bench in front of a few remaining, stacked, square-cut bundles of last year's hay, sits TIBBY JARLAND, a bit of apple in her mouth, sleepily beating on a tambourine. With stockinged feet GLADYS, IVY, CONNIE, and MERCY, TIM CLYST, and BOBBIE JARLAND, a boy of fifteen, are dancing a truncated "Figure of Eight"; and their shadow are dancing alongside on the walls. Shoes and some apples have been thrown down close to the side door through which they have come in. Now and then IVY, the smallest and best of the dancers, ejaculates words of direction, and one of the youths grunts or breathes loudly out of the confusion of his mind. Save for this and the dumb beat and jingle of the sleepy tambourine, there is no sound. The dance comes to its end, but the drowsy TIBBY goes on beating.

MERCY
That'll du, Tibby; we're finished. Ate yore apple. [The stolid TIBBY eats her apple.]

CLYST
[In his teasing, excitable voice] Yu maids don't dance 'elf's well as us du. Bobbie 'e's a great dancer. 'E dance vine. I'm a gude dancer, meself.

GLADYS
A'n't yu conceited just?

CLYST
Aw! Ah! Yu'll give me kiss for that. [He chases, but cannot catch that slippery white figure] Can't she glimmer!

MERCY
Gladys! Up ladder!

CLYST
Yu go up ladder; I'll catch 'ee then. Naw, yu maids, don't yu give her succour. That's not vair [Catching hold of MERCY, who gives a little squeal.]

CONNIE
Mercy, don't! MRS Burlacombe'll hear. Ivy, go an' peek.

[Ivy goes to flee side door and peers through.]

CLYST
[Abandoning the chase and picking up an apple--they all have the joyous irresponsibility that attends forbidden doings] Ya-as, this is a gude apple. Luke at Tibby!

[TIBBY, overcome by drowsiness, has fallen back into the hay, asleep. GLADYS, leaning against the hay breaks into humming:]

"There cam' three dukes a-ridin', a-ridin', a-ridin',
There cam' three dukes a ridin'
With a ransy-tansy tay!"

CLYST
Us 'as got on vine; us'll get prize for our dancin'.

CONNIE
There won't be no prize if Mr. Strangway goes away. 'Tes funny 'twas MRS Strangway start us.

IVY
[From the door] 'Twas wicked to hiss him.

[A moment's hush.]

CLYST
Twasn't I.

BOBBIE
I never did.

GLADYS
Oh! Bobbie, yu did! Yu blew in my ear.

CLYST
'Twas the praaper old wind in the trees. Did make a brave noise, zurely.

MERCY
'E shuld'n' 'a let my skylark go.

CLYST
[Out of sheer contradictoriness] Ya-as, 'e shude, then. What du yu want with th' birds of the air? They'm no gude to yu.

IVY
[Mournfully] And now he's goin' away.

CLYST
Ya-as; 'tes a pity. He's the best man I ever seen since I was comin' from my mother. He's a gude man. He'em got a zad face, sure enough, though.

IVY
Gude folk always 'ave zad faces.

CLYST
I knu a gude man--'e sold pigs--very gude man: 'e 'ad a budiful bright vase like the mane. [Touching his stomach] I was sad, meself, once. 'Twas a funny scrabblin'--like feelin'.

GLADYS
If 'e go away, whu's goin' to finish us for confirmation?

CONNIE
The Rector and the old grey mare.

MERCY
I don' want no more finishin'; I'm confirmed enough.

CLYST
Ya-as; yu'm a buty.

GLADYS
Suppose we all went an' asked 'im not to go?

IVY
'Twouldn't be no gude.

CONNIE
Where's 'e goin'?

MERCY
He'll go to London, of course.

IVY
He's so gentle; I think 'e'll go to an island, where there's nothin' but birds and beasts and flowers.

CLYST
Aye! He'm awful fond o' the dumb things.

IVY
They're kind and peaceful; that's why.

CLYST
Aw! Yu see tu praaper old tom cats; they'm not to peaceful, after that, nor kind naighther.

BOBBIE
[Surprisingly] If 'e's sad, per'aps 'e'll go to 'Eaven.

IVY
Oh! not yet, Bobbie. He's tu young.

CLYST
[Following his own thoughts] Ya-as. 'Tes a funny place, tu, nowadays, judgin' from the papers.

GLADYS
Wonder if there's dancin' in 'Eaven?

IVY
There's beasts, and flowers, and waters, and 'e told us.

CLYST
Naw! There's no dumb things in 'Eaven. Jim Bere 'e says there is! 'E thinks 'is old cat's there.

IVY
Yes. [Dreamily] There's stars, an' owls, an' a man playin' on the flute. Where 'tes gude, there must be music.

CLYST
Old brass band, shuldn' wonder, like th' Salvation Army.

IVY
[Putting up her hands to an imaginary pipe] No; 'tis a boy that goes so; an' all the dumb things an' all the people goo after 'im--like this.

[She marches slowly, playing her imaginary pipe, and one by one they all fall in behind her, padding round the barn in their stockinged feet. Passing the big doors, IVY throws them open.]

An' 'tes all like that in 'Eaven.

[She stands there gazing out, still playing on her imaginary pipe. And they all stand a moment silent, staring into the moonlight.]

CLYST
'Tes a glory-be full mune to-night!

IVY
A goldie-cup--a big one. An' millions o' little goldie-cups on the floor of 'Eaven.

MERCY
Oh! Bother 'Eaven! Let's dance "Clapperclaws"! Wake up, Tibby!

GLADYS
Clapperelaws, clapperclaws! Come on, Bobbie--make circle!

CLYST
Clapperclaws! I dance that one fine.

IVY
[Taking the tambourine] See, Tibby; like this. She hums and beats gently, then restores the tambourine to the sleepy TIBBY, who, waking, has placed a piece of apple in her mouth.

CONNIE
'Tes awful difficult, this one.

IVY
[Illustrating] No; yu just jump, an' clap yore 'ands. Lovely, lovely!

CLYST
Like ringin' bells! Come ahn!

[TIBBY begins her drowsy beating, IVY hums the tune; they dance, and their shadows dance again upon the walls. When she has beaten but a few moments on the tambourine, TIBBY is overcome once more by sleep and falls back again into her nest of hay, with her little shoed feet just visible over the edge of the bench. Ivy catches up the tambourine, and to her beating and humming the dancers dance on.]

[Suddenly GLADYS stops like a wild animal surprised, and cranes her neck towards the aide door.]

CONNIE
[Whispering] What is it?

GLADYS
[Whispering] I hear--some one comin' across the yard.

[She leads a noiseless scamper towards the shoes. BOBBIE JARLAND shins up the ladder and seizes the lantern. Ivy drops the tambourine. They all fly to the big doors, and vanish into the moonlight, pulling the door nearly to again after them.]

[There is the sound of scrabbling at the hitch of the side door, and STRANGWAY comes into the nearly dark barn. Out in the night the owl is still hooting. He closes the door, and that sound is lost. Like a man walking in his sleep, he goes up to the ladder, takes the rope in his hand, and makes a noose. He can be heard breathing, and in the darkness the motions of his hands are dimly seen, freeing his throat and putting the noose round his neck. He stands swaying to and fro at the foot of the ladder; then, with a sigh, sets his foot on it to mount. One of the big doors creaks and opens in the wind, letting in a broad path of moonlight.]

[STRANGWAY stops; freeing his neck from the noose, he walks quickly up the track of moonlight, whitened from head to foot, to close the doors.]

[The sound of his boots on the bare floor has awakened TIBBY JARLAND. Struggling out of her hay nest she stands staring at his whitened figure, and bursts suddenly into a wail.]

TIBBY
O-oh! Mercy! Where are yu? I'm frightened! I'm frightened! O-oooo!

STRANGWAY
[Turning--startled] Who's that? Who is it?

TIBBY
O-oh! A ghosty! Oo-ooo!

STRANGWAY
[Going to her quickly] It's me, Tibby--Tib only me!

TIBBY
I seed a ghosty.

STRANGWAY
[Taking her up] No, no, my bird, you didn't! It was me.

TIBBY
[Burying her face against him] I'm frighted. It was a big one. [She gives tongue again] O-o-oh!

STRANGWAY
There, there! It's nothing but me. Look!

TIBBY
No. [She peeps out all the same.]

STRANGWAY
See! It's the moonlight made me all white. See! You're a brave girl now?

TIBBY
[Cautiously] I want my apple.

[She points towards her nest. STRANGWAY carries her there, picks up an apple, and gives it her. TIBBY takes a bite.]

TIBBY
I want any tambourine.

STRANGWAY
[Giving her the tambourine, and carrying her back into the' track of moonlight] Now we're both ghosties! Isn't it funny?

TABBY
[Doubtfully] Yes.

STRANGWAY
See! The moon's laughing at us! See? Laugh then!

[TABBY, tambourine in one hand and apple in the other, smiles stolidly. He sets her down on the ladder, and stands, holding her level With him.]

TABBY
[Solemnly] I'se still frightened.

STRANGWAY
No! Full moon, Tibby! Shall we wish for it?

TABBY
Full mune.

STRANGWAY
Moon! We're wishing for you. Moon, moon!

TIBBY
Mune, we're wishin' for yu!

STRANGWAY
What do, you wish it to be?

TIBBY
Bright new shillin'!

STRANGWAY
A face.

TIBBY
Shillin', a shillin'!

STRANGWAY
[Taking out a shilling and spinning it so that it falls into her pinafore] See! Your wish comes true.

TIBBY
Oh! [Putting the shilling in her mouth] Mune's still there!

STRANGWAY
Wish for me, Tibby!

TIBBY
Mune. I'm wishin' for yu!

STRANGWAY
Not yet!

TIBBY
Shall I shake my tambouline?

STRANGWAY
Yes, shake your tambouline.

TIBBY
[Shaking her tambourine] Mune, I'm shaken' at yu.

[STRANGWAY lays his hand suddenly on the rope, and swings it up on to the beam.]

TIBBY
What d'yu du that for?

STRANGWAY
To put it out of reach. It's better----

TIBBY
Why is it better? [She stares up at him.]

STRANGWAY
Come along, Tibby! [He carries her to the big doors, and sets her down] See! All asleep! The birds, and the fields, and the moon!

TIBBY
Mune, mune, we're wishing for yu!

STRANGWAY
Send her your love, and say good-night.

TIBBY
[Blowing a kiss] Good-night, mune!

[From the barn roof a little white dove's feather comes floating down in the wind. TIBBY follows it with her hand, catches it, and holds it up to him.]

TIBBY
[Chuckling] Luke. The mune's sent a bit o' love!

STRANGWAY
[Taking the feather] Thank you, Tibby! I want that bit o' love. [Very faint, comes the sound of music] Listen!

TIBBY
It's Miss Willis, playin' on the pianny!

STRANGWAY
No; it's Love; walking and talking in the world.

TIBBY
[Dubiously] Is it?

STRANGWAY
[Pointing] See! Everything coming out to listen! See them, Tibby! All the little things with pointed ears, children, and birds, and flowers, and bunnies; and the bright rocks, and--men! Hear their hearts beating! And the wind listening!

TIBBY
I can't hear--nor I can't see!

STRANGWAY
Beyond----[To himself] They are--they must be; I swear they are! [Then, catching sight of TIBBY'S amazed eyes] And now say good-bye to me.

TIBBY
Where yu goin'?

STRANGWAY
I don't know, Tibby.

VOICE OF MERCY
[Distant and cautious] Tibby! Tibby! Where are yu?

STRANGWAY
Mercy calling; run to her!

[TIBBY starts off, turns back and lifts her face. He bends to kiss her, and flinging her arms round his neck, she gives him a good hug. Then, knuckling the sleep out of her eyes, she runs.]

[STRANGWAY stands, uncertain. There is a sound of heavy footsteps; a man clears his throat, close by.]

STRANGWAY
Who's that?

CREMER
Jack Cremer. [The big man's figure appears out of the shadow of the barn] That yu, zurr?

STRANGWAY
Yes, Jack. How goes it?

CREMER
'Tes empty, zurr. But I'll get on some'ow.

STRANGWAY
You put me to shame.

CREMER
No, zurr. I'd be killin' meself, if I didn' feel I must stick it, like yu zaid.

[They stand gazing at each other in the moonlight.]

STRANGWAY
[Very low] I honour you.

CREMER
What's that? [Then, as STRANGWAY does not answer] I'll just be walkin'--I won' be gain' 'ome to-night. 'Tes the full mune-- lucky.

STRANGWAY
[Suddenly] Wait for me at the crossroads, Jack. I'll come with you. Will you have me, brother?

CREMER
Sure!

STRANGWAY
Wait, then.

CREMER
Aye, zurr.

[With his heavy tread CREMER passes on. And STRANGWAY leans against the lintel of the door, looking at the moon, that, quite full and golden, hangs not far above the straight horizon, where the trees stand small, in a row.]

STRANGWAY
[Lifting his hand in the gesture of prayer] God, of the moon and the sun; of joy and beauty, of loneliness and sorrow--give me strength to go on, till I love every living thing!

[He moves away, following JACK CREMER. The full moon shines; the owl hoots; and some one is shaking TIBBY'S tambourine.]