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Join date: Jun 12, 2022


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‘No, no, she’s not. She knows I’m goin’ to be married. Oh, she knows that, but what she said was, if . . . if I could come for a while, daily like, until the children got a bit bigger and used to somebody else, because well, as she said, they were fond of me, the bairns. And she would arrange for Bessie to have my room and sleep next to them at night and I needn’t be there until eight in the morning, and I could leave at half-six after I got them to bed’

He swung away from her, his arms raised above his head, his hands flapping towards the low roof, and he flapped them until he reached the end of the room and turned about and once more was standing in front of her. And then, thrusting his head forward, he said, ‘Look, you’re going to be married, you’re going to start married life the way we mean to go on. You’ll be me wife, an’ I just don’t want you from half-past six or seven at night till eight in the morning, I want you here all the time. I want you here when I come in at dinner-time an’ at tea-time.’

‘She’ll give me three shillings a week. It’s not to be sneezed at, it would nearly pay the rent.’

‘Look. Look, we’ll manage. A few more games like last night, even if nothing bigger, and I can spit in the eye of old Kean . . . and your master and mistress.’

Don’t talk like that!’ She was indignant now. ‘Spittin’ in their eye! They’ve been good to me, better than anybody in me life. I’ve been lucky. Why, I must be the best-treated servant in this town, or in any other. She’s kept me in clothes. And don’t forget—’ she was now wagging her head at him— ‘when things were rough a few years ago with their damned strikes and such, she gave me a loaded basket every week-end. And your own belly would have been empty many a time if I hadn’t have brought it. Meat, flour, sugar . . .’

‘All right, all right; have you got to be grateful for a little kindness all your life? Anyway, it was nothing to them. The only time that kind of charity has any meaning is when the giver has to do without themselves. She likely throws as much in the midden every week.’

‘We haven’t got a midden, as you call it.’


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