Read CHAPTER II - THE RETURNED NATIVE of The Torch and Other Tales, free online book, by Eden Phillpotts, on

Of course, every human being did ought to be interesting to their fellow creatures, and yet, such is the weakness of human nature, that we all know folk so cruel dull in mind and body that an instinct rises in us to flee from ’em at sight and never go where there’s a chance of running across ’em. It ain’t Christian, but everybody knows such deadly characters none the less, and you might say without straining charity, that Mrs. Pedlar was such a one.

Being a widow she had that triumphant fact to show how somebody had found her interesting enough to wed, and there’s no doubt, by God’s all-seeing goodness, the dull people do find each other out and comfort one another.

Jane Pedlar couldn’t have been particular dreadful to Noah Pedlar else he wouldn’t have married her and stopped with her, for they was thirty years wed before he dropped, and though she was too dull to have any childer, or ever larn to cook a mutton chop so as a man could eat it with pleasure, yet she held him. He didn’t leave much money, because he never earned much, yet he did a pretty good stroke for Jane before he died, and got his employer, Farmer Bewes, to let Jane bide safe in her cottage for her lifetime.

There weren’t nothing written between master and man; but Nicholas Bewes, who owned the place, came to see Noah Pedlar on his death-bed, and when Noah put up a petition for Mrs. Pedlar to be allowed to bide rent free to her end, Bewes, who was a bit on the sentimental side and minded that the old chap had worked for him and his father before him for more than half a century, promised that Jane might have the use of the house for her life.

Noah Pedlar had never rose to be farmer’s right-hand man or anything like that. He was a humble creature, faithful unto death, but no use away from hedge-tacking and such rough jobs; yet he’d done his duty according to his limits, however narrow they might be, and so he got his way on his death-bed, and, in the sudden surprise that such a landmark as Noah was going home, Farmer Bewes gave his promise.

But that was twenty year agone, and Nicholas Bewes had grown oldish himself now, and Jane was thought to be nearer eighty than seventy by her neighbours. Friends she had not, except for Mrs. Cobley; but there’s no doubt, though a much younger woman, Mary Cobley had a sort of feeling for Jane; and there was Milly Boon also Jane’s orphan niece, who lived along with her and kept house for her. She was a good friend too.

The adventure began, you may say, when a returned native came back to Little Silver, and ’twas Mary Cobley’s son Jack who did so.

He’d gone to sea when he was fifteen, but kept in touch with his folk and left the sea and found work in the West Indies and bided there for five-and-twenty years. And now he came back, brown as a berry and ugly as need be. At forty you might say Jack Cobley couldn’t be beat for plainness; and yet, after all, I’ve seen better-looking men that was uglier, if you understand me, because, though his countenance put you in mind of an old church gargoyle, yet it was kindly and benevolent in its hideousness, and he had good, trustful eyes; and, to the thinking mind, a man’s expression matters more than the shape of his mouth or the cut of his nose.

Jack hadn’t much to say about his adventures, for he was a very quiet man and better liked to list than talk; but he didn’t make no splash when he came back and he was content to settle with his mother and till her little vegetable patch.

He’d stand a drink at the ‘Man and Horse’ public-house and, if he felt himself among friends, he’d open out a bit and tell stories of the land where he had lived and worked; but he proved to be the retiring sort and hadn’t got anything to say about money. In fact, it didn’t seem to be a subject that interested him over much and there was nothing in his apparel, or manner of life, or general outlook that seemed to show as he’d done very well in foreign parts.

So the people came to the natural conclusion that if he’d made any sort of pile, it was a small one, while some folk went to extremes and reckoned that Jack had come back to his mother without a bean, and was content to live on her and share her annuity. Because Mrs. Cobley, though her husband left little beyond his cottage, which was his own, took one hundred and fifty pounds per annum for life under the will of the last lady of the Manor of Little Silver.

Mary had served her ladyship as maid for fifteen years before she took Cobley, and she was a tower of strength to that important woman and had come to be generously remembered according.

So Jack was a mystery, in a manner of speaking. He bought himself a horse, and a good one, and was very fond of riding round about over the moor and joining in a meet of foxhounds sometimes; but that was his only pleasure; and his mother, when a woman here and there asked if her son was minded to wed, would answer that she’d never heard him unfold his feelings on that matter, and reckoned he’d got no intentions towards the women.

“He’s so much impressed by his own ugliness,” Mary Cobley would tell them, “that he never would rise to the thought of axing a female to take him; though I tell the man that the better sort of woman ain’t prone to pick a husband, like a bird picks a cherry, for the outside.”

Which was true, of course, for modesty might be said to be Jack’s strong suit, and he couldn’t abear the thought of inflicting his ugly mug on a nice young woman, which was the only sort of woman he felt he’d got any use for.

Then, after he’d been home six months, he found his parent in tears one night, and she explained the fatal situation that had arose with respect to her neighbour, Mrs. Pedlar.

“Poor Jane be up against it,” she said. “Things have come to a climax in that quarter at last and, by all accounts, she’s got to leave her lifelong home. And God judge Nicholas Bewes, for he’s doing a thing that will put him on the wrong side of the Books.”

Well, Jack had called on Mrs. Pedlar, of course, her being his mother’s friend; but, like most other people, he’d found the poor woman parlous uninteresting. Her niece, however, was different, for in Milly Boon the folk granted you could find nought but beauty and good temper, and remarkable patience for a young woman. She was a lovely piece, with pretty gold hair and high complexion, and grey, bright eyes. Her mouth was rose-red and tolerable small, but always ready for a smile, and she was a slim, active creature, a towser for work, yet full of the joy of life and ready enough for a mite of pleasure if it came her way.

A good few courted her, but she had no eye for ’em, though civil to all; but now a desperate man was in the market, and he showed such a lot of determination over her and was so cruel set upon Milly that folk said he’d be bound to have his way and why not?

’Twas Farmer Bewes his son Richard who wanted afore all else to have Milly to wife, and it looked right and reasonable, because he was the handsomest man in Little Silver, or ten miles round for that matter; and folk agreed they would make a mighty fine pair. Dicky was a flaxen chap, too, and shaved clean and had a beautiful face without a doubt. He stood six feet two inches, and was finely put together. But there was a black mark against him where the women were concerned, and he’d done a few things he didn’t ought; because girls went silly over him.

An only child was Richard, and the apple of his father’s eye, and spoilt from his cradlehood by both parents; and so, when he wanted Milly Boon, they didn’t see why not, though she was a pauper, because his father felt that it might be a good thing for Dick to wed a wife and settle down.

But it takes two to a job of that sort, and Milly hung fire, much to the misery of young Bewes. He spared no pains in his courting, and told her how she was making an old man of him before his time and robbing him of his sleep, and his appetite, and his wish to live and so on; but she knew very well indeed he’d said all that and a lot more to other maidens, and she felt, deep down in her nature, he wasn’t the right one for her, despite his fine appearance and education. For he was a clever man and had been taught knowledge at a Secondary School.

So things stood when Mary Cobley broke her sad tale to her son, while he sat and sucked his pipe and listened on a winter evening, with the wind puffing the peat smoke from the fire into the room off and again.

“’Tis like this,” she said. “Farmer’s hard up, or so he says, and wants to sell Mrs. Pedlar’s cottage over her head. But there’s one way out and only one. Of course, Bewes be a lot too crafty to put it in words; but he’s let it soak into Jane’s mind very clever that if Milly Boon was to see her way to take Richard Bewes, then all would be well; but if she cannot rise to it, he’s cruel afraid he must sell.”

“And why for should Milly Boon take Richard Bewes?” asked Jack.

“First, because he loves her with all his heart, I believe, and it would be a natural thing, them being the finest young man and woman in the place; and second, because everything points for it,” declared Mrs. Cobley. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say Milly wouldn’t have come to it herself given patience in the man, for he’s a fine, ornamental chap and would make a husband for a woman to be proud of. Besides, Milly has got nought but herself to offer. She’s dependent on Jane for the clothes on her back, so Bewes would be a lot higher than she might ever have hoped to rise. She ain’t the only pebble on the beach even as a good-looker.”

“She can’t take him if she don’t love him, however,” said Jack.

But Mrs. Cobley didn’t set much store on that.

“Oh, yes, she could,” the old woman replied. “Where there’s respect, love often follows. And there’s Jane to be remembered. Jane’s been a good aunt to Milly and, in my opinion, the girl ought to see her duty and her pleasure go together, and wed young Bewes.”

“And, if she don’t?” asked Mr. Cobley.

“Then Jane’s in the street and it will be her death, because at her age you can’t transplant her. You hook her out of that nice little house and she’ll wilt away like a flower and very soon die of it.”

Jack said no more, for he seldom wasted words, but he turned the matter over in his mind and took occasion to see Jane Pedlar a few days after and find out if what his mother had said was true.

“Because, ma’am,” he said; “such things sound a thought contrary to religion and justice in my mind.”

“They be,” admitted Jane. “They be clean contrary to justice and religion both; but justice and religion are got so weak in Little Silver, that nothing don’t surprise me.”

Well, Jack was all for caution, and he said but little. He ordained, however, to look into the problem on his mother’s account, and no better man could have done it. His first thought was whether farmer might not be reasonable.

“Maybe the maiden’s only holding off the young man as maidens will, and be the right one for him after all,” he said.

“Maybe ’tis so,” his mother replied, “but meantime poor dear Jane Pedlar be suffering far too much for an old woman.”

So Jack, he takes occasion to have a sight of young Bewes. They met riding to hounds together, and though Richard Bewes counted himself a good many sizes bigger and more important than the returned native, he was affable and friendly and rather pleased Jack by his opinions and his good sportsmanship.

But Cobley knew very well there’s a sort of men very sporting in the open among their neighbours and very much the reverse when they are out of sight; and he also knew there’s a sort very frank and honest to their fellow men, but very much the reverse to their fellow women. So he just took stock and had speech with Richard off and on and heard the gossip and figured up Dick pretty well.

“I see the manner of man he is,” he told Mrs. Cobley, “and I judge that if he had a strong and sensible partner a woman with her head screwed on the right way she could handle him all right and keep him decent and straight. But she must be a woman of character who will win his respect and keep his affection a woman who’ll love him very well and serve him faithfully, but stand no messing about, nor any sort of nonsense. So the question rises, be Milly Boon that sort of woman?”

His mother didn’t know.

“She’s a lovely creature,” said Mary, “and a good woman and faithful to her aunt, and that’s all I know about her.”

“Then, for your sake, I’ll look deeper into it,” Jack promised, and done so according.

He went in for a dish of tea once and again, much to Mrs. Pedlar’s astonishment, for ’twas a novelty to have a male come in her house; but Jack took it all very pleasant and heard her wrongs and condoled with her sufferings and much hoped that things might get themselves righted and Farmer Bewes be honest and keep his promise to the dead.

And meantime, he took stock of Milly Boon, and, after his first amazement at her beauty and her lovely voice, and beseeching eyes, he studied her character. And, after due thought, he came to the conclusion that, though in his opinion a very beautiful nature belonged to Milly, and she was not only lovely, but of a gracious and gentle spirit, yet he couldn’t feel she was built to get the whip-hand of a man like Dicky Bewes.

He was properly sorry for all parties that it had to be so, but after a bit of study and thought over Milly he concluded she was in her right not to take young Bewes, because no such match would be like to pay her in the long run.

“She wants a very different man from Dicky,” he told his mother, “and though, such is her fine character, I’m sure she’d like to do all in her power for Mrs. Pedlar, yet to ask her to put a rope round her neck and douse her light for evermore, married to a man she couldn’t love, be a thought out of reason in my view.”

And Mrs. Cobley said perhaps it might be.

There was a fortnight to run yet before Nicholas Bewes launched his thunderbolt on Mrs. Pedlar and bade her be gone, and during them days two men were very busy one for himself and t’other for other people.

Dicky Bewes, he fought to wear down Milly and bring her into his arms, and Jack Cobley, he went into calculations and took stock of the cottage in dispute and finally came to conclusions with himself on the subject. He felt that if only a personable man could come along and win the girl’s affection, ’twould put her in a strong position, for he was jealous on her account by now and wished her well; but nobody round about troubled to court Milly Boon after the people knew that Dick Bewes was making the running, for they felt he’d win her sure enough if he had patience to hold on.

So, as there was none else to hope for as might come forward and save the situation for Jane Pedlar, Jack resolved that he was called upon for the task.

He larned the market value of the cottage and then, three days afore the thunderbolt was timed to fall, he went up over to Nicholas Bewes and had a tell with the man.

For two mortal hours did they sit together smoking their pipes, and turning over the situation, and Bewes was bound to grant, when Jack was gone, that the chap possessed a lot of sound sense, though mouth-speech weren’t his strong point, and it took him a deal of time to make his meaning clear. But none the less he could do so, when a listener was content not to hurry him, and Nicholas Bewes listened very patient, the more willingly because what Jack had to say interested him a lot.

He was a thought put about first, however, because Cobley didn’t mince words.

“’Tis like this, if I may say so,” he began. “Your son’s wishful to marry Milly Boon a good bit against her will, by all accounts; but you be on his side, naturally, and want to see him happy, so you’ve put a loaded pistol to old Mrs. Pedlar’s head and told her if her niece don’t take your boy, she’s got to quit her home.”

Bewes stared.

“What business might that be of yours, Jack Cobley?” he asked, and the visitor explained.

“On the face of it, none,” he said; “but I wouldn’t have come afore you only to say I disapproved, because you’d say my opinion didn’t matter a damn. So I’ve come because I’m wishful to be in it and let you know my right so to be. There’s the cottage and there’s your son, and if you think that Milly Boon be the right one for your Richard, then I’m not saying a little judicious pressure ain’t reasonable. But, to pleasure my mother, who’s very addicted to old Mrs. Pedlar, I’ve looked into that question and, to say it kindly, I may tell you that Milly Boon is not suited to your Richard.”

“You’ve a right to your opinion,” answered Bewes; “and I’ve an equal right not to care one damn for your opinion as you say.”

“Just so,” admitted Jack. “Not for a moment do my opinion in itself matter to anybody, Farmer; but if I’m so positive sure that I’m right, then it becomes a duty to voice myself, though no man likes voicing himself less than me. And, because I’m so sure, after due consideration of the pair of ’em, I be come afore you to make suggestions.”

“Perhaps you want her yourself, Jack?” suggested Nicholas, pulling his grey beard and shutting one eye.

“Me!” laughed Cobley, much amused. “Do a toad want a bird of Paradise? No, no. She’s a lovely piece, and she’s got a kindly nature; but she’s the humble, gentle sort, and what your son wants, if he’s going to be a successful husband and not a failure, is a woman who’ll be his equal in strength of character and hold her own. He’s wilful, to say it kindly, and he’s fond of the girls, and no doubt, with such a handsome face as his, he finds they be easy prey. You know him better than I do and you very well know if he’s to be worthy of you and Little Silver he must have a strong partner to guide him right.”

Nicholas laughed.

“You’ve given a lot of thought to it, I see,” he said.

“Nothing to do else for the minute,” answered Jack. “And I’m not saying a word against your Richard. He’s pleased with himself and he sits a horse so amazing fine that it’s a treat to look at him, because I understand such things; but being of a mind that Milly Boon ain’t the perfect partner for him, I’m here in friendship. Mind you, I wouldn’t have thrust in if I hadn’t happened to find out the girl’s got no use for him. If she wanted him, ’twould be different and I should have kept my mouth shut, of course; but she do not, and if she takes him it will be for one reason only to save her aunt. And that ain’t going to lay the foundation of a happy marriage is it? So I’ve ordained to chip in. And even so, I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t a firm proposition to make.”

“What proposition can you make, Jack?” asked Mr. Bewes, loading his pipe again. “My son be sure as death he’s found the right one at last, and he may be so right in his opinion as you. And, be it as it will, how are you going to come between me and Dicky?”

“If your own conscience don’t, I cannot,” allowed the other. “But, it’s like this. Supposing, first, you grant as an honest man it would be an ugly thing to sacrifice a harmless woman to your boy’s passion. Then you say, if I ain’t going to gain no political advantage out of leaving Mrs. Pedlar rent-free in a valuable house, where do I come in?

“Well, you rich men are pushed as often for money as the poor ones. I know that, and a man may have fifty thousand behind him and yet be bothered for a couple of hundred. And so I say this. Let any match between Dick and Milly go forward clean and not dirty. If they be meant for each other, let him win her fair, as a decent man wants to win a woman, or not at all. That won’t do him no hurt. And, meantime, since it may be a thorn in your side having Mrs. Pedlar there, I’ll buy the house. There’s nothing on your conscience that can forbid you to sell, and you can leave the old woman’s fate to me.”

Mr. Bewes didn’t answer very quick. He looked at Jack and his mind moved fast, though his tongue did not.

At length, however, he spoke. He’d felt surprised to hear Jack was a moneyed man, for the general conclusion ran that he’d come back with nought; then, being hopeful, Mr. Bewes jumped to the other extreme and guessed perhaps that Cobley was rich after all and keeping his savings hid.

“Of course,” he said, “I’ve thought of that, and there’s more than one would make me a price to-morrow if I felt minded to sell.”

“I’m sure there is,” answered Jack. “It’s a very handy little property if it was attended to.”

“And more than an acre of good ground to it.”

“Just over an acre ground that be run to waste for years, but could be made good.”

“And what would you feel like paying, Jack, if I was to see your point about my boy?” asked Bewes.

“You do see that point, master,” answered Cobley, “because you’re clever and straight, else you wouldn’t stand where you do. When you was young, you wouldn’t have drove no woman into a corner for love, nor yet married her on a sacrifice. And I dare swear, if Dicky saw it like that, he’d be a lot too proud to carry on, but start again and start fair. As to what I’ll pay, if you’re a seller, the price lies with you.”

“I’ve thought to auction it,” answered Mr. Bewes, which was true, because he had done so.

Jack nodded.

“I’d like none the less to buy it at a fair figure and save you the trouble. You’ll be knowing, I expect, what would satisfy you in money down.”

Then they talked for another solid hour, farmer trying to get Jack to name a price so as he might run it up, and Jacky determined not to do so.

In despair, at last, Nicholas said ’twas Cobley’s for seven hundred pounds, well knowing the price ran about three hundred too high. In fact, Jack told him so; and then Bewes fetched his whisky bottle and they went at it again; and then they closed, and a good bit to farmer’s astonishment, Cobley fetched a cheque-book out of his pocket and wrote a cheque on the spot as though to the manner born.

Four hundred and seventy-five pounds he paid, and as Nicholas Bewes confessed to Jack, ’twas only the money in his pocket put enough iron into him to stand up to his son, afterwards.

But what Nicholas might have to say to Richard didn’t trouble Cobley over much. He got his receipt and Bewes promised the deed should be drawn when he saw his lawyer to Moreton next market-day.

So they parted tolerable good friends, and it was understood between ’em that Jack should tell Mrs. Pedlar how things stood at his own time and nobody should be told who the purchaser was.

It happened, however, that he did not tell Jane after all, for, going down from Bewes in the red of the sunset, Jack fell in with Milly Boon, whose gait was set for the farm. He passed her a good evening, then marked a world of woe in her face and the smudge of tears upon it, clear to see in the last of the light, so he bade her stand a moment and tell him why for she was going up the hill.

“’Tis private business, Mr. Cobley,” she said, making to pass on; but he heard by the flutter in her speech she’d been weeping, and in his slow way held her back while he thought it out. He was got to know her tolerable well by now, so he commanded her to bide and listen.

“You don’t pass, Milly,” he said, “till you tell me why for you be going.”

“To have tea along with Mrs. Bewes,” she answered.

He didn’t believe that, however.

“’Tis too late for tea,” he said. “You’ll be going up to tell Bewes you’ll take his son if he’ll let your aunt bide.”

She didn’t answer.

“So you can just turn round again and march home,” went on Jack, “because the case is altered. ’Twas a very fine thought and worthy of you in a manner of speaking, Milly; but you can console yourself with your good intentions now; because, in a word, the house is sold, and it don’t belong to farmer no more.”

She stared and shook, and he touched her elbow and turned her back to the village.

“Go home and tell Mrs. Pedlar the house be sold,” ordered Jack. “And you tell her also I’ve heard of the man that’s bought it. She won’t be called to do nought but stop there rent-free as before; and the man’s pleased with his property and will work up the garden for his own purposes and mend the leaks and put on some fresh paint come spring.”

Milly was too staggered to grasp it all at once, and by the time she began to see the blessed thing that was happening, Jack had gone.

So she went home light-foot with her sorrows beginning to fade and her heart beating happy again. And Mrs. Pedlar praised her God far into the night, though ’twas a full week before she could grasp the truth and wake care-free of a morning.

But she heard nought of the purchaser, and the mystery grew, because Mrs. Cobley heard nought either; and then there come a nice open sort of morning with just a promise of another spring in the air, and when Milly looked out of her chicket window, who should she see in their ruinous cabbage patch but Jack with his tools going leisurely to work to clean the dirty ground.

She told her aunt, and they talked a bit and come to a conclusion afore they asked him in to have a bite of breakfast.

“’Tis clear he’s jobbing for the owner,” said Jane Pedlar. “No doubt he’ll very soon put a different face on the ground, such an orderly man as him, and such a lover of the soil; but I’m sorry in a way.”

“Why for?” asked her niece. “A nicer man than Mr. Cobley don’t walk.”

“A very nice man indeed if it wasn’t for his face,” admitted the old woman, “and I’ve got to like even his face, because of his gentle and doggy eyes; but I’m sorry, because this shows only too clear the general opinion touching Mr. Cobley is the right one.”

“And what’s the general opinion?” inquired Milly.

“That he’s come home so poor as he went off,” answered Jane Pedlar. “Because if he’d saved a little money he wouldn’t be doing rough work for another man.”

Milly saw the force of that and said no more at the time.

And then Cobley spoke to his mother one night and owned to a gathering dejection.

“I like to see a job through,” he said, “and I’m casting around pretty far and wide for a man that might be good enough for that girl. She’s a beautiful and simple character, in my opinion, and her heart’s as fine as her face; but it won’t do for her to get a fellow who is reckless and too fond of himself. She must have the right one, who puts her first, and though there’s a few decent chaps in the running, now they know Dicky Bewes is down and out, yet I wouldn’t say there’s just the chap anybody would choose for her.”

Well, Mrs. Cobley looked at him with a good bit of astonishment, for such modesty she couldn’t believe ever dwelt in a male. She knew, under promise of secrecy, that Jack was a tolerable rich man; but he’d bade her not breathe the fact.

And Mary Cobley knew something else also, which she couldn’t very well tell her son till now, so she’d kept her secret; but when she heard as he was busy finding somebody as might be good enough for Milly Boon, the woman in her broke loose and she said a thing she’d never said afore.

“Of all zanies, you be the biggest in the parish,” said Mrs. Cobley; “and however you had the wits to win a fortune and make hard-headed men in the West Indies believe in you, I’m gormed if I know, Jack!”

He was put about at that.

“Would you say as I didn’t ought to meddle in her affairs no more?” he asked. “You see, I’ve comed to feel very kindly to the lovely creature, and I’d work my fingers to the bone to find the man worthy of her; but if I’m too pushing ”

“Pushing!” she said. “God’s light! You be a lot too retreating, Jack, and always was. Because you’ve got a face full of character, unlike other men’s, why for should you suppose ’twas a bug-a-boo to frighten the woman? Don’t your heart look out of your eyes, you silly man? How old are you?”

“Forty,” answered Jack.

“And she’s twenty-five, ain’t she?”

“Who?” asked Jack.

“You did out to be put in an asylum, though, my son,” said Mrs. Cobley. “Milly Boon is the woman I’m aiming at, and it may or may not interest you to larn that she loves you better than anything on earth you you she loves, you gert tomfool!”

Jack looked as if he’d been struck by lightning and his pipe fell out of his mouth and broke on the hearth.

“’Tis most any odds you’re mistook,” he said, with a voice that showed what a shock he’d suffered. “Such things be contrary to nature.”

“Nought’s contrary to nature where a woman’s concerned,” answered Mrs. Cobley as one who knew. “They be higher than nature, and a young woman in love defies all things but her Maker if not Him.”

“I’ll see,” said Jack; and he went to see instanter.

Mrs. Pedlar was keeping her bed for the moment with a tissick to the tubes, and when the man got there he found Milly busy over the ancient woman’s supper. And, as he told her, he was glad she happed to be alone, though sorry for the reason.

And then in his direct, queer way he said:

“What’s this I hear tell from my mother, Milly? She says you be got to love me?”

And something in his great, hungry eyes, and the very words in his question made it so plain as need be to Milly Boon that Jack was more than glad to hear the news. And she went up to him and kissed him; and then he very near throttled her.

’Twas a most happy and restful affair altogether; and when, about two hours after, poor Mrs. Pedlar croaked out over their heads for her soup, and axed Milly where she was got to be, the maiden cried out:

“I be in Jack Cobley’s arms, Aunt Jane, and ’tis him owns the house, and us be going to get married direckly minute!”