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MRS GASCOIGNE: Well, I s'd ha' thought thy belly 'ud a browt thee whoam afore this.
JOE sits on sofa without answering.
Doesn't ter want no dinner?
JOE (looking up): I want it if the' is ony.
MRS GASCOIGNE: An' if the' isna, tha can go be out? Tha talks large, my fine jockey! (She puts a newspaper on the table; on it a plate and his dinner.) Wheer dost reckon ter's bin?
JOE: I've bin ter th' office for my munny.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Tha's niver bin a' this while at th' office.
JOE: They kep' me ower an hour, an' then gen me nowt.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Gen thee nowt! Why, how do they ma'e that out? It's a wik sin' tha got hurt, an' if a man wi' a broken arm canna ha' his fourteen shillin' a week accident pay, who can, I s'd like to know?
JOE: They'll gie me nowt, whether or not.
MRS GASCOIGNE: An' for why, prithee?
JOE (does not answer for some time; then, sullenly): They reckon I niver got it while I wor at work.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Then where did ter get it, might I ax? I'd think they'd like to lay it onto me.
JOE: Tha talks like a fool, Mother.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Tha looks like one, me lad.
She has given him his dinner; he begins to eat with a fork.
Here, hutch up, gammy-leg--gammy-arm.
He makes room; she sits by him on the sofa and cuts up his meat for him.
It's a rum un as I should start ha'in' babies again, an' feedin' 'em wi' spoon-meat. (Gives him a spoon.) An' now let's hear why they winna gi'e thee thy pay. Another o' Macintyre's dirty knivey dodges, I s'd think.
JOE: They reckon I did it wi' foolery, an' not wi' work.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Oh indeed! An' what by that?
JOE (eating): They wunna gie me nowt, that's a'.
MRS GASCOIGNE: It's a nice thing! An' what did ter say?
JOE: I said nowt.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Tha wouldna'! Tha stood like a stuffed duck, an' said thank-yer.
JOE: Well, it wor raight.
MRS GASCOIGNE: How raight?
JOE: I did do it wi' foolery.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Then what did ter go axin' fer pay fer?
JOE: I did it at work, didna I? An' a man as gets accident at work's titled ter disability pay, isna he?
MRS GASCOIGNE: Tha said a minnit sin' as tha got it wi' foolery.
JOE: An' so I did.
MRS GASCOIGNE: I niver 'eered such talk i' my life.
JOE: I dunna care what ter's 'eered an' what t'asna. I wor foolin' wi' a wringer an' a pick-heft--ta's it as ter's a mind.
MRS GASCOIGNE: What, down pit?
JOE: I' th' stall, at snap time.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Showin' off a bit, like?
MRS GASCOIGNE: An' what then?
JOE: Th' wringer gen me a rap ower th'arm, an' that's a'.
MRS GASCOIGNE: An' tha reported it as a accident?
JOE: It wor accident, worn't it? I niver did it a'purpose.
MRS GASCOIGNE: But a pit accident.
JOE: Well, an' what else wor't? It wor a h'accident I got i' th' pit, i' th' sta' wheer I wor workin'.
MRS GASCOIGNE: But not while tha wor workin'.
JOE: What by that?--it wor a pit accident as I got i' th' stall.
MRS GASCOIGNE: But tha didna tell 'em how it happened.
JOE: I said some stuff fell on my arm, an' brok' it. An' worna that trew?
MRS GASCOIGNE: It wor very likely trew enough, lad, if on'y they'd ha' believed it.
JOE: An they would ha' believed it, but for Hewett bully-raggin' Bettesworth 'cos he knowed he was a chappil man. (He imitates the underground manager, Hewett, and Bettesworth, a butty.) "About this accident, Bettesworth. How exactly did it occur?" "I couldn't exactly say for certing, sir, because I wasn't linkin'." "Then tell me as near as you can." "Well, Mester, I'm sure I don't know." "That's curious, Bettesworth--I must have a report. Do you know anything about it, or don't you? It happened in your stall; you're responsible for it, and I'm responsible for you." "Well, Gaffer, what's right's right, I suppose, ter th' mesters or th' men. An' 'e wor conjurin' a' snap-time wi' a pick-heft an' a wringer, an' the wringer catched 'im ower th' arm." "I thought you didn't know!" "I said for certain--I didn't see exactly how 'twas done."
MRS GASCOIGNE: Hm.
JOE: Bettesworth 'ud non ha' clat-fasted but for nosy Hewett. He says, "Yo know, Joseph, when he says to me, 'Do you know anything about that haccident?'--then I says to myself, 'Take not the word of truth hutterly outer thy mouth.'"
MRS GASCOIGNE: If he took a bit o' slaver outen's mouth, it 'ud do.
JOE: So this mornin' when I went ter th' office, Mester Salmon he com out an' said: "'Ow did this haccident occur, Joseph?" and I said, "Some stuff fell on't." So he says, "Stuff fell on't, stuff fell on't! You mean coal or rock or what?" So I says, "Well, it worn't a thipenny bit." "No," he says, "but what was it?" "It wor a piece o' clunch," I says. "You don't use clunch for wringers," he says, "do you?" "The wringin' of the nose bringeth forth blood," I says--
MRS GASCOIGNE: Why, you know you never did. (She begins making a pudding.)
JOE: No--b'r I'd ha' meant t'r'a done.
MRS GASCOIGNE: We know thee! Tha's done thysen one i' th' eye this time. When dost think tha'll iver get ter be a butty, at this rate? There's Luther nowt b'r a day man yet.
JOE: I'd as lief be a day man as a butty, i' pits that rat-gnawed there's hardly a stall worth havin'; an' a company as 'ud like yer ter scrape yer tabs afore you went home, for fear you took a grain o' coal.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Maybe--but tha's got ter get thy livin' by 'em.
JOE: I hanna. I s'll go to Australia.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Tha'lt do no such thing, while I'm o' this earth.
JOE: Ah, but though, I shall--else get married, like our Luther.
MRS GASCOIGNE: A fat sight better off tha'lt be for that.
JOE: You niver know, Mother, dun yer?
MRS GASCOIGNE: You dunna, me lad--not till yer find yerself let in. Marriage is like a mouse-trap, for either man or woman. You've soon come to th' end o' th' cheese.
JOE: Well, ha'ef a loaf's better nor no bread.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Why, wheer's th' loaf as tha'd like ter gnawg a' thy life?
JOE: Nay, nowhere yet.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Well, dunna thee talk, then. Tha's done thysen harm enow for one day, wi' thy tongue.
JOE: An' good as well, Mother--I've aten my dinner, a'most.
MRS GASCOIGNE: An' swilled thy belly afore that, methinks.
JOE: Niver i' this world!
MRS GASCOIGNE: And I've got thee to keep on ten shillin's a wik club-money, han I?
JOE: Tha needna, if ter doesna want. Besides, we s'll be out on strike afore we know wheer we are.
MRS GASCOIGNE: I'm sure. You've on'y bin in--
JOE: Now, Mother, spit on thy hands an' ta'e fresh hold. We s'll be out on strike in a wik or a fortnit--
MRS GASCOIGNE: Strike's a' they're fit for--a pack o' slutherers as . . .
Her words tail off as she goes into pantry.
JOE (to himself): Tha goes chunterin' i' th' pantry when somebody's at th' door. (Rises, goes to door.)
MRS PURDY'S VOICE: Is your mother in?
JOE: Yi, 'er's in right enough.
MRS PURDY: Well, then, can I speak to her?
JOE (calling): Mrs Purdy wants ter speak to thee, Mother.
MRS GASCOIGNE crosses the kitchen heavily, with a dripping-pan; stands in doorway.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Good afternoon.
MRS PURDY: Good afternoon.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Er--what is it?
MRS PURDY enters. She is a little fat, red-faced body in bonnet and black cape.
MRS PURDY: I wanted to speak to yer rather pertickler.
MRS GASCOIGNE (giving way): Oh, yes?
ALL THREE enter the kitchen. MRS PURDY stands near the door.
MRS PURDY (nodding at JOE): Has he had a haccident?
MRS GASCOIGNE: Broke his arm.
MRS PURDY: Oh my! that's nasty. When did 'e do that?
MRS GASCOIGNE: A wik sin' to-day.
MRS PURDY: In th' pit?
MRS GASCOIGNE: Yes--an's not goin' to get any accident pay--says as 'e worn't workin'; he wor foolin' about.
MRS PURDY: T-t-t-t! Did iver you know! I tell you what, missis, it's a wonder they let us live on the face o' the earth at all--it's a wonder we don't have to fly up i' th' air like birds.
JOE: There'd be a squark i' th' sky then!
MRS PURDY: But it is indeed. It's somethink awful. They've gave my mester a dirty job o' nights, at a guinea a week, an' he's worked fifty years for th' company, an' isn't but sixty-two now--said he wasn't equal to stall-workin', whereas he has to slave on th' roads an' comes whoam that tired he can't put's food in's mouth.
JOE: He's about like me.
MRS PURDY: Yis. But it's no nice thing, a guinea a week.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Well, that's how they're servin' 'em a' round-- widders' coals stopped--leadin' raised to four-an'-eight--an' ivry man niggled down to nothink.
MRS PURDY: I wish I'd got that Fraser strung up by th' heels--I'd ma'e his sides o' bacon rowdy.
MRS GASCOIGNE: He's put a new manager to ivry pit, an' ivry one a nigger-driver.
MRS PURDY: Says he's got to economise--says the company's not a philanthropic concern--
MRS GASCOIGNE: But ta'es twelve hundred a year for hissen.
MRS PURDY: A mangy bachelor wi' 'is iron-men.
JOE: But they wunna work.
MRS PURDY: They say how he did but coss an' swear about them American Cutters. I should like to see one set outer 'im--they'd work hard enough rippin's guts out--even iron's got enough sense for that. (She suddenly subsides.)
There is a pause.
MRS GASCOIGNE: How do you like living down Nethergreen?
MRS PURDY: Well--we're very comfortable. It's small, but it's handy, an' sin' the mester's gone down t'a guinea--
MRS GASCOIGNE: It'll do for you three.
MRS PURDY: Yes.
MRS GASCOIGNE: The men are comin' out again, they say.
MRS PURDY: Isn't it summat sickenin'? Well, I've werritted an' werritted till I'm soul-sick--
JOE: It sends yer that thin an' threadbare, y'have ter stop sometime.
MRS PURDY: There can be as much ache in a motherly body as in bones an' gristle, I'm sure o' that.
JOE: Nay, I'm more than bones an' gristle.
MRS PURDY: That's true as the day.
Another long pause.
MRS GASCOIGNE: An' how have yer all bin keepin'?
MRS PURDY: Oh, very nicely--except our Bertha.
MRS GASCOIGNE: Is she poorly, then?
MRS PURDY: That's what I com ter tell yer. I niver knowed a word on't till a Sat'day, nor niver noticed a thing. Then she says to me, as white as a sheet, "I've been sick every morning, Mother," an' it com across me like a shot from a gun. I sunk down i' that chair an' couldna fetch a breath.--An' me as prided myself! I've often laughed about it, an' said I was thankful my children had all turned out so well, lads an' wenches as well, an' said it was a'cause they was all got of a Sunday--their father was too drunk a' Saturday, an' too tired o' wik-days. An' it's a fact, they've all turned out well, for I'd allers bin to chappil. Well, I've said it for a joke, but now it's turned on me. I'd better ha' kep' my tongue still.
JOE: It's not me, though, missis. I wish it wor.