Her husband was a miner. They had only been in their new home three weeks when the wakes, or fair, began. Morel, she knew, was sure to make a holiday of it. He went off early on the Monday morning, the day of the fair. The two children were highly excited. William, a boy of seven, fled off immediately after breakfast, to prowl round the wakes ground, leaving Annie, who was only five, to whine all morning to go also. Mrs Morel did her work. She scarcely knew her neighbours yet, and knew no one with whom to trust the little girl. So she promised to take her to the wakes after dinner.
William appeared at half-past twelve. He was a very active lad, fair-haired, freckled, with a touch of the Dane or Norwegian about him.
`Can I have my dinner, mother?' he cried, rushing in with his cap on. `'Cause it begins at half-past one, the man says so.'
`You can have your dinner as soon as it's done,' replied the mother.
`Isn't it done?' he cried, his blue eyes staring at her in indignation. `Then I'm goin' be-out it.'
`You'll do nothing of the sort. It will be done in five minutes. It is only half-past twelve.'
`They'll be beginnin',' the boy half cried, half shouted.
`You won't die if they do,' said the mother. `Besides, it's only half-past twelve, so you've a full hour.'
The lad began hastily to lay the table, and directly the three sat down. They were eating batter-pudding and jam, when the boy jumped off his chair and stood perfectly still. Some distance away could be heard the first small braying of a merry-go-round, and the tooting of a horn. His face quivered as he looked at his mother.
`I told you!' he said, running to the dresser for his cap.
`Take your pudding in your hand--and it's only five past one, so you were wrong--you haven't got your twopence,' cried the mother in a breath.
The boy came back, bitterly disappointed, for his twopence; then went off without a word.
`I want to go, I want to go,' said Annie, beginning to cry.
`Well, and you shall go, whining, wizzening little stick!' said the mother. And later in the afternoon she trudged up the hill under the tall hedge with her child. The hay was gathered from the fields, and cattle were turned on to the eddish. It was warm, peaceful.
Mrs Morel did not like the wakes. There were two sets of horses, one going by steam, one pulled round by a pony; three organs were grinding, and there came odd cracks of pistol-shots, fearful screeching of the cocoanut man's rattle, shouts of the Aunt Sally man, screams from the peep-show lady. The mother perceived her son gazing enraptured outside the Lion Wallace booth, at the pictures of this famous lion that had killed a negro and maimed for life two white men. She left him alone, and went to get Annie a spin of toffee. Presently the lad stood in front of her, wildly excited.
`You never said you was coming--isn't the' a lot of things?--that lion's killed three men--I've spent my tuppence-- an' look here.'
He pulled from his pocket two egg-cups, with pink moss-roses on them.
`I got these from that stall where y'ave ter get them marbles in them holes. An' I got these two in two goes--'aepenny a go--they've got moss-roses on, look here. I wanted these.'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|