she put one out for him. He tied a scarf round his neck, put on his great, heavy boots, his coat, with the big pocket, that carried his snap-bag and his bottle of tea, and went forth into the fresh morning air, closing, without locking, the door behind him. He loved the early morning, and the walk across the fields. So he appeared at the pit-top, often with a stalk from the hedge between his teeth, which he chewed all day to keep his mouth moist, down the mine, feeling quite as happy as when he was in the field.

Later, when the time for the baby grew nearer, he would bustle round in his slovenly fashion, poking out the ashes, rubbing the fireplace, sweeping the house before he went to work. Then, feeling very self- righteous, he went upstairs.

`Now I'm cleaned up for thee; tha's no 'casions ter stir a peg all day, but sit and read thy books.'

Which made her laugh, in spite of her indignation.

`And the dinner cooks itself?' she answered.

`Eh, I know nowt about th' dinner.'

`You'd know if there weren't any.'

`Ay, 'appen so,' he answered, departing.

When she got downstairs, she would find the house tidy, but dirty. She could not rest until she had thoroughly cleaned; so she went down to the ash-pit with her dust-pan. Mrs Kirk, spying her, would contrive to have to go to her own coal-place at that minute. Then, across the wooden fence, she would call:

`So you keep wagging on, then?'

`Ay,' answered Mrs Morel deprecatingly. `There's nothing else for it.'

`Have you seen Hose?' called a very small woman from across the road. It was Mrs Anthony, a black- haired, strange little body, who always wore a brown velvet dress, tight-fitting.

`I haven't,' said Mrs Morel.

`Eh, I wish he'd come. I've got a copperful of clothes, an' I'm sure I heered his bell.'

`Hark! He's at the end.'

The two women looked down the alley. At the end of the Bottoms a man stood in a sort of old-fashioned trap, bending over bundles of cream-coloured stuff; while a cluster of women held up their arms to him, some with bundles. Mrs Anthony herself had a heap of creamy, undyed stockings hanging over her arm.

`I've done ten dozen this week,' she said proudly to Mrs Morel.

`T-t-t!' went the other. `I don't know how you can find time.'

`Eh!' said Mrs Anthony. `You can find time if you make time.'

`I don't know you do it,' said Mrs Morel. `And how much shall you get for those many?'

`Tuppence-ha'penny a dozen,' replied the other.

`Well,' said Mrs Morel, `I'd starve before I'd sit down and seam twenty-four stockings for twopence ha'penny.'

`Oh, I don't know,' said Mrs Anthony. `You can rip along with 'em.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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