Putting Up The Banns

Characters

The Bhoy: A lil fella of 45, an aisy goi tremenjus; an’ shoy; aw bless me sowl.
The Gel – Betsy: About the same age; not quite so shy; a lil bit of pluck at her.
The Pazzon: An ever-present help in trouble.
The Pazzon’s Wife: A dacent soul, but morthal fond of hearing the newses; ay, an’ tellin’ the newses too.
The Neighbour: Another newsy soul; a friend of the Pazzon’s wife.
The Docthor: Bluff, hale an’ hearty. The parish authority on everything under the sun.

Scene

The Vicarage garden. Gate leading into the garden. A seat in the garden.

Enter the bhoy.

BHOY: Well. I’m thinkin’ I’ll go an’ see the Pazzon tho’, an’ gerrim to put up the banns – I suppose I should see Betsy too, but I’m kind of frekened arrit. I don’t know how I’m such a bogh at all – a thoot I am, aye, a clane thoot – but I can’t help it an’ wha’s a fella to do. I think I’d bather go an tell her straight out for all. Yiss tha’s whar I’ll do – put me fate in me han’s, as the man said – or may’ve in her han’s – I forget which. Well here goes. Straighten theeself up, Thom me bhoy. (Squares shoulders) An’ go an’ make a clane bress of it – she can’t ate thee – she can only say no for all. (Takes a step or two forward and hesitates) Iss no good, I can’t do it. I’ll go an’ get the Pazzon to put up the banns, an’ then I’ll hev to see Betsy, by hook or crook.

Enter Docthor.

BHOY: Hello, Docthor.

DOCTHOR: Hello, Tom, my lad. How goes it?

BHOY: Aw, middlin’ lek, middlin’.

DOCTHOR: There doesn’t seem to be much the matter with you anyway.

BHOY: May’ve yes, an’ may’ve no.

DOCTHOR: Well I must toddle along; I haven’t finished my rounds yet. So long, Tom boy.

Docthor makes a move to go.

BHOY: Houl’ on, Docthor. I want to put a question on ya.

DOCTHOR: Fire away then.

BHOY (bashfully): Er – er – er –

Bhoy laughs to give himself courage.

DOCTHOR (amused): What’s the joke, Tom?

BHOY (trying to look serious): Er – er – er –

Bhoy laughs again.

DOCTHOR: Well, you might share the joke, so that I can laugh too.

BHOY: Eh – eh – it’s doin’ gran’ weather tho’, Docthor.

DOCTHOR: Glorious weather, Tom. But I can’t stand here discussin’ the weather. I thought you wanted to ask me a question.

BHOY: Yes, I do. But I can’t come at it somehow.

DOCTHOR: Out with it, man, and get it off your chest.

BHOY: It’s about meself, Docthor.

DOCTHOR: You rascal, what have you been doing, getting into some trouble, eh?

BHOY: Oh no, Docthor.

DOCTHOR: Have you got measles or something?

BHOY: Aw wuss than maysales, Docthor.

DOCTHOR (in alarm): Worse than measles? Good heavens, man, you haven’t got smallpox?

BHOY: I haven’t got nayther maysles nor small pox, Docthor. It’s me heart.

DOCTHOR (in concern): Ah, let me feel your pulse.

Docthor takes Bhoy’s arm and pulls out his watch.

DOCTHOR: Your pulse is quite normal.

BHOY: M–m–m–m – I don’t know northin’ about me pulse, Docthor. It’s me heart that’s gone astray.

DOCTHOR: Gone astray? What do you mean?

BHOY: Docthor, I’m goin’ to ask ya a fair question as man to man. What age were ya when ya got married?

DOCTHOR (in surprise): What age was I when I got married?

BHOY: Yes. What age war ya when ya got married? Tha’s the question I’m askin’ you.

DOCTHOR (pondering): Let me see now. Let me see. I think I was married just before my 25th birthday. If I remember rightly.

BHOY: An’ do ya know what age I am, Docthor?

DOCTHOR: Well, you look older than 25, my boy.

BHOY: M–m–m. Yes. Well, jus’ a lil bit oulder than that. Not much tho’. Only twenty years.

DOCTHOR: Tom. Tom. You’ve wasted the best years of your life – in bachelordom, when you should have been comfortably married and settled down, twenty years ago.

BHOY: Tha’s jus’ the point I was comin’ at, Docthor.

DOCTHOR: Ah, I see. The light begins to break on the horizon. You’re thinking of getting married. (Giving Bhoy a dig in the ribs) You sly old fox.

BHOY: Ya’ve hit the nail on the head first time, Docthor.

DOCTHOR: And is it that which you wished to consult me about, Tom?

BHOY: Yes, you see, Docthor, I’m not undertandin’ much about women.

DOCTHOR: At your age you should know all that’s to be known about them, Tom.

BHOY: M–m–m. I suppose so, Doctoer, I suppose so. But ya don’t think I’ve left it too late?

DOCTHOR: It’s never too late to mend, Tom, my boy.

BHOY: But ya’re not think’ me too ould to get married lek?

DOCTHOR (laughing humorously): Oh, no. You’re only a fledgling of 45 yet. Hardly cut your wisdom teeth. I knew an’ old man who got married when he was 80.

BHOY: Bless him. But he didn’t take all that time to find a woman, lek?

DOCTHOR: Oh no. He had been married three times previously.

BHOY: Three times, man. What pluck the man had to be sure.

DOCTHOR: If you haven’t got pluck where a woman is concerned, you’re no use.

BHOY: M–m–m. I believe you’re right, Docthor. But look here, how do you go about it? When you want to ask a woman lek?

DOCTHOR: You mean you want to pop the question?

BHOY: M–m–m. May’ve, may’ve.

DOCTHOR: Why it’s as easy as going to the grocers shop for a pound of sugar.

BHOY (in awe): Indeed now. Aw well, well.

DOCTHOR: Who’s the woman anyway? I suppose you’ve a woman if you’re thinking of getting married.

BHOY: Aw, deed I have too.

DOCTHOR: An’ the fair lady’s name?

BHOY: You’re curious now, an’ wantin’ to know.

DOCTHOR: Oh, it doesn’t matter. If it’s a secret, keep it to yourself. Well good bye, Tom.

Docthor makes a move to go.

BHOY: Houl on, Docthor, jus’ a minute.

DOCTHOR: I must go. I cannot stay any longer.

BHOY (slyly): Ya were wantin’ to know the lady’s name, warn’t ya?

DOCTHOR: Well, you can please yourself about that, my lad. I’m not particular whether you tell me or not.

BHOY (putting his hand to his mouth and speaking in a half whisper): Well, I’ll tell ya, if ya’ll promise not to spake a word to a livin’ soul.

DOCTHOR: Oh, it’s a secret, is it?

BHOY: Yes, a saycret. (Half whispering) Ya see the lady doesn’t know it herself yet.

DOCTHOR (laughing): What? The lady doesn’t know it herself yet. Ha, ha, ha. Well that’s the greatest joke I ever heard in my life. Ha, ha, ha. Absolutely takes the biscuit.

Docthor laughs boisterously.1

BHOY (rather nettled at the Docthor): You needn’t be laughing, Docthor. It’s northin’ to laugh at, I can tell you. It’s a mighty sarious matthar to me.

Docthor laughing.

DOCTHOR: Oh my hat, going to be married, and the girl doesn’t know. That licks creation. Never heard anything to beat it.

Docthor laughs.

BHOY (nettled): Funny, isn’t it.

DOCTHOR: Funny. Ha, ha, ha. Funny is no name for it, Tom, my boy. It’s the greatest joke I ever heard. And who is the lady, Tom? (Putting his hand to his mouth) Mum’s the word. I won’t mention it to a living soul; not even my own wife.

BHOY (looking around him, holding his hand to his mouth, and speaking in awed tones): Do ya know Betsy Brew?

DOCTHOR (jocularly): Betsy? Little Betsy Brew? Why of course I know her. Oh, yes, she is comparatively young still.

BHOY: To be sure she is. Jus’ the same age as meself. She’ll be 45 for Michaelmass.

DOCTHOR (with a twinkle in his eye): The dear little girl.

BHOY: Don’t be too familiar now.

DOCTHOR: Oh, not for worlds, Tom. And when are you going to inform the dear little creature that you have honoured her by choosing her as a helpmeet?

BHOY: That’s the point I was comin’ at, Docthor, ya see I’m not much for women lek. Ya know what I mane. I – I – I –

DOCTHOR: Yes. You want to tell me that you’re too shy to speak to her.

BHOY (squaring his shoulders and trying to put on a bold front): Well, well, hardly as bad as that at all.

DOCTHOR: Well, we’ll put it another way. You’re too bashful to ask this blooming young lady to be your loving spouse.

BHOY: Well. May’ve, may’ve.

DOCTHOR: And what are you going to do about it?

BHOY: I’m goin’ to ax the Pazzon to put up the banns.

DOCTHOR: But in view of the fact that you have not interviewed the young lady on this question, surely the publishing of the banns would be an unwise proceeding.

BHOY: Well, I’m goin’ to ax her tomorrow. If I tell the Pazzon to put up the banns, it will hurry me up lek, for I’ll have to tell her then.

DOCTHOR: And suppose it comes to her ears.

BHOY: She’ll hardly hear it before tomorra at all.

DOCTHOR (laughing): Well, you’re the absolute limit. I never heard anything to compare with it. Why not go and see the lady first?

BHOY: I can’t, man. I can’t.

DOCTHOR: Why can’t you?

BHOY: I couldn’t face her lek.

DOCTHOR: Nonsense. How will you face her tomorrow any more than today?

BHOY: An’ I’ll have to tell her then.

DOCTHOR (clapping Bhoy on the back): Well, goodbye, Tom. I wish you luck.

Exit Docthor laughing.

BHOY: Humph. He seems to think it a big joke. It’s no joke for me. I can tell him. Betsy’ll be awful mad if she finds out tho’.

Enter Pazzon. He takes a seat in the garden.

BHOY: Ah, there’s the Pazzon. I must pluck up courage an’ spake to him.

Bhoy opens the gate and walks in.

BHOY: Good morning, Pazzon.

PAZZON (shaking hands): Good morning, Thomas. How are you this morning?

BHOY: Aw middlin’, Pazzon, middlin’.

PAZZON (still holding Tom’s hand and clapping his back with the other hand): When you say middlin’, you mean quite well.

BHOY: Well, may’ve, Pazzon, may’ve.

PAZZON (letting go of his hand): Did you wish to see me about something?

BHOY: Yes, I did now. I was wanting to ax you a very particular question.

PAZZON: I shall be very glad to be of any service to you.

BHOY: Well, ya can be the greatest service to me, Pazzon.

PAZZON: I’m glad to hear that.

BHOY (looking cautiously around): Are ya alone?

PAZZON: Well, I was before you came.

BHOY: But are ya sure there’s nobody about lek?

PAZZON (stiffly): Quite. Quite.

BHOY: The mistress now, she’s not likely to disturb us?

PAZZON (impatiently): Not at all. Not at all. She’s busy attending to her household duties.

BHOY: Eh – eh – eh. I suppose you’ll be having the anniversary soon now?

PAZZON: It won’t be long now. Were you intending offering your services as soloist?

BHOY: Aw no. Aw no, Pazzon. I’m not for purrin’ a skiow on hemns an’ things at all. (Very confused, twiddling his cap around on one finger with the other hand) What I really wanted to ax you was, eh – eh – eh – When did ya lek?

PAZZON (in surprise): When did I?

BHOY: Y–y–yes. That’s it Pazzon. Eh – eh – eh. When did ya lek?

PAZZON: I don’t know what you mean.

BHOY (disappointed): Don’t ya now, don’t ya? Well that’s mighty awkward. I thought ya’d put a guess on it lek.

PAZZON: How can I guess conundrums?

BHOY: Well, I’m purrin’ it as plain as plain can be to ya. An’ ya’re not understandin’ yet.

PAZZON: You haven’t told me anything as yet, Thomas. You’re just keeping me standing here guessing.

BHOY: Well, you’re not a good guesser anyway.

PAZZON: No. I’m afraid not, Thomas. But come, bare your heart to me. You’ve got something on your mind.

BHOY: Yes, I have now. Yes, I have, Pazzon. Something on me mind. That’s it now, ya’ve guessed it.

Pazzon puts his hand on Tom’s shoulder, and looks him squarely in the face.

PAZZON (seriously): Thomas, if it’s some great sin you have committed, unburden your mind to me, and you will feel a great deal happier after it.

BHOY: Sin. Sin. Sin ya’re saying? I naver did no wrong to anyone in me life. Why, I wouldn’t hurt a harry-crab.

PAZZON (impatiently): Well, what on earth is it all about?

BHOY: Well the fac’ of the matther is, Pazzon, I was wantin’ to ax ya a very particular question, lek.

PAZZON: But you told me that before, and you haven’t asked the question yet.

BHOY: No, I haven’t now. Not the proper question I was goin’ to ax ya, at all.

PAZZON: Well, for pity’s sake, out with it, and don’t keep me in suspense any longer.

BHOY: Well every time I spake to ya, it pops out of me head; and every time you spake to me it pops back again. An’ tha’s the way it is. Keepin’ poppin’ in an’ out of me head all the time. An’ (in desperation) I can’t purr a rim on it all.

PAZZON: Perhaps I can help you. What was the question about?

BHOY: Yes, what was it about, that’s the point. Ya’ve got it now, Pazzon. Ya’ve got it now.

PAZZON (with a weary smile): I’m afraid I haven’t.

BHOY: Eh – eh – eh. Do ya think I’m oulder than you war when you got married?

PAZZON (in surprise): Are you older than I was when I got married? Surely you haven’t kept me standing here all this time to ask such a trivial question.

BHOY: It’s an important question I’m axin of ya, Pazzon. An’ perhaps me whole future depends on your answer. So weigh it well, Pazzon. Weigh it well. (Twiddling his cap) What age war ya, when ya got married?

Bhoy tries to look unconcerned.

PAZZON (surprised): What age was I when I got married? What a strange question to ask me, Thomas. But I should say about Thirty.

BHOY: Thirty. – An’ I’m 45, Pazzon.

PAZZON: Ah, I see the way the wind is blowing. You’re thinking of getting married. And you want the banns published.

BHOY: Yiss, Pazzon, that’s it. Ya’ve guessed right the first time.

PAZZON: Then I shall publish them the first time next Sunday.

BHOY: If ya lek, Pazzon. If ya lek.

Pazzon takes out his notebook.

PAZZON: Now, Thomas, give me your full name and address.

BHOY: Thomas Kinnish, Farmer, Ballachrink.2

PAZZON (entering in his notebook): Ah yes, and the lady’s name and address?

BHOY (twiddling with his cap): The lady’s name? Is that particular, Pazzon?

PAZZON: Certainly. That is absolutely essential. How can the banns be published otherwise?

BHOY: Well, Betsy Brew is her name. She hev the nex’ farm to me.

PAZZON: Ah yes, let me see now, Ballabrew, isn’t it?

BHOY: Oh no, Pazzon, Betsy Brew.

PAZZON: But the farm is Ballabrew, is it not?

BHOY: To be sure.

PAZZON: Was she christened Betsy?

BHOY: I couldn’t tell ya that, Pazzon. I wasn’ there. That was before my time. But I suppose she was christened “Betsy.” At lase she’s been Betsy all the time I’ve known her.

PAZZON: Yes, just so. But the point I want to arrive at is – was she christened Elizabeth or Betsy?

BHOY: I navar heard a sowl call her ‘Lizabet in me whole life. An’ I’ve known her for ages.

PAZZON: Well, Betsy is a most unusual name to christen a girl. I think I’d betther put down Elizabeth.

BHOY: Well plaze ya’self, Pazzon. You knows bess.

PAZZON: That will be alright then.

BHOY: Thank ya, Pazzon. Good morning.

PAZZON (shaking hands): Goodbye, Thomas.

Exit Thomas. Enter the Pazzon’s Wife.

WIFE: Was that Tom Kinnish?

PAZZON: Yes dear.

WIFE: What was he after?

PAZZON: He is going to get married. He wants the banns published.

WIFE: Oh–h–h. Going to be married, eh. To whom?

PAZZON: Elizabeth Brew.

WIFE: Elizabeth Brew, eh. Elizabeth Brew?

PAZZON: Yes, do you know her?

WIFE: Oh, slightly. I don’t mix with that class very much.

PAZZON: Better if you did, my dear. We would be much more popular than we are in the neighbourhood.

WIFE: I’ve no doubt but what she’ll be the ruler.

PAZZON: Nothing unusual about that, my dear. Probably you have heard about glass houses and stones.

WIFE: H’m. Do you think that I am ruler here?

PAZZON: Absolutely certain. You rule the house with a rod of iron. (Notices she is annoyed and tries to mollify her) But I wouldn’t have it otherwise, my dear. Not for worlds. But I must go, love. I still have to prepare my sermon.

Pazzon enters the house. Wife busies herself with knitting etc.

WIFE: H’m. So I rule the house, do I? Well, we shall see. If I have the name of it, I must have the gain of it in future.

Enter Neighbour.

WIFE: Ah, good morning, Mrs Graham.

They shake hands.

NEIGHBOUR: Good morning, Mrs Taubman. Beautiful weather, is it not?

WIFE: Perfectly charming. Take a seat, Mrs Graham.

Neighbour sits down.

NEIGHBOUR: I see there’s a new arrival in the house of the Quirks.

WIFE: Really?

NEIGHBOUR: Yes, and such a charming little boy. A pocket edition of his father.

WIFE: Are both doing well?

NEIGHBOUR: Yes, I believe so. (In a subdued tone) And did you hear that poor old Jane Teare is dead?

WIFE: No, I didn’t. When did that happen?

NEIGHBOUR: This morning. The poor creature died in the most reduced circumstances, I fear. (Takes a handkerchief out of her bag and dabs her eyes). Did you hear that Jinny Taylor had run away and got married?

WIFE: Indeed.

NEIGHBOUR: Yes, I was always afraid that the child would come to a bad end.

WIFE: It may not be so bad as you think.

NEIGHBOUR: Bad? Why, they got married at a registry office.

Both hold up their hands.

WIFE: How perfectly shocking. Won’t her poor parents be distressed?

NEIGHBOUR: Terribly distressed. And I hear Lizzie Kinrade is getting married.

WIFE: H’m. She’s only young too.

NEIGHBOUR: Barely twenty.

WIFE: And now I have a little bit of news for you.

NEIGHBOUR: Oh how perfectly charming.

WIFE: But tell it not in faith.3

NEIGHBOUR: Mum’s the word, Mrs Taubman.

WIFE: Thomas Kinnish and Betsy Brew are going off.

NEIGHBOUR: Go on. You don’t say so. How you do surprise me. I never thought that Tom Kinnish would have had the pluck to ask any woman, for I never saw a more bashful man in my life. Just fancy Tom saying: (imitating Bhoy) “Betsy, will you marry me?”

They laugh. Pazzon comes out of the house.

PAZZON (coming out): Now what are you two women talking about? Idle gossip, I suppose?

WIFE: Oh, no fear. I was just telling her that Tom Kinnish is getting married.

PAZZON: That was very indiscreet of you, my dear. That should be a secret until Sunday, when it will be made public for the first time. But now, (holding up his hands in dismay) I am afraid its publicity is assured before that date.

WIFE: Well, you should not have told me.

PAZZON: Obviously.

NEIGHBOUR: Well, good morning, Mrs Taubman. I am sorry the Vicar is afraid to entrust me with a secret. I can keep a secret as good as anyone.

PAZZON: Well kindly do so in this case.

Exit Neighbour with her nose in the air and in high dudgeon.

WIFE: Now you’ve offended my best friend.

PAZZON: If she is your best friend, I pity you. She is the greatest gossip in the village. Everyone in the parish will know about this marriage before Sunday, which is grossly unfair to the parties concerned. You certainly showed a great lack of discretion, my dear.

The wife flings herself out very much annoyed. The Pazzon sits down. A moment later the Docthor enters.

DOCTHOR: Good morning, Vicar.

PAZZON: Good morning, Docthor. (shakes hands) And how are you this morning?

DOCTHOR: A-1, thank you. Anything new?

PAZZON: Is there ever anything new here?

DOCTHOR: Not much at all, but one does meet with a little variety sometimes. Do you know I haven’t laughed so much for a long time as I did this morning.

Docthor laughs.

PAZZON: And what was the cause of the levity, may I ask?

DOCTHOR: You know Tom Kinnish?

PAZZON: Quite well.

DOCTHOR: Well, he’s getting married.

PAZZON: Oh, I am already aware of the fact.

DOCTHOR (laughs intermittently): Yes, but the joke is the girl is not aware of it.

PAZZON (annoyed): What? Do you mean to tell me that Miss Brew knows nothing about it?

DOCTHOR: That is so. But I implore you to do nothing rash, for it was given to me as a secret, which I should really not have divulged. But the comical part appealed so much to me that I could not retain it.

Docthor laughs.

PAZZON (annoyed): But the whole thing is so preposterous that I cannot allow it to go on.

DOCTHOR (good humouredly): Take my advice and leave them alone. They’ll unravel the tangle alright by themselves. Good morning, Vicar. Good morning, Docthor.

Exit Docthor. Docthor enters house. Enter Bhoy.

BHOY: I’ve half a mind to go and tell the Pazzon not to put up the banns yet. May’ve it would be batther to see Betsy fust.

Enter neighbour.

NEIGHBOUR: Ah, good morning, Mr Kinnish. How are you getting on?

BHOY (he does not like her): Aw, middlin’, middlin’.

NEIGHBOUR: Allow me to congratulate you on your forthcoming marriage.

BHOY (abashed): Who toul you that I was getting married?

NEIGHBOUR: Why, the fair lady herself, of course. Who else?

BHOY: What? Betsy? An’ Betsy couldn’t tell you for she doesn’t know herself yet.

NEIGHBOUR: Oh, indeed. She doesn’t know it, eh?

BHOY (after giving the game away doesn’t know what to say and flounders): I – I – I – I naver said that she did – didn’t know. Of course she knows.

NEIGHBOUR: You distinctly said that she didn’t know. This is pretty kettle of fish anyway. Maligning a poor, weak, defenceless woman. Shame on you.

BHOY: Mind ya’re own business. It’s no consarn of yours.

NEIGHBOUR: But I’m going to make it my business. I shall go at once and ascertain the truth from Miss Brew.

Neighbour moves to go.

BHOY (alarmed): Here, houl on a minute.

NEIGHBOUR: No, I shan’t, I’m going now.

BHOY: Don’t go and tell Betsy. I’ll go and tell Pazzon not to put up the banns.

NEIGHBOUR: I will go. This matter must be investigated at once.

Exit Neighbour.

BHOY (in great alarm): Oh dear. Oh dear. What’ll I do now at all, at all? If Betsy finds out, it’ll be clane murther. She’ll navar forgive me. No navar. Oh Thom boght, theer’s jeel done at thee now.

Exit Bhoy. Enter Girl and Neighbour.

NEIGHBOUR (sweetly): I am so glad to have met you, Miss Brew. I’ve a very important question to ask you.

BETSY (who dislikes Neighbour): Indeed.

NEIGHBOUR: Are you getting married shortly?

BETSY (icily): Not that I know of, Mrs Graham. But even if I were, I don’t know what it’s got to do with you. You love to stick that frosty nose of yours into other people’s business. Don’t you, eh?

NEIGHBOUR (annoyed): Do you know that your name is coupled with Tom Kinnish’s? And that the banns are being put up on Sunday?

Betsy starts with surprise but calms herself.

BETSY: And well, what of it?

NEIGHBOUR: Did you know about it?

BETSY: Certainly.

NEIGHBOUR (crestfallen): Oh, I thought by the way that he spoke that you were unaware of the fact.

BETSY: Well, if you were thinking more of your own business and less of other people’s, it would be more becoming to you. Who toul you, anyway?

NEIGHBOUR: Mrs Taubman.

BETSY: A gossip like yourself. You’re well matched.

NEIGHBOUR: Thank you for the compliment.

BETSY: Ye’re welcome.

NEIGHBOUR: However, dear Tom is going to see the Pazzon and have the banns stopped.

BETSY: You leave that to me, Mrs Graham. I’ll attend to that.

NEIGHBOUR (sneeringly): A nice man to have as a husband. Afraid to ask his lady love to marry him.

BETSY: Get out. You old cat.

NEIGHBOUR: Eh – eh – eh.

Exit Neighbour.

BETSY (to herself): H’m, well, having the banns put up is one thing; having them stopped is another. This is where I come in.

Enter Bhoy.

BHOY: Hello, Betsy.

BETSY (painfully polite and stiffly): How do you do, Mr Kinnish?

BHOY (surprised): Mr Kinnish, eh? Tha used to call me Thom.

BETSY: I don’t want to be too familiar with you.

BHOY: What have I done to thee, Betsy?

BETSY: More than you should have done anyway. It’s strange tales I’m hearing going about.

BHOY: What have tha heard, gel?

BETSY: You know quite well what I’ve heard. What were you telling the Pazzon? An’ who toul you to put up the banns?

BHOY: Aw, nobody at all toul me, gel. – Only me own stupidness, chree. It’s morthal sorry I am about it.

BETSY (freezingly): Sorry, eh? What’s the good of being sorry about it now, when the deed is done? All the parish is talking about it: “have you heard the news?” “What news” “Tom Kinnish and Betsy Brew getting married.” Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, Tom Kinnish? Makin’ me name a byword in the parish. An’ navar so much as “By your lave” to me.

BHOY (dejectedly): Aw, Betsy villish.

BETSY (angrily): Betsy villish, yer heels. I’m not yer Betsy villish. (Claps her hands to accentuate her words) What – right – had – you – to do – such – a – thing, Tom Kinnish? An’ ya never even axed me if I’d be your wife. A bogh of a man ya are indeed for any woman to marry.

BHOY: But I intended to ax thee, Betsy.

BETSY (her temper is dying down): None of thee lies.

BHOY: It’s the truth I’m telling thee, Betsy, if I was naver again to stir from this spot.

BETSY: I don’t believe a word thou’re telling me.

BHOY: Well, I’ll go and ax the Pazzon to stop the banns.

BETSY: Thou’ve lef’ it too late, bhoy, thou can’t stop them now.

BHOY: Aw no, chree. He’ll stop them alright. I’ll explain everything to him.

Bhoy moves to go. Betsy detains him.

BETSY: Do thou want to stop them?

BHOY: Well that may’ve the best. Aw, Betsy, I cannot tell thee how sorry I am that this has happened.

BETSY (sidling up to him): Oh, it’s sorry thou are, eh?

BHOY: Aw sorry urrow massy.

BETSY: An’ what are thou sorry for?

BHOY (awkwardly): Well, tha see a–a–a–a.

BETSY: I don’t see northin’. An’ thou’re goin’ to tell the Pazzon to stop the banns, are thou?

BHOY: Wouldn’t that be the best thing to do, Betsy?

BETSY: Thou’ve got things mixed up like a pig’s breakfast already, an’ I’m thinkin’ thou’d best lave things as they are; for if thou tell the Pazzon to stop them it’ll make things ten times worse. All the parish knows about it now, and we can’t stop it, so there.

BHOY (distressed): An’ what are we to do at all?

BETSY: Aw well, lave things as they are, Thom boy.

Betsy puts her hand on his shoulder and heaves a sight of contentment. Bhoy puts his hand on his heart.

BETSY: What’s the matter, Tom boy?

BHOY: Thou’re purrin’ me heart in a clane flutther, Betsy. An’ do thou mane to say thou’ll hav me?

BETSY: For bather or for wuss, Thom. Of course I’ll hev thee, thou big thoot.

They embrace.

BHOY: Aw Betsy, my chree.

Sounds of kissing.

BETSY: An’ now straighten thyself up and we’ll go an’ see Pazzon about “PUTTING UP THE BANNS.”

Notes

  1. In the original manuscript, this stage direction ends with a question mark.
  2. In the original manuscript, “-chrink” is a handwritten alteration to “Ballacoar.”
  3. The original manuscript has “Gath” here. This could be a mistake for “Faith” or “Oath”?

Tom Kinnish needs to overcome his shyness and finally ask Betsey Brew to marry him. Perhaps having the vicar announce the marriage will finally force him to get the job done…

J. J. Kneen’s one-act comedy was first performed in London by the London Manx Society in December 1924. It was first produced in the Isle of Man two years later, by the Purt Iern Cushags, when it appeared alongside Christopher Shimmin’s The Dooinney Molley at the Victoria Street Methodist Church, Douglas.

J.J. Kneen was the greatest Manx linguist of his generation, one of the most important scholars of Manx subjects, and the most prolific playwright that the Isle of Man has ever known.