Under the Greenwood Tree
PART I: 7. The Tranter's Party
During the afternoon unusual activity was seen to prevail about the precincts of tranter
Dewy's house. The flagstone floor was swept of dust, and a sprinkling of the finest
yellow sand from the innermost stratum of the adjoining sand-pit lightly scattered
thereupon. Then were produced large knives and forks, which had been shrouded in
darkness and grease since the last occasion of the kind, and bearing upon their sides,
"Shear-steel, warranted," in such emphatic letters of assurance, that the warranter's name
was not required as further proof, and not given. The key was left in the tap of the cider-
barrel, instead of being carried in a pocket. And finally the tranter had to stand up in the
room and let his wife wheel him round like a turnstile, to see if anything discreditable
was visible in his appearance.
"Stand still till I've been for the scissors," said Mrs. Dewy.
The tranter stood as still as a sentinel at the challenge.
The only repairs necessary were a trimming of one or two whiskers that had extended
beyond the general contour of the mass; a like trimming of a slightly-frayed edge visible
on his shirt-collar; and a final tug at a grey hair--to all of which operations he submitted
in resigned silence, except the last, which produced a mild "Come, come, Ann," by way
"Really, Reuben, 'tis quite a disgrace to see such a man," said Mrs. Dewy, with the
severity justifiable in a long-tried companion, giving him another turn round, and picking
several of Smiler's hairs from the shoulder of his coat. Reuben's thoughts seemed
engaged elsewhere, and he yawned. "And the cellar of your coat is a shame to behold--so
plastered with dirt, or dust, or grease, or something. Why, wherever could you have got
"'Tis my warm nater in summer-time, I suppose. I always did get in such a heat when I
"Ay, the Dewys always were such a coarse-skinned family. There's your brother Bob just
as bad--as fat as a porpoise--wi' his how, mean, "How'st do, Ann?" whenever he meets
me. I'd "How'st do" him indeed! If the sun only shines out a minute, there be you all
streaming in the face--I never see!"
"If I be hot week-days, I must be hot Sundays."
"If any of the girls should turn after their father 'twill be a bad look-out for 'em, poor
things! None of my family were sich vulgar sweaters, not one of 'em. But, Lord-a-mercy,
the Dewys! I don't know how ever I cam' into such a family!"