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JOAN and SIMON (at the door of LAINE's room). Laine! wench!

JOAN. Hath fastened up her door against us.

SIMON (leaving the door). Nay then, let her bide. The heart lightens when the tears flow.

JOAN (joining him). Gramercy, our child will be ugly again.

SIMON. True. Yet what matters that? She was happier as she was, it would seem.

JOAN. Aye, and more secure, as she saith.

SIMON. And when you think on't, she was ne'er ugly to us.

JOAN. She! ugly!

SIMON. The word was thine.

JOAN. Peace! your mind wanders, my man. (Looking down at the stone.)How shall we deal with the stone? The Friar may be miles away ere now.

SIMON (stooping to pick it up). Let us hide it.

JOAN (arresting his arm). Nay, touch it not.

SIMON. Why?

JOAN. She called it accursed.

SIMON. Accursed it cannot be, when it is the holiest of relics. (After some hesitation he picks it up.)

JOAN (in fear). Hold it further from thee.

SIMON (gazing at the stone). Blessed St. Luke! 'tis of a ruddy, generous colour!

JOAN (regaining courage).Yea, so 'tis.

SIMON (glancing at LAINE's door). The foolish wench! (To JOAN.) Beshrew me! is't not a pity to waste it?

JOAN. What mean you?

SIMON. Though it hath wrought ill to one, doth it follow 'twould so harm another?

JOAN. Beauty bringeth shame, quo' she.

SIMON. Aye, upon a maid, because 'twill encourage unrighteous love. Yet it could bring no shame to thee.

JOAN. To me!

SIMON. To thee; for thou'rt a wife, and the love I still bear thee is righteous enough, heaven knows.

JOAN. Simon! Why, thy heart is not warm for me, after these years?

SIMON. Sooth, I am but ill-humoured with thee from sheer weariness of body.

JOAN (embracing him). Oh, my man, my man!

SIMON. Aye, in all my troubles I have ne'er lacked friend, with thee by my side.

JOAN. Heaven bless thee! Oft have we come near to starving together, yet to-day am I glad I wed thee.

SIMON. Joan, take thou the stone and let me see again the buxom lass I courted years agone at Zolden.

JOAN. Nay, rather let me see the comely lad who would walk out from Freyden o' Sundays with a bunch o' flowers in's hand. Dost remember?

SIMON. Ha!

JOAN. We were four — I and my girl mates; and thou didst choose me!

SIMON. So did I!

JOAN. Ha, ha, ha! me! Quick! hang thou the stone about thy neck.

SIMON. Not I. To see thee as thou wert would straighten me and ease my creaking bones. Take it, old love, 'tis for thee.

JOAN. Nay, sweetheart — for thee, for thee!

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