Jack and his Ma: A Dialogue

Look at you, Jack! You’ve got crumbs all over your vest and your laces are untied. If you don’t smarten yourself up, you’ll never find work at the market.

Suits me, Ma. You know those greedy farmers’ll work a man to death and pay them half what they promised! I’d rather stay here.

That’s because you’ve never been hungry, lad. All those years after your Pa died, I went without so’s you’d grow up big and strong and look at you – thin as a ferret and twice as sneaky. I’d ha been better off leaving you out for the crows.

Aah, but then who would be here to soak your bunions and rest his chin on your head when it’s raining?

I weren’t always this old, boy. Once upon a time, I had five different dresses and a comb for Sundays and ohhhh. Look what you’ve done. You’re going to be late if you don’t get going. Let me get those crumbs while you tie your laces. And don’t think I didn’t see that extra biscuit in your pocket! You’ll replace the crumbs before the end of the lane, no doubt.

Nonsense, Ma. You’re going batty.

Less of your lip. And don’t forget to take Daisy to the stream by the church. At least if she’s well-watered, they might not notice how skinny she is and you’ll get a decent price.

Yes, Ma. Bye, Ma.

And Jack?

Ma?

This is important. You know we’re in trouble. If we have another winter like the last, then I…

I know, Ma. I love you. Trust me.

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