Olly: Could ya pour me a cuppa, mum?
Ol’ Massy, the tea marm: Sure thing.
Olly: Sorry, mum, not from that mug though it’s a pretty piece.
Massy: What are you on about, boy?
Olly: Sorry, mum. I like that mettle ‘un.
Ol’ Massy: Whyever? It’s all dinged up.
Olly: Aye, mum. That last time Darcy got me a cuppa from that there pot. I felt like I could fight a hoard of Romans.
Ol’ Massy: *on whom the light dawned, said faintly* Legion, dear. A legion of Romans. Hoard is the Barbarians.
Olly: Dreadful lot, yeah? Thank you, mum. We’re playing sevens with the lads from Brighton. They’ll never know what hit ’em. Cheers!
Ol’ Massy, with a pinched brow, watched him leave the shop, a strapping pup eager to rend the damp earth. There was a fierce ache brewing in her left temple. She didn’t lean to the left for the green tea, no, she stood dead still and listened. And what she heard confirmed a suspicion.
Behind the back counter, where the herbs were hung in their pockets, Darcy lay convulsing. Massy knew well enough by now not to be concerned, the wretched girl’s face was contorted in stifled laughter.
“Did you give that boy one of your experimental herbs?” she demanded.
“I … I might ‘ave,” Darcy choked out.
“Oh, you think you’re having a lark, do you? You won’t be this grand when you’ll wash all their clothes after the game.”
That got Darcy’s blood flowing. “I will not! I’m no man’s maid.”
“Tell that to Father Brennan. It’s unethical, and you’ve got poor Olly like a fool. Haven’t you any remorse?”
“Fine, fine!” She scrambled up and stalked out.
Ol’ Massy was getting too old for this shite.