AMUSEMENTS FOR EVERYBODY 125
table busily mixing some dough in a wooden bowl. She wears a coarse apron over very coarse clothes: her head is covered with a shawl, her sleeves are pushed up as far as they will go.
Good-Wife (turning the dough on to the table and kneading it).—Now if you would eat well to-night, stranger, you had best leave off dreaming there by the fire and attend to me. These are rye-cakes for the supper. Do you hear? And they must b.e watched while they are baking . . . (repeating slowly and solemnly) watched while they are baking—■ (sharply) do you hear me?
King Alfred (dreamily).—Yes, my good dame . . . washed while they are baking. . . .
Good-Wife (turning round, hands on hips, and looking at him). Washed! Watched, I said: I declare the fellow's half asleep! Wake up, my man, and listen to me! (kneading dough again). They must be watched well, for they are quick to burn . . . (dividing the dough into four parts and making it into round cakes) and what's more, you shall be the one to watch them for me.
King Alfred (still dreamily).—I . . .?
Good-Wife.—Yes, you . . . you might as well do that as sit dreaming over the fire all day. I have enough to do as it is: there are the pigs and the hens to feed, the beasts to see to, and a-many more things besides. I cannot spare the time, although I am loath to leave my fine cakes with such a lazy fellow.
King Alfred.—I will watch them carefully for you, good dame.
Good-Wife (going to fire and putting the cakes carefully on the top).—So be it. Now, look you, they must be brown and yet not too brown, and when one side is nicely done you must turn them, but carefully. So—(showing him).
King Alfred.—Yes . . . yes ... it shall be done, never fear.
Good-Wife.—But mind this, my man, they will burn if you do not take care, for the charcoal is hot. You must never take your eyes off them a moment—never a moment, do you hear ? or you will go hungry this night to bed, and to-morrow and the next day. We cannot afford to waste good food in this lonely place.