One evening as he was getting ready to open up the pub, she and Marian entered the bar, carrying the silk Temperance banners they had been occupied in embroidering for the past six months. Mother and daughter were cloaked and bonneted and ready to set out on their nightly mission to protest outside the taverns of the town.
‘Get that stuff out of my bar,’ Jack snapped. ‘You can take your protests elsewhere.’
‘We are committed to visiting every public house in Middlesbrough. Why should this one be an exception?’ said Marian
He was polishing glasses behind the bar and slammed one down so hard that it smashed into pieces. He cursed and sucked at the blood that had started to pool on one of his fingers.
‘It’s drink that puts the food on your table. It’s drink that pays for the clothes on your backs.’
‘I married you when you were a teacher,’ Mary Ellen said. ‘I didn’t marry a publican. You can always be a teacher again. I’m ashamed every time I see the priest or carry this banner. My own husband is shaming the family and the church by encouraging people to drink.’
‘I don’t encourage anyone to drink. It’s still a free country as far as I know. If people choose to forget about their miserable lives by paying for a bit of comfort then who am I to stand in their way?’
‘If this place were closed they couldn’t drink here,’ she said.
‘If this place were closed they’d cross the street and drink in the White Horse.’
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