Mrs Johnstone sings of how she fell in love while dancing, but that her husband left her because she no longer looked like Marilyn Monroe. She has seven children despite being only 25, but the audience are told that she looks much older; and she is pregnant again.
Mrs Johnstone can’t afford even the basics of life - her kids complain about being hungry. But she thinks she’ll be able to get by when she starts her new job, cleaning for a couple called Mr and Mrs Lyons.
The Lyons are well off and live in a large house. Mrs Lyons explains that she is lonely. Her husband is away working for nine months.They have no children of their own – a strong contrast to the Johnstone family.Seems to more wealthy than Mrs Johnstone.
Mrs Johnstone finds out that she is expecting twins. This will mean the Social Services, the ‘Welfare’, will put even more pressure on her to put some of her children into care. She tells Mrs Lyons, who offers to bring up one of the twins as her own child, saying that she can give him a good home. Mrs Johnstone, in awe of the Lyons’ wealth and the possibility of a comfortable upbringing for at least one of her children, eventually agrees. They make a vow of silence and swear over the Bible. Not even Mr Lyons will know.
Mrs Johnstone gives birth to the twins. Mrs Lyons arrives and, after reminding Mrs Johnstone of their pact, takes one of the twins.
Mrs Johnstone still works at Mrs Lyons’ house, but Mrs Lyons feels uncomfortable, thinking that Mrs Johnstone is becoming too attached to the twin she has given away. Mrs Lyons tries to pay Mrs Johnstone to leave. Mrs Johnstone threatens to tell the police about the baby, but Mrs Lyons terrifies her with a superstitious omen: she claims that if either twin learns of his brother, both will die. Mrs Johnstone leaves and stops working at the Lyon’s house.
Mickey and Edward
Seven years pass. Mickey is the twin that stayed with Mrs Johnstone. He has been playing a favourite childhood game of the time, ‘Cowboys and Indians’ near the ‘big’ houses. Mrs Johnstone tells him off because he is not allowed to play there. Edward Lyons, the other twin, has seen Mickey playing and comes to find him. This is the first time in the play that they speak to each other. Edward offers Mickey lots of sweets and they become friendly.
They learn that their birthdays are identical and decide to become ‘blood brothers’. They nick their hands with Mickey’s penknife and clasp hands. Mickey says “See, this means that we’re blood brothers, an’ that we always have to stand by each other.”
Mrs Johnstone comes out and asks Edward his name. When she realises who he is, she orders Mickey into the house and tells Edward never to come back again.
Later Mickey sneaks to the Lyons’ house to calls for Edward. Mrs Lyons quickly realises who he is and takes Edward away. She tells Edward not to mix with ‘boys like that’.