Tom Deserves his Supper

‘Well done, lad,’ Mr. Faggus said good naturedly; for all were now gathered round me, as I rose from the ground, somewhat tottering, and miry, and crest-fallen, but otherwise none the worse (having fallen upon my head, which is of uncommon substance); nevertheless John Fry was laughing, so that I longed to clout his ears for him; ‘Not at all bad work, my boy; we may teach you to ride by-and-by, I see; I thought not to see you stick on so long—’

‘I should have stuck on much longer, sir, if her sides had not been wet. She was so slippery—’-

‘Boy, thou art right. She hath given many the slip. Ha, ha! Vex not, Jack, that I laugh at thee. She is like a sweetheart to me, and better, than any of them be. It would have gone to my heart if thou hadst conquered. None but I can ride my Winnie mare.’

‘Foul shame to thee then, Tom Faggus,’ cried mother, coming up suddenly, and speaking so that all were amazed, having never seen her wrathful; ‘to put my boy, my boy, across her, as if his life were no more than thine! The only son of his father, an honest man, and a quiet man, not a roystering drunken robber! A man would have taken thy mad horse and thee, and flung them both into horse-pond—ay, and what’s more, I’ll have it done now, if a hair of his head is injured. Oh, my boy, my boy! What could I do without thee? Put up the other arm, Johnny.’ All the time mother was scolding so, she was feeling me, and wiping me; while Faggus tried to look greatly ashamed, having sense of the ways of women.

‘Only look at his jacket, mother!’ cried Annie; ‘and a shillingsworth gone from his small-clothes!’

‘What care I for his clothes, thou goose? Take that, and heed thine own a bit.’ And mother gave Annie a slap which sent her swinging up against Mr. Faggus, and he caught her, and kissed and protected her, and she looked at him very nicely, with great tears in her soft blue eyes. ‘Oh, fie upon thee, fie upon thee!’ cried mother (being yet more vexed with him, because she had beaten Annie); ‘after all we have done for thee, and saved thy worthless neck—and to try to kill my son for me! Never more shall horse of thine enter stable here, since these be thy returns to me. Small thanks to you, John Fry, I say, and you Bill Dadds, and you Jem Slocomb, and all the rest of your coward lot; much you care for your master’s son! Afraid of that ugly beast yourselves, and you put a boy just breeched upon him!’

‘Wull, missus, what could us do?’ began John; ‘Jan wudd goo, now wudd’t her, Jem? And how was us—’

‘Jan indeed! Master John, if you please, to a lad of his years and stature. And now, Tom Faggus, be off, if you please, and think yourself lucky to go so; and if ever that horse comes into our yard, I’ll hamstring him myself if none of my cowards dare do it.’

Everybody looked at mother, to hear her talk like that, knowing how quiet she was day by day and how pleasant to be cheated. And the men began to shoulder their shovels, both so as to be away from her, and to go and tell their wives of it. Winnie too was looking at her, being pointed at so much, and wondering if she had done amiss. And then she came to me, and trembled, and stooped her head, and asked my pardon, if she had been too proud with me.

‘Winnie shall stop here to-night,’ said I, for Tom Faggus still said never a word all the while; but began to buckle his things on, for he knew that women are to be met with wool, as the cannon-balls were at the siege of Tiverton Castle; ‘mother, I tell you, Winnie shall stop; else I will go away with her, I never knew what it was, till now, to ride a horse worth riding.’

‘Young man,’ said Tom Faggus, still preparing sternly to depart, ‘you know more about a horse than any man on Exmoor. Your mother may well be proud of you, but she need have had no fear. As if I, Tom Faggus, your father’s cousin—and the only thing I am proud of—would ever have let you mount my mare, which dukes and princes have vainly sought, except for the courage in your eyes, and the look of your father about you. I knew you could ride when I saw you, and rarely you have conquered. But women don’t understand us. Good-bye, John; I am proud of you, and I hoped to have done you

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.