John is worsted by the Women

Moved as I was by Annie’s tears, and gentle style of coaxing, and most of all by my love for her, I yet declared that I could not go, and leave our house and homestead, far less my dear mother and Lizzie, at the mercy of the merciless Doones.

‘Is that all your objection, John?’ asked Annie, in her quick panting way: ‘would you go but for that, John?’

‘Now,’ I said, ‘be in no such hurry’—for while I was gradually yielding, I liked to pass it through my fingers, as if my fingers shaped it: ‘there are many things to be thought about, and many ways of viewing it.’

‘Oh, you never can have loved Lorna! No wonder you gave her up so! John, you can love nobody, but your oat-ricks, and your hay-ricks.’

‘Sister mine, because I rant not, neither rave of what I feel, can you be so shallow as to dream that I feel nothing? What is your love for Tom Faggus? What is your love for your baby (pretty darling as he is) to compare with such a love as for ever dwells with me? Because I do not prate of it; because it is beyond me, not only to express, but even form to my own heart in thoughts; because I do not shape my face, and would scorn to play to it, as a thing of acting, and lay it out before you, are you fools enough to think—’ but here I stopped, having said more than was usual with me.

‘I am very sorry, John. Dear John, I am so sorry. What a shallow fool I am!’

‘I will go seek your husband,’ I said, to change the subject, for even to Annie I would not lay open all my heart about Lorna: ‘but only upon condition that you ensure this house and people from the Doones meanwhile. Even for the sake of Tom, I cannot leave all helpless. The oat-ricks and the hay-ricks, which are my only love, they are welcome to make cinders of. But I will not have mother treated so; nor even little Lizzie, although you scorn your sister so.’

‘Oh, John, I do think you are the hardest, as well as the softest of all the men I know. Not even a woman’s bitter word but what you pay her out for. Will you never understand that we are not like you, John? We say all sorts of spiteful things, without a bit of meaning. John, for God’s sake fetch Tom home; and then revile me as you please, and I will kneel and thank you.’

‘I will not promise to fetch him home,’ I answered, being ashamed of myself for having lost command so: ‘but I will promise to do my best, if we can only hit on a plan for leaving mother harmless.’

Annie thought for a little while, trying to gather her smooth clear brow into maternal wrinkles, and then she looked at her child, and said, ‘I will risk it, for daddy’s sake, darling; you precious soul, for daddy’s sake.’ I asked her what she was going to risk. She would not tell me; but took upper hand, and saw to my cider-cans and bacon, and went from corner to cupboard, exactly as if she had never been married; only without an apron on. And then she said, ‘Now to your mowers, John; and make the most of this fine afternoon; kiss your godson before you go.’ And I, being used to obey her, in little things of that sort, kissed the baby, and took my cans, and went back to my scythe again.

By the time I came home it was dark night, and pouring again with a foggy rain, such as we have in July, even more than in January. Being soaked all through, and through, and with water quelching in my boots, like a pump with a bad bucket, I was only too glad to find Annie’s bright face, and quick figure, flitting in and out the firelight, instead of Lizzie sitting grandly, with a feast of literature, and not a drop of gravy. Mother was in the corner also, with her cheery-coloured ribbons glistening very nice by candle- light, looking at Annie now and then, with memories of her babyhood; and then at her having a baby: yet half afraid of praising her much, for fear of that young Lizzie. But Lizzie showed no jealousy: she truly loved our Annie (now that she was gone from us), and she wanted to know all sorts of things, and she adored the baby. Therefore Annie was allowed to attend to me, as she used to do.

‘Now, John, you must start the first thing in the morning,’ she said, when the others had left the room, but somehow she stuck to the baby, ‘to fetch me back my rebel, according to your promise.’

  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.