I wull be suvunty-two come Guid Friday a fortnight, she said in reply to my question.
But you are an old woman to be doing this mans work, and a strong mans work at that, I insisted.
Again she seemed to immerse herself in that atmosphere of contemplative eternity, and so strangely did it affect me that I should not have been surprised to have awaked a century or so later and found her just beginning to enunciate her reply -
The work hoz tull be done, an I am beholden tull no one.
But have you no children, no family, relations?
Oh, aye, a-plenty o them, but they no see fut tull be helpun me.
She drew out her pipe for a moment, then added, with a nod of her head toward the house, I luv wuth meself.
I glanced at the house, straw-thatched and commodious, at the large stable, and at the large array of fields I knew must belong with the place.
It is a big bit of land for you to farm by yourself.
Oh, aye, a bug but, suvunty acres. Ut kept me old mon buzzy, along wuth a son an a hired mon, tull say naught o extra honds un the harvest an a maid-servant un the house.
She clambered into the cart, gathered the reins in her hands, and quizzed me with her keen, shrewd eyes.
Belike ye hail from over the watter - Ameruky, Im meanun?
Yes, Im a Yankee, I answered.
Ye wull no be findun mony Island McGill folk stoppun un Ameruky?
No; I dont remember ever meeting one, in the States.
She nodded her head.
They are home-luvun bodies, though I wull no be sayin they are no fair-travelled. Yet they come home ot the last, them oz are no lost ot sea or kult by fevers an such-like un foreign parts.
Then your sons will have gone to sea and come home again? I queried.
Oh, aye, all savun Samuel oz was drownded.
At the mention of Samuel I could have sworn to a strange light in her eyes, and it seemed to me, as by some telepathic flash, that I divined in her a tremendous wistfulness, an immense yearning. It seemed to me that here was the key to her inscrutableness, the clue that if followed properly would make all her strangeness plain. It came to me that here was a contact and that for the moment I was glimpsing into the soul of her. The question was tickling on my tongue, but she forestalled me.
She tchkd to the horse, and with a Guid day tull you, sir, drove off.
A simple, homely people are the folk of Island McGill, and I doubt if a more sober, thrifty, and industrious folk is to be found in all the world. Meeting them abroad - and to meet them abroad one must meet them on the sea, for a hybrid sea-faring and farmer breed are they - one would never take them to be Irish. Irish they claim to be, speaking of the North of Ireland with pride and sneering at their Scottish
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