When the little girl of Ruffluck Croft was to be taken to the parsonage, to be christened, that father of hers behaved so foolishly that Katrina and the godparents were quite put out with him.
It was the wife of Eric of Falla who was to bear the child to the christening. She sat in the cart with the infant while Eric of Falla, himself, walked alongside the vehicle, and held the reins. The first part of the road, all the way to Doveness, was so wretched it could hardly be called a road, and of course Eric had to drive very carefully, since he had the unchristened child to convey.
Jan had himself brought the child from the house and turned it over to the godmother, and had seen them set out. No one knew better than he into what good hands it was being intrusted. And he also knew that Eric of Falla was just as confident at handling the reins as at everything else. As for Eric’s wife—why she had borne and reared seven children; therefore he should not have felt the least bit uneasy.
Once they were well on their way and Jan had again gone back to his digging, a terrible sense of fear came over him. What if Eric’s horse should shy? What if the parson should drop the child? What if the mistress of Falla should wrap too many shawls around the little girl, so she’d be smothered when they arrived with her at the parsonage?
He argued with himself that it was wrong in him to borrow trouble, when his child had such godfolk as the master and mistress of Falla. Yet his anxiety would not be stilled. Of a sudden he dropped his spade and started for the parsonage just as he was taking the short cut across the heights, and running at top speed all the way. When Eric of Falla drove into the stable-yard of the parsonage the first person that met his eyes was Jan of Ruffluck.
Now, it is not considered the proper thing for the father or mother to be present at the christening, and Jan saw at once that the Falla folk were displeased at his coming to the parsonage. Eric did not beckon to him to come and help with the horse, but unharnessed the beast himself, and the mistress of Falla, drawing the child closer to her, crossed the yard and went into the parson’s kitchen, without saying a word to Jan.
Since the godparents would not so much as notice him, he dared not approach them; but when the godmother swept past him he heard a little piping sound from the bundle on her arm. Then he at least knew the child had not been smothered.
He felt it was stupid in him not to have gone home at once. But now he was so sure the parson would drop the child, that he had to stay.
He lingered a moment in the stable-yard, then went straight over to the house and up the steps into the hallway.
It is the worst possible form for the father to appear before the clergyman, particularly when his child has ouch sponsors as Eric of Falla, and his wife. When the door to the pastor’s study swung open and Jan of Ruffluck in his soiled workaday clothes calmly shuffled into the room, just after the pastor had begun the service and there was no way of driving him out, the godparents swore to themselves that once they were home they would take him severely to task for his unseemly behaviour.