“My good man,” he said, “you will remember that a fortnight ago I lent you nine guineas. To-morrow morning you must return them to me.”
“Those guineas,” replied the farmer, “I paid, as you know, to the man who said he would go instead of me to be trained as a soldier. But he has not yet gone, and I can still get the guineas back from him and go myself to be trained.”
The Attorney was not prepared for this answer. “I do not want to drive you to that,” he said, pretending to be kind. “Now about the field—you do not want to add it to the farm, do you?”
“Certainly not, for it is not mine.”
“Then why object to my having it?”
“Because it is not yours. The children who play there have the right. It belongs to the village. Truth is truth.”
“And a debt is a debt,” shouted the angry Attorney, “and must be paid. Bring me my nine guineas!”
With a heavy heart Farmer Price walked on. He passed the door of his cottage and went in search of the man to whom he had paid the money. The man was quite willing to return it, as there were many others, he said, who would be willing to give him the same sum or more for his services. The moment Price got the money he took it straight to Mr. Case, laid it on his desk and was going away, when the Attorney called out, “Not so fast, you have forgotten your lease.”
“Ah yes! my lease, I had forgotten it. Let me have it.”
“Pardon me,” said the Attorney with a cruel smile, “but I cannot let you have it. On reading it over I find that owing to a mistake you may be turned out of the farm at any time. I must keep it to show to Sir Arthur. I have no doubt he will want me to look after things for him as I did for his brother. Now perhaps you wish you had quietly let me add the field to my garden.”
Farmer Price said nothing, but dragged himself home a sad man.
When Susan had heard her father’s story, she quite forgot the loss of her guinea-hen, and thought only of her poor mother who, try as she might, could not bear the bad news. In the middle of the night Susan was roused, as Mrs. Price had become ill, and it was not until early morning that the poor woman fell asleep, her daughter’s hand locked fast in hers. Susan remained sitting by the bedside, breathing quietly. Then seeing the candle burn low, she gently withdrew her hand, and on tiptoe went to put out the light, lest the unpleasant smell should wake her mother. All was silent. The gray light of dawn stole into the little room; the sun rose slowly, and Susan peered through the small panes of the lattice window at the glorious sight. A few birds began to chirp, and as the little girl listened to them, her mother started and spoke in her sleep. Susan quickly hung up a white apron before the window to keep out the light, and at the same moment she heard in the distance the voices of the village children singing their Mayday songs. Soon she could see them, Philip leading the way playing upon his pipe and tabor, the others following with nosegays and garlands in their hands. They were coming towards the cottage. Quickly but quietly Susan unlatched the door and ran to meet them.