She saw it the more closely because she had no care of her own to stand first with him. She smiled and stretched out an arm along the pillow where the babe was not. Then suddenly she buried her face in it and wept, and being weak, passed from tears into sleep.
Molly’s protest against the tyranny of home had long since passed into a mere withholding of assent. She went about her daily task more dutifully than ever. She had always been the household drudge: but now she not only took over all the clerical work upon the Dissertationes in Librum Jobi (for the Rector’s right hand was shaken by palsy and the drawings occupied more and more of Johnny Whitelamb’s time); she devised new schemes for eking out the family income. She bred poultry. With Johnny’s help—he was famous with the spade—she added half an acre to the kitchen garden and planted it. The summer of 1727 proved one of the rainiest within men’s memory, and floods covered the face of the country almost to the Parsonage door. “I hope,” wrote the Rector to John on June 6th, “I may be able to serve both my cures this summer, or if not, die pleasantly in my last dike.” On June 21st he could “make shift to get from Wroote to Epworth by boat.” Five days later he was twisted with rheumatism as a result of his Sunday journey to Epworth and back, “being lamed with having my breeches too full of water, partly with a downpour from a thunder-shower, and partly from the wash over the boat. Yet I thank God I was able to preach here in the afternoon. I wish the rain had not reached us on this side Lincoln, but we have it so continual that we have scarce one bank left, and I can’t possibly have one quarter of oats in all the levels; but thanks be to God the field-barley and rye are good. We can neither go afoot nor horseback to Epworth, but only by boat as far as Scawsit Bridge and then walk over the common, though I hope it will soon be better.”
That week the floods subsided, and on July 4th he wrote again: “My hide is tough, and I think no carrion can kill me. I walked sixteen miles yesterday; and this morning, I thank God, I was not a penny worse. The occasion of this booted walk was to hire a room for myself at Epworth, which I think I have done. You will find your mother much altered. I believe what would kill a cat has almost killed her. I have observed of late little convulsions in her very frequently, which I don’t like.”
This report frightened John, who wrote back urgently for further particulars. Mrs. Wesley had indeed fallen into a low state of health, occasioned partly (as Kezzy declared in a letter) by “want of clothes or convenient meat,” partly by the miasma from the floods. Ague was the commonest of maladies in the Isle of Axholme, and even the labourers fortified themselves against it with opium.