She could not tell. When the temper is overcharged it overflows, nine times out of ten, into a channel absurdly irrelevant.
What on earth had David to do with it? She halted and laughed while Molly entreated her. In the dyke the black water crawled at her feet, and upon it a star shone.
“Star Mary—stella maris, if only you will shine steadily and guide me! Kiss me now, and hear that I am sorry.”
But it was Molly who, later that night, put out both arms in the bed where they slept together: and with a wail which lasted until Hetty enfolded her and held her close.
“I was dreaming,” she muttered. “I dreamt—of that man.”
For six months of the year, sometimes for longer, the thatched parsonage at Wroote rose out of a world of waters, forlorn as a cornstack in a flood, and the Rector of Epworth journeyed between his two parishes by boat, often in soaked breeches, and sometimes with a napkin tied over his hat and wig. But in this harvest weather, while the sun shone and the meadow-breezes overcame the odours of damp walls and woodwork, of the pig-sty at the back and of rotting weed beyond, the Wesley household lived cheerfully enough, albeit pinched for room; more cheerfully than at Epworth, where the more spacious rectory, rebuilt by Mr. Wesley at a cost of 400 pounds, remained half-furnished after fourteen years—a perpetual reminder of debt.
Here at any rate, although Wroote tithe brought in a bare 50 pounds a year, they could manage to live and pay their way, and feel meanwhile that they were lessening the burden. For Dick Ellison, Sukey’s husband, had undertaken to finance Epworth tithe, and was renting the rectory for a while with the purpose of bringing his father-in-law’s affairs to order—a filial offer which Mr. Wesley perforce accepted while hating Dick from the bottom of his heart, and the deeper because of this necessity.
Dick was his “wen,” “more unpleasant to him than all his physic”—a red-faced, uneducated squireen, with money in his pockets (as yet), a swaggering manner due to want of sense rather than deliberate offensiveness, and a loud patronising laugh which drove the Rector mad. Comedy presided over their encounters; but such comedy as only the ill-natured can enjoy. And the Rector, splenetic, exacting, jealous of authority, after writhing for a time under Dick’s candid treatment of him as a child, usually cut short the scene by bouncing off to his library and slamming the door behind him.
Even Mrs. Wesley detested her son-in-law, and called him “a coarse, vulgar, immoral man “; but confessed (in his absence) that they were all the better off for his help. Ease from debt she had never known; but here at Wroote the clouds seemed to be breaking. Duns had been fewer of late. With her poultry-yard and small dairy she was earning a few pounds, and this gave her a sense of helpfulness