Villa Rubein, and other stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 374 pages of information about Villa Rubein, and other stories.

“4th August.

......For three days after I wrote last, nothing at all happened here.   I
spent the mornings on the cliff reading, and watching the sun-sparks
raining on the sea.   It’s grand up there with the gorse all round, the
gulls basking on the rocks, the partridges calling in the corn, and now
and then a young hawk overhead.   The afternoons I spent out in the
orchard.   The usual routine goes on at the farm all the
time—­cow-milking, bread-baking, John Ford riding in and out, Pasiance in
her garden stripping lavender, talking to the farm hands; and the smell
of clover, and cows and hay; the sound of hens and pigs and pigeons, the
soft drawl of voices, the dull thud of the farm carts; and day by day the
apples getting redder.   Then, last Monday, Pasiance was away from sunrise
till sunset—­nobody saw her go—­nobody knew where she had gone.   It was a
wonderful, strange day, a sky of silver-grey and blue, with a drift of
wind-clouds, all the trees sighing a little, the sea heaving in a long,
low swell, the animals restless, the birds silent, except the gulls with
their old man’s laughter and kitten’s mewing.

A something wild was in the air; it seemed to sweep across the downs and combe, into the very house, like a passionate tune that comes drifting to your ears when you’re sleepy.  But who would have thought the absence of that girl for a few hours could have wrought such havoc!  We were like uneasy spirits; Mrs. Hopgood’s apple cheeks seemed positively to wither before one’s eyes.  I came across a dairymaid and farm hand discussing it stolidly with very downcast faces.  Even Hopgood, a hard-bitten fellow with immense shoulders, forgot his imperturbability so far as to harness his horse, and depart on what he assured me was “just a wild-guse chaace.”  It was long before John Ford gave signs of noticing that anything was wrong, but late in the afternoon I found him sitting with his hands on his knees, staring straight before him.  He rose heavily when he saw me, and stalked out.  In the evening, as I was starting for the coastguard station to ask for help to search the cliff, Pasiance appeared, walking as if she could hardly drag one leg after the other.  Her cheeks were crimson; she was biting her lips to keep tears of sheer fatigue out of her eyes.  She passed me in the doorway without a word.  The anxiety he had gone through seemed to forbid the old man from speaking.  He just came forward, took her face in his hands, gave it a great kiss, and walked away.  Pasiance dropped on the floor in the dark passage, and buried her face on her arms.  “Leave me alone!” was all she would say.  After a bit she dragged herself upstairs.  Presently Mrs. Hopgood came to me.

“Not a word out of her—­an’ not a bite will she ate, an’ I had a pie all ready—­scrumptious.  The good Lord knows the truth—­she asked for brandy; have you any brandy, sir?  Ha-apgood’e don’t drink it, an’ Mister Ford ’e don’t allaow for anything but caowslip wine.”

Project Gutenberg
Villa Rubein, and other stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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