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   Chapter 7 OLD, UNHAPPY, FAR-OFF THINGS

The Story of Bawn By Katharine Tynan Characters: 4995

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


I found my godmother watering her rose trees on the eastward side of the house from which the sun had now departed. The grassy terraces before the house smelt deliciously, for a water-sprinkler in the grass sent out fine spray like a fountain. It was very hot weather, and I had walked across; it had been cool enough in the shelter of the wood but the roads had been blinding hot.

"Sit down, Bawn," she said, coming towards me, having left her hose to run at the foot of a rose tree. "See how busy I am! Of course, a gardener's boy would do it but I love to give drink to the thirsty."

She was wearing a cool muslin dress transparent at the neck. Round her throat she had a slender chain with a locket to it. She was brown as a berry, but she looked as though the hot weather dealt gently with her. As she sat down by me and took Dido's head into her lap, to the great discomfort of a rabble of jealous dogs who sat round watching her and whining, it struck me that her eyes were the very colour of the dog's and as faithful.

"You look cool," I said.

"And you; you have no idea how pink print becomes you. But first we will have tea. Joan has a sick headache and will have none of me to-day. So we shall be just our two selves."

As she said it I noticed a line of pain and weariness deepen in her forehead, and her lips droop ever so slightly. It was something I had noticed before when Miss Standish had been more than commonly trying. I looked at my godmother with new interest, having learnt what had befallen Uncle Luke. She wore her hair in an old-fashioned way which became her. It was in loops each side of her forehead, displaying her ears, and was then taken up and plaited at the back of her head. The fashion was a quarter of a century old but nothing could have been prettier.

She took Dido's head between her hands and looked down into her eyes.

"She is growing very old, Bawn," she said sadly.

It reminded me of something Maureen had said and had not explained.

"Who gave Dido to Uncle Luke?" I asked.

She turned red and pale.

"What have you been hearing, Bawn?" she asked.

"Maureen has been talking to me about Uncle Luke. I did not think it wrong to listen to her, since I knew that I was to hear the story from you."

"Maureen did not spare me," she said in a low voice.

"For the matter of that she said nothing. She hinted that you had been hard on Uncle Luke, but she bid me ask yourself."

"Do you think it likely I was hard to him, B

awn?"

She was looking into the dog's eyes now and the dog into hers. The two hearts that were always faithful to Uncle Luke understood each other. Deep answered deep.

"I am sure you were not," I said.

"Maureen did not know," she went on gently.

"Sure your dog for you could die

With no truer heart than I,"

she murmured, with a fervour that startled me. Then her eyes grew misty.

"Dido and I are always listening for the same foot," she said. "If Luke L'Estrange were to come back now, perhaps we should both die of joy. What was it you were asking me, Bawn? Who was it gave Luke the dog. It was Irene Cardew, poor girl. All the tragedy is over and done. I don't mind telling you, Bawn-Irene is beyond being hurt by it-that she was fond of Luke. Perhaps it was my fault. Luke had hurt me and I was angry, saying to myself that I did well to be angry. We never do well to be angry, little Bawn, with those we love. I thought there was plenty of time for Luke to come back and be forgiven. But there is never plenty of time in this world. I am sure of one thing, that he loved only me."

"And that is a great thing to be sure of," I said.

A servant brought out the tea-table and set it before us. We were silent while he went to and fro bringing us the tea equipage, the bread and butter and sandwiches and hot tea-cakes. When we were again alone my godmother poured out the tea, smiling at me across the cups.

"We must not talk any more of the old, unhappy, far-off things," she said. "You have heard enough, little Bawn; only take warning by the sins and follies of your elders. Do not quarrel with Theobald, thinking there is time to make up."

"For the matter of that," I said, "I never feel inclined to quarrel with Theobald. And, dear godmother, I am sure you were not hard with Uncle Luke."

"Thank you, Bawn. He was foolish like other young men of his class. I had better tell you, lest you should wrong Luke in your thoughts. He came to me when he had drunk too much. I thought I did well for his own sake to be angry and I sent him away unforgiven. There were many ready to comfort him, and it was not in him to rebuff a woman, especially a woman who let him see that she was in love with him. He was often with Irene Cardew while I was angry with him. It gave colour to the stories afterwards."

"I know; Maureen told me."

"No one that knew him could believe it. It was like Jasper Tuite that he could not even die without wronging another."

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