Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chapter 19

     It was dark and there was no light in the room. Duncan entered and lighting a small candle on the bedside table, tapped the sleeping Angus on the shoulders..
     "Son? Are ye ill?"
     Angus opened his eyes blinked at the flickering candle. "What day is this?"
    "It is the evening after the hunt. Ye have slept since yesterday morning."
     Angus arose and poured a pitcher of water into a bowl. Then washed his face and hands. "I suppose the guests wondered where their host was?"
    "Yes, but they were more concerned whether or not they would be invited next year."
     "That was the gist of it?"
     "Aye, except there was some whispering as to whether or not you had proposed to Mary."
     "No I did not."
     "What happened between ye and Mary?"
     "She expected something that I could not find it in me heart to  deliver."
     "Oh, that explains why her family made a hasty retreat."
     "Mr. Jordan implied that I had wronged her by not proposing, wasted her life."
     In the wee candle light Duncan observed Angus' pained eyes and the wretched folds in his cheeks. His face was drawn into an expression of hopelessness and his knees buckled when he walked across the room. "The paddock fence is down.  Must have gotten kicked in with so many mares put inside. We best go check it."
     Angus slipped unceremoniously  into his waist coat and gloves. They walked to the paddock and examined a fallen pole.
      "I can repair this," Angus said fetching a shovel. " Hold the lantern over me."  He dug around the pole and patted firm  the dirt around it with his feet; then reset the log cross-ties. "You know, pa, it feels good to do a wee bit of labor with my own hands.  Guess it is the Scotch in me. I am nought the aristocrat that Catherine Winship wants, nor Mary's gentleman planter. Perhaps that is what is wrong with me. I cannot fit into those shoes."
     Duncan sighed deeply and glanced about him at the out-buildings.  "But I no think ye can escape the fact that ye are a planter. Ashley Loche is already the largest producer of rice in these parts. No one can argue that fact."
     "I did not get a wife."
     "I had hoped that ye would find someone. Perhaps ye should listen to ye own heart and go after Miss Winship."
     "Pa, I proposed marriage to Miss Winship a long time since.  She said that I was not good enough."
     "I should think that she would prefer not to be the old maid."


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