keskiviikko 20. tammikuuta 2016

Chapter Nineteen: Tom Leaves

The day was rainy, and not only outside of Five Cherry Trees. Ethel sat on the umbrella-rack and sobbed behind her handkerchief, Myra hit the keyboards of the old piano as if it had been her worst enemy, and Louisa, who helped her mother in packing, swallowed her tears.

“Well, he’s not leaving forever”, said Maggie and tried to sound brisk. “Maybe he comes back next summer.”

“But next summer can never be like this one!” And Louisa sat on Tom’s trunk and took her handkerchief, too.

“I hope so. Tom’s a good lad, but when he’s around we have far too much happenings, if you ask me. Just remember that adventure of the mouse — though it wasn’t his fault — or how he turned dirty water on Muriel Henderson. No, I must say I need some rest now.”

Laura smiled.

“You must prepare for your wedding, dear Maggie”,  she said.

“There’s not much preparing in them.” Aunty blushed. ”I mean, we won’t have many guests.”

“Why?” asked Louisa within her tears. “I’d love to have a great wedding!”

“Nonsense, child. When you’re forty you will think as I do. Where’s Tom, anyway?”

“He went to the village — I think the boys have arranged something for him. And Angus went to the Ferguson place. Oh, I hardly can believe we are like a real family again!” Laura sighed happily.

“It feels almost like a sin to waste time in sleeping”, said Louisa. “I’d like to be awake the whole winter just to be with Daddy!”

“Put these shoes to the trunk and stop that nonsense”,  said Aunt Maggie gently.

The boys in the village had really arranged a farewell party for Tom. It was set in Kerr’s barn, and every boy had taken something for eat. They spent the whole afternoon there, Tom was late from dinner, and did not want any meal.

That evening went very fast, and when Ethel looked to the clock and thought it was seven, it was half past eight.

“Well, time to go to to sleep”, said Captain MacDonald. ”I’ll come with you and tell you about the Chinese when you’re in bed.”

“About real Chinese with slanting eyes?” Myra wanted to know.

“You’ve never heard about realler Chinese.”

”I’d like to speak with you, Tom”, Laura said, when the girls left comforted for their bedrooms. ”If you don’t feel horrible to be left without a story about Chinese.”

“Oh, no”,  said Tom. “Have I done something?”

“You indeed have.” Laura stepped nearer, put her hands on his shoulders and turned him before the old, dim looking-glass of the parlour. “What do you see?”

Tom looked his picture. A firm, sun-burned, shaggy-haired boy looked back; a boy with springy body and hard muscles, round, rosy cheeks and laughing black eyes — nothing was left of the little weak creature who had once stepped into this parlour.

“Well?” said Laura.

Tom turned around and gave her a bear hug.

“Thank you”,  he murmured. “I’ve never had a summer like this!”

I’m glad of it. And maybe you can come next summer, too.”

“I beg mother till she lets me come. Oh, and maybe she can come along, and father — but of course it’d be too expensive for you.” Tom had already learned to count pennies.

“Nonsense, dear.” Laura kissed his black curlies.

“Well, well!” Angus MacDonald came down the stairs. ”What I see! You are a charmer, young man; girls will cry themselves into sleep, and now my wife is here embracing you!”

Tom laughed, and the Captain patted his shoulder.

“You’d become a fine sailor lad”, he said.

“Don’t put ideas like that into his head!” commanded Laura. “I don’t think Cristen would ever let him leave for sea!”

“Aren’t those women too sensitive? But I must say you’ve become a man during this summer. I never saw you when you came, but I’ve seen a photograph of you — and if somebody had put the photograph and you side by side and told it’s the same lad l’d said he’s the biggest lier ever born.”

At that moment Aunt Maggie came from the kitchen, where she had been making supper dishes.

“You must go to bed, too, lad”,  she said. ”Or you won’t get out of bed tomorrow early enough. Hurry up!”

Tom left. When he entered his room, which looked very empty when his books and other things were all packed in the trunks, he found gifts of the girls on his bed.

Louisa had given a little paperback notebook filled with stories about the MacDonald family ghosts, Myra bought five honeysticks, and little Ethel sewed slippers —very clumsy, very grey slippers, but made of warm and soft material.

“I think I’ll die tomorrow”, muttered Tom and wiped off a tear .

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