maanantai 18. tammikuuta 2016

Chapter Seventeen: On a Rainy Day

“What’s going on here?” asked Laura. ”You are all like going to fly.”

“Nothing”, said Myra, who was standing by the dining-room window and looking out to the rain.

“Well, I wonder how you will act when something is going on.” Laura went to the kitchen, where Aunt Maggie was ironing girls’ aprons.

“He won’t come”,  said Tom. ”I told you he won’t come. And neither would I, if I had any sense in my head!”

“You’re so prosaic”, scolded Louisa. “If he really loves…”

“Loves!” repeated Tom scornfully. “There’s not a thing called love for forty-year-olds!”

“Of course there is. Oh, look — I see the motor car lamps! I see them! He’s coming!” Ethel jumped up and down around the dining-room. “Oh, Louisa, just like in some story — a prince coming to seek a princess!”

Louisa did not hear. She was already on the gate opening it. Her thick hair pasted up on her back and her just-washed muslin dress was soaking, but she smiled as happily as if sun had been shining.

“Get in, you crazy lass”,  said Douglas Ferguson. ”You’ll catch a death disease here! Is your — Aunty home?”

“Oh, yes, in the kitchen — what are you going to do — are you staying here?”

Douglas stepped to the veranda and petted Louisa’s wet hair.

“I am, dearie. Thing called telephone is great. My secretary said I’m a fool, and I thanked him from all my heart. A person in his full senses can never be happy. And now, out of my way, or I won’t ask you to be our bridesmaid.”

Douglas Ferguson went to the kitchen. Laura MacDonald came out of the kitchen. The children sat around the dining-room table and tried to look as if they were interested in the checkers board they had spread.

“Well, you rascals.” Laura looked at them and smiled. ”Now I know what’s going on, and I’m so happy I won’t punish you for keeping it from my eyes. It is time for Maggie to start thinking of herself instead of us.”

Half an hour went. Another half an hour went. Tom sighed and scratched the table-cloth. Louisa was trying to keep the checkers play on, but it was too hard, because she had to listen all the time the kitchen door. Myra kicked tablefoot. Ethel asked Laura if all the people needed that much time for proposing.

At last Laura rose.

“I’ve wasted half a day soon in this foolishness, though I should be finishing Mrs Weilson’s new dress”,  she said. “Call me when they are ready!” She went to her workroom.

When an hour and a quarter had gone, Tom slipped down from his chair and went to the door. Then he kneeled and looked through the keyhole.

“Thomas Callanger!” whispered Louisa. “Don’t you know you mustn’t do that!”

“Yes. But if I don’t, they’ll stay there all the day! O-o-o-o…”

“What’s that?” All the girls came around him.

“Well...” Tom rose. “Nothing special. My, Louisa MacDonald!”

“Shut up.” Louisa had now kneeled before the keyhole and looked through it.

The flat-iron had become cold long time ago. Aunt Maggie and Douglas Ferguson were sitting by the table and kissing each other.

“They’re kissing!” Louisa cried and then put her hand on her mouth.

“Get out of there”, said Douglas behind the door. ”I shall kiss my bride for these twenty years. But if you do really have serious inventions, you can come in and congratulate us!”

“Mommy!” Ethel rushed through the house. “Mommy! They’re engaged! Shall I be the godmother for their first baby?”

“Bless that child”, murmured Aunt Maggie and blushed like a young girl. ”And almost all the aprons unironed... Love takes too much time, if you ask me!”

Too much time or not, when the rain stopped in the evening, Aunt Maggie left for a walk with Douglas.

“So you really mean you’re staying here?” Maggie asked, when they walked the wet path through the Wood.

“I do. And when I’m now thinking of it I cannot understand how I could be as stupid as planning to go back!” Douglas kissed her cheek. “Twenty years, Maggie, and you seem to me even younger than then!”

“Nonsense”, said Maggie and smiled satisfied.

Douglas looked around the Wood.

“This has been quite a odd summer”,  he said. “That day, when I came and met you — it was wonderful. And then came that little creature Louisa with her flowers. Yes, Maggie-o-mine, without Louisa we wouldn’t be here. She just told me about your great-grandfather, and I knew what to do.”

“She’s a good girl.”

“More than good! She’s a miracle. Have you ever been as happy as now?”

Maggie looked at her fiance, and her dark eyes were young and bright.

“Never!” she whispered, put her arms around Douglas’s neck and kissed him like she had done twenty years ago — but now more happily, because there was nothing unsure in her future anymore, like in her younghood.

“But still — can I leave Laura and the girls”,  she asked, when they continued their walk. ”Laura cannot look after them when she’s working, and you know what kind of things can happen if they’re left alone.”

“They can come to our place, darling, so you can look after them there — and Louisa’s soon a woman. Don’t worry!”

Maggie did not worry, but leaned against her fiance’s arm and sighed happily. And Myra and Tom, who were hiding behind the great grey stone, winkled to each other.

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