God's Good Man (Chapter 5, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 5

The warm bright weather continued. Morning after morning dawned in unclouded sunshine, and when Saturday concluded the first five days of the 'May-moneth,' the inhabitants of St. Rest were disposed to concede that it was just possible they might have what they called 'a spell of fair weather.' Saturday was the general 'cleaning-up day' in the village--the day when pails of water were set out in unexpected places for the unwary to trip over; when the old flagstones poured with soapsuds that trickled over the toes of too- hasty passers-by; when cottage windows were violently squirted at with the aid of garden-syringes and hose,--and when Adam Frost, the sexton, was always to be found meditating, and even surreptitiously drinking beer, in a quiet corner of the churchyard, because he was afraid to go home, owing to the persistent housewifely energy of his better half, who 'washed down' everything, 'cleaned out' everything, and had, as she forcibly expressed it, 'the Sunday meals on her mind.'

It was a day, too, when Bainton, released from his gardening duties at the rectory at noon, took a thoughtful stroll by himself, aware that his 'Missis' was scrubbing the kitchen, and 'wouldn't have him muckin' about,'--and when John Walden, having finished his notes for the Sunday's sermon, felt a sense of ease and relief, and considered himself at liberty to study purely Pagan literature, such as The Cratylus of Plato. But on this special Saturday he was not destined to enjoy complete relaxation. Mrs. Spruce had sent an urgent appeal to him to 'kindly step up to the Manor in the afternoon.' And Mrs. Spruce's husband, a large, lumbering, simple- faced old fellow, in a brown jacket and corduroys, had himself come with the message, and having delivered it, stood on Walden's threshold, cap in hand, waiting for a reply. John surveyed his awkward, peasant-like figure with a sense of helplessness,--excuses and explanations he knew would be utterly lost on an almost deaf man. Submitting to fate, he nodded his head vigorously, and spoke as loudly as he judged needful.

"All right, Spruce! Say I'll come!"

"Jes' what I told her, sir," answered Spruce, in a remarkably gentle tone; "It's a bit okkard, but if she doos her dooty, no 'arm can 'appen, no matter if it's all the riches of the yearth."

John felt more helpless than ever. What was the man talking about? He drew closer and spoke in a more emphatic key.

"Look here, Spruce! Tell your wife I'll come after luncheon. Do you hear? Af-ter lun-cheon!"

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