[from 'The Manxman' 1894]
THE following evening found Philip at "The Manx Fairy" again. Ross was there as usual, and he was laughing and talking in a low tone with Kate. This made Philip squirm on his chair, but Kate's behaviour tortured him. Her enjoyment of the man's jests was almost uproarious. She was signalling to him and peering up at him gaily. Her conduct disgusted Philip. It seemed to him an aggravation of her offence that as often as he caught the look of her face there was a roguish twinkle in the eye on his side, and a deliberate cast in his direction. This open disregard of the sanctity of a pledged word, this barefaced indifference to the presence of him who stood to represent it, was positively indecent. This was what women were! Deceit was bred in their bones.
It added to Philip's gathering wrath that Cæsar, who sat in shirtsleeves making up his milling accounts from slates ciphered with crosses, and triangles, and circles, and half circles, was lifting his eyes from time to time to look first at them and then at him, with an expression of contempt.
At a burst of fresh laughter and a shot of the bright eyes, Philip surged up to his feet, thrust himself between Ross and Kate, turned his back on him and his face to her, and said in a peremptory voice, "Come into the parlour instantly-I have something to say to you." "Oh, indeed !" said Kate.
But she came, looking mischievous and yet demure, with her head down but her eyes peering under their long upper lashes.
" Why don't you send this fellow about his business ? " said Philip. Kate looked up in blank surprise. "What fellow?" she said. "What fellow?" said Philip, "why, this one that is shilly-shallying with you night after night."
" You can never mean your own cousin, Philip?" said Kate.
" More's the pity if he is my cousin, but he's no fit company for you."
" I'm sure the gentleman is polite enough." " So's the devil himself."
" He can behave and keep his temper, anyway."
" Then it's the only thing he can keep. He can't keep his charo after or his credit or his honour, and you should not encourage him."
Kate's under lip began to show the inner half. "Who says I encourage him?"
" I do."
" What right have you ? "
" Haven't I seen you with my own eyes ?"
Kate grew defiant. "Well, and what if you have?" " Then you are a jade and a coquette."
The word hissed out like steam from a kettle. Kate saw it coming and took it full in the face. She felt an impulse to scream with laughter, so she seized her opportunity and cried.
Philip's temper began to ebb. " That man would be a poor bargain, Kate, if he were twenty times the heir of Ballawhaine. Can't you gather from his conversation what his life and companions are ? Of course it's nothing to me, Kate-"
" No, it's nothing to you," whimpered Kate, from behind both hands.
" I've no right "
" Of course not; you've no right," said Kate? and she stole a look sideways.
Philip did not see the glance that came from the corner of Kate's eye.
" When a girl forgets a manly fellow, who happens to be abroad, for the first rascal that comes along with his dirty lands-" Down went the hands with an impatient fling. "What are his lands to me?"
" Then it's my duty as a friend-"
" Duty indeed! Just what every old busybody says."
Philip gripped her wrist. " Listen to me. If you don't send this man packing--"
" You are hurting me. Let go my arm."
Philip flung it aside and said, " What do I care ?" "Then why did you call me a coquette ?"
" Do as you like."
"So I will. Philip ! Philip ! Phil! He's gone."
It was twenty miles by coach and rail from Douglas to Sulby, but Philip was back at" The Manx Fairy" the next evening also. He found a saddle-horse linked to the gate-post and Ross inside the house with n riding-whip in his hand, beating the leg of his riding-breeches.
When Philip appeared, Kate began to look alarmed and Ross to look ugly. Cæsar, who was taking his tea in the ingle, was having an unpleasant passage with Grannie in side-breaths by the fire.
" Bad, bad, a notorious bad liver and dirty with the tongue," said Cæsar.
"Chut, father ! " said Grannie. "The young man's civil enough, and girls will be girls. What's a: word or a look or a laugh when you're young and have a face that's fit for anything."
" Better her face should he pitted with smallpox than bring her to the pit of hell," said Caesar. " All flesh is grass f the grass withereth, the flower fadeth."
Nancy Joe came from the dairy at the moment. ac Gracious me ! did you see that now ?" she said. " I wonder at Kitty. But it's the way of the men, smiling and smiling and maning nothing."
" Hm ! They mane a dale," growled Caesar.
Ross had recovered from his uneasiness at Philip's entrance, and was engaged in some narration whereof the only words that reached the kitchen were I know and I know repeated frequently.
" You seem to know a dale, sir," shouted Cæsar; " do you know what it is to be saved ? "
There was silence for a moment, and then Ross, polishing his massive signet ring on his corduroy waistcoat, said, cc Is that the old gentleman's complaint, I wonder?"
" My husband is a local preacher and always strong for salvation," said Grannie by way of peace. is Is that all?" said Ross. " I thought perhaps he had taken more wine than the sacrament."
" You're my cross, woman," muttered Cæsar, " but no cross no crown."
" Lave women's matters alone, father; it'll become you hetter," said Grannie.
" Laugh as you like, Mistress Cregeen; there's One above, there's one above."
Ross had resumed his conversation with Kate, who was looking frightened. And listening with all his ears, Philip caught the substance of what was said.
" I'm due back by this time. There's the supper at Handsome Heney's, not to speak of the everlasting examinations. But some how I can't tear myself away. Why not ? Can't you guess ? No! Not a notion ? I would go to-morrow-Kitty, a word in your ear-"
"I believe in my heart that man is for kissing her," said Caesar. "If he does,, then by-he's done it ! Hould, sir."
Cæsar had risen to his feet, and in a moment the house was in an uproar. Ross lifted his head like a cock. "Were you speaking to me, mister? " he asked.
" I was, and don't demane yourself like that again," said Caesar. "Like what?" said Ross.
"Paying coort to a girl that isn't fit for you."
Ross lifted his hat, " Do you mean this young lady?"
"No young lady at all, sir, but the daughter of a plain, respectable man that isn't going to see her fooled. Your hat to your head, sir. You'll be wanting it for the road." " Father ! " cried Kate, in a voice of fear.
Caesar turned his rough shoulder and said, "Go to' your room, ma'am, and keep it for a week."
"You may go," said Ross. "I'll spare the old simpleton for your sake, Kate."
"You'll spare me, sir ?" cried Cæsar. "I've seen the day--but thank the Lord for restraining grace! Spare me! If you had said as much five-and-twenty years ago, sir, your head would have gone ringing against the wall."
" I'll spare you no more, then," said Ross. " Take that-and that." Amid screams from the women, two sounding blows fell on Cæsar's face. At the next instant Philip was standing between the two men. " Come this way," he said, addressing Ross.
"If If I like," Ross answered.
"This way, I tell you," said Philip.
Ross snapped his fingers. " As you please," he said, and then followed Philip out of the house.
Rate had run upstairs in terror, but five minutes afterwards she was on the road, with a face full of distress, and a shawl over head and shoulders. At the bridge she met Kelly, the postman.
"Which way have they gone," she panted, "the young Ballawhaine and Philip Christian?"
" I saw them heading down to the Curragh," said Kelly, and Kate , in the shawl, flew like a bird over the ground in that direction.
Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2008