THE CINDER PATH

THE CINDER PATH by Yelena Kopylova Read Free Book Online

Book: THE CINDER PATH by Yelena Kopylova Read Free Book Online
Authors: Yelena Kopylova
meant
    more to Chapman than it did to him. Chapman, for all
    his style, had no freehold land.
    He passed the narrow way that led down to the
    village of Kirkwhelpington, then a little further
    on he left the road and mounted the grassy bank
    and, bringing his horse to a stop for a moment, he glanced at his watch. He had left it late, he must
    hurry.
    When he drove his heels into the horse's side
    it set off at a gallop and he kept it at its
    pace for the next three miles until the sweat was
    running out of the beast. Then when he came to the top of the rise from where, over a rough copse, he could see his
    farm and its outbuildings lying as if in the palm of a
    hand, he let the animal drop into a canter before
    taking the path that ran down through the copse and to the burn.
    His intention was not to cross the burn but to remain in the shadow of the trees and watch the Benton chit going to her breaking, if all her mother said was true, and,
    in his imagination, relish his son's pleasure.
    Charlie did not stay long at Brooklands
    Farm. Mrs Chapman and her husband welcomed him
    most warmly and said how disappointed Victoria and
    Nellie would be to have missed him, but Josh
    Pringle had ridden over from Bellingham way that
    morning and they had gone back to his place to see a
    new foal. Mrs Chapman asked after his dear mother,
    his father, and his sister Betty; then when she received the invitation she said they'd all be delighted to come over on Saturday evening, wouldn't they, Hal?
    Hal Chapman endorsed his wife's sentiments;
    then, his hand on Charlie's shoulder, he once again
    took him on a tour of his farm, and it was as if he
    were showing him everything for the first time as he pointed out the value of this horse and that cow, and the fine breed of pigs, and the sheep dotting the hillsides far away.
    And so it was with relief that Charlie said his
    good-byes and made his way hurriedly back home
    for there were two things he had made up his mind to do.
    First, he was going to tell his father that he had no
    bodily needs that couldn't wait to be satisfied.
    When just before setting out for Brooklands his father had told him whom he had chosen to initiate him
    into manhood, he was so amazed as to be unable
    to voice any protest. The indecency of it shocked
    him. That his father could use big Polly and calmly
    arrange for him to do the same with young Polly was
    utterly abhorrent to him. In some way, it even
    sullied the feelings he bore Polly, it
    ripped from them the secret sweetness of his first love and left it smirched, brought down to the level of "the other thing" enacted in the hay.
    The second thing he must do was to find Polly and
    ease her mind. How he would go about this he didn't
    know.
    The farm seemed devoid of life; there was no one
    about the yard except young Peter Benton who, as
    Charlie unsaddled the horse in the stable, took the
    saddle from him and with surprising strength and agility for one so young threw it over the saddle stand, then said,
    "I can see to him, Mister Charlie," in reply to which Charlie, smiling at him, said, "You'll have to stand on something then, Peter."
    "Aye well, I've done it afore an' I like
    rubbing him down."
    "Where's everybody?"
    "Oh, about." The answer and attitude was that of a man, and for a moment Charlie forgot the weight on his
    mind and laughed down on the youngster. He was a funny
    little fellow was young Peter, he'd be a card when he
    grew up.
    Then as if belying this impression, the boy turned
    a serious face up to Charlie and said, "What's
    wrong, Mister Charlie? Is our Arthur in
    for it? What's he done?"
    "Arthur? Done? Nothing that I know of. What
    makes you ask?"
    "He's been goin' around in a tear all day,
    wouldn't open his mouth. That's not like our Arthur, he's always goin' for me. He was in a while back for a
    rope and 1 said what did he want it for, was he
    thinking of hangin' hissel, an' he clipped rne
    lug, knocked me flyin' he did. Is he in for
    it,

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