Story for the Day: A Farmer's Wife Part 2
As Calleen was turning her considerations elsewhere for present, Jaicobh had been walking the fields, rapt in the remorse of the question unasked, the aspiration unspoken, and the love recognized only too late. He had hoped that work and the glorious prospect of the rolling hills should placate his budding aggravations, but they served only as a constant torment: the wind came from the west and was howling toward the east, forcing him to look in the direction of the house that held all his happiness and all his discomfort. He had been used to think there could be a chance; the Mister could be ill as he had conjectured, Calleen could decide that she had married the wrong man, there could be difficulties in conception. These were not worthy ideas, but they gave him a something like consolation. She knew of his affection; there must be all his serenity, but even this moralization occasioned its due disquiet. The Mister being ill was his only true succour, though he regretted even considering it. He liked the young Donnegal excessively and felt him a credit to his family and to Calleen, but where passionate love was wanting, there only he could provide satiation. Their love was a mere friendship, one which could not augur much of that ardent affection that both were overly desirous of conveying. Children might come and custom might prevail, but Calleen deserved more than what a farmer who had little idea of his wife’s lonesomeness could offer. A Donnegal had been brought up to generosity and affability, but for himself and Calleen, who had been too accustomed to isolation and mistreatment, could only want some attention where much more was owed them. Giving Calleen a family that would love her was the young Donnegal’s chief concern, but here Jaicobh understood her true ambitions: to at last reap the rewards of a life of penance and glean all its jubilation. The penetrating glance she had given him bespoke her feelings: she was happy, but not as happy as one who had known her as a girl and had watched over her for the better part of fifteen years could make her. He had thought himself too old, too distant, too quiet, and had thus hindered himself where he would have otherwise triumphed in having Calleen for a wife. Had he but known- he checked himself and whipped the straw which he had been mechanically twisting about throughout his ruminations across the tops of the hedgerows. He chided himself for his reserve and rubbed his brow in frustration, too engrossed with his indignation to realize that he had come to the divide in the plots where west and east Tyfferim met. Even amidst his trying ponderations, he still went unconsciously toward her. He need only cross the road and travel upland to reach the Donnegal farms. He would call in to see how she did, only for a few minutes, and inquire if there were not anything to be got for her in town. He raised his foot, but stopped and turned around. No, he must wait until the month’s end until another visit could be paid. He must not be suspected now of affection, for she was expecting and her husband was by, and as they could neither be alone nor honest, he resigned himself to the notion that it was better to suffer in silence than to discomfit a man he greatly respected. He tossed the straw to the ground and hastened back to his fields, wondering which of his two prevailing sentiments should injure him most: the self-disappointment for doubting her ability to love him, or the happiness he incurred from imagining her waiting for him, standing in the threshold of his farmhouse with open arms and joyous smiles, pronouncing his name in complete exultation, begging him to claim her with all the furious zeal his longstanding love for her could accord.