Story for the Day: A Farmer's Wife
Jaicobh MacDaede and Calleen Donnegal have a long history together. When Calleen was fifteen, her parents fell on hard times and were forced to give her up in hopes of her finding a better life elsewhere. Through a scheme of the Frewyn Church, Calleen met Jaicobh, who was living alone on his farmstead as landlord to nearly half of Tyfferim. He learned of her situation, got her an apprenticeship before the usual time, and made it his business to look after her. Fifteen years of monthly visits to the Donnegal farmstead and the two of them became friends. When Calleen at last got engaged to one of the younger Donnegals, Jaicobh was invited to the wedding where both of them recognized their love for one another only too late. This was the beginning of their secret attachment, one of which all three parties were well aware but were unwilling to acknowledge. Here is a piece from the book about their relationship. Enjoy.
A Farmer’s Wife
As the gloaming skies dimmed with the rolling grey clouds of the coming storm, Calleen stood at the door of the farmhouse, her gaze toward western Tyfferim, endeavouring by way of conjuration to descry the trees lining Jaicobh’s lands. Though her hand rested upon the proof of her conjugal felicity, her heart was inundated with a thousand feelings where her mind was perfectly easy. She loved the Mister and Jaicobh, both men who did everything to secure her happiness, each of them reveling in her wellbeing and the continuance of her peace. She may have been compelled to chose one over the other, but she felt herself unequal to detaching from any lingering sentiment on Jaicobh’s side, for had he been the principle advocate for her hand, she should have accepted him. While her mind was engaged with all the exultation that her marriage and subsequent condition could promise, her heart must acknowledge the attachment she held for the one who had forever made himself her sentry. She was sorry to be parted with him, suffering under the compunction and consternation of having found one who doted upon her and lavished all his affection for her upon their unborn child without being able or willing to afford him her unmitigated partiality. The Mister may have won her hand, but Jaicobh was forever the owner of her heart. A pang struck her as she considered such an irrefutable assertion: she did not love one and not the other, but both in different ways. She adored her husband, but it was without loving him with all the fervency and languishing sighs that was becoming a newly married woman. Her situation, she knew, was a delicate one: it was cruel to be with one and prefer another, and though it was wrong to be standing at the door and hoping to catch a glimpse of Jaicobh’s head peaking over the hedgerows, she could not but hope to observe him. His farm was many miles off on the opposite side of Tyfferim, but to imagine that she might see him in all the splendor that the numinous glow of early evening light merits was all her ambition. Shafts of light passed over the verdant plains as the clouds billowed along, the wheat rippled under the power of the autumns gales, lights from the town in the distance winked their flickering brilliancy through windows, but there was no sign of Jaicobh. She allowed herself to think that he might pass by, might decide to enjoy the mellifluous scent of the evening air, might stroll toward the east and take them in his way. Might she not invite him in and ask him how he did? Could he take their supper with them, or would not he stay for tea and bring them news from town?
These, though pleasing, were foolish notions; Jaicobh was never one to preside over his lands. He was all reliance and goodness, allowing his tenants to do with the lands as they would. He should never consider encroaching upon the privacy of his residents merely for his own ingratiation. He was too much of business, too much kindness and civility to walk through lands that, though his by inheritance, were not his by right. She sighed and admired him for his propriety. Would that everyone were like him, but she had a moment’s delectation in remarking that no one could be Jaicobh MacDaede. There was only one of his distinction in the whole kingdom, and though the child she bore belonged to a man whom she must believe to be Jaicobh’s equal, she could not help but wonder at how well Jaicobh would fare as a father. There was a longing in his eyes and a loneliness in his aspect when last he visited which she did not like. She would smooth away every conceived agitation if she could, soothing all his anguish with fervent fondness, but as each was occupied with land or lover, they must remain prudent while in one another’s company, stifling any looks or gestures that would otherwise betray their hindered sentiments. Her cogitations must supply her with the answers to questions she dared not pose: did he wish to have children, had he designs on being an attentive father, did he think of her when they were parted? were all inquiries which, though vexatious to consider, brought forth charming conclusions. That he should be the most dutiful father and conscientious husband was a certainty: the manner in which he listened to others when they spoke, how he was solicitous for everyone’s health and concerned for those who cared for his lands recommended his possession of the obliging character requisite for being the greatest husband and father. Would that he visit before his usual time, but a touch on her shoulder roused her. She was growing too wistful, was too much under the spell that such pleasing indulgences should furnish, and must awaken lest she seem ungrateful or infidelitous to one who had made himself her friend and admirer. She gave a small start as she was caressed by her husband, apprehensive that he had been privy to her thoughts as he came in all his state of paternal pride to revere his glowing wife.
“You feelin’ well, Calleen?” said he, kissing her cheek and wrapping his arms about her.
Once the first feelings of surprise had done with her, she found herself able to resume her usual air. She sighed and said with smiling assurance, “Aye. Babe’s givin’ me no trouble.”
The Mister laughed. “For now. Once those two are born, they’re gonna give us both a right bit of trouble. Pleasant trouble, though, I hope.”
Pleasant trouble was better than none at all, and Calleen followed her husband into the main room where the warmth of the sibilating fire was only superseded by the temperate resonation of her heart, whether afforded her by the notions of Jaicobh, of being under the loving auspices of so exceptional a farmer, or schemes of being the most loving mother in the world she would not distinguish. A farmer’s wife must be all dedication and complacency, and as one farmer claimed her heart and another all her gratitude, she owned herself duly blessed.