A Letter, A Visitor, And A Tin Box
The result of the explanation upon Anne was bitter self-reproach. She was so sorry at
having wronged the kindly soldier that next morning she went by herself to the down, and
stood exactly where his tent had covered the sod on which he had lain so many nights,
thinking what sadness he must have suffered because of her at the time of packing up and
going away. After that she wiped from her eyes the tears of pity which had come there,
descended to the house, and wrote an impulsive letter to him, in which occurred the
following passages, indiscreet enough under the circumstances:--
'I find all justice, all rectitude, on your side, John; and all impertinence, all
inconsiderateness, on mine. I am so much convinced of your honour in the whole
transaction, that I shall for the future mistrust myself in everything. And if it be possible,
whenever I differ from you on any point I shall take an hour's time for consideration
before I say that I differ. If I have lost your friendship, I have only myself to thank for it;
but I sincerely hope that you can forgive.'
After writing this she went to the garden, where Bob was shearing the spring grass from
the paths. 'What is John's direction?' she said, holding the sealed letter in her hand.
'Exonbury Barracks,' Bob faltered, his countenance sinking.
She thanked him and went indoors. When he came in, later in the day, he passed the door
of her empty sitting-room and saw the letter on the mantelpiece. He disliked the sight of
it. Hearing voices in the other room, he entered and found Anne and her mother there,
talking to Cripplestraw, who had just come in with a message from Squire Derriman,
requesting Miss Garland, as she valued the peace of mind of an old and troubled man, to
go at once and see him.
'I cannot go,' she said, not liking the risk that such a visit involved.
An hour later Cripplestraw shambled again into the passage, on the same errand.
'Maister's very poorly, and he hopes that you'll come, Mis'ess Anne. He wants to see 'ee
very particular about the French.'
Anne would have gone in a moment, but for the fear that some one besides the farmer
might encounter her, and she answered as before.
Another hour passed, and the wheels of a vehicle were heard. Cripplestraw had come for
the third time, with a horse and gig; he was dressed in his best clothes, and brought with
him on this occasion a basket containing raisins, almonds, oranges, and sweet cakes.
Offering them to her as a gift from the old farmer, he repeated his request for her to
accompany him, the gig and best mare having been sent as an additional inducement.