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HOME > Classical Novels > The Little Minister > Chapter Eighteen. CADDAM—LOVE LEADING TO A RUPTURE.
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 Gavin told himself not to go near the mud house on the following Monday; but he went. The distance is half a mile, and the time he took was two hours. This was owing to his setting out due west to reach a point due north; yet with the intention of deceiving none save himself. His reason had warned him to avoid the Egyptian, and his desires had consented to be dragged westward2 because they knew he had started too soon. When the proper time came they knocked reason on the head and carried him straight to Caddam. Here reason came to, and again began to state its case. Desires permitted him to halt, as if to argue the matter out, but were thus tolerant merely because from where he stood he could see Nanny’s doorway3. When Babbie emerged from it reason seems to have made one final effort, for Gavin quickly took that side of a tree which is loved of squirrels at the approach of an enemy. He looked round the tree-trunk at her, and then reason discarded him. The gypsy had two empty pans in her hands. For a second she gazed in the minister’s direction, then demurely4 leaped the ditch of leaves that separated Nanny’s yard from Caddam, and strolled into the wood. Discovering with indignation that he had been skulking5 behind the tree, Gavin came into the open. How good of the Egyptian, he reflected, to go to the well for water, and thus save the old woman’s arms! Reason shouted from near the manse (he only heard the echo) that he could still make up on it. “Come along,” 162 said his desires, and marched him prisoner to the well.  
The path which Babbie took that day is lost in blaeberry leaves now, and my little maid and I lately searched for an hour before we found the well. It was dry, choked with broom and stones, and broken rusty6 pans, but we sat down where Babbie and Gavin had talked, and I stirred up many memories. Probably two of those pans, that could be broken in the hands to-day like shortbread, were Nanny’s, and almost certainly the stones are fragments from the great slab7 that used to cover the well. Children like to peer into wells to see what the world is like at the other side, and so this covering was necessary. Rob Angus was the strong man who bore the stone to Caddam, flinging it a yard before him at a time. The well had also a wooden lid with leather hinges, and over this the stone was dragged.
Gavin arrived at the well in time to offer Babbie the loan of his arms. In her struggle she had taken her lips into her mouth, but in vain did she tug8 at the stone, which refused to do more than turn round on the wood. But for her presence, the minister’s efforts would have been equally futile9. Though not strong, however, he had the national horror of being beaten before a spectator, and once at school he had won a fight by telling his big antagonist10 to come on until the boy was tired of pummelling him. As he fought with the stone now, pains shot through his head, and his arms threatened to come away at the shoulders; but remove it he did.
“How strong you are!” Babbie said with open admiration11.
I am sure no words of mine could tell how pleased the minister was; yet he knew he was not strong, and might have known that she had seen him do many things far more worthy12 of admiration without admiring them. This, indeed, is a sad truth, that we seldom give our love to what is worthiest13 in its object.
“How curious that we should have met here,” Babbie said, in her dangerously friendly way, as they filled the pans. “Do you know I quite started when your shadow fell suddenly on the stone. Did you happen to be passing through the wood?”
“No,” answered truthful14 Gavin, “I was looking for you. I thought you saw me from Nanny’s door.”
“Did you? I only saw a man hiding behind a tree, and of course I knew it could not be you.”
Gavin looked at her sharply, but she was not laughing at him.
“It was I,” he admitted; “but I was not exactly hiding behind the tree.”
“You had only stepped behind it for a moment,” suggested the Egyptian.
Her gravity gave way to laughter under Gavin’s suspicious looks, but the laughing ended abruptly15. She had heard a noise in the wood, Gavin heard it too, and they both turned round in time to see two ragged1 boys running from them. When boys are very happy they think they must be doing wrong, and in a wood, of which they are among the natural inhabitants, they always take flight from the enemy, adults, if given time. For my own part, when I see a boy drop from a tree I am as little surprised as if he were an apple or a nut. But Gavin was startled, picturing these spies handing in the new sensation about him at every door, as a district visitor distributes tracts16. The gypsy noted17 his uneasiness and resented it.
“What does it feel like to be afraid?” she asked, eyeing him.
“I am afraid of nothing,” Gavin answered, offended in turn.
“Yes, you are. When you saw me come out of Nanny’s you crept behind a tree; when these boys showed themselves you shook. You are afraid of being seen with me. Go away, then; I don’t want you.”
“Fear,” said Gavin, “is one thing, and prudence18 is another.”
“Another name for it,” Babbie interposed.
“Not at all; but I owe it to my position to be careful. Unhappily, you do not seem to feel—to recognise—to know——”
“To know what?”
“Let us avoid the subject.”
“No,” the Egyptian said, petulantly19. “I hate not to be told things. Why must you be ‘prudent?’”
“You should see,” Gavin replied, awkwardly, “that there is a—a difference between a minister and a gypsy.”
“But if I am willing to overlook it?” asked Babbie, impertinently.
Gavin beat the brushwood mournfully with his staff.
“I cannot allow you,” he said, “to talk disrespectfully of my calling. It is the highest a man can follow. I wish——”
He checked himself; but he was wishing she could see him in his pulpit.
“I suppose,” said the gypsy, reflectively, “one must be very clever to be a minister.”
“As for that——” answered Gavin, waving his hand grandly.
“And it must be nice, too,” continued Babbie, “to be able to speak for a whole hour to people who can neither answer nor go away. Is it true that before you begin to preach you lock the door to keep the congregation in?”
“I must leave you if you talk in that way.”
“I only wanted to know.”
“Oh, Babbie, I am afraid you have little acquaintance with the inside of churches. Do you sit under anybody?”
“Do I sit under anybody?” repe............
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