THE COMING OF ABEL BEHENNA III

Abel broke the silence:

‘It don’t seem the square thing to toss for the girl! She wouldn’t like it herself, and it doesn’t seem–seem respectful like to her–‘Eric interrupted. He was conscious that his chance was not so good as Abel’s in case Sarah should wish to choose between them:

‘Are ye afraid of the hazard?’

‘Not me!’ said Abel, boldly. Mrs. Trefusis, seeing that her idea was beginning to work, followed up the advantage.

‘It is settled that ye put yer money together to make a home for her, whether ye toss for her or leave it for her to choose?’

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‘Yes,’ said Eric quickly, and Abel agreed with equal sturdiness. Mrs. Trefusis’ little cunning eyes twinkled. She heard Sarah’s step in the yard, and said:

‘Well! here she comes, and I leave it to her.’ And she went out.

During her brief walk on the hillside Sarah had been trying to make up her mind. She was feeling almost angry with both men for being the cause of her difficulty, and as she came into the room said shortly:

‘I want to have a word with you both–come to the Flagstaff Rock, where we can be alone.’ She took her hat and went out of the house up the winding path to the steep rock crowned with a high flagstaff, where once the wreckers’ fire basket used to burn. This was the rock which formed the northern jaw of the little harbour. There was only room on the path for two abreast, and it marked the state of things pretty well when, by a sort of implied arrangement, Sarah went first, and the two men followed, walking abreast and keeping step. By this time, each man’s heart was boiling with jealousy. When they came to the top of the rock, Sarah stood against the flagstaff, and the two young men stood opposite her. She had chosen her position with knowledge and intention, for there was no room for anyone to stand beside her. They were all silent for a while; then Sarah began to laugh and said:–

‘I promised the both of you to give you an answer to-day. I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking, till I began to get angry with you both for plaguing me so; and even now I don’t seem any nearer than ever I was to making up my mind.’ Eric said suddenly:

‘Let us toss for it, lass!’ Sarah showed no indignation whatever at the proposition; her mother’s eternal suggestion had schooled her to the acceptance of something of the kind, and her weak nature made it easy to her to grasp at any way out of the difficulty. She stood with downcast eyes idly picking at the sleeve of her dress, seeming to have tacitly acquiesced in the proposal. Both men instinctively realising this pulled each a coin from his pocket, spun it in the air, and dropped his other hand over the palm on which it lay. For a few seconds they remained thus, all silent; then Abel, who was the more thoughtful of the men, spoke:

‘Sarah! is this good?’ As he spoke he removed the upper hand from the coin and placed the latter back in his pocket. Sarah was nettled.

by: Bram Stoker (1847-1912)

The following is reprinted from a collection of short stories entitled: Dracula’s Guest. Bram Stoker. London: Routledge, 1914.

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