Understanding Consequences and Taking Action
Peter had only been home for five minutes. His horse was drinking thirstily from the trough and he had just unsaddled him when a woman and child appeared through the dust.
“Please, Reverend Hale, I must speak with you.”
Peter quickly ushered Ruby and Annie into his small house. House was too grand a word, he thought as he pulled out a rickety chair for his guest. The leaky corrugated iron roof and rotten floorboards constituted little more than a dump but he cared nothing for his surroundings. Until now, that is. All at once he felt guilty for not taking more interest in his home.
“How can I help you?” Peter fought hard to remain calm and impartial.
Ruby told Peter of Fred’s promotion and the effect it would have on the family. His heart sank as he realised what it meant for Ruby. Uncharitable thoughts entered his mind, mistrust of Fred and the realisation that in his role he should sanction and encourage the marriage, even perform the ceremony. God forbid!
And then Ruby told him the news that made his heart sing. She was already married. There was no way that she could marry that scoundrel Fred.
“You must go back to your husband at once, before…If Fred thinks you are to be married he might take advantage of you. I will help you get away.”
“I can’t leave the children. Who will look after them?”
“I give my word I will find someone for them, but you must make haste!”
“I was thinking,” said Ruby, “that I will tell them I have to return because my mother is ill. That is not a lie because I received a letter from my sister saying that Mother was increasingly unwell. It would be good for her to see Annie again.”
“What about your husband?” Peter was curious. “Has he contacted you?”
“Oh yes. He wants me to come home. Says it will be different this time.” She looked up fiercely. “And so it will. He is not going to tell me what to do any more. There will be no more sneaking around trying to hide the fact that I’m a dressmaker and earning my own money. If he doesn’t like it he can leave!”