Dear Ms Judy Abbott,
I am hereby informing you that I will be at the McBride’s at 3 pm tomorrow. Please ask Mr. McBride if he would allow me to take you riding.
The letter makes Judy smile. Jervis has written her more in the past 2 months that she and Jervis have been engaged, as compared to the past year. It feels like he’s trying to make up for not writing to her as Daddy-Long-Legs.
“What has you smiling so widely?” Sallie asks.
“I just received this note from Jervis. He’s taking me riding tomorrow,” Judy replies.
“But you’ve received a note or letter or something from him almost every day you’ve been engaged,” Sallie says. “And, since you’ve been here, he’s visited you every day.”
“His letters remind me of how our relationship started. I think he feels the same as well,” Judy says.
“He is a sweet man, isn’t he? Though it feels funny to call an older man sweet, especially one of Julia’s uncles. However did you go from thinking of him as Julia’s probably stuffy uncle to this?”
“I don’t think there was any one moment,” Judy says reflectively. “It feels like I’ve always wanted to be with him. But I do remember thinking that clearly one summer at Lock Willow.”
“Judy, you’ll never guess!” Mrs. Semple exclaimed. “Master Jervie is coming to visit. I must get Amasai to clean the gutters,” Mrs. Semple muttered under her breath as she went off to call Amasai and Carrie.
Judy smiled and shook her head. Her days were full what with the chickens, the pigs, the cows, Stevenson and her writing. But she was glad for the company. She missed having someone to talk with, not that the Semples were quiet, but she missed having someone to talk with about the wider world, about things that were not farm-related. She couldn’t wait for ‘Master Jervie’ to arrive.
The whole household waited with bated breath. Judy feared that if he took any longer, they would have to clean the whole house again. She still made sure she had on a clean and pretty dress every day while waiting for him though. She tried not to think too much about why it took her a little longer with her ablutions in the mornings.
A few days after they get his letter, with the weather warm and sunny, Judy decided to bring the Stevenson book and read under her tree. She called it “her tree” but it wasn’t really since it was the Semple’s. She found it hard to settle down to reading, she tried to read the same paragraph several times.
“He needs to get here soon. I’ll have to do the laundry again if he doesn’t arrive today,” she said, under her breath.
Finally, finally, she heard, “Hello. Anyone home?”
She stood up and ran to the gate before she had thought about it.
“Hi, Master Jervie,” she said cheekily at him.
“Hello, Miss Judy. And how are you this fine morning?” He asked.
He was a little more tanned as compared to the last time she’d seen him, back at college. As seemed usual, he only saw Julia for a few minutes, when she was between classes. But he’d spent most of the afternoon with Judy.
She smiled at him and said, “Glad that you’re finally here. We can stop dusting the sitting room every hour now.”
He laughed aloud at that and offered her his arm. They walked together into the house to greet the Semples.
The next day, she took him on a tour of the farm.
He exclaimed out loud about her skill as a milk maid, even though she spilled half a pail of milk when Buttercup threatened to kick her.
Judy then proudly showed him her hens.
“I need to get the eggs. You can stay out here. Old Nessie bites if you get too close,” Judy said.
“I’m pretty sure I can handle a few hens. I’ve done this before,” he said.
Judy was skeptical but was willing to trust him. She went into the hen coop as quietly as she could. “You have to be quiet and walk slowly,” she whispered.
They were able to get eggs from two of the hens when Jervis slipped and almost fell. He grabbed wildly for something and grasped one of the higher shelves.
“Uh oh! Run!” Judy exclaimed as she took off for the door.
Not hearing him running behind here, she turned back to see Old Nessie trying to peck Jervis from her perch on the shelf. Jervis was trying to fend her off and not step on any of the other hens. Judy took the rake on the side of the coop and banged the shelf to distract Old Nessie.
Finally, finally, Jervis and Judy were able to get out of the hen coop. Once outside, Judy couldn’t stop laughing.
“I thought you said you’d done this before,” she said, once she got her breath back.
“Well, the last time was more than two decades ago, to be fair,” he said, smiling.
“Oh, wait, you’re bleeding,” Judy exclaimed.
Judy brought him to the kitchen so that she could apply witch hazel on his scratches.
“It’s a good thing Mrs. Semple’s out. I’m sure she’d blame me for Old Nessie scratching you,” Judy said, applying the witch hazel. She looked at him and was struck by how handsome he looked, sitting on an old chair with his hair and clothes rumpled.
“That may have been the point that I fell in love. That was the first time I’d seen him like that, a little bit messy, a little bit rumpled, unlike a typical Pendleton,” Judy says. “I couldn’t help but think that this man wasn’t afraid to get messy and I liked that.”
“He must have been a sight! You’re very lucky to find someone, especially someone like him.”
“I don’t know about luck. I think the John Grier Home brought us together or maybe Mrs. Lippett. If there’s one thing I’m thankful to the John Grier Home for, it’s Jervis.”