Hope is as Hope Does

by Anton Wills-Eve


The following is my short offering for November 26 . I hope it is how things really happened.


Hope Is As Hope Does

A schoolboy was sauntering along the leafy lane where his house was cosily concealed among the trees. The dreary day ahead of him, with self important pedagogues spouting their second hand drivel at him, leaving him little better informed than when he set out, held no appeal.

He dragged his heels and swung his school bag lazily as the summer sun began to warm his twelve year old frame and made him pine for a more interesting way to spend his day.

 “Hey, ho”, he sighed as he entered the timbered schoolroom.” I hope the classics and Italian classes will be interesting. If only the old fool would put some, action, passion, excitement and worthwhile meaning into the re-telling of his tales. I hope I never bore people to death with such shallow words when I can see stories could be so much better told.

 The poem for that day was the Italian original of Troilus and Cressida. As the master bored on in a monotone, the boy could see a lively, living, human tragedy unfold. If acted by players and exploring the darkest side of human nature, together with the awful consequences of mistaken identity and misplaced trust in love, exploited by an amoral excuse for a friend. It could keep the audience enthralled.

 That night at home his parents were amazed as their son spent four hours writing on blank school manuscript sheets until every candle was used up. Finally he put down his quill, murmuring to himself, “Well that should not bore them, even if I have only finished the first act”.

The next day being Sunday the boy and his parents drove over to the nearby farm where they had long been friends with the prosperous owners. Now the young boy who dreamed his way to school each day, was just at that age when girls were becoming interesting. The farmer had four daughters and the youngest, and prettiest, took up all his time when he was there. To impress her he told her what he had written.

“Have you really written such a thing?” she asked wide-eyed.”

 “Yes. I shall dedicate it to you and give you the first copy!” True to his word, when it was finished he hurried to the farm and she was overjoyed. But, as the years passed, their friendship never turned to full blown love, although they remained good friends. Thus he was not surprised when, at the age of eighteen, she told him she was going to marry someone else. But she also gave him back his first manuscript.

 Now the farmer’s eldest daughter was some nine years older than her youngest sister and could see nothing but a life of spinsterhood ahead of herself. “I do hope I don’t die an old maid”, she sighed when she attended her sister’s wedding. Then slowly a way to avoid this startedto take shape in her head. “Now why didn’t I think of that before?” she smiled, as she began to put her plan into action.

 A few days later she purposely waylaid our hero as he made his way over to the farm. She was no startling beauty but an attractive young woman of twenty seven summers. She approached him with a blushing smile upon her cheeks.

 “While my sister was unwed I could not come between you. But you must know how much I love you and have done for so long. They tell me that you are going to London soon and I was afraid I would never see you again. We know how clever you are and success could make you forget us.” All the while she was slipping her arm through his and round his waist as she gently led him towards the old tithe barn. I leave it to my reader’s imagination to guess how much an eighteen year-old boy enjoyed being seduced by an experienced lady nine years his senior.

 I have to take you forward now to a scene in London some twenty years later. The audience were still applauding the maestro’s latest work. As the author, with his wife and three children, were leaving the theatre a critic rushed up to him and asked,

“Were you pleased with your latest success, Sir?”

 “Oh, I hope I will always go on being pleased when the audience applaud me as they do,” he answered. And, turning to his wife asked, “What about you Ann?”

 She looked at her lovely family and husband and simply said, “Oh Will, you know how happy your success makes me!” Then added silently to herself, “Thank Heaven I read your first manuscript before my sister gave it back to you”.