Introduction

The story written by Sheila Kaye Smith is about a woman who forgives a man for his mistake. Peter Crouch was a very close friend of Tom who is the son of Mrs. Adis. Peter unknowingly injures Tom and hides at Mrs. Adis’s cottage running away from the keepers. Peter when he comes to know that it was his friend that was shot couldn’t face Mrs. Adis but she forgives him. Peter leaves silently but the guilt remains with him even after leaving.

Characters

  1. Mrs. Adis: It is the name of the character of a peasant woman in the story titled.
  2. Peter Crouch: a big, heavy, working man, not successful which was quite visible in his appearance.
  3. Tom: Mrs. Adis’s son who was shot by Peter Crouch.
  4. Scotney Castle: One of the Keepers

Peter walks alone in darkness

Sussex is the land of woods which was also called hammer-woods which had hammerponds. The road that passed by Mrs. Adis’s cottage is dark and long before the fields beyond. There was no twilight or moon that night only a few stars in the sky. The writer was curious about the darkness hidden behind the silence. Every sound was loud and clear at that night, the barks of dogs which were quite far away and even the footsteps of any man.

The narrator tried his best to walk without making much noise but the roadside was full of thorns and its crackling was as loud as the sound of his feet on the road. This made him delay but he had no time to waste.

When the narrator reached Mrs. Adis’s cottage he saw Mrs. Adis bending to take a pot or kettle off the fire. The narrator was a big, heavy, working man, not successful which was quite visible in his appearance. He seemed to be going towards the window but went to the door instead.

Peter goes to Mrs. Adis’s cottage

The narrator had shot a man and wanted to take shelter at Mrs. Adis’s cottage. Mrs. Adis was a small, thin woman with a brown, hard face with too many wrinkles. She was not more than forty-two but lived a harder life than most women. The narrator asked Mrs. Adis to let him stay at her cottage until the keepers have left, as he quarrelled with them.

In Cinder Wood, there were four keepers against one and thus the narrator had to use his gun to defend himself. Mrs. Adis agreed on letting him stay until his friend Tom arrives and if he agrees too, Peret Crouch who is the narrator will be allowed to stay. Tom would be at work for an hour and by then the coast might get clear and Peter will move out of the country.

Mrs. Adis opened the door which led from the kitchen into the small shed at the back of the cottage and the keepers would never find him if Mrs. Adis would tell them that she never saw Peter. Peter felt that he was not worthy of her support and he would have been different if he had a mother like her.

Mrs Adis helps Peter

Mrs. Adis shut the door and Peter was in the darkness where a small ray of light came through one of the cracks. Peter could see her moving around and preparing Tom’s supper as Tom would be home from Ironlatch Farm where he worked every day. Peter trusted Tom to help him as they have been friends since school days and the friendship was not broken even when they were different characters and had different careers.

Peter was very hungry and expected Mrs. Adis to share the supper when Tom arrived. Peter has fallen asleep and woke as he heard the footsteps on the road. For a moment he got so scared that his heart nearly choked him. The sound of footsteps was of the keepers, they had guessed where he could’ve hidden. Peter felt foolish for hiding at Mrs. Adis’s cottage and shrank into the corner, shivering, almost crying. But the footsteps vanished and the next minute Mrs. Adis stuck her head into the shed to inform him that they were the keepers.

Mrs. Adis informed Peter about the London train that comes from Tunbridge Wells at ten that night. Peter did not have money for the tickets so Mrs. Adis lent him seven shillings. She wanted Peter to leave before her son arrived as he might bring a friend which will be a problem for him. As she opened the door for Peter, they heard footsteps approaching and guessed it to be Tom. Since it was the sound of multiple footsteps Peter had to go back into the little dusty shed which he hated.

Peter feels guilty

It was one of the keepers Scotney Castle, the other keepers had followed him and now they knew where Scotney had taken refuge. Peter Crouch listened to Scotney while he explained to Mrs. Adis. It was Tom that was injured by Peter Crouch. In the shed, Peter felt guilty and no longer wanted to escape from this thing that he had done.

Mrs. Adis sat in the old basket armchair by the fire. The keepers had a gun which they thought belonged to Peter but they knew he would never harm Tom purposely. Mrs. Adis denied that she had met Peter. The men picked Tom on the stretcher carried him into the next room and left.

Mrs. Adis waited until they had shut the door and went towards Peter. He didn’t want to face Mrs. Adis and preferred being hanged instead of facing her. But she didn’t go in, unlocked the door and went to the room where Tom was. Peter Crouch knew what he must do and left silently.

Conclusion

The story highlights the importance of forgiveness, no one is perfect in this world as the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine”. Committing a mistake is not a crime. Understanding that the mistake has been committed is more important than moving towards the path of changing behaviour. Identifying the mistake, recognizing it as a mistake is necessary for a person to reform.

And if we can be successful in helping a person to reform his/her character by granting forgiveness, it also helps us to come out of a sense of guilt. Moreover, revenge can never wipe out the crime but it can increase hostility. Forgiveness also helps us to come out of a feeling of guilt. But a hardcore criminal who harms innocent people knowingly and intentionally, should not be spared just by forgiveness.