The breakfast was eaten, and the child’s health was drunk, and the hour was passed. It was a bad time for them all, but for Caldigate it was a very bitter hour. To him the effort made was even more difficult than to her;—as was right;—for she at any rate had been blameless. Then the Boltons went away, as had been arranged, and also Uncle Babington while the men still remained.
‘If you don’t mind, squire, I’ll take a turn with you,’ said Crinkett at last; ‘while Jack can sit anywhere about the place.’
‘Certainly,’ said Caldigate. And so they took their hats and went off, and Jack Adamson was left ‘sitting anywhere’ about the place.
Tom Crinkett at Folking
Caldigate thought that he had better take his companion where there would be the least chance of encountering many eyes. He went therefore through the garden into the farmyard and along the road leading back to the dike, and then he walked backwards and forwards between the ferry, over the Wash, and the termination of the private way by which they had come. The spot was not attractive, as far as rural prettiness was concerned. They had, on one hand or the other as they turned, the long, straight, deep dike which had been cut at right angles to the Middle Wash; and around, the fields were flat, plashy, and heavy-looking with the mud of February. But Crinkett for a while did not cease to admire everything. ‘And them are all yourn?’ he said, pointing to a crowd of corn-stacks standing in the haggard.
‘Yes, they’re mine. I wish they were not.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
’As prices are at present, a man doesn’t make pinch by growing corn and keeping it to this time of the year.’
‘And where them chimneys is,—is that yourn?’ This he said pointing along the straight line of the road to Farmer Holt’s homestead, which showed itself on the other side of the Wash.
‘It belongs to the estate,’ said Caldigate.
’By jingo! And how I remember your a-coming and talking to me across the gate at Polyeuka Hall!’
‘I remember it very well.’
‘I didn’t know as you were an estated gent in those days.’
’I had spent a lot of money when I was young, and the estate, as you call it, was not large enough to bear the loss. So I had to go out and work, and get back what I had squandered.’
‘And you did it?’
‘Yes, I did it.’
’My word, yes! What a lot of money you took out of the colony, Caldigate!’
’I’m not going to praise myself, but I worked hard for it, and when I got it I didn’t run riot.’
‘Not with drink.’
‘Nor in any other way. I kept my money.’
’Well;—I don’t know as you was very much more of a Joseph than anybody else.’ Then Crinkett laughed most disagreeably; and Caldigate, turning over various ideas rapidly in his mind, thought that a good deed would be done if a man so void of feeling could be drowned beneath the waters of the black deep dike which was slowly creeping along by their side. ‘Any way you was lucky,—infernally lucky.’