“And so Sir Bale is coming home at last,” said the Doctor. “Tell us any more you heard since.”
“Nothing,” answered Richard Turnbull, the host of the George. “Nothing to speak of; only ’tis certain sure, and so best; the old house won’t look so dowly now.”
“Twyne says the estate owes a good capful o’ money by this time, hey?” said the Doctor, lowering his voice and winking.
“Weel, they do say he’s been nout at dow. I don’t mind saying so to you, mind, sir, where all’s friends together; but he’ll get that right in time.”
“More like to save here than where he is,” said the Doctor with another grave nod.
“He does very wisely,” said Mr. Peers, having blown out a thin stream of smoke, “and creditably, to pull-up in time. He’s coming here to save a little, and perhaps he’ll marry; and it is the more creditable, if, as they say, he dislikes the place, and would prefer staying where he is.”
And having spoken thus gently, Mr. Peers resumed his pipe cheerfully.
“No, he don’t like the place; that is, I’m told he didn’t,” said the innkeeper.
“He hates it,” said the Doctor with another dark nod.
“And no wonder, if all’s true I’ve heard,” cried old Jack Amerald. “Didn’t he drown a woman and her child in the lake?”
“Hollo! my dear boy, don’t let them hear you say that; you’re all in the clouds.”
“By Jen!” exclaimed the landlord after an alarmed silence, with his mouth and eyes open, and his pipe in his hand, “why, sir, I pay rent for the house up there. I’m thankful—dear knows, I am thankful—we’re all to ourselves!”
Jack Amerald put his foot on the floor, leaving his wooden leg in its horizontal position, and looked round a little curiously.
“Well, if it wasn’t him, it was some one else. I’m sure it happened up at Mardykes. I took the bearings on the water myself from Glads Scaur to Mardykes Jetty, and from the George and Dragon sign down here—down to the white house under Forrick Fells. I could fix a buoy over the very spot. Some one here told me the bearings, I’d take my oath, where the body was seen; and yet no boat could ever come up with it; and that was queer, you know, so I clapt it down in my log.”
“Ay, sir, there was some flummery like that, Captain,” said Turnbull; “for folk will be gabbin’. But ‘twas his grandsire was talked o’, not him; and ‘twould play the hangment wi’ me doun here, if ’twas thought there was stories like that passin’ in the George and Dragon.’
“Well, his grandfather; ’twas all one to him, I take it.”