He looked at Feltram savagely, and dismounted.
“Last time you would not trust him, and this time he would not trust you. He’s huffed, and played you false.”
“It was not he. I should have backed that d——d horse in any case,” said Sir Bale, grinding his teeth. “What a witch you have discovered! One thing is true, perhaps. If there was a Feltram rich enough, he might have the estate now; but there ain’t. They are all beggars. So much for your conjurer.”
“He may make amends to you, if you make amends to him.”
“He! Why, what can that wretched impostor do? D—n me, I’m past helping now.”
“Don’t you talk so,” said Feltram. “Be civil. You must please the old gentleman. He’ll make it up. He’s placable when it suits him. Why not go to him his own way? I hear you are nearly ruined. You must go and make it up.”
“Make it up! With whom? With a fellow who can’t make even a guess at what’s coming? Why should I trouble my head about him more?”
“No man, young or old, likes to be frumped. Why did you cross his fancy? He won’t see you unless you go to him as he chooses.”
“If he waits for that, he may wait till doomsday. I don’t choose to go on that water—and cross it I won’t,” said Sir Bale.
But when his distracting reminders began to pour in upon him, and the idea of dismembering what remained of his property came home to him, his resolution faltered.
“I say, Feltram, what difference can it possibly make to him if I choose to ride round to Cloostedd Forest instead of crossing the lake in a boat?”
Feltram smiled darkly, and answered.
“I can’t tell. Can you?”
“Of course I can’t—I say I can’t; besides, what audacity of a fellow like that presuming to prescribe to me! Utterly ludicrous! And he can’t predict—do you really think or believe, Feltram, that he can?”
“I know he can. I know he misled you on purpose. He likes to punish those who don’t respect his will; and there is a reason in it, often quite clear—not ill-natured. Now you see he compels you to seek him out, and when you do, I think he’ll help you through your trouble. He said he would.”
“Then you have seen him since?”
“Yesterday. He has put a pressure on you; but he means to help you.”
“If he means to help me, let him remember I want a banker more than a seer. Let him give me a lift, as he did before. He must lend me money.”
“He’ll not stick at that. When he takes up a man, he carries him through.”
“The races of Byermere—I might retrieve at them. But they don’t come off for a month nearly; and what is a man like me to do in the meantime?”
“Every man should know his own business best. I’m not like you,” said Feltram grimly.
Now Sir Bale’s trouble increased, for some people were pressing. Something like panic supervened; for it happened that land was bringing just then a bad price, and more must be sold in consequence.