The Delectable Duchy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about The Delectable Duchy.
in one basket; and although Messrs. Climo and Hodges were safe as the Bank of England, preferred to keep this portion of his wealth in his own stocking.  He closed the Bible hastily; rammed it back, upside down, in its place; then took it out again, and stood holding it in his two hands and trembling.  He was living in sin:  he was minded to sin yet deeper.  And yet what had he done to deserve Naomi in comparison with the unspeakable tribulations this simple mariner had suffered?  Sure, God must have preserved the fellow with especial care, and of wise purpose brought him through shipwreck, famine, and madness home to his lawful wife.  The man had made Naomi a good husband.  Had William Geake made her a better?  (Husband?)—­here he dropped the Bible down on the table again as if it burned his fingers.  Whatever had to be done must be done quickly.  Here was the innocent wrecker of so much happiness hanging on his lips for the next word, watching wistfully for his orders, like any spaniel dog.  And Naomi would be back before nightfall.  God was giving him no time:  it was unfair to hustle a man in this way.  In the whirl of his thoughts he seemed to hear Naomi’s footfall drawing nearer and nearer home.  He could almost upbraid the Almighty here for leaving him and Naomi childless.  A child would have made the temptation irresistible.

“I wish a’most that I’d never called, if it puts you out so terrible,” was the wanderer’s plaintive remark after two minutes of silent waiting.

This sentence settled it.  The temptation was irresistible.  Geake unlocked the skivet, plunged a hand in and banged down a fistful of notes on the table.

“Here,” said he; “here’s five-an’-twenty pound’.  You shall have it all if you’ll go straight out o’ this door an’ back to America.”


Half-an-hour later, William Geake was standing by his garden-gate again.  Every now and then he glanced down the road towards St. Austell, and after each glance resumed his nervous picking at the blister of green paint that had troubled him earlier in the day.  He was face to face with a new and smaller, but sufficiently vexing, difficulty.  Abe Bricknell had gone, taking with him the five five-pound notes.  So far so good, and cheap at the price.  But the skivet was empty:  and the day was Saturday:  and every Saturday evening, as regularly as he wound up the big eight-day clock in the kitchen, Naomi and he would sit down and count over the money.  True he had only to go to St. Austell and Messrs. Climo and Hodges would let him draw five new notes.  The numbers would be different, and Naomi (prudent woman) always took note of the numbers:  but some explanation might be invented.  The problem was:  How to get to St. Austell and back before Naomi’s return?  The distance was too great to be walked in the time; and besides, the coffin must be ready by nightfall.  He had promised it; he was known

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The Delectable Duchy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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