“You don’t say so!” exclaimed Crayshaw with an air of indolent surprise; and Miss Crampton thereupon retreated down-stairs, taking great care not to touch any metallic substance.
MR. MORTIMER GOES THROUGH THE TURNPIKE.
“I hear thee speak of the happy land.”
Swan looked down as Miss Crampton and Miss Christie emerged into the garden.
“Most impertinent of Swan,” he heard the former say, to be arguing thus about political affairs in the presence of the children. And what Mr. Mortimer can be thinking of, inviting young Crayshaw to stay so much with them, I cannot imagine. We shall be having them turn republican next.”
“Turn republican!” repeated Miss Christie with infinite scorn; “there’s about as much chance of that as of his ever seeing his native country again, poor laddie; which is just no chance at all.”
Crayshaw at this moment inquired of Swan, who had mounted his ladder step by step as Miss Crampton went on, “Is the old girl gone in? And what was she talking of?”
“Well, sir, something about republican institootions.”
“Ah! and so you hate them like poison?”
“Yes, in a manner of speaking I do. But I’ve been a-thinking,” continued Swan, taking the nails out of his lips and leaning in at the window, “I’ve been a-thinking as it ain’t noways fair, if all men is ekal—which you’re allers upholding—that you should say Swan, and I should say Mister Crayshaw.”
“No, it isn’t,” exclaimed Crayshaw, laughing; “let’s have it the other way. You shall say Crayshaw to me, and I’ll say Mr. Swan to you, sir.”
“Well, now, you allers contrive to get the better of me, you and Mr. Johnnie, you’re so sharp! But, anyhow, I could earn my own living before I was your age, and neither of you can. Then, there’s hardly a year as I don’t gain a prize.”
“I’m like a good clock,” said Crayshaw, “I neither gain nor lose. I can strike, too. But how did you find out, sir, that I never gained any prizes?”
“Don’t you, sir?”
“Never, sir—I never gained one in my life, sir. But I say, I wish you’d take these shavings down again.”
“No, I won’t,” answered Swan, “if I’m to be ‘sirred’ any more, and the young ladies made to laugh at me.”
“Let Swanny alone, Cray,” said Gladys. “Be as conservative as you like, Swan. Why shouldn’t you? It’s the only right thing.”
“Nothing can be very far wrong as Old Master thinks,” answered Swan. “He never interfered with my ways of doing my work either, no more than Mr. John does, and that’s a thing I vally; and he never but once wanted me to do what I grudged doing.”
“When was that?” asked Mr. Augustus John.
“Why, when he made me give up that there burial club,” answered Swan. “He said it was noways a moral institootion; and so I shouldn’t have even a decent burying to look forward to for me and my wife (my poor daughters being widows, and a great expense to me), if he hadn’t said he’d bury us himself if I’d give it up, and bury us respectably too, it stands to reason. Mr. John heard him.”