“But he’s just crazy ‘bout them mines. Says there’s silver an’ lead, and guyabble-knows-what-all in ’em, and when they get it out he’ll be a rich man.”
“Aw!” said Peter, nodding his head portentously, as one who had gauged the futility of earthly riches.
He was a young man of large possessions but very few words. When he did allow his thoughts out they came slowly and in jerks, with lapses at times which the hearer had to fill in as best he could.
His father had been an enterprising free-trader, and had made money before the family farm came to him on the death of his father. He had married another farm and the heiress attached to it, and Peter was the result. An only son, both parents dead, two farms and a good round sum in the Guernsey Bank, such were Peter’s circumstances.
And himself—good-tempered; lazy, since he had no need to work; not naturally gifted mentally, and the little he had, barely stirred by the short course of schooling which had been deemed sufficient for so worldly-well-endowed a boy; tall, loose-limbed, easy going and easily led, Peter was the object of much speculation among marriageably inclined maiden hearts, and had set his own where it was not wanted.
“Ouaie,” continued Tom, “an’ if I’d join him in the loan the money’d all come to me when he’d done with it.”
“Aw!... Money isn’t everything.... Can’t get all you want sometimes when you’ve got all money you want.”
“G’zammin, Peter! You’re as crazy ‘bout that lass as th’ old un is ’bout his mines. Why don’t ye ask her and ha’ done with it?”
“Aw—yes. Well.... You see.... I’m makin’ up to her gradual like, and in time——”
And Bernel in the hole dug his elbow facetiously into Nance’s side.
“Mon Gyu! To think of a slip of a thing like our Nance making a great big fellow like you as fool-soft as a bit of tallow!” and Tom stared at him in amazement. “Why, I’ve licked her scores of times, and I used to lift her up by the hair of her head.”
“I’d ha’ knocked your head right off, Tom Hamon, if I’d been there. Right off—yes, an’ bumped it on the ground.”
“No, you wouldn’t. ’Cause, in the first place, you couldn’t, and in the second place you wouldn’t have looked at her then. She was no more to look at than a bit of a rabbit, slipping about, scared-like, with her big eyes all round her.”
“Great rough bull of a chap you was, Tom. Ought to had more lickings when you was young.”
“Aw!” said Tom.
“Join him?” asked Peter after a pause.
“No, I won’t, an’ he’s no right to ask it, an’ he knows it. Them dirty mines may pay an’ they may not, but the farm’s a safe thing an’ I’ll stick to it.”
“Maybe new capt’n’ll make things go better. That’s him, I’m thinking, just got ashore from brig without breaking his legs,” nodding towards the wooden landing-stage on the other side of the gulf. For landing at Port Gorey was at times a matter requiring both nerve and muscle.