If Grannie’s scheme were carried out, therefore, she and Mrs. Hamon would become owners of the farm. Tom would be there on sufferance and might be kept within bounds or kicked out. Old Tom would have something more to throw into the holes at Port Gorey. And Nance and Bernel could be adequately provided for. An excellent scheme, therefore, for all concerned—except young Tom, who would have to behave himself better than he was in the habit of doing or suffer the consequences.
“Yes,” said Nancy. “I don’t see that I’d be doing right by Nance and Bernel not to agree to that. And if Tom behaves himself,” at which Grannie grunted doubtfully, “he can have his share when the time comes.”
HOW GARD FOUGHT GALES AND TOM
So far the discussion as to the sale of the farm had been confined to the elders.
Young Tom had viewed John Guille’s visits to the place with the lowering suspicion of a bull at a stranger’s invasion of his field. He wondered what was going on and surmised that it was nothing to his advantage.
Words had been rare between him and his father since his refusal to lend himself to a loan on the farm, but his suspicion got the better of his obstinacy at last.
“What’s John Guille want coming about here so much?” he demanded bluntly.
“I suppose he can come if he wants to. He’s going to buy the farm.”
“Going—to—buy—the—farm!... You—going—to—sell—the—farm—away— from—me?” roared young Tom, like the bull wounded to the quick.
“Ouaie, pardi! And why not? You had the chance of saving it and you wouldn’t.”
“If you do it, I’ll—”
“Unless you’re a fool, mon gars, you’ll be careful what you say or do. It’ll all come back from the mines and you’ll have your share if you behave yourself.”
“—— you and your mines!” was Tom’s valedictory, and he flung away in mortal anger; anger, too, which, from a Sark point of view, was by no means unjustified. Selling the estate away from the rightful heir was disinheritance, a blow below the belt which most testators reserve until they are safe from reach of bodily harm.
Tom left the house and cut all connection with his family. He drifted away like a threatening cloud, and the sun shone out, and Stephen Gard, with the rest, found greater comfort in his room than they had ever found in his company.
So gracious, indeed, did the atmosphere of the house become, purged of Tom, that Gard, to his great joy, found even Nance not impossible of approach.
He had always treated her with extremest deference and courtesy, respecting, as far as he was able, her evident wish for nothing but the most distant intercourse.
But he was such a very great change from Tom!
She caught his dark eyes fixed on her at times with a look that reminded her of Helier Baker’s black spaniel’s, who was a very close friend of hers. They had neither dog nor cat at present at La Closerie, both having been scrimped by the silver mines, when old Tom’s first bad attack of economy came on.