“It’s always good to see him licked,” said Bernel with gusto. “Nance and I used to try, but he was too big for us.”
Mrs. Hamon had gone in with a white face to explain things to Grannie.
She came back presently and said briefly to Gard, “She wants you,” and he went in to the old lady.
“You did well, Stephen Gard,” she chirped. “Stand by them, for they’ll need it. He’s a bad lot is Tom, and he’ll make things uncomfortable when he comes here to live. When Nancy takes her third of what’s left of the house, that’ll be only two rooms, so you’ll have to look out for another, and maybe you’ll not find it easy to get one in Little Sark. If you take my advice you’ll try Charles Guille at Clos Bourel, or Thomas Carre at the Plaisance Cottages by the Coupee, they’re kindly folk both. I’ve told Nancy to get Philip Tanquerel of Val Creux to help her portion the lots, and it’ll be no easy job, for Tom will choose the best and get all he can.”
They were agreeably surprised to hear no more of Tom, but learned before long that, on the strength of his unexpected good fortune, he had gone over to Guernsey to pass, in ways that most appealed to him, the six weeks allowed by the law for the settlement of his father’s affairs.
Within that six weeks Philip Tanquerel of Val Creux had, on Mrs. Hamon’s behalf, to allot all old Tom’s estate, house, fields, cattle, implements, furniture, into three as equal portions as he could contrive with his most careful balancing of pros and cons. For, with Solomon-like wisdom, Sark law entails upon the widow the apportionment of the three lots into which everything is divided, but allows the heir first choice of any two of them, the remaining lot becoming the widow’s dower.
No light undertaking, therefore, the apportionment of those lots, or the widow may be left with only bedrooms to live in, and an ill proportion of grazing ground for her cattle and herself to live upon. For, be sure that when it comes to the picking of these lots, even the best of sons will pick the plums, and when such an one as Tom Hamon is in question it is as well to mingle the plums and the sloes with an exactitude of proportionment that will allow of no advantage either way.
HOW GARD DREW NEARER TO HIS HEART’S DESIRE
Gard’s isolation was brought home to him when he endeavoured to find another lodging in Little Sark.
Accommodation was, of course, limited. Many of the miners had to tramp in each day from Sark. There was still, in spite of all his tact and efforts, somewhat of a feeling against him as a new-comer, an innovator, a tightener of loose cords, and no one offered to change quarters to oblige him. And so, in the end, he took Grannie’s advice and found a room in one of the thatch-roofed cottages which offered their white-washed shoulders to the road just where it rose out of the further side of the Coupee into Sark.