Beyond that, everything was so fairly well balanced that Tom found himself unable to secure all he had hoped, and so deemed himself ill-used, and did not hesitate to express himself in his usual forcible manner.
To obtain some of the things he specially wanted, Tanquerel had so arranged the lots that he must sacrifice others, and these little matters rankled in his mind and obscured his purview.
There was a good deal of unhappy wrangling, but in the end Mrs. Hamon and Nance found themselves with a large cornfield, one for pasture, and one for mixed crops, potatoes, beans and so on, besides rights of grazing and gorse-cutting on a certain stretch of cliff common.
They had also a pony and two cows, and two pigs and a couple of dozen hens and a cock—quite enough to keep Nance busy; and to them also fell an adequate share of the byres and barns, and the free use of the well.
Tom, however, still looked upon them as interlopers, and grudged them every stick and stone, and hoof and claw. If they had never come into the family all would have been his. Whatever they had they had snatched out of his mouth.
If it had not been for Philip Tanquerel the alterations agreed on would never have been completed. He got down the carpenter and mason from Sark, stood over them, day by day, till the work was done, and then referred them to Tom for payment—and a pleasant and lively time they had in getting it.
The conditions resulting from all this were just such as have prevailed in hundreds of similar cases, such as are almost inevitable from the minute divisions and sub-divisions of small properties. When ill-feeling has prevailed beforehand it is by no means likely to be lessened by the unavoidable friction of such a distribution.
The open ill-feeling was, however, all on Tom’s side. The others had suffered him at closer quarters the greater part of their lives. It was to them a mighty relief to be boarded off from him, and to feel free at last from his unwelcome incursions.
He never spoke to any of them, and when they passed one another on their various farm duties a black look and a muttered curse was his only greeting.
By means of what fairy tales concerning himself, or his position, or Sark, he had induced the lively-eyed Julie to marry him, we may not know. But Mrs. Tom very soon let it be known that she considered herself woefully misled, and quite thrown away upon such a place as Sark, and still more so upon this ultima thule of Little Sark, which she volubly asserted was the very last place le bon Dieu had made, and the condition in which it was left did Him little credit.
She, at all events, showed no disinclination to chat with her neighbours. Very much the contrary. None of them could pass within range of her eyes and tongue without a greeting and an invitation to talk.
“Tiens donc, Nancie, ma petite!” she would cry, at sight of Nance. “What a hurry you are in. It is hurry and scurry and bustle from morning till night with you over there. The hens? Let them wait, ma garche, ’twill strengthen their legs to scratch a bit, and ’twill enlighten your mind to hear about Guernsey and Granville. Oh the beautiful country! Mon Dieu, if only I were back there!”