“I never heard it till this instant. That quite accounts for his views. He wants to push his own wines. Of course, drunkenness is working for his interests. I understand it all now. He has undone the work of years by that speech for the sake of booking a few orders. It is contemptible. I trust, Hester, he is not a particular friend of yours, for I shall feel it my duty to speak very strongly to him if he comes again.”
But Dick did not appear again. He was off and away before the terrors of the Church could be brought to bear on him.
But his memory remained green at Warpington.
“They do say,” said Abel to Hester a few days later, planting his spade on the ground, and slowly scraping off upon it the clay from his nailed boots, “as that Muster Vernon gave ’em a dusting in the school-yard as they won’t forget in a hurry. He said he could not speak out before the women folk, but he was noways nesh to pick his words onst he was outside. Barnes said as his tongue ’ud ’ave raised blisters on a hedge stake. But he had a way with him for all that. There was a deal of talk about him at market last Wednesday, and Jones and Peg is just silly to go back to Australy with ’im. I ain’t sure,” continued Abel, closing the conversation by a vigorous thrust of his spade into the earth, “as one of the things that fetched ’em all most wasn’t his saying that since he’s been in a hot climate he knowed what it was to be tempted himself when he was a bit down on his luck or a bit up. Pratts would never have owned to that.” The village always spoke of Mr. Pratt in the plural without a prefix. “I’ve been to a sight of temperance meetings, because,” with indulgence, “master likes it, tho’ I always has my glass, as is natural. But I never heard one of the speakers kind of settle to it like that. That’s what the folks say; that for all he was a born gentleman he spoke to ’em as man to man, not as if we was servants or childer.”
Le bruit est pour le fat.
La plainte est pour le sot.
L’honnete homme trompe
S’en va et ne dit mot.
“And so you cannot persuade Miss Gresley to come to us next week?” said Lord Newhaven, strolling into the dining-room at Westhope Abbey, where Rachel and Dick were sitting at a little supper-table laid for two in front of the high altar. The dining-room had formerly been the chapel, and the carved stone altar still remained under the east window.
Lord Newhaven drew up a chair, and Rachel felt vaguely relieved at his presence. He had a knack of knowing when to appear and when to efface himself.
“She can’t leave her book,” said Rachel.
“Her first book was very clever,” said Lord Newhaven, “and, what was more, it was true. I hope for her own sake she will outgrow her love of truth, or it will make deadly enemies for her.”