’What did he give for ’em?’ Anthony asked.
‘Ay,’ he assented, nodding absently.
‘Was Dr. Sanderson na seein’ o’ yer father yesterday?’ he asked, after a moment.
‘He came in t’ forenoon. He said he was jest na worse.’
‘Ye knaw, Miss Rosa, as I’m still thinkin’ on ye,’ he began abruptly, without looking up.
‘I reckon it ain’t much use,’ she answered shortly, scattering another handful of corn towards the birds. ’I reckon I’ll never marry. I’m jest weary o’ bein’ courted—’
‘I would na weary ye wi’ courtin’,’ he interrupted.
She laughed noisily.
‘Ye are a queer customer, an’ na mistake.’
‘I’m a match for Luke Stock anyway,’ he continued fiercely. ’Ye think nought o’ taking oop wi’ him—about as ranty, wild a young feller as ever stepped.’
The girl reddened, and bit her lip.
’I don’t know what you mean, Mr. Garstin. It seems to me ye’re might hasty in jumpin’ t’ conclusions.’
‘Mabbe I kin see a thing or two,’ he retorted doggedly.
‘Luke Stock’s gone to London, anyway.’
‘Ay, an’ a powerful good job too, in t’ opinion o’ some folks.’
‘Ye’re jest jealous,’ she exclaimed, with a forced titter. ’Ye’re jest jealous o’ Luke Stock.’
‘Nay, but ye need na fill yer head wi’ that nonsense. I’m too deep set on ye t’ feel jealousy,’ he answered, gravely.
The smile faded from her face, as she murmured:
‘I canna mak ye out, Mr. Garstin.’
‘Nay, that ye canna. An’ I suppose it’s natural, considerin’ ye’re little more than a child, an’ I’m a’most old enough to be yer father,’ he retorted, with blunt bitterness.
‘But ye know yer mother’s took that dislike t’ me. She’d never abide the sight o’ me at Hootsey.’
He remained silent a moment, moodily reflecting.
‘She’d jest ha’t’ git ower it. I see nought in that objection,’ he declared.
’Nay, Mr. Garstin, it canna be. Indeed it canna be at all. Ye’d best jest put it right from yer mind, once and for all.’
‘I’d jest best put it off my mind, had I? Ye talk like a child!’ he burst out scornfully. ‘I intend ye t’ coom t’ love me, an’ I will na tak ye till ye do. I’ll jest go on waitin’ for ye, an’, mark my words, my day ‘ull coom at last.’
He spoke loudly, in a slow, stubborn voice, and stepped suddenly towards her. With a faint, frightened cry she shrank back into the doorway of the hen-house.
‘Ye talk like a prophet. Ye sort o’ skeer me.’
He laughed grimly, and paused, reflectively scanning her face. He seemed about to continue in the same strain; but, instead, turned abruptly on his heel, and strode away through the garden gate.