“He have got cross eyes,” responded Mrs. Duff. “Perhaps that’s a reason he mayn’t like to look gentlefolks in the face, sir.”
“Where does he come from?”
“Well, now, sir, I did hear,” replied Mrs. Duff, putting on her considering cap again, “it were some religious place, sir, that’s talked of a good deal in the Bible. Jericho, were it? No. It began with a J, though. Oh, I have got it, sir! It were Jerusalem. He conies all the way from Jerusalem.”
“Where is he lodging?” continued Lionel.
“He have been lodging at the George and Dragon, sir. But to-day he have gone and took that spare bedroom as the Peckabys have wanted to let, since their custom fell off.”
“He means to make a stay, then?”
“It looks like it, sir. Susan Peckaby, she were in here half an hour ago, a-buying new ribbons for a cap, all agog with it. He’s a-going to hold forth in their shop, she says, and see how many of the parish he can turn into saints. I say it won’t be a bad ‘turn,’ if it keeps the men from the beer-houses.”
Lionel laughed as he went on. He supposed it was a new movement that would have its brief day and then be over, leaving results neither good nor bad behind it; and he dismissed the man from his memory.
He walked on, in the elasticity of his youth and health. All nature seemed to be smiling around him. Outward things take their hue very much from the inward feelings, and Lionel felt happier than he had done for months and months. Had the image of Lucy Tempest anything to do with this? No—nothing. He had not yet grown to love Lucy in that idolising manner, as to bring her ever present to him. He was thinking of the change in his own fortunes; he cast his eyes around to the right and the left, and they rested on his own domains—domains which had for a time been wrested from him; and as his quick steps rung on the frosty road, his heart went up in thankfulness to the Giver of all good.
Just before he reached Verner’s Pride, he overtook Mr. Bitterworth, who was leaning against a roadside gate. He had been attacked by sudden giddiness, he said, and asked Lionel to give him an arm home. Lionel proposed that he should come in and remain for a short while at Verner’s Pride; but Mr. Bitterworth preferred to go home.
“It is one of my bilious attacks coming on,” he remarked, as he went along. “I have not had a bad one for this four months.”
Lionel took him safe home, and remained with him for some time, talking; the chief theme being his own contemplated improvements, and how to go to work upon them; a topic which seemed to bring no satiety to Lionel Verner.
It was late when Lionel reached Verner’s Pride. Night had set in, and his dinner was waiting.
He ate it hurriedly—he mostly did eat hurriedly when he was alone, as if he were glad to get it over—Tynn waiting on him. Tynn liked to wait upon his young master. Tynn had been in a state of glowing delight since the accession of Lionel. Attached to the old family, Tynn had felt it almost as keenly as Lionel himself, when the estate had lapsed to the Massingbirds. Mrs. Tynn was in a glow of delight also. There was no mistress, and she ruled the household, including Tynn.