“Law, is that all?” said Jan, taking up the pill-box again, and biting one of the pills in two to test its quality. “I thought you were going to tell me I had sent you poison, or something; coming in like that.”
“Jan, I can never repay you. The money I may, some time; I hope I shall: the debt of gratitude, never.”
“There’s nothing to repay,” returned Jan, with composure. “As long as I have meat and drink and clothes, what do I want with extra money? You are heartily welcome to it, Lionel.”
“You are working your days away, Jan, and for no benefit to yourself. I am reaping it.”
“A man can but work,” responded Jan. “I like work, for my part; I wouldn’t be without it. If old West came home and said he’d take all the patients for a week, and give me a holiday, I should only set on and pound. Look here,” pointing to the array on the counter, “I have done more work in two hours than Cheese gets through in a week.”
Lionel could not help smiling. Jan went on—
“I don’t work for the sake of accumulating money, but because work is life’s business, and I like work for its own sake. If I got no money by it, I should work. Don’t think about the money, Lionel. While it lay in that bank where was the use of it? Better for my mother to have it, than for me to be hoarding it.”
“Jan, did it never strike you that it might be well to make some provision for contingencies? Old age, say; or sudden deprivation of strength, through accident or other cause? If you give away all you might save for yourself, what should you do were the evil day to come?”
Jan looked at his arms. “I am tolerably strong,” said he; “feel me. My head’s all right, and my limbs are all right. If I should be deprived of strength before my time, I dare say, God, in taking it, would find some means just to keep me from want.”
The answer was delivered in the most straightforward simplicity. Lionel looked at him until his eyes grew moist.
“A pretty fellow I should be, to hoard up money while anybody else wanted it!” continued Jan. “You and Sibylla make yourselves comfortable, Lionel, that’s all.”
They were interrupted by the entrance of John Massingbird and his pipe. John appeared to find his time hang rather heavily on his hands: he could not say that work was the business of his life. He might be seen lounging about Deerham at all hours of the day and night, smoking and gossiping. Jan was often honoured with a visit. Mr. Massingbird of Verner’s Pride was not a whit altered from Mr. Massingbird of nowhere: John favoured the tap-rooms as much as he had used to favour them.
“The very man I wanted to see!” cried he, giving Lionel a hearty slap on the shoulder. “I want to talk to you a bit on a matter of business. Will you come up to Verner’s Pride?”
“When?” asked Lionel.
“This evening, if you will. Come to dinner: only our two selves.”