Grind turned again to Lionel.
“It is just blasphemy, sir, for them to say what they do; calling it the holy city, and the New Jerusalem. Couldn’t they be stopped at it, and from deluding poor ignorant people here with their tales?”
“The only way of stopping it is for people to take their tales for what they are worth,” said Lionel.
Grind gave a groan. “People is credilous, sir, when they think they are going to better theirselves. Sir,” he added, with a yearning, pleading look, “could I have a bit of work again upon the old estate, just to keep us from starving? I shan’t hanker after much now; to live here upon the soil will be enough, after having been at that Salt Lake city. It’s a day’s wonder, and ’ud take a day to tell, the way we stole away from it, and how we at last got home.”
“You shall have work, Grind, as much as you can do,” quietly answered Lionel. “Work, and a home, and, I hope, plenty. If you will go there,”—pointing to the tables—“with your wife and children, you will find something to eat and drink.”
Grind clasped his hands together in an attitude of thankfulness, tears streaming down his face. They had walked from Liverpool.
“What about the ducks, Grind?” called out one of the Dawsons. “Did you get ’em in abundance?”
Grind turned his haggard face round.
“I never see a single duck the whole time I stopped there. If ducks was there, we didn’t see ’em.”
“And what about the white donkeys, Grind?” added Peckaby. “Be they in plenty?”
Grind was ignorant of the white donkey story, and took the question literally. “I never see none,” he repeated. “There’s nothing white there but the great Salt Lake, which strikes the eyes with blindness—”
“Won’t I treat you to a basting!”
The emphatic remark, coming from Mrs. Duff, caused a divertisement, especially agreeable to Susan Peckaby. The unhappy Dan, by some unexplainable cause, had torn the sleeve of his new jacket to ribbons. He sheltered himself from wrath behind Chuff the blacksmith, and the company began to pour in a stream towards the tables.
The sun had sunk in the west when Verner’s Pride was left in quiet; the gratified feasters, Master Cheese included, having wended their way home. Lionel was with his wife at the window of her dressing-room, where he had formerly stood with Sibylla. The rosy hue of the sky played upon Lucy’s face. Lionel watched it as he stood with his arm round her. Lifting her eyes suddenly, she saw how grave his looked, as they were bent upon her.
“What are you thinking of, Lionel?”
“Of you, my darling. Standing with you here in our own home, feeling that you are mine at last; that nothing, save the hand of Death, can part us, I can scarcely yet believe in my great happiness.”
Lucy raised her hand, and drew his face down to hers. “I can,” she whispered. “It is very real.”