When this screen was fixed, the little Bryanite looked round and rubbed his hands. “Now I’ll tell ’ee a prabble,” he said—“a prabble about this candle I’m holding. When God Almighty said ‘let there be light,’ He gave every man a candle—to some folks, same as you, long sixes perhaps and best wax; to others, a farthing dip. But they all helps to light up; and the beauty of it is, Parson”—he laid a hand on Mr. Raymond’s cuff—“there isn’t one of ’em burns a ha’porth the worse for every candle that’s lit from en. Now sit down, you and the boy, and I’ll larn ’ee how to join a board.”
VOICES FROM THE SEA.
Before winter and the long nights came around again, Taffy had become quite a clever carpenter. From the first his quickness fairly astonished the Bryanite, who at the best was but a journeyman and soon owned himself beaten.
“I doubt,” said he, “if you’ll ever make so good a man as your father; but you can’t help making a better workman.” He added, with his eyes on the boy’s face, “There’s one thing in which you might copy en. He hasn’t much of a gift: but he lays it ’pon the altar.”
By this time Taffy had resumed his lessons. Every day he carried a book or two in his satchel with his dinner, and read or translated aloud while his father worked. Two hours were allowed for this in the morning, and again two in the afternoon. Sometimes a day would be set apart during which they talked nothing but Latin. Difficulties in the text of their authors they postponed until the evening, and worked them out at home, after supper, with the help of grammar and dictionary.
The boy was not unhappy, on the whole; though for weeks together he longed for sight of George Vyell, who seemed to have vanished into space, or into that limbo where his childhood lay like a toy in a lumber room. Taffy seldom turned the key of that room. The stories he imagined now were not about fairies or heroes, but about himself. He wanted to be a great man and astonish the world. Just how the world was to be astonished he did not clearly see; but the triumph, in whatever shape it came, was to involve a new gown for his mother, and for his father a whole library of books.
Mr. Raymond never went back to his books now, except to help Taffy. The Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews was laid aside. “Some day!” he told Humility. The Sunday congregation had dwindled to a very few, mostly farm people; Squire Moyle having threatened to expel any tenant of his who dared to set foot within the church.
In the autumn two things happened which set Taffy wondering.
During the first three years at Nannizabuloe, old Mrs. Venning had regularly been carried downstairs to dine with the family. The sea-air (she said) had put new life into her. But now she seldom moved from her room, and Taffy seldom saw her except at night, when— after the old childish custom—he knocked at her door to wish her pleasant dreams and pull up the weights of the tall clock which stood by her bed’s head.