“Wright?—a plumber from Lincoln?” Emilia faltered, and her eyes met Nancy’s.
“That’s it. He had business with your father, he said. In fact I left him on his way to knock at the door.”
The two sisters remembered the man on the knoll, and his bill. They were used to duns.
Emilia’s eye signalled that John Lambert was to be kept away from the house at all costs; nor did she breathe freely until she saw the lovers crossing the fields arm-in-arm.
“And my business is important. William Wright is the name, and you’d better say that I come from Lincoln direct.”
The answer came back that Mr. Wesley would see Mr. Wright in his study; and thither accordingly Mr. Wright lurched, after pulling out a red handkerchief and dusting his boots on the front doorstep. At his entrance Johnny Whitelamb rose, gathered up some papers and retired. The Rector looked up from his writing-table, at the same moment pushing back and shutting the drawer upon Hetty’s manuscript, which he had again been studying.
“Good morning, Mr. Wright. You have come about your bill, I suspect: the amount of which, if I remember—”
The Rector sighed. “It is extremely awkward for me to pay you just now. Still, no doubt you find it no less awkward to wait: and since you have come all the way from Lincoln to collect it—”
“Steady a bit,” Mr. Wright interrupted; “I never said that. I said I’d come direct from Lincoln.”
Mr. Wesley looked puzzled. “Pardon me, is not that the same thing?”
“No, it ain’t. I’d be glad enough of my little bit of money to be sure: but there’s more things than money in this world, Mr. Wesley.”
“So I have sometimes endeavoured to teach.”
“There’s more things than money,” repeated Mr. Wright, not to be denied: for it struck him as a really fine utterance, with a touch of the epigrammatic too, of which he had not believed himself capable. In the stir of his feelings he was conscious of an unfamiliar loftiness, and conscious also that it did him credit. He paused and added, “There’s darters, for instance.”
“Daughters?” Mr. Wesley opened his eyes wide.
“Darters.” Mr. Wright nodded his head slowly and took a step nearer to the table. “Has Missy come back?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.
“If you mean my daughter Mehetabel—yes, she has returned.”
“I saw her in Lincoln only yesterday morning. She didn’t see me; but having (as you might say) my suspicions, I follered her: and I saw enough to make a man feel sore—leastways when he takes an interest in a young lady as I do in Miss Hetty. For, saving your presence, sir, you’ve a good-looking bunch, but she’s the pick. ’Tis a bad business—a very bad business, Mr. Wesley. What, may I ask, are you going to do about it?”