“It was so small a thing I asked,” said she, almost to herself, and with a heart-rending break in her voice, “so small a test!” And with a sigh she half-turned to go.
The Collector’s hand arrested her.
“Do you mean—?”
She looked at him with reproach in her eyes. “Let me pass,” said she, and seeing the conflict between love and duty on his face, “So small a test!”
“Damn the tea!” said Mr. Moggridge.
“I am feeling so faint,” said Mrs. Goodwyn-Sandys.
“Let me lead you up to the fresh air.”
“No; go and open the tea.”
“I am not going to open it.”
“I won’t. Here, Sam,” he called to one of the minions, “put down that chisel and weigh the chest at once. You needn’t open it. Come, don’t stand staring, but look alive. I know what’s inside. Are you satisfied?” he added, bending over her.
“It frightened me so,” she answered, looking up with swimming eyes. “And I thought—I was planning it so nicely. Take me up on deck, please.”
“Come, be careful o’ that chest,” said Captain Uriah T. Potter to the minions, as they moved it up to be weighed.
“Heaviest tea that iver I handled,” groaned the first minion.
“All the more duty for you sharks. O’ course it’s heavy, being compressed: an’ strong, too. Guess you don’t oft’n get tea o’ this strength in your country, anyway. Give a man two pinches o’ Wapshott’s best, properly cooked, an’ I reckon it’ll last him. You won’t find him coming to complain.”
“No. But I ain’t sayin’ nuthin’,” added Captain Potter, “about his widder.”
And his smile, as he regarded his hearers, was both engaging and expansive.
HOW ONE THAT WAS DISSATISFIED WITH HIS PAST SAW A VISION, BUT DOUBTED.
Caleb Trotter watched his master’s behaviour during the next few days with a growing impatience.
“I reckon,” he said, “‘tes wi’ love, as Sally Bennett said when her old man got cotched i’ the dreshin’-machine,’ you’m in, my dear, an’ you may so well go dro’.’”
Nevertheless, he would look up from his work at times with anxiety.
“Forty-sax. That’s the forty-saxth time he’ve a-trotted up that blessed beach an’ back; an’ five times he’ve a-pulled up to stare at the watter. I’ve a-kep’ count wi’ these bits o’ chip. An’ at night ‘tes all round the house, like Aaron’s dresser, wi’ a face, too, like as ef he’d a-lost a shillin’ an’ found a thruppeny-bit. This ’ere pussivantin’  may be relievin’ to the mind, but I’m darned ef et can be good for shoe-leather. ‘Tes the wear an’ tear, that’s what ‘tes, as Aunt Lovey said arter killin’ her boy wi’ whackin’.”