The conversation on Yeobright had been started by a distant view of the young man rambling leisurely across the heath before them.
“A man who is doing well elsewhere wouldn’t bide here two or three weeks for nothing,” said Fairway. “He’s got some project in’s head—depend upon that.”
“Well, ’a can’t keep a diment shop here,” said Sam.
“I don’t see why he should have had them two heavy boxes home if he had not been going to bide; and what there is for him to do here the Lord in heaven knows.”
Before many more surmises could be indulged in Yeobright had come near; and seeing the hair-cutting group he turned aside to join them. Marching up, and looking critically at their faces for a moment, he said, without introduction, “Now, folks, let me guess what you have been talking about.”
“Ay, sure, if you will,” said Sam.
“Now, it is a thing I shouldn’t have dreamed of doing, otherwise,” said Fairway in a tone of integrity; “but since you have named it, Master Yeobright, I’ll own that we was talking about ’ee. We were wondering what could keep you home here mollyhorning about when you have made such a world-wide name for yourself in the nick-nack trade—now, that’s the truth o’t.”
“I’ll tell you,” said Yeobright, with unexpected earnestness. “I am not sorry to have the opportunity. I’ve come home because, all things considered, I can be a trifle less useless here than anywhere else. But I have only lately found this out. When I first got away from home I thought this place was not worth troubling about. I thought our life here was contemptible. To oil your boots instead of blacking them, to dust your coat with a switch instead of a brush: was there ever anything more ridiculous? I said.”
“So ’tis; so ’tis!”
“No, no—you are wrong; it isn’t.”
“Beg your pardon, we thought that was your maning?”
“Well, as my views changed my course became very depressing. I found that I was trying to be like people who had hardly anything in common with myself. I was endeavouring to put off one sort of life for another sort of life, which was not better than the life I had known before. It was simply different.”
“True; a sight different,” said Fairway.
“Yes, Paris must be a taking place,” said Humphrey. “Grand shop-winders, trumpets, and drums; and here be we out of doors in all winds and weathers—”