“No sooner had he got here than he found the font wouldn’t hold water, as it hadn’t for years off and on; and when I told him that Mr. Grinham never minded it, but used to spet upon his vinger and christen ’em just as well, ’a said, ’Good Heavens! Send for a workman immediate. What place have I come to!’ Which was no compliment to us, come to that.”
“Still, for my part,” said old William, “though he’s arrayed against us, I like the hearty borussnorus ways of the new pa’son.”
“You, ready to die for the quire,” said Bowman reproachfully, “to stick up for the quire’s enemy, William!”
“Nobody will feel the loss of our church-work so much as I,” said the old man firmly; “that you d’all know. I’ve a-been in the quire man and boy ever since I was a chiel of eleven. But for all that ’tisn’t in me to call the man a bad man, because I truly and sincerely believe en to be a good young feller.”
Some of the youthful sparkle that used to reside there animated William’s eye as he uttered the words, and a certain nobility of aspect was also imparted to him by the setting sun, which gave him a Titanic shadow at least thirty feet in length, stretching away to the east in outlines of imposing magnitude, his head finally terminating upon the trunk of a grand old oak-tree.
“Mayble’s a hearty feller enough,” the tranter replied, “and will spak to you be you dirty or be you clane. The first time I met en was in a drong, and though ’a didn’t know me no more than the dead, ’a passed the time of day. ‘D’ye do?’ he said, says he, nodding his head. ’A fine day.’ Then the second time I met en was full-buff in town street, when my breeches were tore into a long strent by getting through a copse of thorns and brimbles for a short cut home-along; and not wanting to disgrace the man by spaking in that state, I fixed my eye on the weathercock to let en pass me as a stranger. But no: ’How d’ye do, Reuben?’ says he, right hearty, and shook my hand. If I’d been dressed in silver spangles from top to toe, the man couldn’t have been civiller.”
At this moment Dick was seen coming up the village-street, and they turned and watched him.
“I’m afraid Dick’s a lost man,” said the tranter.
“What?—no!” said Mail, implying by his manner that it was a far commoner thing for his ears to report what was not said than that his judgment should be at fault.
“Ay,” said the tranter, still gazing at Dick’s unconscious advance. “I don’t at all like what I see! There’s too many o’ them looks out of the winder without noticing anything; too much shining of boots; too much peeping round corners; too much looking at the clock; telling about clever things she did till you be sick of it; and then upon a hint to that effect a horrible silence about her. I’ve walked the path once in my life and know the country, neighbours; and Dick’s a lost man!” The tranter turned a quarter round and smiled a smile of miserable satire at the setting new moon, which happened to catch his eye.