“The littler the maid, the bigger the riddle, to my mind. And coming of such a stock, too, she may well be a twister.”
“Yes; Geoffrey Day is a clever man if ever there was one. Never says anything: not he.”
“You might live wi’ that man, my sonnies, a hundred years, and never know there was anything in him.”
“Ay; one o’ these up-country London ink-bottle chaps would call Geoffrey a fool.”
“Ye never find out what’s in that man: never,” said Spinks. “Close? ah, he is close! He can hold his tongue well. That man’s dumbness is wonderful to listen to.”
“There’s so much sense in it. Every moment of it is brimmen over wi’ sound understanding.”
“’A can hold his tongue very clever—very clever truly,” echoed Leaf. “’A do look at me as if ’a could see my thoughts running round like the works of a clock.”
“Well, all will agree that the man can halt well in his talk, be it a long time or be it a short time. And though we can’t expect his daughter to inherit his closeness, she may have a few dribblets from his sense.”
“And his pocket, perhaps.”
“Yes; the nine hundred pound that everybody says he’s worth; but I call it four hundred and fifty; for I never believe more than half I hear.”
“Well, he’ve made a pound or two, and I suppose the maid will have it, since there’s nobody else. But ’tis rather sharp upon her, if she’s been born to fortune, to bring her up as if not born for it, and letting her work so hard.”
“’Tis all upon his principle. A long-headed feller!”
“Ah,” murmured Spinks, “’twould be sharper upon her if she were born for fortune, and not to it! I suffer from that affliction.”
A mood of blitheness rarely experienced even by young men was Dick’s on the following Monday morning. It was the week after the Easter holidays, and he was journeying along with Smart the mare and the light spring-cart, watching the damp slopes of the hill-sides as they streamed in the warmth of the sun, which at this unsettled season shone on the grass with the freshness of an occasional inspector rather than as an accustomed proprietor. His errand was to fetch Fancy, and some additional household goods, from her father’s house in the neighbouring parish to her dwelling at Mellstock. The distant view was darkly shaded with clouds; but the nearer parts of the landscape were whitely illumined by the visible rays of the sun streaming down across the heavy gray shade behind.
The tranter had not yet told his son of the state of Shiner’s heart that had been suggested to him by Shiner’s movements. He preferred to let such delicate affairs right themselves; experience having taught him that the uncertain phenomenon of love, as it existed in other people, was not a groundwork upon which a single action of his own life could be founded.