“But surely you know?” said Dick, with great apparent surprise. “Yes, yes! Ha-ha!” smiting the landlord under the ribs in return.
“Why, what? Yes, yes; ha-ha!”
“You know, of course!”
“Yes, of course! But—that is—I don’t.”
“Why about—between that young lady and me?” nodding to the window of the room that Fancy occupied.
“No; not I!” said the innkeeper, bringing his eyes into circles.
“And you don’t!”
“Not a word, I’ll take my oath!”
“But you laughed when I laughed.”
“Ay, that was me sympathy; so did you when I laughed!”
“Really, you don’t know? Goodness—not knowing that!”
“I’ll take my oath I don’t!”
“O yes,” said Dick, with frigid rhetoric of pitying astonishment, “we’re engaged to be married, you see, and I naturally look after her.”
“Of course, of course! I didn’t know that, and I hope ye’ll excuse any little freedom of mine, Mr. Dewy. But it is a very odd thing; I was talking to your father very intimate about family matters only last Friday in the world, and who should come in but Keeper Day, and we all then fell a-talking o’ family matters; but neither one o’ them said a mortal word about it; knowen me too so many years, and I at your father’s own wedding. ’Tisn’t what I should have expected from an old neighbour!”
“Well, to say the truth, we hadn’t told father of the engagement at that time; in fact, ’twasn’t settled.”
“Ah! the business was done Sunday. Yes, yes, Sunday’s the courting day. Heu-heu!”
“No, ’twasn’t done Sunday in particular.”
“After school-hours this week? Well, a very good time, a very proper good time.”
“O no, ’twasn’t done then.”
“Coming along the road to-day then, I suppose?”
“Not at all; I wouldn’t think of getting engaged in a dog-cart.”
“Dammy—might as well have said at once, the when be blowed! Anyhow, ’tis a fine day, and I hope next time you’ll come as one.”
Fancy was duly brought out and assisted into the vehicle, and the newly affianced youth and maiden passed up the steep hill to the Ridgeway, and vanished in the direction of Mellstock.
CHAPTER III: A CONFESSION
It was a morning of the latter summer-time; a morning of lingering dews, when the grass is never dry in the shade. Fuchsias and dahlias were laden till eleven o’clock with small drops and dashes of water, changing the colour of their sparkle at every movement of the air; and elsewhere hanging on twigs like small silver fruit. The threads of garden spiders appeared thick and polished. In the dry and sunny places, dozens of long-legged crane-flies whizzed off the grass at every step the passer took.