‘I don’t know what you mean, I’m sure,’ I said; ’it was only a joke.’
‘A joke!’ says he. ’Lies, I call it, and I know they’re lies by the very touch of her in my arm here.’
‘Oh, well!’ I said, ’if you can’t take joking better than this, it’s the last time I’ll ever try joking with you.’
And I walked out of the church, and the other folks who had run up to see what was the matter come out with me. And they two was left alone.
I suppose it was only human nature that, as I come round the church, I should get on the top of a tombstone and look in to see what they was doing. It was the little window where a pane was broken by a stone last summer, and so I heard what they was saying. He was trying to tell her what I had told him—quite as much for her own good as for mine, as you have seen; but she didn’t seem to want to listen.
‘Oh, never mind all that now, Jack,’ she says, with arms round his neck. ’What does it matter about a silly joke now that I have got you, and it’s all right betwixt us?’
I thought it my duty to go straight home and tell uncle she was up in the church, kissing and cuddling with Jack Halibut; and he took his stick and started off after her.
But he met them at the garden gate, and Jack, he came forward, and he says—
’Mr. Kenworthy, I have had hard thoughts of you this three year, but I see you was right, for if I had never gone away, I should never have been able to keep my little girl as she should be kept, and as I can now, thanks be! and I should never have known how dear she has loved me this three year.’
And uncle, like the soft-hearted old thing he is, he holds out his hands, and he says, ’God bless you, my boy, it was for your own good and hers.’
And they went in to supper.
As for me, I went to bed. I had had all the supper I wanted. And uncle has never been the same to me since, though I’m sure I tried to act for the best.
It was my first place and my last, and I don’t think we should have got on in business as we have if it hadn’t been for me being for six or seven years with one of the first families in the county. Though only a housemaid, you can’t help learning something of their ways. At any rate, you learn what gentlefolks like, and what they can’t abide. But the worst of being housemaid where there’s a lot of servants kept is, that one or other or all of the men-servants is sure to be wanting to keep company with you. They have nothing else to do in their spare time, and I suppose it’s handy having your sweetheart living in the house. It doesn’t give you so much trouble with going out in the evening, if not fine.