’More than his eating and his drinking, that child’s father worrits about his learning to speak the language of a British gentleman,’ Mrs. Waddy exclaimed. ’Before that child your h’s must be like the panting of an engine—to please his father. He ’d stop me carrying the dinner-tray on meat-dish hot, and I’m to repeat what I said, to make sure the child haven’t heard anything ungrammatical. The child’s nursemaid he’d lecture so, the poor girl would come down to me ready to bend double, like a bundle of nothing, his observations so took the pride out of her. That’s because he ’s a father who knows his duty to the child:—“Child!” says he, “man, ma’am.” It’s just as you, John, when you sow your seed you think of your harvest. So don’t take it ill of me, John; I beg of you be careful of your English. Turn it over as you’re about to speak.’
‘Change loads on the road, you mean,’ said John Thresher. ’Na, na, he’s come to settle nigh a weedy field, if you like, but his crop ain’t nigh reaping yet. Hark you, Mary Waddy, who’re a widde, which ’s as much as say, an unocc’pied mind, there’s cockney, and there’s country, and there ’s school. Mix the three, strain, and throw away the sediment. Now, yon ’s my view.
His wife and Mrs. Waddy said reflectively, in a breath, ‘True!’
‘Drink or no, that’s the trick o’ brewery,’ he added.
They assented. They began praising him, too, like meek creatures.
’What John says is worth listening to, Mary. You may be over-careful. A stew’s a stew, and not a boiling to shreds, and you want a steady fire, and not a furnace.’
’Oh, I quite agree with John, Martha: we must take the good and the evil in a world like this.’
‘Then I’m no scholar, and you’re at ease,’ said John.
Mrs. Waddy put her mouth to his ear.
Up went his eyebrows, wrinkling arches over a petrified stare.
In some way she had regained her advantage. ‘Art sure of it?’ he inquired.
‘Pray, don’t offend me by expressing a doubt of it,’ she replied, bowing.
John Thresher poised me in the very centre of his gaze. He declared he would never have guessed that, and was reproved, inasmuch as he might have guessed it. He then said that I could not associate with any of the children thereabout, and my dwelling in the kitchen was not to be thought of. The idea of my dwelling in the kitchen seemed to be a serious consideration with Mrs. Martha likewise. I was led into the rooms of state. The sight of them was enough. I stamped my feet for the kitchen, and rarely in my life have been happier than there, dining and supping with John and Martha and the farm-labourers, expecting my father across the hills, and yet satisfied with the sun. To hope, and not be impatient, is really to believe, and this was my feeling in my father’s absence. I knew he would come, without wishing to hurry him. He had the world beyond the hills; I this one, where a slow full river