“I must tell you this, mister sir,” said Van Diemen, “I like you, but I’ll be straightforward and truthful, or I’m not worthy the name of Englishman; and I do like you, or I should n’t have given you leave to come down here after us two. You must respect my friend if you care for my respect. That’s it. There it is. Now you know my conditions.”
“I ’m afraid I can’t sign the treaty,” said Fellingham.
“Here’s more,” said Van Diemen. “I’m a chilly man myself if I hear a laugh and think I know the aim of it. I’ll meet what you like except scorn. I can’t stand contempt. So I feel for another. And now you know.”
“It puts a stopper on the play of fancy, and checks the throwing off of steam,” Fellingham remonstrated. “I promise to do my best, but of all the men I’ve ever met in my life—Tinman!—the ridiculous! Pray pardon me; but the donkey and his looking-glass! The glass was misty! He—as particular about his reflection in the glass as a poet with his verses! Advance, retire, bow; and such murder of the Queen’s English in the very presence! If I thought he was going to take his wine with him, I’d have him arrested for high treason.”
“You’ve chosen, and you know what you best like,” said Van Diemen, pointing his accents—by which is produced the awkward pause, the pitfall of conversation, and sometimes of amity.
Thus it happened that Mr. Herbert Fellingham journeyed back to London a day earlier than he had intended, and without saying what he meant to say.
A month later, after a night of sharp frost on the verge of the warmer days of spring, Mr. Fellingham entered Crikswich under a sky of perfect blue that was in brilliant harmony with the green downs, the white cliffs and sparkling sea, and no doubt it was the beauty before his eyes which persuaded him of his delusion in having taken Annette for a commonplace girl. He had come in a merely curious mood to discover whether she was one or not. Who but a commonplace girl would care to reside in Crikswich, he had asked himself; and now he was full sure that no commonplace girl would ever have had the idea. Exquisitely simple, she certainly was; but that may well be a distinction in a young lady whose eyes are expressive.
The sound of sawing attracted him to Crickledon’s shop, and the industrious carpenter soon put him on the tide of affairs.
Crickledon pointed to the house on the beach as the place where Mr. Van Diemen Smith and his daughter were staying.
“Dear me! and how does he look?” said Fellingham.
“Our town seems to agree with him, sir.”
“Well, I must not say any more, I suppose.” Fellingham checked his tongue. “How have they settled that dispute about the chiwal-glass?”
“Mr. Tinman had to give way.”
“But,” Crickledon stopped work, “Mr. Tinman sold him a meadow.”