‘Not being in your confidence,’ replied Gaston, smoothly, taking a seat, ‘I can hardly say that I do.’
‘It’s just that Peter o’ yours,’ said Archie, with a snort; ’a puir weecked unbaptised child o’ Satan.’
‘Archie!’ interposed Madame, with some severity.
‘Your pardon’s begged, mem,’ said Archie, sourly turning to her; ‘but as for that Peter body, the Lord keep me tongue fra’ swearin’, an’ my hand from itching to gie him ain on the lug, when I think o’ him.’
‘What’s he been doing?’ asked Vandeloup, coolly. ’I am quite prepared to hear anything about him in his present state.’
‘It’s just this,’ burst forth Archie, wrathfully. ’I went intil the toun to the hotel, to tell the body he must come back tae the mine, and I find him no in a fit state for a Christian to speak to.’
‘Therefore,’ interposed Vandeloup, in his even voice, without lifting his eyes, ‘it was a pity you did speak to him.’
‘I gang t’ the room,’ went on Archie excitedly, without paying any attention to Vandeloup’s remark, ‘an’ the deil flew on me wi’ a dirk, and wud hae split my weasand, but I hed the sense to bang the door to, and turn the key in the lock. D’y ca’ that conduct for a ceevilized body?’
‘The fact is, M. Vandeloup,’ said Madame, quietly, ’Archie is so annoyed at this conduct that he does not want Lemaire to come back to work.’
‘Ma certie, I should just think so,’ cried McIntosh, rubbing his head with his handkerchief. ’Fancy an imp of Beelzebub like yon in the bowels o’ the earth. Losh! but it macks my bluid rin cauld when I think o’ the bluidthirsty pagan.’
To Vandeloup, this information was not unpleasant. He was anxious to get rid of Pierre, who was such an incubus, and now saw that he could send him away without appearing to wish to get rid of him. But as he was a diplomatic young man he did not allow his satisfaction to appear on his face.
‘Aren’t you rather hard on him?’ he said, coolly, leaning back in his chair; ‘he is simply drunk, and will be all right soon.’
‘I tell ye I’ll no have him back,’ said Archie, firmly; ‘he’s ain o’ they foreign bodies full of revolutions an’ confusion o’ tongues, and I’d no feel safe i’ the mine if I kenned that deil was doon below wi’ his dirk.’
‘I really think he ought to go,’ said Madame, looking rather anxiously at Vandeloup, ’unless, M. Vandeloup, you do not want to part with him.’
‘Oh, I don’t want him,’ said Vandeloup, hastily; ’as I told you, he was only one of the sailors on board the ship I was wrecked in, and he followed me up here because I was the only friend he had, but now he has got money—or, at least, his wages must come to a good amount.’
‘Forty pounds,’ interposed Archie.
’So I think the best thing he can do is to go to Melbourne, and see if he can get back to France.’
‘And you, M. Vandeloup?’ asked Dr Gollipeck, who had been listening to the young Frenchman’s remarks with great interest; ’do you not wish to go to France?’