“Oh no,” said Arthur, rising from his chair with an air of impatience and walking along the room with his hands in his pockets. “He’s got some project or other about letting the Chase Farm and bargaining for a supply of milk and butter for the house. But I ask no questions about it—it makes me too angry. I believe he means to do all the business himself, and have nothing in the shape of a steward. It’s amazing what energy he has, though.”
“Well, we’ll go to the ladies now,” said Mr. Irwine, rising too. “I want to tell my mother what a splendid throne you’ve prepared for her under the marquee.”
“Yes, and we must be going to luncheon too,” said Arthur. “It must be two o’clock, for there is the gong beginning to sound for the tenants’ dinners.”
When Adam heard that he was to dine upstairs with the large tenants, he felt rather uncomfortable at the idea of being exalted in this way above his mother and Seth, who were to dine in the cloisters below. But Mr. Mills, the butler, assured him that Captain Donnithorne had given particular orders about it, and would be very angry if Adam was not there.
Adam nodded and went up to Seth, who was standing a few yards off. “Seth, lad,” he said, “the captain has sent to say I’m to dine upstairs—he wishes it particular, Mr. Mills says, so I suppose it ’ud be behaving ill for me not to go. But I don’t like sitting up above thee and mother, as if I was better than my own flesh and blood. Thee’t not take it unkind, I hope?”
“Nay, nay, lad,” said Seth, “thy honour’s our honour; and if thee get’st respect, thee’st won it by thy own deserts. The further I see thee above me, the better, so long as thee feel’st like a brother to me. It’s because o’ thy being appointed over the woods, and it’s nothing but what’s right. That’s a place o’ trust, and thee’t above a common workman now.”
“Aye,” said Adam, “but nobody knows a word about it yet. I haven’t given notice to Mr. Burge about leaving him, and I don’t like to tell anybody else about it before he knows, for he’ll be a good bit hurt, I doubt. People ’ull be wondering to see me there, and they’ll like enough be guessing the reason and asking questions, for there’s been so much talk up and down about my having the place, this last three weeks.”
“Well, thee canst say thee wast ordered to come without being told the reason. That’s the truth. And mother ’ull be fine and joyful about it. Let’s go and tell her.”