will always be, sir. So it was with me. And though Gell is pretty near ten years older than you, there are other points in your favour.'

Tom was getting a little nervous as Mr Deane went on speaking: he was conscious of something he had in his mind to say, which might not be agreeable to his uncle, simply because it was a new suggestion rather than an acceptance of the proposition he foresaw.

`It stands to reason,' Mr Deane went on, when he had finished his new pinch, `that your being my nephew weighs in your favour, but I don't deny that if you'd been no relation of mine at all, your conduct in that affair of Pelley's bank would have led Mr Guest and myself to make some acknowledgment of the service you've been to us - and, backed by your general conduct and business ability it has made us determine on giving you a share in the business - a share which we shall be glad to increase as the years go on. We think that'll be better on all grounds than raising your salary. It'll give you more importance, and prepare you better for taking some of the anxiety off my shoulders by and by. I'm equal to a good deal o' work at present, thank God; but I'm getting older - there's no denying that. I told Mr Guest I would open the subject to you, and when you come back from this northern business, we can go into particulars. This is a great stride for a young fellow of three and twenty, but I'm bound to say, you've deserved it.'

`I'm very grateful to Mr Guest and you, sir - of course I feel the most indebted to you, who first took me into the business, and have taken a good deal of pains with me since.'

Tom spoke with a slight tremor, and paused after he had said this.

`Yes, yes,' said Mr Deane. `I don't spare pains when I see they'll be of any use. I gave myself some trouble with Gell - else he wouldn't have been what he is.'

`But there's one thing I should like to mention to you, uncle. I've never spoken to you of it before. If you remember, at the time my father's property was sold, there was some thought of your firm buying the Mill: I know you thought it would be a very good investment, especially if steam were applied.'

`To be sure, to be sure. But Wakem outbid us - he'd made up his mind to that. He's rather fond of carrying everything over other people's heads.'

`Perhaps it's of no use my mentioning it at present,' Tom went on, `but I wish you to know what I have in my mind about the Mill. I've a strong feeling about it. It was my father's dying wish that I should try and get it back again whenever I could - it was in his family for five generations. I promised my father. And besides that, I'm attached to the place. I shall never like any other so well. And if it should ever suit your views to buy it for the firm I should have a better chance of fulfilling my father's wish. I shouldn't have liked to mention the thing to you, only you've been kind enough to say my services have been of some value. And I'd give up a much greater chance in life for the sake of having the Mill again - I mean, having it in my own hands, and gradually working off the price.'

Mr Deane had listened attentively, and now looked thoughtful.

`I see, I see,' he said, after a while, `the thing would be possible, if there were any chance of Wakem's parting with the property. But that I don't see. He's put that young Jet-some in the place, and he had his reasons when he bought it, I'll be bound.'

`He's a loose fish - that young Jetsome,' said Tom. `He's taking to drinking, and they say he's letting the business go down. Luke told me about it - our old miller. He says, he shan't stay unless there's an alteration. I was thinking, if things went on in that way, Wakem might be more willing to part with the Mill. Luke says he's getting very sour about the way things are going on.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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