"If ye'd been minding your business instead of zwailing along in such a gawk-hammer way, you would have zeed me!" retorted the wroth representative of Henchard.
However, according to the strict rule of the road it appeared that Henchard's man was most in the wrong; he therefore attempted to back into the High Street. In doing this the near hind-wheel rose against the chruchyard wall, and the whole mountainous load went over, two of the four wheels rising in the air, and the legs of the thill horse.
Instead of considering how to gather up the load the two men closed in a fight with their fists. Before the first round was quite over Henchard came upon the spot, somebody having run for him.
Henchard sent the two men staggering in contrary directions by collaring one with each hand, turned to the horse that was down, and extricated him after some trouble. He then inquired into the circumstances; and seeing the state of his waggon and its load began hotly rating Farfrae's man.
Lucetta and Elizabeth-Jane had by this time run down to the street corner, whence they watched the bright heap of new hay lying in the moon's rays, and passed and re-passed by the forms of Henchard and the waggoners. The women had witnessed what nobody else had seen - the origin of the mishap; and Lucetta spoke.
"I saw it all, Mr Henchard," she cried; "and your man was most in the wrong!"
Henchard paused in his harangue and turned. "Oh, I didn't notice you, Miss Templeman," said he. "My man in the wrong? Ah, to be sure; to be sure! But I beg your pardon notwithstanding. The other's is the empty waggon, and he must have been most to blame for coming on."
"No; I saw it, too," said Elizabeth-Jane. "And I can assure you he couldn't help it."
"You can't trust their senses!" murmured Henchard's man.
"Why not?" asked Henchard sharply.
"Why, you see, sir, all the women side with farfrae - being a damn young dand - or the sort that he is - one that creeps into a maid's heart like the giddying worm into a sheep's brain - making crooked seem straight to their eyes!"
"But do you know who that lady is you talk about in such a fashion? Do you know that I pay my attentions to her, and have for some time? Just be careful!"
"Not I. I know nothing, sir, outside eight shillings a week."
"And that Mr Farfrae is well aware of it? He's sharp in trade, but he wouldn't do anything so underhand as what you hint at."
Whether because Lucetta heard this low dialogue, or not, her white figure disappeared from her doorway inward, and the door was shut before Henchard could reach it to converse with her further. This disappointed him, for he had been sufficiently disturbed by what the man had said to wish to speak to her more closely. While pausing the old constable came up.
"Just see that nobody drives against that hay and waggon tonight, Stubberd," said the corn-merchant. "It must bide till the morning, for all hands are in the fields still. And if any coach or road-waggon wants to come along, tell 'em they must go round by the back street, and he hanged to 'em... Any case tomorrow up in Hall?"
"Yes, sir. One in number, sir."
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