right that you should know it. To my knowledge he was at the Three Mariners last night, saying in public that about you which a man ought not to say about another."
"Is that so - ah, is that so?" said Farfrae, looking down. "Why should he do it?" added the young man bitterly; "what harm have I done him that he should try to wrong me?"
"God only knows," said Joyce, lifting his eyebrows. "It shows much long-suffering in you to put up with him, and keep him in your employ."
"But I cannet discharge a man who was once a good friend to me? How can I forget that when I came here 'twas he enabled me to make a footing for mysel'? No, no. As long as I've a day's wark to offer he shall do it if he chooses. `Tis not I who will deny him such a little as that. But I'll drop the idea of establishing him in a shop till I can think more about it."
It grieved Farfrae much to give up this scheme. But a damp having been thrown over it by these and other voices in the air, he went and countermanded his orders. The then occupier of the shop was in it when Farfrae spoke to him, and feeling it necessary to give some explanation of his withdrawal from the negotiation Donald mentioned Henchard's name, and stated that the intentions of the Council had been changed.
The occupier was much disappointed, and straightaway informed Henchard, as soon as he saw him, that a scheme of the Council for setting him up in a shop had been knocked on the head by Farfrae. And thus out of error enmity grew.
When Farfrae got indoors that evening that the tea-kettle was singing on the high hob of the semi-egg- shaped grate. Lucetta, light as a sylph, ran forward and seized his hands, where-upon Farfrae duly kissed her.
"Oh!" she cried playfully, turning to the window. "See - the blinds are not drawn down, and the people can look in - what a scandal!"
When the candles were lighted, the curtains drawn, and the twain sat at tea, she noticed that he looked serious. Without directly inquiring why she let her eyes linger solicitously on his face.
"Who has called?" he absently asked. "Any folk for me?"
"No," said Lucetta. "What's the matter, Donald?"
"Well - nothing worth talking of," he responded sadly.
"Then, never mind it. You will get through it. Scotchmen are always lucky."
"No - not always!" he said, shaking his head gloomily as he contemplated a crumb on the table. "I know many who have not been so! There was Sandy Macfarlane, who started to America to try his fortune, and he was drowned; and Archibald Leith, he was murdered! And poor Willie Dunbleeze and Maitland Macfreeze - they fell into bad courses, and went the way of all such!"
"Why - you old goosey - I was only speaking in a general sense, of course! You are always so literal. Now when we have finished tea, sing me that funny song about high-heeled shoon and siller tags, and the one-and-forty wooers."
"No, no. I couldna sing tonight! It's Henchard - he hates me; so that I may not be his friend if I would. I would understand why there should be a wee bit envy; but I cannet see a reason for the whole intensity of what he feels. Now, can you, Lucetta? It is more like old-fashioned rivalry in love than just a bit of rivalry in trade."
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|