He retired a few steps into the loft and waited. From this elevated perch his eye could sweep the roofs round about, the upper parts of the luxurious chestnut trees, now delicate in leaves of a week's age, and the dropping boughs of the limes; Farfrae's garden and the green door leading therefrom. In course of time - he could not say how long - that green door opened and Farfrae came through. He was dressed as if for a journey. The low light of the nearing evening caught his head and face when he emerged from the shadow of the wall, warming them to a complexion of flame-colour. Henchard watched him with his mouth firmly set, the squareness of his jaw and the verticality of his profile being unduly marked.
Farfrae came on with one hand in his pocket, and humming a tune in a way which told that the words were most in his mind. They were those of the song he had sung when he arrived years before at the Three Mariners, a poor young man, adventuring for life and fortune, and scarcely knowing whither-ward:-
"And here's a hand, my trusty fiere, And gie's a hand o' thine."
Nothing moved Henchard like an old melody. He sank back. "No; I can't do it!" he gasped. "Why does the infernal fool begin that now!"
At length Farfrae was silent, and Henchard looked out of the loft door. "Will ye come up here?" he said.
"Ay, man," said Farfrae. "I couldn't see ye. What's wrang?"
A minute later Henchard heard his feet on the lowest ladder. He heard him land on the first floor, ascend and land on the second, begin the ascent to the third. And then his head rose through the trap behind.
"What are you doing up here at this time?" he asked, coming forward. "Why didn't ye take your holiday like the rest of the men?" He spoke in a tone which had just severity enough in it to show that he remembered the untoward event of the forenoon, and his conviction that Henchard had been drinking.
Henchard said nothing; but going back he closed the stair hatchway, and stamped upon it so that it went tight into its frame; he next turned to the wondering man, who by this time observed that one of Henchard's arms was bound to his side.
"Now," said Henchard quietly, "we stand face to face - man and man. Your money and your fine wife no longer lift 'ee above me as they did but now, and my poverty does not press me down."
"What does it all mean?" asked Farfrae simply.
"Wait a bit, my lad. You should ha' thought twice before you affronted to extremes a man who had nothing to lose. I've stood your rivalry, which ruined me, and your snubbing, which humbled me; but your hustling, that disgraced me, I won't stand!"
Farfrae warmed a little at this. "Ye'd no business there," he said.
"As much as any one among ye! What, your forward stripling, tell a man of my age he'd no business there!" The angervein swelled in his forehead as he spoke.
"You insulted Royalty, Henchard; and 'twas my duty, as the chief magistrate, to stop you."
"Royalty be damned," said Henchard. "I am as loyal as you, come to that!"
"I am not here to argue. Wait till you cool doon, wait till you cool; and you will see things the same way as I do."
"You may be the one to cool first," said Henchard grimly. "Now this is the case. Here be we, in this four- square loft, to finish out that little wrestle you began this morning. There's the door, forty foot above
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