When he was gone Durbeyfield walked a few steps in a profound reverie, and then sat down upon the grassy bank by the roadside, depositing his basket before him. In a few minutes a youth appeared in the distance, walking in the same direction as that which had been pursued by Durbeyfield. The latter, on seeing him, held up his hand, and the lad quickened his pace and came near.
`Boy, take up that basket! I want'ee to go on an errand for me.'
The lath-like stripling frowned. 'Who be you, then, John Durbeyfield, to order me about and call me "boy"? You know my name as well as I know yours!'
`Do you, do you? That's the secret - that's the secret! Now obey my orders, and take the message I'm going to charge 'ee wi'... .Well, Fred, I don't mind telling you that the secret is that I'm one of a noble race - it has been just found out by me this present afternoon P.M.' And as he made the announcement, Durbeyfield, declining from his sitting position, luxuriously stretched himself out upon the bank among the daisies.
The lad stood before Durbeyfield, and contemplated his length from crown to toe.
`Sir John d'Urberville - that's who I am,' continued the prostrate man. 'That is if knights were baronets - which they be. 'Tis recorded in history all about me. Dost know of such a place, lad, as Kingsbere-sub- Greenhill?'
`Ees. I've been there to Greenhill Fair.'
`Well, under the church of that city there lie--'
`'Tisn't a city, the place I mean; leastwise 'twaddn' when I was there--'twas a little one-eyed, blinking sort o' place.'
`Never you mind the place, boy, that's not the question before us. Under the church of that there parish lie my ancestors - hundreds of 'em - in coats of mail and Jewels, in gr't lead coffins weighing tons and tons. There's not a man in the county o' South-Wessex that's got grander and nobler skillentons in his family than I.'
`Now take up that basket, and goo on to Marlott, and when you've come to The Pure Drop Inn, tell 'em to send a horse and carriage to me immediately, to carry me hwome. And in the bottom o' the carriage they be to put a noggin o' rum in a small bottle, and chalk it up to my account. And when you've done that goo on to my house with the basket, and tell my wife to put away that washing, because she needn't finish it, and wait till I come hwome, as I've news to tell her.'
As the lad stood in a dubious attitude, Durbeyfield put his hand in his pocket, and produced a shilling, one of the chronically few that he possessed.
`Here's for your labour, lad.'
This made a difference in the young man's estimate of the position.
`Yes, Sir John. Thank 'ee. Anything else I can do for 'ee, Sir John?'
`Tell 'em at hwome that I should like for supper, - well, lamb's fry if they can get it; and if they can't, black- pot; and if they can't get that, well, chitterlings will do.'
`Yes, Sir John.'
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