Noah and Moses

The next day, Moore had risen before the sun, and had taken a ride to Whinbury and back ere his sister had made the caf\da\e au lait, or cut the tartines for his breakfast. What business he transacted there, he kept to himself. Hortense asked no questions; it was not her wont to comment on his movements, nor his to render an account of them. The secrets of business—complicated and often dismal mysteries—were buried in his breast, and never came out of their sepulchre, save now and then to scare Joe Scott, or give a start to some foreign correspondent: indeed, a general habit of reserve on whatever was important seemed bred in his mercantile blood.

Breakfast over, he went to his counting-house. Henry, Joe Scott’s boy, brought in the letters and the daily papers; Moore seated himself at his desk, broke the seals of the documents, and glanced them over. They were all short, but not, it seemed, sweet; probably rather sour, on the contrary, for as Moore laid down the last, his nostrils emitted a derisive and defiant snuff; and though he burst into no soliloquy, there was a glance in his eye which seemed to invoke the devil, and lay charges on him to sweep the whole concern to Gehenna. However, having chosen a pen and stripped away the feathered top in a brief spasm of finger-fury—only finger-fury, his face was placid—he dashed off a batch of answers, sealed them, and then went out and walked through the mill: on coming back, he sat down to read his newspaper.

The contents seemed not absorbingly interesting; he more than once laid it across his knee, folded his arms, and gazed into the fire; he occasionally turned his head towards the window: he looked at intervals at his watch: in short his mind appeared preoccupied. Perhaps he was thinking of the beauty of the weather, for it was a fine and mild morning for the season, and wishing to be out in the fields enjoying it. The door of his counting-house stood wide open, the breeze and sunshine entered freely; but the first visitant brought no spring perfume on its wings, only an occasional sulphur-puff from the soot-thick column of smoke rushing sable from the gaunt mill-chimney.

A dark-blue apparition (that of Joe Scott, fresh from a dying vat) appeared momentarily at the open door, uttered the words, ‘He’s comed, sir,’ and vanished.

Mr. Moore raised not his eyes from the paper. A large man, broad-shouldered and massive-limbed, clad in fustian garments and gray-worsted stockings, entered, who was received with a nod, and desired to take a seat, which he did, making the remark—as he removed his hat (a very bad one), stowed it away under his chair, and wiped his forehead with a spotted cotton handkerchief extracted from the hat-crown—that it was ‘raight dahn warm for Febewerry.’ Mr. Moore assented; at least, he uttered some slight sound, which, though inarticulate, might pass for an assent. The visitor now carefully deposited in the corner beside him an official-looking staff which he bore in his hand; this done, he whistled, probably by way of appearing at his ease.

‘You have what is necessary, I suppose?’ said Mr. Moore.

‘Ay! ay! all’s right.’

He renewed his whistling, Mr. Moore his reading: the paper apparently had become more interesting. Presently, however, he turned to his cupboard, which was within reach of his long arm, opened it without rising, took out a black bottle—the same he had produced for Malone’s benefit—a tumbler and a jug, placed them on the table, and said to his guest:

‘Help yourself; there’s water in that jar in the corner.’

‘I dunnut knaw that there’s mich need, for all a body is dry (thirsty) in a morning,’ said the fustian gentleman, rising and doing as requested.

‘Will you tak’ naught yourseln, Mr. Moore?’ he inquired, as with skilled hand he mixed a portion, and having tested it by a deep draught, sank back satisfied and bland in his seat.

Moore, chary of words, replied by a negative movement and murmur.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.