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Shirley

9. Briarmains
Messrs Helstone and Sykes began to be extremely jocose and congratulatory
with Mr. Moore when he returned to them after dismissing the deputation. He
was so quiet, however, under their compliments upon his firmness etc., and wore
a countenance so like a still, dark day, equally beamless and breezeless, that the
rector, after glancing shrewdly into his eyes, buttoned up his felicitations with his
coat, and said to Sykes, whose senses were not acute enough to enable him to
discover unassisted where his presence and conversation were a nuisance,
'Come, sir; your road and mine lie partly together. Had we not better bear each
other company? We'll bid Moore "good-morning" and leave him to the happy
fancies he seems disposed to indulge.'
'And where is Sugden?' demanded Moore, looking up. 'Ah, ha!' cried Helstone.
'I've not been quite idle while you were busy. I've been helping you a little; I flatter
myself not injudiciously. I thought it better not to lose time; so, while you were
parleying with that down-looking gentleman - Farren I think his name is - I
opened this back window, shouted to Murgatroyd, who was in the stable, to bring
Mr. Sykes's gig round; then I smuggled Sugden and brother Moses - wooden leg
and all - through the aperture, and saw them mount the gig (always with our good
friend Sykes's permission, of course). Sugden took the reins he drives like Jehu -
and in another quarter of an hour Barraclough will be safe in Stilbro' jail.'
'Very good; thank you,' said Moore; 'and good-morning, gentlemen,' he added,
and so politely conducted them to the door, and saw them clear of his premises.
He was a taciturn, serious man the rest of the day. He did not even bandy a
repartee with Joe Scott, who, for his part, said to his master only just what was
absolutely necessary to the progress of business, but looked at him a good deal
out of the corners of his eyes, frequently came to poke the counting-house fire for
him, and once, as he was locking up for the day (the mill was then working short
time, owing to the slackness of trade), observed that it was a grand evening, and
he 'could wish Mr. Moore to take a bit of a walk up th' Hollow. It would do him
good.'
At this recommendation Mr. Moore burst into a short laugh, and after demanding
of Joe what all this solicitude meant, and whether he took him for a woman or a
child, seized the keys from his hand, and shoved him by the shoulders out of his
presence. He called him back, however, ere he had reached the yard-gate.
'Joe, do you know those Farrens? They are not well off, I suppose?'
'They cannot be well off, sir, when they've not had work as a three month. Ye'd
see yoursel' 'at William's sorely changed - fair pared. They've selled most o' t'
stuff out o' th' house.'
'He was not a bad workman?'
'Ye never had a better, sir, sin' ye began trade.'
'And decent people - the whole family?'
'Niver dacenter. Th' wife's a raight cant body, and as clean - ye mught eat your
porridge off th' house floor. They're sorely comed down. I wish William could get
a job as gardener or summat i' that way; he understands gardening weel. He
 
 
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