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from her to reach the man whom he believed to be his rival, even yet. In his rage,
as in his love, he was absorbed, body and soul, by Miss Gwilt.
In a moment more, the noise of running wheels approaching from behind startled
him. He turned and looked round. There was Mr. Pedgift the elder, rapidly
overtaking him in the gig, just as Mr. Pedgift had overtaken him once already, on
that former occasion when he had listened under the window at the great house,
and when the lawyer had bluntly charged him with feeling a curiosity about Miss
In an instant the inevitable association of ideas burst on his mind. The opinion of
Miss Gwilt, which he had heard the lawyer express to Allan at parting, flashed
back into his memory, side by side with Mr. Pedgift's sarcastic approval of
anything in the way of inquiry which his own curiosity might attempt. "I may be
even with her yet," he thought, "if Mr. Pedgift will help me!--Stop, sir!" he called
out, desperately, as the gig came up with him. "If you please, sir, I want to speak
to you."
Pedgift Senior slackened the pace of his fast-trotting mare, without pulling up.
"Come to the office in half an hour," he said; "I'm busy now." Without waiting for
an answer, without noticing Mr. Bashwood's bow, he gave the mare the rein
again, and was out of sight in another minute.
Mr. Bashwood sat down once more in a shady place by the roadside. He appeared
to be incapable of feeling any slight but the one unpardonable slight put upon him
by Miss Gwilt. He not only declined to resent, he even made the best of Mr.
Pedgift's unceremonious treatment of him. "Half an hour," he said, resignedly.
"Time enough to compose myself; and I want time. Very kind of Mr. Pedgift,
though he mightn't have meant it."
The sense of oppression in his head forced him once again to remove his hat. He
sat with it on his lap, deep in thought; his face bent low, and the wavering fingers
of one hand drumming absently on the crown of the hat. If Mr. Pedgift the elder,
seeing him as he sat now, could only have looked a little way into the future, the
monotonously drumming hand of the deputy-steward might have been strong
enough, feeble as it was, to stop the lawyer by the roadside. It was the worn,
weary, miserable old hand of a worn, weary, miserable old man; but it was, for all
that (to use the language of Mr. Pedgift's own parting prediction to Allan), the
hand that was now destined to "let the light in on Miss Gwilt."