Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/101

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CHAPTER XIII.


IN THE DUSK.


"Kicking along, Mr. Menaida, old man?" asked Mr. Scantlebray, in his loud, harsh voice, as he shook himself inside the door of Uncle Zachie's workshop. "And the little 'uns? Late in life to become nurse and keep the bottle and pap-bowl going, eh, old man? How's the orphings? Eating their own weight of victuals at two-pence-ha'penny a head, eh? My experience of orphings isn't such as would make a man hilarious, and feel that he was filling his pockets."

"Sit you down, sir; you'll find a chair. Not that one, there's a dab of arsenical paste got on to that. Sit you down, sir, over against me. Glad to see you and have some one to talk to. Here am I slaving all day, worn to fiddlestrings. There's Squire Rashleigh, of Menabilly, must have a glaucous gull stuffed at once that he has shot; and there's Sir John St. Aubyn, of Clowance, must have a case of kittiwakes by a certain day; and an institution in London wants a genuine specimen of a Cornish chough? Do they think I'm a tradesman to be ordered about? That I've not an income of my own, and that I am dependent on my customers? I'll do no more. I'll smoke and play the piano. I've no time to exchange a word with any one. Come, sit down. What's the news?"

"It's a bad world," said Mr. Scantlebray, setting himself into a chair. "That's to say, the world is well enough if it warn't for there being too many rascals in it. I consider it's a duty on all right-thinking men to clear them off."

"Well, the world would be better if we had the making of it," acquiesced Mr. Menaida. "Bless you! I've no time for anything. I like to do a bit of bird-stuffing just as a sort of relaxation after smoking, but to be forced to work more than one cares—I won't do it! Be-