Page:Triangles of life, and other stories.djvu/74

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62
TRIANGLES OF LIFE

around London. In the north and east, I fancied sometimes, and had worked at many things, and no doubt had often been trusted as caretaker or odd hand because of his smile alone. He worked at the brickyards now, and lived with his married brother Tom, over at Little-Sump thin-on-the-Mud—(a little up the river from Chawlton, on this side). He was the only young man left who was after Lizzie's time at Chawlton, and was therefore new to her, as she pervaded him at the village, and walked home with him from Shepperton one night. His smile was acquiescent. Perhaps she only wanted to see if it would make some talk. It did, and female necks craned over the little quickset front hedge (common to the whole village) to wait for them at dusk—and after it.

Then it appeared to Lizzie that Billy, who was a first-class brick hand, had put together a few pounds, and was thinking of a decent furnished little place of his own, and some 'un to take care of it. He wasn't comfortable with his sister-in-law at Little-Sumpthinon-the-Mud. He wasn't " warm " there, she had too many " dry words " for Tom and the children, and some on 'em was meant for him. So Lizzie began to pervade him in a practical manner, and it made a good deal of talk.

It made more at Little Sumpthin, which was about half the size of Chawlton, for Tom was obstinately opposed to Elizabeth Higgins. And in this his wife agreed with him—she agreed with him in nothing else–not even the weather. But Billy set it all down to her.