He hated her working at Oakshotts and prayed ceaselessly to her to come back and starve along with him, for he was a very unreasonable fashion of man a dog-like man with one idea and one worship and one religion, you may say. In fact he lived for Jenny alone, and when I came to be acquaint with him, I feared it was to be war to the knife between us.
Never was such an open-handed man, and being a widower at fifty, with no mind just then to try again, he let his sociable instincts run over for his friends, and Oakshotts, as I sometimes said, was more like an hotel than a country house.
"I did it by holding out against you and saying I'd sooner my gal had him than you; and why I did it was because I had dark suspicions. And you can thank God I had. When he found I was up against Oakshotts and didn't care for nobody there and took a lawless view of life, he came across with it. He's a bad lot and have done time, and he's here for no good whatsoever to Oakshotts.
Owlet wore rags for choice and he picked up a living making clothes-pegs and weaving osier baskets. That was his mean fashion of life, and he was allowed to get his material down in Oakshotts swamps, where the river overflowed and the woodcock and snipe offered sport in winter. But the keepers hated Owlet poking about, because they said he took more than withies from the osier beds.
As butler at Oakshotts I was a busy man no doubt, with a mighty good master who knew he'd got a treasure. Because wine and tobacco be second nature to me, and though very sparing in the use of both, I have great natural gifts and a sort of steadfast and unfailing judgment for the best.
But of course poor Bond might have meant to run straight after he fell in love with Jenny, till Owlet tackled him and encouraged him to try and murder me. Nobody will ever know what his game at Oakshotts was, for he died before he'd played it. Anyway, he was gone, and all that mattered to me remained to get my neck out of the noose if it could be done.
Mighty soon I found that I was not, however, and then, in the hour for my daily constitutional, which I never missed, rain or shine, I turned over the situation and resolved to approach Jenny on the subject and invite a clean breast of it. There was a woodman's path ran on the high ground behind Oakshotts, and here I seldom failed to take an hour's walk daily for the sake of health.
That was what I had to offer, while for her part she was a high-spirited thing and good as gold, aged twenty-five, with a cheerful nature and a great art for taking what pleasure life had to offer the second kitchen-maid at Oakshotts, which weren't very much. But she never groused about her hard career, or was sorry for herself, or anything like that.
As to little Philip, his curious inquiries about Cousin Sedley being in jail for murdering Penny Grim had to be summarily hushed by the assurance that such things were not to be spoken about. But why did Nana cry when he talked of papa's coming home? All the neighbourhood was invited to the funeral in Havant Churchyard, the burial-place of the Oakshotts. Major Oakshott himself wrote to Dr.
A shot I heard, but it was dull and far off and didn't sound no ways different from the usual shots you always heard in Oakshotts. Then, after going without any event for half a mile or more, I saw the woodstack ahead on my way, and that minded me of Owlet's warning and the chance it might be true.