"Gone into my house?" And starting up Henchard added, "MY house of all others in the town!"
"Well, as somebody was sure to live there, and you couldn't, it can do 'ee no harm that he's the man."
It was quite true: he felt that it was doing him no harm. Farfrae, who had already taken the yards and stores, had acquired possession of the house for the obvious convenience of its contiguity. And yet this act of his taking up residence within those roomy chambers while he, their former tenant, lived in a cottage, galled Henchard indescribably.
Jopp continued: "And you heard of that fellow who bought all the best furniture at your sale? He was bidding for no other than Farfrae all the while! It has never been moved out of the house, as he'd already got the lease."
"My furniture too! Surely he'll buy my body and soul likewise!"
"There's no saying he won't, if you be willing to sell." And having planted these wounds in the heart of his once imperious master Jopp went on his way; while Henchard stared and stared into the racing river till the bridge seemed moving backward with him.
The low land grew blacker, and the sky a deeper grey, When the landscape looked like a picture blotted in with ink, another traveller approached the great stone bridge. He was driving a gig, his direction being also townwards. On the round of the middle of the arch the gig stopped. "Mr Henchard?" came from it in the voice of Farfrae. Henchard turned his face.
Finding that he had guessed rightly Farfrae told the man who accompanied him to drive home; while he alighted and went up to his former friend.
"I have heard that you think of emigrating, Mr. Henchard?" he said. "Is it true? I have a real reason for asking."
Henchard withheld his answer for several instants, and then said, "Yes; it is true. I am going where you were going to a few years ago, when I prevented you and got you to bide here. 'Tis turn and turn about, isn't it! Do ye mind how we stood like this in the Chalk Walk when I persuaded 'ee to stay? You then stood without a chattel to your name, and I was the master of the house in Corn Street. But now I stand without a stick or a rag, and the master of that house is you."
"Yes, yes; that's so! It's the way o' the warrld," said Farfrae.
"Ha, ha, true!" cried Henchard, throwing himself into a mood of jocularity. "Up and down! I'm used to it. What's the odds after all!"
"Now listen to me, if it's no taking up your time," said Farfrae, "just as I listened to you. Don't go. Stay at home."
"But I can do nothing else, man!" said Henchard scornfully. "The little money I have will just keep body and soul together for a few weeks, and no more. I have not felt inclined to go back to journey-work yet; but I can't stay doing nothing, and my best chance is elsewhere."
"No; but what I propose is this — if ye will listen. Come and live in your old house. We can spare some rooms very well — I am sure my wife would not mind it at all — until there's an opening for ye."
Henchard started. Probably the picture drawn by the unsuspecting Donald of himself under the same roof with Lucetta was too striking to be received with equanimity. "No, no," he said gruffly; "we should quarrel."
"You should hae a part to yourself," said Farfrae; "and nobody to interfere wi' you. It will be a deal healthier than down there by the river where you live now."
Still Henchard refused. "You don't know what you ask," he said. "However, I can do no less than thank 'ee."
They walked into the town together side by side, as they had done when Henchard persuaded the young Scotchman to remain. "Will you come in and have some supper?" said Farfrae when they reached the middle of the town, where their paths diverged right and left.
"By-the-bye, I had nearly forgot. I bought a good deal of your furniture.
"So I have heard."
"Well, it was no that I wanted it so very much for myself; but I wish ye to pick out all that you care to have — such things as may be endeared to ye by associations, or particularly suited to your use. And take them to your own house — it will not be depriving me, we can do with less very well, and I will have plenty of opportunities of getting more."
"What — give it to me for nothing?" said Henchard. "But you paid the creditors for it!"
"Ah, yes; but maybe it's worth more to you than it is to me."