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Tom has been going on business trips and is doing really well.
Mr. Deane gives another one of his patented ‘back in my day, sonny, I walked 50 miles in the snow everywhere’ type of speeches. This time he talks about how the world is changing.
We learn that Tom has been working for Mr. Deane for seven years and that he is now twenty-three.
(Math Lesson! OK, so back when Maggie came to fetch Tom from school, after their dad lost his lawsuit, we learned that Maggie was around thirteen and Tom was sixteen. So this would make Maggie about nineteen or twenty currently. Philip is a year older than Tom, which makes him 24 and we know Stephen is 25. Lucy is younger than Maggie by about a year or so, which we learned way back at the beginning of the book. So there’s everyone rough ages.)
Mr. Deane gives a very rambling run-down of the business and how Tom has been excelling. After a while, he finally gets to the point: Mr. Guest (the head honcho, and Stephen’s father) and Mr. Deane want to promote Tom and give him a share in the business. So Tom will basically have stock in the company now.
Tom is happy about this.
But Tom has something to ask Mr. Deane: he wants his help to buy back the mill. He explains it was his father’s dying wish and that there’s an opportunity to get it now since Wakem’s current manager is no good and Wakem might just want to get rid of the place now.
Mr. Deane is intrigued and says he’ll think about it, but notes that he’d rather keep Tom in his current position rather than make him a Mill manager right now.
Tom says he could do both since he loves work.
Mr. Deane finds this a bit depressing and tells Tom that he’ll get married one day and have other things to worry about.