It seemed almost as if his luck had turned, for the harvests that year were exceedingly good. In most of his fields there were two hay-crops, while the oats and wheat yielded generously, even on Boarzell. As for the hops, he reaped a double triumph, for not only did his hop-gardens bring in more than the average to the acre, but almost everyone else in the neighbourhood did badly, so prices rose in a gratifying way."From what?"Then winter came, with carol-singing, and the choristers tramped round, lantern-led, from farm to farm. There in the fluttering light outside Kitchenhour, Old Turk, Ellenwhorne, or Edzell, Robert would watch Bessie's chicory-flower eyes under her hood, while the steam of their breath mingled in the frosty air, and they drooped their heads together, singing to each other, only to each other, "Good King Wenceslas," "As Joseph was a-walking," or "In the Fields with their Flocks." 吉林快三啥时候结束 He stood with his arms folded over his chest, and watched the first stars flicker above Castweasel. The scent of the ground steamed up to mingle with the mists, a soft rasp of frost was in the air and the earth which he had loved seemed to breathe out towards him, and tell him that by his faithful service he had won not only Boarzell but all gracious soil, all the secrets of seed-time and harvest, all the tender mysteries of sap, and growth.The crowd surged round the waggons, cheered, joked, sang. The whole of Rye was there—prosperous tradesmen from the High Street or Station Road, innkeepers, farmers, shop-assistants, chains of fishermen in high boots, jerseys, and gold ear-rings, coast-guards from the Camber, and one or two scared-looking women clinging to stalwart arms. Meridiana's low sing-song continued:"This mortgage business alters 'em a bit. I'll have to think it over. Maybe I'll let you hear to-morrow mornun.""Well, of course if it's only fun.... But f?ather wudn't think it that."Though it was not yet ten o'clock the Fair was crowded. A shout greeted Harry's appearance with his fiddle, for it was never too early to dance. Blind Harry climbed on his tub, flourished his bow with many horrible smiles—for he loved his treats of popularity and attention—and started the new tune "My Decided Decision," which Caro and Tilly had taught him the day before. Albert immediately caught a pretty girl by the waist, and spun round with her on the grass while Pete vanished into the sparring-booth, his shoulders already out of his coat. Mrs. Backfield led off Caro and Tilly, looking sidelong at the dancers, to the more staid entertainment of the stalls. Jemmy and George ran straight to the merry-go-round, which now worked by steam, and hooted shrilly as it swung. Robert and Richard stood with their arms folded, watching the dancing with very different expressions on their faces. The boys told her; they described their prosperous brother with his white shirt-front, his pince-nez, his ring, and his high-born wife. As they talked they grew more at their ease."And I ask wot d'you mean by 'worth while'?"Whether Reuben would have succeeded or not is uncertain, for he was never put to the proof. The next day Albert was feverish and delirious, and the doctor had to be sent for. He cheerfully gave the eldest Backfield three months to live—his lungs were in a dreadful state, one completely gone, the other partly so. He[Pg 364] had caught a chill, too, walking in the dark and cold. There could be no thought of moving him."H?ald your false tongue. You're no wife o' mine from this day forrard. I w?an't be cuckolded in my own house." There was also another depressing factor. As he felt his end approaching Albert began to develop a conscience[Pg 366] and remorse. He said he had wasted his life, and as time wore on and he became weaker he passed from the general to the particular. The memory of certain sins tormented him, and he used Pete as his confessor."Oh, f?ather, I'm sorry I sp?ake lik that. D?an't be angry wud me fur saying wot I did. I'll own as we might have managed better—only d?an't send us away—fur this liddle chap's sake," and she pulled forward young Sidney, who was crying too."How many have you got?""I w?an't have my lads fooling it in the house," he said to his wife, when he found her winding a skein of wool off Handshut's huge brown paws—"they've work enough to do outside wudout spannelling after you women."She feebly put up her hand and brushed the veil away—already something strange had loomed through it, whipping her curiosity. A man was at the window, his head and shoulders dark against the sunset. 吉林快三啥时候结束 "There's no one gone from here as has ever come back." Chapter 9He had risen too, and stood before her in mingled pain and surprise. He thought her resistance mere coyness, and suddenly flung his arms round her as she stood. For once that Realf managed to land a blow, Reuben landed a couple, and with twice as much weight behind them. The younger man soon began to look green and sick, he staggered about, and flipped, while the sweat poured off his forehead into his eyes. Reuben breathed stertorously and could scarcely see out of his left eye, but was otherwise game. Pete felt prouder of him than ever.Meantime affairs at Grandturzel were going from bad to worse. Reuben did not speak much about Grandturzel, but he watched it all the same, and as time wore on a look of quiet satisfaction would overspread his face when it was mentioned at the Cocks. He watched the tiles drip gradually off its barn roofs, he watched the thatch of its haggards peel and moult, he watched the oasts lose their black coats of tar, while the wind battered off their caps, and the skeleton poles stuck up forlornly from their turrets. Holes wore in the neat house-front, windows were broken and not mended, torn curtains waved signals of distress. It was only a question of waiting."You can't." "Have adone do wud your preaching. I'm ashamed[Pg 380] of you, led astray by lunies as if you wur no better nor poor Harry. You're a hemmed lousy traitor, you are, the worst of 'em all."Chapter 10At last Peace became an accomplished fact. Reuben could not help a few disloyal regrets that his corn-growing had been in vain, but he consoled himself with the thought that now he would have William back in a few weeks. He expected a letter from him, and grew irritable when none came. Billy had not been so good about writing since David's death, but his father thought that he at least might have written to announce his return. As things were, he did not know when to expect him. He supposed he was bound to get his discharge, and he would have heard if anything had happened to him. Why did not William hurry home to share Odiam's greatness with his old father?"And he expects us to care for nothing but his vulgar ambitions. Oh Lord! I wish I was out of it!" 吉林快三啥时候结束 Unfortunately he had reckoned without Rose—Rose saw no need for such drastic measures. Because her man had been venturesome and stupid, made rash speculations, and counted on a quite unwarranted legacy, that was no reason for her to go without her new spring gown or new covers for her parlour chairs. She was once more expecting motherhood, and considered that as a reward for such self-sacrifice the most expensive luxuries were inadequate.After all he was not really drunk, only a little fuddled. He walked straight, and his roll was natural to him, while though he was exceedingly cheerful, and often burst into song, his words were not jumbled, and he generally seemed to have a fair idea of what he was saying."Bill, do you think that if we stay here, Odiam 'ull' do for us wot it did for Caro?" "Yes—that makes up to us a bit, but it d?an't do us any real good ... only helps us git round a man sometimes when we can't git over him."