"Let me go—I can't.""There's eggs....""Hemmed Methody! That's how you spik of the man wot's s?aved my soul. I tell you as there I wur lost in trespasses and sins, and now I'm washed white as wool—there wur my evil doings sticking to my soul lik maggots to a dead rat, and now my soul's washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and I'm going out to spread the Word.""It won't be wasting it. Why, Lord love ye, I'd rather spend it on you than anything in the world."Chapter 14 飞艇游戏彩票 "Well, he's swooneded away, anyhow. Can't you do something to m?ake him sensible?"If Grandturzel had fared as badly he could have borne it, but Grandturzel, though scarred, came out of the summer less battered than he. Realf's oats, being in a more sheltered position, did no private threshing of their own; his hops for the most part escaped the blight, and though he lost a good deal on his plums, his apples were harvested at a record, and brought him in nearly ten pounds an acre. On both farms the milk had done badly, but as Realf's dairy business was not so extensive as Backfield's, he was better able to stand its partial collapse. "I've been so wicked—I daren't die. I've been the lowest scum. I'm lost. Pete, I'm damned—I shall go to hell.""Pete!" he cried chokingly—"I won't die!—I won't die!" "Well, don't gape at me. You know you have."Chapter 16"But why?" She went with him to the door. A great lump of phlox grew on either side of it. She stood between them, and suddenly pointed out over Jury's miserable little root-patch towards Boarzell, heaving its great hummocks against the east.Harry somehow felt he had been insulted, and opened his mouth to retort. But his brother suddenly began talking about an accident to a labourer at Grandturzel, and the occasion dropped.Caro flushed with pleasure—a light had kindled in her grey life, and she found herself looking forward to days of basking."You wouldn't tell him—you wouldn't be such a sneak. After all, what's a man for, if it isn't to have a bit of fun with? I don't mean anything serious—it's just a joke."She could not tell him. If he did not understand how every note from Harry's violin would jab and tear the tortured memories she was trying to put to sleep—if he did not understand that of himself, she would never be able to explain it to him. 飞艇游戏彩票 He sat up on the tumbled bed and looked round him.[Pg 318] Rose's nightgown was folded on her pillow, and over a chair lay a pair of the thin useless stockings he had often scolded her for wearing. A drawer was open, and from it came the soft perfume that adhered to everything she put on. He suddenly sprang out of bed and shut it with a kick."And d?an't you try and make out as when you're looking at the sky you d?an't see Boarzell standing in between.""MACDONALD'S GATE"The next morning she returned to Rye. But she could not stay there. Her heart was all restlessness and dissatisfaction. Soon Mrs. Backfield announced that she was coming back. "Sack your chaff, now—can't you sack your chaff?""Yes, but d?an't m?ake him angry—he might beat you." "Well, if that's wot you think, the sooner you find out that you can help loving the better. Did I ever hear such weak womanish slop! Help loving? You'll help it before you're many days older. Meantime you kip away from that girl, and all them hemmed choir-singings which are the ruin of young people.""Richard's made his fortune by quitting Odiam. 'Tis a good place, but he'd never have done half so valiant for himself if he'd stayed."She felt afraid, and did not know where to turn. She avoided Handshut, who stood remote; and though her husband sometimes overwhelmed her with miserable hungry love, he often scarcely seemed to notice her or her children, and she knew that she counted far less than his farm. He was terribly harsh with her now, frowning by the hour over her account-books, forbidding this or that, and in his gloom scarcely noticing her submission. Her memories of those days were full of the smell of daffodils blown in at her window from the garden and of primroses set by Reuben in a bowl beside the bed—of Reuben stooping over her, smoothing back her hair, and stroking her face with hands that quivered strangely, or holding the baby as if it were made of fire and glass.Pete, who had recovered his faculties to some extent, helped support his brother. But he had fainted clean away, and the only thing to do was to let him down as gently as possible."Why?"Rose had begun to question her attitude towards her husband. She had hitherto never doubted for a moment that she loved him—of course she loved him! But now she asked herself—"If I love him, how is it that our most tender moments have never meant so much to me as that second kiss of Handshut's?" None of Reuben's kisses stood out in her memory as that kiss,[Pg 287] he had never made the thrill of life go through her, he had never filled her heart to bursting with joy so infinite that it was sorrow, and sorrow so exquisite that it was joy. She would observe Reuben, and she would see him—old. He was fifty-four, and his hair was grey; there were crow's-feet at the corners of his eyes, and straight lines between his brows, where he had furrowed them as the pitiless sun beat down upon his face. There were other lines too, seamed and scored by hard struggles. He was strong as an ox, but she told herself he was beginning to move a bit stiffly. He had exposed himself so ruthlessly to the wet and cold that his joints had become rheumatic. It was nothing very much, but he liked to have her rub them occasionally, and up till then she had liked it too. Now she suddenly saw something dreary and preposterous in it—here she was married to a man thirty years older than herself, his chattel, his slave. She did not really love him—how could she, with all those years between them? She was fond of him, that was all—and he was getting older, and horribly cantankerous; and she was young—oh, God! she had never known till then how young. 飞艇游戏彩票 But, after all, this subtle gorse-fragrance had its suitableness, for though gorse may cast out the scent of soft fruit from its flowers, its stalks are wire and its roots iron, its leaves are so many barbs for those who would lay hands on its sweetness. It was like Boarzell itself, which was Reuben's delight and his dread, his beloved and his enemy.He sat down, and immediately his mother put a plate of hot bacon before him. She was vexed because it was the only meat he allowed himself on week-days. The children ate bread and milk, and thrived on it, to judge by their round healthy faces. Reuben was proud of them. They were fine children, and he hoped that the one that was coming would be as sturdy.Boarzell was almost unrecognisable now. When one climbed the Forstal Hill behind Peasmarsh and looked southward, one no longer saw a great roughness of Moor couching like something wild and untrapped in the midst of the tame fields and domestic cottages. The fields had licked up its sides till all they had left was the brown and golden crest with its central clump of firs. Behind this to the north was the Grandturzel inclosure, but Reuben's land was nibbling round the edge of it, and everyone knew that Grandturzel would not be able to hold out much longer."No, of course not."Thenceforward the whole character of the election was changed. The Poor Man's Loaf was forgotten as completely as the wheat-tax which should make the farmer rich. Six-pound householders became as uninteresting as anybody else who had not a vote. Nobody cared a damn whether the poor were educated at the nation's expense or not. The conflict raged blindly, furiously, degradingly round the Scott's Float toll-gate. "You'll never do it yourself," said Naomi, who was spending a few days at Odiam.Yet Mrs. Backfield did not, any more than Naomi, understand Reuben's great ambition.Rose was definitely frightened, and broke free with some violence."Bring a light!" called someone. A boy dashed up with a handful of flaming straw—it blew out of his hand and flared away over the roof, scattering showers of sparks. A man yelled out that his shirt was burning. "Bring a light!" someone called again. Then someone else shouted—"The constables from Rye!"