Is the Colonel so poor or so grasping—or what?"Oh, f?ather, if only you'll do anything fur us, we'll bless you all our lives.""Backfield's going to bust up his willer-rootses—fine sight it'll be—like as not blow his own head off—I'll be there to see." 快三微信群吧 Though the country in general chose to go to the dogs, Reuben had the consolation of seeing a Conservative returned for Rye. He put this down largely to his own exertions, and came home in high good humour from the declaration of the Poll. Mr. Courthope, the successful candidate, had shaken him by the hand, and so had his agent and one or two prominent members of the Club. They had congratulated him on his wonderful energy, and wished him many more years of usefulness to the Conservative cause. He might live to see a wheat-tax yet.He sat down by the window, and leaning his elbow on the sill, looked out. It was still windy, and the sky was shredded over with cloud, lit by the paleness of a hidden[Pg 21] moon. In the kitchen, two flights below, a fiddle sounded. It was Harry playing to his parents as he always played in the evening, while they sat on either side of the fire, nodding, smiling, half-asleep. Clods! Cowards! A sudden rage kindled in his heart against those three, his father, his mother, and beautiful Harry, who cared nothing about that for which he had suffered all things."Soles, plaice, and dabs,So much of his life had been bound up with the Fair[Pg 461] that somehow a part of him seemed to be jigging at it still, down in the Rother field. It was at the Fair that he had first resolved to conquer Boarzell, and he saw himself rushing with the crowd to Totease, scuffling round the barns while the big flames shot out ... and later he saw himself dancing with Naomi to Harry's fiddle. What had Harry played?—a strange tune, "The Song of Seth's Home"—one never heard it now, but he could remember fragments of it.... "Nonsense! What's more natural that one of my servants should come with me, since my husband can't?"She felt horribly, uselessly tired, her gay spirits had trickled from her in sheer physical discomfort, and in her heart an insistent question writhed like a little flame."I thought you'd forgotten all about me, certainly." "But in time the whole Moor will fall into his hands—see if it doesn't. And he's a Tory, a reactionary. It would be a dreadful thing for the parish if he became a big landowner.""Wot's worth while?" "I'd like one if you could really do it to look natural.""Hullo, Ben," she said nervously—it was one of her nervous days. 快三微信群吧 So Robert put on his Sunday coat as usual and tramped away to the village. The only drawback was that from the high wheatfield Reuben distinctly saw him go."How d'you mean?""You ought to care, surelye!" He did not answer, but stood there imperturbable, till Harry, having successfully finished "Nice Young Maidens," started "The Woodpecker Tapping" without any ado."Yes. You've allus treated me lik a dog, and laughed at my writing and all I wanted to do. Then chaps came along as didn't laugh, and promised me all sorts o' things if I'd write fur them.""You always wur queer about Boarzell. But your f?ather 'ud turn in his grave to think of you sending off Blackman." She wished, with all the wormwood that lies in useless regrets, that she had never married. Then, paradoxically, she would not have been so utterly alone. She would have had at least the help of sweet memories undefiled. She could have taken refuge in them from her sorrow, built them perhaps at last into hope. Now she had to thrust them from her, for they were one and all soiled by her unfaithfulness. He sat on a stool at the foot of Brindle's stall, and watched her as she lay there, slobbering her straw. His face was grim and furrowed, lines scored it from nose to mouth and across the forehead; his hair was damp and rough on his temples, his eyes were dull with sleeplessness. 快三微信群吧 Salvation! Salvation full and free!"Reuben never lost a chance of baiting him, he jibed at his squeamishness and fine manners, at his polite way of eating and the trouble he took to clean his nails; he despised him all the more for occasionally getting the better of him, verbally at any rate, in these encounters. One night at supper Reuben, having actually succeeded in finding this sneering son at fault, abused him roundly for the shocking condition of the ewes' fleeces. Richard[Pg 228] had the bad sense to quote Shakespeare, whereat Reuben told him that if he could not speak English he could leave the room. Richard replied that he would be very pleased to do so, as certain people's table-manners made supper rather an ordeal. Reuben helped him out with a kick most vulgarly placed."His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.Directly he had said the words, he looked over at Rose to see how she would receive them. Her eyelashes lay black and curly against her cheek, then they lifted slowly, and her eyes looked out from under the half-raised lids with a kind of demure roguishness. At the same time her lower lip seemed to quiver and plump out, while the corners of her mouth rose and curled. He suddenly felt a desire to plant a kiss fairly on that wet red mouth, which from away across the room seemed to pout towards him. "I hate these romantic realists—they're worse than the old-fashioned Zola sort.""He d?an't seem to care for nobody—never gives you the good marnun."A little hope sustained him till the Inspector's visit—the vet. might have been mistaken, the Inspector might not order a wholesale destruction. But these faint sparks were soon extinguished. The loathed epidemic had undoubtedly lifted up its head at Odiam, and Reuben's entire herd of Jersey, Welsh, and Sussex cattle was doomed to slaughter.