Caro watched the year bud and flower—May came and creamed the hedges with blossom and rusted the grass with the first heats. Then June whitened the fields with big moon-daisies and frothed the banks with chervil and fennel. The evenings were tender, languorous, steeped in the scent of hay. They hurt Caro with their sweetness, so that she scarcely dared lift her eyes to the purpling twilight sky, or breathe the wind that swept up heavy with hay and roses from the fields. July did nothing to heal her—its yellow, heat-throbbing dawns smote her with despair—its noons were a long-drawn ache, and when in the evening hay and dust and drooping chervil troubled the air with shreds and ghosts of scent, something almost akin to madness would twist her heart."I'll write wot I please, surelye," growled Albert, trying rather unsuccessfully to resume his swagger. 彩神幸运飞艇计划 "Yes, m?aster," said Boorman.He finished his supper and went out of the kitchen. Harry and his mother sat for a moment or two in silence."What a dear little creature!""Oh, I could try! Do you want a picture of Boarzell?""Please, m?aster, there's trouble on the farm." Chapter 4Heads were shaken in triumphant commiseration, and the stones which according to all decent tradition should have been flung at Rose, hurtled round her husband instead."The constables from Rye!""More than I could spare." Tilly was now nearly eighteen. She had always been like her mother, but as she grew older the likeness became more and more pronounced, till sometimes it seemed to Reuben as if it were Naomi herself with her milky skin and fleeting rose-bloom who sat at his table and moved about his house. The only difference lay in a certain prominence of the chin which gave her an air of decision that Naomi had lacked. Not that Tilly was ever anything but docile, but occasionally Reuben felt that some time or other she might take her stand—a fear which had never troubled him with Naomi."She wur purty s?afe to say that—for who'd have her back, I'd lik to know? Larmentable creature she always wur, spanneling around lik a mangy cat. Always thin and always miserable—I'm glad to be shut of her. But she seemed cheery when you saw her?""I agree with you there," said Reuben, "it's not wot life gives that's good, it's wot you t?ake out of it.""At last when your pride shall have brought you to sorrow, "It's—it's only poetry, f?ather."Mrs. Backfield lay listening to it. She felt very ill, but everyone was too busy to come to her—Reuben was out in the yard feeding his monster, while the boys gathered up and sacked what it vomited out; Caro and Tilly were washing blankets. Harry had gone off on some trackless errand of his own."Yes—I see him yonder. He doesn't see us, I reckon.""Bessie."A terrific blow from Reuben cut him short. 彩神幸运飞艇计划 At one o'clock he was given some bread and cheese, which he devoured ravenously; then he spent an hour in thinking of the sausages they always had for supper at Odiam on Fridays. At two the constable fetched him to his doom; he was grumbling and muttering to himself, and on arriving at the execution chamber it turned out that he had had words with the Town Crier, because the latter thought he had only six boys to flog, so had put on his coat and was going off to the new sluice at Scott's Float, meaning to get back comfortably in time for an oyster and beer supper at the London Trader. Having seven boys to flog made all the difference—he would be late, both at the sluice and the supper."You see, I d?an't know one tune from another, so I can't do it myself. You might git him to play one or two things over to you, Naomi, and find out what he remembers."The Fair had moved still further with the times. The merry—go-round organ played "Bluebell," "Dolly Grey," and "The Absent-Minded Beggar," the chief target in the shooting-gallery was Kruger, with Cronje and De Wet as subordinates, and the Panorama showed[Pg 429] Queen Victoria's funeral. The fighting booth was hidden away still further, and dancing now only started at nightfall. There were some new shows, too. The old-fashioned thimble-rigging had given place to a modern swindle with tickets and a dial; instead of the bearded woman or the pig-faced boy, one put a penny in the slot and saw a lady undress—to a certain point. There was a nigger in a fur-lined coat lecturing on a patent medicine, while the stalls themselves were of a more utilitarian nature, selling whips and trousers and balls of string, instead of the ribbon and gingerbread fairings bought by lovers in days of old."For sometimes," she said, "I think he does.""You're a queer lad, Reuben—and more masterful than your poor f?ather wur." Oh, Boarzell, Boarzell!... his love, his dream, his promised land, lying there in the cold white hope of morning! No degenerate sons could rob him of his Moor, though they might leave him terribly alone on it. After all, better be alone with his ambition, than share it with their defiling thoughts, their sordid, humdrum, milk-and-water schemes. In future he would try no more to interest his children in Boarzell. He had tried to thrill Robert and Albert and Richard with his glorious enterprise, and they had all forsaken him—one for love, one for fame, and one for some still unknown unworthiness. He would not trouble about the others;[Pg 191] they should serve him for no other reason but that he was a hard master. He had been hard with the three boys, but he had been exciting and confiding too. Now he would drop all that. He would cease to look for comradeship in his children, as years ago he had ceased to look for it in his wife. It would be enough if they were just slaves working under his whip. He had been a fool to expect sympathy.... Boarzell, looming blacker and blacker against the glowing pinks and purples of the sky, seemed to mock at sympathy and its cheap colours, seemed to bid him Be Hard, Be Strong, Be Remorseless—Be Alone.Wander all the proud and dead— Odiam had triumphed at last. Just when Reuben's unsettled allegiance should have been given entirely to the wife who had borne him a son, his farm had suddenly snatched from him all his thought, all his care, his love, and his anxiety, all that should have been hers. It seemed almost as if some malignant spirit had controlled events, and for Rose's stroke prepared a counter-stroke that should effectually drive her off the field. The same evening that Rose had gone weeping and shuddering upstairs, Reuben had interviewed the vet. from Rye and heard him say "excema epizootica." This had not conveyed much, so the vet. had translated brutally:Strength came to her suddenly; it was like awaking from a nightmare. She thrust him from her, slipped past, and ran out of the room."I d?an't never think of them that way. One's no good to me wudout t'other." The Radicals began to quake for their victory. Speakers were sent for from London, but could not even get a hearing, owing to the enemy's supplies of bad eggs. Meetings were everywhere broken up in disorder, and the Captain was reported to have said that the Liberal party ought to offer a knighthood to anyone who would poison Backfield's beer.The member, the colonel of the volunteers, and others present, pointed out to Reuben afterwards that the situation was military, not agricultural; but it was characteristic of him to see all situations from the agricultural point of view. His old ideas of an agricultural combine, which had fallen miserably to pieces in '65, now revived in all their strength. He saw East Sussex as a country of organised corn-growing, Odiam at the head. His rather eclectic newspaper reading had impressed him with the idea that England was on the verge of war with one or two European Powers, notably the French, whose ribald gloatings over British disasters stirred up all the fury of the man who had been born within range of the Napoleonic wars and bred on tales of Boney and his atrocities.Reuben looked a little blank. None of the details of his great desire had hitherto struck him as vulgar.Chapter 5 彩神幸运飞艇计划 "Because I'm going to m?ake it mine.""C?ame here.""Wot d'you want to go buying Boarzell fur?" asked Mrs. Backfield in a bewildered voice; "the farm's pr?aper as it is—we d?an't want it no bigger.""Go away," she said, "we can't let you in."Public opinion was against Backfield, and blamed him surlily for the local inconvenience. "Good afternoon," she replied, putting one hand in his, and withdrawing it almost immediately."I'm out of practice, or I shouldn't have skinned myself like this—ah, here's Coalbran's trap. Perhaps he'll give you a lift, ma'am, into Peasmarsh."