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    Software name: appdown
    Software type: Microsoft Framwork

    size: 939MB


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      "Pete!" he cried chokingly"I won't die!I won't die!"One evening he came home particularly depressed. He had just finished the most degrading transaction of his lifethe raising of a mortgage on the Flightshot side of his land. It was horrible, but it was unavoidable. He could not now sell his milk-round, and yet he absolutely must have ready money if he was to stand up against circumstances. The mortgagee was a wealthy Rye butcher, and Reuben had hopes that the disgraceful affair might be kept secret, but also an uneasy suspicion that it was at that moment being discussed in every public-house.

      As for Caro, life was a rainbow dream. The hardships of the day were gladly lived through in expectation of the joys of the evening. She felt very few qualms of conscience, even when the barrier was past which she had thought impassable. Somehow love seemed to alter her whole point of view, or rather stripped her of one altogetherafter all, her point of view had never been more than the acceptance of other people's. Besides, there were things in love that she had never guessed; nobody had ever done anything to make her realise that there was beauty in itRose's flirtations, her father's jealous passion had never suggested such a thing. But now her life was brimmed with beauty, unimaginable beauty that welled up into the commonest things and suffused them with light. Also, about it all was that surprising sense of naturalness; which almost always comes to women when they love for the first time, the feeling of "For this I was born."Mrs. Backfield according to her custom watched the sun. It bathed the floor at first, but gradually she saw the square of the window paint itself on the wall, and then slide slowly up towards the ceiling. Her eyes mechanically followed it; then suddenly it blazed, filmed, flowed out into a wide spread of light, in the midst of which she saw the kitchen at Odiam as it used[Pg 202] to be, with painted fans on the chimney-piece and pots of flowers on the window-sill. Her husband sat by the fire, smoking his pipe, while Harry was helping her tidy her workbasket.

      But Mary was not to be intimidated, and Sir Robert, perceiving he could gain nothing from her in this way, arose, and approaching the baroness, who had been looking on with much interest, said, softly, "My Lady de Boteler, I wish to put a question or two to this woman, but as what I shall ask must be distressing to you, perhaps you had better retire."

      With a little more persuasion and the most solemn assurances that the verdict could not possibly affect Edith, the galleyman at length reluctantly consented to agree with the eleven, and the foreman gave in the verdict of guilty.

      "Then there would be no more friendship between us. What unites us is the fact that we are fighting each other."Caro shrank from the jibe as if from a blow, and Reuben laughed brutally. He had made one woman suffer anyway.

      When the struggle on the lower slopes of Boarzell between the damp earth and the determined man had ended in the earth's sludgy victory and a pile of rotten straw which should have been the glory of the manthen Reuben had time to think of what was going on in the house. He sent for the doctornot Dr. Espinette, but a Cockney successor who boiled his instruments and washed his hands in carbolicand heard from him that Mrs. Backfield's existence was no longer justified. She could not expect to work again.

      No sound escaped them, and it was only the quick footsteps on the pavement that attracted attention. But ere the alarm was given, the intruders had reached the keep. The smith, with astonishing celerity, picked the huge lock of the lower dungeon, in which, by virtue of former experience, he imagined the father was confined; and beheld, by a torch, which they had now lighted, what fired even the most sluggish soul among them. The monk lay stretched on the ground, nearly divested of covering, with his arms and legs drawn by cords attached to iron rings in the four corners of the cell, and with iron weights pressing upon his chest.


      Albert was buried with all the decent rites of the[Pg 377] Establishment. He was laid to rest in the Christian company of his mother and his brother George, at the bottom of the churchyard where it touched the pond; a little way from him was the old yeoman who had "never wanted anything he hadn't got, and so hadn't got anything he didn't want." It relieved Pete a little to think that from where he lay his brother could not see Boarzell"not even if he sat up in his grave."Reuben faced his adversity with set teeth and a dogged countenance. He had not been farming thirty odd years to be beaten casually by the weather. Scorching heat and blighting cold, the still blanker doom of the trickling, pouring rainthe wind that seeded his corn, and beat down his hay, and flung his hop-bines together in muddled heapsthe pests that Nature breeds by the ten million out of her own putrefyings and misbegettingsall things in life from the lowest maggot to the fiercest stormhe was out to fight them. In challenging Boarzell he had challenged them all.


      "Ben, I'm your wife."