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      Farewell to Moll, farewell to Sue!"The two women had been bathing. It was one of Rose's complaints that Odiam did not make enough provision for personal cleanliness in the way of baths and tubs. Reuben objected if she made the servant run up and downstairs ten times or so with jugs of hot water to fill a wash-tub in her bedroomthey had once had a battle royal about it, during which Rose had said some humorous things about her man's washingso in summer she relieved the tension by bathing in the Glotten brook, where it ran temporarily limpid and reclused at the foot of the old hop-garden. She had persuaded Caro to join her in this adventureaccording to her ideas it was not becoming for a woman to bathe alone; so Caro had conquered her objections to undressing behind a bush, and tasted for the first time the luxury of a daily, or all but daily, bath.

      Then suddenly her laughter died; her expression became fixed, and she swayed a little in Joe's arms, as[Pg 354] she stared into the crowd of spectators. They were on the outskirts of the dancers, and quite close to them stood Pete. He had come out of the fighting-booth, still in his bruiser's dressing-gown, evidently to watch the fun. He was looking straight at Caro as she danced dishevelled, and both he and Dansay knew that he had recognised her. They saw his lips tighten, and an angry look came on his face which his profession had not made more benevolent than Nature intended."Well, say ityou w?an't be far wrong. Wot sort o' chap am I to have pride? My farm's ruined, my wife's run away, my children have left mewot right have I to be proud?"

      And turn to your true loveand find it too late."When night came, and father John did not return, the feeling became general that, disgusted with the spectacle of the morning, he had abandoned the cause; and it became apparent, even to Tyler himself, that some decisive step must at once be taken, before those whom the monk's eloquence had aroused and united, and his promises inspired with a confidence of success, should, deprived of his guidance, return home in despair.

      "Stephen Holgrave," said De Boteler, as the former approached, "I have sent for you, to certify, in this presence, that I restore to you the land you were once possessed of, with its stock and crops; and whatever you may need besides shall be given you from the stores of the castle:it is only giving you back your own, Stephen. But it is his grace's pleasure, that now, as your late offences are forgiven, you make a full disclosure of whatever you know respecting my stolen child."

      Oh that his brother had died!He stood staring at the grass with its dribbles of[Pg 39] lavant and spines of rushes. The wind brought the sound of someone singing. At first he scarcely noticed, then gradually the song worked in with his daydream, and ended by rousing him out of it. He strolled across his domain, and marked half a dozen sturdy willows which must come out somehow roots and all. He climbed into the bracken zone, and from thence saw Harry sitting by a gorse thicket some hundred yards off with Naomi Gasson.


      Immense barrels of tar had been loaded on four waggons, to which four of the most prosperous farmers of the district had harnessed teams. Odiam was of course not represented, nor was Grandturzel, but three bell-ringing sorrels had come all the way from Kitchenhour, while the marsh farms of Leasan, the Loose, and Becket's House, accounted for the rest.


      The young Backfields were beginning to grow into individualities. Albert, the eldest, was eight, and showed certain tokens of a wilful nature, which had not much chance where his father was concerned. Strange fits of dreaminess alternated with vigorous fits of passion. He was a difficult child to manage, for in addition to his own moods he had a certain corrupting influence over his more docile brothers. Reuben already kept him at work most of the dayeither at the village school, or scaring birds from the orchard or the grain fields.


      "Oh, w?an't I!" and Reuben showed his strong white teeth.