"Reckon he is—he saw how we envied Richard.""Money fur us all. The Squire ?un't no Tory grabber.""Back! Back with f?ather! Not me! Now let's hear some more about him—does he ever speak to you of your mother?""Good!—when I've two hundred acres sown with grain!" pk10赚钱方法 "Oh, will you?—Then I'll love you!" Rose could not read his mood; one day she would feel her husband had been alienated from her by his sorrow, another that his need of her was greater than ever. She herself carried a heavy heart, and in her mind a picture of the man who was "only looking in at the window." She seemed to see him standing there, with the moon[Pg 300] rising over his shoulder, while from behind him something in the garden, in the night, called ... and called.In those days she could not bear the sound of Harry's fiddle, and he was told he must not play it in the house.There was naturally a party who championed Manor rights—Sir John Bardon was a good landlord, and would have been better had his budget cramped him less. Now he would sell Boarzell in building plots, and his tenants would reap the benefit. He had not inclosed the land for himself. More houses would mean more trade for shops and farms, Peasmarsh might flower into a country town.... However, Reuben's whole manner had changed. His attitude towards George Fleet became positively cordial. He took him into the kitchen, and made Maude give him some tea. He himself paced nervously up and down, a queer look of exaltation sometimes passing over his face. One would never have taken him for the same man as the old fellow who an hour ago had huddled weak and almost senile in his chair, broken under his life's last tragedy. He felt young, strong, energetic, a soldier again."I hear you had some sleep this afternoon."In October a steam-thresher came to Odiam. The wheat had been bad, but there was still plenty of grain to thresh, and for a whole day the machine sobbed and sang under the farmhouse walls—"Urrr-um—Urrr-um—Urrr-um."Then came an evening in April, when the air smelled of primroses and young leaves. The choir practice was early, and rifts of sunshine sloped up the clerk's kitchen, linking in one golden slant Robert's dark healthy face just under the ceiling, Bessie's shoulders pressed against his arm, the frail old hands of Joe Hearsfield on his flute, and the warm plum-brown of the bass viol close to the floor. To Robert it was all a dream of holiness and harmony. Old Spodgram confined himself almost entirely to two notes, Miss Hubble insisted on her four bars of arrears, young Ditch extemporised an alto of surprising reediness, and Robert bellowed the last lines of the last verse just as the other choristers were loudly taking in breath preparatory to line three—but the whole thing was to him a foretaste of Paradise and the angels singing ever world without end.A long shudder of disgust went over Reuben's flesh. He was utterly shocked by what he saw. That such things could go on in his house struck him with horror, tinctured by shame. He went out, shutting the door noisily behind him—the softer feelings had gone; instead he felt bitterly and furiously humiliated. He would have been exceedingly indignant if in bygone days anyone had ever hinted that he did not[Pg 389] love the sons and daughters whom he had beaten, kicked out of doors, frustrated, suppressed, or driven to calamity. All the same, he acknowledged that there was a difference between his feelings towards Rose's children and Naomi's. Though Naomi was the wife more pleasant to remember, Rose's were the children he loved best. They had not grown up in the least like her, and he was glad of that, for he would have hated to confront again her careless, lovely face, or the provoking little teeth of her smile; they were Backfields, dark of hair and swarthy of skin, David with grey eyes, William with brown.He needed every penny and every minute more desperately than ever, for Grandturzel ran Odiam closer and closer in the race. Realf now plainly saw how matters stood. As yet there was no open breach between him and Reuben—when one of them came into the public-house the other always waited a decent interval before clearing out—but if there was no open breach, there was open rivalry. All the neighbourhood knew of it, and many a bet was made.Chapter 22"Why, you kid, it's as plain as the nose on your face—look at her paint." pk10赚钱方法 "Well, first of all, we must save all the money we can, and not go drinking chocolate and French wine, and eating sweet puddens and all such dentical stuff. And then, Harry and me, we're valiant chaps, and there never wur enough work for us to do. I'm going to send Blackman away—Harry and I can do quite easily wudout him and save his wages."The other children were in the kitchen. They had seen their dead brother from the window, and stood mute and tearless as he was carried into the room. Reuben gave orders for him to be taken upstairs and the doctor to be sent for. No one else spoke. Tilly's breast heaved stormily, and he did not like the dull blaze in her eyes. Strange to say, of his whole family, excepting Pete, she was the only one of whom he was not faintly contemptuous. She had spirit, that girl—he prophesied that she would turn out a shrew.Chink! chink! chink! the bridle went, "There's no one round here as can lend us wot we need—it's—it's a good deal as we'll want to see us through."Through the long night they wrestled with him, blind and raving. At first it seemed as if Naomi's presence soothed him, and he would let her stroke his arms and hands. But after a time he ceased to [Pg 49]recognise her. He gabbled about her a good deal, but did not know she was there. His delirium was full of strange tags—a chicken brood he was raising, a sick cow, a jaunt into Rye with Realf of Grandturzel, a dozen harmless homely things which were all transfused with an alien horror, all somehow made frightful, so that Reuben felt he could never look on chickens, cows or Rye again without a shudder.Reuben pulled up his chair to the table. His father sat at one end, and at the other sat Mrs. Backfield; Harry was opposite Reuben. "Good-bye. Say it to the others for me."He dragged the last word a little slowly, and there was the faintest hint of a catch in his voice. Rose's sobs burst forth afresh. Her friend ran up to her and took her in her arms, badly squeezing poor David, who became purple and entirely animal in his remonstrances.He was too flabbergasted to be angry. The question had simply never come into his experience. Many a man had said, "Do you think you'll do it?" but no one had ever said, "Do you think it's worth while?"It was soon found that he hindered rather than helped the work, so Reuben had to cast about for fresh plans. He felt utterly ruthless now, and was resolved to make his daughters manage the house alone. He redistributed the labour, and by handing over the poultry, calves, and pigs to Beatup, and taking some of his work upon his own shoulders, made it physically possible for Caro and Tilly to run the house and dairy with the feeble help of old Mrs. Backfield. He told them that he could not afford to engage a woman, and that they must do without her—making no appeal to their interest or ambition as he might have done six months ago."No, we must stick together.""I'll go up and see her soon as I've finished—Harry, t?ake your hand out of the baby's pl?ate." pk10赚钱方法 "You wait till I git you, that's all," and Reuben ran at Pete."You know I don't want to meet your father—and I'm sure he'll disgrace us."She left Caro with a restless aching in her heart. In spite of the lost front tooth and the faded hair, she had impressed her in much the same way as Rose on her wedding night. Here was another woman sure of love looking confidently into a happy future, wooed and sought after, a man's bride.... Jolting home in the empty vegetable cart beside Peter, one or two tears found their way down Caro's cheek. Oh, if only some man, no matter whom, tyrant, criminal, no matter what, would love her, give her for one moment those divine sensations which she had seen other women enjoy! Why must she alone, of all the women she knew, be loveless?He had now spent the whole of Naomi's dowry, and knew that he was not likely to get anything more out of old Gasson, whose housekeeper had during the last year smartly married him. However, he felt that the money had been laid out to the very best advantage, for Odiam was paying its way, and had, besides, of late become the most important farm in the neighbourhood except Grandturzel. Reuben watched Grandturzel jealously, though he was careful to hide his feelings. It had the advantage of forty acres of Boarzell, granted by the commissioners. Luckily old Realf was not very enterprising. Suddenly the baby stiffened on her lap. The limbs became rigid, the face black. Then something rasped in its throat."Wot if I tell f?ather?""—?un't driving me, anyhow. I'm fighting it."