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      The floor seemed to rise towards him, and the star in the window to dance down into Castweasel woods and up again."But what has he to do with the Essex men or the bondmen?" asked the galleyman.

      "I reckoned she would," said Reuben.

      De Boteler, not caring to continue so uninteresting a subject, discoursed upon other matters; and the business of the morning having concluded, he retired with his guests from the hall.

      "He's certainly picturesqueand really there's a good deal of truth in what he says about having got the better of Nature. Thirty years ago I'd have sworn he could never have done it. But it's my firm conviction that he hasand made a good job of it too. He's fought like the devil, he's been hard on every man and himself into the bargain, he's worked like a slave, and never given in. The result is that he's done what I'd have thought no man could possibly do. It's really rather splendid of him."She was shocked at his white twitching face and bloodshot eyes; for the first time since she had known him, Reuben came to her bereft of that triumphant manhood which had made him so splendid to watch in his struggles.

      "Down at Totease. He wur the wuss for liquor, I reckon."

      "F?ather ?un't got naunhaven't you heard? He made his claim, and then they asked to see the title-deeds, and it turned out as how he hadn't got no common rights at allleastways so the lawyers said."

      He went straight to find Rose, for that mood was upon him. The due of loneliness which his shame demanded had been paid during the drive home from Rye, and now he quite simply and childishly wanted his wife. She was in the kitchen, stooping over some child's garment, the little frills of which she was pleating in her fingers. She lifted her head with a start as he came in, and he saw that her face was patched with tearstains.


      "I wish I could be like Richard, Bill."


      Reuben prowled up and down the streets of booths, grinned scornfully at the efforts in the shooting gallery, watched a very poor fight in the boxing tent, had a drink of beer and a meat pie, and came to the conclusion that the Fair had gone terribly to pieces since his young days.


      One evening at the beginning of August she wandered out of the kitchen for a breath of fresh air in the garden before going up to bed. Her head ached, and her cheeks burned from the fire. She did not know it, but the flush and fever made her nearly beautiful. She was[Pg 339] not a bad-looking woman, though a trifle too dark and heavy-featured, and now the glow on her cheeks and the restless brilliancy of her eyes had kindled her almost into loveliness."Did not the hue and cry pass through the forest?"