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      But this isolation did not trouble Reuben much. He had lost mankind, but he had found the earth. The comfort that had sustained him after the loss of David and William, was his now in double measure. The earth, for which he had sacrificed all, was enough for him now that all else was gone. He was too old to work, except for a snip or a dig here and there, but he never failed to direct and supervise the work of the others. Every morning he made his rounds on horsebackit delighted him to think that they were too long to make on foot. He rode from outpost to outpost, through the lush meadows and the hop-gardens of Totease, across the lane to the wheatlands of Odiam, and then over Boarzell with its cornfields and wide pastures to Grandturzel, where the orchards were now bringing in a yearly profit of fifteen pounds an acre. All that vast domain, a morning's ride, was hiswon by his own ambition, energy, endurance, and sacrifice."On account of the uncertainty of dead-reckoning, the captain doesn't rely on it except when the fog is so thick that he can't get an observation."

      The galleyman, for the first time, fixed his eyes upon Margaret, who was sitting, nursing her little charge within the recess of the chimney. She had latterly been accustomed to unkind language from her husband; but the bitterness with which he had now alluded to her before a stranger, brightened the delicacy of her complexion with a passing glow, and caused a sudden tear to tremble in her eye.

      Mr Silverdale got up off the hearthrug where he had been sitting nursing his knees with miraculous celerity. She behind her hidden eyes heard{208} him and knew, she felt she knew, that in another moment would come the touch of his hands on hers as he took them, and bade her look at him. Perhaps he would say, Look at me, my darling; perhaps his delicious joking ways would even at this sublimest of moments still assert themselves and he would say Peep-o! But whatever he did would be delicious, would be perfect. But no touch came on her hands, and there was a long, an awful moment of dead silence, while behind poor Alices hands the dazzle died out of her vision. Before it was broken, she perceived that beyond a shadow of doubt he did not mean her, and both were tongue-tied, he in the shame of having provoked a passion he had no use for, she in the shame of having revealed the passion he had not invited. She had come to the wrong house: she was an unbidden guest who must be directed outside the front-door again.

      "But does my lord remember the last time I was there? He didn't want me thenhe told me he shouldn't be counselled by such as I. There is no rent due, and I have done no wrongand there can be no business for me at the castle."

      "The knaves have been merry on their march," replied Oxford. "Does your grace see the bonfires they have lit yonder?" and he pointed towards the north."Good-bye, Doctor Bronson; good-bye, Mr. Fred. Bon voyage!"

      "Holgrave," resumed the steward, with an incredulous smile, "has no intention of shortening his life:" and then he strove, with all his eloquence, to persuade her it was a mere feint.

      "Yes. Something that interested us yesterday when we saw it."


      From the mere habit of pawing, he laid his hand on hers.But she went up to her bed in a far better temper than she would otherwise have done, and quite abandoned any idea of lying awake to punish him for his previous brutality.


      How one frightens oneself for no reason, she said. I declare when the Princess came up the steps, I was ready to run away. But it all passed in a moment, and by the time I had said, Your favourite flowers, maam,did I tell you I said, Your favourite flowers, maam? and she gave me such a sweet smile, I felt as if I had known her for years. There are some sorts of people with whom I feel at home at once, and that was how I felt this morning. It must be very pleasant always to go about such people, and I declare I quite envied her lady-in-waiting, though if I was she I should certainly have something done to my teeth. I must run round and see Mamma this afternoon, and I should not wonder if I paid a few calls as well, for I am sure everybody will be pining to know what the Princess said all the time we were having a talk together over our coffee. I must try to recollect every word of that, though{251} I am sure I shall find difficulty in doing so, for we chattered away as if we had known each other all our lives.The men scurried in all directions obeying his orders. Soon terrified horses were being led blindfold into the home meadow; the cows and bullocks, less imaginative, followed more quietly. Meantime buckets were passed up from the pond to the stacks that were not alight; but before this work was begun Reuben went up to the furthest stack and thrust his hand into itthen he put in his head and sniffed. Then he called Realf.


      "Why we are thus up in arms?" said Leicester, without circumlocution, as the herald proclaimed the king's interrogatory,"why, because those who should command are thought nothing of, and those who do command ought to have their heads struck off.""Reckon I do!" cried Reuben genially, warmed by various liquors"naun shall say I d?an't know a fine woman when I see one. And I reckon as me and my darter-in-law are out after the s?um thingand that's the beating of Nature, wot you seem to set such a store by, Richard."