But the Anti-Inclosure party was the strongest鈥攊t swept along the others as it roared down to Socknersh, brandishing sticks and stones and bottles that had all[Pg 8] appeared suddenly out of nowhere, shouting and stumbling and rolling and thumping.... Reuben was carried with it, conscious of very little save the smell of unwashed bodies and the bursting rage in his heart."The old man 'ull take on no end鈥攚ot with his corn-growing plans and that."
He had used to turn from Boarzell to her for rest, and now he found himself turning from her to Boarzell. It was part of the baffling paradox that the thing he fought should also be the thing he loved, and the battlefield his refuge. Out on the Moor, with the south-west wind rolling over him like the waves of some huge earth-scented sea, he drank in the spirit of conflict, he was swept back into the cleanness and singleness of his warfare. It was then that Boarzell nerved him for its own subduing, stripped his heart of softness, cleansed it of domestic fret. Rose and her love and sweetness were all very well, but he was out for something greater than Rose鈥攈e must keep in mind that she was only a part of things. Why, he himself was only a part of things, and in his cravings and softenings must be conquered and brushed aside even as Rose. In challenging Boarzell he had challenged the secret forces of his own body, all the riot of hope and weakness and desire that go to make a man. The battle was not to be won except over the heaped bodies of the slain, and on the summit of the heap would lie his own.Rose herself did not much care how her money was spent as long as she had the things she wanted. First of these at present was Reuben's love, and that she had in plenty. She was a perpetual source of delight to him; her beauty, her astounding mixture of fire and innocence, her good humour, and her gaiety were even more intoxicating than before marriage. He felt that he had[Pg 263] found the ideal wife. As a woman she was perfect, so perfect that in her arms he could forget her short comings as a comrade. After all, what did it matter if she failed to plumb the depths of his desire for things outside herself, as long as she herself was an undying source of enchantment?鈥攕moothing away the wrinkles of his day with her caresses, giving him love where she could not give him understanding, her heart where she could not give her brain. During the hours of work and fret he would long for her, for the quiet warm evenings, and the comfort which the wordless contact of her brought. She made him forget his heaviness, and gather strength to meet his difficulties, giving him draughts of refreshment for to-morrow's journey in the desert.
Their meetings were secret, from her family as well as his. But they were dignified鈥攖here was no scurrying like rabbits. Richard's work kept him mostly on the Flightshot borders of Odiam, and often the grave Anne would walk down to the hedge, and help him construe Tacitus or parse from Ovid. There was an old tree by the boundary fence, in the hollow of which she put new books for him to find, and into which he would return those he had finished. She was very careful to maintain[Pg 140] the right attitude towards him; he was always her humble servant, he never forgot to call her "ma'am.""Till we're absolutely desperate.""And will you do that alone?"
She lay propped high on the pillows, and he was astonished to see how well she looked, much better than before the baby was born. The infant George lay like a rather ugly doll on his grandmother's lap. He was not so healthy as the other children, indeed for a time it had been doubtful whether he would live.But before they had time to answer, something burst from between the stalls and ran down the darkling slope, brandishing a knife. It was Mexico Bill, running amok, as he had sometimes run before, but on less crowded occasions. The women sent up an ear-splitting yell, and made a fresh onslaught on the hedge. Someone grabbed the half-breed from behind, but his knife flashed, and the next moment he was free, dashing through the gorse towards his victims.
"And yit he's as proud as the Old Un himself. I met him on Thursday, and I told him how unaccountable sorry we all wur fur him, and he jest spat."
"Git out of this!" he shouted. "I w?an't stand here and listen to you miscalling the farm wot's bred you and fed you over thirty year. Git out, and never think you'll come back again. I'm shut of you. I d?an't want no more of you鈥擨'm out of the wood now, I've got all the work out of you I've needed, so you can go, and spread your hemmed Word, and be hemmed. I'm shut of you."
The figure did not move. Reuben took a step towards it, and then it tottered forward, and to his horror fell against him, almost bearing him to the floor."Naun particular. Robert he wur good and plodding-like, but you couldn't trust his stacking, and he'd be all nohow wud the horses鈥攁nd Albert he'd shirk everything wotsumdever, he'd go off into dreams in the middle of killing a pig鈥攕urelye!"
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He sprang to his feet and began pacing up and down the room. The window square was black. He was glad he could not see Boarzell with its knob of firs. Gradually the motion of his legs calmed his thoughts, he fell to pondering more ordinary things鈥攈ad his mother remembered to stand the evening's milk in the cream pans? She had probably forgotten all about the curate's butter to be delivered the next morning. What had Harry done about those mangolds at Moor's Cottage? Durn it! He would have to do all the work of the farm to-morrow鈥攈ow he was to manage things he didn't know, what with the dairy and the new chicks and the Alderney having garget. He stopped pacing, and chin in hand was considering the expediency of[Pg 48] engaging outside help, when a voice from the bed cried feebly:She was generally able to control these impulses, but as the days slipped by they grew too strong for her untrained resistance. She felt that she must make the most of her chances because they were so limited鈥攂efore he went for ever she must have one more memory of his voice, his look鈥攈is touch ... oh, no! her thoughts had carried her further than she had intended.
It was as if someone had suddenly laid a cold hand on Robert's heart. He guessed that his father suspected him. His ears turned crimson, and his hands trembled and fumbled as he opened the back of the cart and took out his string of properly skinned and gutted conies.But it was for other reasons that Reuben most wished that Harry would die. Harry was a false note, a discord in his now harmonious scheme. He was a continual reminder of the power of Boarzell, and would occasionally sweep Reuben's thoughts away from those fat corn-fields licking at the crest to that earliest little patch down by Totease, where the Moor had drunk up its first blood. He called himself a fool, but he could not help seeing something sinister and fateful in Harry, scraping tunelessly at his fiddle, or repeating over and over again some wandering echo from the outside world which had managed to reach his dungeoned brain. Reuben wished he would die, and so did the farm-boy who slept with him, and the dairy-woman who fed him at meals.详情
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