He had trouble, too, with his new grass. One of his Jersey cows suddenly died, and it turned out that it[Pg 94] had eaten some poisonous plant which had insinuated itself into the pasture. It was as if Boarzell fought treacherously—with stabbings in the dark as well as blastings in the open. The night the Jersey died, Reuben sat with his head buried in his arms on the kitchen table, while Naomi carried her Miss Fanny about the room, and told her about the beautiful silk gowns she would wear when she grew up.The saddler at Rye had not heard of the theft when young Backfield handed over the note in payment of the harness bill. He had at the time remarked to his wife[Pg 170] that old Ben seemed pretty flush with his money, but had thought no more of it till the matter was cried by the Town Crier that evening, after Robert and Pete had gone home. Then out of mere curiosity he had looked at the number on his note, and found it was the same as the Crier had announced. Early the next day he went to the Police Station, and as young Bardon now remembered lending his coat to Robert Backfield it was fairly easy to guess how the theft had been committed.Reuben shook his head."I beg your pardon!"—Anne's chin came forward so like Richard's that one might gather he had borrowed the trick from her. 幸运28人工计划群 "Where?"Harry sprang to his feet, but his mother laid her hand on his arm."He's safe enough now—we may as well go and have a look round." Robert, after some considering, decided to go with Bessie to Wadhurst, and ask the clergyman there exactly what they ought to do. He could easily find a room for her where she could stay till the law had been complied with. They would travel by the new railway. It would be rather alarming, but Jenny Vennal had once been to Brighton by train and said that the only thing against it was the dirt.Perhaps your cold heart will remember Seth's Manor,"Thank heaven I saved them rootses!" he muttered as he walked. "Oh, here it is! what do you think of it?" The baby was a girl, and Reuben was bitterly disappointed. One girl was quite enough, and he badly wanted more boys. Besides, Naomi was very ill, and the doctor told him in private that she ought not to have any more children, at least for some time.He came a few steps back into the room...."I've some bad news for you." 幸运28人工计划群 Chapter 15 In February her child was born—another girl. But this time Reuben was not sorry, for he realised that his mother would not last for ever, and that he must have a girl to take her place. It might have been expected that a baby girl would comfort Naomi for the lost Fanny, but such was not the case. It seemed as if with Fanny she had lost all power of loving and of rising again. Once more she was unable to feed the child, and her convalescence was dragging and miserable. When at last she was able to go about, a permanent ill-health seemed to have settled on her, the kind that rides tired women, making their faces sallow, their hair scanty, filling their backs with strange pains. She grew fretful, too, and her temper was none of the best.To stop the public, tax them, circumvent,"Of course, being a prostitute, she'd be closer to Nature than a respectable person." He found his daughter in a chair by the window. Her face was puffed and blotched with tears, and her legs would hardly support her when she stood up. She had brought her youngest son with her, a fine sturdy little fellow of fourteen. When Reuben came into the room she gave the boy a glance, and, as at a preconcerted signal, they both fell on their knees.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.Though Reuben's corn had not done much for him materially, it had far-reaching consequences of another kind. It immensely increased his status in the county. Odiam had more land under grain cultivation than any farm east of Lewes, and the local Tories saw in [Pg 434]Backfield a likely advocate of Tariff Reform. He was approached by the Rye Conservative Club, and invited to speak at one or two of their meetings. He turned out to be, as they had expected, an ardent champion of the new idea. "It wur wot he had worked and hoped and prayed fur all his life—to git back them Corn Laws." He was requested not to put the subject quite so bluntly. "Ugh!" said Rose—"no fire!"Reuben was paralysed with horror. In another minute they would break down his hedge—a good young hedge that had cost him a pretty penny—and be all over his roots. For a moment he stood as if fixed to the spot, then suddenly he pulled himself together. At all costs he must save his roots. He could not tackle the women single-handed, so he must go for the madman. 幸运28人工计划群 So kiss us long, and kiss us well,Supper was a quiet meal. Old Jury and his invalid wife sat at each end of the table, while Alice did most of the helping and waiting. They seemed a sorry three to Reuben, pale, washed out, and weakly, their eyes bright as birds' with the factitious light of their enthusiasms for things that did not matter. They ate without much appetite, picking daintily at their food, their knives never in their mouths. Reuben found himself despising them as he despised the Bardons.He liked her room, for she had a dozen things he could finger and play with—little vases with flowers modelled over them, woolly mats, a velvet pincushion, and other survivals of her married life, all very dusty and faded now. Soon she began to find a strange comfort in having him there; the uneasiness and vague repulsion with which he had filled her, died down, and she began to see in him something of the old Harry whom she had loved so much better than Reuben in days gone by.The young man turned from him, half-dazed. Dying! Naomi! A sudden wild pang smote through his heart for the mother of his children. That autumn he had sown his oats. He sowed English Berlie, after wavering for some time between that and Barbachlaw. Quantities of rape cake had been delivered in the furrows with the seed, and now the fields lay, to the eye, wet and naked—to the soul, to Reuben's farmer-soul, full of the hidden promise which should sprout with May.Chapter 3There was silence. Outside the flowers rustled in the slow hot breeze. The background of trees was growing dim, a web of shadow at the foot of the garden.Now, when she heard of his catastrophe, she wondered if he would come back. Did men come back?—and if they did, was she the type of woman they came back to? Perhaps she was too quick, too antagonistic. She told herself miserably that a softer woman could have saved Reuben, and yet, paradoxically, a softer woman would not have wished to do so.