Tilly was now nearly eighteen. She had always been like her mother, but as she grew older the likeness became more and more pronounced, till sometimes it seemed to Reuben as if it were Naomi herself with her milky skin and fleeting rose-bloom who sat at his table and moved about his house. The only difference lay in a certain prominence of the chin which gave her an air of decision that Naomi had lacked. Not that Tilly was ever anything but docile, but occasionally Reuben felt that some time or other she might take her stand—a fear which had never troubled him with Naomi. 陆陆 Rose was definitely frightened, and broke free with some violence. So he came, dressed in his best, as usual, with corduroy breeches, leggings, wide soft hat, and the flowered waistcoat and tail-coat he had refused to discard. He was no longer the centre of a group of farmers discussing crops and weather and the latest improvements in machinery—he stood and walked alone, inspecting the booths and side-shows with a contemptuous eye, while the crowd stared at him furtively and whispered when he passed ... "There he goes" ... "old Ben Backfield up at Odiam." Reuben wondered if this was fame.
的车 Reuben himself believed in the fit, and a real anxiety tortured him as he thrust his lantern into the gaping caverns of bushes. He had by his thoughtless and excessive zeal allowed Boarzell to rob him of another man. Of course, it did not follow that George was dead,[Pg 223] but unless they found him soon it was quite likely that he would not survive exposure on such a night. If so, Reuben had only himself to thank for it. He should have listened to his daughter, and either let George off his work or made him work near home. He did not pretend to himself that he loved this weakling son, or that his death would cause his fatherhood much grief, but he found himself with increasing definiteness brought up against the conviction that Boarzell was beating him, wringing its own out of him by slow, inexorable means, paying him back a hundredfold for every acre he took or furrow he planted. "'The blackbird flew out from the eaves of the Manor, E'en when by Law imposed on evil slight!
咻的 That night he thought it out. The young man turned from him, half-dazed. Dying! Naomi! A sudden wild pang smote through his heart for the mother of his children. "I tell you I'm never going to work fur you ag?un. I'm going forth to spread the Word. Salvation's got me."
Except for a steady maintenance of prosperity by dint of hard work, the year was uneventful. Autumn passed, and nothing broke the strenuous monotony of the days, not even news of the absent children. Then came an evening in winter when Reuben, Pete, and Harry were sitting in front of the kitchen fire. Reuben and his son were half asleep, Harry was mumbling to himself and playing with a piece of string. 准备 "Do you think it's worth while?" They did not murmur, for they had known no different life. They had never, like other girls, wandered with bevies of young people through the lanes at dusk, or felt in the twilight a man's hand grope for theirs. They had not had suitors to visit them on Sundays, to sit very stiff and straight in the parlour, and pass decorous remarks about the weather all the while their eyes were eating up a little figure from toe to hair.”
He gave up going to the Cocks. It had fallen off terribly those last five years, he told Maude the dairy-woman, his only confidant nowadays. The beer had deteriorated, and there was a girl behind the counter all painted and curled like a Jezebubble, and rolling her eyes at you like this.... If any woman thought a man of his experience was to be caught, she was unaccountable mistaken (this doubtless for Maude's benefit, that she might build no false hopes on the invitation to bring her sewing into the kitchen of an evening). Then the fellows in the bar never talked about stocks and crops and such like, but about race-horses and football and tomfooleries of that sort, wot had all come in through the poor being educated and put above themselves. Moreover, there was a gramophone playing trash like "I wouldn't leave my little wooden hut for you"—and the tale of Reuben's grievances ended in expectoration. 要马 In time, as these battles became more usual, the family were forced to take sides. Peter supported Reuben, Caro supported Rose. There had been an odd kind of friendship between the downtrodden daughter and the gay wife ever since they had unpacked the latter's trunks together on her wedding night and Caro had cried because Rose had what she might never have. Naomi helped her with the nursing, and also a little about the house. She had refused to go home to Rye, though Harry did not seem to recognise her.”