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类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-08-06 17:27:21

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During dinner he had been even more thoughtful than the occasion warranted, leaving his mother and Harry to talk to the company, though he had taken with a certain dignity his place as host and head of the house. Now at supper he was still inclined to silence. A servant girl laid the dishes on the table, then retired. Mrs. Backfield and Harry spoke in low tones to each other.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.

"If I haven't got a right to ask you that, wot have I, I'd lik to know?"

"D?an't go laughing at me, but tell me鈥攚hen?""Then it does us some good after all. A sad state we'd be in if the men always had their own way."

Anne's politics were the most vigorous in the family.

"But he says he doesn't want to be a farmer."

Chapter 11

But it was all hopeless. Most likely in future all that would remain free to him of Boarzell would be this Fair ground, crowded once a year. The rest would be built over鈥攆at shop-keepers would grow fatter鈥攐h, durn it!These tricks were never unkind, for David and William were the most benevolent little boys. They saw life through a golden mist, it smelt of milk and apples, it was full of soft lowings and bleatings and cheepings, of gentle noses to stroke and little downy things to hold. For the first time since it became Reuben's, Odiam made children happy. The farm which had been a galley and a prison to those before them, was an enchanted land of adventure to these two. Old Beatup, who remembered earlier things, would sometimes smile when he saw them trotting hand in hand about the yard, playing long hours in the orchard, and now and then[Pg 385] pleading as a special favour to be allowed to feed the chickens, or help fetch the cows home. He seemed to see the farm peopled by little ghosts who had never dared trot about aimlessly, or had time to play, and had fed the fowls and fetched the cows not as a treat and an adventure, but as a dreary part of the day's grind ... he reflected that "the m?aster had learned summat by the others, surelye.""You'd better go. The dad'll be better than a[Pg 453] policeman anyhow. Try and smooth him down a bit on the way."

"Mmm."

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"That's no consarn of mine鈥?un't you s?aved anything?""Goodbye, Dolly, I must leave you

He advertised him in the neighbourhood for some weeks beforehand, and gossip ran high. Condemnation of Backfield's ruthlessness in exploiting his brother was combined with a furtive admiration of his smartness as a business man. It was extraordinary how little he cared about "lowering himself," a vital matter with the other farmers of his position. Just as he had thought nothing of working his own farm instead of indulging in the dignity of hired labour, so he thought nothing of making money at Boarzell Fair with the gipsies and pikers.

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