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      CHAPTER VIHe turned and retraced his steps. Now that the object of his expedition was secured he was conscious of all the discomforts and absurdity of what he had been doing. The snow was deep, his evening shoes were wet through, his mackintosh heavy with clinging flakes, and his rational self made its voice heard, telling him what a fools errand was in progress. He heard, but his emotional self heeded nothing of that: it would not argue, it would not answer, it was well satisfied{155} with what he had done, telling him, now that he was going homewards again, that he would find there the blotting paper on which she had pressed the wet ink of her catalogue slips, reminding him that at nine next morning he would see her again. It would attend to no interruptions, its thoughts sufficed for itself. But he knew that his reason, his prudence were ringing him up, as it were, on the telephone. The bell tinkled with repeated calls for him to listen to what they had to say. But he refused to take the receiver down; he would not give his ear to their coherent message, and let them go on summoning him unheeded. He knew all they had to say, and did not want to hear it again. They took an altogether exaggerated view of his affairs, when they told him that the situation might easily develop into a dangerous one. He, with his emotional self to back him up, knew better than they, and had assured them that his self-control had the situation well in hand. They need not go on summoning him, he was not going to attend. In the leafless elms above there sang in this wintry and snow-bound night the shy strong bird of romance: never in his life had he heard such rapture of melody.


      "Alice."


      "And so there is, childbut I am old; and the aged, as well as the young, love to be talking. Stephen, you must bear with your mother."The monk then left the apartment, and the confederates presently retired.

      "I should rather say 'abominable,'" Anne interrupted gently.Reuben flushed.

      Robert Backfield was a member of Peasmarsh choir. He had a good, ringing bass voice, which had attracted the clerk's notice, and though Reuben disapproved of his son's having any interests outside Odiam, he realised that as a good Tory he ought to support the Churchespecially as the hours of the practices did not clash with Robert's more important engagements.Then I think you are quite mistaken. They are great friends, and Mr Silverdale has the most wonderful and spiritual influence over her. She is quite changed. She is always doing something now for somebody else; she reads to Mamma, she takes a Sunday school, she is busy and happy active.


      About this time old Beatup died. He was Odiam's first hand, and had seen the farm rise from sixty acres and a patch on Boarzell to two hundred acres and nearly the whole Moor. Reuben was sorry to lose him, for he was an old-fashioned servantwhich meant that he gave much in the way of work and asked little in the way of wages or rest. The young men impudently demanded twenty shillings a week, wanted afternoons in the town, and complained if he worked them overtimethere had never been such a thing as overtime till board schools were started.

      Yes, sir, if youll pay the price, theres an important site which the owner wants to sell the freehold of. Its the site of the County Club. The price asked seems rather high, but then I consider the Club are getting their premises absurdly cheap. You might fairly ask a much higher rental.

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      "Pardon!" interrupted Turner"there is no pardon wanted: let them do as they ought to do, and there will be no rising."It was a crisp morning, with touches of frost lingering in shadowed places where the warmth of the primrose-coloured winter sunshine had not reached them, and Norah preferred walking to taking the bus that would have set her down at the corner where Alfred Street became Alfred Road. She was keenly sensitive to the suggestion of brisk sunshine or the depression of heavy weather, but the kindly vigour of this winter morning did{192} not wholly account for the exhilaration and glee of her blood. There was more than that in it: the drench of a December gale would hardly have affected her to-day. As she went, she let herself examine for the first time the conditions that for the last six weeks had caused her every morning to awake with the sense of pleasure and eager anticipation of the ensuing day. Hitherto she had diverted her mind from causes, and been contented with effects. Her office-work (that work which had begun so distastefully) pleased and interested her, her catalogue work enthralled her, and now she turned round the corner, so to speak, of herself, and asked herself why this sunshine was spread over all she did.

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