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      A sudden idiotic courage possessed her; she proposed to put things to the touch. The flickering firelight and her sense of convalescence inspired her. He had called her Helper, he had said a thousand things behind which meaning might lurk. It was her business, like that of every sensible girl who wants to be married, to show him that his shy priest-like advances met a slightly less shy welcome. A wave of calculating fatuousness combed over her.

      Dont go unless you wish, he said suddenly. Give up the catalogue altogether if you like.

      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.

      You are very obstinate, he said. I will get an independent estimate of what is a fair price for the completed catalogue when you have finished it, and adjust my payment by that. Will that satisfy you?{191}

      Every now and then the crowd would break into the latest rhymings of MacKinnon's poet:Things had been getting worse and worse ever since. No labourer would work for themno neighbour would purchase from, or sell them, any necessaries, and all the produce of Gray's individual industry was carried to Gloucester; for at the populous market of that city, he sold and bought without it being known that the ban of excommunication cut him off from all social intercourse with his kind.

      He was now leaning heavily on Caro as he walked, and too shy, and perhaps reluctant, to ask him to lift his arm, she naively suggested that they should sit down and rest. Dansay was delightedshe was not the timid little bird he had thought, and directly they had sunk into the heather he seized her in his arms, and began kissing her violently on neck and lips.Mrs Keeling sat straight up in bed.


      "My liege, I am leader of fifty thousand men.""Lady," returned Father John, with dignity, "I retire at your bidding, but not through fear of the Baron de Boteler. Let him, if he will, insult and expose an anointed priestbut, woe to him if he does! The blight has already fallen on the blossombeware of the tree!"


      At the distance of nearly a mile from Sudley Castle, and at about a quarter of a mile from the high road that led to Oxford, was a singular kind of quarry or cliff. Its elevation was considerable, and the portion of the hill visible from the road was covered with the heathy verdure which usually springs from such scanty soil; but on passing round to the other side, all the barren unsightly appearance of a half worked quarry presented itself. Huge masses of stone stood firmly as nature had formed them, while others, of a magnitude sufficient to awaken in the hardiest, a sense of danger, hung apparently by so slight a tenure, that a passing gust of wind, seemed only required to release their fragile hold. But the hill had stood thus unaltered during the remembrance of the oldest inhabitant of Winchcombe. Strange stories were whispered respecting this cliff, but as the honour of the house of Sudley, and that of another family equally noble, were concerned in the tale, little more than obscure hints were suffered to escape.


      Father John read aloud as follows: