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      "Aye," said Rugge, "that is as it should beI know where I could carry all the hats I could make, and sell them for a good price, if I were but free of the place."

      Mary looked with a fearful wildness at Calverley, as she comprehended his meaning; but Byles said quickly,

      "I will," replied Holgrave, firmly"Do you want me now?"This savoured a little of business.

      He rose to his feet. The kitchen was dark, with eddying sweeps of shadow in the corners which the firelight caressedwhile a single star put faint ghostly romance into the window.Indeed? I wonder if you would let her come over here one day. I should like to show her my books with her book-plate in them. Saturday, perhaps, if that is a half-holiday. Would she come to lunch, do you think, and spend the afternoon?

      "I've had it three monthsI can construe a bit of Horace now."

      "Stolen from the castles and houses they have plundered," added Sudbury.Just as the baron was about to put the dreaded interrogatory, to the surprise of all, father John entered the hall, and walked with a firm step towards the justice-seat. The monk had not visited the castle since his expulsion, and he had now no desire to stand again where his profession as a priest, and his pride as a man, had been subjected to contumely; but the desire of aiding Holgrave in his defence, had overcome his resolution.


      Mrs. Backfield according to her custom watched the sun. It bathed the floor at first, but gradually she saw the square of the window paint itself on the wall, and then slide slowly up towards the ceiling. Her eyes mechanically followed it; then suddenly it blazed, filmed, flowed out into a wide spread of light, in the midst of which she saw the kitchen at Odiam as it used[Pg 202] to be, with painted fans on the chimney-piece and pots of flowers on the window-sill. Her husband sat by the fire, smoking his pipe, while Harry was helping her tidy her workbasket.


      He did not see much of his son and daughter-in-law on their visits. Richard was inclined to be friendly, but Anne hated Odiam and all belonging to it, while Reuben himself disliked calling at Starcliffe House, because he was always meeting the Manor people.I adore my new parish, he said. I was almost afraid when I took the living I should find too little to do. But coming home late last night from a bedside, if I saw one drunken man I must have seen twenty, some roaring drunk, some simply stupidly drunk, dear fellows! I asked two of them to come home with me, and have another drink, and there was I in the middle with two drunken lads, one with a black eye, reeling along Alfred Street. I dont know what my parishioners must have thought of their new pastor. You should seen my housekeepers face, when I{56} told her that I had brought two friends home with me.


      However, Reuben's whole manner had changed. His attitude towards George Fleet became positively cordial. He took him into the kitchen, and made Maude give him some tea. He himself paced nervously up and down, a queer look of exaltation sometimes passing over his face. One would never have taken him for the same man as the old fellow who an hour ago had huddled weak and almost senile in his chair, broken under his life's last tragedy. He felt young, strong, energetic, a soldier again.