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      She cared nothing for Odiam; it was no thought of disloyalty to it and her father, of breaking from her service, which made her mark time in dreams. As the weeks went by she felt more and more the hatefulness of the yoke. She now had a standard of comparison by which to judge Reuben and Odiam. She saw herself and her brothers and her sister more and more as victims. Other farmers' children were not slaves. Other farms did not hang like sucking incubuses on boys' and girls' backs, draining all the youth and joy and sport out of them.

      And Norma ... what had happened to her? After the fighting was over, and they could talk again, could relax and reach out for each other once again....

      No masters were visible. There should have been guards, but the guards might have been anywhere: one escape had hardly served to alert a lazy, uninterested group who performed their duties out of no more than habit. Wherever the guards were resting, they were not in the corridor: everything went smoothly. It was smoother than Cadnan was willing to believe.

      "No flints here," he said; "reckon there's some stiff ground on the hillbut it's only the surface. Heather ?un't growingthat's a tedious good sign. I'll have oats herethe best in Peasmarsh."

      Old Mrs. Backfield was getting very decrepit. She could not walk without a stick, and her knotted hands were of little use either in the kitchen or the dairy. Reuben was anxious to avoid engaging anyone to help her, yet the developments of her sphere made such help most necessary. Odiam now supplied most of the neighbouring gentry with milk, butter, and eggs; the poultry-yard had grown enormously since it had been a mere by-way of Mrs. Backfield's labours, and she and the girls also had charge of the young calves and pigs, which needed constant attention, and meant a great deal of hard work. Besides this, there was all the housework to do, sweeping, dusting, cooking, baking, and mending and washing for the males.

      "Conservatives, 'tis all serene


      Cadnan saw her meaning. It was necessary to find Bent Line Tree, or some like it, and advising elders, all before the time of mating. Yet he did not know how. "Maybe masters come," he suggested hopefully, "and tell us what to do.""No; his master."


      If Sir Peter had been alive he would probably have given the common back to the people, but Sir Miles was more far-sighted, also of prouder stuff. Such a policy would give the impression of weakness, and there was always a chance of selling the land piecemeal. Reuben's ambition was to buy a few acres at the end of that year, letting the Squire know of his plan to buy morethis would encourage him to keep Boarzell inclosed, and would act as a check on any weak generosity.