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"Wot d'you mean, Reuben?"Ditch and the Colonel pulled them apart.
The crest of Boarzell was just visible against the luminous sky. There was something sinister and challenging about those firs. The gorse round their trunks seemed in that strange half-stormy, half-peaceful night to throw off a faint glimmer of gold. The fiddle wept and sang into the darkness, and outside the window two cherry trees scraped their boughs together.Who round us hath shedEven when she had recovered from her surprise, she refused to give him an answer. He became suddenly alarmed lest she thought him too old, and pressing her for her reasons, found that the real matter was that she did not want to sacrifice her freedom.
"You'll git used to her, lad."
At this his father burst into a huge fit of laughter, and Reuben walked away.
At last the letter came. Reuben took it into the oast-barn to read it. His hands trembled as he tore the envelope, and there was a dimness in his eyes, so that he could scarcely make out the big printing hand. But it was not the dimness of his eyes which was responsible for the impossible thing he saw; at first he thought it must be, and rubbed them—yet the unthinkable was still there. William was not coming back at all.
"You're going to Rye, that's where you're going, just fur a t?aste of the rope's end, you young varmint."
"I reckon as how I must be in love."
At the same time he tantalised Reuben with vague hints of enthusiasm, sometimes almost making him think that, undependable and careless as he was, he had in him certain germs of understanding. But these were mere promises that were never fulfilled. Albert would whet Reuben's hopes by asking him questions about the country round: Why was such and such a farm called Stilliand's Tower or Puddingcake? Why were there about six places called Iden Green within a square of twenty miles? Was there any story to account for the names of Mockbeggar, Golden Compasses, Castweasel, or Gablehook? But directly Reuben digressed from these general questions to the holy particulars of Odiam and Boarzell, he would lose his interest and at last even his attention, escaping into some far-wandering dream.