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      Reuben stood motionless at the graveside, erect, like a soldier at attention. People in the crowd, who wearied of the dead man's virtues, whispered about the eldest son."I reckon," said Reuben, "as how they'd all have been better off if they'd stayed at home."

      Unfortunately Harry's ideas of work were fantastic, and he was, besides, hindered by his blindness. Any use he could be put to was more than balanced by the number of things he broke. His madness had of late developed both a terrible and an irritating side. He was sometimes consumed by the idea that the house was burning, and had on one or two occasions scared the family by jumping out of bed in the middle of the night and running about the passages shouting"The house is afire! the house is afire! Oh, God save us all!" After he had done this once or twice, young Piper was made to sleep in his room, but even so he was often visited by his terrors during the day, and would interrupt work or meals with shrieks of"The house is afire! Oh, wot shall we do! The house is afire, and the children are burning."

      "No! no! no!" from a hundred voices, overpowered the address of John Ball.

      For though he did not care for Odiam he loved the country round it, and made a wonderland and a dreamland of it. He did not see in Boarzell Robert's tree-capped waste, though neither did he see his father's enemy and heart's delight. He saw instead a kind of enchanted ground, full of mysteries of sun and moon, full of secrets that were sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrifying. It seemed to have a soul and a voice, a low voice, hoarse yet sweet; and its soul was not the soul of a man or of a beast, but the soul of a fetch, some country sprite, that clumped, and yet could skip ... he[Pg 128] used to feel it skipping with him in the evening wind when the dusk made the heather misty round his knees ... but he knew that it danced heavy-footed round the farm at night, clumping, clumping, like a clod.

      "I am afraid of no man!" he replied, doggedly.

      But she went to the Fair.

      Meantime he cast covetous and hopeful eyes on the Grandturzel inclosure. Realf was doing nothing with it, and his affairs were not so prosperous as they used to be.[Pg 388] His abandonment of the struggle had not changed his luck, and a run of bad luckthe usual farmer's tale of poor harvests, dead cows, blighted orchards, and low priceshad plunged Grandturzel nearly as deep as Odiam had once been. Realf had shown himself without recuperative powers; he economised, but inefficiently, and Reuben foresaw that the day would come when he would be forced to part with some of his land. He was in no immediate hurry for this, as he would be all the readier to spend his money in a few years' time, but occasionally he gave himself the treat of going up to the Grandturzel inclosure and inspecting it from the fence, planning exactly what he would do with it when it was his.


      "Yesthat makes up to us a bit, but it d?an't do us any real good ... only helps us git round a man sometimes when we can't git over him."


      Outside in the yard, Handshut stood by the pump, apparently absorbed in studying the first lights of Triangulum as they kindled one by one in the darkening sky.


      To stop the public, tax them, circumvent,