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      They walked on down the lane. Rose's chatter had ceased, and a complete silence dropped between the hedges. The moon had risen higher, and the western hazels were bloomed with light. The moon was no longer crimson in the dark sky, but had burnt down to copper, casting a copper glow into the mists, staining all the blues that melted into one another along the hills. Only the middle of the lane was blacklike a well. Reuben[Pg 248] and Rose could see each other's faces in a kind of rusty glimmer, but their feet stumbled in the darkness, and her hand lay clutching and heavy on his arm."Insolent priest!" interrupted De Boteler, "do you dare to justify what you have done? Now, by my faith, if you had with proper humility acknowledged your fault and sued for pardonpardon you should have had. But now, you leave this castle instantly. I will teach you that De Boteler will yet be master of his own house, and his own vassals. And here I swear (and the baron of Sudley uttered an imprecation) that, for your meddling knavery, no priest or monk shall ever again abide here. If the varlets want to shrieve, they can go to the Abbey; and if they want to hear mass, a priest can come from Winchcombe. But never shall another of your meddling fraternity abide at Sudley while Roland de Boteler is its lord."

      That pledged them to each other, until the time of mating. But what was one more law now?

      "She's an angel "he lifted his eyes, and his mouth became almost worshipful"she's an angel, who's raised me out of hell. I shall never be able to repay her, but she doesn't expect it. All she wants is my success."I bear a good deal of the responsibility for conditions on Fruyling's World, and I have not shirked that responsibility. I found the natives of that world in a condition of slavery, due to the work of my predecessors. I maintained them in that slavery, and made no move whatever to free them or to mitigate their status.

      But Albert's weak mind clung to its first idea with scared tenacity. He was still raving about it when Pete came in from his work that evening."Stopyou're spoiling my h?adge!"

      "Wot else am I to do?" he exclaimed wretchedly; "'t?un't even as if I cud go on seeing you here. Oh, Bessie! I can't even t?ake you to the Fair on Thursday!"The duskiness of the twilight hour was lightened by the broad beams of an autumn moon; and as the moonlight, streaming full upon the thatch, revealed distinctly the little cot that held his treasure, all the high thoughts of freedom and independence, all the wandering speculative dreamings that come and go in the heart of man, gave place, for a season, to one engrossing feeling. Margaret was not this evening, as she was wont to be, sitting outside the cottage door awaiting his approach. The door was partly openedhe enteredand beheld a man kneeling before her, and holding one of her hands within his own!

      "The child is better," replied Margaret, "but I am very ill."

      Since his father's death he had denied himself woman's company, after two years lived in the throb and sweetness of it. A warm and vigorous temperament, controlled by a strong will, had promised a successful libertinism, and more than once he had drunk the extasies of passion without those dregs which spoil it for the more weakly dissolute. But now, with that same fierce strength and relentless purpose which had driven him to do the work of two men, to live hard, and sleep rough, he renounced all the delights which were only just beginning. Henceforth, with his great ambition before him, there could be nothing but marriageprudent, solid, and constructive. His girl at the Forstal knew him no more, nor any of her kind. He had set himself to build a house, and for the sake of that house there was nothing, whether of his own or of others, that he could not tame, break down, and destroy.


      "Wewe ?un't ashamed of you.""Alas! my mother, you will know it soon enough. It is said you havehavebewitchedor poisonedthe baron's son!"


      Automatic sweep searchlights were keyed in. The machinery continued to respond."I love her," faltered Robert.


      There was only one thing for him to do. He sat crosslegged on the smooth floor as the rumble and the other sounds continued, and in opposition to them he made his song, chanting in a loud and even voice. He had learned that a song was to be made when facing death: he had learned that in the birth huts, and he did not question it.