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      Reuben dropped the insect-killer.

      That spring the news flew round from inn to inn and farm to farm that Realf of Grandturzel had bought a shire stallion, and meant to start horse-breeding. This was a terrible shock to Reuben, for not only was horse-breeding extremely profitable to those who could afford it, but it conferred immeasurable honour. It seemed now as if Odiam were seriously threatened. If Realf[Pg 196] prospered at his business he could afford to fight Reuben for Boarzell.Richard began to take a new interest in his flockhitherto they had merely struck him as grotesque. Their pale silly eyes, their rough, tic-ridden fleeces, their scared repulsiveness after the dipping, their bewildered nakedness after the shearing, had filled him either with amusement or disgust; but now, when he saw them weakly lick the backs of their new-born lambs, while the lambs' little tails quivered, and tiny, entreating sounds came from their mouths, he found in them a new beauty, which he had found nowhere else in his short, hard lifethe beauty of an utterly loving, tender, and helpless thing.

      "It's all right," the master said, slurring his words only very slightly. "I wanted to come and talk. I wanted to talk to one of you."Besides, Reuben had now a respectable herd of cattlenot quite so numerous or valuable as the earlier lot which had been sacrificed, but none the less respectable, and bringing him in good returns. He had made some sound profit out of his service-bull, and his sheep were paying better than they had paid for years. He no longer "kept" other people's cattle. Odiam, whether in stock or cash, was now inviolate.

      "This one is called Gornom," the master said. "He'll be with you when you work. He's going to help you workyou can teach him all he has to know. Just make sure you don't let him handle the buttons until we give you the word. All right?"

      "Is that all, Captain?"

      Chapter 11"Noit's you that wants me, surelye."


      "Is it good to learn?" the female asked. The question made Cadnan uncomfortable: who knew, for certain, what was good? He knew he would have to think it out for a long time. But the female wanted an answer.


      Now lay off.He bowed his head on the sill, and his throbbing brain[Pg 190] revisualised the whole horrible day. He owed the humiliation and defeat of it all to Albert, who for the sake of money and a milk-and-water career, had betrayed Odiam's glory, and foully smirched its name.


      Sometimes there would be males too, and Reuben[Pg 279] found that he could be jealous on occasion. It annoyed him to see a young counter-jumper from Rye sitting in the parlour with an unmanly tea-cup, and he would glare on such aristocracy as a bank-clerk or embryo civil servant, whose visits Rose considered lent a glamour to Odiam. Like a wise woman she used her husband's jealousy to her own advantage. She soon grew extremely skilful in manipulating it, and by its means wrung a good deal out of him which would not otherwise have been hers.Dodd waved a hand and, going over, found a chair and brought it to hers. "I'm sorry about the other night"