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    Software name: appdown
    Software type: Microsoft Framwork

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      Thank you very much, sir, said she.{77}

      It was on the evening of a feast day, and the day-labourers and villeins around Saint Albans were enjoying the repose, that even in that period of bondage, was never infringed upon, and which, from the frequent recurrence of the festivals afforded a sufficient relaxation from manual exertion to recruit the strength; when suddenly, amidst a group in the market-place, who were discoursing upon the severity of the poll tax, then collecting, appeared John Ball.Mrs Keeling gave him his cup of tea, and waited a little before pouring out her own. It was necessary to hold the teapot so long in the air in order to extract a ration of fluid from it.

      Realf suddenly seemed to shrink into himself. The next minute he was swaying unsteadily on his legs, refusing the hands held out to support him.

      "Of course I mean. You needn't look so surprised. Such a thing has been known to happen."The son sprang to his feet, and helped his mother, whose stoutness and stiffness made it a difficult matter, to rise too.

      Then he became obsessed by the idea that he was out on the Moor, wandering on it, and bound to it. The[Pg 369] earth was red-hot under his feet, and he picked them up off the bed like a cat on hot bricks, till Pete began to laugh inanely. He saw round him all the places he had known as a child, and called out for them, because he longed to escape to them from the burning Moor"Castweasel! Castweasel!... Ramstile!... Ellenwhorne...."Every now and then the crowd would break into the latest rhymings of MacKinnon's poet:



      "Because I see you're justabout miserable, and I thought I'd say as how I'm beside youonly that."These rather strange terms had been the result of much thought on his part. His original plan had been simply to buy the farm for as little money as Realf would take, but Tilly's visit had inspired him with the happy thought of getting it for nothing. As the land was mortgaged it would be very difficult for Realf to find buyers, who would also be discouraged by the farm's ruinous state of disrepair. Indeed, Reuben thought himself rather generous to offer what he did. He might have stipulated for Realf to pay him back in a given time part of the money disbursed on his account. After all, mortgage and repairs would amount to over a thousand pounds, so when he talked of getting the place for nothing it was merely because the mortgage and the repairs would have to be tackled anyhow. He had little fear of Realf's refusing his termsnot only was he very unlikely to find another purchaser, but no one else would let him stay on, still less pay him for doing so. Reuben had thought of keeping him on as tenant, but had come to the conclusion that such a position would make him too independent. He preferred rather to have him as a kind of bailiffthe monthly, instead of the weekly, wage making acceptance just possible for his pride.


      Sometimes he would expostulate with her, and when[Pg 266] she met his expostulations with blandishments, he would feel himself yielding, and grow so furious that he would turn upon her in rage and indignation. Rose was not like Naomi; in her own words "she gave as good as she got," and once or twice, for the first time in his life, Reuben found himself in loud and vulgar altercation with a female. He had never before had a woman stand up to him, and the experience was humiliating.