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    Software name: appdown
    Software type: Microsoft Framwork

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      After a time they began to notice a convergence in these independent ways. It seemed as if only by running apart had they learned at last to run together. A certain friendliness and comradery began to establish itself between them. Reuben began to talk to Naomi[Pg 110] about politics and agricultural doings, and gradually her character underwent a strange blossoming. She became far more adult in her opinions; she took interest in matters outside her household and immediate surroundings. He never spoke to her of his plans for Boarzell, for that would have brought them back into the old antagonism and unrest; but when she read the papers to him he would discuss them with her, occasionally interrupt her with comments, and otherwise show that he had to do with an intelligent being. She in her turn would enquire into the progress of the hops or the oats, ask him if his new insect-killer was successful, or whether Ditch had done well with his harvest, or how much Realf's had fetched at the corn-market.It was strange to hear a man calling out the names of places in his fever as other men might call the names of people.

      In the evening the taskmaster disappeared, to gloat over his wheatfields. Robert knew he would not be back till supper-time; only Albert was working with him in the stable, and he felt that he could persuade his brother to hold his tongue if he disappeared for an hour or two.

      During dinner he had been even more thoughtful than the occasion warranted, leaving his mother and Harry to talk to the company, though he had taken with a certain dignity his place as host and head of the house. Now at supper he was still inclined to silence. A servant girl laid the dishes on the table, then retired. Mrs. Backfield and Harry spoke in low tones to each other.For a moment nobody seemed to realise what was boding. Then they heard a shout that sounded like "Wait for me!" Naomi felt something rise in her throat and sear the roof of her mouth like a hot cinder.[Pg 45] She tried to scream, but her parched tongue would not move. She staggered forward, but Reuben flung her back.

      By the end of the year Reuben had saved enough money to buy five acres of Boarzell, in the low grounds down by Totease. He had saved chiefly on the wages of Blackman and Becky, though, against that, he had been forced to engage outside help for the hay in June, and also for the wheat in August. However, he had been lucky enough to secure tramp labour for this, which meant payment largely in barn-room and bread.It was not the first time death had visited Reuben, but it was the first time death had touched him. His father's death, his mother's, George's, Albert's, had all somehow seemed much more distant than this very distant death in Africa. Even Naomi's had not impressed him so much with sorrow for her loss as sorrow for the inadequacy of her life.

      "Odiam!" shrieked Albert."I will not answer till I am answered: but this I may say, be ye who ye will, that there is not a man I would befriend sooner than Stephen Holgrave."


      "Oh, landscapes mostly. That's mine"and she pointed to a little water-colour sketch of a barn.


      "Some people marry for love."


      "Master Calverley, I will tell you truly," answered Mary, in a voice scarcely audible from its tremor. "You have been our best friend, and you would not see me hung? It was all a mistakeI am sure I wouldn't hurt a hair of the dear creature's head." And here the feelings of woman so far prevailed, that she shed some disinterested tears."Hush."