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      Calverley withdrew and repeated the order to a domestic.

      No one thought or spoke or wrote of anything else.[Pg 181] If at meetings Reuben tried to introduce Protection or the Franchise, he was silenced even by his own party. The Scott's Float toll-gate became as important as the Sluice or the Brede River or the Landgate Clock had been in other elections, and nothing, no matter of what national importance, could stand against it."What!" exclaimed the monk"the smith was indeed told that treachery had betrayed him into the baron's power; but is he chained to the spotthat for three long years he should bear the oppressor's rod?"

      "These are bold demands, Wat Tyler," returned Richard, his cheek glowing with indignation, "and more, by my faith, than we shall listen to.""He's down enough now, surelye! I saw him only yesterday by the Glotten meadows, and there was a look in his eye as I'll never forget."

      The worst of that toll-gate was that the Conservatives could never explain it away. They printed posters, they printed handbills, they attempted verse, they made speeches, they protested their disinterestedness, they even tried to represent the abomination as a philanthropic concern, but all their efforts failed. They quickly began to lose ground. It was the Conservative instead of the Liberal meetings that were broken up in disorder. Colonel MacDonald was howled down, and Reuben came home every evening his clothes spattered with rotten eggs.

      "Nay, Isabella," said the pale interesting lady of Sir Robert Knowles, "it is not strange that my Lord de Boteler should know the faces of those who were born on his land; and this young woman's skill could not fail to have procured her notice. But the handiness of her fingers has not made her vain. You know I am fond of reading faces, and I would answer that she is as modest and good as she is fair."

      Her voice came anxiously, timidly like a child's. He dropped her hand from his arm.


      He had seen Tilly at intervals through the years, but as he had never allowed himself to give her more than a withering glance, he had not a very definite idea of her. She was now nearly fifty-five, and more than inclined to stoutnessindeed, her comfortable figure was almost ludicrous compared with her haggard, anxious face, scored with lines and patched with shadows. Her grey hair was thin, and straggled on her forehead, her eyes had lost their brightness; yet there was nothing wild or terrible about her face, it was just domesticity in desperation.Reuben had learnt his first lesson from experience. Quietly but decidedly he altered his conduct. He no longer made the slightest appeal to his family's enterprise or ambition, he no longer interrupted his chidings with those pathetic calls to their enthusiasm which had mystified or irritated them in times past. On the other hand he was twice as hard, twice as fierce, twice as ruthless and masterful as he had ever been.