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      Alice rose too, and for a moment he was surprised that she did not try to keep him; instead, she said:

      But Reuben did it because he was not going to be beaten in any respect by his land. He was not going to accept defeat in the slightest instance. So he blew up[Pg 51] the stumps, tidied the ground, and spread manureand more manureand yet more manure.

      "I shouldn't think Richard was sorry he left."

      Reuben was standing by the table, erect, and somehow dignified in spite of the mess he was in.Chapter 5


      'Seventy-four was another bad year for Odiam, and it was more hopeless than its predecessors, for Reuben had now no expectations to sustain him. His position was really becoming serious. In '68 he had bought more land than he could afford, for fear that Grandturzel would buy it if he did not, and in '71 he had started his accursed milk-round, which had proved nothing but an expense and a failure. He still clung to it, for the shop by the Landgate gave him prestige, and he had always hoped that affairs would mend, but he was gradually coming to realise that prestige can be bought too dear, and that his affairs were too heavily clogged to improve of their own accord.The family at Flightshot consisted now of the Squire, who had nothing against him except his obstinacy, his lady, and his son who was just of age and "the most tedious young rascal" Reuben had ever had to deal with. He drove a motor-car with hideous din up and down the Peasmarsh lanes, and once Odiam had had[Pg 433] the pleasure of lending three horses to pull it home from the Forstal. But his worst crimes were in the hunting field; he had no respect for roots or winter grain or hedges or young spinneys. Twice Reuben had written to his father, through Maude the scribe, and he vowed openly that if ever he caught him at it he'd take a stick to him.



      This is the end.