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      Ah, youre just chaffing me, he said, and theres no harm in that. But I didnt care for what Mr Silverdale would say. Hes naughty too, if hes not going to ask poor Alice to marry him, when shes recovered from her influenza. Or have you done as I asked you, and cut your daughter out yourself? Thats a joke too: one bad joke deserves another, Emmeline.

      "O! swear, Roland! swear!" said Isabella, starting from her seat, and, forgetful of all save her own intense feelings, she clasped her hands on her husband's shoulder.

      Not that Rye elections had ever been much concerned with national events. Borough had always been a bigger word than country on those occasions. It was the question of the Harbour rather than the Ballot which had sent up Captain Curteis in 1832, while later contests had centred round the navigation of the Brede River, the new Sluice at Scott's Float, or the Landgate clock. Reuben, however, cared little for these petty town affairs. His chief concern was the restoration of the tax on wheat, and he also favoured the taxing of imported malt and hops. He hated and dreaded Gladstone's "free breakfast table," which he felt would mean the ruin of agriculture in England. He would like to concentrate country Toryism into an organised opposition of Free Trade, and his wounded pride found balm in the thought of founding a local agricultural party of which he would be the inspirer and head.Alice thought that quite lovely, even when she subsequently found out that the identical effusion had already been chanted on his arrival at the house of Mrs Fyson the day before. Julia Fyson, her most intimate friend and co-adorer of the vicar, had told her.

      "And who are you, knave, that dare ride in presence of Wat Tyler?"

      "Aye, that I will, mother," replied Holgrave, kissing her cheek which had assumed its accustomed paleness; "and ill befall the son that will not!"

      "No, I'm going to fetch him now."Mrs Goodford took no notice whatever of this. It is likely that her quick little eye had intercepted the telegraphic suggestion of champagne, and that she was justly irritated at her son-in-la{25}ws rejection of it. She laid herself out to be more markedly disagreeable than usual.


      "Avast there! Master Tyler," said Wells, shaking off the grip of the smith; "I know no more of Lancaster than yourself: I told you this morning he was on the bordersand so, how, in the name of all the saints, could he be here?but I tell ye, there are some here who would rather lay hand upon John of Gaunt's gold than upon John of Gaunt's body!"


      "But f?ather's a clever manAlbert always used to say so."


      I suppose I must have been. Lets think about something else."Oh, you liddle thing!"