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      It became now all the more necessary to smash Realf. He could no longer be content with keeping just ahead of him; he must establish a sort of two-power standard, and crush his rival to the earth. That was not a good summer for expansiona drought baked up the greater part of Sussex, and there was an insect plague in the hopsnevertheless, Reuben bought thirty-five acres of Boarzell, on the east slope, by the road. He was tormented by a fear that Realf would buy the land if he[Pg 235] did not, and, moreover, during May two boards had appeared advertising it as "an eligible building site"; which was possibly bluff, possibly unusual cunning on the part of Flightshot, made resourceful by its straits.

      It was on a lovely October morning that the travellers returned to Sudley. The whole region of the sky was of so clear and deep a blue, that it seemed as if the pure cold breath of the morning had driven every cloud and vapour far from the skies of merry England. The sun shone brightly upon the yet green meadows, upon the hedges, and upon the trees with their broad branches, and their scanty brown leaves: the birds, rejoicing in the sun-light, were singing hymns of grateful melody, as they darted among the branches, or sailed and curved in the blue ether. Our fair Margaret, sympathizing in the gladness of nature, could almost have sung in concert with the feathered choir, as she tripped along with the light step that indicates a cheerful heart. She had just reached that point of the Winchcombe road where the green lane, turning to the left, led directly to her home, when, catching a glimpse of an approaching figure, she raised her eyes and beheldCalverley.The next morning she returned to Rye. But she could not stay there. Her heart was all restlessness and dissatisfaction. Soon Mrs. Backfield announced that she was coming back.


      Caro helped her off with her wedding-dress, and after having recovered her breath, which she lost completely at the sight of the lace on her chemise, she helped her arrange the "negleegy," and watched her open-mouthed[Pg 261] as she posed in it before the fragment of looking-glass.


      "Do you not?I think I speak plain languagehowever, if you forget the appearance of the night when the buck was shot, perhaps you can tell me on what day of the week your man, Sam, managed to get into Holgrave's cottage, and steal the shafts from the quiver over the fire-place?"


      Dansay bit his liphe was afraid so.