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      "I can't," Dodd said, unmoving.

      "What ails thee, my son," asked Edith. "Is she not thy wife?and can the baron break asunder the bonds that bind ye?or dost thou fear that Margaret's face may please himand that he would strive to take from the man who saved his life in the battle, the wife of his bosom! Shame! shame!"

      But he had already forgotten her. He stood with his arm round Bessie, stooping under the canvas roof, half choking in the brazier reek, while his lips came closer and closer to her face....

      "I couldn't have stood much more, and this will be a good excuse."None of them saw or heard Reuben's entrance, and at that moment they all burst into a hymn:

      The truth was that Reuben had now become desperate. He could not give in to Rose. If he sacrificed his farm to her in the smallest degree he ran the risk of ruin. He was torn in two by the most powerful forces of his life. On one side stood Odiam, trembling on the verge of catastrophe, needing every effort, every sacrifice of his, every drop of his sweat, every drop of his blood. On the other stood Rose, the dearest human thing, who demanded that for her sake he should forget his farm and the hopes bound up in it. He would not do soand[Pg 290] at the same time he would not lose Rose. Though her love no longer gave him the gift of peace, he still clung to it; her presence, her voice, her touch, still fired and exalted him. He would not let her goand he would not let Odiam go."And they're coming out this week," said Reuben triumphantly.

      Even if the things she said, the cold-blooded way she looked at the world, sometimes bothered him....



      "Where is she?"The abbot then lowered his staff, the crosierer once more preceded him, and, followed by the monks, he proudly walked forth from the court, the people, as he passed, forming a passage, and humbly bending forward to receive his blessing.


      BOOK I THE BEGINNING OF THE FIGHT Chapter 1He kept his body motionless, but in his heart strange things were moving. That hatred which had run through him like a knife just before he lost consciousness in the battle of Boarzell, suddenly revived and stabbed him again. It was no longer without focus, and it was no longer without purpose. Boarzell ... the name seemed to dance before him in letters of fire and blood. He was suffering for Boarzellhis father had not been robbed, for his father did not care, but he, Reuben, had been robbedand he had fought for Boarzell on Boarzell, and now he was bearing shame and pain for Boarzell. Somehow he had never till this day, till this moment, been so irrevocably bound to the land he had played on as a child, on which he had driven his father's cattle, which had broken with its crest the sky he gazed on from his little bed. Boarzell was his, and at the same time he hated Boarzell. For some strange reason he hated it as much as those who had taken it from him and as those who were punishing him because of it. He wanted to tame it, as a man tames a bull, with a ring in its nose.