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      He would walk southwards to Eggs Hole and Dinglesden, then across the Tillingham marshes to Coldblow and Pound House, then over the Brede River to Snailham, and turning up by Guestling Thorn, look down on Hastings from the mill by Batchelor's Bump. Or he would go northwards to strange ways in Kent, down to the Rother Marshes by Methersham and Moon's Green, then over to Lambstand, and by side-tracks and bostals to Benendenback by Scullsgate and Nineveh, and the lonely Furnace road.

      It was very gallant of him to do so, for it meant venturing still further into new spheres of thought. None of the Backfields had been to church for years, though Reuben prided himself on being a good churchman, and Pete was rather at a loss what to do in a[Pg 370] ghostly crisis such as this. However, on one thing he was resolvedthat he would not go through another night like the last, and he credited a parson with mysterious cabalistic powers which would miraculously soothe the invalid and assure him of sleep in future.

      "I call upon this assembly to witness, that I have, in the name of holy church, demanded the accusedthat I have demanded her in the name of the king, by virtue of his royal writ of prohibition, which has been basely purloinedand that, unmindful of that divine power, and despite the king's express command, Judge Skipwith, the servant of the one, and an unworthy son of the other, has contemptuously refused this demand. But," he added fiercely, as he again turned towards Skipwith, and shook his staff at the no less irritated judge, "the royal ermine is disgraced on the shoulders of such as theebeware that it is not speedily transferred to one more worthy to bear it. I say again, beware!"

      "I do believe," returned the baron, in a more subdued voice than mortal had ever heard from him before; and he approached the child, who was nestling close to Margaret, and looking around with an abashed but inquisitive countenance.

      Keeling nodded towards the room where the hands had become busy again. He knew she had heard, overheard if you will, and since she did not choose to give her answer herself, he did not choose to convey the invitation to her again. Some faint stirrings of human relationship began at that moment to enter into living existence, for each set up their little screen of pride. Neither would have done that had there not been something, ever so small, to screen.

      Mrs Keeling got up in some confusion.


      Why, Miss Propert, she said. Fancy working on Sunday morning when all good people are at church!{180}


      "How did the Election go?"


      Mary had sustained herself wonderfully well, considering how unprepared she had been, but this last interrogatory of Sir Robert, conjuring up, as it were, Edith's ghost, was too much; she struggled against nature for an instant, and then, giving an hysterical shriek, fell back in strong convulsions.