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It was not long before he had overtures from Captain MacKinnon. The Captain had expected an easy triumph; never since it became a free borough had Rye sent a Tory to Parliament. Now he was surprised and a little alarmed to see signs of definite Tory enterprise, banded under one of the most important and successful farmers in the district. It is true that he had the Bardons on his side, but the Bardons were too gentlemanly to be useful. He would have given much to corrupt Reuben, but Flightshot, which held the only bribe that could have made him so much as turn his head, insisted on keeping pure. He tried to hold his own by appealing to the fishermen and sailors against the agriculturistsbut as these in the past had made little fortunes by smuggling grain, they joined the farmers in demanding a wheat-tax."And d?an't pretend you can't understand naun but picturs. A good solid turnup in real life is worth a dozen pretty gals in picturs."
Robert wondered anxiously what time it was; already a faint blear of red was creeping into the cold, twinkling afternoon. The moon rose at a quarter to fivewhen he saw it come up into the sky out of Iden Wood he must go to Meridiana's tent. He led Mrs. Button to where the dancers jigged to Harry's unending tune. Reuben stood on the outskirts, among the spectators, watching with a stern eye Albert snatch kisses off a Winchelsea girl's brown neck as he swung her round. Luckily for Robert his brother was behaving[Pg 167] outrageouslyhis misdeeds were as usual flagrant; just at that moment he pulled down his partner's hair, and they whirled about together, laughing in the coarse mesh that blinded them both. Reuben's mouth was a hard, straight line, and his eyes like steel. He scarcely noticed Robert and Mrs. Button hopping about together, and he did not see when half an hour later the boy stole away alone.
A similar scene was taking place at the next gun, with a little blackamoor about the size of Sandy Baker.
"And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still," continued Monty.
But Realf of Grandturzel shook his head. His humiliation was more than he could bear. Without another look at Pete or Tilly, or at Reuben holding the raw chop to his eye, he turned and walked out of the room with bent head and dragging footsteps.
Cadnan said: "I am Cadnan."