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      For Cadnan had tried, earnestly, night after night, to convert Marvor to the new truths the elders had shown him. They were luminously obvious to Cadnan, and they set the world in beautiful order; but, somehow, he couldn't get through to Marvor at all, couldn't express the ideas he had well enough or convincingly enough to let Marvor see how beautiful and true all of them really were. For a time, in fact, he told himself with bitterness that Marvor's escape had really been all his own fault. If he'd only had more talks with Marvor, he thought cloudily, or if he'd only been able to speak more convincingly....Reuben felt his heart sink, and his beer nearly choked him. Soon a vast struggle was raging round the hustings, as the voters fought their way through fists and sticks, often emergingespecially the Conservativeswith their clothes half torn off their backs and quite ruined by garbage. The special constables were useless, for their own feelings betrayed them, and unluckily even in their ranks the Radicals predominated. The[Pg 183] state of the poll at ten-thirty was twenty-seven for Captain MacKinnon and only eleven for Colonel MacDonald.

      Cadnan kept telling himself that where Marvor had gone he, too, could go. But Marvor had had a plan, and Cadnan had none.

      But in this instance the offence was aggravated, at least in the eye of the law, by the manner and occasion. The law had not as yet contemplated the evasion of its decisions, by the disinterment of the bodies of criminals, and, consequently, there was no provision for punishing the deed. It was, however, taken into account in the verdict, and the damages were proportionably heavy. Holgrave, as may readily be imagined, had not a coin to meet the demand, and his crops, which had grown and flourished, as if by miraclefor they had been little indebted to his attentionwere now condemned to be cut down, and put up for sale to pay the damages. The yeoman had often looked upon his plentiful fields with a feeling of pleasure: not that his mind had latterly been in a mood to find pleasure in the prospect of gain; but his house and his land were mortgaged, (for his mother,) and even in the darkest and most troubled scene, there is a beauty, a redeeming brightness, encircling the domestic hearth,nay, perhaps, the heart clings more closely to home, and treasures, more fondly, the little nameless pleasures, and even the cares and anxieties of domestic life, in proportion to the bleakness of the prospect without.

      The next year, Richard and Anne Backfield took a house at Playden for week-ends. Anne wanted to be near her relations at the Manor, and Richard, softened by prosperity, had no objection to returning to the scene of his detested youth.

      The invitation had been given, and the choristers were crowding towards the door. Robert followed them mechanically. It was raining hard.




      The reader will, perhaps, feel some surprise that an esquire of the rich and powerful Lord de Boteler should be thus competing with the yeoman for the hand of a portionless humble nief; but it is necessary to observe, in the first place, that in the fifteenth century esquires were by no means of the consideration they had enjoyed a century before. Some nobles, indeed, who were upholders of the ancient system, still regarded an esquire as but a degree removed from a knight, but these were merely exceptions;the general rule, at the period we are speaking of, was to consider an esquire simply as a principal attendant, without the least claim to any distinction beyond. Such a state of things accorded well with the temper of De Boteler;he could scarcely have endured the equality, which, in some measure, formerly subsisted between the esquire and his lord. With him the equal might be familiar, but the inferior must be submissive; and it was, perhaps, the humility of Calverley's deportment that alone had raised him to the situation he now held. Calverley, besides, had none of the requisites of respectability which would have entitled him to take a stand among a class such as esquires had formerly been.