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sembled, with their white cups rocking tranquilly on their green leaves. Some of her fellow-visitors were appearing at the end of the side path. Discomposed as she was, she saw that her best plan was to join them and pass in with them unperceived, if possible, to the drawing-room where Lady Fermor was waiting for her, and where Iris might say good-bye to Lady Thwaite before the party left. So many petty yet useful obligations, belonging to a long code of social rules, held Iris bound to self-restraint and courtesy. But poor Sir William, like a half savage, did not see why, when a tempest of misery had swept over him, when what of rank and social importance he possessed had become a second time utterly embittered to him, he should grin and bear it. He was furious with the sense of being befooled. He was stung to the quick by Iris Compton's absolute, wrathful rejection of him. Why should he go back and bow before a pack of fine people who did not care a straw for Will Thwaite? They would, if they knew all, turn their straight backs upon him in righteous indignation, and shun, as they would flee the plague, the most distant association with a drunken brute who
had lain under the sentence of the lash. They only noticed him and came to his house in their ignorance, because he was the master of Whitehills, and bore the title of Sir William, and was willing to treat his betters according to their idle fancies.
Long after Iris had accomplished successfully her unnoticed return to the drawingroom, so that even Lady Fermor did not observe where her grand-daughter sat among · a group near one of the doors, there was a murmur, rising as loud as politeness would permit, for Sir William. Where had he gone ? Was anybody responsible for his absence ? Why did he desert his post and his guests? Here was a hitch in the simple ceremonies ; here was a hole in this gentleman's coat which he did not button round him so tightly that the coarse jacket of the free-and-easy working man failed to peep through. Must the company go without taking leave of their hostwithout starting with his last greetings ringing in their ears?
Lady Fermor was craning her neck and defying a draught in order to look out and find what had become of Sir William and Iris. For a wonder the old lady said nothing.
All at once she discovered him in the hay. field, and detected Iris at the farther end of the room. Still she said nothing, but she squared the fleshless jaw of which age had revealed the massive bony outline-the most conspicuous feature, except the eyes, in the face which had otherwise shrunk and withered into a mummy-like representation of its former buxom self. That squaring of the heavy jaw, with a bending of the furrowed white brows set on Lady Fermor's face the seal—not of a frown, but of a scowl which few people cared to encounter. She continued to screw her eyes and her glass on the hay-field. The hay-makers had eaten through their meal not the less resolutely, though a little less jovially, because of the rough reception their messenger had met with. But one appetite had failed, and that belonged to Honor Smith. She played with her food and showed herself perplexed, if not put out.
At the end of the meal, the feasters began to show that it was time for them to betray a lurking, lingering resentment of the Squire's behaviour. They had polished the bones of a jolly good supper, roast and boiled, whole sides of bacon, pancakes and apple dumplings, with plenty of ale to wash them down. They had nothing to complain of on that score. Everything had been as handsome as at a harvest thanksgiving, or a Christmas dinner, with no call to go to church if not inclined, or to listen to the parson preaching at them out of his pulpit. All the same, they did not like their best thanks and good healths to be trampled upon— leastways, knocked to the ground. If Martin Weeks had not been in his working clothes, his best coat and waistcoat would have been next to ruined. Alestains were not so easily rubbed out. Some squires they knew brought to mind the old saw about beggars and porters. Tottle ways were not the ways for a squire. Sukey Vass knew a man as were a tottler, and the water went to the brain and killed him, same as he had been a babby.
* You are a graceless, wooden-headed crew! cried Honor Smith, starting to her feet and speaking loudly and shrilly, among the halfservile growling and muttering, 'to eat a man's bread and wag your tongues against him with the morsel still between your teeth or half-way down your throats! Can't you tell for yourselves summat has taken a rise
out of the Squire since the afternoon ? He ain't hisself. Do none of you never fly into a rage, and fling about the chairs and tables, when you dunno whether your head or your heels. is uppermost ?
'A man with a second crop of hay like this here, which he has gotten the whole field in cocks, and the clouds still holding up, has little call to go into a rage,' pronounced a ruined farmer in a tone of oracular condemnation.
How Honor's interference might have been taken, and whether she might not have provoked disagreeable reprisals, remained unproven, for the Squire himself was descried walking towards his hay-makers. He did look, in spite of his good clothes and his soldierly air, disordered and not himself, as Honor had said.
"Good-night,' he said to the people gruffly. "You have had a long day's work, and the hay is safe. I ought to thank you as well as pay you. Will that make amends for anything I've said or done amiss ? Look here; surely you need not mind what a fellow from the ranks without manners, like yourselves, says or does against the grain. Have you