While the agent was thus recounting to his wife the day’s doings, the evicted Tryst sat on the end of his bed in a ground-floor room of Tod’s cottage. He had taken off his heavy boots, and his feet, in their thick, soiled socks, were thrust into a pair of Tod’s carpet slippers. He sat without moving, precisely as if some one had struck him a blow in the centre of the forehead, and over and over again he turned the heavy thought: ‘They’ve turned me out o’ there—I done nothing, and they turned me out o’ there! Blast them—they turned me out o’ there!’ . . .
In the orchard Tod sat with a grave and puzzled face, surrounded by the three little Trysts. And at the wicket gate Kirsteen, awaiting the arrival of Derek and Sheila—summoned home by telegram—stood in the evening glow, her blue-clad figure still as that of any worshipper at the muezzin-call.
“A fire, causing the destruction of several ricks and an empty cowshed, occurred in the early morning of Thursday on the home farm of Sir Gerald Malloring’s estate in Worcestershire. Grave suspicions of arson are entertained, but up to the present no arrest has been made. The authorities are in doubt whether the occurrence has any relation with recent similar outbreaks in the eastern counties.”
So Stanley read at breakfast, in his favorite paper; and the little leader thereon:
“The outbreak of fire on Sir Gerald Malloring’s Worcestershire property may or may not have any significance as a symptom of agrarian unrest. We shall watch the upshot with some anxiety. Certain it is that unless the authorities are prepared to deal sharply with arson, or other cases of deliberate damage to the property of landlords, we may bid good-by to any hope of ameliorating the lot of the laborer”
—and so on.
If Stanley had risen and paced the room there would have been a good deal to be said for him; for, though he did not know as much as Felix of the nature and sentiments of Tod’s children, he knew enough to make any but an Englishman uneasy. The fact that he went on eating ham, and said to Clara, “Half a cup!” was proof positive of that mysterious quality called phlegm which had long enabled his country to enjoy the peace of a weedy duck-pond.