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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-06-14 17:40:27
Typefacelarge in Small

tr chi ua nga

"Kill foxes?" "All varmints, your honour—from a hoop[*] to a hedge-pig." [*] Hoop: A bullfinch. "The man who kills foxes will never earn a shilling from me," thundered Malherb. "Out of my sight, you old miscreant! Kill foxes! What is Tyrwhitt about? I'd hang you to the church yew yourself if I had my way. Honest foxes to be killed by a clown!" Leaman Cloberry regarded the angry settler without flinching. "If you're that sort, your people be likely to have uneasy dreams," he said. "As to foxes, there'll be plenty for you an' the likes of you to run after on horseback—no need to fear that. I've killed but ten dogs an' two vixens in cub this year. I lay you'll meet more foxes around your hen-roosts up-along than you'll find time to hunt. Then you'll be sorry you growed so fiery against me." "Get you gone, you mouldy rascal! Go to your vermin and foul the air no more." The mole-catcher smiled and put on his hat. "I'll go," he said, "since you be too great a man to breathe alongside of me. Good evening to your honour; an' my duty to you." Then he made his exit, singing: "A ha'penny for a rook; A penny for a jay; A noble for a fox; An' twelvepence for a gray!" It was the tariff of his trade, and he sang the words aloud at all seasons and in all company. Nobody spoke after Malherb's explosion; but a moment afterwards he grew calm again, finished his liquor, and prepared to depart. "Come with your papers on Monday week to Tor Royal. And now drink success to Fox Tor Farm, and when next you hear of Maurice Malherb, remember that the devil is not so black as he is painted." He flung half a crown upon the counter and went his way, while the men in eager concert cried, "So us will, your honour!" "Long life an' fortune to your honour!" and "Good luck to Fox Tor Farm!" When Malherb was gone they discussed the matter, and no emotion but a very active interest marked their attitude. "Dartymoor'll soon larn him not to fling half-crowns about," said Uncle Smallridge. "Ten shilling a week!" mused Richard Beer. "He must be made of money." "More likely soft in his head," answered a woman behind the bar. CHAPTER V DAWN With the following spring Fox Tor Farm was habitable, and Mrs. Malherb and her daughter prepared to enter their new home. They had spent the winter in Exeter, for the old farm by Exe passed into other hands at Christmas, but Mr. Malherb himself already lived upon the Moor. In February he had gone into residence with Kekewich, and though the place was still but partially completed, his labourers also began work upon the scene and made shift to dwell there. Good apartments for the people were now finished, and Mr. Malherb's cattle had also arrived to fill the fine yard and comfortable byres erected for their winter uses. Kekewich cried failure from the first, but none laboured more zealously to avert it, none toiled early and late with more strenuous diligence than he. True to his whim, the master denied Annabel Malherb and Grace one sight of Fox Tor Farm until they actually arrived to dwell there; and even then he so ordered their advent that it fell in darkness. At ten o'clock upon a night in mid-April, mother and daughter passed over the nocturnal Moor, vaguely felt its surrounding immensity, and turned from the unknown earth, where it rolled formless and vast around them, to the familiar moon, whose face they knew. From Holne, a border village whither they had driven by stage, Mrs. Malherb and her daughter now rode on pillions; while behind them came the tinkle of little bells and the thud of heavy hoofs where six pack-horses followed. Annabel sat behind her husband; while Grace had Harvey Woodman for her escort. Through the silent darkness they passed, and the mother listened to Malherb's hopes, and sometimes kissed the round ear next her while she echoed his sanguine mind. But Grace paid little heed to Woodman, who discoursed without tact upon the complicated miseries of a Dartmoor life, and explained how that his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, had all gone steadily downhill before the insidious Duchy.


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