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      The men-at-arms, headed by Sir Robert Knowles, and the citizens, under Walworth, hurried after the commons, and when the charter had been granted, and the people were dispersing, suddenly, and treacherously, fell upon them.

      She has never mentioned her father to me. Was hewell, the sort of man whom the County Club would not have blackballed?

      How pleased the herald angels will be! he answered."He's better have some warm ale," said the old man we have before mentioned, with a sneer"these garments seem to weigh down the spirit of our new guest."

      News of Richard came a few months later. He was heard of as a barrister on the Southern Circuit, and defended a gipsy on trial for turnip-stealing at Lewes. Rumours of him began to spread in the neighbourhoodhe was doing well, Anne Bardon was working for him, and he was likely to be a credit to her. At the Cocks he was the subject of much respectful comment, and for the first time Reuben found himself bathed in glory reflected from one of his children. He could not help feeling proud of him, but wished he did not owe anything to the Bardons.It is not too much to say that the room was of the nature of a temple, for here a very essential and withdrawn part of himself passed hours of praise and worship. Born in the humblest circumstances, he had, from the days when he slept on a piece of sacking below the counter in his fathers most unprofitable shop, devoted all the push, all the activity of his energies to the grappling of business problems and the pursuit of money-making. To many this becomes by the period of{33} middle age a passion not less incurable than drug drinking, and not less ruinous than that to the nobler appetites of life. But Keeling had never allowed it thus to usurp and swamp him; he always had guarded his secret garden, fencing it impenetrably off from the clatter of the till. Here, though undeveloped and sundered from the rest of his life, grew the rose of romance, namely the sense of beauty in books; here shone for him the light which never was on sea or land, which inspires every artists dream. He was not in any degree creative, he had not the desire any more than the skill to write or to draw when he lost himself in reverie over the printed page or the illustrations in his sumptuous editions. But the sense of wonder and admiration which is the oil in the artists lamp burned steadily for him, and lit with a never-flickering flame the hours he passed among his books. Above all, when he was here he lost completely a certain sense of loneliness which was his constant companion.

      Meantime it seemed as if in spite of his absorption in his new family he was not to be entirely cut off from the old. In the summer of '87, just after the Jubilee, he had a letter from Richard, announcing that he and his wife were coming for a week or so to Rye. Reuben had not heard of Richard for some years, and had not seen him since he left Odiamhe had been asked to the wedding, but had refused to go. Now Richard expressed[Pg 390] the hope that he would soon see his father. His was a nature that mellows and softens in prosperity, and though he had not forgotten the miseries of his youth, he was too happy to let them stand between him and Reuben now that they were only memories."Then, my lord, you will not comply with the mandate of my superior?"


      No, never.Realf went white to the lips, and said nothing.


      Of what? asked he.


      Chapter 24