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"I SHARN'T go," said Luke Grimmer.

"Sharn't you, bor?" said his visitor, stealthily feeling the raw edge of his collar, as if he conceived that he had endured a good deal to no purpose. There was, in fact, some such impression taking root within his mind it helped to accentuate an appearance that was at all times outwardly disconsolate to the point of caricature.


what I mean, they're resting, like. Theer's on'y two on 'em-Tuke an' Tegerdine."

"Two or two hunderd," said Luke Grimmer, "I tek it kindly of 'em."

The flush still lingered on his cheeks, and seemed to darken by assimilation of colour from his soft brown beard. Brown-an untanned brown, as it were-was the prevailing hue the prevailing hue of his complexion: at first sight he appeared to have brown eyes. Actually his eyes were blue and limpid, but there were ruddy flecks within the iris, and a flawing heat, as of embers, in the long glances that he gave. This man, middle-aged, almost illiterate, farm foreman and chapel preacher, narrowly escaped being a fanatic: to this extent he was held in mistrust by his fellows, who had a shrewd preference for leadership rather than ascendancy.

"No," said the other strongly, with a sort of luminous flush starting out on his high cheek-bones. "Not if they 'old the meetin' in a public'ouse. I belonged to the Lord afore I belonged to the Aggeracultural Labrers' Union, and I'll niver peril my salvation to set on no County Council 88 iver breathed. Not but what I tek it kindly of you, Fred Eke you and your mates. But you know my princerple. My trust is in the Lord."

"Is it, bor?" said Mr Eke, moving uneasily under the still fervour of the other's gaze. "That meks it a bit orkard, meks it a bit orkard."

He remained staring intently at the bleak, clean kitchen fire, until the other said suddenly"You orter brought your mates in, Fred. Where are they?"

"D'ye see," said Mr Eke, glancing swiftly up and down again, "they're down at the

"So they'll chuse Merrishaw," said Mr Eke with a traversing glance which just avoided the other's eyes. "Mek no doubt they willlong as you ain't theer."

"They must ohuse as they think best," said the foreman; "I don't 'old with selectin' a canderdate at a public-'ouse, and I must be trew to the princerple I 'old. But if that's their wish to meet there, then it must be so. On'y, I sharn't go."

"D'ye see, bor," said Mr Eke, in a tone of extenuation, "that's the Lamb an' Flag. What I mean, that's not a place as I should wish to speak despairingly of. Anybody could set theer an' be as respectable as they liked." His gaze had become entangled with Mr Grimmer's, and he stopped short with an uncertain tremor of his long raw-shaven chin.

"What I reckon," he said galvanically, "it lays 'twixt you and 'im. An' they'll chuse you if you're theer. . . ."

"Fred Eke," said the other, forcing a smile by an effort that brought the perspiration to the hollows beneath his eyes, "if the Evil One come to you in this very room as we set in, an' offered you ten thousand pound for your immortal soul, what answer should you give?"

He stretched out his hand in a crude rhetorical gesture. "You'd say, 'Git thee be'int me, Satan, an' all thy iniquerty."

"Oh, ar," said Mr Eke rigidly. "Ar... I didn't 'ardly 'ear what you arst me, bor."

He made a slight and ungainly movement with his knees.

"What I mean, bor," he said, "you'll git votes wheer 'e wouldn't. 'E'll niver git in, if they chuse 'im, an' I know you would. Good o' the cause, bor. Good o' the cause."

He took a rapid observation of the foreman's face, and returned once more to a contemplation of the fire.

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"You don't know 'is rewdness," returned Mr Eke, flickering into a melancholy choler. "Not same as I do. I shouldn't want you to know it same as I do."

The foreman sat back in his chair, and drawing out a large handkerchief, wiped his face.

"Arewd brewt, I call 'im," said Mr Eke, who felt that this was a good opportunity for looking the other straight in the face. "D'ye know what 'e called me? It's a thing I'd niver repeat."

"Mekkin' game," he said, brightening with an inspiration. "Why, 'e's allus mockin' What was that as 'e used to call you yeer last Michaelmas?"

at some one.

"Forgive an' forget," said the other with strained smile. "That's what the Book tells us. Forgive an' forget."

Mr Eke's gaze hurried back to the refuge of the fire.

"Oh, ar," he said bleakly. "That's 'ow I mostly do."

He fell into 8 sombre reverie, with loose interstices of speech.


"A rewd feller," he mur- manifestation of her state of mured unhappily. "Calls anybody anythink. bor."


"I shall nommernate you," he said, as he was moving to depart. "They sharn't say they 'adn't a chanche o' the best man."

"That Eke brought muck in on 'is boots?" she said. "There's "There's gen'lly some one battling about when the mud's thickest."

The foreman nodded with a slightly foolish air of 80

Luke Grimmer slightly shook quiescence, and went about,

his head.

"You're a trew friend," he said. "You orter brought your mates in."

"There's on'y two on 'em," said Mr Eke, who seemed to imply that he did not much care to be seen with anything less than a crowd. "What I mean, Tuke an' Tegerdine."

He faced round slowly as he came to the gate.

"You wanter think it over, bor," he said; "think it over. You got while night.

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At a distance of twenty paces he turned again.

"I'll let you know," he said, with a sort of dismal truculence derived from the necessity of raising his voice. "Arter they chused, like, I'll come along an' let you know."

Luke Grimmer nodded, and went back slowly to his kitchen fireside. Mrs Grimmer, from a general aversion to visitors, which she invariably contrived to attribute to their individual shortcomings, had listened to the interview from the privacy of an inner room. She had returned to the kitchen, and was sitting by the fire when her husband re-entered: as he came through the door she glanced up at him with an expression that was a concise

treading delicately, to his chair. He had never quite accustomed himself to the singular completeness of his wife's discourse; there was an interval of some minutes before he said diffidently

"Mek no doubt you know what 'e come for. I tek it very friendly of 'im."

Mrs Grimmer's gaze tracked methodically towards the door. "He must 'a come through all the sludge 'e could find," she said.

Her tone, without any tinge of complaint, succeeded in giving this utterance the effective prestige of a statement of fact.

"Ar," said the foreman, peering down at the floor, "E didn't orter done so. It's a owrie day, though." He straightened slowly.


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"Just's you like," she said, making no attempt to dissemble an indifference that almost amounted to disdain. "On'y I don't want no more olagging round an' bringing muck in th' 'ouse."

The foreman was content to accept this bare form of acquiescence, which probably comprehended the whole of his wife's interest in the affair. It consoled him somewhat in any case to be rid of minor preoccupations.

Mr Eke, in spite of his undertaking, did not put in an appearance on the following night. To Luke Grimmer suspense was an irreligious surrender, but he suffered none the less from an ache of small conjecture, and counted it an act of Providence when, during the next morning, an errand to the village procured him an encounter with his delinquent ally.

"It was late, bor," said Mr Eke, in explanation of his absence of the preceding night. "D'ye see, we got harguin'. Howers we must 'a bin. But I couldn't mek nothin' on 'em."

"Ah," said the foreman, spinning the pedal of his bioyole with his foot. "Well, I expected nothin' else. I've no I've no right to murmur."

"Nothin' on 'em," repeated Mr Eke, with an expression of discontent which was partly due to his recollections. "That Siggie, 'e was all for 'im. All for 'im, bor. 'Ar,' I ses to 'im, 'what about that barrer you bruk?'"

"Bruk a barrer I lent 'im," he added in parenthesis. "I

orter knowed better'n lend a feller like that it."

"They were mostly in Merrishaw's be'alf, then?" said the other, looking up.

Mr Eke, using the hoe on which he was leaning as 8 swivel, changed his direction half-left.

"What I mean," he said. "All on 'em wadn't for 'im, but them as was for 'im was all for 'im."


He stopped and added with some diffidence: "D'ye see what I mean, like?"

The foreman nodded. "It p'r'aps med no difference," he said, "me not going, I mean." "It did an' all," said Mr Eke obdurately. "That was what they was gitting arter me about. 'Why ain't 'e 'ere?' they ses. I ses: 'You don't wanter git arter me.""

Luke Grimmer looked at him with eyes that began to glow.

"Did you tell 'em why I wadn't there?" he said. "Did you tell 'em I was trew to my princerple?"

“Ar . · · I telled 'em," said Mr Eke, breaking into a mottled blush. "They're rum fellers, some on 'em. 'The man's a right to do as he likes,' I ses. 'Some on you git too fond o' your beer,' I ses.'

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"I put my princerple before all worldly gain," he said slowly. "My conscience tells me 'ow I ought to do. . . . If I offend one o' these little ones, it'd be better for me to 'ave a millstone tied round my neck an' chucked into the sea."

"Very like," said Mr Eke, judging by the sound of this passage that he would gain nothing by an attempt to elucidate its meaning. "On'y you can't mek some on 'em see it."

"Well, it's due to you-to all them as supported me-to know 'ow I stand," said the foreman. "When I see Tuke or Tegerdine I shall tell 'em the same as I've told you."

Mr Eke adjusted his cap so as to shelter his features, to some extent, from a direct scrutiny.

"Ar," he said. "That Tegerdine's a rum feller. A rum feller, mister."

"What?" said the foreman, looking up quickly. "Did 'e vote for Merrishaw?"

"E did an' all," returned Mr Eke, clearing his throat. "I ses to 'im, 'What sort o' game do you reckon this is?' 'E ses, Niver you mind.' I ses, 'Ar, well, you're a Bolshiek.' It med 'em larf."

He glanced furtively from beneath his cap, with the beginnings of a self-conscious smile.

"Med some on 'em larf," he amended austerely. "They'll larf at anythink, some on 'em." The foreman roused himself from a sort of quick trance.

"I bear no bad will," he

said almost sharply. "Iv'ry man's a right. . .

He threw a leg over his bicycle.

"One thing," he said, gazing fixedly down the road, "our 'ands is set to the plough, an' there must be no lookin' back. I'm as willin' as iver, now we've got a canderdate, to work for the cause in whatsoiver way I'm thought fit. You tell 'em that, Fred Eke."

"They'll want you an' all, bor," said Mr Eke sombrely. "That rewd Merrishaw's no good on'y at mockin' a people.' The foreman nodded slightly and mounted his bicycle.

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"Maybe," he said, speaking over his shoulder as he urged the machine forward. "Maybe not. Thank you kindly, Fred Eke, for all you've done."

For more than a week Luke Grimmer lived in an enforced detachment that was only rendered endurable by his observance of a certain private ritual, without which, to him, the sacrifice of his ambition would not have seemed complete. He prayed nightly for the success of the chosen candidate, and preached at the local chapel from texts SO allusive 88 to be almost topical. On the tenth day he was approached by a deputation, and asked to speak at a meeting on behalf of the "oause": the deputation ingenuously counted the choice of this word unto themselves as righteousness. Mr Merrishaw himself possessed eloquence beyond easy aptitude for informal conversation: his gifts in this



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