red plush buttons. She glanced at the big, hollow sandstone slab of the threshold, now crossed by so few feet.

`But it's lovely here,' she said. `Such a beautiful stillness, everything alive and still.'

He was eating again, rather slowly and unwillingly, and she could feel he was discouraged. She made the tea in silence, and set the tea-pot on the hob, as she knew the people did. He pushed his plate aside and went to the back place; she heard a latch click, then he came back with cheese on a plate, and butter.

She set the two cups on the table; there were only two. `Will you have a cup of tea?' she said.

`If you like. Sugar's in th' cupboard, an' there's a little cream jug. Milk's in a jug in th' pantry.'

`Shall I take your plate away?' she asked him. He looked up at her with a faint ironical smile.

`Why...if you like,' he said, slowly eating bread and cheese. She went to the back, into the pent-house scullery, where the pump was. On the left was a door, no doubt the pantry door. She unlatched it, and almost smiled at the place he called a pantry; a long narrow white-washed slip of a cupboard. But it managed to contain a little barrel of beer, as well as a few dishes and bits of food. She took a little milk from the yellow jug.

`How do you get your milk?' she asked him, when she came back to the table.

`Flints! They leave me a bottle at the warren end. You know, where I met you!'

But he was discouraged. She poured out the tea, poising the cream-jug.

`No milk,' he said; then he seemed to hear a noise, and looked keenly through the doorway.

`'Appen we'd better shut,' he said.

`It seems a pity,' she replied. `Nobody will come, will they?'

`Not unless it's one time in a thousand, but you never know.'

`And even then it's no matter,' she said. `It's only a cup of tea.'

`Where are the spoons?'

He reached over, and pulled open the table drawer. Connie sat at the table in the sunshine of the doorway.

`Flossie!' he said to the dog, who was lying on a little mat at the stair foot. `Go an' hark, hark!'

He lifted his finger, and his `hark!' was very vivid. The dog trotted out to reconnoitre.

`Are you sad today?' she asked him.

He turned his blue eyes quickly, and gazed direct on her.

`Sad! no, bored! I had to go getting summonses for two poachers I caught, and, oh well, I don't like people.'

He spoke cold, good English, and there was anger in his voice. `Do you hate being a game-keeper?' she asked.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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