Thursday broke clear and windy鈥攍ittle curls of cloud flew high against spreads of watery blue, and the wind raced over Boarzell, smelling of wet furrows. As usual[Pg 163] everyone at Odiam was going to the Fair鈥攅ven Mrs. Backfield, for Reuben said that he would not let the girls go without her. Caro and Tilly were now fifteen and sixteen, and their father began to have fears lest they should marry and leave him. Tilly especially, with her creamy complexion like Naomi's, and her little tip-tilted nose, freckled over the bridge, gave him anxious times. He sternly discouraged any of the neighbouring farmers' sons who seemed inclined to call; he was not going to lose his daughters just when Mrs. Backfield's poor health made them indispensable. It could not be long before his mother died鈥攁lready her bouts of rheumatism were so severe that she was practically crippled each winter鈥攁nd when she died Tilly and Caro must take her place..