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walk about the country all day long, with nothing
but a biscuit in his pocket and nobody bothered
about him, or thought that he had fallen over a
cliff. He said aloud he thought he would be off
for a day's walk if the weather held. He had
had about enough of Bankes and of Carmichael.
He would like a little solitude. Yes, she said. It
annoyed him that she did not protest. She knew
that he would never do it. He was too old now to
walk all day long with a biscuit in his pocket.
She worried about the boys, but not about him.
Years ago, before he had married, he thought,
looking across the bay, as they stood between the
clumps of red-hot pokers, he had walked all day.
He had made a meal off bread and cheese in a
public house. He had worked ten hours at a
stretch; an old woman just popped her head in
now and again and saw to the fire. That was the
country he liked best, over there; those sandhills
dwindling away into darkness. One could walk
all day without meeting a soul. There was not a
house scarcely, not a single village for miles on
end. One could worry things out alone. There
were little sandy beaches where no one had been
since the beginning of time. The seals sat up and
looked at you. It sometimes seemed to him that
in a little house out there, alone—he broke off,
sighing. He had no right. The father of eight