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Opening the door, he staggered in and dropped into a chair without taking off his sodden coat, and he made no protest when Lizzie tugged his boots from his feet while Ruth loosened his scarf and coat and held him up while she pulled them from him. He had no need to pretend tonight that he was ill, at least physically, for the first day’s work had taken it out of him, and the trail back from Westoe had been the last straw onlinecasinoitaliani.

When later in the evening Jimmy, by way of comfort, whispered to him, ‘When we go to the yard it’ll be easier for you, you could cut from the office to the boatyard in five minutes,’ he nodded at him while at the same time thinking, not without scorn, The boatyard! With thirty-five pounds he could have got himself a mortgage on a decent house. Slowly it came to him the reason why he had allowed himself to become saddled with the boatyard. It wasn’t only because he wanted to kill two birds with one stone: marry Janie and give Jimmy something of his own to live and work for; it was because he wanted to get away from here, from the kitchen; and now from their concern for his mental state, which must be bad, so they thought, when he still wouldn’t go and see his best friend, and him in prison.

Only last night when he said good-bye to Janie the rooms over the boatyard had appeared to him like a haven. And later, as he lay awake staring into the blackness listening to Jimmy’s untroubled breathing, he had thought, Once we get there, once I’m married, I’ll see it all differently. Then like a child and with no semblance of Rory Connor, he had buried his face in the pillow and cried from deep within him, ‘I’ll make it up to him when he comes out. I’ll make him understand. He’ll see I could do nothing about it at the time ’cos I was too bad. He’ll understand. Being John George, he’ll understand. And I’ll make it up to him, I will. I will.’

But now, after his visit to Birchingham House, he was seeing the boat house for what it was, a tumbledown riverside shack, and he thought, I must have been mad to pay thirty-five pounds for the goodwill of that. Look where it’s landed me. And the gate shut once again on his thinking as an inner voice said, ‘Aye; and John George.’

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