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‘You’re a man and they all do. Me grannie . . .’

‘Blast your grannie! Blast her to hell’s flames! She’s old. Things were different in her day.’

‘Not that. That wasn’t any different. Never will be. It’s the only thing a woman’s really looked down on for. Even if you were to steal you wouldn’t have a stamp put on you like you would have if . . . if you had a bairn onlinecasinosvizzera.com.’

‘You won’t have . . .’

‘Rory, no. I tell you no. We’ve waited this long, what’s a few more months?’

‘I could be dead, you could be dead.’

‘We’ll have to take a chance on that.’

‘You know, Janie, you’re hard; there’s a hard streak in you, always has been about some things . . .’

‘I’m not.’ Her voice was trembling. ‘I’m not hard.’

‘Yes you are . . .’

‘I’m not. I’m not.’

‘All right, all right. Aw, don’t cry. I’m sorry, I am. Don’t cry.’

‘I’m not hard.’

‘No, you’re not, you’re lovely . . . It’s all right. Look, it’s all right; I just want to hold you.’

When his arms went about her she jerked herself from his hold once more and going to the window, stood stiffly looking down on to the river, and he stood as stiffly watching her. Only his jaw moved as his teeth ground against each other.

She drew in a deep breath now and, her head turning from one side to the other, she looked up and down the river. As far as her eyes could see both to the right and to the left the banks were lined with craft, ships of all types and sizes, from little scullers, wherries and tugs to great funnelled boats, and here and there a masted ship, its lines standing out separate and graceful from the great iron hulks alongside.

Rory now came slowly to the window and, putting his arm around her shoulders and his manner softened, he said, ‘Look. Look along there. You see that boat with a figurehead on it—there’s a fine lass for you . . . Look at her bust, I bet that’s one of Thomas Anderson’s pieces, and I’ll bet he enjoyed makin’ it.’

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