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Chapter 23 (continued)
'Just like this for the rest of our lives!' he murmured, taking in the farm-grounds and all that in them stood with one glassy stare of misery. 'Nothing but ghastly bees and sweeping floors and fetching water till we die of old age! That is, if those blighters don't put me in jail for getting that money out of them. How was I to know that it was obtaining money under false pretences? It simply seemed to me a darned good way of collecting a few dollars. I don't see how I'm ever going to pay them back, so I suppose it's prison for me all right.'
Elizabeth had been trying not to listen to him, but without success.
'I'll look after that, Nutty. I have a little money saved up, enough to pay off what you owe. I was saving it for something else, but never mind.'
'Awfully good of you,' said Nutty, but his voice sounded almost disappointed. He was in the frame of mind which resents alleviation of its gloom. He would have preferred at that moment to be allowed to round off the picture of the future which he was constructing in his mind with a reel or two showing himself brooding in a cell. After all, what difference did it make to a man of spacious tastes whether he languished for the rest of his life in a jail or on a farm in the country? Jail, indeed, was almost preferable. You knew where you were when you were in prison. They didn't spring things on you. Whereas life on a farm was nothing but one long succession of things sprung on you. Now that Lord Dawlish had gone, he supposed that Elizabeth would make him help her with the bees again. At this thought he groaned aloud. When he contemplated a lifetime at Flack's, a lifetime of bee-dodging and carpet-beating and water-lugging, and reflected that, but for a few innocent words--words spoken, mark you, in a pure spirit of kindliness and brotherly love with the object of putting a bit of optimistic pep into sister!--he might have been in a position to touch a millionaire brother-in-law for the needful whenever he felt disposed, the iron entered into Nutty's soul. A rotten, rotten world!
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