That's more like the truth, I suppose.
Well, you'll lead a soft enough life with them, I daresay.
No doubt they're kindly people when you know them."
"They've been kinder to me than anyone else in Cornwall since my mother died; that's the only thing that matters to me.
But I'm not staying at North Hill for all that."
"Oh, you're not?"
"No; I'm going back home to Helford."
"What will you do there?"
"I shall try and start the farm again, or at least work my way to it, for I haven't the money yet.
But I've friends there, and friends in Helston too, that will help me at the beginning."
"Where will you live?"
"There's not a cottage in the village I couldn't call home if I wanted to.
We're neighbourly in the south, you know."
"I've never had neighbours, so I cannot contradict you, but I've had the feeling always it would be like living in a box, to live in a village.
You poke your nose over your gate into another man's garden, and if his potatoes are larger than your own there's a talking upon it, and argument; and you know if you cook a rabbit for your supper he'll have the sniff of it in his kitchen.
Damn it, Mary, that's no life for anyone."
She laughed at him, for his nose was wrinkled in disgust, and then she ran her eye over his laden cart and the confusion he had there.
"What are you doing with that?" she asked him.
"I've got a hatred for my neighbourhood the same as you," he said. "I want to get away from the smell of peat and bog, and the sight of Kilmar yonder, with his ugly face frowning upon me from dusk till dawn.
Here's my home, Mary, all I've ever had of it, here in the cart, and I'll take it with me and set it up wherever my fancy takes me.
I've been a rover since a boy; never any ties, nor roots, nor fancies for a length of time; and I daresay I'll die a rover, too.
It's the only life in the world for me."
"There's no peace, Jem, in wandering, and no quiet.
Heaven knows that existence itself is a long enough journey, without adding to the burden.
There'll come a time when you'll want your own plot of ground, and your four walls, and your roof, and somewhere to lay your poor tired bones."
"The whole country belongs to me, Mary, if it comes to that, with the sky for a roof and the earth for a bed. You don't understand.
You're a woman, and your home is your kingdom, and all the little familiar things of day to day.
I've never lived like that and never shall.
I'll sleep on the hills one night, and in a city the next.
I like to seek my fortune here and there and everywhere, with strangers for company and passers-by for friends.
Today I meet a man upon the road and journey with him for an hour or for a year; and tomorrow he is gone again.
We speak a different language, you and I."
Mary went on with her patting of the horse, the good flesh warm and damp beneath her hand, and Jem watched her, the ghost of a smile on his lips.
"Which way will you go?" she said.
"Somewhere east of Tamar, it doesn't matter to me," he said. "I'll never come west again, not until I'm old and grey, and have forgotten a lot of things.
I thought of striking north after Gunnislake and making for the midlands.
They're rich up there and ahead of everyone; there'll be fortune there for a man who goes to find it.
Perhaps I'll have money in my pockets one day and buy horses for pleasure instead of stealing them."
"It's an ugly black country in the midlands," said Mary.
"I don't bother about the colour of the soil," he answered. "Moorland peat is black, isn't it?
And so's the rain when it falls into your pigsties down at Helford.
What's the difference?"
"You just talk for argument, Jem; there's no sense in what you say."
"How can I be sensible when you lean against my horse, with your wild daft hair entangled in his mane, and I know that in five or ten minutes time I shall be over the hill yonder without you, my face turned towards the Tamar and you walking back to North Hill to drink tea with Squire Bassat?"
"Delay your journey, then, and come to North Hill, too."
"Don't be a damned fool, Mary.
Can you see me drinking tea with the squire, and dancing his children on my knee?
I don't belong to his class, neither do you."
"I know that.
And I am going back to Helford because of it.