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The Freelands by John Galsworthy
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THE FREELANDS

By John Galsworthy




"Liberty's a glorious feast."--Burns.




PROLOGUE


One early April afternoon, in a Worcestershire field, the only field in
that immediate landscape which was not down in grass, a man moved slowly
athwart the furrows, sowing--a big man of heavy build, swinging his
hairy brown arm with the grace of strength. He wore no coat or hat; a
waistcoat, open over a blue-checked cotton shirt, flapped against belted
corduroys that were somewhat the color of his square, pale-brown face
and dusty hair. His eyes were sad, with the swimming yet fixed stare of
epileptics; his mouth heavy-lipped, so that, but for the yearning eyes,
the face would have been almost brutal. He looked as if he suffered from
silence. The elm-trees bordering the field, though only just in leaf,
showed dark against a white sky. A light wind blew, carrying already a
scent from the earth and growth pushing up, for the year was early.
The green Malvern hills rose in the west; and not far away, shrouded by
trees, a long country house of weathered brick faced to the south. Save
for the man sowing, and some rooks crossing from elm to elm, no life