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She had been a fool, and now she was paying the price of folly, which is always so much heavier than the price of sin. Here she was at twenty-five, prematurely old, exhausted, sick of life, and utterly alone. There[Pg 104] was no one to turn to in her wretchedness. Her neighbours were incapable of giving her real help or sympathy, Mrs. Backfield invariably took Reuben's part and resented the slightest criticism of him, old Gasson was hard and selfish, and not particularly interested in his daughter.