‘Well now, what about a smoke, while you tell us what has been happening in the Shire?’ he said.
‘There isn’t no pipe-weed now,’ said Hob; ‘at least only for the Chief’s men. All the stocks seem to have gone. We do hear that waggon-loads of it went away down the old road out of the Southfarthing, over Sarn Ford way. That would be the end o’ last year, after you left. But it had been going away quietly before that, in a small way. That Lotho-‘
‘Now you shut up, Hob Hayward!’ cried several of the others. ‘You know talk o’ that sort isn’t allowed. The Chief will hear of it, and we’ll all be in trouble.’
‘He wouldn’t hear naught, if some of you here weren’t sneaks,’ rejoined Hob hotly.