The quote comes from pages 396-397
Two days later, Reece drove Kevin the long way round to join the celebrations.
"I'm still surprised they invited me," he said as the ugly mare clopped up the gentle slope to the farm.
"Mrs Southerham invited you.. Mr Southerham usually does as she tells him."
Kevin grinned. "Well, I'm glad to have some company, I am indeed, not to mention a good meal. And if you and your young lady will speak to me from time to time, I'll be satisfied to sit quietly and try not to upset my host too much."
When Reece helped him down, Kevin took the bottle of port wine he'd brought as a gift and presented it to his host with a small bow.
"Thank you" Francis said stiffly.
"Just what we needed to crown our celebrations," Liva said.
It was the strangest Christmas he'd ever had, Reece thought. A hot day, still too warm for coats or wraps even after the sun had gone down. They ate outside a the table, spread for the occasion with a white cloth. There were no church bells pealing, only the rustling of trees and the occasional call of a boobook owl, which sounded more like a cuckoo than an owl.
Reece joined in the hymn singing, his eyes meeting Cassandra's and their voices blending well together.
"It gladdens my heart to see those two," Kevin murmured to Livia as the song finished. "He's a good man, Reece is."
"Yes. They're well matched, I think."
As the two men drove back through a moonlit landscape, Kevin said quietly, "I like your young lady."
"So do I! I just hope I can make a good life for us here."
"If hard work will do it, you'll succeed."
"Sometimes fate won't let you succeed."
"No." Kevin fell silent, staring ahead, clearly lost in his own thoughts, and Reece could have kicked himself for making that remark.
"It's all right, lad." Kevin patted Reece's hand. "It's not what you said that's upsetting me. Christmas always brings back memories. It was the last meal I shared with my family, you see. I only saw them once afterwards, and that was across a courtroom.