Listening in the hall, Lucy heard her mama suggest that maybe they should go, that maybe they had no choice. She didn’t understand what was meant by that, or what it was that would quieten. She moved closer to the slightly open door because the voices were lower than they had been.

-We have to think of her, Everard.

-I know.

And in the kitchen Bridget said:

-The Morells have gone from Clashmore.

"I heard." Henry’s slow enunciation reached Lucy in the dog passage, which was what the passage that led from the kitchen to the back door was called. "I heard that all right."

"Past seventy they are now."

Henry said nothing for a moment, then remarked that at times like these the worst was always assumed, the benefit of any doubt going the wrong way in any misfortune there’d be. The Gouvernets had gone from Aglish, he said, the Priors from Ringville, the Swifts, the Boyces. Everywhere, what you heard about was the going.

Does it mean: they are now more than seventy?

I think "they" refer to Morells

Source: The Story of Lucy Gault by William trevor

  • It means they are past the age of seventy. Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


Past seventy they are now.

This has the same meaning as the more typical order:

They are now past seventy.

“past” for ages means “older than”. We sometimes look at age (or time generally) as a metaphorical distance that people travel, and to say someone has passed a certain age means they are now older than that age.

  • Alternatively, it might mean that a group has more than seventy members. Its hard to tell from the context given.
    – nick012000
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 1:20
  • @StephenS, so you mean: They are older than seventy? but I think they are a group and beacuse of that I think "past" here means "more than". is it ever correct to say: past=more than. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 8:04

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