"[The Golden Arrow*] was followed up promptly by another Shropshire saga, Gone to Earth (1917), in which Webb hit her grim groove. It was well reviewed. Amazingly. Rebecca West chose it as her book of the year - something one can only ascribe to a critical neurosis triggered by the war (going badly for the Allies in 1917) and her disastrous affair with H.G. Wells .... The novel's heroine, Hazel Woodus, is one of Webb's hallmark children of nature, a denizen of the woods, hills and streams - with something of the witch (as her mother was) about her. She carries with her a fragrance of 'morning air' and her soulmate is a pet fox, 'Foxy'. Her father makes coffins - ominously. Ominous too is the opening paragraph [as Simon quotes].
... Delectable Hazel catches the eye of the local squire, a hunting man, Jack Reddin. One glimpses, as in a distorting mirror, reflections of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. To cut a long story short (which Webb doesn't), Hazel has to choose between two legs or four. The novel ends with him leading a hunt (tally ho!) in which, to save Foxy, Hazel scoops the beast in her arms and plunges down a mine shaft. Liebestod."
*Sutherland goes on to tell us that in 1928 "a smart young journalist on the Evening Standard, Stella Gibbons, was given the job of editing The Golden Arrow for serialisation in the paper. The result four years later was the witty spoof, Cold Comfort Farm ..."
I knew, of course, that the terrifically funny Cold Comfort Farm was a parody of, amongst others, Mary Webb's work, but not that Stella Gibbons had had a professional connection with the earlier book.