Friday, March 23, 2007

Last Chapter

Preface

The date is June 3rd – a long interval has elapsed since my journal ended. I found it easier not to write than I had expected. Got used to it. Now, I shall not end this forever, like a book of fiction. Silly idea!

But I’ll just refer to a few things I’d like to write about if my decision did not stop me.

June 3rd, is it? Well, a month ago tonight at this time… Evening dusk…budding trees around... they sat on a tree stump and whispered – silly things which yet were not silly! And later, when darkness had come, they were standing at the head of a beautiful waterfall. She, high on a rock - aloof, silent, mysterious; he below, reaching up to hold her tightly.

Soon afterwards – that rainy morning by the river when he kissed her, struggling vainly, then ran because he was late for work!

Then the night they went to Windsor and returned late at night by train (How fatuous their talk was becoming!) They kissed as the train ran into Staines station – the last, though perhaps neither knew it.

Purposeless conversation… things not meant… change… then letters exchanged… then, for no rational reason it seemed, - conclusion.

Whitsuntide! Away, away from conventions and fears and worries. Away to camp.
Swift, thoughtless days, gone far too soon. He returned happily, though bruised and limping painfully. One morning as he limped slowly towards the Works she ran after him, wishing to know what had happened. Carefully casual conversation for a few minutes. “Isn’t the sun hot?” “Yes, it looks like being a pleasant day”

(1982 Re read nearly 50 years later by an old man, these fragments of the end of “Part One” still evoke a wistful sadness. I shall never know or remember with whom or where I went to camp, that Whitsuntide. I wish now that I had been less cryptic in my report.)

He did not seem to care much, God being so kind – the rise at work – his good progress there – and prospects of success.

The time came for him to decide – travelling or technical work – and he chose to stay on the works staff. But he would have liked to consult her first.

Those jolly evenings at digs came to an end, the jolly men went away. A crowning finish with many practical jokes and laughter. Trousers and pyjamas sewn up, beds made into mantraps.

(As I write this I can hear music, faintly – “The Londonderry Air”)

Now the digs were quiet – no shouts, or yarning or laughter.
TocH seemed dull, as always, with it’s members clever and critical, still.

At work all was well. Evenings – and afternoons at the weekends though – dullness and loneliness and depression creeping in. The Pageant rehearsals acted like a drug –stimulating into gaiety then leaving a black mood darker than before.

A month ago…they sat together in the woods.
Now, coming to the present… a night ago…

Crowds of people sat in the Pageant stands, watching a full dress rehearsal. He sat beside a casual friend, a girl. (Audrey?) She sat just in front of him and sometimes leaned back, so that her dress brushed his knee. A young man in love sat beside her.
Her familiar scent – it’s fragrance drifted back. She had seen him and sat down there of set purpose, the devil! “A dashed amusing situation!” he said to the girl beside him. She agreed, though she could not know what he meant…

Then, when the girl in front rose to go, unobserved by her escort she flashed the other a swift look. The look he knew so well, full of mockery and enjoyment and something else unknown. They did not speak. Damn the blackness. Damn it.

Here ends White Dew.

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