Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday 5th March 1944

Long after midnight, April lying beside me in my arms, suddenly stopped talking. The silence that followed was like a silence between us (I remembered) once before – the night we went to the Ferry Boat Inn, when I ran my car onto the grass at the side of the road and stopped.

April seemed very long as she lay so – much longer than 5 foot 3 inches! and still. I moved my head away across the pillow to see her better. There was a mature sort of look about her shadowy face; outlined against the glow from the fire I could see a curve of cheek bone and an untidy lock of hair standing up above it.

I thought triumphantly, “What I can see now – will remain! This can't vanish in a few years! When she is old, she will still have that curve of high cheek bone and that loose wisp of hair. This part of her beauty cannot vanish!” And I also thought an unusual thought: “NOW I AM HAPPY”

One seldom thinks that; one may remember wistfully, “Ah! Then I was happy,” or one may think hopefully, “Tomorrow I shall be happy”; But happiness usually passes so quickly that the fine moment of it has flown from the future to the past before one can seize and hold it. Now, however, as my wife snuggled against me, I knew and held happiness before it was gone.

Soon afterwards, I leaned across and switched off the fire, so that enough of the kind unknown's shillings-worth should be left to provide us with gas in the morning.

... Hours... “Can you feel my heart beating? Ever so fast...” whispered my comrade, my other self, who surely had never quarrelled with me and never would! “Yes” I whispered. At this moment, from nowhere as it seemed (but actually I believe, from the folds of a tiny handkerchief which had been clutched in the middle of my back for some time) the heavy gold ring slipped on to the third finger of my left hand, to rest there for good.

Est perpetua! Apparently there was something between us then, that ought to last for ever! Before, I had been happy. Now I was also contented.

“What time is it?” “Eight” “When must we be down for breakfast?” “Half-past nine.” “My God, what an unearthly hour!”

At Hampstead in the afternoon, I felt happy, too. It was warm and with April there and some at least of my possessions about me, it seemed like home.

“Was it a standing-up ceremony when the ring was put on?' enquired Pat urgently. “Well...” said April dubiously. “Oh! I thought of you, Pat...” I said evasively. “Say no more!” cried Pat with a wave of the hand.

We made plans. If, with this new job, I was to stay at Woolwich, we'd find a couple of rooms somewhere and April would come and I'd get a sleeping out pass and we'd have some sort of home.

It was queer, when we were at Liverpool Street, standing beside the carriage door and the moment of parting was upon us, I felt no sadness and I don't think April did either. Nor did we feel uneasy as everyone does when parting at railway stations, everything being said and nothing remaining to be done except mumble platitudes and watch the clock. We had lots to say, even when the good-bye was so close that April had to get inside and lean out of the window. “Probably something will happen now,” I said cheerfully, “I'll get sent away or something, now that we're planning for a home.” “Of course! As soon as you see a rift in the dark clouds...”

The train moved. “Feel esto for the last time!” I cried, putting my gloved hand into April's hands. She leaned forward swiftly and felt it – with her lips.


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