Anne Severn and the Fieldings (Chapter 8, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 8

i Autumn had passed. Colin's couch was drawn up before the fire in the
drawing-room. Anne sat with him there.

He was better. He could listen for half an hour at a time when Anne read
to him--poems, short stories, things that were ended before Colin tired
of them. He ate and drank hungrily and his body began to get back its
strength.

At noon, when the winter sun shone, he walked, first up and down the
terrace, then round and round the garden, then to the beech trees at the
top of the field, and then down the hill to the Manor Farm. On mild days
she drove him about the country in the dog-cart. She had tried motoring
but had had to give it up because Colin was frightened at the hooting,
grinding and jarring of the car.

As winter went on Anne found that Colin was no worse in cold or wet
weather. He couldn't stand the noise and rush of the wind, but his
strange malady took no count of rain or snow. He shivered in the clear,
still frost, but it braced him all the same. Driving or strolling, she
kept him half the day in the open air.

She saw that he liked best the places they had gone to when they were
children--the Manor Farm fields, High Slaughter, and Hayes Mill. They
were always going to the places where they had done things together.
When Colin talked sanely he was back in those times. He was safe there.
There, if anywhere, he could find his real self and be well.

She had the feeling that Colin's future lay somewhere through his past.
If only she could get him back there, so that he could be what he had
been. There must be some way of joining up that time to this, if only
she could find a bridge, a link. She didn't know that she was the way,
she was the link binding his past to his present, bound up with his
youth, his happiness, his innocence, with the years before Queenie and
the War.

She didn't know what Queenie had done to him. She didn't know that the
war had only finished what Queenie had begun. That was Colin's secret,
the hidden source of his fear.

But he was safe with Anne because they were not in love with each other.
She left his senses at rest, and her affection never called for any
emotional response. She took him away from his fear; she kept him back
in his childhood, in his boyhood, in the years before Queenie, with a
continual, "Do you remember?"

"Do you remember the walk to High Slaughter?"

"Do you remember the booby-trap we set for poor Pinkney?"

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