Anne Severn and the Fieldings (Chapter 1, page 1 of 18)


 
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Chapter 1

i Anne Severn had come again to the Fieldings. This time it was because
her mother was dead.

She hadn't been in the house five minutes before she asked "Where's
Jerrold?"

"Fancy," they said, "her remembering."

And Jerrold had put his head in at the door and gone out again when he
saw her there in her black frock; and somehow she had known he was
afraid to come in because her mother was dead.

Her father had brought her to Wyck-on-the-Hill that morning, the day
after the funeral. He would leave her there when he went back to India.

She was walking now down the lawn between the two tall men. They were
taking her to the pond at the bottom where the goldfish were. It was
Jerrold's father who held her hand and talked to her. He had a nice
brown face marked with a lot of little fine, smiling strokes, and his
eyes were quick and kind.

"You remember the goldfish, Anne?"

"I remember everything."

She had been such a little girl before, and they said she had forgotten.

But she remembered so well that she always thought of Mr. Fielding as
Jerrold's father. She remembered the pond and the goldfish. Jerrold held
her tight so that she shouldn't tumble in. She remembered the big grey
and yellow house with its nine ball-topped gables; and the lawn, shut in
by clipped yew hedges, then spreading downwards, like a fan, from the
last green terrace where the two enormous peacocks stood, carved out of
the yew.

Where it lay flat and still under the green wall she saw the tennis
court. Jerrold was there, knocking balls over the net to please little
Colin. She could see him fling back his head and laugh as Colin ran
stumbling, waving his racquet before him like a stiff flag. She heard
Colin squeal with excitement as the balls flew out of his reach.

Her father was talking about her. His voice was sharp and anxious.

"I don't know how she'll get on with your boys." (He always talked about
Anne as if she wasn't there.) "Ten's an awkward age. She's too old for
Colin and too young for Eliot and Jerrold."

She knew their ages. Colin was only seven. Eliot, the clever one, was
very big; he was fifteen. Jerrold was thirteen.

She heard Jerrold's father answering in his quiet voice.

"You needn't worry. Jerry'll look after Anne all right."

"And Adeline."

"Oh yes, of course, Adeline." (Only somehow he made it sound as if she
wouldn't.) Adeline was Mrs. Fielding. Jerrold's mother.

 
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