Anne Severn and the Fieldings (Chapter 9, page 1 of 9)

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Chapter 9

i At last, in March, nineteen-sixteen, Jerrold had got leave.

Anne was right; Jerrold had come through because he had had to stand up
to the War and face it. He couldn't turn away. It was too stupendous a
fact to be ignored or denied or in any way escaped from. And as he had
to "take" it, he took it laughing. Once in the thick of it, Jerrold was
sustained by his cheerful obstinacy, his inability to see the things he
didn't want to see. He admitted that there was a war, the most appalling
war, if you liked, that had ever been; but he refused, all the time, to
believe that the Allies would lose it; he refused from moment to moment
to believe that they could be beaten in any single action; he denied the
possibility of disaster to his own men. Disaster to himself--possibly;
probably, in theory; but not in practice. Not when he turned back in the
rain of the enemy's fire to find his captain who had dropped wounded
among the dead, when he swung him over his shoulder and staggered to the
nearest stretcher. He knew he would get through. It was inconceivable to
Jerrold that he should not get through. Even in his fifth engagement,
when his men broke and gave back in front of the German parapet, and he
advanced alone, shouting to them to come on, it was inconceivable that
they should not come on. And when they saw him, running forward by
himself, they gathered again and ran after him and the trench was taken
in a mad rush.

Jerrold got his captaincy and two weeks' leave together. He had meant to
spend three days in London with his mother, three days in Yorkshire with
the Durhams, and the rest of his time at Upper Speed with Anne and
Colin. He was not quite sure whether he wanted to go to the Durhams.
More than anything he wanted to see Anne again.

His last unbearable memory of her was wiped out by five years of India
and a year of war. He remembered the child Anne who played with him, the
girl Anne who went about with him, and the girl woman he had found in
her room at dawn. He tried to join on to her the image of the Anne that
Eliot wrote to him about, who had gone out to the war and come back from
it to look after Colin. He was in love with this image of her and ready
to be in love again with the real Anne. He would go back now and find
her and make her care for him.

There had been a time, after his father's death, when he had tried to
make himself think that Anne had never cared for him, because he didn't
want to think she cared. Now that he did want it he wasn't sure.

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