A Word Child
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After years of obscurity in a Bayswater flat, Oxford graduate Hilary Burde ha the opportunity to atone for a grievous offense which he committed twenty ye earlier.
knew scarcely more about it myself. This was to be the escape route. For of course, as I worked away at irregular verbs and gerundives and sequence of tenses I was working not only for myself but for Crystal. I would rescue her and take her with me. And when I had learnt everything, I would teach her. At fourteen I had been a small though muscular imp. At sixteen I was a six-foot adolescent. With Mr Osmand and my new talents and my new ambition I feared no one. I visited Crystal whenever I
head of a mean and petty cynicism placed upon me and I had worn it. I closed my eyes and ground my teeth at the thought of the things I had said and the tone I had used. And how I would remember and remember! Gunnar had claimed to have me tunelessly available: and I too had with me forever this image of the thing that I had seemed, that I had been. I had accepted Gunnar’s implied assumption that I did not care deeply, that I had become a little smart hard sarcastic resentful man. Did he believe
I was in despair. I suffered an agony of remorse about Anne which bit me physically, doubling me up for whole parts of the day. I had a problem about responsibility for the past which became a problem of identity. I mourned and mourned about the destruction of my hopes. The loss of Oxford, of learning and scholarship and improvement, the loss of Crystal’s metamorphosis and Crystal’s happiness. I went back to the north and lived for a year with Crystal in one room in the town where I was born.
wedding shopping together. Will you have a white wedding, Hilary dear?’ ‘Don’t be a dope, Laura.’ ‘What would you like as a wedding present?’ ‘A single ticket to Australia.’ ‘Now then, Hilary, you’re not going to be allowed to escape, is he, Tommy? Men are always terrified of it, aren’t they. I remember how scared Freddie was. I practically had to keep him handcuffed.’ ‘Nonsense, darling, it was you who were ready to bolt!’ ‘Will you get married on the same day as Arthur and Crystal?’
if the world had begun, during the hours of darkness, to exude a minutely complicated crystalline plumage which, precariously still, rising high upon the thinnest topmost twigs of the immobile trees, appeared a silvery grey against a sky by contrast so blue as to seem indigo, to seem almost brilliantly leaden. We had come out into the open beside the water. Not at Peter Pan, my carefree running steps had had the awareness to avoid that; we were in the next bay, the nearest one to the bridge. The