Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Be Wished So Much Good Was Lovely

A man stopped and spoke to me as I sat in the field near Petersfield, eating my bread and honey and watching the sunset rage across the sky.

     “That’s a sight, ain’t it!”, he said, wrinkling the skin around his eyes and showing all his teeth in a wild grin.

     “Yes, it’s fine.”

   “Over in a minute, though,” he mused.  He gave me another grin.

   “Where are you going to spend the night, then – under a haystack?”  He seemed to find me very amusing;  I had the impression that he was just able to keep back his chuckles.

     “I shall go to the Youth Hostel at Harting, if I can find the way,” I said.

           “It’ll be dark before you get there,” he told me, still with the grin on his face.  The sunset had turned his skin orange, and against this the row of large white teeth were startling.  A yellow cow’s lick of hair curled round on his forehead.  It was a nice  fresh, clownish face.

         “Why are you smiling at me?” I asked suddenly.

     “Oh, I dunno, you look as though you was enjoying yourself, eating all that bread and honey out in the open.”

           “I am,” I said.

     I turned and looked straight into his eyes;  they seemed to be bubbling over with exuberance, sparkling all along the edges with the beginning of laughter tears.

      I caught some of his crazy gaiety, and grinned back; then we both laughed out aloud and became thoroughly friendly.  

   “I hope you’ll find your way,” he said softly.  He asked me more questions, still gazing at me.  Even when he said goodnight, he kept looking over his shoulder and waving his hand.

      To be wished so much good was lovely.  I got up and walked to Harting.  And as I walked I remembered my relations and all the people who made me feel uncomfortable.  

         It’s better to sleep in the ditch, I thought, than to thrust yourself on your relations.

Excerpt from “I Left My Grandfather’s House” by Denton Welch, March 1943.  Illustrations show Harting and its flora and fauna.

No comments:

Post a Comment