Untitled extract of novel


It is midsummer and although Lewis should be at evening meditation he knows that he will be excused because he is leaving tomorrow. At twenty one minutes past eight, the sun , on its downward path, will transit the oval window as seen from the pagoda. If he had been able to access an almanac and chart he would have been able to calculate this time himself; instead he knew Locke would relish the task. Lewis had prayed for weeks that it would not be overcast. So here he is resting his chin on his arms on the sill whereupon Winsome’s lily had lain. He recalls that strange evening when he had watched her glide round the pond: the emotion, the possibilities, a warmth for the first time since he had met Lucy. Had he been right to let it go? He sees it all now for what it was; a fleeting pretence of passion. Another ladder followed by a snake. Should he opt out of the game altogether? Should he for once in his life, Lewis’s life, act? He no longer wonders why he could never initiate, or grasp or even daydream. Yet how much he had done! Did it really matter at the end of the day who had listened to spies broadcasting from Leipzig, learned that archaic method of navigation, went to Paris to watch a leaf on the Seine just because Sydney Carton did? Will it bother him if he attains old age, this proxy life? The question barely enters his head before it has passed like the leaf downstream. He will not grasp these memories of a red chiffon scarf flying in the wind; of the brave navigator lying three miles down in a pacific abyss; of Shadrach, Meshak and Abednigo. But he knows the memories are his.

Someone once said that the difference between knowing and feeling is 14 inches, the distance between the head and the heart.

He is sleepy, the garden is all in shadow, the willow bower grey. A grouse crrkkks on the moor, a red chiffon scarf streams on the breeze, clouds race above the guillotine, the stars point the way, the linearity becomes the point, the circle is empty and Lewis sleeps while the sun from the oval window bathes him in its transient rays.

By Jacqueline Ferrari