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They sat in comfortable silence while she watched him buffing his brogues with a yellow duster. By his handsome cheekbones the muscles twitched with the movement, and along his forearms they fanned and shifted in complicated rearrangements under the skin. There must have been something right with Ernest to have given her a boy like this.
“So you’re off out.”
“Leon was just arriving as I was coming away. He had his friend with him, you know, the chocolate magnate. They persuaded me to join them for dinner tonight.”
“Oh, and there was me all afternoo nike air max 1 red n, on the silver. And doing out his room.”
He picked up his shoes and stood. “When I look for my face in my spoon, I’ll see only you.”
“Get on. Your shirts are hanging in the kitchen.”
He packed up the shoeshine box and carried it out, and chose a cream linen shirt from the three on the airer. He came back through and was on his way out, but she wanted to keep him a little longer.
“And those Quincey children. Th nike air max 1 at boy wetting his bed and all. The poor little lambs.”
He lingered in the doorway and shrugged. He had looked in and seen them round the pool, screaming and laughing through the late morning heat. They would have run his wheelbarrow into the deep end if he had not gone across. Danny Hardman was there too, leering at their sister when he should have been at work.
“They’ll survive,” he said.
Impatient to be out, he skipped up the stairs three at a time. Back in his bedroom he finished dressing hurriedly, whistling tunelessly as he stooped to grease and comb his hair before the mirror inside his wardrobe. He had no ear for music at all, and found it impossible to tell if one note was higher or lower than another. Now he was committed to the evening, he felt excited and, strangely, free. It couldn’t be worse than it already nike air max 1 ebay was. Methodically, and with pleasure in his own efficiency, as though preparing for some hazardous journey or military exploit, he accomplished the familiar little chores—located his keys, found a ten-shilling note inside his wallet, brushed his teeth, smelled his breath against a cupped hand, from the desk snatched up his letter and folded it into an envelope, loaded his cigarette case and checked his lighter. One last time, he braced himself in front of the mirror. He bared his gums, and turned to present his profile and looked across his shoulder at his image. Finally, he patted his pockets, then loped down the stairs, three at a time again, called a farewell to his mother, and stepped out onto the narrow brick path which led between the flower beds to a gate in the picket fence.
In the years to come he would often thi nike air max 1 sale nk back to this time, when he walked along the footpath that made a shortcut through a corner of the oak woods and joined the main drive where it curved toward the lake and the house. He was not late, and yet he found it difficult to slow his pace. Many immediate and other less proximal pleasures mingled in the richness of these minutes: the fading, reddish dusk, the warm, still air saturated with the scents of dried grasses and baked earth, his limbs loosened by the day’s work in the gardens, his skin smooth from his bath, the feel of his shirt and of this, his only suit. The anticipation and dread he felt at seeing her was also a kind of sensual pleasure, and surrounding it, like an embrace, was a general elation—it might hurt, it was horribly inconvenient, no good might come of it, but he had found out for himself what it was to be in love, and it thrilled him. Other tributaries swelled his happiness; he still derived satisfaction from the thought of his first—the best in his year he was told. And now there was confirmation from Jack Tallis of his continuing support. A fresh adventure ahead, not an exile at all, he was suddenly certain. It was right and good that he should study medicine. He could not have explained his optimism—he was happy and therefore bound to succeed.
One word contained everything he felt, and explained why he was to dwell on this moment later. Freedom. In his life as in his limbs. Long ago, before he had even heard of grammar schools, he was entered for an exam that led him to one. Cambridge, much as he enjoyed it, was the choice of his ambitious headmaster. Even his subject was effectively chosen for him by a ch nike air max 1 sale arismatic teacher. Now, finally, with the exercise of will, his adult life had begun. There was a story he was plotting with himself as the hero, and already its opening had caused a little shock among his friends. Landscape gardening was no more than a bohemian fantasy, as well as a lame ambition—so he had analyzed it with the help of Freud—to replace or surpass his absent father. Schoolmastering—in fifteen years’ time, Head of English, Mr. R. Turner, M.A. Cantab.—was not in the story either, nor was teaching at a university. Despite his first, the study of English literature seemed in retrospect an absorbing parlor game, and reading books and having opinions about them, the desirable adjunct to a civilized existence. But it was not the core, whatever Dr. Leavis said in his lectures. It was not the necessary priesthood, cheap air max 1 nor the most vital pursuit of an inquiring mind, nor the first and last defense against a barbarian horde, any more than the study of painting or music, history or science. At various talks in his final year Robbie had heard a psychoanalyst, a Communist trade union official and a physicist each declare for his own field as passionately, as convincingly, as Leavis had for his own. Such claims were probably made for medicine, but for Robbie the matter was simpler and more personal: his practical nature and his frustrated scientific aspirations would find an outlet, he would have skills far more elaborate than the ones he had acquired in practical criticism, and above all he would have made his own decision. He would take lodgings in a strange town—and begin.
He had emerged from the trees and reached the point where the path cheap nike air max 1 joined the drive. The falling light magnified the dusky expanse of the park, and the soft yellow glow at the windows on the far side of the lake made the house seem almost grand and beautiful. She was in there, perhaps in her bedroom, preparing for dinner—out of view, at the back of the building on the second floor. Facing over the fountain. He pushed away these vivid, daylight thoughts of her, not wanting to arrive feeling deranged. The hard soles of his shoes rapped loudly on the metaled road like a giant clock, and he made himself think about time, about his great hoard, the luxury of an unspent fortune. He had never before felt so self-consciously young, nor experienced such appetite, such impatience for the story to begin. There were men at Cambridge who were mentally agile as teachers, and still played a decent gam nike air max 1 grey e of tennis, still rowed, who were twenty years older than him. Twenty years at least in which to unfold his story at roughly this level of physical well-being—almost as long as he had already lived. Twenty years would sweep him forward to the futuristic date of 1955. What of importance would he know then that was obscure now? Might there be for him another thirty years beyond that time, to be lived out at some more thoughtful pace?
He thought of himself in 1962, at fifty, when he would be old, but not quite old enough to be useless, and of the weathered, knowing doctor he would be by then, with the secret stories, the tragedies and successes stacked behind him. Also stacked would be books by the thousand, for there would be a study, vast and gloomy, richly crammed with the trophies of a lifetime’s travel and thought—rare rain forest herbs, poisoned arrows, failed electrical inventions, soapstone figurines, shrunken skulls, aboriginal art. On the shelves, medical reference and meditations, certainly, but also the books that now filled the cubbyhole in the bungalow attic—the eighteenth-century poetry that had almost persuaded him he should be a landscape gardener, his third-edition Jane Austen, his E nike air max 1 leopard liot and Lawrence and Wilfred Owen, the complete set of Conrad, the priceless 1783 edition of Crabbe’s The Village, his Housman, the autographed copy of Auden’s The Dance of Death. For this was the point, surely: he would be a better doctor for having read literature. What deep readings his modified sensibility might make of human suffering, of the self-destructive folly or sheer bad luck that drive men toward ill health! Birth, death, and frailty in between. Rise and fall—this was the doctor’s business, and it was literature’s too. He was thinking of the nineteenth-century novel. Broad tolerance and the long view, an inconspicuously warm heart and cool judgment; his kind of doctor would be alive to the monstrous patterns of fate, and to the vain and comic denial of the inevitable; he would press the enfeebled pulse, hear the expiring breath, feel the fevered hand begin to cool and reflect, in the manner that only literature and religion teach, on the puniness and nobility of mankind . . nike air max 1 premium .
His footsteps quickened in the still summer evening to the rhythm of his exultant thoughts. Ahead of him, about a hundred yards away, was the bridge, and on it, he thought, picked out against the darkness of the road, was a white shape which seemed at first to be part of the pale stone of the parapet. Staring at it dissolved its outlines, but within a few paces it had taken on a vaguely human form. At this distance he was not able to tell whether it faced away or toward him. It was motionless and he assumed he was being watched. He tried for a second or two to entertain himself with the idea of a ghost, but he had no belief in the supernatural, not even in the supremely undemanding being that presided over the Norman church in the village. It was a child, he saw now, a air max 1 nd therefore it must be Briony, in the white dress he had seen her wearing earlier in the day. He could see her clearly now and he raised his hand and called out to her, and said, “It’s me, Robbie,” but still she did not move.
As he approached it occurred to him that it might be preferable for his letter to precede him into the house. Otherwise he might have to pass it to Cecilia in company, watched perhaps by her mother who had been rather cool toward him since he came down. Or he might be unable to give the letter to Cecilia at all because she would be keeping her distance. If Briony gave it to her, she would have time to read it and reflect in private. The few extra minutes might soften her.
“I was wondering if you’d nike air max 1 black do me a favor,” he said as he came up to her.
She nodded and waited. ③

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