These Ruins Are Inhabited

These Ruins Are Inhabited

These Ruins Are Inhabited

These Ruins Are Inhabited

Excerpt

Now that the train was slowing and the rain was no longer slashing so fiercely at the windows, it was possible to see something of the countryside through which we were passing. The scene was drab, small farms and pastureland beginning to give way to clusters of brick buildings and back-yard cabbage patches. Ahead I could see some metal sheds and a storage tank. It looks like the outskirts of Peoria , I thought. And it mustn't. This was the place that Dryden had likened to Athens, and Hazlitt to Rome; this was Max Beerbohm's lotus-land, Logan Smith's "taste of Paradise." Please don't let it look like Peoria .

There was a little stir outside our compartment as disembarking passengers began to form a line in the corridor. My son, Redmond--a lanky near-fifteen, and by his own measure as good as grown up--unfolded from his seat, stretched and said, "Well, I'd better be getting the suitcases down. This is Oxford, isn't it, Mom?"

"I guess so," I replied, my eyes still searching the landscape ahead. "It's silly of me, I suppose, but I was hoping . . ." And then I saw them. The towers of Oxford. Square, rounded, tapered, like fingers lifted to heaven. Blurry in the mist, but there; and we were going toward them. It was only a glimpse. They speedily vanished behind a chain of trackside buildings. But it was enough. "Yes, Red," I said--and now my voice was . . .

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