A House of Children

A House of Children

A House of Children

A House of Children

Excerpt

The other day, in an inland town, I saw through an open window, a branch of fuchsia waving stiffly up and down in the breeze; and at once I smelt the breeze salty, and had a picture of a bright curtain flapping inwards and, beyond the curtain, dazzling sunlight on miles of crinkling water. I felt, too, expectancy so keen that it was like a physical tightening of the nerves; the very sense of childhood. I was waiting for a sail, probably my first sail into the Atlantic. Somebody or something must have fixed that moment upon my dreaming senses, so that I still possess it. Small children are thought happy, but for most of the time they do not even live consciously, they exist; they drift through sensations as a pantomime fairy passes through coloured veils and changing lights. That moment was grasped out of the flux; a piece of life, unique and eternal, and the sail also, is still my living delight. The dinghy had a shiny new gaff, and the mainsail was wet half-way up so that the sun behind it made a bright half-moon on the canvas. She rose to the first swell of the Atlantic, beyond Sandy Point, with a three-angled motion, neither roll nor pitch. Then we were leaping from wave to wave, squattering into rollers that had touched Greenland in their last landfall, and the thin planks sprang and trembled under my body, sitting down among the ballast-bags. Tens of thousands of dark blue waves rushed towards me, rising and falling . . .

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