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Excerpt

On a Sunday afternoon in nineteen-forty-eight John Pomfret, a widower of forty-five, sat over lunch with Miss Liz Jennings at one of the round tables set by a great window that opened on the park, a view which had made this hotel loved by the favoured of Europe when they visited London.

He did not look at the girl and seemed nervous as he described his tea the previous Sunday when Liz had to visit her mother ill with flu so that he had been free to call on Jane Weatherby, a widow only too well known to Miss Jennings. It was wet then, did she remember, he was saying, so unlike this he said, and turned his face to the dazzle of window, it had been dark with sad tears on the panes and streets of blue canals as he sat by her fire for Jane liked dusk, would not turn on the lights until she couldn't see to move, while outside a single street lamp was yellow, reflected over a thousand rain drops on the glass, the fire was rose, and Penelope came in. Jane had cried out with loving admiration and there the child stood, no taller than the dark armchair, all eyes, her head one long curl coppered next the fire and on the far side as pale as that street lamp or as small flames within the grate, and she was dressed in pink which the glow blushed to rose then paled then glowed once more to a wild wind in the chimney before their two faces dark across Sunday shadows.

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