2010-04-30

From "A City of Bells" by Elizabeth Goudge

Masterpiece Theater should get a hold of this:  A soldier wounded in the Boer war comes home to find a new vocation as book seller in a small cathedral town (a city of the bells).  In transit he picks up two marvelous children - Hugh Anthony and Henrietta.

Characters:

Jocelyn...it was a still, warm day after rain, and delicious smells came to Jocelyn through the window, the smell of the gorse and the wallflowers in the cottage gardens, the smell of wood smoke and freshly turned earth and rain-washed grass and fresh beginnings.  A pity to be tired of life in such a world, thought Jocelyn.  If the old earth could wash herself and being again so often and so humbly why could not a man do the same?

Grandmother was small and withered and gave the impression of having shed everything in her passage through life except he essence of herself, and that a sharp, decided, wholesome essence...

Grandfather, who was only seventy-eight and the youngest of the Canons, was quite different.  He too, was very short, but he was the reverse of withered.  He was very round indeed.  Yet the curves of his person did not suggest either indolence or laziness, they suggested rather a tolerant mind and a large heart, and his round, rosy face bore the unmistakable stamp of personal control and austerity, a stamp that is like clarity in the atmosphere, a thing that you cannot describe but only rejoice in...

Henrietta...He came close...and smiled down at her, and instantly with her answering smile, her whole being seemed to come flooding into her face.  She was giving him her friendship with the lovely abandonment of childhood that has not learned yet to hold back for fear the love given should be scorned.  Jocelyn, in this his first close contact with a child, felt not so much touched as stabbed.  This trustfulness and fragility were almost terrifying, for how in the world, as children grow from childhood to maturity and the bloom was rubbed of them, did the sensitive spirit itself escape destruction?

Hugh Anthony at eight years old was compact and rounded like his grandfather.  His blue, astonished eyes were also like his grandfather's, but his circular face, dusted all over with golden freckles, his turned-up nose and flaming red hair were all his own.  Quite his own too was his look of perpetual inquiry.  His whole body seemed at times to be curved into the shape of a question-mark and the world "Why?" was seldom of his lips.

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