A Word Child

By Iris Murdoch

After years of obscurity in a Bayswater flat, Oxford graduate Hilary Burde ha the chance to compensate for a grievous offense which he dedicated twenty ye previous.

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Their steps dulled, they appeared to stroll on tiptoe. a humid vaporous haze, which left visibility at approximately ten yards, fuzzed yellowly concerning the lamp posts and thickened brownly among them. The chilly sulphurous sooty fuel entered the lungs with each breath, tormenting the throat and chilling the physique. the good concourse of motor automobiles, their lighting blazing ineffectually, illuminating not anything yet fog, crawled one by one in sluggish wary procession. Up above a blanket of thick fuzzy darkness pressed down upon the scene. I felt as though my chest might burst with frenzy and rage. I inhaled the fog in livid gasps and commenced to cough. I felt humiliated, defeated, overwhelmed. I thought of going again and confronting Gunnar and — what? I had run earlier him like a puppy looking forward to to be kicked. I had fallen ignominiously out of the door. I had now not dared to appear him within the face. I had, notwithstanding, in my first imaginative and prescient of him from the steps, noticeable him greatly extra truly than at the final get together. He used to be after all stouter, however the impact of age which I had bought now appeared wrong. His reasonable hair, now greyish-fair, fuzzed around a bald patch. His face, which were crimson and soft, used to be browner and rougher. yet even with a mild slump, the influence of strength, of burly power, even of actual energy was once as nice as ever. I walked alongside in a turmoil of indecision and rage. I felt one of those natural hatred of Gunnar, a wish to punch him challenging within the face. even as i wished to return and — no longer punch him — converse to him — expunge the vile impact of myself as a worried cur. I even stopped and stood there inflexible in the middle of the gradual hurrying homeward-bound crowd, thinking about if I may still return. yet believe he weren't within the corridor. feel he had long gone as much as his place of work. believe I have been to climb the steps and knock at the door and cross in and — I felt essentially faint with emotion. I knew i couldn't do it. i started to stroll slowly on, devouring my distress and disgrace. I had reached the top of Whitehall and was once ready with a mass of alternative humans for the site visitors lighting to forestall the site visitors in order that shall we pass the line to Westminster Station. one of those reddish blur excessive above us was once the illuminated face of huge Ben. I stood there, arms striking, pressed upon by means of my fellow beings, a computer in torment. Then, simply because the lighting fixtures have been approximately to alter, a lady who were status a bit in the back of me moved ahead and used to be by means of my aspect. Our sleeves touched. It was once Biscuit. She used to be donning her darkish blue duffle coat with the hood driven again. I stuck the flash of her darkish eye as she stood beside me. Neither folks checked out the opposite. The lighting fixtures replaced and we crossed the line facet via aspect in the course of the nice trudging mass. after we reached the other pavement I slowed my speed and she or he endured to stroll with me and nonetheless neither people checked out the opposite. after we have been relatively with reference to the station front I acknowledged, ‘Could you provide my compliments to woman Kitty and inform her that i will be able to do with no the attentions of her spies.

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