….. a proud look

Here is a thing that I wrote. I have a feeling there will be more.

*

…..a proud look.

The rain had been falling all afternoon. It was dogged. Like something out of a fairy tale.

Outside, the garden was bereft. It was starved of the usual fluttering clutter of birds, and of the children with their hue and cry now muffled utterly as they stared out wistfully as if waiting for something or someone to reveal it all as a trick.

But there were just puddles. Teaming puddles that jumped upwards and trees growing heavy with sodden leaves that dripped delicately onto the wet paving stones beneath.

Then, the children looked at one another, all three of them, and agreed that this mourning was over. With exploratory steps into the house that beguiled, they began to find another purpose for the day.

Down the endless corridor, in shades of browns and beige with scenes of hunting and dusty ancient vases all about they crept. Down the carpet worn, that didn’t reach the edges and past the tin man at the end, until they stood at the foot of the broad stairs.

‘The guardian of the stairway.’ said John.

‘Eh?’ said Sarah.

‘The tin man.’

‘Yes. And of the treasure in the attic.’ added Lucy.

They were playing but Sarah knew there was treasure. But not in the attic. She wanted to get into her grandfather’s study. That was the place where she wanted to be.

Their Grandfather: grumpy, irascible, quick-witted and (Sarah was just beginning to realise) wily. He was, as their mother never tired of telling them, a character. A confusing term that seemed at once to say little and much about him. He was possessed, almost in spite of himself, of a burden of wisdom and love that he managed (despite his furies and his busy schedule) to bestow upon them during holidays or through the occasional card when they were off at boarding school.

‘Come on.’ said Sarah.

They ventured up the stairs with intent. They crept into his study the floorboards creaking delicately despite their even cautious steps. The other two sat down on the thick rug almost immediately; a strangely welcoming weave of lattice and wavy lines. Their gabbling voices drifted, as Sarah moved towards the box that was marked with a big roman numeral ‘I’.

She was surprised at how excited she was. But wasn’t this wrong too? This was some rifling. She stayed her hand a moment, an adult impulse upon her. And then a thought occurred flaring and fading like a lighthouse beam. Perhaps his moods and his roaring allowed her this little crime.

Perhaps.

She opened the book. It creaked satisfyingly. And there, in his scratchy but attractive hand, and written she knew in one of his many fountain pens were the words.

‘Six things the lord hates and the seventh he detests… namely a proud look.’

A door slammed downstairs: their grandfather back earlier than expected. The three of them froze, and then fled from the room like three frightened fireflies.

As they scurried chirping and skipping down the corridor, Sarah was already thinking of how she’d get back into his study unobserved.

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