Christopher and Columbus HTML version
Lost in the contemplation of a distant past Anna-Felicitas sat with her eyes shut long
after she needn't have.
She had forgotten about the German ladies, and America, and the future so instantly
pressing on her, and was away on the shores of the Baltic again, where bits of amber
where washed up after a storm, and the pale rushes grew in shallow sunny water that
was hardly salt, and the air seemed for ever sweet with lilac. All the cottage gardens in
the little village that clustered round a clearing in the trees had lilac bushes in them, for
there was something in the soil that made lilacs be more wonderful there than anywhere
else in the world, and in May the whole forest as far as one could walk was soaked with
the smell of it. After rain on a May evening, what a wonder it was; what a wonder, that
running down the black, oozing forest paths between wet pine stems, out on to the
shore to look at the sun setting below the great sullen clouds of the afternoon over on
one's left where Denmark was, and that lifting of one's face to the exquisite mingling of
the delicate sea smell and the lilac. And then there was home to come back to when the
forest began to look too dark and its deep silence made one's flesh creep—home, and a
light in the window where ones mother was. Incredible the security of those days, the
safe warmth of them, the careless roominess....
"You know if you could manage to feel a little better, Anna-F.," said Anna-Rose's voice
entreatingly in her ear, "it's time we began to get off this ship."
Anna-Felicitas opened her eyes, and got up all confused and self-reproachful.
Everybody had melted away from that part of the deck except herself and Anna-Rose.
The ship was lying quiet at last alongside the wharf. She had over-done being ill this
time. She was ashamed of herself for having wandered off so easily and comfortably
into the past, and left poor Christopher alone in the difficult present.
"I'm so sorry," she said smiling apologetically, and giving her hat a tug of determination
symbolic of her being ready for anything, especially America. "I think I must have gone
to sleep. Have you—" she hesitated and dropped her voice. "Are they—are the
Clouston Sacks visible yet?"
"I thought I saw them," said Anna-Rose, dropping her voice too, and looking round
uneasily over her shoulder. "I'd have come here sooner to see how you were getting on,
but I thought I saw them, and they looked so like what I think they will look like that I
went into our cabin again for a few minutes. But it wasn't them. They've found the
people they were after, and have gone."
"There's a great crowd waiting," said Mr. Twist, coming up, "and I think we ought to go
and look for your friends. As you don't know what they're like and they don't know what
you're like it may be difficult. Heaven forbid," he continued, "that I should hurry you, but I