And Now Goodbye


The Reverend Howat Freemantle awoke about the usual time on Monday
morning of that second week in November. From habit, as soon as he was
completely conscious, he lit the bedside candle, glanced at his watch
ticking loudly on the table, and then at his wife, whose huddled ...
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And Now Goodbye

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More About This Book


The Reverend Howat Freemantle awoke about the usual time on Monday
morning of that second week in November. From habit, as soon as he was
completely conscious, he lit the bedside candle, glanced at his watch
ticking loudly on the table, and then at his wife, whose huddled back and
deep regular breathing presented a familiar picture close by.
Seven-thirty. He reached out an arm to light the gas-ring under the
kettle--a manoeuvre dexterously performed as a result of long practice.
Then he leaned back to doze for those last and frequently most delightful

But this morning they were not particularly delightful. Parsons, he had
often reflected, were not immune from the 'Monday morning' feeling--on
the contrary, they were subject to a peculiarly distressing Monday
morning feeling of their own. After Sunday, with its sermons and
services, Monday came, not as the beginning of a six days' holiday, as so
many lay persons imagined, but as a sudden drop to the bottom of a hill
which had to be slowly and laboriously climbed over again.

And it had been a difficult Sunday, he recollected, dark and foggy all
day, with congregations and collections very small--serious matters to a
Nonconformist minister in a northern manufacturing town already
impoverished by the trade slump and unemployment. The chapel, too, had
been bitterly cold, owing to an ancient and defective heating apparatus
(soon, however, to be replaced), and the fog and chill had got at his
throat and given him acute pain during the evening service--'_that_
pain', he had already begun to call it in his mind. Curious how people
could stare at him up there in the pulpit, and not know that the chief
thought in his mind all the time was--'I've got the most frightful
sharpness in my throat--wonder if anything serious starts like this?'

When the kettle began to boil he warmed the teapot, put in the tea, and
poured. Then, reaching out further, he gave his wife's shoulder the
gentle shove which was nearly always sufficient to wake her. She stirred,
opened her eyes sleepily, and gave an incoherent murmur. "Good morning,"
he said, with a smile at her huddled shoulders. He did not look at her
face. He felt, though he scarcely admitted it even to himself, a
reluctance to observe her during those first few inelegant moments after
waking--with her hair crimped up in clusters of curlers, her skin greasy
with perspiration, and her lips dry and parched through breathing through
her mouth. She could not, of course, help all that; the fault, he knew,
lay with himself--in a certain initial fastidiousness which, he feared,
was hardly less a sin for being involuntary.

She did not reply to his 'good morning' except by further murmurs, and
after a little pause he poured out a cup of tea and placed it on the
table next to a novel by W. J. Locke which she was in the course of
reading. Then, after putting on an old brown dressing-gown, he poured two
other cups and carried them out of the room, across the landing, and into
another room where his daughter Mary slept. She was a thin-faced,
sallow-complexioned girl of twenty, working as a teacher in the school
that adjoined the chapel. He lit the gas and wakened her now, according
to established routine; he liked that early morning habit of tea and a
chat. He began desultorily to mention politics (there was a by-election
pending in the neighbourhood), though he had not uttered many words
before he felt again that sharp, cramping sensation in his throat. Mary,
however, was not interested in politics, and plunged into chapel and
school matters with a briskness that made him, as for relief, pull aside
the curtains and see the pale grey dawn outlining the roofs and factories
of Browdley; there was no fog, but a soft slanting rain. Then she asked
if he would 'hear some Latin verbs she had been learning by heart; she
was cramming for a degree examination, and had to make use of every odd
moment. He agreed, and for the next five minutes stood solemnly and
shiveringly by the window with the text-book in his hand (she had slept
with it under her pillow), while she went through the various moods and
tenses of the third conjugation. "Rego, Regis, Regit..." How chilly it
was, he reflected, and there would be no hot water in the bathroom (the
kitchen fire was always allowed to go out on Sunday afternoons), and the
smell of bacon was drifting up the stairs just as it had done for
goodness knew how many years--did there await him, he wondered, some
glorious morning in the dim future, an alternative breakfast smell that
would amaze and delight his nostrils?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849028158
  • Publisher: Benediction Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/2010
  • Pages: 146
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.34 (d)

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