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Silent Snow, Secret Snow
by [?]

( Miss Robinson looked straight at him, smiling, and said, “Perhaps we’ll ask David. I’m sure David will come out of his day-dream long enough to be able to tell us. Won’t you, David?” He rose slowly from his chair, resting one hand on the brightly varnished desk, and deliberately stared through the snow towards the blackboard. It was an effort, but it was amusing to make it. “Yes,” he said slowly, “it was what we now call the Hudson River.” This he thought to be the Northwest Passage. He was disappointed.” He sat down again, and as he did so Astrid half turned in her chair and gave him a shy smile, of approval and admiration.)

At whatever pain to others.

This part of it was very puzzling, very puzzling. Mother was very nice, and so was Father. Yes, that was all true enough. He wanted to be nice to them, to tell them everything-and yet, was it really wrong of him to want to have a secret place of his own?

At bedtime, the night before, Mother had said, “If this goes on, my lad, we’ll have to see a doctor, we will! We can’t have our boy”- But what was it she had said? “Living in another world”? “Live so far away”? The word “far” had been in it, he was sure, and then Mother had taken up a magazine again and laughed a little, but with an expression which wasn’t mirthful. He had felt sorry for her….

The bell rang for dismissal. The sound came to him through long curved parallels of falling snow. He saw Astrid rise, and had himself risen almost as soon-but not quite as soon-as she.


On the walk homeward, which was timeless, it pleased him to see through the accompaniment, or counterpoint, of the snow, the items of mere externality on his way. There were many kinds of bricks in the sidewalks, and laid in many kinds of pattern. The garden walls were to various, some of wooden palings, some of plaster, some of stone. Twigs of bushes leaned over the walls; the little hard green winter-buds of lilac, on gray stems, sheathed and fat; other branches very thin and fine and black and desiccated. Dirty sparrows huddled in bushes, as dull in color as dead fruit left in the leafless trees. A single starling creaked on a weather vane. In the gutter, beside a drain, was a scrap of torn and dirty newspaper, caught in a little delta of filth: the word HEARTBURN appeared in large capitals, and below it was a letter from Mrs. Angela M. Barnet, 2001 Cyprus Hill, Beckenham, London, to the effect that after being a sufferer for years she had been cured by Carter’s pills. In the little delta, beside the fan-shaped and deeply runneled continent of brown mud, were lost twigs, descended from their parent trees, dead matches, a rusty horse-chestnut burr, a small concentration of sparkling gravel on the lip of the sewer, a fragment of eggshell, a streak of yellow sawdust which had been wet and was now dry and congealed, a brown pebble, and a broken feather. Further on was a cement sidewalk, ruled into geometrical parallelograms, with a brass inlay at one end commemorating the contractors who had laid it, and, halfway across, an irregular and random series of dog tracks, immortalized in synthetic stone. He knew these well, and always stepped on them; to cover the little hollows with his own foot had always been a queer pleasure; today he did it once more, but perfunctorily and detached, all the while thinking of something else. That was a dog, a long time ago, who had made a mistake and walked on the cement while it was still wet. He had probably wagged his tail, but that hadn’t been recorded. Now, David Jones, aged twelve, on his way home from school, crossed the same river, which in the meantime had frozen solid. Homeward through the snow, the snow falling in bright sunshine. Homeward?

Then came the gateway with the two posts surmounted by egg-shaped stones which had been cunningly balanced on their ends, and mortared in the very act of balance: a source of perpetual wonder. On the brick wall just beyond, the letter H. had been stenciled, presumably for some purpose. H? H.