“I must go,” Seymour said, getting up and speaking in a strange, bewildered voice as though he were just awakening from a dream. He left them, at last, promising to come and see them again.
He heard the Canon’s voice in his ears: “Always a knife and fork, my boy ... any time if you let us know.” He stepped down into the little lighted streets, into the town with its cosy security and some scent, even then in the heart of winter, perhaps, from the fruit of its many orchards. The moon, once again an orange feather in the sky, reminded him of those early days that seemed now to be streaming in upon him from every side.
Early next morning he caught the ten o’clock train to Clinton.
“Why,” in the train he continued to say to himself, “have I let all these years pass without returning? Why have I never returned?... Why have I never returned?”
The slow, sleepy train (the London express never stops at Clinton) jerked through the deep valleys, heavy with woods, golden brown at their heart, the low hills carrying, on their horizons, white drifting clouds that flung long grey shadows. Seymour felt suddenly as though he could never return to London again exactly as he had returned to it before. “That period of my life is over, quite over.... Some one is taking me down here now—I know that I am being compelled to go. But I want to go. I am happier than I have ever been in my life before.”
Often, in Glebeshire, December days are warm and mellow like the early days of September. It so was now; the country was wrapped in with happy content, birds rose and hung, like telegraph wires, beyond the windows. On a slanting brown field gulls from the sea, white and shining, were hovering, wheeling, sinking into the soil. And yet, as he went, he was not leaving March Square behind, but rather taking it with him. He was taking the children too—Bim, Angelina, John, even Sarah (against her will), and it was not her who was in charge of the party. He felt as though, the railway carriages were full and he ought to say continually, “Now, Bim, be quiet. Sit still and look at the picture-book I gave you. Sarah, I shall leave you at the next station if you aren’t careful,” and that she replied, giving him one of her dark sarcastic looks, “I don’t care if you do. I know how to get home all right without your help.”
He wished that he hadn’t brought her, and yet he couldn’t help himself. They all had to come. Then, as he looked about the empty carriage, he laughed at himself. Only a fat farmer reading The Glebeshire Times.
“Marnin’, sir,” said the farmer. “Warm Christmas we’ll be havin’, I reckon. Yes, indeed. I see the Bishop’s dying—poor old soul too.”
When they arrived at Clinton he caught himself turning round as though to collect his charges; he thought that the farmer looked at him curiously.