The Linnet's Wings The Winter´s Tale, Ravens and Robins - Page 31

The Linnet´s Wings brothers, uncles and fathers, enthusiasm was not as rampant as it had been. Where exactly Lieutenant James Nicholson was at that moment, he didn’t know; James wasn’t allowed to reveal his exact whereabouts and his father didn’t ask. But the lack of news, a silence of nearly five weeks now, rendered sidelining James, sensitive, unworldy and aes- thetic James, to the demands of the everyday routine more and more challenging. Such reflections could only partly be relieved by sea air and views, and it took a moment or two for him to register the sight twen- ty yards or so in front of him. A telegram boy in his delivery uniform, postal bag slung round his slim shoulders, was propped up against the side of his bike, asleep. On closer inspection, Richard recognised the boy as a recent- ly ex-pupil - Benjamin Perowne, still only fourteen, bearing a Devon name as widespread as the Sooles and the Drakes. Benjamin’s father, a naval lieutenant, was somewhere in the Atlantic, and that’s as much as the family knew. The boy had four younger siblings, and his mother would need his help before the lad set off on his round. Benjamin was only just an ex-pupil, having left the previous July. A pupil who should have stayed on, but family demands were all powerful in present cir- cumstances. Some sense seemed to stir Benjamin, or perhaps it was the noise of his ex-headmaster’s rather creaky approach. His eyes opened, and he sat up as if caught in mischief. ‘Mr. Nicholson, sir. I’m sorry – what must you think of me, lying in the lane like a tramp’. ‘Tiredness needs sleep, Benjamin’. Address by second name was standard for pupils, but not necessarily ex-pupils. ‘Are you having a busy morning?’ Ben scrambled to his feet, shaking a leg cramp away. ‘Well, I was up at five, sir, to start the fire, and then the children have to be fed and sent off to school, and my mother is tired these days. As soon as the round is done, I will need to get back home, not lounge about in country lanes’. 31