The Linnet's Wings The Winter´s Tale, Ravens and Robins - Page 32

The Winter´s Tale At that moment, Richard caught sight of one of the yellow telegrams calculated to spread fear through any household unhappy enough to receive them, and imme- diately reflected that Ben’s father was a serving officer. He helped the boy haul the bag back over his shoulder and looked careful- ly at the address on the telegram. The address wasn’t the Perownes, which was a relief – for the mo- ment. The Major doubted wheth- er this was a suitable appointment. He knew John Green, the postmas- ter; they were old schoolmates, on first name terms, although they had never been particularly close, even at school. John Green had never left Devon, and the narrowness of his experience, Richard sometimes thought, matched the narrowness of his imagination. He couldn’t stop the appointment, but he could question it. ‘Have you much more to deliver?’ ‘No, sir, thankfully. My mother and I should be able to get some rest this afternoon, before the children come home from school’. ‘Good. Take care, Benja- min’. ‘Thank you, sir’. Richard watched the boy pedal vigorously away, wondering yet again at youth’s ability to move so effortlessly from one extreme to the other, and made his way to school. The Post Office was not, strictly speaking, on his way home that afternoon, but it wasn’t much of a detour either. Green was in his own office behind the main counter as his wife manned it, which Rich- ard thought was probably prefer- able, if words needed to be had. After a civil exchange with Ma- bel Green, a long suffering wom- an who did most of Green’s work for him and who looked pale and tired, as almost everyone did now, Richard sat down on the other side of Green’s desk. ‘You seem to have acquired a new postman, John’. ‘Yes, Richard’. Green sound- ed harassed and indignant, as he usually did. ‘My choices are lim- ited. Every available adult is away on service or committed to a full- time job or struggling to live on the land. Or –‘ he struggled to find the right expression. ‘No longer with us at all’. ‘You have remembered that the boy’s father is a serving officer’. ‘Yes, of course I have’. Green made a gesture of impatience. ‘But he is quick, he is very intelligent – feather in your cap, Richard – he has the stamina and fitness of the young –‘ ‘I found him asleep in the lane, propped up against his bike’. 32