A child in London asked her father what autumn was, having heard it spoken of these days, and the father in explanation said it was a season, though not a major one. In cities, this father said, you did not feel autumn so much, not as you felt the heat of summer or the bite of winter air, or even the slush of spring. He said that, and then the next day sent for the child and said he had been talking nonsense. 'Autumn is on now, ' he said. 'You can see it in the parks, ' and he took his child for a nature walk.
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All this occupied his thoughts when he revisited the places of his war. Tramping over soil fed by the blood of men he had led and whose faces now stirred in his memory, it was his wife's response that came - as if in compensation for too little said before - when he wondered why his wandering had led him back to these old battlefields: in his sixty-ninth year he was establishing his survivor's status.
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As the surface of the seashore rocks were pitted by by the waves and gathered limpets that further disguised what lay beneath, so time made truth of what appeared to be. The days that passed, in becoming weeks, still did not disturb the surface an assumption had created. The weather of a beautiful summer continued with neither sign nor hint that credence had been misplaced. The single sandal found among the rocks became a sodden image of death; and as the keening on the pier at Kilauran traditionally marked distres brought by the sea, so did silence at Lahardane.
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