Thursday, July 9, 2015
Susan had slept a few hours of well needed sleep. The sun was shining in through the window and warming the room more than the day outside. But what had woken her up was really the smell of a late breakfast or an early lunch. In the States they called that “brunch”. Fried potato and mushrooms harmonised with fried egg and a clear smell of tea getting poured into cups.
”Good morning, dear!”
”Good morning, but I think it must be close to noon …?”
”And yet it is morning to you. It is actually one o’ clock.”
”Oh, I’ve slept for hours. I must be on the run soon.”
”Indeed, but first you need to take a good meal, then to keep calm. If you run like you are hunted they will all see it is you.”
”They might see so anyway ?”
”Yes, but running isn’t getting any escapee very far, since the news run faster. Oh, yes, I’ve read it. If you don’t run, you may still be caught, and if they recognize you and try to , you must run for it and pray God gives you a good refuge. But if you run when nobody is chasing – unless you can pass it off as jogging – you are giving the impression of a person feeling hunted, a very fishy impression. ”
That made sense.
Macready stood up beside the table while Susan sat down, she took both plates out to the kitchen and returned with them filled with as much fried egg, potatoes and mushrooms as you like, plus some salt and pepper, and bread, while Susan was already sipping away at her tea, as invited to.
The jogging plan was dropped, since a jogging outfit would be cold at night and not very natural in most circumstances. ”And that’s no wonder, look at that baggy stuff!” – If this had been twenty years later and less cold in the season it would have been another story, but back in 1950 jogging was done by extreme health freaks (including in fact Susan who liked keeping fit for swimming, riding and archery).
No, normal outfit, but not that of the nurse, would have to do. You have of course realized that if Susan was caught, they would know someone had helped her. Susan pointed it out, Macready said ”Well, that can’t be helped. ”
Before finishing the meal and trying the outfit, Susan asked why Macready didn’t believe she was putting Rose in mortal danger, since that was the story of the papers and the radio.
”Oh that? Mother gave birth to me when she was twelve, going on thirteen, even without a caesarian. We had a hard life at first, but she did not regret it.” (Susan could imagine Macready had had a hard life.)
So, Susan took an outfit of Macready’s, a really dowdy one, unlike the fancy clothes she used to wear and which showed on photos. She even avoided to take lipstick.
”Now, you go to Oxford. Maybe the Inklings might help you. They were friends of old Professor … Kirke …”
And Macready sobbed. She had even missed being there to identify her old employer and nearly lost a chance to be at the funeral as well (though she was by no means late). She dried her eyes. No time for crying if one’s a Macready. She was glad Susan knew Clive Staples Lewis and Paxford.
”Here is for the train ticket to Oxford, and here is some food; you won’t have to buy too soon. Now, finish the meal and I’ll put your hair up in a bun so you’ll be less like the photos. ”
Susan finished the meal, got the hair up in a bun with Macready’s help, showed she could make it a bun again, then got helped again to make it a really good one. Macready told Susan as she left that she would herself be phoning Paxford, whom she knew personally.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Susan looked up from the tea she was sipping. Oh yes, it was Mrs Macready all right. That voice was so itself after all these years.
She stammered: "You are mistaken, you must be thinking of someone else ...?"
"When you were eleven you hid in a wardrobe from me. Don't you think I didn't see you!
"I have been keeping an eye on you for some time now, an eye or two open.
"The news are out that you are escaped, and as tired as you look, there are slim chances you'll be taken for a nurse!"
"But what about night nurses?" Susan knew it was no ood to pretend, but she wanted some reassurance she wasn't as stupid as Mrs. Macready made it out.
"You were awake at daytime yesterday and all night through. A night nurse sleeps the days before doing night service and in the morning she's no more exhausted than you are a normal evening. Now, don't fuss, come with me. You need some hours' sleep, and thanks to us not being all that close, I am not suspect of helping you."
They went out after no significant delay. Susan had already paid the tea.
As they walked to the bus, Mrs Macready said: "Now, I heard what you did, and I have never heard of archery come to better use in our times.
"I knew you were a spunky girl, when faced with any battle you should fight in. As was the case here."
"How do you know that? Haven't all the news painted me out as a dangerous madwoman?"
"Oh, the news!" Mrs Macready said. "Look here, I don't know what happened in that wardrobe, but I do know you are not mad!
"When you defend the life of the unborn, you are not mad. Someone else is, or it wouldn't need defending. But not you!"
She paused and very quickly put finger on mouth before boarding the bus. Of course they went upstairs (for those who do not know, busses in London have two floors). And very fortunately, the upper floor wasn't empty, it was not yet rushing hours. It could easily have become so if Susan, tired as she was, had been left to herself and had dozed off for some hours.
Half an hour later, they were in another part of London, and they entered Mrs. Macready's rented flat.
"I'm afraid the sofa will have to do."
"Oh, it will be great!"
Despite the one cup of tea, she soon slept as soundly as with Mr and Mrs Beaver (and Lu, Pete, Ed) in that hiding place where they met Father Christmas in the morning. And yes, she thought of it just before going to sleep.