GO, LOVELY ROSE
‘ ut who is she with?’ said Mr Carteret. ‘A young man. She met him on the aeroplane,’ Mrs Carteret said. ‘Now go to sleep.’ Outside the bedroom window the moon was shining brightly. ‘Nobody told me there was a young man on the aeroplane’, said Mr Carteret crossly. ‘You saw him,’ Mrs Carteret said. ‘He was there when you met her at the airport.’ ‘I don’t remember,’ said herhusband. ‘Yes, you do. You noticed his hat. You said so. It was light green…’ ‘Oh dear!’ said Mr Carteret. ‘That man? But he’s too old for her. He must be nearly forty.’ ‘He’s twenty-eight, dear. Now go to sleep.’ ‘I can’t sleep,’ said Mr Carteret. ‘Three o’clock in the morning and I can’t get to sleep.’ ‘Just lie still, dear, and you’ll soon fall asleep,’ said his wife. It was a warm night in July. Agentle wind whispered in the trees outside the bedroom window. It sounded like a car coming. Mr Carteret sat up and listened. But it was only the wind. ‘Where are you going now?’ said Mrs Carteret. ‘I’m going downstairs for a drink of water. I can’t sleep. I can never sleep in moonlight – I don’t know why. And it’s very hot too.’ ‘Put your slippers on,’ said Mrs Carteret sleepily. He found hisslippers and put them on. He went down to the kitchen and turned on the tap. The water was warmish. He let the water run until it was cool enough to drink. Then he opened the kitchen door and went out into the garden. The moon shone on his roses. Mr Carteret could see the shape and colour of every ﬂower. There they were: red and yellow and white, very soft and sweet-smelling. Each ﬂower was wet withdew. He stood on the short green grass and looked up at the sky. The moon was very bright. It was like a strong, white electric light shinning down on the garden. The wind whispered again in the trees. Again Mr Carteret thought it was a car coming. Suddenly he felt helpless and miserable. ‘Sue,’ he said aloud, ‘Sue . . . where are you? What are you doing? Susie, Susie, you don’t usually stay outso late.’ Susie. He always called her Susie when he was specially pleased with her. Usually he called her Sue. When he was cross with her,
he called her Susan. He remembered her nineteenth birthday, three weeks before. She was getting ready to ﬂy off to Switzerland for a holiday. ‘How lovely she is!’ everyone said. ‘How pretty and grown-up! And she’s going to Switzerland all by herself!How wonderful!’ But Mr Carteret did not think his daughter looked grown-up. To him she looked smaller and more girlish than ever. ‘Too young to go away by herself,’ he thought crossly. He heard the church clock. Half past three. At that moment he heard the sound of a car. This time he was sure. He could see its lights coming along the road. ‘You’re late, young lady,’ he said to himself. He did notfeel miserable anymore; just a little cross. He could hear the car coming quickly along the road. Suddenly he began to run towards the house. He did not want her to ﬁnd him there. He wanted to get back to bed. His pyjama trousers were too long. They were wet with dew. He held them up, like skirts, as he ran. ‘This is stupid,’ he thought. ‘What stupid things parents do sometimes!’ At the kitchendoor one of his slippers fell off. He stopped to pick it up, and listened again for the sound of the car. All was quiet. Once again he was alone in the quiet, moonlight garden. His slippers were wet with dew. His wet pyjama trousers felt uncomfortable on his legs. ‘It didn’t stop,’ he thought. He felt cross and miserable again. ‘We always walked home from dances,’ he said aloud. ‘That was part ofthe fun.’ Suddenly he felt frightened. He remembered the corner on the road near his house. ‘It’s a dangerous corner,’ he said to himself. ‘There are accidents there every week. What if Susie and this man . . .’ He did not want to think about it. It was too awful. ‘And who is this man anyway? How do I know he’s a suitable friend for Susie? Perhaps he’s a married man. Or a criminal.’ All at once he...
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