The Absolutist | Page 13 of 190

Author: John Boyne | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 7939 Views | Add a Review

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t that way. It’s more than just a parlour game to my way of thinking.”

“And where did I grow up, Mr. Miller?” I asked, eager to be entertained. “Can you tell?”

He narrowed his eyes and stared at me, remaining silent for almost a minute, save for the sound of his heavy, nasal breathing, before he opened his mouth again, speaking cautiously. “I should think Chiswick,” he said. “Kew Bridge. Somewhere around there. Am I right?”

I laughed, surprised and delighted. “Chiswick High Street,” I said.

“My father has a butcher’s shop. We grew up there.”

“We?”

“My younger sister and I.”

“But you live here? In Norwich?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “No, I live in London now.

Highgate.”

“That’s quite a distance from your family,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied. “I know.”

From behind the bar, the sound of a glass crashing to the floor and smashing into a million fragments gave me a jolt. I looked up and my hands clenched instinctively against the side of the table, only relaxing again when I saw the shrugged shoulders of the proprietor as he bent down with pan and brush to clear up his mess, and heard the delighted, teasing jeers of the men sitting close to him.

“It was just a glass,” said my companion, noticing how startled I had become.

“Yes,” I said, trying to laugh it off and failing. “It gave me a shock, that’s all.”

“There till the end, were you?” he asked, and I turned to look at him, the smile fading from my face as he sighed. “Sorry, lad. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s all right,” I said quietly.

“I had two boys out there, you see. Good boys, the pair of them.

One with more than his share of mischief about him, the other one a bit like you and me. A reader. A few years older than you, I’d say.

What are you, nineteen?”

“Twenty-one,” I said, the novelty of my new age striking me for the first time.

“Well, our Billy would have been twenty-three now and our Sam would have been about to turn twenty-two.” He smiled when he said their names, then swallowed and looked away. The use of the conditional tense had become a widespread disease when discussing the ages of children and little more needed to be said on the matter.

We sat in silence for a few moments and then he turned back to me with a nervous smile. “You have the look of our Sam, actually,” he said.

“Do I?” I asked, strangely pleased by the comparison. I entered the woods of my imagination again and made my way through gorse and nettle-tangled undergrowth to picture Sam, a boy who loved books and thought that one day he might like to write some of his own. I saw him on the evening he announced to his parents that

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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