The Next day was Wednesday and I awoke very early. I could not stop thinking about what Alice was saying about the mural. She said the most intelligent and profound things. When talking about the mural she said ” It looks like it came together like a jigsaw “. Only Alice could utter such simple words and yet it seemed so meaningful to me. I am in a dilemma as to what to do, my work here in Oxgodby has come to an end yet I do not want to leave. Half of me wants to tell Alice how I feel and run away with her into the night, but it is not to be. I could not understand why she even married Mr Keach, he is so different to her. She has imagination and flare and he has no idea about anything he is completely blind to art! I could make her happy, but I must stop thinking like this.
After an hour of lying in the sun deciding what to do about leaving, I decided that I could not hide my feelings any longer. I had fallen for Alice just like the painter that fell from the scaffolding, with a bump! But the question is how I am going to tell Alice. Do I go to see her before I leave or write her a letter? That’s, what I will do, I will write her a message telling her how I feel and asking her to come back to London with me.
For months now I have wanted to tell you how I feel about you. Everyday when you come to visit me at the church, your beautiful smile and calming voice brighten up my somewhat dreary life . As you know my work at the church has come to an end and I will be leaving at noon today for London. There is no one in my eyes that is as elegant and angelic as you dearest Alice. I ask you to consider coming with me to London. I promise, I will treat you as well as I possibly can and I will do everything within my power to make you happy.
Please read this carefully and meet me at noon today at the railway station. If I don’t see you I will assume that you are staying here in Oxgodby. I love you darling and I hope you will come with me.
All my Love
So I finished packing my bags and walked through the woods (the way Alice had taken me) to the Keach’s house. When I got there Keach was playing his violin and there was no answer at the door so I left the letter on the doorstep. As I was walking away, I took one last look at the house and then at my pocket watch, it was eleven-thirty , if Alice did decide to come with me she would have to be quick . While I was walking through the woods I remembered all the happy times I had spent in Oxgodby. I can still remember my first day as if it were yesterday. Meeting Keach and Mr Moon for the first time, uncovering the mural and having my regular visits from Kathy EllerBeck and the Gramophone . Not forgetting the first time I saw Alice with her beautiful hair and dazzling smile. Just as I could see the end of the path leading to the road, I remembered the time when Alice and I were walking through the wood and I heard that dreadful sound from the Colonels gun . Alice was so understanding she did not ask lots of questions she just comforted me with her calming voice.
When Alice returned from trimming her roses she noticed the letter under the plant pot. She opened the letter curiously, and then sat down on the step, she was completely shocked. As the tears rolled down her face she recalled all the time she had spent with Birkin. She had had some of the happiest times of her life being with him, he had made her happier than Keach ever had. This was her only chance to be free from the Keach and the hold he had on her.
Alice made up her mind quickly and packed her clothes and the few items she could take without Keach realising. But she need not have worried as he was too engrossed in playing his violin to notice. She picked up her bags and took one last glance behind her and walked straight out of the house. As she was walking the sound of the violin became ever more faint. This was unlike her to be so spontaneous but this was the effect Birkin had on her. Although she had the weight of the bag on her shoulder she felt a sense of freedom and that an oppressive weight had been lifted off her. As she walked she heard a noise in the distance, it sounded like the crying of an animal in great pain. She could not live with herself if she did not try to help so she left her bags at the centre of the two paths and ran into the woods following the sound. After about five minutes of running she finally caught site of the poor animal trapped in what looked like a snare. It was a young deer tangled in the wire of an old huntsman’s snare crying and in obvious distress. So Alice untangled the infant deer and before she could check if it was hurt it bounded off into the undergrowth and out of sight. It was as if she was freeing herself from the clutch Keach had had on her for so long.
Then suddenly Alice realised that she would miss the train if she did not hurry. However, she had not followed the path and was slightly disorientated as she had blindly followed the sound of the stricken deer. So she ran as fast as she could to find the path. After a short time she finally rejoined the path again and located her bags where she had left them. She looked at her pocket watch it was ten to twelve she would have to hurry if she wanted to catch the train and meet Birkin. So she ran as fast as she could. As she was getting closer she could hear the sound of the steam train’s engine gathering power in readiness for departure.
Meanwhile Birkin was standing on the platform with his bags in his hands and the same clothes he was wearing the day he arrived in Oxgodby. He looked once again at his pocket watch, the train would be leaving any time. Then the conductor ushered Birkin onto the train. He was heartbroken, he thought Alice had decided to stay with Keach and not come with him to London. As he stepped onto the train and pushed the window down on the door, he heard the sound of the conductor’s whistle. As soon as the steam of the train hit the clean Oxgodby air his dreams of being with Alice were shattered. He turned away from the open window as the platform disappeared in a cloud of steam and smoke.
Tragically Alice arrived at the railway station too late and stood helpless as the train pulled away off the platform and trundled into the distance. Just like her dreams, it was all just a grasp away and a moment too late. She turned from the platform to begin a long and sombre walk home, as she walked she reflected on her recent past and wished she could have changed so many things, and it was a confused conductor who heard her say ” the past is a foreign country , they do things differently there .”