20 September, in the year of our Lord 2021
Up, and after breakfast I about the little business I had in mind when I did think to come here. For a short walk away, on the road and facing the inn, is the little cottage that was my parents, which they had for more than 20 years, and which they come to live in at times, during the year, though it a very long journy from their bigger house. Only they did sell it fourteen years since, as my father tells me, and have not seen it since, and I for longer still. And I feel a quickening of my heart as I approach it, and a thought comes into my mind that perhaps it were better to keep it all trapped in the past and to turn, and satisfy myselfe with just a backward glance. But then I think this to be the foyble of a younger selfe, for this is the very thing I came to do, and so push open the paynted gate and knock upon the front door, which is ajar, and the sun up upon it, and pretty flowers in boxes on the windowsills outside. And comes a mans voice, ‘Go round the back!’ which brings a smile to my face, for my parents always used the back door too. And then hurrys the woman of the house around the corner to my right, for she hath heard me, and she smiles and asks me if I am who I am, and I say, ‘Yes, I am he,’ and she leads me to the back garden.
And I look around, and recognise all the entirety of it. The old caravan hath gone, in which my father stored his peat to dry, and in its place a fine wooden shed, given over to an Office, and the shrubs are neat, and the grass cut.
‘Would you like to come in?’ says she. ‘You must excuse the mess. We just got back from Dunedin last night.’
And so I do, humbled by the kindness of her; and there to my left is the little kitchen, with its sink and its stove, and before me the little hallway where we did hang our wet coats, and the step up into the living room, with its hearth unchanged and its cupboards just so; for they have changed nothing, save only it is their own tables, and chairs, and books, and all the trappings of the everyday, and all lived in and with a homely warmth. And I recount all this in the manner of, ‘There is the little oven by the hearth that never really worked, and there the cupboard where we aired the sheets,’ and by and by are joyned by the husband, who is a little stooped with age but hath a twinkle in his eye. And we exchange some discourse as to the plans they had, for a new room in the roof, and this, and that, but none come to pass, as is the nature of many plans. And of how once came to visit the son of the man who owned the place even before my mother and father, who still saw his father’s hand in some carpentery here, and some plaster work there; and outside was even the little wooden shed for coal that his father built and mine inherited, and it is still there, only a tiny bit rotten at the base, just as I remembered it.
It was forty years ago that I first set eyes upon this little house, and twenty-five since I last set eyes upon it. I had expected tears, but there were none, for wonderment expunged them, so little was it touched by the passage of time. And after a while I made my thanks and quietly left, only making a couple of sketches of its walls from the road to show my mother and father, and of the little plate with its paynted name. Railway Cottage.
After, we walked along the stony path that winds along the lake nearby, which the locals call Loch Morrar, only it become wet, which again was not foretold, and we come home. And after supper I set to write my Journall for the day, and find it a curious thing, that now I write the words is when the tears come.