She thought again of her children, those two who had died young, before the later science which might have saved them could attach even a label to their separate malignancies. The girl, her first, she barely remembered. It could have been anyone's infant, for it had not survived the bassinet. But the boy, the boy had been alive yesterday. Each successive movement in his growing was recorded on the unreeling film inside her. He ran on his plump sticks of legs, freezing now and again into the sudden startled attitudes which the camera had caught and held on the paling photographs, all carefully placed and glued and labeled, resting in the fat plush album in the bottom drawer of the escritoire. In the cruel clearness of her memory the boy remained unchanged, quick with the delight of laughter, and the pain with which she recalled that short destroyed childhood was still unendurable to her. It was one with the desolate rocks and the alien water on those days when she hated the sea.
The brothers drove down together in Mark's small red sports car, Mark at the wheel. They rarely spoke. Abel sat and regarded the farm country which, spreading out from both sides of the road, rolled greenly up to where the silent white houses and long barns and silos nested into the tilled fields. He saw the land with a stranger's eyes, all the old familiarness gone. And it presented itself to him as it would to any stranger, impervious, complete in itself. There was stability there, too -- a color which his life had had once. That is what childhood is, he told himself. Solid, settled, lost. In the stiff neutral lines of the telephone poles he saw the no-nonsense pen strokes of Aunt Jessica's letter. What bad grace, what incredible selfishness he and Mark had shown. The boyhood summers preceding their uncle's funeral might never have been. They had closed over, absolutely, with the sealing of old Izaak's grave. The small car flew on relentlessly. The old woman, stubbornly reigning in the house above the crashing waters took on an ominous reality. Abel moved and adjusted his long legs.