Deleted end of Chapter 26:
…After a bit, Uncle Eric took his stick, and began to stand up. Dora moved across to help him.
‘Thank you, my dear.’
‘Now I must have a rest. I do hope you will join me for dinner.’
‘I need to go out and do a bit of shopping if you don’t mind.’
‘No, not at all. Salim will tell you the best places.’
He walked slowly but steadily out of the room. It was interesting for him too meeting family again after all these years. He lay down on his bed and dozed. Meeting Dora had brought his family vividly back into his consciousness. As he drifted on the edge of sleep, an incident came back to him that he had not thought about for years.
It must have been early June 1940. Eric had been alone in his rooms in Trinity Great Court, asleep with his head on a book just as dawn was breaking. A slight noise had woken him. He’d looked up, surprised to see a khaki leg draped casually over the arm of his fireside chair.
He’d been listening to the news on the wireless constantly for days, worried sick about his father and his twin retreating with the British Expeditionary Force ahead of the German advance. Feeling impotent and helpless that he was not there.
So who was the soldier in his room so early in the morning? Eric remembered fear, then relief when he recognised his brother’s voice. It didn’t seem in the least bit strange at the time. He had felt filled with affection and a sense of parting. When he had woken again, it was broad daylight and no one was there. Probably a dream brought on by his intense engagement with events in France.
A few days later, when his brother’s commanding officer had arrived back from Dunkirk, he had telephoned with the news that George had died on the beach. He had lost his mother as well around the same time. All his life since he had mourned, but the cloudy memory of that strange farewell comforted him now. Of course it wasn’t possible, was it?