An attempt at a narrative Style


An attempt at a narrative Style

We took the night train from Edinburgh to Birmingham, on our way to Stratford-upon-Avon. One encounters an interesting class of people in an economy car at night. Some read, many sleep, a few write furiously in their notebooks. Others talk loudly and carelessly, with no apparent concern for anyone but themselves. A group of these sat across from us, drinking beer and playing cards, and I watched them through the reflection in the window.
They were soldiers, obviously soldiers. They wore no uniforms, but by their haircuts, their careless, worldly manner, and the duffle-bags each had slung on the rack overhead, it was impossible to mistake them.  Probably they were on leave, on their way to the city to spend their money in whatever wild ways they could find.
And, they were young.  Nineteen, I guess, or twenty, not more than that. I rather doubt that most of them had to shave yet every day; probably all of them did anyhow. One I watched for a long time who seemed younger than the rest.  All I could see in my window was the reflected image of his profile, the right side of his face. From that profile I gained the impression that he still retained some of the happiness of childhood, ready to talk and listen about any subject, not questioning what was said to him and taking genuine pleasure in the fellowship of his companions, and seeming unaware of their worldly-wise coarseness and cynicism. All this was communicated to me by the smoothness of the right side of his face and forehead, his right eye which was wide open, and the simple upward curve of the right side of his mouth.
Only once or twice did I glance at him directly across the aisle, and saw his other profile in the window to his left. Here his mouth was still curved, but with a slight wrinkle to it; his left eye somewhat narrowed with the eyebrow tilting toward the nose; his forehead slightly lined. How subtle the difference, yet how total the change! If I had met that right profile at a party, I would have instantly recognized a friendly, open person, but young and perhaps in need of some protection and encouragement; yet that left side revealed a suspicion, a cynicism, a self-sufficiency, a youth not untouched by the rough edges of the world, but on his guard and hostile to my strange and prying eyes.

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