It’s Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019, and today
I’m on page 219 of The Children Act. There, in court, with the authority and dignity
of her position, she offered him, instead of death, all of life and love that lay ahead
of him. And protection against his religion. Without
faith, how open and beautiful and terrifying the world must have seemed to him.
With that thought she slipped back into a deeper sleep and woke minutes later to the
singing and the sighing of the gutters. Would it ever stop raining?
She saw the solitary figure making his way up the drive of Leadman Hall, bent against
the rainstorm, finding a way in the dark, hearing the falling branches.
He must have seen ahead the lights in the house and known she was there. He shivered
in an outhouse, wondering, waiting for his chance to talk to her, risking everything
in the pursuit of – what exactly? And believing he could get it from a woman
in her sixtieth year who had risked nothing in life beyond a few reckless episodes in
Newcastle a long time ago. She should have been flattered. And ready.
Instead, on a powerful and unforgivable impulse, she kissed him, then sent him away. The ran
away herself. Failed to answer his letters. Failed to decipher
the warning in his poem. How ashamed she was now of her petty fears
for her repudiation. Her transgression lay beyond the reach of any disciplinary [panel].
Adam came looking for her and she offered nothing in religion’s place, no protection,
even though the Act was clear, her paramount consideration was his welfare.
How many pages in how many judgments had she devoted to that term?
Welfare, well-being, was social. No child is an island. She thought her responsibilities
ended at the courtroom walls. But how could they? He came to find her, wanting what everyone wanted, and what only free-thinking people,
not the supernatural, could give. Meaning. What are you reading today?