Friday, June 22, 2012

Getting On with the Burial

Since they had decided to bury all Seven Friends of Narnia there, but Paul and Helen in London straight afterwards, they were relieved to find things being arranged for them in Sevenoaks. Since they were only two, Susan and Alberta stranded with seven corpses were quite an exceptional emergency.

The policeman made Susan sign an affidavit that the deceased were really Lucy, Edmund and Peter, Eustace and Jill, and so on. It also involved an admission of having taken the rosary out of her sister's hand. She had no problem signing that, she said "I really think she wanted me to have it" and it was accepted.

The mayor of Sevenoaks invited them to stay at the hotel up till the first funeral - which was to be pretty soon.

Susan was suddenly well aware of the fact she was not in black. Her gaudy blue dress from the party yesterday was not quite what one expected mourners to wear, and she had actually been too stricken by the news to change it between 9 and 11. So she want shopping for black. A black skirt reaching down well below the knees? Black nylon? A black top? A white blouse, the only non black item visible? A black handbag? Changing the white shoes for black? And of course a black hat with a wide rim?

Getting that shopping done really gave her some breath from mere heart ache and misery. And though Alberta had at first said she would not wear black, that was so conventional, she joined Susan in the shopping and wore black in the end too. Only she took a black blouse.

Reverend Jenkins felt he was not the man to take on the funeral, since Peter had left and Lucy and Edmund were leaving the Church of England "because of him" - although it was really more a question of the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin. So he gave a call to the retired vicar of All Hallows on the Wall, Reverend Pewsey. And just before dinner that same evening, he told Susan and Alberta he would get back to London and prepare the funeral for the parents, but reverend Pewsey would be doing it here.

Susan felt a certain cringe about that. Since she had decided Narnia was a play verging on illusion, and since she had started therapy, she had been quite distant with Reverend Pewsey, quite preferring the younger and more modern Jenkins, and she had felt it was a relief when Pewsey retired and Jenkins became the new vicar. But now it was the funeral of her brothers and her sister, and she quite well knew they would have felt otherwise.

She accepted. And then she sat down with Aunt Alberta for a dinner. Believe me, she ate, she had hardly eaten anything all day and that and crying your eyes off, which she had been doing now and then does eventually give you some appetite.