I didn't really follow all this, but I think it dawned on me later, when I was trudging back up the path to tell Dad about the fish, that Mum had said "when we leave," and that meant, the world was not going to be like this forever and ever, and things would be better soon--at least, for us.
When I got to the house door, Dad was stuffing things into bags. A big pot of porridge--lots of it, I noticed glumly--was boiling on the side.
"Oh, there you are! Exciting news," he said, trying to put on a pleased face over his worried one. "We're setting off back home. We've had absolutely last orders to get out. The war is coming here and anyway, the last people have left--there's no one here for us to help anymore. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of time before the soldiers start moving."
I wondered why he was hurrying with his packing so much, if there wasn't any danger, but I didn't say anything, just stood there with the mud on me sliding slightly toward the ground. He looked up from pushing a battered saucepan into a duffel bag and took another look at me.
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, look at you. Still, you may as well use up all the water now for washing. I've packed what we'll need. There's no time to dry those clothes, that's all. Look, just leave them here. You just need clean ones on and some warm ones in your bag for the nights."
Excerpted from Fish by L. S. Matthews Copyright© 2004 by L. S. Matthews. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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