I have not been to the settlement for many years, as my route across the island lies in the dry, hummocky heart of it, and the house to which I go is at the opposite end, looking northwest toward the shore of Edisto. But when I think of it, I feel nothing but a kind of mindless, nostalgic sense of safety and benevolence. Dayclear has never given me anything but nurturing and love.
Clay fears it, though. He has never said so, but I know that he does. I can tell; I always know when Clay is afraid, because he so seldom is, and of almost nothing.
"There's nothing there that can hurt me; nobody who would," I have said to him. "They're just poor old women and babies and children."
"You don't know who's back in there," he said. "You don't see who comes and goes. Anybody could come across. There are places you could wade across. Anybody could drop anchor in the Inland Waterway and come ashore. You think everybody in that little place doesn't know when you're at the house, and that you're by yourself? I don't like it when you go, Caro. But you know that."
I did know, and do. But he does not forbid me to go to the island. For one thing, Clay is not a forbidden; he would find it distasteful, unseemly, to forbid his wife anything, the operative word being distasteful. Clay is a fastidious man, both physically and emotionally.
For another thing, I own part of the island. And if there is anything Clay respects, it is the right of eminent domain.
But the main reason he does not want me on the island alone is that he is afraid that I will drink there. I do drink sometimes, though by no means often, but when I do I tend to do it rather excessively.
LOW COUNTRY. Copyright (c) 1998 by Anne Rivers Siddon. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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