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The folding star histori.., p.48
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       The Folding Star: Historical Fiction, p.48

           Alan Hollinghurst

  The jeep was a raucous starter – and after that it took a while to figure out the lights and the dip-switch. Getting into reverse proved tricky too. But then I was out of the gate, sitting high up, ready for off, hearing in the growl of the exhaust a tremor of that first outing to the sea; I went jerkily round the block, getting used to being in control, quite hoping I’d pass Matt walking home, then relieved I hadn’t. I came up to a red light behind a little Fiat with three lads across the back, two more in front, joking and rowdy, off to a good time; my beam stroked the clean backs of their necks. I revved forlornly, and one of them turned, took in the flashy chrome and zipped-up rally lamps, and grinned – while the driver, scenting a challenge, revved as well, and when the light changed shot forward with a squeal. I let them go.

  Out of town the night was windy and glossy, the lights of farms and isolated houses burned clear across the fields, or bare treetops dipped and splintered them. For a while the road followed the high embankment of the sea-canal, the water black and barely visible below. There was no shipping in it, only the archaic hulk of a dredger, its platform lit and deserted. I rested my free hand on the seat beside me, as if on the thigh of an invisible passenger. The jeep’s hood gibbered at its fastenings.

  Luc was waiting at Ostend, staring out to sea through salt-stippled glass. He looked hollow-cheeked, eyes narrowed in hurt and defiance; I felt he had been robbed of his beauty, and that I would hardly have singled him out from the other kids around him. He had become a victim, to be stared at and pitied, to provoke pity for his family and friends – and just at the moment when his future was clearing like hills in the first light, to be ready for him when he woke. I stood in front of him and repeated his name, though I knew he couldn’t see me, or recall the night he had taken my life in his arms. He gazed past me, as if in a truer kinship with the shiftless sea. A few late walkers passed us, and saw me vigilant in my huge unhappy overcoat; they didn’t know if it was the charts of tides and sunsets I was studying, or the named photos of the disappeared.

  This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

  Version 1.0

  Epub ISBN 9781409002215

  Published by Vintage 1998

  15 17 19 20 18 16 14

  Copyright © Alan Hollinghurst 1994

  The right of Alan Hollinghurst to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

  The lines from ‘There’s Nothing Like Marriage for People’ by Ira Gershwin, © Warner Chappell Music Ltd, are reproduced by permission of IMP Ltd

  First published in Great Britain by

  Chatto & Windus Ltd 1994

  Vintage edition 1995


  Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,

  London SW1V 2SA

  Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

  ISBN 9780099476917



  Alan Hollinghurst, The Folding Star: Historical Fiction



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