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Byline: By Eiluned Lewis

Delia soon recovered and was allowed to walk about the house, wearing a shawl in the passages. She employed her time painting all the illustrations in The Crimson Fairy Book and labelling the flowers she had pressed the summer before. They looked brown and dejected, poor things; although Delia wrote under each one such names as Stitchwort, Ladys Smock and Coltsfoot in her best Jacksons Upright Copy Book handwriting, it was difficult to imagine that these flattened corpses had once blown in the fields or nestled happily under green hedges. But Lucy stayed in bed with a head that ached too much to invent any more poetry, or even to read books to herself. She spent a great deal of time drawing imaginary pictures on the ceiling with one finger pictures of knights on horseback, and ladies with flying hair, running, running as fast as they could through haunted woods. These pictures naturally vanished as soon as they were made, and the grown-ups discouraged the practice. They said Lucy looked like a half-wit, lying in bed, waggling her finger at the ceiling; but the moment they were out of the room she began again, although it was hard to explain to anyone the fascination of that blank, white ceiling like an enormous drawing-book with no need of an india-rubber. When she was tired of drawing there was always the screen with which to pass the time. This screen had been made a great many years before by Sh--n and her friends when they were young, and now it had been carried into the bedroom to keep the draught from Lucys head. It did far more than keep away draughts, it provided a world in which a sick childs fancy might wander all day and not grow weary.

Under a coating of golden- brown varnish the strangest things occurred, without trouble or inconvenience, since paste and scissors had made all things equal. Time, space, geography and proportion were obliterated and the most incompatible happenings were matched, sobered and pickled for ever in the amber of varnish and slow time.

Here a stagecoach lumbered along a road which ended in a waterfall, and under the waterfall ladies and gentlemen in straw boaters and bustles played a serene game of croquet. Here Christian was armed for his meeting with Apollyon by the sisters Discretion, Prudence, Piety and Charity; while near by, two children and a collie dog crossed a daisied meadow on their way to school. Crumbling ruins, outlined against a moonlit sky, got strangely mixed with a flock of gigantic geese; a gentleman with side whiskers, romantically climbing a ladder, was obviously about to step into a room where a bishop in gaiters slept in a chair, and a lady, twice as big as the ladder, played and sang plaintively at the piano. Continues tomorrow
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 4, 2007
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