Veronica Westlake's The Ten Pound Pony is one of my absolute favourite books, and hopefully one of Susan Keith's, who suggested this, too. This excerpt is set on Christmas Eve (as is tomorrow's), and I really need to say nothing about it as it makes all the points it needs to perfectly well on its own.
We all went to bed for a short time after that, as later on we should be walking three miles into New Fratton (and back) to go to Midnight Mass there, and I think we were all in a strange, dreamy, unreal state when, with a slight shiver, we stepped out into the brilliant moonlight and started our long walk through a shining fairy-land of frost and snow.
It must have been that queer trance between sleeping and waking that set me thinking and wondering about Colonel Mainwaring. Beastly as he had always been to us, incomprehensible in his headstrong rages, I yet felt sorry for him as I sat in the warm, glowing little church looking at the bright colours on the altar and hearing the first strains of the Adeste Fideles pealing out.
Later on, as laughing and joking we pelted towards home and saw our funny little cottage, looking just like a Christmas cake in the moonlight, with the little candle in the window burning steadily in its bowl of moss, and a log fire, and the tiny glittering Christmas tree waiting for us inside, I wondered if he were shut up alone reading in his big, empty shuttered house from which all life and love seemed to have been driven - lonely and alone."
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