New World Aborning
January-February 1995By Sheldon Vanauken
Sheldon Vanauken is a writer in Virginia and a Contributing Editor of the NOR. His books include A Severe Mercy, an award-winning bestseller.
Waiting there in the echoing train station, I thought about the recent abdication of the King of England: I too was leaving one life for another, though not because of a woman. Edward VIII was going, as the joke had it, from being the ruler of the Royal Navy to being the second mate of a tramp. And I was going from being the heir of Beech Hill to -- what? I did not know; tomorrow was veiled.
Then the New York train -- The Southerner -- was called. I picked up my single suitcase and looked about, half expecting to see my uncle's grim face, and walked towards the train shed. A newsboy was shouting an "EXTRA" -- something about FDR and the Court -- and I heard a businessman ahead of me mutter "that damned traitor!" to his companion. The colored porter of the Pullman gave me a wide grin and reached for my bag, saying, "Yes suh!"
Settling into my seat at the end of the car, I glanced at the kindly-looking elderly gentleman facing me. He watched me as I took out three books I'd brought along in a paper bag. One was I'll Take My Stand, and the others were Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Huxley's Brave New World, in which I wanted to reread the arguments of the future World Controller, Mustafa Mond. Despite gritting my mental teeth at the thought of him, I decided I was not in the mood -- not today -- to settle down and read.
There was a last shout of "All aboard!" and then the clang of doors shutting and a jerk, and the journey had begun. As the train emerged into the afternoon sunshine, I saw the spire of my church, St. Dominic's, touched with gold, and wondered when, if ever, I should see it again.
You have two options:
- Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
- Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.
If you're already a subscriber log-in here.