Gwen Raverat: Period Piece. A Cambridge Childhood
I think I was about six years old when it happened. It was on a Sunday afternoon in early summer. There had been people to luncheon, and now they were all sitting under the medlar tree on the Little Island. Presently I left them and came in and went up to the night-nursery—the long, big, old night-nursery, with the wavy floor, and the great window at the end, which looked right down on the river beneath. The medlar tree was just opposite on the other bank, and I could see bits of the ladies‘ summer dresses through the leaves, and hear their voices and those of the men, in a pattern of light and dark, with sometimes a laugh, all gay and self-conscious and sociable. The sun was shining and the river was flowing smoothly down, with the tiny noise that you could only hear if you listened for it.
And then, with the sun shining, it began to rain. Not much, but a few big drops falling splash, splash, on the green lilac leaves. And suddenly the world stood still. It simply stopped, and I was quite alone and outside. I did not belong, I was separate, just looking on; outside.
With the next beat of my heart, the world went on again, and everything was quite usual and ordinary. Only I had been outside. This was the first time this happened to me, and I was much shaken and frightened, afterwards it happened often, and I grew used to it. But it was always terrifying and lonely, and seemed to point the contrast between ME and all those other friendly people, who sat there talking under the trees.