I entered Sinclar Drive. It was a short street and there were lots of young trees in front of its houses.

Nothing was new in that street which I knew so very well, but now it was my beloved street and it was wonderful to me.

When I came near Alison’s house, I heard her singing. She was practising; her song was a simple Scottish one. I stopped in front of the gate for a log while and listened.

When there was silence, I entered the garden and rang the bell on the door. Alison was waiting for me in the front room, with her books on the table. Her mother, Mrs. Keith, was sitting by the fire. What a bright and charming room it was !

“You are punctual as usual, Robert”, Mrs. Keith said kindly. “What sort of night is it ?”

“Oh, very nice,” I answered. “You can see the stars.” She smiled: “You can always see the stars, Robert.”

Mrs. Keith watched me with a smile on her kind face, all the time I was working with Alison. Alison was weack at mathematics, while I was good at it, and Mrs. Keith was pleased to see that I helping her daughter.

“What are you teaching my daughter now, Robert ?”

“Euclid, Mrs. Keith,” I said shyly.

“It’s so difficult,” said Alison.

“Oh, no, Alison, it’s very easy.” And I began to teach her.

When the lesson was over, it was half past eight. I wanted to speak to Alison, but I did not dare. I wrote down in her exercise-book: “Will you come to the door with me tonight ?”

She looked at me and wrote: “What for ?”

I wrote back: “I have something to tell you.”

Ten minute later, I stood up and said good night to Mrs. Keith. Alison wanted to see me out.

“I heard you singing, Alison.”

Yes, I”ve begun to work a lot. Miss Gramb is teaching me.” Silence. We reached the gate, but it was very difficult to speak.

“Alison, yesterday something happened to me. My teacher told me I might sit for a scholarship.”

“Oh, Robert !” she exclaimed.

“I cannot win it, but I wanted to tell you.”

“Oh, you must try, Robert, you can get it, of course, you can.” I looked at Alison. Beautiful words lay behind my tongue, but I could not speak them.

“Good night, Alison.”

“Good night, Robert.”

I was young. And I felt life was  wonderful.

from A. J. Cronin, Alison

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