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Gene Forrester is narrating this. He has returned to Devon after a time of emotional trauma and healing. The visit seems to be the last step of his recovery in coming to terms with the past. The mood of the first several pages is nostalgic but always anchored down by a tension and melancholy. The day is described as one sombre where Gene could feel "fear's echo" in the air. There is an emptiness about the school which seems to match up with how he feels.