Mair was allowed to come with us to the laboratory. Her father believed that this was for the best, so she could see with her own eyes how powerful a force time was, and that we didn’t have a chance against it. Llywarch had had a word on the videophone with her company’s producer in the Theatre, and after some protesting he agreed that Mair’s understudy could take her place again that night.
There was a tear even in Mrs. Llywarch’s eye as I bade farewell to her.
“I can’t say ‘come back soon’ to you, Ifan,” she said. “But I can say that I’ve enjoyed having you here exceptionally, and I’ll think about you often. And I hope you think of us from time to time.”
“I shall, Mrs. Llywarch. Thank you very much for your welcome. And… well, good night.”
That last journey through the beauty of Cardiff was painful for me. The evening sun fell on its towers, its colourful houses and its trees, and on the lads and girls who greeted each other as they walked through its streets, enjoying life and living for a purpose. Traffic flowed along the radiomagnetic roads, steadily and pleasantly. And I was going through the midst of all of it in Llywarch’s car, holding Mair’s hand, like a man on his way to the gallows.
Llywarch told us both to go into the small side-room, the one that I’d first walked into from the laboratory six nights ago. He wisely closed the door on us. Mair was pale, and I was silent. After a while, I said,
“Everything’s happened so quickly, Mair.”
“Did your father explain to you?” I said then.
“Yes, he explained.”
“This is for our own good.”
“So he said.”
I fell silent again. At last, I couldn’t hold back any longer and I held her. She lay her head on my shoulder and began to sob.
“Don’t cry, Mair.”
“That’s silly advice.”
“You have lots of admirers. You said that to me one night…”
“I haven’t loved any of them.”
“You shall. After I’ve gone…”
“Why do you have to go? Oh, I know that my father has said it’s not safe for you to stay, but…”
“You father knows best. I spoke like a fool at tea-time, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving you. But now…”
“Help me to be brave, Ifan.”
She dried her eyes. She turned the two big dark eyes towards me and said,,
“I’ll remember these days all my life. They weren’t for nothing, were they, Ifan?”
“No, Mair. Not for nothing.”
She kissed me on the cheek, and then opened the door. Llywarch was standing there.
“Well, my children, we’re ready if you are. Come through here for a minute, Ifan. You’d better change your clothes before starting off.”
I changed back into the clothes I’d arrived in a week before. Then Llywarch asked me to lie down on the couch next to the big translucent machine which was all dials. The lad called Gwilym stood alongside the machine, and Llywarch stood over my head. His face was kind.
“The journey back will be easier than the journey here, Ifan. All you need to do is completely relax. The machine will do the rest. Don’t mourn over leaving us. Once you’re back, do all you can to make Wales free. This prosperous Wales that we live in today depends on what you did in your own time, and all who worked with you. Safe travels, Ifan.”
Then he turned to Gwilym, and said,
Gwilym flicked switch on the machine, and the couch beneath me started vibrating softly.
“Motion six,” said Gwilym.
“Mesmeriser,” said Lywarch.
Gwilym pulled a lever, and I felt myself sinking slowly into a pleasant stupor. Llywarch looked at me.
“Level ten,” he said.
“Mesmeriser level ten,” said Gwilym.
And those were the last words I heard. I was slipping further, further all the time. The last thing I saw before my eyes darkened was Mair’s face, and in a strange way that gave me peace as I began my journey.