Looking Backwards

“Whose picture is this, Daddy?” The little blond girl is 11 years old, and, as she flips through the iScraps, her smooth round face shows the first twinge of the questioning mind that will disturb the complacency on which all future happiness depends.

“That’s my grandfather.”

“Your grandfather?  He doesn’t look a bit like us,” she said, staring at the image.  “He’s black-haired with a pinched face, and squinting as if the light hurt his eyes.  And he doesn’t look a thing like your grandfather.”

“You’re thinking of my father’s father, whom you used to play antique video games with at the Happy Valley.  This is my mother’s father.  He died long before you were born.  I can barely remember him, but people who knew him say he was a strange bird.  He was a writer of some kind, but he seemed to spend most his time reading dead languages.  It’s funny to think, but his language is now as dead as the ancient ones he cared so much about.”

“What language did your grandfather speak?”

“It was called English, just like what we speak, but it has so changed that most people have to take a course in Old Modern English—sometimes they call it Christian English—just to read those old writers.  It was full of difficult rules that no one wanted...

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