Poor Virginia, whose large white house we saw, threw herself into a river in 1941. One of the guides at Monk’s House said it was at the end of a long flat country road that leaves the village, runs half a mile, and terminates at the Ouse with a rise. The Ouse (pronounced “ooze”) is a tidal river channelled between embankments; it flows above fields. As such, it runs backwards much of the time through a broad channel without trees or shade, more interstate than waterway. Its banks are lined with large gray broken stones, the kind Virginia used as ballast, and a sort of low, marine brush that feeds off the tides and is not to be found in the surrounding fields. The whole channel is a very human construction with none of the curves or inefficiencies of a natural riverbed, and seems a very sad place to die. A strong wind blew upriver as we walked toward the train station at Southease, making conversation almost impossible, and the charms of the country, so evident two hours before, faded with our pace. The air and sky were blank, withdrawn; the far hills clearly visible and somewhat imposing.
Standing on the embankment, you can look north to Lewes and south almost to Newhaven, where the river meets the sea. Rodmell is in the middle, a pocket of country preserved between two freeways and untouched by the rampant apartments by the seaside.