The Thief of Always

by Clive Barker

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What happens in chapter 14 of The Thief of Always?

In chapter 14, Harvey makes his way back to his parents' home after having escaped from the Holiday House. His father does not initially recognize him and has a hard time understanding how this boy can possibly be their son who left more than thirty years earlier. Harvey's mother, on the other hand, recognizes her son immediately and helps her husband to understand that Harvey has returned home.

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In chapter 14, Harvey and Wendell get to the center of town having escaped from the Holiday House. They go their separate ways, and as dawn approaches, Harvey heads toward what promises to be an emotional reunion with his parents—completely unaware that every day he spent at the Holiday House was actually a year and that while he has not aged, his parents have aged dramatically in the time that he has been gone.

Around the time that "the birds in the trees started their twitterings," he reaches his home and knocks on the door. His father asks who it is, clearly unimpressed to receive a visitor at such an hour. When Harvey first sees his aged father's face, he doesn't recognize him, and it is only when his mother appears behind him that the penny drops.

Harvey knew that face better than any on earth. It was the first face he'd ever loved. It was his mother.

His mother recognizes her son immediately, and she begins to cry. His father, however, approaches the situation pragmatically, pointing out that thirty-one years have passed since they saw their son and that the boy on their doorstep therefore cannot possibly be him. In his state of disbelief, Harvey's father tries to slam the door in his son's face, but his mother catches the door and points out that the clothes that Harvey is wearing are the same clothes that he had been wearing the night he left.

After questioning how his wife could possibly remember what his son was wearing when he left all those years ago, he suddenly realizes that it truly is his son standing in front of him. His next question is whether he is looking at a ghost, which is met with ridicule by his wife.

It is at that moment that Harvey realizes that what he has been experiencing as days, his parents have experienced as years.

The chapter concludes with Harvey telling his parents that he wants to tell them what happened before he goes to sleep.

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