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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tin Soldier - BOOK TWO _ THROUGH THE CRACK - Chapter XX. THE VISION OF BRAVE WOMEN
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The Tin Soldier - BOOK TWO _ THROUGH THE CRACK - Chapter XX. THE VISION OF BRAVE WOMEN Post by :Gobala_Krishnan Category :Long Stories Author :Temple Bailey Date :April 2012 Read :570

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The Tin Soldier - BOOK TWO _ THROUGH THE CRACK - Chapter XX. THE VISION OF BRAVE WOMEN

BOOK TWO THROUGH THE CRACK - CHAPTER XX. THE VISION OF BRAVE WOMEN

And now the Tin Soldier was to go to the wars!

Derry, swinging downtown, found himself gazing squarely into the eyes of the khaki-clad men whom he met. He was one of them at last!

He was on his way to meet Jean. The day before they had gone to church together. They had heard burning words from a fearless pulpit. The old man who had preached had set no limits on his patriotism. The cause of the Allies was the cause of humanity, the cause of humanity was the cause of Christ. He would have had the marching hymn of the Americans "Onward, Christian Soldiers." His Master was not a shrinking idealist, but a prophet unafraid. "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! . . . It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of Judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto Heaven, shall be brought down to hell . . ."

"I am too old to go myself," the old man had said, "but I have sent my sons. In the face of the world's need, no man has a right to hold another back. Personal considerations which might once have seemed sufficient must now be set aside. Things are at stake which involve not only the honor of a nation but the honor of the individual. To call a man a coward in the old days was to challenge his physical courage. To know him as a slacker in these modern times is to doubt the quality of his mind and spirit. 'I pray thee have me excused' is the word of one lost to the high meanings of justice--of love and loyalty and liberty--"

Stirring words. The lovers had thrilled to them. Derry's hand had gone out to Jean and her own hand clasped it. Together they saw the vision of his going forth, a shining knight, girded for the battle by a beloved woman--saw it through the glamour of high hopes and youthful ardor!

A troop of cavalry on the Avenue! Jackies in saucer caps, infantry, artillery, aviation! Blue and red and green cords about wide-brimmed hats. Husky young Westerners, slim young Southerners, square-chinned young Northerners--a great brotherhood, their faces set one way--and he was to share their hardships, to be cold and hungry with the best of them, wet and dirty with the worst. It would be a sort of glorified penance for his delay in doing the thing which too long he had left undone.

He was to have lunch with Jean in the House restaurant--he was a little early, and as he loitered through the Capitol grounds, in his ears there was the echo of fairy trumpets--"_trutter-a-trutt, trutter-a-trutt--_"

The old Capitol had always been for Derry a place of dreams. He loved every inch of it. The sunset view of the city from the west front; the bronze doors on the east, the labyrinthine maze of the corridors; the tesselated floors, the mottled marble of the balustrades; the hushed approach to the Supreme Court; the precipitous descent into the galleries of House and Senate, the rap of the Speaker's gavel--the rattle of argument as political foes contended in the legislative arena; the more subdued squabbles on the Senate floor; the savory smell of food rising from the restaurants in the lower regions; the climb to the dome, the look of the sky when one came out at the top; Statuary Hall and its awesome echoes; the Rotunda with its fringe of tired tourists, its frescoed frieze--Columbus, Cortez, Penn, Pizarro--; the mammoth paintings--Pocahontas, and the Pilgrims, De Soto, and the Surrender of Cornwallis, the Signing of the Declaration, and Washington's Resignation as Commander-in-Chief--Indian and Quaker, Puritan and Cavalier--these were some of the things which had ravished the eyes of the boy Derry in the days when his father had come to the Capitol to hobnob with old cronies, and his son had been allowed to roam at will.

But above and beyond everything else, there were the great mural paintings on the west wall of the House side, above the grand marble staircase.

"_Westward the Course of Empire takes its way--!_"

Oh, those pioneers with their faces turned towards the Golden West! The tired women and the bronzed men! Not one of them without that eager look of hope, of a dream realized as the land of Promise looms ahead!

Derry had often talked that picture over with his mother. "It was such men, Derry, who made our country--men unafraid--North, South, East and West, it was these who helped to shape the Nation's destiny, as we must help to shape it for those who come after us."

It was in front of this picture that he was to meet Jean. He had wanted to share with her the inspiration of it.

She was late, and he waited, leaning on the marble rail which overlooked the stairway. People were going up and down passing the picture, but not seeing it, their pulses calm, their blood cold. The doors of the elevators opened and shut, women came and went in velvet and fur, laughing. Men followed them, laughing, and the picture was not for them.

Derry wondered if it were symbolic, this indifference of the crowd. Was the world's pageant of horrors and of heroism thus unseen by the eyes of the unthinking?

And now Jean ascended, the top of her hat first--a blur of gray, then the red of the rose that he had sent her, a wave of her gray muff as she saw him. He went down to meet her, and stood with her on the landing. Beneath the painting, on one side, ran the inscription, "No pent up Utica confines our powers, but the boundless Continent is ours," on the other side, "The Spirit moves in its allotted space; the mind is narrow in a narrow sphere."

Thousands of men and women came and went and never read those words. But boys read them, sitting on the stairs or leaning over the rail--and their minds were carried on and on. Old men, coming back after years to read them again, could testify what the words had meant to them in the field of high endeavor.

Jean had seen the painting many times, but now, standing on the upper gallery floor with Derry, it took on new meanings. She saw a girl with hope in her eyes, a young mother with a babe at her breast; homely middle-aged women redeemed from the commonplace by that long gaze ahead of them; old women straining towards that sunset glow. She saw, indeed, the Vision of Brave Women. "If it could only be like that for me, Derry. Do you see--they go with their husbands, those women, and I must stay behind."

"You will go with me, beloved, in spirit--"

They fell into silence before the limitless vista.

And now more people were coming up the stairs, a drawling, familiar voice--Alma Drew on the landing below. With her a tall young man. She was turning on him all her batteries of charm.

Alma passed the picture and did not look at it, she passed the lovers and did not see them. And she was saying as she passed, "I don't know why any man should be expected to fight. I shouldn't if I were a man."

Jean drew a long breath. "There, but for the grace of God, goes Jean McKenzie."

Derry laughed. "You were never like that. Not for the least minute. You were afraid for the man you loved. It isn't fear with Alma."

But the thought of Alma did not trouble them long. There was too much else in their world today. As they walked through the historic halls, they had with them all the romance of the past--and so Robert Fulton with his boats, Pere Marquette with his cross and beads, Frances Willard in her strange old-fashioned dress spoke to them of the dreams which certain inspired men and women have translated into action.

They talked of these things while they ate their lunch. The black waiter, who knew Derry, hovered about them. His freedom, too, had been the culmination of a dream.

"Men laugh at the dreamers," Derry said, "then honor them after they are dead."

"That's the cruelty, the sadness of it, isn't it?"

"Not to the dreamer. Do you think that Pere Marquette cared for what smaller minds might think, or Frances Willard? They had their vision backed by a great faith in the rightness of things, and so Marquette followed the river and planted the cross, and Frances Willard blazed the way for the thing which has come to pass."

After lunch they motored to Drusilla's. They used one of Dr. McKenzie's cars. Derry had ceased to draw upon his father's establishment for anything. He lived at the club, and met his expenses with the small balance which remained to his credit in the bank.

"You can give Jean whatever you think best," he told the Doctor, "but I shall try to live on what I have until I go, and then on my pay."

"Your pay, my dear boy, will just about equal what you now spend in tips."

"I think I shall like it. It's an adventure for rich men when they have to be poor. That's why a lot of fellows have gone into it. They are tired of being the last word in civilization. They want to get down to primitive things."

"Mrs. Witherspoon can't imagine Derry Drake without two baths a day."

"Can't she? Well, Mrs. Witherspoon may find that Derry Drake is about like the rest of the fellows. No better and no worse. There is no disgrace in liking to be clean. The disgrace comes when one kicks against a thing that can't be helped."

In the Doctor's car, therefore, they arrived at Drusilla's.

"We have come to tell you that we are going to be married."

"You Babes in the Wood!"

"Will you come to the wedding?

"Of course I'll come. Marion, do you hear? They are going to be married."

"And after that, Drusilla,"--he smiled as he phrased it--"your Tin Soldier will go to the wars."

Jean glanced from one to the other. "Is that what she called you--a Tin Soldier?"

"It is what I called myself."

Marion having come forward to say the proper thing, added, "Drusilla's going, too."

"Drusilla?"

"Yes, with my college unit--to run errands in a flivver."

The next day, encountering Derry on the street, Drusilla opened her knitting bag and brought out a tiny parcel. "It's my wedding gift to you. I found it in Emily's toy shop."

It was a gay little French tin soldier. "For a mascot;" she told him, seriously. "Derry, dear, I shall not try to tell you how I feel about your marriage to Jean. About your going. If I could sing it, you'd know. But I haven't any words. It--it seems so--perfect that the Tin Soldier should go--to the wars--and that the girl he leaves behind him should be a little white maid like--Jean."

Thus Drusilla, with a shake in her voice, renouncing a--dream.

Derry, who was on his way to Margaret's showed the tin soldier to Teddy and his little sister. "He is going to the wars."

"With you?"

"Yes."

"When are you going?"

"As soon as I can--"

"I should think you wouldn't like to leave us."

"Well, I don't. But I am coming back."

"Daddy didn't come back."

"But some men do."

"Perhaps God doesn't love you as much as He did Daddy, and He won't want to keep you."

"Perhaps not--"

The things which the child had spoken stayed with Derry all that day. His feeling about death had always been that of a man who has long years before him. He had rather jauntily conceded that some men die young, but that the chances in his case were for a green old age. He might indeed have fifty years before him, and in fifty years one could--get ready--age had to do with serious things, people were peaceful and prepared.

But to get ready now. To face the thing squarely, saying, "I may not come back--there are, indeed, a thousand chances that I shall not come." Lacking those fifty years in which to grow towards the thought of dissolution, what ought one to do? Should a man make himself fit in some special fashion?

There was, too, the thought of those whom he might leave behind. Of Jean--his wife--whom he would leave. She would break her heart--at first. And then--? Would she remember? Would she forget? Would he and those millions of others who had gone down in battle become dim memories--pale shadows against the vivid background of the hurrying world?

He felt that he could not, must not speak of these things to Jean. So he talked of them to Emily.

"If anything should happen to me," he said, "I couldn't, of course, expect that Jean would go on--caring--. And if there should ever be anyone else--I--I should want her to be happy."

"Don't try to be magnanimous," Miss Emily advised. "You are human, and it isn't in the heart of man to want the woman he loves ever to turn to another. Let the years take care of that. But you can be very sure of one thing--that no one will ever take your place with Jean."

"But she may marry."

"Why should you torture yourself with that? You have given her something that no one else can ever give--the wonder and rapture of first love. And the heroes of a war like this will be in a very special manner set apart! 'A glorious company, the flower of men, to serve as models for the mighty world!'"

She laid her hand on his shoulder. "You must think now only of love and life and of coming back to Jean."

He reached up his hand and caught hers in a warm clasp. "Do you know you are the nearest, thing to a mother that I've known since I lost mine?"

He spoke, too, rather awkwardly, of the feeling about--getting ready.

"I have always thought that if I tried to live straight--I've thought, too, that it wouldn't come until I was old--that I should have plenty of time--and that by then, I should be more--spiritual."

"You will never be more spiritual than you are at this moment. Youth is nearer Heaven than age. I have always thought that. As we grow old--we are stricken by--fear--of poverty, of disease--of death. It is youth which has faith and hope."

Before he left her, he gave her a sacred charge. "If anything happens, I know what you'll be to--Jean--and I can't tell you what a help you've been this morning."

She was thrilled by that. And after he left her she thought much about him. Of what it would have meant to her to have a son like that.

Women had said to her, "You should be glad that you have no boy to send--." But she was not glad. Were they mad, these mothers, to want to hold their boys back? Had the days of peace held no dangers that they should be so afraid for them now?

For peace had dangers--men and women had been worshipping false gods. They had set up a Golden Calf and had bowed before it--and their children, lured by luxury, emasculated by ease of living, had wanted more ease, more luxury, more time in which to--play!

And now life had become suddenly a vivid Crusade, with everybody marching in one direction, and the young men were manly in the old ways of strength and heroism, and the young women were womanly in the old way of sending their lovers forth, and in a new way, when, like Drusilla, they went forth themselves to the front line of battle.

To have children in these days, meant to have something to give. One need not stand before suffering humanity empty-handed!

War was a monstrous thing, a murderous thing--but surely this war was a righteous one--a fire which would cleanse the world. Men and women, because of it, were finding in themselves something which could suffer for others, something in themselves which could sacrifice, something which went beyond body and mind, something which reached up and touched their souls.

So, in the midst of darkness, Miss Emily had a vision of Light. After the war was over, things could never be as they had been before. The spirit which had sent men forth in this Crusade, which had sent women, would survive, please God, and show itself in a greater sense of fellowship--of brotherhood. Might not men, even in peace, go on praying as they were praying it now in war, the prayer of Cromwell's men, "Oh, Lord, it's a hard battle, but it's for the rights of the common people--" Might not the rich young men who were learning to be the brothers of the poor, and the poor young men who were learning in a large sense of the brotherhood of the rich--might these not still clasp hands in a sacred cause?

Yes, she was sorry that she had no son. Slim and gray-haired, a little worn by life's struggle, her blood quickened at the thought of a son like Derry. The warmth of his handclasp, the glimpse of that inner self which he had given her, these were things to hold close to her heart. She had known on that first night that he was--different. She had not dreamed that she should hold him--close.

Rather pensively she arranged her window. It was snowing hard, and in spite of the fact that Christmas was only three days away, customers were scarce.

The window display was made effective by the use of Jean's purple camels--a sandy desert, a star overhead, blazing with all the realism of a tiny electric bulb behind it, the Wise Men, the Inn where the Babe lay, and in a far corner a group of shepherds watching a woolly flock--

Her cyclamen was dead. A window had been left open, and when she arrived one morning she had found it frozen.

She had thanked Ulrich Stoelle for it, in a pleasantly worded note. She had not dared express her full appreciation, lest she seem fulsome. Few men in her experience had sent her flowers. Never in all the years of her good friendship with Bruce McKenzie had he bestowed upon her a single bloom.

Several days had passed, and there had been no answer to the note. She had not really expected an answer, but she had thought he might come in.

He came in now, with a great parcel in his arms. He was a picturesque figure in an enveloping cape and a soft hat pulled down over his gray hair, and with white flakes powdered over his shoulders.

"Good morning, Miss Bridges," he said; "did you think I was never coming?"

His manner of assuming that she had expected him quite took Emily's breath away. "I am glad you came," she said, simply. "It is rather dreary, with the snow, and this morning I found my cyclamen frozen on the shelf."

He glanced up at it. "We have other flowers," he said, and, with a sure sense of the dramatic effect, untied the string of his parcel.

Then there was revealed to Miss Emily's astonished eyes not the flowers that she had expected, but four small plush elephants, duplicates in everything but size of the one she had loaned to Ulrich, and each elephant carried on his back a fragrant load of violets cunningly kept fresh by a glass tube hidden in his trappings.

"There," said Ulrich Stoelle, "my father sent them. It is his taste, not mine--but I knew that you would understand."

"But," Miss Emily gasped, "did he make them?"

"Most certainly. With his clever old fingers--and he will make as many more as you wish."

Thus came white elephants back to Miss Emily's shelves. "It seems almost too good to be true," she said, sniffing the violets and smiling at him.

"Nothing is too good to be true," he told her, "and now I have something to ask. That you will come and see my father."

"With pleasure."

He glanced around the empty shop. "Why not now? There are no customers--and the gray light makes things dreary--. And it is spring in my hothouses--there are a thousand cyclamens for the one you have lost, a thousand violets for every one on the backs of these little elephants--narcissus and daffodils--. Why not?"

Why not, indeed? Why not, when Adventure beckoned, go to meet it? She had tied herself for so many years to the commonplace and the practical.

And so Miss Emily closed her shop, and went in Ulrich's car, leaving a card tucked in the shop door, "Will reopen at three."

It was at one o'clock that Dr. McKenzie came and found that door shut against him. He shook the knob with some impatience, and stamped his foot impotently when no one answered. His orders had come and he must leave for France tomorrow. He had not told Jean, he had come to Emily to ask her to break the news--.

He stood there in the snow feeling quite unexpectedly forlorn. Heretofore he had always been able to put his finger on Emily when he had wanted her. He had needed only to beckon and she had followed.

And how could he know that she was at that very moment following other beckonings? That she had responded to a call that was not the call of selfish need, but of a subtle understanding of her rare charm. Bruce McKenzie had, perhaps, subconsciously felt that Emily would be fortunate to have a place by his fireside, to bask in his presence--Ulrich Stoelle leading Emily through the moist fragrance of his hot-houses counted himself blessed by the gods to have her there. "You see," he said, "that here it is spring."

It was indeed spring, with birds singing, not in cages, but free to fly as they pleased; with the sound of water, as a little artificial stream wound its way over moss-covered rocks set where it might splash and fall over them--with ferns bending down to it and tiny flashing fish following it.

"My father did that," Ulrich explained, "when he was younger and stronger. But now he sits in his chair and works at his toys."

The workshop of Franz Stoelle was entered through the door of the last hothouse; he had thus always a vista of splashing color--red and purples and yellows--great stretches, and always with the green to rest his eyes; with the door opened between there came to him the fragrance, and the singing of birds, and the sound of the little stream.

He sat in a big chair, bent a little, plump and ruddy-faced, with a fringe of white hair. He wore horn spectacles--and a velvet coat. He rose when Emily entered, elegant of manner, in spite of his rotundity.

"So it is the lady of the elephants, Ulrich? When you telephoned I thought it was too good to be true."

"Your son says that nothing is too good to be true," Emily told him, sitting down in the chair that Ulrich placed for her, "but I have a feeling that this will all vanish in a moment like Aladdin's palace--" She waved her hands towards the shelves that went around the room. "I never expected to see such toys again."

For there they were--the toys of Germany. The quaint Noah's arks, the woolly dogs and the mewing cats--the moon-faced dolls.

"I don't see how you have made them all."

"Many of them were made years ago, Fraeulein, and I have kept them for remembrance, but many of them are new. When my son told me that it was hard for you to get toys, I gathered around me a few old friends who learned their trade in Nuremberg. We have done much in a few days. We will do more. We are all patriotic. We will show the Prussians that the children of America do not lack for toys. What does the Prussian know of play? He knows only killing and killing and killing."

The old man beat his fist upon the table, "Killing!"

"You see," Ulrich said to Emily, "there are many of us who feel that way. Yet unthinking people cannot see that we are loyal, that our hearts beat with the hearts of those who have English blood and French blood and Italian blood and Dutch blood in their veins, and who have but one country--America."

The old man had recovered himself. "We are not here to talk of killing, but of what I and my friends shall make for you. And you are to have lunch with us? I have planned it, and I won't take 'no,' Fraeulein. You and I have so much to say to each other."

Emily wondered if it were really her middle-aged and prosaic self who sat later at the table, being waited on by a very competent butler, and deferred to by the two men as if she were a queen.

It was she and the old man who did most of the talking, but always she was conscious of Ulrich's attentive eyes, of the weight of the quiet words which he interjected now and then in the midst of his father's volubility.

"Germany, my mother, is dead," wailed the old man. "I have wept over her grave; those who wage this war against humanity are bastards, the real sons and daughters of that sweet old Germany are here in America--they have come to their foster-mother, and they love her.

"If I had been younger," he went on, "I should have fought. My son would have fought. But as it is we can make toys--and we shall say to the Prussians across the sea, 'You have killed our mother--your people are no longer our people, nor your God our God.'"

Ulrich took Emily home. She carried with her a Noah's Ark, and a precious pot of cyclamen. She had chosen the cyclamen out of all the rest. "It is such a cheerful thing blooming in my shop."

"There are other cheerful things in your shop," he told her.

As she met his smiling eyes, she smiled back, "Do you mean that I am a cheerful thing?"

"A rose, mein Fraeulein, when your cheeks are red, like this."

Emily, alone at last in the Toy Shop, took off her hat in front of the mirror and saw her red cheeks. She set the cyclamen safely in a warm corner. The four elephants with their fragrant freight of violets made an exotic and incongruous addition to the Christmas scene in the window.

Bruce McKenzie, coming in, asked, "Where did you get them?"

"The elephants? Ulrich Stoelle brought them. Do you know him?"

"Yes. But I didn't know that you did."

"His father makes toys. I lent him my white elephant, and he made these--"

She spoke without self-consciousness, and McKenzie's mind was on his own matters, so they swept away from the subject of Ulrich Stoelle. "Emily," Bruce said, "I have my orders. Tomorrow at twelve I must leave for France."

She gazed at him stupidly. "Tomorrow--?"

"Yes."

"But--Jean--?"

"I haven't told her. I don't know how to tell her."

"You won't be here for the wedding--?"

"No."

"It will break her heart."

"You needn't tell me that. Don't I know it?" His voice was sharp with the tension of suppressed emotion.

He dropped into a chair, then jumped up and placed one for her. "Sit down, sit down," he said, "and don't make me forget my manners. Somehow this thing gets me as nothing has ever gotten me before. It isn't that I mind going--I mind hurting--Jean--"

"You have always hated to hurt people," Emily said. "In some ways it's a sign of weakness."

"Don't scold," he begged. "I know I'm not much of a fellow, but you'll be sorry for me a little, won't you, Emily?"

She did not melt as he had expected to the appeal in his voice. "The thing we have to think of now," she said, "is not being sorry for you, but how we can get Jean married before twelve o'clock tomorrow--"

"Oh, of course we can't."

"Of course we can--if we make up our minds to it, and it's the only thing to do."

"But nothing is ready."

"Things can be made ready. They can stand up in the rose drawing-room at ten, and you can give her away."

He looked at her admiringly. "I didn't know that you had so much initiative."

She might have told him that it was a quality on which she rather prided herself, but that hitherto it had not seemed to attract him. "There are several things as yet undiscovered by you," she remarked casually, as she locked up her toys.

Watching her, he wondered idly if there were really worlds to discover in Emily. It might be interesting to--find out--.

"Shall you miss me?" he asked.

"Of course. And now if you'll see that the back shutters are barred, we'll be ready to go."

Thus she checked his small attempt at sentiment, and on the way home they talked about Jean. "If Derry goes, you and she must live together in my house. Let that be understood. I'd rather have her with you than with anyone else in the whole wide world."

Thus again the sacred charge, but this time not as a favor, but in lordly fashion, as one who claims a right.

Jean and Derry were having tea at the club, but could not be reached by phone. "They had probably motored out into the country," Emily decided. "We'll have to do things before they come."

The things that she did were stupendous.

She had a florist up in two hours--and the rose-colored drawing room was rosier than ever, and as fragrant as a garden.

She telephoned the clergyman--"At ten o'clock tomorrow."

She telephoned the caterer--"A wedding breakfast--"

She telephoned the dressmaker--"Miss McKenzie's gown--"

She telephoned Margaret and Marion Gray--.

"Is there anyone else?" she asked the Doctor. "I suppose we really ought to tell the General."

"Certainly not."

"But Bronson--? Derry will want him."

"If he can keep a secret--yes."

Jean and Derry, arriving after dark, were swept into a scene of excitement.

Florists on the stairs!

A frenzied dressmaker waiting with Jean's wedding gown!

Maids with mops and men with vacuums!

Julia and the cook helping at loose ends and dinner late!

What did it all mean?

"It means," said the Doctor, "that you are going to be married, my dear, at ten o'clock in the morning."

"But why, Daddy--" fear showed in her eyes--

"Ask Emily."

"Is he--going away,--Emily?"

"Yes, dear."

"But he mustn't. Derry, do you hear? He is going to France--and he mustn't--"

Derry took her trembling hands in his firm clasp. "He must go, you know that, dearest." His touch steadied her.

He leaned down to her and sang:--

"Jeanne D'Arc, Jeanne D'Arc--
Jeanne D'Arc, la victoire est pour vous."

Her head went up. The color came back to her cheeks.

"Of course," she said, and put away childish things that she might measure up to the stature of her lover's faith in her.

And it was Jean, the Woman, who talked long that night with her father before he went to France.

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BOOK TWO THROUGH THE CRACK - CHAPTER XIX. HILDA SHAKES A TREEWhen Dr. McKenzie and Jim Connolly arrived, Derry said apologetically as he shook hands with the Doctor, "You see, you can't get rid of me--but I have such a lot of things to talk over with you."It was after Jean had gone to bed, however, that they had their talk, and before that Derry and Jean had walked in the moonlight and had listened to the chimes.There had, perhaps, never been such a moon. It hung in a sky that shimmered from horizon to horizon. Against this shimmering background
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