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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, May 24, 1936, Image 88

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1936-05-24/ed-1/seq-88/

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Continued from page throe
"Bad sick?" Mrs. Pulliam slipped
a pan of biscuits into the oven.
“I don't think so. He was all right
at school. He didn't say anything.
Stomach-ache. I guess. The doctor’s
there.”
Mrs. Pulliam closed the oven door
with a care that went beyond mere
biscuits
When Beans came downstairs on
Saturday morning, pleasantly drugged
with an extra hour of sleep, Mrs.
Pulliam was turning from the tele
phone.
“That was Jack Hinton,” she said
pleasantly. "He wants you to come
out to his uncle’s farm for the day.”
"What?” said Beans. “I didn’t hear
the 'phone ring.”
"Well, it did.” said Mrs. Pulliam
firmly. “Mr. Hinton has just bought
a herd of angora goats. Wouldn’t
you — ”
Would anybody but a woman say
to a general on the eve of battle,
“Let’s go pick wild flowers?”
“You know Rush and I — ’’ began
Beans.
“Rush is still sick,” said Mrs.
Pulliam softly. “Leave your war where
it is. dear, and come on. You'll have
to eat your breakfast quickly if you
want to help unload the goats. You
must wear your corduroys and high
boots. I’m packing you some bacon
and things. Mrs. I linton said you and
Jack could have a campfire at the
cave. Come on. David! Daddy is going
to give you and Jack a lift out that
way. He'll be by any minute.”
The day turned out to be pretty
good fun, marred only by the unusual
absence of Rush. Rush, with his stiff,
stand-up hair and his ability to pick
up the slack of his breeches as if they
were skirts and run and scream like a
girl, would have been gallons of fun
with that old daddy-goat that
wanted to butt everybody. As two
weary boys hiked home in the late
afternoon. Beans said "So long’’
abruptly to Jack at the corner of
Rush’s street and detoured, to shout
a friendly “Hi!” beneath Rush’s
window.
Early winter dusk and the smoke
of evening fires filled the street with
shadow. The Coleman house sat
back on a deep lawn set with huge
old trees. Beans was up to the edge
of the porch before he knew that there
was something dreadfully strange
about the picture. It was lights —
rather, the absence of them. Blinds
were drawn down tightly, forbiddingly,
secretly in the best room downstairs
and in a room above. Rush's room —
the room he enjoyed all to himself,
being an only son. And then — simul
taneously Beans saw a wisp of fern
and flowers on the knocker of the
front door and heard a sound that
lifted at the roots each hair on his
head.
His knees bent under him. His
teeth chattered. He had never heard
the sound before; but he knew what it
was. A woman, a grown woman, like
his mother, crying out loud and
nothing could stop her. It was awful.
And, like cold steel, yes, like cold
steel it went through and through
him. He dragged himself away.
When he opened the front door of
his own cheerful, noisy, normally
lighted house, his face was still gray.
The slouch which Coach at school and
his scoutmasters had trained out of
him was back in his shoulders. His
head hung down. His arms dangled.
His feet dragged. His eyes were
glazed. Mrs. Pulliam, waiting with
considerable nervousness in the living
room, stood up and saw at once that
he knew.
“Rush — ” he said vaguely and the
rest stuck in his throat.
“Yes, dear. Come in and sit down."
He fell into the nearest chair. As
the carrying strain was lifted from his
body, a line of perplexity came be
tween his thick, young brows.
“It was meningitis,” said Mrs.
Pulliam. "It strikes very quickly.”
Beans shook his head. “Rush — ”
he began again; and again the words
wouldn't be said. He meant — Rush
was his buddy. Rush sat across from
him at school, class and study hall.
They took the same courses. They be
longed to the same patrol. They
bunked in the same cabin at summer
camp. They’d passed their swimming
tests side by side.
Last summer when he, Keans, had
been struck down suddenly by
appendicitis. Rush had gathered up
his books at school and turned them
in. A Latin grammar was missing.
Rush knew where to find it — on the
floor under Beans’ desk in Study Hall.
Rush had cleaned out his gym locker.
It was all right for Rush to handle his
things. It would have been all wrong
had it been anyone else, because' —
because —
“Rush — ” it was the old storv.
“His cot was right hand cot to mine — ”
“Death,” said Mrs. Pulliam softly,
“is like that.”
No, not always. Old people or
people who had been sick a long time
were different. You expected —
“Always.” said Mrs. Pulliam. "It’s
always sudden and terribly final and
it always touches someone closely. I
know.”
“But — ” On Monday morning
Rush wouldn’t be at school. His
mother meant all right, but she
didn't know. How could she?
“Out of my graduating class from
High School,” she said, "six boys
were killed in the World War.”
"Six?” Beans came a little to life.
Six were a lot — still, his mother had
gone to school in a city where classes
were bigger. "Did you know them?”
"I knew them all very well. Except
for one of them I mightn’t have
graduated. I'd have flunked math, lie
was good at that but poor at Latin. So,
1 helped him with his translations and
he did my quadratics, lie Was killed
at Chateau-Thierry." Mrs. Pulliam
paused.
“One of them lived next door.
You’ve heard us talk at home about
making candy on Saturday nights.
All the kids in the block chipped in
something. When we made divinity.
Gene brought the eggs, because his
mother had chickens. He drove an
ambulance in France. He was killed '
in an air raid.
“One of them,” Mrs. Pulliam’s
voice was very soft, indeed, “took
me to the senior dance. We went in a
taxi and he sent me roses. I still have
one. He was with the artillery. The
shell that killed him took four from
the same battery. That was at St.
Mihiel." '
Beans looked at his plump, placid
little mother, sewing under the lamp.
A new respect, touched about the
edges with incredulity, was in his
regard. “Honestly?" he said.
“That's just my story,” said Mrs.
Pulliam. “In time of war—well,
multiply it by as many hundred
thousand as there are men killed.
Each one who falls is a relative or a
iriend to somebody. Now, run up
stairs, dear, and take a good wash.
Supper will be ready soon.”
She folded her sewing. Beaus stood
up with a long sigh.
Upstairs as he moved into his dark
room his boot kicked over something ,
that clanged. Gosh, he'd forgotten!
He turned on a light and stooped to
retrieve the thing. One of his best
guns and, sure enough, he’d snapped
the casting that joined it to its caisson.
Doggone . . .
The thing was cold and heavy in his
hand, lie looked at it again.
Guns! Guns that mowed men down
like grass! But men weren’t grass.
They were our best friends. They
were alive like you one day and the
next — they were gone. Just gone.
Like Rush. He shivered.
A half hour later his youngest
brother. Pete, came into the room
while Beans was busy rolling his men
guns separately in blankets of
white tissue and packing them away
in boxes. After all, he was fifteen
years old and these were toys. Maybe,
if he wasn't going to play with them
any more, he should give them away.
He couldn't quite do that. Not yet.
They were his own and had Ix'en lots
of fun. lie spoke with queer gentleness,
to young Pete.
" Wanta help, kid? Play you a game
of dominoes after supper.”
Pete was not a naturally too helpful
character, but there was something
impressive and solemn about his big
brother's strange movements. Oblig
ingly he reached for the wrappings.
“Okay! Say, did you hear about
Rush? He had — ”
“Shut up!” said Beans.
Later, going into the warm, bright
kitchen, he went and stood close
beside his mother. He even ducked his
head and rubbed his nose, pony-style,
on her shoulder — a climax of demon
strativeness, as she knew only too
well. She opened the oven door.
“It’s gingerbread,” she announced,
“with brown sugar and nuts."
“Smells good,” said Beaus hoarsely.
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In Memoriam
by ADA JACKSON
No tranquil ordered day of ours j
But some tad paid its bloody price;
No joy that brims our hands but lives
By reason of dire sacrifice;
No love but that fulfils itself !
Upon their broken loves; no nights
Of quiet sleep but others wept
Their cost on Golgotha’s grim heights.
I hey gave their safety tor our own; i
For us they fought and hied and died;
Drained sorrow’s cup, took on themselves ;
The anguish of the Crucified;
Bought our slowr ease with pierced hands,
Our laughter with their piteous cries;
Our singing with pale silenced lips,
Our wonder with their blinded eyes.
I heir names are writ on every flower
On every tree their sign is set.
Birds are their words; by day and night ;
The very stones cry out our debt.
We will keep faith! Our hands take up
The charge their dying hands let fall —
And in an everlasting peace
We build their proud memorial.

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