The tree was not only stripped by the cold season, it seemed weary from age, enfeebled, dry. I was thankful, very thankful that I had seen it. So the more things remain the same, the more they change after all - plus c'est la meme chose, plus ca change.
Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence.
Changed, I headed back through the mud. I was drenched; anybody could see it was time to come in out of the rain.
After Mr. Prud'homme left he began to dress, that is he began reaching for whatever clothes were nearest, some of them mine. Then he stopped to consider, and went over to the dresser. Out of one the drawers he lifted a finely woven broadcloth shirt, carefully cut, and very pink.
“This is a tablecloth,” he said out of the side of his mouth.
“No, cut it out. What is it?”
“This,” he then answered with some pride, “is going to be my emblem. Ma sent it up last week. Did you ever see stuff like this, and a color like this? It doesn't even button all the way down. You have to pull it over your head, like this.”
“Over your head? Pink! It makes you look like a fairy
“Does it?” He used this preoccupied tone when he was thinking of something more interesting than what you had said. But his mind always recorded what was said and played it back to him when there was time, so as he was buttoning the high collar in front of the mirror he said mildly, “I wonder what would happen if I looked like a fairy to everyone.”
“Well, in case suitors began clamoring at the door, you can tell them I'm wearing this as an emblem.” He turned around to let me admire it. “I was reading in the paper that we bombed Central Europe for the first time the other day.” Only someone who knew Phineas as well as I did could realize that he was not changing the subject. I waited quietly for him to make whatever fantastic connection there might be between this and his shirt. “Well, we've got to do something to celebrate
. We haven't got a flag, we can't float Old Glory proudly out the window. So I'm going to wear this, as an emblem.”
He did wear it. No one else in the school could have done so without some risk of having it torn from his back. When the sternest of the Summer Sessions Masters, old Mr. Patch-Withers, came up to him after history class and asked about it, I watched his drawn but pink face become pinker with amusement as Finny politely explained the meaning of the shirt.
It was hypnotism. I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn't help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little.
Finny never permitted himself to realize that when you won they lost. That would have destroyed the perfect beauty which was sport. Nothing bad ever happened in sports; they were the absolute good.
He was disgusted with that summer's athletic program – a little tennis, some swimming, clumsy softball games, badminton. “Badminton!” he exploded the day it entered the schedule. He said nothing else, but the shocked, outraged, despairing note of anguish in the word said all the rest. “Badminton!
One day he broke the school swimming record. He and I were fooling around in the pool, near a big bronze plaque marked with events for which the school kept records – 50 yards, 100 yards, 220 yards. Under each was a slot with a marker fitted into it, showing the name of the record-holder, his year, and his time. Under “100 Yards Free Style” there was “A. Hopkins Parker – 1940 – 53.0 seconds.”
“A. Hopkins Parker?” Finny squinted up at the name. “I don't remember any A. Hopkins Parker.”
“He graduated before we got here.”
“You mean that record has been up there the whole time
we've been at Devon and nobody's busted it yet?” It was an insult to the class, and Finny had tremendous loyalty to the class, as he did to any group he belonged to, beginning with him and me and radiating outward past the limits of humanity toward spirits and clouds and stars.
He climbed out of the pool. “I'm not going to do it again,” he said quietly.
“Of course you are!”
“No, I just wanted to see if I could do it. Now I know. But I don't want to do it in public.” Some other swimmers drifted in through the door. Finny glanced sharply at them. “By the way,” he said in an even more subdued voice, “we aren't going to talk about this. It's just between you and me. Don't say anything about it, to...anyone.”
“Not say anything about it! When you broke the school record!”
” He shot a blazing, agitated glance at me.
I stopped and looked at him up and down. He didn't look directly back at me. “You're too good to be true,” I said after a while.
He glanced at me, and then said, “Thanks a lot” in a somewhat expressionless voice.
To keep silent about this amazing happening deepened the shock for me. It made Finny seem too unusual for – not friendship, but too unusual for rivalry. And there were few relationships among us at Devon not based on rivalry.
Finny and I went along the Boardwalk in our sneakers and white slacks, Finny in a light blue polo shirt and I in a T-shirt. I noticed that people were looking fixedly at him, so I took a look myself to see why. His skin radiated a reddish copper glow of tan, his brown hair had been a little bleached by the sun, and I noticed that the tan made his eyes shine with a cool blue-green fire.
“Everybody's staring at you,” he suddenly said to me. “It's because of that movie-star tan you picked up this afternoon...showing off again.”
Enough broken rules were enough that night. Neither of us suggested going into any of the honky-tonks or beer gardens. We did have one glass of beer each at a fairly respectable-looking bar, convincing, or seeming to convince the bartender that we were old enough by a show of forged draft cards. Then we found a good spot among some sand dunes at the lonely end of the beach, and there we settled down to sleep for the night. The last words of Finny's usual nighttime monologue were, “I hope you're having a pretty good time here. I know I kind of dragged you away at the point of a gun, but after all you can't come by yourself, and at this teen-age period in life the proper person is your best pal.” He hesitated and then added, “which is what you are,” and there was silence on his dune.
It was a courageous thing to say. Exposing a sincere emotion nakedly like that at the Devon School was the next thing to suicide. I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth.
“You wouldn't –“ I wasn't sure I had the control to put this question – “mind if I wound up head of the class, would you?”
“Mind?” Two clear green-blue eyes looked at me. “Fat chance you've got, anyway, with Chet Douglass around.”
“But you wouldn't mind, would you?” I repeated in a lower and more distinct voice.
He gave me that half-smile of his, which had won him a thousand conflicts. “I'd kill myself out of jealous envy.”
I believed him. The joking manner was a screen; I believed him. In front of my eyes the trigonometry textbook blurred into a jumble. I couldn't see. My brain exploded. He minded, despised the possibility that I might be the head of the school. There was a swift chain of explosions in my brain, one certainty after another blasted – up like a detonation went the idea of any best friend, up went affection and partnership and sticking by someone and relying on someone absolutely in the jungle of a boys' school, up went the hope that there was anyone in this school – in this world – whom I could trust. “Chet Douglass,” I said uncertainly, “is a sure thing for it.”
My misery was too deep to speak any more. I scanned the page; I was having trouble breathing, as though the oxygen were leaving the room. Amid its devastation my mind flashed from thought to thought, despairingly in search of something left which it could rely on. Not rely on absolutely, that was obliterated as a possibility, just rely on a little, some solace, something surviving in the ruins.
I found it. I found a single sustaining thought. The thought was, You and Phineas are even already. You are even in enmity.
I was more and more certainly becoming the best student in the school; Phineas was without question the best athlete, so in that way we were even. But while he was a very poor student I was a pretty good athlete, and when everything was thrown into the scales they would in the end tilt definitely towards me. The new attacks of studying were his emergency measures to save himself. I redoubled my efforts.
I stood up and slammed the chair against the desk. “Okay, we go. We watch little lily-liver Lepellier not jump from the tree, and I ruin my grade.”
He looked at me with an interested, surprised expression. “You want to study?”
I began to feel a little uneasy at this mildness of his, so I sighed heavily. “Never mind, forget it. I know, I joined the club, I'm going. What else can I do?”
“Don't go.” He said it very simply and casually, as though he were saying, “Nice day.” He shrugged, “Don't go. What the hell, it's only a game.”
I had stopped halfway across the room, and now I just looked at him. “What d'you mean?” I muttered. What he meant was clear enough, but I was groping for what lay behind his words, for what his thoughts could possibly be. I might have asked, “Who are you, then?” instead. I was facing a total stranger.
“I didn't think you needed to study
,” he said simply. “I didn't think you ever did. I thought it just came to you.”
It seemed that he had made some kind of parallel between my studies and his sports. He probably thought anything you were good at came without effort. He didn't know yet that he was unique.
“Come out a little way,” he said, “and then we'll jump side by side.” The countryside was striking from here, a deep green sweep of playing fields and bordering shrubbery, with the school stadium white and miniature-looking across the river. From behind us the last long rays of light played across the campus, accenting every slight undulation of the land, emphasizing the separateness of each bush.
Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten.
I spent as much time as I could alone in our room, trying to empty my mind of every thought, to forget where I was, even who I was. One evening when I was dressing for dinner in this numbed frame of mind, an idea occurred to me, the first with any energy behind it since Finny fell from the tree. I decided to put on his clothes. We wore the same size, and although he always criticized mine he used to wear them frequently, quickly forgetting what belonged to him and what to me. I never forgot, and that evening I put on his cordovan shoes, his pants, and I looked for and finally found his pink shirt, neatly laundered in a drawer. Its high, somewhat stiff collar against my neck, the wide cuffs touching my wrists, the rich material against my skin excited a sense of strangeness and distinction; I felt like some nobleman, some Spanish grandee.
But when I looked in the mirror it was no remote aristocrat I had become, no character out of daydreams. I was Phineas, Phineas to the life. I even had his humorous expression in my face, his sharp, optimistic awareness. I had no idea why this gave me such intense relief, but it seemed, standing there in Finny's triumphant shirt, that I would never stumble through the confusions of my own character again.
“I was thinking about it...about you because – I was thinking about you and the accident because I caused it.”
Finny looked steadily at me, his face very handsome and expressionless. “What do you mean, you caused it?” his voice was as steady as his eyes.
My own voice sounded quiet and foreign. “I jounced the limb. I caused it.” One more sentence. “I deliberately jounced the limb so you would fall off.”
He looked older than I had ever seen him. “Of course you didn't.”
“Yes I did. I did!”
“Of course you didn't do it. You damn fool. Sit down, you damn fool.”
“Of course I did!”
“I'm going to hit you if you don't sit down.”
me!” I looked at him. “Hit
me! You can't even get up! You can't even come near me!”
“I'll kill you if you don't shut up.”
“You see! Kill me! Now you know what it is! I did it because I felt like that! Now you know yourself!”
“I don't know anything. Go away. I'm tired and you make me sick. Go away.” He held his forehead wearily, an unlikely way.
It struck me then that I was injuring him again. It occurred to me that this could be an even deeper injury than what I had done before. I would have to back out of it, I would have to disown it. Could it be that he might even be right? Had I really and definitely and knowingly done it to him after all? I couldn't remember, I couldn't think. However it was, it was worse for him to know it. I had to take it back.
But not here. “You'll be back at Devon in a few weeks, won't you?” I muttered after both of us had sat in silence for a while.
“Sure, I'll be there by Thanksgiving anyway.”
At Devon, where every stick of furniture didn't assert that Finny was a part of it, I could make it up to him.
Now I had to get out of there. There was only one way to do it; I would have to make every false. “I've had an awfully long trip,” I said, “I never sleep too much on trains. I guess I'm not making too much sense today.”
“Don't worry about it.”
“I think I'd better get to the station. I'm already a day late at Devon.”
“You aren't going to start living by the rules, are you?”
I grinned at him. “Oh no, I wouldn't do that,” and that was the most false thing, the biggest lie of all.
“What do you want to manage crew for? What do you want to manage
for? What's that got to do with sports?”
The point was, the grace of it was, that it had nothing to do with sports. For I wanted no more of sports. They were barred from me, as though when Dr. Stanpole said, “Sports are finished” he had been speaking of me. I didn't trust myself in them, and I didn't trust anyone else. It was as though football players were really bent on crushing the life out of each other, as though boxers were in combat to the death, as though even a tennis ball might turn into a bullet. This didn't seem completely crazy imagination in 1942, when jumping out of trees stood for abandoning a torpedoed ship. Later, in the school swimming pool, we were given the second stage in that rehearsal: after you hit the water you made big splashes with your hands, to scatter the flaming oil which would be on the surface.
So to Phineas I said, “I'm too busy for sports,” and he went into his incoherent groans and jumbles of words, and I thought the issue was settled until at the end he said, “Listen, pal, if I
can't play sports, you're
going to play them for me,” and I lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas.
“The winter loves me,” he retorted, and then, disliking the whimsical sound of that, added, “I mean as much as you can say a season can love. What I mean is, I love winter, and when you really love something, then it loves you back, in whatever way it has to love.” I didn't that this was true, my seventeen years of experience had shown this to be much more false than true, but it was like every other thought and belief of Finny's: it should have been true. So I didn't argue.
“In a way,” deep in argument, his eyes never wavered from mine, “the whole world is on a Funny Farm now. But it's only the fat old men who get the joke.”
“Yes, and me.”
“What makes you so special? Why should you get it and all the rest of us be in the dark?”
The momentum of the argument abruptly broke from his control. His face froze. “Because I've suffered,” he burst out.
We drew back in amazement from this. In the silence all the flighty spirits of the morning ended between us. He sat down and turned his flushed face away from me. I sat next to him without moving for as long as my beating nerves would permit, and then I stood up and walked slowly toward anything which presented itself. It turned out to be the exercise bar. I sprang up, grabbed it, and then, in a fumbling and perhaps grotesque offering to Phineas, I chinned myself. I couldn't think of anything else, not the right words, not the right gesture. I did what I could think of.
“Do thirty of them,” he mumbled in a bored voice.
I had never done ten of them. At the twelfth I discovered that he had been counting to himself because he began to count aloud in a noncommittal, half-heard voice. At eighteen there was a certain enlargement in his tone, and at twenty-three the last edges of boredom left it; he stood up, and the urgency with which he brought out the next numbers was like an invisible boost lifting me the distance of my arms, until he sang out “thirty!” with a flare of pleasure.
The moment was past. Phineas I know had been even more startled than I to discover this bitterness in himself. Neither of us ever mentioned it again, and neither of us ever forgot that it was there.
He sat down and studied his clenched hands. “Did I ever tell you,” he began in a husky tone, “that I used to be aiming for the Olympics?” He wouldn't have mentioned it except that after what he had said he had to say something very personal, something deeply held. To do otherwise, to begin joking, would have been a hypocritical denial of what had happened, and Phineas was not capable of that.
I was still hanging from the bar; my hands felt as though they had sunk into it. “No, you never told me that,” I mumbled into my arm.
“Well I was. And now I'm not sure, not a hundred per cent sure I'll be completely, you know, in shape by 1944. So I'm going to coach you for them instead.”
“But there isn't going to be any Olympics in '44. That's only a couple of years away. The war -”
“Leave your fantasy life out of this. We're grooming you for the Olympics, pal, in 1944.”
And not believing him, not forgetting that troops were being shuttled toward battlefields all over the world, I went along, as I always did, with any new invention of Finny's. There was no harm in taking aim, even if the target was a dream.
I went into uniform at the time when our enemies began to recede so fast that there had to be a hurried telescoping of military training plans. Programs scheduled to culminate in two years became outmoded in six months, and crowds of men gathered for them in one place were dispersed to twenty others. A new weapon appeared and those of us who had traveled to three or four bases mastering the old ones were sent on to a fifth, sixth, and seventh to master the new. The closer victory came the faster we were shuttled around America in pursuit of a role to play in a drama which suddenly, underpopulated from the first, now had too many actors. Or so it seemed. In reality there would have been, as always, too few, except that the last act, a mass assault against suicidally-defended Japan, never took place. I and my year – not “my generation” for destiny now cut too finely for that old phrase – I and those of my year were preeminently eligible for that. Most of us, so it was estimated, would be killed. But the men a little bit older closed in on the enemy faster than predicted, and then there was the final holocaust of the Bomb. It seemed to have saved our lives.
Phineas had gotten up unnoticed from his chair. “I don't care,” he interrupted in an even voice, so full of richness that it overrode all the others. “I don't care.”
I tore myself from the bench toward him. “Phineas -!”
He shook his head sharply, closing his eyes, and then he turned to regard me with a handsome mask of a face. “I just don't care. Never mind,” and he started across the marble floor toward the doors.
“Wait a minute!” cried Brinker. “We haven't heard everything yet. We haven't got all the facts!”
The words shocked Phineas into awareness. He whirled as though being attacked from behind. “You get the rest of the facts, Brinker!” he cried. “You get all your facts!” I had never seen Finny crying, “You collect every f----ing fact there is in the world!” He plunged out the doors.
The excellent exterior acoustics recorded his rushing steps and the quick rapping of his cane along the corridor and on the first steps of the marble stairway. Then these separate sounds collided into the general tumult of his body falling clumsily down the white marble stairs.
The window shot up and there was a startled rustling from the bed in the shadows. I whispered, “Finny!” sharply into the black room.
“Who is it!” he demanded, leaning out from the bed so that the light fell waveringly on his face. Then he recognized me and I thought at first he was going to get out of bed and help me through the window. He struggled clumsily for such a length of time that even my mind, shocked and slowed as it had been, was able to formulate two realizations: that his leg was bound so that he could not move very well, and that he was struggling to unleash his hate against me.
“I came to –“
“You want to break something else in me! Is that why you're here!” He thrashed wildly in the darkness, the bed groaning under him and the sheets hissing as he fought against them. But he was not going to be able to get me, because his matchless coordination was gone. He could not even get up from the bed.
“I want to fix your leg up,” I said crazily but in a perfectly natural tone of voice which made my words sound even crazier, even to me.
“You'll fix my...” and he arched out, lunging hopelessly into the space between us. He arched out and then fell, his legs still on the bed, his hands falling with a loud slap against the floor. Then after a pause all the tension drained out of him, and he let his head come slowly down between his hands. He had not hurt himself. But he brought his head slowly down between his hands and rested it against the floor, not moving, not making any sound.
“I'm sorry,” I said blindly, “I'm sorry, I'm sorry.”
We members of the Class of 1943 were moving very fast toward the war now, so fast that there were casualties even before we reached it, a mind was clouded and a leg was broken – maybe these should be thought of as a minor and inevitable mishaps in the accelerating rush. The air around us was filled with much worse things.
In this way I tried to calm myself as I walked with Finny's suitcase toward the Infirmary. After all, I reflected to myself, people were shooting flames into caves and grilling other people alive, ships were being torpedoed and dropping thousands of men in the icy ocean, whole city blocks were exploding into flame in an instant. My brief burst of animosity, lasting only a second, a part of a second, something which came before I could recognize it and was gone before I knew it had possessed me, what was that in the midst of this holocaust?
I knocked and went in. He was stripped to the waist, sitting up in bed leafing through a magazine. I carried my head low by instinct, and I had the courage for only a short glance at him before I said quietly, “I've brought your stuff.”
“Put the suitcase on the bed here, will you?” The tone of his words fell dead center, without a trace of friendliness or unfriendliness, not interested and not bored, not energetic and not languid.
I put it down beside him, and he opened it and began to look through the extra underwear and shirts and socks I had packed. I stood precariously in the middle of the room, trying to find somewhere to look and something to say, wanting desperately to leave and powerless to do so. Phineas went carefully over his clothes, apparently very calm. But it wasn't like him to check with such care, not like him at all. He was taking a long time at it, and then I noticed that as he tried to slide a hairbrush out from under a flap holding it in the case his hands were shaking so badly that he couldn't get it out. Seeing that released me on the spot.
“Finny, I tried to tell you before, I tried to tell you when I came to Boston that time –“
“I know, I remember that.” He couldn't, after all, always keep his voice under control. “What'd you come around here for last night?”
“I don't know.” I went over to the window and placed my hands on the sill. I looked down at them with a sense of detachment, as though they were hands somebody had sculptured and put on exhibition somewhere. “I had to.” Then I added, with great difficulty, “I thought I belonged here.”
I felt him turning to look at me, and so I looked up. He had a particular expression which his face assumed when he understood but didn't think he should show it, a settled, enlightened look; its appearance now was the first decent thing I had seen in a long time.
He suddenly slammed his fist against the suitcase. “I wish to God there wasn't any war.”
I looked sharply at him. “What made you say that?”
“I don't know if I can take this with a war on. I don't know.”
“If you can take –“
“What good are you in a war with a busted leg!”
“Well you – why there are lots – you can –“
He bent over the suitcase again. “I've been writing to the Army and the Navy and the Marines and the Canadians and everybody else all winter. Did you know that? No, you didn't know that. I used the Post Office in town for my return address. They all gave me the same answer after they saw the medical report on me. The answer was no soap. We can't use you. I also wrote the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine, I wrote to General de Gaulle personally, I also wrote Chiang Kai-shek, and I was about ready to write somebody in Russia.”
I made an attempt at a grin. “You wouldn't like it in Russia.”
“I'll hate it everywhere
if I'm not in the war! Why do you think I kept saying there wasn't any war all winter? I was going to keep on saying it until two seconds after I got a letter from Ottawa or Chungking or some place saying, 'Yes, you can enlist with us.'” A look of pleased achievement flickered over his face momentarily, as though he had really gotten such a letter. “Then there would have been a war.”
“Finny,” my voice broke but I went on, “Phineas, you wouldn't be any good in the war, even if nothing had happened to your leg.”
A look of amazement fell over him. It scared me, but I knew what I said was important and right, and my voice found that full tone voices have when they are expressing something long-felt and long-understood and released at last. “They'd get you some place at the front and there'd be a lull in the fighting, and the next thing anyone knew you'd be over with the Germans or the Japs, asking if they'd like to field a baseball team against our side. You'd be sitting in one of their command posts, teaching them English. Yes, you'd get confused and borrow one of their uniforms, and you'd lend them one of yours. You'd get things so scrambled up nobody would know who to fight any more. You'd make a mess, a terrible mess, Finny, out of the war.”
His face had been struggling to stay calm as he listened to me, but now he was crying but trying to control himself. “It was just some kind of blind impulse you had in the tree there, you didn't know what you were doing. Was that it?”
“Yes, yes, that was it. Oh that was it, but how can you believe that? How can you believe that? I can't even make myself pretend that you could believe that.”
“I do, I think I can believe that. I've gotten awfully mad sometimes and almost forgotten what I was doing. I think I believe you, I think I can believe that. Then that was it. Something just seized you. It wasn't anything you really felt against me, it wasn't some kind of hate you've felt all along. It wasn't anything personal.”
“No, I don't know how to show you, how can I show you, Finny? Tell me how to show you. It was just some ignorance inside me, some crazy thing inside me, something blind, that's all it was.”
He was nodding his head, his jaw tightening and his eyes closed on the tears. “I believe you. It's okay because I understand and I believe you. You've already shown me and I believe you.”
“The marrow of his bone...” I repeated aimlessly. This at last penetrated my mind. Phineas had died from the marrow of his bone flowing down his blood stream to his heart.
I did not cry then or ever about Finny. I did not cry even when I stood watching him being lowered into his family's strait-laced burial ground outside of Boston. I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case.
“Leper'll be all right. There's nothing like a discharge. Two years after the war's over people will think a Section Eight means a berth on a Pullman car.”
“Right. Now do you mind? Why talk about something you can't do anything about?”
I had to be right in never talking about what you could not change, and I had to make many people agree that I was right. None of them ever accused me of being responsible for what had happened to Phineas, either because they could not believe it or else because they could not understand it. I would have talked about that, but they would not, and I would not talk about Phineas in any other way.
During the time I was with him, Phineas created an atmosphere in which I continued now to live, a way of sizing up the world with erratic and entirely personal reservations, letting its rocklike facts sift through and be accepted only a little at a time, only as much as he could assimilate without a sense of chaos and loss.
No one else I have ever met could do this. All others at some point found something in themselves pitted violently against something in the world around them. With those of my year this point often came when they grasped the fact of the war. When they began to feel that there was this overwhelmingly hostile thing in the world with them, then the simplicity and unity of their characters broke and they were not the same again.
Phineas alone had escaped this. He possessed an extra vigor, a heightened confidence in himself, a serene capacity for affection which saved him. Nothing as he was growing up at home, nothing at Devon, nothing even about the war had broken his harmonious and natural unity. So at last I had.
I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it. My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless. Phineas had absorbed it and taken it with him, and I was rid of it forever.
The P.T. Instructor's voice, like a frog's croak amplified a hundred times, blared out the Army's numerals, “Hut! Hew! Hee! Hore!” behind me as I started back toward to dormitory, and my feet of course could not help but begin to fall involuntarily into step with that coarse, compelling voice, which carried to me like an air-raid siren across the fields and commons.
They fell into step then, as they fell into step a few weeks later under the influence of an even louder voice and a stronger sun. Down there I fell into step as well as my nature, Phineas-filled, would allow.