FICTION

Bugles, Blow for These

A moving story of young love against a backdrop of battle in the sky and the heroism of London Town

D. K. FINDLAY April 1 1942
FICTION

Bugles, Blow for These

A moving story of young love against a backdrop of battle in the sky and the heroism of London Town

D. K. FINDLAY April 1 1942

Bugles, Blow for These

A moving story of young love against a backdrop of battle in the sky and the heroism of London Town

D. K. FINDLAY

THE SKY was serene and blue, the air was filled with the soft, appealing smells of early summer, and the grass of the pasture field had a tang of thyme and was good to lie on. Twelve Hurricanes were dispersed about the field under the trees and the pilots lay under the wings.

Behind them somewhere was an aircraft factory; before them was the Channel with its trawler convoys. They had averaged a fight a day for the last seven days and shortly they would fight again. For the moment, they were at peace. They chewed grass and dozed and daydreamed as if the green field were a college campus.

Flight Lieutenant Vincent, leader of “B” flight, lay under a hedge, his helmet down his back. At twenty-four he was a veteran fighter, his quickness and daring tempered by a year’s training, made tough and cool by combat. Officially, he had shot down two enemy aircraft; unofficially, the squadron gave him five and rated him next to the squadron leader as their most effective pilot. He had a book propped up before him on his flying boots. The sunlight illumined its pages, but he was not reading. He was looking at England, feeling her, breathing her, thinking how lovely was this green land. Beside him, their latest-joined replacement, Flying Officer Devon, lay on his back, looking up through the leaves. He had the fair hair and the soft accent of England’s west country.

“I feel very, very peaceful this morning. Do you know what day this is, Vince? It’s a Sunday—I know it by the look of the fields, by the hot, lazy feel in the air. I wish I were going to church this morning—a little village church with parson droning like a bee and the heads nodding and the children all washed and shiny.”

Vincent laughed. “I doubt if you'll make it.” “The best moment was coming out into the sunshine afterward, duty well done, to blink and gossip at the gate. Then walking sedately under the big elms toward a big Sunday dinner—”

A field telephone rang behind the hedge. Vincent reached for his boots and Devon sat up, pulling on his helmet.

“Our family has sat in the same hard pew and listened to the same sermons for two hundred years of Sundays—that’s a solemn thought, Vince.”

A sergeant put his head through the hedge.

“A scramble, sir.”

Vincent was on his feet.

“Sorry, old thing—Sunday dinner definitely off. And if you’re not too busy, would you mind keeping an eye on my tail?”

The air was shattered by engine bursts. The pilots stepped from the wings to the cockpits, fastened belts, connected radiophones and oxygen

masks. The Hurricanes took off as they pointed, swerving abruptly to avoid collisions. The squadron was aloft in a matter of three minutes, the radio receivers chattered: “Number two, air-borne—

Number three, air-borne—”

The squadron leader’s voice came through the pilot’s phones.

“Enemy aircraft approaching from area AD. Climb to ten thousand. Your vector is 170.”

They were at ten thousand feet in four minutes. The earth lay silver and blue below them. The squadron swung into stepped-up V’s and headed off on its course.

Vincent spotted them at once—a cluster of dots and above them smaller dots—bombers with a fighter escort. The dots grew rapidly larger. He saw that they were Dorniers, about fifteen of them and about thirty fighters. About the usual odds. A Spitfire squadron would be coming in from the east along the coast and another Hurricane squadron would be moving in behind them. Some of that escort appeared to be Messerschmitt 110’s —a two-engined fighter armed with cannon—too many of them were poison. He narrowed his eyes at the empty eastern sky. “Come on, you Spitfires. Are we going to do all the work?”

At a word of command, the V’s of the Hurricanes merged into line abreast. Vincent saw that they were going to do it the hard way. Another leader might have swerved to the east and dived from the sun. That was what the enemy fighters were waiting for but it was not Hardy’s way. He had been shot down over Belgium and seen the refugee columns machine-gunned from the air. After that there was an added sting and bitterness in his attack. Vincent shot a last glance to the east and saw tiny sun glints, high up. The Spitfires were coming.

THE MOST effective way of blasting bombers out of formation is a head-on attack—when it is pushed home with cold nerve and split-second timing. The Hurricanes flew directly at the Dorniers. Vincent could see the gun flashes and white streaks, he knew that bullets and explosive shells were shooting past him. He had picked his target and steadied the sights on a bomber’s nose. It sprang at him, huge, black, overwhelming. “Fire!” said the voice in his ear. His thumb closed over the button on his wheel; the Hurricane checked as the recoil of guns cut twenty-five miles an hour from his speed—then they were up and over, zooming for height, rolling off the loop.

“Get them,boys!” said the squadron leader.

The bomber line had broken in the face of that charge. Two of them were going down lazily in

black smoke, three had turned away hurt, to drop their bombs and get away, the others, scattered, were going on to their objective.

Vincent marked one, glanced in his mirror to see if there was anyone behind him and went down at four hundred miles an hour. He got in a short burst at a tail assembly, banked hard to the right. A Messerschmitt dived past him. The Messerschmitts had dived on the Hurricanes and the Spitfires had dived on the Messerschmitts. The air was a maelstrom of confusion, filled with planes, wreckage and the streaks of tracer bullets. An aircraft in flames fell past him, darkening the air with smoke. Let’s get out of here, thought Vincent, and turning inside a looming shape, he shot upward.

Levelled off, he looked quickly above him, then around and then below. The dogfight had disappeared. To the south over the Channel he could see a whirl of sparkles, as if someone had tossed a handful of tinsel into the air. That was the Spitfires still tangling with the Messerschmitts. But he could see no Hurricanes and no bombers. “Where’s my Dornier?” he asked himself, aggrieved, “it was right there a minute ago.”

Grey-green bombers are almost invisible against the grey-green land. There was a village below him, he could see the church spire— probably the sort of church that Devon had been gassing about, lapped about with age and flowers. From the meadow beyond the village a billow of white smoke began to lift.

He pushed up his glasses to see better. He saw it then, a hawk above its helpless prey. It seemed to him that the Dornier was practically flying down the village street.

He hardened his stomach muscles against the pain that was coming and pushed the Hurricane’s nose down in a power dive. As he came down on it, the rear gunner in the bomber’s turret began to fire up at him—he could see the tracers going through his wings. He steadied the turret in his ring sight. With precision he brought the crossed lines before it and pressed his thumb. He saw the splinters fly. Exit one gunner, thought Vincent and easing back on his stick, he felt gravity crushing him down in his seat. The flesh of his cheeks and arms sagged, there was bursting pressure in his bowels—the grey veils came to the corners of his eyes and he fell forward against his belt—he was all right again.

The Dornier still moved on the village street. He dropped into the blind spot behind her. With her rear gunner dead, she was a sitter. He saw the surface of his wing ruffle as a gust of wind will ruffle water. He craned his neck. There were two enemy fighters on his tail.

He liad the smallest part of a second to break away—the decision that must be made by nerves and heart and bowels, because the brain is too slow. Ahead of him, an enemy bomber looked down at the village spread soft and green beneath him, his hand on the bomb release. His squadron never talked about it much but there was a feeling that in those circumstances it was a good wheeze to stay in the:e and take a belt at the bomber. He flipped his aircraft up and down in evasive action and closed the Dornier. He gave it a burst at two hundred yards, a long one at a hundred. He saw the cabin splinter and tatter in the rain of steel, and it lurched as if the pilot had fallen forward on the wheel. It fell, turning like an outstretched bird, and no parachutes blossomed from it.

An explosive shell burst somewhere forward on the Hurricane. Dimly through the shock, he saw the engine cowling dissolve, the flames shoot up, the oil gushing over the windscreen. He wound back the cockpit cover and the flames were sweeping past him. He discovered that his left arm and shoulder were useless, fumbled free of his safety belt with one good hand, tipped the aircraft over and fell out.

There was something else to be done—through the confusion in his head, half-paralyzed, filled with streaks of fire and pain— the thought nagged at him. The rip cord. Pull the rip cord.

HE LAY in a pleasant cottage hospital in the depths of the country. He had been lucky—they had dug the steel splinters out of his shoulder before he regained consciousness. The burns on his body were more painful than anything that had happened to him before, but they were healing. His first question—the fighter’s first question—had been for his eyes. His eyes were all right, they told him, he would be fit to fly and fight again.

The squadron leader had come to see him, to give him the news. His Dornier had crashed in a marsh, its bombs blowing a huge crater that had much impressed the villagers. He was certainly sure of free beers if he ever visited that village, said Hardy. He brought with him a letter on stiff official paper and with a coat-of-arms, which began, “His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased—”

“You deserve it too, boy. A good show.” “Thanks . . . I’m

sorry about Devon . . . Funny, the last thing I said to him was: stay on my tail.”

“He did just that—

stayed there and picked off one of your Messerschmitts with another blasting him from behind. No one in the squadron, no one in the Force can do fairer than that . . . Well, Vince old boy, you’re all set—a spot of leave, London, then back to us. We’ll be glad to see you.”

He came up to London on the last day of his convalescent leave. He was eager to see the city again. He had done a bit of work, he had got in a good lick, he had earned a holiday. Now he was going to peer at rich things in shopwindows, look at pretty women and listen to the bands play. All the things that go with London and leave.

He hung his new uniform in a hotel closet. Tonight he claimed the luxury of civilian clothes. No salutes, no saluting, no blinking brass hat would receive any attentions from him—tonight he was out of the ruddy war. He dined leisurely in a famous reßtaurant. He did not feel alone. It was enough to be served with good food and good w ine, to see new faces about him, especially the bright faces of girls.

He emerged into the blackout. That to him was still the most eerie experience of the war. In the canyons of the streets the darkness was solid; unconsciously he held out a hand in front of him. Around him unseen people walked with shuffling steps. He heard talk and laughter and the exclamations of collision. Above him he saw stars—a phenomenon that the war had brought to London— and the tops of buildings were shadowy against the sky.

He walked on, entertained by the notion that he was walking in an invisible procession, then when he decided to return to his hotel, he walked a long way farther before he admitted he was lost. There were few people abroad now and no taxis. He stopped, he would find a policeman ... A banshee began to howl.

A voice spoke unexpectedly at his elbow.

“Shelter a hundred yards down the street, this side. Move along, please.”

The air warden went on unseen. Footsteps

Continued on page 26

Bugles, Blow for These

Continued from page 9Starts on page 8

hurried past him and died away. He felt that he was standing alone in the street. He had never been in an air raid before. Once their airdrome had been plastered by a Stuka which had come suddenly out of the clouds. Then no one had run to a shelter, they had run, cursing the Jerry’s nerve, for their aircraft.

The banshee noise made his blood prickle. Under its wail there was building up a swelling grumble, the noise of the anti-aircraft batteries. A long way off, his ears picked out a sound he knew. WhoOOM WhoOOM WhoOOM, the sound of dis-synchronized motors.

There was another, nearer sound — the crackle of shell fragments falling on the roofs and street. He backed hastily into a doorway for he was bareheaded. A harsh brilliance leaped at the end of a long vista of houses, throwing monstrous shadow shapes. Little black figures appeared, working with pygmy energy. They seemed to boil out of the ground, they had sand and long-handled snuffers. They snuffed out the incendiaries and darted back from where they had come.

THIS SOUND made his heart leap into his throat. In the sky a giant had torn a sheet in two. The stunning crump of a high explosive bomb followed. He felt the jar of it through his feet. The air eddied in the blast, the buildings seemed to sway. A red glow grew through the dust.

He stepped into the roadway—and jumped back. Something hurtled past in the darkness with a clanging bell—a fire engine. He wished he had the nerve to drive like that without lights. The red glow grew bigger and fiercer—a swell mark for a bomber. He began to run down the street after the fire engine.

Soon he could walk in the light of the fire. On one side of the street a warehouse was blazing; on the other there had been a row of small houses —he checked, appalled at the destruction that had come upon them. Some had disappeared into dust that hung and swirled; some had been collapsed into rubble heaps by the suction of the air, and the two end houses had been chopped in half. Bedrooms still furnished, but with the walls gone, overhung the street. There was something pitiful in this disembowelment — these homes

seemed to know that they had received a mortal wound.

There had been people in the cellars of those houses. An ambulance had come as near as it could. Air wardens and firemen were tunnelling through the wreckage while above them the walls swayed like tapestry. Another ambulance arrived, the two girls in charge jumped out and made their way toward the working parties.

The firemen uncoiled their hose among the rubble heaps. Already their six streams were playing upon fires. A grotesque, asbestos-suited figure prepared to descend into the blazing crater with a plug which would shut off the escaping gas. They were doing the necessary things, coolly and methodically, just as though up above another bomber was not taking aim by the fire.

The bomb fell perhaps three hundred yards away. Again the stunning jar that seemed to numb the bones in the head, the eddying gusts of air, the sensation that streets and buildings had swayed like a painted backdrop. The wall which overhung the working party came down in a cascade of running brick. For a few moments the pall of dust hid everything, then Vincent saw that some of them had been able to dart clear. The first man up fell down again, wounded, but others were going back. Without hesitation or confusion, they were going back.

Yay, London! He felt the cheer rise in him. Courage for him had become a business; he was a professional, taking the greater or less chance as it seemed to be worth it. Tradition, respect, devices of protection helped to strengthen the fibres of his bravery. But these people had nothing but tin hats and bare hands. They did not even glance at that malignant sky whence death would strike again. They went on patiently moving the bricks away, lifting out people, some of whom could stagger and exclaim, some of whom could be led away, and some who could only be buried again.

Well, he too had hands. He ran through the rubble heaps toward the houses.

“Lend a hand, will you, mite?”

The white-faced Cockney with S.B. on his hat who had been flung flat by the blast was on his knees again. He looked not at Vincent but

at the man who had been carrying the front end of the stretcher. Nothing could be done about him. Vincent stooped to the stretcher handles. On it was a girl in the uniform of the Women’s Ambulance Service—one of the girls who had run lightly, youthfully, across this space a few moments before. The Cockney still dazed, kept muttering. “I never thought they’d get our Jean.”

When they returned from the ambulance, the workers had uncovered the mouth of the cellar. “Stretcher-bearers, hurry!”

Vincent descended into the wrecked shelter. The dust-filled air was stabbed with beams from flashlights. There was the acrid reek of explosives and the smell of burned flesh. It brought back the agony of his own burns and he felt himself beginning to tremble. A girl with a black “A” on her tin hat was working over a huddle of rags, a doctor was giving an adrenalin injection to an old man. , “Can I help, Doctor?”

“Hold the light here.”

This one was a young mother who had been terribly injured trying to shelter her child with her body. Vincent felt a great surge of joy for the child seemed unhurt. She was about four or five, with bright fair hair. He held her in his arms, feeling the littleness of her bones while the doctor prepared an injection.

She looked up at them with a clear blue gaze, then she saw her mother. Suddenly, into her widened eyes came a look of fear that Vincent could not bear to see.

“Too late,” said the doctor. Through the mist of horror, he felt himself falling.

THE SHELTER had been cleared.

Everyone had gone but the doctor and the girl with “A” on her hat. The doctor, preparing to go, gave him a curious look.

“New to this business. He’d be better outside.”

The girl sat beside him, her arm over his shoulders.

“I know how you feel. Go ahead— cry or curse, pray or swear. 1 think you were lucky to faint. I wish I could.”

“Don’t wait for me. I’ll be all right.”

“You’re a Canadian, aren’t you? What are you doing so far from Canada without even a tin hat. Come on, there’ll be more bombs falling.”

He staggered when he stood up. He was still trembling, he felt sick and burnt-out. She kept his hand as they went across the rubble heaps. The fire was under control, the other ambulances had gone.

“You’d better come with me,” she said, and he got into the driver’s seat beside her

“First to the casualty clearing station ... In the morning the papers will say that the casualties were not unduly heavy . . . but one of them was Jean . . . she was my mate.” She was crying as she drove.

Afterward, when the ambulance was empty, she asked, “Would you like to come back to the station?” Her station was an old garage— empty now for all the ambulances were out. At the back there was a

built-on shelter with two rows of benches and a telephone.

“Even the supervisor is out—it must be a bad night.”

She hung up her coat and tin hat and washed her face. She was young and dark and pale with weariness. She turned up the flame under the gas ring to make tea.

“Is this your first blitz, Canada?” “In a way.”

“The first is your worst, I think. They are killing a great many of us — there will be five hundred dead tonight. Perhaps we are wrong and deserve to die. For there isn’t room in the same world for us and the people who built the machinery to do this—and did it when the time was ripe. Milk or clear?”

“Clear, please.”

She was so tired, she drank her tea, resting her head on her hand.

“Tomorrow is my day off. I’m supposed to go to Cambridge and report to my aunt. It will be quiet there . . . Have you many friends in , London?”

“No, just people passing through.” “Would you like to come down to Cambridge with me? It might be good for you to get out of London.

It is peaceful there. We could take a punt and go on the river.”

“I’d like to—but I’ve got a date with a man tomorrow.”

They sat, not talking. The telephone was silent. At last the noise of explosions died, the darkness thinned. The banshee wailed on a rising note.

“The all-clear. Another night gone.”

He stood looking down at her, ready to go, feeling odd about leaving her.

“Would you come with me tomorrow?”

She tipped up her surprised face.

“I wish you would. There will be a lot of people there. Nobody I know.” “One of those reception things? All right, Canada, I’ll go and stand up for you.”

SHE CAME to him across the sunlit pavement and people i stopped to look at her. “Coo !” said a voice, “wot I mean—clawss!” She was the sort of girl you might fall in love with at Ascot or in a lord’s rose garden. She was the flowering of a thousand years. England had shaped her, colored her and allowed the strange and beautiful accident of her midnight air and exotic winglike brows.

She looked faintly surprised to see him in uniform.

“You’d better know my name,” he said. “It’s Vincent.”

Hers she told him was Katherine Fitzhugh. “You don’t know what a luxury it is not to drive but to be driven. Where are we going—not that it matters on such a day.” In a few moments the taxi stopped and she looked out.

“Why, it’s Buckingham Palace. . ” ! After the investiture, they walked sedately in the Palace grounds.

“I should like,” she said plaintively, “to find a quiet place where I could shake you.”

“Go ahead. Shake me till my medal rattles.”

“It’s not for deceiving me. It’s not for saying a date with a man when

you are meeting the King. It’s for the colossal, colonial impudence of asking a girl out and not telling her she was going to Buckingham Palace.”

He stopped to look at her. Under the wings on his breast glittered the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was brushed and polished and pressed.

“I overheard the Groom of the Royal Bedchamber say to the Lord High Chamberlain, ‘Did you get a load of the little number our Miss Fitzhugh was wearing?’ And the Lord High Chamberlain said, ‘Boy, oh boy! I didn’t even see what she was wearing—’ ”

She laughed and put her hand on his arm. Around them were soldiers, sailors, airmen, air wardens and firefighters, with their wives and sweethearts. It was the men who had received the medals, but the proud smiles were the women’s. Their men, their common ordinary, bashful, cocky, cranky men had spectacularly underlined a principle with the offer of their lives, and this day, in their Sunday best, had been certified as heroes by the King.

“How you blushed, Vincent, when they read your citation. ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.’ That means holding on through the bullets and flames, holding on for one more burst. Of course, I clapped my hands like everyone else, but inside I was throwing up my hat and cheering.

“I can tell you something about your squadron. It was when you were holding Hell Fire Corner. Our station was in the East End, down among the docks, and every day you used to fight over our heads. We took the pride of ownership in you. ‘What’s the score today?’ we would ask, ‘how many have we knocked down?’ We were only dock rats running from one fire to another, but you were our heroes. Mary Devon was so proud when her brother was posted to your squadron.”

He steered her around a hush into a secluded corner of greenery. His voice was husky.

“I feel very humble in the presence of dock rats—and stretcher-bearers and firemen. They’ve knocked the glamour right out of me. Honey, I’m not the King—but here is my tribute to a Londoner.” He took the cross from his tunic.

She was disturbed. “No, Vincent, it’s not allowed. You are supposed to keep it or give it to your family. Think how proud they would be—”

“I’ve seen you twice—and I know there is no one whom I would rather have have it than you.”

He pinned the cross to her breast and felt her heart beating under his hand. They stood together, eyes searching eyes, caught in a swift, strong current of emotion.

“Do you hear bugles?”

“They’re for you.”

“They are for us.” She surrendered to his kiss*

“We’re a little mad, I think—” She was fluttered, breathless, as if it were a first kiss.

“We’re not mad. We’re very sane. Something inside us tells us to be quick. Like this.” He kissed her again.

“No, no—” She struggled to be free. There was a wild confusedness

in her look, a sort of young dismay at the onset of passion. “Vincent go away—”

“Never!”

“But why—Oh it just can’t happen like this! You—a stranger—” she stopped, her eyes on his face; her eyes were sober and true. “Are you? Something strange happened last night. I looked across a smoky shelter and saw you; you were kneeling down with such a strange look on your face, tender and glad. I was glad that you were there—it didn’t seem so awful. Then this morning after the all-clear, I hated to see you go. Vincent, what has come over me?”

He stuttered because his mouth was dry.

“The Vincents seem to be quicker than the Fitzhughes. It’s a thing called love.”

The bugles of the guard sang again.

She flung back her head gaily. There was a light on her lips, a glitter in her eyelashes.

“Then blow, bugles, blow for love!”

THEY HAD until his train left that evening.

“Then if it’s courting we’re about,” she said, “I know the very place for it.”

It was a little Thames steamer. It paddled them under bridges and sidled up to old stone steps—the water gates where cloaked and rapiered gallants had waited once. They gained the upper reaches where the lawns sloped to the river and all the water stairs were pulled to the same height above the tide with a curious effect of law-abidingness. The yellow evening light slanted over the land with its peeping roofs and the rounded shapes of woods. They passed through locks with toy cottages and tidy gear, and patient fishermen whose avocation seemed not fishing but musing. Vincent spoke of his own land with lakes whose fish would have galvanized those fishermen, of rivers which were a white line of boiling water, and great stands of timber. He was a graduate forester. He had thought— and asked nothing better—than to spend his life in those places.

They had dinner at an inn whose narrow, leaded panes overhung the water. That inn had dealt with lovers for a century; it served them with an antique twinkle and left them alone in their own special atmosphere. Afterward the same little steamer or another just like it carried them back toward the city. They sat in the bows in the flow of air, with the quicksilver gleam of water below them, and had the world to themselves.

“I feel,” she said, “very curious. I feel as if I had leaped into cold salt water—and all the time the sun is warming me. All a tingle and a kiss. What have you done to me, Vincent? We Fitzhughes aren’t frivolous like this—we tend to be slow and stolid—but dear heart, as we are obstinate, we are true.”

“Who are you? Where do you come from?”

“Oh, we’re a small tough root of a family down Devonshire way. That village you saved from a bomber might have been my village. Once,

they say, we were all fair or brown like the Normans, but after the Spanish Armada some of us began to turn up dark like me. Isn’t that scandalous?”

“Well after all, it was 200 years ago. I forgive you. Any more confessions?”

“When I was little, I fell in love with an admiral, because of his gold braid. I see now it was a mistake. There is more action with the Air Force . . . Will you be on duty right away?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I want you to be safe for a little while—until I can realize you. Tell me when.”

“Honey, I’d better try and explain this ... I was proud of being a fighter pilot. In the daylight air we did what we were designed to do. We knocked down his fighters and broke up his bomber formations. But when I saw what they did to you at night, I was sick and ashamed. Under our very eyes they are murdering a people. It isn’t enough to take the usual risks of war. We’ve hated war —let’s make them feel that hate. Let’s sear it into their souls until it becomes a weapon that fights for us. Let’s be as tough to protect as they are to kill. Even if it means waves of fighters flung blind into the bomber paths, flung like handfuls of shot. Sweet, I have to—I’m applying for transfer to the night fighters.”

Her sigh made a small quivering sound against the night. The tide muttered under the bow. The city lay about them in the darkness, composed again. There was nothing to tell of last night’s wounds, nothing to hint at tonight’s.

“Was that why you said we must be quick?”

“Not me alone—you too. Between us we can’t muster much of a future, can we? This may be all we will have.”

THEY STOOD in the murmurous dark of the station, waiting.

“Will you write to me?”

“Honey, I’ll be a one man leaflet raid.”

“I shall have to learn your language. Things like—‘So long, honey babe, I will be seeing you.’ ”

“Mighty nice talk, too. What do the Fitzhughes say to their sweeties when off to the wars—pip pip, hearts of oak?”

She giggled. “I expect it means the same thing.”

The train drew in and stood hissing. Voices called, little blue lights winked about it. A beam from a lantern illumined the compartment opposite them. In it were a sailor, a girl typist, a workman in a cloth cap, a mother with a small boy of eight and a good-looking, grey-mustached man with an armband who might have been a civil servant or something in the city. They were sitting in silence, tired out.

“There are your folks, Fitz.”

“Yes, those are my folk. Patient, kind—clinging to the things of good report—and, as it’s now arranged, a cross-section of tomorrow’s casualty list. In a world that has no use for them, I do not want to live.”

“Hush. We’re going to live a thousand years. We’re going to climb

the Rockies and ride the white water and see the wildest sunrises.”

The guard’s whistle piped. She clung to him.

“Hold me tight. Tighter. Darling, even if we never see those sunrises— it was something to have been matched with this hour. It is sweet to have lived with the bugles blowing in your heart.”

As his train moved from the station, the air alerts began to sound.