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Their rubbers creaked as they went trudging across the Yard cold with a bitter sweep of wind--and the ice glare upon the steps of Widener. Three of them, Jopes, and Plimpkin and Thwait! The brief cases at their sides bulked heavy.
"A dull night and raw", said Thwait.
"Rignto", said Jones.
"And Widener is very warm", said Plimpkin, "Very warm, indeed."
Their rubbers creaked a chorus. The stars were very clear. Above the Yard there was none so clear as that yellow one to the north--or was that Thwait's imagination? "I have," he suddenly remembered, "I have to make a call tonight."
"Really?", from Jones.
"How pleasant", said Plimpkin.
"And I think she would like you to come with me", added Thwait. "I truly do."
"Now really...", began Jones.
"We'll be glad....", ended Plimpkin.
Creak, creak went their rubbers. And the brief cases at their sides swung to and fro, to and fro not unlike the movement of dromedaries--but that is another story. Three secton men, marching toward the house of a Cambridge lady on Christmas--was it Christmas--Eve...Surely that has nothing to link it with fable or fancy or even myth, has it?
She was seated by the hearth, rocking. You must leave your rubbers in the hall and place your brief cases all in a row and come and sit down by the fire", she said, for she was a clever lady. So three comfortable and cheerful brethren sat by the fire and smoked her excellent cigarettes and wondered. For even a section man may wonder, occasionally.
And their wonder was due to the rocking and the cause of the rocking. For the lovely lady--most lovely and rather young--the lovely lady was rocking a book. They tried to be polite. Have I said that she was clever? "Gentlemen, you must forgive me, but--but I have given birth to created a--"
They were not quite comfortable. Thwait wished for the absence of Jones and Plimpkin. They wished for the same. None was at all sure of himself. Secton men are not heroes. Why should they be? This was a situation. It needed a hero.
"I--I...", started Thwait.
"Yes, really....", furthered Jones.
"Your fire is wonderful", completed Plimpton.
The lovely lady had not heard. She was watching the highest of all the flames, the streaking blue wisp like a hand, never reaching ever trying...."Created a book" she went on deftly. "And I am happy to have you all here to look at it, bless it. For you are wise men--and the book is mine. My husband, you see--my husband does not understand. He is not wise; he is only a husband. And he thinks that the book should be at least partly, his...It is not. It is mine, mine and God's." She extended the volume toward Thwait.
Thwait took it gingerly, precisely, carefully. And then he forgot himself, on remembered himself. "Do you mind--do you mind if I write..."
She smiled. "You want to give it something? Of course you may write." He scribbled fiercely on the margin of a page of clear, large print. Marginal notes. He had given of his lore to the book child of the lovely lady.
"Now really", said Jones. And he wrote an erratum on the fly leaf.
"What a real warmth it has" concluded Plimpkin as he added a comma to the erratum of Jones and a great, fat semi-colon to the marginal notes of Thwait. They smiled at each other benignly. The lovely lady was watching the fire, watching the flame which always was reaching, trying....
"I think", she said," we had better play the radio."
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