"Why did they
do that?" Medora asked.
puts a terrific strain on the plumbing system," I said. "Floods things
all over town. So it was a kind of weapon. It was to tell the Cambridge
citizens and the college administration not to fool around with their
"I would like
to have heard them," Medora suddenly said.
I thought she was
referring to the Lowell House plumbing, but it turned out to be the bells.
"I wish Harvard had won," she said wistfully, "so that you could
stand here and listen to them."
Impossible to tell
about Medora. Didn't she want to listen to them, too?
Not long after our
trip I wandered into her room when she wasn't there. Tiffany, her parrakeet,
was scrabbling around in its cage. Her room has always been an irresistible
place to visit from time to time to see what is new in there—to check on the
detritus of her complicated schoolgirl life. A "secret" note from a
school chum pinned up on the cork bulletin board. What she has dropped into her
fish tank lately. The newest of the mice figurines she has added to a fearsome
array on a shelf.
On her desk was a
draft of a newspaper that she was apparently putting together as a Christmas
present. Green holly leaves were pasted at each corner. The headline read YALE
BEATS HARVARD BY FAR, the subhead, SCORE IS 14-0 YALE ON FREEZING DAY.
Involuntarily, I glanced back over my shoulder, to make certain I wouldn't be
caught prying in her room, and then turned back to read: "Harvard fans had
little to cheer about yesterday as Yale handkerchiefs fluttered in the air.
There was lots of cheering coming from the Yale stands. Harvard players slipped
too much on the grass. At the end of the game the two gold posts were torn down
by Yale fans. The Harvard fans went off to partys to drown their
A pile of
photographs from newspaper sports sections were waiting to be pasted in. I
recognized Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers in one of the pictures, vaulting
into a dense pile of tacklers, the distinction of what team Campbell actually
played on being of little significance to the young editor. I couldn't resist
browsing through the paper. On the second page was a large advertisement for
cats illustrated with a dozen silhouette studies of cats with their tails
hanging down, as though the cats were sitting on an imaginary shelf. Medora
does a great many of these studies.
What caught my eye
was a story on the same page under the large headline (with a line through the
second word, the spelling of which had apparently stumped her): BLACK HORSE
BUYED. The text, again with a number of words crossed out, read as follows:
"The black horse arrived in a truck shortly after nightfall. It was dark
outside. His name was [Abraham Lincoln Tom, Blueboy] Prince!" I suspected I
knew then what those thoughtful silences I had detected on that chilly November
afternoon were all about—not about whether she was going to hiccup or whether a
pigeon had crossed a goal line or even whether she preferred Harvard, or Yale
or even Princeton. Names were under consideration but not the names of
A small story
caught my eye on the last page of the paper. The headline read HARVARD NOT