L'Engle, Madeleine - A Ring of Endless Light

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A Ring of Endless Light i ii Madeleine L'Engle A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT Farrar, Straus, Giroux NEW YORK iii Copyright� 1980 by Crosswicks, Ltd. All rights reserved Second printing, 1980 Printed in the United States of America Published simultaneously in Canada by McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., Toronto Designed by Cynthia Krupat Excerpts from Messengers of God: Biblical Portraits and Legends,by Elie Wiesel, translated by Marion Wiesel, copyright �1976 by Elie Wiesel. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data L'Engle, Madeleine./ A ring of endless light. [1. Death-Fiction. 2. Dolphins-Fiction] I. Title. PZ7.L5385Ri/ [Fie] / 79-27679 ISBN 0-374-36299-8 iv For Sandra Jordan v vi A Ring of Endless Light 1 �*�I saw him for the first time at the funeral. He stood beside my elder brother, John, and they both had closed, clenched jaws and angry eyes. He was as tall as John, and I could see that he was as full of grief over Commander Rodney's death as the rest of us. I didn't know who he was, but I liked him. Because he was standing with John, I assumed that he, too, had a summer job at the Marine Biology Station, which was housed in half of the Coast Guard headquarters. It was a strange place and a strange time to see somebody and know that I wanted to meet him, to call him by name. But there was something about him that struck me as-to use an old-fashioned word-trustworthy; and that's important in an untrustworthy world where death can strike when you aren't looking. This wasn't the first time that I'd come close to death, but it was the first time that I'd been involved in this part of it, this strange, terrible saying goodbye to someone you've loved. I was sixteen (almost), even if not sweet, and I'd had 4 my first proper kiss at fourteen, but I'd never before stood at an open grave, waiting for a pine box to be lowered into it. The part at the church hadn't been so bad, maybe because it was in a familiar setting, the small white church on Seven Bay Island, the church we've been to every year of our lives when we've gone to visit our grandfather. It was a sad time, the time at the church, yet it was somehow beyond time, on the other side of time. Commander Rodney had been our friend for ages. He was Mother and Daddy's age. And he'd died of a heart attack after saving the life of some dumb rich kid who'd gone out in his sailboat in complete disregard of storm warnings. The kid, whoever he was, wasn't at the funeral, and maybe that was a good thing, because I, for one, held him responsible for Commander Rodney's death. And if I felt that way, what did Mrs. Rodney and their kids think? No matter how often our doctor father said you could never be certain what caused a heart attack, and blaming someone was no help at all, I still felt that the capsized sailboat and the half-drowned kid had a lot to do with it. My little brother, Rob, stood close by me. Commander Rodney had been his special friend, more Rob's friend even than Mother and Daddy's. Rob wasn't crying; he hadn't cried at all; but his face was white, the way it looks when he's going to get flu. John was near me on my other side. He'd just finished his first year at M.I.T. and tended to think he was so much bigger than the rest of us he hardly condescended to talk to us. But he reached out and held my hand, firmly, something he hadn't done since we were kids. And on John's other side was this unknown young man with sea-grey eyes. 5 Well. Like John, he probably thought he was much too important to talk to anybody who wasn't in college. Behind them were the people from the Coast Guard and the Marine Biology Station. One man with thick-lensed spectacles and thinning hair was unabashedly wiping his eyes. My little sister, Suzy, thirteen, going on thirty, was with our parents, near the Rodneys. Mrs. Rodney had her hand on Daddy's arm, as though she couldn't have stood up otherwise. Leo, the oldest, had his arm around her. His eyes were closed, as though to shut out the people and the coffin and the open hole. There was so much pain in him that I turned away and looked at the group from the Marine Biology Station, and at the young man who had stepped forward so that he was just slightly in front of John, and I could look at him without being obvious. He was tall and thinnish-not skinny-and his hair was what Rob calls hair-colored hair, not quite brown, not quite blond, like mine. His eyes were open, and there was somehow light behind them, the way sometimes the light on the ocean seems to come from beneath the water, rather than just being reflected from above. He was standing in a relaxed manner, but a little muscle in his cheek was twitching just slightly, so he wasn't as easy as he seemed. Looking at him and wondering about him was a good way to keep my mind off what was happening. Then he stepped back so that he was blocked by John, and I had to come into awareness again. Grandfather stood at the edge of the open grave, dark earth piled up behind him. When we got to the cemetery there'd been a carpetlike thing of phony green grass over the earth, and Grandfather had said with quiet steel, 6 "Take it away," and two of the Coast Guard men had silently removed it. I wondered fleetingly what Mr. Hanchett, the regular minister, would have done. Ever since Grandfather retired and moved to the Island he's taken the church for one month a year, July, so Mr. Hanthett could go on vacation, and that's why he was burying Commander Rodney. His prayer book was open in his hand, although he wasn't reading it. He looked as finely drawn and as beautiful as an El Greco painting, and it was Grandfather who made me want to weep. "Wonder who'll be the next to go?" a woman behind us asked in a loud whisper. I shivered, the way you're supposed to it someone walks over the place where you're going to be buried. Grandfather's voice was low, and yet it could have been heard a mile away, I thought. "You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth we shall return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, 'You are dust, and to dust you shall return.' All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia." No one could rniss the joy in Grandfather's voice as he said those alleluias, and his face was so alive, so alight, that I didn't hear what he was saying next. It was as though I had moved into a dream, and I woke up only when, gently but firmly, he pushed away one of the funeral-type men who was handing him a vial of dirt. It was obvious he was making the funeral people feel frustrated, rejecting their plastic grass and their plastic dirt. He was emphasizing the fact that Commander Rodney's death was real, but this reality was less terrible than plastic pretense, 7 I looked at the rich, dark brown of the piled earth, and there, hovering over it, was a gorgeous red-and-gold butterfly. Its wings moved delicately and it flew over the coffin and quivered in beauty as it hovered there. Grandfather saw it, too, because he stood still, looking, before he reached down and took a handful of earth and threw it onto the coffin, which had been lowered into the grave. "Earth to earth," he said, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." The butterfly still hovered. And the words which followed seemed to me to have more to do with the butterfly than with what he had just said. "The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him, the Lord lift up his countenance upon him, and give him peace." What did those radiant words mean, after the ashes-to- ashes and dust-to-dust stuff? What did it mean to me, and to my family, who were friends of the man who was being committed to the dark earth? What did it mean to his wife, and to his kids? Slowly, gracefully, the butterfly flew off and was lost in the dappled shadows of the trees. I looked from the butterfly to Leo Rodney. I've always thought of Leo as a slob and wiped off his kisses (which certainly didn't count as real ones), and I didn't much like him now, but that was his father in that box there, that box that was going to be covered with earth, not plastic, but real earth, which grass could grow in and butterflies fly over. I looked at Leo and his face was all splotchy as though he had cried and cried, but he hadn't cried, and he needed to. I wasn't sure what anybody cried about, not with my grandfather saying those paradoxical, contradictory words. 8 And my grandfather was dying. The woman's whisper stuck in my ears: "Wonder who'll be the next to go?" Grandfather. Unless some kind of unforeseen accident happened-as it had happened to Commander Rodney-my grandfather was likely to be the next one. He had leukemia. And he was saying all those words as calmly as though he had all the answers about life and death and God and all the cosmic things. And Grandfather would be the first to say he doesn't. Leo moved just then, calling my attention to him; and I remembered last year, when he was on a religious kick and was telling us exactly what God is like, Grandfather had said quietly-not rebukingly, just quietly-"As St. Augustine says: if you think you understand, it isn't God." Looking at Leo, I wished he was still on his religious trip, when he thought he knew all the answers to everything. John pulled my hand gently. It was over. We were going to the Rodneys' to help out when the people of Seven Bay Island came to pay their respects. The house was full of casseroles and salads and pies and all the things people had been bringing in; Mrs. Rodney wouldn't have to cook a meal for weeks. It was a good thing they had a big freezer for all those funeral baked meats. It wasn't too bad at the Rodneys' because I was kept busy serving people, washing dishes, and pouring vast quantities of iced tea. The Coast Guard and Marine Biology people drank the most-I must have filled the grey- eyed young man's glass half a dozen times. 9 The last time he smiled at me apologetically. "You're John Austin's sister, aren't you?" "Yes. Vicky." "I'm Adam Eddington." So that was his name. A good solid name, Adam Eddington. I liked it. "It's nice to meet you, Vicky," he said, "even under these circumstances." "They're not the best." I stood there holding the pitcher of iced tea, which was wet and dripping. "But I don't think I've really taken it in yet. I keep expecting Commander Rodney to come walking in and ask us what we're all doing." "It's rough. He wasn't that old." "My father's age." I glimpsed Daddy talking to a cluster of people from the Marine Biology Station. Then I turned back to Adam. He took a long swallow of tea, and looked at me over the glass. "You know when you cut yourself really badly, it doesn't hurt at all for a while. You don't feel anything. Death-our reaction to death-is sort of like that. You don't feel anything at all. And then later on you begin to hurt." He was speaking with a quiet conviction, as though experience had taught him what he was talking about. I wondered what had happened, who had died, to make him speak like that. He continued, less tensely, "He was a really great guy. He knocked himself out to be nice to me, treating me like an intelligent human being and not a mere flunky. I'll miss him. And I've known him only a few weeks." I shifted the pitcher from one hand to the other. "I 10 haven't begun to hurt yet, but I guess I will. You've been at the station for a while?" "I got out of school the end of May, and I was lucky enough to be able to start here the first of June. It's great having John come to work in the lab-I was the only one under forty." "Are you working with starfish, too?" "Some. But mostly I have an independent project going, on dolphins." "I love dolphins! Though I've never met one personally, only at Sea World." "Would you like to meet one?" "Would I ever!" I almost dropped the pitcher. "I think maybe I can arrange that. You strike me as being a dolphiny person." That might not sound like much of a compliment, but I knew that it was. "We have one dolphin who's going to pup in a week or ten days. Ever see a dolphin baby?" "No." "I'll introduce you to one, then. And-hey, are you good at listening?" Before I could answer, Dr. Nora Zand, John's immediate boss, dropped a hand on Adam's shoulder and told him it was time to go. And I saw that the crowd was thinning out, and then we were leaving, too. Leo took my hand. "Vicky, I wish you didn't have to go-" Leo's hand always felt clammy, and now it was cold as well. "I'm sorry." I tried not to pull my hand away. I was filled with pain for Leo, but I'd much rather have had 11 Adam holding my hand. "I think your mother wants to be alone with just you kids for a while." "Can I come see you tomorrow?" "Sure." I managed not to turn away when he kissed me, not a passionate sort of kiss, but I didn't want any kind of kiss from Leo. And yet I ached so for him I found myself giving him a quick hug before we left. When Leo started hurting, he was going to hurt much more than we were, or than Adam Eddington. We got into the station wagon and drove across the Island and up the hill to Grandfather's, and there, parked in front of the house, was a hearse. �*� Well, I had hearses on my mind. It wasn't a hearse; it was an enormous, brand-new, black station wagon. And a tall, pale young man with black hair was lounging elegantly against it. "Good grief," John exploded. "It's Zachary Gray. Just who we don't need." Daddy murmured, "His timing has always been unerringly inconvenient." I hadn't seen Zachary for a year. I'd never expected to see Zachary again. After a summer during which he sort of pursued me, he'd dropped completely out of sight, far off in California, with girls a lot more glamorous than I could ever hope to be. But I didn't think of him as some kind of moral leper, the way the rest of the family did. And it was Zach who'd given me that first real kiss. My cheeks felt hot and my hands felt icy cold. He waved. "Hi, Austins, long time no see." He grinned at me. "Zach's back." 12 "Hi," I said stupidly, and hoped my flushed cheeks didn't show. "Come for a ride?" Still stupidly, like a ten-year-old kid, I just shook my head. Daddy said, "Zachary, we've just come from a funeral. We're all tired, and sad, and we need to be alone. Could you come another time?" "Certainly, sir," Zachary replied swiftly and courteously. "Tomorrow, Vicky-O?" "Yes-all right." I wasn't sure I liked Zachary's thinking he could drop me for a year and then expect to find me waiting for him as though we'd seen each other the day before. At the same time, something very odd was happening in the pit of my stomach. Zachary was having the old effect. He took my hand. Unlike Leo's, his was warm and dry. "Sorry, Vic. I see the bad penny's turned up at the wrong moment. I'll give you a ring in the morning." He kept my
hand in his, and the look he turned on me was dark and full of pain. Whatever the pain was for, it was as acute as Leo's. "Sorry . . ." he said again, and the flippancy was gone from his voice. "Need you, Vic . . ." He turned his back on us and got into his ostentatious station wagon, the latest, most expensive model of the same kind of station wagon he'd had before. Why did he want a station wagon that looked like a hearse? And how had he found out we were on the Island? I went indoors, unhappy and confused. We weren't using the front door, because some swallows had built a.nest just above it. We had no idea why, but there were three swallows, not two, fluttering about the nest, and they 13 got very excited if we got too close. The eggs had hatched and occasionally we could see little beaks peeping over the straw, cheeping away for food. So we weren't going to use the front door till they were out of the nest. There was a side door, or we could walk around to the back and go through the screened porch and into the kitchen. Being confused because of Zachary was nothing new. Unlike Leo, Zachary was completely unpredictable, and his kiss was nothing like Leo's adolescent pawings. Seeing him now, at this moment, and in this place, was so completely unexpected that it was as though two different worlds had bumped into each other, and I was shaking from the collision. We all went into the big screened porch where Grandfather sleeps when we're at Seven Bay Island so Mother and Daddy can have his big four-poster bed. And suddenly I realized it was hot, early-July hot (and that's why Adam drank all that iced tea), and I'd been feeling cold all day, deep, inside cold. Mother turned on the big old-fashioned wooden ceiling fan-only it was new-fashioned, because she and Daddy had given it to Grandfather for his last birthday. Suzy asked, "Okay if I make lemonade?" and, not waiting for an answer, went into the kitchen. The funeral had been in the late morning, but what with going to the Rodneys' and trying to be useful and available and whatever else one can be at an impossible time to be anything, it was now mid-afternoon. The tide was moving up the beach, and we could hear the soft thrumming of the surf, seeming to say, Relax, relax, let it all go, relax, all is well, all is well . .. Grandfather sat on the old, sagging couch. Mother and 14 Daddy had urged him not to give up his comfortable bed, but he had just said quietly, "Let's keep it all as normal as possible for as long as possible." Mother rocked in the old wicker rocker, and she was looking at Grandfather, and I wanted to hug her, to hug Grandfather, to hold them both against the dark. And I could not. Nobody could. The screen door was propped wide open and Rob sat on the worn porch steps and looked out to sea. Mr. Rochester, our Great Dane, sat on his haunches beside him, and I noticed that Mr. Rochester was getting very grizzled about the muzzle. Mr. Rochester loved us all; we were his family; but Rob was his baby. When Mother used to put Rob outdoors in his carriage or playpen, Mr. Rochester would lie watchfully beside him, and Mother didn't have to worry about anybody coming near. And now Rob was seven and no longer a baby and Mr. Rochester was growing old. A Great Dane's life expectancy isn't more than eleven or so years and that, Daddy reminded us, was something we must accept when we become fond of a dog. Grandfather's cat, Ned, minced around the corner of the stable and then sat down between Rochester's paws, preening himself. Ned is fifteen, but cats have longer lives than large dogs. Daddy and John sat in the wicker swing, and the sound of Mother's rocker, of the swing creaking from its hooks in the porch ceiling, and the waves rolling into shore, all merged into a soporific counterpoint. "Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the Goldberg Variationsto help some German prince or duke who had insomnia to get to sleep," I remarked. 15 Instead of jumping on me for showing off, John asked the ceiling, "I wonder how long Zachary has been at Seven Bay?" I knew what he was thinking. Ordinarily it would have burned me up and I'd have exploded at my brother, but the same thought had occurred to me, so all I said was, "Don't go leaping to conclusions." Daddy raised his eyebrows. "What conclusions, Vic?" "John thinks Zachary was the rich kid Commander Rodney saved from drowning." Daddy looked from me to John and back again to me. "I don't recall John saying anything of the kind." "But you do, don't you, John?" I demanded. John shrugged. "You said it." Suzy said, "Everybody thought it was queer the Island paper didn't give a name." She stood in the doorway holding a silver pitcher. Daddy said, "Mrs. Rodney requested the paper to withhold names." "Jacky thinks the parents paid off the mainland papers," Suzy continued. I almost started to say, "Jacky and Leo are slobs," and then I remembered that, despite Daddy, I did blame the rich kid for what had happened, and if I were the Rodneys I'd be feeling anger and outrage and probably worse. So all I said was, "We don't know whether or not Zachary just got here this afternoon." Mother added, "If he knew about it, he'd hardly have turned up here right after the funeral. That the lemonade, Suze?" And we all looked at the silver pitcher. 16 Grandfather spoke for the first time. If I noticed a change in Grandfather this summer, it was that he didn't talk as much as usual. "I haven't seen that pitcher in years, Suze. Where did you find it?" "Up on the top shelf of the corner cupboard. I just gave it a quick polish. I hope you don't mind?" "I'm delighted," Grandfather assured her. "Let's use all the pretty things as much as possible this summer. That's what your grandmother always said they were for, to be enjoyed. When I'm alone I'm afraid I tend to be lazy. But when we're together, let's appreciate everything to the hilt." I don't think Grandfather intended anything he said to have double meanings, but to me, everything did. Let's enjoy it, because tomorrow it may all be cut off. There are a lot of leukemias in old people which can be arrested, if not completely cured, but Grandfather didn't have one of these. It was a rare kind, and lethal. Daddy was giving him some new medication which might make things easier, but he couldn't stop the disease or even hope for remission. He was completely open with us about this. John slid to the floor by the low table with the pitcher of lemonade and the tall glasses. "Dad, I know I don't have to declare my major yet, but I'm taking all the pre-med courses I can fit in." It was a change of subject from Zachary and I was grateful. I even thought John might be doing it on purpose. He may tend to be high and mighty, but he's also nice, much nicer than I am, and since he got home from college we haven't bickered nearly as much as we used to. "What about space research?" Daddy asked. "Oh, I'm still into astrophysics. But it would be a good 17 17 idea for me to have an M.D. anyhow. Adam and I were talking about it." "Adam?" Mother asked. "Adam Eddington. He's working at the Marine Biology Station this summer, too. He's the one who was standing next to me at the cemetery. We're pretty good friends." "He's cute," Suzy said. Why did that annoy me? It did. "The weird thing," John said, "is that he grew up just a few blocks away from our house in New York. We might even have passed each other on the street last year during the Christmas holidays." "Too bad we're moving back to Thornhill," Suzy said. "The boys around there are all nerds." "Not true," John said. "Wait and see. You'll find they all grew up as much as you did while we were in New York. Adam knows a heck of a lot more about marine biology than I do, but he's getting a veterinary degree as well as his Ph.D. tor his work." "What's his special field?" Daddy asked. "This summer he has a project with dolphins, but he's studied a lot about limb regeneration. You'd be fascinated, Suze. Not only starfish, but lizards and tortoises have been able to grow new limbs." Suzy sparked. She's the beauty of the family, petite and piquante and all the things I'm not. She also has a mind like a scalpel, and she's wanted to be a doctor ever since she could talk, though lately she's been edging more and more toward being a veterinary surgeon. She and John and Daddy got into a scientific discussion that was completely 18 above my head. And nobody said anything more about Zachary. �*� Grandfather's house is, to put it mildly, unusual. It used to be a stable, a real stable for real horses. When Grandfather bought it before he retired, he left up most of the stalls and had bookcases built in them, for all the hundreds and thousands of books he's collected over the years and can't throw away, either because he's going to need to check something in one, or they might be useful for a grandchild or friend or neighbor. Leo, for instance, uses Grandfather's library for most of his school papers. Grandfather's bedroom is the only real bedroom. Up in the loft there are half a dozen cots, and (hat's where we sleep. We'd never before spent more than two weeks at a time on the Island, and it's always been special and a holiday and tun to sleep all together in a dormitory. This time it was different. We were there lor a purpose: to be with Grandfather. Mother and Daddy hadn't said anything about time limits, just that we'd stay as long as Grandfather needed us. And yet I knew that Daddy had to be back in Thornhill right after Labor Day. Unlike John and Suzy, I am not scientifically inclined, but what came through to me, and it came through loud and clear, was that our doctor father did not think Grandfather would live through the summer. I could not imagine the world without Grandfather. At the same time I found myself thinking, totally selfishly, that I wasn't sure I wanted to sleep in a dormitory for more than a couple of weeks. The older I grew, the more I needed times and places of privacy-or privatecy,as 19 Rob calls it, which sounds considerably more private than privacy. Privatecy to write in my journal, to write and rewrite, and rewrite again, poems and stories. To try to find out not only who I am but who everybody else is, and what it's all about. �*� That night after Commander Rodney's funeral, up in my cot in the loft, next to Rob's, I couldn't sleep. Rob was snoring softly; his allergies bother him not only when the pollen count is high in the autumn but whenever he's deeply upset, and I knew that his snoring this night was not because of the pollen count. I thought of going down the loft ladder to ask Daddy for an antihistamine, but Rob was sound asleep and he wasn't wheezing. My urge to go to Daddy was more for myself than for Rob. I put my hands behind my head and waited for the beam of the lighthouse to swing across the loft, touching each cot with its friendly light. My eyes were so awake they felt gritty. I wasn't quite sure why Commander Rodney's death hit me so hard. He was our good friend, but not so intertwined a part of our lives that things would never be the same again, the way they'd never be the same for Leo. And yet, in a way, when anyone dies, even someone you don't know, someone you read about in a newspaper, life never will be quite the same again. What was it Grandfather said? If someone kills a butterfly, it could cause an earthquake in a galaxy a trillion light- years away. From downstairs I heard the sound of Mother's guitar, and I knew that either Grandfather or Daddy had asked her to sing for them, and maybe for the four of us up in 20 the loft. She started with a French song, one of my favorites, "Les filles de Saint-Malo ont les yeux 1'couleur de l'eau." It wasn't The Goldberg Variations,but it worked, and I fell asleep. �*� I woke up in the middle of the night; well, not quite that late, because the full moon was pouring its light through the attic windows and that was what woke me. The loft was filled with a pearly light which almost drowned out the lighthouse beam. The words of the verses Grandfather had painted on the wall were clearly visible: if thou could'st empty all thyself of self, Like to a shell dishabited, Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf, And say, "This is not dead," And fill thee with Himself instead. But thou art all replete with very thou And hast such shrewd activity, That when He comes He says, "This is enow Unto itself- 'twere better let it be, It is so small and full, there is no room for Me." Sir Thomas Browne wrote those lines at least three centuries ago, but they always made me think of Grandfather, empty of all the horrid things, and filled with gentleness and strength. As for me, I felt replete with very me, full of confusions and questions for which there were no answers. Suzy cried out in her sleep. John turned over, and the old springs of the cot squeaked as though John had dis- 21 turbed their rest. Then I looked at the cot on my left and it was empty. I wasn't worried. Mr. Rochester, who slept at the foot of the loft ladder, would have let us know if anything was wrong. I heard the ladder creak, and Rob clambered up, trying to be quiet. I sat up and whispered, "Where've you been?" Rob sat on the edge of his cot. "Talking to Grandfather." Not Mother and Daddy. Grandfather. "You shouldn't have disturbed him." "He was awake." "How'd you know?" "He was reading." "What'd you talk to him about?" "Dying." Rob was only seven. Still young enough to talk about things you don't talk about, especially to someone who's dying. But why don't you? If I had a fatal disease I'd want people to talk to me about dying, instead of getting embarrassed and pretending I was going to get well. We weren't pretending that Grandfather was going to get well, but we weren't talking about it, at least John and Suzy and J weren't, not to each other. Perhaps Mother and Daddy were braver. As for Rob-he was Rob. "Do Mother and Daddy know you're up?" "They're asleep. Only Grandfather." "We'd better stop whispering or we'll wake John and Suzy." As I said that, John bounced, and his springs protested loudly. Rob gave me a hug and kissed me before getting into his cot. He hadn't done that in quite a while and I'd missed it. 22 Rob's so much younger than the rest of us that I've wanted him to go on being a baby, or at least a little boy, forever. But of course he can't. I lay down. It wasn't quite warm enough with just a sheet, and a little too warm with the lightweight summer blanket. I pushed it halfway down and tried to relax, listening to the wind in the trees and the surf's slow pounding against the shore. That, too, was soporific. �*� During vacations, breakfast is a floating affair. Mother plugs the percolator into a timer before she goes to bed, for those who drink coffee. Otherwise, we're on our own. At Grandfather's, we fix our breakfasts in the kitchen and take them out on the porch, unless the weather is bad. Our

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