Sample K03 from Tristram Coffin, Not to the Swift. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1961. Pp. 200-204. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,012 words 999 (49.7%) quotes 1 symbolK03

Used by permission of Tristram Coffin. 0010-1650

Tristram Coffin, Not to the Swift. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1961. Pp. 200-204.

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Mickie sat over his second whisky-on-the-rocks in a little bar next to the funeral parlor on Pennsylvania Avenue . Al's Little Cafe was small , dark , narrow , and filled with the mingled scent of beer , tobacco smoke , and Italian cooking . Hanging over the bar was an oil painting of a nude Al had accepted from a student at the Corcoran Gallery who needed to eat and drink and was broke . The nude was small and black-haired and elfin , and was called `` Eloise '' .

This was one place where Moonan could go for a drink in a back booth without anyone noticing him , or at least coming up and hanging around and wanting to know all the low-down . The other patrons were taxi drivers and art students and small shopkeepers . The reporters had not yet discovered that this was his hideaway .

His friend Jane was with him . She was wise enough to realize a man could be good company even if he did weigh too much and didn't own the mint . She was the widow of a writer who had died in an airplane crash , and Mickie had found her a job as head of the historical section of the Treasury . This meant sorting out press clippings and the like .

Jane sat receptive and interested . Mickie had a pleasant glow as he said , `` You see , both of them , I mean the President and Jeff Lawrence , are romantics . A romantic is one who thinks the world is divinely inspired and all he has to do is find the right key , and then divine justice and altruism will appear . It's like focusing a camera ; ; the distant ship isn't there until you get the focus . You know what I'm talking about . I'm sure all girls feel this way about men until they live with them .

`` But when it comes to war , the Colonel knows what it is and Jeff doesn't . Mr. Christiansen knows that a soldier will get the Distinguished Service Medal for conduct that would land him in prison for life or the electric chair as a civilian . He had a mean , unbroken sheer bastard in his outfit , and someone invented the name Trig for him . That's to say , he was trigger happy . He'd shoot at anything if it was the rear end of a horse or his own sentry . He was a wiry , inscrutable , silent country boy from the red clay of rural Alabama , and he spoke with the broad drawl that others normally make fun of . But not in front of Trig . I heard of some that tried it back in the States , and he'd knock them clear across the room . There'd been a pretty bad incident back at the Marine base . A New York kid , a refugee from one of the Harlem gangs , made fun of Trig's accent , and drew a knife . Before the fight was over , the Harlem boy had a concussion and Trig was cut up badly . They caught Trig stealing liquor from the officers' mess , and he got a couple of girls in trouble . The fear of punishment just didn't bother him . It wasn't there . It was left out of him at birth . This is why he made such a magnificent soldier . He wasn't troubled with the ordinary , rank-and-file fear that overcomes and paralyzes and sends individual soldiers and whole companies under fire running in panic . It just didn't occur to Trig that anything serious would happen to him . Do you get the picture of the kind of fellow he was '' ? ?

Jane nodded with a pleasant smile .

`` All right . There was a sniper's nest in a mountain cave , and it was picking off our men with devilish accuracy . The Colonel ordered that it be wiped out , and I suggested , ' You ask for volunteers , and promise each man on the patrol a quart of whisky , ten dollars and a week-end pass to Davao . Trig was one of the five volunteers . The patrol snaked around in back of the cave , approached it from above and dropped in suddenly with wild howls . You could hear them from our outpost . There was a lot of shooting . We knew the enemy was subdued , because a flare was fired as the signal . So we hurried over . Two of our men were killed , a third was wounded . Trig and a very black colored boy from Detroit had killed or put out of action ten guerrillas by grenades and hand-to-hand fighting . When we got there , Trig and the Negro were quarreling over possession of a gold crucifix around the neck of a wounded Filipino . The colored boy had it , and Trig lunged at him with a knife and said , ' Give that to me , you black bastard . We don't 'low nigras to walk on the same sidewalk with white men where I come from .

`` The Negro got a bad slice on his chest from the knife wound '' .

`` What did the Colonel do about the men '' ? ? Jane asked in her placid , interested way .

Mickie laughed . `` He recommended both of them for the DSM and the Detroit fellow for the Purple Heart , too , for a combat-inflicted wound . So you see Mr. Christiansen knows what it's all about . But not Jeff Lawrence . When he was in the war , he was in Law or Supplies or something like that , and an old buddy of his told me he would come down on Sundays to the Pentagon and read the citations for medals -- just like the one we sent in for Trig -- and go away with a real glow . These were heroes nine feet tall to him '' .

Jefferson Lawrence was alone at the small , perfectly appointed table by the window looking out over the river . He had dinner and sat there over his coffee watching the winding pattern of traffic as it crossed the bridge and spread out like a serpent with two heads . Beside him was Mrs. Dalloway . He thought how this dainty , fragile older woman threading her way through the streets of Westminster on a day in June , enjoying the flowers in the shops , the greetings from old friends , but never really drawing a deep , passionate breath , was so like himself . He , and Mrs. Dalloway , too , had never permitted themselves the luxury of joys that dug into the bone marrow of the spirit .

He had not because he was both poor and ambitious . Poverty imposes a kind of chastity on the ambitious . They cannot stop to grasp and embrace and sit in the back seat of cars along a dark country lane . No , they must look the other way and climb one more painful step up the ladder . He made the decision with his eyes open , or so he thought . At any cost , he must leave the dreary Pennsylvania mining town where his father was a pharmacist . And so he had , so he had . At State College , he had no time to walk among the violets on the water's edge . From his room he could look out in springtime and see the couples hand in hand walking slowly , deliciously , across the campus , and he could smell the sweet vernal winds . He was not stone . He was not unmoved . He had to teach himself patiently that these traps were not for him . He must mentally pull the blinds and close the window , so that all that existed was in the books before him . At law school , the same . More of this stamping down of human emotion as a young lawyer in New York . By the time he was prosperous enough -- his goals were high -- he was bald and afraid of women . The only one who would have him was his cripple , the strange unhappy woman who became his wife . Perhaps it was right ; ; perhaps it was just . He had dared to defy nature , to turn his back to the Lorelei , and he was punished . Like Mrs. Dalloway , with her regrets about Peter Walsh , he had his moments of melancholy over a youth too well spent . If he had had a son , he would tell him , `` Gather ye rosebuds while ye may This same flower that smiles today tomorrow will be dying '' . But then his son could afford it .

Lawrence was waiting for Bill Boxell . The Vice President had called and asked if he could see the Secretary at his home . He said the matter was urgent . The Secretary was uneasy about the visit . He did not like Boxell . He suspected something underhanded and furtive about him . Lawrence could not put his finger on it precisely , and this worried him . When you disliked or distrusted a man , you should have a reason . Human nature was not a piece of meat you could tell was bad by its smell . Lawrence stared a minute at the lighted ribbon of traffic , hoping that a clue to his dislike of the Vice President would appear . It did not . Therefore , he decided he was unfair to the young man and should make an effort to understand and sympathize with his point of view .

A half hour later the Vice President arrived . He looked very carefully at every piece of furnishing , as though hoping to store this information carefully in his mind . He observed the Florentine vase in the hall , the Renoir painting in the library , as well as the long shelves of well-bound volumes ; ; the pattern of the Oriental rug , the delicate cut-glass chandelier .

He said to the Secretary , `` I understand you came from a little Pennsylvania town near Wilkes-Barre . How did you find out about this '' ? ? He waved his arm around at the furnishings .

It was not a discourteous question , Lawrence decided . This young man had so little time to learn he had to be curious ; ; he had to find out . The Secretary did not tell him at what cost , at what loneliness , he learned these things . He merely said , `` Any good decorator these days can make you a tasteful home '' .

The Vice President said , `` If you hear of any names that would fix me cheap in return for advertising they decorated the Vice President's home , let me know . I can do business with that kind '' .

Again , Lawrence thought a little sadly , these were the fees of poverty and ambition . Boxell did not have the chance to grow up graciously . He had to acquire everything he was going to get in four years .

They had brandy in the library . Boxell looked at Lawrence with a searching glance , the kind that a prosecuting attorney would give a man on trial . What are your weaknesses ? ? Where will you break ? ? How best to destroy your peace ? ?

The Vice President said with a slight bluster , `` There isn't anyone who loves the President more than I do . Old Chris is my ideal . At the same time , you have to face facts and realize that a man who's been in the Marine Corps all his life doesn't understand much about politics . What does a monk know about sex '' ? ?

Lawrence listened with the practiced , deceptive calm of the lawyer , but his face was in the shadow .

`` So , we have to protect the old man for his own good . You see what I mean . Congress is full of politicians , and if you want to get along with them , you have to be politic . This is why I say we just can't go ahead and disarm the Germans and pull down our own defenses . Let me tell you what happened to me today . A fellow came up to me , a Senator , I don't have to tell you his name , and he told me , ' I love the President like a brother , but God damn it , he's crucifying me . I've got a quarter of a million Germans in my state , and those krautheads tune in on Father Werther every night , and if he tells them to go out and piss in the public square , that's what they do . He's telling them now to write letters to their Congressmen opposing the disarmament of Germany . And another one comes to me and he says , ' Look here , there's a mill in my state employs five thousand people making uniforms for the Navy .