Thursday, 28 March 2013

Write to the President

     ‘He is over ninety, you know,’ said Lady Helen, and Mr Franklin said, yes he knew.
     ‘One forgets, sometimes,’ said Lady Helen. ‘He doesn’t behave at all like a very old man — he remembers everything, and his brain is so alert and active. Did you know, that only fourteen years ago, he was staying at the Residency in Peking, when it was attacked in the Boxer Rising, and he took charge of the artillery belonging to your American contingent, and commanded it all through the siege? He was seventy-eight then. And when the Residency was relieved, the officer in charge of the American Marines said he would write to the President to ask for some special decoration for him, and Uncle Harry laughed and asked one of the Marines to give him his hat, and then he put it on and said: “That’ll do better than a medal,” and off he went.’ She pressed the old man’s hand, and Mr Franklin saw there were tears in her eyes. ‘We’re very proud of him, of course.’

Mr American, p.432, Pan Books, paperback edition 1982.

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