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By Philip Wylie

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And not even Larry could have missed guessing how Virginia felt. There were Virginia's eyes, there was the sound of her voice--the way she looked at Bill when he was talking to someone else--the way she looked down when he talked to her. On the other hand, Bill did not know how much Virginia had told the family about him, and he brought the word "my wife" delicately into the conversation while he was telling an anecdote of business, of a prom at college, or a summer in the Adirondacks--one I have forgotten.

He spilled a little of his drink, without noticing it. He made a broad sweep with his unencumbered hand. For him it had become Autumn. The afternoon was waning. The sky was blue and sharp. The stadium was packed. Harvard led. No one was breathing, a whistle blew, a hoarse and desperate quarterback slapped his knees and called signals. Ten white stripes lay between his gritty human machine and the goal posts: "It was one of those terrific things! They spread out for a pass, and Harvard spread to cover it.

He was conscious of what was going on, but his body and his mind were in a transfixed state. I think his helplessness increased our own abjection. We sat there for a long time without saying a thing. Then Larry came down the stairs. He walked back to his seat at the table. Everybody carefully avoided looking at him until he spoke. Virginia had been right. He was more restored than any of the rest of us. "Sorry I took it like such a baby, fellows. " We were all looking at him by that time. " That seemed to bring John out of his blind stupefaction.

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An April Afternoon by Philip Wylie


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