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The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (20th Installment)

September 22, 2018 09:46PM
PART TWENTY-ONE

That day was spent doing some more sight-seeing in Washington. This time Michael drove into the city, after what he called “rush hour” had ended. Ada had opted to stay at Michael’s condominium.

“Y’all shouldn’t need chaperoning when you’re out in public. You both need some time to yourselves. You’ve got nothing to worry about, Jane. Me, I got some reading I want to catch up on, long’s I don’t have to be at work.”

They drove into the city, on a very wide, multi-laned, smoothly paved road that Michael referred to as a “freeway.”

The speed they were traveling at was frightening.

“How fast are we going, Michael?” asked Jane.

“Oh, 70 to 75 miles per hour.”

“Surely not!”

“Nope. Just plain ‘surely.’ I know it must be an adjustment, but statistically freeways are the safest roads there are. Problem is, if there is an accident, the high speeds are pretty unforgiving, but hundreds of thousands of cars travel on freeways every day, and very few accidents actually occur.”

A sound like an explosion came from the sky, and Jane looked up to see what appeared to be a giant bird, with smoke coming out of its tail.

“That can’t be a bird!” she exclaimed. “It’s monstrously huge!”

“No. It’s an airplane. A type of flying carriage for traveling in the sky.”

“People travel in carriages that fly?”

“Sure do. First time was in 1903. Well, not quite the first time. Just the first time that flight with a ‘heavier than air’ craft was propelled by an engine. Before that, they had aircrafts that glided, but they were difficult to steer. And before that, back in your time, in fact, they flew in baskets suspended from a huge balloon filled with hot air.”

“Have you ever actually traveled in one of those, what did you call them?”

“Airplanes. Usually shortened to ‘planes.’ And, yes, I have. More times’n I can count.”

Upon entering the city, Michael exited from the freeway, and drove to a parking lot set aside for employees at the US District Courthouse at 3rd and Constitution. From there they walked over to the National Mall, a large park surrounded by buildings.

“That big domed building is the Capitol, where the two Houses of Congress meet,” said Michael. “Congress is divided up into two chambers, the House of Representatives, which represents the people directly, and the Senate, which represents the states.”

“Much like Commons and Lords in Parliament.”

“Quite a bit like that, except senators are elected, not automatically given a seat because they’re part of the aristocracy. Each state, depending on how large or small its population is, can have as few as one member in the House, or as many as 53, but every state gets two senators. It’s a check on the tyranny of the majority, which democracy can devolve into without limitations.”

“What are the qualifications to be able to vote?”

“Any US citizen who’s reached the age of 18 can vote, if they register. It’s universal suffrage. 18’s considered the age of majority here.”

“Women can vote?” asked an amazed Jane.

“And serve in Congress, or on the President’s cabinet, or even be elected President or Vice-President, or appointed as judges in federal courts, including the Supreme Court. There’ve been lots of women representatives, and a fair number of senators. There are currently three Supreme Court justices who are women. No woman’s been elected President yet, but a few have run for the office. On your side of the Pond, one of the greatest prime ministers of the last century, probably one of the greatest in history, was a woman, Margaret Thatcher. When we get a woman president, I hope she’s like Mrs. Thatcher.”

“That’s incredible!”

“That I admire Mrs. Thatcher.”

“That Mrs. Thatcher was Great Britain’s Prime Minister. That women can vote at all.”

“Well, after all, Ada’s an armed, fully empowered federal law enforcement officer. Wouldn’t it be kind of odd to give someone that kind of authority if she couldn’t even vote? Women have been able to vote since 1920 here in the States, when an amendment to the US Constitution was passed guaranteeing them that right. And even before then, a lot of individual states had passed laws giving women the vote. In fact, the first woman was elected to Congress in 1916, four years before women’s right to vote became national.”

*


Most of the buildings on either side of the mall were museums, all devoted to different aspects of the United States, and all, according Michael, endowed by an Englishman named James Smithson, a chemist and mineralogist from her own time who, apparently, despite never having set foot in the United States during his lifetime, had developed an admiration for it.

“He never married, and he had no children of his own,” said Michael. “He inherited a huge amount of money from his mother, who was a wealthy young widow at the time she had a romantic liaison with Hugh Percy, the First Duke of Northumberland. He’d been born Hugh Smithson. James eventually adopted his father’s original surname. Never having married or been a father, he left all his fortune to his nephew, with the proviso that, should his nephew predecease him, the fortune was to be used to establish a foundation here in Washington, to be called the Smithsonian Institute, for what he called ‘the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.’ And, as it happened, his nephew did predecease him. All these museums are part of the Smithsonian Institute, and they’re among the most visited museums in the world. We won’t be able to see ‘em all. There are nine just here at the mall and a few others in other parts of DC, and still more in other cities. Along with a zoo here in town.”

“Which ones shall we visit today, Michael.”

“Well, first, I want to take you through the Museum of American History. We could spend a whole week there, but we’ll just skim it for a few hours.”

*


At the entrance, a huge American flag was draped over the wall. It had fewer stars in the blue field than those she had seen waving from flagpoles in the mall and elsewhere in the city. And, though she wasn’t sure, it seemed to have more of the red and white stripes.

“That’s the flag from the Battle of Fort McHenry. Back in 1814, your boys bombarded the fort continuously for twenty-seven hours straight. The Royal Navy ships doing the bombarding were just out of the range of the fort’s cannons. An American lawyer and poet named Francis Scott Key had come on board a British ship to plead for the release of a physician being held prisoner. He was forced to stay on the ship while the attack was going on. The next morning, he saw that flag still proudly waving over the fort, and wrote a poem about it called ‘The Defense of Fort McHenry.’ Later it was set to music. In fact, it was set to a British drinking song called ‘To Anacreon in Heaven.’ The musical version became known as ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ In 1931, Congress officially adopted it as our national anthem.”

“Does it not have fewer stars than the ones I’ve seen flying around the city.”

“Flags made now have fifty stars, one for each state. In 1814, we only had 18 states, and this flag was a few years old, so it only had fifteen. Also has fifteen stripes. In 1818, they stopped adding stripes for each new state, and just added stars. At the same time, they reduced the number of stripes permanently to thirteen to commemorate the original thirteen states.”

“I see. Rather like adding the crosses of St. Andrew and St. Patrick to that of St. George to form the Union Flag.”

“That’s a pretty good analogy.”

They continued their tour. Jane saw a huge marble statue of George Washington, posed so as to resemble a Roman emperor; formal gowns that had all been worn by wives of the various presidents, the so-called “First Ladies,” over the years; exhibits of various automobiles over the years; and an exhibit honoring women who had served in the armed forces of the US (“Women soldiers? Surely not!”).

Americans were not shy about looking at the more tragic parts of their history. A special exhibit about American citizens of Japanese descent who had been sent to what amounted to prison camps during what Michael called “World War II” was especially moving.

“We were at war with Japan,” Michael explained. “But we were also at war with Germany and Italy, yet we didn’t imprison Americans of German or Italian descent. World War II was one of America’s most shining moments, but the imprisonment of loyal American citizens because of their ancestry was inexcusable. A terrible blot on that shining moment.”

“Why were they singled out, Michael?”

“Well, the Japanese were the ones who actually attacked us. They bombed military bases out in Hawaii. That’s a US state in the middle of the Pacific, though in 1941, it was still only a territory. That was the excuse. But a major component was that they weren’t white. To prove their loyalty, a lot young Japanese-American men enlisted in the Army, and formed a special infantry unit made up of Japanese-Americans, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. They wound up being one of the most highly decorated military units of the war. They proved their loyalty with blood and courage.”

As he said this, his eyes glistened. Michael preferred to put out a hard demeanor, but he was actually more tender-hearted than he liked to let on.

*


“Where shall we go next, Michael?”

“Well, since you were so surprised by that airplane that flew over us on the way in, I thought you should see the Air and Space Museum.”

Five minutes later, they had walked to the other side of the mall and were entering the building that told the story of a transportation technology Jane had never even imagined in her wildest dreams.

One of the first sights she viewed upon entering was the Wright Flier, the very first heavier than air vehicle propelled by an engine.

“The Wright brothers were actually a pair of bicycle makers. But they’d been interested in manned flight from childhood. When they figured out a way to steer using a device that could control all three axes, the pitch, the yaw, and the roll, they made a breakthrough that’s still, basically, the system in use today. The first successful flight, though it was only a partial success, occurred a hundred and twenty-one years to the day after the Montgolfier brothers in France made their first flight in a hot-air balloon.”

She also saw the first armed aircraft, the Wright Military Flier, also designed by the Wrights.

“Didn’t take people long to figure out how to make airplanes into weapons of war, did it?” said Michael.

A smaller, more efficient looking airplane was suspended from the ceiling. Michael called it The Spirit of St. Louis.

“That’s a purpose-built plane that a pilot named Charles Lindbergh used to fly across the Atlantic, from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France, in 1927. Less than a quarter century after the Wrights used that over-sized kite to fly a hundred and twenty feet in twelve seconds, Lindbergh was managing to stay in the air, and awake, for more than thirty hours, to fly more than thirty-six hundred miles. Lindbergh became a national hero on the basis of that flight. Not even the astronauts got that kind of adulation.”

“Astronauts?” said Jane.

“Pilots who fly special vehicles in outer space.”

“Outer space?” said Jane.

“The area out beyond the atmosphere surrounding the earth. People have been traveling in space for more’n fifty years. They’ve even been all the way to Moon and back. And the people who make those trips are called ‘astronauts.’ Derives from two ancient Greek words that go together to form the phrase ‘star voyager.’”

“Surely you can’t be serious! I recall Lizzy telling me that the Moon was more two hundred thousand miles from the Earth.”

“Varies depending on where it is in its orbit around us, but at its farthest, it’s just shy of a quarter of a million miles away.”

“And you expect me to believe that men have traveled that far in an airless void?”

“Several times. The first manned flight to the Moon was in 1969. Well, actually, the first was in 1968, but they didn’t actually land, they just orbited the Moon for twenty hours and then returned to earth. That was one of dozens of other preparatory flights that preceded the one that actually landed. Let me show you.”

With that he steered her to an exhibit of what seemed, to her, to be a rather large bell with a window.

“That’s the Freedom 7. Back in 1961, it was what Commander Alan Shepherd of the US Navy rode beyond the atmosphere. He was the first American in outer space.”

“But there are no wings, or, what were those bladed things? Propellers.”

“Wings and propellers don’t count for much up in space. This was set at the top of what amounted to a three-story building, each story being nothing but a huge rocket for driving this thing out beyond the atmosphere. The first one blasted off from the ground. When it ran out of fuel, it dropped off and the next one took over. When it was empty, the third rocket took over. By the time that one emptied out and dropped off, this little old thing had been pushed beyond the atmosphere, 116 miles straight up. Then, it started to descend. Whole flight didn’t take much longer than fifteen minutes.”

“And he was the first person in . . . space?”

“First American. First person in space was a Russian Air Force Officer, Captain Yuri Gagarin. He didn’t just go up and down, either. He took an orbit around the Earth before descending. That’s what got us Americans so stoked. Russia, or the Soviet Union to give it the official name they used at the time, was our primary military adversary, but neither one of us could afford to actually fight a world war. The weapons we both had were too destructive. So we fought it allegorically, so to speak, in outer space. We ended up ahead, when the race was over. They were first into space, but we were first on the Moon.”

“Air Force?”

“When it became clear that a plane could be used as a weapon, most nations set up a separate military branch that specialized in aerial warfare. They were commonly called air forces, just as military services that specialize in warfare at sea are called navies.”

“I shan’t recall all of this.”

“Well, that’s OK. There won’t be a test.”

From there he showed her an exhibit of something that rather suggested to her a huge metallic spider.

“That’s a replica of the lunar landing module that was used to get astronauts onto the surface of the Moon. Each one of those modules cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet none were able to be preserved. Once they landed one of these things on the Moon, it became, essentially, the launch pad, from which the part that the astronauts actually occupied took off, so the bulk of it stayed on the Moon, while only a small part blasted off to meet the larger spacecraft that was orbiting the Moon. From there, they’d head for home. We all take it for granted, now, but it was one of the most amazing achievements in human history.”

How primitive and slow-moving our era must seem to him, Jane thought. How backward I must seem to him. Can a man from a time like this build a life with someone from a time like mine?

*


From the Air and Space Museum, Michael took Jane to the Washington Monument, which, as she told Michael rather resembled pictures of Egyptian obelisks she had seen pictures of in books back in her own time.

“That’s exactly what the builders used as a model,” said Michael. “Tallest building in DC. When it was completed in 1884 it was the tallest building in the world, until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris. Course, there’re a whole lot of buildings that are much taller, nowadays.”

He paused for a moment, then continued, “Washington was admired all by people of virtually all nations. Even your King George called him ‘the greatest man in the world,’ because, like Cincinnatus, when the crisis was over, he voluntarily gave up all his power, and went back to his farm. When the building was planned, nations from all over the world donated commemorative stones to be used in the building. Even the Vatican sent one, though a group of anti-Catholic Americans stole it and destroyed it. It was replaced finally in 1982.”

“You take insults against your faith very personally, do you not?”

“My faith is very personal. An insult against it is an insult against me.”

*


From there, they went to the Lincoln Memorial, where a huge statue of the president who had led the nation through its great Civil War was erected.

“Remember when I said that God would punish the United States for allowing slavery?”

“I do.”

“Well, our Civil War was that punishment. Brother against brother. The most devastating war in our history. We fought two world wars afterwards, three if you count the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and never lost near as many as we did in our War Between the States. That was God’s judgment. On the South for having slavery, and on the North for allowing it. But President Lincoln was the man God sent to preserve us all while the war was being fought. In the end, when it was over, when the States were reunited, and the scourge of slavery ended, he was murdered. But he left us with the words that have become part or our Nation’s Scripture, his Gettysburg Address, and his Second Inaugural Address.”

Jane read them from where they were inscribed on the walls of the Memorial. They were, indeed, moving and eloquent.

*


From the Lincoln Memorial, they walked to the World War II Memorial, a massive expanse of structures commemorating the largest clash in the entire history of military conflict.

“It makes the Napoleonic Wars look like a pillow fight,” Michael said. “Eight years of continuous combat that engulfed the entire planet. Every ocean, every continent was touched. In the end, it was finally finished when we dropped two bombs of hitherto unknown destructive power, and reduced two cities to ashes. The alternative was an infantry invasion that would have cost far more lives.”

“If it was known as World War II, what was the First World War.”

“A war fought primarily in Europe, but involving nations from all over the world, between 1914 and 1918. The main adversary was Germany, just as it was in the second war. That’s part of the tragedy. It was as though the job was left unfinished. And because we couldn’t hold onto the peace we’d finally managed to attain in 1918, millions more people died.”

*


From the World War II Memorial, they walked over to the Jefferson Memorial, a fairly long walk, but a pleasant one. Jefferson, apparently, was remembered by Americans less for his Presidency, though it was a momentous one, than for his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, the adoption of which by the Second Continental Congress made the United States a nation separate and distinct from Britain.

“Is that statue a good likeness?” asked Jane.

“Yes, it is.”

“He was a very handsome man.”

“He was all that and more.”

“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,’” she read aloud from an inscription on the wall. “‘That all men are created equal. That they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights.’ Did he really believe those words?”

“I think he did. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to live up to them. He always insisted that he intended to free his slaves, but somehow never quite got around to it. He wrote an anti-slavery paragraph into the Declaration, but allowed it to be removed before adoption. He did propose measures that would end the practice gradually, but was never able to get them passed. They kicked the problem down the road for later generations to deal with. Guess they had no choice. Independence was the immediate goal. Liberty and justice for all would have to be delayed.”

*


From the Jefferson Memorial, they walked to a Metro stop and caught a train to the White House.

“We probably won’t be able to get in to tour the place. They like to have a lot of advance notice. But sometimes people cancel at the last minute, and we might be able to get in if that’s happened,” said Michael.

It turned out that no last minute cancellations had occurred.

“Oh, well. There’s something else I wanted to show you anyway.”

They walked to a checkpoint at the driveway to the Presidential Mansion, where two uniformed policemen were standing guard.

“Officers,” said Michael, “which one of the buildings across the street is Blair House?”

“It’s that yellow one between the two red brick buildings about half-way down,” said one of the officers.

“Is there a plaque or something commemorating Officer Coffelt?”

“Yeah, there sure is. It’s on the wrought-iron fence in front of the house, just to the right of the gate. You a cop?”

“Yeah. Deputy US Marshal,” said, reaching into his pocket for his star and credentials. After showing to them, he put the leather folder back in his pocket, and offered his hand.

“Mike O’Brian,” he said. “This is my fiancée, Jane Bingley, visiting from England. That is, I hope to make her my fiancée.

“Nice to know you,” said one of the officers. “I’m Tom Stover. This is Kevin Sullivan. You taking one of the tours today?”

“There weren’t any openings.”

“You come back around three o’clock. We’ll get you in.

“Oh, that’s great! Thanks.”

*


With that, Jane and Michael walked the half-block to Blair House.

He showed her the plaque that stated that Officer Leslie Coffelt had died in the line of duty preventing an attempt to assassinate President Harry S. Truman.

“Blair House is the guest house for foreign dignitaries visiting the President, but in 1950, the White House was undergoing extensive renovations, so President Truman and his family temporarily moved here. As you can see, it’s not nearly as easy to secure. Since the front of the house comes almost right up to the sidewalk. A couple of gunmen who wanted independence for Puerto Rico, which is a US territorial commonwealth in the Caribbean, attacked Blair House with guns, intending to murder President Truman, and anyone else who got in their way. Officer Coffelt killed one of them, but was shot himself in the exchange of fire, and died.”

“You seem quite intent on showing me memorials to law officers who have been killed, Michael.”

“It’s a reality you have to consider, Jane. But, on the upside, Coffelt’s the only Uniformed Secret Service officer to’ve been killed in the line of duty.”

He stepped back from the plaque and said, “Let’s get something to eat. After all that walking you must be hungry. I know I am. And we could use a nice comfortable place to sit down for a bit.”

*


Promptly at three o’clock Jane and Michael were back at the public entrance to the Presidential Mansion. Michael asked if there was a place he could safely store his pistol, and was directed to a special weapons locker.

From there, they went to the Visitors’ Center, where they were added to a group that had already been formed.

The tour group was led up to parlor, where each of the official tours started. Some of the guides were pages, administrative assistant, and interns employed at the White House. Others were uniformed Secret Service officers, commonly referred to as “White House Police,” though that hadn’t been their official title since 1977, when they were designated the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service.

A tall, rugged-looking man, about Michael’s age, in the mono-colored (the color was dark gray, in this case) jacket and trousers ensemble that Michael had told her was called a “business suit,” was standing at an entryway. Michael looked at him, and the gentleman in the business suit looked back.

“Ed?” said Michael.

“Mike?” said the gentleman. “Is that you?”

“Sure is! What’s it been? Five years?” said Michael, enthusiastically shaking hands with the man he had addressed as “Ed.”

“Six and a few months,” said that man.

“You’re on the White House Detail, I see.”

“Yeah. Three years now. Due for a rotation back into the field pretty soon. Protection duty can be interesting, but my heart’s in investigation.”

“Jane, this is Edmund Riley. He’s a special agent in the US Secret Service. We were in the same basic training class for Federal Criminal Investigators down in Georgia years ago. He was the Honor Graduate. Got the highest academic scores in the class.”

“Yeah, but Mike here was the Distinguished Graduate. I only beat him academically by a few percentage points. But he got scores of ninety-five per cent or better in all three fields, academic, firearms, and physical agility. Most FLETC classes don’t even have a Distinguished Graduate. And he was at the top of the class in marksmanship. Got the Top Gun award, too.”

“Ed, this is Jane Bingley. She’s the lady I’m trying to persuade to marry me.”

“A pleasure, Miss Bingley.”

By force of habit, Jane made a little curtsey, and took Mr. Riley’s hand. “A pleasure for me as well, Mr. Riley. And it’s ‘Mrs.’ I am a widow. Can either of you tell me what ‘Flett-See’ means?”

“It’s the initials ‘F,’ ‘L,’ ‘E,’ ‘T,’ and ‘C,’ pronounced as a word,” said Michael. “Stands for ‘Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.’”

“You’re a widow, Mrs. Bingley? Did you meet in, y’know, a group?”

“Nothing like that, Ed,” said Mike. “Just met in the line of duty.”

“Mike, I was sorry to hear about Cesca. I only met her that one time at the Graduation Ceremony. But I could tell she was really special.”

“She was all that and more. I appreciated the Mass card you sent.”

Mr. Riley nodded, and, seeming anxious to change the subject said, “You’re on a tour?”

“Yeah. Couple of your uniformed guys got us in at the last minute.”

“You got anything planned afterwards?”

“No, nothing specific.”

“I’ll be going off-duty just about the time your tour is due to end. Meet me at the driveway, and I’ll give you a private tour.”

“That’d be great! Thanks.”

A few minutes later their tour started, and they were quickly led through all the parts of the White House generally accessible for tours, the ballrooms, the portrait galleries, the library, the dining rooms, etc. Jane was fascinated at how much history the United States had piled up in such a comparatively short time. In her own era, the US was still a very young nation, barely four decades old. It was not that much older now, as the ages of nations are reckoned. Yet it wielded more might than had the British Empire at its height. And, oddly, it had reached that point without becoming a colonial or Imperial power. New territories acquired either were admitted to the Federal Union as full-fledged states, or were eventually granted independence.

Amazing!

*


Mr. Riley met them at the at the end of their tour, and led them to areas not normally seen by members of the public. He showed them to the basement, where the scorch marks on the stone walls were still visible, from the time that British soldiers had set fire to the residence during what the Americans called the War of 1812.

“We see that war very differently than you do,” said Michael. “For us, it confirmed our independence, and our status as a military power. For you, it was an unwanted distraction from the existential war you were fighting against Napoleon.”

Mr. Riley then took them to a private gallery where special paintings, the work of a famed American artist named Normal Rockwell, were hung. Rockwell had painted these works especially at the request of the White House.

The climax of Mr. Riley’s private tour was the outer office leading to the President’s personal workspace, which was known as the Oval Office.

“I can’t take you into his office,” said Mr. Riley, “but as long as the door’s open, and he’s not in it, you can go all the way up to the entrance. As long as your feet don’t cross the threshold, you can lean your heads in.

Jane did just that. She was surprised that the personal office of such a powerful man was so small. She’d seen the personal studies of estate owners back in England that were much bigger. Yet this office, occupied by a man reckoned to be the most powerful in the entire world, was relatively modest.

In many ways, that was the most amazing thing of all.

*


When Mr. Riley’s personal tour was completed, he showed them out. Michael thanked him profusely and invited Mr. Riley to have dinner with them, but Mr. Riley politely declined. They shook hands, and promised to stay in touch.

An hour or so later they were back at the condo, where Ada was preparing another casual dinner. Hot sandwiches with ground beef and melted cheddar that she called “cheeseburgers.”

“Are we to eat to another moving picture play, Michael?”

“Got two of ‘em for you tonight. Remember that series of plays I mentioned about the US Marshal and the woman everyone called ‘Miss Kitty?’”

“Yes.”

“Those plays were collectively titled Gunsmoke. It was what was called a ‘television series.’ A program, usually broadcast on television every week, in which each installment was usually a self-contained story about the same characters. The first thing we’ll watch is an episode of Gunsmoke. Second is a regular theatrical movie, a type called a ‘musical comedy.’ It’s titled Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

“Is there a special reason you wish for me to see this ‘musical comedy?’”

“Mostly because the leading lady is very petite and has delicately beautiful features, a beautiful soprano singing voice, and blonde hair, though golden blonde not strawberry blonde like you. She kinda reminds me of you. And the leading man’s a big, strapping fella with a mustache. Jane Powell’s the girl. Howard Keel’s the guy. You might find both shows interesting for historical reasons.”

“What do you mean?”

Gunsmoke was what we call a western. A story set west of the Mississippi River sometime between the end of the American Civil War and the beginning of the 20th Century, when the western frontier states and territories were being settled. Most of them are set roughly in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Seven Brides is set earlier, in the 1850’s. So they’re both set in your future but my past. And it’s a past that kind of defined the United States. Americans, at least subconsciously, still tend to see themselves as frontiersman, settling wild territory. My own agency, the US Marshals Service, is particularly identified with the post-Civil War frontier era.”

Once she got used to the eras being depicted, Jane found she thoroughly enjoyed both films. The Gunsmoke episode, “Hack Prine,” was rather grim. The story involved the hero, Marshal Dillon, meeting an old friend, the titular Prine, who had become a hired gunman while Dillon had become a law officer. The interplay between the Marshal and the vaguely scandalous, yet still strangely admirable “Miss Kitty” was quite amusing. The short film ended with what Michael called a “shootout” in which Prine drew his pistol, intending to shoot Dillon, but Dillon proved “faster on the draw.”

Seven Brides for Seven Brother was truly delightful. Filled with song and dance, it was a humorous story of seven handsome brothers, all with Biblical names, seeking wives in a sparsely populated frontier region, and deciding to follow the example of the ancient Romans who, according to legend, similarly finding themselves short of women, abducted some from the neighboring Sabines. Jane was not comfortable with such a subject being made into a humorous tale, but could not help being caught up in the story. She was also please to see how well the tiny Jane Powell, as Milly, and the towering Howard Keel, as Adam, seemed to fit together.

“And where shall we go tomorrow, Michael,” she asked, when the second film ended.

“Tomorrow,” said Michael, “we take this show on the road.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (20th Installment)

Jim D.September 22, 2018 09:46PM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (20th Installment)

EmelynSeptember 23, 2018 11:53PM

Re: The Predator, the Prey, and the Protector (20th Installment)

Shannon KSeptember 23, 2018 01:41PM



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