Sue Barton, Staff Nurse

That Friday seemed like every other July day and not at all like an end to anything. Great puffs of white cloud drifted innocently across the hazy summit of Mt. Washington, the afternoon was drowsy with the song of insects and the smell of pines. A breeze, fresh and clean from the wooded slopes of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, brought a pleasant touch of coolness. It was a day to enjoy and there was no hint of trouble in it.

Sue paused halfway up the back-porch steps and turned, a slender figure in white slacks and green blouse. Her copper-red hair was brushed softly back from a vivid face which refused to tan regardless of sun and wind, and her brown eyes were quiet with contentment. She smiled, half in tenderness, half in amusement, as she looked back.

Her five-year-old twins, Johnny and Jerry, with Maxl the dachshund, were entangled in a wriggling heap on the lawn. Her daughter Tabitha, aged seven, was swinging under the big maple, dark pigtails flying as she swooped. From the tool shed came a bass rumble slightly off key — the voice of Sue’s husband, Dr. William Barry, humming Old Man River while he collected his fishing kit. Indoors and somewhat muffled by distance Sue heard a gurgle followed by a prolonged squeak and she laughed. The baby was awake.

The late afternoon sunlight spilled down through the maples, touching into brilliance the red heads of the tumbling little boys, and dappling Tabitha’s happy face.