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By Leon Uris
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Leon Uris
All right reserved.
The roof of the cold, gray, barnlike Pennsylvania Terminal in Baltimore hovered high over the scurrying travelers and the small whispering groups about Gate Three. In clusters of two, three, four and more they stood around sternfaced youths as the moments ticked away. Here a wife and child, there a half dozen pals shouted encouragement. In a corner an aged mother and father and a group of relatives whispered to a sullen lad.
There were many young girls, some weeping, all fighting back tears as they stood by their husbands, their lovers, their boy friends. The almost buzzing sound of their farewell bounced and echoed off the walls of the ancient terminal.
Danny Forrester zipped up his green and silver jacket with the block letter F and shifted his weight nervously from one foot to the other. Grouped about him were his father; his young brother, Bud; and his best friend, Virgil; and Virgil's girl, Sally.
"Hey, lady, my brother is a Marine," little Bud Forrester shouted to a passer-by.
"Be quiet, Bud," Mr. Forrester demanded.
Kathleen Walker stood at Danny's side. Their hands were clasped tightly. He felt the cold sweat of her palms as a sergeant in dress blues made his way through the throngs, walked to the gate, and began to check a roster sheet.
"I'm sorry about Mother. I'm sorry she didn't want to come."
"She'll be all right, son."
"Gee, Danny," Virgil said. "I wish I was going with you."
"No, you don't," Sally answered.
"I called up Coach Grimes. He was sort of angry you didn't say good-by."
"Heck, Virg, he'd probably've brought the whole team and student body down. I . . . I didn't want that. I'll write and explain to him."
"You've got the sandwiches and cake I packed?" Sally asked.
"Right on top. Thanks, Sally."
Henry Forrester reached in his wallet and took out a tendollar bill. "Here, son."
"I've got twenty already, Dad. That's more than enough." "Well, you'd better take it anyhow. Never can tell, little emergency might come up."
"Any idea about what's cooking?" Virgil asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine. I've heard a million stories today. They say the Base is nice. We'll be in isolation for a couple weeks at San Diego. Boot camp, they call it." "Sure sounds like fun."
"You'll write us, when you can?"
"Hey, Danny, I want a Jap sword. Get a Jap for me, Danny, huh?"
"I don't suppose I'll see any Japs for a while, Bud. I want you to be a good guy and do what Dad tells you--and write to me."
A loud cry cut through the station. A soothing arm went around a mother's shoulder. A long awkward period of silence followed. Danny and Kathy looked at each other sheepishly from the corners of their eyes.
"Maybe you'd like to talk to Kathy alone for a minute," Mr. Forrester said.
Danny led her to a deserted bench, but neither sat down. She lowered her head as he spoke softly.
"You don't want to change your mind, do you, kitten? I would understand if you did."
"No . . . no."
"Kiss me, Danny."
They held each other until the public address system rudely shocked them back to earth.
"Attention all Marine enlistees. Report to platform Gate Three at once."
A mutter of relief was heard and one by one the fifty boys and their parties wended their way through the gate and down the long stairs to the snorting, hissing string of cars below. Virgil picked up Danny's overnight bag and Danny, with one arm about Kathy and the other about Bud, shuffled slowly along amid the crowd.
"All right," the sergeant barked. "Fall in."
For the tenth time he droned through the list: "Tatum . . . Soffolus . . . O'Neill . . . Greenberg . . . Weber . . . Forrester . . . Burke . . . Burke, Thomas K . . . answer up."
"All right, pay attention. Soffolus will take the roster and be in charge of this detail. You people board the first car and stay together. There will be no defacing or drinking or boisterousness, or Military Police will be put aboard. Fall out-- you have three minutes left."
They broke the shoddy formation and rushed to the crowd arched about them.
Excerpted from Battle Cry by Leon Uris Copyright © 2005 by Leon Uris. Excerpted by permission.
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