A Following

A little girl walks behind her brother on the way to school.

As they pass a huge red house a little girl dressed beautifully in blue starched bows appears from behind a bush and joins her, falling in step behind him.

From a yellow brick house down the driveway comes running another tot, whose elegant dress is as gray as the clouds that overhang the luminous country this morning.

Down the block they are joined by two more girls, each popping out from behind a fence or tree after he had passed, and as he does not glance back at his sister once, each of them is, by him, unseen.

Now another jumps out and joins them.

They are each seven years old. He is eleven.

He takes from his pocket a ball, and begins to bounce it as he walks.

They each do the same.

They are quiet as mice. Each bounces a ball, each walks like he walks.

For no reason he leaps, as if leaping over a stream.

The six little girls do the same.

By them, unseen, but playing their game, behind them all comes another, a foreigner, a fifty-year-old bouncing a tennis ball, whose face is as gray as the tennis ball, to whom the day is not luminous, but flat, dreary, dank and dark, who sees in their homes naught but vulgar opulence, who has seen war, famine and the horror in the camps, who is sought even now by Israeli secret police, who limps slightly-Oh! if that story were told.

Now like the leader, for no reason, he leaps.

It is the eccentric, new truant officer.