The City of Fire (Chapter 3, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 3

The bells of the little stone church were playing tender melodies as he
shot briskly down the maple lined street at a break neck pace, and the
sun was just hovering on the rim of the mountain. The bells often
played at sunset, especially Saturday evenings, when Marilyn Severn was
at home, and the village loved to hear them. Billy wouldn't have owned
it, but he loved to hear those bells play better than anything else in
his young life, and he generally managed to be around when they were
being played. He loved to watch the slim young fingers manipulating the
glad sounds. A genius who had come to the quiet hill village to die of
an incurable disease had trained her and had left the wonderful little
pipe organ with its fine chime of bells attached as his memorial to the
peace the village had given him in his last days. Something of his
skill and yearning had fallen upon the young girl whom he had taught.
Billy always felt as if an angel had come and was ringing the bells of
heaven when Marilyn sat at the organ playing the bells.

This night a ray of the setting sun slanting through the memorial
window on her bronze gold hair gave her the look of Saint Cecilia
sitting there in the dimness of the church. Billy sidled into a back
seat still chewing and watched her. He could almost see a halo in
yellow gold sun dust circling above her hair. Then a sudden revulsion
came with the thought of "that guy Judas" and the possibility that he
and the old fellow had much in common. But Bah! He would go to the
mountain just to prove to himself that there was nothing crooked in it.

The music was tender that night and Billy felt a strange constriction
in his throat. But you never would have guessed, as Lynn Severn turned
at the end of her melody to search the dimness for the presence she
felt had entered, that he had been under any stress of emotion, the way
he grinned at her and sidled up the aisle.

"Yeah, we won awright," in answer to her question, "Red Rodge and
Sloppy had 'em beat from the start. Those other guys can't play ball
anyway."

Then quite casually he brought forth the dollar from his breast pocket.

"Fer the Chinese Fund," he stated indifferently.

The look in her face was beautiful to see, almost as if there were
tears behind the sapphire lights in her eyes.

"Billy! All this?"

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