Page:Of Withered Apples.djvu/8

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28

had fallen behind them. The houses had thinned out. Their footsteps rang out against the pavement as they walked along.

"We're almost there," Steve said.

They came to a rise. Beyond the rise was a heavy brass fence, running the length of a small field. A green field, neat and even. With carefully placed plaques of white marble criss-crossing it.

"Here we are," Steve said tightly.

"They keep it nice."

"Can we get in from this side?"

"We can try." Ed started along the brass fence, looking for a gate.

Suddenly Steve halted, grunting. He stared across the field, his face white. "Look."

"What is it?" Ed took off his glasses to see. "What you looking at?"

"I was right." Steve's voice was low and indistinct. "I thought there was something. Last time we were here. . . . I saw. . . . You see it?"

"I'm not sure. I see the tree, if that's what you mean."

In the center of the neat green field the lime apple tree rose proudly. Its bright leaves sparkled in the warm sunlight. The young tree was strong and very healthy. It swayed confidently with the wind, its supple trunk moist with sweet spring sap.

"They're red," Steve said softly. "They're already red. How the hell can they be red? It's only April. How the hell can they be red so soon?"

"I don't know," Ed said. "I don't know anything about apples. A strange chill moved through him. But graveyards always made him uncomfortable. "Maybe we ought to go."

"Her cheeks were that color," Steve said, his voice low. "When she had been running. Remember?"

The two men gazed uneasily at the little apple tree, its shiny red fruit glistening in the spring sunlight, branches moving gently with the wind.

"I remember, all right," Ed said grimly. "Come on." He took his son's arm insistently, the wreath of flowers forgotten. "Come on, Steve. Let's get out of here."