Isaiah unrolls the letter and puts it on the desk in front of the Rav. "My pen," the Rav says.
Isaiah opens a desk drawer and takes a pen out of its case. It is a black pen, glossy black trimmed with gold, but not, Elizabeth notices, a fountain pen like those on top of the desk. This is a fancy Waterman ballpoint.
The Rav puts on reading glasses and reads the letter. The paper quivers in his hands. With trembling fingers the Rav puts down the letter and signs his name. He writes firmly, almost too firmly, so that his signature is crabbed with his efforts to control it. Then he pushes the paper toward them. "That is all," he says.
They stand there a moment looking at him. "Thank you," Isaac says. "Thank you for seeing us."
The Rav doesn't answer; he just nods to Isaiah to see them out.
Isaiah opens the door for them. Only as they are walking out the door does the Rav's voice drift after them. "Isaac Shulman." Startled, Isaac and Elizabeth turn to where the Rav sits at the leather covered desk with his books all around him. The Rav is smiling faintly, almost imperceptibly. "Isaac Shulman."
"Yes," says Isaac from the doorway.
"I remember your father."
Excerpted from Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman. Copyright © 1998 by Allegra Goodman. Excerpted by permission of The Dial Press, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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