The Merry Month of May

The Merry Month of May by James Jones Page A

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Authors: James Jones
Tags: Fiction, Literary, Art, Typography
next evening, Sunday the 5th, just at dusk. This time he came alone, all by himself.
    There had been very little happening, as far as I could tell, during the day. The French, even young French Revolutionaries, take their Sundays pretty seriously. M. Alain Peyrefitte, the young Minister of Education, had put out some rather threatening communiqués saying substantially that the small groups of dissidents causing the trouble would be dealt with summarily by the college authorities if they did not desist. But if these were meant to quell the student troubles, they were apparently having just the opposite effect.
    But Hill, and his friends too he said, were more concerned with what had happened Saturday night and Sunday morning at the Palais de Justice, that huge and frightening grinding mill of bureaucracy situated like some great pile at the other end of the Île de la Cité. The judge on duty for the weekend, one M. Isambert, had been lenient on Saturday. In the end only a few, six to be exact, of those arrested actually came before the judge, and he let them all off with small suspended sentences and light fines. But today on Sunday at eleven A.M., Hill told me, Judge Isambert had sentenced four students to two months in jail. Maybe his breakfast was burned. More likely it was on Government orders. This was going to play a big part in the coming demonstration tomorrow, Hill said. Before anything else, their comrades must be freed.
    In spite of my little fight with Anne-Marie, they apparently had taken me in and accepted me as one of them, Hill told me, or at least as one sympathetic to their cause, in front of whom they could talk freely. Of course, Hill had introduced me to them all as an editor of an American review who very likely would write something in my Review to aid their cause.
    But all of this was not really why he had come. After he helped himself to a Scotch and soda at my little bar, he brought up Harry. “Did you talk to dad?”
    I nodded.
    “Well, what happened?”
    “Well, as you probably suspected—or at least as I suspected—he was hurt that you didn’t come to him.”
    “Well, what did he say?”
    “He said in effect that if you should need anything, like money or help or legal help or whatever, all you had to do was let him know or come and ask him for it.”
    Hill frowned and made an irritable gesture.
    I waved him down and continued. “Or that, if you didn’t want to do that, you could use me as go-between and convey any messages or requests to him through me. If you didn’t feel like coming home and asking him for it yourself.”
    Hill was suddenly and absolutely outraged. “God damn him! God damn him! Both of them! Wouldn’t you know he’d pull some cheap trick like that? I knew he’d pull something like that! Doesn’t he know, don’t they both know, that I don’t need anything they’ve got to give me? Don’t want anything they’ve got to give me? They just can’t keep from trying to get into the act, can they? Cheap hypocritical liberal bastards!”
    I was completely taken off balance. I just gaped at him. I didn’t see anything at all wrong with what Harry had said.
    And as if aware of me suddenly, Hill got a hold on himself. He drew a deep breath in through his clenched teeth, clenched his fists tightly against his flanks at the ends of his long arms, and shut his eyes. He exhaled through his nose.
    At the time I thought it was a bit theatrical, but later I wondered. Because Hill had a hard time reestablishing himself in the high mood he had come in with. He flung himself down, with a gesture curiously like his father, in one of my armchairs; and there he brooded. Talking to him was about as worthwhile as talking to a stone post. When he finally left he was himself again but it seemed to me it had cost him a considerable effort. As he started to get up out of the chair, he looked at my windows and said wistfully, “It sure is nice here!” He turned back to me at the

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