Though the “English College” was technically in France, at Douai, the students there were all English, Irish, and Welsh. Not popular with the neighboring community, Edmund and his companions kept mostly hidden, immersing themselves in their studies as few ever had before. Before long, his courses took him on a virtual tour of Europe: Rome, Brünn, Geneva, Milan, and finally Prague where he finished his schooling. His résumé was filled with honors and degrees and proofs of excellence. It was time for him to go home.
It had been a decade.
A friend met him in London and found him a place to stay. He’d move around a lot after that and it was often hard to track him down. He did a bit of writing and performed some of the small expected functions taken on after his years of study. But as lettered as Edmund was, there was still one more paper he waited for.
He got it on November 20, 1581 at Westminster Hall. That paper read, “Campion, Seditious Jesuit.” The guilty verdict was pronounced, for the treasonous crime of being a priest, and Edmund Campion thanked God. His last graduation ceremony came eleven days later by hanging, drawing, and quartering.
“Is that what I think it is?” Lawrence asked.
“I daresay we’ve enacted a coup, Mr. Langner,” Theresa answered in a mock secretive whisper.
“They’ve signed?” he yelled back, raising his hands into the air and letting the binder fall. “But how? They could command a ransom and the best we offered was a third of what they normally take!”
“Well, first off,” Theresa replied seriously, “they truly believe in the importance of what we’re trying to accomplish in releasing these non-commercial works to the public. Also, there are two additional clauses...”
“The first one says they don’t work summers.”
“Okay. And the other?”
900 miles west of Broadway, in an undeveloped and verdant area of Wisconsin, Lynn waved a crisp white paper in the air as Alfred approached.
“Is that what I think it is?” he asked, smiling.
“Telegram for Mr. Lunt! Shall I read it? The Theater Guild... etcetera ...promising scripts, controversial topics... ah, here it is: No appearances during the summer months... aaand... never to appear in separate plays but to always be cast together!”
“Never apart, then?”
They took their contract as binding as they took their marriage, which lasted 55 years. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the most revered acting team of American theater, spent every breathing minute together: on stage, radio, film, television, and at their Ten Chimneys estate; in love with acting and abundantly more so with each other. When Anastasia aired on March 17, 1967, it was the first time in 39 years that Lynn appeared publicly without her retired husband at her side.
The beatings that she took from her parents when they caught her learning to read and write were meant to educate her.
“Read! Write!” they yelled in Polish, as they burned a book they found hidden in her chest, for there were indeed no words in Romani for those foreign concepts.
Still, secretly, she did learn to read and to write and those foreign skills only served to give her a deeper identity with her people. She wrote poems of lament and struggle that spoke for Gypsies like none before. Her husband accompanied her on the harp as she sang songs of nostos, a return to a home that never existed.
Her special talents made her believe that it really was possible to live in both worlds, the Rom and the Gadjo, as she attracted more and more notoriety through her song.
But she was wrong.
As her kumpania had warned her, she was betrayed and her own writings were twisted and used against her people as rationale for forced resettlement during Socialist Poland’s Great Halt to “the Gypsy problem.”
Bronisława Wajs spent eight months in a mental institution recovering from her ensuing erasure from Gypsy society. The mention of her name forbidden, the next generation of gypsy children grew up having never heard of their greatest voice. She lived a hermit life until her death on February 8, 1987.
She didn’t hear her daughter at first, her attention wrapped in a cloak of disappointment at the possibility of another opportunity missed.
“Mama?” the child asked, a little louder, a little sadder.
Gina turned away from the file of sleepy-eyed parents that was still steadily growing. It was to be a long walk home on their fourth failed attempt. But when she looked down at her arm, the child was gone. She wheeled around to see her standing at the end of the line. On her face was a pleading expression.
“Oh, mama,” she whispered tearfully, “We must try! I’m the only one who doesn’t have one yet... and it helps me to learn about other cultures too...”
Her heart sank as she beheld her poor child, how could she say no again? Bending down, she framed the girl’s face and forced a smile.
“Lucky for us, I have a few sardines wrapped up in my bag. Today, we will stand in this line as long as it takes to buy one!”
An elderly man standing nearby slowly turned towards the now happy and hopeful mother and child.
“Pardon me for overhearing, but this line isn’t to buy, they’ve already sold out. It’s for a lottery ticket for a chance to buy when the next delivery arrives.”
As the revelation sunk in, a teenage girl peddled lithely by on a bicycle, a little black golliwog clinging to her handlebars.
“Dakkochan!” the child screamed.