The soldier took his time looking me over. Thinking back now,I realize he was no more than eighteen or nineteen years old—ababy—and from God knows where. What had he thought of us thosemany years ago, that fresh-faced boy from Montana or Wyoming orOhio, someplace where people speak flatly and without inflection?He was probably just as bewildered as I was, thrust into a strangeand foreign land that existed within the borders of his own country.He discharged the duty of his pointless inspection, then straight-ened, and abruptly left to confer with his colleagues.The train, now stopped, sounded its whistle twice, and at that,all of the window shades opened at the same time. Startled, I sat upstraight, craning to look. I’d never before seen either a German ora prisoner, and I was anxious to see both at once. Emboldened by the safety of our car, I hoped secretly that some ragged and dis-graced enemy of freedom might make a mad dash to escape, just soI would see how fast the dogs could run.A face appeared in the train window opposite my car door, closeenough almost to touch. But it wasn’t a German soldier. It was only a child, younger even than I. In that brief moment that it took meto realize that she looked Chinese, the windows filled with whatappeared to be Chinese families, mothers, fathers, and children,packed tightly into the train, tired and worried, all fighting for thechance to look out the window at our Buick and our house and ourlittle town.And me.They looked without speaking, wide-eyed, at the tall grass grow-ing alongside the track and the sign that sprouted from it thatannounced their destination: “Rook, pop. 86.”Mother’s hands slipped from the wheel. Her eyes narrowed andher mouth assumed the position of words, but none came.The soldier had returned and was talking to her through theopen window.“Ma’am?” he repeated.