EXTRACTS FROM "THE GREEN BELT" - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 START CHAPTER XX
CHAPTER I - page 7
Denman stood up and walked toward the bookcase, which was flanked by paintings of exotic tribal women.
Davis was deep in an agreeable conversation with Mrs. Denman, the two of them accentuating their talk with hearty laughter.
From the bookcase, the Minister resumed his discussion by informing me that because of the close surveillance by the Vietnamese government in 1964, representatives of the Thuong when arriving in Saigon had not been given access to the American Embassy, and that upon their desperate entreaty, he had introduced them to a colleague of his, a Professor Milton Ross who was then teaching at University of Hue. Apparently, the letter had subsequently been handed to the Ambassador by the President of Michigan State University. I was surprised to learn of Professor Dr. Ross’ involvement in this event.
Quite engrossed in his conversation with Mrs. Denman, Davis seemed to pay no attention to what was being revealed by Denman.
The Minister returned and gave me a hardcover folder holding typewritten sheets of paper. I had not at all hoped to have in hand such valuable documents, and when an opportunity like this unexpectedly came along, I knew I had to mobilize my mind to register the content and retain as much as possible. I chose to read the French version of the letter very quickly and attempted to mentally summarize the details. Long lines were laden with doleful complaints. It felt miserable knowing more clearly their nature.
I sensed my emotional responses were being duly noted. Looking up, I caught a very peculiar expression on Denman’s face. His watchful eyes were full of questions. I read the documents through to the last line, each word a needle pricking into my brain.
“I am sure you can see what a difficult position the Americans find themselves in,” said Denman.
I returned the letter to him after having assured myself that I had memorized enough to substantially record it with the typewriter that evening.
Davis and I stayed on through the afternoon, then had dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Denman. It was a holiday and Mrs. Denman treated us to different types of canned meat. We also drank alcohol - not the type of spirits held in a jar and drunk through a long tube by some tribal groups - but very strong whiskey. Everything was uncomplicated and the atmosphere warm.
I looked at the image in Gauguin’s “Christ Jaune” (Yellow Christ), a reproduction of which was hung on the wall, and suddenly noted that I had never before been moved like this when viewing paintings. Detached from the anger and ambitions of exhausting struggles, I was suddenly my sentimental self again. It seemed as if I had never seen myself more truly a painter than I did at this moment.
Even though I was a little drunk in retiring
near midnight to the room I had been given, I was inspired as never
before. I sat at my typewriter and managed to record an abridged version
of the letter
about a third of the original
together with observations worthy of attention made during the evening’s
discussion with Dr. Denman.