Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Le Train À Grande Vitesse

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Le Train À Grande Vitesse

Article excerpt

. . . we are passengers on the train of the Church... the luxury of getting on and off the train as we please is fading. The speed of the train is increasing. The woods are getting much too dangerous, and the fog and darkness are moving in. -Glenn L. Pace

I

Where the hell was Kitty?

Elder and Sister Robinson were standing on a platform at the Geneva, Switzerland train station with their luggage, waiting for Kitty to arrive and accompany them to Paris on their way home to the United States. The train was leaving in ten minutes, and Kitty was nowhere in sight. Elder Robinson could feel his exasperation-and probably his blood pressure-rising. It was another of those awful moments in Europe he tried to avoid. But he knew he should have expected it, knowing Kitty. The girl was impossible. Where was she?

He knew his companion was also concerned, but only about Kitty. Something had gone wrong because, as he often pointed out, things always went wrong with Kitty. His wife, he knew, didn't care a fig about going to Paris. She was interested only in people, especially people who needed help, like Kitty, the most difficult Church member they'd worked with during their mission. They were going to Paris simply because Sister Robinson thought he wanted-no, needed-to go to Paris because he'd never been there, and because he was a former college professor and a poet, and that's what she thought such people did. Attending to people's needs was what she did, and she did it well.

Elder Robinson knew that getting him to Paris was his wife's way of rewarding him for eighteen "beardless" months of sacrificial service, mostly on her behalf. For her "stuck-in-the-sixties" former "Jack Mormon" husband, it hadn't been easy.

Fidgeting beside her, he also knew she'd be saying a silent prayer for them all, especially Kitty. He was anxious to get on the train; but he'd heard-and believed-so many horror stories about rude waiters, the confusing Metro, tourist jams at the Louvre, high prices, that he'd refused to go to Paris without a guide. Kitty had volunteered, and his wife had accepted, in spite of his misgivings.

Kitty was Chinese, but she was qualified. She spoke fluent French (she'd had a disastrous marriage to a Frenchman). She'd been to Paris several times, and for the most part Sister Robinson could manage her. So Elder R. let himself be persuaded. Besides, Kitty knew where the budget hotels were and made their reservations. But now, standing in befuddlement, all of his initial fears, which were legion, returned, amplified. Something had to be done, and fast. They had airline reservations from Charles de Gaulle to Salt Lake City in three days. If his companion was praying hard, he was worrying even harder.

The TGV, le train a grande vitesse, the high-speed train to Paris, stretched in front of them, left and right, and, having no experience with European trains-they'd driven a VW during their mission-the Robinsons didn't know where to board. Elder R. was clutching three second-class tickets for Voiture 17, but they were opposite car 1430. And he pointed out that if they took off in the wrong direction they could be in big trouble. Sister R. replied that she was prepared to board the car directly in front of them and let the train-people sort things out, and she added that she wouldn't board at all if the Spirit told her Kitty needed help.

"Why don't you ask somebody?" Sister Robinson said-what she always said in situations like this because she didn't speak French. Elder R. did speak French, but poorly.

There were a few people nearby. It was a weekday afternoon. Travel was light. But to Elder Robinson they all looked unapproachable. Asking, even in his hesitant French, was a simple thing, but it was always agony. He'd freeze. If only Kitty would come bounding up the stairs and put an end to this!

"What did she say when you called her?" he asked his wife.

"She said she was about to leave," Sister Robinson said, re-dialing. …

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