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Sam sat throughout the inquest listening but preoccupied with a basic truth that was becoming clearer to him. They would not find the murderer, and there would be no way to avenge, to punish, to cry out that little Helen Cook had every right to live. Her world had been contemptuous of her, had discarded her, and in so doing had delivered the final insult. To have witnessed all this was terrible enough, but to merely mourn, to omit any retaliatory act on her behalf was, in effect, to acquiesce. He could not. Suddenly, he stood, turned from Kate, and began to leave. The proceedings stopped as if on signal. Those in the room stared, but Sam had no sense of or indeed any interest in his impact on them. It was as if he had simply stated to the entire assembly, Ive had enough of this awful nonsense. I will do honor to my grandchild in the only way that means anything: I will hunt down the killer and destroy him. The patrolman stationed at the entrance bowed his head slightly as he held open the door. Sam walked through, gripping his left arm at the biceps.
Kate caught up with him, and both sat in the station wagon hardly moving. She asked, Do you feel all right, Sam? She scanned his face shocked by a purity of hate that even she, after thirty-five years, had never seen.