Nobody around here has barbecues on the Fourth of July or if they do we don't know them, so the Great Day never seems quite right, but we eagerly accepted an invitation out near Leesburg for a Fourth in the country.

The host had lots of kids who had plenty of friends and were the age (males younger than 17) you could still get some work out of, such as picking a washtub full of raspberries.

They have two or three old log cabins strung together in an arrangement that probably cost no more than 800,000 bucks and there are terraces of grass and flowers down to a farm lake and they always have good company there and the day went swimmingly.

Excitement mounted at dark when the lights were turned off because the record player amplified system needed all the juice. They turned on Handel's "Fireworks Music" at a pitch heard all the way to Purcellville and everyone felt very refined indeed, since nobody was bombed though some of the guests were a trifle oiled. Ducks had settled on the lake and the host was proud because they had once left when severely frightened--I believe some mastiffs swam out and ate a few--but all was now well.

The wonderful thing was the fireworks, set up on the far side of the lake, and all the boys had rehearsed the firing order for days before this night so it was with stupendous pleasure that everybody settled on the terraces to await the show. At the magical moment it started, it became clear the angle of some of the fireworks had been miscalculated a trifle. A number of rockets headed for the ducks who took off (though they had been asleep) and have not been seen since. A woman who had gone to the lavatory upstairs, just before the lights went out to allow lots of juice for the music, was lost for 40 minutes in the dark, unable to find the stairway or indeed anything else, and somewhat frightened by the fantastic volume of the music, which was meant to be heard on the terrace, not inside, and which she had no idea was Handel but believed to be an explosion, a view reinforced by reflections on the walls from the rockets.

It was a lovely evening.