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In California, as last week began, it seemed that they had opted to raise him up. The last day of primary campaigning went well. While the voters in California and South Dakota were revivifying his candidacy, Kennedy renewed his morale by romping on the beach at Malibu with Ethel and six of their children. He had to rescue David, 12, from a strong undertow—but what Kennedy day was complete without a little danger?

Characteristic Mixture. Then it was on to the Ambassador Hotel, near downtown Los Angeles, to wait out the vote count. Already high spirits rose with the favorable totals. In South Dakota, he won 50% of the vote, v. 30% for a slate favorable to Native Son Hubert Humphrey and 20% for Eugene McCarthy; then, in the far more crucial California contest, it was 46% for Kennedy, 42% for McCarthy and 12% for an uncommitted delegate group. The two victories gave Kennedy 198 precious delegate votes. Plans were being made for the campaign's next stages in New York and other key states, but first, that night, there were some formalities and fun to attend to: the midnight appearance before loyal campaign workers (and a national television audience) in the hotel's Embassy Room, a quiet chat with reporters, then a large, private celebration at a fashionable nightspot, The Factory.

The winner greeted his supporters with a characteristic mixture of serious talk and cracks about everything from his dog Freckles to his old antagonist, Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty. Among Kennedy's last words from the rostrum: "I think we can end the divisions within the United States, the violence."

The next stop was to be the press room. For once, Kennedy did not plunge through the crush to reach the Embassy Room's main door. Bill Barry, his bodyguard, wanted to go that way despite the crowd; he did not like the idea of using a back passageway. Said R.F.K.: "It's all right." So they went directly behind the speaker's platform through a gold curtain toward a serving kitchen (see diagram) that led to the press room. The Senator walked amid a clutch of aides, hotel employees and newsmen, with Ethel a few yards behind. This route took him through a swinging door and into the hot, malodorous, corridorlike chamber that was to be his place of execution.

On his left were stainless-steel warming counters, on his right a large ice-making machine. Taped on one wall was a hand-lettered sign: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. At the far end of the ice-making machine stood a man with a gun. Later, a witness was to say that the young man had been there for some time, asking if Senator Kennedy would come that way. It was no trick getting in; there was no serious attempt at security screening by either the hotel or the Kennedy staff.

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