Ɖ Sistrz, bî Jemz Jôs

Ɖ

r wz no hop fr him ɖs tîm: it wz ɖ ʈrd stroc. Nît aftr nît I hd pást ɖ hǎs (it wz vceśntîm) n studid ɖ lîtd sqer v windo: n nît aftr nît I hd faund it lîtd in ɖ sem we, fentli n īvnli. F h wz ded, I ʈt, I wd si ɖ rflex́n v candlz on ɖ darcnd blînd fr I ń ɖt tū candlz mst b set at ɖ hed v a corps. H hd ofn sd t m: “I am nt loñ fr ɖs wrld,” n I hd ʈt hiz wrdz îdl. Nǎ I ń ɖe wr tru. Evri nît az I gezd p at ɖ windo I sd softli t mslf ɖ wrd p’raḷsis. It hd olwz sǎndd strenjli in mî irz, lîc ɖ wrd nomón in ɖ Yclid n ɖ wrd siṃni in ɖ Caṭcizm. Bt nǎ it sǎndd t m lîc ɖ nem v sm mlefisnt n sinfl biyñ. It fild m wɖ fir, n yt I loñd t b nirr t it n t lc upn its dedli wrc.

Old Cotr wz sitñ at ɖ fîr, smocñ, ẃn I cem dǎnsterz t supr. Ẃl mî ānt wz leḍlñ ǎt mî str’bt h sd, az f rtrnñ t sm formr rmarc v hiz:

“No, I wd’nt se h wz xacli … bt ɖr wz smʈñ qir … ɖr wz smʈñ uncani abt him. I’l tel y mî opińn…”

H bgan t puf at hiz pîp, no dǎt arenjñ hiz opińn in hiz mînd. Tîrsm old fūl! Ẃn w ń him frst h yst t b rɖr inṭrestñ, tōcñ v fents n wrmz; bt I sn grù tîrd v him n hiz endlis storiz abt ɖ dstiḷri.

“I hv mî ǒn ʈiyri abt it,” h sd. “I ʈnc it wz wn v ɖoz … pkłr cesz… Bt it’s hard t se…”

H bgan t puf agn at hiz pîp wɖt gvñ s hiz ʈiyri. Mî uncl sw m stẹrñ n sd t m:

“Wel, so yr old frend z gn, y’l b sori t hír.”

“Hu?” sd I.

“Faɖr Flin.”

“Z h ded?”

“Mr. Cotr hir hz jst tld s. H wz pasñ bî ɖ hǎs.”

I ń ɖt I wz undr obẓveśn so I cntinyd ītñ az f ɖ nyz hd nt inṭrestd m. Mî uncl xplend t old Cotr.

“Ɖ yuñstr n h wr gret frendz. Ɖ old ćap tòt him a gret dīl, mînd y; n ɖe se h hd a gret wś fr him.”

“God hv mrsi on hiz soul,” sd mî ānt paysli.

Old Cotr lct at m fr a ẃl. I flt ɖt hiz litl bīdi blac îz wr xaṃnñ m bt I wd nt saṭsfî him bî lcñ p fṛm mî plet. H rtrnd t hiz pîp n fîṇli spat rūdli intu ɖ greit.

“I wd’nt lîc ćildṛn v mîn,” h sd, “t hv tù mć t se t a man lîc ɖt.”

“Hǎ d y mīn, Mr. Cotr?” asct mî ānt.

“Ẃt I mīn z,” sd old Cotr, “it’s bad fr ćildṛn. Mî îdīa z: let a yuñ lad run abt n ple wɖ yuñ ladz v hiz ǒn ej n nt b… Am I rît, Jac?”

“Ɖt’s mî prínsipl, tù,” sd mî uncl. “Let him lrn t box hiz cornr. Ɖt’s ẃt I’m olwz seyñ t ɖt Roẓcrūśn ɖr: tec x’sîz. Ẃ, ẃn I wz a nipr evri mornñ v mî lîf I hd a cold baʈ, wintr n sumr. N ɖt’s ẃt standz t m nǎ. Edyceśn z ol vri fîn n larj… Mr. Cotr mt tec a pic v ɖt leg v mutn,” h add t mî ānt.

“No, no, nt fr m,” sd old Cotr.

Mî ānt bròt ɖ diś fṛm ɖ sef n pt it on ɖ tebl.

“Bt ẃ d y ʈnc it’s nt gd fr ćildṛn, Mr. Cotr?” ś asct.

“It’s bad fr ćildṛn,” sd old Cotr, “bcz ɖer mîndz r so impreśṇbl. Ẃn ćildṛn si ʈñz lîc ɖt, y nǒ, it hz an ifct…”

I cramd mî mǎʈ wɖ str’bt fr fir I mt gv utṛns t mî angr. Tîrsm old red-nozd imbsil!

It wz lêt ẃn I fél aslip. Ɖo I wz angri wɖ old Cotr fr aludñ t m az a ćîld, I puzld mî hed t xtract mīnñ fṛm hiz unfiniśt sntnsz. In ɖ darc v mî rūm I imajnd ɖt I sw agn ɖ hevi gre fes v ɖ paṛlitic. I drù ɖ blancits ovr mî hed n traid t ʈnc v Crisṃs. Bt ɖ gre fes stl foloud m. It mrmrd; n I unḍstd ɖt it dzîrd t cnfes smʈñ. I flt mî soul rsidñ intu sm pleznt n viśs rījn; n ɖr agn I faund it wêtñ fr m. It bgan t cnfes t m in a mrṃrñ vôs n I wundrd ẃ it smîld cntińli n ẃ ɖ lips wr so môst wɖ spitl. Bt ɖen I rmembrd ɖt it hd daid v p’raḷsis n I flt ɖt I tù wz smîlñ fībli az f t abzolv ɖ simoniac v hiz sin.

Ɖ nxt mornñ aftr brecfst I wnt dǎn t lc at ɖ litl hǎs in Gret Britn Strīt. It wz an un’symñ śop, rejistrd undr ɖ veg nem v Dreṗri. Ɖ dreṗri cnsistd mnli v ćildṛn’z būtīz n umbrelaz; n on ordnri dez a notis yst t hañ in ɖ windo, seyñ: Umbrelaz Ri-cuvrd. No notis wz viẓbl nǎ fr ɖ śutrz wr p. A crep būce wz taid t ɖ dor-nocr wɖ ribn. Tū pur wimin n a teḷgrambô wr rīdñ ɖ card pind on ɖ crep. I olso aproćt n réd:

Jlî 1st, 1895

Ɖ Rév. Jemz Flin (formrli v S. Caʈrin’z Ćrć, Mīʈ Strīt), ejd sixti-fîv yirz.

R.I.P.

Ɖ rīdñ v ɖ card pswedd m ɖt h wz ded n I wz dstrbd t fînd mslf at ćec. Hd h nt bn ded I wd hv gn intu ɖ litl darc rūm bhnd ɖ śop t fînd him sitñ in hiz armćer bî ɖ fîr, nirli smuɖrd in hiz gretcot. Phps mî ānt wd hv gvn m a pacit v Hî Tost fr him n ɖs preznt wd hv rǎzd him fṛm hiz styṗfaid dǒz. It wz olwz I hu emtid ɖ pacit intu hiz blac snufbox fr hiz handz trembld tù mć t alǎ him t d ɖs wɖt spilñ haf ɖ snuf abt ɖ flor. Īvn az h rezd hiz larj tremḅlñ hand t hiz nǒz litl clǎdz v smoc dribld ʈru hiz fngrz ovr ɖ frunt v hiz cot. It me hv bn ɖz constnt śǎrz v snuf ẃć gev hiz enćnt prīstli garmnts ɖer grīn fedd lc fr ɖ red hanc̣ćif, blacnd, az it olwz wz, wɖ ɖ snufstenz v a wīc, wɖ ẃć h traid t bruś awe ɖ fōḷn grenz, wz qt inef̣ceśs.

I wśt t g in n lc at him bt I hd nt ɖ curij t noc. I wōct awe slǒli alñ ɖ súni sîd v ɖ strīt, rīdñ ol ɖ ʈiatricl advrtismnts in ɖ śopwindoz az I wnt. I faund it strenj ɖt nɖr I nr ɖ de sīmd in a mōrnñmūd n I flt īvn anoid at dscuṿrñ in mslf a snseśn v frīdm az f I hd bn frìd fṛm smʈñ bî hiz deʈ. I wundrd at ɖs fr, az mî uncl hd sd ɖ nît bfr, h hd tòt m a gret dīl. H hd studid in ɖ Îriś colij in Rǒm n h hd tòt m t pṛnǎns Latin proprli. H hd tld m storiz abt ɖ caṭcomz n abt Npołn Boṇpart, n h hd xplend t m ɖ mīnñ v ɖ difṛnt seriṃniz v ɖ Mas n v ɖ difṛnt vstmnts wòrn bî ɖ prīst. Smtmz h hd aḿzd himslf bî ptñ dificlt qsćnz t m, ascñ m ẃt wn śd d in srtn srcmstansz or ẃɖr sć n sć sinz wr mortl or vīńl or onli imṗfx́nz. Hiz qsćnz śoud m hǎ complex n m’stirịs wr srtn insttyśnz v ɖ Ćrć ẃć I hd olwz rgardd az ɖ simplist acts. Ɖ dytiz v ɖ prīst twdz ɖ Yc̣rist n twdz ɖ sīcṛsi v ɖ cnfeśnl sīmd so grev t m ɖt I wundrd hǎ enbdi hd evr faund in himslf ɖ curij t unḍtec ɖm; n I wz nt s’prîzd ẃn h tld m ɖt ɖ faɖrz v ɖ Ćrć hd ritn bcs az ʈic az ɖ Post-ofis D’rectri n az closli printd az ɖ lwnoṭsz in ɖ nyzpepr, ilūṣdetñ ol ɖz intric̣t qsćnz. Ofn ẃn I ʈt v ɖs I cd mc no ansr or onli a vri fūliś n hōltñ wn upn ẃć h yst t smîl n nod hiz hed twîs or ʈrîs. Smtmz h yst t pt m ʈru ɖ rsponsz v ɖ Mas ẃć h hd md m lrn bî hart; n, az I patrd, h yst t smîl pnsivli n nod hiz hed, nǎ n ɖen pśñ hyj pinćz v snuf p ć nostṛl oltrṇtli. Ẃn h smîld h yst t uncuvr hiz big dsculrd tīʈ n let hiz tuñ lî upn hiz lowr lip—a habit ẃć hd md m fīl unīzi in ɖ bginñ v ǎr aqentns bfr I ń him wel.

Az I wōct alñ in ɖ sún I rmembrd old Cotr’z wrdz n traid t rmembr ẃt hd hapnd aftwdz in ɖ drīm. I rmembrd ɖt I hd notist loñ velvit crtnz n a swññ lamp v antīc faśn. I flt ɖt I hd bn vri far awe, in sm land ẃr ɖ custmz wr strenj—in Prśa, I ʈt… Bt I cd nt rmembr ɖ end v ɖ drīm.

In ɖ īvnñ mî ānt tc m wɖ hr t vizit ɖ hǎs v mōrnñ. It wz aftr súnset; bt ɖ windopeins v ɖ hǎzz ɖt lct t ɖ wst rflectd ɖ tōni gold v a gret banc v clǎdz. Náni rsivd s in ɖ hōl; n, az it wd hv bn unsīmli t hv śǎtd at hr, mî ānt śc handz wɖ hr fr ol. Ɖ old wmn pôntd upwdz inṭroġtivli n, on mî ānt’s nodñ, pṛsidd t tôl p ɖ naro sterces bfr s, hr baud hed biyñ scersli abv ɖ levl v ɖ banistŗel. At ɖ frst landñ ś stopt n becnd s fwd incuṛjñli twdz ɖ opn dor v ɖ ded-rūm. Mî ānt wnt in n ɖ old wmn, siyñ ɖt I heztetd t entr, bgan t becn t m agn rpitidli wɖ hr hand.

I wnt in on tipto. Ɖ rūm ʈru ɖ lês end v ɖ blînd wz s’fyzd wɖ dusci goldn lît amd ẃć ɖ candlz lct lîc pel ʈin flemz. H hd bn cofind. Náni gev ɖ līd n w ʈri nelt dǎn at ɖ ft v ɖ bed. I pritndd t pre bt I cd nt gaɖr mî ʈts bcz ɖ old wmn’z muṭrñz dstractd m. I notist hǎ clumẓli hr scrt wz hct at ɖ bac n hǎ ɖ hìlz v hr cloʈ būts wr trodn dǎn ol t wn sîd. Ɖ fansi cem t m ɖt ɖ old prīst wz smîlñ az h le ɖr in hiz cofin.

Bt no. Ẃn w rouz n wnt p t ɖ hed v ɖ bed I sw ɖt h wz nt smîlñ. Ɖr h le, soḷm n copịs, vstd az fr ɖ ōltr, hiz larj handz lūsli rtenñ a ćalis. Hiz fes wz vri trukḷnt, gre n masiv, wɖ blac cavṇs nostṛlz n srcld bî a scanti ẃît fŕ. Ɖr wz a hevi ǒdr in ɖ rūm—ɖ flǎrz.

W blest ǎrslvz n cem awe. In ɖ litl rūm dǎnsterz w faund Ilîza sītd in hiz armćer in stet. I gropt mî we twdz mî yźl ćer in ɖ cornr ẃl Náni wnt t ɖ sîdbōrd n bròt ǎt a dcantr v śeri n sm wînglasz. Ś set ɖz on ɖ tebl n invîtd s t tec a litl glas v wîn. Ɖen, at hr sistr’z bidñ, ś fild ǎt ɖ śeri intu ɖ glasz n pást ɖm t s. Ś prest m t tec sm crīmcracrz olso bt I dclînd bcz I ʈt I wd mc tù mć nôz ītñ ɖm. Ś sīmd t b smẃt dis’pôntd at mî rfyzl n wnt ovr qaytli t ɖ sofa ẃr ś sat dǎn bhnd hr sistr. Nwn spouc: w ol gezd at ɖ emti fîrples.

Mî ānt wêtd untl Ilîza said n ɖen sd:

“Ā, wel, h’z gn t a betr wrld.”

Ilîza said agn n baud hr hed in asnt. Mî ānt fngrd ɖ stem v hr wînglas bfr sipñ a litl.

“Dd h … pīsf̣li?” ś asct.

“Ǒ, qt pīsf̣li, mām,” sd Ilîza. “Y cd’nt tel ẃn ɖ breʈ wnt ǎt v him. H hd a bytifl deʈ, God b prezd.”

“N evrʈñ…?”

“Faɖr O’Rurc wz in wɖ him a’Tyzde n anôntd him n priperd him n ol.”

“H ń ɖen?”

“H wz qt rzînd.”

“H lcs qt rzînd,” sd mî ānt.

“Ɖt’s ẃt ɖ wmn w hd in t woś him sd. Ś sd h jst lct az f h wz aslip, h lct ɖt pīsfl n rzînd. Nwn wd ʈnc h’d mc sć a bytifl corps.”

“Yes, indd,” sd mî ānt.

Ś sipt a litl mor fṛm hr glas n sd:

“Wel, Mis Flin, at eni ret it mst b a gret cumf̣t fr y t nǒ ɖt y dd ol y cd fr him. Y wr bʈ vri cnd t him, I mst se.”

Ilîza smuɖd hr dres ovr hr niz.

“Ā, pur Jemz!” ś sd. “God nz w dn ol w cd, az pur az w r—w wd’nt si him wont enʈñ ẃl h wz in it.”

Náni hd līnd hr hed agnst ɖ sof̣pilo n sīmd abt t fōl aslip.

“Ɖr’z pur Náni,” sd Ilîza, lcñ at hr, “ś’z wòr ǎt. Ol ɖ wrc w hd, ś n m, gtñ in ɖ wmn t woś him n ɖen leyñ him ǎt n ɖen ɖ cofin n ɖen arenjñ abt ɖ Mas in ɖ ćapl. Onli fr Faɖr O’Rurc I d’nt nǒ ẃt w’d hv dn at ol. It wz him bròt s ol ɖm flǎrz n ɖm tū candlstics ǎt v ɖ ćapl n rout ǎt ɖ notis fr ɖ Frīmn’z Jenṛl n tc ćarj v ol ɖ peprz fr ɖ seṃtri n pur Jemz’z inśuṛns.”

“Wz’nt ɖt gd v him?” sd mî ānt.

Ilîza clozd hr îz n śc hr hed slǒli.

“Ā, ɖr’z no frendz lîc ɖ old frendz,” ś sd, “ẃn ol z sd n dn, no frendz ɖt a bodi cn trust.”

“Indd, ɖt’s tru,” sd mî ānt. “N I’m śr nǎ ɖt h’z gn t hiz itrnl rword h w’nt fget y n ol yr cîndnis t him.”

“Ā, pur Jemz!” sd Ilîza. “H wz no gret trubl t s. Y wd’nt hír him in ɖ hǎs eni mor ɖn nǎ. Stl, I nǒ h’z gn n ol t ɖt…”

“It’s ẃn it’s ol ovr ɖt y’l mis him,” sd mî ānt.

“I nǒ ɖt,” sd Ilîza. “I w’nt b brññ him in hiz cup v bīf ti eni mor, nr y, mām, sndñ him hiz snuf. Ā, pur Jemz!”

Ś stopt, az f ś wr cḿnñ wɖ ɖ past n ɖen sd śrūdli:

“Mînd y, I notist ɖr wz smʈñ qir cmñ ovr him latrli. Ẃnvr I’d brñ in hiz sūp t him ɖr I’d fînd him wɖ hiz brīvịri fōḷn t ɖ flor, layñ bac in ɖ ćer n hiz mǎʈ opn.”

Ś leid a fngr agnst hr nǒz n frǎnd: ɖen ś cntinyd:

“Bt stl n ol h cept on seyñ ɖt bfr ɖ sumr wz ovr h’d g ǎt fr a drîv wn fîn de jst t si ɖ old hǎs agn ẃr w wr ol born dǎn in Iriśtǎn n tec m n Náni wɖ him. F w cd onli gt wn v ɖm ny-fangld caṛjz ɖt mcs no nôz ɖt Faɖr O’Rurc tld him abt, ɖm wɖ ɖ rūmatic ẃīlz, fr ɖ de ćīp—h sd, at Joni Ruś’z ovr ɖ we ɖr n drîv ǎt ɖ ʈri v s tgɖr v a Súnde īvnñ. H hd hiz mînd set on ɖt… Pur Jemz!”

“Ɖ Lord hv mrsi on hiz soul!” sd mî ānt.

Ilîza tc ǎt hr hanc̣ćif n wîpt hr îz wɖ it. Ɖen ś pt it bac agn in hr pocit n gezd intu ɖ emti greit fr sm tîm wɖt spīcñ.

“H wz tù scrūpyḷs olwz,” ś sd. “Ɖ dytiz v ɖ prīsthd wz tù mć fr him. N ɖen hiz lîf wz, y mt se, crost.”

“Yes,” sd mî ānt. “H wz a dis’pôntd man. Y cd si ɖt.”

A sîḷns tc pześn v ɖ litl rūm n, undr cuvr v it, I aproćt ɖ tebl n testd mî śeri n ɖen rtrnd qaytli t mî ćer in ɖ cornr. Ilîza sīmd t hv fōḷn intu a dīp reṿri. W wêtd rspctf̣li fr hr t brec ɖ sîḷns: n aftr a loñ pōz ś sd slǒli:

“It wz ɖt ćalis h brouc… Ɖt wz ɖ bginñ v it. V cors, ɖe se it wz ol rît, ɖt it cntend nʈñ, I mīn. Bt stl… Ɖe se it wz ɖ bô’z fōlt. Bt pur Jemz wz so nrṿs, God b mrsifl t him!”

“N wz ɖt it?” sd mî ānt. “I hŕd smʈñ…”

Ilîza nodd.

“Ɖt afctd hiz mînd,” ś sd. “Aftr ɖt h bgan t mǒp bî himslf, tōcñ t nwn n wonḍrñ abt bî himslf. So wn nît h wz wontd fr t g on a cōl n ɖe cd’nt fînd him enẃr. Ɖe lct hî p n lo dǎn; n stl ɖe cd’nt si a sît v him enẃr. So ɖen ɖ clarc sjstd t trî ɖ ćapl. So ɖen ɖe got ɖ ciz n opnd ɖ ćapl n ɖ clarc n Faɖr O’Rurc n anɖr prīst ɖt wz ɖr bròt in a lît fr t lc fr him… N ẃt d y ʈnc bt ɖr h wz, sitñ p bî himslf in ɖ darc in hiz cnfeśnbox, wîd-awec n lafñ-lîc softli t himslf?”

Ś stopt sudnli az f t lisn. I tù lisnd; bt ɖr wz no sǎnd in ɖ hǎs: n I ń ɖt ɖ old prīst wz layñ stl in hiz cofin az w hd sìn him, soḷm n trukḷnt in deʈ, an îdl ćalis on hiz brest.

Ilîza rzymd:

“Wîd-awec n lafñ-lîc t himslf… So ɖen, v cors, ẃn ɖe sw ɖt, ɖt md ɖm ʈnc ɖt ɖr wz smʈñ gn roñ wɖ him…”

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