Eṿlīn, bî Jemz Jôs

Ś­ sat at ɖ windo woćñ ɖ īvnñ inved ɖ aṿny. Hr hed wz līnd agnst ɖ windocrtnz n in hr nostṛlz wz ɖ ǒdr v dusti cretón. Ś wz tîrd.

Fy ppl pást. Ɖ man ǎt v ɖ last hǎs pást on hiz we hom; ś hŕd hiz ftsteps clacñ alñ ɖ concrīt pevmnt n aftwdz crunćñ on ɖ sindr paʈ bfr ɖ ny red hǎzz. Wn tîm ɖr yst t b a fīld ɖr in ẃć ɖe yst t ple evri īvnñ wɖ uɖr ppl’z ćildṛn. Ɖen a man fṛm Belfast bòt ɖ fīld n bilt hǎzz in it—nt lîc ɖer litl brǎn hǎzz bt brît bric hǎzz wɖ śînñ rūfs. Ɖ ćildṛn v ɖ aṿny yst t ple tgɖr in ɖt fīld—ɖ Dvînz, ɖ Wōtrz, ɖ Dunz, litl Cio ɖ cripl, ś n hr bruɖrz n sistrz. Ŕnist, hvr, nvr pleid: h wz tù groun p. Hr faɖr yst ofn t hunt ɖm in ǎt v ɖ fīld wɖ hiz blacʈorn stic; bt yẓ́li litl Cio yst t cīp nix n cōl ǎt ẃn h sw hr faɖr cmñ. Stl ɖe sīmd t hv bn rɖr hapi ɖen. Hr faɖr wz nt so bad ɖen; n bsdz, hr muɖr wz alîv. Ɖt wz a loñ tîm ago; ś n hr bruɖrz n sistrz wr ol groun p; hr muɖr wz ded. Tizi Dun wz ded, tù, n ɖ Wōtrz hd gn bac t Ñgḷnd. Evrʈñ ćenjz. Nǎ ś wz gwñ t g awe lîc ɖ uɖrz, t līv hr hom.

Hom! Ś lct rnd ɖ rūm, rvywñ ol its fmiłr objicts ẃć ś hd dustd wns a wīc fr so mni yirz, wunḍrñ ẃr on rʈ ol ɖ dust cem fṛm. Phps ś wd nvr si agn ɖoz fmiłr objicts fṛm ẃć ś hd nvr drīmd v biyñ dvîdd. N yt jrñ ol ɖoz yirz ś hd nvr faund ǎt ɖ nem v ɖ prīst huz yelowñ foṭgraf huñ on ɖ wōl abv ɖ brocn harmonịm bsd ɖ culrd print v ɖ proṃsz md t Blesid Marġrit Mẹri Aḷcóc. H hd bn a scūlfrend v hr faɖr. Ẃnvr h śoud ɖ foṭgraf t a vizitr hr faɖr yst t pas it wɖ a caźl wrd:

“H z in Melbōrn nǎ.”

Ś hd cnsntd t g awe, t līv hr hom. Wz ɖt wîz? Ś traid t wei ć sîd v ɖ qsćn. In hr hom enwe ś hd śltr n fūd; ś hd ɖoz hūm ś hd noun ol hr lîf abt hr. V cors ś hd t wrc hard, bʈ in ɖ hǎs n at biznis. Ẃt wd ɖe se v hr in ɖ Storz ẃn ɖe faund ǎt ɖt ś hd run awe wɖ a felo? Se ś wz a fūl, phps; n hr ples wd b fild p bî advrtismnt. Mis Gavn wd b glad. Ś hd olwz hd an éj on hr, ispeṣ́li ẃnvr ɖr wr ppl liṣnñ.

“Mis Hil, d’nt y si ɖz lediz r wêtñ?”

“Lc lîvli, Mis Hil, plīz.”

Ś wd nt crî mni tirz at līvñ ɖ Storz.

Bt in hr ny hom, in a distnt uņoun cuntri, it wd nt b lîc ɖt. Ɖen ś wd b marid—ś, Eṿlīn. Ppl wd trīt hr wɖ rspct ɖen. Ś wd nt b trītd az hr muɖr hd bn. Īvn nǎ, ɖo ś wz ovr nîntīn, ś smtmz flt hrslf in denjr v hr faɖr’z vayḷns. Ś ń it wz ɖt ɖt hd gvn hr ɖ palṗteśnz. Ẃn ɖe wr growñ p h hd nvr gn fr hr lîc h yst t g fr Hari n Ŕnist, bcz ś wz a grl; bt latrli h hd bgun t ʈretn hr n se ẃt h wd d t hr onli fr hr ded muɖr’z sec. N nǎ ś hd nbdi t pṛtct hr. Ŕnist wz ded n Hari, hu wz in ɖ ćrćdec̣retñ biznis, wz nirli olwz dǎn smẃr in ɖ cuntri. Bsdz, ɖ inverịbl sqobl fr muni on Saṭde nîts hd bgun t wiri hr unspīcbli. Ś olwz gev hr intîr wejz—sevn śilñz—n Hari olwz snt p ẃt h cd bt ɖ trubl wz t gt eni muni fṛm hr faɖr. H sd ś yst t sqondr ɖ muni, ɖt ś hd no hed, ɖt h wz’nt gwñ t gv hr hiz hard-ŕnd muni t ʈro abt ɖ strīts, n mć mor, fr h wz yẓ́li ferli bad v a Saṭde nît. In ɖ end h wd gv hr ɖ muni n asc hr hd ś eni intnśn v bayñ Súnde’z dinr. Ɖen ś hd t ruś ǎt az qcli az ś cd n d hr marc̣tñ, holdñ hr blac leɖr prs tîtli in hr hand az ś elboud hr we ʈru ɖ crǎdz n rtrnñ hom lêt undr hr lod v pṛviźnz. Ś hd hard wrc t cīp ɖ hǎs tgɖr n t si ɖt ɖ tū yuñ ćildṛn hu hd bn left t hr ćarj wnt t scūl reğlrli n got ɖer mīlz reğlrli. It wz hard wrc—a hard lîf—bt nǎ ɖt ś wz abt t līv it ś dd nt fînd it a hoļi undizîṛbl lîf.

Ś wz abt t xplor anɖr lîf wɖ Franc. Franc wz vri cînd, manli, opn-hartd. Ś wz t g awe wɖ him bî ɖ nîtbot t b hiz wîf n t liv wɖ him in Bweṇs Ẹriz ẃr h hd a hom wêtñ fr hr. Hǎ wel ś rmembrd ɖ frst tîm ś hd sìn him; h wz lojñ in a hǎs on ɖ mn rod ẃr ś yst t vizit. It sīmd a fy wīcs ago. H wz standñ at ɖ get, hiz pīct cap pśt bac on hiz hed n hiz her tumbld fwd ovr a fes v bronz. Ɖen ɖe hd cm t nǒ ć uɖr. H yst t mīt hr ǎtsd ɖ Storz evri īvnñ n si hr hom. H tc hr t si Ɖ Bhīmịn Grl n ś flt iletd az ś sat in an un’custmd part v ɖ ʈiytr wɖ him. H wz ōf̣li fond v ḿzic n sañ a litl. Ppl ń ɖt ɖe wr cortñ n, ẃn h sañ abt ɖ las ɖt luvz a sêlr, ś olwz flt plezntli cnfyzd. H yst t cōl hr Pópnz ǎt v fun. Frst v ol it hd bn an xîtmnt fr hr t hv a felo n ɖen ś hd bgun t lîc him. H hd têlz v distnt cuntriz. H hd startd az a decbô at a pǎnd a munʈ on a śip v ɖ Aḷn Lîn gwñ ǎt t Caṇda. H tld hr ɖ nemz v ɖ śips h hd bn on n ɖ nemz v ɖ difṛnt srṿsz. H hd sêld ʈru ɖ Streits v Mjeḷn n h tld hr storiz v ɖ teṛbl Paṭgońnz. H hd fōḷn on hiz fīt in Bweṇs Ẹriz, h sd, n hd cm ovr t ɖ old cuntri jst fr a hoḷde. V cors, hr faɖr hd faund ǎt ɖ afer n hd fbidn hr t hv enʈñ t se t him.

“I nǒ ɖz sêlrćaps,” h sd.

Wn de h hd qoṛld wɖ Franc n aftr ɖt ś hd t mīt hr luvr sīcṛtli.

Ɖ īvnñ dīpnd in ɖ aṿny. Ɖ ẃît v tū letrz in hr lap grù indistñt. Wn wz t Hari; ɖ uɖr wz t hr faɖr. Ŕnist hd bn hr feṿrit bt ś lîct Hari tù. Hr faɖr wz bcmñ old lêtli, ś notist; h wd mis hr. Smtmz h cd b vri nîs. Nt loñ bfr, ẃn ś hd bn leid p fr a de, h hd réd hr ǎt a goststori n md tost fr hr at ɖ fîr. Anɖr de, ẃn ɖer muɖr wz alîv, ɖe hd ol gn fr a picnic t ɖ Hil v Hoʈ. Ś rmembrd hr faɖr ptñ on hr muɖr’z bonit t mc ɖ ćildṛn laf.

Hr tîm wz runñ ǎt bt ś cntinyd t sit bî ɖ windo, līnñ hr hed agnst ɖ windocrtn, inhelñ ɖ ǒdr v dusti cretón. Dǎn far in ɖ aṿny ś cd hír a strīt-orgn pleyñ. Ś ń ɖ er. Strenj ɖt it śd cm ɖt vri nît t rmînd hr v ɖ promis t hr muɖr, hr promis t cīp ɖ hom tgɖr az loñ az ś cd. Ś rmembrd ɖ last nît v hr muɖr’z ilnis; ś wz agn in ɖ clos darc rūm at ɖ uɖr sîd v ɖ hōl n ǎtsd ś hŕd a meḷnc̣li er v Iṭli. Ɖ orgnpleyr hd bn ordrd t g awe n gvn sixpns. Ś rmembrd hr faɖr strutñ bac intu ɖ sicrūm seyñ:

“Dámd Itałnz! cmñ ovr hir!”

Az ś ḿzd, ɖ pitifl viźn v hr muɖr’z lîf leid its spel on ɖ vri qc v hr biyñ—ɖt lîf v comnples sacṛfîsz clozñ in fînl crezinis. Ś trembld az ś hŕd agn hr muɖr’z vôs seyñ constntli wɖ fūliś insistns:

“Deṛvōn S’rōn! Deṛvōn S’rōn!”

Ś std p in a sudn impuls v terr. Iscep! Ś mst iscep! Franc wd sev hr. H wd gv hr lîf, phps luv, tù. Bt ś wontd t liv. Ẃ śd ś b unhapi? Ś hd a rît t hapinis. Franc wd tec hr in hiz armz, fold hr in hiz armz. H wd sev hr.

Ś std amñ ɖ sweyñ crǎd in ɖ steśn at ɖ Norʈ Wōl. H hld hr hand n ś ń ɖt h wz spīcñ t hr, seyñ smʈñ abt ɖ pasij ovr n ovr agn. Ɖ steśn wz fl v soljrz wɖ brǎn baġjz. Ʈru ɖ wîd dorz v ɖ śedz ś còt a glims v ɖ blac mas v ɖ bot, layñ in bsd ɖ cìwōl, wɖ ilumind porthoulz. Ś ansrd nʈñ. Ś flt hr ćīc pel n cold n, ǎt v a mêz v dstres, ś preid t God t d’rect hr, t śo hr ẃt wz hr dyti. Ɖ bot blù a loñ mōrnfl ẃisl intu ɖ mist. F ś wnt, tmro ś wd b on ɖ sì wɖ Franc, stīmñ twdz Bweṇs Ẹriz. Ɖer pasij hd bn bct. Cd ś stl drw bac aftr ol h hd dn fr hr? Hr dstres awouc a nōzia in hr bodi n ś cept muvñ hr lips in sîḷnt frvnt prer.

A bel clañd upn hr hart. Ś flt him sīz hr hand:

“Cm!”

Ol ɖ sìz v ɖ wrld tumbld abt hr hart. H wz drw̃ hr intu ɖm: h wd drǎn hr. Ś gript wɖ bʈ handz at ɖ ayn relñ.

“Cm!”

No! No! No! It wz imposbl. Hr handz clućt ɖ ayn in frenzi. Amd ɖ sìz ś snt a crî v anḡś!

“Eṿlīn! Evi!”

H ruśt bynd ɖ barịr n cōld t hr t folo. H wz śǎtd at t g on bt h stl cōld t hr. Ś set hr ẃît fes t him, pasiv, lîc a hlplis animl. Hr îz gev him no sîn v luv or férwel or recgniśn.

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