You’ve been charged with murdering your father-in-law František Lebeda. In the police interview you admitted you hit him three times on the head with an axe, with the intention of killing him. How do you plead?
[Shivers, gulps.] Not guilty.
Did you kill him?
So, you are pleading guilty or not?
No, I’m not.
Now look, Mr Vondráček, it’s already been established that you tried to kill him once before. You put rat poison in his coffee. Is that correct?
From which it follows that you’ve been seeking to kill him for some time. Do you understand me?
[Sniffs and shrugs his shoulders.] It… it was… it was coz of the clover. He sold the clover, even though I told him, “Dad, don’t sell that clover, I’m gonna buy some rabbits…”
Hold on. Was the clover his or yours?
His. But why would he be awanting clover. And I says to him, “Dad, at least leave me the field where you’ve got the alfafa.” But he says, “When I dies, Mařka – that’s like me wife – Mařka will have it. And then you can do what you likes with it, you greedy bastard.”
And that’s why you wanted to poison him?
Yeah, sort of.
Because he swore at you?
No. It was the field. He said he’d sell the field.
But, for heavens’ sake, man! It was his field, wasn’t it? Why shouldn’t he have sold it?
[Looking reproachfully at the judge.] Well, beside that field I got a sort of line of potatoes. I bought it so’s I could combine it one day with his field. But he said, “What do I care about your line of potatoes?! I’m gonna sell it to Joudal.”
So you were continually arguing.
[Frowning.] Yeah, kind of. Coz of the goat.
He milked it dry. I says to him, “If you’re gonna keep the goat, give us that meadow by the stream.” But he sold the meadow.
And what did he do with the money?
What d’ya think? He kept it in his trunk. “When I dies,” he says, “you can have it.” But he din’t have no intention of dying, even though he were already over seventy.
So you mean to say it was your father-in-law who was responsible for all the disagreements?
Yeah… He din’t want to hand nuffing over. “As long as I’m alive,” he says, “I’m in charge and that’s that!” So I says to him, “If you buys a cow, Dad, I’ll plough the field and then you won’t have to sell it.” But he says, “When I dies, you can buy two cows for all I care, but I’ll sell the field to Joudal.”
Now listen, Mr Vondráček, did you kill him on account of the money in the trunk?
That was for a cow. We reckoned, when he dies, that’ll be for a cow. A cottage like that can’t be without a cow, can it? Where was I gonna get manure?
We’re not talking about a cow, we’re talking about a man’s life. Why did you kill your father-in-law?
Coz of the field.
That isn’t an answer!
He wanted to sell the field…
But the money would still be there after he died!
Yeah, but he din’t wanna die, did he? If he’d died like he oughta of done, Yer Honour… I treated h’im like he was me own father. [Turns to the public gallery.] The whole village can attest to that, can’t you?
[Murmurs of agreement from VILLAGERS.]
Yes, and that’s why you wanted to poison him, isn’t it?
[Mumbling.] Poison… He shouldn’t of sold that clover. Anyone can tell you, Yer Honour, that clover oughta stay home. [Turning to the public gallery.] That’s no way to manage things, is it now?
[More murmurs of agreement.]
Turn and face me, or I’ll have the public gallery cleared… Now tell us, how did the murder happen?
Well… It was on a Sunday and I could see he was talking with that Joudal again. “Don’t go selling the field, Dad,” I says to him. And all he says is, “I din’t ask your advice, did I, blockhead?” So then I thinks to meself, it’s high time, innit? So I goes off to chop wood.
With the axe at Exhibit A?
That evening I says to me missus, “Take the kids over to Auntie’s.” And she starts to cry. But I says, “Don’t cry. I’m just gonna have a chat with him.” But when he comes into the shed, he says, “That’s my axe, give it here!” An’ then he tries to grab it off me. So I gives him a whack with it.
Coz of the field.
And why did you hit him three times?
[Shrugging his shoulders.] Well, Yer Honour… Where I comes from, we’re used to hard work.
And then I goes to bed.
Did you manage to get to sleep?
No. I was thinking how much a cow would cost, and how I’d exchange the meadow for that bit by the path. Then it’d be all together.
And your conscience didn’t trouble you?
No. What troubled me was that them fields wasn’t together. And then I’d have to repair the cowshed for the cow. That’d cost a few hundred. My father-in-law din’t even have a cart. “Dad,” I says to him, “God help us, but this isn’t no way to run a farm. The two fields need to be together. That’d be more like it.”
And did you have no sympathy for the old man?!
Well… Well… He wanted to sell that strip to Joudal, din’t he?
So you murdered him out of avarice!
[Tremulously.] No. It was coz of the field! If the fields had been together…
You don’t feel guilty?
So, murdering an old man is a matter of nothing as far as you’re concerned?
[Almost in tears.] But it’s like I says, it was coz of that field. That isn’t no murder! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, anyone can see that! It was a family matter, Yer Honour! I wouldn’t of done it to no one outside the family… I never stealed nuffin… You can ask anyone… An’ they drags me off like a thief! … Like a thief!
No, not like a thief. Like a patricide. You do know, Mr Vondráček, that the punishment for that is death?
[Sobbing.] It was coz of the field.
[The hearing continues: witnesses, prosecuting council, defence council… The jury retire to make their decision.]
Scene 2: The judge’s office
Deep in thought, the judge is staring out of a window.
All a bit weak, I’d say. Neither the prosecution nor the defence felt the need to say much… In short, open and shut. Guilty as charged.
“Guilty as charged” you say. Listen, my friend: that man feels just as innocent as you or I. It’s as if I were judging a butcher for killing a cow, or a mole for making molehills. At times I felt like it shouldn’t be up to us, you know – shouldn’t be up to our justice. [Sighs and takes off his robe.] God! I need a break from it. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if the jury find him not guilty, ridiculous as that sounds… And that’s because… Let me tell you something. I was born and bred in the country, and when that fellow said, “Those fields need to be together,” it was as if I could see the two fields and I thought, you know, if we had to judge… by some sort of divine law… we’d have to judge those two fields. You know what I’d have liked to do? Stand up, take off my cap and say, “In the name of God, Mr Vondráček, because spilt blood cries to heaven for vengeance, you shall sow those two fields with hawthorn and henbane, so that, until your dying day, you’ll have that wasteland of hate in front of your eyes…” I wonder what the prosecuting counsel would have to say to that. My friend, sometimes God should do the judging. He’d be able to impose such terrific sentences. Although we judge in God’s name, we’re nothing in comparision… What’s that? The jury have already decided? [Sighs and puts his robe back on.] Right, let’s go. Call them back in.
HEJDA, police sergeant
VÁCLAV (Vašek Lysický), the accused
SCENE: Magistrate’s office.
TUČEK is sitting behind his desk. Enter HEJDA.
I’ve got a case of grievous bodily harm here, sir… My God, isn’t it hot!”
Just take it easy, Hejda.
[Puts a bundle on the floor by the door, chucks his helmet down beside it, puts his firearm on a table in the corner of the room and unbuttons his coat.] Phew! The wretched scoundrel! I’ve never had a case like it, sir. Just take a look at this. [Picks up bundle, places it on Tuček’s desk and undoes it.]
[Pokes the stone with a pencil.] What’s that meant to be? A cobblestone or something?
Yes, a big one, 5 kilo 940 grams. It’s like this, sir. This Václav Lysický, bricklayer, nineteen years old, lives in the brickworks, right? He hits František Pudil, landlord, No. 14 Dolní Újezd, right? in left shoulder, causing breakage of clavical and shoulder joint with accompanying bleeding wound and torn muscles, tendons and surronding tissue. Right?
Right. But what’s so unusual about all that?
Just you wait and see, sir. I’ll tell you precisely what’s so unusual about all that. Three days ago that Pudil sends for me. You know him, don’t you, sir?
I do. He was here once on account of extortion, and then… hm…
That was the poker game. Yes, that Pudil. He’s got a cherry orchard going down to the river, right? That’s where the Sázava bends, so it’s wider there. So, Pudil sends for me one morning, saying something’s happened. I find him in bed, groaning and cursing. He says he went down the orchard the previous evening, to have a look at the cherries, and he catches this boy up a tree, stuffing his pockets with cherries. Well, you know what a ruffian that Pudil is. He takes off his belt, grabs the lad’s leg, pulls him down from the tree and whips him with the belt. But then someone yells at him from across the river: “Leave that boy alone, Pudil!” Well, Pudil, he doesn’t see too well – on account of his drinking, I think. All he can see is someone standing on the other bank staring at him. So, just to make sure, he shouts, “What’s it got to do with you, bonehead?!” and carries on whipping the boy even harder. “Pudil!” shouts the fellow on the other bank. “Leave that boy alone, I tell you!” Well, Pudil thinks to himself he can’t do much, over there, so he shouts, “Get stuffed, you interfering idiot!” But no sooner has he said that than he’s lying on the ground with a terrible pain in his left shoulder. And the fellow on the other bank says, “I’ll show you what for, you big bully!” So, listen, they have to carry Pudil away, coz he can’t stand up. And lying on the ground beside him is this here stone. They send someone to get the doctor that same night, and the doctor wants to send Pudil to the hospital, but Pudil won’t go, on account of it being harvest time. So he sends for me this morning and tells me I’ve got to arrest that scumbag, that toerag. So…
Listen, I was gobsmacked when he shows me the stone. It’s got some sort of mineral in it, so it’s heavier than it looks. Here, feel it yourself, sir. I’d say it’s about 6 kilo. Maybe just 51 grams short of 6 kilo. Jesus! you’d have to know what you was doing to throw a stone like this. So, I goes to look at the orchard and the river. Where the grass is all flattened is where he fell. It was 2 metres from the water. And the river, sir – at first sight the river is at least 14 metres wide. Coz that’s where it bends. So, I gets excited and shouts, “Bring me an 18-metre length of string. Right away!” And then I puts a stake in the ground where Pudil fell, I ties the string to it and I swims across to the other bank with the other end of the string in my mouth. And do you know, sir: the string just about reaches the other bank. And then there’s an embankment and a path above it. I measures it three times: from the stake to the path is exactly 19 metres and 27 centimetres.”
Look, Hejda. That has to be impossible. Nineteen metres is quite some distance. Are you sure the fellow wouldn’t have been standing in the water? In the middle of the river, say?
That did occur to me as well, sir. But the middle of the river is 2 metres deep at that point coz of the bend. And there’s a hole in the embankment where that stone was. You see, they built up the embankment a bit there to stop flooding. The fellow pulled this stone out of it and he must have thrown it from the path coz the river was too deep and he’d have slipped if he was standing on the embankment. So, that means he threw it 19.27 metres. What do you say to that?
Erm… Perhaps he used a sling?
[Looking askance at Tuček.] You’ve never used a sling, have you, sir? Just try shooting a 12-pound stone from a sling. It would have to be some sling! I tried it out over two days, sir. I made one and tried, but that stone would fall out of any sling, sir. No, it was thrown by hand. And do you know… do you know what that means? A world record! That’s what it means!
[Amazed.] Steady on!
Yes, a world record. The ball used in shot put is heavier – 7 kilo. And this year’s shot-put record is just a few centimetres short of 16 metres. The previous record of 15.5 metres had lasted for nineteen years, sir. But, this year, some American, can’t remember his name, Kuck or Hirschfeld or something, did a throw of almost 16. So, with a 16-kilo ball that would mean 18 or 19 metres. And here we have 0.27 of a metre more! That fellow, sir, would be able to throw a shot put at least 16.25 metres, even without training. Jesus! Sixteen and a quarter metres! I used to do shot putting myself, sir. In Siberia, the lads were always shouting, “Hejda, throw it over there.” A handgrenade, that’s to say. And in Vladivostok I threw with American sailors. I managed 14 metres, but their chaplain did 15.5. Fourteen and a half was all I could manage. So, 19 metres! Damn it, I said to myself, I have to find that chap. He’ll get us a world record. Just imagine, snuffing out the Americans’ record!”
And what about Pudil?
Sod Pudil! The man I’m searching for, sir, is the unknown fellow who – so to speak – has infringed the world record. That’s a matter of national interest, wouldn’t you say? So, the first thing I do is guarantee him immunity for what happened to Pudil.
I beg your pardon?
Hold on, Sir. Immunity on condition he really can throw a 6-kilo stone across the Sázava. I told the local mayors what an extraordinary achievement that is – one that’d be famous throughout the world. He’d make thousands of pounds from it. And, upon my soul, no sooner had I let it be known, than lads from the whole region left off havesting and hurried off to that river bank to try and throw stones across to the other side. There are hardly any stones left in the embankmnet wall now, so they’re searching for more from field boundaries. They’ve even started knocking down walls. And little boys – the rascals – have started throwing stones in their villages. Lots of chickens killed as a consequence. And of course I goes to the embankment to watch, but none of them manage to throw further than half way across. The river must be half-full of stones by now, sir.
Yesterday afternoon they brings me a lad who, they says, is the one who hit Pudil with the stone. You’ll see the rascal in a minute, sir, he’s waiting outside. “So, Lysický,” I says to him. “Was it you who threw this stone at Pudil?” “Yeah,” he says. “Pudil swore at me, so my blood gets up and I grabs it and throws it.” “Right,” says I, “so now come with me and throw it across the river. And if you can’t I’ll give you what for.” So, off we goes, he stands there on the bank, I gives him the stone – he’s got hands like shovels – he stands there and aims… I must say, no points for technique or style, he don’t even move his legs or his hips. And then – plop! – he throws it maybe 14 metres. Not bad, but… Alright, so I shows him. “Look here, you good-for-nothing! You have to stand like this, right shoulder back, and when you throws you got to whip the shoulder forward, understand?” “Yeah,” he say. Then he twists himself up like St Jan Nepomucký, and – plop! Ten metres.You know, that really made me mad. “You bastard!” I shouts at him. “So, you hit Pudil, did you?! Lying bastard!” “As God is my witness, Sergeant,” he says, “I did hit him. Honest. If he was standing there now I’d hit him again, the swine.” So, when I hears that, sir, I runs round to Pudil and says to him, “Please, Mr Pudil, look, there’s a chance of a world record. Come and swear again from your side of the bank, and that bricklayer will have another go.” But, you’d hardly believe it, sir, Pudil says no, he won’t go there for love nor money. You see, that sort of person only thinks about themselves.So I goes to talk to that Vašek again, the bricklayer. “You swindler,” I says to him. “It weren’t you who knocked down Pudil. Pudil says it were someone else.” Lysický says that’s not true, it really were him. “Show me then,” says I, “that you really can throw that far.” At which, Vašek scratches his head and laughs. “Sergeant,” he says, “I can’t do it cold. I’d have to have Pudil standing there. If he was, I’d hit him every time.” So, I puts it to him straight: “Vašek,” I says, “If you manage it, I’ll let you go. If you don’t, you’ll be done for grievous bodily harm, for crippling Pudil. That’d see you behind bars for half a year, you brute.” And all he says is, “That’s alright, Sergeant. I don’t mind spending the winter in prison.” At which I arrests him in the name of the law.
He’s waiting in the corridor now, sir. Maybe you could find out if he really did throw the stone, or if he’s just boasting. I think you might put the fear of God in him and he’ll admit it weren’t him. In which case, the scoundrel should get at least a month in jail for deceiving the statumentary authorities. Sportsmen aren’t allowed to lie and they should be properly punished if they does. I’ll bring him in.
[Exit HEJDA, returning with VAŠEK.]
So, you’re Václav Lysický. You admit that you threw this stone at František Pudil with the intention of harming him, do you?
Let me explain, Yer Honour. It was like this: That Pudil is beating a boy and I shouts at him across the river to stop it and he starts swearing at me…
Did you throw the stone or not?
Yes, Yer Honour, but he were swearing at me and so I grabs the stone…
Blast it! Why are you lying, man? Don’t you know it’s a serious crime to obstruct the course of justice? We are well aware that you didn’t throw the stone.”
But I did, Yer Honour. Coz Pudil told me to go and get…
[Pointing at Vašek.] Take off your clothes.
[VAŠEK starts to undress.]
And your trousers.
[VAŠEK takes off his trousers. Shivers.]
Look at his deltoids, Hejda. And that long muscle… What do you call it?
That one’s alright, but the muscles of his abdomen aren’t defined enough. You need those muscles for shot putting, sir, for swinging your body. If you’d allow me to show you my abdomen…
No, I don’t think that will be necessary. Well, never mind his stomach, but – my God! – just look at his chest. [Poking his finger into the abundant hairs on Vašek’s chest.] But his legs are weak. These country boys always have bad legs.
Coz they don’t bend them, sir. They’re no good. A shot putter has to have really strong legs.
[VAŠEK turns round.]
What about his back, Hejda?
The upper half is good, but the lower half… far from it. His torso isn’t strong enough. I think it can’t have been him who threw it, sir.
[To Vašek.] Get dressed then.
[VAŠEK gets dressed.]
One last chance: did you throw this stone or not?
Yes. I did.
You ass! You threw it, so that’s grievous bodily harm and that means the regional court, where they’ll sentence you to several months, do you understand? So, stop this boasting and admit it: you made it all up. I’ll sentence you to three days for obstruction of justice and then you can go. So, for the very last time, did you strike Pudil with this stone or not?”
Yes. Coz he starts swearing at me from…
Take him away. The damned liar!
[Exit HEJDA with VAŠEK.]
[Sticking his head through the door.] You forgot to add damage to other people’s property, sir. He took the stone from the embankment, didn’t he? And now there’s none left.
nyone with half a brain will realise that this incident couldn’t have happened here or in France or Germany. As is well known, here and in those countries judges are required to punish wrong-doers according to the letter of the law rather than according to their ineffable acuity as superior gentlemen. This story involves a judge who made a judgement based not on the relevant sections of law but on his trusty common sense. So, as you will see, it has to do with England or, to be more precise, London, or, to be even more precise, Kensington; or perhaps Brompton or Bayswater – anyway, somewhere thereabouts. The judge was His Honour Judge Kelly and the woman who was the object of his ineffable acuity was Mrs Edith Myers.
I should explain that this otherwise respectable lady had aroused the suspicions of Police Inspector McCleary. “My dear,” said McCleary one night to his wife. “I can’t get that Mrs Myers out of my head. I’d love to know how she makes her money. Just imagine: even though it’s winter, she’s still sending her servant to buy asparagus! I’ve also discovered she has about fifteen visitors every day – everything from Covent Garden stall-holders to countesses. And I’m well aware it could all be a front for something else: prostitution, spying or whatever. I need to find out what’s going on.”
“Why don’t you just leave it to me, Bob,” said the redoubtable Mrs McCleary. And so it came to pass that, the very next day, that good lady went to visit Mrs Myers in Bayswater or Marylebone or wherever. Of course she’d taken the precaution of removing her wedding-ring and doing herself up like a young girl – in a mutton-dressed-as-lamb sort of way, I might add. And she pretended to be appropriately nervous as, having rung the bell, she waited to be shown in to Mrs Myers.
“Sit down, my dear child,” said the old lady, after having had a good look at her simpering visitor. “What can I do for you?”
“I…,” spluttered Mrs McCleary. “I… I would like… I’ll be twenty tomorrow and I’d be awfully glad to know what the future holds in store for me.”
“But, Miss… Miss?” asked Mrs Myers, picking up a pack of cards at the same time, and immediately beginning to shuffle them.
“Jones,” said Mrs McCleary, almost in a whisper.
“My dear Miss Jones,” Mrs Myers continued. “I think you’re mistaken. I don’t do card-readings – except, of course, here and there, for old friends, as us old women tend to do. But if you’d like to split the pack into five with your left hand… That’s right… So I do do card readings from time to time, of course, but just for pleasure. Oh look!” she said, as she turned up the first pile. “Diamonds. That means money. And the jack of hearts! That’s a lovely card.”
“Ah,” said Mrs McCleary. “And what next?”
“The jack of diamonds,” said Mrs Myers, as she turned over the second pile. “And the ten of spades. That means travel. But then,” she exclaimed, “we’ve got clubs! Clubs always mean adversity, but here’s the queen of hearts at the end!”
“And what does that mean?” asked Mrs McCleary, trying her hardest to look amazed.
“Diamonds again,” muttered Mrs Myers, turning over the third pile. “My dear child, you’re in for a lot of money. But I’m still not sure whether it’s you who’ll be travelling, or someone close to you.”
“I do have to go and visit my aunt in Southampton,” said Mrs McCleary.
“Oh, it will be further than that,” said Mrs Myers, turning over the fourth pile. “And somebody’s going to try to stop you. An elderly man…”
“Probably my father!” Mrs McCleary exclaimed.
“So there we have it!” said Mrs Myers triumphantly, looking at the upturned fifth pile. “Dear Miss Jones, this is the most beautiful spade I’ve ever seen. Within the year you’ll be married to a fabulously wealthy young man, a millionaire, a businessman – because he travels a lot – but before that you’ll have to overcome difficult obstacles: an elderly gentleman will try to prevent your marriage. So you’ll have to be obstinate. And after you’ve got married you’ll move far away from here, overseas most likely… That will be one guinea, please, for the Christian missions amongst the poor Africans.”
“I’m so grateful to you,” said Mrs McCleary, taking one pound and one shilling from her purse. “Very very grateful. But may I ask, Mrs Myers, what it would cost without the adversity?”
“You can’t bribe a fortune-teller,” the old lady said in a tone of injured dignity. “What does your father do, by the way?”
“He works for the police,” lied the young lady, looking as innocent as she could. “He’s a secret agent.”
“Aha!” said the old lady. She pulled three cards out from the pack. “That’s bad, very bad. Please tell him, my dear child, that he’s in grave danger. He should come to see me to find out more. A lot of Scotland Yard people come and ask me to read the cards for them. And they tell me everything that’s worrying them. So, send him to see me. You say he’s in the political department? Mr Jones? Tell him I’ll be expecting him. Goodbye, my dear Miss Jones… Next please!”
“I don’t like the sound of it,” Mr McCleary said, rubbing the back of his head. “Not at all, Katy. That woman was far too interested in your late father. And apart from that her name isn’t Myers: it’s Meierhof and she’s from Lübeck. A damn German!” he grumbled. “What shall we do about her? I don’t doubt for a moment she’s getting stuff out of people that’s none of her business… I know! I’ll report her to the high-ups.”
And that’s what Mr McCleary did. Somewhat surprisingly the high-ups took it all seriously, and thus it was that Mrs Myers was eventually summoned to appear before His Honour Judge Kelly.
“So, Mrs Myers,” said he, “what’s all this business with the cards?”
“Why do you ask?” said the old lady. “One has to earn one’s keep somehow. At my age I’m hardly going to go and dance in vaudeville!”
“That’s all very well,” said Judge Kelly, “but I’ve had a complaint that you’re not reading the cards properly. And that, my dear Mrs Myers, is just the same as if you were selling bars of clay instead of chocolate. If they’re going to pay a guinea, people are entitled to expect a proper reading. Would you kindly tell me why you’ve set yourself up as a fortune teller when you don’t know how to do it properly?”
“But people don’t complain,” the old lady replied. “The thing is, I tell them things they like to hear. And the pleasure they get from that is surely worth a few shillings. And sometimes I even get it right. Just the other day a lady said to me, ‘No-one has ever read the cards and given me such good advice as you, Mrs Myers!’ She lives in St John’s Wood and is getting a divorce from her husband…”
“But,” said His Honour, “here we have a witness to what you’ve been getting up to. Please tell us about it, Mrs McCleary.”
“Mrs Myers read the cards for me,” said Mrs McCleary. “She told me that within a year I’d be married, that my husband would be a wealthy young man and that we’d move overseas…”
“Why overseas, exactly?” asked the judge.
“Because there was a ten of spades in the second pile, and that means travel,” said Mrs Myers.
“Nonsense!” said the judge. “The ten of spades means good fortune. It’s the jack of spades that means travel; when it comes together with the seven of diamonds, that’s when it means travel to far-away places and good fortune. You can’t pull the wool over my eyes, Mrs Myers! And you told our witness here that within the year she’d marry a wealthy young man. But Mrs McCleary is already married; she married Police Inspector McCleary three years ago, and a fine man he is too. So how do you explain this nonsense, Mrs Myers?”
“Well now,” said the old lady, perfectly calmly. “That’s how it goes sometimes. This person came to me all dolled-up like a silly girl. But I noticed that her left glove was torn. So, someone who’s not rolling in money but wants to give the appearance that she is. And she told me she was twenty, whereas in fact she’s twenty-five…”
“Well, it’s all the same. So she’d like to get married – that’s to say, she made out she was single. So I foresaw a wedding for her and a rich bridegroom. That’s what seemed to me the most appropriate.”
“And what about the adversity?” demanded Mrs McCleary. “The elderly gentleman and the journey abroad?”
“For something more to say,” was Mrs Myers’ simple reply. “For a guinea you have to say more than just a couple of things.”
“I’ve heard all I need to hear,” said the judge. “There’s no getting out of it, Mrs Myers: reading the cards like that is a swindle. Fortune tellers have to understand the cards. It’s true there are various theories about it, but the ten of spades never – and I emphasise the word ‘never’ – means a journey. You will pay a fine of fifty pounds, just like tradespeople who wrongly describe their wares. There’s also a suspicion that you’re a spy, Mrs Myers, but you’re hardly going to own up to that, are you?”
“As God is my witness…,” Mrs Myers began, but His Honour interrupted her. “Never mind: we’ll leave that to one side. But, because you’re a foreigner without proper employment, I shall order the police authorities to expel you from this country. Goodbye, Mrs Myers, and thank you, Mrs McCleary. Fraudulent fortune telling is cynical and dishonest behaviour, Mrs Myers. I hope you’ll learn your lesson.”
About a year later, Judge Kelly happened to meet Police Superintendent McCleary. “Lovely weather we’re having,” said His Honour. “By the way, how’s Mrs McCleary?”
Mr McCleary grimaced. “Well… the thing is, Mr Kelly,” he said, clearly embarrassed, “Mrs McCleary…the thing is… we got divorced.”
“No! Really?” said the judge. “Such an attractive young woman.”
“That was just the problem,” muttered Mr McCleary. “A young dandy took a shine to her. Some sort of millionaire businessman from Melbourne… Of course, I tried to talk sense into her, but…” He waved his hand. “They left for Australia last week.”
(My translation of the short storyA Nova Califórnia, which was written in 1910 and first published in 1915)
No-one knew where he’d come from. All the postman knew was that the letters were sent to him under the name Raimundo Flamel. And there were a lot of letters! Almost every day the postman had to carry a great bundle of them from all over the world, thick journals in obscure languages, books and packets out to the very edge of the town, where the mystery man lived.
So, not surprisingly, when Fabrício, a black man who was the local builder, was summoned to the newcomer’s house about some work that needed doing, everyone in the store wanted to know what it was. “He wants me to build an oven in his dining room,” said Fabrício.
Imagine the surprise of the little town’s inhabitants: an oven in the dining room!
In the following days, Fabrício was able to tell them about the delivery of glass bowls, blunt knives, crucibles – a whole list of things which, when placed on the tables and shelves, made the place look like the Devil’s own kitchen. And that caused quite some apprehension in the town. The more enlightened deduced that the newcomer was a coin forger; the less enlightened, that he was in league with Satan. When Chico da Tirana, the carter, was walking along, beside his creaking cart, by the mystery man’s house, he couldn’t help making the sign of the cross and muttering an “I believe”; and it was thanks only to the apothecary’s efforts that the mayor was dissuaded from ordering a siege of the house – the house that had caused such disquiet among the townsfolk.
Jerônimo Bastos, the apothecary, was alone in deducing from Fabrício’s information that the mystery man was most likely an éminence grise, a great chemist, who had taken refuge in that remote part of the world in order to be able to carry out his scientific studies in peace and quiet. Bastos himself was well-respected in the town: he was a qualified doctor but, because he didn’t like writing prescriptions, he’d become a partner at the apothecary’s to make life easier; and he was also a town councillor.
So Jerônimo’s opinion on the matter eventually calmed the fevered speculation, and people even began to feel quietly proud that such a great chemist had come to live in their town. If they happened to meet him on one of his evening walks around the outskirts – on which he’d take a seat here and there and gaze at the pellucid waters of the brook, or would seem to be lost in crepuscular melancholy – the townsmen would take their hats off to him, and would not infrequently add “Doctor” to “Good evening.”
And it particularly softened people’s hearts when they saw the deep sympathy he had for children: when he looked at them his eyes seemed full of pain at the thought that they’d been born only to suffer and die. Indeed, in the mellow light of evening he seemed like Jesus in his kindness to the children, whether the black children, with their smooth skin and air of sadness, trapped as they were in the swamp of slavery, or the white children, with their unhealthy skin – broken and rough through constant exposure to the malevolent tropical climate. It seemed as if he were wondering why Bernardin de Saint-Pierre had wasted so much sympathy on Paul and Virginie and forgotten about the slaves round about them.
Thus the initial apprehension soon turned into almost general admiration. Almost, because there was still one person who didn’t think much of the newcomer. Captain Pelino, the school master and editor of the Tubiacanga Gazette – which was affiliated to the government party – could be heard expressing sceptical opinions about the éminence grise in their midst.
“Mark my words,” he’d say. “You’ll be sorry when you find out your mistake. He’s a swindler, a chancer… He might even be a bandit on the run from Rio.”
This opinion wasn’t based on anything at all, or rather, it was based on Pelino’s hidden resentment at suddenly having a rival to his own status as local éminence grise. Not that Pelino was a chemist or anything like that; but he was clever and he knew a thing or two about grammar. Nobody could write anything in Tubiacanga without Pelino picking it to bits; and even when there was mention of famous men in Rio he couldn’t resist saying:
“Yes, he’s talented, I’ll give you that. But he writes ‘owing to,’ when it should be ‘due to,’ he starts paragraphs with ‘And’ and ‘But,’ he has paragraphs with only one sentence, and…”
And he’d purse his lips as if he’d just swallowed something unpleasant.
But the whole town of Tubiacanga had respect for the grave and solemn Pelino, given that he could find grammatical mistakes even amongst the country’s most famous authors.
In the evenings, after he’d read a little of Sotero, Candido de Figueiredo or Castro Lopes, and after he’d added some more dye to his hair, he’d saunter out of his house in his Mineiran jacket, with all the buttons done up, and head for the apothecary’s for a bit of chat – although “chat” is not exactly the right word, because he much preferred listening to speaking. It was just that, whenever the smallest linguistic infelicity escaped from a speaker’s lips, he’d immediately call things to order.
For instance the postman might be saying, “We ensured him that…,” and, lo and behold!, with evangelical dedication to the cause, Pelino would interject, “What you’re trying to say, Senhor Bernardes, is ‘assured,’ not ‘ensured.” And the conversation would limp on until the next correction.
As a result there were many would-be conversationalists who preferred to keep their distance, but Pelino, undeterred, persevered in his work as the Apostle of Good Grammar – until, that is, the arrival of the mystery man distracted him somewhat from his mission. All his efforts were now turned towards combatting this rival, who had appeared on the scene so unexpectedly. But Pelino’s eloquent denunciations were in vain: not only did Raimundo Flamel pay his bills on time, he was also generous – a father to the poor – and the apothecary had seen mention of him, in a trade magazine, as a notable chemist.
The chemist had been living in Tubiacanga for some years when, one fine morning, Bastos was surprised and delighted to see him enter his apothecary’s shop. Up until that day, the great man hadn’t deigned to pay anybody a visit and, when Orestes, the sacristan, had once dared to enter his house to request a donation for the forthcoming feast of the Immaculate Conception, he’d had a distinctly frosty reception.
So, as soon as Bastos saw him, he hurried out from behind the counter to greet him in a way that would make it perfectly clear how honoured he was by the visit and, in the most grandiloquent voice he could manage, he declared, “You’re most welcome, Doctor.” But the éminence grise appeared surprised neither by the apothecary’s demonstration of respect, nor by the title of Doctor. Instead, he looked around for a moment at the shelves full of medications and said, “I’d like word with you in private, Senhor Bastos.”
The apothecary was amazed. How could he possibly be of use to a man who was known throughout the world and of whom the learned journals spoke with such awe? Could it be money? Perhaps he’d fallen behind with his rent. Who knows?
As Bastos led the chemist towards the back rooms of the store, his apprentice looked on in surprise, letting the pestle rest in the mortar where he’d been grinding some herbal concoction or other.
Bastos eventually led his guest into a little room at the very back that he used for lengthier medical examinations or for the little operations that he did from time to time. No sooner had they sat down than Flamel started speaking:
“As you probably know, I’m a chemist and am well respected among fellow scientists.”
“I’m well aware of it, Doctor,” replied Bastos, “and I’ve made my friends aware of it as well.”
“Thank you. Well, I’ve made a great, an extraordinary, discovery…”
Embarrassed by his own enthusiasm, the éminence grise paused for a moment.
“…a discovery, but I’m not yet in a position to divulge it to my scientific colleagues, if you understand.”
“For that reason I need three competent people to formally witness a demonstration of it, so that I can patent my invention… You understand, unforeseen things can happen and…”
“Oh! Certainly. Without a doubt.”
“You need to know that it has to do with making gold…”
“What? How?” said Bastos, his eyes almost popping out of his head.
“Yes! Gold!” Flamel replied decisively.
“You’ll find out,” the chemist said drily. “The immediate question – I’m sure you’ll agree – is who the three witnesses should be.”
“Yes, of course. We need to make sure your rights are protected, and therefore…”
“One of them,” the éminence grise interrupted, “will be you. And you’ll do me the favour, Senhor Bastos, of selecting the other two yourself.”
The apothecary was lost in thought for about three minutes as he passed all his acquaintances in review. Finally he asked:
“Will Colonel Bentes do? Do you know him?”
“No, I don’t. You’re probably aware that I’m not really acquainted with anyone in the town.”
“I can guarantee that Bentes is not only rich, but he’s also a serious fellow, and discreet.”
“Is he religious?” Flamel asked briskly. “The reason I ask is that it has to do with bones from corpses. Nothing else will do.”
“Religious? Good heavens no! He’s practically an atheist.”
“Good. Bentes will be the second. And who will be the third?”
Bastos immersed himself in thought once more, and this time he took a little longer as he consulted his memory. Eventually he said:
“Lieutenant Carvalhais, the tax collector. Do you know him?”
“As I said before…”
“So you did… He’s reliable and he’s also a serious chap, but…”
“He’s a freemason.”
“And when will it take place?”
“On Sunday. On Sunday the three of you will come to my house to witness the demonstration and I hope you’ll all lend your signatures to authenticate its veracity.”
“Say no more.”
So, on Sunday, as promised, those three respectable residents of Tubiacanga went to Flamel’s house and, some days later, he disappeared, without trace or explanation.
Tubiacanga was a small town of three or four thousand inhabitants. It was a very quiet place, even though the express trains deigned to stop at its station once in a while. There had been no reports of thefts or burglaries for five years, and the only reason the houses had doors and windows was… because they had them in Rio. And the only entry in the town’s little criminal register in recent years was a murder during the municipal elections; but, because the murderer was a member of the government party, and his victim was of the opposition, the event in no way altered the town’s habits: it continued exporting its coffee beans, and its low, unassuming houses continued to be reflected in the meagre waters of the little river that had given it its name.
So it was with stunned incomprehension that, all of a sudden, the town found itself the scene of one of the most horrible crimes imaginable. Not a lynching or a parricide, not the murder of an entire family or an attack on the revenue office. It was something much worse, a sacrilege in the eyes of any religion and any conscience: the graves in the town’s “Sossego Graveyard” – in that holy ground – had been violated.
At first the gravedigger thought it must have been dogs, but all he could find were small holes when he inspected the wall. And, even after he’d filled those up, the desecration continued. On the very next day a tomb was smashed and the bones stolen; and the day after that, a marked and an unmarked grave. It was either people or the devil.
This was beyond anything the gravedigger could cope with, so he reported it to the mayor, after which the news quickly spread through the town. The outrage was, understandably, immense. The Religion of Death is the top religion and it will certainly be the last one to die out. The Presbyterians – or the bible-bashers as they’re more commonly called – condemned this profanation; it was condemned by the former cadet Agrimensol Nicolau, who was a religious positivist of the Teixeira Mendes variety; it was condemned by Major Camanho, who was president of the New Hope Lodge; it was condemned by the Turk Miguel Abudala, the haberdasher, and by the one-time student Belmiro, who was a sceptic and took each day as it came, drinking cachaça in the pubs. Even the daughter of the resident railway engineer, the beautiful and aloof Cora, who couldn’t stand the place, who wouldn’t demean herself by noticing the impassioned looks of the local youths, and who was forever hoping that the next express would bring a prince who would carry her away and make her his princess, even she could not help but share the indignation and horror that the crime had provoked in all the townsfolk. Which was remarkable, because what had she to do with the graves of old slaves and country bumpkins? How could the destiny of such common bones possibly interest her beautiful dark eyes? And why should their theft disturb her dream of being the centre of attention on the pavements in Rio? No, there was no reason.
But it was Death, the Implacable and the Omnipotent, to whom even she realised she was enslaved and who, one day, would carry off even her beautiful skeleton to the eternal peace of the graveyard. And, that being so, she really wanted her bones, after the worms had had the pleasure of her flesh, to lie quietly, peacefully and comfortably in a well-made coffin beneath a well-built tomb…
But the person who outdid all the others in outrage was Pelino. The schoolmaster wrote an editorial in the following fulminating style:
“Never, in the history of crime, even though that history is replete with repugnant facts, e.g.: the hanging, drawing and quartering of Maria de Macedo, the death by strangling of the Fuoco brothers, never has there been a crime to compare with that of the Sossego grave robbery…”
So the town was at sixes and sevens. Worry was etched on every face, business paralysed, courtship suspended. For days without end black clouds hung over the houses and, at night, everyone could hear supernatural noises, murmurings and groans. It seemed as if the dead were pleading for vengeance…
But the robberies continued. Every night, two or three graves were opened and emptied of their funereal contents, as a result of which the townsfolk decided to go there en masse to guard the bones of their loved ones. It didn’t take long, however, for tiredness and sleep to take a toll: first one person took himself off, then another until, by dawn, not one vigilante remained. Thus, even on that night, the gravedigger found that two graves had been opened and the bones whisked away.
So they organised special guards: ten doughty men took an oath before the mayor that they’d guard the mansion of the dead during the night. On the first night nothing unusual occurred, nor on the second, nor on the third; but, on the fourth, when the guards were already beginning to doze, one of them thought he’d caught sight of a figure slipping between the gravestones.
The guards immediately made chase and they managed to catch two of the vampires. Their pent-up fury was such that they could no longer contain themselves and they gave the macabre thieves such a beating that they left them more dead than alive.
The news of the capture spread like wildfire and it was in front of the whole population that, in the morning, the villains’ identities came to be revealed: Tax Collector Carvalhais and Colonel Bentes, a rich farmer and president of the Assembly. The latter was still alive and, under repeated questioning, he said he’d taken the bones to turn them into gold. And not only that: he said he’d had a third accomplice – the apothecary.
The effect of this revelation was electric. How could gold be made out of bones? Surely it wasn’t possible! But how would that rich and well-respected man have turned into a grave robber, were it not true?
And if it was true, if those miserable human remains could be turned into something so valuable, how could that possibly not be a good thing for everyone! The postman, who had long dreamt of sending his daughter to university, immediately saw a way of making his dream come true. Castrioto, the court clerk, who had managed to buy a house the previous year, but hadn’t been able to put a wall around his garden and his animals, now saw a way of doing so. Marques, the smallholder, who’d been wanting for years to get hold of a decent piece of land, was thinking of Costa’s meadow, where his oxen would wax fat and strong…
Dead bones that could turn into gold would more than meet the needs of every single one of them. And it didn’t take long before that crowd of two or three thousand men, women and children were running pell-mell, as if they were one person, to the apothecary’s house. It was all the mayor could do to stop them ransacking the place and to make them wait outside in the square, waiting for the man who possessed the secret of this new Potosí.
That man didn’t take long to appear. Climbing on to a chair at the front of his store – a little bar of gold glinting in his hand –, Bastos begged for mercy and promised he’d tell them the secret, if only they’d spare his life.
“We want to know it now!” they shouted.
So he told them he’d have to copy out the formula, with the reagents, and specify the stages; it would take him a long time and he wouldn’t be able to hand it to them until the following day. At this there was an ominous muttering in the crowd, and some of them began shouting; but the mayor said he’d take it upon himself to ensure that Bastos kept his word. That did the trick, and everyone – with that peculiar meekness that can sometimes take hold of furious crowds – headed for home, with just one thought in their heads: how to get hold of as many bones of the deceased as possible.
In the meantime the news had even reached the house of the resident railway engineer. There was conversation about nothing else at the dinner table. After concatenating in his head a few things he remembered from his university course, the engineer declared it impossible: it was just alchemy, a defunct science; gold is gold, a single substance, and bone is bone, a compound mainly comprising calcium phosphate. To think you could make one thing out of another was “bonkers”.
Cora took the opportunity to laugh, in a metropolitan way, at the primitiveness and cruelty of these backwoodsmen, but her mother, Dona Emília, was inclined to think it might be true.
Nevertheless, when, at night, the engineer perceived that his wife was asleep, he jumped out of the window and ran off in the direction of the graveyard. Cora, in her bare feet, and holding her slippers in her hands, went to look for the maid, to get her to accompany her to the bone harvest; but, as she couldn’t find her, she went on her own. Meanwhile, Dona Emília had woken up and, finding herself alone, guessed what had happened and headed off in the same direction.
And this happened throughout the whole town: without saying anything to his son, the father left; hoping to fool her husband, the wife left; sons, daughters, servants – the whole population ran, under the dreamlike light of the stars, to their satanic rendezvous at the Sossego. And no-one was missing: the richest and the poorest were there; the Turk Miguel was there, as was Pelino, the schoolmaster, and Dr Jerônimo, and Major Camanho, and Cora – the stunningly beautiful Cora, whose lovely alabasterine fingers were even now digging away at the dirt of the graves, pulling away the rotting flesh that still clung tenaciously to bones, and clasping those bones to her virginal bosom. It was her dowry she was collecting and her nostrils, so delicately pearlescent, didn’t even notice the stench of the rotting remains and the putrid mud.
It didn’t take long, however, for discord to break out: there were not enough dead to satisfy the hunger of the living. There were blows, stabbings, gunshots. The only ones who weren’t fighting were the postman and his eleven-year-old son, who were working as a team. The boy was a bright lad. “Daddy!” he said, “Let’s go to Mummy’s grave, she was so big.”
In the morning there were more dead bodies lying on the graveyard than had ever lain under it during the thirty years of its existence. The only person who had not been there, who had not taken part in the killing, and who had not profaned any graves, was Belmiro, the drunkard. Entering into an untended shop he filled his bottle with cachaça and went off for a drinking session on the bank of the River Tubiacanga, where he watched its waters gliding over the rough, granite bed. Both of them – he and the river – were indifferent to what they had just witnessed, and even to the escape of the apothecary, carrying away his Potosi and his secret, under the eternal canopy of the stars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(The following biographical details have been translated from the [now defunct] Casa Lima Barreto website.)
Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto was born in Rio de Janeiro on 13 May 1881 and died in the same city on 1 November 1922. The son of a typographer at the National Printing Works and of a state-school teacher, he was of mixed race. He was taught at first by his own mother, who died when he was seven. Through the influence of his godfather, Viscount Ouro Preto, an imperial minister, he completed his studies at the Pedro II National School, from where he went, in 1897, to the Polytechnic with the intention of studying to be an engineer. He had to give up his course, however, in order to become the breadwinner at home, after his father – bursar at the Colony for the Insane on Governador Island – himself became mentally ill in 1902. In the same year he had his first work published in the student press. The family moved to the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Engenho de Dentro, where the future writer decided to take part in a public examination for a vacancy in the Ministry of War. He came second but, because the first-placed candidate withdrew, he was able to take up the post, which he did in 1903.
Because his salary was only small, the family moved to a modest house in the suburb of Todos os Santos in which, in 1904, he began the first version of his novel Clara dos Anjos (Clara of the Angels). In the following year he began his novel Recordações do escrivão Isaías Caminha (Memoirs of the Clerk Isaías Caminha), which was published in Lisbon in 1909. He also published a series of reports in the Correio da Manhã newspaper and commenced the novel Vida e morte de M. J. Gonzaga de Sá (Life and Death of M. J. Gonzaga de Sá), which was not published until 1919. He participated in the Fon-Fon magazine and in 1907, together with some friends, launched the Floreal magazine, which survived for only four numbers but attracted the attention of the literary critic José Veríssimo. During this period he devoted himself to reading, in the National Library, the great names of world literature, including the European realist writers of the period; he was one of the few Brazilian writers who became familiar with the works of the Russian novelists.
In 1910 he was a juryman in a trial that condemned some soldiers involved in a student’s murder, an incident that came to be called ‘The Spring of Blood’; as a result he was passed over when it came to any possibilities of promotion in the secretariat of war. In the space of three months, in 1911, he wrote the novel Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma (The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma), which was published in instalments in the Jornal do Comércio, for which he wrote, and also in the Gazeta da Tarde. In 1912 he published two instalments of the Aventuras do Dr. Bogoloff (The Adventures of Dr. Bogoloff), in addition to little humorous books, one of them printed in the O Riso magazine.
Although alcoholism was beginning take hold of him, it did not prevent him from continuing to work for the press and, in 1914, he commenced a series of daily feuilletons in the Correio da Noite. In 1915 the A Noite newspaper published his novel Numa e a ninfa (Numa and the Nymph) in instalments, and he began a long phase of work with the Careta magazine, writing political articles on various topics. In the first months of 1916, the novel Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma appeared as a book, together with some notable short stories such as ‘A Nova Califórnia’ (New California) and ‘O homem que sabia javanês’ (The Man who Spoke Javanese); these were warmly received by the critics, who saw Lima as a true successor to Machado de Assis. He began writing for the political weekly A.B.C. After being hospitalised in July 1917, he delivered to his editor, J. Ribeiro dos Santos, the manuscript of Os Bruzundangas (The Bruzundangans – Bruzundanga being Lima’s satirical name for Brazil), which was not published until a month after his death, in 1922.
He applied for a vacancy in the Brazilian Academy of Letters, but his application was not even considered. He published the second edition of Isaías Caminha and, subsequently, the novel Numa e a ninfa in book form. He started publishing articles and feuilletons in the alternative press of the period: A Lanterna, A.B.C. and Brás Cubas, which published an article of his showing sympathy for the revolutionary cause in Russia. After being diagnosed with toxic epilepsy, he was pensioned off in December 1918 and he moved to another house in the Rua Major Mascarenhas in Todos os Santos, where he lived until his death.
At the beginning of 1919 he ceased his collaboration with the A.B.C. weekly, because he took issue with an article it published criticising the blacks. He published the novel Vida e morte de M. J. Gonzaga de Sá, which was personally edited and sent for typing by the editor Monteiro Lobato; this was the only one of Lima’s books to receive such standard editorial care and for which he was well paid; it was also well advertised, being praised by both old and new literary critics, such as João Ribeiro and Alceu Amoroso Lima. At this time he applied once more for a vacancy at the Brazilian Academy of Letters; on this occasion his application was accepted, but he was not elected, although he received the permanent vote of João Ribeiro. Under the title of ‘As mágoas e sonhos do povo’ (The People’s Sufferings and Dreams), he started publishing, in the Hoje magazine, weekly feuilletons of so-called ‘urban folklore’ and he entered into a second phase of collaboration with Careta, which lasted until his death.
From December 1919 to January 1920 he was hospitalised in consequence of a nervous breakdown, an experience recounted in the first chapters of the memoir O cemitério dos vivos (The Cemetery of the Living), which was not published until 1953, when it was issued in a single volume together with his Diário íntimo (Intimate Diary). In December 1920 Gonzaga de Sá was short-listed for the literary prize of the Brazilian Academy of Letters for the best book of the previous year; it received an honourable mention. In the same month, the short-story book Histórias e sonhos (Stories and Dreams) was published, and the manuscript of Marginália (Odds and Ends), comprising articles and feuilletons already published in periodicals, was delivered to his friend, the editor F. Schettino; the manuscript was lost, however, and the book did not come to be published until 1953.
A section of O Cemitério dos vivos was published in January 1921 in the Revista Souza Cruz, under the title ‘As origens’ (The Origins); but the work remained incomplete. In April of that year he went to the little town of Mirassol in the State of São Paulo, where a doctor friend of his, Ranulfo Prata, who was also a writer, tried to put him together again, but in vain. With his health badly undermined, he turned into a sort of recluse in his little house in Todos os Santos, where friends came to visit him and where his sister Evangelina looked after him devotedly. Whenever possible, however, he would embark on another walk through the city he loved, keeping reading, meditation and writing for home, despite the constant presence of his father’s madness, which got worse through a series of crises.
In July 1921 Lima applied for a vacancy in the Brazilian Academy of Letters for the third time, but he withdrew his application for ‘entirely personal and private reasons.’ He delivered the manuscript of Bagatelas (Trifles) to the publisher; this book was a collection of his principal journalistic work from 1918 to 1922, in which he analysed, with rare vision and clarity, the problems of the country and of the world after the 1st World War. However, Bagatelas was not published until 1923. In November 1921 he published, in the Revista Souza Cruz, the text of a speech ‘O destino da literatura’ (‘The Destiny of Literature’) that he had been due to make – but had not managed to do so – in the town of Rio Preto, near Mirassol. In December he began work on the second version of his novel Clara dos Anjos, which he finished the following January. The manuscript for Feiras e mafuás (One Thing and Another) was delivered for publication, which did not happen until 1953.
In May 1922 the magazine O Mundo Literário published the first chapter of Clara dos Anjos, ‘O carteiro’ (The Postman). His health was declining steadily as a result of rheumatism and alcoholism amongst other things, and Lima suffered heart failure and died on 1 November 1922. They found him holding the copy of the Revue des Deux Mondes – his favourite journal – which he had just been reading. Two days later, his father died. They were both buried in the São João Batista cemetery, in accordance with Lima’s wishes.
In 1953 a publisher issued some volumes of his unpublished works. But it was only in 1956, under the direction of Francisco de Assis Barbosa and with the collaboration of Antônio Houaiss and M. Cavalcanti Proença, that all his work was published in 17 volumes; these comprised all the novels mentioned above and also the following titles that were not published during his life: Os bruzundangas, Feiras e mafuás, Impressões de leitura (Literary Impressions), Vida urbana (City Life), Coisas do reino de Jambon (A Report from the Kingdom of Jambon), Diário íntimo, Marginália, Bagatelas, O cemitério dos vivos and two further volumes containing all his correspondence – both letters sent and letters received. In the following decades Lima has been the subject of many studies, both in Brazil and abroad. His works, particularly his novels and short stories, have been translated into English, French, Russian, Spanish, Czech, Japanese and German. He has been the subject of doctoral theses in the United States and Germany. To mark the centenary of his birth in 1981, conferences were held about him throughout Brazil, resulting in the publication of innumerable books, including essays, bibliographies and psychological studies of the author and his works. There is currently a growing interest in him among new Brazilian writers, who see him as a pioneer of the sociological novel. His literary production, which is vast in view of his early death, is gaining him – quite rightly – more and more distinction.
Translator’s note: In an obituary for Lima in the Jornal do Brasil on 5 November 1922 , Coelho Neto – who had given the oration at Machado’s funeral in 1908 – described him as:
one of the best novelists Brazil has had, who observed things with the power and precision of a microscope, and who wrote with magisterial assurance, describing ordinary life like no one else has done. Just as he was neglectful of himself, of his own life, so was Lima Barreto neglectful of the work he constructed, not seeking to correct its defects of language, presenting it just as it flowed from his pen, without the necessary revision, the indispensable polishing, the definitive final touch which a work of art needs. Despite everything, however, what has remained to us of this man is worth so much by way of observation of life and depiction of characters that the rough edges cannot destroy the beauty: sometimes they compromise it here and there but only in the same way that a wall with stains and cracks can affect the harmony of a fresco, but cannot negate the magnificence of the painting.
Despite the nit-picking, this might be considered gracious in view of the virulent criticisms made of Coelho Neto by Lima.
What was my greatest success? Hm… Well, the success of which I’m most proud…
[As well as being old, Leonard Unden was a famous poet, a Nobel Laureat etc.]
When you get to my age, my young friends, you no longer care about honours, applause, lovers and suchlike nonsense. All of that is in the distant past. When you’re young, you’re up for all sorts of fun and you’d be stupid not to be. But – here’s the rub – when you’re young you hardly have the means to enjoy anything. That’s why life should really be the other way round. You should start off old and put in a full stint of proper work, because that’s all you’re good for. And only after that should you become young, so you can enjoy the fruits of your long life. So, there you have it – an old man’s confession.
But what was I talking about… Ah, yes, my greatest success. And I can tell you this: it wasn’t any of my books or plays, even though there was a time – believe it or not – when people did actually read them! No, my greatest success was the Selvin case.
Well, of course, you won’t know what that was all about: it happened twenty-six years ago – no, more, twenty-nine. So, one fine day twenty-nine years ago, a little white-haired lady in a black dress came to see me. I used to be renowned for my affability in those days, but before I could ask her how I could help she sank to her knees before me and burst into tears. (I don’t know about you, but I can’t bear to see a woman cry.)
After I’d calmed her down a bit, the words poured out of her:
“You’re a poet, sir, and you’re a good man. Please, I beg you, save my son! You must have read about him in the papers. Frank Selvin…”
I think I must have looked like a bearded baby back then. I did read the papers, but I hadn’t noticed anything about a Frank Selvin. What I could make out, in between all her whimpering and sniffling, was that her only son, Frank Selvin, who was twenty-two years old, had just been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his aunt Sofie while trying to rob her. And the jury had considered his plea of innocence nothing more than an aggravation of the crime.
“But he really is innocent, sir. I can swear to it. That fateful evening he said to me, ‘I’ve got a headache, Mum, so I’m going for a walk out in the fields.’ That’s why he couldn’t prove his alibi, sir. Who would notice a young lad in the night, even if he met him? My Frantík was a bit of a gad-about – I won’t deny it – but you were young once too, sir. He’s only twenty-two. And all that life ahead of him has been destroyed.”
And so she continued. Listen, if you’d seen that broken, white-haired mother, you’d have realised what I realised: that impotent sympathy is a terrible thing. Well, what can I say? It ended up with me assuring her I’d do absolutely everything I could to get to the truth of the matter. And that I believed her son was innocent. When she got to her feet again and made the sign of the cross over me, I almost felt like kneeling down in front of her. You probably know how soppy one can look when turned into an object of such reverence.
So, I made it my job to look into the Frank Selvin case. First of all, of course, I studied the files. And I have to say, I’d never come across such a catalogue of errors. It was simply scandalous. The case was really quite straightforward: one night, Miss Sofie’s maid, fifty-year old Anna Solarová – who, let’s say, wasn’t exactly the brightest button – heard someone walking in Miss Sofie’s bedroom. So she went to see why the lady wasn’t asleep and, when she entered the room, she saw the window wide open and a man jumping out of it into the garden. Whereupon she screamed blue murder, and when the neighbours came with a torch they found Miss Sophie’s body on the bedroom floor – strangled with her own towel. The cupboard where she kept her money was open, the clothes had been thrown about, but the money was still there – evidently the maid had disturbed the murderer at that very moment. So, those were the facts of the case.
Frank Selvin was arrested the next day, the maid having testified that she’d recognised the man who jumped from the window. It was ascertained he wasn’t at home at the time: he’d returned about half an hour later and had gone straight to bed. It also came to light that the careless fellow had got into debt. And not only that, but a local gossip, who was flattered to find herself in the limelight, testified that, a few days before the murder, Miss Sofie told her something in confidence: namely, that her nephew Frank had visited her to beg for a few hundred crowns. And when she refused – she was a terrible old skinflint – Frank had said to her, “Just you be careful, Auntie; something’s awful’s going to happen.”
And that was everything as far as Frank was concerned.
Now the trial. It was all over in half a day. Frank pleaded innocence, claiming he’d gone out for a walk and had returned straight home and gone to bed. None of the witnesses were cross-examined, and the defence barrister – who was provided by the court gratis, given that Mrs Selvinová couldn’t afford to pay for a better one – was a harmless old fool, who merely appealed to the jury, with tears in his eyes, to bear in mind the tender age of his imprudent client. Even the prosecution barrister didn’t go to too much trouble: he just reminded the jury they’d let off the two previous defendents, and what would happen to society if every criminal was found not guilty because of a lack of backbone on the part of the people’s judges? And it looks like the jury were impressed with that argument and were only too anxious to demonstrate that each and every one of them really did have a backbone. Anyway, Frank Selvin was found guilty by unanimity. And that was that.
When I discovered all this I was furious, even though I’m not a lawyer – or perhaps precisely because I’m not a lawyer. Just imagine: the star witness is a bit dim; the night – as I discovered later – was very dark, so she couldn’t have had any certainty about the man’s identiity. I know very well that, in the dark, it’s even difficult to ascertain how big a person is. And not only that, but Anna Solarová absolutely hated Frank Selvin – evidently he uses to call her ‘fair Hebe,’ which she, for some reason, regarded as an unforgivable insult.
Secondly, Miss Sofie hated her sister, so much so that they no longer spoke to each other, and Miss Sofie wouldn’t even mention Frank’s mother by name. If she did say Frank had threatened her, it could very well have been no more than yet another way for the old spinster to belittle her sister. As for Frank himself, he’d been doing reasonably well: he was an office clerk; he had a girlfriend, to whom he wrote sentimental letters and poor poems, and he fell into debt through – as one says – no fault of his own, or rather, because he was inclined to get sentimentally drunk. His mother was a wonderful woman, but ground down by cancer, poverty and sorrow.
So, that’s how things were when one took a closer look.
Of course, you won’t have any idea what a terrier I was in those days! When my blood was up, nothing could stop me. So I wrote a series of articles for the newspapers, titled ‘The Frank Selvin Case,’ in which I set out, point by point, the unreliability of the witnesses, especially the star witness; I analysed the discrepancies and bias in their testimonies; I showed how absurd it was to think the star witness could have recognised the murderer; and I demonstrated the utter incompetence of the judge and the crude demagogery of the prosecution barrister. But even all that didn’t satisfy me: I began attacking the whole justice system – the criminal code, the way juries were organised, the indifference and arrogance of the authorities.
Well, you won’t be surprised that this caused quite a brouhaha. I was pretty well known in those days, and the young people were firmly on my side. One evening, there was even a demonstration outside the courthouse. And that’s when Selvin’s defence barrister hurried over to see me: what on earth was I up to?! He’d appealed on the grounds of procedural irregularity and was confident the sentence would be reduced to just a few years. But now, not wishing to look as if it was giving in to the mob, the court would almost certainly refuse his appeal.
I told that bumptious barrister that, for me, it was no longer just a matter of the Selvin case: it was a matter of truth and justice. But he was right: the appeal was refused.
Nevertheless, the judge had to retire. And that’s when I really got stuck into it. Even today, I’d still say it was a crusade for justice. Many things have improved since those days of course. I think people who have a long memory might admit I’ve had some part in helping to bring that about. The Selvin case got mentioned in the press around the world; I gave lectures to workers in pubs and to delegates at international congresses. ‘Justice for Selvin’ became just as familiar a slogan as ‘No more war’ or ‘Votes for Women.’ But, for me, it was always a struggle against the state. With the young people on my side. When Selvin’s mother died, seventeen thousand people followed the coffin of that careworn little lady. And I spoke, like I’ve never spoken before or since, above the open grave. God knows, my friends, inspiration is a strange and awful thing.
I spent seven years fighting for justice, and it finished me off. It was the Selvin case, not my books, that gained me a certain world renown. People call me ‘The Sword of Justice’, ‘The Truth Sayer’ etcetera, and maybe something of that will appear on my gravestone in due course. And maybe, say, fourteen years after my death, children will be taught how the poet Leonard Unden fought for the truth. And then it will all be forgotten.
Seven years after the event, Anna Solarová, the star witness, died, but not before tearfully confessing that her conscience was weighing on her: she’d given false testimony at the trial; she couldn’t say with any certainty that the murderer in the window was Frank Selvin. The priest – a kindly fellow – came to tell me, but by then I had a better idea about the way things are in this world. So, instead of going to the press with it, I sent the priest to the court. Within a week, the case against Frank Selvin was reconvened, and within a month he was standing before a jury once more. One of the best barristers in the country took on the case for free and smashed the charges to smithereens. After which the prosecution barrister recommended the jury to free the accused. And all twelve members of the jury decided Frank Selvin was innocent.
So there you have it: my greatest achievement. No other success gave me such satisfaction – or, at the same time, such a feeling of emptiness. You see, the truth is that, a day after the original verdict was overturned, I was told a man wanted to speak to me.
“I’m Frank Selvin,” he said, standing in the door of my study. And, difficult though it is to explain, I felt a sort of disappointment: a disappointment that my Mr Selvin looked like… like a lottery agent – rather tubby, and pale, balding, sweating slightly and perfectly ordinary. Not to mention that he stank of beer.
“Maestro,” he stuttered – Can you imagine he actually addressed me as “Maestro”! I felt like kicking him. – “I’ve come to thank you… as my greatest benefactor… I’m indebted to you for my whole life. Any words of thanks will be inadequate…” (He seemed to have learnt all this off by heart.)
“But it was no more than my duty,” I interrupted, “as soon as I became convinced they’d condemned you unjustly.”
Frank Selvin shook his head. “Maestro,” he muttered, “I don’t want to lie to my benefactor. I did kill that old crow.”
I leapt up from my chair. “So why didn’t you admit it in court?!”
Frank Selvin gave me a cunning look. “But that was my right, wasn’t it, Maestro? The accused has the right to deny the charge, doesn’t he?”
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I felt completely deflated. “So what do you want?” I growled.
“I’ve just come to thank you for your kindness,” he replied, in a voice of feigned gratitude. “You looked after my poor mother as well. May God bless you, noble bard.”
“Get out!” I yelled, at which he was down the stairs and away in no time.
Three weeks later he stopped me in the street. He was rather drunk and I couldn’t manage to get shot of him, let alone understand what he wanted. Keeping a firm grip of one of the buttons of my coat, he said I’d spoilt it for him. If I hadn’t written about his case in the first place, the barrister’s appeal on the grounds of procedural irregularity wouldn’t have been refused and he wouldn’t have had to spend seven years in prison. So I should, at the very least, be aware of the reduced circumstances he now found himself in as a result of my poking my nose in.
In short, I couldn’t manage to get rid of him until I gave him a couple of hundred crowns.
“God bless you, my benefactor,” said Mr Selvin, with tears in his eyes.
The next time I met him he was rather more threatening: thanks to his case, I’d garnered some fame and fortune, so how come he’d got nothing out of it himself? I tried to convince him I didn’t owe him anything but, in the end, I handed over some more money.
Ever since then he started turning up more frequently. Sitting on my sofa and sighing, complaining that he was wracked with guilt for snuffing out the old crow. “I’d hand myself in, Maestro, if it wasn’t that you’d be publicly shamed at the same time. So, I don’t know how I can find peace.”
Believe you me, his guilty conscience must have been the most terrible torment for him, judging by how much I had to cough up to help him bear that load. In the end I bought him a ticket to sail to America. Whether he finally found peace there or not, I don’t know.
So that was the greatest success of my life. When you come to write my obituary, dear friends, please say that the Selvin case is engraved in gold letters, undying gratitude etc.
Wɖ dsper—cold, śarp dsper—berid dīp in hr hart lîc a wicid nîf, Mis Medoz, in cap n gǎn n cariyñ a litl batn, trod ɖ cold coṛdorz ɖt léd t ɖ ḿzichōl. Grlz v ol ejz, rozi fṛm ɖ er, n buḅlñ ovr wɖ ɖt glīfl xîtmnt ɖt cmz fṛm runñ t scūl on a fîn ōtm̦ornñ, hurid, scipt, flutrd bî; fṛm ɖ holo clasrūmz cem a qc drumñ v vôsz; a bel rañ; a vôs lîc a brd craid, “Ḿrịl.” N ɖen ɖr cem fṛm ɖ sterces a tṛmnḍs noc-noc-nocñ. Smwn hd dropt hr dumbelz.
Ɖ Saynsmistris stopt Mis Medoz.
“Gd mor-nñ,” ś craid, in hr swīt, afctd drōl. “Z’nt it cold? It mt b win-tr.”
Mis Medoz, hugñ ɖ nîf, stérd in hetrid at ɖ Saynsmistris. Evrʈñ abt hr wz swīt, pel, lîc huni. Y wd nt hv bn s’prîzd t si a bì còt in ɖ tanglz v ɖt yelo her.
“It z rɖr śarp,” sd Mis Medoz, grimli.
Ɖ uɖr smîld hr śŭġri smîl.
“Y lc fro-zn,” sd ś. Hr blu îz opnd wîd; ɖr cem a mocñ lît in ɖm. (Hd ś notist enʈñ?)
“Ǒ, nt qt az bad az ɖt,” sd Mis Medoz, n ś gev ɖ Saynsmistris, in xćenj fr hr smîl, a qc grimis n pást on…
Formz For, Fîv, n Six wr asmbld in ɖ ḿzichōl. Ɖ nôz wz def̣nñ. On ɖ platform, bî ɖ piano, std Mẹri Bīzli, Mis Medoz’ feṿrit, hu pleid acumṗnimnts. Ś wz trnñ ɖ ḿzicstūl. Ẃn ś sw Mis Medoz ś gev a lǎd, wornñ “Ś-ś! grlz!” n Mis Medoz, hr handz ʈrust in hr slīvz, ɖ batn undr hr arm, stroud dǎn ɖ sntr ail, mǎntd ɖ steps, trnd śarpli, sizd ɖ bras ḿzicstand, plantd it in frunt v hr, n gev tū śarp taps wɖ hr batn fr sîḷns.
“Sîḷns, plīz! Imīɉtli!” n, lcñ at nbdi, hr glans swept ovr ɖt sì v culrd flanl blǎzz, wɖ bobñ pnc fesz n handz, qiṿrñ buṭflî herboz, n ḿzic-bcs ǎtspred. Ś ń prf̣cli wel ẃt ɖe wr ʈncñ. “Mīdi z in a wax.” Wel, let ɖm ʈnc it! Hr îlidz qivrd; ś tóst hr hed, dfayñ ɖm. Ẃt cd ɖ ʈōts v ɖoz crīćrz matr t smwn hu std ɖr blīdñ t deʈ, pirst t ɖ hart, t ɖ hart, bî sć a letr—
… “I fīl mor n mor stroñli ɖt ǎr marij wd b a mstec. Nt ɖt I d nt luv y. I luv y az mć az it z poṣbl fr m t luv eni wmn, bt, truʈ t tel, I hv cm t ɖ cncluźn ɖt I am nt a mariyñ man, n ɖ îdīa v seṭlñ dǎn filz m wɖ nʈñ bt—” n ɖ wrd “dsgust” wz scraćt ǎt lîtli n “rgret” ritn ovr ɖ top.
Bazl! Mis Medoz stōct ovr t ɖ piano. N Mẹri Bīzli, hu wz wêtñ fr ɖs momnt, bnt fwd; hr crlz fél ovr hr ćīcs ẃl ś briɖd, “Gd mornñ, Mis Medoz,” n ś mośnd twdz rɖr ɖn handd t hr mistris a bytifl yelo cṛsanʈ̇mm. Ɖs litl rićl v ɖ flǎr hd bn gn ʈru fr ejz n ejz, qt a trm n a haf. It wz az mć part v ɖ lésn az oṗnñ ɖ piano. Bt ɖs mornñ, instd v tecñ it p, instd v tucñ it intu hr blt ẃl ś lent ovr Mẹri n sd, “Ʈanc y, Mẹri. Hǎ vri nîs! Trn t pej ʈrti-tū,” ẃt wz Mẹri’z horr ẃn Mis Medoz toṭli ignord ɖ cṛsanʈ̇mm, md no rplî t hr grītñ, bt sd in a vôs v îs, “Pej fortīn, plīz, n marc ɖ axnts wel.”
Staġrñ momnt! Mẹri bluśt untl ɖ tirz std in hr îz, bt Mis Medoz wz gn bac t ɖ ḿzicstand; hr vôs rañ ʈru ɖ ḿzichōl.
“Pej fortīn. W wl bgin wɖ pej fortīn. ‘A L’mnt.’ Nǎ, grlz, y òt t nǒ it bî ɖs tîm. W śl tec it ol tgɖr; nt in parts, ol tgɖr. N wɖt xpreśn. Sñ it, ɖo, qt simpli, bìtñ tîm wɖ ɖ left hand.”
Ś rezd ɖ batn; ś tapt ɖ ḿzicstand twîs. Dǎn cem Mẹri on ɖ oṗnñ cōrd; dǎn cem ol ɖoz left handz, bìtñ ɖ er, n in ćîmd ɖoz yuñ, mōrnfl vôsz:—
Fast! Ā, tù Fast Fed ɖ Ro-o-zz v Pleźr; Sn Ōtm yīldz untu Wi-i-ntr Drir. Flītli! Ā, Flītli Ḿ-ḿ-zic’s Ge Meźr Pasz awe fṛm ɖ Liṣnñ Ir.
Gd Hevnz, ẃt cd b mor trajic ɖn ɖt l’mnt! Evri not wz a sai, a sob, a gron v ōfl mōrnflnis. Mis Medoz liftd hr armz in ɖ wîd gǎn n bgan cnductñ wɖ bʈ handz. “… I fīl mor n mor stroñli ɖt ǎr marij wd b a mstec…” ś bìt. N ɖ vôsz craid: Flītli! Ā, Flītli. Ẃt cd hv pzest him t rait sć a letr! Ẃt cd hv léd p t it! It cem ǎt v nʈñ. Hiz last letr hd bn ol abt a fymd-oc bc̦es h hd bòt fr “ǎr” bcs, n a “nati litl hōlstand” h hd sìn, “a vri nīt afer wɖ a carvd ǎl on a bracit, holdñ ʈri hatbruśz in its clwz.” Hǎ ś hd smîld at ɖt! So lîc a man t ʈnc wn nīdd ʈri hat-bruśz! Fṛm ɖ Liṣnñ Ir, sañ ɖ vôsz.
“Wns agn,” sd Mis Medoz. “Bt ɖs tîm in parts. Stl wɖt xpreśn.” Fast! Ā, tù Fast. Wɖ ɖ glūm v ɖ cntraltoz add, wn cd scersli hlp śuḍrñ. Fed ɖ Rozz v Pleźr. Last tîm h hd cm t si hr, Bazl hd wòrn a rôz in hiz butnhoul. Hǎ hansm h hd lct in ɖt brît blu sūt, wɖ ɖt darc red rôz! N h ń it, tù. H cd’nt hlp nwñ it. Frst h stroct hiz her, ɖen hiz mstaś; hiz tīʈ glīmd ẃn h smîld.
“Ɖ hedmastr’z wîf cīps on ascñ m t dinr. It’s a prfict ńsns. I nvr gt an īvnñ t mslf in ɖt ples.”
“Bt c’nt y rfyz?”
“Ǒ, wel, it dz’nt d fr a man in mî pziśn t b unpopylr.”
Ḿzic’s Ge Meźr, weild ɖ vôsz. Ɖ wilotrīz, ǎtsd ɖ hî, naro windoz, wevd in ɖ wind. Ɖe hd lost haf ɖer līvz. Ɖ tîni wnz ɖt cluñ rigld lîc fiśz còt on a lîn. “… I am nt a mariyñ man… “ Ɖ vôsz wr sîḷnt; ɖ piano wêtd.
“Qt gd,” sd Mis Medoz, bt stl in sć a strenj, stoni ton ɖt ɖ yungr grlz bgan t fīl poztivli frîtnd. “Bt nǎ ɖt w nǒ it, w śl tec it wɖ xpreśn. Az mć xpreśn az y cn pt intu it. Ʈnc v ɖ wrdz, grlz. Yz yr imaɉneśnz. Fast! Ā, tù Fast,” craid Mis Medoz. “Ɖt òt t brec ǎt—a lǎd, stroñ forte—a l’mnt. N ɖen in ɖ secnd lîn, Wintr Drir, mc ɖt Drir sǎnd az f a cold wind wr blowñ ʈru it. Dri-ir!” sd ś so ōf̣li ɖt Mẹri Bīzli, on ɖ ḿzicstūl, rigld hr spîn. “Ɖ ʈrd lîn śd b wn cṛśndo. Flītli! Ā, Flītli Ḿzic’s Ge Meźr. Brecñ on ɖ frst wrd v ɖ last lîn, Pasz. N ɖen on ɖ wrd, Awe, y mst bgin t dî… t fed… untl Ɖ Liṣnñ Ir z nʈñ mor ɖn a fent ẃispr… Y cn slo dǎn az mć az y lîc olmst on ɖ last lîn. Nǎ, plīz.”
Agn ɖ tū lît taps; ś liftd hr armz agn. Fast! Ā, tù Fast. “… n ɖ îdīa v seṭlñ dǎn filz m wɖ nʈñ bt dsgust—” Dsgust wz ẃt h hd ritn. Ɖt wz az gd az t se ɖer ingejmnt wz defiṇtli brocn of. Brocn of! Ɖer ingejmnt! Ppl hd bn s’prîzd inuf ɖt ś hd got ingejd. Ɖ Saynsmistris wd nt b’liv it at frst. Bt nbdi hd bn az s’prîzd az ś. Ś wz ʈrti. Bazl wz twenti-fîv. It hd bn a miṛcl, simpli a miṛcl, t hír him se, az ɖe wōct hom fṛm ćrć ɖt vri darc nît, “Y nǒ, smhǎ or uɖr, I’v got fond v y.” N h hd tecn hold v ɖ end v hr ostrićfeɖr boa. Pasz awe fṛm ɖ Liṣnñ Ir.
“Rpit! Rpit!” sd Mis Medoz. “Mor xpreśn, grlz! Wns mor!”
Fast! Ā, tù Fast. Ɖ oldr grlz wr crimzn; sm v ɖ yungr wnz bgan t crî. Big spots v ren blù agnst ɖ windoz, n wn cd hír ɖ wiloz ẃisṗrñ, “… nt ɖt I d nt luv y… ”
“Bt, mî darlñ, f y luv m,” ʈt Mis Medoz, “I d’nt mînd hǎ mć it z. Luv m az litl az y lîc.” Bt ś ń h dd’nt luv hr. Nt t hv cerd inuf t scrać ǎt ɖt wrd “dsgust,” so ɖt ś cd’nt rīd it! Sn Ōtm yīldz untu Wintr Drir. Ś wd hv t līv ɖ scūl, tù. Ś cd nvr fes ɖ Saynsmistris or ɖ grlz aftr it got noun. Ś wd hv t dis’pir smẃr. Pasz awe. Ɖ vôsz bgan t dî, t fed, t ẃispr… t vaniś…
Sudnli ɖ dor opnd. A litl grl in blu wōct fuṣli p ɖ ail, haññ hr hed, bîtñ hr lips, n twistñ ɖ silvr bangl on hr red litl rist. Ś cem p ɖ steps n std bfr Mis Medoz.
“Wel, Monica, ẃt z it?”
“Ǒ, f y plīz, Mis Medoz,” sd ɖ litl grl, gaspñ, “Mis Wayt wonts t si y in ɖ mistris’z rūm.”
“Vri wel,” sd Mis Medoz. N ś cōld t ɖ grlz, “I śl pt y on yr onr t tōc qaytli ẃl I am awe.” Bt ɖe wr tù sbdyd t d enʈñ els. Most v ɖm wr blowñ ɖer nozz.
Ɖ coṛdorz wr sîḷnt n cold; ɖe ecoud t Mis Medoz’ steps. Ɖ hed mistris sat at hr dsc. Fr a momnt ś dd nt lc p. Ś wz az yźl disintanglñ hr îglasz, ẃć hd got còt in hr lês tî. “Sit dǎn, Mis Medoz,” ś sd vri cîndli. N ɖen ś pict p a pnc enṿlop fṛm ɖ blotñpad. “I snt fr y jst nǎ bcz ɖs teḷgram hz cm fr y.”
“A teḷgram fr m, Mis Wayt?”
Bazl! H hd cmitd suisîd, dsîdd Mis Medoz. Hr hand flù ǎt, bt Mis Wayt hld ɖ teḷgram bac a momnt. “I hop it’s nt bad nyz,” ś sd, so mor ɖn cîndli. N Mis Medoz tòr it opn.
“Pe no atnśn t letr, mst hv bn mad, bòt hatstand tde—Bazl,” ś réd. Ś cd’nt tec hr îz of ɖ teḷgram.
“I d hop it’s nʈñ vri sirịs,” sd Mis Wayt, līnñ fwd.
“Ǒ, no, ʈanc y, Mis Wayt,” bluśt Mis Medoz. “It’s nʈñ bad at ol. It’s”—n ś gev an apoḷjetic litl laf—“it’s fṛm mî fianse seyñ ɖt… seyñ ɖt—” Ɖr wz a pōz. “I si,” sd Mis Wayt. N anɖr pōz. Ɖen—“Y’v fiftīn minits mor v yr clas, Mis Medoz, hv’nt y?”
“Yes, Mis Wayt.” Ś got p. Ś haf ran twdz ɖ dor.
“Ǒ, jst wn minit, Mis Medoz,” sd Mis Wayt. “I mst se I d’nt apruv v mî tīćrz hvñ teḷgramz snt t ɖm in scūl-aurz, unls in ces v vri bad nyz, sć az deʈ,” xplend Mis Wayt, “or a vri sirịs axidnt, or smʈñ t ɖt ifct. Gd nyz, Mis Medoz, wl olwz cīp, y nǒ.”
On ɖ wñz v hop, v luv, v jô, Mis Medoz sped bac t ɖ ḿzichōl, p ɖ ail, p ɖ steps, ovr t ɖ piano.
“Pej ʈrti-tū, Mẹri,” ś sd, “pej ʈrti-tū,” n, picñ p ɖ yelo cṛsanʈ̇mm, ś hld it t hr lips t hîd hr smîl. Ɖen ś trnd t ɖ grlz, rapt wɖ hr batn: “Pej ʈrti-tū, grlz. Pej ʈrti-tū.”
W cm hir Tde wɖ Flǎrz ’rlêdn, Wɖ Bascits v Frūt n Ribnz t būt, Tu-u Cngrać̣let…
“Stop! Stop!” craid Mis Medoz. “Ɖs z ōfl. Ɖs z dredfl.” N ś bīmd at hr grlz. “Ẃt’s ɖ matr wɖ y ol? Ʈnc, grlz, ʈnc v ẃt y’r sññ. Yz yr imaɉneśnz. Wɖ Flǎrz ’rlêdn. Bascits v Frūt n Ribnz t būt. N Cngrać̣let.” Mis Medoz brouc of. “D’nt lc so dǒlfl, grlz. It òt t sǎnd worm, jôfl, īgr. Cngrać̣let. Wns mor. Qcli. Ol tgɖr. Nǎ ɖen!”
N ɖs tîm Mis Medoz’ vôs sǎndd ovr ol ɖ uɖr vôsz—fl, dīp, glowñ wɖ xpreśn.
I hop I hv’nt dstrbd y, madm. Y wr’nt aslip—wr y? Bt I’v jst gvn mî ledi hr ti, n ɖr wz sć a nîs cup ovr, I ʈt, phps…
… Nt at ol, madm. I olwz mc a cup v ti last ʈñ. Ś drincs it in bed aftr hr prerz t worm hr p. I pt ɖ cetl on ẃn ś nīlz dǎn n I se t it, “Nǎ y nīd’nt b in tù mć v a huri t se yr prerz.” Bt it’s olwz bôlñ bfr mî ledi z haf ʈru. Y si, madm, w nǒ sć a lot v ppl, n ɖ’v ol got t b preid fr—evrwn. Mî ledi cīps a list v ɖ nemz in a litl red bc. Ǒ dir! ẃnvr smwn ny hz bn t si s n mî ledi sz aftwdz, “Eḷn, gv m mî litl red bc,” I fīl qt wîld, I d. “Ɖr’z anɖr,” I ʈnc, “cīpñ hr ǎt v hr bed in ol weɖrz.” N ś w’nt hv a cŭśn, y nǒ, madm; ś nīlz on ɖ hard carpit. It fijits m smʈñ dredfl t si hr, nwñ hr az I d. I’v traid t ćīt hr; I’v spred ǎt ɖ îdrdǎn. Bt ɖ frst tîm I dd it—ǒ, ś gev m sć a lc—holi it wz, madm. “Dd ǎr Lord hv an îdrdǎn, Eḷn?” ś sd. Bt—I wz yungr at ɖ tîm—I flt inclînd t se, “No, bt ǎr Lord wz’nt yr ej, n h dd’nt nǒ ẃt it wz t hv yr lumbego.” Wicid—wz’nt it? Bt ś’z tù gd, y nǒ, madm. Ẃn I tuct hr p jst nǎ n sìn—sw hr layñ bac, hr handz ǎtsd n hr hed on ɖ pilo—so priti—I cd’nt hlp ʈncñ, “Nǎ y lc jst lîc yr dir muɖr ẃn I leid hr ǎt!”
… Yes, madm, it wz ol left t m. Ǒ, ś dd lc swīt. I dd hr her, softlîc, rnd hr fōrhed, ol in denti crlz, n jst t wn sîd v hr nec I pt a bunć v most bytifl prpl panziz. Ɖoz panziz md a picćr v hr, madm! I śl nvr fget ɖm. I ʈt tnît, ẃn I lct at mî ledi, “Nǎ, f onli ɖ panziz wz ɖr nwn cd tel ɖ difṛns.”
… Onli ɖ last yir, madm. Onli aftr ś’d got a litl—wel—fībl az y mt se. V cors, ś wz nvr denjṛs; ś wz ɖ swītist old ledi. Bt hǎ it tc hr wz—ś ʈt ś’d lost smʈñ. Ś cd’nt cīp stil, ś cd’nt setl. Ol de loñ ś’d b p n dǎn, p n dǎn; y’d mīt hr evrẃr,—on ɖ sterz, in ɖ porć, mcñ fr ɖ cićn. N ś’d lc p at y, n ś’d se—jst lîc a ćîld, “I’v lost it, I’v lost it.” “Cm alñ,” I’d se, “cm alñ, n I’l le ǎt yr peśns fr y.” Bt ś’d cać m bî ɖ hand—I wz a feṿrit v hrz—n ẃispr, “Fînd it fr m, Eḷn. Fînd it fr m.” Sad, wz’nt it?
… No, ś nvr rcuvrd, madm. Ś hd a stroc at ɖ end. Last wrdz ś evr sd wz—vri slo, “Lc in—ɖ—Lc—in—” N ɖen ś wz gn.
… No, madm, I c’nt se I notist it. Phps sm grlz. Bt y si, it’s lîc ɖs, I’v got nbdi bt mî ledi. Mî muɖr daid v cnsumśn ẃn I wz for, n I livd wɖ mî granfaɖr, hu cept a herdresr’z śop. I yst t spend ol mî tîm in ɖ śop undr a tebl dresñ mî dol’z her—copiyñ ɖ asistnts, I s’poz. Ɖe wr evr so cînd t m. Yst t mc m litl wigz, ol culrz, ɖ lêtist faśnz n ol. N ɖr I’d sit ol de, qayt az qayt—ɖ custmrz nvr ń. Onli nǎ n agn I’d tec mî pīp fṛm undr ɖ teblcloʈ.
… Bt wn de I manijd t gt a per v sizrz n—wd y b’liv it, madm? I cut of ol mî her; snipt it of ol in bits, lîc ɖ litl munci I wz. Granfaɖr wz fyrịs! H còt hold v ɖ toñz—I śl nvr fget it—grabd m bî ɖ hand n śut mî fngrz in ɖm. “Ɖt’l tīć y!” h sd. It wz a firfl brn. I’v got ɖ marc v it tde.
… Wel, y si, madm, h’d tecn sć prîd in mî her. H yst t sit m p on ɖ cǎntr, bfr ɖ custmrz cem, n d it smʈñ bytifl—big, soft crlz n wevd ovr ɖ top. I rmembr ɖ asistnts standñ rnd, n m evr so soḷm wɖ ɖ peni granfaɖr gev m t hold ẃl it wz biyñ dn… Bt h olwz tc ɖ peni bac aftwdz. Pur granfaɖr! Wîld, h wz, at ɖ frît I’d md v mslf. Bt h frîtnd m ɖt tîm. D y nǒ ẃt I dd, madm? I ran awe. Yes, I dd, rnd ɖ cornrz, in n ǎt, I d’nt nǒ hǎ far I dd’nt run. Ǒ, dir, I mst hv lct a sît, wɖ mî hand rold p in mî pini n mî her sticñ ǎt. Ppl mst hv laft ẃn ɖe sw m…
… No, madm, granfaɖr nvr got ovr it. H cd’nt ber ɖ sît v m aftr. Cd’nt īt hiz dinr, īvn, f I wz ɖr. So mî ānt tc m. Ś wz a cripl, an upholstris. Tîni! Ś hd t stand on ɖ sofaz ẃn ś wontd t cut ǎt ɖ bacs. N it wz hlpñ hr I met mî ledi…
… Nt so vri, madm. I wz ʈrtīn, trnd. N I d’nt rmembr evr fīlñ—wel—a ćîld, az y mt se. Y si ɖr wz mî yṇform, n wn ʈñ n anɖr. Mî ledi pt m intu coḷrz n cufs fṛm ɖ frst. Ǒ yes—wns I dd! Ɖt wz—funi! It wz lîc ɖs. Mî ledi hd hr tū litl nīsz steyñ wɖ hr—w wr at Śeldn at ɖ tîm—n ɖr wz a fer on ɖ comn.
“Nǎ, Eḷn,” ś sd, “I wont y t tec ɖ tū yuñ lediz fr a rîd on ɖ donciz.” Of w wnt; soḷm litl luvz ɖe wr; ć hd a hand. Bt ẃn w cem t ɖ donciz ɖe wr tù śî t g on. So w std n woćt instd. Bytifl ɖoz donciz wr! Ɖe wr ɖ frst I’d sìn ǎt v a cart—fr pleźr az y mt se. Ɖe wr a luvli silvr-gre, wɖ litl red sadlz n blu braidlz n belz jñ-a-jnġlñ on ɖer irz. N qt big grlz—oldr ɖn m, īvn—wr rîdñ ɖm, evr so ge. Nt at ol comn, I d’nt mīn, madm, jst injoyñ ɖmslvz. N I d’nt nǒ ẃt it wz, bt ɖ we ɖ litl fīt wnt, n ɖ îz—so jntl—n ɖ soft irz—md m wont t g on a donci mor ɖn enʈñ in ɖ wrld!
… V cors, I cd’nt. I hd mî yuñ lediz. N ẃt wd I hv lct lîc prćt p ɖr in mî yṇform? Bt ol ɖ rest v ɖ de it wz donciz—donciz on ɖ bren wɖ m. I flt I śd hv brst f I dd’nt tel smwn; n hu wz ɖr t tel? Bt ẃn I wnt t bed—I wz slīpñ in Msz. Jemz’z bedrūm, ǎr cc ɖt wz, at ɖ tîm—az sn az ɖ lîts wz ǎt, ɖr ɖe wr, mî donciz, jnġlñ alñ, wɖ ɖer nīt litl fīt n sad îz… Wel, madm, wd y b’liv it, I wêtd fr a loñ tîm n pritndd t b aslip, n ɖen sudnli I sat p n cōld ǎt az lǎd az I cd, “I d wont t g on a donci. I d wont a doncirîd!” Y si, I hd t se it, n I ʈt ɖe wd’nt laf at m f ɖe ń I wz onli drīmñ. Artfl—wz’nt it? Jst ẃt a sili ćîld wd ʈnc…
… No, madm, nvr nǎ. V cors, I dd ʈnc v it at wn tîm. Bt it wz’nt t b. H hd a litl flǎrśop jst dǎn ɖ rod n acrs fṛm ẃr w wz livñ. Funi—wz’nt it? N m sć a wn fr flǎrz. W wr hvñ a lot v cumṗni at ɖ tîm, n I wz in n ǎt v ɖ śop mor ofn ɖn nt, az ɖ seyñ z. N Hari n I (hiz nem wz Hari) got t qoṛlñ abt hǎ ʈñz òt t b arenjd—n ɖt bgan it. Flǎrz! y wd’nt b’liv it, madm, ɖ flǎrz h yst t brñ m. H’d stop at nʈñ. It wz liliz-v-ɖ-vali mor ɖn wns, n I’m nt xaɉretñ! Wel, v cors, w wr gwñ t b marid n liv ovr ɖ śop, n it wz ol gwñ t b jst so, n I wz t hv ɖ windo t arenj… Ǒ, hǎ I’v dn ɖt windo v a Saṭde! Nt riyli, v cors, madm, jst drīmñ, az y mt se. I’v dn it fr Crisṃs—moto in hóli, n ol—n I’v hd mî Īstr liliz wɖ a gorjs star ol daf̣dilz in ɖ midl. I’v huñ—wel, ɖt’s inuf v ɖt. Ɖ de cem h wz t cōl fr m t ćūz ɖ frnićr. Śl I evr fget it? It wz a Tyzde. Mî ledi wz’nt qt hrslf ɖt afṭnun. Nt ɖt ś’d sd enʈñ, v cors; ś nvr dz or wl. Bt I ń bî ɖ we ɖt ś cept rápñ hrslf p n ascñ m f it wz cold—n hr litl nǒz lct… pinćt. I dd’nt lîc līvñ hr; I ń I’d b wuriyñ ol ɖ tîm. At last I asct hr f ś’d rɖr I pt it of. “Ǒ no, Eḷn,” ś sd, “y ms’nt mînd abt m. Y ms’nt dis’pônt yr yuñ man.” N so ćirfl, y nǒ, madm, nvr ʈncñ abt hrslf. It md m fīl wrs ɖn evr. I bgan t wundr… ɖen ś dropt hr hanc̣ćif n bgan t stūp dǎn t pic it p hrslf—a ʈñ ś nvr dd. “Ẃtvr r y dwñ!” I craid, runñ t stop hr. “Wel,” ś sd, smîlñ, y nǒ, madm, “I śl hv t bgin t practis.” Ǒ, it wz ol I cd d nt t brst ǎt crayñ. I wnt ovr t ɖ dresñtebl n md b’liv t rub p ɖ silvr, n I cd’nt cīp mslf in, n I asct hr f ś’d rɖr I… dd’nt gt marid. “No, Eḷn,” ś sd—ɖt wz hr vôs, madm, lîc I’m gvñ y—“No, Eḷn, nt fr ɖ wîd wrld!” Bt ẃl ś sd it, madm—I wz lcñ in hr glas; v cors, ś dd’nt nǒ I cd si hr—ś pt hr litl hand on hr hart jst lîc hr dir muɖr yst t, n liftd hr îz… Ǒ, madm!
Ẃn Hari cem I hd hiz letrz ol redi, n ɖ rñ n a duci litl broć h’d gvn m—a silvr brd it wz, wɖ a ćen in its bīc, n on ɖ end v ɖ ćen a hart wɖ a dagr. Qt ɖ ʈñ! I opnd ɖ dor t him. I nvr gev him tîm fr a wrd. “Ɖr y r,” I sd. “Tec ɖm ol bac,” I sd, “it’s ol ovr. I’m nt gwñ t mari y,” I sd, “I c’nt līv mî ledi.” Ẃît! h trnd az ẃît az a wmn. I hd t slam ɖ dor, n ɖr I std, ol v a trembl, tl I ń h hd gn. Ẃn I opnd ɖ dor—b’liv m or nt, madm—ɖt man wz gn! I ran ǎt intu ɖ rod jst az I wz, in mî epṛn n mî hǎsśuz, n ɖr I steid in ɖ midl v ɖ rod… stẹrñ. Ppl mst hv laft f ɖe sw m…
… Gdnis greśs!—Ẃt’s ɖt? It’s ɖ cloc strîcñ! N hir I’v bn cīpñ y awec. Ǒ, madm, y òt t hv stopt m… Cn I tuc in yr fīt? I olwz tuc in mî ledi’z fīt, evri nît, jst ɖ sem. N ś sz, “Gd nît, Eḷn. Slīp sǎnd n wec rli!” I d’nt nǒ ẃt I śd d f ś dd’nt se ɖt, nǎ.
… Ǒ dir, I smtmz ʈnc… ẃtvr śd I d f enʈñ wr t… Bt, ɖr, ʈncñ’z no gd t enwn—z it, madm? Ʈncñ w’nt hlp. Nt ɖt I d it ofn. N f evr I d I pl mslf p śarp, “Nǎ, ɖen, Eḷn. At it agn—y sili grl! F y c’nt fînd enʈñ betr t d ɖn t start ʈncñ!… ”
Olɖo it wz so briłntli fîn—ɖ blu scî pǎdrd wɖ gold n gret spots v lît lîc ẃît wîn splaśt ovr ɖ Jardins Publiques—Mis Bril wz glad ɖt ś hd dsîdd on hr fŕ. Ɖ er wz mośnlis, bt ẃn y opnd yr mǎʈ ɖr wz jst a fent ćil, lîc a ćil fṛm a glas v îst wōtr bfr y sip, n nǎ n agn a līf cem driftñ—fṛm nẃr, fṛm ɖ scî. Mis Bril pt p hr hand n tućt hr fŕ. Dir litl ʈñ! It wz nîs t fīl it agn. Ś hd tecn it ǎt v its box ɖt afṭnun, śecn ǎt ɖ moʈpǎdr, gvn it a gd bruś, n rubd ɖ lîf bac intu ɖ dim litl îz. “Ẃt hz bn haṗnñ t m?” sd ɖ sad litl îz. Ǒ, hǎ swīt it wz t si ɖm snap at hr agn fṛm ɖ red îdrdǎn!… Bt ɖ nǒz, ẃć wz v sm blac compziśn, wz’nt at ol frm. It mst hv hd a noc, smhǎ. Nvr mînd—a litl dab v blac sìlñwax ẃn ɖ tîm cem—ẃn it wz abṣlutli nesṣri… Litl rog! Yes, ś riyli flt lîc ɖt abt it. Litl rog bîtñ its teil jst bî hr left ir. Ś cd hv tecn it of n leid it on hr lap n stroct it. Ś flt a tnġlñ in hr handz n armz, bt ɖt cem fṛm wōcñ, ś s’pozd. N ẃn ś briɖd, smʈñ lît n sad—no, nt sad, xacli—smʈñ jntl sīmd t muv in hr bŭzm.
Ɖr wr a numbr v ppl ǎt ɖs afṭnun, far mor ɖn last Súnde. N ɖ band sǎndd lǎdr n geyr. Ɖt wz bcz ɖ Sīzn hd bgun. Fr olɖo ɖ band pleid ol ɖ yir rnd on Súndez, ǎt v sīzn it wz nvr ɖ sem. It wz lîc smwn pleyñ wɖ onli ɖ faṃli t lisn; it dd’nt cer hǎ it pleid f ɖr wr’nt eni strenjrz preznt. Wz’nt ɖ cnductr wẹrñ a ny cot, tù? Ś wz śr it wz ny. H scrept wɖ hiz ft n flapt hiz armz lîc a rūstr abt t cro, n ɖ bandzṃn sitñ in ɖ grīn r’tŭnda blù ǎt ɖer ćīcs n glerd at ɖ ḿzic. Nǎ ɖr cem a litl “flūti” bit—vri priti!—a litl ćen v brît drops. Ś wz śr it wd b rpitd. It wz; ś liftd hr hed n smîld.
Onli tū ppl śerd hr “speśl” sīt: a fîn old man in a velvit cot, hiz handz claspt ovr a hyj carvd wōcñstic, n a big old wmn, sitñ uprît, wɖ a rol v nitñ on hr imbrôdrd epṛn. Ɖe dd nt spīc. Ɖs wz dis’pôntñ, fr Mis Bril olwz lct fwd t ɖ convseśn. Ś hd bcm riyli qt xprt, ś ʈt, at liṣnñ az ɖo ś dd’nt lisn, at sitñ in uɖr ppl’z lîvz jst fr a minit ẃl ɖe tōct rnd hr.
Ś glanst, sîdwez, at ɖ old cupl. Phps ɖe wd g sn. Last Súnde, tù, hd’nt bn az inṭrestñ az yźl. An Ñgliśmn n hiz wîf, h wẹrñ a dredfl Paṇmā hat n ś butnbūts. N ś’d gn on ɖ hol tîm abt hǎ ś òt t wer specṭclz; ś ń ś nīdd ɖm; bt ɖt it wz no gd gtñ eni; ɖ’d b śr t brec n ɖ’d nvr cīp on. N h’d bn so peśnt. H’d sjstd evrʈñ—gold rimz, ɖ cnd ɖt crvd rnd yr irz, litl padz insd ɖ brij. No, nʈñ wd plīz hr. “Ɖ’l olwz b slîdñ dǎn mî nǒz!” Mis Bril hd wontd t śec hr.
Ɖ old ppl sat on ɖ bnć, stl az staćuz. Nvr mînd, ɖr wz olwz ɖ crǎd t woć. T n fro, in frunt v ɖ flǎrbedz n ɖ band r’tŭnda, ɖ cuplz n grūps p’redd, stopt t tōc, t grīt, t bai a hanfl v flǎrz fṛm ɖ old begr hu hd hiz tre fixt t ɖ relñz. Litl ćildṛn ran amñ ɖm, swūpñ n lafñ; litl bôz wɖ big ẃît silc boz undr ɖer ćinz, litl grlz, litl Frenć dolz, drest p in velvit n lês. N smtmz a tîni staġrr cem sudnli rocñ intu ɖ opn fṛm undr ɖ triz, stopt, stérd, az sudnli sat dǎn “flop,” untl its smōl hî-stepñ muɖr, lîc a yuñ hen, ruśt scoldñ t its resk. Uɖr ppl sat on ɖ bnćz n grīn ćerz, bt ɖe wr nirli olwz ɖ sem, Súnde aftr Súnde, n—Mis Bril hd ofn notist—ɖr wz smʈñ funi abt nirli ol v ɖm. Ɖe wr od, sîḷnt, nirli ol old, n fṛm ɖ we ɖe stérd ɖe lct az ɖo ɖ’d jst cm fṛm darc litl rūmz or īvn—īvn cuḅdz!
Bhnd ɖ r’tŭnda ɖ slendr triz wɖ yelo līvz dǎn drūpñ, n ʈru ɖm jst a lîn v sī, n bynd ɖ blu scî wɖ gold-veind clǎdz.
Tum-tum-tum tidl ’m! tidl ’m! tum tidli ’m tum ta! blù ɖ band.
Tū yuñ grlz in red cem bî n tū yuñ soljrz in blu met ɖm, n ɖe laft n perd n wnt of arm-in-arm. Tū peznt wimin wɖ funi strw hats pást, grevli, līdñ bytifl smoc-culrd donciz. A cold, pel nun hurid bî. A bytifl wmn cem alñ n dropt hr bunć v vaylits, n a litl bô ran aftr t hand ɖm t hr, n ś tc ɖm n ʈrù ɖm awe az f ɖ’d bn pôznd. Dir m! Mis Bril dd’nt nǒ ẃɖr t admîr ɖt or nt! N nǎ an ŕmin tǒc n a jntlmn in gre met jst in frunt v hr. H wz tōl, stif, digṇfaid, n ś wz wẹrñ ɖ ŕmin tǒc ś’d bòt ẃn hr her wz yelo. Nǎ evrʈñ, hr her, hr fes, īvn hr îz, wz ɖ sem culr az ɖ śabi ŕmin, n hr hand, in its clīnd gluv, liftd t dab hr lips, wz a tîni yelǒiś pw. Ǒ, ś wz so plizd t si him—dlîtd! Ś rɖr ʈt ɖe wr gwñ t mīt ɖt afṭnun. Ś dscrîbd ẃr ś’d bn—evrẃr, hir, ɖr, alñ bî ɖ sī. Ɖ de wz so ćarmñ—dd’nt h agri? N wd’nt h, phps?… Bt h śc hiz hed, lîtd a siġrét, slǒli briɖd a gret dīp puf intu hr fes, n īvn ẃl ś wz stl tōcñ n lafñ, flict ɖ mać awe n wōct on. Ɖ ŕmin tǒc wz alon; ś smîld mor brîtli ɖn evr. Bt īvn ɖ band sīmd t nǒ ẃt ś wz fīlñ n pleid mor softli, pleid tndrli, n ɖ drum bìt, “Ɖ Brūt! Ɖ Brūt!” ovr n ovr. Ẃt wd ś d? Ẃt wz gwñ t hapn nǎ? Bt az Mis Bril wundrd, ɖ ŕmin tǒc trnd, rezd hr hand az ɖo ś’d sìn smwn els, mć nîsr, jst ovr ɖr, n patrd awe. N ɖ band ćenjd agn n pleid mor qcli, mor gêli ɖn evr, n ɖ old cupl on Mis Bril’z sīt got p n marćt awe, n sć a funi old man wɖ loñ ẃiscrz hobld alñ in tîm t ɖ ḿzic n wz nirli noct ovr bî for grlz wōcñ abrest.
Ǒ, hǎ faṣnetñ it wz! Hǎ ś injoid it! Hǎ ś luvd sitñ hir, woćñ it ol! It wz lîc a ple. It wz xacli lîc a ple. Hu cd b’liv ɖ scî at ɖ bac wz’nt pentd? Bt it wz’nt tl a litl brǎn dog trotd on soḷm n ɖen slǒli trotd of, lîc a litl “ʈiytrdog,” a litl dog ɖt hd bn drugd, ɖt Mis Bril dscuvrd ẃt it wz ɖt md it so xîtñ. Ɖe wr ol on ɖ stej. Ɖe wr’nt onli ɖ ōdịns, nt onli lcñ on; ɖe wr actñ. Īvn ś hd a part n cem evri Súnde. No dǎt smbdi wd hv notist f ś hd’nt bn ɖr; ś wz part v ɖ pformns aftr ol. Hǎ strenj ś’d nvr ʈt v it lîc ɖt bfr! N yt it xplend ẃ ś md sć a pônt v startñ fṛm hom at jst ɖ sem tîm ć wīc—so az nt t b lêt fr ɖ pformns—n it olso xplend ẃ ś hd qt a qir, śî fīlñ at telñ hr Ñgliś pyplz hǎ ś spent hr Súnde afṭnunz. No wundr! Mis Bril nirli laft ǎt lǎd. Ś wz on ɖ stej. Ś ʈt v ɖ old inṿlid jntlmn t hūm ś réd ɖ nyzpepr for afṭnunz a wīc ẃl h slept in ɖ gardn. Ś hd got qt yst t ɖ frel hed on ɖ cotn pilo, ɖ holoud îz, ɖ opn mǎʈ n ɖ hî pinćt nǒz. F h’d bn ded ś mt’nt hv notist fr wīcs; ś wd’nt hv mîndd. Bt sudnli h ń h wz hvñ ɖ pepr réd t him bî an actris! “An actris!” Ɖ old hed liftd; tū pônts v lît qivrd in ɖ old îz. “An actris—r yi?” N Mis Bril smuɖd ɖ nyzpepr az ɖo it wr ɖ mańscript v hr part n sd jntli; “Yes, I hv bn an actris fr a loñ tîm.”
Ɖ band hd bn hvñ a rest. Nǎ ɖe startd agn. N ẃt ɖe pleid wz worm, súni, yt ɖr wz jst a fent ćil—a smʈñ, ẃt wz it?—nt sadnis—no, nt sadnis—a smʈñ ɖt md y wont t sñ. Ɖ tyn liftd, liftd, ɖ lît śon; n it sīmd t Mis Bril ɖt in anɖr momnt ol v ɖm, ol ɖ hol cumṗni, wd bgin sññ. Ɖ yuñ wnz, ɖ lafñ wnz hu wr muvñ tgɖr, ɖe wd bgin, n ɖ men’z vôsz, vri reẓlut n brev, wd jôn ɖm. N ɖen ś tù, ś tù, n ɖ uɖrz on ɖ bnćz—ɖe wd cm in wɖ a cnd v acumṗnimnt—smʈñ lo, ɖt scersli rouz or fél, smʈñ so bytifl—muvñ… N Mis Bril’z îz fild wɖ tirz n ś lct smîlñ at ol ɖ uɖr membrz v ɖ cumṗni. Yes, w unḍstand, w unḍstand, ś ʈt—ɖo ẃt ɖe unḍstd ś dd’nt nǒ.
Jst at ɖt momnt a bô n grl cem n sat dǎn ẃr ɖ old cupl hd bn. Ɖe wr bytifli drest; ɖe wr in luv. Ɖ hiro n herǒin, v cors, jst arîvd fṛm hiz faɖr’z yot. N stl sǎndlisli sññ, stl wɖ ɖt tremḅlñ smîl, Mis Bril priperd t lisn.
“No, nt nǎ,” sd ɖ grl. “Nt hir, I c’nt.”
“Bt ẃ? Bcz v ɖt stypid old ʈñ at ɖ end ɖr?” asct ɖ bô. “Ẃ dz ś cm hir at ol—hu wonts hr? Ẃ dz’nt ś cīp hr sili old mug at hom?”
“It’s hr fŕŕŕ ẃć z so funi,” gigld ɖ grl. “It’s xacli lîc a fraid ẃîtñ.”
“Ā, b of wɖ y!” sd ɖ bô in an angri ẃispr. Ɖen: “Tel m, ma petite chère—”
“No, nt hir,” sd ɖ grl. “Nt yt.”
On hr we hom ś yẓ́li bòt a slîs v hunicec at ɖ becr’z. It wz hr Súnde trīt. Smtmz ɖr wz an āmnd in hr slîs, smtmz nt. It md a gret difṛns. F ɖr wz an āmnd it wz lîc cariyñ hom a tîni preznt—a s’prîz—smʈñ ɖt mt vri wel nt hv bn ɖr. Ś hurid on ɖ āmnd Súndez n struc ɖ mać fr ɖ cetl in qt a daśñ we.
Bt tde ś pást ɖ becr’z bî, clîmd ɖ sterz, wnt intu ɖ litl darc rūm—hr rūm lîc a cuḅd—n sat dǎn on ɖ red îdrdǎn. Ś sat ɖr fr a loñ tîm. Ɖ box ɖt ɖ fŕ cem ǎt v wz on ɖ bed. Ś unclaspt ɖ neclit qcli; qcli, wɖt lcñ, leid it insd. Bt ẃn ś pt ɖ lid on ś ʈt ś hŕd smʈñ crayñ.
It sīmd t ɖ litl crǎd on ɖ ẃorf ɖt ś wz nvr gwñ t muv agn. Ɖr ś le, imns, mośnlis on ɖ gre crincld wōtr, a lūp v smoc abv hr, an imns floc v gulz scrīmñ n dîvñ aftr ɖ galidropñz at ɖ strn. Y cd jst si litl cuplz p’redñ—litl flîz wōcñ p n dǎn ɖ diś on ɖ gre crincld teblcloʈ. Uɖr flîz clustrd n swormd at ɖ éj. Nǎ ɖr wz a glīm v ẃît on ɖ lowr dec—ɖ cc’s epṛn or ɖ stywdes phps. Nǎ a tîni blac spîdr rêst p ɖ ladr on t ɖ brij.
In ɖ frunt v ɖ crǎd a stroñ-lcñ, midl-ejd man, drest vri wel, vri snugli in a gre oṿcot, gre silc scarf, ʈic gluvz n darc flt hat, marćt p n dǎn, twrlñ hiz foldd umbrela. H sīmd t b ɖ līdr v ɖ litl crǎd on ɖ ẃorf n at ɖ sem tîm t cīp ɖm tgɖr. H wz smʈñ btwn ɖ śīpdog n ɖ śeṗd.
Bt ẃt a fūl—ẃt a fūl h hd bn nt t brñ eni glasz! Ɖr wz’nt a per v glasz btwn ɖ hol lot v ɖm.
“Krịs ʈñ, Mr Scot, ɖt nn v s ʈt v glasz. W mt hv bn ebl t str ’m p a bit. W mt hv manijd a litl sigṇlñ. ‘D’nt heẓtet t land. Netivz harmlis.’ Or: ‘A welcm awêts y. Ol z fgivn.’ Ẃt? Ê?”
Mr Hamnd’z qc, īgr glans, so nrṿs n yt so frendli n cnfîdñ, tc in evrbdi on ɖ ẃorf, ropt in īvn ɖoz old ćaps lǎnjñ agnst ɖ gañwez. Ɖe ń, evri manjac v ɖm, ɖt Msz Hamnd wz on ɖt bot, n ɖt h wz so tṛmndsli xîtd it nvr entrd hiz hed nt t b’liv ɖt ɖs marvḷs fact mnt smʈñ t ɖm tù. It wormd hiz hart twdz ɖm. Ɖe wr, h dsîdd, az dīsnt a crǎd v ppl—Ɖoz old ćaps ovr bî ɖ gañwez, tù—fîn, solid old ćaps. Ẃt ćests—bî Jov! N h sqerd hiz ǒn, plunjd hiz ʈic-gluvd handz intu hiz pocits, roct fṛm hìl t to.
“Yes, mî wîf’s bn in Yṛp fr ɖ last ten munʈs. On a vizit t ǎr eldist grl, hu wz marid last yir. I bròt hr p hir, az far az Sōlzḅri, mslf. So I ʈt I’d betr cm n feć hr bac. Yes, yes, yes.” Ɖ śrūd gre îz naroud agn n srćt añśsli, qcli, ɖ mośnlis lînr. Agn hiz oṿcot wz unbutnd. Ǎt cem ɖ ʈin, butr-yelo woć agn, n fr ɖ twentiiʈ—fiftiiʈ—hundṛdʈ tîm h md ɖ calkleśn.
“Let m si nǎ. It wz tū fiftīn ẃn ɖ doctr’z lōnć wnt of. Tū fiftīn. It z nǎ xacli twenti-et minits past for. Ɖt z t se, ɖ doctr’z bn gn tū aurz n ʈrtīn minits. Tū aurz n ʈrtīn minits! Ẃi-ū!” H gev a qir litl haf-ẃisl n snapt hiz woć t agn. “Bt I ʈnc w śd hv bn tld f ɖr wz enʈñ p—d’nt y, Mr Gavn?”
“Ǒ, yes, Mr Hamnd! I d’nt ʈnc ɖr’z enʈñ t—enʈñ t wuri abt,” sd Mr Gavn, nocñ ǎt hiz pîp agnst ɖ hìl v hiz śu. “At ɖ sem tîm—”
“Qt so! Qt so!” craid Mr Hamnd. “Daśt anoyñ!” H pêst qcli p n dǎn n cem bac agn t hiz stand btwn Mr n Msz Scot n Mr Gavn. “It’s gtñ qt darc, tù,” n h wevd hiz foldd umbrela az ɖo ɖ dusc at līst mt hv hd ɖ dīsnsi t cīp of fr a bit. Bt ɖ dusc cem slǒli, spredñ lîc a slo sten ovr ɖ wōtr. Litl Jīn Scot dragd at hr muɖr’z hand.
“I won’ mî ti, mami!” ś weild.
“I xpct y d,” sd Mr Hamnd. “I xpct ol ɖz lediz wont ɖer ti.” N hiz cînd, fluśt, olmst pitifl glans ropt ɖm ol in agn. H wundrd ẃɖr Jêni wz hvñ a fînl cup v ti in ɖ s’lūn ǎt ɖr. H hopt so; h ʈt nt. It wd b jst lîc hr nt t līv ɖ dec. In ɖt ces phps ɖ dec stywd wd brñ hr p a cup. F h’d bn ɖr h’d hv got it fr hr—smhǎ. N fr a momnt h wz on dec, standñ ovr hr, woćñ hr litl hand fold rnd ɖ cup in ɖ we ś hd, ẃl ś dranc ɖ onli cup v ti t b got on bōrd… Bt nǎ h wz bac hir, n ɖ Lord onli ń ẃn ɖt crst Captin wd stop haññ abt in ɖ strīm. H tc anɖr trn, p n dǎn, p n dǎn. H wōct az far az ɖ cabstand t mc śr hiz drîvr hd’nt dis’pird; bac h swrvd agn t ɖ litl floc hudld in ɖ śltr v ɖ bnanacrets. Litl Jīn Scot wz stl wontñ hr ti. Pur litl begr! H wśt h hd a bit v ćocḷt on him.
“Hir, Jīn!” h sd. “Lîc a lift p?” N īẓli, jntli, h swuñ ɖ litl grl on t a hayr baṛl. Ɖ muvmnt v holdñ hr, stediyñ hr, rlivd him wundrf̣li, lîtnd hiz hart.
“Hold on,” h sd, cīpñ an arm rnd hr.
“Ǒ, d’nt wuri abt Jīn, Mr Hamnd!” sd Msz Scot.
“Ɖt’s ol rît, Msz Scot. No trubl. It’s a pleźr. Jīn’z a litl pal v mîn, r’nt y, Jīn?”
“Yes, Mr Hamnd,” sd Jīn, n ś ran hr fngr dǎn ɖ dnt v hiz flt hat.
Bt sudnli ś còt him bî ɖ ir n gev a lǎd scrīm. “Lŭŭc, Mr Hamnd! Ś’z muvñ! Lc, ś’z cmñ in!”
Bî Jov! So ś wz. At last! Ś wz slǒli, slǒli trnñ rnd. A bel sǎndd far ovr ɖ wōtr n a gret spǎt v stīm guśt intu ɖ er. Ɖ gulz rouz; ɖe flutrd awe lîc bits v ẃît pepr. N ẃɖr ɖt dīp ʈrobñ wz hr enjinz or hiz hart Mr Hamnd cd’nt se. H hd t nrv himslf t ber it, ẃtvr it wz. At ɖt momnt old Captin Jonsn, ɖ harbrmastr, cem strîdñ dǎn ɖ ẃorf, a leɖr portfolio undr hiz arm.
“Jīn’l b ol rît,” sd Mr Scot. “I’l hold hr.” H wz jst in tîm. Mr Hamnd hd fgotn abt Jīn. H sprañ awe t grīt old Captin Jonsn.
“Wel, Captin,” ɖ īgr, nrṿs vôs rañ ǎt agn, “y’v tecn piti on s at last.”
“It’s no gd blemñ m, Mr Hamnd,” ẃizd old Captin Jonsn, stẹrñ at ɖ lînr. ‘Y got Msz Hamnd on bōrd, e’nt y’?”
“Yes, yes!” sd Hamnd, n h cept bî ɖ harbrmastr’z sîd. “Msz Hamnd’z ɖr. Huļo! W ś’nt b loñ nǎ!”
Wɖ hr teḷfon rñ-rññ, ɖ ʈrum v hr scru filñ ɖ er, ɖ big lînr bòr dǎn on ɖm, cutñ śarp ʈru ɖ darc wōtr so ɖt big ẃît śevñz crld t îɖr sîd. Hamnd n ɖ harbrmastr cept in frunt v ɖ rest. Hamnd tc of hiz hat; h rêct ɖ decs—ɖe wr cramd wɖ pasinjrz; h wevd hiz hat n bȍld a lǎd, strenj “Huļo!” acrs ɖ wōtr; n ɖen trnd rnd n brst ǎt lafñ n sd smʈñ—nʈñ—t old Captin Jonsn.
“Sìn hr?” asct ɖ harbrmastr.
“No, nt yt. Stedi—wêt a bit!” N sudnli, btwn tū gret clumzi idịts—“Gt ǎt v ɖ we ɖr!” h sînd wɖ hiz umbrela—h sw a hand rezd—a ẃît gluv śecñ a hanc̣ćif. Anɖr momnt, n—ʈanc God, ʈanc God!—ɖr ś wz. Ɖr wz Jêni. Ɖr wz Msz Hamnd, yes, yes, yes—standñ bî ɖ rel n smîlñ n nodñ n wevñ hr hanc̣ćif.
“Wel ɖt’s frst clas—frst clas! Wel, wel, wel!” H poztivli stamt. Lîc lîtnñ h drù ǎt hiz sgarces n ofrd it t old Captin Jonsn. “Hv a sgar, Captin! Ɖ’r priti gd. Hv a cupl! Hir”—n h prest ol ɖ sgarz in ɖ ces on ɖ harbrmastr—“I’v a cupl v boxz p at ɖ hotel.”
“Ʈencs, Mr Hamnd!” ẃizd old Captin Jonsn.
Hamnd stuft ɖ sgarces bac. Hiz handz wr śecñ, bt h’d got hold v himslf agn. H wz ebl t fes Jêni. Ɖr ś wz, līnñ on ɖ rel, tōcñ t sm wmn n at ɖ sem tîm woćñ him, redi fr him. It struc him, az ɖ gulf v wōtr clozd, hǎ smōl ś lct on ɖt hyj śip. Hiz hart wz rúñ wɖ sć a spazm ɖt h cd hv craid ǎt. Hǎ litl ś lct t hv cm ol ɖt loñ we n bac bî hrslf! Jst lîc hr, ɖo. Jst lîc Jêni. Ś hd ɖ curij v a—N nǎ ɖ cru hd cm fwd n partd ɖ pasinjrz; ɖe hd lowrd ɖ relz fr ɖ gañwez.
Ɖ vôsz on śor n ɖ vôsz on bōrd flù t grīt ć uɖr.
“Hilo, Ān’ Eṃli!”
“Hd a gd vôij?”
“Ś’nt b loñ nǎ!”
“Nt loñ nǎ.”
Ɖ enjinz stopt. Slǒli ś éjd t ɖ ẃorfsîd.
“Mc we ɖr—mc we—mc we!” N ɖ ẃorfhandz bròt ɖ hevi gañwez alñ at a swīpñ run. Hamnd sînd t Jêni t ste ẃr ś wz. Ɖ old harbrmastr stept fwd; h foloud. Az t “lediz frst,” or eni rot lîc ɖt, it nvr entrd hiz hed.
“Aftr y, Captin!” h craid jīńli. N, trédñ on ɖ old man’z hìlz, h stroud p ɖ gañwe on t ɖ dec in a bìlîn t Jêni, n Jêni wz claspt in hiz armz.
“Wel, wel, wel! Yes, yes! Hir w r at last!” h stamrd. It wz ol h cd se. N Jêni imrjd, n hr cūl litl vôs—ɖ onli vôs in ɖ wrld fr him—sd,
“Wel, darlñ! Hv y bn wêtñ loñ?”
No; nt loñ. Or, at eni ret, it dd’nt matr. It wz ovr nǎ. Bt ɖ pônt wz, h hd a cab wêtñ at ɖ end v ɖ ẃorf. Wz ś redi t g of. Wz hr lugij redi? In ɖt ces ɖe cd cut of śarp wɖ hr cabinlugij n let ɖ rest g hañ untl tmoro. H bnt ovr hr n ś lct p wɖ hr fmiłr haf-smîl. Ś wz jst ɖ sem. Nt a de ćenjd. Jst az h’d olwz noun hr. Ś leid hr smōl hand on hiz slīv.
“Hǎ r ɖ ćildṛn, Jon?” ś asct.
(Hañ ɖ ćildṛn!) “Prf̣cli wel. Nvr betr in ɖer livz.”
“Hv’nt ɖe snt m letrz?”
“Yes, yes—v cors! I’v left ɖm at ɖ hotel fr y t djst lêtr on.”
“W c’nt g qt so fast,” sd ś. “I’v got ppl t se gdbî t—n ɖen ɖr’z ɖ Captin.” Az hiz fes fél ś gev hiz arm a smōl unḍstandñ sqīz. “F ɖ Captin cmz of ɖ brij I wont y t ʈanc him fr hvñ lct aftr yr wîf so bytifli.” Wel, h’d got hr. F ś wontd anɖr ten minits—Az h gev we ś wz srǎndd. Ɖ hol frst-clas sīmd t wont t se gdbî t Jêni.
“Gdbî, dir Msz Hamnd! N nxt tîm y’r in Sidni I’l xpct y.”
“Darlñ Msz Hamnd! Y w’nt fget t rait t m, wl y?”
“Wel, Msz Hamnd, ẃt ɖs bot wd hv bn wɖt y!”
It wz az plen az a pîcstaf ɖt ś wz bî far ɖ most popylr wmn on bōrd. N ś tc it ol—jst az yźl. Abṣlutli cmpozd. Jst hr litl slf—jst Jêni ol ovr; standñ ɖr wɖ hr veil ʈroun bac. Hamnd nvr notist ẃt hiz wîf hd on. It wz ol ɖ sem t him ẃtvr ś wòr. Bt tde h dd notis ɖt ś wòr a blac “costym”—dd’nt ɖe cōl it?—wɖ ẃît frilz, trimñz h s’pozd ɖe wr, at ɖ nec n slīvz. Ol ɖs ẃl Jêni handd him rnd.
“Jon, dir!” N ɖen: “I wont t intṛdys y t—”
Fîṇli ɖe dd iscep, n ś léd ɖ we t hr stetrūm. T folo Jêni dǎn ɖ pasij ɖt ś ń so wel—ɖt wz so strenj t him; t part ɖ grīn crtnz aftr hr n t step intu ɖ cabin ɖt hd bn hrz gev him xqizit hapinis. Bt—cnfǎnd it!—ɖ stywdes wz ɖr on ɖ flor, strapñ p ɖ rugz.
“Ɖt’s ɖ last, Msz Hamnd,” sd ɖ stywdes, rîzñ n pŭlñ dǎn hr cufs.
H wz intṛdyst agn, n ɖen Jêni n ɖ stywdes dis’pird intu ɖ pasij. H hŕd ẃisṗrñz. Ś wz gtñ ɖ tipñbiznis ovr, h s’pozd. H sat dǎn on ɖ strîpt sofa n tc hiz hat of. Ɖr wr ɖ rugz ś hd tecn wɖ hr; ɖe lct gd az ny. Ol hr lugij lct freś, prfict. Ɖ leblz wr ritn in hr bytifl litl clir hand—“Msz Jon Hamnd.”
“Msz Jon Hamnd!” H gev a loñ sai v cntnt n līnd bac, crosñ hiz armz. Ɖ stren wz ovr. H flt h cd hv sat ɖr fr evr sayñ hiz rlif—ɖ rlif at biyñ rid v ɖt hoṛbl tug, pl, grip on hiz hart. Ɖ denjr wz ovr. Ɖt wz ɖ fīlñ. Ɖe wr on drî land agn.
Bt at ɖt momnt Jêni’z hed cem rnd ɖ cornr.
“Darlñ—d y mînd? I jst wont t g n se gdbî t ɖ doctr.”
Hamnd startd p. “I’l cm wɖ y.”
“No, no!” ś sd. “D’nt boɖr. I’d rɖr nt. I’l nt b a minit.”
N bfr h cd ansr ś wz gn. H hd haf a mînd t run aftr hr; bt instd h sat dǎn agn.
Wd ś riyli nt b loñ? Ẃt wz ɖ tîm nǎ? Ǎt cem ɖ woć; h stérd at nʈñ. Ɖt wz rɖr qir v Jêni, wz’nt it? Ẃ cd’nt ś hv tld ɖ stywdes t se gdbî fr hr? Ẃ dd ś hv t g ćesñ aftr ɖ śip’s doctr? Ś cd hv snt a not fṛm ɖ hotel īvn f ɖ afer hd bn rjnt. Rjnt? Dd it—cd it mīn ɖt ś hd bn il on ɖ vôij—ś wz cīpñ smʈñ fṛm him? Ɖt wz it! H sizd hiz hat. H wz gwñ of t fînd ɖt felo n t riñ ɖ truʈ ǎt v him at ol costs. H ʈt h’d notist jst smʈñ. Ś wz jst a tuć tù cām—tù stedi. Fṛm ɖ vri frst momnt—
Ɖ crtnz rañ. Jêni wz bac. H jumt t hiz fīt.
“Jêni, hv y bn il on ɖs vôij? Y hv!”
“Il?” Hr e’ri litl vôs moct him. Ś stept ovr ɖ rugz, n cem p clos, tućt hiz brest, n lct p at him.
“Darlñ,” ś sd, “d’nt frîtn m. V cors I hv’nt! Ẃtvr mcs y ʈnc I hv? D I lc il?”
Bt Hamnd dd’nt si hr. H onli flt ɖt ś wz lcñ at him n ɖt ɖr wz no nīd t wuri abt enʈñ. Ś wz hir t lc aftr ʈñz. It wz ol rît. Evrʈñ wz.
Ɖ jntl preśr v hr hand wz so cāmñ ɖt h pt hiz ovr hrz t hold it ɖr. N ś sd:
“Stand stil. I wont t lc at y. I hv’nt sìn y yt. Y’v hd yr bird bytifli trimd, n y lc—yungr, I ʈnc, n dsîdidli ʈinr! Bać̣lrlîf agriz wɖ y.”
“Agriz wɖ m!” H grond fr luv n còt hr clos agn. N agn, az olwz, h hd ɖ fīlñ ɖt h wz holdñ smʈñ ɖt nvr wz qt hiz—hiz. Smʈñ tù delic̣t, tù preśs, ɖt wd flî awe wns h let g.
“Fr God’z sec let’s gt of t ɖ hotel so ɖt w cn b bî ǎrslvz!” N h rañ ɖ bel hard fr smwn t lc śarp wɖ ɖ lugij.
Wōcñ dǎn ɖ ẃorf tgɖr ś tc hiz arm. H hd hr on hiz arm agn. N ɖ difṛns it md t gt intu ɖ cab aftr Jêni—t ʈro ɖ red-n-yelo strîpt blancit rnd ɖm bʈ—t tel ɖ drîvr t huri bcz nɖr v ɖm hd hd eni ti. No mor gwñ wɖt hiz ti or porñ ǎt hiz ǒn. Ś wz bac. H trnd t hr, sqizd hr hand, n sd jntli, tizñli, in ɖ “speśl” vôs h hd fr hr: “Glad t b hom agn, diri?” Ś smîld; ś dd’nt īvn boɖr t ansr, bt jntli ś drù hiz hand awe az ɖe cem t ɖ brîtr strīts.
“W’v got ɖ bst rūm in ɖ hotel,” h sd. “I wd’nt b pt of wɖ anɖr. N I asct ɖ ćembrmeid t pt in a bit v a fîr in ces y flt ćili. Ś’z a nîs, atntiv grl. N I ʈt nǎ w wr hir w wd’nt boɖr t g hom tmoro, bt spend ɖ de lcñ rnd n līv ɖ mornñ aftr. Dz ɖt sūt y? Ɖr’z no huri, z ɖr? Ɖ ćildṛn wl hv y sn inuf… I ʈt a de’z sîtsiyñ mt mc a nîs brec in yr jrni—ê, Jêni?”
“Hv y tecn ɖ ticits fr ɖ de aftr?” ś asct.
“I śd ʈnc I hv!” H unbutnd hiz oṿcot n tc ǎt hiz buljñ pocit-bc. “Hir w r! I rzrvd a frst-clas carij t Cctǎn. Ɖr it z—‘Mr n Msz Jon Hamnd.’ I ʈt w mt az wel d ǎrslvz cumftbli, n w d’nt wont uɖr ppl butñ in, d w? Bt f y’d lîc t stop hir a bit longr—?”
“Ǒ, no!” sd Jêni qcli. “Nt fr ɖ wrld! Ɖ de aftr tmoro, ɖen. N ɖ ćildṛn—”
Bt ɖe hd rīćt ɖ hotel. Ɖ manijr wz standñ in ɖ brōd, briłntli-lîtd porć. H cem dǎn t grīt ɖm. A portr ran fṛm ɖ hōl fr ɖer boxz.
“Wel, Mr Arnld, hir’z Msz Hamnd at last!”
Ɖ manijr léd ɖm ʈru ɖ hōl himslf n prest ɖ eḷvetrbel. Hamnd ń ɖr wr biznispalz v hiz sitñ at ɖ litl hōlteblz hvñ a drinc bfr dinr. Bt h wz’nt gwñ t risc inṭrupśn; h lct nɖr t ɖ rît nr ɖ left. Ɖe cd ʈnc ẃt ɖe plizd. F ɖe dd’nt unḍstand, ɖ mor fūlz ɖe—n h stept ǎt v ɖ lift, unloct ɖ dor v ɖer rūm, n śeṗdd Jêni in. Ɖ dor śut. Nǎ, at last, ɖe wr alon tgɖr. H trnd p ɖ lît. Ɖ crtnz wr drwn; ɖ fîr blezd. H fluñ hiz hat on t ɖ hyj bed n wnt twdz hr.
Bt—wd y b’liv it!—agn ɖe wr inṭruptd. Ɖs tîm it wz ɖ portr wɖ ɖ lugij. H md tū jrniz v it, līvñ ɖ dor opn in btwn, tecñ hiz tîm, ẃiṣlñ ʈru hiz tīʈ in ɖ coṛdor. Hamnd pêst p n dǎn ɖ rūm, tẹrñ of hiz gluvz, tẹrñ of hiz scarf. Fîṇli h fluñ hiz oṿcot on t ɖ bedsîd.
At last ɖ fūl wz gn. Ɖ dor clict. Nǎ ɖe wr alon. Sd Hamnd: “I fīl I’l nvr hv y t mslf agn. Ɖz crst ppl! Jêni”—n h bnt hiz fluśt, īgr gêz upn hr—“let’s hv dinr p hir. F w g dǎn t ɖ resṭront w’l b inṭruptd, n ɖen ɖr’z ɖ cnfǎndd ḿzic” (ɖ ḿzic h’d prezd so hîli, aplōdd so lǎdli last nît!). “W ś’nt b ebl t hír ć uɖr spīc. Let’s hv smʈñ p hir in frunt v ɖ fîr. It’s tù lêt fr ti. I’l ordr a litl supr, śl I? Hǎ dz ɖt îdīa strîc y?”
“Ǒ, I nīd’nt g dǎn!” xplend Hamnd. “I’l jst rñ n gv ɖ ordr… y d’nt wont t snd m awe, d y?”
Jêni śc hr hed n smîld.
“Bt y’r ʈncñ v smʈñ els. Y’r wuriyñ abt smʈñ,” sd Hamnd. “Ẃt z it? Cm n sit hir—cm n sit on mî ni bfr ɖ fîr.”
“I’l jst unpin mî hat,” sd Jêni, n ś wnt ovr t ɖ dresñtebl. “Āā!” Ś gev a litl crî.
“Ẃt z it?”
“Nʈñ, darlñ. I’v jst faund ɖ ćildṛn’z letrz. Ɖt’s ol rît! Ɖe wl cīp. No huri nǎ!” Ś trnd t him, claspñ ɖm. Ś tuct ɖm intu hr frild blǎz. Ś craid qcli, gêli: “Ǒ, hǎ tipicl ɖs dresñtebl z v y!”
“Ẃ? Ẃt’s ɖ matr wɖ it?” sd Hamnd.
“F it wr flotñ in itrṇti I śd se ‘Jon!’” laft Jêni, stẹrñ at ɖ big botl v hertonic, ɖ wicrbotl v eau-de-Cologne, ɖ tū herbruśz, n a duzn ny coḷrz taid wɖ pnc tep. “Z ɖs ol yr lugij?”
“Hañ mî lugij!” sd Hamnd; bt ol ɖ sem h lîct biyñ laft at bî Jêni. “Let’s tōc. Let’s gt dǎn t ʈñz. Tel m”—n az Jêni prćt on hiz niz h līnd bac n drù hr intu ɖ dīp, ugli ćer—“tel m y’r riyli glad t b bac, Jêni.”
“Yes, darlñ, I am glad,” ś sd.
Bt jst az ẃn h imbrest hr h flt ś wd flî awe, so Hamnd nvr ń—nvr ń fr ded srtn ɖt ś wz az glad az h wz. Hǎ cd h nǒ? Wd h evr nǒ? Wd h olwz hv ɖs crevñ—ɖs pañlîc hungr, smhǎ, t mc Jêni so mć part v him ɖt ɖr wz’nt eni v hr t iscep? H wontd t blot ǎt evrbdi, evrʈñ. H wśt nǎ h’d trnd of ɖ lît. Ɖt mt hv bròt hr nirr. N nǎ ɖoz letrz fṛm ɖ ćildṛn rusld in hr blǎz. H cd hv ćuct ɖm intu ɖ fîr.
“Jêni,” h ẃisprd.
“Yes, dir?” Ś le on hiz brest, bt so lîtli, so rmotli. Ɖer briɖñ rouz n fél tgɖr.
“Ẃt z it?”
“Trn t m,” h ẃisprd. A slo, dīp fluś floud intu hiz fōrhed. “Cis m, Jêni! Y cis m!”
It sīmd t him ɖr wz a tîni pōz—bt loñ inuf fr him t sufr torćr—bfr hr lips tućt hiz, frmli, lîtli—cisñ ɖm az ś olwz cist him, az ɖo ɖ cis—hǎ cd h dscrîb it?—cnfrmd ẃt ɖe wr seyñ, sînd ɖ contract. Bt ɖt wz’nt ẃt h wontd; ɖt wz’nt at ol ẃt h ʈrstd fr. H flt sudnli, hoṛbl tîrd.
“F y ń,” h sd, oṗnñ hiz îz, “ẃt it’s bn lîc—wêtñ tde. I ʈt ɖ bot nvr wd cm in. Ɖr w wr, haññ abt. Ẃt cept y so loñ?”
Ś md no ansr. Ś wz lcñ awe fṛm him at ɖ fîr. Ɖ flemz hurid—hurid ovr ɖ colz, flicrd, fél.
“Nt aslip, r y?” sd Hamnd, n h jumt hr p n dǎn.
“No,” ś sd. N ɖen: “D’nt d ɖt, dir. No, I wz ʈncñ. Az a matr v fact,” ś sd, “wn v ɖ pasinjrz daid last nît—a man. Ɖt’s ẃt hld s p. W bròt him in—I mīn, h wz’nt berid at sì. So, v cors, ɖ śip’s doctr n ɖ śordoctr—”
“Ẃt wz it?” asct Hamnd unīẓli. H hetd t hír v deʈ. H hetd ɖs t hv hapnd. It wz, in sm qir we, az ɖo h n Jêni hd met a fynṛl on ɖer we t ɖ hotel.
“Ǒ, it wz’nt enʈñ in ɖ līst infx́s!” sd Jêni. Ś wz spīcñ scersli abv hr breʈ. “It wz hart.” A pōz. “Pur felo!” ś sd. “Qt yuñ.” N ś woćt ɖ fîr flicr n fōl. “H daid in mî armz,” sd Jêni.
Ɖ blo wz so sudn ɖt Hamnd ʈt h wd fent. H cd’nt muv; h cd’nt briɖ. H flt ol hiz streñʈ flowñ—flowñ intu ɖ big darc ćer, n ɖ big darc ćer hld him fast, gript him, forst him t ber it.
“Ẃt?” h sd duļi. “Ẃt’s ɖt y se?”
“Ɖ end wz qt pīsfl,” sd ɖ smōl vôs. “H jst”—n Hamnd sw hr lift hr jntl hand—“briɖd hiz lîf awe at ɖ end.” N hr hand fél.
“Hu—els wz ɖr?” Hamnd manijd t asc.
“Nbdi. I wz alon wɖ him.”
Ā, mî God, ẃt wz ś seyñ! Ẃt wz ś dwñ t him! Ɖs wd cil him! N ol ɖ ẃl ś spouc:
“I sw ɖ ćenj cmñ n I snt ɖ stywd fr ɖ doctr, bt ɖ doctr wz tù lêt. H cd’nt hv dn enʈñ, enwe.”
“Bt—ẃ y, ẃ y?” mond Hamnd.
At ɖt Jêni trnd qcli, qcli srćt hiz fes.
“Y d’nt mînd, Jon, d y?” ś asct. “Y d’nt—It’s nʈñ t d wɖ y n m.”
Smhǎ or uɖr h manijd t śec sm sort v smîl at hr. Smhǎ or uɖr h stamrd: “No—g—on, g on! I wont y t tel m.”
“Bt, Jon darlñ—”
“Tel m, Jêni!”
“Ɖr’z nʈñ t tel,” ś sd, wunḍrñ. “H wz wn v ɖ frst-clas pasinjrz. I sw h wz vri il ẃn h cem on bōrd… Bt h sīmd t b so mć betr untl yesṭde. H hd a svir atac in ɖ afṭnun—xîtmnt—nrṿsnis, I ʈnc, abt arîvñ. N aftr ɖt h nvr rcuvrd.”
“Bt ẃ dd’nt ɖ stywdes—”
“Ǒ, mî dir—ɖ stywdes!” sd Jêni. “Ẃt wd h hv flt? N bsdz… h mt hv wontd t līv a mesij… t—”
“Dd’nt h?” mutrd Hamnd. “Dd’nt h se enʈñ?”
“No, darlñ, nt a wrd!” Ś śc hr hed softli. “Ol ɖ tîm I wz wɖ him h wz tù wìc… h wz tù wìc īvn t muv a fngr… ”
Jêni wz sîḷnt. Bt hr wrdz, so lît, so soft, so ćil, sīmd t hovr in ɖ er, t ren intu hiz brest lîc sno.
Ɖ fîr hd gn red. Nǎ it fél in wɖ a śarp sǎnd n ɖ rūm wz coldr. Cold crept p hiz armz. Ɖ rūm wz hyj, imns, gliṭrñ. It fild hiz hol wrld. Ɖr wz ɖ gret blînd bed, wɖ hiz cot fluñ acrs it lîc sm hedlis man seyñ hiz prerz. Ɖr wz ɖ lugij, redi t b carid awe agn, enẃr, tóst intu trenz, cartd on t bots.
… “H wz tù wìc. H wz tù wìc t muv a fngr.” N yt h daid in Jêni’z armz. Ś—hu’d nvr—nvr wns in ol ɖz yirz—nvr on wn sngl solitri oceźn—
No; h ms’nt ʈnc v it. Madnis le in ʈncñ v it. No, h wd’nt fes it. H cd’nt stand it. It wz tù mć t ber!
N nǎ Jêni tućt hiz tî wɖ hr fngrz. Ś pinćt ɖ éjz v ɖ tî tgɖr.
“Y’r nt—sori I tld y, Jon darlñ? It hz’nt md y sad? It hz’nt spôlt ǎr īvnñ—ǎr biyñ alon tgɖr?”
Bt at ɖt h hd t hîd hiz fes. H pt hiz fes intu hr bŭzm n hiz armz infoldd hr.
Ẃn ɖ litrri jntlmn, huz flat old Ma Parcr clīnd evri Tyzde, opnd ɖ dor t hr ɖt mornñ, h asct aftr hr gransun. Ma Parcr std on ɖ dormat insd ɖ darc litl hōl, n ś strećt ǎt hr hand t help hr jntlmn śut ɖ dor bfr ś rplaid. “W berid ’im yesṭde, sr,” ś sd qaytli.
“Ǒ, dir m! I’m sori t hír ɖt,” sd ɖ litrri jntlmn in a śoct ton. H wz in ɖ midl v hiz brecfst. H wòr a vri śabi dresñgǎn n carid a crumpld nyzpepr in wn hand. Bt h flt ōcẉd. H cd hardli g bac t ɖ worm sitñrūm wɖt seyñ smʈñ—smʈñ mor. Ɖen bcz ɖz ppl set sć stor bî fynṛlz h sd cîndli, “I hop ɖ fynṛl wnt of ol rît.”“Beg pardñ, sr?” sd old Ma Parcr husc̣li.
Pur old brd! Ś dd lc daśt. “I hop ɖ fynṛl wz a—a—s’xes,” sd h. Ma Parcr gev no ansr. Ś bnt hr hed n hobld of t ɖ cićn, claspñ ɖ old fiśbag ɖt hld hr clīnñʈñz n an epṛn n a per v flt śuz. Ɖ litrri jntlmn rezd hiz îbrǎz n wnt bac t hiz brecfst.
“Oṿcm, I s’poz,” h sd alǎd, hlpñ himslf t ɖ marṃled.
Ma Parcr drù ɖ tū jetispirz ǎt v hr tǒc n huñ it bhnd ɖ dor. Ś unhct hr wòrn jacit n huñ ɖt p tù. Ɖen ś taid hr epṛn n sat dǎn t tec of hr būts. T tec of hr būts or t pt ɖm on wz an aġni t hr, bt it hd bn an aġni fr yirz. In fact, ś wz so acustmd t ɖ pen ɖt hr fes wz drwn n scrùd p redi fr ɖ twinj bfr ś’d so mć az untaid ɖ lêsz. Ɖt ovr, ś sat bac wɖ a sai n softli rubd hr niz…
“Gran! Gran!” Hr litl gransun std on hr lap in hiz butnbūts. H’d jst cm in fṛm pleyñ in ɖ strīt.
“Lc ẃt a stet y’v md yr gran’z scrt intu—y wicid bô!”
Bt h pt hiz armz rnd hr nec n rubd hiz ćīc agnst hrz.
“Gran, gi’s a peni!” h cǒxt.
“B of wɖ y; Gran e’nt got no peniz.”
“Yes, y ’av.”
“No, I e’nt.”
“Yes, y ’av. Gi’s wn!”
Olrdi ś wz fīlñ fr ɖ old, sqośt, blac leɖr prs.
“Wel, ẃt’l y gv yr gran?”
H gev a śî litl laf n prest closr. Ś flt hiz îlid qiṿrñ agnst hr ćīc. “I e’nt got nʈñ,” h mrmrd…
Ɖ old wmn sprañ p, sizd ɖ ayn cetl of ɖ gaștov n tc it ovr t ɖ snc. Ɖ nôz v ɖ wōtr drumñ in ɖ cetl dednd hr pen, it sīmd. Ś fild ɖ peil, tù, n ɖ wośñ-up bol.
It wd tec a hol bc t dscrîb ɖ stet v ɖt cićn. Jrñ ɖ wīc ɖ litrri jntlmn “dd” fr himslf. Ɖt z t se, h emtid ɖ tīlīvz nǎ n agn intu a jamjar set asd fr ɖt prṗs, n f h ran ǎt v clīn forcs h wîpt ovr wn or tū on ɖ rolr tǎl. Uɖ̇wz, az h xplend t hiz frendz, hiz “sistm” wz qt simpl, n h cd’nt unḍstand ẃ ppl md ol ɖs fus abt hǎscīpñ.
“Y simpli drti evrʈñ y’v got, gt a hag in wns a wīc t clīn p, n ɖ ʈñ’z dn.”
Ɖ rzult lct lîc a jîgantic dusbin. Īvn ɖ flor wz litrd wɖ tostcrusts, enṿlops, siġrét-endz. Bt Ma Parcr bòr him no gruj. Ś pitid ɖ pur yuñ jntlmn fr hvñ nwn t lc aftr him. Ǎt v ɖ smuji litl windo y cd si an imns xpans v sad-lcñ scî, n ẃnvr ɖr wr clǎdz ɖe lct vri wòrn, old clǎdz, freid at ɖ éjz, wɖ houlz in ɖm, or darc stenz lîc ti.
Ẃl ɖ wōtr wz hītñ, Ma Parcr bgan swīpñ ɖ flor. “Yes,” ś ʈt, az ɖ brūm noct, “ẃt wɖ wn ʈñ n anɖr I’v hd mî śer. I’v hd a hard lîf.”
Īvn ɖ nebrz sd ɖt v hr. Mni a tîm, hoḅlñ hom wɖ hr fiśbag ś hŕd ɖm, wêtñ at ɖ cornr, or līnñ ovr ɖ erịrelñz, se amñ ɖmslvz, “Ś’z hd a hard lîf, hz Ma Parcr.” N it wz so tru ś wz’nt in ɖ līst prǎd v it. It wz jst az f y wr t se ś livd in ɖ besmntbac at Numbr 27. A hard lîf!…
At sixtīn ś’d left Stratf̣d n cm p t Lundn az cićnmeid. Yes, ś wz born in Stratf̣d-on-Êvn. Śecspir, sr? No, ppl wr olwz ascñ hr abt him. Bt ś’d nvr hŕd hiz nem untl ś sw it on ɖ ʈiytrz.
Nʈñ rmend v Stratf̣d xpt ɖt “sitñ in ɖ fîrples v a īvnñ y cd si ɖ starz ʈru ɖ ćimli,” n “Muɖr olwz ’ad ’r sîd v bêcn, ’aññ fṛm ɖ sīlñ.” N ɖr wz smʈñ—a bś, ɖr wz—at ɖ frunt dor, ɖt smelt evr so nîs. Bt ɖ bś wz vri veg. Ś’d onli rmembrd it wns or twîs in ɖ hospitl, ẃn ś’d bn tecn bad.
Ɖt wz a dredfl ples—hr frst ples. Ś wz nvr alaud ǎt. Ś nvr wnt upsterz xpt fr prerz mornñ n īvnñ. It wz a fer sélr. N ɖ cc wz a cruwl wmn. Ś yst t snać awe hr letrz fṛm hom bfr ś’d réd ɖm, n ʈro ɖm in ɖ renj bcz ɖe md hr drīmi… N ɖ bīdlz! Wd y b’liv it?—untl ś cem t Lundn ś’d nvr sìn a blac bīdl. Hir Ma olwz gev a litl laf, az ɖo—nt t hv sìn a blac bīdl! Wel! It wz az f t se y’d nvr sìn yr ǒn fīt.
Ẃn ɖt faṃli wz sold p ś wnt az “hlp” t a doctr’z hǎs, n aftr tū yirz ɖr, on ɖ run fṛm mornñ tl nît, ś marid hr huzbnd. H wz a becr.
“A becr, Msz Parcr!” ɖ litrri jntlmn wd se. Fr oceźṇli h leid asd hiz tǒmz n lent an ir, at līst, t ɖs product cōld Lîf. “It mst b rɖr nîs t b marid t a becr!”
Msz Parcr dd’nt lc so śr.
“Sć a clīn tred,” sd ɖ jntlmn.
Msz Parcr dd’nt lc cnvinst.
“N dd’nt y lîc handñ ɖ ny lovz t ɖ custmrz?”
“Wel, sr,” sd Msz Parcr, “I wz’nt in ɖ śop abv a gret dīl. W hd ʈrtīn litl wnz n berid sevn v ɖm. F it wz’nt ɖ ’ospitl it wz ɖ infrṃri, y mt se!”
“Y mt, indd, Msz Parcr!” sd ɖ jntlmn, śuḍrñ, n tecñ p hiz pén agn.
Yes, sevn hd gn, n ẃl ɖ six wr stl smōl hr huzbnd wz tecn il wɖ cnsumśn. It wz flaur on ɖ luñz, ɖ doctr tld hr at ɖ tîm… Hr huzbnd sat p in bed wɖ hiz śrt pld ovr hiz hed, n ɖ doctr’z fngr drù a srcl on hiz bac.
“Nǎ, f w wr t cut him opn hir, Msz Parcr,” sd ɖ doctr, “y’d fînd hiz luñz ćóc-a-bloc wɖ ẃît pǎdr. Briɖ, mî gd felo!” N Msz Parcr nvr ń fr srtn ẃɖr ś sw or ẃɖr ś fansid ś sw a gret fan v ẃît dust cm ǎt v hr pur ded huzbnd’z lips…
Bt ɖ strugl ś’d hd t brñ p ɖoz six litl ćildṛn n cīp hrslf t hrslf. Teṛbl it hd bn! Ɖen, jst ẃn ɖe wr old inuf t g t scūl hr huzbnd’z sistr cem t stop wɖ ɖm t hlp ʈñz alñ, n ś hd’nt bn ɖr mor ɖn tū munʈs ẃn ś fél dǎn a flît v steps n hrt hr spîn. N fr fîv yirz Ma Parcr hd anɖr bebi—n sć a wn fr crayñ!—t lc aftr. Ɖen yuñ Mōdi wnt roñ n tc hr sistr Alis wɖ hr; ɖ tū bôz eṃgretd, n yuñ Jim wnt t India wɖ ɖ armi, n Eʈl, ɖ yungist, marid a gd-fr-nʈñ litl wêtr hu daid v ulsrz ɖ yir litl Leni wz born. N nǎ litl Leni—mî gransun…
Ɖ pîlz v drti cups, drti diśz, wr wośt n draid. Ɖ ñc-blac nîvz wr clīnd wɖ a pìs v pteto n finiśt of wɖ a pìs v corc. Ɖ tebl wz scrubd, n ɖ dresr n ɖ snc ɖt hd sardīnteilz swimñ in it…
H’d nvr bn a stroñ ćîld—nvr fṛm ɖ frst. H’d bn wn v ɖoz fer bebiz ɖt evrbdi tc fr a grl. Silṿri fer crlz h hd, blu îz, n a litl frecl lîc a dîmnd on wn sîd v hiz nǒz. Ɖ trubl ś n Eʈl hd hd t rir ɖt ćîld! Ɖ ʈñz ǎt v ɖ nyzpeprz ɖe traid him wɖ! Evri Súnde mornñ Eʈl wd rīd alǎd ẃl Ma Parcr dd hr wośñ.
“Dir Sr,—Jst a lîn t let y nǒ mî litl Mrtl wz leid ǎt fr ded… Aftr for botlz… gend 8 pǎndz in 9 wīcs, n z stl ptñ it on.”
N ɖen ɖ egcup v ñc wd cm of ɖ dresr n ɖ letr wd b ritn, n Ma wd bai a postl ordr on hr we t wrc nxt mornñ. Bt it wz no ys. Nʈñ md litl Leni pt it on. Tecñ him t ɖ seṃtri, īvn, nvr gev him a culr; a nîs śec-up in ɖ bus nvr impruvd hiz aṗtît.
Bt h wz gran’z bô fṛm ɖ frst…
“Huz bô r y?” sd old Ma Parcr, streṭnñ p fṛm ɖ stov n gwñ ovr t ɖ smuji windo. N a litl vôs, so worm, so clos, it haf stîfld hr—it sīmd t b in hr brest undr hr hart—laft ǎt, n sd, “I’m gran’z bô!”
At ɖt momnt ɖr wz a sǎnd v steps, n ɖ litrri jntlmn apird, drest fr wōcñ.
“Ǒ, Msz Parcr, I’m gwñ ǎt.”
“Vri gd, sr.”
“N y’l fînd yr haf-crǎn in ɖ tre v ɖ ñcstand.”
“Ʈanc y, sr.”
“Ǒ, bî ɖ we, Msz Parcr,” sd ɖ litrri jntlmn qcli, “y dd’nt ʈro awe eni coco last tîm y wr hir—dd y?”
“Vri strenj. I cd hv sworn I left a tīspūnfl v coco in ɖ tin.” H brouc of. H sd softli n frmli, “Y’l olwz tel m ẃn y ʈro ʈñz awe—w’nt y, Msz Parcr?” N h wōct of vri wel plizd wɖ himslf, cnvinst, in fact, h’d śoun Msz Parcr ɖt undr hiz apaṛnt cerlisnis h wz az vijiḷnt az a wmn.
Ɖ dor bañd. Ś tc hr bruśz n cloʈs intu ɖ bedrūm. Bt ẃn ś bgan t mc ɖ bed, smuɖñ, tucñ, patñ, ɖ ʈt v litl Leni wz unbeṛbl. Ẃ dd h hv t sufr so? Ɖt’s ẃt ś cd’nt unḍstand. Ẃ śd a litl enjlćîld hv t asc fr hiz breʈ n fît fr it? Ɖr wz no sns in mcñ a ćîld sufr lîc ɖt.
… Fṛm Leni’z litl box v a ćst ɖr cem a sǎnd az ɖo smʈñ wz bôlñ. Ɖr wz a gret lump v smʈñ buḅlñ in hiz ćst ɖt h cd’nt gt rid v. Ẃn h coft ɖ swet sprañ ǎt on hiz hed; hiz îz buljd, hiz handz wevd, n ɖ gret lump bubld az a pteto nocs in a sōspn. Bt ẃt wz mor ōfl ɖn ol wz ẃn h dd’nt cof h sat agnst ɖ pilo n nvr spouc or ansrd, or īvn md az f h hŕd. Onli h lct ofndd.
“It’s nt yr pur old gran’z dwñ it, mî luvi,” sd old Ma Parcr, patñ bac ɖ damp her fṛm hiz litl scarlit irz. Bt Leni muvd hiz hed n éjd awe. Dredf̣li ofndd wɖ hr h lct—n soḷm. H bnt hiz hed n lct at hr sîdwez az ɖo h cd’nt hv b’livd it v hiz gran.
Bt at ɖ last… Ma Parcr ʈrù ɖ cǎnṭpein ovr ɖ bed. No, ś simpli cd’nt ʈnc abt it. It wz tù mć—ś’d hd tù mć in hr lîf t ber. Ś’d bòrn it p tl nǎ, ś’d cept hrslf t hrslf, n nvr wns hd ś bn sìn t crî. Nvr bî a livñ soul. Nt īvn hr ǒn ćildṛn hd sìn Ma brec dǎn. Ś’d cept a prǎd fes olwz. Bt nǎ! Leni gn—ẃt hd ś? Ś hd nʈñ. H wz ol ś’d got fṛm lîf, n nǎ h wz tc tù. Ẃ mst it ol hv hapnd t m? ś wundrd. “Ẃt hv I dn?” sd old Ma Parcr. “Ẃt hv I dn?”
Az ś sd ɖoz wrdz ś sudnli let fōl hr bruś. Ś faund hrslf in ɖ cićn. Hr miẓri wz so teṛbl ɖt ś pind on hr hat, pt on hr jacit n wōct ǎt v ɖ flat lîc a prsn in a drīm. Ś dd nt nǒ ẃt ś wz dwñ. Ś wz lîc a prsn so dezd bî ɖ horr v ẃt hz hapnd ɖt h wōcs awe—enẃr, az ɖo bî wōcñ awe h cd iscep…
It wz cold in ɖ strīt. Ɖr wz a wind lîc îs. Ppl wnt flitñ bî, vri fast; ɖ men wōct lîc sizrz; ɖ wimin trod lîc cats. N nbdi ń—nbdi cerd. Īvn f ś brouc dǎn, f at last, aftr ol ɖz yirz, ś wr t crî, ś’d fînd hrslf in ɖ loc-up az lîc az nt.
Bt at ɖ ʈt v crayñ it wz az ɖo litl Leni lept in hiz gran’z armz. Ā, ɖt’s ẃt ś wonts t d, mî duv. Gran wonts t crî. F ś cd onli crî nǎ, crî fr a loñ tîm, ovr evrʈñ, bginñ wɖ hr frst ples n ɖ cruwl cc, gwñ on t ɖ doctr’z, n ɖen ɖ sevn litl wnz, deʈ v hr huzbnd, ɖ ćildṛn’z līvñ hr, n ol ɖ yirz v miẓri ɖt léd p t Leni. Bt t hv a propr crî ovr ol ɖz ʈñz wd tec a loñ tîm. Ol ɖ sem, ɖ tîm fr it hd cm. Ś mst d it. Ś cd’nt pt it of eni longr; ś cd’nt wêt eni mor… Ẃr cd ś g?
“Ś’z hd a hard lîf, hz Ma Parcr.” Yes, a hard lîf, indd! Hr ćin bgan t trembl; ɖr wz no tîm t lūz. Bt ẃr? Ẃr?
Ś cd’nt g hom; Eʈl wz ɖr. It wd frîtn Eʈl ǎt v hr lîf. Ś cd’nt sit on a bnć enẃr; ppl wd cm ascñ hr qsćnz. Ś cd’nt poṣbli g bac t ɖ jntlmn’z flat; ś hd no rît t crî in strenjrz’ hǎzz. F ś sat on sm steps a p’līsmn wd spīc t hr.
Ǒ, wz’nt ɖr enẃr ẃr ś cd hîd n cīp hrslf t hrslf n ste az loñ az ś lîct, nt dstrbñ enbdi, n nbdi wuriyñ hr? Wz’nt ɖr enẃr in ɖ wrld ẃr ś cd hv hr crî ǎt—at last?
Ma Parcr std, lcñ p n dǎn. Ɖ îsi wind blù ǎt hr epṛn intu a b’lūn. N nǎ it bgan t ren. Ɖr wz nẃr.
V cors h ń—no man betr—ɖt h hd’nt a gost v a ćans, h hd’nt an rʈli. Ɖ vri îdīa v sć a ʈñ wz pripostṛs. So pripostṛs ɖt h’d prf̣cli unḍstand it f hr faɖr—wel, ẃtvr hr faɖr ćouz t d h’d prf̣cli unḍstand. In fact, nʈñ śort v desṗreśn, nʈñ śort v ɖ fact ɖt ɖs wz poztivli hiz last de in Ñgḷnd fr God nz hǎ loñ, wd hv scrùd him p t it. N īvn nǎ… H ćouz a tî ǎt v ɖ ćst v drorz, a blu n crīm ćec tî, n sat on ɖ sîd v hiz bed. S’pozñ ś rplaid, “Ẃt imprtinns!” wd h b s’prîzd? Nt in ɖ līst, h dsîdd, trnñ p hiz soft colr n trnñ it dǎn ovr ɖ tî. H xpctd hr t se smʈñ lîc ɖt. H dd’nt si, f h lct at ɖ afer ded sobrli, ẃt els ś cd se.
Hir h wz! N nrṿsli h taid a bo in frunt v ɖ mirr, jamd hiz her dǎn wɖ bʈ handz, pld ǎt ɖ flaps v hiz jacitpocits. Mcñ btwn 500 n 600 pǎndz a yir on a frūtfarm in—v ol plesz—R’dīźa. No capitl. Nt a peni cmñ t him. No ćans v hiz incm incrisñ fr at līst for yirz. Az fr lcs n ol ɖt sort v ʈñ, h wz cmplitli ǎt v ɖ runñ. H cd’nt īvn bost v top-houl hlʈ, fr ɖ Īst Africa biznis hd noct him ǎt so ʈuṛli ɖt h’d hd t tec six munʈs’ līv. H wz stl firf̣li pel—wrs īvn ɖn yźl ɖs afṭnun, h ʈt, bndñ fwd n pirñ intu ɖ mirr. Gd hevnz! Ẃt hd hapnd? Hiz her lct olmst brît grīn. Daś it ol, h hd’nt grīn her at ol ivnts. Ɖt wz a bit tù stīp. N ɖen ɖ grīn lît trembld in ɖ glas; it wz ɖ śado fṛm ɖ tri ǎtsd. Reji trnd awe, tc ǎt hiz siġrétces, bt rmemḅrñ hǎ ɖ metr hetd him t smoc in hiz bedrūm, pt it bac agn n driftd ovr t ɖ ćst v drorz. No, h wz daśt f h cd ʈnc v wn blesid ʈñ in hiz fevr, ẃl ś… Ā!… H stopt ded, foldd hiz armz, n līnd hard agnst ɖ ćst v drorz.
N in spît v hr pziśn, hr faɖr’z wlʈ, ɖ fact ɖt ś wz an onli ćîld n far n awe ɖ most popylr grl in ɖ nebrhd; in spît v hr byti n hr clevrnis—clevrnis!—it wz a gret dīl mor ɖn ɖt, ɖr wz riyli nʈñ ś cd’nt d; h fŭli b’livd, hd it bn nesṣri, ś wd hv bn a jīńs at enʈñ… in spît v ɖ fact ɖt hr peṛnts adord hr, n ś ɖm, n ɖ’d az sn let hr g ol ɖt we az… In spît v evri sngl ʈñ y cd ʈnc v, so t’rific wz hiz luv ɖt h cd’nt hlp hopñ. Wel, wz it hop? Or wz ɖs qir, timid loññ t hv ɖ ćans v lcñ aftr hr, v mcñ it hiz job t si ɖt ś hd evrʈñ ś wontd, n ɖt nʈñ cem nir hr ɖt wz’nt prfict… jst luv? Hǎ h luvd hr! H sqizd hard agnst ɖ ćst v drorz n mrmrd t it, “I luv hr, I luv hr!” N jst fr ɖ momnt h wz wɖ hr on ɖ we t Umtali. It wz nît. Ś sat in a cornr aslip. Hr soft ćin wz tuct intu hr soft colr, hr gold-brǎn laśz le on hr ćīcs. H dǒtd on hr delic̣t litl nǒz, hr prfict lips, hr ir lîc a bebi’z, n ɖ gold-brǎn crl ɖt haf cuvrd it. Ɖe wr pasñ ʈru ɖ jungl. It wz worm n darc n far awe. Ɖen ś wouc p n sd, “Hv I bn aslip?” n h ansrd, “Yes. R y ol rît? Hir, let m…” N h līnd fwd t… H bnt ovr hr. Ɖs wz sć blis ɖt h cd drīm no frɖr. Bt it gev him ɖ curij t bǎnd dǎnsterz, t snać hiz strw hat fṛm ɖ hōl, n t se az h clozd ɖ frunt dor, “Wel, I cn onli trî mî luc, ɖt’s ol.”
Bt hiz luc gev him a nasti jar, t se ɖ līst, olmst imīɉtli. Proṃnedñ p n dǎn ɖ gardnpaʈ wɖ Ćini n Bidi, ɖ enćnt Pīcs, wz ɖ metr. V cors Rejinld wz fond v ɖ metr n ol ɖt. Ś… ś mnt wel, ś hd no end v grit, n so on. Bt ɖr wz no dnayñ it, ś wz rɖr a grim peṛnt. N ɖr hd bn momnts, mni v ɖm, in Reji’z lîf, bfr Uncl Alic daid n left him ɖ frūtfarm, ẃn h wz cnvinst ɖt t b a wido’z onli sun wz abt ɖ wrst puniśmnt a ćap cd hv. N ẃt md it rufr ɖn evr wz ɖt ś wz poztivli ol ɖt h hd. Ś wz’nt onli a cmbînd peṛnt, az it wr, bt ś hd qoṛld wɖ ol hr ǒn n ɖ guvnr’z rleśnz bfr Reji hd wún hiz frst trǎzrpocits. So ɖt ẃnvr Reji wz homsic ǎt ɖr, sitñ on hiz darc vranda bî starlît, ẃl ɖ graṃfon craid, “Dir, ẃt z Lîf bt Luv?” hiz onli viźn wz v ɖ metr, tōl n stǎt, ruṣlñ dǎn ɖ gardnpaʈ, wɖ Ćini n Bidi at hr hìlz…
Ɖ metr, wɖ hr sizrz ǎtspred t snap ɖ hed v a ded smʈñ or uɖr, stopt at ɖ sît v Reji.
“I śd hv ʈt y cd hv sperd yr muɖr yr last afṭnun,” sd ś.
Sîḷns. Ɖ Pīcs stérd. Ɖe unḍstd evri wrd v ɖ metr’z. Bidi le dǎn wɖ hr tuñ pǒct ǎt; ś wz so fat n glosi ś lct lîc a lump v haf-mltd tofi. Bt Ćini’z porṣlin îz glūmd at Rejinld, n h snift fentli, az ɖo ɖ hol wrld wr wn unpleznt smel. Snip, wnt ɖ sizrz agn. Pur litl begrz; ɖe wr gtñ it!
“N ẃr r y gwñ, f yr muɖr me asc?” asct ɖ metr.
It wz ovr at last, bt Reji dd nt slo dǎn untl h wz ǎt v sît v ɖ hǎs n hafwe t Crnl Proctr’z. Ɖen onli h notist ẃt a top-houl afṭnun it wz. It hd bn renñ ol ɖ mornñ, lêt-sumr ren, worm, hevi, qc, n nǎ ɖ scî wz clir, xpt fr a loñ teil v litl clǎdz, lîc duclñz, sêlñ ovr ɖ forist. Ɖr wz jst inuf wind t śec ɖ last drops of ɖ triz; wn worm star splaśt on hiz hand. Pñ!—anɖr drumd on hiz hat. Ɖ emti rod glīmd, ɖ hejz smeld v brayr, n hǎ big n brît ɖ hólihocs gloud in ɖ cotijgardnz. N hir wz Crnl Proctr’z—hir it wz olrdi. Hiz hand wz on ɖ get, hiz elbo jogd ɖ sringa-bśz, n petlz n poḷn scatrd ovr hiz cotslīv. Bt wêt a bit. Ɖs wz tù qc oltgɖr. H’d mnt t ʈnc ɖ hol ʈñ ǎt agn. Hir, stedi. Bt h wz wōcñ p ɖ paʈ, wɖ ɖ hyj rǒz-bśz on îɖr sîd. It c’nt b dn lîc ɖs. Bt hiz hand hd graspt ɖ bel, gvn it a pl, n startd it pìlñ wîldli, az f h’d cm t se ɖ hǎs wz on fîr. Ɖ hǎsmeid mst hv bn in ɖ hōl, tù, fr ɖ frunt dor flaśt opn, n Reji wz śut in ɖ emti drw̃rūm bfr ɖt cnfǎndd bel hd stopt rññ. Strenjli inuf, ẃn it dd, ɖ big rūm, śadǒi, wɖ smwn’z paṛsol layñ on top v ɖ grand piano, buct him p—or rɖr, xîtd him. It wz so qayt, n yt in wn momnt ɖ dor wd opn, n hiz fet b dsîdd. Ɖ fīlñ wz nt unlîc ɖt v biyñ at ɖ dntist’s; h wz olmst reclis. Bt at ɖ sem tîm, t hiz imns s’prîz, Reji hŕd himslf seyñ, “Lord, Ɖǎ knowest, Ɖǎ hast nt dn mć fr m…” Ɖt pld him p; ɖt md him riylîz agn hǎ ded sirịs it wz. Tù lêt. Ɖ dor handl trnd. Án cem in, crost ɖ śadǒi spes btwn ɖm, gev him hr hand, n sd, in hr smōl, soft vôs, “I’m so sori, faɖr z ǎt. N muɖr z hvñ a de in tǎn, hathuntñ. Ɖr’z onli m t entten y, Reji.”
Reji gaspt, prest hiz ǒn hat t hiz jacitbutnz, n stamrd ǎt, “Az a matr v fact, I’v onli cm… t se gdbî.”
“Ǒ!” craid Án softli—ś stept bac fṛm him n hr gre îz danst—“ẃt a vri śort vizit!”
Ɖen, woćñ him, hr ćin tiltd, ś laft ǎtrît, a loñ, soft pìl, n wōct awe fṛm him ovr t ɖ piano, n līnd agnst it, pleyñ wɖ ɖ tasl v ɖ paṛsol.
“I’m so sori,” ś sd, “t b lafñ lîc ɖs. I d’nt nǒ ẃ I d. It’s jst a bad h-habit.” N sudnli ś stamt hr gre śu, n tc a pocithanc̣ćif ǎt v hr ẃît wŭli jacit. “I riyli mst concr it, it’s tù absrd,” sd ś.
“Gd hevnz, Án,” craid Reji, “I luv t hír y lafñ! I c’nt imajin enʈñ mor…”
Bt ɖ truʈ wz, n ɖe bʈ ń it, ś wz’nt olwz lafñ; it wz’nt riyli a habit. Onli evr sins ɖ de ɖ’d met, evr sins ɖt vri frst momnt, fr sm strenj rīzn ɖt Reji wśt t God h unḍstd, Án hd laft at him. Ẃ? It dd’nt matr ẃr ɖe wr or ẃt ɖe wr tōcñ abt. Ɖe mt bgin bî biyñ az sirịs az poṣbl, ded sirịs—at eni ret, az far az h wz cnsrnd—bt ɖen sudnli, in ɖ midl v a sntns, Án wd glans at him, n a litl qc qivr pást ovr hr fes. Hr lips partd, hr îz danst, n ś bgan lafñ.
Anɖr qir ʈñ abt it wz, Reji hd an îdīa ś dd’nt hrslf nǒ ẃ ś laft. H hd sìn hr trn awe, frǎn, suc in hr ćīcs, pres hr handz tgɖr. Bt it wz no ys. Ɖ loñ, soft pìl sǎndd, īvn ẃl ś craid, “I d’nt nǒ ẃ I’m lafñ.” It wz a misṭri…
Nǎ ś tuct ɖ hanc̣ćif awe.
“D sit dǎn,” sd ś. “N smoc, w’nt y? Ɖr r siġréts in ɖt litl box bsd y. I’l hv wn tù.” H lîtd a mać fr hr, n az ś bnt fwd h sw ɖ tîni flem glo in ɖ prl rñ ś wòr. “It z tmoro ɖt y’r gwñ, z’nt it?” sd Án.
“Yes, tmoro az evr wz,” sd Reji, n h blù a litl fan v smoc. Ẃ on rʈ wz h so nrṿs? Nrṿs wz’nt ɖ wrd fr it.
“It’s… it’s frîtf̣li hard t b’liv,” h add.
“Yes… z’nt it?” sd Án softli, n ś līnd fwd n rold ɖ pônt v hr siġrét rnd ɖ grīn aśtre. Hǎ bytifl ś lct lîc ɖt!—simpli bytifl—n ś wz so smōl in ɖt imns ćer. Rejinld’z hart sweld wɖ tndrnis, bt it wz hr vôs, hr soft vôs, ɖt md him trembl. “I fīl y’v bn hir fr yirz,” ś sd.
Rejinld tc a dīp breʈ v hiz siġrét. “It’s gastli, ɖs îdīa v gwñ bac,” h sd.
“C’ru-cu-cu-cu,” sǎndd fṛm ɖ qayt.
“Bt y’r fond v biyñ ǎt ɖr, r’nt y?” sd Án. Ś hct hr fngr ʈru hr prl necḷs. “Faɖr wz seyñ onli ɖ uɖr nît hǎ luci h ʈt y wr t hv a lîf v yr ǒn.” N ś lct p at him. Rejinld’z smîl wz rɖr won. “I d’nt fīl firf̣li luci,” h sd lîtli.
“Ru-cu-cu-cu,” cem agn. N Án mrmrd, “Y mīn it’s lonli.”
“Ǒ, it z’nt ɖ lonlinis I cer abt,” sd Rejinld, n h stumt hiz siġrét saṿjli on ɖ grīn aśtre. “I cd stand eni amǎnt v it, yst t lîc it īvn. It’s ɖ îdīa v—” Sudnli, t hiz horr, h flt himslf bluśñ.
Án jumt p. “Cm n se gdbî t mî duvz,” ś sd. “Ɖ’v bn muvd t ɖ sîd vranda. Y d lîc duvz, d’nt y, Reji?”
“Ōf̣li,” sd Reji, so frvntli ɖt az h opnd ɖ Frenć windo fr hr n std t wn sîd, Án ran fwd n laft at ɖ duvz instd.
T n fro, t n fro ovr ɖ fîn red sand on ɖ flor v ɖ duvhǎs, wōct ɖ tū duvz. Wn wz olwz in frunt v ɖ uɖr. Wn ran fwd, uṭrñ a litl crî, n ɖ uɖr foloud, soḷmli bawñ n bawñ. “Y si,” xplend Án, “ɖ wn in frunt, ś’z Msz Duv. Ś lcs at Mr Duv n gvz ɖt litl laf n runz fwd, n h foloz hr, bawñ n bawñ. N ɖt mcs hr laf agn. Awe ś runz, n aftr hr,” craid Án, n ś sat bac on hr hìlz, “cmz pur Mr Duv, bawñ n bawñ… n ɖt’s ɖer hol lîf. Ɖe nvr d enʈñ els, y nǒ.” Ś got p n tc sm yelo grenz ǎt v a bag on ɖ rūf v ɖ duv hǎs. “Ẃn y ʈnc v ɖm, ǎt in R’dīźa, Reji, y cn b śr ɖt z ẃt ɖe wl b dwñ… ”
Reji gev no sîn v hvñ sìn ɖ duvz or v hvñ hŕd a wrd. Fr ɖ momnt h wz conśs onli v ɖ imns ef̣t it tc t ter hiz sīcrit ǎt v himslf n ofr it t Án. “Án, d y ʈnc y cd evr cer fr m?” It wz dn. It wz ovr. N in ɖ litl pōz ɖt foloud Rejinld sw ɖ gardn opn t ɖ lît, ɖ blu qiṿrñ scî, ɖ flutr v līvz on ɖ vranḍpolz, n Án trnñ ovr ɖ grenz v meiz on hr pām wɖ wn fngr. Ɖen slǒli ś śut hr hand, n ɖ ny wrld fedd az ś mrmrd slǒli, “No, nvr in ɖt we.” Bt h hd scersli tîm t fīl enʈñ bfr ś wōct qcli awe, n h foloud hr dǎn ɖ steps, alñ ɖ gardnpaʈ, undr ɖ pnc rǒz-arćz, acrs ɖ lōn. Ɖr, wɖ ɖ ge hbeśs bordr bhnd hr, Án fest Rejinld. “It z’nt ɖt I’m nt ōf̣li fond v y,” ś sd. “I am. Bt”—hr îz wîdnd—“nt in ɖ we”—a qivr pást ovr hr fes—“wn òt t b fond v…” Hr lips partd, n ś cd’nt stop hrslf. Ś bgan lafñ. “Ɖr, y si, y si,” ś craid, “it’s yr ćec t-tî. Īvn at ɖs momnt, ẃn wn wd ʈnc wn riyli wd b soḷm, yr tî rmîndz m firf̣li v ɖ bǒtî ɖt cats wer in picćrz! Ǒ, plīz fgiv m fr biyñ so horid, plīz!”
Reji còt hold v hr litl worm hand. “Ɖr’z no qsćn v fgivñ y,” h sd qcli. “Hǎ cd ɖr b? N I d b’liv I nǒ ẃ I mc y laf. It’s bcz y’r so far abv m in evri we ɖt I am smhǎ r’dikḷs. I si ɖt, Án. Bt f I wr t…”
“No, no.” Án sqizd hiz hand hard. “It’s nt ɖt. Ɖt’s ol roñ. I’m nt far abv y at ol. Y’r mć betr ɖn I am. Y’r marvḷsli unslfiś n… n cînd n simpl. I’m nn v ɖoz ʈñz. Y d’nt nǒ m. I’m ɖ most ōfl caṛctr,” sd Án. “Plīz d’nt inṭrupt. N bsdz, ɖt’s nt ɖ pônt. Ɖ pônt z”—ś śc hr hed—“I cd’nt poṣbli mari a man I laft at. Śrli y si ɖt. Ɖ man I mari…” briɖd Án softli. Ś brouc of. Ś drù hr hand awe, n lcñ at Reji ś smîld strenjli, drīṃli. “Ɖ man I mari…”
N it sīmd t Reji ɖt a tōl, hansm, briłnt strenjr stept in frunt v him n tc hiz ples—ɖ cnd v man ɖt Án n h hd sìn ofn at ɖ ʈiytr, wōcñ on t ɖ stej fṛm nẃr, wɖt a wrd caćñ ɖ herǒin in hiz armz, n aftr wn loñ, tṛmnḍs lc, cariyñ hr of t enẃr…
Reji baud t hiz viźn. “Yes, I si,” h sd husc̣li.
“D y?” sd Án. “Ǒ, I d hop y d. Bcz I fīl so horid abt it. It’s so hard t xplen. Y nǒ I’v nvr…” Ś stopt. Reji lct at hr. Ś wz smîlñ. “Z’nt it funi?” ś sd. “I cn se enʈñ t y. I olwz hv bn ebl t fṛm ɖ vri bginñ.”
H traid t smîl, t se “I’m glad.” Ś wnt on. “I’v nvr noun enwn I lîc az mć az I lîc y. I’v nvr flt so hapi wɖ enwn. Bt I’m śr it’s nt ẃt ppl n ẃt bcs mīn ẃn ɖe tōc abt luv. D y unḍstand? Ǒ, f y onli ń hǎ horid I fīl. Bt w’d b lîc… lîc Mr n Msz Duv.”
Ɖt dd it. Ɖt sīmd t Rejinld fînl, n so teṛbli tru ɖt h cd hardli ber it. “D’nt drîv it hom,” h sd, n h trnd awe fṛm Án n lct acrs ɖ lōn. Ɖr wz ɖ gardnr’z cotij, wɖ ɖ darc îlextrī bsd it. A wet, blu ʈum v trnspaṛnt smoc huñ abv ɖ ćimni. It dd’nt lc riyl. Hǎ hiz ʈrot ect! Cd h spīc? H hd a śot. “I mst b gtñ alñ hom,” h crǒct, n h bgan wōcñ acrs ɖ lōn. Bt Án ran aftr him. “No, d’nt. Y c’nt g yt,” ś sd implorñli. “Y c’nt poṣbli g awe fīlñ lîc ɖt.” N ś stérd p at him frǎnñ, bîtñ hr lip.
“Ǒ, ɖt’s ol rît,” sd Reji, gvñ himslf a śec. “I’l… I’l…” N h wevd hiz hand az mć az t se “gt ovr it.”
“Bt ɖs z ōfl,” sd Án. Ś claspt hr handz n std in frunt v him. “Śrli y d si hǎ fetl it wd b fr s t mari, d’nt y?”
“Ǒ, qt, qt,” sd Reji, lcñ at hr wɖ haġd îz.
“Hǎ roñ, hǎ wicid, fīlñ az I d. I mīn, it’s ol vri wel fr Mr n Msz Duv. Bt imajin ɖt in riyl lîf… Imajin it!”
“Ǒ, abṣlutli,” sd Reji, n h startd t wōc on. Bt agn Án stopt him. Ś tugd at hiz slīv, n t hiz astoniśmnt, ɖs tîm, instd v lafñ, ś lct lîc a litl grl hu wz gwñ t crî.
“Ɖen ẃ, f y unḍstand, r y so un-unhapi?” ś weild. “Ẃ d y mînd so firf̣li? Ẃ d y lc so ō-ōfl?”
Reji gulpt, n agn h wevd smʈñ awe. “I c’nt hlp it,” h sd, “I’v hd a blo. F I cut of nǎ, I’l b ebl t…”
“Hǎ cn y tōc v cutñ of nǎ?” sd Án scornf̣li. Ś stamt hr ft at Reji; ś wz crimzn. “Hǎ cn y b so cruwl? I c’nt let y g untl I nǒ fr srtn ɖt y r jst az hapi az y wr bfr y asct m t mari y. Śrli y mst si ɖt, it’s so simpl.”
Bt it dd nt sīm at ol simpl t Rejinld. It sīmd imposbli dificlt.
“Īvn f I c’nt mari y, hǎ cn I nǒ ɖt y’r ol ɖt we awe, wɖ onli ɖt ōfl muɖr t rait t, n ɖt y’r mizṛbl, n ɖt it’s ol mî fōlt?”
“It’s nt yr fōlt. D’nt ʈnc ɖt. It’s jst fet.” Reji tc hr hand of hiz slīv n cist it. “D’nt piti m, dir litl Án,” h sd jntli. N ɖs tîm h nirli ran, undr ɖ pnc arćz, alñ ɖ gardnpaʈ.
Vri rli mornñ. Ɖ sún wz nt yt rizn, n ɖ hol v Cresnt Be wz hidn undr a ẃît sīmist. Ɖ big bś-cuvrd hilz at ɖ bac wr smuɖrd. Y cd nt si ẃr ɖe endd n ɖ paḍcs n bunġloz bgan. Ɖ sandi rod wz gn n ɖ paḍcs n bunġloz ɖ uɖr sîd v it; ɖr wr no ẃît dynz cuvrd wɖ rediś gras bynd ɖm; ɖr wz nʈñ t marc ẃć wz bīć n ẃr wz ɖ sī. A hevi dȳ hd fōḷn. Ɖ gras wz blu. Big drops huñ on ɖ bśz n jst dd nt fōl; ɖ silṿri, flufi toi-toi wz limp on its loñ stōcz, n ol ɖ maṛgoldz n ɖ pncs in ɖ bunġlogardnz wr baud t ɖ rʈ wɖ wetnis. Drenćt wr ɖ cold fyśaz, rǎnd prlz v dȳ le on ɖ flat nstrśmlīvz. It lct az ɖo ɖ sī hd bìtn p softli in ɖ darcnis, az ɖo wn imns wev hd cm riplñ, riplñ—hǎ far? Phps f y hd wect p in ɖ midl v ɖ nît y mt hv sìn a big fiś flicñ in at ɖ windo n gn agn…
Ā-ā! sǎndd ɖ slīpi sī. N fṛm ɖ bś ɖr cem ɖ sǎnd v litl strīmz flowñ, qcli, lîtli, slipñ btwn ɖ smuɖ stonz, guśñ intu frni besnz n ǎt agn; n ɖr wz ɖ splaśñ v big drops on larj līvz, n smʈñ els—ẃt wz it?—a fent stŕñ n śecñ, ɖ snapñ v a twig n ɖen sć sîḷns ɖt it sīmd smwn wz liṣnñ.
Rnd ɖ cornr v Cresnt Be, btwn ɖ pîld-up masz v brocn roc, a floc v śīp cem paṭrñ. Ɖe wr hudld tgɖr, a smōl, tosñ, wŭli mas, n ɖer ʈin, sticlîc legz trotd alñ qcli az f ɖ cold n ɖ qayt hd frîtnd ɖm. Bhnd ɖm an old śīpdog, hiz sǒcñ pwz cuvrd wɖ sand, ran alñ wɖ hiz nǒz t ɖ grǎnd, bt cerlisli, az f ʈncñ v smʈñ els. N ɖen in ɖ roci getwe ɖ śeṗd himslf apird. H wz a līn, uprît old man, in a frìz cot ɖt wz cuvrd wɖ a web v tîni drops, velvit trǎzrz taid undr ɖ ni, n a wîd-awec wɖ a foldd blu hanc̣ćif rnd ɖ brim. Wn hand wz cramd intu hiz blt, ɖ uɖr graspt a bytifli smuɖ yelo stic. N az h wōct, tecñ hiz tîm, h cept p a vri soft lît ẃiṣlñ, an e’ri, far-awe flūtñ ɖt sǎndd mōrnfl n tndr. Ɖ old dog cut an enćnt cepr or tū n ɖen drù p śarp, aśemd v hiz leṿti, n wōct a fy digṇfaid pesz bî hiz mastr’z sîd. Ɖ śīp ran fwd in litl paṭrñ ruśz; ɖe bgan t blīt, n gostli flocs n hŕdz ansrd ɖm fṛm undr ɖ sī. “Ba! Baaa!” Fr a tîm ɖe sīmd t b olwz on ɖ sem pìs v grǎnd. Ɖr ahd wz strećt ɖ sandi rod wɖ śalo pudlz; ɖ sem sǒcñ bśz śoud on îɖr sîd n ɖ sem śadǒi pêlñz. Ɖen smʈñ imns cem intu vy; an inorṃs śoc-herd jaynt wɖ hiz armz strećt ǎt. It wz ɖ big gumtrī ǎtsd Msz Stubz’ śop, n az ɖe pást bî ɖr wz a stroñ ẃif v yc̣lipṭs. N nǎ big spots v lît glīmd in ɖ mist. Ɖ śeṗd stopt ẃiṣlñ; h rubd hiz red nǒz n wet bird on hiz wet slīv n, scruwñ p hiz îz, glanst in ɖ d’rex́n v ɖ sī. Ɖ sún wz rîzñ. It wz marvḷs hǎ qcli ɖ mist ʈind, sped awe, dzolvd fṛm ɖ śalo plen, rold p fṛm ɖ bś n wz gn az f in a huri t iscep; big twists n crlz josld n śoldrd ć uɖr az ɖ silṿri bīmz brōdnd. Ɖ far-awe scî—a brît, pyr blu—wz rflectd in ɖ pudlz, n ɖ drops, swimñ alñ ɖ teḷgrafpolz, flaśt intu pônts v lît. Nǎ ɖ līpñ, gliṭrñ sī wz so brît it md wn’z îz ec t lc at it. Ɖ śeṗd drù a pîp, ɖ bol az smōl az an ecorn, ǎt v hiz brestpocit, fumbld fr a ćunc v specld tbaco, perd of a fy śevñz n stuft ɖ bol. H wz a grev, fîn-lcñ old man. Az h lit p n ɖ blu smoc rīɖd hiz hed, ɖ dog, woćñ, lct prǎd v him.
“Ba! Baaa!” Ɖ śīp spred ǎt intu a fan. Ɖe wr jst clir v ɖ sumrcoḷni bfr ɖ frst slīpr trnd ovr n liftd a drǎzi hed; ɖer crî sǎndd in ɖ drīmz v litl ćildṛn… hu liftd ɖer armz t drag dǎn, t cudl ɖ darlñ litl wŭli lamz v slīp. Ɖen ɖ frst inhabitnt apird; it wz ɖ Brnélz’ cat Flori, sitñ on ɖ getpost, far tù rli az yẓ́l, lcñ fr ɖer milcgrl. Ẃn ś sw ɖ old śīpdog ś sprañ p qcli, arćt hr bac, drù in hr tabi hed, n sīmd t gv a litl fstidịs śivr. “Ug! Ẃt a cōrs, rvoltñ crīćr!” sd Flori. Bt ɖ old śīpdog, nt lcñ p, wagld past, flññ ǎt hiz legz fṛm sîd t sîd. Onli wn v hiz irz twićt t pruv ɖt h sw, n ʈt hr a sili yuñ fīmel.
Ɖ brīz v mornñ liftd in ɖ bś n ɖ smel v līvz n wet blac rʈ mngld wɖ ɖ śarp smel v ɖ sī. Miriadz v brdz wr sññ. A goldfinć flù ovr ɖ śeṗd’z hed n, prćñ on ɖ tiptop v a spre, it trnd t ɖ sún, ruf̣lñ its smōl brestfeɖrz. N nǎ ɖe hd pást ɖ fiśrmn’z hut, pást ɖ ćard-lcñ litl ẃori ẃr Lela ɖ milcgrl livd wɖ hr old Gran. Ɖ śīp streid ovr a yelo swomp n Wag, ɖ śīpdog, padd aftr, rǎndd ɖm p n hedd ɖm fr ɖ stīpr, narowr roci pas ɖt léd ǎt v Cresnt Be n twdz Dêlît Cov. “Ba! Ba!” Fent ɖ crî cem az ɖe roct alñ ɖ fast-drayñ rod. Ɖ śeṗd pt awe hiz pîp, dropñ it intu hiz brestpocit so ɖt ɖ litl bol huñ ovr. N stretwe ɖ soft e’ri ẃiṣlñ bgan agn. Wag ran ǎt alñ a lej v roc aftr smʈñ ɖt smeld, n ran bac agn dsgustd. Ɖen pśñ, nujñ, huriyñ, ɖ śīp rǎndd ɖ bnd n ɖ śeṗd foloud aftr ǎt v sît.
A fy momnts lêtr ɖ bac dor v wn v ɖ bunġloz opnd, n a figr in a brōd-strîpt beɖñsūt fluñ dǎn ɖ paḍc, clird ɖ stail, ruśt ʈru ɖ tuṣcgras intu ɖ holo, stagrd p ɖ sandi hiḷc, n rêst fr dir lîf ovr ɖ big pōṛs stonz, ovr ɖ cold, wet peblz, on t ɖ hard sand ɖt glīmd lîc ôl. Spliś-sploś! Spliś-sploś! Ɖ wōtr bubld rnd hiz legz az Stanli Brnél wêdd ǎt xultñ. Frst man in az yẓ́l! H’d bìtn ɖm ol agn. N h swūpt dǎn t sǎs hiz hed n nec.
“Hêl, bruɖr! Ol hêl, Ɖǎ Mîti Wn!” A vlṿti beis vôs cem būmñ ovr ɖ wōtr.
Gret Scot! Damneśn tec it! Stanli liftd p t si a darc hed bobñ far ǎt n an arm liftd. It wz Joṇʈn Trǎt—ɖr bfr him! “Glorịs mornñ!” sañ ɖ vôs.
“Yes, vri fîn!” sd Stanli brīfli. Ẃ ɖ Dicinz dd’nt ɖ felo stic t hiz part v ɖ sī? Ẃ śd h cm barjñ ovr t ɖs xact spot? Stanli gev a cic, a lunj n struc ǎt, swimñ oṿarm. Bt Joṇʈn wz a mać fr him. P h cem, hiz blac her slīc on hiz fōrhed, hiz śort bird slīc.
“I hd an xtrordnri drīm last nît!” h śǎtd.
Ẃt wz ɖ matr wɖ ɖ man? Ɖs meńa fr convseśn iṛtetd Stanli bynd wrdz. N it wz olwz ɖ sem—olwz sm pifl abt a drīm h’d hd, or sm cranci îdīa h’d got hold v, or sm rot h’d bn rīdñ. Stanli trnd ovr on hiz bac n cict wɖ hiz legz tl h wz a livñ wōtrspǎt. Bt īvn ɖen… “I drīmd I wz haññ ovr a t’rificli hî clif, śǎtñ t smwn b’lo.” Y wd b! ʈt Stanli. H cd stic no mor v it. H stopt splaśñ. “Lc hir, Trǎt,” h sd, “I’m in rɖr a huri ɖs mornñ.”
“Y’r ẂT?” Joṇʈn wz so s’prîzd—or pritndd t b—ɖt h sanc undr ɖ wōtr, ɖen ri’pird agn blowñ.
“Ol I mīn z,” sd Stanli, “I’v no tîm t—t—t fūl abt. I wont t gt ɖs ovr. I’m in a huri. I’v wrc t d ɖs mornñ—si?”
Joṇʈn wz gn bfr Stanli hd finiśt. “Pas, frend!” sd ɖ beis vôs jntli, n h slid awe ʈru ɖ wōtr wɖ scersli a ripl… Bt crs ɖ felo! H’d ruind Stanli’z beɖ. Ẃt an unpracticl idịt ɖ man wz! Stanli struc ǎt t sī agn, n ɖen az qcli swam in agn, n awe h ruśt p ɖ bīć. H flt ćītd.
Joṇʈn steid a litl longr in ɖ wōtr. H flotd, jntli muvñ hiz handz lîc finz, n letñ ɖ sī roc hiz loñ, scini bodi. It wz krịs, bt in spît v evrʈñ h wz fond v Stanli Brnél. Tru, h hd a fīndiś dzîr t tīz him smtmz, t pǒc fun at him, bt at botm h wz sori fr ɖ felo. Ɖr wz smʈñ pʈetic in hiz dtrṃneśn t mc a job v evrʈñ. Y cd’nt hlp fīlñ h’d b còt ǎt wn de, n ɖen ẃt an olmîti cropr h’d cm! At ɖt momnt an imns wev liftd Joṇʈn, roud past him, n brouc alñ ɖ bīć wɖ a jôfl sǎnd. Ẃt a byti! N nǎ ɖr cem anɖr. Ɖt wz ɖ we t liv—cerlisli, reclisli, spendñ wnslf. H got on t hiz fīt n bgan t wêd twdz ɖ śor, presñ hiz toz intu ɖ frm, rincld sand. T tec ʈñz īzi, nt t fît agnst ɖ eb n flo v lîf, bt t gv we t it—ɖt wz ẃt wz nīdd. It wz ɖs tnśn ɖt wz ol roñ. T liv—t liv! N ɖ prfict mornñ, so freś n fer, bascñ in ɖ lît, az ɖo lafñ at its ǒn byti, sīmd t ẃispr, “Ẃ nt?”
Bt nǎ h wz ǎt v ɖ wōtr Joṇʈn trnd blu wɖ cold. H ect ol ovr; it wz az ɖo smwn wz riññ ɖ blud ǎt v him. N stōcñ p ɖ bīć, śiṿrñ, ol hiz muslz tît, h tù flt hiz beɖ wz spôlt. H’d steid in tù loñ.
Beṛl wz alon in ɖ livñrūm ẃn Stanli apird, wẹrñ a blu srj sūt, a stif colr n a spotd tî. H lct olmst uncaṇli clīn n bruśt; h wz gwñ t tǎn fr ɖ de. Dropñ intu hiz ćer, h pld ǎt hiz woć n pt it bsd hiz plet.
“I’v jst got twenti-fîv minits,” h sd. “Y mt g n si f ɖ porij z redi, Beṛl?”
“Muɖr’z jst gn fr it,” sd Beṛl. Ś sat dǎn at ɖ tebl n pord ǎt hiz ti.
“Ʈancs!” Stanli tc a sip. “Hlo!” h sd in an astoniśt vôs, “y’v fgotn ɖ śŭgr.”
“Ǒ, sori!” Bt īvn ɖen Beṛl dd’nt hlp him; ś pśt ɖ besn acrs. Ẃt dd ɖs mīn? Az Stanli hlpt himslf hiz blu îz wîdnd; ɖe sīmd t qivr. H śot a qc glans at hiz sistr-in-lw n līnd bac.
“Nʈñ roñ, z ɖr?” h asct cerlisli, fnġrñ hiz colr.
Beṛl’z hed wz bnt; ś trnd hr plet in hr fngrz.
“Nʈñ,” sd hr lît vôs. Ɖen ś tù lct p, n smîld at Stanli. “Ẃ śd ɖr b?”
“Ǒ-ǒ! No rīzn at ol az far az I nǒ. I ʈt y sīmd rɖr—”
At ɖt momnt ɖ dor opnd n ɖ ʈri litl grlz apird, ć cariyñ a porijplet. Ɖe wr drest alîc in blu jrziz n nicrz; ɖer brǎn legz wr bér, n ć hd hr her pleitd n pind p in ẃt wz cōld a hors’z teil. Bhnd ɖm cem Msz Ferfīld wɖ ɖ tre.
“Cerf̣li, ćildṛn,” ś wornd. Bt ɖe wr tecñ ɖ vri gretist cer. Ɖe luvd biyñ alaud t cari ʈñz. “Hv y sd gd mornñ t yr faɖr?”
“Yes, granmā.” Ɖe setld ɖmslvz on ɖ bnć oṗzit Stanli n Beṛl.
“Gd mornñ, Stanli!” Old Msz Ferfīld gev him hiz plet.
“Mornñ, muɖr! Hǎ’z ɖ bô?”
“Splendid! H onli wouc p wns last nît. Ẃt a prfict mornñ!” Ɖ old wmn pōzd, hr hand on ɖ lof v bred, t gêz ǎt v ɖ opn dor intu ɖ gardn. Ɖ sī sǎndd. Ʈru ɖ wîd-opn windo strīmd ɖ sún on t ɖ yelo varniśt wōlz n bér flor. Evrʈñ on ɖ tebl flaśt n glitrd. In ɖ midl ɖr wz an old saḷdbol fild wɖ yelo n red nstrśmz. Ś smîld, n a lc v dīp cntnt śon in hr îz.
“Y mt cut m a slîs v ɖt bred, muɖr,” sd Stanli. “I’v onli twelv n a haf minits bfr ɖ coć pasz. Hz enwn gvn mî śuz t ɖ srvntgrl?”
“Yes, ɖ’r redi fr y.” Msz Ferfīld wz qt unrufld.
“Ǒ, Cezia! Ẃ r y sć a mesi ćîld!” craid Beṛl dspẹrñli.
“M, Ānt Beṛl?” Cezia stérd at hr. Ẃt hd ś dn nǎ? Ś hd onli dug a rivr dǎn ɖ midl v hr porij, fild it, n wz ītñ ɖ bancs awe. Bt ś dd ɖt evri sngl mornñ, n nwn hd sd a wrd p tl nǎ.
“Ẃ c’nt y īt yr fūd proprli lîc Iẓbél n Loti?” Hǎ unfer groun-ups r!
“Bt Loti olwz mcs a flotñ îḷnd, d’nt y, Loti?”
“I d’nt,” sd Iẓbél smartli. “I jst sprincl mîn wɖ śŭgr n pt on ɖ milc n finiś it. Onli bebiz ple wɖ ɖer fūd.”
Stanli pśt bac hiz ćer n got p.
“Wd y gt m ɖoz śuz, muɖr? N, Beṛl, f y’v finiśt, I wś y’d cut dǎn t ɖ get n stop ɖ coć. Run in t yr muɖr, Iẓbél, n asc hr ẃr mî bolrhat’s bn pt. Wêt a minit—hv y ćildṛn bn pleyñ wɖ mî stic?”
“Bt I pt it hir.” Stanli bgan t blustr. “I rmembr dstñtli ptñ it in ɖs cornr. Nǎ, hu’z hd it? Ɖr’z no tîm t lūz. Lc śarp! Ɖ stic’s got t b faund.”
Īvn Alis, ɖ srvntgrl, wz drwn intu ɖ ćes. “Y hv’nt bn yzñ it t pǒc ɖ cićn fîr wɖ bî eni ćans?”
Stanli daśt intu ɖ bedrūm ẃr Linda wz layñ. “Most xtrordnri ʈñ. I c’nt cīp a sngl pześn t mslf. Ɖ’v md awe wɖ mî stic, nǎ!”
“Stic, dir? Ẃt stic?” Linda’z vegnis on ɖz oceźnz cd nt b riyl, Stanli dsîdd. Wd nbdi simṗʈîz wɖ him?
“Coć! Coć, Stanli!” Beṛl’z vôs craid fṛm ɖ get.
Stanli wevd hiz arm t Linda. “No tîm t se gdbî!” h craid. N h mnt ɖt az a puniśmnt t hr.
H snaćt hiz bolrhat, daśt ǎt v ɖ hǎs, n swuñ dǎn ɖ gardnpaʈ. Yes, ɖ coć wz ɖr wêtñ, n Beṛl, līnñ ovr ɖ opn get, wz lafñ p at smbdi or uɖr jst az f nʈñ hd hapnd. Ɖ hartlisnis v wimin! Ɖ we ɖe tc it fr grantd it wz yr job t slev awe fr ɖm ẃl ɖe dd’nt īvn tec ɖ trubl t si ɖt yr wōcñstic wz’nt lost. Celi treld hiz ẃip acrs ɖ horsz.
“Gdbî, Stanli,” cōld Beṛl, swītli n gêli. It wz īzi inuf t se gdbî! N ɖr ś std, îdl, śêdñ hr îz wɖ hr hand. Ɖ wrst v it wz Stanli hd t śǎt gdbî tù, fr ɖ sec v apiṛnsz. Ɖen h sw hr trn, gv a litl scip n run bac t ɖ hǎs. Ś wz glad t b rid v him!
Yes, ś wz ʈancfl. Intu ɖ livñrūm ś ran n cōld “H’z gn!” Linda craid fṛm hr rūm: “Beṛl! Hz Stanli gn?” Old Msz Ferfīld apird, cariyñ ɖ bô in hiz litl flanl cotī.
Ǒ, ɖ rlif, ɖ difṛns it md t hv ɖ man ǎt v ɖ hǎs. Ɖer vri vôsz wr ćenjd az ɖe cōld t wn anɖr; ɖe sǎndd worm n luvñ n az f ɖe śerd a sīcrit. Beṛl wnt ovr t ɖ tebl. “Hv anɖr cup v ti, muɖr. It’s stl hot.” Ś wontd, smhǎ, t seḷbret ɖ fact ɖt ɖe cd d ẃt ɖe lîct nǎ. Ɖr wz no man t dstrb ɖm; ɖ hol prfict de wz ɖerz.
“No, ʈanc y, ćîld,” sd old Msz Ferfīld, bt ɖ we at ɖt momnt ś tóst ɖ bô p n sd “a-gūs-a-gūs-a-ga!” t him mnt ɖt ś flt ɖ sem. Ɖ litl grlz ran intu ɖ paḍc lîc ćicinz let ǎt v a cūp.
Īvn Alis, ɖ srvntgrl, wośñ p ɖ diśz in ɖ cićn, còt ɖ infx́n n yzd ɖ preśs tancwōtr in a prfictli reclis faśn.
“Ǒ, ɖz men!” sd ś, n ś plunjd ɖ tīpot intu ɖ bol n hld it undr ɖ wōtr īvn aftr it hd stopt buḅlñ, az f it tù wz a man n drǎnñ wz tù gd fr ɖm.
Ɖr wz pur litl Loti, left bhnd agn, bcz ś faund it so firf̣li hard t gt ovr ɖ stail bî hrslf. Ẃn ś std on ɖ frst step hr niz bgan t wobl; ś graspt ɖ post. Ɖen y hd t pt wn leg ovr. Bt ẃć leg? Ś nvr cd dsîd. N ẃn ś dd fîṇli pt wn leg ovr wɖ a sort v stamp v dsper—ɖen ɖ fīlñ wz ōfl. Ś wz haf in ɖ paḍc stl n haf in ɖ tuṣcgras. Ś clućt ɖ post despṛtli n liftd p hr vôs. “Wêt fr m!”
“No, d’nt y wêt fr hr, Cezia!” sd Iẓbél. “Ś’z sć a litl sili. Ś’z olwz mcñ a fus. Cm on!” N ś tugd Cezia’z jrzi. “Y cn yz mî bucit f y cm wɖ m,” ś sd cîndli. “It’s bigr ɖn yrz.” Bt Cezia cd’nt līv Loti ol bî hrslf. Ś ran bac t hr. Bî ɖs tîm Loti wz vri red in ɖ fes n briɖñ heṿli.
“Hir, pt yr uɖr ft ovr,” sd Cezia.
Loti lct dǎn at Cezia az f fṛm a mǎntinhît.
“Hir ẃr mî hand z.” Cezia patd ɖ ples.
“Ǒ, ɖr d y mīn!” Loti gev a dīp sai n pt ɖ secnd ft ovr.
“Nǎ—sort v trn rnd n sit dǎn n slîd,” sd Cezia.
“Bt ɖr’z nʈñ t sit dǎn on, Cezia,” sd Loti.
Ś manijd it at last, n wns it wz ovr ś śc hrslf n bgan t bīm.
“I’m gtñ betr at clîmñ ovr stailz, r’nt I, Cezia?”
Loti’z wz a vri hopfl nećr.
Ɖ pnc n ɖ blu súnbonit foloud Iẓbél’z brît red súnbonit p ɖt slîdñ, slipñ hil. At ɖ top ɖe pōzd t dsîd ẃr t g n t hv a gd stér at hu wz ɖr olrdi. Sìn fṛm bhnd, standñ agnst ɖ scîlîn, jstikletñ larjli wɖ ɖer spedz, ɖe lct lîc mîńt puzld xplorrz.
Ɖ hol faṃli v Saḿl Jozifs wz ɖr olrdi wɖ ɖer ledi-hlp, hu sat on a campstūl n cept ordr wɖ a ẃisl ɖt ś wòr taid rnd hr nec, n a smōl cen wɖ ẃć ś d’rectd oṗreśnz. Ɖ Saḿl Jozifs nvr pleid bî ɖmslvz or manijd ɖer ǒn gem. F ɖe dd, it endd in ɖ bôz porñ wōtr dǎn ɖ grlz’ necs or ɖ grlz trayñ t pt litl blac crabz intu ɖ bôz’ pocits. So Msz S. J. n ɖ pur ledi-hlp drù p ẃt ś cōld a “brogram” evri mornñ t cīp ɖm “abyzd n ǎt v bisćif.” It wz ol comṗtiśnz or rêsz or rǎndgemz. Evrʈñ bgan wɖ a pirsñ blast v ɖ ledi-hlp’s ẃisl n endd wɖ anɖr. Ɖr wr īvn prîzz—larj, rɖr drti pepr parslz ẃć ɖ ledi-hlp wɖ a sǎr litl smîl drù ǎt v a buljñ strñ cit. Ɖ Saḿl Jozifs fòt firf̣li fr ɖ prîzz n ćītd n pinćt wn anɖr’z armz—ɖe wr ol exprt pinćrz. Ɖ onli tîm ɖ Brnél ćildṛn evr pleid wɖ ɖm Cezia hd got a prîz, n ẃn ś undid ʈri bits v pepr ś faund a vri smōl rusti butn-hc. Ś cd’nt unḍstand ẃ ɖe md sć a fus…
Bt ɖe nvr pleid wɖ ɖ Saḿl Jozifs nǎ or īvn wnt t ɖer partiz. Ɖ Saḿl Jozifs wr olwz gvñ ćildṛn’z partiz at ɖ Be n ɖr wz olwz ɖ sem fūd. A big wośhand besn v vri brǎn frūt saḷd, bunz cut intu for n a wośhand jug fl v smʈñ ɖ ledi-hlp cōld “Liṃnedr.” N y wnt awe in ɖ īvnñ wɖ haf ɖ fril torn of yr froc or smʈñ spild ol dǎn ɖ frunt v yr opn-wrc piṇfor, līvñ ɖ Saḿl Jozifs līpñ lîc saṿjz on ɖer lōn. No! Ɖe wr tù ōfl.
On ɖ uɖr sîd v ɖ bīć, clos dǎn t ɖ wōtr, tū litl bôz, ɖer nicrz rold p, twncld lîc spîdrz. Wn wz digñ, ɖ uɖr patrd in n ǎt v ɖ wōtr, filñ a smōl bucit. Ɖe wr ɖ Trǎt bôz, Pip n Ragz. Bt Pip wz so bizi digñ n Ragz wz so bizi hlpñ ɖt ɖe dd’nt si ɖer litl cuznz untl ɖe wr qt clos.
“Lc!” sd Pip. “Lc ẃt I’v dscuvrd.” N h śoud ɖm an old wet, sqośt-lcñ būt. Ɖ ʈri litl grlz stérd.
“Ẃtvr r y gwñ t d wɖ it?” asct Cezia.
“Cīp it, v cors!” Pip wz vri scornfl. “It’s a fînd—si?”
Yes, Cezia sw ɖt. Ol ɖ sem…
“Ɖr’z lots v ʈñz berid in ɖ sand,” xplend Pip. “Ɖe gt ćuct p fṛm recs. Treẓ́r. Ẃ—y mt fînd—”
“Bt ẃ dz Ragz hv t cīp on porñ wōtr in?” asct Loti.
“Ǒ, ɖt’s t môsn it,” sd Pip, “t mc ɖ wrc a bit īzịr. Cīp it p, Ragz.”
N gd litl Ragz ran p n dǎn, porñ in ɖ wōtr ɖt trnd brǎn lîc coco.
“Hir, śl I śo y ẃt I faund yesṭde?” sd Pip mstirịsli, n h stuc hiz sped intu ɖ sand. “Promis nt t tel.”
“Se, cros mî hart stret dncm.”
Ɖ litl grlz sd it.
Pip tc smʈñ ǎt v hiz pocit, rubd it a loñ tîm on ɖ frunt v hiz jrzi, ɖen briɖd on it n rubd it agn.
“Nǎ trn rnd!” h ordrd.
Ɖe trnd rnd.
“Ol lc ɖ sem we! Cīp stl! Nǎ!”
N hiz hand opnd; h hld p t ɖ lît smʈñ ɖt flaśt, ɖt wnct, ɖt wz a most luvli grīn.
“It’s a nemṛl,” sd Pip soḷmli.
“Z it riyli, Pip?” Īvn Iẓbél wz imprest.
Ɖ luvli grīn ʈñ sīmd t dans in Pip’s fngrz. Ānt Beṛl hd a nemṛl in a rñ, bt it wz a vri smōl wn. Ɖs wn wz az big az a star n far mor bytifl.
Az ɖ mornñ leñʈnd hol partiz apird ovr ɖ sandhilz n cem dǎn on ɖ bīć t beɖ. It wz unḍstd ɖt at ilevn o’cloc ɖ wimin n ćildṛn v ɖ sumrcoḷni hd ɖ sī t ɖmslvz. Frst ɖ wimin undrest, pld on ɖer beɖñdresz n cuvrd ɖer hedz in hidịs caps lîc spunjbagz; ɖen ɖ ćildṛn wr unbutnd. Ɖ bīć wz strùn wɖ litl hīps v cloɖz n śuz; ɖ big sumrhats, wɖ stonz on ɖm t cīp ɖm fṛm blowñ awe, lct lîc imns ślz. It wz strenj ɖt īvn ɖ sī sīmd t sǎnd difṛntli ẃn ol ɖoz līpñ, lafñ figrz ran intu ɖ wevz. Old Msz Ferfīld, in a lîlac cotn dres n a blac hat taid undr ɖ ćin, gaɖrd hr litl brūd n got ɖm redi. Ɖ litl Trǎt bôz ẃipt ɖer śrts ovr ɖer hedz, n awe ɖ fîv sped, ẃl ɖer granmā sat wɖ wn hand in hr nitñbag redi t drw ǎt ɖ bōl v wŭl ẃn ś wz saṭsfaid ɖe wr sefli in.
Ɖ frm compact litl grlz wr nt haf so brev az ɖ tndr, delic̣t-lcñ litl bôz. Pip n Ragz, śiṿrñ, crǎćñ dǎn, slapñ ɖ wōtr, nvr heztetd. Bt Iẓbél, hu cd swim twelv strocs, n Cezia, hu cd nirli swim et, onli foloud on ɖ strict unḍstandñ ɖe wr nt t b splaśt. Az fr Loti, ś dd’nt folo at ol. Ś lîct t b left t g in hr ǒn we, plīz. N ɖt we wz t sit dǎn at ɖ éj v ɖ wōtr, hr legz stret, hr niz prest tgɖr, n t mc veg mośnz wɖ hr armz az f ś xpctd t b woftd ǎt t sī. Bt ẃn a bigr wev ɖn yẓ́l, an old ẃisc̣ri wn, cem loḷpñ alñ in hr d’rex́n, ś scrambld t hr fīt wɖ a fes v horr n flù p ɖ bīć agn.
“Hir, muɖr, cīp ɖoz fr m, wl y?”
Tū rñz n a ʈin gold ćen wr dropt intu Msz Ferfīld’z lap.
“Yes, dir. Bt r’nt y gwñ t beɖ hir?”
“No-o,” Beṛl drōld. Ś sǎndd veg. “I’m undresñ farɖr alñ. I’m gwñ t beɖ wɖ Msz Hari Cmbr.”
“Vri wel.” Bt Msz Ferfīld’z lips set. Ś dis’pruvd v Msz Hari Cmbr. Beṛl ń it.
Pur old muɖr, ś smîld, az ś scimd ovr ɖ stonz. Pur old muɖr! Old! Ǒ, ẃt jô, ẃt blis it wz t b yuñ…
“Y lc vri plizd,” sd Msz Hari Cmbr. Ś sat hunćt p on ɖ stonz, hr armz rnd hr niz, smocñ.
“It’s sć a luvli de,” sd Beṛl, smîlñ dǎn at hr.
“Ǒ mî dir!” Msz Hari Cmbr’z vôs sǎndd az ɖo ś ń betr ɖn ɖt. Bt ɖen hr vôs olwz sǎndd az ɖo ś ń smʈñ betr abt y ɖn y dd yrslf. Ś wz a loñ, strenj-lcñ wmn wɖ naro handz n fīt. Hr fes, tù, wz loñ n naro n xōstd-lcñ; īvn hr fer crld frinj lct brnt ǎt n wiɖrd. Ś wz ɖ onli wmn at ɖ Be hu smoct, n ś smoct insesntli, cīpñ ɖ siġrét btwn hr lips ẃl ś tōct, n onli tecñ it ǎt ẃn ɖ aś wz so loñ y cd nt unḍstand ẃ it dd nt fōl. Ẃn ś wz nt pleyñ brij—ś pleid brij evri de v hr lîf—ś spent hr tîm layñ in ɖ fl gler v ɖ sún. Ś cd stand eni amǎnt v it; ś nvr hd inuf. Ol ɖ sem, it dd nt sīm t worm hr. Parćt, wiɖrd, cold, ś le strećt on ɖ stonz lîc a pìs v tóst-up driftwŭd. Ɖ wimin at ɖ Be ʈt ś wz vri, vri fast. Hr lac v vaṇti, hr slañ, ɖ we ś trītd men az ɖo ś wz wn v ɖm, n ɖ fact ɖt ś dd’nt cer tupns abt hr hǎs n cōld ɖ srvnt Gladis “Glad-îz,” wz dsgresfl. Standñ on ɖ vranḍsteps Msz Cmbr wd cōl in hr indifṛnt, tîrd vôs, “I se, Glad-îz, y mt hīv m a hanc̣ćif f I’v got wn, wl y?” N Glad-îz, a red bo in hr her instd v a cap, n ẃît śuz, cem runñ wɖ an impydnt smîl. It wz an abṣlut scandl! Tru, ś hd no ćildṛn, n hr huzbnd… Hir ɖ vôsz wr olwz rezd; ɖe bcem frvnt. Hǎ cn h hv marid hr? Hǎ cn h, hǎ cn h? It mst hv bn muni, v cors, bt īvn ɖen!
Msz Cmbr’z huzbnd wz at līst ten yirz yungr ɖn ś wz, n so increḍbli hansm ɖt h lct lîc a masc or a most prfict iḷstreśn in an Americn novl rɖr ɖn a man. Blac her, darc blu îz, red lips, a slo slīpi smîl, a fîn tenispleyr, a prfict dansr, n wɖ it ol a misṭri. Hari Cmbr wz lîc a man wōcñ in hiz slīp. Men cd’nt stand him, ɖe cd’nt gt a wrd ǎt v ɖ ćap; h ignord hiz wîf jst az ś ignord him. Hǎ dd h liv? V cors ɖr wr storiz, bt sć storiz! Ɖe simpli cd’nt b tld. Ɖ wimin h’d bn sìn wɖ, ɖ plesz h’d bn sìn in… bt nʈñ wz evr srtn, nʈñ defiṇt. Sm v ɖ wimin at ɖ Be prîṿtli ʈt h’d cmit a mrdr wn de. Yes, īvn ẃl ɖe tōct t Msz Cmbr n tc in ɖ ōfl cncox́n ś wz wẹrñ, ɖe sw hr, strećt az ś le on ɖ bīć; bt cold, bludi, n stl wɖ a siġrét stuc in ɖ cornr v hr mǎʈ.
Msz Cmbr rouz, yōnd, unsnapt hr blt-bucl, n tugd at ɖ tep v hr blǎz. N Beṛl stept ǎt v hr scrt n śed hr jrzi, n std p in hr śort ẃît peticot, n hr caṃsol wɖ ribn boz on ɖ śoldrz.
“Mrsi on s,” sd Msz Hari Cmbr, “ẃt a litl byti y r!”
“D’nt!” sd Beṛl softli; bt, drw̃ of wn stocñ n ɖen ɖ uɖr, ś flt a litl byti.
“Mî dir—ẃ nt?” sd Msz Hari Cmbr, stampñ on hr ǒn peticot. Riyli—hr unḍcloɖz! A per v blu cotn nicrz n a linn bodis ɖt rmîndd wn smhǎ v a piloces… “N y d’nt wer stez, d y?” Ś tućt Beṛl’z weist, n Beṛl sprañ awe wɖ a smōl afctd crî. Ɖen “Nvr!” ś sd frmli.
“Luci litl crīćr,” said Msz Cmbr, unfaṣnñ hr ǒn.
Beṛl trnd hr bac n bgan ɖ compḷcetd muvmnts v smwn hu z trayñ t tec of hr cloɖz n t pl on hr beɖñdres ol at wn n ɖ sem tîm.
“Ǒ, mî dir—d’nt mînd m,” sd Msz Hari Cmbr. “Ẃ b śî? I ś’nt īt y. I ś’nt b śoct lîc ɖoz uɖr niniz.” N ś gev hr strenj neyñ laf n griṃst at ɖ uɖr wimin.
Bt Beṛl wz śî. Ś nvr undrest in frunt v enbdi. Wz ɖt sili? Msz Hari Cmbr md hr fīl it wz sili, īvn smʈñ t b aśemd v. Ẃ b śî indd! Ś glanst qcli at hr frend standñ so boldli in hr torn śemīz n lîtñ a freś siġrét; n a qc, bold, īvl fīlñ startd p in hr brest. Lafñ reclisli, ś drù on ɖ limp, sandi-fīlñ beɖñdres ɖt wz nt qt drî n fasnd ɖ twistd butnz.
“Ɖt’s betr,” sd Msz Hari Cmbr. Ɖe bgan t g dǎn ɖ bīć tgɖr. “Riyli, it’s a sin fr y t wer cloɖz, mî dir. Smbdi’z got t tel y sm de.”
Ɖ wōtr wz qt worm. It wz ɖt marvḷs trnspaṛnt blu, fléct wɖ silvr, bt ɖ sand at ɖ botm lct gold; ẃn y cict wɖ yr toz ɖr rouz a litl puf v golḑust. Nǎ ɖ wevz jst rīćt hr brest. Beṛl std, hr armz ǎtstrećt, gezñ ǎt, n az ć wev cem ś gev ɖ slîtist litl jump, so ɖt it sīmd it wz ɖ wev ẃć liftd hr so jntli.
“I b’liv in priti grlz hvñ a gd tîm,” sd Msz Hari Cmbr. “Ẃ nt? D’nt y mc a mstec, mî dir. Injô yrslf.” N sudnli ś trnd trtl, dis’pird, n swam awe qcli, qcli, lîc a rat. Ɖen ś flict rnd n bgan swimñ bac. Ś wz gwñ t se smʈñ els. Beṛl flt ɖt ś wz biyñ pôznd bî ɖs cold wmn, bt ś loñd t hír. Bt ǒ, hǎ strenj, hǎ hoṛbl! Az Msz Hari Cmbr cem p clos ś lct, in hr blac wōtr-prūf beɖñcap, wɖ hr slīpi fes liftd abv ɖ wōtr, jst hr ćin tućñ, lîc a hoṛbl caric̣ćr v hr huzbnd.
In a stīmrćer, undr a mnūc̣trī ɖt grù in ɖ midl v ɖ frunt graspać, Linda Brnél drīmd ɖ mornñ awe. Ś dd nʈñ. Ś lct p at ɖ darc, clos, drî līvz v ɖ mnūca, at ɖ ćincs v blu btwn, n nǎ n agn a tîni yelǒiś flǎr dropt on hr. Priti—yes, f y hld wn v ɖoz flǎrz on ɖ pām v yr hand n lct at it closli, it wz an xqizit smōl ʈñ. Ć pel yelo petl śon az f ć wz ɖ cerfl wrc v a luvñ hand. Ɖ tîni tuñ in ɖ sntr gev it ɖ śep v a bel. N ẃn y trnd it ovr ɖ ǎtsd wz a dīp bronz culr. Bt az sn az ɖe flǎrd, ɖe fél n wr scatrd. Y bruśt ɖm of yr froc az y tōct; ɖ horid litl ʈñz got còt in wn’z her. Ẃ, ɖen, flǎr at ol? Hu tecs ɖ trubl—or ɖ jô—t mc ol ɖz ʈñz ɖt r westd, westd… It wz uncani.
On ɖ gras bsd hr, layñ btwn tū piloz, wz ɖ bô. Sǎnd aslip h le, hiz hed trnd awe fṛm hiz muɖr. Hiz fîn darc her lct mor lîc a śado ɖn lîc riyl her, bt hiz ir wz a brît, dīp coṛl. Linda claspt hr handz abv hr hed n crost hr fīt. It wz vri pleznt t nǒ ɖt ol ɖz bunġloz wr emti, ɖt evrbdi wz dǎn on ɖ bīć, ǎt v sît, ǎt v hírñ. Ś hd ɖ gardn t hrslf; ś wz alon.
Daẓlñ ẃît ɖ pic̣tīz śon; ɖ goldn-aid maṛgold glitrd; ɖ nstrśmz rīɖd ɖ vranḍpolz in grīn n gold flem. F onli wn hd tîm t lc at ɖz flǎrz loñ inuf, tîm t gt ovr ɖ sns v novlti n strenjnis, tîm t nǒ ɖm! Bt az sn az wn pōzd t part ɖ petlz, t dscuvr ɖ unḍsîd v ɖ līf, alñ cem Lîf n wn wz swept awe. N, layñ in hr cen ćer, Linda flt so lît; ś flt lîc a līf. Alñ cem Lîf lîc a wind n ś wz sizd n śecn; ś hd t g. Ǒ dir, wd it olwz b so? Wz ɖr no iscep?
… Nǎ ś sat on ɖ vranda v ɖer Tazmeńn hom, līnñ agnst hr faɖr’z ni. N h promist, “Az sn az y n I r old inuf, Lini, w’l cut of smẃr, w’l iscep. Tū bôz tgɖr. I hv a fansi I’d lîc t sêl p a rivr in Ćîna.” Linda sw ɖt rivr, vri wîd, cuvrd wɖ litl rafts n bots. Ś sw ɖ yelo hats v ɖ botṃn n ś hŕd ɖer hî, ʈin vôsz az ɖe cōld…
Bt jst ɖen a vri brōd yuñ man wɖ brît jinjr her wōct slǒli past ɖer hǎs, n slǒli, soḷmli īvn, uncuvrd. Linda’z faɖr pld hr ir tizñli, in ɖ we h hd.
“Lini’z bou,” h ẃisprd.
“Ǒ, ppā, fansi biyñ marid t Stanli Brnél!”
Wel, ś wz marid t him. N ẃt wz mor ś luvd him. Nt ɖ Stanli hūm evrwn sw, nt ɖ evride wn; bt a timid, snṣtiv, iṇsnt Stanli hu nlt dǎn evri nît t se hiz prerz, n hu loñd t b gd. Stanli wz simpl. F h b’livd in ppl—az h b’livd in hr, fr instns—it wz wɖ hiz hol hart. H cd nt b dsloyl; h cd nt tel a lî. N hǎ teṛbli h sufrd f h ʈt enwn—ś—wz nt biyñ ded stret, ded snsir wɖ him! “Ɖs z tù sutl fr m!” H fluñ ǎt ɖ wrdz, bt hiz opn, qiṿrñ, dstrōt lc wz lîc ɖ lc v a trapt bīst.
Bt ɖ trubl wz—hir Linda flt olmst inclînd t laf, ɖo Hevn nz it wz no lafñmatr—ś sw hr Stanli so sldm. Ɖr wr glimsz, momnts, briɖñspesz v cām, bt ol ɖ rest v ɖ tîm it wz lîc livñ in a hǎs ɖt cd’nt b krd v ɖ habit v caćñ on fîr, or a śip ɖt got rect evri de. N it wz olwz Stanli hu wz in ɖ ʈic v ɖ denjr. Hr hol tîm wz spent in rescywñ him, n rstorñ him, n cāmñ him dǎn, n liṣnñ t hiz stori. N ẃt wz left v hr tîm wz spent in ɖ dred v hvñ ćildṛn.
Linda frǎnd; ś sat p qcli in hr stīmrćer n claspt hr anclz. Yes, ɖt wz hr riyl gruj agnst lîf; ɖt wz ẃt ś cd nt unḍstand. Ɖt wz ɖ qsćn ś asct n asct, n lisnd in ven fr ɖ ansr. It wz ol vri wel t se it wz ɖ comn lot v wimin t ber ćildṛn. It wz’nt tru. Ś, fr wn, cd pruv ɖt roñ. Ś wz brocn, md wìc, hr curij wz gn, ʈru ćîldberñ. N ẃt md it dubli hard t ber wz, ś dd nt luv hr ćildṛn. It wz yslis pritndñ. Īvn f ś hd hd ɖ streñʈ ś nvr wd hv nrst n pleid wɖ ɖ litl grlz. No, it wz az ɖo a cold breʈ hd ćild hr ʈru n ʈru on ć v ɖoz ōfl jrniz; ś hd no wormʈ left t gv ɖm. Az t ɖ bô—wel, ʈanc Hevn, muɖr hd tecn him; h wz muɖr’z, or Beṛl’z, or enbdi’z hu wontd him. Ś hd hardli hld him in hr armz. Ś wz so indifṛnt abt him ɖt az h le ɖr… Linda glanst dǎn.
Ɖ bô hd trnd ovr. H le fesñ hr, n h wz no longr aslip. Hiz darc-blu, bebi îz wr opn; h lct az ɖo h wz pīpñ at hiz muɖr. N sudnli hiz fes dimpld; it brouc intu a wîd, tuʈlis smîl, a prfict bīm, no les.
“I’m hir!” ɖt hapi smîl sīmd t se. “Ẃ d’nt y lîc m?”
Ɖr wz smʈñ so qent, so unixpctd abt ɖt smîl ɖt Linda smîld hrslf. Bt ś ćect hrslf n sd t ɖ bô coldli, “I d’nt lîc bebiz.”
“D’nt lîc bebiz?” Ɖ bô cd’nt b’liv hr. “D’nt lîc m?” H wevd hiz armz fūliśli at hiz muɖr.
Linda dropt of hr ćer on t ɖ gras.
“Ẃ d y cīp on smîlñ?” ś sd svirli. “F y ń ẃt I wz ʈncñ abt, y wd’nt.”
Bt h onli sqizd p hiz îz, slîli, n rold hiz hed on ɖ pilo. H dd’nt b’liv a wrd ś sd.
“W nǒ ol abt ɖt!” smîld ɖ bô.
Linda wz so astoniśt at ɖ confidns v ɖs litl crīćr… Ā no, b snsir. Ɖt wz nt ẃt ś flt; it wz smʈñ far difṛnt, it wz smʈñ so ny, so… Ɖ tirz danst in hr îz; ś briɖd in a smōl ẃispr t ɖ bô, “Hlo, mî funi!”
Bt bî nǎ ɖ bô hd fgotn hiz muɖr. H wz sirịs agn. Smʈñ pnc, smʈñ soft wevd in frunt v him. H md a grab at it n it imīɉtli dis’pird. Bt ẃn h le bac, anɖr, lîc ɖ frst, apird. Ɖs tîm h dtrmind t cać it. H md a tṛmnḍs ef̣t n rold rît ovr.
Ɖ tîd wz ǎt; ɖ bīć wz dzrtd; leẓli flopt ɖ worm sī. Ɖ sún bìt dǎn, bìt dǎn hot n fîri on ɖ fîn sand, becñ ɖ gre n blu n blac n ẃît-veind peblz. It suct p ɖ litl drop v wōtr ɖt le in ɖ holo v ɖ crvd ślz; it blīćt ɖ pnc cnvolvyḷs ɖt ʈredd ʈru n ʈru ɖ sandhilz. Nʈñ sīmd t muv bt ɖ smōl sandhóprs. Pit-pit-pit! Ɖe wr nvr stl.
Ovr ɖr on ɖ wīd-huñ rocs ɖt lct at lo tîd lîc śagi bīsts cm dǎn t ɖ wōtr t drinc, ɖ súnlît sīmd t spin lîc a silvr côn dropt intu ć v ɖ smōl rocpūlz. Ɖe danst, ɖe qivrd, n mîńt riplz levd ɖ pōṛs śorz. Lcñ dǎn, bndñ ovr, ć pūl wz lîc a lec wɖ pnc n blu hǎzz clustrd on ɖ śorz; n ǒ! ɖ vast mǎntiṇs cuntri bhnd ɖoz hǎzz—ɖ r’vīnz, ɖ pasz, ɖ denjṛs crìcs n firfl tracs ɖt léd t ɖ wōtr’z éj. Undnʈ wevd ɖ sìforist—pnc ʈred-lîc triz, velvit aneṃniz, n orinj béri-spotd wīdz. Nǎ a ston on ɖ botm muvd, roct, n ɖr wz a glims v a blac fīlr; nǎ a ʈred-lîc crīćr wevrd bî n wz lost. Smʈñ wz haṗnñ t ɖ pnc, wevñ triz; ɖe wr ćenjñ t a cold mūnlît blu. N nǎ ɖr sǎndd ɖ fentist “plop.” Hu md ɖt sǎnd? Ẃt wz gwñ on dǎn ɖr? N hǎ stroñ, hǎ damp ɖ sìwīd smelt in ɖ hot sún…
Ɖ grīn blîndz wr drwn in ɖ bunġloz v ɖ sumrcoḷni. Ovr ɖ vrandaz, pron on ɖ paḍc, fluñ ovr ɖ fnsz, ɖr wr xōstd-lcñ beɖñdresz n ruf strîpt tǎlz. Ć bac windo sīmd t hv a per v sandśuz on ɖ sil n sm lumps v roc or a bucit or a c’lex́n v paua-ślz. Ɖ bś qivrd in a hêz v hīt; ɖ sandi rod wz emti xpt fr ɖ Trǎts’ dog Snūcr, hu le strećt in ɖ vri midl v it. Hiz blu î wz trnd p, hiz legz stuc ǎt stifli, n h gev an oceẓ́nl despṛt-sǎndñ puf, az mć az t se h hd dsîdd t mc an end v it n wz onli wêtñ fr sm cnd cart t cm alñ.
“Ẃt r y lcñ at, mî granmā? Ẃ d y cīp stopñ n sort v stẹrñ at ɖ wōl?”
Cezia n hr granmuɖr wr tecñ ɖer siesta tgɖr. Ɖ litl grl, wẹrñ onli hr śort drorz n hr unḍbodis, hr armz n legz bér, le on wn v ɖ puft-up piloz v hr granmā’z bed, n ɖ old wmn, in a ẃît rufld dresñgǎn, sat in a rocr at ɖ windo, wɖ a loñ pìs v pnc nitñ in hr lap. Ɖs rūm ɖt ɖe śerd, lîc ɖ uɖr rūmz v ɖ bunġlo, wz v lît varniśt wŭd n ɖ flor wz bér. Ɖ frnićr wz v ɖ śabiist, ɖ simplist. Ɖ dresñtebl, fr instns, wz a pacñces in a sprigd muzlin peticot, n ɖ mirr abv wz vri strenj; it wz az ɖo a litl pìs v forct lîtnñ wz impriznd in it. On ɖ tebl ɖr std a jar v sī-pncs, prest so tîtli tgɖr ɖe lct mor lîc a velvit pincŭśn, n a speśl śel ẃć Cezia hd gvn hr granmā fr a pintre, n anɖr īvn mor speśl ẃć ś hd ʈt wd mc a vri nîs ples fr a woć t crl p in.
“Tel m, granmā,” sd Cezia.
Ɖ old wmn said, ẃipt ɖ wŭl twîs rnd hr ʈum, n drù ɖ bon nīdl ʈru. Ś wz castñ on.
“I wz ʈncñ v yr Uncl Wiłm, darlñ,” ś sd qaytli.
“Mî Ostrełn Uncl Wiłm?” sd Cezia. Ś hd anɖr.
“Yes, v cors.”
“Ɖ wn I nvr sw?”
“Ɖt wz ɖ wn.”
“Wel, ẃt hapnd t him?” Cezia ń prf̣cli wel, bt ś wontd t b tld agn.
“H wnt t ɖ mînz, n h got a súnstroc ɖr n daid,” sd old Msz Ferfīld.
Cezia blinct n cnsidrd ɖ picćr agn… A litl man fōḷn ovr lîc a tin soljr bî ɖ sîd v a big blac houl.
“Dz it mc y sad t ʈnc abt him, granmā?” Ś hetd hr granmā t b sad.
It wz ɖ old wmn’z trn t cnsidr. Dd it mc hr sad? T lc bac, bac. T stér dǎn ɖ yirz, az Cezia hd sìn hr dwñ. T lc aftr ɖm az a wmn dz, loñ aftr ɖe wr ǎt v sît. Dd it mc hr sad? No, lîf wz lîc ɖt.
“Bt ẃ?” asct Cezia. Ś liftd wn bér arm n bgan t drw ʈñz in ɖ er. “Ẃ dd Uncl Wiłm hv t dî? H wz’nt old.”
Msz Ferfīld bgan cǎntñ ɖ stićz in ʈriz. “It jst hapnd,” ś sd in an abzorbd vôs.
“Dz evrbdi hv t dî?” asct Cezia.
“M?” Cezia sǎndd firf̣li increɉḷs.
“Sm de, mî darlñ.”
“Bt, granmā.” Cezia wevd hr left leg n wagld ɖ toz. Ɖe flt sandi. “Ẃt f I jst w’nt?”
Ɖ old wmn said agn n drù a loñ ʈred fṛm ɖ bōl.
“W’r nt asct, Cezia,” ś sd sadli. “It hapnz t ol v s snr or lêtr.”
Cezia le stil ʈncñ ɖs ovr. Ś dd’nt wont t dî. It mnt ś wd hv t līv hir, līv evrẃr, fr evr, līv—līv hr granmā. Ś rold ovr qcli.
“Granmā,” ś sd in a startld vôs.
“Ẃt, mî pet!”
“Y’r nt t dî.” Cezia wz vri dsîdd.
“Ā, Cezia”—hr granmā lct p n smîld n śc hr hed—“d’nt let’s tōc abt it.”
“Bt y’r nt t. Y cd’nt līv m. Y cd’nt nt b ɖr.” Ɖs wz ōfl. “Promis m y w’nt evr d it, granmā,” plīdd Cezia.
Ɖ old wmn wnt on nitñ.
“Promis m! Se nvr!”
Bt stl hr granmā wz sîḷnt.
Cezia rold of hr bed; ś cd’nt ber it eni longr, n lîtli ś lept on t hr granmā’z niz, claspt hr handz rnd ɖ old wmn’z ʈrot n bgan cisñ hr, undr ɖ ćin, bhnd ɖ ir, n blowñ dǎn hr nec.
“Se nvr… se nvr… se nvr—” Ś gaspt btwn ɖ cisz. N ɖen ś bgan, vri softli n lîtli, t ticl hr granmā.
“Cezia!” Ɖ old wmn dropt hr nitñ. Ś swuñ bac in ɖ rocr. Ś bgan t ticl Cezia. “Se nvr, se nvr, se nvr,” grgld Cezia, ẃl ɖe le ɖr lafñ in ć uɖr’z armz. “Cm, ɖt’s inuf, mî sqiṛl! Ɖt’s inuf, mî wîld poni!” sd old Msz Ferfīld, setñ hr cap stret. “Pic p mî nitñ.”
Ɖ sún wz stl fl on ɖ gardn ẃn ɖ bac dor v ɖ Brnélz’ śut wɖ a bañ, n a vri ge figr wōct dǎn ɖ paʈ t ɖ get. It wz Alis, ɖ srvntgrl, drest fr hr afṭnun ǎt. Ś wòr a ẃît cotn dres wɖ sć larj red spots on it n so mni ɖt ɖe md y śudr, ẃît śuz n a leghorn trnd p undr ɖ brim wɖ popiz. V cors ś wòr gluvz, ẃît wnz, stend at ɖ faṣnñz wɖ aynmold, n in wn hand ś carid a vri daśt-lcñ súnśêd ẃć ś rfŕd t az hr “peṛhōl.”
Beṛl, sitñ in ɖ windo, fanñ hr freśli-wośt her, ʈt ś hd nvr sìn sć a gai. F Alis hd onli blact hr fes wɖ a pìs v corc bfr ś startd ǎt, ɖ picćr wd hv bn cmplit. N ẃr dd a grl lîc ɖt g t in a ples lîc ɖs? Ɖ hart-śept Fijiyn fan bìt scornf̣li at ɖt luvli brît mein. Ś s’pozd Alis hd pict p sm hoṛbl comn laṛcin n ɖ’d g of intu ɖ bś tgɖr. Piti t hv md hrslf so cnspiks; ɖ’d hv hard wrc t hîd wɖ Alis in ɖt rig-ǎt.
Bt no, Beṛl wz unfer. Alis wz gwñ t ti wɖ Msz Stubz, hu’d snt hr an “invît” bî ɖ litl bô hu cōld fr ordrz. Ś hd tecn evr sć a lîcñ t Msz Stubz evr sins ɖ frst tîm ś wnt t ɖ śop t gt smʈñ fr hr mscītoz.
“Dir hart!” Msz Stubz hd clapt hr hand t hr sîd. “I nvr sìn enwn so ītn. Y mt hv bn atact bî canñbōlz.”
Alis dd wś ɖr’d bn a bit v lîf on ɖ rod ɖo. Md hr fīl so qir, hvñ nbdi bhnd hr. Md hr fīl ol wìc in ɖ spîn. Ś cd’nt b’liv ɖt smwn wz’nt woćñ hr. N yt it wz sili t trn rnd; it gev y awe. Ś pld p hr gluvz, humd t hrslf n sd t ɖ distnt gumtrī, “Ś’nt b loñ nǎ.” Bt ɖt wz hardli cumṗni.
Msz Stubz’z śop wz prćt on a litl hiḷc jst of ɖ rod. It hd tū big windoz fr îz, a brōd vranda fr a hat, n ɖ sîn on ɖ rūf, scrōld MSZ STUBZ’Z, wz lîc a litl card stuc rêciśli in ɖ hatcrǎn.
On ɖ vranda ɖr huñ a loñ strñ v beɖñdresz, clññ tgɖr az ɖo ɖ’d jst bn rescyd fṛm ɖ sī rɖr ɖn wêtñ t g in, n bsd ɖm ɖr huñ a clustr v sandśūz so xtrordnṛli mixt ɖt t gt at wn per y hd t ter apart n forṣbli sepṛt at līst fifti. Īvn ɖen it wz ɖ rẹrist ʈñ t fînd ɖ left ɖt b’loñd t ɖ rît. So mni ppl hd lost peśns n gn of wɖ wn śu ɖt fitd n wn ɖt wz a litl tù big… Msz Stubz prîdd hrslf on cīpñ smʈñ v evrʈñ. Ɖ tū windoz, arenjd in ɖ form v pricerịs piṛmidz, wr cramd so tît, pîld so hî, ɖt it sīmd onli a cunjrr cd privnt ɖm fṛm toṗlñ ovr. In ɖ left-hand cornr v wn windo, glùd t ɖ pein bî for jeḷtīn loznjz, ɖr wz—n ɖr hd bn fṛm tîm immorịl—a notis.
LOST! HANSM GOL BROĆ
ON OR NIR BĪĆ
Alis prest opn ɖ dor. Ɖ bel jangld, ɖ red srj crtnz partd, n Msz Stubz apird. Wɖ hr brōd smîl n ɖ loñ bêcņîf in hr hand, ś lct lîc a frendli brignd. Alis wz welcmd so wormli ɖt ś faund it qt dificlt t cīp p hr “manrz.” Ɖe cnsistd v psistent litl cofs n hmz, plz at hr gluvz, twīcs at hr scrt, n a krịs dificlti in siyñ ẃt wz set bfr hr or unḍstandñ ẃt wz sd.
Ti wz léd on ɖ parlrtebl—ham, sardīnz, a hol pǎnd v butr, n sć a larj Jónicec ɖt it lct lîc an advrtismnt fr smbdi’z becñpǎdr. Bt ɖ Prîṃs stov rord so lǎdli ɖt it wz yslis t trî t tōc abv it. Alis sat dǎn on ɖ éj v a bascitćer ẃl Msz Stubz pumt ɖ stov stl hayr. Sudnli Msz Stubz ẃipt ɖ cŭśn of a ćer n dsclozd a larj brǎn-pepr parsl.
“I’v jst hd sm ny fotrz tecn, mî dir,” ś śǎtd ćirf̣li t Alis. “Tel m ẃt y ʈnc v ɖm.”
In a vri denti, rfînd we Alis wet hr fngr n pt ɖ tiśu bac fṛm ɖ frst wn. Lîf! Hǎ mni ɖr wr! Ɖr wr ʈri dozñ at līst. N ś hld it p t ɖ lît.
Msz Stubz sat in an armćer, līnñ vri mć t wn sîd. Ɖr wz a lc v mîld astoniśmnt on hr larj fes, n wel ɖr mt b. Fr ɖo ɖ armćer std on a carpit, t ɖ left v it, mrakḷsli scrtñ ɖ carpitbordr, ɖr wz a daśñ wōtrfōl. On hr rît std a Grìśn pilr wɖ a jaynt frntrī on îɖr sîd v it, n in ɖ bacgrǎnd tǎrd a gōnt mǎntin, pel wɖ sno.
“It z a nîs stîl, z’nt it?” śǎtd Msz Stubz; n Alis hd jst scrīmd “Swītli” ẃn ɖ rorñ v ɖ Prîṃs stov daid dǎn, fízld ǎt, sīst, n ś sd “Priti” in a sîḷns ɖt wz frîṭnñ.
“Drw p yr ćer, mî dir,” sd Msz Stubz, bginñ t por ǎt. “Yes,” ś sd ʈōtf̣li, az ś handd ɖ ti, “bt I d’nt cer abt ɖ sîz. I’m hvñ an inlarjmint. Ol vri wel fr Crisṃs cardz, bt I nvr wz ɖ wn fr smōl fotrz mslf. Y gt no cumf̣t ǎt v ɖm. T se ɖ truʈ, I fînd ɖm dsarṭnñ.”
Alis qt sw ẃt ś mnt.
“Sîz,” sd Msz Stubz. “Gv m sîz. Ɖt wz ẃt mî pur dir huzbnd wz olwz seyñ. H cd’nt stand enʈñ smōl. Gev him ɖ crīps. N, strenj az it me sīm, mî dir”—hir Msz Stubz crīct n sīmd t xpand hrslf at ɖ meṃri—“it wz dropsi ɖt Carid him of at ɖ larst. Mni’z ɖ tîm ɖe drwn wn n a haf pînts fṛm im at ɖ ospitl… It sīmd lîc a jujmint.”
Alis brnd t nǒ xacli ẃt it wz ɖt wz drwn fṛm him. Ś vnćrd, “I s’poz it wz wōtr.”
Liqid! Alis jumt awe fṛm ɖ wrd lîc a cat n cem bac t it, nozñ n wẹri.
“Ɖt’s im!” sd Msz Stubz, n ś pôntd dṛmaticli t ɖ lîf-sîz hed n śoldrz v a brli man wɖ a ded ẃît rǒz in ɖ butnhoul v hiz cot ɖt md y ʈnc v a crl v cold mutñfat. Jst b’lo, in silvr letrz on a red cardbōrd grǎnd, wr ɖ wrdz, “B nt afreid, it z I.”
“It’s evr sć a fîn fes,” sd Alis fentli.
Ɖ pel-blu bo on ɖ top v Msz Stubz’z fer frizi her qivrd. Ś arćt hr plump nec. Ẃt a nec ś hd! It wz brît pnc ẃr it bgan n ɖen it ćenjd t worm epṛcót, n ɖt fedd t ɖ culr v a brǎn eg n ɖen t a dīp crīmi.
“Ol ɖ sem, mî dir,” ś sd s’prîzñli, “frīdm’z bst!” Hr soft, fat ćucl sǎndd lîc a pr. “Frīdm’z bst,” sd Msz Stubz agn.
Frīdm! Alis gev a lǎd, sili litl titr. Ś flt ōcẉd. Hr mînd flù bac t hr ǒn cićñ. Evr so qir! Ś wontd t b bac in it agn.
A strenj cumṗni asmbld in ɖ Brnélz’ wośhǎs aftr ti. Rnd ɖ tebl ɖr sat a bl, a rūstr, a donci ɖt cept fgetñ it wz a donci, a śīp n a bì. Ɖ wośhǎs wz ɖ prfict ples fr sć a mītñ bcz ɖe cd mc az mć nôz az ɖe lîct, n nbdi evr inṭruptd. It wz a smōl tin śed standñ apart fṛm ɖ bunġlo. Agnst ɖ wōl ɖr wz a dīp trof n in ɖ cornr a copr wɖ a bascit v cloɖzpegz on top v it. Ɖ litl windo, spun ovr wɖ cobwebz, hd a pìs v candl n a mǎstrap on ɖ dusti sil. Ɖr wr cloɖzlînz cris-crost oṿhed n, haññ fṛm a peg on ɖ wōl, a vri big, a hyj, rusti horsśu. Ɖ tebl wz in ɖ midl wɖ a form at îɖr sîd.
“Y c’nt b a bì, Cezia. A bì’z nt an animl. It’s a ninsec.”
“Ǒ, bt I d wont t b a bì frîtf̣li,” weild Cezia… A tîni bì, ol yelo-fŕi, wɖ strîpt legz. Ś drù hr legz p undr hr n līnd ovr ɖ tebl. Ś flt ś wz a bì.
“A ninsec mst b an animl,” ś sd stǎtli. “It mcs a nôz. It’s nt lîc a fiś.”
“I’m a bl, I’m a bl!” craid Pip. N h gev sć a tṛmnḍs belo—hǎ dd h mc ɖt nôz?—ɖt Loti lct qt alarmd.
“I’l b a śīp,” sd litl Ragz. “A hol lot v śīp wnt past ɖs mornñ.”
“Hǎ d y nǒ?”
“Dad hŕd ɖm. Ba!” H sǎndd lîc ɖ litl lam ɖt trots bhnd n sīmz t wêt t b carid.
“Coc-a-dūdl-du!” śrild Iẓbél. Wɖ hr red ćīcs n brît îz ś lct lîc a rūstr.
“Ẃt’l I b?” Loti asct evrbdi, n ś sat ɖr smîlñ, wêtñ fr ɖm t dsîd fr hr. It hd t b an īzi wn.
“B a donci, Loti.” It wz Cezia’z sjsćn. “Hī-hw! Y c’nt fget ɖt.”
“Hī-hw!” sd Loti soḷmli. “Ẃn d I hv t se it?”
“I’l xplen, I’l xplen,” sd ɖ bl. It wz h hu hd ɖ cardz. H wevd ɖm rnd hiz hed. “Ol b qayt! Ol lisn!” N h wêtd fr ɖm. “Lc hir, Loti.” H trnd p a card. “It’s got tū spots on it—si? Nǎ, f y pt ɖt card in ɖ midl n smbdi els hz wn wɖ tū spots az wel, y se ‘Hī-hw,’ n ɖ card’z yrz.”
Loti lct at bʈ v ɖm. Ɖen ś huñ hr hed; hr lip qivrd. “I d’nt wont t ple,” ś ẃisprd. Ɖ uɖrz glanst at wn anɖr lîc cnspiṛtrz. Ol v ɖm ń ẃt ɖt mnt. Ś wd g awe n b dscuvrd smẃr standñ wɖ hr pini ʈroun ovr hr hed, in a cornr, or agnst a wōl, or īvn bhnd a ćer.
“Yes, y d, Loti. It’s qt īzi,” sd Cezia.
N Iẓbél, rpntnt, sd xacli lîc a groun-up, “Woć m, Loti, n y’l sn lrn.”
“Ćir p, Lot,” sd Pip. “Ɖr, I nǒ ẃt I’l d. I’l gv y ɖ frst wn. It’s mîn, riyli, bt I’l gv it t y. Hir y r.” N h slamd ɖ card dǎn in frunt v Loti.
Loti rvîvd at ɖt. Bt nǎ ś wz in anɖr dificlti. “I hv’nt got a hanci,” ś sd; “I wont wn badli, tù.”
“Hir, Loti, y cn yz mîn.” Ragz dipt intu hiz sêlrblǎz n bròt p a vri wet-lcñ wn, nótd tgɖr. “B vri cerfl,” h wornd hr. “Onli yz ɖt cornr. D’nt undu it. I’v got a litl starfiś insd I’m gwñ t trî n tem.”
“Ǒ, cm on, y grlz,” sd ɖ bl. “N mînd—y’r nt t lc at yr cardz. Y’v got t cīp yr handz undr ɖ tebl tl I se ‘G.’”
Smac wnt ɖ cardz rnd ɖ tebl. Ɖe traid wɖ ol ɖer mît t si, bt Pip wz tù qc fr ɖm. It wz vri xîtñ, sitñ ɖr in ɖ wośhǎs; it wz ol ɖe cd d nt t brst intu a litl cōṛs v animlz bfr Pip hd finiśt dīlñ.
“Nǎ, Loti, y bgin.”
Timidli Loti strećt ǎt a hand, tc ɖ top card of hr pac, hd a gd lc at it—it wz plen ś wz cǎntñ ɖ spots—n pt it dǎn.
“No, Loti, y c’nt d ɖt. Y ms’nt lc frst. Y mst trn it ɖ uɖr we ovr.”
“Bt ɖen evrbdi wl si it ɖ sem tîm az m,” sd Loti.
Ɖ gem pṛsidd. Moo-oo-’r! Ɖ bl wz teṛbl. H ćarjd ovr ɖ tebl n sīmd t īt ɖ cardz p.
Bzz-zz! sd ɖ bì.
Coc-a-dūdl-du! Iẓbél std p in hr xîtmnt n muvd hr elboz lîc wñz.
Ba! Litl Ragz pt dǎn ɖ Cñ v Dîmndz n Loti pt dǎn ɖ wn ɖe cōld ɖ Cñ v Spen. Ś hd hardli eni cardz left.
“Ẃ d’nt y cōl ǎt, Loti?”
“I’v fgotn ẃt I am,” sd ɖ donci wǒf̣li.
“Wel, ćenj! B a dog instd! Bǎ-wǎ!”
“Ǒ yes. Ɖt’s mć īzịr.” Loti smîld agn. Bt ẃn ś n Cezia bʈ hd a wn Cezia wêtd on prṗs. Ɖ uɖrz md sînz t Loti n pôntd. Loti trnd vri red; ś lct bwildrd, n at last ś sd, “Hī-hw! Cé-zia.”
“Śś! Wêt a minit!” Ɖe wr in ɖ vri ʈic v it ẃn ɖ bl stopt ɖm, holdñ p hiz hand. “Ẃt’s ɖt? Ẃt’s ɖt nôz?”
“Ẃt nôz? Ẃt d y mīn?” asct ɖ rūstr.
“Śś! Śut p! Lisn!” Ɖe wr mǎs-stil. “I ʈt I hŕd a—a sort v nocñ,” sd ɖ bl.
“Ẃt wz it lîc?” asct ɖ śīp fentli.
Ɖ bì gev a śudr. “Ẃtvr dd w śut ɖ dor fr?” ś sd softli. Ǒ, ẃ, ẃ hd ɖe śut ɖ dor?
Ẃl ɖe wr pleyñ, ɖ de hd fedd; ɖ gorjs súnset hd blezd n daid. N nǎ ɖ qc darc cem rêsñ ovr ɖ sī, ovr ɖ sandhilz, p ɖ paḍc. Y wr frîtnd t lc in ɖ cornrz v ɖ wośhǎs, n yt y hd t lc wɖ ol yr mt. N smẃr, far awe, granmā wz lîtñ a lamp. Ɖ blîndz wr biyñ pld dǎn; ɖ cićnfîr lept in ɖ tinz on ɖ mantlpìs.
“It wd b ōfl nǎ,” sd ɖ bl, “f a spîdr wz t fōl fṛm ɖ sīlñ on t ɖ tebl, wd’nt it?”
“Spîdrz d’nt fōl fṛm sīlñz.”
“Yes, ɖe d. Ǎr Min tld s ś’d sìn a spîdr az big az a sōspn, wɖ loñ herz on it lîc a gūzḅri.”
Qcli ol ɖ litl hedz wr jrct p; ol ɖ litl bodiz drù tgɖr, prest tgɖr.
“Ẃ dz’nt smbdi cm n cōl s?” craid ɖ rūstr.
Ǒ, ɖoz groun-ups, lafñ n snug, sitñ in ɖ lamplît, drincñ ǎt v cups! Ɖ’d fgotn abt ɖm. No, nt riyli fgotn. Ɖt wz ẃt ɖer smîl mnt. Ɖe hd dsîdd t līv ɖm ɖr ol bî ɖmslvz.
Sudnli Loti gev sć a pirsñ scrīm ɖt ol v ɖm jumt of ɖ formz, ol v ɖm scrīmd tù. “A fes—a fes lcñ!” śrīct Loti.
It wz tru, it wz riyl. Prest agnst ɖ windo wz a pel fes, blac îz, a blac bird.
“Granmā! Muɖr! Smbdi!”
Bt ɖe hd nt got t ɖ dor, tumḅlñ ovr wn anɖr, bfr it opnd fr Uncl Joṇʈn. H hd cm t tec ɖ litl bôz hom.
H hd mnt t b ɖr bfr, bt in ɖ frunt gardn h hd cm upn Linda wōcñ p n dǎn ɖ gras, stopñ t pic of a ded pnc or gv a top-hevi carneśn smʈñ t līn agnst, or t tec a dīp breʈ v smʈñ, n ɖen wōcñ on agn, wɖ hr litl er v rmotnis. Ovr hr ẃît froc ś wòr a yelo, pnc-frinjd śōl fṛm ɖ Ćîṇmn’z śop.
“Hlo, Joṇʈn!” cōld Linda. N Joṇʈn ẃipt of hiz śabi Paṇmā, prest it agnst hiz brest, dropt on wn ni, n cist Linda’z hand.
“Grītñ, mî Fer Wn! Grītñ, mî S’lesćl Pīćblosm!” būmd ɖ beis vôs jntli. “Ẃr r ɖ uɖr nobl demz?”
“Beṛl’z ǎt pleyñ brij n muɖr’z gvñ ɖ bô hiz baʈ… Hv y cm t boro smʈñ?”
Ɖ Trǎts wr fr evr runñ ǎt v ʈñz n sndñ acrs t ɖ Brnélz’ at ɖ last momnt.
Bt Joṇʈn onli ansrd, “A litl luv, a litl cîndnis;” n h wōct bî hiz sistr-in-lw’z sîd.
Linda dropt intu Beṛl’z haṃc undr ɖ mnūc̣trī, n Joṇʈn strećt himslf on ɖ gras bsd hr, pld a loñ stōc n bgan ćuwñ it. Ɖe ń ć uɖr wel. Ɖ vôsz v ćildṛn craid fṛm ɖ uɖr gardnz. A fiśrmn’z lît cart śc alñ ɖ sandi rod, n fṛm far awe ɖe hŕd a dog barcñ; it wz mufld az ɖo ɖ dog hd its hed in a sác. F y lisnd y cd jst hír ɖ soft swiś v ɖ sī at fl tîd swīpñ ɖ peblz. Ɖ sún wz sncñ.
“N so y g bac t ɖ ofis on Munde, d y, Joṇʈn?” asct Linda.
“On Munde ɖ cejdor opnz n clañz t upn ɖ victim fr anɖr ilevn munʈs n a wīc,” ansrd Joṇʈn.
Linda swuñ a litl. “It mst b ōfl,” ś sd slǒli.
“Wd yi hv m laf, mî fer sistr? Wd yi hv m wīp?”
Linda wz so acustmd t Joṇʈn’z we v tōcñ ɖt ś ped no atnśn t it.
“I s’poz,” ś sd vegli, “wn gts yst t it. Wn gts yst t enʈñ.”
“Dz wn? Hum!” Ɖ “Hum” wz so dīp it sīmd t būm fṛm undnʈ ɖ grǎnd. “I wundr hǎ it’s dn,” brūdd Joṇʈn; “I’v nvr manijd it.”
Lcñ at him az h le ɖr, Linda ʈt agn hǎ atractiv h wz. It wz strenj t ʈnc ɖt h wz onli an ordnri clarc, ɖt Stanli ŕnd twîs az mć muni az h. Ẃt wz ɖ matr wɖ Joṇʈn? H hd no ambiśn; ś s’pozd ɖt wz it. N yt wn flt h wz giftd, xpśnl. H wz paśṇtli fond v ḿzic; evri sper peni h hd wnt on bcs. H wz olwz fl v ny îdīaz, scīmz, planz. Bt nʈñ cem v it ol. Ɖ ny fîr blezd in Joṇʈn; y olmst hŕd it rorñ softli az h xplend, dscrîbd n dletd on ɖ ny ʈñ; bt a momnt lêtr it hd fōḷn in n ɖr wz nʈñ bt aśz, n Joṇʈn wnt abt wɖ a lc lîc hungr in hiz blac îz. At ɖz tîmz h xaɉretd hiz absrd manr v spīcñ, n h sañ in ćrć—h wz ɖ līdr v ɖ qîr—wɖ sć firfl dṛmatic intnṣti ɖt ɖ mīnist hím pt on an unholi splendr.
“It sīmz t m jst az imḅsil, jst az infrṇl, t hv t g t ɖ ofis on Munde,” sd Joṇʈn, “az it olwz hz dn n olwz wl d. T spend ol ɖ bst yirz v wn’z lîf sitñ on a stūl fṛm nîn t fîv, scraćñ in smbdi’z lejr! It’s a qir ys t mc v wn’z… wn n onli lîf, z’nt it? Or d I fondli drīm?” H rold ovr on ɖ gras n lct p at Linda. “Tel m, ẃt z ɖ difṛns btwn mî lîf n ɖt v an ordnri priznr. Ɖ onli difṛns I cn si z ɖt I pt mslf in jel n nbdi’z evr gwñ t let m ǎt. Ɖt’s a mor intolṛbl sićueśn ɖn ɖ uɖr. Fr f I’d bn—pśt in, agnst mî wil—cicñ, īvn—wns ɖ dor wz loct, or at eni ret in fîv yirz or so, I mt hv axptd ɖ fact n bgun t tec an inṭrest in ɖ flît v flîz or cǎntñ ɖ wordr’z steps alñ ɖ pasij wɖ ptiklr atnśn t verieśnz v tréd n so on. Bt az it z, I’m lîc an insect ɖt’s floun intu a rūm v its ǒn acord. I daś agnst ɖ wōlz, daś agnst ɖ windoz, flop agnst ɖ sīlñ, d evrʈñ on God’z rʈ, in fact, xpt flî ǎt agn. N ol ɖ ẃl I’m ʈncñ, lîc ɖt moʈ, or ɖt buṭflî, or ẃtvr it z, ‘Ɖ śortnis v lîf! Ɖ śortnis v lîf!’ I’v onli wn nît or wn de, n ɖr’z ɖs vast denjṛs gardn, wêtñ ǎt ɖr, undiscuvrd, unixplord.”
“Bt, f y fīl lîc ɖt, ẃ—” bgan Linda qcli.
“Ā!” craid Joṇʈn. N ɖt “ā!” wz smhǎ olmst xultnt. “Ɖr y hv m. Ẃ? Ẃ indd? Ɖr’z ɖ maḍnñ, mstirịs qsćn. Ẃ d’nt I flî ǎt agn? Ɖr’z ɖ windo or ɖ dor or ẃtvr it wz I cem in bî. It’s nt hoplisli śut—z it? Ẃ d’nt I fînd it n b of? Ansr m ɖt, litl sistr.” Bt h gev hr no tîm t ansr.
“I’m xacli lîc ɖt insect agn. Fr sm rīzn”—Joṇʈn pōzd btwn ɖ wrdz—“it’s nt alaud, it’s fbidn, it’s agnst ɖ insectlw, t stop baññ n flopñ n crōlñ p ɖ pein īvn fr an instnt. Ẃ d’nt I līv ɖ ofis? Ẃ d’nt I sirịsli cnsidr, ɖs momnt, fr instns, ẃt it z ɖt privnts m līvñ? It’s nt az ɖo I’m tṛmndsli taid. I’v tū bôz t pṛvîd fr, bt, aftr ol, ɖ’r bôz. I cd cut of t sī, or gt a job up-cuntri, or—” Sudnli h smîld at Linda n sd in a ćenjd vôs, az f h wr cnfîdñ a sīcrit, “Wìc… wìc. No stamina. No ancr. No gîdñ prínsipl, let s cōl it.” Bt ɖen ɖ darc vlṿti vôs rold ǎt:
Wd yi hír ɖ stori
Hǎ it unfoldz itslf…
n ɖe wr sîḷnt.
Ɖ sún hd set. In ɖ wstn scî ɖr wr gret masz v cruśt-up rǒz-culrd clǎdz. Brōd bīmz v lît śon ʈru ɖ clǎdz n bynd ɖm az f ɖe wd cuvr ɖ hol scî. Oṿhed ɖ blu fedd; it trnd a pel gold, n ɖ bś ǎtlînd agnst it glīmd darc n briłnt lîc metl. Smtmz ẃn ɖoz bīmz v lît śo in ɖ scî ɖe r vri ōfl. Ɖe rmînd y ɖt p ɖr sits Jhova, ɖ jeḷs God, ɖ Olmîti, Huz î z upn y, evr woćfl, nvr wiri. Y rmembr ɖt at Hiz cmñ ɖ hol rʈ wl śec intu wn ruind grevyard; ɖ cold, brît enjlz wl drîv y ɖs we n ɖt, n ɖr wl b no tîm t xplen ẃt cd b xplend so simpli… Bt tnît it sīmd t Linda ɖr wz smʈñ infiṇtli jôfl n luvñ in ɖoz silvr bīmz. N nǎ no sǎnd cem fṛm ɖ sī. It briɖd softli az f it wd drw ɖt tndr, jôfl byti intu its ǒn bŭzm.
“It’s ol roñ, it’s ol roñ,” cem ɖ śadǒi vôs v Joṇʈn. “It’s nt ɖ sīn, it’s nt ɖ setñ fr… ʈri stūlz, ʈri dscs, ʈri ñcpots n a wîr blînd.”
Linda ń ɖt h wd nvr ćenj, bt ś sd, “Z it tù lêt, īvn nǎ?”
“I’m old—I’m old,” intond Joṇʈn. H bnt twdz hr, h pást hiz hand ovr hiz hed. “Lc!” Hiz blac her wz specld ol ovr wɖ silvr, lîc ɖ brestplūmij v a blac faul.
Linda wz s’prîzd. Ś hd no îdīa ɖt h wz gre. N yt, az h std p bsd hr n said n strećt, ś sw him, fr ɖ frst tîm, nt reẓlut, nt gaḷnt, nt cerlis, bt tućt olrdi wɖ ej. H lct vri tōl on ɖ darc̣nñ gras, n ɖ ʈōt crost hr mînd, “H z lîc a wīd.”
Joṇʈn stūpt agn n cist hr fngrz.
“Hevn rword ɖî swīt peśns, ledi mîn,” h mrmrd. “I mst g sīc ɖoz érz t mî fem n fortyn…” H wz gn.
Lît śon in ɖ windoz v ɖ bunġlo. Tū sqer paćz v gold fél upn ɖ pncs n ɖ pīct maṛgoldz. Flori, ɖ cat, cem ǎt on t ɖ vranda, n sat on ɖ top step, hr ẃît pwz clos tgɖr, hr teil crld rnd. Ś lct cntnt, az ɖo ś hd bn wêtñ fr ɖs momnt ol de.
“Ʈanc gdnis, it’s gtñ lêt,” sd Flori. “Ʈanc gdnis, ɖ loñ de z ovr.” Hr grīngej îz opnd.
Prezntli ɖr sǎndd ɖ rumbl v ɖ coć, ɖ crac v Celi’z ẃip. It cem nir inuf fr wn t hír ɖ vôsz v ɖ men fṛm tǎn, tōcñ lǎdli tgɖr. It stopt at ɖ Brnélz’ get.
Stanli wz hafwe p ɖ paʈ bfr h sw Linda. “Z ɖt y, darlñ?”
H lept acrs ɖ flǎrbed n sizd hr in hiz armz. Ś wz infoldd in ɖt fmiłr, īgr, stroñ imbres.
“Fgiv m, darlñ, fgiv m,” stamrd Stanli, n h pt hiz hand undr hr ćin n liftd hr fes t him.
“Fgiv y?” smîld Linda. “Bt ẃtvr fr?”
“Gd God! Y c’nt hv fgotn,” craid Stanli Brnél. “I’v ʈt v nʈñ els ol de. I’v hd ɖ hel v a de. I md p mî mînd t daś ǎt n teḷgraf, n ɖen I ʈt ɖ wîr mt’nt rīć y bfr I dd. I’v bn in torćrz, Linda.”
“Bt, Stanli,” sd Linda, “ẃt mst I fgiv y fr?”
“Linda!”—Stanli wz vri hrt—“dd’nt y riylîz—y mst hv riylîzd—I wnt awe wɖt seyñ gdbî t y ɖs mornñ? I c’nt imajin hǎ I cn hv dn sć a ʈñ. Mî cnfǎndd tmpr, v cors. Bt—wel”—n h said n tc hr in hiz armz agn—“I’v sufrd fr it inuf tde.”
“Ẃt’s ɖt y’v got in yr hand?” asct Linda. “Ny gluvz? Let m si.”
“Ǒ, jst a ćīp per v wośleɖr wnz,” sd Stanli humbli. “I notist Bel wz wẹrñ sm in ɖ coć ɖs mornñ, so, az I wz pasñ ɖ śop, I daśt in n got mslf a per. Ẃt r y smîlñ at? Y d’nt ʈnc it wz roñ v m, d y?”
“On ɖ contrri, darlñ,” sd Linda, “I ʈnc it wz most snṣbl.”
Ś pld wn v ɖ larj, pel gluvz on hr ǒn fngrz n lct at hr hand, trnñ it ɖs we n ɖt. Ś wz stl smîlñ.
Stanli wontd t se, “I wz ʈncñ v y ɖ hol tîm I bòt ɖm.” It wz tru, bt fr sm rīzn h cd’nt se it. “Let’s g in,” sd h.
Ẃ dz wn fīl so difṛnt at nît? Ẃ z it so xîtñ t b awec ẃn evrbdi els z aslip? Lêt—it z vri lêt! N yt evri momnt y fīl mor n mor wecfl, az ɖo y wr slǒli, olmst wɖ evri breʈ, wecñ p intu a ny, wundrfl, far mor ʈrilñ n xîtñ wrld ɖn ɖ dêlît wn. N ẃt z ɖs qir snseśn ɖt y’r a cnspiṛtr? Lîtli, stelʈ̇li y muv abt yr rūm. Y tec smʈñ of ɖ dresñtebl n pt it dǎn agn wɖt a sǎnd. N evrʈñ, īvn ɖ bedpost, nz y, rspondz, śerz yr sīcrit…
Y’r nt vri fond v yr rūm bî de. Y nvr ʈnc abt it. Y’r in n ǎt, ɖ dor opnz n slamz, ɖ cuḅd crīcs. Y sit dǎn on ɖ sîd v yr bed, ćenj yr śuz n daś ǎt agn. A dîv dǎn t ɖ glas, tū pinz in yr her, pǎdr yr nǒz n of agn. Bt nǎ—it’s sudnli dir t y. It’s a darlñ litl funi rūm. It’s yrz. Ǒ, ẃt a jô it z t ǒn ʈñz! Mîn—mî ǒn!
“Mî vri ǒn fr evr?”
“Yes.” Ɖer lips met.
No, v cors, ɖt hd nʈñ t d wɖ it. Ɖt wz ol nonsns n rubiś. Bt, in spît v hrslf, Beṛl sw so plenli tū ppl standñ in ɖ midl v hr rūm. Hr armz wr rnd hiz nec; h hld hr. N nǎ h ẃisprd, “Mî byti, mî litl byti!” Ś jumt of hr bed, ran ovr t ɖ windo n nīld on ɖ windosīt, wɖ hr elboz on ɖ sil. Bt ɖ bytifl nît, ɖ gardn, evri bś, evri līf, īvn ɖ ẃît pêlñz, īvn ɖ starz, wr cnspiṛtrz tù. So brît wz ɖ mūn ɖt ɖ flǎrz wr brît az bî de; ɖ śado v ɖ nstrśmz, xqizit lili-lîc līvz n wîd-opn flǎrz, le acrs ɖ silṿri vranda. Ɖ mnūc̣trī, bnt bî ɖ suɖrli windz, wz lîc a brd on wn leg strećñ ǎt a wñ.
Bt ẃn Beṛl lct at ɖ bś, it sīmd t hr ɖ bś wz sad.
“W r dum triz, rīćñ p in ɖ nît, implorñ w nǒ nt ẃt,” sd ɖ soṛfl bś.
It z tru ẃn y r bî yrslf n y ʈnc abt lîf, it z olwz sad. Ol ɖt xîtmnt n so on hz a we v sudnli līvñ y, n it’s az ɖo, in ɖ sîḷns, smbdi cōld yr nem, n y hŕd yr nem fr ɖ frst tîm. “Beṛl!”
“Yes, I’m hir. I’m Beṛl. Hu wonts m?”
“Let m cm.”
It z lonli livñ bî wnslf. V cors, ɖr r rleśnz, frendz, hīps v ɖm; bt ɖt’s nt ẃt ś mīnz. Ś wonts smwn hu wl fînd ɖ Beṛl ɖe nn v ɖm nǒ, hu wl xpct hr t b ɖt Beṛl olwz. Ś wonts a luvr.
“Tec m awe fṛm ol ɖz uɖr ppl, mî luv. Let s g far awe. Let s liv ǎr lîf, ol ny, ol ǎrz, fṛm ɖ vri bginñ. Let s mc ǎr fîr. Let s sit dǎn t īt tgɖr. Let s hv loñ tōcs at nît.”
N ɖ ʈōt wz olmst, “Sev m, mî luv. Sev m!”
…“Ǒ, g on! D’nt b a prūd, mî dir. Y injô yrslf ẃl y’r yuñ. Ɖt’s mî advîs.” N a hî ruś v sili laftr jônd Msz Hari Cmbr’z lǎd, indifṛnt ne.
Y si, it’s so frîtf̣li dificlt ẃn y’v nbdi. Y’r so at ɖ mrsi v ʈñz. Y c’nt jst b rūd. N y’v olwz ɖs horr v sīmñ inixpirịnst n stufi lîc ɖ uɖr niniz at ɖ Be. N—n it’s faṣnetñ t nǒ y’v pǎr ovr ppl. Yes, ɖt z faṣnetñ…
Ǒ ẃ, ǒ ẃ dz’nt “h” cm sn?
F I g on livñ hir, ʈt Beṛl, enʈñ me hapn t m.
“Bt hǎ d y nǒ h z cmñ at ol?” moct a smōl vôs wɖn hr.
Bt Beṛl dsmist it. Ś cd’nt b left. Uɖr ppl, phps, bt nt ś. It wz’nt poṣbl t ʈnc ɖt Beṛl Ferfīld nvr marid, ɖt luvli faṣnetñ grl.
“D y rmembr Beṛl Ferfīld?”
“Rmembr hr! Az f I cd fget hr! It wz wn sumr at ɖ Be ɖt I sw hr. Ś wz standñ on ɖ bīć in a blu”—no, pnc—“muzlin froc, holdñ on a big crīm”—no, blac—“strw hat. Bt it’s yirz ago nǎ.”
“Ś’z az luvli az evr, mor so f enʈñ.”
Beṛl smîld, bit hr lip, n gezd ovr ɖ gardn. Az ś gezd, ś sw smbdi, a man, līv ɖ rod, step alñ ɖ paḍc bsd ɖer pêlñz az f h wz cmñ stret twdz hr. Hr hart bìt. Hu wz it? Hu cd it b? It cd’nt b a brglr, srtnli nt a brglr, fr h wz smocñ n h strold lîtli. Beṛl’z hart lept; it sīmd t trn rît ovr, n ɖen t stop. Ś rec̣gnîzd him.
“Gd īvnñ, Mis Beṛl,” sd ɖ vôs softli.
“W’nt y cm fr a litl wōc?” it drōld.
Cm fr a wōc—at ɖt tîm v nît! “I cd’nt. Evrbdi’z in bed. Evrbdi’z aslip.”
“Ǒ,” sd ɖ vôs lîtli, n a ẃif v swīt smoc rīćt hr. “Ẃt dz evrbdi matr? D cm! It’s sć a fîn nît. Ɖr’z nt a soul abt.”
Beṛl śc hr hed. Bt olrdi smʈñ strd in hr, smʈñ rird its hed.
Ɖ vôs sd, “Frîtnd?” It moct, “Pur litl grl!”
“Nt in ɖ līst,” sd ś. Az ś spouc ɖt wìc ʈñ wɖn hr sīmd t uncôl, t gro sudnli tṛmndsli stroñ; ś loñd t g!
N jst az f ɖs wz qt unḍstd bî ɖ uɖr, ɖ vôs sd, jntli n softli, bt fîṇli, “Cm alñ!”
Beṛl stept ovr hr lo windo, crost ɖ vranda, ran dǎn ɖ gras t ɖ get. H wz ɖr bfr hr.
“Ɖt’s rît,” briɖd ɖ vôs, n it tizd, “Y’r nt frîtnd, r y? Y’r nt frîtnd?”
Ś wz; nǎ ś wz hir ś wz teṛfaid, n it sīmd t hr evrʈñ wz difṛnt. Ɖ mūnlît stérd n glitrd; ɖ śadoz wr lîc barz v ayn. Hr hand wz tecn.
“Nt in ɖ līst,” ś sd lîtli. “Ẃ śd I b?”
Hr hand wz pld jntli, tugd. Ś hld bac.
“No, I’m nt cmñ eni farɖr,” sd Beṛl.
“Ǒ, rot!” Hari Cmbr dd’nt b’liv hr. “Cm alñ! W’l jst g az far az ɖt fyśa-bś. Cm alñ!”
Ɖ fyśa-bś wz tōl. It fél ovr ɖ fns in a śǎr. Ɖr wz a litl pit v darcnis bnʈ.
“No, riyli, I d’nt wont t,” sd Beṛl.
Fr a momnt Hari Cmbr dd’nt ansr. Ɖen h cem clos t hr, trnd t hr, smîld n sd qcli, “D’nt b sili! D’nt b sili!”
Hiz smîl wz smʈñ ś’d nvr sìn bfr. Wz h drunc? Ɖt brît, blînd, teṛfayñ smîl froz hr wɖ horr. Ẃt wz ś dwñ? Hǎ hd ś got hir? ɖ strn gardn asct hr az ɖ get pśt opn, n qc az a cat Hari Cmbr cem ʈru n snaćt hr t him.
“Cold litl devl! Cold litl devl!” sd ɖ hetfl vôs.
Bt Beṛl wz stroñ. Ś slipt, dúct, renćt fri.
“Y r vîl, vîl,” sd ś.
“Ɖen ẃ in God’z nem dd y cm?” stamrd Hari Cmbr.
Nbdi ansrd him.
A clǎd, smōl, srīn, flotd acrs ɖ mūn. In ɖt momnt v darcnis ɖ sī sǎndd dīp, trubld. Ɖen ɖ clǎd sêld awe, n ɖ sǎnd v ɖ sī wz a veg mrmr, az ɖo it wect ǎt v a darc drīm. Ol wz stil.