In Ñspel: HER FIRST BALL, by Katherine Mansfield

HR FRST BŌL

Caʈ̇rīn Mansfīld

Xacli ẃn ɖ bōl bgan Leila wd hv faund it hard t se. Phps hr frst riyl partnr wz ɖ cab. It dd nt matr ɖt ś śerd ɖ cab wɖ ɖ Śeridn grlz n ɖer bruɖr. Ś sat bac in hr ǒn litl cornr v it, n ɖ bolstr on ẃć hr hand restd flt lîc ɖ slīv v an uņoun yuñ man’z dreșūt; n awe ɖe bǒld, past wōltsñ lamp̓osts n hǎzz n fnsz n triz.

“Hv y riyli nvr bn t a bōl bfr, Leila? Bt, mî ćîld, hǎ tù wird—” craid ɖ Śeridn grlz.

“Ǎr nirist nebr wz fiftīn mîlz,” sd Leila softli, jntli oṗnñ n śutñ hr fan.

Ǒ dir, hǎ hard it wz t b indifṛnt lîc ɖ uɖrz! Ś traid nt t smîl tù mć; ś traid nt t cer. Bt evri sngl ʈñ wz so ny n xîtñ… Meg’z tyḅrozz, Jǒsi’z loñ lūp v ambr, Lora’z litl darc hed, pśñ abv hr ẃît fŕ lîc a flǎr ʈru sno. Ś wd rmembr fr evr. It īvn gev hr a pañ t si hr cuzn Lóri ʈro awe ɖ wisps v tiśupepr h pld fṛm ɖ faṣnñz v hiz ny gluvz. Ś wd lîc t hv cept ɖoz wisps az a cīpsec, az a rmembṛns. Lóri līnd fwd n pt hiz hand on Lora’z ni.

“Lc hir, darlñ,” h sd. “Ɖ ʈrd n ɖ nînʈ az yźl. Twig?”

Ǒ, hǎ marvḷs t hv a bruɖr! In hr xîtmnt Leila flt ɖt f ɖr hd bn tîm, f it hd’nt bn imposbl, ś cd’nt hv hlpt crayñ bcz ś wz an onli ćîld, n no bruɖr hd evr sd “Twig?” t hr; no sistr wd evr se, az Meg sd t Jǒsi ɖt momnt, “I’v nvr noun yr her g p mor s’xesf̣li ɖn it hz tnît!”

Bt, v cors, ɖr wz no tîm. Ɖe wr at ɖ drilhōl olrdi; ɖr wr cabz in frunt v ɖm n cabz bhnd. Ɖ rod wz brît on îɖr sîd wɖ muvñ fanlîc lîts, n on ɖ pevmnt ge cuplz sīmd t flot ʈru ɖ er; litl satin śuz ćest ć uɖr lîc brdz.

“Hold on t m, Leila; y’l gt lost,” sd Lora.

“Cm on, grlz, let’s mc a daś fr it,” sd Lóri.

Leila pt tū fngrz on Lora’z pnc velvit clǒc, n ɖe wr smhǎ liftd past ɖ big goldn lantn, carid alñ ɖ pasij, n pśt intu ɖ litl rūm marct “Lediz.” Hir ɖ crǎd wz so gret ɖr wz hardli spes t tec of ɖer ʈñz; ɖ nôz wz def̣nñ. Tū bnćz on îɖr sîd wr stact hî wɖ ráps. Tū old wimin in ẃît epṛnz ran p n dǎn tosñ freś armflz. N evrbdi wz presñ fwd trayñ t gt at ɖ litl dresñtebl n mirr at ɖ far end.

A gret qiṿrñ jet v gas lîtd ɖ lediz’ rūm. It cd’nt wêt; it wz dansñ olrdi. Ẃn ɖ dor opnd agn n ɖr cem a brst v tynñ fṛm ɖ drilhōl, it lept olmst t ɖ sīlñ.

Darc grlz, fer grlz wr patñ ɖer her, tayñ ribnz agn, tucñ hanc̣ćīfs dǎn ɖ fronts v ɖer boḍsz, smuɖñ marbl-ẃît gluvz. N bcz ɖe wr ol lafñ it sīmd t Leila ɖt ɖe wr ol luvli.

“R’nt ɖr eni inviẓbl herpinz?” craid a vôs. “Hǎ most xtrordnri! I c’nt si a sngl inviẓbl herpin.”

“Pǎdr mî bac, ɖr’z a darlñ,” craid smwn els.

“Bt I mst hv a nīdl n cotn. I’v torn simpli mîlz n mîlz v ɖ fril,” weild a ʈrd.

Ɖen, “Pas ɖm alñ, pas ɖm alñ!” Ɖ strw bascit v programz wz tóst fṛm arm t arm. Darlñ litl pnc-n-silvr programz, wɖ pnc pnslz n flufi taslz. Leila’z fngrz śc az ś tc wn ǎt v ɖ bascit. Ś wontd t asc smwn, “Am I mnt t hv wn tù?” bt ś hd jst tîm t rīd: “Wōlts 3. ‘Tū, Tū in a Cnu.’ Polca 4. ‘Mcñ ɖ Feɖrz Flî,’” ẃn Meg craid, “Redi, Leila?” n ɖe prest ɖer we ʈru ɖ cruś in ɖ pasij twdz ɖ big dubl dorz v ɖ drilhōl.

Dansñ hd nt bgun yt, bt ɖ band hd stopt tynñ, n ɖ nôz wz so gret it sīmd ɖt ẃn it dd bgin t ple it wd nvr b hŕd. Leila, presñ clos t Meg, lcñ ovr Meg’z śoldr, flt ɖt īvn ɖ litl qiṿrñ culrd flagz struñ acrs ɖ sīlñ wr tōcñ. Ś qt fgot t b śî; ś fgot hǎ in ɖ midl v dresñ ś hd sat dǎn on ɖ bed wɖ wn śu of n wn śu on n begd hr muɖr t rñ p hr cuznz n se ś cd’nt g aftr ol. N ɖ ruś v loññ ś hd hd t b sitñ on ɖ vranda v ɖer fōrsecn up-cuntri hom, liṣnñ t ɖ bebi ǎlz crayñ “Mor porc” in ɖ mūnlît, wz ćenjd t a ruś v jô so swīt ɖt it wz hard t ber alon. Ś clućt hr fan, n, gezñ at ɖ glīmñ, goldn flor, ɖ azełz, ɖ lantnz, ɖ stej at wn end wɖ its red carpit n gílt ćerz n ɖ band in a cornr, ś ʈt breʈlisli, “Hǎ hevnli; hǎ simpli hevnli!”

Ol ɖ grlz std grūpt tgɖr at wn sîd v ɖ dorz, ɖ men at ɖ uɖr, n ɖ śaṗronz in darc dresz, smîlñ rɖr fūliśli, wōct wɖ litl cerfl steps ovr ɖ poliśt flor twdz ɖ stej.

“Ɖs z mî litl cuntri cuzn Leila. B nîs t hr. Fînd hr partnrz; ś’z undr mî wñ,” sd Meg, gwñ p t wn grl aftr anɖr.

Strenj fesz smîld at Leila—swītli, vegli. Strenj vôsz ansrd, “V cors, mî dir.” Bt Leila flt ɖ grlz dd’nt riyli si hr. Ɖe wr lcñ twdz ɖ men. Ẃ dd’nt ɖ men bgin? Ẃt wr ɖe wêtñ fr? Ɖr ɖe std, smuɖñ ɖer gluvz, patñ ɖer glosi her n smîlñ amñ ɖmslvz. Ɖen, qt sudnli, az f ɖe hd onli jst md p ɖer mîndz ɖt ɖt wz ẃt ɖe hd t d, ɖ men cem glîdñ ovr ɖ parce. Ɖr wz a jôfl flutr amñ ɖ grlz. A tōl, fer man flù p t Meg, sizd hr program, scribld smʈñ; Meg pást him on t Leila. “Me I hv ɖ pleźr?” H dúct n smîld. Ɖr cem a darc man wẹrñ an îglas, ɖen cuzn Lóri wɖ a frend, n Lora wɖ a litl frecld felo huz tî wz crŭcid. Ɖen qt an old man—fat, wɖ a big bàld pać on hiz hed—tc hr program n mrmrd, “Let m si, let m si!” N h wz a loñ tîm cmperñ hiz program, ẃć lct blac wɖ nemz, wɖ hrz. It sīmd t gv him so mć trubl ɖt Leila wz aśemd. “Ǒ, plīz d’nt boɖr,” ś sd īgrli. Bt instd v rplayñ ɖ fat man rout smʈñ, glanst at hr agn. “D I rmembr ɖs brît litl fes?” h sd softli. “Z it noun t m v yor?” At ɖt momnt ɖ band bgan pleyñ; ɖ fat man dis’pird. H wz tóst awe on a gret wev v ḿzic ɖt cem flayñ ovr ɖ glīmñ flor, brecñ ɖ grūps p intu cuplz, scaṭrñ ɖm, sndñ ɖm spinñ…

Leila hd lrnt t dans at bordñscūl. Evri Saṭde afṭnun ɖ bōrdrz wr hurid of t a litl coṛgetd ayn miśnhōl ẃr Mis Eclz (v Lundn) hld hr “s’lect” clasz. Bt ɖ difṛns btwn ɖt dusti-smelñ hōl—wɖ caḷco txts on ɖ wōlz, ɖ pur teṛfaid litl wmn in a brǎn velvit tǒc wɖ rabit’s irz ʈumpñ ɖ cold piano, Mis Eclz pǒcñ ɖ grlz’ fīt wɖ hr loñ ẃît wond—n ɖs wz so tṛmnḍs ɖt Leila wz śr f hr partnr dd’nt cm n ś hd t lisn t ɖt marvḷs ḿzic n t woć ɖ uɖrz slîdñ, glîdñ ovr ɖ goldn flor, ś wd dî at līst, or fent, or lift hr armz n flî ǎt v wn v ɖoz darc windoz ɖt śoud ɖ starz.

“Ǎrz, I ʈnc—” Smwn baud, smîld, n ofrd hr hiz arm; ś hd’nt t dî aftr ol. Smwn’z hand prest hr weist, n ś flotd awe lîc a flǎr ɖt z tóst intu a pūl.

“Qt a gd flor, z’nt it?” drōld a fent vôs clos t hr ir.

“I ʈnc it’s most bytifli sliṗri,” sd Leila.

“Pardn!” Ɖ fent vôs sǎndd s’prîzd. Leila sd it agn. N ɖr wz a tîni pōz bfr ɖ vôs ecoud, “Ǒ, qt!” n ś wz swuñ rnd agn.

H stird so bytifli. Ɖt wz ɖ gret difṛns btwn dansñ wɖ grlz n men, Leila dsîdd. Grlz bañd intu ć uɖr, n stamt on ć uɖr’z fīt; ɖ grl hu wz jntlmn olwz clućt y so.

Ɖ azełz wr sepṛt flǎrz no longr; ɖe wr pnc n ẃît flagz strīmñ bî.

“Wr y at ɖ Belz’ last wīc?” ɖ vôs cem agn. It sǎndd tîrd. Leila wundrd ẃɖr ś òt t asc him f h wd lîc t stop.

“No, ɖs z mî frst dans,” sd ś.

Hr partnr gev a litl gaspñ laf. “Ǒ, I se,” h pṛtstd.

“Yes, it z riyli ɖ frst dans I’v evr bn t.” Leila wz most frvnt. It wz sć a rlif t b ebl t tel smbdi. “Y si, I’v livd in ɖ cuntri ol mî lîf p tl nǎ… ”

At ɖt momnt ɖ ḿzic stopt, n ɖe wnt t sit on tū ćerz agnst ɖ wōl. Leila tuct hr pnc satin fīt undr n fand hrslf, ẃl ś blisf̣li woćt ɖ uɖr cuplz pasñ n dis’pirñ ʈru ɖ swñdorz.

“Injoyñ yrslf, Leila?” asct Jǒsi, nodñ hr goldn hed.

Lora pást n gev hr ɖ fentist litl wnc; it md Leila wundr fr a momnt ẃɖr ś wz qt groun p aftr ol. Srtnli hr partnr dd nt se vri mć. H coft, tuct hiz hanc̣ćif awe, pld dǎn hiz weistcot, tc a minit ʈred of hiz slīv. Bt it dd’nt matr. Olmst imīɉtli ɖ band startd n hr secnd partnr sīmd t sprñ fṛm ɖ sīlñ.

“Flor’z nt bad,” sd ɖ ny vôs. Dd wn olwz bgin wɖ ɖ flor? N ɖen, “Wr y at ɖ Nīvz’ on Tyzde?” N agn Leila xplend. Phps it wz a litl strenj ɖt hr partnrz wr nt mor inṭrestd. Fr it wz ʈrilñ. Hr frst bōl! Ś wz onli at ɖ bginñ v evrʈñ. It sīmd t hr ɖt ś hd nvr noun ẃt ɖ nît wz lîc bfr. P tl nǎ it hd bn darc, sîḷnt, bytifl vri ofn—ǒ yes—bt mōrnfl smhǎ. Soḷm. N nǎ it wd nvr b lîc ɖt agn—it hd opnd daẓlñ brît.

“Cer fr an îs?” sd hr partnr. N ɖe wnt ʈru ɖ swñdorz, dǎn ɖ pasij, t ɖ supŗūm. Hr ćīcs brnd, ś wz firf̣li ʈrsti. Hǎ swīt ɖ îsz lct on litl glas plets n hǎ cold ɖ frostid spūn wz, îst tù! N ẃn ɖe cem bac t ɖ hōl ɖr wz ɖ fat man wêtñ fr hr bî ɖ dor. It gev hr qt a śoc agn t si hǎ old h wz; h òt t hv bn on ɖ stej wɖ ɖ faɖrz n muɖrz. N ẃn Leila cmperd him wɖ hr uɖr partnrz h lct śabi. Hiz weistcot wz crīst, ɖr wz a butn of hiz gluv, hiz cot lct az f it wz dusti wɖ Frenć ćōc.

“Cm alñ, litl ledi,” sd ɖ fat man. H scersli trubld t clasp hr, n ɖe muvd awe so jntli, it wz mor lîc wōcñ ɖn dansñ. Bt h sd nt a wrd abt ɖ flor. “Yr frst dans, z’nt it?” h mrmrd.

“Hǎ dd y nǒ?”

“Ā,” sd ɖ fat man, “ɖt’s ẃt it z t b old!” H ẃizd fentli az h stird hr past an ōcẉd cupl. “Y si, I’v bn dwñ ɖs cnd v ʈñ fr ɖ last ʈrti yirz.”

“Ʈrti yirz?” craid Leila. Twelv yirz bfr ś wz born!

“It hardli berz ʈncñ abt, dz it?” sd ɖ fat man glūṃli. Leila lct at hiz bàld hed, n ś flt qt sori fr him.

“I ʈnc it’s marvḷs t b stl gwñ on,” ś sd cîndli.

“Cnd litl ledi,” sd ɖ fat man, n h prest hr a litl closr, n humd a bar v ɖ wōlts. “V cors,” h sd, “y c’nt hop t last enʈñ lîc az loñ az ɖt. No-o,” sd ɖ fat man, “loñ bfr ɖt y’l b sitñ p ɖr on ɖ stej, lcñ on, in yr nîs blac velvit. N ɖz priti armz wl hv trnd intu litl śort fat wnz, n y’l bìt tîm wɖ sć a difṛnt cnd v fan—a blac boni wn.” Ɖ fat man sīmd t śudr. “N y’l smîl awe lîc ɖ pur old dirz p ɖr, n pônt t yr dōtr, n tel ɖ eldrli ledi nxt t y hǎ sm dredfl man traid t cis hr at ɖ club̦ōl. N yr hart wl ec, ec”—ɖ fat man sqizd hr closr stl, az f h riyli wz sori fr ɖt pur hart—“bcz nwn wonts t cis y nǎ. N y’l se hǎ unpleznt ɖz poliśt florz r t wōc on, hǎ denjṛs ɖe r. Ê, Madṃzél Twncltoz?” sd ɖ fat man softli.

Leila gev a lît litl laf, bt ś dd nt fīl lîc lafñ. Wz it—cd it ol b tru? It sǎndd teṛbli tru. Wz ɖs frst bōl onli ɖ bginñ v hr last bōl, aftr ol? At ɖt ɖ ḿzic sīmd t ćenj; it sǎndd sad, sad; it rouz upn a gret sai. Ǒ, hǎ qcli ʈñz ćenjd! Ẃ dd’nt hapinis last fr evr? Fr evr wz’nt a bit tù loñ.

“I wont t stop,” ś sd in a breʈlis vôs. Ɖ fat man léd hr t ɖ dor.

“No,” ś sd, “I w’nt g ǎtsd. I w’nt sit dǎn. I’l jst stand hir, ʈanc y.” Ś līnd agnst ɖ wōl, tapñ wɖ hr ft, pŭlñ p hr gluvz n trayñ t smîl. Bt dīp insd hr a litl grl ʈrù hr piṇfor ovr hr hed n sobd. Ẃ hd h spôld it ol?

“I se, y nǒ,” sd ɖ fat man, “y ms’nt tec m sirịsli, litl ledi.”

“Az f I śd!” sd Leila, tosñ hr smōl darc hed n sucñ hr underlip…

Agn ɖ cuplz p’redd. Ɖ swñdorz opnd n śut. Nǎ ny ḿzic wz gvn ǎt bî ɖ bandmastr. Bt Leila dd’nt wont t dans eni mor. Ś wontd t b hom, or sitñ on ɖ vranda liṣnñ t ɖoz bebi-ǎlz. Ẃn ś lct ʈru ɖ darc windoz at ɖ starz, ɖe hd loñ bīmz lîc wñz…

Bt prezntli a soft, mltñ, raṿśñ tyn bgan, n a yuñ man wɖ crli her baud bfr hr. Ś wd hv t dans, ǎt v p’lîtnis, untl ś cd fînd Meg. Vri stifli ś wōct intu ɖ midl; vri hōṭli ś pt hr hand on hiz slīv. Bt in wn minit, in wn trn, hr fīt glîdd, glîdd. Ɖ lîts, ɖ azełz, ɖ dresz, ɖ pnc fesz, ɖ velvit ćerz, ol bcem wn bytifl flayñ ẃīl. N ẃn hr nxt partnr bumt hr intu ɖ fat man n h sd, “Pardn,” ś smîld at him mor redịntli ɖn evr. Ś dd’nt īvn rec̣gnîz him agn.

CLASICS IN ÑSPEL

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