In Ñspel: THE DAUGHTERS OF THE LATE COLONEL, by K Mansfield

ĆAPTRZ

IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXII

Đ DŌTRZ OV Đ LÊT CRNL

Caʈ̇rīn Mansfīld

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I

Ɖ  wīc aftr wz wn v ɖ biziist wīcs v ɖer livz. Īvn ẃn ɖe wnt t bed it wz onli ɖer bodiz ɖt le dǎn n restd; ɖer mîndz wnt on, ʈncñ ʈñz ǎt, tōcñ ʈñz ovr, wunḍrñ, dsîdñ, trayñ t rmembr ẃr…

Cnstanśa le lîc a staću, hr handz bî hr sîdz, hr fīt jst oṿlapñ ć uɖr, ɖ śīt p t hr ćin. Ś stérd at ɖ sīlñ.

“D y ʈnc faɖr wd mînd f w gev hiz tophat t ɖ portr?”

“Ɖ portr?” snapt Joẓfīn. “Ẃ evr ɖ portr? Ẃt a vri xtrordnri îdīa!”

“Bcz,” sd Cnstanśa slǒli, “h mst ofn hv t g t fynṛlz. N I notist at—at ɖ seṃtri ɖt h onli hd a bolr.” Ś pōzd. “I ʈt ɖen hǎ vri mć h’d aprīśiet a tophat. W òt t gv him a preznt, tù. H wz olwz vri nîs t faɖr.”

“Bt,” craid Joẓfīn, flǎnsñ on hr pilo n stẹrñ acrs ɖ darc atCnstanśa, “faɖr’z hed!” N sudnli, fr wn ōfl momnt, ś nirli gigld. Nt, v cors, ɖt ś flt in ɖ līst lîc giġlñ. It mst hv bn habit. Yirz ago, ẃn ɖe hd steid awec at nît tōcñ, ɖer bedz hd simpli hīvd. N nǎ ɖ portr’z hed, dis’pirñ, popt ǎt, lîc a candl, undr faɖr’z hat… Ɖ gigl mǎntd, mǎntd; ś clenćt hr handz; ś fòt it dǎn; ś frǎnd firsli at ɖ darc n sd “Rmembr” teṛbli strnli.

“W cn dsîd tmoro,” ś sd.

Cnstanśa hd notist nʈñ; ś said.

“D y ʈnc w òt t hv ǎr dresñgǎns dáid az wel?”

“Blac?” olmst śrīct Joẓfīn.

“Wel, ẃt els?” sd Cnstanśa. “I wz ʈncñ—it dz’nt sīm qt snsir, in a we, t wer blac ǎt v dorz n ẃn w’r fŭli drest, n ɖen ẃn w’r at hom—”

“Bt nbdi siz s,” sd Joẓfīn. Ś gev ɖ bedcloɖz sć a twić ɖt bʈ hr fīt bcem uncuvrd, n ś hd t crīp p ɖ piloz t gt ɖm wel undr agn.

“Cet dz,” sd Cnstanśa. “N ɖ postmn vri wel mt.”

Joẓfīn ʈt v hr darc-red slipprz, ẃć maćt hr dresñgǎn, n vCnstanśa’z feṿrit indefiṇt grīn wnz ẃć wnt wɖ hrz. Blac! Tū blac dresñgǎns n tū perz v blac wŭli slipprz, crīpñ of t ɖ baʈrūm lîc blac cats.

“I d’nt ʈnc it’s abṣlutli nesṣri,” sd ś.

Sîḷns. Ɖen Cnstanśa sd, “W śl hv t post ɖ peprz wɖ ɖ notis in ɖm tmoro t cać ɖ S’lón meil… Hǎ mni letrz hv w hd p tl nǎ?”

“Twenti-ʈri.”

Joẓfīn hd rplaid t ɖm ol, n twenti-ʈri tîmz ẃn ś cem t “W mis ǎr dir faɖr so mć” ś hd brocn dǎn n hd t yz hr hanc̣ćif, n on sm v ɖm īvn t sǒc p a vri lît-blu tir wɖ an éj v blotñpepr. Strenj! Ś cd’nt hv pt it on—bt twenti-ʈri tîmz. Īvn nǎ, ɖo, ẃn ś sd ovr t hrslf sadli “W mis ǎr dir faɖr so mć,” ś cd hv craid f ś’d wontd t.

“Hv y got inuf stamps?” cem fṛm Cnstanśa.

“Ǒ, hǎ cn I tel?” sd Joẓfīn crosli. “Ẃt’s ɖ gd v ascñ m ɖt nǎ?”

“I wz jst wunḍrñ,” sd Cnstanśa mîldli.

Sîḷns agn. Ɖr cem a litl rusl, a scuri, a hóp.

“A mǎs,” sd Cnstanśa.

“It c’nt b a mǎs bcz ɖr r’nt eni crumz,” sd Joẓfīn.

“Bt it dz’nt nǒ ɖr r’nt,” sd Cnstanśa.

A spazm v piti sqizd hr hart. Pur litl ʈñ! Ś wśt ś’d left a tîni pìs v biscit on ɖ dresñtebl. It wz ōfl t ʈnc v it nt fîndñ enʈñ. Ẃt wd it d?

“I c’nt ʈnc hǎ ɖe manij t liv at ol,” ś sd slǒli.

“Hu?” dmandd Joẓfīn.

N Cnstanśa sd mor lǎdli ɖn ś mnt t, “Mîs.”

Joẓfīn wz fyrịs. “Ǒ, ẃt nonsns, Cón!” ś sd. “Ẃt hv mîs got t d wɖ it? Y’r aslip.”

“I d’nt ʈnc I am,” sd Cnstanśa. Ś śut hr îz t mc śr. Ś wz.

Joẓfīn arćt hr spîn, pld p hr niz, foldd hr armz so ɖt hr fists cem undr hr irz, n prest hr ćīc hard agnst ɖ pilo.

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II

Anɖr ʈñ ẃć compḷcetd matrz wz ɖe hd Nrs Andruz steyñ on wɖ ɖm ɖt wīc. It wz ɖer ǒn fōlt; ɖe hd asct hr. It wz Joẓfīn’z îdīa. On ɖ mornñ—wel, on ɖ last mornñ, ẃn ɖ doctr hd gn, Joẓfīn hd sd t Cnstanśa, “D’nt y ʈnc it wd b rɖr nîs f w asct Nrs Andruz t ste on fr a wīc az ǎr gest?”

“Vri nîs,” sd Cnstanśa.

“I ʈt,” wnt on Joẓfīn qcli, “I śd jst se ɖs afṭnun, aftr I’v peid hr, ‘Mî sistr n I wd b vri plizd, aftr ol y’v dn fr s, Nrs Andruz, f y wd ste on fr a wīc az ǎr gest.’ I’d hv t pt ɖt in abt biyñ ǎr gest in ces—”

“Ǒ, bt ś cd hardli xpct t b peid!” craid Cnstanśa.

“Wn nvr nz,” sd Joẓfīn sejli.

Nrs Andruz hd, v cors, jumt at ɖ îdīa. Bt it wz a boɖr. It mnt ɖe hd t hv reğlr sit-dǎn mīlz at ɖ propr tîmz, ẃr-az f ɖ’d bn alon ɖe cd jst hv asct Cet f ś wd’nt hv mîndd brññ ɖm a tre ẃrvr ɖe wr. N mīltîmz nǎ ɖt ɖ stren wz ovr wr rɖr a trîl.

Nrs Andruz wz simpli firfl abt butr. Riyli ɖe cd’nt hlp fīlñ ɖt abt butr, at līst, ś tc advantij v ɖer cîndnis. N ś hd ɖt maḍnñ habit v ascñ fr jst an inć mor v bred t finiś ẃt ś hd on hr plet, n ɖen, at ɖ last mǎʈfl, absnt-mîndidli—v cors it wz’nt absnt-mîndidli—tecñ anɖr hlpñ. Joẓfīn got vri red ẃn ɖs hapnd, n ś fasnd hr smōl, bīdlîc îz on ɖ teblcloʈ az f ś sw a mînyt strenj insect crīpñ ʈru ɖ web v it. Bt Cnstanśa’z loñ, pel fes leñʈnd n set, n ś gezd awe—awe—far ovr ɖ deẓt, t ẃr ɖt lîn v camlz unwaund lîc a ʈred v wŭl…

“Ẃn I wz wɖ Ledi Tycs,” sd Nrs Andruz, “ś hd sć a denti litl cntrevns fr ɖ butā. It wz a silvā Kpid baḷnst on ɖ—on ɖ bordā v a glas diś, holdñ a têni forc. N ẃn y wontd sm butā y simpli prest hiz ft n h bnt dǎn n spird y a pìs. It wz qt a gem.”

Joẓfīn cd hardli ber ɖt. Bt “I ʈnc ɖoz ʈñz r vri xtraṿgnt” wz ol ś sd.

“Bt ẃe?” asct Nrs Andruz, bīmñ ʈru hr îglasz. “Nwn, śrli, wd tec mor butā ɖn wn wontd—wd wn?”

“Rñ, Cón,” craid Joẓfīn. Ś cd’nt trust hrslf t rplî.

N prǎd yuñ Cet, ɖ inćantd prinses, cem in t si ẃt ɖ old tabiz wontd nǎ. Ś snaćt awe ɖer plets v moc smʈñ or uɖr n slapt dǎn a ẃît, teṛfaid bḷmonź.

“Jam, plīz, Cet,” sd Joẓfīn cîndli.

Cet nlt n brst opn ɖ sîdbōrd, liftd ɖ lid v ɖ jampot, sw it wz emti, pt it on ɖ tebl, n stōct of.

“I’m afreid,” sd Nrs Andruz a momnt lêtr, “ɖr z’nt eni.”

“Ǒ, ẃt a boɖr!” sd Joẓfīn. Ś bit hr lip. “Ẃt hd w betr d?”

Cnstanśa lct dybịs. “W c’nt dstrb Cet agn,” ś sd softli.

Nrs Andruz wêtd, smîlñ at ɖm bʈ. Hr îz wondrd, spayñ at evrʈñ bhnd hr îglasz. Cnstanśa in dsper wnt bac t hr camlz. Joẓfīn frǎnd heṿli—consntretd. F it hd’nt bn fr ɖs idiotic wmn ś n Cón wd, v cors, hv ītn ɖer bḷmonẓ́ wɖt. Sudnli ɖ îdīa cem.

“I nǒ,” ś sd. “Marṃled. Ɖr’z sm marṃled in ɖ sîdbōrd. Gt it, Cón.”

“I hop,” laft Nrs Andruz—n hr laf wz lîc a spūn tnc̣lñ agnst a meḍsinglas—“I hop it’s nt vri bitā marṃled.”

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III

Bt, aftr ol, it wz nt loñ nǎ, n ɖen ś’d b gn fr gd. N ɖr wz no gtñ ovr ɖ fact ɖt ś hd bn vri cnd t faɖr. Ś hd nrst him de n nît at ɖ end. Indd, bʈ Cnstanśa n Joẓfīn flt prîṿtli ś hd rɖr oṿdn ɖ nt līvñ him at ɖ vri last. Fr ẃn ɖe hd gn in t se gdbî Nrs Andruz hd sat bsd hiz bed ɖ hol tîm, holdñ hiz rist n pritndñ t lc at hr woć. It cd’nt hv bn nesṣri. It wz so tactlis, tù. S’pozñ faɖr hd wontd t se smʈñ—smʈñ prîṿt t ɖm. Nt ɖt h hd. Ǒ, far fṛm it! H le ɖr, prpl, a darc, angri prpl in ɖ fes, n nvr īvn lct at ɖm ẃn ɖe cem in. Ɖen, az ɖe wr standñ ɖr, wunḍrñ ẃt t d, h hd sudnli opnd wn î. Ǒ, ẃt a difṛns it wd hv md, ẃt a difṛns t ɖer meṃri v him, hǎ mć īzịr t tel ppl abt it, f h hd onli opnd bʈ! Bt no—wn î onli. It glerd at ɖm a momnt n ɖen… wnt ǎt.

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IV

It hd md it vri ōcẉd fr ɖm ẃn Mr. Farolz, v St. Jon’z, cōld ɖ sem afṭnun.

“Ɖ end wz qt pīsfl, I trust?” wr ɖ frst wrdz h sd az h glîdd twdz ɖm ʈru ɖ darc drw̃rūm.

“Qt,” sd Joẓfīn fentli. Ɖe bʈ huñ ɖer hedz. Bʈ v ɖm flt srtn ɖt î wz’nt at ol a pīsfl î.

“W’nt y sit dǎn?” sd Joẓfīn.

“Ʈanc y, Mis Pinr,” sd Mr. Farolz gretf̣li. H foldd hiz coțeilz n bgan t lowr himslf intu faɖr’z armćer, bt jst az h tućt it h olmst sprañ p n slid intu ɖ nxt ćer instd.

H coft. Joẓfīn claspt hr handz; Cnstanśa lct veg.

“I wont y t fīl, Mis Pinr,” sd Mr. Farolz, “n y, Mis Cnstanśa, ɖt I’m trayñ t b hlpfl. I wont t b hlpfl t y bʈ, f y wl let m. Ɖz r ɖ tîmz,” sd Mr. Farolz, vri simpli n rṇstli, “ẃn God mīnz s t b hlpfl t wn anɖr.”

“Ʈanc y vri mć, Mr. Farolz,” sd Joẓfīn n Cnstanśa.

“Nt at ol,” sd Mr. Farolz jntli. H drù hiz cid gluvz ʈru hiz fngrz n līnd fwd. “N f îɖr v y wd lîc a litl Cḿńn, îɖr or bʈ v y, hir n nǎ, y hv onli t tel m. A litl Cḿńn z ofn vri hlp—a gret cumf̣t,” h add tndrli.

Bt ɖ îdīa v a litl Cḿńn teṛfaid ɖm. Ẃt! In ɖ drw̃rūm bî ɖmslvz—wɖ no—no ōltr or enʈñ! Ɖ piano wd b mć tù hî, ʈt Cnstanśa, n Mr. Farolz cd nt poṣbli līn ovr it wɖ ɖ ćalis. N Cet wd b śr t cm brstñ in n inṭrupt ɖm, ʈt Joẓfīn. N s’pozñ ɖ bel rañ in ɖ midl? It mt b smbdi importnt—abt ɖer mōrnñ. Wd ɖe gt p revṛntli n g ǎt, or wd ɖe hv t wêt… in torćr?

“Phps y wl snd rnd a not bî yr gd Cet f y wd cer fr it lêtr,” sd Mr. Farolz.

“Ǒ yes, ʈanc y vri mć!” ɖe bʈ sd.

Mr. Farolz got p n tc hiz blac strw hat fṛm ɖ rǎnd tebl.

“N abt ɖ fynṛl,” h sd softli. “I me arenj ɖt—az yr dir faɖr’z old frend n yrz, Mis Pinr—n Mis Cnstanśa?”

Joẓfīn n Cnstanśa got p tù.

“I śd lîc it t b qt simpl,” sd Joẓfīn frmli, “n nt tù xpnsiv. At ɖ sem tîm, I śd lîc—”

“A gd wn ɖt wl last,” ʈt drīmi Cnstanśa, az f Joẓfīn wr bayñ a nîtgǎn. Bt, v cors, Joẓfīn dd’nt se ɖt. “Wn sūṭbl t ǎr faɖr’z pziśn.” Ś wz vri nrṿs.

“I’l run rnd t ǎr gd frend Mr. Nait,” sd Mr. Farolz suɖñli. “I wl asc him t cm n si y. I am śr y wl fînd him vri hlpfl indd.”

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V

Wel, at eni ret, ol ɖt part v it wz ovr, ɖo nɖr v ɖm cd poṣbli b’liv ɖt faɖr wz nvr cmñ bac. Joẓfīn hd hd a momnt v abṣlut terr at ɖ seṃtri, ẃl ɖ cofin wz lowrd, t ʈnc ɖt ś n Cnstanśa hd dn ɖs ʈñ wɖt ascñ hiz pmiśn. Ẃt wd faɖr se ẃn h faund ǎt? Fr h wz baund t fînd ǎt snr or lêtr. H olwz dd. “Berid. Y tū grlz hd m berid!” Ś hŕd hiz stic ʈumpñ. Ǒ, ẃt wd ɖe se? Ẃt poṣbl xks cd ɖe mc? It sǎndd sć an apōlñli hartlis ʈñ t d. Sć a wicid advantij t tec v a prsn bcz h hapnd t b hlplis at ɖ momnt. Ɖ uɖr ppl sīmd t trīt it ol az a matr v cors. Ɖe wr strenjrz; ɖe cd’nt b xpctd t unḍstand ɖt faɖr wz ɖ vri last prsn fr sć a ʈñ t hapn t. No, ɖ intîr blem fr it ol wd fōl on hr n Cnstanśa. N ɖ xpns, ś ʈt, stepñ intu ɖ tît-butnd cab. Ẃn ś hd t śo him ɖ bílz. Ẃt wd h se ɖen?

Ś hŕd him abṣlutli rorñ. “N d y xpct m t pe fr ɖs jimcrac xcrśn v yrz?”

“Ǒ,” grond pur Joẓfīn alǎd, “w śd’nt hv dn it, Cón!”

N Cnstanśa, pel az a lemn in ol ɖt blacnis, sd in a frîtnd ẃispr, “Dn ẃt, Jug?”

“Let ɖm b-beri faɖr lîc ɖt,” sd Joẓfīn, brecñ dǎn n crayñ intu hr ny, qir-smelñ mōrnñhanc̣ćif.

“Bt ẃt els cd w hv dn?” asct Cnstanśa wundrñli. “W cd’nt hv cept him, Jug—w cd’nt hv cept him unberid. At eni ret, nt in a flat ɖt sîz.”

Joẓfīn blù hr nǒz; ɖ cab wz dredf̣li stufi.

“I d’nt nǒ,” ś sd f’lornli. “It z ol so dredfl. I fīl w òt t hv traid t, jst fr a tîm at līst. T mc prf̣cli śr. Wn ʈñ’z srtn”—n hr tirz sprañ ǎt agn—“faɖr wl nvr fgiv s fr ɖs—nvr!”

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VI

Faɖr wd nvr fgiv ɖm. Ɖt wz ẃt ɖe flt mor ɖn evr ẃn, tū mornñz lêtr, ɖe wnt intu hiz rūm t g ʈru hiz ʈñz. Ɖe hd dscust it qt cāmli. It wz īvn dǎn on Joẓfīn’z list v ʈñz t b dn. “G ʈru faɖr’z ʈñz n setl abt ɖm.” Bt ɖt wz a vri difṛnt matr fṛm seyñ aftr brecfst:

“Wel, r y redi, Cón?”

“Yes, Jug—ẃn y r.”

“Ɖen I ʈnc w’d betr gt it ovr.”

It wz darc in ɖ hōl. It hd bn a rūl fr yirz nvr t dstrb faɖr in ɖ mornñ, ẃtvr hapnd. N nǎ ɖe wr gwñ t opn ɖ dor wɖt nocñ īvn… Cnstanśa’z îz wr inorṃs at ɖ îdīa; Joẓfīn flt wìc in ɖ niz.

“Y—y g frst,” ś gaspt, pśñ Cnstanśa.

Bt Cnstanśa sd, az ś olwz hd sd on ɖoz oceẓ́nz, “No, Jug, ɖt’s nt fer. Y’r ɖ eldist.”

Joẓfīn wz jst gwñ t se—ẃt at uɖr tîmz ś wd’nt hv ǒnd t fr ɖ wrld—ẃt ś cept fr hr vri last wepn, “Bt y’r ɖ tōlist,” ẃn ɖe notist ɖt ɖ cićndor wz opn, n ɖr std Cet…

“Vri stif,” sd Joẓfīn, graspñ ɖ dorhandl n dwñ hr bst t trn it. Az f enʈñ evr dsivd Cet!

It cd’nt b hlpt. Ɖt grl wz… Ɖen ɖ dor wz śut bhnd ɖm, bt—bt ɖe wr’nt in faɖr’z rūm at ol. Ɖe mt hv sudnli wōct ʈru ɖ wōl bî mstec intu a difṛnt flat oltgɖr. Wz ɖ dor jst bhnd ɖm? Ɖe wr tù frîtnd t lc. Joẓfīn ń ɖt f it wz it wz holdñ itslf tît śut; Cnstanśa flt ɖt, lîc ɖ dorz in drīmz, it hd’nt eni handl at ol. It wz ɖ coldnis ẃć md it so ōfl. Or ɖ ẃîtnis—ẃć? Evrʈñ wz cuvrd. Ɖ blîndz wr dǎn, a cloʈ huñ ovr ɖ mirr, a śīt hid ɖ bed; a hyj fan v ẃît pepr fild ɖ fîrples. Cnstanśa timidli pt ǎt hr hand; ś olmst xpctd a snǒflec t fōl. Joẓfīn flt a qir tnġlñ in hr nǒz, az f hr nǒz wz frizñ. Ɖen a cab clop-clopt ovr ɖ coblz b’lo, n ɖ qayt sīmd t śec intu litl pìsz.

“I hd betr pl p a blînd,” sd Joẓfīn brevli.

“Yes, it mt b a gd îdīa,” ẃisprd Cnstanśa.

Ɖe onli gev ɖ blînd a tuć, bt it flù p n ɖ cord flù aftr, rolñ rnd ɖ blîndstic, n ɖ litl tasl tapt az f trayñ t gt fri. Ɖt wz tù mć fr Cnstanśa.

“D’nt y ʈnc—d’nt y ʈnc w mt pt it of fr anɖr de?” ś ẃisprd.

“Ẃ?” snapt Joẓfīn, fīlñ, az yẓ́l, mć betr nǎ ɖt ś ń fr srtn ɖt Cnstanśa wz teṛfaid. “It’s got t b dn. Bt I d wś y wd’nt ẃispr, Cón.”

“I dd’nt nǒ I wz ẃisṗrñ,” ẃisprd Cnstanśa.

“N ẃ d y cīp stẹrñ at ɖ bed?” sd Joẓfīn, rezñ hr vôs olmst dfayntli. “Ɖr’z nʈñ on ɖ bed.”

“Ǒ, Jug, d’nt se so!” sd pur Cóni. “At eni ret, nt so lǎdli.”

Joẓfīn flt hrslf ɖt ś hd gn tù far. Ś tc a wîd swrv ovr t ɖ ćst v drorz, pt ǎt hr hand, bt qcli drù it bac agn.

“Cóni!” ś gaspt, n ś ẃīld rnd n līnd wɖ hr bac agnst ɖ ćst v drorz.

“Ǒ, Jug—ẃt?”

Joẓfīn cd onli gler. Ś hd ɖ most xtrordnri fīlñ ɖt ś hd jst iscept smʈñ simpli ōfl. Bt hǎ cd ś xplen t Cnstanśa ɖt faɖr wz in ɖ ćst v drorz? H wz in ɖ top dror wɖ hiz hanc̣ćīfs n nectîz, or in ɖ nxt wɖ hiz śrts n pjamaz, or in ɖ lǒist v ol wɖ hiz sūts. H wz woćñ ɖr, hidn awe—jst bhnd ɖ dorhandl—redi t sprñ.

Ś pld a funi old-faśnd fes at Cnstanśa, jst az ś yst t in ɖ old dez ẃn ś wz gwñ t crî.

“I c’nt opn,” ś nirli weild.

“No, d’nt, Jug,” ẃisprd Cnstanśa rṇstli. “It’s mć betr nt t. D’nt let’s opn enʈñ. At eni ret, nt fr a loñ tîm.”

“Bt—bt it sīmz so wìc,” sd Joẓfīn, brecñ dǎn.

“Bt ẃ nt b wìc fr wns, Jug?” argyd Cnstanśa, ẃisṗrñ qt firsli. “F it z wìc.” N hr pel stér flù fṛm ɖ loct raitñtebl—so sef—t ɖ hyj gliṭrñ wordrob, n ś bgan t briɖ in a qir, pantñ we. “Ẃ śd’nt w b wìc fr wns in ǎr lîvz, Jug? It’s qt xkẓbl. Let’s b wìc—b wìc, Jug. It’s mć nîsr t b wìc ɖn t b stroñ.”

N ɖen ś dd wn v ɖoz amezñli bold ʈñz ɖt ś’d dn abt twîs bfr in ɖer lîvz: ś marćt ovr t ɖ wordrob, trnd ɖ ci, n tc it ǎt v ɖ loc. Tc it ǎt v ɖ loc n hld it p t Joẓfīn, śowñ Joẓfīn bî hr xtrordnri smîl ɖt ś ń ẃt ś’d dn—ś’d risct dlibṛtli faɖr biyñ in ɖr amñ hiz oṿcots.

F ɖ hyj wordrob hd lrćt fwd, hd craśt dǎn on Cnstanśa, Joẓfīn wd’nt hv bn s’prîzd. On ɖ contrri, ś wd hv ʈt it ɖ onli sūṭbl ʈñ t hapn. Bt nʈñ hapnd. Onli ɖ rūm sīmd qaytr ɖn evr, n ɖ bigr flecs v cold er fél on Joẓfīn’z śoldrz n niz. Ś bgan t śivr.

“Cm, Jug,” sd Cnstanśa, stl wɖ ɖt ōfl caḷs smîl, n Joẓfīn foloud jst az ś hd ɖt last tîm, ẃn Cnstanśa hd pśt Beni intu ɖ rǎnd pond.

___

VII

Bt ɖ stren tld on ɖm ẃn ɖe wr bac in ɖ dînñrūm. Ɖe sat dǎn, vri śeci, n lct at ć uɖr.

“I d’nt fīl I cn setl t enʈñ,” sd Joẓfīn, “untl I’v hd smʈñ. D y ʈnc w cd asc Cet fr tū cups v hot wōtr?”

“I riyli d’nt si ẃ w śd’nt,” sd Cnstanśa cerf̣li. Ś wz qt norml agn. “I w’nt rñ. I’l g t ɖ cićndor n asc hr.”

“Yes, d,” sd Joẓfīn, sncñ dǎn intu a ćer. “Tel hr, jst tū cups, Cón, nʈñ els—on a tre.”

“Ś nīd’nt īvn pt ɖ jug on, nīd ś?” sd Cnstanśa, az ɖo Cet mt vri wel cmplen f ɖ jug hd bn ɖr.

“Ǒ no, srtnli nt! Ɖ jug’z nt at ol nesṣri. Ś cn por it d’rect ǎt v ɖ cetl,” craid Joẓfīn, fīlñ ɖt wd b a lebr-sevñ indd.

Ɖer cold lips qivrd at ɖ grīniś brimz. Joẓfīn crvd hr smōl red handz rnd ɖ cup; Cnstanśa sat p n blù on ɖ wevi stīm, mcñ it flutr fṛm wn sîd t ɖ uɖr.

“Spīcñ v Beni,” sd Joẓfīn.

N ɖo Beni hd’nt bn mnśnd Cnstanśa imīɉtli lct az ɖo h hd.

“H’l xpct s t snd him smʈñ v faɖr’z, v cors. Bt it’s so dificlt t nǒ ẃt t snd t S’lón.”

“Y mīn ʈñz gt unstuc so on ɖ vôij,” mrmrd Cnstanśa.

“No, lost,” sd Joẓfīn śarpli. “Y nǒ ɖr’z no post. Onli runrz.”

Bʈ pōzd t woć a blac man in ẃît linn drorz runñ ʈru ɖ pel fīldz fr dir lîf, wɖ a larj brǎn-pepr parsl in hiz handz. Joẓfīn’z blac man wz tîni; h scurid alñ gliṣnñ lîc an ant. Bt ɖr wz smʈñ blînd n tîrlis abt Cnstanśa’z tōl, ʈin felo, ẃć md him, ś dsîdd, a vri unpleznt prsn indd… On ɖ vranda, drest ol in ẃît n wẹrñ a corc helmit, std Beni. Hiz rît hand śc p n dǎn, az faɖr’z dd ẃn h wz impeśnt. N bhnd him, nt in ɖ līst inṭrestd, sat Hilda, ɖ uņoun sistr-in-lw. Ś swuñ in a cen rocr n flict ovr ɖ līvz v ɖ Tatlr.

“I ʈnc hiz woć wd b ɖ most sūṭbl preznt,” sd Joẓfīn.

Cnstanśa lct p; ś sīmd s’prîzd.

“Ǒ, wd y trust a gold woć t a netiv?”

“Bt v cors, I’d dsgîz it,” sd Joẓfīn. “Nwn wd nǒ it wz a woć.” Ś lîct ɖ îdīa v hvñ t mc a parsl sć a krịs śep ɖt nwn cd poṣbli ges ẃt it wz. Ś īvn ʈt fr a momnt v hîdñ ɖ woć in a naro cardbōrd corsitbox ɖt ś’d cept bî hr fr a loñ tîm, wêtñ fr it t cm in fr smʈñ. It wz sć bytifl, frm cardbōrd. Bt, no, it wd’nt b aproprịt fr ɖs oceẓ́n. It hd leṭrñ on it: Mīdịm Wimin’z 28. Xtra Frm Buscs. It wd b olmst tù mć v a s’prîz fr Beni t opn ɖt n fînd faɖr’z woć insd.

“N v cors it z’nt az ɖo it wd b gwñ—ticñ, I mīn,” sd Cnstanśa, hu wz stl ʈncñ v ɖ netiv luv v juwlri. “At līst,” ś add, “it wd b vri strenj f aftr ol ɖt tîm it wz.”

___

VIII

Joẓfīn md no rplî. Ś hd floun of on wn v hr tanjnts. Ś hd sudnli ʈt v Siril. Wz’nt it mor yẓ́l fr ɖ onli gransun t hv ɖ woć? N ɖen dir Siril wz so aprīṣ́tiv, n a gold woć mnt so mć t a yuñ man. Beni, in ol probbiḷti, hd qt got ǎt v ɖ habit v woćz; men so sldm wòr weistcots in ɖoz hot clîṃts. Ẃr-az Siril in Lundn wòr ɖm fṛm yir’z end t yir’z end. N it wd b so nîs fr hr n Cnstanśa, ẃn h cem t ti, t nǒ it wz ɖr. “I si y’v got on granfaɖr’z woć, Siril.” It wd b smhǎ so saṭsfactri.

Dir bô! Ẃt a blo hiz swīt, simṗʈetic litl not hd bn! V cors ɖe qt unḍstd; bt it wz most unforćṇt.

“It wd hv bn sć a pônt, hvñ him,” sd Joẓfīn.

“N h wd hv injoid it so,” sd Cnstanśa, nt ʈncñ ẃt ś wz seyñ.

Hvr, az sn az h got bac h wz cmñ t ti wɖ hiz āntiz. Siril t ti wz wn v ɖer rer trīts.

“Nǎ, Siril, y ms’nt b frîtnd v ǎr cecs. Yr Ānti Cón n I bòt ɖm at Buẓd’z ɖs mornñ. W nǒ ẃt a man’z aṗtît z. So d’nt b aśemd v mcñ a gd ti.”

Joẓfīn cut reclisli intu ɖ rić darc cec ɖt std fr hr wintrgluvz or ɖ soling n hìlñ v Cnstanśa’z onli rspctbl śuz. Bt Siril wz most unmanlîc in aṗtît.

“I se, Ānt Joẓfīn, I simpli c’nt. I’v onli jst hd lunć, y nǒ.”

“Ǒ, Siril, ɖt c’nt b tru! It’s aftr for,” craid Joẓfīn. Cnstanśa sat wɖ hr nîf pôzd ovr ɖ ćocḷtrol.

“It z, ol ɖ sem,” sd Siril. “I hd t mīt a man at Victoria, n h cept m haññ abt tl… ɖr wz onli tîm t gt lunć n t cm on hir. N h gev m—fȳ”—Siril pt hiz hand t hiz fōrhed—“a t’rific blo-ǎt,” h sd.

It wz dis’pôntñ—tde v ol dez. Bt stl h cd’nt b xpctd t nǒ.

“Bt y’l hv a mrañ, w’nt y, Siril?” sd Ānt Joẓfīn. “Ɖz mrañz wr bòt speśli fr y. Yr dir faɖr wz so fond v ɖm. W wr śr y r, tù.”

“I am, Ānt Joẓfīn,” craid Siril ardntli. “D y mînd f I tec haf t bgin wɖ?”

“Nt at ol, dir bô; bt w ms’nt let y of wɖ ɖt.”

“Z yr dir faɖr stl so fond v mrañz?” asct Ānti Cón jntli. Ś winst fentli az ś brouc ʈru ɖ śel v hrz.

“Wel, I d’nt qt nǒ, Ānti Cón,” sd Siril brīẓli.

At ɖt ɖe bʈ lct p.

“D’nt nǒ?” olmst snapt Joẓfīn. “D’nt nǒ a ʈñ lîc ɖt abt yr ǒn faɖr, Siril?”

“Śrli,” sd Ānti Cón softli.

Siril traid t laf it of. “Ǒ, wel,” h sd, “it’s sć a loñ tîm sins—” H fōltrd. H stopt. Ɖer fesz wr tù mć fr him.

“Īvn so,” sd Joẓfīn.

N Ānti Cón lct.

Siril pt dǎn hiz tīcup. “Wêt a bit,” h craid. “Wêt a bit, Ānt Joẓfīn. Ẃt am I ʈncñ v?”

H lct p. Ɖe wr bginñ t brîtn. Siril slapt hiz ni.

“V cors,” h sd, “it wz mrañz. Hǎ cd I hv fgotn? Yes, Ānt Joẓfīn, y’r prf̣cli rît. Faɖr’z most frîtf̣li cīn on mrañz.”

Ɖe dd’nt onli bīm. Ānt Joẓfīn wnt scarlit wɖ pleẓ́r; Ānti Cón gev a dīp, dīp sai.

“N nǎ, Siril, y mst cm n si faɖr,” sd Joẓfīn. “H nz y wr cmñ tde.”

“Rît,” sd Siril, vri frmli n harṭli. H got p fṛm hiz ćer; sudnli h glanst at ɖ cloc.

“I se, Ānti Cón, z’nt yr cloc a bit slo? I’v got t mīt a man at—at Padñtn jst aftr fîv. I’m afreid I ś’nt b ebl t ste vri loñ wɖ granfaɖr.”

“Ǒ, h w’nt xpct y t ste vri loñ!” sd Ānt Joẓfīn.

Cnstanśa wz stl gezñ at ɖ cloc. Ś cd’nt mc p hr mînd f it wz fast or slo. It wz wn or ɖ uɖr, ś flt olmst srtn v ɖt. At eni ret, it hd bn.

Siril stl lingrd. “R’nt y cmñ alñ, Ānti Cón?”

“V cors,” sd Joẓfīn, “w śl ol g. Cm on, Cón.”

___

IX

Ɖe noct at ɖ dor, n Siril foloud hiz ānts intu granfaɖr’z hot, swītiś rūm.

“Cm on,” sd Granfaɖr Pinr. “D’nt hañ abt. Ẃt z it? Ẃt’v y bn p t?”

H wz sitñ in frunt v a rorñ fîr, claspñ hiz stic. H hd a ʈic rug ovr hiz niz. On hiz lap ɖr le a bytifl pel yelo silc hanc̣ćif.

“It’s Siril, faɖr,” sd Joẓfīn śîli. N ś tc Siril’z hand n léd him fwd.

“Gd afṭnun, granfaɖr,” sd Siril, trayñ t tec hiz hand ǎt v Ānt Joẓfīn’z. Granfaɖr Pinr śot hiz îz at Siril in ɖ we h wz feṃs fr. Ẃr wz Ānti Cón? Ś std on ɖ uɖr sîd v Ānt Joẓfīn; hr loñ armz huñ dǎn in frunt v hr; hr handz wr claspt. Ś nvr tc hr îz of granfaɖr.

“Wel,” sd Granfaɖr Pinr, bginñ t ʈump, “ẃt hv y got t tel m?”

Ẃt hd h, ẃt hd h got t tel him? Siril flt himslf smîlñ lîc a prfict imḅsil. Ɖ rūm wz stîf̣lñ, tù.

Bt Ānt Joẓfīn cem t hiz rescy. Ś craid brîtli, “Siril sz hiz faɖr z stl vri fond v mrañz, faɖr dir.”

“Ê?” sd Granfaɖr Pinr, crvñ hiz hand lîc a prpl mrañśel ovr wn ir.

Joẓfīn rpitd, “Siril sz hiz faɖr z stl vri fond v mrañz.”

“C’nt hír,” sd old Crnl Pinr. N h wevd Joẓfīn awe wɖ hiz stic, ɖen pôntd wɖ hiz stic t Siril. “Tel m ẃt Ś’z trayñ t se,” h sd.

(Mî God!) “Mst I?” sd Siril, bluśñ n stẹrñ at Ānt Joẓfīn.

“D, dir,” ś smîld. “It wl plīz him so mć.”

“Cm on, ǎt wɖ it!” craid Crnl Pinr tsṭli, bginñ t ʈump agn.

N Siril līnd fwd n yeld, “Faɖr’z stl vri fond v mrañz.”

At ɖt Granfaɖr Pinr jumt az ɖo h hd bn śot.

“D’nt śǎt!” h craid. “Ẃt’s ɖ matr wɖ ɖ bô? Mrañz! Ẃt abt ’m?”

“Ǒ, Ānt Joẓfīn, mst w g on?” grond Siril despṛtli.

“It’s qt ol rît, dir bô,” sd Ānt Joẓfīn, az ɖo h n ś wr at ɖ dntist’s tgɖr. “H’l unḍstand in a minit.” N ś ẃisprd t Siril, “H’z gtñ a bit def, y nǒ.” Ɖen ś līnd fwd n riyli bȍld at Granfaɖr Pinr, “Siril onli wontd t tel y, faɖr dir, ɖt hiz faɖr z stl vri fond v mrañz.”

Crnl Pinr hŕd ɖt tîm, hŕd n brūdd, lcñ Siril p n dǎn.

“Ẃt an estrordnri ʈñ!” sd old Granfaɖr Pinr. “Ẃt an estrordnri ʈñ t cm ol ɖs we hir t tel m!”

N Siril flt it wz.

“Yes, I śl snd Siril ɖ woć,” sd Joẓfīn.

“Ɖt wd b vri nîs,” sd Cnstanśa. “I sīm t rmembr last tîm h cem ɖr wz sm litl trubl abt ɖ tîm.”

___

X

Ɖe wr inṭruptd bî Cet brstñ ʈru ɖ dor in hr yẓ́l faśn, az ɖo ś hd dscuvrd sm sīcrit panl in ɖ wōl.

“Fraid or bôld?” asct ɖ bold vôs.

Fraid or bôld? Joẓfīn n Cnstanśa wr qt bwildrd fr ɖ momnt. Ɖe cd hardli tec it in.

“Fraid or bôld ẃt, Cet?” asct Joẓfīn, trayñ t bgin t consntret.

Cet gev a lǎd snif. “Fiś.”

“Wel, ẃ dd’nt y se so imīɉtli?” Joẓfīn rproćt hr jntli. “Hǎ cd y xpct s t unḍstand, Cet? Ɖr r a gret mni ʈñz in ɖs wrld y nǒ, ẃć r fraid or bôld.” N aftr sć a dsple v curij ś sd qt brîtli t Cnstanśa, “Ẃć d y prifŕ, Cón?”

“I ʈnc it mt b nîs t hv it fraid,” sd Cnstanśa. “On ɖ uɖr hand, v cors, bôld fiś z vri nîs. I ʈnc I prifŕ bʈ īqli wel… Unls y… In ɖt ces—”

“I śl frî it,” sd Cet, n ś bǎnst bac, līvñ ɖer dor opn n slamñ ɖ dor v hr cićn.

Joẓfīn gezd at Cnstanśa; ś rezd hr pel îbrǎz untl ɖe ripld awe intu hr pel her. Ś got p. Ś sd in a vri lofti, impozñ we, “D y mînd folowñ m intu ɖ drw̃rūm, Cnstanśa? I’v got smʈñ v gret importns t dscus wɖ y.”

Fr it wz olwz t ɖ drw̃rūm ɖe rtîrd ẃn ɖe wontd t tōc ovr Cet.

Joẓfīn clozd ɖ dor mīnñli. “Sit dǎn, Cnstanśa,” ś sd, stl vri grand. Ś mt hv bn rsivñ Cnstanśa fr ɖ frst tîm. N Cón lct rnd vegli fr a ćer, az ɖo ś flt indd qt a strenjr.

“Nǎ ɖ qsćn z,” sd Joẓfīn, bndñ fwd, “ẃɖr w śl cīp hr or nt.”

“Ɖt z ɖ qsćn,” agrìd Cnstanśa.

“N ɖs tîm,” sd Joẓfīn frmli, “w mst cm t a defiṇt dsiẓ́n.”

Cnstanśa lct fr a momnt az ɖo ś mt bgin gwñ ovr ol ɖ uɖr tîmz, bt ś pld hrslf tgɖr n sd, “Yes, Jug.”

“Y si, Cón,” xplend Joẓfīn, “evrʈñ z so ćenjd nǎ.” Cnstanśa lct p qcli. “I mīn,” wnt on Joẓfīn, “w’r nt dpndnt on Cet az w wr.” N ś bluśt fentli. “Ɖr’z nt faɖr t cc fr.”

“Ɖt z prf̣cli tru,” agrìd Cnstanśa. “Faɖr srtnli dz’nt wont eni ccñ nǎ, ẃtvr els—”

Joẓfīn brouc in śarpli, “Y’r nt slīpi, r y, Cón?”

“Slīpi, Jug?” Cnstanśa wz wîd-aid.

“Wel, consntret mor,” sd Joẓfīn śarpli, n ś rtrnd t ɖ subjict. “Ẃt it cmz t z, f w dd”—n ɖs ś bérli briɖd, glansñ at ɖ dor—“gv Cet notis”—ś rezd hr vôs agn—“w cd manij ǎr ǒn fūd.”

“Ẃ nt?” craid Cnstanśa. Ś cd’nt hlp smîlñ. Ɖ îdīa wz so xîtñ. Ś claspt hr handz. “Ẃt śd w liv on, Jug?”

“Ǒ, egz in verịs formz!” sd Jug, lofti agn. “N, bsdz, ɖr r ol ɖ cct fūdz.”

“Bt I’v olwz hŕd,” sd Cnstanśa, “ɖe r cnsidrd so vri xpnsiv.”

“Nt f wn baiz ɖm in moḍreśn,” sd Joẓfīn. Bt ś tòr hrslf awe fṛm ɖs faṣnetñ bîpaʈ n dragd Cnstanśa aftr hr.

“Ẃt w’v got t dsîd nǎ, hvr, z ẃɖr w riyli d trust Cet or nt.”

Cnstanśa līnd bac. Hr flat litl laf flù fṛm hr lips.

“Z’nt it krịs, Jug,” sd ś, “ɖt jst on ɖs wn subjict I’v nvr bn ebl t qt mc p mî mînd?”

___

XI

Ś  nvr hd. Ɖ hol dificlti wz t pruv enʈñ. Hǎ dd wn pruv ʈñz, hǎ cd wn? S’poz Cet hd std in frunt v hr n dlibṛtli md a fes. Mt’nt ś vri wel hv bn in pen? Wz’nt it imposbl, at eni ret, t asc Cet f ś wz mcñ a fes at hr? F Cet ansrd “No”—n, v cors, ś wd se “No”—ẃt a pziśn! Hǎ undigṇfaid! Ɖen agn Cnstanśa sspctd, ś wz olmst srtn ɖt Cet wnt t hr ćst v drorz ẃn ś n Joẓfīn wr ǎt, nt t tec ʈñz bt t spî. Mni tîmz ś hd cm bac t fînd hr aṃʈist cros in ɖ most unlîcli plesz, undr hr lês tîz or on top v hr īvnñ Brʈa. Mor ɖn wns ś hd leid a trap fr Cet. Ś hd arenjd ʈñz in a speśl ordr n ɖen cōld Joẓfīn t witnis.

“Y si, Jug?”

“Qt, Cón.”

“Nǎ w śl b ebl t tel.”

Bt, ǒ dir, ẃn ś dd g t lc, ś wz az far of fṛm a prūf az evr! F enʈñ wz dsplest, it mt so vri wel hv hapnd az ś clozd ɖ dror; a jolt mt hv dn it so īẓli.

“Y cm, Jug, n dsîd. I riyli c’nt. It’s tù dificlt.”

Bt aftr a pōz n a loñ gler Joẓfīn wd sai, “Nǎ y’v pt ɖ dǎt intu mî mînd, Cón, I’m śr I c’nt tel mslf.”

“Wel, w c’nt pspon it agn,” sd Joẓfīn. “F w pspon it ɖs tîm—”

___

XII

Bt at ɖt momnt in ɖ strīt b’lo a baṛl-orgn struc p. Joẓfīn n Cnstanśa sprañ t ɖer fīt tgɖr.

“Run, Cón,” sd Joẓfīn. “Run qcli. Ɖr’z sixpns on ɖ—”

Ɖen ɖe rmembrd. It dd’nt matr. Ɖe wd nvr hv t stop ɖ orgngrîndr agn. Nvr agn wd ś n Cnstanśa b tld t mc ɖt munci tec hiz nôz smẃr els. Nvr wd sǎnd ɖt lǎd, strenj belo ẃn faɖr ʈt ɖe wr nt huriyñ inuf. Ɖ orgngrîndr mt ple ɖr ol de n ɖ stic wd nt ʈump.

It nvr wl ʈump agn,

It nvr wl ʈump agn,

pleid ɖ baṛl-orgn.

Ẃt wz Cnstanśa ʈncñ? Ś hd sć a strenj smîl; ś lct difṛnt. Ś cd’nt b gwñ t crî.

“Jug, Jug,” sd Cnstanśa softli, presñ hr handz tgɖr. “D y nǒ ẃt de it z? It’s Saṭde. It’s a wīc tde, a hol wīc.”

A wīc sins faɖr daid,

A wīc sins faɖr daid,

craid ɖ baṛl-orgn. N Joẓfīn, tù, fgot t b practicl n snṣbl; ś smîld fentli, strenjli. On ɖ Indịn carpit ɖr fél a sqer v súnlît, pel red; it cem n wnt n cem—n steid, dīpnd—untl it śon olmst goldn.

“Ɖ sún’z ǎt,” sd Joẓfīn, az ɖo it riyli matrd.

A prfict fǎntn v buḅlñ nots śc fṛm ɖ baṛl-orgn, rǎnd, brît nots, cerlisli scatrd.

Cnstanśa liftd hr big, cold handz az f t cać ɖm, n ɖen hr handz fél agn. Ś wōct ovr t ɖ mantlpìs t hr feṿrit Bda. N ɖ ston n gílt imij, huz smîl olwz gev hr sć a qir fīlñ, olmst a pen n yt a pleznt pen, sīmd tde t b mor ɖn smîlñ. H ń smʈñ; h hd a sīcrit. “I nǒ smʈñ ɖt y d’nt nǒ,” sd hr Bda. Ǒ, ẃt wz it, ẃt cd it b? N yt ś hd olwz flt ɖr wz… smʈñ.

Ɖ súnlît prest ʈru ɖ windoz, ʈīvd its we in, flaśt its lît ovr ɖ frnićr n ɖ foṭgrafs. Joẓfīn woćt it. Ẃn it cem t muɖr’z foṭgraf, ɖ inlarjmnt ovr ɖ piano, it lingrd az ɖo puzld t fînd so litl rmend v muɖr, xpt ɖ irñz śept lîc tîni pgodaz n a blac feɖr boa. Ẃ dd ɖ foṭgrafs v ded ppl olwz fed so? wundrd Joẓfīn. Az sn az a prsn wz ded ɖer foṭgraf daid tù. Bt, v cors, ɖs wn v muɖr wz vri old. It wz ʈrti-fîv yirz old. Joẓfīn rmembrd standñ on a ćer n pôntñ ǎt ɖt feɖr boa t Cnstanśa n telñ hr ɖt it wz a snec ɖt hd cild ɖer muɖr in S’lón… Wd evrʈñ hv bn difṛnt f muɖr hd’nt daid? Ś dd’nt si ẃ. Ānt Floṛns hd livd wɖ ɖm untl ɖe hd left scūl, n ɖe hd muvd ʈri tîmz n hd ɖer yirli hoḷde n… n ɖr’d bn ćenjz v srvnts, v cors.

Sm litl sparoz, yuñ sparoz ɖe sǎndd, ćrpt on ɖ windolej. Yīp—iyīp—yīp. Bt Joẓfīn flt ɖe wr nt sparoz, nt on ɖ windolej. It wz insd hr, ɖt qir litl crayñ nôz. Yīp—iyīp—yīp. Ā, ẃt wz it crayñ, so wìc n f’lorn?

F muɖr hd livd, mt ɖe hv marid? Bt ɖr hd bn nbdi fr ɖm t mari. Ɖr hd bn faɖr’z Anglo-Indịn frendz bfr h qoṛld wɖ ɖm. Bt aftr ɖt ś n Cnstanśa nvr met a sngl man xpt clrjiṃn. Hǎ dd wn mīt men? Or īvn f ɖ’d met ɖm, hǎ cd ɖe hv got t nǒ men wel inuf t b mor ɖn strenjrz? Wn réd v ppl hvñ advnćrz, biyñ foloud, n so on. Bt nbdi hd evr foloud Cnstanśa n hr. Ǒ yes, ɖr hd bn wn yir at Īstbōrn a mstirịs man at ɖer bōrdñhǎs hu hd pt a not on ɖ jug v hot wōtr ǎtsd ɖer bedrūm dor! Bt bî ɖ tîm Cóni hd faund it ɖ stīm hd md ɖ raitñ tù fent t rīd; ɖe cd’nt īvn mc ǎt t ẃć v ɖm it wz adrest. N h hd left nxt de. N ɖt wz ol. Ɖ rest hd bn lcñ aftr faɖr, n at ɖ sem tîm cīpñ ǎt v faɖr’z we. Bt nǎ? Bt nǎ? Ɖ ʈīvñ sún tućt Joẓfīn jntli. Ś liftd hr fes. Ś wz drwn ovr t ɖ windo bî jntl bīmz…

Untl ɖ baṛl-orgn stopt pleyñ Cnstanśa steid bfr ɖ Bda, wunḍrñ, bt nt az yẓ́l, nt vegli. Ɖs tîm hr wundr wz lîc loññ. Ś rmembrd ɖ tîmz ś hd cm in hir, crept ǎt v bed in hr nîtgǎn ẃn ɖ mūn wz fl, n lein on ɖ flor wɖ hr armz ǎtstrećt, az ɖo ś wz crūṣfaid. Ẃ? Ɖ big, pel mūn hd md hr d it. Ɖ hoṛbl dansñ figrz on ɖ carvd scrīn hd lird at hr n ś hd’nt mîndd. Ś rmembrd tù hǎ, ẃnvr ɖe wr at ɖ sìsîd, ś hd gn of bî hrslf n got az clos t ɖ sì az ś cd, n suñ smʈñ, smʈñ ś hd md p, ẃl ś gezd ol ovr ɖt restlis wōtr. Ɖr hd bn ɖs uɖr lîf, runñ ǎt, brññ ʈñz hom in bagz, gtñ ʈñz on apruvl, dscusñ ɖm wɖ Jug, n tecñ ɖm bac t gt mor ʈñz on apruvl, n arenjñ faɖr’z trez n trayñ nt t anô faɖr. Bt it ol sīmd t hv hapnd in a cnd v tunl. It wz’nt riyl. It wz onli ẃn ś cem ǎt v ɖ tunl intu ɖ mūnlît or bî ɖ sì or intu a ʈundrstorm ɖt ś riyli flt hrslf. Ẃt dd it mīn? Ẃt wz it ś wz olwz wontñ? Ẃt dd it ol līd t? Nǎ? Nǎ?

Ś trnd awe fṛm ɖ Bda wɖ wn v hr veg jsćrz. Ś wnt ovr t ẃr Joẓfīn wz standñ. Ś wontd t se smʈñ t Joẓfīn, smʈñ frîtf̣li importnt, abt—abt ɖ fyćr n ẃt…

“D’nt y ʈnc phps—” ś bgan.

Bt Joẓfīn inṭruptd hr. “I wz wunḍrñ f nǎ—” ś mrmrd. Ɖe stopt; ɖe wêtd fr ć uɖr.

“G on, Cón,” sd Joẓfīn.

“No, no, Jug; aftr y,” sd Cnstanśa.

“No, se ẃt y wr gwñ t se. Y bgan,” sd Joẓfīn.

“I… I’d rɖr hír ẃt y wr gwñ t se frst,” sd Cnstanśa.

“D’nt b absrd, Cón.”

“Riyli, Jug.”

“Cóni!”

“Ǒ, Jug!”

A pōz. Ɖen Cnstanśa sd fentli, “I c’nt se ẃt I wz gwñ t se, Jug, bcz I’v fgotn ẃt it wz… ɖt I wz gwñ t se.”

Joẓfīn wz sîḷnt fr a momnt. Ś stérd at a big clǎd ẃr ɖ sún hd bn. Ɖen ś rplaid śortli, “I’v fgotn tù.”

CLASICS IN ÑSPEL

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