IX: Wêférrz Ōl

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Wōtŗat wz restlis, n h dd nt xacli nǒ ẃ. T ol apiṛns ɖ sumr’z pomp wz stl at fŭlist hît, n olɖo in ɖ tild ecrz grīn hd gvn we t gold, ɖo rownz wr reḍnñ, n ɖ wŭdz wr daśt hir n ɖr wɖ a tōni firsnis, yt lît n wormʈ n culr wr stl preznt in undiminiśt meźr, clīn v eni ćili preṃniśnz v ɖ pasñ yir. Bt ɖ constnt cōṛs v ɖ orćdz n hejz hd śrunc t a caźl īvnsoñ fṛm a fy yt unwirid pformrz; ɖ robin wz bginñ t asrt himslf wns mor; n ɖr wz a fīlñ in ɖ er v ćenj n dparćr. Ɖ ccu, v cors, hd loñ bn sîḷnt; bt mni anɖr feɖrd frend, fr munʈs a part v ɖ fmiłr lanscep n its smōl ssayti, wz misñ tù n it sīmd ɖt ɖ rancs ʈind steḍli de bî de. Rat, evr obzrvnt v ol wñd muvmnt, sw ɖt it wz tecñ dêli a sǎɖñ tndnsi; n īvn az h le in bed at nît h ʈt h cd mc ǎt, pasñ in ɖ darcnis oṿhed, ɖ bìt n qivr v impeśnt pińnz, obījnt t ɖ p’remtri cōl.

Nećr’z Grand Hotel hz its Sīzn, lîc ɖ uɖrz. Az ɖ gests wn bî wn pac, pe, n dpart, n ɖ sīts at ɖ table-d’hote śrinc pitifli at ć s’xidñ mīl; az swìts v rūmz r clozd, carpits tecn p, n wêtrz snt awe; ɖoz bordrz hu r steyñ on, en pension, untl ɖ nxt yir’z fl rioṗnñ, canot hlp biyñ smẃt afctd bî ol ɖz flitñz n férwélz, ɖs īgr dscuśn v planz, rùts, n freś qortrz, ɖs dêli śrincij in ɖ strīm v comredśp. Wn gts unsetld, dprest, n inclînd t b qeryḷs. Ẃ ɖs crevñ fr ćenj? Ẃ nt ste on qaytli hir, lîc s, n b joli? Y d’nt nǒ ɖs hotel ǎt v ɖ sīzn, n ẃt fun w hv amñ ǎrslvz, w feloz hu rmen n si ɖ hol inṭrestñ yir ǎt. Ol vri tru, no dǎt ɖ uɖrz olwz rplî; w qt envi y – n sm uɖr yir phps – bt jst nǎ w hv ingejmnts – n ɖr’z ɖ bus at ɖ dor – ǎr tîm z p! So ɖe dpart, wɖ a smîl n a nod, n w mis ɖm, n fīl rzntfl. Ɖ Rat wz a slf-sfîsñ sort v animl, rūtd t ɖ land, n, huevr wnt, h steid; stl, h cd nt hlp noṭsñ ẃt wz in ɖ er, n fīlñ sm v its inflụns in hiz bonz.

It wz dificlt t setl dǎn t enʈñ sirịsli, wɖ ol ɖs flitñ gwñ on. Līvñ ɖ wōtrsîd, ẃr ruśz std ʈic n tōl in a strīm ɖt wz bcmñ slugiś n lo, h wondrd cuntriẉdz, crost a fīld or tū v pasć̣rij olrdi lcñ dusti n parćt, n ʈrust intu ɖ gret sì v ẃīt, yelo, wevi, n mrmṛs, fl v qayt mośn n smōl ẃisṗrñz. Hir h ofn luvd t wondr, ʈru ɖ forist v stif stroñ stōcz ɖt carid ɖer ǒn goldn scî awe ovr hiz hed – a scî ɖt wz olwz dansñ, śiṃrñ, softli tōcñ; or sweyñ stroñli t ɖ pasñ wind n rcuṿrñ itslf wɖ a tos n a meri laf. Hir, tù, h hd mni smōl frendz, a ssayti cmplit in itslf, līdñ fl n bizi livz, bt olwz wɖ a sper momnt t gosip, n xćenj nyz wɖ a vizitr. Tde, hvr, ɖo ɖe wr sivl inuf, ɖ fīldmîs n harvistmîs sīmd priokpaid. Mni wr digñ n tuṇlñ biẓli; uɖrz, gaɖrd tgɖr in smōl grūps, xamind planz n drw̃z v smōl flats, stetd t b dzîṛbl n compact, n sićuetd cnvińntli nir ɖ Storz. Sm wr hōlñ ǎt dusti truncs n dresbascits, uɖrz wr olrdi elbo-dīp pacñ ɖer b’loññz; ẃl evrẃr pîlz n bundlz v ẃīt, ots, barli, bìćmast n nuts, le abt redi fr trnsport.

“Hir’z old Rati!” ɖe craid az sn az ɖe sw him. “Cm n ber a hand, Rat, n d’nt stand abt îdl!”

“Ẃt sort v gemz r y p t?” sd ɖ Wōtŗat svirli. “Y nǒ it z’nt tîm t b ʈncñ v wintrqortrz yt, bî a loñ we!”

“Ǒ yes, w nǒ ɖt,” xplend a fīldmǎs rɖr śemfeṣdli; “bt it’s olwz az wel t b in gd tîm, z’nt it? W riyli MST gt ol ɖ frnićr n bagij n storz muvd ǎt v ɖs bfr ɖoz horid mśīnz bgin clicñ rnd ɖ fīldz; n ɖen, y nǒ, ɖ bst flats gt pict p so qcli nawdez, n f y’r lêt y hv t pt p wɖ ENƮÑ; n ɖe wont sć a lot v dwñ p, tù, bfr ɖ’r fit t muv intu. V cors, w’r rli, w nǒ ɖt; bt w’r onli jst mcñ a start.”

“Ǒ, boɖr STARTS,” sd ɖ Rat. “It’s a splendid de. Cm fr a ro, or a strol alñ ɖ hejz, or a picnic in ɖ wŭdz, or smʈñ.”

“Wel, I ƮNC nt Tde, ʈanc y,” rplaid ɖ fīldmǎs huṛdli. “Phps sm UƉR de – ẃn w’v mor TÎM — ”

Ɖ Rat, wɖ a snort v cntmt, swuñ rnd t g, tript ovr a hatbox, n fél, wɖ undigṇfaid rmarcs.

“F ppl wd b mor cerfl,” sd a fīldmǎs rɖr stifli, “n lc ẃr ɖ’r gwñ, ppl wd’nt hrt ɖmslvz – n fget ɖmslvz. Mînd ɖt hold-ol, Rat! Y’d betr sit dǎn smẃr. In an aur or tū w me b mor fri t atnd t y.”

“Y w’nt b ‘fri’ az y cōl it mć ɖs sîd v Crisṃs, I cn si ɖt,” rtortd ɖ Rat grumṗli, az h pict hiz we ǎt v ɖ fīld.

H rtrnd smẃt dspondntli t hiz rivr agn – hiz feʈfl, stedi-gwñ old rivr, ẃć nvr páct p, flitd, or wnt intu wintrqortrz.

In ɖ osịrz ẃć frinjd ɖ banc h spaid a swolo sitñ. Prezntli it wz jônd bî anɖr, n ɖen bî a ʈrd; n ɖ brdz, fiɉtñ restlisli on ɖer bau, tōct tgɖr rṇstli n lo.

“Ẃt, OLRDI,” sd ɖ Rat, strolñ p t ɖm. “Ẃt’s ɖ huri? I cōl it simpli r’dikyḷs.”

“Ǒ, w’r nt of yt, f ɖt’s ẃt y mīn,” rplaid ɖ frst swolo. “W’r onli mcñ planz n arenjñ ʈñz. Tōcñ it ovr, y nǒ – ẃt rùt w’r tecñ ɖs yir, n ẃr w’l stop, n so on. Ɖt’s haf ɖ fun!”

“Fun?” sd ɖ Rat; “nǎ ɖt’s jst ẃt I d’nt unḍstand. F y’v GOT t līv ɖs pleznt ples, n yr frendz hu wl mis y, n yr snug homz ɖt y’v jst setld intu, ẃ, ẃn ɖ aur strîcs I’v no dǎt y’l g brevli, n fes ol ɖ trubl n dscumf̣t n ćenj n nynis, n mc b’liv ɖt y’r nt vri unhapi. Bt t wont t tōc abt it, or īvn ʈnc abt it, tl y riyli nīd — ”

“No, y d’nt unḍstand, naćṛli,” sd ɖ secnd swolo. “Frst, w fīl it stŕñ wɖn s, a swīt unrest; ɖen bac cm ɖ rec̣lex́nz wn bî wn, lîc homñpijinz. Ɖe flutr ʈru ǎr drīmz at nît, ɖe flî wɖ s in ǎr ẃīlñz n srclñz bî de. W hungr t inqîr v ć uɖr, t cmper nots n aśur ǎrslvz ɖt it wz ol riyli tru, az wn bî wn ɖ sénts n sǎndz n nemz v loñ-fgotn plesz cm graɉli bac n becn t s.”

“Cd’nt y stop on fr jst ɖs yir?” sjstd ɖ Wōtŗat, wistf̣li. “W’l ol d ǎr bst t mc y fīl at hom. Y’v no îdīa ẃt gd tîmz w hv hir, ẃl y r far awe.”

“I traid ‘stopñ on’ wn yir,” sd ɖ ʈrd swolo. “I hd groun so fond v ɖ ples ɖt ẃn ɖ tîm cem I huñ bac n let ɖ uɖrz g on wɖt m. Fr a fy wīcs it wz ol wel inuf, bt aftwdz, Ǒ ɖ wiri leñʈ v ɖ nîts! Ɖ śiṿrñ, súnlis dez! Ɖ er so clami n ćil, n nt an insect in an ecr v it! No, it wz no gd; mî curij brouc dǎn, n wn cold, stormi nît I tc wñ, flayñ wel inḷnd on acǎnt v ɖ stroñ īsṭli gelz. It wz snowñ hard az I bìt ʈru ɖ pasz v ɖ gret mǎntnz, n I hd a stif fît t win ʈru; bt nvr śl I fget ɖ blisfl fīlñ v ɖ hot sún agn on mî bac az I sped dǎn t ɖ lecs ɖt le so blu n plasid b’lo m, n ɖ test v mî frst fat insect! Ɖ past wz lîc a bad drīm; ɖ fyćr wz ol hapi hoḷde az I muvd sǎʈẉdz wīc bî wīc, īẓli, leẓli, linġrñ az loñ az I derd, bt olwz hīdñ ɖ cōl! No, I hd hd mî wornñ; nvr agn dd I ʈnc v diṣbījns.”

“Ā, yes, ɖ cōl v ɖ Sǎʈ, v ɖ Sǎʈ!” twitrd ɖ uɖr tū drīṃli. “Its soñz, its hyz, its redịnt er! Ǒ, d y rmembr — ” n, fgetñ ɖ Rat, ɖe slid intu paśṇt reṃnisns, ẃl h lisnd faṣnetd, n hiz hart brnd wɖn him. In himslf, tù, h ń ɖt it wz vîbretñ at last, ɖt cōrd hiɖrtu dormnt n unsspctd. Ɖ mir ćatr v ɖz suɖn-baund brdz, ɖer pel n secnd-hand rports, hd yt pǎr t awecn ɖs wîld ny snseśn n ʈril him ʈru n ʈru wɖ it; ẃt wd wn momnt v ɖ riyl ʈñ wrc in him – wn paśṇt tuć v ɖ riyl suɖn sún, wn woft v ɖ oʈntic ǒdr? Wɖ clozd îz h derd t drīm a momnt in fl abandnmnt, n ẃn h lct agn ɖ rivr sīmd stīli n ćil, ɖ grīn fīldz gre n lîtlis. Ɖen hiz loyl hart sīmd t crî ǎt on hiz wìcr slf fr its treć̣ri.

“Ẃ d y evr cm bac, ɖen, at ol?” h dmandd v ɖ swoloz jeḷsli. “Ẃt d y fînd t atract y in ɖs pur drab litl cuntri?”

“N d y ʈnc,” sd ɖ frst swolo, “ɖt ɖ uɖr cōl z nt fr s tù, in its dy sīzn? Ɖ cōl v luś medogras, wet orćdz, worm, insect-hōntd pondz, v brǎzñ catl, v he-mcñ, n ol ɖ farmbildñz clusṭrñ rnd ɖ Hǎs v ɖ prfict Īvz?”

“D y s’poz,” asct ɖ secnd wn, ɖt y r ɖ onli livñ ʈñ ɖt crevz wɖ a hungri loññ t hír ɖ ccu’z not agn?”

“In dy tîm,” sd ɖ ʈrd, “w śl b hom-sic wns mor fr qayt wōtrliliz sweyñ on ɖ srfis v an Ñgliś strīm. Bt tde ol ɖt sīmz pel n ʈin n vri far awe. Jst nǎ ǎr blud dansz t uɖr ḿzic.”

Ɖe fél a-twiṭrñ amñ ɖmslvz wns mor, n ɖs tîm ɖer intox̣cetñ babl wz v vayḷt sìz, tōni sandz, n liẓd-hōntd wōlz.

Restlisli ɖ Rat wondrd of wns mor, clîmd ɖ slǒp ɖt rouz jntli fṛm ɖ norʈ banc v ɖ rivr, n le lcñ ǎt twdz ɖ gret rñ v Dǎnz ɖt bàrd hiz viźn frɖr sǎʈẉdz – hiz simpl hrîzn hiɖrtu, hiz Mǎntnz v ɖ Mūn, hiz limit bhnd ẃć le nʈñ h hd cerd t si or t nǒ. Tde, t him gezñ Sǎʈ wɖ a ny-born nīd stŕñ in hiz hart, ɖ clir scî ovr ɖer loñ lo ǎtlîn sīmd t p’lset wɖ promis; tde, ɖ unsìn wz evrʈñ, ɖ uņoun ɖ onli riyl fact v lîf. On ɖs sîd v ɖ hilz wz nǎ ɖ riyl blanc, on ɖ uɖr le ɖ crǎdd n culrd paṇrama ɖt hiz inr î wz siyñ so clirli. Ẃt sìz le bynd, grīn, līpñ, n crestd! Ẃt sún-beɖd cǒsts, alñ ẃć ɖ ẃît vilaz glitrd agnst ɖ oliv wŭdz! Ẃt qayt harbrz, ʈroñd wɖ gaḷnt śipñ baund fr prpl îḷndz v wîn n spîs, îḷndz set lo in langṛs wōtrz!

H rouz n dsndd rivrẉdz wns mor; ɖen ćenjd hiz mînd n sòt ɖ sîd v ɖ dusti len. Ɖr, layñ haf-berid in ɖ ʈic, cūl unḍhej tangl ɖt bordrd it, h cd ḿz on ɖ metld rod n ol ɖ wundṛs wrld ɖt it léd t; on ol ɖ wêférrz, tù, ɖt mt hv trodn it, n ɖ fortynz n advnćrz ɖe hd gn t sīc or faund unsīcñ – ǎt ɖr, bynd – bynd!

Ftsteps fél on hiz ir, n ɖ figr v wn ɖt wōct smẃt wiṛli cem intu vy; n h sw ɖt it wz a Rat, n a vri dusti wn. Ɖ wêférr, az h rīćt him, s’lūtd wɖ a jsćr v crṭsi ɖt hd smʈñ foṛn abt it – heztetd a momnt – ɖen wɖ a pleznt smîl trnd fṛm ɖ trac n sat dǎn bî hiz sîd in ɖ cūl hrbij. H sīmd tîrd, n ɖ Rat let him rest unqsćnd, unḍstandñ smʈñ v ẃt wz in hiz ʈts; nwñ, tù, ɖ valy ol animlz atać at tîmz t mir sîḷnt cmpańnśp, ẃn ɖ wiri muslz slacn n ɖ mînd marcs tîm.

Ɖ wêférr wz līn n kīn-fīćrd, n smẃt baud at ɖ śoldrz; hiz pwz wr ʈin n loñ, hiz îz mć rincld at ɖ cornrz, n h wòr smōl gold iŗñz in hiz nītli set wel-śept irz. Hiz nitd jrzi wz v a fedd blu, hiz brìćz, paćt n stend, wr best on a blu fǎndeśn, n hiz smōl b’loññz ɖt h carid wr taid p in a blu cotn hanc̣ćif.

Ẃn h hd restd aẃl ɖ strenjr said, snuft ɖ er, n lct abt him.

“Ɖt wz clovr, ɖt worm ẃif on ɖ brīz,” h rmarct; “n ɖoz r cǎz w hír cropñ ɖ gras bhnd s n blowñ softli btwn mǎʈflz. Ɖr z a sǎnd v distnt rīprz, n yondr rîzz a blu lîn v cotijsmoc agnst ɖ wŭdḷnd. Ɖ rivr runz smẃr clos bî, fr I hír ɖ cōl v a murhen, n I si bî yr bild ɖt y’r a freś-wōtr marinr. Evrʈñ sīmz aslip, n yt gwñ on ol ɖ tîm. It z a gdli lîf ɖt y līd, frend; no dǎt ɖ bst in ɖ wrld, f onli y r stroñ inuf t līd it!”

“Yes, it’s Ɖ lîf, ɖ onli lîf, t liv,” rspondd ɖ Wōtŗat drīṃli, n wɖt hiz yźl hol-hartd cnvix́n.

“I dd nt se xacli ɖt,” rplaid ɖ strenjr cōśsli; “bt no dǎt it’s ɖ bst. I’v traid it, n I nǒ. N bcz I’v jst traid it – six munʈs v it – n nǒ it’s ɖ bst, hir am I, ftsor n hungri, trampñ awe fṛm it, trampñ sǎʈẉd, folowñ ɖ old cōl, bac t ɖ old lîf, Ɖ lîf ẃć z mîn n ẃć wl nt let m g.”

“Z ɖs, ɖen, yt anɖr v ɖm?” ḿzd ɖ Rat. “N ẃr hv y jst cm fṛm?” h asct. H hardli derd t asc ẃr h wz baund fr; h sīmd t nǒ ɖ ansr onli tù wel.

“Nîs litl farm,” rplaid ɖ wêférr, brīfli. “Up alñ in ɖt d’rex́n” – h nodd norʈẉdz. “Nvr mînd abt it. I hd evrʈñ I cd wont – evrʈñ I hd eni rît t xpct v lîf, n mor; n hir I am! Glad t b hir ol ɖ sem, ɖo, glad t b hir! So mni mîlz frɖr on ɖ rod, so mni aurz nirr t mî hart’s dzîr!”

Hiz śînñ îz hld fast t ɖ hrîzn, n h sīmd t b liṣnñ fr sm sǎnd ɖt wz wontñ fṛm ɖt inḷnd ecrij, vocl az it wz wɖ ɖ ćirfl ḿzic v pasć̣rij n farmyard.

“Y r nt wn v S,” sd ɖ Wōtŗat, “nr yt a farmr; nr īvn, I śd juj, v ɖs cuntri.”

“Rît,” rplaid ɖ strenjr. “I’m a sìfẹrñ rat, I am, n ɖ port I orijiṇli hêl fṛm z Constanṭnopl, ɖo I’m a sort v a foṛnr ɖr tù, in a manr v spīcñ. Y wl hv hŕd v Constanṭnopl, frend? A fer siti, n an enćnt n glorịs wn. N y me hv hŕd, tù, v Sigrd, Cñ v Norwe, n hǎ h sêld ɖiɖr wɖ sixti śips, n hǎ h n hiz men roud p ʈru strīts ol caṇpid in ɖer onr wɖ prpl n gold; n hǎ ɖ Emprr n Empris cem dǎn n banqtd wɖ him on bord hiz śip. Ẃn Sigrd rtrnd hom, mni v hiz Norʈṃn rmend bhnd n entrd ɖ Emprr’z bodigard, n mî ansestr, a Norwījn born, steid bhnd tù, wɖ ɖ śips ɖt Sigrd gev ɖ Emprr. Sìférrz w hv evr bn, n no wundr; az fr m, ɖ siti v mî brʈ z no mor mî hom ɖn eni pleznt port btwn ɖr n ɖ Lundn Rivr. I nǒ ɖm ol, n ɖe nǒ m. Set m dǎn on eni v ɖer cìz or fōrśorz, n I am hom agn.”

“I s’poz y g gret voyjz,” sd ɖ Wōtŗat wɖ growñ inṭrest. “Munʈs n munʈs ǎt v sît v land, n pṛviźnz runñ śort, n alawnst az t wōtr, n yr mînd cḿnñ wɖ ɖ mîti ośn, n ol ɖt sort v ʈñ?”

“Bî no mīnz,” sd ɖ Sì Rat francli. “Sć a lîf az y dscrîb wd nt sūt m at ol. I’m in ɖ cǒstñtred, n rerli ǎt v sît v land. It’s ɖ joli tîmz on śor ɖt apil t m, az mć az eni sìfẹrñ. Ǒ, ɖoz suɖn sìports! Ɖ smel v ɖm, ɖ rîdñlîts at nît, ɖ glamr!”

“Wel, phps y hv ćozn ɖ betr we,” sd ɖ Wōtŗat, bt rɖr dǎtf̣li. “Tel m smʈñ v yr cǒstñ, ɖen, f y hv a mînd t, n ẃt sort v harvist an animl v spirit mt hop t brñ hom fṛm it t worm hiz latr dez wɖ gaḷnt meṃriz bî ɖ fîrsîd; fr mî lîf, I cnfes t y, fīlz t m tde smẃt naro n srcmscrîbd.”

“Mî last vôij,” bgan ɖ Sì Rat, “ɖt landd m ivnć̣li in ɖs cuntri, baund wɖ hî hops fr mî inḷnd farm, wl srv az a gd xampl v eni v ɖm, n, indd, az an ipiṭmi v mî hîli culrd lîf. Faṃlitrublz, az yźl, bgan it. Ɖ dmestic stormcon wz hôstd, n I śipt mslf on bord a smōl tredñvesl baund fṛm Constanṭnopl, bî clasic sìz huz evri wev ʈrobz wɖ a deʈlis meṃri, t ɖ Grìśn Îḷndz n ɖ Lvant. Ɖoz wr goldn dez n bāmi nîts! In n ǎt v harbr ol ɖ tîm – old frendz evrẃr – slīpñ in sm cūl templ or ruind sistn jrñ ɖ hīt v ɖ de – fīstñ n soñ aftr súndǎn, undr gret starz set in a velvit scî! Ɖns w trnd n cǒstd p ɖ Edriatic, its śorz swimñ in an atṃsfir v ambr, rôz, n aqṃrīn; w le in wîd land-loct harbrz, w romd ʈru enćnt n nobl sitiz, untl at last wn mornñ, az ɖ sún rouz royli bhnd s, w roud intu Venis dǎn a paʈ v gold. Ǒ, Venis z a fîn siti, ẃr-in a rat cn wondr at hiz īz n tec hiz pleźr! Or, ẃn wiri v wonḍrñ, cn sit at ɖ éj v ɖ Grand Cnal at nît, fīstñ wɖ hiz frendz, ẃn ɖ er z fl v ḿzic n ɖ scî fl v starz, n ɖ lîts flaś n śimr on ɖ poliśt stīl prǎz v ɖ sweyñ gonḍlaz, páct so ɖt y cd wōc acrs ɖ cnal on ɖm fṛm sîd t sîd! N ɖen ɖ fūd – d y lîc śelfiś? Wel, wel, w w’nt lingr ovr ɖt nǎ.”

H wz sîḷnt fr a tîm; n ɖ Wōtŗat, sîḷnt tù n inʈrōld, flotd on drīmcnalz n hŕd a fantm soñ pìlñ hî btwn vêpṛs gre wev-lapt wōlz.

“Sǎʈẉdz w sêld agn at last,” cntinyd ɖ Sì Rat, “cǒstñ dǎn ɖ Itałn śor, tl fîṇli w md P’lrmo, n ɖr I qitd fr a loñ, hapi spel on śor. I nvr stic tù loñ t wn śip; wn gts naro-mîndd n preɉdist. Bsdz, Siṣli z wn v mî hapi huntñgrǎndz. I nǒ evrbdi ɖr, n ɖer wez jst sūt m. I spent mni joli wīcs in ɖ îḷnd, steyñ wɖ frendz p cuntri. Ẃn I grù restlis agn I tc advantij v a śip ɖt wz tredñ t Sardińa n Corsica; n vri glad I wz t fīl ɖ freś brīz n ɖ sìspre in mî fes wns mor.”

“Bt z’nt it vri hot n stufi, dǎn in ɖ – hold, I ʈnc y cōl it?” asct ɖ Wōtŗat.

Ɖ sìférr lct at him wɖ ɖ sspiśn v a wnc. “I’m an old hand,” h rmarct wɖ mć simpliṣti. “Ɖ captin’z cabin’z gd inuf fr m.”

“It’s a hard lîf, bî ol acǎnts,” mrmrd ɖ Rat, sunc in dīp ʈt.

“Fr ɖ cru it z,” rplaid ɖ sìférr grevli, agn wɖ ɖ gost v a wnc.

“Fṛm Corsica,” h wnt on, “I md ys v a śip ɖt wz tecñ wîn t ɖ mn-ḷnd. W md Alasio in ɖ īvnñ, le t, hōld p ǎr wîncascs, n hov ɖm oṿbord, taid wn t ɖ uɖr bî a loñ lîn. Ɖen ɖ cru tc t ɖ bots n róud śorẉdz, sññ az ɖe wnt, n drw̃ aftr ɖm ɖ loñ bobñ pṛseśn v cascs, lîc a mîl v porṗsz. On ɖ sandz ɖe hd horsz wêtñ, ẃć dragd ɖ cascs p ɖ stīp strīt v ɖ litl tǎn wɖ a fîn ruś n clatr n scrambl. Ẃn ɖ last casc wz in, w wnt n rfreśt n restd, n sat lêt intu ɖ nît, drincñ wɖ ǎr frendz, n nxt mornñ I tc t ɖ gret olivwŭdz fr a spel n a rest. Fr nǎ I hd dn wɖ îḷndz fr ɖ tîm, n ports n śipñ wr plentifl; so I léd a lezi lîf amñ ɖ peznts, layñ n woćñ ɖm wrc, or strećt hî on ɖ hilsîd wɖ ɖ blu Mediṭreńn far b’lo m. N so at leñʈ, bî īzi stejz, n partli on ft, partli bî sì, t Marse, n ɖ mītñ v old śipmêts, n ɖ viẓtñ v gret ośn-baund veslz, n fīstñ wns mor. Tōc v śelfiś! Ẃ, smtmz I drīm v ɖ śelfiś v Marse, n wec p crayñ!”

“Ɖt rmîndz m,” sd ɖ p’lît Wōtŗat; “y hapnd t mnśn ɖt y wr hungri, n I òt t hv spocn rlịr. V cors, y wl stop n tec yr miḑe mīl wɖ m? Mî houl z clos bî; it z sm tîm past nūn, n y r vri welcm t ẃtvr ɖr z.”

“Nǎ I cōl ɖt cînd n bruɖrli v y,” sd ɖ Sì Rat. “I wz indd hungri ẃn I sat dǎn, n evr sins I in’dvrtntli hapnd t mnśn śelfiś, mî pañz hv bn xtrim. Bt cd’nt y feć it alñ ǎt hir? I am nn tù fond v gwñ undr haćz, unls I’m oblîjd t; n ɖen, ẃl w īt, I cd tel y mor cnsrnñ mî voyjz n ɖ pleznt lîf I līd – at līst, it z vri pleznt t m, n bî yr atnśn I juj it cmndz itslf t y; ẃr-az f w g indorz it z a hundṛd t wn ɖt I śl prezntli fōl aslip.”

“Ɖt z indd an xḷnt sjsćn,” sd ɖ Wōtŗat, n hurid of hom. Ɖr h got ǎt ɖ lunćnbascit n páct a simpl mīl, in ẃć, rmemḅrñ ɖ strenjr’z oṛjin n prefṛnsz, h tc cer t includ a yard v loñ Frenć bred, a sosij ǎt v ẃć ɖ garlic sañ, sm ćīz ẃć le dǎn n craid, n a loñ-nect strw-cuvrd flasc ẃr-in le botld súnśîn śed n garnrd on far Suɖn slǒps. Ɖus lêdn, h rtrnd wɖ ol spīd, n bluśt fr pleźr at ɖ old sìmn’z comndeśnz v hiz test n jujmnt, az tgɖr ɖe unpáct ɖ bascit n leid ǎt ɖ contents on ɖ gras bî ɖ rodsîd.

Ɖ Sì Rat, az sn az hiz hungr wz smẃt aswejd, cntinyd ɖ hisṭri v hiz lêtist vôij, cnductñ hiz simpl hírr fṛm port t port v Spen, landñ him at Lizbn, Oporto, n Bordo, intṛdysñ him t ɖ pleznt harbrz v Cornẉl n Devn, n so p ɖ Ćanl t ɖt fînl cìsîd, ẃr, landñ aftr windz loñ contrri, storm-drivn n weɖr-bìtn, h hd còt ɖ frst majicl hints n heṛldñz v anɖr Sprñ, n, fîrd bî ɖz, hd sped on a loñ tramp inḷnd, hungri fr ɖ xperimnt v lîf on sm qayt farmsted, vri far fṛm ɖ wiri bìtñ v eni sì.

Spel-baund n qiṿrñ wɖ xîtmnt, ɖ Wōtŗat foloud ɖ Advnćrr līg bî līg, ovr stormi bez, ʈru crǎdd rodstédz, acrs harbrbarz on a rêsñ tîd, p wîndñ rivrz ɖt hid ɖer bizi litl tǎnz rnd a sudn trn; n left him wɖ a rgretfl sai plantd at hiz dul inḷnd farm, abt ẃć h dzîrd t hír nʈñ.

Bî ɖs tîm ɖer mīl wz ovr, n ɖ Sìférr, rfreśt n streñʈnd, hiz vôs mor vîbṛnt, hiz î lit wɖ a brîtnis ɖt sīmd còt fṛm sm far-awe sìbīcn, fild hiz glas wɖ ɖ red n glowñ vintij v ɖ Sǎʈ, n, līnñ twdz ɖ Wōtŗat, cmpeld hiz gêz n hld him, bodi n soul, ẃl h tōct. Ɖoz îz wr v ɖ ćenjñ fom-strīct gre-grīn v līpñ Norɖn sìz; in ɖ glas śon a hot rūbi ɖt sīmd ɖ vri hart v ɖ Sǎʈ, bìtñ fr him hu hd curij t rspond t its pulseśn. Ɖ twin lîts, ɖ śiftñ gre n ɖ stedfst red, mastrd ɖ Wōtŗat n hld him baund, faṣnetd, pǎrlis. Ɖ qayt wrld ǎtsd ɖer rez rsidd far awe n sīst t b. N ɖ tōc, ɖ wundrfl tōc floud on – or wz it spīć intîrli, or dd it pas at tîmz intu soñ – śanti v ɖ sêlrz weyñ ɖ dripñ ancr, sonṛs hum v ɖ śrǎdz in a tẹrñ Norʈ-Īstr, baḷd v ɖ fiśrmn hōlñ hiz nets at súndǎn agnst an epṛcót scî, cōrdz v gitar n manḍlin fṛm gonḍla or cîīc? Dd it ćenj intu ɖ crî v ɖ wind, plentiv at frst, angṛli śril az it freśnd, rîzñ t a tẹrñ ẃisl, sncñ t a ḿzicl tricl v er fṛm ɖ līć v ɖ beliyñ sêl? Ol ɖz sǎndz ɖ spel-baund lisnr sīmd t hír, n wɖ ɖm ɖ hungri cmplent v ɖ gulz n ɖ sìmyz, ɖ soft ʈundr v ɖ brecñ wev, ɖ crî v ɖ pṛtstñ śngl. Bac intu spīć agn it pást, n wɖ bìtñ hart h wz folowñ ɖ advnćrz v a duzn sìports, ɖ fîts, ɖ isceps, ɖ raliz, ɖ comredśps, ɖ gaḷnt unḍtecñz; or h srćt îḷndz fr treźr, fiśt in stil l’gūnz n dozd de-loñ on worm ẃît sand. V dīp-sì fiśñz h hŕd tel, n mîti silvr gaɖ̇rñz v ɖ mîl-loñ net; v sudn perilz, nôz v brecrz on a mūnlis nît, or ɖ tōl bǎz v ɖ gret lînr tecñ śep oṿhed ʈru ɖ fog; v ɖ meri hom-cmñ, ɖ hedḷnd rǎndd, ɖ harbrlîts opnd ǎt; ɖ grūps sìn dimli on ɖ cì, ɖ ćiri hêl, ɖ splaś v ɖ hōzr; ɖ truj p ɖ stīp litl strīt twdz ɖ cumf̣tñ glo v red-crtnd windoz.

Lastli, in hiz wecñ drīm it sīmd t him ɖt ɖ Advnćrr hd rizn t hiz fīt, bt wz stl spīcñ, stl holdñ him fast wɖ hiz sì-gre îz.

“N nǎ,” h wz softli seyñ, “I tec t ɖ rod agn, holdñ on sǎʈ-wstẉdz fr mni a loñ n dusti de; tl at last I rīć ɖ litl gre sìtǎn I nǒ so wel, ɖt clñz alñ wn stīp sîd v ɖ harbr. Ɖr ʈru darc dorwez y lc dǎn flîts v ston steps, oṿhuñ bî gret pnc tufts v vlirịn n endñ in a pać v sparc̣lñ blu wōtr. Ɖ litl bots ɖt lî teɖrd t ɖ rñz n stanćnz v ɖ old sìwōl r gêli pentd az ɖoz I clambrd in n ǎt v in mî ǒn ćîldhd; ɖ samn līp on ɖ fludtîd, scūlz v macṛl flaś n ple past cìsîdz n fōrśorz, n bî ɖ windoz ɖ gret veslz glîd, nît n de, p t ɖer murñz or fʈ t ɖ opn sì. Ɖr, snr or lêtr, ɖ śips v ol sìfẹrñ neśnz arîv; n ɖr, at its destind aur, ɖ śip v mî ćôs wl let g its ancr. I śl tec mî tîm, I śl tari n bîd, tl at last ɖ rît wn lîz wêtñ fr m, worpt ǎt intu midstrīm, lodd lo, hr bǒsprit pôntñ dǎn harbr. I śl slip on bord, bî bot or alñ hōzr; n ɖen wn mornñ I śl wec t ɖ soñ n tramp v ɖ sêlrz, ɖ clinc v ɖ capstn, n ɖ ratl v ɖ ancrćen cmñ meṛli in. W śl brec ǎt ɖ jib n ɖ fōrsel, ɖ ẃît hǎzz on ɖ harbrsîd wl glîd slǒli past s az ś gaɖrz stirñwe, n ɖ vôij wl hv bgun! Az ś forjz twdz ɖ hedḷnd ś wl cloɖ hrslf wɖ canvs; n ɖen, wns ǎtsd, ɖ sǎndñ slap v gret grīn sìz az ś hìlz t ɖ wind, pôntñ Sǎʈ!

“N y, y wl cm tù, yuñ bruɖr; fr ɖ dez pas, n nvr rtrn, n ɖ Sǎʈ stl wêts fr y. Tec ɖ Advnćr, hīd ɖ cōl, nǎ e’r ɖ ireṿcbl momnt pasz! ’Tis bt a baññ v ɖ dor bhnd y, a blîɖsm step fwd, n y r ǎt v ɖ old lîf n intu ɖ ny! Ɖen sm de, sm de loñ hns, jog hom hir f y wl, ẃn ɖ cup hz bn drend n ɖ ple hz bn pleid, n sit dǎn bî yr qayt rivr wɖ a stor v gdli meṃriz fr cumṗni. Y cn īẓli oṿtec m on ɖ rod, fr y r yuñ, n I am ejñ n g softli. I wl lingr, n lc bac; n at last I wl śrli si y cmñ, īgr n lît-hartd, wɖ ol ɖ Sǎʈ in yr fes!”

Ɖ vôs daid awe n sīst az an insect’s tîni trumpit dwindlz swiftli intu sîḷns; n ɖ Wōtŗat, paṛlîzd n stẹrñ, sw at last bt a distnt spec on ɖ ẃît srfis v ɖ rod.

Mcanicli h rouz n pṛsidd t rīpac ɖ lunćnbascit, cerf̣li n wɖt hest. Mcanicli h rtrnd hom, gaɖrd tgɖr a fy smōl nesṣriz n speśl treźrz h wz fond v, n pt ɖm in a saćl; actñ wɖ slo dliḅreśn, muvñ abt ɖ rūm lîc a slīpwōcr; liṣnñ evr wɖ partd lips. H swuñ ɖ saćl ovr hiz śoldr, cerf̣li s’lectd a stǎt stic fr hiz wêférñ, n wɖ no hest, bt wɖ no hezteśn at ol, h stept acrs ɖ ʈreśhold jst az ɖ Mol apird at ɖ dor.

“Ẃ, ẃr r y of t, Rati?” asct ɖ Mol in gret s’prîz, graspñ him bî ɖ arm.

“Gwñ Sǎʈ, wɖ ɖ rest v ɖm,” mrmrd ɖ Rat in a drīmi moṇton, nvr lcñ at him. “Sìẉdz frst n ɖen on śipbord, n so t ɖ śorz ɖt r cōlñ m!”

H prest reẓlutli fwd, stl wɖt hest, bt wɖ dogid fix̣ti v prṗs; bt ɖ Mol, nǎ ʈuṛli alarmd, plest himslf in frunt v him, n lcñ intu hiz îz sw ɖt ɖe wr glezd n set n trnd a strīct n śiftñ gre – nt hiz frend’z îz, bt ɖ îz v sm uɖr animl! Graṗlñ wɖ him stroñli h dragd him insd, ʈrù him dǎn, n hld him.

Ɖ Rat strugld despṛtli fr a fy momnts, n ɖen hiz streñʈ sīmd sudnli t līv him, n h le stil n xōstd, wɖ clozd îz, tremḅlñ. Prezntli ɖ Mol asistd him t rîz n plest him in a ćer, ẃr h sat c’lapst n śruncn intu himslf, hiz bodi śecn bî a vayḷnt śiṿrñ, pasñ in tîm intu an histericl fit v drî sobñ. Mol md ɖ dor fast, ʈrù ɖ saćl intu a dror n loct it, n sat dǎn qaytli on ɖ tebl bî hiz frend, wêtñ fr ɖ strenj siźr t pas. Graɉli ɖ Rat sanc intu a trubld dǒz, brocn bî starts n cnfyzd mrmrñz v ʈñz strenj n wîld n foṛn t ɖ uninlîtnd Mol; n fṛm ɖt h pást intu a dīp slumbr.

Vri añśs in mînd, ɖ Mol left him fr a tîm n bizid himslf wɖ hǎshold matrz; n it wz gtñ darc ẃn h rtrnd t ɖ parlr n faund ɖ Rat ẃr h hd left him, wîd awec indd, bt listlis, sîḷnt, n djctd. H tc wn hesti glans at hiz îz; faund ɖm, t hiz gret gratif̣ceśn, clir n darc n brǎn agn az bfr; n ɖen sat dǎn n traid t ćir him p n hlp him t rlet ẃt hd hapnd t him.

Pur Rati dd hiz bst, bî dgriz, t xplen ʈñz; bt hǎ cd h pt intu cold wrdz ẃt hd mostli bn sjsćn? Hǎ rcōl, fr anɖr’z beṇfit, ɖ hōntñ sìvôsz ɖt hd suñ t him, hǎ rīpṛdys at secnd-hand ɖ majic v ɖ Sìférr’z hundṛd reṃnisnsz? Īvn t himslf, nǎ ɖ spel wz brocn n ɖ glamr gn, h faund it dificlt t acǎnt fr ẃt hd sīmd, sm aurz ago, ɖ inevitbl n onli ʈñ. It z nt s’prîzñ, ɖen, ɖt h feld t cnve t ɖ Mol eni clir îdīa v ẃt h hd bn ʈru ɖt de.

T ɖ Mol ɖs mć wz plen: ɖ fit, or atac, hd pást awe, n hd left him sen agn, ɖo śecn n cast dǎn bî ɖ riax́n. Bt h sīmd t hv lost ol inṭrest fr ɖ tîm in ɖ ʈñz ɖt wnt t mc p hiz dêli lîf, az wel az in ol pleznt fōrcastñz v ɖ oltrd dez n dwñz ɖt ɖ ćenjñ sīzn wz śrli brññ.

Caẓ́li, ɖen, n wɖ sīmñ indifṛns, ɖ Mol trnd hiz tōc t ɖ harvist ɖt wz biyñ gaɖrd in, ɖ tǎrñ wagnz n ɖer strenñ tīmz, ɖ growñ rics, n ɖ larj mūn rîzñ ovr bér ecrz dotd wɖ śīvz. H tōct v ɖ reḍnñ aplz arnd, v ɖ brǎnñ nuts, v jamz n prizrvz n ɖ dstilñ v cordịlz; tl bî īzi stejz sć az ɖz h rīćt midwintr, its harti jôz n its snug homlîf, n ɖen h bcem simpli liricl.

Bî dgriz ɖ Rat bgan t sit p n t jôn in. Hiz dul î brîtnd, n h lost sm v hiz liṣnñ er.

Prezntli ɖ tactfl Mol slipt awe n rtrnd wɖ a pensl n a fy haf-śīts v pepr, ẃć h plest on ɖ tebl at hiz frend’z elbo.

“It’s qt a loñ tîm sins y dd eni powtri,” h rmarct. “Y mt hv a trî at it ɖs īvnñ, instd v – wel, brūdñ ovr ʈñz so mć. I’v an îdīa ɖt y’l fīl a lot betr ẃn y’v got smʈñ jotd dǎn – f it’s onli jst ɖ rîmz.”

Ɖ Rat pśt ɖ pepr awe fṛm him wiṛli, bt ɖ dscrit Mol tc oceźn t līv ɖ rūm, n ẃn h pīpt in agn sm tîm lêtr, ɖ Rat wz abzorbd n def t ɖ wrld; oltrṇtli scriḅlñ n sucñ ɖ top v hiz pensl. It z tru ɖt h suct a gd dīl mor ɖn h scribld; bt it wz jô t ɖ Mol t nǒ ɖt ɖ kr hd at līst bgun.