Miyerkules, Agosto 6, 2008
He was my uncle because he married my aunt (even if he had not come to her these past ten years), so when the papers brought the news of his death, I felt that some part of me had died, too.I was boarding then at a big girls' college in Manila and I remember quite vividly that a few other girls were gathered about the lobby of our school, looking very straight and proper since it was seven in the morning and the starch in our long-sleeved uniform had not yet given way. I tried to be brave while I read that my uncle had actually been "the last of a distinct school of Philippine poets." I was still being brave all the way down the lengthy eulogies, until I got to the line which said that he was "the sweetest lyre that ever throbbed with Malayan chords." Something caught at my throat and I let out one sob--the rest merely followed. When the girls hurried over to me to see what had happened, I could only point to the item on the front page with my uncle's picture taken when he was still handsome. Everybody suddenly spoke in a low voice and Ning, who worshipped me, said that I shouldn't be so unhappy because my uncle was now with the other great poets in heaven--at which I really howled in earnest because my uncle had not only deserted poor Aunt Sophia but had also been living with another woman these many years and, most horrible of all, he had probably died in her embrace!Perhaps I received an undue amount of commiseration for the death of the delinquent husband of my aunt, but it wasn't my fault because I never really lied about anything; only, nobody thought to ask me just how close an uncle he was. It wasn't my doing either when, some months after his demise, my poem entitled The Rose Was Not So Fair O Alma Mater was captioned "by the niece of the late beloved Filipino Poet." And that having been printed, I couldn't possibly refuse when I was asked to write on My Uncle--The Poetry of His Life. The article, as printed, covered only his boyhood and early manhood because our adviser cut out everything that happened after he was married. She said that the last half of his life was not exactly poetic, although I still maintain that in his vices, as in his poetry, he followed closely the pattern of the great poets he admired.My aunt used to relate that he was an extremely considerate man--when he was sober, and on those occasions he always tried to make up for his past sins. She said that he had never meant to marry, knowing the kind of husband he would make, but that her beauty drove him out of his right mind. My aunt always forgave him but one day she had more than she could bear, and when he was really drunk, she tied him to a chair with a strong rope to teach him a lesson. She never saw him drunk again, for as soon as he was able to, he walked out the door and never came back.I was very little at that time, but I remembered that shortly after he went away, my aunt put me in a car and sent me to his hotel with a letter from her. Uncle ushered me into his room very formally and while I looked all around the place, he prepared a special kind of lemonade for the two of us. I was sorry he poured it out into wee glasses because it was unlike any lemonade I had ever tasted. While I sipped solemnly at my glass, he inquired after my aunt. To my surprise, I found myself answering with alacrity. I was happy to report all details of my aunt's health, including the number of crabs she ate for lunch and the amazing fact that she was getting fatter and fatter without the benefit of Scott's Emulsion or Ovaltine at all. Uncle smiled his beautiful somber smile and drew some poems from his desk. He scribbled a dedication on them and instructed me to give them to my aunt. I made much show of putting the empty glass down but Uncle was dense to the hint. At the door, however, he told me that I could have some lemonade every time I came to visit him. Aunt Sophia was so pleased with the poems that she kissed me. And then all of a sudden she looked at me queerly and made a most peculiar request of me. She asked me to say ha-ha, and when I said ha-ha, she took me to the sink and began to wash the inside of my mouth with soap and water while calling upon a dozen of the saints to witness the act. I never got a taste of Uncle's lemonade.It began to be a habit with Aunt Sophia to drop in for a periodic recital of woe to which Mama was a sympathetic audience. The topic of the conversation was always the latest low on Uncle's state of misery. It gave Aunt Sophia profound satisfaction to relay the report of friends on the number of creases on Uncle's shirt or the appalling decrease in his weight. To her, the fact that Uncle was getting thinner proved conclusively that he was suffering as a result of the separation. It looked as if Uncle would not be able to hold much longer, the way he was reported to be thinner each time, because Uncle didn't have much weight to start with. The paradox of the situation, however, was that Aunt Sophia was now crowding Mama off the sofa and yet she wasn't looking very happy either.When I was about eleven, there began to be a difference. Everytime I cam into the room when Mama and Aunt Sophia were holding conference, the talk would suddenly be switched to Spanish. It was about this time that I took an interest in the Spanish taught in school. It was also at this time that Aunt Sophia exclaimed over my industry at the piano--which stood a short distance from the sofa. At first I couldn't gather much except that Uncle was not any more the main topic. It was a woman by the name of Esa--or so I thought she was called. Later I began to appreciate the subtlety of the Spanish la mujer esa.And so I learned about the woman. She was young, accomplished, a woman of means. (A surprising number of connotations were attached to these terms.) Aunt Sophia, being a loyal wife, grieved that Uncle should have been ensnared by such a woman, thinking not so much of herself but of his career. Knowing him so well, she was positive that he was unhappier than ever, for that horrid woman never allowed him to have his own way; she even denied him those little drinks which he took merely to aid him into poetic composition. Because the woman brazenly followed Uncle everywhere, calling herself his wife, a confusing situation ensued. When people mentioned Uncle's wife, there was no way of knowing whether they referred to my aunt or to the woman. After a while a system was worked out by the mutual friends of the different parties. No. 1 came to stand for Aunt Sophia and No. 2 for the woman.I hadn't seen Uncle since the episode of the lemonade, but one day in school all the girls were asked to come down to the lecture room--Uncle was to read some of his poems! Up in my room, I stopped to fasten a pink ribbon to my hair thinking the while how I would play my role to perfection--for the dear niece was to be presented to the uncle she had not seen for so long. My musings were interrupted, however, when a girl came up and excitedly bubbled that she had seen my uncle--and my aunt, who was surprisingly young and so very modern!I couldn't go down after all; I was indisposed.Complicated as the situation was when Uncle was alive, it became more so when he died. I was puzzling over who was to be the official widow at his funeral when word came that I was to keep Aunt Sophia company at the little chapel where the service would be held. I concluded with relief that No. 2 had decamped.The morning wasn't far gone when I arrived at the chapel and there were only a few people present. Aunt Sophia was sitting in one of the front pews at the right section of the chapel. She had on a black and white print which managed to display its full yardage over the seat. Across the aisle from her was a very slight woman in her early thirties who was dressed in a dramatic black outfit with a heavy veil coming up to her forehead. Something about her made me suddenly aware that Aunt Sophia's bag looked paunchy and worn at the corners. I wanted to ask my aunt who she was but after embracing me when I arrived, she kept her eyes stolidly fixed before her. I directed my gaze in the same direction. At the front was the president's immense wreath leaning heavily backward, like that personage himself; and a pace behind, as though in deference to it, were other wreaths arranged according to the rank and prominence of the people who had sent them. I suppose protocol had something to do with it.I tiptoed over to the muse before Uncle as he lay in the dignity of death, the faintest trace of his somber smile still on his face. My eyes fell upon a cluster of white flowers placed at the foot of the casket. It was ingeniously fashioned in the shape of a dove and it bore the inscription "From the Loyal One." I looked at Aunt Sophia and didn't see anything dove-like about her. I looked at the slight woman in black and knew of a sudden that she was the woman. A young man, obviously a brother or a nephew, was bending over her solicitously. I took no notice of him even though he had elegant manners, a mischievous cowlick, wistful eyes, a Dennis Morgan chin, and a pin which testified that he belonged to what we girls called our "brother college." I showed him that he absolutely did not exist for me, especially when I caught him looking in our direction.I always feel guilty of sacrilege everytime I think of it, but there was something grimly ludicrous about my uncle’s funeral. There were two women, each taking possession of her portion of the chapel just as though stakes had been laid, seemingly unmindful of each other, yet revealing by this studied disregard that each was very much aware of the other. As though to give balance to the scene, the young man stood his full height near the woman to offset the collective bulk of Aunt Sophia and myself, although I was merely a disproportionate shadow behind her.The friends of the poet began to come. They paused a long time at the door, surveying the scene before they marched self-consciously towards the casket. Another pause there, and then they wrenched themselves from the spot and moved--no, slithered--either towards my aunt or towards the woman. The choice must have been difficult when they knew both. The women almost invariably came to talk to my aunt whereas most of the men turned to the woman at the left. I recognized some important Malacañang men and some writers from seeing their pictures in the papers. Later in the morning a horde of black-clad women, the sisters and cousins of the poet, swept into the chapel and came directly to where my aunt sat. They had the same deep eye-sockets and hollow cheek-bones which had lent a sensitive expression to the poet's face but which on them suggested t.b. The air became dense with the sickly-sweet smell of many flowers clashing and I went over to get my breath of air. As I glanced back I had a crazy surrealist impression of mouths opening and closing into Aunt Sophia's ear, and eyes darting toward the woman at the left. Uncle's clan certainly made short work of my aunt for when I returned, she was sobbing. As though to comfort her, one of the women said, in a whisper which I heard from the door, that the president himself was expected to come in the afternoon.Toward lunchtime, it became obvious that neither my aunt nor the woman wished to leave ahead of the other. I could appreciate my aunt's delicadeza in this matter but then got hungry and therefore grew resourceful: I called a taxi and told her it was at the door with the meter on. Aunt Sophia's unwillingness lasted as long as forty centavos.We made up for leaving ahead of the woman by getting back to the chapel early. For a long time she did not come and when Uncle's kinswomen arrived, I thought their faces showed a little disappointment at finding the left side of the chapel empty. Aunt Sophia, on the other hand, looked relieved. But at about three, the woman arrived and I perceived at once that there was a difference in her appearance. She wore the same black dress but her thick hair was now carefully swept into a regal coil; her skin glowing; her eyes, which had been striking enough, looked even larger. The eyebrows of the women around me started working and finally, the scrawniest of the poet's relations whispered to the others and slowly, together, they closed in on the woman.I went over to sit with my aunt who was gazing not so steadily at nothing in particular.At first the women spoke in whispers, and then the voices rose a trifle. Still, everybody was polite. There was more talking back and forth, and suddenly the conversation wasn't polite any more. The only good thing about it was that now I could hear everything distinctly."So you want to put me in a corner, do you? You think perhaps you can bully me out of here?" the woman said."Shh! Please don't create a scene," the poet's sisters said, going one pitch higher."It's you who are creating a scene. Didn't you come here purposely to start one?""We're only trying to make you see reason.... If you think of the dead at all...""Let's see who has the reason. I understand that you want me to leave, isn't it? Now that he is dead and cannot speak for me you think I should quietly hide in a corner?" The woman's voice was now pitched up for the benefit of the whole chapel. "Let me ask you. During the war when the poet was hard up do you suppose I deserted him? Whose jewels do you think we sold when he did not make money... When he was ill, who was it who stayed at his side... Who took care of him during all those months... and who peddled his books and poems to the publishers so that he could pay for the hospital and doctor's bills? Did any of you come to him then? Let me ask you that! Now that he is dead you want me to leave his side so that you and that vieja can have the honors and have your picture taken with the president. That's what you want, isn't it--to pose with the president....""Por Dios! Make her stop it--somebody stop her mouth!" cried Aunt Sophia, her eyes going up to heaven."Now you listen, you scandalous woman," one of the clan said, taking it up for Aunt Sophia. "We don't care for the honors--we don't want it for ourselves. But we want the poet to be honored in death... to have a decent and respectable funeral without scandal... and the least you can do is to leave him in peace as he lies there....""Yes," the scrawny one said. "You've created enough scandal for him in life--that's why we couldn't go to him when he was sick... because you were there, you--you shameless bitch."The woman's face went livid with shock and rage. She stood wordless while her young protector, his eyes blazing, came between her and the poet's kinswomen. Her face began to twitch. And then the sobs came. Big noisy sobs that shook her body and spilled the tears down her carefully made-up face. Fitfully, desperately, she tugged at her eyes and nose with her widow's veil. The young man took hold of her shoulders gently to lead her away, but she shook free; and in a few quick steps she was there before the casket, looking down upon that infinitely sad smile on Uncle's face. It may have been a second that she stood there, but it seemed like a long time."All right," she blurted, turning about. "All right. You can have him--all that's left of him!"At that moment before she fled, I saw what I had waited to see. The mascara had indeed run down her cheeks. But somehow it wasn't funny at all.
Ipinaskil ni firstname.lastname@example.org sa 12:35:00 PM
hangad palibhasang diwa koy pilitin,
katawang marupo, aniya’y pagsuko,
damdami’y supil na;t maihiin ay supil
Ikinulong ako sa kutang malupit;
bato bakal punlo, balasik ng bantay:
lubos na tiwalag sa buong daigdig
at inaring kahit buhay man ay patay
Sa munting dungawan, tanging abot-malas
ay sandipang langit na puno ng luha ,
maramot na birang ng pusong may sugat
watawat ng aking pagkapariwara.
Sintalim ng kidlat ang mata ng tanod,
sa pintong may susi’y walang makalapit
sigaw ng bilanggo sa katabing muog,
anaki’y atungal ng hayop sa yungib.
Ang maghapo’y tila isang tanikala
na kalakaladkad ng paanang madugo,
ang buong magdamag ay kulambong luksa
ng kabaong waring lungga ng bilanggo.
Kung minsa’y magdaan ang payak na yabag,
kawil ng kadena ang kumakalanding;
sa maputlang araw saglit ibibilad,
sanlibong aninong inilwa ng dilim.
Kung minsan, ang gabi’y biglang magulantang
sa hudyat--may takas!--at asod ng punlo;
kung minsa’y tumangis ang limang batingaw,
sa bitayang muog, may naghihingalo
At ito ang tanging daigdig ko ngayon--
bilangguang mandi’y libingan ng buhay;
sampu, dalawampu, at lahat ng taon
ng buong buhay ko’y dito mapipigtal.
Nguni’t yaring diwa’y walang takot-hirap
at batitis pa rin itong aking puso:
piita’y bahagi ng pakikilamas,
mapiit ay tanda ng hindi pagsuko.
Ang tao’t Bathala ay di natutulog
at di habang araw ang api ay api,
tanang paniniil ay may pagtutuos,
habang may Bastilya’y may bayang gaganti.
At bukas, diyan din, aking matatanaw
sa sandipang langit na wala nang luha,
sisikat ang gintong araw ng tagumpay . . .
layang sasalubong ako sa paglaya!
Bartolina ng Muntinlupa
Abril 22, 1952
Ipinaskil ni email@example.com sa 12:24:00 PM
< 2 > "That's right, miss," said the tallest of the men, a lanky, freckled fellow, and he shifted his tool-bag, knocked back his straw hat and smiled down at her. "That's about it." His smile was so easy, so friendly that Laura recovered. What nice eyes he had, small, but such a dark blue! And now she looked at the others, they were smiling too. "Cheer up, we won't bite," their smile seemed to say. How very nice workmen were! And what a beautiful morning! She mustn't mention the morning; she must be business-like. The marquee. "Well, what about the lily-lawn? Would that do?" And she pointed to the lily-lawn with the hand that didn't hold the bread-and-butter. They turned, they stared in the direction. A little fat chap thrust out his under-lip, and the tall fellow frowned. "I don't fancy it," said he. "Not conspicuous enough. You see, with a thing like a marquee," and he turned to Laura in his easy way, "you want to put it somewhere where it'll give you a bang slap in the eye, if you follow me." Laura's upbringing made her wonder for a moment whether it was quite respectful of a workman to talk to her of bangs slap in the eye. But she did quite follow him. "A corner of the tennis-court," she suggested. "But the band's going to be in one corner." "H'm, going to have a band, are you?" said another of the workmen. He was pale. He had a haggard look as his dark eyes scanned the tennis-court. What was he thinking? "Only a very small band," said Laura gently. Perhaps he wouldn't mind so much if the band was quite small. But the tall fellow interrupted. "Look here, miss, that's the place. Against those trees. Over there. That'll do fine." Against the karakas. Then the karaka-trees would be hidden. And they were so lovely, with their broad, gleaming leaves, and their clusters of yellow fruit. They were like trees you imagined growing on a desert island, proud, solitary, lifting their leaves and fruits to the sun in a kind of silent splendour. Must they be hidden by a marquee? They must. Already the men had shouldered their staves and were making for the place. Only the tall fellow was left. He bent down, pinched a sprig of lavender, put his thumb and forefinger to his nose and snuffed up the smell. When Laura saw that gesture she forgot all about the karakas in her wonder at him caring for things like that - caring for the smell of lavender. How many men that she knew would have done such a thing? Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought. Why couldn't she have workmen for her friends rather than the silly boys she danced with and who came to Sunday night supper? She would get on much better with men like these.
< 3 > It's all the fault, she decided, as the tall fellow drew something on the back of an envelope, something that was to be looped up or left to hang, of these absurd class distinctions. Well, for her part, she didn't feel them. Not a bit, not an atom ... And now there came the chock-chock of wooden hammers. Some one whistled, some one sang out, "Are you right there, matey?" "Matey!" The friendliness of it, the - the - Just to prove how happy she was, just to show the tall fellow how at home she felt, and how she despised stupid conventions, Laura took a big bite of her bread-and-butter as she stared at the little drawing. She felt just like a work-girl. "Laura, Laura, where are you? Telephone, Laura!" a voice cried from the house. "Coming!" Away she skimmed, over the lawn, up the path, up the steps, across the veranda, and into the porch. In the hall her father and Laurie were brushing their hats ready to go to the office. "I say, Laura," said Laurie very fast, "you might just give a squiz at my coat before this afternoon. See if it wants pressing." "I will," said she. Suddenly she couldn't stop herself. She ran at Laurie and gave him a small, quick squeeze. "Oh, I do love parties, don't you?" gasped Laura. "Ra-ther," said Laurie's warm, boyish voice, and he squeezed his sister too, and gave her a gentle push. "Dash off to the telephone, old girl." The telephone. "Yes, yes; oh yes. Kitty? Good morning, dear. Come to lunch? Do, dear. Delighted of course. It will only be a very scratch meal - just the sandwich crusts and broken meringue-shells and what's left over. Yes, isn't it a perfect morning? Your white? Oh, I certainly should. One moment - hold the line. Mother's calling." And Laura sat back. "What, mother? Can't hear." Mrs. Sheridan's voice floated down the stairs. "Tell her to wear that sweet hat she had on last Sunday." "Mother says you're to wear that sweet hat you had on last Sunday. Good. One o'clock. Bye-bye." Laura put back the receiver, flung her arms over her head, took a deep breath, stretched and let them fall. "Huh," she sighed, and the moment after the sigh she sat up quickly. She was still, listening. All the doors in the house seemed to be open. The house was alive with soft, quick steps and running voices. The green baize door that led to the kitchen regions swung open and shut with a muffled thud. And now there came a long, chuckling absurd sound. It was the heavy piano being moved on its stiff castors. But the air! If you stopped to notice, was the air always like this? Little faint winds were playing chase, in at the tops of the windows, out at the doors. And there were two tiny spots of sun, one on the inkpot, one on a silver photograph frame, playing too. Darling little spots. Especially the one on the inkpot lid. It was quite warm. A warm little silver star. She could have kissed it.
< 4 > The front door bell pealed, and there sounded the rustle of Sadie's print skirt on the stairs. A man's voice murmured; Sadie answered, careless, "I'm sure I don't know. Wait. I'll ask Mrs Sheridan." "What is it, Sadie?" Laura came into the hall. "It's the florist, Miss Laura." It was, indeed. There, just inside the door, stood a wide, shallow tray full of pots of pink lilies. No other kind. Nothing but lilies - canna lilies, big pink flowers, wide open, radiant, almost frighteningly alive on bright crimson stems. "O-oh, Sadie!" said Laura, and the sound was like a little moan. She crouched down as if to warm herself at that blaze of lilies; she felt they were in her fingers, on her lips, growing in her breast. "It's some mistake," she said faintly. "Nobody ever ordered so many. Sadie, go and find mother." But at that moment Mrs. Sheridan joined them. "It's quite right," she said calmly. "Yes, I ordered them. Aren't they lovely?" She pressed Laura's arm. "I was passing the shop yesterday, and I saw them in the window. And I suddenly thought for once in my life I shall have enough canna lilies. The garden-party will be a good excuse." "But I thought you said you didn't mean to interfere," said Laura. Sadie had gone. The florist's man was still outside at his van. She put her arm round her mother's neck and gently, very gently, she bit her mother's ear. "My darling child, you wouldn't like a logical mother, would you? Don't do that. Here's the man." He carried more lilies still, another whole tray. "Bank them up, just inside the door, on both sides of the porch, please," said Mrs. Sheridan. "Don't you agree, Laura?" "Oh, I do, mother." In the drawing-room Meg, Jose and good little Hans had at last succeeded in moving the piano. "Now, if we put this chesterfield against the wall and move everything out of the room except the chairs, don't you think?" "Quite." "Hans, move these tables into the smoking-room, and bring a sweeper to take these marks off the carpet and - one moment, Hans - " Jose loved giving orders to the servants, and they loved obeying her. She always made them feel they were taking part in some drama. "Tell mother and Miss Laura to come here at once.
< 5 > "Very good, Miss Jose." She turned to Meg. "I want to hear what the piano sounds like, just in case I'm asked to sing this afternoon. Let's try over 'This life is Weary.'" Pom! Ta-ta-ta Tee-ta! The piano burst out so passionately that Jose's face changed. She clasped her hands. She looked mournfully and enigmatically at her mother and Laura as they came in. "This Life is Wee-ary, A Tear - a Sigh. A Love that Chan-ges, This Life is Wee-ary, A Tear - a Sigh. A Love that Chan-ges, And then ... Good-bye!" But at the word "Good-bye," and although the piano sounded more desperate than ever, her face broke into a brilliant, dreadfully unsympathetic smile. "Aren't I in good voice, mummy?" she beamed. "This Life is Wee-ary, Hope comes to Die. A Dream - a Wa-kening." But now Sadie interrupted them. "What is it, Sadie?" "If you please, m'm, cook says have you got the flags for the sandwiches?" "The flags for the sandwiches, Sadie?" echoed Mrs. Sheridan dreamily. And the children knew by her face that she hadn't got them. "Let me see." And she said to Sadie firmly, "Tell cook I'll let her have them in ten minutes. Sadie went. "Now, Laura," said her mother quickly, "come with me into the smoking-room. I've got the names somewhere on the back of an envelope. You'll have to write them out for me. Meg, go upstairs this minute and take that wet thing off your head. Jose, run and finish dressing this instant. Do you hear me, children, or shall I have to tell your father when he comes home to-night? And - and, Jose, pacify cook if you do go into the kitchen, will you? I'm terrified of her this morning." The envelope was found at last behind the dining-room clock, though how it had got there Mrs. Sheridan could not imagine. "One of you children must have stolen it out of my bag, because I remember vividly - cream cheese and lemon-curd. Have you done that?" "Yes." "Egg and--" Mrs. Sheridan held the envelope away from her. "It looks like mice. It can't be mice, can it?" "Olive, pet," said Laura, looking over her shoulder. "Yes, of course, olive. What a horrible combination it sounds. Egg and olive." They were finished at last, and Laura took them off to the kitchen. She found Jose there pacifying the cook, who did not look at all terrifying.
< 6 > "I have never seen such exquisite sandwiches," said Jose's rapturous voice. "How many kinds did you say there were, cook? Fifteen?" "Fifteen, Miss Jose." "Well, cook, I congratulate you." Cook swept up crusts with the long sandwich knife, and smiled broadly. "Godber's has come," announced Sadie, issuing out of the pantry. She had seen the man pass the window. That meant the cream puffs had come. Godber's were famous for their cream puffs. Nobody ever thought of making them at home. "Bring them in and put them on the table, my girl," ordered cook. Sadie brought them in and went back to the door. Of course Laura and Jose were far too grown-up to really care about such things. All the same, they couldn't help agreeing that the puffs looked very attractive. Very. Cook began arranging them, shaking off the extra icing sugar. "Don't they carry one back to all one's parties?" said Laura. "I suppose they do," said practical Jose, who never liked to be carried back. "They look beautifully light and feathery, I must say." "Have one each, my dears," said cook in her comfortable voice. "Yer ma won't know." Oh, impossible. Fancy cream puffs so soon after breakfast. The very idea made one shudder. All the same, two minutes later Jose and Laura were licking their fingers with that absorbed inward look that only comes from whipped cream. "Let's go into the garden, out by the back way," suggested Laura. "I want to see how the men are getting on with the marquee. They're such awfully nice men." But the back door was blocked by cook, Sadie, Godber's man and Hans. Something had happened. "Tuk-tuk-tuk," clucked cook like an agitated hen. Sadie had her hand clapped to her cheek as though she had toothache. Hans's face was screwed up in the effort to understand. Only Godber's man seemed to be enjoying himself; it was his story. "What's the matter? What's happened?" "There's been a horrible accident," said Cook. "A man killed." "A man killed! Where? How? When?" But Godber's man wasn't going to have his story snatched from under his very nose. "Know those little cottages just below here, miss?" Know them? Of course, she knew them. "Well, there's a young chap living there, name of Scott, a carter. His horse shied at a traction-engine, corner of Hawke Street this morning, and he was thrown out on the back of his head. Killed."
< 7 > "Dead!" Laura stared at Godber's man. "Dead when they picked him up," said Godber's man with relish. "They were taking the body home as I come up here." And he said to the cook, "He's left a wife and five little ones." "Jose, come here." Laura caught hold of her sister's sleeve and dragged her through the kitchen to the other side of the green baize door. There she paused and leaned against it. "Jose!" she said, horrified, "however are we going to stop everything?" "Stop everything, Laura!" cried Jose in astonishment. "What do you mean?" "Stop the garden-party, of course." Why did Jose pretend? But Jose was still more amazed. "Stop the garden-party? My dear Laura, don't be so absurd. Of course we can't do anything of the kind. Nobody expects us to. Don't be so extravagant." "But we can't possibly have a garden-party with a man dead just outside the front gate." That really was extravagant, for the little cottages were in a lane to themselves at the very bottom of a steep rise that led up to the house. A broad road ran between. True, they were far too near. They were the greatest possible eyesore, and they had no right to be in that neighbourhood at all. They were little mean dwellings painted a chocolate brown. In the garden patches there was nothing but cabbage stalks, sick hens and tomato cans. The very smoke coming out of their chimneys was poverty-stricken. Little rags and shreds of smoke, so unlike the great silvery plumes that uncurled from the Sheridans' chimneys. Washerwomen lived in the lane and sweeps and a cobbler, and a man whose house-front was studded all over with minute bird-cages. Children swarmed. When the Sheridans were little they were forbidden to set foot there because of the revolting language and of what they might catch. But since they were grown up, Laura and Laurie on their prowls sometimes walked through. It was disgusting and sordid. They came out with a shudder. But still one must go everywhere; one must see everything. So through they went. "And just think of what the band would sound like to that poor woman," said Laura. "Oh, Laura!" Jose began to be seriously annoyed. "If you're going to stop a band playing every time some one has an accident, you'll lead a very strenuous life. I'm every bit as sorry about it as you. I feel just as sympathetic." Her eyes hardened. She looked at her sister just as she used to when they were little and fighting together. "You won't bring a drunken workman back to life by being sentimental," she said softly.
< 8 > "Drunk! Who said he was drunk?" Laura turned furiously on Jose. She said, just as they had used to say on those occasions, "I'm going straight up to tell mother." "Do, dear," cooed Jose. "Mother, can I come into your room?" Laura turned the big glass door-knob. "Of course, child. Why, what's the matter? What's given you such a colour?" And Mrs. Sheridan turned round from her dressing-table. She was trying on a new hat. "Mother, a man's been killed," began Laura. "Not in the garden?" interrupted her mother. "No, no!" "Oh, what a fright you gave me!" Mrs. Sheridan sighed with relief, and took off the big hat and held it on her knees. "But listen, mother," said Laura. Breathless, half-choking, she told the dreadful story. "Of course, we can't have our party, can we?" she pleaded. "The band and everybody arriving. They'd hear us, mother; they're nearly neighbours!" To Laura's astonishment her mother behaved just like Jose; it was harder to bear because she seemed amused. She refused to take Laura seriously. "But, my dear child, use your common sense. It's only by accident we've heard of it. If some one had died there normally - and I can't understand how they keep alive in those poky little holes - we should still be having our party, shouldn't we?" Laura had to say "yes" to that, but she felt it was all wrong. She sat down on her mother's sofa and pinched the cushion frill. "Mother, isn't it terribly heartless of us?" she asked. "Darling!" Mrs. Sheridan got up and came over to her, carrying the hat. Before Laura could stop her she had popped it on. "My child!" said her mother, "the hat is yours. It's made for you. It's much too young for me. I have never seen you look such a picture. Look at yourself!" And she held up her hand-mirror. "But, mother," Laura began again. She couldn't look at herself; she turned aside. This time Mrs. Sheridan lost patience just as Jose had done. "You are being very absurd, Laura," she said coldly. "People like that don't expect sacrifices from us. And it's not very sympathetic to spoil everybody's enjoyment as you're doing now." "I don't understand," said Laura, and she walked quickly out of the room into her own bedroom. There, quite by chance, the first thing she saw was this charming girl in the mirror, in her black hat trimmed with gold daisies, and a long black velvet ribbon. Never had she imagined she could look like that. Is mother right? she thought. And now she hoped her mother was right. Am I being extravagant? Perhaps it was extravagant. Just for a moment she had another glimpse of that poor woman and those little children, and the body being carried into the house. But it all seemed blurred, unreal, like a picture in the newspaper. I'll remember it again after the party's over, she decided. And somehow that seemed quite the best plan ...
< 9 > Lunch was over by half-past one. By half-past two they were all ready for the fray. The green-coated band had arrived and was established in a corner of the tennis-court. "My dear!" trilled Kitty Maitland, "aren't they too like frogs for words? You ought to have arranged them round the pond with the conductor in the middle on a leaf." Laurie arrived and hailed them on his way to dress. At the sight of him Laura remembered the accident again. She wanted to tell him. If Laurie agreed with the others, then it was bound to be all right. And she followed him into the hall. "Laurie!" "Hallo!" He was half-way upstairs, but when he turned round and saw Laura he suddenly puffed out his cheeks and goggled his eyes at her. "My word, Laura! You do look stunning," said Laurie. "What an absolutely topping hat!" Laura said faintly "Is it?" and smiled up at Laurie, and didn't tell him after all. Soon after that people began coming in streams. The band struck up; the hired waiters ran from the house to the marquee. Wherever you looked there were couples strolling, bending to the flowers, greeting, moving on over the lawn. They were like bright birds that had alighted in the Sheridans' garden for this one afternoon, on their way to - where? Ah, what happiness it is to be with people who all are happy, to press hands, press cheeks, smile into eyes. "Darling Laura, how well you look!" "What a becoming hat, child!" "Laura, you look quite Spanish. I've never seen you look so striking." And Laura, glowing, answered softly, "Have you had tea? Won't you have an ice? The passion-fruit ices really are rather special." She ran to her father and begged him. "Daddy darling, can't the band have something to drink?" And the perfect afternoon slowly ripened, slowly faded, slowly its petals closed. "Never a more delightful garden-party ... " "The greatest success ... " "Quite the most ... " Laura helped her mother with the good-byes. They stood side by side in the porch till it was all over. "All over, all over, thank heaven," said Mrs. Sheridan. "Round up the others, Laura. Let's go and have some fresh coffee. I'm exhausted. Yes, it's been very successful. But oh, these parties, these parties! Why will you children insist on giving parties!" And they all of them sat down in the deserted marquee.
< 10 > "Have a sandwich, daddy dear. I wrote the flag." "Thanks." Mr. Sheridan took a bite and the sandwich was gone. He took another. "I suppose you didn't hear of a beastly accident that happened to-day?" he said. "My dear," said Mrs. Sheridan, holding up her hand, "we did. It nearly ruined the party. Laura insisted we should put it off." "Oh, mother!" Laura didn't want to be teased about it. "It was a horrible affair all the same," said Mr. Sheridan. "The chap was married too. Lived just below in the lane, and leaves a wife and half a dozen kiddies, so they say." An awkward little silence fell. Mrs. Sheridan fidgeted with her cup. Really, it was very tactless of father ... Suddenly she looked up. There on the table were all those sandwiches, cakes, puffs, all uneaten, all going to be wasted. She had one of her brilliant ideas. "I know," she said. "Let's make up a basket. Let's send that poor creature some of this perfectly good food. At any rate, it will be the greatest treat for the children. Don't you agree? And she's sure to have neighbours calling in and so on. What a point to have it all ready prepared. Laura!" She jumped up. "Get me the big basket out of the stairs cupboard." "But, mother, do you really think it's a good idea?" said Laura. Again, how curious, she seemed to be different from them all. To take scraps from their party. Would the poor woman really like that? "Of course! What's the matter with you to-day? An hour or two ago you were insisting on us being sympathetic, and now--" Oh well! Laura ran for the basket. It was filled, it was heaped by her mother. "Take it yourself, darling," said she. "Run down just as you are. No, wait, take the arum lilies too. People of that class are so impressed by arum lilies." "The stems will ruin her lace frock," said practical Jose. So they would. Just in time. "Only the basket, then. And, Laura!" - her mother followed her out of the marquee - "don't on any account--" "What mother?" No, better not put such ideas into the child's head! "Nothing! Run along." It was just growing dusky as Laura shut their garden gates. A big dog ran by like a shadow. The road gleamed white, and down below in the hollow the little cottages were in deep shade. How quiet it seemed after the afternoon. Here she was going down the hill to somewhere where a man lay dead, and she couldn't realize it. Why couldn't she? She stopped a minute. And it seemed to her that kisses, voices, tinkling spoons, laughter, the smell of crushed grass were somehow inside her. She had no room for anything else. How strange! She looked up at the pale sky, and all she thought was, "Yes, it was the most successful party."
< 11 > Now the broad road was crossed. The lane began, smoky and dark. Women in shawls and men's tweed caps hurried by. Men hung over the palings; the children played in the doorways. A low hum came from the mean little cottages. In some of them there was a flicker of light, and a shadow, crab-like, moved across the window. Laura bent her head and hurried on. She wished now she had put on a coat. How her frock shone! And the big hat with the velvet streamer - if only it was another hat! Were the people looking at her? They must be. It was a mistake to have come; she knew all along it was a mistake. Should she go back even now? No, too late. This was the house. It must be. A dark knot of people stood outside. Beside the gate an old, old woman with a crutch sat in a chair, watching. She had her feet on a newspaper. The voices stopped as Laura drew near. The group parted. It was as though she was expected, as though they had known she was coming here. Laura was terribly nervous. Tossing the velvet ribbon over her shoulder, she said to a woman standing by, "Is this Mrs. Scott's house?" and the woman, smiling queerly, said, "It is, my lass." Oh, to be away from this! She actually said, "Help me, God," as she walked up the tiny path and knocked. To be away from those staring eyes, or to be covered up in anything, one of those women's shawls even. I'll just leave the basket and go, she decided. I shan't even wait for it to be emptied. Then the door opened. A little woman in black showed in the gloom. Laura said, "Are you Mrs. Scott?" But to her horror the woman answered, "Walk in please, miss," and she was shut in the passage. "No," said Laura, "I don't want to come in. I only want to leave this basket. Mother sent--" The little woman in the gloomy passage seemed not to have heard her. "Step this way, please, miss," she said in an oily voice, and Laura followed her. She found herself in a wretched little low kitchen, lighted by a smoky lamp. There was a woman sitting before the fire.
< 12 > "Em," said the little creature who had let her in. "Em! It's a young lady." She turned to Laura. She said meaningly, "I'm 'er sister, miss. You'll excuse 'er, won't you?" "Oh, but of course!" said Laura. "Please, please don't disturb her. I - I only want to leave--" But at that moment the woman at the fire turned round. Her face, puffed up, red, with swollen eyes and swollen lips, looked terrible. She seemed as though she couldn't understand why Laura was there. What did it mean? Why was this stranger standing in the kitchen with a basket? What was it all about? And the poor face puckered up again. "All right, my dear," said the other. "I'll thenk the young lady." And again she began, "You'll excuse her, miss, I'm sure," and her face, swollen too, tried an oily smile. Laura only wanted to get out, to get away. She was back in the passage. The door opened. She walked straight through into the bedroom, where the dead man was lying. "You'd like a look at 'im, wouldn't you?" said Em's sister, and she brushed past Laura over to the bed. "Don't be afraid, my lass," - and now her voice sounded fond and sly, and fondly she drew down the sheet--"'e looks a picture. There's nothing to show. Come along, my dear." Laura came. There lay a young man, fast asleep - sleeping so soundly, so deeply, that he was far, far away from them both. Oh, so remote, so peaceful. He was dreaming. Never wake him up again. His head was sunk in the pillow, his eyes were closed; they were blind under the closed eyelids. He was given up to his dream. What did garden-parties and baskets and lace frocks matter to him? He was far from all those things. He was wonderful, beautiful. While they were laughing and while the band was playing, this marvel had come to the lane. Happy ... happy ... All is well, said that sleeping face. This is just as it should be. I am content. But all the same you had to cry, and she couldn't go out of the room without saying something to him. Laura gave a loud childish sob. "Forgive my hat," she said. And this time she didn't wait for Em's sister. She found her way out of the door, down the path, past all those dark people. At the corner of the lane she met Laurie.
< 13 > He stepped out of the shadow. "Is that you, Laura?" "Yes." "Mother was getting anxious. Was it all right?" "Yes, quite. Oh, Laurie!" She took his arm, she pressed up against him. "I say, you're not crying, are you?" asked her brother. Laura shook her head. She was. Laurie put his arm round her shoulder. "Don't cry," he said in his warm, loving voice. "Was it awful?" "No," sobbed Laura. "It was simply marvellous. But Laurie--" She stopped, she looked at her brother. "Isn't life," she stammered, "isn't life--" But what life was she couldn't explain. No matter. He quite understood. "Isn't it, darling?" said Laurie.
Ipinaskil ni firstname.lastname@example.org sa 12:18:00 PM
IT fell about the Martinmas time,
And a gay time it was then,
When our good wife got puddings to make,
And she’s boild them in the pan.
The wind sae cauld blew south and north,
And blew into the floor;
Quoth our goodman to our goodwife,
“Gae 1 out and bar the door.”
“My hand is in my hussyfskap,
Goodman, as ye may see;
An it shoud nae be barrd this hundred year,
It’s no be barrd for me.”
They made it firm and sure,
That the first word whaeer shoud speak,
Then by there came two gentlemen,
At twelve o’clock at night,
And they could neither see house nor hall,
Nor coal nor candle-light.
“Now whether is this a rich man’s house,
But neer a word wad ane o them speak,
For barring of the door.
And first they ate the white puddings,
And then they ate the black;
Tho muckle thought the goodwife to hersel,
Then said the one unto the other,
“Here, man, tak ye my knife;Do ye tak aff the auld man’s beard,
“But there’s nae water in the house,
And what shall we do than?”
“What ails thee at the pudding-broo,
O up then started our goodman,
Then up and started our goodwife,
Gied three skips on the floor:
“Goodman, you’ve spoken the foremost word,
Get up and bar the door.”
Ipinaskil ni email@example.com sa 12:13:00 PM