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E-Books (english-e-reader), The Silk (2)

The Silk (2)

She cut the last thread and put away the needle.

'That's it, Herb,' she said, showing him her work.

He tried to lift his head. 'Bring them over here,' he said.

'Well - what do you think?' As she brought the pyjamas closer, he saw them clearly and he smiled.

'Try them on?' he said.

She shook her head. 'I measured you carefully,' she said. 'They'll fit.'

'We should make sure,' he said.

Why didn't she want him to try them on? She couldn't find a reason. 'All right,' she said, turning on the heater. 'Just to make sure the buttons are right.'

She took off his thick pyjamas and put on the silk. She stepped back to look at him.

'Well, I have to say that's a fine job. I could move the top button a little bit, but really they fir beautifully.'

He smiled at her. 'Light, aren't they?' He looked all down his body and moved his toes. 'All the way from China. I kept with me day and night. Know that, Amy?'

'Do you like them?'

He tried not to look too pleased. 'All right. A little bit small.'

'They are not, and you know it,' Mrs Blackie said crossly. 'It wouldn't hurt to say thank you. Here, put your hands down and I'll change you before you get cold.'

He crossed his arms. 'You did a really good job, Amy. Think I'll keep them on for a bit.'

'No.' She picked up his thick pyjamas.

'Why not?'

'Because you can't,' she said. 'It - it's not the right thing to do. And the nurse will be here soon.'

'Oh, you and your ideas.' He was too weak to stop her, but as she changed him, he still could not take his eyes away from the silk. 'Wonder who made it?'

She didn't answer, but a picture came to her of a Chinese woman sitting at a machine making silk. She was dressed in beautiful Eastern clothes, and although she had Eastern eyes, she looked like Mrs Blackie.

'Do you think there are places like that?' Mr Blackie asked.

She picked the pyjamas up quickly and put them in the box. 'You're the one who's been to the East,' she said. 'Now get some rest or you'll be tired when the nurse arrives.'

The district nurse did not come that afternoon. Nor in the evening. It was half-past three the next morning when Mrs Blackie heard the nurse's footsteps, and the doctor's, outside the house.

She was in the kitchen, waiting. She sat with straight back and dry eyes, with one hand resting on top of the other.

'Mrs Blackie, I'm sorry-'

She didn't answer and turned to the doctor. 'He didn't say goodbye,' she said, her voice angry. 'Just before I phoned. His hand was over the side of the bed. I touched it. It was cold.'

The doctor nodded.

'No sound of any kind,' she said. 'He was fine last night.'

Again, the doctor nodded. He put his hand on her shoulder for a moment, then went into the bedroom. A minute later, he returned, closing his bag, speaking kindly.

Mrs Blackie sat still, hearing words. Peacefully. Brave. The words dropped onto her. They didn't seem to mean anything.

'He didn't say goodbye.' She shook her head. 'Not a word.'

'But look, Mrs Blackie,' the nurse said gently. 'It was going to happen. You know that. He was-'

'I know, I know.' She turned away crossly. Why didn't they understand? 'I just wanted him to say goodbye. That's all.'

The doctor offered her something to help her sleep but she pushed it away. And she refused the cup of tea that the district nurse put in front of her. When they picked up their bags and went towards the bedroom, she followed them.

'In a few minutes,' the doctor said. 'If you'll leave us -'

'I'm getting his pyjamas,' she said. 'I need to change a button. I can do it now.'

When she entered the room, she looked at Mr Blackie's bed and saw that the doctor had pulled up the sheet. Quickly she lifted the wooden box, took a needle, thread, scissors, her glasses, and went back to the kitchen. Through the door, she heard the nurse's voice, 'Poor old thing,' and she knew that they were not talking about her.

She sat down at the table to thread the needle. Her eyes were clear, but for a long time her hands refused to obey her. At last, her needle and thread ready, she opened the wooden box. The beauty of the silk always surprised her. As she arranged the pyjamas on the table, she was filled with a strong, warm feeling, the first good feeling that she had had that morning. The silk was real. The light above the table filled everything with life. Trees moved above the water, peacocks danced with white fire in their tails. And the little bridges...

Mrs Blackie took off her glasses, cleaned them, put them on again. She sat down and touched one bridge with her finger, then another. And another. She turned over the pyjama coat and looked carefully at the back. It was there, on every bridge; something she hadn't noticed before. She got up and fetched her magnifying glass.

As the bridge in the pattern on the silk grew, the little group of threads, which had been no bigger than a grain of rice, became a man.

Mrs Blackie forgot about the button, and the quiet voices in the bedroom. She brought the magnifying glass nearer her eyes.

It was a man, and he was standing with one arm held out on the highest part of the bridge between two islands. Mrs Blackie studied him for a long time, then she sat up and smiled. Yes, he was waving. Or perhaps, she thought, he was calling her to join him.

- THE END -


The Silk (2) La Seda (2)

She cut the last thread and put away the needle.

'That's it, Herb,' she said, showing him her work.

He tried to lift his head. 'Bring them over here,' he said.

'Well - what do you think?' As she brought the pyjamas closer, he saw them clearly and he smiled.

'Try them on?' he said.

She shook her head. 'I measured you carefully,' she said. 'They'll fit.'

'We should make sure,' he said.

Why didn't she want him to try them on? She couldn't find a reason. 'All right,' she said, turning on the heater. 'Just to make sure the buttons are right.'

She took off his thick pyjamas and put on the silk. She stepped back to look at him.

'Well, I have to say that's a fine job. I could move the top button a little bit, but really they fir beautifully.'

He smiled at her. 'Light, aren't they?' He looked all down his body and moved his toes. 'All the way from China. I kept with me day and night. Know that, Amy?'

'Do you like them?'

He tried not to look too pleased. 'All right. A little bit small.'

'They are not, and you know it,' Mrs Blackie said crossly. 'It wouldn't hurt to say thank you. Here, put your hands down and I'll change you before you get cold.'

He crossed his arms. 'You did a really good job, Amy. Think I'll keep them on for a bit.'

'No.' She picked up his thick pyjamas.

'Why not?'

'Because you can't,' she said. 'It - it's not the right thing to do. And the nurse will be here soon.'

'Oh, you and your ideas.' He was too weak to stop her, but as she changed him, he still could not take his eyes away from the silk. 'Wonder who made it?'

She didn't answer, but a picture came to her of a Chinese woman sitting at a machine making silk. She was dressed in beautiful Eastern clothes, and although she had Eastern eyes, she looked like Mrs Blackie.

'Do you think there are places like that?' Mr Blackie asked.

She picked the pyjamas up quickly and put them in the box. 'You're the one who's been to the East,' she said. 'Now get some rest or you'll be tired when the nurse arrives.'

The district nurse did not come that afternoon. Nor in the evening. It was half-past three the next morning when Mrs Blackie heard the nurse's footsteps, and the doctor's, outside the house.

She was in the kitchen, waiting. She sat with straight back and dry eyes, with one hand resting on top of the other.

'Mrs Blackie, I'm sorry-'

She didn't answer and turned to the doctor. 'He didn't say goodbye,' she said, her voice angry. 'Just before I phoned. His hand was over the side of the bed. I touched it. It was cold.'

The doctor nodded.

'No sound of any kind,' she said. 'He was fine last night.'

Again, the doctor nodded. He put his hand on her shoulder for a moment, then went into the bedroom. A minute later, he returned, closing his bag, speaking kindly.

Mrs Blackie sat still, hearing words. Peacefully. Brave. The words dropped onto her. They didn't seem to mean anything.

'He didn't say goodbye.' She shook her head. 'Not a word.'

'But look, Mrs Blackie,' the nurse said gently. 'It was going to happen. You know that. He was-'

'I know, I know.' She turned away crossly. Why didn't they understand? 'I just wanted him to say goodbye. That's all.'

The doctor offered her something to help her sleep but she pushed it away. And she refused the cup of tea that the district nurse put in front of her. When they picked up their bags and went towards the bedroom, she followed them.

'In a few minutes,' the doctor said. 'If you'll leave us -'

'I'm getting his pyjamas,' she said. 'I need to change a button. I can do it now.'

When she entered the room, she looked at Mr Blackie's bed and saw that the doctor had pulled up the sheet. Quickly she lifted the wooden box, took a needle, thread, scissors, her glasses, and went back to the kitchen. Through the door, she heard the nurse's voice, 'Poor old thing,' and she knew that they were not talking about her.

She sat down at the table to thread the needle. Her eyes were clear, but for a long time her hands refused to obey her. At last, her needle and thread ready, she opened the wooden box. The beauty of the silk always surprised her. As she arranged the pyjamas on the table, she was filled with a strong, warm feeling, the first good feeling that she had had that morning. The silk was real. The light above the table filled everything with life. Trees moved above the water, peacocks danced with white fire in their tails. And the little bridges...

Mrs Blackie took off her glasses, cleaned them, put them on again. She sat down and touched one bridge with her finger, then another. And another. She turned over the pyjama coat and looked carefully at the back. It was there, on every bridge; something she hadn't noticed before. She got up and fetched her magnifying glass.

As the bridge in the pattern on the silk grew, the little group of threads, which had been no bigger than a grain of rice, became a man.

Mrs Blackie forgot about the button, and the quiet voices in the bedroom. She brought the magnifying glass nearer her eyes.

It was a man, and he was standing with one arm held out on the highest part of the bridge between two islands. Mrs Blackie studied him for a long time, then she sat up and smiled. Yes, he was waving. Or perhaps, she thought, he was calling her to join him.

- THE END -