A White Bird Flying by Bess Streeter Aldrich

A White Bird Flying

byBess Streeter Aldrich

Kobo ebook | June 6, 2013

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It was the first Tuesday in August. The Nebraska heat rolled in upon one like the engulfing waves of a dry sea,--a thick material substance against which one seemed to push when moving about. Two women, standing by the back porch of a house in the north end of Cedartown, commented wearily.
The one, gingerly holding between her thumb and forefinger an egg which she had borrowed from the other, made feeble attempts to pull herself away.
"Too hot to bake. . . ."
"I'll say."
After an interim of dull silence, she effected the threatened withdrawal, and started down the path toward her home. But she had not gone a dozen feet until she stopped, turned back, and called to the other in the low mysterious tones of the chronic tale-bearer: "For the land sakes! Look there. There goes Laura Deal. I do believe she's goin' over to her grandmother's house the same as she always did."
And the other, in equally semi-excited voice (it takes little to bring on an animated conversation in the north ends of the Cedartowns of the country): "Yes, sir! She is. Did you ever! And her grandmother just buried day before yesterday."
For a time the two stood watching the young girl pass by and down the elm-shaded road, but when she approached the gate of the house to the north and turned toward it, they were looking discreetly at a petunia bed. Their conversation, however, was not of those funnel-shaped blossoms.
"She's turnin' in the little gate and goin' up the path between the cedars. Do you suppose she's goin' in the house?"
"On my word, I believe she is. And they ain't a soul there . . . not a soul. Christine Reinmueller even took the cat home with her when she come over to feed the chickens."
"That twelve-year-old girl . . ."
". . . is the oddest."
"You'd think she'd kind of . . ."
". . . at her age."
"Just day before yesterday . . ."
". . . buried."
Neither one made a complete sentence nor waited for the other to speak. Their conversation was rather a duet, the parts similar and in perfect rhythm.
"She's got the key . . ."
". . . all by herself."
"Well, on my soul!"
". . . kind of spooky."
Laura Deal, having unlocked the side door of the old house behind the cedars and disappeared from view, the two loitered expectantly for a time; but when she did not reappear, they reluctantly returned to their labors, with special attention to the sweeping of east porches.
Laura softly opened the side door of her dead grandmother's house, stepped in, closed the door gently, and stood with her back to it.
The hot afternoon sunshine lay in long streaks across the floor of the sitting-room with the cross shadows of the window-casings in them. There was a faint odor of flowers in the air--roses and tube-roses and the cinnamon-like odor of carnations. It was deathly still. A fly bumbling against the pane with little bumping noises was the only sound in the house. The clock was not even ticking. Everything was just as Grandma Deal had left it. The old chintz-covered couch in one corner had Grandma's shawl folded neatly over the back. The rocking-chairs were in their places. A little square stand with a red spread on it held the church papers and seed catalogues and an old song book, and on the mantel shelf were the two flowered vases and the turkey-feather fan. Not a thing looked different. Everything seemed just as it had the week before when Grandma was going in and out, putting away the eggs and washing her dishes and sorting poppy seed into paper folders. On Friday morning she had done all her work and called them up on the telephone. In the afternoon she had visited with the grocery boy and called to Mrs. Johnson to come over and get some turnips any time she wanted them. Mrs. Curtis had seen her reading the newspaper on the screened porch--and then when old Christine Reinmueller had come over about supper time, she was gone. Gone. Gone where?

Title:A White Bird FlyingFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:June 6, 2013Publisher:WDS PublishingLanguage:English

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