On Monday I was in the garden already at sunrise. Today, Toddy was to take his atonement flower booklet to Miss Mayton, and I solemnly promised that no effort would be spared to make her arrangement as beautiful as possible. I carefully inspected every flower border and stage, every private flower, so that I finally had their possibilities as fully clear as I would have made a list of them with ink and pen. After I had done this, I negotiated with the maid about my sisters ’costumes. He subjected their entire inventory of costumes to my review, and after carefully examining all of them, I chose the ones the boys had to wear in the afternoon. Then I informed the maid,
“Let me know when you want to leave, sir, and I’ll start an hour earlier,” he said. “Only then can you be assured that they will not bring you shame.”
For breakfast, we had, among other things, stewed oysters, which were eaten from deep plates.
“Oh Todd,” Willy exclaimed, “now we have turtle plates again – oh, how much fun!”
“Oh, turtle rafts,” Toddy clarified.
“What the hell do you mean, boys?” I asked.
“I’ll show you,” Willy said, jumping down from her chair and carrying her oyster tray gently toward me. “Put your head under my plate and look up, then you’ll see a turtle.”
For a moment I forgot I wasn’t in the restaurant, grabbed the plate, lifted it, and inspected its bottom.
“There,” Willy said, pointing to the factory stamp, a multicolored trademark. “Can’t you see the turtle?”
I immediately ordered Willy to his seat, numb to Toddy’s remark that –
“There are turtles on the road, but they don’t take the stalks forward like other turtles.”
After breakfast, I paid all my attention to myself. My clothing store has never felt so poor and poorly equipped; I’ve never been wounded so many times while riding a beard, I’ve never worn such untidy shoe ink. Finally, in desperation, I gave up all attempts to perform great and devoted my time and thoughts to a bouquet of flowers. I picked so many flowers that they could have adorned the entire church and mercilessly rejected every one that wasn’t quite perfect.
“Hajji uncle,” Toddy said, “are there so many beautiful flowers in the sky?
What angels on the road were otherwise playing with, if not on the flower bed.”
“Harry’s uncle,” Willy said, “as the leaves move up and down and flutter, do they speak to the wind in the silo?”
“I – I think so, my son.”
“Who are you doing this attack on, Harry Uncle?” Willy asked.
“To one lady, Miss Mayton, the same one who saw us so clay yesterday,” I said.
“Oh, I like him,” Willy said. “She’s so pretty and cute – just like a cake – just like she tastes good – oh, I love her so much, don’t you ?”
“Yes, I have great respect for him, Willy.”
“Respect? What do you mean by respect?”
“Yeah, I mean, she’s a great woman – a very nice woman – the most beautiful woman in the world – just the kind of person I want to see every day and more gracefully than anyone else.”
“So well, then respect means the same as love, doesn’t it mean, Harry Uncle?”
“Willy,” I said suddenly quickly, “run to ask Maggie for a piece of string – fast!”
“Yes,” Willy said as he left; “But that means, doesn’t it?”
At two o’clock I told Maggi to dress up my nephew and at three o’clock we left for a visit. It wasn’t easy to carry Toddy’s flower book and at the same time hold on to both boys so they wouldn’t get into the bush looking for locusts or catching butterflies on a field plot, but I did it happily. As we approached Clarkson boarding school, I felt my hat on one ear and my scarf crooked, but I couldn’t fix them as I saw Alice Mayton on the porch and felt like she saw me. I gave Toddy a bouquet of flowers and promised him three pieces of breast sugar if he was careful not to drop it. So we entered the garden. The moment we came inside the hedge and Toddy saw the man carrying the lawnmower across the grass field, he shouted:
“Oh, there’s a lawn mower over there!” and excitedly dropped a bouquet of flowers. I snatched it in my hand before it fell to the ground, forced that inappropriate young man to step on, greeted Miss Mayton, and told Toddy to hand the bouquet to her. This he happily accomplished, but when Miss Mayton thanked him and bowed down to kiss her, he slid down the porch like a little eel, shouting “come on!” to his brother and a moment later my nephews followed the lawnmower in the aftermath at a respectful distance.
“Those are my sister’s best children in the world, Miss Mayton,” I said.
“Those little men!” replied Miss Mayton, “I find it so fun to see children having fun.”
“So am I,” I said, “when I am not responsible for their welfare; but if I had directed all the efforts I have made for these boys to safeguard the interests of my masters, then those gentlemen of honor could regard me as invaluable.”
Miss Mayton answered something, and we sat down happily to discuss common acquaintances, books, paintings, music, and gossip from our social circle. I could have gladly discussed Herbert Spencer’s system, the Assyrian clay tablets, or any other nasty thing, and felt that his presence multiplied everything many times over. Beautiful, sensible, calm, sensually dressed, despising the flirtation and the usual satiety of life in his company, he aroused all my masculine admiration. But oh! Maybe I didn’t deserve such great joy because it ended up so short. There were other women in full-time care at Clarkson and, as Miss Mayton rightly pointed out the first time we met, men were quite rare in Hillcrest. The women came, of course, by chance, on the porch and each of them was presented to me and the usual courtesy did not allow me to address Miss Mayton more than once in ten minutes. Every other time and on all other occasions, the company of so many women would have been extremely pleasing to me, but now—
Suddenly a collective cry echoed from the grass field, and all the women jumped to their feet. I followed their example and bit my teeth firmly and cruelly, hoping that one of my siblings who had been injured there would have been injured really badly. We saw Toddy running towards us hand in mouth as Willy ran beside him, consoling:
“Toddy parka ! Don’t cry! Does it touch hard? Don’t be at all. Uncle Harry comforts you. Don’t cry, Toddy honey !”
The boys had reached the porch and climbed the stairs as Willy explained:
“Oh Harry Uncle, Toddy put his finger on the small wheel of the lawn mower and it only moved quite, very little, and that touched him.”
But Toddy ran up to me, grabbed my leg and sobbed:
“Sing Toddy where you got into.”
My blood solidified. I could have strangled that terrible child to death, even though he seemed to be suffering. I bowed to him, caressed him, promised him breast sugar, took out my watch and let him play with it, but he just kept repeating his same request. One of the girls, the simplest of the crowd, offered to tie a finger, and deep down I blessed her, but Toddy just asked with one stubbornness, “Toddy where he got where,” and sobbed miserably.
“What can he mean by that?” asked Miss Mayton.
“He wants Uncle Harry to sing him a song that starts with,‘ Ken knows where he ended up, ’” Willy announced. “He wants this song to be sung whenever he’s hurt himself in any way.”
“Oh, sing it to him, Mr. Burton,” Miss Mayton asked, and all the other women asked, “Oh, sing.”
Angrily, I lifted Toddy into my arms and hummed the tone of the song in question.
“Sprout in a rocking chair,” Toddy sobbed.
I obeyed; and then my temptation said:
“Don’t sing the songs – I want you to sing the songs.”
I uttered the words as quietly as possible with his lips stuck in his ear, but he shouted:
“I can’t do more, Toddy,” I said in despair.
“Oh, uncle, I’ll read it to you completely,” Willy said.
And there, to an audience of his face had to sing my song brings too early after the phrase by phrase Willy. My teeth clenched tightly, my forehead wet I watched Toddy, and horrible thoughts crisscrossed my brain. No one laughed – I was so desperate that even the slightest burst of laughter would have felt a relief. Suddenly I heard someone whisper:
” Look how he likes the boy! The man is poloic! – he’s extremely worried about the little boy!”
If the song hadn’t ended naturally right now, I would have thrown my wounded niece over the porch railing. So I set her up and explained that we had to leave and I was already starting to say goodbye when Miss Mayton’s mother asked us to stay for dinner.
“As for myself, Mrs. Mayton, it would bring me joy,” I said, “but my nephews have hardly yet learned the ways of companionship. I’m afraid my sister would not forgive me if she found out that I had taken them to dinner.”
“Oh, I do take care of the little ones,” said Miss Mayton. “I’m sure they’ll be comfortable with me.”
“I couldn’t in any way be so unfriendly that I would let you try it,” I replied.
But he was unwavering and the joy I felt as I adapted to his will was so immense that I could have made him more exposed. Miss Mayton thus sat down at the dinner table with Willy on one side and Toddy on the other. Fortunately, my place was opposite them so that I could give them warning signs and eloquent glances. Broth was served. I signaled to the boys that they would put a napkin under their chin and then turned to address the lady sitting to my right. He politely bent his head at me, but his thoughts seemed to be elsewhere. As I followed her gaze, I saw my younger nephew holding his broth top up with his hands outstretched, resting his head on the table and his gaze fixedly facing up. I didn’t dare say a word, otherwise he would have dropped his plate.
“Oh-oh- my ferry is a turtle, the roof is Willy, my ferry is a turtle.”
Willy was about to lift his plate when he noticed my gaze and stopped. Miss Mayton was indeed embarrassed – if I knew, for the first time in her life. However, he soon reached his balance again and he treated that terrible boy with true Christian long-suffering and patience for the rest of the meal. After the dessert was eaten, Miss Mayton left apologetically, and I took Toddy to a quiet porch and taught him in a way that again caused him to start screaming miserably and I was forced to caress him and thus nullify the benefit of my rebuke. Then he and Willy went to the yard, and I waited for Miss Mayton to return to apologize for Toddy and say goodbye. The women living in Clarkson used to go for a walk right after dinner and linger until dusk; and just tonight they went two, three together, leaving me without witnesses to apologize. I was milt’en not sorry they left; the feeling that I was, in fact, responsible for my siblings ’distractions and that the conversation would in no way alleviate my conscience was not pleasant at first. It seemed to me that Miss Mayton lingered indefinitely; so I already invited the boys to the porch to have someone to talk to. that, in fact, I was responsible for my siblings ’distractions, and that the conversation would not in any way alleviate my conscience, was not pleasant at first. It seemed to me that Miss Mayton lingered indefinitely; so I already invited the boys to the porch to have someone to talk to. that, in fact, I was responsible for my siblings ’distractions, and that the conversation would not in any way alleviate my conscience, was not pleasant at first. It seemed to me that Miss Mayton lingered indefinitely; so I already invited the boys to the porch to have someone to talk to.
Suddenly Miss Mayton showed up and at that moment I earnestly blessed Toddy and the broth the child had made to go the way of the whole world. I would pay the price of a fine suit more willingly than I would try to describe how Miss Mayton was dressed. All I can say is that the way the dress, color, and embellishments of her dress fit her perfectly, being her own to enhance the beauty of her face, which before I had always found only pleasant and breathable. Perhaps the forgivable pity of Toddy’s unbridled powerlessness was part of the reason for the more plain color of his cheeks and the rare splendor of his eyes. Whatever the reason was, he looked royally sublime, and I half imagined noticing a pleasing flash on his face that I inadvertently shuddered at seeing him so unexpectedly. She listened to my apology on Toddy’s favor as a queen and then she sat down instead of proposing to leave behind other women, as I had hoped moments earlier. I also sat down at his request. The children should have been in bed half an hour ago, but my sense of responsibility had disappeared when Miss Mayton appeared. Those little junkies were calm until they did a new and unexpected villain job again. They had retreated to the other end of the porch and were tinkering with a large New Foundland dog, while I, the happiest man in the world, talked to the dazzling woman in front of me and enjoyed watching her radiant beauty. The twilight descended and deepened, but my imagination prevented that recent vision from fading. When it was dark and as the stars lit up in the sky, our voices diminished unnoticed, and his voice echoed like the most beautiful ring. And yet we did not say anything that the whole world could not have heard without having to suspect that there was some secret lurking in it. The women returned in small crowds, but either guided by feminine instinct or because of my unspoken but devotional prayer, they passed us and went inside. At the same time, I was in a state of desperate courage and despicable cowardice. I had decided to tell him everything, but I was more afraid than I had been afraid of when I left to attack. which the whole world could not have heard without having to suspect that there was a secret hidden in it. The women returned in small crowds, but either guided by feminine instinct or because of my unspoken but devotional prayer, they passed us and went inside. At the same time, I was in a state of desperate courage and despicable cowardice. I had decided to tell him everything, but I was more afraid than I had been afraid of when I left to attack. which the whole world could not have heard without having to suspect that there was a secret hidden in it. The women returned in small crowds, but either guided by feminine instinct or because of my unspoken but devotional prayer, they passed us and went inside. At the same time, I was in a state of desperate courage and despicable cowardice. I had decided to tell him everything, but I was more afraid than I had been afraid of when I left to attack.
Suddenly a small shadow appeared behind us that stopped between us and Willy’s voice said:
“Uncle Harry, do you know Miss Mayton?”
“Do you know me? – How so?” exclaimed Alice clapping my niece’s cheek.
“Willy!” I said — I almost found myself shouting — “Willy, you must not tell something that has been entrusted to you with complete confidence.”
“What do you mean, Willy?” repeated Miss Mayton; “You know the old saying, Mr. Burton: kids and crazy people are telling the truth. How would he not know me, Willy?”
“No, I don’t mean she doesn’t know you, but that she knows you. I know what it means, because I asked her. When people know something about you, they think you’re beautiful and they want to talk to you. with you and – ”
“The boy wants to say: feel respect, Miss Mayton,” I interrupted to prevent what I feared would follow. “Willy has a frightening ability to ask questions, and the result of a few questions this morning was that, to the best of my ability, I tried to explain what it means when a man feels respect for a woman.”
“Yes,” Willy continued, “I know it all, but Uncle Harry doesn’t say it right. What he says to feel is what I say to love .”
An embarrassing silence arose that seemed to last for eternity. The second time I was already ashamed and all because of those awful children. I couldn’t come up with a way to turn the conversation around. Even more marvelous was that Miss Mayton could not invent either. Something had to be done – after all, I can at least be straight, came what came, I have to be straight.
“Miss Mayton,” I said suddenly seriously but very quietly, “Willy is a Tongue Watcher, but he is a good interpreter nonetheless. has been going on for months. I – ”
“I’d like to talk a little,” Willy pointed out. “You talk all the time.
I, I, when I love something I kiss him.”
Miss Mayton shuddered, and my thoughts chased each other at amazing speed. He didn’t turn the conversation around – it was impossible to think he couldn’t . He was not angry, for then he would have said something. Was it possible that –
I bowed to him and acted on Willy’s advice. When she didn’t get upset, I repeatedly pressed my lips to her forehead, then she raised her head a little, and I saw, despite the darkness and shadows, that Alice Mayton had surrendered to mercy. I grabbed his hand and stretched out to my full length, I praised God more earnestly than I had ever praised in church. That’s when I heard Willy say, “I want to kiss you both,” and I saw the radiant Aliceni snatch that little villain in his arms and show him more affection than I would have thought possible for his character. He then kidnapped Toddy and forgave him many signs of his dose – I dare not think they were due to gratitude.
Suddenly a couple of three women appeared on the porch.
“Come on, boys,” I said. “So I’ll be picking you up for the ride tomorrow at three, Miss Mayton. Goodbye!”
“Goodbye,” replied the sweetest voice in the world. “I’m ready at three o’clock.”