Title Thumbnail

Paul Rundel

A Novel

201 pages
Library of Alexandria
FROM the window of her husband’s shop in the mountain-village of Grayson, Cynthia Tye stood peering out on the Square. She was tall, gaunt, and thin-so thin, in fact, that her fingers, pricked by her needle and gnarled at the joints, had a hold in energy only, as she pressed them down on her contourless hips. She had left her work in the living-room and kitchen back of the shop and come in to question the shoemaker as to what he wanted for his dinner, the boiling and stewing hour having arrived. Silas, whose sedentary occupation had supplied him with the surplus flesh his wife needed, and whose genial pate was as bald as an egg, save for a bare fringe of gray which overlapped his ears on the sides and impinged upon his shirt-collar behind, looked up and smiled broadly. “I wish you’d quit that, Cynthy. I really do.” Every outward and inward part of the man lent itself to his smile, the broad, clean-shaven Irish lip, the big, facile mouth, the almost wrinkleless pink cheeks, the clear, twinkling blue eyes, the besmirched goatee—in fact, all his rotund, satisfied self between his chin and the bench on which he sat shook like a mass of animated jelly. “Quit what?” She turned on him suddenly. “Why, quit always and eternally comin’ to me when I’m chock full o’ breakfast, and askin’ me what I want to eat for dinner. I can still taste my coffee. I reckon settin’ humped over this way between meals ain’t exactly accordin’ to nature in its best state. I’d ruther live in a boardin’-house and take what was served, hit or miss, than to digest a meal in my mind three hours before I eat it.” “Huh! I say!” Cynthia sniffed, “and what about me, who not only has to think about it beforehand, but has to pick it in the garden, git it ready for the pots, smell the fumes of it from daylight till dark, and worry all night for fear something, will sour or be ate up by the cat, dog, or chickens?” Silas laughed till his tools—last, hammer, and knife—rattled in his leather apron. “You got the best o’ that argument,” he chuckled, as he pressed the shoe he was repairing down between his fat knees, crossed his short feet, and reached for a box of nails which had fallen to the floor. Then his merriment ceased. He bent a tender glance on the woman and a gentle cadence crept into his voice: “The Lord knows you do have a hard time, Cynthy, an’ no jokin’. I wish thar was some way around it. I lie awake many and many a night just thinkin’ how happy me’n you’d be if we could take a trip off some’rs and not have nothin’ to bother about for one week anyway. What are you gazin’ at out thar so steady?”