1 A white man finally came along and found her a hunter, a young man, with his dog on a chain. "Well, Granny!" he laughed. "What are you doing there?" "Lying on my back like a June -bug waiting to be turned over, mister," she said, reaching up her hand. He lifted her up, gave her a swing in the air, and set her down. "Anything broken, Granny?" "N o sir, them old dead weeds is springy enough," said Phoenix, when she had got her breath. "I thank you for your trouble." "Wh ere do you live, Granny?" he asked, while the two dogs were growling at each other. "A way back yonder, sir, behind the ridge. You can't even see it from here." "O n your way home?" "N o sir, I going to town."
2 A white man finally came along and found her a hunter, a young man, with his dog on a chain. "L ying on my back like a June-bug waiting to be turned over, mister," June-bug = June beetle them old dead weeds is springy enough "Whe re do you live, Granny?" I going to town. town "Wh y, that's too far! That's as far as I walk when I come out myself, and I get something for my trouble." He patted the stuffed bag he carried, and there hung down a little closed claw. It was one of the bobwhites, with its beak hooked bitterly to show it was dead. "Now you go on home, Granny!" "I b ound to go to town, mister," said Phoenix. "The time come around." He gave another laugh, filling the whole landscape. "I know you old colored
3 people! Wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus!" But something held Old Phoenix very still. The deep lines in her face went into a fierce and different radiation. Without warning, she had seen with her own eyes a flashing nickel fall out of the man's pocket onto the ground. "H ow old are you, Granny?" he was saying. "Th ere is no telling, mister," she said, "no telling." Then she gave a little cry and clapped her hands and said, " Git on away from here, dog! Look! Look at that dog!" She laughed as if in admiration. "He ain't scared of nobody. He a big black dog." She whispered, "Sic him!" "Watch me get rid of that cur," said the man. "Sic him, Pete! Sic him!" It was one of the bobwhites, with its beak hooked bitterly to show it was dead. "N ow you go on home, Granny!" I bound to go to town = I am bound to go to town ts61-soi. "Th "S e time come around." o the time come around, and I go on another trip for the soothing-medicine." Wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus! = (You) wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus! The deep lines in her face went into a fierce and different radiation.
4 Phoenix heard the dogs fighting, and heard the man running and throwing sticks. She even heard a gunshot. But she was slowly bending forward by that time, further and further forward, the lids stretched down over her eyes, as if she were doing this in her sleep. Her chin was lowered almost to her knees. The yellow palm of her hand came out from the fold of her apron. Her fingers slid down and along the ground under the piece of money with the grace and care they would have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen. Then she slowly straightened up; she stood erect, and the nickel was in her apron pocket. A bird flew by. Her lips moved. "God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing." The man came back, and his own dog panted about them. "Well, I scared him off that time," he said, and then he laughed and lifted his gun and pointed it at Phoenix. Her fingers slid down and along the ground under the piece of money with the grace and care they would have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen. "G od watching me the whole time. I come to stealing."
5 She stood straight and faced him. "D oesn't the gun scare you?" he said, still pointing it. "N o, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done," she said, holding utterly still. He smiled, and shouldered the gun. "Well, Granny," he said, "you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing. I'd give you a dime if I had any money with me. But you take my advice and stay home, and nothing will happen to you." "I b ound to go on my way, mister," said Phoenix. She inclined her head in the red rag. Then they went in different directions, but she could hear the gun shooting again and again over the hill. I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done. "you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing." I'd give you a dime if I had any money with me a dime
6 7-9 A 1-17 She walked on. The shadows hung from the oak trees to the road like curtains. Then she smelled wood smoke, and smelled the river, and she saw a steeple and the cabins on their steep steps. Dozens of little black children whirled around her. There ahead was Natchez shining. Bells were ringing. She walked on. In the paved city it was Christmas time. There were red and green electric lights strung and crisscrossed everywhere, and all turned on in the daytime. Old Phoenix would have been lost if she had not distrusted her eyesight and depended on her feet to know where to take her.
7 She paused quietly on the sidewalk, where people were passing by. A lady came along in the crowd, carrying an armful of red, green, and silver-wrapped presents; she gave off perfume like the red roses in hot summer, and Phoenix stopped her. "Pl ease, missy, will you lace up my shoe?" She held up her foot. "Wh at do you want, Grandma?" " S ee my shoe," said Phoenix. " Do all right for out in the country, but wouldn't look right to go in a big building."
8 "Stand still then, Grandma," said the lady. She put her packages down on the sidewalk beside her and laced and tied both shoes tightly. "Can't lace 'em with a cane," said Phoenix. "Thank you, missy. I doesn't mind asking a nice lady to tie up my shoe, when I gets out on the street."
9 7-9A 1-19 Moving slowly and from side to side, she went into the big building, and into a tower of steps, where she walked up and around and around until her feet knew to stop. She entered a door, and there she saw nailed up on the wall the document that had been stamped with the gold seal and framed in the gold frame, which matched the dream that was hung up in her head. "Here I be," she said. There was a fixed and ceremonial stiffness over her body. "A cha rity case, I suppose," said an attendant who sat at the desk before her. But Phoenix only looked above her head. There was sweat on her face, the wrinkles in her skin shone like a bright net. "Speak up, Grandma," the woman said. "What's your name? We must have your history, you know. Have you been here before? What seems to be the trouble with you?" Old Phoenix only gave a twitch to her face as if a fly were bothering her. "A re you deaf?" cried the attendant. But then the nurse came in. "Oh, that's just old Aunt Phoenix," she said. "She doesn't come for herself she has a little grandson. She makes these trips just as regular as clockwork. She lives away back off the Old Natchez Trace." She bent down. " Well, Aunt
10 Phoenix, why don't you just take a seat? We won't keep you standing after your long trip." She pointed.
11 The old woman sat down, bolt upright in the chair. Now, how is the boy?" asked the nurse. Old Phoenix did not speak. "I said, how is the boy?" But Phoenix only waited and stared straight ahead, her face very solemn and withdrawn into rigidity. "Is his throat any better?" asked the n urse. "Aunt Phoenix, don't you hear me? Is your grandson's throat any better since the last time you came for the medicine?" With her hands on her knees, the old woman waited, silent, erect and motionless, just as if she were in armor. "Y ou mustn't take up our time this way, Aunt Phoenix," the nurse said. "Tell us quickly about your grandson, and get it over. He isn't dead, is he?" At last there came a flicker and then a flame of comprehension across her face, and she spoke. "M y grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my long trip." "F orgot?" The nurse frowned. "After you came so far?"
12 TlX Then Phoenix was like an old woman begging a dignified forgiveness for waking up frightened in the night. "I never did go to school I was too old at the Surrender," F21 she said in a soft voice. "I'm an old woman without an education. It was my memory fail me. My little grandson, he is just the same, and I forgot it in the coming." "Throat never heals, does it?" said the nurse, speaking in a loud, sure voice to Old Phoenix. By now she had a card with something written on it, a little list. "Yes. Swallowed lye. When was it? January two three years ago " Phoenix spoke unasked now. "No, missy, he not dead, he just the same. Every little while his throat begin to close up again, and he not able to swallow. He not get his breath. He not able to help himself. So the time come around, and I go on another trip for the soothing-medicine." "All right. The doctor said as long as you came to get it, you could have it," said the nurse. "But it's an obstinate case."
13 "My little grandson, he sit up there in the house all wrapped up, waiting by himself," Phoenix went on. "We is the only two left in the world. He suffer and it don't seem to put him back at all. He got a sweet look. He going to last. He wear a little patch-quilt and peep out, holding his mouth open like a little bird. I remembers so plain now. I not going to forget him again, no, the whole enduring time. I could tell him from all the others in creation." "All right." The nurse was trying to hush her now. She brought her a bottle of medicine. "Charity," she said, making a check mark in a book. Old Phoenix held the bottle close to her eyes, and then carefully put it into her pocket.
14 "I th ank you," she said. "It' s Christmas time, Grandma," said the attendant. "Could I give you a few pennies out of my purse?" "Fi ve pennies is a nickel," said Phoenix stiffly. "H ere's a nickel," said the attendant. Phoenix rose carefully and held out her hand. She received the nickel and then
15 fished the other nickel out of her pocket and laid it beside the new one. She stared at her palm closely, with her head on one side. Then she gave a tap with her cane on the floor. "This is what come to me to do," she said. "I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world. I'll march myself back where he waiting, holding it straight up in this hand." She lifted her free hand, gave a little nod, turned around, and walked out of the doctor's office. Then her slow step began on the stairs, going down.
19 Appel, Jr., Alfred. A Season of Dreams: The Fiction of Eudora Welty (Louisiana State University Press, 1965). Butterworth, Nancy K. "From Civil War to Civil Rights: Race Relations in Welty's
20 'A W orn Path. Dawn Trouard. ed. Eudora Welty: Eye of the Storyteller (Kent State University Press, 1989). Lewis, C. S. The Four Loves (Harcourt, Brace, 1960).
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