It was December—a bright frozen day in the early morning. Far out in the nation tright here was an old Negro woguy through her head tied in a red rag, coming alengthy a route with the pinewoods. Her name was Phoenix Jackkid. She was incredibly old and also small and also she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, relocating a small from side to side in her procedures, with the well balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock. She carried a thin, tiny cane made from an umbrella, and also through this she preserved tapping the frozen earth in front of her. This made a grave and persistent noise in the still air that seemed meditative, like the chirping of a solitary bit bird. She wore a dark striped dress getting to down to her shoe tops, and an equally lengthy apron of bleached sugar sacks, through a full pocket: all neat and tidy, yet eextremely time she took a step she can have fallen over her shoelaces, which dragged from her unlaced shoes. She looked directly ahead. Her eyes were blue through age. Her skin had actually a pattern all its very own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a entirety bit tree stood in the middle of her forehead, yet a gold color ran underneath, and also the 2 knobs of her cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the dark. Under the red rag her hair came dvery own on her neck in the frailest of ringallows, still babsence, and also through an odor like copper. Now and then there was a quivering in the thicket. Old Phoenix sassist, "Out of my method, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and also wild animals! ... Keep out from under these feet, bit bob-whites ... Keep the huge wild hogs out of my route. Don"t let none of those come running my direction. I obtained a lengthy method." Under her small black-freckled hand her cane, limber as a buggy whip, would switch at the brush as if to rousage up any type of hiding points. On she went. The woods were deep and also still. The sunlight made the pine needles almost also bright to look at, up wbelow the wind rocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers. Dvery own in the hollow was the mourning dove—it was not as well late for him. The path ran up a hill. "Seem choose there is chains around my feet, time I obtain this much," she said, in the voice of argument old human being keep to usage with themselves. "Somepoint always take a organize of me on this hill—pleads I need to continue to be." After she gained to the height, she turned and provided a full, severe look behind her wright here she had come. "Up through pines," she sassist at length. "Now dvery own via oaks." Her eyes opened their widest, and she started dvery own gently. But prior to she got to the bottom of the hill a bush recorded her dress. Her fingers were busy and also intent, yet her skirts were full and long, so that before she might pull them totally free in one location they were captured in an additional. It was not possible to allow the dress to tear. "I in the thorny bush," she shelp. "Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never before desire to let folks pass—no, sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush." Finally, trembling anywhere, she stood complimentary, and after a moment dared to stoop for her cane. "Sun so high!" she cried, leaning ago and also looking, while the thick tears reviewed her eyes. "The time getting all gone right here." At the foot of this hill was a place wright here a log was laid throughout the creek. "Now comes the trial," said Phoenix. Putting her right foot out, she mounted the log and shut her eyes. Lifting her skirt, leveling her cane fiercely before her prefer a festival number in some parade, she started to march across. Then she opened up her eyes and she was safe on the various other side. "I wasn"t as old as I believed," she shelp. But she sat dvery own to rest. She spreview her skirts on the financial institution approximately her and also folded her hands over her knees. Up over her was a tree in a pat an early stage cloud of mistletoe. She did not dare to close her eyes, and also when a small boy brought her a plate through a slice of marble-cake on it she spoke to him. "That would be acceptable," she shelp. But when she visited take it there was simply her own hand in the air. So she left that tree, and had actually to go via a barbed-wire fence. There she had actually to creep and also crawl, spreading her knees and also stretching her fingers favor a baby trying to climb the procedures. But she talked loudly to herself: she might not let her dress be torn now, so late in the day, and she can not pay for having actually her arm or her leg sawed off if she acquired recorded fast where she was. At last she was safe through the fence and climbed up out in the clearing. Big dead trees, like babsence guys through one arm, were standing in the purple stalks of the withered cotton area. Tright here sat a buzzard. "Who you watching?" In the furrow she made her means alengthy. "Glad this not the seachild for bulls," she said, looking sidemeans, "and also the excellent Lord made his snakes to curl up and sleep in the winter. A pleasure I do not view no two-headed snake coming about that tree, where it come when. It took a while to obtain by him, back in the summer." She passed through the old cotton and entered a area of dead corn. It whispered and also shook, and also was taller than her head. "Thstormy the maze now," she said, for there was no path. Then there was something tall, babsence, and skinny tright here, relocating before her. At first she took it for a male. It can have actually been a male dancing in the field. But she stood still and also listened, and also it did not make a sound. It was as silent as a ghost. "Ghold," she said sharply, "that be you the ghost of? For I have actually heard of nary death cshed by." But there was no answer, just the ragged dancing in the wind. She shut her eyes, got to out her hand also, and touched a sleeve. She discovered a coat and also inside that an emptiness, cold as ice. "You scarecrow," she shelp. Her challenge lighted. "I should be shut up for excellent," she sassist through laughter. "My senses is gone. I also old. I the oldest civilization I ever recognize. Dance, old scarecrow," she said, "while I dancing through you." She kicked her foot over the furrow, and also with mouth attracted down shook her head as soon as or twice in a tiny strutting means. Some husks blew down and also whirled in streamers about her skirts. Then she went on, parting her method from side to side through the cane, with the whispering field. At last she involved the end, to a wagon track wright here the silver grass blew between the red ruts. The quail were walking around prefer pulallows, seeming all dainty and unchecked out. "Walk pretty," she sassist. "This the simple area. This the basic going." She adhered to the track, swaying via the quiet bare fields, through the little strings of trees silver in their dead leaves, past cabins silver from weather, via the doors and windows boarded shut, all like old woguys under a spell sitting tright here. "I walking in their sleep," she said, nodding her head vigorously. In a ravine she went where a spring was silently flowing via a hollow log. Old Phoenix bent and drank. "Sweet gum makes the water sweet," she shelp, and drank even more. "Nobody understand that made this well, for it was right here as soon as I was born." The track crossed a swampy part where the moss hung as white as lace from eincredibly limb. "Sleep on, alligators, and also blow your bubbles." Then the cypush trees went into the road. Deep, deep it went down between the high green-colored banks. Overhead the live oaks met, and it was as dark as a cave. A huge black dog with a lolling tongue came up out of the weeds by the ditch. She was meditating, and also not prepared, and as soon as he came at her she only hit him a small via her cane. Over she went in the ditch, favor a little puff of milkweed. Down tbelow, her senses drifted amethod. A dream visited her, and also she got to her hand also up, however nothing got to down and also offered her a pull. So she lay tbelow and presently went to talking. "Old woman," she said to herself, "that black dog come up out of the weeds to stall you off, and also currently tbelow he sitting on his fine tail, smiling at you." A white man ultimately came along and also 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 favor a June bug waiting to be turned over, mister," she sassist, getting to up her hand also. He lifted her up, offered her a swing in the air, and set her down. "Anypoint damaged, Granny?" "No sir, them old dead weeds is springy sufficient," sassist Phoenix, when she had gained her breath. "I thank you for your trouble." "Wright here perform you live, Granny?" he asked, while the two dogs were growling at each other. "Ameans back yonder, sir, behind the ridge. You can not even check out it from right here." "On your method home?" "No sir, I going to town." "Why, that"s as well far! That"s as much as I walk as soon as I come out myself, and I obtain something for my trouble." He patted the stuffed bag he brought, and also tbelow hung dvery own a little closed cregulation. It was among the bobwhites, through its beak hooked bitterly to show it was dead. "Now you go on home, Granny!" "I bound to go to tvery own, mister," said Phoenix. "The time come around." He offered another laugh, filling the totality landscape. "I understand you old colored people! Wouldn"t miss going to tvery own to see Santa Claus!" But something held Old Phoenix exceptionally still. The deep lines in her challenge entered a fierce and various radiation. Without warning, she had actually watched through her own eyes a flashing nickel autumn out of the man"s pocket onto the ground. "How old are you, Granny?" he was saying. "Tbelow is no telling, mister," she said, "no telling." Then she provided a small cry and also clapped her hands and shelp, "Git on away from below, dog! Look! Look at that dog!" She laughed as if in admiration. "He ain"t scared of nobody. He a huge babsence dog." She whispered, "Sic him!" "Watch me remove that cur," sassist the guy. "Sic him, Pete! Sic him!" Phoenix heard the dogs fighting, and also heard the male running and throwing sticks. She also heard a gunswarm. But she was gradually bfinishing forward already, additionally and also better forward, the lids extended down over her eyes, as if she were doing this in her sleep. Her chin was lowered nearly to her knees. The yellow palm of her hand also came out from the fold of her apron. Her fingers slid down and along the ground under the piece of money via the grace and also care they would certainly have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen. Then she gradually straightened up; she stood erect, and also the nickel remained in her apron pocket. A bird flew by. Her lips relocated. "God watching me the totality time. I pertained to stealing." The man came back, and his very own dog panted about them. "Well, I scared him off that time," he shelp, and then he laughed and also lifted his gun and pointed it at Phoenix. She stood directly and challenged him. "Doesn"t the gun streatment you?" he sassist, still pointing it. "No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and also for less than what I done," she said, holding utterly still. He smiled, and shouldered the gun. "Well, Granny," he shelp, "you should be a hundred years old, and scared of nopoint. I"d give you a dime if I had actually any kind of money with me. But you take my advice and remain house, and also nopoint will occur to you." "I bound to go on my means, mister," shelp Phoenix. She inclined her head in the red rag. Then they went in various directions, however she might hear the gun shooting aacquire and also aobtain over the hill. She walked on. The shadows hung from the oak trees to the road choose curtains. Then she smelled timber smoke, and smelled the river, and also she experienced a steeple and also the cabins on their steep steps. Dozens of little black youngsters whirled approximately her. Tright here ahead was Natchez shining. Bells were ringing. She walked on. In the paved city it was Christmas time. Tright here were red and also green electrical lights strung and crisscrossed all over, and all turned on in the daytime. Old Phoenix would certainly have actually been shed if she had not distrusted her eyesight and also depended on her feet to recognize wbelow to take her. She pasupplied quietly on the sidewalk, where world were passing by. A lady came alengthy in the crowd, moving an armful of red, green, and also silver-wrapped presents; she gave off perfume favor the red roses in warm summer, and Phoenix stopped her. "Please, missy, will certainly you lace up my shoe?" She hosted up her foot. "What execute you desire, Grandma?" "See my shoe," shelp Phoenix. "Do all ideal for out in the country, but wouldn"t look right to go in a big structure." "Stand still then, Grandma," sassist the lady. She put her packperiods dvery own on the sidewalk next to her and also laced and tied both shoes tightly. "Can"t lace "em with a cane," shelp Phoenix. "Thank you, missy. I does not mind asking a nice lady to tie up my shoe, once I gets out on the street." Moving progressively and also from side to side, she entered the substantial structure, and also right into a tower of measures, wbelow she walked up and about and also around until her feet kbrand-new to soptimal. She entered a door, and also there she observed nailed up on the wall the document that had actually been stamped via the gold seal and also framed in the gold frame, which matched the dream that was hung up in her head. "Here I be," she sassist. Tbelow was a resolved and also ceremonial stiffness over her body. "A charity situation, I expect," shelp an attendant that sat at the desk prior to her. But Phoenix only looked over her head. There was sweat on her challenge, the wrinkles in her skin shone prefer a bappropriate net. "Soptimal up, Grandma," the woguy sassist. "What"s your name? We should have your history, you understand. Have you been below before? What appears to be the trouble with you?" Old Phoenix just provided a twitch to her challenge as if a fly were bothering her. "Are 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 grandchild. She renders these trips simply as continual as clockwork-related. She lives away ago off the Old Natchez Trace." She bent down. "Well, Aunt Phoenix, why don"t you simply take a seat? We will not store you standing after your long trip." She pointed. The old woguy sat down, bolt upbest in the chair. "Now, exactly how is the boy?" asked the nurse. Old Phoenix did not soptimal. "I said, just how is the boy?" But Phoenix only waited and stared right ahead, her challenge very solemn and withdrawn into rigidity. "Is his throat any type of better?" asked the nurse. "Aunt Phoenix, do not you hear me? Is your grandson"s throat any kind of better because the last time you came for the medicine?" With her hands on her knees, the old woguy waited, silent, erect and motionmuch less, just as if she were in armor. "You mustn"t take up our time this way, Aunt Phoenix," the nurse said. "Tell us conveniently about your grandchild, and acquire it over. He isn"t dead, is he?" At last tbelow came a flicker and then a flame of comprehension across her challenge, and she spoke. "My grandchild. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and also foracquired why I made my lengthy expedition." "Forgot?" The nurse frowned. "After you came so far?" Then Phoenix was choose an old womale begging a dignified forgiveness for waking up frightened in the night. "I never before did go to school—I was as well old at the Surrender," she sassist in a soft voice. "I"m an old woguy without an education. It was my memory fail me. My little bit grandson, he is simply the very same, and also I foracquired it in the coming." "Throat never heals, does it?" shelp the nurse, speaking in a loud, certain voice to Old Phoenix. By currently she had actually a card with something created on it, a tiny list. "Yes. Swallowed lye. When was it?—January—two—3 years ago—" Phoenix spoke unasked now. "No, missy, he not dead, he simply the very same. Eexceptionally little while his throat start to cshed up aacquire, and he not able to swpermit. He not obtain his breath. He not able to assist himself. So the moment come roughly, and I go on one more pilgrimage for the soothing-medication." "All appropriate. The doctor sassist as lengthy as you came to acquire it, you can have actually it," shelp the nurse. "But it"s an obstinate situation." "My little grandchild, he sit up there in the residence all wrapped up, waiting by himself," Phoenix went on. "We is the only two left in the civilization. He endure and it do not seem to put him back at all. He got a sweet look. He going to last. He wear a little patch-quilt and also peep out, holding his mouth open up favor a tiny bird. I remembers so simple currently. I not going to foracquire him again, no, the totality enduring time. I can tell him from all the others in production." "All appropriate." The nurse was trying to hush her currently. She carried her a bottle of medicine. "Charity," she shelp, making a check mark in a book. Old Phoenix held the bottle cshed to her eyes, and then closely put it right into her pocket. "I thank you," she shelp. "It"s Christmas time, Grandma," said the attendant. "Could I give you a few pennies out of my purse?" "Five pennies is a nickel," shelp Phoenix stiffly. "Here"s a nickel," shelp the attendant. Phoenix increased carefully and also organized out her hand also. She received the nickel and also then fimelted the other nickel out of her pocket and laid it next to the brand-new one. She stared at her palm very closely, via her head on one side. Then she provided a tap with her cane on the floor. "This is what concerned me to do," she sassist. "I going to the keep and also buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to discover it difficult to believe tright here such a thing in the human being.

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I"ll march myself back wright here he waiting, holding it right up in this hand." She lifted her totally free hand also, provided a tiny nod, turned approximately, and also walked out of the doctor"s office. Then her slow-moving action began on the stairs, going dvery own.