Sample K26 from Jane Gilmore Rushing, "Against the Moon," The Virginia Quarterly Review, 37: 3 (Summer, 1961), 378-383. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,007 words 325 (16.2%) quotes 1 symbolK26

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Jane Gilmore Rushing, "Against the Moon," The Virginia Quarterly Review, 37: 3 (Summer, 1961), 378-383.

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But they all said , `` No , your time will come . Enjoy being a bride while you can '' .

There was no room for company in the tiny Weaning House ( where the Albright boys always took their brides , till they could get a house and a farm of their own ) . So when the Big House filled up and ran over , the sisters-in-law found beds for everyone in their own homes . And there was still not anything that Linda Kay could do .

So Linda Kay gave up asking , and accepted her reprieve . Without saying so , she was really grateful ; ; for to attend the dying was something she had never experienced , and certainly had not imagined when she thought of the duties she would have as Bobby Joe's wife . She had made curtains for all the windows of her little house , and she had kept it spotless and neat , shabby as it was , and cooked good meals for Bobby Joe . She had done all the things she had promised herself she would do , but she had not thought of this . People died , she would have said , in hospitals , or in cars on the highway at night .

Bobby Joe was gone all day now , not coming in for dinner and sometimes not for supper . When they first married he had been working in the fields all day , and she would get in the car and drive to wherever he was working , to take him a fresh hot meal . Now there was no work in the fields , nor would there be till it rained , and she did not know where he went . Not that she complained , or had any cause to . Four or five of the cousins from East Texas were about his age , so naturally they ran around together . There was no reason for her to ask what they did .

Thus a new pattern of days began to develop , for Granny Albright did not die . She lay still on the bed , her head hardly denting the pillow ; ; sometimes she opened her eyes and looked around , and sometimes she took a little milk or soup . They stopped expecting her to die the next minute , but only in the next day or two . Those who had driven hundreds of miles for the burial would not go home , for she might die any time ; ; but they might as well unpack their suitcases , for she might linger on .

So the pattern was established . When Linda Kay had put up her breakfast dishes and mopped her linoleum rugs , she would go to the Big House . There was not anything she could do there , but that was where everyone was , or would be . Bobby Joe and the boys would come by , say `` How's Granny '' ? ? And sit on the porch a while . The older men would be there at noon , and maybe rest for a time before they took their guns off to the creek or drove down the road towards town .

The women and children stayed at the Albrights' . The women , keeping their voices low as they worked around the house or sat in the living room , sounded like chickens shut up in a coop for the night . The children had to play away from the house ( in the barn loft or the pasture behind the barn ) , to maintain a proper quietness .

Off and on , all day , someone would be wiping at the powdery gray dust that settled over everything . The evaporative cooler had been moved to Granny's room , and her door was kept shut ; ; so that the rest of the house stayed open , though there was a question as to whether it was hotter or cooler that way .

The dust clogged their throats , and the heat parched them , so that the women were always making ice water . They had cleaned up an old ice box and begun to buy fifty-pound blocks of ice in town , as the electric refrigerator came nowhere near providing enough ice for the crowds who ate and drank there .

One afternoon , as the women sat clucking softly , a new carload of people pulled up at the gate . It was a Cadillac , black grayed with the dust of the road , its windows closed tight so you knew that the people who climbed out of it would be cool and unwrinkled . They were an old fat couple ( as Linda Kay described them to herself ) , a thick middle-aged man , and a girl about ten or twelve .

There was much embracing , much exclaiming . `` Cousin Ada ! ! Cousin John '' ! ! `` Cousin Lura '' ! ! `` Cousin Howard '' ! ! `` And how is she '' ? ? `` About the same , John , about the same '' .

All the women got up and offered their chairs , and when they were all seated again , the guests made their inquiries and their explanations .

`` We were on our vacation in Canada '' , Howard explained , in a muffled voice that must have been used to booming , `` and the news didn't catch up with us till we were nearly home . We came on as soon as we could '' .

There was the suggestion of ice water , and -- in spite of the protest `` We're not really thirsty '' -- Linda Kay , to escape the stuffy air and the smothering soft voices , hurried to the kitchen .

She filled a big pitcher and set it , with glasses , on a tray . Carrying it to the living room , she imagined the picture she made : tall and roundly slim , a bit sophisticated in her yellow sheath , with a graceful swingy walk that she had learned as a twirler with the school band . Almost immediately she was ashamed of herself for feeling vain , at such a time , in such a place , and she tossed back her long yellow hair , smiling shyly as she entered the room .

Howard ( the thick middle-aged man ) was looking at her . She felt the look and looked back because she could not help it , seeing that he was neither as old nor as thick as she had at first believed .

`` And who is this '' ? ? He asked , when she passed him a glass .

`` Oh that's Linda Kay '' , Mama Albright said fondly . `` She married our baby boy , Bobby Joe , this summer '' .

`` Let's see '' , Cousin Ada said . `` He's a right smart younger than the rest '' ? ?

`` Oh yes '' , Mama laughed . `` He's ten years younger than Ernest . We didn't expect him to come along ; ; thought for the longest he was a tumor '' .

This joke was not funny to Linda Kay , and she blushed , as she always did ; ; then , hearing the muffled boom of Howard's laughter , blushed redder .

`` Who is Howard , anyway '' ? ? She asked Bobby Joe that night . `` He makes me uncomfortable '' .

`` Oh he's a second cousin or something . He got in the oil business out at Odessa and lucked into some money '' .

`` How old is he '' ? ?

`` Gosh , I don't know . Thirty-five , I guess . He's been married and got this half-grown kid . If he bothers you , don't pay him any mind . He's just a big windbag '' . Bobby Joe was thinking about something else . `` Say , did you know they're fixing to have a two-day antelope season on the Double J '' ? ?

He was talking about antelope again when they woke up . `` Listen , I never had a chance to kill an antelope . There never was a season before , but now they want to thin 'em out on account of the drouth '' .

`` Did he ever visit here when he was a kid '' ? ? Linda Kay asked .

`` Who '' ? ?

`` Howard '' .

`` Hell , I don't know . When he was a kid I wasn't around '' .

Bobby Joe took a gun from behind the door , and with a quick `` Bye now '' was gone for the day .

Almost immediately Howard and his daughter Debora drove up in the Cadillac .

`` We're going after ice '' , Howard said , `` and thought maybe you'd go along and keep us company '' .

There was really no reason to refuse , and Linda Kay had never ridden in a Cadillac .

Driving along the caliche-topped road to town , Howard talked . Finally he said , `` Tell me about yourself '' , and Linda Kay told him , because she thought herself that she had had an interesting life . She was such a well-rounded teenager , having been a twirler , Future Farmers sweetheart , and secretary of Future Homemakers . In her sophomore year she had started going steady with Bobby Joe , who was a football player , Future Homemakers sweetheart , and president of Future Farmers . It was easy to see that they were made for each other , and they knew what they wanted . Bobby Joe would be a senior this year , and he planned to graduate . But there was no need for Linda Kay to go on , since all she wanted in life was to make a home for Bobby Joe and ( blushing ) raise his children .

Howard sighed . `` You lucky kids '' , he said . `` I'd give anything if I could have found a girl like you '' . Then he told Linda Kay about himself . Of course he couldn't say much , really , because of Debora , but Linda Kay could imagine what kind of woman his wife had been and what a raw deal he had got . It made her feel different about Howard .

She was going to tell Bobby Joe about how mistaken she had been , but he brought one of the cousins home for supper , and all they did was talk about antelope .

Bobby Joe was trying to get Linda Kay to say she would cook one if he brought it home .

`` Cook a whole antelope '' ? ? She exclaimed . `` Why , I couldn't even cook a piece of antelope steak ; ; I never even saw any '' .

`` Oh , you could . I want to roast the whole thing , and have it for the boys '' .

Linda Kay told him he couldn't do anything like that with his Grandma dying , and he said well they had to eat , didn't they , they weren't all dying . Linda Kay felt like going off to the bedroom to cry ; ; but they were going up to the Big House after supper , and she had to put on a clean dress and fix her hair a little .

Every night they all went to Mama and Papa Albright's , and sat on the open front porch , where they could get the breeze . It was full-of-the-moon ( or a little past ) , and nearly light as day . They all sat around and drank ice water , and the men smoked , and everybody had a good time . Once in a while they said what a shame it was , with Granny dying , but they all agreed she wouldn't have wanted it any other way .

That night the older men got to talking about going possum-hunting on a moonlight night . Bobby Joe and two or three of the other boys declared they had never been possum-hunting , and Uncle Bill Farnworth ( from Mama Albright's side of the family ) said he would just get up from there and take them , right then .

After they had left , some of the people moved around , to find more comfortable places to sit . There were not many chairs , so that some preferred to sit on the edge of the porch , resting their feet on the ground , and others liked to sit where they could lean back against the wall . Howard , who had been sitting against the wall , said he needed more fresh air , and took the spot on the edge of the porch where Bobby Joe had been sitting .

`` You'll be a darn sight more comfortable there , Howard '' , Ernest said , laughing , and they all laughed .

Linda Kay felt that she was not exactly more comfortable . Bobby Joe had been sitting close to her , touching her actually , and holding her hand from time to time , but it seemed at once that Howard sat much closer . Perhaps it was just that he had so much more flesh , so that more of it seemed to come in contact with hers ; ; but she had never been so aware of anyone's flesh before .

Still she was not sorry he sat by her , but in fact was flattered . He had become the center of the company , such stories he had to tell . He had sold oil stock to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in person ; ; he had helped fight an oil-well fire that raged six days and nights .