Sample K28 from Sallie Bingham, "Moving Day," The Atlantic Monthly, 208: 5 (November, 1961), 63-65. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,011 words 525 (26.1%) quotesK28

Used by permission of Sallie Bingham.0010-1700

Sallie Bingham, "Moving Day," The Atlantic Monthly, 208: 5 (November, 1961), 63-65.

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Going downstairs with the tray , Winston wished he could have given in to Miss Ada , but he knew better than to do what she said when she had that little-girl look . There were times it wasn't right to make a person happy , like the times she came in the kitchen and asked know we don't keep peanut `` butter for a peanut butter sandwich . You in this house '' , he always told her . `` Why , Winston '' , she'd cry , `` I just now saw you eating it out of the jar '' ! ! But he knew how important it was for her to keep her figure .

In the kitchen , Leona , his little young wife , was reading the morning paper . Her legs hung down long and thin as she sat on the high stool .

`` Here '' , Winston said gently , `` what's these dishes doing not washed '' ? ? The enormous plates which had held Mr. Jack's four fried eggs and five strips of bacon were still stacked in the sink .

`` Leave me alone '' , Leona said . `` Can't you see I'm busy '' ? ? She looked at him impudently over the corner of the paper .

`` This is moving day '' , Winston reminded her , `` and I bet you left things every which way upstairs , your clothes all over the floor and the bed not made . Leona '' ! ! His eye had fastened on her leg ; ; bending , he touched her knee . `` If I catch you one more time down here without stockings '' --

She twitched her leg away . `` Fuss , fuss , old man '' . She had an alley cat's manners .

Winston stacked Miss Ada's thin pink dishes in the sink . Then he spread out the last list on the counter . `` To Be Left Behind '' was printed at the top in Miss Ada ; ; fine hand . Winston took out a pencil , admired the point , and wrote slowly and heavily , `` Clothes Stand '' .

Sighing , Leona dropped the paper and stood up . `` I guess I better get ready to go '' .

Winston watched her fumbling to untie her apron . `` Here '' . Carefully , he undid the bow . `` How come your bows is always cockeyed '' ? ?

She turned and put her arms around his neck . `` I don't want to leave here , Winston '' .

`` Now listen to that '' . He drew back , embarrassed and pleased . `` I thought you was sick to death of this big house . Said you wore yourself out , cleaning all these empty rooms '' .

`` At least there is room here '' , she said . `` What room is there going to be in an apartment for any child '' ? ?

`` I told you what Miss Ada's doctor said '' .

`` I don't mean Miss Ada ! ! What you think I care about that ? ? I mean our children '' . She sounded as though they already existed .

In spite of the hundred things he had on his mind , Winston went and put his arm around her waist . `` We've got plenty of time to think about that . All the time in the world . We've only been married four years , January '' .

`` Four years '' ! ! She wailed . `` That's a long time , waiting '' .

`` How many times have I told you '' -- he began , and was almost glad when she cut him off -- `` Too many times '' ! ! -- and flounced to the sink , where she began noisily to wash her hands .

Too many times was the truth of it , Winston thought . He hardly believed his reason himself any more . Although it had seemed a good reason , to begin with : no couple could afford to have children .

`` How you going to work with a child hanging on you '' ? ? He asked Leona . `` You want to keep this job , don't you '' ? ? He doubted whether she heard him , over the running water .

He sat for a while with his hands on his knees , watching the bend of her back as she gathered up her things -- a comb , a bottle of aspirin -- to take upstairs and pack . She made him sad some days , and he was never sure why ; ; it was something to do with her back , the thinness of it , and the quick , jerky way she bent . She was too young , that was all ; ; too young and thin and straight .

`` Winston '' ! !

It was Mr. Jack , bellowing out in the hall . Winston hurried through the swinging door . `` I've been bursting my lungs for you '' , Mr. Jack complained . He was standing in front of the mirror , tightening his tie . He had on his gray tweed overcoat and his city hat , and his brief case lay on the bench . `` I don't know what you think you've been doing about my clothes '' , he said . `` This coat looks like a rag heap '' .

There were a few blades of lint on the shoulder . Winston took the clothesbrush out of the closet and went to work . He gave Mr. Jack a real going-over ; ; he brushed his shoulders and his back and his collar with long , firm strokes . `` Hey '' ! ! Mr. Jack cried when the brush tipped his hat down over his eyes .

Winston apologized and quickly set the hat right . Then he stood back to look at Mr. Jack , who was pulling on his pigskin gloves . Winston enjoyed seeing him start out ; ; he wore his clothes with style . When he was going to town , nothing was good enough -- he had cursed at Winston once for leaving a fleck of polish on his shoelace . At home , he wouldn't even wash his hands for supper , and he wandered around the yard in a pair of sweaty old corduroys . The velvet smoking jackets , pearl-gray , wine , and blue , which Miss Ada had bought him hung brushed and unworn in the closet .

`` Good-by , Winston '' , Mr. Jack said , giving a final set to his hat . `` Look out for those movers '' ! ! Winston watched him hurry down the drive to his car ; ; a handsome , fine-looking man it made him proud to see .

After Mr. Jack drove away , Winston went on looking out the window . He noticed a speck of dirt on the sill and swiped at it with his finger . Then he looked at his finger , at the wrinkled , heavy knuckle and the thick nail he used like a knife to pry up , slit , and open . For the first time , he be sad about the move . That house was ten years off his life let himself . Each brass handle and hinge shone for his reward , and he knew how to get at the dust in the china flowers and how to take down the long glass drops which hung from the chandelier . He knew the house like a blind man , through his fingers , and he did not like to think of all the time and rags and polishes he had spent on keeping it up .

Ten years ago , he had come to the house to be interviewed . The tulips and the big pink peonies had been blooming along the drive , and he had walked up from the bus almost singing . Miss Ada had been out back , in a straw hat , planting flowers . She had talked to him right there , with the hot sun in his face , which made him sweat and feel ashamed . Winston had been surprised at her for that . Still , he had liked the way she had looked , in a fresh , neat cotton dress -- citron yellow , if he remembered . She had had a dignity about her , even barefoot and almost too tan .

Since then , the flowers she had planted had spread all over the hill . Already the jonquils were blooming in a flock by the front gate , and the periwinkles were coming on , blue by the porch steps . In a week the hyacinths would spike out . And the dogwood in early May , for Miss Ada's alfresco party ; ; and after that the Japanese cherries . Now the yard looked wet and bald , the trees bare under their buds , but in a while Miss Ada's flowers would bloom like a marching parade . She had dug a hole for each bulb , each tree wore a tag with her writing on it ; ; where would she go for her gardening now ? ? Somehow Winston didn't think she'd take to window boxes .

Sighing , he hurried to the living room . He had a thousand things to see to . Still , he couldn't help thinking , we're all getting old , getting small ; ; the snail is pulling in her horns .

In the living room , Miss Ada was standing by the window with a sheaf of lists in her hand . She was looking out at the garden .

`` Winston '' , she said , `` get the basket for the breakables '' .

Winston had the big straw basket ready in the hall . He brought it in and put it down beside her . Miss Ada was looking fine ; ; she had on her Easter suit , blue , with lavender binding . Halfway across the house , he could have smelled her morning perfume . It hung in all her day clothes , sweet and strong ; ; sometimes when he was pressing , Winston raised her dresses to his face .

Frowning , Miss Ada studied the list . `` Well , let's see . The china lemon tree . The alabaster cockatoo '' . Winston followed her around the room , collecting the small frail objects ( Christmas , birthday , and anniversary ) and wrapping them in tissue paper . Neither of them trusted the movers .

When they came to Mr. Jack's photograph , twenty by twelve inches in a curly silver frame , Miss Ada said , `` By rights I ought to leave that , seeing he won't take my clotheshorse '' . She smiled at Winston , and he saw the hateful hard glitter in her eyes . He picked up the photograph and began to wrap it .

`` At least you could leave it for the movers '' , Miss Ada said . `` What possessed you to tell me a clotheshorse would be a good idea '' ? ?

Winston folded the tissue paper carefully . `` He's used it every day ; ; every morning , I lay out his clothes on it '' .

`` Well , that's over now . And it was his main present ! ! Leave that fool picture out '' , she added sharply .

Winston laid it in the basket . `` Mr. Jack sets store by that '' .

`` Really , Winston . It was meant to be my present '' . But she went on down the list .

Winston was relieved ; ; those presents had been on his mind . He had only agreed with Miss Ada about getting the valet , but he had actually suggested the photograph to Mr. Jack . `` You know what she likes , Winston '' , he had said wearily , one evening in November when Winston was pulling off his overshoes . `` Tell me what to get her for Christmas '' .

`` She's been talking about a picture '' , Winston had told him .

`` Picture ! ! You mean picture of me '' ? ? But Winston had persuaded him .

On Christmas night , they had had a disagreement about it . Winston had heard because he was setting up the liquor tray in the next room . Through the door , he had seen Mr. Jack walking around , waiting for Miss Ada . Finally she had come down ; ; Winston had heard her shaking out the skirt of her new pink silk hostess gown .

`` How do you like it '' ? ? She had asked .

Mr. Jack had said , `` You look about fifteen years old '' .

`` Is that a compliment '' ? ?

`` I don't know '' . He had stood at a little distance , studying her , as though he would walk around next and look at the back of her head .

`` Lovie , you make me feel naked '' . Miss Ada had giggled , and she went sweeping and rustling to the couch and sank down .

`` You look like that picture I have at the office '' , Mr. Jack had started . `` Not a line , not a wrinkle . I look like an old man , compared '' , and he had picked up his photograph with the red Christmas bow still on it . `` Look , an old man . Will you wear pink when you're sixty '' ? ?

`` Darling , I love that photograph . I'm going to put it on my dresser '' .

`` I guess it's children make a woman old . A man gets old anyhow '' . After a minute he went on , `` People must think the curse is on me , seeing you fresh as an apple and me old and gray '' .

`` I'll give you a medical certificate , framed , if you like '' , Miss Ada had said .

`` No . All I want is a picture -- with a few lines . Make the man put them in if he has to '' .

After that they had sat for five minutes without saying a word . Then Miss Ada had stood up , rustling and rustling , and gone upstairs .