O Henry, American short story writer of the late 19th century, seemingly has a yarn for every occasion. Consider the drama of Miss Tonia Weaver, whose new Easter hat is sitting on a freight train that has been delayed 48 hours.
“Now, if one supposes that Easter, the Goddess of Spring, cares any more for the after-church parade on Fifth Avenue than she does for her loyal outfit of subjects that assemble at the meeting-house at Cactus, Tex, a mistake has been made. The wives and daughters of the ranchmen of the Frio country put forth Easter blossoms of new hats and gowns as faithfully as is done anywhere, and the Southwest is, for one day, a mingling of prickly pear, Paris, and paradise. And now it was Good Friday, and Tonia Weaver’s Easter hat blushed unseen in the desert air of an impotent express car, beyond the burned trestle. On Saturday noon the Rogers girls, from the Shoestring Ranch, and Ella Reeves, from the Anchor-O, and Mrs Bennet and Ida, from Green Valley, would convene at the Espinosa and pick up Tonia. With their Easter hats and frocks carefully wrapped and bundled against the dust, the fair aggregation would then merrily jog the ten miles to Cactus, where on the morrow they would array themselves, subjugate man, do homage to Easter, and cause jealous agitation among the lilies of the field.”
Tonia is distraught. But she drops a hint to her two suitors, cowman Wells Pearson and sheepman Thompson Burrows, that hats are probably in stock at the store at Lone Elm crossing, 28 miles away.
At which each sets out on horseback. At the store they buy the last two hats – identical red straw cartwheels trimmed with white roses (Miss Weaver likes red), three years out of fashion. Then they race back.
As they reach the approach to Espinosa ranch, Burrows’s horse is badly blown. Pearson laughs and sets off on the final gallop. In desperation, Burrows fires a shot which hits Pearson in the shoulder and stuns his horse.
Pearson eventually stumbles to Espinosa on his groggy horse, where he finds Miss Weaver furious about the flat cartwheel hat with white roses that Burrows has given her. The hat he has is all out of shape and the roses are soaked in blood. She snatches it from him in delight and invites him to come to church with her next day.
“What have you been doing, Pearson?” asked Daddy Weaver. “You ain’t looking so well as common.”
“Me?” said Pearson. “I’ve been painting flowers. Them roses was white when I left Lone Elm. Help me down, Daddy Weaver, for I haven’t got any more paint to spare.”
IT’S PLEASING that botanist Roddy Ward has been honoured for his contribution to science in KwaZulu-Natal. I don’t think there’s anyone who can tell you more about the Zululand dune forests, the shifting shoreline, the grasslands – in fact any part of the province – than Roddy. He reads what is about him as if it were a familiar book.
I first met him many years ago when there was a kerfuffle over planned mining of the coastal dunes at Mapelane, south of St Lucia. Seldom have I encountered anyone with such an easy way of imparting knowledge based on the most complex research. His students at Salisbury Island University College were indeed fortunate.
Roddy is one of the pioneers who, through organisations such as the old Natal Parks Board (for which he also worked for a time), the Oceanographic Research Institute and the Wildlife Society, have placed today’s KwaZulu-Natal so advantageously in an age where conservation is valued probably as never before.
MORE on the phantom electricity switcher-off and switcher-on, as detailed in yesterday’s column.
A disconnection notice has now surfaced in my postbox. It is addressed to a close corporation which apparently operates six properties away from mine, in the same street.
Yes, the council people had disconnected the wrong property (mine).
My street number was in characters almost a foot high on the wall immediately above the fusebox where the disconnection was made.
Mama mia! Would spectacles help? Unfortunately, I think not.
A HAPPY and blessed Easter to one and all.
What’s invisible and smells like carrots?
The Ether Bunny
Things are more like they are now than they ever were before. – Dwight D Eisenhower