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Cover Library Short Stories The Fictile Word


Margaret Wilmot
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Once upon a time a lad came home from his travels, his cases overflowing. Out onto the cottage floor spilled bright silken shirts and shawls, a copper plate beaten with silver, an inlaid box, a delicate painting of dancing girls at the Mughal court. With a grin and a flourish he presented his aged, childlike granny with a tea-cosy in the shape of an elephant. It was embroidered in blue and bronze, with a richly patterned saddle-square and stripy trunk and ivory-threaded tusks; the small almond eye held a black pupil which suggested a long and patient tolerance of life. His granny laughed simply to look at it; she had never seen anything so wonderful. Clutching it against her chest, she carried it off to her little house down the road. The tired traveller stretched out on the couch by the fire and fell into a delicious sleep.

Quite forgetting to remove her coat, his granny sat down in her rocker with the beautiful elephant in her lap. She looked and loved with the same wonder that long ago she had felt for the tiny grandson in her arms, the same delight in that knowing eye gazing up at her. She stroked the blue-and-bronze saddle, touched the patterns down the stripy trunk, ran her fingers along the ivory-threaded tusks; as she smiled back into his patient, tolerant eye, it came to her all in a magical moment that Paul would love him too, as much as she did—she’d take him to Paul!

In a rush of excitement, she found a pencil and the back of a gas-bill. Quite forgetting that she hadn’t written anything for a long time, she managed to print, in straggly block capitals, FOR PAUL. Charged with the thrill of her loving impulse, she dashed back up the road.

Paul was deeply, satisfyingly asleep in front of the fire when he felt something odd. He opened startled eyes to find his granny laying the elephant on his chest, trying to place the paper on top so it wouldn’t slip off. But now he was awake, she burst out with the joy of it. It’s for you, Paul, look what I brought you!

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Copyright ©Margaret Wilmot, 2004
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Date of publicationAugust 2007
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