lunes, 7 de marzo de 2011

Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather (1935)

Title: Lucy Gayheart
Author: Willa Cather (1935)




BOOK I



1


In Haverford on the Platte the townspeople still talk of Lucy
Gayheart. They do not talk of her a great deal, to be sure; life
goes on and we live in the present. But when they do mention her
name it is with a gentle glow in the face or the voice, a
confidential glance which says: "Yes, you, too, remember?" They
still see her as a slight figure always in motion; dancing or
skating, or walking swiftly with intense direction, like a bird
flying home.

When there is a heavy snowfall, the older people look out of their
windows and remember how Lucy used to come darting through just
such storms, her muff against her cheek, not shrinking, but giving
her body to the wind as if she were catching step with it. And in
the heat of summer she came just as swiftly down the long shaded
sidewalks and across the open squares blistering in the sun. In
the breathless glare of August noons, when the horses hung their
heads and the workmen "took it slow," she never took it slow.
Cold, she used to say, made her feel more alive; heat must have had
the same effect.

The Gayhearts lived at the west edge of Haverford, half a mile from
Main Street. People said "out to the Gayhearts'" and thought it
rather a long walk in summer. But Lucy covered the distance a
dozen times a day, covered it quickly with that walk so peculiarly
her own, like an expression of irrepressible light-heartedness.
When the old women at work in their gardens caught sight of her in
the distance, a mere white figure under the flickering shade of the
early summer trees, they always knew her by the way she moved. On
she came, past hedges and lilac bushes and woolly-green grape
arbours and rows of jonquils, and one knew she was delighted with
everything; with her summer clothes and the air and the sun and the
blossoming world. There was something in her nature that was like
her movements, something direct and unhesitating and joyous, and in
her golden-brown eyes. They were not gentle brown eyes, but
flashed with gold sparks like that Colorado stone we call the
tiger-eye. Her skin was rather dark, and the colour in her lips
and cheeks was like the red of dark peonies--deep, velvety. Her
mouth was so warm and impulsive that every shadow of feeling made a
change in it.

Photographs of Lucy mean nothing to her old friends. It was her
gaiety and grace they loved. Life seemed to lie very near the
surface in her. She had that singular brightness of young beauty:
flower gardens have it for the first few hours after sunrise.

We missed Lucy in Haverford when she went away to Chicago to study
music. She was eighteen years old then; talented, but too careless
and light-hearted to take herself very seriously. She never
dreamed of a "career." She thought of music as a natural form of
pleasure, and as a means of earning money to help her father when
she came home. Her father, Jacob Gayheart, led the town band and
gave lessons on the clarinet, flute, and violin, at the back of his
watch-repairing shop. Lucy had given piano lessons to beginners
ever since she was in the tenth grade. Children liked her, because
she never treated them like children; they tried to please her,
especially the little boys.

Though Jacob Gayheart was a good watchmaker, he wasn't a good
manager. Born of Bavarian parents in the German colony at
Belleville, Illinois, he had learned his trade under his father.
He came to Haverford young and married an American wife, who
brought him a half-section of good farm land. After her death he
borrowed money on this farm to buy another, and now they were both
mortgaged. That troubled his older daughter, Pauline, but it did
not trouble Mr. Gayheart. He took more pains to make the band boys
practise than he did to keep up his interest payments. He was a
town character, of course, and people joked about him, though they
were proud of their band. Mr. Gayheart looked like an old
daguerreotype of a minor German poet; he wore a moustache and
goatee and had a fine sweep of dark hair above his forehead, just a
little grey at the sides. His intelligent, lazy hazel eyes seemed
to say: "But it's a very pleasant world, why bother?"

He managed to enjoy every day from start to finish. He got up
early in the morning and worked for an hour in his flower garden.
Then he took his bath and dressed for the day, selecting his shirt
and necktie as carefully as if he were going to pay a visit. After
breakfast he lit a good cigar and walked into town, never missing
the flavour of his tobacco for a moment. Usually he put a flower
in his coat before he left home. No one ever got more satisfaction
out of good health and simple pleasures and a blue-and-gold band
uniform than Jacob Gayheart. He was probably the happiest man in
Haverford.

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