Page twenty-seven


Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall

Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall

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Caught in the riptide of her anger, Thomasina Moore was powerless to stop herself.

"…Here the tree of us suppose to be traveling together and she just ups and leaves, ruining the rest of the trip for the two of us. And after all the time I spent seeing to it everything would be just right!" (Which was true. The woman devoted the better part of the year to planning for the cruise—which each year took them to a different set of islands. She had the time, not having worked since her show business days. Her dead husband, a dentist, who had been taken with her color, had indulged her shamelessly, treating her as if she were all the children they had never had.)

"…No decent person’d do a thing like this. Why she’s no better come to think of it than some bun on a Hundred Twenty-fifth Street, never mind the airs she gives herself. But she never had me fooled. Oh, no, this is one boot she couldn’t play for a fool. I could tell her airs were nothing but a front. Always knew she had it in her to pull somethin’ mean and low-down like this. Knew it!"

"That’s why," she cried, her suppressed fury at a new high, her breath sucked deep into the bony wells at her throat, her eyes convulsed. "That’s why if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: it…don’t…pay…to…go…no…place…with…niggers! They’ll mess up ever’ time!”

Unhurriedly, Avery Johnson bent and picked up first her gloves and then her pocketbook from the chair beside her. To her surprise she found she was smiling. A little faint, pleased, self-congratulatory smile, as if, instead of the insult, the woman had said something complimentary. It didn’t make sense. Yet the smile was, its warmth stealing across her…