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The death was a peaceful passing that sent a silent sorrow among the families.
They buried Old Grace in the orchard, for there was nowhere else to place her,
and it was said by Mr. Kindly that from then on the orchard could only bear the
sweetest fruit. And it did.
    After the burial the families gathered at Mr. Kindly’s house. The house was
no bigger than the others, but it somehow managed to fit every person. They
had tea to soothe, pudding to comfort and biscuits to liven up; and fruit for
there was plenty. The fare lifted their spirits and lightened their sorrow. They
spoke fondly of Old Grace and laughed at her foibles, and some even
remembered to praise her soul for its kindness, how warm and generous she
had been, how wise and understanding. Now that she could no longer shame
them, everyone agreed that it had been a wise decision to carry her and the
boy along when they left the old town.
    Argwings watched them from across the street, feeling the warmth of their
kind words and wishing Old Grace were there to share it with him. He did not
want tea, he did not want pudding and he was not hungry for biscuits or fruit.
He sat in his doorway staring at the grey street. The cobblestones were not
blue that day and there were no colourful streaks in their sky. The sun had not
risen that morning and Argwings feared it would never rise again.
    Through Mr. Kindly’s window the families saw Argwings alone by the
doorway to Old Grace’s house and agreed that he should be left to mourn in
his own way. Some time after Mr. Kindly called Miriam and asked her to take the
boy for a walk. He knew she was the only person who could make him smile.
    The families watched through the window as Miriam walked across the road,
took Argwings by the hand and led him away. Mr. Kindly then called their
attention and suggested that they discuss what to do with the boy. Argwings
had never been without Old Grace. Now that she was gone and he was on his
own, he would need someone to look after him. Some were for sending him
back to the old town and others were for leaving him alone to fend for himself.
    “I’ll tell you what we will not do,” Mr. Kindly told them. “We’ll not send the
boy away. We promised Old Grace we’d never leave him alone.”
There were different ideas and suggestions made, but none could be decided
on.
    Some women wanted to take him in and keep him for their own but their
husbands did not agree. One of these women, Mrs. Asumpta, raised her hand
to speak. She had only one child and always wanted more, but could not have
them.
    “I would be happy to take Argwings as my own,” she said. “I only have Jon
to care for and there would be more than enough room.”
    A low murmur filled the room. Those who liked the idea quickly agreed that
hers would be the best home for Argwings. But Mr. Asumpta did not think that
another son was what his wife needed and what of his son, Jon?  What if she
should start caring more for Argwings than for his own son?
    Mr. Asumpta only had to place his hand on his wife’s shoulder. She
immediately excused herself and said that perhaps it would not be possible for
Argwings to be her child. He was a fine child, she admitted, but, as they all
knew, not an ordinary boy.
    The situation resembled that of the other families. The kind women had not
so kind husbands, and kind men had not so kind wives. Mr. Kindly himself
would have loved for Argwings to be his son, but he had other children of his
own, besides Miriam, and his wife was not the kindest of women.
    The families sipped their tea and tried not to worry about the boy. They had
promised the old woman that they would look after him and knew they could
not leave without deciding his fate. Finally Mr. Asumpta cleared his throat.
    “I know that we promised Old Grace,” he said. “But we didn’t know that she
would go and die so soon.”
    "Or what a big problem it would be,” added Mr. Broker.
    “Do we have to adopt him?” asked Mr. Cashin.
    “Well, what do you suggest?” asked Mr. Kindly.
    Mr. Cashin had no suggestion. He did well with arguments, never with
solutions. He sipped his tea. The families sat quietly sipping their own.         
Mrs. Asumpta rose from her seat.
    “I suggest,” she said, “that we all take Argwings into our homes. Every
family shall take Argwings in for a week.”
    She exchanged a glance with her husband.
    “That way,” she continued, “we’ll all share the burden.”
    Everyone was amazed at the simplicity and the brilliance of the suggestion.
They voted in favour, finished their tea, their pudding, and their biscuits, and
went home.
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HM Books cover of Argwings and the Lamplighters by Nyaruai Mwangi
HM Productions Intl.                                                                                                     All Rights Reserved
copyright 2008 by HM Entertainment Inc.
Book Code:    ATL
KSh. 300
ARGWINGS AND THE LAMPLIGHTERS

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