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

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

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