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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 119, No. 1 (July, 1931)

Dwyer, James Francis
Fireflies and the yellow moon,   p. 21 PDF (596.6 KB)


Page 21

JU L  Y,  1 9  3  1
I  lustration  by
LEON  BENIGNI
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Fantastic shapes, nightmare heads, swept by to the tom-tom beat of the music. Nanette had a wild desire to escape
RE FLI ES
AND
THE
YELLOW
by  JAME
MOON
S  FRAN CI
S
DWYE R
T was the smallest bird Nanette had ever seen upon a
dish. A bonne bouche pathetic to contemplate. It had
been grilled to a beautiful cinnamon tint, pinned to-
gether with a little silver skewer, laid upon a square of
toast, sprinkled with cognac and set on fire. With the
spectral flames of the burning brandy darting over bird
and toast, the fat waiter tramped pompously across the
sitting room of the Trask suite and laid the morsel before
Nanette.
The blue eyes of the girl examined the tidbit. The
waiter hovered near her chair.
"What is it?" asked the girl.
"Un petit oiseau, mademoiselle," answered the waiter.
"A leetle bird called grive, miss."
Nanette Trask regarded her offering. A vague feeling
of uneasiness had clutched her. Something about the
serving of the diminutive bird upset her. What painful
care had been exercised to pluck the trifle, grill it, bed it
on toast and serve it with blue flames darting over the
little skewered body!
"It is a dish for the gourmets," began the waiter.
"I-I don't think I like it," interrupted Nanette. "No,
nothing more, thank you. I am finished."
She slipped from the table, crossed the room and dis-
appeared through a door leading to the bedroom of her
mother.
The fat waiter, much surprised, carried the small
bird away.
Nanette's mother, Mrs. Mannington Trask, was in
bed, propped up by many pillows. Straddling her couch,
was a huge invalid's tray. A glance at it told Nanette that
her mother had led her by a full course. The fragments
of a bird, obviously a near relative to the little grive that
Nanette had refused, had just been pushed aside by the
elder woman.
"Why, my dear child!" cried Mrs. Trask. "You surely
have not finished your lunch?"
"Yes, mother," answered the girl. "I have finished."
Nanette Trask walked to the window and looked out.
Directly below was the Promenade des Anglais, a curving
bow that ran from Pont Magnan to the Quai des Etats-
Unis. Upon it moved droves of hivernants; time-killers
who found their task a tiresome one.
She listened to her mother crunching a small bone.
Mrs. Trask had evidently retrieved a morsel from the
thrust-aside plate. Nanette wondered if the fat waiter
would bring her grive to Mrs. Trask. She hoped he would
not. She was a little sad about the bird. She felt that it
had some strange connection with herself. That was
ridiculous of course.
To take her mind from unpleasant thoughts she
hummed a little verse that she had used many times as a
poetic broom to sweep morbid imaginings from her mind:
"In the harbor, in the island, in the Spanish Seas,
Are the tiny white houses and the oranges trees,
And day-long, night-long, the cool and pleasant
breeze
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing."
"Please don't, child!" cried Mrs. Trask. "You know
very well that I am always depressed by Masefield.
Didn't you eat your lunch?"
"I ate the hors d'euvres."
"Not the little bird?"
"No, mother."
"Why, dearest?"
"It-it seemed- Oh, I don't know! It-it seemed
too much like me."
" IKE you?" The voice of Mrs. Trask leaped upon the
L assertion. "You silly girl! What do you mean?"
Nanette turned from the window. "I-I don't know,"
she said helplessly. "It seemed so small and pitiful. With
all-all the fuss about serving it up. Sort of trousseau of
chopped chives, silver skewer, flaming cognac, and that
( 21    )
The love story of an American girl
abroad, facing an unhappy marriage
while the Riviera held gay carnival
great ogre of a waiter. It-it was like me! There!"
The "ogre" tapped discreetly at the door and thrust
himself into the room with a new dish for Mrs. Trask.
He looked rather apprehensively at Nanette.  Mrs.
Trask was a little afraid that "dear Francois" had heard
the name applied to him by her daughter. She thought
that Nanette at times was a little unbalanced. She, Mrs.
Trask, would be very pleased when the wedding cere-
mony was over.
Nanette had turned again to the window. While the
fat Francois whispered about the c6tklettcs de veau d la
provengale the girl chanted softly:
"And o' nights there's fireflies and the yellow moon,
And in the ghostly palm trees the sleepy tune
Of the quiet voice calling me, the long low croon
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing."
Oh, fine was that little broom of poesy! It chased
away black thoughts and brought little pictures. More
than pictures. Much more than pictures. At times the
things mentioned in the poem-the things for which
Nanette longed-appeared before her. Now,as shestared
across the purplish-blue plain of water that ran away to
Africa, she saw them. On little legs they came towards
the Promenade. The tiny white houses; the orange
trees, the yellow moon, and the ghostly palms! They
ran inshore and beckoned to her.  (Turn to page 60)
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