Edit Originally published in and reprinted in The Best Stories of Wilbur Daniel Steele This is not an easy story, not a road for tender or for casual feet. Better the meadows. He lived in one of those old Puritan sea towns where the strain has come down austere and moribund, so that his act would not be quite unbelievable. Except that the town is no longer Puritan and Yankee. It has been betrayed; it has become an outpost of the Portuguese islands. This man, this blind cobbler himself, was a Portuguese, from St.
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Edit Originally published in and reprinted in The Best Stories of Wilbur Daniel Steele This is not an easy story, not a road for tender or for casual feet. Better the meadows. He lived in one of those old Puritan sea towns where the strain has come down austere and moribund, so that his act would not be quite unbelievable. Except that the town is no longer Puritan and Yankee.
It has been betrayed; it has become an outpost of the Portuguese islands. This man, this blind cobbler himself, was a Portuguese, from St. Michael, in the Western Islands, and his name was Boaz Negro. He was happy. An unquenchable exuberance lived in him. When he arose in the morning he made vast, as it were uncontrollable, gestures with his stout arms.
He came into his shop singing. His voice, strong and deep as the chest from which it emanated, rolled out through the doorway and along the street, and the fishermen, done with their morning work and lounging and smoking along the wharfs, said, "Boaz is to work already.
One sees the interior always dimly thronged. They sit on the benches watching the artisan at his work for hours, and they talk about everything in the world. A cobbler is known by the company he keeps. Boaz Negro kept young company. He would have nothing to do with the old. On his own head the gray hairs set thickly. He had a grown son. Hearkening to their boasts and strong prophecies, his breast heaved and his heart beat faster. He was a large, full-blooded fellow, fashioned for exploits; the flame in his darkness burned higher even to hear of them.
It is scarcely conceivable how Boaz Negro could have come through this much of his life still possessed of that unquenchable and priceless exuberance; how he would sing in the dawn; how, simply listening to the recital of deeds in gale or brawl, he could easily forget himself a blind man, tied to a shop and a last; easily make of himself a lusty young fellow breasting the sunlit and adven- turous tide of life.
He had had a wife, whom he had loved. Fate, which had scourged him with the initial scourge of blindness, had seen fit to take his Angelina away. He had had four sons. Three, one after another, had been removed, leaving only Manuel, the youngest. Recovering slowly, with infinite agony, from each of these recurrent blows, his unquenchable exuberance had lived.
And there was another thing quite as extraordinary. He had never done anything but work, and that sort of thing may kill the flame where an abrupt catastrophe fails. Work in the dark. Work, work, work! And accompanied by privation; an almost miserly scale of personal economy. Yes, indeed, he had "skinned his fingers," especially in the earlier years. When it tells most.
How he had worked! Not alone in the daytime, but also, some- times, when orders were heavy, far into the night. It was strange for one, passing along that deserted street at midnight, to hear issuing from the black shop of Boaz Negro the rhythmical tap-tap-tap of hammer on wooden peg. Nor was that sound all: no man in town could get far past that shop in his nocturnal wandering unobserved. Now, because of this, he was what might be called a substantial man.
He owned his place, his shop, opening on the sidewalk, and behind it the dwelling house with trellised galleries upstairs and down. And there was always something for his son, a "piece for the pocket," a dollar, five, even a ten-dollar bill if he had "got to have it.
It was curious that he should be ignorant only of the one nearest to him. Not because he was physically blind. More, that is to say, of their hearts, their understandings, their idiosyncrasies, and their ultimate weight in the balance pan of eternity.
Manuel was not indeed too robust. How should he be vigorous when he never did anything to make him so? He never worked. Why should he work, when existence was provided for, and when there was always that "piece for the pocket"? Even a ten-dollar bill on a Saturday night! The missteps and frailties of everyone else in the world were canvassed there with the most shameless publicity.
But Boaz Negro was a blind man, and in a sense their host. Those reckless, strong young fellows respected and loved him. It was allowed to stand at that.
Manuel was "a good boy. That was Campbell Wood. And Wood never sat in that shop. In every small town there is one young man who is spoken of as "rising. He had come from another part of the state to take a place in the bank. Dealing with Wood, one had first of all the sense of his in- corruptibility. A little ruthless perhaps, as if one could imagine him, in defense of his integrity, cutting off his friend, cutting off his own hand, cutting off the very stream flowing out from the wellsprings of human kindness.
An exaggeration, perhaps. He was by long odds the most eligible young man in town, good- looking in a spare, ruddy, sandy-haired Scottish fashion, important, incorruptible, "rising. Precisely that; like a sharp-eyed duenna to his own heart. One felt that here was the man, if ever was the man, who held his destiny in his own hand. Failing, of course, some quite gratuitous and unforeseeable catastrophe.
Not that he was not human, or even incapable of laughter or passion. He was, in a way, immensely accessible. He never clapped one on the shoulder; on the other hand, he never failed to speak. Not even to Boaz. Returning from the bank in the afternoon, he had always a word for the cobbler. Passing out again to supper at his boarding place, he had another, about the weather, the prospects of rain. And if Boaz was at work in the dark when he returned from an evening at the Board of Trade, there was a "Good night, Mr.
This was because he was an uneducated fellow. To the uneducated the idea of large finance is as uncomfortable as the idea of the law. Nevertheless his whole parental soul was in arms that evening when, returning from the bank and finding the shop empty of loungers, Wood paused a moment to propose the bit of advice al- ready referred to. He sat silent, monumental. He hated Wood; he despised Wood; more than ever before, a hundredfold more, quite abruptly, he distrusted Wood.
How could a man say such things as Wood had said? And where Manuel himself might hear! Where Manuel had heard! Sitting in darkness, no sound had come to his ears, no footfall, no infinitesimal creaking of a floor plank.
Yet by some sixth uncanny sense of the blind he was aware that Manuel was standing in the dusk of the entry joining the shop to the house.
Boaz made a Herculean effort. He seemed uncomfortable. Boaz heard exclamations, breathings, the rustle of sleeve cloth in large, frantic, and futile graspings— all without understanding. Immediately there was an impact on the floor, and with it the unmistakable clink of metal. Boaz even heard that the metal was minted, and that the coins were gold. He under- stood. And Manuel had heard! It was a dreadful moment for Boaz, dreadful in its native sense, as full of dread.
It was a moment of horrid revelation, ruthless clarification. His son, his link with the departed Angelina, that "good boy"— Manuel, standing in the shadow of the entry, visible alone to the blind, had heard the clink of falling gold, and— and Boaz wished that he had not!
There, amazing, disconcerting, destroying, stood the sudden fact. He scarcely took the sense of what Wood was saying. Only fragments.
To what one of those minds, now, would it occur that he should take away that money bodily, under casual cover of his coat, to his own lodgings behind the cobbler shop of Boaz Negro? For this one, this important, night! He was sorry the coin sack had slipped, because he did not like to have the responsibility of secret sharer cast upon anyone, even upon Boaz, even by accident.
On the other hand, how tremendously fortunate that it had been Boaz and not another.
‘Play’ And ‘Footfalls’ – Theatre Review
Masochistically enjoyable. Viewing two Beckett plays one after another is like being plunged into an ice bath not once but twice. Rather daunting but with the benefit of hindsight a cathartic experience. Short plays never paired together before but they complement each other perfectly.
Synopsis[ edit ] The play is in four parts. Each opens with the sound of a bell. After this the lights fade up to reveal an illuminated strip along which a woman, May, paces back and forth, nine steps within a one-metre stretch. In each part, the light will be somewhat darker than in the preceding one.
Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby by Samuel Beckett, Royal Court, review
Footfalls and Play