Authors: Donald Harington
“Was he one of her beaux?” she will ask.
“No, he was a man who was wrongfully sent to the penitentiary because of her.”
“Law, me,” she will say. “You’d think she’d of tole me somethin about that, wouldn’t you? But no, she never said no word about no Nail Chism.”
She’ll shake her head at the mild wonder of it and ask conversationally, “Did he ever git out?”
“He got out,” I’ll tell her.
Now will I even need to say that Doc Swain was right: they will live happy ever after? Do I have to tell the rest of it, let you know whether or not they will actually get married? Or how many children they will have? Or about the times when Viridis will get bored and lonely and restless? Or the bad years that all of us had together? Will I have to mention the droughts and the floods and the fires?
And should I tell how Nail Chism will eventually, with poetic justice, become Newton County’s first electrician? Although by the time poor Newton County finally gets around to being electrified, won’t Nail Chism be too old even to remember the fundamentals of electrical mechanics?
No, I will think back to the picture I began this story with: a red-haired newspaperlady sitting in the death chamber at the state penitentiary and sketching a head-shaved convict waiting to die. The making of that sketch was what started the saving of him, and started this story, and I will let this story end with another sketch by Viridis, which she will show me that afternoon: a dale of green pasture grasses, so many shades of green that even though she has done them all in black and white, I will feel the many greens, the white bodies of the sheep dazzling in their whiteness because of the green that surrounds them, their heads down to eat the green, while a man in a straw hat and blue denim overalls plays his harmonica and watches them, and sitting close beside him a woman draws the whole scene in a sketchbook held in her lap: the man and the sheep and the dale and, out across the dale, far off up on the lilting mountain above the village, a farmplace that is their home, beneath a fat maple and a gangling walnut, both singing. But the woman in the picture will have already finished drawing that: now she adds a final touch, with her kneaded eraser she makes room for the final touch: a girl, not quite yet a woman, walking through the green grass out among the sheep, coming to join the man and the woman, and to be in the picture, forevermore.
About the Author
lthough he was born and raised in Little Rock, Donald Harington spent nearly all of his early summers in the Ozark mountain hamlet of Drakes Creek, his mother’s hometown, where his grandparents operated the general store and post office. There, before he lost his hearing to meningitis at the age of twelve, he listened carefully to the vanishing Ozark folk language and the old tales told by storytellers.
His academic career is in art and art history and he has taught art history at a variety of colleges, including his alma mater, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he has been lecturing for fifteen years. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife Kim, although his
resides forever at Stay More.
His first novel,
The Cherry Pit
, was published by Random House in 1965, and since then he has published eleven other novels, most of them set in the Ozark hamlet of his own creation, Stay More, based loosely upon Drakes Creek. He has also written books about artists.
He won the Robert Penn Warren Award in 2003, the Porter Prize in 1987, the Heasley Prize at Lyon College in 1998, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame in 1999 and that same year won the Arkansas Fiction Award of the Arkansas Library Association. He has been called “an undiscovered continent” (Fred Chappell) and “America’s Greatest Unknown Novelist” (Entertainment Weekly).
Table of Contents