Mr Paxton went down to the river. It was late on a spring evening. He went without looking back–at the house, where the Old Man held like a clam to the greater proportion of corridors and hait-furnished rooms–at the bright window above the back-door that was frame to the midwife’s busyings. He walked with purpose, and nervously. Tall irises, machete-shaped, fell under his feet.

At that hour, the Old Man saw his friends. Something in the acid blue of the air, the yellow irises like lights on the river, the smell of blossom, intoxicated the Old Man and made him think of his youth. His arms rose and fell, as if he were conducting. He bowed to his friends Molly and Pam and rushed them to the window, so they could see the stars stiched above the vague apartment blocks, blocks of darker colour round the house as deep as the trunks of trees.

In the spring that Mr Paxton went down to the river, and the midwife made ready above the back-door, the Old Man showed no sign that anything new was happening in the house. He moved around in his part of it carelessly, like a troll in a great bed. He called for Mrs Paxton, and showed no surprise when only her husband came.


A Scream of Toys
Riddley Walker