Bill got off the train, under a stormy, dark yellow. Automatically, he went to the railway footbridge. That was always the quickest way to the town. He could save half a mile that way. And then he saw that the footbridge was closed. There was a big blue notice board. ‘Danger. Keep off.’ ‘this town has changed, he said to himself.
So he went to the long way, past the factoriesand along the thin black railway line. Soon he same to a pub. In the old days, Bill often stopped there on his way to market.
In those days he used to come into town every week. He brought his fruit and vegetables or, in early spring, his daffodils, and sold them in the market. In the early days, he had brought them in a horse and cart. But soon he had been ready to buy his first car…
The wallsof the pub were black with smoke from passing trains. Bill went through the glass door and walked up to the bar.
I’ll have a beer, please, he said
Two railway men were playing cards in one corner of the bar.
Bill paid for his beer. I’m looking for a Miss Whitehead’, he said. ‘She used to come in here. She used to live in Wellington Street and work in the shoe factory there. That was a longtime ago, said the barman. ‘They built a new shoe factory ten years ago-outside the town.
‘She used to come in here when jack Shipley had this pub.
Jack Shipley? Said the barman. He’s been dead nine years now.
One of the railway men looked up from his card game.
Do you mean a Cora Whitehead? He said.
She still lives in Wellington Street with her old that
Thanks very much, saidBill
He finished his drink and went out. The sky above his head was still that bright, unnatural daffodil yellow. Suddenly he remembered his first visit to this pub. He had called in, many years ago, during a storm, to get a drink of water for his horse and some beer for himself. How many years ago was it? He thought. But I still remember everything so clearly.
His cart had been full ofdaffodil, he remembered. They were a bright, burning yellow, like the stormy sky now above his head. He was crossing the bridge when he heard thunder. Then the storm came. He found a dry place for his horse and cart. Then he ran through the rain towards the door of the bar.
Don’t knock me over! Said a girl’s voice
Sorry, he said.
He had not noticed the colour of the girl’s dress. Perhaps it was blue;he was not sure. But he had noticed her large, full, red mouth also her long, reddish-brown hair and big brown eyes.
He could not open the door because his hands were wet. She started to laugh. It was strong, friendly laugh, not too loud. A moment later the sun came out. He felt it on his face and neck.
You’re as good as an umbrella on a wet day; the girl said
The door opened at last, and theywere inside the pub. There was a smell of smoke and beer, sandwiches and warm bodies. But she said, there a smell of flowers in here. Can you smell it too?
I’ve cart full of flowers; he said. Daffodil. I’ve been picking them since six o’ clock this morning. I’ve got the smell of them on my hands.
He held up his hand for her to smell.
That’s it; she said. What a lovely smell.
He watched her asshe drank her beer. She’s beautiful; he thought. He wanted to be early at the market by twelve o’clock. But he stayed in the pub with her until nearly two.
Every time he thought about leaving, the thunder crashed and the rain beat against the window again. Then at last the bright daffodil sun came out again.
I have to go; he said.
You’ll be all right; she said. You’ll sell all your daffodils.You’ve got a lucky face. People like you are always lucky.
How do you know?
I bring them luck, she said. I always do. And she came was right. All that day, and for a long time afterwards, bill was lucky. That evening was clear and fine.
Customers came to the market. They saw the shining yellow daffodil and they bought them all. She was right thought Bill. She did bring me luck.