Street of the Moon
The daughter of one of the leading Moslem families of Lucknow. ATTIA S. HOSAIN has been writing ever since her graduation from Lucknow University. Married and the mother of two children, she is living today in England, where she broadcasts regularly in the Eastern service of the BBC and where she is to have the pleasure of seeing her first collection of short stories in print this autumn.
by ATTIA S. 1IOSAIN
KALLOO the cook had worked for the family for more years than he could remember. He had started as the cook’s help, washing dishes, grinding the spices, and running errands. When the old cook died of an overdose of opium, Kalloo inherited both his job and his taste for opium. His inherent laziness, fed by the enervating influence of the drug, kept him working for his inadequate pay because he lacked the energy and the courage to give notice and look for work elsewhere.
Of his own age he was uncertain but felt young enough when opium inspired. Eyes outlined with powdered soorma, tiny attar-soaked bits of cotton hidden in his ear, his cotton embroidered cap set at an angle, he went of an evening to the Street of the Moon.
The morning after he would be slower of movement than usual, and when he weighed the flour, the lentils, rice, and fat for the day his hands would shake, and Mughlani, who had charge of the stores, would shake her gray head and wheeze asthmatically: “You men you are all animals even when your feet hang in the grave. What you need, Kalloo Mian, is a wife to keep you at home.”
“What I need is someone to help me in the kitchen. It is hard work that makes my hands shake and my head grow heavy,”he would grumble. But the repeated suggestion took root in his mind and he brooded over the need to find himself a wife. He had been married once when very young, but his wife had died and left him a son who had been nothing but a source of trouble. Young Munnay lived with his mother’s people and every now and again appeared saying he had lost his job and needed money. Kalloo would storm, “Where do you think I can find the money? Dig it from the ground? Pluck it from the trees? Wait for it to rain from heaven? Why do you not work, you shiftless wretch? Work here with me and I’ll teach you to be a cook. I could get you three or four rupees a month as my help. That is how I started.”
“Oh, no,”the boy would mock, “start as your help and end as you have done! What great fortune have you piled up? I know the Collector Sahib’s khansama who gets sixty rupees a month, and has a help, and you get twenty rupees like a plain barvarchi.”
“Get away from here, you lazy son of an owl,”Kalloo would rage, but he felt the sting of the taunts. He was not a plain barvarchi who knew only how to cook Indian food: he was a khansama who could serve the best English dishes. Twenty rupees a month — why, he could get sixty rupees too. He counted the number of people for whom he cooked — Khan Sahib one, Begum Sahib two, the two sons, guests, any number, say at least three or four a day — that made seven or eight. Then the servants — there was Mughlani one, and the widow Nascera who helped her two, Nuru the bearer three, Khan Sahib’s bearer four, his son Husnoo who worked for the master’s two sons five, himself six, and of course the guests brought servants. That was much over twelve people might be twice twelve meals a day for twenly rupees a month. One day he would ask for more pay or say, I can find work anywhere, I can cook English food.”
Hut the day was not today, not tomorrow. When Nascera went home for a few days he hardly noticed it; one person less to cook for made but little difference to his work. And then Nascera brought back her daughter Hasina.
Kalloo grumbled, “One more mouth to feed. And will I be given enough stores? Oh, no. I must be a magician.”
Nascera when she came to the kitchen was apologetic. “Kalloo Mian, I had to bring her or she would have been ruined in the village. She will be no trouble. I’ve asked Begum Sahib’s permission. She will help you, and all I ask for is a little food and some old clothes. I am growing old, and need someone to care for me.”
“I know, I know, sister. I have a son, but worthless, curse him. And when one cooks for twenty, then what is it to add one more?”
“God be with you, Kalloo Mian. A widow’s blessings on your head.”
Kalloo wiped his eyes with his sleeve as he peeled the onions and laughed, “ I’ll make her peel onions.”
Next morning Mughlani grumbled as Kalloo weighed the rice, “Curse of my life. What can I do with her? Nascera wants me to train her. A grown girl like her is fit to be a mother, and what does she do? Sit all day admiring herself, being rude to her mother. Can she hold a needle? No. Can she cook? No. I’ll teach her now what’s what, the little hussy. She’ll learn to sew in the daytime sitting beside me, and I’ll have my slipper handy. And in the evenings, Kalloo Mian, she’ll sit in your kitchen, wash the dishes, grind the spices, and watch you cook. I’ll teach her if I have to kill her.”
“ You are very wise, Mughlaniji. Look at my son, the young rascal. These young people nowadays have new ideas, and no respect for their elders.”
He picked up the tray, heavy with the heaped cereals, and went into the kitchen, lost in its smoky shadows for the day.
He was busy lighting the fire when Hasina came. “Khansamaji,” she called from the door, “Begum Sahib wants you to give the accounts now. She has to go out, so please hurry.” He could see her slight figure outlined in the doorway. “I’ll be coming, I’ll be coming — can’t you see I’m busy?”
“What do J care? I only told you what she said, so don’t you growl at me.” She laughed merrily and was gone.
“No respect for her elders,” he muttered as he reached for his cap and shoes.
IN the days that followed he made Hasina work hard, doing all the most unpleasant work. He would scold her and get Mughlani to scold her. She would mock him, and tease him, and reply insolently. He roused even Nascera to beat her. “She does no work. All she does is stand and roll her eyes at the young men, especially Husnoo,” he told Nascera.
Husnoo was young and wore a turban with a high starched plume. On the green band across it was pinned the silver crest of his masters. He smoked their cigarettes, learned from them a few words of English. He was a man to break a village girl’s heart.
“Will you bring shame on my gray head?” Nascera cried as she beat her. “ Don’t let me catch you talking to any man but Kalloo Mian or I’ll burn your tongue with a live coal.”
Hasina’s eyes scorched Kalloo with their angry hate. He was haunted by her eyes. They shone with bright black mischief normally, and the thick outlines of kajal made them too large for her thin face. Her dark skin shone smooth, tight stretched over her high cheekbones. When she lifted her arm to wipe the sweat from her brow, and her dupatta was displaced, he could see the outline of her firm young breasts under her thin shirt.
He went every evening to the Street, of the Moon. He dulled his senses with opium. Inevitably the whole household was affected.
At last Mughlani said to him, “This cannot go on, Kalloo Mian. Everybody’s anger is heaped on my head through Begum Sahib. They won’t turn you out — for all their fine words about you being too old a servant. The truth is, where could they find anyone to work so much for so little? But I have told her what is the cure. You must be married, Kalloo Mian, and I have found you a wife. I shall talk about it today, and let you know tomorrow.”
“Leave me alone. I want none of your scheming.” He shuffled off red-eyed and scowling.
In the evening Mughlani came to the kitchen. She sat down on the low stool and fanned herself with her small fan of plaited bamboo shoots which she had edged with frills of green silk.
“Kalloo Mian — listen carefully. I have spoken to Begum Sahib about your marriage. And we have decided in our minds what must be done. You must marry Hasina. Who else will marry the girl? She will have no dowry, so she will not find a husband easily. And she is of an age when she must marry or, mark my words, there will be trouble. We have spoken to Nascera, and if you agree we will begin to make necessary arrangements.”
Kalloo clutched the table for support and wiped the sweat from his face. He lowered his eyes in sudden shyness and whispered, “I am the Begum’s servant, and you are as my mother to me. I cannot but obey.”
Preparations fur the wedding toned the slack eventless atmosphere of the household. Mughlani appointed herself Kalloo’s representative in all consultations while the Begum Sahib looked after the interests of the bride.
Kalloo had a hundred rupees hidden in a box with a few pieces of his first wife’s jewelry. He said he could get a loan of another couple of hundred, and pay it back gradually. The sons of the house said they would make his clothes for the wedding, and the bridal feast would be given by them. Mughlani said, “Now let me see what jewelry you have, and what we must have made. Everyone knows you are not a rich man, so there will be no unnecessary ceremonies, no extravagance. But it is no pauper’s wedding and I will show what I can do as if it were my own son’s wedding — but alas! God gave me no children and He knows best.”She wiped her tears,
then busied herself with the jewelry.
“Silver anklets, nice heavy ones, rings for the feet — six bangles — you can get six more, they won’t cost much and will look nice — chain for the neck — you must get a necklace, a ring, something for the head and don’t forget the nose ring. We must not give her new ideas right from the start. When I was married and her mother was married, we had nose rings. Everything else can be silver, but that must be gold. Never fear, I’ll not spend too much money.”
He stopped going to the Street of the Moon. He had no time. When he was not working he was buying all that Mughlani told him to get. She went with him herself to buy the cloth for the bridal dress, the tinsel and gilt lace. She sat behind the drawn curtains of the ekka while he went into the shops and brought materials out for her approval.
He caught occasional distant glimpses of Hasina. Since the day of their engagement she was not permitted to see him or talk to him. She sat near her mother or Mughlani and had to hang her head shyly if her marriage was mentioned. She did not do so at first, but her mother had said she would be beaten if she were shameless.
Mughlani said, “In my day we didn’t leave one room for forty days.”
“Not so many, surely,” Nascera said mildly.
“As near as not to matter,” Mughlani asserted. “And one was massaged with sweet-smelling ointments. Then on her wedding day the bride’s skin was tight and scented. What do they care about it now? The rich go prancing around to the last day, and the poor copy the rich. In my day they even taught us to cry when the Kazi asked, ‘Do you give your consent?‘ Like this,”and she wailed a repeated high-pitched descending scale. Hasina giggled and her eyes danced.
AT LAST it was the day of the wedding. Hasina was made to lie quietly in the specially screened veranda. Her mother said, “If you move without my permission I shall beat you. Do what you like tomorrow when you are a married woman, but spare me shame today.” She had plucked henna leaves from the garden hedge and had ground the leaves to a thick paste. When she put it on her daughter’s hands and feet, and carefully evened the edges, she cried a little.
Mughlani arranged the clothes she had sewn, with the jewels, on large wooden trays and covered them with bright-colored cloths. She counted the few pots and pans the Begum had bought for the bride, and gave a final polish to the cheaply pretty tin-plated betel box. She had made a red silk cover for it, embroidered with flowers in gold thread taken from the Begum’s sewing basket.
“Nascera,” she said, “I hope your ungrateful child knows how lucky she is. She is not going empty-handed to her husband, thanks to Begum Sahib’s generosity.”
Hasina wished she could see all the wonderful things she would soon possess. Specially the betel box. Now she could eat betel all day, her own, made by herself, and she would eat even tobacco — the tiny silver pellets the Begum ate. She would do as she pleased after she was married — that silly Kalloo, he was so funny, she would laugh at him all day.
Nascera washed away the henna paste, and on the moist crumpled red skin she rubbed sweet-smelling jasmine oil. Hasina stared happily at her bridal feet and hands. Mughlani said with wise authority: —
“Listen to me, child. You will be a woman soon and must behave well and with modesty. The Kazi will ask you three times whether you will marry Kalloo Mian. Now don’t you be shameless, like these modern educated girls, and shout gleefully, ‘Yes.’ Be modest and cry softly and say ‘Hoon.’ Then he will come back after asking the bridegroom and tell you you are married. Then you must cry loudly.”
“Or I’ll pinch you,” added Nascera.
To Hasina the ceremony was a confused memory of sudden fearful excitement induced by the wailing of her mother, the curious women crowding around, the growing heat, the sharp pain of the thick nose ring being forced in, her cries of pain then and when her mother pinched her, whispering fiercely, “Don’t shame me now, they are all here, the Begum Sahib and her friends.”
She cried herself to exhaustion. Mughlani fanned her and said, “Poor child — how much she feels it!”
Kalloo knew how to behave as a bridegroom. He sat through the ceremony with his head bowed and his red handkerchief covering his mouth.
His friends whispered and nudged when the ceremony had ended: “There you are now — ready for the night. With a young wife you’ll need all your wits about you — and more. Have you asked the Hakim’s advice? He can give you something that will make you younger than your son.”
He resented the reference to his son. The illmannered boy had said, “Wah, wah, my father, in that flowery silk achkan and cap, with a garland round your neck, you look handsome enough to gladden my new mother’s heart.”
“How dare you talk to me so disrespectfully!” he had shouted, and Munnay said with mock respect, “Forgive me, I meant no harm,” and swaggered off humming a marriage song. Someone shouted, teasing the boy, “Who is the bridegroom — you or your father?” He answered, laughing gaily, “Let the old have their day.”
FOR Kalloo the outward forms of a bridegroom’s splendor lasted barely two days. He returned to work, and shed with his silk achkan all visible signs of the eminence that had been so briefly his.
Within him was the restless drive of his unquenched desire. Hasina’s tears and first reaction of resistance to every physical advance he made were followed by unwilling acceptance. He cared little for either, but resented her mocking laughter.
Hasina enjoyed for a longer period her luxury of idleness, and her possessions. She accepted with fatalism the unpleasant price she paid for them with her unwilling body, but the days were sufficiently long to make her forget the nights.
After a few days of admiring herself in the mirror Kalloo’s son had bought for her and hung on the wall, she was suddenly dragged back to reality.
Kalloo had built a fence of bamboo to screen off a small square space in front of the room allotted to them in the long low-roofed line of rooms for the servants. She could drag out their string bed on hot nights or sit on it when the sun was not too hot, or in the cool evenings.
Mughlani came to see her one day. “Gracious, child — look at this place! Have you ever swept it ? Now come on—off with those clothes—I made you enough workaday ones. Take a broom and sweep the place. You are a married woman now, and must learn to keep your house clean.”
It was a step from that to having once again to help her husband in the kitchen.
Her clothes were blackened in the kitchen, her pajama edges soiled with the dust of the swept floors, her jewels heavy in the heat of work, and she gradually wore less and less. Only her dupattas remained gay with bright colors. But after a time she was too tired to dye them, wiped her hands and the sweat from her face in them, and wore them until their colors faded.
Her eyes lost their mischievous sparkle. Kalloo found she mocked him less but lost her temper more.
Two months after her wedding day she first felt the sickness and listlessness that grew with each day. Mughlani was quick to notice it.
“Nascera — you are to be a grandmother,” she said happily.
Nascera smiled, “God’s will be done.”
Kalloo was happy when he heard the news. He was pleased when the men joked, “Well, well, Kalloo Mian — you are a young man after all. Perhaps we should all get young wives.”
Kalloo wanted Hasina to be careful. He would not let her help him in the kitchen. He sent for his son. “ You said you wanted to leave your job after a month as your master was going to the hills. Well, leave it now, and come here and help me. I shall ask Begum Sahib to give you a few rupees and your food. If she refuses I’ll tell her I’ll leave. After all, I don’t get the pay I should get.” Kalloo was suddenly determined and courageous. But he was surprised at his son’s submissive acquiescence.
Hasina welcomed her reprieve. She rested and let Munnay do all the work. She went to help her mother and Mughlani, but they were careful that she should not strain herself.
Her eyes sparkled again. She took out her jewels and her bright clothes. Her skin stretched tight and glistening over the growing roundness of her body. Her breasts pressed outwards against her shirt and could barely be hidden by her dupatta.
Kalloo was happy. His son seemed happy and grew daily more hard-working; his wife was more acquiescent and did not quarrel. What if occasionally the mockery returned to her eyes and laughter?
It was some time before he became conscious of the strange way his friends looked at him, their sudden silences when he came in as they were talking, not knowing he was near. He was uneasy, and lost his placidity. When Mughlani conveyed to him the Begum’s message that the food was poorly cooked he did not ignore it with his usual remark, “Nothing will please her—she wants a lot in return for a little,” but flared, “Tell her to find another cook. My son and I work well enough. I am not a slave that I sell my son in bondage with myself.” Mughlani said slowly, troubled by asthma and embarrassment, “Your son —Kalloo — it’s none of my business really— but can you not find someone else to help? Your son is young and strong, and can find better work surely.”
“And why should I?” he said aggressively. “He works well enough for me and has changed his habits, God be thanked. Besides Mughlaniji, can you — or the Begum Sahib, for that matter find someone to work for so little?”
“Kalloo Mian, I said nothing really. Who am I? Just an old woman. But youth is a strange and dangerous thing. Hasina is very young.”
“Hasina? Why do you talk of Hasina?”
“It is nothing, nothing, Kalloo Mian. Come on, weigh the rice, I haven’t the whole day to spare.”
Into Kalloo’s slow-thinking mind the poison drop of Mughlani’s suggestion worked its corrosive destruction. He watched his son carefully when he was with Hasina, found new meaning in their happy laughter, their easy acceptance of each other’s presence. Between him and Hasina when alone there were veils of long silences torn by his compulsive desire, but since his son was with them she was pleasant, thoughtful of his comfort. He had not thought it strange till now.
He planned his days so that Hasina was not alone with Munnay for more than unavoidable moments of time. He noticed her restlessness and increasing fits of bad temper; she became careless about her appearance, and her face lost its roundness. Nascera and Mughlani said it was natural with a first baby, and that it must be a girl to give her so much trouble when carrying it.
His son was sullen, and his old insolence was creeping back. His work became careless. Kalloo threatened to send him away, and noticed with alarm that the threat strangely made him work better.
The torment of Kalloo’s suspicions increased with each day of his isolating silence. He took very little opium now, to be more alert. Hasina and he slept in the room since Munnay had come, and let him sleep in the small screened space outside. She complained bitterly of the stuffiness, and made him open the door before he went to sleep. He slept now with a wakeful watchfulness that exhausted him after a long day’s hard work.
After some days he found himself consciously fighting against the strong desire to sleep, and was nol surprised to find it a losing battle. There followed nights when he slept deeply unconscious.
He became suspicious particularly as Hasina seemed better-tempered and Munnay worked better.
One morning Kalloo woke to find it broad daylight. He was a very early riser, and his first reaction was of shock and fear that he was late for work. Then he saw Hasina’s anxious face, and heard the relief in her voice, “So you are awake at last ? I was worried, and got the stores for you from Mughlani.”
He pushed her aside and went to the tap outside to wash, already thinking of the replies he would give to questions about his late rising. But his suspicions kept pushing through all other thoughts.
When Hasina had gone to the house to help her mother he went to his room and searched in his box where he kept his opium. His fears were reality. She must have been doping him every night, and had been earelcss and given him more than usual the night before. How did she do it ? he wondered, and his slow mind saw the obvious; in the betel she usually gave him every night.
That night he put the betel into his mouth, but walked outside and spat it out behind the fence.
He replaced it with one he had made and went back. Some time after he lay as if in deep sleep, he felt her sit up and her breath was upon his face. He kept his eyes shut, and breathed evenly. She got up, and went outside. He heard their soft smothered whispers. He heard Munnay’s bed creak with her body’s added weight. His eyes were wide open and unseeing, and his suddenly heavy body was rigid on his bed.
He tore himself from the bonds of his horror and Staggered to the door. They must have heard him, for Munnay was crouched at the far end of the bed, staring with frightened animal eyes, and Hasina was curled up with her dnpatta wrapped tight over her head, hiding her face and shielding her body from blows. Kalloo’s body was quivering, and he leaned against the wall for support. His horror and anger were overshadowed by a deep shame. The silence of the night was an enemy turning each whisper of his shame into a shout of proclamation. Any minute the whole household would be awake and mocking him.
He whispered hoarsely, “Come inside,”and stumbled in. They followed him silently, not daring to look at him. He said, forcing his voice low, “I cannot kill you as I would — I cannot even proclaim your shame by cutting off her nose and turning her on the streets, because it is my shame. Now get out of here before I —” He choked, and tears covered his ravaged face. Munnay moved silently to the corner where he kept his tin box. His frightened eyes stared at his father as he picked it up and went out of the door. Hasina sobbed silently, her face still covered. Kalloo stood listening as his son moved in the courtyard wrapping his bedding.
In the deep silence before dawn he could hear Munnay’s bare feet on the path beyond the fence, and wondered who had been awakened by the noise. There were no sounds but of Hasina’s crying. He lay on the bed, turned to the wall, and it seemed the sobs that tore his throat twisted his stomach.
In the morning the others noticed Munnay’s absence, but Kalloo’s red eyes and swollen face silenced them. He said aggressively, “That wretched boy has run away again. He was never one for steady work.”
Hasina lay all day with her face covered, and he said to Naseera, “You had better look after your daughter. She is not well.”
Naseera felt the heavy burden of her daughter’s shame and cried when no one was near. She said nothing to Hasina but with her eyes accused her. Mughlani was mercifully silent.
TIME inevitably leveled the emotional upheaval in their simple lives. The physical exhaustion of Kalloo’s hard work tired his mind too much for him to brood on his betrayal. Hasina went back to the routine of her life. Her eyes had lost their softness, her mouth its upward curve, and her teeth wore edged with the black stain of too many tobaccoflavored betels. She had pushed girlhood aside.
She was beginning to feel the growing weight of the child within her and resented it. It was a relief to her, in spite of the extremity of the pain at the time, when she lost it after an accidental fall in the dark. Kalloo’s grief was intense, and Naseera cried as if she herself had lost a child. Hasina enjoyed through illness once again the luxury of attention and idleness.
When she was strong enough to work, her mother said to her, “I have spoken to Begum Sahib. I shall work in the kitchen, and you will do my work in the house.”
Hasina could not hide her delight. More than the hard work of a kilchenmaid, she hated the constant curbing presence of her husband. She felt his eyes on her all the time. His negative gentleness irritated her.
She helped Mughlani, and did her mother’s work, but enjoyed most being the Begum’s personal maid. She loved sensuously the feel of the silk clothes she pressed and folded. The silver, the perfumes, powder, and paint on the toilet table fascinated her.
One of Hasina’s duties was to make betels in the morning, and after meals arrange them with cloves and cardamom on a small silver tray and give it to Husnoo. He was older than Munnay, but much better looking. She was attracted by his deliberate seduction, different from the spontaneity of her relationship with Munnay.
Kalloo fell again the uneasiness of her strange good humor and acquiescence. He could not confirm his suspicions, and his nerves once again were frayed.
Mughlani had noticed Husnoo loitering around the inner rooms more than usual. She made a point of walking in suddenly, and sometimes saw him disappear while Hasina bent over some piece of work with suspicious care. Twice or thrice she caught them in laughing intimate conversation.
She felt it her duty to warn Kalloo, but he was powerless without proof against his wife’s angry denials. In his perplexity ho returned for solace to opium. It dulled the needle points of resentment, but also dulled his senses, loosened the bonds of his body’s enslavement. Hasina became a burden.
One afternoon he went into his room when she should have been working and was surprised to see her standing near the window. She was trying to catch the light as she looked into the mirror. She started guiltily as he came in, and drew into the shadows, drawing her pajamas low to cover her feet.
He walked up to her, and pulled her round to face him as she turned away.
“What, by God and his prophet, have you got on your face?” he said in shocked surprise.
It was covered with a thick layer of powder; her cheeks were rouged and her mouth daubed with lipstick.
“Where did you get that stuff? Must you look like a woman of the bazaars as well as behave like one?”
She flared, “Begum Sahib uses it. You dare call her that.”
“You are not the Begum Sahib. Leave the rich alone. Tell me, where did you get it?”
“She gave it to me.”
“Tell me the truth, or I shall go and ask her.”
“I took it. I’ll put it back. I meant no harm. I wanted to see what it looked like,” and she cried in sudden fright. She could not tell him Husnoo tortured her with his boastful stories of city women who adorned themselves in this new manner, excited him, made him feel a man of the world.
Kalloo felt a new courage now that the wrong was not done to him.
“And what are you hiding there?” He pulled up her pajamas. She was wearing silk stockings.
“Allah,” he said, and sat heavily on the bed. “Now you’re a thief too. This I cannot stand. I’ve been here twenty years or more, I cannot have this shame on my head. What sin did I commit that fate brought you to me? What am I to do, you accursed wretch?”
She whispered with frightened repetition, “I’ll put them back. No one will know. No one knows.”
“But I shall go and tell. It is my duty to tell. I cannot have you wandering in the house, a thief.”
“Please, I beg of you, I touch your feet. Don’t tell. It will not happen again.”
From that day Kalloo would not touch her. His pride kept him silent, and to the world she was his wife, but to him she was his evil destiny. It was a relief to him when one morning he woke to find her gone. Husnoo had disappeared too.
Nascera cried with shame. Mughlani said, “I knew it. He should have kept her in purdah.” Husnoo’s father said, “She ruined my son, that streetwalker.” Nascera cried, “May she die. To me she is dead already.”
When Mughlani talked to him of Hasina, Kalloo tried to appear uninterested. He would not look at her, and busied himself with his work. Sometimes he would force himself to comment, “She had an evil spirit in her. Nascera bore a serpent.” Once he even acknowledged the relationship his silence denied, “I am well rid of her.”
He thought of her more and more as the days went by, and the hurt to his pride healed. She returned to his opium dreams as the innocent, gay, mischievous girl he had desired and married. He was obsessed by the image and was driven to seeking release in the Street of the Moon.
He found it one night as he looked up at the women sitting under the bright lamps smiling their invitations down to the anonymous darkness of the narrow crowded street. Busina’s eves looked into his—large, black painted, steel bright, diamond hard — from a powdered face pallid in the harsh light, with red-circled cheeks, and a straightlipped painted mouth set in a smile around tobaccoblackened teeth.
He stared in unwilling recognition, then stumbled and ran down the street away from that murderous face which had in a brief moment destroyed the long-enslaving image.