Everyone here is old; everyone knows who she is and who she was. "She gave such pleasure in her day," they say. "That it should come to this."
"Hey ho!" she sings. What do they know of pleasure? Sooner or later they'll be stealing her words for themselves, showing off with them, wearing them around their shoulders. They'll pull out all her feathers, knock the bottom out of her jug.
Some words still come smoothly to her -- the ordinary ones she used to walk about with. Now, tell me again, who are you? Are you a person who's a long time here? It's really not wise, she says, and Don't let them get the better of you.
When there's a knock at the door, the nurse puts down her knitting and says, "Here come your daughters, Anne."
"Who the devil are my daughters?"
Sometimes the daughters bring flowers and put them in a vase and put the vase where she can see it.
"Hey!" she says. "Hey ho!"
Sometimes the daughters put on music, the lovely, lovely, lovely -- and she turns her head and lifts her chin, waiting.
"I -- I -- I -- "
"You sang that, Ma," they say. They take the old hanky away and hold her hands. "Do you know who I am?" one asks.
But the lucky ring is gone, green on the little finger where it always was. "Hey!" she says. "Hey!"
Her father gave her the money for that ring when she turned twenty-one. He gave her the money to go to London, too, although words meant nothing to him. Every week she wrote a letter to her mother, struggling with the Yiddish. Every day she took the tube, and climbed the stairs, listening to the lovely, lovely -- round and round, right up to her teacher's door.
And then, one day, she walked out into the gray, gray, and there it was -- her name on the banner at last.
"I have babies," she says, "and it isn't easy, I can tell you."
Sometimes the nurse takes her out into the garden on her arm. They walk with the others along the path, and stop at the lily pond. And even if she knows it won't go on forever, afternoons like this, geraniums and lily ponds, still she's ready to go home.
"We're lucky," the nurse says. "I have you and you have me."
But when she asks, "Where's my mother?" the nurse says, "Dead."
How could that be? They were just on the tram together, she and her mother, and the priests sitting in front of them. "That Moshal girl sings like an angel," one said to the other.And her mother couldn't help it -- she leaned forward and tapped him on the shoulder, "Mein kind," she said. "Mein kind."
"How many babies do you have, Ma?"
"I don't have a husband," she says. "I'm quite ready to go home."
But night after night she sees him there in the front row, just waiting to snatch her words for himself. A thief.
"Who am I, Ma?"
"Hello, Mrs. Pumshtock. Hello, Mrs. Marvelous."
"Hello," she says. "Would you like to bring your mother round for tea?"