Meanwhile, this trinity had already approached the burial grounds. It was cool under the arches of tall trees that grew near the iron fence, which had darkened with time. Sunlight played on the leaves of old oaks and maples. Every now and then, bird trills were heard to baby girl’s ears, accompanied by a quiet rustle of leaves. The adults passed through the gate and went along a path that ran between even rows of graves and led out to a small area where the roof of a small crypt, surrounded by flowering lilac bushes, shone brightly under the rays of the sun. On its left side stood a tall obelisk of black granite, which stood on a low white pedestal, which made its whole appearance look rather contrasting. In the rays of the morning sun, its shiny surface shone with an incredible brilliance.
Delia, following her companions, looked around with interest. At first she was struck by the harsh beauty of the tombstones, but soon curiosity gave way to another feeling close to melancholy. Undoubtedly, the sight of the tombstones evoked in the girl's soul a strange feeling of false loss - it seemed to her that as soon as she crossed the invisible border that separated the rest of the world from the burial grounds, she immediately felt sorry for everyone and everyone who was buried under heavy granite slabs.
Perhaps it just could be a childish reverence for the last refuge of the dead, but one way or another, kids feel the world around them more keenly than adults, so it was impossible to explain in simple words the strange feelings that gripped Delia at that moment - if only because she herself could not express.
Meanwhile, a procession of two adults and one child approached the desired grave, the stone slab of which was hidden under thickets of weeds - it is obvious that no one cared about the mother of some lorn culturologist. In the midst of them, a simple tombstone made of natural stone with the inscription "Jehanne Thurlow (21 July 1946 - 24 August 1984)" carved on it, against the background of neighboring, neatly cleaned graves, made such a depressing impression that it seemed as if a not poor, humble woman was buried here. a woman, but a vile criminal who was disgusting even in death.
- My Lord! - exclaimed Delia's mother, spreading her arms.
- What's been going on? - rousing himself from his stupor, ajussi Jo asked.
- You didn't follow her grave at all! - the woman answered reproachfully. - When was the last time you went here?
The last words she said, already turned to the man. Delia saw her mother's face glow with such energy, such determination that it was clear - this woman is ready for anything, no matter what the cost. The girl turned her gaze to ajussi Jo, who stood silently, looking ahead of him. His shoulders were relaxed and slumped, as if he was instantly weary of what was happening.
After a moment's pause, Delia's mother suddenly rushed to the grave of Jehanne Thurlow and, grabbing a green weed, pulled it with force. There was a crunch, and clods of earth flew in all directions. Baby girl jumped aside in time, and her sundress remained clean. Her mother continued to vigorously uproot the weeds, while ajussi Jo continued to stand in a relaxed posture and watched in bewilderment. Delia looked sideways at him. She was somewhat embarrassed that the man did not even try to help the woman - to his neighbour and her mother rolled into one!
- Ajussi Jo, - suddenly she said, standing on tiptoe to look into his face. - Help my mom, please! Strong you are, I know...
Her last words made ajussi Jo smile - apparently, it was funny for a grown man to hear a little girl trying to appeal to his strength. Tilting his head slightly to one side (causing his hair to be a little disheveled), he looked down at the girl, and his smile seemed slightly smug.
- You got that right, dearie, - mother's voice rang out.
Jo & Delia turned to her at the same time - she stood by the grave, her face flushed with work expressed mild displeasure. The girl noticed that her mother's black silk dress now had ugly stains from damp earth.
- Mommy, you're all messy! - Delia exclaimed with some dismay.
The mother did not answer her daughter, only looked herself up and down, as if surprised at how she managed to get dirty. It just so happened that she was so passionate about her work that she didn’t pay attention to her appearance at all. The girl turned her gaze to Uncle Jo, who was already rolling up his sleeves, about to take part in cleaning the grave.
- Are not you ashamed, mister Thurlow! - said the woman, straightening her back. - You make me clean up your mother's grave alone, untill yourself...
Then she bit her tongue, realizing, apparently, that it was very risky to talk in such a tone with her little daughter - what if the child picks up rude words and uses them in a conversation with everyone he meets? Meanwhile, ajussi Jo approached the grave with a firm and measured step, unbuttoning his jacket as he went. At the same time, he looked like he was forcibly forced to take up the case. He bent down and began pulling weeds with his bare hands, then his partner followed suit.
Delia, with barely concealed pleasure, watched how the adults worked harmoniously and energetically. Male help was is very rich indeed - in a few minutes, the eyes of all those present began to open up a view of a neat granite slab inlaid with a vine. It turns out that in five years the wind and rains almost did not touch the surface of the stone, except that the dirt slightly stained the exquisite patterns. As soon as all the weeds were pulled out by the joint efforts of Jo and Delia's mother, the girl went to the grave and, bending her knees, began to examine with interest the design made in granite.
Pushing a strand of hair out of her forehead, Delia reached forward with her left hand and gently ran the tip of her index finger over the polished stone, still clutching the bouquet of forget-me-nots she continued to hold in other hand. She heard ajussi Jo's soft sigh and turned her head slightly to look at him. He stood with his arms crossed over his chest and silently looked at the grave. His sad eyes and lowered hands touched baby girl's heart for some reason, and she wanted to say something encouraging to him. But as soon as she began to look for words, the thought suddenly came into her head that it was not worth talking a lot at the grave of the deceased. So Delia contented herself with an innocent shrug and a sweet smile.
Solemn trinity continued to silently look at Jehanne Thurlow's grave, occasionally exchanging glances. Then Delia's mother sighed and, raising her right hand to her face, began to massage the bridge of her nose, and her eyes, as it seemed to the girl, were moistened with tears. Ajussi Jo smiled sheepishly. It was some time before the silence was broken by the mother's voice:
- Delia, do you think Jordan's mom would love to meet you if she were alive? - in a fit of sentimentality, woman asked a rhetorical question.
In the next second, she let her tears flow, and her weeping echoed through the burial grounds. Taken aback, her daughter trembled all over, feeling like she was about to cry too. Resting her feet firmly on the ground, she pressed the bouquet to her chest and froze. Sad thoughts slowly began to enter her mind about how difficult it would be for her if her own parents were gone.
As she knew, human age is short, plus everything a person can be suddenly mortal, and, being just a small child, she was terrified of losing her parents - especially mom, as for her dad, it seemed to Delia, with her little life experience, that with his death, little would change in her life, except that dust would settle in his place in the dining room and because of the closed doors of their living room, the echoes of his heated arguments with her mother would cease to be heard regarding pedagogical and religious views on daughter's upbringing.
Her mother's call snapped her out of these thoughts. Delia looked up and saw that she had already moved away from the grave and was now standing with Uncle Jo on the cobbled path between the burials. When her daughter looked back, the woman waved her hand in the direction of the tombstone.
- Delia, - she repeated, looking attentively at baby girl, - put forget-me-nots at the head and come to us, it's time to go home.
Recovering herself, the girl gave her mother a nod and, rising to her feet, went to the very edge of the grave and, slightly turning the bunch of forget-me-nots in her hands - she really liked these flowers - slowly lowered it onto soft soil, and then taken notice to the adults and looked at them questioningly.
- Right, - mother nodded with a smile on her lips. - And now come to us. Hurry up! - she hurried her daughter, who hesitated indecisively on the spot.
Ajussi Jo, standing a little behind Delia's mother, silently watched everything that was happening. The sad expression disappeared from his face, and now he seemed happy and peaceful, and the clods of dirt on his strict suit gave his appearance a carelessness and some frivolity. Delia felt something stir in her soul as she looked at him, but she couldn't figure out what the feeling was. She went to meet the adults, having managed to wipe her hands on her sundress along the way. This action did not escape the eyes of the mother, who frowned and shook her head reproachfully.
- Dearie, why did you get your clothes dirty? - the woman asked as Delia walked over and stood next to her. - You're not some simpleton, you're a civilized lady!
Taking the girl by the hand, the mother gently squeezed her small hand in hers and led her towards the exit from the burial grounds. Delia obediently followed her, feeling a little uneasy at being so unceremoniously torn away from her sincere and sincere expression of feelings in front of Jehanne Thurlow's grave. Apparently, this feeling was transmitted to her mother, who quickened her pace, so that her daughter had to hurry after her. Soon the feeling of some stiffness passed, and Delia returned to her thoughts.
She believed that the bouquet of forget-me-nots, which she happened to lay today, would lie on the grave for eternity, reminding everyone around how a well-bred young lady paid tribute to the memory of the deceased mother of her spiritual teacher and mentor, thereby expressing her deepest respect to to himself and to all his family. As befits a good little girl, Delia continued to walk beside her mother, but as their procession passed the cemetery fence, she couldn't help but look back and take one last look at grave of ajussi Jo's mother.
What was revealed to the eyes of a little girl shocked her to the core - at the tombstone stood an unfamiliar man in torn clothes, unshaven and with dirty tousled hair sticking out from under his old felt hat. For a few moments it seemed to her that it was some kind of ghost wandering between the graves, but when she looked closer, she realized that it was the most ordinary olden pauper, in appearance very similar to those whom she used to see on the television screen in dull and boring television movies on the urban theme.
Looking furtively around, the man took off his hat and immediately picked up a bunch of forget-me-nots from the ground. It took a lot of effort for Delia to cover her mouth with her hand so as not to scream from the feelings of resentment and childish indignation that captured her. With a whistling exhalation of air, olden pauper, trying as discreetly as possible to put the flowers in the pocket of his bottomless pockets, rushed away. Baby girl followed the man with her eyes until he disappeared behind the building of the crypt.
Forcefully clenching her free hand into a fist, Delia gritted her teeth and took a deep breath. Thoughts about the unworthy behavior of olden pauper did not leave her mind. She asked herself questions from the category "Why did he steal the flowers, intended for the deceased?", "What was he going to do with them?" and so on. For a split second, Delia was seized with a desire to immediately punish the pickfloret, but she suppressed this desire, realizing that there was nothing she could do, and even if she tried, it would look at least stupid, if not risky. Sighing, the girl turned her gaze to her mother, who continued to lead her forward, following ajussi Jo.