"Would you like something to ease that cough?" I asked.
"No! It isn't the body that's sick; it's the heart."
"Do you wish to tell me about it?"
"I lost my babies."
"Two years ago. I had two little ones, and both died in one month.
I am left much alone; my husband is away on the transport; our
lodge is nearby. The chief has all these dogs; they bark at every
little thing and disturb me, so I lie awake all night and think
about my babies. But that isn't the hardest thing."
"What is it?"
She hesitated, then burst out: "The tongues of the women. You don't
know what a hell of a place this is to live in. The women here don't
mind their work; they sit all day watching for a chance to lie about
their neighbours. If I am seen talking to you now, a story will be
made of it. If I walk to the store for a pound of tea, a story is
made of that. If I turn my head, another story; and everything is
carried to my husband to make mischief. It is nothing but lies,
lies, lies, all day, all night, all year. Women don't do that way
in your country, do they?"
"No," I replied emphatically. "If any woman in my country were
to tell a lie to make another woman unhappy, she would be thought
very, very wicked."
"I am sure of it," she said.