Way Down Deep

Ruth White

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From Way Down Deep
When Miss Arbutus and Ruby grew weary, Ruby would go to her cozy room, which Miss Arbutus had decorated for her in ruffled yellow and white, with purple pansies embroidered on her curtains and pillow shams.
 
Before turning out the light, Ruby always stood before the window and gazed at the hills against the night sky. Though she could not remember her parents, she thought of them, and wished them health and happiness.
 
“And don’t forget me,” she always added. “Woo-bee is right here waiting for you.”
 
Then Ruby climbed into bed. The pansy curtains fluttered in the mountain breeze as her eyes closed. Sometimes she woke up in the wee hours of the morning to find a lady in her room, sitting very still in an armchair by the window. At such times a hazy memory floated to the surface of Ruby’s mind – a memory of being held and rocked beside a window, through which she could see snow falling.
 
If Ruby sat up in bed, or said anything, the woman disappeared into the shadows. So she learned that if she was to keep this lady, who was surely her mother, then she must not move or speak. She would drift off to sleep again, and the morning daylight revealed nobody in the chair.