8a THE WOMAN WITH THE GOLD HAIR By Elin Pelin
In one little huddled town with a river through it , with white old-time houses hidden like boxes behind high-fence yards full of rosehips , lived a widow named Smarayda – not so young nor that old . There were a lot of widows living in that town , and the one we are talking about didn ’ t stand out from any of the others around .
And she , like everyone else , wore an old-fashioned black silk dress , wide and ankle-length , with wide sleeves , smooth hairstyle , black silk kerchief , and she had a white , shy , god-like face , and shy eyes usually looking downward . Smarayda lived with her old mother near the abandoned nunnery , and her gait like the gait of every other woman looked like the gait of a nun – that is , even and slow . She lived on the income from a vineyard and from work for other people – she wove cotton cloths and got very little money . All day long she sat in the sun like a bird in a cage and wove . Aside , sitting on the floor , her mother was helping her . The two women kept quiet . Everything around was also quiet . In the garden bloomed a few old and large rose bushes , which popped over the fence and their big blossoms were continuously falling into the deserted road , and their smell filled everything and penetrated everywhere : in the entrance , in the room , the chests , and the clothes . And the flies sedated by that smell fell asleep on the floor .
Just like that , this honest widow was going through her day at home , reconciled , wanting nothing , not dreaming or going anywhere .
Smarayda was not ugly , but she wasn ’ t pretty either . Men didn ’ t know her , nor did they mention her name in their conversations . Urban gossip never mentioned her name .
In the café opposite the public baths which twice a week was passed by the bathed women of the town , and for this reason gathered all sweet and cheating men , the name of this widow was never pronounced . It was not written in the list done by these slaves of the flesh , in which all the secrets and obvious beauties were noted . This list was made by someone called Pavel , also known as the Blissful , a prominent town joker . He had described in great detail , with fine taste , skill and knowledge the souls and bodies of all women , both young and old , especially the sweet little widows for whom he had a particular weakness .