In the desert the old woman began to build a boat.
Her neighbour came by, like her an old woman.
“What is that thing that you fashion so strangely, my neighbour?”
The old woman paused and fluttered and nodded and winked.
And so her neighbour left laughing.
Two men came by, one riding a donkey made heavy with packages, one wearing a sword.
They spoke together for a while, then called the man with the sword,
“Beldame! Why make you this thing?”
And the old woman paused and fluttered and nodded and winked, and said not a word.
The man on the donkey laughed and swore by her industry.
The village children came by, and laughed and cheered in mockery or unbelieving support.
In a glittering howdah, high on a camel, the high minister stretched forth her hand and waved to the old woman.
The old woman paused and fluttered and nodded and winked, and said nothing.
The village children chirruped and called as birds at twilight do, loud and unintelligible.
As the camel moved along the rain began to fall.
The dust bloomed on the skin of the children, among the low-growing flowers, darkening the wood of the boat.