Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"The Worker in Sandalwood." Marjorie Pickthall.

One-minute review: Beautiful story, beautifully told. Hyacinthe is a young carpenter working on a cabinet made of sandalwood, a wood from the East. His master brutalizes him. The cabinet must be ready for Christmas. The shack in which he is working is bitterly cold.

Tired, he works through Christmas Eve to finish the cabinet. If he fails to complete the work on time, he will feel his master’s stick.

He is visited by another boy, who tells of his youth in the warmth of the Mediterranean. He tells Hyacinthe to sleep while he, also a carpenter, finishes the cabinet. Hyacinthe, in a trance-like state, keeps telling himself that he must get up to help, but he lies dreaming of warmth while the other boy almost magically finishes the cabinet. The final touch is the four corners, which are fashioned by live birds and flowers becoming delicate carvings.

The other boy leaves. He was Christ , who came when he had heard a child (Hyacinthe) cry.

It was just a dream says the curate. Was it?

Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1989.

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