Chapter Fourteen

1

AS THE TIME FOR ECHO’S DELIVERY DRAWS NEAR she no longer appears at breakfast and no longer works in the garden, although she still walks there and, wearing Sister Celeste’s heavy cape against the cold, sits on the bench before Our Lady of Guadeloupe for long periods of time. Seeing her there Father d’Acosta is reminded of a plant in the garden that, when touched, curls its slender leaves in upon itself as if seeking its own beginning. Her pregnancy has transformed the once slender girl into a woman so enormous that delivery seems impossible. Except for her eyes no traces of girlhood remain.

Time seems suspended as they wait for the birth. Whenever he has to leave the household he hurries back, recognizing his own need to be there and sensing Sister Celeste’s deep anxiety for the girl. Still, when Sister Celeste taps gently on his door at three o’clock in the morning, saying, “It’s time, Father,” he feels dismay.

“It’s too soon,” he tells himself. “She’s not ready for this.” Instantly awake he dresses quickly and hurries downstairs, turning on all the outside lights as he goes so that Echo may not stumble and fall coming across the patio from her quarters. He makes coffee for himself and tea for Sister Celeste. When Sister

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Roseborough: A Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Chapter One 1
  • Chapter Two 30
  • Chapter Three 45
  • Chapter Four 70
  • Chapter Five 81
  • Chapter Six 101
  • Chapter Seven 115
  • Chapter Eight 135
  • Chapter Nine 149
  • Chapter Ten 159
  • Chapter Eleven 168
  • Chapter Twelve 182
  • Chapter Thirteen 194
  • Chapter Fourteen 207
  • Chapter Fifteen 214
  • Chapter Sixteen 223
  • Chapter Seventeen 247
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