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A Story of the Bed
by Peter Taylor

At last Rose had a comfortable bed of her own.

She had longed to own a comfortable bed for several years. One day when she was 16, she went to her sister's in town. It so happened that her sister's husband had been away on business. So she stayed there for the night. While lying on the bed, she felt so comfortable that she didn't know whether she was still on earth or had flown the sky. She rolled on the bed again and again, like a small child, laughing from time to time. Seeing that, Rose's sister began to laugh too. That night Rose slept soundly, and dreamt an exciting dream. At that time Rose decided that when she got married, she would try her best to buy a comfortable bed, just the same as her sister's.

However, when Rose got married, she had to spend the first night on a simple old bed, because the man she fell in love was too poor to afford such a comfortable bed.
That night Rose wept, tears running down her face.
The man didn't say a word but kissed away the drops of tears on her face.
Rose laid her head on his chest, saying to him, "You should promise me that I am the last woman that you will love."
"I do promise you." he said, embracing her even tighter. And the wooden bed began to cry.

Her husband said that they should throw away the wooden bed, but she suggested that the bed should be kept in case of future use.
He said that it would be impossible for them to lie on the wooden bed. But Rose would not listen to him, and cleaned it, and put it in their small room.

Rose prepared an early dinner. When she had finished, it wasn't yet dark. Their little son was playing on their comfortable bed. Rose got on the bed, but her husband, who managed a clothes shop in town, was ready to leave. Rose said, "Would you please not go to the shop tonight. Stay at home for the night with me. We haven't spent a night together for a long time."
He said, "Sorry, my dear, I am afraid that I can't stay at home tonight. If anyone steals into the shop, we would be ruined. So every night I have to stay there." However, Rose stopped him going out. "Please stay, just for a while" she begged. He read her eyes, and suddenly understood her. He had no choice but to climb on to the bed lazily.

Now Rose and her husband were in bed. She tried her best to encourage him to make love to her, but to no avail. So she got a little worried. Then she said to him, "What's the matter with you? Do you think that I am too old for you to love?"
"Don't be so foolish. Perhaps it is because I am too old." he answered.
"You are only in your early thirties. Why do you think that?" she said, “Maybe you are too tired. However, it doesn't matter. You will be all right as long as you don't burn a candle at both ends."
Both Rose's hands walked over his whole body. Then she said, "It is getting too dark. Please go." He put on his clothes and she helped to do up his buttons.
He was about to leave when she said, "You'd better take your light with you. Be careful."
"Why did you talk so much?" said he when he went out.

Now Rose was in bed, but she didn't feel the same as she did on her sister's bed that night years ago. "Does he really get too old to make love? But why was he able to do it on the wooden bed only a short time ago? Was it true what she had heard about him?" Suddenly an idea came into her mind. She threw her clothes on, mounted her bike and set off to the clothes shop. A short distance from the shop Rose got off the bike. She walked towards the shop on tiptoe. She listened for a moment, and a woman's giggle reached her ears. She became sad.

Now Rose was in the comfortable bed, tears flowing out of her eyes. She thought, "Tomorrow I will go and stay in the clothes shop, together with him. But who will look after the house? My mother in law is bed-ridden and needs much care." She thought and thought, but couldn't find a better way.
Rose would never forget the days they spent together. The wooden bed was too small for them but every night she laid her head on his arm, so she felt quite secure. But now she felt as if she were a little child who had lost her parents.
The next day, when she met her husband, she looked as if nothing had happened. As usual, there was a smile on her face. However, her heart was weeping. That night she tried her best to prevent her husband from going to the shop. She insisted that he should spend the night with her. He wanted to quarrel with her but she was so good-tempered that he couldn't. About midnight Rose was sure he was in a deep sleep. She left.

Early the next morning he went to the shop. He couldn't believe his eyes. Their shop was nowhere to be seen. Only smoke was rising from the roof. He sat down on the ground, tears flowing. Soon Rose came, with tears in her eyes, too. She dragged him up.
"Be a man!" she said.
"How can we live now?" he said.
Rose felt rather sad when she saw him weep. "Let it be. When we got married, we did not have enough to eat, but we enjoyed ourselves very much." she tried to persuade him.
"Who the devil did it?" he said, "I will kill him at once."
Hearing the words, she began to tremble. Then she said to him, "We can make a new start."
He leaned against her and she felt like a heavy burden had been placed on her shoulder.
When they got home, Rose decided to put away the comfortable bed.
"Why?" he asked.
"Now we have become as poor church mice. I won't feel comfortable if I lie on it." she replied, "I think we'd better sell it. When we become well-off, we will buy a more comfortable one."
His eyes were wet. "It would be too hard for you” he protested.
"It doesn't matter if only we love each other” Rose replied.
"I am terribly sorry about what I …” Tears came into his eyes.
"There is nothing to be sorry about, because we are husband and wife." said she.
That night they lay together on the wooden bed, and she laid her head on his arm, feeling quite secure.
"Now you have come back to me again. How I wish my long life would be able to be shortened to just this moment!" she said.
He didn't say a single word, but put his arms around her waist.
"Now no woman will become interested in you because you are too poor." she said, "You will belong to me for ever. Before you were too busy from morning till night, and I wished that you could have lost both your legs so I could serve you all my life as long as we were living together." she said, and she began to cry.
He felt happy and kissed the drops of tears off her face.
Every night the wooden bed sang a happy song …