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by Mary Brown

Rose was the eldest daughter of Auntie Mary. So of all the children Auntie Mary liked her most. She liked her because Rose was not only polite but in poor health. Since her childhood, she had been unhealthy, which made me feel very sorry for her.

When Rose graduated from Junior school, Auntie Mary persuaded her to give up schooling, though she was good at her lessons. Also, her father stopped her going on with more schooling. He thought the girls needn’t have more education, so he insisted that more money should be saved for her younger brother. As a result, Rose wept several times and she decided to give up.

One day her father came to ask me to show her something of the ways of the world. In fact, he wanted me to help her earn some money in bigger cities. I promised him I would and Rose went with me to join the people who were going to make money. She was 17 that year.

When she arrived in the city, she felt very homesick. Once I took her to a nearby telephone box to call her family. The moment she picked up the phone, she couldn’t help crying. She complained that Auntie Mary seemed to be taking a long time to come. Auntie Mary said that she was to get the call in Rose’s uncle’s house across the road. Rose paused for a while and then said that she would send some money home to have a telephone put in her home.

Rose worked hard and behaved well. So almost everyone liked her very much. And all of her salary for the first month was sent home. She specially said that the money should be used to have a telephone put in at home. Unfortunately, her father was unwillingly to do it, saying that the money would have to be saved for emergency.

She understood this very well, so she didn’t say a single word about it. Later, though she sent all she had earned to her family, her family was so poor that it seemed to be doing no good. So it was still a dream.

Last New Year, I went to visit Rose’s family. And Rose put forward the proposal that the telephone should be fixed, saying that, since both her parents couldn’t walk very well, it would be very dangerous to run across the road to take the calls. Worse still, it was inconvenient for her uncle to come frequently to tell them they were wanted on the phone. However, her father said it sounded reasonable, but there was a great need of money at present. And Auntie Mary added that when they had their new house built, they would have a telephone put in.

Another year had passed. Their new house had been built, but no telephone was put in. Rose’s father said that her brother was then in Senior II and that soon he would go to university.

One afternoon Rose’s uncle shouted across the road that Rose should come to take a phone call. So Rose put down her knife and fork and ran out across the street. She had been waiting for the call for ages, for she had fixed the time to have a chat with her boyfriend on the phone. But when she was in the middle of the road, a speeding car ran over her…

Auntie Mary felt her all over, crying with a broken heart.

Auntie Mary had a phone put in her new house. But she went slightly mad towards the end of her life. Whenever she went, she would murmur to herself, “Telephone, telephone, telephone…”