By Robert Hegwood.
“Miss Allie sang The Evening Shade all night before the blaze, and did not cease her singing till the kindling of the day. She fell silent when her father strode through the old barn door. Yet, no tear betrayed her heartbreak, when he hurried to his chore. He looped five yards of hempen rope and secured it to a beam, then dropped its noose above a stool doused in kerosene. The family’s name had been despoiled, and Allie was to blame. The child within she got unwed, till her father purged their shame. Now a fair white rose from the black earth grows, where once had blossomed flame.”
The song belonged to a woman, black as tar, who bent to the ear of an aged man who struggled to eat a stack of pancakes with strawberry syrup. “Is that true, you old sinner?” she said, a warm smile upon her face. “That where it happened?” She gestured to a rose mantled stanchion of charred wood jutting from the earth. The fragrant white blossoms made vivid contrast with its uncharacteristically long red thorns. “Folks says Allie’s mother planted a rose she got from a cutting off a bush that grew near the home of her daughter’s once beloved.” The caretaker wiped away a dribble, “I only seen one other rose like that one. It growed on my grandmother’s garden fence. Don’t I knows how much you loves to hear this story, Mr. G. And, you know I loves to tell it.”