Copyright Karlene Kubat 2002

Careless Child by Karlene Kubat

I would I were a careless child, Still dwelling in my highland cave, Or roaming through the dusky wild, Or bounding o’er the dark blue wave; . . . .Byron

I

The boat was rolling, reminding her of the smoothness of New Zealand’s enormous Interislander, Aratere, with its six decks, two of them for cars and cargo. Along with its sumptuous

pleasures, she recalled the mesmerizing rumble, a gentle lullaby of sound easing passengers between the picture perfect little fishing cove of Picton on the north end of South Island and blustery and blowing, hill-tucked Wellington on the south end of North Island. The ferry she was on now, the Coho, was actually

traveling from Port Angeles, Washington to the Inner Harbour of Victoria on Vancouver Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The trip took nearly two hours, during which time she

tried but failed to escape heavy thoughts, her weary eyes

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 2 transfixed on rough water and drizzling skies. For a time she

attempted to think of the in-betweeness of ferries, not even to think of it but to reside in that place, in that arrested time where one forgot what they were: commercial vessels bearing lives from point to point in routine, leisurely, or regretted passages. In that captive pause they collaborated as aloof and

graceful engines of escape, gliding over the timeless waters. She mused that she could actually chart some of her life by the routes of ferries, having so frequently crossed various placid and stormy waters of the miraculously hydrated planet. The misty cyan-blue hills over by Sooke Harbour rose and fell on the horizon as the port edged up into the sky then dropped back into the choppy Juan de Fuca Strait. The steady

roll hinted of malaise, assisted by an anxiety which she hoped to dispel at her familiar and unfailing destination. Was she far enough away yet? No, she would never get far Deliverance

enough away, unable to run from what was inside.

was only from immediate disintegration not from the underlying cause. right? Why can’t I get it right? Why can’t I ever get it

Finally she had found something which made her fall into Then its

a stillness without the echo of self-accusation.

continuance reached a startling impasse -- so untenable she had to run simply to free herself from the fear of having but having not. “You liar. Liar!” echoed her impulsive and regretted cry, She remembered the

a flimsy accusation that a child might make.

endearing bronze hand reaching out, hesitating a moment then dropping back in a tight fist. you go, Kate. “It doesn’t matter how far away

One day you’ll look up and there I’ll be,” his

message later pursued her, the memory easily flaying her heart. It was perpetual misery to think of her accusation, her confused conduct. It didn’t fit the moment that had engendered

it at all, should really have been aimed at her own self-

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 3 deception. The boat rolled sharply and she clenched her teeth Just a short bit more and you’ll be in

in a wave of nausea.

your room, your lovely walnut-paneled room, wrapping its comforting old history around another wrecked endeavor. on. Hang on. The long, long plane ride from down under on exceptionally proficient Air New Zealand had imprisoned her with recurring and unwanted memories, causing a relentless ache mimicking that of a broken bone. Unpacking and repacking lightly in her Seattle Hang

apartment, she had swiftly driven from Seattle onto the Peninsula, headed for the Port Angeles ferry with her body all rigid tension behind the wheel. She could have reached Victoria

via the passenger-only jet boat from the downtown wharf; driving over to the Port Angeles dock simply made her work at something. Finally disembarking the Coho, she took a taxi to the grand old Tudor guest house sprawling over its solid promontory -- a Victoria landmark which had become a restful home away from home. Nowadays home was any extended time in one place. The

pleasant and accommodating owner welcomed her as a familiar patron and no more, respecting her wish for privacy. Here, she

sometimes encountered the same people in the same generously appointed rooms, most of which, from various angles and levels of the three stories, had a view of Juan de Fuca Strait and the snowy Olympic Mountain Range across the restless waters in Washington. The ground floor walnut-wainscoted room, in which

she took refuge, faced out on the strait and the cloud-shrouded Olympic Range in full and spectacular panorama. It was a

familiar place in which she sometimes managed to heal herself sufficiently for another foray, after covering a bruising war or failing at a private existence; the personal encounters were always afforded minimal time, just enough time for a ruinous or eagerly desired end.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 4 Lan wouldn’t follow her to Seattle, and certainly never find her in Victoria. When he wrote that, he must have meant

that she would look up and find him foremost in her thoughts, needed sorely enough for her to give up whatever defined her. He didn’t realize what she could withstand. Her attenuated

frame and painfully sensitive mind were surprisingly resilient, could be very tough, a toughness that had formed like the thickening scar of a repeated abrasion. Sweltering flack

jackets and loud explosions and tumid, fly-covered, ripped-apart bodies had given her mettle when there was nothing else left but stubborn spirit. That toughening process had actually started She would come through this but she was

at a very early age.

tired to the bone, couldn’t remember and didn’t care what day it was. The tiredness itself was familiar. When one constantly

moved around the world, days went forward and backward; hours shifted into timeless periods of waiting, of merely lying down or standing up and then hurtling forward by sheer force of will. For two days she didn’t leave her room, offering a few platitudes when a gangly and equally taciturn British girl came in to make the bed and restock the refrigerator. She arose late

and sat with her arms propped on the table by the window, staring out at the distant snowy peaks across the changing shades of water. With an old pair of binoculars left lying on

the table for guests, the high snow fields yielded mysterious crevasses, the clean slopes dazzling in brief late winter sun or hidden in blue moon shadow or peeking through morning sea fog. She stared and stared as if a definitive answer would emerge from the stippled water or the cunning mountains or perhaps even the floating gray clouds. “I collect clouds, nothing else but

clouds,” she had told Lan, standing on the sheep-grazed, cloudbacked South Island plain. “Then ya can have all of this: Aotearoa, the land of the

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 5 long white cloud.” “I’ve heard the other expression: the land of the wrong white crowd,” she said, and knew she had ruined the moment, ruined the most generous offering perhaps another more pliable nature could have hoped to obtain. white cloud. But The land of the long

How lyrical and tantalizing the expression, and

how exhilarating she found the amazing land itself. After her regrettable comment there had been a moment of uncomfortable silence. He looked at her with those inscrutable,

very extraordinary Maori-tinged eyes holding something she didn’t want. She thought it was pity. Don’t pity me, Lan. He

I’ve had quite a life, and still a ways to go, if I make it.

seemed to know himself so well; an enviable condition beyond her experience. She had never fit comfortably anywhere, outside, This discomfiture was The moment she

always outside and belonging to nothing. the catalyst for all her constant motion.

settled anywhere for any length of time the anxiety, the restless sleep and threatening dreams fell over her like a smothering blanket. That unimaginable place in the South Pacific had held her like no other, held her for a perfect moment, as he had held her. There was a man who wouldn’t stand for any of her glibly

spouted rationalizations, who mocked her excuses and cut her off in the middle of a facile explanation which had become her practiced method of avoiding commitment. was his incisive charge. “Listen to yourself,”

No other had ever suggested it.

She had gone to New Zealand to cover the America’s Cup races. For her that sort of reportage doubled as a vacation.

The idea of escaping the carnage of the world for a few short weeks had lifted her spirits and enhanced the woefully neglected carefree side of her nature. Katharine Gordon had, in a sudden

spate of self-indulgence, allowed herself the liberty of light-

Ultimately. too habitually independent. once From that experience she had constructed a marvelous avoidance which involved a brief span of superficial friendliness and a comparatively hasty exit. Indeed many areas of the city were like unique villages. too unneedful to ever be thought of as a companion for more than a short season. A few indications of these Maori fortified villages known as pa . too competent. Waitemata and Manukau. from their point of view. Out of sight was out of mind Learning that in his bitter world of blame and self-absorption. certain men were bound to fall in love with her.6 heartedness. knew that eventually they would tell her she was too smart. simply to put her in her place. deceptively serene but startling malachite eyes and the ironic smile playing into a smirk of amusement. severely. without the tall buildings. mistrust had come much earlier. She it was a mistake. That recently less frequent transition could be a When this rare condition accompanied her pleasure to observe. blundering into his path. there were also many she didn’t escape. for Auckland had almost none very tall. Learning to As a child of five she had already been conditioned to recognize her father’s brutal smile as the precursor of a hard slap. It had happened. Her first view of Auckland with its bustling harbor reminded her a bit of San Francisco. from hers. Any longer and they might feel a strong desire to mistreat her. restored from Victorian times and retaining their flavor in trendy upscale shops and restaurants. giving it a friendly village-like atmosphere for a city of nearly a million souls. Auckland glimmered in the sun nestled between the blue-green waters of its two harbors. adage saved her many a beating but. some with manicured emerald slopes holding remnants of a thousand-year old occupation. even harshly.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . it was usually an imposition. and sprawling over or beneath some fifty volcanic cinder cones.

“Ya will never get it back. “I’ve come for America’s Cup. as if she had been lightly struck..a vivid counterpoint to the grand modern Skytower reaching into the clouds and offering a splendid view of near and far islands. . an indelible stare which left her usual sharp wit stillborn in her throat: gold-ringed black eyes half teasing and amused. in the America’s Cup Village. Yet it was something altogether Her smile faded. allowing a cursory smile as she made her exit.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . unrevealing of anything beyond a superficial interest. and still feeling cheerfully on holiday. different. not without Kiwi sailors. giving the city a special panache that welcomed Katharine with the promise of a buoyant and rejuvenating stay..eventually..” Katharine turned around and found herself looking into the rarest of dark eyes. “Not ever in the Hauraki Gulf. accented reply. Not long after arriving in this North Island sea town.7 remained as sacred sites -. a resonant male voice behind her said.” The accent of her voice had of course made it clear that she was an American. and blithely announced to the clerk in a teasing voice. as if an argument would be a delight. She felt a sharp sting of irritation as she swung through the glass doors and walked along Quay Street West. “I think we will get our Cup back.” came the swift and.ah well. sporty conviviality. Before the surprised clerk could mouth the same sentiment as the one which came resoundingly over her shoulder. heading over to the outdoor tables of a restaurant and bar called The Loaded Hog. The hundreds of sailboat masts seen everywhere added an airy. yet with a strange fierceness resembling anger and. for she had forgotten that she came in to buy a souvenir baseball cap.” she said. to her. she was cockily certain. she had walked into the New Zealand sailing team’s signature store of apparel and gifts..

She rested her folded hands a bit rigidly in the lap of her tan linen slacks and stared toward the waiter at another table. and he was quite late. She turned around and saw the same very tan face and angular body. “Please bring me a large Guinness. “Is it?” she said softly and smiled to herself. dark-haired young woman. laying it over the empty chair at her table.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . with what she was beginning to hear as an American accent. occasionally glancing at her leather-strapped wristwatch and feeling the eyes.” “Good on ya. His white shirt sleeves were fastidiously rolled. The day was steamy warm. staring at her with his chin in his palm and his elbow resting beside a tall beer while the other arm was flung across the back of the young woman’s chair. Probably a lot of sailing folk. Although. as it was just down the street from the wharf where most of the sailing syndicates were located. friendly place with all of those New Zealand accents flying back and forth across her table. Finally. she had his attention and she said.8 It was a noisy. shaking her head in wonder and looking at her watch. which she had .” came the arresting voice she had just escaped. and under the present circumstances she was more than a little annoyed. for it was known as the City of Sails and one in ten Aucklanders owned a boat. and she removed the cream linen jacket that hung unbuttoned over her pale green silk blouse. the entire city of Auckland could be described as a lot of sailing folk. She was supposed to meet a news photographer at two o’clock. She sat sipping her beer. Katharine Gordon was always as punctual as she was punctilious in her work relationships. He leaned on one hand. half in the shadow of a spreading umbrella and seated beside an attractive. the neck of the shirt open over a thorax well acquainted with the sun’s searing coloration.

she wondered. As she was taking her last swallow the photographer. introducing himself and then remembering to introduce Katharine. who occasionally glanced at her as her name came up. Lachlan Manutane.the sound rang in her ears. she was well accustomed to the extreme adoration or hatred Americans could generate. Taylor glanced at the man and at her. across the green water. headache. and knew that her voice could not be heard it was so soft and far beneath the ubiquitous chatter driving against her ears. and Taylor stuck out his hand. slid into the other chair. Her head at that precise moment began a furious throbbing. Perhaps this curious Kiwi finds Americans intriguing. He smiled at her.” while talking a mile a minute about having just come off a flash chase boat that would be used in the races. which Taylor had made no attempt to pick up. Apparently he was the owner of a large sheep and She heard herself described as a cattle ranch on South Island. She heard the name for the first time: Muh-nay-ta-neh -. when it was handed to her by a tall frame ducking under the umbrella.9 been unable to make herself meet a second time. Cash Taylor. . After years of necessary travel. there were the relentless eyes again. an incredibly generous. She felt the heat in her face. boring into her back. What could possibly be so interesting about me? especially with a lovely woman like that seated nearby. knocking her jacket to the cement and offering a lame “Sorry I’m late. “Thank you. She looked away She felt the beginnings of a She looked up. In the next several minutes Katharine had to suffer in silence while her loose-tongued colleague chatted chummily with Lachlan Manutane. and The man hesitated a moment.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” she said. gleaming smile that she could not begin to reciprocate in her now flagging state. She was about to retrieve her jacket. The air was muggy.

too miserable even to protest Cash Taylor’s vaunting manner and outrageous liberty in describing the way she handled her profession. switching vowels around then biting them off or stretching them almost beyond comprehension and boxing the ears of eloquence.” Lachlan Manutane said in a voice that was the sound of his countrymen and yet a little impatient and capricious to her. Just parked around the corner. a taxi..” Taylor said.but thank you. Rani. “No worries.” “This is my sister. or . Kate.your It was nice meeting you.. I think I need to get back to my room.10 sort of globetrotting Wonder-Woman reporter in town for the races. can you snag a taxi? I said I’d have some tucker with the mates on the boat. dropping her head into her hands. afternoon. It’s Perhaps he very mistakenly thought he was doing my head. “Gee. “I’m sorry. her a service.. “Yes. She just managed an apologetic smile to his serious young female companion still seated at the next table and said. pleased with his newly acquired verbiage and glancing at his watch. I’ll drop ya. I wouldn’t want to interrupt your.. Wait for me here.” she was at last forced to say. standing up.” she said. Yet when this man spoke like that and looked at her so directly it did things to her stomach which had nothing to do with her steadily worsening headache.. and then tuned the rest out.. feeling a little faint and looking at Taylor. laying out money for their bill and looking a bit forlornly off down the street.sometimes the barometric pressure does that.” Manutane quickly explained as he stepped back to his table and offered her name to his sister: “Katharine Gordon. “Oh.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” What might have been Katharine’s customary reluctance. while I get Miss Gordon to her hotel. Rani. no.

to vomit. “Will ya look at me.” “Please. “Come. He took the key out of her trembling hand. figuring it out. She was leaning against a Otherwise. “I.something cool on my head. I think. her room.understand. “It is sultry this time of the year in Auckland.. The dark eyes assessing her condition. then held the bundled ice gently against her forehead. He walked her all the way to the door of She had not looked at him once. Just let me go in and lie down.” Then they were inside her room.” room. better.. “Need some help. I don’t know you.” She didn’t move.thank you.” Your photographer mate has no manners. a dark I have some pills. muttering in a ragged voice when he returned. “Can ya hold this while I get a glass of water?” She grasped the cold bundle.South Island. was overcome with pained urgency as she got into his Range Rover and silently rode the few blocks over to the Hyatt Regency.” she said and thought she would swoon or very soon vomit. please?” She lifted her pounding head and felt the weakness in her knees.. He pulled off her sandals.. and he was bringing ice from somewhere. “Ya really do have a headache. I think I’m going chair.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..” he said.” “No.. “That’s what we’re doing here. fumbling for her key. closed her eyes and moaned softly with the waves of pain.I need to lie down. “Where I live it’s better -.. She remained silent. Light and sound were becoming unbearable. wrapped in a wash cloth.. I’ve “Fortuitous. opened the door and said.” “I’m sorry.don’t.. closed the covering her eyes. She flung herself on the bed and rolled onto her back.” “A migraine. curtains..11 possibly even dismissal..why you’re here. dry hot wind. .. I’ll get ya some ice.

swallowed is working.just leave me.” he said.” “No. Katie-bird. it was he who had brought her the two pills which so efficiently knocked her out. She called down for a sandwich and ate it before the television. switching on a bedside lamp and staring around the room. exotic looking places on both islands that she wished she had time to visit: Abel Tasman National Park with giant silver ferns and black ferns and wood pigeons and tiny jewel-green beaches far below the trails. Ten o’clock.” “I’m just going away for a little while. but had no idea what time it was as she squinted at the digital clock. which was essentially gone. mama. another one. “I’ll stay with ya until ya fall asleep. please don’t leave me. Suppose they’ll help. crying out and sweating in a dark room.. Here.” “I can’t just leave ya. No.from your kit bag. Pangs of hunger were at least a sign of returning lucidity. that anyone else had been there. watching a tourism station which was touting lovely. please.” Katharine struggled up from her dream. There was no sign Perhaps she had imagined him..” “No. Then she remembered Lachlan Manutane and sat up.. mama.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She stared in awe at the . What room? Where? She remembered the headache. Green as the Hauraki Gulf. I’ll Not until I see if that stuff ya come back to you soon and we’ll hunt for lady-slippers in the meadow. An essential prescription There was no cure for a migraine but unconsciousness. Take swallow this.” *** “Please. but of course not.. and then leaping whales off Kaikoura and joyful porpoises choreographing their playful frolicking in the airy world above the sea surface. I won’t ever see you again. she always carried. if it could be achieved. mama.12 never seen eyes like yours.

remembering his face. having dallied in the Skytower casino. and had also obtained rather interesting comments from their wives. an outdoorsman’s tan. I’ll try to find an address and send him a thank No I won’t. tan forehead. abused her. Cash They would More benignant eyes than those had once None of that mattered. cheek bones. this time along with dinner at Gault’s on Quay -. An intelligent well molded face with high you note. The pain had precluded any consideration of this special attention. and unreadable. but the strange eyes altogether amused. herself. better to forget about it and get on with her Taylor had arrived late.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . The tall dark figure leaning over her with the ice. work. just in time to run his shutter for the accompanying photographs. she vetoed herself. weatherized hands. but nothing else must be set It was only a passing kindness. in motion. a full firm mouth and a straight Gaelic nose. Periodically his face. and now it came to her that it was certainly a generous kindness.500 years. unsummoned and unsettling. she decided. Later over a glass of chardonnay. had managed to interview two of the men who would be crewing on the sleek Kiwi boat. By the end of the following day Katharine. with her usual methodical perseverance. they reached maturity at the ripe old age of 1. gum was nearly indestructible and much prized. Their extruded Magnificent at two hundred feet and with a massive girth which dwarfed the human figure. brook no foolishness. she reminded Still. fierce. but surprisingly gentle and ministering. black waves of hair above that high. his voice flashed across her mind.it would be rather embarrassing to . She had not thanked him and suddenly thought of herself as another ugly American. powerful. listening to their history.13 giant kauri trees.

repulsed by it. shoot will you please--” “All right. “I.. you So in the future when we need a You’re really going to make was often. land. me work. do you want to meet some guys I know? have long sailboats and fat wallets. openfronted violet silk shirt.. wild and curly bleached blond hair. in a sleeveless chiffon dress. but when I do business I do business and I’m on time for my appointments.well.sort of unusual and a. have thought this was rather like a holiday. cut loose. took another swallow of her chardonnay and studied Cash with her head turned to one side. in fact.she complained to Cash about his haphazard attention to business. swallowing a bite of perfectly seared swordfish. Cash? Have you lost it completely?” They “I mean. know your reputation precedes you..14 run into Lachlan Manutane again at The Loaded Hog -. I can’t keep people waiting while you lounge on someone’s sailboat. Everything he wore would most certainly have the appropriate label.” The evening was again sultry and this time she was dressed for it. all right. gamble away the hours. aren’t you?” She put down her fork. white with red flowers. and some of them might even go for your type: the smart lady journalist who sings rhythm and blues. lay-dee.” she said. and the gold earring were all of a piece well familiar to her in the world in which she moved. “Look. You said you once sang Work a little boogie down under in Kiwi Why not rustle up some high-end Kiwis and swing low?” “High-end Kiwis? Swing low? What on earth are you talking about..sexy. Cash was staring brazenly at her . Hey. I’ll get there.. duchess.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and red high-heeled sandals. Cash. She was never at ease with this marvelous superficialty.. too. “Oh come on. The brash blue eyes. or swill beer somewhere out of range. with a band in college.

*** Helmsman Ian Smith was a skilled and experienced man of the sea. Upon their first encounter Katharine felt that she had possibly found a heavy-weather friend. And this time you pay the bill. staring out at the sloshing opaque green waters. and quite adept at dealing with the constant stream of people surrounding their competitive lives. stood up. “I’m afraid my type finds your type off the chart. private gathering while sojourning in a strange place. in just that mood of alienation and gratitude she decided to turn up. that you’re on time for the morning shoot with the U. grinders. her first impression was augmented by Margaret’s demonstrated perspicacity. she reminded Strolling along slowly she came to a bench and sat The wife of the Kiwi crew’s helmsman had invited her to a It felt good to be invited to a barbecue the following evening. Ian’s wife Margaret was very skilled behind the helm herself. down. and swinging are two different things in my book. a highly respected sailor familiar with every shiver of water and shifting wind in the mercurial Hauraki Gulf. and she wanted to douse him with her full water glass. Singing I think this You work a lot Please see better when you’re wearing ear muffs and a parka. She remained standing for a while.S. a smooth deftness at handling social obligations. Okay?” She finished her chardonnay. As the late afternoon progressed.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . placed her thinstrapped red leather purse over her shoulder and sauntered out of the restaurant. The equator was up north. Nearer the water there was a gentle breeze. a cool and level head with a genuine interest in others and a much appreciated sense of humor. is the last time I’ll be dining with you.15 breasts. Cash. The Americans would be hard-pressed to wrest their Cup from the savvy crew Katharine had been getting to know. Her inclusive rather than exclusive manner was especially . herself.

and the rest of the perimeter pungent eucalyptus trees.” Katharine laughed. Please tell me what I can It I’d like to make myself useful.16 endearing to Katharine’s lonely heart. but this did not preclude a generous friendliness toward Katharine.” “Oh.” “Just call me Kate and I’ll respond to all directives.” Margaret assured her. The large back yard was a veritable jungle of broad-leaved plants and spidery clusters of flowers in various colorful hues.since I’ve had the nerve to arrive early.” The caterers will do most . Guess I’m a cold-blooded Northwestern American. “Oh. so lush. “Although I might have put ya to work if ya hadn’t worn such a lovely dress.” “Yeah. was partially ringed with a thick stand of golden-trunked bamboo.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Really. “Am I rudely early?” Katharine had asked as she came up the walk of the Smith’s large white bungalow-style house. Katharine followed the trim young woman.. do.. focusing on her tan shorts and blue shirt and the enviably long tan legs. it was perched on a cinder cone hill in a suburb of Auckland. I’m flattered that you’ve come early.” We’re all used to that. “No such thing as rudely early around here. and pointed to the brick walk leading around to the back of the sprawling house. The Kiwis were rousingly competitive when it came to the race against the Americans. Ya could arrange some silver on that table at the end of the deck while I answer the phone. suppose. “I travel light and this chiffon thing is cool. a veiled loneliness for friendship never very intentionally addressed. it is a bit sultry. this is lovely. I Margaret fluffed her feathery hair with quick fingers. everything else. This sultry weather really takes me down. Katharine.

and the sailing... You Kiwis really have no idea Everything was moving just fine. Margaret returned with tall frosty glasses of iced tea. in this beautiful country so far away from the threat and strife of the troubled world?” Katharine asked. what a traffic jam looks like. problems. Margaret. and we were lucky enough to have . same as everywhere else.” “But you. unemployment. a lot of us have been lucky and we’re heaps proud of our country.. I took a shuttle in from the airport and heard homecoming passengers complaining about the traffic jam on the motorway.or I guess you’d say car parks.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Well.. Seattle has one of the most congested freeways in the nation.” “Yeah. “Yeah. our narrow little roads get pretty jammed sometimes. but you have to travel a long way for the diversity you apparently have condensed in these two lovely islands.you must have had a wonderful childhood with all of this incredible variation in nature to play in.” Margaret said. and they sat down in lawn chairs on the patio and visited in the few minutes left to them before the others arrived. and I hope you never find out. any traffic jam. but things aren’t always spot on around here.. alcoholism.17 Katharine said with cheerful laughter. Sometimes the freeways are just giant parking lots. We’re a part of this troubled world. I didn’t see It looked like clear sailing to me. We have our wonky Family politicians and plenty of other troubles. My country has great beauty.” “At least you don’t yet have a population problem. “All that being true. My brother and I learned to sail when we were still practically little anklebiters. “What must it be like to grow up in this beautiful life.. I still have to add that every life and every place has its own sort of strife.

something cloudy and vague that would involve puffery somewhere else to counteract an obscure wrongdoing which could never or must never be revealed. I was a worthless child. “We’ll talk more later. Darkness slid across the sky. it was like pointing the finger at a self which had done something shameful.” Katharine sipped her iced tea with intentional evasiveness and thankfully noticed that people were starting to arrive. Within an hour the spacious back yard had been transformed into a cheering section for the Vulcan’s Fire crew and the entire syndicate. She Ultimately. but I got high marks at school.” Katharine said. Jennifer says you’re being paged. didn’t like talking about herself. “Excuse me. It had taken her years to realize what was happening to her and to learn to cope with it.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. and the lights strung through the trees winked on. not always successfully. a guilt which could actually change her chemistry. take-charge body already in motion. her history. Katharine sat on a bench under arching sprays of vivid pink bougainvillea.had a grandmother who took very good care of me when she finally took charge.” Margaret said. webbed floral bracts and spiky plants. The end result was always a consuming guilt.18 a family that liked to tramp all over the place. Yes. leaning forward and touching Katharine’s arm.. creating interesting abstract shadows among the lacy. the conflicting aspects of reportage.” “It seems to me that you could hike around North and South Island all of your life and never run out of spectacular places. discursively chatting in journalese with a sports writer for the New Zealand Herald. I’ve only seen videos of your parks on television but they’re a mouthwatering temptation. “What about you. with her lively. “I didn’t have a conventional one. Phillip.” a They were well into . your family? What did ya do?” Margaret asked.

right. With her back against the cooling verdure and the stars coming out she felt almost comfortable. almost a part of something solid and ongoing and admirable. saw me. right but I’d rather hear Lan...yes. Still smiling.. “My friends always... to see him win.totally lost my manners.” “Yes. It’s why I’ve come north.” “I’m careful. state that I... your kindness.19 voice sang out from the dim shadows..but ya were drinking Guinness. surprised me. Mr. Lachlan Manutane Ya looked more relaxed before ya Ya did say it Do ya go by Kate?” . the words just audible over the band warming up at the foot of the garden.” came a voice springing out of the recent past. “Ah. even when I give my wife the pager I can’t escape.headaches. “Oh!” Katharine cried out as she jumped to her feet and turned around. now that we’ve met again I’ll make amends I was in such a miserable Thank you so much for for not thanking you the other day.. You really Well.didn’t mean to sound so.” “Will ya please sit down..” After Katharine had sat back down. laughing voices. smell of eucalyptus was delicious.” “I’m sorry.” Lachlan Manutane said..” “Ah. Manutane. it cures one thing and causes another. I’ve known him just that long.” “You’ve no glass in your hand. “Ian and I were schoolmates...” the sports writer said in a regretful voice. He rose and left to answer his call. “Even in this bosky darkness I can tell you’ve no headache tonight. for he truly seemed to be enjoying their talk.did I say it right?” “I understood how ya were the other day.. Katharine sat staring at the crowd of buzzing. “What are you doing here?” The “I might ask the same question.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .

She couldn’t look away. Another white shirt.or boredom?” “What?” she said. taking in his apparel. He smiled. and hopeful of keeping her Too close to this man and she seemed to forget distance. very casual remark. surprised that he would touch her like that.. nerves. staring off at the band. His wristwatch flashed a gold She watched his allusive lips curve over even white . glowing in the darkness. a stranger.. Her wary head quickly dropped. placing his empty glass below the bench.” She turned toward him for the first time and stared into his face.. Careful. her head had stiffened and trembled. Katharine.. his idea “That’s. the dark eyes holding the small sparkling lights that hung above in the trees. She was now far from relaxed. it doesn’t translate as casual.” “Oh. raising his hand to thrust his fingers through a lock of hair blown into his eyes. He moved closer.” “When I’m thoroughly interested in something..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .not a and her heart began to speed up.20 casually settled beside her. glint. I suppose. She reminded herself that he had watched her as the anodyne carried her from pain into sleep. It must have been the intimacy resulting from the headache. but this time jeans and deck shoes without socks. Something had ignited inside of her. vulnerability in a shared experience evoking a certain affinity. Before his hand dropped. then reached toward her and lifted her chin until he had her averted eyes fixed on his. “Am I causing nerves. things.” she said. snapping up straight. A cooling breeze brushed against her flushed face. “What does it cure?” “What?” “Alcohol.someone.. of a friendly encounter and yours are two entirely different things.

Come and dance with us. it occurs to me that you might only be interested in one thing. Come and rescue me..” “I’ve recognized ya. If only she What knew more people here.. and then swallowed slowly as she tried to think how to get away without showing any emotion. Rani. Lan. “Since you don’t know me from Eve..and I really--” “And ya don’t know me. around for one thing.. Kate? Bloody sure I’m behaving myself. Sorry to be so..I’m sorry. “I think.” he said.. without showing anything at all.familiar.” “Now you’re insulting me.. Ya promised.” She tossed her head with a flash of anger at his accuracy.” she began.. but I’m just here in New Zealand on business. Katharine realized it was Lachlan’s sister.” I thought I’d heard them all. “Oh for heaven’s sake! I think so.21 teeth.. us you’d dance. “Why should I fool around with inane banter to get where we already are? Ask Margaret..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. laughing. “There ya are. but I’m working.I’m just. Kate. too. “I’m trying to find out.” A pretty young girl with a bouncing black braid and wearing shorts and a halter came hurrying up. “What? It’s just that you.” “And I’m more?” she said with flippant sarcasm. .I’m not really who. and said.” You’re a stroppy little wahine. her eyes searching through the crowd for Margaret.. There are plenty of bodies Sometimes more is wanted. Why had this man fastened on her? had she done to incur such intense focus? She almost spoke aloud: What have I done to make you act like this? He leaned in close to her face and said.. Margaret.so direct. It may not look like it at the moment. “Why’re ya so skittish.. She’ll tell ya I’m direct. but you’re so.” Ya promised Come on. and felt a wash of relief.

“Hello.free. I was once. shaking her head and looking very disturbed.” “Then you’re free to do what ya want. “It means But she won’t be doing just great if she doesn’t take her little backside out of here right now.22 “Haere atu. her eager voice almost desperate.” he said. Rani. waited until ya were free... Rani.. “Box of birds. “You spoke Maori to Rani. being the polite fellow that I am. Even when she turned to walk away. anyway?” “I was watching ya earlier. she’s doing just great..” Lachlan said with a low cool voice.just told her to rack off. How are you?” Katharine swiftly chimed in. Once again they were quite alone..why you’ve decided to--” “What. until she vanished into the somewhat removed but noisily chattering crowd. and then I saw ya talking to Phillip.” “Are ya married?” “No.” “How did you happen to find me hidden away here.” “I don’t understand why you’ve fastened on me. sorry because she was not at all in control of herself. “What?” Katharine responded with surprise. Nice to see you again..” Rani answered. You’re acting bloody rude.” “I was trying to spare ya that.ya have no self-esteem?” .” “I’m not. and Katharine was sorry she had chosen such an isolated place to enjoy the garden.. Lachlan threw back his head.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . she could be seen looking over her shoulder from time to time.. enjoying her baffled reaction with a thoroughly self-indulgent rush of laughter. and.” Rani backed up slowly. “It’s an expression ya haven’t heard.

“I didn’t intend to look for ya again until after the races. almost caving her knees. all with names. lucky. I mean I’ve never.. “What?” “It’s an old Scottish expression of my mother’s.” “Was I ordering ya around? expressing my pleasure.. Sonsy...23 “Yes. He put his hand on “Where is the Southern her shoulder..” Katharine said. many kinds..” “Lachlan.” “I’ve admired it in the shops. dropping her head back to study the sky.jade. It’s very beautiful.and pride in my country.but ya will.enough to get by.means good fortune.” “Ya don’t like my country?” “It must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.” “You’ve seen nothing.” Here.” Please excuse me. “Yeah. please understand that I’m a very independent person..” “Good. fortuitous. something you’d like to ask me?” “You really are quite amazing. and she felt an electric pulse shooting through her in that touched spot. Cross?” He laughed softly then stood up and said.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . there is something I’d like to ask you.the little I’ve seen of it.” “Pounamu?” “Greenstone.. I was only Is there But here ya are. I don’t take well to being ordered around.Lan. He pulled her in against his chest and pointed overhead into the myriad .” “The day my work is finished is the day I leave. “Come away from these lights... when your work was finished.. true nephrite.. Ya have pounamu eyes and you’re no nonsense....” They walked over into the shadows beside the trunks of bamboo and looked up at the star-filled sky. I do. Yes..

” He spun her around and stared down into her startled eyes. Can ya see it? Wonderful. she still saw the curl of smile. he perhaps gave her the chance to refuse his embrace. beyond the ridiculous.” she said in a whispery voice. manuhiri.four lovely stars on your flag.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . but there was nothing she could do about it. “Follow my hand. sliding over her parched lips. “Hongi. I’ve seen the Southern Cross... the shadowed well at his throat. wanted that drink. but. Right there. then drew her slowly in until their noses just touched. She was working and in the wrong place for anything like this.” For a few wavering seconds.24 stars. part of a ceremony. “A Maori gesture. With eyes The gently increasing force of his pliant mouth.” How wonderful. warm and whiskey-tinged. his refined Scottish nose. she was looking at his tilted face. Instead.. but her hands didn’t work. closed. beyond even fear. She thought she was resisting that overconfident mouth. It was he who drew back.. His faint scent of Scotch and citrus made her suddenly crave a swallow of her favorite old iced Scotch with its twist of lemon.yes. intended that her hands push him away. She was far beyond any slight anticipation or the barely imagined. the angle of his chin.” she heard him say softly. she had thought. “The sharing of life breath. She could feel her entire body trembling out of It frightened her. then the delicate propriety vanished in unrestrained indulgence. looking at her and then catching . or worse.. sent her floating up into the realm of the Southern Cross.oh. Nothing worked but the desire to go on and on cradled in that powerful surge of commingled longing. At last She really “I don’t. control. and remembered that nosetouching was a Maori greeting.. wanted to do about it.

so sorry to interrupt. there ya are. She had withstood being shot at... yeah. Kate. also means thanks. “I hope you’re This must be quite a different scene from enjoying yourself. but Ian is looking for ya.. Will ya let me take ya sailing?” “I’m sorry... please talk to my friend He’s “I’m So much for good manners. .” “And that’s what I am.and I do thank ya.” “There you go again. That’s confusing.” Margaret sat down.. ya see? to insist.” “Don’t.when your work is finished. please. laughing and pointing through the ginger leaves at Rani who was dancing flamboyantly with one of the grinders.” Margaret said..” “Excuse me.... but had never been kissed with an effect that folded her body as though she had been shot.. Ya are going to come sailing with me.” The expression This is “I only said it was quite all right.strange little manuhiri.. ka pai. Embarrassed. making a toast..” Lachlan said.drinking anything. “Bloody-hell. Lan. she held on to steady herself.good. and just in time before I lose my head. “Margie. have ya really drunk nothing?” “I don’t remember..thank you.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Now I’ll have here while I toast Vulcan’s Fire and its soon-to-be-triumphant helmsman. winking at Katharine who blushed thoroughly and was glad for the welcome darkness.I don’t think so.I don’t understand.” “Oh.. “You’re drunk on something.25 her teetering self.” “There. though. coming up to them.” “I rather enjoy teasing ya. She turned back to Katharine and said. just a visitor.” He laughed and said.” “Ah.a manuhiri?” “Just a visitor....” “What is a.

Rang Manutane. mind ya.a very different sort of person.” “No.. I can see that you’re quite curious about I would not gossip behind his back.you are so wonderfully normal. and his mother is a Scot. given time. him. I’m prying.. Ian’s best friends. He’s very direct.” “What a choice compliment. Margaret. wanting very much to know more but disinclined to pry. but because her father had wanted her to marry the son of adjoining lands and combine their stations..” There was a moment of silence.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She was an only child.” Katharine said.he was named after his He’s a very old friend. he is. When she fell in love with Rang. tell me to shut up. “It seems to me that you’ve met Lan before this party. her father threatened to disown her. never had one.the man was a genius with animals -. one he ruled all right. but I’ll tell ya a few things that I know. Even his given name. “Oh. one of maternal great-grandfather. and even before Margaret spoke Katharine knew she was thinking of Lachlan Manutane.. as they say. and cattle lands on South Island. he would probably tell ya himself. her father had .26 your normal work. quick to explain her short encounter If with Lachlan and her headache. the heiress of heaps of sheep Her brusque hulk of a father. of course.” Katharine said. a handsome laborer on the station. pulls no punches. although I’ve never thought of any of my work as very normal. His father was Maori. not especially because he was Maori. bloody nearly made it into a kingdom.and.” “Yes.. I’m sorry.” “Lachlan is. He actually came to admire Rang Manutane -. They’re beastly I hear. Lucky me. But you. I’ve I just get the flimsy little ones that can be knocked down with an aspirin.. Donald McGregor. “Yeah. I feel as if I’ve known you all of my life. Mary McGregor.

that is white.... He has always gone back and forth between Pakeha. and leans toward the teachings of his father.for whom he really cared. and Rani was a foundling child. older than she appears. and there’s a Thoroughbred stud farm down west of Lake Taupo that belongs to him. Mary wanted a girl.. . mattered.speaks fluent Maori. Maori always have good He’s been quite positions on his places and in his businesses.... and Maori cultures. whom he certainly adores.27 no other heir. She’s Maori and adopted.” “So Lachlan Manutane is a prominent sheep rancher?” “Oh..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . lovely Rani..has turned his speak much.twenty-two. Rani understands Maori. He’ll always be Ian’s friend... As a boy he went through a rather wild period. yes. But it wouldn’t have He’s simple in his tastes. I think she’s ill.. I’ve heard mother and son converse in Maori.. Lan treats her like a child. much more. and they ran the place together. He tries to be a big brother to Rani and do what is best for her because it’s the wish of his mother. generous to the Vulcan’s Fire Syndicate. Rani is no blood kin.owns a restaurant here. holdings into a very profitable business. a She’s Lan.. so does his mother who learned the language to honor his father.. good girl essentially. Her She had married Rang.couldn’t have children after She’s terribly spoiled.. I really think she stays in that childish mode because she gets so much attention that way. daughter--” “Oh. Mary’s ten-year-old daughter drowned in a flood while on horseback.their private language. but I’ve never heard her Lan was educated at Oxford. or businesses.” “No.. I believe...anyway a recluse. In the end he left Mary the entire station.a very shrewd businessman. but quite spoiled. but his wise father soon straightened him out. except for a few interests in which he indulges.spurns most excess..

deftly and politely.I’ve seen him do it.” Katharine said. He likes to do his own choosing. She had suddenly thought of the opening line of Pride and Prejudice and was smiling over that: IT IS a truth universally acknowledged.. She died of a rare form of leukemia..” “How interesting this all is. “Oh.” “I’ll say. He was never quite the same -.28 His father was fishing at sea with friends when their boat capsized a few years ago in one of those sudden wicked storms. but he’d step over them -.” “It certainly broke his..” “I could. as I say.. and then he just suddenly straightened up and went on with empire building. they’re not blood related.. of course. Margaret.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .quite a moving story.the saddest story.to the most beautiful and clever girl ya could ever imagine. He was never found. with ya.before they even catch on to what’s happening. he was married.. no. “I imagine Lachlan would be considered quite a catch for some worthy girl. So now ya have a bit of personal history to take home . There are those who thought he might marry Rani. exactly my professional cup of tea.really almost a magazine piece in itself. and I’m sure he’d consider that incestuous. my heart to hear that.” “Good lord.” It really pains “Oh... that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. but it isn’t “Oh. I hope ya aren’t going to write it. I really doubt he’ll ever There are any number of women who’d fall at his feet. although they seem to have little in common.” Katharine laughed.he drank a lot for a while.. so sad. even though. find anyone like that again.absolutely breathtaking. the daughter of a Maori chief.. I’m beginning to stray into a place that is none of my business. But...

and I’ve still seen almost nothing of it.. She took ahold of Margaret’s arm before they reached the others and said. I have some early business to attend. “I did see those incredible They just made me want to run I’m crazy about nature. he required some more in-depth exchanges from time to time.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . this kind of nature. Margaret. sandflies. No thank you.29 “I’m really falling in love with this land. “I’d better go check on a few things. The She had enough misery resulting from her own history. Lachlan would step forward and assume that role simply for his own entertainment. Margaret.her proclivity for empathic sympathy would make her quite vulnerable. I’m so sorry but I have to leave.mix it in with theirs. information. Ya really can’t think of leaving without a good dose of the beauty that exists here. certain it was time to change the subject. tragic information which she had just acquired only made her want to run faster -. and you don’t even have anything here that bites. standing up. shook out the airy skirt of her dress. and my head feels . away and explore. let me introduce ya to a few more of the others. Perhaps I wish I had time. make sure the caterers don’t accidentally walk off with my silver. places on the tourist channel. we’ll find someone to show ya New Zealand. Come.” “Just one quite rare little poisonous spider: katipo. Certainly. I’d take ya to some lovely places.” Margaret said.” Katharine stood up. perhaps he thought she could presently fill that need. She suddenly realized that if Margaret now asked her friends for a helpful tour guide. and even more unsettling to her: why she had so ardently succumbed when she knew he likely preferred brief encounters on his way to wherever he was headed.” Katharine said. and. “Oh. of course. and walked along with Margaret.. Her head was awash with new She wondered what Lachlan had expected from that ruinous kiss.

ya could have let me drive ya back. night. I mean.” Margaret frowned. but I’m a little pissed -. gold-covered . please don’t bother anyone. What did Margie say to ya at that piss-up? meet.” *** Very early in the morning.. “Yes? Hello?” “Kate. “And I hope ya won’t leave until you’ve There’s a phone in the hall.can’t risk another headache. As for the rest.” “I’ll have someone drive ya back.not at all. we’ll just forget about the casual remark right now because I’m too drunk to argue. I hope we can spend more time together before I leave.damn you!” Katharine shouted at the dead phone.30 a little punk. And I’ll look forward to getting together.. I’ll wait until you’re quite finished with your work.. it’s three o’clock.and a lot pissed-off. Kate. Us. By the time she recovered from her outrage Good enough to stop tossing and turning it was nearly time to get up.damn you. a sealed envelope..” “No...” “What? Who? Oh.... I enjoyed our talk. taxi. winners.. Katharine’s phone rang and once again it took a few seconds to remember where she was.that’s drunk to you -.. She must’ve told ya I don’t kiss every woman I Lan. We’ll toast the properly seen New Zealand.” “Well. pounamu eyes. God.I’m sorry but I’m no good at casual relationships when I’m working. because I’m bloodyhell not through with ya... The late breakfast she ordered in her room came with a red hibiscus flower. and a smallish.. Lachlan..” “Incredible. Green Eyes.this time you kissed the wrong one.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .I’m. I’ll call a Thank you so much for inviting me.” “Look.” “Sorry..

carved in an oblong convex shape to accent the gorgeous vermilion streak curling diagonally through its green field like a rushing red river. because I was the foolish chap swallowing.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I should I can’t blame Ian for continually filling my glass. typing away and sending back stories to the magazine which held the contract for all of her New Zealand work.” she said to the moist green eyes in the mirror. Lan She sat with her arms resting on the chair. and she slipped the black cord over her head and walked to the mirror. “Oh. . Finally she snatched the envelope The note read: Katharine up in two fingers and broke its seal. Thinking of it even now. was a large pendant. never have called and spoken as I did. and is a rare form of the stuff your eyes are made of. I would have sworn that you would not do what you did last night: Leave without saying good-bye. remembering precisely how she had celebrated her first view of the Southern Cross. “you know you can’t keep this. her hand dangling over the side grasping the note as she stared into space. Green Eyes. and the Kiwis and Americans anything else. The object in the box is called Totoeka. Still. talking to all sorts of people in and around and involved with the races. The smooth. cool feel of it vibrated in her hand. and pulled off the lid of the square gold box.” *** When Katharine wasn’t sitting in her room with her laptop.31 gift box. she In a while she lifted the ribbon Nestled inside couldn’t rise from her chair. a very beautiful and mysterious piece of jade. Kate. Please forgive my conduct. It seemed that no one could talk or think of The races had begun. she was talking. I’ll see you after the races. like a mongoose circling a cobra. She stuck her hands into the pockets of her bath robe and walked slowly around the table which held these items.

I’ll have a ticket sent over to your hotel. the win was decided at the starting gun. and she intended to put in an appearance there.32 were battling it out in well-matched and finely tuned vessels. There was no lack of material for her deftly written stories. They were taking over the entire Fortuna Restaurant quarters. too.” Margaret said with a congenial flutter of her hand as she spun off toward the syndicate offices.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Whoever maneuvered into the most favorable position at the start more frequently emerged the winner. When they ran into each other on the crowded wharf. The Americans had invited Katharine to a smaller gathering. big twentyseven meter Vulcan’s Fire was consistently perfect to the second. work well. and rewatching later on television each night. barring strange and unforeseen accidents and exceptional boat design. Her only problem was keeping Cash Taylor He did perform his in line for the various shoots she arranged. and she knew it could not be. quite an accommodating space which normally offered a huge and varied buffet but would be turned into a spacious party hall complete with orchestra. The smooth starting-point jockeying of the Kiwi helmsman and his crew in their top-of-the-line. but his idea of punctuality was more laid back than she had ever seen it. where she could bite her nails in seclusion. she concluded that. Watching them fly through the mercurial course out on the green Hauraki Gulf. Margaret had just enough time to tell Katharine that there would be a large celebration at the Skytower if the Kiwis won. and he was pushing her good nature and high spirits to the edge with his frequent tardiness. articles tailored to captivate the magazine’s carefully researched readership. “You’re invited. and come . They made it look as easy as an aerobatic bird on the wing. and Ian Smith was a master at getting it right.

once with Rani and some other couples she didn’t know and a second time talking briefly in passing to Cash Taylor and then looking over in her direction. except previously the misery had been short-lived or nonexistent. as different as the man himself. if someone had to beat them. It was not an unfamiliar pattern. The initial jolt of excitement at seeing him left her foolishly adrift in confusing territory. She desired to know much more about him. What to do about the exquisite jade pendant? decided it must be given back.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . the last time. certain she would not be missed. glad that it was the deserving Kiwis. whatever the outcome. acing the American’s out of the favored side of good wind and sealing their fate. Still. This time was different. in another war zone. *** The race was over. she had watched Vulcan’s Fire come about as if in a pas de deux choreography and slide between the Committee Boat and the Americans and over the starting line with only feet to spare. regret at what might have been was better than suffering over the demise of a deeper attachment. position reigned. at once more thrilling than offensive. Before her. was another rerun in which a beaming Ian Smith raised high America’s . She had It was only the introduction to an assignation that would shortly end with herself in misery. She would soon be back Standing on various brinks of disaster swiftly banished disabling imbroglios of the self. made no attempt to approach her. She waved and turned away He had with her briefcase laptop attached to her other hand. inadvertently pondering small details and the intense directness of his gaze. She saw Lachlan Manutane only a couple of times from a distance.33 late to the Kiwi event. With patriotic anguish. Margaret’s friendly inclusion topped a list of other invitations which Katharine intended to forego. For She stared at her television screen. sorry for the Americans but.

ferreting for tidbits of useful information -. instead of her usual style of French roll. probably end up discreetly chatting here and there.” he was boasting.I . I was hoping for unobtrusiveness.34 Cup. “The Auld Mug seems to like it here.. The dress and a pair of black patent leather heels and her small black peau de soie clutch purse were all she intended to appear in and carry at the celebration. spaghetti-strapped bodice. taking it all in in her comforting role of observing journalist. Indeed. full. Kate?” Margaret asked with a surprised scrutiny of Katharine when she spotted her standing by a thick yucca spreading above a large jardiniere.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . slipping out an airy crepe evening dress she had splurged on in a trendy shop in the upscale inner suburb of Parnell. a straight but filmy short skirt below a plain.” Katharine held a “Good lord. Katharine thought the Auld Mug was rather generous of itself. she saw that the dark party dress made her softly streaked blond hair cast a gleaming contrast when she let it flow down almost touching her shoulders. as she habitually found herself doing. untouched glass in her hand. after-five ambience.” “I’m an observer. *** “Is that really you.. Evening wear which artfully molded itself over her slender curving body very appealingly and without vulgarity. would imagine a New York model. ya look like.she was always in the market for clever and definitive one-liners -. It was black with an almost demure.and then standing half hidden near a potted palm. Just those things She would and a modest pair of opalescent pearls in her ears. Looking in her mirror. Katharine fingered through her closet. having once been smashed at its current residence by a protester wielding a sledgehammer.

oh. run in any direction that held a door through which she could escape.” this splendid land and feeling full of good will. love. course.. and gray slacks stride forward.. “Where have ya been? I was looking for ya earlier. She was consumed with a desire to run.” “Well. some other more needy folks. . you’ll nivver bring it off with that hair and costume. “Isn’t it grand? Ian is several meters off the ground. her earnest voice carried a sincerity trailing no hint of the false blandishments heard in some other quarters. and he looks as surprised as I did.” she whispered to herself. at least. but they’re pretty good sports. of “Have ya had anything to eat. That’s certain. and laughed with all the fervor of her triumphant mood..a lot of long faces.. white shirt. Guess I’ll run off and tend to Spotcha. “Please don’t drink that. I see Lan headed our way. tilted “I don’t lifting the glass almost a necessity. Now.” he said with a grin that she immediately thought of as difficult to work against. but Margaret had already vanished.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “They were no slouches. want ya getting a headache.” Katharine begged. She was wearing a tropics-inspired pale blue dress that matched the color of her happily crinkled eyes. “You coward.” Here in “This bested American is so happy for you all. standing firm and watching the tall form in navy blazer. that very assertive accented male voice made She did lift it.” “Wait. The food is good.” Margaret said. Kate? “I’m afraid I ate at the other place.” More determined than ever.” She had not meant to drink even a sip from her flute of champagne.” “I was at an American wake.35 “Well.

I know you meant well..please just take it and say no more. I’m Do ya really think I’d let some wally photographer spot a woman for me..36 it and drank half. “And please don’t insult me with bad manners. the smile stalled. not at all. what she had said. “There.. Look.and then I think you should leave me alone.” His curled mouth reminded her far too much of that Southern Cross moment. I’m going to hand it to you. Thank you so much for your kindness.I don’t do this. First of all.. lifted out the pendant and laid it in the palm of his hand. but I’m royally insulted. I want to .. freeing her hair from the cord without explaining the Maori word. let me be. I’m sorry we have to stand here like this while I tell you. She hated Please just Gold-ringed eyes like tannin-black forest pools pulled her into their depths.. ya look wonderful. things to you and you’ve mistaken me for.” She reached into her purse. and I want you to take it. but impatient now. But I can’t do this. “And I’m not in the mood for a long story.. “Will ya give it to me. it was a soft word beginning with an f sound and spoken mostly to himself..I’m not who you think I am.” he said in a low voice.more than Ya look--” “Lan. wonderful. Maybe Cash said Really.while I.. lovely pendant. “That spoke volumes.. He looked at it a moment and then at her while he quickly slipped the cord over her head.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ... not who ya seem to think I am.. I can’t do this. I. paused a moment then drank the other half.I have the pendant in my purse... either..” He tossed back his head as if to rid himself of sudden irritation. While ya were running off at the mouth with false assumptions. I was wondering just how ya ever imagined ya could read my mind. Nevertheless. I can’t accept the lovely. for Christ’s sake? Pardon my language..whakaturi..

only holding her arm as if she might escape and moving along the sidewalk until they reached his Range Rover. Very soon I probably will have a headache. angry that he so readily grasped her predicament. He said nothing and made no move to console her. let’s get out of here. “All right.. angry for abetting a delusion.this misunderstanding.now wait a minute. I will let you take me back to my hotel. I’ve been very compliantly waiting an Let’s get out of here. His It’s where I We’ll haul it over to my place.. The unrelenting intensity of Lachlan Manutane encircled her as forcefully as if she were already locked in a room with him.” “That’ll make it easy. even while she was saying.. She could clearly see the end of this. . “I said. his voice even sounding commiserating. but the worry was that this time she would be the one to attempt throwing away the key.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . You’re late. “Your place?” “I have a house on the harbor in Herne Bay. Outside the Hyatt Regency. My luggage is packed in my room and ready to leave with me in the morning. stay when I’m in Auckland.37 be alone with ya. was he who would put them there. happened when she became afraid.. he told her to stay put while he retrieved her luggage and checked her out. and she stared at his hand there.” “What?” she asked in astonishment. eternity for that.” He took her arm.” It was what She tossed her hair back in angry frustration. because I’ve really had enough of this. afraid of what she herself would do. and we’ve done all the celebrating here either of us needs to do. as if they were both combating something else. “What kind of shape is your duffle in?” “My. She flew into a It jittery tantrum.” touch astonished her because of what it did to her body.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat . a breathtakingly beautiful white Victorian house overlooking the bay. “Don’t you have to hurry home and dip cows or punch sheep or something?” He set down her luggage. she sat huddled in her seat while the bellhop stowed her bags. I’ll cart ya back here Please just give us a chance. “This is where you stay when you’re in Auckland?” she said. I If ya don’t like the outcome. I have a sloop just over in Westhaven Harbour. and amidst fine old pieces of gleaming oak furniture.. passing through an elegant but dimly lit foyer. She folded her arms diffidently and said.or Do ya like to fish?” “I. “What a wonderful sense of humor ya have.. I like it. We’ll sort it out.. will ya stay put.” and let ya go. “Right. It’s comfortable. Ya need to know . and begrudging him the architectural beauty of an old treasure very well restored. She thought if he stayed kneeling there she would kneel down. Certain she had lost her mind.” she muttered and was silent. Her body aroused. she found herself standing on a blood-red Turkish carpet running up close to walnut-wainscoted walls. handsomely carved front door. and look at him the way he was looking at her. knelt on the carpet before her and laughed with his head cocked back and the cords of his throat tight. promise. Once inside. slightly amazed. her mind in retreat.I do fish. palmy garden and she was climbing the steps. then hesitating as Lachlan stood aside and nodded for her to precede him through the dark. kneel down or fling herself down. A few halting steps over the stones of a fragrant. too. Maybe we’ll go sailing tomorrow. she looked straight ahead while Lachlan drove them out to the harbor and up to his Herne Bay house. the next day. Kate.38 “Please..

.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .39 that when I work I work hard and when I play I play the same. He lifted her easily in his arms. “Ya really are choice.. “It means love token. fairly soon.Kate. Green Eyes.. if you’ll tell me why ya kissed me back the way ya did at Ian’s. I nearly had ya where we stood.for this?” “Whakaturi?” “Yes.” she said.” “I haven’t been bought with jade.” Again he threw back his head and laughed. What does it mean?” His expression was at once sly and amused...” “I’d like to think ya wore it for me. “Before you touch me. do ya realize ya can do anything You’ve done a hell of a lot already.because I never say it. reaching out for her.. Ya do know you’re But I think I’ve got to take it off ya Katharine.” “I was overcome by the Southern Cross.” “I couldn’t even climb them.” I’ll tell ya any number of things. with an accommodating smile.” .” she said and smiled for the first time as her fingers clasped the pendant hanging against her breast. “I’ve come this far. highly amused. “What was that word you said.” “With playthings in little black dresses. “When ya smile at me like that I’m not sure I’ll make it all the way upstairs either. Do ya know what that means? I fancy ya want with me? ya. Make it clear to me. tell me why I’m here. irresistible in it. Just sex?” “That too.” “And not by the way ya were kissed?” “That too. but for your sake I’ll try.” he said. “We’re going upstairs. still with vestiges of a smile and trembling all over. It means something more when I say it.” He stood. and she stepped back.

. She sank down into the soft. That was But I can’t My brain isn’t working at He rather deftly parted from his own clothes. recording every unfamiliar place until she wondered if he expected her to beg. wait. but for me it’s another eventual misery. First his hands. have you. I can’t talk now. she was half Who was this man? Who was this orchestrated wildness. my suitcases. and her dress came off quickly in his adroit fingers. which faced out on the harbor. because it only means more pain. afraid half wild herself. but his hands went over her flesh like those of a blind man. then his mouth exploring her. all this waiting is another kind of pain.roses. and set her gently on his bed.” “But very soon mine won’t be either.40 “My clothes.” she called out in a last desperate attempt at rationality.” her whispery voice confirmed. and when it’s over we’ll be able to talk. I don’t want to For you it’s nothing at all..Jesus. talk now. dove-gray duvet and said. There followed a sort of beautifully Such fierce wildness. and that can be very hard on the system.. all.oh. and if you only had a little compassion you’d--” “Be quiet.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” He didn’t hurry after he had removed her dress. pounamu eyes. “I’m in very bad shape here. because you see I don’t want to want you. a stunned Katharine was in the .. “Ya won’t be needing them tonight. the thing which surprised her. “I like your perfume.. and finally pinning her hands above her head while a piercing hard thrust slid into the very wet center of her just as she was about to open her mouth and beg and before she even realized what was happening.” “Attar of roses. laying claim to her body until she couldn’t hold still. and.. person doing this to her? A man. He climbed the stairs to the master bedroom.

And then amazingly enough he said.41 act of discovering. and yet thoughtful. along with spontaneous cries at feelings she could hardly withstand. given so naturally. She was dazed. In a couple of days it’ll be nearly perfect. All that unleashed hunger. Aiming for lightness but lost in the airy unreal.” “Nice try. all that earthshaking sensual play. Then he was outside her and coming against her belly with her hand pressed down on him. care with his sperm. if not risk-free. kissing her lips one at a time. “We’ll get better. she was out of control. “You could’ve asked me. all that uninhibited satisfaction. she thought.” “I like that better. absolutely consumed with giving her deep pleasure. couldn’t answer. “I was always hoping that someday you’d come along. By climax. she responded.” he said.” “Why is that?” “Because I’m so cautious that even when I’m celibate I’m on the pill. her masterfully tended body rocking in waves of incredible sensation. “What?” “If I was on the pill?” “Are ya?” “Yes.” she said.” And in a couple of weeks it will all be over. nearly delirious. “Okay?” he said with his mouth in her hair. His freely offered self.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and coming like the expert that he was.” he said. burning up in stimulated excitement so fulfilling all practiced restraint vanished. . His mouth gently touched the lids of her closed eyes. exacted responses utterly surprising to her. She couldn’t think anymore or question anymore. wanted to do it all over again. slowly returning. couldn’t tell him that she wanted more. couldn’t open her mouth.

pulling her up against him and driving himself right back into her. Lan.yes.. ya are sexy.” Oh.” “I’m with ya. “Oh..... The feeling was so wonderful she thought she could drift off to sleep like that..not this close. don’t ya?” “A little.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. waiting as the tall case clock across the room swung its pendulum.” Sleepy hot green. Looking at their pairing. Green Eyes.” Very soon they were too lost in the way they were handling Yeah? . moaning and arching her body in sudden quick spasms.right here with ya. Green. God. it was no use.. “Open your eyes.yes. He lay with the back of her body tight against him... his mouth caressing the nape of her neck while his hands stroked down the front of her. “I want. tried to think of sinking into nullity.42 He held onto her. the tawny skin dark against her sun-deprived flesh. spring.” “This what ya want? Yeah? Tell me. “Ya like this...help me. God. Good?” “Yes. I want to see your eyes. not green like this. so that she gasped with a craving all new to her and closed her eyes. but she was with him. his intelligent hands working so adroitly. I’ve never seen eyes that color. until she turned to him thoroughly aroused again.. help me. she tried to hold herself still.oh.. physical need yanking her into wakefulness with her breath coming so quickly she was dizzy as she cried out. not like this. knowing precisely how to make her rise into the air.I want.oh. please.” “A little. Green Eyes.. A little? Do ya like this a little?” he asked. Maybe the hills on my place in the heat of Christ. had felt his muscular strength irrupting in her willing self. his deftly arousing touch turning her into his..

No sooner had she turned on the water His arms came than she found she was sharing it with Lan. but she was so exhausted she could barely sit up. perhaps of South Island range country. bed was damp. what they were making happen to each other. to utter any more words. only unmistakable involuntary cries paired with a physical satisfaction she would never have believed possible.43 each other.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Her previous encounters with men had always been of minimal effect or unsatisfactory or both. and the incredible view facing out on the silvergreen bay. Somehow the full pleasure of it never arrived. The next time she opened her eyes was some time in the morning. through a carved-oak door which just happened to lead into the bathroom. Her body was damp. she felt the She weighted tiredness of her body with a strange erotic throb. and her partner never seemed to care very much about what was happening to her. Leaning on the counter. and she had to pee. only looking . and she hung onto him because she was so weak from expended energy and from him. decided to take a shower. quickly. Her feet slipped down on a broad and creamy She wandered off. Then he had her pressed up They both came very against the tiles and was inside of her. she looked into the oak-edged mirror and saw a rather pale face with large. She muttered something unintelligible even to herself and felt his mouth opening over hers. sheepskin carpet. moist green eyes that seemed almost startled. Erotic feelings and sensations which drove her to near hysteria were heretofore unknown to her. including her dysfunctional marriage. When she had relieved herself. The She looked around the room and saw a vintage oak dresser and desk. around her and he took hold of her hair. He lathered her and himself with a black bar of aromatic soap and they rinsed off. gently pulling her head back to find her mouth. in itself a sensual luxury. a large bucolic painting.

“What? Are you made of steel? I’m so tired that--” “I’ll let ya sleep.... You.caring makes it good. completely and totally rooted.” “Do “And I think that’s where I get worn out.. I want ya to sleep. The way ya I followed ya into the noticed things. I could almost feel the Ya would pick something up and think about it and then put it down and hold your hand on it. “Ya haven’t had sex in a while.. touched things.. A kind of slow . You’re I think it’s back to bed... “Hold it.the way ya lost yourself in it.” “You--” “Yeah. slipping backwards into his arms.” “What makes you think you know so much?” He smiled and said.like it was something all new to ya. I still wonder why you followed me out of the store that day.” she said. Kate.” She opened her eyes and faced his continuing scrutiny straight on.. “I like the way ya said that. I’d been watching ya for some time. “Why did you.” he said. you have any coffee in this place?” “The coffee is after bed. and he said.44 at each other occasionally with very few words spoken. In a dreamy state of fatigue she turned to open the door.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “It.. while he leaned on an elbow and studied her.but ya enjoyed this. picking her up. the surprise. she lay staring at the ceiling in a half daze. the smile it induced lingering on her face.you cared how I felt.. pleasure ya had in them..” Her eyes closed as she relived the incredible pleasure of really being with someone. “The innocence.. and I don’t think ya enjoyed it much when ya did.” “Ya think I was buying souvenirs? store.it was.” When he had dried her and himself off with huge navy towels. All brand new. smiling as if it was still in your possession..

.” “Is it so bloody rotten for you?” “Not always. I wanted your hands on me that Ya turned toward me once and looked right through me.. a writer of obscene truths. way... You’re fresh. rather like sixty volts.. And who ya are is the person I find very attractive.” “Am I falling asleep yet?” “No.” “Guess how I got that way.” “And I think you have me mixed up with yourself. I’m discovering that you’re very smart--I rather suspected it after Taylor’s grudging praise--and you’re funny. And as we go along. You’re not a part of any It’s obvious ya have an open mind. anyway.. the soles of my feet..” “Yeah. and I report on this rotten world.” “Ah.helps make ya who ya are... I mean with a sense of humor that is absolutely necessary in this bloody rotten world.untouched by the history here.why me?” “Haven’t I been telling ya why? complicated Enzed crowd. I can see you’re not going back to sleep.so fair.” . so let’s do this instead. Lan.too bloody cynical. one I’m We..but..” “Haven’t you ever noticed anyone else doing that?” “Not the way ya did it.maybe even necessary. not all perfection. I tend to be an optimist I’m a journalist...” “Yeah.. I live in a different world. Those green eyes shot sparks through totally somewhere else..” “All right. going back to. don’t say that. I think so.45 contemplation and consideration I found bloody irresistible. but I’m no fool..strangely beautiful.” “You think these are such untainted eyes? they’ve seen? Do you know what Not all the time.” “You’re awfully good at this.” “No..we wouldn’t last. I think ya want more loving..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 46 He ran his hand down the length of her body, stroking between her thighs until she quivered with need, then rolled atop her and drove himself into her until her legs clasped around him and she tore her fingers through his hair, her exhausted body trembling uncontrollably while she cried out for more. Finally, they lay on their backs simply breathing for several minutes, until she turned on her side and said, “I’ve been wondering what that is you have around your neck. shower with it on. Does it represent a fish hook?” You even

He stared at her a long moment without answering, then his fingers slid across his chest and cradled the pendant in his hand without looking at it. He gazed quietly into space.

“Yeah...it’s...a very finely carved, stylized fish hook...bone.” She wanted to take it in her hand and examine it, but something in his manner forestalled a closer inspection. “It looks very beautiful. I’ve seen them in the stores.”

“This was never in a store.” “Your wife gave it to you,” she said with a quick intuitiveness. He lay in silence, his eyes continuing to stare up at the turning ceiling fan. “I never had any such relationship with my husband, or any other man. You’re lucky, very lucky to have had it.”

He sat up, slipped the thong over his head, wrapped the cord around his fingers, then opened the drawer of a stand beside his bed and dropped the pendant gently inside. “Please don’t do that because of anything I’ve said.” “I should have done it before I had ya...since I... been with me so long I didn’t think of it.” “I wish I hadn’t said anything. I feel sad for you...I’m It’s

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 47 sorry, I shouldn’t say so...but very sad. I wish that you could

have been happy for a long time...that it never happened to you.” Her nervous fingers smoothed over the sheet. He picked up her restless hand and kissed the palm. “Ya are choice, Green Eyes. choice. Come here. I didn’t really know how

Let’s go to sleep.”

In a few hours she awoke and found herself held close against Lan, who was breathing softly in her ear. her face toward him. She turned

He opened his almond-shaped black eyes and

blinked at her with a slow smile. “Say something to me in Maori.” “Something to me in Maori,” he muttered. “No, come on, humor me. Maori?”

He shook the sleep out of his head and stared at her. “Why? You’re not a speaker and ya won’t understand

me...but...you’ll probably hear plenty of it from me anyway.” “Yes, you’ve said things to me before.” “Tourist words,” he said in a grainy sleep voice. “Pounamu eyes?” “All right...couldn’t help myself.” “I’ve listened to the language on the radio. beautiful lilt to it. it from you. Rather like Hawaiian. It has a

I’d like to hear

Please, will you speak to me?” The black,

Lan raised up on one arm and leaned over her.

gold-ringed eyes seemed even more black when he began to think in Maori. His smooth Maori-Scots face looked daggers at her,

and she was beginning to wish she had kept her mouth shut. “Noku ka pakeke, katahi ano toku hinengaro ka huri ki te ao Maori i tipo aki ai ahau. “Lovely. What did you say?”

“A...didn’t think about the Maori world of my childhood until I became an adult.”

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 48 “Oh, Lan, is that so? me the way you change. language. head?” “And in your head, Green Eyes? Ya strange woman.” Please tell me more. It fascinates

I love to see you thinking in that Oh, how does it work in your

How does it work?

He stared at her while a slow, appreciative smile altered his serious mouth and crept over his transformed face. It was a

Maori smile, she thought, one that she could feel as from another frame of reference. The singularity of language, the

rare forms of communication began to overwhelm her as she stared off, frowning in contemplation. Then she felt his fingers

smoothing the serious furrow in her brow, followed by delicate, carefully made kisses over her face and throat until she, too, was smiling. “Taku manawa, taku tau,” he said in a soft voice. “Which means?” “I’ll tell ya some other day...maybe.” His voice, his manner had returned to the other part of him she sought to know, just now a titillating, unbridled humor. “Now either sleep or more fucking or we get up and go sailing. Which is it?” *** She was sitting in the breakfast nook, holding her yellow mug with two hands and staring dreamily out at the waters of the harbor. Her body felt light, perhaps slightly bruised but not

unpleasantly affected, as if she had been rolled over and over by warm waves and tumbled onto a beach. “What kind of shoes do ya have with ya?” Lan asked. boots? I suppose not.” “Any

“You mean like hiking boots?” she asked, turning her languid green eyes on him and making him smile as he reached out to touch her sleep-flushed cheek. “I don’t carry hiking boots

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 49 with me unless I expect to go hiking.” “Ya sure’s hell didn’t plan on staying long in Enzed, did ya? No one with any sense comes here without tramping boots.

We’ll have to buy ya some.” “I thought we were going sailing.” “We are. the top. We’ll sail over to Rangitoto Island and tramp to Choice view. Good exercise.”

It’s rough lava.

“My God, I’ve just had plenty of exercise.” “Well, this tramping bit will get ya in better shape for the kind ya just had, Green Eyes. head out.” “You certainly are a bossy bloke,” she said, staring at him sitting there in his Windsor chair, wearing tan bush shorts and an open-necked blue shirt and smiling as if he owned the world. He laughed. not at all. “I don’t mean to be. I don’t want to boss ya, Finish your coffee and let’s

I’m just the leader here because it’s my country.

When I come to your country, ya can tell me what to do.” “Have you seen much of America?” “A fair amount. Ya have a lot of nice wild there, but it’s I like it better here.” *** Lan drove with an impatient self-assurance, one hand on the wheel the other doing other things, tuning the radio or touching the bare leg below her shorts to point out something. They

crazy...too many people.

drove out Jervois Road to the Herne Bay shopping center. She squinted down the street at some English words too far away to read and said, “What does that sign say?” “He putu, he hu, we nga whakamaunga waewae katoa e hokona ana i konei,” he translated into Maori and winked at her. “Now you’re getting back at me.” “What’s the matter, do ya need glasses?” “Is that what you said?”

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 50 “No, I said boots, shoes, and all other footwear sold here. Do ya need glasses, perhaps?” “No, I need lessons in Maori.” “When was the last time ya had your eyes checked?” “When was the last time you spoke Maori to an American woman with no boots?” “My god, I’m going to have a royal smash-up here if ya go on like that,” he said, laughing so hard that it was fortunate they were just pulling into a parking space. In the store she said, “I like these. They’re cute.” She

smacked together the toes of the boots she had just tried on. “Cute doesn’t cut it. These are better. Give them a try,”

Lan said, handing her a heavier pair of dark leather boots. “You will have your way, won’t you?” “I’m thinking of your feet, Green Eyes. cute, and ya ought to keep them that way. They’re what is

Please try these.”

“I would but I’m afraid they’ll sink your boat.” “Oh, Christ, I can just see what sort of day we have ahead of us.” At the register a slight disagreement occurred as to who would pay for the heavier boots which had been decided upon. “Expensive,” she said. “I’m buying,” he quickly replied. “Certainly not. I’m wearing so I’m paying.” “It’s not your fault

“I’m paying,” he said with finality.

you’re getting the kind of boots ya expect to sink my boat.” *** They drove back to his place for two ice chests, one filled with sweating green bottles of Steinlager beer, from an ample supply in the refrigerator, and a hunk of Stilton with a loaf of uncut bread. oranges. Lan tossed in a broad-bladed knife and two

The other ice chest held bait and was for any fish

. old boat. I don’t want to sail. and how he used to swear at her: “Goddammit. My captain I don’t knocked me in the water when I didn’t move fast enough. Katharine. I like the sound she makes close-hauled and It’s an moving fast. I’ve had the captain’s orders that go along with the sport. huh?” “I imagine you do that very well too.” “In sailing it works this way: ya either know how to sail or ya don’t. “Beautiful.the water splashing against the bow.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . pretty as an antique jewel box. she exclaimed. Do I have to knock you off this damn fucking boat again to get your attention?” She jumped back onto the dock..” “You’re a sort of poet.so my editors believe..” He had uncleated the three lines from the bow and portside cleats that bound them to the slip cleats.51 that might be caught on the way to and from Rangitoto.that is. Lan. ten and a half meters. I wonder why that is. Lachlan. “Changed my mind. When Katharine first saw his boat Waiata Reka riding in its slip at Westhaven Harbour. Richard. “Do ya know anything about sailing?” “A little.” “What does Waiata Reka mean?” “Sweet Song...” “Yeah. want to sail. her feet moving a little forward up the dock with the memories still . thirty-five feet of history loaded with new gadgets to keep ya from drowning. Which is it?” “I’m a Northwesterner.” “And not a cow puncher.” “And evasive as hell.” She turned and looked off at the other boats. then tossed her the lines and jumped on deck. cleat down that fucking line.” She was standing there thinking about her former husband..

He said no more to her. polished bronze hardware. but it’s just the way I am. Bloody-hell. but. Show me your stuff or take a nap. He recleated a line fast and jumped onto the dock.about all that. “Sorry. don’t care whether or not ya know how to sail.. The perfectly flush lay and rich vertical grain of the shining teak deck. give a damn.. I can handle I just have to move a little faster. The boat yawed slightly.. this boat.52 burning away in her insides.” “I think I do know how to sail.” she agreed. or I wouldn’t have this assignment. gleaming cabinets.” she said. They were out and ready for sail. I Sometimes I sound a little gruff. “What son of a bitch treated ya like that?” “My husband. allowing her to reveal her own capabilities. “All right.sometimes it was so demoralizing that I--” “We’ll see. that’s all. Right?” I don’t We’re here to enjoy ourselves. and down in the galley. Someone must come and care for this boat most tenderly when he was away. Sweet Green Eyes.” While the auxiliary took them out of port. moving slowly toward him along the tilted deck and then dropping into the cockpit. solid and firmly set over well-joined. of course. I can’t believe it. unless. he did it all himself. . she stared about her at a very shipshape sloop. standing up. Please get back on the boat.. “All right. the glinting bright winches and turnbuckles. coming up behind her and turning her around in his arms. “Would ya like to take the wheel while I hoist canvas?” he asked with careful politeness.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . we’re going sailing to have fun. and she grabbed a shroud.” “The bloody fool dumped ya off your own boat? what a wanker.

sliding his thumb across her wet cheek and kissing her laughing mouth. her eyes went from the telltales to a quick glance at his hands and back to the telltales. “She’s all yours. She stretched out on her stomach opposite the cockpit on the seat above the well and said between her fingers. Her heart began to speed up as she watched him in the bow.. She was laughing and there were joyful tears in her eyes when he reached her side. then he brought the . Waiata Reka. but the ones I’m thinking of are in Canterbury. and the mainsail was climbing into the sky. Glorious to watch the big sailcloth suck at the wind. When she looked again toward the mast.” She turned the wheel and the sails swelled and bit into the mast. snapping the jib shackles to the forestay and raising the luffing jib. “So now we know. “Okay. she looked up at the whipping telltales on the shrouds. “Will I have to teach ya how to ride a horse?” he asked as he changed places with her. The water rushing against the bow was music. They beat into the wind for a while.” he said. “I haven’t seen any horses around here.” was all she would give out. staring out toward Rangitoto. Determined not to let the boat fall off as he deftly worked at shaking out the mainsail along the boom.something very important that I won’t have to teach ya. sweet song..” he called. nearly leaping into the sky with windpower.53 Bent on holding Waiata Reka steady into the wind. he had freed the main halyard tail. and her heart lunged like that as the boat heeled and strained.” She was silent. swelling and lapping with hunger.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “You have such magical names in this land.” “There are horses around here.

“Oh.” “Yeah. I get it off my chest that way without going round the bend. You’re rather untrusting.54 bow to leeward and slackened sail as the wind fell abeam of them.” he said.” “Damn it. and his eyes were again in that phase of watching and studying that made her more than a little nervous as she stared back at him. Margaret do a lot of my talking for me? “Oh.” he said. Ya have some problems. mysterious Kate. “Okay. Get some rest.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . The boat lurched into a soft glide. She’s a real straight arrow and doesn’t like to say Didn’t “When will Ya know some things. and the sails jostled Thrilled.” “I’ll just watch for a while. “Better put on a hat and some of this. “Ah. Water reflections danced off his face beneath his cap.” “Should I tell you whenever you use an Enzed expression that I’ve never heard. handing her a baseball cap and a tube of sunscreen. tells your women--” “God. talk to me in a language I can’t understand. hook and do some fishing. in stillness as a pod of dolphins played off the bow. feeling the heat and finally donning her sunglasses. ya talk to me?” “When will you talk to me?” “There’s probably a heap I don’t have to say. I’m going to bait a I understand. she looked on. I just said it was absurd. she told you.” things behind another’s back without permission.” “This is something she does for you. E whakaaro ana ahau he patai hohore tena. Kate. You’re still rooted. Do ya want to fish?” I feel very lazy. Please don’t get yourself in high dudgeon. or just keep quiet and try to figure it out contextually with my high intelligence?” . that’s all. Kate. lifting the hat from her hand and pulling it down over her shaded eyes.

a film or a dream. on the other hand. “Sure ya don’t want to do this?” “I’d rather watch you. the line he used was light and delicate enough for a fair and artful play with smaller nimble fish.there’s one for ya: independent. the intense dazzle of light reflecting off the green sea. I’ve been pretty well I think I’ll know what ya schooled in the language department. He made a smooth long cast. I like ya that way. The spinning rod he used looked powerful enough to pull in some hefty sport fish. His tan fingers moved with a quick and familiar dexterity.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . then laughed softly and shook his head. .55 He was walking away and he turned around.” She watched him toss his hat down. easing herself down on the teak deck. stared at her thoughtfully for a moment. puffs of breeze tugging at his hair. and she saw that he concentrated thoroughly on what he was doing. as if he were alone. but. I’ll simply try and explain as we go along. but then all the mysterious dark life in him jolting the perception into a vivid reality of here and now.” “Yeah? It’s all in the way ya hold your mouth. A perfect blue dome of Canaletto sky. That unselfconscious aspect of him was reassurance both exemplary and fascinating to her.” You look like you know what you’re She continued to stare after him until the scene was fixed as a sharp but slightly removed impression. doing. cocking his head. pull off his sunglasses and reach into the chiller for bait. you’re a hard case -. aren’t getting. his arm casting out over the waves. greatly enhanced by a rhythmic cadence of wind in the attenuated sails and lyrical swashes of water on the hull. “Green Eyes. put his foot up on the taffrail and glanced back at her. She watched until her eyes burned and she grew soporific and almost dizzy.

things up like this?” Do ya always stir She couldn’t stop laughing and hung onto him with water dripping down her forehead and into her open mouth. “This is certainly proving to be a very unusual day. screamed and leapt up and over the side of the boat. “Come out of there..” “I was using my mere to club a big kahawai I just caught. There are sharks around here.” she choked out.” He pulled her against him and pushed her dripping hair out of her eyes. were ya thinking?” “I was having a bad dream and--” “It’s okay. come here ya silly wahine. “Now you’ve turned your clothes into swimming togs. all wet. When she hit the water she was thoroughly awake and sputtering.. She looked up at him and began to laugh. Look at ya. “I thought you were someone who. Granted they’re well fed sharks. and he reached for her..56 The sloshing boat and the heat gradually lulled her to sleep. He kissed .. Her father? Some ominous form chasing her through endless rooms in a strange building and out a small confining window into the sky. A noise opened her eyes. and I.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and dreamed something dark and foreboding. A couple more times she looked up and saw Lan casting his line out over the realm of unknown fishes. but I don’t like ya in this water. Jesus. She She saw a dark figure standing nearby with a raised club. Someone was after her. What in bloody-hell are ya doing?” Lan shouted at her.” She was struggling forward. “Kate! For Christ sake. He was throwing a rope ladder over the side. where she tried flapping her arms to stay above the ground and fly away.I thought you were going to hit me. then she fell into a deep sleep. What “I woke up and saw you with that club. You’ll dry out.

Ipo. feeling so at peace that she drifted into sleep almost at once. I want ya. while the boat gently swayed and water sloshed indifferently against the hull.. Jesus. Kate. ya open your dreamy eyes and I want to dive into those green pools and swim right down to the bottom of ya. I want ya. He was crouched on the edge of the bunk.please come here. then his own clothes came off in a wild rush. “Get your little arse over here wahine before I come all over my boat. Just when I’m getting over the shock.” She stretched. oh.” He pulled her damp hot body down on the tight bunk. peeling them away from her cool damp skin. “Stay here.” He carried her below and removed her wet clothes. sweet crazy little ipo.” “What if I were to start calling you strange names. Deep in the throes of the second kiss her bare feet left the deck and she was up against him in his arms. After a while he said. amazed at his ferocious expression of hunger and need. heat-flushed naked body leaning over her. feeling drowsy and sated. and she twined around him as they tore into each other in the utter joy of wildly impassioned oblivion. I come below and discover a bare-skinned woman sleeping with her golden-haired self sprawled across my bunk. sweet ipo. and she felt his warm solid body hard against her.. Some time later she opened her eyes to the touch of his hand on her cheek. “I have to go topside before things get out of hand. “My god. “Bloody amazing. talking and come here. and she drew herself back away from him. his taut-skinned. and ya are very much that. I want ya.” He pulled on his shorts.” .57 her wet mouth. you randy devil?” “I just called ya a woman.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I’ll Stop lay your clothes out on the deck to dry.

He laughed and lifted her onto his lap. and felt them crash into the roof of the cabin. her arms extended forward with her hands anchored on his shoulders as her heart raced and her breath came in quick jagging gasps. They were almost together then as he coaxed her into a tight . don’t hit your head. “Careful.58 She sat up slowly. Her throat gave out a garbled breathless acknowledgment as she threw her arms into the air. lifting her up and bringing her down on him. Seized with a desire to touch and touch.” She was beginning to moan softly. “Is this what ya wanted?” She would have said rhetorical if she could have thought clearly.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . her gaze captured and held by points of light glittering in diminishing hues of hot darkness. her body swaying. ya wild little wahina. Then his hands were on her waist. not an invasion but a coupling that gave such excruciating pleasure the sweet pain of it knocked her head back. she put her hands behind his neck and straddled him with her knees pressed into the cover of the bunk. As she quickly sucked in air a startled high note of satisfaction like a short wail issued from her mouth. She stared up into his eyes. walnut-gold flesh and poignantly wind-mussed hair. don’t hurt yourself. then her clearing head considered the words of his poetic voice. Nothing of her escaped those tracking black eyes. then almost at once her lazy heart lurched forward colliding with her ribs.” Turning herself half around. “Hey. It had begun with her eyes roving over curves and angles of sun-warmed. she curled her body against him. to somehow. covering her mouth to suppress a halfgrinning yawn. could have then said anything clearly. somehow get deep inside that dark enigma and reach the place that made her into a sensual being full of heretofore unknown joy.

I sometimes fish for steelhead.59 weave of heated rhythm. a silvery-green-topped.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Careful. lovely fish.” she said. oh. beaked noses and large sad eyes. stroking her back.oh God. are my clothes?” When she was dressed she came topside and said. pointed-nosed fish with a V-shaped tail and nicely attenuated at both ends. With me.” His fingers clasped her waist. kissing and stroking one another in lazy oblivion.” They lay back with two hands locked together beside their heads. “Where is the kahawai? I want to see it.. “We’re anchored off Rangitoto...with me. Jesus Christ.. Jesus..” she said. The kahawai was about twenty inches long. dark-banded raised foreheads. “No.” she cried out. He held her. “Nice.” She lifted the lid and studied the fish.” It’s in the chilly “Where “Are ya hungry? Do ya want to eat first or “Good on ya. “Okay?” “Uh-huh. also with forked tails. gutted.lovely. ya remembered its name.” he finally muttered into her left ear.. Yeah. bin.... beautiful silvery fish with dark backs. Easy.. The tarakihi were rounder.yes. streamlined ocean-going trout with . “At home.look out!” “Oh. helping her to move as she writhed and twisted against him and then with him completely until at last his hands held her firm and still and she couldn’t move at all but only feel his pleasure rising with her own and spreading all through their bodies. tramp?” “I want to eat like a starving tramp. “Oh.also two tarakihi. “Ah! My God. collapsing against him.” was issued with a slight gasp.. wait. Don’t hit your..

” “I’m certain ya do.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..” “What is it?” “A heitiki. a tiki. They ate in silence. “What is ipo?” “Ipo is sweetheart or lover... swilling Steinlagers. at the island. staring up He peeled an orange and handed it to her. They sat on the deck.I noticed your tattoo when we were.60 tremendous fight. and. I always put them back. a common practice. Do you ever think of yourself as two opposing halves?” she asked with a carefully gentled .” “All the more reason to blush.” she said in a soft voice. power. “You said your Maori half..fertility.. “Mau tenei arani.a.” she repeated. did ya? Something that occurred in my wilder days.” “Mau tenei arani. really quite wonderful that ya can blush with such innocence after what we’ve done to each other. which she declined.” “I doubt it..” She repeated it several more times while he smiled at her. He glanced at her for the certainty of her refusal and then drank from the bottle himself. big mana. but very appropriate for my Maori half -.” His eyes held hers until she began to blush so deeply she could feel the coloration spreading over her face..” he said.” “I see. She watched him slice the grainy bread and edge off wedges of cheese then hand an open sandwich to her. “Ya have a very good ear.” he said. “I. “I find it choice. a stylized ancestor.” “Ya did.a tattoo on the buttocks.” “What?” “I said this orange is for ya.. offering her another Steinie.

thanks to my father. but the Maori came here in waves of canoes. I don’t think of it much anymore.. not for me.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . They secured the dinghy.’ Arawa canoe was wounded here.” she said as they jogged forward.. It’s two hundred and sixty meters high and it’ll take about an hour to reach the top. “Rangitoto blasted out of the sea only six hundred years ago and last erupted about two hundred and fifty years ago. “the name. The Scots aren’t much of a problem..” “The name is short for Nga Rangi-iotongia-a-Tama-te-kapua. “These trees and shrubbery grow right out of the lava. They’ve seen it before. The chief of the fourteenth century.” She halted a moment to gaze off at the dark greenery. What’s that small-leaved one?” The last part is easy boardwalk and a . Wouldn’t change anything. lot of wood steps. I went through a period of being bothered by it.. I’m comfortable with myself. but I speak the language well enough.” “Where are those clodhoppers I’m supposed to put on to protect my cute little feet?” she asked. booted up and headed over the very rough black lava trail. a half-caste. He rowed them to shore in the dinghy with their boot ties knotted and the boots strung around their necks.have been fairly well accepted among my Maori friends.. The Arawa canoe arrived in the Bay of Plenty in the That’s where the Arawa Maori settled. “Tell me about this place.61 voice.everything. “I’m what is known as hawhe kaehe in Maori.and far too busy..” “The Arawa canoe?” “It’s rather a long story. even though there were almost no Maori on the Canterbury plains. had a few scraps. It means ‘the days of Tamatekapua’s bleeding.

tea tree oil and soap and shampoo..” “None?” “None that I know of. I know it. My mother left my father when I was He was cruel. five. and honey collectors get lingering red flowers. “Kate Green Eyes. She I couldn’t blame her for that. Very What’s that other gorgeous tree I see everywhere?” This island has the largest forest of it in “Pohutukawa. grazed by cattle and sheep..still a few Bees love them. I went to live with my grandmother. and medicine to us.” “Oh. the early settler’s tea substitute.a slightly different species from Australia.” They crunched on over the lava in silence. your childhood. Enzed. last words from my mother were a promise that we would pick .” “I have no family. promised me she would come back for me. “Motutapu is mostly grassland.. and he said.” Lan said as they walked the loop around the crater’s rim.Christmas time.. anything. Finally. stomping along until they reached the top and broke out into a marvelous and windy view of the neighboring island Motutapu across the causeway and Auckland on the distant horizon. She was killed in an automobile accident with her lover.. good stuff. They returned in about half an hour and sat on a bench gazing out to sea. a rather all-purpose plant that you might know as the tea tree -. didn’t have the heart to tell me.your family. Another young couple came along. Always blooms at chrissy.. they were starting up the boardwalks and steps. their honey here.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . talk to me. They sat looking at each other. Ya had some on your toast this morning. The I didn’t know that. glanced around and left. but I never saw her again.62 “Manuka. stopping now and then to look back through the tunnel of leaves or outward when a sea view was available. and she I waited and waited.

She saved my life. lady-slippers. I’d intended a musical career. She was a Greenhouses in the winter filled with heavenly blue I roamed her woods. End of story. see.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . me to a very good school where I excelled.. It just became a habit. a deceitfully friendly. idealistic. greedy. was one of the saddest days of my life. When my I sometimes dream that my mother and I are there. .very lovely. I loved my grandmother. said he was only venting his rage at my mother. and She sent she called me her Fleur des Champs. He was the one who made my judgment of another’s character highly suspect. she was beginning to regret it. until I had my ears knocked back getting shot at.” “Yeah. And then?” I always had to. you “Then I went to Stanford where I became a quillet-tongued wise-ass. I found it very easy to go into dangerous places. cut-throat advertising executive. and developed some humility. It lasted a little over a year.decided to make my contribution to the world by exposing its evil underbelly -. her Wild Flower. end of story. My grandmother sometimes spoke French.. Richard one cold winter sojourn in New York. iris and white and yellow narcissus. do. I’m good at writing. hunting wild things. possibly even worse than my father.” Surprised at having said so much. not quite. She tried to tell me the beating was really She nothing personal because she was afraid it would ruin me. That was when I became a journalist. florist.. They’re a small wild orchid. took me into her When she died it heart and filled me with sweet old aphorisms.. I guess.63 flowers together in the meadow of a woods beyond our farmhouse. I’m beginning to see.little did I know.. Cut loose from everything.. There. and that’s what I I accidentally married Oh. grandmother discovered that my father was beating me she took me away. but I was a little too cerebral and. I was eight.

until now. I’d have sworn it was more than that.. and that’s the part I’m talking about.” She sprang off the bench.but a part of me felt something else.. having ya. “That’s good.. Kate?” “I..” she said. guess I can’t argue with that. was hoping for more. He leaned away and looked at her long and hard in silence. A part of me thought ya might be fun for a few days. “Now. Jesus... more than you ever wanted to know about Katharine Gordon. Very soon you’ll be shut of all this. but found herself being led back. because I was right about everything I thought when I first saw ya.. “Sit down a minute..” “A nice memory.. yeah. because I’ve discovered I like being with ya.. She sat back down and looked at him with her head cocked to the side and the wind blowing her hair across her wide pained eyes.the kind of wonderful that hurts.” she said.. one of the best days I’ve ever--” He had hauled her against him and buried his face in her salty hair.you see.. looking at her.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . but to me it’s been.. “I wish you hadn’t done this..” “I’m. “Well.I guess I opted for a nice memory. as folks in the southern United States like to say. clever funny Green Eyes.” she said in a low voice. I don’t quite know how it works.” I “I “Fun when you come to Auckland.wonderful.and. Why are ya here. recognized ya the exact moment I saw ya wandering down the street. “I simply want to know ya.. know you think it’s been a crazy mixed-up day..” he said.I’m being conservative. smiling. and touching ya and looking at ya and listening to ya.64 He sat in silence. . ready to head downhill. I bloody well knew it would turn into this.

somewhat subdued in mood. and ya can’t go back to whatever the hell it was ya were doing before. then went into the living room which he called the lounge. sliced tomatoes. I had a wonderful . They returned home late. I’ve had articles in here on occasion. Recalling parts of my past is like a spurt of bad chemistry. he asked her if she wanted to go out to dinner. “Explain please. didn’t you?” “Not at all. hardly touching but ranging deep inside of each other.” “You’re scaring me. and she declined.” She flashed him the first grin of the evening and said. Fluffy eggs with a bit of cheese. After showering.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . after she had turned down the fish. don’t ya?” Nothing more was said of what had transpired. which went into the freezer. He scrambled six eggs. Maybe you’ll catch some fish on the way back. “I’m sorry. it’ll go away. They cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes together.” “Don’t be afraid. feeling rather unsociable and wanting to simply wander through his house and peer at the books in his library. wearing fresh tan slacks and a blue silk shirt. “Hmm. you wanted to go out to dinner. browsing idly through an array of magazines. and toast served on blue and white china.” “Moody. Katharine. both in somber thought. tea.65 Something just clicks and there ya are. Ya like to fish.” she said.” “Is that what I am? Well. and they walked down the hill. The day isn’t over yet. I’m just sorry you’re in this sooky state. and you’ll never be the same. sat on a lovely old striped Victorian chaise lounge. and looked up to find him studying her with his hand folded under his chin and his elbow resting against his other hand as he leaned back in his maroon leather wing chair.

” “You can hurt someone without touching them..” “Tell me. I’ll always the way. eyes and--” “Stop it.but I loved watching you fish along I can close my eyes and see you. just chatter on about walking away? smashing something. The way you do things. When I get home I’ll be able to close my Please stop it. out of my head and can’t think of anything else. You’re a little coward Is that it? And the sky might fall. please. that’s how I feel. death you’ll get away from me.that’s how I feel. his brow furrowed and his eyes staring hard with what she thought must be a kind of amazement at what he was going to say. Have I?” “No. that’s how I feel. and the In what do ya place your trust. Kate. Your clever hands. I suppose. yourself so completely. that’s how I feel. What I don’t think ya realize is that ya feel the same. I was a lazy lout..66 day. remember this day. I’ll always remember that. Not you.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I My God. Kate?” Running around the world nearly getting shot is. but--” “But I might. but I’ll never lay any pain on ya. earth might cave in. “Nothing. but I’m not going anywhere until I have ya with me. yeah.. Scared to I should be working. ya must. how can ya do that and then I’m sorry but I feel like I’ve got a temper Ya refuse to accept it. He looked at her a long moment with incredulity. unwilling to take a chance.” Tell me how you feel. When ya make love with me ya give Oh Jesus. know ya do..” “Then I feel sorry for ya. Ya know how I feel. started to speak and then continued looking in silence. “I’m besotted with ya. easier for ya than taking a chance .” “Ya have. and I’m trying to figure out how to do that. Don’t worry.

rather unstable..the raw truth.. oh such pain. but he caught her and held her and let the tears fall on his shirt. looking out on lights around the harbor. God..” “Tried to tell me what?” “I guess that I’m.oh..67 on a close human relationship. looking at him with her sad moist eyes and seeing reflected back such obvious misery she had to look away.. Tell me something..your Everything you did was like being hit hard..” he said. Your mind.... He was grinning and his expression had “Lovesickness?” she said with a startled and frightened voice..the way you moved and held your head and looked at me and laughed with me and told me things.. “Poor little Green Eyes.” “I tried to tell you in the beginning..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” changed completely..what? Way-waya?” “Recently I’ve become What is it? Whatever it is I can’t stand much “It’s. “Kate..oh. sharing moments with you.lovesickness.such pain. I was getting sick. What is that? more of--” “Wewehe.everything about you.” he explained..yes. “At least tell me the truth. Tell me.. coming up behind her. loved you....” she cried out and tried to flee with her hands over her face. very familiar with it... wiping her eyes with his . the way we make love.yes. “Tell me it will go away. or tell me it won’t go away. you’re--” She turned around rapidly and said. I just sat there in pain and. “The truth.” he said softly. hands. such. She had walked away so that he wouldn’t see how badly she was shaking. and.. She stood up quickly and walked to the window. Today.. “How could that be when I always.” he said..” she said..

“Taku manawa. taku tau. Soon he lifted her writhing body atop him and watched her pleasure them both. Their first movements. . and he threw back his head. even more arousing now. and to the kitchen to stave off hunger pangs.” “Are you making fun of me?” He didn’t answer. She looked down into his burning Then eyes and saw them glazed with a vulnerable satisfaction.” “Taku manawa.” she repeated. “You said you would tell me some day. They stayed in bed most of the day. staring into his suddenly intense face. In the early evening he brought her a glass of chardonnay and a single slice of bread with salami. making her cry out. “Tangihanga. taku tau. She lay with her head on his shoulder. then thrust into her. kissing him back until he took hold of her. feeding her from his careful hand. my love. only rising for brief visits to the bathroom. She ran her tongue over his firm nipple.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She’s having a good cry. sliding her down and fitting her against him. He slid his mouth over her lips as she quivered with desire. leaned over and looked into her eyes. were slow and languid. rubbing his chin over the top of her head.68 thumb. My heart.” He turned her face up. luxuriating in the certainty of the terrible heat to come. lost in a swaying rapture with her head back. staring idly out at the harbor. merely picked her up and carried her once again up the stairs to his bedroom. *** Their lovemaking had been so furious and all-consuming that when morning came neither wanted to get up. “What was that you said in Maori?” “What?” he asked.

lassie.” “Where is Rani?” Katharine asked. pulling her head back by a silky hank of hair and opening her mouth with a deep kiss.the little idiot. with their bodies drenched in sweat.69 he rolled them over and made her come very quickly with a ferocity that startled and thrilled her.” she said. too. Green Eyes. When it abated. She saw his face change very subtly. ridiculously so..that will take some time.” he said. she threw her arm over her head and lay back. I’m up for it.. much older than I am now. A Turbo Skylane four-seater. I’m fairly interested in living. “Nothing to worry about. nearly deranged with the pleasure shooting and spiraling all through her body and brain until she was limp and senseless.just replaced my old Cessna with a new one. her parted legs quivering.” “I can just imagine it. if those pikers get in anyone’s way there’ll be hell to pay. if they ever get there. Overfucked and brain-dead?” What kind of a pilot do ya want? “I’m a very nervous passenger. He laughed and said. ya little glutton. Kate. Nice plane.” he said laughing.. “You know when you do that I only want more. a slight frown of impatient annoyance.” “When I was twenty-two I was very serious.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and then ya close . “You’ve had enough. panting softly. “When they finally do arrive. I’m rooted. It was only the beginning of a relentless give-and-take energy which made her cry out over and over..” “All right. We’re flying out of here tomorrow. Cor blimey. to make a pun. drawing up her knees and curling against him. “She took a commercial planeload of her mates down to Christchurch and is bussing them over to the station to mess about in idle nonsense -.

” *** They had taken a taxi south out of town and over to the air strip where his plane was parked. he told her. then they rolled down the runway and powered into the sky.70 your green eyes and give me a rest.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . she was shaken from her transfixed state when the plane bucked in an unruly current of air. depended on the air speed and altitude. Lan loaded in their luggage. It had a single piston engine of 235 The horsepower and could fly at an altitude of 20. and shoulderharness seatbelts. at Lan. and at a speed of over 180 miles per hour they would arrive in a little over three hours. touched her arm and said. which he had already ordered topped off. then checked the oil and fuel. tinted windows. wall-to-wall carpeting. like a multifaceted brooch set with colored gems of all the earthy hues. they had to travel only about 600 miles. range. while she sat pondering how she had come to be making this journey and wondering what would happen next. Kate Green Eyes.” “Why kick a moo cow?” she said. he revved the engine up to 1. When they were cleared for take-off. but at 12. He gave her a reassuring smile.000 feet. Oxygen for each passenger.500 feet and eighty-eight percent power it could travel 594 knots in a little over three hours. She looked down upon this exquisite surprise of clouddappled land pinned between the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean.500 rpms several times. “You’re off to Waikikamukau. and gave forth more of the She glanced . At the moment she was too suspended in the narcotic of love to care. Katharine saw that the small plane was indeed sparkling new and looked like a very capable and compact form of private transportation. Staring dreamily through the window and out into the blue horizon. As the crow flies.

his past was a strange unknown place to her.” she said. I’m congenerous.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .71 soft giggling laughter which he found so enchanting. and she suddenly felt a little nudge of fear. The runway is on our station. Lan. really recovered. “Tell me about your mother. realized that she felt sad. “Exactly. Did I say something that . nothing. this had been a selfish time of falling in love. She was trying to remain calm and show how unconcerned she was but her stomach was not cooperating. thinking that he must be implying that his devotion to his dead wife remained strong. very like her in that respect. and Lan spoke little of his earlier days.” She was silent. A term for the very back of beyond.” She tried to imagine how it would be. He looked at her carefully and said. I rather suspect a lot of it When my father was lost at sea she never Her devotion was very strong and thorough.” “My mother is not very well. stems from depression. All she knew about Canterbury was that it was wild sheep and cattle country with hills and snow-capped mountains rising above a broad flat valley.” “You’ve gone very silent. disturbed ya?” “No. not quite a mile. Katharine. “How far will we have to drive when we land?” “Hmm. She looked away and His wife had not entered her For thoughts since the incident with the fish hook pendant. Except for Margaret’s brief history. Collywobbles? Not going to spew breakfast are ya?” “Not if I can help it.” he said. too many variables to consider. “No worries. but it was simply impossible. Once again the plane was going through some turbulence in the mercurial and wild currents of air whipping across New Zealand. and slipped back into silence.

Whenever I’m at I like them. and was astonished to find that they were in a landing pattern.” and reached for the bag with their ham sandwiches in it... When they had finished.. After a while she dozed off. but altogether rather flat.sorry. Realizing that he was hungry. and the droning engine made her sleepy. I’m so sorry. country does wonders for them.” “Nothing to be sorry about. tussockland with a river flowing through it and gorgeous snow-capped peaks biting into the sky. brought Sometimes they have wonderful stories to Their loneliness and.72 “I only wanted ya to know that I’m faithful. I do. home I try to visit with. I’ve often chatted with shut-ins. that isn’t what I meant.” “Yes. “I was thinking about your mother.” he said. a hug. Kate. a drive in the Maybe I could get your mother to causes serious depression. These were called the Southern Alps. Kate. and Lan was radioing someone on the ground.with older people. When my grandmother died I was so lonely for the company of an elder that I started visiting retirement homes.” She fell silent again. I live in the present. Kate said.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. them small things. show me around while I’m there. They can be like a family.” “Sorry. . the loss of loved ones A visit. even come with me to Christchurch. of course. trying to tell ya who I am. “I didn’t mean to. That’s the sort of person you are. “Have any desire for a sandwich?” he asked.are very much so. Kate.. tell. lifting her hand to his mouth. I’m here with ya..” “God. Lan. she neatly folded the wrappers and put them back in the bag while he smiled at her tidiness.” she said. “Yes. They were coming down over dry rolling- hilled. Does she go out?” “No. but I’m more impressed with ya than ever. I think you must have been very much so.

ya need a lot of hectares. then got behind the wheel of the Rover. my sleepy Green Eyes. astonished. “Well... “I’ve been thinking about doing that for nearly four hours. an older.. Eager for more history and facts.” Lan waved Rex off. and was soon handing him luggage to be transported to another Range Rover. gnarled old trees.. after a few friendly words of introduction. My grandfather loved that poem.” They touched down and rolled over a long packed runway. “How many acres do you have?” “Acres?.. Now you’ll be rested. and I’m glad. Lan came around to her side of the plane.” she said. Got to concentrate here a minute and we’ll be down. and I was raised on Robbie Burns. At the end of the lane.” he said with surprise. “The name sounds like something out of Robert Burns.acres.” “That’s a lot of acres. reeking of tobacco that she could smell on the wind coming through the open cabin. He named my mother Mary from Green Braes is named for it. “from his poem Afton Water.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. They drove down a gravel road and turned into a lane bordered by thick and low. When the plane had taxied off the runway. Welcome to Green Braes. ya did. she saw rising before her . weathered looking Maori stepped up.73 “I can’t have slept that long.acres. the green banks upriver where our property runs around lake preserves and into rugged foothills. some species of dry smallleaved holly.” “For sheep and cattle. not as smooth as the one they took off on...hmm. “It is.” she said. lifted her into his arms and gave her a long warm kiss. Katharine asked. Lan greeted him as Rex. but sound and well maintained.about fifteen thousand.

“Is that--?” “Green Braes Lodge.74 what she thought resembled a great stone church.. I love it.” he said.. “That’s your--” “My home. snob are ya. having stepped off the plane into a hot wind which could hardly be ignored..” she said. simply her way of honoring my father. It reminded her of some massive structure in Edinburgh with its many slateroof peaks facing in all directions and its thick walls of heavy gray stone. nor’wester is the bane of us high plains jokers.’ as my grandfather was fond of calling it.” “Big and solid it is.Lachlan Manutane. ya cheeky brat. lassie?” Lan teased. The Lodge.” “Jesus. Katie Green Eyes?” “No one ever accused me of it..” He looked at her and laughed. She was slender and almost as She wore tall as Lachlan.” An attractive woman with short ash-blond hair and a smiling face was standing on the steps. off the mountains and as such is called a föhn. “Testin’ your temper.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . well-cut tan slacks and a white tailored blouse beneath an olive . “My mother might greet ya in It’s Don’t worry if ya don’t understand something. Maori. “It’s more like a. Stone does very well out here in these extremes of heat and snow.Laird of Green Braes Lodge. “That It sweeps down Many’s the time it’s been a good excuse for a corker of a scrap.” he said. as they rolled to a stop in the circular drive before the steps of the towering Lodge. ya make me laugh.” “I certainly feel the heat. Did you really attend Oxford?” “You’re not a “Oi did. with a burst of laughter..a sort of castle for a feudal baron.” “I see.. perhaps somewhere in her mid-fifties.

Katharine also noticed that Mary rolled her r when she said Green Braes. immediately that Mary Manutane was not used to being warmly greeted by anyone but her son and probably Rani. Good lord.” Katharine hung “Welcome to Green Braes. Mary laughed and said. Unbeknownst to Lan. “Mother this is Katharine Gordon. both speaking in low voices. and said. “Your Scots girl likes the words. Haere mai. back. this graceful specimen of mature womanhood must be Lachlan’s mother. She had been practicing it over and over to get the perfect vowel sound and authenticity to the words. That fetching burr must be a prevalent Scottish characteristic of this part of South Island. Lachlan turned around and said. “He whenua kura tenei.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Katharine. “Mamae ana to korero. and Mary quickly replied. putting her arms around Mary. boiled wool jacket.” She smiled at Mary Both Lan and Mary smiled with appreciation.” “She said that was a beautiful remark. and had rather expensive looking loafers on her comparatively small poised feet. Katharine had been carefully practicing a single Maori phrase--This is a beautiful land--which she had heard another journalist repeat to a coaching Maori speaker. and they embraced in a very loving way. There was a brief moment of Katharine saw restraint and then Mary hugged her back. “Tena koe. hesitated a moment and then succumbed to her inclination. Katharine. and I agree. Lachlan went forward to meet her. Mary Manutane.75 green.” She reached out her hand and Katharine She quickly took it. She almost blushed in remembering how she had pictured the woman. and Katharine realized she had been hearing the same slight roll in Lan’s speech.” Lan said. Katharine thought. my mother. smiling and waiting. . wanting to hug her but uncertain.” Mary Manutane said.

” she said. They walked into the grand foyer while Mary told them tea would not be for two more hours and that Lan’s room was all tidied up for Katharine’s visit. “Ya two can have afternoon tea if ya like. She wondered if Lan had thought of it. Midway. Of course he had. eager to be alone with her.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . beveled and leaded windows filled with blue sky and facing out on the river.” “Hungry.76 Lan. holding a heavy metal chandelier fixed with opaque glass globes shaped like flames. She had never even thought of it until this moment.” Lan explained. Kate?” Lan asked. complete with master. “Surely this must be the master bedroom. Lani. They climbed the broad stairs with its handsome carved thistle newel posts. running behind a massive fourposter bed of carved oak overspread with a brown and . stopping on the first landing while Katharine admired a large-paneled stained glass mural displaying a proud full-racked stag in a Scottish highland setting. “Surely it is. the burgundy walls were met with oak wainscoting. A well lived in room much enhanced by Lan’s consuming presence. I’m fine. Once in the spacious bedroom. the pooling velour drapes at the broad. We had a sandwich. and the gold-edged paintings hanging above rich blond oak. I can wait. “No.” The burr of the r in her pronunciation of girl was as much a delight as the way she had phrased the sentence. the mellow tones of brown and burgundy.” Katharine was still considering Mary’s words and wondering how conservative she was in her outlook. “Tea means dinner.” Lan said as he watched Katharine explore. her senses were infused with the smoky spice of old fires. for apparently she thought little of the two sharing a bedroom. Perhaps it was Katharine’s Scottish ancestry which had so favored her in Mary’s eyes. Mother didn’t want it without my father. The ceiling was very high.

“Do ya want a shower? What do ya want?” She turned to take in all of him at last. that if she ever accompanied him to a Maori setting she might also meet the other half for the first time. still smiling and watching her... He grinned. glancing behind her and just avoiding a small oak desk.. and a large stone fireplace with a shining bronze fender at its opening. and portraits of hunting and sheep dogs on the walls. was met at its edges by a shining parquet floor patterned in red and blond woods..” Lan affirmed. she now realized first time. with the strange black eyes still so full of mysteries. Consequentially.where have ya gone. “It is. she remembered even more precisely who he was to her and how he was to her. she pocketed her hands and backed up slowly toward the wall. “Kate? Katharine. almost afraid of the emotions flooding through her as she stood looking at him.” Katharine posed. a strange interlocked repetition of rather abstract violet-topped thistles of muted green on a field of dark umber. surprisingly urbane Maori-Scot male from the back of beyond. Green Eyes?” As if a whirling dark cloud of misgiving were rolling toward her.I don’t know. “What are ya doing?” “I’m. “That must be nice in the winter snows. dark. There were paintings of well- sired horses poised in dressage. The carpet. this tall. .Careless Child Karlene Kubat .77 wine duvet. At that moment. Could it really be that she had been wildly intimate with this barely known man smiling at her from across the room? Could it really be that she was now standing in his extraordinary bedroom in the very uncommon house of half his ancestors? to this? How did it ever come She felt as if she had just met half of him for the Perhaps she had.” she said. flashing the white teeth of an irresistible mouth that could so easily and fiercely consume her.

” “Good. comfortable and safe and free to roam through her own house and on her own land as she pleases. and even now it can be a bit chilly.” .. Jabbing dark thoughts of how to save a shred of herself flew across her divided mind like disturbed hornets. her so-called friends shunned her. she feels She prefers going bush.” “Is that her wish or yours?” “What? Kate. When she married my father She avoided them. blowing away as if caught on the hot exterior wind of this place.” “For God’s sake. too?” “Kaore he wahi o tera ki a koe. don’t ya?” Is there an “You almost said it’s none of my business. It was the same But how long could they abandon themselves to Or had he this wildness without a thought of the consequences? thought of them all along? When she spoke with a manner as direct as his... thing she wanted.” “Ya don’t understand. She knew what he wanted.has done Here. are we having a row over my mother before we’ve even sat down on my bed?” “It isn’t good to sit on a bed. people around here were far more provincial then they are now. “Your mother is perfectly well.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . then you can say it whenever I stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong.ya really do plunge right in.. expression for that in Maori. When my mother was a young woman.78 Nearly all of the self-inculcated reason which had for so long facilitated her confined pre-New Zealand journey was swiftly evaporating.” “Didn’t I say as much?” “She needs to get out. she knew it would temporarily send him in another direction. The only thing wrong with her is that she is lonely and depressed. so ever since.

Jesus. white-tiled shower. “My god.” She kissed his throat and ran her fingers down his firmmuscled body and along his groin to play in the soft black curls. “Ya are choice. He was in a rough hurry. Beds are for lying down. stretching languorously.. Come here. he leapt out of bed and raced across the room and into the shower with Katharine close behind him. locked together as they were. so much more than she had ever known. more of us. and she cried out and moaned softly while they flung themselves together until she bit into his shoulder to prevent a rising scream. Instead. It’s nearly time for tea. if we shower together we’ll likely both go right down the scuttle.” He was beginning to laugh and then Katharine was trying to let go once again. yeah? wahine. ya randy little wench. except that Lachlan Manutane was here. She could never have explained what she was doing here anyway. and hard against his slippery wet .. or shall I do it? I fancy ya like nothing else.79 “I certainly agree. “Oh. Green Eyes. Kate..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . casting aside all the weighty speculation of an unreadable future because the here and now of freewheeling emotion was more.” he muttered.” he said and then pulled her into the steaming.” Katharine said.please. Will ya get your clothes off. then bringing himself atop her and sliding into her yet one more furious time. my frowning I need to make ya smile. Have we just met? Again? A little No worries.. “Get up. Jesus.” “I’ll have my tea in the drawing room. She thought it would have been so perfect to drift slowly into sleep then. thoroughly aroused and gathering her up.” *** “We have to get up.

goblet and said. Dessert was a frothy vanilla pudding topped with slices of kiwifruit. A Maori cook named Mattie bustled and clattered in the kitchen. The dining room was large with a fireplace on one wall. to sit looking out on the pink-tinged Southern Alps in the distance and upon the blond grasses along the rough banks of the river. Lan. There was grainy bread hot from the oven. It was a very lovely environment for a meal.80 body. The room faced out on a meandering river which Katharine had not even realized ran past the other side of the Lodge until she noticed it upstairs. How long have you . and a very fresh salad with a delicate dressing unfamiliar to Katharine.” “It’s good. sometimes went back into the huge old kitchen where her low voice could be heard speaking indistinguishable words. Lan wore gray slacks and Spanish cordovan loafers and another well-tailored. and with chestnut wedge-heeled shoes on her tripping feet. the jade pendant hanging around her neck. and not even able to laugh. *** They rapidly descended the stairs arm in arm.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” she cried. She was dressed in a plain olive skirt and beige silk blouse. crisp white shirt. who sat with them. oh. “Oh Lan.” Katharine said. and occasionally engaging in tittering laughter with her longtime cook and housekeeper and friend. sliding against him. Sauvignon blanc from a winery I own up near Nelson. with Katharine laughing and stopping to button a missed space in Lan’s shirt while he kissed the top of her head. and Mary. her voice amazed. Tea included an airy red wine. cold roast beef. “very good. now at a lower stage. “Taste and tell me what ya think. Before it was served Lan went to the sideboard and He poured some into Katharine’s It’s a uncorked an icing white wine.

” “I see ya two have not been talking about wine. We export to I think these innocent whites are becoming a bit more sophisticated. That’s the best introduction to sheep and cattle and anything else on the hoof.” Lan said with the quick wit that Katharine was growing to love. and knew what Mary knew about them. “If this is where I’m supposed to launch into a discussion of sheep you’ll find the conversation wanting. When tea was over. “Up at the north end of the property we have red deer.81 been a vintner?” “A few years. after all.or snails or puppy dog tails. plenty of them. exported to Germany where venison is eaten with relish.S.” Lan said. the U. besides horses?” Katharine asked. “We have not. It’s working out well enough. mother. they lingered at the table while Mary brought Lan up to date with the mundane happenings at Green . “We’ll simply ride out among ’em.” “What kind of relish?” Katharine said. “Very amusing.” Mary said with a twinkle in her eye. that they were in love and that it was an excruciatingly fragile time of foolishness and great joy and anguish.. Green Eyes.” Lan answered. Katharine saw Mary watching them.. and ya can get a feel of hard leather and a whiff of down and dirty on the plain. Joy because they were thoroughly sentient beings and anguish because they were also reasoning beings who occasionally caught glimpses of fleeting time and could think things out to a possibly frightening conclusion.” “What else is on the hoof around here.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” Katharine said. “So you aren’t going to ride off punching cows.

“Oh no. she was deeply enough in love to punish herself and everyone around her for the loss of will that it involved.. unassailable. Lan could make the coolly firm observation she had just delivered evaporate and fall like rain. and aloof that she couldn’t look at Lan. She knew very well that within a matter of seconds.from time to time at least. and she went upstairs to put on her jeans and tennis shoes while he remained talking with his mother. and Katharine said.. Green Braes must involve a great deal of work and constant attention. “I think I prefer nature to the city.. as if she were a distant relative come for a visit.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Can ya imagine yourself living here?” Mary asked with the very same directness she had apparently passed on to her son. If she was expected to gush and say how she could hardly wait to settle in. It’s how one learns about an unknown place. although I now live in a city.all the little details.. She heard them begin a . nature and made that a necessity. Katharine sat listening in silence until Mary apologized for boring her.. She felt a little mean-spirited and stared out at Habitually independent. Seattle. Katharine was surprised and a little embarrassed but tried to answer in a serious and thoughtful way.really very interesting to me. knowing he wouldn’t like it...” Her answer had been so absolutely tactful. requiring a very special and single-minded devotion. Lan suggested that they go for a walk along the river. Growing up on my grandmother’s It brought me close to flower farm was a fortunate experience. I love to listen.. but with all the problems of congested cities. with a softening smile. the mountains.a blustery northwest sea town made more attractive by the beauty of its setting. I would think it quite a challenge. one or both of them would certainly be disappointed.82 Braes.

She was recalling how she had stared down at two large trucks which were loaded with sheep and stirring up dust clouds on the road below. then left her to put on his jeans and slip into a pair of old Wellingtons. Are ya These old boots are bloody essential to me. “Hmm. and then paved roads. Careful what ya say. the ones I saw when we flew in?” Katharine asked as they strolled along.. and almost resented that very private way of saying anything they wanted. She was standing by the bedroom window and looking out over the shadowy river and the distant fading mountains when Lan came up behind her. Wheeler. ready?” *** “Where were those trucks going. they’ve held up rather well. He kissed the nape of her neck. headed for the port of Timaru.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . usually at five in the morning.83 conversation in Maori... They got a late start When they roll out of here they’re on roads we’ve made that link up with metal country roads.and periodically oversees some repair work. mostly headed for the Middle East.” “You’ve drunk just enough of my wine to foolishly criticize my favorite boots. keeps an eye on road erosion. Our manager. until she reminded herself it was something they regularly did and none of her business. impish Green Eyes. “Are those Wellingtons from Wellington?” she asked in a teasing voice. Let’s walk. “From the 1st Duke of Wellington. that is gravel. “They leave every Thursday. today because of road repair. They were on a very well-worn path . but the evening was warm and the river quite refreshing.early nineteenth century.” The wind had abated a little. although they’re looking a bit tired after all those years.” Lan answered.. where the woolies are shipped out.

” “And how I love being with you. I have to go to Christchurch... very tall blond grasses.. “Ya were happier in Auckland. I was about to say.” “What does that mean?” “Just what I’ve said. the lovely bellbird. complicated but--” “And so are you.” “I simply will. hesitation.” “No.” “But God how I love having ya with me.. but I’m not sure ya know what you’re in for. The very things that attract me to your I’ve sussed the Mary McGregor Manutane is no independent self are also the worries I have. that isn’t true. “Well..Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..” Katharine said.a bit complicated.or are you busy?” “Yeah.. Lan.84 through the tough and. his penetrating eyes and serious manner a sudden explicit revelation of concern. You’re unpredictable. advice. “All right. in places. Katharine was listening for unusual bird sounds and asking Lan about one she thought she was able to distinguish.” “That I well know. I become.” “Neither am I.restless.. can try a little of your friendly persuasion on my mother.” “No more?” “Please don’t press me. Ya see how I’m following your I wonder if ya could get her out. I appreciate your determination. this place. pushover. “Kate. I’ve gotten ya this far and now I’m wondering about the next obstacle. I think. It’s so nice here. so ya No more tonight. and I thought ya could try to get Mary to come with us. do. I don’t know myself.” . when he turned around and took hold of her arm and drew her against him. I’ve barely seen Can we go riding tomorrow.uncertain when you I only know that I--” We’d better go back.

” Mary said.I mean. I have almost no idea anymore what it feels like to walk down the street with one or the other and share experiences. Mary. and I know nothing about the town. “For you. things.” “It’s an easy town to get around in if ya don’t mind the river. “I’ve had to go everywhere alone most of my life.. “No. “Am I bothering you?” she asked.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Are ya not?” If Mary had chosen to be direct. but I don’t go out. I really have no idea where to begin there but I’ve heard it has lovely gardens and parks.” Katharine dropped her head. She had only to think of her life without a family for a minute. but it’s not so easy in a . I guess I can do it.85 *** Lan went into his study to answer some e-mail. but not for me. “always longing for a mother.” “I certainly do see why Lan has taken a fancy to ya. Katharine Gordon.persuasive and Will you take pity on me I’ll probably hang onto your arm like a lost It would be so wonderful to have you show me hard to put aside. her eyes swimming with moisture that was not so very difficult to summon.. while Katharine went in search of Mary and found her in the library reading in her favorite red leather wing chair. a grandmother who left me too soon. and she would soon be weeping in earnest for the desired effect. Lan is flying over on some busines. “I’m hoping you’ll come with me to Christchurch tomorrow. Katharine decided to be the same and said. go to the wrong places. Katharine. I expect you’re here to have a little talk about something. and I’m afraid I’ll do all the wrong things.. and come along? schoolgirl.” Katharine said.. I’ll be all alone. You’re a very fetching girl.

who was heavily into e-mail responses. I don’t go out. tugging at the edges of her blue cardigan. She went up to Lan. I can’t Will you tell him him happy to have you there beside me. and I nearly always have a photographer or a guide with me. He’s in his study. “Get off the grass.. or Lan would never You’re the first since.because it’s such a lonely proposition. “What are ya grinning at now. I’m not so selfish as to deny It was nothing against ya.a good girl. Mary. “Poor Lan. tell him how mistaken he was. ya devious imp?” “Mary will be coming with us tomorrow. know.” she said.. He and stood quietly with her hands crossed behind her back.you’re the have brought ya here. please.86 strange place. There I’m playing the role of journalist.” Katharine went into the study looking like the Cheshire cat. “I think ya know I would never tell Lan anything that would make him unhappy.. that’s one I haven’t heard.. totally immersed in what I’m doing.. you would. I’m almost never a tourist. that’s very different.” I just can’t.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . He said you would come with me because it would make I’m sorry.. sorry.” she said. first. looked up and said. Mary rose from her chair and stared at Katharine with a half disbelieving expression that began to look like concession. “He’s had too much of that already.” “Well. Are ya serious?” .” “Are ya not the same fearless girl who goes around the world covering wars and looking into the troubling affairs of others?” “Oh. I hope ya You’re a clever girl. I’ll show ya whatever ya want to see. I’ll come.” He told me Nevertheless. Go tell him I’ll come. Lan anything like that. I’m Katharine wrung her hands and said.

I like that expression.and. She was thinking wistfully of having a . consecrated in 1881. “I just thought of something.” “At the moment.” *** Katharine and Mary were on their own in this flat. “That’s enough of cyber space for tonight.” she said in a wondering voice as she stared at the computer. I am serious. ipo. laughing with such conspiratorial delight that Katharine was feeling quite heady with her success.87 “Hmm. I was thinking rather highly of a greeneyed phenomenon. it was located in a former band rotunda on Cambridge Terrace. Green Eyes. I think. It’s time for your reward.. riding in the car of the business associate who picked them up from the airport.” Let’s go “You certainly think highly of yourself. It’s rorohiko. had left them in the heart of the city at Cathedral Square on Colombo Street. giving him a teasing kiss. “I’d be willing to bet there’s no Maori word for this modern machine. yes.” “How on earth does that translate?” she asked with surprise.” “What the devil did ya say to her to get her to do that?” “Every bloody thing I could think of. Lan. but first she suggested they go inside the towering and ornate Christ Church Cathedral. Looking in her guidebook Katharine had a clever idea concerning the location of this restaurant.. He had promised to meet them later in the day at a popular riverside restaurant called Thomas Edmonds.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . very English city of Christchurch known as the city of gardens.” “Then ya would lose the bet.” “How ingenious.” she mused. and hiko for lightning. Lan turned to her. Sort of like your brain. “Roro for brain.” Katharine answered. to bed. which she intended to broach later.

” Katharine noted. “There’s something about the intense light down in this southern hemisphere that’s different to me. and then Katharine suggested they walk over to the Botanic Gardens beside the cool Avon River meandering through the city.” Come “Oh. with which Mary seemed quite familiar.. “It’s a white light that makes Oh. said.” “Then let’s have lunch there.” Mary I’ve never eaten there. but.” “Oh.” Katharine said. I do remember the view. slipping on her sunglasses.. Mary.” I’m not that far gone. They ambled down Gloucester Street and into the well established and very luxuriant Botanic Gardens. Do ya know It’s been damaged several times in them. When they reached the top. It has a restaurant. it’s a lovely place. . when Mary spoke up.are you sure. “Since we both like gardens and plants we’ll probably enjoy ourselves in that green environment.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . shrugging and laughing at her caution. “I’ll probably be in worse shape than you at the top. “At least this is one thing that hasn’t changed.. When they were back on the ground they looked at the historical display. let’s climb the stairs. and they stood together while Mary pointed out places of interest. Mary?” “What? Ya think I’m incapable? I ride a horse and walk A few steps are all over Green Braes. Mary was not even winded.not once. “This spire actually fell into the square once during an earthquake.” Katharine invited. but not about to suggest that Mary climb the 133 steps. nothing to me.88 look at the splendid view and the cathedral bells in the viewing balconies of the sixty-three meter high spire. look at those lush roses. everything startling and sharp. The view was a wonderful way to study the layout of the city..

about every growing thing. Katharine. and Katharine encouraged Mary to indulge herself. “And the people are the toast. nursed me through many a tummy ache and bruised knee and unrequited teen-aged crush.” Mary set down her fork and stared out the window. And everywhere..” Mary shook her head.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” The Gardens Restaurant was a six-sided flat building with a sloping roof and wide viewing windows.” And a number of other unmentioned things: bouts of depression and moodiness.exotic. “I’m paying. her faraway eyes roving over a tall. Odd little motor-towed carts with green-canvassed canopies kept arriving and depositing visitors at the restaurant. She was so good to me. girl.all of these wonderful trees. grandmother was French. sent me to school. “That’s very amusing. My maternal grandfather died long My How my She was a florist and curious Both he and my father were Scots. “Incredible variety here..” “No. dazzling in the sunlight. It served a popular smorgasbord. joining in the laughter. riding about when they ought to be walking.. “Ya have no family alive then?” “Perhaps somewhere.” Mary’s smile faded as she stared at Katharine and said. “I’m sorry.” They sat by a window looking out at rare flora in every direction.” Mary said.” Katharine laughed. “Those little carts carrying the visitors are called Toastracks. broad-needled fir gilded a shimmering gold in the sunlight.89 So many colors. That’s the way of it. to me at least. grandmother would have loved it. “Rang and I came to Christchurch on business from time to . bought me my first lovely prom dress--it was soft pink toile over pink taffeta--. before my grandmother.. I’m paying.

hopeful of having her meaning go beyond her own desire. not at all. staring at Katharine.” Mary said..” Katharine said. both felt more comfortable there. insisting upon it once again. hard.” “Well. cupping flowers in their hands and sniffing sweet aromas as they went along..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . that’s settled in my mind at least. looking at various plantings and blooming flora.” “Will you go there with me sometime?” “I don’t know.” Katharine agreed. “But what I did to him with my own selfish love... really a sort of refinement which must be respected in the human condition. we two. seems to me.” Mary said.that mix of Scot and Maori was not an easy thing. “Would you mind if we walked to the visitor center and . better than anyone. Finally. Katharine. It’s too soon.. they walked over paths thickly lined with collections of verdure mostly unknown to Katharine. I don’t know if I could do that.no. but he wouldn’t be who he is without it. him so.I don’t think you’ve made up your mind about anything.. And Lan is like that.” she said observing Katharine’s discomfort.” “Oh. so very wonderful. Mary.” “Of course.. although we more often went to Dunedin for pleasure. “Sometimes he’s a mystery even to me. he’s the coming together of two kinds. When Mary had paid the bill. and I know him so well. Lan is not hurt again. you do.. leave it at that and go on with our day. that he’s the rarest.” she didn’t hesitate in adding. But I hope to heaven.that it’s not a frivolous thing. not an easy thing. they rested on a bench while Katharine consulted her guidebook. except that. and he’s so wonderful. I miss He loves We We loved hard.90 time. so we’ll leave it at “We’ll just “It that. “I can see how ya feel about my son. or else how can life go on? Without understanding that there can only be strife.

A neat “Lucky we have such a clear day.” . and made the quick and restful twelve kilometer journey. there are your snowy Southern Alps way off in the distance.” Mary said with a quick sip of tea.91 caught the free bus over to the gondola that goes to the top of Mount Cavendish? I’d love to look down on Lyttelton Harbour. Soon they were gliding up Mount At the top they walked about. We’re open room with a splendid wrap-around view. “You’re a good girl. I haven’t done that in years.” Katharine protested. a pretty white tea service.” They caught Bus number 28.” Mary said. Cavendish in a little gondola.” “No. very different from anything she had ever seen. dry bronze hills swelling in rounded curves above the opaque azure waters of the harbour and the distant fingered inlets far below had a surreal quality. I wouldn’t mind. Inside the quiet. Katharine Gordon. “Oh look. catching a hint of Mary’s fatigue. but the truth is it’s yourself doing the showing. The barren. almost like a purely stylized storybook painting.” “And I’m going to treat you to tea inside at the restaurant.” “Yes. high-perched restaurant they found coolness and a simplicity of design which was soothing. and even a fresh sprig of some bright blue flower in a white vase on the shiny black table top. “I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself nearly as much without you. having quite a treat.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “I hope you’ll still think so after I tell you what I have in mind for our next adventure. “I’m supposed to be showing ya around. and Katharine found the windy vistas breathtaking. and it says here the view is stunning.” Katharine said. Mary.

what if ya’d dropped your shoe into the water. Mary dragged her hand through the refreshing waters and hummed from time to time. rolled her beige linen pants leg and stuck her foot into the water.” she said..why.” Mary said. giggling.92 Katharine glanced once again into her guidebook and then looked up with a mischievous smile. and ya have nylons on. reversing her doubtful opposition with a carefree smile which rendered her face almost girlish.” Katharine said. Mind ya.” “Perhaps another day I’ll try it. what a lovely idea. One foot in the Avon and nothing will ever be the same.” . outlook. that is for tea. “Lord. Apparently punts will take you right to the Thomas Edmonds. “Oh. and Mary began to laugh while Katharine was drying her foot with a tissue from her purse and putting her shoe back on.” Mary said. I needed that. it’s the undipped one that’s clammy. When they were almost to the restaurant. laughing and pointing and with Katharine occasionally singing. and we can time it so we arrive just in time to meet Lan for dinner. Katharine pulled off one of her tan walking flats. Isn’t your foot a bit clammy?” “It’s given me a whole new “No. you should have tried it. Kate of doused foot. Katharine. *** They floated along in utter delight and lethargy.” The punter shook his head and whistled.” “What? I don’t think. no offense. “when I’ve no sense left at all. the burbling Avon River cooled and assuaged their fatigue and lifted their spirits even higher than the previous hours. Katharine.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . As they were skillfully poled to their destination. “Really. “I want us to get into a punt at the Antigua Boatsheds and have ourselves punted all the way over to Cambridge Terrace..

of transforming her into a confiding friend. and I know ya must be tired. She didn’t go up to their room right away. It wasn’t as if Katharine didn’t know Although sometimes preferring to revel in lively unconventionality. reveling in the camaraderie. while Mary chatted with Lan in English about the pleasant day she had experienced. She remained that way all through dinner and on the plane ride back to Green Braes. I’d want--” “I’ll be up in a little while. she certainly knew when the proper conduct was necessary.93 They both began to laugh at this splendid title until they could hardly get out of the punt. “Aren’t ya tired after all that running around?” “I thought I’d just read for a while to calm down..guess I ended up pretty excited about the whole thing. but remained in the library reading. hanging onto each other in stitches.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . what good deportment was.. I’ve gotten rather used to Didn’t ya think having ya there. It was I like her very much. Katharine. laughter abated and her face went soft and quiet. thinking she would wait until Lan was asleep and then creep into bed and fall asleep simply thinking about the day. but the look was quite serious and soon she interpreted it as censure. She had rapidly come to adore attentive Mary with her slightly sodden whimsy and very dry wit.” “Please come to bed.” Katharine interposed. perhaps even a motherly friend. so much fun being with Mary. She had embarrassed him by Her arriving at the restaurant acting like a madcap child. It was only that she had so delighted in bringing Mary out of herself. Glancing at Lan in trim slacks and a t-shirt which clung to . He was looking at her with an expression she couldn’t read at all. Lan found her in the library and said. Then Katharine looked up and saw Lan watching them as they came toward him.

An kissin my Katie when a’ was done! O. Katie Green Eyes.. An come to my arms. An a’ the lang night as happy’s a king! .94 his muscular diaphragm.. Kate? ya strange sulky lass. she whispered as his body fiercely tangled with hers. “Will ya kiss me now.. and kiss me again! Drunken or sober. “I thought you were mad at me because I was acting like a child.Come to my arms.” *** It was a little after seven in the morning and at last they were going to ride out onto the Canterbury plain. ipo. staying carefully on her side and lying still. merry hae I been cloutin a kettle. Katharine had Ka pai. Katie. my Katie. my Katie. “Lan. closing the large heavy door behind him. about to thank ya properly for today. a’ the lang night I cuddle my kimmer. An a’ the lang day I whistle and sing! O. no one ever. Half an hour later she crept into the bathroom and then into bed. then left the room. she was hardly able to restrain herself. for it was the voice of Robbie Burns: O.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . He stood looking at her a few more seconds in silence. a’ the lang day I ca’ at my hammer. Very soon she heard a lilting voice that astonished her.I’ve never heard anything so--” she exclaimed. merry hae I been teethin a heckle An merry hae I been shapin a spoon! O.” I’ll never sleep until ya do.” “Ya thought wrong. her voice smothered by an impatient mouth. I’m . An blest be the day I did it again! Katharine turned on her side and saw his eyes glinting with the moon’s blue light. here’s to thee..” “Lan.

stop it Lan. “Ah. She edged her moccasined feet gently back into the flank of a horse named Jangle. My grandmother had I belonged to a horse club and rode in funky little shows when I was just a nipper of ten. Lan?” “No..” “I was raised on quarter horses. I think you’re very nearly completely smart. then gave a little flick of the reins and galloped off just clearing a fresh pile of stockade poles while Lan stared after her. and said.” . but Katharine had already run over to her mount.” “Get off the grass. ya make me laugh. “All right.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . That means we can hang out here all day and I won’t have to worry about your tired little arse. “We have quarter horses. Really?” Come “God. wahina.you’re a cracker on a horse.we have red ones and black ones and white ones and--” “Oh. because Rex had already taken care of that necessity by the time they arrived. Lan caught up with her on his big stallion.” “Well Good on ya. placed her foot in the stirrup and leapt into the saddle. cowgirl. another part of your past I know nothing about. a great breed for herding livestock.” “Would ya know if I told ya?” “Do you think I’m completely stupid. let’s go down to the stable and saddle up.. fast and strong. cowgirl. “I’ll give ya a leg up. several of them. on.” They didn’t really have to saddle up. “What kind of horses do you have?” she asked.” Lan said. Lan sprawled across from her in no great hurry. looking very cowboyish to her.. I really want to know. sipping coffee and dressed in old jeans and an open-necked blue shirt and wearing scuffed boots.. the way ya slide into things.95 on her jeans and a t-shirt and sat over her half-finished oatmeal eager to be off. Ben.

where Green Braes got its name. cowgirl.” “But are you?” “Don’t get me thinking about it. “This is to keep your brains from frying. looked hard at her and said. then leaned over and arranged it on Katharine’s head. watching him frown and immediately regretting it.” she said. and Katharine said.96 Lan.. reached into his saddle bag and pulled out a rolled felt hat. surveying the sheep-dotted landscape.” They were up on a slight rise. They stood in the warm wind on a slight rise and looked at the clouds rolling in great billows along the Southern Alps. just follow me. safe.” “We’ll dismount by the river and take care of both requirements. while. the land of the long white cloud. He pushed his hat back.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “I collect clouds.” she said. “Come on. dismounting once when Katharine intended to adjust her stirrups but then let Lan do it for her.” “There are ten sheep for every Kiwi in New Zealand. I just need to have my space. need . “nothing else but clouds. “I’ve never seen so many sheep. please.” “I’ve heard the other expression: the land of the wrong white crowd. We’re going up into the Let’s ride for a I promise ya where we’re going the water is foothills and along the river where ya can see some real green.” They rode on.” “Then ya can have all of this: Aoteoroa. “Why do ya do that?” “What? I don’t know.” “What if I get thirsty?” “For me or water?” “Either. who was wearing a rather handsome oiled leather hat.. regretting how she had ruined the moment.

. It was why she had spoken in Now she was cringing at that frenetic and dismissive manner.” “I’m not afraid of you. ya are. Katharine. “Then get down. Zealand clouds had been left to evaporate like the clouds themselves. needed very much. the tender rich bright grasses had all charged her senses with a restless hunger. that of change. frothing in a rushing white foam with the grasses greening up all around them.do what I want. Lan.... myself and I don’t really need much else. The promise of New not even true and completely off the point. drinking. “I’m thirsty.” They tied their horses’ reins in branches and walked to a level opening where they could reach the river’s low bank. “Ya don’t have to be afraid of me. drastic change.97 to have. following the river until it was squeezed between raised green banks. The roaring water.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .I don’t know. then lay on their bellies. He was right to make her hear her own A disconnected. straying explanation that was She did need. I scare ya bloody bad because I want ya. babbling words. I’ve always maintained my freedom to I’ve made a sort of life for I don’t need--” Listen to yourself. “What in bloody-hell are ya doing? She was silent.” He turned around in his saddle and looked at her.. They remounted and rode side by side in silence until he said.” come and go. and it must be so obvious. Lan. the wind and clouds.” I’m not “I’m happy with you.” They were climbing slightly with Lan ahead.” “Yeah.” “Yeah? Until ya want me a little too much. going to hurt ya. and an entirely different subject overtaken her. her own words.

you hypnotize.” “For what?” “I want to... “Please.” He pulled her backwards across his knees and held the nape of her neck while he opened her jeans and slid his hand to her crotch.” He squatted at the edge of the blanket. wiping the dripping water from her mouth with the back of her hand.yeah.” he said.. What I have to say is. gently working his fingers against her while she moaned softly with closed eyes. but I. but he startled her with his words.” “Lan. . “Yes. She curled against him and lifted his hand to her cheek. sooky green. She put her arm around his waist and said.” “Ya like that?” She opened her eyes and stared elatedly into eyes of covert blackness.98 “It’s so quiet and pure and clean here.. The fear was rising in her. until a tremor of fear made her look away. “I can’t right now. “Give me back your beautiful eyes. throwing it on the ground.. running his fingers through his hair and looking at her with an unreadable question.. I want.I have to talk to ya.” she said.. “Oh. “This is as good a place as any. of falling helplessly through space. “Look at me. with an unsmiling mouth and eyes lost in the shadow of his hat but looking away from her.” “I never want to deny ya anything. He went to his horse and returned with a blanket. unable to escape the steady jet gaze.” He took off his hat and threw it down. God.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Lan...I want.” she cried. “Lan..” She knew he understood that she wanted only to be in this arousing moment with him..” “Better?” His adept fingers eased smoothly inside of her.. it’s so beautiful here. a fear of leaving herself. a long speculation in his troubled dark eyes.

I want to have ya. wanting him more than any other professed or contingent need.I have a child.. kissing her and pushing her hair away from her eyes. He zipped her jeans and lifted her still excited body up to a sitting position..and God... her head twisting helplessly against his shirt in spasms of pleasure.what I have to say has my guts in a knot and the rest of me useless. “Let me finish.” “Why? Why don’t you have her with you?” Jesus. I have..” “That’s nice.” I mean.who Katharine Gordon really is.. please.” “What.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. wife’s parents. “Wait.” She reached for him. I want to meet her.. confused and suddenly frightened again..but..when Ani..” he said.my late “Ya can’t meet her. this is.” “Lan.. Kate. I’d like to.. drunk for quite a while.I was twenty-five and drunk most of the time... I love ya.... “When I saw how ya were with my mother yesterday. I turned into a. Lan?” she asked with a new fear sweeping over her. a daughter.. He tamaiti taku. giving in to the truth which he spoke for both of them. my Green Eyes. then folded his arms and stared at her.I’ve never seen anyone so afraid of loving. “That was practice for this: Apparently.. I doubt ya know yourself.” “What?” she said..do ya even know how much ya are? Exactly what I want.. Ya want me and ya want my mother and you’re so bloody scared of that. except. he watched her come..99 With a serious mouth.. she lives with my. even enough to override the ruinous fear.died. “God.” “But she would have wanted you to--” . I realized how very right I was about ya. “My ipo.

She was a wild little bird.she fancied me. I’m telling ya now. he jumped up.crawled into my bed naked.” Seeing her distraught state. waited until I was.. I would never have opened my mouth. Please..100 “Please.. about her. But Rani got pregnant. too. “You can lie by omission. with his fist coiled at his side in a sudden heat of frustration. flawless and I’ve disappointed ya. but I was afraid Rani might ruin us. “Liar. a child herself.... telling It wasn’t ya everything.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Rani had She was sixteen. I.Kate. in-laws for anything she needs. “What? You liar!” I’ve never lied to ya.. You and Rani. I couldn’t take care of it. Nothing is perfect. The child isn’t hers.waited.I didn’t. and because of my guilt I treat her like a child. I visit her. it was the thing that sobered me up. and didn’t want the baby. How can I believe anything? “Life isn’t perfect. don’t. Ya see.” She was remembering how he sat with his arm over Rani’s chair at The Loaded Hog when first they met. really necessary. She came into my room and. I don’t even remember how I accomplished I regretted it so much I guess I had her.. suspicion made easy by past experience was “How do I know anything anymore? You!” I know ya already corroding her thought..... and to me she I was haurangi. Rani doesn’t care Rani acts like such a reckless child. dead I had no idea. that. was just my little sister.we gave the baby I pay my to my in-laws to raise and sent Rani away to school. Mistrust.. always wanted.you. can’t stand hearing that because of your past.wait!” She had jumped up with her heart flying out of her chest. Kate. Kate. drunk. It came later. Ya want me I think you’d like to see me . I regretted it the next morning. and that’s what you’ve done....whose?” “One night I came home off-my-face drunk... I don’t know why.” “But I don’t.

but he had to do it.” She turned and ran. I can’t be Please let me stay in your I’ll get a cool flannel for your head. Then Mary stared at Katharine’s face and said. Oh God. I told him it was water He loves ya so.” Please don’t let him I’m under the bridge. I told him not to. my head is beginning to ache.” Mary brought Kate a washcloth with lumps of ice gathered inside and held it on her head. jumping on Jangles and whacking his rump. Come let’s get ya into He’ll get to me. “Please come here. I’m not perfect but I I found ya and I love ya. Please understand. near me. Please. Katharine? What in heaven’s name is wrong Mary. tugging at her fruit-stained apron. Come along.and In my bed ya do. There was Rani newly arrived with a busload of mates who were laughing and joking and exploring the grounds of the Lodge. He will. He’s told ya. don’t let him near me.. please let me stay in your room.” “I’ll put ya in one of the guest rooms. packed her things into her suitcase and took it into Mary’s room.. I want ya. Jesus. Mary.” “No. “Mary? here.” “Of course ya can stay in my room. She hastened to her room. I couldn’t stand it.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . my Green Eyes.” she called.we all join hands and sing hallelujah. but Jangles had an excellent sense of direction and knew exactly where to go. room. ya love me. The sight of Rani made Katharine sick. alone. oh no. twice certain she had lost her way. getting a headache. She rode fast and hard. bringing her rather swiftly to the stables.101 as a symbol of some perfect circle that doesn’t exist -. Do ya know that? Please. Kate. know what love is. . bed. Please come with ya?” Mary cried. Mary!” “What is it. “No. “Oh no. Please. I just couldn’t stand it.

entering the room. Just try to sleep. “I’m sorry.102 “I spoiled Rani. “Go away. that someone was in the room.” “I let her carefree When Rang died I was so lost I didn’t try There’s plenty of blame to go around Katharine ran her hands across her face and moaned..” he demanded. “Rani!” Lan hollered. could you get “I have pills in my little blue bag.” “Get out!” Katharine shouted.” I’ll pull the curtains and bring the pills. Mary and Lan speaking in Maori and English back and forth. here. her spiteful young face gloating. little self run wild. Not you. please get out of here.” She had taken two pills and finally they knocked her out. but Mary was nowhere in sight. I spoiled her badly. “Lie quietly. So much of it was my fault. “Get the hell out I’ve had enough of ya.” Please.. I shouldn’t be talking. She cringed and pulled the covers up to her throat. dragging Rani out of the . She awoke and looked at the clock. “I just wanted to tell ya what I really think of ya. paleface.” Mary said. stirrer.ya phony American bitch.” Katharine begged. to straighten her out. “Katharine. He really loves me and he knows it. She was laughing with triumphant delight. Not you. ya emotionally retarded little Out. “Mary?” Rani turned on the light and moved toward her. and then put her head under the pillow. Now. “Leave me alone. of here. Try to sleep.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . my selfish fault.” Lan called. her eyes pained by the light. She started to sit up and saw “He’ll never marry ya. It was ten in the evening. Very soon Katharine heard loud voices outside the door.” “Rani.” she cried. me two?” Katharine asked.

103 room. huge lump in her throat. and she shook her head with anger and frustration. She wanted only to have her arms around She hated herself. how?” I’ve got to get out of here right away. incapable of judging anything. sent Rani and her friends packing. few days and maybe you’ll feel better by that time. good-bye. Then Lan tapped on the E noho ra. but she knew it .Careless Child Karlene Kubat . door and called to her. herself for her inability to resolve anything. anyway. poor little Katharine. so very motherly she felt a small comfort.” Katharine agreed. I’ll see ya soon. until she remembered yesterday. It was a soothing gesture. thinking how well this would fit in with her own plans. “I love ya. Green Eyes. In the morning she found Mary gone. not There was a him. stroking the hair away from her eyes. if only I can last until Thursday. like a coddled sick child. Lan.” “Yes. one pitiful mess. I’m a fearful mess. If only Mary would come and hold her hand and talk foolishness to her the way her grandmother had done when she was sick or afraid. Please remember that I love ya. Katharine was shaking badly and had momentarily decided she was in a madhouse. When Mary came into the room. Oh God. “I’ve told Lan to leave ya alone until ya calm down. “Will you sleep here tonight. The disclosed incident with Rani had jolted her out of paradise and back to reality. Katharine apologized for her histrionics and said she was feeling a little better. and she thought. but Sliding in and out of agony. tramp over at Milford.” Her eyes filled with tears.” Mary said. “Oh God. He They had planned to go on a And tomorrow he’s flying up to He’ll be back in a Nelson to check on business at the winery. Mary?” “Yes. it came to her how that might be accomplished if she could last until Thursday morning. girl.

smiling She sadly as she looked at Mary who was softly snoring. Katharine had planned carefully. the real problem was herself. since they aren’t blood related and it was too easy. would have kept everything on an even keel.104 wasn’t the real problem. She had written Mary a thankful and loving and apologetic note. and decided that it would be a sufficient good-bye for Lan. using Lan’s bathroom. She crept Slipping a few wrapped oatmeal cookies into her . along with her briefcase laptop. Then Mary might suppose she had At four o’clock she slipped out of bed.. attempting to commiserate with Katharine.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . They talked over tea and in the evenings spent together in the lounge after their meal. downstairs. gone riding. I’m sure you’re right.” “If only his Ani hadn’t died.” Probably his fine Ani “No. I’m sorry. Mary. looking up to her big brother.been far more careful. or I’d have put a stop to that soon enough. again opened up with a special softness. the fear of losing herself in Lan. should have seen it. the pain shooting all through her as she relived their hungrily indulgent showers. dressed. You can’t go on castigating yourself. the real problem went far beyond Rani. I thought she was more I like a worshipful sister.this lovely place. too.. although a taciturn person not given to personal revelations.. “Let’s talk of something else now. Mary. Oh. Mary. where Mary wouldn’t immediately find it. I realize now there were problems all over this place. You had your own problems. laying out her clothes the night before and putting her packed suitcase downstairs at the back of the foyer coat closet. She had placed the note in an unobtrusive but well-used place in the kitchen. That was My head is off today. “Even I didn’t realize how much Rani fancied Lan..” At last Thursday arrived.” Katharine put down her fork and said. quite the wrong thing to say.

Katharine discovered that a train. lurching.” she said. still numb with pain. Down at the stockades and sheds the large trucks were warming up their engines for the haul to Timaru. difference from the way she had arrived. from the Maori word Te Maru.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I can’t take any of those. *** In her guidebook. pay you. in her present condition.” “I’ll keep this. Miss. hanging onto the laptop. bouncing. the Southerner. I’ll leaving in a few minutes. can you give me a lift?” The hulking.” he suggested. blowsy driver looked her up and down in her fine linen slacks and jacket and laughed. She went up to one of the drivers and said. We’ll be They’re needed here. grimacing bitterly and frequently clenching her teeth. “No. “There are plenty of four-wheel drives around here.” “No problem. Quite a I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. . Right. her clandestine and ignominious departure from Green Braes in a sheep lorry. and the several hours long. “I need to get to Timaru. here. And so it was. she preferred not to look upon. if that’s a problem. she retrieved her things from the closet and went out the door.500 people. where she could get off and rent a car. “meaning the place of shelter.105 purse. left Timaru each morning at 10:35 going south through Dunedin. Manutane pays for all the petrol around Climb up then. Mr. Timaru. I’ll stow these. she bought a ticket then walked about the town. she taunted herself.” was a busy port city of 27. gear-grinding drive to Timaru. which. it was said to have a very nice beach and a statue of Robbie Burns. When the kindly driver left her off at the train station. had some coffee and departed on the Southerner for the Scottish town of Dunedin.

She slid down upon the . She immediately came across another statue of the ubiquitous Robert Burns. she could catch the big interislander ferry to Wellington on North Island. and began to feel ill. Queenstown was high and cooler. she thought. which had seen greater days of glory but had a certain Midlothian charm and splendid beaches. Upon looking around at this lovely Scottish town. simply look at things and keep on driving. keep driving until she reached Auckland and fly out of there. which she found was Celtic for Edinburgh. have all of these memories.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . From Dunedin she could aim for Queenstown. student-filled old university town and headed south. On and on through green flat sheep country and over one-lane bridges and broad rivers.106 On the train she had plenty of time to think of what she would do next. She stayed in a comfortable bed and breakfast with a balcony that overlooked the sky-reflecting lake. It was heavy stone. drive across one of the passes on the map and head up the West Coast. maybe even some of my folk. Too many memories. Way up north. and she was going to be She drove quickly through the sick with longing for Lachlan. It occurred to her that piling new experiences atop the present pain would help to deaden it. and she decided to drive until she was exhausted. old and fine. right-hand-drive Honda and had to keep reminding herself to drive on the left side of the road. and there discovered an innocent bruise from Lan’s lovemaking. In Dunedin. cutting west near Milton and heading for Queenstown. I’ve never been here but I Mary came here with her lover. she rented a white. Rang. on and on with tears streaming down her face. and the place is full of her folk. she showered. Strewing her things around the room. she decided to leave. with buildings studding the hills and tumbling down to the esplanade at the edge of expansive and serene Lake Wakatipu.

and another.107 tile floor and sat with her head on her knees. she lay back and said aloud. will I?” She fell into a disturbed sleep.” New Zealand. Did she Vodka was the best. forking food into their smiling mouths and sipping wine -perhaps some of it was Lan’s wine. Vodka.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . The drinks were strong. leaning on her hand for a while and discreetly watching the convivial diners. she sat cross-legged on her bed with her laptop screen glowing before her. looking from time to time out at the lake. She had experienced this condition before. the warm water pouring over her. have three of them or four? wear and tear on recovery. and suddenly there was the message from Green Braes: “Please come back to me. She had been all over the world and hardly ever got lost. she nibbled around the edges of a generous plate of rice with chunks of meat and vegetables. “Lan. . but had never been quite this drunk alone. she woke up sweating but with only a slight headache. walking down uncluttered streets and peering into small restaurants until she grew tired. Ordering a drink. oh. She paid her bill and left. she sat down at a blond wood table in a tiny cream-walled bistro which was supposed to remind one of Morocco. together. Lan. Katharine. my Green Eyes. At last she regained her sense of direction. but no more hungry. Drying herself off in a slow daze. my love. less Swallowing several aspirin. They were all in flagrantly amorous twos. Having reached the end of endurance. She ordered another drink. In late morning. A list of her e-mail was displayed. Lan. she dressed and went out. Finally. In the middle of the night. a deceptive little ache that promised to bloom fully later. We’ll resolve this Please don’t leave Please come back. standing outside and wondering for a moment how to get back to her room. I’ll never see you again. she then began to pace. oh. Please.

long sparkling beaches. scrambled down to the beach and ran barefoot on the gray sand until she couldn’t breathe. It was named Aratere. Once she parked the car. She never acquired a single sandfly bite. a place for lovers. where all the splendid jade was made into jewelry.cool. No finicky little fly would bite into this poisonous body. anything but consciousness. At Picton she bought a ticket for the 10:30 sailing and got into the long line that wound through the town. The rainy West Coast had offered a few sunny spots.” she cried. it even She took the elevator up to the plush bar. If she encountered many more couples holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes.108 “Oh God. finally driving aboard the huge interislander ferry which plied the waters to Wellington. Maori for “quick path. slumping forward in tears. violet-padded chair as the ferry plunged through the misty waters with hardly a tremor. It rained half way up the West Coast. She stayed near Westport before crossing the That night she took out her mountains on her way to Picton. she would be inclined to jump off a bridge without a bungy cord. the white tassels dipping in the wind. She ordered a drink and sat in the broad bow in a sumptuous. staring at the spiky dark flax growing on the cliffs. She stood gasping. Really nice. In three and a half hours windy Wellington . but the sun shined at the beach town of Hokitika. too piercingly beautiful. what she needed. *** She had decided to skip Milford Sound. she told herself. spanking past golden islands like a proud swan. Staring at it she tried to will herself to fall asleep or fall into a trance or fall into some insensitive state. totoeka jade pendant and held it in her hand -. the red river flowing through the green like blood gushing from her heart. oh God.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” just Nothing like her tame Seattle ferries. had a movie theater.

She held her As if it Did bone-aching misery make one more Why was she doing this? It was no game. A journalist she knew had raved about the It was far more than her appetite food there. she sat on her bed in her silk slip. checking her e-mail. Katherine Mansfield had spent the teenaged years of her short life. After checking into the Novotel Wellington. If it was going to continue this way. and he was right. could accommodate: fresh bluenose bass. Waves were crashing over the motorway in a howling gale that was apparently the norm for Wellington. She drove by the famous executive office building of the parliamentary complex known as the Beehive. then dressed in a white suit and pumps and called a taxi. and thick slices of Parmesan cheese bread. pesto mashed potatoes served home style. she dreaded returning to her car. why didn’t she just turn the car around? The message from Green Braes read: I am yours and always “You belong to me. breath. New Zealand had stifled Public places reveled in the land’s exotic nikau Off to the sophisticated cities of Europe she had sailed. She felt the top of her head growing cold. a large bowl of crisp salad. palms. So this was where the writer. Pounamu Eyes. a little woozy from the wine. She swallowed generous amounts of wine. Paradise was far too provincial. giving the driver the name of a restaurant on Queens Wharf called Shed 5. So tranquil had she been rendered by the lulling ferry and her Scotch. and looked the opposite direction from two staring men seated at a nearby table.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . which was just what it resembled. . rested. attractive? Back in her room. were some kind of game. and she had to turn on her wipers.109 came sliding into view. She had no desire to drive herself to dinner. the room going black. and almost fainted. her. her heart racing. she took a shower.

and she felt the crispness of the snowy peaks that partially surrounded the lake. it had once belonged to the rogue actor Errol Flynn. The lake teamed with famously large and gleaming. clear. Kate Green She drove over sweeping empty landscapes and miles Lake Taupo was a of carefully manicured. the largest lake in all of New Zealand. formed by one of the largest volcanic upheavals the world has ever seen. Was it too late? Had she already disappeared into Lan? *** It took her seven hours to drive to Lake Taupo in the middle of North Island. especially for those living in 186 A. The Barbary. There was She no message on her computer that night or the morning after. Remember how we are No one else will ever have you like that. and the lake itself a high. and the thinness of the air. Eyes. ipo. and was touted to offer a popular tourist cruise. disappointed? Or was that really the reason she was She couldn’t get away the next morning and lay in bed with a headache. very clean for so much tourism.110 will be. rainbow trout that all originated in California’s Russian River. popular place. She wanted to Even to think of fishing made her want to There was a large old racing yacht floating around the lake. . cry.D. with tidy modern dwellings in Taupo at the lake’s northeast edge. stop and fish there. iridescent-silver trout. crying softly and sliding her empty hands over the moist center of her body. together.” She lay back on her bed. rolling from side to side. built in 1926.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . very large lake. had drunk too much at a restaurant. to Auckland. It was 375 meters above sea level. she was more than half way Remember how I hold you. Katharine crashed in a lakeside motel in Taupo. disappointed because there was no trout on the menu. cold. dark green forests. Once there.

the other a delicately spicy red sauce which did not detract from the flavor of the fresh fish. On a sudden impulse she decided to send the photograph to Green Braes. She She couldn’t remember their names or very much of what they had said. As soon as she had dropped it into the . They insisted on buying the drinks. but she was smiling proudly with her two excellent fish.111 “I will go fishing. When her picture was developed the trout looked wonderful but she did not. for she appeared thin as a reed. and everyone was thoroughly and happily soused by the end of the evening. She caught two large trout far too easily and stared off at the mountains as they plowed home with the wind in their faces while she shouted to the guide -.” she said aloud from her bed. only the laughter and the heart-rending accents and the very welcome camaraderie of their rosy smiling faces. as if to say. I don’t need your love or any part of your mixed up life and I’m having a wonderful time in your country without you. so fine that she invited people over to her table to share the large meal. one in a light soy and green onion sauce. He photographed her with the fish then left her at a restaurant which he assured her would prepare her trout very nicely.” the two couples said. and catching your lovely fish to boot. although not quite as happy. Returning that evening at an appointed hour. herself was quite soused. She hired a Maori fishing guide and he took her out on the lake to a spot guaranteed to produce trout. She was quite surprised. “Good on ya.vivid descriptions of rambunctious steelhead trout fishing.above the noise of the boat motor -. See. she found the proprietors had done two expert and tasty presentations of the fish. her moist green eyes sad and larger looking than ever in her drawn face.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . laughing and joining in.

After having sent her photograph she felt an ill wind nipping at her heels. but perhaps another excuse to run. and bubbling mud ponds. either. “Good lord. was no place to land. searching for a place to land. a thermal reserve filled with famous geysers. She stayed one night in Rotorua and in the morning drove the three hours to Auckland. Driving eighty-two kilometers the next day. and called Margaret. She had wanted to visit a marae.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . unfit to be welcomed or so tenderly treated. failed in her smallness. she was in Rotorua. Katharine checked into a small. the open area in front of the Maori meeting house. wasn’t all a matter of forgiveness. the Maori spot tourists seemed to love most on North Island. It seemed to her that he was the symbol of what must be accomplished. It was a physical and a spiritual act which she thought of as a profoundly beautiful ceremony. Too much pungent sulfur and too many tourists for her. a very unlikely place in which to be found. She was like a foreign There It bird flying over the land. and she did walk through Te Whakarewarewa. and that she ought to get on in a hurry. and she was the person who had failed. I’m so happy to hear your voice. but the dense Maori history here was quite fascinating to investigate. obscure hotel. spectacular aquamarine pools. for it was cloaked in a terrible lie and only drew her back to Green Braes. Perhaps some day she would return with enough humility and understanding of herself to deserve a marae welcome. but she felt unclean. because she had failed to forgive Lan. her fear and mistrust. The place reeked of hot springs. Kate?” Where are ya. . the welcoming and acceptance of a guest.112 mailbox she regretted her foolishness. One quick immersion in one of these would cure her of everything.

and I don’t know what the problems are.. Margaret. please. Maybe I’ll be back some day. but Lan is my I can’t believe it myself.. both. Margaret.I think I could totally disappear into Lachlan Manutane. Lan knows who ya are.or if you come to Seattle. I mean... can’t. not that ya aren’t. problems.. Please.and there are other assumes too much importance.. I think you’re making a terrible mistake. wouldn’t be me calling.” What a long way it is. romantic for someone who’s always out there in the world’s bad parts.” “Kate.. can’t.because it Can you understand? I’m far too much of a stranger to myself already.. long way.too much of an idealist. I just never thought. “I can’t. up. Kate.oh..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I’ll go to pieces if I don’t hang . Really sorry. I’m sorry. respects who ya are. He’s going out of his mind.. Kate.but I should have known.. friend. and no good to anyone this way. ya found each other.the.. independence. That would destroy us And you see I’ve always run like mad from... a long. because ya really are quite a girl. but when ya love each other they can be worked out.. What I do now is at least familiar to me. please call him. because I’m leaving New Zealand almost at once.I mean..” “I don’t really understand this.. Margaret.. I know he respects your Don’t ya care enough to--” “Oh God.. what Oh God. I’m so sorry we never got to spend much time together. Isn’t that rather amazing? You’re bloody Perhaps you’re too..113 “I’d rather not say.. I don’t know what this is all about...the annihilation of my miserable self before I even straighten myself out...” I just wanted to thank you for being a I’ve got to go. bloody-hell.” “Kate.. I know I shouldn’t say anything to ya but I’ve got to.” Can’t.I hope.but I suppose you won’t. friend.from whatever And.

” Katharine hung up and bawled in a loud rush of grief.114 “Wait.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . spirit. matter how far away you go.. of that on your long flight home. She could not envision it. beautiful country. or call. you look so sad with your two handsome fish. there I’ll be. You know I love you. Lan must have received the picture very quickly because there was a message on her e-mail the next morning that nearly finished her off. “Green Eyes. and if that is so then you love me.” She had confirmed her plane reservations and called a It was a sad way to leave such a taxi for the morning.” We are one . Lan. continuing to feel small and unworthy. Think deeply. She tried to assume a stoic posture. is that Lan cares for ya Please think as I’ve never seen him care for anyone in years. Kate.” “Good-bye. to soothe herself with a trite and meaningless cliché that came into her head as she was standing in her tacky little room. “It just wasn’t in the cards.. One day you’ll look up and It’s Think of your childhood. It tells me that It doesn’t you’ve suffered. She She didn’t even want to contemplate what her life might have been like if she had stayed at Green Braes. Kate. She knew there was something missing in her frame of reference. just keep in touch. My final word to ya. Say good-bye and cheers to Ian. I treasure it. and the familiarity of an undefined and chaotic way of life had been allowed to rule. E-mail me or write me. had never felt so alone.anything. why you can’t forgive and why you run so hard.” Please come back. Thank you for sending the picture. Katharine. It tells me something very important about you. even though she couldn’t Doubt recall a single memory of Lan without nearly passing out. my friend. my ipo. “Good-bye. Margaret. continuing to believe she must go out and do something about it.

There was an ache that came into her wrists and ankles. Her nerves told her it was straight overhead. When at last she could leave her room. she would fall into a vacuous stare and wonder what she had been looking at. standing in the rain in Beacon Hill Park and listening to the peacocks’ mournful cries. this heavy sickness being dragged around in her body until she could hardly withstand the weight. shivering in the sea mists and looking at stucco English cottages and quaint old wooden houses which reminded her of New Zealand. Victoria had been an interlude equivalent to a state of shock. she walked around the verdant city distractedly peering into sleeping wet gardens. to engage in any form of self-evaluation. never mind trying to correct anything.115 II It was cold early spring in Victoria. was as congenital as an arm or a leg. seeing instead a tall sail unfurling over aquamarine water and feeling a sudden heat on her skin. and now here it was. exacting work requiring full concentration. This isn’t working out. she said. Occasionally. The next day she returned to Seattle with something more engulfing and monumental in mind: work. a bittersweet misery that at times almost sent her to her knees. What was it? Once Lan A Maori word she could make herself remember but She had gone to New Zealand with not without hearing his voice.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . but had made not the slightest change in a single uncertainty. had told her. The interlude was over and she had refused to think of anything. because when she went far enough back to dig at the root of the problem there was her father telling her she must be beaten because she was the child of her mother. only the thought of an easy assignment. would always be tainted. The condition Her intellect told her this predetermined fate assigned by an enraged parent was ridiculous. like .

We all get on in the best way we can. you did you were going to be beaten. she could listen with an ear and mind that she hoped would retain a controlled compassion. asserting that everything was wonderful. only of work. for small pleasures and attempted good for others. soft and hopeful. the rules of conduct were familiar.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . in a sense. just as she had lied by slight implication to Lan about her happy post-father childhood. By the time she was eight. the damage thrived. That fragile part of her was all That part of her was what wished You never receptive. Beneath this self-deception. her well-meaning but parochial grandmother could have done nothing to erase this emotional conviction. she needed to go further. was working. at first with outrageous arrogance and then by lying. Katharine felt herself fairly well-equipped for the job. Katharine took care of her permanent affliction in the best way she could. She went all the way to Jerusalem on a rigorous Now she The only remedy was to keep moving and think assignment which she had postponed until this moment. a part of outcome if you were congenitally no good? her always wanted to believe in good. and there are others a lot . and existed in ample enough amounts to make existence worthwhile. No matter what Why expect a positive Of course. even in herself. This time she was so far gone that. probably very quickly and by your own hand.116 a dark cloud pregnant with doom. In this resumed role of journalist. because it was counterproductive. got rid of that or you’d be dead. Unlike a lot of pols with agendas. In a world gone deaf this one pair of ears would listen carefully. would attempt a viable encapsulation and dispersion of a long and legitimate history of pain. strived to act as if it existed. and her mind must stay focused on inflamed Palestinians and Israelis in a very dangerous place. she didn’t distract herself with unassociated fear.

Sprawling out before her was a collection of ancient buildings representing far more than ornate and long-lived periods of architecture. Although architectural modernity of the most avant-garde stripe existed here.117 worse off was the oft-repeated bromide of her self-sacrificing grandmother. she reminded herself. it was quite a difficult achievement. her own misery would be readily superceded by a large collective misery which daily accelerated. It was seventeen to fifty feet high and in places ten . blood-fed land of dissension and death. In this starkly beautiful. in this exotic That was the place from which Katharine always place of red desert supporting rich treasures of antiquity. the ever-changing. had captured this once humble and now sacred spot from the Jebusites some three thousand years ago. The Romans alone had been here over three hundred years.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Here. her room faced the Old City. three centuries longer if one considered the Byzantine Roman Emperor Constantine.7 miles of gated wall which the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built between 1536 and 1541. How ironic that the name Jerusalem meant “foundation of peace. started. Standing on her veranda on the fourth floor of the King David Hotel in the rosy-gold setting sun.” The hotel’s namesake. everything was light and shadow here. the walled city. King David. for they were powerful symbols of peoples and cultures and spiritual dreams. she tried to imagine what it would feel like to be the dispossessed. ambitious proprietors coming and going from every corner of the Middle Eastern map. 2. translucent blue hazed with gold above the dense texture of the Old City. When not curtained with winter drizzle. Today the sky was an ethereal. Three thousand years of strife and struggle with swiftly time-threaded moments of peace and hope.

Inside its southeastern part were the gray-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque. gave one long sigh as the light faded. the greatest distance was a deep psychological pathology with no end in sight. Off to the west in the Old City was the Places sacred to Christians and Church of the Holy Sepulcher. If she returned each day. and despite careful scheduling nothing was ever certain. She could set up her laptop and work from a convenient desk when she returned each day. a Jacuzzi. Muslims and Jews. always it hovered over flawed man’s magnificent achievements. VCR.for an American all distances here were very short. a compact disc stereo system. the gleaming Dome of the Rock. The room was a bastion of comfort. She stood very still. Otherwise.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She had a guide lined up to visit Palestinian camps and planned to do her own photography when permitted. then stepped back inside her commodious suite. Great care had always to be taken.118 feet thick. all existing beneath the pervasive spectre of spilled blood. She dressed in an olive sweater and skirt and slid her foot . the stamp would prevent one from entering an Arab country when reportage required that entry. the troubling logistics of even negotiating very short distances -. a handsome bedroom. so close together and yet by historical paths and human nature so very far apart. One did not even allow an Israeli stamp on one’s passport.a separate living room. and fax. and the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif with its most sacred Wailing Wall dating from the first century. There were regular Israeli-imposed curfews in this tit for tat world of monstrous acts. Her squinting eyes could hardly take in a fraction of the encrustations of history and meaning. An extravagant self-indulgence to soothe her troubled brain. but instead requested a special entry document for that purpose. She well knew the red-tape imbroglios that were the norm. although she hardly ever worked in such luxury -.

stopping to button his shirt as those dark eyes engulfed her reason. Judith Stein was a teacher at Hebrew University on Mount Scopus north of the Mount of Olives in the northeastern part of Jerusalem. her own coddling cave in which to work absent of any memory at all. smiling at her old schoolmate as she heard once again that familiar Israeli . but she had declined. Judith Stein. and was now held in his powerful sway. she ordered a Manhattan neat and waited for her friend. wanting her own sanctum.” Judith said as Katharine stood up to receive and give a hug. Her heart pounded as if he were about to enter Taking several deep breaths. and the friend.” it was what the word intifada meant. she finished her preparations for dinner and went downstairs to meet a friend who lived in an Art Deco apartment not far away. in the lovely old 30s neighborhood of Rehavia. summoning up the entire memory. she tried to focus on its sumptuous intimations of antiquity. and Phoenician cultures. the room. But the memories would not leave her. Hittite. her own headquarters. She had stayed there on her last visit. suddenly remembering Green Braes and descending the stairs beside Lan. She had thought of Lan.” “Thin is good. her body at once more his than her own. Striding briskly over the shining floors and through the splendid public halls of the King David. “There you are. She sat motionless. begun in 1987. scrollsided cream columns and the high ceilings cross-beamed with colorful and interesting motifs. a violent Palestinian response to suppression and devalued existence. Katharine. isn’t it?” Katharine said.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She would shake off the “A shaking off. “You’re thinner. Here were touches of Assyrian.119 into her chestnut wedge-heeled shoe. Once seated at her table in the La Regence Grill. the square. holding the other shoe in her hand. had once again offered her a bedroom. memories over dinner.

” As if to amend her physical condition. commerce-exchanging peace.120 voice. they resumed their discussion of what everyone called “the situation. Judith?” Judith. I wish it all belonged to us. while they slowly spooned into a fruited mousse dessert. Judith ate They both commented that the food was fresh and delicious as they sipped their citrine wine and discoursed at greater length on a reacquainting range of mundane matters. you will see that they think it does. “Everyone is equally One of sick of and horrified at the current state of affairs.” Once seated on Katharine’s comfortable sofa and nursing small glasses of brandy.” Katharine emptied her wine glass and said. although she was not able to finish her meal. leaned back and said. For . If you manage to talk to the far right. We can have a little nip of something with coffee and talk in private. “So you are going to visit Palestinians.” “There is every shade of sentiment here from rabid hatred of each other to a desire for co-existing states and an aloof. but it doesn’t.” “Where do you stand in those shades of feeling. white fish with the same wild rice and salad. “Not too thin.” Judith said. the sticking points is the control of this extraordinary capital city of over six hundred thousand souls which is so important to all of us. “Come up to my rooms. They refuse to consider the plight of the Palestinians. her smallish body wrapped in a pale blue cashmere sweater and matching slacks. Judith. “Ideally. Katharine ate chicken croquettes and sauce with wild rice and a mixed green salad. There’s a sort of complimentary bar there. “The logistics of doing that could really be dangerous.” Judith finally said. But it’s so good to see you again.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .

” “We have tried to resolve this. And I grieve.” . something to be proud of in that sense.. their dignity assaulted. their villages.. and so many have died. land. ignorance... intelligent and longsuffering and apparently caring.. would fight. Their homes.” “But human bombs--” “They don’t have tanks or gunships. until I died. You’ve given them curfews and treated them like bad children or worse.. it seems elementary.what a sorrow. It might have been paradise.all the more amazing that.” “They want only to fight.their land gone.rationalization.I’m sorry to say very much like concentration camps.. no They make themselves into respect for even their own lives..121 them there is no plight but their own..a hopeless place..” “Katharine.you have taken their land. an outsider. You’ve made a Why do Arabs I love this city. They kill innocents.this beautiful place here.. It’s a history of their own suffering.. it’s inexcusable that innocent youth are inveigled into those wretched tactics.. human bombs...” “Because they’re under severe stress. even with my bare hands.. to kill. a willful interpretation of God’s written word and anger.. hubris.. too. want to kill us?” “For me.. started.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . yours is not a popular view..” “Do you ever grieve for Palestinians?” “I’ve been too busy grieving for Israelis..” “Meanwhile. Yes. But backed into such an inescapable corner. I believe I. their houses gone.a frustration at the level of mad rage. their dreams have vanished.. you’ve shut them in pens. Don’t get me They have no regard for life.prisoners. You Israelis are so remarkable. oh.hunger for a place they believe nearest to God.

122 “What was the Haganah. too. those radical wings were swallowed up. Now we’ve said our say.” Judith flung her hair back with an angry grimace. it anymore. You’re not a Jew. As soon as the well-oiled machinery of a state was With properly in place. And who were the Lehi and Irgun armies and the Palmach strike force in those early days? They.” “You have no idea.” I can’t do “And I’ve had this discussion too many times. or my country’s representatives? Both sides are mired in rage. Only wrong-thinking leaders with self-serving interests and backed by extremists want that. Judith. Judith?” “The Haganah? The beginning of the Israeli Defense Forces. They just aren’t going away..” “How do you know?” Judith asked with irritation. I feel deeply for both sides. “I hope I’m not. and It’s exactly what you need.” “Me? Do you mean me. even to fight amongst themselves. “The populace doesn’t want to fight when it isn’t necessary. Somehow reason must come into play. . the leaders are involved in all sorts of conflicting agendas. Don’t Both “Please sit down. “They wanted only to fight. “So you know something of our history. sides have to ride through all of this killing. brutal mistreatment and vilification.” but you don’t live here. slice right through the horrors of the extremists and move without stopping to a place of co-existence. with a legacy of Don’t preach to me. Our survival. wanted only to fight. think I don’t feel for you.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” rising out of the Zionist Labor movement. because neither side is going away. or you’ll never have peace. Now let’s talk of something else. Innocents don’t have to go on suffering and dying on either side.you seem to think you can just come here and tell us what to do..” Judith stood up. a Palestinian state the same would come to be true. I’m sure you’ve had preachment enough.

and to them it looks quite the reverse. and it only leads backwards. and the more I read and observe the more I realize that you need a persevering mediator. The A Palestinians need an autonomous state with a sound structure. A number of well-intentioned Israelis have seen this. seen that the killing must stop and how to stop it. it’s interesting. too. but Nothing must stop it.” “I do. too.and yes. That’s the only solution. but that is what must occur. once again standing with her agitated Surely you see it.” Judith said. This is their country. .123 some honest and some far from it. The history of Some strong third party must Oh.” “They seem to want it all. it hasn’t happened yet. and gardens and land. and if it’s well in place it will survive the sudden loss of any leader. state isn’t a leader but a structure. I’ve been reading comprehensive reports on the actions of both sides. mediate a lasting peace. Innocent Palestinian people are being They have a right to houses That cannot continue.” “You know.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . the trouble is something always stops it. it’s been tried many times. our government and certainly many of our citizens have been -and then I’ve observed that many Israelis are furious with us for favoring a Palestinian state.” “And you think your American president can do that? all the public posturing. to laugh and sing and eat and dream. Palestinians and Israelis are too often misrepresented by fanatical. my country has proved that. I’ve found that the With Palestinians hate us for being partial to Israelis -. “I know you fear that. oppressed. warring autocrats. a third impartial party to come in here and tell you what to do. but I don’t think so. the right to come and go freely. A society only lives freely and comfortably when reason is allowed to supercede the horrors of wild emotion.” Judith chided.

life. If enough people are shown.. “Hmm..” You wanted to continue and You’re my friend. think your country has committed no atrocities?” “How I wish it were the case..ah.respect your opinion. And you’re here because it has gone perhaps?” Currently. “Psychology is definitely your metier. Katharine?” “Oh. but it has nothing to do with my conviction. “Please don’t be angry. so I did. circumstance that is unconscionable for any compassionate human being. shaking her head as she sat down. yes. and her gray eyes blazing with a certain indignant anger.” “Do you have a private life. it’s one of the reasons I tolerate your audacity. Katharine. “You’re a guest in Israel and I’m trying to be polite...” Katharine said. I haven’t much of a private life.” I think You “You were such an exceptional student. “What about you..” “Aren’t reporters supposed to be unbiased?” “I try to be.” “I intend to .your private life?” “Oh.however unpopular..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Katharine had stood and touched Judith’s shoulder. Judith sat down.. Judith. But it comes and goes. I’m far better at my work than I am at a private This is a Sooner or later I would have come back here..” Judith said with a sardonic laugh. for anyone in a position to publicize the futility of constant bloodshed.. Please.” “You weren’t so bad yourself. Now we’ll talk of something else.124 fingers sliding through her dark blond hair. leaning forward with her face in her hand and her elbow resting on her knee. but you have me doing it again. it’s a conviction.try to tell the truth. marry as soon as I find a suitable husband. You have a good mind and I do respect that. “We were talking about the problem here. Judith.” And it’s more than opinion.

I “But I’ll listen if you want me to. Lovers consume you.125 “What? hard..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . is it not? But your eyes are enviable.” Do you want to talk about “When you aren’t teaching. It could be that I’m far too particular... to those camps seems to me like a nightmare. I’m sure.. too. “Maybe it’s the way to go.those sad green eyes.” Katharine answered. I have a few things to do before I sleep for the morning rush. you’re listening to enough sad stories in your practice. shrugging.” “So you’re going to be evasive. for the people living there..” “And to do that I have to do a lot of listening..” “Yes?” Judith said with an incisive encouragement. I don’t think of futility. You don’t need another one from me. I’m a listener. I have a very good friend who is really just that. it? I think you need to.” I will have you over Going “And I thank you for the good meal..” It’s in my nature. let me know if you need a sympathetic ear while you’re here.opinion...” “The nightmare is.in the same way that you need to go about reporting on the state of things.. They.” “Thanks for coming and for sharing thoughts with me. “Just..or I wouldn’t be in this profession.except when this sad. You can’t find one? You can’t be looking very You have so much to offer.. “Guess I’d better get back to my place..” Judith stood up with finality. my friend.” door. “If you could see your face.more a friend than a lover.. Katharine. Well.. Envy is expressed as green.. for supper in a few days.” “I don’t know about that. Judith. Please be careful. *** Katharine walked a rather sullen Judith to the . I’ll check in with you from time to time. usually know when it’s needed.rather futile.

dabbled in a few items: an orange. A large date palm was dripping in the slow drizzle as she passed through the ancient Jaffa Gate and then down through the souk. Orient House. sex. a boiled egg along with coffee. Forces had placed the camps under twenty-four hour curfew. the others moving at a The Israeli Defense This snail’s pace and open only to settlers. smoking. disheartening news made Katharine nervous and irritable. involving dawn to dusk fasting. the now subdued marketplace. now often rife with soldiers. and When she phoned Ahmed. she walked over to the Old City. Setting off with an umbrella borrowed from the hotel. but rather a desire to stretch her legs and breathe the high cool air of the rain-washed Judean Hills. in front of the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem. She was to meet her contact. Ahmed. so many determined lives. and currently had no wish to visit the hotel’s fitness room. The fragile white almond blossoms which Katharine had once seen in February would have blown away. for the Muslim population. and the tight. She badly needed mitigating exercise. he told There had once there interpret for her. overhung and winding passageways which held centuries of echoing footfalls. no food. but the season of rain had tapered off. or harsh oaths.126 In the morning it was raining. a roll. This was the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. a lovely old refurbished hotel slightly north and west of the Old City.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Self-purification Katharine went down early to the tempting miscellaneous breakfast buffet provided by the hotel. He would have arranged a visit to one of the camps. for it was late March and nearing the end of Ramadan. narrow. . resulting in two deaths. Many roads were closed. been another explosion on one of the main roads. her that absolutely nothing was negotiable today. and then returned to her room to make a phone call. so many little intrigues that melted away with disappointment and physical decline. drink.

She had never been there in the rain. Why have I been so hopelessly ineffectual. was itself awash in fierce contention and wild negative emotion. she.. she thought as she shook off her umbrella and entered the soothing quiet of the King David Hotel. “This bloody mood.. Quickly setting down the cup. mingling with commiserating regret and her own frustration. the present miseries all joining a restless river of sorrow from which she was unable to swim free.unable to move on. presumed to represent man’s triumph over pain and a connection with the Divine.127 Moving along the Street of the Chain. his voice in her soft outcry.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . pulsing with the world. the rain like the tears of all those who had suffered over this small sacred spot on the troubled planet. and then heard Lan’s idiom. descended the steps and came out into the northwestern side of the plaza. Continuing to chastise herself. she turned around and headed slowly back the way she had come. in Hebrew called Rehov Hasharsheret... drinking tea and reading an editor’s email directives appearing on her laptop screen as it glowed like a living entity. the past. As she was going through the remainder of her messages.” she muttered. There was a lone black-garbed member of the orthodox Hasidim making his way to the Wailing Wall with his dripping umbrella raised high. and accidentally splashed hot tea on her shaking hands. She stood letting the rain drift into her face. She realized that she herself was blinking away the moisture of remorseful eyes. such a victim of my sorry self? she pondered. she sat on her sofa in her robe. This sacred place.oh. she caught sight of email registering from long silent Green Braes. A hot bath and then tea might help. ever watchful but resolute. she rubbed her hands together and held them clasped against her chest a moment then sighed and opened the message. . When she had soaked in a warm herb-scented bath. she turned right.

tossed it down. At seven in the morning. she could go no further and pressed the send button before she could change her mind. Ahmed called to say that a road had temporarily opened to Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip... . Please.. Kate. air. out in the field. down on the whole thing. but would pick her up in the UNRWA van. I can’t write this. She was to be in front of Orient House in half an hour. to inform a segment of the world. she checked the weather. trying to work. wanted no food. I’m It’s difficult to do like I think you knew what I’ve come to admit to myself: that It was the whole thing..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. Don’t do this to us. Please communicate with me. where you are. hugging a pillow until she dozed off. then curled up in her luxurious bed. Lan.128 “I miss you very much.” Suffering herself.” Her uncooperative hands barely allowed her to hit the right keys as she finally succumbed to a distraught answer: “Please go on with your life. He was not promising that everything would go according to plan. Rattling through small bottles in the conveniently stocked little bar. but the drizzle had stopped. which needed to hear the other side: always an act requiring a certain amount of risk. this.. Please don’t suffer. I couldn’t see. forgetting. Coolish Standing on her veranda. There was a thick dark cloud bursting in a gray column behind a rainbow low in the west. She She wanted to work. At least she was at liberty to do this. I Do you give a damn if I’m suffering? need to know how you are. can you help me by being well and by forgiving.looking it wasn’t really about Rani. she found the vodka. to obey the wise counsel of her simple grandmother by losing her own story in the grievously disregarded stories of others. Apologize to Mary for me. along with another person with whom he worked in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.oh.

. green. Is that the right thing to do?” Katharine asked with a polite smile.. Karima. She sat behind Ahmed and was at once introduced to the shyly smiling passenger beside her named Karima. Clutching her large purse. a head scarf which fell to her waist and was a common sight among the women of Gaza.very beautiful.” Karima said in careful English. She considered climbing the stairs to see if she might peek inside. black-. She walked through the slightly ajar high gate and stared past the dark green firs. the building was a stone’s throw from the extremely orthodox Hassidim neighborhood of Me’ah She’arim.” and brought the scarf gently over her head with quick agile fingers.or jade. “I’m not Muslim. “Let me do this for you.the Never have I seen eyes of this green. Orient House was now the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in East Jerusalem. Flying the red- triangled. “It will be easier.. but Karima said. studying the gamariya construction often found in Islamic architecture..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and green-barred Palestinian flags. but heard the quick beep of a car horn. white-.. especially on the road. the gabled covering over a handsome fan entrance set with colored glass surrounded by stylized plaster latticework.” Immediately thinking of Lan. “Thank you. Formerly a hotel and the 1897 villa of Isma’il al-Husseini.. I find your amber-brown eyes . Katharine reached for the scarf. Katharine felt a weakness in her stomach.129 A hotel-summoned taxi let Katharine off before the irongated entrance of elegant Orient House. Karima’s smooth-skinned round face was surrounded by the gossamery white hijab. “Your eyes are surprising. Katharine hastened outside the gate and climbed into the waiting white UN van. “I have brought for you a scarf. like the mineral stone malachite.” Karima said.

and Neve Daniel. I have three children and my mother.” “Yes. Efrat..” “So then.” “Because I’m a woman. “Do you have children?” Karima asked.” Karima said. “No.and the desperate need for sustenance. Elazar. the stuff of life and quite a bit more. “We are going almost to Hebron. too.. and each line. then to Gaza and south.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . a road often closed. a story of hours in brutal sun. and Netzarim are open to travelers now. Karima.good teachers.130 quite lovely. Karima had informed her.” “You will be asked this often... you are doing here. Katharine thought. “the old are wise. My eyes are from the eyes of my mother.” “Yes. I don’t. Kfar Darom.” Katharine stared forward out the front windshield while Karima explained the places they were passing as they rolled along through the Judean Hills: the Jewish communities of Gush Etzion. produce along the road..” “She is alive?” “No.” “My husband is dead. strife. Gone a long time ago. When they reached Kfar Etzion the Arab villages began to appear and continued until they reached the Kiryat Arba turnoff.gone now. “What route do we take?” Katharine called out loudly enough for Ahmed to hear. They were on the tunnel road out of Jerusalem. child bearing.” “Ah. human loss. another parent you have?” “My grandmother raised me. They will be wondering what . She was a wise teacher. field work..” “You’re working. The army checkpoints at Muraj. Arab women were selling Their weathered faces heavily lined.

As they drew up to the first checkpoint. ID. Katharine held out her passport and explained that she was simply going to visit with some Palestinian women and had the required approval to do so. “Why the hijab?” the soldier holding an M-16 inquired. intimidating road blockades involving examination and interrogation. “just trying to be polite. and said. “You are not one of them. his and Karima’s special passes. too. but she knew that sooner or later she would have to lift those always startling green eyes and level them at someone’s scrutinizing face.” Katharine exclaimed.” “I’m not trying to hide. traversed for thousands of years.” In this warring climate.131 I must work. waved them on. that’s unnerving.” Karima responded and fell silent. and would now have to deal with checkpoints. she was hesitant to inquire just how the presumably young husband had died. Ahmed was ready Katharine with hawiyya. trying not to look at anyone.” Katharine answered with a smile.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . we have a single moment of relief. “Good lord. Katharine began to experience the anxious feeling of threat that was always present under such uncertain and unequal conditions. “and it is never without worry. to pass. When attention was at last focused on her.” “I.” The soldier warned her about the dangers of the camps and. They were on the Gaza road. “I’m sorry. and at which Palestinian travelers were powerless to do anything but suffer whatever fate was decided upon by IDF soldiers. because she was with an UNWRA guide. lowered her head and sat very still. If we are allowed It is very .” Karima said. “We go through that every time we reach a checkpoint.

and it is a In some countries Muslims social time. why we often have such anger. still it is difficult. questions.” Karima said. Israeli authorities extend curfew from seven o’clock to nine o’clock. She also knew that she could Red tape.” “I try to play that down. you have a U. worship. o’clock. and they were soon in Khan Yunis. but even then it is not easy. we must rush to be home by nine And very soon it will return to seven o’clock. We can eat after sunset. One more very fortunately uneventful checkpoint at the Israeli settlement of Kfar Darom. Here. a sort of castle-like dwelling for rest.132 humiliating to have a young immigrant IDF soldier demand of an older Palestinian man what he is doing in the place where he was born. During Ramadan. feeling some of the anger that so many innocent Palestinians must feel in very large doses at the severe proscription of their lives. can party all night.S. “It is my hope that you will make others understand what is laid upon us. “UN workers have red passes. passport and are not subject to curfew. and immense respect for your great strength in living like this.” “I have deep regret for all of this humiliation. Here fourteenth century Egyptian Mamluk sultans had provided caravan travelers with a khan. They do not like journalists.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” Katharine said in a voice filled with newly heightened emotion. “But curfew for you?” she went on. My father has experienced this many times. exempting us from curfew.” Katharine said. where guards in high towers waved them through. “Officially. take no picture without first carefully seeking permission from her subject. “Should we worry about the curfew?” Katharine asked.” Katharine rode in silence. its eroded remnants were falling to dust . stroking her travel purse with camera inside. and supplies. Karima.

the mother of three children. This town of more than 80.and the people who suddenly found a black X on their houses had all or a part of their houses disappear quickly for this big road. “This happened in the 1970s with General It faced a broad Ariel Sharon’s Iron Fist response to the fedayeen.” Ahmed said.” Karima said. husband. “The language of graffiti. a wide street dividing the neighborhood to make room for the Israeli soldiers to chase guerrillas who vanish in narrow alleys. its minaret soaring seventy-five feet into the sky. as though a sudden wind would bring it all down in a snapping tangle. “It is called sahafit is-shaab.’ another way of communicating the stress of suppression. street slicing right through the housing area. Her “He lost his last job when a long curfew was imposed and the roads were closed.” “We are visiting Amira. If he comes home in time it will be possible to speak with him. and cars were oppressive and jerry-built.” They entered the house through a narrow and dark makeshift vestibule with another door at the end. the house was cut in half for the Sharon Street. too.” Karima said. “For you this will be of interest.133 in the square while nearby a contemporary mosque. imprisoned people. This was to protect the .Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. “Yes. The electrical wiring overhead appeared equally haphazard and fraught with danger. horses. a lot of shootings.” They drove through the town to a cinder block house which looked as though half of it had been cut away. flaunted an illegal Palestinian flag.” Katharine said softly. throwing up mud from the recent rains and plowing through open sewage. They tore apart houses. ‘popular journalism.000 people looked Donkeys. Omar.. staring through the window at the heavily marked side of a building. the Palestinian fighters. has been out looking for work.

” . “I should not drink when you cannot.” Karima said as they entered Amira’s house. which she could not herself drink. Fasting is difficult under these circumstances. Karima explained. “We do not expect this Please drink. “Our home was invaded last night. “We are not in the best of humor today. pointing to her staring child.” They sat on large cushions placed on a cold tile floor in a barren square room painted soft blue with a white ceiling. Katharine had already noticed that the windows facing the street were sandbagged. She wore a long-sleeved. “Sometimes they get on the roofs of our houses to watch us and shoot at rock throwers.” Amira said. Palestinian camps were subject to entry and search at any time by the IDF.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” Amira said. She had heard that Israeli settlers sandbagged the windows of exposed houses in their settlements to protect them from Palestinian snipers. Laila.” Katharine said. “I have neither husband nor children. delicately flowered blue blouse and a long black skirt which was being clutched by a dark-eyed. Katharine said. Generally. plump Amira’s shy eyes flashed out from a round face surrounded by the thin cloth of her white hijab. You have “Where is your husband. waving her hands.134 entrance from Israeli tear gas canisters.. very curious little girl.” “Thank you for letting me come into your home. “Your daughter.your children? pictures?” Amira asked with smiling curiosity. the settlements were The houses in the walled in and guarded by Israeli soldiers. Amira brought a tray with tea in small glasses.. “Laila.” Karima translated for Amira. It is not your way. of you.” “No. is a very pretty little girl. When she was introduced. but I must not complain.

had met with no success. a different way of living a life.. I’ve chosen this way of life. sundown. her withheld emotions rose to the surface and spilled out in a rapid and lengthy harangue of frustration and anger. worry that the fright will damage them. what I do. Omar. but after a period of brief responses to politely orchestrated questions and short voluntary comments of her own. her children. the husband.” They talked on. Just before His attempts to find work The dark eyes set deep in shadowed . returned.” “Not so sad for me. I My What is their future? In the middle of the night they might burst into our home again and line us up for questions. even one of my gold bracelets. children are so frightened whenever they hear a strange sound. I like It’s a different point of view. Amira. to have food.135 “This is very sad for you. looking for. her home. Gradually.. sweet water. Katharine with her tape recorder now readily approved and her note pad scribbled full of descriptive passages of Amira. muddy edges of the cracked sidewalks. ahead of us it is hardly a thought. because the new settlements have used so much water that only a few wells still have maaya helwa. is like to live this way. “When my husband lost his job because of the curfew and the closed roads. we had to sell some of our possessions.this after the soldiers have come into our home. None of us sleep very well. she began to open up. You cannot imagine what it Our water tastes of salt from sea water. her ravaged neighborhood with its sewage perpetually trickling down the sandy. Most of the time we have no idea who they are A free state.” At first Amira was hesitant to speak when Katharine asked to hear an account of her existence.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . that is so far affairs that is hardly a dream anymore. to be left alone and manage our own Oh. like criminals.

a country for my people that is free. a good life for my family. There is nothing Her dreams are stronger than even her These young rock throwers. Katharine glanced at the cold tile floors and wondered if the bare feet were a habit or a necessity. “My mother wears the key of her former house on a cord around her neck. for them to do. gone. but she will not give up the key. swathed in a long black kaftan from which her bare feet protruded. yet he accepted Katharine’s role of journalist and even smiled..killing us. Omar said.. “This is a sorry place for the young men. I do not I want a job.now a new Israeli settlement of fine houses lives there. With his tall figure gaunt and stooped by fatigue and his hair already thinning. How else can they retaliate for this hopelessness? What can they do? “I myself do not want Palestinian terrorists. shuffled quietly into the room to welcome her son. and directed his words to Ahmad. According to Ahmad’s translation. his smile seemed to Katharine a monumental effort.. is like a talisman for a dream that can bear no fruit.no hope for them.136 wells of a haggard face flashed with anger as he explained his humiliating plight. get into trouble because they are always angry and restless. day she had to close the door of our home forever. the shabab. as he welcomed her into his home. want Israeli soldiers in my life. of speaking to any woman in this manner. He was unused to speaking to a strange woman.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. displaying teeth in need of dental work. Write that down for the world to read. children’s. Hanan. . Her wrinkled face beamed from behind Her full figure was her black scarf at the sight of her son.. Omar’s soft-spoken mother.. the door and carried away the key. It One evil She locked The house of the key is The village of the house of the key is gone.

” Omar said.” Karima said and explained her words to Katharine. Amira’s oldest girl. shyly spread out the covers. but she understood the necessary socializing. “One day you will have children and they will be in a free place. Insha’allah. of hungry mouths to feed. There were fluffy almond-studded rice and mounds of a minuscule dried fish. and the cucumbers. drank apple juice. Omar’s mother. happy to be eating. This was the fast-breaking dinner. surrounding faces. the pleasure of the meal. She chewed slowly and looked at the They were smiling. olives. We will share some of the food with you that we were going to eat.” Katharine answered with a look which she hoped said This is who I am. Young Aysha They tended the flat bread warming on the charcoal brazier. which Ahmad had brought from the van along with the containers of the very small fish. added.” he Soon the sun would be setting. whose name was Aysha. a pot of jam. Please accept me this way. the top one a sort of oil cloth upon which the food was laid. and beans stirred with olive oil and thyme. cucumbers. entered the room with a bowl of humus and knelt to set it on the cloth.137 “Do you have children?” “No. and Amira asked. and they gathered around the meal. “Thank you. the bottom one the fiber matt floor covering. making jokes she couldn’t understand. God’s will.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . the “Ask the same for us. tomatoes. Katharine broke her warm bread and dipped it into the humus as the others were doing. sitting on foam cushions as Karima and Amira arranged the food. “Will you stay for iftar with us. and there were a number Katharine considered whether it was She glanced at Karima. unkind to accept or rude to decline. Hanan. and was content . call to prayer. Several layers of covering were placed across the floor. They heard the athaan.

138 to watch and listen to the chattering. melodic sounds of spirited voices. was granted. Ahmad’s cellular phone rang. Amira with the baby boy. He stood up and raised his hands for silence. Katharine asked Ahmad to ask Omar if she might be permitted to photograph the family as they sat at their meal. English to Karima and Katharine. and then she heard a loud explosion which shook the room. his black-haired head bobbing as he chewed and grinned. smiling serenely. Heavy explosives. in itself. on her lap being fed. The request She tried to frame The wiggling her photograph carefully. Can you hear it?” he said in “Only a mile and a half away.. Atif. Now we’re in for it. She bit into a crisp fresh cucumber and smiled How at Hanan who nodded at her and returned her smile. mischievous Aysha teasing her younger sister. At the finish of the meal. We won’t get out of here tonight. They say a jeep was stoned and two soldiers run off the road. My God. simply happy to be eating together. Amal.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Only Hanan looked at the camera. children.the shabab. With the phone The entirety of it was a story up to his ear. “What?” Katharine asked. Ahmad’s lanky torso rested back on his elbow. one killed. Karima was talking softly to Amira. they reclined on their cushions drinking mint tea. amazingly cheerful they all looked. Such a pose Katharine could not allow to slip away and was quite satisfied as her shutter clicked several times. stoned or shot. and Omar frowning and reaching for bread. his face grew serious and he shook his head and exclaimed softly. but all was motion. and she reached for her purse. “That’s an antitank missile. perhaps for a moment forgetting their great misfortune.. They will be finishing off the houses of the suspected shabab in the morning with their .

“There are some blankets in the van. It was just after four o’clock. was cold and hard. She sat up as Hanan placed a The old woman’s shrouded glass of cardamom coffee in her hand. wishing for the release of sleep but instead contemplating this life and her own. a ‘martyr house. ‘the situation.139 dynamite and bulldozers.’ what we must live with. only her shoes removed.’ “As you see. Lights flashed in her eyes. war. it is really halat harb. never comfortable. house will be beit shaheed. refugee-UNRWA liaisons. Katharine wobbled across last them through the day. but they monitored human rights. RAOs were European or North American contractors. Amal. Their mother moved over to comfort them. As the house shook again in a loud and threatening boom of sound. Listen to that artillery. every Maybe every house Children are martyrs now. a Refugee Affairs Officer.” “You must stay here. This is what I mean when I say nothing He had been speaking is certain. green in the fluorescent lamp. She awoke with the sudden stirring of the others. The floor She turned back and forth fully clothed. a ‘state of Before wadd’a is over. crying. They must eat before sunrise.” he directed at Katharine. It was time for suhur. face looked bone tired and slightly grotesque.” angrily excited Ahmad said with a dramatic gesture for Katharine. young Aysha and her little sister.” Karima said. her blanket thin.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . pulling futilely at her cover. as she went on explaining to Katharine what they would do. A child was At last she fell asleep. . the meal that would Stuporous.’ will be knocked down. with an RAO friend on his phone. She slept in a roomful of women and children. huddled together in tears.” Omar told Ahmad. her damp body still pulsing in the throes of fear and erotic desire. but dreamed that Lan was making fierce love to her in a long half-water-filled kayak as it sank. “This is el wadd’a.

spurred on by the nervous idea of how swiftly she might be swallowed up if she stayed. talk to Amira and Hanan. some strength of will. avoided the beans but ate a hard-boiled egg. “Just as well. She had managed to get herself away. awake and thinking again.” Karima answered.” “Where are Ahmad and Omar?” “They have gone to a neighbor who needed help with a broken door. children whimpered and gurgled in complaint. When she awoke the other blankets were put away. was.” “I wish I’d brought my laptop. be leaving today. yet. idea of Mary as her adoptive mother. no victory at all.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . security. “Why did you let me sleep?” She was wriggling into her shoes. just as careless children live in the present with no thought of ensuing dark days. a self-inflicted sort of wound. so incisive. Karima handed her a glass of very strong cardamom coffee.and so completely in love with Lan but unable to imagine any sort of future.. and Amira and her daughter were mopping the floors. her escape felt like.. slumped down with the silent family and fed flat bread and jam into her mouth between sips of coffee. then She had wishfully entertained the Now she was fully those of Mary. How long would Lachlan Manutane invade her waking and sleeping dreams? She pondered his perceptive observations... devotion.. What a child she now saw herself in this matter..140 the floor. and were at once greedily asleep. callow in her yearning. wrapping themselves in their blankets. We may not “It is good. She The groggy Then they all returned to their floor mats. that involved some projection of thought. but I can watch the household. as if Mary were simply waiting for her to come along in order to dispense that longed for maternal tenacity. and Katharine said.write some .with your help.

Upon graduation and after their marriage. nothing is ever certain. she talked to Katharine with Karima’s help. which they were able to attend with part-time jobs and the help of their families. If With wadd’a. holding his squirming little body on her lap. it was They were able to employ more and more Then they had to lay off half their workers due to an .Careless Child Karlene Kubat . The women are baking bread and cakes. but she had existed under far worse conditions in more immediate war zones. It was the amazing endurance of the family that she found so uplifting. Later. Katharine learned that Amira actually spoke some Amira English but was shy about using it before a journalist. watching the women and girls who were presently making Ramadan atayif. fried and heavily soaked in honey.” Her teeth felt furry and her clothes needed changing. Omar had enlisted the help of both their families to start a door manufacturing business in Gaza.” “There is much to write.” “Then I’ll just watch. and the indulgent and kindly way her inconvenient appearance was accepted into the flow of things. Amira said. “Now we are preparing for eid al fitr celebration. Katharine had done only minimal ablutions in the crowded household. workers. The water was indeed Insha’allah. is there not?” Karima remarked.” Katharine leaned against the wall.141 things. doing quite well. the end of Ramadan in two days. while Amira was feeding baby Atif. pancakes filled with ground nuts. nothing else happens. had met Omar at the West Bank Birzeit University. I am afraid they will not have much time to talk to you. Karima said. Wishing to be unobtrusive. “Ahmad has been talking to his RAO friend and thinks that tomorrow we may get you back to Jerusalem. unpleasantly salty. At first.

142 Israeli licensing restriction which allowed businesses no more than ten employees. curfews and road closures. “I guess that’s what I’m saying. half in English. too. “You are not the first to say so.” Katharine answered.. have done this when they want to find someone. He stared at Katharine with a look of surprise then a grimace. “My uncle. He is very. Omar’s employees all found themselves jobless. failed after a long curfew which prevented Omar from going out. Now he was daily searching for work. Katharine said. . Katharine looked at Amira’s hand.” Katharine said.” An elderly bearded man clothed in a long cream jalabeeya and wearing a taghiya or skullcap atop his gray head suddenly entered the room. Ibrahim. and Omar had to That job.” Amira said.” Karima said.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Patting this frantic hand then offering a quick grasp. Next their supplies were cut off due to The business could not operate.. his tall frame moving with a stumbling forward tilt. “Why would he think that?” “They have posed as journalists to catch people.” “Disturbed.depressed and tired. the Israeli domestic intelligence. this has gone on? Do you not know how long We are tired of it.how do you say? He comes Yes.. half in Arabic. quickly take a job as a gardener in a settlement. “Uncle Ibrahim stays with us from time to time.. hope?” Amira said. retreating to another room where the men often met to talk. which was stroking nervously over little Atif’s body as she spoke. they “He has the suspicion. Amira’s eyes were moist as she told her story.. Perhaps he thinks you are Shin Bet. “Things will improve. and goes.. I know they will because they must.” “Are you now to tell me I must have amal. He is very.” “Ah.

. road because of rocks.perhaps he throws some rocks -.. not the path to freedom.restless man..is sometimes going to other relatives. peace. I do not think the boy is so bad. Punishment is not the answer. “Leave us to have a country of . and for this the IDF knocks down Uncle Ibrahim’s house. I play in this beautiful place with “Once he has orchards.what we do not have. rows of He loves.but I myself can only tell your story... He cannot stay in one place. His good mind is not good anymore. “What I have seen are not This all must stop.. past the cacti and the orange groves and the settlements. how can it be right to We punish the grandfather because the boy is living there? cannot punish the families of those who steal our land. you know.. our dreams.143 “Yes. through the nerve-wracking checkpoints and up into the Judean I want rights for Palestinians. thanking Allah for this life.. tend these trees. Who is punished for this?” “Oh. very disturbed man..loved to olive and almond trees. this must stop.” Amira said. evil....” “I do not want to punish. my young sisters.. That is These insane sporadic killings of the blameless on both No sides only create seething hatred. They say a soldier goes off the But even so.. He is always working in his orchards.. Insha’allah. our houses. rewarded. and I will.bulldozes his orchards.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ... but only dead innocents sacrificed for nothing. martyred children. One of his grandsons is sometimes with the shabab.such perfect rows.happy in the blossoms and buzzing bees. I want peace.” Katharine said. Look what we have. For this their families are paid. Amira.the soldiers taunt the young boys. peace or harmony can rest on a foundation so evil.” *** Back through the desert Katharine had finally been driven. other friends..

she faxed her work to the contracting magazine. working long into several nights. you. and their children. The next morning offered the sweet promise of a fresh early spring day. With her usual self-demanding perfectionism. she had promised to return soon. and set out to escape her troubled thoughts by exploring more of Jerusalem before returning to the camps. Omar. with still more heavy uncertainty on the horizon. They must have a better life. to see what hectic life was like with a seven o’clock curfew. she asserted silently as she went inside to read her email. When this routine task was finished she intended to dress and head out to find the appropriate bus for Mount Scopus. When she was reasonably satisfied with the result. and in pursuit of a few more of the thousands of Palestinian stories which existed in the camps. after the Ramadan eid al fitr celebrations. “my tidy She explained to Katharine existence at the center of chaos.” she had told them all. back to Jerusalem to write a portion of her story. As she was perusing her e-mail list a quick gasp escaped her. she sat at the desk which held her computer.” Judith said.” where and when to catch a bus for the following day’s visit. “I’ll show you my office. posted the accompanying photographs. staring thoughtfully off at the Old City and thinking of Amira.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .144 Hills. writing and rewriting until she had included and excluded all that was necessary to make a moving and flowing story of fact. She had been allowed to photograph quite a bit more than she had anticipated.” “Salamtak. Blood pulsed into her temples. Four days after she had finished her current story. Judith left a phone message. “Health be with Finding difficulty in saying good-bye. Another message from Green . instructing her to catch a bus to Mount Scopus and meet her in the cafeteria of Hebrew University for a chatty lunch. Katharine stretched on her veranda with her coffee in hand.

Tell me to my face. you. if not in anger then in disgust. but there was nothing more she could say. Lan. Katharine had walked a few blocks when she saw a bus pulling up to the shelter. she clutched her purse and began to run. “Forgiving is easy. at the same moment she thought this. going to make it. no longer existed.” the initial paralyzing calm after a deep wound. blue silk blouse. the spring trees. she thought as she listlessly put on her tan slacks. here and tell me to forget. Or was it her own body spinning. Certain it was the one she needed to Ah. her own body being pushed along by the force of some hard object. tumbling.” Indeed she was in pain. She sorely needed warm and understanding conversation with an old friend. trepidation she opened the message and read. this. then a wall of blackness. then a searing red flash of pain. flying. Then. Her troubled response to his earlier message had made her assume that Lan would finally give up on her. *** There were short spans of sudden consciousness. Don’t be a hypocrite in this. crashing into the earth? There was an instant of stillness. as such. Nothing. doing what you do. The world spun around. but I’ll forget when you do. but even then all was blackness. Kate. Lan had said it all. I love you. I know you have courage. All in an instant the bus. the pink limestone buildings all askew and spinning. she was catch. Come back With much A writer who can’t finish her sentences is in pain. the blue sky.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . the moment the Arabs call sargat el sikineh. and cream linen jacket for a lunch that she hoped would not be difficult. “knife shock.145 Braes when she thought they had ended. In those times she thought herself . a coward in Where are you? I worry about Please come back. there was a concussive explosion of sound so loud her ears captured only the first half.

. heavily accented voice asked. I’m sure.. We were certain you would not see at present..I don’t remember anything. He had told her there were sharks.I’m.” I don’t remember...” You It’s When was it broken? “Two weeks ago there was a bomb explosion in a bus.can’t. “Are..” You have been unconscious from a “Quite a normal reaction.” “Calmly..I’m Katharine.... Because you are awake . The swelling of your We believe...” “But I. Can you tell me your name?” “My.. I. and we will talk to you a little at a time..see.. hurting quite a bit.. You are doing Try to “No.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..” “There’s something. or you would be full of shrapnel. hope that is why you cannot see.” “But I.we brain has caused pressure on your optic nerves... were nearby and sustained some injuries. and she thought that she had opened her eyes.. Where am I?” The strange male voice said.. you cannot.flying debris..” Very good. but you were hit in the head.are my eyes open?” “Yes.wait a minute. Miss Gordon. “When? It was broken in two places.. She coughed and said in a rasping voice...am I blind then? Oh.please try to stay calm. “You are at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.Katharine Gordon.. She called and called until she felt herself sinking back into timeless nothingness without even comprehension of blackness. Surely he would come. God..146 fallen into the water in complete darkness and called for Lan.I could always see. well.” “Yes.something wrong with my leg.two weeks ago? But I. You were somewhat shielded by a large section of the displaced shelter. “Are you fully awake now?” an unknown. concussion... stay calm..” “Two.

but . that’s good. I last saw her at the King David Hotel. Judith. She is quite anxious to see you. too.” “I can’t see the daisies. and a member of the staff will come and get you. How stupid.very good. I might be dead.147 now. but only for a few minutes a little later. Katharine.. Katharine.I last saw her.oh. “How have I been?” How have you been?” “Well. were here.” Judith said as she entered Katharine’s room. was here you could hardly talk.and where I’ve been.” “Katharine. please... brought something that smells good...Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. good. I’m glad to see you looking better.” Last time I You should have “I was only teasing. Lying Karima and Ahmad They had to undergo interrogation to get through a I wouldn’t expect them to come again. think daisies are cheerful.. The “I’m sorry. around on pain killers. I swore.” “Who?” “Judith Stein.. you know how I’ve been.you have a visitor.or you. Now just wait a few minutes..” “Yes...in college together.” When did you last see her?” Katharine’s brain was roiling.your friend.” The explosion killed and maimed--” It’s so horrible. Then perhaps.swore I would not say anything..” “I’m sorry.were..Stein? “Yes. incredible tragedy of these times.... Katharine. I didn’t think..” “Judith. “Yes. blinder than a bat... Someone can put them in a vase. roadblock. We.. someone who has been waiting to see you. we want to do a few tests. “I last saw her.. “I My God..” *** “Daisies. her thoughts clouded with areas of darkness as she struggled to recall.

angered so many.” “And. they’re watching my eyes.. they .. “The doctors say I’m young enough for my leg to mend fairly rapidly.148 now perhaps.” “What are you going to do. I hold the same convictions. indifferent world must bear some of the blame. Katharine? How can I help you?” I want it to see I’m too tired.perhaps you understand. probably they wouldn’t hurt you. in considering the world situation.they were horrified.” “The freedoms of America are priceless. He said. aren’t terrorists.” “Well.” “No. Frenchified use of English conveyed so much. my dear friend. the swelling goes down. Oh.. they let their young people do it.the very way it perpetuates itself -. that others need. You have changed your opinion maybe a little about Palestinians?” “Absolutely not.it has reached the limits of its existence. strongly than ever.the irritation heals. he told a meeting of capitalists in New York city: ‘When you are powerful like you guys is the time to be nice.. For that.” Most of “No. I’ll be on crutches for a Therapy. but us. The prognosis isn’t too bad... them condone what is done. Judith..’ I like the way his simple..” “The people I met wouldn’t have done this to anyone.. I’m sure. I guess.. Judith. condone the suicide of their children.not anyone..” “Judith. you have had plenty of time to think.. And When while. They’ve called me. more The They I’ve had plenty of time to think. its leaders and the affluent... haven’t you?” “Recently I heard Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chretien on the news. when a civilization is driven to sacrifice its children -. I can’t do this. people I met in Khan Yunis would never have done this.have to hang around here for a month. which they call martyrdom.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Clean breaks.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 149 think...well, they think it will be awhile before I can see anything. Doctor Berg says it might happen suddenly somewhere

down the road.” “You’ve handled this with such stoicism. have done as well.” “Oh, Judith, I think I almost expect misfortune -- one of the perks of my rather strange childhood.” “We have excellent doctors here.” “Yes, you do, you do...really good doctors. grateful to them. this.” “Katharine, I...oh God. I asked you to take that bus.” A lot of people were on the I feel very I’m not sure I’d

I suppose they’re getting quite good at

“Don’t start that, please. bus. I wasn’t.

I’m one of the few alive.”

“One of your nurses, Rachel, asked me to ask you something personal,” Judith said, quickly changing the subject. “What?” Katharine asked without much interest, sighing and leaning back on her pillows. “She wanted to know who Lan is. they should be getting in touch with.” “What? How do they know of him?” I mean, if he is someone

“Apparently...every once in a while when your brain turned itself on, you called out his name.” “I don’t remember doing it.” “Probably not.” “No, there’s no one I want contacted. But you could bring I

me my laptop and help me read my e-mail, when you have time. know you’re busy.” “Of course, I will do that. Are you crying?”

“I’m really emotional right now...embarrassingly so. little thing sets me off.

Every

The doctors have told me it’s very

common with head injuries, so just ignore it.”

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 150 “I’m quite familiar with that malady, Katharine. I treat

people with the same problem...so if you...if you want to talk, feel free. It might help you. I would like to do that.” You know, right I haven’t

“Thank you, Judith.

You’re a good friend.

now I wish you’d just tell me something funny. laughed in a long, long time.” “Something funny... asked me to marry him.” “That’s funny? Yes...all right.

My friend, Jacob,

Oh my God, Judith, that’s not funny!”

“Then why are you laughing?” “Because you said it was funny...that’s funny -- the idea that you would say it was funny.” “Well, it’s funny to me. He lives with his mother. I have I could

no wish to be a mother to a grown man, not that mother. never live up to it. mother is like?” “No. Tell me. Maybe it’ll make me laugh.” ***

Do you know what a traditional Jewish

Katharine struggled minute by minute in her new world of darkness, gradually noticing that her hearing was improving -readily detecting intricate subtleties of sound she had never before attended or cared about: a sigh, the slight creek of a door, the distant hum of a machine, a soft gasp, a clicking tongue, rolling wheels, a rustle of starched cloth, tiptoeing feet. The nights were difficult, less activity, more silence.

She could feel the dreaded nights approaching, settling over her, even without the more obvious signals of mitigated staff activities and mentally logged in evening routine. Judith had brought her laptop and gone over her e-mail with her. There were no more messages from Green Braes, and she One afternoon following

found this both a relief and a sorrow.

a particulary vigorous therapy session, she developed a

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 151 nauseating headache. This condition briefly summoned her first

meeting with Lan, and for a few moments she swam above the pain, almost smiling. His concern over her migraine that day in She relived every It

Auckland seemed to her now even more tender.

small effort of assistance, now magnified a thousand fold.

was this wretched new surfeit of emotion taking control, she told herself. Soon thereafter, she called a nurse and was given “What about the pain

an injection for her throbbing head.

here...can you do something about that?” she muttered half coherently to the oblivious departing nurse. clutching her chest. “Oh God, how I wish I were back in Khan Yunis doing my work,” she complained to Judith in the following week. “I do not understand that wish at all.” “Something draws me there...to that sharp edge of life where the mundane lies always just beneath the specter of death. Then death comes...suddenly...over and over again to that center of misery the world covers its eyes not to see. The necessity, She fell asleep

the intensity of sharing it, like...like running your finger very slowly over a sharp knife blade, almost getting cut. They

would not understand my eagerness to return to their degrading prison.” “Nor do I. Obviously, you cannot go back there now. What

will you do when you are scuttling about on those crutches? Where will you go? “Scuttling? Home?” Blundering about in the dark is a more And that will be quite a trick.”

accurate description.

“They say you will be able to see.” “So they say.” “Oh, you must plan on it, Katharine.” “Hmm, May in Seattle. bloomed already. The tulips and lilacs will have My grandmother had

But there will be peonies.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 152 an acre of them. extravagance. Great blowsy globes of pink and white

She and I gathered them in thick bunches, and How I

arranged them in shaved wood round baskets for wholesale.

miss the innocence...a lush field of fresh blossoms bobbing in the wind or drooping with beads of spring rain. I can almost

smell that unique peony fragrance in the fresh rain...probably raining in Seattle now. isn’t there any more. about it. I’m ruined. God, I don’t want to go back. There

I’m so restless.

I can’t do very much

Oh damn it, I’m really useless now.” You’re a mass of unstrung You still have to heal...and But...why are you so...so

“No you aren’t, Katharine. activity, temporarily shut down.

not just your body, your mind, too.

closemouthed about personal matters?” “Why are you so curious, Judith?” “I’m simply trying to help. “What good does it do? You understand that?” Hashing over old wounds.”

Really?

“You’ve just discounted my profession.” “Sorry. Can we go over my e-mail now?”

“Of course.” Together they went down the dwindling list of messages. Katharine was in an apathetic mood, expressing a desire to erase unread almost everything. “Here is something from Green Braes. What is that?”

Katharine sat up, rubbing her face in sudden agitation. She dreaded this revelation but had no alternative other than Judith’s help. A crumb to a starving bird was how she thought

of the message itself, and yet she felt herself removed by her condition, as if she were about to weep over an emotional scene in a movie, herself no longer in the picture. “What does it say?” “Katharine, I haven’t heard from you in a long time, and I need to hear. You won’t tell me where you are so, of course, I

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 153 worry. Swear at me. Any bloody thing. Lan.” Surely, you are Please, my ipo, just

answer this communication. “Well.

So, at last the mysterious Lan.

going to answer this.” “No,” Katharine said, groping for her tissues. “What was that he called you?” “Nothing.” “It was not nothing. friend.” “A Maori word. “Maori? It means sweetheart...lover.” Oh, you are so exasperating, my

You mean New Zealand?”

“It’s a beautiful country.” “Exotic, I think. I’ve never been. When were you there?”

“Shortly before I came here.” “Ah, isn’t this where I say, the plot thickens?” “Don’t be cunning with me, Judith...just because you delight in scouring out another’s mind.” “I’ve never heard my work described so. rather adept at that. “This man appears to care for you. “It won’t work. I can’t think why.” You writers are

I’m going to try and rest now, Judith. I’ve really become dependent on you,

Thank you for your help. haven’t I?”

“Not very dependent on me, not you, my friend.” *** One blurry day as uneventful as all other recent days, Katharine was sitting up in bed, listening to the shortwave radio Judith had brought her, when she heard a lusty voice teasing one of the nurses just outside her door. There was a

squeal of female laughter and into the room sailed Cash Taylor. “Hello, duchess. I was in town looking for a roll of film

and thought I’d drop into your temporary digs.”

We weren’t on the Those He hated my guts. I’ve got an idea.. nice.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I made Katharine Gordon laugh. You’ve no idea.for you. “I’m sorry... Cash.” “I’ll smell the carnations. but he was polite You know.. rubbing her eyes.. patrolling I kind of thought he’d be here.” Katharine said. I think I could make you famous with just my macro lens. I’ll come back tomorrow with a whole new bedside manner.beautiful as ever -. “How did you know I was here?” “I’m in the business.the news business. the same old Cash. broken leg and all.” “Same old Katharine. Cash.” Katharine felt the tears sliding down her cheeks.” “I hear they’ll be working eventually.. I came to hold your hand and let you smell these bright red carnations. “Are they treating you okay? Is there anything you need?” “A working pair of eyes would be nice. Did you come to gloat?” “No.” “Stop it. as the British have been known to say: Fucked up more than usual. your bed to keep guys like me away. Then I’ll go away “Yes.” “Ah. Calvin Klein jeans and an old black Armani jacket over a white Burberry shirt.. “What am I wearing? Nike Air.remember?.umm.” “What are you wearing?” Katharine asked. black. “Good God.” Cash said..” .” Come on.. satisfied. eyes are what made that big dark Kiwi letch for you.but the guy was nuts about you.” “Hardly. laugh. “That’ll be a change.” “Sorry.. please. about it. Looks like you’re all FUMTU. same wave length at all.154 “I’m speechless.” “My picture is complete. hugging her.” “I can’t laugh. Those incredible green eyes. art is a color shoot.

song.only somehow. “I’m photographing flying body parts. Margaret in New Zealand.155 “You think that’s all there is?” “No. That’ll put me in dire need of crashing in Kiwi land. promised her nothing. I’d go crazy. The first thing Margaret said after her initial surprise and delight was. “Meanwhile. The doctors told A very mysterious “I’m going to science called wait and see. and damn soon. Little did he know what he was doing to her feeble attempts at establishing equilibrium. and spent part of his visit extolling the beauties of New Zealand. it doesn’t seem quite the thing.” “I’d prescribe some horizontal exercise.” Cash Taylor did return the next afternoon.” *** Katharine was in her hotel room now. “Katharine..” he informed her. Cash. There must be more or you wouldn’t be here.. she asked Judith to get a number from her computer. improved much.” Katharine shook her head. assume it’s just a matter of time. she had told Judith. then filed it away in her head until the appropriate hour. recalling Cash’s tantalizing images of New Zealand and in one of her sudden transitions of mood. she called It was only when she heard herself talking that she knew with certainty what she would do.” One day. her very little. He told her “Maybe some day I’ll sing you a complimentary torch he planned to return there at some future date and travel everywhere photographing everything.” Katharine said with a grin.” “Now that almost makes me laugh. awhile back I thought I caught the . with that cast on.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “Your bedside manner hasn’t Please be careful out there. If I didn’t. hobbling about on crutches and wondering if she would ever see. A day later.

she thought. but could learn nothing. you could?” “Of course. I’ve been thinking a lot I have such good I really love the place. Were ya? I tried to I thought ya might have Are ya?” “Margaret. but I don’t want to say anything much..156 tail end of a news story with your picture attached. Margaret.” “I have just a few requirements. I guess I just couldn’t come. I’ll need to use my laptop. I want to thoroughly immerse myself in that wonderful peaceful atmosphere and. Then I would need someone to . place where you could practically walk in the dark and not get lost..” “Then I suppose I can’t say anything.” “Oh my God. Of course I could only do that if I were sure you wouldn’t tell Lan I was coming.I suppose now I must. where the weather isn’t so bad this time of year. none of that. hear more. memories of it. about New Zealand. Do you promise to be silent?” “Oh bloody-hell. please. He’ll have to find Ya see how much I’d like ya to come?” I don’t want to see anyone at all” -. I have a lot of friends who sometimes let Do you think their vacation cottages.. I.as if I “This is strictly confidential: I was in a could. I was hoping you could find me one of those nice little holiday cottages for rent. maybe in the Bay of Islands or somewhere not too far from Auckland.. of how beautiful it is.the sort of hideaway you call a bach.and get back in shape for my next spate of globetrotting. “Good. If I didn’t have your promise of that.” “Then I’ll trust you..” “No. the sort of door that opens right onto an easy path. ya on his own. The place should have a You know. forgive me please.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. been in the Middle East. except that I want to come to New Zealand. little accident and I need to heal.

my friend. That would be so This all would be so very good of you. “Absolutely. more pork. “I’ll be e-mailing my arrival. Last night I heard a Morepork.157 stop by from time to time with. I like the sound of the rain on this noisy tin roof. here.. and.. supplies and mail.” “I think she’s already a doctor.. “Oh.. Would that be possible?” People are always looking for work around When are ya coming?” I have a few ideas.. Kate.just you. accident. all alone. I’m so well cared for. ‘Are you remembering to take your anti-inflammatory ‘Yes.” Katharine said to Margaret in a testy voice.or is New Zealand just full of Pennies?” “She’s a real brick.knows when to leave me alone.. “I worry about ya here. I haven’t I Ya told me on the phone it was a little Good God. Where did you ever find such a pills?’ she asks me.” that demanding little owl you have. Actually... ya know.. going to make a fine doctor when all those studies are through.and your eyes. and maybe you -.” “I’m bloody sorry. was just so astonished when ya came off that plane. Margaret -good of you. takes over. oh. recovered yet.” She walks right in here and “Penny is doing a great job.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Seattle.” Ignore that remark. This is getting on to our winter.’ I answer like an obedient child. More pork. they’re everywhere. “I might as well be in “Yes. but it is highly unusual to have so much. Kate. I’m glad I’m here.knows when I need . jewel.. I know. I’ve come to love all sounds.who could maybe clean things up a bit.” III “No one told me it could rain like this here. She has that manner about her. could meet me at the airport.

A million Gazans incarcerated in squalor with little hope for much else. it looks as if the situation can only get worse. the moment.. the other half for six thousand walledin settlers. Misery. “Kate. and some writing. It’s a frightening powder keg. Some days I don’t do anything. I like it.. with a lot of pluck. death.still young. lovely. and over sixty percent unemployment... really quite brave.” She didn’t bring up the bizarre things her brain was doing almost nightly. girl. dragging one aching foot over crumbling debris. Angry.” “But he doesn’t even know you’re here.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Is that what you’re writing about?” “Not now. Half of Gaza for the million penned-up Palestinians.. It looks like a very long. I suppose it’s one way of getting over the grief of the Middle East. and destruction. swear a lot. in which she found herself wandering down a street in the Gaza Strip. Perhaps later I’ll write it. I’m writing my way out of something else at I just want to Sorry. Kate. although that’s hard to believe. She would awaken whimpering in the darkness she could not escape. frustrated. Right now.. herself old and in tatters and bleeding.appears to be turning into a novel. As to being alone. don’t go where I think you’re going. Margaret. you’re quite something. but the settlers are free to come and go and living in new homes with lawns and sprinklers. What a I wish--” “Please. crawl away and cover my head. herself a Gaza dweller shuffling through the dust.” “That was so bad. staring down into a pit of black bodies. I can’t. the strange dreams it made her endure.such rotten luck. gloomy. throw things.” “I’m talking about the grief of the Palestinians. It’s all the misery in the world.158 something. I feel helpless in that regard. I’m doing a lot of thinking. and tragic road of depredation for them. and it just kills .

She told herself that if her vision had come this That sudden transition to far it might continue to improve.” Katharine said. She now knew every angle and obstruction in her comfortable nest and could hobble about freely.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . If he finds out. was a mysterious phenomenon she tried neither to dwell upon nor cast aside. “I can make the tea. answer very often. I have suspicions that those eye doctors were being kind. I’m doing my own thing.” “So be it. less frequently.” “What about your leg? I’ll have to become When can you abandon the crutches?” “It was a bad break. It would be a disaster. someone else to live that way. I don’t One day it’ll stop. Look at me..” “Doesn’t he send you e-mail?” “Yes.” “That’s bloody amazing to me. still trying to deal with what that means.” Not at all. as I can. I suppose. Lachlan Manutane’s world.159 me.as well It’s I really and truly do not want anything else.” *** Katharine got out of the car. Penny is taking me in We’ll see. Penny reads it to me. leaning heavily on Penny. “For me it has to be. to see my new doctor next week. the darkness had evolved into light filled with obscure shapes. but clean at least. a tight-fitting little Citroen. . sight. he will kill me. I’ve got to stay off it a while longer. and walked. two fractures. unrecognizable forms and nothing more. Gradually. I’m “I don’t think it’s right. as if she had full command of her sight and not merely the shadowy vision that so limited her world. which her doctors had only suggested. that sort of talk. up to her cozy bach..” I’m not material for Furthermore.” “He doesn’t need to know. enough to know that he’s somewhere getting on with his life.

shoulder and promotes optimism. But my eyes..” “Ah. at least my cast is off.” I believe optimism is essential for .” “And you’re wearing denim. I would say you are a tawny blond. shoulder length.. and a small mole on my left cheek.I felt your arm -.. I have pale blue eyes and freckles across a rather What color is your hair? It’s I’ve never Now tell me more about yourself.. a doctor’s hands.” “He’s right in that. sipping her tea and rattling her cup.” “I hope so. tried to do it.” Penny’s eager...and probably denim jeans. I live in it.. When they were sitting in the small kitchen nook sipping their Earl Grey.” “I’m a bit taller.the narrow nose. “Yeah.” “Describing myself that way is rather strange. fingers. way you look.. you see I would never use the word dirty.” They sat for a moment in silence.” “Well. My mother used to call them piano hands.. Katharine said.your height is?” “I’m five feet four inches.. Now I know you have long.the He pats me on the Katharine heard Penny ophthalmologist didn’t tell me much as usual.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “Well..a sort of dirty blond. Hospital wear will be quite an adjustment.. agile she’s switched to calling them a surgeon’s.160 “Let me do it. Penny. Good old denim.” “Right.easier for a writer. any cure. as long as I’m here.at least a jacket of it -. not for you. isn’t it?” “Yeah. try.” “Now you’re getting it. “I’ve painted you from your voice and manner. takecharge voice insisted.

We pretty well know who we We don’t are. I have a terrible and constant fear of hitting the wrong key and creating a volume of gibberish.medical.or.. life to go..” Katharine gave a sardonic laugh.just let the rest . Penny? “How do you expect your Are you going to be a strictly professional person with little time for a private life.. then.. of course not. worry about it.try to cheer myself up singing old songs...” “Good on ya. admire you. Maybe later..” “So.. A private life still scares me. children and all the trimmings?” “Yeah.” “I didn’t know.. your assurance. and you I’m going to marry Neville.161 “I’ve never been a very patient person. I mean. I don’t have time to read Your writing has a much else that isn’t technical. no.all that. my aren’t wearing a ring. and the babies will just have to fit in somehow..” “God.quite well established there. lot of wisdom....” “I’m enjoying it..simply press on with our goals and let the rest happen. Quite good. I really Maybe because I’ve done so poorly at the little I’ve had of one. That ought to be your anchor.or what?” “Oh.” “You don’t know how much I appreciate your willingness to give my writing a brief check.” “Really? Could be that ya worry about it too much.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ... but I’m certainly working at it. You’ve hardly spoken of him.. Maybe Ya ya ought to just let it happen.” “Yeah. We skipped that. don’t dwell on it.guess you’ve had heaps of experiences that are useful in your personal life. We’ll both be doctors. you’re relaxed about the way that works. fiancé. do know you’re very good at what you’ve been doing. I rather think..

a few startling notes from the lyrical repertoire of the Tui. a white-tufted throat.162 happen. She listened to bird calls. I’ll scribble it down then I’ll be on my way.” The writing was leading into a mental labyrinth of intricate paths that kept her exploring deeply. heavy studying ahead. “Well. and the late sun welcome. when Katharine had slowly made her way over the path to her outdoor lounging chair and sat warming in the afternoon sun. lapping at the beach sands below were soothing.’ and gorgeous feather vanes that were rather dark and tipped with stunning blue. Returning down the shell path. she banged the foot of her good leg on an unfamiliar rock at the edge of the path.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . setting was breathtaking. Northland beauty. table and cried with great bawling sobs. “Cheerio. cleaned up the cup shards that lay scattered around the floor. Once inside. she considered Penny’s very together attitude.” I’ve got hours of Later. She tried to recall how a Tui looked: a dark head with a curved beak. It must have been quite a happy and secure one. See ya in a couple of days. The wavelets She knew her Margaret and Penny both praised this She longed to see it. which gave it its common name of ‘parson bird. thinking hard . dropping her crutch and fumbling for it with difficulty. Recite that list one more time. then left with her usual upbeat. I’d better dash over to Russell and snatch your mail and some groceries. The air was coolish. let it out? No one could hear her. making a mental note to ask her about her childhood at some leisurely moment. into it. made Katharine a tuna sandwich and brought it to her at her computer. That’s the way I do it. Penny returned. almost stumbling. she broke a tea cup which had just She groped her way to the kitchen Why not throw herself missed reaching the counter.

voices. a man and a woman. the birds. Lachlan My sister and I were just going fishing. Manutane. for it was a tempting visual paradise. Without it she might have gone mad. the rugged furniture with durable. “Kia ora. and I I remembered that I have a fly kit locked in the closet here. She liked the way things were unobtrusively placed in the bach. She listened to see if she could determine who it She heard two low The car doors slammed. Her eyes were closed. Along with the heater. and. was. New Zealand was not a country to visit without vision. When the weather permitted she walked to the foot of the path where her chair was firmly planted. Napping one day in her chair. Still. the buzzing insects. I’m the owner. Unless one was long inured to blindness. she was awakened by the sound of a car. “Sorry to disturb ya. the breezes. she could easily hear Margaret’s or Penny’s car arriving on the gravel road at the other side of the cottage. breathing deeply and listening to the water..163 and focused. she was glad for her cozy cave and her world of writing.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . They knocked first on the front door and then came around the walk to the back. heavier doors. Sometimes she lay on it imagining it was from the Green Braes plains. Out there. and dozed off thinking of Lan. her head turned . sat down on the foot rest and placed her crutches on the ground then swung her body around and lay back.. suppose you’ve discovered the locked closet. Bloody-hell! My God. thick-woven upholstery positioned around a huge circle of sheepskin thrown over the floor. Katharine? I’ll just duck in Kate?” Katharine’s hands were gripping the chair arms so tightly her fingers were numb.” a familiar sounding male voice called as they approached. the soft satiny fibers of thick wool so luxurious brushing over her skin. there was a stone fireplace which she was afraid to use for fear she would burn the place down.

I can’t believe you’ve come.just get your fly kit and go. Please. I’ll She’s angry enough. her heart slamming into the pained walls of her chest. left it to chance. Kate. Oh. the bitch is living in our bach. Just.I can’t. have ya been hurt?” “An accident. almost more than she could bear. I wanted to know. Don’t be mad at her. Please talk to me. “Leave me alone. saw ya. “God. His dark shape loomed before her. “It’s all right. ya will not. her whole body trembling in shock and the agony of what was to come. Please don’t keep Rani waiting out there.” she heard Rani exclaim. loyal to us both. emotions boiling over. Believe me. thank you... here. “I had no idea.” Rani’s crunching footsteps receded on the shell path.” He lifted her hand in his and she snatched it back and turned her face away. “One more word out of ya Go back to the Rover and stay there. what are ya doing “What are these crutches? here? My God. Rani. Just go.” She wanted to get away and envisioned herself hobbling off . Margaret.” Her head was beginning to throb. So she did it this way.” “No. Oh. She was trying to be I told her that if she heard from ya.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She wanted to run screaming into the sea rather than be forced to sit there exposed. opened her eyes and turned toward Lan’s voice.. be out of here by tomorrow evening.. Tell me what’s happened to ya.164 out toward the sound of the waves. astonished. sat forward. and you’ll be walking. Katharine swallowed slowly. “Oh. I didn’t know. and her body trembling. that you’re I’m just so bloody I nearly lost it when I saw ya.” she cried out with a miserable voice.” Lan exploded. I can’t. “Shut up.

unable to reach them.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Kate... She felt his hand under her chin. not your eyes. Then she felt his hands sliding around her. his chin sliding over her hair.165 on her crutches in the wrong direction. lifting her up against him. so foolish.” “Rani’s in the--” “I bloody well know where Rani is and I don’t give a fucking damn. She then realized it was . Gradually.. “Sorry. after some minutes of uncontrollable shaking. “I wish you hadn’t. She drew her The utter silence of the next moment terrified her more than anything that had happened so far. When she first identified his voice.” I’m not going to cry. fumbling on in a clumsy.they were here somewhere. I can walk with my. hand back quickly and held it against her mouth.” she said. Lan. “What are you. and now she groped beside her chair for them. she had tried to push the crutches away with her hand..my eyes will improve and--” “Don’t do that. his adamant hands burning through her clothes..” she muttered. her head up.. won’t cry. his breathing near her ear. apologetic voice. ridiculous. Don’t apologize. “Where are my. She turned away and bit her lip. find them. Christ. She desperately needed to get up and walk. turning further away from his shadowy form. I “My God. her body began to relax and grow still. and he was walking with her back up the path.” He continued to hold her against him in silence.. dropping down beside her and holding her against him in silence..” He carried her inside and settled her on the sheepskin rug. She listened to his sigh.. not my green eyes. I don’t want to talk for a while. her eyes. It kills me. running her searching fingers over the broken shells beside her chair.. turning The silence went on and on as she tried to focus She could hear the sharp intake of air in his throat.

.a bit thinner. Why didn’t ya let me know?” Apparently.. Really. Lan?” “Time will heal your pain.a few strange aches. She saw how deep his commiseration went when his voice intoned something low and soft in Maori against her ear.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “I was unconscious for a couple of weeks.. His mouth was against It felt as if he were reading her mind. uncertain.” “I’ll take ya to doctors in Sydney. I would “I see only Kate.. anymore.far too emotional.” “And seen this?” Christ. her hair. “What happened. Kate?” “I was near a bus that blew up in Jerusalem. her vacant eyes away from his. rejoined the living.. I’m tired of doctors.my same Kate. Why don’t they work?” I see “The concussion.perfect green eyes..sort of..... been calling your name. down against his shirt. almost like an incantation: “Ma te wa e whakaora to mamae.” “In which place?” ..” “No.in a manner of speaking.a little spacey sometimes..” “What. but the scent that was Lan made her almost dizzy. It was supposed to diminish but I’m not so sure I’m taking anti-inflammatory pills.. a nurse wanted to know who Lan was... Apparently.” She kept her head Her voice was light and soft. green eyes. effect. I did When I I’d try to let you know..166 that stillness for which he had been waiting.swelling in my brain and pressure on the optic nerves.. I’m working.” “Jesus Christ..” “Then why didn’t ya tell them to call me? have come. They said I was agitated from time to time.. I seem to be writing a novel. or at least The silent holding of her had a calming her nervous feelings. I don’t remember doing it. I’m all right..

She screamed it at me one night after ya left and I’d been refusing to talk to her.” “I’ve ruined your fishing trip. Katharine. succinctly. the door opened and Rani entered the room. I’ll see she apologizes. .” Katharine reminded him. you please find my crutches on your way?” She crawled across the rug and pulled herself up onto the couch. She finally told me the She knows the way home.167 “All places. helping Mary. back.” “Hello. After several minutes. she roused herself to face the here and now. straightening her hair and waiting for the next scene in this sudden surreal drama. I’ll be back in a minute.” After a while. thoughtless and I ought not to’ave said it. I’ll come straight truth: that the father of the child is some wanker she hates. followed by Lan. please. or I thought she was until a few minutes ago. care of the child.” “She’s a very young twenty-two.” Rani “It was stupid and “Could offered in a quick rush of words.” “I’m not going anywhere. Rani.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . just leave her alone.” “Yeah.” Katharine said rather She didn’t know what else to say.” “My fishing trip was a reward for Rani’s good behavior.” It doesn’t matter. “Hello. she is. or three.” “No. I’m sorry I said what I did. She will apologize. Stay here. I’m still taking “Lan.” “I’m taking Rani back to Russell where she can catch the Paihia ferry. but she’s growing up. Apology accepted. “You can’t just leave Rani sitting in the Rover. She’s been making amends. knowing Rani She had a few times felt probably didn’t want to hear any more.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 168 like slapping Rani soundly, but now she felt consoling. Folding

her hands on her lap, she tried to offer a comforting smile. “I’m sorry to hear of your horrid accident and I hope ya enjoy the bach,” Rani finished, retreating back through the door. “Your crutches are here, against the arm of the couch,” Lan carefully explained. “Thank you. You don’t have to come back. It’s...I think

it must be getting late,” Katharine said in nervous uncertainty. “My God, Katharine, will ya stop this...this damned niceness. Do ya really think I wouldn’t come back?”

He sat down beside her, massaging those evocative fingers over her taut back, striving to keep her calm, to relieve her tenuous struggle for restraint, surely so obvious. “I’m sorry, Kate, sorry...but for Christ’s sake, tell me the truth for a change.” “Oh, yes, the truth,” she said, trying to smile. truth,” she repeated, sighing. “The

“All right...if you don’t come

back, I’ll...I’ll walk into the sea...without my crutches.” “Ya won’t even have to walk across the room.” His mouth “Not

touched the back of her neck, causing shivers of joy. going to kiss ya properly now...couldn’t stop. both awake in the meantime. nap.”

That’ll keep us

On second thought, better take a

She heard the door close and gave a long sigh and a jittery laugh, wiping at her wet cheeks. grateful, or is it all love? Why, oh why do I feel so

This damned emotion. ***

Lan was building a fire, crumpling old newspapers from the wood box and carrying in chunks of wood from a pile which existed somewhere outside. “I have a short maze I run, like a wary little mouse,” she

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 169 said. “I didn’t know there was wood, but I wouldn’t have built

a fire anyway, because I might have burned down your bach.” “I’m staying here with ya for a while, Kate. think of something else.” “I have Penny coming in.” “Every couple of days isn’t enough. happen. Something could Then we’ll

I’m not leaving ya, in any case...not until you’re no Ya have to learn to trust me.”

longer confused about us.

“I just can’t interrupt your life like this.” “Ya interrupted my life months ago, Kate. previous life permanently interrupted. Consider my

I’ll fish and work.

I’ll set up a computer in the other room where there’s another phone jack, and that’s it. to the house in Auckland. When you’re tired of this we’ll move Ya like it there.

“And a...there’ll be a young woman showing up around here, Nina, my secretary. I sometimes speak Maori to her, but I’ll Don’t want to--” I’m not as thin-skinned as all that.

try not to do it around ya. “It won’t bother me. Is she attractive?”

“Yeah, she’s attractive, smart, hardworking and the mother of two little anklebiters. How’s your skin doing?” Lan asked

with the utterly captivating warm burr of laughter which had echoed in her head for so long. “You tell me. You’re the one who can see my skin.” My hands remember all of ya.

“Like cream...no tan at all. I love this body...this head.”

His fingers moved from her arms “I’m

to the back of her neck, stroking up through her hair. glad they didn’t cut your hair.” “I guess there was no point in cutting my hair.”

He carried her to the sheepskin rug then eased her down to a sitting position and placed a stemmed glass in her hands. “Champagne. Don’t drink it all at once the way ya did that

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 170 night at Fortuna.” “I can sort of hobble on my own, you know.” “Yeah, waste of time. I like having ya in my arms.”

She laughed and sipped, feeling the pleasant warmth of the crackling fire and the slight euphoria of the champagne. her glass was empty she held it out to him. When

He took it, and his

arms came around her, letting her down into the long-fibered silky wool, kissing her until she thought her eyes were merely closed and she was whole and well and nothing had come in between this moment and their first lovemaking. “What is it, Kate?” he asked at her shy responses. “I feel...as if we’ve just met.” “We did...second time...ka pai.” Her slow fingers explored his face, sliding across the warm lids of his eyes and over his responding mouth. “I wish I could see you...I want to see you.” “Ya will. way. Just close your eyes and pretend ya like it that

Tell me if your leg hurts...if anything hurts.” “Nothing hurts...oh, not quite true. I have...this ache.”

“Yeah...the same...ever since ya left.” His deep kiss sent her reeling. “Ending it right now.” and tossed it somewhere. “Are ya warm enough?” “Oh, I’m warm, Lan, but I--” “No worries, I’ll be careful with ya...do whatever ya want however ya want, until ya tell me to stop.” “What if I don’t tell you to stop?” “Then we’ll both die happy.” She awoke in the early morning and lay with her eyes open. Did I ever tell him to stop? No, I think we both just passed His warm body lay He lifted her gown over her head

out, sated with pleasure, exhausted.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 171 peacefully sleeping beside her. She would like to have gotten

up, slipped out and walked on the shore below, perhaps singing some old love song. Where were her crutches? Not propped by the bed where they She rolled

should be, because he had carried her there. carefully to her side and sat up slowly. “Where ya going?

Ya haven’t got your crutches.” “I’m going nowhere. Sorry I woke

“Nowhere,” she said. you.”

She sat on the edge of the bed and began to cry, softly

and quietly. “Carry ya to the loo again?” “No thank you.” “What is it, Kate?” he asked, sliding his arms around her and stroking his fingers through her hair. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.” “Nobody does. Ya can’t have the certainty of that. Ya

expect everything to work like a schedule.

It isn’t that way.

You’re smart enough to know that but...full on emotional right now. Try to let it be.” “I hate...hate being so helpless.” “Come on, we’re all just fooling ourselves that we’re spinning this planet. writing a story.” “I’m sorry. “I do not. You must think I’m awfully self-centered.” Ya aren’t.” What did you do all this Ya can’t control your life the way ya do

“You’re a man who loves sex. time?” “Ah. subject.

When ya change the subject ya really do change the Is that your interview technique? What did ya do

yourself?” “Thought of you and suffered...and you probably--” “Remembered us...” He laughed. “Got ahold of myself.”

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 172 “Oh, Lan... You really believed I was coming back?” We

“If I ever doubted it I thought how ya were with me. really do turn each other on, but it’s more than that. necessity for both of us. A

Ya never had it that way before and Not

ya won’t get it quite like that anywhere else.

understanding what we have, leaving that way was such a damned...ah, never mind. to need me.” “You’re a man of basic principles.” “Ya do make me laugh...and at four in the morning after so much sex I could hardly stand up long enough to piss. ya really are something, ya sexy little cracker. to sleep now?” “I guess...if I can’t get up and walk along the water.” “Do ya want to do that?” “Sort of, but what’s the use? I can’t see much. I think Christ, Ya need me and I want ya. I want ya

Can we go back

I’ll just curl up against you and drift off like a little child rescued from the big bad dark.” “Good on ya,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. “Lan?” “Yeah?” “When you get tired of me, will you--” “Stop it, Kate. start over. When we get tired, we’ll take a nap and

Ehara toku aroha i te kiri moko, engari he aroha no

te whatumanawa. “What?” “My love for ya isn’t shallow...but a love of deep passion. Go to sleep, tau aroha...my loved one.” *** When Penny arrived she was astonished to find Lan cooking breakfast. Katharine liked the way Lan accepted Penny into his Penny immediately pitched

life as if he’d known her for years.

“Oh..” “Actually I feel a little like a rat right here..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “You’re never wrong. Yank.. was in a fiery win streak. Kate?” “I don’t think so..” “Rat poisoning?” Katharine said with surprise.” Lan interrupted. are you?” “Yeah. wishing she could see Lan’s expression..still fairly nice to each other. more afraid of myself.. running my fixed path from bach to outdoor chair and back to the computer. we’re a small population. pondering silence he said. “Yeah. we’re fairly nice to each other.. the All Blacks. Ya know I’m right. afraid of me. Kate. “The last wrong thing I did was a heap of stupidity. Too many rats and they all turn killer. you are. After a short.173 in with the preparations. and they laughed and talked about everything from New Zealand beer to aubergines and how the national rugby team. Compared to you.” Katharine said later.so disturbed ya ran off in a bloody sheep lorry. and if your eyes haven’t improved I’m taking ya to a Sydney specialist.. scolded. “Population. are you?” She sat frowning while Lan exclaimed over the silliness of her remark. forward in her lawn chair.” “Afraid to be that much in love?” Were ya that . I am. I flew up to the Nelson She could imagine him shaking his head as he winery and left ya in misery. I’ve always been so active that this is--” “I’m giving ya a couple more weeks. “Is that friendly manner something all Kiwis have? I’ve encountered it over and over.well.as if ya were a prisoner. She leaned We haven’t been I mean. stricken by rat poisoning yet.

. placating voice and a strong will which was clearly evident. place. People even drove out in schedule. she worked at her computer.helpless.” “Oh.. I’m teasing a little... It surely came from his self-determined mother. Trying to stay out of their way. Lan was rather quickly drawn back into his busy The phone rang incessantly. Katharine knew how Lan liked his women: able to take charge. to think for themselves..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She was not afraid to tell Lan her own I’m taking ya to Sydney.” “So now we’re back to that. but Katharine could also hear fondness and respect for Lan in her voice.” You have such a Ya came back “Then in a roundabout way I get loved.supposing I might be here as a last resort. and Katharine found herself thinking that it was not at all what she had in mind when she had first settled into her cozy bach in peace and quiet. Christ.” “And now?” “I wanted to be here.. because I’m here?” “That’s what you’d like to believe... Katharine. look into those rare black eyes. I felt so drawn to this I I didn’t expect to encounter you. healthy ego. if only I could see you. “This place is too small for your peace of mind and all of . or wandered out to sit in her chair and listen to the sounds of nature.” “Oh. to heal. couldn’t stand to think of you dealing with this. you’re so far from helpless..here because I’m.” I love New Zealand.” “Lan. I might confess everything to you.174 “Yes.” *** Nina had a musical.two more weeks.. opinion of things as they worked together. groups to find him.your country. “Right. you are New Zealand. For me.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 175 my business affairs,” Lan said one rainy day. with your creative self.” “So this is a prelude to what?” Katharine asked. going away?” “I have to drive over to Auckland and then fly to Green Braes. Will ya come?” “Are you “I’m interfering

“You said you wouldn’t leave me.” “Yeah, I know I did say that. “I was only teasing. ordered. Go on. I want ya to come with me.” Get out of here,” Katharine

“You must be going crazy trying to work in this It’s all starting to get me, too.”

environment.

“Then you’ll come?” “No. this. I don’t want to be with Mary like this, Lan, not like

I was hoping--” “Mary adores ya. She wants to see ya, Kate.” I’m sorry Lan. Just go on about your

“I’ll wait a little. business and let me be.

I’m doing well at my computer.”

“I can’t do my work and worry about ya, Kate.” “You don’t have to. I’ll be fine. I originally intended

to stay here by myself anyway.” “Penny told me she worries about ya, too...when she’s not here.” “Oh, nonsense. What can happen to me?”

“A bloody lot of things can happen to ya.” “Nothing will.” “All right. in Auckland. I’ll be at Green Braes for two days, then back Ya do know

I’ll be back here as soon as I can.

I’m going to hear it from Mary when I turn up without ya?” Only when Lan and Nina had driven off the next day did Katharine realize how she had come to appreciate the busyness going on around her. After all, they had left her alone when She stood in silence, regretting her

she was at her computer.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 176 own willfulness. night. How she would miss Lan’s arms around her at

She drank some leftover coffee while nibbling on a

blueberry muffin, and didn’t even bother to eat the rest of the day. The next day Penny drove her to the doctor, the two of them setting out quite early. She was thrilled to be told she could

dispense with her crutches. Penny, happy with Katharine’s progress, was more voluable than usual and eager to discuss Katharine’s improved life. Back

at the bach, she ladled mutton stew into a bowl for Katharine and said, “Looks like you’ve settled into New Zealand and availed yourself of the best we have to offer.” “Lan, you mean,” Katharine said. “Yeah. He’s really choice, Kate...lucky to find a fella

like him, one who cares so much for ya.” “How’s Neville?” Katharine asked, changing the subject. “Neville? Neville is Neville, nearly always the same. He’s the one for me all right. Easier to I

can depend on him for that.

He’s found a larger place so I can move in with him. study together.”

Katharine detected a slight embarrassment in Penny’s voice. “I hope it doesn’t turn into the sort of commotion that’s been going on around here,” Katharine said. “Ya don’t miss Lan when he goes?” “Oh, yes,” Katharine said with a half-hearted laugh. The following morning, Katharine was alone again and working at her computer with intense concentration. she began to notice the initial signs of a headache. “Oh, God,” she muttered, “I hope it’s not one of those.” She poured the rest of her coffee into the kitchen sink, rinsed the cup and went to stand on the sill of the opened door. She could feel the sunlight on her skin, her pained eyes taking Gradually

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 177 in the brightness of it. She carried a towel to the foot of the

path, moving with counted steps, glad to be without her crutches. Wiping off her damp lounging chair, she lowered Her head felt very strange, but the sun was

herself onto it. warming.

Worrying over the pain of a full-blown migraine, she

managed to doze off. Mary was standing before her speaking. Was it a dream? It

must be a dream; she could see Mary’s soft but admonishing visage, one arm resting on her red-sweatered hip. “What will ya do now, Kate? your selfishness?” “Oh, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do Are ya going to hurt Lan with

about us, and my head hurts so, Mary,” Katharine answered. “I thought ya were my girl, but you’ll never be that without him. Never,” Mary called out as she grew smaller and

smaller, disappearing amidst a vast herd of sheep until Katharine couldn’t make her out but only hear her emphatic voice at the center of a rapid swirl of woolies. Kate.” Katharine awoke with a cry of protest, looking up at the soft cerulean sky and then out at the water. Clouds were flying “Never. Never,

above the rippling waves, making racing shadows over the opaque green water. Racing white clouds. The intense light. The

bright sparkle of sun-spangled water. of verdure above the sands.

The rolling emerald rise She could see The perfect See

All so startling.

the delicate shapes of leaves, blades of grass. form and color of everything. everything. “Oh God.

She could see it all.

Oh, my God!” she cried, jumping out of her chair “It’s more beautiful than I could ever Everything.

and spinning around.

have imagined, so much more beautiful. Everything.”

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 178 She hurried back to the bach, pausing for a moment to look around her, and then reaching for the telephone. “Penny, it’s Kate. I need you to drive me to Auckland.

Oh, I’ve got to get there right away.” *** “Oh lord, this place is gorgeous,” a jubilant Penny had said when she left Katharine off at the elegant old Victorian house. “Wish I could live here.”

“It is a nice place,” Katharine agreed, “very well kept.” She soon found the key and settled herself in the Herne Bay house like a respectful guest, but adding a few welcoming touches of her own. At the final hour, she donned her little

black dress with her freshly washed hair curving above her shoulders and the Totoeka pendant hung around her neck. Waiting

at the window, peeking through the curtains, at last she saw Lan sauntering up the walk. He was carrying his briefcase, his

sleeves rolled, his tie flapping in circling marine air, and his jacket slung over his shoulder. His thoughtful face looked just

a bit tired and worried, ready for the glass of wine waiting for him on the coffee table in the lounge where a fire was burning in the fireplace. key. The door opened as he was reaching for the

He looked Katharine up and down in shock, his eyes going

quickly to hers. “Why don’t you call me Green Eyes anymore?” she asked in a soft, rather sultry voice. She was looking directly at him, her eyes traveling over his face and then staring into the startled dark eyes she had waited so long to see. He tossed his briefcase inside on the floor and pulled her into his arms. “Jesus Christ. Is life repeating itself?”

“We’ll get better.

In a couple of days it’ll be nearly

perfect,” Katharine teased, smiling and continuing to look into

Careless Child Karlene Kubat - 179 his eyes. She could hardly bring herself to look anywhere else. “Cor blimey.”

His head went back in laughter. “Into the lounge, please. your favorite Nelson winery.

I have some wine there, from

I’m sure you’ll like it...looks

especially nice in your Waterford crystal goblets.” “I don’t need any bloody wine to cheer me up, Green Eyes, and I haven’t called ya that because I thought it might upset ya.” “Well, it won’t upset me now.” “How? When did it happen?” I had a headache, dozed off in my chair,

“This morning.

dreamed a certain dream, then awoke and discovered I was in a very beautiful place.” They sat sipping their wine and gazing into the fire, occasionally staring at each other and bursting into laughter, as if neither could believe this most fortuitous development. Finally, Lan sighed and said, “I’m afraid I invited Margie and Ian over for drinks, and they’re just about--” Across the room, the oak tall case clock chimed as its little full-sailed ship rocked back and forth above the face, and then the doorbell gave forth a tuneful announcement of company. “Are ya still pissed at Margie?” Lan asked quickly. “I wonder how I could be,” Katharine replied, bracing herself. She stood in the background while the three others cheerfully greeted each other, then Margaret stared toward her with a startled face and took a step backwards, pulling at the hem of her gold turtleneck and smoothing her hands over her long black skirt. Katharine went forward and reached out her hand. Then

“Hello, Margaret, I haven’t seen much of you lately.” she added with a laugh, “Well, I haven’t really seen much of

.it simply curls my toes. it’s none of my business.. “Come up to my study a minute. I’ll shut my mouth.... “Why. I know.” Lan and Katharine looked at each other and smiled without making any comment.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .but if ever I saw a man in pain--” “Margaret--” “Right. could have seen Lan when ya left. “At least If ya “That’s a rather cool explanation. “Ah.. . Lan.. that’s wonderful.. including you.want to show ya something. “I think I need a drink. glancing at Katharine.. I did that.can ya--” Nice outfit. anyone.we resolved the matter.how did ya? I mean are ya.” “Yes. and it.” Margaret added in the way of apology.” Margaret said.can’t say I regret it. “So you two are back together again. Kate? Just a moment ago. I believe we’ve been left to recover our dignity. I could have throttled you with my bare hands. have I?” “Kate! But ya. He tried to keep it to himself. Ian remarked. But do ya know what. with a complete lack of the exceptional subtlety and finesse he showed on the water. bring your glass..” you’re together. Kate. for heaven’s sake.” Lan said to Ian... and you’re looking great. rooted. with Lan there next to ya.. absolutely wonderful. “What do I say now?” Margaret asked.. “It wasn’t a very nice thing to do. “Do ya hate me?” When Lan walked up to me floundering blindly in my lawn chair.” I know. But I was in no condition to throttle I recovered and we. She held up her hand.” Margaret exclaimed. Margaret. Sorry. as if it were high summer. I could feel what’s between ya... “Ian.180 anything.” When they were seated back in the lounge with glasses in hand.” Katharine said. “I think he’s He and tactician Colin are racing in heavy weather.

due to the whisperings of Margaret to her husband..” The evening went rather well after that.. no more crutches.” “From now on you’ve got it. “Ya okay?” “I did my best. God..and be happy he has such friends. not just because I’m happy to see anyone at all. Margaret. and Margaret and Ian left earlier than they had intended -. I I can only admire you for I hope I can earn a understand that you’re loyal to Lan. And I like you.” “Thanks. Perfect timing. either.I suppose something like the way things have gone.” “Oh lord.some day..” Lan said. Katharine surmised. Katharine sat gazing into the fire in silence while Lan removed glasses and put away bottles. Kate.” she responded in a thoughtful voice. You’ve He came to sit beside “Ya look just like the night I met ya at Fortuna. “They really are nice people. her.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Can ya walk up the stairs?” Katharine furrowed her brow a little in “Never mind..this.” “Margaret. that. she stood beside the bed.” speculation.. “I’ll carry ya and right now.. They like ya. And.181 sorry. “I think so. I don’t know how things would have gone -.I sort of “I see that you’re walking without crutches.. I’m I. laughing at her serious frown.. stood .just to put a cap on this. little of that kind of loyalty too.maybe you did the right thing.” “Lan just found out tonight about my eyes. Green Eyes..” Once floated up the stairs.” “Good on ya. really happy to find ya so improved.. because I.. and then we arrived.anyway I’m happy to see you. dropped in unexpectedly with the news.

” she cried. for her. was very different from those others at the bach. “I’ve been wanting ya all night. deep kiss. losing herself. my Green Eyes. don’t talk about it.” He ran his thumb across her lips and kissed them with intense concentration.. “Yes. curling mouth or tan cheek or ear or beloved lock of black hair. She was half afraid of how completely she was coming apart. anything. Lan. and then a second time. Come on... still enthralled with simply staring into her intensely focused eyes. He lay down beside her already thoroughly aroused body.. Tell me.” he said. “I’m bloody sorry ya had to go through all of that horror in Jerusalem..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . my Kate.when I saw ya at my door. inside. a kiss that. Ya rarely get two of the same of this. are ya not? “Yes. looking back at me. All. lifting her head with one hand while he guided himself into her with the other.. yours.all that wildness Tell me. “Look at us. beginning to move with unleashed pleasure. still amazed at the return of her vision. let it out. The joy of it was in her laughter as she drew back..Jesus..” She moaned softly.just you.. everything.” “No..182 trembling with excitement while he got her out of her dress and lowered her onto the soft duvet in the middle of a long..don’t want ya away from me. I don’t want to think of then initiated her own deep kiss and felt his body sliding over hers. as if repairing something broken. “Let go.” Ya are mine. “Déjà vu..” Lan said as he stood up to strip off his clothing. her eyes rejoicing in glimpses of taut skin. biting her lip to hold herself quiet as he drove himself against her.” She couldn’t talk and feel .oh.

“Oh. “Are ya thinking of leaving me again. anywhere. I want to see your eyes looking at me. “Look at me.” She. With one discerning look and the nudge of past experience. his solid dark body wrapped in a navy blue wool robe. Lan found her staring into space in the kitchen nook.” All past horror was swept away in that powerful dominion of love. *** Katharine eased out of bed and curled up in a large gray wingback by the windows. saw her eyes. thinking Somewhere else. squinted at a close-hauled sloop in the bay. only that dreamy and dazed stare of languid satisfaction. he said.183 the way she felt. of vanishing in a haze of indecision? She sat desiring him. Still silent. her nerves beginning to fire and jump beneath her skin. Kate?” As familiar as his directness was. “Are ya afraid of me. very close. God. all anxiety. stalled life. Half an hour later. the mouth which so quickly and easily took possession of her. or is it yourself you’re afraid of?” . all doubt and grief gone. Off to her left the sun was just She rubbed her eyes lightly and The fear was rising over the pink water. managing only one last cry. thoroughly dissolved in physical need. a cup of coffee held in both trembling hands. joining the hot dark river of pleasure that was Lan. In the consuming heat of post-orgasm there was nothing of her wounded self. the question itself startled her. too. desiring him even now in her sexually sated. in his.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . She threw up her arms and felt his hands closing over hers. overtaking her again. she watched him pour coffee from the glass pot into a white mug and lift it to his questioning mouth. God. all self-awareness. How could it be? Was she thinking that. in the attentive and demanding force of Lan’s liberating body.

looking away... but I--” “I can’t do this.” “Come with me to Green Braes and Mary’ll gladly tell ya what it means. Have ya forgotten When I found ya I didn’t say.. I nearly lost ya. “I want you. so you can.. I can’t give myself to Lachlan Manutane and ten thousand sheep.. ‘Jesus I can’t fall I went after what I wanted.” he Ya do it with your body when you’re having me.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .oh God. to suit your fancy.. Kate. “You always tell me to look at you. Lan.184 “Both.” “I’m a journalist.” “I can’t. I want ya...I in love with a journalist. Is that what you’ve been doing.’ knew. I love ya..” “Yeah. Ya can’t straddle that high fence This is us together. Kate.” . “Got to run like bloody hell from the possibility of bad fate.so you can possess me.. saying. Do ya want me?” I’ll catch ya.” “Ya love me?” I just can’t see what “I love you..” she said.take--” “Jesus Christ. Lan. “Then look into my eyes and tell me ya don’t love me and that you’re going away..even if I expected a far milder version of the kind of trouble we’re having now. My God. feel. ya ambivalent woman.’?” “No.. dropping her head into her hands. I felt how right it was. that means. that? Stop this shit and tell me what ya Ya know Look at me.” she said. Jump. ‘God. demanded. I love you. ya do.right?” “Don’t.” “Bloody-hell what self-deception.I always want you. Ya went away and were miserable..

if that’s what I have to do to have ya... “Did ya bring anything with ya besides that wicked little black dress?” “I was in a hurry.from the same irresistible mouth. Half of ya wants to run away from me and the other half never wants to leave my side.. Which is it?” Katharine felt herself coming apart...Careless Child Karlene Kubat . ya schizoid little wonk.” “Snow? Isn’t it difficult to land?” ..slacks and a shirt.ya call them sweaters. “All right. can. pounamou eyes. here.” “I’ve heard that before. and I’ll help ya in any way I Ya can stay here in Auckland and write. she pulled her white satin robe around herself and folded her arms. There’s snow on the ground at Green Braes.” “But I want to be with you all the time..” “Then go put them on.” “You said I must be with you always..today. “Jesus.” Lan laughed.. I. clothes from Mary. help each other always. but yes. as surely as if she were crumbling before Lan’s eyes. “You tell me. I thought as much.” “You certainly are a bossy bloke. we’ll fly to Green Braes. You tell me now.” “Yeah. I can’t leave all of this. so it means Ya can ya have to want me enough to make it part of your life..if ya don’t want to come to Green Braes.” Lan took her in his arms with “So some impatience and stroked his fingers through her hair. let ya stay here and write. “I’ll get ya one of my jumpers -.I want to see Mary.. I know ya have to do that.” It means we It means ya are with me always. write. what it means. “Oh God.” “Yeah..185 Looking at him with sudden resolution. but I’d be willing to do that. Ya can borrow more We’re heading out of here now.

. Green Eyes. was a chance to have a loving.sheep talk. To have Lan It was Here At least it’s reliable. sorry.” she said. “It’ll take ya a long time to find out.” “Made sandwiches while ya were dressing. knowing he was counting on Mary to help him... “Come on. She looked .” She dropped her head back and thought of his remark.. powerful persuasion and Lan knew that very well.. the woolen Swan-Dris shirt-like jackets worn everywhere in New Zealand. reaching out to hold Katharine’s hand as they winged through the clear sky. craved until the day they died.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .pretty good. the sooner you’ll see Mary..” “Can you cook. Lan was more patient.breakfast.. what everyone needed. I’ll check with them and make sure it is.. Lan?” “Haven’t ya already experienced some of my cooking?” “Some.” “Explanation. understanding mother.186 “Not very.. cocking her head with scrutiny. yes. The gold The sooner we’re out of here on his left wrist flashed beneath the cuff of a green plaid Swannie.. even dreamed of her. “Oh.” *** In the air. rattle your dags. She had thought of Mary a great deal.but there’s a limit to what I’ll do.ya can find out for yourself.” “Uh. the idea of it thrilled her. I’m sure.behind my seat under my jacket when ya get hungry.prosperity sells in the marketplace. “There’s so much I don’t know about you.. please.. Rex and his mates keep the runway clear.. plane.. help them both.” Katharine pointed to the hand guiding the and to have a mother. “Is that a Rolex always appearing there?” “Yeah.

I suppose that’s a more noble death than just getting flattened on the highway. Australia. “Let’s get ya into the Rover fast. I’ve always thought of it as a sort of whimsical.from Warm fur.” They were soon moving down the holly lane over packed snow. Kiwi bear. playful thing. yeah.” “On livestock. coming down on a world of white. What is this? It’s so thick and furry. those poor brownish critters I saw squashed all over the roads. Yank. We line our hats and coats with ’em.” “Possum?” “Not the kind you’re thinking of. Katharine’s heart beat with excitement as she stepped out .Careless Child Karlene Kubat . stepping out of the plane and quickly donning his big leather jacket.187 over at his concentrating profile and wished she could know what he was thinking at that precise moment. “My jumper warm enough?” “It’s wonderful.” “Well. The runway was almost clear..” We’re overrun with the little creatures. looming stone house now cloaked in white. “Do ya like snow?” “It’s never treated me badly. up to the always impressive. but once again awoke to find them in a landing pattern. He turned to her and said. but I suppose it can be very brutal.” Katharine said. Waving to Rex.” “A blend of possum and wool. “Oh. Lan came around to Katharine’s side and helped her out. “Brrr. She had thought she would sleep only a few minutes. He reached for a heavier coat.” “Yeah. Lan was off the radio and very soon rolling to a stop.” They ate ham and cheese sandwiches and then Katharine dozed off..

straddled her and kissed her laughing mouth. to the snowy fields of her grandmother’s flower farm. grabbing her and rubbing it over her face. hounds she had once seen from a distance. They turned toward the house and saw Mary. As Lan was coming around the side of the Rover He scooped up a she let fly and hit him soundly in the chest. Its drumming warmth quieted their . He His lips were cold She but growing warm as she held onto his leather jacket. forgot where she was.188 of the Rover. For her it was a setting which took her back to her childhood. black. Your clothes are wet. handful of snow and strode toward her. occasionally reaching for his hot tea. shaking her head and smiling. and white fur gleaming as they dozed by the fire. *** Katharine was snugly wrapped in a soft wine robe of Mary’s and curled up on the long black leather sofa angled before the big snapping fireplace in the lounge. gingerly packing it tight with iceburned fingers. “Come on. their brown. across from them in a wingback. before ya freeze your arse. Then he pulled himself away from her and lifted her to a sitting position.” He helped her up and brushed her off while she stood laughing. Lan sat with his arm Mary sat around her. hunched inside a heavy red cardigan and standing on the steps. Screaming with laughter. were in from their station duties. her face softer than the last time Katharine had seen her. Sheb and Wooly. she whirled away. once again forgot everything but the caressing mouth and the dark eyes made fierce from taunting. quickly packing another snowball and barely getting it airborne before he grabbed her again and plowed her into a snowdrift. forgot the cold. Two huntaways. ya wild little brat. She bent down and gathered a handful of snow.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Her feet crunched in the snow.

” Katharine said. Green Eyes. Lan said. mended leg? Do I carry ya up the stairs?” How’s your little “Aren’t you comfortable right here?” Katharine said in a half teasing voice. quiet.” As Mary slipped out of the room.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Oh.” I’ve still got enough life left in me to help .” “I napped on the plane. Her body was still glowing from its effect. reaching up to run her fingers through Lan’s snow-wetted black waves. Katharine could only smile.” “Shh.” “Shhh. twisting a hank of her drying blond hair around his fingers. “You’re blushing. “I was perfectly ready to come in but the child needed her playtime. Mary stood up.” Mary scolded in a teasing voice. “So is yours. almost teary-eyed with gratitude for the firm hug of welcome she had received from Mary. ya finish me off. “Ya won’t shut me up when it’s good. Mary. Ya know what that does to me. “I’m going to help Mattie with baking. It’s time for our nap.” “Good on ya.189 normally loud and nervous manners.” The blond hair wound around his fingers received a sharp tug. “Look at the two of ya. “I’ll have ya here if ya want. doused from rolling in the cold snow like naughty little bairns.” Katharine begged. straightening her black wool skirt. There’s a fire laid in your room if you’d like to rest until tea is ready. ya little primrose.” he countered. Lan. “Your hair is still damp.” Ya heard “Then it’s up the stairs.

As she watched the logs I’m surprised he hasn’t catch hold and the flames climb. I was terrible. with Katharine pausing to greet the noble glass stag poised over the landing. pulling it out from the foot of the bed and over their cooling bodies. removed her robe and drew her shivering body into his warmth.” “When I was a little blighter I thought of it. Maybe my “Stop it. grasping a brown woolen afghan Mary had knitted.. “What’s wrong with ya now.... You’ve been so good.. I’m always crying. arm in arm. her eyes began to sting and burn.190 They climbed the stairs slowly. Kate?” around.us.” “I am sorry about that. “That.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Their shoulders were propped Lan asked when he turned against a bank of square pillows as they stared at the flames. “Just come and hold me.I can’t think of anything . But why now?” “I was thinking of last time.. “What?” he asked.” He tossed off his clothes.make me divine while you’re at it. yeah?” “You’re not selfish.never used to.” “Right..” “Oh.that horror in Jerusalem did strange things to my head.what I did to you.. You knew me much better than I realized...” “What are you making me?” “Yeah. She closed them and let the burning tears roll down.here. maybe I’m around the bend over ya but I’m good for You’re. wrong with you at all..really--” Stop all of that...” She sat on the edge of the high bed. “He never tires of standing there.. been shot. Let’s make love. motive is just a form of selfishness.. I’d give a lot to have seen you then.. watching Lan kneel to light the neatly arranged dry wood.

can count. Both of us.” *** Descending the stairs was a replay.” Mary said. They did drink several glasses of the pleasant wine. just drink a lot of wine and go to bed. irresistible lovemaking in the shower.. all of ya. Lan uncorked two bottles of a chilled tart rosé from his winery and filled their generous-sized goblets. I’ve told her about ya and she understands. Lan. Green Eyes. lassie.191 it. There was a crisp salad made with pale leaves of Belgian endive and dark green cress. “To Lachlan and Katharine. herbed potatoes. “and the happiness of it. “Speaking of which.” Katharine remarked.and right now. they rushed down the stairs. flushed from lovemaking and a warm shower. lifting her goldedged crystal goblet. “even only a small tattoo. sprinkled with spicesugared nuts. we won’t do any heavy talking tonight. Katharine wore a skirt and sweater of But I’m a greedy bastard. “Ya look good in my mother’s clothes.” she added.” Lan said. You’ll forget.” “Oh God. served with an acorn-stamped mound of newly churned butter. I want Mary’s. wahina. and freshly baked oatmeal rolls light as air. match your hair.” “You look good in anything. .Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Careful with the loose tongue. and more sheep than ya You’re done for. a soft golden wool. Tomorrow I’m meeting my “These manager down at the sheds. communicating with the bloody muddy sheep while ya talk to Mary. all drizzled with sweet dressing. am I laughing?” “See how useful I am.” Tea was thin slices of tender roast leg of lamb with mint jelly. Trust what ya feel like this.. roasted. Haven’t I given ya Mary? I’ll keep ya happy.

Oh.192 chatting amiably.” “Drink a large cup of black tea later and you’ll be right as rain. world involving myself in constant misery was starting to get me. Somehow she would have to head off the ensuing downward spiral which could so easily make her very poor company.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. running around the equivocate as I’ve been doing. unblemished snow. . What’s wrong with me. often laughing over Mary’s ample and pointed witticisms. Snuggled in Mary’s soft robe.” “I’ve been thinking. She tried to blame it on the wine. “More so when ya can share it. she stood by the windows. gazing out at the icy river and the exquisite pink shimmer of early morning sun falling on banks and fields and purpleshadowed hillocks blanketed with pure. Lan’s arms came around her from behind. Dessert was a kiwi custard tart served with a sweet liqueur and demitasses of rich coffee.. Katharine’s head was whirling with bonhomie as she climbed the stairs leaning on Lan’s arm.” she whispered. “Beautiful. Come back to bed. unpredictable even to herself. I really want to stay in one Why then am I so worried.. God. soothed by his touch.” he said in a warm sleepy voice. and after such a wonderful evening. so indecisive now? place and write. His chin edged down against her shoulder as he gazed out with her.” “I think the wine did a little damage.. Lan?” she asked as they lay together fitted like spoons. “Ya don’t have to get up yet. In my work I almost never And yet. Then the explosion. her humor far dryer than the vanishing wine. The next morning she awoke with a tight wrap of depression that threatened to unfold itself in all directions.

” “I’d have found some other excuse. Your mother went away and never came back. and your violent father was a bloody poor excuse for a human being. they’ll accept ya.. driver who took ya away from me.” “I’ve cursed myself a hundred times that I ever told ya about Rani.” “She’s finally paying attention to the child?” “I think so.. trying to learn how to care for her little girl.. “Where is Rani?” Ya can have them all.” “Rani.. all I can say..she’s with my former in-laws.. The world is a very frightening place. “That proposition nearly killed ya. Maori half?” “Oh.” “Ultimately.. cared for ya.impossible.193 “Nothing.. Ya were so full on hungry for The only person around who love ya married an abusive liar.hope so.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. I’m part of Would ya like to meet the other half? The Why wouldn’t I? and when they know ya they’ll like ya for yourself. It wasn’t necessary.. your grandmother. I didn’t realize I was really running away from myself.until Mary stepped in to save the poor bloke. a rather extended family.” “And maybe I could have convinced ya of that.. I think I had to go and do what I did. for yourself.where is she?” Ya need some happiness “Rani is. And you really want me to?” If you’re mine. Ya think we’ll come to a sad end. quite a bit of yourself to the world. Ya can have mine.so.” I think you’ve given That’s The wrongs have to be exposed.. I’ve tried to do that. “Yeah. died and left ya with no family.” ..much. It’s just the way ya started out...just the excuse ya needed to I bloody near fired the lorry run away and hurt yourself. Ya expect it.. I would.

194 Katharine turned over and looked into Lan’s eyes... Are ya still “All right. would have wanted it. remark?” “I guess it’s. eyes.” He rolled on his back.. my little ipo. Then it’s off to the sheep pens for me. good for ya.the mother in ya. “You’re wanting children.. Green Eyes. “I strongly suspected the baby wasn’t yours. I’d be It would be good for ya.kind of early in the morning to be blushing. Then I’d go bloody nuts. “Mary would go bloody nuts.inside this plucky little package..a man about town like you?” “A man about Katharine. “Maybe it would have green staring at the ceiling and laughing. and ya can talk to Think about the rest. wanted. it until I said it.” She Any woman carrying your child would have She had suddenly stopped herself.” “You wouldn’t like it if it had your rare dark eyes?” “What do ya think? on the pill?” “Now wait a minute.. Four .” Come here..” “And now that ya have thought of it?” She put her hand under her cheek and against the pillow and continued looking into his dark questioning eyes.. Wait. It’s the softness that I see. and the caring..now I’m fully awake and I want ya any which way. I’m getting dizzy.. Lan.with you. Lan. “You think so?” “I do. pounamou eyes.why I’m blushing.” the tip of her nose. He chuckled and kissed I didn’t even think of Were ya including yourself in that last “Yeah.... her surprised thoughts turning over in wonder.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . We’ll talk about it later. yourself focusing on something besides personal loss. ya mean. And Yeah. Mary.. “You’re blushing...” after a little anklebiter or two.

..” At least. didn’t I? How ironic that it took a knock in the head and blindness to make me see a little better. hoping I could.but never did he bring a single one of them here. were sitting at the long wooden work table in the big old kitchen.” “Your own conscience is in good working order then..of the way I was.” Katharine stared into Mary’s gray-blue eyes.. Two with green and two with.” “I certainly agree. the good of it is that you’re here now. “May I ask why ya did come back. I’m quite ashamed of the way I ran off I really threw without saying good-bye.” “It’s a miracle that you’re here at all..” “I dreamed about you.and yet.195 of them maybe? “Lan?” Reveling in his own laughter. Katharine. Mary.” *** Mary refilled Katharine’s cup with more black tea.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . You were scolding me. a sparkling neat pale green arena of warmth and activity. I’m not so sure I know what ya intend. he grabbed her escaping body and fit her to him. quite a fit. was breaking for Lachlan. Your condition wouldn’t have I’ve looked after a few in my life.. Mary. mattered to me. softly lined Scottish face radiating a momentary relief that was not without uncertainty. The sudden appearance of Katharine Gordon said more to me than any inadequate words could have. Kate. Mattie had relinquished her reign there to set about They vacuuming in the upstairs bedrooms.. “Ya could have come sooner..” “Well.. kissing her astonished mouth. her warm. I was “I wanted to be able to see you.. My heart He’s entertained some rather interested women since the loss of. or am I overstepping . Still.whatever.

not enough.and you.. and you’re To my way of thinking you’re the one receiving that attention. all of its touted beauty notwithstanding.. taste. good to me and you didn’t have to be that way at all.” “Oh..” “But at least I’m good at what I do.. it’s loss.not always. a softer version of his angular jaw and well-molded chin. Returning to Seattle to recover seemed so. I have periods of depression. That’s why ya came back.” I had enough That isn’t failure. Oh. I have some friends there but I--” “Ya really have no family?” “No. And I think I had to finally admit to myself that this place was so especially wonderful. It was much more than a And yet.and... I’ve failed at everything else.. Do ya not?” Mary leaned back with her hands folded on the table and her sharply focused eyes waiting.and yet the Ya had a taste of something that I was inundated with.” “Of course I did.the kind of love only Lachlan can give ya. you are right about that.” “Ya were never loved. All I have to do is remember and I can go right on -. because Lan was here. Do ya not know You were Surely ya do...hunger. . “A person can’t live very well without love. but It’s all I’ve ever been. you’ll never forget. He loves so hard. Katharine began to identify more of the facial features given to Lan. Mary. “I’m a professional person. I felt so drawn to this place... what that means? You’re Lan’s chosen one.. but I think ya still have some problems to resolve.. of it to last me to my grave.196 myself?” “It’s sort of complicated.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “And satisfied then?” “No.so depressing to me.with Lan.... as lucky as can be.

too. he or she is born to. Do ya see that?” “Yes. and I taught But when I found Rang I was quite content to I have loved music for a while. Lachlan has suffered make that change ya talk about. husband. no right to--” “It’s not that so much. the stewardship of these lands. to happiness..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . There I’ve said it. I know I have unconditional love.play the piano for my own joy of it.that he would never give himself like that again. “Your frowning at me.enough to deny himself what he ought to have.. My career was here with my Now it We ran this place together and we ran it well... because I can’t stand it. For him it works that way. He loves ya too much...the way it feeds your ego. an intelligent woman like yourself. belongs to Lachlan. He could do with a good partner. I must be craving Oh. Kate.. Each has to do what But I can’t help feeling that if ya loved him enough we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s why I’m here. Mary. and he’s made it into something much larger. He doesn’t know that I heard him swear an oath one bitter night..” “A successful career is a powerful thing. Mary. Somehow.. without completely . He knows that very well but he’ll never ask it of ya. You’re a lovely girl with a right It’s just that I don’t know if you’re able to Ya see.” “Nobody could take that from ya.frightening. you’re wrong. I don’t resist.see it and feel it. but you.yes. Mary..” “I’m a writer. Now he’s done it. Kate.” “Oh..197 thought of such a complete change in my life is. I do..” “Please understand. leave off. He couldn’t help himself any more than I could when I fell in love with Rang.” “For a while he drank a great deal... somehow ya do resist. My dad sent me to the best schools.

a world Probably she could learn. was dazzling in the bright sun. There was ice along the bank but the freezing The snow water burbled with a lyrical sound rather comforting.because I love him far more than I think you realize. but alongside this was a somewhat anxious speculation of how she would live the rest of her life. Leaning back. Mary’s trust in her? What would make her? She glanced out the tall side Through the windows which opened onto a narrow sun porch. the crisp air biting into her lungs.” “And for that ya have all my devotion. Did she want a little child clinging to her skirt. standing up and giving Katharine a steady. I have to fit into your world. windows the hardened snow crystals glittered like faceted diamonds. She stopped to position herself on a large rock.198 losing myself.. she gradually drifted In this pristine off in thought. With her arms gratefully wrapped around Mary.” Mary said. very likely with lovely black eyes? cherish it. environment. the rush of warm feeling. “I’d like to take a walk in the snow.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . all good fortune. reassuring hug. first brushing it off briskly with a gloved hand. and off in the distance hung the Southern Alps. piercing the hard blue winter sky. like Lan’s? A part of Lan -. pondering her situation. Along with this went a huge sense of relief that Mary What had always quietly been there and was there now for Lan.” “Then I’ll get ya some warm clothes. she could easily assert that she had miraculously escaped the jaws of death and was now sitting at the pinnacle of all beauty. because I love Lan.how she would Could she help to run a place like this.. She could certainly .” *** Katharine was walking along the river. if she were to betray her presumed commitment. Katharine basked in the ensuing release of tension.

I’m already happy just having ya. with her? Wasn’t that the irrefutable answer? What was wrong She began to see that deep down she felt inadequate She for Lan. It would be a necessity She wasn’t indifferent to the cornucopia of good things spilling into her life.” “Then what in bloody hell are we talking about?” “I guess. It’s kind of sad. Of course there Love didn’t conquer all. she knew this. but I’m so satisfied with you.. We’ve both had .. Ya hear “Bloody hell it is.” “Forever?” “I don’t know if..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .if I’m the right person for you. there were always those. for her.in a way. Katharine? I found ya and ya found me. “But that isn’t the end of the problem. about so many things.. No more. even though she was totally and inescapably in its grip.” “That decision is the one I get to make. Lan.. It’s I who have to figure out how to make ya satisfied.. could no longer imagine being otherwise.. would be difficulties.I guess we’re talking about a special sort of competence..” “Oh. sliding into his arms.” “No. her old insecurity always just within reach.and about the end of something and the beginning of something else.” His kiss warmed her whole body and she kissed him back until he leaned away and looked into her revealing eyes. lowered her head and sighed.. feeding her creative needs with endless titillating themes.” No more sadness. is it?” “I have to learn to live well with you.. me.199 write about it. “What is it now?” Lan’s voice suddenly intoned. enriching her self. decided to give me up?” “Have ya She turned around and couldn’t bear the uncertainty on his face for even a second after discovery..so happy. “For as long as you want me I’m yours.have made.. to make you happy.

but the thought blew away behind her as she ran on.” impatience.” him. Her woolen hat had come off.” “Can’t have ya in the snow.. certain nothing could stop her. He clicked his tongue with “Now I want ya bad and we’re in the snow. tapping at the heavy sheepskin jacket.” She slid her hand down the front of his jacket and looked up into his eyes.” There was a pause of heavy silence while her taut face softened then bloomed with amusement. up away from the river and into an open field where the whiteness rose in smooth hillocks. if you so decree it. “Another thing about ya.” It was the thing that had Her hair was in His fingers “Be careful with your leg. savoring her humor as his mood drifted away from the heat of protest. his lids closed down to a narrow darkness that was just her.. Wasn’t her body forever trying to launch itself. slowed Lan down when he stopped to pick it up.the way ya suddenly eat up life.” Her coy mouth offered a teasing smile as she pushed her fingers into his chest.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . before ya drown yourself in it. what I love. to fly away in dreams? “Kate. laughing mouth. her eyes. pasted over her gasping.too bloody cold. “Do ya know what your eyes do to me when ya smile like that?” “Just pounamou for my lover. I won’t steal ya from your rare self. . He hesitated. ya unpredictable wahina -. It’s That’s the end of all this equivocation.200 enough of sadness. “Well. For a second she wondered if her leg was really up to this.” She laughed with an expansive surge of joy and began to run. She was beginning to tremble. great god Manutane. He caught hold of her and swung her around against Please be careful. She ran over the powdery snow in quick bursts of speed. but not from cold. Over there. lifted it and smoothed it back as he replaced her hat.

“Oh.” Katharine said. feeling so much and knowing so little. in its path motes of whirling dust.. but let me get my hands inside. I want to know--” “It’s no good knowing everything.. intense with lust.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Lan. Anything. with his tongue in her mouth and his hands fitting her against him. something which should never be finished until the eyes closed for the last time. I want ya. No one will. Even in this condition... brr. snow-etched window. craving much more. far beneath her momentous longing she knew that he was right. She gripped him tightly. I want ya. ipo. “Leave your jumper on.only here. Shout at me. Come on.what if someone--” “No.. “There’s straw on the floor. fastening her legs around him as they became one tortuous element of hot energy in a still space of heavy cold. she let her frenzied self cry out his name and heard his soft response. “Oh. perhaps not ..” A bolt of white light streamed through the high snow-framed old glass. Jesus. heightened the agony of being that close. the rich deliquescence.201 he jerked his head toward a stone shed with a small.” We’ll His words were tinged with regret. it turned their quick breath into rising white clouds of vapor.” He eased her down upon his open jacket..” While their partially cold bodies joined in heat. “Oh....anything.” The pale blond straw was fresh and sweet beneath them as they pulled off their gloves and tugged at their clothes. “Ah. ipo. first time she encountered fully the translucent mahogany grain of his eyes.only here with me. that to wish for or acquire even a partial revelation of the mystery behind the windows of the eyes was to finish something.for either of us. The straight For the shaft of dazzle ignited part of this man having her. discover more than enough. unfathomed.

he leaned away.” Forward deep inside she felt a pleasure that was so excruciating it was almost a searing pain..” Their bodies rocked hard into the crunching straw.oh...202 even then. “Hold still.. recovering for a moment until the harsh cold .. the dust of it rising as she was thrown backwards and pinned there in throbbing heat.look at ya. so good. already studied and abandoned as dangerously destructive and useless. I love having ya. “Get your arms where I can.” His hands slid down her waist and pressed her into him until her skin was his. “Will ya tell me if I hurt ya?” “Y-yes.” His voice sounded soft and slow with satisfaction while his fingers held the back of her neck. “Jesus.good. “Ata noho. “Oh God!” Above her. E tino aroha ana ahau ki a koe. “Okay?” “Yes. his thumb rubbing the damp hollow of her throat.. From his brusque response she inferred a similar longing. She wanted it to go on but thought it powerful enough to stop her heart.” They lay back. “I.and.” she managed with gasping voice. eyes briefly closed then opening as he lifted her shaking body up against him.don’t move while I help ya feel this...” “I said I adore ya. head back.” “Good?” “Oh.” Lan said softly.. stroking her back..liked those words..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. and heard herself screaming.

” Lan said. “Are you going to speak a lot of Maori?” “I’m sorry.203 began to creep over them. People Gus and his family managed the Wai They drove through fields of vines in a of various ages began coming out of the big gray house.. *** They had flown up to Nelson and were driving to the winery in a car left at the airstrip for them by Lan’s uncle.” He smiled at her and led her through the cobwebbed heavy wooden door into the cold bright sun.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . then pulled on what little they had removed. shaking his head. looking around. my tau aroha. “What is this for?” Katharine asked.. Lan occasionally staring down at her as if astonished to find her there looking back.” Kai te pai matau.tend to do that more when I come here. but mostly it’s a land of sunshine and good beaches.. Gus.” I’ll . and Katharine put her hands tightly together in her lap. she remotely hearing its warbling winter song. “Just a place where Mary nurses her culled weakling newborns from time to time. gentle rain. Quickly sitting up they knelt to pick the thin golden stalks of straw from each other’s hair and clothing. both silent and lost in the thrall of each other. wehi. Kate. They turned down a long lane and drove up to a large old stone house set back before a stand of Red Beech trees. Reka Winery for Lan. We’re all right. “Don’t be afraid.keeps everything rich and green... arm in arm.lambs who’ve lost their mothers like her newest pet. Need that rain.. his father’s younger brother. try to help ya understand. Lan glanced at her and said a word to himself. They’ll like ya. They walked home along the rushing river. “The wind blows and it rains a bit this time of year in Nelson.

and quite ready to converse in welcome New Zealand English. and she heard Maori words. had done hongi with her. wahina. smoothly planked hardwood dinner table placed in a rimu-wainscoted.” “I know. The You’re fair and it’s four adult children of Gus and Mea sat below. easy to tell when ya blush. but when it’s my own life on review I’m like this. Just stay cool. who had She didn’t provided the winery in which so many of them worked? know if there was any meaning in the seating at all. Green Eyes. Katharine noticed that no one sat at the head of the table but that Gus and Lan sat across from one another at its end.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and eight of their older grandchildren sat at two separate smaller tables. “Just your chemistry. Mea. giggling and teasing one another. . brick-red dining room. isn’t it?” *** They had all greeted her. Gus and his wife. deciding she should save her analyses for some other time and simply let things happen. Pathetic.” Katharine then gave Lan a questioning look. studied her with polite curiosity.” They sat down at a long. Nobody will do anything to make ya feel bad. both with graying hair. When it’s my job I can stick my nose into people’s lives quite easily. She felt a little clumsy and didn’t look at Lan for fear she would encounter a certain keen assessment. You’re mine. but they were polite in that. their eyes twinkling with a slight teasing amusement at her rather shy responses.204 “Will there be hongi?” “Maybe. with which she didn’t want to deal. Gus was saying something to his wife in Maori: “Ka mumura ona papering i te whakama. too. Would this be in deference to Lan.

. Lan was putting food on her plate as the serving dishes went by... “I really have no idea. a different texture. including Lan.. a quick study in pronunciation. she was trying hard to remember everyone’s name. which held for Katharine a lovely earthy warmth. who was now blushing deeply. “Tell him: E whakaaro ana ahau he patai hohore tena.” she said. Gus looked at Katharine and said.” “Oh. Try it. “What did I say?” “Ya simply told him ya thought it was an absurd question. sea urchin. discerning voice. “He ataahua te kotiro ra.. Lan turned to Katharine.” “Lan will teach you only good things.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .can keep myself from starving. Gus laughed and threw up his hands.” maternal dark-eyed Mea offered in a slow. focused on his mouth as he repeated the phrase which she then tried to say. “I’ve. “Kina. does that count?” she added in a soft.” Katharine answered. faintly defensive voice.” and everyone.” Now don’t get yourself in high dudgeon.I’ve helped smuggle food to a starving African village under siege. Katharine.205 With her hands held motionless in the lap of her gray wool pantsuit.. “Nothing. Ya see that excuses a lot.” Lan said. “Oh. “Can she cook?” Gus asked. his flat and robust dark face lined with humor.” Katharine said with a cheerful smile.” Lan said. Then Lan squeezed her hand and winked at her.” .” Good. “He said ya are attractive. Can ya cook?” “I. laughed with great enjoyment.” “What needs to be excused?” Katharine muttered. I’m sorry. “Lan is teaching me bad things.yes.” Katharine smiled. “Kumara. “I’m not. sweet potato. “Yes.

“The men are counting barrels.messy.or bottles. which included some things she recognized: green-lipped mussels.” the young mother called out.206 Katharine lifted her glass of the white wine taken from their own Wai Reka Winery and said.” “They are the best. then got up and stepped slowly around the room.” Mea said. that this pastime was soothing and good for digestion.. Then her eyes fell upon an earlier She stared at his cocky grin.. and colorful salads. fishing in various rivers and lakes.. fascinated. and filled with photographs. opalescent. emeraldedged beauty. Just as they were beginning a conversation about Lan’s father’s childhood. “Here’s to all of you and thank you for this delicious food. eating and celebrating. photograph of Lan. tutua shellfish. . so many of the growing family at work and play.” Everyone drank while Katharine took a sip and stared out over the many full serving dishes.. explained. She was enjoying the pictures.choice. They were both rocking slowly in old.” she said. holding up a shell and admiring its dark. “Nothing too serious. a small dark blue room with a shiny black hardwood floor. laughing and waving her hand. Mea heard one of the babies screaming and went to see what happened.. “Some of the best I’ve ever tasted.. Later when dessert was finished and the table cleared. very Mea had explained to her large and satin-grained wood rockers. Katharine found herself with Mea in a sort of study.” Lan asserted.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Lan was taking other things She tasted and he and putting them on her plate again. there was a loud crash. “I do love these plump green-lipped mussels. fireroasted pork. Katharine sat listening a moment to the voices discussing whatever cleanup was necessary.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat . should they? They might have been far more satisfied if he were with Rani.. Before they left to come here. “May I help?” she asked. Stop this.. Why had Mea taken her into that dark blue room filled with pictures? paranoid? Was it intentional? Or was she simply being Why Thank you. Katharine. and toys. Adored and coddled by her father. Mea moved closer to Katharine and said. “No. said. What had Mary’s mother been like? She didn’t She would seek an opportunity to ask her. or some other Maori woman. know. kittens. her mouth smiling with unmistakable possession. her face turned toward him.” Mea Perhaps they didn’t want her with Lan at all.so . a couple satisfied to be just themselves together. They were all trying to carry on rather truncated conversations. Sticky orange juice. Finished. precisely what a man looked like who was content with the love of his life. but she found it very difficult to obey.. The children were quite apparently foremost in all of their minds. A pain That was spiked through her heart and her knees almost buckled. Mary had spoken of the family with admiration and warmth. how Mary had felt when she met Rang’s family. mopping something up. This time they settled in the lounge.not this foreign Pakeha journalist. staring at Mea bent over the floor. and growing children running in and out. Once again and very swiftly the old insecurity assailed her. the voice inside her head She wondered insisted. intelligent eyes. punctuated by the antics of the children together with their puppies. with the other young women and babies surrounding them. She left the room and went into the kitchen. Mary had such a different childhood from her own. tamariki. “Ah..207 His arm was around an exquisite young woman with long black hair and large moist eyes. her manner evinced a secure sense of self.

love the sound of your language. “Are ya going to learn to speak like Mary? “What?” Katharine asked. “Please. pregnant. fumbling and miserable.” she said. Lan will be thoroughly She could feel the mixture of food she had eaten Her head started a slow beginning to churn in her stomach. bitter half-digested food. and that. “Oh. They thought she was A surge of food rose up through her esophagus and tears streamed from her eyes as she gagged and spewed out acidburning.. She saw two of Gus’s daughters staring at her from across the room. Mea pointed and she hurried off in that direction. the bathroom?” she said. I I wish I could chatter away in There’s an expansive thing about learning a language that makes you a part of. Why is there this gulf between us? she wanted to What Why must she feel as if she were under a microscope? We are all just human beings... Then it happened. for a moment taken aback. She was on her knees over the toilet bowl and could hear the women giggling down the hall. is this? “I like this big friendly house...” Katharine said. Oh God.. standing up with her hand against her mouth.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . disgusted. sounded false. ask. Ya would like that?” “I would.full of wild spirit. like patronizing flattery. it. They bent their heads together to whisper something while a little boy tugged at one of their skirts.208 much life. ... no. stumbling into the massive old white tile bathroom. and in the next few minutes she had seriously begun to think of vomiting. She could feel the back of her head begin that constricting sensation. throbbing.of--” “Yeah. the forewarning of a migraine. too.I would.a part of us. these children. she thought.

the pain in it was so consuming. Ya have to sleep. colorful squiggles of pain writhed on. She awoke with a start. swallowing about a third of the cup. He leaned over the sink.” He lay down beside her and held her in his arms.. “Are you mad at me?” “Jesus. pricks of ice.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..put me in the.just want ya to get over this.209 “What?” she heard a voice say and then Maori words. Oh God. remembered where she was and Beneath her lids the Slowly she drifted off . She was through with vomiting but could hardly stand to raise her head.. sliding down as he caught her and lifted her into his arms. The top of her head was like ice.sorry.” she muttered... Absolutely not.I could... then knelt and wiped her face.” “Can you. he started to lead her out of the room.” “Sorry..plane like this? “No. I’m so bloody sorry ya hurt. He tapped on the door and came inside. to sleep. He held it to her lips and she tried to drink as agreeably as possible.” “Hold me. “Oh... couldn’t speak. Katharine. She regained consciousness lying on a Lan had his massaging fingers in her hair. small pin Shivering. some of them Lan’s. up against him.. Lifting her She wetting a washcloth.” Mea came into the room with a warm cup of strong herbs and handed it to Lan.. she felt a sudden flash of white heat and tried to take a step. “Mea is making ya something to drink.” I could--” “Maybe.” “Doesn’t matter. bed in a dark room.sleep on the plane.” “No..haven’t any pills.” “Don’t think I can. his fingers rubbing at the base of her skull. When the door had closed she said..” “Try at least.

She fled past him.” “Will ya come back in?” “Yes. but saw only the perfect black and white photograph. I want to apologize and thank everyone. Finally they screeched down on the frozen runway.. She closed her eyes. so perfect she could actually grieve for Lan instead of herself.” the room. got into There was no way she could discount .” “Yes. “They think I’m pregnant.. would like to have thrown herself on the ground but heard the soft rustle of footsteps in the grass.just needed some air.. reaching for the bedside lamp. You will never be able to give enough of yourself to have this. resting on a hardwood cabinet one photograph which seemed to resonate with life.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Stumbling over the She grass.. Its perfection had all the You will never have this. and sat up in the darkness. more life than her breathing could ever bestow. inhaling a strange sweet dampness which smelled completely unfamiliar to her. Stealing down the hall she tried a door knob. There was one small lamp lit. “I’m glad you’re feeling better. better. thank you.those herbs were good. the picture seemed to call out to her..” *** Flying back in the early morning she was very quiet. she leaned against the trunk of a Red Beech tree. pretending to sleep. and hoped that Lan would assume she was still recovering. because you are a divided self. that photograph.. through the kitchen and out the back door into the dark night. She turned around and saw Lan standing before her in the open door.usually it takes a long time. There was no one else in She heard bursts of laughter. then another and she was back in the dark blue room of photographs. Lan’s shadow stretched toward her in the lights from the house. power to censure and accuse.210 whispered.

disaster. letting the anxious words flow against Mary’s dressing gown.something happened.love.. She uttered a I Poor Kate.. running wild. took a single long swallow of the strong black tea and thought a moment.” “It’s amazing to me that ya can go around the world and nearly die of it but not face up to what ya feel here and now. take a sip of my tea.” Katharine lifted her head. almost falling on the steps while Lan shouted.and.. Mary sat patiently stroking her hair. I think they wanted me to know...211 the Rover and crunched over the snow.but I can’t. no. “Careful... laughing with them. yes.. “Here.” regretful sigh.. like a frantic child with a bleeding wound in search of its mother.. “In the beginning it wasn’t so bad.. I thought I could. to No sooner had they come a stop then she had wrenched open the door and raced inside. really hoped they’d like me.and that was the end of it. but I was Rang’s only wife and quite headstrong with the daring of my deed.. liked them all and. want so to be liked.” “They understood. She found Mary in her bedroom having tea before a crackling fire. When I saw the photograph of the two of them. Katharine. Mary.. girl. and dropped down with her head in Mary’s lap. Then I got a wretched migraine.not until Lan... “It was easier when I did it... I can’t..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I knew I’d lied. but then.I never knew what it was. complete... ya “I was eating the food.loved.. who--” “Ya don’t love him then?” “Oh God.. Kate!” She went through the great house room by room..” Mary said. .. “I did have a bit of worry with that first visit.could do this. I’m not the person so beautiful.was thoroughly sick. Your imagination is Ya have such strong feeling that--” “Oh. Mary.

and how can I blame Mary’s door burst open.” he said. yet. yeah. they thought ya were pregnant.. He set her down on the bed.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Her thoughts were in a jumble. “All right you’ve had your tea and sympathy. heading straight for his bedroom. And I wish .and. accident your girl was in.” he said as he walked out with Katharine in his arms. talk to ya later. Mea told me: ‘She has plenty of common sense.” with your bloody great imagination. rubbing her temples with extended fingers.. “If I didn’t love ya so I could almost choke ya to death. to God ya were. Lan stood there staring at both of them.’ They thought your green eyes were fascinating. and you’ve got to consider that too.” “Thank ya.except that part of this is my own fault. ya do? Ya understand that? They thought ya were smart and beautiful and polite.212 I know ya aren’t a coward. his face displaying an obvious and fuming agitation. Lachlan. tona atamai. them after--” They Have ya no more faith in They don’t like me. don’t want me anyway..” She lowered her head and sat in confusion. They were bloody sorry ya were He tino nui They thought I was damned lucky. dragging Katharine from Mary’s lap and lifting her into his arms.. I understand why they don’t want you to have me.nearly as much as I do. Lan. “Now it’s my turn.” “Oh.. crook as a dog..” “Careful now. yourself than this?” “Just more proof that I’m no good at a private life. mother. Ya know she isn’t completely well That was a terrible I do think her head’s still confused. ran his fingers slowly over her throat and said.” “I saw what really--” “I know what ya saw! Ya saw the past and set it blazing This is the present. “Oh. girl.

” “Right.” “Are ya worrying about something again?” Lan asked.” “Rarotonga? That’s way north in the Cook Islands. “Oh. Mary knows it too. and I should have seen it. Ya need to lie in the sun and do This has nothing.” IV “You could go round and round on this little green jewel in the sea until you were dizzy.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “I’m taking ya away to Rarotonga. their force broken by .213 Never had she felt so bewildered. “Please pack a few light clothes.” he said. holding her face in his hands. Small waves lapped Round and round one way and then The poor bus drivers must go out gently up over the smooth shore incline. aren’t well. shifting in his beach chair and reaching for his Steinie. her eyes wide with disbelief. hear nothing but wind and water and birds. better. I have a place there. all been too much for ya. damned good at living with misery none of us have fully understood what you’ve been through. vacation there.” Lan said in a softer voice. Lan. You’re not over any You’re so of what happened to ya. Very relaxing. Katharine dug her toes into the warm beige sand and stared at the startling shades of aquamarine water. Ya I realized it flying back. making flight reservations from Auckland. and that’s what I’ve been doing while ya were talking. round and round the other way. if ya have any. a Margaret told me you Kiwis like to dependency of New Zealand. of their minds. She looked up at him. I just didn’t--” I’ll be “My Green Eyes. please don’t send me away right now. Ya need to heal. If she were truly that mistaken then she must really be in a distracted state.

. Out on the reef’s edge waves boiled up in a line of high white foam. and felt a little Watching Hmm. Ya can’t get rid of them..” “They’ve always been here. “Avarua is the kind of town I like. They arrived late at night. so tiny I could hardly see them.” They had departed from the airport without even going into Auckland first. almost transparent. Don’t even try. what if I tired.” She observed that Lan got up rather quickly and followed her into the water. whitey. blue.. yellow.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . and with no time to buy anything. it’ll mellow out. On the plane Ya make those plain swimming togs Katharine had read a magazine and dozed against Lan’s shoulder while he studied profit and loss statements from his accountant. No problem making up your mind about fashion. There were small colored fish. and silver and black striped ones darting all around them. she felt happy and playful. realizing that her lungs needed more exercise. The next afternoon Katharine had gone into town with Lan and done some quick shopping. Katharine stood up. look flash.” Lan said. went straight to the cottage and slept. “This morning there were thousands of ants on the kitchen counter. She swam out to the reef.a few miles down the road and there is very nearly the only store with a suitable suit. hadn’t found one?” “I’d have enjoyed that. splashing into the sky and crashing down with a constant roar.” “No. swimming toward her with powerful strokes. straightening her new navy bathing suit. laughing and swilling his beer.214 the distant reef. She rolled over and lay on her back. Lan’s dark body in the clear water. “The scar on my leg isn’t so bad.” “I’m going for a swim. but so many they could carry the place away.

215 staring at huge white cumulus clouds fastened to the horizon.” “I’m covered with lotion. Aren’t you embarrassed to be seen with this pale creature?” “Seen by whom? There’s no one around. your eyes are like the water. doing whatever needed to be done in the most natural and direct way. Ya smell like a coconut cocktail.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . When she had rested awhile in weightless drifting. “You keep referring to my floury skin. my hot little sex object. remained kneeling. His fingers slid over her as the hot sun beat down on them. That’ll be fun.” “Good. dried themselves and went inside. pulling her suit away from her breasts to wash away the sand. She loved to study him closely when he wasn’t noticing. “A white sea nymph.” In the shallows she stood up and shook out her hair.” Under the outside shower nozzle her oiled skin beaded as she rid herself of salt water. Lan surged up from beneath the water and held her by the waist. trying to get out of her clinging wet suit . Turning over she stretched out her arms to him. Lan flung his head back in a spiral of spraying droplets and stripped water from his arms. she rolled over and started back. looking at her.” She lay on her mat while he slathered lotion onto her body. “Let’s go inside. giving her a slippery wet kiss. Need some more lotion or you’ll burn like toast. They grabbed the huge striped beach towels flung over a chair. “Want something to drink?” Lan asked. Whether observed or not he was never self-conscious. “God. She walked away. motionless. swinging open the door of the refrigerator in the dark-green-tiled kitchen. I love your skin.” He glanced toward the He dark orange stucco bungalow nestled in the rippling palms above the sand.

You’re on holiday. he grasped the suit and pulled it down away from her cool body. Lost in this disturbing recurrence she was surprised by Lan reaching over her head and sliding the paper out of her hands. ya oily sweet wahina. kissing firmed nipples and stroking his hands over her as she shivered in the sultry heat. that dark moist flesh her entire boundary as they tangled together atop the flowered coverlet on the bed.” “If ya could see your face you’d know why I don’t want ya reading that gloomy gore. right now I feel so happy “Lock me in your castle? . Lan. *** Katharine. Lie down.” “I was thinking of a family in Khan Yunis. Kate.” “Cool damp skin. guava juice. What can I do with ya?” Lan. please. isn’t it?” “You’re the only one who has ever made me want to stay forever in the present moment.” His body was hot to her touch. Grinning at her ongoing struggle. attention. glass-topped bamboo table. browsing through a newspaper where she came across reportage of another severe flare-up in the Middle East. She reached for the juice and drank with his fingers sliding over her pulsing throat.216 and calling out. of--” “When you’re there ya want me and when you’re with me ya want to be there.” He came into the shadowy bedroom with the juice and set it on a low. “Where in bloody-hell did ya get that?” “Even in Rarotonga they receive bad news it seems. Ah. “This is really good for us. lay in her beach chair.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I’m spoiled by all of this I’ll keep ya in the present moment. calm now after a week of rest and lovemaking. “Yes. solid and faintly salty against her mouth.

looking into her eyes. Kate. my Green Is that what ya want?” “You would... I don’t want to be anywhere else. “Do ya know it isn’t all a crusade with ya? has been trying to run away from me since the beginning. You--” It I’ll force ya into nothing.I hope. at his very serious expression. “No. be a concerted effort to--” “Katharine. Eyes? Do I let ya keep running then.217 with you.” “I can’t think that way.” “What would you do if I went away. do ya want any life of your own?” “Yes. The more the world knows about There has to Ya won’t get very much in that situation the less it will tolerate. staring at his brown hand It will. would ruin us both. brain. She dropped her gaze. and felt fear spring up. It’s only that I feel a little guilty. the fear of loss. “Look at me.” “Guilty enough to die of it? exchange. but I’m trying to make ya tell me what ya want..” He knelt in the sand and put his hand on her thigh. Life gives ya those. Kate. “You want to give me ultimatums.” She looked at Lan. And what would ya do yourself?” ..because ya think if ya keep moving life won’t disintegrate. Her heart was beating so rapidly it felt as if it were in her throat.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .would just let me go?” “That would never be my decision. Lan?” “Forever? Suffer badly...” She got up from the chair and went to lean against the trunk of a shady palm. It’s moving even faster than your quick A part of ya on her white flesh and shivering with the truth of his words.

Kate?” She responded with sudden disbelief.or. “Mary seems to think you need a.wife?” He cocked his head and laughed. more recently having contemplated those words and yet amazed at the sound of his voice saying them. much required body and laid her mouth against his flesh.a sort of business partner.. The thought of no Lan in her life made her He body go limp.218 She leaned against the trunk. if I wake up?” “Ya will wake up and there I’ll be.or for me. “one who could do this to me. Is that why you’re marrying me?” She offered a playful smile to keep the question from any other implication. knew he could see a force so powerful it could never be hidden or laid aside. We’ll do this bloody life together and Yeah?” I haven’t much choice... .when ya go to sleep and when ya wake up.. Yeah? Marry me?” “Yes. hearing the palm fronds rustle overhead. feeling her knees dug into warm sand and his dark eyes on her..... “I didn’t think the world had a Lachlan Manutane. no longer able to stand without support. pleasure each other in the doing. made her slide down and kneel in the sand. She would remember this day and hour.” “And will ya be reasonably happy in that condition?” She clasped her arms around his solid.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . knelt down too and lifted her chin. “Will ya marry me.. she knew how she looked. Her swimming eyes were filled with the love of him..but what “That’s what it means. staring out at the ultramarine blue of deep sea.. “Be your..” she said in a slow dreamy voice against his shoulder. putting disconnected parts of her together.

deeper emotion when she saw his altered face... peering into touristy little shops with shells. still in each other’s arms.” In the morning they stood at the roadside in their sandals. finally settling at a bistro table on a .wait! I’m all nice and dry now “Just needed a top level employee.. and Gauguinstyle watercolors. Lan pulled her You’re making me crazy all awash here.. you’ve sussed the lay of things.. falling in with her levity. of the benefits. my love. Very soon cottages. Katharine in a yellow sun dress and Lan in shorts and a black tropical shirt. at the bus driver making humorous comments to break the monotony of his endless revolutions. He lifted her up and held her tight against him. a face full of proprietary rapture. shacks.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . developments. “Come on. They walked down the street hand in hand. his mouth sliding over hers until she uttered some small sound coinciding with his complete preoccupation. hedges of crimson bougainvillea. and I’d rather have ya without getting ya drowned. and green slopes of the ever-present central volcanic mountains flew by as they turned to each other and laughed at nothing. no. at the wind in their faces.oh. They sloshed to the water’s edge.but think and. the wavelets lapping at their oblivious embrace. He came after her and dragged her under. pulling him down into the water with her then managing to wriggle out of his careful grasp and swim away. palms. azure lagoons. and slipped down on the wet sand. “Lan? Are you going to. waiting for the circling bus to carry them into the town. Her laughter drifted into a surfacing with her in his arms.” he said. “Let’s get ourselves back to the cottage.” to her feet..219 “Ah. batik prints. white beaches.” She grabbed the back of his neck.” He picked her up and started toward the water.

They dipped their heads beneath broad sun- infused banana leaves and sipped overfull glasses of cool beer. missed you.” Katharine said.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. They know their stuff.” “No.” I’ve She was straining to hear more when a man carrying a pint of beer blocked her view. I do. a leather-strapped watch of the style she liked. Out beyond the reef you Good can find some pretty hefty prey for even a heavy line. rugged tan. laughing and Lan bent to her and said Katharine could just tilting her head back with surprise. aren’t I? McGregor from Chicago. The interloper sat down at her table. When Lan got up to find Katharine a napkin for her spilled foaming beer. Lan. but you have to come.just a small party. “Yes. make out her words. “Mind if I join you? seen you in town. wondering if he was simply being friendly or actually engaged in that old routine of getting to know you. she saw a woman across the deck exclaim and grab his arm. Not many tables available. He laughed heartily at that.220 grayed wood deck. took a swallow of his beer and leaned forward. Haven’t I’d remember that. guides around here. blue eyes.” Katharine drew herself up and angled her head. . “I’ve been sportfishing big time. even amusing. You like this place?” I’m Frank It’s just the right size and shape. I’m talking your head off. “Hey. no rings on his fingers. sandy hair. something and the woman laughed again. and khaki shorts and shirt with bare feet in expensive looking deck shoes. having made a decision to be courteous. A slender brunette with tanned skin. “Oh. and for the moment completely diverted her attention.” Katharine said and was pondering a further comment when the man relieved her of any speculation by going on. He was rather nice looking..

Lan stepped between her and Frank McGregor with a cool smile and said. “Ya haven’t got anything on the line.” Frank said.” Frank stood up and moved near her. “Sorry. was that his first beer. He’s been sportfishing. but he was apparently not a quitter. Huh. “Ah. fella. “Might as well unclench the fist and settle down. McGregor. I don’t give up that easily.” “Then you’re out of the running. mate. We’ll let Mr. she realized. grinning. nor. “This is very amusing.” Frank said. but well built and apparently more familiar with this sort of braggadocio contest than Katharine had thought.221 “Mind telling me your name?” “I--” Katharine said. “About five minutes. Come on. He was perhaps an inch shorter than Lan.” This is Frank “How long ago was that?” Katharine noticed that Frank’s face registered considerable disappointment. I was here first.” Katharine and Lan left Frank McGregor sulking over his . only happened on television soaps. Lan. sport?” not when I’ve got a real trophy on the line. mate. and ya won’t be catching any fish tomorrow. sit down. “but I sure will miss those green eyes.” “Oh for heaven’s sake. because when I scrap it’s for results not appearance. McGregor get on with his sportfishing. “Yeah?” Lan said.” The narrowed eyes leveled at Lan for a moment. Lan. “Yeah?” Lan said. Frank. what the hell. “She isn’t wearing a ring. but Lan had sauntered up to the table. raising one eyebrow and remaining on his feet.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . to swordfish. mate.” Katharine tapped her fingers on the table. I really thought this sort of thing I think you’d better stick I’m through with my beer.

is still burning. some of them ego..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Hmm.” “I’m sorry. and walked down the street in silence.” “Yeah. I guess I just don’t move in those circles..222 beer..” Lan turned to Katharine. grinning.. I think so.” “I didn’t mean to.I guess. if you’re in the human race you’re always moving in those circles. reasons. thank you...” “Yeah... “Oh. “Ya didn’t have to encourage the bloody wanker.I just thought he was being friendly. My.” “Oh.” “Yes. took her arm and gently backed her against a plate glass window while his still enlarged feral black pupils held her firmly.my husband slapped me around but I doubt that he would have fought anyone else for me. “Very obviously an old flame. Patricia Leonard.” “I knew her once. Were you really going to..” . from her point of view. he probably would have.one that. “Who was that woman?” Lan thought a moment. that.. I hope it’s simple I’m not crazy about scrapping over ya like a possession.” “What does that mean?” he asked.well. They stopped at the corner and Lan said.. We do that for various With me.... he was. his mind clearly in the process of switching subjects. but I’m bloody-hell not letting any pissed bastard put his hands on ya. protection. I really couldn’t believe.” “Okay. and said.do something?” I’ve had enough practice with wankers like “Bloody right. I’ll try and remember that. “Sweet Green Eyes.Patsy.

sit up on the deck and have lunch. clasping the pendant and smiling appreciatively at Lan. scrap over ya. Nice breeze on the water and I’m ready for a bit of tucker..” They were soon standing at the counter of a rather upscale jewelry store. the men holding remote controls.” “No. about this ya don’t have to think. try this on your ring finger. “Here. Let’s go over to Trader Jacks. Then I won’t have to You’ll be doing me a favor.” “Kate.” “You’ve already given me a lovely jade pendant.. Katharine stood with quickening heart while Lan took the ring from the smiling male clerk and lifted her hand. please.it’s something very nice.223 “I’m sure. Green Eyes. my choice little possession.” While they were drinking their beer and waiting for their food they observed two men standing below on the beach. diamonds. merely walked along staring at hibiscus blossoms across the street. “Lan. are ya jealous?” He was laughing. guiding a pair of authentically equipped miniature sailboats over the gentle waves of the small .” Right? Let me see that pearl ring with the Lan tapped the glass counter. “Come on.. He laughed at her engrossed antics. I’m going to buy ya something.and for which this place is famous. “Wait a minute. She would have to show up in my town.” Upon leaving the store Katharine nearly stumbled as she studied her new ring from various angles.” “And now ya have a black pearl pendant.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. and Lan was fastening a chain holding a large iridescent black pearl set in white gold around her neck. She didn’t answer. Lan. making watchful adjustments of her wayward steps.” “Yeah. “If you’re trying to make me feel good it’s working. I don’t think--” “No.

walking right up to their table. you beautiful little babe.” “I’m ready for you.” “Rack off.” Lan suggested. standing up and throwing his money over the check. Just as they were finishing their pesto fish sandwiches and beer. Frank McGregor drifted in with a telling swagger.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . As they walked through the graveled lot. you want emeralds those green eyes. After a while the men brought their sturdy little boats to rest on the gravelly shore and stood animatedly talking and smoking.” Not nearly enough to fully appreciate Frank . she began to look around. McGregor. Kiwi. “Happy as two little boys. from Trader Jacks she had to sit down on the weather-beaten steps of a large old gray building. Except I’d have bought her a great big emerald to match You want the real thing. “Go haul on a ton of northbound marlin and leave us to our pleasures. fella. and Lan was laughing right along with her. nice pearl showpiece on your pretty little hand. kia orana. Isn’t that just dandy? He’s got you a Smart move. They heard the bilious Frank McGregor hurling steadily more indistinguishable words after them as they left. Katharine began to laugh.” Katharine remarked.” “Look me up when you’re not off yer face. mate.224 harbor.” “Not enough. I like cheap T-shirts with local names on them.. Do they have any with fishes?” How many beers did ya have? I wasn’t When her laughter subsided “Are ya drunk? counting.and fishes..” Lan admonished. you come with me. “Oh. “Well. which looked like a barn but turned out to be a T-shirt store. Very soon she had tears in Not far her eyes. heading toward the bus stop.

a day I’ll never ever forget. today.. Green Ya can cart them back to Enzed as a strange reminder of how not to get engaged. otherwise.. Mary. but Lan won’t tell me what I’ve done if I happen to wake him. I’ll buy ya a stack of T-shirts. But. Kate. Eyes. tea. Mary. darn it.” “He likes ya in your natural state is the proper way of putting it.225 “Let’s go inside. I suppose..” “Oh. think I’ve actually been moaning or muttering.putting my foot in it.oh. drawing clenched fingers over her forehead with mock seriousness.” Katharine said.. “Why I think ya do have a bit of a tan..” “Oh dear.or whimpering. that.” “Why not be trying for a nice little evenness? suppose writers have a difficulty with that. I must be in a manic phase. a silly and shallow one at It’s been a sort of roller coaster.” But I “I should think the serious ones barely have any idea of it.” I . things going round and round in my head with no form of expression but fragmented distortion. I probably shouldn’t be drinking this I’m more nervous than usual.. he wouldn’t want ya looking And there I go again.” Nothing could bring me down “Apparently. It’s the sudden changes in your life doing this.. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. white.” *** Mary was leaning over Green Braes’ kitchen table while cradling her brick-red and white porcelain tea cup in both hands and studying Katharine. This is one of those memorable days. Lan likes me “It doesn’t matter... If ya were Maori. Lan..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . As for myself. I’m dreaming those detestable dreams again.” “Somewhat.precious to me.” “Ya do look at sixes and sevens.

beneath which were slight dark circles. Middle Eastern horrors had translated into electric impulses shooting through her brain. and with Lan gone it’ll help to fill your nights. too.” “All right. You should She was painfully convinced that her selfish happiness had precipitated a reverse outpouring in her dreams. not have left us. stroking up through her hair when she knew she had been crying out in her sleep. tea. wave of her hand.” Mary said with a “We’ll have plenty of time to chatter over not well enough to travel with him or assist him in any way with his work.” With visits to the winery. Come back and share this with us. the restaurant. She thought of the recent times she had felt Lan’s hand on the back of her neck. But please let me know if you need any help you think me capable of giving. “Put me to work. He still considered Katharine Now off with ya. Katharine. war. certain she was vexing Mary with the ups and downs of her fluctuating nature.” “I think ya capable of doing most anything. Mary. but ya need to engage your mind. calling her back to scenes she had not meant to escape in such a drastic manner.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Blood-spattered hands reaching out to her. Having felt the need to bring up her dreams Katharine was experiencing a sharp twinge of guilt. here?” “Everything that needs doing is being done. Lan had been gone a week. Katharine was experiencing once again what it was like to sleep alone. to write and think and go about a daily routine without interruption or the emotional interplay of a . I’m off to my computer then. Your work isn’t finished.226 Mary rubbed at her gray-blue eyes. I think ya Can’t I help do something around should work on your novel. Explosions. and the stud farm.

She was restless. Kate?” “I...” “Ya do. Within this temporary solitary existence there was a gaping exclusion: the habitual demands of a profession which had now become dormant. Lan?” “Tamaki-makau-rau -.it’s just a selfish thing. When her eyes grew tired she paced. an unpleasantness that made her set to work especially hard on her novel. but she knew that her trust in Lan and her respect for his sound judgment must also be manifested by patience.. I’ll be home tomorrow I’ve All the legalities have been taken care of. Green Eyes?” “Do exactly what you intended.” “I’m deeply ashamed of myself... been hoping a long time for this.” She heard the regret in his voice. “No..feeling like I’ll be on display. It was her nightly call from Lan.wanting to be only with you and Mary. In the evening after tea Mary called her into the study. What shall I do..” . I’ll smile at you and It’s your own wedding. without that engagement she felt adrift and aimless. handed her the phone with a nod and a smile and left the room. The usual assignments which came under Alone and her purview were placed on hold or turned down. Do ya mind. evening.no.” “Ya have a right. Please forget that I said Mea told me they’ve everyone else with no difficulty at all.227 paired life.” “They do love a bit of celebrating.. anything at all. It was incumbent upon her to agree with him in considering her still in recovery. arranged for a family ceremony at the meeting house near Nelson.Auckland. “Where are you.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .

“Lan just told me that we’ll be going up to Nelson for our wedding ceremony.. She simply couldn’t last How quickly it all. “Kate.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . . isn’t it? this long. ipo.228 “Ya are choice.. It seems everyone is looking forward to it.” I’ve still got some Katharine went into the library where Mary was reading by a noisily snapping pine log fire. and I don’t see them that often. have ya no one you’d like to be there at Nelson to share your wedding?” “No. and to burden Mary so.” Mary took up a piece of needlepoint which lay on the lamp table and held it up to the light. “But not so much yourself.” “Home? I like it when ya say that. Why this flood of emotion over events long over? An excuse for lamenting the shortness of her own life? She felt annoyance at her fragility. Are ya resting up for tomorrow night?” “For you.” Katharine averted her face..” “My grandmother would have loved to come.sorry. Lan.. I know she would have adored him.. She turned it back and forth then looked over her glasses at Katharine. half finished pink roses on a sky-blue background. I believe. girl. Our span of life is so short..” Mary laid aside her book and studied Katharine a moment. Good night. running her fingers over folded arms held taut against the soft boiled wool robe Mary had given her.” “Please come home. but it isn’t necessary.sorry. work to do. Oh a few friends in Seattle.” “Don’t get me thinking on it too much. disgust with herself. It’s a long way to come. would have loved to see me marry Lan.” “It’s a shame ya have no family at all.

“Ya wriggled your way into my heart from the first day I met ya. Kate. for all of your loving generosity. most wonderful of all. Kate? ya. with the motor running and the heater on and the radio playing Frank Sinatra. ya clever.and. thank you for raising such an amazingly patient son.. to be especially happy. she . caring girl. with your eagerness to be accepted. When the plane touched down and rolled to a stop. my poor lamb. “I do. Come here to me. I do see why Lan loves You’ll always be a Both of us are Do ya not think?” ya so. I do. After a while. Nestled inside soft sheep’s wool slippers her feet She knelt down and I’m sorry.” Katharine felt a needy childishness overtake her. she gave in to the coddling she so often craved. Slipping back in time as her hair was gently stroked. have a family now. many years. I didn’t mean to upset shuffled slowly across the dark blue carpet. Yes. Lan has told Ya me ya were a mistreated child and I’m heaps sorry for that. A rather large one. and she waved as he parked near the small office. I’ll be a part of that family to ya as long as I’m around. put her head on Mary’s lap.. and how easily I still cry from that damnable explosion. Rex pulled up in a muddy-snow-spattered black pickup. about.. if ya want..so lovely. no matter how worldly and traveled ya are.229 “Are ya crying.. I’ve really nothing to complain I did have my grandmother for It’s just my soppy head. This is a time To me ya are sometimes like a lost child.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Thank you for making me feel so welcome. a desire for release. quite fortunate to have each other and Lan. Mary.especially when I scold ya. concern to me.. How shamelessly adept I am at turning into a deprived child. it’s a part of ya that needs attention.” *** So eager for Lan was Katharine that she drove the Rover to the airstrip and waited there for his arrival.

and Katharine decided to help Mattie in the kitchen. with a mischievous grin..Careless Child Karlene Kubat . But they were a She was restless and unable to engage herself in either writing or idleness. Lan was putting on his leather jacket when she came up behind him. It’s too “I’ve been A waka is any form of transportation from an auto to a kayak. Maybe I should go away more often. Green Eyes.. I need to talk to Rex for just a minute. take my laptop and get back in the waka.” When they had eaten Katharine’s zesty macaroni casserole. They started back along the snowy road in the shadowy blue dusk. “Tena koe. sorry.or whatever. she wanted them to have that time.probably won’t even make you sick. “Haere mai.” Did ya drive over here?” “Here. speaking a lot of Maori lately. “Are you hungry? “Ya have? I’ve fixed you something to eat.. ya cheeky wahina.” I’ll eat whatever it is. yeah? “Yes.” she teased. I’ve missed ya.. Despite her eagerness for Lan. who had already taken her meal. the smell of his leather jacket delicious to her as it creaked beneath her fingers.230 opened the Rover door and ran over the snow. he went into the library to talk with Mary.” “The waka?” “Oh. made with sheep’s cheese in rich cream sauce and praised by Lan who ate several helpings.” he said. They needed to talk about the weekly business and anything else that occurred to them. What a choice welcome. long time in their discussion tonight. to continue on with the routine normal to them. He reached over and gave her a deep kiss. cold.” she cried. deciding . it’s not going to kill you. brave one.” Very soon Lan was in the driver’s seat. “God. and he turned around and laughed with surprise as she jumped into his arms.” “Well.

too. That must hurt.” “What?” “I.” “No. Kate. “I want Penny to come.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “Me.and I wasn’t even there myself. mentioned that. won’t you?” “Yeah. “too many friends and associates for anything else. I thought at the time it was only a joke. I never talked about it. “I understand about the wedding. “You aren’t going to like this..” he said between kisses.” She suspected Mary’s intervention.” She laid her head against his chest in the steamy spray. Lan. “It isn’t necessary.” “Ah.good to wash the travel off. turning around and leaning against him. surprising her with his desire to talk instead of make love..all the rest on the other side and none of your own to celebrate with ya.” she said.” Ya want that snarky lens-popper at our wedding?” “What? “He came to see me when I was in the hospital in Jerusalem.” he said. then his kiss at the nape of her neck made her tremble.. anyone at all ya want at Nelson I’ll send them airfare.” He took a soapy rag and drew it slowly across her back.. Her head was back and water pouring over her hair when she felt Lan’s arms come around her. “Ya feel like it’s just you. He really is a good photographer...” “He didn’t understand about us..that’d turn it into a bloody piss-up. I suppose he And he’s very unobtrusive . If there’s others noticing no one there.231 to take a warm shower to calm the excitement of having Lan home. and ya don’t want the I’m sorry.. but mostly only family.. and you’ll invite Margaret and Ian. finally bringing herself to say..I promised Cash Taylor he could do the pictures of my wedding.

“Wet as the day I fished ya out of the Hauraki Gulf. she was finally beginning to realize what her own eyes could do to him.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . with a shy. Don’t make me . too.. ending up sitting on the bed. a lazy.. Us. she scrutinized all of what she had been missing.. pushing him back on the bed and kissing his steamy warm mouth. She pulled the towel out of his hands and dove against him. of course.. flirtatious delight. don’t ya. don’t make me scream. it’s for us.232 when he’s working. They toweled dry. Ya know how to My God. wahina.now. “Let’s get out of here. languid. You might not even notice--” Invite the bloody wanker. “Come here.” he said as he worked at her hair. She sat very still above him. Lan. Lan. isn’t it?” “Is it?” “No. I’m crazy for ya. the joy of seeing. watching him yank two large white towels off the linen shelf. warming stare. Falling slowly into his startling almond eyes. Carefully. laughing and holding her by the wrists.right now.” “The talking was your idea.” “Oh. “All right.” he said. Green Eyes? I want in ya. ya strange beautiful thing.and at my own wedding? probably won’t see anyone but yourself. the power of simply looking without blinking. She continued to gaze at him in a thrilling silence until he pulled her down against him.. “Jesus. Green Eyes. her slender white form straddling his much darker skinned body. have me.” she said. Oh. I It’s all I’ve waited all week for ya. with Lan lifting the edge of his large towel and flinging it over her dripping hair. mainly for Mary and the others. We’ll talk more later.” “You won’t--” “Ya think I’m an uncouth sod..

Not tonight.. the hand just touching her shoulder as she thought of the blood coursing through the strong curled fingers.” she whispered.visiting a friend in Devonport.. “The thing ya do. over from.” his sleepy voice informed her. How she needed to give and take in this way.. It’s These walls have heard Mary’s own been an entire week. give and take with the only one who had ever suspended her in the timeless heat of such effusion. wanting him to sleep yet at the same moment longing for another unspoken message imparted from his dark gaze. sweet woman. “What?” she asked after a start of surprise. When he turned over his eyelids moved and she wondered if he would awaken. don’t tease me. Very quickly he brought her to a sensuous feeling so high she neither thought of anything else nor heard anything but his few soft words of pleasure. not even the sound of her own wild cries. “Come on.. “That’s what I first saw ya doing. now seriously trying not to awaken him.” I’d just come I was on the wharf. until he clasped them tight above her.. *** Pink light reflecting off the snow came through the high windows. He threw his arm out. “I want you. Katharine lay watching Lan sleep. . Ya want me?” Her arms rose over her head with a nervous exuberance.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .exploring something with your hands. headed for coffee at the Paneton Bakery.Mary will--” “Bloody-hell with that..233 scream..” “Where did you really see me doing that?” she asked with disbelief. wild voice. “In the shopping center on Quay Street East.I’m so bloody hungry for ya. She ran her palm lightly over his irresistible arm. slowly and with a secretive shiver of pleasure..

so good.Jesus.love--” “Ipo. If she could have answered she would have said there was nothing else..easy.those dreamy eyes went right through me.I love... some time to kill..like “Come here..fondling a red jersey from a sale bin outside a shop in the center. *** Katharine awoke the second time to find the sun whiter and .obviously I did.the center.” “What?” “I wasn’t even going in there......God.nothing in the world which could approach that lofty pinnacle of love. Let’s wake up slow...you must have.. I’d have picked up your jacket.... right?” “Funny. my green Green Eyes.. melting into the buttery warmth their hungrily conjoined bodies generated. Then ya looked up. looked at ya and.. this... We might never have--” I might have found I just had “I don’t even want to think about it. ya later at the Loaded Hog..” “But.yeah?” Her opened mouth gave an affirmative gasp against his shoulder and went silent. Ya held it up to yourself and ran your hand down I leaned against the wall. then all at once her body and brain were flooded with the astonishing. pulsing explosion of sweet pain. it’s so good the way we do this.....234 “What was I doing?” “A. my ipo..nice. bloody fascinated. maybe I ought to thank that rude jerk. Slow this time. the front of it... I’m okay with it.hold still. will it--” “No worries. She was melting..you followed me from there all the way over to the gift store?” “Yeah..just....... I did.” “Oh.” “Lan.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .

not to their cozy shelter but scattering into the snow. it happens on occasion. too.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . in a daze over Lan’s most recent lovemaking.. She was still The excruciatingly joyful details of their consuming encounters were permanently catalogued in her mind. getting into it. “How did that happen?” “Oh. running her finger around the edge of her cup and smiling dreamily.” Mary told her over tea and toast.235 higher on the snow.once quite a hautulu. always going off without a thought of it.” “What about the huntaways?” “They were walking backs in the big pens.” “What a pair we make. We knew he’d return to decent values because we He looks out for others. Kate. a hell raiser. Mary smiled and shook her head with clearly discernible recollections and a vicarious pleasure which made Katharine happy. Retrieval shouldn’t be too difficult. sufficient one.” Katharine said. and Lan gone.. Lan grew up wild as the wildest föhn blowing over the The poor woolies Sheep are not very bright They’ve gone along. happy to spark another’s most treasured memories . I worried that he’d be too much of a loner far He’s a self- more than that he’d meet with an accident.. even in the meanest weather.. another pen. good many mates.has a raised him with so much love. but to think of them in succession would have caused a desire debilitating enough to leave her prostrate. They were being moved to The herder stepped into an icy hole. too..just like yourself. animals. but there are still his sooky times.. plain. as his father said it. “He’s ridden off with the men to look for some missing sheep. “I do think he needs to be out there sometimes. lost his footing and off that little batch went. are no match for those clever hounds.

” Katharine said. Kate.Katharine couldn’t eat -. swirling the Scotch in the steaming mug handed him and then taking a long swallow. never think it.” .” Katharine said. “You’ve been gone all day without any food. then threw themselves before the fire and stretched out. They snorted and stared up at him with wet-matted coats.” “Why not? It’s late.and still Lan had not returned. Again she had to admit that the explosion in Jerusalem had increased her fears a thousand fold. after doing anything to harm himself.” “What about yourself?” he asked. “Ya should have had your tea.236 with the prevailing mood of her own passion. a bit embarrassed at her foolishness. I learned to get over He’s not Lan knows the plain. Lan had shaken the snow from his oilskin hat and coat and hung them in the sun room. In another quarter of an hour the unruly huntaways Sheb and Wooley bounded ahead of Lan into the lounge. “I haven’t eaten. “I’m a bit knackered from the saddle and I could eat the shelves of a dairy clean. appearing to understand a frequently given command. tea was finished for Mary -.” Lan answered with a grin.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “Bog-standard hunting sheep.” Lan warned his dogs. “Don’t shake yourselves in here.” “Mary’s eaten. that anxious state long ago. Here’s a measure of your Glenlivet with hot His hands and face were quite cold I’m going to feed you right now. to Katharine’s touch. *** It was snowing. The fire in the lounge was burning high.” “I just thought I’d eat with him. water.

.” “I thought I was sleeping. bodies piled together and strewn over the bloody dust. Kate.” “Come here and kiss me properly first. library.” “I don’t want ya anxious.237 “I thought I’d wait..” “You’re very spoiled. but I didn’t want to wake ya. “We’re talking about my sleep while you’re standing here starving.” “That’s because ya don’t sleep well.. Why don’t you go take a It seems like I sleep too warm shower while I get the food on the table.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .a little anxious. Lan lifted her up and backed her against a countertop. He set her down. moment. and then began to scramble eggs and fry sausages in the generous amount she deemed suitable for a hungry horseman fresh from a day on the cold plain. still with throbbing mouth.” Katharine said.” “Ya weren’t worried about me were ya?” “Just. laying her hands against the buttons of his navy Swannie and rising on her toes to straighten his tousled hair. “Where’s Mattie?” “Mattie’s retired to her room. late.” Katharine laughed and said. cocked his head with a She stood a transcendent wink at her and left the kitchen. *** It was a bleak desert she walked through. many of them in .even with all the exercise ya get in bed. I’d have told ya not to worry Ya don’t sleep very well.. I can do it.” “By whom?” “Me. Mary’s reading in the I’m neither incompetent nor an invalid. kissing her so thoroughly it seemed that she herself had been sipping his Scotch.” Lan followed her into the kitchen and asked.

” “What?” she asked. silence until finally she whispered. legs. her arms half raised.. among them she saw faces she knew. care of this. He led her into the bathroom and held her wrist beneath the cold water faucet. holding her hand beneath the soothing coldness and staring at the tile floor. her head back moaning. She tried to keep herself from Lan continued to hold her in Please go back to bed. Bodies everywhere. her hands dangling.” She dropped her head to one shoulder.” “It isn’t your fault. lifting her wrist where a blue bruise was swelling. having rushed straight from her bed and now looking upon the scene with a worried frown. flying across the room and into a chest.. fumbling and falling.my God. “I don’t think so.. torsos.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . out the door and across the balcony headed blindly toward the stairs.. “Leave it there a minute. raising her head in surprise. I couldn’t. knocking jars. and grimacing severed heads. Maybe some of it’s my fault. mother. raised up suddenly and cried. all the while crying out with revulsion. There A body Oh. wrapping her in her robe. and brushes to the floor. leaning back against the counter and looking at her. then struggling up.238 pieces: arms. “Ya hurting anywhere else?” . “A nightmare.” He picked Katharine up and carried her back to their bed. “What is it?” Mary stood outside the door of her room. wearing her long flannel nightgown.” he said.sorry. “Look at us. I’ll take trembling... “What’s this?” Lan said. combs. and began to weep. Lan caught her at the edge of the stairs and held her struggling body tight against him until she went limp.sorry. that was so bad. mute and ashamed. look at us.” Katharine screamed and rose from the bed. “I’m sorry.

for. my ipo. apprehension. “I’ll never leave you. “I read your novel. Come back to bed and let me tell ya something I should have already said. easier than looking up.. need it back. “Käti ake. Stop it. simple. but it isn’t finished yet. Kate. not ever. Lan.” He dried her wrist carefully. Some of it. That’s how ya see yourself..” “What?” “You’re torn in two directions..the way ya got around the harm done to ya in the past. I love ya. Very quickly he discerned her Ya really are a hard “Don’t be afraid. kissing her temple and stroking her hair. identity.. Kate.. That’s your Ya Without realizing it I took that identity away.as much as ya had written when I left.a while longer. if ya want. your self-esteem. “Ya write very well. almost dizzy.” “What?” She was beginning to shake. when she lifted her head she saw that they were filled with pity.. Over those years of work it was your security.” A fear was rising in her as she lay back against the pillows and looked at him. your fault. I’m not ever going to part from ya.” “Yeah.I’m going to let ya go for a while. easy to look at..” .. I wanted to find out what was coming out of this head. case. Your story “On the flight back I did a lot of thinking. But. the way ya dealt with.if ya need to. I love ya.read it at night when I had time.. I loaded it into my laptop.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . about a journalist is really all about Katharine Gordon... “Please don’t..neither the novel nor your quest to be who ya think ya must be. You can’t possibly think any of this is “He ngakau e hahaetia ana e te whakaaro papa...239 small white octagonals. She felt his eyes on her. it is...” Tears were rolling down her face.” he said.

anyway. But you’ll come back.. At least ya need to know that you’re still what ya worked so hard to become.” I know ya love me. until ya see--” “You fulfill me..” “Ah. arms tight around him. of the river and the plain and musky-sweet growing things. then we’re of the same mind.240 “Yeah.by sleeping peacefully with me.. ever thought possible.. Now all ya have to do is prove it. spicy herbal shower soap. I want to stay here with you. You.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .unless ya want to kill me in the doing. “Don’t be nice.” “Well... the She placed her male scent of him which she found so arousing. when ya finally decide to chase down another story. Now I have to let ya go for the same reason.let ya go until ya suss how to love yourself. back because I love ya so... tau aroha..” “I’m not going anywhere. scents that never seemed to leave him. It was Green Braes that must be in his skin. and these mingled with a fresh outdoor scent hinting of leather and hay and shearling. “Do I understand ya well enough.that it’s not gone.some of the peace ya need: that ya can go on doing what fulfills ya. ya will..” V. That’s what I need to have. Maybe away from me you’ll finally decide what ya couldn’t I begged ya to come decide here: if ya want this sort of life.. just remember this: ya can’t stay away too long or get yourself in harm’s way.. my beloved journalist?” “I think I love you more at this moment than I ever. that you’ll always come back. . wood smoke. You’ve tried so hard to please me I feel some guilt along with all the pleasure of it. my choice little journalist.” Katharine placed her head against his chest. immediately inhaling a faint admixture of scents: Scotch.

Yet the answer was somehow tied Something she had seen up with the unfinished work in Israel.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . just as she would have no other but Lachlan Manutane. she could never be as whole and at peace as she needed to be for herself or for him. how did it work with strife all around that was so much worse . of holing up again and again in barricaded homes in the middle of ongoing war.. there which made her ponder her own condition. She knew only that until she completed that unfinished portion of her work. until she connected the disjointed parts of herself and felt complete while alone and standing still.” she tried to explain to a disgruntled and grieving Mary who only waved her hand in disappointment.” she tried to explain to Mary. the comfort was in knowing that Lan was there for her. “I love him so and I can’t burden him with He deserves so much better.. perhaps even disgust.241 So it was that Katharine went away from Lan to finish the work she considered unfinished. so intertwined with her self. in leaving. This time. Happiest in Lan’s company. that he wished for no other but her. It pained her that she could not even promise to marry Lan. this. and we have to resolve it in our own way. she came to ponder what held a family together. In those lonely nights of writing more Khan Yunis stories. she could barely comprehend how she could go away. and that conclusion did ring in Katharine’s head.” was Mary’s final comment. because Mary was thinking mainly of Lan’s loss.as best we can. “We’ve gotten ourselves into this situation where we know we need to have each other. “You’ve had years to figure it out. The wedding ceremony was postponed until a future unnamed date when Katharine adjudged herself fully in accord with all those tenets for which it stood. It was more difficult trying to make Mary understand. not until she understood this mystery of her nomadic striving.

Oh. a moral recognition that would help bring to an end the carnage.” “You said that to me in a dream once. her tired self unable even to rise from her chair for a glass of water. of It isn’t easy to go.been the cause of anything that happened to them all? The thought seemed so ridiculous. Please Ya can’t She was thinking of Mary. The hatred and vengeance went on. Could she possibly have driven her parents apart. her unseeing eyes cast out toward the Old City. The killing went on. it’s in yourself. No mother and father who struggled together to make a home.. Perhaps not. Perhaps her small contribution. Her ultimate conclusion was that it would never stop until both sides suddenly and firmly ended it with sincere mutual tolerance and respect. was some effect. Mary. what she looked for from her work. One evening in a state of exhaustion. Kate. Her stories continued to win recognition and praise. she sat focused on nothing. her careful depiction of individual lives and their miseries and strivings had made some others see this. .so difficult. understand that I haven’t given up Lan. I claim you I won’t give you up either.. until her redeeming grandmother. no... but that mattered little to her. and from the endeavors of like-minded others. give up Lan so easily and be my girl. and were willing to do so even in the face of death and destruction. Perhaps. back in her hotel room and just having managed to get there before the roads once again closed. “The answer isn’t out there. their last conversation. Her stature in the business was never more unassailable.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . bona-fide acts implementing human rights. and yet the lingering guilt required a solid explanation before it could be expelled.242 than anything outside the violent house of her own childhood? For all those formative years she had no real family.

such beautiful little nodding flowers. it must Had she fallen asleep in her chair? be a dream but. child’s. I wanted to have you and know you. You would hold them up to the sun. Why did you have to hurt me? And you made me believe there was something wrong with me. You hurt me.loved me.innocent. offering nothing. so little of you to keep.. You are my family. but I might have had far worse memories of you.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .what’s your excuse? what you had? I was a good girl. exploding. “But you.. I can remember only the and I’ve wanted you all these years. I suppose.please forgive me. loveliest thing: picking lady slippers in the woods meadow. looking at her in total silence.. mother. Why didn’t you know I Couldn’t you see that? tried so hard to please you. You were good to me in our short time I think you intended to come back and get together. father. You. She was startled to find two figures sitting across the room. straight and rigid as stone..hopeful.243 as my family. I hear your carefree laughter. me.. .please. You were bitter and I could cruel. like a I have your green eyes. so Gran said.” Forgiveness. Why did you I was good. Yes.sick. colliding with the tender yearning inside of her. or I’d be dead too.. My mother.. But you hurt me badly. it didn’t feel like one. rage coming from a volatile place so deep and wild it took a minute to speak. transfixed state.. no.. “I guess it was a good thing you didn’t take me with you. other.. do it? It was you. They sat expressionless. There was nothing wrong with me.. its light coming through their delicate pink shapes. Her rage was seething. I have I think you were beautiful. falling into a half wakeful.. But for what? If only she could forgive herself... she thought. even more distilled. We could have comforted each You hurt me. hold them up and laugh. Mother. half dreamy. well apart from each other: her mother and father.

experience.” Judith said.almost ruined me.wangle for... Home. where Lan was. She had the right. She She had the right to love and She had made be loved.but I’m really tired. Kate.” “Mmm. He .. page-turning style of yours. We’d like some solid pieces on the pros and cons of global trade. thickly padded white floral chair as she watched Katharine pack. untrammeled areas of the planet.244 withstand the beatings but what you did to my mind. You once implied that Jacob was a mama’s boy. “Yes. You hurt me!” I could be but I never believed in myself. *** “I’m sorry you’re leaving.. It was In New Zealand it would be late spring.. Her phone was ringing. and I’m sorry you missed my wedding. She answered.. the garbled cries of rage still echoing in her head.. Katharine.. the effects of free trade on ecologically sensitive. Morris. Kate. Hurt me.. it so.. I wanted to punish you. had the right to her own family. as though a fierce wind of change had swept her mind clean of all uncertainty and indecision. But at least you got to know Jacob while you She was resting comfortably in a were here..” she heard herself saying..” “What you need is a change of scene.turn over the stones and expose the mess beneath in that gripping. something I could never even define. letting her editor ramble on while she considered the dream and its powerful effect.and you’re just the person who can--” “I’m going home. “After that last piece.” her editor was saying.she had made it so.. You sure as hell know how to turn over the right stones.. I wanted to show you how good I never believed. You hurt me. You taught me to hate myself.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “you can probably get what everyone else has to wait for. Katharine awoke with a start.. to fear that others would find out something terrible about me..

” “You mean like yourself?” “All right.. with only Yeshiva students and the destitute. miss you terribly. come on. “Oy vey. I wasn’t certain about your eyes. studying her suitcase as she ran her fingers through strands of hair falling over her eyes. although it has its pigu’a -.maybe a little too serious. Fanaticism reigns in religion The heartbeat of this With only extreme and secular Jews are in a minority.so dedicated. I’ll I don’t think I really knew you well enough in college to fully appreciate your droll self.” “There was less to know.” “You’ve become very dear to me. my friend. And to think that She yanked a poorly folded blouse back out and you would come back to these dangers and take up right where you . Judith. too. You made all of those silly jokes. Where will you go?” “Perhaps Tel Aviv.. we’re even. I’m afraid you’re right.I really didn’t think you were going to marry him.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” “Oh. will you really leave too?” “Jacob and I may have to go. It is getting too Frightened professional people.that is terrorist -. dangerous to live in Jerusalem. I always thought you were a terrific person. One can hardly find anything to joke about anymore. Katharine.” “Oh.245 isn’t at all...” Katharine said.” “I know. “You can’t imagine how happy I was to see you so well restored.. orthodoxy in the ascendant. Judith.my home... I know. perhaps beautiful Jerusalem as we have known it will soon die. refolded it. partake of it?” “Yes. with only bombings and shootings. beautiful old place is slowing -.problems. Judith. educated people are departing. Life is getting difficult. What good is this place if we can no longer move through it..more of my black Jewish humor.

Oh. that mysterious place I’ll probably never see. Judith. needed to finish my work here. get him to--” “What do you mean? You’re a psychologist. focusing on Judith.. rising from the overstuffed bedroom chair and pulling impatiently at her beige sweater. Few would put up with me It was Lan who first suggested that maybe I He understood so well.” Katharine looked up. readily than I understood myself. We never did have anything resembling a honeymoon. Put your I wonder if I could special gift to good use and get him to come.” Katharine stopped her meticulous packing and stood still for a minute. “I know I’m difficult..” “Maybe he’ll be more agreeable when you tell him that a . ‘Ya left your tramping too.hmm.” “What?” Judith demanded..” “Jacob too.after agreeing to marry someone you love that much. thought..more That’s sort of wonderful.would you?. Judith. Yes... yes..” “I’d like to meet this astonishing Kiwi. I really don’t understand how you could have left New Zealand.clever strategy He even seemed to know that I’d come back He teased me..246 left off. Maybe we could--” “Yes. isn’t it? I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a long way and Jacob--” Please.you wouldn’t. What a delight to have you there... “Hmm.. we’ll see.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . gazing off.. New Zealand...’ he said in his irresistible accent. the first time I ran off. “Would you come to my wedding? “Me? Please? Oh.. I’ll certainly have a very enthusiastic talk with Jacob about it. could you?” “I’ve just Ah. for very long.” “We’ll see. boots in my Auckland house..very clever. if you really think.” “Well.

wait.. she hadn’t told him she was coming. I want you there. See ya soon.” An excited Judith threw her arm over Katharine’s shoulder. anything. you surprising little female mensch. Lan. to wear to an embassy party.yes. That was unusual for Margaret. herself driven into town. “Come straight here.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “I’ll tell ya everything when ya get here. and decided she would call Margaret at a reasonable hour and find out. so put yourself in a party mood. Searching through the layers she pulled it out and held it up while her . Katharine got up with a sigh and went to look in one of her suitcases.” *** The plane arrived very early in the morning. where is--” The phone had gone dead. but now I’ve changed my mind. She had been so tired she had not even removed There was a rather exotic green evening dress she had bought in Jerusalem. she checked into a hotel out at the She wanted to be fully rested before she had airport and slept. “I think you’re likely to get your wish.” Margaret said with an excited welcoming voice. She phoned Margaret at once.” “God. Meanwhile. my friend. a slim Asian looking frock with a high collar and short sleeves.. Can he afford to do that?” “He offered to fly anyone to our wedding I wanted and I declined.247 generous Lachlan Manutane will provide you both with airfare. We’re having a little gathering of friends tonight. When Katharine awoke she found that she had slept until late afternoon. either to the Herne Bay house or to Margaret’s. early enough for Katharine to consider it still night. Wanting to surprise She wasn’t sure whether he would be in Auckland or at Green Braes or somewhere else.” “But Margaret. yes. jet lag having thoroughly caught up with her.

Kate.. Margaret.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ...” Margaret soothed.” Margaret pressed her hands together against the tiny pearls covering the front of her white Angora sweater. The dress had a few soft She decided to hang it in the bathroom and let it Looking into the mirror When was the It appeared straighten out while she was showering. I’m so hyped on all this drama you’ve created that now I’m a nervous wreck.and one of the nicest black pearl pendants I’ve seen.. *** When the taxi pulled up to the Smith’s house the windows were brightly illuminated and there were a number of cars parked up and down the hill-hugging curved street. wrinkles.” with excitement. I just can’t believe it.feels good to be fussed over.a little thinner but really gorgeous. last time she had paid very close attention to it? to need a trim.” . “Lan is here.. I haven’t said a I feel heaps conspiratorial. believe your timing..248 face contorted in a wide.. “Think I’ll go to the beauty salon. sleepy yawn.absolutely bursting This is so choice.have a couple of inches cut. The driver carried her luggage to the door and Ian whisked it inside while she paid her fare. word to him.... I’m glad ya got some rest. with a more critical eye she focused on her hair.blow dry a nice soft roll just above the shoulders. so of course we planned a celebration.. opening another I can’t restaurant. What a flash dress.” “Ya look beautiful. “Oh God. Margaret clasped her tight and quickly dragged her off to the kitchen where she handed Katharine a flute of champagne.” she whispered to the face looking back at her.. “Are there a lot of people out there?” “Only about Twenty. “He’s been in town all week.

rather holding in a rising excitement while forcing herself to concentrate on his remarks.” Her expression was apologetic as her hand inadvertently moved over the bodice of her emerald dress and for a moment clasped the glowing black pearl. “Please. Lan offered a quick glance at the green dress to his right then started to say something more. smiled at her. Making her way across the room she stood slightly behind and beside Lan.I didn’t mean to interrupt. looking directly at her.ya didn’t mean to interrupt?” Lan said with an explosion of laughter.. dark-suited man.. “Yeah. surely of Maori descent. Noticing the exchange. folding her arms across her midriff.” Katharine said. we are featuring our wines.” “Yeah.” “All right.249 “Well. There That’s just good was a slight hesitation then Lan turned his head again..” Across from Lan a very focused.. “Hello.” Katharine swallowed.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . brushed her hands slowly down the front of her dress and preceded Margaret into the big noisy lounge. probably because she had just come upon the scene. as if to verify her actual .. He continued to look at her. He’s in the lounge with most everyone else. She immediately saw Lan’s dark head bent a little above the others in a cluster of attentively leaning bodies. business. Here goes. but of course we’re giving the clientele a chance to choose what they want from the usual varied list of high end stock. perhaps the new restaurant manager. walk right in. I guess I’ll just go in then.. “Oh. His jet eyes blinked as his serious expression registered disbelief then softened in a surprised welcome. ya didn’t?.the new manager too.

no longer out of reach.250 existence. “Excuse me. He led her out of the room and down the hall into a small study. cradling her head. then took her hand firmly in his. Lan got up.” She heard the word made soft against her ear. She felt the Simply In harsh transition of mood but was herself imperturbable.” he said to the little gathering. down at her.” “I’m sorry.. the effect of it just beginning to answer a long neglected need. “Perfect. his grinning single focus evoked a gaping interest from everyone.. I thought I was delusional. by the joy of being where she was and knowing what she knew her patience with his displeasure remained impervious.. a flashing reflected glint of her green dress in his eyes. I was wishing for ya and here ya are. after so long made her body begin to tremble. you’ve made this “Can’t believe it. I didn’t know all of this was going--” The force of his exuberance pushed her down upon a nearby sofa until she was almost in a reclining position while he knelt beside her with his fingers threaded through her hair. Her arms came tight around him. Lan. a while he returned and stood looking at her. holding hands and staring at each other. “Jesus. She smiled at this and at having him within the grasp of her hand.the My God.” *** It was late morning and they were lying in bed in the Herne Bay house. While a few whistled and clapped. put on his robe and went into the bathroom.once so far away that even the thought of such distance was now unbearable. Kate. most important missing part. The touch of him Her eyes went He stared from their clasped hands to his rapidly altered face. Her hand smoothed out the turned edge of the gray and white striped top . her mind and body reveling in their deep. night perfect. extended kiss..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .

of--” I’ve thought and thought of this. did I miss something? When did this happen?” You’re so very “It happened.251 sheet while she offered Lan’s stormy countenance a curled mouth of contentment. “Please hand me those pills on the dresser. Do you think I could get pregnant? of you. yanking off his robe and coming to her side.” He tossed them to her and rubbed his hand over his chin. She removed her robe and got back into bed.I know what I’ve told ya but I don’t think I can stand to give ya up again. are ya listening? How much time does it take to I bloody-hell can’t do this.” “Why won’t ya. Lan. You’ve stayed away too long. “Is this a break in your schedule. She saw that her misunderstood light-heartedness would only continue to infuriate him. Lan... “Jesus. She plucked them from the covers and walked across the room.just as you intended. Kate? I’m sorry but I can’t..what. in a self-contained serenity swiftly melting into considerable hunger.. He stood looking at her in speechless surprise.. Kate.” he said. sliding his fingers through his tousled hair in frustration.. making certain that his eyes followed her as she threw them into the waste basket. and directed her gaze to the misty waters beyond the tall windows.or what.. Later I’ll tell you about a dream I had. clever. leaning back against the pillows and folding her arms.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..” learn to love your own existence? Katharine sat up and pulled her silk robe from the foot of the bed.or. “Are ya sure ya want this? bend just now?” It wasn’t my going round the .. “That certainly makes two of us. these? Birth Control pills. and you have a perfect right to all that impatience.. such self-satisfaction.

When they were seated in a private booth at a white-clothed and candlelit table near a corner window. This is smaller and Lan I only . Jesus.. he sat back and said.. smiled. clasping her shoulders and playfully grappling with her laughing. As they walked up to the entrance she was astonished to read the name scripted in gold across the dark wine awning: Fleur des Champs..” he exclaimed. I know what I want. Then the laughter died. He grinned and said. Green Eyes..” The smiling manager swung open the brass-edged glass door and stepped aside with a bow.that I would--” “A small version of yourself. “Your gran was right. unpredictable wahina.. just “My strange.252 “No.” “I remember the day..it’s what ya are to me...ya grew for a while without cultivation and it made ya into a wildflower. little belly? Ya want a sprog in your sweet I’ll give ya that and more.. a handsomely appointed bistro-style establishment overlooking the water and not far from the Herne Bay house. ever remember that? mentioned it briefly that day on Rangitoto..at last. and Lan had ordered drinks and told the manager not to fuss over them.. her pearl pendant nestled in the bosom of a pale green Angora sweater that made the slightly darker green of her eyes even more expansive. dodging body. tau aroha. Once you did tell me you thought it was a good idea.” *** In the evening Lan took her to the new restaurant. Kate.” “But how did you ever...give ya everything. his voice thick with arousal...but only if you want it. “My other place is big and noisy.every detail of it..home. enjoying her as she assessed the room with a roving discerning gaze. hold still and let me love ya.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Katharine wore black velvet slacks.

oh...” “Well.” “I mean one that would go with a wedding ring?” “This would go with a.. the night is just a chit.” His appreciative dark eyes burned into her heart.a wedding ring. “Do ya want another ring?” Absolutely not.the etched glass is a nice touch. However ya want it.all the necessary fittings polished and gleaming. I’d like to have it the way you want it.. love pleasing you.” “And I’m thinking the same..... If we’re making anklebiters we’re definitely going to do that.” He lifted her hand and studied the diamond-encircled black pearl. that’s why I’m asking ya.” “I know that.sort of a marvelous extension of Waiata Reka. wondering how she I I nearly always know what ya mean.. Lan..” “Is the wine good?” She held her goblet of wine up to the candlelight to enjoy its ruby glow. What do ya think?” “I like the décor: burgundy and black. Kate. that rich mahoganygrained paneling. loyal. I prefer your wine. She had “Very good. Green Eyes...” “I know what ya meant.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. one way or another we’re going to do it.like you... I’m quite Very an overwhelming desire to kiss his wry.. smoothly relaxed mouth... “Careful...253 intimate. Her eyes told him this but he only grinned and said.. sophisticated but warm and friendly.” “I meant.. . Why would I want another “Another. Are we going to do that? Go up to Nelson and.and do that?” “Yeah..the ceremony. ring? I love this ring.” She looked at him and was suddenly shy. it’s such pleasure..like your cheeky self.uncluttered and elegant.more class.

“My grateful compliments to the chef.” “Well. unappreciated.” he added with a wink.” “What?” He lifted her hand to his mouth... For a time just Oh. mine is yours. that you’d--” “I’ll give ya an account at the bank and ya can take care of it yourself.. wrinkling her nose and . “Good. “I don’t want ya hesitating with me.I’m afraid I told Judith. newly married. “Earn my.. Katie Green Eyes.. ya can do as much or as little as ya want. have more freedom to create in his own close domain...there’ll be plenty of opportunity. grass butter was delicious.” “I like to help others. What’s You’re a part of everything I have. Kate.. I. A husband too?” They’d love to see New Zealand.. wahina. “Just the way I like it.” Her bluenose bass basted in lemon Their food arrived. yourself before we leave.254 could tell him what she had said to Judith in Israel. “Lan..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .with your good head.” She looked up from her plate.” “Yes. Aotearoa never disappoints the manuhiris. How is the venison?” Ya can compliment the chef I found the clever bloke languishing I think he’ll in a resort kitchen on Rarotonga..” “Good on ya. my friend in Jerusalem.but I might make ya earn your keep.” “Now that I think of it I should be the one to pay their airfare. A heap of opportunity for that too. to do?” “Bloody little if you’re growing a sprog.. Later. “Ya are paying it. businesswise.” His face registered surprise. is this an interview? What would I have look at me and smile and tell me when I’m veering off course.

. not far from their camp above a hidden beach cove in the Nelson region.” He arched an appraising black eyebrow. rubbing it across her cheek. Let’s have dessert at home. caressing him with her eyes. you really do love the way ya wrinkle your nose. “Jesus. and said after a soft ruffle of laughter.” he said. gliding over the opaque green shore waters along creamy-white sand beaches and into jewel-like azure coves nestled in black lava. adding a slow thrill to her suggestion. We haven’t had dessert.” “Here’s to the two of us. Ya know I Are ya “Canterbury cowboy. Lan. a wood pigeon. don’t start that again. touching his glass to hers. “To Lachlan and Katharine Manutane.” She smiled and lifted his hand.255 teasing him with her eyes. the only species that belongs here. or high above tramping along rugged winding trails with spectacular vistas and strange bird calls. Once they heard beating wings like a soft drumming and looked up to see a rather large whitebreasted and green-headed bird resting high on the limb of a rimu. a red pine.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . tramping and kayaking Abel Tasman National Park. having my name?” “Katharine Gordon Manutane. Katharine Gordon. amaze me. yeah?” *** They were walking hand in hand on the golden sands of Kaiteriteri Beach. “Kereru. “Fewer calories and a lot more satisfaction. .but I like it. Yes. “What’s that?” Katharine asked in a hushed and fascinated voice..” she responded. I like your name. For three days they had been “Just a little coffee.” “Ya say the wackiest things.

still good with that intention?” “No worries.” “I wanted ya.” beneath her waist. I’m glad ya like to do it.” Sort of a loner like you.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .” Katharine was watching a sloop unfurl its sails against a cerulean sky as it rode the blue-green water of the bay.256 Beautiful. Green Eyes.the beginning of what’s between us.. sooner or later I always have to bond with nature somewhere. He slid his hand “I want to know as soon as ya find out. Lachlan Manutane? How about yourself.” “What a lovely thing.” she said.. ya little imp...remember? yet but ya would. sun-defined body shone with the warm color of richly creamed coffee. “You were so sure of yourself. but I bloody well like the idea of my offspring growing here. “Yes.when I first kissed ya at Margie’s. “The sand beneath these happy toes is truly golden. “I’ve gone off alone in the outback since I was a little anklebiter. laughing... I’d thought Ya Suddenly I was thinking of two. How do you wish to be addressed if you find yourself in the role of papa?” “Ya can tease all ya want. of only one for so long. camping out in the wilds of our station and every other bloody place in Enzed. Kate. Two nature-loving loners. Preferably after the ceremony so ya won’t be chundering .” arms. The skin of his sinewy.didn’t ya?” “I guess the very first time I looked at you.” “No. knew it then too.. as you like to say. “Is this all real? She spread her Why didn’t you tell me?” I said ya hadn’t seen anything “I did tell ya..” “And that was the end of the matter.” Are ya “And one choice day you’ll be thinking of three. yeah? Like your eyes at night the iridescent green.” She stepped back and stared at Lan in his bush shirt and shorts and bare feet.

family problems. screaming with the shock of it.that means laid off. love it here. but New Zealand has its problems: not the greatest economy. struggling up drenched and with streaming wet hair. Mr. not always the highest standard of living. doesn’t work that way. “Oh. It’s one of the reasons I take pleasure in at least putting a few people to work. “Don’t say paradise. Yank. Dodgy characters like everywhere else. although on a smaller scale. grabbing her up and striding into the water. “I’m not living in a dream.” Lan exhorted again. You mean thing. Your hair is a tangled mess. and found herself flung into the water. having just removed her squishy boots and now searching through her backpack for a comb. Watching the water swirl up and spill over the bubbling sand. Manutane. alcoholism among the unwaged. Katharine was kneeling on her sleeping bag. she cried out.” “Good on you. laughing and lifting her dripping hair away from her eyes.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . but you see I’ve been in such far worse off places that to me this looks like--” “Don’t say paradise. “It’s only because I like taking wet clothes off ya. This entire country is--” Granted our nature is wonderful to behold and this looks like paradise to the manuhiris.” “But why wouldn’t you love to hear me call this beautiful land of penguins and palm trees paradise?” she asked.” In a desultory manner they were approaching a goldenfloored cove angled back into high black rocks.” he said.” she cried out. It If ya say paradise I’ll drop ya flat in and turn your clothes into swimming togs.” . “Oh. with social programs slipping away and redundant workers -. With very few words they had put on their boots and hiked thoughtfully back to their camp.257 breakfast on the day we marry. I love it. death on the motorway. I didn’t think you would. ya little rat. “Look at ya.

that it was like being tossed I was teasing ya. They were in a private sheltered area beneath a grove of ponga ferns. peeling away her shorts and kissing her shivering breasts.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . let me--” You.” .” “No I’m the sorry one.258 “Your fault.sorry. I will.” “Don’t touch me..” “No. ya stroppy little wahina. “Oh God. Hastily undressing he grasped her shoulder and rolled her supine body over.. Here. Before she sank into the unabashedly erotic oblivion she had come to crave.” he assured her.” off a bloody boat. what am I doing? I’m sorry. Cocking his head. for Christ’s sake? She lifted her head and looked into his eyes.” she suddenly cried. “Let me. “You’re not thinking. Lan..” “Now you’ll never--” “Yeah. staring at chinks of bluest sky through the lacy spiraling dark fronds. Kate. big silver tree ferns nearly ten meters high. ipo.... the water. She lay back a little nervously. my trusted companion. unbuttoning her shirt.” “Yeah. She smiled Thiaz na one heeya. speaking in the low voice she had come to recognize as highly aroused.” she said slapping at his hand. “On your tummy..” “Not too serious. at the emphatic accent in his voice. hovering over them like giant umbrellas. his questioning jet eyes narrowed in surprise. you threw me into “Get away. “There’s no one here but us..” He reached for her. she glanced in all directions with an habitually modest caution.I’ll help ya get your clothes off. I’ll go right on teasing ya and you’ll bloody-well have to bear up.

She moaned Turn your softly and tried to raise herself enough to keep her head turned into his kiss. could send a woman into wild paroxysms of joy. balanced form eased down upon her in a slowly choreographed cadence. rhythmic.. very good.make ya feel very. Turning her head back to focus on his dampened face. “Ya aren’t used to G spot orgasm. She felt a shivering thrill as his firm warmth came against her coolly damp. making himself weightless. deep . an action which elicited from her a questioning look. “Going to get us both wet now.259 He grabbed the pillows from their opened and layeredtogether sleeping bags. They were headed into the feverish rhythm of steadily intensifying pleasure.” She rested her chin on her folded arms and asked.. “How do you know that?” “I want ya to enjoy this and I’ll see to it. The weightless. As she yielded to the inflaming touch of his coaxing mouth his long. the prosaic position linked with it unimaginative and faulty. “Choice position. He smiled at her with teasing eyes and said. His hungrily anticipating expression broke into a soft grin. her arousal deepening with his allusion to the incredible Gräfenberg spot which. head a bit more so I can. my love. she found his limpid eyes swimming with her. my tau aroha.yeah. “Okay?” he softly intoned. That first night I changed the sheets before I joined ya in the shower. when properly stimulated.” He raised her up and slid the towel-covered pillows beneath the joining of her thigh and abdomen.. locking them in to ecstatic heat. then stretched out above her.Careless Child Karlene Kubat ..” Her flushed diffidence dissipated. elevated backside. throwing a large doubled towel over the pillows. Until Lan its reputation had been only wistful conjecture.” Lifting her hair from her eyes he lowered his head to the side and kissed her mouth as he slid into her.

breathing . Still..” her throaty.260 penetration had so enveloped her senses she was incapable of anything but a blink of dazed exhilaration. her earlier inhibitions had been completely displaced by a thoroughly aroused state. repeated on raggedly expended breath: “I.you... Her fingers remained clenched in his as she tried to focus on whirling fern fronds. Her eyes opened wide. ya are so good.you. her trembling hand held against her moist cheek went rigid. As if from a distant place his low groan of satisfaction slowly registered in her vertiginous head. Now she was immersed in his repeated caresses and that climbing pulse of love.. the silence of nearing climax was broken by an urgent need to say what she had often refrained from saying in lovemaking: “I. his nimble body stroking against her as his mouth moved over the perspiring nape of her neck and his head lowered to watch her come before she even realized she had arrived. her body striving to give back..love. She lay beside him with their hands still locked.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . she rubbed the driest edge of the soaked towel against herself and flung it aside then rolled over onto her back.” He pressed his hand against her groin and changed the angle of his position very subtly with almost clinical precision..” “And. Gasping in amazement and with her insides still throbbing.. impassioned voice managed as she responded to his demanding mouth with increasing desire.” Above all she wanted to impart that certainty.” he prompted. “God.. “Sweet Green Eyes.look at me now. an earthshaking exultant immolation. gushing waves of nearly unbearable ecstasy.... wild cries of release escaped her gasping mouth as her senses rose on waves emanating from a hot zone deep inside..love. a rapture that shook her body and blurred her mind.you.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat . too. driving back to Lan’s cozy little cottage. Katharine was contemplative. Lan.. *** In the Rover. which she had only recently discovered he owned in Nelson.” he answered with a low chortle of pleasure. “Yes..oh yes. she curled against him with a long. “Hmm. staring out the window and pondering a certain neglected sticking place.. did feel very.too much Lachlan Manutane.” Lan remarked.but I’ve become a part of your family..” “Never enough Katharine.. until him. venting sigh and drifted into sleep.. guess it’s another one of those areas that I dread venturing into. center of pleasure resided and exactly how to get her to that potent and excruciatingly sensuous place which. “I like to drive and think.. running his thumb across her wet cheek.of--” “Rani.” “How do you do that? “Not too difficult. She thought of crying.” .and it isn’t really a deal. she had never experienced or could have imagined. but ya haven’t said a word in nearly half an hour.. so precisely foreknowing yet so spontaneously implemented by pure ardor.too much of a good thing...261 deeply.. In that sated phase of exhaustion.too much. “Too much.. He turned his skyward-gazing eyes upon her.” It’s bloody near the only problem around. slowly reclaiming enough of her reason to consider his earlier assertion. You always manage to do that. His understanding of her was almost bewildering. she had He knew exactly where her felt.” he said softly. very good. He was quite accurate -. and there’s the problem of. then realized her cheeks were already damp with spilling emotion.

lie about its father and then cast it aside. I just don’t like what she did to you... because--” “Bloody-hell.. I Anyway.” “Well. I think I’ve straightened the matter Rani is beginning to take responsibility for think I’ve tried to be decent to her. Lan.” “Ya have and she knows it. always will. isn’t that charitable?” “Kate?” “To produce a child. I managed that. keep it. Katie Green Eyes.. but it’ll be up to her to Mary I She’s not stupid just spoiled and immature. Competition? That’s a laugh. messing about and bludging on the family. I had several She’s through “She does not.” “Ya made it.. No one will I think of Rani as my little sister... She treated ya badly..” .262 “Oh? She despises me. her daughter.” She grudgingly admires ya... know I’ve been over-tolerant because of. drunk or sober I’m the only one crawling into your bed. I laid into her over that until she cried. admits her hand in that..of what I told ya.and that was the grief of the matter for me.hardly any of it..” “I was trying to make a point. rather long talks with Rani while ya were away.” “Am I going to have to compete with her in. but it isn’t all my mother’s fault..” “And that wasn’t all your fault. out sufficiently.it’s really too much. in fact.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . If I were dead drunk and suffering with loss and a beautiful hunk crawled into my bed--” “I don’t care for your analogy.has a job working for a pol in Wellington.in petty little ongoing dramas.I always have. ever get near ya..” “Speaking of charitable--” “All right.

“My very literate.. Lan. “Anyway ya can find out for yourself..263 “On your shoulder?” “Kate. resist ya? You’ll have her eating from your hand. That’s all she cares about. both worldly and innocent green-eyed addiction.” she intoned. will ya--” “Sorry. but eloquence isn’t really my cup. ya clever fox.” she went on after a short stretch of silence.. keeping his eyes on the narrow road as a huge lumber truck sped past them..” he countered with an amused voice..” “You’re a corker. Is she still angry with me for leaving you?” “No worries..almost convincing.. I’m so glad she’s coming? That’s wonderful. Any child of ours will be a chrissy bonus. my wily cowboy entrepreneur. Who could Ya deal with others very well...” “Is that a catty--” “No.and you’ve come back and agreed to marry the mystery of her life.my teacher. you silver-tongued charmer. please. lifting his hand against her cheek with the giggling laughter which so clearly delighted him. You’re mine for a start..send her round the bend with happiness. What I have of it comes from my days at Oxford.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .my sophisticated shepherd. “My Maori-Scots love scholar. “I have to win Mary back.” “Maybe sooner than ya think.especially the troubled ones.” “And so do you. and in a sultry voice which brought his caressing fingers to her neck. sorry. I really love her.. I want peace with Rani. Mary loves ya. for the party Margie and Ian are giving us Herne Bay. I’m I’m flying her up She’ll be staying at . Maybe some day we’ll even be friends. I’m dead serious.. I’ll gladly extend the olive branch whenever she’s capable of understanding what that means.” “Oh.” “My modest Oxford bushman.

.” laying her head against Lan’s shoulder.still do. surprise at this news. forgot about everything. “Oh. slipping her feet back into her ejected thongs. I finally quit because it was People . seemed to like my voice. Katharine was listening from a deck chair on the patio. We had such a good time.” “Where did ya perform?” “We played all over Palo Alto and San Francisco. We were sort of reactionary renegades. wheel and stroked her knee with the other. Margaret.that sultry soulful music...and the torch songs.” “You’ve done a heap of good for Mary. She’s happier with ya around.” Margaret sat up.. and grabbing Katharine’s ankle with a quick jerk of affection. at singing? I don’t know. I loved the old blues songs. Kate. I used to sing R and B with a small band in college.” I was really shy but when I sang I “I know. which she called jandals. out.. *** While Mary rested at Herne Bay Katharine was visiting with Margaret at her sunny home above the city. He kept one hand on the You’ve brought her “And I with her. Katharine’s lolling head raised in She leaned forward in her chair.. “You’re full of surprises. How good are ya?” Someone heard me in a music class and hustled me into that hard-working little band.” Although ya don’t seem like the type. setting down her glass of iced tea and coming alive with memories..too cerebral. as Margaret began describing the rhythm and blues quartet she had engaged for the party.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . After flying Mary up Lan had departed again on a fishing trip with Ian and some other mates. Kate. “What..264 eager to see her. Nobody was doing that kind of music anymore and we thought of ourselves as preservationists.” Katharine smiled with that thought. “I imagine.

Careless Child Karlene Kubat . I was I craved that heady game of trying to get a factual answer.. Within a stanza she had begun to take command of her old voice. She hummed a few bars then turned to Margaret and began to sing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” “Ah.. the ensuing pleasure of hitting her stride rising in her throat and resonating across the garden.there. The slow.265 interfering with my work on the school paper. no. she knew her heartfelt rendering of those very moving lyrics must be eliciting some pleasure.” “A wonderful idea is taking shape in my head.” “Oh.” Margaret said with a cunning expression of delight. “Ya could rehearse a few songs with the band and surprise everyone by singing at your own party.. Sing. The only singing I’ve done of late is to myself and mostly in the shower. but she had chosen it because the lyrics were so lovely and fit her personal experience so precisely. A heady joy swelled her lungs and when she finished Of course it’s easier singing to she said..” “What? “Yeah. but that means your cords are in good shape. myself but I’d forgotten how good that feels...” Sing “But I. “Well.I can’t just--” “Sing.so... As she watched Margaret listening with an expression of astonishment. passion-driven song was tricky to sing a cappella. Margaret. a very difficult choice without background music... Now?” I’m the only one here.well. staring off into the golden trunks of bamboo.” Katharine stood up and walked to the edge of the patio. something right now. remembering how Lan had kissed her there beneath the Southern Cross.singing to . interviewing politicians. I was stretching myself pretty thin.

..” Katharine suggested. and speculating on a dress or gown for Katharine’s wedding ceremony. then wear the jacket for the wedding.” Mary said. “I haven’t bought a fancy dress in so long I’ve no idea what’s fashionable. I mean. very professional..maybe drive ya over there. and now that you’ve heard it you know why... The escaped bustle of the street where bright sun prevailed. In the process Mary had come across a dress she intended to buy for herself. running her fingers over the smartly cut navy evening dress she had just selected.just to celebrate a nice evening with our family and friends. going to be choice. Margaret. They were looking at dresses for the party. *** Mary was shopping with Katharine in a handsomely appointed Parnell shop. “You can leave the little bolero jacket off for the party and drape a pretty scarf over your shoulders. I’m glad for your opinion.266 someone else. The band is always rehearsing.thanks to you and Ian. They both agreed that it might be worn on various occasions by dressing it up or down..” “My God. I certainly wouldn’t expect to impress an audience. the hushed rose-scented shop of gleaming dark wood. the silk-tasseled windows. that was so good. I’m giving them a Oh this is really You’ll ring right now.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . which pleased prudent Mary immensely.. but rewarding Katharine with the frissons of happiness she had learned to capture in such moments. Katharine.that was very.. delighted at having assisted circumspect Mary in finding something which . What a treat everyone has in store. girl. the luxurious fabrics.” “If I did sing it would only be this one song. bloody-well knock them dead. and Mary’s softly earnest face all flowed together in a mellow interstice between much larger events.

love. Katharine had chosen a slender. was walking around brimming with the delight of favorable collusion. dusty-rose velvet gown for the party.” Oh. it’s a Katharine was merely thinking that its bare simplicity would perfectly accommodate her beloved jade pendant. squinting between the fronds of a fan palm out into the busy street. saxophone. wanting only to fish with him. bass. She couldn’t think of it for long. Margaret. do ya know that skittery velvet goes from silvery pale pink to shady rose when ya move under the light. “Have a biscuit. Mary and Katharine completed their purchases and strolled to a cozy tearoom. Once seated Katharine leaned on her hands and stared through the plate glass window. The moment she tried it on Mary was “Ya look Katie wild about it and insisted she look no further. ravishing!” she had exclaimed. Gray. “I think you may be enjoying yourself at my expense. He was there and she was here. which sprang to life when Katharine began to sing. strapless. Kate. A flashing image of Lan casting a fast-darting line over the riffle of a silvery flat river flew across her mind. to agree to this? Was she out of her mind Margaret had introduced her to the noticeably doubtful quartet of young musicians. A shot of fear drove through her like a fast-ricocheting bullet when she thought of standing before all the others in that rose gown and bursting into song. and drum) and far from enthusiastic about accompanying an unknown voice. Kate. choice thing on your lovely self.267 satisfied her rather particular taste.” Katharine had teased. The rehearsal session had started out with a rather grim-faced band.” She began pondering the days ahead while Mary poured Earl .Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “Absolutely ravishing. who were clearly bent on keeping their music viable (piano. of course.

*** Lan.” “Ya could give it your own signature. Kate.” “Well. who had been glad to give Mary and Katharine these busy days together. On the You’ve day before the celebration he called Katharine to say that he would be back the following day in time to dress and meet her at . I don’t want a traditional white dress and it wouldn’t be appropriate anyway. that sounds wonderful.” “You’ve no idea how much it all means. You’ve seen these celebrations before. tapered to the waist and bordered in wine velvet on three sides. idea.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . like New Zealand itself. What should I do?” Ya know I do have an As we were passing a shop I saw a creamy lace thing in Set over the folds of the the window that was most unusual. Mary.” “Mary. ivory lace bodice was a sort of rectangle of plaid. I’m so glad we’ve done this. A lovely airy thing I’m imagining. ya know.268 “No thank you. good time with you. It sounds interesting. and pastoral at the same time. The skirt part was a simple affair of gathered I never would have thought how well it could work I was thinking ya could have something like until I saw it. problem.” Mary said with cheerfully moist eyes. “Ya can do anything ya want. no idea at all. I’m still full from our outrageous lunch.” “I just don’t know what to wear. “I’ll have to go look. You may have solved my I always have such a Oh. ivory lace. Katharine. was still fly-fishing with his mates down on several of the scenic rivers feeding into Lake Taupo. like taffeta. that with your slender waist. a bit of your own heritage: black squares edged in yellow it is. we haven’t made much progress on your wedding dress. by putting a small swatch of the Gordon plaid in that bodice. the border could be of black velvet.

“Ya look very nice. and Katharine really wanted to offer that special song to him. “That’s a choice gown.” Katharine frowned and said. sing a few more songs.sexy enough for any man. with her lustrous black hair piled high atop her head and more makeup than she needed applied to her lovely young face.. and thence into Ian’s cool dark study where they remained standing.. with which Rani seemed quite familiar. It’s quite clear that you don’t like me but maybe with time--” “You’ve been through some hell. as she imagined them.. Without hesitating she came straight to Katharine.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . greeted her in a friendly manner and then suggested they go into Ian’s study to have a sort of ameliorating talk.sorry for that. not wanting to taint his happy days with fishing pals. *** The first surprising occurrence at the party was not a good omen. Katharine arrived early. and while she stood in the She was garden talking to the band Rani suddenly appeared. if she could muster the skill and courage to do it well. and ya--” . casting over their wild.269 the party. Margaret still seemed to think the idea was a splendid one.” Rani said.all that sophistication is just what Lani likes. wearing a bright blue party dress of which there was very little.. She didn’t know what he would think of her intention to sing at their party and had decided not to tell him. I hope we can get along. This fit in well with her plans. but you’re a bloody clever woman and ya get what ya want. could hardly refuse and so followed her into the house.. Katharine. The band had even suggested that she She had declined.. “Rani. but with a dash of confidence at their disappointment. and then added. desirous of a pleasant evening. although she was missing him more than she would say. trout-filled rivers in devoted abandon.

“Oh..selfishly wound them when they’re down and suffering? deeply over this too? “I see that ya--” “Oh Rani. and how did you By making him--” “I didn’t make him do He was too bloody haurangi.. Please try to have some compassion You profess to care so much for Lan.simply to extricate yourself from the mess you made. for others for a change. “Then tell him that and relieve his grieving heart.” They heard a soft click and both turned around startled. Lan. please stop it.without a thought to his condition or his pain.” Rani protested. did you--” “Yeah.. out differently. will she?” Lan said in a resignedly firm voice. staring at them.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. “What are ya talking about?” “You know what I’m talking about. Lan has always thought of himself as your big brother. I thought it would all come I swear.. do you?” return his devotion? “I didn’t. anything. bush? Why beat around the When he was sick with grieving and thoroughly inebriated you took advantage of him.” “It was just. Do you think Mary hasn’t suffered You still don’t see it.... I only let him think....” He never touched me. her voice catching on fire and her adrenaline pumping.” Katharine exclaimed.. Kate. He never even tried to touch me. Do you even realize?” but look what you did to him.to make it all come out in your favor. The study door had slowly swung shut and Lan was standing there with folded arms.simply to suit yourself. “If you really love a person how could you ever do anything so cruel.I didn’t think he’d--” “My God..270 “Rani.. He was there for you all of your life. I heard most of it and since it pertains to He was looking at Rani. . “Rani won’t have to tell me anything now.

happy plants.” fingers just touched Mea’s silver-gray hair done in thick waves around her smiling. how nice ya look. “Oh. “Come with me. Her That soft silvery color matches your gorgeous hair.” Katharine’s arm. then tried to blink the tears onto her hand without ruining her face. tramp through this friendly garden.” Katharine said.” “Excuse me.” They strolled with soft laughter. garden. but at least How would Lan deal with this? She didn’t their party? the truth was out.rose velvet and totoeka with those rare eyes. her eyes brimming..” “Kate. the long hair swept back in a handsome French roll. kia ora.” Mea said as she gathered Katharine into her arms. smiled and said.271 me I won’t apologize for listening. I wäna nei -. pretty girl.the way it is.. Mea gripped Let’s take a I love to see all these Someone is giving them tender loving care. who worked in the winery. as this smart wahine pono will do for Lan. “Gus and Mea. I’m so happy to see you both. She held her hand to her mouth. want to think about it anymore and went briskly down the walk.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Mea. stretching out her arms to greet Gus and Mea who had just ventured into the garden. She hurried away back into the Why did she have to reopen this serious old wound at She regretted her unchecked wrath. closing the door behind her. And I love your dress. as briskly as her slender gown would allow. placed a hand on his shoulder and he turned to speak to Gus’s son.just I see the devotion. and slipped out of the room. Over Mea’s shoulder Katharine saw Lan entering the Their eyes met briefly and then one of his cousins garden. softly lined face. The band was warming up and still Katharine had spoken no .. “Will you ever forgive what happened at your wonderful dinner?” “A migraine is no one’s fault..

his dark frame tinted rose bronze under the colorful hanging lanterns. Please find yourself a seat down there. Excuse me. She was breathless and thoroughly disgusted At his wrist a Lan had a drink in his hand. and then saw that people were starting to settle in chairs placed before the small platform on which the band sat. Mea has one saved. hadn’t ruined his arrival by bringing up that grievous subject with Rani. This party was for them and yet If only she they were still at opposite ends of the garden. But with Rani’s surly conduct it could hardly have Rani was with someone. gleam of gold cufflink flashed as he talked to another cousin seated next to him. away from ya. I need to steal Katharine I think “There ya are.” . with herself. looking for Katharine who had ducked into the bamboo in a cowardly fashion. As Margaret was indicating the seat where Katharine should have been she lifted her head. Perhaps she should decline the invitation to sing. young man with a motorcycle helmet under his arm. How strange. to carry that with him all evening? Katharine went around warmly greeting the Maori half of Lan’s family. Margaret was pointing to the seat beside Lan. The band was already into its second melody when Margaret found Katharine -. somewhat raffish Was he going been avoided. Then the band began a slow rhapsodic Gladness flowed through her body melody and her heart softened. Gus. A shiver swept through her as she watched the drummer adjust the microphone she would use. in arm with Lan and leading him to a seat below the platform.ostensibly quite deep into a conversation with Gus. She was explaining the virtues of steelhead fishing.” she muttered.272 more with Lan. which She saw Margaret arm Margaret was scheduled to make very soon. “Oh God. On his other side was that empty chair. so handsome in his charcoal dinner jacket.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . as she saw Mea and Mary strolling arm in arm to their seats. a dark.

Hope you’re all enjoying this special Lachlan Manutane. occasion. Get your lovely I’m after introducing an entirely new side of ya to your new family. you’re one of my and Ian’s oldest friends. not after all my efforts. everyone. A maudlin wave of self-pity swept over her. and how lucky we are for that.273 When Gus had taken himself off. Katharine?” Just pretend like it’s another band gig out of the past.and to be able to celebrate your upcoming marriage to this amazing woman. The vicissitudes of life simply refused a smooth Fate stepped in. Now he was sitting down there chatting with his family and drinking Scotch. and after having been away from her for nearly a week.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . When first they met making treacherous detours without warning.” “Margaret. “Kate.. she was certain it was Scotch. “Hello. She looked up to see Margaret insistently beckoning to her over her shoulder as she made her way to the bandstand.” Katharine had anticipated such a different sort of evening. self down to the foot of my garden. superimposing its own dubious routes. I don’t think--” “Oh no ya don’t. in this enchanting garden Lan couldn’t reach her side quickly enough. Katharine said to herself as she took Margaret’s hand and carefully mounted the platform. Katharine Gordon. She’s about to come up here and sing to ya. I’m sure. as if she didn’t exist. She could hardly bring herself . a celebration of love in which she and Lan would stand side by side and greet the party guests while overflowing with mutual happiness. and you’ll soon see what a choice treat it is. road. are ya giving up on me at the last moment? Lan has been wondering where ya are. but the rest of us are bloody-well going to share in the treat. and right now. and now it’s time for our little songbird to make her appearance. Margaret said. She was certainly in a wonderful mood to sing a love song..

were.” “My beautiful wahina. washing away all decorum. what do I say in return? How do I Thank ya for Rani. limp body and bent head she hung onto a tender young stalk of bamboo. He was still holding the glass in his hand but he set it down beneath his chair without taking his eyes off her.274 to look at anyone.all for you. Katharine’s heart began to fill with rapidly coursing blood.. She no longer cared how she With looked or how she would present herself to the others. your song.for your love.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . When she had completed the final long- held note she bowed low with an attempt at a modestly beatific smile. The song had finished her. Whistling and loud clapping pursued her. There was his riveted face. Slumping lower as her body shook with the forceful aftermath of what she knew had been a sort of catharsis. then the softened voice against her ear. the memory of their first night together. Tears streamed from performance. her eyes fastened on Lan and she heard her own slow. fearful of sliding to the ground.” “Lan. absolutely wiped out all of her strength and restraint. my tau aroha. the memory that infused the words lovingly tendered by her voice. especially Lan.. “Thank ya. Thank ya for . never had she wished to. feeling them ripple and rise in warm waves up into the realm of the Southern Cross.. A shifting glance yielded a beaming Mary. supportive anticipation clearly written across her proudly expectant face. but her eyes drifted in that direction anyway. the very moon and stars of the lyrics..those lyrics... offering the memory of their first kiss... The band was keyed. then stepped carefully down and hurried off to lose herself in the bamboo grove. steady voice sending the impassioned words straight out to the love of her life. Never had she given so much in a She felt drained. her face. she was startled by Lan’s arms catching her up and coming tight around her.

ya know I love ya. the way you’ve set things right here. and while Lan was in his study on the phone. I your velvet gown...Careless Child Karlene Kubat . my spoiled little girl.275 tell ya what ya mean to me? Eyes. and when she tried it on she was well satisfied -.. want to lie with ya.and here ya are. leaving them to their insatiable upstairs lovemaking. all mine and choice in Your song was perfect. Please stop the crying. eyes. I thank ya for so much. “Whatever did ya say to Rani. rolling his shirtsleeves as . Why? “I’m afraid I really told her what I I know ya must have What did she say?” “She came to me some time after your song and she was so changed. Ya have. thought often of the night after the party. terrible things she did. I believe ya made her look into the mirror.” Katharine turned off the heat under the smoking frying pan and turned to Mary. and.” Lan sauntered into the kitchen. Green All I saw on the rivers were these I’ve missed ya.a unique and lovely dress stitched into a symbol of the rarest event.. Oh Jesus. thought. She apologized to me for the She I told her to apologize to Lan. I certainly thank ya for that. The following morning as Mary helped Katharine cook a late breakfast. In these days her eyes were filled She with dreams of the future and memories of the recent past. when she and Lan drove Mary back to the Herne Bay house and wise Mary took herself swiftly off to a comfortable downstairs bedroom.. said that she already had. Mary had said. Perfect. Kate? said something.” *** It had taken very little time to alter Katharine’s wedding dress. one she had half feared would never occur..she said ya had a beautiful voice. with her own and Mary’s artful suggestions. Kate. ya know.the way you’ve made Lan so happy. He’s a changed man...

. I’ll marry Petruchio in bare feet. “This kiss is for you. The desire was overwhelming.” *** The wedding itself was a remarkably colorful and singular event. handing her a flute of champage.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . “Anything edible in here yet besides yourself?” Primed with joy Katharine wanted to kiss Lan in a very private way.and this kiss is for having a mother like Mary. “My benumbed brain has disconnected my foot -. drink this.no shoe. Her jittery nerves necessitated mitigation by self- deprecating acid bons mots and continual laughter with her friends. The day transposed into a swift parade of images: Dear Mary.. Struggling with a recalcitrant shoe she said. She laid her head against Lan’s shirt. giggling and chattering with a boisterous lot of noise and soaking up her emotional spillover. obstinate foot. Green Eyes. these as if emanating from an unconscious brain romping in REM sleep. Mary. inhaling all the familiar scents that were so arousing.” “Here.. Penny and Margaret and. “What? Should I drink that?” . She glanced politely over where Mary had been standing and saw her back disappearing down the hall. then lifted her head and said in a slow voice. always reading the moment so swiftly flashes of sharply indelible consciousness juxtaposed with flashes of blurring mystery..” Penny ordered. any more of this and brekkie will be out the bloody window. Judith was there and They crowded into the sparely appointed bedroom of Lan’s very masculine Nelson cottage and helped her dress and do her hair. Will you.and this kiss is for--” “Jesus. nill you.276 he came and walking up to Katharine to whisper in her ear. of course. hence no wedding. and precisely.

He and camera had even made a quick foray into Lan’s bedroom just as the women were preparing to whisk Katharine out of there. “Yeah. stuck out their tongues. “Or they’ll have to peel ya off the ceiling of the marae meeting hall.” “No worries. walked up to Katharine and handed her a bouquet of orchids.277 “Absolutely. and they all burst into yet another effusion of laughter. chanted and waved clubs in a primally fierce demonstration of haka. No paternal Cash Taylor. then stepped back into the line of guests.” Mary soothed. curtsied ever so slightly. pale gray Italian suit of shot silk with a healthy green sprig of some unfamiliar local plant affixed as a boutonnière. Amidst their laughter she went on with her Taming of The Shrew allusion. but he’ll never bring me from a wild Kate to a Kate comfortable as other household Kates. Katharine and Lan stood before the marae where they were initially met by tattooed and sparsely clothed warriors who yelled at them. He was wearing a smartly cut. having made a tenuous peace with Lan. looked so handsome that at first glance her worried frown softened into pure pleasure.” Judith encouraged. “Oh. he’s not after taming ya. Before this lively but abbreviated war dance ensued she had been joined by Lan on the path leading up to the marae. was continually popping up everywhere and capturing everything. He at once attempted to lift her spirits He . Your wild self is what he fancies. but the anxiety had not entirely escaped his notice.” Mary assured her. Katie love. wearing a chocolate silk dress. As the proceeding began. Lan will take care of any headache that comes along.” Margaret chimed in. The ceremony was a different sort of affair.” “Nor would he wish to.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Rani. figure would give her away. their eyes meeting with a mutual understanding which seemed to hint at something positive.

approached the low wood dais where the official who was to marry them stood cloaked in a robe covered with tiny. the other an elegant twining vine which represented eternity. what if she swooned and disgraced herself? What if her head began to throb and nausea ensued? face up to Lan and their eyes met. body-filled hall. Seated at either side of their advancing They passage were all the members of the wedding party. Following the clamorous intimidation of the threatening warriors. The pungent smell of abundant floral arrangements swirled around Katharine’s head in the warm. running to the peaked and cross-beamed ceiling. As Maori words flowed past her a sudden jab of fear darted through her chest. and the walls rose in striking patterned designs. or so she read his easy composure and knowing anticipation. delicate and airy feathers.” In her volatile condition she found this so amusing that she had to place her hand over her mouth to suppress the giggling laughter. The hall smelled of spicy-sweet ginger combined with numerous other scented flowers of New Zealand. She turned her His calm dark eyes looking .278 with a swift offering of humor. one of a tiki. unspoken control of everything. The highly polished hardwood floors shimmered in honey tones of gold and brown. which he so often strove to elicit. and wearing large jade pendants around his neck. Soon this will all be over and I’ll put ya out to pasture herding sheep. Oh God. “No worries. leaning down and muttering in her ear. they were greeted with a loving display of hongi and some words in Maori which Lan answered in Maori. After this It seemed to her that Lan was not only in a state of self-assured control but in quiet. a reading from her own nervous frame of reference.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . they were led inside. The meeting hall was adorned with gleaming pillars of wood carved in the form of tikis and other earthy motifs.

From the For moment of his first grasp she had never let go of his arm. Following all the exuberant hugs from joyful family members and the few friends who attended the reception at Gus and Mea’s large and beautifully decked out old house. and he took hold of her arm. visit with Gus and Mea. and Ian and Margaret were sailing home on a friend’s boat. Sliding into that sealing kiss all else momentarily dissolved. it was especially exhilarating to have at once received Lan’s understanding assurance. they tried to make their way to Gus’s car. Everyone wanted to hang onto Lan and Katharine. In this rushing span of time when she found herself amidst sharp transition so unfamiliar. without ever acknowledging it. such a long time she had been her own strength. Finally there were English words exchanged and they made their vows and kissed. that she could stand alone. promising and thrilling. she demanded of herself. and one of his flying mates was winging her home to Green Braes in the morning. proven over and over. until she heard sighs and mutterings of appreciation traveling through the hall. because she couldn’t understand the words. never. After a whence Lan would fly himself and Katharine to Auckland. please not ever boredom. She smiled and. The firmness of his supportive. and then Lan was laughing and they were spilling out into the sunlight.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . Mary was staying in Lan’s cottage.279 down at her seemed to read her mind. He was to drive them to Lan’s plane. Katharine were flying to Rarotonga. to bring him peace and happiness and. Judith and Jacob were heading south to visit Milford Sound and other points of interest. emblematic grasp traveled through her body with a ministering relief at once comforting. More than anything she wanted to please him. capturing From Auckland Lan and . began to ponder the effect this man standing bedside her had and would always have on her life.

. with joyful teasing and offerings of food and drink. “Katharine Gordon Manutane.. Your bloke. continuing to giggle with Lan’s smiling encouragement. Lan. flying off over New Zealand.” “I’m looking forward to it. I had to bloody-well tell him to rack off. They edged their way to the back door. “I’m actually glad we didn’t bother to change.or an idyllic fairy tale. But when I look back on it I suppose I’ll be very amused. in a couple more hours ya can watch me taking I would have loved to watch you putting in my ballerina length Scottish bridal gown. on your suit.” “Yeah? it off..280 the spilling radiance emanating from their highly charged mutual devotion.. Lan would drink nothing because he was flying. whose eyes were filled with tears of love and relief. the ubiquitous Cash Taylor.” Katharine said when they were finally aloft in the plane.amused and deeply moved and even sorry it ended so soon.” “Oh.” Katharine said. I’ll probably . I spent half the day laughing hysterically and now I’m doing it again. *** “You were right. “I think it was for everyone else.like magic.” They made a dash to the car where Gus was just transferring their luggage from another car into his trunk. Their heartening life-affirming aura held a magnetism so alluring they were continually restrained from departure. Once out of earshot of everyone Lan exclaimed. having already said good-bye three times and been hugged by Mary. even invaded the guest bedroom and tried to snap me putting on my suit..Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. and Katharine would drink nothing because she feared a headache. let’s get the hell out of here. especially in her exhausted and over-stimulated condition. Here I am Well.” “Looks as though we’ll have plenty of photographs to go along with our memories.

Kate.” “Careful. I want ya happy. and partook of the remote village life on this quiet atoll of such startling sea and sand colors. too.” he added with a wink. The days passed in a luxurious idleness. Lan. and myriad darting fish the Day-Glo colors of the rainbow.” “What if I’m too tired.” “Not this one. moray eels. just in case.” Oh.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . a delicious meal called ika mata. affording further investigation and uninterrupted enjoyment of one another. how sad. Green Eyes.281 never wear it again. about an hour away.. onions and bits of tomato. While there they flew over to Aitutaki. reef sharks. painting the surface waters of dusk with dazzling hues of crimson and gold.. They swam to the motus in the lagoon and made love on those uninhabited white sands beneath the shade of coconut palms. away from the world and growing familiar with each other’s needs and desires and habits in a slow awakening. blissfully free from the prosaic alterations of a workaday existence.” “And not for me. husband?” “Then I’ll hold ya until I can have ya in the morning. Green Eyes. my darling Maroi-Scot lover. But take a bit of a nap now. *** Rarotonga was a time of love and lethargy. wife. Playing. lime juice. could have--” “Please don’t. they encountered giant clams. How I wish my grandmother “Weddings are sad. Diving in shoreline conservation areas called raui. we still have a ways to go before we lie down together. They watched the startling sunsets bleed into dark palm-fringed horizons.not for me. and cavorting in . They drank at a thatched- roofed bar on the beach and ate diced raw fish prepared with coconut cream. teasing.

created her own ika mata. but never at his expense. caressing or talking softly in a soporific state of contentment while the palm fronds rustled overhead in warm fluky winds. they pleasured each other and slept wrapped together in an airy bungalow with the crashing surf sounding on the distant reef and the soughing waves almost at their feet. She was glad to be here at this moment. cut up fresh fruit.282 mutually generated situations of comic entertainment. redress of all the relinquished assignments. Lan?” . *** Katharine sat astride Jangle. but not total. looking out over the myriad grayed-white tufts of grazing sheep. and it brought considerable. he might be concerned that she was thinking of Jerusalem or Gaza or some other troubled place in the world forebodingly calling to her. After a week they returned to Lan’s orange beach cottage on Rarotonga. to have addressed those places of strife in her nearly completed novel. “Why don’t you ever take me fishing. she was thinking very close to home. She would see to it. Just now. where he used his laptop to check into his business affairs. They lay together in their ample hammock. would always be in her. This event would unfold quite differently. and mixed large tropical drinks. Katharine swam. of all the forgone obligations. Finally. Ben. Lan was beside her on the roan stallion.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . chased thousands of ants around their kitchen. had arranged it. They were in her. leaning on the pommel of his saddle and glancing at her reflective face from time to time. She thought. hoping to correct that other horribly failed ride when Lan had professed such love only to be cruelly abandoned. when he studied her that way. however. with a regenerated eagerness to face the world. they returned to Green Braes. and from time to time she did think of those places.

. I won’t say that. plenty of time for that.. “Ya.I’ll take ya fishing.” “How should they fight it?” she asked in a rhetorical manner.. Green Eyes.when I took ya sailing. because they’re only . smiling with good-natured ease.” “But I mean. They’re used to force. something all on my own.. now ya have to learn to do it the rest of the time. eager to hear his answer. “Yes. will. Ya want to fish. Kate?” She was surprised that he would ask the question. ‘Why do we suddenly have to go fishing?’ you’ll be saying soon enough. “I’ve finally taught ya to tell me what ya want in lovemaking. Kate. why didn’t you just think of it on your own?” “I did once.” Right now I’ve thought of Come on.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . It’s there and going on. ya hard case. bringing Jangle to a halt. Every time an Swatting at atrocity occurs they rush in with guns and tanks. There’s I’ll drag ya around everywhere at a moment’s notice and you’ll be asking me the opposite. I would. since he had always preferred not to bring up that subject. mainly to keep her overactive mind from brooding on an insurmountable problem.” As they rode along Lan asked. heavy retaliation.” she said.sometimes. We’ll ride up along the green banks and eat our sandwiches there by the river.283 “Ya never asked me. “The Israelis have no idea how to fight that kind of war.. “Have ya been thinking of the fighting in the Middle East.” “I love fishing. “Sometimes I do. No worries. “They shouldn’t fight it at all.” “I haven’t said much on the subject but I’d like to be able to talk to ya about it. Would ya have an opinion from me?” Yes.” he answered.. clouds of sandflies only gets ya more bites. a form of insanity that could stop at once with the right leadership. Lan.

war-minded. the best way to win.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. the farm? I still own it..and feeling threatened. They’re the ones with all the They’re the ones who have to bring it to an end.” Lan’s broaching of the subject.for instance.pull out their settlers and give the Palestinians a free state. Turning aside to glance down at her as they moved slowly forward. It would relieve a lot of tension in the world. Now it’s become important for the whole world. his accurate perception was like a pressure release. need a strong peacemaker who sees total stoppage as an honorable solution.” . then eased his boot into Ben’s belly. She was glad to find herself I agree with everything you positioned beside an understanding mind. the strength. A free unified state is the only answer. Why don’t they see that?” They “Wrong leaders. firepower. He reached over and brushed her windblown hair away from her eyes.” “I’d like to see it. he asked. She gave a long sigh and The house I’ve kept just as it was..” “I think you’re right. “What happened to your grandmother’s farm?” “Oh.. Ignoring the need for a Palestinian state is the whole crux of the Middle Eastern problem. I lease it to a grower... concerted support from their own people -.” “You’re absolutely right. smiled at Lan. clicked his tongue and ordered the big horse to walk on.I can go back there any time I want. all the troublemakers always hark back to the Palestinian problem for their ammunition against your country... only it takes a bloody keen mind to see that. say. real courage. a companion who could share her thoughts so precisely... But it’s really a form of winning.that’s the tough part.284 inviting more human explosions.

.and the spring fields of flowers.but not Gran. of course.Careless Child Karlene Kubat . white Mount Rainier floating on the horizon -.. We’ll do it this fall.. I’d like to. even. my After she died I went there so many I could still have the wonderful flowers... yes. who rode slightly ahead of her. if you want. The dazzle of An sunlight on the climbing green slopes swelled her heart.” “Yeah. after Lan. And. Nice to I’d love it. bringing her peace of mind.stay in the house. “I’m thirsty. you can see massive. He swung off his horse. keep the good part of your past alive. making her realize that she didn’t have to remain cut off from her homeland. Déjà vu..285 “We could go there. epiphany of joy like a sweet pain shot through her... your spring. lifted the sandwiches out of the saddlebag and pulled the rolled blanket from behind the saddle. “Then get down. steamy greenhouses in winter snow..when you have some time. Lan.it’s over two thousand feet taller than Mount Cook. times. until they could hear the rushing river and see its emerald banks.” A vision flashed in her mind as she dismounted. dauntless grandmother. with his head angled over his shoulder.. make some plans to do that.the place where ya grew up.oh. Kate. looking at her with a slight smile .. smoothing out one more wrinkle of worry. Lan.. He stood a moment in silence. Do ya miss it?” We’ll “The fragrant. From the house It was never quite the same but still lovely.. It would Thanks. They rode on in silence for half an hour..” She stared He turned in his saddle and pushed back his hat. be wonderful sharing it all with you.” “Yeah.” Once again Lan had surprised her with his perceptive thoughtfulness.thank you for suggesting it.

so.you’re Mary’s son. the fear I had was.I was giving myself a kind heart.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .. “I’m so lucky. Lan....I thought you would consume me.I thought.. this with an incisive expression of encouragement beginning to astonish her... I’d never found you?” “Ya didn’t. When they were finished he spread the blanket. then leaned back a short distance. his voice full of amused irony..most definitely for you.. “Well.. happy with myself and--” He bent toward her and stopped her words with a long and dissolving kiss.. Lan. catching both her arousal and her intention to reveal something. For a long moment she feasted on his eyes as they traveled over her face and fastened upon her appraising gaze. you’ve made me feel so alive. I went so crazy.. so much more than I was. “Do ya have something ya want to tell me.” They tied the horses and walked to the river where they found a flat place between the rocks and lay on their bellies drinking. “Ngakau?” He laughed.286 and a penetratingly soulful gaze that evoked a certain memory.and a little water. balancing her knees upon the tan square of soft wool and watching him crouch beside her.” . Oh God. “For me or for water?” “For you...so relieved and full of hope. Reaching out she pulled off his hat. tau aroha?” “Yes.. I found ya.” “And have I consumed ya?” “No. She dropped down..” “Exactly what you have.and ya didn’t trust me at all. His eyes held hers.so lucky to have you. “Oh..... what if Why were ya so bloody afraid of a ngakau joker like me?” he asked... running her fingers through his tousled thick black hair.

but--” “You’ll never lose me. Ah... How did you know?” I feel a lot when I look at ya.. What? Let’s be Braes. ya here this way. ipo.” “How did you know? I was about to say that this time I was the one with the shocking news. but I’m not going to let ya hurt yourself or get in harm’s way if I can help it. Jesus. and you stole all the wind from my sails..ka mutu pea -.can’t run around on horses like a wild wahina much longer.” “Lan.and ya get to have me. Kate.because--” “Bloody right... “Jesus.” “Yes.” He began to . and let’s not dwell on that... Come here.that’s the best.” “I thought so.. A I’ll have to watch ya. staring off at the rushing white river and finally speaking in a wondering voice... my urbane cowboy. felt it.” “I won’t do that either. except by something unforeseen. “I just knew it....287 “Are ya pregnant?” “Yes. a part of me is growing in ya.” “I understand.” “Now don’t start treating me like fragile glass.... I wouldn’t have done anyway. Kate.” He stretched out his legs and lifted her onto his lap then rubbed his chin over her hair. you’ll never lose me either. let’s.are you afraid of losing me.... I was beginning to worry about that. because I feel the same about you.yeah I am.here at the heart of Green Once I denied ya that. bloody little Gordon-Manutane.” “Come here. I want ya now.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .or whinge or. Loving It means to complain.. Green Eyes. Ya don’t know that expression? happy.. You’re a tough little journalist.because. wondering if you’d ever.

. Katharine smiled as a voice inside her head whispered. of her incredible gift..that and your green eyes. foxy Kate? It’s why I love ya so much.in Maori. No.Careless Child Karlene Kubat .bloody amazing these bottomless pounamu eyes.” “I’m sorry. full of all the greens of our countries. He paused and looked at her.. wait a I think that I want to watch you tell Mary..” He pulled her down against him on the blanket. in one extraordinary sense the richness had turned out to be the fortune of green eyes.288 undo her jeans. THE END . would be just delicious..do ya want to our horses and go tell Mary. mother... don’t ya.. get back on She’ll go round the bend.or wait awhile or--” “Oh. just perfect. tell Mary right away?. of course I want to tell Mary.” There came a sudden vision of her lost mother’s eyes. “Later we’ll eat our sandwiches. Thank you... the gift of this rich and varied life. minute. Lan. gave her an appreciative kiss and said. “Ya know all the right ways to have me.

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