(Short Stories for Students)

Part I: The Return
‘‘The Daffodil Sky’’ opens with the story’s nameless protagonist arriving by train in an unnamed town. A sign forbidding entry to a footbridge that he used to walk across suggests to him that the town has changed since he was last there. His sense that things have changed is confirmed when he enters a pub that he once frequented and finds a new pinball machine and no familiar faces. Falling into conversation with the barman, the protagonist asks about Cora Whitehead, a woman whom he met when he was twenty-two and who used to frequent the pub. The barman does not know Cora. His repeated response to the protagonist’s comments about Cora’s occupation and her acquaintances is that it has ‘‘been a minute’’—that is, a very long time—since any of this information could be veri- fied. One of the patrons, however, knows Cora, and he confirms that she still lives on Wellington Street. The protagonist finishes his drink and leaves.

Part II: Happy Memories
Stepping outside, the protagonist is reminded of the day years before when he first visited the pub. At this point the present fades and gives way to a flashback of past events. As a young farmer bringing a cartload of daffodils to market, the protagonist was caught in a sudden hailstorm one April morning. Running to get into the pub, he collided with Cora. His attraction to her was immediate. Once inside the pub, the protagonist realized that he wouldn’t be able to get to market by noon, for he was trapped there by intermittent hailstorms. Cora reassured him that all would be well, and the luck with which Cora claimed to provide him held true. He managed to sell all of his daffodils to the crowds of late shoppers who ventured out to make purchases at the market.

The encounter with Cora did seem to bring luck to the protagonist. Full of life’s promise, he replaced his cart with a motorcycle—‘‘a Beardmore combination’’ which he purchased from Cora’s friend, Frankie Corbett—and he subsequently invested in a car. As the affair between the protagonist and Cora blossomed, his luck only seemed to improve. By August, the couple was contemplating purchasing the farmland that the protagonist rented from an aging farmer named Osborne, who was willing to sell on easy terms and at a good price. Their combined funds were insufficient, but Cora suggested that Frankie might help them raise the rest. Cora’s offer to help with the purchase prompted the protagonist to propose marriage, and she gladly accepted. His happiness, however, was brief. Six weeks later, on a rainy October night, the protagonist killed Frankie.

Part III: Bitter Memories

(The entire section is 1105 words.)