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Onthisafternoon,shewatchedwithaheartfullofadmirationinhereyes.Theclapper,awareof
Francie'sadmiration,showedoff.Sheclappedtheerasersonthebrickwall,onthestonewalk
andasafinale,behindherback.ShespoketoFrancie.
"Wanttosee'emrealclose?"
Francienoddedshyly.Thegirlbroughtaneraserclosetothemesh.Franciepokedafinger
throughtotouchthevari-coloredfeltlayersblendedtogetherby afilmofpowderedchalk.As
shewasabouttotouchthissoftbeautifulness,thelittlegirlsnatcheditawayandspatfullin
Francie'sface.Francieclosedhereyestightlytokeepthehurtbittertearsfromspillingout.The
othergirlstoodtherecuriously,waitingforthetears.Whennonecame,shetaunted:
"Whydon'tyoubustoutcrying,youdockle?WantIshouldspitinyourfaceagain?"
Francieturnedandwentdownintothecellarandsatinthedarkalongtimewaitinguntilthe
wavesofhurtstoppedbreakingoverher.Itwasthefirstofmanydisillusionmentsthatwereto
comeashercapacitytofeelthingsgrew.Sheneverlikedblackboarderasersafterthat.
Thekitchenwaslivingroom,diningroom,andcookingroom.Thereweretwolongnarrow
windowsinonewall.Anironcoalrangewasrecessedinanotherwall.Abovethestovethe
recesswasmadeofcoral-coloredbricksandcreamywhiteplaster.Ithadastonemantelpiece
andaslatehearthstoneonwhichFranciecoulddrawpictureswithchalk.Nexttothestovewas
awaterboilerwhichgothotwhenthefirewasgoing.Oftenonacoldday,Franciecamein
chilledandputherarmsaroundtheboilerandpressedherfrostycheekgratefullyagainstits
warmsilveriness.
Nexttotheboilerwasapairofsoapstonewashtubswithahingedwoodencover.Thepartition
couldberemovedandthetwothrownintooneforabathtub.Itdidn'tmakeaverygoodbathtub.
SometimeswhenFranciesatinit,thecoverbangeddownonherhead.Thebottomwasrubbly
andshecameoutofwhatshouldhavebeenarefreshingbath,allsorefromsittingonthatwet
roughness.Thentherewerefourfaucetstocontendwith.Nomatterhowthechildtriedto
rememberthattheywereinflexiblythereandwouldn'tgiveway,shewouldjumpupsuddenly
outofthesoapywaterandgetherbackwhackedgoodonafaucet.Franciehadaperpetual
angryweltonherback.
Followingthekitchen,thereweretwobedrooms,oneleadingintotheother.Anairshaft
dimensionedlikeacoffinwasbuiltintothebedrooms.Thewindowsweresmallanddingygray.
Youcouldopenanairshaftwindow,maybe,ifyouusedachiselandhammer.Butwhenyoudid,
youwererewardedwithablastofcolddankair.Theairshaftwastoppedbyaminiature,
slant-roofedskylightwhoseheavy,opaque,wrinkledglasswasprotectedfrombreakageby
heavy,ironnetting.Thesideswerecorrugatedironslats.Thisarrangementsupposedly
suppliedlightandairtothebedrooms.Buttheheavyglass,ironfencinganddirtofmanyyears
refusedtofilterthelightthrough.Theopeningsinthesideswerechokedwithdust,sootand
cobwebs.Noaircouldcomein,but,stubbornlyenough,rainandsnowcouldgetin.Onstormy
days,thewoodenbottomoftheairshaftwaswetandsmokyandgaveoutatomb-ysmell.
Theairshaftwasahorribleinvention.Evenwiththewindowstightlysealed,itservedasa
soundingboxandyoucouldheareverybody'sbusiness.Ratsscurriedaroundthebottom.
Therewasalwaysthedangeroffire.Amatchabsentlytossedintotheairshaftbyadrunken
teamsterundertheimpressionthathewasthrowingitintotheyardorstreetwouldsetthe
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houseafireinamoment.Therewerevilethingsclutteringupthebottom.Sincethisbottom
couldn'tbereachedbyman(thewindowsbeingtoosmalltoadmitthepassageofabody),it
servedasafearfulrepositoryforthingsthatpeoplewantedtoputoutoftheirlives.Rustedrazor
bladesandbloodyclothswerethemostinnocentitems.OnceFrancielookeddownintothe
airshaft.ShethoughtofwhatthepriestsaidaboutPurgatoryandfigureditmustbelikethe
airshaftbottomonlyonalargerscale.WhenFranciewentintotheparlor,shepassedthrough
thebedroomsshudderingandwithhereyesshut.
TheparlororfrontroomwasTheRoom.Itstwohighnarrowwindowsfacedontheexciting
street.Thethirdfloorwassohighupthatstreetnoisesweremutedintoacomfortingsound.
Theroomwasaplaceofdignity.Ithaditsowndoorleadingintothehall.Companycouldbe
admittedwithouthavingtowalkthroughthebedroomsfromthekitchen.Thehighwallswere
coveredwithasomberwallpaper,darkbrownwithgoldenstripes.Thewindowshadinside
shuttersofslattedwoodwhichtelescopedintoanarrowspaceoneitherside.Franciespent
manyhappyhourspullingoutthesehingedshuttersandwatchingthemfoldbackagainata
touchofherhand.Itwasanever-tiringmiraclethatthatwhichcouldcoverawholewindowand
blotoutlightandair,couldstillmeeklycompressitselfinitslittleclosetandpresentan
innocentlypaneledfronttotheeye.
Alowparlorstovewasbuiltintoablackmarblefireplace.Onlythefronthalfofthestovewasin
view.Itlookedlikeagianthalvedmelonwiththeroundsideout.Itwasmadeofnumerous
isinglasswindowswithjustenoughthincarvedirontoformaframework.AtChristmastime,the
onlytimeKatiecouldaffordtohaveafireintheparlor,allofthelittlewindowsglowedand
Franciefeltagreatjoysittingthere,feelingthewarmthandwatchingthewindowschangefrom
rosyredtoamberasthenightworeon.AndwhenKatiecameinandlitthegas,chasingthe
shadowsawayandpalingthelightinthestovewindows,itwaslikeagreatsinthatshe
committed.
Themostwonderfulthingaboutthefrontroomwasthepiano.Thiswasamiraclethatyoucould
prayforallyourlifeanditwouldnevercometopass.ButthereitstoodintheNolanparlor,a
realtruemiraclethathadcomewithoutawishoraprayer.Thepianohadbeenleftthereby the
previoustenantswhocouldnotaffordtopaytohaveitmoved.
Piano-movinginthosedayswasaproject.Nopianocouldbegottendownthosenarrowsteep
stairs.Pianoshadtobebundledup,ropedandhoistedoutofthewindowswithanenormous
pulleyontheroofandwithmuchshouting,arm-wavingandbrass-hattingonthepartoftheboss
mover.Thestreethadtoberopedoff,thepolicemenhadtokeepthecrowdsbackandchildren
hadtoplayhookyfromschoolwhentherewasapianomoving.Therewasalwaysthatgreat
momentwhenthewrappedbulkswungclearofthewindowandtwisteddizzilyintheairfora
momentbeforeitrighteditself.Thenbegantheslowperilousdescentwhilethechildren
cheeredhoarsely.
Itwasajobthatcostfifteendollars,threetimes;whatitcosttomovealltherestofthefurniture.
SotheowneraskedKatiecouldsheleaveitandwouldKatieminditforher?Katiewasgladto
giveherthepromise.WistfullythewomanaskedKatienottoletitgetdamporcold,toleavethe
bedroomdoorsopeninwintersoalittleheatwouldgetthroughfromthekitchenandprevent
warping.
"Canyouplayit?"Katieaskedher.
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"No,"saidthewomansorrowfully."Nooneinthefamilycanplay.IwishIcould."
"Whydidyoueverbuyit?"
"Itwasinarichhouse.Thepeopleweresellingitcheap.Iwanteditsomuch.No,Icouldn'tplay
it.Butitwassobeautiful...Itdressesupthewholeroom."
Katiepromisedtotakegoodcareofituntilthewomancouldaffordtosendforitbutasthings
turnedout,thewomanneverdidsendforitandtheNolanshadthisbeautifulthingforalways.
Itwassmallandmadeofblackpolishedwoodthatgloweddarkly.Thefrontofthinveneerswas
cutouttomakeaprettypatternandtherewasold-rosesilkbehindthisfrettedwooddesign.Its
liddidnotfoldbackinsectionslikeotheruprights.Itjustturnedbackandrestedagainstthe
designedwoodlikealovely,dark,polishedshell.Therewasacandleholderoneitherside.You
couldputpurewhitecandlesinthemandplaybythecandlelightwhichthrewdreamyshadows
overthecreamyivoriedkeys.Andyoucouldseethekeysagaininthedarkcover.
WhentheNolanswalkedintothefrontroomontheirfirstpossessivetourofinspection,the
pianowastheonlythingthatFranciesaw.Shetriedtogetherarmsarounditbutitwastoobig.
Shehadtobecontenttohugthefaded-rosebrocadestool.
Katielookedatthepianowithdancingeyes.Shehadnoticedawhitecardintheflatwindow
belowwhichsaid,"PianoLessons."Katiehadanidea.
Johnnysatonthemagicstool,whichturnedaroundandwentupordownaccordingtoyoursize,
andplayed.Hecouldn'tplay,ofcourse.Hecouldn'treadnotesinthefirstplacebutheknewa
fewchords.Hecouldsingasongandstrikeachordnowandthenandreallyitsoundedas
thoughheweresingingtomusic.Hestruckaminorchord,lookedintotheeyesofhisoldest
childandsmiledacrookedsmile.Franciesmiledback,herheartwaitinginanticipation.He
strucktheminorchordagain;heldit.Toitssoftecho,hesanginhiscleartruevoice:
Maxwellton'sbraesarebonny,
Whe'earlfae'sthedew.
(Chord-chord.)
An''twastherethatAnnieLaurie,
Giedmeherpromisetrue.
(Chord-chord-chord-chord.)
Francielookedaway,notwantingpapatoseehertears.Shewasafraidhe'daskherwhyshe
wascryingandshewouldn'tbeabletotellhim.Shelovedhimandshelovedthepiano.She
couldfindnoexcuseforhereasytears.
Katiespoke.HervoicehadsomeoftheoldsofttendernessinitwhichJohnnyhadbeenmissing
inthelastyearorso."IsthatanIrishsong,Johnny?"
"Scotch."
"Ineverheardyousingitbefore."
"No,Iguessnot.It'sjustasongIknow.Ineversingitbecauseit'snotthekindofsongpeople
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wanttohearattheracketswhereIwork.They'dsoonerhear'CallMeUpSomeRainy
Afternoon.'Exceptwhenthey'redrunk.Thennothingbut'SweetAdeline'willdo."
Theywerequicklysettledinthenewplace.Thefamiliarfurniturelookedstrange.Franciesaton
achairandwassurprisedthatitfeltthesameasithadinLorimerStreet.
She
feltdifferent.Why
didn'tthechairfeeldifferent?
Thefrontroomlookedprettyafterpapaandmamagotitfixedup.Therewasabrightgreen
carpetwhichhadgreatpinkroses.Therewerestarchedcream-coloredlacecurtainsforthe
windows,atablewithamarbletopforthecenteroftheroomandathree-piecegreenplush
parlorsuit.Abamboostandinthecornerheldaplush-coveredalbuminwhichwerepicturesof
theRommelysistersasbabieslyingontheirstomachsonafurrug,andpatient-looking
great-auntsstandingattheshouldersofseated,big-mustachedhusbands.Littlesouvenircups
stoodonthesmallshelves.Thecupswerepinkandblueandhadgold-encrusteddesignsof
blueforget-me-notsandredAmericanbeautyroses.Therewerephraseslike
RememberMe
and
TrueFriendship
paintedingold.ThetinycupsandsaucerswerememoriesofKatie'sold
girlfriendsandFranciewasneverpermittedtoplayhousewiththem.
Onthebottomshelfstoodacurly,bone-whiteconchshellwithadelicaterosyinterior.The
childrenloveditdearlyandhadgivenitanaffectionatename:Tootsy.WhenFranciehelditto
herear,itsangofthegreatsea.SometimesforthedelightofhischildrenJohnnylistenedtothe
shell,thenhelditdramaticallyatarm'slength,lookedatitmeltinglyandsang:
UpontheshoreIfoundashell.
Iheldittomyear.
Ilistenedgladlywhileitsang,
Aseasongsweetandclear.
Later,FranciesawtheseaforthefirsttimewhenJohnnytookthemtoCanarsie.Theseawas
remarkableonlyinthatitsoundedlikethetinysweetroarofTootsy,theconchshell.
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XVI
THEneighborhoodstoresareanimportantpartofacitychild'slife.Theyarehiscontactwith
thesuppliesthatkeeplifegoing;theyholdthebeautythathissoullongsfor;theyholdthe
unattainablethathecanonlydreamandwishfor.
Francielikedthepawnshopalmostthebest-notforthetreasuresprodigiouslythrownintoits
barredwindows;notfortheshadowyadventureofshawledwomenslippingintotheside
entrance,butforthethreelargegoldenballsthathunghighabovetheshopandgleamedinthe
sunorswayedlanguorouslylikeheavygoldenappleswhenthewindblew.
Therewasabakerystoretoonesideofitwhichsoldbeautifulcharlotterusseswithredcandied
cherriesontheirwhippedcreamtopsforthosewhowererichenoughtobuy.
OntheothersidewasGollender'sPaintShop.Therewasastandinfrontofitfromwhichwas
suspendedaplatewithadramaticallymendedcrackacrossitandaholeboredintothebottom
fromwhichhungaheavyrocksuspendedonachain.Thisprovedhowstrong
Major'sCement
was.SomesaidtheplatewasmadeofironandpaintedtoresemblecrackedChina.ButFrancie
preferredtobelieveitwasarealplatethathadbeenbrokenandthenmadewholeagainbythe
miracleofthecement.
ThemostinterestingstorewashousedinalittleshantywhichhadbeentherewhentheIndians
prowledthroughWilliamsburg.Itlookedqueeramongthetenementswithitstinysmall-paned
windows,clapboardsandsteepslantingroof.Thestorehadagreatsmall-paneledbaywindow
behindwhichadignifiedmansatatatableandmadecigars-longthindark-brownoneswhich
soldfourforanickel.Hechosetheoutsideleafverycarefullyfromahandoftobaccoandfilledit
expertlywithbitsoftobaccoofmixedbrownsandrolleditallverybeautifullysothatitwastight
andthinandtheendshadsquaredcorners.Acraftsmanoftheoldschool,hescornedprogress.
Herefusedtohavegaslightinhisstore.Sometimeswhenthedaysgrewdarkearlyandhestill
hadalotofcigarstofinish,heworkedbycandlelight.HehadawoodenIndianoutsidehisstore
whichstoodinathreateningstanceonawoodenblock.Heheldatomahawkinonehandanda
handoftobaccointheother.HeworeRomansandalswiththelacingscomingtohisknees,a
shortskirtoffeathersandawarbonnetallofwhichwerepaintedinbrightreds,bluesand
yellows.Thecigarmakergavehimafreshcoatofpaintfourtimesayearandcarriedhiminside
whenitrained.TheneighborhoodchildrencalledtheIndian"AuntMaimie."
OneofFrancie'sfavoritestoreswastheonewhichsoldnothingbuttea,coffeeandspices.It
wasanexcitingplaceofrowsoflacqueredbinsandstrange,romantic,exoticodors.Therewere
adozenscarletcoffeebinswithadventurouswordswrittenacrossthefrontinblackChinaink:
Brazil!Argentine!Turkish!Java!MixedBlend!Theteawasinsmallerbins:beautifulbinswith
slopingcovers.Theyread:Oolong!Formosa!OrangePekoe!BlackChina!FloweringAlmond!
Jasmine!IrishTea!Thespiceswereinminiaturebinsbehindthecounter.Theirnames
marchedinarowacrosstheshelves:cinnamon-cloves-ginger-all-spice-ball
nutmeg-curry-peppercorns-sage-thyme-marjoram.Allpepperwhenpurchasedwasgroundina
tinypeppermill.
Therewasalargehand-turnedcoffeegrinder.Thebeanswereputintoashinybrasshopper,
andthegreatwheelwasturnedwithtwohands.Thefragrantgroundspattereddownintoa
scarletboxthatwasshapedlikeascoopattheback.
(TheNolansgroundtheircoffeeathome.Francielovedtoseemamasittingdebonairlyinthe
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kitchenwiththecoffeemillclutchedbetweenherknees,grindingawaywithafuriousturnofher
leftwristandlookinguptotalksparklinglytopapawhiletheroomfilledupwiththerich
satisfyingodoroffreshly-groundcoffee.)
Theteamanhadawonderfulpairofscales:twogleamingbrassplateswhichhadbeenrubbed
andpolisheddailyformorethantwenty-fiveyearsuntilnowtheywerethinanddelicateand
lookedlikeburnishedgold.WhenFrancieboughtapoundofcoffeeoranounceofpeppershe
watchedwhileapolishedsilverblockwiththeweightmarkwasplacedinonescaleandthe
fragrantpurchasewasconveyedgentlybymeansofasilver-likescoopintotheother.Francie,
watching,heldherbreathwhilethescoopdroppedinafewmoregrainsorgentlyeasedsome
out.Itwasabeautifulpeacefulsecondwhenbothgoldenplateswerestilledandstoodtherein
perfectbalance.Itwasasifnothingwrongcouldhappeninaworldwherethingsbalancedso
stilly.
ThemysteryofmysteriestoFranciewastheChinaman'sone-windowedstore.TheChinaman
worehispigtailwoundaroundhishead.ThatwassohecouldgobacktoChinaifhewantedto,
mamasaid.Oncehecutitoff,theywouldneverlethimreturn.Heshuffledbackandforth
silentlyinhisblackfeltslippersandlistenedpatientlytoinstructionsaboutshirts.WhenFrancie
spoketohim,hefoldedhishandsinthewidesleevesofhisnankeenshirtcoatandkepthis
eyesontheground.Shethoughtthathewaswiseandcontemplativeandlistenedwithallhis
heart.Butheunderstoodnothingofwhatshesaid,havinglittleEnglish.Allheknewwas
tickee
and
shirtee
.
WhenFranciebroughtherfather'ssoiledshirtthere,hewhiskeditunderthecounter,tooka
squareofmysteriouslytexturedpaper,dippedathinbrushintoapotofIndiaInk,madeafew
strokesandgaveherthismagicdocumentinexchangeforacommondirtyshirt.Itseemeda
wonderfulbarter.
Theinsideofthestorehadacleanwarmbutfragilescent,likeodorlessflowersinahotroom.
Hedidthewashinginsomemysteriousrecessanditmusthavebeeninthedeadofnight
becauseallday,fromseveninthemorninguntiltenatnight,hestoodinthestoreathisclean
ironingboardpushingaheavyblackironbackandforth.Theironmusthavehadatinygasoline
arrangementinsideittokeepithot.Franciedidnotknowthis.Shethoughtitpartofthemystery
ofhisracethathecouldironwithanironneverheatedonastove.Shehadavaguetheorythat
theheatcamefromsomethingheusedinplaceofstarchintheshirtsandcollars.
WhenFranciebroughtaticketandadimebackandpushedthemacrossthecounter,hegave
herthewrappedshirtandtwolicheenutsinexchange.Francielovedtheselicheenuts.There
wasacrispeasilybrokenshellandthesoftsweetmeatinside.Insidethemeatwasahard
stonethatnochildhadeverbeenabletobreakopen.Itwassaidthatthisstonecontaineda
smallerstoneandthatthesmallerstonecontainedasmallerstonewhichcontainedayet
smallerstoneandsoon.Itwassaidthatsoonthestonesgotsosmallyoucouldonlyseethem
withamagnifyingglassandthosesmalleronesgotstillsmalleruntilyoucouldn'tseethemwith
anythingbuttheywerealwaysthereandwouldneverstopcoming.ItwasFrancie'sfirst
experiencewithinfinity.
Thebesttimeswerewhenhehadtomakechange.Hebroughtoutasmallwoodenframe
strungwiththinrodsonwhichwereblue,red,yellowandgreenballs.Heslidtheballsupthe
brassrods,ponderedswiftly,clickedthemallbackintoplaceandannounced"dirty-ninecent."
Thetinyballstoldhimhowmuchtochargeandhowmuchchangetogive.
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Oh,tobeaChinaman,wishedFrancie,andhavesuchaprettytoytocounton;oh,toeatallthe
licheenutsshewantedandtoknowthemysteryoftheironthatwaseverhotandyetnever
stoodonastove.Oh,topaintthosesymbolswithaslightbrushandaquickturnofthewristand
tomakeaclearblackmarkasfragileasapieceofabutterflywing!Thatwasthemysteryofthe
OrientinBrooklyn.
XVII
PIANOlessons!Magicwords!AssoonastheNolansweresettled,Katiecalledonthelady
whosecardannouncedpianolessons.ThereweretwoMissTynmores.MissLizzietaught
pianoandMissMaggiecultivatedthevoice.Thechargewastwenty-fivecentsperlesson.Katie
proposedabargain.She'ddoonehour'scleaningworkfortheTynmoresinexchangefora
lessoneachweek.MissLizziedemurred,claiminghertimehadmorevaluethanKatie'stime.
Katiearguedthattimewastime.FinallyshegotMissLizzietoagreethattimewastimeand
arrangementsweremade.
Thehistory-makingdayofthefirstlessonarrived.FrancieandNeeleywereinstructedtositin
thefrontroomduringthelessonandtokeeptheireyesandearsopen.Achairwasplacedfor
theteacher.Thechildrensatsidebysideontheothersideofthepiano,Katienervously
adjustedandreadjustedtheseatandthethreesatwaiting.
MissTynmorearrivedonthedotoffive.Althoughsheonlycamefromdownstairs,shewas
formallyattiredinstreetclothes.Atautspottedveilwasstretchedoverherface.Herhatwasthe
breastandwingofaredbirdtormentinglypiercedbytwohatpins.Franciestaredatthecruelhat.
Mamatookherintothebedroomandwhisperedthatthebirdwasn'tabirdatalljustsome
feathersgluedtogetherandthatshemustn'tstare.Shebelievedmama,yethereyeskeptgoing
backtothetormentedeffigy.
MissTynmorebroughteverythingwithherbutthepiano.Shehadanickelalarmclockanda
batteredmetronome.Theclocksaidfiveo'clock.Shesetitforsixandstooditonthepiano.She
tooktheprivilegeofusinguppartoftheprecioushour.Sheremovedherpearl-gray,skin-tight
kidgloves,blewintoeachfinger,smoothedandfoldedthemandplacedthemonthepiano.She
undidherveil.andthrewitbackoverherhat.Shelimberedupherfingers,glancedattheclock,
wassatisfiedshehadtakenenoughminutes,startedthemetronome,tookherseatandthe
lessonbegan.
Franciewassofascinatedby themetronomethatshefoundithardtolistentowhatMiss
Tynmoresaidandtowatchthewaysheplacedmama'shandsonthekeys.Sheweaved
dreamsintimetothesoothingmonotonousclicking.AsforNeeley,hisroundblueeyesrolled
backandforthfollowingthelittleswingingroduntilhehypnotizedhimselfintounconsciousness.
Hismouthrelaxedandhisblondheadrolledoveronhisshoulder.Alittlebubblecameandwent
ashebreathedmoistly.KatiedarednotwakehimlestMissTynmorecatchonthatshewas
teachingthreeforthepriceofone.
Themetronomeclickedondreamily,theclocktickedquerulously.MissTynmore,asifnot
trustingthemetronome,counted,
one
,two,three;
one
,two,three.Katie'swork-swollenfingers
struggleddoggedlywithherfirstscale.Timepassedanditgrewdarkintheroom.Suddenlythe
alarmclockrangoutshatteringly.Francie'sheartjumpedandNeeleyfelloffhischair.Thefirst
lessonwasended.Katie'swordstumbledovereachotheringratitude.
"EvenifInevertakeanotherlesson,Icouldgoonwithwhatyoutaughtmetoday.Youarea
goodteacher."
MissTynmore,whilepleasedbytheflattery,neverthelesstoldKatiewhatwaswhat."Iwon't
chargeextraforthechildren.Ijustwantyoutoknowyou'renotfoolingme."Katieblushedand
thechildrenlookeddownonthefloor,ashamedofbeingfoundout."Iwillpermitthechildrento
stayintheroom."
Katiethankedher.MissTynmorestoodupandwaited.Katieverifiedthetimeshewastodo
MissTynmore'shousework.Stillshewaited.Katiefeltthatsomethingwasexpectedofher.
Finallysheinquired,
"Yes?"
MissTynmoreflushedashellpinkandspokeproudly."Theladies...whereIgivelessons...
well...theyoffermeacupofteaafterwards."Sheputherhandtoherheartandexplained
vaguely,"Thosestairs."
"Wouldyousoonertakecoffee?"Katieasked."Wehavenotea."
"Gladly!"MissTynmoresatdowninrelief.
Katierushedouttothekitchenandheatedthecoffeewhichwasalwaysstandingonthestove.
Whileitwaswarming,sheputasugarbunandaspoononaroundtintray.
Inthemeantime,Neeleyhadfallenasleeponthesofa.MissTynmoreandFranciesat
exchangingstares.FinallyMissTynmoreasked,
"Whatareyouthinkingabout,littlegirl?"
"Justthinking,"Franciesaid.
"SometimesIseeyousittingontheguttercurbforhours.Whatdoyouthinkofthen?"
"Nothing.Ijusttellmyselfstories."
MissTynmorepointedathersternly."Littlegirl,you'llbeastorywriterwhenyougrowup."It
wasacommandratherthanastatement.
"Yesma'am,"agreedFrancieoutofpoliteness.
Katiecameinwiththetray."Thismaynotbeasrefinedasyou'reusedto,"sheapologized,"but
it'swhatwehaveinthehouse."
"It'sverygood,"statedMissTynmoredaintily.Thensheconcentratedontryingnottowolfit
down.
Totellthetruth,theTynmoreslivedonthe"tea"theygotfromtheirpupils.Afewlessonsaday
ataquarteralessondidnotmakeforprosperity.Afterpayingtheirrent,therewaslittleleftto
eaton.Mostoftheladiesservedthemweakteaandsodacrackers.Theladiesknewwhatwas
politeandwouldcomethroughwithacupofteabuttheyhadnointentionofsupplyingameal
andpayingaquarter,too.SoMissTynmorecametolookforwardtothehourattheNolans.
Thecoffeewashearteningandtherewasalwaysabunorabolognasandwichtosustainher.
Aftereachlesson,Katietaughtthechildrenwhatshehadbeentaught.Shemadethempractice
halfanhoureachday.Intime,allthreeofthemlearnedtoplaythepiano.
WhenJohnnyheardthatMaggieTynmoregavevoicelessons,hefiguredthathecoulddono
lessthanKatie.HeofferedtorepairabrokensashcordinoneoftheTynmorewindowsin
exchangefortwovoicelessonsforFrancie.Johnny,whohadneverevenseenasashcordin
allhislife,gotahammerandscrewdriverandtookthewholewindowframeoutofitscase.He
lookedatthebrokenropeandthatwasasfarashecouldgo.Heexperimentedandgot
nowhere.Hisheartwaswillingbuthisskillwasnil.Inattemptingtobetthewindowbackinto
keepoutthecoldwinterrainthatwasblowingintotheroomwhilehewasfiguringoutaboutthe
sashcord,hebrokeapaneofglass.Thedealfellthrough.TheTynmoreshadtogetaregular
windowmanintofixit.Katiehadtodotwowashingsfreeforthegirlstomakeupforitand
Francie'svoicelessonswereabandonedforever.
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