Athalie (Chapter 5, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 5

There was a suffocating stench of cabbage in hallway and corridor as
usual when Athalie came in that evening. She paused to rest a tired
foot on the first step of the stairway, for a moment or two, quietly
breathing her fatigue, then addressed herself to the monotonous labour
before her, which was to climb five flights of unventilated stairs,
let herself into the tiny apartment with her latch-key, and
immediately begin her part in preparing the evening meal for three.

Doris, now twenty-one, sprawled on a lounge in her faded wrapper
reading an evening paper. Catharine, a year younger, stood by a
bureau, some drawers of which had been pulled out, sorting over odds
and ends of crumpled finery.

"Well," remarked Doris to Athalie, as she came in, "what do you
know?"

"Nothing," said Athalie listlessly.

Doris rattled the evening paper: "Gee!" she commented, "it's getting
to be something fierce--all these young girls disappearing! Here's
another--they can't account for it; her parents say she had no love
affair--" And she began to read the account aloud while Catharine
continued to sort ribbons and Athalie dropped into a big, shabby
chair, legs extended, arms pendant.

When Doris finished reading she tossed the paper over to Athalie who
let it slide from her knees to the floor.

"Her picture is there," said Doris. "She isn't pretty."

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