The City of Fire (Chapter 10, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 10

The benediction held a tenderness that fairly compelled the waiting
congregation to attend with their hearts.

* * * * * "Let's go over there and hear that girl play," suggested Laurie
suddenly, "Church is out and we'll make her play the bells. They're
simply great. She's some player!"

Opal leaned back in her chair and regarded him through the fringes of
her eyelashes, laughing a silvery peal that shivered into the reverence
of the benediction like a shower of icicles going down the back.
Marilyn heard and blended the Amen into the full organ to break the
shock as the startled congregation moved restlessly, with half unclosed
eyes. Elder Harricutt heard, shut his eyes tighter, and pressed severe
lips together with resistance. This doubtless was that woman they
called Cherry. That irreverent Mark Carter must be close at hand. And
on the rose-vined porch Laurence Shafton felt the sting of the laugh
and drew himself together: "Oh, Laurie, Laurie!" she mocked, "You might as well be dead at
Saybrook Inn or imprisoned for killing a family as fall in love with
that girl. She isn't at all your kind. How would you look singing
psalms? But come on, I'm game! I can see how she'll hate me. Can you
walk?"

They sauntered slowly over to the church in the fragrant darkness, he
leaning on a cane he had found by the door. The kindly, curious people
coming out eyed them interestedly, looking toward the two cars in front
of the parsonage, and wondered. It was a neighborhood where everybody
took a kindly interest in everybody else, and the minister belonged to
them all. Nothing went on at his house that they did not just love and
dote on.

"Seems to me that girl has an awful low-necked dress for Sunday night,"
said Mrs. Little to Mrs. Jones as they walked slowly down the street,
"Did you catch the flash of those diamonds on her neck and fingers?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Jones contemptuously, "paint on her face too, thick as
pie crust. I saw her come. She drove her own car and her dresses were
up to her knees, and such stockings! With stripes like lace in them!
And little slippers with heels like knitting needles! I declare, I
don't know what this generation is coming to! I'm glad my Nancy never
wanted to go away to boarding school. They say it's terrible, the
boldness of young girls nowadays."

"Well, if you'd ask me, I'd say she wasn't so very
young!" declared Mrs. Little. "The light from the church door
was full in her face when I was coming down the steps, and she looked
as if she'd cut her eye teeth sometime past."

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