In the evening, before the “Victor
” concert, came the reading aloud: this was one of her great pleasures.
No history or philosophy for the evening reading; she must have a novel (not a “problem novel” ; these she detested!)--a good stirring tale, with-plenty of action in it. She thrilled over “With fire and sword,” “Kim
,” “The Master of Ballantrae.”
She could not bear to hear of financial anxieties or of physical suffering.
“It gives me a pain in my knee!”
We see her now, sitting a little forward in her straight-backed chair, holding the hand of the reading granddaughter, alert and tense.
When a catastrophe appears imminent, “Stop a minutes” she cries.
“I cannot bear it!” --and the reader must pause while she gathers courage to face disaster with the hero, or dash with him through peril to safety.
She would almost be sorry when the doorbell announced a visitor; almost, not quite, for flesh and blood were better than fiction.
If the caller were a familiar friend, how her face lighted up!
“Oh! Now we can have whist!”
The table is brought out, the mother-of-pearl counters (a Cutler relic: we remember that Mr. Ward
did not allow cards in his house!), and the order for the rest of the evening is “A clear fire, a clean hearth, and the rigor of the game!” --
It was a happy day when, as chanced once or twice, Mr. Ernest Schelling
, coming on from New York to play with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
, offered to come and play to her, “all by herself, whatever she wanted, and for as long as she liked.”