a selection from: CHAPTER I-
The new-laid harvest straw beneath the faded red carpet rustled crisply under Martha's shapeless felt slippers as she padded across the living-room to the cluttered mantel.
With the quizzical grimace of long-neglected astigmatism she adjusted the steel-bowed spectacles that had been her mother's, had of a notion peddler for two dozen eggs and a pound of butter.
The wooden-wheeled clock--a noisy but amazingly accurate and exquisitely ornamented product of old Ferd's, while laid up one winter with a broken leg that had kept him two months sober--clacked irascibly at Martha that another blistering August morning was nearly five hours old. High time, indeed, that the day's work began. Not much wonder the Millers were poor.
Dragging her slipper-heels to the door of the spare bedroom which, in spite of her continued protests, Susan and Greta had insisted on occupying of late, Martha vigorously rattled the latch.
Glumly appeased by assurances from within, she returned to the dingy kitchen and peered into the kettle to see if there was enough water to prime the parching pump under the pear tree.
Then, kettle in hand, she plodded to the foot of the narrow stairs, and petulantly called:
* * * * *
Outstretched on velvet moss so soft and deep it yielded to every curve of her supple young body, Julia knew that if she stirred, the least bit, she would never be able to recapture the complete satisfaction of this luxurious languor.
Doubtless it was too much to expect that an experience so strangely sweet could be quite real. Sooner or later, something or somebody would invade her peace. A tall giraffe would saunter up and thrust his long nose into the top of the banana tree. Giraffes ate bananas, didn't they? . . . Or a big man with a blue coat and shiny buttons would order her off. . . . Or there would be a peremptory summons from afar to come at once!
Julia's unbuckled consciousness was already troubled by the persistent echo of a distant call. It had seemed to come from the depths of this tropical forest--a faint but urgent cry for help. The voice had sounded tired, plaintive, persecuted--just like Martha's.