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>2. Perception “Abernathy!” Camille’s new last name resounded from within the crowd. Brooks looked around. “Thomas! How good of you to come.” A young man with a captivating smile and horn-rimmed glasses hurried over with an attractive woman on his arm. Brooks started introductions.“This is ProfessorThomas Leighton. He teaches psychology at the university and occupies the office next to the one I am to have. He was gracious enough to show me around on my previous trip.” “This is my wife, Eveline,”Thomas said. Brooks nodded and tipped his bowler. “Nice to meet you, and may I introduce my bride, Camille.” Camille managed a thin smile as she set her mother’s gray moiré hatbox by her feet to offer a hand in greeting and rewrap her shawl. A gruff call from the platform announced the unloading of the baggage, and the men hurried over to collect the only material consolations she had left in the world. The women stood in the middle of the platform, jostled from all directions. Eveline addressed her with a velvet smooth voice,“Thomas is so fond of your husband. He said everyone at the university is bubbling over with news of his arrival and the stunning success of his book.” Camille looked over at Brooks as he pulled her father’s old carpetbag from the lading hold and placed it on a jitney. She picked up her hatbox.“Have you read it?” 11 The woman’s long lashes twitched over her fair cheeks. “I’ve skimmed through it.” Camille looked into her hazel eyes. They were painted modestly, but perfectly. Her tawny hair was combed up and wrapped under the side rise of her black hat with precision, and her Wooltex dress was exquisitely tailored to her trim form. Camille sighed and pulled a damp curl out of her face. “I don’t understand it either.” Eveline smiled until they broke into laughter.“I’ve fixed up the guestroom at our home for the two of you.” “You needn’t put yourself to such trouble. Brooks says we can rent a room for tonight and. . .” “I’ve done everything already,” Eveline interrupted.“I’ve been looking forward to your arrival—especially as we are to be neighbors.” “We’re neighbors?” “Yes, Thomas told me your husband purchased the Woods’ house three doors down.” The men finished loading the baggage. Thomas wrote directions for the jitney courier and Brooks paid him. Thomas helped Camille up into the backseat of his scroll spring surrey. Brooks climbed up beside her with a sly wink. AsThomas shook the reins, the two large roans clomped over the red bricks of Congress Avenue toward the capitol building . Eveline pointed out the finest shopping establishments while Thomas provided them with a more historical and architectural account of what could be seen through the darkening mist. He showed them two opera houses, four saloons, and the Littlefield Building, which, as he explained, would be the tallest skyscraper between New Orleans and San Francisco upon completion of the ninth floor—currently under construction strictly for the purpose of justifying the claim. They drove around the massive capitol building and 12 Comfort and Mirth past the northwestern corner of the university grounds where Brooks named one building after another. His voice faded as Camille’s vision blurred. She closed her eyes and huddled herself against the icy fist tightening its grip within her chest. Eveline put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you well, Camille?” “Quite. I’ve just taken a chill.” “Don’t take cold now,” Eveline exclaimed. “Not just before Christmas. I have Irish stew on the stove, and I’ll make some tea.” “We’ll go by the house first,” Brooks said.“I’m anxious for Camille to see it.” “No!” Camille blurted.“Not now, dear—please. I can’t.” She shuddered from the damp cold that seemed to originate from within her and emanate outward. “Why not? We’ll pass right by it for heaven’s sake!” Eveline reached over and took Camille’s hands in her own. “Why, she’s shivering. She’ll take ill for sure. Please hurry,Thomas.We need to get her out of this weather.” Thomas snapped the reins, and the horses quickened their pace. “I’ll pass around on Rio Grande,” he said. “We’ll be there in no time.” Camille looked up into Brooks’ incredulous glare. “Not in this gray drizzle,” she explained.“I don’t want to see it...


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MARC Record
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