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Un Morso Doo Pang
When you are twenty you do not patronize sunsets unless you are unhappy, in love, or
both. Tessie Golden was both. Six months ago a sunset had wrung from her only a casual
tribute, such as: "My! Look how red the sky is!" delivered as unemotionally as a weather
bulletin.
Tessie Golden sat on the top step of the back porch now, a slim, inert heap in a cotton
house coat and scuffed slippers. Her head was propped wearily against the porch post.
Her hands were limp in her lap. Her face was turned toward the west, where shone that
mingling of orange and rose known as salmon pink. But no answering radiance in the
girl's face met the glow in the Wisconsin sky.
Saturday night, after supper in Chippewa, Wisconsin, Tessie Golden of the presunset era
would have been calling from her bedroom to the kitchen: "Ma, what'd you do with my
pink blouse?"
And from the kitchen: "It's in your second bureau drawer. The collar was kind of mussed
from Wednesday night, and I give it a little pressing while my iron was on."
At seven-thirty Tessie would have emerged from her bedroom in the pink blouse that
might have been considered alarmingly frank as to texture and precariously low as to
neck had Tessie herself not been so reassuringly unopulent; a black taffeta skirt, very
brief; a hat with a good deal of French blue about it; fragile high-heeled pumps with
bows.
As she passed through the sitting room on her way out, her mother would appear in the
doorway, dishtowel in hand. Her pride in this slim young thing and her love of her she
concealed with a thin layer of carping criticism.
"Runnin' downtown again, I s'pose." A keen eye on the swishing skirt hem.
Tessie, the quick-tongued, would toss the wave of shining hair that lay against either
glowing cheek. "Oh, my, no! I just thought I'd dress up in case Angie Hatton drove past
in her auto and picked me up for a little ride. So's not to keep her waiting."
Angie Hatton was Old Man Hatton's daughter. Anyone in the Fox River Valley could
have told you who Old Man Hatton was. You saw his name at the top of every letterhead
of any importance in Chippewa, from the Pulp and Paper Mill to the First National Bank,
and including the watch factory, the canning works, and the Mid-Western Land
Company. Knowing this, you were able to appreciate Tessie's sarcasm. Angie Hatton was
as unaware of Tessie's existence as only a young woman could be whose family
residence was in Chippewa, Wisconsin, but who wintered in Italy, summered in the
mountains, and bought (so the town said) her very hairpins in New York. When Angie
Hatton came home from the East the town used to stroll past on Mondays to view the
 
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