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Song of the Lark

Part II. The Song Of The Lark
Chapter II.1
THEA and Dr. Archie had been gone from Moonstone four days. On the
afternoon of the nineteenth of October they were in a street-car, riding through
the depressing, unkept wastes of North Chicago, on their way to call upon the
Reverend Lars Larsen, a friend to whom Mr. Kronborg had written. Thea was still
staying at the rooms of the Young Women's Christian Association, and was
miserable and homesick there. The housekeeper watched her in a way that
made her uncomfortable. Things had not gone very well, so far. The noise and
confusion of a big city tired and disheartened her. She had not had her trunk sent
to the Christian Association rooms because she did not want to double cartage
charges, and now she was running up a bill for storage on it. The contents of her
gray telescope were becoming untidy, and it seemed impossible to keep one's
face and hands clean in Chicago. She felt as if she were still on the train,
traveling without enough clothes to keep clean. She wanted another nightgown,
and it did not occur to her that she could buy one. There were other clothes in
her trunk that she needed very much, and she seemed no nearer a place to stay
than when she arrived in the rain, on that first disillusioning morning.
Dr. Archie had gone at once to his friend Hartley Evans, the throat specialist,
and had asked him to tell him of a good piano teacher and direct him to a good
boarding-house. Dr. Evans said he could easily tell him who was the best piano
teacher in Chicago, but that most students' boarding-houses were "abominable
places, where girls got poor food for body and mind." He gave Dr. Archie several
addresses, however, and the doctor went to look the places over. He left Thea in
her room, for she seemed tired and was not at all like herself. His inspection of
boardinghouses was not encouraging. The only place that seemed to him at all
desirable was full, and the mistress of the house could not give Thea a room in
which she could have a piano. She said Thea might use the piano in her parlor;
but when Dr. Archie went to look at the parlor he found a girl talking to a young
man on one of the corner sofas. Learning that the boarders received all their
callers there, he gave up that house, too, as hopeless.
So when they set out to make the acquaintance of Mr. Larsen on the
afternoon he had appointed, the question of a lodging was still undecided. The
Swedish Reform Church was in a sloughy, weedy district, near a group of
factories. The church itself was a very neat little building. The parsonage, next
door, looked clean and comfortable, and there was a well-kept yard about it, with
a picket fence. Thea saw several little children playing under a swing, and