Song of the Lark
BY the first of February Thea had been in Chicago almost four months, and she
did not know much more about the city than if she had never quitted Moonstone.
She was, as Harsanyi said, incurious. Her work took most of her time, and she
found that she had to sleep a good deal. It had never before been so hard to get
up in the morning. She had the bother of caring for her room, and she had to
build her fire and bring up her coal. Her routine was frequently interrupted by a
message from Mr. Larsen summoning her to sing at a funeral. Every funeral took
half a day, and the time had to be made up. When Mrs. Harsanyi asked her if it
did not depress her to sing at funerals, she replied that she "had been brought up
to go to funerals and didn't mind."
Thea never went into shops unless she had to, and she felt no interest in
them. Indeed, she shunned them, as places where one was sure to be parted
from one's money in some way. She was nervous about counting her change,
and she could not accustom herself to having her purchases sent to her address.
She felt much safer with her bundles under her arm.
During this first winter Thea got no city consciousness. Chicago was simply a
wilderness through which one had to find one's way. She felt no interest in the
general briskness and zest of the crowds. The crash and scramble of that big,
rich, appetent Western city she did not take in at all, except to notice that the
noise of the drays and street-cars tired her. The brilliant window displays, the
splendid furs and stuffs, the gorgeous flower-shops, the gay candy-shops, she
scarcely noticed. At Christmas-time she did feel some curiosity about the toy-
stores, and she wished she held Thor's little mittened fist in her hand as she
stood before the windows. The jewelers' windows, too, had a strong attraction for
her--she had always liked bright stones. When she went into the city she used to
brave the biting lake winds and stand gazing in at the displays of diamonds and
pearls and emeralds; the tiaras and necklaces and earrings, on white velvet.
These seemed very well worth while to her, things worth coveting.
Mrs. Lorch and Mrs. Andersen often told each other it was strange that Miss
Kronborg had so little initiative about "visiting points of interest." When Thea
came to live with them she had expressed a wish to see two places: Montgomery
Ward and Company's big mail-order store, and the packing-houses, to which all
the hogs and cattle that went through Moonstone were bound. One of Mrs.
Lorch's lodgers worked in a packing-house, and Mrs. Andersen brought Thea
word that she had spoken to Mr. Eckman and he would gladly take her to
Packingtown. Eckman was a toughish young Swede, and he thought it would be
something of a lark to take a pretty girl through the slaughter-houses. But he was
disappointed. Thea neither grew faint nor clung to the arm he kept offering her.
She asked innumerable questions and was impatient because he knew so little of
what was going on outside of his own department. When they got off the street-