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Song of the Lark

Chapter II.11
MRS. KRONBORG had said that Thea was not to be disturbed on Sunday
morning, and she slept until noon. When she came downstairs the family were
just sitting down to dinner, Mr. Kronborg at one end of the long table, Mrs.
Kronborg at the other. Anna, stiff and ceremonious, in her summer silk, sat at her
father's right, and the boys were strung along on either side of the table. There
was a place left for Thea between her mother and Thor. During the silence which
preceded the blessing, Thea felt something uncomfortable in the air. Anna and
her older brothers had lowered their eyes when she came in. Mrs. Kronborg
nodded cheerfully, and after the blessing, as she began to pour the coffee,
turned to her.
"I expect you had a good time at that dance, Thea. I hope you got your sleep
out."
"High society, that," remarked Charley, giving the mashed potatoes a vicious
swat. Anna's mouth and eyebrows became half-moons.
Thea looked across the table at the uncompromising countenances of her
older brothers. "Why, what's the matter with the Mexicans?" she asked, flushing.
"They don't trouble anybody, and they are kind to their families and have good
manners."
"Nice clean people; got some style about them. Do you really like that kind,
Thea, or do you just pretend to? That's what I'd like to know." Gus looked at her
with pained inquiry. But he at least looked at her.
"They're just as clean as white people, and they have a perfect right to their
own ways. Of course I like 'em. I don't pretend things."
"Everybody according to their own taste," remarked Charley bitterly. "Quit
crumbing your bread up, Thor. Ain't you learned how to eat yet?"
"Children, children!" said Mr. Kronborg nervously, looking up from the chicken
he was dismembering. He glanced at his wife, whom he expected to maintain
harmony in the family.
"That's all right, Charley. Drop it there," said Mrs. Kronborg. "No use spoiling
your Sunday dinner with race prejudices. The Mexicans suit me and Thea very
well. They are a useful people. Now you can just talk about something else."
Conversation, however, did not flourish at that dinner. Everybody ate as fast
as possible. Charley and Gus said they had engagements and left the table as
soon as they finished their apple pie. Anna sat primly and ate with great
elegance. When she spoke at all she spoke to her father, about church matters,
and always in a commiserating tone, as if he had met with some misfortune. Mr.
Kronborg, quite innocent of her intentions, replied kindly and absent-mindedly.
After the dessert he went to take his usual Sunday afternoon nap, and Mrs.
Kronborg carried some dinner to a sick neighbor. Thea and Anna began to clear
the table.
 
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