Song of the Lark HTML version

Chapter II.2
SO Thea did not go to a boarding-house after all. When Dr. Archie left Chicago
she was comfortably settled with Mrs. Lorch, and her happy reunion with her
trunk somewhat consoled her for his departure.
Mrs. Lorch and her daughter lived half a mile from the Swedish Reform
Church, in an old square frame house, with a porch supported by frail pillars, set
in a damp yard full of big lilac bushes. The house, which had been left over from
country times, needed paint badly, and looked gloomy and despondent among its
smart Queen Anne neighbors. There was a big back yard with two rows of apple
trees and a grape arbor, and a warped walk, two planks wide, which led to the
coal bins at the back of the lot. Thea's room was on the second floor, overlooking
this back yard, and she understood that in the winter she must carry up her own
coal and kindling from the bin. There was no furnace in the house, no running
water except in the kitchen, and that was why the room rent was small. All the
rooms were heated by stoves, and the lodgers pumped the water they needed
from the cistern under the porch, or from the well at the entrance of the grape
arbor. Old Mrs. Lorch could never bring herself to have costly improvements
made in her house; indeed she had very little money. She preferred to keep the
house just as her husband built it, and she thought her way of living good enough
for plain people.
Thea's room was large enough to admit a rented upright piano without
crowding. It was, the widowed daughter said, "a double room that had always
before been occupied by two gentlemen"; the piano now took the place of a
second occupant. There was an ingrain carpet on the floor, green ivy leaves on a
red ground, and clumsy, old-fashioned walnut furniture. The bed was very wide,
and the mattress thin and hard. Over the fat pillows were "shams" embroidered in
Turkey red, each with a flowering scroll--one with "Gute' Nacht," the other with
"Guten Morgen." The dresser was so big that Thea wondered how it had ever
been got into the house and up the narrow stairs. Besides an old horsehair
armchair, there were two low plush "spring-rockers," against the massive
pedestals of which one was always stumbling in the dark. Thea sat in the dark a
good deal those first weeks, and sometimes a painful bump against one of those
brutally immovable pedestals roused her temper and pulled her out of a heavy
hour. The wall-paper was brownish yellow, with blue flowers. When it was put on,
the carpet, certainly, had not been consulted. There was only one picture on the
wall when Thea moved in: a large colored print of a brightly lighted church in a
snow-storm, on Christmas Eve, with greens hanging about the stone doorway
and arched windows. There was something warm and home, like about this
picture, and Thea grew fond of it. One day, on her way into town to take her
lesson, she stopped at a bookstore and bought a photograph of the Naples bust
of Julius Caesar. This she had framed, and hung it on the big bare wall behind