Song of the Lark HTML version

Chapter I.8
Winter was long in coming that year. Throughout October the days were bathed
in sunlight and the air was clear as crystal. The town kept its cheerful summer
aspect, the desert glistened with light, the sand hills every day went through
magical changes of color. The scarlet sage bloomed late in the front yards, the
cottonwood leaves were bright gold long before they fell, and it was not until
November that the green on the tamarisks began to cloud and fade. There was a
flurry of snow about Thanksgiving, and then December came on warm and clear.
Thea had three music pupils now, little girls whose mothers declared that
Professor Wunsch was "much too severe." They took their lessons on Saturday,
and this, of course, cut down her time for play. She did not really mind this
because she was allowed to use the money--her pupils paid her twenty-five cents
a lesson--to fit up a little room for herself upstairs in the half-story. It was the end
room of the wing, and was not plastered, but was snugly lined with soft pine. The
ceiling was so low that a grown person could reach it with the palm of the hand,
and it sloped down on either side. There was only one window, but it was a
double one and went to the floor. In October, while the days were still warm,
Thea and Tillie papered the room, walls and ceiling in the same paper, small red
and brown roses on a yellowish ground. Thea bought a brown cotton carpet, and
her big brother, Gus, put it down for her one Sunday. She made white
cheesecloth curtains and hung them on a tape. Her mother gave her an old
walnut dresser with a broken mirror, and she had her own dumpy walnut single
bed, and a blue washbowl and pitcher which she had drawn at a church fair
lottery. At the head of her bed she had a tall round wooden hat-crate, from the
clothing store. This, standing on end and draped with cretonne, made a fairly
steady table for her lantern. She was not allowed to take a lamp upstairs, so Ray
Kennedy gave her a railroad lantern by which she could read at night.
In winter this loft room of Thea's was bitterly cold, but against her mother's
advice--and Tillie's--she always left her window open a little way. Mrs. Kronborg
declared that she "had no patience with American physiology," though the
lessons about the injurious effects of alcohol and tobacco were well enough for
the boys. Thea asked Dr. Archie about the window, and he told her that a girl
who sang must always have plenty of fresh air, or her voice would get husky, and
that the cold would harden her throat. The important thing, he said, was to keep
your feet warm. On very cold nights Thea always put a brick in the oven after
supper, and when she went upstairs she wrapped it in an old flannel petticoat
and put it in her bed. The boys, who would never heat bricks for themselves,
sometimes carried off Thea's, and thought it a good joke to get ahead of her.
When Thea first plunged in between her red blankets, the cold sometimes
kept her awake for a good while, and she comforted herself by remembering all
she could of "Polar Explorations," a fat, calf-bound volume her father had bought