The Street of Seven Stars HTML version

Chapter 9
It was the middle of November when Anna Gates, sitting on her trunk in the cold
entrance hall on the Hirschengasse, flung the conversational bomb that left empty three
rooms in the Pension Schwarz.
Mid-December found Harmony back and fully established in the lodge of Maria Theresa
on the Street of Seven Stars--back, but with a difference. True, the gate still swung back
and forward on rusty hinges, obedient to every whim of the December gales; but the
casement windows in the salon no longer creaked or admitted drafts, thanks to Peter and
a roll of rubber weather-casing. The grand piano, which had been Scatchy's rented
extravagance, had gone never to return, and in its corner stood a battered but still usable
upright. Under the great chandelier sat a table with an oil lamp, and evening and morning
the white-tiled stove gleamed warm with fire. On the table by the lamp were the
combined medical books of Peter and Anna Gates, and an ash-tray which also they used
in common.
Shabby still, of course, bare, almost denuded, the salon of Maria Theresa. But at night,
with the lamp lighted and the little door of the stove open, and perhaps, when the dishes
from supper had been washed, with Harmony playing softly, it took resolution on Peter's
part to put on his overcoat and face a lecture on the resection of a rib or a discussion of
the function of the pituitary body.
The new arrangement had proved itself in more ways than one not only greater in
comfort, but in economy. Food was amazingly cheap. Coal, which had cost ninety
Hellers a bucket at the Pension Schwarz, they bought in quantity and could afford to use
lavishly. Oil for the lamp was a trifle. They dined on venison now and then, when the
shop across boasted a deer from the mountains. They had other game occasionally, when
Peter, carrying home a mysterious package, would make them guess what it might
contain. Always on such occasions Harmony guessed rabbits. She knew how to cook
rabbits, and some of the other game worried her.
For Harmony was the cook. It had taken many arguments and much coaxing to make
Peter see it that way. In vain Harmony argued the extravagance of Rosa, now married to
the soldier from Salzburg with one lung, or the tendency of the delicatessen seller to
weigh short if one did not watch him. Peter was firm.
It was Dr. Gates, after all, who found the solution.
"Don't be too obstinate, Peter," she admonished him. "The child needs occupation; she
can't practice all day. You and I can keep up the financial end well enough, reduced as it
is. Let her keep house to her heart's content. That can be her contribution to the general