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Canadians Writing About the US
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Canadians Writing About the US

By kileyturner
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Canadians are inevitably affected by our proximity and close relationship with the US. Some Canadian authors have thus set their books in the US, or write about issues/trends in the US. Here's a list of them.
Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith

Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith

Religion in American War and Diplomacy
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

A richly detailed, profoundly engrossing story of how religion has influenced American foreign relations, told through the stories of the men and women—from presidents to preachers—who have plotted the country’s course in the world.
 
Ever since John Winthrop argued that the Puritans’ new home would be “a city upon a hill,” Americans’ role in the world has been shaped by their belief that God has something special in mind for them. But this is a story that historians have mostly i …

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The Purchase

The Purchase

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Paperback
tagged : literary

In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family's stran …

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The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Paperback Hardcover
tagged : literary

Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Prix des libraires du Quebec and the Stephen Leacock Medal. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Walter Scott Prize.

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die: Eli and Charlie Sisters can be counted on for that. Though Eli has never shared his brother’s penchant for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. On the road to Warm’s gold-mining claim outsid …

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Buffalo Jump

Buffalo Jump

edition:Paperback
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Toronto investigator Jonah Geller is at a low point in his life. A careless mistake on his last case left him with a bullet in his arm, a busted relationship and a spot in his boss's doghouse. Then he comes home to find notorious contract killer Dante Ryan in his apartment — not to kill him for butting into mob business, as Jonah fears, but to plead for Jonah's help.

Ryan has been ordered to wipe out an entire Toronto family, including a five-year-old boy. With a son of his own that age, Ryan c …

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Excerpt

Chapter ­1

Toronto, Ontario: Monday, June ­26

I woke well before my alarm was due to go off, my hair damp and my skin tacky with sweat that had already dried. Why did I bother setting one? A dream almost always woke me near dawn. This morning’s was about Roni Galil again: Roni and me in a hot, dry place, waiting for something to come around the corner. Sensing it, hearing it, dreading it. Our weapons at port arms, straining to see through eyes stung by whipping dust and ­sand.

On this morning, for once, I woke before the dream climaxed. My lips were cracked and stuck to each other and my eyes dried out from having a fan pointed at them all night. I had a small ­air-­conditioning unit sitting on the floor of my bedroom, its plug curled around it like a snake. I’d brought it with me after the breakup but it didn’t fit the window in the new place and I didn’t have money yet for a new ­one.

I got out of bed and opened the door that led to the concrete balcony and stepped out. Stretched my right arm until it ­ached–­which didn’t take long. I had an unobstructed 180-degree view of the west side of the city, from Lake Ontario at the south end to the forested ravines that line the Don Valley Parkway heading north. Not even July and we were three days into a ­lung-­buckling heat wave, with a great humid mass hanging over the city like a tent. The sun was a weak lamp behind damp muslin, smog diffusing its pale light into a harsh ­glare.

The media had been warning the elderly and people with asthma to stay indoors. Being neither, I chanced a few breaths. The air smelled like it was wafting out of a ­grave.

My apartment was nothing special, the kind you see in any Toronto ­high-­rise built in the sixties and seventies. The kind of place a guy lands in when he’s been ­turfed, which I had been two months ago.

It had an ­L-­shaped living room/dining room combo, galley kitchen, ­decent-­sized bedroom, utilitarian bathroom. Parquet flooring throughout. But it was ­rent-­controlled–­very reasonable by Toronto ­standards–­and in a great location: Broadview and Danforth, at the western boundary of Riverdale, just across the Don Valley from ­downtown.

The best thing about it, what sealed it for me the minute I walked in, was the view: floor-­to-ceiling windows facing west, nothing between me and the city skyline. It was spectacular at night, when the gleaming towers of the financial district seemed to rise straight out of the darkness of the valley. Even in the morning, it could take your breath away–­if the smog didn’t take it ­first.

I went inside and put on a pot of dark roast, then spent twenty minutes rehabbing my right arm, using an old inner tube looped around a closet door knob. Stretching it back and forth to work the injured triceps. Taking it easy at first, then moving farther away to increase the tension. The muscles had been damaged when a bullet tore through them two months earlier. My surgeon said at the time I was lucky: the 9-millimetre slug had broken no bones, severed no blood vessels, damaged no nerves. His definition of luck, not ­mine.

My name is Jonah Geller and I’m a consultant with Beacon Security, a Toronto firm that offers everything from surveillance to missing person searches, ­pre-­nups to employment checks. Up until a few months ago, you could say I’d been something of a rising star there. More specifically, until the Ensign case. Or, as some of my less tactful colleagues took to calling it, the Tobacco ­Debacle.

The assignment had seemed simple ­enough–­a routine undercover job as a security guard at the Ensign Tobacco Company of Belleville, Ontario, one of Canada’s largest cigarette makers. Our plan called for me to insinuate myself into the graces of two bent security men planning to hijack a truckload of cigarettes with the help of mobsters practised in this deceptive art. Make sure I was behind the wheel of the truck when it was taken. Be there when the load was turned over to a nasty Calabrian crew boss named Marco Di Pietra. Stay out of the way when officers from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Task Force on Traditional Organized Crime swooped down and made the arrests. Smile and accept whatever accolades and promotions came my ­way.

But as we Jews have been saying for centuries, Der mensch tracht un Gott lacht . . . man plans and God laughs. Or as my grandmother would say when holding my grandfather in particularly sour regard: Man proposes, and God ­disposes.

Since the Tobacco Debacle, I had been firmly ensconced in the corporate doghouse. The official line was I was on desk duty until my arm fully healed. Hands up if you believe that one. The truth is I blew the case by making a mistake a raw beginner shouldn’t have made. As a result, Di Pietra and his chief enforcer, a ­half-­Italian, ­half-­Irish hood named Dante Ryan, walked out of court after taking up less than ten minutes of the judge’s ­time.

All because in a moment of weakness, I’d been torn between my relationship and the job, and in that moment the relationship won ­out.

At least that wouldn’t be a problem again. Not only had the case derailed my career and left me with a gunshot wound, it also proved to be the last straw for my ­girlfriend–­now ­ex-­girlfriend–­Camilla Lauder. The lovely Camilla seized the opportunity to dump me while I was still in my hospital bed, stoned (but not nearly enough) on ­Percocet.

And badly as things went for me, they went far worse for an OPP officer named Colin MacAdam. I doubt his doctor told him he was ­lucky.

I had a quick breakfast of cantaloupe, cereal and coffee. I felt troubled by the dream I’d ­had–­fragments of it flashing in my mind, with no coherent narrative, just familiar sounds and images in an ­all-­too-­familiar place. Thudding hooves. The cries of angry men. The ­higher-­pitched cries of children. Echoes of gunfire and boots on ­stone.

Christ. Why did I even try to remember? The dream never ended well. Especially not for Roni. Get a morning paper delivered, I told myself. That or read the back of the cereal box. Get out of that place in my head where dreams clung like the last webbed patches of morning ­fog.

By eight o’clock, I was dressed in light summer ­clothing–­khakis, a white cotton shirt and ­sandals–­and out the door, hoping to get into work early like a good dog. The elevator let me out in the parking garage where I kept my white Camry. According to Car and Driver, it’s one of the most common cars on Canada’s roads. Investigators in books and movies might drive hot red Ferraris, vintage Corvettes, metallic Porsches and other cars that in real life would get spotted three minutes into a tail. Good luck to them. Give me an unremarkable but reliable yawner any ­time.

I slipped the key in and turned it and was greeted by a grinding, coughing sound, like something you’d hear on an emphysema ward. I tried it again. Same ­result.

So much for ­reliable.

I had owned the car only six weeks. Until Camilla torpedoed me, we had ­co-­owned a silver Accord. But she’d been making the payments on her credit card to collect travel points, so the car was hers until further disposition, as was the little semi we had bought on a quiet Riverdale street just south of where I lived now. Not only did the law favour her because of her ­gender–­like Camilla needed any ­help–­but my lawyer, supplied by my brother Daniel’s firm, was more or less human. Hers was all wolverine. You couldn’t fight him with motions; you needed a leghold trap and a 12-­gauge.

I dug out my cell and called CAA. A recorded message said they were experiencing a high volume of calls, and wait time for service was averaging ninety minutes. It told me my call was important and cautioned me not to hang up as that would cost me my place in line. I hung up anyway and called Joe Avila, the guy who’d sold me the ­car.

Joe owned a body shop and ­used-­car lot on Eastern Avenue. A year ago, his ­sixteen-­year-­old daughter ran away, fed up with her parents’ strict Old World rules about dating, makeup, tattoos and jeans that exposed pubic hair and butt cracks. Joe came to Beacon, terrified that his sheltered Mariela would be chewed up and spat out by the world beyond Little Azores: beaten, raped, impregnated, infected or all of the above. I found her crashing in a squalid bachelor apartment on Parliament Street with three other girls. Parliament sounds dignified but tilts as low as any street in the east end. Mariela mustered some bravado and attitude in front of her friends, but over coffee she confided that the only thing scarier than her current situation was what her parents would do to her if she went back. I reassured her that all they wanted was for her to be safe. Eventually she relented and I drove her home. When I needed a car, I got the Camry from Joe at a “family price.”

When Joe answered, I told him the family jewel wouldn’t ­start.

“You try CAA?” he ­asked.

“Ninety minutes at least.”

“Probably not the battery anyway,” he said. “I put in a brand new reconditioned one when you bought it.”

Brand new reconditioned. I would have told Joe it was an oxymoron but what if he misunderstood? The man can hoist a car without the benefit of ­hydraulics.

Joe told me he was stuck alone at the shop because his goddamn nephew still hadn’t showed up. He wouldn’t be able to get to my place any sooner than CAA. “Okay, Joe. I’ll cab it downtown. Can you meet me here after work and have a look?”

He hesitated. “Oh, man, Jonah. So many cars overheat on days like this, I could work all night. I’d be passing up a big payday.”

“How’s Mariela doing? Still getting straight As in school?”

Joe sighed. “Okay, okay. I get the point. I’ll be at your place around six.”

By ­eight-­thirty, I was standing on the west side of Broadview, trying to hail a southbound cab. There were plenty going my way but all had passengers. I spotted an empty northbound hack but he had nowhere to turn around and waved me ­off.

By ­eight-­forty, my shirt was clinging to the small of my back and I was no closer to work. Showing up late could only dim the view Beacon held of me. I was beginning to weigh my carjacking options when a 504 streetcar rumbled into view. Its route went south along Riverdale Park before heading west over the valley toward downtown. It would take me within a block of the ­office.

The streetcar was packed. I dropped in my fare, then took a deep breath and tried to squeeze myself down the aisle. It was like trying to blitz an offensive line. Every other person was sporting a backpack big enough to hide a body in. Most also wore headphones that kept them from hearing words like “Excuse me.” Pressed against bodies overly ripe in the heat, I fought to protect my right arm and keep my balance as the streetcar ground down Broadview. We went past the statue of Dr. Sun ­Yat-­sen, where elderly Chinese in ­wide-­brimmed straw hats were performing tai chi on the grassy eastern slope of Riverdale Park. I could only envy their ease of motion and the space they had to move in. At Gerrard, nearly half the passengers got off, heading to shops in Chinatown East, ­east-­bound and ­west-­bound streetcars, the library on the corner or the Don Jail rise behind it, its dark Gothic wing hidden from view by a newer brick ­extension.

When the aisle cleared, there was an empty seat next to a ­well-­dressed man reading the Report on Business. I was about to sit down when I saw an elderly woman facing the other way, her thin hand clenched tightly around a chrome pole, blue veins over bony knuckles. Even in this weather, she wore a wool coat. I tapped her shoulder softly and indicated the seat. She smiled and was about to sit when the streetcar lurched away from the stop. As she clutched at the pole to keep her balance, a thin man in jeans and a sleeveless denim vest swung into the seat I had ­offered.

He was about my age, which is ­thirty-­four, but craggy and ­hard-­looking, his ropy arms marked with dozens of crude ink tattoos. He shook his lank brown hair out of his eyes and propped his left foot up on the back of the seat in front of ­him.

“That seat was for the lady,” I said. He ignored me and shook the hair out of his eyes ­again.

“She needs it more than you,” I ­said.

“That so?” He gave me what was supposed to be a withering glare. Shook the hair. “Happens I had a rough fuckin’ night.”

I briefly entertained the idea of shaking his hair for him. “Look–”

“Just fuck off, okay?” he spat. “Just leave me the fuck alone, ya fuckin’ kike.”

Kike? Had he really said ­kike?

The old lady clutched the pole even more tightly. The businessman in the window seat buried his nose deeper in his paper. A few straphangers stepped away from ­us.

I guess he ­had.

I’m not what you’d call an observant Jew. I eat matzoh on Passover but have been known to top it with ham and cheese. My favourite Chinese dish is shrimp in lobster sauce with minced pork, the ­non-­kosher trifecta. Truth be told, I’m an atheist, though I once flirted briefly with agnosticism. But I am a Jew to my marrow and proud of it. I believe in the people, the culture, the community. I especially believe in the concept of tikkun olam: repairing the world, leaving it a better place than you found it. And at that moment, it was my belief that the streetcar would be a better place without this piece of shit on ­it.

“It’s all right, dear,” the old lady said to me. “I’m getting off at Jarvis.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I told her. “This gentleman is going to get up now and give you the seat.”

“The fuck I am,” he said and stuck out the middle finger of his left ­hand.

In any fight, you take what they give. I grabbed his hand and forced it downward and held it there. “Aaah!” he said, and who could blame him? It’s a fast, simple move that causes intense pain in the wrist, all but forcing a person upward to try to ease it. As he struggled up out of his seat I kept the pressure on, my left hand free to block a ­punch–­like he could throw one with the pain he was ­in.

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Blood and Daring

Blood and Daring

How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

Blood and Daring will change our views not just of Canada's relationship with the United States, but of the Civil War, Confederation and Canada itself.
 
In Blood and Daring, lauded historian John Boyko makes a compelling argument that Confederation occurred when and as it did largely because of the pressures of the Civil War. Many readers will be shocked by Canada's deep connection to the war--Canadians fought in every major battle, supplied arms to the South, and many key Confederate meetings …

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Hijacking History

Hijacking History

American Culture and the War on Terror
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook

In Hijacking History, Liane Tanguay unravels the ideology behind an American enterprise unprecedented in scope, ambition, and brazen claim to global supremacy: the War on Terror. She argues that the fears, anxieties, and even the hopes encoded in American popular culture account for the public's passive acceptance of the Bush administration's wars overseas and violation of many of the rights, privileges, and freedoms they claimed to defend. In her analysis, Tanguay critically examines the neocon …

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The Little Shadows

The Little Shadows

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged :

Here is the eagerly anticipated new novel from a brilliant writer whose last book, Good to a Fault, was shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Prize for Canada and the Caribbean.
The Little Shadows revolves around three sisters in the world of vaudeville before and during the First World War. We follow the lives of all three in turn: Aurora, the eldest and most beautiful, who is sixteen when the book opens; thoughtful Clover, a year younger; and the youngest siste …

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Excerpt

Gentry Fox was the shortest man Clover had ever seen, shorter than she was by far. As if someone had pressed down on the head of a normal man, but some time ago, so he’d had time to get used to it.
 
He had to look up, even at Bella, which he did with a sideways glint. ‘What—have—we—here?’ he asked, his voice both gravelled and silky.
 
The girls stood in a line, not sure whether to proceed. He waved a hand, beckoning them to the stage, and they went stiffly down the raked aisle, not entirely sure of their footing in the thicker darkness of the auditorium. Mama patted Clover, who moved aside to let her through. She took two steps and stopped, perhaps afraid, Clover thought. But no. She had paused only to make a better entrance. Mr. Fox looked up, inquiring, when she did not speak—then, looking again, gave Mama a very warm, familiar smile. He laughed and bowed, and bowed again, coming forward as he bent and rose and bent.
 
‘Oh, my dear sir, you may recall that I have had the distinct pleasure of making your acquaintance before,’ Mama said to the little bowing man. Bowing now herself.
 
‘But of course, of course I recall,’ Mr. Fox said, murmuring and mincing. ‘With the greatest, my dear Flora, the greatest of pleasure.’ Pleasure, pleasure. They were nodding dolls, bowing and re-bowing. Clover felt Aurora pull her close, then slide an arm behind to pull Bella into place.
 
‘And these?’
 
‘Oh, these! My dear Mr. Fox! You see before you—my daughters.’ Dark eyes gleamed in his dark rumpled face, turning from one girl to the next. His squashed neck was supple. Inspecting Aurora. Then Clover, Bella. And back to Mama.
 
‘They are jewels,’ he said with great simplicity. ‘They sing? They dance?’
 
‘They do!’ Mama clapped her hands because he was so clever.
 
‘May we?’
 
‘Will you? Will they? Johnny Drawbank! Clear those hands away, if you will. Lights!’
 
This was a much bigger stage, a much bigger theatre. Not a jewel box like the Empress; the floorboards not as clean beneath the dirty chairs, and the stage not clean either. Deep, though, and high—four long curtain-legs before the backdrop. Clover thought doing it in one here would be a pleasure, because the stage bowed outwards and left an acre of room in front of the great red curtain (its ragged bottom draggling on the boards, gold bobble-trim gappy and dimmed).
 
Work-lights shone on the piano, and on the stage. As Mama and the girls climbed the moveable gangplank over the orchestra pit, on came the footlights, the gas flaring gently, and the stage became welcoming. ‘We’ll start with an old song,’ Mama said, twinkling down at Mr. Fox. ‘After the Ball,’ she murmured to the girls, and sat herself at the piano gracefully. Her little hands raised themselves over the keys, and paused, and then were off, playing with unusual care and a rippling dash—the conservatory glass, the palms, the tinkling waltz heard from a distance . . . They told the sentimental story plain, the way she had taught them, not as a tired tale but as if this were their Uncle Chum explaining his bachelor life to them. None of the girls could remember meeting him, but they all had affection for him, from this imaginary memory. It made Clover believe that Mama must have a soft spot for Chum too, after all.
 
‘. . . oh, Uncle, please.
Why are you single; why live alone?
Have you no babies; have you no home?
I had a sweetheart, years, years ago;
Where she is now, pet, you will soon know.
List to the story, I’ll tell it all,
I believed her faithless, after the ball . . .’
 
Watching the girl he loved being kissed, standing empty-hearted with two glasses of punch in his hands . . . How plaintive the old man became, and what a small, stupid thing to ruin someone’s life: ‘he was her brother! ’ Then they were into the chorus again, waltzing in place to prove they could do it in one:
 
 ‘After the ball is over, after the break of dawn—
After the dancers’ leaving; after the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.
 
Mama ended with a fading chord, well in keeping with the natural delivery of the song, and left a dainty hand poised in air for a moment as the girls bowed. Then she twirled on the piano stool, face out to the audience, to Gentry Fox. He rose from his seat in the front row with a hearty ‘Bravo!’ clapping his hands delightedly.
 
Coming forward to the stage, he stretched out a hand to Mama as if he could reach hers, which not even a tall man could have, and she reached down to him without moving from the stool.
 
‘Lovely, lovely girls! Lovely to hear that old song again, so freshly rendered! And how well I recall you, my dear Flora—at the Hippodrome, was it not?—with that little number.’
 
‘Oh, Gentry, a hundred years ago,’ Mama said, blushing and bobbing. Bella laughed too, to see her so pleased. Clover looked at Mr. Fox with attention: a living clue to Mama’s old life. But beside her she could feel Aurora waiting, tense, and her own confidence drained away. ‘Now you must let me give you some lunch,’ Gentry said, taking out a card case. ‘Hand my card to the girl at the Grandon Hotel, they do a royal tea there . . . and thank you for warming an old man’s heart. You are visiting in the neighbourhood? With family?’
 
Mama got up from the piano, her face fallen into a polite parody of her earlier happiness. ‘You have no work for my girls, then, Gentry?’ she asked—her voice sad, but her face remaining cheerful.
 
‘My dear Flora, they are young and charming, and I am inundated with acts. Between you and me and your eighteen best friends, this is a poor place I find myself. We have only seven on the bill—all but continuous, you know—three shows a day, a hardscrabble life.’
 
‘But what a training ground!’ Mama said lightly—still working, still arguing, however her words might be disguised as chat.
 
 ‘But such delicately reared girls, my dear Flora, could not be expected to— And my bill is full for this and several weeks to come.’
 
‘But I see you lack a closer,’ Mama said. Her last effort.
 
‘Oh, as to that, I use the pictures as a closer. Nothing beats a very old pictograph for encouraging an audience’s hearts for home.’
 
‘I bet we could chase them better, if we’re so bad!’ Bella called over the footlights at him, laughing at her own audacity.
 
Clover pinched her quickly, but Gentry laughed too, darting a sharp look at Bella’s cheeky, lively face. But he still held out the calling card. Lunch, not life.
 
‘Well, thank you, Gentry, for seeing us. It was a piece of old times to find you here,’ Flora said, folding her music as if they hadn’t a care in the world, as if they were, in fact, visiting family and perfectly easy. As if they hadn’t spent twenty-three dollars on train fare.
 
She and Aurora looked at each other, and she lifted her chin and smiled.
 
‘Off we go, then,’ she said. ‘But perhaps we had better return to our friends for luncheon, thank you all the same.’
 
Aurora lighted down on the first step, lifting her skirt delicately over her tight-laced new boot. The second step, the second boot (and above it, a stretch of smooth white stocking). The third step, the fourth.
 
‘But, Mama,’ she said, smiling into Gentry’s upturned face. ‘I think I’d like some tea.’
 
He held out his hand with the card again, and she took it, and then his arm, for help in navigating the last steps.
 
‘Thank you, Mr. Fox,’ Aurora said. She stopped to pull on her elegant mauve kid gloves. ‘And will you come with us? My sisters and I would love to hear how you and Mama come to know each other so well; how you come to be in this theatre, and what wonders you are working in this out-of-the-way place—we see your dodgers all over town!’
 
Gentry blinked, but resisted, even though her eyes were so clear, their colour shifting from blue to green, a dark line around the iris. Beautiful, yes. The curve of her clear warm cheek and jaw ran enticingly into the hidden reaches of the neck, under that glossy pile of bright, ruly-unruly hair.
 
‘Alas, no, I shall be engaged all afternoon with wretched business,’ he told her sadly.
 
Aurora gave him a beautiful smile, exchanged his arm for her sister’s, and walked up the raked aisle. The tiny waist of her jacket remained steady; below it the skirt swayed, its length tantalizing along the ground in an eddy of dust. The youngest one, the filly, hopped off the last step and sparkled at him, then dashed after the elder two. ‘Look at her, the darling! All legs and heels and promise,’ he said to Flora, before he could check himself. ‘But I am sentimentalizing. Time to retire to the country!’
 
Flora took the steps without assistance, pulling on her own gloves, her music in its leather case beneath her arm, and at the bottom, bowed to Gentry. He looked at her soft face, brown curls at her brow. Still pretty as paint, even softened into middle age. A loving heart, if a silly one. She stepped down onto the floor, not wanting to tower above him more than she could help—for his sake as well as her own. A stroke of luck to have found him here. It could not be wasted.
 
‘Gentry,’ she said, then drew in a breath. ‘I wonder—I’ve done my best with my dear girls, but they need polish, of course. I wonder if you would consider taking them on for a few weeks, for nothing—well, or for just the usual travelling expenses, alone—to gain experience, to be introduced to the profession.’
 
She had caught his attention. Either his pockets were to let, or his native stinginess was stirring. How much this would cost her, coming and going, she thought she knew.
 
‘I’m sure we could go farther afield and find paid work, but it’s you, the association with someone of your calibre—oh! I know very well how much good you did me, all those years ago, and I wish that same good for my girls. Can you find it in your heart to blame me?’  ‘The thing is, Flora,’ he said, not unkindly, ‘your dainty girls are too refined for this place—it would be cruel. They are not—’ ‘They are. I promise you. They are better by far than I.’ Her urgency led her to put a hand on his arm. A small hand in a black cloth glove, it vanished on his black sleeve.
 
‘Gentry, for old times’ sake—I beg you.’
 
After a moment, he bowed one last time. ‘Madam, that plea is impossible to refuse. Not today. But bring them here at nine tomorrow, and I will see what can be done.’
 
She found it hard to look at him, after putting herself so low before him, but busied herself with her music case.
 
He gestured towards it: ‘Have you a lobby photograph for the girls there?’ He saw from her face that they had none. ‘After your lunch go to Leroy’s Studio on 8th Avenue. They will not overcharge you.’ As Flora went up the aisle, he called after her. ‘What happened to your schoolmaster?’
 
‘Oh—’ She shrugged and almost smiled. ‘Oh, he died.’ She nodded, and went through the bright doorway.

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