Author: Nina Brown Baker
Copyright Date: 1945
Pagination: 257 p.
“Volodya! Haven’t you finished with the lamps yet? Must you dawdle all night, son?
There are a hundred things to do, and the guests will soon be here.”
Marya Alexandrovna Ulyanova came bustling through the kitchen door, almost upsetting the row of oil lamps on the ground. She sounded cross, but the boy knew she was merely anxious. When the housewife has only one awkward servant girl, and not a great deal of money, giving a big evening party is a worrisome undertaking.
Volodya, kneeling before his row of lamps, carefully filled one from the big oil can. He got to his feet, wiping the foul-smelling oil from his fingers with a grubby handkerchief.
“That’s the last of them, Mother. Mitya said he’d help me carry them in.”
“Mitya! You’d trust my fine lamps to the baby, would you? Really, Volodya, sometimes I think you don’t have sense. Bring the big parlor lamp first and come back for the others. I can’t help you. I’m dressed for the party already, and a drop of oil would ruin this silk.”
“Don’t touch them, I’ll bring them all. I like the new dress, Mother dear. It makes you look very grand.”
Marya Alexandrovna, in vigorous middle age, was a handsome woman. She was solidly plump, with a rosy round face and thick auburn hair. The new dress, an elaborate creation of plum-colored silk, was looped and swirled over the fashionable bustle of the day. Cascades of creamy lace fell from the high-standing collar. A gold watch chain encircled her neck, and a huge amethyst brooch held the lace in place.
She smiled at the boy’s admiration. “Do you like it, Volodya? It was very expensive. But with all the officials’ wives coming tonight, and perhaps even the countesswell, I simply couldn’t face them in my old green velvet. When you’ve brought the lamps in, Volodya, I’ll want you to run to the baker’s.”