Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff

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Authors: Patricia Reilly Giff
opened. Mr. Smith and Andrew came in. I stood up quickly, wiping my face. I watched them wash the table and bring it outside.
    By now it was almost dark and Elise was lighting tiny candles. I had to bring the soup outside. I couldn’t disappoint everyone, no matter how terrible I felt about what the ghost had told me. “Don’t go yet,” I said over my shoulder.
    Everyone was there as I set the soup tureen down in the center of the table.
    “It’s time for Theresa to try her pool,” Andrew said.
    I nodded and opened the door of her cage. She was cautious, but only for a moment. She left claw marks in the soft earth and headed straight for the pool, sliding down the sloped side and into the water.
    We admired her swimming, head up. Ella stood at the side of the pool, watching her anxiously as we sat at the table.
    “Right about now,” the ghost whispered.
    In the glow of the candlelight, I looked at all of us at the table. Andrew was pretending to lead a band in honor of Theresa, while Millie drummed on the table with her soup spoon.
    Celine looked as if she’d faint at their manners. She caught my eye and shook her head, as if I’d agree.
    Across from me, Mr. and Mrs. Smith leaned toward each other. When they saw me glance at them, they both smiled.
    Mr. Ohland wasn’t sitting yet. With one hand on Ella’s collar, he studied Theresa in her new home.
    Elise set a tray of bread on the table, then put her arms across my shoulders. “Do you see what you’ve done, Jayna? You’ve brought us together.”
    “No, it was Theresa,” I said.
    “Don’t forget about me,” the ghost whispered.
    I felt something in my chest, a warmth that went upto my throat. I wanted Rob to be here. I wanted that more than anything. But here was a family, my family. I knew I’d have them forever.
    I heard the ghost for the last time. “Yes,” she said. “At last.”
    Family Soup
    A bunch of frankfurters from Harry, the butcher
    A can of baked beans from Mrs. Smith’s pantry
    Chopped parsley from Theresa’s garden
    Some of that beef stock I made last week
    A couple of strips of bacon that Elise has been saving
    Carrots that Celine chopped up for us
    An onion from Mr. Ohland, or some cabbage
    Cook the bacon, add the onions.
    Drain off the fat.
    Throw in everything else.
    It’s almost like stone soup
    The bigger the family, the more ingredients

Chapter 25

    C eline left in a flurry. Where was her sweater? Her hat? How would she manage to squeeze everything back into her suitcase?
    Elise and I walked her to the subway, telling her to come back soon. I was surprised; I really would miss her.
    “Don’t forget your manners,” Celine said at the subway entrance. “Be careful when you use the stove.…” She was still talking, still worrying as she disappeared down the steps.
    I went down after her. “Call the stationery store, Celine, the minute you’re home. I have to know you’re safe.”
    I couldn’t believe it. I was beginning to sound like her.
    Elise and I grinned at each other; then we walked back to the bakery together. In the garden, the plums were ripe. I picked all I could reach so that Elise could bake a pie.
    I spent most of the day with Mr. Ohland. We talked about the war and the peace that was surely coming. It was so warm that I sat at the edge of the pool, my feet dangling.
    Late in the afternoon, the old man from the stationery store came to the door. I wasn’t worried. I expected Celine’s call. But still, when it came, I ran barefoot across the street to pick up the phone.
    “Home,” I said. “You’re home.”
    “There’s a telegram, Jayna. Two of them. Stuart said he didn’t know where you were, or where I was.”
    I slid down against the wall, onto the floor.
    “It’s from the War Department,” she said. “He gave it to me after all.”
    She was crying. I closed my eyes and braced myself. Would it take her forever to tell me about Rob?
    But that wasn’t what she

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