Silver Rain

Silver Rain by Lois Peterson

Book: Silver Rain by Lois Peterson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lois Peterson
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Reverend asked Elsie. “I could perhaps help.”
    â€œShe doesn’t need help,” said Nan. Then she added quickly, “Though it’s a kind offer. This one has the brains, and she needs to use them, or they will fail her when she needs them most.”
    â€œI’m almost done. And I can do my chores tonight too,” said Elsie hopefully.
    Nan lifted the lid off the teapot, looked inside, then set it back in its place. She looked at Elsie, then turned to the Reverend. “Well. Just this once perhaps.” Then she added, “With her mother away, and her father… It’s all down to me.”
    â€œAnd a very good job you’re doing, if I may say so.” The Reverend smiled at Elsie.
    â€œAnd how will you spend the day with these children?” asked Nan.
    â€œAh. Well. In these times…I think it might be educational for the children to learn a little about how vulnerable we all are. How easily manipulated.”
    As he talked, humming and hawing, Elsie realized that the Reverend was scared of her grandmother!
    â€œThey should perhaps learn,” he said, “of the wickedness of the world, and how it preys on the weak. So I thought…perhaps it might be a good idea…I thought I might take them along to Terminal Avenue. To the dance marathon.”

C HAPTER T WENTY
    N an’s cup rattled on the saucer as she put it down. “That evil place!” Her spilled tea made a puddle on the table. Elsie jumped to her feet, grabbed a rag and dabbed it up. “I can’t believe this is a good idea,” Nan told the Reverend.
    Elsie felt all her excitement drain away like scummy water out of a laundry tub.
    Nan’s cheeks were mottled red. “I must say, if I may, I am surprised. You have spoken so strongly against it. In the pulpit and on the street…” Her chest heaved in and out as she got aerated. Just like Uncle Dannell and Scoop!
    The Reverend held up one hand. “I recall our conversations. And I value our discussions…” Nan opened her mouth to speak, but the Reverend continued. “The children are curious. And drawn by the popular press — posters and such — that give these things a certain allure. So what I propose is this.” He looked at Elsie, then back at Nan. “Tomorrow I will take the two children, Elsie and her friend Ernest — or Scoop, as I believe he prefers to be called — to learn a little about it for themselves. Under my supervision.”
    â€œIt costs a quarter if you go after six o’clock,” said Elsie. “I only have a dime.”
    The Reverend was still talking to Nan. “I will share with the children a little of how these affairs are run, and how the poor are exploited. And then they can see for themselves. How people suffer. The lengths they will go to survive.” He folded his hands on the table. “Might I hope for your consent?”
    â€œI don’t know, I’m sure.” Nan smoothed her apron. “I shall have to think about it. But tonight, there is another matter I hoped to discuss with you.”
    â€œOf course. You must think about it.” Reverend Hampton tucked his hands deep into his sleeves and sat back in his chair. “What is on your mind?”
    Nan pursed her lips. She studied Elsie across the table, and then she suddenly said, “Clear the supper things.”
    â€œBut — ”
    â€œNo ands, ifs or buts, miss.” Nan crossed her arms. “Just get on with it.”
    Elsie cleared the table and put their dishes in the enamel bowl, pouring hot water from the kettle over them. Nan made more tea and brought the pot to the table as she told her visitor, “I find myself in need of your advice.”
    â€œOf course.” He leaned toward her. “You have my ear.”
    Why would anyone want his ear? Elsie stifled a giggle.
    Nan frowned at her. “Elsie. Take that dog around the

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