In the Closed Room

Frances Hodgson Burnett
In the Closed Room, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Title: In the Closed Room
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Release Date: July, 2004 [EBook #6027] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on October 29, 2002]
Edition: 10
Language: English
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FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT Author of Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Little Princess

Illustrations by
Jessie Willcox Smith

The playing today was even a lovelier, happier thing than it had ever been before . . . . Frontispiece
She often sat curving her small long fingers backward
They gazed as if they had known each other for ages of years
"Come and play with me"
She must go and stand at the door and press her cheek against the wood and wait--and listen
She began to mount the stairs which led to the upper floors
The ledge of the window was so low that a mere step took her outside
"I'm going up to play with the little girl, mother . . . You don't mind, do you?"

In the fierce airless heat of the small square room the child Judith panted as she lay on her bed. Her father and mother slept near her, drowned in the heavy slumber of workers after their day's labour. Some people in the next flat were quarrelling, irritated probably by the appalling heat and their miserable helplessness against it. All the hot emanations of the sun-baked city streets seemed to combine with their clamour and unrest, and rise to the flat in which the child lay gazing at the darkness. It was situated but a few feet from the track of the Elevated Railroad and existence seemed to pulsate to the rush and roar of the demon which swept past the windows every few minutes. No one knew that Judith held the thing in horror, but it was a truth that she did. She was only seven years old, and at that age it is not easy to explain one's self so that older people can understand.
She could only have said, "I hate it. It comes so fast. It is always coming. It makes a sound as if thunder was quite close. I can never get away from it." The children in the other flats rather liked it. They hung out of the window perilously to watch it thunder past and to see the people who crowded it pressed close together in the seats, standing in the aisles, hanging on to the straps. Sometimes in the evening there were people in it who were going to the theatre, and the women and girls were dressed in light colours and wore hats covered with white feathers and flowers. At such times the children were delighted, and Judith used to hear the three in the next flat calling out to each other, "That's MY lady! That's MY lady! That one's mine!"
Judith was not like the children in the other flats. She was a frail, curious creature, with silent ways and a soft voice and eyes. She liked to play by herself in a corner of the room and to talk to herself as she played. No one knew what she talked about, and in fact no one inquired. Her mother was always too busy. When she was not making men's coats by the score at the whizzing sewing machine, she was hurriedly preparing a meal which was always in danger of being late. There was the breakfast, which might not be ready in time for her husband to reach his "shop" when the whistle blew; there was the supper, which might not be in time to be in waiting for him when he returned in the evening. The midday meal was a trifling matter, needing no special
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