Excerpt of A Perfect Stranger by Roxana Robinson
(Page 5 of 10)
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This Christmas we had arrived late. The drive was a long one, and by the
time we got there, it was dark, and Grandmère and Grandpère had already
had dinner. Our parents were to have trays in front of the fire in the
living room, and we chil- dren were sent into the kitchen, where Molly
would give us our supper.
Molly was Irish and fierce, with pale blue eyes and a cloud of fine
white hair. She had slim arms and slim legs and a thick middle. Her
hands and feet were small, and she moved fast. She wore a white uniform,
a white apron, and brown lace-up shoes with thick low heels. She ruled
the kitchen absolutely. We never did anything to make Molly mad. She
would have our heads. That's what she told us, shaking her own wild
white head fiercely, and we believed her.
Molly had a husband named Bud, but he was a mysterious figure, like the
bobcats; we had never seen him. We did know Molly's son, Richard, who
was my grandparents' chauffeur. He was fat, and moved slowly. We
children had a poor opinion of him. We called him Ree-ard, which we
thought was funny. When he wasn't driving my grandparents' long black
car, Ree-ard sat on a chair in the kitchen, near the back stairs. He
took off his black coat and sat in his shirtsleeves, his white shirt
vast and billowy. He looked like a lump, and sometimes Molly told him
that, whirling suddenly from the big stove and rounding on him, laying
into him without mercy. Molly might do that to anyone, at any
momenterupt into a high foamy rage, and say things with her fierce,
thin Irish lips that you never wanted to hear.
But Molly was nice to us, and we liked her. That evening we pushed
through the swinging door into the pantry and filed into the kitchen.
Molly turned at once from the stove.
"Ah, here they all are, then," she said, her Irish accent thick. Molly's
mouth didn't smile easily, but her eyes did. "Come over here and let me
have a look at you." We presented ourselves expectantly, waiting to see
what she would find. "You're growing," she said warningly to Sam, as
though this was something he should look out for, and to me she said
accusingly, "Where's that tooth gone?" I had no answer, but I knew she
was not angry. She put her hands on our heads approvingly, as though we
belonged to her, then she moved briskly back to the stove. "I'm going to
take this out to your parents first, so you all sit down at the table
and don't make any trouble." We didn't need to be told that. Making
trouble in Molly's kitchen was the last thing in the world we would
We sat and waited for her to come back. Tweenie lay on a towel next to
her bowl, which had milk in it. She eyed us disagreeably.
"I hate Tweenie," I said and made a face at her.
Jonathan always disagreed with me. "She's just a dog," he said
scornfully. "Why would you hate a dog?"
"She looks like a snake," Abby said. "Look at her."
We looked at her. Tweenie looked back at us, ready to bite.
"Where's Huge?" Jonathan asked.
"In with the grown-ups," Sam said. "We can't bring him in here because
he'll upset Tweenie."
"Oh, Tweenie," I said with loathing, rolling my eyes.
Molly pushed through from the pantry, her low bosom and portly middle
preceding her. Her neat lace-up shoes pointed outward when she walked.
"Now, then," she said energetically, "come get your plates and I'll put
some food on them." We lined up, and Molly loaded our plates. We sat
down again at the table. Molly was at the stove, her back to us.
Excerpted from A Perfect Stranger by Roxana Robinson Copyright © 2005 by
Roxana Robinson. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division
of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may
be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the