"I'm sure you can, miss," Lizzie Rose soothed her, but Clara shook her head.
"No. I embroider, of course, and I can play the piano, but there isn't any use in it. Mamma doesn't like music, because it makes her head ache, and we have too many cushions already."
She swept the room with a glance that was almost contemptuous. It reminded Parsefall of what he had intended earlier to rid this room of one of the objects that crowded it.
" Would you like to help me take the rest of the fantoccini out of the bags?" Lizzie Rose asked, and Clara brightened at once.
"Oh, yes, please! May I?"
Parsefall hung the Devil puppet back on the gallows and turned his back. The two girls went on talking. The chirping, purring sounds in their voices seemed to indicate that they were becoming friends, but Parsefall paid no attention to their words.
He was searching the room for something to steal.
What should he take? The room was stocked with valuables, many of them small enough to be portable. Parsefall knew what he wanted: something that would fit in his pocket with out making a telltale bulge, something valuable but not so precious that its absence would be noticed immediately. He surveyed a table full of knickknacks: a mosaic box, a wreath of wax flowers under glass, three china babies with gilded wings, and an assortment of photographs in silver frames. Another table held a porcelain bowl full of dead rose petals, a prayer book with mother- of- pearl covers, and more photographs.
One of the smallest photographs had a round frame with tiny pearls going around the edge. Parsefall eyed it speculatively. Pearls were worth money, and the silver was probably real. There were half a dozen other photographs on the table. That was good; the absence of one might go undetected for some time. He glanced at Clara and Lizzie Rose, saw that they were occupied with the puppets, and his hand shot out. Another moment, and the photograph was in his pocket
Excerpted from Splendors and Glooms by Laura A Schlitz. Copyright © 2012 by Laura A Schlitz. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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