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For nearly a year (after I was raped), I sopped around the house, the store, the school and the church, like an old biscuit, dirty and inedible. Then I met, or rather got to know, the lady who threw me my first life line. I have tried often to search behind the sophistication of years for the enchantment I so easily found in those gifts. The essence escapes but its aura remains. To be allowed, no, invited, into the private lives of strangers, and to share their joys and fears, was a chance to exchange the southern bitter wormwood for a cup of mead with Beowulf, or a hot cup of tea and milk with Oliver Twist. When I said aloud, ‘’ it is a far, far better thing that I do, than have ever done. Tears of love filled my eyes at my selflessness. On that first day, I ran down the hill and into the road (few cars ever came along it) and had the good sense to stop running before I reached the store. Childhood’s logic never asks to be proved (all conclusions are absolute). I didn’t question why Mrs. Flower had singled me out for attention, nor did it occur to me that Momma might have asked her to give me a little talking to. All I cared about was that she had made tea cookies for me and read to me from her favorite book. It was enough to prove that she like me. Mrs. Bertha flower was the aristocrat of black stamps. She had the grace of control to appear warm in the coldest weather, and on the Arkansas summer days it seemed she had a private breeze which swirled around, cooling her. She was thin without the taut look of wiry people, and her printed voile dresses and flowered hats were-as right for her as denim overalls for a farmer. She was our side’s answer to the richest white woman in town. She appealed to me because she was like people I had never met personally. Liked the moors (Whatever they...
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