come into the drawing room. The ladies will join us at ten o’clock.”
The room looks different. The furniture has been rearranged with the sofa facing several chairs arranged in front of the widow. There’s a chair at a right angle to the sofa so the occupant can face both ways. The bell downstairs starts clanging as women arrive in bunches of twos and threes. Their favorite color seems to be black. They wear black bonnets that tie under their chins. Some ladies remove their bonnets which makes them less intimidating.
I stand in front of the sofa with Mrs. Williamson who introduces me to each unsmiling woman. Some of the ladies pour themselves a cup of coffee from the service on a small table at the far side of the room before taking their seats. When all the ladies arrive, the room can hold no more. The ladies speak softly until Mrs. Stevenson, as chair of the Ladies’ Association, takes the seat at the right angle to the sofa. She’s a tall, thin woman in a black dress with small black buttons on the front of her bodice. She nods to me but doesn’t extend her hand. I feel her disapproval. Her attention is taken by documents in front of her.
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