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5. CHAPTER FIVE
There was no hard stock in Brandeis' Bazaar now. The packing-room was always littered with straw and excelsior dug from hogsheads and great crates. Aloysius lorded it over a small red-headed satellite who disappeared inside barrels and dived head first into huge boxes, coming up again with a lamp, or a doll, or a piece of glassware, like a magician. Fanny, perched on an overturned box, used to watch him, fascinated, while he laboriously completed a water set, or a tea set. A preliminary dive would bring up the first of a half dozen related pieces, each swathed in tissue paper. A deft twist on the part of the attendant Aloysius would strip the paper wrappings and disclose a ruby-tinted tumbler, perhaps. Another dive, and another, until six gleaming glasses stood revealed, like chicks without a hen mother. A final dip, much scratching and burrowing, during which armfuls of hay and excelsior were thrown out, and then the red-headed genie of the barrel would emerge, flushed and triumphant, with the water pitcher itself, thus completing the happy family.
Aloysius, meanwhile, would regale her with one of those choice bits of gossip he had always about him, like a jewel concealed, and only to be brought out for the appreciative. Mrs. Brandeis disapproved of store gossip, and frowned on Sadie and Pearl whenever she found them, their heads close together, their stifled shrieks testifying to his wit. There were times when Molly Brandeis herself could not resist the spell of his tongue. No one knew where Aloysius got his information. He had news that Winnebago's two daily papers never could get, and wouldn't have dared to print if they had.
"Did you hear about Myrtle Krieger," he would begin, "that's marryin' the Hempel boy next month? The one in the bank. She's exhibiting her trewsow at the Outagamie County Fair this week, for the handwork and embroid'ry prize. Ain't it brazen? They say the crowd's so thick around the table that they had to take down the more pers'nal pieces. The first day of the fair the grand-stand was, you might say, empty, even when they was pullin' off the trottin' races and the balloon ascension. It's funny--ain't it?--how them garmints that you wouldn't turn for a second look at on the clothesline or in a store winda' becomes kind of wicked and interestin' the minute they get what they call the human note. There it lays, that virgin lawnjerie, for all the county to look at, with pink ribbons run through everything, and the poor Krieger girl never dreamin' she's doin' somethin' indelicate. She says yesterday if she wins the prize she's going to put it toward one of these kitchen cabinets."
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