Carrie was caught up in the book.
        They could see it in her flushed face, shoulders, her finger tip.
        She read to them a random sentence, then 1 more.
        What more?
        "Balloons hovered above in airy brightness, quick pipers threaded their way through shepherds, children, sellers of bread and hawkers of bright necklaces, jeweled rings."
        Cleo on the divan sat, drew her knees up to her pointed chin.
        "The puppets flew free, and Harlequin pranced with the flower vendor's cat, and the fountain laughed for the toes of African women tickled its stones."
        Cleo winked.
        Elaine saw it, assumed it, narrowed an eye.
        At the desk seated Violet polished the gold ring. It was 1 of the old 1s, from the box. The desk was 1 of the big 1s, like a sarcophagus, Rose snappy, a little wild with it, with fighting it off, that which she denied knowing denial ineffectual and Esme(e) knew it, knew all, and always had which outstripped aggravation and drove Rose to ramming fury ricocheting now and again but now, being only coiled and wrung part of the way, for the night was young, or so they thought, Rose rubbed a shapely thumb with force more than sufficient to blend the pink, incarnadine, cochineal, the cream until their rose the perfect carnation hue composed the breast so lightly veiled of Carrie devoid of chiaroscuro on the canvas on the ladder where she sat topped by none, topping all, even the pink cockatoo feathered source for Rose and disdaining its cage for the frame of the stuffed macaque, Carrie at the highest row of gilt-spined books.
        Her blue skirt fell about the rungs tenting them, enclosing her black buttoned boots. She turned a page, held up the book, placed a finger on a word. Carrie looked up, down at them little islands on the flowered rug, little lamps of energy and endeavor, candor within, for now, 4 walls of books behind glass and glass within wood rubbed like the magic lamp but with lemon oil but responding in kind granting freely an answer if 1but knew the questions or could wait.

        Violet saw that and smiled, nearly laughed. Her heart beat strangely warm this night with a joy she could scarcely contain. Esme(e), she knew, listened where she stood at the globe touching it, turning it absently wearing burgundy chesterfield and watch for though unseen it must be there.
        Violet heard the chimes.
        Esme(e)'s dark hair coiled down her back leather laced more thick than Violet's wrist.