Bittersweet by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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Author: Nevada Barr

Award-winning author Nevada Barr reveals another side to her remarkable storytelling prowess with this
heart-wrenching yet tender tale of two women whose boundless devotion to each other is continually
challenged in nineteenth century America.

A Rawboned Woman Nearly Six Feet Tall Pulled On The Brass handle; the door was wedged against the
lintel and wouldn't close -- the fog that had lain over Philadelphia since late September had swelled the
wood. Kicking a duffel bag out of the way, she grasped the knob with both hands and yanked. With a
screech the door slammed shut. "Try opening that, Mr. Neff, you little, little man." She turned the key and
the bolt clicked home.It was a brass key ornate with scrollwork; the initials AMG had been engraved on
the lemon-shaped head. The woman ran her thumb over the worn letters. "Amanda Montgomery
Grelznik," she said softly and hurled the key over the porch railing into the fog. She listened for it to hit,
but the thick mist swallowed the sound."Imogene." An angular man, all in gray, stood at the gate
watching her. His head was bare to the cold and his hands, knotted with arthritis, rested on the pickets of
the fence like gnarled winter branches."Mr. Utterback!" She picked up her suitcases and came down the
steps to meet him. "I didn't hear you. With the fog I feel both deaf and blind.""I see thee are packed. I
might have known thee'd be ready.""I sent most of my things ahead. The new owners, the Neffs, can have
what is left."They looked back at the house in silence. It carried its age with dignity; the fine woodwork on
the porch had been newly painted in summer and the yard was immaculate. "Mother and Father bought
this house in 1842. I was born in that room nine months later to the day." Imogene pointed to the gabled
window above the porch. "Come April, I would have lived here thirty-one years.""I am sorry, Imogene.""No
need, Mr. Utterback." She laid her hand on his arm."I think thee might call me William."She laughed. "My
tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth.""Thou art the best teacher I have ever known," he said
simply. "I shall miss thee."Imogene's narrow lower lip trembled; she pressed her fingers against it and
coughed."Well." He cleared his throat and looked away. He cleared it again. "Does thee have the letter?"
She patted the leather duffel bag she had put on top of her suitcase. "Thee can read it. Joseph was a
student of mine. I've told him of thy merit as a teacher and made no mention of the other.""Thank
you.""Go on teaching, that is thanks enough." He dug into the folds of his gray coat until his arm
disappeared to the elbow, and pulled out a sheet of paper. "This came. I thought thee might like to read
it. Isabelle Ann was a friend of thine.""Isabelle Ann Close?" Imogene came to his side to look over his
arm."It's Englewood now. She married a boy from Virginia and went west. This is all the way from Nevada
Territory. He shook out the letter and held it away from him in the manner of farsighted people. "She
writes there are no qualified teachers there, and she asks after thee." He handed Imogene the
letter.Imogene folded it up and put it into the pocket of her skirt. "I'll read it on the train." She looked at
the little silver watch pinned to her coat. "I'd best be going.""Did thee leave the key for Mr. and Mrs.
Neff?""I threw it away. It was Mother's. There's another on a nail just inside the back-porch door.""I wish
he had offered a fair price, but he knew thee had to sell." He smiled. "Thee really threw it away?" She
nodded. "I'll walk with thee to the train station."Imogene took up her suitcases abruptly. "No, please. I
appreciate the offer, Mr. Utterback, but I'd rather go the last by myself. I have so much to look at on the
way, I'm afraid I...
Author Bio
Nevada Barr
Navada Barr is the award-winning author of seven Anna Pigeon mysteries: Track of the Cat, A Superior
Death, Ill Wind, Firestorm, Endangered Species, Blind Descent, and Liberty Falling. She lives in
Mississippi and was most recently a ranger on the Natchez Trace Parkway

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