Mary Minor Haristeen, Harry to her friends, trotted along the railroad track. Following at her heels were Mrs. Murphy, her wise and willful tiger cat, and Tee Tucker, her Welsh corgi. Had you asked the cat and the dog they would have told you that Harry belonged to them, not vice versa, but there was no doubt that Harry belonged to the little town of Crozet, Virginia. At thirty-three she was the youngest postmistress Crozet had ever had, but then no one else really wanted the job.
Crozet nestles in the haunches of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town proper consists of Railroad Avenue, which parallels the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad track, and a street intersecting it called the Whitehall Road. Ten miles to the east reposes the rich and powerful small city of Charlottesville, which, like a golden fungus, is spreading east, west, north, and south. Harry liked Charlottesville just fine. It was the developers she didn't much like, and she prayed nightly they'd continue to think of Crozet and its three thousand inhabitants as a dinky little whistle stop on the route west and ignore it.
A gray clapboard building with white trim, next to the rail depot, housed the post office. Next to that was a tiny grocery store and a butcher shop run by "Market" Shiflett. Everyone appreciated this convenience because you could pick up your milk, mail, and gossip in one central location.
Harry unlocked the door and stepped inside just as the huge railroad clock chimed seven beats for 7:00 a.m. Mrs. Murphy scooted under her feet and Tucker entered at a more leisurely pace.
An empty mail bin invited Mrs. Murphy. She hopped in. Tucker complained that she couldn't jump in.
"Tucker, hush. Mrs. Murphy will be out in a minute--won't you?" Harry leaned over the bin.
Mrs. Murphy stared right back up at her and said, "Fat chance. Let Tucker bitch. She stole my catnip sockie this morning."
All Harry heard was a meow.
The corgi heard every word. "You're a real shit, Mrs. Murphy. You've got a million of those socks."
Mrs. Murphy put her paws on the edge of the bin and peeped over. "So what. I didn't say you could play with any of them."
"Stop that, Tucker." Harry thought the dog was growling for no reason at all.
A horn beeped outside. Rob Collier, driving the huge mail truck, was delivering the morning mail. He'd return at four that afternoon for pickup.
"You're early," Harry called to him.
"Figured I'd cut you a break." Rob smiled. "Because in exactly one hour Mrs. Hogendobber will be standing outside this door huffing and puffing for her mail." He dumped two big duffel bags on the front step and went back to the truck. Harry carried them inside.
"Hey, I'd have done that for you."
"I know," Harry said. "I need the exercise."
Tucker appeared in the doorway.
"Hello, Tucker," Rob greeted the dog. Tucker wagged her tail. "Well, neither rain nor sleet nor snow, et cetera." Rob slid behind the wheel.
"It's seventy-nine degrees at seven, Rob. I wouldn't worry about the sleet if I were you."
He smiled and drove off.
Harry opened the first bag. Mrs. Hogendobber's mail was on the top, neatly bound with a thick rubber band. Rob, if he had the time, put Mrs. Hogendobber's mail in a pile down at the main post office in Charlottesville. Harry slipped the handful of mail into the mail slot. She then began sorting through the rest of the stuff: bills, enough mail-order catalogues to provide clothing for every man, woman, and child in the United States, and of course personal letters and postcards.
Courtney Shiflett, Market's fourteen-year-old daughter, received a postcard from Sally McIntire, away at camp. Kelly Craycroft, the handsome, rich paving contractor, was the recipient of a shiny postcard from Paris. It was a photo of a beautiful angel with wings. Harry flipped it over. It was Oscar Wilde's tombstone in the Pie
- Verlag: Bantam Books
- Seitenzahl: 320
- Ausstattung/Bilder: 10 LINE ILLUSTRATIONS
- Abmessung: 175mm x 106mm x 25mm
- Gewicht: 150g
- ISBN-13: 9780553287530
- ISBN-10: 0553287532
- Best.Nr.: 06119788