Betsy’s Dream

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A little girl finds her own place in her grandmother’s house.

Betsy’s Dream

One day, a little girl named Betsy went to stay with her grandmother in the city.

Betsy’s mother and father, who were farmers, had been invited to attend a United nations conference on farming Tanzania, in Africa. Betsy had not been invited to go.

“It’s only for three weeks,” Betsy’s mother said, “and it’s not like we’re taking a holiday without you; we’ll be working hard the whole time we’re a way. We’ll be helping people—so you’ll be a good girl, and not be selfish, won’t you?”

But Betsy still didn’t like the idea of being left behind, or going to her grandmother’s house (where she’d never been before) and it took some solid bribery—the promise of an exotic present from Tanzania, a trip to the zoo, and a wooden model of a dinosaur from her father—before Betsy, very reluctantly, agreed to stay with her grandmother.

Betsy’s grandmother’s house was tall and narrow and filled with many unusual objects. A potter’s wheel and kiln were in the basement; boxes of china and kitchen utensils and used clothing (which were being save for a garage sale) were stacked on the dining-room table, which had been moved into the living-room to make space for filing cabinets and a cranky photocopier in the dining room. Upstairs, there were a pinball machine, a barber’s chair, and a computer in one of the spare bedrooms (where Betsy slept) and a roll-top desk and an electric typewriter in the other.

Betsy’s grandmother was tall and thin and brisk and always busy. Every morning she descended to her studio in the basement where she threw large gobs of clay on the potter’s wheel and whirled them into jugs and coffee-mugs and vases, which she baked in her kiln. Every afternoon, she ascended to her office on the second floor, where she clattered the keys of her typewriter at a great rate, writing article on pottery-making and letters-to-the-editor. Every evening, she entertained visiting poets or firemen, or presided over meetings of the Save Our Stream Committee. There was a constant hustle and bustle throughout the house, with the telephone ringing every few minutes, and the front and back doors continually opening and closing as people came and went.

In fact, there was so much going on, there wasn’t any room for Betsy.