Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family

BOOK: Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family
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YEARLING BOOKS/YOUNG YEARLINGS/YEARLING CLASSICS
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College. She holds a master’s degree in history from St. John’s University, and a Professional Diploma in Reading from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.

For a complete listing of all Yearling titles, write to
Dell Readers Service, P.O. Box 1045,
South Holland, IL 60473.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 1978 by Sydney Taylor

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Previously published in paperback in the United States in 1989 by Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Originally published in hardcover by Dutton, New York, in 1978.

Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

Visit us on the Web!
randomhouse.com/kids

Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at
RHTeachersLibrarians.com

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition of this work as follows:
Taylor, Sydney.
Ella of all of a kind family / by Sydney Taylor; illustrated by Gail Owens
p. cm
Summary: When Jules comes to see her after his return from the war, Ella finds it difficult to have some time alone with him.
[1. Family life—Fiction.] I. Title
PZ7.T2184 El
[Fic]
77026991

eISBN: 978-0-307-82930-6

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

v3.1

to Ella—so gifted, yet ever aware
of the potential in others, inspiring
them to achieve their goals

Contents
1
No Place Like Home

“Jules!” Ella whispered the endearing name.

Those happy days before he went off to war … strolling along, hand in hand, talking and laughing together, disposing of the future as if it were ours alone. It was as if Jules was a part of my childhood—as if we had always known each other.…

Ella sighed. Will it still be the same between us? After all, we’ve been apart from each other for more than a year. People change—even in normal times. With all that a soldier goes through, far away from home and loved ones, will he—can he—be the same dear Jules I have always known?

And what will he think of me, after all those chic French girls? She studied herself in the mirror, patting the neat coil of hair at the nape of her neck.

Not quite as attractive as my sister Henny’s golden curls. But still it has a lovely sheen, and the color, blue-black almost, does set off my white skin nicely. Jules always liked my hair.…

Now for the final touch. Quickly, before anyone caught her in the act, she sprinkled some talcum powder into the palm of her hand and dabbed it carefully over her nose
and chin. “There! That’s much better,” she reassured the face in the mirror.

What would Mama say if I started using real face powder? Most of the girls in the office do. They say it really stays on. Not like this baby stuff. And it’s perfumed. Next payday I’ll get myself a box.

After all, I’m eighteen. What’s wrong with a girl my age trying to improve her looks? It’s 1919. Times have changed. Some girls even use rouge. Of course I wouldn’t go that far.

One last pat at her hair—a tug at her dress, and Ella felt she was ready. She’d wait for Jules in the parlor.

Alas, the parlor was already taken over by her four sisters and her brother.

“Do you all have to sit in here?” she inquired icily. “What’s the matter with the rest of the house all of a sudden?”

“We want to see Jules, too,” littlest sister Gertie piped up.

Precisely at that moment the downstairs buzzer sounded.

“Oh dear!” Ella exclaimed. “Mama, please tick back!” she yelled into the kitchen and began frantically shooing the others from the room.

“All right, we’re going. Don’t get so upset,” Henny said. “Anyone would think we were going to take a bite out of her precious boyfriend.”

Thank goodness, she was alone! Quickly she released the catch on the parlor door which opened onto the hall. She wavered a moment, torn between the urge to rush to greet Jules on the landing or to have him discover her in a charming setting. The setting won.

She sat down at the piano, spreading her skirt so that it
fell in a graceful swirl over the piano stool. Her fingers touched the keys. The next moment they were playing in soft accompaniment as she sang:

Just a little love, a little kiss

I would give you all my life for this.…

Excitement made her voice tremble, for even as the song flowed through the room, she could feel his presence coming toward her.

She turned. There he was, framed motionless in the doorway.

The song faded into silence. Jules moved forward.

“Ella, that was so beautiful.”

She’d forgotten how deep his voice was. She gazed up at him. Because his face was tanned, his eyes seemed bluer than she’d remembered. She smiled. Oh how wonderful—how utterly wonderful it was to see him! Their eyes met, his arms reached out to her—

The portieres rustled.

“Oh—excuse me!” Papa’s voice shattered the rapturous moment.

Quickly Ella averted her gaze as Jules’s arms dropped stiffly to his sides.

Papa paused in the middle of the room, a crumpled newspaper in his hand, his glasses perched at the end of his nose. Ella realized he had wandered in seeking some peace and quiet, forgetting entirely about Jules’s coming.

“Oh,” Papa scratched his head uncertainly. “Who’s that? It’s Jules—Jules! My, you look so different. For a moment, I couldn’t believe it.” He caught hold of Jules’s hand and began pumping it vigorously. “Welcome! Welcome home.
Thank God you’re home safe. We were all so worried about you.”

He settled himself on the couch. “I myself never had to fight in a war. But I can well imagine how terrible it was for our boys over there. And now,” he poked his finger at the newspaper headline, “I don’t know. The way things are in such a muddle. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Instead, every country is trying to take advantage for itself. Look, even in our own country, the way those senators are fighting President Wilson. Let me ask you, do you really think a League of Nations can amount to something?”

Oh no! Ella despaired. It looks like Papa’s getting ready for a long discussion. Doesn’t he realize we want to be alone?

Just then Mama emerged through the portieres with little Charlie tagging after.

Ella perked up. Mama will understand.

“Papa,” Mama said at once, “you know that shelf in the kitchen where the clock stands? It’s coming loose. You’d better fix it right away.”

“Right this minute?”

“Yes. Right away. This minute!” Mama replied, fixing him with a meaningful stare.

Papa remained seated with a puzzled expression on his face. He glanced first at Jules and then at Ella. “Oh,” he said suddenly, “that’s right. I’ll attend to it right away.”

He stood up, folded his newspaper hurriedly and shuffled out of the room.

“Well now.” Mama turned to Jules with a tone of having solved a problem. “Nice to see you, Jules. You look wonderful. Come, take off your coat and sit down. Make
yourself comfortable. Ella, what kind of a hostess are you, letting Jules stand around with his coat on?”

Oh dear, Ella thought, now it’s Mama hovering over Jules like a mother hen.

“It’s getting pretty cold out, isn’t it?” Mama rattled on.

Jules removed his coat and remained standing, holding it awkwardly in his arms.

“Jules, you’re in civvies!” Ella exclaimed.

“Civvies?” Mama repeated.

“No more uniform,” Jules explained. He straightened up self-consciously as Mama looked him up and down.

“You look very nice in your blue suit,” Mama said with a little laugh. “You know what Aunt Lena always says, ‘If a man doesn’t look good in a blue suit, he’ll never look good in anything.’ ”

Jules grinned sheepishly, shifting his coat from one arm to the other.

“Ella, why don’t you take his coat?” Mama ordered. “Do sit down, Jules.”

Jules obliged. Leaning back, he crossed his legs in an effort to be casual. Ella could sense his discomfort, but Mama kept chatting away cheerily.

From somewhere Mama’s inevitable knitting appeared. On the instant, the needles began clicking away beneath her nimble fingers.

Ye gods! Ella fretted. How much longer does Mama intend to stay? Her eyes met Jules’s and telegraphed, “I know. But what can I do?”

“And your mother? How is she?” Mama went on. “I can just imagine how happy she must be to have you back home, safe and sound.”

During all this time, a strangely quiet Charlie stood by.
Now suddenly, he ran up to Jules and pulled at his arm. “Where’s your uniform?” he asked.

Jules tousled the boy’s blond hair. “All packed away, Charlie.”

Charlie continued to stare up at him. “Aren’t you a soldier anymore?”

“Nope. The war’s over, Charlie.”

“Thank God!” Mama added.

Conversation seemed to have run out. Jules swung a leg back and forth, back and forth. The knitting needles clicked loudly in the void.

All at once Jules sat up. “I almost forgot. I’ve got something for you, Charlie.”

“For me?”

Jules dangled a small paper bag in the air.

Charlie snatched it and ripped it open. “Ooh! An Indian Bar!” he squealed. Greedily he bit into the peanuts and chocolate.

“Charlie!” scolded Mama. “Where are your manners?”

Mouth full, Charlie mumbled, “Thanks,” then added reluctantly, “anybody wanna bite?”

It seemed no one did, so Charlie munched away blissfully.

It was nice of Jules to remember my little brother, Ella thought. You can tell he likes children. I’m glad. I couldn’t possibly care for a man who didn’t.

Jules was smiling at her. He inclined his head slightly, indicating Mama, his eyebrows raised questioningly.

Ella went over to Mama and whispered, “Mama, please!”

Mama rose quickly. “Charlie,” she announced, “it’s time for you to go to bed.”

“Aw, everybody’s always telling me it’s time to go to bed,” grumbled Charlie. “Do I have to?”

BOOK: Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family
10.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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