It followed that Mrs. Flowers would have ice on an ordinary day， when most families in our town bought ice late on Saturdays only a few times during the summer to be used in the wooden ice-cream freezers.
“Have a seat， Marguerite. Over there by the table.”
She carried a platter covered with a tea towel.
Although she warned that she hadn't tried her hand at baking sweets for some time， I was certain that like everything else about her the cookies would be perfect.
As I ate she began the first of what we later called “my lesson in living.”
She said that must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy.
That some people， unable to go to school， were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors.
She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called mother wit. That in those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations
When I finished the cookies she brushed off the table and brought a thick， small book from the bookcase.
I had read A Tale of Two Cities and found it up to my standards as a romantic novel.
She opened the first page and I heard poetry for the first time in my life.
“It was the best of times and the worst of times. . .” Her voice slid in and curved down through and over the words. She was nearly singing.
I wanted to look at the pages. Were they the same that I had read？
Or were there notes， music， lined on the pages， as in a hymn book？
Her sounds began cascading gently.
I knew from listening to a thousand preachers that she was nearing the end of her reading， and I hadn't really heard， heard to understand， a single word.
“How do you like that？”
It occurred to me that she expected a response.
The sweet vanilla flavor was still on my tongue and her reading was a wonder in my ears.
I had to speak.
I said， “Yea， ma'am.” It was the least I could do， but it was the most also.
'There s one more thing. Take this book of poems and memorize one for me. Next time you pay me a visit， I want you to recite.“
I have tried often to search behind the sophistication of years for the enchantment I so easily found in those gifts.
The essence escapes but its aura remains.
To be allowed， no， invited， into the private lives of strangers， and to share their joys and fears， was a chance to exchange the Southern bitter wormwood for a cup of mead with Be-owulf or a hot cup of tea and milk with Oliver Twist.
When I said aloud， “It is a far， far better thing that I do， than I have ever done…” tears of love filled my eyes at my selflessness.
On that first day， I ran down the hill and into the road （few cars ever came along it） and had the good sense to stop running before I reached the Store.
was liked， and what a difference it made.
I was respected not as Mrs. Henderson's grandchild or Bailey's sister but for just being Marguerite Johnson.
Childhood's logic never asks to be proved （all conclusions are absolute）。
1 didn't question why Mrs. Flowers had singled me out for attention， nor did it occur to me that Momma might have asked her to give me a little talking to.
All I cared about was that she had made tea cookies for me and read to me from her favorite book. It was enough to prove that she liked me.
Momma and Bailey were waiting inside the Store.
He said. “My， what did she give you？” He had seen the books， but I held the paper sack with his cookies in my arms shielded by the poems.
Momma said， “Sister， I know you acted like a little lady. That do my heart good to see settled people take to you all.
I'm trying my best， the Lord knows， but these days…“ Her voice trailed off. ”Go on in and change your dress