By Donald Clarke
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No telling how much money they make. You never see people getting so rich so quick. Eleanora was doing it. I wasn't - not then. Then I was learning the trade, by working in the house and watching. Alice Dean never learned me nothing, I just watch what she did. I did anything to be in there, just to be m there. Takes me a whole day to scrub outside one room so's I can peeps in to see how it goes. They don't have too much oil cloth then, so I scrub the floor until it be yella. You can eat off the floor.
Johnny remembered it well, because it was about Thanksgiving time and he was excited. ' She was a light sleeper and there hadn't, been a sound, and my father knew what had happened. By 1992Johnny regretted even more not knowing anything about his family. Rose had died in the 1970s; she had had three children called Fagan and several more with a different surname; the whereabouts of the family Bible are uncertain. Johnny had an aunt,calIed Sophonia Smith, he remembered. She used to tell my father, 'You ought to be ashamed of yourself, calling those children Fagans.
But the older generation of Fagans was gone and had taken its secrets to the grave. There had been Mattie to rule the roost in Charlie's house, and Rosie to help keep Sadie at bay; and soon Clarence had a wife in New York. The child Eleanora yearned for her handsome grandfather and her dashing father, men who achieved things and got respect; but what she saw was that all Sadie's hard work went for very little, and her good intentions for even less: Sadie remained poor and rejected, while Bible-thumpers like Mattie and Rosie looked to Eleanora like hypocntes, living on pedestals.