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by Frank Norris
Chapter I
It had just struck nine from the cuckoo clock that hung over the
mantelpiece in the dining-room, when Victorine brought in the halved
watermelon and set it in front of Mr. Bessemer's plate. Then she went
down to the front door for the damp, twisted roll of the Sunday
morning's paper, and came back and rang the breakfast-bell for the
second time.
As the family still hesitated to appear, she went to the bay window at
the end of the room, and stood there for a moment looking out. The
view was wonderful. The Bessemers lived upon the Washington Street
hill, almost at its very summit, in a flat in the third story of the
building. The contractor had been clever enough to reverse the
position of kitchen and dining-room, so that the latter room was at the
rear of the house. From its window one could command a sweep of San
Francisco Bay and the Contra Costa shore, from Mount Diablo, along past
Oakland, Berkeley, Sausalito, and Mount Tamalpais, out to the Golden
Gate, the Presidio, the ocean, and even--on very clear days--to the
Farrallone islands.
For some time Victorine stood looking down at the great expanse of land
and sea, then faced about with an impatient exclamation.
On Sundays all the week-day regime of the family was deranged, and
breakfast was a movable feast, to be had any time after seven or before
half-past nine. As Victorine was pouring the ice-water, Mr. Bessemer
himself came in, and addressed himself at once to his meal, without so

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