Kickass and Mom’s story reading

Kickass, the doorstop dog, agrees with the keeper that much of what passes for seasonal winter entertainment is downright trash, and nothing can ever surpass his—the keeper’s, memory of the following:

“It was my mother’s prebed-time treat on cold winter nights for my sister Norma, brother Orville and me, for her to sit in a rocking chair next to the warm kitchen cook-stove, with the three of us gathered close at her side while she read us stories and books. It was wonderful, and I particularly remember her reading ‘Black Beauty,’ which elicited such profound sympathy that tears were never far off.
“One of the problems was that Mom always worked from dawn to dusk seeing to it that all of her family members were taken care of down to the very last detail of necessity and comfort, and by day’s end she was so exhausted that sitting down next to the warm stove with her children at her feet became a powerful sleep inducer. Mom would be reading along—with us kids hanging on every word, and then the cadence of her voice would slow, until, often at a crucial story point—maybe with Black Beauty being cruelly tortured—Mom’s voice would cease its faltering mumble and fall completely silent. It was like the movie stopping at the point where the hunter is about to shoot Bambi’s mother.
“When it became apparent what was happening, one of us—it had to be Norma or me because Orv would already be asleep in Mom’s lap—, would poke at Mom and exclaim, ‘Mom! Mom! Wake up.’
“Mom would shake her head a bit, and try to resume her reading. But it was a losing cause; and Norma and I knew that the story session was about to end for the night and we would not find out how Black Beauty’s torture ended until the next time beside the warm old cook stove.”

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