Dear reader, you’ve guessed the next chapter: Ursula, as a pretty young woman now relatively independent, falls in love with Sydney, the son of the widow who owns the rooming house. Sydney and Ursula marry, and when the widow dies (after a long time of enjoying her status as mother-in-law, reveling in her son’s happiness, and experiencing a secret pleasure that her decision to put Ursula to work in the kitchen led to this outcome, as if she’d planned it all along), when the widow dies she leaves her house to Sydney and Ursula.
In Ursula’s retelling of all this to Marilyn, her granddaughter and future doyenne of Pine Street, the marriage is a happy, uneventful one. The fact that Sydney and Ursula manage only one child who lives into full adulthood, Marilyn’s father, is shared in a way that glosses over all the heartache of miscarriages and another child lost to polio. Sydney’s death at the young age of sixty-seven, from a sudden heart attack, is presented to his granddaughter as a relative blessing, given the early signs of dementia he had been showing. “God took him before he could fall apart,” is how Ursula told it, and Marilyn was in her thirties before she began to question her grandmother’s accounts.
“There must have been so much sadness, so much grief, but she never talked about her life that way,” Marilyn told Franny during one of their long walks around the town. “Grandma Ursula took the joy of life with her into old age, and left the sadness behind, in the past.”
But in all their conversations, Marilyn never mentioned that her grandmother’s house was the same green one that Allison bought so many years later. Nor did she ever share the reasons why it was sold.
That story belonged to Marilyn’s father, Ernest, the only surviving son of Ursula and Sydney. And it would come to light much later, after the Pine Street friends had researched the chain of ownership of Allison’s house, and realized just how much of the community’s history it contained.