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Grace E. King
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 104 pages of information about Balcony Stories.

And they worked on just the same after he died, tending the cow, digging, hoeing, planting, watering.  The day following the funeral, by daylight Jeanne Marie was shouldering around the yoke of milk-cans to his patrons, while Anne Marie carried the vegetables to market; and so on for fifty years.

They were old women now,—­seventy-five years old,—­and, as they expressed it, they had always been twins.  In twins there is always one lucky and one unlucky one:  Jeanne Marie was the lucky one, Anne Marie the unlucky one.  So much so, that it was even she who had to catch the rheumatism, and to lie now bedridden, months at a time, while Jeanne Marie was as active in her sabots as she had ever been.

In spite of the age of both, and the infirmity of one, every Saturday night there was some little thing to put under the brick in the hearth, for taxes and license, and the never-to-be-forgotten funeral provision.  In the husband’s time gold pieces used to go in, but they had all gone to pay for the four funerals and the quadrupled doctor’s bill.  The women laid in silver pieces; the coins, however, grew smaller and smaller, and represented more and more not so much the gain from onions as the saving from food.

It had been explained to them how they might, all at once, make a year’s gain in the lottery; and it had become their custom always, at the end of every month, to put aside one silver coin apiece, to buy a lottery ticket with—­one ticket each, not for the great, but for the twenty-five-cent, prizes.  Anne Marie would buy hers round about the market; Jeanne Marie would stop anywhere along her milk course and buy hers, and they would go together in the afternoon to stand with the little crowd watching the placard upon which the winning numbers were to be written.  And when they were written, it was curious, Jeanne Marie’s numbers would come out twice as often as Anne Marie’s.  Not that she ever won anything, for she was not lucky enough to have them come out in the order to win; they only came out here and there, singly:  but it was sufficient to make old Anne Marie cross and ugly for a day or two, and injure the sale of the onion-basket.  When she became bedridden, Jeanne Marie bought the ticket for both, on the numbers, however, that Anne Marie gave her; and Anne Marie had to lie in bed and wait, while Jeanne Marie went out to watch the placard.

One evening, watching it, Jeanne Marie saw the ticket-agent write out the numbers as they came on her ticket, in such a way that they drew a prize—­forty dollars.

When the old woman saw it she felt such a happiness; just as she used to feel in the old times right after the birth of a baby.  She thought of that instantly.  Without saying a word to any one, she clattered over the banquette as fast as she could in her sabots, to tell the good news to Anne Marie.  But she did not go so fast as not to have time to dispose of her forty dollars over and over again.  Forty

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