Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Mr. Brook, the head of the music department at Ryder College in upstate New York, has hired a woman who will be, he is sure, a very valuable acquisition for his department: Madame Zilensky, whose European credentials are most impressive. Not only does she have a solid reputation as a composer of symphonies but also she is well-known as a fine music teacher. As her immediate superior, Mr. Brook kindly takes it on himself to find for her a house near the college—and, by chance, next door to his apartment.
When he meets her for the first time, he sees a tall, tired woman, shabbily dressed, who is accompanied by her three young sons (Boris, Sammy, and Sigmund) and a Finnish servant. From the beginning, once she starts her teaching tasks, Mr. Brook is uneasy about Madame Zilensky and her children. The boys speak a polyglot language (made up of fragments of Russian, French, German, and other languages), and they will not walk on rugs, simply refusing to go inside rooms that are fully carpeted.
More particularly, weeks after the Zilensky family has supposedly moved in, there is no evidence that the house—whose front door is always open—is inhabited. In fact, Mr. Brook thinks that it looks much like a house that has been abandoned for years.
With regard to Madame Zilensky’s professional work, Mr. Brook is very satisfied. She teaches with unbounded energy and verve, giving over considerable time to her students. Somehow she has...
(The entire section is 1057 words.)
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