You are on page 1of 6

The class admitted twenty-eight students, and because there were only twenty

-
seven registered, Lali was allowed to take the course even after missing the first
two classes. William had assured Mrs. Hamma that he would help Lali catch up;
Short Story she was glad to have another student to make up the full registration.
Most of the students were Spanish-speaking. The majority were American
The English Lesson citizens—Puerto Ricans who had migrated to New York and spoke very little
English. The rest were immigrants admitted to the United States as legal aliens.
by Nicholasa Mohr There were several Chinese, two Dominicans, one Sicilian, and one Pole.
Every Tuesday Mrs. Hamma traveled to the Lower East Side from Bayside,
Born: New York, NY Queens, where she lived and was employed as a history teacher in the local
Career: Fine arts painter, art instructor, junior high school. She was convinced that this small group of people desperately
head writer and co-producer of needed her services. Mrs. Hamma reiterated her feelings frequently to just about
television series, novelist, short anyone who would listen. "Why, if these people can make it to class after working
story writer and illustrator all day at those miserable, dreary, uninteresting, and often revolting jobs, well,
Has lived in: California, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the least I can do is be there to serve them, making every lesson count toward
New Jersey, New Hampshire, and improving their conditions! My grandparents came here from Germany as poor
New York immigrants, working their way up. I'm not one to forget a thing like that!"
By the time class started most of the students were quite tired. And after the
•lesson was over, many had to go on to part-time jobs, some even without time
for supper. As a result there was always sluggishness and yawning among the
students. This never discouraged Mrs. Hamma, whose drive and enthusiasm not
"REMEMBER OUR ASSIGNMENT FOR TODAY everybody! rm so confident only amused the class but often kept everyone awake.
that you will all do exceptionally well!" Mrs. Susan Hamma smiled enthusiasti- "Now this is the moment we have all been preparing for." Mrs. Hamma stood
cally at her students. "Everyone is to get up and make a brief statement as to up, nodded, and blinked knowingly at her students. "Five lessons, I think, are
why he or she is taking this course in Basic English. You must state your name, enough to prepare us for our oral statements. You may read from prepared
where you originally came from, how long you have been here, and ... uh ... a notes, as I said before, but please try not to read every word. We want to hear
little something about yourself, if you wish. Keep it brief, not too long; remember, you speak; conversation is what we're after. When someone asks you about
there are twenty-eight of us. We have a full class, and everyone must have a yourself, you cannot take a piece of paper and start reading the answers, now
chance." Mrs. Hamma waved a forefinger at her students. "This is, after all, a can you? That would be foolish. So ..."
democracy, and we have a democratic class; fairness for all!" Standing in front of her desk, she put her hands on her hips and spread her
Lali grinned and looked at William, who sat directly next to her. He winked and feet, giving the impression that she was going to demonstrate calisthenics.
rolled his eyes toward Mrs. Hamma. This was the third class they had attended "Shall we begin?"
together. It had not been easy to persuade Rudi that Lali should learn better Mrs. Hamma was a very tall, angular woman with large extremities. She was
English. the tallest person in the room. Her eyes roamed from student to student until
"Why is it necessary, eh?" Rudi had protested. "She works here in the store they met William's.
with me. She don't have to talk to nobody. Besides, everybody that comes in "Mr. Col6n, will you please begin?"
speaks Spanish—practically everybody, anyway." Nervously William looked around him, hesitating.
But once William had put the idea to Lali and explained how much easier "Come on now, we must get the ball rolling. All right now ... did you hear
things would be for her, she kept insisting until Rudi finally agreed. "Go on, what I said? Listen, 'getting the ball rolling' means getting started. Getting things
you're both driving me nuts. But it can't interfere with business or work—I'm going, such as—" Mrs. Hamma swiftly lifted her right hand over her head, making
warning you!" a fist, then swung her arm around like a pitcher and, with an underhand curve,
Adult Education offered Basic English, Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00, forcefully threw an imaginary ball out at her students. Trying to maintain her
at a local public school. Night customers did not usually come into Rudi's Lun- balance, Mrs. Hamma hopped from one leg to the other. Startled, the students
cheonette until after eight. William and Lali promised that they would leave looked at one another. In spite of their efforts to restrain themselves, several
everything prepared and make up for any inconvenience by working harder and people in back began to giggle. Lali and William looked away, avoiding each
longer than usual, if necessary.

194 195

and she made the most of these Taking a deep breath. William felt better. because my ambition is to learn to speak and read English very good. Each statement was followed by applause from everyone. who was childless. Diego Torres. pero I cannot help. please!" most men referred only to their "family. row. This way. then praise them when they with the beauty of the section and—" finished. everyone began to copy what she wrote. have to know somebody. over the situation gave her a pleasing thrill. Hamma selected each student who was to speak from a different part of the room. Idiom . "It's something taking the course in Basic English to speak good and improve my position better which literally says one thing. is political. every woman gave the ages and sex of her children. My reasons to be here is to make money. please. Mrs. for nothing. I notebook. Mr. all together they gave William a healthy round of applause. eh? So I come here from necessity. Also to be eligible to become American citizen. among the legal aliens. The students provingly at Diego Torres. remember?" "I no finish lady!" he snapped. watched her and slowly each one began to imitate her. man! You don't know "Mr. but actually means another. and her confusion was greater than her head." Mrs. Mr. idiomatic. to help my mother y familia. Fong. Mrs. "nothing in the whole world." Quickly and obediently. idiommmmmm/" Mrs." go back home buy my house and property. Mrs.. he was almost the same height standing as sitting." were living with relatives. Fong. They had migrated here in search of a better future. especially in a new situation. moments by looking at several people more than once before making her final "My name is William Horacio Colon. he was a man in his late thirties. no When speaking to others. Mr. you . Fong waited for an answer. there are—" "Go on. .' It is name like read from prepared notes." He too read from a prepared statement. idiomit. With assured countenance. China.. With the exception William looked at her. please. and worked as unskilled laborers. it gave him a sense of equality with other people. Col6n." Going to the blackboard. or even alphabetical order. "we must be brief. There were more men than women. Next. is political to get a job. shaking her one had ever spoken to her like that. 196 . of medium height and country—" slight build. Mrs. Hamma interrupted. Pleased. or front to back. living with my mother and family in Lower East only one who did not want to become an American citizen. class?" Mrs. I got no work at home. and "Go on. Hamma interrupted. "I come from Hong Kong but original born in city of Canton. "What I said!" Mr. you may go next. Get the ball rolling. "Make it brief. "I no give up my country. Mrs. I no be American citizen. It was her way of maintaining a balance. "there are others. No "No. Someday we gonna run our own country "I said OK?" Mr. "Just go on." William spoke rapidly. Mrs. "You have just seen me demonstrate the States New York City for most one year. there was "I am working here now. Hamma. that's all. and he gave his reasons. and Mrs. she lowered her eyes and nodded. Mr. OK. Mr. go on." I live simple but in my own country I be contento.." he read from a prepared statement. The name for each woman." He shrugged. of Lali. Fong stood up. let's GET THE BALL ROLLING. man? I come here. despite her efforts to discourage this." the situation of Santo Domingo now. "I study Basic English por que young man from the Dominican Republic.. it will be more spontaneous. "Y around the room. is idiot!" Mr. Fong." And. looking get a better job." Diego Torres hesitated. I tell you. "Mr. She would this because when the Spaniards first seen that place they was very impressed interrupt them when she felt they went on too long. Hamma continued. looking directly at "OK.. and waited. Hamma hummed her m's. Y—y tambien. Even I don't got too much. "I choice. I coming from Puerto Rico. Hamma Santo Domingo. pleased. Colon!" Mrs. and be jobs for everybody." in this country. I prefer live feeling happy in my country. have been here in New York City for five months." Mrs. A feeling of control He looked around and cleared his throat. All had similar statements.. catching the uncertain looks on the faces of her students. Colon. 197 . "Go on.. Hamma called two or three men My town is located in the mountains in the central part of the island. Get a ball rolling ." nobody and you no work. man. There was complete silence as Diego Torres glared at Susan Hamma. Fong responded with self-assurance.. know. rather than in the more conventional orderly fashion of row by • Uneasily William stood up. "My name is Joseph Fong." zen"—he pointed to an older man with a dark complexion. Mr. unable to continue." She cleared her throat. "Get a ball rolling. seated a few seats "That's all? Why. "You wait a minute when I finish!" "All right. Hamma. Cautiously he looked at Mrs. looked around her. man. Hamma enjoyed sit alongside those listening. Fong sighed. he always preferred to one will know who's next. she reasoned. Y—you room. I working meaning of an idiom. Hamma explained. "Has everyone got it? OK. no way. To ". Fong smiled. Without speaking. Torres. To her distress. Pero this is no possible in "Never mind. trying to hide his annoyance. that's wonderful! Wonderful! Didn't he do well. pero this no my Mr. and to improve my economic situation. Now I want everyone to jot down this information in his delivery food business and live with my brother and his family in Chinatown. most of my town is Aibonito. which means in Spanish 'oh how pretty. There. a Side of New York City. away—"like my fellow countryman over there!" The man shook his head disap- Hamma bowed slightly toward William and applauded him. Hamma turned to a Chinese man seated at the other side of the The United States control most the industry which is sugar and tourismo.other's eyes and trying not to laugh out loud. at least everyone else was sitting." he went on. I been here in this country United "An idiom!" she exclaimed. "Not an—It's idiomatic!" embarrassment. "But is one thing I no want and is to become American citi- do better.

" be looking at the history of New York City and the different ethnic groups that The last person to be called on was the Pole. I mean . "I wish I could be citizen and wanted to get home. "All right. he thought being short was will do very well. with my wife's cousin who is to be helping us." Several people bolted past her. Mr. I no come here find work live good and some students looked anxiously at their watches and others asked about the no have responsibility or no be grateful. then turned to find the next speaker." would finish quickly. like yourself. And as long as you are in this Stephan Paczkowski read from his notes carefully. the capital of Sicily. This way I help my husband in his States. and lowered his eyelids. "Hey? I tell you all one thing. I thank you all. "Very good. you know. Even after the confrontation with Diego Aldo Fabrizi. Hamma called out. that's next week's work. I'm sure you will not only become a citizen. We will to this country. see you all next Tuesday!" Mrs. that you relieved him of these feelings. "That was well were already at the luncheonette. bringing the "Good evening fellow students and Madame Teacher. he was. we have to get to next week's assignment. Thank you. normal. it's really just admirable. Mrs.. you are in America. Call Rudi's Luncheonette. everyone. I been here New York City Lower East improve my knowledge of English language. Hamma began to write the next week's assignment on the board. My whole family is citizens—we all Americans and we Lali looked at William. with a shirt and tie." business and I do more also for myself. let us give Mr. she began to applaud. There would be hell to pay with Rudi if the night customers "Very good. Paczkow- in a copper wire factory with his brother-in-law in Brooklyn. My wife who also is being a professor of economics at "Bullshit. barely five Torres. I wish to become a citizen of United my vocabulario and learn more about here. and carried a briefcase. sighing impatiently. by the way. Hamma was interrupted by the long. she had applauded without hesitation. some even hoped to have time for a bite to eat first." whispered Diego Torres. In less than thirty seconds. loud buzzing sound. if any of you here wants extra help. but William's presence "Well. He told the class that he was originally after all.. articulating every word. Is a small village in the mountains near El Yunque Rain Forest. We made arrangements the only ones left.right to an opinion." with you." He nodded politely to lesson to an end. Hamma. Mrs. That's all I got to say. Hamma love America!" His voice was quite loud. without reading her in a round of applause." He turned and looked threateningly time. stated. folded his hands. "I classroom. Finally. Diego Torres sat down. I got my nephew right now fighting almost eight o'clock. Hamma called upon Lali. Hamma. but we defend your. It was at Diego Torres. Mrs. "By the way. Aldo Fabrizi wanted ski. working slightly pained expression. including to be able to read better in After Stephan Paczkowski sat down. the Sicilian. Now. and had gone to Milano. late." Everyone was listening intently to what she from Palermo. That is my reasons. from his notes. 198 Hamma was standing in an empty classroom. "That's how I feel. Hamma had composed herself. spoke next. Then they all quickly copied the information into their notebooks. to fight for this country. My background is I was born in capital city of Poland. feet tall. He was always neatly dressed lived here as far back as the Dutch. Those who had to get to second jobs did not want to be in Vietnam for this country!" Diego Torres stretched his hands over his head. distracting Aldo Fabrizi." Mrs. Now." everyone turned to look at Mrs. no big thing. The thing of it is. he immigrated here six months Mrs. which is now about one year. which is very important. he said. . Lali and the two European immigrants were remain in position at University or remain over there. Quickly everyone began to exit. I come from Canovanas in Puerto Rico. That is what America is all about! We may not agree degree of professor of music with specialty in the history of music. "that's admirable! I'm sure. Others were just tired yawning. Torres was given appointment of professor of history of music at University of Krakow. As Mrs. University of Krakow is of Jewish parents. "My name is Stephan Paczkowski. I have a few minutes this evening. I wish to take Basic English to of restaurant. Hamma realized that no one had applauded Stephan Paczkowski. My wife was told she could not Practically everyone had spoken.I'm Dominican and proud! That's it. Looking at William. After three years in Milano. said. He had a good steady job. for my wife and daughter who is seven years of age and myself to come here "My name is Rogelia Dolores Padillo.." reserved but friendly. Now she seemed unable to move." she said. I study Basic English to improve of professor of history of music. almost breathless." Mrs. in the north of Italy. Usually he was self-conscious about his height.." looking for work. My family is "Since four months I am working in large hospital as position of porter in still living there. sir. there was a long awkward silence and English. His manner was you all spoke. a person of your . All of you—I have no favorites. I the same courtesy as everyone else in this class.. everybody here must be treated equally. I can't tell you how proud I am of the way in a business suit.. but you will also be a credit "There. "That was well done. Being educated in capital and also graduating from the University with here and state your views." Abruptly. you can come Warsaw. I marry and live here with my husband working in his business maintenance department. He was a very short man. "I be proud to be American citizen. I am originally from Poland "Good night. about four months ago. "Mustn't forget Mr. Mrs. ment to leave Poland. excusing themselves. With a ago and now lived with his sister. after all. At this time the political situation in Poland was so that all Jewish people were requested by the govern- a polite light clap. and be able to return to my position Side since I marry. They both hoped Mrs. class. This is America!" The class joined to become an American citizen and spoke passionately about it." Mrs. Hamma applauded with work there for ten years until about year and half ago. a professor. Torres. Hamma called.

he felt he hardly His thick golden-blond hair was slightly mussed and fell softly. Lali was shy by nature. and large shoulders made him William began to stack clean glasses behind the counter. who was shy and timid. don't go worrying about what that whipped across Houston Street. She felt herself blushing. it's his wife who is Jewish.William and Lali hurried along. honestly! But. . "Let's get going. One customer sat at the counter. "Tsk. the young. "You remember what you talked about?" He watched her as she moved. sharp March wind "But that's it .. gesturing toward Lali. But I guess they don't wanna be separated . I'll have mine a little later. I was just "Ask her if she wants some. minutes yet. but the business. Get used to simple phrases and the rest will come. and they have a child. Miss Lali. Besides. Bendito! Imagine. "I never heard of such a Horacio." Her response was barely audible. we all have to start some place." "I don't know. "It's an interesting class. Since William had begun to work a little bit in English." "Lali?" William asked. She had grown up in the sheltered environment of Lali busied herself. and the long hours of work at the Especially a country girl like Lali. everybody got a chance to clean toilets! Equality. You started the thing off very well." canos? When they speak Spanish. she was always Lali glanced over at him as they started across the wide busy street. "Go on. right? Instead. I was so nervous. 200 201 . didn't she say that?" a name for a Chiquitin like me. ing his forehead. What a terrible thing!" last. making "A little bit in English—about what?" friends was difficult for her. they sound pretty awful. don't think! What I mean is. it's like Mrs. It would be good practice for William ran in the back to change into his workshirt. He had never had luncheonette confined Lali to a way of life she could not have imagined. I feel so foolish." Rudi called out. without interrupting her work." They both laughed loudly. There's some fresh rice pudding. tear. After almost one year of marriage. I'm glad she left me for one of the cause they were Jewish. Lali. stepping up their pace until they reached Rudi's Lali smiled. You were "I don't believe he's Jewish. and my accent is terrible!" "Well. this is America. "But look.. los pobres! But. Hamma said. At that moment "Chiquitin! How about you and Lali having something to eat? We gotta few she wished he could be just like everybody else. His grip working without being asked. being in a Lately Rudi had begun to reflect on his decision to marry such a young woman. us. they had to leave be- . don't you think so? ing to worry about. I was beginning to worry about you two!" "We should really try to speak in English.. work- Until Rudi had asked her parents for permission to court her." I mean—like that man. She was considered quite plain. Just talk natural. . "I didn't know your name was Horacio." "You igo on now. by not being afraid to try." William moved close to Lali and spoke softly to her. stinging their faces and making their eyes to say. They had little in common and certainly seldom spoke about anything ward to his presence. not looking in his direction. reacting to him for the first time that she was once more momentarily struck "Just in time. "We just talked They walked in silence for a few moments." Lali giggled." Quickly Lali turned her face. glad the strange feeling of involvement had passed. " I . His wide smile. Rudi waited. I was nervous myself!" He laughed.. ignoring him. He assured them there was no need." at Rudi's. And that's how people get ahead. saying nothing. partially cover. pleased. they had not been late once. can you imagine. Chiquitin. so imposing!" thing!" "That's right. She had accepted his marriage proposal expecting great "No. changes in her life. Ave Maria. his young wife. Lali found herself staring at William. then? A professor from a university "Mira. appear quite handsome." "No. looking for. please to watch your step!" he spoke in English. did you learn anything tonight?" Rudi asked her. and "You read very well—better than anybody in class." Lali said." In a few minutes they would be at Rudi's. thanks. out with two local boys. well"—he threw up his hands—"no one warned me either." she answered. tsk. And what So . she had only gone ing quickly. She was a professor so calm. strange country without friends or relatives. because you see. People would accuse him in jest of overworking on her elbow was firm but gentle as he led her to the sidewalk.. white teeth. knew Lali or what he might do to please her. Certainly he could not fault her for being lazy. But the age difference between her and Rudi." Lali slipped into her uniform and soon was busy at the grill. my mother was expecting a valiant warrior! "But you gotta remember. "Yes.. If I had to go first. like you. People gonna be coming in with William's physical difference. "Is something wrong?" "Later . because she had the endur- "There you are. Now it no longer mattered. hungry any minute. It was only when she saw others The small luncheonette was almost empty. You "What?" know I'm right. what about the Ameri. So far. thinking how to answer in English.. "Dios mio . you'll see. I don't think I could open my mouth. William doing the job of a porter? My goodness!" Lali sighed." too.. You caught up in no time. confused by her silent stare. "All right. struggling against the cold. William had taken no notice of it. I told you there was noth. the professor.. then tried once more. Every children with his first wife and wondered if he lacked the patience needed for evening she found herself waiting for William to come in to work.. but we accept it. dwarfishness. that's all. a large family living in a tiny mountain village. Lali's life had become less lonely." Rudi whispered. At first she had been very aware of William's Luncheonette. ance of a country mule.

"And she's good people . Tuesday meant leaving the world of Rudi. dreading this last session. Hamma finally felt that she had spent enough time assuring her students "She's hardworking . "She's good. indeed. just like anybody else. "Listen. mira." Diego Torres interrupted. It was a fine semester. But you see." Lali had been especially irritable that week. As I said." Orders were taken and quickly filled." Diego Torres said with exasperation. Several men walked in. So if she comes in. Tuesday had become their evening. She said it was OK. you know. you don't get paid. she's got all them kids? In case you people are late. For As the two men continued to argue. I say—my OK?" opinion—he don't appreciate what he got in this country. it's still early. but he was always with a group. Diego Torres and Aldo Fabrizi were engaged in a friendly but heated debate ." She pointed to a side table where a large electric warm the days were. she can cover for you and Lali. If there is anything I can do. please tell him we no the same. so there's confident. Hamma how much it means. began to chat with one another. But I still Italiano. please. helping himself to coffee. and cookies." AldO' Fabrizi called out to William. shaking hands with their fellow students and coffee and tea. Thanks. but the majority waited. 9O9 203 . He felt it too. I already spoke to Raquel Martinez who lives next door. Mr." of her sincere appreciation. "You a citizen. who were discussing how sincere and by herself." "You some lucky guy then. Small clusters formed as people . William and Lali sat with you see?" the other students listening to Mrs. helping themselves to coffee or tea and cookies. separate. But we'll get back on time. You and Lali improving yourselves." after all. Hamma. I cannot pay you and Raquel both.. proud I am of each and every one here. Pendejo. wishing each other luck. when Rudi announced that it was closing time. the luncheonette. You don't know outnumber the rest of us.. she's my wife. do The weeks passed. but you still no can vote." Some of the people said good-bye quickly and left." William continued his work." who was standing with a few people by the table.You know. Not "Mira. Puerto Rico is part of about eleven o'clock. Please turn in your books. well. Off the books. man . It was the only time he and Lali had free to "Bullshit. the United States. Mrs. Hamma had been hoping to speak to Stephan Paczkowski privately this semester for my classes. which.. pero not me. I think it's nice to have a little informal chat with one evening. I am lifted her forefinger threateningly but smiled. another. Just because you "Oh. But not the Dominican Republic where he been born. right?" Basic English course." on the merits of citizenship. "What's the matter?" "What do you think of your paisano. "He's right..." You the same like him. I am a citizen. You got it made! You don't gotta worry like the William glanced at Lali.. I made it "Listen. man? He force to themselves together. Now he offered his hand. "Sure I can vote. And I want you to know how William assured him. then the months. I got all the rights. The table was set for instant Slowly people began to leave. that you will soon be back to your profession. Hey. perhaps discuss our plans for the future and so on. This a great country! "Of course. Customers came and went steadily until William swallowed a mouthful of cookies. But it must be in "I thank you very much for your good teaching. I was born a citizen. slip away and join Lali. and without the help of the man she was dependent upon. I'll buy it for her. He be born in clear she didn't have to bother with none of that. plenty of time left. we got the same thing. Rudi. he knew she was upset. that street. devoted Mrs. coffeepot filled with hot water was steaming.. yes. "Why he got it made. He don't wanna be citizen. She helps me out during the day whenever I need William walked over to the two men. please . capito?" The door opened. do you think so? Oh. Mrs. man!" so she don't gotta worry. William waited for the right moment to her. "She said no. I'm not one to interfere. "Here they come." another part of the country. Chiquitin. "I do this every Mrs. extra help. And Sicily is part of Italy. "Thanks. don't you think you can get away with it!" Mrs. Hamma was. that she really needs it. por favor. Hamma as she taught the last lesson of the "Sure!" Aldo Fabrizi nodded." "It's been fifteen long hard weeks for all of you. kids!" "Mira"—he turned to William—"explain to him." English! Especially those of you who are Spanish-speaking. yo capita! I know what you say. you know. If she wants something. I provide for her. There it is not the United States. it's a good thing after all. but"—Rudi shrugged—"if Puerto Rico. Especially coming from a person of your caliber. But. I be born in Sicily—that is that's what she wants.. "I hope some of you will stay and have a cup of coffee or tea.. what do you think?" "Sure. I appreciate it.. "Hey. you comprendo . She was accomplishing something all She was with some of the women. and this evening. is your true calling. you come here a minute. "Dios mio!" Diego Torres smacked his forehead with an open palm. Fong joined them. I'm so glad to hear you say that. Rudi. "Now. Este tipo no comprende. you no capito nothing. I give her a few bucks. leave his country. "Capito. and they spoke about the weather and how nice and There's plenty over there. everything that she felt imprisoned her." an older woman agreed. You know that then. complete with several boxes of assorted cookies. wishing that rest of—" this was not the end of the course.

.. "I work over in the luncheonette at night." Lali answered. "Are you"—Lali tried to keep from giggling.. Padillo. "it's more advance.. then waited for Lali to say good-bye. Hamma taught us. Lali.." Mrs.Manhattan on Sixty-eighth Street in Lexington Avenue. Miss Lali. William smiled." "Oh. In September we'll be taking a more advanced course at the high school. that's just fine. swaying and limping. My." Mrs." William was laughing so hard tears were coming to his . This time I am registering in Hunter College. you now a member in good standing." oblivious to the scene they created for the people who stared and pointed at William shook hands with Mrs. It's over!" "Only for a couple of months. of course. Outside. He's a lovely person and very helpful. laughing loudly—"semester!" ." Lali shrugged." They exchanged farewells." William responded. he left. "Both of you have been such good students. part-time. Lali began to laugh. yes! You have shown such ability this"—William was beginning "Thank you. Just you wait and see." "Good-bye. "Yes. Hamma. of the promised and tossed them into the trash basket. what do you like to speak about?" Lali said in English. Over at the Washington Irving High School around Fourteenth Street. and how you gonna have the most fabulous future ." They both nodded. after all. the warm June night was sprinkled with the sweetness of the new buds sprouting on the scrawny trees and hedges planted along the sidewalks and in the housing project grounds.. so I was just." "I'll probably forget everything I learned by then. that's wonderful." Lali said. which is in to lose control. Hamma. future!" "Thank you so much. "that's that." "Come on. you so ambitious!" When she realized he sounded just like Mrs. tried to pretend to speak in ear- nest—"sure there is some hope for me?" . your husband's place of business. the summer will be over before you know it. Hamma hesitated. "Sure. "Mrs. He takes William and Lali broke into uncontrollable laughter. and clasping his hands. we are just friends. "After. A brisk breeze swept over the East River on to Houston Street. providing a freshness in the air. "May I ask you a question before you leave? It's only that I'm a little curious about something." "Wonderful. looking at William." After a slight bow. wondering. said. Hamma sighed after him. heavens. Lali. They were the last ones to leave. This time they were early. "Please. them as they continued on their way to Rudi's." "Next term we're taking another course. Very good . "I would like to say to you how wonderful you are." "Sure. and several of the women picked up the paper cups and napkins eyes. Besides. blushing. "Oh." Mrs. "Are you two related? I mean. Thank you. after all. we can practice so we don't forget what Mrs. with a course of English "But I want"—Lali was holding her sides with laughter—"some guarantee of Literature for beginners. What are your plans? I hope you will continue with your English. just wonderful! You are all just so ambitious. I got to know. you are always together and yet have different last names. care of these things. miss. and Lali and William strolled at a relaxed pace. Hamma looked at Lali.... Luis the porter will do the rest. this.. William." "Of course. "Well.