The big something falling from the floor above my grandmother’s apartment cast a sudden shadow on the window before it bumped on the cobblestones, and my grand-mother’s gouty claw reached for the little bell beyond the flowery field of playing cards she had laid out on the table for her game of patience and shook it violently. Decades of strained impatience made her movement awkward, and the thin silver sound seemed to mock her intention to reach the deaf ears of old Marie. Nevertheless, as in a vaudeville gag, the door opened instantly, and old Marie appeared, trembling with age and the suppressed contradictions of nearly fifty years of service to a most complicated family.
My grandmother majestically stretched her tortoise neck as if it still were encircled by half a dozen rows of pearls and turned her head towards the window. ‘Something fell down from the upper floor. The Jews must have put their feather beds in the windows to air or something of that kind. Go and have a look.’