Easy – A Swiftly Tilting Planet By Madeleine L’Engle

Dennys, already very much the doctor, had taken his stethoscope, of which he was enormously proud, and put it against Meg’s burgeoning belly, beaming with pleasure as he heard the strong heartbeat of the baby within. “You are fine, indeed.”

She returned the smile, then looked across the room to her youngest brother, Charles Wallace, and to their father, who were deep in concentration, bent over the model they were building of a tesseract: the square squared, and squared again: a construction of the dimension of time. It was a beautiful and complicated creation of steel wires and ball bearings and Lucite, parts of it revolving, parts swinging like pendulums.

Charles Wallace was small for his fifteen years; a stranger might have guessed him to be no more than twelve; but the expression in his light blue eyes as he watched his father alter one small rod on the model was mature and highly intelligent. He had been silent all day, she thought. He seldom talked much, but his silence on this Thanksgiving Day, as the approaching storm moaned around the house and clapped the shingles on the roof, was different from his usual lack of chatter.

Meg’s mother-in-law was also silent, but that was not surprising. What was surprising was that she had agreed to come to them for Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. O’Keefe must have been no more than a few years older than Mrs. Murry, but she looked like an old woman. She had lost most of her teeth, and her hair was yellowish and unkempt, and looked as if it had been cut with a blunt knife. Her habitual expression was one of resentment. Life had not been kind to her, and she was angry with the world, especially with the Murrys. They had not expected her to accept the invitation, particularly with Calvin in London. None of Calvin’s family responded to the Murrys’ friendly overtures. Calvin was, as he had explained to Meg at their first meeting, a biological sport, totally different from the rest of his family, and when he received his M.D./Ph.D. they took that as a sign that he had joined the ranks of the enemy. And Mrs. O’Keefe shared the attitude of many of the villagers that Mrs. Murry’s two earned Ph.D.s, and her experiments in the stone lab which adjoined the kitchen, did not constitute proper work. Because she had achieved considerable recognition, her puttering was tolerated, but it was not work, in the sense that keeping a clean house was work, or having a nine-to-five job in a factory or office was work.

—How could that woman have produced my husband? Meg wondered for the hundredth time, and imaged Calvin’s alert expression and open smile.—Mother says there’s more to her than meets the eye, but I haven’t seen it yet. All I know is that she doesn’t like me, or any of the family. I don’t know why she came for dinner. I wish she hadn’t.