“She had a tantrum. But we kept a nurse in the class, you see. And your father chose a better arrangement. He hired a bunch of sophomores from Fordham University. It was quite convenient. Fordham’s ten blocks away. The students liked to come here, and your sister received a fine education.”
“Did my father pick the tutors himself?”
“Indeed. Often he was here every other day.”
Marla couldn’t hide the shudder that leapt right through her. Every other day. She had to keep herself from asking if Daddy had his own bed at this mansion. She took out her checkbook and began to scribble a check. Mrs. Mahler seemed perplexed.
“We can’t accept money from you, Mrs. Silk.”
“A few extras,” Marla said. “In case my sister shatters one of your coffee cups.”
“But it’s forbidden.”
“Forbidden by whom?” Marla had to ask.
“Your father. He didn’t want Bunny to become a burden. He’s endowed this home, you see, and we stand to lose that endowment if the financial arrangement for his daughter has been tampered with, or compromised in any way.”
Marla began to wonder if the directress had her own law degree from Fordham. She didn’t argue. She thanked Mrs. Mahler and said she wouldn’t trouble her or Little Sister again.
But her anger turned to bile. Mortimer had shut her out, denied Marla the rights to her own little sister. She had her chauffeur drive from the Botanical Garden to the Madison Avenue offices of her father’s lawyer. She gave Martin Goodson, Esq., fifteen minutes of warning. But when Marla arrived in Goodson’s office, all the senior partners were there. Goodson was a portly man who wrote novels in his spare time. He’d never cheated Mortimer out of a nickel.
“Martin,” she said, “I’d like to see the codicil to my father’s will.”
“The will didn’t have one, Marla.”
“Then I’ll subpoena all your records. I’m Dad’s executor, not you.”
Goodson motioned to his partners, and they all left the room.
“If Daddy set up an endowment, I’m going to claim he wasn’t in his right mind. I don’t trust that shyster home in the Bronx. It smacks of a prison.”
“Marla, did you know that your mother and father once had a wolf?”
She should have been furious, with her father’s lawyer going off on some tangent like that. But it pricked her imagination. “What wolf?”
“A Siberian wolf dog with a white coat and silver eyes. They called her Princess. She was the envy of your father’s building. And she was devoted to Mort, terribly devoted. That white wolf would only eat from your father’s hand.”
A she-wolf with silver eyes on Central Park West. Marla had a horrible premonition.
“Then I was born,” she said. “And the wolf was jealous.”
“She attacked the doormen. Mort had to put her away.”
Marla had two daughters in their teens. They would text at the dinner table, text while they brushed their teeth. They loved Marla, but considered her a relic from some century without tweets. So it was futile to mention a maiden aunt.