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Francesca Soames sat on the floor of the shop, with her back to the wall, singing quietly to herself and waving a duster like a conductor. The clock in the corner ticked in time to her tune, its pendulum swinging in and out of the little window at its base. All around her, on all the walls, all the way up to the ceiling, sat different puppets with in fanciful costumes and features. Most of them were propped up in open shelves, but the expensive ones, the ones that wore gold embroidery or were carved of ebony or teak, were locked in glass cabinets. A few minutes ago Francesca had locked the front door and closed the shop for the day. Since morning heavy rain had fallen, at times so hard that the shop window became blurred. Not a single customer had entered all day.

She knew the names of all the puppets by now; Uncle Barnus had made sure of that. Uncle Barnus believed that when you ran a business out of love then it was important to become familiar with every detail of the operation. Francesca had helped Uncle Barnaby in the puppet shop since she was a little girl. The puppets were like quiet friends who sat with her on days like this, watching the front door for customers, waiting for the bell above the door to ring.

She stood up with the duster and, singing louder, imagined she was dancing at the club downtown. She went there once a week with her friends and was quite a good dancer. Bobbing her head to the rhythm she spun around and brushed the duster over the top of the cash register, pretending to be cleaning the store. She jumped up and raised her arm, when suddenly she noticed someone standing in the window of the front door. The person appeared so suddenly that she froze, flustered. She stood staring at the front door.

Their eyes met. It was a young man wearing a baseball cap and a wet jeans jacket. He had an attractive face, with dark eyes and long, blonde hair. Suddenly he turned away.

Francesca dropped behind the counter and huddled against the wall, her heart pounding. “Who was that?” she whispered.

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1) duster –  はたき
2) conductor – 音楽の指揮者
3) tick – カチカチと鳴る
4) in time to – リズムに合わせて
5) tune – 歌
6) pendulum – 振り子
7) swing – 揺れ動く
8) base – 台
9) ceiling – 天井
10) fanciful – 気まぐれな
11) costumes – 衣装
12) features – 特徴
13) prop up – 〜をもたせかける
14) expensive – 高い
15) embroidery – 刺繍
16) ebony – コクタン(高級家具・器具用の木材)
17) teak – チーク材(造船・家具などに使う硬い木材)
18) cabinet – 陳列棚
19) blur – ぼやけさせる
20) make sure of (that) – 確かめる
21) out of love – を愛する気持ちから
22) familiar with – 精通する
23) bob – うなずく
24) spin around – くるっと回る
25) brush – さっと触れる
26) raise – 上げる
28) freeze – くぎ付けになる
29) fluster – 動揺する
30) stare – じっと見る
31) eyes meet – 目を合わせる
32) attractive – 魅力的な
33) drop – 素早くしゃがむ
34) huddle – 身を丸める
35) pound – どんどんと打つ
36) whisper – ささやく