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Just Morgan

Just Morgan

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Just Morgan

2/5 (1 évaluation)
182 pages
2 heures
Jan 6, 2015


“The right thing never just happens; you have to make it happen.”

Morgan knows her parents left her in boarding school so they could travel the world, which is why hardly anything changes when they’re killed in an accident during her freshman year at Fairfield. But every orphan needs a guardian, and Morgan’s is her uncle Tom, a famous and somewhat eccentric author.

Tom’s New York City apartment has plenty of space for Morgan, and her room is the nicest one she’s ever seen, but her uncle, uncomfortable suddenly raising a fourteen-year-old girl, seems distant and preoccupied. Alone in an unfamiliar world, Morgan imagines what her school roommate, the popular and sarcastic Trinck, would think of everything. Would she approve of Morgan’s newly discovered love of reading or the friends she makes in New York? Slowly, Morgan makes a place for herself that is all her own and reflects on the person she is becoming—whether Trinck would like it or not.
Jan 6, 2015

À propos de l'auteur

Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times best-selling novel Life As We Knew It, which was nominated for several state awards, and its companion books, The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon. She lives in Middletown, New York.

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Just Morgan - Susan Beth Pfeffer



My parents died in early May of my ninth-grade year at Fairfield. I was called into the headmistress’s office that afternoon, without knowing why. Mrs. Baines told me herself, interspersing it with my poor child and my dear Morgan, which struck me as being even odder than the news. I felt nothing at the time, not even fear at what was to become of me; I suppose it was because their deaths were so unexpected. It had been in an accident of some sort, while they were in Rome. Mrs. Baines didn’t have all the details, and I never chose to ask anybody, so I still don’t know exactly what happened. While I sat there trying to understand everything, with Mrs. Baines offering me smelling salts and some aspirin (I think she was disappointed at my lack of histrionics), my uncle called the school to find out whether I would be able to miss a few days for the funeral. Certainly, certainly, the headmistress clucked. Their bodies, it seemed, were being flown in, and the funeral would be that Saturday. I asked if it would be all right for me to finish out that week in school before going to New York, and staring at me Mrs. Baines whispered something to my uncle about my being in a state of shock. It was decided therefore that I would leave the next day for New York by train and that either my uncle or his secretary, or both, would be at the station to pick me up. Mrs. Baines assured me that I did not have to return to classes that day; instead, she recommended, I should go back to my room and try to sleep. If I wanted to speak to a minister of my faith, she said, she would call one up. I thanked her, said it wasn’t necessary, thanked her again, and walked the distance to my room, with my thoughts alternating between Dead? and What about the history test on Friday?

Sitting on my bed, torn between the desire to tell my roommate, who was in class, what had happened, and a sense of guilt that all I felt was the desire to tell her, I was hit by the enormity of my parents’ death for the first time. I was an orphan. The school had a number of them and they all seemed perfectly normal and happy, so I couldn’t see worrying about a life filled with doom and despair. Nor could I really mourn my parents’ death the way Mrs. Baines had expected me to. For one thing, I scarcely knew them. During the school year I went to Fairfield, and in the summers I was sent to different camps. My encounters with Mother and Father had occurred mostly during winter recesses, when I would fly to wherever they were located that year, or, less frequently, they would fly to America and I would join them in New York. Such visits were more embarrassing than anything else, with my parents showering me with useless gifts and loosely aimed kisses on my cheeks, and me reciprocating with handmade Christmas cards I had knocked off one period in Creative Arts, that generally started off Joyeux Noël and ended up with Love, Morgan since I assumed it was expected of me to say it. They made a great fuss about showing off the cards at all the parties they went to, much to my embarrassment, and those friends of theirs that I met nearly always came up to me saying, So you’re the little girl who made that fine Christmas card for your mommy and daddy. I hated their friends and their parties and the visits, and if I didn’t hate them it was only because I saw them so little. Other than that, our exchanges were by mail, or very infrequently by transatlantic phone calls, on ceremonial occasions like my birthday. I didn’t think I would miss them very much.

There was more to being an orphan than simply not having parents though; the orphans at school all had guardians of one sort or another. Most were relatives of theirs, but one girl, I had heard, was the ward of some large Boston bank. I hoped that that would not be my fate, and I giggled slightly at the thought of sending the Bank of America one of my Christmas cards. Since my uncle had called, I assumed he would be my guardian. He was my closest living relative, and I doubted that my parents would have thought to name anyone else for the position. I tried to remember everything I knew about him, to see what sort of a guardian he would be.

He was my father’s brother, older or younger I did not know, and his name was Thomas Goodstone. Everybody I ever met asked if I was related to him, his fame as a novelist being quite widespread. He had started out as an actor, given it up for some reason, and started writing instead. During the course of his career he had written five novels and two or three volumes of short stories, winning innumerable awards as he wrote. He was the sort of writer who attracted immense amounts of publicity; he was always being seen with some movie star or another, and in a way he was a star himself. The only newspaper allowed at school was the New York Times, and it tended not to print the various scandals that my uncle got himself into, but I managed to hear about a number of them anyway, since any bit of gossip about him was relayed to me by those girls who knew we were related. He had one son and had been married three times. His son lived with his mother, which didn’t say much for his abilities as a parent. That was pretty scary. I had never met him, or if I had it had been many, many years before, and the pictures that I had seen of him were pretty fuzzy, which meant he would have to recognize me at the station. I certainly was not about to go up to every strange man I saw and ask him if he were my uncle. Not that it was likely he would show. He said he might send his secretary, I thought bitterly. What did he care anyway? The last thing he’d want on his hands was some strange fourteen-year-old kid interfering with his fun. Probably send me off to camp just as my parents had, and he wouldn’t even want to see me at Christmastime. I had heard how dismal Christmases spent at school were, with everybody pretending they were glad not to be stuck at home with their parents, and secretly wishing they had the kind of family that had old-fashioned snowy firtreed Christmases with eggnog and mistletoe and carol singing. As bad as my Christmases had been, the ones at school were probably worse. Suddenly I deeply resented this strange uncle who was making my life even more miserable than it had previously been. I’d show him, I resolved, as my roommate Trinck walked in.

I heard, she announced. Gosh I’m sorry.

What? Oh … look, it’s okay. I’m going to my uncle’s tomorrow.

Yeah? Hey, get his autograph for me. Say, what are you going to do about the history test?

I don’t know. Do you think she might let me miss it altogether? You know, emotional strain?

You can try, Trinck said, and started talking nonstop about what everyone had said when they heard the news. Then we got onto something else and pretty soon I felt almost normal again.


A man and a woman walked up to me the next day as I entered the main waiting room at Penn Station. Morgan? the man asked. I nodded. I’m your uncle, he said, and this is Maud, my secretary. He took my arm rather gingerly and led us off to get my luggage and a taxi back to his apartment. The ride there was filled mostly with silence, interrupted occasionally by polite questions and responses about my train trip in. I used the opportunity to look at my uncle, and sensed that he was looking at me in return.

He seemed to be about forty or forty-five, thin, with horn-rimmed glasses that kept slipping down his nose. He had a beard, but that was not enough to make him look like either a world famous novelist or a world famous adventurer. I decided there was probably no truth to those stories I had heard; he simply did not look the type. Maud was an attractive woman of about thirty, and she did most of the questioning. My uncle sat there, lost in his thoughts. He cleared his throat as though to say something, and both Maud and I jumped, but all he did was inform the cabdriver where he should let us out. A doorman opened the door for us, and we entered the apartment building. An elevator took us up to the twenty-fifth floor; we got out and entered a beautiful apartment with a panoramic view of Central Park and the city. The apartment itself was sort of sloppy, not at all in keeping with the neighborhood. The most outstanding piece of furniture was a much used baby grand that stood alone in one corner.

My uncle turned to me. Maud will show you where to put your things. If you need anything, just let me know.

Thank you, I said, then paused as I wildly realized I had no idea what to call him. I couldn’t call him Mr. Goodstone, since that was my last name, and Uncle Thomas sounded far too formal. I settled for sir, which I added lamely.

Look, he said, and stared me straight in the eye. I’m sorry about all this, about everything. It’s all rotten. He walked out, taking long rapid steps which were muffled by the carpet underneath.

Maud turned to me and smiled. Your uncle is a very shy man, she said. He’s been worried all day about what to say to you. He really cares, you know, she continued as we made our way through some rooms. You’ll never have to worry about anything. He’s really quite nice in a rough sort of way, but he takes some adjusting to. This is your room.

It too was beautiful, modern and luxurious, with its own bathroom and television set and even its own phone. It seemed friendlier than any hotel room I had ever been in, and there was simply no comparison between it and my room at school. I hope you like it, Maud said, with undue modesty. It’s yours from now on.

It’s great, I replied. But are you sure that … my uncle doesn’t mind this. He didn’t look too happy about it.

He’s very upset about your parents, Maud answered softly. Upset for them, upset for you and upset for himself. And he just doesn’t know what to say. But don’t ever think he doesn’t care about you or realize the responsibility he has to you. You’ll see. He’s really a very nice man.

I was beginning to distrust her opinion of my uncle. If he was such a nice man, why did she find it necessary to repeat it so often? Instead of asking her, I said that I’d like to take a bath, and she left, smiling reassuringly as she went.

Until Saturday, I didn’t really speak to either of them too much. My uncle was very busy making arrangements for the funeral, consulting with lawyers about my legal status, and generally clearing up any problems that might have arisen. Maud was helping him, and the two of them seemed perfectly willing to have as little to do with me as possible. I pretended to be feeling sad, partly so that they would leave me alone, and explored the apartment in an effort to figure out what sort of man my uncle really was. About all that was readily discernible was his love for books; he had thousands of them stashed onto shelves, falling over in piles, cluttering up coffee tables and even chairs. There were books everywhere, and although one room had obviously been set aside as a library, there simply was not enough shelf space there to contain them all. Nor did he seem to be restraining himself from buying them until he got more room; there were boxes full of books waiting to be unpacked and new packages arrived each day. The books were about everything, or so it seemed, although certain types dominated. There were novels and plays and books of criticism; there were biographies and histories; there were books about music and movies and even baseball. There were dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, twelve years’ worth of Who’s Who in America. There were books of poetry and psychology and pornography, which of course I looked at, to have something to tell everybody about at school. There were more books there it seemed than there were at the school library or even the library in town. I had never imagined that anybody could care that much about reading, especially not a man who had such a reputation for worldliness. Of course there were other things in the apartment: records and televisions, paintings and photographs. But it was the books that dominated everything, that were the controlling forces behind it all.

For two days I called my uncle sir those rare times that I had to call him anything. Finally Thursday evening at dinner (strained, awkward affairs with Maud making empty talk to either or both of us, and my uncle and me responding monosyllabically), I brought the subject up.

My uncle seemed genuinely surprised by the question. I never thought about it, he

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