— 1915, The Lower East Side, New York City —
Ruthie can’t sleep for the whispering of the dolls. Hildy and Margaret are talking to each other in the dark, their voices as light and thin as paper. Even the sound of Ruthie’s heartbeat drowns them out, but if she lies very still and listens intently, she can hear what they are saying. They lie together on the night table in the little bed Ruthie made from tissue paper, high enough from the floor that they won’t try to escape.