An Empire Of Women


When an old friend named Hallie Garrity went to visit him in 1950, a week before he died, he was broke and nearly blind but still sure of himself. She still felt the pull of his confidence, even though she had worked in his California office long enough to know better. Lewis had promised his buyers to plant almond trees on their land and to send them their own almonds to prove how their investment flourished. It was Hallie’s job to fish almonds from a sack in Lewis’s closet to satisfy anyone who insisted on the letter of the bargain. A few stale almonds and a florid explanation could prevent disaster, Lewis thought. On that last day Hallie saw him, he still thought so. The two sat in silence for a long time on his porch. When the old man finally spoke, she wasn’t sure exactly what he had been thinking about. It could have been anything. “Well, Hallie,” he said, “we almost made it.”