Are the reference times same?

Faye was not bright, but she was far from stupid. She went to the sheriff and got herself cleared. There was no sense in taking chances. She knew something was wrong about Kate, but if it didn’t harm the house it really wasn’t Faye’s business. Kate might have been a chiseler, but she wasn’t. She went to work right away. And when customers come back again and again and ask for a girl by name, you know you’ve got something. A pretty face won’t do that. It was quite apparent to Faye that Kate was not learning a new trade.
There are two things it is good to know about a new girl: first, will she work? and second, will she get along with the other girls? There’s nothing will upset a house like an ill-tempered girl.
Faye didn’t have long to wonder about the second question. Kate put herself out to be pleasant. She helped the other girls keep their rooms clean. She served them when they were sick, listened to their troubles, answered them in matters of love, and as soon as she had some, loaned them money. You couldn’t want a better girl. She became
best friend to everyone in the house.
There was no trouble Kate would not take, no drudgery she was afraid of, and, in addition, she brought business. She soon had her own group of regular customers.
Kate was thoughtful too. She remembered birthdays and always had a present and a cake with candles. Faye realized she had a treasure.
People who don’t know think it is easy to be a madam-just sit in a big chair and drink beer and take half the money the girls make, they think. But it’s not like that at all. You have to feed the girls-that’s groceries and a cook. Your laundry problem is quite a bit more complicated than that of a hotel. You have to keep the girls well and as happy as possible, and some of them can get pretty ornery. You have to keep suicide at an absolute minimum, and whores, particularly the ones getting along in years, are flighty with a razor; and that gets your house a bad name.
It isn’t so easy, and if you have waste too you can lose money. When Kate offered to help with the marketing and planning of meals Faye was pleased, al-though she didn’t know when the girl found time. Well, not only did the food improve, but the grocery bills came down one-third the first month Kate took over. And the laundry-Faye didn’t know what Kate said to the man but that bill suddenly dropped twenty-five per cent. Faye
didn’t see how she ever got along without Kate.
(John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

Does the sentence mean that Kate might have been a chiseler until she came in the whorehouse, but not after she came in here? If the answer is yes, do we say reference-times are same and the event times are different?


“Kate might have been a chiseler, but she wasn’t.” doesn’t imply that Kate became a chiseler after going to the whorehouse. It means she could have been a chiseler, but she was not.

Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : apaderno

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