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fromabagofcandyonthestreetwhilearingofhungrychildrenwatchedher.Isawthose
childrenlookingatherandcryingintheirhearts.Andwhenshecouldn'teatanymore,she
threwtherestdownthesewerratherthangiveittothem.Ah,no,itisn'tthemoneyalone.The
McGarritygirlwearsadifferenthairboweachdayandtheycostfiftycentsapieceandthat
wouldfeedthefourofushereforoneday.Butherhairisthinandpalered.MyNeeleyhasabig
holeinhiszitfulcapandit'sstretchedoutofshapebuthehasthick,deepgoldenhairthatcurls.
MyFranciewearsnohairbowbutherhairislongandshining.Canmoneybuythingslikethat?
No.Thatmeanstheremustbesomethingbiggerthanmoney.MissJacksonteachesatthe
SettlementHouseandshehasnomoney.Sheworksforcharity.Shelivesinalittleroomthere
onthetopfloor.Sheonlyhastheonedressbutshekeepsitcleanandpressed.Hereyeslook
straightintoyourswhenyoutalkwithher.Whenyoulistentoher,it'slikeyouusedtobesick
buthearinghervoice,it'smakingyouwellagain.Sheknowsaboutthings-MissJackson.She
understandsaboutthings.Shecanliveinthemiddleofadirtyneighborhoodandbefineand
cleanandlikeanactressinaplay;someoneyoucanlookatbutwhoistoofinetotouch.There
isthatdifferencebetweenherandMrs.McGarritywhohassomuchmoneybutistoofatand
actsinadirtywaywiththetruckdriverswhodeliverherhusband'sbeer.Sowhatisthis
differencebetweenherandthisMissJacksonwhohasnomoney?"
AnanswercametoKatie.Itwassosimplethataflashofastonishmentthatfeltlikepainshot
throughherhead.Education!Thatwasit!Itwaseducationthatmadethedifference!Education
wouldpullthemoutofthegrimeanddirt.Proof?Miss'Jacksonwaseducated,theMcGarrity
wasn't.Ah!That'swhatMaryRommely,hermotherhadbeentellingherallthoseyears.Only
hermotherdidnothavetheoneclearword:education!
Watchingthechildrenstrugglingupthestairswiththeirtree,listeningtotheirvoices,stillso
baby-like,shegottheseideasabouteducation.
"Francieissmart,"shethought."ShemustgotoHighSchoolandmaybebeyondthat.She'sa
learnerandshe'llbesomebodysomeday.Butwhenshegetseducated,shewillgrowaway
fromme.Why,she'sgrowingawayfrommenow.Shedoesnotlovemethewaytheboyloves
me.Ifeelherturnawayfromme.Shedoesnotunderstandme.AllsheunderstandsisthatI
don'tunderstandher.Maybewhenshegetseducation,shewillbeashamedofme-thewayI
talk.Butshewillhavetoomuchcharactertoshowit.Insteadshewilltrytomakemedifferent.
ShewillcometoseemeandtrytomakemeliveinabetterwayandIwillbemeantoher
becauseI'llknowshe'saboveme.Shewillfigureouttoomuchaboutthingsasshegrowsolder;
she'llgettoknowtoomuchforherownhappiness.She'llfindoutthatIdon'tloveherasmuch
asIlovetheboy.Icannothelpitthatthisisso.Butshewon'tunderstandthat.SometimesI
thinksheknowsthatnow.Alreadysheisgrowingawayfromme;shewillfighttogetawaysoon.
Changingovertothatfar-awayschoolwasthefirststepinhergettingawayfromme.But
Neeleywillneverleaveme,thatiswhyIlovehimbest.Hewillclingtomeandunderstandme.I
wanthimtobeadoctor.He
must
beadoctor.Maybehewillplaythefiddle,too.Thereismusic
inhim.Hegotthatfromhisfather.HehasgonefurtheronthepianothanFrancieorme.Yes,
hisfatherhasthemusicinhimbutitdoeshimnogood.Itisruininghim.Ifhecouldn'tsing,
thosemenwhotreathimtodrinkswouldn'twanthimaround.Whatgoodisthefinewayhecan
singwhenitdoesn'tmakehimorusanybetter?Withtheboy,itwillbedifferent.He'llbe
educated.Imustthinkoutways.We'llnothaveJohnnywithuslong.DearGod,Ilovedhimso
muchonce-andsometimesIstilldo.Buthe'sworthless...worthless.AndGodforgivemefor
everfindingitout."
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ThusKatiefiguredouteverythinginthemomentsittookthemtoclimbthestairs.Peoplelooking
upather-athersmoothprettyvivaciousface-hadnowayofknowingaboutthepainfully
articulatedresolvesformulatinginhermind.
Theysetthetreeupinthefrontroomafterspreadingasheettoprotectthecarpetofpinkroses
fromfallingpineneedles.Thetreestoodinabigtinbucketwithbrokenbrickstoholditupright.
Whentheropewascutaway,thebranchesspreadouttofillthewholeroom.Theydrapedover
thepianoanditwassothatsomeofthechairsstoodamongthebranches.Therewasno
moneytobuytreedecorationsorlights.Butthegreattreestandingtherewasenough.The
roomwascold.Itwasapooryear,thatone-toopoorforthemtobuytheextracoalforthefront
roomstove.Theroomsmelledcoldandcleanandaromatic.Everyday,duringtheweekthe
treestoodthere,Francieputonhersweaterandzitfulcapandwentinandsatunderthetree.
Shesatthereandenjoyedthesmellandthedarkgreennessofit.
Oh,themysteryofagreattree,aprisonerinatinwashbucketinatenementfrontroom!
Poorastheywerethatyear,itwasaveryniceChristmasandthechildrendidnotlackforgifts.
Mamagaveeachofthemapairoflongwoolendrawers,dropseatstyle,andawoolenshirtwith
longsleevesanditchyinsides.AuntEvygavethemajointpresent;aboxofdominoes.Papa
showedthemhowtoplay.Neeleydidn'tlikethegamesopapaandFrancieplayedtogetherand
hepretendedtobedisgustedwhenhelost.
GranmaMaryRommelybroughtoversomethingverynicethatshehadmadeherself.She
broughteachascapular.Tomakeit,shecutouttwosmallovalsofbrightredwool.Onone,she
embroideredacrossofbrightblueyarnandontheother,agoldenheartcrownedwithbrown
thorns.Ablackdaggerwentthroughtheheartandtwodropsofdeepredblooddrippedfromthe
daggerpoint.Thecrossandheartwereverytinyandmadewithmicroscopicstitches.Thetwo
ovalswerestitchedtogetherandattachedtoapieceofcorsetstring.MaryRommelyhadtaken
thescapularstobeblessedby thepriestbeforeshebroughtthemover.Assheslippedthe
scapularoverFrancie'shead,shesaid"
HieligesWeihnachten
."Thensheadded,"Mayyou
walkwiththeangelsalways."
AuntSissygaveFrancieatinypackage.Sheopeneditandfoundatinymatchbox.Itwasvery
fragileandcoveredwithcrinklypaperwithaminiaturesprayofpurplewisteriapaintedonthe
top.Franciepushedtheboxopen.Itheldtendiscsindividuallywrappedinpinktissue.The
discsturnedouttobebrightgoldenpennies.Sissyexplainedthatshehadboughtabitofgold
paintpowder,mixeditwithafewdropsofbananaoilandhadgildedeachpenny.Francieloved
Sissy'spresentthebestofall.Adozentimeswithinthehourofreceivingit,sheslidopenthe
boxslowlygaininggreatpleasurefromholdingtheboxandlookingatitandwatchingthecobalt
bluepaperandthecleanwafer-thinwoodoftheinsideoftheboxappear.Thegoldenpennies
wrappedinthedreamliketissuewereanever-tiringmiracle.Everyoneagreedthatthepennies
weretoobeautifultobespent.Duringtheday,Francielosttwoofherpenniessomewhere.
Mamasuggestedthey'dbesafestinthetin-canbank.ShepromisedthatFranciecouldhave
thembackwhenthebankwasopened.Franciewassurethatmamawasrightaboutthe
penniesbeingsafestinthebank,yetitwasawrenchtoletthosegoldenpenniesdropdowninto
thedarkness.
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PapahadaspecialpresentforFrancie.Itwasapostcardwithachurchonit.Powdered
isinglasswaspastedontheroofanditglistenedmorebrightlythanrealsnow.Thechurch
windowpanesweremadeoftinysquaresofshinyorangepaper.Themagicinthiscardwas
thatwhenFranciehelditup,lightstreamedthroughthepaperpanesandthrewgolden
shadowsontheglisteningsnow.Itwasabeautifulthing.Mamasaidthatsinceitwasn'twritten
on,Franciecouldsaveitfornextyearandmailittosomeone.
"Ohno,"saidFrancie.Sheputbothhandsoverthecardandheldittoherchest.
Mamalaughed."Youmustlearntotakeajoke,Francie,otherwiselifewillbeprettyhardon
you."
"Christmasisnodayforlessons,"saidpapa.
"Butitisadayforgettingdrunk,isn'tit,"sheflaredup.
"TwodrinksisallIhad,Katie,"Johnnypleaded."IwastreatedforChristmas."
Franciewentintothebedroomandshutthedoor.Shecouldn'tbeartohearmamascolding
papa.
Justbeforesupper,Franciedistributedthegiftsshehadforthem.Shehadahatpinholderfor
mama.ShehadmadeitwithapennytesttubeboughtatKnipe'sdrugstore.Shehadcoveredit
withasheathofbluesatinribbonruffledatthesides.Alengthofbabyribbonwassewntothe
top.Itwasmeanttohangonthesideofthedresserandholdhatpins.
Shehadawatchfobforpapa.Shehadmadeitonaspoolwhichhadfournailsdrivenintothe
top.Ittooktwoshoelaces.Thesewereworkedoverandaroundthenailsandathickbraided
fobkeptgrowingoutofthebottomofthespoolassheworkedit.Johnnyhadnowatchbuthe
tookanironfaucetwasher,attachedthefobtoitandworeitinhisvestpocketallday
pretendingitwasawatch.FranciehadaveryfinepresentforNeeley:afive-centshooterwhich
lookedlikeanoversizeopalratherthanamarble.Neeleyhadaboxfulof"miggies,"smallbrown
andbluespeckledmarblesmadeofclaywhichcostapennyfortwenty.Buthehadnogood
shooterandcouldn'tgetintoanyimportantgames.Franciewatchedhimashecrookedhis
forefingerandcradledthemarbleinitwithhisthumbbehindit.Itlookedniceandnaturalthat
wayandshewasgladshehadgotitforhimratherthanthenickelpop-gunshehadfirstthought
ofbuying.
Neeleyshovedthemarbleinhispocketandannouncedthathehadpresents,too.Heraninto
thebedroom,crawledunderhiscotandcameoutwithastickybag.Hethrustitatmama,
saying"
You
sharethemout."Hestoodinacorner.Mamaopenedthebag.Therewasastriped
candycaneforeachone.Mamawentintoecstasies.Shesaiditwastheprettiestpresentshe
hadeverhad.ShekissedNeeleythreetimes.Francietriedveryhardnottobejealousbecause
mamamademorefussoverNeeley'spresentthanhers.
ItwasinthatsameweekthatFrancietoldanothergreatlie.AuntEvybroughtovertwotickets.
SomeProtestantorganizationwasgivingacelebrationforthepoorofallfaiths.Therewouldbe
adecoratedChristmastreeonthestage,aChristmasplay,carolsingingandagiftforeach
child.Katiecouldn'tseeit-CatholicchildrenataProtestantparty.Evyurgedtolerance.Mama
finallygaveinandFrancieandNeeleywenttotheparty.
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Itwasinalargeauditorium.Theboyssatononesideandthegirlsontheother.Thecelebration
wasfineexceptthattheplaywasreligiousanddull.Aftertheplay,churchladieswentdownthe
aisleandgaveeachchildagift.Allthegirlsgotcheckerboardsandalltheboysgotlottogames.
Afteralittlemoresinging,aladycameoutonthestageandannouncedaspecialsurprise.
Thesurprisewasalovelylittlegirl,exquisitelydressed,whocamefromthewingscarryinga
beautifuldoll.Thedollwasafoothigh,hadrealyellowhairandblueeyesthatopenedandshut
withrealeyelashes.Theladyledthechildforwardandmadeaspeech.
"ThislittlegirlisnamedMary."LittleMarysmiledandbowed.Thelittlegirlsintheaudience
smiledupatherandsomeoftheboyswhowereapproachingadolescencewhistledshrilly.
"Mary'smotherboughtthisdollandhadclothesmadeforitjustliketheclotheslittleMaryis
wearing."
LittleMarysteppedforwardandheldthedollhighintheair.Thenshelettheladyholditwhile
shespreadherskirtandmadeacurtsey.Itwastrue,sawFrancie.Thedoll'slace-trimmedblue
silkdress,pinkhairbow,blackpatentleatherslippersandwhitesilksocksduplicatedexactly
theclothesofthebeautifulMary.
"Now,"saidthelady,"thisdollisnamedMaryafterthekindlittlegirlwhoisgivingheraway."
Againthelittlegirlsmiledgraciously."Marywantstogivethedolltosomepoorlittlegirlinthe
audiencewhoisnamedMary."Likewindongrowingcorn,aripplingmurmurcamefromallthe
littlegirlsintheaudience."IsthereanypoorlittlegirlintheaudiencenamedMary?"
Therewasagreathush.TherewereatleastahundredMarysinthataudience.Itwasthat
adjective"poor"thatstruckthemdumb.NoMarywouldstandup,nomatterhowmuchshe
wantedthedoll,andbeasymbolofallthepoorlittlegirlsintheaudience.Theybegan
whisperingtoeachotherthattheyweren'tpoorandhadbetterdollshomeandbetterclothes
thanthatgirl,too,onlytheydidn'tfeellikewearingthem.Franciesatnumb,longingforthatdoll
withallhersoul.
"What?"saidthelady."NoMarys?"Shewaitedandmadeherannouncementagain.No
response.Shespokeregretfully."ToobadtherearenoMarys.LittleMarywillhavetotakethe
dollhomeagain."Thelittlegirlsmiledandbowedandturnedtoleavethestagewiththedoll.
Franciecouldn'tstandit,shecouldn'tstandit.Itwaslikewhentheteacherwasgoingtothrow
thepumpkinpieinthewastebasket.Shestoodupandheldherhandhighintheair.Thelady
sawitandstoppedthelittlegirlfromleavingthestage.
"Ah!WedohaveaMary,averybashfulMarybutaMaryjustthesame.Comerightuponthe
stage,Mary."
Feverishwithembarrassment,Franciewalkedupthelongaisleandontothestage.She
stumbledonthestepsandallthegirlssnickeredandtheboysguffawed.
"Whatisyourname?"askedthelady.
"MaryFrancesNolan,"whisperedFrancie.
"Louder.Andlookattheaudience."
Miserably,Franciefacedtheaudienceandsaidloudly,"MaryFrancesNolan."Allthefaces
lookedlikebloatedballoonsonthickstrings.Shethoughtthatifshekeptonlooking,thefaces
wouldfloatawayuptotheceiling.
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ThebeautifulgirlcameforwardandputthedollinFrancie'sarms.Francie'sarmstookanatural
curvearoundit.Itwasasifherarmshadwaitedandgrownsojustforthatdoll.Thebeautiful
MaryextendedherhandforFrancietoshake.Inspiteofembarrassmentandconfusion,
Francienoticedthedelicatewhitehandwiththetraceryofpaleblueveinsandtheovalnailsthat
glowedlikedelicatepinkseashells.
TheladytalkedasFranciebackedawkwardlytoherseat.Shesaid:"Youhaveallseenan
exampleofthetrueChristmasspirit.LittleMaryisaveryrichlittlegirlandreceivedmany
beautifuldollsforChristmas.Butshewasnotselfish.ShewantedtomakesomepoorlittleMary,
whoisnotasfortunateasherself,happy.Soshegavethedolltothatpoorlittlegirlwhois
namedMary,too."
Francie'seyessmartedwithhottears."Whycan'tthey,"shethoughtbitterly,"justgivethedoll
awaywithoutsayingIampoorandsheisrich?Whycouldn'ttheyjustgiveitawaywithoutall
thetalkingaboutit?"
ThatwasnotallofFrancie'sshame.Asshewalkeddowntheaisle,thegirlsleanedtowardsher
andwhisperedhissingly,"Beggar,beggar,beggar."
Itwasbeggar,beggar,beggar,allthewaydowntheaisle.ThosegirlsfeltricherthanFrancie.
Theywereaspoorasshebuttheyhadsomethingshelacked-pride.AndFrancieknewit.She
hadnocompunctionsaboutthelieandgettingthedollunderfalsepretenses.Shewaspaying
forthelieandforthedollbygivingupherpride.
Sherememberedtheteacherwhohadtoldhertowriteherliesinsteadofspeakingthem.
Maybesheshouldn'thavegoneupforthedollbutshouldhavewrittenastoryaboutitinstead.
Butno!No!
Having
thedollwasbetterthananystoryabouthavingadoll.Whentheystoodto
sing.the"Star-spangledBanner"inclosing,Francieputherfacedownclosetothedoll'sface.
Therewasthecooldelicatesmellofpaintedchina,thewonderfulunforgettablesmellofadoll's
hair,theheavenlyfeelofnewgauzedoll'sclothes.Thedoll'srealeyelashestouchedhercheek
andshetrembledinecstasy.Thechildrenweresinging:
O'erthelandofthefree,
Andthehomeofthebrave.
Francieheldoneofthedoll'stinyhandstightly.Anerveinherthumbthrobbedandshethought
thedoll'shandtwitched.Shealmostbelievedthedollwasreal.
Shetoldmamathedollhadbeengiventoherasaprize.Shedarednottellthetruth.Mama
hatedanythingthatsmackedofcharityandifsheknew,she'dthrowthedollaway.Neeleydidn't
snitchonher.Francienowownedthedollbuthadyetanotherlieonhersoul.Thatafternoon
shewroteastoryaboutalittlegirlwhowantedadollsomuchthatshewaswillingtogiveover
herimmortalsoultoPurgatoryforeternityifshecouldhavethedoll.Itwasastrongstorybut
whenFranciereaditover,shethought,"that'sallrightforthegirlinthestorybutitdoesn'tmake
mefeelanybetter."
ShethoughtoftheconfessionshewouldhavetomakethenextSaturday.Sheresolvedthatno
matterwhatpenanceFathergaveher,shewouldtripleitvoluntarily.Stillshefeltnobetter.
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Thensherememberedsomething!Maybeshecouldmakethelieatruth!Sheknewthatwhen
CatholicchildrenreceivedConfirmation,theywereexpectedtotakesomesaint'snamefora
middlename.Whatasimplesolution!ShewouldtakethenameofMarywhenshewas
confirmed.
Thatnight,afterthepagefromtheBibleandthepagefromShakespearehadbeenread,
Francieconsultedmama.
"Mama,whenImakemyConfirmation,canItakeMaryforamiddlename?"
"No."
Francie'sheartsunk."Why?"
"Becausewhenyouwerechristened,youwerenamedFrancieafterAndy'sgirl."
"Iknow."
"ButyouwerealsonamedMaryaftermymother.YourrealnameisMaryFrancesNolan."
Francietookthedolltobedwithher.Shelayverystillsoasnottodisturbit.Shewokeupfrom
timetotimeinthenightandwhispered"Mary"andtouchedthedoll'sinfinitesimalslipperwitha
lightfinger.Shetrembledatfeelingthethinsoftbitofsmoothleather.
Itwastobeherfirstandherlastdoll.
XXVIII
THEfuturewasanearthingtoKatie.Shehadawayofsaying,"Christmaswillbeherebefore
youknowit."Or,atthebeginningofvacation,"Schoolwillbestartingupbeforeyouknowit."In
thespringwhenFranciediscardedherlongdrawersandjoyouslyflungthemaway,mama
madeherpickthemupagainsaying,"You'llneedthemsoonenoughagain.Winterwillbehere
beforeyouknowit."Whatwasmamatalkingabout?Springhadjuststarted.Thewinterwould
nevercomeagain.
Asmallchildhaslittleideaofthefuture.Nextweekisasfaraheadashisfuturestretchesand
theyearbetweenChristmasandChristmasagainisaneternity.SotimewaswithFrancieup
untilhereleventhyear.
Betweenhereleventhandtwelfthbirthday,thingschanged.Thefuturecamealongquicker;the
daysseemedshorterandtheweeksseemedtohavelessdaysinthem.HennyGaddisdied
andthishadsomethingtodowithit.ShehadalwaysheardthatHennywasgoingtodie.She
heardaboutitsomuchthatshefinallygottobelievehewoulddie.Butthatwouldbealong,
longtimeaway.Nowthelongtimehadcome.Thesomethingwhichhadbeenafuturewasnow
apresentandwouldbecomeapast.Franciewonderedwhethersomeonehadtodietomake
thatcleartoachild.Butno,GrandfatherRommelyhaddiedwhenshewasnine,aweekafter
shemadeherfirstCommunionandassheremembered,Christmasstillhadseemedfaraway
atthattime.
ThingswerechangingsofastforFrancienow,thatshegotmixedup.Neeleywhowasayear
youngerthanshe,grewsuddenlyandgottobeaheadtaller.MaudieDonavanmovedaway.
Whenshereturnedonavisitthreemonthslater,Franciefoundherdifferent.Maudiehad
developedinawomanlywayduringthosethreemonths.
Francie,whoknewmamawasalwaysright,foundoutthatshewaswrongonceinawhile.She
discoveredthatsomeofthethingsshelovedsomuchinherfatherwereconsideredvery
comicaltootherpeople.Thescalesattheteastoredidnotshinesobrightlyanymoreandshe
foundthebinswerechippedandshabbylooking.
ShestoppedwatchingforMr.TomonytocomehomeonSaturdaynightsfromhisNewYork
jaunts.AllofasuddenshethoughtitwassillythathelivedsoandwenttoNewYorkandcame
homelongingforwherehehadbeen.Hehadmoney.Whydidn'thejustgoovertoNewYork
andlivethereifhelikeditsomuch?
Everythingwaschanging.Franciewasinapanic.Herworldwasslippingawayfromherand
whatwouldtakeitsplace?
Still,whatwasdifferentanyhow?
ShereadapagefromtheBible
andShakespeareeverynightthesameasalways.Shepracticedthepianoeverydayforan
hour.Sheputpenniesinthetin-canbank.Thejunkshopwasstillthere;thestoreswereallthe
same.Nothingwaschanging.
Shewastheonewhowaschanging
.
Shetoldpapaaboutit.Hemadeherstickouthertongueandhefeltherwrist.Heshookhis
headsadlyandsaid,
"Youhaveabadcase,averybadcase."
"Ofwhat?"
"Growingup."
Growingupspoiledalotofthings.Itspoiledthenicegametheyhadwhentherewasnothingto
eatinthehouse.Whenmoneygaveoutandfoodranlow,Katieandthechildrenpretended
theywereexplorersdiscoveringtheNorthPoleandhadbeentrappedby ablizzardinacave
withjustalittlefood.Theyhadtomakeitlasttillhelpcame.Mamadividedupwhatfoodthere
wasinthecupboardandcalleditrationsandwhenthechildrenwerestillhungryafterameal,
she'dsay,"Courage,mymen,helpwillcomesoon."Whensomemoneycameinandmama
boughtalotofgroceries,sheboughtalittlecakeascelebration,andshe'dstickapennyflagin
itandsay,"Wemadeit,men.WegottotheNorthPole."
Onedayafteroneofthose"rescues"Francieaskedmama:
"Whenexplorersgethungryandsufferlikethat,it'sfora
reason
.Somethingbigcomesoutofit.
TheydiscovertheNorthPole.Butwhatbigthingcomesoutofusbeinghungrylikethat?"
Katielookedtiredallofasudden.ShesaidsomethingFranciedidn'tunderstandatthetime.
Shesaid,"Youfoundthecatchinit."
GrowingupspoiledthetheaterforFrancie-well,notthetheaterexactly,buttheplays.She
foundshewasbecomingdissatisfiedwiththewaythingsjusthappenedinthenickoftime.
Francielovedthetheaterdearly.Shehadoncewantedtobeahand-organlady,thenaschool
teacher.AfterherfirstCommunion,shewantedtobeanun.Ateleven,shewantedtobean
actress.
IftheWilliamsburgkidsknewnothingelse,theyknewtheirtheater.Inthosedays,therewere
manygoodstockcompaniesintheneighborhood:Blaney's,CorsePayton'sandPhillip's
Lyceum.TheLyceumwasjustaroundthecorner.Localresidentscalleditfirst"TheLyce,"and
thenchangedthatinto"TheLouse."FranciewentthereeverySaturdayafternoon(exceptwhen
itwasclosedforthesummer)whenshecouldscrapeupadime.Shesatinthegalleryand
oftenwaitedinlineanhourbeforetheshowopenedinordertogetaseatinthefirstrow.
ShewasinlovewithHaroldClarence,theleadingman.Shewaitedatthestagedoorafterthe
Saturdaymatineeandfollowedhimtotheshabbybrownstonehousewherehelived
untheatricallyinamodestfurnishedroom.Evenonthestreet,hehadthestiff-leggedwalkof
theold-timeactorandhisfacewasbabypinkasthoughhestillhadjuvenile2greasepaintonit.
Hewalkedstiff-leggedlyandleisurely,lookingneithertorightnorleftandsmokingan
important-lookingcigarwhichhethrewawaybeforeheenteredthehouse,ashisland-ladydid
notpermitthegreatmantosmokeinherrooms.Franciestoodatthecurb,lookingdown
reverentlyatthediscardedbutt.Shetookthepaperringoffitandworeitforaweek,pretending
itwashisengagementringtoher.
OneSaturday,Haroldandhiscompanyputon
TheMinister'sSweetheart
inwhichthe
handsomevillageministerwasinlovewithGerryMorehouse,theleadinglady.Somehow,the
heroinehadtoseekworkinagrocerystore.Therewasavillainess,alsoinlovewiththe
handsomeyoungminister,andouttogettheheroine.Sheswaggeredintothestoreinher
un-village-likefursanddiamondsandregallyorderedapoundofcoffee.Therewasadreadful
momentwhensheutteredthefatalwords,"Grindit!"Theaudiencegroaned.Ithadbeen
plantedthatthedelicatebeautifulheroinewasn'tstrongenoughtoturnthegreatwheel.Ithad
alsobeenplantedthatherjobwascontingentonherbeingabletogrindcoffee.Shestruggled
likeanythingbutcouldn'tgetthewheeltogoroundevenonce.Shepleadedwiththevillainess;
toldherhowmuchsheneededthejob.Thevillainessrepeated,"Grindit!"Whenallseemedlost,
HandsomeHaroldenteredwithhispinkfaceandhisclericalgarb.Takinginthesituation,he
threwhiswideminister'shatclearacrossthestageinadramaticbutunseemlygesture,
steppedstiff-leggedlytothemachineandgroundthecoffeeandthussavedtheheroine.There
wasanawedsilenceastheodoroffreshly-groundcoffeepermeatedthetheater.Thenbedlam
brokeloose.Realcoffee!Realisminthetheater!Everyonehadseencoffeegroundathousand
timesbutonthestageitwasarevolutionarything.Thevillainessgnashedherteethandsaid,
Foiledagain!"HaroldembracedGerry,makingherfaceupstage,andthecurtaincamedown.
Duringintermission,Franciedidnotjointheotherkidsintheinterimpastimeofspittingdownon
theplutocratsinthethirty-centorchestraseats.Instead,sheponderedoverthesituationat
curtain.Allverywellandgoodthattheherocameinthenickoftimetogrindthecoffee.Ifhe
hadn'tdroppedin,whatthen?Theheroinewouldhavebeendischarged.Allrightandsowhat?
Aftershegothungryenough,she'dgooutandfindanotherjob.She'dgooutscrubbingfloors
likemamaorgraftchopsueyoffofhermenfriendslikeFlossGaddisdid.Thegrocerystorejob
wasimportantonlybecauseitsaidsointheplay.
Shewasn'tsatisfiedwiththeplayshesawthefollowingSaturday,either.Allright.Thelonglost
lovercamehomejustintimetopaythemortgage.Whatifhehadbeenheldupandcouldn't
makeit?Thelandlordwouldhavetogivethemthirtydaystogetout-atleastthat'showitwasin
Brooklyn.Inthatmonthsomethingmightturnup.Ifitdidn'tandtheyhadtogetout,well,they'd
havetomakethebestofit.Theprettyheroinewouldhavetogetonpieceworkinthefactory;
hersensitivebrotherwouldhavetogooutpeddlingpapers.Themotherwouldhavetodo
cleaningbytheday.Butthey'dlive.Youbetchathey'dlive,thoughtFranciegrimly.Ittakesalot
ofdoingtodie.
Franciecouldn'tunderstandwhytheheroinedidn'tmarrythevillain.Itwouldsolvetherent
problemandsurelyamanwholovedhersomuchthathewaswillingtogothroughallkindsof
fussbecauseshewouldn'thavehimwasn'tamantoignore.Atleast,hewasaroundwhilethe
herowasoffonawildgoosechase.
Shewroteherownthirdacttothatplay-whatwouldhappen
if
.Shewroteitoutinconversations
andfounditaremarkablyeasywayofwriting.Inastoryyouhadtoexplainwhypeoplewerethe
waytheywerebutwhenyouwroteinconversationyoudidn'thavetodothatbecausethethings
thepeoplesaidexplainedwhattheywere.Franciehadnotroublesellingherselfondialogue.
Oncemoreshechangedhermindaboutwhatprofessionshe'dfollow.Shedecidedshe
wouldn'tbeanactressafterall.She'dbeawriterofplays.
XXIX
INthesummerofthatsameyear,Johnnygotthenotionthathischildrenweregrowingup
ignorantofthegreatoceanthatwashedtheshoresofBrooklyn.Johnnyfeltthattheyoughtto
goouttoseainaship.SohedecidedtotakethemforarowboatrideatCanarsieanddoalittle
deepseafishingontheside.Hehadnevergonefishingandhe'dneverbeeninarowboat.But
that'stheideahegot.
Weirdlytiedupwiththisidea,andbyareasoningprocessknownonlytoJohnny,wastheidea
oftakingLittleTillyalongonthetrip.LittleTillywasthefour-year-oldchildofneighborswhom
hehadnevermet.Infact,hehadneverseenLittleTillybuthegotthisideathathehadtomake
somethinguptoheronaccountofherbrotherGussie.Italltiedupwiththenotionofgoingto.
Canarsie.
Gussie,aboyofsix,wasamurkylegendintheneighborhood.Atoughlittlehellion,withan
over-developedunderlip,hehadbeenbornlikeotherbabiesandnursedathismother'sgreat
breasts.Butthere,allresemblancetoanychild,livingordead,ceased.Hismothertriedto
weanhimwhenhewasninemonthsoldbutGussiewouldn'tstandforit.Deniedthebreast,he
refusedabottle,foodorwater.Helayinhiscribandwhimpered.Hismother,fearfulthathe
wouldstarve,resumednursinghim.Hesuckedcontentedly,refusingallotherfood,andlivedoff
hismother'smilkuntilhewasnearlytwoyearsold.Themilkstoppedthenbecausehismother
waswithchildagain.Gussiesulkedandbidedhistimeforninelongmonths.Herefusedcow's
milkinanyformorcontainerandtooktodrinkingblackcoffee.
LittleTillywasbornandthemotherflowedwithmilkagain.Gussiewentintohystericsthefirst
timehesawthebabynursing.Helayonthefloor,screamingandbanginghishead.Hewouldn't
eatforfourdaysandherefusedtogotothetoilet.Hegothaggardandhismothergot
frightened.Shethoughtitwouldn'tdoanyharmtogivehimthebreastjustonce.Thatwasher
bigmistake.Hewaslikeadopefiendgettingthestuffafteralongperiodofdeprivation.He
wouldn'tletgo.
Hetookallofhismother'smilkfromthattimeonandLittleTilly,asicklybaby,hadtogoonthe
bottle.
Gussiewasthreeyearsoldatthistimeandbigforhisage.Likeotherboys,heworekneepants
andheavyshoeswithbrasstoetips.Assoonashesawhismotherunbuttonherdress,heran
toher.Hestoodupwhilenursing,anelbowonhismother'sknee,hisfeetcrossedjauntilyand
hiseyesrovingaroundtheroom.Standingtonursewasnotsucharemarkablefeatashis
mother'sbreastsweremountainousandpracticallyrestedinherlapwhenreleased.Gussie
wasindeedafearfulsightnursingthatwayandhelookednotunlikeamanwithhisfootona
barrail,smokingafatpalecigar.
TheneighborsfoundoutaboutGussieanddiscussedhispathologicalstateinhushedwhispers.
Gussie'sfathergotsothathewouldn'tsleepwithhiswife;hesaidthatshebredmonsters.The
poorwomanfiguredandfiguredonawaytoweanGussie.He
was
toobigtonurse,she
decided.Hewasgoingforfour.Shewasafraidhissecondteethwouldn'tcomeinstraight.
Onedayshetookacanofstoveblackeningandthebrushandclosedherselfinthebedroom
whereshecopiouslyblackenedherleftbreastwiththestovepolish.Withalipstickshedrewa
wideuglymouthwithfrighteningteethinthevicinityofthenipple.Shebuttonedherdressand
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