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wentintothekitchenandsatinhernursingrockernearthewindow.WhenGussiesawher,he
threwthedice,withwhichhehadbeenplaying,underthewashtubsandtrottedoverforfeeding.
Hecrossedhisfeet,plantedhiselbowonherkneeandwaited.
"Gussiewanttiddy?"askedhismotherwheedlingly.
"Yup!"
"Allright.Gussie'sgonnagetnicetiddy."
Suddenlysherippedopenherdressandthrustthehorriblymade-upbreastintohisface.
Gussiewasparalyzedwithfrightforamoment,thenheranawayscreamingandhidunderthe
bedwherehestayedfortwenty-fourhours.Hecameoutatlast,trembling.Hewentbackto
drinkingblackcoffeeandshudderedeverytimehiseyeswenttohismother'sbosom.Gussie
wasweaned.
Themotherreportedhersuccessallovertheneighborhood.Itstartedanewfashioninweaning
called,"GivingthebabytheGussie."
JohnnyheardthestoryandcontemptuouslydismissedGussiefromhismind.Hewas
concernedaboutLittleTilly.Hethoughtshehadbeencheatedoutofsomethingveryimportant
andmightgrowupthwarted.HegotanotionthataboatrideofftheCanarsieshoremightwipe
outsomeofthewrongherunnaturalbrotherhaddoneher.HesentFranciearoundtoaskcould
LittleTillygowiththem.Theharassedmotherconsentedhappily.
ThenextSunday,JohnnyandthethreechildrensetoutforCanarsie.Franciewaselevenyears
old,NeeleytenandLittleTillywellpastthree.,Johnnyworehistuxedoandderbyandafresh
collaranddicky.FrancieandNeeleyworetheireverydayclothes.LittleTilly'smother,inhonor
oftheday,haddressedherupinacheapbutfancylacedresstrimmedwithdarkpinkribbon.
Onthetrolleyrideout,theysatinthefrontseatandJohnnymadefriendswiththemotorman
andtheytalkedpolitics.TheygotoffatthelaststopwhichwasCanarsieandfoundtheirwayto
alittlewharfonwhichwasatinyshack;acoupleofwater-loggedrowboatsbobbedupand
downonthefrayedropeswhichheldthemtothewharf.Asignovertheshackread:
"Fishingtackleandboatsforrent."
Underneathwasabiggersignwhichsaid:
FRESHFISHTOTAKEHOMEFORSALEHERE.
Johnnynegotiatedwiththemanand,aswashisway,madeafriendofhim.Themaninvited
himintotheshackforaneyeopenersayingthathehimselfonlyusedthestuffforanightcap.
WhileJohnnywasinsidegettinghiseyesopened,NeeleyandFrancieponderedhowanight
capcouldalsobeaneyeopener.LittleTillystoodthereinherlacedressandsaidnothing.
Johnnycameoutwithafishingpoleandarustytincanfilledwithwormsinmud.Thefriendly
manuntiedtheropefromtheleastsorryoftherowboats,puttheropeinJohnny'shand,wished
himluckandwentbacktohisshack.
Johnnyputthefishingstuffintothebottomoftheboatandhelpedthechildrenin.Thenhe
crouchedonthewharf,thebitofropeinhishandandgaveinstructionsaboutboats.
"Thereisalwaysawrongandarightwaytogetonaboat,"saidJohnny,whohadneverbeen
onanyboatexceptanexcursionboatonce."Therightwayistogivetheboatashoveandthen
jumpinitbeforeitdriftsouttosea.Likethis."
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Hestraightenedup,pushedtheboatfromhim,leaped...andfellintothewater.Thepetrified
childrenstaredathim.Asecondbefore,papahadbeenstandingonthedockabovethem.Now
hewasbelowtheminthewater.Thewatercametohisneckandhissmallwaxedmustache
andderbyhatwereintheclear.Hisderbywasstillstraightonhisforehead.Johnny,as
surprisedasthechildren,staredatthemamomentbeforehesaid:
"Don'tanyofyoudamnedkidsdaretolaugh!"
Heclimbedintotheboatalmostupsettingit.Theydidn'tdarelaughaloudbutFrancielaughed
sohardinsidethatherribshurt.Neeleywasafraidtolookathissister.Heknewthatiftheir
eyesmet,he'dburstoutlaughing.LittleTillysaidnothing.Johnny'scollaranddickywerea
soddenpaperishmess.Hestrippedthemoffandthrewthemoverboard.Herowedouttosea
waveringly,butwithsilentdignity.Whenhecametowhathethoughtwasalikelyspot,he
announcedthathewasgoingto"dropanchor."Thechildrenweredisappointedwhenthey
discoveredthattheromanticphrasesimplymeantthatyouthrewalumpofironattachedtoa
ropeoverboard.
Horrified,theywatchedpapasqueamishlyimpaleamuddywormonthehook.Thefishing
started.Itconsistedinbaitingthehook,castingitdramatically,waitingawhile,pullingitup
minuswormandfishandstartingthewholethingoveragain.
Thesungrewbrightandhot.Johnny'stuxedodriedtoastiffwrinkledgreenishoutfit.The
childrenstartedtogetawhoppingcaseofsunburn.Afterwhatseemedhours,papaannounced
totheirintensereliefandhappinessthatitwastimetoeat.Hewoundupthetackle,putitaway,
pulleduptheanchorandmadeforthewharf.Theboatseemedtogoinacirclewhichmadethe
wharfgetfurtheraway.Finallytheymadeshoreafewhundredyardsfurtherdown.Johnnytied
uptheboat,toldthechildrentowaitinitandwentashore.Hesaidhewasgoingtotreatthemto
anicelunch.
Hecamebackafterawhilewalkingsideways,carryinghotdogs,huckleberrypieand
strawberrypop.Theysatintherockingboattiedtotherottingwharf,lookeddownintotheslimy
greenwaterthatsmelledofdecayingfish,andate.Johnnyhadhadafewdrinksashorewhich
madehimsorrythathehadholleredatthekids.Hetoldthemtheycouldlaughathisfallinginto
thewateriftheywantedto.Butsomehow,theycouldn'tbringupalaugh.Thetimewaspastfor
that.Papawasverycheerful,Franciethought.
"Thisisthelife,"hesaid."Awayfromthemaddeningcrowd.Ah,there'snothinglikegoingdown
totheseainaship.We'regettingawayfromitall,"heendedupcryptically.
Aftertheiramazinglunch,Johnnyrowedthemouttoseaagain.Perspirationpoureddownfrom
underhisderbyandthewaxinthepointsofhismustachemeltedcausingtheneatadornment
tochangeintodisorganizedhaironhisupperlip.Hefeltfine.Hesanglustilyasherowed:
Sailing,sailing,overtheboundingmain.
Herowedandrowedandkeptgoingaroundinacircleandneverdidgetouttosea.Eventually
hishandsgotsoblisteredthathedidn'tfeellikerowinganymore.Dramaticallyheannounced
thathewasgoingtopullfortheshore.Hepulledandpulledandfinallymadeitby rowingin
smallerandsmallercirclesandmakingthecirclescomenearthewharf.Henevernoticedthat
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thethreechildrenwerepeagreeninthespotswheretheywerenotbeetredfromthesunburn.
Ifhehadonlyknownit,thehotdogs,huckleberrypie,strawberrypopandwormssquirmingon
thehookweren'tdoingthemmuchgood.
Atthewharf,heleapedtothedockandthechildrenfollowedhisexample.Allmadeitexcepting
Tillywhofellintothewater.Johnnythrewhimselfflatonthedock,reachedinandfishedherout.
LittleTillystoodthere,herlacedresswetandruined,butshesaidnothing.Althoughitwasa
broilinghotday,Johnnypeeledoffhistuxedojacket,kneltdownandwrappeditaroundthe
child.Thearmsdraggedinthesand.ThenJohnnytookherupinhisarmsandstrodeupand
downthedockpattingherbacksoothinglyandsingingheralullaby.LittleTillydidn'tunderstand
athingofallthathappenedthatday.Shedidn'tunderstandwhyshehadbeenputintoaboat,
whyshehadfallenintothewaterorwhythemanwasmakingsuchafussoverher.Shesaid
nothing.
WhenJohnnyfeltthatshewascomforted,hesetherdownandwentintotheshackwherehe
hadeitheraneyeopeneroranightcap.Heboughtthreefloundersfromthemanforaquarter.
Hecameoutwiththewetfishwrappedinanewspaper.Hetoldhischildrenthathehad
promisedtobringhomesomefresh-caughtfishtomama.
"Theprincipalthing,"saidpapa,"isthatIambringinghomefishthatwerecaughtatCanarsie.It
makesnodifferencewhocaughtthem.Thepointisthatwewentfishingandwe'rebringing
homefish."
Hischildrenknewthathewantedmamatothinkhecaughtthefish.Papadidn'taskthemtolie.
Hejustaskedthemnottobetoofussyaboutthetruth.Thechildrenunderstood.
Theyboardedoneofthosetrollycarsthathadtwolongbenchesfacingeachother.Theymade
aqueerrow.FirsttherewasJohnnyingreenwrinkledsaltstiffpants,anundershirtfullofbig
holes,aderbyhatandadisorderlymustache.NextcameLittleTillyswallowedupinhiscoat
withsaltwaterdrippingfromunderitandformingabrackishpoolonthefloor.Francieand
Neeleycamenext.Theirfaceswerebrickredandtheysatveryrigidtryingnottobesick.
Peoplegotonthecar,satacrossfromthemandstaredcuriously.Johnnysatupright,thefishin
hislap,tryingnottothinkoftheholesinhisexposedundershirt.Helookedovertheheadsof
thepassengerspretendingtostudyanEx-Laxadvertisement.
Morepeoplegoton,thecargotcrowdedbutnoonewouldsitnexttothem.Finallyoneofthe
fishworkeditswayoutofthesoddennewspaperandfellonthefloorwhereitlayslimilyinthe
dust.ItwastoomuchforLittleTilly.Shelookedintothefish'sglazedeye,saidnothingbut
vomitedsilentlyandthoroughlyalloverJohnny'stuxedojacket.FrancieandNeeley,asif
waitingforthatcue,alsothrewup.Johnnysattherewithtwoexposedfishinhislap,oneathis
feetandkeptstaringatthead.Hedidn'tknowwhatelsetodo.
Whenthegrislytripwasended,JohnnytookTillyhomefeelingthathiswastheresponsibilityof
explaining.Themothernevergavehimachancetoexplain.Shescreamedwhenshesawher
drippingbe-fouledchild.Shesnatchedthecoatoff,threwitintoJohnny'sfaceandcalledhima
Jack-the-Ripper.Johnnytriedandtriedtoexplainbutshewouldn'tlisten.LittleTillysaidnothing.
FinallyJohnnygotawordinedgewise.
"Lady,Ithinkyourlittlegirlhaslostherspeech."Whereuponthemotherwentintohysterics.
"Youdidit,youdidit,"shescreamedatJohnny.
"Can'tyoumakehersaysomething?"
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Themothergrabbedthechildandshookherandshookher."Speak!"Shescreamed."Say
something."FinallyLittleTillyopenedhermouth,smiledhappilyandsaid,
"T'anks."
KatiegaveJohnnyatonguelashingandsaidthathewasn'tfittohavechildren.Thechildrenin
questionwerealternatingbetweenthechillsandhotflashesofabadcaseofsunburn.Katie
nearlycriedwhenshesawtheruinofJohnny'sonlysuit.Itwouldcostadollartogetitcleaned,
steamedandpressedandsheknewitwouldneverbethesameagain.Asforthefish,they
werefoundtobeinanadvancedstateofdecayandhadtobethrownintothegarbagecan.
Thechildrenwenttobed.Betweenchillsandfeverandboutsofnausea,theyburiedtheirheads
underthecoversandlaughedsilentlyandbed-shakinglyattheremembranceofpapastanding
inthewater.
Johnnysatatthekitchenwindowuntilfarintothenighttryingtofigureoutwhyeverythinghad
beensowrong.Hehadsungmanyasongaboutshipsandgoingdowntotheseainthemwith
aheavehoandaheaveto.Hewonderedwhyithadn'tturnedoutthewayitsaidinsongs.The
childrenshouldhavereturnedexhilaratedandwithadeepandabidinglovefortheseaandhe
shouldhavereturnedwithafinemessoffish.Why,ohwhyhadn'titturnedoutthewayitdidin
asong?Whydidtherehavetobehisblisteredhandsandhisspoiledsuitandsunburnand
rottingfishandnausea?Whydidn'tLittleTilly'smotherunderstandtheintentionandoverlook
theresult?Hecouldn'tfigureitout-hecouldn'tfigureitout.
Thesongsoftheseahadbetrayedhim.
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XXX
TODAY,Iamawoman,"wroteFrancieinherdiaryinthesummerwhenshewasthirteen.She
lookedatthesentenceandabsentlyscratchedamosquitobiteonherbareleg.Shelooked
downonherlongthinandasyetformlesslegs.Shecrossedoutthesentenceandstartedover.
"Soon,Ishallbecomeawoman."Shelookeddownonherchestwhichwasasflatasa
washboardandrippedthepageoutofthebook.Shestartedfreshonanewpage.
"Intolerance,"shewrote,pressingdownhardonthepencil,"isathingthatcauseswar,
pogroms,crucifixions,lynchings,andmakespeoplecrueltolittlechildrenandtoeachother.Itis
responsibleformostoftheviciousness,violence,terrorandheartandsoulbreakingofthe
world."
Shereadthewordsoveraloud.Theysoundedlikewordsthatcameinacan;thefreshnesswas
cookedoutofthem.Sheclosedthebookandputitaway.
ThatsummerSaturdaywasadaythatshouldhavegonedowninherdiaryasoneofthe
happiestdaysofherlife.Shesawhernameinprintforthefirsttime.Theschoolgotouta
magazineattheendoftheyearinwhichthebeststorywrittenincompositionclassfromeach
gradewaspublished.Francie'scompositioncalled"WinterTime"hadbeenchosenasthebest
oftheseventhgradework.ThemagazinecostadimeandFranciehadhadtowaituntil
Saturdaytogetit.SchoolclosedforthesummerthedaybeforeandFrancieworriedthatshe
wouldn'tgetthemagazine.ButMr.Jensonsaidhe'dbeworkingaroundonSaturdayandifshe
broughtthedimeover,he'dgiveheracopy.
Nowintheearlyafternoon,shestoodinfrontofherdoorwiththemagazineopenedtothepage
ofherstory.Shehopedsomeonewouldcomealongtowhomshecouldshowit.
Shehadshownittomamaatlunchtimebutmamahadtogetbacktoworkanddidn'thavetime
toreadit.Atleastfivetimesduringlunch,Franciementionedthatshehadastorypublished.At
lastmamasaid.
"Yes,yes.Iknow.Isawitallcoming.There'llbemorestoriesprintedandyou'llgetusedtoit.
Nowdon'tletitgotoyourhead.Therearedishestobewashed."
PapawasatUnionHeadquarters.Hewouldn'tseethestorytillSundaybutFrancieknewhe'd
bepleased.Soshestoodonthestreetwithherglorytuckedunderherarm.Shecouldn'tletthe
magazineoutofherhandsevenforamoment.Fromtimetotimeshe'dglanceathernamein
printandtheexcitementaboutitnevergrewless.
ShesawagirlnamedJoannacomeoutofherhouseafewdoorsaway.Joannawastakingher
babyoutforanairinginitscarriage.Agaspcameupfromsomehousewiveswhohadstopped
togossiponthesidewalkwhilegoingtoandfroabouttheirshopping.Yousee,Joannawasnot
married.Shewasagirlwhohadgottenintotrouble.Herbabywasillegitimate-bastardwasthe
wordtheyusedintheneighborhood-andthesegoodwomenfeltthatJoannahadnorighttoact
likeaproudmotherandbringherbabyoutintothelightofday.Theyfeltthatsheshouldhave
keptithiddeninsomedarkplace.
FranciewascuriousaboutJoannaandthebaby.Shehadheardmamaandpapatalkingabout
them.Shestaredatthebabywhenthecarriagecameby.Itwasabeautifullittlethingsittingup
happilyinitscarriage.MaybeJoanna
was
abadgirlbutcertainlyshekeptherbabysweeter
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anddaintierthanthesegoodwomenkepttheirs.Thebabyworeaprettyfrilledbonnetanda
cleanwhitedressandbib.Thecarriagecoverwasspotlessandshowedmuchlovinghandiwork
initsembroidery.
Joannaworkedinafactorywhilehermothertookcareofthebaby.Themotherwastoo
ashamedtotakeitoutsothebabygotanairingonlyonweek-endswhenJoannawasn't
working.
Yes,Franciedecided,itwasabeautifulbaby.ItlookedjustlikeJoanna.Francieremembered
howpapahaddescribedherthatdayheandmamaweretalkingabouther.
"Shehasskinlikeamagnoliapetal."(Johnnyhadneverseenamagnolia.)"Herhairisasblack
asaraven'swing."(Hehadneverseensuchabird.)"Andhereyesaredeepanddarklike
forestpools."(Hehadneverbeeninaforestandtheonlypoolheknewwaswhereeachman
putinadimeandguessedwhattheDodgers'scorewouldbeandwhoeverguessedrightgotall
thedimes.)ButhehaddescribedJoannaaccurately.Shewasabeautifulgirl.
"Thatmaybe,"answeredKatie."Butwhatgoodisherlooks?They'reacursetothegirl.Iheard
thathermotherwasnevermarriedbuthadtwochildrenjustthesame.Andnowthemother's
sonisinSingSingandherdaughterhasthisbaby.Theremustbebadbloodallalongtheline
andnousegettingsentimentalaboutit.Ofcourse,"sheaddedwithadetachmentofwhichshe
wasastonishinglycapableattimes,"it'snoneofmybusiness.Idon'tneedtodoanythingabout
itonewayortheother.Idon'tneedtogooutandspitonthegirlbecauseshedidwrong.
NeitherdoIhavetotakeherinmyhouseandadoptherbecauseshedidwrong.Shesuffered
asmuchpainbringingthatchildintotheworldasthoughshe
was
married.Ifshe'sagoodgirlat
heart,she'lllearnfromthepainandtheshameandshewon'tdoitagain.Ifshe'snaturallybad,
itwon'tbotherherthewaypeopletreather.So,ifIwasyou,Johnny,Iwouldn'tfeeltoosorryfor
her."SuddenlysheturnedtoFrancieandsaid,"LetJoannabealessonto
you
."
OnthisSaturdayafternoon,FranciewatchedJoannawalkupanddownandwonderedinwhat
wayshewasalesson.Joannaactedproudaboutherbaby.Wasthelessonthere?Joannawas
onlyseventeenandfriendlyandshewantedeverybodytobefriendlywithher.Shesmiledat
thegrimgoodwomenbutthesmilewentawaywhenshesawthattheyansweredherwith
frowns.Shesmiledatthelittlechildrenplayingonthestreet.Somesmiledback.Shesmiledat
Francie.Franciewantedtosmilebackbutdidn't.Wasthelessonthatshemustn'tbefriendly
withgirlslikeJoanna?
Thegoodhousewives,theirarmsfilledwithbagsofvegetablesandbrownpaperparcelsof
meat,seemedtohavelittletodothatafternoon.Theykeptgatheringintolittleknotsand
whisperedtoeachother.ThewhisperingstoppedwhenJoannacameby andstartedupwhen
shehadpassed.
EachtimeJoannapassed,hercheeksgotpinker,herheadwenthigherandherskirtflipped
behindhermoredefiantly.Sheseemedtogrowprettierandprouderasshewalked.She
stoppedoftenerthanneededtoadjustthebaby'scoverlet.Shemaddenedthewomenby
touchingthebaby'scheekandsmilingtenderlyatit.Howdareshe!Howdareshe,theythought,
actasthoughshehadarighttoallthat?
Manyofthesegoodwomenhadchildrenwhichtheybroughtupbyscreamandcuff.Manyof
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themhatedthehusbandswholaybytheirsidesatnight.Therewasnolongerhighjoyforthem
intheactoflove.Theyenduredthelove-makingrigidly,prayingallthewhilethatanotherchild
wouldnotresult.Thisbittersubmissivenessmadethemanuglyandbrutal.Tomostofthemthe
loveacthadbecomeabrutalityonbothsides;thesooneroverwith,thebetter.Theyresented
thisgirlbecausetheyfeltthishadnotbeensowithherandthefatherofherchild.
Joannarecognizedtheirhatebutwouldn'tcringebeforeit.Shewouldnotgiveinandtakethe
babyindoors.Something
had
togive.Thewomenbrokefirst.Theycouldn'tendureitanylonger.
Theyhadtodosomethingaboutit.ThenexttimeJoannapassed,astringywomancalledout:
"Ain'tyouashamedofyourself?"
"Whatfor?"Joannawantedtoknow.
Thisinfuriatedthewoman."Whatfor,sheasks,"shereportedtotheotherwomen."I'lltellyou
whatfor.Becauseyou'readisgraceandabum.Yougotnorighttoparadethestreetswithyour
bastardwhereinnocentchildrencanseeyou."
"Iguessthisisafreecountry,"saidJoanna.
"Notfreeforthelikesofyou.Getoffthestreet,getoffthestreet."
"Tryandmakeme!"
"Getoffthestreet,youwhore,"orderedthestringywoman.
Thegirl'svoicetrembledwhensheanswered."Becarefulwhatyou'resaying."
"Wedon'thavetobecarefulwhatwesaytonostreetwalker,"chippedinanotherwoman.
Amanpassingbystoppedamomenttotakeitin.HetouchedJoanna'sarm."Look,Sister,why
don'tyougohometillthesebattle-axescooloff?Youcan'twinwiththem."
Joannajerkedherarmaway."Youmindyourownbusiness!"
"Imeantitintherightway,Sister.Sorry."Hewalkedon.
"Whydon'tyougowithhim,"tauntedthestringywoman."Hemightbegoodforaquarter."The
otherslaughed.
"You'realljealous,"saidJoannaevenly.
"Shesayswe'rejealous,"reportedtheinterlocutor."Jealousofwhat,you?"(Shesaid"you"as
thoughitwerethegirl'sname.)
"Jealousthatmenlikeme.That'swhat.Luckyyou'remarriedalready,"shetoldthestringyone.
"You'dnevergetamanotherwise.Ibetyourhusbandspitsonyou-afterwards.Ibetthat'sjust
whathedoes."
"Bitch!Youbitch!"screamedthestringyonehysterically.Then,actingonaninstinctwhichwas
strongeveninChrist'sday,shepickedastoneoutofthegutterandthrewitatJoanna.
Itwasthesignalfortheotherwomentostartthrowingstones.One,drollerthantherest,threwa
ballofhorsemanure.SomeofthestoneshitJoannabutasharppointedonemissedandstruck
thebaby'sforehead.Immediately,athincleartrickleofbloodrandownthebaby'sfaceand
spotteditscleanbib.Thebabywhimperedandheldoutitsarmsforitsmothertopickitup.
Afewwomen,poisedtothrowthenextstones,droppedthemquietlybackintothegutter.The
baitingwasallover.Suddenlythewomenwereashamed.Theyhadnotwantedtohurtthebaby.
TheyonlywantedtodriveJoannaoffthestreet.Theydispersedandwenthomequietly.Some
childrenwhohadbeenstandingaroundlistening,resumedtheirplay.
Joanna,cryingnow,liftedthebabyfromthecarriage.Thebabycontinuedtowhimperquietlyas
thoughithadnorighttocryoutloud.Joannapressedhercheektoherbaby'sfaceandher
tearsmixedwithitsblood.Thewomenwon.Joannacarriedherbabyintothehousenotcaring
thatthecarriagestoodinthemiddleofthesidewalk.
AndFranciehadseenitall;hadseenitall.Shehadheardeveryword.Sherememberedhow
Joannahadsmiledatherandhowshehadturnedherheadawaywithoutsmilingback.Why
hadn'tshesmiledback?Whyhadn'tshesmiledback?Nowshewouldsuffer-shewouldsuffer
alltherestofherlifeeverytimethatsherememberedthatshehadnotsmiledback.
Somesmallboysstartedtoplaytagaroundtheemptycarriage,holdingontoitssidesand
pullingitwayoverwhilebeingchased.Franciescatteredthemandwheeledthecarriageoverto
Joanna'sdoorandputthebrakeon.Therewasanunwrittenlawthatnothingwastobe
molestedthatstoodoutsidethedoorwhereitbelonged.
Shewasstillholdingthemagazinewithherstoryinit.Shestoodnexttothebrakedcarriage
andlookedathernameoncemore."WinterTime,byFrancesNolan."Shewantedtodo
something,sacrificesomethingtopayfornothavingsmiledatJoanna.Shethoughtofherstory,
shewassoproudofit;soeagertoshowpapaandAuntEvyandSissy.Shewantedtokeepit
alwaystolookatandtogetthatnicewarmfeelingwhenshelookedatit.Ifshegaveitaway,
therewasnomeansby whichshecouldgetanothercopy.Sheslippedthemagazineunderthe
baby'spillow.Sheleftitopenatthepageofherstory.
Shesawsometinydropsofbloodonthebaby'ssnowypillow.Againshesawthebaby;thethin
trickleofbloodonitsface;thewayitheldoutitsarmstobetakenup.Awaveofhurtbrokeover
Francieandleftherweakwhenitpassed.Anotherwavecame,brokeandreceded.Shefound
herwaydowntothecellarofherhouseandsatinthedarkestcorneronaheapofburlapsacks
andwaitedwhilethehurtwavessweptoverher.Aseachwavespentitselfandanewone
gathered,shetrembled.Tenselyshesattherewaitingforthemtostop.Iftheydidn'tstop,she'd
havetodie-she'dhavetodie.
Afterawhiletheycamefainterandtherewasalongertimebetweeneachone.Shebeganto
think.ShewasnowgettingherlessonfromJoannabutitwasnotthekindoflessonhermother
meant.
SherememberedJoanna.Oftenatnightonherwayhomefromthelibrary,shehadpassed
Joanna'shouseandseenherandtheboystandingclosetogetherinthenarrowvestibule.She
hadseentheboystrokeJoanna'sprettyhairtenderly;hadseenhowJoannaputupherhandto
touchhischeek.AndJoanna'sfacelookedpeacefulanddreamyinthelightfromthestreet
lamp.Outofthatbeginning,then,hadcometheshameandthebaby.Why?Why?The
beginninghadseemedsotenderandsoright.Why?
Sheknewthatoneofthewomenstone-throwershadhadababyonlythreemonthsafterher
marriage.Franciehadbeenoneofthechildrenstandingatthecurbwatchingthepartyleavefor
thechurch.Shesawthebulgeofpregnancyunderthevirginalveilofthebrideasshestepped
intothehiredcarriage.Shesawthehandofthefatherclosedtightonthebridegroom'sarm.
Thegroomhadblackshadowsunderhiseyesandlookedverysad.
Joannahadnofather,nomenkin.Therewasnoonetoholdherboy'sarmtightonthewayto
thealtar.ThatwasJoanna'scrime,decidedFrancie-notthatshehadbeenbad,butthatshe
hadnotbeensmartenoughtogettheboytothechurch.
Franciehadnowayofknowingthewholestory.Asamatteroffact,theboylovedJoannaand
waswillingtomarryherafter-asthesayinggoes-hehadgottenherintotrouble.Theboyhada
family-amotherandthreesisters.HetoldthemhewantedtomarryJoannaandtheytalkedhim
outofit.
Don'tbeafool,theytoldhim.She'snogood.Herwholefamily'snogood.Besides,howdoyou
knowyou'retheone?Ifshehadyoushehadothers.Oh,womenaretricky.Weknow.Weare
women.Youaregoodandtender-hearted.Youtakeherwordforitthatyouaretheman.She
lies.Don'tbetrickedmyson,don'tbetricked,ourbrother.Ifyoumustmarry,marryagoodgirl,
onewhowon'tsleepwithyouwithoutthepriestsayingthewordsthatmakeitright.Ifyoumarry
thisgirl,youarenolongermyson;youarenolongerourbrother.You'llneverbesurewhether
thechildisyours.Youwillworrywhileyouareatyourwork.You'llwonderwhoslipsintoyour
bedbesideherafteryouhaveleftinthemorning.Ohyes,myson,ourbrother,thatishow
womendo.
We
know.
We
arewomen.
We
knowhowtheydo.
Theboyhadlethimselfbepersuaded.Hiswomenfolkgavehimmoneyandhegotaroomand
anewjoboverinJersey.Theywouldn'ttellJoannawherehewas.He,neversawheragain.
Joannawasn'tmarried.Joannahadthebaby.
ThewaveshadalmoststoppedpassingoverFranciewhenshediscoveredtoherfrightthat
somethingwaswrongwithher.Shepressedherhandoverherhearttryingtofeelajagged
edgeundertheflesh.Shehadheardpapasingsomanysongsabouttheheart;theheartthat
wasbreaking-wasaching-wasdancing-washeavyladen-thatleapedforjoy-thatwasheavyin
sorrow-thatturnedover-thatstoodstill.Shereallybelievedthattheheartactuallydidthose
things.ShewasterrifiedthinkingherhearthadbrokeninsideheroverJoanna'sbabyandthat
thebloodwasnowleavingherheartandflowingfromherbody.
Shewentupstairstotheflatandlookedintothemirror.Hereyeshaddarkshadowsbeneath
themandherheadwasaching.Shelayontheoldleathercouchinthekitchenandwaitedfor
mamatocomehome.
Shetoldmamawhathadhappenedtoherinthecellar.ShesaidnothingaboutJoanna.Katie
sighedandsaid,"Sosoon?You'rejustthirteen.Ididn'tthinkitwouldcomeforanotheryearyet.
Iwasfifteen."
"Then...then...thisisallrightwhat'shappening?"
"It'sanaturalthingthatcomestoallwomen."
"I'mnotawoman."
"Itmeansyou'rechangingfromagirlintoawoman."
"Doyouthinkitwillgoaway?"
"Inafewdays.Butitwillcomebackagaininamonth."
"Forhowlong?"
"Foralongtime.Untilyouarefortyorevenfifty."Shemusedawhile."Mymotherwasfiftywhen
Iwasborn."
"Oh,ithassomethingtodowithhavingbabies."
"Yes.Rememberalwaystobeagoodgirlbecauseyoucanhaveababynow."Joannaandher
babyflashedthroughFrancie'smind."Youmustn'tlettheboyskissyou,"saidmama.
"Isthathowyougetababy?"
"No.Butwhatmakesyougetababyoftenstartswithakiss."Sheadded,"RememberJoanna."
NowKatiedidn'tknowaboutthestreetscene.Joannahappenedtopopintohermind.But
Franciethoughtshehadwonderfulpowersofinsight.Shelookedatmamawithnewrespect.
RememberJoanna.RememberJoanna.Franciecouldneverforgether.Fromthattimeon,
rememberingthestoningwomen,shehatedwomen.Shefearedthemfortheirdeviousways,
shemistrustedtheirinstincts.Shebegantohatethemforthisdisloyaltyandtheircrueltyto
eachother.Ofallthestone-throwers,notonehaddaredtospeakawordforthegirlforfearthat
shewouldbetarredwithJoanna'sbrush.Thepassingmanhadbeentheonlyonewhospoke
withkindnessinhisvoice.
Mostwomenhadtheonethingincommon:theyhadgreatpainwhentheygavebirthtotheir
children.Thisshouldmakeabondthatheldthemalltogether;itshouldmakethemloveand
protecteachotheragainsttheman-world.Butitwasnotso.Itseemedliketheirgreatbirthpains
shranktheirheartsandtheirsouls.Theystucktogetherforonlyonething:totrampleonsome
otherwoman...whetheritwasby throwingstonesorbymeangossip.Itwastheonlykindof
loyaltytheyseemedtohave.
Menweredifferent.Theymighthateeachotherbuttheystucktogetheragainsttheworldand
againstanywomanwhowouldensnareoneofthem.
Francieopenedthecopybookwhichsheusedforadiary.Sheskippedalineunderthe
paragraphthatshehadwrittenaboutintoleranceandwrote:
"AslongasIlive,Iwillneverhaveawomanforafriend.Iwillnevertrustanywomanagain,
exceptmaybemamaandsometimesAuntEvyandAuntSissy."
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