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Andtheyread,eachinturn,ofthebirthofJesus,andreading,theythoughtofJohnnydying.
Buteachkepthisthoughts.
Whenthechildrenwerereadytogotobed,Katiedidsomethingveryunusual.Itwasunusual
becauseshewasnotademonstrativewoman.Sheheldthechildrenclosetoherandkissed
themgoodnight.
"Fromnowon,"shesaid,"Iamyourmotherandyourfather:"
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XXXVIII
JUSTbeforeChristmasvacationended,Francietoldmamathatshewasn'tgoingbackto
school.
"Don'tyoulikeschool?"Mamaasked.
"Yes,Ido.ButI'mfourteennowandIcangetmyworkingpaperseasy."
"Whydoyouwanttogotowork?"
"Tohelpout."
"No,Francie.Iwantyoutogobacktoschoolandgraduate.It'sonlyafewmoremonths.June
willbeherebeforeyouknowit.Youcangetyourworkingpapersforthissummer.Maybe
Neeley,too.Butyou'rebothgoingtohighschoolinthefall.Soforgetworkingpapersandgo
backtoschool."
"But,Mama,how'llwegetalongtillsummer?"
"We'llmanage."
Katiewasnotasconfidentasshesounded.ShemissedJohnnyinmorewaysthanone.Johnny
hadneverworkedsteadilybuttherehadbeentheunexpectedSaturdayorSundaynightjob
withthethreedollarsitbroughtin.Then,too,whenthingsgottooterrible,Johnnyhadhada
wayofpullinghimselftogetherforalittlewhiletogetthemoverthebadplaces.Butnow,there
wasnoJohnny.
Katietookstock.Therentwaspaidaslongasshecouldkeepthosethreetenementsclean.
TherewasadollarandahalfaweekfromNeeley'spaperroute.Thatwouldkeepthemincoalif
theyusedafireonlyatnight.Butwait!Twentycentsweeklyinsurancepremiumhadtocome
outofthat.(Katiewasinsuredforadimeaweekandeachofthechildrenforanickel.)Well,a
bitlesscoalandalittleearliertobedwouldtakecareofthat.Clothes?Nottobethoughtof.
LuckyFranciehadthosenewshoesandNeeleythesuit.Thebigquestion,then,wasfood.
MaybeMrs.McGarritywouldletherdothewashingagain.Thatwouldbeadollaraweek.Then
she'dgetafewoutsidecleaningjobs.Yes,they'dgetalongsomehow.
TheygotthroughtotheendofMarch.BythattimeKatiewasunwieldy.(Thebabywasduein
May.)Theladiesforwhomsheworkedwincedandlookedawayastheysawher,bigwithchild,
standingattheironingboardintheirkitchens;orsawherinanawkwardsprawlingpositionon
herhandsandkneesscrubbingtheirfloors.Theyhadtohelpheroutofpity.Soontheyrealized
thattheywerepayingacleaningwomananddoingmostoftheworkthemselvesanyhow.So,
oneafteranother,theytoldhertheydidn'tneedheranymore.
AdaycamewhenKatiedidn'thavethetwentycentsfortheinsurancecollector.Hewasanold
friendoftheRommelysandknewKatie'scircumstances.
"I'dhatetoseeyourpolicieslapse,Mrs.Nolan.Especiallyafteryoukeptthemupallthese
years."
"Youwouldn'tlapsemejustbecauseIgotbehindalittleinmypayments?"
"
I
wouldn't.Butthecompanywould.Look!Whydon'tyoucashinthechildren'spolicies?"
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"Ididn'tknowyoucoulddothat."
"Fewpeopleknow.Theystoppayingpremiumsandthecompanykeepsmum.Timepasses
andthecompanyjustkeepsthemoneyalreadypaidin.I'dlosemyjobiftheyknewItoldyou
aboutthis.Buthere'showIlookatit:IinsuredyourfatherandmotherandallyouRommely
girlsandyourhusbandsandchildren,and,Idon'tknow,butIcarriedsomanymessagesback
andforthamongyouaboutbirthandsicknessanddeaththatIfeellikepartofthefamily."
"Wecouldn'tdowithoutyou,"saidKatie.
"Here'swhatyoudo,Mrs.Nolan.Cashinyourchildren'spoliciesbutkeepyourown.Ifanything
happenstooneofthechildren,Godforbid,youcouldmanagetogetthemburied.Whereasif
somethinghappenedtoyou,alsoGodforbid,theycouldn'tgetyouburiedwithoutinsurance
money,nowcouldthey?"
"No,theycouldn't.Imustkeepmyownpolicyup.Iwouldn'twanttobeburiedasapauperin
Potter'sField.That'ssomethingtheycouldneverriseabove;neitherthey,northeirchildren,nor
theirchildren'schildren.SoI'llkeepmypolicyandtakeyouradviceaboutthechildren's.Tellme
whatIhavetodo."
Thetwenty-fivedollarsthatKatiegotforthetwopoliciesgotthemthroughuntiltheendofApril.
Infivemoreweeksthechildwouldbeborn.Ineightmoreweeks,FrancieandNeeleywould
graduatefromgradeschool.Therewerethoseeightweekstobegottenthroughsomehow.
ThethreeRommelysisterssataroundKatie'skitchentableinconference.
"I'dhelpifIcould,"saidEvy."ButyouknowWill'snotbeenrightsincethathorsekickedhim.
He'sfreshtothebossanddoesn'tgetalongwiththemenandit'sgottensothatnotahorsewill
gooutwithhim.Theyputhimonstablework,sweepingoutmanureanddumpingbroken
bottles.Theycuthimtoeighteenaweekandthatdoesn'tgofarwiththreechildren.I'mlooking
foroddcleaningjobsmyself."
"IfIcouldthinkofsomeway,"beganSissy.
"No,"saidKatiefirmly."You'redoingenoughbytakingMothertolivewithyou."
That'sright,"saidEvy."KateandIusedtoworrysoaboutherlivingaloneinoneroomand
goingoutcleaningtomakeafewpennies."
"Mothersnoexpenseandnotrouble,"saidSissy."AndmyJohndon'tmindhavingheraround.
Ofcourse,heonlyearnstwentyaweek.Andnowthere'sthebaby.Iwantedtogetmyoldjob
backbutMother'stoooldtotakecareofbabyandthehouse.She'seighty-threenow.Icould
workbutI'dhavetohiresomebodytolookafterMotherandthebaby.IfIhadajob,Icouldhelp
youout,Katie."
"Youjustcan'tdoit,Sissy.There'snoway,"saidKatie.
"There'sonlyonethingtodo,"saidEvy."TakeFrancieoutofschoolandlethergetworking
papers."
"ButIwanthertograduate.MychildrenwillbethefirstonesintheNolanfamilytoget
diplomas."
"Youcan'teatadiploma,"saidEvy.
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"Haven'tyouanymenfriendswhocouldhelpyou?"askedSissy."You'reaveryprettywoman,
youknow."
"Orwillbewhenshegetshershapebackagain,"putinEvy.
KatiethoughtbrieflyofSergeantMcShane."No,"shesaid."Ihavenomenfriends.There's
alwaysbeenJohnnyandnooneelse."
"IguessEvy'srightthen,"decidedSissy."Ihatetosayit,butyou'vegottoputFrancietowork."
"Oncesheleavesgrammarschoolwithoutgraduating,she'llneverbe,abletogetintohigh
school,"protestedKatie.
"Well,"sighedEvy,"there'salwaystheCatholicCharities."
"Whenthetimecomes,"saidKatiequietly,"thatwehavetotakecharitybaskets,I'llplugupthe
doorsandwindowsandwaituntilthechildrenaresoundasleepandthenturnoneverygasjet
inthehouse."
"Don'ttalklikethat,"saidEvysharply."Youwanttolive,don'tyou?"
"Yes.ButIwanttolivefor
something
.Idon'twanttolivetogetcharityfoodtogivemeenough
strengthtogobacktogetmorecharityfood."
"Thenitcomesbacktothisagain,"saidEvy."Francie'sgottogetoutandwork.It'sgottobe
FranciebecauseNeeleyisonlythirteenandtheywon'tgivehimhisworkingpapers."
SissyputherhandonKatie'sarm."Itwon'tbesoterrible.Francie'ssmartandreadsalotand
thatgirlwillgetherselfeducatedsomehow."
Evystoodup."Look!We'vegottogo."Sheputafifty-centpieceonthetable.Anticipating
Katie'srefusal,shespokebelligerently."Anddon'tthinkthat'sapresent.Iexpecttobepaid
backsomeday."
Katiesmiled."Youneedn'thollerso.Idon'tmindtakingmoneyfrommysister."
Sissytookashortcut.AssheleanedovertokissKatie'scheekingoodbye,sheslippedadollar
billinherapronpocket."Ifyouneedme,"shesaid,"sendformeandI'llcome,evenifit'sinthe
middleofthenight.ButsendNeeley.It'snotsafeforagirltowalkthroughthosedarkstreets
pastthecoalyards."
Katiesataloneatthekitchentablefarintothenight."Ineedtwomonths...justtwomonths,"
shethought."DearGod,givemetwomonths.It'ssuchalittletime.Bythattime,mybabywillbe
bornandI'llbewellagain.Bythattime,thechildrenwillbegraduatedfrompublicschool.When
I'mbossofmyownmindandmyownbody,Idon'tneedtoaskYouforanything.Butnowmy
bodyisbossovermeandI'vegottoaskYouforhelp.Justtwomonths...twomonths..."She
waitedforthatwarmglowthatmeantthatshehadestablishedcommunicationwithherGod.
Therewasnoglow.Shetriedagain.
"HolyMary,MotherofJesus,youknowhowitis.Youhadachild.HolyMary..."Shewaited.
Therewasnothing.
SheplacedSissy'sdollarandEvy'sfifty-centpieceonthetable."Thatwillgetusthroughthree
moredays,"shethought."Afterthat...?"Notawareofwhatshedid,shewhispered;"Johnny,
whereveryouare,pullyourselftogetherjustonemoretime.Onemoretime...."Shewaited
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againandthistimetheglowcame.
AnditsohappenedthatJohnnyhelpedthem.
McGarrity,thesaloonkeeper,couldn'tgetJohnnyoutofhismind.NotthatMcGarrity's
consciencebotheredhim;no,nothinglikethat.Hedidn'tforcementocomeintohissaloon.
Asidefromkeepingthedoorhingessowelloiledthattheslightesttouchmadethemswingopen
easily,heofferednomoreinducementsthanothersaloonkeepers.Hisfreelunchwasnobetter
thantheirsandtherewasnobeguilingentertainmentotherthanthatspontaneouslycontributed
byhiscustomers.No,itwasn'thisconscience.
HemissedJohnny.Thatwasit.Anditwasn'tthemoney,either,becauseJohnnyalwaysowed
him.HehadlikedhavingJohnnyaroundbecausehegaveclasstotheplace.Itwassomething,
allright,toseethatslenderyoungfellowstandingdebonairlyatthebaramongthetruckdrivers
andditchdiggers."Sure,"admittedMcGarrity,"JohnnyNolandrankmorethanwasgoodfor
him.Butifhedidn'tgetithere,hewouldhavegotitsomewhereelse.Buthewasn'tarummy.
Henevergottocursingorbrawlingafterhehadafewdrinks.Yes,"decidedMcGarrity,"Johnny
hadbeenallright."
ThethingthatMcGarritymissedwasJohnnytalking."Howthatfellowcouldtalk,"hethought.
"Whyhe'dtellmeaboutthosecottonfieldsdownsouthorabouttheshoresofArabyorsunny
Francejustlikehe'dbeenthereinsteadofgettingtheinformationoutofthosesongsheknew.I
surelikedtohearhimtalkaboutthosefar-offplaces,"hemused."Butbestofall,Ilikedtohear
himtalkabouthisfamily."
McGarrityusedtohaveadreamaboutafamily.Thisdreamfamilylivedfarawayfromthe
saloon;sofarthathehadtohopatrolleytogethomeintheearlymorningafterhelockedup
thesaloon.Thegentlewifeofhisdreamswaitedupforhimandhadhotcoffeeandsomething
nicetoeatready.Aftereating,they'dtalk...talkaboutotherthingsthanthesaloon.Hehad
dreamchildren-clean,pretty,smartchildrenwhoweregrowingupsortofashamedthattheir
fatherranasaloon.Hewasproudoftheirshamebecauseitmeantthathehadtheabilityof
begettingrefinedchildren.
Well,thathadbeenhisdreamofmarriage.ThenhehadmarriedMae.Shehadbeenacurvy,
sensuousgirlwithdarkredhairandawidemouth.Butafterawhileofmarriage,sheturnedinto
astoutblowsywoman,knowninBrooklynas"thesaloontype."Marriedlifehadbeenfinefora
yearortwo,thenMcGarritywokeuponemorningandfoundthatitwasnogood.Maewouldn't
changeintohisdreamwife.Shelikedthesaloon.Sheinsistedthattheyrentroomsaboveit.
Shedidn'twantahouseinFlushing;shedidn'twanttodohousework.Shelikedtositinthe
saloon'sbackroomdayandnightandlaughanddrinkwiththecustomers.Andthechildrenthat
Maegavehimranthestreetslikehoodlumsandbraggedabouttheirfatherowningasaloon.To
hisgrievousdisappointment,theywereproudofit.
HeknewthatMaewasunfaithfultohim.Hedidn'tcaresolongasitdidn'tgetaroundtothe
extentthatmenlaughedathimbehindhisback.Jealousyhadlefthimyearsagowhenphysical
desireforMaelefthim.Hegraduallygrewindifferentaboutsleepingwithherorwithanyother
woman.Somehow,goodtalkinghadgottentiedupwithgoodsexinhismind.Hewanteda
womantotalkto,onetowhomhecouldtellallhisthoughts;andhewantedhertotalktohim,
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warmly,wiselyandintimately.Ifhecouldfindsuchawoman,hethought,hismanhoodwould
comebacktohim.Inhisdumbfumblingway,hewantedunionofmindandsoulalongwith
unionofbody.Astheyearspassed,theneedoftalkingintimatelywithawomanwhowasclose
tohimbecameanobsession.
Inhisbusiness,heobservedhumannatureandcametocertainconclusionsaboutit.The
conclusionslackedwisdomandoriginality;infact,theyweretiresome.Buttheywereimportant
toMcGarritybecausehehadfiguredthemoutforhimself.Inthefirstyearsoftheirmarriage,he
hadtriedtotellMaeabouttheseconclusions,butallshesaidwas,"Icanimagine."Sometimes
shevariedbysaying,"Ican
just
imagine."Graduallythen,becausehecouldnotsharehisinner
selfwithher,helostthepowerofbeingahusbandtoherandshewasunfaithfultohim.
McGarritywasamanwithagreatsinonhissoul.Hehatedhischildren.Hisdaughter,Irene,
wasFrancie'sage.Irenewasapinkeyedgirlandherhairwasofsuchapaleredthatit,too,
couldbecalledpink.Shewasmeanandstupid.Shehadbeenleftbacksomanytimesthatat
fourteenshewasstillinthesixthgrade.Hisson,Jim,tenyearsold,hadnooutstanding
characteristicexceptingthathisbuttockswerealwaystoofatforhisbreeches.
McGarrityhadanotherdream;itwasthatMaewouldcometohimandconfessthatthechildren
werenothis.Thisdreammadehimhappy.Hefeltthathecouldlovethosechildrenifheknew
theywereanotherman's.Thenhecouldseetheirmeannessandtheirstupidityobjectively;then
hecouldpitythemandhelpthem.Aslongasheknewtheywerehis,hehatedthembecausehe
sawallofhisownandMae'sworsttraitsinthem.
IntheeightyearsthatJohnnyhadbeenpatronizingMcGarrity'ssaloon,hehadspokendailyto
McGarrityinpraiseofKatieandthechildren.McGarrityplayedasecretgameduringthoseeight
years.Hepretendedthat
he
wasJohnnyandthathe,McGarrity,wastalkingsoaboutMaeand
hischildren.
"Wanttoshowyousomething,"Johnnysaidonce,proudly,ashepulledapaperfromhispocket.
"Mylittlegirlwrotethiscompositioninschoolandgot'A'onitandshe'sonlytenyearsold.
Listen.I'llreadittoyou."
AsJohnnyread,McGarritypretendedthatitwashislittlegirlwhohadwrittenthestory.Another
day,Johnnybroughtinapairofcrudely-madewoodbookendsandplacedthemonthebarwith
aflourish.
"Wanttoshowyousomething,"hesaidproudly."Myboy,Neeley,madetheseinschool."
Myboy,Jimmy,madetheseinschool,"saidMcGarrityproudlytohimselfasheexaminedthe
bookends.
Anothertime,tostarthimtalking,McGarrityhadasked,"Thinkwe'llgetinthewar,Johnny?"
"Funnything,"Johnnyhadanswered."KatieandIsatuptillnearmorningtalkingaboutthatvery
thing.IconvincedherfinallythatWilsonwillkeepusoutofit."
Howwoulditbe,McGarritythought,ifheandMaesatupall,nighttotalkaboutthat,andhow
woulditbeifshesaid,"You'reright,Jim."Buthedidn'tknowhowitwouldbebecauseheknew
thatcouldneverhappen.
SowhenJohnnydied,McGarritylosthisdreams.Hetriedtoplaythegameby himselfbutit
didn'tworkout.HeneedsomeonelikeJohnnytostarthimoff.
AboutthetimethatthethreesisterssatinKatie'skitchentalking,McGarritygotanidea.Hehad
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moremoneythanheknewhowtospend,andnothingelse.MaybethroughJohnny'schildren
hecouldbuythewayofdreamingagain.HesuspectedthatKatiewashardup.Maybehecould
scareupalittleeasyworkforJohnny'skidstodoafterschool.He'dbehelpingthemout...God
knowshecouldaffordit,andmaybehe'dgetsomethinginreturn.Maybetheywouldtalktohim
thewaytheymusthavetalkedtotheirfather.
HetoldMaehewasgoinguptoseeKatieaboutsomeworkforthechildren.Maetoldhim,
cheerfullyenough,thathe'dbethrownoutonhisear.McGarritydidn'tthinkhe'dbethrownout
onhisear.Asheshavedforthevisit,herecalledthedaythatKatiehadcomeintothankhimfor
thewreath.
AfterJohnny'sfuneral,Katiewentaroundthankingeachpersonwhohadsentflowers.Shehad
walkedstraightthroughMcGarrity'sfrontdoordisdainingthedeviousnessofthesidedoor
marked"Ladies'Entrance."Ignoringthestaringmenhangingonthebar,shehadcomestraight
towhereMcGarritywas.Seeingher,hehadtuckeduponebottomendofhisapronintothebelt,
signifyingthathewasoffdutyforthemomentandhadcomefrombehindthebartomeether.
"Icametothankyouforthewreath,"shesaid.
"Ohthat,"hesaid,relieved.Hethoughtshehadcometobawlhimout.
"Itwasthoughtfulofyou."
"IlikedJohnny."
"Iknow."Sheputherhandout.Helookedatitdumblyforamomentbeforehegottheideathat
shewantedtoshakehimby thehand.Ashewrungherhand,heasked,"Nohardfeelings?"
"Why?"sheanswered."Johnnywasfree,whiteandovertwenty-one."Shehadturnedthenand
walkedoutofthesaloon.
No,decidedMcGarrity,suchawomanwouldn'tthrowhimoutonhisearifhecamewith
well-meantintentions.
HesatillateaseononeofthekitchenchairstalkingtoKatie.Thechildrenweresupposedtobe
doingtheirhomework.ButFrancie,headbentdeceptivelyoverherbook,waslisteningtoMr.
McGarrity.
"ItalkeditoverwithmyMissus,"dreamedMcGarrity,"andsheagreedwithmethatwecould
useyourgirl.Nohardwork,youunderstand,justmakingthebedsandwashingafewdishes.I
couldusetheboydownstairs,peelingeggsandcuttingcheeseintohunks,youknow,forthe
freelunchatnight.Hewouldn'tbeanywherenearthebar.He'dworkinthebackkitchen.It
wouldbeforanhourorsoafterschoolandhalfadayonSaturday.I'dpayeachtwodollarsa
week."
Katie'sheartjumped."Fourdollarsaweek,"shefiguredtoherself"andthedollarandahalf
fromthepaperroute.Bothofthemcouldstayinschool.There'dbeenoughtoeat.Itwouldget
usthrough."
"Whatdoyousay,Mrs.Nolan?"heasked.
"It'suptothechildren,"sheanswered.
"Well?"Hethrewhisvoiceintheirdirection."Whatdoyousay?"
Franciepretendedtotearherselfawayfromherbook."Whatdidyousay?"
"WouldyouliketohelpMrs.McGarrityaroundthehouse?"
"Yes,sir,"saidFrancie.
"Andyou?"HelookedatNeeley.
"Yes,sir,"echoedtheboy.
"That'ssettled."HeturnedtoKatie."Ofcourseit'sonlytemporaryuntilwecangetaregular
womantotakeoverthehouseandkitchenwork."
"I'dratheritwastemporary,anyhow,"saidKatie.
"Youmightbealittleshort."Heworkedhishanddownintohispocket."SoI'llpaythefirst
week'ssalaryinadvance."
"No,Mr.McGarrity.Iftheyearnthemoney,they'llhavetheprivilegeofcollectingitandbringing
ithomethemselvesattheendoftheweek."
"Allright."Butinsteadoftakinghishandfromhispocket,hecloseditoverthethickrollofbills.
Hethought,"I'vegotsomuchmoneythatbuysmenothing.Andtheyhaven'tgotanything."He
hadanidea.
"Mrs.Nolan,youknowhowJohnnyandIdonebusiness.Igavehimcreditandheturnedhis
tipsovertome.Well,whenhedied,hewasalittleahead."Hetookoutthethickrollofbills.
Francie'seyespoppedwhenshesawallthatmoney.McGarrity'sideawastosaythatJohnny
wastwelvedollarsaheadandtogiveKatiethatsum.HelookedatKatieashetooktherubber
bandoffthemoney.Hereyesnarrowedandhechangedhismindaboutthetwelvedollars.He
knewshe'dneverbelieveit."Ofcourse,itisn'tmuch,"hesaidcasually."Justtwodollars.ButI
figureitbelongstoyou."Hedetachedtwobillsandheldthemouttoher.
Katieshookherhead."Iknowthereisnomoneyowingus.Ifyoutoldthetruth,you'dsaythat
Johnnyowedyou."Ashamedatbeingcaught,McGarrityputthethickrollbackinhispocket
whereitfeltuncomfortableagainsthisthigh.But,Mr.McGarrity,Idothankyouforyourkind
intentions,"Katiesaid.
HerlastfewwordsreleasedMcGarrity'stongue.Hestartedtotalk;hespokeofhisboyhoodin
Ireland,ofhismotherandfatherandthemanybrothersandsisters.Hespokeofhisdream
marriage.Hetoldhereverythingthathadbeeninhisthoughtforyears.Hedidn'trundownhis
wifeandchildren.Heleftthemoutofhisstoryentirely.HetoldaboutJohnny;howJohnnyhad
spokendailyofhiswifeandchildren.
"Takethosecurtains,"McGarritysaid,wavingathickhandatthehalfcurtainsmadeofyellow
calicowitharedrosedesign."Johnnytoldmehowyourippedupanolddressofyoursand
madekitchencurtainsoutofit.Hesaiditmadethekitchenlookfine,liketheinsideofaGypsy
wagon."
Francie,whohadabandonedthepretenseofstudy,pickedupMcGarrity'slasttwowords.
"Gypsywagon,"shethought,lookingatthecurtainswithneweyes."Sopapahadsaidthat.I
didn'tthinkhenoticedthenewcurtainsatthetime.Atleasthedidn'tsayanything.Buthehad
noticed.Hehadsaidthatnicethingaboutthemtothisman."HearingJohnnyspokenofso
madeFranciealmostbelievethathewasn'tdead."Sopapahadsaidthingslikethattothis
man."ShestaredatMcGarritywithnewinterest.Hewasashortstockymanwiththickhands,a
shortredneckandthinninghair."Who'deverguess,"thoughtFrancie,"lookingattheoutsideof
him,thathewassodifferentinside?"
McGarritytalkedfortwohourswithoutstopping.Katielistenedintently.Shewasnotlisteningto
McGarrity
talking
.ShewaslisteningtoMcGarrity
talkingaboutJohnny
.Whenhestoppedfora
second,shegavehimlittletransitionalreplies,suchas"Yes?"or"
Then
what?"or"And
then...?"Whenhefumbledforaword,sheofferedhimonewhichheacceptedgratefully.
Andashetalked,aremarkablethinghappened.Hefelthislostmanhoodstirringwithinhim.It
wasn'tthephysicalfactofKatieintheroomwithhim.Herbodywasswollenanddistortedand
hecouldn'tlookatherwithoutwincinginwardly.Itwasn'tthewoman.Itwasthetalkingtoher
thatwasdoingit.
Itgrewdarkintheroom.McGarritystoppedtalking.Hewashoarseandtired.Butitwasanew
peacefulkindoftiredness.Hethought,reluctantly,thathehadtogetback.Thesaloonwouldbe
fillingupwithmenontheirwayhomefromwork,stoppinginforapre-supperdrink.Hedidn't
likeMaebehindthebarwhenacrowdofmenwerethere.Hegottohisfeetslowly.
"Mrs.Nolan,"hesaidfumblingwithhisbrownderby,"couldIcomeuphereonceinawhileto
talk?"Sheshookherheadslowly."Justtotalk?"herepeatedpleadingly.
"No,Mr.McGarrity,"shesaidasgentlyasshecould;Hesighedandwentaway.
Franciewasgladtobesobusy.Itkeptherfrommissingpapatoomuch.SheandNeeleygotup
atsixinthemorningandhelpedmamawiththecleaningfortwohoursbeforetheygotreadyfor
school.Mamacouldn'tworkhardnow.Franciepolishedthebrassbellplatesinthethree
vestibulesandcleanedeachbanisterspokewithanoiledcloth.Neeleysweptoutthecellars
andsweptdownthecarpetedstairs.Bothofthemgotthefilledashcansuponthecurbeach
day.Ithadbeenaproblembecausethetwoofthemtogethercouldn'tsomuchasbudgethe
heavycans.Franciegottheideaoftippingoverthecans,dumpingtheashesonthecellarfloor,
carryingtheemptycansuptothecurbandthenrefillingthemwithcoalbuckets.Itworkedfine,
evenifitmeantalotoftripsupanddownthecellar.Thatleftonlythelinoleum-laidhallsfor
mamatoscrub.ThreeofthetenantsofferedtoscrubtheirownhallwaysuntilafterKatiehad
hadherbabyandthathelpedawholelot.
Afterschool,thechildrenhadtogotochurchfor"instruction"sincebothwerebeingconfirmed
thatspring.Afterinstruction,theyworkedforMcGarrity.Ashehadpromised,theworkwaseasy.
Franciemadeupfourtumbledbedsandwashedafewbreakfastdishesandswepttherooms.It
tooklessthananhour.
NeeleyhadthesamescheduleasFrancie,exceptthathispaperroutewasaddedon.
Sometimeshedidn'tgethomeforsupperuntileighto'clock.Heworkedinthekitchenbackof
McGarrity'ssaloon.Hisjobwastotaketheshellsofffourdozenhard-boiledeggs,cuthard
cheeseintoinchcubesandstickatoothpickineachcube,andslicebigpickleslengthwise.
McGarritywaitedafewdaysuntilthechildrengotusedtoworkingforhim.Thenhedecidedit
wastimetohavethemtalktohimthewayJohnnyhad.Hewentintothekitchen,satdown,and
watchedNeeleyworking."He'sthespittingimageofhisfather,"thoughtMcGarrity.Hewaiteda
longtimelettingtheboygetusedtohimthere,thenheclearedhisthroat.
"Makeanywoodenbookendslately?"heasked.
"No...no,sir,"stammeredNeeley,startledattheoddquestion.
McGarritywaited.Whydidn'ttheboystarttalking?Neeleyshelledeggsfaster.McGarritytried
again."ThinkWilsonwillkeepusoutofthewar?"
"Idon'tknow,"saidNeeley.
McGarritywaitedalongtime.Neeleythoughthewascheckinguponthewayheworked.
Anxioustoplease,theboyworkedsofastthathewasfinishedaheadoftime.Heplacedthelast
shelledeggintheglassbowlandlookedup."Ah!Nowhe'sgoingtotalktome,"thought
McGarrity.
"Isthatallyouwantdone?"askedNeeley.
"That'sall."StillMcGarritywaited.
"IguessI'llgo,then,"venturedNeeley.
"Allright,son,"sighedMcGarrity.Hewatchedtheboywalkoutofthebackdoor."Ifhe'donly
turnaroundandsaysomething...something...personal,"thoughtMcGarrity.ButNeeleydidn't
turnaround.
McGarritytriedFranciethenextday.Hecameupstairstotheflat,satdownandsaidnothing.
Franciegotalittlefrightenedandstartedsweepingtowardsthedoor."Ifhecomesatme,"she
thought,"Icanrunout."McGarritysatquietforalongtime,thinkinghewasgettingherusedto
him.Hedidn'tknowhewasfrighteningher.
"WriteanygradeA,numberonecompositionslately?"heasked.
"No,sir."
Hewaitedawhile."Doyouthinkwe'llgetintothiswar?"
"I...Idon'tknow."Sheedgedclosertothedoor.
Hethought,"I'mscaringher.ShethinksI'mlikethatfellowinthehallway."Aloudhesaid,"Don't
beafraid,I'mgoing.Youcanlockthedoorafterme,ifyouwant."
"Yes,sir,"shesaid.Afterhehadgone,Franciethought:"Iguessheonlywantedtotalk.ButI
havenothingtosaytohim."
MaeMcGarritycameuponce.Franciewasonherkneestryingtopokeoutsomedirtfrom
behindthewaterpipesunderthesink.Maetoldhertogetupandforgetit.
"Lordloveyou,child,"shesaid."Don'tbekillingyourselfworking.Thisflatwillbestandinghere
longafteryouandIaredeadandgone."
Shetookamoundofrosyjellooutoftheicebox,cutitinhalfandslidaportiononanotherplate.
Shegarnisheditliberallywithwhippedcream,plunkedtwospoonsonthetable,satdownand
indicatedthatFranciedothesame.
"I'mnothungry,"liedFrancie.
"Eatanyhow,tobesociable,"Maesaid.
ItwasthefirsttimeFranciehadevereatenjelloandwhippedcream.Itwassogood,shehadto
rememberhermannersandnotgobbleitdown.Assheate,shethought,"WhyMrs.McGarrity's
allright.Mr.McGarrity'sallright,too.OnlyIguesstheyaren'tallrighttoeachother."
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