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"Buyagoodcigarandsmokeitonme."
"I'lldothat,Mac,"promisedtheforeman.HepumpedJohnny'shandandagainpromisedtotell
Sissy.
MaryRommelyweptwhensheheardthenews."Thepoorchild!Thepoorlittleone,"she
lamented."Bornintothisworldofsorrow;bornforsufferingandhardship.Ai,there'llbealittle
happiness,butmoreofhardwork.Ai,ai."
JohnnywasallfortellingThomasRommelybutMarybeggedhimnottojustyet.Thomashated
JohnnyNolanbecausehewasIrish.HehatedtheGermans,hehatedAmericans,hehatedthe
Russians,buthejustcouldn'tstandtheIrish.Hewasfiercelyracialinspiteofhisstupendous
hatredofhisraceandhehadatheorythatmarriagebetweentwoofalienraceswouldresultin
mongrelchildren.
"WhatwouldIgetifImatedacanarywithacrow?"washisargument.
AfterJohnnyhadescortedhismother-in-lawovertohishouse,hewentoutlookingforwork.
Katiewasgladtoseehermother.Withthememoryofherownbirthpangsstilllingering,she
hadknowledgenowofwhathermotherhadsufferedwhenshe,Katie,wasborn.Shethoughtof
hermotherbearingsevenchildren,bringingthemup,watchingthreeofthemdie,andknowing
thatthosewholivedweredoomedtohungerandhardship.Shehadavisionthatthesame
cyclewasdestinedforherlessthanday-oldchild.Shebecamefranticwithworry.
"Whatdo
I
know?"Katieaskedhermother."Ican'tteachheranythingmorethanI,myself,
knowandIknowsolittle.Youarepoor,Mother.JohnnyandIarepoor.Thebabywillgrowupto
bepoor.Wecan'tbeanymorethanwearethisday.SometimesIthinkthattheyearpastwas
thebestwewilleverknow.Astheyearsgoby andJohnnyandIgetolder,nothingwillgrow
better.Allwehavenowisthatweareyoungandstrongenoughtoworkandthatwillgofromus
astimepasses."
Thentherealtruthcametoher."Imean,"shethought,"that
I
canwork.Ican'tcountonJohnny.
I'llalwayshavetolookafterhim.Oh,God,don'tsendmeanymorechildrenorIwon'tbeableto
lookafterJohnnyandI've
got
tolookafterJohnny.Hecan'tlookafterhimself."Hermother
interruptedherthoughts.Marywassaying:
"Whatdidwehaveintheoldcountry?Nothing.Wewerepeasants.Westarved.Well,then,we
cameoverhere.Itwasn'tsomuchbetterexceptthattheydidn'ttakeyourfatherforthemilitary
thewaytheywoulddointheoldcountry.Butotherwise,it'sbeenharder.Imissthehomeland,
thetreesandbroadfields,thefamiliarwayofliving,theoldfriends."
"Ifyoucouldexpectnothingbetter,whydidyoucometoAmerica?"
"ForthesakeofmychildrenwhomIwishedtobeborninafreeland."
"Yourchildrenhaven'tdonesowell,Mother."Katiesmiledbitterly.
"Thereishere,whatisnotintheoldcountry.Inspiteofhardunfamiliarthings,thereis
here-hope.Intheoldcountry,amancanbenomorethanhisfather,providingheworkshard.If
hisfatherwasacarpenter,hemaybeacarpenter.Hemaynotbeateacherorapriest.Hemay
rise-butonlytohisfather'sstate.Intheoldcountry,amanisgiventothepast.Herehebelongs
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tothefuture.Inthisland,hemaybewhathewill,ifhehasthegoodheartandthewayof
workinghonestlyattherightthings."
"Thatisnotso.Yourchildrenhavenotdonebetterthanyou."
MaryRommelysighed."Thatmaybemyfault.IknewnothowtoteachmydaughtersbecauseI
havenothingbehindmeexceptingthatforhundredsofyears,myfamilyhasworkedontheland
ofsomeoverlord.Ididnotsendmyfirstchildtotheschool.Iwasignorantanddidnotknowat
firstthatthechildrenoffolklikeuswereallowedthefreeeducationofthisland.Thus,Sissyhad
nochancetodobetterthanme.Buttheotherthree...youwenttoschool."
"Ifinishedthesixthgrade,ifthatiswhatiscallededucation."
"AndyourYohnny"(shecouldnotpronounce"j"),"didtoo.Don'tyousee?"Excitementcame
intohervoice."Already,itisstarting-thegettingbetter."Shepickedupthebabyandheldithigh
in,herarms."Thischildwasbornofparentswhocanreadandwrite,"shesaidsimply."Tome,
thisisagreatwonder."
"Mother,Iamyoung.Mother,Iamjusteighteen.Iamstrong.Iwillworkhard,Mother.ButIdo
notwantthischildtogrowupjusttoworkhard.WhatmustIdo,Mother,whatmustIdotomake
adifferentworldforher?HowdoIstart?"
"Thesecretliesinthereadingandthewriting.Youareabletoread.Everydayyoumustread
onepagefromsomegoodbooktoyourchild.Everydaythismustbeuntilthechildlearnsto
read.Thenshemustreadeveryday,Iknowthisisthesecret."
"Iwillread,"promisedKatie."Whatisagoodbook?""Therearetwogreatbooks.Shakespeare
isagreatbook.Ihaveheardtellthatallthewonderoflifeisinthatbook;allthatmanhas
learnedofbeauty,allthathemayknowofwisdomandlivingareonthosepages.Itissaidthat
thesestoriesareplaystobeactedoutonthestage.Ihaveneverspokentoanyonewhohas
seenthisgreatthing.ButIheardthelordofourlandbackinAustriasaythatsomeofthepages
singthemselveslikesongs."
"IsShakespeareabookintheGerman?"
"ItisoftheEnglish.Isoheardourlordofthelandtellhisyoungsonwhowassettingoutforthe
greatuniversityofHeidelberglongago."
"Andwhatistheothergreatbook?"
"ItistheBiblethattheProtestantpeopleread."
"WehaveourownBible,theCatholicone."
Marylookedaroundtheroomfurtively."ItisnotfittingforagoodCatholictosaysobutIbelieve
thattheProtestantBiblecontainsmoreofthelovelinessofthegreateststoryonthisearthand
beyondit.Amuch-lovedProtestantfriendoncereadsomeofherBibletomeandIfounditasI
havesaid.
"Thatisthebook,then,andthebookofShakespeare.Andeverydayyoumustreadapageof
eachtoyourchild-eventhoughyouyourselfdonotunderstandwhatiswrittendownandcannot
soundthewordsproperly.Youmustdothisthatthechildwillgrowupknowingofwhatis
great-knowingthatthesetenementsofWilliamsburgarenotthewholeworld."
"TheProtestantBibleandShakespeare."
"AndyoumusttellthechildthelegendsItoldyou-asmymothertoldthemtomeandhermother
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toher.Youmusttellthefairytalesoftheoldcountry.Youmusttellofthosenotoftheearthwho
liveforeverintheheartsofpeople-fairies,elves,dwarfsandsuch.Youmusttellofthegreat
ghoststhathauntedyourfather'speopleandoftheevileyewhicha
hex
putonyouraunt.You
mustteachthechildofthesignsthatcometothewomenofourfamilywhenthereistroubleand
deathtobe.AndthechildmustbelieveintheLordGodandJesus,HisOnlySon."Shecrossed
herself.
"Oh,andyoumustnotforgettheKrisKringle.Thechildmustbelieveinhimuntilshereaches
theageofsix."
"Mother,Iknowtherearenoghostsorfairies.Iwouldbeteachingthechildfoolishlies."
Maryspokesharply."Youdonot
know
whethertherearenotghostsonearthorangelsin
heaven."
"I
know
thereisnoSantaClaus."
"Yetyoumustteachthechildthatthesethingsareso."
"Why?WhenI,myself,donotbelieve?"
"Because,"explainedMaryRommelysimply,"thechildmusthaveavaluablethingwhichis
calledimagination.Thechildmusthaveasecretworldinwhichlivethingsthatneverwere.Itis
necessarythatshe
believe
.Shemuststartoutbybelievinginthingsnotofthisworld.Then
whentheworldbecomestoouglyforlivingin,thechildcanreachbackandliveinher
imagination.I,myself,eveninthisdayandatmyage,havegreatneedofrecallingthe
miraculouslivesoftheSaintsandthegreatmiraclesthathavecometopassonearth.Onlyby
havingthesethingsinmymindcanIlivebeyondwhatI
have
tolivefor."
"Thechildwillgrowupandfindoutthingsforherself.ShewillknowthatIlied.Shewillbe
disappointed."
"Thatiswhatiscalledlearningthetruth.Itisagoodthingtolearnthetruthone'sself.Tofirst
believewithallyourheart,andthennottobelieve,isgoodtoo.Itfattenstheemotionsand
makesthemtostretch.Whenasawomanlifeandpeopledisappointher,shewillhavehad
practiceindisappointmentanditwillnotcomesohard.Inteachingyourchild,donotforgetthat
sufferingisgoodtoo.Itmakesapersonrichincharacter."
"Ifthatisso,"commentedKatiebitterly,"thenweRommelysarerich."
"Wearepoor,yes.Wesuffer.Ourwayisveryhard.Butwearebetterpeoplebecauseweknow
ofthethingsIhavetoldyou.IcouldnotreadbutItoldyouofallofthethingsIlearnedfrom
living.Youmusttellthemtoyourchildandaddontothemsuchthingsasyouwilllearnasyou
growolder."
"WhatmoremustIteachthechild?"
"Thechildmustbemadetobelieveinheaven.Aheaven,notfilledwithflyingangelswithGod
onathrone"-Maryarticulatedherthoughtspainfully,halfinGermanandhalfinEnglish-"buta
heavenwhichmeansawondrousplacethatpeoplemaydreamof-asofaplacewheredesires
cometrue.Thisisprobablyadifferentkindofareligion.Idonotknow."
"Andthen,whatelse?"
"Beforeyoudie,youmustownabitofland-maybewithahouseonitthatyourchildoryour
childrenmayinherit."
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Katielaughed."
Meownland?
Ahouse?We'reluckyifwecanpayourrent."
"Evenso."Maryspokefirmly."Yetyoumustdothat.Forthousandsofyears,ourpeoplehave
beenpeasantsworkingthelandofothers.Thiswasintheoldcountry.Herewedobetter
workingwithourhandsinthefactory.Thereisapartofeachdaythatdoesnotbelongtothe
masterbutwhichtheworkerownshimself.Thatisgood.Buttoownabitoflandisbetter;abit
oflandthatwemayhanddowntoourchildren…thatwillraiseusuponthefaceoftheearth."
"Howcanweevergettoownland?JohnnyandIworkandweearnsolittle.Sometimesafter
therentispaidandtheinsurancethereishardlyenoughleftforfood.Howcouldwesavefor
land?"
"Youmusttakeanemptycondensedmilkcanandwashitwell."
"Acan...?"
"Cutoffthetopneatly.Cutstripsdownintothecanthelengthofyourfinger.Leteachstripbeso
wide."Shemeasuredtwoincheswithherfingers."Bendthestripsbackward.Thecanwilllook
likeaclumsystar.Makeaslitinthetop.Thennailthecan,anailineachstrip,inthedarkest
cornerofyourcloset.Eachdayputfivecentsinit.Inthreeyearstherewillbeasmallfortune,
fiftydollars.Takethemoneyandbuyalotinthecountry.Getthepapersthatsayitisyours.
Thusyoubecomealandowner.Onceonehasownedland,thereisnogoingbacktobeinga
serf."
"Fivecentsaday.Itseemsalittle.Butwhereisittocomefrom?Wehaven'tenoughnowand
withanothermouth'tofeed...."
"Youmustdoitthus:Yougotothegreengrocer'sandaskhowmucharecarrotsthebunch.
Themanwillsaythreecents.Thenlookaboutuntilyouseeanotherbunch,notsofresh,notso
large.Youwillsay:MayIhavethisdamagedbunchfortwocents?Speakstronglyanditshall
beyoursfortwocents.Thatisasavedpennythatyouputinthestarbank.Itiswinter,say.You
boughtabushelofcoalfortwenty-fivecents.Itiscold.Youwouldstartafireinthestove.But
wait!Waitonehourmore.Sufferthecoldforanhour.Putashawlaroundyou.Say,Iamcold
becauseIamsavingtobuyland.Thathourwillsaveyouthreecents'worthofcoal.Thatis
threecentsforthebank.Whenyouarealoneatnight,donotlightthelamp.Sitinthedarkness
anddreamawhile.Reckonouthowmuchoilyousavedandputitsvalueinpenniesinthebank.
Themoneywillgrow.Somedaytherewillbefiftydollarsandsomewhereonthislongislandisa
pieceoflandthatyoumaybuyforthatmoney."
"Willitwork,thissaving?"
"IswearbytheHolyMotheritwill."
"Thenwhyhaven'tyoueversavedenoughmoneytobuyland?"
"Idid.Whenwefirstlanded,Ihadastarbank.Ittookmetenyearstosavethatfirstfiftydollars.
Itookthemoneyinmyhandandwenttoamanintheneighborhoodofwhomitwassaidthathe
dealtfairlywithpeoplewhoboughtland.Heshowedmeabeautifulpieceofearthandtoldme
inmyownlanguage;'Thisisthine!'Hetookmymoneyandgavemeapaper.Icouldnotread.
Later,Isawmenbuildingthehouseofanotheronmyland.Ishowedthemmypaper.They
laughedatmewithpityintheireyes.Itwasthatthelandhadnotbeentheman'stosell.Itwas...
howdoyousayitintheEnglish...aschwindle."
"Swindle."
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"Ai.Peoplelikeus,knownasgreenhornsfromtheoldcountry,wereoftenrobbedby mensuch
ashebecausewecouldnotread.Butyouhaveeducation.Firstyouwillreadonthepaperthat
thelandisyours.Onlythenwillyoupay."
"Andyouneversavedagain,Mother?"
"Idid.Alloveragain.Thesecondtimeitwasharderbecausetherewerethemanychildren.I
saved,butwhenwemovedyourfatherfoundthebankandtookthemoney.Hewouldnotbuy
landwithit.Hewasalwaysoneforbirdssoheboughtaroosterandmanyhenswiththemoney
andputtheminthebackyard."
"Iseemtorememberthosechickens,"saidKatie,"along,longtimeago."
"Hesaidtheeggswouldbringmuchmoneyintheneighborhood.Ah,whatdreamsmenhave!
Thefirstnighttwentystarvingcatscameoverthefenceandkilledandatemanychickens.The
secondnight,theItaliansclimbedthefenceandstolemore.Thethirddaythepolicemancame
andsaiditwasagainstthelawtokeepchickensinayardinBrooklyn.Wehadtopayhimfive
dollarsnottotakeyourfathertothestationhouse.Yourfathersoldthefewchickensthatwere
leftandboughtcanarybirdswhichhecouldownwithoutfear.ThusIlostthesecondsavings.
ButIamsavingagain.Maybesometime..."Shesatinsilenceforawhile.Thenshegotupand
putonhershawl.
"Itgrowsdark.Yourfatherwillbecominghomefromhiswork.HolyMarywatchovertheeand
thechild."
Sissycameoverrightfromwork.Shedidn'teventaketimetobrushthegrayrubberpowder
fromherhairbow.Shewentintochokinghystericsoverthebaby,pronouncingitthemost
beautifulbabyintheworld.Johnnylookedskeptical.Thebabylookedblueandwizenedtohim
andhefeltthattheremustbesomethingwrongwithit.Sissywashedthebaby.(Itmusthave
beenbathedadozentimesthefirstday.)Sherushedouttothedelicatessenstoreandbeguiled
themanintolettingheropenachargeaccountuntilSaturdaypayday.Sheboughttwodollars'
worthofdelicacies:slicedtongue,smokedsalmon,creamy-whiteslicesofsmokedsturgeon
andcrisprolls.Sheboughtasackofcharcoalandmadethefireroar.Shebroughtatrayof
supperintoKatie,thensheandJohnnysatinthekitchenandatetogether.Thehousesmelled
ofwarmth,goodfood,sweetpowderandstrongercandy-likesmellthatcamefromahard
chalkishdiscthatSissyworeinanimitation-silverfiligreeheartonachainaroundherneck.
JohnnystudiedSissyashesmokedanafter-suppercigar.Hewonderedwhatcriterionpeople
usedwhentheyappliedthetags"good"and"bad"totheirfellowmen.TakeSissy.Shewasbad.
Butshewasgood.Shewasbadwherethemenwereconcerned.Butshewasgoodbecause
wherevershewas,therewaslife,good,tender,overwhelming,fun-lovingandstrong-scented
life.Hehopedthathisnewly-borndaughterwouldbealittlelikeSissy.
WhenSissyannouncedthatshewasgoingtostaythenight,Katielookedworriedandsaid
therewasbuttheonebedwhichsheandJohnnyshared.Sissydeclaredthatshewaswillingto
sleepwithJohnnyifhecouldguaranteeherafinebabylikeFrancie.Katiefrowned.Sheknew
Sissywasjokingofcourse.YettherewassomethingtrueanddirectaboutSissy.Shestartedto
giveheralecture.Johnnycutthewholethingshortbysayinghehadtogetovertotheschool.
Hecouldn'tbringhimselftotellKatiethathehadlosttheirjob.Hehunteduphisbrother,
Georgie,whowasworkingthatnight.Fortunately,theyneededanothermantowaitontable
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andsingin-between.Johnnygotthejobandwaspromisedanotherforthefollowingweek.He
driftedbackintothesingingwaiterbusinessandfromthattimeonneverworkedatanyother
job.
SissygotintobedwithKatieandtheytalkedmostofthenightaway.Katietoldofherworry
aboutJohnnyandherfearsofthefuture.TheytalkedaboutMaryRommely;whatagood
mothershewastoEvyandSissyandKatie.Theyspokeoftheirfather,ThomasRommely.
SissysaidhewasanoldripandKatiesaidSissyoughttoshowmorerespect.Sissysaid,"Oh,
fudge!"andKatielaughed.
KatietoldSissyofthetalkshehadhadwiththeirmotherthatday.Theideaofthebankso
fascinatedSissy,thatshegotup-eventhoughitwasthemiddleofthenight-emptiedoutacan
ofmilkintoabowlandmadethebankthenandthere.Shetriedtocrawlintothenarrow
crowdedclosettonailitdownbuthervoluminousnightgowngothertangledup.Shepulleditoff
andcrawlednakedintothecloset.Allofhercouldn'tfitintothecloset.Thelargeluminous
nakedbackendofherstuckoutasshecrouchedonherkneeshammeringthebanktothefloor.
Katiehadsuchafitofgigglingthatshewasafraidshe'dbringonahemorrhage.Theloud
bangingatthreeo'clockinthemorningwoketheothertenants.Theypoundedontheceiling
frombelowandonthefloorfromabove.SissythrewKatieintoanotherspasmofgigglesby
mumblingfromtheclosetthatthetenantshadanerveraisingsucharacketwhentherewasa
sickwomaninthehouse."Howcananybodysleep?"sheasked,givingthelastnailaterrific
bang.
Thebankinplace,sheputonhernightgownagain,startedoffthelandaccountbyputtinga
nickelinthebankandgotbackintobed.ShelistenedexcitedlywhileKatietoldheraboutthe
twobooks:Shepromisedthatshewouldgetthetwobooks;theywouldbeherchristening
presenttothebaby.
FranciespentherfirstnightonearthsleepingsnuglybetweenhermotherandSissy.
Thenextday,Sissysetaboutgettingthetwobooks.Shewenttoapubliclibraryandaskedthe
librarianhowshecouldgetaShakespeareandaBibleforkeeps.Thelibrariancouldn'thelpher
outontheBiblebutsaidtherewasaworn-outcopyofShapespeareinthefiles,abouttobe
discardedwhichSissycouldhave.Sheboughtit.Itwasatatteredoldvolumecontainingallthe
playsandsonnets.Ithadintricatefootnotesanddetailedexplanationsastotheplaywright's
meaning.Therewasabiographyandpictureoftheauthorandsteel-cutengravingsillustrating
scenesfromeachplay.Itwasprintedinsmalltype,twocolumnstothepageonthinpaper.It
costSissytwenty-fivecents.
TheBible,whilealittlehardertocomeby,wascheaperinthelongrun.Infact,itcostSissy
nothing.Ithadaname,
Gideon
,onthefront.
AfewdaysafterbuyingthevolumeofShakespeare,Sissywokeuponemorningandnudged
hercurrentlover,withwhomshewasspendingthenightinaquietfamilyhotel.
"John,"(shecalledhimJohnalthoughhisnamewasCharlie),"what'sthatbookonthe
dresser?"
"ABible."
"AProtestantBible?"
"That'sright."
"I'mgoingtohookit."
"Goahead.That'swhytheyputitthere."
"No!"
"Yeah!"
"Nokidding!"
"Peopleswipeit,readit,reformandrepent.Theybringitbackandbuyanotherone,too,sothat
otherpeoplecanswipe,readandreform.Inthatway,thefirmthatputsoutthebooksloses
nothing."
"Well,here'sonethey'renotgoingtogetback."Shewrappeditupinahoteltowelthatshewas
alsoswiping.
"Say!"AcoldfearenvelopedherJohn."YoumightreaditandreformandthenI'dhavetogo
backtomywife."Heshudderedandputhisarmsaroundher."Promisemethatyouwon't
reform."
"Iwon't."
"Howdoyouknowyouwon't?"
"IneverlistentowhatpeopletellmeandIcan'tread.TheonlywayIknowwhatisrightand
wrongisthewayIfeelaboutthings.IfIfeelbad,it'swrong.IfIfeelgood,it'sright.AndIfeel
goodbeingherewithyou."Shethrewherarmacrosshischestandexplodedakissinhisear.
"Isurewishwecouldgetmarried,Sissy."
"SodoI,John.Iknowwecouldhititoff.Forawhile,anyhow,"sheaddedhonestly.
"ButI'mmarriedandthat'sthehelloftheCatholicreligion.Nodivorce."
"Idon'tbelieveindivorceanyhow,"saidSissywhoalwaysremarriedwithoutthebenefitofa
divorce.
"Youknowwhat,Sissy?"
"What?"
"Yougotaheartofgold."
"Nokidding?"
"Nokidding."Hewatchedhersnaparedsilkgarteroverthesheerlislestockingshehadpulled
upoverhershapelyleg."Giveusakiss,"hebeggedsuddenly.
"Havewetime?"sheaskedinapracticalway.Butshepulledthestockingoffagain.
That'showthelibraryofFrancieNolanwasstarted.
X
FRANCIEwasn'tmuchofababy.Shewasskinnyandhadabluelookanddidn'tthrive.Katie
nursedherdoggedlyalthoughtheneighborwomentoldherthathermilkwasbadforthechild.
FranciewasputonthebottlesoonenoughbecauseKatie'smilkstoppedsuddenlywhenthe
childwasthreemonthsold.Katieworried.Sheconsultedhermother.MaryRommelylookedat
her,sighedbutsaidnothing.Katiewenttothemidwifeforadvice.Thewomanaskedhera
foolishquestion.
"WheredoyoubuyyourfishofaFriday?"
"Paddy'smarket.Why?"
"Youwouldn'tbeafterseeinganoldwomanintherebuyingacodfishheadforhercat,would
younow?"
"Yes.Iseehereveryweek."
"Shedidit!Shedriedupyourmilkonyou."
"Oh,no!"
"Sheputtheeyeonyou."
"Butwhy?"
"Jealoussheisbecauseyou'retoohappywiththatprettyIrishladofyours."
"Jealous?Anoldwomanlikethat?"
"Awitchsheis.Iknewherbackintheoldcountry.Sureanddidn'tshecomeoveronthesame
boatasmeself.WhenshewasyoungshewasinlovewithawildCountyKerryboy.Anddidn't
hegoandgetherthatwayandhewouldn'tgotothepriestwithherwhenheroldfatherwent
afterhim.HeslippedawayonaboatforAmericainthedeadofthenight.Herbabydiedwhenit
wasborn.Thenshesoldhersoultothedevilandhedidgiveherthepowerofdryingupthemilk
ofcowsandnannygoatsandofgirlsmarriedtoyoungboys."
"Iremembershelookedatmeinafunnyway."
"'Twasthensheputtheeyeonyou."
"HowcanIgetmymilkback?"
"I'lltellyouwhatyoumustdo.Waituntilthemoonisfull.Thenmakealittleimageoutofalock
ofyourcurlinghair,acuttingfromyourfinernailandabitofragsprinkledwithholywater.
ChristenitNellyGrogan,andthat'sthewitch'snameandstickthreerustypinsinit.Thatwillsoil
herpoweroveryouandsureyourmilkwillbeflowingagainliketheRiverShannon.Thatwillbe
aquarter."
Katiepaidher.Whenthemoonwasfull,shemadethelittledollandstabbeditandstabbedit.
Sheremaineddry.Franciesickenedonthebottle.Indesperation,KatiecalledSissyinfor
advice.Sissylistenedtothewitchstory.
"Awitchmyfoot,"shesaidscornfully."ItwasJohnnywhodiditanditwasn'twithaneye."
InthatwayKatieknewthatshewaspregnantagain.ShetoldJohnnyandhestartedtoworry.
Hehadbeenfairlyhappybackinthesingingwaiterbusinessandheworkedprettyoften,was
steady,didn'tdrinktoomuchandbroughthomemostofhismoney.Thenewsthatasecond
childwasonthewaymadehimfeeltrapped.HewasonlytwentyandKatiewaseighteen.He
feltthattheywerebothsoyoungandsodefeatedalready.Hewentoutandgotdrunkafterhe
heardthenews.
Themidwifecamearoundlatertoseehowthecharmhadworked.Katietoldherthatthecharm
hadfailedsinceshewaspregnantandthewitchwasnottoblame.Themidwifeliftedherskirt
anddugdownintoacapaciouspocketmadeinherpetticoat.Shebroughtupabottleof
evil-lookingdarkbrownstuff.
"Sureandthereisnothingtoworryabout,"shesaid."Agooddoseofthisnightandmorningfor
threedaysandyou'llcomearoundagain."Katieshookherheadnegatively."You'renotafraid
ofwhatthepriestwouldbesayingtoyouifyoudidit?"
"No.It'sjustthatIcouldn'tkillanything."
"Itwouldn'tbekilling.Itdon'tcountuntilyou'vefeltlife.You'renotafterfeelingitmove,are
you?"
"No."
"There!"sheslammedherfistonthetabletriumphantly."I'llonlybechargingyouadollarforthe
bottle."
"Thankyou,Idon'twantit."
"Don'tbefoolish.You'rejustabitofagirlandhavetroubleenoughwiththeoneyoudobe
havingalready.Andyourmanisprettybutnotthesteadiestboyintheworld."
"Thewaymymanis,ismyownbusinessandmybabyisnotrouble."
"I'monlyaftertryingtohelpyouout"
"Thankyouandgoodbye."
Themidwifereturnedthebottletoherpetticoatpocketandgotuptogo."Whenyourtime
comes,youknowwhereIlive."Atthedoor,shegavealastbitofoptimisticadvice."Ifyoukeep
runningupanddownthestairs,maybeyou'llhaveamiscarriage."
ThatfallinthefalsewarmthofaBrooklynIndiansummer,Katiesatonthestoopandheldher
sicklybabyagainstthebignesswhichwasanotherchildsoontobeborn.Pityingneighbors
stoppedtocommiserateoverFrancie.
"You'llneverraisethatone,"theytoldher."Hercolorain'tgood.IfthegoodLordtakesher,itwill
beforthebest.Whatgoodisasicklybabyinapoorfamily?Thereistoomanychildrenonthis
earthalreadyandnoroomfortheweakones."
"Don'tsaythat,"Katieheldherbabytightly."It'snotbettertodie.Whowantstodie?Everything
strugglestolive.Lookatthattreegrowingupthereoutofthatgrating.Itgetsnosun,andwater
onlywhenitrains.It'sgrowingoutofsourearth.Andit'sstrongbecauseitshardstruggletolive
ismakingitstrong.Mychildrenwillbestrongthatway."
"Aw,somebodyoughttocutthattreedown,thehomelything."
Iftherewasonlyonetreelikethatintheworld,youwouldthinkitwasbeautiful,"saidKatie."But
becausetherearesomany,youjustcan'tseehowbeautifulitreallyis.Lookatthosechildren."
Shepointedtoaswarmofdirtychildrenplayinginthegutter.Youcouldtakeanyoneofthem
andwashhimgoodanddresshimupandsithiminafinehouseandyouwouldthinkhewas
beautiful."
"You'vegotfineideasbutaverysickbaby,Katie,"theytoldher."Thisbabywilllive,"saidKatie
fiercely."I'll
make
itlive."
AndFrancielived,chokingandwhimperingherwaythroughthatfirstyear.
Francie'sbrotherwasbornaweekafterherfirstbirthday.
ThistimeKatiewasnotworkingwhenthepainscame.Thistimeshebitherlipanddidnot
screamoutinheragony.Helplessinherpain,shewascapablestilloflayingthefoundationfor
bitternessandcapability.
Whenthestronghealthyboy,howlingattheindignityofthebirthprocess,wasputtoherbreast.
shefeltawildtendernessforhim.Theotherbaby,Francie,inthecribnextherbed,beganto
whimper.Katiehadaflashofcontemptfortheweakchildshehadborneayearago,whenshe
comparedhertothisnewhandsomeson.Shewasquicklyashamedofhercontempt.Sheknew
itwasn'tthelittlegirl'sfault."Imustwatchmyselfcarefully,"shethought."Iamgoingtolovethis
boymorethanthegirlbutImustn'teverletherknow.Itiswrongtoloveonechildmorethanthe
otherbutthisissomethingthatIcannothelp."
SissybeggedhertocalltheboyafterJohnnybutKatieinsistedthattheboyhadarighttoa
nameallhisown.SissygotveryangryandtoldKatieathingortwo.FinallyKatie,moreinanger
thanintruth,accusedSissyofbeinginlovewithJohnny.Sissyanswered,"maybe,"andKatie
shutup.Shewasalittleafraidthatiftheyquarreledfurther,shewouldfindoutthatitwasso
aboutSissylovingJohnny.
KatiecalledtheboyCorneliusafteranoblecharactershehadseenahandsomeactor
representonthestage.Astheboygrewup,thenamewaschangedintoBrooklyneseandhe
wasknownasNeeley.
Withoutdeviousreasoningorcomplicatedemotionalprocesses,theboybecameKatie'swhole
world.JohnnytooksecondplaceandFranciewenttothebackofhermother'sheart.Katie
lovedtheboybecausehewasmorecompletelyhersthaneitherJohnnyorFrancie.Neeley
lookedexactlylikeJohnny.KatiewouldmakehimintothekindofmanJohnnyshouldhave
been.HewouldhaveeverythingthatwasgoodaboutJohnny;shewouldencouragethat.She
wouldstampoutallofthethingsthatwerebadaboutJohnnyastheycameupintheboy,
Neeley.Hewouldgrowupandshewouldbeproudofhimandhewouldtakecareofherallof
herdays.Hewastheonethatshehadtoseethrough.FrancieandJohnnywouldgetby
somehow,butshewouldtakenochanceswiththeboy.She'dseetoitthathemorethangotby.
Gradually,asthechildrengrewup,Katielostallofhertendernessalthoughshegainedinwhat
peoplecallcharacter.Shebecamecapable,hardandfar-seeing.ShelovedJohnnydearlybut
alltheoldwildworshipfadedaway.Shelovedherlittlegirlbecauseshefeltsorryforher.Itwas
pityandobligationtowardsherthatshefeltratherthanlove.
JohnnyandFranciefeltthegrowingchangeinKatie.Astheboygrewstrongerandhandsomer,
Johnnygrewinweaknessandwentfurtherandfurtherdownhill.Franciefeltthewayher
motherthoughtabouther.Shegrewanansweringhardnessagainsthermotherandthis
hardness,paradoxicallyenough,broughtthemalittleclosertogetherbecauseitmadethem
morealike.
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