The Outcast Manufacturers

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited Mr. X

B.W. Dodge and Company


      "GO 'long with you!" Mrs. Tunnan was saying-- her pink wrapper, with prints of pebbles in the back-- Mrs. Tunnan slept on the roof sometimes-- her large nostrils, like pebbles of a tarred roof. "'Tis a way I have of pinching me cheeks that males me so handsome, Mr. Birtwhistle." Silent, staring infant held in one arm. Mrs. Tunnan stepping to the mirror and pinching her cheek with her free hand. "Me cheeks was always so-- Lord save us, girl!" to Miss Emma Dunphy; "you're a ghost! you haven't an ounce of blood in your body. Whoever had the bringing up of you must have starved you!"
      "I eats everything," said Katie.
      "Indeed, ma'am," replied Emma, flaring, "whoever had the bringing up of me fed me and taught me manners, too!"
      "Must of starved you," Mrs. Tunnan continued placidly. "Yes, me cheeks was always so, and I've never lost me blush like some after a few years in this country. When you don't feed a child she's never any good to you, when she's grown, but always that pale and sickly. Come in here, Ida!"
      The little Tunnan girl-- matronly in front, her mother's apron from her waist to the floor; but a short-skirted, little girl behind-- came into the room shyly, a finger in her mouth, eyes down, glancing around covertly; no longer with a friendly little way, but as if awed by people who had suddenly become important.
      "So we couldn't pay yer rent?" said Mrs. Tunnan. " 'Tis very little, and was you much of a man. you'd scrape up that much, Mr. Birtwhistle, but you're too fond of the sofa, upon your back, and the pussy-cat on your boozum. But, sure, 'tis a thing like enough to happen anybody. Ye were after telling Mrs. Maheffy at the door, Mr. Birtwhistle?"
      "How well Mrs. Maheffy stays away from us!" said Mrs. Birtwhistle bitterly. "'Tis very neighborly of you, Mrs. Tunnan. Here's the letter we got from the McKickers."
      Mrs. Tunnan, the infant head downward under her arm, reading the letter.
      "This is? This letter a dispossess? Ho! ho!"
      Katie Dunphy, not knowing in the least what was laughable, struck up her shouting laugh:
      "Ho! ho!"
      "'Tis not worth the paper it's written on, woman."
      "Have you ever known of any dispossess cases, Mrs. Tunnan?"
      "I'd not say that, Mrs. Birtwhistle, but I've had a wee hit experience, and knows the wee bit about dispossess cases. Sure, the old divils is writing you this to save expenses. It costs from two-fifty to eight dollars for the regular notice, according to the fees of the marshal, and the marshal's men. You know, Mrs. Birtwhistle, the landlord has to put everything out in the street, in perfect order, or you can collect on him. 'Tis often a good plan, Mr. Birtwhistle, to loosen up the back of a mirror or some such thing on him, so 'twill fall out, and make a little for ye to start life anew on."
      "I'd hate to have our things put out in the street," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "I wonder if we couldn't furnish the rooms on the instalment plan, just to be dispossessed in good style, you know. Sim, I like to have a little style about me always, you know. If we could get in some nice bureaus, and a parlor suite, and a brass bed to go out stylishly with, I wouldn't mind so much. What becomes of the furniture, then, Mrs. Tunnan? You seem to know."
      "Sure"-- rather less deliberately-- "I know very little of them cases, except if you don't move your furniture, the Bureau of Encumbrances moves it for you."
      "Well"-- as if reluctantly-- "to the City Yard. I only knows what I've heard. 'Tis only hearsay with me. But you must go down and see about it."
      "See who, and go where?"
      "This is the Eighth District, so you must go down to the Eighth District Court-- Twenty-third Street, isn't it? I don't be sure. Some one was telling me. Sure, all I know is what I read in the papers, but if you have childer, and tell his Honor a very sad story-- faith, Mr. Birtwhistle can think up a sad story without trouble for you, ma'am."
      "It's the going away that troubles me," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "We can't pay the rent, but we must certainly have some money to leave stylishly. Sim, we'll need-- there are seven of us-- we'll need three cabs, at least, and that will be crowding some--"
      "You talk like a fool!" angrily from Mrs. Birtwhistle. "Oh, I can see everything'll be just the same! You'll learn nothing from this. Go on, Mrs. Tunnan."
      "Ye can get a week's time from his honor. That, together with the expenses ye bring on them, puts you where you can go up to the old divils and say: 'Would you pay me ten dollars to move out immediate and orderly?' 'I'd see ye in blazes first!' 'Ye would, and small blame to you; but would two dollars be asking your honor too much to dispossess meself immediate?' 'That's more like it; now be a nice man and don't make no disturbance, and here's a dollar down, and the rest when your things is safe out on the sidewalk.' Anyway," said Mrs. Tunnan, "it comes to me, like a dream, I've heard somewheres of some such agreements. Let ye not worry, but take your time, and, was I in your place, I'd hold out for five but take three dollars, which won't go far to starting life anew for you, but will pay for the bit of celebrating over it. Come here, Ida, you divil! Take your hand out of your mouth. Cry, Ida!" An awkward and awed little girl. "Cry, you divil, for the ladies and gentlemen," slapping her hands, clumsily holding the infant head downward. "Would you cry, you divil? I want to show the ladies and gentlemen how you can do it. For, sure, Mrs. Birtwhistle, Looey is that distressful over what has happened ye. 'A man like that come to this!' he says. 'I wish to Gawd I could come to his assistance. I have no money,' says poor Looey-- Mrs. Birtwhistle, you'd feel for him, the way it's took him, what's happened you. 'I have no money,' he says, stamping up and down the house like one gone mad. 'Not a thing to pawn, or I'd do so and glad to, for they're not common people downstairs that's brought to such a pass. Lord 'a 'mercy on me, why haven't I got the money for them? Then, Lizzie, I tell you what to do. Lizzie,' says poor Looey, let ye go down to them and say, silver and gold have I none,' is Looey's own words, 'but me own flesh and blood I offer you glad and freely!' Then, Mrs. Birtwhistle, Looey sends me down to offer you his two flesh and bloods to go down to the Eighth District Court, and, for all his honor knows, they're your own, and you're a poor widdy. Ida, ye divil, remember the words! At 'poor widdy lady' ye rubs yer eyes with your fist; or if she says the old man is in the hospital, ye holler. Cry, Ida, and show the ladies and gentlemen how you can do it-- ain't the childer the obstinate things! But she'll cry something piteous for you when the time comes, Mrs. Birtwhistle. Are you accepting of Looey's offer?"
      "Oh, Mrs. Tunnan, I'm very much obliged to you, and it's so good of you to come down to us-- how well Mrs. Maheffy, and her we've known the longer, keeps mighty still and away from us! But--"
      "Us? Me? My wife plead in a public courtroom? Birtwhistle, my wife, do such a thing? Mrs. Tunnan, I have no doubt your husband means well, and I thank him for that-- I never take offense where offense is not meant-- I'm not angry at him, but that is too much! Don't think I blame you, Mrs. Tunnan. It's meant very kind of you-- but my wife, Mrs. Birtwhistle! Go back to your husband, Mrs. Tunnan, and tell him that he little understands Mr. Birtwhistle's character; Mr. Birtwhistle, who, to all appearances, may, indeed, be far down in the world, but who, even now, even as you see him at this disastrous moment, has a name to live up to; that must be preserved in its integrity; a name, even now, known from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunny shores of California; known as the name of the president of the Universal Manufacturing Company-- that a name to be dragged into the mire of publicity, to be held up to the public and jeering gaze of a police court? I am a little excited, perhaps, but no, no, Mrs. Tunnan; so long as I have comparative youth, perseverance and industry, I can still hope to restore that name to its honorable position of commercial importance!"
      "My!" said Sim admiringly, "he's a great speaker."
      "My dear," said Mr. Birtwhistle, "I wish you would remind me, to-night, to cut my toe- nails; they have the toes of my socks destroyed."
      "Well, 'tis none of my offering," said Mrs. Tunnan stolidly-- her nose wriggling, however-- vertical nostrils like soles of a squirming fairy. "'Twas Looey sent me. Lord sake, girl, why don't You brush your hair? You're a fright you are, indeed! 'Tis your sister, is the other lady?-- and the big, round face of her! Did ye trim yer hair different, girl, yer face'd be the less like a platter. Come, Ida!"
      "Indeed," said Emma, when the good woman had gone, " 'tis not much you're losing by leaving this house. I'd platter-face her! I should of told her her own child was the starved-looking creature!"
      Mr. Tunnan could not have been far away. Mr. Tunnan in the doorway:
      "Oh, Mr. Birtwhistle. You may go a long distance before anybody's offering you anything again." Mr. Tunnan seizing the door-knob and slamming the door-- throwing open the door: "Well, I'll not put myself in such a position again, Mr. Birtwhistle! I'm only sorry I laid myself open to be insulted by you. You'll never hear of me offering you anything else, Mr. Birtwhistle." Slamming the door-- opening the door so as to slam it again: "That's all right, Mr. Birtwhistle!"
      "I'm afraid I've insulted him," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "I don't care, except that I don't want to offend anybody. Wasn't I right, Delia? My wife appear and plead in a public courtroom? Impossible! If you are nothing else, always remember that you are Mrs. Birtwhistle, and I always expect you to carry yourself with dignity, accordingly. I was right!"
      "'Indeed, Mrs. Tunnan,"' said Emma, "is what I had a right to say, 'if it comes to signs of starvation, you needn't look any farther then what you're carrying in your own arms!' is what I had a right to tell her."
      "Delia," said Mr. Birtwhistle, "of course, what I say is true, under ordinary circumstances, but, on the whole, after more mature thought, you know, is it such a bad idea? You wouldn't have to say much. Just have the children with you. They could just look piteous, you know. I think if you went up and spoke to the Tunnans--"
      "Then, indeed and you'll wait a long time for me to go up and humble myself to them, you would that! Oh, if that isn't too low-down and groveling for me! What can one think of you? When you spoke before, I did say you always was a fool, but, in a way, I did admire you for it-- I wouldn't have much to say? Just have the children with me? Then here's for you, and understand it now, and forever: there'll be no children go anywhere with me; nor anybody else, unless Katie and Emma want to come with me; but the longest day of my life, I'm through with you now and forever, Mr. Birtwhistle, the honorable, commercial Mr. Birtwhistle. When I can't stay to look up to you, in any possible way, I couldn't stay to look down at you. Where's newspapers, Katie? Where's cord, Emma? I did think to at least see this trouble through with him, but not now, but my few poor belongings into a bundle! Will you come with me, Katie? Are you coming, Emma, or do you want him to come crawling to you to go take children down to a court and plead for him?"
      "A little more of that!" cried Mr. Birtwhistle. "Now, just a little more like that!"
      "Asbury, you and I'd better clear out!" said Sim, laughing, turning to buffoonery, pretending to protect his bead, unable to recognize a serious quarrel.
      Miss Guffy coming excitedly into the room, closing the door behind her, holding up her hand, opening the door to look out, again closing the door and holding up her hand. Sim laughing: "Better stay out! dangerous in here! fur flying!"
      "Guffy, help me pack! Help me pack! What have I to pack, with all belonging to me in the pawnshops? To pack, is it? But, Guffy, I'm through with that man, I hate and despise, forever! His pride, Guffy? But lets his wife do all his mean acts for him! There's a wood box down the street. Does he bring it in for firewood, like a man? No; but it's 'Delia, if you hurry, you can get a good box down the street-- hurry up, Delia!'"
      "Oh, Birt, are you as bad as that?" said Sim jokingly.
      "I wouldn't!" said Asbury Parker, shaking his head at Sim.
      "Oh, the Lord between us and harm, and I left ye so united when I went away! And now what's ailing you? What's happened you? But, whist!-- but let ye not fall out, now, of all times!"
      "The last place we were in, Guffy, he wouldn't climb down the fire escape to pick up a whole half-pound of butter, and butter at thirty-two cents the pound, that had dropped down by accident. He wouldn't, would he? but sends his wife down! That's his pride, Guffy!"
      "Oh, shame on you, Birt!" cried Sim banteringly.
      "You needn't holler; that's all!" said Mr. Birtwhistle. "Got a match, Sim? Anybody got a match? You needn't let the whole United States hear you?"
      "Would you drive me distracted? Would you have me drop out of me standing?" screamed Miss Guffy. "But wait!"-- mysteriously. "Ah, let ye be good friends again! Ah, let there be a song. Honor o' God, let ye be good friends!" Miss Guffy running to the phonograph, starting a comic song upon it. "There, now! let us all be the good friends and sing a bit of a song together!"
      "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! Do you hear me? I hate you and only married you out of pity! God save me, I hate you with all my heart and soul, but once I pitied you I Don't go out, Asbury. And you'll catch cold, sitting with your back to the windows so. I suppose you don't know what to make of me, Mr. Rakes?"
      "You're a very common person," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "It is to be noticed that the common people never have any control over their emotions. I hope you'll never hate anybody like I have always hated you. Sim, I should say that the distinguishing trait of unenlightened people--"
      "Oh, say, now, Birt, you know-- if you keep quiet, you know-- I mean that I'm not interfering, but you go too far, you do!"
      Rattling good song pealing out from the phonograph; jolly, good song; merriest of comic songs!
      "Common? Common? Then I never was before I met you! And if I am, what are you? Two years of schooling! I've had seven! Everything you know you say yourself you've picked up from your own reading."
      "So much the more credit to me."
      "Oh, say, Birt, I'm not interfering, but--"
      "Indeed, I don't see what else you are, with two miserable years only. Never made a decent living! I go out now to support myself. You never did anything for me but bring me down to poverty and misery. I at least had good clothes and money in my pockets before I met you."
      "Ain't it terrible!" said Emma to Katie. "She has a right to let him alone, when he's willing to stop."
      Merriest of rollicking songs bellowed in the phonograph's jovial, husky tones.
      "Make things worse!" said Mr. Birtwhistle. "Keep right on! Go on! Beautiful voice she has! That beautiful voice!"
      "There'll be no more voice, Birt. I've had my say. I'm sorry if that voice has been such a torment to you, but you'll never be annoyed by it again. I don't wish you no harm, but there's nothing to pack, and now I'm going. You can have everything. I wouldn't touch a thing belonging to you--"
      "Ah, won't you hush? You won't hush, will you? And me trying to tell you what I have for you-- here's fifteen dollars!" said Miss Guffy.
      "Guffy! where'd you get it? It's in bills, Guffy! It's too late, now, for all of me. Give it to him. I'm going. I hate! I hate! I hate and despise him!"
      "Ah, she does nothing of the kind! Don't believe her, Mr. Birtwhistle; she do but need a little coaxing. Here's the money-- on your life don't go paying any now! Mind what I bid you! To-morrow, go up to the office, and let on a friend loaned you, and pay five down, and promise the rest later. Don't pay the fifteen to once, and get change--"
      The door was opened.
      Mr. McKicker came into the room-- head projecting forward from round shoulders; chin so far down on breast of frock coat that neither collar nor necktie was visible."Good-evening, gentlemen and ladies-- oh, pardon me!"-- hands clasping below chin, and head in a bobbing bow-- "I should say ladies first!"
      Mrs. McKicker! Mrs. McKicker, tall m a column of a Greek temple seen from a distance-- tiff gray dress with perpendicular flutings-- hatless Mrs. McKicker; her gray hair in opposite scrolls upon her forehead, like the volutes of an Ionic capital.
      With a harsh, grating and masculine sound, Mrs. McKicker cleared her throat "Come in, Mr. Humphries!" A gray helmet, the blue and the brass of a burly, young policeman.
      "Even if some one hadn't seen her come out of the room, there's the money in her hand," said Mrs. McKicker---"hem!" harshness and grating.
      "Oh, may God forgive you for saying such a thing!" cried Miss Guffy-- the vermilion waist of Miss Guffy; skirt of green, spotted with yellow. "What should I be doing in your rooms? And locked! How could I be in rooms never unlocked?"
      Tall Mrs. McKicker, hands behind her, inclining her face down toward Miss Guffy, making a double chin at one side of her chin. "The strangest thing! I have always been so careful! Here, what I have expected, some day, has happened, on the only occasion I ever relaxed."
      "May the Lord forgive you, Mrs. McKicker! What should I be doing in your rooms? Could I break down your doors? Have I keys like a locksmith?" Policeman leaning against one side of the doorway, his club making a slanting bridge, slanting up from him to the other side of the doorway-- policeman leaning and chewing gum. The Birtwhistles and the Dunphy sisters hovering, huddling at one side of the stove-- Mr. McKicker silent and smiling at the other side of the stove-- Sim and Asbury Parker sitting on the sofa.
      Miss Guffy had snatched back the money, and stood Sim's table and the stove, vermilion arms hugging; a crumpled bill in each hand. "Oh, Mrs. McKicker, you'll be sorry for this! What should I be doing in your rooms?"
      "Really the strangest thing!" said Mrs. McKicker, with hands behind her; neck folds at one side of her chin. Policeman turning and facing the interior of the room; club in both bands behind him; idly tapping his shoulder-blades with the club. "Oh, merciful heavens!" from Mrs. Birtwhistle, who seemed to be the most badly frightened. The Dunphy sisters huddling together, backing together toward the east window.
      "I done it," said Miss Guffy, unfolding her arms in her listless, hopeless, indifferent way. "I admit I done it," holding the money out in her hands and looking at it. "What's more, I don't deny I done it. Would you be making trouble for me, Mr. McKicker? Sure, how could you, when it was meant to pay you back with? You would of got it back, Mr. McKicker; that is what it was for."
      Mr. McKicker, with a hand upon each lapel of his long coat, smiling and silent.
      "Ah, be your own noble self, Mr. McKicker! Would you have me sent away? I'm asking you, Mr. McKicker! Ah, be your own noble self."
      "Surely you'll be satisfied to get your money back!" said Mrs. Birtwhistle-- Mr. Birtwhistle standing with his arms folded, as if he were a disinterested spectator-- Sim speaking excitedly to Asbury Parker. "It's not costing you anything," continued Mrs. Birtwhistle. "Surely you'll be satisfied and not hound a poor woman. She wouldn't harm a fly, Mrs. McKicker, and 'twas all done for us, and not for herself, at all. You wouldn't have the heart, Mrs. McKicker!"
      "I want to know," said the policeman, "if you're putting up a holler, ma'am?"
      "Oh, are we making a charge?" asked smiling Mr. McKicker.
      "Ah, Mr. McKicker, be your own noble self! I done it! I don't deny I done it, but be your own noble self!"-- Miss Guffy's hands to her eyes; the money dropping.
      Sim picking up the money, holding it out toward Mrs. McKicker, but then handing it to the policeman, who shrugged his shoulders, pointed to the nearest table, and then swished his club at the legs of children who were crowding in the doorway. People in the hall; people on the stoop, looking in the window; Sim going to both windows and drawing down the shades.
      "What's more," said Mrs. McKicker, "I think you'd better take the whole lot when the wagon comes." General masculinity; nevertheless her shoulders fluttering a little. "At least, this man here. This man was in the act of taking the money when we came in here. I make a charge of receiving stolen money against him."
      "Such lavishness!" said Mr. McKicker humorously. "You'll not leave me any tenants at all!"
      "This man, anyway, Mr. Humphries; he's got a bad record."
      A shrill cry from Mrs. Birtwhistle. "Arrest him? You would? I guess not! Not while I've got one breath left in my body! Run, Birt! Out the window, Birt!"-- throwing herself upon the policeman; arms about the policeman's arms, at his elbows, causing him to drop his club-- "Run, Birt! nobody shall harm you! Run! run! run!" Policeman succeeding in thrusting her from him, only to have her bound back; breaking one grasp about his body, only to be encircled anew; desperate policeman backing toward the hall, waving out white-gloved hands, like a flight of doves against his blue bulk-- Mrs. Birtwhistle throwings rings of arms about him; one ring snapping, only to clutch in another ring. "Is he gone, Sim? Run, Birt! No one shall harm you while I live!"
      The policeman stood still. "Well, are you getting tired?" To Sim he said: "Oh, the weaker sex, hey? Oh, yes, very!" He breathed hard and chewed gum-- Mrs. Birtwhistle clinging to his belt-- "Birt, you didn't run!"
      "Come here, my dear!"-- Mr. Birtwhistle and Sim rescuing the resigned and passive policeman-- "I guess there won't be any arresting of anybody." Mrs. Birtwhistle led back to the soft, clinging to Mr. Birtwhistle, panting, closely watching the policeman, who was smoothing down his coat with one hand, and with the other feeling his collar.
      "Yes, arrest me!" Miss Guffy was screaming. "I'm guilty! I must be arrested! I will be arrested! Officer, it's your duty to arrest me. Aren't you going to arrest me? Then I'll go up to the station-house and report you. I done it; I will be arrested!"
      "Well, then, if she will insist--" began Mr. McKicker.
      "Oh, you call yourself a man!" cried Mrs. Birtwhistle, darting toward him. "You a man! I'd slap your face for you, good and hard for you, if the policeman wasn't here. Oh, Katie and Emma, see what calls itself a man!" Mr. McKicker smiling, leaning back against the mantelpiece, holding the lapels of his coat. "Emma, Katie, I'd show him, if I was half the man I'd like to be, for one minute only-- don't you cause any trouble, Sim! Birt, don't you stir! Sit down, Sim! Birt, I beg of you, I beseech of you, Birt, don't say a word. For God's sake, Birt, don't you interfere."
      "Be still, Sim!" Mr. Birtwhistle was saying. "You're only making things worse by that kind of talk."
      "There's no worse about it," said Mrs. McKicker, turning to leave the room. "I want that woman arrested."
      "Yes, arrest me! I'd go myself, anyway. Officer, you've got to arrest me, or I'll put in a complaint about you. But you'll give me time to put on my hat, won't you?"
      "Take your time! take your time, lady," said the policeman, still feeling his collar, and wriggling his neck to have the collar set right.
      "My good shoes!" Miss Guffy was sobbing. "Emma, if he can only wait for me to put on my good shoes-- ah, they're gone-- everything's gone."
      "And I'll ride up to the station-house with you", said Mrs. Birtwhistle.
      "No!"-- Birtwhistle's hand upon her arm.
      "Yes, I will, and indeed and certainly I will! And we'll do all in human power for you, dear. Don't you worry, for we'll get you bailed out in five minutes, and have a lawyer for you the first thing in the morning. Indeed, I will, or, if I can't go in the wagon, I'll run up all the way.
      The Miss Dunphys, awed and silent, helping to put on Miss Guffy's hat, pinning several thicknesses of veil over her face. Mrs. McKicker had left the room; out in the hall, the sound of her heels marking each determined step-- Mr. McKicker detaching himself from the mantelpiece, following her; his hands flat upon his collar-bone, finger-tips touching-his head in a bobbing bow over the flat hands. "Good-evening, ladies and gentlemen!"
      The sound of a gong outside; the grating of wheels against the curbstone.
      "Well, then, are you ready, lady?" asked the policeman, stepping to the mirror and twitching his collar.
      "No," said Mr. Birtwhistle again. He held Mrs. Birtwhistle's arm.
      Front hall crowded; people all the way up the stairs. A woman, halfway up, exclaiming: "The cheek she has to bring a cop in here!" A man saying to a woman: "You keep quiet. Don't you go mixing in this." A girl to another girl: "That was Eddie Hogan you seen me speaking to; he was my first sweetheart."
      Policeman and Miss Guffy coming from the front, east door; Guffy holding up her head, behind the thick veil, saying: "How do you do, Mrs. Schufelt?" In the street, another policeman, with his club, opened a gantlet from the stoop to the patrol wagon. Miss Guffy seeming to cling for protection to the first policeman, saving to him: "That's going to be a fine new schoolhouse down the street." A top-floor woman running down the stoop, saying: "Let's run up, and we can see her when she gets out."
      The gong. A whip slashing.
      Back in the front, east room, Mr. Birtwhistle, rushing from windows to blue curtains, was shouting: "Where's my hat? Where's my coat? Have you seen my collar, Sim?"
      "I'll go up, but you won't leave one step!" cried Mrs. Birtwhistle.
      "Oh, cusses!" exclaimed Mr. Birtwhistle, sitting down. "Somebody ought to go up! Somebody ought to be there and see what's the charge. Somebody ought to be there to show her she ain't without friends. Oh, cusses! somebody!"
      "But not you, Birt! I won't let you out of my sight. I'll go. Why not? Can't I? Can't you let me go? Sim, will you go, and promise me faithfully not to say one word to Mr. McKicker?"
      "Asbury's already gone!" said awed and frightened Katie. "Oh, Emma, ain't it terrible! Asbury's gone on the run."
      "How could she do it!" cried Mrs. Birtwhistle. "How could she dare do it! I'd no more go into anybody's rooms! And she was always predicting something evil for me, but now got it herself-- why did she ever do such a thing!"
      "I can't do anything, Sim," said Mr. Birtwhistle. "There's no use talking of my getting a lawyer."
      "But you might ask Mr. Maloney to go bail for her."
      "I can't, my dear; I can't ask favors from anybody."
      "You've been going there long enough. I hope no one'll think we put her up to that! You see what she's done? She's made it look as if we had something to do with it. How could she be so wicked! Oh, well, so long as we have peace and unity at home, that is the main thing--"
      "Of course, we have our little spats at times, but that's nothing."
      "A word now and then, but any married couple's apt to have a word at times. All I say is, I don't want any quarreling now, Birt. We must get out, but we'll stick just as close together. What will become of us all, I don't know? We'll get out to-morrow, and get out decently, not making no trouble, but as if we didn't care in the least about it-- but ,Mrs. Maheffy, won't get my tables. She needn't think she'll profit any by us! How well she hasn't come near us! Birt, I'm not in the least prejudiced, and there's good and bad of all kinds, but I never knew a Far-down that didn't have that streak in them. If we have to tramp the streets, we'll leave as if we didn't care, and stick together."
      "I like to hear a woman talk that way," said Sim; "that's the right spirit."
      "Oh, mercy!" from Katie; "I've knocked over a cup of salt!"
      "How could you be so careless?" cried Emma excitedly.
      "What's the difference?" asked Sim.
      "Oh, dear! how could you!" cried Mrs. Birtwhistle.
      "Why?" asked Sim.
      "Oh, dear! that means bad luck's coming!" and, "Well, what are you laughing at?" to Sim and Mr. Birtwhistle.
      The angrily shouted oaths of the paralytic upstairs; the roof over his head leaked, but it was a roof. Scrambling and squeaking of mice; but the mice had nests behind the baseboards. Sounds throughout the house of people, who, for at least a month, were safe; the throbbing of a washboard, some one jumping on firewood.
      "What I had a right to tell her," Emma was saying, "was that she might be plump enough herself, but look at her miserable, skinny little husband--"
      Slight knock on the door-- door flying open-- Mrs. Maheffy coming into the room-- Mrs. Maheffy broad, in black, and flecked with the infant.
      "Oh, my dears!"-- Mrs. Maheffy running to the sofa and sitting-- "oh, my heart! Hold the child for me, Mr. Rakes. My heart! how it is going! I'm not the bit of use where's any excitement! Do you see how my hand is going? I couldn't hold it out straight to save me! Oh, my heart! I feel faint! Stay with Mr. Rakes, baby; mamma's not a bit of use with all this excitement!
      "And what are you going to do, to say nothing about what is all this about Miss Guffy? And she done it, all right! Well, I'm not one of these 'told you so's!' Just the same she done it, all right!
      "But I want ye all to come up to supper with me. That's what I've been about till I could come down to invite ye. There's a nice hot supper waiting, and the places laid for the lot of ye. There's cots to accommodate ye. The Maheffy-s ne'er went back on man, woman or child they were e'er friends with. 'Tis not warm to-day and cold to-morrow with the Maheffys, but true to your friends in their hour of trouble. Then let the lot of yez come up and stay with me, and welcome to all I own in the world, till yez can start up again for yerselves. Me rooms, and storage for your furniture, Mrs. Birtwhistle, me purse to the last that's in it, me provisions for the winter, all me belongings, and all the warmth of me heart I offer ye all, or freely and gladly share with ye!"
      "Oh, Mrs. "Maheffy--"
      "Come up! You're heartily welcome!"
      "Mrs. Maheffy--" began Mrs. Birtwhistle, her voice shaking.
      "Not a word from ye, but up with the lot of ye! Up to me own rooms and me own heart, ye divils!" Her arms out, shooing them into a bunch, shooing the bunch from the door. "Let yez all come up!"-- shooing them to the stairs, and then crowding up, with the bunch, so as to get to her door first, and throw open the door, and cry: "Ye're most heartily welcome, the lot of yez!"

Next Chapter


B.W. Dodge and Company (1909) edition:

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Pearson's Magazine (American Edition) version:

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5

The Pearson's version can be resumed at chapter 9 of the Dodge edition.

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