In the beginning there was
Willie's 'father. Then came Wil
lie's mother, and then came Wil
lie. -In the years since the begin
ning, howver, Willie's father
eliminated himself from the situ
ation but his absence became a
palpable factor in the affairs of
Willie and his mother, and he was
indeed gone but not forgotten.
So there is only Willie and his
mother, and they are in a stuffy
room far above the street, lighted
by one narrow window through
which brick walls and smoke
clouds may be seen.
Willie's mother is lying on the
ragged bed in the corner of the
room, and the half light which
succeeds in getting past the high
walls and the smoke reveals her
motionless, save as her pale fea
tures may writhe with some
spasm of pain.
Willie, seated at the table
munching his bread, thought of
the mother who had lavished'up
on him everything that a heart
full of unselfish devotion could
provide out of a meager possibil
ity. They had lived together for
many, many years, it seemed to
Willie. He remembered that a
very long time ago she had re
ceived a letter from somewhere
which must have contained some
thing very sad, for she had cried
over it rrfany times.
Once one of the neighbors had
inquired of old Mrs. Brisbin the
cause of the trouble that had
come to Willie's mother.
",0h, nuthinj much," the Wom
an had said harshly. "Her ole
.man's quit 'er, I guess."
Willie had "but vague recollec
tions of the "ole man," too vague
to have a place in his thoughts
as he saw that his mother was
It seemed peculiar to Willie
that hi mother should be sick.
Since he could remember she had
never complained of illness. True
that in the cold morning, when
the frost was thick on the win-
dows; he had sat up in bed and
had seen his mother cease in her
efforts to kindle the fire in their
rickety stove, and, rocking to and
fro, her hands clasped about her
knees, cry silently and bitterly.
Then he had crawled from the
bed and hopped over to where she
sat on the cold floor before the
stove, and, putting his arms)
around her, had inquired the
cause of her tears.
"It's only the rheumatiz,.
dearie," she had always said, and
together they had crept back into
the bed, while the fire exerted its
puny force against the cold which
hung drearily upon everything in'
the room. But she was sick, and
she lay on the bed with the com
forter drawn tight around her.
breast, and as he looked at her a
great and awful dread arose in
his throat and choked him. He'
crept up silently and put his arms,
aver her. She drew his head
down to her own and kissed him
again and again. That iouch of
tenderness opened the flood gates
of his grief, and he sobbed and
"There, there, dearie mamma
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