OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, December 06, 1913, NOON EDITION, Image 20

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1913-12-06/ed-1/seq-20/

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men bad used up their wits, stiffened
their fingers, and worn out their eyes.
Nonchalantly she mentioned to the
customers the extravagant prices of
these things, amazed no longer at
the thought that there-were women
who could pay for a ball dress what
would keep her and her mother for
almost a year.
On her way home at night, walk
ing for choice along the fine avenues
as far as possible, through a dusk
gemmed with golden lights clustered
before the porticoes of great hotels
and restaurants, she was tormented
constantly with jealousy. She saw,
before canopied doorways, ladies de
scending from their carriages, climb
ing the carpeted steps, their long
trains trailipg after them like tum
bling foam. Doors opened to them,
disclosing the interiors of splendid
houses, and shut .while she looked
longingly. Beyongthe deserted ter
races of restaurants, she perceived,
through long windows, by the aid of
candles lit on snowy tables, white
shoulders, flowers, strands of pearls,
outstretched fingers glittering with
rings vague people moving in an
other world.
She observed also the men who ac
companied these fortunate women.
From observing them, and from the
perusal of stories in magazines and
in novels which she borrowed, she
nade more dreams dreams no less
personal, dreams of the sort which
young girls have. From actual per
ception and from fiction she con
structed the young herox the in
evitable Prince handsome, debonair,
aristocratic, always dressed for the
evening in glistening hat and pumps
and a fur-lined great coat, always, at
the. end of th.e adventures in which
she perceived him, taking her in his
arms.
And yet, walking with burning,
hungry eyes in that fair region, crav
ing intensely all its rare allurements,
mto her mind crept stealthily specu
lative thoughts that she would not, a
j ear before, have tolerated.
Each night, as she opened the door
of the flat, she knew exactly what to
expect. In the little kitchen, the ket
tle boiled on the stove; the tin clock
ticked resonantly on the cupboard
shelf; her mother, in a gingham
apron, stood there preparing supper.
Looking into the "parlor," she could
see the tidy on the table, the work
basket, the earthenware shepherdess
on the mantel-piece, the broad brown
stain on the -ceiling where the water
had leaked through one day, the foot
of the bed looming in the black aper
ture of the little alcove. Night after
night that scene, its insignificant de
tails always the same!
One evening, the monotony of
their existence was broken in a
startling way. There was a rumble
and a crash on the staircase, a clatter
of feet, a woman's screams. Every
one rushed into the halls.
A glass-cutter who lived with his
wife and three small children across
the hall a great brute of a man who
spent his money on liquor as he earn
ed it and every Saturday night ap
peared before his family reeling had
come home drunk, slipped on the last
staircase and fallen down it.
The ambulance surgeon, in a white
suit, came skipping upstairs and ex
amined .him. The fellpw's back was
broken. The surgeon called up his
driver, who appeared with a stretch
er. And Bertha, with a shock of
amazement, recognized in this tall,
bony, blue-coated man the youth
who. in the glassware department
! used to run back and forth between
tables and storerooms. He looked
up, saw her standing on the stairs a
yard from him, and gaped at her as
if petrified.
"You live here " .
"So you've left the store!"
"Six months ago. And you?"
"Still there."
Op his way downstairs, holding
one end of the stretcher, he still
kept gaping up at her in bewilder
ment. Three evenings later he met her
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