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Newspaper Page Text
French peasant boy, who had been
dreadfully wounded. He could not
live. And all the time he was calling
for his mother. You know even ma
ture men do that when they are dy
ing. Their thoughts seem to turn
back . to. the one person who gave
them life and who loved them more
than any one else could love them.
'Maman!' he called all day and all
night 'Maman! Maman! Maman!' It
was the only word he spoke.
"His mother lived somewhere in
the south of France, but we got word
to her. She -was coming to Paris.
She was coming to see her boy be
" fore he died. Ifwas all very irregu
lar, but somehow it had been ar
ranged. Not that there was much
chance of her seeing him until he
"The" journey would occupy her
three days, and he could hardly live
more than 24 hours. Still, the doc
tors did their best to keep him alive
for the old woman's sake, you un
derstand. How I hated it all!
"I hated the hospital more than
ever during those three days." I want
ed the boy to die. He was only one
case in a thousand, and I did not care
anything at all about his old mother,
though of course I pretended to. I
thought all the other nurses felt the
same way. I said as much to one of
them, who had been my friend. She
was a Frenchwoman who had lived
in New York.
V'She looked at me In such a queer,
humiliating way. I thought she was
a hypocrite. She was never friendly
with me again. I was to learn differ
ently afterward I think my heart
needfed to be opened, Godfather.
When she looked' at me like that
" somehow I began thinking of the
Sunday after Philip and I were en-
gaged, when I sat ynder his pew in
' the choir and heard him preach. I
was so happy then, happier than I
had ever been since.
"They "kept the boy just alive, and
- all the while he kept "up his riever
peasing cry, 'Maman! Maman!' It was ;
like the bleating of a kid. I hated
the boy. I could hear his cries- over
in my bed in the nurses' dormitory.
The other nurses seemed to live in
the hope that the old woman would
arrive in time; but I only wanted her
to arrive so that I could shut out that
sound from my ears.
"At last she came a clumsy old
peasant woman, with a big black
,bonnet strapped ' over her head,
rather askew, and a network bag
with a lot of things in it, including
an enormous apple. I don't know
why she brbught that apple. The boy
certainly could not eat it But per
haps It was just the-maternal remem
brance of earlier days. I don't know.
"How I hated her. when I saw her!
Had we been disturbed those three
nights and days, I thought, just for
the sake of this wretched old woman,
a vulgar country type, such as one
saw in the-low quarters of Paris ev
erywhere? Just a sort of old flower
seller, with reddened eyes arid nose,
kneeling beside the bed of the boy.
. '"Maman! Maman!' he was mut
" I am here, my baby,' answered
the old woman. I was more disgust
ed than ever at'the words. Her babyl
That wreck of what had been a
strapping lad! Her baby!
"At the sound of her voice the dy
ing boy's eyes opened and fixed
themselves on her face. He recog
nized her. T am content!' he whft-
Lperqd. . ' f
"And tnere was sucn supreme Hap
piness in the .boy's eyes that I forgot
my hatred and the evil in my -heart.
But when I looked at the old wom
an's face I saw there something th&t
opesned my heart at last, Godfather.
It was just the purest and most un
selfish maternal love that I had ever
imagined. She leaned over him and
closed the dead eyes.
"And when she looked up again
she was just the old peasant woman.
It was as if a veil had been with
drawn for a few moments to show
me what life was, how beautiful it