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Newspaper Page Text
SATURDAY, JAN. 1, 1021.
derstand. I answered and she didn't know what I
said. Just the same we understood each other.
Weren't we both of us women? Weren't we both
of us carrying home heavy bundles and we were
both going to sew all night and with us our child
ren so that we could eat. Where would I have been
but for her? She called to her friends. They
gathered, about me. They to ok her bundle between
them. She lifted me to my feet My bundle she
put on her head. In this way I got home.
"Then you were- born, Morris. Each baby
what a worry. You remember, Reba come close
to me you were my only help, you helped wash
and dress the new babies. You were the only one
there to hand me a cup of water.
"How hard papa worked in those days.
Winter's mornings he would crawl out before the
light, bent down like an old man he would stir
around making himself tea. Coughing, always
coughing I could hear him come up the stairs
nights. His cough came ahead of him and when
he left I could hear it going off in the distance.
He would wipe his mouth with a rag. and I would
see him looking at it. I knew what he was looking
for. How many went that way! What with the
long hours and little food. And then he would look
at me and the children. We would sit there and
the spectre of death would stand between us. Fear
went to bed with us, and fear got up with us.
"Was it a wonder that babies got sick? Was
it any wonder they died? Oh, it is a bitter thing
to go through the pain of bearing and then the
pain of losing. But there is a bitterer thing yet
and that is when they die that you should be glad
for their sake."
Pain stopped his mother's speech. There was
silence. Throughout the room a little sound only
broke it Reba crying softly to herself. She
seemed remote and lonely in her fashionable plain
Memories flowed past Morris as she talked.
He remembered a dank tenement house. When you
opened the door foul air rushed out past you like
an evil animal. He remembered the tide of pants
mounting so high that when you went into the
room you thought of pants first and human beings
last. Pants every where and his mother's fingers
flying as though driven by fear while he sat and
played beside her with spools on a string. Snatches
of talk went on over his head of underpay, of the
cost of thread. The older children were at work
beside her and if he cried, Reba hushed him. His
mother never seemed to hear. Often he crawle
into the hallway and out into the odorous street.
She spoke again: "I would sew and sew. Thftj
children would sicken before my eyes. Their ma
would beat upon my heart. I could not stop to tend
to them. My hands could not stop work. The
others must eat. Once when father was out rf
work, the baby lay dying. I knew it, I had s
his blue lips. There were eight more pants to
finish 'When these are done, I'll take him ntf
I thought. I finished the work and I looked aionnd.
He lay still. I went to him. Dead, dead. I had not
stopped work even for death."
Again she spoke.
"You remember, Reba how you would pick
bastings and pick bastings siting on your BUh
stool. You would nod asleep. How many times have
I waked you up, jogging you with my foot. Earn
many times have I thought 'Must I bring
children into the world to livo in a dark hole, to
work almost before they can walk, o ily that they
may have a crust of bread to Th it was thrt
time when clothes were made of the blood awi
bones of men and women and children. Toracfltf
went into the making of clothes
"Oh, the long years, one after the other likr
that Oh, the long years!
"I remember when your papa just joined a
union. 'You will lose your job', I said. I was fright
ened. I didn't understand."
He would explaim " 'There is city full waa
suffer like us. Not a few. Hundred and hundred
hundred and hundreds the shop full of gurh
and women speeding their lives away. Thousand
and thousands and thousands living like us. Wfc
will help us if we don't. No Moses will come to feat
us from this bondage.'
"Strikes one after another and the men scab
bing on each other because of misery and hunfjar
'You're a fool,' Mose Stich said to papa "flow
can you -organize an industry like ours? There1
too much labor; the people are too wretched. Yea's
be out of work all the time.'
"When the boys and papa began bringtof
tiome good money and the hours grew shorty
what a pleasure 1 1 could look with joy on Moe and
Henry! These boys can go to school, they caa
"Sometimes when I would hear the chMwa)
talking that women were making twenty and
thirty a week, T am dreaming,' I would think. Bad
the union grew and grew. Do you know howf