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Newspaper Page Text
By Horace Bright.
(Copyright by W. G. Chapman.)
"Sure, Mrs. Flaherty, there he a
child crying in the basement. You can
hear it if yez listen when you be pass
ing," said Mrs. Grady to little Mrs.
Flaherty, the carpenter's wife.
The two women were residents in
the same tenement house in the city.
Sat Beside the Bed in Fear and
It was 'not a squalid part, though the
congestion made it an unhealthy one.
It was clean enough, and Mrs. Fla
herty's deft fingers kept the interior
of her four rooms almost spotless.
But Michael had been out of work for
six weeks, owing to the business de
pression, and cleanliness was about
all that Nora Flaherty could manage.
She could not provide more food for
ttie four hungry little mouths.
Day by day Michael tramped the
streets in search of work. And every
evening the bread and milk somehow
seemed to go less far. The children
were growing thin. Bridget, the old
est, was five, and the rest followed at
regular graduations down to Phil, the
baby of ten months.
"If it wasn't for the children,
Nora," Michael would say wistfully,
"you and me could start out on the
tramp and do chores in the country."
That had always been their longing
a country home. But it seemed
more remote than ever, now that
there were six mouths to feed.
Nora Flaherty listened as she stood
at the entrance to the tenement
house. Sure enough, she heard the
pitiful cry of the child. She had seen
him once a thin little boy of six or
se,ven years. The father was a "Pole.
He drank away his money every Sat
urday night, and returned home mad
with liquor. Then he would beat the
.little boy, who lay neglected all day in
the dark cellar-hke place.
She heard him cry, and the mother
instinct overflowed in her. Softy she
crept down to the basement! It was
quite dark, except for the faint illu
mination from a small, dirty window
near the ceiling- She turned the
handle. The door yielded. Upon the
floor, crouched on a pile of rags, the
little boy lay. He was thin and ema
ciated, and he stared at her in terror,
like a little wild animal.
The good woman's indignation
brought a storm of angry words to
her lips. The child, thinking they were
meant for him, began to whimper
again. Nora hurried upstairs and
stood looking at the remnants of the
loaf of bread and the thin milk in the
pitcher. There was just enough for
that night Perhaps it would go round
if one of them did not eat. And
Nora's appetite was not very large
With a half-guilty manner she cut
a thick slice of bread, poured out a
cupful of milk, and carried the food'
down to the boy in the basement.
When she saw him fall upon the food